Grace Among and Through Us

We want you to know, brothers, about the grace of God that has been given among the churches of Macedonia, for in a severe test of affliction, their abundance of joy and their extreme poverty have overflowed in a wealth of generosity on their part. For they gave according to their means, as I can testify, and beyond their means, of their own accord, begging us earnestly for the favor of taking part in the relief of the saints— and this, not as we expected, but they gave themselves first to the Lord and then by the will of God to us. Accordingly, we urged Titus that as he had started, so he should complete among you this act of grace. But as you excel in everything—in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in all earnestness, and in our love for you—see that you excel in this act of grace also…  For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich… We carry out this act of grace that is being ministered by us, for the glory of the Lord himself and to show our good will.” 2 Corinthians 8:1-7,9,19 “And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work… They will glorify God because of your submission that comes from your confession of the gospel of Christ, and the generosity of your contribution.., while they long for you and pray for you, because of the surpassing grace of God upon you.” 2 Corinthians 9:8,13-14 The God who saves us by grace is the God who keeps us by grace, supplying all sufficiency for our good works as He works among His people. Amazing, abounding grace, active through His own, is poured out from beginning to end that He be trusted, shared, and glorified. (Ephesians 2:8-9)
Only God’s grace puts a severe test of affliction in the same sentence as abundant joy, extreme poverty with overflowing generosity, and every variety of individual within His church. God initiates the grace of needs, followed by the graces of dependence on Him, desire to give, ability to give, and joyful gratitude in having needs met. When we give ourselves first to the Lord, we get bound up in His grace that shapes and sanctifies us, that teaches us we exist to honor Him, whether in need, or in the position to relieve that need. (Philippians 4:11-20) How are we responding to God’s acts of grace in our lives? Do we fret and complain at difficulties, afflictions, and needs, or see them as opportunities to participate in God’s kingdom work? “Amazing grace (how sweet the sound) that saved a wretch like me! I once was lost, but now am found, was blind, but now I see. Through many dangers, toils and snares I have already come: ’tis grace has brought me safe thus far, and grace will lead me home.”  ~John Newton (1779) Lord, cause Your sufficient, surpassing grace to inform my mind, activate my heart, and motivate my works. May I abound and excel in acts of Your grace so that others acknowledge and glorify You.

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