1 Corinthians 15:9-11
9 For I am the least of the apostles and do not even deserve to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. 10 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. 11 Whether, then, it is I or they, this is what we preach, and this is what you believed.
In the United Methodist Church, we define grace as “the undeserved, unmerited, and loving action of God in human existence through the ever-present Holy Spirit.” (umc.org). We often think of grace as this thing we receive at particular times of need, or times of discomfort or failure. But grace is coming at us all the time. It surrounds us completely, we cannot escape God’s grace. John Wesley, the founder of the Methodist movement, contributed greatly to the world’s comprehension of grace. He gave us the understanding that while the grace of God is undivided and ever-present, it seems to appear to us in different “forms.” It precedes salvation as “prevenient grace,” continues in “justifying grace,” and is brought to fruition in “sanctifying grace.”
It is, at one time, past, present and future grace. In the next minute, you will receive sustaining grace flowing to you, as you simultaneously accumulate another minute worth of grace in the reservoir of the past. The appropriate response to the grace you experienced in the last minute or last decade is thankfulness. And the proper response to grace promised to you in the next minute or next year, is faith. We should be thankful for the grace received in the last year, and we can be confident in the grace already coming at us in the new year. It never ends.
Paul recognized this grace working in him. He knew it was the power of the Holy Spirit, God’s grace in his life, ever-present, and ever-loving, that made him who he was. And because he recognized that grace, he gave thanks. And because he experienced that grace, he trusted God to keep it coming. Paul was one of the greatest Christ-followers of all time. And he operated solely on the fuel of God’s grace.
How can you come to function solely on the fuel of grace? What would that mean for your daily life?
Dear God, as I stand at the beginning of this new year, I confess my deep need for your presence and guidance as I move into the future. I have hopes, plans, and expectations for the year ahead. But you alone hold the future. It is by your strength and wisdom that I can meet the challenges in the days, weeks, and months to come. So I humbly put my plans and dreams into your hands, and I trust you to go before me and with me into the future. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version ® NIV ®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2014 by Biblica, Inc.®. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.