Rabbi’s Reflections – Sunday, January 7, 2024
Shavuah Tov,

Rabbi’s Note: Jerry Miller has ministered on several occasions at Shomair together with his wife Jo.  Jerry is an elder at Kingdom Living, our sister congregation in Kansas City.  He is the author of book, Grace Beyond Reason https://www.amazon.com/Grace-Beyond-Reason-Untapped-Intends/dp/1954533098  We are honored he has accepted our invitation to write the RR on Sundays.  Here is his first submission. End RN.

The Grace Factor
by Jerry Miller

Considering our lives as Yeshua-followers, we know that we are here on this earth to bear fruit for Yeshua, impacting those around us.  Our lives are to demonstrate to an unbelieving world the glory of knowing and walking with God, our Creator.  However, considering this calling can sometimes leave us feeling somewhat overwhelmed, especially as we observe the cultural chaos and confusion all around us.  The world appears to be growing increasingly antagonistic to the Lord and to the values we stand for as His people.  However, the condition of the world does not release us from our responsibility to impact the world.  Rather, humanity’s increasing rebellion against God serves to highlight our greatest need as we seek to reach a lost and broken world.  Our greatest need is for, what I would call, the grace factor.

Here is a truth we must recognize.  God’s call on our lives is actually impossible.  That may sound discouraging, but it’s a truth that, in reality, is quite liberating.  You see, recognizing the natural impossibility of God’s call is a first step for seeing our need for an empowerment that takes us beyond our natural abilities.  And that is exactly what grace makes available to us.  We often describe grace as being the undeserved mercy of God.  While grace does include God’s undeserved mercy, it consists of so much more.  Grace brings a supernatural empowerment to our lives, equipping us to live beyond the limits of our natural capabilities.  Seeing this becomes liberating because it helps me understand that my fruitfulness is not based on my natural resources.  Looking to my own resources will inevitably place limits on my fruitfulness for the Lord and my capacity for blessing others.  If I am looking to myself and what I can comfortably accomplish, that won’t take me very far.  But if I am leaning on God’s limitless grace for accomplishing what seems impossible, that changes everything.

Grace will take us beyond ourselves, as we step out in faith.  We embrace a lifestyle of blessing others, giving ourselves to people and needs we encounter, in response to the Holy Spirit’s prompting.  It is in this regard that we all face what can be described as a divine tension in our lives.  I am referring to the stretching we experience as God leads us to step outside our comfort zones.  This is indeed part of the growth process of our faith walk.  In response to God’s leadings, we step out in ways that take us beyond our previous experiences, and we find that God meets us with His grace to take us into new levels of fruitfulness.

Why is it that this process involves a divine tension?  I believe tension comes into play because, more often than not, when God calls us to embrace something that stretches us, we are not truly ready for it.  By “ready,” I simply mean, naturally prepared to the extent that we feel confident in our ability to accomplish it.  While our preference might be to limit our actions to areas in which we are well-prepared or trained, God clearly does work in ways that stretch us and challenge our sense of comfort.  When we say “yes” to such stretching, we are inviting God’s grace to take us beyond our previous successes.  As God moves in such situations, it is clear that He is the One who is at work through us.  Now, I need to qualify this so I don’t give the wrong impression.  Natural preparation and training is a good thing, and we all should give ourselves to become as equipped and instructed as possible in our service unto the Lord.  We should value the importance of instruction and training.  But instruction and training alone are just a beginning point for God using us.  What truly makes us “ready” to bless others is the grace that can take us beyond ourselves.

Let me give a simple practical example of the principle in view here.  As a young couple is preparing for their first child, there is an abundance of resources for getting instruction in parenting.  We can read all the books and avail ourselves of all the resources and think we are fully prepared and “ready” for parenthood.  But then the child comes, and we realize quickly that the learning alone did not fully prepare us for the challenges.  We see that we need grace for aspects of parenting that the books could not provide.  The same principle is true as we seek to serve God with our lives.

So again, when God calls us to do something that stretches us, we are likely not truly “ready” for it, regardless of how much learning, instruction and planning we have had.  We are not ready because there is a “grace factor” that books and training cannot provide.  It is His grace that makes us ready to encounter a world that desperately needs God and needs us to represent Him.  It’s a grace from God that is released only as we respond to His promptings to step out in faith.  Most often, we do not experience grace until we step into the place of actually needing it.  We say “yes” to God, perhaps without feeling very prepared, but He meets our “yes” with His grace.

As we follow the Lord, we all will experience the tension of God calling us to do things for which we may feel unprepared and even unqualified.  But as we affirm in our hearts that God is leading us, even though we are “not ready,” our “yes” to God will launch us into a realm where the “impossible” becomes reasonable.  Such is the impact of God’s grace.  Yes, God’s call on our lives is impossible, but that’s alright, because, He promises a grace that will take us beyond what makes sense…beyond what we can imagine.  He gives us unreasonable grace for the impossible life to which He calls us.

Daily Bread, reading plan by Lars Enarson (https://www.thewatchman.org/)
Sunday 7-Jan-24 Exodus 6:2-13 2 Samuel 13 Psalm 80 Luke 8:26-56 Ephesians 2