Tag Archives: God’s grace

Saving Grace… for Later

My pastor recently introduced me to the S.O.A.P. Bible study method and, as I’m enjoying it quite a bit, I thought I’d share some of what the Lord’s been teaching me. Hope you enjoy!

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Scripture

Titus 2:11-12

“For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all men, instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously, and godly in the present age.”

Observe

God’s grace is what enables us to deny ungodliness. It just ‘appeared’; He chose to give it freely and not in response to anything we’ve done. It’s all Him. He is the one who gives us both to will and to do according to His good pleasure. We can’t do anything in our own strength, we can’t even want to follow Him without Him putting that desire into our hearts first.

Application

I don’t rely on God’s grace. I don’t fall back on it, or revel in it, or seek more of it. Deep down, I feel like His grace is too basic, like it’s only for new believers, baby-Christians. It’s sort of the starter kit, something to get us headed off in the right direction. So I would have to back-slide pretty far to need grace. After all, I’ve been a Christian all my life. I’ve read the Bible all the way through, several times. I don’t need to go back to milky doctrines like grace. I only need it if I fail, so I’m going to try to get along without it. Plus, what if, heaven forbid, I really did need it one day and I’d used up my limited supply? What if I become dependent on it and the source runs out on me?!
Oh. Brother. Grace is the central doctrine to the Christian faith and none of us will ever get to the place where we no longer need it, least of all me. Grace isn’t the like training wheels on a bike; it’s the main wheels, and the bike frame, and the peddles, and the handle-bar… and the helmet… and the ground… and gravity… and…. You get the picture.

How sad that instead of enjoying one of, if not the greatest (*insert theological semantics here*), gifts I have or ever will receive, I try to keep it stored away for a really rainy day and get along without it. Trying to live a victorious Christian life without grace is like trying to run a marathon while holding your breath: it’s just not going to happen.

Prayer

Father, please forgive me for my pride and faithlessness. I don’t want to need Your grace in case one day You decide to withhold it. I want to be my own ‘Plan B.’ Please forgive me and please give me the faith to trust in – to revel in – Your amazing grace. Help me to accept this gift and let it work in my heart, so that I can deny worldliness and sin. Please let your grace tear down my idols of self-reliance and flood in to replace them. In Your precious name I pray, Amen.

Do you enjoy grace or are you trying to take the ‘training wheels’ off?


Pointing the Finger

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(Originally published 8/30/13)

As I’ve mentioned a few times, I occasionally watch two little boys, a 4yr old and a 2yr old. The other day, they got in a fight that involved kicking and whining. When I asked who kicked who first, the 4yr old pointed to his brother and promptly responded, “He kicked me back first.”

I love kids because they are so candid and literal. We laugh at the things that come out of their mouths, but in actuality we do a lot of the same things. We just disguise our behavior by giving it a ‘grown-up’ sheen.

Take this response for example: it’s hilarious the way the kid stated it and I’m positive that in his mind it was a perfectly logical explanation for his actions. Sure, he had done something wrong, but so had his brother. And all’s fair, right?

I’ve noticed that I have a tendency to do the same thing. I’ll say something I know I shouldn’t, use manipulation, or lose my temper all because of what so-and-so did. I somehow think that their actions justify mine, or even cancel them out. I think that if we both sinned then my sin didn’t really count.

The sad thing is though, that when I stand before the Lord and give an account, ‘Well, she started it,’ is not going to be a sufficient excuse. Furthermore, retaliation can hurt just as much as an initial attack, if not more.

I don’t know, and therefore cannot judge, another person’s heart or their motives. Their sin or wrong doing does not negate or justify mine. Romans 14:12 says,

‘So then each of us will give an account of himself to God.’

There is no clause to this verse that states, ‘and they shall be allowed to bring before the throne, as evidence, the sins of the other person involved.’ We are each held accountable for our own personal sins. We have no control over any other person; the only thing we can control is our own actions. We may have no say over the hurts that others inflict upon us, but we have complete control over our reactions to them.

