This is such an amazing song and a great reminder that everything that God makes is beautiful. In the very beginning when God created all the universe, He “looked over all he had made, and he saw that it was very good!” (Genesis 1:31a NLT). But, even more God is able to take a fallen creation ravaged by sin and recreate it into something beautiful. Aren’t these the words of 2 Corinthians 5:17: “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!” (NIV). If there ever was Good News to those struggling with addictions, this is it. In Jesus, a person is transformed from a wayward addict, estranged from family and loved ones into a beloved child of God who is dearly loved and accepted into the family of God. Such is amazing grace! That God would take objects of wrath and transform us into His beloved sons and daughters. Yes, Lord you do make beautiful things. You make beautiful things out of us. You make me new. You are making me new…
Over this past week, I’ve been reading through the book of Jeremiah (I spent last month in Isaiah) and what the Holy Spirit has been showing me while I’ve been reading is this: “God’s love is always guided by His truth and His truth is always fueled by His love which constitutes God’s ways.” Now, I know that this is a bit simplistic (I mean there’s also grace, mercy, justice, goodness, etc. all of which are also of God and important), but sometimes I feel like we complicate things. For me, when things happen in my life that I don’t understand, it helps to remind myself that God is love and that He is truth (I would also add that He is good). And though I may not understand why this or that is happening in my life or in the lives of the people around me or the things happening in the world I can trust that God knows what He is doing. Being at peace means I start from a position of trust in God’s ways and that His ways are comprised of His truth and His love.
Systematically, I believe that all truth is God’s truth, but that there is a hierarchy to truth. Meaning, there is general revelation which consists of creation which points to a Creator (Romans 1:18-20), basic principles of the world (Romans 12:1; Colossians 2:20; Galatians 4:3) and the knowledge of morality (Romans 2:14, 15) all of which God set into place when He created the universe (Genesis 1, 2). And then there is special revelation which consists of Scripture (2 Timothy 3:16; 2 Peter 2:20, 21) and Jesus (Hebrews 1:1, 2). Naturally, special revelation must always supersede general revelation. Nonetheless, truth will always be truth and hence must come from God who is truth because God cannot lie. “So God has given both his promise and his oath. These two things are unchangeable because it is impossible for God to lie” (Hebrews 6:18a NLT; also cf. Titus 1:2; Numbers 23:19).
Now if this isn’t enough we must also remember that God’s thoughts and ways are higher than our thoughts and ways (Isaiah 55:8, 9) which collectively hopefully characterizes God as completely transcendent, all-powerful and down right overwhelmingly Divine which should inspire what the Bible talks about as the fear of the Lord (2 Chronicles 14:14; 17:10; 19:7, 9; Job 28:28; Psalm 19:9; 34:11; 111:10; Proverbs 1:7, 29; 8:13; 9:10; 10:27; 14:26, 27; 15:33; 16:6; 19:23; 23:17; Isaiah: 11:2, 3; 33:6; Acts 9:31; 2 Corinthians 5:11). Sometimes, (and I include myself here) I feel like the majesty of God and His transcendentness has gotten lost in the midst of friendship with God. Now, hear me on this, I love being friends with God in fact I cherish our friendship. But, there are times where I can get too comfortable and casual with God where I forget that He is also the Creator of the universe, who is omniscient (knows all things), omnipresent (is able to be in all places at the same time) and omnipotent (all-powerful and all-ruling).
It’s not that the children of God (those found in Jesus) should be fearful of God in the sense that we should run and hide from Him, but that while we fully embrace being friends of God we should also stand in awe of His majesty and bow in reverence to His divinity. I know that this may seem complicated or overwhelming at times, but we can take heart because Jesus fully embodies all of this which is why He is able to say: “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me“ (John 14:6 ESV). We must always remember that the only reason that we are friends with God is through Jesus. Without Jesus, we would still be enemies of God because it is only through Jesus’ shed blood on the cross that we have peace with God (Romans 5:1-11). Those found in Jesus need not fear punishment (1 John 4:16-19), we only need to concern ourselves with being disciplined (Hebrews 12:4-11). Biblically speaking there is a difference between punishment and discipline.
