Overflowing with Grace

Think of a time something happened that you were eager to tell others. I bet you could hardly keep it from bubbling out! I feel this way when my hopes or dreams become reality or when something good happens unexpectedly. But the biggest, most exciting thing we will ever experience is God’s saving grace! He wants us to freely share that good news through words and actions that show how He changed us.

God is able to make all grace overflow to you, so that in all things, at all times, having all that you need, you will overflow in every good work. (2 Corinthians 9:8, EHV)

All grace. All things. All times. All you need. Every good work. Wow, God is serious about this! But notice the verse begins “God is able…” Being filled with His grace and power — and overflowing with good works — is for our best, but God does not force it on us. Far more life is letting God’s grace fill us to overflowing. We know we are overflowing with grace by the changes in our thoughts and feelings. Others know by the changes in our actions.

One person in history was perfectly filled to overflowing with God’s grace: Jesus. His thoughts, feelings, and actions were always in line with God’s. The gospels are full of incidents where people experienced His grace in action. The Bible records how those in His hometown responded:

Everyone spoke well of him and was amazed by the gracious words that came from his lips. (Luke 4:22a, NLT)

Overflowing grace makes you stand out! Jesus stood out because He was different. Our natural human reaction to challenging people and situations is defensiveness, anger, callousness, or other sinful responses. But when we live in the power of the Holy Spirit, we — like Jesus — are different. We have power to respond with gracious thoughts, feelings, and actions. Those are moments of far more life.

There are times we bite our tongues and put on a fake smile. That is better than spewing ugliness, but it is not grace. The grace that is evidence of God’s work in our lives is expressed as compassion and kindness. It is the result of a renewed mind, as described in these verses:

Stop imitating the ideals and opinions of the culture around you, but be inwardly transformed by the Holy Spirit through a total reformation of how you think. This will empower you to discern God’s will as you live a beautiful life, satisfying and perfect in his eyes. (Romans 12:2, TPT)

God’s grace transforms us, first changing our beliefs and thoughts, then changing our feelings and actions. The gospels illustrate this with the account of a woman who washed Jesus’ feet with her tears and dried them with her hair. Just watching this made the disciples uneasy, but Jesus explained:

“…The great love she has shown proves that her many sins have been forgiven. But whoever has been forgiven little shows only a little love.” (Luke 7:47, GNT)

This woman understood that her sin was great, but she also understood that God’s grace was greater. Experiencing the depth of God’s grace inspires us to show others grace. When we realize how many sins we have committed and how much God has forgiven us, our love for Him increases. This inspires us to show grace to those around us.

When my children were young I got tired of giving them the same instructions over and over. But one day I realized God did not become impatient or angry about giving me the same reminders over and over. Recognizing God’s grace toward me inspired me to show my children grace; I decided even if I had to give the same instructions every day for the next 18 years, I would do so with love and kindness. The result was far more life in my own heart and in my relationship with my children.

For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. (Ephesians 2:10, NIV)

God has a beautiful, satisfying and perfect plan for your life! And He offers you overflowing grace for each step of that plan. Far more life embraces God’s purpose and seeks to fulfill it. His plan for you is unique; no one else on the planet can do the specific good works He prepared for you. But these works are not hidden; there is no reason to fear you will miss them. Instead, when you focus on understanding and living through His grace, those good works will natural flow out of you. Frequently your good works will benefit the people you regularly interact with. At other times you will have a strong desire to love and serve those facing a particular struggle or a particular people group. Often your good works will be linked to a particular skill you possess, so you will be happy to do them. Some of these works are actions that reveal God’s work in our lives, but they can also be words that share God’s grace.

The grace that overflows from us can help others find far more life, too. We have a wonderful opportunity to be a fountain of His grace. And experience another aspect of far more life. Try it out this week!

Sisters,
Are you overflowing with grace? If not, what barriers are blocking the flow?
How do you feel about standing out for overflowing with grace?
Do you think God has shown you a little or a lot of love? How does this impact the love you show others?
How are you seeking to fulfill God’s purpose for your life?
Focus on letting grace overflow this week and share far more life!
-Shari

Finding Your Purpose

We all want to find purpose in life. God created us in His image; He is purposeful and instilled that desire in us. But finding our purpose can be hard. Some of us have explored many paths that ended in disappointment; we may have become discouraged and quit searching after several failed attempts. Others are so bogged down surviving life’s challenges that we don’t have the energy or desire to look for our purpose. Should we give up and settle for simply existing?

