Great Grace

“GREAT GRACE”
BY
RANDALL J. BREWER
The world had been turned upside down. Jesus had arisen from the grave and ascended on high. Before doing so He made it clear to those who followed Him that they were to pick up the mantle and continue the mission to go out and make disciples of all men.
No longer could they be mere spectators to the miracle-working power of Jesus but were commissioned to go into all the world and do even greater works than He did. The supernatural did not stop with Jesus and how amazed the disciples must have felt when they realized that soon this same Messiah would be living in them and working through them.
A short time later those in the upper room were gloriously filled with the Holy Spirit and now the Lords’ followers were taking the world by storm with a super-natural power never before seen since the dawn of time.
Miracles galore were performed and souls were being added to the church daily. The lame man at the gate of the temple called “Beautiful” was raised up and entered the temple walking, and leaping, and praising God (Acts 3:8). The whole city was shaken to its’ core and soon the religious Sanhedrin leaders “called them and commanded them not to speak at all nor teach in the name of Jesus” (Acts4:18).
Their threats were indeed spoken in vain as the disciples went to their own companions and raised their voice to God with one accord and asked for boldness and fearless confidence to continue preaching the message of the resurrected Savior “and that signs and wonders may be done through the name of Your holy Servant Jesus.
And when they had prayed, the place where they were assembled together was shaken; and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and they spoke the word of God with boldness” (Acts 4:30,31).
What had been a small group of confused and frightened men just a few days prior to this were now fearless warriors thriving forward to fulfill the prophecy spoken by Jesus in Acts 1:8, “But you shall receive power when te Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” When told to stop what they were doing they prayed to God for more boldness and more miracles.
With much courage they pressed on with the great commission and their enthusiasm and joy carried them forward where in times past they would have run away and hid. The Message Bible says in Acts 2:43-47, “Everyone around was in awe – all those wonders and signs done through the apostles!
And all the believers lived in a wonderful harmony, holding everything in common. They sold whatever they owned and pooled their resources so that each persons’ need was met. They followed a daily discipline of worship in the Temple followed by meals at home, every meal a celebration, exuberant and joyful, as they praised God. People in general liked what they saw. Every day their number grew as God added those who were saved.”
Like Jesus they also were turning their world upside down. Acts 4:33 states, “And with great power the apostles gave witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And great grace was upon them all.” It takes grace to accomplish what God wants you to do.
Life is hard when you try to do it on your own without the grace of God in your life. Your talents and abilities are not enough to do all that God has called you to do.
This is why Jesus said in Matt. 11:28, “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” When you come to Jesus He’ll pour His grace into your life and what was once hard now becomes easy.
Jesus continued in vs. 29,30, “Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”
The Message Bible says, “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to Me. Get away with Me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with Me and work with Me – watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you.
Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” The phenominal grace of God is exceptional, outstanding, and unsurpassing. It is kindness not earned and means “to bend down, to stoop down in kindness” as in a superior reaching down to an inferior.
We were saved by grace (Eph. 2:8) and we are to live by grace. With enough grace we can do anything, be anything, and receive anything. Great grace was upon those first century believers and since we are a part of this same church we must strive daily to walk in that same grace.
Paul writes in Rom. 5:17b, “…those who receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ.” When Paul says an “abundance” of grace he is using a descriptive measure of grace just like Luke did in Acts 4:33 when he said “great” grace was upon them all.
This tells us that grace can be increased and that we can have more grace than we’re experiencing right now.
About Jesus we read in Luke 2:40, “And the Child grew and became strong in spirit, filled with wisdom; and the grace of God was upon Him.” We then read in vs. 52, “And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man.” The favor and grace that was on the life of Jesus increased and Peter tells us to “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 3:18). James 4:6 says, “But He gives more grace. Therefore He says: ‘God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.'”
To grow in grace you must grow in humility. Never take the credit for what God does through you. Don’t brag about your faith and how hard you work for God and how many hours you pray.
It is the grace of God that gives you the ability and everything else you need to accomplish the opportunities you’ve been given. Gen. 6:8 says, “But Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord.” Grace made all the difference in his life and like Noah we also are in the ark of Jesus.
We’re safe and sound and we’ve found grace and favor in the eyes of the Lord. It is because of grace that we are saved from our sins and not going to the lake of fire. We are not saved by works lest any man should boast (Eph. 2:9).
