A Matter of the Heart

Jan 17 2013

Verses for the Day: 1 Thessalonians 4:3 “It is God’s will that you should be sanctified.” (NIV)

As we continue to look at God’s different types of grace we can’t forget they are all the same grace just like the Trinity, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are one and the same. And while Prevenient Grace requires nothing from us to receive it and Justifying Grace only requires us to say yes and accept God’s gift of having a relationship with Christ,  Sanctifying Grace while it is still a free gift from God, will cost you time, commitment, and sacrifice. But, the good news is that God has set us apart and He empowers us to live a life of grace in and through the Holy Spirit--Who helps us to grow in our relationship with Christ. 

I have always been told anything of value in life will cost you more. Remember the story in Mt 13:44 “The Kingdom of heaven is like a treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field.” (NIV) And I truly believe there is nothing more valuable in life than our relationship with Christ. And that relationship requires an investment on our part, of time and commitment if we want it to grow, just like any relationship here on earth. Take marriage or raising kids for instance. You have to invest time and be committed to those relationships if you want them to be healthy and grow. And the same is true with our relationship with the Lord. God knew we couldn’t do it on our own and that’s why He gave us His grace to empower us through the Holy Spirit to grow and mature in our walk with the Lord.  God’s Sanctifying Grace is not a onetime shot or a onetime fix-it all and you’re done, but rather it’s a lifelong journey with Christ from conversion to death.  And as we start to live a life in obedience to God’s calling, the Holy Spirit empowers us to love others as Jesus loved and He helps us to grow and mature into the likeness of Christ.  And as we grow in Christ likeness we will start to share and pass on more and more blessings and grace to others as the Holy Spirit leads us.  

God’s Word tells us we are branches and are expected to produce fruit, but we can only do this if we maintain a healthy relationship with Him by being connect to the Tree, which is Jesus Christ.  Read John 15:1-17 and see what God has to say about being connected to Him and how apart from Him we can do nothing. 

So, what are you doing today to grow and strengthen your relationship with the Lord? Are you allowing God to set you apart--to be used as an instrument of His Grace?  Have you been feeling like there is something missing in your life? Maybe it’s the Holy Spirit prompting you in your walk with the Lord. Won’t you ask Him today to come into your life once again and help strengthen your relationship with the Lord?

Well tomorrow I want to share why I think God’s Grace is a lot like getting married and staying married and some of the obstacles that prevent us from receiving and sharing God’s Grace with others. As always HAVE A GREAT DAY IN THE LORD AND SHARE IT WITH SOMEONE!

Jan 16 2013

Verses for the Day: Titus 3:4-7 “…... He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by grace, we might become heirs having hope of eternal life.” (NIV)

Well thank God for His Prevenient Grace that watches over us and pursues us even before we realize we need Him. And it is given to us whether we ask for it, recognize it, except it or deserve it. There is no way you or I can get around it or opt out of receiving it. Only God can decide when someone will no longer receive it, just like He did with Pharaoh when He finally hardened his heart never to return to God’s grace again. So in short, there is no way to run fast enough or far enough from God’s Prevenient Grace that He cannot find you and pursue you; wooing you to return back to Him before it’s too late.

While Prevenient Grace is pursuing and beckoning us and trying to convince us of our need for God, Justifying Grace moves us to accept the gift of a loving relationship with God and helps us to see it as the priority and source for our life. And once we say yes to Jesus and accept His free gift of grace and salvation, then God fills us with His Holy Spirit and starts to sanctify us with His grace which we will talk about tomorrow.

During one of the talks on an Emmaus weekend I remember hearing an analogy from one of the clergy that really hit home with me and helped me understand what Justifying Grace might look like. Here is what Kurt had to say: (paraphrased) When we hear God calling us back (Prevenient Grace) and we acknowledge and accept that grace to walk with the Lord (Justifying Grace) we are once again made right with God, Just as if we never sinned. Wow! Just as if we never sinned. We get a fresh start and our sins are removed as far as the east is from the west. Read Psalms 103:8-12 and see God’s amazing love for us. 

And while we get a new start, we can’t stop there and think now that I have accepted God’s gift of Salvation I can sin all I want. WRONG! This is what Adrian Roger’s called Cheap Grace, when we continue to sin thinking it’s alright to sin because Jesus has my back. Cheap Grace is someone trying to justify their sin, while true grace is God’s grace justifying the sinner.  If you have truly accepted God’s gift of grace you won’t want to sin any longer as God has given you a new heart. Ezk 36:26 “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.”(NIV) God’s love for us is unconditional and He loves us just as we are, but praise God that He doesn’t leave us there. Instead He showers us and provides us with His amazing grace of Agape love (unconditional love) through the shed blood of Christ and the prayer and sacrifices of others on our behalf.

Is there someone you need to thank today for allowing God to use them as an instrument of His grace toward you or your family? Or are you the one in need of a little extra grace from God today. God will never force His grace on you or anyone else. It’s your decision whether to accept it or not. And for those of you who are still not sure about all this grace stuff and whether or not it’s real, I think if you are truly honest with yourself and look back over your life you will see there is no doubt that you have been on the receiving end of God’s Prevenient Grace through a family member, friend, co-worker or maybe even a stranger.  But, if you have only been on the receiving end of God’s grace and never felt like you have been a channel of God’s grace to someone else, then maybe this is the day you need to ask for and accept God’s Justifying Grace and allow Him to give you a new start, “Just as if I never sinned”.  Grace is not something we hold on to, but it is meant to be given away and I know for me personally the more I give away the more God seems to give back.

So, I pray if you have never accepted God’s gift of Salvation and His Amazing gift of Grace that you would say YES to Him today. And as always HAVE A GREAT DAY IN THE LORD AND SHARE IT WITH SOMEONE!