1 Timothy chapter 1

“Yet I was shown mercy…and the grace of our Lord was more than abundant…” – Vs 15

Mercy and grace – two words that should bring a smile to any believer’s face. Because without them, we would still be hopelessly lost in our sins. Yet as it was with Paul, God showed us mercy. Rather than giving us what we deserve, He showered us with His unmerited favor in the form of mercy. Paul was “a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent aggressor” before coming to Christ, but he was shown mercy by God. What an incredible gift. And I have received it as well.

Amazing Grace

But that’s not all Paul and I have received. God showed us grace. He accepted me just as I was. He didn’t make me get my act together or clean it up. Instead He just loved me in spite of me. One definition of grace I particularly love is “grace is the face love wears when it encounters imperfection.” When God saw me in my sin, He didn’t turn His face away in disgust, but He showed me love, and He didn’t make me measure up first or somehow earn it or deserve it. Because I would have failed.

In his book, Knowing God, J. I. Packer describes grace this way:

What is grace? In the New Testament grace means God’s love in action towards men who merited the opposite of love. Grace means God moving heaven and earth to save sinners who could not lift a finger to save themselves. Grace means God sending His only Son to descend into hell on the cross so that we guilty ones might be reconciled to God and received into heaven. ‘(God) hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin, that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.’

Encouraging Grace

Lately, I have been becoming increasingly aware of just how amazing grace really is. It’s not just a gift I received that will somehow allow me to get into heaven. It is an atmosphere in which I live as a believer. Grace is the environment in which I am loved by God regardless of my performance. I don’t have to meet certain criteria to be loved by God. I don’t have to do more good things and less bad things to be loved by God. I don’t have to keep a list of rules to be loved by God. I am just loved by God. In spite of my flaws and imperfections, and that is grace. God’s love in action.

Paul said God’s grace was “more than abundant, with the faith and love which are found in Christ Jesus” (Vs 14). In other words, God’s grace overflowed to Paul. But God didn’t just show him grace on the road to Damascus, He poured out His grace each and every day of Paul’s life. That’s why Paul could write in Romans “where sin increased grace abounded all the more” (Romans 5:20). God’s grace abounds in the presence of sin. It doesn’t fade away or turn away. Grace is God’s love reaching out to us in our imperfections, even after having come to Christ. Like Paul we can say,

“For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh; for the willing is present in me, but the doing of the good is not. For the good that I want, I do not do, but I practice the very evil that I do not want.” (Romans 7:18-19)

Paul was experiencing the daily battle with the flesh common to all of us. But he was also experiencing God’s abundant, amazing grace in the form of His love in the face of our own sin. Which bring to mind an old hymn we sang when I was growing up as a child.

Grace, Grace, God’s Grace

Marvelous grace of our loving Lord,
Grace that exceeds our sin and our guilt!
Yonder on Calvary’s mount outpoured,
There where the blood of the Lamb was spilled.

Grace, grace, God’s grace,
Grace that will pardon and cleanse within;
Grace, grace, God’s grace,
Grace that is greater than all our sin.

Father, thank you for your amazing, abundant, boundless grace. You never run out and You never hold out. You love me in spite of me. You show me grace each and every day of my life and for that I am eternally grateful. Amen

Ken Miller
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men

Acts chapter 28

“And he stayed there two full years in his own rented quarters and was welcoming all who came to him, preaching the kingdom of God and teaching concerning the Lord Jesus Christ with all openness, unhindered.” – Vs 30-31

As we reach the final chapter of this amazing book, you would think we had come to an end of something. Not only of the book of Acts, but of Paul’s life. But that would come some five or six years later. Even while in confinement in Rome, Paul managed to write his letters to the Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, and to Philemon. He would later be released and continue to his missionary journeys, write 1 Timothy and Titus, then be imprisoned a second time in Rome, where he wrote his second letter to Timothy. Some time around the year 67, Paul was executed in Rome. But rather than the end, it was just the beginning.

God had started something truly significant in Jerusulem that day of Pentecost – His church – and it continues to this day. In fact, as I write this blog entry, I am in Recife, Brazil with a mission team from our church, ministering to children in a remote fishing village. We have participated in worship with local believers who don’t speak our language, but who love our God and believe in Jesus Christ. It is an amazing experience and a vivid reminder that “preaching the kingdom of God and teaching concerning the Lord Jesus Christ” isn’t just what Paul did, it is what we are all supposed to be doing. The “salvation of God has been sent to the Gentiles and they will also listen” (Vs 28), and Paul was right – they are listening.

The God of the book of Acts is the God of our day. He is just as active and powerful as He was in Paul’s day. His message of hope through His Son Jesus Christ is just as relevant and necessary as it was almost 2,000 years ago. Do you see Him? Are you experiencing His life-changing power? Have you witnessed His kingdom spreading around the world as His ambassadors take the good news of Jesus Christ to the far corners of the globe? It’s happening and it is an amazing sight to see.

Father, thank You that the church didn’t stop with the end of the books of Acts. And that it didn’t stop with the death of Paul or any of the other apostles. Thank You that it is alive and well and growing all over the world. What a blessing to worship alongside Brazilians who love You and who love us as their brothers and sisters in Christ. Someone brought the Gospel here long before we arrived. The good news has taken root and is growing. What a privilege it is to play even a small part of spreading the message of Your Son’s love to the children in a non-descript village in the middle of nowhere along the coast of Brazil. May they come to know Jesus Christ as their personal Savior and become part of the family of God. Amen

Ken Miller
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men