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-- © GodSpeak International 2005 --
-- Do not republish without written permission from <copyright@godspeak.org> --

Author: Rodney Hogue <rodhogue@aol.com> http://www.icgrace.org
Editors: Teresa Seputis, Earlene Bown
Transcribers: Sharon Farris, Rita Joyce, Erma Kummerer, Fred Pekkonen

Prayer-School Course #32

Grace and Christian Values

By Rodney Hogue

Lesson 18
Wrap Up

There are some values that are universal to the body of Christ. Each church has its own specific calling and destiny, its area of specialization that God created that church specifically to do. In fact, God has created each local church for a special destiny, just as He has created each person for with a special destiny in mind. But there are some common areas, values and destinies that the various local churches all share.

I have talked about five of them in this teaching series. I have used the acronym G.R.A.C.E. to organize them, so that they are easy to remember. The "G" stands for "God's Presence" and our pursuit of Him. The "R" stands for "Restoration of Souls," "A" stands for "Advancing God's Kingdom," "C" stands for "Character-Based Leadership," and "E" stands for "Extravagant Worship."

I would like to wrap up this teaching series by briefly reviewing these values and tying them together for you, so you can see why they are important to us.

Did you notice that the first and last letter of the acronyym G.R.A.C.E. both stand for similar things? They both stand for God and His presence and responding to His presence with heartfelt worship. That is significant because all things the Church does must start and end with God. He must be the instigator and completer of anything that His people do. If God is not doing something, then we must not be doing it either.

Jesus put it this way when He walked on the earth: "Most assuredly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He sees the Father do; for whatever He does, the Son also does in like manner" (John 5:19). And He said something very similar in John 12:49 when He said, "For I have not spoken on My own authority; but the Father who sent Me gave Me a command, what I should say and what I should speak."

It must be the same way with any task the church takes on. The church is not to by driven by what the members think it would be nice to do. It is also not to be driven by what the world thinks the church should do. No! We need to do the things that God thinks the Church should be doing -- the church needs to do the very things that God is doing in this earth, because God has called us to do these things with Him. We are to look and see what the Father is doing, and then do it with Him. It all starts and ends with God. If He isn't doing it, then it is not worth doing. If God isn't in a given activity or ministry, it is time to close down that activity, seek God and find out what God is doing, then start doing that instead.

So how does worship and going after God's presence fit into this? It fits in this way: we can't see what the Father is doing if we aren't spending time with Him, if we are not pursuing Him. We won't have His power and anointing to do His work if we don't draw close to Him, because that power and anointing comes from the place of deep intimacy with God. God is the source of our life, the source of our energy, the source of our anointing and the source of our motivation. We need to draw near to God to be recharged, to be empowered and enabled to do the things that He is doing. We are to be the very carriers of His persence here on this earth. We are to be vessels of glory, and we can only be filled with God's glory when we actively pursue Him and allow Him to fill us with His very presence.

God has not called us to serve Him as slaves, but as dear sons. And as sons, we draw into intimacy with God; we approach Him, we come near to Him. We don't stay in the outer courts of the temple, but we press into the inner court and then into the Holy of Holies -- we pursue God and we press into His very presence through worship and praise.

It's all about God's presence, God's glory and God's will. The programs of man are going to fail; God is not going to bless us in programs and activities that He is not doing. Therefore, we don't want to select a set of programs and then ask God to bless us in doing them. Instead we want to draw near to God and wait on Him and seek Him and find out what He is doing, then we want to do those things with Him. And when we are doing what the Father is doing, when we are inviting God's presence into it and submitting to His will and obeying Him, there are no limits to what He can do through us. That verse in John 14:12a applies to us. Jesus is speaking and He said, "I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in Me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father."

When you pursue the presence of God, you are able to enter into new depths of intimacy with Him, to draw close to Abba Father and to know Him as never before. And heartfelt worship will begin to explode out of you as you respond to His presence -- you won't be able to help it when you experience His love and His awesomeness and His nearness. God's presence and worship are closely related to each other, and they are the foundation upon which the church builds all of the other things that God has called them to do. If we carry God's presence, then when we go out, God goes out with us. When we do the things that the Father is doing, He puts His anointing and His favor on them, and He empowers them, because we are doing what He wants to do.

