Growing in Grace

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For me, summer is all about relaxation, playing catch up, and filling my days with all of the things I haven’t been able to do in what seems like forever. For you, your job may not pause for a summer break, but you can still attest to the fact that summer is a time to unwind and enjoy the sunshine. But this summer, we aren’t taking any breaks. We’re going to use this season to grow in the light of His grace using 2 Peter 1:1-11. Read it below.

I, Simon Peter, am a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ. I write this to you whose experience with God is as life-changing as ours, all due to our God’s straight dealing and the intervention of our God and Savior, Jesus Christ. Grace and peace to you many times over as you deepen in your experience with God and Jesus, our Master. Everything that goes into a life of pleasing God has been miraculously given to us by getting to know, personally and intimately, the One who invited us to God. The best invitation we ever received! We were also given absolutely terrific promises to pass on to you—your tickets to participation in the life of God after you turned your back on a world corrupted by lust. So don’t lose a minute in building on what you’ve been given, complementing your basic faith with good character, spiritual understanding, alert discipline, passionate patience, reverent wonder, warm friendliness, and generous love, each dimension fitting into and developing the others. With these qualities active and growing in your lives, no grass will grow under your feet, no day will pass without its reward as you mature in your experience of our Master Jesus. Without these qualities you can’t see what’s right before you, oblivious that your old sinful life has been wiped off the books. So, friends, confirm God’s invitation to you, his choice of you. Don’t put it off; do it now. Do this, and you’ll have your life on a firm footing, the streets paved and the way wide open into the eternal kingdom of our Master and Savior, Jesus Christ.  (The Message Translation)

I’m very much of a planner. I can’t even sleep at night unless I look over my planner to ensure that I know exactly what I have to do the next day. During my busier weeks, I schedule out every hour of every day just to confirm that I haven’t missed something. I make my “to-do” lists based on most important to least important, so I finish the more pressing issues and significant jobs first. Therefore, several years ago when I came across 2 Peter 1, I was ecstatic and felt as if God had directly written this passage for the minds that work like mine – you know, the ones that don’t function without a checklist. God gave Peter an outline – a step by step process on how to effectively live life.

Peter begins by explaining that his reason for writing is to emphasize the “life-changing” experiences that he had seen God do in the lives of those around him. He proceeds to explain the importance of having a personal and intimate relationship with God, and raves about God’s faithfulness to His promises. And, what happens next, makes my heart sing. He says, “So don’t lose a minute in building on what you’ve been given, complementing your basic faith with good character, spiritual understanding, alert discipline, passionate patience, reverent wonder, warm friendliness, and generous love, each dimension fitting into and developing the others.” (The Message Translation)

In my mind, I see a To-Do List:

☐Good Character

☐Spiritual Understanding

☐Alert Discipline

☐Passionate Patience

☐Reverent Wonder

☐Warm Friendliness

☐Generous Love

And each item on the to-do is just waiting to be checked off.

Peter then goes on to encourage, “With these qualities active and growing in your lives, no grass will grow under your feet, no day will pass without its reward as you mature in your experience of our Master Jesus.”

And now I’m thinking that I’ve hit the jackpot. I’ve finally found the answer – the plan.

But, I was stopped short at even the first one of these steps.

  • Good Character. Love your neighbor as yourself? Do to others as you would have them do to you? I’ve heard this all my life, yet do I still remain in good character all the time?
  • Spiritual Understanding. Sometimes I like to think I know all the answers, but don’t we all?
  • Alert Discipline. I lose count trying to think of all the times that I let my tongue get ahead of my thoughts, and tried to stuff the words back in my mouth as I watched them slipped away.
  • Passionate Patience. I prayed for patience a few years ago, but unfortunately, patience is something you can’t learn unless you have something to wait patiently for. And, waiting is my least favorite thing to do.
  • Reverent Wonder. This is equivalent to godliness. The only thing I find myself wondering about is if any human is even capable of maintaining true godliness for all of their days.

It was around this time that fear began to set in. My checklist came crumbling down as I realized the answers might be there, but they are utterly impossible to accomplish without fully handing over the entirety of my being to the only One who has the power to check them off.

Because of the fear that undoubtedly creeps in from time to time, I’ve started to challenge myself through prayer. I’ve been praying for the courage to let go of the reins I have pulled so tightly on my life and let God make the plans. What would happen then if I handed over my planner, my calendar, my lists, and my charts and graphs and truly allowed him to fill in the spaces and teach me on His own time?

I found this concept just as unsettling until God showed me Proverbs 16:3 that says, “Commit your work to the Lord, and your plans will be established.” This quite literally means that if you wholeheartedly commit your life to Him, your plans will succeed. But, part of committing your plans to Him is seeking His plans for you.

Nonetheless, we can live without fear of the future. We can live without feeling forced to make all kinds of hectic plans. We can face tomorrow because God already knows what our future holds. When planning out your summer, ask God where He wants you to go. Because maybe it’s nowhere except in prayer with Him so that He can continue revealing His plans for your life.

During the summer season, we will walk through 2 Peter 1 and consider this a time of “growing in His grace,” together. Each Monday we will meet right back here and for the next 12 weeks break down each of these “to-dos.” We will hear some wonderful testimonies from godly women who have learned these lessons through experience. And we will begin to build a checklist of our own as God sows seeds of His goodness and grace in our lives.

Please join us next week as we continue Growing in His Grace by focusing on the process of developing a deeper relationship with Christ Jesus.

Until then, daily read our focal passage and ask God to begin speaking to you from His Word about the growth He desires for you.

maggie