Friday, February 14, 2014

The Grace Card

I watched a program on You Tube recently where a boss observed some rude and unacceptable conduct by a supervisor in his company.

As the scene unfolded, it looked like this young man was about to be fired.

Even though the employee deserved to be let go because of his unprofessionalism, the employer decided to retrain the fellow and give him a second chance.  The worker was so grateful for the opportunity that he promised to change his work ethics and comply with the company. 
Those who were watching the program may not have agreed with the owner’s decision, but the man was elated that he experienced grace and mercy that day.
Welcome new friends this week from: (the USA) Washington, Minnesota, Colorado, New Jersey and the Ukraine.
I hope that you are showing signs of growth in your Inward Journey. Please continue to share this site along with praying for your brothers and sisters of faith following Daily Favor from around the globe.
Don’t miss out on this week’s challenge (below).  View Q & A
Grace Denied
Since beginning this Inward Journey toward a stronger relationship with the Lord (and learning about ourselves), I have been thinking and viewing circumstances differently. 
One thing I’m doing a lot more of is asking questions and contemplating the way God might see a situation.
Last week while “Remembering the Birds” (last week's challenge) and how God shows them favor in caring for them, I began researching my own life in caring for others. 
The word grace and favor kept coming to mind as I played out situations from past experiences.  How had I cared for others in showing them grace or favor?  Then I thought about something a bit scarier.
What if the amount of grace we have available to us solely depended on how much grace we deposited into “a grace card” much like a debit or pay pal account?  In other words, what if the amount of grace we received depended on the amount we gave (showed) to others?  Would grace be denied to us if we failed to make regular deposits? I don’t even want to think along those lines!
Some of us would always be overdrawn on our grace card.  Others might be maxed out and would stop showing grace until the account was evened out a bit. Maybe a few would have some holding in reserve for emergencies.  Frightening isn’t it?
I’m glad God doesn’t operate that way, but extends our grace credit limit, even if we haven’t been making the payments into the account.  He is always gracious, loving and willing to extend His grace card to us.
Is it Grace or Mercy? ... or both
When writing this I realized that some people may not understand the difference between grace and mercy, so briefly I’ll try to explain with this comparison.   Take a look at the definitions of the two words according to the Bible dictionary.
Grace:  God’s free and unmerited favor toward sinful humanity (people); also see favor.
Mercy:  A blessing that is an act of Divine Favor or compassion withholding of the punishment or judgment our sin deserves; also see compassion or forgiveness.
Grace is favor given to any person God desires for His purpose.  It is not based on whether we deserve it or not. This is what we received when we were forgiven of our sins and became born again believers.  Grace isn't something that can be earned, but freely given out of love.
If I show someone favor, it’s not always because I like or even know the person.  I may demonstrate Christ-like behavior through grace simply because I know it’s the kind, nice or right thing to do. It’s not even based on the individual most of the time.
Then there are other times however, when I specifically want to do someone a favor and show grace toward them just because I care about them.
Mercy on the other hand, is extending grace (favor) in place of a punishment and granting a pardon.  Jesus had mercy on us when He died on the cross for our sins.  He took the punishment we deserved by taking our place on the cross. 
If you have received Jesus as your Savior, you will never be punished by God for your sin.
We see more examples of this in the scriptures don’t we?  However, for modern day purposes, the illustration I mentioned previously was such a case where mercy was given instead of dismissal.
When we extend grace and mercy to someone, we represent and demonstrate the character of God.  It's another way to draw close to Him in our Inward journey.
Throne of Favor (Grace)
In following the right path with God so we can fulfill our journey, the Bible encourages us to enter into God’s throne room.
Not only are we to come boldly, but we are expected to enter shamelessly, confidently and courageously.
“So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive His mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most.” (Hebrews 4:16 NLT)
Why is it important for us to approach God’s throne of favor?  The writer of Hebrews explains it clearly. “That we will find favor when we need it in any situation.” (emphasis mine)
See, our High Priest is Jesus. He understands our weaknesses, because He faced the same tests and trials we do. The difference, He never sinned. (Hebrews 4:15 NLT)
Jesus knows that we are going to need that “grace card” of favor to complete our journey.  That’s why He makes it available to all who will believe and act on His Word.
Grace Card Levels
Look back on how many times you should have been fired or punished when you messed up, but weren’t.   Have you even been let off the hook for something you did to a friend, sibling, boss or parent?  I know I have.
In my life I have seen and experienced the different sides or levels of grace.  You probably have also:
Receiving Grace
Witnessing Grace
Extending Grace
Where & When to Show Grace
There is a scene from a Christian western movie I saw many years ago, where a man who had committed a crime was set free.
I can’t even remember the name of the movie, but I’ll never forget the line Pastor Willie George (yep, that’s his real name) spoke when he released the villain,
“Today you found the grace of God.” 
The town wanted to do evil for evil.  Instead the man didn’t carry out what they could have or wanted to do, but instead chose to show grace (favor) and mercy (forgiveness or pardoned).
It’s easy to respond negatively when we are mistreated, harmed or abused.  That’s “normal” the world would say.  However, not acting in grace or mercy isn’t God’s way.
Showing grace is bestowing favor on humanity whether they deserve it or not.  It’s different than mercy, but includes it.
Noah found grace (favor) in the eyes of the Lord.  We can find grace (favor) also if our hearts are right before God.  God sends grace to us and causes others to show us favor.  Sometimes they don’t even know why they’re doing it, but say “I feel I should do this for you.” (Genesis 6:8)
If we are to mature on our journey, we have to stop acting the normal way of society, and do something differently like extending the grace card on a regular basis.
This Week’s challenge:
Share the Grace Card!
Make a huge love deposit into your grace account this week.
Instead of doing things the way you used to, try a new approach (remember A.N.A. from January 10th, 2014) by utilizing your grace card.  It yields a great profit!
When someone cuts you off in traffic, don’t get angry, but let them pass.
While waiting in line at the checkout, motion for others to go before you.
Show grace when a co-worker or boss mistreats you and buy them a cup of coffee or a snack.  Say something compassionate like:
“I thought you could use this today.”
If your kids are about to be sent to the moon by you, take a deep breath … and calmly pull out your grace card.
Don't forget to generously disperse a little extra grace and mercy on that spouse that jammed the groceries into the freezer, causing the frozen spinach to fall out on the floor. 
Happily pick it up, wash it off and put it back in the freezer.  Remember  they "favored" you with a dozen red roses this morning!
Recognize when you have received grace.  Second, take notice of when you have witnessed grace happening.  Purposely look around to witness others showing grace and favor.
Finally, ask God to show you ways you can extend grace, mercy and favor on someone else. 
Be sure that you are making more deposits than withdrawals into your grace card account, so there will be some in there when you need it the most.
Grace, grace God’s grace. His amazing grace and love flows down and covers me … it covers you!
Grace Flows Down
Until next time, deposit favor into others.
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Scripture reference was taken from the New King James Bible Version provide by Gateway Bible
Image credit: Google Images or Dreamstime Creative Common License if not specified.  Pastor George episodes of the Gospel Bill Show can be seen on You Tube.