Add to all of this that God is love (1 John 4:8, 16) and what we get is the reality that God’s love, truth and ways are deeply and infinitely unified with one another. I don’t believe we can separate them, nor should we ever try or think of them separately but as always working in relation to one another. The love of God always being guided by His truth and His truth always being fueled by His love which constitutes God’s ways because the ways of God must always been seen as being comprised of His truth and His love. I mean, isn’t this what we find in Jesus?
Of all the biblical writers, it is the Apostle John that references life most frequently. He refers to life as we know it in the universe (John 1:3-5) and life eternal with God in heaven through the gift of salvation through faith in Jesus, God’s one and only Son (John 3:16). In both instances, Jesus, the Word of God, is the source of life. Furthermore, Jesus referred to Himself as living bread (John 6:51ff) and living water (John 4:10,14). He even goes so far as to say, “I am the life” (John 11:25; 14:6). It is in Jesus that believers possess the life of the age to come in the present and in abundance (John 10:10b).
In focusing on eternal-everlasting life, John’s use of the word life in the book of Revelation reveals much. In Revelation, the word life is used in relation to the “tree of life” (Revelation 2:7; 22:2,14), the “crown of life” (Revelation 2:10); the “book of life” (Revelation 3:5; 13:8; 17:8; 20:12,15; 21:27; 22:19); and the “water of life” (Revelation 21:6; 22:1,17). As Dr. Ed Murphy states, “Man’s association with these sources of life brings him into union with God’s gift of eternal life” (Revelation 1:17,18; 2:7,10,11; 11:11; 21:6; 22:1-12,17). Again, eternal life is a future eschatological blessing that all believers have to look forward to, but it is also a believer’s present possession.
If there is one thing that we can conclude from the Apostle John is that Jesus = life. So, in order to embrace life to the full, a person must look to find it in Jesus and in Jesus alone. He is our abundant life, “For as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son also to have life in himself” (John 5:26 ESV). In following along on this train of theological thought, if the Father and Son have life in Themselves, it goes to reason that the Holy Spirit Who is part of the Trinitarian Godhead also has life in Himself. As Paul states, “The Spirit of God, who raised Jesus from the dead, lives in you. And just as God raised Christ Jesus from the dead he will give life to your mortal bodies by his same Spirit living within you” (Romans 8:11 NLT).
One of the most amazing blessings from the Father is the gift of the Holy Spirit (Luke 11:13) Who indwells all believers (John 4:13,14; 7:37-39; 14:17; Romans 5:5). It’s through His presence that all believers experience eternal life in the here and now; He is the guarantee of our eternal inheritance (Ephesians 1:14). The more we lean into the Holy Spirit, the more we will experience the joy and peace of Heaven, “For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit” (Romans 14:17 ESV). All believers carry the kingdom of God within them (Luke 17:21) because all believers are indwelt with the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 6:19), Who reminds us that we are children of God (Romans 8:16; Galatians 4:6).
So this is my prayer: Father God helps us Lord to fully trust in Your Word that tells us that the abundant life You have for us is found in Your Son Jesus and that this life includes receiving and living out our eternal inheritance both in the here and now and in the age to come when we will finally get to see Jesus face-to-face. Fill us overflowing with the Living Water of the Holy Spirit, so that we may experience the joy and peace of Heaven each and everyday. Thank You Lord for sending the Holy Spirit and for pouring Him into our hearts by Your love. In Jesus Name, Amen.
The more I experience life with God, the more I am caught up into His love. Life and love go hand-in-hand. I don’t believe you can truly know God without experiencing both because God is both. God is love (1 John 4:8) and God is life (Genesis 1, 2; Exodus 3:14; Psalm 139:13-16; John 1:4; 8:58; 14:6; Thessalonians 1:9). It is within love that life gets released. When Jesus came down from Heaven to Earth, He said He came to give us life abundant (John 10:10b). I believe there is much confusion in what most believers understand as being a child of God and what it means to be in Christ. For those in Christ there is no more punishment from God, only discipline (Hebrews 12:10, 11). Because Jesus took upon Himself the full wrath of God for sin (Romans 3: 23-25; 1 John 2:2), citizens of the Kingdom of God no longer have to fear judgment or punishment.