The angel Gabriel said to the virgin Mary, “Rejoice, highly favored one, the Lord is with you; blessed are you among women!” (Luke 1:28). Mary was favored and blessed because the Lord was with her and not because of anything she had done on her own.
She was chosen to be the mother of Jesus because the grace of God was on her life. Mary’s humility was revealed in her response, “Behold the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word.”
The apostle John wrote, “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14). Grace is a big word and there are varying degrees  of how much grace can be upon you.
Great grace was upon the first century church and in Greek the word “great” means ‘mega.’ This was not a little grace. It was a big grace and it was upon them all. John continues in vs. 16, “For out of His fullness (abundance) we have all received [all had a share and we were all supplied with] one grace after another and spiritual blessing upon spiritual blessing and even favor upon favor and gift [heaped] upon gift” (AMP).
This is a stacked grace, grace upon grace upon grace, layer upon layer. You can have so much grace upon you that what was once impossible is now possible. With more grace things that were once difficult now become effortless.
With enough grace you can receive any miracle and overcome any struggle. You can be what you’re supposed to be and do what you’re supposed to do. With more grace you can run your race and finish your course. This is why Paul told Timothy to “be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus” (2 Tim. 2:1).
Exodus 33 shows us what grace is. Moses had been sent to Egypt to deliver the people from bondage and in the wilderness they murmurred and complained and often desired to return to their former captors. When Moses went up the mountain to receive the ten commandments the people foolishly built and worshipped a golden calf.
God was now angry for their continual rebellion and said in vs. 3, “Go up to a land flowing with milk and honey; for I will not go up in your midst, lest I consume you on the way, for you are a stiff-necked people.” As he always did Moses intervened before God on behalf of the people and he said in vs. 13-16a, “‘Now therefore, I pray, if I have found grace in your sight, show me Your way, that I may know You and that I may find grace in Your sight.
And consider that this nation is Your people.’ And He said, ‘My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.’ Then he said to Him, ‘If Your Presence does not go with us, do not bring us up from here. For how then will it be known that Your people and I have found grace in your sight, except You go with us?'”
The grace of God is the presence of God. John 1:14 tells us that grace and glory go together and “glory” can be defined as ‘the manifested presence of God.’ A mark of His presence is that He will give you rest and cause peace to abound in your life.
The way of the wicked is hard but when you have peace you are not frantic or disturbed. You’re in the eye of the hurricane, the favor zone, the safe harbor of God’s comfort and protection.
Acts 3:19b tells us “that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord.” The Message Bible says God will “pour out showers of blessing to refresh you.” The more grace that is upon you the more peace you’ll have. Moses trusted God and Is. 26:3,4 states, “You will keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You. Trust in the Lord forever, for in YAH, the Lord, is everlasting strength.”
David wrote in Ps.5:11, “But let all those rejoice who put their trust in You; Let them ever shout for joy, because You defend (protect) them; Let those also who love Your name be joyful in You.” You can’t be in faith and be depressed. Faith always shouts and rejoices whereas doubt brings hardship and despair.
David tells us why we shout in vs. 12, “For You, O Lord, will bless the righteous; With favor You will surround him as with a shield.” A shield of grace is a spiritual force field that will surround you and protect you like it did Job.
Satan said to God, “Have You not made a hedge around him, around his household, and around all that he has on every side?”
(Job 1:10a). Ps. 30:5 says, “His favor is for life” and we read in vs. 7, “Lord, by Your favor You have made my mountain stand strong.” Weakness of spirit causes you to stumble and fall but grace gives you strength, a spiritual backbone that will cause you to endure whatever the enemy brings against you.
In His grace there is life and you can be firm as a mountain in the midst of distress.
Prov. 19:12 says the kings’ “favor is like dew on the grass.” Dew can be light as a mist or it can be as if a heavy rain had fallen. In like manner there are various measures of grace.
You can have little grace where you hardly notice it or so much grace that it’s dripping off of you. Prov. 16:15 states, “In the light of the kings’ face is life, and his favor is like a cloud of the latter rain.” A person who is highly favored walks in a greater degree of grace than others.
