Turn the spigot on!
This past weekend I was privileged to attend another round of training for Biblical Counseling. As usual in these training times, I was counseled more than I learned how to counsel others. I thought I would share some of what one of our speakers, Brad Bigney, the Pastor of Grace Fellowship Church in Florence, the site of our training, brought out in his talks.
Brad's talks were about God's grace, that vital force in our salvation and life as Christians. He gave us a great way to think about grace and how it flows in our lives. God will pour out His grace continually to us, but we can put up 'grace blockers' - those things that prevent God's grace from flowing to and through us. But there are things that open the grace spigot - things that allow and encourage God's grace to flow abundantly to and through us.
Turning on the grace spigot is just another way of saying that we are becoming or making a disciple. So what are the things that turn on the grace spigot? They are those things that make a disciple - prayer, Bible reading, Scripture memory, Worship and small group attendance, reading and listening to good teaching, and practical works. Nothing new here, right? You may be disappointed at this, perhaps wishing it was something more dramatic or new or exciting. Sorry. It's the same old thing we have all known since we became Christians. These spiritual disciplines, as they are sometimes called, provide the best means of tapping into God's grace. They are not dependent on our circumstances, though when things do get tough in our lives, we might tend to neglect them.
But here's the thing, and this is where I was challenged. We can't just run hot and cold (to continue the spigot analogy) on these disciplines, only pursuing them when we feel like it, as I have done throughout my Christian life. Sure, those times when I have been diligent to pursue time with the Lord, Bible study, Scripture memory, etc., have been really fruitful times in my life as His grace flows freely from the spigot. But my energy and enthusiasm for them fade, not because God stops pouring out grace, but because I am weak or my circumstances are discouraging so I turn my back on my personal devotions and only go through the motions of other disciplines. I block the grace spigot by neglecting these disciplines. The very thing I need most - God's grace - is the thing that I am blocking. Those are the dry times, when I can't figure out why I am not growing, or when I find myself growing discouraged, or bitter, or discontent.
To keep the grace spigot flowing, I need God's help. He works in me to will and to work for His good pleasure (Philippians 2:13) so my first step must be to pray like crazy that He will not just help me work to be consistent in these disciplines so that the grace spigot stays in the ON position, but to want to be consistent. Without His help, I'm lost.
Rich encouraged us yesterday to always be ready, watching out for the Master and staying awake, as Jesus commanded His disciples. He encouraged us to do so by Loving God, Loving one another and Serving the World. That really just sums up those disciplines I listed above. I have examples of faithful believers all around me here at ECC. You challenge me to pray, to read Scripture, to serve - and to do all of the other things I listed above. I am not lacking in examples of faithfulness. I am lacking the will to persevere. I need God's help to persevere, but I also need all of you! So pray for me, and pray for one another that we would stay awake, and be on guard, filled with God's grace that is pouring out on us because the grace spigot is turned on in our lives. I have a responsibility to you all to persevere in faith as part of this particular Body of Christ and so I am praying that God will help me to will and to work to keep the grace spigot open. I pray the same for all of you, and I hope you will join me in praying this for one another.