Permeating Presence of Grace

20 02 2010

It has been such a long time since I posted. I have had all these ideas for posts floating in my mind, but because I have been busy nothing has really resulted from those thoughts. This post has been in my mind since this past June, and I finally decided to sit down and write it. I actually put down the title of the post in August. I guess it takes a lot of motivation for me to sit down write anything. (Warning: I may go on a few tangents just because there are a lot of things I just wanted to insert into this post)

I was in lab working on my transfections in the hood when my mind started thinking about grace. C.J. Mahaney’s sermon from Resolved 2009 called “Who’s Really at Work?” was playing on my phone, and as I heard him preach on Philippians 2:12-13 I was struck by God’s amazing grace. (By the way, I love the book of Philippians, especially as God revealed Himself through it in so many appropriate ways last year. Ahh the epistle of Philippians is so crazy good.)

“So then, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.”

Philippians 2:12-13

Back to grace. How often I talk about grace and fail to understand what grace truly means. Not just defining it in the Greek or doing a biblical survey of the word, but truly how grace impacts my life and my worship.  Do I simply utter the word grace without thought? Or am I humbled and grateful at the unmerited favor God bestowed unto me in my salvation? Do I see how grace continually affects every area of my life?

How to write about such a broad topic as grace? I thought back to a Sunday school lesson James Szeto taught on worship. I remember at the end he recommended to write down how we can worship in every aspect of our life. To write down how we can worship with our attitude, in schoolwork, with parents, and in so many more areas. Going back home and seeing how many ways I could worship really convicted and stuck with me. Side note: I find it interesting that the people we teach often grasp the things we do not emphasize, yet many times we have to endlessly repeat the ideas we want to emphasize. A thought or reflection we brush over quickly in our conversations can impact a small groupie or friend so much. I guess it is just one of the joys of teaching, and a reminder that our lives teach in far greater ways than our words. Anyways, I thought the practice of writing how I can live out 1 Corinthians 10:31 in my life was super helpful. So my thoughts on grace will be more of a list of how marvelous grace is and how it truly does permeate into every nook of my life. Thinking about how God displays grace in my life is pretty amazing because one thought connects to another and then to another, and pretty soon I see His grace everywhere.

The grace of God in my salvation is the most evident working of grace, yet is often the most under appreciated. O how I fail to preach the gospel to myself daily. What grace there is in the work of the cross. I remember thinking in high school how boring my testimony was as I wrote it out for my baptism. I wondered how I might spice it up a bit. But salvation is a miracle of God. A miracle! Do I realize that heaven rejoices over the salvation of a sinner (Luke 15:10)? Hearing a testimony is witnessing God’s miraculous work of salvation in someone’s heart. So many times I lose sight of what grace there is in salvation. The grace of God in regenerating our hearts so that we could be convicted of and repent of our sin. The grace God demonstrated in offering His Son for me, a wretched sinner. The grace of saving me through faith, a faith which is given by grace. I think the only proper response to that type of grace is to be humbled and worship.

The grace of God in giving me faith. Often I wonder why God chose me? Why should I believe, while my friend hardens his heart to the gospel? I cannot answer that question, except by saying because God willed it that way. And I can only respond with thanksgiving. I have been reading through Hebrews 11 a lot for small group, and I appreciate Hebrews 11:1 so much. The second part says faith is the conviction of things not seen. As humans, we look out at creation and typically respond with awe. The unbeliever feels their smallness and admires the power of nature. This is because as Romans 1 says, all of creation testifies of God. The believer, likewise, is humbled in their smallness. Yet, there is a drastic difference between the believer and unbeliever. As we sit on the beach, hear the crashing waves pounding on the shore, observe the reflection of the moon on the ocean, and see the expanse of the heavens with the glittering stars, we cannot help but see God’s hand in all of creation. And what allows us to see God’s sovereignty in His creation? Grace.

The grace of God that allows me to recognize sin and fight sin with the Spirit. I can easily get discouraged battling the same sins over and over. Why can I not be content in God? Why do I allow pride to manifest itself in my thoughts, words, and actions? Why am I anxious? Yet, the very fact that I see sin and desire to remove it from my life is God’s grace. The struggle of Paul in Romans 7:14-25 over his own sin is not something that happens in an unbeliever’s life. God has given us the Spirit of God, so that we would fight against temptation and sin. What grace there is in simply being able to abhor sin in our lives. A further outworking of grace is in being able to take off sin and put on righteousness. Why are we no longer slaves to sin, and now slaves to righteousness? God’s grace in our lives in salvation. We have victory in Christ over sin because of grace! We may wrestle with sin, we may be discouraged, but we ultimately have victory in Christ.

The grace of God in our sanctification. Going back to Philippians 2:12-13, Paul describes the process of sanctification. We are called to do our part in working out our salvation with fear and trembling, and God is at work in us simultaneously. So sanctification requires us to work, while God works in us. The fact that God is sanctifying us is an act of grace. But even greater is the fact that this work is not 50:50. It is not as if I put in half the share of the work and God decides to chip in the other half. God takes the meager offering of my pursuit of holiness and multiplies it a billion-fold to sanctify me. What grace there is that God does the greater part in my sanctification. Also, God removes our guilt of sin so that we can battle sin, and pursue sanctification. It is His grace that allows me to have the hope to pursue holiness.

The grace that God is sovereign over all things and we can trust that He is causing all things to work together for the good of those who love Him. Romans 8:28

The grace that allows us to care for one another, bear others’ burdens, and confess sin to one another.

The grace that God changes our hearts and our lives.

The grace of God toward Israel in promising future restoration.

The grace that we can learn from all the instances of our lives, both big and small.

The grace of being able to take communion and recognize both the weightiness of our sin and Christ’s shed blood.

The grace that God disciplines us in our faith. Hebrews 12:4-13

The grace of trials to strengthen our faith and cause us to give praise to Him. 1 Peter 1:6-9

The grace that the Father provided His Son as an example for us to follow.

The grace that God sent the Spirit to help us live.

The grace that we may have foresight to see the consequences of sin and instead turn toward the immensely more satisfying Christ.

The grace to depend on God.

The grace everyday to deal with the trouble we encounter each day.

The grace that He can take our inadequacy and use it to bring Himself glory.

The grace of God’s promises revealed in Scripture that allow us to anticipate with faith and live with an eternal perspective.

I wish I could expand on all those. There are so many other evidences of grace in my life. I did not even get to the “small” examples of grace in my everyday life e.g. enjoying food with friends ahh KBBQ. I should stop, though, because this post is getting long and I have sound team.

One last thought is related to a hymn we have been singing at GOC, “There is a Fountain Filled with Blood.” (Such a good song) The first stanza goes

There is a fountain filled with blood drawn from Emmanuel’s veins;
And sinners plunged beneath that flood lose all their guilty stains.
Lose all their guilty stains, lose all their guilty stains;
And sinners plunged beneath that flood lose all their guilty stains.

The richness of salvation is so well captured in those words. Yet, those words are just a shadow of the greatness of God’s grace worked out in our salvation. I love the words “plunged beneath that flood lose all their guilty stains.” Relating this back to grace, I feel like I commonly narrow my view of God so that I only see a slow trickle of His grace in my life. O that my eyes would be opened anew to see and experience the full blown flood of grace in my life. That as I stand under that massive flood of grace I could honestly declare how awesome is my God!




One response

21 02 2010

yesssssssss dan wu! great worship-inducing reflections.

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