Revive Our Hearts Radio

Channels of Grace

Leslie Basham: Are those around you receiving God's grace? Here's Nancy Leigh DeMoss.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: God doesn't just want us to be recipients of His grace. He wants us to be channels of His grace so that as He pours His grace into our lives—His saving grace, His sanctifying grace, and that suffering grace—we don't just keep it as a reservoir inside of us, but we become instruments through whom He can display His grace to others.

Leslie: It's Wednesday, October 10, and this is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss. You need God's grace today. Yesterday Nancy explained why each of us needs grace every day. If you missed it, you can hear that program at ReviveOurHearts.com. It's part of a series called Seeking Him, a twelve-week look at the marks of true revival.

When revival comes, an appreciation for God's grace comes as well, and those who are revived share that grace with others. Here's Nancy to explain.

Nancy: Well, as we think back over these last several sessions, aren't you thankful for God's grace? Amazing grace, awesome grace, incredible grace—you and I cannot do anything apart from the grace of God. We need God's grace for every single aspect of our lives.

We've talked about God's saving grace, the fact that it's by His grace that we are justified, that we are made right with God. We've talked about God's sanctifying grace. It's God's grace that is in the process of transforming us day by day into the image or the likeness of Jesus Christ. It's that sanctifying grace that is delivering us from the power of sin, and we've been delivered from the penalty of sin when we came to faith in Jesus Christ and trusted Him.

One day we will be delivered fully from the presence of sin, never to battle it anymore. But in the meantime, God's grace is what is setting us free, delivering us from that grip that sin has in places in our lives. We talked about how, when God convicts us of sin, we need His grace to respond to that conviction and to agree with God about what He has shown us and to cry out to Him and say, “Lord, please forgive me.”

It's God's grace that enables us to obey God and to live in harmony with His Word. It gives us the desire and the power to please Him so that all comes under the heading of sanctifying grace. Again, aren't you thankful for that grace?

Then we talked in the last session about suffering grace. That can come in big doses or little doses. But in every circumstance and season of life, we need God's grace to deal with the challenges, the hurts, the pains, the losses. There are stresses and struggles in marriages. I look at Kim over here whose dad is in the hospital suffering with cancer and the toll that that takes on a whole family.

I know that there are people in this room who are facing major decisions, and there's financial pressure. There's pressure in the workplace. There are career issues. It can be huge things. It can be little things, but we need God's grace. It's those circumstance of life that squeeze us, that press in on us, that make us cry out to the Lord and say, “Lord, I can't do this without You.”

I've often said over the years, “Anything that makes me need God is a blessing,” anything that makes me more desperate for Him, anything that makes me cry out to Him and say, “Lord, help!” I don't know if there's any prayer that's more precious to the heart of our Heavenly Father, and it's true.

I think of somebody I met for the first time last week, a man who was sharing with me about some struggles that his family is going through. This man is not a believer in Jesus Christ, but he has had huge losses in his family, a lot of pain, a lot of suffering, and a lot of issues they're going through right now. I was able to say to him, “It's those very things that will press you to seek God in a way that you were not doing before you had these issues come into your life.”

Well, it's not only that pain and that suffering that can draw us to Christ, but once we have Christ in our lives, it's that suffering—whether, as Elisabeth Elliot says, “It's traffic to taxes to tumors and everything in between,” but it's that suffering, those pressures, those circumstances, that bring us to the point where we cry out to the Lord.

We acknowledge our need. We say, “God, I need You,” and God comes racing to the scene of our need, just like that ambulance we've talked about, racing to the scene of our need when we call.

We say, “I need help.” God sends that help in the form of His grace, all-sufficient grace. Whatever your need, God's grace is greater, and how often we need to remind ourselves, God's grace is sufficient for me right now at this moment, in this circumstance!

Whatever I'm facing is not too big for God's grace. God's grace will enable me, not just to survive what I'm going through, but to thrive in the midst of it, and we need to remind ourselves and each other of the power of God's grace.

Now, I want us to focus today on one other aspect of God's grace, and that is serving grace, grace that we need in order to properly serve and worship the Lord. In the New Testament, those words serve and worship are sometimes used synonymously or with the same Greek word—to serve Him, to worship Him. To worship Him is an act of service, and to serve Him is an act of worship. We need God's grace to do that properly.

