God’s Grace — Surpassing, Superabounding Grace

God’s Grace — Surpassing, Superabounding Grace

God’s Grace — His supernatural, surpassing, superabounding grace is available for us all. Today, is a day of grace.

The local news channel told how a venomous snake hitched a ride several hundred miles in the undercarriage of a Ferrari. The Northern Pacific Rattlesnake ranks as the most venomous snake in the regions. After the Ferrari was parked back in the showroom, the snake decided to explore its new surroundings.

Can you imagine the shock of the employees when they returned the next morning? Yikes!

Veterinarians returned the snake to its rightful habitat, employees resumed showroom routines, and all ended without incident. The account started me thinking about what might be riding along unnoticed in the undercarriage of my life. Would people be shocked if they knew?

I know of few “rattlers” like insecurity, pride, unforgiveness, and critical judgment that slither up in unwelcome fashion at unpredictable times. Hopefully other useful attributes like confidence, humility, diligence, graciousness, and mercy slide out from hiding as well.

Without exaggeration, I hate snakes! I also hate the sin and its ugly components which incessantly slither through the undercurrents of life. But God’s grace surpasses and superabounds over it all!

This morning I read this encouraging passage from the Amplified Bible:

“But where sin increased and abounded, grace (God’s unmerited favor) has surpassed it and increased the more and superabounded.”
Romans 5:20b

However great sin becomes, grace surpasses, increases, and superabounds more. Praise the Lord!

God’s Grace

As Paul writes to the Roman church, he quickly shines the spotlight on what everyone desperately tried to ignore.

“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”
Romans 3:23

In fact, Paul went into great detail to demonstrate how prolific sin reigns. He clearly states no person, nor any group of people, stands clear of indictment. No one meets God’s standard. Paul doesn’t end the conversation there, however. He immediately offers hope — the single but sturdy thread of hope found in Jesus Christ.

Listen to the whole passage:

“This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. And all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.”
Romans 3:24

Righteousness

As we honestly look at ourselves, we recognize we possess no righteousness of our own. Yet for those who believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, God declares them righteous because of what He has, not we have, done.

To be righteous simply means to be in right standing with God. Apart from Jesus, it is impossible. In Him, righteousness becomes completely possible!

Someone once explained “justified” as being “just as if I had never sinned.” The definition may not form a complete understanding, but it captures the essence.

God desires us all to experience His righteousness.

“The fruit of that righteousness will be peace: its effect will be quietness and confidence forever.”
Isaiah 32:17

Nobody merits God’s righteousness through a good life filled with good deeds. Matthew encourages us to prioritize seeking God’s righteousness.

“But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness and all these things will be given to you as well.”
Matthew 6:33

By God’s grace, He extends righteousness to us through Jesus Christ.

God’s Grace

Though God’s grace stands available “to all,” not “all” will receive it. Not everyone will acknowledge their need of God’s grace. Sadly, not everyone seeks it.

The Amplified Bible calls God’s grace “unmerited favor.” Other definitions include God’s life, power, and righteousness given by unmerited favor. Grace is translated from the Hebrew word chanan or the Greek word charis. It means “a state of kindness and favor toward someone, often with a focus on a benefit given.” Even here the definition falls short unless we also consider the inclusion of God’s love and mercy.

We call it God’s grace because grace is not just what He does, but who God is. God is gracious!

“The LORD is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and rich in love. The LORD is good to all: he has compassion on all he has made.”
Psalm 145:8-9

Out of the overflow of God’s goodness, He extends His grace and compassion “to all he has made.”

Through Jesus

Paul explains that God’s grace flows through the channel of faith — faith in Jesus Christ through His death and resurrection.

“If you declare with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved.”
Romans 10:9-10

We access God’s grace through a verbal declaration of faith in Jesus Christ that honestly professes the belief of our heart. It is a simple but profound transition that I certainly don’t fully understand and cannot fully explain — a supernatural transition of God’s overflowing, superabounding mercy, love, and goodness.

Thank God

Maybe you have received this transition of God’s grace into your life decades ago. Perhaps, you first experienced it only yesterday! It doesn’t matter. Let’s thank Him for doing for, and in, us what we could never do for ourselves. The deadly snakes that once road on our “undercarriage” hide no more. God’s grace has come.

Perhaps this is new to you. If so, simply tell God in your own words what is stirring within your heart. Seek His grace by declaring your faith in Jesus Christ, even right now. We don’t need fancy words or scripted prayer. Just honestly tell God your desire to know His grace personally.

As we appreciate and enjoy God’s grace, it will transform our lives!

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Do Clothes Make a Man or Woman? Are You Ready?

Do Clothes Make a Man or Woman? Are You Ready?

How important are the clothes we wear? Do clothes really make a man or woman? Is our dress that closely associated with the success of an individual?

My mother always dressed beautifully. She knew exactly what accessories to put with whatever top to go with whichever shoes. Me, on the other hand, missed the gorgeous-garment-gene completely. There was nothing glamorous about most of my life doing farm work. Carhartts and steel-toed boots hardly qualify as a fashion statement. Jewelry? Any deer, rabbit, or coyote I encountered would have been non-appreciative of such accessories.

