Incredible! We have been looking at one word for three weeks! Grace-We have seen firsthand that one simple word encompasses much more than one would think at first glance. Grace we have witnessed is often very costly. We have journeyed down a road beginning with God’s favor to Noah. The world had become very wicked but Noah found favor in God’s eyes. A flood would destroy the inhabitants of the earth but Noah was commissioned to build a huge boat and prepare his family and pairs of all the animals in order that the world could start fresh after the waters receded. Just reading the dimensions of the boat and the thought of gathering all the animals is a difficult task but think of those long days on end with all those animals! Next we spoke of Moses. Moses had been raised by the Pharaoh’s daughter and lived forty years in palatial comfort until he fled to the desert and spent another forty years; then he was commissioned to lead God’s people to freedom. He had great mountaintop experiences with God, and he was the recipient of much grace and favor but leading approximately two million people in the desert was hard work and it cost him plenty. Hannah was heartbroken and childless, tormented by her husband’s other wife. She petitioned God and found grace and went on to have six children but it cost her first-born. Naomi and Ruth suffered the loss of their husbands, traveled the distance from Moab to Bethlehem to return home and found God’s grace in a man named Boaz. It was a tough road for them but they persevered and found grace and favor. Grace is costly!
Grace can be frightening. Esther was selected by God’s plan and His grace to be the replacement queen to King Ahasuerus after he banished Vashti for her disobedience. It never mattered that the King’s request was inappropriate and demanded when he was in a drunken state Vashti was gone and Ester was now queen. Her people were going to be annihilated and she was in a position to help but it could cost her her life, she helped anyway and said “if I perish, I perish.” God’s grace was all over the future King David but David prior to kingship found himself in a volatile relationship with the current King, Saul. Saul would draw David in close and then David would be running to hide from him. This went on for years. The Israelites received much prosperity and great times of God’s favor, yet there were time of captivity and bondage to foreign nations when they chose idols above God. They would return to God and return to grace. Sometimes it can seem that the cost is too great and too frightening. Consider Jesus. Bringing grace, mercy and forgiveness to the world cost Him everything. It was a priceless gift. He left heaven and His home with Father God and all that encompassed. He came to earth and lived a fully human experience. He was exposed to all the temptations and situations that we endure. Not once did He react sinfully to any of the trials and sufferings; not even when falsely accused, beaten until He was unrecognizable, nor when they hung Him on the cross. That dark day after endless suffering, He took upon Himself all the weight of our sin, bondage and sickness. He could have chosen not to but He carried out His Fathers plan. Because of His love and sacrifice we are the benefactor of great grace and mercy. Grace is brave and extravagant!
Today’s grace verse is found in Acts 13:43. Let’s glance at it: “As the meeting broke up, a good many Jews and converts to Judaism went along with Paul and Barnabas, who urged them in long conversations to stick with what they’d started, this living in and by God’s grace.” (MSG) (for context read chapter 13) Context is very important in scripture and I encourage you to always consider checking out the context and weigh scripture against scripture. Today, I am going to let this verse stand alone. Paul is encouraging all the believers, all those following the life and example Christ set for us to deliberately choose to live in and by the grace of God. What does that mean to us? For us? I believe it means we need to learn what we can about grace and be a student of that grace; asking for wisdom and understanding of what its full meaning is; seeking glimpses of grace in our lives and asking God to help us be aware of them both in the great times but also in the difficult times and in ordinary situations as well. Whether we are the receiver of grace or the giver, it is my belief that true grace flows from great love. because God loved extravagantly. He provides great grace and out of grace flows great mercy; because we receive great mercy or compassion we are moved to great love for Him; out of great love for Him we are moved or should be moved to a great love for others. That great love will move us to show grace to them, and to have mercy and compassion toward them; even when they have not shown it to us. Why? Grace is costly. Grace is brave. Grace is extravagant.