Aloha Friday Message – April 8, 2016 – An Ocean of Grace

1615AFC040616 – An Ocean of Grace  –  #9: Series on Virtue and Sin

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John 1:1616 From his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace.

Colossians 1:19-2019 For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, 20 and through him God was pleased to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, by making peace through the blood of his cross.

1 Peter 4:7-11The end of all things is near; therefore be serious and discipline yourselves for the sake of your prayers. Above all, maintain constant love for one another, for love covers a multitude of sins. Be hospitable to one another without complaining. 10 Like good stewards of the manifold grace of God, serve one another with whatever gift each of you has received. 11 Whoever speaks must do so as one speaking the very words of God; whoever serves must do so with the strength that God supplies, so that God may be glorified in all things through Jesus Christ. To him belong the glory and the power forever and ever. Amen.

Happy Aloha Friday, Belovéd. I didn’t realize it until Tuesday, April 5, but this is #9 in the series on Virtue and Sin. I thought #8 was the recap of the series, but then on Tuesday the passage from 1 Peter jumped into the mix, and I realized there is more to say in this series.

Last week we looked at the concepts of Virtue and Sin and saw that we can choose to open the door of our heart to let in Jesus or a demon. All of us have experienced what happens when we open that door and just leave Jesus standing there while Satan’s angels bound into our lives and take over everything. We all know life is better when it is Jesus who comes in because, when we choose him, he restores our relationship with Our Father and then Peace reigns in our hearts. How is it that we make that poor choice so often? What are we missing in our decision-making process as we open our hearts – and minds – to that knock on the door? How can we ensure that we are speaking and living “as one speaking the very words of God; whoever serves must do so with the strength that God supplies, so that God may be glorified in all things through Jesus Christ,” as Peter encouraged us? Peter says that we are to “maintain constant love for one another, for love covers a multitude of sins.” How can we be that constant in our love to others? I think the answer is in that verse from John, “grace upon grace.”

In the past when I read that phrase, I thought it meant one grace piled on another grace – like a wall made of bricks – a fortress of grace built with succeeding layers of God’s gifts. Then I actually looked at the language behind that verse and discovered I had the wrong idea. The Greek word used for “upon” is the preposition ἐπί (epi) {ep-ee’}, but this verse says in Greek χάριν ἀντὶ χάριτος. John did not say χάριν ἐπὶ χάριτι; he said χάριν ἀντὶ χάριτος. That word in bold letters, ἀντὶ, is another familiar preposition anti – (anti) {an-tee’}. Here is how it is defined at Bible Hub: Short Definition: instead of, for; Full Definition: (a) instead of, in return for, over against, opposite, in exchange for, as a substitute for, (b) on my behalf, (c) wherefore, because. (d) antí (a preposition) – properly, opposite, corresponding to, off-setting (over-against); (figuratively) “in place of,” i.e. that substitutes (serves as an equivalent, what is proportional). What difference does that make, after all, if grace is given in exchange for grace rather than on top of grace? How about if it signifies grace that serves as an equivalent to the Grace of God and that Grace is within us? Here is the image I see when today I look at that door to my heart and see Jesus standing there with a demon lurking nearby:

It depends on the furnishings in the room(s) in my heart. If the interior of my heart is filled with the filth from the demons I let in before today, then if and when I invite Jesus in, “the place is a mess.” Jesus of course has the power to merely speak a word of forgiveness and make that mess go away, but I can refuse to hear that word; I can refuse to clean up my mess – a mess that is perfectly inviting for that demon and its buddies. Conversely, if the interior of my heart is decorated with Love and Grace, somehow it seems easier to invite Jesus in and leave the Devil to lurk the day away – outside! Now, how to I get that place filled with Grace and Love?

