Five Ways To Relax In Gods Grace

“Be careful that no one fails to receive God’s grace.”Hebrews 12:15

How do you learn to “R.E.L.A.X.” in the liberating grace of God?

R—Realize nobody’s perfect.
Psalm 119:96 is a verse directed toward God, and it declares, “Nothing is perfect except your words”. What society tells you isn’t perfect. What popular opinion tells you isn’t perfect. What you learned growing up isn’t perfect. But God’s Word is perfect. When you get in the Bible and build your life on it, you will have a perfect foundation.

E—Enjoy God’s unconditional love.
The Bible says, “See how very much our heavenly Father loves us, for he allows us to be called his children—think of it—and we really are!” (1 John 3:1). When you become a follower of Christ, you take on a role of service to him—but you’re more than a servant! The Bible says you become a child of the King. A servant is accepted on the basis of what he does; a child is accepted on the basis of who he is. A servant starts the day anxious and worried that her work will please her master; a child rests in the secure love of her family. A servant is accepted because of his workmanship; a child is accepted because of his relationship.

L—Let God handle things.
What do you do about the uncontrollable things in life? “Cast all your anxiety on [God] because he cares for you” (1 Peter 5:7). When you’re fishing and you cast a line, there comes a point where you have to take your finger off the button and let it go. Just like the essence of casting is letting go, to overcome perfectionism you have to let go and let God do his work.

A—Act in faith, not fear.
Remember how you got into God’s family in the first place. Ephesians 2:8 says, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith”. Grace is the only way to get into heaven. You’ll never be good enough, and you can’t buy your way in. It’s a free gift from God.

X—Exchange your perfectionism for God’s peace.
Perfectionism destroys peace. Jesus says in Matthew 11:28-29, “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest . . . Learn the unforced rhythms of grace”. What a deal!

You’re going to fail a lot in life. But you don’t have to worry about it if you’ve received God’s grace. In fact, there’s only one failure you ever need to worry about: “Be careful that no one fails to receive God’s grace” (Hebrews 12:15). Receive it right now, and then relax!

God Provides On The Way To The Miracle

My God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:19

Waiting for a miracle can be hard. Sometimes the road is cold, dark, and lonely; you may even find yourself stuck in a rut. You may not know where you’re going or how long the journey will take.

No matter where you are on the way to your miracle, here are some things you need to remember:

God is all you need.
You don’t need a big bank account, a full refrigerator, or even a job. If God wants to, he can have ravens drop food on you as his way of providing. That’s how he provided for the prophet Elijah, who was exhausted and burned-out in the desert; you can read about it in 1 Kings 17. When God turns off one source of provision, he can turn on another just as easily. You can trust him for all you need.

Where God guides, God provides.
After sending the ravens to feed Elijah, God told him to make a dangerous trip to Zarephath. There was a drought in Zarephath and very little food. Yet God provided for Elijah through a poor widow with a generous heart. When God tells you to go somewhere, go immediately. When God tells you to do something, do it right away. When God gives you direction, he will provide what you need to get there.

You must trust him one day at a time.
Why? Because some of your problems persist day after day. For instance, if you have financial problems, you’ll have to deal with them every day. And so we must trust God one day at a time to provide. The Bible says, “My God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:19).

God’s promises work when you’re obedient.
God often lays out his plan just one step at a time. He wants you to take the first step in obedience, and then he’ll show you the next step. Each step along the way may not seem logical, but you can obey in faith and confidence, knowing God’s way is always best.

The Uncomfortable Path to a Miracle

Then the LORD spoke his word to Elijah, ‘Go to Zarephath in Sidon and live there. I have commanded a widow there to take care of you.’ So Elijah went to Zarephath.” 1 Kings 17:8-10

Sometimes you’re scared to death and vulnerable. You don’t know where you’re going, how long it’s going to take, or what’s going to happen when you get there. So what do you do?

You remember that the path to a miracle often goes through uncomfortable territory.

