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Faith & Grace

 
I was fortunate to grow up in a family that has faith in Jesus Christ. We went to church twice on Sundays, Wednesday nights, and just about any other time the doors were open. My sister and I participated in Vacation Bible School and always enjoyed having active roles in the Church Christmas program. Having parents, siblings, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, friends, and even the neighbors next door all believe in God was a blessing. Of course, being surrounded by so many believers was motivating, and I can’t thank God enough that I was born into a life with so many who knew God and shared Him with me.
 Looking back I can see two things that happened over time in this environment. First, so many of the daily actions committed by faithful Christians like praying, reading the Bible, even attending Sunday School all became habit. Now, one can argue that such a habit is a great thing. The problem with habits is you become blissfully unaware of their affect on your life. The habit of church going sounds great, but somewhere in there you can get to a ‘harden heart’ kind of place where you aren’t touched by the little things. Sunday mornings you get up somewhat reluctant to put on the proper church attire. Instead you imagine all the tasks that could be accomplished that day if you didn’t have to attend church. You show up just in time for the opening hymn, pay enough attention to barely catch the main points of a lesson or sermon, then you rush home anxious to ‘begin’ your Sunday. You fail to see God’s hand in every area of your life. You forget faith is a walk and should be a constant growth process. Dare I say – faith in God becomes a ritual? A mindless habit?
          Hebrews 11:1 describes faith in this way -“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”
The substance of things hoped for – wow! What do we hope for when we go to church? What about when we pray? The essence of what we hope for is faith. Whether we hope for God to touch our lives or hope for the sermon to end soon, our faith is made up of what we hope for. Faith doesn’t stop there. Faith is the evidence of things not seen. Someone with great faith believes with their heart and soul not just on what is obvious that can be seen and touched. To have faith in unforeseen things, you must be dependent upon God and rely on Him for all your needs. Faith isn’t where you go on Sunday or praying at night before bed. Faith is the matters in your life that you trust God to handle. All of those things you hope for in Him.
          Besides watching as faith was more of a habit to some than a daily walk, the second thing that I saw over time when being surrounded by habitual Christians was a lack of grace. The grace of God is talked about and often used in daily dialogue, ‘only by the grace of God’. Still, there were so many times when I wondered if people realized the amazing, powerful grace of God. “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.” Romans 3:23-24. How powerful! We all have sinned. We all equally need God’s grace.
          Then in Ephesians 2:4-9 the Bible says, But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, 5 even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), 6 and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, 9 not of works, lest anyone should boast.”
          Do our lives as Christians reflect the amazing mercy and grace God has demonstrated to us? Are we willing to show others mercy? Do we live knowing that God’s grace through faith saves? As we become busy with life, do we forget God’s power? For those of us who were blessed to grow up in a Christian environment and still live in one today, do we become immune to the wonder that is found in God’s saving grace?
          I know that life is full of distractions. I can think of many times when I have not remembered God’s mercy and grace in my life. As a woman of faith and God’s child, I do pray that I will not only remember God’s amazing grace but demonstrate that grace to others. I pray I don’t succumb to the habits of being busy with life and become lukewarm or simply untouched by our powerful Lord.
          I pray this blog will serve as a small safe haven from worldly distractions (TV, internet –including Facebook!, your job, a bad environment, a negative way of  thinking, a mindless routine). Perhaps, this blog will help you remember we can never have enough faith and grace.

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