This week's 'thought' comes to you from a man named Barnabas Piper. It is taken from the ebook, "Be Prolific."
Piper lives in Nashville, TN, with his wife and two daughters, and works as the brand manager of 'Ministry Grid.' (Should you desire to do so, you can follow him on Twitter@BarnabasPiper). This selection is entitled: Over-The-Top Grace. Enjoy.
"God is over the top. Really. He goes too far, in every direction, including dimensions we can’t even fathom. His grace is just too much. By definition we don’t deserve it and by nature we can’t get our heads around it. We can define it. We can describe it in part. We can see it here and there. But think on this for moment with me:
Nothing we have - was not given to us.
Nothing we are - we were not made into.
Nothing in our sphere - is actually in our control.
We came from a family in a place with a race, none of which we chose. We meet we did not choose to meet. We have jobs we “earned,” but how many “connections” and fortuitous happenings got us there? These are the signposts of common grace, the kindness God pours out on the world day in and day out and without which no one could survive. Do we see it?
Often when we think of grace we think of God’s specific grace, the kindness of saving us by sending his Son to live a perfect life and die a sinless death in the place of sinners like you and I. Indeed that is grace, and even that, for all of the tomes and volumes written about it, is scarcely understood. The reality of God’s grace is the same as the reality of God: if we could truly understand it then it would not be worthy of our wonder and thanks. It is so much more than that. It shows itself in shocking places and when we think we've reached its limits, we crest a hill and see it stretching beyond the horizon.
So take notice of it this year. Look high and low and listen closely. It will appear where you never saw it previously. Record it. Write it down in a journal or an iPhone or make a voice memo or something, anything. Just make a note you can revisit at those times grace seems to have disappeared. Reflect on it. It is hard to be thankful for those things we barely notice. When you record something, come back to it, mull it over, see its aspects and angles and connections. There are no simple graces; let your mind be blown and your heart grown. Then share it. Tell a friend, tell your small group, write a blog, tweet a tweet, not every time, but when you are overwhelmed or struck.
In taking these steps the expanse of God’s grace will become more real to us and to those we share it with. What is more, God’s grace will show itself through us and impact others. More than anything, as we see the prevalence and necessity of grace in every part of life, we will find ourselves overwhelmed by gratefulness for it."
He is right. If there is anything we need to reflect on more it is the grace of God -- both His common everyday grace and His particular saving grace. His grace in the ordinary, and His grace in the extraordinary. The expressions of His can't-deny-it grace in the miraculous happenings of life, and the expressions of His grace in the unnoticed beating of our hearts and breathing of our lungs.
It's all grace. That's why Paul could write in I Corinthians 4:7: "Who makes you different from anyone else? What do you have that you did not receive [and he means, 'as a gift from God']?" And what's the answer Paul expects to those questions? 1.) God, and 2.) Nothing! He makes that clear in Acts 17:25 where we read of God: "He Himself gives us life and breath and EVERYTHING else."
Every time I breathe, or feel my heart beat, it is a reminder to be thankful to the Creator and Sustainer of all life. And that is the purpose of reflecting on grace -- it produces within us (or should produce within us) an habitual attitude of gratefulness.
How could one ever pause to consider what they as a sinner deserve, look at what they as a sinner have received, and not be grateful? Although one could look at all they received and not be grateful if they simply remove one word from that sentence - the word "sinner." For that one word removes every person on earth from the category of being "deserving," and places them into the category of "undeserving." Remove that one word from the mix and I suppose people could look at all they've received and justify bickering and complaining instead of being thankful for God's incessant, everywhere, in-your-face, over-the-top grace.
To Him alone be the glory, Pastor Jeff