We've been doing this excellent, excellent series at our life group these past 12+ weeks and it's been life-changing! It's called "A Heart Ablaze" by John Bevere. I had no idea who he is before I started the series but have since heard he's quite the popular preacher. And I now know why: he really has the words for our generation, in my opinion. He doesn't mince words but cuts to the chase and, man, it really goes right to my spirit. I really feel like God is really using him to wake up the Church, which is something we so desperately need. Anyhow, I've learned so much and would like to share a few things that God has put on my heart. :) This post is on grace.
Grace is something we hear so often as Christians. And even people who don't do the Christian thing throw the word around sometimes. As I've progressed in my faith, I've almost come to dismiss it as something that's not really integral in how I live my Christian life. Sure, I ask for it when I'm repenting but it almost seemed such a "weak" (for lack of a better word" thing and that we (including myself) use it almost as fallback and pursue our own self-seeking lifestyle again. Even people who aren't Christians say, "At least I can ask God for forgiveness right before I die and He'll extend His grace to me and cover all my sins, right?" Basically, grace = a big cover-up in my mind. So, I was always a bit bothered by grace. But that all changed but I found out what it really was.
I'm sure there are lots of definition for grace but Bevere's definition says that it's 'God's power for you to obey all that He asks you to do'. In Bevere's book of the same title, it states that " Grace is depicted as the ability to live free of ungodliness and worldly desires"(p.100). And we need this grace because there is no way we can obey God fully by ourselves. Now that is a powerful thing! Because I know sometimes that I don't want to listen to God and sometimes I don't even ask God for his opinion about things. But more and more, I'm learning to ask God even about the decisions I've already made in my life and to see if that's what He wants and if it's not (and it's not too late to change it), I will change it. For example, during premarital counseling, we discussed the number of kids to have and we actually both wanted 4! So, that was easy - we'll have four kids. We've been blessed to have been able to conceive quickly (though I've had a miscarriage at an early stage) but now we're asking God is 4 is what HE wants for us or is it less or more. Because we now know (through many experiences) that when He wants something for us and we obey, he will always provide whatever we need to do what He asks of us. He has always come through. And even with the housing situation - we're renting this yr but when our rent is up, we're thinking about buying, possibly. We were pretty sure of that til recently, when we were convicted to ask Him: Should we move? When? Where? Should we rent or buy? And we're not moving anywhere until He lets us know. Because there are so many factors involved with a move and a possible purchase, asking Him is really the easiest way to go. :) Anyhow, moving on..
The part about grace and obedience was also a big part for me. Grace is always there for me, will I use it? It's really my choice. It would be so sad to let it go to waste - almost like a gift card you never use. There is a factor of my responsibility in it, you know? I now see how important it is to have grace when you obey because sometimes He asks us to do the hard things (ie forgive, confess, etc) and we really can't do that on our own. And as I've gotten older, I realize more and more that even the hard things he's call me to do are really for my own good - to set me free from the things that hold me back from healing from all kinds of hurts in my life. And as he chastises like all good fathers do, I'll definitely need the grace to get through.