No! Remember the promise from John 10:10? “I came to bring them life, and far more life than before” (PHILLIPS).  Purpose — far more life — is waiting for you! But maybe not where you expect.

King Solomon sought the purpose of life, too. He journeyed multiple paths but deemed them all meaningless: wisdom; pleasure; work; advancement; riches; and more.  Along the way he saw God’s hand at work in the world. His ultimate finding: “After all this, there is only one thing to say: Have reverence for God, and obey his commands, because this is all that we were created for” (Ecclesiastes 12:13, GNT).

This is echoed in New Testament Scriptures (GNT unless noted):

  • “You have been raised to life with Christ, so set your hearts on the things that are in heaven, where Christ sits on his throne at the right side of God.” (Colossians 3:1)
  • Seek first God’s kingdom and what God wants. Then all your other needs will be met as well.” (Matthew 6:33, NCV)
  • “Whatever you do..do it all for God’s glory.” (I Corinthians 10:31)
  • “Yet there is for us only one God, the Father, who is the Creator of all things and for whom we live; and there is only one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom all things were created and through whom we live.” (I Corinthians 8:6)
  • “This life that I live now, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave his life for me.” (Galatians 2:20b)
  • “From now on, then, you must live the rest of your earthly lives controlled by God’s will and not by human desires.” (I Peter 4:2)

Some people think living for God means obeying lots of rules or commands. But what if those commands reveal our purpose and offer far more life?

The instruction manual for my kitchen range shares several rules, including: “Do not store explosives on or near the oven”; “Never modify or alter the construction of the oven”; and “Never leave surface burners unattended.” I can view these rules in one of two ways: 1) maximizing the purpose of the range or 2) limiting my freedoms. One view leads to good results and greater satisfaction. The other leads to frustration and serious injury or death.

The same is true for our lives.  God has given us an instruction manual that defines our purpose and tells us how to get the most out of this life and eternity. Would your life be more satisfying if you followed His instructions in Colossians 3?  (I am including The Message translation here because its directness made me think. Please consult your favorite translation if you prefer a different tone.)

“…Be content with obscurity, like Christ. And that means killing off everything connected with that way of death: sexual promiscuity, impurity, lust, doing whatever you feel like whenever you feel like it, and grabbing whatever attracts your fancy…make sure it’s all gone for good: bad temper, irritability, meanness, profanity, dirty talk. Don’t lie to one another. You’re done with that old life…
So, chosen by God for this new life of love, dress in the wardrobe God picked out for you: compassion, kindness, humility, quiet strength, discipline. Be even-tempered, content with second place, quick to forgive an offense. Forgive as quickly and completely as the Master forgave you. And regardless of what else you put on, wear love. It’s your basic, all-purpose garment. Never be without it. Let the peace of Christ keep you in tune with each other, in step with each other. None of this going off and doing your own thing. And cultivate thankfulness. Let the Word of Christ—the Message—have the run of the house. Give it plenty of room in your lives. Instruct and direct one another using good common sense. And sing, sing your hearts out to God! Let every detail in your lives—words, actions, whatever—be done in the name of the Master, Jesus, thanking God the Father every step of the way.”

Why does God expect us to do everything for His glory?  The short answer is in Revelation 4:11 (GNT), Our Lord and God! You are worthy to receive glory, honor, and power. For you created all things, and by your will they were given existence and life.”  Without God we would not exist.  As our creator, He gets to proclaim our purpose and instruct us on fulfilling it.

Following Your Creator’s instruction manual and the purpose for which He designed you is far more life. Reshaping your heart, mind, and actions to match His purpose for you will bring far more satisfaction than anything you can pursue on your own. We will build on this foundation in future posts as we examine how God created each of us with an individual passion — a personalized talent, skill, or desire — that energizes us and glorifies Him. But if you haven’t found far more life, start by embracing your primary purpose; “Whatever you do…do it all for God’s glory (I Corinthians 10:31).

Sisters,
Do you believe following God’s instructions bring you far more life?
Are you allowing His Word to shape your heart, mind, and actions?
Do you “do it all for God’s glory”?
If not, tell Him about it:
Tell Him what is holding you back;
Tell Him what you fear;
Tell Him what you think you will lose.
Give it a try: choose one instruction from His Word (the Bible) and commit to follow it this week.
Reap the benefits of far more life!
-Shari