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I Am What I Am -- I Think!
Who are you? Or maybe I should ask, "What are you?" Has anyone ever gotten mad at the way you behaved and you responded to their anger with, "That's just me"? Or maybe at some point in your life you became very frustrated with the way you "turned out" and said, "What have I become?"
This is actually a disillusion that many fall into. Thinking that what they currently see in the mirror is what they are. Maybe you are 40, 50 or even 60 years old, but do you know that God has a greater plan for you. In fact, in Philippians 1:6 we find that God stands ready to fulfill, in you, His purpose until the day of the Lord Jesus. In this article I want you to consider your potential for life that you have probably not yet tapped into.
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The Apostle Paul was a very educated man, which means that he had spent many years learning. He was very active in religious circles of the day and he had forged a life that some would have called a success. We could say that he was on his career path when one day his plans got all messed up on the road to Damascus. It was on this road that Paul (then Saul) found out there was a purpose for his life that he didn't know about previously. It was the purpose that had been laid out before the foundation of the world.
This trip to Damascus set a course for a whole new life. One where the power of God would manifest in mighty ways and where the revelation of the Word would pour into his spirit. What Paul said about this new life that he lived was something that we all need to understand. It is found in 1 Cor 15:10:
"But by the grace of God I am what I am: and his grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I laboured more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me."
The Apostle Paul attributed all that he accomplished to the "grace of God". In my Bible (and probably yours also) grace is defined as the unmerited favor of God. To translate "unmerited favor" would be to say favor that we didn't deserve. While we could all agree that what Jesus did for us we didn't deserve and that it is only by God's goodness that we have anything from heaven, but is this what Paul is talking about?
Favor in current English is a very weak word. I am in favor of every Christian in the world experiencing all that God has for them. I can say that with a truthful heart because I really am in favor of that. But just because I am in favor of this doesn't mean that every person is experiencing God's fullness. I'm in favor of every person in my church experiencing the financial abundance of the Word of God, but even though I am in favor of it there are some who are not experiencing this blessing of God.
Consider 2 Pet 3:9 that tells us, "The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance." We could paraphrase this scripture to say that God is in favor of everyone coming to repentance, but we know not all will accept it.
Therefore, when Paul tells us that he is what he is by the grace of God, I have to conclude that grace is more than just favor. Because what Paul is saying is that what he was able to become, he was only able to become it because of the grace. Let me say it another way. Without the grace he didn't have the means to achieve it.
This tells me something. This tells me that grace had a provisional aspect to it. That grace has an equipping component. It is something that will take you places you are unable to go without it. Notice the second sentence in this scripture where Paul states that this grace was "bestowed upon him". It is apparent that something started to work in his life that was not working before. That is why he said that it wasn't given to him in vain. He used what was given to him for the purpose of taking him where he didn't have the ability to go on his own.
Paul tapped into something that very few Christians tap into. Paul didn't get stuck in his own ability even though he was a very educated, very talented person. This is the clarification he makes in the final portion of this scripture, "I labored more abundantly" but notice he states that it wasn't him that was laboring, it was the grace laboring in him.
God has a plan for your life that is exceedingly abundantly above all you can comprehend. It is a plan that will go well beyond your skill, talent, education, or financial resources. His plan for your life can only be accomplished one way - by His involvement. This is what Paul understood. What he was called to had nothing to do with his capabilities, but his willingness to allow God to do things through him he was incapable of doing.
God has a similar plan for you and for me. Why is it that so few Christians experience all that God has for them? Because they are unwilling to allow the power that is in them to take them places the power has the ability to go. Instead they keep the power limited to their realm of thinking. This is why I wrote the book "Sufficient Grace" with the sub-title of "Living to Your Fullest Potential." God wants to manifest Himself through us that will take us places we never thought possible.
Have you received the grace of God in vain? Anyone who has received God, but has not allowed the power of God to function in their life has received it in vain.
I challenge you to step up to a higher level of living by becoming what the grace of God can cause you to become. How do you do it? By allow the Spirit of God to lead you out and beyond your current conditions. This is the walk of faith, and this is the faith that makes all things possible!