Sunday, 25 October 2015

Grace to Serve ~ Ganeida

Reading: 1 Corinthians 12.

Serving Grace.

I promised that this week we would look at Grace to Serve because our God is not a God of disorder but of peace.  Amen. 1 Cor 14:33  So there is an internal logic to the way God goes about things & one of the ways The Spirit leads us is to give us peace in our hearts no matter our circumstances.

Now we understand that there are certain things all believers are commanded to do: to preach the gospel; to pray; to live righteously etc

In 1 Corinthians 12 we are given a list of gifts:
first are apostles,
second are prophets,
third are teachers,
then those who do miracles,
those who have the gift of healing,
those who can help others,
those who have the gift of leadership,
those who speak in unknown languages.

And in Romans 12:6-8 we are given a slightly different perspective: In his grace, God has given us different gifts for doing certain things well. So if God has given you the ability to prophesy, speak out with as much faith as God has given you. If your gift is serving others, serve them well. If you are a teacher, teach well. If your gift is to encourage others, be encouraging. If it is giving, give generously. If God has given you leadership ability, take the responsibility seriously. And if you have a gift for showing kindness to others, do it gladly.

Corinthians is a very good book to look at when thinking about gifts & service because they were  a very gifted church but ~ they were out of order. Paul had to write & correct them.  In Ephesians 4 he says something very pertinent.  Verse 11 Now these are the gifts Christ gave to the church: the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, and the pastors and teachers. 12 Their responsibility is to equip God’s people to do his work and build up the church, the body of Christ. 
Please note: These gifts are given to the church ~ not just to individual believers & they are given for a very specific purpose: to equip God’s people.

This is the very first thing.  God has a set order. One of the jobs of church leaders is to help believers use their gifts properly for the kingdom of God.  We all know & have heard of believers who won’t come under their proper authorities & cause all sorts of confusion in the body of Christ because they are exercising their gift at everybody else’s expense~ prophets who won’t subject their words to the scrutiny of the leadership; Teachers pushing a doctrine their church does not endorse; people who insist that a church does this that or the other even though that might not be the leadership’s vision for that particular church at that particular time.

Think about the order of leadership for just a moment.  First are apostles.  Why?  Because they are the sent ones ~ the church planters; the ones who begin a new work & often it is hard & unrewarding & when it begins to grow & bear fruit they are called to somewhere new.

Next are the prophets.  Why?  Primarily a prophet is a preacher of the word but often they will be visionaries.  They carry the vision God gives to any particular church & part of their job is to align the people with the work God has for them ~ & train them up!  They may be rather difficult people ~ I mean just look at our examples in the bible.  Their primary gifting is unlikely to be pastoral either.

Next are teachers…I think you see where I am going with this.  Every single person down the chain of command must align themselves with the Holy Spirit & subject themselves to the overall vision God has for any particular church.  If they don’t do this you end up with a church where everyone is off doing whatever seems right in his own eyes & there is no cohesion.

We know this. We know churches where this has happened.  And we know people!    This is where Grace comes in.  This is our third week now on Grace & so we should be familiar with certain things about Grace.  It is a gift from God.  It is God’s unmerited favour.  It is closely related to joy & to the charismatic gifts.  It is sometimes the word used to refer to a monetary gift.

So what does grace mean when we talk about serving?

Eph 3:7 By God's grace and mighty power, I have been given the privilege of serving him by spreading this Good News.

Eph 3:2 Surely you have heard about the administration of God's grace that was given to me for you,

Romans 3:5 What, after all, is Apollos? And what is Paul? Only servants, through whom you came to believe--as the Lord has assigned to each his task

So know this: if you have been called to serve [& we have all been called to serve], in whatever capacity, there is grace available for you.  Here is the thing though; the grace you need will most likely not be for the operation of the gift, whatever that is.  That is because the gift is already part of God’s Grace to you Romans 11:29 for the gifts & calling of God are irrevocable.  As we saw when we looked at the root word of grace it includes favour, joy & the charismatic gifts. Even if you have been asked to do something you would not normally do, if you are being led by the Holy Spirit you will have peace in your heart &  a quiet confidence from knowing it is God working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him. Phil 2:13 That is grace.

Look again at Eph 3:2 Surely you have heard about the administration of God's grace that was given to me for you… What is the grace given for?  For dealing with the people! I do not think Paul was an easy man.  I do not think, in the natural, he was either a kind or a forgiving man.  Think about what he was before Damascus.  However he was given grace to deal with God’s people! Didōmi means to supply.  He was given a supply of grace to deal with the people!  What he did with that grace was his responsibility but it was available for his use.

When we talk about grace to serve we are talking about empowerment. 2 Corinthians 12:9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, · for my power is fulfilled in weakness… Here charis & dynamis are tied together.  It does require co~operation with the Holy Spirit but when we are weak & humble God’s grace empowers us. Pride always, always blocks the working of God in our lives. If nothing else, if we are proud we think we can do it in our own strength & that’s what we do!

