Well, I’ve been looking so forward to having time to write this week’s blog post. I’ve been talking to lots of people about this particular subject over the past 7 days which is always such a huge help to me in preparing to write.
When I sat down with my laptop to begin writing last night I prayed, “Dear God, I need Your help. Wow, do I need Your help to write this post.”
My daughter Angel overheard me praying and said, “Mom, don’t you know what to write?”
Haha! “Nope, I sure don’t,” I replied.
Then I continued, “I have had some ideas rolling around in my heart all week long, but I don’t know exactly how to say what I want to say in a way that will really help and inspire others without the help of the Holy Spirit!” (see John 14:26)
The idea for this post first came when I received an email last week from someone who I will call Becca. Becca is not her real name, but she gave me permission to share her story. Let’s just say Becca’s emails made my week!
Here is her first email to me with nothing changed except her name:
I have been following your teachings on the grace of GOD for a few months now. While I have been a Christian all my life I have never truly had a revelation of what it means to live under His grace. I’m in my early 30’s now; however, in my younger years I was an active fornicator. After a season of repentance and getting myself right with GOD again I returned to celibacy.
Unfortunately 2 months ago I made a poor choice which resulted in an unwanted pregnancy. As I’m writing this email to you I’m in the midst of a very painful miscarriage. I don’t have anyone with whom I can talk to about this since my father is a very well known Bishop in my area. I just want to know if there is anything I can do to make myself right with GOD. I have asked Him to forgive me and I believe He has; however, I feel I have ruined my chances of Him blessing me with a GODLY husband which has been my hearts desire ever since I was a little girl. I have returned to celibacy and this time I am determined to do it right and not to fail. I would welcome any advice you would share with me. I have watched and witnessed what a great relationship you have with GOD and how He talks to you and I would do anything you say to get myself back to being right with GOD.
This email was sent to me on May 17th, 2014 and as you have read, Becca was in a very tough situation. That night after my family had gone to bed, I had Becca on my heart and wanted to respond to her email, but didn’t know what I was going to say.
We’ll get back to the story in a while, but first, this is the perfect time to talk about what true ministry is. I think it needs to be clarified because I think there’s a good number of people that get confused while trying to discover their calling or find their ministry.
I used to be one of these people and it certainly was not because I was taught this way, because I wasn’t; but I had the wrong idea that unless I was standing on a stage or doing something that the world would consider glamorous and unless I was surrounded by a large crowd who was interested in listening to me, I didn’t really have a ministry. Now I know that nothing could be further from the truth and I want to help others see this as well.
Back to Becca’s story.
I sat at my computer and prayed, “God, I want to help this lady, but I don’t know what to say. What do you want me to say?” God sure did help me and for about the next 20 minutes I never stopped typing.
I am so glad you emailed me. I’m sorry you do not have anyone else you can turn to, but you do have your Heavenly Father and I encourage you to take everything to Him that you are going through.
The Bible says we can and should come to God’s throne of grace, even when we have sinned, because that is where we find the help we need in our time of need. So don’t be afraid to go to God about everything. Even when you have done something sinful, He will never leave you or stop loving you.
Hebrews 4:16 says:
16 So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive His mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most. (NLT)
Once a person has accepted Jesus as their Savior and become a Christian, they remain righteous and forgiven from that moment on. I know it’s hard to grasp because God’s grace (His unmerited favor) is so good that it’s hard to believe, but even the moment after you made the poor decision a couple of months ago, you were still just as righteous as you were the moment before you made the wrong choice. How can this be? Because your righteousness and my righteousness, as Believers in Jesus, is no longer based on what we do or fail to do. It is solely based on what Jesus did for us on the cross.
Look at this verse:
2 Corinthians 5:21
21 For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ. (NLT)
You see Becca, you never became ‘not right’ with God, even when you sinned, because your right standing with God is based on Him and His goodness, not yours.
Another thing that is always yours, is forgiveness. You stand forgiven and you can walk in that confidence every day. Again, this has been made possible for us because of Jesus’ finished work on the cross.
The systems that are set up today that say you have to do this or do that in order to remain righteous and stay forgiven are religious systems that have been put in place by man. God wants relationship with us, not a bunch of do’s and don’ts. And actually, when we focus on relationship with God and on living under (putting our faith in) His grace, we do end up repenting regularly, but not out of fear that He will be mad at us if we don’t. We end up repenting because we keep seeing His goodness toward us whether we are good or not and that leads us to repentance (see Romans 2:4).
The great news is, when we do focus on Jesus and our relationship with Him, we will end up being changed from glory to glory and the changing in us is done by the Holy Spirit. (see 2 Corinthians 3:18).
Since I have been on this grace journey for a couple of years now, I know how to spot a works mentality and I noticed this in your email to me. You said, “I just want to know if there is anything I can do to make myself right with GOD.”
The only thing any one of us need to do to make ourself right with God is believe in and accept Jesus as our savior!
