Monday, March 23, 2015

extravagant grace...

artwork by Cherry Ashen Fargo
When I saw this beautiful work of art, Extravagant Grace, by Cherry Ashen Fargo, it took me back to a recent Chris Tomlin concert where we heard a short message by pastor Louie Giglio on the parable about our Heavenly Father found in Luke 15. He explained that the word “prodigal” means “extravagant, lavish,” although the son was extravagant in his lifestyle, our Heavenly Father portrayed in this parable was also extravagant in his grace, love, mercy, and forgiveness.

Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly. Matthew 11:28-30 The Message


Your love is extravagant, Your friendship, so intimate, I find I’m moving to the rhythms of Your grace, Your fragrance is intoxicating in our secret place, Your love is extravagant, Spread wide in the arms of Christ is the love that covers sin, No greater love have I ever known, You considered me a friend, capture my heart again...

What greater example of God’s extravagant grace is there than the thief on the cross who says to Jesus, “Remember me when you come into your kingdom” (Luke 23:42).  And Jesus said to him, “I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise” (Luke 23:43). Christ has great joy in redeeming sinners…“I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise.” A word study reveals that the phrase that’s translated, “I tell you the truth,” comes from the single word, “Amen.”

When the thief prays, “Remember me when you come into your kingdom,” Jesus replies, “Amen, today you will be with me in paradise!”  He says, “Amen!” to the prayer of faith.  This is why He came.  This is why He is suffering. Christ says, “Amen” to the simplest faith.

How is God’s extravagant grace made known to us and lavished upon us?  In the finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross. One of the thieves has a change of heart, and right there on the cross Christ saves him. Charles Spurgeon says, "This man was our Lord’s last companion on earth and His first companion in heaven. He says to him, “Today you will be with me in paradise.  I’m going to make you my friend.”  Spurgeon pictures Christ entering the glory of heaven, “Who is this that enters the pearly gate at the same moment as the King of glory? Who is this favored companion of the Redeemer? Is it some honored martyr? Is it a faithful apostle? Is it a patriarch like Abraham or a prince like David? It is none of these. Behold, and be amazed at sovereign grace…” Extravagant grace!

Christ saves by grace, through faith and without works. The story of the thief on the cross makes God’s extravagant grace in salvation crystal clear—this man had no works to offer, before or after his salvation. Commentator A. W. Pink asks, “What could the thief do? He could not walk in the paths of righteousness for there was a nail through either foot. He could not perform any good works for there was a nail through either hand. He could not turn over a new leaf and live a better life for he was dying.” The wonderful truth is that God saves by His extravagant grace, through faith and without works.

A man is not justified by observing the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ. Galatians 2:16

He saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. Titus 3:5

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith–and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God–not by works, so that no one can boast. Ephesians 2:8-9

The gift of assurance flows from Christ saving us by His extravagant grace, through faith and without works. If our works were in any way involved in our gaining entrance into heaven, assurance would be impossible. We could never know if we had done enough. His work is finished. It’s perfect and complete.

Jesus says, “I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise” (Luke 23:43). Christ is the Lord of paradise. He holds its keys. There can be no higher assurance than His promise.This man is a criminal and he’s on a cross. He’s absolutely hopeless and powerless, and in the middle of all this pain and guilt, Christ says to him, “You will be with me in paradise, today!”  Spurgeon says, "This man had breakfast with the devil, met Christ before noon, and then had supper in paradise."

Death does not lead to a long period of unconsciousness. For a Christian believer, death is an immediate translation into the joys of life at the right hand of God. "To be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord...Today you will be with me in paradise."

Heaven is much nearer than we think. I love the way C. S. Lewis pictures that in the Narnia novels, where the children slip into a glorious world that is just on the other side of the wardrobe. Our life is like a mist, like steam or a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Everything that’s burdening us and consuming us now is like breath on a window on a cold day. Paradise is heaven and the greatest joy of heaven is the presence of Jesus. "The lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd. He will lead them to springs of living water" (Revelation 7:17). Christ Himself will lead us into all the joys of heaven. To those who die, Christ says, “You will be with me,” and to those who live, Christ says, “I will be with you. I’ll never leave you, I’ll never forsake you."

If you would like to purchase the beautiful Extravagant Grace mixed media pictured above by artist Cherry Ashen Fargo, here is the link where a digital download can be purchased for just $8. You can also connect with artist Cherry Ashen Fargo’s etsy website and Facebook page.

Weekly Link-Ups

43 comments:

  1. Beautiful post! The whole gift of grace renews my soul each time I remember that this gift is mine everyday from God with no strings attached. He asked that we love and trust and is honored when we do both but also receives us back home when we mess up. What a story of redemption! I am loving the Message version of Matthew 11 especially the unforced rhythms of grace. Blessed by your post today!

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    1. Thank you so much, Mary. I so agree with you. The Message phrase, "unforced rhythms of grace," always brings to my heart the beautiful hymn "Your Love is Extravagant," so I knew I had to include the link to that song here :)

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    2. Thankful you linked up this beautiful post at The Weekend Brew.

