|Nativity Alphabet by Krista Hamrick|
Krista Hamrick’s beautiful original art print, Nativity Alphabet, has so inspired me. Each of the 26 words in the Nativity Alphabet are so intricately painted, almost like stained glass windows. My heart has been drawn to write 26 Devotions Focusing on Christ in the Nativity Alphabet.
While pondering the word, "Noel," I recalled this anointed and captivating new hymn. The first time we heard it, we were worshipping with Chris Tomlin at his recent Adore tour at the Ruth Eckerd Hall in Clearwater. We suddenly experienced an awesome sense of the presence of the Holy Spirit in the atmosphere when he introduced Lauren Daigle to sing his new song, Noel, Love incarnate, love divine, Star and angels gave the sign, Bow to babe on bended knee, The Savior of humanity, Unto us a Child is born, He shall reign forevermore, Noel, Noel, Come and see what God has done, Noel, Noel, The story of amazing love! The light of the world, given for us, Noel. Son of God and Son of man, There before the world began, Born to suffer, born to save, Born to raise us from the grave, Christ the everlasting Lord, He shall reign forevermore. This led me to a word study of Titus 2:11…
NASB: For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men
Phillips: For the grace of God, which can save every man, has now become known
Wuest: For the grace of God bringing salvation, appeared to all men
Weymouth: For the grace of God has displayed itself with healing power to all mankind
Young's Literal: For the saving grace of God was manifested to all men
Expanded Bible: For God’s grace that can save everyone has ·come [appeared; been revealed].
Pastor John MacArthur writes, ”The Apostle Paul culminates his teaching in Titus 2:11 on how believers are to live by emphasizing where it begins…with the grace of God. God’s grace is His unmerited favor toward wicked, unworthy sinners, by which He delivers them from condemnation and death. But the grace of God is more than a divine attribute; it is a divine Person, Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ not only was God incarnate but was grace incarnate. He Himself personifies and expresses the grace of God, the sovereign, eternal, and unmerited divine gift of Him who has appeared, bringing salvation to all men.”
Pastor Charles H. Spurgeon writes, “In the person of Christ the grace of God is revealed, as when the sun arises and makes glad all lands. It is not a private vision of God to a favored prophet on the lone mountain’s brow; but it is an open declaration of the grace of God to every creature under heaven— a display of the grace of God to all eyes that are open to behold it. When the Lord Jesus Christ came to Bethlehem, and when He closed a perfect life by death upon Calvary, He manifested the grace of God more gloriously than has been done by creation or Providence. This is the clearest revelation of the everlasting mercy of the living God. In the Redeemer we behold the unveiling of the Father’s face. What if I say the laying bare of the divine heart? To repeat the figure of the text, this is the dayspring from on high which hath visited us: the Sun which has arisen with healing in His wings. The grace of God hath shone forth conspicuously, and made itself visible to men of every rank in the person and work of the Lord Jesus. This was not given us because of any deserving on our part; it is a manifestation of free, rich, undeserved grace, and of that grace in its fullness. The grace of God has been made manifest to the entire universe in the appearing of Jesus Christ our Lord."
Theologian A. W. Pink writes: "The Apostle Paul enforces what he said in Titus 2:11 by reminding us that "the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men." This is in blessed contrast from the Law, which brings nothing but "condemnation." But the grace of God brings salvation, and that in a twofold way—by what Christ has done for His people, and by what He works in them. "He shall save His people from their sins"—save from the guilt and penalty of sin, and from the love or power of sin. This grace of God "has appeared"—it has broken forth like the light of the morning after a dark night. The grace of God—His loving-kindness, His goodwill, His free favor—hath appeared "to all men."
