Evidences of Grace
I am riding down the highway in Colorado from our Acts 29 annual retreat in Vail CO. The retreat is four days of heaven for our lead planters and wives. We had over 250 people attend the best retreat we have ever had. The theme of the retreat was “Evidences of Grace” based on a challenge given by my friend CJ Mahaney at an Acts 29 boot camp about 18 months ago. Each of our 10 regions reported the evidences of grace they had experienced in their region. It was a phenomenal experience of love and adoration of our Savior.
Should we expect God to bless us? Then why do we get angry when we experience failure or just average success? CJ said in his message that if we don’t recognize the evidences of God’s grace in our lives, then we are self-centered and thus we cannot be cross-centered.
CJ said, “Most people are more aware of the absence of God than the presence of God. Most people are more aware of the presence of sin than evidences of grace. What a privilege and joy it is in pastoral ministry…to turn one’s attention to ways in which God is at work, because so often people are unaware of God’s work. And much of God’s work in our lives is quiet; it’s not ‘spectacular.’ It’s rarely obvious to the individual, and normally it’s incremental and takes place over a lengthy period of time.”
So how do we identify evidences of grace?
Start by reflecting on the list of fruit of the Spirit. How has God demonstrated Himself through the fruit? How have others shown the gospel through demonstrations of the fruit of the Spirit? You may find the evidences of God’s grace in places you have never looked.
- Love - "And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him" (1 John 4:16). Through Jesus Christ, our greatest goal is to do all things in love. "Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails" (1 Corinthians 13:4-8).
- Joy - "The joy of the Lord is your strength" (Nehemiah 8:10). "Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God" (Hebrews 12:2).
- Peace - "Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ" (Romans 5:1). "May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit" (Romans 15:13).
- Longsuffering (patience) -- We are "strengthened with all might, according to his glorious power, unto all patience and longsuffering with joyfulness" (Colossians 1:11). "With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love" (Ephesians 4:2).
- Gentleness (kindness) -- We should live "in purity, understanding, patience and kindness; in the Holy Spirit and in sincere love; in truthful speech and in the power of God; with weapons of righteousness in the right hand and in the left" (2 Corinthians 6:6-7).
- Goodness - "Wherefore also we pray always for you, that our God would count you worthy of this calling, and fulfill all the good pleasure of his goodness, and the work of faith with power" (2 Thessalonians 1:11). "For the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness and righteousness and truth" (Ephesians 5:9).
- Faith (faithfulness) - "O Lord, thou art my God; I will exalt thee, I will praise thy name; for thou hast done wonderful things; thy counsels of old are faithfulness and truth" (Isaiah 25:1). "I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith" (Ephesians 3:16-17).
- Meekness - "Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted" (Galatians 6:1). "With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love" (Ephesians 4:2).
- Temperance (self-control) - "But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love" (2 Peter 1:5-7).
As a side note, I am driving a Ford Edge that was loaned to me free of charge by Ford Motor Company in their Influencer program. They target bloggers of popular websites. Acts 29 is ranked as the 15th most popular Christian blog. This is a pretty nice ride, although I haven't driven it myself since Jeannie is enjoying it so much.