Monday, September 3, 2012

Growing in Grace

2Peter 3:18 “But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever. Amen.”

I would like to share something that I have been wondering about for a while.  Every time I read or say this verse to myself, I always wonder what is meant to grow in Grace? 
 Charis (khar'-ece) From G5463; graciousness (as gratifying), of manner or act (abstract or concrete; literal, figurative or spiritual; especially the divine influence upon the heart, and its reflection in the life; including gratitude): - acceptable, benefit, favour, gift, grace (-ious), joy liberality, pleasure, thank (-s, -worthy).

Most believers know the meaning of grace, but if you are reading this and do not know, the simplest way to put it, is that grace is a gift or favor, and in the Bible, grace is most often mentioned when talking about God’s grace towards us.  There are so many things that God has blessed us with, by his grace, and just to name a few:
·        God’s Love
·        The Privilege of Prayer             
·        The Privilege of Fellowship
·        Justification
·        Sanctification
·        God’s faithfulness
·        God’s forgiveness
·        Christ’s atonement
·        Countless others…
I would like to share with you what I have learned so far concerning these gracious blessings.  The first that is mentioned is God’s love, however, there are 3 different words for love that the Bible uses.
agapē  (ag-ah'-pay)  From G25; love, that is, affection or benevolence; specifically (plural) a love feast: - (feast of) charity ([-ably]), dear, love.
We can think of this as unconditional love.

phileō  (fil-eh'-o)  From G5384; to be a friend to (fond of [an individual or an object]), that is, have affection for (denoting personal attachment, as a matter of sentiment or feeling; while G25 is wider, embracing especially the judgment and the deliberate assent of the will as a matter of principle, duty and propriety: the two thus stand related very much as G2309 and G1014, or as G2372 and G3563 respectively; the former being chiefly of the heart and the latter of the head); specifically to kiss (as a mark of tenderness): - kiss, love.

            This is usually equated with Brotherly love

thelō  ethelō (thel'-o, eth-el'-o)  Either the first or the second form may be used. In certain tenses θελέω theleō  thel-eh'-o (sexual) (and ἐθέλέω  etheleō eth-el-eh'-o) are used, which are otherwise obsolete; apparently strengthened from the alternate form of G138; to determine (as an active voice option from subjective impulse; whereas G1014 properly denotes rather a passive voice acquiescence in objective considerations), that is, choose or prefer (literally or figuratively); by implication to wish, that is, be inclined to (sometimes adverbially gladly); impersonally for the future tense, to be about to; by Hebraism to delight in: - desire, be disposed (forward), intend, list, love, mean, please, have rather, (be) will (have, -ling, -ling [ly]).

            To desire or lust after

In this study, I have learned that to grow in grace can be equated to grow in OUR appreciation of the grace or favor that God shows us. The more that the Lord draws us closer to him in our relationship, the further our appreciation of God grows, or it should. The apostle Peter tells us to grow in grace or to grow in our appreciation of God’s grace, to grow in our appreciation of the love that God has so graciously given us.    To further illustrate this, let’s think of an infant that is loved by his/her parents.  That child already has the love of their parents and simply needs to GROW in their appreciation of that love.  As the child gets older, they start to understand that their parents do certain things because of the love they have for them.  In this same way, as we grow up in our relationship to God, we start to get an understanding that God loves us and brings us through different trials and learning curves to make us appreciate him that much more.  When we learn to appreciate God’s love, we shouldn’t be afraid of any trials or the different circumstances that we face.  God graciously loves us and will take care of everything that happens in our lives.  We might not see the answers or solutions, but because God loves us, we can know that he’ll take care of us.   There is a certain trial that I have been struggling and praying about for a very long time and it’s so easy to get caught up in our struggles that we forget that God loves us and has PROMISED to take care of us.
Romans 5:5 “And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.”
Romans 5:8 “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”
Romans 8:35 “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?”
These verses tell us that God’s love was given to us………freely.  There are trials that we go through that we, in our finite being, can’t see the Love of God through those circumstances, but these verses assure us that whatever the trial, God’s love has already been given to us and that NOTHING can separate us from that love.  The Word “love” in each of these verses is the word agape`.
The next 2 items that I mentioned are very similar, prayer and fellowship.  We don’t deserve to pray to God, there’s nothing we’ve done to deserve this blessing and yet God delights when we come to him.  To me, there is no other joy that compares with the joy of being in prayer. 
Hebrews 4:16 “Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.”

We sin everyday and yet, every time we confess our sins, we also enter into fellowship and at the same time we (I) seem to learn and appreciate a little more about God’s love and grace.  I think that these two items fit nice and snug together because in order to be in fellowship with Christ, we need to first pray and confess our sins before the Lord. 
Verses regarding prayer:
Luke 21:36 “Watch ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man.”

Luke 22:40 “And when he was at the place, he said unto them, Pray that ye enter not into temptation.”

1Thess. 5:17 “Pray without ceasing.”

Verses regarding fellowship:
1Corinthians 1:9 “God is faithful, by whom ye were called unto the fellowship of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord.”

In Corinthians, we’re told that we are CALLED into the fellowship of Christ.  I think that is a wonderful thing to be called to.  In 1 John 1:3, it says that when we have fellowship with other believer’s, we also are in fellowship with Christ.  I enjoy attending Bible studies and other various church functions, to be in fellowship with other believers, but even more so, to be in fellowship with Christ.

1John 1:3 “That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ.”

The more that we grow in our appreciation of God’s grace to us, the more that WE will want to express that same attitude towards other believers, and even unbelievers.
1Th 3:12 “And the Lord make you to increase and abound in love one toward another, and toward all men, even as we do toward you:”

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