Day Eighteen (Grace) — (January 23rd)

684 456 Bridge Church NYC

God loves me, adores me
Watches over me, you are for me
Grace loved me, and it’s not what I deserved
And nothing that I’ve earned
But daily grace saves me.
I’d be lost but for your grace

  • Grace, Tasha Cobbs

How does tea taste the way it tastes? Separately, the ingredients are not all that appetizing. Ever hear of someone looking forward to chomping on dried out leaves? Or kicking back straight boiling water? The combination of these two ingredients creates a drink people relish in different ways all over the world. Separately, these ingredients are not attractive, but together they open a realm of possibility. The ingredients also need to enter into a defined space if they are going to be successfully unified.The tea kettle where these ingredients meet and bond is the environment that unlocks the full power and flavor of this dynamic duo. Grace and truth are a lot like tea leaves and hot water. Apart, neither grace nor truth is sufficient. Combined, when placed in the right context, they change lives. The “kettle” that unlocks this power is a community. God created us to experience grace and truth in the heat of community to unlock our potential. In the same way tea leaves and water need a space to brew, we need to the atmosphere of community for grace and truth to transform and mature us.

Grace is a relational aspect of God’s character. Grace is unbroken, unearned, and accepting. tweet

The grace of God, found in the gospel message is the source of what makes us whole: spiritually, and emotionally, and holistically in every way.
The grace of Jesus is expressed in this passage about how we come into relationship with Him:

For you are saved by grace through faith, and this is not from yourselves; it is God’s    gift— not from works, so that no one can boast. (Ephesians 2:8-9)

God’s gift of grace rescues us from the judgment we deserve and offers us a brand new life of fullness that we don’t deserve. There’s no room to boast in ourselves, because we didn’t earn a relationship with God; He gave it freely given to us.

God’s grace in the Gospel isn’t merely mercy. Mercy is the withholding of a punishment that is deserved. Before he left office, President Obama granted a pardon to over 1,900 prisoners, including Rory Larry Lee–who was serving a life sentence. To receive the pardon, Lee, like all the others pardoned, had to admit they were guilty. When they confessed, the president released them from their sentence and removed the charge from their record. What an amazing gesture. But that’s still mercy, it’s not grace. Grace would be if after getting a pardon, President Obama invited Mr. Lee, to live with his family and take on the name Obama!
The Apostle Paul was awestruck at the grace of God in his life. He used the term over 80 times in his letters and often characterized himself by God’s grace. He also understood that the reality of God’s grace  needed to be lived out among God’s people.

God established the Church to be the community where we can experience and extend grace to each other, where sins are forgiven and one does not have to work to earn love and acceptance. We are meant to get a taste of God’s grace in communities where His unmerited favor is expressed among everyone.
Therefore, as God’s chosen ones, holy and dearly loved, put on compassion, kindness,
humility, gentleness, and patience, bearing with one another and forgiving one another if anyone has a grievance against another. Just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you are also to forgive. Above all, put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity. And let the peace of Christ, to which you were also called in one body, rule your hearts.
(Colossians 3:12-15)

God’s unmerited favor toward us should impact how we treat each other. tweet

Read that list again. In this description of what it means to show grace he instructs believers to “bear with one another.” Bearing with someone looks like persistent patience as one continues to extend grace. Next, he teaches forgiveness “just as the Lord has forgiven you.” How much does the Lord forgive us? Completely. Paul also writes, that “above all, put on love”. Each person in our City Groups and our church ought to live by this standard as we do life together. Grace is like the air we breathe; it’s the most basic need we have among us. Grace allows us to have a relationship with God. It also drives our fellowship with each other.

Grace is necessary to experience authentic relationships with each other, but it’s not sufficient alone. By itself, grace forgives but does not fully restore us because grace offers  no specific correction. Grace without truth gives us acceptance without direction. Grace without truth lies. When the truth does not accompany grace, we cannot grow. If you had a teacher that gave you 100% for every assignment, even though half your answers were incorrect, you would learn both a false sense of the subject and your identity as a student. That is what happens when we receive acceptance without correction. We don’t just need an atmosphere of grace, we also need truth. Tomorrow, we will dig into more of why truth is so important to partner with grace.

  1. How is grace different than mercy?
  2. How does God’s grace toward you impact your view and treatment of others?
  3. What is one way you can display grace to someone in your community?

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