WHAT IS ‘GRACEFULLY’ REALLY
As I was praying about what the Lord wanted the next teaching to be about, He spoke to my heart and told me essentially this - “You can’t grow older gracefully, if you don’t know what it really means, and, therefore, you’re not living that way in your ‘today’ life!”
So, we’re going to begin to tackle what LIVING GRACEFULLY really is! Now, most people use the word, “gracefully,” when referring to something like a little girl who is ballet dancing - dancing around on her toes, in a beautiful little outfit. They say, “Oh she dances so gracefully.” Now there’s nothing wrong with that. BUT - there’s another kind of ‘gracefully’ - and that’s what we’re going to talk about.
When the Bible talks about grace, it is talking about, “undeserved favor.” Now we can’t understand about it working in our lives on a day-to-day basis until we understand how it works in GOD TOWARD US.
So - here we all were, human beings with a sin nature, because of Adam and Eve’s sin. Our spirits were dead - and there was nothing we could do to make ourselves good, clean, holy, and in fellowship with God. Now - let me make something more clear to understand concerning the Old Testament believers. There were people, who, even though their spirits were dead, they believed in God, and talked to Him and gave themselves to Him, as much as possible, and God used them to help others know about Him. They still were not born again - but they did the best they could to understand God and He helped them. He also used them to talk about the coming Messiah. However, they still were not born again and there are many, many instances of Old Testament believers who kept messing things up - BECAUSE THEY WERE NOT BORN AGAIN.
However, when the Messiah, Jesus Christ, came into this world - ALL GOD AND ALL MAN - everything changed. Only a human being, WITH NO SIN NATURE, could take on the sin of the human race. He took it all into His being. THE SINLESS ONE TOOK ALL THE SIN FOR ALL OF US - HE PAID A PRICE WE COULDN’T PAY - AND THEREFORE, WHEN WE ACCEPTED WHAT HE DID FOR US PERSONALLY, WE GOT A BRAND NEW SPIRIT - THUS WE WERE BORN AGAIN!
Now - here’s the point I’m getting to - GOD HIMSELF - GOD IN THREE PERSONS, FATHER, SON, AND HOLY SPIRIT - GAVE US “UNDESERVED FAVOR.” We didn’t deserve it! He loved the human beings so much that He put all our sin on the second part of Himself, THE SON, so we could be sinless and have a new spirit. That way, we could be in communication with Him and then be with Him forever! THAT’S GRACE! Therefore, through God’s UNDESERVED FAVOR (GRACE) TO US, WE ARE TO LIVE LIKE HIM.
Now the reason I’m sharing that is because He wants us to live our lives here on this earth GRACEFULLY - just like He did for us! God loves to use the Older Christians on this earth to show all the others - all other ages - what God is really like!
Now, I’m going to use several verses from the book of James. I have gotten to see it as, ‘the book that, verse by verse, shows us how to live gracefully in this world’. He talks about several different things we all encounter and encourages us to believe and react by grace through faith. When I read the book of James, I feel like I am being encouraged to live like Jesus lived on this earth.
James 1:2-3 say this, “My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience.” We talked about trials last week so I’m not going to delve into that again - but I do want to say this - God does not bring trials and temptations into our lives - the enemy does! BUT - when we (as the Scripture said) FALL INTO VARIOUS TRIALS, there is a way to walk through them, with the power from our NEW BORN AGAIN SPIRIT, AND COUNT IT ALL JOY AND DEVELOP PATIENCE!
Listen to James 1:4 - “But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.” Wow - what a beautiful encouragement from the Lord! When you’re going through something, you need to read that verse a lot! And, let it get you excited and build up your faith. THAT’S GOD’S WORD - WHICH IS CALLED ‘THE TRUTH’! I like to say verses like that outloud to myself. That way, your ears can hear your own voice quoting the TRUTH OF THE WORD OF GOD.
Now - I know to some that might sound impossible - but it’s not! We can have an attitude in us that says, “Wow, Jesus, this is another opportunity for You to work all this out - so I am going to rejoice in You and Your power and wisdom and ability. I’m not going to worry, or get frustrated - I’m just going to peacefully and patiently TRUST YOU COMPLETELY!!!!!!!”
