by Rhea Beaudry, Guest Blogger
The lights dimmed and a young man came to the microphone to give a motivational talk to a group of prayer breakfast attendees. Behind him, stretched on an oversize easel, was a black Martha Stewart bedsheet. He began with this scripture:
“For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.” Eph 2:10
The focus was upon business leaders. He encouraged the group to take confidence in the fact that God has planned and laid out in advance the good things He wants to do through each one. When we truly have God as our leader, we can be led to get hold of all possible resources to lead others to Him. God’s plan is a masterpiece. If we follow His leading, our own leadership will always be “good enough”. It will accomplish that for which we are called. Our ministry will be compelled by love—God’s own divine love, which is what makes His plan in each of us A MASTERPIECE.
Bob Upgren, Cross Training Inc.
The artist finished speaking, and began to place a few seemingly random strokes of chalk on the black “canvas” behind him. Quickly and skillfully he created a masterpiece in chalk, while the music played.
http://www.wordpress.com/post/27841025/new “I Want to Live Like That” by Sidewalk Prophets
As a masterful chalk drawing took form and grew before our eyes, we were inspired to “give it all we’ve got”. If we are identified before the world as people of God’s Love, then we will joyfully take our stand and lead in a way that is “recklessly abandoned” to God, no holds barred. Life is so much more that what our eyes are seeing. Every stroke of the master artist is part of the whole composition. Our seemingly small part in the grand scheme of things is a vital part of the whole work of God on the earth. Each person is created uniquely; and each one is beloved by God and infinitely important in His Plan. No one else can do what YOU are called to do!
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ur6Zznc407U “What Faith Can Do” by Kutless
“If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.” Galatians 5:25
Christianity is not a group of followers keeping a long list of laws, but it is Jesus Christ keeping US! We come to the end of self. We go out from the limitations of our own boundaries, and into the limitless realm of life in God.
When we surrender to Him we break through our self-protecting enclosure and discover the end of self and the beginning of God. In the realm of the Spirit of God, we have a major paradigm shift. We are no longer mere human “doings” but we discover the limitless capacity of becoming true human “beings”. We reach the end of performing ACTS, and venture forth into the beginning of walking in WAYS.
There is a fine line between walking in the Spirit and walking in performance-oriented works. In my life, it took a long process of having all of my “works” stripped away from me (painfully) and learning to hear the inner voice of the Lord directing me in the “works” HE wanted me to be doing, which were no longer my works but now they were His works. No longer self-focused as a people merely GOING TO heaven and trying to walk a straight path to get there, we become God-focused and begin to act like people COMING FROM heaven, bringing His Kingdom to earth in our surroundings, as it is in heaven. “He must increase, but I must decrease.” John 3:30
This new paradigm does not consist of our efforts at being “real” (the best of my “real” self falls far short of the glory of God), but being Christlike—living from His heart, not my own. This is only possible when we surrender moment by moment to the fullness of the indwelling Christ; and is attained over a lifetime of walking with Him daily. Gradually we begin to love the things Jesus loves and to share in His longing for “all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.” I Timothy 2:4
As we begin to step outside of our own limits and walls, we begin to notice the needs of others, and opportunities to bring the Love and Life of God into their lives. As we reach out to them, we are overwhelmingly downloaded with a flood of divine love for the individuals He sets in our path for us to minister to. The more of our inner space we empty of self, the more space we will open up to the infilling of the Holy Spirit. With that love comes His grace to walk in experiential obedience and divine love. After the Lord stripped away all of my “doing” so that I could begin “being” I was given a precious ministry of mentoring and intercession for my grandchildren. Previously the thought of ministering to teens would have intimidated me, but I found myself so overflowing with love and joy that I was drawn effortlessly into their world and given astounding amounts of love and discernment which was needed to be effective in their lives. The main assignment was just to let God’s love overflow and get all over them! When at times there are difficulties, there is always the GRACE to get through them.
What is grace? Grace is often defined as the unmerited favor of God. In the context of the line of thought we are pursuing, grace is the divine influence upon the heart and life of man.
Grace (unmerited favor of God) with an emphasis on the past equals salvation.
Grace (the divine influence upon the heart and life of man) with an emphasis on the present equals power over sin.
Grace with an emphasis on the future equals hope.