I also fall into the habit of offering and accepting advice and comfort like, ‘no, they started it and you were perfectly within your rights to do what you did.’ Society would like to make us think that all’s fair once first blood is drawn, but in reality, we are just as much in the wrong whether we throw the first punch or the second.

It is very important to remember that when we stand before the judgment seat one day, there will be no one else around at whom we can point the finger of blame. God isn’t going to take a short recess to question witnesses and suspects and check for alibis.

That being said, we will by no means be standing there alone. If you are a born again Christian and have accepted Jesus’ sacrifice for you, then He will be standing right be your side. And He will point the finger at Himself and say, “I already took care of their sins. Their debt is paid.”

Rather than taking this as permission to treat others any way we want, we should be so grateful of the grace that was shown us that we can do nothing but show grace to others and turn the other cheek as often as possible.

From now on, through the grace of God, I’m going to try to be more mindful of His grace and forgiveness towards me and strive to give more out to others. Rather than allowing their sins to affect my actions in a negative way, I’m going to try (again, with God’s help) to take every attack against me as an opportunity to turn the other cheek, rather than as authorization to retaliate.


For a Season

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(Originally published 8/6/13) 

A little while ago I re-read the account of Hannah and her son in 1 Samuel and I noticed something really beautiful. I actually read it as part of a quiet time while I was on my Honey Moon. I was on a cruise ship with my wonderful new husband and I was thinking about the job I had just quit.

I used to be a full time nanny (50hrs a week) to two small boys, ages 2 and 3. I worked for them for about a year and a half and boy did I ever get attached! When I got engaged and started making plans for the future, I was quite certain that the Lord was calling me to quit my job so I could work with my husband on writing full time. Even though I was sure I was doing the right thing, saying goodbye to those little guys was one of the most difficult things I’ve ever had to do. I’m not sure I’ve ever cried that hard before.

So even though I was having the time of my life enjoying my new hubby, I still thought about ‘my boys’ from time to time and missed them. When I was reading the story of Hannah and read the description of how she gave her beautiful new son back to the Lord, I’ll confess, I was crying again. I kept flashing back to my own heartbreaking farewell and I kept thinking about how much harder it must have been for Hannah. It makes her prayer in 1 Sam.2:1-10 that much more precious.

Then I noticed something strange. In 1 Sam.1:28 where Hannah says;

“Therefore I also have lent him to the Lord; as long a he lives he shall be lent to the Lord.”

Here she is, giving her son back to the Lord as she swore she’d do if God blessed her with a child, and she uses the word ‘lent.’ I found that very odd. Wouldn’t ‘give’ be so much more appropriate here?

Fast forward to 1 Sam.2:19 and you get,

‘Moreover his mother used to make him a little robe, and bring it to him year by year when she came up with her husband to offer the yearly sacrifice.’

And I wondered at that too. In the great scheme of Samuel’s life and all the plans God has for him, one would think this to be a rather insignificant detail. But I think it’s great. Here’s a woman who has honored God by ‘lending’ her beloved son to Him and rather than never seeing him again, God gives her a brief span of time, once a year, to hug her son and just love on him.

Another note on Hannah’s story is 2 Sam.2:21, which tells us that Hannah went on to have three more sons and two daughters. I believe that had she been unfaithful in keeping her word to dedicate Samuel, the Lord would not have given her any more children. After all, if she had chosen her son over God that would have been idolatry and I very much doubt that God would bless that with more children for her to idolize.

Then the verse that got me excited to no end. It’s mentioned a few times in earlier verses (1 Sam. 1:1,19, 2:11) that Hannah and her husband lived in Ramah. Look at 1 Sam.7:17;

‘But he (Samuel) always returned to Ramah, for his home was there.’

Sometimes God asks us to give things up to Him and sometimes He takes things. Whether He does this so that we will draw closer to Him, or because those things are causing us to sin, sometimes we lose those things forever. But sometimes, as was the case with Hannah, God takes those things on loan and gives them back to us. Sometimes, when God takes something, or someone, away from us, it’s only for a season. But even when it’s not, God calls us to be faithful to Him and to hold Him above all others. When we do that, it blesses the Lord and He blesses us in return.


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