Now Grace is not some ethereal woo~woo hoodoo do~da~di what’sit.  Like holiness, or righteousness or any other characteristic in the bible it is very concrete & it has a very concrete application.  This is why we spend so much time defining our terms when we start.  We don’t land with some vague wishy~washy idea of what God is talking about. We nut out the various meanings so that we understand their meaning in context. Remember we saw how the root word chairō can mean a number of things: favour, yes, but also joy, giving or a part of the charismatic gifts.  And yes, I will keep saying the same thing over & over because that way you will remember it!

God is not in the business of asking us to do the impossible without giving us the tools we need.  Grace is a tool. Thus Grace can be acquired & we know from Peter it can be multiplied. 1  Peter 1:2 Grace & peace be multiplied unto you through the knowledge of God & Jesus our Lord.

So if Grace is a tool how can we acquire it? Is there something we can do?  How is it multiplied?  Remember that today I am talking specifically about grace to serve, not saving grace or standing grace.  Thus we are looking specifically at grace in relation to gifts given both to individuals & the church body for use in serving God through others. No believer is ungifted so all of us need grace to utilise our gift for the glory of God.

Point 1.  2nd Timothy 2:1 Thou therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. I will point out the obvious & say this is an instruction, that it is something we are to do. Paul is not saying here that God is just going to rain some ethereal thing down on us.

Look at Ephesians 6:10 Finally, my brethren be strong in the Lord, & in the power of His might.

Ok, Grace is in Christ but where is Christ?  Christ is seated at the right hand of God, the place of authority.  He has given us His Spirit to actually reside in us. In other words one of the things Paul is saying here is that we must be strengthened inwardly ~endunamou [strengthened] means to be strengthened inwardly by Christ, through His Holy Spirit.

Point 2 We have Christ’s Spirit & have been given His name to wield His authority on earth so we can access grace through one of 2 ways.  Firstly through the empowerment of the Holy Spirit operating in our lives.  Eph 3:6 I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit. Some versions read *The Inner Man.* This would equate with 2 Cor 4:16 Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day.

Secondly 1 Cor 14:4 tells us that praying in tongues edifies us ~ oikodomeō implies the construction of something, to build something up. Jude 20 says exactly the same thing. Remember we already have a close correlation between grace & the charismatic.

Point 3.

The third way we can grow in grace is through knowledge. 2 Peter 3:18 exhorts us to grow in the grace & knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ.  When you know something is true you are not going to be blown about by every wind of doctrine that comes your way.  You are going to be firmly established & thus able to serve with a confident heart.
There are 2 types of knowledge & when it comes to serving grace both are important.  You must know who the Bible says you are in Christ & what He can do for you & you must have the sort of personal relationship with Him that has experiential knowledge of His power working in you. Ephesians has a prayer we often pray ~ that we be filled with spiritual wisdom & understanding. Why? So that we might know the exceeding greatness of His power towards us.  His grace operating in & through us!

If we can have more of something we can ask for it ~ but that only works if we have met any prerequisite requirements. This is very true of grace to serve.  Many Christians do many good works & they are going to be astonished when those works go up like straw in God’s cleansing fire.  God always clearly sets out His standards & requirements for anything He asks of us.  This is as true of service for Him as for anything else. We need His grace ~ if for no other reason than it keeps us humble.  We cannot boast when it is God working in us & not we ourselves.

We need God’s supernatural power working in our lives.  Our fallen humanity is not ever going to impress anyone but the power of God working in us with the Living Word of God ~ Now that is impressive! Remember Mark 16:17 promises the believer this supernatural power.  This is God’s grace working unto salvation ~ but also in serving that the unsaved might believe & also enter into God’s Kingdom. 

Saturday, 17 October 2015

Grace. ~ Rabqa

Grace teaches us that The spirit of grace instructs us from the inside. Let the holy spirit of God council you and teach you how to live in this
present world.

Zechariah 12:10
And I will pour on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem the Spirit of grace and supplication; then they will look on Me whom they pierced. Yes, they will mourn for Him as one mourns for his only son, and grieve for Him as one grieves for a first born.

The outpouring of the Sprite of Grace & supplication results in conviction & repentance (Jn 16:8-11). Both grace & supplication have the same Hebrew root, meaning to come amenable to someone. The Holy Spirit breaks through any hostility to the Messiah, making the inhabitants of Jerusalem receptive to Him.

The Hebrew word for grace is chen which means favour, grace, graciousness, kindness, beauty, pleasantness, charm, attractiveness, lovingness, & affectionate regard. The root word chanan means to act graciously or mercifully towards someone; to be compassionate, to be favourably inclined. God's grace poured out upon Jerusalem enables them to look longingly & beseechingly toward their pierced King. God's grace will result in Israel’s seeing Jesus as someone of infinite beauty. His goodness enables them to repent. The Holy Spirit is called "The Spirit of Grace" in Heb 10:29, a title no doubt inspired by this reference in Zechariah.