“All who confess that Jesus is the Son of God have God living in them, and they live in God. We know how much God loves us, and we have put our trust in His love. God is love, and all who live in love live in God, and God lives in them. And as we live in God, our love grows more perfect. So we will not be afraid on the day of judgment, but we can face him with confidence because we live like Jesus here in this world. Such love has no fear, because perfect love expels all fear. If we are afraid, it is fear of punishment, and this shows that we have not fully experienced his perfect love. We love each other because He loved us first” (1 John 4:15-19 NLT). What this says to me is that the more we know and experience God’s perfect love in Jesus, the more we will understand that we no longer have to fear judgment or punishment from God because through Jesus we can approach the Father with confidence (also cf. Hebrews 4:14-16). Even more, it is God’s love that fuels our love (v.19). Love and life go hand-in-hand, “all who live in love live in God, and God lives in them” (v.16), what an amazing truth.
But, one of the more effective schemes of the devil is to trick people into believing that God’s heart towards us is to do us wrong and that He cannot be trusted. Isn’t that what happened in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3) and what the devil tried to do during Jesus’ testing in the wilderness (Matthew 4:1-11; Luke 4:1-13)? If the devil can skew our perspective on the goodness of God than in many ways he has succeeded in driving a wedge between us and God because he has stolen our confidence in approaching God for love and care. The Scripture verse that continually helps me to reorient myself in understanding God’s heart towards me in contrast to the devil’s schemes is John 10:10 “The thief [devil] comes to steal, kill and destroy. I [Jesus] came that they may have life and have it abundantly” (ESV). We must never forget that God’s desire is that we should live! His heart towards us is to bring more and more life (and love) into our lives.
So this is my prayer: that the Father would pour out His grace upon our lives and that He would heal our minds by replacing any distorted views we have of Him with the truth of what His Word and Spirit testify to Who He Is. That through the living presence of the Holy Spirit dwelling within us He would release more of His love and life, so that it literally overflows into every area of our lives and into every relationship. In Jesus Name, Amen.
What comes to mind when you hear the word light? For me, I associate light with life. When I think about light, the sun naturally comes to mind; the sun whose life giving rays nourish all life on earth. Without the sun, life as we know it would end because the sun provides both energy and warmth to all of creation. But, we are not solely just natural beings who have only natural appetites and desires. No, we are also spiritual beings who have spiritual needs and desires. Just as the sun gives nourishment to our bodies, so the Son gives nourishment to our spirit. As Jesus tells us “Yes, I am the vine; and you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:5 NLT). Remaining in Jesus gives us the nourishment we need to produce fruitful lives.
Furthermore, the bible says that “God is light and there is no darkness in Him at all” (1 John 1:5). When light encounters darkness, two things happen: 1) it reveals what is hiding in the darkness and 2) it drives the darkness back. God is not intimidated, confounded, anxious or worried over the darkness of the world. Just as in the beginning when He created the universe and everything in it, He is still speaking into those who are formless and void by creating life with His words. “For God, who said, ‘Let there be light in the darkness,’ has made this light shine in our hearts so we could know the glory of God that is seen in the face of Jesus Christ. We now have this light shining in our hearts, but we ourselves are like fragile clay jars containing this great treasure. This makes it clear that our great power is from God, not from ourselves” (2 Corinthians 4:6, 7 NLT). The great treasure in us is Jesus; He is the light of the world that shines in the hearts of those who put their faith in Him. “Again, Jesus spoke to them, saying, ‘I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life’” (John 8:12 ESV). Having the light of life means followers of Jesus are now living in God’s light which empowers believers, connecting them in fellowship as the blood of Jesus cleanses them of sin (1 John 1:7) while also increasing our capacity to love one another (1 John 2:10).
