By Grace, Through Faith – Growing good gifts

“For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God” Ephesians 2:8 NKJ

Throughout the Bible we see that God first loved us (1 John 4:19 for example).  Love is the first gift from God. His Son sacrificed on the cross kind of love and blood spilled kind of love – the kind of love that dies for someone else – the kind of love we, limited in understanding and limited in experience, struggle to comprehend but sort of get where one dies for another – that’s the kind of love this is. But what was God going to do with all this love (spilled blood) when he was separated from us – if not for GRACE!!! My favorite thing! Grace is the second gift given to any man/woman/child.  God’s love and grace comes to us while we were still sinners and before we acknowledge or know Him.

I google the definition of Grace and it is so beautiful: “(n) simple elegance – courteous goodwill – and a divinely given free and unmerited favor of God, as manifested in the salvation of sinners and the bestowal of blessings”

So simple – here is your free pass to get in!

But in Ephesians it says “by grace” and “through faith” – with this gift of grace setting the stage and belief is an actor and faith compels that actor on to the stage.  A small amount of faith is also given with grace. The recipe is clear: Fill the largest mixing bowl to overflowing with God’s love, add a few handfuls of grace sprinkled with faith, then gently stir replacing to overflowing anything that might have spilled out and watch what our Father God through Christ Jesus can do this powerful combination! The combination is the gift of a changed life when it is accepted.  And then… as you continue to read and pray and grow in your relationship with the Father, Son and Holy Spirit then more blessings and gifts flow!!! Thank you Jesus!!!

22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.” Galatians 5:22-23 NIV

Growth causes the gift of LOVE, JOY, PEACE, ETC.  These gifts come with the action of growth. God is so good – let his blessings flow!!! I have so many needs, but my need to change and grow are greater than my problems. I recognize that many of my earthly problems can be overcome, simply, with more love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.

I am learning to love my enemy and my friends better. (Matt. 5:44)
Learning joy (Nehemiah 8:10) and peace (Philippians 4:7) in the midst of my struggles and needs.
I am learning forbearance & long suffering – as God waited for me and cried out to me and suffered a broken heart until I came back to him. Forbearance is patience with suffering and endurance.
Kindness, goodness, and gentleness are easy to understand and definitely take time and practice – but I don’t know other people’s struggle and being kind, good and gentle could save their life.

I am learning faithfulness – in the King James Version it is just “faith”. So then, in the NIV, when they say faithfulness they mean full of faith. I thank God every day for that measure of faith that was sprinkled on my grace so I could believe the truth and come back to this. And thank God it is a gift that can grow (as these others).  I seek God and grow my faith through obedience (Romans 1:5) so I can fulfill my calling in Christ Jesus. It only takes a small little mustard seed amount of faith (Matt. 17:20) to move mountains! I am ready, God! Let’s do this!

And finally self-control. God also gives us this gift to grow and nurture. Practice. Try and try again. A righteous man falls and gets back up, keeps practicing. (Proverbs 24:16)

I have Asperger’s Syndrome along with ADHD, Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, another I won’t share right now, and Impulse Control Disorder.  So, long story short – When God made me, he forgot to give me the mechanism to control my impulses (aka the foundation of self-control). “Forgot” is the wrong word. God did not make an error. Psalms 139 assures me I was created perfect for his plans for me. God picked the time, the place, the DNA, and every single cell in my body.

Why didn’t He give me the self-control mechanism? I am sure someday it will be all for his Glory! I am content with that answer. In the meantime, learning self-control is a huge battle.  I have worked with counselors on different techniques over the years – but still I found myself doing the whole ‘sex, drugs, and rock-n-roll’ thing. I ran headstrong without forethought into things I swore I wouldn’t do. Into bondage of chains and into depths of sins that make Christians gasp.  I was raised in church – I knew right from wrong and had no way to actually control myself.  I am back serving God and have much stronger self-control skills, and to God be the Glory this verse says self-control is both a gift from God and a fruit to be grown!!! At this point I have a small foundation, acquired through time, but a gift from God none the less. And through our Lord, I can grow it. Nothing is impossible!

And then, I find an old way (a sin) that I slip easily back into (and with me, it’s usually on an impulse). I then wallow and morn my sin and nature – condemning myself so well that the enemy doesn’t have to help – he just watches and cheer me on. I can justify myself through this diagnoses of Impulse Control Disorder – I can give up even trying to change. I am, after all, made this way. And through rationalization and self condemnation I can stop. Stop the flow of God’s grace and stop my own growth and stop the power of God. However….

“There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.” Romans 8:1 KJV
(Read all of Romans 8 – Read all of Romans 8 – Read all of Romans 8)

PRAISE THE LORD!!  I fall, acknowledge my fall, ask for forgiveness, ask to learn from it to prevent it in the future, and move forward in Christ. I will not be chained to it or defeated or held back, but I move forward in new life through grace and faith in Christ Jesus! He forgives us every single time!

Now, Romans 6:1-2 says not to continue in sin that grace may abound, however intentionally trying not to and working through a sin struggle is not willfully continuing in sin. And in no way am I condoning or trying to practice living a sinful life and trying God’s grace – thinking I am ok in Christ while living a way that does not glorify him.  This in my end of the bargain.  Not by my works, but by my willingness to be obedient in order to grow into a better person, the person who God has a blessed plan for – yes, by his grace and mercy for his glory.

So the struggle is: Growing these gifts. Growing as a person. Growing as a Christian.
And it’s all a work of God and done through the gift of grace.

Thank you lord for your gifts – shine through me and use me. Bless my readers and me with gentle growth as you draw us closer to you! In Jesus name I pray – AMEN.