If you listen to the voice of the world, you will be worldly minded, or carnally minded, which is but death but, if you tune into the voice of the Spirit of grace you can become quite spiritually minded; and according to the Word, that is alive and at peace. So, when the spirit of God speaks to you through the still small voice inside your heart, listen and obey Him. His way works! Trust him and remember that he's got your well-being
in mind.

Maybe He's asking you to eliminate some activity that's consuming too much of your time and attention. Or maybe He's prompting you to get up a little earlier and spend more time in the Word and in prayer. Whatever he is telling you to do, if you'll do it you'll be stronger in the grace of God and consequently in the blessings of God don't hesitate another moment do it! If you want to make a change. 1Corinthians 3: 8- 9.
Now he who plants and he who waters are one, and each one will receive his own reward according to his own labour. For we are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s field, you are God’s building

This shows that we are God's field, agriculture shows the essential qualities, but stresses they have nothing to boast about since God gives the increase.

Titus 2:11 For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men.

This teaches us to, deny ungodliness & worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, & godly, in this present world.

We must stand strongly in grace. SAY "No" to ungodliness & worldliness. Be self-controlled in your practice of godly behaviour BE EAGER to do what is good.

Depending on God's grace (that is godliness is impossible any other way, the godly person exemplifies self control say NO to ungodly & worldly attitudes & behaviour & say YES to righteous & godly living. This involves submissive obedience to governing authorities. A key part of Godly living is an eager readiness to do good works! Godly speech is humble, peaceable, & never slanderous or argumentative.

A covenant of grace. That's what you and I have with almighty God. If we could truly grasp the significance of that, we'd never be the same again.

What exactly is the covenant of grace? It's a relationship of favour that gives you access to someone else's power. An illustration of the Covenant of grace is the covenant of the old Sicilian "family," members with the godfather of the family as the head. In that group a weak person might come in and ask the Don for a favour & the Don would say, I will grant this favour & I will ask a favour of you,& when that time comes I will collect it.

Once that was said the weak person would become excited. Suddenly he knew he no longer would have this problem because anyone who tried to rough him up would now have to face the godfather, the one with the power. Suddenly, that guy's attitude would change he would leave the presence of the head of the family in the full assurance at that he didn't have a thing to worry about. He was no longer small and powerless
in his own mind. He had gained favour (grace) with the powerful.

He'd, walk out thinking, "Everything is handled. All I have to do now is what ever the Don asks me to do -and the Don knows that I don't have have anything, so whatever he asked me to do, he'll provide the wherewithal to do it".

That's grace. God's willingness to enter into a blood covenant with you and give you everything He has in exchange for everything you have. He took your sin to give you his righteousness. He took your sickness to give you His health. You took your poverty in order to meet all your needs according to his riches in Glory. Whenever he ask you to do something he provides everything you need to carry it out.

The great Jehovah, God of heaven and earth, is your Father God. Can you understand that? If you're under the blood of Jesus, you've been made a covenant child of the most powerful being in the universe.

Luke 4: 14 to 21.
Then Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit to Galilee, and news of Him went out through all the surrounding region. And He taught in their synagogues, being glorified by all. So He came to Nazareth, where He had been brought up. And as His custom was, He went into the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and stood up to read. And He was handed the book of the prophet Isaiah. And when He had opened the book, He found the place where it was written: “The Spirit of the LORD is upon Me, Because He has anointed Me To preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the broken-hearted, To proclaim liberty to the captives And recovery of sight to the blind, To set at liberty those who are oppressed; To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD.” Then He closed the book, and gave it back to the attendant and sat down. And the eyes of all who were in the synagogue were fixed on Him. And He began to say to them, “Today this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.”

The Galilean ministry of Jesus began about a
year after Jesus' baptism & temptation, with most of the time spent in Judean ministry (Jn 2:1-4:43). Luke emphasises the power of the Spirit in Jesus."

The Synagogue originated during in the Exile, when the Jews were separated from the temple services in Jerusalem. It was both a religious & educational institution. A member or a visitor who was judged worthy was frequently asked to read the Scripture & make appropriate comments.

Verses 17-21 is the prophecy in Isaiah 61:1; 2 describes the deliverance of Israel from exile in Babylon in terms of the year of Jubilee, but it's ultimate fulfilment awaited the coming of the Messianic age. Jesus boldly claims to be the promised Messiah, & His defined ministry here becomes the ongoing essence of the Good News of the gospel of the kingdom of God. Luke later makes it clear He passed this same ministry on to the entire church (Acts 1: 1-2)

In vv 21-22 We see the response of marvel at the words of Jesus is qualified by scepticism since His hearers know His earthly origin.

