Thursday, August 7, 2008

From Grace to Faith to Good Works

8“For by grace you have been saved through faith,
and that not of yourselves;
it is the gift of God,
9 not of works, lest anyone should boast.
10 For we are His workmanship,
created in Christ Jesus for good works,
which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.”
Ephesians 2:8, 9, and 10

God is doing something in me that I cannot put my finger on. Since really pressing in for praying in the spirit, I have felt “off balance” internally. For a while, I could not string any thoughts together. At the time, my mentor said this was good as my mind was disengaging from thinking (worrying and planning through the flesh) and my spirit was taking precedence.

Then, after a while, I lost all motivation. I lost motivation to find work. (I have had odd work here or there rarely, and it was just barely helping me get by.) I was comfortable with just getting by, but then my mentor called me out about that.

“You need to get over just getting by.”

This didn’t make sense to me. I thought I was waiting on the Lord to do “it”. My mentor has been teaching at the revival in Brandon and over coffee that by grace the new covenant promises are complete.

The new covenant entails total provision, total supply. The new covenant entails total healing, total wisdom, total peace, total direction; as Adam and Eve had it in the garden. All things were restored. Perfect communication was restored. Perfect communion and fellowship with each other and God was restored. Perfect provision, health and vision were restored.

All of that was restored with the new covenant. Man was brought back to a perfect relationship with God, a relationship in right-standing (righteous) by Jesus’ sacrifice.

Well, that resulted in me waiting for God to provide food, shelter, clothing, work or whatever else was needed. I even wrote about a thought I was having about the phrase “birds of the air.” I thought that referred to the ravens feeding Elijah by the brook. I felt that the Lord was taking me through a season of being fed morsels.

I stopped in that scripture just before it spoke of going to the widow. I stopped because I was more interested in the confirmation of where God had me (being fed by the birds of the air) than where it could take me (the widow, who or what group is that referring to; her child close to death, was this the church as a widow separated from her husband with a languishing church; this could go on and on forever!)

Then, I happened upon the scripture in Matt. 6:26 and Luke 12 where we are instructed to look to the birds of the air. They do not sow (work), reap (look for the harvest), or gather into barns (save, etc). Yet, it tells us, we are move valuable than even they.

I took this to mean that I should not have to work. Under the new covenant, by faith (His faith) through grace (as a gift; Gk. charis) (Ephesians 2), I should be able to walk in total provision and total supply without lifting a finger.

Well, you hear protests all the time that say “well, you cannot do NOTHING.” And I have not known how to respond to this.

Even though I believe that God is bringing me through understanding total reliance on Him, for His faith and grace to fulfill the covenant in my life, I also see a need to “walk it out.”

And my mentor articulated this.

“Grant, walk it out! I walk it out all the time. I believe that all things are working for my profit, expansion, and prosperity. I believe that even through the ups and downs that God is moving me forward, prospering me and expanding my territory. I had two investments go sour. I am moving into a trailer near the revival for a season most likely. Are these signs that the covenant is not working? Are these signs that I am not understanding something in the word?

“No! God is still expanding me. God is still prospering me. He will move this forward. He wasn’t caught off-guard by these events. He didn’t cause these events. But He is using every event to move me into more and more of the covenant fulfilled in my life.”

I began to understand that I need to step forward boldly, declaring and believing that God is fulfilling His covenant in my life. I need to not worry about the results, but put my hand to the plow and let God bring the increase. I need to let me be a conduit by stepping forward one step at a time.

So, I apply to 100 jobs, be the best at every interview, and let God choose which I am to get. Some would call that leaving it up to fate. I call it relying on the Holy Spirit.

So, I put out 100 bids on free lance work, be the best bidder and servant, and let the Spirit guide the right clients to me.

I find 100 contracts for low-priced homes, be the best negotiator, and let the Spirit guide the right buyers to me.

I am the best at what I do because I am blessed at what I do. The Lord will do what He sees fit. I just stay focused on the fact that, high or low, He is working out His covenant, His covenant promises, and His spirit in my life. I focus on knowing Him and the price He paid, and the kingdom will come to me. I won’t have to create it.

And, so, reading Ephesians 2 for the power of grace that has overcome sin, destruction, distraction, poverty, sickness and lack of all kinds, I think I may finally understand Ephesians 2:8-10.

“For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, 9 not of works, lest anyone should boast. 10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.”

I realized that there ARE works to do. They are not works to achieve any kind of salvation or blessing. They are the works “prepared beforehand” that result from salvation, that result from grace, that pour out of us by His spirit; they are the works that result from us “walking it out” in the power of His grace and spirit.

This is where God has me.

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