It’s Amazing!

“But He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”  2 Corinthians 12:9-10 ESV

     Casey Stengel call them “Amazing”.
     The 1969 season was the first season of divisional play in Major League Baseball.  It was the New York Mets’ eighth year as a franchise and they were assigned to the newly created National League East Division. They had never finished higher than ninth place in the 10 team NL and never had a winning season.  In fact, they lost at least one hundred games in five of the seasons.
     However, in 1969 they overcame mid-season difficulties and finished 100–62, eight games ahead of the Chicago Cubs.  They went on the win the 1969 World Series beating the Baltimore Orioles . . . and they were then known as the “Amazing Mets”.
     The text of the most loved hymn, “Amazing Grace”, was penned by clergyman John Newton in 1779.  The melody was first published 50 years later by Charles H. Spilman and Benjamin Shaw with the title, “New Britain”.  The lyrics and melody were put together in 1835 by composer William Walker to form the time-tested hymn:  “Amazing grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me.  I was once lost, but now I’m found.  Was blind, but now I see”.  Historian Jonathan Aitken estimates that this song is sung over 10 million times each year.
     I’ve always struggled with a clear definition of “grace”.
     I recall this acronym from early years, “God’s Riches A Christ’s Expense”.  It has been been said that grace is the “divine influence to inspire virtuous impulses, and to impart strength to endure trial and resist temptation.”  In some theological circles, grace has been defined as “the love and mercy given to us by God because God desires us to have it, not because of anything we have done to earn it”.
     There is “common grace”, “free grace”, “irresistible grace”, “prevenient grace”, “Sola Gratia” . . . and “Amazing Grace.”
     Let’s consider His grace today . . .
     Grace In Salvation.  A. W. Tozer writes, “The cross is the lightning rod of grace that short-circuits God’s wrath to Christ so that only the light of His love remains for believers”.  Paul reminds the Ephesians, “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.” (Eph 2:8-9 ESV)  God gives grace and we get God.  It’s His love in our lostness.  He gives peace to our problems.  To Christ followers in Rome, Paul writes, “Now that we have been put right with God through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. He has brought us by faith into this experience of God’s grace, in which we now live. And so we boast of the hope we have of sharing God’s glory!” (Rom 5:1-2 GNT)
     Grace In Suffering.  In our hurt, in our pain, in our anguish . . . God pours out the gift of His grace.  Peter encourages us with these words, “And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will Himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.”  (I Peter 5:10 ESV)  In his own life, Paul faced debilitating suffering.  He finally surrenders to God’s sufficiency, “Three different times I begged the Lord to take it away.  Each time he said, ‘My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.’ So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me.”  (2 Cor 12:8-9 NLT)  Take a moment and let that sink in . . . “My grace is all you need.”
     Grace In Struggles.  Jesus tells us that in this world we will have trouble and struggles (John 16:33).  In our overwhelming adversity, we have unlimited access.  The write of Hebrews gives us an incredible insight, “This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses, for he faced all of the same testings we do, yet he did not sin.  So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most.”  (Heb 4:15-16 NLT)  I like the way The Message illustrates this thought, “Now that we know what we have – Jesus, this great High Priest with ready access to God – let’s not let it slip through our fingers. We don’t have a priest who is out of touch with our reality. He’s been through weakness and testing, experienced it all—all but the sin. So let’s walk right up to Him and get what He is so ready to give. Take the mercy, accept the help.”  It’s been said that running to God is grace . . . running from God is guilt.
     Alexander Whyte, a Scottish Anglican divine wrote, “Grace, then, is grace . . . that is to say, it is sovereign, it is free, it is sure, it is unconditional, and it is everlasting” . . . and, it’s ours!
     It’s God’s “love and mercy given to us because God desires us to have it, not because of anything we have done to earn it”.  We can’t earn it . . . we can only embrace it!
     This grace . . . It’s Amazing!

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