When you run into impossible situations, situations you don't have the strength or the ability to handle, are you often attempted to give up & accept defeat? Don't instead look to God, because His word says His strength is about to be made perfect in you.

The word strength translated in this Scripture is ischys means God's miracle working power. Just think about that. When your human strength ends, God has

If you look in Acts 14, you can see that promise in action. The apostle Paul was stoned by a group of Jews, taken out of the city & left for dead, Paul's human strength had ended. He was absolutely powerless.

But the disciples gathered around him & prayed, & the Lord raised him up & he went on his way. In other words, when Paul didn't have enough human strength to overcome, God's miracle – working power was sufficient for him. It enabled him to be an overcomer in spite of his weakness!

Many scholars believe that Paul was describing his near death experience in 2 Corinthians 12:2-5. It is possible that when Paul rose up & went into the city he was actually raised from the dead.

At the very least he was miraculously healed.

So if you are facing a crisis today, if you are sick & medicine has failed you, if your finances are out of control, If your family is falling apart, if bad habits have you hopelessly bound, If you have done absolutely all you know & you still haven't got results, then rejoice for when human strength ends, the power of God excels!

God's is sufficient for you. When Paul had a thorn in the flesh which came by a messenger of satan God said to him in 2 Corinthians 12:9 "My grace is sufficient for you, for my strength is made perfect in your weakness" Paul said "Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest on me.

Though it is fruitless to try to identify the thorn it caused Paul a great deal of grief but ultimately served a good purpose, becoming the occasion for a revelation to him of the over coming grace of God, which proved sufficient in the midst of Paul's weakness.

We looked at the Hebrew word for grace now we learn what it means in the Greek. The Greek
word is Charis which comes from the same root as chara which is joy, & chairo, to rejoice. Charis causes rejoicing. It is the word for God's grace as extended to sinful man. It signifies unmerited favour. Undeserved blessing, a free gift. Lk 15:21-22,24

And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight, and am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ “But the father said to his servants, ‘Bring out the best robe and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand and sandals on his feet. for this my son was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ And they began to be merry.

In today's world we always seem to be proving ourselves constantly, we feel we have to do right, at work, among friends, & even at home, we are always working to win the approval of those we need. Working to convince those around us that we deserve the salary we are paid, friendships,& even the love they give us.

We wonder is there an escape?

Yes, yes there is it is called grace. Unearned, & undeserved favour & acceptance. There is only one place we can find it – in the heart of God Himself.

There is no better picture of God's grace than found in the story of the prodigal son. Few of us today can really feel the impact of that story like those first Jewish listeners Jesus told it to. You see by there standers the prodigal son had committed some of the most despicable acts possible. He had not only taken advantage of his father & spent his inheritance in riotous living, he had left the nation of Israel & made covenant as a foreigner – a pig farmer!

That was as low as you could get. In their eyes, that boy's rebellion was so serious his fathers only recourse was to disown him. But that is not what his father did! He welcomed his repentant son home with open arms. He offered him grace – unmerited favour – that was based on the fathers love rather than the son's performance.

Next time you catch yourself struggling to make up to God for something you have done wrong, & working to win His approval, let the story of the prodigal son set you free. Let it remind you that, in spite of your sins, Your Father has received you with open arms, He's put a robe of righteousness on your back, His signet ring on your hand, & He's put the shoes of son ship on your feet!

Do you feel unworthy of all that? God hasn't based His relationship with you on your worthiness. He has based it on His love for you. You don't have to struggle to prove yourself to him. As far as He is concerned you are a proven success. Lk 15:11-32

Then He said: “A certain man had two sons. And the younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the portion of goods that falls to me.’ So he divided to them his livelihood. And not many days after, the younger son gathered all together, journeyed to a far country, and there wasted his possessions with prodigal living. But when he had spent all, there arose a severe famine in that land, and he began to be in want. Then he went and joined himself to a citizen of that country, and he sent him into his fields to feed swine. And he would gladly have filled his stomach with the pods that the swine ate, and no one gave him anything. “But when he came to himself, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger! I will arise and go to my father, and will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and
before you, and I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Make me like one of your hired servants.”’ “And he arose and came to his father. But when he was still a great way off, his father saw him and had compassion, and ran and fell on his neck and kissed him. And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight, and am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ “But the father said to his servants, ‘Bring out the best robe and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand and sandals on his feet. And bring the fatted calf here and kill it, and let us eat and be merry; for this my son was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ And they began to be merry. “Now his older son was in the field. And as he came and drew near to the house, he heard music and dancing. So he called one of the servants and asked what these things meant. And he said to him, ‘Your brother has come, and because he has received him safe and sound, your father has killed the fatted calf.’ “But he was angry and would not go in. Therefore his father came out and pleaded with
him. So he answered and said to his father, ‘Lo, these many years I have been serving you; I never transgressed your commandment at any time; and yet you never gave me a young goat, that I might make merry with my friends. But as soon as this son of yours came, who has devoured your livelihood with harlots, you killed the fatted calf for him.’ “And he said to him, ‘Son, you are always with me, and all that I have is yours. It was right that we should make merry and be glad, for your brother was dead and is alive again, and was lost and is found."