“For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soldierly, righteously and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ.” Titus2:11-12
Our response to God’s grace is to walk worthy of God’s call. This includes living out God’s goodness in the world around us. Lives that display God’s grace, gratitude and glory are worthy of the calling. Our lives are an open book, the only gospel some people will ever read. The reflection of His goodness (His glory) on our faces will be the very thing that draws them to Him. “It is His goodness that leads to repentance.” (Romans 2:4 KJV)
“Those who have believed in God should be careful to maintain good works. These things are good and profitable.” Titus 3:8.
But these good works are not FOR salvation, they are AS A RESULT OF salvation. We are God’s ambassadors. We live equipped FROM heaven, not merely FOR heaven.
“Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. For if anyone thinks himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself. But let each one examine is own work, and then he will have rejoicing in himself alone and not in another. For each one shall bear his own load.” Galatians 6:2-5.
At first glance this appears to be a contradiction in terms. However, a closer study reveals that it is not. The original word for burdens in verse 2 (above) means “crisis; unbearable load”. The original word for load in verse 5 “knapsack”. As we help another person shoulder the unbearable load they are struggling with, we are walking in the Spirit of God. We are carrying our “knapsack” of divine love from which we minister to others.
In looking at the call to “walk in the Spirit” we have looked at one aspect of healthy boundaries—that of extending ourselves beyond our own walls and gates to be set free in the limitless scope of the Kingdom of God. There is another aspect of healthy boundaries. Even while we are walking with others and ministering in the strength of God’s divine love from our “knapsack” filled with divine love, we must be careful to respect the other’s human dignity, freedom of choice, and personal free will. These are protective boundaries around each person, which make us different from the animal kingdom which operates by instinct and pre-programmed behaviors. The way we conduct ourselves while sharing the love of God must not violate others’ personal boundaries, nor should we allow our own personal boundaries to be violated by them. It will require divine discernment to do this right!
I like to think of boundaries as being the point where one person stops and another person starts. Have you ever loved someone so much that you wish you could just get inside them and BE them long enough to get them to understand the concept you are trying to share with them? For example, my grandson had begun to make some of the same poor choices that I had made at his age. I had to go through a long process to be delivered and set free from chains of bondage brought about by my choices. I so badly wished that I could get inside his head and save him the trouble of going through all of that! But as his mentor and grandmother who loves him, I can only influence him and pray for him. I cannot make his choices for him. I cannot live his life for him.
God also desired intensely to communicate directly with us in that way. That is what Jesus did when He became a man so that He could show us the way of salvation! Have you heard the story about the man who observed a flock of birds being battered by an extreme blizzard? He knew those birds would die if he didn’t do something to save them. So he went out and tried to shoo them into the open door of his barn, but this only scared them away further into the storm. The man became frantic, turning on all the lights, opening all the doors and windows, hoping the birds would be drawn inside to the warmth and safety of the shelter—but to no avail. They scattered and fled from every action he tried to use to encourage them, to the fate of the storm. He thought to himself, “If only i could become a bird like them—just long enough to explain what is available for them!” What an illustration of what Christ did, exiting from His boundaries and crossing into ours! But even Christ will not violate our boundaries of free will and choice. He will make His salvation available, but He will not force it upon us. These are the boundaries we must observe with others as well when we are sharing the love of the Lord with them. We are called to accept the imperfections life casts upon us and look to Him for strength and wisdom. We must accept that we cannot arrange the world as we would like, and that at times human logic will not supply the proper course, nor will our deepest desires be entirely met. This is life in a fallen world, where wars come and go, where nations rage and people cry in torment. We must be strong, not in ourselves, but in Him. And trust that His love and His wisdom and His light will see us through. Even the things around us that seem so destructive and evil will “work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.” Romans 8:28
Let’s pray together:
Dear Lord, we come to You as Your children. We are each an individual stroke of the chalk in your grand Masterpiece. Sometimes we don’t quite see how our part can possibly fit in with the whole. As we step out of our own parameters we ask You to catch us up and bring us securely into Your presence and Your heart of Love. Help us to walk in total trust that what You have planned to accomplish through each one of us is “good enough” and that we don’t have to strive for anything on our own. We just have to follow You. We ask You to download us with Your goodness and love that we may bring Your kingdom, Your will, to earth (each of us in our own sphere of influence) as it is in Heaven—for this is why You created us—to know and love and serve You in this world. Let Your love and Your goodness pour out through us Lord, we ask in Jesus’ name. Amen.