Inexhaustible Grace

When I think about the many powerful sermons that have been preached on God’s grace, the countless numbers of thought-provoking books that have been written on the subject, and the numerous beautiful songs that gave been composed about the unlimited and marvelous grace of God, one might wonder what else could be said on the subject of grace.

So — my disclaimer up front is: I am not writing as an expert on the subject who can “add” anything to what others have said or written. I’m just an ordinary person who has experienced the grace of an extraordinary God in my life and I want to share with others — or maybe just give a reminder — of some of the wonderful truths he has taught me–first from his Word, and then experientially in life. Grace, in its simplest terms, is undeserved favor–received from a holy and loving God, what we totally do not deserve or merit.

Often our first encounter with God’s grace is described as experiencing his “Saving Grace.” — grace that completely forgives our vilest sins when we believe in Jesus Christ and receive him as Savior. By that simple act of belief and faith, we come into a personal relationship with the Almighty God of the Universe. Isn’t that mind-boggling!! That same God who spoke creation into existence takes us into his family by a spiritual rebirth and he becomes our Father and we become his child — for all eternity. “But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.” (John 1:12 ESV) Awesome! But, as wonderful as that is, it is only the beginning of the grace he wants to make available to us.

Many years ago I was introduced to pastor and author, Max Lucado, (not literally–just to his books!) and was captivated by his giftedness in putting words on paper. I described him as an artist…who painted with words! One of his books written back in the 1990’s carried the long but expressive title and subtitle: God loves you just the way your are, but he refuses to leave you there — He wants you to be — Just Like Jesus.

That title so aptly describes first, God’s Saving Grace but then, the next step in God’s journey of grace in our lives–His Sanctifying Grace. God’s purpose for every child of his is that they become “just like Jesus.” (Romans 8:29) And, his transforming sanctifying grace makes that possible. The process begins by making us a totally new person. “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” (2 Corinthians 5:17 ESV.) We have new purpose in life; “…and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves, but for him who for their sake died and was raised.” (2 Corinthians 5:15 ESV)

God speaks very clearly on how his grace is to be applied to our lives to transform us and enable us to live godly lives. “For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions and to live self-controlled, upright lives in this present age.” (Titus 2:11 ESV) “The Lord knows those who are his, and, ‘Let everyone who names the names of the Lord depart from iniquity.” (2 Timothy 2:19 ESV) God makes very clear the direction our lives are to take because of his sanctifying grace.

I wish God would just reach down and give us a “holy zap” of sanctifying grace and instantly make us into godly, self-controlled persons, always choosing to “depart from iniquity.”
But, if we’ve been a Christian longer than one week, we know it doesn’t work that way. Sanctifying Grace is a journey toward becoming “just like Jesus” but God has promised he will not give up on us, but at the “day of Jesus Christ,” he will bring the good work he has done in us to completion. (Philippians 1:6 ESV) But… the journey is a joint venture between us and God. God will be faithful on his part, but I must also be responsibly faithful on my part. More about that later.

Okay, I’ve already broken all the “writing tight” rules so will sign off for now and save more for the next blog. We’ll also ask ourselves the question: “What is ‘cheap grace’ and am I ever guilty of turning God’s rich grace into ‘cheap grace’?

Stay tuned….

A Few Thoughts on Grace

A Few Thoughts on Grace

I’m not sure it’s possible to limit a post to just “a few thoughts on grace” — not when it’s God’s grace we’re talking about. God’ grace is so rich in it’s depth, and is truly “amazing” in its availability and sufficiency. In 2 Peter, vs 16-17, the apostle Peter warned the Christians to whom he was writing that they should be aware of those who were twisting the Scriptures and not be carried away by their errors and lose their stability. Instead, in vs 18, he encourages them to “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.”

But, we can’t “grow” in God’s grace until we have first personally experienced the magnitude of his grace demonstrated for sinful man when Christ died on the cross for our sins to make possible our salvation from the penalty of our sin. Ephesians 2:8 states plainly that we have been saved by grace — God’s unmerited favor toward us through faith — and none of this is because of anything we have done or can do. The verse goes on to say “… and this is not your own doing (not of any works we can do), but it is the gift of God to us. I accepted God’s gift of grace and salvation as a young child, but it was a more recent date when God unmistakably showed me how little I appreciated his grace. To be honest, I didn’t see myself as a “really bad” sinner. Oh, I realized I was a sinner enough to need a Savior, but I was sure it didn’t require as much of God’s grace to save me, as say the apostle Paul who had Christians imprisoned and some killed. Or maybe even serial killer, Ted Bundy, who came to accept Christ on death row in prison. These guys were really bad dudes…and I was sure it took up a lot more of God’s grace for forgiveness of their sin than I did for me as a child of seven…or for that matter, as an older Christian who still committed some “little” sins — or so I thought.

