Summary: In the acronym of GRACE the "E" stands for Embrace God Intimately. Trials will come in each life and it can be considered a time of refining. We must choose the steps to righteous living; repentance, studying scripture and prayer to help us when trial do
THE LIFE OF G.R.A.C.E.
“Embrace God Intimately”
September 25, 2005
Intro: We have been looking at the Shepherd’s Covenant over the last few weeks and the different aspects that it entails in helping us to live a life of grace. The Shepherd’s Covenant was developed by Focus on the Family to encourage pastors to be diligent to the call of God on their lives. It reads:
“We are joined together by a common call of God to feed His sheep, but we are also tied by a common commitment to purity, holiness, righteousness and faithfulness. Our agreement to submit to the Shepherd’s Covenant transcends theological differences, denominational connection and local congregational restraints. We are bound to one another by our calls and by the knowledge that one day the Great Shepherd will be the final judge.”
The specific aspects of the covenant we have looked at are:
G- Genuine Accountability
R- Right Relationships
A- A Servant’s Heart
C- Constant Safeguards
E- Embrace God Intimately
Today we are going to look at what it means to embrace God intimately. We are going to focus very specifically on a passage that I feel God has placed on my heart this week for this time in the life of our church.
“Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way. If you don’t know what you’re doing, pray to the Father. He loves to help. You’ll get his help, and won’t be condescended to when you ask for it. Ask boldly, believingly, without a second thought. People who "worry their prayers" are like wind-whipped waves. Don’t think you’re going to get anything from the Master that way, adrift at sea, keeping all your options open. When down-and-outers get a break, cheer! And when the arrogant rich are brought down to size, cheer! Prosperity is as short-lived as a wildflower, so don’t ever count on it. You know that as soon as the sun rises, pouring down its scorching heat, the flower withers. Its petals wilt and, before you know it, that beautiful face is a barren stem. Well, that’s a picture of the "prosperous life." At the very moment everyone is looking on in admiration, it fades away to nothing. Anyone who meets a testing challenge head-on and manages to stick it out is mighty fortunate. For such persons loyally in love with God, the reward is life and more life. Don’t let anyone under pressure to give in to evil say, "God is trying to trip me up." God is impervious to evil, and puts evil in no one’s way. The temptation to give in to evil comes from us and only us. We have no one to blame but the leering, seducing flare-up of our own lust. Lust gets pregnant, and has a baby: sin! Sin grows up to adulthood, and becomes a real killer. So, my very dear friends, don’t get thrown off course. Every desirable and beneficial gift comes out of heaven. The gifts are rivers of light cascading down from the Father of Light. There is nothing deceitful in God, nothing two-faced, nothing fickle. He brought us to life using the true Word, showing us off as the crown of all his creatures.” James 1:2-18 (The Message)
Some opening observations:
1) Trials will come into the life of a follower of God.
“Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides.” James 1:2
2) It is during the tough times that your true faith is revealed.
“You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors.” James1:3
3) God is not the one presenting the trial.
“Don’t let anyone under pressure to give in to evil say, "God is trying to trip me up." God is impervious to evil, and puts evil in no one’s way. The temptation to give in to evil comes from us and only us. We have no one to blame but the leering, seducing flare-up of our own lust.” James 1:13-15
4) God is the giver of every good thing.
“Every desirable and beneficial gift comes out of heaven. The gifts are rivers of light cascading down from the Father of Light. There is nothing deceitful in God, nothing two-faced, nothing fickle. He brought us to life using the true Word, showing us off as the crown of all his creatures.” James 1:16-18
So, you may be asking yourself, “How does this help me to embrace God intimately?”
I want to address to you several things that I have been feeling and thinking through over the past week. These are matters of the heart that have deeply touched me and have been areas that I believe God is leading me to address in our body.