You see, God doesn't just want us to be recipients of His grace. He wants us to be channels of His grace so that as He pours His grace into our lives—His saving grace, His sanctifying grace, and that suffering grace, we don't just keep it as a reservoir inside of us, but we become instruments through whom He can display His grace to others.

I've heard somebody say, “We need to breathe grace in and grace out.”  That's a good way to think about all of life—always receiving God's grace. Breathe God's grace in—for your sin, for your suffering, for your sanctification, for your salvation. For whatever you need, breathe God's grace in and then breathe God's grace out—always breathing in, breathing out the grace of God.

John Bunyan said, “Nothing can be done aright without grace." We need God's grace—to take it in for our lives, and then as we minister to those around us, we do that by means of God's grace.

Now, let me take these next moments just to focus on specific areas where we need serving grace and where God will give us the ability, the supernatural enabling, to serve Him and others. The first one that comes to mind is that we impart grace to others by the words that we speak. God gives us grace so that we can speak words that minister grace to others with our tongues.

I think of Ephesians chapter four, verse 29, where the apostle Paul says, “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths.” Some of your translations say, “No useless talk,” no unnecessary conversation, nothing that would be corrupting to the environment or toxic to the situation or the relationship. Don't let any of that come out of your mouth, and you need God's grace to obey that, don't you?

How many times do we want to open our mouth and just give people a piece of our minds? We need God's grace to be quiet, to not speak a word at times. Then we also need God's grace to speak appropriate words, to speak only such words as are “good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear” (Ephesians 4:29). We want to use our tongues, use our words, to minister grace to those who hear our words.

Now, what is God's grace? It's the divine resource that we need to meet us at that moment. So as we speak words that minister grace, what kind of words are those? They're words that fit the situation, words that are appropriate, words that will minister grace to others at their point of need. So then you meet somebody who's discouraged or depressed, you need God's grace filling you so you can speak words that will minister encouragement, grace, to that person.

Maybe somebody is struggling with a decision or struggling to know God's will. They don't know what to do. They need wisdom, so you ask God, “Lord, would You give me wisdom so that I can speak words of grace into this situation, words that will help that person know how to think about this decision or Scripture that You will give me that will minister grace to this situation”?

When you've got two kids who are in the middle of a squabble and they are not speaking words of grace to each other, and you've been dealing with this all day long and you're sick and tired of dealing with these sibling rivalries, you need God's grace to give you a peaceable heart. Then you need God's grace to give you words to speak that will minister grace to the situation.

When your husband comes home, and he's speaking words, maybe, that are not gracious—he's had a rough day. He's had all he can take at work, and when he walks in the door, you know things aren't right. He's maybe not being sensitive to the moment. You need grace to be able to respond to him, not with sharp words or unkind words or rough words, but with the words that will minister grace to the situation, appropriate words, fitting words, words that will meet the need.

Paul says in Colossians chapter four, verse six, “Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how you ought to answer each one” (NKJV). So we say, “Lord, pour Your grace into our lives so that we can impart grace to others with our words.” Then we serve and worship God by His grace.

The writer to the Hebrews says in chapter 12, verse 28, “Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us have grace, by which we may serve [or worship] God acceptably with reverence and godly fear” (NKJV).

You cannot go to church and serve the Lord, you cannot be involved in ministry of hospitality, you cannot be involved in teaching or leading a Bible study or a small group, you cannot be involved in your private worship of the Lord, serving Him, worshiping Him in any way, apart from God giving you grace to do that, the enabling to do that.

Anything else we offer up to the Lord, that's the work of our own hands, is not acceptable to the Lord. The only worship, the only service that is acceptable to Him, is that which comes through His grace. And nobody recognized that more keenly than the apostle Paul. In 1 Corinthians 15, verse 10, he says, “By the grace of God I am what I am.” That's saving grace, sanctifying grace.

“And his grace toward me was not in vain.” It wasn't futile. It wasn't for nothing. He says, “On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them,” speaking of the other apostles, “though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me.” Paul says, “God's grace was poured into my life, and then I became a channel of God's grace. All the hard work, the suffering that I endured, the efforts that I extended, the willingness to spend and be spent on behalf of others, all of that was by the grace of God” (1 Corinthians 15:10).

I would just say a hearty amen as I think about this ministry and the calling God has put on my life to minister His Word. I am utterly, totally dependent on the grace of God to make that Word real in me and then to speak through me to minister to the needs of others.

