An Act of Grace Devotion
Faith United Methodist Church, February 2013
“However, I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace.” Acts 20:24
In the process of exploring and gathering resources for our 2013 congregational theme Act of Grace, I came across a devotion book entitled Faces of Grace which captured my attention. The book is a 30 day devotional based on the inspiring movie, The Grace Card. (A copy is available in our church library if you’d like to learn more about this movie.)
Consider for a moment the phrase ‘faces of grace’. When you attempt to picture the face of grace what do you see? The best example of the face of grace is obviously Jesus Christ. Luke 19:10, “for the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost” reminds us of Jesus’ mission. Jesus’ character and actions are a reflection of his desire to live out that mission. Isaiah 35:10 is one description of what the face of grace may look like; an exuberant response by those who have experienced God’s saving grace. “Those who have been ransomed by the Lord will return. They will enter Jerusalem singing, crowned with everlasting joy. Sorrow and mourning will disappear, and they will be filled with joy and gladness.”
While Jesus is most definitely the face of grace, He doesn’t leave us to only experience grace through him. Jesus’ calls us to follow in his footsteps, live by His example and be the face of grace to others. Every day we encounter people who need to know and experience the love and grace of Christ. Sometimes that may be those closest to us-our families, friends, and co-workers. Sometimes it is a stranger we encounter as we go about our daily tasks. Every day we have the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of everyone we come in contact with. Every day we have the opportunity to build relationships, practice radical hospitality, be compassionate towards others, bring healing to the wounded hearts of those who have been beaten up by life, and profoundly impact the world by giving and receiving God’s grace. Every day we can choose to be the face of grace!
In the book, Faces of Grace, author and pastor Lynn Holmes writes:
“Grace is a simple gift that can be difficult to find…and even more challenging to grasp. Here are just a few examples of what grace is:
- God giving us what we need, not what we deserve
- Treating someone with kindness and compassion instead of being critical and judgmental
- Welcoming rather than avoiding
- Seeing the potential in a person rather than seeing their flaws and mistakes
- Practicing patience…especially with loved ones
- Understanding that loving people where they’re at often involves risk
- Allowing the love of God to shape you
- The love and forgiveness Jesus Christ offers us on the Cross”
When you hear the words faces of grace what comes to your mind? Who do you picture as the face of grace? Would your family or co-workers consider you to be the face of grace in their lives? As followers of Christ, we should be the face of grace everywhere we go and in everything we do. It’s a challenge and a high calling to strive to live this out. Fortunately, the Bible is full of examples we can turn to for encouragement. Paul’s writings are markedly encouraging. We can be inspired by Paul’s motivation in Acts 20:24 as he reminds us that our aim should be to complete the task that Jesus has given us – the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace! So be the face of grace today!
Questions for Reflection and Sharing:– In what ways have you experienced the face of grace in your life? – In what ways have you witnessed the face of grace in our church? Our community? – In what ways are you the face of grace? In your family? Our church? Our community? – In what way does your ministry team testify to the good news of God’s grace in our world? – In what ways is Faith United Methodist Church growing to become a place of grace?
Prayer Focus: Pray for our congregation to be the face of grace in our families, church, community, and world.
Prayer: Loving God, thank you for your amazing gift of love and grace. We want the people around us to experience that same love and grace so we ask you to help us to remember to be the face of grace wherever we go and in everything we do. Help us to be committed to the task of testifying to the good news of your grace and lead and guide us to make a difference in the world by giving and receiving Your grace. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.A Prayer of John Wesley: “O that we may all receive of Christ’s fullness, grace upon grace; grace to pardon our sins, and subdue our iniquities; to justify our persons and to sanctify our souls; and to complete that holy change, that renewal of our hearts, whereby we may be transformed into that blessed image wherein thou didst create us.”
Means of Grace Challenge:
Worship & Study: Commit to regular worship attendance and participation in a small group/Sunday school class and Faith UMC’s Ash Wednesday and Lent experiences.
Act of Grace: Offer a kind word to a stranger.Sources: Faces of Grace, GraceWorks Pictures LLC and Calvary Pictures, 2011 http://www.thegracecardmovie.com