"God didn't send me out to collect a following for myself, but to preach the Message of what He has done, collecting a following for Him" (1 Corinthians 1:17)

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Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Live by the Spirit

Scripture to reflect upon for Wisdom Wednesday: Galatians 5:16
Live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature.

Grace is changing my life, and it should change yours, too.

Many criticize the sermons of Joel Osteen and Joseph Prince, claiming their messages of grace makes it all too easy for Christians to do as they please without consequences. This scripture tells it differently; in fact, further down to verse 22 it explains what will happen if we truly allow the Spirit to guide us: “The fruit of the Spirit is love, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith, gentleness and self control.” Self. Control.

Grace doesn’t make our Christian walk a cake walk, it makes it much more manageable. I have been told throughout the last few months of our financial struggle that the reason I haven’t seen the blessing is because of two reasons: 1. I must be doing something wrong; 2. I must have some buried sin in my life that needs to be dealt with. Imagine the heartache I felt knowing that I’m not getting blessed because I’m the problem! There’s no grace in this. There’s no hope, because I can’t do anything on my own. And by struggling to live a good life by my own self-effort, “Christ will be of no value to me at all” (Galatians 5:2).

The blood of Christ COVERS me fully. Not just in one place in my life, but entirely! We tend to forget that. In fact, just yesterday while reading one of my Joyce Meyer devotions, she wrote, “Anything out of order or harmony got that way through disobedience and only obedience can bring it back into harmony.” Huh? I love Joyce, but knowing what I now understand about grace, this makes no sense! Only obedience? How about the Spirit? How about the blood of Jesus? Joseph Prince describes obedience as “not the root, but the fruit” of the Spirit. Too many times we’re being told that our obedience will get us in good with God, just as Joyce described. Truth is, obedience comes through our knowledge that God loves us, not by what we do or don’t do.

My obedience doesn’t bring me closer to God, because He loves me even when I’m sinning. If that’s not true, then 99% of the bible is untrue. Consider when Abraham lied about Sarah being his sister. God cursed the King, not Abraham; and Abraham walked away a blessed and wealthy man. Go back and reread your bible stories. Notice God’s immense grace when His chosen ones sinned. His blessings increased! Now that doesn’t give us free reign to sin, because quite honestly if we did that, then we aren’t truly willing to serve God. Today’s scripture indicates that by walking in the Spirit we will be guided to do what’s right.

Through Christ we have freedom from the Law. We now live entirely under grace. “You who are trying to be justified by the law (by believing YOU must do something to EARN your blessing) are alienated from Christ; you have fallen from grace” Galatians 5:4. I started noticing the blessings began to pour in when my husband and I started praying the Prayer of Jabez (1 Chronicles 4:10). By asking God to use us for His purpose and glory, the floodgates began to fling wide. This wasn’t by anything I did, besides asking God to bless me and use me as He saw fit. And faithfully, everyday He found a way to use me, even as a stay-at-home mom who rarely leaves the house!

Don’t you want to be truly free from the bondage of always trying to earn your favor from God? Let grace cover you. Let grace free you. Let the Holy Spirit lead the way. Because if we’re really doing anything wrong, it’s demeaning the cross by believing we have more power than it holds. Our real sin is minimizing what Christ’s death meant in terms of our sins. Every time we pound ourselves for “sinning,” we are pounding the nails back into His hands on the cross. We tell God, “No, that’s not what you meant. I have to work at this and fix it and do so much work in order for You to love me.”

I spent the last few months “doing” a lot in hopes that God would do something for me in return. How did I ever get that so skewed? All I needed to do was rest and allow God to do it for me through His Spirit.

NOTE TO SELF: Grace doesn’t make you want to sin, it makes you want God more!

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