So this is my prayer: that the Lord would continue to shine His light in our hearts bringing greater healing, deliverance, redemption and restoration to our lives. Jesus You are the light of the world and we shine for You as little lights within Your glorious light to a lost, hurting and broken world. Help us to live more fully with You basking in Your light and Your love! To the Father’s glory and in Your Name, Jesus, Amen
On Sunday, September 27th, 2010, God supernaturally grew out one of my legs and then evened them out. Yes, a physical creative miracle happened. The back story on this is that over the last four or five years my lower back has been steadily giving me more and more pain. All of this culminated a week before when I flew from Los Angeles to Chicago (September, 19th). After the flight I started to feel a sharp pain in my left leg and it even started to go numb from time to time. On Monday, I rested as much as I could, but the pain was still there. On Tuesday, I was walking through a grocery store and in the back by the pharmacy there was a little stand where a chiropractic business was checking people’s balance. I filled out the form and let them know that I had ongoing lower back pain and that now my left leg had just started to hurt and go numb from time to time. So, they had me stand on two scales, one for each foot and checked my balance. What the balance test revealed was that I leaned almost 12 pounds (5.5 kg) to my left leg which normally should only be a 2-3 pounds (0.9-1.2 kg) difference confirming that added pressure was being put on my sciatic nerve and was possibly causing the numbness.
To back up a bit, the week before all of this happened I felt the Lord really challenge me while I was at a prayer meeting (Septmeber 15th) where people were praying for healing for a woman. I very distinctly heard Jesus ask me: “Do you really believe that the Father will give you anything that you ask of Him in My Name?” His voice wasn’t an audible voice, but I distinctly felt and heard His voice reverberate throughout the whole of my being. I heard it in my head and in my heart all at the same time. It was like Jesus was speaking directly to my spirit. So, for the next few days I really wrestled with this question. But as I wrestled, Holy Spirit kept reminding me that the only reason that I live, move and have my being in Him at all is because of God’s grace. All the blessings in my life are truly undeserved; be it healing, salvation, deliverance, redemption or restoration. As Paul so eloquently put it, “But whatever I am now, it is all because God poured out his special favor on me—and not without results. For I have worked harder than any of the other apostles; yet it was not I but God who was working through me by his grace” (1 Corinthians 15:10 NLT).
If you know my story, then you may think that if anyone should get this it’s me. But, though I have experienced many supernatural moves of God’s grace in my life, I still wrestled deep within my heart with a distorted view of God’s heart towards me. God’s heart towards us is to heal, save, redeem and restore, period. I mean He gave up His one and only Son, Jesus, so that He could accomplish all of these things through an intimate relationship with us for all eternity. That’s God’s heart towards us. He’s not stingy with His love, goodness, mercy and grace, but infinitely generous and compassionate when it comes to gifting, blessing and showing favor towards us. We just need to believe and receive His love, goodness, mercy, grace, gifts, blessings and favor. Coming to this revelation has really freed up my heart and mind to just receive from the Lord and allow Him to pour out the fullness of His grace upon my life. In my wrestling what I was confronted with was the belief that 1) I thought I needed to work for God’s grace, 2) I didn’t think that God wanted to show me more of His favor and 3) because I was too proud or too ashamed I would just plain refuse to accept God’s favor. But, the breakthrough came when I began repenting for these distorted beliefs of trying to earn God’s favor by working for it, of my own self-condemnation that I projected onto God thinking He didn’t want to show me more of His favor and of my pride and shame that refused to accept God’s goodness and blessings towards me.
Now back to the healing miracle at hand. After leaving the balance test, I began to think that maybe my left leg was a little longer than the other and because of this has effected my lower back over the years which is quite typical from what I understand. That night I had my connect group (small group) pray for my back, a couple people said they definitely felt like there was a spiritual component, one of them saw an image of a vine wrapped around one of my legs. When I woke up on Wednesday, the pinching and numbness was gone. Later that day I felt like I should try and measure my legs and ask for God to even them out. So, I sat on my bed stretched my legs out and placed my hands on my right hip and began to simple ask the Father in Jesus Name to even out my legs. Nothing fancy. Right away my right hip began to tingle for a minute or so and then stopped. In my spirit, I really felt like God did do something, but I wasn’t sure what. So, I thanked God for healing me and that was that. (I know this post is extra long, but I really want to give as clear and detailed account of everything that happened, so please bear with me. I promise you it’s worth it.)
