January 21, 2012

Every day we thank the Lord for something that He has done. We thank Him for His blessings and we thank Him for who He is. We thank Him for the blood running warm in our veins, the activity of our limbs, having the opportunity to be clothed and be in our right minds. Today He would have us to consider that we also give thanks for His grace and His mercy. It is His grace and mercy that keep us receiving blessings even when we do not deserve them. It is His grace and mercy that keep us from day to day. When we give up, He is still holding on. When we quit, He is still going. When we have had enough, He is just starting.
In Isaiah 6:1-11, Isaiah declares that his destruction is sealed. He is a sinful man and a member of a sinful race. Isaiah has been called by God to declare His word to a people who did not want to receive God's word. Isaiah declared that he was not fit to do God's work. But God had chosen him.
It is recorded that Isaiah's service spanned the time of the reign of king Uzziah, King Jotham, King Ahaz, and King Hezekiah. As a prophet, Isaiah's responsibility to declare what thus saith the Lord was not only to the people, but to the kings as well. The book of II Kings 15 tells us that King Uzziah did what was pleasing in the Lord's sight, but he did not destroy the pagan shrines where the people offered their sacrifices and burned their incense. As a result of this, the Lord struck Uzziah with leprosy which lasted until the day of his death. God could have just totally removed Uzziah, but he did not. Grace and mercy.
How many times could God have just taken away all of the blessing because of our disobedience? But He did not. He just slowed it up; delayed it. God said, I still want you to have it, but it is going to take you a little longer because you need to recognize how much I love you.
How many times could God have just done away with us, but He did not. And the blessings just kept coming. We count ourselves out, when God is lining us up to have His way.
Isaiah thought he was through, but God said you have only just begun.
Isaiah threw in the towel, but God threw in a life line.
Isaiah saw the end, but God saw the beginning.
Isaiah started counting himself out, but God starting counting over.
When we have given up, God is saying no, now I can use you.
After all of the mess, I can use you.
After all of the shame, I can use you.
After all of the pain, I can use you.
After all of the disappointment, I can still use you.
No matter what the challenge might be, His grace is sufficient, and His mercy endures forever. God's grace has brought us this far, and His mercy has kept us. Thank you God for your grace and mercy!
The grace of God is one of the gifts that God extends to His people that have many jewels as benefits. Grace brings salvation, health and provisions. Because God has placed us in the earth to carry forth His plans, He expects that we release to others what He releases unto us.
The community of believers in Acts 4:33 understood the "great grace that was on them" as they experienced the first adventures of the newly empowered church.  Great grace produces generosity. When people recognize God's gift of grace over their lives, it brings about a greater awareness that everything we are, everything that we have, and everything that we will become is the result of God's grace. One of the many usages of grace biblically pertains to God's favour and God's will. Grace comes not because of one's own merit, but rather grace is a personal decision on the part of the one extending the act of grace. It is based on the giver's convictions and compulsions. Therefore, God's grace is really God's generosity toward us. We are here because of the generosity of God.
Today, it is very easy to take for granted all the benefits in your life despite any challenges you may be experiencing. However, we are encouraged by the word in Psalm 103:2, "Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all of His benefits."
One of your  most rewarding experiences as a Christian occurs when you  extend to strangers or others your favour and will, which in fact is generosity that is prompted by grace.  Today is your ‘special' day for greatness! Rather than feeling sorry for what you may not have yet achieved, do something great on your journey through life by spreading the grace of God. As you go forth in your day, God will place before you the opportunity to be generous to someone. It is your great day to be a champion of the Grace of God! Go for it!  After all, God's grace is His gift bestowed unto you to be given away.
As Christians we are called to serve God. He does not force us to work because He needs servants; He can do anything He wants quite nicely, thank you! God commands us to serve Him because, as our Maker, He knows what will bring us fulfilment. Genuine happiness comes from fulfilling God's purpose for us... a feeling of satisfaction that you can get in no other way.
A true servant of God must be willing to surrender completely to God's plan; it means yielding to the authority of another. Check your submission level: a quick look at how you submit to earthly authority will indicate how you submit to divine authority. Think about how Samuel submitted to Eli. Three times he thought Eli was calling; three times he got up out of his warm bed to see if his mentor needed help. It would have been easy after the second calling to imagine Eli was senile, but three times Samuel willingly submitted to Eli's authority.
We must also understand that we have been set up to serve, created by God for a specific purpose. See Ephesians 2:10 and Jeremiah 1:5. Also see 1 Cor 12:  the very word "gift" implies that we neither select or deserve God's gifts; they are an extention of His grace that we are to enjoy and invest back into His kingdom [I loved this thought - we "invest" it back. Reminds of the scripture about reaping what we sow!].
To discover our unique gifts and use them to carry out the assignments God has for us to do, we must slay the green-eyed monster of envy. Oftentimes we spend so much time wanting to be someone else or have their gifts that we never get around to being ourselves or using what God has given us. If you are busy trying to play someone else on stage, who in the world is going to play "you"?
Romans 12:1 NIV "... offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God - this is your true and proper worship" ["YOUR" true worship, in case you missed it].
Consider the following:
If someone were to ask you what your spiritual gifts are, what would you say?
Which gifts do you envy because you I think they are so much greater than yours?
Where have you invested your talents?
What is  your attitude about continuing to serve when God is silent?
 I close with this prayer:
Father, we are so thankful that You gave our lives meaning, by planning good works for us to do even before you created us.  And I thank You that when we were born again, You gifted us to serve in ways that only we can.  Help us keep our eyes off what others are doing so we can focus on what You are doing through us - we lay our gifts on Your altar instead of on the altar of our own ambition.  Amen