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Renewed By Grace

Week 16_Thumbnail_Buckets Leak Renewed by Grace

Renewed by Grace

Christians love the fact that God is so close to us. However, it doesn’t always feel like God is with us, even though He is. Sometimes it feels like God is nowhere to be found.
All of us are like a bucket with a bunch of little holes in it. When we learn that God loves us unconditionally, and that He will forgive us for sinning, our buckets are filled with gratitude, excitement, and passion. Unfortunately, our passion usually fades faster than we want it to. Our buckets leak.
A relationship with God is like other relationships. It’s exciting in the beginning, but there are hard seasons. A relationship can start with a sizzle, but it will start to fizzle. When we are in the beginning of a romantic relationship, the honeymoon phase is often the best time. Have you ever noticed that things you used to think were cute about your partner aren’t so cute anymore? When you were dating, you loved how she would hold her coffee with two hands and sip it. Now, after being married for two years, it drives you nuts. “Stop slurping your coffee so loud!” So, what do you do? You invest in the relationship. You find ways to rekindle the excitement that was there in the beginning.
To keep our bucket full, we have to continually refill it. That’s why we go to church to sing worship songs and hear good sermons. Some of us read inspirational books, pray, and worship God in nature. These things refill our bucket, but the bucket continues to leak. If we stay connected to God, His grace fills us with everything we need to faithfully follow Him. But the news gets even better. God’s grace does not only fill us.
God’s grace fills us and seals us.
The longer we are in relationship with God, the more the holes in our buckets are sealed. We learn Biblical truth and gain confidence. We follow Christ’s instructions and remove a bad habit. We set our eyes on Jesus, and the temptations of this world are less distracting. We pray and get peace.
We call this process sanctification. It is the process of becoming the people God created us to be, but it is usually a slow process. If you’re reading this, you still have holes in your bucket. So, what do we do? Stay connected to God. Keep filling the bucket. Remind yourself of the incredible hope that we have in Jesus.
We know that God, who raised the Lord Jesus, will also raise us with Jesus and present us to himself together with you. 15 All of this is for your benefit. And as God’s grace reaches more and more people, there will be great thanksgiving, and God will receive more and more glory. 16 That is why we never give up. Though our bodies are dying, our spirits are being renewed every day. 
What are the implications of the word “renewed” in this passage? It implies that hope fades. Passion wanes. And Paul says we’re being renewed every day!
Jesus tells us that if we will stay connected to Him, He will refill our buckets with everything we need.
Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need. 34 “So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today.
I’m writing this on a Tuesday and there are things I have to worry about today. Today has Tuesday trouble, and tomorrow will bring Wednesday trouble. That’s not me being a prophet. That’s just life, but there’s good news. There’s a verse in Lamentations that I have relied on my whole life. I need it.
The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; 23 they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.
Tomorrow has trouble coming, but it also has grace coming. I was given grace this morning that was designed for today.
Let’s go back to the second Corinthians passage. In it, Paul echoes Jesus.
For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever! 18 So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever.
I recently read a story of a pastor who left his faith in Jesus because he got cancer, and I am amazed by the shortsightedness of his decision. If there is ever a time that he needs to refill his bucket, it’s now. He needs the new mercies of Jesus today, but rather than look to Jesus for help, he is blaming Jesus. He is blaming Jesus for the pain that sin has caused.
Throughout history, people have made bad decisions (sin) that lead to pain, and those bad decisions had consequences for both the people who made the decisions and for the people around them. Bad decisions are like stacked dominos. When I knock over my domino, it will slam into the dominos of my wife and kids. Throughout history, consequences have compounded exponentially. The sins of Adam and Eve caused pain in the lives of their children, and the dominos have tumbled all the way to us.
As Christians, it is our responsibility to end as much of the suffering as possible. As the holes in our buckets are sealed, we cause less pain for us and for others. However, until we are glorified, we recognize that the pain of this world is a result of our rebellion from God, not a result of the actions of God.
So why doesn’t God just make us all entirely sanctified right now? He could. In fact, someday He will. Someday He will make all of His children perfect, but not yet. We beg, “God, just take away the temptation. Take the selfishness and make me generous. Take away the sadness and give me joy. Heal my body. Fulfill my desires.” And He will do those things, but first we have lessons to learn, and God has glory to get.
God’s plan does not include an instantaneous end to sin and pain. If God is going to get the glory, the hope of the world can’t be my perfection. He is the hope of the world, not me. That’s why God sanctifies us slowly. The fact that we run out of gas every day pus us in the station, and that’s where He wants us, so we remember where the gas comes from. He wants us to set our eyes on Him, not on our own perfection.
Allow Jesus to refill your bucket today. Trust His timing and thank Him for continuing to fill the holes in your life.
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