Stop Trying, Start Training!
By Minister David Adabale
New Wine Church, London
Foundation Scripture: 2 Peter 3:17 - 18
Sunday 7th September 2014
Over the past couple of weeks, we have been introduced and exposed to the Power and the benefits of the grace of God, with the message series on Grace by Dr Creflo Dollar during the Maximise Life 2014 Convention, and the just concluded ‘His Grace Is Sufficient’ series by Pastor Michael. The focus of this message is to encourage you to continue to grow further in this grace which God has already made available to us.
Let me start by reminding you that revelation is progressive. So in essence, what would happen in about 10 or 20 years’ time has already been established and concluded in God, but He is waiting for that time and the person or group of people who will catch that revelation and have the required faith to bring to fruition what He has concluded in the realm of the Spirit. Conversely, the life we are living today could not have been known to us or pictured in our mind expressly 15 or 20 years ago. The same is also true concerning God’s grace – It has always been available. However, since God has something in mind He wants to do and He is about to open a new vista to us, these words on grace is being resounded in our ears over and over again.
In Ephesians 1:3-14, Apostle Paul highlights some of the benefits of grace for us: ‘Just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He made us accepted in the Beloved. In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace which He made to abound toward us in all wisdom and prudence, having made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His good pleasure which He purposed in Himself’ (Ephesians 1:4-9). This same notion is also conveyed in 2 Peter 1:2-4.
However, it must be stated that a new revelation from God will also require a new way of thinking. A new way of thinking leads to a change in conduct, and ultimately a change in lifestyle. We are already conversant with the truth that God’s word is powerful. This is how Psalm 119:89 puts it: ‘Forever, O Lord, your word is settled in Heaven’. Before God acts on earth, He first of all releases His word. So, let me encourage you to hold on to God’s word – every promise made by God to you, regardless of how long it has been will eventually come to pass. Remember that in Isaiah 55:11, He promised: ‘It is the same with my word. I send it out, and it always produces fruit. It will accomplish all I want it to, and it will prosper everywhere I send it’ (NLT).
God’s word can be hindered from having its full effect in our lives as a result of the ‘traditions of men’. Mark 7:8,13 explains this further: ‘You have let go of the commands of God and are holding on to human traditions…Thus you nullify the word of God by your tradition that you have handed down. And you do many things like that.’ See also Hebrews 4:2. A good example is purchasing a house. Many of us have been conditioned to believe that to buy a house we need to apply for a mortgage; but do you know that it is possible to buy a house without a mortgage, buy buying with cash? We must be careful that we do not live our lives according to tradition or the expected way of thinking at the expense of a better and more beneficial option, provided by God. As Christians, we are not called to fit in or follow the crowd. Our mantra should be: ‘Here am I, and the children the LORD has given me. We are signs and symbols in Israel from the LORD Almighty, who dwells on Mount Zion’ (Isaiah 8:18 NIV). Signs are created to be conspicuous and to provide direction. Jesus alluded to this truth by saying: ‘You are the light of the world, a city set upon a hill cannot be hidden’ (Matthew 5:16).
One of the traditions we have been accustomed to, is to try to get things done. One of the popular sayings that we grew up with are the words: ‘If you try and you fail, then try, try and try again’. Here is another saying: ‘Practice makes us perfect’ – so wrong! These approaches have never really worked, so it is imperative that we change our approach to dealing with every situation that comes our way. A good illustration for this is to consider learning a new language, for instance, Spanish. The most productive way to learn Spanish is by training, not be trying hard. Conversely, as we learn more and grow in grace, our approach should be to train to become better custodians of God’s grace. Here is Romans 12:1-2: ‘Don’t copy the behaviour and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect’ (NLT). There are two verbs to consider from this passage, as stated in the New King James version: ‘And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God’. The first verb is the word ‘transform’ which in the original Greek is called ‘metamorphoo’. Here is a breakdown: ‘meta’ – change after being with; ‘morphoo’ – changing form in keeping with inner reality. This is where the root word for the English version, metamorphosis originates from, which often occurs when a caterpillar is transformed into a butterfly. The second verb to bear in mind is the word ‘renew’ from the Greek word: ‘anakainosis’, which means: completing a process which makes new, a renewal or change of heart and life.