In their life is grace upon grace upon grace. This is great grace and Heb. 4:16 says we can “come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” God helps you with His grace and if you need more help you’ll need more grace. Ps. 119:57,58 says, “You are my portion, O Lord; I have said that I would keep Your words. I entreated Your favor with my whole heart; Be merciful to me according to Your word.”
Ps. 89:17 says, “For You are the glory of their strength, and in Your favor our horn is exalted.” The Message Bible states, “By Your favor You give us victory.” The word “horn” is a symbol of power and the NLT says, “It pleases You to make us strong.” You can initiate a grace increase and gain more favor by pleasing God. If you’ll please Him  more, you’ll be favored more. Jesus said in John 8:29, “And He Who sent Me is with Me.
The Father has not left Me alone, for I always do those things that please Him.” This is why Jesus walked in favor with God and man. The grace of God was on Him without measure and we can walk as Jesus walked and have the same grace He had.
David wrote in Ps. 40:8, “I delight to do Your will, O my God, and Your law is within my heart.” God takes great joy in those who cheerfully do His will. Like David, an attitude of delightful desire should fill all our attempts to please God and when we do even our enemies will be at peace with us (Prov. 16:7).
In Ps. 41:11 we read, “By this I know that You are well pleased with me, because my enemy does not triumph over me.” We win in life and are successful because we please God and are favored by Him. Our power of influence, our favor, grows by pleasing Him more and more.
The Bible gives many accounts of people who also walked in favor with God and man and a study of their lives will reveal to us how we also can walk in great grace. The book of Esther is one such story and it is all about grace and favor.
It is the theme of the entire book and tells how God raised a Jewish girl out of obscurity to become the queen of the most powerful empire in the world. An evil plot had been devised by Haman to annihilate all the Jews in the region and the book of Esther was written to show how the Jewish people were protected and preserved by the gracious hand of God.
The name “Esther” is derived from the Persian word for ‘star’ and her courage and humility shined forth as she and her wise cousin Mordecai set out to counter the threat that had arisen against Gods’ people.
The story begins when King Ahasuerus provided a lavish banquet for the people of Shushan and proudly sought to make Queen Vashtis’ beauty a part of the program.
When she refused to appear it was feared that the other women in the kingdom would become insolent if Vashti went unpunished. The king received counsel to depose her and seek another queen which he promptly did.
From every province in the kingdom beautiful young virgins were brought to the citadel for a year of preparation to beautify the women even more than they already were and the one who pleased the king the most would be the new queen.
Esther 2:13 says, “Thus prepared, each young woman went to the king, and she was given whatever she desired to take with her from the womens’ quarters to the kings’ palace.” These women selfishly took whatever they wanted in hopes of gaining an unfair advantage over the others in this royal beauty contest.
Not so with Esther. “Now when the turn came for Esther…to go in to the king, she requested nothing but what Hegai the kings’ eunuch, the custodian of the women, advised. And Esther obtained favor in the sight of all who saw her.” Esther did not ask for special treatment nor did she feel entitled to receive it.
Some people are always demanding things from other people but you can’t be gracious to someone who thinks they deserve it. God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble.
Matt. 20:21 tells how the mother of Zebedees’ sons came to Jesus asking for special treatment, “And He said to her, ‘What do you wish?’ She said to Him, ‘Grant that these two sons of mine may sit, one on Your right hand and the other on the left, in Your kingdom.'” This is not how you get favor from God.
This is pride and presumption and in vs. 24 we read, “And when the ten heard it, they were moved with indignation against the two brothers.” When you expect nothing from other people and dispel the notion that they owe you something then you are open to receive more grace from God. If people don’t ask a lot from you, you just naturally want to do more for them.
Grace is not given to people who are always wanting something. Stop asking people for things with an attitude that they owe you and in faith ask God instead.
Esther asked for no special treatment and in Esther 2:17 we read, “The king loved Esther more than all the other women, and she gained grace and favor in his sight more than all the virgins; so he set the royal crown upon her head and made her queen instead of Vashti.” It was this same grace that allowed Esther to go into the inner court of the king unannounced and thus put an end to the plot to kill all the Jews in the region.
All this happened because in humility Esther asked for no special treatment and thus gained favor with God and man.
You can’t serve God and please Him without grace. Heb. 12:28 says, “Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us have grace, by which we may serve God acceptably with reverence and Godly fear.” Nehemiah wanted to serve God by returning to his homeland to rebuild the broken down, shattered walls of Jerusalem.