Pastor Charles Swindoll writes: "Grace is summed up in the name, person, and work of the Lord Jesus Christ...He stood alongside a woman caught in adultery. The Law clearly stated, “Stone her.” The grace killers who set her up demanded the same. Yet Christ said to those self-righteous Pharisees, “He who is without sin, let him cast the first stone.” What grace! Under the Law they had every legal right to bury her beneath the rocks in their hands...and they were ready. There they stood with self-righteous fire in their eyes, but He intervened in grace. When His friend Lazarus died, Martha met Him on the road and Mary later faced Him in the house. Both blamed Him for not coming earlier: “If You had been here, my brother would not have died!” There is strong accusation in those words. He took them in grace. With the turn of His hand, He could have sent them to eternity; but He refused to answer them back in argument. That is grace. When He told stories, grace was a favorite theme. He employed a gracious style in handling children. He spoke of the prodigal son in grace. As He told stories of people who were caught in helpless situations, grace abounded…as with the good Samaritan."
Pastor Charles Swindoll continues, “Understanding what grace means requires our going back to an old Hebrew term that meant “to bend, to stoop.” By and by, it came to include the idea of “condescending favor.” If you have traveled to London, you have perhaps seen royalty. If so, you may have noticed sophistication, aloofness, distance. On occasion, royalty in England will make the news because someone in the ranks of nobility will stop, kneel down, and touch or bless a commoner. That is grace. There is nothing in the commoner that deserves being noticed or touched or blessed by the royal family. But because of grace in the heart of the royal person, there is the desire at that moment to pause, to stoop, to touch, even to bless. To show grace is to extend favor or kindness to one who doesn’t deserve it and can never earn it. Receiving God’s acceptance by grace always stands in sharp contrast to earning it on the basis of works. Every time the thought of grace appears, there is the idea of its being undeserved. In no way is the recipient getting what he or she deserves. Favor is being extended simply out of the goodness of the heart of the giver. One more thing should be emphasized about grace: It is absolutely and totally free. You will never be asked to pay it back. You couldn’t even if you tried. Most of us have trouble with that thought, because we work for everything we get. As the old saying goes, “There’s no free lunch.” But in this case, grace comes to us free and clear, no strings attached. We should not even try to repay it; to do so is insulting.”
Greek scholar Kenneth S. Wuest writes, “When grace is used in the New Testament, it refers to that favor which God did at Calvary when He stepped down from His judgment throne to take upon Himself the guilt and penalty of human sin. God has no strings tied to the salvation He procured for man at the Cross. Salvation is given to the believing sinner out of the pure generosity of God’s heart. The Greek word for grace, charis, is from chairo which means to rejoice. Charis referred to an action that was beyond the ordinary course of what might be expected, and was therefore commendable. What a description of that which took place at the Cross!”
We are recipients of great favor and a great inheritance. We are the righteous—those in right standing with the Father by virtue of Christ’s death and resurrection—the Lord’s own inheritance. Because we belong to Him and are His heirs, God blesses our lives with deliverance, direction, and continual access into His presence. Because of His unfailing love for us, we can enter His throne room and receive His grace. When we ask Him to tell us what to do, He will show us which way to turn and will always lead us on the right path. To top it all off, He encompasses, or encircles, us with the shield of His love, which means that He covers us with his favor and with the approval that he bestows on the righteous. This is a wonderful thing to petition the Lord for, on behalf of your loved ones and for your own life.
A pastor’s wife once told this true story of a time she was walking down a path in a park, when suddenly, she could see a man running toward her with an evil intent and expression on his face. She cried out, “Jesus, help me!” and instantly she said she actually saw a “hoop skirt of light” shining down around her, and the evil man just kept running past her, as though he had not seen her, and she was safe.
Look In—as you meditate on Titus 2:11 … pray to see how you might apply it to your life. Be propelled to ask galvanizing questions about your discoveries: "Because God is_________, I will_____________."
Look Out—as you meditate on Titus 2:11 …pray to see how you might apply it to your relationships with others. Let the nature of God impact on every relationship, for your good, and for His glory.
* If you liked this post, you’ll love this book – Name Above All Names Devotional: Focusing on 26 Alphabetical Names of Christ