Friday, 15 April 2016

Grace Quilt Pt2

Robyn Small is a master quilter and Bible Studier, and today she has combined her skills into one of her beautiful quilt chats.  You can find part one of this study here.

One day my Dad read 1 Corinthians 15: 10 "But by the GRACE of God I am what I am." And as he read that verse Dad had this sudden awesome understanding that he could not take credit for anything good that was in his life. The whole thing was a gift of God's GRACE. That revelation really changed Dad as he realized that there was nothing in his life which he could look back on and say, “I achieved this because of my great intellect or hard work or cleverness.  Every good thing in my life has been a result of God’s grace.”
From then on, so often his eyes would fill up with tears and his face would go all soft and radiant, and he would say, "Oh, the GRACE of God." Now I know my Dad. He was always a godly man of great wisdom, and with a real heart for God.  But that revelation of GRACE softened him somehow.   
That does not mean we sit back and bask in that grace.  The rest of that verse goes on…

“And His GRACE to me was not without effect. No, I worked harder than all of them - yet not I, but the GRACE of God that was with me."
 Hard work is still needed, but our work will be fruitful, which is why this lady is climbing the mountain.  We don’t treat God’s grace casually. 
The gift of our salvation was total grace.  But that does not mean that we can then sit until heaven and expect a front row seat. 
Jesus said that if we become apathetic and lose our first love for Him, then He will spit us out of His mouth. (Rev 3:16)

A few years ago I was speaking to a young man who had been through Chrysalis and been really touched by God.  He even went back to be part of the team on another Chrysalis Flight. 

He was laughing as he told me that he has certain posters on his bedroom wall that he takes down if he knows a Christian friend is coming to visit, and he puts them back up when the Christian is gone.
That troubled me, grace is not cheap, we mustn’t take it casually, Jesus paid a deep price for it. 
In the book of James there is a description of a person who tries to live for God in one area of his life and himself in all the others.
 He is called ‘double minded’.  In James 1:8 it says,  a person like that must not think that he will receive anything from God’, 
Jesus told enough parables about people who expected to get into heaven but were instead, thrown out into outer darkness, to give us a strong warning that we need to take our salvation seriously.
Some of the parables Jesus told about who would not make it into His kingdom are very alarming.
Matthew 22:12 there is the man who wore the wrong garments to the wedding feast. 
Matthew 25 has some scary stories:
V10 five virgins missed out on heaven, not because they were evil, but because they were foolish and did not plan ahead.
V30 The lazy servant was called wicked and went to hell because he didn’t have enough gumption to get out and work with what he had.
V46.  People went to hell because they were indifferent to the people around them.  Didn’t visit, didn’t care.
Mark 11:26, Matthew 6:14
God has said that if we don’t forgive people who sin against us, then He won’t forgive our sins!  That is a pretty serious warning.
But there is GRACE to overcome our own evil tendencies. James 4:6  - But He gives us more and more grace (power of the Holy Spirit, to meet this evil tendency and all others fully). That is why He says, God sets Himself against the proud and haughty, but continually gives grace to those who are humble-minded enough to receive it.”
James has just finished describing the evil tendencies that are still a part of our nature: Fights and quarrels, anger, envy, selfishness, friendship with the world and hatred towards God. Even in Christians! 
God wants to help us meet every evil tendency that is in us.
He wants to give us the grace to overcome our wrong motives and intentions, if we will be humble enough to ask for it and receive it rather than trying to handle everything ourselves by our own power and in our own way. 

Most of the letters that Paul and Peter wrote to the early church begin and end with a prayer that the people they are writing to will have more and more GRACE in their lives.
Because you can miss the GRACE of God. 
GRACE is a precious commodity, not to be taken lightly, but to be treasured and respected.
It is not cheap.  God is not a sweet loveable old sugar daddy who we can smooch into giving us whatever we want.
Hebrews 12:14f tells us to make every effort to live in peace with each other and to be holy. It says, "see to it that no one misses the GRACE of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many."
And it goes on to speak against sexual immorality and of treating God lightly. 
What we do with our sexuality, how we treat each other, and our attitude towards the things of God, all have potential to cause us to miss out on the GRACE of God.
And in v 17 it speaks of Esau who was unable to get back into God's blessing, even though he sought with tears. Serious stuff to miss the GRACE of God. 
Galatians 2:21 tells us to not set aside the GRACE of God. The Amplified Bible says, "I do not treat God's gracious gift as something of minor importance and defeat its very purpose. I do not set aside and invalidate and frustrate the GRACE of God.' 
2 Cor 6:1 (Amp) says, “We plead with you not to receive the GRACE of God in vain - that merciful kindness by which God exerts His holy influence on souls and turns them to Christ, keeping and strengthening them, do not receive it to no purpose.”
But, if we have been going through a time of operating outside the grace of God, then there is a place where we can get that sorted out.  The directions are given in Hebrews 4:16. 
“Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”
The throne of grace is where we receive His mercy, His forgiveness, His blessing, His wisdom, His instructions.
Ephesians 4:29 - our words build GRACE into others. "Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification that it may impart GRACE to the hearer." 
2 Peter 3:18 - "But grow in the GRACE and knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ."
Hebrews 13:9 - "....for it is good that our hearts be established (strengthened) by GRACE”. 
And, may the GRACE of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, be with us all.  Amen.


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