“Amazing grace how sweet the sound that
saved changed a wretch like me” (Andy Lee version.) It’s probably sacrilegious to change that line. Please don’t unsubscribe until you’ve read the whole thing. It is one of my favorite old hymns too. I need God’s grace to save me, but my friends, I’m so desperate for His grace to change me first!
This whole week–really all month, I haven’t liked myself very much. Plagued with selfishness, doubt, fear, and too much of Andy Lee, I… Want. To. Change! I need more than saving. And that’s just the thing. Jesus didn’t die just to save us, He died to change us.
The beloved hymn is scriptural.
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9 not by works, so that no one can boast.Ephesians 2:8-9
But hiding under our English, the word “sozo” means more than save or deliverance. It also means to make whole. Nothing and nobody can make us whole like the Presence of Jesus.
God’s grace weaves throughout the Old Testament to the New. From Genesis to Revelation we watch His grace change people.
Life Changed By Grace
There once was an old man whose life was changed one night on a threshing floor. In the darkness, a much younger woman proposed. That’s the story of Ruth and Boaz. And it’s where we meet them in my Ruth Bible Study on Day 20.
Boaz almost jumped out of his skin when he awoke to a warm body next to his. (She was not at his feet. Here’s my teaching explaining how we know.) He was more than “startled” as most of our Bibles say. He was terrified! But God’s grace was on both him and Ruth. Despite his fear, he would be blessed and so would she.
Likewise, his fear was probably not much different than what Mary experienced when Gabriel popped in to give her a life altering proclamation. Gabriel told her she was favored, graced by God. It was a life-changing grace, not just a “Your life will be wonderful” kind of grace we often assume when we think of God’s favor. This “grace” or “favor” is a verb like “graced” or “favored.” Verbs affect the subject.
In the Greek, Gabriel’s words were “You are charitoo.” The biblical writers only use this word twice in the entire Bible! It’s spoken by Gabriel and a second time in Ephesians as Paul wrote about the grace that makes us daughters and sons of the Living God. (See the scripture on Wednesday below.)
The Grace Process of Holy Whole
As this grace changes us, we experience change at different paces. In eternity, we are already whole, but on planet earth, it’s not so fast. I learned after publishing A Mary Like Me: Flawed Yet Called (where I write a whole chapter on charitoo) that this word is why the Catholic church believes Mary was holy. They contend that God’s charitoo changed her right then and there.
Since learning the significance of Charitoo to the Catholic church, I’ve questioned my teaching on this. But the scriptures in Ephesians proves to me that if we also are charitoo in the Lord yet our change is a daily process, I think Mary’s was too. It’s the case of holy yet not whole, the middle of the now and the not yet. Her life changed with the favor of a child inside her womb–God’s son who would change us all from the inside out.
Come dig deeper with me this week with the Bite of Bread daily Bible reading plan. Here’s the printable I made for you.
Monday: Ruth 3:7
When Boaz had finished his meal and was feeling satisfied, he lay down to sleep at the far end of the grain heap. Then Ruth crept up quietly, uncovered his legs, and lay down beside him. 8 In the middle of the night he was startled and turned over. Now he saw a woman lying beside him! (NET)
Prompt: This was a life changing moment for Boaz. I love how the scripture says that in the middle of the night something woke him up. Actually,, something terrified him, and that made him turn over which is when he found Ruth next to him. I wonder if an angel prodded his side which made him aware someone was next to him. Have you ever awoken terrified at night? What did you do? Did God help you?
Tuesday: Luke 1: 26-29
In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town of Galilee called Nazareth, 27 to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, a descendant of David, and the virgin’s name was Mary. 28 The angel came to her and said, “Greetings, favored (charitoo) one, the Lord is with you!” 29 But she was greatly troubled by his words and began to wonder about the meaning of this greeting.
Prompt: The angel’s proclamation of being favored (charitoo) and blessed troubled Mary. I believe it’s because this isn’t your average blessing. This favor changes you. It’s a verb. It changes your position with God to one of favor, family, and purpose. How would the favor change Mary’s life? Will it be easy? What does this tell us about our favor with God?
Wednesday: Ephesians 1: 3-6
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, 4 even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love 5 he predestined us[a] for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, 6 to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. (ESV)
Prompt: This section of scripture has been one of much theological controversy because of “chose” and “predestined.” But, we know that God wants all men to be saved (1 Timothy 2: 4), so I believe this simply means Jesus was God’s plan all along both for the Gentiles and Jews. God “chose” us from the beginning of time. The underlined blessed was translated from charitoo, and its only used twice in the Bible- once with Mary and the second time referring to us. It is life changing grace. According to this Bite of Bread, how are believers grace-changed?
Thursday: Luke 1: 30
30 So the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor (charis) with God!
Prompt: This favor is pure and simple grace. It’s God’s loving-kindness whether we’ve earned it or not. The Key Word definition states, “In reference to God we might understand this as the absolutely free expression of His loving-kindness to men, finding its only motive in His bounty and benevolence as the Giver” (p. 1686 NIV) I think we’ve been taught that Mary earned God’s favor, but the truth is, none of us can or do. How does this make you feel?
Friday: Luke 1: 37
“For with God nothing [is or ever] shall be impossible.” (AMP)
Prompt: These were Gabriel’s words to Mary regarding Elizabeth’s pregnancy. Its always been a great comfort to me. This week we’ve studied how God’s favor changes things—it changes us. What do you need God to change, but you are having trouble believing that He will or can?
Nothing is Impossible with God’s Grace
How many of us need to hear these words today from Luke 1: 37? Nothing. Is. Impossible. With. God. This is what I wrote in the Ruth Bible Study:
Some of us need to write Luke 1: 37 on twenty index cards and tape them all over our house, in our car, on our desk, and on every mirror. Please hold on to this truth. Ruth and Naomi are perfect examples of the truth and power of Gabriel’s proclamation. Two chapters ago their lives looked hopeless. Now Ruth is proposing to Boaz. God doesn;t always do what we desire or need on our timetable or according to our game plan. But.
Nothing. Is. Impossible. With. God. Please write that down.Book of Ruth Key Word Bible Study, p. 175
What Change are You Giving Up On?
Finally, let’s apply this to us. What change in yourself or your life are you ready to give up on? Maybe you need to hand it over to God. Simply pray for His grace. His charitoo.
Your turn: What’s your thoughts about charitoo? Have you experience the amazing grace that changes? Please encourage others with your story.
See you Wednesday Live!
Have an Amazing Week!