Fast forward to Sunday, September 27th, 2010 around 8pm. I am at a teaching session on healing (through my church: CITC) at Chris and Nancy Whiteley’s house. As the teaching portion was ending, I asked the group to pray for my back pain. I didn’t go into detail of what had transpired earlier in the week, but did share that I felt like my back pain had a spiritual component, was possibly connect to a generational curse and that I felt like one of my legs could possibly be longer than the other. So, Nancy and Chris led me through a prayer of repentance over the generational curse over my family and then began prayerfully breaking in Jesus Name any connection that a spirit of infirmary may have had over my back pain and began praying for healing and restoration to any degenerative damage to my back. During this time I really didn’t feel anything at all. So, next they had me sit in a wooden chair with my lower back resting fully against the back of the chair. Chris then had me lift my legs and he held my feet together to see if they were different lengths. After the group looked at my legs they said that my right leg was definitely a little shorter than the left.
So, while Chris was holding my feet, Dave Foster put his hand on my right shin and began to invite the Holy Spirit to come and bring healing to my leg. Then Taylor Lyall, who had his hand on my right thigh began to command my right leg to grow out in Jesus Name. Here’s where it gets good. All of a sudden my right leg from the knee down began to tingle like crazy and then it felt like someone yanked really hard on my right foot and I literally felt my leg grow out from around my ankle area. Everyone there started screaming that my foot just totally grew out like an inch or so (maybe around 3 cm). Personally, it really felt like my leg had grown too much. I didn’t say anything but then Chris had Monica come put her hand on my feet and she began to pray that God would even out my legs. Then my left ankle area began to tingle too and it really felt like both my legs were shifting about. It was quite a strange feeling. I was literally holding onto the chair like I was about to take off or something. All in all, I think we prayed for maybe 10 minutes while I was sitting in the chair. Afterwards, when I stood up it definitely felt different.
Today (September 27th), as I am writing this the calf muscle in my right leg feels extra tight and my right knee feels a bit weird like it’s adjusting or something. I have no more pain in my lower back, but I do feel like the muscles back there are a tiny bit sore as well. Maybe my lower back muscles, nerves and tendons are also adjusting I’ll see over then next few weeks if I need more restorative prayer on my back. Over the weekend, I bought a balance board and ordered a Bosu ball because I wanted to work on resetting my balance. I’m glad I did because now I can work on my balance, not because I have one leg shorter than the other, but because God miraculously lengthened and evened out my legs and now I need to reset my balance because I have too legs that are the same length. God’s grace and goodness towards us is so amazing! So amazing!!!
The heart of the Father is goodness towards us to heal, save, redeem, restore and deliver, but because we are caught in a war where the enemy is constantly attacking people and trying to destroy them (John 10:10a) many people confuse this suffering as actually coming from the heart of God. The last thing God wants is that people would suffer, His heart is that no one perish, but all would come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9). Now if you’re like me than the question that comes to mind is: “Well, if God doesn’t want anyone to perish, than why doesn’t He cause this to happen?” The causality of God is surely a mystery. I mean the causality of God has been on the hearts and minds of people for thousands of years. I’m not about to wade into this debate, but rather share how I find peace in the midst of this mystery of God.
