Genesis 6:8 says that Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord. In other passages we see Abraham and Jacob and also Joseph finding grace in the eyes of the Lord. This Hebrew word is chen (pronounced hain) and means to find favor, good will and acceptance.

That must have felt special to Noah – ridiculed, hated, mocked and dismissed.

That must have felt beautiful to Abraham – out on his own, wandering and alone.

That must have felt comforting to Joseph – angrily thrown out, cast down, forsaken and imprisoned.

Accepted.

We spent some time by the waterfalls in Bass Pro today. The silence around was calming, the waters in the little pond were still and the splashing of the water from the rocks above brought us into a different place and time to just relax and rest. Now read that again… Noah found grace, favor, acceptance in the eyes of the Lord. Can you hear, feel the similarities in those words? It’s like aloe vera on a sunburn or milk after eating hot peppers. Accepting, favor and goodwill bring peace and they bring rest.

Grace says we don’t deserve anything because we are sinful, wicked and messed up, but we get it anyway. It is like that new song by Mercy Me that says, smile like you just go away with something. Why? Because you just got away with something. Receiving favor or goodwill when it is not deserved feels good and takes us by surprise. This past week I studied benevolence and I love it when God just blesses you for no reason. We experienced this when a family friend took the boys out to play Laser Tag. It was just a joy. Then midweek I had some car issues and part of it was my fault for driving over a speed bump a tad bit too fast. The bill was high but we remembered we had a service warranty package which helped significantly. That is grace because I deserved to pay for it. It was accidental, yet I intentionally drove down a street that was not designed for NASCAR. Grace can come in many different forms. We forget how important grace is until we are the ones in need of it.

This week I was visiting with some young kids. One had never heard the whole story of the crucifixion before. She exclaimed after the story – that must have weally, weally hoit (hurt) Jesus. Another asked how they nailed his head to the cross. I guess I haven’t been in little people Sunday school for a while. Their shock at Christ’s pain and compassion for Him brought tears to my eyes. It was like I heard the story for the first time. I sat back and let the other children fill in the rest of the story in their beautiful and sensitive way of telling it, proud that they had parents who had trained them in this precious story. We certainly do not deserve grace after all of that, yet Christ’s love pours out unmerited favor, love and acceptance. Maybe we don’t hear much about that because it follows after understanding how wicked and in need of God’s grace we truly are on an hourly basis!

Many times we read stories and they become so familiar we don’t really hear them. Consider this story – the adulterous woman kneeling with Jesus in the dirt, for example and we picture ourselves as Jesus, extending grace and those awful, judgy people around her barking out condemning words. However, in reality we are not the extender of grace, we are the ones in need of grace. Whether it is adultery, theft, slander, murder or anything else, it is you and me that stand naked, wretched and in need of any small drop of grace from Heaven. We are not the good guys in these stories; we remain the villain until Christ’s grace is poured out. We need that grace because without His salvation and kind favor and goodwill ,

none of us would have the power to get or stay saved. That is what makes it so amazing.

Space limits a full telling of the story here but if you get a chance, rent or buy the movie John Newton. It is the story of the man who wrote the lyrics to Amazing Grace and tells of his slave trading days. If ever we could see someone who was deep in sin change, it was this man. It gives fresh hope to politics and struggles today because someone was praying for this man and when he was saved by grace it affected an entire nation. We see the story, but God remembers those who interceded for him. Now, it’s our turn to pray and weep for grace to affect souls darkened by sin.

Where have you come from? What gallons of grace helped you to get here? Where are you today? What forms of grace are keeping you in place? Where are you going and what grace will need to be poured out so you feel and know God’s love and favor? I am so glad we are saved by grace. I am even more glad that we can be kept by that same grace until the final day of completion. I was shocked recently to realize that I trust the Holy Spirit to save people but not always to complete the work in them. Same Holy Spirit. The leading and gifting’s follow a person until that final day. Grace is God’s unlimited and unmerited favor. He pours it out – for others just like He has done for us.

Matt Maher sings “Lord, I need You” and there is a line that rings in my heart as I write this “where sin runs deep, Your grace is more, where grace is found, is where You are.”

“Where You are, Lord I am free, Holiness is Christ in me.”  

Acceptance, favor, grace and good-will are awesome in a world that condemns, rejects, categorizes and hates. We need Jesus for salvation, sanctification and just daily knowing that we are welcome in His arms and Heaven. The world also needs to see that.

How can we deny others this same grace that is so freely given to us?

RenaeRoche 2018

Ps. Why did Noah light a candle? Because he was in d’ark. Go shine this week!