Ephesians 2:8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this is not from yourselves. It is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast.
When was the last time you stood with your arms lifted high and wide open in prayer to God?
I have to admit this is not my practice when I pray. But on March 17, I lifted my arms during a Facebook live prayer session with Shawn Wooten and Christians from all over the world. It was not a requirement to pray with outstretched arms; however, the pressing needs of the people in Ukraine compelled me to keep them up. My heart was soft, hurting, and ready to accept answers from God.
My desire this year is to receive God’s grace. A statement that may sound like a nice religious thing I have decided to do, but to me, it is necesssary for my spiritual survivial. You see, I am a doer. A taskmaster. A rule follower. I do an excellent job following the verse, “It is more blessed to give than receive” (Acts 20:35). But the problem is that when I am giving and busy doing, I forget to receive. And my arms are folded.
This month, I have been reading and rereading Ephesians 2 – a Bible chapter that shows me that a relationship with God is more about receiving from him than doing for him. This is difficult for the enneagram 3 (The Achiever) in me who wants to perform.
Why is it hard for me to receive God’s grace?
I have recently found the answer through prayer and journaling – it is too good to be true.
My mind says, “No, I must prove myself worthy of being saved.” My faulty thinking is why I was baptized three times in my church within the first ten years of being a member. I was trying to get it “right” before receiving forgiveness. Each baptism occurred because I believed the previous baptism was missing something. I thought I was either lacking the knowledge to receive forgiveness or was not purging myself enough of sin. How sad? Right?
For years, I viewed my three baptisms like I did my three passports – I had to reapply to gain access again. God’s grace does not follow the same rules as the passport process.
Around 15 years ago I concluded that my first baptism at the age of 19 was when I received God’s grace and forgiveness. There were no steps to follow, no proving I was worthy through my acts of repentance, but rather a simple belief that knew I was lost, and the cross of Jesus was the way to be found. I was so motivated that I gave my entire life to Christ as soon as I came out of the water.
The word gospel means “good news” or “good story.”
When the gospel stops being good news to me I know I have returned to the I-need-to-get-it-right mentality. I start judging myself and others again according to the law and this always leads to boasting. I now know I can’t give God’s grace to others when I don’t receive it the way Ephesians 2:8 says to accept it: For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this is not from yourselves. It is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast.
So here I am again, in need of shedding my legalistic ways that have crept back into my life again. Therefore, I will focus on receiving God’s grace and Jesus’s abiltiy to save me rather than my ability to save myself.
Hebrews 7:25 says:
Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them.
Today I celebrate the message in Hebrews 7:25, and it gives me a good enough reason to open my arms wide, look up to the sky, and say a big thank you.
This blog is the first in a series of blogs I will be writing to share my journey of growing in God’s Grace. To automatically get notifications when I post a blog, enter your name and email in the Follow Me text box.