When most of us think of grace, we think of salvation. Ephesians 2:5 (and other verses) tells us we are saved by grace and that it’s a gift from God. Then in 2 Peter 3:38, we are told to grow in grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. You can find a lot of information and many studies online about growing in grace, so I won’t try to replicate that here.
Besides the gift of salvation, grace also means having compassion, mercy and kindness, and in a nutshell, these are the things we are to grow in, becoming more mature in Christ. God shows these to us and then we, through the Holy Spirit, can show them to others. Just as 1 Corinthians 13 is a description of who God is, the definition and properties of grace show us who God is – his very heart. He is our champion, always on our side, always for us and wanting the best for us.
God’s grace is a beautiful gift and fortunately for us, it doesn’t stop with our salvation. His grace covers us daily and continues to teach us the way of Jesus – the way of the Kingdom.
As I was praying about something, the thought popped into my head that my request probably wasn’t very high on God’s list of prayers to answer. There are many needs more urgent and dire than mine. And then I wondered where that thought came from. I know God loves me and cares about even the smallest requests, but sometimes I feel like I’m bothering him with my perhaps smaller needs. I even bug him about things like trying to get back to sleep in the middle of the night.
Having those thoughts reminded me of Philippians 4:6 in the New Living Translation: “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.” I also thought of Matthew 10:31, when Jesus talked to his disciples about what they would be doing when he sent them out: “So don’t be afraid; you are more valuable to God than a whole flock of sparrows” (NLT). And Matthew 6:28-30 (NLT): “And why worry about your clothing? Look at the lilies of the field and how they grow. They don’t work or make their clothing, yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed as beautifully as they are. And if God cares so wonderfully for wildflowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, he will certainly care for you. Why do you have so little faith?”
These verses reminded me of what I already knew but seem to have forgotten during my late night prayer – I am high on God’s list. My prayers matter to him. He cares about me more than the little birds and takes care of me better than the flowers that spring up and die just as quickly. You are high on his list too. He wants us to bring all of our cares and concerns to him, no matter how small. We don’t ever have to feel we or our prayers are too far down God’s list for him to listen or answer.
We don’t often give serious thought to the concept of time, but we frequently check our clocks and calendars. Even if one is retired, life is structured around schedules and routines. Don’t mess with mealtime! It can be fun and also mind-bending to venture into, as it’s called in Star Trek, the time-space continuum. I love movies and books that explore time travel. Scientifically of course, it doesn’t work – or maybe it does.
God is the creator of time and space; he lives outside of both but he freely “moves” in, out, around and through. He’s not limited the way we are, bound up in our linear timeline and restricted by laws of physics. Psalm 139:1-6 in The Passion Translation tells us: “Lord, you know everything there is to know about me. You perceive every movement of my heart and soul, and you understand my every thought before it even enters my mind. You are so intimately aware of me, Lord. You read my heart like an open book and you know all the words I’m about to speak before I even start a sentence! You know every step I will take before my journey even begins. You’ve gone into my future to prepare the way, and in kindness you follow behind me to spare me from the harm of my past. With your hand upon my life, you impart a blessing to me. This is just too wonderful, deep, and incomprehensible! Your understanding brings me wonder and strength.”
Jesus is our past, present and future and he is our redeemer. He redeems our past – it can’t hurt us anymore (Isaiah 43:18-19). He redeems our present with his grace and love (2 Corinthians 12:9). He is redeeming our future, preparing a place for us so we can be with him forever (John 14:2-3).
Time travel is possible and God does it all the time. He doesn’t need a spaceship and his mission, unlike that of the people on Star Trek, who are only interested in exploring space, is one of love for us, his children.
Sometimes when I read a passage from a new translation, I’ll go to the familiar ones just to make sure it’s the same verse. I experienced this when I came across Colossians 3:17 in The Passion Translation. I’m used to reading this in the NLT (New Living Translation): “And whatever you do or say, do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through him to God the Father,” or the NIV (New International Version): “And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” Here it is in TPT: “Let every activity of your lives and every word that comes from your lips be drenched with the beauty of our Lord Jesus, the Anointed One. And bring your constant praise to God the Father because of what Christ has done for you!”
What a difference to read this from a new perspective. Thinking that everything I do and say can be drenched in Jesus’ beauty, as well as his love and grace, makes me really want to live like this. I suppose being a representative of Jesus and doing everything in his name should have the same effect, but it doesn’t. The visual of being drenched – bathed, saturated, soaked, steeped – is much more powerful.
It makes me think of that ice water challenge from a few years ago (I could never do that!). If a bucket of cold water were thrown on me when I started to do or say something I shouldn’t, I sure would stop! But being drenched by his beauty is really a more positive thing – my actions and words can be filled with his beauty, and it’s a choice. It’s something I can choose as I go through my day, to be saturated and soaked in his beauty, love and grace.