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I am sharing another excerpt from the book, “Signs of Hope: Ways to Survive in an Unfriendly World. ” It talks about the grace of God, and how we sometimes ignore it and feel we are doing fine on our own. Dr. Phil might ask, “How is that working for you?
The book, “Signs of Hope: Ways to Survive in an Unfriendly World,” is on sale on this site. In the bookstores it is $19.99, but here it is only $15.99, and the shipping has been cut in half. A total savings of over $6.00.
Grace, Oversight and Direction
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
As I have grown in my Christian faith, I have seen some disturbing trends in Christianity. One that particularly disturbs me is that we have so many what I call “Sunday Christians.” Oh sure, they’re in church on Sunday—they even may teach a Sunday school class or usher or be the preacher—but on Monday they go back to telling their raciest jokes, padding their expense accounts, cutting corners in business deals and doing things that would make even the average pagan blush.
They attend church on Sunday and then disgrace themselves—and their Savior—the rest of the week. Saying someone is a Christian just because he goes to church is the same as saying you’re a hamburger just because you eat hamburgers! (Yes, this is a bumper sticker that I used earlier. You are very sharp!)
I read a book called “What’s So Amazing About Grace?” by Philip Yancey.1 He is a wonderful writer who doesn’t pull any punches and goes directly to the heart of the matter on any subject. He talks about people who avoid grace.
Grace is one of the most important things God has provided for us. He showed His own tremendous grace by sending His only Son down to earth to die for us.
But people avoid grace because grace brings about change. It causes them to live righteous lives. It causes them to love their neighbor. It causes them to give their hearts away to God. It causes them to give up their sinful desires for power and lust. And, frankly, some people don’t want that kind of change in their lives because it totally rearranges their lives.
We see these people in our churches. They have an outer face of love and grace, but on the inside they are greedy and selfish, and wonder what they can do to help themselves look more important. They come because it is the proper thing to do, and it makes them look good in their community.
Experiencing true grace is seen in the account of the prodigal son. He knew he was wrong. He knew that he had wasted all his inheritance. He was ashamed of everything he had done. The only thing that saved him was his father’s grace. He realized he needed to go back to his father and ask for forgiveness, hoping (no, knowing) his father would extend grace.
The truly gracious person was the father. Instead of turning his back on his wayward son (which he had every right to do), he ran toward his son with tears in his eyes, embraced his son and welcomed him home. He even had the best calf in his herd slaughtered to celebrate the occasion.
However, the brother of the prodigal son hated him because of the disgrace he had caused the family. He was livid that the father accepted him back without punishing him. His hatred and envy were not very far below the surface of what probably looked wholesome and loving.
Think of the prodigal son’s father as our God and how He will accept us back no matter what wrong we have done. His grace is every day. He loves us seven days a week, twenty-four hours a day—not just on Sundays.
Not only does God extend His grace to us in providing salvation and welcoming us into His family, there are two other things He wants to do for us—the last two things in the acrostic at the beginning of this chapter: He wants to provide oversight and direction in our lives. Those are things we must give Him permission to do for us.
We can accept His salvation and then decide we’ll simply go on with life, using our own intuition and “smarts” in plotting the course of our lives. But that’s not very smart. He has a so much wiser plan for our lives. It’s in our best interest to turn that part of our lives over to Him as well.
God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.
2 Corinthians 9:8
If you were given grades for your commitment to going to church, helping others, or loving God, what would those grades be? (I love giving out grades since I once was a teacher.) Would you get an “F” for going to church? Have you decided there is no way that going to church can make a difference in your life? Do you think that you can grow spiritually on your own? What about helping others? What grade would you receive for giving to the poor, or helping a homeless family?
Now for the most important grade that will help you pass your requirements to go to heaven: How much do love and serve God? Are you a non-believer? Are you an occasional churchgoer who believes in God but doesn’t seek to grow? Are you a dedicated Christian who seeks more knowledge about God and tries to help others to do the same?
Think on this: Study up on the real meaning of life by reading the Bible. Learn how to be compassionate to others in their time of need. Place God first in your life, and be in fellowship with others who have also put God first in their lives. Then you’ll be in line for the final BA (Bible of Advancement) degree that will advance you into heaven.
Something to Ponder
Isn’t it funny that when we show grace enough to help others shine, we begin to shine ourselves?