First he needed to be granted permission from the king for a leave of absence from his current duties. Neh. 2:4 states, “Then the king said to me, ‘What do you request?’ So I prayed to the God of heaven.” Nehemiah needed a special favor from the king and in faith the first thing he did was go to God in prayer. “And I said to the king, ‘If it pleases the king, and if your servant has found favor in your sight, I ask that you send me to Judah, to the city of my fathers’ tombs, that I may rebuild it.'” If you want favor from somebody, show respect, be humble, and ask in a nice and polite manner.
There is a difference between asking and demanding. Nehemiah also wanted the king to give him written permission to pass through the various regions of the area. “And the king granted them to me according to the good hand of my God upon me” (vs. 8b).
Rom. 5:1,2 says, “Therefore, having been justified by faith we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through Whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.” Faith in God puts no pressure on people.
Faith doesn’t have the need to put demands on people because it is believing God to supply the need. Like Nehemiah, we don’t look to people for answers, we look to God. Daniel was a prisoner in Babylon and he purposed in his heart not to defile himself with the kings’ food which had been first offered to idols. “Therefore he requested of the chief of the eunuchs that he might not defile himself.
Now God had brought Daniel into the favor and good will of the chief of the eunuchs” (Dan. 1:8b,9). Daniel requested a favor from the chief eunuch and in vs. 12 he said “please.” Rudeness can forfeit grace so if you want favor with God and man you must be polite and gracious. The humble get the grace and the eunuch agreed to Daniels’ request at the risk of getting his head cut off.
God can bless you through unexpected channels so be humble as a lamb and always treat people with respect. Don’t act like everybody owes you something and don’t try to manipulate people and call it faith. It’s not wise to be asking favors from people all the time but if the need arises be kind and polite. Say “sir”, “ma’am”, “please”, and “thank you”. Stop begging and asking for handouts all the time. Just be kind and nice to people and put your faith in God to bless you with more grace.
Joseph was a man who was highly favored. He was his fathers’ favorite son and he received the coat of many colors. As a lad the Lord gave him two dreams that told of the spectacular favor that was upon his life. This made his older brothers bitter and angry and they sold Joseph as a slave to a traveling caravan who brought him to Egypt.
However, what his brothers meant for evil, God meant for good. “The Lord was with Joseph, and he was a successful man; and he was in the house of his master the Egyptian. And his master saw that the Lord was with him and that the Lord made all he did to prosper in his hand. So Joseph found favor in his sight and served him.
Then he made him overseer of his house, and all that he had he put in his hand” (Gen. 39:2-4). The presence of God was with Joseph and great grace made him a prosperous man even as a slave.
The favor of God can prosper you in any situation and it matters not what the state of the economy is or how much education you have or do not have. If you’re where you’re supposed to be in the plan of God for your life, His grace will prosper you.
Joseph was a faithful man and he was put in charge every place he went. He was loyal and was a man who could be trusted. He did not sin with Potifers’ wife but was falsely accused of doing so and was thrown into prison. “But the Lord was with Joseph and showed him mercy, and He gave him favor in the sight of the keeper of the prison.
And the keeper of the prison committed to Josephs’ hand all the prisoners who were in the prison; whatever they did there, it was his doing. The keeper of the prison did not look into anything that was under Josephs’ hand, because the Lord was with him; and whatever he did, the Lord made it prosper” (Gen. 39:21-23).
The Lord dealt bountifully with Joseph and everything he did blossomed. If you want more grace and favor in your life then be faithful in the little things and God will make you ruler over much (Matt. 25:21). Joseph also did not let himself become bitter over all the wrong done to him. He remained faithful and sinned not.
We read in Heb. 12:14,15, “Pursue peace with all men, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord; looking diligently lest anyone fall short of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up cause trouble, and by this many become defiled.” Quickly forgive those who have wronged you because if you become bitter you’ll lose your grace, your joy, and your peace. Get in faith, stay in faith, and always remain faithful.
God can find you wherever you’re at and His grace will cause you to be a ruler in your world. Grace brought Joseph from total obscurity to running the entire nation and the same thing happened to Esther and Daniel. With more grace you, too, can rise up and be a person of influence, all in one day.
