The people are to go out each day and gather enough for that day. (Exodus 16:4)
The title for today’s word of encouragement might seem a bit strange. What does the phrase “gathering grace” mean, when we know that the grace of God is a gift that He bestows on us freely? But when we think about gathering grace in the context of the Israelites gathering manna in the wilderness for forty years, we will be on the right track.
Here are a few things to remember about the manna:
- God provided it.
- God provided it daily.
- God provided the same amount for all His people.
- God’s people had to gather it for themselves.
Here is a simple way to remember this gift of manna: God placed the manna within easy reach of His people, but He did not put it in their mouths. Yes, the manna was a miraculous example of God’s amazing grace, but the people were not entirely passive recipients of God’s provision. They still had to go out and gather the manna in order to eat.
This is the same way we ought to understand the grace we receive. To gather grace is to appropriate it — to take possession of the provision we have already received by grace through God’s ordained means. Now, I want to make it clear that God, in His sovereign purpose and plan for our lives, does use His Holy Spirit to work in our lives apart from any appropriating activity on our part, most notably in the work of giving us saving faith, which is entirely His work and not ours, as Ephesians 2:8-9 clearly says. Yet God has made it clear that we are to be actively engaged in the means He has made available to us so that we can play our role in rightly responding to His grace.
Here are three means for us to appropriate God’s grace:
PRAYER – When the Bible tells us to “Ask and you shall receive,” it is instructing us that the first step in gathering grace is to ask for it in prayer. “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need” (Hebrews 4:16).
BIBLE INTAKE – Whether reading through the Word or receiving it in the sermons we hear, we gather grace every time we grow more acquainted with Scripture. “For The word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12).
CHURCH ATTENDANCE – Inasmuch as we are all saved individually, we are saved to community, and that community is His church. We know that the church does not save us, but God surely has ordained His family of faith to be used in sanctifying us as we grow and mature in our faith. Therefore, “Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing” (Hebrews 10:25).
Remember, every aspect of the Christian life is lived by grace, through faith. But we are commanded to play our role in gathering grace for the race God has called us to run.
This is the Gospel. This is grace for your race. NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN!