Continued from last month
This issue contains 4 pages instead of the usual 3
One of the verses of the song “Amazing Grace” states: “’Twas grace that taught my heart to fear and grace my fears relieved.” I think I understand what the song’s author meant by those words, but it bothers me that people might actually be afraid of God.
We don’t need to be afraid of God because He loves all of us and extends to all of us his amazing love and grace, flowing out of eternity into each of our lives.
But . . . the Bible does teach about “the fear of God” with a different meaning than being afraid of God. The fear of God taught in the Bible means “to recognize God’s power, majesty, and holiness, causing us to have a repugnance of evil and a desire to do good.” That’s what the fear of God means in the Bible. That type of the fear of God is a “good” type of fear which causes us to want to live lives that please God . . . because He is altogether good and absolutely everything He does is good. Because God’s goodness is part of his core character and nature, He is always working everything out for everyone’s ultimate good.
Grace Leads Us Home
Another verse in the song states: “ . . . grace will lead me home.” The ongoing theme of The Traveler has always been that we are pilgrims on a journey through this life to our ultimate destination, our true Home in Jesus’ Kingdom. The end of this mortal life for each of us is not really the end; it’s really the beginning of our immortal lives in Jesus’ Kingdom throughout coming eons of time, and then—when time ends—in the eternal state of being: our True Home to which we are all journeying through this life. And it’s God’s love and grace—working in and through each of our lives—that lead us home, as the song states.Yes, amazing grace is leading us Home.
A Strong Rope
The Bible makes this simple statement: “A three-stranded rope is not easily broken.” This statement generates many thoughts in my mind. As you read and study this issue of The Traveler, I’ll bethinking about—and writing about—a three-stranded rope of God’s love, grace, and truth. These three attributes of God’s character and nature are a strong, tightly braided cord which God uses to draw all humans to Himself. The Bible states that God is continually drawing every person to Himself through Jesus. He is drawing everyone to Himself just as a powerful magnet inexorably draws iron filings to itself.
For example, Jesus exclaimed: “If I am lifted up [on the cross], I will draw every person to myself. I believe that statement; I take that statement at face value. Yes, in ways that only God knows about, He is pulling every human on earth to Himself. Some people have to be “dragged” with heel marks all the way. Other people are drawn more easily and more willingly because they more readily accept God’s love, grace, and truth by which He is pulling them to Himself.
By grace, we first come to believe in our hearts all that God has done for us through Jesus.In fact, the Bible teaches that it is God’s great grace that first helps us believe the “Good News” of all that God has done for us through Jesus. When we believe in our hearts all that God has accomplished on our behalf, that is called being “born again.” Once we have been born again, then By reading and studying the Bible, applying it to our lives, using it to transform our lives with God’s inner power, we grow in the grace and knowledge of Jesus.
Just As If . . .
As we begin to grow as newly born again believers in Jesus, we then come to understand we are “justified” by grace.What does that mean? Here’s a simple way of understanding it: “justify” means that God treats us just as if we had never sinned against Him by leading self-centered and self-absorbed lives. Realizing that God does not hold our sin against us helps us to want to transform our lives with his inner power. Realizing that God treats us just as if we’d never sinned causes us to want to live our lives in ways that please Him. Not that we can live perfect lives during this life. No, but we can live lives that increasingly please God more and more as we “apply” his empowering grace to our lives.
Living By Grace
The Bible also teaches we live “under grace” (or by grace) instead of under the laws of God.The Old Testament laws of God were like a tutor that caused us to understand Jesus and all He has done for us. Grace helps us understand we now live under new laws such as the “laws” of liberty and freedom through Jesus. The Old Testament laws bring guilt and condemnation; the new laws of liberty and freedom help us live lives that please God—not because we are commanded to or ordered to, but because we want to.
Riches Of Grace
The Bible also teaches about the “riches” of God’s grace.What does that mean?First of all, it does not mean riches in terms of money and wealth. It means that God abundantly furnishes everything we need (not necessarily what we want) to live fruitful lives that please Him and help others in our world—our sphere of influence. Yes, God’s riches of grace mean we are well-supplied with everything we need to live good and godly lives that please God and serve others. Not perfect lives, but good lives with meaning and purpose.
Managers of God’s Grace
The Bible also teaches we are “stewards” or managers of God’s grace.Think of it this way . . . God has an infinite “storehouse” of grace; think of the largest Sam’s Club store you can possibly imagine with rows and rows of goods stacked higher than you can see and extending in long rows farther than you can see. We are managers of that infinite “storehouse” of God’s grace, “dispensing” his grace to others as we are guided and directed by God’s Spirit within us. How do we dispense that grace? First of all, by simply living our lives in such a manner that people can see Jesus in our skin, drawing them to Himself through us.
We also dispense grace by praying for other people. Prayer is not the least we can do for others; it’s the best and most we can do for others. Most of the time we really don’t know what other people’s real needs are. But God does. And as we pray for others, we “release” God’s grace into their lives to meet their real needs.
Spirit of Grace
The Bible teaches that God’s Spirit who came to live inside us when we invited Jesus into our lives is the “Spirit of grace.” As He empowers us from within to live our daily lives among and around other people, we need to “release” Him from within us to reach out to others in supernatural ways only He can do. Since He is the Spirit of grace, when we release Him from within us to meet the needs of others in our worlds, He will always do so with grace. He will never reach out to others through us with condemnation, negativity, or guilt! That’s just not who He is. And that must not be who we are, either. Our lives need to be grace-filled lives in order for others to see God in our lives—living his own supernatural LIFE in us, as us, with us, for us, and through us! By God’s grace, He created each of us. By his grace He saved each of us. His grace is leading and guiding us on our lifelong journey through this all—too-brief life. And—at long last!—his grace will lead us safely through wide open gates into our True Homeland.
Amazing grace! How sweet the sound!
I want to close this month’s issue by sharing with you something personal—something only close friends have known about me . . . until now;I hope this personal disclosure might be helpful and encouraging to you for many years to come. Almost every year I spend the entire month of December taking extra time to pray, partially fast, and read my Bible.
Why? So that I can “hear” from God about what plans and purposes He has in store for me for the upcoming year. Let me give you some recent examples. In December 2010, God informed me that 2011 would be a year of “breakthroughs.” It was! In very significant ways. “Breakthrough” is defined as “a strikingly important advance.” During December 2011, God asked me in 2012 to “launch out into the deep and lower my nets.” (an incident from Luke 5 in the Bible) I was obedient to God to the best of my ability and “caught” a lot of new “fish” in my nets.
Throughout December 2012, God informed me He would re-open his “Bill-Storehouse” for both old and new teachings that would significantly encourage and inspire my hearers and readers. The definition of “storehouse” is “a place where goods of value are stored awaiting distribution.” Last December, here’s what God told me about this year: “Bill, throughout 2014 I want you to know and experience—then teach—Good News about my saving, transforming grace. I want 2014 to be a year of abounding grace in your life and in the lives of others within your sphere of influence.” So far this year,
I’m experiencing God’s grace in a profound, new manner. To me, the question is never “Does God speak to people—to me?” Rather, the real question we should be asking is twofold: “When is there ever a time when God is not speaking to me?” And, “Am I listening?” God generally speaks to people from within us where He abides in his unbodied form of the Holy Spirit. And, He generally speaks to us in five ways. I don’t mean to limit Him to these five ways; He can speak to humans in any way He chooses.
Here are those five ways He generally speaks to us from within us:
- As we read, study, and meditate upon the Bible.
- He implants and imbeds his thoughts and ideas within our own thoughts.
- He shows us dreams, visions, pictures, and images on “the viewing screen” of our spirit and in our creative imaginations.
- He speaks to us through strong impressions, nudgings, and urgings.
- Through speaking in tongues and the immediate interpretation thereof.
What is God saying to YOU about the year 2014?What has God told you He plans to do in YOUR life this year?What plans and purposes does He have in store for you and your loved ones for 2014?
“God’s forgiveness is now made known to everyone. Full salvation by God’s grace is available for everyone! Part of our salvation is being shown how to turn our backs on a self-centered, self-absorbed life, and how to take on a God-honoring, God-filled life.This new life is starting right now, and is whetting our appetites for the glorious day when our great God and Savior, Jesus, will return.Jesus offered Himself as a sacrifice to free us from a dark, rebellious life into a good and godly life, turning us into people He is proud of, whole and complete people full of inner power.” — Titus 2: 11 – 13, paraphrased
To Think About This Month
“Having been justified by God’s amazing grace, we are heirs of all God freely gives us, including his own eternal LIFE!”
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Revised and Updated May 2019