We will now have a look at Acts 4:33 And with great power the apostles gave witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And great grace was upon them all.

The Greek word for power is dunamis which means energy, power, great force, great ability, & strength, it is sometimes used to describe the powers of the world to come at work upon the Earth & divine power overcoming all resistance (Compare "dynamic," "dynamite," & dynamo meter.") The dunamis in Jesus resulted in dramatic transformations. This is the norm for Spirit led & Spirit led Churches.

Most believers know the common definition of the beautiful word "grace" as "the unmerited favour of God." (As explained earlier)This is wonderfully true & clearly relates to our salvation apart from the works or energy of our flesh (Eph 2:7-9)

Eph 2:8 Paul tells us in this verse that grace is a wonderful thing, it is God's unmerited favour by which we are saved

The Holy Spirit ministers grace to us from God the father. It can be said that grace is the Holy Spirit's power flowing out from God's throne to save us; it enables us to live holy lives & to accomplish the will of God.

But "grace" used in this text (" great grace") & texts such as Luke 2:40 & Acts 11:32 refer to "operations of the powers of God." Just as God in mercy saves us by His grace, so the grace is manifested in great dynamic ways where the Holy Spirit is at work in power Zac 4:7 provides an illustration of this truth. "The prophet instructed Zerubbabel to speak "grace" to the mountain" - the hindrance he faced in the trying
task of rebuilding God's temple. Speaking "grace" to obstacles we face is an action of faith, drawing on the operations of God's great power. We only speak; the work is entirely His-by is gracious power & for His great glory.

When we accept salvation we receive it only through the power of His grace, we can trust that His same grace will operate in & through us, as it has been shown to us. As with the early disciples, great authority & power in other issues flowed through them & in their midst. As we call upon the name of the Lord, speaking His grace into the face of our mountainous impossibilities, we have every reason to expect "great power" & "great grace " today too Acts 3:6/ Rom 10:9-10)

All human beings have evil tendencies, but James 4:6 teaches us that God will give us more & more grace to deal with these tendencies.

Some Christians spend much of their life trying to overcome their own wrong motives & intentions. All their trying only brings much frustration. They must come to a place of humility & learn that God gives grace to the humble, not the proud. (1Pet 5:5).

We have our own ideas about what we can accomplish, but we often think more highly of ourselves then we ought. We need a humble attitude, knowing that apart from God, we can do nothing.

If you are planning your own way, trying to make things happen in the strength of your own flesh, then no doubt you are frustrated. You have probably said "no matter what I do, nothing seems to work!" Nothing ever will until you learn to trust in God's grace.

Paul tells us in Romans 11:6 is that grace & works are diametrically opposed to one another.
They cannot fellowship together or have anything to do with each other.

To put it another way, grace & works of the flesh are mutually exclusive. Where one exists the cannot exist.

If you & I are into works, then we are out of grace. If we are in grace, then we are out of works. Any time we get into works, the grace of God ceases to operate on our behalf. God has no choice but to back off & wait until we have finished trying to handle things ourselves. We must take our hands of the situations, circumstances, & relationships that concern us-& let God's grace go to work for us.

We need to relax. Let God be God. Stop being so hard on ourselves. Change is a process; it comes little by little.

2Peter 3:18 Encourages to grow in grace. We grow in grace by putting our faith in God & receiving His grace in situations that are difficult or impossible for us. Sometimes we put our faith in God, & He gives us grace for deliverance. At other times we put our faith in God, & He gives us grace to "go through." We must leave that choice to Him & know that either way we can have victory, but only by grace through faith.

If you are struggling with something right now in your life, ask your self honestly if you are putting your faith in God & that you believe His grace will meet the need. Remember grace is unmerited favour to us sinners. It is God's power coming into our situation to do for us what we cannot do for ourselves.

Wednesday, 14 October 2015

Grace ~ Ganeida

Before we move into our study proper I want to make sure we are all on the same page so when I talk of God’s grace we all understand what I mean by that term.  This is probably one of the most important doctrines to understand correctly because grace covers a lot of faults & misunderstandings.

At its simplest Grace is the unmerited favour of God towards us.

By now you all know what I’m going to say next…there’s so much more to it than that! 
So let’s define our terms.  The Greek word used is charis ~ grace, favour.  It is the attitude of kindness towards someone who doesn’t deserve it that wishes to prosper them. James D.G. Dunn  says it this way; Grace denotes effective divine power in the experience of men.”  This is why it is so often used as a blessing in the N.T ~ May the God of all Grace…that is He in whom all the abundance of blessing is found.  It is effected by the ministry of the Holy Spirit in our lives.

