Grace Awakened ~ Welcome To Week 1

Welcome!!

I am so thankful to have you here, from wherever you are.  So many of you from all over the globe, TOGETHER, with one intent…to know and experience His grace on a deeper level this summer.  I wish so much that I could see all your sweet faces, but hear me as I say a very excited and heart-felt “Hello!!” from the Rocky Mountains of Colorado to wherever you may find yourself today!  I have been praying for you for months now, praying that God would meet each of you right where you’re at, and that He would begin to prepare us all as we begin this study of GRACE.

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Grace.  

Amazing, glorious, and beautiful.  Overwhelming, unbelievable and scandalous.  This grace, poured out, over and over.   Given to us generously, so that our lives may be awakened to Him.

I was eight years old when His grace first awakened my life.  My mom and I had gone to an evening event at a local auditorium, and I found myself wondering how to respond after the preacher asked if anyone wanted to “receive Jesus”.  And though I was quiet, my heart was racing, knowing I needed this Savior.  I wanted Jesus.  So I prayed and I asked for all of it, all His forgiveness, all His love, and all His grace for all my days…no turning back.  I had decided to follow Jesus and it changed everything in that one moment.  I vividly remember walking back to the car with my mother that night, trying in my little girl way to describe how very close Jesus felt to me in that moment, like He was “right there”.

Salvation.  By grace alone.  

I certainly hadn’t done anything grand by that point to have earned His favor or forgiveness, I was, after all, only eight.  But I knew to my soul that I was His and He was mine.

By grace.

That child-like faith carried me for years.

But so often little girls grow up and the world grows dark and the nearness grows dim.  Life goes differently than planned, relationships crack, and reality overshadows the dreams.  Words like “grace” become common, and what once was amazing about it all somehow becomes familiar. 

Anyone?

We hear the word grace so often, in song, in conversations, in sermons ~ amazing grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me.  We hear it, we know it, we can sing it, but does it mean anything?  Honestly.  Does it?  Or is it simply a theological truth we can quote that has no real impact on our daily lives?

What if we had a grace awakening?

What if we opened ourselves up and rediscovered the fullness and reality of this amazing grace in our lives?  How would we then live?  With an awakening…of grace?

As I look at the word “awake”, it means to have an awareness, to become cognizant, vigilant and alert, and (my favorite) to wake up and not sleep.

I am forever falling asleep during late night movies at our house.  I’ll want so much to stay up and watch a good movie, we’ll put the kids to bed and my husband and I will sit down and push play.  He says it’s usually immediate (I’d give myself at least a half hour), but pretty much every single time I’ll wake up when the credits are rolling and say, “I can’t believe I fell asleep (really?), I missed it all.”

When we are asleep we miss everything.  Which is fine when we are tired, but when we are walking through life, it slowly steals our “sight”.  To be asleep to life is to walk around unaware of its meaning and significance.  We function on autopilot and shift from engaging and experiencing life to simply maintaining it.   

When we are asleep in life we become short-sighted and live only for the ease of the moment.  We grumble and cannot see the good.  We become defensive and callous towards people’s needs and circumstances.

However, Ephesians says that because of His great love for us, God made us ALIVE in Him through Christ Jesus (2:4-5).  Alive, because of Love.  Because of Grace.  

When we are alive and awake in His love and grace we see differently.  Our hearts are different and we see others through His eyes, with His kindness.  When we are awakened to His grace we are engulfed in thankfulness because we recognize that He has lavished us with this gift.  Our words are gracious.  Our hearts are expectant, knowing that He is on the move in our lives.    

His incredible grace awakens us to live fully alive in His love.

Oh, I want to live alive in His love, don’t you?  I want to walk in the clarity and reality of that Truth.  I want to wake up.  I do not want to miss this one.  I want to be present to His love as I walk in the details of my day.  As I move and work and speak to those around me, I want to live in an awareness of His grace on my life.  As tangible as He was to me that night as an eight year old girl, I want a fresh awareness today of all that He is, all that He gave, all that He offers.  To walk alive in Him.

