Tag Archives: Self-reliance

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?


When God’s Goodness Runs Out

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I just read the account of the golden calf in the book of Exodus and it was reminiscent of looking in a mirror.

If you’ve ever sat in a sermon about Exodus, you’ve probably heard that we modern day Christians are a lot like the Israelites were. I always had a hard time swallowing that.

I mean, look at the miracles they witnessed! The great deliverance the Lord worked for them! And then they turned around and rejected God in favor of a statue of a gold cow?

Nope, I never do anything like that.

What we sometimes fail to take into account are the cultural differences. Back then, the people were more honest. They wanted to rule their own lives and make their own laws. So they made gods for themselves and called them gods.

These days we make our own rules, but we call our gods things like Career, Academics, Social Status, anything that gives us the illusion of self-reliance.

Even Christians. How often do we pray for God to deliver us to the ‘I’ll take it from here’ point?

This ‘do-it-yourself-who-needs-God’ attitude stems from insecurity.

Look at what the Israelites said to Aaron in Exodus 32:1;

‘Now when the people saw that Moses delayed coming down from the mountain, the people gathered together to Aaron, and said to him, “Come, make us gods that shall go before us; for as for this Moses, the man who brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we do not know what has become of him.”’

How often do we decide to take matters into our own hands when we think God is ‘delaying’?

We stress and plan and break our backs at work to earn every penny we can all so we’ll have a cushion for the day when God eventually lets us down.

We worship the idols of Job and School and Status because we are anticipating the day when God removes our training wheels and leaves us to rise or fall without Him.

The Israelites didn’t believe in the goodness of God. So when Moses hadn’t come back in over a month, they decided to govern themselves. They would rather eke by, struggling against God the whole way, than trust that He is as good as He says He is.

I am so guilty of this. When I look ahead to the future, I’m careful to plan a contingency in which God’s plan for me isn’t all that great and I have to make stuff happen on my own.

It’s tax season; how many of us are tempted to fudge the numbers because they believe the future God has for them isn’t as good as the future they could get by moving that one little decimal? (*raises hand*)

I’ve written about this before, but I still find myself tripping up almost every day. I have to remind myself over and over again that God is good all the time. He’s not going to stay on the mountain and leave me. I don’t have to rely on idols. I don’t have to eke by.

God gave me a question a couple of weeks ago that has had me in a near constant state of challenge. The question has been popping up everywhere, ever since He first asked it. I’d like to take this opportunity to pass this challenge along:

Do your actions and your attitude prove that you believe in the goodness of God?

Or are you, like the Israelites, preparing for the day when His goodness runs out?


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