The Bible gives an illustration in 1 Kings 17:8-10: “Then the Lord spoke his word to Elijah, ‘Go to Zarephath in Sidon and live there. I have commanded a widow there to take care of you.’ So Elijah went to Zarephath”.

God’s instructions meant that Elijah would have to walk more than 100 miles during a drought through dangerous territory. Everyone he met would know who he was—and King Ahab had a price on his head. Elijah’s path was definitely an uncomfortable one.

When Elijah finally made it to Zarephath, he met a poor widow who was going to feed him. But the town still was full of pagan people who wouldn’t hesitate to kill him. How could the widow defend or protect him?

Miracles don’t happen when things are comfortable. Miracles happen when things are uncomfortable.

Elijah didn’t say, “God, there are three things wrong with this plan. One, you’re sending me in the wrong direction. Two, you’re sending me to the wrong location. And three, you’re sending me to the wrong protection.”

Elijah just obeyed.

God’s path to a miracle often takes you through uncomfortable territory so you’ll learn to depend on him. It was true for Elijah and for God’s people throughout the Bible. For instance:

  • When Moses led the Israelites out of slavery to the Promised Land, they had to go through the Red Sea first.
  • Before David could slay Goliath, he had to walk onto the battlefield.
  • God told Jehoshaphat to put the choir before the army, and he’d win the victory. How much faith do you think that took?

Miracles never happen in your comfort zone. When everything is settled in your life, you don’t need a miracle. You only need a miracle when you’re at a low.

Are you at a place where things are a little uncomfortable—financially, emotionally, relationally, or physically? Maybe you’re nervous, unsettled, or insecure. Congratulations. You’re on the path to a miracle!

On your uncomfortable path, follow the example of Elijah. Obey God so you can see his miracle at the end of the road.

How Does God’s Grace Get You Through?

My purpose in writing is to encourage you and assure you that what you are experiencing is truly part of God’s grace for you. Stand firm in this grace.” 1 Peter 5:12

You’ll face many pitfalls in the marathon of life. But regardless of what you go through, you can count on God’s sustaining grace.

The Bible says in 1 Peter 5:12, “My purpose in writing is to encourage you and assure you that what you are experiencing is truly part of God’s grace for you. Stand firm in this grace”.

There are three times in life when it will be easy for you to stumble, to get cast off to the side of the race, and to not finish well. But in each of these situations, God’s sustaining grace will get you through it.

God’s sustaining grace helps you keep standing when you’re tempted. Temptation is the first thing that can cause you to stumble. The Bible says, “God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure” (1 Corinthians 10:13).

God says, “I will provide the sustaining grace to always give you a way of escape.” That way of escape may mean turning the television channel. It may mean running out the door. It may mean changing the way you’re thinking. But God will provide a way to escape temptation.

God’s sustaining grace helps you keep standing when you’re tired. Sometimes you’re not tempted. Sometimes you’re just tired! Life is often exhausting. It requires a lot of energy, especially when you’re trying to do the right thing rather than the easy thing.

But where do you get the power to do the right thing when you’re dead tired? “It is God who enables us, along with you, to stand firm for Christ. He has commissioned us, and he has identified us as his own by placing the Holy Spirit in our hearts” (2 Corinthians 1:21-22). Having the Holy Spirit in your heart gives you the energy to do the things you can’t do in your own power.

God’s sustaining grace gives you the power to keep going when you’re troubled.There are some hurts that all the wishing in the world won’t make go away. Some things in life are unplanned, unrelenting, and undeserved—and they hurt the most.

What do you do in those situations? You first stop doing the “if only” game and instead focus on Christ and his sustaining power. Isaiah 41:10 says, “Don’t worry, because I am with you. Don’t be afraid, because I am your God. I will make you strong and will help you; I will support you with my right hand that saves you”

Remember that you’re never alone in life and never without hope. Whether you’re tempted, tired, or troubled, you can count on God’s sustaining grace to uphold you.

How Do You Keep a Clear Conscience?

