Friday, January 29, 2010

The meaning of "grace" in my life

I have always been a compassionate person, in touch with the way I feel, and easily in tune to the feelings of other people. As a leadership group, we are fasting for 10 days. The first 2 days of the fast my body was pissed, I had a headache, and I was easily offended.

God has been dealing with me His grace this year, and as things start to unfold, nothing but blessings and favor have come pouring out this year in various areas of my life. I understand that it is by grace I am saved, that I am to pick up my cross and carry it because I am to die on it. For this Christian life is all about Christ; for He chose us(Eph. 1:4), He predestined us (Eph. 1:5), He freely gave(Eph. 1:6), in Him we have redemption through His blood (Eph. 1:7), according to His purpose(Rom. 8:28). I knew it in my head, and even in my prayers I have been praying a crucifixion of self; recently that has changed as I can recognize myself holding on to my pride, and to the way I think things should go. I am nothing, I have no value in myself, and I don't deserve a thing. I don't deserve to have such a great family, a father and a mother, a great job position, a HOME, a place to go where people care, I don't deserve a beautiful woman of God. I am realizing that without the power and "grace" of God, I cannot move. It is a free gift for us to receive, it just takes faith and believing Jesus died to give us eternal life; and faith comes by hearing the word of God. I have obtained only what Christ has apportioned to me, and all my strength, and all my hope, and all my worth is in Christ who has set me free from a world of chains. By Him and Him only I am who I am.

We are broken when we come to God, we are messed up, and though we grow in the word, through prayer, and the fellowship of other Christians, we are still weak. Now do not think me saying "weak" is a bad thing, for our strength comes from God and its not that we are physically weak, or in a state of weakness. I just mean, that, never by our power or strength can we live for Christ. Why would He say, "My yoke is easy and my burden is light" if it had something to do with our strength? You see, there is still a burden, but we are to surrender our yoke and our burden because His is easier and lighter(Matthew 11:30.) What about, "No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me." (John 15:4) It is clear that we obtain our growth and nourishment from Christ, how would a flower grow unless it was rooted in something?

The ways of this world try to tell you that its all about your "strength" and to pick yourself up and keep going. Well I believe in picking my self up and to keep going, but it doesn't mean not acknowledging whats going on in my life, and ignoring the circumstances. Were we not baptized into His death so that we might have life in Him? Did we not put off our sinful nature in order to be raised with Christ? Christ says, "I will oppose the proud, but give grace to the humble." He made Himself nothing (Phil. 2:7.) This pattern of doing it on our own, this false sense of strength that comes through pride, and being better than the other person comes from the world. It comes through the prince of the air, and it is a lie. What about the saying, "if you want it done right, then do it yourself?" We are deceived to think we have it all figured out. Paul says, "but in humility consider others better than yourselves."

Paul begs the Lord to take his weakness away, and the Holy Spirit says, "When you are weak, I am strong. My power is made perfect in your weakness." Then Paul says, "all the more I will glory in my weakness so that Christ's power may rest on me." So what does this say to you? Maybe you have had thoughts of living a life of strength, even in the church; thinking that since you live for God nothing can go wrong, and He holds you in His hand. Adam messed up and and sinned, and being conscience of that, tried to cover himself with a fig leaf. A fig leaf is inadequate to cover yourself up, it is insufficient; God had to kill an animal that was innocent, that did nothing wrong to cover our sin. Yet God came to Adam when he messed up, He didn't shun him, or strike him dead. He came to Adam in his brokenness and covered him. It paints a portrait for what was to come, God killing an innocent human being, that did nothing wrong, to cover us for our sins, in return to bring us back to Him. He has freely given us this, His one and only Son, to display His great love for us. Grace is not to be used by our strength, it is to be used through our weakness. I am not sufficient on my own, and I cannot do anything by my self. I am able to live daily by his bread that He so graciously gives me. I praise Him for my incredible girlfriend, for my job, for my family, for my HOME, for the people that are so close to my life, and for where He is taking me.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

college small group and such

Once a week, a group of guys gets together and discusses things and new events that are going on in their lives. They pray for each other, encourage one another, and study the Word of God. They have started doing a study on Galatians, one chapter, once a week.

Galatians is huge! There is a lot of information in Galatians about being justified through faith, and not the law. It makes it very clear, that by observing the law no one will be justified. By trying to live your life by works and self effort, you fall from grace. It is by Christ we live and are justified by grace through faith in HIM. We have obtained His spirit through faith in Him. So many christians try to live "right" by the things they do, but fail to recognize that its not about the things we do which makes us righteous. There is no code, or list of things to check off in your life which sets you up for success. For if righteousness could be obtained by the things we do, then Christ died for nothing. He clearly chose to reveal Himself to us, to save us and make us holy in His sight. It is by our faith in Him that we receive His spirit, totally grace people. Nothing we do, or say can obtain this undeserved Love.

I want to hit on a couple things that stuck out to me(comment if you have anything else on this.) In Chapter 4 verses 21-31 Paul brings up Abraham and Sarah. He describes 2 situations and concludes with saying we are sons of the free woman. Well there is a ton of information on Abraham and Sarah, but in these few paragraphs, it deals mainly with their 2 sons. On one hand, you have a promise of God; things that are definite and true, and on the other you have self dependency; not knowing whats going to happen. God made a promise that Abraham would have a son, and through him, he would have as many descendants as stars in the sky. Well Abraham was a little over age, and so was his wife, so he had a hard time believing God. Well in Abraham's impatience(along with his wife's consent) he laid with their servant woman, and she became pregnant. She was a slave, she had nothing to do with God's promise. Abraham, in his human logic and thinking, thought that this might work out the promise. Well it didn't, and to this day there is constant war between the Jews and the Muslims. Abraham did have a son with Sarah, and he was the son of the promise. What's interesting to me, is it goes to show you that never by self effort can we work out our lives. It should be a full trust in the Lord, and dependency on Him to work out all things in our life. When we wait on Him, His promises become evident in our lives, and our fruit shows it. It's absolutely beautiful theology. It is Life.

In 2 Corinthians 1:9-10 It says, "Indeed, in our hearts we felt the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead. He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will continue to deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us..."

It's all about Him, so let us continue to focus on Him and not ourselves.