Thursday 14 April 2016

Grace Quilt Pt 1

Robyn Small is one gifted writer and quilter who combines her
skills to present in depth Bible Studies sewn into quilts.
Her quilt chats are full of Scripture and inspiring testimonies to encourage your faith journey.
She co-pastors a church in Toowoomba, QLD with her husband Alan.

Years ago, Alan and I used to help out in a Christian bookshop, and there was one book on the shelves that I often took down and flipped through because it had such a catchy title. "Grace is Not a Blue-eyed Blonde.” 

But I could never get interested enough to actually read that book.

I like books with lots of stories, and this one was just about this nebulous, theological quality called GRACE. I really wasn't interested in learning about something so dull, I liked stories about people.  So I never read that book, though the title always stayed in my mind.

But then, about ten years before he died, my Dad had a revelation about GRACE, which changed his life. Dad had always loved the Lord and been a strong man of faith but this revelation of grace just softened his heart. From then on you couldn’t be in his company more than ten minutes and he would say ‘It’s the grace of God, it’s the grace of God’. Seeing the change in him caused me to start to investigate this subject.

So when he died I went through the Bible and wrote out in longhand every single scripture about grace.  I asked God to show me about his grace. The revelation I’ve received is different to  the one Dad received but it still blessed my heart. 

So what is this GRACE?

Grace is who God is. 

It is the unearned, undeserved favour and blessing of God so that when God looks at us He is not looking in anger or annoyance, but He’s looking with a heart attitude of how He can help us and bless us.  That’s His heart.

 It is God’s nature.  The Bible describes Him as "the God of all GRACE". (1 Peter 5:10)

 Thirty times in the Old Testament God is referred to as ‘gracious’.

That means He has an attitude of compassion, generosity, good will and kindness towards us. 

 In His own description of Himself to Moses, (Exodus 34:6) God said,

"I am The Lord, the Lord, the compassionate and GRACIOUS God, slow to anger and abounding in love.”

 Just one example of that is when we read in Isaiah 30 of a time when God's chosen people had turned their backs on Him. They were rebellious and obstinate and refused to seek God for direction. They were in a bad way with an enemy approaching and instead of turning to God, they went to Egypt for help.  

So God spelt out the disaster they would suffer as a consequence. But in verse 18 we read, "The Lord earnestly waits, expecting, looking, and longing to be gracious to you, and therefore He lifts Himself up, that He may have mercy on you and show loving kindness to you…"  Amplified. 

Remember, this was spoken to people who were rebellious and deceitful and unwilling to listen to God. God's response to them was still the offer of GRACE. 

God’s attitude to us is the same.  He likes us! He wants to see us get it right! He longs to be asked to help.  He longs for opportunities to be gracious to us.

Salvation is total grace.

“It is by grace we have been saved, not by works. It is the gift of God.” Ephesians 2:8

If it were not for the grace of God we would all be trapped in the hopelessness and darkness and depravity of Satan’s kingdom, without any way of life ever being any different. 

But - It was totally the GRACE of God, before we ever gave Him a thought, that pursued us, guided us, protected us, and wooed us into a relationship with Him.

Last night I was thinking of the story of John Newton, the man who wrote Amazing Grace and that man was a horrible man, he was sent to sea as a little boy after his mother died and so he grew up in a rough atmosphere.   He rose up through the ranks, and was so mean and nasty, that one day the captain of the ship couldn’t stand him anymore and left him on an island, with the native people.   On this island, he was still so mean and nasty that the natives got sick of him and chained him to a tree and treated him like an animal and he was there for years. 

Back in England his father heard what had happened to him and sent a ship to rescue him, and he was still a mean nasty person.  Then this ship got into a storm and he was washed overboard, he feared for his life and cried out to God and was a changed person.

Ephesians 1:4 (GNB)"Because of His love, God had already decided that through Jesus Christ He would make us His children- this was His pleasure and purpose. Let us praise God for His glorious GRACE, for the free gift He gave us in His dear Son! For by the blood of Christ we are set free, that is, our sins are forgiven. How great is the GRACE of God which He lavished on us in great measure." 

We can’t take credit for our own salvation, it’s all the grace of God. 

Romans 8

For what the law of Moses could not do because of the weakness of our sinful nature, God did by sending His son in a body, just like the body we sinners have, and in that body He declared an end to sin over us by giving His Son as a sacrifice for our sins.  He did this so that the just requirements of the law could be satisfied in those who no longer follow their sinful nature but follow the spirit instead.

BLOCK 3.  

We now live in a time that has been called the Age of GRACE.

