Thursday, May 30, 2013

A WORD AND A PERSON

What is so awesome about my conversion and all other conversions is that "he first loved us" - "We love because he first loved us." - 1 John 4:19  The love that was shown to us by God the Father through Christ so many years ago - His life, beatings, death, and resurrection - was all unconditional, undeserved, and unmerited favor.  "For it is by [unconditional, undeserved, and unmerited favor] you have been saved, through faith--and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God--" (Ephesians 2:8)

I have heard it said, even to my face, "Ah, but you don't know the atrocities I have done."  No, but God does and He took care of the penalty you and I would have faced for those "atrocities" in life.  The worse possible things in life a person could ever do or think to do - Jesus paid for it all.  So, whenever you begin to think of an affront against God that might be unpardonable, remember - "where sin increased, [unconditional, undeserved, unmerited favor] increased all the more," (Romans 5:20).

There is a word I am avoiding here because we have heard it, read it, sung it, preached it, and taught it many times within Christendom to the point of numbness whenever it is used.

Did you know that there were certain people looking intently for this favor of God before it came on the scene in the person of Jesus of Nazareth?  "Concerning this salvation, the prophets, who spoke of the [favor] that was to come to you, searched intently and with the greatest care," (1 Peter 1:10)  

Besides Jesus, Stephen was full of this undeserved/unmerited favor (Acts 6:8).  Paul and Barnabas spoke boldly about this kind of favor and because so they were enabled by God to do miraculous signs and wonders (Acts 14:3).  Paul, later in his letter to the church in Corinth, describes how God's favor is to blame for everything concerning his life.  "But by the [undeserved favor] of God I am what I am, and his [favor] to me was not without effect. No, I worked harder than all of them--yet not I, but the [unmerited favor] of God that was with me." (1 Corinthians 15:10).  In his letter to the church at Colosse, Paul writes that even our speech is to be loaded with the favor of the Lord - "Let your conversation be always full of [God's favor], seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone." (Colossians 4:6)

There is even a Throne of Favor.  Christians have access to this Throne of Favor in order to receive mercy and favor concerning help in times of pressure.  Hebrews 4:16 actually reads - "Let us then approach the throne of [God's favor] with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find [favor] to help us in our time of need."  More of God's favor is awarded to those who are humble - "But he gives us more [favor]. That is why Scripture says: "God opposes the proud but gives [favor] to the humble." (James 4:6)

God's favor is not just something that can be enjoyed here and now, but 1 Peter 1:13 encourages us to look forward to a day when Believers will be lavished with more favor from Christ - in person.  "Therefore, prepare your minds for action; be self-controlled; set your hope fully on the [favor] to be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed."  Meanwhile, actively wait.  Jesus said, "Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons. Freely you have received, freely give." (Matthew 10:8)  A true believer -  who has experienced the saving, unconditional, undeserved, unmerited favor of God - will desire to share or spread this great news as far and wide as possible!  In fact, 1 Peter 4:10 encourages Christians to do just that - "Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God's [favor] in its various forms."

What is this unconditional, undeserved, unmerited favor of God that we received and we now can give to the rest of the world?    His Grace.