We have never deserved God’s grace ~ but we get it anyway.  Grace understands we can never be saved by our works, we can never be saved by the law but works out our salvation in us anyway. In this sense grace is the love of God in action.  Eph 2:8&9 for it is by grace you have been saved, through faith~and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God~ not by works, so that no one can boast.

The word most closely related to Charis [grace] is chara ~ joy.  Charis comes from chairein meaning to rejoice. We see that in the Greek Grace & Joy both come from the same root word: chairō
There is an interconnection.  We are saved by grace; the result is joy. We have joy in the Lord.  Joy is a fruit of the indwelling Spirit. Joy brings praise & thanksgiving.

Note: We have a Greek speaker in our congregation who pointed out she had only ever heard charis used to denote joy so the connection between Grace & Joy is closer than English speakers understand!

The Hebrew is a little more complicated as more than one word can be translated as *grace*.  We understand both hen & hesed can be translated that way so love & mercy as well as favour are implied.

So there is our foundation. We know from 1 Peter 1:2 that grace has quantity: Grace & peace be multiplied unto you through the knowledge of God & Jesus our Lord but that grace must be accessed:  Gal 2:21 I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain & that we can fall from grace ~ Gal 5:4 Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace.

We know there are different types of grace for different purposes.
·      Saving grace: Eph 2:8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:
·      Standing Grace ~Hebrews13:9 Be not carried about with divers and strange doctrines. For it is a good thing that the heart be established with grace; … & I will just mention here there are multiple ways we may need to stand: against satan, against the flesh, in difficulties, in prayer ~ you get the idea.
·      Serving grace. Eph 3:7 Whereof I was made a minister, according to the gift of the grace of God given unto me by the effectual working of his power.  

Grace is usually referred to as a gift & one of the more unusual uses of the word charis refers to a monetary gift as in 1 Cor., 16:3  When I come I will send your loving gift with a letter to Jerusalem, to be taken there by trustworthy messengers you yourselves will choose. Gift here is charis as it is in 2 Cor., 8:7  But just as you excel in everything--in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in complete earnestness and in your love for us~see that you also excel in this grace of giving.  So we see that giving is an aspect of the Grace of God & part of serving Him because it grows out of the love He has shed abroad in our hearts & reflects His image in us.

There is a 3rd word that has the same root: charisma.  From this we get our word charismatic. The charismatic gifts are by the grace of God through the empowerment of the Holy Spirit & result in our ability to rejoice before the Lord, minister effectively & continue in the good works he has prepared for us before the foundation of the world.

Put simply God’s grace is a gift that is, firstly unto salvation, then when it operates in our lives, brings joy & an ability to minister in whatever gifts the Lord has imparted to us.

Let me give you a story by way of illustration. I expect you’ve heard it before.  A nun was dressing a leper’s wounds in Africa when a visiting tourist made this comment:  I wouldn’t do your job for a million bucks!

Nor would I, the sister answered quietly. Grace leads us where the flesh would never go.

Now John 1 :17 says that Grace & Truth came through Jesus Christ. This is an important point because when we have the Holy Spirit we have access to God’s Grace because we have Jesus & we have His spirit & both reside with us. The Holy Spirit leads us into all Truth & Grace is part of that truth. 

Head knowledge is never going to be enough.  Lots & lots of people know about God. Many of them know more about God than I do. Satan & his demons know more about God than I do ~ but they do not know God as I do. 

Remember Ezekiel 28:14 says of satan Thou art the anointed cherub that covereth; and I have set thee so: thou wast upon the holy mountain of God; thou hast walked up and down in the midst of the stones of fire.
I can assure you, much as I think it would be super cool, I have not walked up & down in the midst of the stones of fire the way satan did. I have not been on the Holy Mountain as satan has. He was anointed. He was the cherub that covered God’s very throne, His presence. Satan knows things about God we do not.  He knows about the throne room; he’s been there [see Job]. He knows about the ministering angels.  And he fell.

There are things neither satan nor his demons will ever know, never experience. They have no access to God’s Grace. They can not experience forgiveness of sins.  No provision has been made for their redemption.  God’s Holy Spirit does not reside within as He does within me. In a sense you & I have what satan wanted ~ the ability to be like God.  Not to be God ~ but scripture says we have the mind of Christ [1Cor 2:16], the authority of Christ, [Ephesians 2/1 Cor 6:17] & power over demons by Christ’s authority. You begin to understand what an amazing gift grace is to us who have been granted the faith to believe in God’s son, Jesus Christ.

 Genesis says we were made in the image of God.  That means we have an ability to know Him in ways no other creature can. Think of those things you might be good at ~ maths, painting, gardening…all expressions of the nature of God; All ways by which we can experience Him & come to know Him.