What happiness for those whose guilt has been forgiven! What joys when sins are covered over! What relief for those who have confessed their sins and God has cleared their record.” Psalm 32:1-2

Feeling guilty or ashamed can cause us to lose our happiness. You’ve got to get rid of guilt and maintain a clear conscience if you want to be happy, because you cannot feel guilty and be happy at the same time.

Philippians 2:15 says, “Live clean, innocent lives as children of God, shining like bright lights in a world full of crooked and perverse people”.

You might say, “I’d like to be happy, but how do I keep my conscience clear when it’s not clear right now?” Do what Psalm 32:1-2 says: “What happiness for those whose guilt has been forgiven! What joys when sins are covered over! What relief for those who have confessed their sins and God has cleared their record”.

Happiness, joy, and relief are three things everybody’s looking for in life. We all want to be happy. We all want to enjoy life. We all want relief from our pain. The Bible says it all comes from purity, and purity comes from forgiveness through God’s grace.

So how do you keep a clear conscience?

At the beginning and at the end of every day, do a spiritual inventory. Talk to God about anything that is standing between you and him, and then deal with the junk from your day.

When we confess our sins, “he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).

Understanding That God Is On Your Side

God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him.” Philippians 2:13.

No matter what you’re going to face this next week, you won’t face it alone. God is with you, he is in you, and he is for you.

Philippians 2:13 says, “God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him”.

“God is working in you.” The word “working” in Greek is the word energos, from which we get our word “energy.” God is the energy driver in your life. You’re not just going on willpower. You’re not just going on your own power. God says he will give you the power you need, no matter what you’re facing.

Not only is he in you, he also is with you. The Bible says, “I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you . . . On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you” (John 14:18, 20). That’s quite a promise! The Bible says Christ is in you, you’re sheltered with Christ, and you’re sealed with the Holy Spirit. That means for the Devil to get to you, he’s got to get through the Trinity! That’s pretty good protection and a great fear reliever.

Not only is God with you and in you, God is also for you. Romans 8:31 says, “If God is for us, no one can defeat us”.

When a shepherd leads the sheep, guard dogs stay at the back, nipping at the sheep to keep them moving in the right direction.

The Bible says the guard dogs in your life are God’s goodness and mercy. God gives you the things you don’t deserve—that’s his goodness. And he doesn’t give you the things you do deserve—that’s his mercy.

Get up every morning and say, “God, thank you that you’re going to be with me today, you’re going to be in me today, and you’re going to be for me today.”

Isn’t that great news? God is with you, God is in you, and God is for you.

Want To Be Happy? Choose Mercy

“A merciful person helps himself, but a cruel person hurts himself.”Proverbs 11:17

God set up the world with universal principles. One of those principles is that the more you help other people, the more you will succeed and the happier you will be. Happiness doesn’t come from living for yourself. Happiness comes from giving your life away and being merciful.

Proverbs 11:17 says, “A merciful person helps himself, but a cruel person hurts himself”. That’s another one of those universal principles: You get what you sow in life.

The greatest example of this in the Bible is the story of Job, who lost literally everything—his health, family, job, and wealth. His friends came to him in his greatest hour of need. But did they show him mercy? No! They judged, criticized, and second guessed him. They kept telling him what he’d done wrong. “It’s your own fault,” they said.

The great turnaround in Job’s life occurred not when he thought about himself but when he mercifully prayed for the people who were criticizing him: “When Job prayed for his friends, the Lord restored his wealth and happiness! In fact, the Lord gave him twice as much as before!” (Job 42:10).

Do you too show mercy to others—even the ones who criticize and judge you? You can go through life as a judgmental person, or you can go through life as a merciful person. If you choose to condemn and judge, then you’re going to make yourself and everyone around you miserable.

It’s your choice. You can be an agent of judgment in the world, or you can be an agent of mercy. When you choose mercy, life will be a whole lot more enjoyable for you and for the people around you.

