Living In Grace

Tired of feeling guilty for not being good enough? Jesus is good enough, and that’s good enough. Jesus talked about the Pharisees putting burdens on people and I think the modern day church has done that too. We need to remove a sense of failure from God’s people, and learn to live in grace.

Well meaning preachers have said things, and we have carried an unhealthy sense of responsibility for our lives. I remember one well-meaning preacher saying that a particular year was a crucial year of timing for many people, and if they didn’t hit the mark that year they would miss their destiny in God. That just put us all in a whole lot of fear! That’s not living in grace! I think God is bigger than that, and His plan for us is more gracious than that. If we get off track, God can get us back again. We don’t have to live our lives in straight-jackets of fear. Grace can get you back again.

Grace is what gets you back on track

Grace is what gets you to where you should be, before you went off track. I have the helper, the Holy Spirit who is my guide, my counsellor and personal trainer. If I get off track, I can get back on track again, because He knows the way. Man was born into a lost state. If we get found and then get lost again, can’t God find us again, and help us get back on track?

Kathryn Kuhlman was the greatest healing evangelist of the twentieth century, and she got off track and got back on track again. David was a man after God’s own heart and he got off track with God but found mercy and got back with God again. So can you.

I used to feel guilty for not praying enough, and I asked a colleague of mine how much time he spent in prayer. He said, somewhat regretfully, “Not enough.”

Well, if someone asks me that question now, do you know what I say? “As much as I want to!” How do you measure a love relationship (which is what prayer is) by the number of appointments you keep? When I fell madly in love with my wife, I wanted to be with her ALL the time.

And the Bible encourages us to pray without ceasing. I talk to God all through the day… because He is with me. Emmanuel. I understand the need for putting aside set times for seeking God, but have we reduced a love relationship to time that we clock in and clock out of?

I prefer to live as much as possible in unbroken communication with the Holy spirit throughout the day. Not because it’s something I’m supposed to do, but because God is such a neat person to hang out with.

God is with us to hell and back. David said, “though I descend into the deepest part of hell, thou art with me.” I love the picture of one pair of footsteps in the sand, with the caption, “That is when I carried you.

Take God with you. He is already with you. He is as close as He’s going to get, but I mean lean into an awareness of His presence. Practice realising that He is with you.

I’m going to learn to work smarter not harder. There is so much to do, and unless Emmanuel comes to the party it isn’t going to get done. Instead of trying so hard, I’m going to let God get the job done through me.

Labouring more abundantly by grace

The wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God.” I don’t where this verse is in the Bible but it’s there. Look it up yourself if you want to know!

Do you know where all the main verses are in the Bible? That’s another guilt trip that quite frankly I’m just tired of. I would rather the verses were in my heart than know where they are in the Bible. I know where they are when I need them, they live inside me.

In 1 Corinthians 15:10 Paul says, “I laboured more abundantly than them all, yet not I, but the grace of God that dwells in me.” There is a labouring that comes from a place of grace and rest in God. It comes from a place of knowing that it is a finished work. He who began a good work in me is able to complete it. He chose me, I didn’t choose Him. He is the alpha and omega. He seeks that which has already passed by. God has already approved my works. (Eccl)

Legalism tries to get you to work hard to get something fixed that God has already finished, and that is not going to produce the fruit of the kingdom in your life. I’m still experimenting with this... here are a few examples of how to live by grace.

Grace for living – overcoming bad attitudes

How do you overcome anger? Try harder? Try to be patient? Stop thinking about it? Bite your tongue? Listening to sermons on anger? No. By listening to sermons on grace. We stop being angry when we realise that God is not angry with us. It’s a finished work. Anger has finished. When we get the full revelation that God is not angry with us, we receive His love, and patience, we receive His mercy and graciousness, and we just become those things and in turn pass it on to others. That’s how simple it is to be living the grace life.

How do you overcome bad attitudes? Stop judging people’s responses.
I refuse to judge another person’s response to something I said or did. I’m going to love mercy. I’m going to send the offense away. I don’t really know what that person is feeling. I don’t know what pain they are speaking out of right now. I don’t know what hurt in their past has triggered that response. I simply do not have the wisdom, the understanding or the tools to deal with that, so I’m not even going to try. I’m certainly not going to judge them for it. I’m going to send it away, like it didn’t happen.

People really do love each other, they just lack the skills to communicate effectively when there is a misunderstanding.

God loves me, and is not angry with me. Just that one simple revelation will change us. God spoke to me once and said, “Why don’t you try being a nice person.” I didn’t feel like I was a very nice person so I treated everybody else the way I felt about myself. Don’t marry someone who has a poor self image, they can make life very difficult for you.

I didn’t feel accepted, I felt under pressure, always striving, and passed it on to my kids. I didn’t realise it, but I was still living under judgement. It was like, “Here comes God, and He’s mad at me.” Do you know when I realised that? When my kids told me. They told me that every time I showed up they had a mild panic attack that went something like this: “Here comes Dad. Here comes trouble. What have I done wrong? What haven’t I put away that I should have? What chores have I left undone? Is my room tidy?”

That’s not living under grace! What a terrible way for people to feel about you when you show up! When we realise that we are loved, we are free to pass that on to our kids. Dad’s, the best thing you can do for your children, is love their mother.

Most people in prison, have not had a good father. Some of them haven’t had a father at all. Don’t judge them. If you grew up without a father you’d be there too. But they have this concept that they are bad people, so they live out that belief. Someone has to tell these people that God loves them, and they are good people. Sometimes good people do silly things. But when they do, they are still good people, just having a silly moment. That’s not who I am.

I watched a video clip on a TV program (David Letterman Show, and it’s fairly popular on youtube too) where a mother was singing to her baby, and the song went through different moods, and the camera showed the changing expressions on the baby’s face. There were moments of joy that changed to sadness, and the baby’s face expressed it all. The baby was simply reflecting the emotions of the mother. And we have got to feel loved, if we are going to love others.

A lot of anger comes from fear. People are afraid and they respond with anger. Husbands and wives talk angrily with each other because they are afraid they aren’t accepted or loved, or misunderstood. If they stopped for a minute and thought, “hang on, I’m loved in this relationship”, then it would take a lot of the fear out, and consequently the anger.

Calling things that are not as though they are

Here’s a new take on the verse, “Calling things that are not as though they are.”

Start calling your life a finished work.
Call your righteousness a finished work.
Call your ministry, your marriage, parenting, job seeking .. a finished work. Take all the striving out.

“God is with me. I’ve got the helper living inside me. Everything’s going to be alright.”

He didn’t bring us this far, to leave us
He didn’t teach us to swim to let us drown
He didn’t build his home in us to move away
He didn’t lift us up to let us down (2)
Song written by Phil Johnson

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Finding Forgiveness

Showing Mercy and Grace to Others

Your grace is enough

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