God in his love … and grace.. gave me a rude awakening of my need for God’s grace equally as much as the worse of sinners (that’s a story for another time). He wanted me to see the evil in my heart as he saw it and learn to appreciate his grace. In our eagerness to get to verse 8 in Ephesians 2, we tend to rush through vs 7 and miss the richness of that verse. “so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace toward us in Christ Jesus.” Some day… God’s going to put me on display….and proudly proclaim: “Look at the immeasurable riches of my grace I poured out on Ann. Anything she became or achieved was because of my grace poured into her life.” Reminds me of verses 7 & 8 in chapter 1 of Ephesians where Paul again was talking about the riches of God’s grace and how He had “lavished” his grace upon us. Don’t you just love that word “lavished!” It’s rich in meaning. Webster defines lavish this way: “expended or produced in abundance; marked by profusion or excess.” What a beautiful description of the heart of God toward us….he just “heaps” up his grace on us!

Not only are we to “grow” in our understanding and appreciation of God’s rich, abundant grace toward us, even though we are totaling undeserving, but he also wants us to grow in the way we extend that same grace to others.

But that’s a blog for another day. Stay tuned……

My First Blog — a “Foreshadow”

There are some “perks” to growing old. Let me change that — I prefer “maturing gracefully.” Lincoln University, in Jefferson City, MO is located only a few miles from my home. Several years ago I learned that the University offered a special “perk” for “Senior Citizens” 65 and over, allowing them to audit classes for only $25 a semester after a one-time application fee. They even provided a complimentary parking pass to park in student parking! It was a deal I couldn’t pass up and an opportunity to take a class in Creative Writing that I had wanted to take for years.

Much to my surprise, however, I discovered that the class was Creative Writing for fiction–
not something I was particularly interested in or thought I had any talent for, but since that was the only creative writing class offered, I decided it would probably provide some general principles to improve my writing. One of the terms I learned that is effectively used in fiction writing was “foreshadowing” — inserting something early in the book or short story that is a subtle indication of something important that will be revealed later.

So, consider this, my first attempt at blogging, a “foreshadow” of something important that will be revealed later! That’s all I’ll say at this time. (Are you hooked yet?)

The first big decision in starting to blog is to decide what to name your blog. If possible, you want a name that is distinctly yours and yet easy for people to find, and creative, if possible. The past few years the Lord has been teaching me experientially what it means to walk in Biblical truth and grace, so that seemed a good name to use for my blog… something about truth and grace. I searched on WordPress to see if any one else had used those words in their blog name….and to my amazement every conceivable arrangement of those words seemed to be already in use. So, I decided to name my blog, at least initially, something that was personally mine — “Ann M. Mobley.” See how much I benefited from my taking a Creative Writing class?

My first blog post is going to be brief, although those of you who know me well, know writing “tight” is something I have to work at! I do want to draw your attention to the Scripture verse by my blog portrait — “.. grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” (2 Peter 3:18). In God’s providential grace, I was exposed early in life to the good news of the truth of God’s Word. Like all the rest of mankind, I was born a sinner and therefore it was my nature to be sinful and I needed to be forgiven of my sins in order to have a relationship with God. Even as a child of seven, I could understand that, and also understand that God loved me very much and had sent his Son, Jesus, into the world to die for my sin, and be raised back to life by God, to demonstrate that Jesus’ payment for my sin (and the sins of all who trusted him) was sufficient. With the simple faith of a child, I received Jesus as my Savior, and began a wonderful, life-long journey of “growing in the grace and knowledge of my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.”

That on-going journey is some of the things I will be sharing from time to time on this blog.
I’ve often said I could sum up the testimony of my life in four words: “God has been faithful!”
But if I did only that, you would miss all the amazing ways he has orchestrated and displayed that faithfulness. I hope you will stay tuned for my frequent, but not regularly scheduled, postings.

Still learning to walk in truth and grace…..

Ann