Faith and Grace - David Mitts
The earth was formless and void, and darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was moving over the surface of the waters. Then God said, "Let there be light"; and there was light. (Gen 1:2-3)
The voice of the Lord brings light and order to the surface of the deep and the surface of the waters. Last session we considered that the “waters” which are later termed “living waters” represent the place where our thoughts and God’s thoughts can interface. I suggest that the rivers of living waters that flow out of our inner man are the thoughts of God that bring life to our reality. Yeshua declared these both at the Feast of Tabernacles, the last day, the Day of outpouring, Hoshana Rabbah and the Samaritan well of Jacob where the voice of the deceiver was replaced by the voice of God, “living waters”.
Let’s take a minute and look at Hoshana Rabah and the significance of Yeshua’s declaration.
The last day of Succoth, Hoshana Rabah, is the day when the last repentance is possible in Jewish though before final judgment is sealed. On this day, like at Jericho, there is a 7-fold march with shofar blasts, carrying the lulav and the etrog, which are the four symbols of unity.
'Now on the first day you shall take for yourselves the foliage of beautiful trees, palm branches and boughs of leafy trees and willows of the brook, and you shall rejoice before the LORD your God for seven days. (Lev 23:40)
These 4 symbols are waved in 6 directions NSEW, up and down representing the fullness of time and space. The purpose is said to bring the blessing of God in the form of rain, the latter rains.
Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brothers to dwell together in unity! It is like the precious oil upon the head, coming down upon the beard, Even Aaron's beard, Coming down upon the edge of his robes. It is like the dew of Hermon Coming down upon the mountains of Zion; For there the LORD commanded the blessing—life forever. (Psalms 133:1-3)
Dwelling together in unity is the picture of Succoth. Eternal life and living water are ways of expressing the flow of God’s voice over the face of the waters and the face of the deep. Each Feast of the Lord activates a quality of the Kingdom, Succoth is about dwelling in unity, what we call community!
On this day, where unity is being declared as the key condition for the blessing, the rains to fall, Yeshua declares that in Him are living waters, of the blessing of eternal life, in His voice.
Revisit Isaiah 55 and it comes together beautifully.
"Ho! Every one who thirsts, come to the waters; And you who have no money come, buy and eat. Come, buy wine and milk Without money and without cost. "Why do you spend money for what is not bread, And your wages for what does not satisfy? Listen carefully to Me, and eat what is good, And delight yourself in abundance. "Incline your ear and come to Me. Listen, that you may live; And I will make an everlasting covenant with you, according to the faithful mercies shown to David. "Behold, I have made him a witness to the peoples, A leader and commander for the peoples. "Behold, you will call a nation you do not know, And a nation which knows you not will run to you, Because of the LORD your God, even the Holy One of Israel; For He has glorified you." Seek the LORD while He may be found; Call upon Him while He is near. Let the wicked forsake his way and the unrighteous man his thoughts; And let him return to the LORD, And He will have compassion on him, And to our God, For He will abundantly pardon. "For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways," declares the LORD. "For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways And My thoughts than your thoughts. "For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven, And do not return there without watering the earth And making it bear and sprout, And furnishing seed to the sower and bread to the eater; So will My word be which goes forth from My mouth; It will not return to Me empty, Without accomplishing what I desire, And without succeeding in the matter for which I sent it. "For you will go out with joy And be led forth with peace; The mountains and the hills will break forth into shouts of joy before you, And all the trees of the field will clap their hands. "Instead of the thorn bush the cypress will come up, And instead of the nettle the myrtle will come up, And it will be a memorial to the LORD, For an everlasting sign which will not be cut off."(Isa 55:1-13)
I know this is long scripture verse and really deserves in-depth revelation, which we will do. For now, let’s just identify the theme of God’s voice, the waters, and the blessing. This is the picture of tabernacles, the living water.
OK. So, to recap, compassion unlocks faith. Unity unlocks faith. Faith is the conversation of our heart that operates our life. We access our faith by what we do. Our actions are the “life” of our faith, of the conversation of our heart. The conversation, the word that becomes flesh and dwells among us, is either the conversation of the Father who loves us and died for us, or it is the conversation of chaos, tohu vebohu, the conversation of judgments and division and disunity. One conversation brings light and order, love expressed as God’s best for us and the other brings death, destruction and loss.