Psalm 8
What is man that You are mindful of him,
And the son of man that You visit him?
For You have made him a little lower than the angels,[a]
And You have crowned him with glory and honour.

The Grace of God.  What a wonderful thing that is! We have done nothing to deserve God’s favour ~ quite the opposite in fact.  Yet while we were still sinners He sent His son. Grace…

The things of God always bring life; He is the life~giver. There is grace for salvation & that moves us out of the Kingdom of death & darkness into the Kingdom of light & life ~ the life Jesus promises us.  There is Grace to stand which establishes us in the faith.  And there is grace to serve because

Acts 20:24 says:
But I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God.

The very gospel we are called to share is called the gospel of grace ~ the story of God’s unmerited favour towards His creation. It is not a hard thing. Phil 2:13 , for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure. God’s grace covers us & our testimony, the witness of God’s Grace in our lives, is one of our most powerful weapons because no~one can deny it.

Over the coming weeks we are going to look at Grace in more depth as we consider what it means to have grace for life.

Sunday, 4 October 2015

Grace in Communion. ~ Rabqa

One of the dirtiest, most damaging lies that the devil ever told you was when he said, you aren't important. You don't ever have to believe that.
You are important! Every born again member in the church has a part to play in God's plan. God has something for you to do that no one else can do just like you and you can. If you don't take your place and do your part, things won't be quite right. You are probably thinking, I am just one person what could I possibly do that could be so significant? Gen 6

Now it came to pass, when men began to multiply on the face of the earth, and daughters were born to them, that the sons of God saw the daughters of men, that they were beautiful; and they took wives for themselves of all whom they chose. And the LORD said, “My Spirit shall not strive with man forever, for he is indeed flesh; yet his days shall be one hundred and twenty years.” There were giants on the earth in those days, and also afterward, when the sons of God came in to the daughters of men and they bore children to them. Those were the mighty men who were of old, men of renown. Then the LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And the LORD was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart

So the LORD said,I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth, both man and beast, creeping thing and birds of the air, for I am sorry that I have made them.” But Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD. 

This is the genealogy of Noah. Noah was a just man, perfect in his generations. Noah walked with God. And Noah begot three sons: Shem, Ham, and Japheth. The earth also was corrupt before God, and the earth was filled with violence. So God looked upon the earth, and indeed it was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted their way on the earth. And God said to Noah, “The end of all flesh has come before Me, for the earth is filled with violence through them; and behold, I will destroy them with the earth. Make yourself an ark of gopherwood; make rooms in the ark, and cover it inside and outside with pitch. And this is how you shall make it: The length of the ark shall be three
hundred cubits, its width fifty cubits, and its height thirty cubits. You shall make a window for the ark, and you shall finish it to a cubit from above; and set the door of the ark in its side. You shall make it with lower, second, and third decks. And behold, I Myself am bringing floodwaters on the earth, to destroy from under heaven all flesh in which is the breath of life; everything that is on the earth shall die. But I will establish My covenant with you; and you shall go into the ark—you, your sons, your wife, and your sons’ wives with you. And of every living thing of all flesh you shall bring two of every sort into the ark, to keep them alive with you; they shall be male and female. Of the birds after their kind, of animals after their kind, and of every creeping thing of the earth after its kind, two of every kind will come to you to keep them alive. And you shall take for yourself of all food that is eaten, and you shall gather it to yourself; and it shall be food for you and for them.” 

Thus Noah did; according to all that God commanded him, so he did
All we need to do is to look in Genesis 6, and you will see the answer to that question there you'll see that people on earth had became so wicked that God had regretted that he had made them.

He was ready to wipe out the whole population – but he didn't. Why? Because of one man Noah! One obedient man saved the human race.

Think about that what if Noah had said "This is just too much pressure for me. I can't live upright before God in the middle of this ungodly generation. I mean, everybody around me is living the other way. Every man round me imagines only evil in his heart. I can't make any difference in this dark world anyway I am just one man."

Praise God, Noah didn't say that he hadn't pictured himself as an insignificant man whose life didn't matter. According to Hebrews he saw himself as a man to whom God had spoken by faith he obeyed God and because of that he ended up being the only thing that stood between mankind and total destruction.

Next time you're tempted to shrug off the instructions of God and be disobedient, next time you catch yourself thinking it doesn't matter what I do, remember Noah, consider the fact that whether you understand it or not God is counting on you to carry out your part of his plan. Live like
you're someone important in the kingdom of God and sooner or later you realise you are.

Genesis 6 1-5 Teaches us we must understand that as a creature we are ultimately accountable to the creator, & to understand we can reproduce what we are. Therefore, we are to pursue Christ's likeness. God is creator, and only he has self-existence. We are created beings. God created all living things to reproduce after their own kind.

