Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Awakened in Grace

As I meet with women week after week in my community counseling I find many of them are very fearful of God and live in a perpetual state of self-condemnation. I believe it is this way for a variety of reasons but a main reason is that few churches teach the fundamentals of our Christian faith anymore. Words like justification, sanctification, redemption, sanctification, and propitiation are not used or taught in our churches, and there is little to no teaching on the sovereignty of God. 

Instead of learning these crucial doctrines in our Bible studies and Sunday education classes, many are fed weak material that is supposed to “fill my love cup” or meet their latest felt needs. 

Consequently, many people have no real idea of what has been done for us and who we now are in Christ. I see women (and men) from these kinds of churches wandering through life defeated, discouraged, in despair and unable to live in the victory they have in Christ. 

A few years ago I began to learn many things about God’s grace. Thanks to a few wonderful books like The Grace Awakening (Chuck Swindol) and Transforming Grace (Jerry Bridges) God began to open my eyes to the truth of the believers position in Jesus Christ, the certainty of our eternal destiny, and our permanent and total salvation in Christ. 

These truths were not new to me; I had learned them throughout my Christian life but what was new was what changed in the application of these truths. His sovereignty, His grace and mercy have changed the whole focus of my life!  

One of the most profound things I learned is that it is not about me- it is all about Him. And it is about Him in a very real way. Do you have any idea what that means to live this truth out? 

Part of living out the reality that my life is not about me but about God means that I can submit to difficult authorities in my life because the focus of my submission is not that person, it is Christ! As I submit to Christ out of love I am obeying Him as well but my obedience is not out of fear of punishment or condemnation it is again out of love.   

Of course, people in my life, including the difficult people, will all benefit from my obedient submission but they are not my focus, He is.  When I determine to serve others, it is out of love for how He has served me. 

What greater love is there than a man who serves others by laying down His own life? John 15:3

If I make my service about serving Jesus rather than man I am living a life of “One Anothering” out of gratitude and love for what has been done for me. Others benefit from my love for Christ in a very real and tangible way. 

When I show grace to others by overlooking offenses I am demonstrating that I have some understanding of the grace He has blessed me with. Since He is always before me, always lavishing His grace on me would I not love Him by being gracious toward others? 

This demands that I stop looking at my circumstances through secular eyes and begin to put on those eyes that are only for Jesus.  When I fix my eyes on Jesus wonderful things begin to happen in my inner man, in what the Bible calls my heart. One of them is that Jesus is enough! He becomes real to me and His sustaining power is realized as I find I can make it through extremely difficult circumstances because He is enough to carry me though.  I come to intimately understand that He is faithful to me because He is God, and I am united with Him in Christ! 

I maintain that when my goal for all I do in life is to glorify God then nothing else matters.  God receives my spiritual acts of worship (Romans 12:1) and I experience joy because man’s response just doesn’t matter anymore! It has ceased to be about me and my feelings and my wants and my perceived needs and it is now all about Him.  This is how I can bring Him glory in living my daily life.


BOH said...

What an encouraging and motivating blog you have posted today. Nothing but truth, truth, truth. As you say there is no new revelation from God here. The message is the same as it has always been. The "newness" is the application of His love for me in my life. Why does it take so long for some things to soak in! God has really been "coming alive" in me for some time now. I have had the head knowledge you talk about in the blog but He has brought it down to my heart in the past 3-4 years. He has placed a LOAD on my heart that only He could use to mature me and those around me. The hurt/suffering, love/joy that has produced the maturing of me in Him could have been gained in no better way, of course His ways are perfect.
You are correct when you say life isn't all about me, it's all about God. However I believe life is all about what I do and how I respond to Him. It is about me but it is ALL about Him.
The statement about "fill my love cup" made me think. I do want my love cup filled, not with self-love but with my love for Him. His love for me overflows my cup. As the song says "I'm drinking from my saucer because my cup has overflowed".
As I read, meditate, pray and somewhat try to grasp the meaning of the "big" words you used in the first paragraph, I see how awesome God is. One day I realized I can't make God love me any more than He already does and the other side is I can't make Him love me any less. What an awesome God we serve.
The LOAD He has placed on me continues and always will. I know He is in control, He wants what is best for me and all those involved. He knows exactly how to accomplish His plan. Praise God for that. Once I realize and hold on to that truth, I am so glad I am NOT in control. All mighty God is!
Rick Thomas and you continue to be a blessing that God has put in to my life. Keep up the good work. Your service is appreciated.

~bakinghomesteader~ said...

BOH, I don't know if you will read this, but thank you for your response. It is something I REALLY needed to hear. I, too, carry a LOAD and always will. I am also thankful that God is there to help me with that LOAD. What a blessing it is that we serve the same God! It makes the connection between people all that closer...