This is summarized by Yeshua in John 10:10:
"The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. (Joh 10:10)
Mostly, we have thought of grace as God’s action on our behalf that is unmerited on our part by our works. We don’t earn grace. We receive by it.
But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places, in Christ Jesus, in order that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, that no one should boast. (Eph 2:4-9)
So, grace is thought of as a description of what God has done for us. In that sense grace is like goodness. It is a description of a characteristic of God. God is gracious.
Then the LORD passed by in front of him and proclaimed, "The LORD, the LORD God, compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in lovingkindness and truth; who keeps lovingkindness for thousands, who forgives iniquity, transgression and sin; yet He will by no means leave the guilty unpunished, visiting the iniquity of fathers on the children and on the grandchildren to the third and fourth generations." (Exo 34:6-7)
In this sense, “grace” is a property of the glory of God, or of His character. While this is certainly true, and it is certainly true that our salvation is due to that characteristic quality. Grace is more than a quality of God’s nature. It is also the power to activate God’s plan and thoughts in our lives.
What do I mean by that? Ephesians 2:9 tells us that we are saved by grace through faith. Remembering that faith isn’t some mystical ability, but the inner conversation that undergirds and frames our lives, then if grace interacts with faith to produce salvation, which is not just an escape from hell and judgment but the alignment with the kingdom of God’s love, then what exactly is grace?
The Hebrew word for grace is “chen”. 2 characters, the Chet and the Nun. The Chet is the character picture of a fence or a protective guard around something. It is the wall that protects the seed. The word picture is given in the sense of a company of tents that surround the encampment. Grace is the power of strategy that protects the seed.
A wall is a strategy. Grace is not about the wall itself, but the strategy behind the wall. So, what exactly is grace? How does it impact our lives? Most importantly, how do we walk in grace?
The strategy of grace.
Grace is primarily an attitude of the heart. As such, grace is anchored by love. Love is the safety net for grace to operate.
When we love someone, we are gracious towards them. Take for example a mother or father’s love for a newborn. Their love for their newborn child generates a complete atmosphere of grace. Truly the child can do no wrong. In fact, the atmosphere of grace goes beyond the behavior of the newborn and takes a protective position towards their infant child.
Not only can their little one “do no wrong”, the parents will defend them against outsider’s performance expectations.
This is what grace looks like. It not only loves us unconditionally, non-judgmentally, but it also takes a proactive position relative to our welfare and the perceptions of others towards us. In this way, grace crosses over into favor. I love the Hebrew expression for favor: he or she found favor in the eyes of the one who expresses their love and acceptance. Favor is the outward manifestation of inward quality of grace.
In this aspect grace becomes a value proposition. The voice of grace declares that you are of such value to me that I will protect, defend and honor you in any way I can. In this way, grace indicates appreciation for the value that someone has in the eyes of another.
This brings to my jukebox memory, the song lyric, “I only have eyes for you”. Love is seen in our eyes, how we look at one another. This is the fountain that serves us the wellspring of grace. Love is a choice. It is unlocked in our lives by how we consider another and how they consider us. We think of the word “consider” as a mental exercise, but it truly is an attitude of the heart. When we open our heart, we have considered another and released love which then releases grace.
The opposite of grace is when we have judged another which closes the heart and releases condemnation both on them and on us. Truly all judgment is self-judgment. It either is by the causal relationship that when you judge another, you in turn are judged. Or, it is because you have judged yourself that you judge another in the same area that you have self-condemnation. From either perspective judgments, the need to protect ourselves by declaring things or people to right or wrong precludes grace from flowing in our lives.
You see when we are looking to transform the faith that operates our lives, the inner conversation that defines and controls how we see life and what we live because of that perception, we need grace to transform. It is by grace that we are saved. In order to be in grace, we must see with the eyes of God which are the eyes of love.
Activation: Build your grace through gratitude. Open your eyes towards the people and blessings in your life. Think of the lovely things, the praiseworthy things about them. Decide on an act that you do to recover their specialness to you. Choose to open your eyes to love.