Friday, February 7, 2020

Grace and Gratitude (Sermon November 17, 2019)

Going Deeper
by Pat Russell

“Grace and Gratitude” – Titus 3:3-7

The following suggestions are meant to give you some ideas on how you might take the sermon and allow God to speak to you. Read through the list; pick one or more to concentrate on. Enjoy!

What do you remember from Pastor Bruce’s sermon? This is not a content question as much as it is a heart question. What meant something that has stayed with you? Spend a few minutes in quiet holding that thought or feeling up to God for his grace to come to you through it. God may have something more to say to you.

In the three Greek definitions on our handout, the words “well-being” or “well blessed” appear in each definition. Think about or journal about how you experience “well-being” and then how you are “well-blessed.” What is the difference in your life? Have you had one without the
other? What was that like?

Pastor Bruce pointed out that salvation is the “touchstone” of gratitude in our lives. Think about how you view your salvation…is it your “ticket to heaven,” or is there more to it? What is the more?

Choose one of these phrases or create one of your own from the handout. Softly repeat it over and over as a prayer: “May joy be my gratitude” (Barth), or “God has made me alive with Christ” (Paul), or “I am a new creation” (Paul), or “Widen my heart toward greater goodness and love” (Bass).

A spiritual practice, for example, reading your Bible, praying, going to church, singing in the choir, being a deacon or elder, etc. could be a transactional exercise where you are earning God’s approval (doing it because “that’s what I should do”), or a transformational space where you open yourself to God’s presence and grace (“his act of kindness, gift, that which brings wellbeing”). Be VERY honest with yourself and God, which is the case for you? Does one of the
practices seem to give more life to you than the others? In view of your answer, how might God be inviting you to something more? Listen carefully to him in the next few minutes.

For you “techy” types, someone suggested that there are some parallels between downloading an app and the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives. Enjoy making the connection! What insight did you gain by doing this? (By the way, I just had a moment of grace, I accidently shut down my computer before I saved this document! I am not sure how, but Google gave it back to me. Hmmm, more to think about.)

Choose one of the wonderful quotes on our handout that was special to you. Change it into your prayer.

Someone in our church wrote about transformation from her recent reading: “…what I clearly heard was that Christ within us changes us bit by bit every day, and this is a mysterious miracle and an amazing gift. When I depend on the Spirit to help me through my day and pause to consult with him inside me, and he will guide me more as I give him more space in my life. This is a day-by-day process that will never end. Hallelujah!” What are your feelings and thoughts as
you read this?

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