Now, when this becomes a way of life for you, it is observed by others - because you are GRACEFULLY LIVING IT OUT BEFORE THEM. And you know what that does? Your life matches up with Jesus, and they learn from watching you live it.
Patience is really hard for many people because they’re trying to develop it from their own human ability rather than from the power that is in our new spirits. Also, it’s hard for some because we live in a, “I want it right now world!”
I just want to throw this in right here. It is pretty common for older people to be grumpy, whiny, with a ‘what about me, what about me’ attitude. When the world sees an older Christian living a JOYOUS life in the middle of a trial or temptation, and being patient and kind, the world says, “HOW CAN THIS BE? OH - THAT’S RIGHT - THEY’RE JESUS FOLLOWERS!”
Now this verse - James 1:5 - “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him.” Now does that sound like a promise? Of course it is!!! Now we’re talking about, ‘What Living Gracefully’, looks like. We all need God’s wisdom in our daily lives. For me, it has just become normal for me to talk to the Lord about everything. That does not mean that I am complaining or griping about stuff. It means that, whatever comes up daily in my life, I want to handle it God’s way. Things come up constantly for all of us, and God has the wisdom we need to handle every unique situation. There are often very private and personal things that we need His wisdom about. HE UNDERSTANDS COMPLETELY.
I’ve discovered, since bringing things to Him that I need wisdom about, it has become so common for me, that, once I do that, I just don’t let them stay in my thinking (which is worry). I have found - it may be 15 minutes later, or it may be the next day - but, always, the wisdom that I asked for will come up in me. He always keeps His Word. You know what that produces in you? It produces a peace - no matter what - in your life which has an effect on lots of other things, and situations, and people, and on and on. IT’S LIVING GRACEFULLY!
Now the verses which follow are James 1: 6 - 8 and are referring to the person who prays for wisdom - “But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.”
This is SO VERY IMPORTANT - AND IT’S NOT REFERRING TO JUST PRAYING FOR WISDOM - IT’S FOR ALL KINDS OF PRAYER. We have to believe that we receive when we pray. In my life, I have learned that the more I read the Word - and there are promises all through it - the more I believe.
Praying cannot be just a couple of minutes where you try to say the right thing - I have learned that, when I am talking to my BEST FRIEND, THE ONE WHO TOOK ALL MY BAD AND GAVE ME ALL HIS GOOD, AND ASKING HIM FOR ANYTHING, I HAVE TO TRULY BELIEVE THAT HE IS SAYING, “YES - AND - AMEN” - I HAVE TO SEE IT AS ALREADY DONE IN THE SPIRITUAL WORLD. I HAVE TO CONSIDER IT A DONE DEAL.
If I’m having a hard time with that, then I have to spend some quality time with Him. Doubt will not produce answers to prayers! What it really comes down to is a FAITH PROBLEM. For me, that means that the things of this world have had an effect on me and I need to set aside some time and look up all those promises in the Word.
If you don’t really believe it (which is producing that doubt in you), you will not see the answers you are wanting.
Now - getting ahold of this truth and walking in it - or living your day to day life in it - will produce a GRACEFUL ATTITUDE IN YOU WHICH WILL BE OBVIOUS TO THOSE AROUND YOU, BOTH FAMILY AND FRIENDS. YOU DO NOT HAVE TO TRY TO BE GRACEFUL - IT WILL JUST BE YOUR NORMAL.
Now, I have to tell you, that, as we get older, it is really helpful to our close loved ones for them to see and hear us living our lives, with a lot of fear and anxiety gone, with a peace and joy that is not explainable. It’s called ‘growing older gracefully’! I’ve seen older people living that way and their families are just amazed. But, I have to say, YOU CAN’T WAIT UNTIL YOU’RE IN YOUR 90’S TO TRY TO GET AHOLD OF ALL OF THIS. YOU HAVE TO MAKE IT YOUR WAY OF LIFE AHEAD OF TIME FOR IT TO BENEFIT YOU GREATLY.
Now - James 1:9 - 11 - “Let the lowly brother glory in his exaltation, but the rich in his humiliation, because as a flower of the field he will pass away. For no sooner has the sun risen with a burning heat than it withers the grass; its flower fails, and its beautiful appearance perishes. So the rich man also will fade away in his pursuits.”
Now - let’s look at these verses this way. A beautiful flower, after awhile, withers away. There is no stopping it. If you cut it off and put it in a vase of water, it will still eventually wither away. In the same way, no matter how rich a person is here on this earth, he is going to die, and he will not take his riches to eternity, no matter whether it’s heaven or hell. If it’s hell, he will suffer just like all the rest. If it’s heaven, he won’t have more than all the others - for eternity he’ll be just like all the others. In the same way, a poor man (or lowly brother) who has nothing is also going to die - if he goes to heaven, he will be exalted in glory. If he goes to hell, he’ll suffer for eternity, just like all the others.
This is saying that whether we have a LOT while we’re here on this earth, or whether we have not so much, we are to GLORY IN THE FACT THAT WE ARE CHILDREN OF THE MOST HIGH GOD. What we have in money, in fancy houses, clothes, ability to go anywhere and do anything, and on and on cannot even be compared to the GLORY OF HEAVEN. In the same way, if we’ve had struggles financially in our lives, it’s only for a little while - then we’ll live in eternity WITH THE KING OF THE UNIVERSE.
Now, I, myself, have experienced being in desperate situations regarding finances. I’ve told you my stories but I’m going to remind you of one of them. It really is a picture of how God will meet our needs. If we’re in need, He doesn’t make us rich miraculously - but He supplies.
My husband and I and our kids, ages 6 and 5, were in Three Hills, Alberta, Canada and my husband was in Bible School at Prairie Bible Institute. We were out of food and money. We didn’t know what to do - but pray! All we had left was a huge, huge bag of potatoes. We were out of even spices, oils - so I mean we were out of EVERYTHING ELSE, BUT WATER. We were praying and praying. I was boiling potatoes for breakfast, lunch and dinner. WE WERE DESPERATE AND DIDN’T KNOW WHAT TO DO.
One morning, my husband had gone to class, both children were in school, and I was laying on my bed, praying and asking God for wisdom and what to do. I was trusting HIM as best as I knew how. I flipped open my Bible and saw this verse, Psalm 37:25 - “I have been young, and now am old; Yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread.” I knew that I knew that I knew that God was speaking to me through that verse. I thanked the Lord for hearing me and ANSWERING MY PRAYER. I BEGAN TO THANK HIM FOR THE PROVISION, BEFORE ANYTHING HAD CHANGED IN THE PHYSICAL SITUATION.
We had potatoes for lunch - then we had potatoes again for dinner. It was time for the kids to go to bed so we did our nightly routine with them.
About 30 minutes later, there was a knocking on our door. We went to the door together, and there were a bunch of men (whom we did not know and had never seen before) standing there with their arms loaded with boxes and boxes of food. My husband and I were both in awe and the men started coming in and putting all this food all over the dining area. There was absolutely every kind of food as they just covered the area with it. AND, AS SOON AS THEY SET IT DOWN, WITHOUT SAYING A WORD, THEY LEFT. WE JUST STOOD THERE LOOKING AT ONE ANOTHER IN SUCH AMAZEMENT……..
There was everything - and we saw milk, and we saw cookies. We immediately went to our children and got them up and their daddy said, “You gotta’ get up - God just sent people here who brought us food - we’re gonnna’ have a party with milk and cookies!” They jumped up and, as we brought them into that room. I’ll never forget the looks on their faces! MAN DID WE EVER HAVE A PARTY - AND THANKING THE LORD FOR THIS TREMENDOUS MIRACLE.
Now, in the beginning of this teaching, we talked about being in JOY, when you’re in various trials, about it producing patience in you, about it making you complete and lacking nothing, about wisdom in handling everything, walking in faith with no doubt, and about both riches and poverty. Well, we didn’t do it all perfectly - we were a young married couple with kids, going to Bible School - but, I do honestly have to say that that situation that we went through changed our lives - for the GOOD. We had not told ANYONE about our problem. We had thought about calling my parents and his parents and asking if they could possibly send us some money - but we hadn’t done it. We hadn’t shared it with anybody but God - AND LOOK WHAT GOD DID!
