As we’re heading into this New Year, the main topic or theme the Lord has given me to study – for my life, and our church family – is God’s amazing grace. Therefore, I have been studying the topic both in the Scriptures, and in good Christian literature. Some of my favourite books on the topic of GRACE include “All of Grace” by Charles Spurgeon, “The Ragamuffin Gospel” by Brennan Manning, “What’s so Amazing About Grace?” by Philip Yancey, and my most recent read is “The Grace Awakening” by Charles Swindoll. “Even if you’ve known about God’s grace for years, you may be surprised by some of the truths revealed in The Grace Awakening. Chuc Swindoll shows how God’s liberating grace can bring you exciting, spontaneous, creative freedom – the freedom to be forgiven, and teh freedom to forgive; the freedom to be yourself; adn to let others be themselves…”
“To show grace is to extend favor or kindness to one who doesn’t deserve it and can never earn it… Grace… is absolutely and totally free. You will never be asked to pay it back. You couldn’t even if you tried.” (pg. 9).
“Four practical expectations you can anticipate as you get a firm grace on grace: First, you can expect to gain a greater appreciation for God’s gifts to you and others… Second, you can expect to spend less time and energy critical of and concerned about others choices… Third, you can expect to become more tolerant and less judgmental… Fourth, you can expect to take a giant step toward maturity.” (pg. 13).
“If you claim to be a messenger of grace, if you think you are really preaching grace, yet no one is taking advangate of it, maybe you haven’t preached it hard enough or strong enough.” (pg. 40).
“There are those who seem to be waiting for the first opportunity to confront. Suspicious by nature and negative in style, they are determined to find any flaw, failure, or subtle weakness in your life, and to point it out. There may be twenty things they could affirm; instead they have one main goal, to make sure you never forget your weaknesses. Grace killers are big on the ‘shoulds’ and ‘oughts’ in their advice. Instead of praising, they pounce.” (pg. 60).
“Jesus, great in grace, repeatedly said, “Do not be afraid.” He didn’t meet people with a deep frown, looking down on them and swinging a club. He met them with open arms and reassurring words, “Don’t be afraid.” (pg. 68).
“Most of us fall short when it comes to letting others be because of two strong and very human tendencies: We compare ourselves with others (which leads us to criticize or compete with them) and we attempt to control others (which results in our manipulating or intimidatnig them). (pg. 154).
“One of the marks of maturity is the ability to disagree without becoming disagreeable. It takes grace. In fact, handling disagreements with tact is one of the crowning achievements of grace.” (pg. 173).
“There are a few beautiful exceptions, but the general rule is that criticisms are tactless, blunt, accusatory, and sometimes sarcastic.” (pg. 174).
“Bitter and harsh words stick like pieces of shrapnel in one’s brain, even in those you might think of as strong and able to handle it. The critic may soon forget them, but seldom with the one being verbally assaulted. I love the old saying, “Write your criticisms in the dust, your compliments in marble.” (pg. 175).
“Any disagreement can lead to a serious, permanent rift in a relationship… and sometimes (this may surprise you) that is God’s will. There are times God chooses to spread the good news of His Son rapidly in different directions by having two capable servants of His have a major disagreement.” (pg. 178).
“My hope has been to create an appetite for grace that is so strong nothing will restrain us from pursuing the freedom and spontaneity it can bring – a longing so deep that a new spiritual dawn, a “grace awakening,” if you will, cannot help but burst through the wall of legalism.” (pg. 303).
Are you ready for a grace awakening in your life? Cry out for more grace from the Lord Jesus!