Accepting His Grace... Every Single Day
Do you ever have trouble accepting the grace of God. accepting His undeserved and unmerited favor? If I am totally honest, I have to say that I struggle with fully accepting God's grace in my daily living.
Now I know full well that I am saved by grace alone through faith alone. I am definitely not trying to work my way into heaven. But, I have a strong tendency to fall into the trap detailed in Galatians 3: "Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?" (Gal. 3:3). That kind of living is called performance-based acceptance. It is one of the devil's chief tools to rob us of the peace and joy found in God's amazing grace.
The encouraging news is that I am not alone in this struggle accepting God's grace on a daily basis. Many who really desire to walk with God fall into the devil's quagmire of performance-based acceptance with God. Author and speaker Jerry Bridges shares in his book on grace (Transforming Grace) that he too tends to default into this merit/demerit system with God. He shares a story that really spoke to my heart.
JERRY BRIDGES STORY
Bridges was scheduled to preach at a church one Sunday morning. Upon his arrival 15 minutes before the service, he found out that a staff member had just died the day before. Bridges' prepared sermon on discipleship was not what the church needed to hear at this particular time. They needed comfort and encouragement, not challenge. Bridges needed to preach a totally different sermon. and he had 15 minutes to come up with one. He said he quickly began to check his merits before asking God for a sermon: Did I have a quiet time this morning? Did I have any lustful thoughts today? Have I told any half-truths? Have I been "good enough" for God to grant this request?
Then he caught himself. Wait a minute! God does not accept me or my prayer based on my good works. He accepts me based on His grace and His grace alone. Bridges prayed, "Lord I come to you today in the name of Jesus and, by His merit alone, ask for your help." God answered His prayer, gave him a sermon and empowered Bridges to minister to the people in His grace.
FROM PRESSURE TO GLORY
When the Christian life depends on you and me, there is such tremendous pressure to perform. and when we fail. UGH!!! The condemnation comes in spades: "What a terrible, horrible person I am. God must be truly disgusted with me. Surely something awful is going to happen to me because God is so disgusted with me." Have you ever thought those thoughts?
Those kinds of thoughts are lies from the enemy. God is never disgusted with His children. He can be displeased with our actions, but, by His grace, He is always accepting of us and pleased with us BECAUSE WE ARE IN HIS SON (Eph. 1:6).
You see, when we get saved (initially receive God's grace), the Lord does not give us a clean slate. He breaks the slate in a million pieces. All our sins are paid for - past, present and future. By His grace, they have been taken away and nailed to His cross (Col. 2:14). God does not keep a record of our sins anymore since He already declared they were "PAID IN FULL!"
Now to be sure, grace does not give us a license to sin and do whatever we want. We do not continue in sin that grace may abound. God's grace purchased us. We have been bought with the price of His blood. and we no longer belong to ourselves, we belong to Jesus. And whether we eat or drink or do whatever, we are to do all to His glory, in His glorious strength (1 Cor. 6:19-20, 10:33).
I hope you will join me in consciously living each day by the truth of His grace. It is certainly amazing and frees us to live in great joy, peace and power. Believe it and receive it!
Jeff Schreve is Senior Pastor of First Baptist Church in Texarkana, Texas. He and his wife Debbie have been married for over 20 years and are blessed with three wonderful girls. Jeff began From His Heart Ministries, a radio and television ministry, in January of 2005. This ministry is completely listener/viewer supported. It continues only through the faithful and generous gifts of people like you. Pastor Jeff takes no salary from this ministry. All gifts go to further the broadcast.