Not that I haven’t tried on rare occasions to “doll myself up.” One failed attempt at dressing-for-success ended up with arriving at church only to realize I had completely forgotten to wear shoes. Horrified I discovered I had left home with incredibly comfortable, fuzzy, blue slippers! An illustration perhaps of God humiliating the proud.

Seriously though, God has a lot to say about the clothes we wear that have little to do with appealing to the human eye, but rather the heart.

So, before I worry about dress codes and fashion statements, the latest trends, and hot new looks, let’s check out what is far more critical. God points to quite a different wardrobe for clothes appropriate for any man or woman.

The Old for the New

When we moved off the farm, I happily traded in those muddy boots and work clothes for casual office attire. The transition was easy and inexpensive thanks to second-hand stores and bargain hunting.

Paul compared the new life of a Christian as being similar to a wardrobe change, taking off the old and putting on the new.

“You were taught, with regard to your former way of life,
to put off your old self,
which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires;
to be made new in the attitude of your minds;
and to put on the new self,
created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.”
Ephesians 4:22-24

Sounds easy, right? Maybe for some, but it certainly hasn’t been for me! I may not even own those old clothes anymore, but I still smell the stench of them from time-to-time. Deceitful desires are deceitful because I’m the last the recognize how deceived I am in them. My attitudes can become downright foul before I catch a whiff of my own disdainful aroma.

Unfortunately, I’m not alone.

“We have all become like one who is unclean,
and all our unrighteous deeds are like polluted garments.”
Isaiah 64:6

Humility

If you think I might be exaggerating, I’ll be specific. I’ll begin with the truly gritty and tough.

“Therefore, as God’s chosen people,
holy and dearly loved,
clothe yourselves with compassion,
kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.”
Colossians 3:12

Taking off the old man, or garments, may appear like an instantaneous magic act for some, but for me, it has been more like peeling layer by layer slowly and painstakingly off my entire being. Oh don’t get me wrong, I would love to be clothed with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. These are the real attributes making any woman or man great.

The selfishness, inconsideration, pride, harshness and impatience of my old man sticks like crazy-glue, showing itself in the most unexpected ways. I fear I grieve the Holy Spirit far too often, in my failure to rid myself of these old offensive garments. As a matter of fact, the more I try to rid myself of them, the more hopeless the process appears to become. If these godly qualities make the man or woman, without divine help, I’m in big trouble!

I, like everyone else who acknowledges the Name of the Lord Jesus, have been robed in His righteousness. But the message has taken longer than I hoped to seep into the essence of my whole being.

Salvation

I love Isaiah’s declaration:

“I delight greatly in the LORD;
my soul rejoices in my God.
For he has clothed me with garments of salvation
and arrayed me in a robe of his righteousness,
as a bridegroom adorns his head like a priest,
and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.”
Isaiah 61:10

“He has clothed me with garments of salvation!” Don’t you love it? Do you hear the past tense? It’s a done deal, an irreversible act, an undeniable fact. These garments truly make us women and men of God.

Unlike my personal wardrobe transition, this garment change cost the highest price, the life of Jesus Christ. But God looked at each of us and said, “That one is worth it! Look at her. See how valuable she is. Look at him all you heavenly host, watch how I clean him up and transform him into someone that turns heads, capturing attention. Everyone will know it is My doing when they see these children of mine in their new clothes.”

Garments of salvation . . . robes of righteousness . . . fit only for the bride of Christ. Yes, Lord, bring it on!

My meager wardrobe change is nothing in comparison with the magnificent exchange that God has orchestrated. God’s clothes do make the man or woman.

Magnificent Exchange

In Matthew 22, Jesus tells a parable about a king who prepared a wedding banquet for his son. He sent out invitations far and wide to the elite and the chosen — the list was long and impressive. Few responded; most vainly excused themselves. Quickly the invitation list was changed.

“Go into the street corners and invite . . . anyone you find.”
Matthew 22:9

The anyones and the everyones gladly came.

“But when the king came in to see the guests,
he noticed a man there who was not wearing wedding clothes.
He asked, ‘How did you get in here
without wedding clothes, friend?’
The man was speechless.
Matthew 22:11

Don’t miss the compassion and intimacy with which the king called him “friend.” The king knew him and loved him. The king had both extended the invitation and provided the necessary apparel for the occasion. The man was without excuse.

Obviously, when our Heavenly Father throws a wedding for His Son, He fully expects us to come dressed in the righteousness that He has already provided.

Fit for a King

Jesus spoke in parables while John witnessed the grand occasion through a vision.

“Then I heard what sounded like a great multitude, like the roar of rushing waters and like loud peals of thunder shouting:
Hallelujah!
For our Lord God Almighty reigns.
Let us rejoice and be glad and give him glory!
For the wedding of the Lamb has come,
and his bride has made herself ready.
Fine linen, bright and clean, was given her to wear.”
(Fine linen stands for the righteous acts of God’s holy people.)”
Revelation 19: 6-8

God has given us everything we need, but it is up to each of us as the bride of Christ to make ourselves ready. I, for one, don’t want to have the King ask how I got into the wedding, still wearing the old garments of my past.

So, here I am kneeling in prayer, peeling away the old, receiving the new, and doing whatever it takes to be ready. Won’t you join me? If you are an anyone, the invitation still stands.