…and here’s more good news
Galatians 2:19-21 says:
19For when I tried to keep the law, it condemned me. So I died to the law I stopped trying to meet all its requirements so that I might live for God. 20My old self has been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, Who loved me and gave Himself for me. 21I do not treat the grace of God as meaningless. For if keeping the law could make us right with God, then there was no need for Christ to die. (NLT)
So the bottom line is, once you have received Jesus you are right with God, apart from anything you do or fail to do and you don’t have to keep trying to do things to keep yourself righteous. You don’t need to try to make up for your sin because that would be like saying to God, “Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross was not enough for me so here, let me add a little bit of guilt and condemnation to His sacrifice and I’ll add in some works so I can be made right with Him.
You also said this in your email: “I feel I have ruined my chances of Him blessing me with a GODLY husband which has been my hearts desire ever since I was a little girl.”
I can totally relate to what you are saying and before I understood what grace really was, I lived with this fear too, that if I had done something wrong I would lose out on God’s goodness toward me. But now I understand and fully believe that God’s goodness toward me is not based on me, it’s simply based on His unmerited favor (grace) alone.
This is why so many people have a very difficult time accepting true grace. They want something more complicated so they can feel like they are doing something to earn their way. Oh my gosh, I was totally like this before, for many years, but now I seriously get the biggest kick out of believing God to pour on His unmerited favor, even though I already know I am not perfect. It’s all about believing, not doing; but right believing does naturally lead you to right doing so it’s a win/win situation.
I don’t know if you have the time to reads books, but if you could take the time, I HIGHLY recommend that you buy Joseph Prince’s book titled Unmerited Favor. In my personal journey of learning about and growing in God’s grace this book has been the most important thing that God led me to so I could get a real clear understanding of true grace. And if you get it, be sure NOT to skip the introduction to the book. I was crying on the very first page of the introduction as I began to get a deep revelation of God’s great love for me.
I literally felt like I was in Bible college when I read this book and have used it as a resource ever since. It’s very easy to understand because grace is simple, not complicated. I think that is why I loved the book so much. I had complicated my Christian life to the max before this.
Pastor Prince also has a new book out that is wonderful that my husband and I just finished called The Power Of Right Believing.
So in answer to your statement about ruining your chances for God to bless you with a Godly husband, the only way you can do that is by not believing and not receiving His grace (His unmerited favor) and instead saying to yourself, “No, I don’t deserve it because I have not done enough to earn it.” That is religion, not relationship.
Then I noticed that you said this, “This time I am determined to do it right and not to fail.”
God wants you looking to Jesus and depending on His ability in you to keep you pure in this area. You can keep your eyes on Him and He will keep you. This will put you in a place of resting in Him. He doesn’t want you to try your hardest in your own strength or depend on your own self-efforts to get you through. This would put you in a place of struggle, frustration and even anxiety, worrying that you may fall into sin once again in this area. You can trust God.
Jesus said this in John 6:29,
Jesus told them, This is the only work God wants from you: Believe in the one He has sent. (NLT)
Maybe this is quite different than how you are used to dealing with your sin. I’m not sure. But I am so glad you emailed. I hope that what God has led me to say to you here today will set you in a place of rest because you are loved by God and no matter what you do, He will always love you. Some people are afraid that telling others this will cause them to run off and sin more, but it doesn’t. The opposite happens. When you know that you are loved, you are forgiven and you are righteous, all because of Jesus, it will cause you to fall more in love with Jesus than you ever imagined possible.
I am assuming by your email that you have already accepted Jesus as your Savior, but if you have not, that is definitely your first step. If not, go to my blog page called Jesus In The Driver’s Seat and read about how you can become Born Again. You cannot enter into Heaven based on your own good works. Jesus said, I am the way, I am the truth, I am the Life, no one comes to the Father except through me!
I hope you are encouraged!
In His Grace,
Two days later I heard back from Becca:
OH MY GOSH!!!! I can’t put into words what I’ve experienced. Honestly I don’t want you to think I’m crazy but I’m going to tell you exactly what happened. I printed out your email and highlighted all the scriptures and took notes and studied them. I was feeling so down and so worthless to GOD I was considering taking my own life. When you took the time to email me back and give me such a revelation about GOD I felt like someone cared. I know it may sound silly because we don’t personally know each other but as I was reading your words it was like you were right here with me.
When I got to the scripture in John 6:29 I felt the presence of GOD very gently just wash over me. Then tears began to stream down my face and please don’t think I’m crazy but I really feel like I heard GOD to say to me “I still love you, I still have a plan for you and you are valuable to Me”.
