Friday, 6 October 2017

Choose Life (Part Forty Two)

Is Grace Reaching You?
Now a certain man was there who had an infirmity thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him lying there, and knew that he already had been in that condition a long time, He said to him, “Do you want to be made well?  
― John 5:5-6, NKJV
We continue this week with the story of the sick man healed at the Pool of Bethesda. [John 5:1-15].

You know one of the most powerful verses of scripture for me is James 4:6. It reads,
"And he gives grace generously. As the Scriptures say, “God opposes the proud [presumptuous, bloated, swollen, fat and kicking, corrupt, wicked, evil, oblivious, forgetful] but gives grace to the humble [accurate, rightly sized, true].”" (NLT, with my emphasis)
God gives grace [enablement, power, favor] generously [freely, in abundant provision, more than is required or necessary]. If there is ever a lack of grace in any area of our life, guess where the fault is? Your guess is just as good as mine. It lies right where it belongs, in us. It is not in our brother, our sister nor our friend. It is not our "mama," nor our "papa." It is all in us. We are the ones standing in the need of prayers. We are the ones in need of change. We are the ones in need of a touch of Heaven. For, only we can stop or tone down the flow of God’s grace in and over our life.
"It is delightful to worship God, but it is also a humbling thing, and the man who has not been humbled in the presence of God will never be a worshiper of God at all. He may be a church member who keeps the rules and obeys the discipline, and who tithes and goes to conference, but he'll never be a worshiper unless he is deeply humbled." (A.W. Tozer)
It is up to us to ensure that which God freely gives reaches us. The onus is ours to ensure we do not suffer lack in the midst of abundant provision from the God of all grace. [1 Peter 5:5-7, 10] The only way to do this is to fall continually into His hands. It is to have the right estimation of our self. It is to always be in need of Him. It is to see our life and being essentially connected to, and dependent on Him. It is to see Him as our very life source, without whom we have no life at all. It is to humble ourselves before Him. It is to be continually conscious of the state of our walk with Him. Is it healthy or not?
"None are more unjust in their judgments of others than those who have a high opinion of themselves." (Charles Haddon Spurgeon)
Henry Blackaby, in his book, Experiencing God, provides the following as signs of an unhealthy walk with God.
  1. No Longer Hearing from God. (i.e. A Scarcity of His Voice)
  2. Loss of Joy
  3. Not Producing Spiritual Fruit
  4. No Longer Having Victory in Life
If any of these is prevalent in our lives, something is amiss. We have started growing fat, and kicking, in some shape or form. We have started thinking more highly of ourselves than we ought to. We have started losing our accuracy of judgment. It is time to "call the council." It is time to "call the elders." It is time to have a "come to Jesus moment." There is fire on the mountain. And, we have to address it immediately. Henry Blackaby provides the following as God's remedy for restored fellowship.
  1. Humility
  2. Prayer
  3. Seeking His Face (i.e. The Experience of His Presence)
  4. Repentance (Turning from Sin)
Henry Blackaby goes on further to suggest how we can keep our walk with God ever fresh, ever healthy. That is, producing an environment of continual, never-ending, supply (flow) of grace. These include,
  1. Being careful what we allow into our Mind and Heart. [Proverbs 4:23]
  2. Surrounding our Self with Godly Counselors who will Encourage us and Warn us if they see our Heart beginning to shift. [Proverbs 11:14]
  3. Keeping my Heart, Mind, and Soul in a Constant Posture of Love for God. [Matthew22:37]
  4. Making it a Habit to immediately Obey God in anything He says. [Matthew 7:24]
Maintaining a healthy walk with God is the key to opening and keeping open, the floodgates of grace. God will not do that for us. The onus is ours. He, however, creates seasons and occasions to help and point us in this direction. Whether we yield or not is our choice. 

"Grace is the seed of glory, the dawning of glory in the heart, and therefore grace is the earnest of the future inheritance." (Jonathan Edwards)

Such was the case with King Asa (2 Chronicles 14-16; 1 Kings 15:9-24). Asa got carried away by 25 years of peace. He forgot how to trust solely in God. He did not “Zakar” (remember) God’s deliverance, God’s grace. He had gotten so used to doing things in his own strength, in his own way, and in his own time, that he missed God. He had lost the fervency of a walk with God. He had lost his edge. His walk with God had grown stale, cold, and rusty. He had gotten so used to the "God-thing" it became so ordinary, and seemly despised, in his eyes. Is that your story?
"It is only as we consciously bring each victory to His feet and keep it there as we think of it - and especially as we speak of it - that we can avoid the pride of that victory, which can be worse than the sin over which we claim to have had the victory." (Francis Schaeffer)
Here is God’s judgment,
“For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show Himself strong [gracious] on behalf of those whose heart is loyal [humble, surrendered, rested in and] to Him. In this you have done foolishly [prideful, out of order]; therefore from now on you shall have wars.” (2 Chronicles 16:9, NKJV, with my emphasis)
Where is your heart? Is it in the right place? Is it perfect before God? Is it loyal to God? Is it single? Or, is God simply one of your options? God wants to show Himself strong on your behalf. He wants to fight your battles. He wants to pour His grace on you. Will you let Him?

© 2017 Akin Akinbodunse



Link to Study Series:

Resources for Further Study:


Closing Thoughts:

"When life is too easy for us, we must beware or we may not be ready to meet the blows which sooner or later come to everyone, rich or poor." (Eleanor Roosevelt)

"Life is a series of experiences, each one of which makes us bigger, even though sometimes it is hard to realize this. For the world was built to develop character, and we must learn that the setbacks and grieves which we endure help us in our marching onward." (Henry Ford)

"A guy's who has all the money he needs and never faced any hard times, he won't have any character. But when you've had it tough and you've had it rough and you thought you were at the end of the rope and you work your way out of it, that's the way you build character." (Bobby Bowden)
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