It is time to live in His Grace

 

It Is Time To Live In His Grace

I must admit for much of my adult life, I did not live under God’s grace. Instead I chose to live under guilt, regret and condemnation. Constantly re-living my mistakes and sins. Continuing to condemn myself instead of living in God’s grace through Jesus.

Actually guilt, regret, fears and living in condemnation can be an addiction. Making it very difficult to stop living and thinking that way. For some it is nearly impossible to break this cycle if it were not that “nothing is impossible with God”. For me, without allowing Jesus to redo my thinking, I do not believe I would have ever been delivered from this life sucking negative way of thinking.

So how do we live in His grace? How do we stop the cycle? We simply start by turning around and going the other way, our Lord’s way. How? Baby steps, yes baby steps and through prayer and reading God’s word.   Yes, God’s word needs to be ever present in your heart and mind or instead of going His way you will go your way and will end up back on that same road of despair.

Here are three scriptures that will show you how to begin walking with the Lord:

James 4:8: “Come near to God and He will come near to you.”

Proverbs 3:5: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.”

Isaiah 30:21; “Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.”

You need to trust these scriptures. Here is a little nugget of truth: Don’t try and make grand leaps on this journey. Just keep thinking baby steps. Why? Because I have found, at least in my life experience, that when I tried to make grand leaps in my progress of anything, it did not go as well as expected and I was discouraged. Often that would create a setback or failure to reach a goal. This can easily happen, especially at the beginning and you become so discouraged you give up. Let the scriptures, not your mind, be your guide and your support on this journey.

Going hand and hand with walking in our Lord’s way is to understand what Jesus has already conquered for us, sin, guilt, fear and condemnation. The victory that you walk in now is because of what Jesus our Lord and Savior did for us on the cross. So, while we are walking His way we also need to have the right mind set. Here are two scriptures that you need to meditate on day and night while following this new path of freedom under Jesus Christ.

1 Peter 2:24; “He himself bore our sins” in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; “by his wounds you have been healed.”

And Hebrew 8:12: “For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.”

Believing and trusting in these two scriptures is imperative to getting you on the right path of living in His grace.

Just think about if you had to run a 10k race, which is 6.2 miles, and all that time you kept telling yourself;

  • You are not strong enough to walk that far.
  • Your legs are hurting already so you will never make it.
  • You are so out of shape that it is going to be impossible to even walk 1 mile.

Do you think you will reach that goal and walk the 5 miles? It is highly unlikely. It is the same with walking in His grace. If we keep dwelling on our sins, our weaknesses and the past, we will not make the journey of living in His grace.

We must begin with the key truth of Christianity. We must know and believe Jesus Christ died on the cross for our sins. If you do not believe that Jesus, our Lord and Savior, died on the cross for our sin then that is your real first step. Acknowledging that you are a sinner and that Jesus Christ died on the cross to take FULL punishment of your sins. After that you need to understand as it reads in 1 Peter 2:24 in addition to taking on the punishment of our sins, we need to know that, “by his stripes we are healed”. His stripes are speaking about the deep cuts and wounds that were on Jesus from being whipped and beaten.

When we acknowledge these truths and keep them in our hearts and mind, the negative thoughts of guilt, regret and condemnation must leave our mind. There is no room for such negative thoughts.

Now, to the second scripture I gave you above. In Hebrews 8:12, the Word tells us that God remembers our sins no more. Did you hear that? I meant it. This is very important. God remembers our sins no more. This is very powerful. In fact I believe this is the most important scripture when it comes to living in God’s grace and no longer living in guilt, regret and condemnation.

It is so important that it is worth repeating. Hebrews 8:12: “For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.”

So, I ask you the same question I ask myself all the time. If God does not remember our sins, why do we? If God does not remember our sins, why do we bring them back up in our minds? If God does not remember our sins, then how can guilt, regret and condemnation of those sins continue to control our mind and our actions? If we really believe these truths of God’s word and act on them then all those negative thoughts can’t control our mind. If negative thoughts still continue in your mind that is not from God but from the devil who wishes to keep your life in this negative frame of thinking. Or it is from you because you want to live that way.

If God, through Jesus Christ’s dying on the cross for our sins, does not remember our sins, then quit calling God a liar and quit telling our Lord Jesus Christ that his act was worthless. Forget them all and forgive yourself because God already has!

I know accusing you of calling God a liar is a very strong statement. That continuing to dwell on the past and live in guilt and condemnation is saying Jesus dying on the cross was worthless. Does that bother you to read those words, Jesus dying on the cross was worthless? Does it make you very uncomfortable to even think that? Good, that is a great start. Yes, they are very strong words but maybe you need to hear them to shock your thinking into rebuking these negative thoughts and start living in His grace.

If we can truly forget the past, and know in our heart, mind and soul these basic Christian truths: that Jesus died on the cross for our sins, by his stripes we are healed and that God remembers our sins NO MORE! Forget your forgiven sins and your journey will take us to living in peace, free of guilt, regret, condemnation, and walking with our Lord at our right side.

