Day 28: Pray for the salvation of the women in the knitting/felting group. This group includes the wife and mom of the family we will be working alongside in Dublin. She is the leader and there are several women who come together to meet, talk, and knit/felt together. Pray for them, and pray for Mrs. A. Pray that she would have wisdom and grace to offer to these women. Pray that they would start asking deeper questions, and be open to talking of spiritual things.
Colossians 4:2-6 (ESV)
2(A) Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it(B) with thanksgiving. 3At the same time, pray also for us, that God may(C) open to us a door for the word,(D) to declare the mystery of Christ,(E) on account of which I am in prison— 4that I may make it clear, which is how I ought to speak.
I could hardly believe what I was reading when I looked up the passage for Sunday. As I have prayed, I have wanted God to give us wisdom when approaching those in Dublin that we will be interacting with. May God open doors for us! I love how Paul emphasizes thanksgiving with prayer. If all I am is demanding things of God, I am not humbled and submissive to His will, or to His leading.
I also love the way the ESV puts it when it says, “let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt.” That is how my conversations with people are supposed to be regardless. But especially when I am in contexts and cultures with which I am unfamiliar or am intimidated, I can find peace and rest in knowing that God is with me as I answer each individual. I so badly want my communication to be gracious…
So often, whether it is in Ireland, or in the United States, “religion” can take the place of grace.
A simple definition of grace is receiving something as a pure gift…something that I do not at all deserve. When pride starts to slip in, when I am so confident (in myself, not Christ), I become independent and start believing that God “owes me”. “God owes me a husband. God owes me a family. God owes me children. God owes me a status and reputation in the community. God owes me friends. God owes me food. God owes me clothes. God owes me a car that runs. God owes me….(you fill in the blank).”
But these thoughts put a film over my vision of who God really is. My demanding spirit makes me bitter toward God and where He has me right now. I stop seeing how He is my provider and protector and start seeking these things on my own. I’m not saying that this is an easy battle to fight, but it must be fought.
Somehow in my early years as a Christian, satan put the thought into my head (coupled with my sin nature) that God OWED ME. “Look at all I have done for You God! See how holy and righteous I am?! Doesn’t that mean anything to You? Yeah, so you should give me what I want. NOW. You should make me HAPPY!” This thought pattern was a lot sneakier than what I just wrote, but it was deep down, the same nonetheless.
What I didn’t really want was Holiness. I wanted happiness. Somehow I confused (and continually find my self confusing) the Old Testament promise God gave the Israelites of “If you obey me, I will bless you.” What I thought He was saying was that blessing would come the way I wanted it, when I wanted it, and who I wanted to be involved with it. It became, “If you obey me, I will give you what you want.” Somehow I thought I could earn His love.
As I head into the summer, leaving the day after tomorrow, I have to get a firmer hold on grace. Grace and mercy are the footholds of the Gospel…the good news! No matter what denomination you find yourself in, God is continually wanting to re-shape our view of what we think we know with the truth found in His Word. And, Satan is continually wanting to re-shape the truth God plants in our minds with the desire for happiness, rather than holiness. Satan wants us to think that someway, somehow, we can earn God’s approval and favor. If he makes us believe that, he can make us believe that we, not God, are in control of the situation, and that we can manipulate God for our own ends.
But the Gospel is so beautiful in comparison to that trash, garbage, refuse.
By grace, God gave me (you too!) His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him, should not perish, but see eternal life (John 3:16). We didn’t deserve it. We were dead in our trespasses and sins! We didn’t work up enough spiritual disciplines (prayer, reading the scriptures, piety, morality, going to church) to warrant His coming. It seems to me the Jews already tried that, and ended up with more death because God gave them the Law to point out sin, not to heal or save by it!
It’s His love and power that draws us to Him. He captures our hearts by His GRACE. It is His grace that drives me to act, speak, believe, and live.