Archive for April, 2013

Grace and Spiritual Growth

Great joy belongs to those children of God who recognize His grace in their growth. Rather than God being dependent on our best efforts to grow closer to Him, His grace empowers and sustains our spiritual growth.

Consider the following verses:

“Indeed, we have all received grace after grace from His fullness” (John 1:16).

“After the synagogue had been dismissed, many of the Jews and devout proselytes followed Paul and Barnabas, who were speaking with them and persuading them to continue in the grace of God” (Acts 13:43).

“From there they sailed back to Antioch where they had been entrusted to the grace of God for the work they had completed” (Acts 14:26).

“Also through Him, we have obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand” (Romans 5:2).

“But by God’s grace I am what I am, and His grace toward me was not ineffective. However, I worked more than any of them, yet not I, but God’s grace that was with me” (1 Corinthians 15:10).

“But He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness’” (2 Corinthians 12:9).

“Now grace was given to each one of us according to the measure of the Messiah’s gift” (Ephesians 4:7).

“May our Lord Jesus Christ Himself and God our Father, who has loved us and given us eternal encouragement and good hope by grace” (2 Thessalonians 2:16).

“You, therefore, my child, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus” (2 Timothy 2:1).

“Therefore let us approach the throne of grace with boldness, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us at the proper time” (Hebrews 4:16).

“Based on the gift they have received, everyone should use it to serve others, as good managers of the varied grace of God” (1 Peter 4:10).

Growth because of His grace

Why such an emphasis on grace? Perhaps because God knows we cannot grow spiritually on our own.

Spiritual growth begins with salvation given to us as a gift from God. The Old Testament prophet Isaiah recognized long ago, “Salvation is of the Lord.” It is God who saved us in the past (justified), God who continues to save us in the present (sanctifies) and God who will bring the ultimate state of our salvation in the future (glorification). All of this is through and because of His grace. Our daily spiritual growth is also utterly dependent on this grace of God. How should we respond to this?

Responding to growth through grace

First, we should recognize and admit this wonderful truth; that we are dependent daily on the grace of God. As long as we rely on our own striving to keep a positive mental attitude, work hard and do all we can do, we will miss the grace of God. This is not to say there is no effort on our part; there is. But the foundation of our effort is God’s grace and power. This is not something we work to receive on our own.

Second, receive God’s grace moment by moment. What does God require of us? Trust in His grace to be enough for every need. He promises “varied grace” for the varied problems of our lives.

Third, praise God that His grace is enough. Imagine if our spiritual growth depended on us. We wake in the morning in a bad mood, skip any time in the Word, get angry during our morning commute, mouth-off at co-workers, and ignore needs around us. How shall we overcome without God’s grace? We cannot. We can praise Him that His grace is enough!

I’m thankful God, in His grace, has given us His Son to save us, His Spirit to dwell within us, His Word to instruct us, and His people to encourage us. Praise God for His grace from beginning to end.

Yours for the Great Commission,

Ronnie W. Floyd

Senior Pastor, Cross Church Northwest Arkansas
General Editor, Bible Studies for Life

The Church And The NFL Draft

94606-650-366This past weekend, the 32 teams that comprise the National Football League (NFL) conducted their annual draft of college players. Even though our house was filled by two of our grandchildren, I tried to watch the draft throughout the weekend. I love the game of football and always wanted to be a football coach until the Lord called me into ministry.

NFL teams determine the players they desire to draft on the basis of the team’s needs, the value of each player by position, the personal interview held with each player, and the personal life of each player off of the field. While considering all of these things, it is the player’s availability and value that usually moves each team to determine which men they are going to draft onto their team.

NFL teams spend millions of dollars on reviewing and investigating every player they have on their board of consideration. To them, it is not just about winning games — even though that is dominant — but also their multi-million dollar investment in each player which makes the draft somewhat of a risky business. Each team must to do all they can to know as much as possible about each player in order to lower the margin of error of drafting players on to their team.

Lessons the church can learn from the NFL draft

Lesson #1: Understand that everyone in the church is drafted by grace into God’s family. Unlike NFL teams that choose who fits into their system and on their team, the Lord and His church extends grace to each person. As each person responds to the grace of God, discovered only in repentance from sin and faith in Jesus Christ and Him alone for salvation, they are drafted by the Holy Spirit into the family of God. Therefore, at salvation, each person is endowed with spiritual gifts that God has given to him or her through His Sovereign will.

Lesson #2: Everyone in the church has value. We must recognize that every person has value and it is up to Pastors and church leaders to see their value, develop it, and deploy it into action. NFL teams believe that every player on their roster has value and it is up to them to develop their talent and get it on the field as soon as possible. The church must be about developing people and their spiritual gifts in order to deploy them into Kingdom action as soon as possible.

Lesson #3: The church has many needs. The church that believes they have no need for leaders or more leaders in different places, usually will end up with few to no leaders at all! When God brings people into the church, it is our responsibility to place them into the right ministry area to meet the needs of the church. NFL teams do not place big, oversized men who should play tackle in the position of quarterback. At times, the church places the wrong people in the wrong places of ministry. This never ends well.

Lesson #4: The church must evaluate people. We need to seriously learn the value of Biblically evaluating our people. We have to know what each person brings to the table of ministry in the church. NFL teams know how fast their players are, their agility, their strengths, their weaknesses, and what they are best at. Most churches know very little about their people. This is just flat-out wrong. NFL teams do personal interviews, check out players’ lives outside of the game of football, evaluate attitudes, as well as the tangibles that are all very important. All of us in the church need to embrace this principle of evaluation. We should be doing personal interviews with our people, checking their outside testimony, looking at their attitude, as well as the tangibles that are so very important — like their gifts and passions. If our churches were as deliberate as NFL teams in evaluating our people, we would stop placing our “spiritual tackles” in the role of “spiritual quarterback.” Do not under-estimate the value of evaluating people for the purpose of placing them at the right ministry place in God’s time in His church.

Lesson #5: The church is here to win. The teams of the NFL are very committed to winning. What about the church? Are we committed to winning? Winning others? Winning in the community? Winning our nation? Winning the world? Every NFL team is committed to doing whatever it takes to win. The church must be even more intentional in winning. A winning atmosphere is critical in the church. Church, in Jesus we win. Because of Jesus, we win.

Yours For The Great Commission,

Ronnie W. Floyd