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Contact me at Mom25dogs@gmail.com

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Grace

Some years ago, I prayed that God would help me to understand "grace" and what it means to me. I didn't recieve immediate knowledge or revelation but I continued to ask and what I wanted to know...God wanted me to know. So one day I heard Pastor Greg Laurie preaching on the radio about grace and mercy and God used Pastor Laurie to open grace up to me. I began to understand what grace was. Here is one thing that Pastor Laurie said that helped me to understand what grace is:

Mercy is God withholding what we deserve (punishment for our sins) and Grace is God giving us what we don't deserve (acceptance, forgiveness, eternal life in heaven).

Over the years, God continued showing me more and more about grace. Last night my sister-in-law passed a book along to me for me to read and I started it this afternoon after church. I'm halfway through already.

The Ragamuffin Gospel
by Brennan Manning

"...He loves us. He is the only God man has ever heard of who loves sinners. False gods - the gods of human manufacturing - despise sinners, but the Father of Jesus loves all, no matter what they do." -pg 20


"It remains a startling story to those who never understand that the men and women who are truly filled with light are those who have gazed deeply in the darkness of their imperfect existence. Perhaps it was after meditating on this passage that Morton Kelsey wrote, 'The church is not a museum for sants but a hospital for sinners.'


"The Good News means we can stop lying to ourselves. The sweet sound of amazing grace saves us from the necessity of self-deception. It keeps us from denying that though Christ was victorious, the battle of lust, greed, and pride still rages within us. As a sinner who has been redeemed, I can acknowledge that I am often unloving, irritable, angry, and resentful with those closest to me. When I go to church I can leave my white hat at home and admit I have failed. God not only loves me as I am, but also knows me as I am. Because of this I don't need to apply spiritual cosmetics to make myself presentable to Him. I can accept ownership of my poverty and powerlessness and neediness." -pg 21


"Any church that will not accept that it consists of sinful men and women, and exists for them, implicitly rejects the gospel of grace. As Hans Kung says: 'It deserves neither God's mercy nor men's trust. The church must constantly be aware that it's faith is weak, it's knowledge is dim, it's profession of faith halting, that there is not a single sin or failing which it has not in one way or another been guilty of. And though it is true that the church must always dissociate itself from sin, it can never have any excuse for keeping any sinners at a distance. If the church remains self-righteously aloof from failures, irreligious and immoral people, it cannot enter justified into God's kingdom. But if it is constantly aware of it's guilt and sin, it can live in joyous awareness of forgiveness. The promise has been given to it that anyone who humbles himself will be exalted.'" -pg 30


"Often hobbling through our church doors on Sunday morning comes grace on crutches - sinners still unable to throw away their false supports and stand upright in the freedom of the children of God. Yet their mere presence in the church on Sunday morning is a flickering candle representing a desire to maintain contact with God. To douse the flame is to plunge them into a world of spiritual darkness." -pg 30


Brennan continues discussing how we must be honest about our inability to save ourselves with works or set ourselves free from our bondages of sin by our own self control, self discipline. We must humble ourselves and trust in the grace of God which is given freely to all. We don't deserve His grace but He gives it to us because He loves us. We must realize we don't have any virtue in us that would save us or give us any special standing with God. God loves us and gives us grace totally independent of anything we do. He is a God of love and forgiveness, grace and mercy and it is His very nature to love and forgive. It is a free gift for everyone who will only believe. We must be as children trusting their Father. We can trust that our Father rescues and saves us with great love and tenderness.


"We miss Jesus' point entirely when we use His words as weapons against others. They are to be taken personally by each of us." -pg 71


"The saved sinner is prostrate in adoration, lost in wonder and praise. He knows repentance is not what we do in order to earn forgiveness; it is what we do because we have been forgiven. It serves as an expression of gratitude rather than an effort to earn forgiveness. Thus the sequence of forgiveness and then repentance, rather than repentance and then forgiveness, is crucial for understanding the gospel of grace." -pg 75


Who are the "poor in spirit"? Not just poor as in having no money but poor as in realizing our powerlessness and helplessness to save ourselves, realizing our "nothingness before God"


"The deeper we grow in the Spirit of Jesus Christ, the poorer we become - the more we realize that everything in life is a gift. The tenor of our lives becomes one of humble and joyful thanksgiving. Awareness of our poverty and ineptitude causes us to rejoice in the gift of being called out of darkness into wondrous light and translated into the kingdom of God's beloved Son." -pg 81

"The poor in spirit percieve that religious experience and mystical 'highs' are not the goal of authentic prayer; rather, the goal is communion with God. The Christian who is truly poor in spirit goes to worship on Sunday morning singing, 'I am poor but I brought myself the best I could. I am Yours, I am Yours.'" -pg 84


"To be alive is to be broken. And to be broken is to stand in need of grace. Honesty keeps us in touch with our neediness and the truth that we are saved sinners. There is a beautiful transparency to honest disciples who never wear a false face and do not pretend to be anything but who they are." -pg 86

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