I’m hoping that one of these days, I’ll hear God’s voice again saying that I’m doing a good thing and I’m on the right track.
I’ve been there! Have you?
Matter of fact, I was there—hoping to hear God’s voice telling me once again I was on the right track—from the early 80’s until about two years ago! It was a long dry spell…
In 1977 God met me in the parking lot of a local bar when I cried out for help after a “night out with the girls.” Up to that point God was a concept I gave little or no consideration. Over the next year or two He made me into a new person and gave me a huge hunger for His Word. Through listening to the teachings of several men and women of faith and studying my Bible extensively, under the tutelage of the Holy Spirit, [1 John 2:20] I learned to trust God and put the Word FIRST in every area. If God said it, I knew it was trustworthy.
It was not unusual for me to chime in during our Bible study group discussions with, “But that’s not what it says in my Bible!” This statement usually sucked the air out of the room, as if I’d just made an enormous social faux pas. But for me…it said what it meant and meant what it said. I knew without question God loved me and was looking out for me—giving his angels charge over me.
In 1982 we were moved into a religious setting for my husband’s work and condemnation moved in with us.
Suddenly “Ministers” in this prominent denomination were teaching their doctrine first and the law second. My Bible told me, “… the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.” John 1:17 But who was I to argue with such scholars? Truthfully in those sermons, there wasn’t much said about Jesus that didn’t start with, “For ALL have sinned and fallen short.” I was hearing that if I did something wrong, I would be “punished” with illness or accidents, to teach me a lesson. Slowly the condemnation of religion wore me down, overwhelming my first love and my first faith.
From the early encounters with God’s Word, I felt my “Job” was to mentor young women in the Word, sharing my testimony and pouring out God’s love and grace rather than the religious doctrine they were being fed. Even though there were several opportunities to speak to Women’s Groups I began to believe that God was not able to use me because I was not perfect and could not live up to the religious pattern of ‘do good.’
As the opportunities to share my testimony diminished, there were more and more reasons offered by “the ladies of the church” to explain why God could not trust me to teach others what he had given to me. I was drowning in a sea of religious legalism, condemnation and guilt. And eventually, I pulled away from speaking God’s name outside the confines of our home entirely.
I enjoyed a glass of wine with dinner. I swore, whole-heatedly when frustration overwhelmed me. I didn’t pray enough, read my Bible enough, attend enough Christian Women’s functions. How could God give me the desires of my heart when I didn’t love him with my whole being and act like it every minute of every day?
I wasn’t good enough to be called a Christian!
So I gave up! For over 20 years I was angry with myself, angry with God, angry with my husband, and angry with all things religious.
About two and a half years ago I started hearing the Holy Spirit teach the truth I had believed at first so many years ago. Because of the Word, I KNOW God loves me as much as he did in the early years. He is the same, yesterday, today and forever. He never moved. I did.
Every day, as we read the Word, guided by the Holy Spirit, our faith is restored. Our love for Christ is increased and we grow stronger, more healthy and exceedingly abundantly blessed. As we began to devote ourselves to the truth once more—moving away from religious doctrine and legalism back into grace—several other things happened as well. We were invited to leave the small non-denominational church we had been attending, because they would not accept our belief that God will not revoke our salvation if we aren’t perfectly following the law. Have they never read Romans chapter 8? A young couple, we had been mentoring in the Gospel of Grace, abruptly stopped their fellowship with us because they could not accept our telling them God did not cause the tragic events in their past to teach them a lesson. Praise God these incidents only served to reinforce our growing conviction in Jesus’ love and God’s grace.
Today I understand I will never be able to love God enough. I cannot earn God’s love. It is not about what I do or don’t do. God’s love is this: not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation (the act of atoning for sin or wrongdoing) for our sins. 1 John 4:10 God’s love is made perfect IN Jesus. In Him we (you and me) are loved, blessed, healed, made whole, and highly favored. When God looks at us (you and me) he sees his children, his Beloved children, in whom he is well pleased.
I have an entire category here at Nana Ellen’s devoted to GRACE…Abundant Grace…
Grace is: the undeserved, unmerited favor of God, through his Son, toward me, the most undeserving of all believers. God is Love. Jesus is God’s Grace incarnate!
When God looks at me (and you) he does not see a sinner, saved from, but still wrapped up in sin. When God looks at those of us who are IN Christ Jesus, he sees one who is perfectly and completely clothed in Jesus, washed clean, made whole and acceptable through the Cross.
