A Matter of the Heart

Jan 15 2013

Verses for the Day: Galatians 1:3-5  Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, who gave himself for our sins to rescue us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and father, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.” (NIV)

If you are like me growing up in the church I can remember hearing about God’s grace, but I don’t remember hearing the words “Prevenient Grace” being preached or studied before. But, who knows maybe I was asleep or missed that day when the subject came up. But regardless whether you have ever heard this term before there is no doubt that you have felt it or seen it during your life. This is especially true when you take time to truly reflect back on your life and you see those times when you wonder- How did I ever make it through this or that situation without a completely different result?  Now there are many who will never recognize it as a gift from God. And some who even after recognizing it as God’s gift still refuse to except it or give Him the honor, praise and glory He deserves. So, I believe that there is no one and I mean no one who has ever been exempt from God’s Prevenient Grace. While they might not acknowledge it or accept it for what it is-they have felt it or seen it during their life here on earth.

So, you might be asking “what exactly is God’s Prevenient Grace? I’m still not sure I have ever seen or felt it before”. Well it is God’s pursuing grace and love for you and me ever before we knew Him or realized we needed Him. God loves us so much He created us in His image that we might have a relationship with Him, so none would perish. 2 Peter 3:9 “…He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” And when sin entered the world and we broke that relationship He wasn’t willing to give up on us. So, He provided us a way to return back to Him-that every man, woman and child might come to that saving knowledge of His Son and our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. 

So, Prevenient Grace is God’s pursing grace wooing us back into a right relationship with Him. It’s God’s hidden hand at work in our lives and those around us before we were even conceived and His desire is for us to be in a right relationship with Him. As I look back on my life with 20/20 hindsight from God’s perspective I can see where God’s Prevenient Grace was watching over me and pursuing me even though I was not walking in a right relationship or seeking Him at the time. Like the time God healed a family member from epileptic seizures, protected me during a horse wreck over 20 years ago and again last year that could have killed me or gave me the ability to pay a bill when no money seemed to be available. Over and over again I can see where God’s hand was at work keeping me safe, providing a way out of a bad situation, or protecting me from harm. But, it wasn't until I got my relationship right with Christ that I really started to understand that it was God’s Prevenient Grace that got me through those times in life. 

Well I bet if you think back you can remember many different times in your life when God used someone or something as an instrument of His grace to change the outcome in ways you never expected. Hopefully now you can see and realize it was God’s Prevenient Grace not wanting to give up on you and giving you another chance to return back to Him. Remember the verse above 2 Peter 3:9 “…He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” And that is why I say that everyone has experienced God’s Prevenient Grace. It’s your choice whether or not you will acknowledge it and accept it as one of God’s greatest gifts. John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son………” Grace, Grace God’s Amazing Grace! Where is God calling you to be an instrument of His Prevenient Grace to someone who may not know Him today?

Jan 14 2013

 

Verses for the Day: Ephesians 2:4-5 “But because of his great love for us, God who is rich in mercy made us alive with Christ……it is by grace you have been saved.” (NIV)

We hear the word all the time it seems “Grace”. It’s found throughout the Bible and has been written about, prayed over and prayed for, sung about and debated over since time began. So, I thought I would take a few days to share a few of my thoughts into God’s Amazing Grace and what God’s word has to say about it. I did a word search for “grace” in the Bible and it looks like it appears between 150 to 170 times depending on what version of the Bible you are reading and it has several different usages or meanings depending on the context it is used in. It can indicate gracefulness or beauty and may appear as “to rejoice” denoting a pleasant external appearance, “Loveliness”, “agreeableness”, or “acceptableness” (from Louis Berkhof, Systematic Theology). And, while appears to be other means the more prominent or common meaning of grace that I found and have heard of over the years is a favor or good-will given to someone which is unmerited.

I think a lot of people get grace and mercy confused at times and while both are very important gifts from God I feel they are very different. Mercy is God act or gift of not giving us what we truly do deserve due to our sins. And grace is God’s act of giving us unmerited gifts or favors we don’t deserve. There is nothing we can do to earn, buy, borrow, beg, or steal, God’s grace—it is a gift given to us out of His love for us. John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son………”

Well if you have attended a weekend event called “Walk to Emmaus” you have gotten to hear five different grace talks given by a Clergy person. Three of those talks are entitled as “Prevenient Grace”, "Justifying Grace", and "Sanctifying Grace". While these indicate a different type of grace they are all the same grace-as grace is grace. Just like the Trinity-Father, Son and Holy Spirit are seen differently--They are still considered one in the same. And the same is true with God’s grace. While each has a different purpose there is only one grace--which is an unmerited gift or favor from God that we truly don’t deserve and can do nothing to earn. Well the other two talks during the weekend are entitled “Means of Grace” and “Obstacles to Grace”, so over the next few days let’s take a closer look at this amazing “Grace” given to us out of God’s love for us.

While the word grace is not used directly all that much in the Bible it is implied throughout the Old and New Testaments through God’s loving acts of favor and good-will to mankind. We don’t have to read very far into the Bible where we see God’s favor and love for Adam and Eve. God gave them the Garden of Eden (Paradise) to care for and live in. They did nothing to earn or merit this gift from God-it was only out of God’s love for them that He allowed them to live there. Then when they sinned by eating the forbidden fruit in the middle of the garden God showed them mercy by not giving them what they deserved, but instead He provided them with His grace of forgiveness. And throughout history God has continued to show us His mercy while pouring out His grace upon us. You might be thinking to yourself ‘man when God was passing out grace I must of thought He said mace (rod or staff) and I didn't think I needed any. But consider this, if you have a roof over your head, a bed to sleep in every night, and have the opportunity to eat three meals a day then you have been blessed with good–will and favor from God of which the majority of the world may never experience here on this earth. 

So, if God created us in His image and we are to be His ambassador and representative to the world. Who is He asking or showing to you today that needs your grace of forgiveness, favor or good-will that may not deserve it? And let’s count our blessings one by one and give praise to God for His amazing grace in which He gives us much more then we deserve.