MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

November 25, 2013

Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!

By Barrett Vanlandingham
Fort Faith

— I guess there’s a good reason why I have a hard time teaching lessons about God’s grace even though we are all dependent on it whether we know it or fully understand it.

The apostle Paul talks about grace and its connection to the good news of Jesus Christ and what He has done for us. But ultimately, Paul says in 2 Corinthians 9:15 “Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!”

During this month of remembering to give thanks for so many things, oddly enough, the one thing we cannot adequately describe is the very thing for which we should be most grateful, grace. Songwriters for thousands of years have tried to craft and string together words, phrases, sentences, and notes in such a way to help worshippers reflect and celebrate our bountiful blessings and our Creator who made them.  

One song written by Johnson Oatman in 1897 is titled “When Upon Life’s Billows.” It describes the burdens we bear and the challenges we face in contrast to the thankfulness and joy a person should feel when you “count your many blessings, (and) see what God hath done.”

Another of my favorites was written by Dennis Jernigan in 1990 titled “Thank You, Lord!” The lyrics of this song are simple and powerful as they say, “For all that you’ve done I will thank You, For all that You’re going to do. For all that You’ve promised, and all that You are is all that has carried me through, Jesus I thank You. And I thank You, thank You, Lord. And I thank You, thank You, Lord! Thank You for loving and setting me free, Thank You for giving your life just for me. How I thank You. Jesus I thank You, gratefully thank You. Thank You.”

The task of making clear the meaning of grace and just how thankful we should be for grace is something many have tried. But just as with life itself, the important thing is not whether we write the perfect song, or live the perfect life. That is just not going to happen this side of heaven, although, in speaking about grace, Paul says that we are to not use grace basically as a convenient excuse for disobedience and choosing to sin (ref: Romans 6:1). Jesus even said that he will reward each person for what he has done (ref: Matthew 16:27).

God knows our heart. God knows the challenges we face. After all, Jesus came to earth partly to experience them first hand so he could understand why we have such a hard time getting it right (ref: Hebrews 4:15-16). Bottom line? He knew we could not do enough things right to be in the presence of God one day. And so Jesus, the perfect sacrifice, died for us, giving us a road map to follow, and extending grace to all of us who are undeserving of eternal life in heaven, and that would be all of us.  Have a great week!

Reach Barrett Vanlandingham at the Fort Gibson Church of Christ at (918) 478-2222 or barrett@ftgcc.org.