God doesn’t want us to stop growing when we get saved until we die.  Grace is divine help, special help for my tasks; loving kindness and mercy that is sufficient to aid us in any danger, to enable us to have strength to bear any trouble mentally. Grace is the ability to handle any situation in a way that pleases and glorifies God. If we don’t handle a situation like God wanted us to, it means we didn’t ask for grace. We have to ask for grace to have it imparted to us.

II Peter 3:18 But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and for ever. Amen.

We’re saved by grace as God’s favor toward us. God gives us the ability to stay free of sin but we’re like a rock when we first get saved. God wants us to be like a smooth rock without rough edges that would cut you when you rub it too hard. God has a process that helps us get rid of the rough spots through grace. He wants us to come boldly to the throne of grace. We can all see in the past where we failed in the grace of God. He didn’t kick us out but he corrected, encouraged, or showed us a better way. We’re not his children without correction. We never get where we don’need correction. Peter was 31 when he was fishing and met Jesus. First he recognized he was a sinner, then he forsook all to follow Jesus.

John 1:40-42 One..which heard John speak, and followed him, was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother. He first findeth his own brother Simon, and saith…We have found the Messias, which is, being interpreted, the Christ. And he brought him to Jesus. And…he said,Thou art Simon the son of Jona: thou shalt be called Cephas, which is by interpretation, A stone.

Luke 5:7-11 And they beckoned unto their partners…in the other ship, that they should…help them. And they came, and filled both the ships, so that they began to sink. When Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, Depart from me; for I am a sinful man, O Lord. For he was astonished…at the draught of the fishes which they had taken: And so was also James, and John, the sons of Zebedee, which were partners with Simon. And Jesus said unto Simon,Fear not; from henceforth thou shalt catch men. And…they forsook all, and followed him.

To grow in grace we have to be born again. First we have to recognize we’re a sinner and ask God to forgive us, then we have to forsake everything. There was a section of nursing school in 1951 when nurses visited a State psychiatric hospital with a room of 50 babies that had never grown because they lacked a growth hormone. There were 10 year old, 40 year old, and 51 year old babies that had never grown. They were clothed, fed, bathed, and cared for at the hospital. The 51 year old had wrinkles like an old man but they would never grow and always be a baby. The families could take care of them but had chosen not to. They cried when they were hungry or uncomfortable but never grew. God doesn’t want us to be that way but wants us to grow in grace. We need to want to be more than what we start out as. When Peter got saved, his actions were impulsive and strong willed, but God chose him and called him a stone. God molded Peter into a great evangelist but he didn’t start that way. Jesus strongly rebuked Peter saying “get thee behind me Satan” because what Peter said was from Satan. There have been times when what we said was from Satan. Jesus let you know you shouldn’t have said it and needed to apologize. You were impulsive or let your feelings and attitudes rule instead of God’s grace. When we get saved God wants us to change our attitudes. The first attitude we need is to be humble so we see we’re a sinner and need to be saved. We’ll never grow in grace if we don’t humble ourselves and stay humble.

Quote from anonymous writer: “The longer I live the more I realize the impact of attitude in life. Attitude to me is more important than facts, more important than the past, than education, than money, than circumstances, than failures, than successes, than what other people think, say or do; It is more important than appearance, giftedness, or skill; It will make or break a company, a church, a home. The remarkable thing is that we have a choice every day regarding the attitude we will embrace for that day. We have a choice every day regarding the attitude we will embrace for that day. We can’t change the past, we can not change the fact people will act in a certain way, we can not change the inevitable. We can only play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude. I’m convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% how I react to it. So it is with you, we are in charge of our attitudes.”

God only gives grace to the humble. Sometimes we have not acted humble after we got saved. Just because someone does something to you doesn’t mean that you can have a bad atttitude. God wants us to be in charge of our attitude so it  reflects Christ. The apostle Paul had to learn to be content in whatever state he was.

Philippians 4:11-13 Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. I know both how to be abased, and…to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.

If you’re not content whatever the situation is, you need to be careful about your attitude. There will be grumbling, fault finding, and complaining that doesn’t display the attitude God wants if we’re not content in our situations.

Philippians 4:11-13 (amplified) Not that I speak from [any personal] need, for I have learned to be content [and self-sufficient through Christ, satisfied to the point where I am not disturbed or uneasy] regardless of my circumstances. I know how to get along and live humbly [in difficult times], and I also know how to enjoy abundance and live in prosperity. In any and every circumstance I have learned the secret [of facing life], whether well-fed or going hungry, whether having an abundance or being in need. I can do all things [which He has called me to do] through Him who strengthens and empowers me [to fulfill His purpose—I am self-sufficient in Christ’s sufficiency; I am ready for anything and equal to anything through Him who infuses me with inner strength and confident peace.]

Paul was saying God empowers him with the grace of God and strength to be content in every situtation. It’s not in our human strength that we can do it but we need to learn to be content like Paul did. It will affect our atttitude if we’re discontent so it won’t reflect Christ. We need to grow in grace so our attitude reflects Christ. He was full of grace and truth and he never displayed a bad attitude when they mocked him, spit in his face, slapped him and put the crown of thorns on him. His attitude was that he said nothing, but “held his peace” (Matthew 26:62-63). He wasn’t defending himself or berating them. He wasn’t discontent but was willing to go through what he had to with a good attitude. We need to be willing to go through things with a good attitude by God’s grace. We won’t have a good attitude if we don’t ask for grace to go through things. If we don’t ask for grace, it’s because we’re trying to do it on our own. Paul was saying he couldn’t do it on his own but through Christ’s strength. Paul prayed 3 times that God would take away a thorn in his flesh. He changed his thinking so that he was going to glory in the trial. When we have to stay in a trial, our attitude has to change from “get me out of this trial” to “Lord please help me to glorify you in the trial no matter how long it is.”