For me, when I don’t understand something in terms of faith and life (which happens often), rather than question the character of God, I try to remind myself of what Scripture says about Who God is. I mean the Scriptures describe God as the Eternal (Deuteronomy 33.27; Romans 1:20) King (Psalm 95:3; Isaiah 43:15), Who is an infinite (Psalm 147:5; Job 11:7-9), unchangeable (James 1:17), Spirit (John 4:24), perfect (Matthew 5:48) in holiness (Isaiah 6:3; 1 Peter 1:15-16), Living (Psalm 42:2; 84:2), True (Jeremiah 10:10), wise (Psalm 104:24; Proverbs 2:6; Isaiah 28:29), good (Exodus 33:19; Psalm 63:2; 31:19), just (Psalm 33:5; 89:14; Isaiah 30:18), all-powerful (Luke 18:27; Revelation 19:6), and love (1 John 4:8). When I allow this to be my starting point, then I have a better chance of discerning between what is from God and what is from the evil one. I know this is pretty simplistic, but I’m becoming more and more convinced that in the midst of unbelief and doubt, childlike faith is the only way to go because kids don’t doubt the goodness of God.
One of my most favorite things to do during church is to watch the children during worship. A strong personal conviction of mine is to have entire families together for worship. This may by trying for some and may mean allowing the children more room to roam and play (if need be), but biblically speaking I believe this paints a better picture of the worship around the throne of God. This may sting, but I really don’t think there will be a separate area for kids’ worship. Also, in this way children actually get to see their parents actively worshipping God which is invaluable. Some things are better caught than taught, for kids, worship is one of those things. But, for adults like me, there is also the blessing of seeing the Spirit of God touch the kids, moving them to sing and dance in worship to God which helps me to better understand what childlike faith looks like. Again, some things are better caught than taught, for adults, faith is one of those things.
Thanks to Sin, life is complicated enough. So, the last thing we should do in the midst of testing is to complicate it with complex theology. Now, I’m not saying that theology is bad, I find that thinking theological can be very profitable. But, at the end of the day, all theology should lead to worship. If it doesn’t than what’s the point. The reason we study the Scriptures is to better understand the one and only Living God in Whom we worship. This should be at the heart of our theological study. When our pursuit of theology actually gets in the way of our worship, then we should probably put our study on pause in order to regain a heart of worship. If there is one thing that we will be doing for all eternity is worshipping God. Worship is forever.
The more I meditate on the grace of God, the more I am convinced that the only reason that I am not dead is by God’s grace. And the only reason I am where I am today is by God’s grace. It is only by God’s grace that any of us are not as bad as we know in our hearts that we could be and it’s by His grace that we are also the best we could ever be. The amazingness of God’s grace is that it is free with no strings attached. If you have never spent time meditating on God’s grace, I highly urge that you do. I would even suggest that you begin to ask God to reveal to you just how His grace has impacted and shaped your life. I don’t know about you, but I’m tired of letting other things shape and form me. What is it that is shaping your life apart from God’s grace?
In my last post, I talked about the equal need of God’s diamond of grace resting in and on each of our lives and how it’s not about degrees of grace, but rather differing facets of the whole of God’s grace. And how grace flows freely out of the goodness and kindness of God’s heart towards us. I would also add to this image that God’s diamond of grace reflects the reality of the Kingdom of God because grace is also the overflow of the Kingdom of God. The more I learn to embrace the fullness of God’s grace upon my life, the more I will learn to rest and walk in Holy Spirit. And the more I rest and walk in Holy Spirit, the more I will live in the atmosphere of the Kingdom of God. I mean, Jesus says that “the Kingdom of God is within you” (Luke 17:21 NIV) because the Holy Spirit lives within every believer (1 Corinthians 6:19).
Grace is simply amazing. From my perspective, embracing God’s grace and experiencing living in the Kingdom of God go hand in hand. I know whenever I get to share my God story with people, they are impacted by the reality of the Kingdom of God because they are impacted by the love of God and the hope of the Gospel which are large components of God’s Kingdom. That’s why I truly believe that testifying about how God’s grace has impacted and shaped our lives is so critical because the words of our testimony have the power to reveal both God’s heart towards people and the reality of Kingdom of God. I mean according to Scripture, the weapons of our warfare against the Evil One are the Word of God, the blood of the Lamb and the words of our testimony. What’s your grace story?
