As I think more about Grace, I'm seeing that I need to accept the Grace given to me and then extend that Grace to others! But why is that soooooo hard???? Well I think that it's hard to accept God's Grace because we hold on so tightly to our failures, sins, excuses, etc. We refuse God's forgiveness and in doing so we tell ourselves that we don't deserve that forgiveness or Grace. I picture this like a heavy cloak that represents sin, regret, fear or whatever we claim over ourselves. That cloak hangs on a hook in our room and every single day we choose to put that cloak of shame on, we cover up all that Jesus died on the cross for with that heavy, dark cloak of lies. We don't even see His grace or forgiveness.
I, for one, am tired of wearing that ugly thing....it's not attractive, it's heavy and wears me out and let's be honest....it doesn't match anything!!!!! Seriously though, wouldn't you agree that the weight of the sin that you carry wears you out, that it gets difficult to carry day after day and you get tired of seeing it?? It doesn't match the amazing, life changing work of the Cross!! Let's take a look at the differences between the two:
The Cross say that I am: The Cloak says that I am:
And that's just a few....You get the picture, yes?? If we cannot take off the cloak, we cannot receive His grace! If we cannot receive His grace, we cannot extend His grace to others!! So we must allow God to start the transforming work in our hearts, minds and lives, so that we can do what we were made to do!! Imitate God!!
In Sunday School this week, we looked at 1 Corinthians 13 and really broke down this love chapter. Everything, every.single.thing, comes down to love!! If I don't love myself, I cannot accept His grace for me, If I don't love myself, I cannot love others and therefore cannot extend grace outward either!
Let's quickly look at verses 4-8
"Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not dlight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails."
I am often impatient with myself, I am often unkind. I have a problem with envy, boasting and pride. I am rude to myself, in those moments I am self-seeking, angry and count my wrongs. There are even times when I delight in evil.....I think that looks like the times when I make a mistake or fail something and then that part of me laughs and says "yep, of course you did". I don't keep myself protected from the enemy as I should, I don't always trust in God, I lose hope and I want to quit.
I don't know about you, but all of those are in complete disagreement with 1 Corinthians 13:4-8. If we replace the word "love" in those verses with the name of Jesus, or even our own name, it takes on a clearer image! (for sake of time and space, I combined the two)
"Jesus is patient, Jesus is kind. He does not envy, He does not boast, He is not proud. Lorraine is not rude, she is not self-seeking, she is not easily angered, and she keeps no record of wrongs. Lorraine does not delight in evil but rejoices with the Truth. Lorraine always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Jesus never fails."
Try it for yourself, that is, if you struggle with this like I do. It's time that we get down to the nitty gritty of our lives and really work out our salvation!! We must demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. 2 Corinthians 10:5 There's another version that says "vain imaginations"......are you a story maker?? Ohhh I am, for sure!!! I love to create an entire scene of what I think will happen......most times, all times, I am completely off base. I need to take those vain imaginations captive and force obedience to Christ!!
We are on a battlefield.....Jesus died to give us His grace and forgiveness....who are we to refuse that? I leave you with Big Daddy Weave and "I am redeemed"! Let the words soak in and let's see if we can't start receiving His Grace today friends!!!! We'll do this again next Wednesday!! Be sure to come back!!
God Bless <3 Lorraine