OceanOfGraceI have an ocean of Grace surrounding and filling me. Oh! And now I know why I got up in the middle of the night a couple of weeks ago and wrote down this! “I have immersed my life in His Heart so that my heart can be entirely filled with Him.” Scroll up and look at that passage from Colossians. “For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell …” Jesus is the Fullness of God’s Immeasurable Grace, so when I open the door, I get the WHOLENESS OF God! Therefore I am reconciled with him as part of “all things, whether on earth or in heaven, by making peace through the blood of his cross.” Now that will change the interior of our hearts by placing Grace upon Grace! I have the Grace of choice to open that door and let Jesus in, and when I do, I receive the Fullness of Grace upon that Grace of choice. Now Peter came to know that kind of Grace when he chose to repent and to seek forgiveness. You will remember Jesus had told him in Matthew 16:1818 And I tell you, you are Peter [Petros], and on – ἐπί (epi) {ep-ee’} – this rock [petra] I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it. Peter was to be the foundation upon which the Church was built, and not the corresponding Grace by which it was built.

As all of this slowly dawned on me, I recalled something I got from one of my favorite Radio Evangelists, Steve Brown at Keylife. It’s something I’ve sent out before – with Steve’s permission – and I want to share it with you again.

Once there was a fish who lived in the great ocean and, because the water was transparent and always conveniently got out of the way of his nose when moved along, he didn’t know he was in the ocean. Well, one day the fish did a very dangerous thing. He began to think: “Surely I am a most remarkable being since I can move around like this in the middle of empty space.” Then the fish became confused because of thinking about moving and swimming, and he suddenly had an anxiety attack and thought he had forgotten how to move about.

At that moment he looked down and saw the yawning chasm of the ocean depths, and he was terrified that he would drop. Then he thought: “If I could catch hold of my tail in my mouth, I could hold myself up.” and so he curled himself up and snapped at his tail. Unfortunately, his spine was not quite supple enough so he missed. As he went on trying to catch hold of his tail, the yawning black abyss below became ever more terrible, and he was brought to the edge of a total nervous breakdown. The fish was about to give up when the ocean, which had been watching with mixed feelings of pity and amusement, said, “What are you doing?”

“Oh,” said the fish, “I’m terrified of falling into the deep dark abyss, and I’m trying to catch hold of my tail in my mouth to hold myself up.”

So the ocean said, “Well, you’ve been trying that for a long time now, and still you have not fallen down. How come?”

“Oh, of course, I haven’t fallen down yet,” said the fish, “because … Well, because I’m swimming!

“Well,” came the reply, “I am the Great Ocean where you swim, and I have given all of myself to you in which to swim, and I support you all the time you swim, but here you are, instead of exploring the length, breath, depth and height of my expanse, you have been wasting your time pursuing you own end.”

From then on, the fish put his own end behind him where it belonged … And set out to explore the ocean.

(Deep and heartfelt thanks to Dr. Steve Brown for originally sharing this with me so long ago!)

The love of God is like the ocean, you can see its beginnings but not its end. The Grace of God is the ocean of His Love. He is the source of the Ocean of Grace. When you acknowledge Him, it is as if you are submersed in a vast ocean being fed by a fountain of purest water. You are standing in that fountain in the center of the center of the Crystal Sea drinking from a crystal cup of the Endless Grace and Love, and this is available to every human soul alive today in Heaven and on Earth who chooses to stand in the Grace of God .  This is “so that God may be glorified in all things through Jesus Christ. To him belong the glory and the power forever and ever. Amen.” And that’s the TRUTH!

So how do we align ourselves with 1 Peter 4:7-11? Try these:

Sow generously – 2 Corinthians 9:6-15

Matthew 20:26-2826 It will not be so among you; but whoever wishes to be great among you must be your servant, 27 and whoever wishes to be first among you must be your slave; 28 just as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many.”

Luke 11:1111 Is there anyone among you who, if your child asks for a fish, will give a snake instead of a fish?

Romans 12:1717 Do not repay anyone evil for evil, but take thought for what is noble in the sight of all.

Unless otherwise indicated, all scripture passages are from the New Revised Standard Version Catholic Edition (NRSVCE) New Revised Standard Version Bible: Catholic Edition, copyright © 1989, 1993 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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Aloha Friday Messages by Charles O. Todd, III is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License

Biblical languages inserts from Bible Hub (Bible Hub: Search, Read, Study the Bible in Many Languages) Visit at http://biblehub.com

 

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About Chick Todd

American Roman Catholic reared as a "Baptiterian" in Denver Colorado.

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