A Journey of Grace: Navigating the Gap
What was your life like before Jesus?
What led you to Jesus?
What encounters have you had with Jesus? What has He done in your life?
How is He transforming you today?
Have you ever noticed that when we tell our story… when we talk about our walk with God… we start out excited?
We feel Joy at our encounter with Him?
We focus on those “epic” moments… those powerful emotions… the bold commitments and declarations we made…
BUT… Then what happens?
It doesn’t take long for
— feelings to fade
— life overwhelms us
— struggles come
and we begin to ask “whats going on?”
We soon find that the excitement has diminished!
Throughout our journey — notice I said journey… this is not an instant perfection thing — the Journey of Grace is just that, A Journey!
And that’s the nature of a journey…
It’s going to have ups and downs...
It’s going to have excitement and disappointment, triumph and trial… That’s what makes it an adventure!
— Scripture does not promise us an “easy” path. —
If you travel with Jesus long enough, you WILL find yourself in situations that you don’t have the will power and spiritual reserves to persevere. (FACT!)
When it happens, we find ourselves lost — burned out, frustrated, stumbling in our attitudes, words, and deeds…
We find ourselves out of alignment with the Journey of Grace.
No matter how many miracles are happening around us, we throw up our hands, give up, and go back to what we knew before...
— We just kind of quit… and become numb and apathetic!
We’re not alone…
Peter is a great example of this.
— At Pentecost, we find him giving one of the most amazing, inspiring, convicting sermons in history, and the result was 3,000 people were saved as a result!
BUT… Just two months prior…
— Peter was lost… discouraged… frustrated… and had given up!
3 “I’m going out to fish,” Simon Peter told them, and they said, “We’ll go with you.” So they went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing.
— Fishing was Peter’s default — His comfort zone — His reset button…
— He found himself standing flat dab in the middle of the gap, and he didn’t know what to do!
— So he threw up his hands and said: “I’ve had it! I give up! I don’t know what to do, so I’m going back tp what I know, and that’s fish.”
Have you ever been there?
“It’s ok!” (I want you to know that)
The Gap is vital to our journey!
What happens in the gap makes all the difference in the world!
Let me tell you: “Jesus will not leave us in the Gap.”
4 Early in the morning, Jesus stood on the shore, but the disciples did not realize that it was Jesus. 5 He called out to them, “Friends, haven’t you any fish?” “No,” they answered. 6 He said, “Throw your net on the right side of the boat and you will find some.” When they did, they were unable to haul the net in because of the large number of fish. 7 Then the disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” As soon as Simon Peter heard him say, “It is the Lord,” he wrapped his outer garment around him (for he had taken it off) and jumped into the water.
— — We know the rest of the story, right?
The Gap matters!!!
— We cannot go from fishing to faithfulness in a couple of months without the gap!
So, What is the Gap?
The Gap is the space between those “epic” moments with God…
— The Gap is the Upper Room.
4 On one occasion, while he was eating with them, he gave them this command: “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. 5 For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.”
This is interesting…
Jesus rescued Peter from the boat (again!), declares that he and the others will be his witnesses…, then puts them in “time out!”
(look at that again)
Jesus says to them: “Before you go out on your own… Before you start thinking you’re all that, and you can do all those things you were just incapable of… go and wait!”
“Take a time out!”
It was during that “time out” that Peter and the others experienced the work of “sanctifying grace.”
— It was in the Gap that they chose Mathias to replace Judas.
— It was in the Gap that they learned to wait and pray…
— It was in the Gap that they received the Holy Spirit!
The Gap Matters!!!!
It was in the Gap that Peter came face to face with himself.
It was in the Gap that he faced the “magnitude of his purpose and the deficit of his capacity.” (anonymous)
The Gap is where we come face to face with our past, present, and future.
Like it or not, we all have a past, and our past has left its marks.
We have baggage, residue, wounds, and default settings…
Any movement towards Grace requires that we deal with our past.
— We must recognize it and consecrate it…
To Recognize it and consecrate it means turning it over to God.
— We have to recognize where we’ve been and what got us to where we are…
— That means not blaming others for ur sin…
— It means drawing a circle around ourselves and taking responsibility for everything inside it!
And then giving it to God, realizing that He is the only One who can take care of it!
We cannot deal with our present without dealing with our past and realizing that sometimes they are interconnected.
— Looking at our shame, guilt, ego, and arrogance…
— dealing with our preferences, demands, prejudices, and biases…
— owning our fears and self-deceit…
— identifying our reluctance to embrace the fullness of God’s work in our lives, and surrendering!
Why do we struggle with that?
Why do we seem to struggle so much with surrendering EVERYTHING to God?
When we try to do it, why do we lose excitement and try to take it back so quickly?
We need to let go and let Grace do its work.
When we became Christians… When we confessed and received His forgiveness and salvation… when we were baptized…
We agreed to hand over our story to Christ!
But here’s the problem: We kept the pen!
The Gap is where we learn to hand over the pen… to allow God to write the rest of the story — Every Line!
The Gap is where Jesus becomes not only Redeemer of our story, but LORD of our story!
Surrender to Him means that:
— We take our direction from Him…
— He defines our work, our play, our use of money, our lifestyle, EVERYTHING!!!!
The Gap is a place of:
— Radical consecration
— self-denial and sacrifice
But it is also a place of Joy, Excitement, and Hope… because it sets the stage for the deepest work of the Holy Spirit in our lives.
It is a place of transformation and rebirth… if we will let it be!
“The world apart from God, deforms and malforms people. God reforms and transforms.” — David Busic
God will grow us through the Gap, if we will allow Him to.
So… Here’s the question: “How do we navigate the Gap?”
Scripture gives us the answer.
42 They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. 43 Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. 44 All the believers were together and had everything in common. 45 They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. 46 Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, 47 praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.
They were together
They experienced God together
They met together regularly
We cannot walk in Holiness without each other.
2 Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.
They were vulnerable together
They practiced faith together
They learned together
They witnessed together
They served together
Are you getting the picture here?
We are meant to be together… One body — One Church — One God.
The sacraments are one way we do that…
We celebrate them together.
We receive communion together.
Communion is a regular call to the remembrance of and participation in the grace of God.
— It is done collectively, to remind us that we are a community… dependent on the grace of God.
— It is receiving — we don’t “TAKE” the elements… We receive them. Remembering that life is a gift!
(receive elements —partake)
Now, we turn to the world with the Gift of Grace we have been given.