What is it like to live that way? I think one of the best visualizations of this is in Psalms 1:3 “That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither—whatever they do prospers.”

So let’s begin our journey of being set free and living in His grace.

Breaking through Fear

instagramfearFear is a word that in some way connects to all of us. I have not met anyone who did not, at some time in his or her life, experience fear. I’m talking about the fear that grabs hold of you and will consume your every thought. I know I have dealt with it.

In my observations, fear can be categorized into many types. The one I want to talk about for this lesson is fear of something that is actually happening. This type of fear is very understandable. The doctor tells you that you have a serious life threatening disease and fear can be the first reaction. There is a terrible storm that hits your area, flooding, power outages, and winds, again fear can be one’s first reaction. You are out of work, you have no money, and you could be homeless in a week if things do not change. I know that in these situations, it is scary. I believe financial issues are the most common fear people deal with in their lives. Here are some reported facts from a recent survey that support this:

  1. 76% of American’s live paycheck to paycheck
  2. 56% of Americans say they have less than $1,000 in their checking and savings accounts combined,
  3. Nearly a quarter (24.8 percent) have less than $100 to their name.

The 2013 U.S. Census Bureau estimates that there are just over 242 million adults living in the United States. Applying this population number to the above facts it shows us that:

  1. 184 million American’s live paycheck to paycheck.
  2. 135 million Americans have less than $1,000 in their checking and savings accounts combined.
  3. 60 million have less than $100 to their name.

Are you one of those in this type of situation? If so, with ¾ of the adult population in the same boat you are not alone. Or are you just wondering what might happen if we, in the US, are just pushed over this precipice of no money and mountains of debt. Does that create fear in you? It does in me.

With this fear, our lives can be in total turmoil. We don’t sleep. We worry. Our family relationships suffer. We can’t concentrate on much but the fear of being one paycheck away from losing it all. If you remember in my lesson on the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus himself was fearful and scared. In Mark 14:33-34 it talks about Jesus going to pray in the garden. It reads “He took Peter, James and John along with him, and he began to be deeply distressed and troubled. “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death,” he said to them. “Stay here and keep watch.” He was literally scared to death because at that time, Jesus was fully human because he needed to be human to die for our sins. What Jesus did is what we need to do. Pray to our Lord and ask for help and also for the ability to get through troubling times.

In fact, here is exactly what Jesus did and prayed in Mark 14:35-36, “Going a little farther, he fell to the ground and prayed that if possible the hour might pass from him. 3Abba, Father,” he said, “everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.”

He basically said, Father everything is possible for you. You can make it so I do not have to do this. You can get me out of this situation. But it is your will that I want in my life, not mine. Jesus knew that God his Father and our Father could get him out of that situation. But Jesus also wanted to do God’s will not his so he knew that, if he did have to go through this situation, God would give him the strength and the ability to get through it.

Can you see what I am saying? This is important and key to overcoming fear.  God can change the situation and get us out of it or he will give us the strength and ability to get through the situation. In either way, he has our back. We will make it through.

Sounds easy huh? No it is not. At least for me it is not. The biggest battle is with our own thoughts. It is then that you need to use God’s Word to get through this. Yes I said use God’s Word to get through it. I think people sometimes forget that in living God’s Word, you actually have to not just know it, your really do have to live it AND use it. For example, 2 Corinthians 10:5 tells us “We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. Using prayer, trust and God’s Word, we can take our thoughts of fear captive and make them obedient to Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior.

Again, I know that sounds impossible right now with what might be happening in your life. I am sure you are asking, how is taking all my thoughts captive and obedient to Christ going to help me with my situation?

It can. I promise you it can. To better explain, lets look at some facts, from a study at the University of Minnesota, on what the impact of fear and anxiety does to our mind and body.

“People, who live in constant fear, whether from physical dangers in their environment or threats they perceive, can become incapacitated. Living under constant threat weakens our immune system and can cause cardiovascular damage, gastrointestinal problems such as ulcers and irritable bowel syndrome, and decreased fertility. All of these effects can leave us unable to act appropriately. Other consequences of long-term fear include fatigue, clinical depression, accelerated ageing, and even premature death.”

“Fear can impair formation of long-term memories and cause damage to certain parts of the brain. This can make it even more difficult to regulate fear and can leave a person anxious most of the time. To someone in chronic fear, the world looks scary and their memories confirm that.

Moreover, fear can interrupt processes in our brains that allow us to regulate emotions, read non-verbal cues and other information presented to us, reflect before acting, and act ethically. This impacts our thinking and decision-making in negative ways, leaving us susceptible to intense emotions and impulsive reactions. “

“Let’s look at that last part again. Fear interrupts our thinking processes in our brain that allows us to regulate emotions, read non-verbal cue and other information that is presented to us. This study tells us that when we are in a state of fear and anxiety we can’t think straight and we cannot make rational decisions.”

We can’t even see opportunities and information that could show us a way out.

And that is important. Often times, having the ability to think rationally and clearly about a problem allows us to actually find a solution, a way out!

