Friday, June 30, 2006

The Grace We've Been Given

by Donna L. Watkins

© Donna L. Watkins - Male House Finch
I've had a wrong perspective during my life of how I was supposed to handle the battles in my life, and what God was supposed to do for me. I grew up as a Daddy's girl and it's been easy for me to see God as a good God. I know many have a deep pain because they didn't have good earthly fathers and that affects how they see God.

However, even for those who had good relationships with their fathers, there is still a warped view of who God is. Since my Daddy would give me anything he could and was always there to fix things for me, I saw God as replacing him in those roles. My daddy died in 1986, so I expected God to take care of everything for me just like my earthly dad did.

I wasn't prepared to have to fight my own battles with the strength that was left behind for me and with the power that I received because I accepted Jesus as my Savior. I simply wanted my "Heavenly Daddy" to do it all for me.

Consider these excerpts from a sermon I heard not too long ago:

Jude 3 - "... I felt I had to write and urge you to contend (fight) for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints." Our goal is not only to contend for the faith delivered to the early church, but also to actually attain it.

When it comes to contending for the calling of God and pursuing His destiny for your life and ministry - I know of two "rules" that must be understood:

1) The sovereignty of God (sovereignty = free of external control)

2) The grace of God (grace = the ability & desire to do what you should do)

Nobody can change your destiny and purpose in life except you! The devil can't do it. God will only use it for good when the devil messes with you. Romans 8:28 promises that. Other people can't ruin your life unless you let them. Remember how hard Joseph's brother tried to get rid of him and what it all turned out to be? (Read Genesis 37-41)

There are many ways to look at a situation. You can get bitter or you can get better. This story illustrates two views of the same situation:

A man had the idea to expand his business and put a shoe factory in a rather "wild" part of Australia. He put in a call to two contacts that he knew nearby to ask for their thoughts. He received a call from one of them and the guy said, "No way! Don't even consider it. These people don't wear shoes, so there is no need, therefore the demand is not there. Cancel all plans!" He hung up and before he could even think about that, the second guy called. He said, "Wow! What a great idea! These people don't even have shoes, the demand is great! How soon can you get production started?"

Do you remember the story of Peter in Luke when Jesus tells him that Satan has asked for permission to sift him as wheat, but He has prayed that his faith would not fail? Peter responded that he would go to prison or even die with Jesus. Of course, we know the end to that story. Do you think that maybe it was pride that opened the doorway for Satan to be allowed to "sift" Peter?

Do you notice that Jesus didn't take the situation away from Peter? He didn't tell the devil to leave. He prayed for Peter's faith not to fail. Jesus lives at the right hand of the Father to intercede for us. He is praying the same thing for us in thess battles we face in life - that our faith will not fail!

Remember the lame man beside the pool of Bethesda? Jesus asked him if he wanted to be healed? What would you say if Jesus asked you that today? I'd scream "Yes!" The guy began listing off the reasons why he hadn't been healed ... maybe he was saying why it was "impossible" to be healed. He had been sick for 38 years. That's a long time. How much hope did he have left to even come to lay beside the pool waiting for that stirring. God told him to take up his bed and walk. He took some faith and added a bit of responsibility and was healed.

Are we waiting for Him to do it for us? I love miracles. Instant and easy! Some are waiting for a miraculous healing, for the greatest job, for a good break, for the right person. This attitude doesn't take our part into consideration. We have been given grace to accomplish whatever our heart desires.

Let's ask ourselves these questions and take an honest look inside of what our true expectations are:

Q - What "lameness" are you suffering from today?

Q - What "stirring of the water" are you depending on with regard to your healing or personal destiny?

Q - Are you "surrendering" to sovereignty or grace?

Q - Are you willing to "receive by faith" the grace that God would extend to you?

Q - What is Jesus commanding you to do? What is necessary for you to "pick up" in order to fulfill the plan God has for your life?

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