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Grace:Giving Life to those around us!

In Apologetics, Chrisitian, Christ, Christian, Christianity, Prayer, Satan, Saved, Sin, Trinity on July 9, 2009 at 4:09 am

“Grace is a magnetic force that draws people to God, the source of grace.” Richard Blackaby

 (Col 4:2-6 HCSB)  Devote yourselves to prayer; stay alert in it with thanksgiving.  At the same time, pray also for us that God may open a door to us for the message, to speak the mystery of the Messiah–for which I am in prison–so that I may reveal it as I am required to speak. Walk in wisdom toward outsiders, making the most of the time. Your speech should always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you should answer each person.

 The story is told of the worst customers for restaurants’ are the Sunday “after church” crowds. They are often impatient (sitting through a long sermon can make you hungry), and are notoriously chintzy (maybe their tithe cleaned out their pockets). By the way almost nothing is as bad as leaving an unbelieving server a gospel tract instead of a tip.

How about the manic that is driving a car while having a road rage moment with a decal of a fish or cross on the truck? That really speaks of God’s love and grace.

One of the more notorious issues are business people with Bible verses and religious symbols on their business cards that provide poor products, or services that  bring shame upon the name of Jesus.

 Then it’s our story at GBC a story of hard hardness, murmurings, disputes, and generally selfish behavior towards each other and our soon to be resigned pastor.

 We miss so many opportunities to share the grace of Christ and the love that we have been given with others. In the verses listed above we are given guidelines about our behavior, speech, and making the most of the short time we have on this earth to allow God to accomplish his will through us. Scripture assures us as Christians we can persuade the world of our message by the way we demonstrate grace. We are told by the word the world will know us by our love. When we have genuine love for Jesus we can’t help but have grace to share with everyone else.

 (2Co 8:7-8 HCSB)  Now as you excel in everything–in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in all diligence, and in your love for us–excel also in this grace. I am not saying this as a command. Rather, by means of the diligence of others, I am testing the genuineness of your love.

 Unfortunately this is a time of testing for the body at GBC. We as a body are fractured and hurting. When we are faced with the giants of failure and rejection it’s hard not to fall back on pseudo-common sense and retaliation as means of defense. In these most difficult of times when the enemy is shouting in our ears to react and retaliate, it’s very difficult to listen to the voice of God and react in grace. Somewhere between fight and flight we trust our emotions instead of the Spirit of God in us. We see listed in scriptures below what happens when we trust emotions. Grace goes out the window so to speak and now we operate in the flesh. If we continually live in this kind of lifestyle then we have no part of the kingdom of God. Unfortunately this scripture implies we can fall back into old habits and this is more the focus of the lesson. When we have no grace we can come to this check list and see what is killing the grace in us.   

 (Gal 5:19-21 HCSB)  Now the works of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, moral impurity, promiscuity, idolatry, sorcery, hatreds, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambitions, dissensions, factions, envy, drunkenness, carousing, and anything similar, about which I tell you in advance–as I told you before–that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.

 Listed here is the hope that is set before us when we are experiencing the fruit of the Spirit; we become grace givers by default.

 (Gal 5:22-24 HCSB)  But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith, gentleness, self-control. Against such things there is no law. Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.

 When we really try to define grace it has to all the characteristics listed in the fruit of the Spirit and in my opinion it is the result of living the Spirit filled life. So how does this apply to the present situation at GBC in this most grievous time of dissensions, anger, quarrelling, rivalries, divisions, and provoking one another? The word speaks to all our basic issues.

 (1Ti 5:1721 HCSB)  The elders who are good leaders should be considered worthy of an ample honorarium, especially those who work hard at preaching and teaching. For the Scripture says: You must not muzzle an ox that is threshing grain, and, the laborer is worthy of his wages. Don’t accept an accusation against an elder unless it is supported by two or three witnesses. Publicly rebuke those who sin, so that the rest will also be afraid. I solemnly charge you, before God and Christ Jesus and the elect angels, to observe these things without prejudice, doing nothing out of favoritism. Don’t be too quick to lay hands on anyone, and don’t share in the sins of others. Keep yourself pure.

 (Rom 13:13-14 HCSB)  Let us walk with decency, as in the daylight: not in carousing and drunkenness; not in sexual impurity and promiscuity; not in quarreling and jealousy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no plans to satisfy the fleshly desires.

 (Tit 3:9-11 HCSB)  But avoid foolish debates, genealogies, quarrels, and disputes about the law, for they are unprofitable and worthless. Reject a divisive person after a first and second warning, knowing that such a person is perverted and sins, being self-condemned.