While I’ve grown up in church all my life (I’m a PK, my parents have been pastoring for 31 years) I have NEVER had an encounter with GOD like I had while reading your email and studying these scriptures. Even as I type the tears are still streaming down my face. The last part of what He said keeps playing over and over in my head “you are valuable to Me”
In that intimate moment with The Lord I recommitted myself to my relationship with Him but this time I said to GOD that I wanted to have a relationship with Him under His grace and not under the law. I didn’t even realize until you brought it to my attention that my mentality regarding GOD was so wrong. I realize that that is why I have struggled so much in my relationship with Christ because I was trying to do it in myself. And now because of you I realize that I can have a relationship with Christ that is free from guilt and condemnation because He loves me.
I know I may seem to be rambling a bit but I’m still quite overwhelmed at the fact that Christ loves me.
Sandra, from the bottom of my heart I want to say THANK YOU. With all the responsibilities you have you took the time to email me back and give me a much needed revelation of Christ, and give me His word. Sandra you saved my life. I was without hope. I was depressed. I was feeling very lonely and in one email you turned my whole life around. Thank you so much I cannot thank you enough!!!!! You are so valuable to the kingdom of GOD because I know you will help others just as you have helped me.
I have ordered both those recommended books by Joseph Prince (they should arrive by the end of this week) I am also reading your mom’s book “You Can Begin Again.” I have also written out the scriptures you gave me on notecards and whenever the enemy comes to attack me with wrong thinking about myself I just read those scriptures out loud. I even put them on my iPhone and my iPad so when I turn them on the first thing I see are those scriptures.
It feels amazing to know that GOD really does love me.
I really really really truly thank you Sandra. You saved me from taking my own life.
Living Under Grace,
Becca and I have been emailing back and forth all week and here is one of my favorite things she said in another email.
I can’t believe that I have professed to be a Christian all my life and never felt this type of intimacy with GOD. It’s the most amazing thing! GOD is so AMAZING!!!
Back in 2012 when I felt led to write a book and then ended up, by God’s grace, getting a publishing contract and became an author, I didn’t start thinking, “Ok, now I’ve found my ministry, I’m an author.” No, that’s not the way I see it anymore. Here’s how I see it now.
I am privileged to be called into this awesome, close, personal relationship with God and everything else I am called to do flows out of my relationship with God. (It’s the same with you)
I am called to be a loving wife who encourages my husband. I am called to be a Mom who loves and trains up my children. I am called to live led by the Spirit and minister to whoever I feel I am suppose to minister to as I’m out and about in my everyday life, including those emails that probably only took me 30 minutes total, to help Becca this week. I am called to encourage people. I am called to have a blog. And yes, I am called to write a book, but writing it is only part of my calling.
You see, it’s all part of our ministry and every one of us are called as ministers of the good news! I believe as we see our ministry in a much broader sense rather than just thinking we are called to do this ‘one thing,’ we will begin to get out of bed in the morning with a spring in our step, so excited to see what adventure God has for us each day!
Ministry, of course, can be done from a stage, but more often than not it’s the behind the scenes ministry that nobody will be applauding your for, but is just as grande and glorious in the eyes of God, that will get the good news spread all over the world.
Always remember, it’s not what you do that matters as far as how important the world views it. What matters the most is that you do what God asks you to do, whether that be hidden away somewhere where nobody will ever know or whether it be in front of many.
Does it really matter what we are doing if our heart is to live our lives to bring God glory? If we really want Him to get all the credit, why does it matter who does what? It doesn’t, that’s the point, and the more solid each of us becomes in knowing who we are in Christ and that our worth and value is solely tied to our identity in Him, the less we will do what we do to be seen by others.
I prayed and felt I needed to share this story here with you because I knew it would really help me make my point, but I didn’t feel in the least that I HAD to do this so you would think I was wonderful. I’m not interested in that at all, but I am interested in you thinking Jesus is wonderful!
I care about Becca the same whether anyone knows about it or not. What matters to God is that we see each and every person on this planet as someone who Jesus went to the cross for and gave His life for because when we place that kind of high value on every person, it then becomes about them and not us anymore. It then becomes about them hearing the good news instead of about who’s watching us or about who’s seeing our good works.
Becca thanked me for saving her life in that email, but you and I both know Who saved her life. It sure wasn’t me. I was just a vessel that God chose to use and He wants to use you too, every single day of your life!
I’ve been on cloud nine this week after seeing Becca’s life transformed and seeing her begin to get grace, and this whole experience reminded me once again that everyone has a ministry and they probably don’t have to look very far to find it.
Becca just needed to be reminded of what she already had in Christ Jesus. When she got it, Oh, I AM already loved, I AM right now righteous in Christ, I AM totally forgiven, it completely changed everything for her just like it does for anyone and everyone else, the moment they really understand the good news about grace!
It’s all about Jesus, friends. Let’s keep pointing people to Jesus every chance we get!
If you have not yet made Jesus your Savior and received the wonderful joy that His finished work on the cross has provided for you to live in, please visit my page here titled Jesus In The Driver’s Seat. On this page I explain the good news of the gospel and you will have the opportunity to pray a prayer of salvation, making Jesus your Savior! Jesus loves you and His arms are wide open!