We just started a series in Sunday School on Grace!! I missed the first week but have caugh the past two. Week two was called Amazing Grace and week three was Simple Grace. Of course my ears totally perked up when I heard the word SIMPLE, as it's my word for 2013!! I'm interested in making every aspect of my life and relationship with Jesus as SIMPLE as it's meant to be and this would be my first "simple sunday school" lesson.
However, as I began to prepare for this post, I suddenly got overwhelmed with insecurities. God and Grace are pretty big topics to tackle....I could punch out any experience from my own life and feel fairly confident about my words. But going straight for the big stuff, that just seemed a bit daunting. I mean, who am I to talk to you about Grace? I'm finding it ironic that I'm wanting to talk to you about Grace and yet, I'm not allowing any grace to fall upon my head for this task! Crazy how that happens!! I suppose that its all a part of God's plan and lesson for you and for me!!
How often do we refuse God's grace? Maybe one reason that we deny ourselves God's Grace is because we don't have a proper understanding of what it actually is? From my reading and understanding there is more than one facet to God's Grace. I want to take you back to the Old Testament and the Law for just a moment. We can read about the law and the requirements of sacrifice that had to be made in order to fulfill the law in the books of Exodus and Leviticus. We can see how time consuming it was, to find the perfect offering, the atonement for the sins of one.
I'm not really sure how the people had time for anything else, because so much time was spent on preparing sacrifices and trying to "clean up" before approaching the Lord. I feel heavy and restricted just typing this. The law was put in place to show the people, to show us, that we are sinful and that there was nothing that we could do about it. The Israelites were a fallen people, like everyone else, and they couldn't just come before God as they were and so sacrifices and offerings had to be made.
Let's fast forward to the New Testament and where Grace enters the scene. I like it put this way: Grace has a name and it's Jesus! What a beautiful, simple way to put it. If you know Jesus, you know Grace.....He is the epitome of the word. Let's take a minute and look at why Jesus came....He came to be that sacrifice....to enhance the Law....to point us toward God. Knowing that we could never measure up on our own and that no sacrifice we could ever offer would truly pay the price of sin, God sent His one and only son, to be The Sacrifice for our sins, for all of mankind.
No more are the days of finding an appropriate offering or sacrifice, only to have to do again and again and again. Jesus coming, being born of a virgin, walking with us and ultimately dying on the cross is Grace. We deserve the punishment for our sins, but Jesus took our place!! That is the ultimate picture of Grace. "But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us all." Romans 5:8
I don't know about you, but when I slow down long enough to let that thought sink in, it blows me away!!!!! I should be punished for my sin, I was on my way to take the punishment, but Jesus stepped in and said "NO, I'LL TAKE THE PUNISHMENT FOR HER, AND FOR EVERYONE ELSE!!!"
Most of us can say that we understand Jesus dying on the cross for our sin,s though we may not always grasp the fullness of it. We can wrap our minds around the sacrifice, His death on the cross, providing us the opportunity for forgiveness of sins and life everlasting. But where I think that we come into trouble is how that act translates into our every day life and our relationship with our Father. To put "grace" another way, it's God's unmerited favor on a people who don't deserve it. There is nothing that we have done, could do or will do that will justify us having His favor or grace, we can't earn it....He just gives it, because He can and because He loves us unconditionally.
In a world full of conditions, sometimes this is hard to swallow. We are so used to a "you scratch my back, I'll scratch yours" mentality, that when someone just gives us something with nothing attached, we question it. Well certainly you can't just forgive me, I must have to "do" something to justify that. I've messed up, there must be a way that I can fix it! And here's one that I'm wrestling through right now....Unconditional giving and helping! Surely you can't be serious, you want to help me like that, and there's no string attached? We've been in the position of needing help for two years now and I' still learning that when God causes someone to move and give and help, there are no boundaries. There is no end time, returning the favor or somehow paying it back. It's just a gift, plain and simple.
He continues to humble me and I continue to learn something new about this Amazing God that I love and serve. I want to simply accept His Grace and remove all of the complications that I have put in place that prevent me from doing that! So if this is something that you'd like to walk through with me, please come back here, well every day, but specifically next Wednesday, as I believe this is going to take more than one post to uncover!!!
Let me leave you with this song by Jeremy Riddle, "This is Amazing Grace" Let it soak in friends
God Bless <3 Lorraine