How To Believe, Receive And Share God’s Gift Of Grace
by Eric Elder
Twenty inspiring lessons based on one of the most grace-filled books in the Bible.
INTRODUCTION: THE GRACE OF AN AMERICAN IDOL
Scripture Reading: Ephesians 3:18-19
Even if you’ve never watched American Idol, you may still have heard of Adam Lambert. He competed in the grand finale of this nation’s most famous singing contest.
Besides having an astounding voice, there’s another thing that stands out to me about this top contender: his consistent graciousness.
When complimented by the judges for an outstanding performance, Adam readily offers his thanks to those in the band who helped make it possible. When asked by the host how he’ll be adding his own spin to a famous song, Adam compliments the one who wrote the song, saying that it was so well-written there’s little he could add to make it better.
It seems that almost every time a compliment comes his way, Adam steers the praise towards those around him.
While not many of us will ever be able to sing like Adam Lambert, we can all take a lesson from this other facet of his life that has helped to make him so incredibly successful: his graciousness towards others. Does this mean we should follow his example in everything he does? Of course not! We all do some things that are more honoring to God than others. But his graciousness is something we would all do well to emulate.
When your thoughts, words and actions are filled with grace, people are naturally drawn towards you. They’re more likely to listen to what you have to say, to do what you ask them to do, and to become all that they can become. God wants you to be grace-filled, not only because it will enhance your life, but because it will enhance the lives of those around you as well.
God knows what a blessing graciousness can be because He’s been showering people with grace throughout human history. He knows that the best way to express His love to others is to overwhelm them with His grace.
God’s grace has helped transform countless lives, turning some of the most sour, bitter and angry people into people who are the most joy-filled, happy, and delightful people I know. I’ve also seen how those who don’t understand God’s grace, or who find it hard to understand or receive, also find it hard to express grace to others in meaningful or practical ways.
As for me, well, I guess I’m somewhere in between! I’d like to be more consistently gracious, but I’m not there yet. Sometimes I’m just too self-focused. Sometimes I become critical of others, forgetting how much grace God has already showered upon me. Sometimes I’m just not thinking, and ungraciousness slips out when I should have been gracious instead. Whatever the reason, I know that I have a lot to learn and a lot of room to grow.
So in the coming weeks, I’m going to be taking a closer look at the book of Ephesians, and I’d be glad for you to take a look along with me. Even though the book is only six chapters long, Ephesians is one of the most grace-filled books in the whole Bible. The Apostle Paul, who wrote the book originally as a letter to the Christians in the ancient Greek city of Ephesus (now modern-day Turkey), filled his letter with grace both in words and tone.
From the opening words to the closing line, Paul uses the word “grace” a dozen times, encouraging the Ephesians to understand and receive God’s grace for themselves and then to extend it to others. He prayed for them the same prayer that I’ll be praying for you, and for myself, in the weeks ahead:
“…that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide, and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge―that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God” (Ephesians 3:18-19).
I’m looking forward to this study of the book of Ephesians. I pray that God will overwhelm you with His grace, and that you’ll find it the most natural thing in the world to pour it out on others as well.
If you’ve never read the book of Ephesians before, I think you’ll find it to be filled with both grand thoughts about God and practical suggestions for your life. For those who have read it before, I think you’ll be amazed at how many of the most famous verses in the Bible are found in this very short book.
At the top of each devotional, I’ve included a Scripture Reading that I encourage you to read on your own, as I don’t include the full text of Ephesians in this book. When you’re finished reading each of these Scripture Readings, you’ll have read through the entire book of Ephesians.
I’ve also included a prayer at the end of each devotional that you can use to pray along with me. I hope this helps you to begin a quiet time of prayer with God in response to what you’ve read. To get you started, here’s today’s prayer:
Prayer: Father, thank You for the graciousness that we’ve seen displayed in the lives of others, and thank You for the graciousness that You’ve showered upon us. Help us, Lord, to be filled so much with Your grace that it flows out to those around us as well, blessing them―and ourselves―along the way. In Jesus’ name, Amen.