I think it is safe to say that we have all at some time received grace. Grace is unmerited favor. It means receiving something undeservedly. Simply speaking, this may mean receiving mercy in a trial or blessing in hard times. I find that generosity is a good descriptor of grace because out of the goodness and kindness of heart grace overflows. Often times one of the hardest things for a person to do is to receive grace. We would much rather work for the favor, than have to owe someone. But, this isn’t grace because grace gives freely with no strings attached. This is real grace. I mean that’s what I gather from reading the Bible, God gives generously and freely (no strings) out of the goodness and kindness of His heart. Do you believe this?
I’ve often heard grace described in terms of degrees. But, the more I experience God’s grace, the more I’m confronted with the inadequacy of this description. I believe a more robust image is needed in order to really capture the magnitude of God’s grace. We are all in need of grace, so rather than speaking in terms of degrees I’d like to propose facets, like a diamond. The amazing thing about God’s grace is it’s vastness, but also it’s particularity to each person. So rather than think in terms of more or less grace (degrees), it makes better sense to describe God’s grace in terms of differing facets. Because Sin manifests itself in differing ways in people’s lives, so differing facets of God’s grace will be needed. It’s not that a person needs more or less of God’s grace, but rather each person needs a unique combination of the many differing facets of the whole of God’s grace.
Now what has sparked this whole theological musing is the desire to level the playing field (so to speak). I mean Scripture says that “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23 NIV), but I can’t tell you how often I hear people compare themselves to others in terms of grace: “that person needs more grace than I do” or “I don’t need as much grace as they do.” But, I believe this kind of thinking often comes from a place of self-righteousness, I mean isn’t that the way the Pharisees saw it? This way of thinking can begin to both directly and indirectly form an unspoken hierarchy amongst the people of God. Again, it’s not that we need differing degrees of God’s grace, but rather that we are in need of differing facets of the whole of God’s grace. Maybe to some this may seem like semantics, but my heart behind all of this is to bring greater love and unity to the people of God where we truly begin to see that we are all in this together and that from Heaven’s perspective we are all in equal need of God’s diamond of grace resting in and on our lives.
I was called something the other day that I’ve never been called before: a grace dealer. Now if you know my story that’s more than just a little ironic. Personally, I find it miraculously hilarious! Only God could transform a person from being a drug dealer (a destroyer of lives) into a grace dealer (an encourager of lives). But, I’m getting ahead of myself. What spurred our conversation was the fact that I love to pray grace into people’s lives. From my understanding of Scripture, without God’s grace we are all lost to our own devices, dysfunctions and distortions. Hence, the reason that I love to pray that God’s grace would literally invade a person’s life. Have you ever thought about what the world would be like without grace? I shiver at the thought.
Grace is a crucial component to the healing and recovery process of addicts and alcoholics. From what I surmise from reading the Bible, grace has a way of setting people free from the bondage of sin. I mean when Jesus walked among us, He embodied in fullness both the grace and truth of God (John 1:17). And this grace and truth healed and set people free because anytime grace is mixed with truth it will always encourage and empower people. It is also through Jesus that we experience the depths of God’s amazing love. I know I say this a lot, but knowing the Father’s perfect unconditional love changes everything. His love has a way of turning our divided, shallow, hardened, wounded, scarred and deceptive hearts into whole, deep, tender, healed, renewed and genuine hearts.
I mean God’s heart towards us is to let His wonderful grace rule in our lives, over and above sin (Romans 5:21). But, giving people grace can be messy business because who knows what they may do with this grace. I believe that’s why Paul admonishes us to not abuse God’s grace by using it as a license to sin (Romans 6:1,2). But, from God’s vantage point, He’s not worried. He knows what His grace can accomplish in a person’s life and He’s patient. There’s a verse that says “God’s kindness leads to repentance” (Romans 2:4) which I couldn’t agree with more. But, if you’re like me, than it’s all too easy to slip into the mindset that through judgement people will come to repentance. And though I do believe that the fear of judgement can lead people towards repentance, it will always be God’s grace that brings a person into His presence.