Grace, before. 

2 Timothy 1:9

This passage is shocking to the new Christian who may not realize that Jesus was here at the beginning. What beginning? The beginning before the world was formed. Before the stars were flung against the inky blue blackness of space and time. Before there was form in the void. Before you yourself were corporeal and walked. 

Before. 
In this passage I see God reveal to me the awesome truth of salvation. That we cannot do anything to earn his grace. We could work day in and day out to the glory of his kingdom without ceasing and without rest. We could raise the dead and converse with every being the universe has and share the gospel to all who have ears. We could live faultless from this day forward and cause no one to stumble. We could pastor the pastor and give peace to the troubled everywhere. And yet we still could not earn a place in his palace of many rooms where Jesus might go to prepare for us. Our works are insufficient in his sight. Yet he will welcome us in if we just accept his grace. But I thought he gave his grace to us 2000 years ago. Not before it all began. 

Therein lies the shock. 

What grace could Jesus have given us before the known universe even began? Timothy is saying that grace and purpose are not mutually exclusive. The purpose of God is not to set down commandment after commandment law after law and edict after edict by which he will judge us worthy or wanting. It seems to this uneducated deacon that Gods purpose is to reveal grace to us. Grace to be his representative on earth. Grace to receive his blessings here and now to his glory. Grace that we might do unto others as he has done unto us. Grace to receive the right hand of fellowship in his presence. Grace to enter thou in, as his good and faithful servant. Grace to receive the blood of Christ which we didn’t earn but he gave willingly for our sake. Grace to be in relationship with the eternal and living God. Grace to be ever ready to practice mercy on those who have done wrong and deserve justice, but instead receive…. grace. 

And he planned it in the beginning when the holy trinity were as one in the beginning. Before. 

The Christmas Promise

1 John 4:9

The Christmas season is always hard on people for one reason or another. It may be because we are suffering in poverty. Or perhaps there’s someone you love who longs to see you but isn’t able to for any number of reasons. Or maybe there is someone that loved you, but is no longer of this world. Sometimes plans are made to see one another but circumstances prevent this from happening. Maybe it was a card, or gift that you expected that never came. Maybe someone gave their word to you that this Christmas they wouldn’t let you down… and then did.

 But consider this: what if THE gift had never come? What if THE biggest gift of all was expected and never came? In 1 John 4:9 the Word of God talks of the reason we celebrate Christmas. We celebrate it because of a promise God made in Isaiah 7:14 that a virgin would bear a child and name him Immanuel. But that was years before the birth of Jesus. What would have happened if Gods promise of the coming Immanuel had never come to be? Or put another way: what if the promises of God were no more reliable than those of mortal man? 1 John speaks to me by saying that the promises of God are the only ones I can expect to happen.

But is the promise of God fulfilled because we deserve it? 

Every Christmas we enter the holiday with visions of sugarplums dancing in our childish heads and hopes that a jolly fat guy will drop down our chimney with gifts we deserve because we were good this year. How do we know he’s coming? Because the commercial told me my deservedness should allow me to expect him to come. But if I really examine myself, I know I deserve nothing less than Gods judgement because every day I sin a little. It may be as simple as having negative thoughts of my neighbor who chose not to say good morning or as egregious as stealing supplies from my overseers stores. I may think in the natural I deserve a break today, but I don’t deserve anything of the sort; especially at Christmas.

But God made me…and God made you…and God made our neighbor. God is our Father and because I am His son he loves me too much to treat me like a stranger. 1 John says that I can expect the only son of God to come not because I deserve life, but because my sin deserved death. Oh, but His love… His love was manifest in the person of his son wrapped in human flesh and given as a living sacrifice so that I would not die but live through his grace. Honestly I cannot think of a better gift that I know I can expect. I expect man to make promises all the time. On his whim, circumstance, or choice he may decide to reprioritize and deny his promise to me. But not God and that is why Christmas matters to me. I urge you to think of the promises that God has kept. The promise made that He is there with us in the joy and the pain. He is there in the valley and on the hill. The promise he would never again destroy the world and signed it with a rainbow. The promise that if we choose Him, and reject walking alone, God will walk with us all the days of our life. This is Christmas.

I ask you to remember that no matter whom you meet or what you read that tells you otherwise, you are worth it. You are a child of the living God and deserve his judgement but instead you have been given a Christmas gift called grace. You are loved even when you don’t think you deserve it and even when you don’t feel it. If you weren’t loved, Jesus would never have come. He never would’ve been born and he never would’ve fulfilled his father’s promise. My brothers and sisters, I wish you a very blessed, expectant, and promised Christmas.