Paul, the apostle of Grace wrote these words to the church he planted in Ephesus:
2 May grace (God’s unmerited favor) and spiritual peace [which means peace with God and harmony, unity, and undisturbedness] be yours from God our Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ.
3 May blessing (praise, laudation, and eulogy) be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ (the Messiah) Who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual (given by the Holy Spirit) blessing in the heavenly realm!
4 Even as [in His love] He chose us [actually picked us out for Himself as His own] in Christ before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy (consecrated and set apart for Him) and blameless in His sight, even above reproach, before Him in love.
5 For He foreordained us (destined us, planned in love for us) to be adopted (revealed) as His own children through Jesus Christ, in accordance with the purpose of His will [because it pleased Him and was His kind intent]—
6 [So that we might be] to the praise and the commendation of His glorious grace (favor and mercy), which He so freely bestowed on us in the Beloved.
7 In Him we have redemption (deliverance and salvation) through His blood, the remission (forgiveness) of our offenses (shortcomings and trespasses), in accordance with the riches and the generosity of His gracious favor,
8 Which He lavished upon us in every kind of wisdom and understanding (practical insight and prudence),
9 Making known to us the mystery (secret) of His will (of His plan, of His purpose). [And it is this:] In accordance with His good pleasure (His merciful intention) which He had previously purposed and set forth in Him,
10 [He planned] for the maturity of the times and the climax of the ages to unify all things and head them up and consummate them in Christ, [both] things in heaven and things on the earth. Ephesians 1:2-10 The Amplified Bible
The Holy Spirit dictated them for me (and for you). Read them carefully! Read them thoughtfully. Read them prayerfully…
His glorious grace which He so freely bestowed on us in the Beloved! Jesus rose from His baptismal waters of the Jordan river hearing the voice of the Father, “You are my Beloved son, in whom I am well pleased.” Remember?
Jesus is the Beloved Son. As He is, so are we in this world! 1 John4:17
Paul went on to pray for his spiritual children at Ephesus:
17 [For I always pray to] the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, that He may grant you a spirit of wisdom and revelation [of insight into mysteries and secrets] in the [deep and intimate] knowledge of Him,
18 By having the eyes of your heart flooded with light, so that you can know and understand the hope to which He has called you, and how rich is His glorious inheritance in the saints (His set-apart ones),
19 And [so that you can know and understand] what is the immeasurable and unlimited and surpassing greatness of His power in and for us who believe, as demonstrated in the working of His mighty strength,
20 Which He exerted in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His [own] right hand in the heavenly [places],
21 Far above all rule and authority and power and dominion and every name that is named [above every title that can be conferred], not only in this age and in this world, but also in the age and the world which are to come.
22 And He has put all things under His feet and has appointed Him the universal and supreme Head of the church [a headship exercised throughout the church],
23 Which is His body, the fullness of Him Who fills all in all [for in that body lives the full measure of Him Who makes everything complete, and Who fills everything everywhere with Himself]. Ephesians 1:17-23
I bow my knees before the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
15 For Whom every family in heaven and on earth is named [that Father from Whom all fatherhood takes its title and derives its name].
16 May He grant you out of the rich treasury of His glory to be strengthened and reinforced with mighty power in the inner man by the [Holy] Spirit [Himself indwelling your innermost being and personality].
17 May Christ through your faith [actually] dwell (settle down, abide, make His permanent home) in your hearts! May you be rooted deep in love and founded securely on love,
18 That you may have the power and be strong to apprehend and grasp with all the saints [God’s devoted people, the experience of that love] what is the breadth and length and height and depth [of it];
19 [That you may really come] to know [practically, [e]through experience for yourselves] the love of Christ, which far surpasses [f]mere knowledge [without experience]; that you may be filled [through all your being] [g]unto all the fullness of God [may have the richest measure of the divine Presence, and [h]become a body wholly filled and flooded with God Himself]!
20 Now to Him Who, by (in consequence of) the [action of His] power that is at work within us, is able to [carry out His purpose and] do superabundantly, far over and above all that we [dare] ask or think [infinitely beyond our highest prayers, desires, thoughts, hopes, or dreams]—
21 To Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations forever and ever. Amen (so be it). Ephesians 3:14-21
This is God’s voice saying I’m doing a good thing. I’m on the right track. You are doing the right thing.
You ARE on the right track!! Blessed and highly favored.