"HIS GRACE SAVES US"
(dedicated to my daughter-in-law, Shannon)
"And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father), full of grace and truth." John 1:14 (KJV)
"The Word was made flesh" immediately evokes images of the Christmas story and a tiny babe wrapped in swaddling clothes. "And dwelt among us" reflects the great tabernacle in the midst of the tents of the children of Israel as they moved from oasis to oasis in the Sinai Desert.
"God's house among our houses! We see it each day in cities and towns. On a quiet street a clapboard church shares a place with the homes of working families. An ancient brick church stands between towering skyscrapers. A cathedral thrusts its spire heavenward. Each gives its silent testimony to God who dwells among us in Word and sacraments. He lives among ordinary people going about their ordinary lives. Jesus, the Word made flesh, is part of birth and death, part of the lives of business-people, farmers, homemakers, students, and children. He listens to our prayers, rejoices in our laughter, and shares our tears.
The churches stand in the heart of our cities, in town squares, on suburban streets, and on country lanes. Each church building testifies to God who through His Son, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, dwells in our midst, sharing the lives of His people. ~Alston S. Kirk
Miracles, Signs and Wonders? The greatest miracle of all is that miracle of love that God forgives us for Jesus' sake. By the power of the Holy Spirit, we see them! We live them! "By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God." Romans 5:2 (KJV)
Have you ever felt depressed, desolate, on the verge of despair because of some wrong you have done? A deliberate lie? A deliberate sin? Did you feel guilty before God? If so, that was a condemning message of God's Law. His Law demands perfection; it passes judgment. "For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ." John 1:17 (KJV) "Moreover the law entered, that the offense might abound. But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound." Romans 5:20 (KJV)
On the other hand, did you ever feel free as a bird, completely at peace with God, fully forgiven through faith in Christ, consciously living in His grace? That is because you have heard and believe the message of His Gospel. "And of his fulness have all we received, and grace for grace." John 1:16 (KJV) "Thou art fairer than the children of men: grace is poured into thy lips: therefore God hath blessed thee for ever." Psalm 45:2 (KJV)
"As any man hath received the gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God." 1Peter 4:10 (KJV) Our Lord challenges us as good stewards to use our gifts to make diciples of all nations. It is an awesome task, but we also have help from an awesome God, whose Son died that we might live, paying the price that we might have forgiveness. The awesomeness of God's power translates into saving love.
"For they shall be an ornament of grace unto thy head, and chains about thy neck." Proverbs 1:9 (KJV) "Chains about thy neck" indicates an adornment or thing of beauty in one's life. "So shall they be life unto thy soul, and grace to thy neck." Proverbs 3:22 (KJV)
"And with great power gave the apostles witness of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus: and great grace was upon them all." Acts 4:33 "Who, (Barnabas) when he came, and had seen the grace of God, was glad, and exhorted them all, that with purpose of heart they would cleave unto the Lord." Acts 11:23 "Long time therefore abode they speaking boldly in the Lord, which gave testimony unto the word of his grace, and granted signs and wonders to be done by their hands." Acts 14:3 (KJV)
Unmerited favor is bestowed through REDEMPTION ~ "For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God." Romans 3:23-25 (KJV)
A commentary on the use of God's gifts to us is provided by the story of the smal boy who scraped together enough coins to buy a fine pair of gloves for his mother's birthday. Weeks later he noticed his mother's still chapped hands and asked why she wasn't wearing the gloves. She said she was so thankful for them that she was saving them. His noteworthy response: "But, Mom, you thank me best when you wear them!" How very true also of the special gifts God has given to us!
"Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, whether prophecy, let us prophesy according to the proportion of faith." Romans 12:6 (KJV)
Prayer: Be with us, Lord Jesus, and bless us with Your grace and truth as we come and go. Thank you for the gifts you have given us ~ please help us use them in service of you, our Lord Jesus, for His sake. Amen.