28 November 2012

Thanksgiving Challenge, Days 27 & 28

Day #27: I'm thankful that God is my Savior.

John Newton, author of Amazing Grace, near the end of his life, was quoted as saying, "My memory is nearly gone; but I remember two things; That I am a great sinner, and that Christ is a great Saviour."

I was saved as a small child. At the time, I knew that I was a sinner: I lied to my parents and was mean to my brother. But the older I get, the more I realize the sinfulness of my heart. Left to myself, I could never live the life of perfection required by God (Romans 3:23). I'm so glad God sent Jesus to live a perfect life and die a substitutionary death so that I can be saved.

Day #28: I'm thankful for God's grace.

Grace at its simplest is God's unmerited favor. I remember doing some street witnessing at the University of Wisconsin near where I went to Bible college. One girl's response after hearing the Gospel was, "Are you telling me that someone could commit murder and ask God to forgive them and they would still go to heaven?" She was incredulous. When we really stop and think about the wonder that is God's grace, it is startling! We don't deserve God's favor. There's nothing we could do that could earn it for us. And yet he freely gives it to us. "But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us" (Romans 5:8).

Grace not only makes us right with God, it keeps us right. We don't have to earn right standing with God, we already have that because when God looks at us, he sees Christ (Romans 3:24; 8:1). And we can't be good Christians in our own power. The Apostle Paul recognized this: "But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me was not without effect. No, I worked harder than all of them—yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me" (1 Corinthians 15:10). We need the grace of God working in us to conform us to the image of Christ. Rather than trying to do right, we should "keep in step with the Spirit" (Galatians 5:25). 

Realizing what God's grace has done and continues to do for me overwhelms me. I am filled with awe and moved to worship. I deserved punishment and death; I got freedom and life. I love the chorus that Chris Tomlin wrote for Amazing Grace.
My chains are gone
I've been set free
My God, my Savior has ransomed me
And like a flood His mercy rains
Unending love, Amazing grace
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