Anyone else?

My continual prayer for us as we begin to open ourselves up anew to His grace is that “the eyes of our heart would be enlightened” (1:18) and that we would get this, to the very core of our being.  That we would no longer sleep through life, unaware and unaffected.  But that we would become fully present…fully aware…fully vigilant…fully awake.

Awake to His grace.  

This Week {Week 1} ~ Grace Awakened

This week’s verses throughout Ephesians will overflow with this message of grace.  SOAK into it.  God’s Word has the power to change your life and if I were sitting across from you I would do everything I could to convince (beg?) you to spend time reading and soaking in His truth.  

Each week I will encourage you in three ways:  to pray specifically, to read intentionally, and to walk aware of His grace.

1.  Pray.  Throughout this week, open your heart to the Lord.  Praise Him.  Thank Him for this amazing gift of grace that has been given to you.  Ask Him to give you a heightened sense of awareness of this grace.  Ask Him to show you if there are ways you’ve become unaware or unaffected by His grace and love.  Pour out your heart to Him with whatever He has been stirring in you. 

2.  Read Ephesians, Chapters 1 and 2.  Over the next seven days, absorb these verses through as many avenues as possible:  

  • Open up your Bible and read these two incredible chapters.  
  • Download the YouVersion app on your smart phone, plug in your headphones and listen to it audibly.  
  • Go to www.biblegateway.com and read it online in multiple versions.
3.  Awaken.  The last thing I want is for us to read a nice devotional, look at a few verses, yet never have it matter in the reality of life.  Each week you’ll have different opportunities to become aware of what God is stirring in you and take it to the next level, allowing His truth to change you from the inside out.  Here are some specific ways to become more aware of His grace this week:
  • Write it out:  As you read through these first two chapters in Ephesians, grab a pen and list out every~single~way God has provided or poured out His grace on you.  It’s really a lot.  I did this exercise a few weeks ago…oh.my.word I was overwhelmed by how much is packed into these scriptures, overwhelmed by His kindness and generosity towards me.  It’s significant to simply read it, but there’s something very powerful in writing it out and seeing it in your own handwriting, right there in black and white.  
  • Ask intentional questions:  As you read and write, deliberately ask how these truths affect your daily life.  Take notice of any specific words or verses that seem to leap out at you.  Ask why.  Why that word or verse?  What might God want to speak into your life through those words?
  • Breathe.  I’ve come to notice that when I pause and take a moment to intentionally awaken to His presence, I breathe deeper.  That deep breath allows me space to refocus and remember that He is with me, and that His grace and love are absolutely real in my life.  Take time this week to breathe in His grace.

Thank you for being here with us.  As we press into His grace this summer, God will move among us, of this I am certain.  May this be our prayer as we seek Him this week and seek to know this gift of grace:

“We praise God for the glorious grace He has poured out on us who belong to His dear Son.  He is so rich in kindness and grace that He purchased our freedom with the blood of His Son and forgave our sins.  He has showered His kindness on us, along with all wisdom, and understanding…I pray that your hearts will be flooded with light so that you can understand the confident hope He has given to those He called, that you will understand the incredible greatness of God’s power for us who believe Him.”  

Ephesians 1:6-8;18-19 (NLT)

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See you back here Friday, as we take a “Weekend Walk” together, an intentional exercise to enter His presence and experience His grace.

For additional encouragement and community throughout the week, find us on Facebook  at facebook.com/womenwhobelieve.

Invite your friends to join us, from across the street or across the world.  Let’s live and breathe His grace together!

Tell us how God is stirring in your heart…there is something powerful that happens when we hear the testimony of others.  Tell us how you are waking up to God’s grace in your life!

  

 

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1 Comment

  1. Kerrie Green on June 4, 2014 at 7:22 am

    GREAT stuff Julie!! 😉 Loving being able to “be with” my church family even though we are in Utah packing up! Very excited for this study! Thank you for taking the time to make this available to us!!;)

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