Again, lets look at 2 Corinthians 10:5 “We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”

When we do this, and again LIVE God’s Word, we allow God’s Word to end the fear arguments and thoughts that we, or others are saying, in our minds that cause us to worry and panic. We let the knowledge of God, which is what we read and know from His Word, take every single fearful thought captive and let our minds be guided by our Lord Jesus Christ.

What happens then is we are in a state of peace and calm, not fear. Our mind is not racing with fearful thoughts. Our inner voice is not in panic mode. In this calm peaceful state, God allows us to clearly think about the situation in a way that He can show us His way out or His plan for us.

You know I am not just writing to this as a lesson to all of my readers. I am writing this for me also. In fact, this lesson was not a lesson at first. It was an effort by me to search the Bible and try to understand from God’s Word how I can get a hold of the fear in my life. In many areas, I was letting fear dictate how I acted. Dictate what decisions I made for my family and myself when it came to finances, health, and our future. I needed to get ahold of the fear and panic in my life. And I knew the only true and lasting way was in living God’s Word.  

So I prayed for God to bring alive His Word in me and help me with my fear. And as a faithful and loving Father, He is helping me. Every word, in this lesson, was written for me too. And it is my plan to learn from it even if I have to read this lesson over again several times. I am going to memorize and claim that, 2 Corinthians 10:5 , can work in my life. I am going to find more scriptures that I can get into my mind, soul and spirit to help me take captivity over fear. Will you do the same? Let’s win this victory over fear together.

I leave you with this. 2 Timothy 1:7 “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.”

Guilt

Guilt. Let that word just dwell in your mind for a moment. Try not to think of anything else but the word guilt. What happens? For most of us, thoughts of things we did wrong start coming to mind. We begin to think of the past mistakes, which then can bring on regret. So now you have the double punch. Guilt and regret.

In my opinion, guilt is the most powerful tool the devil and, we ourselves; use to keep us from total fellowship with the Lord. It keeps you thinking you are unworthy. Guilt keeps us in bondage. It keeps us down. And we use it to tell ourselves we are not worthy of the free gift of salvation.

Have you even seen someone be given an award and they say, no please I do not deserve this, I really did not do anything to deserve it. In a way, we do the same thing with God’s love and gift of salvation to us. We also apply this towards blessings from God as well.

But we say it a bit different though. We don’t say we didn’t do anything to deserve it. We normally bring up all we did wrong and say something like, Lord I do not deserve this after all the things I did wrong.

Well let’s settle that point right away. No you do not deserve it. And you did not earn it. And no you are not worthy to have it. It was and is a gift from God. Our Lord Jesus earned your salvation by dying on the cross for your sins. Jesus Christ’s act of love made you worthy to receive salvation.

There are many scriptures to back this up but here are two that address it very well.

Ephesians 2: 8-9 – 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.

Romans 3:22-25 – “And this righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no distinction, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God and are justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.”

So what does it mean when we allow guilt into our lives. Or better put when we continually keep guilt in our lives and continually remind ourselves of the sins that we have done.   Simple put, it means we are calling our Lord, a liar. I know that is harsh but it is true yet is it not something I am just saying, God’s Word says in 1 John 1: 9-10.

“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word is not in us.” Yes that scripture is referring to the case that if we are claiming we have not sinned we are calling our Lord a lying.

But can you see how that if we claim that, the first part of 1 John 1:9-10 is also not true, that we would also be calling him a liar.

The first part says “if we are faithful to confess our sins, God is faithful to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness”.   Living in guilt is the same as saying we are not forgiven AND that we are not cleansed from that unrighteous act which is causing the guilt.

So I ask you again. If we are saved and believe that our Lord Jesus Christ died on the cross for our sins and the Bible say “if we confess our sins God is faithful to forgive them AND will cleanse us from all unrighteousness”, then…

Why do we let guilt keep us in bondage? Why do we let it affect our lives?

Let me take this one step further. Here is the ultimate biblical proof that we can and need to stop felling guilt, Hebrews 8:12 says “For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.”

Did you get that? God will no longer remember your sins. So let me ask you, as I have asked myself many times, why do we remember our sins if God doesn’t? Why do we regret our actions, mentally beat ourselves up and hold ourselves down because of guilt that God doesn’t even remember but what we can’t seem to forget.

Yes it is that simple. He remembers our sins no more. You need to trust and have faith in God’s promises. You simply need to believe and have faith.

Every time, guilt rears its ugly head and keeps reminding you of what you did wrong and that you are not worthy. Just remember God’s truth. In fact some times, you literal need to speak it out. You need to say, through Jesus, God has forgiven my wickedness and he remembers my sins no more.

My oh my, what a liberating moment that will become when guilt no longer has power over you.

Dear Lord Jesus, I thank you for what you have done for me and everyone who believes you died for our sins and because of that we are saved. Please Lord have your Holy Spirit help all of us to remember, that when guilt tries to convince us that we are not worthy and tries to keeps us in bondage, you remember our sins no more. Amen

Praise God!

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