You can not earn grace (Rom. 11:6). You can’t do things and expect to be owed grace. It is a free, undeserved, unmerited gift from God. You don’t deserve it and you can’t demand to get it. You can, however, have the kind of heart that will allow you to receive it in abundance.
David was one of the most graced and favored men in all the Bible. He was a man after Gods’ own heart and the Lord was with him and preserved him all the days of his life. He said in 1 Chron. 17;16, “Who am I, O Lord God? And what is my house, that You have brought me this far?” A sense of entitlement will disqualify you from receiving the grace of God.
David had a humble heart and a whole-hearted desire and passion for God. He wrote many psalms of praise and danced with all his might when the ark of the covenant was returned to its’ proper place. He had a heart for God and loved Him with all his heart, soul, and might and the grace of God was upon him without measure.
Reach down deep inside yourself and give God everything you’ve got. When you love God with all your heart, you’ll serve Him with all your heart. This will make you “accepted in the Beloved” (Eph. 1:16) and great grace will be upon your life. Before long you’ll be able to turn your world upside down as well.
The greatest example of how to obtain more grace from God comes from the final words spoken by Jesus before He died on the cross, “Father, into Your hands I commit My spirit” (Luke 23:46). Jesus said this in faith after being forsaken by the Father.
He humbled Himself in total confidence that the Father would cause Him to experience great grace and be raised from the dead three days later. 1 Peter 5:5b-7 tells us, “and be clothed with humility, for ‘God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.’ Therefore humble yourself under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your cares upon Him, for He cares for you.” To experience more grace you must humble yourself, trust God, and put yourself in His hands. This is what Esther did.
Any person who approached the king without first being called could be put to death. She called for a three day fast among the Jews and said, “My maids and I will fast likewise. And so I will go to the king, which is against the law; and if I perish, I perish!” (Esther 4:16b). Esther put herself totally in Gods’ hands and the hands of the king.
When you’re at the end of your rope you can receive more grace than you’ve ever had before. As a result of her humility great grace and supernatural favor came upon her and the king offered to give her up to half of his kingdom. Never attempt to exalt yourself but instead “humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up” (James 4:10). Humility is the surest way to experience great grace.
God is helping us much more than we know. When we are weak His grace makes us strong. Grace will bring you from no where to some where and will turn you from a nobody to a somebody. The grace is there and we can’t be perpetually ignorant of this favor, especially in the realm of our heavenly call.
It needs to be perceived, acknowledged, and understood. Pride says “it’s me’ and humility says “it’s Him.” You can’t even breathe without the grace of God so acknowledge the grace and give God the glory. If you don’t the grace on you will diminish more and more.
Paul wrote in Gal. 2:9a, “and when James, Cephas, and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that had been given to me, they gave me and Barnabas the right hand of fellowship.” Paul continually recognized and acknowledged the grace that was upon him (see Rom. 12:3; 15:15; Eph. 3:2).
He said in Col. 1:29 (NIV) that he was “struggling with all His energy that’s working powerfully in me.” He was saying “there is something beyond me working in me” and it was the grace of God. Gods’ grace is all you’ll ever need to live a victorious life. God told Paul, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness” (2 Cor. 12:9). Ps. 84;11 says, “For the Lord God is a sun and shield; The Lord will give grace and glory; No good thing will He withhold from those who walk uprightly.”
Grace is a good thing and the more you have the more you’ll be able to become the person God intended you to be. Paul said in 1 Cor. 15;10, “But by the grace of God I am what I am; and His grace toward me was not in vain; but I labored more abundantly than they all, yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.” Don’t waste the grace that is on you but like Paul reach out and be a blessing to others. 1 Peter 4:10,11a states, “As each one has received a gift, minister it to one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.
If anyone speaks, let him speak as the oracles of God. If anyone ministers, let him do it as with the ability which God supplies…” Paul wrote in Philemon 6, “that the sharing of your faith may become effective by the acknowledgment of every good thing which is in you in Christ Jesus.” You are graced and gifted to serve others and if the grace is not perceived and acknowledged it will be as if it weren’t even there.
Don’t squander the gift but be a good steward of the grace of God on your life. If you’ll treasure it God will draw closer to you and His grace will increase more and more. Before long great grace will be upon you and you’ll be able to use it to its’ full potential and turn your world upside down. After all, that’s what grace is for.

 

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