Bob Mayo, Stonepoint Member
I had a strange thing happen this morning. Part of my routine of getting ready to go out in the morning is to check my emails that I get on my cell phone. Some time ago I signed up with Bible Gateway to receive their “Verse of the Day.” It’s nice to get but I don’t always pay much attention to it. But today, it was different. Today’s verse was from Titus 2:11-12. It talks about grace but in a different way that I hadn’t really caught before. I’ll come back to this in a minute.
GRACE!! What a wonderful gift from God!! Most of us are probably familiar with Ephesians 2:8-9, “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.” We all loved this verse and the fact that we are saved by grace through faith. But how many of us consider verse 10 as part of the whole picture.? “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.” Oh, dear!! Now things are different. We are truly saved by grace and through faith and no part of our own efforts. But now Paul says we were created in Christ to do good works.
How do we mesh this grace with works? Do we really have to do them? If so, how do we approach doing works? Is it out of debt to Christ for saving us? Do we just look to the church to tell us what works we should do and them try to do them out of coercion or guilt? In other words, what is our motivation for doing these good works? I ask a lot of questions, but it is something I have wrestled with for a long time. I have always tried to serve in any church I was a part of. I have generally found it easy to start serving (or working) but have found it difficult to stay at it. I have wondered what my problem was.
Today when I opened up my email and looked at the Bible Gateway “Verse of the Day,” I read this: “For the grace of God has appeared bringing salvation to all men, instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age.” Do you see what that says? If I am right, it says the same grace that saves us gives us the power to live a godly life! So, how does that tie into service? I believe it is impossible to serve God fully by our own self effort. We can look good on the outside, for a while, but sooner or later our self imposed effort will fail us.
Today, we heard a wonderful message from Pastor Brandon about moving ahead in 2016. A couple of things really stood out to me. One was from Galatians 5:6 where Pastor said, “the mark of a Christian is faith working through love.” There is our motivation, LOVE. Outside influences just will not last. At best, they will motivate us for a time, but ultimately, we will end up not being faithful and ending up feeling guilty over it.
What about discipline, doesn’t that fit in? Of course it does. Spiritual disciplines are extremely important. But again, they are only helpful to us if done with the right motivation. I struggle writing this part of this blog because I am not a disciplined Christian. Oh, yes, I have good intentions, and I want to please the LORD in every aspect of my life. But when it comes to disciplining myself to pray (especially pray) or study the Bible, I just haven’t had the discipline to do this consistently.
The funny thing about all this is that I have been thinking about this all through the month of December. I believed that I needed a new attitude and motivation toward these things.Today, I believe God gave that to me. I confess, that I lack in love toward God. When I read that we are to love God with all our heart, mind and soul I just die inside, because I fall so short. But there is always God’s grace. Not to go on in defeat but have the power to change!!
We can, and should change. But the motivation needs to come from the inside, from our hearts. God gives us the grace to live our lives in such a way that we can please Him. Not from self effort, but from our hearts.
I fear what I have written today isn’t really clear. I am really struggling to get my thoughts together. But I pray that it will make sense to you, and to me. My prayer for myself in 2016 is that I will truly grow in love for God and in turn grow in the disciplines of prayer and Bible Study. I believe that without these two disciplines, we will not be able to run this race unhindered by sin and weights. Yes, there will be struggles and probably times of failure. But that is OK. the goal is to grow, not to expect perfection.
One more thing Pastor Brandon said today in the form of a question. “If you died today, why would people miss you?” Would you want them to say because you were cool and fun to be around? For myself, I would want people to miss me because I had demonstrated a great love for my LORD and that I was an encouragement to the Body of Christ to grow closer to Him. I couldn’t ask for a better remembrance. God bless you!