 (Gal 5:15-17 HCSB)  But if you bite and devour one another, watch out, or you will be consumed by one another. I say then, walk by the Spirit and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh. For the flesh desires what is against the Spirit, and the Spirit desires what is against the flesh; these are opposed to each other, so that you don’t do what you want.

 How do we overcome this in our life, our church, our witness? First we have to deal with our sin in our lives.

 (Gal 5:13-14 HCSB)  For you are called to freedom, brothers; only don’t use this freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but serve one another through love. For the entire law is fulfilled in one statement: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.

 (Rom 13:8-10 HCSB)  Do not owe anyone anything, except to love one another, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. The commandments: You shall not commit adultery, you shall not murder, you shall not steal, you shall not covet, and if there is any other commandment–all are summed up by this: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. Love does no wrong to a neighbor. Love, therefore, is the fulfillment of the law.

 (Mat 5:23 HCSB)  So if you are offering your gift on the altar, and there you remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled with your brother, and then come and offer your gift.

 (Mar 11:25 HCSB)  And whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father in heaven will also forgive you your wrongdoing.

 (Luk 17:3-4 HCSB)  Be on your guard. If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him. And if he sins against you seven times in a day, and comes back to you seven times, saying, ‘I repent,’ you must forgive him.”

 (Mat 18:15-17 HCSB)  “If your brother sins against you go and rebuke him in private. If he listens to you, you have won your brother. But if he won’t listen, take one or two more with you, so that by the testimony of two or three witnesses every fact may be established. If he pays no attention to them, tell the church. But if he doesn’t pay attention even to the church, let him be like an unbeliever and a tax collector to you.

 The last verse in Matthew is the hardest for any of us to live up to as it involves a confrontation with the very person we are in disagreement with. Notice confrontation is not the same as combativeness. We are commanded to speak the truth in love. This particular idea of taking more with you to establish a witness and being willing to go before the church is probably the most difficult. This is why I used so many references about forgiveness in the previous scriptures. If we have forgiven our brother and our desire is to have a right standing before the body and before God in his church, we have an obligation to make sure of our motives and the goal is to restore not remove fellowship.

Christians are able to give grace to those who don’t deserve it because we didn’t deserve it either.

 (2 Cor 8:7-9 HCSB)  Now as you excel in everything–in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in all diligence, and in your love for us–excel also in this grace.

I am not saying this as a command. Rather, by means of the diligence of others, I am testing the genuineness of your love. For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ: although He was rich, for your sake He became poor, so that by His poverty you might become rich.

 This verse sets the standard for all of us as believers, to excel in grace! What a calling and opportunity to show what Jesus is really like to those who don’t Him as their Savior. God’s Spirit may be convicting your heart of two things.

 Behavior in our lives that is graceless (critical, unforgiving) toward others.

  1. An apathetic attitude that keeps you from seeking out opportunities (or ignoring the obvious ones) to be a grace giver.

 How do we become a person of grace and what steps could we take to begin praying for the transformation to a grace giver?

 Consider the source of grace: We can all show kindness tot others, but grace originates from God. Don’t assume because you’re a believer you are a person of grace. The key is to allow the Holy Spirit to work I us to produce grace as only he can.

  1. Consider your own need for grace: We need God’s grace every day, and amazingly every day he provides it. Never forget we are sinners saved by grace.
  2. Consider other people’s need for grace: We are far more forgiving of own shortcomings than we are of others faults. If we first consider that those around us need grace just like us we will relate to them differently.
  3. Ask God to fill your heart with grace: We can’t begin to know how deeply hurt the people around us really are and the people that hurt them are with us too. Cheating husbands, terrible fathers and mothers, and generally repulsive behavior by some. How can we be expected to show grace and to forgive? Own our own we can’t! Only God is loving and gracious enough to do that. What we can do is open our hearts to God so He fills us with his love and mercy. Then we can in boldness ask God to forgive that person through you. This appears impossible but with God all  things are possible.
  4. Look for opportunities to share grace: Grace-givers look for opportunities and practical ways to show kindness to others. If we ask the Holy Spirit to free us from our self-centeredness and to bless others through us he’ll provide the person and place.

 Listen to what we say. Meditate on (Mat 12:34 HCSB) Brood of vipers! How can you speak good things when you are evil? For the mouth speaks from the overflow of the heart. A good man produces good things from his storeroom of good, and an evil man produces evil things from his storeroom of evil. I tell you that on the Day of Judgment people will have to account for every careless word they speak. For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned.”

 Take note of our behavior: Meditate on (John 15:14 HCSB) You are My friends if you do what I command you.

 Don’t be satisfied until every part of your life is saturated with grace. Meditate on (Psa 139:23-24 HCSB) Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my concerns.

See if there is any offensive way in me; lead me in the everlasting way.

 Remember grace never gives up on you.

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