Are you ready for 2019?! I always like to go into a new year by thinking about what I'd like to accomplish that year. I pray, write goals, edit them, make sure they line up with my general life direction, then forget about them and trust God to lead me into the fulfillment of my heart's desires.
Here's the thing though, I'm at a place in my life where I have finally figured out that what God wants for me is much better than anything I could dream up on my own. My main desire is that my desires are in sync with what God would want me to desire and accomplish. It takes GRACE to stay on that path. In this article, I want to discuss how grace plays into goal setting and making life improvements.
First and foremost, when setting goals and seeking to improve areas of our life like ministry effectiveness, finances, relationships and health, we have to start with our identity. Affirming our identity in Christ, as a righteous child of God that cannot improve on what God has done spiritually, we then seek to put on that new man in our minds so our outward identity matches our inward eternal, spiritual identity. So the pursuit of goals is not a selfish pursuit, it's a shedding of distractions and old ways of thinking that hinder us from bearing the fruit that God would like to see in our lives.
Because we're still in these bodies of flesh we still have weaknesses, that's where GRACE comes in. Let's see what the Apostle Paul discovered about weakness.
2 Corinthians 12:8 Three different times I begged the Lord to take it away. 9 Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. 10 That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
Watch my sermon on this topic
When the Apostle Paul asked, no begged God to take away his “thorn in the flesh,” God answered by saying, “my grace is what you need, my power works best in weakness.” Was that a “no?” No! That was a solution.
God speaks directly to Paul and associates GRACE with POWER. Grace is an inner power that causes us to overcome any and every situation we may face. GRACE is God’s divine influence in our hearts that causes us to be patient, loving, joyful, wise, etc…
God didn’t say, “no, not right now, I need you to suffer a little while.” He said “Paul, if you’ll access my power within you, you’ll have victory in this area.” That’s not a NO, that’s a SOLUTION!!! This is true for us as well!
LIVING IN THE POWER OF GRACE
By God’s definition, GRACE = POWER. How does that help us? Good question!!
If you have goals for this new year, I would place a wager that some of them are in areas where you’re weak. It doesn’t really matter the reason but you have some areas of your life you’d like to improve.
So let’s say you want to make more money. First and foremost, what does God say about money? Find out what he says about the area you’re seeking to improve. About money He says I give you the power to get wealth (Deuteronomy 8:19). He says he makes one rich and he adds no trouble with it (Proverbs 10:22). He defines himself as our Provider. And finally, Jesus associates God’s willingness to meet our needs with his value for us (Matthew 6). If he’s willing to die for us, I think he’s willing to meet our financial needs.
DISCLAIMER: This doesn’t mean God owes you a Bugatti and a mansion, and it doesn’t mean you can be irresponsible with money and God will just bail you out.
But if you follow God’s instructions about money, in that you stay out of debt, you’re generous and you don’t put it before Him, your heart is in a good place to hear him when he influences you regarding money.
GRACE is this, God may lead you to begin to handle your money in a way you’re having difficulty with now. GRACE become your teacher. Keep in mind this principle can apply in just about any area of life, the principle being you have your way of doing things but if you’d make some adjustments and follow God’s instructions ion that area, you’d see abundant life and blessing, because that’s what the application of God’s wisdom produces.
So you don’t need to beg God to show up and fix your problem like Paul did, you need GRACE, God’s influence in your life to lead and guide you to truth and blessing. Here’s the $1,000,000 question, how do I access GRACE?
Here’s the answer…
Romans 5:1 Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2 through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God.
So you start by acknowledging that you are at peace with God, you are his righteous child and you make yourself impressionable to be inspired by God to act on his supply of GRACE.
Here’s what it will look like.
If you have an anger problem you’d like to “work on” this year, be honest with yourself about it, affirm that you are not the anger problem and that God’s grace can help you overcome.
Take a moment to visualize yourself in a situation in which you get angry and see yourself handling it differently. Then, the next time you feel yourself getting angry, remove yourself, relax your body, acknowledge that God’s GRACE is in you, then LET IT EMPOWER YOU!!
How do you let it empower you? Try it and you’ll find out.
I PROMISE you, if you turn to God in the heat of the moment, he will be present and he will supply you with GRACE, but it’s your choice to yield to it and act accordingly.
This is applicable in all temptation, whether it be with bad financial practices, anger, healthy eating, pornography, laziness, lying, drugs, the list goes on.
TRY IT!! God’s GRACE is all you need, his power in you is the strength you need in your weakness!!