Dear Loved One,
Did you make one? Did you do what so many do as a new year approaches? Many of us spend a little time of reflection as a year ends, along with a time of goal-setting or “resolution-making” for the year ahead. During this time, it is natural to feel both fulfilled about the previous year’s accomplishments, and frustrated about the things that may linger or be unfinished.
It’s the unfinished things that often bring discouragement to us as we set new goals for the New Year. And as I have been thinking about this, the Lord has stirred a word in my heart that I would like to share with you and speak over you as a blessing on your new year.
That word is “grace.” But, before I share how this often misunderstood word can greatly impact you this year, I would like to ask you a question . . .
How do you define grace?
Most of us have had the word “grace” pretty well incorporated into our lives, usually beginning with our salvation experience. It is important to understand that our salvation really is an ongoing experience, though. It’s an ongoing process, whereas the day we were born again is a specific point in our personal history.
A verse often used to define grace is Ephesians 2:8-10, “For by grace are you saved through faith and not of yourselves it is the gift of God not of works lest any man should boast, for we are his workmanship created in Christ Jesus unto good works which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.” (NKJV)
This verse is a great reference for encouraging people with the biblical fact that you can’t earn your salvation, and to show people how we receive God’s unmerited favor when we are born again.
God’s unmerited favor; that’s the definition I had for the grace of God most of my life. Of course, it is not an inaccurate definition, but it is not a complete definition, either.
God’s grace is an eternal proposition. It’s not just an introductory ticket bought by the blood of Jesus, or a kind of badge that allows backstage access to Heaven. God’s grace has much more to it than that.
I was in college when I heard a second definition of “grace.” It was spoken by a guest speaker in a chapel service, and I didn’t really know what to do with this definition. I never forgot it, but it took me several years to understand it. The speaker said “Grace is the operational power of God.”
The operational power of God—I heard in my spirit a kind of a rumble saying, “Hear that, hear that.” And the reason I knew I needed it was because I sensed there was a lot more to grace than I knew or had been trained to believe.
Discovering the Fullness of God’s Grace
A notable episode in the Old Testament beautifully illustrates this broadened definition of grace. The prophet Zechariah was told to go to Zerubbabel with a word from the Lord. Zerubbabel was the man commissioned by the Lord and freed by Cyrus, the King of Persia, to lead the first exiles back from captivity in Babylon to Israel.
As soon as they had managed to set up basic living arrangements, their first project was to begin re-building the Temple in the rubble of Jerusalem. In the midst of that rubble, a temple was being built to praise the Lord. But it did not come about without considerable struggle that required both great faith and persistence from the people.
In the midst of this struggle, Zechariah was told by the Lord to go to Zerubbabel and say, “This is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel: ‘Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,’ says the Lord of hosts. ‘Who are you, O great mountain? Before Zerubbabel you shall become a plain! And he shall bring forth the capstone with shouts of “Grace, grace to it!”’” (Zechariah 4:6-7 NKJV)
A broadened definition of God’s grace becomes functional in this passage and gives a directive, a point of action, that you and I can respond to. A way that we can see the grace of God employed in an expanded way in our own lives, so that observing this definition of the grace of God is not just a matter of learning another, broader meaning. It’s a matter of discovering the fullness of the grace of God, so we can function in and do something with God’s grace.
Overcoming by God’s Spirit
The people made a lot of progress re-building the Temple, but in the middle of this God-appointed project, they became discouraged and defeated. They were being mocked by those around them. They were suffering attacks in the spiritual realm and facing a political squeeze being put on them. In the midst of this, all work came to a complete stop.
When the Lord saw this, He sent a word through the prophet Zechariah to Zerubbabel, the people’s leader, to stir them up to finish the work they had begun.
The Word of the Lord to Zerubbabel in Zechariah 4:6-7 was, in essence, “This project will be completed. It will overcome political opposition and the demoralizing effects of cynical remarks. This project will overcome feelings of defeat and discouragement. Nothing is going to ultimately thwart its completion. But, it will not happen by human might or power. It will only happen by my Spirit.”
The Lord promised to see the job through to completion, and that the distress that had burdened the people would not defeat them any longer. The Lord also promised that whatever mountain, or obstacle, that stood before them would be completely leveled, and that Zerubbabel would bring forth the capstone.
Shouting “Grace!” to the Struggle
Now here is where Zerubbabel’s involvement comes in. The Word of the Lord comes by the prophet Zechariah to Zerubbabel saying the way the project is going to be done, and the capstone brought forth, was by Zerubbabel shouting “Grace, grace” to it.
Let’s talk about the capstone for a moment, because that helps us understand the perspective of this prophecy. The capstone was a pre-carved piece that was placed at the top of the building when it was completed.
The Word of the Lord to Zerubbabel was affirming the project would be “capped off.” The Lord was promising there would be a time for rejoicing. Even though the building was only partially completed at the time, it would be fully completed in God’s time. And the Lord said the way the completion was going to come about was Zerubbabel calling it into place by shouting grace, grace unto it!
Seeing the Mountain Become a Plain Before You
The mountain that confronted Zerubbabel and the people was the frustration of an uncompleted project, and I doubt that any of us, at one point or another, have not been irritated or frustrated over things that are just not being finished up. Things that remain in the abstract can cause a very real kind of low grade ache, that many of us have carried at different times in our lives.
As we think about building the Temple of our lives, what guarantee is there that the project will be completed? When there has been very little, or possibly no progress at all, how do we turn the corner? Zerubbabel was at that point, and that’s when the Lord’s word came to him.
I believe that same word is for us today, Loved One. That area of your life, where it just doesn’t seem to be happening, is where the Lord is saying, “I’m going to build the temple, because you are the temple of the Holy Spirit.”
I believe the Lord is saying to us, “I will rebuild your life, and I’m going to bring you to completion.” But, it won’t be by human might or the zeal of our own energy. The zeal of the Lord of Hosts is what will complete this work.
Now we must do our part in this, and the Lord says our part is to call for the release of the operational power of His Spirit. The way you do that is to stand before that unfinished area of your life or the mountain that stands in your way and shout “Grace, grace unto it!”
What do you need to shout “Grace, grace!” to in this New Year?
I would like to ask you to prayerfully seek the Lord and determine what mountains have risen and stand against you as obstacles. What is unfinished in the temple of your life? After you have identified these things, begin to speak to them, whatever they are, with shouts of “Grace, grace!” And do not be afraid to boldly address them!
Shouting grace doesn’t require screaming, but it should be a bold shout, a shout of triumph. It is shouting the operational power of God to a situation and believing for victory.
I believe 2017 will be a year of breakthrough for you. As you shout “Grace, grace!” to the mountain of your life, you will see the fullness of God’s grace work in you and through you!
Confident of His Grace,
P.S. We’ve hand-picked six special messages that I believe will help you more fully explore God’s mighty and wonderful Grace. Take a look at the information below for more information on how you can receive this helpful 6-CD resource.
God wants to work with you in ever-increasing dimensions of fullness and grace, and Pastor Robert Morris joins with Pastor Jack to reveal the full spectrum of blessing that God’s grace holds for you. In this 6-CD set, you’ll discover the complete power that God’s grace brings and learn how to press in and receive an outpouring of God’s grace into your everyday challenges from the Holy Spirit. Each message will help you inject God’s wisdom into your choices, His power into your witness and His purity into your living.
Messages included: The Purpose of the Promise, Grace for Righteousness, The Fire in the Latter Rain, Grace at Work, Shouting “Grace!” to It, and Amazing Immutability.Click here to download this series for a gift of $40 or more Click here to receive this 6-CD set for a gift of $40 or more