Works of God

We are thankful that God is always at work causing team members to look more like Jesus. We desire to testify of the grace of God in our lives, and that through the working of Christ in us, you will be encouraged in your relationship with Jesus.

God's Intervention

WillandChristy_13Have you ever experienced God's intervention in your life? Do you ever think what your life would be like without the intervention of God? How has God specifically intervened in your life to cause you to change your course of thinking or action?

Here is one way in which God has intervened in my life!

Wrong course:

I was hurt and not letting go of it.  My thoughts were consumed with it. My heart felt like a bucket with a big hole in the middle. The joy would run right out the bottom. As a result anger and doubt replaced the joy and peace I would normally find in His blessings. Insecurity reigned!

His Intervention:

I was reading 'Respectable Sins' by Bridges and came to the chapter on 'Weeds of Anger'.  He takes the parable from Matthew 18 and walks through the forgiveness the King offers to his servant who owes him an immeasurable debt. Then the forgiven servant goes out and holds his neighbor to the small debt owed to him without mercy. The Holy Spirit opened my eyes to what I was doing. I was that servant not forgiving the small debt when Christ had already forgiven me of my immeasurable debt. He then used a summer study through James 4 to help me take the next needed steps to deal with this sin of bitterness and lack of forgiveness.

His commands:

1. Call it what it is. (vs. 4)

2. Submit to God. (vs. 7)

3. Resist the Devil. (vs. 7)

4. Draw nigh to God. (vs. 8)

5. Cleans your hands, purify your hearts. (vs. 8)

6. Mourn and weep. (vs. 9)

7. Humble yourself. (vs. 10)

These commands are met with His promises:

1. He gives more grace. (vs. 6)

2. He gives grace to the humble. (vs. 6)

3. The Devil will flee from you. (vs. 7)

4. He will draw nigh to you. (vs. 8)

5. He will exalt you. (vs. 10)

Praise God for his merciful intervention!

Christy Galkin

 

Grace - Part 2

Baker_13The last time I was asked to write one of these articles I wrote about grace. God has been using the last year to show me that even though I am starting to conceptually understand the meaning of grace, I still struggle with practically accepting it.

During our time in Salt Lake City, I heard a sermon illustration about a Jewish Rabbi that the pastor had interacted with in Chaplaincy school. This Rabbi was very giving, but he refused to receive a gift. When the pastor confronted him on this matter, he told the Rabbi that he did not believe the Rabbi understood the meaning of grace – receiving a gift that is unearned and undeserved. When the Rabbi heard this definition, he said “No, that is not grace. That is the Bread of Shame.” In Jewish tradition one who takes something he has not earned, or something he does not give back in proportion to what he has received, would be guilty of eating the Bread of Shame.

Over the next week I had some situations come up where I needed help, but I did not want to ask for it, and I certainly did not want anyone to know I needed help. I viewed these things as my responsibility; I did not want to burden anyone else with them. My pride wanted to maintain an appearance that I had it all together and did not need help with such a simple thing. As this problem began to come out, I got angry that it was becoming visible, and I was fearful about being honest. I wanted to hide. As I began to see these responses, the story of the Rabbi came back to my mind. I did not understand grace; I viewed help from anywhere else as shameful.

As God began to work this in my heart, he allowed me to have multiple conversations with people about God’s grace. In my conversations I came across a story about a family who has a little boy who is just learning to communicate. This boy has a favorite train that frequently breaks. Whenever it would break this boy would try to fix it, fail, and get frustrated. Recently this boy has learned that if he just holds up the broken pieces and says “Uh, oh” his mom will come and fix it.

How often am I that little boy? I see the problems in my life and I desire to fix them myself. After multiple failed attempts to fix my problems, I get frustrated and must resign myself to the fact it is impossible and I am stuck here. Really, all God desires is for me to humble myself, admit I have a problem, and ask for his help.

In the moment I acknowledge my sin and my weakness and I ask God for his help, that moment of sin has been transformed into a means of fellowship with God. By admitting I cannot do it and that I need His help and His grace, He now is the one who gets the glory for the change in my life.