We come to this whole subject in the New Testament of spiritual gifts, and this would be another example of the grace of God that enables us to serve Him and serve others. Let me read to you, for example, a passage in Romans chapter 12, verses six through eight, that makes this point. Paul says, “Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them.”

Now, you can't tell from the English translation that I just read, the fact that there is a kind of play on words in the original language. He says, “Having gifts.” That word in the Greek is charisma—gifts, and he's speaking of spiritual gifts there—“gifts that differ according to the grace given to us.” The word grace is the word charis, c-h-a-r-i-s—charisma? charis? It's the same root word.

God has given grace to our lives. That's the charis of God, the grace that He's poured into our lives. An expression of that grace is the spiritual gift, one or more of them, that He has given to us. Those spiritual gifts are called charisma—gifts of grace. They're given to us by God's grace. They're utilized by God's grace, and they minister grace to others.

Paul says, “We have charisma." We have gifts, spiritual gifts, that have been given to us by the grace, the charis, of God, that has been given to us. It's all a gift, nothing we earn, nothing we work for. This is not natural talents or abilities. This is God's grace. It's God's gifting, and Paul says, “Use those gifts. Put it to use.”

The grace that God has given to you, the gifts He has given to you, the charis, the charisma—use it to serve others. Then he goes on to say, “If your gift is prophesy, use it in proportion to your faith, if service, use that grace in your serving, the one who teaches, in his teaching, the one who exhorts, in his exhortation, the one who contributes, in generosity, the one who leads, with zeal, the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness” (through verse 8).

Paul's saying, “Don't just gut it out when you're serving God and others. Do it with abandon. Do it with joy. Do it with fullness because you're doing it by the grace of God,” and there's no limit to God's grace. It's a full, rich, abundant supply. How many times have I said to the Lord, “Lord, I do not have anything left to give in this situation”?

God says, “That's just what I was wanting to hear. You need Me?”

I say, “Yes, Lord, I do.”

“Okay, I'll fill you with My grace,” and what comes out is the overflow of His grace. That charisma, that gift of grace, is an undeserved benefit from God. It's a supernatural, special enabling from God to serve Him, and it's a response of gratitude to the grace of God.

We read the same concept in 1 Peter chapter four, where Peter says, “Above all things have fervent love for one another, for 'love will cover a multitude of sins.' Be hospitable to one another without grumbling” (verses 8-9, NKJV). That takes grace. Then he says in verse ten, “As each one has received a gift,” a charisma, a spiritual gift by God's grace, “minister it to one another as good stewards of the manifold grace [charis], of God” (NKJV).

God's grace has been displayed in manifold ways in the lives of those who are part of the body of Christ. Why? For what purpose? So that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belong the glory and the dominion for ever and ever, amen. As we use our gifts humbly, joyfully, abundantly, as God lavishes grace on us and we serve Him and others with that grace, God is glorified, and the body is built up.

Let me just make one other comment here about another aspect of serving grace, and that is the grace of giving. Someday we'll do a whole series on this subject. I love this topic. It's one of my favorite subjects in all of God's Word.

God is a giving God. He's a generous God. He's a gracious God. Those words go together. We are intended to reflect that generous, giving, gracious heart of God, and there's a grace involved in that.

The apostle Paul said to the Corinthians in 2 Corinthians chapter eight, beginning in verse one, “We want you to know, brothers, about the grace of God that has been given among the churches of Macedonia.”

You think, “Wow! Those churches are blessed. Maybe God has really super-abundantly blessed them. Maybe they're really doing well financially. Maybe they've got all their buildings paid off.”

Well, they weren't paying off buildings in those days. They were just struggling to survive as the early church, but you say, “Maybe God just really blessed them.” When we think of God blessing, we think of abundance.

He says, “Well, they were blessed by the grace of God, but it's not as you would usually think of it.” He said, “For in a severe test of affliction, their abundance of joy and their extreme poverty have overflowed in a wealth of generosity on their part” (verse 2). What a combination! Their extreme poverty and their abundance of joy overflowed in a wealth of generosity.

Those are gracious words. Those are words of serving grace, giving grace. God is not a stingy God. God's not an impoverished God, and I think sometimes the way we eke out our giving, the way we eke out our generosity, the way we eke out our service to people makes people think that God doesn't have much or that God's fallen on hard times.