So as we mature in grace, there must be some different, new and fresh in our lives that others can see, observe and point at.
Let me share with you four differences between training and trying:
1. When training, every failure is a stepping stone and not a stumbling block toward your success – Persistence: Thomas Edison tried a thousand times before inventing the light bulb that we’ve become accustomed to today. A famous quote attributed to him reads: “I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work.” Here is how the bible puts it: ‘The godly may trip seven times, but they will get up again. But one disaster is enough to overthrow the wicked’ (Proverbs 24:16 NLT).
2. When training, you understand that you have to start small – Patience: Zechariah 4:10 puts it this way: "Do not despise these small beginnings, for the LORD rejoices to see the work begin, to see the plumb line in Zerubbabel's hand."(The seven lamps represent the eyes of the LORD that search all around the world. NLT). So do you want to start praying for an hour or two every day? Start with 10 minutes and move slowly towards your goal. The more you work on this gradually, the easier it becomes. It also applies to learning the Spanish language I illustrated with earlier. I need to learn word by word, before I can start speaking a whole sentence.
3. When training, you follow a particular structure over time – Commitment: It is similar to going to school. At school, you are given a curriculum to follow. To grow in grace, ask the Holy Spirit to give you a pattern or structure to follow, and over time you will begin to map out a plan that works for you. So attributes like your character, your faith in God, your leadership skills and growth in ministry can be developed over time, if you follow a particular structure. Jesus endured the cross knowing that there was joy set before him. Here is how Hebrews admonishes us: ‘We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honour beside God's throne’ (Hebrews 12:2 NLT).
4. When training you focus on who you are becoming and not just what you get – Character: Life is not about what we obtain, but who we are becoming in the process of time. The enemy is more interested in who we become, much more than what we obtain as a result of the temptations he brings our way. A good example is the story of Job; the devil was never really interested in destroying his material wealth, as he was in destroying his soul – He wanted Job to curse God and forfeit his destiny. Conversely, the devil is not so much interested in our success materially or otherwise, but in changing us to despise God in our trials. That is why Apostle Paul admonished us in Romans 12:2 to: ‘Don’t copy the behaviour and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect’ (NLT). So when an opportunity comes your way that looks appealing and attractive, your initial reaction is to look closely to find out who you are likely to become as result of that opportunity. This was the dilemma that Joseph faced when propositioned by Potiphar’s wife in Genesis. He realised that her offer was not in line with what God had told him about becoming a great man, and so he refused the trap. As God’s children, we must always focus on who we are becoming.
The message of grace is so awesome; we cannot comprehend it by trying to work it out in our minds. We must realise that it takes training to fully grasp the benefits of victory, prosperity, redemption, forgiveness, healing and all other benefits that God’s grace provides for us. The story in John 8 of the woman who was caught in the act of adultery is proof to the personification of grace in our Lord, Jesus Christ, who released the woman and told her to ‘go and sin no more’. So is the testimony of John Newton, the writer of the song ‘Amazing Grace, How Sweet the Sound’ who lived a life of debauchery and wickedness before the grace of God lifted him out of that pit. Trying to live under grace only leads to living by the works of the law; instead focus on the grace of God, by training.
In rounding up, here are four pointers to growing in grace:
(a) Put a growth structure/plan in place: Ask the Holy Spirit, your teacher to guide you; He will lead you into all truth. Here is John 16:13; ‘When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own but will tell you what he has heard. He will tell you about the future' (NLT). Include a support network of matured Christians around you to help you with your growth plan.
(b) Be ready to start small: When training, remember that you may need to start small and begin from that point till you become better. Be patient and with time you will begin to notice a difference.
(c) See failure as a stepping stone: When training, see every failure as a stepping stone and not a stumbling block toward your success. Don’t forget that our mind and body is still being transformed.
(d) Focus on who you are becoming: Life is not about what we obtain, but who we are becoming in the process of time.
Today, I want to encourage you to enrol in the school of grace, taught by the Holy Spirit. Ultimately, as a result of this, you will soon begin to experience a fulfilling life of expansion and satisfaction, enjoying the abounding grace of God, and dispensing this grace to others.
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