II Corinthians 12:7-10 And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure. For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me. And he said…My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.

It was more important for Paul to have the grace and power on him, than what his feelings were about the trial. We’re a more effective witness for God when we’re filled with his grace and have a right attitude through our trials. We’ll never get anybody saved if we’re complaining and wishing we were out of our trial. We have to learn to take pleasure in our trials. None of us like infirmities or reproaches – people coming against us. Paul had needs: was put in prison, in shackles, in mire in a dungeon. We don’t see him complaining. We think a lot of our bodies and sometimes put up a fuss when our body doesn’t get what it needs. God is saying to crucify the flesh and put more confidence in the grace of God to be an active testimony to the world. It was the grace of God that allowed Paul to do it. We need to ask for more grace if we’re not gladly glorying in these circumstances so God receives glory. We all have situations we face and we’re all different from each other, but God’s grace is sufficient for every need. We need to come boldly to the throne for the help we need.

Hebrews 4:15-16 For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.

God gives grace so we can have victory, joy in our heart, and confidence that God will take us through. Peter was outspoken, impulsive, and didn’t do things the way Christ wanted him to, but every time Jesus came to get him back on track. Jesus only took James, John and Peter up to the mount where he was transfigured. When Jairus daughter that died was to be healed, Jesus only took James, John and Peter. He took Peter, James, and John when he went to Gethsemane.  They fell asleep when he went to pray. When the soldiers came, Peter drew his sword and cut off the high priest’s servant’s ear. Jesus said put up your sword, they that live by the sword will die by the sword. He didn’t say, Peter you’re the worst sinner and I’ve been working with you three years so how come you’re doing this now? When Peter had denied Christ, Jesus turned to look directly at Peter. It was the only rebuke he needed because he went and wept bitterly in repentance.

Luke 22:60-62 And Peter said, Man, I know not what thou sayest. And immediately, while he yet spake, the cock crew. And the Lord turned, and looked upon Peter. And Peter remembered…how he had said unto him,Before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice. And Peter went out, and wept bitterly.

When the angel spoke to the women at the tomb, he specifically said to go tell the disciples and Peter that Jesus had risen. It was specific to encourage Peter to come. On the day of pentecost Peter was the one that got up and preached. God had done some smoothing off of his stone. He didn’t cast Peter off because of his inconsistencies. God wanted him to grow and get off the rough edges. There were 3000 people saved the day of pentecost when Peter preached. Peter preached to the Sanhedrin counsel and they threw him in prison. Peter was the one that saw the vision of a sheet coming down with all kinds of animals and a voice saying to kill and eat. He then went to Cornelius and preached to the Gentiles. When Samaria heard the word by Philip, John and Peter went to pray for them to receive the Holy Spirit. Peter was God’s chosen vessel and he was married. James was married and had four children.  After being in prison several times in Jerusalem, it is believed that Peter went with his wife to minister to the Jewish colonists in Babylon. That was also probably where he wrote the first epistle of Peter when he was about 60 years old.

Acts 5:18-19 And laid their hands on the apostles, and put them in the common prison. But the angel of the Lord by night opened the prison doors, and brought them forth…

After Peter followed Jesus for 30 years he had learned some things. Peter went to Rome where John Mark served as his translator. When Peter was about to be crucified and saw his wife being led out to die, he rejoiced at her summons and return home – to make it to heaven. He called out to encourage her to remember the Lord. All of us should rejoice when a saint makes it home to heaven. The Lord rejoices, “Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints.” (Psalm 116:15). In his final days Peter was cast into Mamertine prison for 9 months in absolute darkness, enduring torture while he was manacled to a post. In spite of his suffering, Peter converted his jailers, processors, others that waited there plus 47 others. He was 66 years old when he died.  It is through the grace of God that we can rejoice  in trials, tribulations, and whatever happens. You can grow in knowlege without growing in grace. We have to apply what we learn or there’s no grace. We have to check our attitude when we’re in tribulation. We’re in charge of our attitude.

Romans 5:1-5 Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; And patience, experience; and experience, hope: And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost…given unto us.

If we’re not filled with the Holy Spirit, it will be almost impossible to keep a good attitude in tribulation. To keep a good attitude we need to be in subjection to each other – cooperative, willing to take and follow instructions, not sowing discord.

I Peter 5:5 Likewise, ye younger, submit yourselves unto the elder. Yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble.

After we’ve suffered a while, God will help us be perfect, stablished, strengthened, and settled. We can turn things around from “I don’t like this trial and want out” to “God to help me be content in whatever situation I’m in.” We won’t be settled if we don’t go through hard trials with a good attitude for things that we wouldn’t choose to do. God wants us to be settled so he can depend on us to have a good attitude no matter what we have to go through.

I Peter 5:10 But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you.

 

(Notes from the Mature Class Bible Study, teacher Edith Tolbert)