Derwin Gray writes, “I define religion as humanity’s attempt to reach up and earn God’s acceptance, love, and blessings through good behavior or by keeping a specific set of religious principles or laws. Religion, or works-based righteousness, paints a picture of god sitting atop a high peak, waiting for us to scale a mountain through our good behavior or adherence to a set of specific religious principles. The more ‘good’ we do–keep the Sabbath, journey to the holy city, read the Bible, tithe, share our faith, serve in the church–the closer we come to approaching our god through our good deeds.” Then he says, “If we do something bad, the god on the top of the mountain turns Zeus-like and throws a lightening bolt to strike us and knock us back down the mountain. After the electric shock wears off and our singed hair stops smoking, we dust ourselves off, pull ourselves up by our bootstraps, and start the long trek all over again.”
Chapter 6: From Religion to Grace-Covered. As I began reading this chapter, I thought of the lyrics of the song, “Grace Greater Than All Of Our Sin” “Grace, grace, God’s grace, Grace that will pardon and cleanse within; Grace, grace, God’s grace, Grace that is greater than all our sin. Marvelous, infinite, matchless grace, Freely bestowed on all who believe You that are longing to see His face will you this moment His grace receive?”
My grace journey began as I heard Jesus tenderly calling my name. I was eleven sitting under a tree in Hardesty, Oklahoma. We were at camp for Girls Auxiliary with Sixth Avenue Southern Baptist Church from Dodge City, Kansas. When I came home from camp, I was baptized. When I was twelve, I was sure God was calling as a missionary. When I was fifteen, we moved to Southern California. In high school, I led my high school sweet heart to the Lord. When I was eighteen, I became a wife. When I was twenty-one, I became a mother. When I was thirty, I became a discussion leader for Bible Study Fellowship. When I was thirty-seven, I became a nurse. When I was forty-three, I went on a short-term missions trip to Israel with Global Missions Fellowship. When I was forty-four, I became an encourager for Freedom in Christ ministry. When I was forty-five, I became children’s leader at my church. When I was forty-seven, the Children’s Director of our church to go to Tata, Hungary as a children leader on a short mission trip. When I was fifty, I earned my Master’s Degree in Nursing and became a nursing supervisor. When I was fifty-eight, I made a choice and I left my management career transferring to the hospital as a case manager. Every step, every milestone, I experienced God’s grace.
My relationship with God has always been important to me. There was a time when I distanced myself from God. I was angry with God. But God never left me. He has always loved me with an everlasting love. God sees me through Jesus’ righteousness. Derwin Gray writes, “People are sleepwalking through life. We just go through the motions and exist. Life is too short and you are to valuable to sleepwalk through life. Mercy is to the soul what water is to a thirsty man (woman). Love is to the heart what oxygen is to the lungs. Life is to the body what food is to the stomach.”
This chapter speaks about grace. Mr. Gray presents three keys. Key 1– Know that you have past grace. I have been saved from the penalty of sin, this is justification. Romans 3:23 Key 2–Know that you have present grace. I am being saved from the power of sin in the present this is sanctification. Key 3– Know that you have future grace. I will be saved from the presence of sin this is glorification.
When did you accept Jesus as your Savior? John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (NIV)
How has God demonstrated His faithfulness? Philippians 1:8 “being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” (NIV)
What area of your life, do you need to accept God’s grace? Psalm 103:8 “The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love.” (NIV)
Micah 6:8 “He has shown you, O man, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” (NIV)
Father God, you are a God of Grace and Mercy. I ask that You free the woman who is trying to earn your acceptance. Let her know she is already accepted. I pray for the woman who is working to earn her salvation, salvation is a free gift. Father God, we are in need of mercy and love. We need the “grace” label. For the woman striving to be good enough, let her know she is loved. For the woman has felt condemnation because of her choices, let her know that God sees her through Jesus’ righteousness. As Mr. Gray writes, “many try to live for God’s acceptance, love, and blessing instead of living from God’s love, acceptance, and blessings to us based on Jesus’ accomplishments for us.” Lord, let us live in God’s love because he first loved us. Lord let us renounce the lie that we are not accepted, loved, and blessed because we have not done x, y, or z. We are accepted because we believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and His redeeming work on the cross. Lord for the woman who is suffocating from the “carbon monoxide of religion” let her breathe the fresh air of freedom. You say in Galatians 5:1, It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm then and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery. Jesus paid it all. “Jesus paid it all, all to Him I owe, Sin had left a crimson stain, He washed it white as snow.” Blessings….Diana