I have to say that, at that point in my life, as I look back upon it, that is when I began to really ponder on, and get ahold of, what walking with the Lord through your life really is all about. I learned from that trial that God would NEVER, NEVER, NEVER let me down - but there were several attitudes of the heart that I had to exhibit in my life. I didn’t understood it all then - but I began to see things from His perspective, rather than from the flesh.
God wants all His children to live GRACEFULLY and I have personally learned that, if we’ll just get serious about obeying the WORD OF GOD and its TRUTH, while we’re in our younger years, when we get older, the Lord can use us in ways that we never imagined. The Lord has also shown me that you can’t wait until you’re REALLY OLD and then try to learn how to live gracefully.
LIVING GRACEFLLY, IN A NUTSHELL, IS LEARNING FROM THE WORD OF GOD HOW HE WANTS YOU TO LIVE - AND SPENDING TIME WITH HIM PERSONALLY - THUS - LIVING LIKE HE LIVES. I can just hear some thinking, “We can’t be like God!!!!” Well, none of us do it perfectly, but it’s all through the Word that we are to love like God loves, forgive like God forgives, help like God helps, have compassion like God has compassion - and on and on and on. When we, as His children, take His Word as His WILL AND HIS LEGACY FOR US, instead of just the book that the church people are supposed to read, we will begin to get ahold of how God thinks, how He works, how He loves, how He answers prayers, how He is trustworthy, and on and on.
So - as we get older, we, of all the people on the planet, have more time than any others to SOAK IN TIME WITH HIM AND HIS WORD. As, we do, we become more GRACEFUL IN OUR DAY-TO-DAY LIVING, AND WE DON’T EVEN KNOW IT. PEOPLE ARE TOUCHED BY US AND A LOT OF THE TIME, WE’RE NOT EVEN AWARE OF IT.
Now - think for a moment - remember that the definition of ‘grace’ is ‘undeserved favor’. That’s what God has shown every single one of us. We didn’t deserve for His ‘FAVOR’ to be given to us. But - we’ve accepted it and have, therefore , become members of the FAMILY OF GOD, forgiven of all our sins, given a new spirit, replacing the dead one. My oh my, how can we not GRACEFULLY show the same ‘undeserved favor’ to those who have hurt us, damaged us, taught us wrong, and all the other things. Brothers and sisters - that’s living GRACEFULLY.
GOD wants all of us, who don’t go to a daily job anymore, who are not raising children, to take advantage of some of the time we have to really get a handle on that - SO THAT WE CAN GROW OLD GRACEFULLY AND HELP OTHERS SEE IT ALSO.
God has given us, in His Word, everything we need to understand how all this flows together in our lives. There is an OLD TESTAMENT and a NEW TESTAMENT. There is wonderful truth in the Old Testament and wonderful stories of how God used people to get His message out to the world, all kinds of miracles, and lots and lots of things which are helpful to us. But people were not born again until Jesus died on the cross and was resurrected. We, of all the people who have ever lived on the earth, should be so grateful to be able to accept what He did and be BORN AGAIN! We have a new nature, and we have His Word, the Bible, and, therefore, we have the ability to reach by faith into our new spirit and live our lives like Jesus wants us to. WE CAN LIVE GRACEFULLY and we can have an effect on the lives of others.
I want to read this verse and I’d sure like you to ponder on it this week (of course, along with the others) - Hebrews 4:16 - “Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” Now, let me explain the difference between mercy and grace - just so there’ll be no confusion. MERCY IS NOT GETTING THE BAD THAT YOU DESESRVE - AND GRACE IS GETTING THE GOOD THAT YOU DON’T DESERVE.
Now - I suggest that you just sit quietly before the Lord and really think about the fact that that’s what our precious Lord has done for us - and that’s the way He wants us to follow in His footsteps and live our lives like He does. That’s living GRACEFULLY.
Scripture for this lesson