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  2. I just love the idea of living into the "unforced rhythms of grace." Sounds so peaceful and easy, yet can take all we have to surrender to it. As we walk through Holy Week next week, I want to remember that it's all about extravagant grace God is giving us; giving His only son so we might have eternal life in Him.

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    1. Thank you, Kathryn, amen! I so agree with you ❤️

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  3. Beautiful thoughts and phrases for me to carry in my spirit today...thank you.

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    1. Love that image, Angela, "carry in my spirit"...amen ❤️❤️

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  4. Beth I'm re-reading this passage from Matt.11 in the message. I love it! "walk with Me and work with Me - I'll show you how to do it". I need that in my life. Thank-you

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    1. Thank you, Stacy, I so agree with you ❤️

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  5. I love God's extravagant grace! thank you for brining new meaning to this phrase :).

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    1. Thank you for taking time to leave such an encouraging comment ❤️

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  6. I am a huge Narnia fan! My students think I'm a little overboard:) God is extravagant. Yes, He is! Love this word today.

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    1. Thank you, Kristine, I so agree with you! Thanks for stopping by ❤️

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  7. Beth, this is so beautiful--the photo of the artwork and your life-giving words....something that's been on my heart lately, too--God's extravagant grace.
    Thank you for linking up at Small Wonder this week.

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    1. Jody, thank you so much for your encouraging comments ❤️

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  8. Thank God for His extravagant grace. I love this post Beth.
    Keep well and remain Blessed

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  9. This is a beautiful message and beautifully written. Thank you. Visiting from Holley Gerth's link up.

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    1. Nicole, thank you so much for stopping by from Holley's Coffee For Your Heart ❤️

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  10. I love Louie. He sure does know how to deliver a message and get people fired up for The Lord. I love your message here too. Thank you for visiting my blog, it's nice to meet you. Love this art work. Mixed media, right?

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    1. Kim, thank you so much for your encouraging comments! Yes, the beautiful artwork is mixed media by artist Cherry Ashen Fargo. I have included at the end of my post a link where a digital download can be purchased for just $8, there are also links to connect with artist Cherry Ashen Fargo’s etsy website and Facebook page.

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  11. I love the image of extravagant grace, lovely post.

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    1. Aundi, thank you so much for your thoughtful comments. Many blessings, to you!

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  12. Yes, the extravagant grace of God - so very thankful for it. I have always loved that song speaking of just that. Thank you for reminding me today. Visiting from Three Word Wednesday.

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    1. Mindy, thank you for taking time to leave such an encouraging comment. Many blessings to you!

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  13. Where would we be without God's extravagant grace? Can't wait for heaven! Thanks for the reminder that it is near. That warms my heart. Blessings to you and yours, Beth!

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    1. Heather, thank you for your encouraging comments, I so agree with you. Many blessings to you, too ❤️

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  14. I love, love, love those verses from Matthew from The Message. I've read them before, but I'm so grateful for this reminder today. Thanks for linking up at #ThreeWordWednesday.

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    1. Thank you, Kristin, for popping over from #ThreeWordWednesday, I love your posts there...many blessings to you ❤️

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  15. That is lovely painting. Thank you for sharing it and your memories that are attached to it. It's a wonderful post.

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    1. Jenny, thank you so much, I love Cherry Ashen Fargo's beautiful mixed media artwork, too ❤️

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  16. This post is so timely for all of Easter points to God's extravagant grace. Completely over the top! Glad to have met you at Grace and Truth.

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    1. Thank you so much, Michele...I love your phrase, "completely over the top!" Reminds me of that great Scripture... "Ephesians 3:20 Living Bible (TLB) Now glory be to God, who by his mighty power at work within us is able to do far more than we would ever dare to ask or even dream of—infinitely beyond our highest prayers, desires, thoughts, or hopes." Many blessings to you!

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  17. I love Chris Tomlin's music and attended that concert tour (with Louie Giglio) in Chicago. I love the definition, "extravagant" to describe God's grace! We are truly blessed! Thanks for sharing....may you have a blessed Easter season!!!
    Ann @ Christ in the Clouds
    http://christintheclouds.blogspot.com/

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    1. Thank you, Ann, I so agree with you. Many blessings to you ❤️

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  18. Beautiful! Saving grace! How God loves the sinner and wants each one redeemed! In a world that keeps encouraging minimalism - how awesome to see God's extravagant love! This so blessed me!

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    1. Thank you so much. I so agree with you ❤️

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  19. Beautiful, thank you for sharing at Good Morning Mondays. Blessings

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    1. Thank you, Terri. Many blessings to you ❤️

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  20. Praise God for His extravagant mercy, love and grace! Beautiful, Bible-based post and art! Linked up with you at Give Me Grace -- hope you'll stop by Saved by Grace for a visit!
    Thanks for hosting & God bless!
    Laurie
    http://savedbygracebiblestudy.blogspot.com/

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    1. Thank you, Laurie! I so enjoyed your post ... Very creative! Many blessings to you ❤️

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  21. Oh how grateful I am for His extravagant grace!

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    1. Thank you, Rose, I so agree with you ❤️

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