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Wednesday, June 26, 2013

He Giveth More Grace

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"He Giveth More Grace"

"But Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD" (Genesis 6:8). "The Word … who came from the Father, full of grace and truth" (John 1:14). "For of His fullness we have all received, and grace upon grace" (John 1:16). "My grace is sufficient for you" (2 Corinthians 12:9a).
"The grace of our Lord was poured out on me abundantly" (1 Timothy 1:14). "But He gives us more grace" (James 4:6a). “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble” (1 Peter 5:5).

He giveth more grace when the burden grows greater;
He sendeth more strength when the labors increase.
To added affliction He addeth His mercy;
To multiplied trials, His multiplied peace.

When we lived in Massachusetts I (Brooksyne) met a retired missionary who shared an interesting story with the pastor's wives of Southern New England. Olive Hawkes served, alongside her husband, Howard, for many years as a missionary in East Pakistan, now known as Bangladesh. They labored under extremely harsh conditions, faithfully serving the Lord and expressing His message of love and redemption to the people there. Bangladesh was, and is presently, an extremely impoverished country. Overwhelmingly Muslim, receptivity to the Gospel was and is to this day relatively minimal.

Fear not that thy need shall exceed His provision,
Our God ever yearns His resources to share;
Lean hard on the arm everlasting, availing;
The Father both thee and thy load will upbear.

Old Coleman stoveSupplies were low and money was scarce in December of 1950 when a package arrived from the states that included a new record album and a pound of coffee. The Hawkes had no electricity or running water. She anxiously heated water in a sauce pan on the portable Coleman stove for a makeshift coffee pot. After opening the album Olive loaded their Victrola to play a newer song that was very popular in the states at the time called, "He Giveth More Grace". 

Hank crank record playerShe manually played the record by turning a crank on the victrola and began to listen to the words of the song. However in the providence of God the record had a scratch on it and skipped at the refrain in which the song says, "He giveth and giveth and giveth again". Every time she cranked it, the words would repeat "He giveth and giveth and giveth and giveth and giveth…." Olive knew deep in her heart that God wanted her to be reminded of this truth about our generous God over and over and over and over again. This experience filled her with great assurance and supplied deep abiding joy to her heart at a time when circumstances were bleak and uncertain.

His love has no limit; His grace has no measure;
His pow'r has no boundary known unto men.
For out of His infinite riches in Jesus,
He giveth, and giveth, and giveth again.

Let's fast forward 63 years and I'll give you an update on Olive Hawkes so you can determine whether or not God has continued to give and give and give according to her need. We lost touch many years ago and considered that she might have died, but we found her contact info in a ministers directory and I put in a call yesterday.

Olive is now 93 years old and sharp as a whistle. I relayed to her the story she'd told the pastor's wives about twenty years ago and she quickly recalled the details. She proceeded to tell me the way God continues to give to her. Her husband, Howard, passed away eighteen years ago and for the past five years she has lived in the comforts of a retirement village in Agawam, MA. She meets with a weekly prayer group in which she is greatly encouraged and is involved in her church. Her four children in their 60's are all in ministry, and her daughter is a missionary  in India. She has eight grandchildren in ministry and enjoys the delights of her fifteen great grandchildren.

When I asked her for a summary statement of how God continues to work in her life Olive answered, "The Lord's faithfulness has not changed. The greater the need the greater the measure of His faithfulness." The special revelation of God's generosity experienced 63 years ago in an impoverished setting on the mission field as Olive hand cranked the Victrola has been a lasting testimony to God's faithfulness in every season of Olive's life. "He giveth and giveth and giveth......"

And it's a message for each of us as well. The greater the need the greater the supply of God's grace.

God has been dispensing grace to the fallen human race at least since he sought out a hiding Adam and Eve and asked, "Where are you?" The first reference to the word "grace" in the Bible is in Genesis 6:8, "Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord." From the very beginning God has been pouring out His grace and He continues to abundantly do so.

The nature of God is that He is always "full of grace." Since He is immutable this fullness is constant. His fullness of grace is never depleted and never needs replenished. Although grace has been poured out abundantly from the very beginning, God is always "full of grace." There is no less grace available for our need than there was for Noah or Paul or anyone else who has ever lived.

When we have exhausted our store of endurance,
When our strength has failed ere the day is half done,
When we reach the end of our hoarded resources,
Our Father's full giving is only begun.

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer:  Father, You know how often I ask You for blessings and yet I can't know the extent of Your limitless grace if I don't experience the lack from my human provisions. I can't personally know Your divine strength unless I endure human weakness. In the midst of multiple heartaches and distress You multiply Your peace and provision for my life. Help me not to resent affliction, hardship or weakness since it is in those experiences that I more clearly recognize Your immeasurable grace for all that concerns me. It is in the name of Jesus that I come to You in prayer thanking You for Your unlimited provision and immeasurable grace. Amen.

Stephen's note: I was curious as to if there was any other online mention of the Hawkes and came across an old sermon that mentioned them in an illustration. This must have taken place many, many years ago. (East Pakistan is now known as Bangladesh).

"How well do I remember the year I stopped by at the airport on my way back to college. I was driving a VW bug with all my possessions packed in a trunk tied on the roof, and when I reached Hartford Connecticut, instead of turning south on the Burlington Turnpike, I went north a few miles to Bradley Field. A small group of prayer supporters were on hand to bid farewell to Howard and Olive Hawkes who were once again on their way back to the mission field they loved, East Pakistan. Their oldest daughter Lois was being left behind in college, their autistic son Howard would remain at home for the first time, and with them was their 16 year old daughter Joy*. As I got back on the highway and made my way toward the next step in my own preparation for ministry, I was moved to tears as I reviewed that scene over and over in my mind's eye. What for me was a heart wrenching moment, for Howard and Olive was a glorious moment - with broad smiles on their faces they climbed the ramp to the plane. How could they do that? Because they knew they were being sent. They were missionaries."

*Olive told Brooksyne that Joy who was born in India continues to serve the Lord as a missionary there. Her husband who served alongside her died last year in his adopted homeland.

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

"He Giveth More Grace"  Video   Homecoming singers  This is followed by some wonderful hymn singing with minimal instrumentation.

"He Giveth More Grace"  Video   Maranatha singers  The amazing thing about this old hymn is it's timeless truth regardless of arrangement!

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Scripture references are from The Holy Bible: New International Version. © 1984 by International Bible Society; NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1995 by The Lockman Foundation, New King James Version (NKJV) Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. and the King James Version.

Personal Mission Statement: "I am created by God to bring Him glory. Through God's Son Jesus Christ I have been redeemed and I make it my life's goal to please the Lord. My mission in life is to honor God through my faith and obedience and to prepare myself and all whom I may influence for eternity."

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