Thursday, December 19, 2013

Grace Abounding

Don't you love grace? I sure do! I need it daily. From others and God. It is something I don't give too freely though. I think the Christmas season brings the worst out of some and the best out of others. Just try going shopping any time after Thanksgiving. The Christmas spirit fills many. From the music to being able to enjoy a hot beverage, it fills many up with joy. Others do not have the joy inside of them, but rather the devil!  For example, Black Friday...need I say more.

I have to admit I have not had much grace to give this year. I have become a bit of a Scrooge. I went to a Christmas Party recently and I was so irritated with everyone...for no reason. I can not give you one(except I was taking some new herb that is suppose to help regulate my hormones...but instead it turned me into a fire breathing she-devil) so...there's that. I do have very bad mood swings. All hormonal. One day I love you and the next I would cut you...dead. I hate blaming it on hormones though. It is a part of it..but I think it is also a heart issue. More specific a grace issue. I found myself not giving grace, but wanting it in return. How selfish and hypocritical. 

I love the song that has the line: "If grace is an ocean, we're all sinking". The song is talking about how much God loves us.His grace is overflowing. There is never a lack of grace. In my life though my grace bank was empty. I was being stingy. I was looking for a grace handout, but not willing to return the favor. When I pray I always end it with: "Thank you for your love, grace and mercy". Love, grace and mercy are my favorite things to receive. Being the Christmas season I started to reflect on all the gifts God has given me.I truly am blessed. I have received so much and have not handed out too many gifts back in return.

Each new year I try to take a look at the past year and see what I need to work on. So, for 2014 I am working on showing more grace. I recently was able to put grace to work. I was going to an event where I had to see someone I have had no grace for. In fact I hated that person and they had no idea! It was just minutes before I had to leave for the event and I was hit by a thought(love when God does this). I decided to pour grace on this person. Not in a condescending way, but real grace. I decided that I had held onto the hate I felt toward this person and it was only effecting me. There was no reason for it. I arrived at the event and guess what I was sitting right next to this person(God, you are hilarious). This person was so sweet and guess what...so was I. I asked God to take away the bad thoughts about this person. This person had grown up and  I am sure not proud of the person they were. We caught up and had a great conversation. Grace abounding!

Another example of grace abounding in my life happened around the time of the previous story. Do you have a person in your life that you have be praying for...for years? I have one. Every time my Pastor asks if there is a person that needs prayer, this person pops up every time. I have a soft spot for this person, even though they fail time after time and make immature decisions. I pray for this persons' salvation. For God is the only one who is going to change them. I recently gave up praying for them though. We had a few arguments and I was just done! I became so angry. I had no grace to give this person. Finally, I had another thought, similar to the one before, that I just needed to let go. Not to let go of praying for this person, but to let go of the anger. This person needs to be shown love. They need to know that someone has their back. That despite all their faults and mistakes that someone loves them. This is what grace looks like. This is what God's love looks like. I have to say I am more joyful than ever. I love the Christmas season. I love it because it is a time of reflection about God's greatest gift, Jesus. At church we recently read through the Fruits of the Spirit...but before that we read through some qualities that were the opposite of the Fruit of the Spirit (Vegetables of the Spirit?? sorry that was horrible). Actually they were acts of our flesh. They included:sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions  and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like.(Galatians 5:19-21). Wow...this sounds like an episode of The Real Housewives! When we react to these acts of the flesh there is never a good outcome. But when we respond in love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,  gentleness and self-control we get a much better outcome!

Last week at church we also talked about The Ministry of Reconciliation. As my Pastor spoke I was like wow...this is for me! It was exactly what I was struggling with. The Ministry of Reconciliation, found in, 2 Corinthians 5:11-21, talks a lot about grace and humility. I liked that correlation between grace and humility. Because that is really what grace is all about. Being humble in front of someone who you may not feel deserved it. But in that humbleness you will receive grace and give it. It may not be immediate or it may never be given, but God sees and his grace is upon you.  I encourage you to think of someone who may have hurt you or you have any ill feelings toward and pray that God shows you a way to reconcile with them. Maybe it is a family member you will be seeing this Christmas. Show them grace. It may be the only time they see it. It is so hard to forgive someone, but the burden and ill thoughts you carry around are so much greater. I like being a cheerful person, far more than being a bitter, angry person.  Be in The Ministry of Reconciliation. Show abounding grace. After all, God sent His son, Jesus, to be born and then to die for our sins...so that we may have everlasting life. This is His greatest gift and one that was meant to be shared. When we share the love of Christ with others they take note and hopefully they too want that gift. 

Merry Christmas!