grace

Let His Grace Teach You

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God knows my heart.

God is a forgiving God.

God will never stop loving me.

All of those statements are true.

He does know your heart.  He knows the heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked.

If you confess your sins, He will forgive you.

Nothing can separate you from His love.

But God gets tired, too  (Hebrews 3:10, CEV).

For 40 years, the children of Israel tested God (Hebrews 3:9) and He was very patient with them.  The Lord went ahead of them in a pillar of cloud to guide them during the day and in a pillar of fire to give them light during the night.  He brought all of them safely through the waters of the Red Sea. No one drowned. He didn’t lose anyone.  He took very good care of them.  God gave them food to eat and water to drink while in a dry place. They all ate the same spiritual food and drank the same spiritual drink.

Yet after all of this, most of them didn’t obey God.  Most of them did not please God. They died in the wilderness. They died before receiving the promise. They never got to where God wanted to take them.  They weren’t defeated by satan.  They were defeated by their own lusts.  It didn’t matter what God did for them.  His miracles, wonders and grace just weren’t enough for them.

They engaged in sexual immorality.  One version of 1 Corinthians 10:8 tells us that some of them sinned with other men’s wives and 23,000 fell dead in one day.  (That’s a lot of people).  Other versions of the bible use such terms as whoredom, fornication and prostitution.  And some of us have done the same things.  We have brought God into conversations that He didn’t want to hear, we have taken Him places that He didn’t want to go and we have done things that He didn’t want to see.  We have put ourselves in situations that were hard to come out of.

Not only has it been said, but it has also been writtenYou shall not tempt the Lord your God  (Matthew 4:7, Luke 4:12; paraphrase).

They tried the Lord’s patience and died from snake bites (1 Corinthians 10:9). They murmured and complained against God and His dealings with them and were destroyed by the angel of death (1 Corinthians 10:10).  They didn’t know His ways and they didn’t want to become acquainted with them.  God never brought them out of Egypt to die in the wilderness, but that’s what they believed.  They said it all the time – and what they believed is what happened.  They wanted everything to come easy and when it didn’t, they gave up.  They didn’t endure during the hard times.

God has brought us out of a lot of things.

The moment you hear His voice, don’t harden your heart.  Don’t be stubborn (Hebrews 3:7-8).  Don’t act like you don’t hear Him.  Whatever the temptation is (and it doesn’t have to be sexual immorality), God will give you a way to escape it.  He will provide you with a way out.  He doesn’t want you to go back in what He brought you out of.  He is able to keep you from falling.  The things that happened to the children of Israel were written so that we would read about them and learn  from them in these last days (1 Corinthians 10:11).  These things were written to warn us.

Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound?  God forbid.  (Romans 6:1-2)

Shall we sin because we are not under the law, but under grace?  (Romans 6:15)

Does this mean that we can go ahead and sin and not worry about the consequences or not worry about who it will affect or hurt later on?  No.  God hasn’t given us grace to continue in sin.  He has given us grace to obey Him.  He has given us grace to repent.  He has given us grace to change.

If our remaining time on this earth is short, then that means our opportunity for doing the Lord’s work is short also.  Don’t continue in sin, don’t tempt the Lord, don’t let anything keep you from doing what the Lord has told you to do and don’t take advantage of (exploit or make unfair use of for your own benefit) His grace, but take full advantage of (make good use) the outcome and opportunities that His grace gives.

His grace not only saves us, but it teaches (to communicate to another the knowledge of that which he was ignorant of) us.

For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, teaches us to deny ungodliness and worldly lusts and to live soberly, righteously and godly in this present world  (Titus 2:11-12; paraphrase).

There Is Nothing Stopping You

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Yesterday morning, I put some of my daughter’s belongings on the floor. When she came into the room, she just stood there like she couldn’t get to the other side. From where I was standing, it looked simple and easy to me. She had a choice to either go around it or go over it, but maybe she couldn’t see this from where she was standing. (Sometimes you have to change your position). When I got tired of her standing there, I finally said, There is nothing stopping you.

Apostle Paul knew what he used to be.  I was once a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent man  (1 Timothy 1:13). And he knew that people didn’t forget what he did.  Lord, these people know that I went from one synagogue to another to imprison and beat those who believe in you  (Acts 22:19). He even consented to Stephen’s death, but he didn’t allow what he used to be to stop him from becoming what he would be.

He was a Pharisee (Acts 26:5), very intelligent and didn’t lack knowledge, but God didn’t want him and He doesn’t want us to be people who study the word, but yet refuse to become what we read about. You study the scriptures diligently because you think that in them you have eternal life. These are the very scriptures that testify of me yet you refuse to come to me to have life  (John 5:39-40).

To many, Paul was a horrible person, but God knew that what he did was out of ignorance and unbelief (1 Timothy 1:13). Inside of Paul was the wheat and tares and God allowed them to grow together, but at the right time He showed mercy and separated them. People may have counted him out, but God counted him faithful, putting him in the ministry (1 Timothy 1:12). After all the awful things he had done to God’s people, Paul didn’t think he deserved to be called an apostle, but by the grace of God I am what I am  (1 Corinthians 15:10).

Are you still trying to figure out what kind of life you should live? Well, God wants you to live a life that pleases Him and that will reveal His Son to others. This is why it’s never good to compare your life with the lives of others or to wish to be someone other than who God created you to be. 2 Corinthians 10:12 tells us that whoever compares themselves to another are without understanding and are not wise. There is nothing wrong with desiring more in life, but those things that you are lusting after doesn’t make you great. You will never find greatness outside of you because it is already in you. Greater is He that is in you.

Comparing can make you feel bad about yourself. It steals your joy. It makes you feel like you’re losing while everyone else is winning. When you don’t know what you should be doing, it’s easy to become angry with those who are doing. Instead of trying to become what you think people want you to be, ask God the same question Paul asked Christ – What will you have me to do?

Comparing also reveals how ungrateful we are and that we really don’t like God’s plan for our lives, but despite how you feel, God still loves you and although you can’t see it right now, His plan for you is good. It’s all about how you see yourself and this is the area that the enemy attacks a lot of us in. He wants you to see yourself as a grasshopper even though there is a Giant in you. You may think that you are a mess or just like my daughter, all you can see is a mess before you, but God can turn your mess into a message. He will give you grace to get to the other side and He will even tell you in bits and pieces how to get there. When Paul asked Jesus what he wanted him to do, Jesus didn’t tell him everything at first. He told him to go to the city and once he obeyed that instruction, then He would tell him what to do next (Acts 9:6). Don’t think God isn’t doing anything. He is doing what He said, but He’s not doing it all at once. He is doing it in stages. Stages are steps of a process. Each step is maturing and developing you and proving you trustworthy and faithful to the call.

Just like Paul, God wants to make you a witness for Him. Do you remember the woman at the well? Many of the Samaritans believed because of her testimony. Yes, the enemy will send things to stop you from becoming what God separated and called you to be, but even what he sends can’t stop you. Sometimes it is what you think about yourself that stops you, but think yourself victorious. You may have failed in certain areas, but you are not a failure. Let your past (even the tares) be a testimony to many that God not only changed you, but He can change them, too. You have a bright future ahead of you because the blood of Jesus has separated you from your past. You know what that means? Not even your past can stop you! So let us thank God that He didn’t erase our future because of our past, but that He erased our past because of our future.

There is nothing stopping you.