The following is a report on the practical applications of Liz Curtis Higgs' new book, Embrace Grace: Welcome to the Forgiven Life, (Waterbrook Press, 2006).
Do you long to experience God’s loving touch, yet don’t think He could ever love someone like you or forgive you for something you’ve done? Have you been trying to earn your way into God’s heart, only to be met with frustration?
Even if you feel like a failure, God looks at you with deep, unconditional love. And He stands with arms outstretched, ready to embrace you if you’ll accept His gift of grace. Here’s how you can embrace God’s grace:
* Embrace doubt. Don’t worry about trying to hide your doubt; God knows about it, and He can handle it. Face your doubt and use it to seek God by asking tough questions. Call out to God even if you’re not sure He’s there, to see if He will respond. Remember that God will always give you a fresh chance at faith – no matter what has happened in your past. Ask God to give you the faith to overcome your fears.
* Embrace faith. Pray for the courage to take a step forward in faith by choosing to trust God – even when you don’t understand how He’s working in your life. Know that the burden of proof lies with God, and He won’t disappoint you. Believe that He will reveal Himself if you genuinely seek Him. As you come to know God more, take more steps of faith to move closer to Him.
* Embrace truth. Crack a Bible open and read it. Think about the words, meditate on them, pray about them, and study them. Invite God to speak to you as you read His Word. Allow His messages to sink deep into your soul and begin to transform you. Remember His promise in Scripture that nothing in all creation will be able to separate you from the love of God in Christ. Rest assured that even if you’ve ignored, offended, or denied God, He still loves you and wants a relationship with you.
* Embrace sin. Don’t deny the reality of your own sin. Understand that any sin – no matter how small it seems – mars your soul and needs to be confessed. Don’t let fear, shame, or guilt about your sin cause you to run away from God. Instead, confess your sins to Him on a regular basis, knowing that when you do, He will lavish you with attention, heal your wounds, and remind you that Christ has already atoned for your sins through His death on the cross. Don’t pretend that you can avoid having to deal with your sin by following rules and trying to live a good life. Recognize that no one can ever be good enough to earn their way to heaven, that all people in our fallen world make mistakes, that you sin every day despite your best intentions, and that you need God’s grace when you sin. Be honest about your failures with some other Christians you trust, confessing your sins to each other, praying for each other, and encouraging each other as part of the healing process.
* Embrace forgiveness. Realize that God deems you worthy of forgiveness – even if you feel like you don’t deserve it. Don’t waste time or energy trying to earn forgiveness, because it’s already available to you at any time, completely for free. Take heart that you can relax in God’s presence because He loves you unconditionally. Understand that He knows everything about you, but nothing can make Him love you any less than He already does. Know that God’s forgiveness isn’t conditional. Simply decide to accept His gift of forgiveness.
* Embrace repentance. Decide to thank God for His love for you by changing direction when you’ve been headed away from God. Turn around and walk back toward God by stopping the sins you’ve confessed and trusting God to help you obey in the future. Rest assured that when you humbly turn away from sin, you’ll experience peace. Ask God to use your repentance to transform you more into the person He wants you to become. Let go of attempts to control your life and be willing to be changed.
* Embrace opportunities to share God’s grace with others. Celebrate the grace God has given you by serving other people who need to discover His grace for themselves. Ask God to use your experiences to help you reach out to others. Keep in mind that your personal weaknesses are often your strongest areas of ministry. Trust that God will not waste any of your pain, but will use it to accomplish good purposes. Have confidence that God has chosen you to follow where He calls, and that He will bless your efforts to bring hope to others. Rely on God’s strength rather than your own, and go about sharing the gift of grace with other people. Forgive others, serve them, refrain from judging them, and view them as God sees them – as people who need His love and truth.
Adapted from Embrace Grace: Welcome to the Forgiven Life, copyright 2006 by Liz Curtis Higgs. Published by WaterBrook Press, a division of Random House, Inc., Colorado Springs, Co.,www.waterbrookpress.com.
Liz Curtis Higgs is the author of 24 books, with three million copies in print, including her nonfiction bestseller, Bad Girls of the Bible, and her fiction bestseller, Thorn in My Heart. An award-winning speaker, Liz has addressed 1,500 audiences in all 50 states and eight foreign countries. She is a columnist for Today’s Christian Woman with her popular feature, “Women in the Word,” and more than 3,500 churches nationwide are using her video Bible study series, Loved by God. Higgs makes her home in Louisville, Ken., with her husband, two teenagers, and too many cats. Her informative Web site can be accessed at www.LizCurtisHiggs.com.