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Friday, June 29, 2012

The Beauty of God's Grace

This week our church had Vacation Bible School. We had more children than we have ever had. It has been a wonderful week.

VBS's purpose is to reach people with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It tells children and others of the grace of God. It tells of the love that God has for everyone. He desires that they come to know Him and live within His joy and fellowship forever. It is a message of peace.

It is God's grace that has given us the privilege of getting to know those who came to VBS. Each person is a gift for us to know. They are all endowed with God's love. We are able to share with them in our joy.  We pray that they have good things in their lives and especially that they come to God's grace and know His joy too.

God is at work in the lives of these children. He has somehow gotten them to our church building. They have been surrounded with loving teachers who are sharing the gospel with them. Some are choosing to give their hearts to Jesus. Others consider it and, maybe someday, will do the same. They are exposed to God's grace everyday but this is a more noticeable manifestation of His grace.

But it is also God's grace to see one of them come to know the Lord. One young man came to me one morning declaring he was ready to make this decision. I get the undeserved privilege of hearing this declaration. I am so incredibly blessed and know that it is God's grace visited upon me to hear this young man.

 I know so many people who think of God as the great Rule-Giver who doesn't want them to have any fun but I don't see Him as such. I know Him as the One who wants to give our lives meaning by coming to know Him. He wants us to be full of joy; not sorrow. He wants our lives to be full; not empty.

In God's grace I want  to tell everyone that God loves them. It is God's grace that also allows me to say that He loves me. I didn't deserve this.

That's the beauty of God's grace.

Ephesians 2:8-9 (ESV)
8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast.

Romans 5:2 (ESV)
2 Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God.


high-expressions said...

In Singapore, the one month school vacation (almost across the board) has just ended. Perhaps, at your end, it is just starting or something; in any case, it is wonderful for a church to organise some kind of vacation "school" where young ones can come and be found in the community of Christians, and be at where God's love can be received.

It is NOT that God is NOT found everywhere; it is that we are God's love. As Christians, we are to love God, and so, directly we have become (we are supposed to be) God's love to people, for if indeed we love God, we must be loving our neighbours.

We can infer from 1 John 4:20-21, that whosoever who does NOT love his brother and sister, cannot be claiming that he indeed loves God; anyone who loves God must also love his brother and sister. Of course, fellow believers are in the “brother and sister”, but it is NOT stretching it, in view of how neighbour was portrayed in the Good Samaritan Story by Jesus, that we can say, fellow non-believers are also brother and sister. The overall counsel of the Word does NOT, in my view, allow us to only love fellow believers, and NOT love non-believers. This text gives us an idea of the overall counsel - Matt 5:46-48 -

46 If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? 47 And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? 48 Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

It is fitting and noble for a church to devout time and energy to love the young ones of non-believers, NOT just the children of fellow believers; to give spiritual understanding to both the young ones of both believers and non-believers.

Often we find that people do NOT believe that our God is really, really big, and also really, really big in grace. Believers must NOT be like the "common" men. Recent hot topics in Singapore included such like, "Are Singaporeans xenophobic?" Singapore is small, but Christians in Singapore must believe that their God is big, really, really big; and His grace is sufficient for each of us. We should NOT be too “kiasu” that foreigners or “foreign talents” would be depriving us of our blessings in Singapore.

What Singaporean believers must do is that firstly they must develop their faith and perseverance, and position themselves to attract the grace of God. By positioning, I don’t mean one can merit the grace of God or that one is to work for the grace of God. Positioning has a lot more to do with our mindset and perspective than laboring.

For example, we should NOT be fixed on the “musical chair” mentality – there is only so much or so many chairs-what, someone will end up without a seat-right? No, the Kingdom of God is NOT a musical chair scenario; it is NOT if this blessing is given to that fellow there, then there will be none for me! Yes, we are still living in the world, but at the same time we are living in the Kingdom of God (earthly phase) and the Kingdom of God is invading the world, and it can invade your world – your circumstance.

Stop worrying about how God was going to put another person into the furnace where the 3 friends of Daniel were placed in (Daniel 3); that kind of thing is His job, NOT yours; when God gets you the chair to sit, you receive it in; don’t preempt and say it is NOT possible to get a seat. Our job is to position ourselves well; stop worrying how God is going to do it.


high-expressions said...

Cont. from above

We should always put things in perspective when we say there is nothing that we need to do or should do or required to do to receive things/blessings/favor etc, etc from God. Did NOT Jesus or God said much about those found without faith? Did NOT Scripture said if you are double-minded, you will NOT get? Did Eph 2:10 NOT said that we are meant for good works? Did Jesus NOT say that we have to abide in Him to bear fruit? Did Bible NOT say, we have to seek first, His Kingdom and His righteousness, and then our needs would be added to us? Did Jesus NOT say that to remain in His love, we have to obey His commands? Did Scripture NOT paint for us, that we should NOT be idle; in fact the text said it, to the tune of “If you don’t work, then you don’t get to eat!” Are these NOT rules or commandments or instructions or prescriptions as to how we are to carry ourselves? God gives grace and God gives rules. There is justice of God and there is mercy of God.

As to fun, well, pop a handful of Ketamine and you can have some fun, that is fun that can kill! God does NOT say we cannot have fun, but fun within boundary. Rules/commandments are the outworking from God’s holiness and wisdom; and they are for the good of us, as individual, and as a community. Again, it is we are NOT transformed enough and NOT positioned right, for when are sufficiently transformed and positioned, rules and commandments of God are NOT burdensome, It is NOT my saying, it is the saying Scripture (1 John 5:3 - This is love for God: to obey his commands. And his commands are not burdensome,). It is old fashion, but I will still say it, “It is for your own good”.

I hope I am NOT being included as one of the so-called many people who think of God as the Great-Rule giver who does NOT want us to have fun, that Ps Prentis referred to! I am NOT such a “fun-ball”, but no-lah, God is NOT a fun-killer! Neither do I think Ps Prentis is NOT knowing the place of laws and commandments of God, for surely he knows of the Apostle Paul saying that the law is good if used properly, and that the law is spiritual, only we are NOT (or Paul said he was NOT). I trust that he was more targeting those in the like of the Pharisees and Sadducees who were so ruled-based that they turned the faith into legalism.

To me, this tells us something of the expectation of God, (from John 15) that God has LOVED, and indeed He has LOVED, for He HAD GIVEN His Son to die for us; yet it is stated that, to REMAIN in God’s love, we HAVE TO obey His commands. There is grace GIVEN, and there is EXPECTATION. I am NOT saying grace cannot be given and given, and given again, but there is indeed expectation from God. When we take and take, and take, the grace of God, and we ignore the expectation, what we are indeed doing, is profaning the grace of God.

Does God NOT love us? Sure He does, but ultimately, He can only love us unto righteousness. When we love or God loves someone, it does NOT mean we (or God) encourages the person to do whatever he wants to do, which can include wrongs and sins, and evils. That maybe agape love or unconditional love, but there sure isn’t love unto righteousness. God can only love you unto righteousness, for He is a holy God. God got to love you to clean hands and pure heart, for only then can you ascend His mountain; love you to purity, for only then can you see Him; and love you to holiness, for that is the only way you (and I) can be with Him, for He is set apart for holiness.

Anthony Chia, high.expressions