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Turning Up Grace And Obedience

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By: Megan Evans

I’ve often struggled with reconciling the relationship of grace and obedience.

I look at a particular sin in my life and flippantly think, “Oh, God’s grace covers that!” Or I look at what I have been sacrificing and think, “I bet God is proud of this!”

Within minutes of those exact thoughts, though, I look at that specific sin and think, “There is not enough grace in the world to cover this.” I look at what I have been sacrificing and think, “This can never be enough.”

When does this dissonance end? The better question to ask is, “In whom does this dissonance end?” Jesus Christ.

In Union with Christ, Wilbourne explains that we need to hear both grace and demand at full volume.

We need to hear Ephesians 2:8-9, that we have been saved by grace and not works. We need to remind ourselves of this daily. Hourly.

No sin can take us too far gone for God to love us. And there is nothing on earth we can do that could ever take away our need for dependence on him. Wilbourne says,

“Therefore, the remedy to our deepest wound and the antidote to Satan’s most venomous lie is a sure and certain confidence in the goodness of God toward us. Only those who believe in his grace will have the power to obey him.”

Where does this obedience part fit? “Only those who believe in his grace will have the power to obey him.” But I thought it was just grace alone that gave me faith? Hebrews 12:14 says, “Without holiness, no one will see the Lord.” Wilbourne contends,

“…because we are prone to excuse ourselves with the consolations of grace, and because we are awash in a sea of consumerism that leads us to define the gospel mainly in terms of the practical benefits it brings us, and because we can be given to sloth – we need to hear these voices that turn the call to follow Christ all the way up to full volume. Undiluted. The only way to know God is to follow him.”

Receiving grace and the benefits of sins washed clean requires faith. I have to believe that I am a sinner saved by grace. But because I believe in Christ, I believe that he is still making me new and that I still need him to turn from sin.

I can’t do this without obedience. I can’t worship a God because I am thankful for what he did for me in the past. No, I worship him by obeying because I am grateful for what he is continuing to do in my life.  

We can’t do both on our own, though. We can’t live up to the standards of obedience God calls us to. We can’t give ourselves enough grace to cover our sins.

The joining of 100% grace and 100% obedience is met in the person of Jesus Christ. And because of Christ living, dying, resurrecting for us, and sending his Spirit, we now are in union with him.

Union with Christ means “the work of Christ for us cannot be separated from the person of Christ in us (Wilbourne). He didn’t die an arbitrary death; he died so that he could be working in us with us.

Because of our union with Christ, obedience no longer feels like something we can’t reach. Grace no longer feels like something we can’t obtain. We can turn toward him, run to him, and be a part of what he has done and is doing.

Our sins are fully paid for by grace. We have all the power we need in Christ to continue to turn from sins toward Godliness: obedience. We have Christ dwelling in us.

“Our union with Christ is real but invisible. We must use “the eyes of [our] hearts” (Eph 1:18) to look not at what is seen, but what is unseen (2 Cor. 4:18). When temptation comes, you can say, “That’s not who I am anymore. I’m in Christ and Christ is in me. Christ, help me to be the person I am in you – by grace” (Wilbourne).

Posted by Megan Evans with

Grace In Parenting

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By Debi Russell

Parenting often feels so strange and foreign- like waking up in a new world without a roadmap.

I remember a hard season when I had two teenage boys and one ten-year-old girl; trying to figure out how much to let go, how much to reign in and what in the world was happening to family dinner times?!

In the midst of that strange new parenting world, I found myself unsure and unsteady in my role; failing at times, other times merely trying to navigate the tension of kids growing up expressing more independence.

I'm on my third teenager now, and while there is less unknown, there are still times I find myself longing to know the next right step to take in helping her grow.

It is in these times God's grace for me (and my kids!) comes through in little glimpses of His work and promises of His continued work through his word.

In the Old Testament God gave His children a very literal portion of provision, manna, like food on a daily basis during their wandering in the wilderness phase.

I'm presuming Moses shared some of my feelings about being in a new and uncharted place as they wandered around trying to find the promised land. God gave them this manna for nourishment, on a practical level. But on a deeper level, it was a way of reminding them that they were utterly dependent on Him to survive. Because let's face it, you cannot make food fall from the sky! 

So every day, God provided His grace to sustain His children in the form of manna on the ground for them to collect and prepare meals for their families. The only caveat was each person could only gather enough to feed their family for the day. Not for a week, or month. In fact, if they took more than one day's worth, it would rot.

God knew the tendency to be fearful about the future and try to create false security in stockpiling was very real, so he provided a way to keep His children from indulging that fear.

If we look for it as parents, we can see God still offers daily provision for us today.

In Matthew 6:11 Jesus teaches us to pray for "daily bread" much like God provided for His children in the desert. While this certainly implies God to provide for our physical needs, this prayer can also include asking God to give the daily wisdom, patience, creativity, strength, and peace we need in loving and leading our kids.

Just like the Israelites were often fearful God would not keep providing, we too must wrestle with believing God is working in us to give us what we need as parents. In those moments, going back to both His expressed promises such as 2 Peter 1:3, and His faithful character shown throughout scripture can encourage us.

Equally helpful is seeing how God provides others in our community who have gone before us in parenting and can give us wisdom or who can be another loving adult to help invest in our child. Looking back I see so many different teachers, youth leaders and family members God provided for my kids, just when they needed that person.

Situations I could not have orchestrated- simply good Manna for my kids from God himself. And finally, not every day, but some days God gives us little moments, where the seeds we have been sowing into our children's lives bear fruit and seeing the changes or choices made in the right direction are also an encouragement that God is at work through me in and my kids. 

These little glimpses into the unseen work of God sustain me.

When parenting involves discipline, and I feel the loss of closeness to my children in their anger, they help me to remember why I keep at it.

When I fail and wonder if my children will be completely screwed up by my mistakes, they remind me that God is sustaining them too. When I wonder what it will be like in the future, I am reminded to only ask for enough for today, because today is all I am promised, and trying to secure the future will pull me away from my Sustainer into Self-Sufficiency.

I find great comfort in knowing God promises to provide my parenting manna are not dependent on my faith in Him or performance as a mom, but on His faithful and loving character as my Good Father.

Posted by Debi Russell with

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