I am back from a short vacation, and ready to roll again. I have missed you.
Let’s get started today with our pretend choir, The Lynn Donovan’s Hallelujah Choir, from all over the world singing the old familiar song, Amazing Grace.
Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound.
That saved a wretch like me.
I once was lost, but now I am found.
Was blind, but now I see.
Can’t you just picture people in different parts of the world softly mouthing the words of that song while at their workplace, in their homes, or maybe at the park with their children. Known universally, it is a song that connects us with the same experience. I kind of think the angels in heaven even joined in as we sang.
Grace – God’s unmerited favor
At the moment of salvation, God's unmerited favor is where we got our first glimpse of grace. It is, in deed, what saved a wretch like me and gave me a home in heaven with the King of King and Lord of Lords for all eternity. The Bible says "for by grace are you saved, through faith; and that not of yourselves; it is a gift from God, lest any man should boast." (Ephesians 2:8-9 KJV) There was nothing we could do to earn it. He freely gave it to us.
But, I have come to believe that there is much we need to learn about grace. Having worked in jail and prison ministry, as well as leading Christian groups at church over the years, I have found that there are at least two broad aspects of grace that people struggle with and it hinders them from growing in grace and in the knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ, as the scripture says in 2 Peter 3:18.
Let's take a look at these two broad areas.
1. Receiving Grace for Salvation
First and foremost, some have a hard time receiving this free gift for their eternal salvation for various reasons:
- some feel they are underserving
- some judge the life of Christians
- some say they tried to be a Christian, but failed at it
- do not trust organized religion
- there's too much to give up; too many rules to follow.
I fell into the category of too many rules for many years. Being brought up in a very strict denominational church that stressed more don’ts of salvation than do’s, I thought I had to line up with a whole bunch of rules if I accepted the Lord. As a teenager, I confess I felt the Holy Spirit nudging me, but I certainly wasn't going to give up wearing makeup to school, nor give up my position on the basketball team just because the preacher said I was not supposed to be wearing shorts. I even enjoyed a good movie and going swimming, but there was a rule against that, too. These rules didn't paint a pretty picture of salvation - -in fact, it sounded like a pretty dull life to me.
Ahhhh, but oh how I remember the night that the Holy Spirit showed up and gently whispered to me, “Don’t worry about all those rules; I will teach and guide you into all truth. And in that moment, I could have cared less about rules; "just give me Jesus."
2. Failing to Recognize Grace is Still Active After the Salvation Experience
As thankful as I am for my salvation and a home in heaven with Jesus one day, I have come to realize that His unmerited favor is freely given in other areas of our life to provide things we cannot provide for ourselves. Yes, it keeps on being active after salvation and functions in different capacities.
So, for the next couple of weeks, I am going to be writing a series on grace using an Old Testament character, Jacob, to shed light on how grace is always actively working in our lives. If anyone needed grace, Jacob did. We will follow Jacob on A Trail of Grace, starting at the time he deceived his father into giving him The Blessing that normally went to the first born son in the family, Esau, his brother
Please join me next week as we began to follow Jacob on a round trip Trail of Grace that spanned twenty years. I tend to believe that the more we grow in grace, the more equipped we are to do Kingdom work that Lynn emphasizes on this website.
But, before we get into the life of Jacob, let’s kick off this Trail of Grace Series with our own conversion experience. Sometimes, we just need to go back and remember the pit from which the grace of God pulled us out of.
Please share your conversion story in the comments.