When James 4 speaks of sanctifying change in the life of the believer, James lists multiple sins that were evident in that body of believers. However, James does not tell them to simply stop it or to work harder to fix those problems, but rather he says, “But He giveth more grace. Therefore it says, ‘God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble.’ … Draw nigh to God, and He will draw nigh to you…Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He shall lift you up.” (James 4:6 , 8a, 10). As a Christian I feel like I need to be able to make it through a day and not need God’s grace. In reality, as a Christian, I cannot live a day apart from the grace of God.

   

How God has Blessed in Salt Lake City

Garrison_13I was not sure what to expect as we traversed the western plains into Utah. All the talk about Salt Lake City (SLC) had been ringing in my ears for so long! As usual, I was looking forward to the adventure of exploring a different city, but this would not be the only different experience I was going to have. I was going to be traveling with a different team, helping a different church, working a different job, living in a different home, and interacting with different people. I had no idea what I would learn. As I review the last six weeks in my mind, I would describe them in three words: breaking, stretching and rewarding.

The Lord has broken me in the very ways that I thought were “stronger points” in my life. He has shown me how much I depend on my own self-righteousness to earn validity or favor with other people. For example, God revealed a circumstance in which I was elevating myself above another team member because they were manifesting a certain stronghold in their life by how they were communicating. I immediately judged the person, but then realized that I struggle with the same idol, only I do not talk about it because I do not want others to know that I struggle with the same sins. This is one of the many ways and circumstances in which God has chosen to break me, and I am thankful for it.

God has also allowed me to go through some stretching experiences while living in Salt Lake. The first Sunday we were here, I met two girls and one was a believer. Will had talked to the other girl and had given her a Bible because she did not have one and was interested in knowing more about God and the gospel. Well, these two young ladies and I started studying the Gospel together. For the last four weeks I was able to share more about my faith according to the Bible with this unsaved girl. Although she does not understand or completely believe the Gospel at this point, she does enjoy discussing and learning more about it. I am thankful for the opportunity that God has given me to strengthen my faith and belief in the Gospel. I am also thankful for the chance to love on these girls as Christ loves, even though we may not believe the same thing. Please be in prayer as this unsaved girl is in need of a relationship with Jesus!

Finally, I feel as though the time here in Salt Lake City has been rewarding! God has changed me, revealed sin to me, allowed me to work through relational conflicts, made me uncomfortable in myself, loved me through other Christians, and taught me more about His love, His grace, and the Gospel. The Lord has knit my heart to the people in Salt Lake City and to Gospel Grace Church in a way that I could not have imagined before I came out here. I will be sad to leave, but excited to see how God will continue to work in my life and the relationships that have been built here.

As the team continues forth in ministry, please pray with me Colossians 1:9-14 . “That ye might be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God; Strengthened with all might, according to his glorious power, unto all patience and longsuffering with joyfulness; Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light: Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son: In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins:”

- Jessica Garrison

 

The Power I Steal from God

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Have you ever lost sleep thinking about what God was teaching you? When you are so full of conviction over a sin or situation that you literally cannot sleep. That happened to me this very week. As we traveled into Salt Lake City and the team starting settling in, I was face to face with an ugly truth. I wanted to be in control of what happened in my life and not God. When this truth and wrong belief was revealed, it hit me like a ton of bricks. Not just because of the one situation, but because I realized that throughout this past summer I was struggling with the same thing, but I was blinded. I realized the pain I had caused and the power that I was trying to steal from my God. I was literally wrestling with the Lord.

That night, as I was going to bed, I was full of such sorrow and tears that I could not sleep. I was struggling with choosing to focus on things that I could not change and actually being grateful and joyful that God was kind enough to show me my sin. By God’s grace, the gratefulness and joy in the Lord was won. I was in awe that God loved me enough to let me fail, so that I could see that I was never in control; that I could never actually steal power from God. He held on to my heart as I pulled and acted as a fool. In 1 Corinthians 1:15 it says, “Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men.” I am a fool to think that I can manipulate such an awesome God! And even more amazingly, He even uses the fool to do His work.

In Philippians 1:6 it says, “Being confident of the very thing, that he that hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.” What a precious promise! God is still working on this unfinished product. We are broken vessels used to glorify His name. I often give the illustration that when you put a candle into a vase that is glued together with broken pieces, it is much more beautiful than the one that has no broken parts. The light is all you see through the broken vase.