Well, God hasn't fallen on hard times, and as His children, we have an abundance of grace that is to flow through us. In the case of the churches of Macedonia, it came out in actual, material giving. Verse three, “For they gave according to their means, as I can testify, and beyond their means.”

That's lavish grace, generosity reflecting God's heart. Beyond their means, they gave of their own free will, not under compulsion, but gladly, joyfully, “Begging us earnestly for the favor of taking part in the relief of the saints” (verse 4). “Paul, we want to give more. Can't we give more to help with these needs of these other believers?” What a spirit that is!

You don't have to have a lot to be a generous giver. You just have to have a lot of God's grace, and every one of us who is a child of God, has an abundance of God's grace. God calls us to be channels, channels of His grace—grace in, grace out.

Breathe it in. Breathe it out. Receive abundant grace. Give out abundant grace to others as we give and serve with our resources, our time, our effort, our hearts, our compassion. I love that verse in 2 Corinthians nine that says, “God is able to make all grace abound to you so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work” (verse 8).

Are you serving in that abounding way? Do you give of yourself and your resources to your children, to your mate, in the workplace, in your ministry, financially? Are you a “breathing grace out” person, or are you stingy? Do you begrudge giving?

I find myself sometimes starting to resent when people say, “Can we get together? Can we talk?” because I think there's so little time. There's so much to do, and then I stop and think as I listen to these Scriptures, “God has abounding grace that He has poured out into my life, and there is abounding grace for me to give out into the lives of others.”

Ask the Lord if there's someone in your life to whom He wants to deliver His grace through you, maybe even today. Is there someone that, as you look around, has a need for perhaps a word of encouragement, and God wants to breathe out His grace into that person's life through your words, to give to them out of what God has given to you?

Maybe it's a meal you could prepare for someone who's in a situation where they're having a hard time doing that, an errand that could be run, just to stop and pray for someone who is stressed or needy, to stop and to say, “Let's pray,” and you breathe God's grace out as you have received it.

“Freely you have received, freely give,” Jesus said (Matthew 10:8, NKJV). God wants to use you and me to be channels, instruments of His blessing, flowing out into the lives of others.

Leslie: It's exciting to imagine all the ways God's grace will flow today among Revive Our Hearts listeners. If today's teaching from Nancy Leigh DeMoss inspires you to show God's grace in some practical way, would you share your idea? Visit ReviveOurHearts.com, and click on the title of today's program, Channels of Grace.

At the end of today's transcript, you'll find the listener blog. Add your comment there and find out what other listeners have posted. Maybe you're thinking, “Daily transcript? Listener blog?” I wonder what else you're missing if you haven't been to ReviveOurHearts.com lately.

Today's message on grace is part of the series called Seeking Him. A lot of women are listening to each day's program and going through related material in the Seeking Him workbook. One woman ordered the Seeking Him study and was preparing to lead a group of women through it. She was convicted and helped in ways she didn't expect.

She wrote, “It will only be by God's grace and the power of the Holy Spirit that I will be able to lead anyone through this most excellent study. Thank you, Nancy, for something I so desperately needed in my own life.” To experience Seeking Him for yourself, visit ReviveOurHearts.com, or call 1-800-569-5959.

A bride once wished that the roof of the church would cave in on her wedding day. She figured death would be better than her marriage. Well, the roof didn't cave in, and she's now married to a man she doesn't have feelings for. What does grace look like in that situation? Hear about it tomorrow, and as Nancy comes back to pray, remember, all of us need that kind of grace.

Nancy: Lord, we thank You for Your saving grace. We thank You for Your sanctifying grace. Thank You, Lord, for suffering grace, and I pray for that for many of my sisters today who are in need of grace as they suffer.

Then, Lord, we all need Your grace as we serve, as we serve You, as we serve one another. As we speak words today in just the ordinary course of conversation, may they be words of grace. May we minister to the needs of the hearers. May there be gracious words spoken in our homes, in our phone calls, and I would add, in our emails, too, may they be gracious words.

Lord, as we seek to serve, as we give out, may we give as generously and as freely and as graciously as we have received from You, for You are a generous, giving, gracious God. We want our lives to reflect Your awesome, amazing grace. I pray it in Jesus' name, amen.

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss is an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

All Scriptures are from the English Standard Version unless otherwise noted.

*Offers available only during the broadcast of the radio series.

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