 In the Old Testament in was all law.  There were all these laws that the people had to follow to be right with God.   If you did something wrong you had to sacrifice, this and if you did that wrong, you sacrificed this.  There were even sacrifices you did for things you didn’t realise were wrong.

Most of the 38 references to grace in the Old Testament are about people finding grace in the eyes of the Lord, or of another person.

 The New Testament speaks of grace 128 times, but it doesn't mention that phrase. 

Its first mention of grace is to say that “Jesus was filled with wisdom and the GRACE of God was upon Him”. (Luke 2:40)

 And,  "From the fullness of His grace we have all received one blessing after another. For the Law was given through Moses, but GRACE and truth came through Jesus Christ.”  (John 1:16)


It is a really interesting reason.

The GRACE of God is not just to bless us.

It is to bless God.

And it is to honour GRACE.

God wants His grace to be recognised as precious.

It is a gift to be treasured, not treated lightly.

There is no such thing as cheap grace.

To be gracious to us cost God a high price.

At the end of the age God wants to put us, and all the church, on display to show off the richness and the wonder of that GRACE. 

 Ephesians 2:6 “And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with Him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages He might show the incomparable riches of His GRACE expressed in His kindness to us in Christ Jesus.” 

 I wondered who He would want to show us off to?   God treasures His grace and is proud of it. 

The answer is found in Ephesians 3: 10. It is to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms.

 These are the same heavenly realms that we do spiritual warfare against - Eph 6:12.

The same ones over whom Jesus has been given a higher name - Eph 1:20. 

God is going to show off to the heavenly realms the wonders of His GRACE, and He will do it through us, and our response to that GRACE. 

God honours His grace.  He treasures it!

GRACE is God's power for us to get the job done, to do whatever He has called you to do.  We receive it and wrap it around us like a cloak 

Ephesians 2:10 “For we are God's workmanship created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do” 

God has prepared jobs for each of us to do. 

2 Cor 9:8    And God is able to make all GRACE abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.” 

But He hasn’t chosen us for our specific tasks because of our unique gifts or abilities.  If He has called us to do something, He will give us empowering to do it, even if it is something we aren’t naturally good at.  In fact it is often just the opposite. 

Three times Paul pleaded for a change in his life but God's response was: 2 Corinthians 12:9 - "My GRACE is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness." 

 Grace is the enabling from God to do what He has called us to do. Grace makes it possible for His power and strength to be released into the situation.

 Allan’s parents were beautiful people and had never treated me with anything but love and kindness, but when they were in their early  80s they both had dementia and came to live with us and I was really thrilled to have them.  I wanted to repay for them for all the blessings they had poured into my life, but it was much harder than I’d ever expected.  Dementia is a horrible disease and it made these two beautiful Godly people become very angry and I remember at times holding Charlie, up trying to get him to the toilet, with poo running down his legs and all over me and him swearing and banging his walking stick around. 

I was crying out “God this is not what I signed up for and I can’t cope with this.” 

Then Jean, Allan’s mum, her dementia took the form of repeatedly asking the same questions over and over for hours.

Don’t try and do it on your own but go cry out to God ‘I need your grace.’  It was amazing how often He would help me when I was ready to give up. 

Sometimes we can do things out of habit and we might start a meeting and it is wonderful and has God’s anointing on it, but after a while it becomes a duty and a burden.  God’s grace has lifted off that task and it’s time to step back and evaluate if it’s time to move on from that.   It might be time for someone else to step in.

Years ago when I was going through burn out, after a time of extreme business, the thought used to come to my mind that God wouldn’t love me while I wasn’t doing anything, that I always needed to be busy for Him.  He just wanted me to sit and stare in His face.   There is grace to rest.

Even Jesus needed GRACE to do the job He came to earth to do - Hebrews that by the GRACE of God He might taste death for everyone."  

Some of the tasks for which grace has been provided:

* Grace to preach the Gospel.  Ephesians 3:7. “I became a servant of this gospel by the gift of God's GRACE … this GRACE was given me: to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ.”

* Grace to equip the church.  Ephesians 4:7 “But to each one of us GRACE has been given as Christ apportioned it, to be apostles, prophets etc to prepare God's people for works of service so that the body of Christ may be built up.” 

* GRACE to be generous givers - 2 Cor 8:1-7

* GRACE to be powerful witnesses. Acts 4:3 3 -  “With great power the Apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and much grace was upon them all.”

*  GRACE  to discern Grace in others.  Gal 2:9 Paul wrote “James, Peter and John... gave me and Barnabas the right hand of fellowship when they recognised the GRACE given to me.”

Missional Women

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