God's presence carries another wonderful benefit, for with the presence of God comes the anointing of God, the power of God and the glory of God. You don't need this anointing or that spiritual gift, because when you have God's presence, you are fully equipped. When we have God, we have the whole package; we are not missing or lacking anything. Then we can do His will with Him and watch His kingdom advance.

Advancing God's kingdom (the "A" of G.R.A.C.E.) is in the center for a very important reason. That is God's primary purpose, the reason He leaves us on the earth after we receive Jesus. He could just take us right to heaven to be with Him once we become adopted into His family. After all, heaven is a much nicer place than earth and we would be much happier there. But He doesn't do that. Have you every wondered why? It is because He has a purpose for us to do with Him here on earth.

God is very serious about advancing His kingdom, about bringing the world to know His Son, and about transforming all of the world systems to carry His glory and His presence. Jesus gave us a commission to be His witnesses just before He ascended back into Heaven. And He gave us the empowerment to do that at Pentecost, as per Acts 1:8a, which says, "But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be My witnesses..."

That is the church's primary task on earth. We are to be His witness and to advance His kingdom. There was a period of time where the church seemed to have gotten confused on this and they got so focused on not being citizens of this world that they withdrew their influence from many of the world systems: from education, from politics, from finance and business, from entertainment. And the devil moved in and took them over, transforming them for his own dark purposes. But God has been waking up the church lately, and we are realizing that we should never have given these over to the devil and now we need to penetrate them and take them back for God's kingdom. God is calling us to be agents of transformation in the realms that He has placed us in.

The other two letters in G.R.A.C.E. have to do with us, the people who God uses to do accomplish His purposes on this earth. The "R" stands for restoration. That is the process by which God cleans us out and removes the "garbage" we carry so we will have more room in us to carry His glory. It is where He takes off the filthy rags of our own carnality and failures, and clothes us in the white robes of His righteousness. It is the process by which God deals with our past issues and removes the things that hinder us and hold us back. He heals the past hurts, He removes the things that cause us agony and anguish. He changes our natures to get rid of those things that predispose us to fail, and He causes us to grow and mature in Him. He transforms us to be more like Him, and even to think more like Him. And through this process, He changes our desires to better line up with His. He causes us to begin to walk in His joy and peace.

Whatever our weakness, whatever our failures, whatever our inadequancies, He removes them and He restores our souls. He lifts us out of the muck and mire and puts us on His path. He restores the purpose for our lives and He equips us for the destiny that He created us for. He transforms us from a place of defeat and failure to walk in His victory and to accomplish His purposes on this earth.

The "C" of G.R.A.C.E. has to do with character-based leadership. There are two important factors here. The first is character, which God wants to develop in each of our lives. He takes us through difficulties and hardships because that is where character is formed. He causes us to grow and mature in Him. Having character and maturity means that our character becomes more like Jesus' character, and we better know and understand the ways of God and comply with His purposes. When God raises people up as leaders in the body of Christ, they must have this character and maturity. They must walk in integrity, be purposeful about God's agenda and serving God, and take intitiative in working with God to accomplish His purposes.

The second thing of "C" is leadership. God would like to mature and raise each of us up as leaders. In order for Him to do that, we must be willing to cooperate with Him as He works His transformation in our lives and builds His character in us. We are all called to different levels of leadership and in different areas. We are not all called to be the senior pastor of the church, because the chruch only needs one senior pastor to function well. But there are many areas within the church that require godly leadership. Perhaps God has called you to one of these. Some are called to lead one-on-one instead of leading a group; some are called to disciple others, to help mold their character and help them grow and mature in Him. That is also a from of leadership, and if you want God to use you in that area, you will need to allow Him to first develop His character in you.

The church is not some institution, it is a family of people who belong to Jesus and who have a divine calling and destiny on their lives. The church is to be His witness, to advance His kingdom and to bring glory to His name. The fact is that God uses people -- that is you and me -- to accomplish His purposes on the earth. And He is looking for those who are willing, for those who serve Him because they love Him, and for those who are deeply committed to obey Him because of of that love relationship they have with Him. God is calling us to wholeness and restoration so that we can be better servants of His. He is also calling us to passionately pursue Him, to draw close to Him in intimacy and worship, to be carriers of His presence and pursuers of His glory.

And that is why His grace is so important to us.

-- © GodSpeak International 2005 --
-- Do not republish without written permission from copyright@godspeak.org --

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