Sunday, February 5, 2012

(Archives) Grace Begets Grace

From 1/31/2011 - a great reminder for me today!

"A thankful heart is constantly extending grace 
because it has received grace.

Love and Grace are uneven."


"Grace Begets Grace."

Paul Miller, A Praying Life Page 152

Grace ~ a word I thought I knew much about. From a young age I learned in church that grace was "unmerited favor."  Now, ask me to define that in my own words and I would have said something like, "I am unworthy of anything and God has shown fit to bless me with a relationship with Him." 

Over the last few months the  Lord has been speaking to my heart about living a grace- filled life. It  began last August with a Kay Arthur bible study on Spiritual gifts. I studied the word "Charis" (5485), it is Greek for grace and in the context I was reading meant "grace gifts or gifts of grace." I was slightly intrigued by this concept of spiritual gifts being gifts of grace. I never thought of spiritual gifts as an act of God's grace - only that Jesus' sacrifice for my sin personified grace. According to Strongs (G5485) grace has four definitions, it  is defined as:

a) that which affords joy, pleasure, delight, sweetness, charm, loveliness: grace of speech
2) good will, loving-kindness, favour
a) of the merciful kindness by which God, exerting his holy influence upon souls, turns them to Christ, keeps, strengthens, increases them in Christian faith, knowledge, affection, and kindles them to the exercise of the Christian virtues
3) what is due to grace
a) the spiritual condition of one governed by the power of divine grace
b) the token or proof of grace, benefit
1) a gift of grace
2) benefit, bounty
4) thanks, (for benefits, services, favours), recompense, reward

 My next encounter with the vast concept of grace showed up when I began reading A Praying Life by Paul Miller. I began to see that my lack of extending grace was masked by my sin of cynicism; An attitude of scornful or jaded negativity, especially a general distrust of the integrity or professed motives of others. This mask of cynicism was blocking the work the Lord wanted to do in and through my life. As I began to renew my mind, sometimes hourly, to transform my mind through the lens of grace I began to see life more through the eyes of my Father. This grace filled life forced me to look inward before looking outward. Often times, when I look inward I have no desire to look outward because my own sin humbles me. Instead of seeing faults in others, I see those same sins in my own life, repent, pray for more grace and then walk forward with a renewed sense of joy. It allows me to stop those thoughts of what I percieve people are thinking about me. That freedom allows me to walk with the Lord regardless of what I "think" others will think about it. It also changes the way I see people, it allows me to love just where people are without "spot or blemish." It opens doors to truly love people.

Finally, I picked up Ann Voskamp's book, One Thousand Gifts; its primary focus' is to show how the giving of thanks within each and every situation transforms my mind and allows for Joy to be released within my life. Note that the final definition of Grace (#4) results in "Thanksgiving," Hidden within the word of grace is - Thanksgiving which is a bi-product of Joy.

So here are a few examples of  how Grace was practiced and utilized in my daily life last week:
  • As I rise early this morning I thank the Lord for the grace to get out of bed, my flesh desperately wants to go back to sleep. I know that without the Lord  -rising early to work out and get into God's word would be next to impossible. I'm NOT  a morning person. "Grace Begets Grace."
  • As I'm driving to the gym I meditate on the various "gifts" I've been given that morning - making a mental note to put them in my notebook when I get to Starbucks later that morning. "Grace Begets Grace."
  • My child wakes up and the first thing he asks is, "Can I watch a show."  My mind immediately thinks about how he is focusing his mind on an "idol" in his life, then instead of getting upset, I tell him he needs to wait. I think about the idols that are in my own life - the idol of pride or self  -wanting things my way, my plans, my schedule, etc. I confess this idol for what it is, ask the Lord to give me grace to be more generous and giving of my time. Then pray for my son, I write down Daniel 3:18 " But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.”I then ask the Lord to shape my son with courage and self control like Daniel. I pray my son would not serve other gods and  that he would only worship the Lord. I'm becoming more aware of my child through the art of prayer, I'm seeing the natural bents towards the things of the world and praying that it be replaced with godly attributes. In the process, prayer softens me. I begin to realize that it is only through prayer that my son will confirm to the image of Christ. "Grace Begets Grace."
  • I see a mother who is giving her 3 month old baby apple juice, immediately in my mind I confess that I think I'm a better mother than she because I know that isn't a good thing for my child. The Lord graciously reminds me that I don't know anything about the situation, I replace those thoughts with truth - "she is a great mom," " She loves her child and I see that through how much she cuddles and cares for him." Later it comes out that her son has the flu and can only keep down juice. I thank the Lord for bringing to light my cynicism and allowing me to change the thoughts in my mind. I pray for her son's healing. "Grace Begets Grace."
  • I am weary and want to go to sleep, my husband gets into bed and I know that his neck has been hurting all day. I pray for grace to serve my husband, grab some bio-freeze and gently massage his neck.He is so grateful and feels appreciated - extending grace - a necessity to receiving grace. "Grace Begets Grace."
  • I'm in line at the grocery store, the woman in front is trying to  pay with a  check and is taking forever. My flesh urges me to get impatient, so I pray for grace and begin listing off areas of Thankfulness  like, "I have money to buy these groceries, the 4 free can's of soup in my basket, the fact that I'm shopping alone and my husband is putting the kids to bed, I am a blessed woman to have a husband who puts our kids to bed every night, He is such a wonderful man for doing devotions with the kids every night,  etc." Then I smile at the woman and she apologizes for taking so long. I comment to her that "I'm in no rush, don't feel bad, these things happen - especially to me!" She smiles back, relieved that I'm in no rush. She is blessed and feels lighter because of a few grace filled words and a kind smile. Grace received - Grace bestowed. "Grace Begets Grace."
The Lord is reconditioning my mind and heart through the lens of Grace 
which produces:

Thanksgiving
Joy  
Delight
Prayer
Bounty
Gifts
Strength 
Transformation Into The Image of Jesus Christ

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