For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is a gift of God. Ephesians 2:8
Grace. It may be the sweetest word I know besides the Word, Jesus.
My daughter's middle name is Grace. When we were naming her, people would ask if she was named after anyone. She is named after the Lord's grace.
We fail. We mess up. We blow it big time at times! I am so thankful for God's grace which covers our failures and gives us room to grow.
This week, we read Chapter 10 in A Confident Heart by Renee Swope, "When Doubt Whispers, 'I Can't Follow God Consistently.'"
I used to be terrified of what others thought of me. I was afraid they would realize I wasn't perfect and then not like me. I use to think I had to pretend I didn't mess up or hide it when I did.
The truth is... we all fall short. So, why all the pretense?
"'My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.'
Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest of me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ's sake. for when I am weak, then I am strong." 2 Corinthians 12:9-10
I am not as spiritual as Paul. I cannot say I take pleasure in my weaknesses. Although, I should take pleasure in them because it is through these weaknesses that I realize my need for Jesus.
Paul said he would rather boast in his weaknesses. He wasn't afraid of what people thought. He knew God would be glorified when people saw his humanness and God's POWER at work in him for overcome his weaknesses. God's strength shines through our weaknesses.
However, Renee points out most prudently that grace is NOT a license to sin.
"Some people ask if grace is a license to sin. A confident woman knows that it's not. Instead, she realized grace is the security of knowing God's love is guaranteed for her because she trusts in Christ. Really understanding His sacrificial gift accomplishes the opposite of granting a license to sin. When we grasp what Jesus did for us, we want to return the gift of His life by offering ours to Him, even if our offering isn't perfect or even perfectly consistent." pg. 187-188.
God knows we are not perfect. He sees us as who He created us to be, not as who we are. He sees the potential in us. If we will allow Him to work in our lives, He will mold us to become all He designed for us to be before the foundations of the world!
Renee uses Gideon in the Bible to demonstrate an example of God's grace in taking someone from weak in themselves to strong and confident in Him. For length sake I won't write the story here, but you can read about Gideon in Judges 6:12 through Judges 7: 25.
"God is not looking for a woman who is perfect. He is looking for a woman who wants to walk with Jesus and find her confidence through her daily dependence on Him." pg. 201
Reflection and Discussion Questions (pgs 201-202):
1. Have you ever blown it and felt like God was ready to give up on you? Do you sometimes doubt God's grace and patience with you? If so, describe what happens and how doubt perpetuates more doubt and distance from God?
2. Sometimes life's hardships make it hard to follow God consistently. Do you ever ask God why life has to be so hard? What did you learn from Gideon's story? How can his experiences about asking why and trusting God's promises help you as you take the next step He may have for you?
3. Have you ever prayed for God to change your circumstances and instead He changed you through your circumstances? If so, describe what happened and how it helped you grow closer to Him.
4. What did you learn about the importance of knowing God intimately and experiencing aspects of His character to build your trust in Him?
5. Describe an area of your life, or role you have, where you feel like a wimp and you want God to make you a warrior. Through dependence on Him, what would it look like for you to be "more than a conqueror through Him who loves you." (Rom. 8:37) in that area or role?
I would love for you to share your thoughts on any or all of these questions in comments.