When I think of broken vessels used for God’s glory, I think of Paul. He was greatly used of God, but he was a sinner just like you and me. He struggled with God, but he obeyed. He let God use him and have power over his life. I think of the Church at Colossae that he was burdened for in his heart. He was currently in jail when he wrote to them. He had no power or control over the people or God. He was forced to be in a place where all he could do was trust that the Lord was working. The last verse of Colossians 1 says this, “Whereunto I also labour, striving according to his working, which worketh in me mightily.” As he toiled over the burden that he had for the people of Colossae, he claimed God’s promise of completing His work. God is powerfully in control!

- Sarah Roe

   

If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves

stephgreenwoodbio2Hi! I'm the new girl. I was set to graduate college a semester early and was seeking the Lord for the next step of my life. Unexpectedly, the Lord in His great love for me directed Will to ask me to travel. It has now been thirteen weeks on the road, and in those thirteen weeks I have seen God work in a completely new way than ever before! I joined the team confident in almost every area of my life. And in the matter of one conversation all that changed. I was viewing everything wrong. My whole view of life and God’s love for me was wrong. I thought that the goal of life was to get through a day without sinning. I thought that if people didn’t think I was sinning then at least I would be one step closer to God being happy with me and one step closer to my real idol of people liking me.

After a few weeks on the road I began to get frustrated. “Why can’t I just keep it together? Why am I constantly struggling in such ugly ways? Why is this so hard?” God in His grace was breaking me, although I didn’t know it. He was making me uncomfortable in my sin and showing me my uncleanness! “But we are all like an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags; we all fade as a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.” (Isaiah 64:6 ) Finally in God’s perfect timing, He began to reveal to me what He was doing and how this would fit in His perfect plan for my life. Verse’s like, “He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy” (Prov 28:13 ) took on a whole new meaning. I couldn’t fix myself and I couldn’t stop sinning. I hate my sin but without it I couldn’t see God in all His glory and mercy! My first reaction (besides crying) was confusion at how I had missed this for so long. But Will lovingly reminded me that God’s timing is perfect even in this situation. I needed the last twenty-two years of my life to make the next however many years I have left more glorifying to God!

"But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." (1 John 1:7-9 )

Who am I? I am Stephanie Faith Greenwood, a sinner deserving hell and eternal separation from God, I am forgiven because of Jesus Christ’s blood, and am a child of the King of Kings who has adopted me into His family. I am sin-bound but living in the truth that Christ died once for all my sin past, present, and future! I have a lot of growing to do and even more failing then I would like to think possible, but I have a big and loving God to see me through it all!

-Stephanie Greenwood

 

Grace

bakerwogGrace. What is grace? If you had asked me this question a year ago I would’ve been like “Oh, I know what that is...” But over the course of the last year God has been teaching me about grace.

One night during the summer I was praying with a team member, as we prayed he said “God, help Jon Baker to be ok with being a sinner.” This statement shocked me. I was NOT ok with being a sinner… that didn’t even make sense. I hated being a sinner.

In his book Holiness by Grace, Bryan Chapell says “After initially trusting in Christ to make them right with God, many Christians embark on an endless pursuit of trying to satisfy God with good works that will keep him loving them.” This was exactly where I was. I was trusting in Christ’s work for my salvation, but my own work for my sanctification. I thought that God’s acceptance of me post salvation was directly related to how little I sinned, how much I read my bible, how much I witnessed, how involved I was at my church, and the list goes on. I knew these things could not save me, but when I wouldn’t read my bible, when I didn’t witness, and when I saw the greatness of my sin, I would despair and think that I couldn’t have a relationship with God because I had once again failed.

Grace is the understanding that it’s ok that I’m a sinner. Not that I should intentionally continue in sin, (Romans 6:1 ) but rejoice that God saved me as a sinner, and no longer views me a sinner. It is covered. He took my record of sin, past present and future, and credited to me his perfect life. There is nothing more that I can do. God views me as his righteous child.

There is still residual sin in this fleshly body, but that is no longer my identity. Grace does not remove the necessity of obedience, but rather changes the motive from obeying to seek God’s acceptance to obeying BECAUSE I’m accepted. It’s a complete change in perspective. Because of grace, I don’t have to live today in the shadow of yesterday’s sin and I don’t have to live life judging others by their sin. Grace says that God loved this sinner so that I as a sinner would love Him and love other sinners.

-John Baker

   

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