Verses1-2 Says Sons of God saw the daughters of men were beautiful; & they took wives for themselves... sons of God may mean godly men of the line of Seth. As opposed to Canes godless, descendants, superior men such as kings, or angels who rebelliously left haven to take women as wives. This latter view has imperative difficulties but that seems the most likely it also serves to reinforce the pre flood evil in the world for God abhors interbreeding of unlike species.

We see in verse 3 the Holy Spirit in his role as the life-sustaining breadth given to man at creation. God has now determined to reduce a man's life expectancy, seen in the symbolic number 120 years, bringing to an end the preceding period of remarkable longevity.

We see in verses 4 & 5 that the sons of God and their wives produced children who were giants; the mighty men who were of old, were later
wiped out by the flood. That degeneration of human race was proceeding rapidly, in spite of a few godly men such as Enosh, Enoch& Noah.
Gen 6:7-8

So the LORD said, “I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth, both man and beast, creeping thing and birds of the air, for I am sorry that I have made them.” But Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD.
Verse 18 is the first mention of a Biblical covenant God's protection surrounds the impending flood is His first instalment of the covenant promise.
Verses 19 – 22 we see the gathering of every living thing and all food as well as everyone survival inside the inside the ark, were obvious
miracles and records of sovereign control. Noah's obedience is a patriarchal model of God's working tandem with man for the establishing of His kingdom purposes on earth.

We received grace by faith. And to obtain the grace of God we need to continue to seek God's will for our lives and determine by God's grace is sufficient for us. Without God's grace we are lost.

Acts. 4:29-33 tells us that "Great grace equated to miracles, signs, & wonders in the early Church. The grace of God was upon them all. This means that they all experienced the presence of the Lord & therefore the power of the Holy Spirit was manifest in their lives.

Isa 1:19 If you are willing and obedient, You shall eat the good of the land; We see from this that willingness must be matched with obedience, willingness is not enough we must be obedient to God's will for our lives. If you are still wondering what God's will is for your life, Be at peace the Lord is preparing you for His will. Anyone who is willing to do God's will, is in the will of God.
We see in Genesis 12:1-3 that Abraham was obedient do to as the Lord told him, & He blessed him financially. In 2 Cor 9:8 shows us that God is willing to make all grace abound towards you, that you always having in all sufficiently in all things, may have abundance for every good work.

All, always, & every are the emphases in this verse. God can meet our needs- financially, spiritually so on & to meet the various needs of others. Grace is available to all that abandon themselves to the perfect will of God.
Mark 10:29-31 teaches that Jesus will be a debtor to no one. The blessings He gives will far outweigh material loss & persecution incurred in service to Him.
Paul had a good grip on what it meant to be saved by grace he wrote in Ephesians 2: 8
For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God,

Grace describes the undeserved kindness by which salvation is given, but it is also the power-word describing the Holy Spirit operational means. Grace is a force as well as a favour, a verb as well as a noun. 2 Corinthians 12:9
... My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.
Paul knew that though he persecuted the Christians – the grace of God saved him.
Ephesians 3:7
of which I became a minister according to the gift of the grace of God given to me by the effective working of His power.

Paul knew that the grace of God was an enablement for service. Galatians 5:4
You have become estranged from Christ, you who attempt to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace.

Paul knew that if they kept the law then they fell from grace. This teaches us to cherish the grace of God, & not to attempt to earn what can only be received as a gift. Love others freely as an act of faith.

Godliness results from Jesus Christ living through you by the Holy Spirit. It is not achieved by observing some external code. Any attempt to achieve righteousness through a list of external dos & don’t s is fruitless. God calls us to love & serve others as Jesus did, by the power of the same Holy Spirit & in the same gracious
freedom. 1 Corinthians 15:10
But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me was not in vain; but I laboured more abundantly than they all, yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.

The grace that was was upon Paul enabled him to labour more abundantly. 2 Timothy 1:6

Therefore I remind you to stir up the gift of God which is in you through the laying on of my hands.
Paul encouraged Timothy to stir up the gift in him through the laying on of hands. This principal applies to all believers. While Paul does not specify the gift the Greek word charisma suggests a distinct manifestation of the Holy spirit through the prayers of Paul & others (1Tim 1:18)
1 Peter 4:11
If anyone speaks, let him speak as the oracles of God. If anyone ministers, let him do it as with the ability which God supplies, that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belong the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen

This ability is the grace of God for us to minister. Through the grace given to us, Rom 12:3 speaks
of the measure of faith which is not saving faith but the faith to receive & to exercise the gifts God gives to us. The measure of faith He gives corresponds to the role He assigns as Creator & Redeemer.

As you come to the table to partake in the elements remember to cherish the 
grace of God & don't attempt to earn what can only be received as a gift, love others freely as an act of faith.

Acknowledgements Gloria Copeland.