Jesus says in the Beatitudes, “Happy are the kind and merciful” (Matthew 5:7). Do you want to be happy? Then be merciful.

Focus On The Good Times

“I thank God for the help you gave me.”Philippians 1:5

Paul wrote the book of Philippians to the church that he started in Philippi, where a woman named Lydia opened up her home and, along with others, welcomed Paul to the city. The Philippian church even helped fund Paul’s missionary journeys. In Philippians 1:5, Paul says, “I thank God for the help you gave me”.

Yet Paul told the believers, “Every time I think of you, I give thanks to my God”(Philippians 1:3).

What is Paul doing there? He is choosing selective memory. Philippi was not a happy place for Paul, and he endured a lot of persecution and suffering during his time in that city. But he chose not to dwell on painful memories. Instead, he expressed his gratitude for the good things that had been done for him and through him.

The longer you know someone, the more likely you are to take that person for granted, look for faults, and remember the bad things instead of the good things.

Are you still clinging to some painful memories with some people in your life? Maybe you’ve never let them off the hook, and so you can’t enjoy those relationships because you’re still holding on to the past.

You need to understand memories are a choice. I’ve mentioned before a story about Clara Barton, who founded the American Red Cross. A friend reminded her of a particularly cruel thing somebody had done to her years before. The friend asked, “Don’t you remember?” Her famous reply was, “No, I distinctly remember forgetting it.”

Your memories are a choice. If you want to hold on to your painful memories, go right ahead. But you’re not going to be happy! Paul had a lot of reasons to focus on painful memories of Philippi. Instead, he chose to be grateful for the people in his life and the work God was doing in and through them. When you do the same, God will bless your relationships far beyond your expectations.

The More Grateful You Are, the Happier You’ll Be

Every time I think of you, I give thanks to my God.” Philippians 1:3

If you want to have healthy relationships, start with an attitude of gratitude. You will be far happier and enjoy your relationships more if you develop the habit of being grateful for the people in your life.

Philippians 1:3 says, “Every time I think of you, I give thanks to my God”.

This simple truth is the foundation of good relationships.

When you think of the people in your life, is your first feeling gratitude? Or are you more likely to ask, “What do they need to do for me? What are our problems? What do we have to get done?” Your first thought may not be gratitude. But Paul’s first thought for his friends was one of gratitude, and it is the model we should follow if we want our relationships to last.

Here’s the problem: The longer you know someone, the more likely you take that person for granted. With the passage of time, it becomes easier to focus on that person’s faults and the bad times instead of the happy times.

That’s why it takes effort on our part to choose to have an attitude of gratitude for the people in our lives. The longer our relationships last, the harder it may be to remember. But we experience an eternal impact on our relationships when we develop the habit of giving thanks to God when we think of our spouses, children, parents, siblings, neighbors, coworkers, and small group members.

Positive Prayer Produces Strong Relationships

“And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ—to the glory and praise of God.” Philippians 1:9-11

Paul didn’t just pray for people in his life; he prayed for them with joy!

There are probably things in other people’s lives that you’d like to change. You don’t want to change yourself; you want them to change. We always want to change other people. But you can’t!

You can, however, pray and let God do his work in other people.

Positive praying is more effective than positive thinking. All the positive thinking in the world isn’t going to change your spouse, child, friend, or situation. Positive thinking can change you, but it won’t change somebody else. But positive prayer can make a difference in someone else.

What’s the quickest way to change a bad relationship to a good one? Start praying for the other person! It will change you, and it can change the other person too.

From these verses, we can learn to pray for the people in our lives in four ways:

Paul even told us how to pray for others: “And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ—to the glory and praise of God”(Philippians 1:9-11).

Pray that they will grow in love: “And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight.”

Pray that they will make wise choices: “So that you may be able to discern what is best.”

Pray that they will live with integrity: “And may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ.”

Pray that they will become like Jesus: “Filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ—to the glory and praise of God.”

Pray this for yourself and anyone else in your life, and watch how God turns around the relationship that seemed hopeless or needed to be revived.

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