Embrace Grace Bible Study: Embrace Grace

26 Comments | Posted on 02/20/13 | Categories: Bible Study: Embrace Grace, Blog

Embrace Grace Bible Study | Liz Curtis Higgs

What’s the one present we always keep, even as we gladly pass it on?

God’s extravagant gift of grace.

As if his grace isn’t enough (and truly, it is), the Lord also bestows very particular gifts on each one of his children.

Gifts we are meant to use. Gifts we are meant to share.

The Gift of Grace

Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms. 1 Peter 4:10

Rest assured, “each of you has been blessed with one of God’s many wonderful gifts” (CEV). Not just some believers—all believers receive “a particular spiritual talent, a gracious divine endowment” (AMP).

Whether it’s serving or teaching, encouraging or leading, showing mercy or giving generously, when we exercise those gifts, we become “faithful dispensers of the magnificently varied grace of God” (PHILLIPS).

The words grace and gift are one and the same.

Charis in Greek. Love in any language.

Embrace Grace with Both Hands

You and I have spent the last seven Wednesdays learning how to embrace grace. This week we’ll learn how to give it away. Even when it’s hard. Even when we’d rather hold that precious gift tight against our chests.

Because of grace we can say, “God loves you, and I love you.”

Because of grace we can say, “I forgive you, just as I have been forgiven.”

Because of grace we can do what God calls us to do for one another.

These seven one anothers in Scripture offer a good finishing point for our study, and a fine starting place for embracing The Forgiven Life.

1. “Honor one another above yourselves” (Romans 12:10).
We’re not just talking about “showing respect” (CJB) to other believers; we’re talking about “putting them first” (VOICE). Ahead of us. Above us.

Easy to say, yet often hard to do—at least, for this girl. Any “willingness to let the other man have the credit” (PHILLIPS) would have to come from God. And that’s the point. This isn’t a New Testament version of the Ten Commandments, a thou-must-do list. This is a look-what-God-can-do-through-us list.

Only by his power can we embrace humility. Only by his strength can we “practice playing second fiddle” (MSG).

Violin and Music

2. “Live in harmony with one another” (Romans 12:16).
Sounds simple enough, doesn’t it? “Be of the same mind” (ASV), “agree with each other” (NIRV), and “live together in peace” (ERV).

A life without drama, without arguments, without slamming doors or raised voices. If we want that life, we need to go first. Like that song we sang in high school glee club, “Let there be peace on earth, and let it begin with me.”

3. “Accept one another” (Romans 15:7).
When you buy an item from the sale table marked “As Is,” you know there’s a flaw somewhere, and agree to overlook it without complaint. That’s what it means to “receive one other” (NET), to “treat each other as…welcome guests” (OJB).

If we could do this in our homes, that would be game-changing enough. If we could also do this in our churches, then every Sunday would be a family reunion, filled with hugs and shining faces and heartfelt good wishes.

Sharing Hot Chocolate

4. “Be kind and compassionate to one another” (Ephesians 4:32).
Sweet, isn’t it? Yet as lovely as these descriptive words are—“tenderhearted” (AMP), “merciful” (CEV), “sympathetic” (GW), “understanding” (WE)—what it really comes down to is forgiveness.

It’s more than shared cups of hot chocolate and thank-you notes tucked in purses. It’s rubber-meets-the-road Christianity. “Forgive one another as quickly and thoroughly as God in Christ forgave you” (MSG).

When it comes to forgiveness, Jesus isn’t simply our example: he’s the One who makes it possible.

5. “Encourage one another and build each other up” (1 Thessalonians 5:11).
There are other ways to phrase it—“exhort” (ASV), “comfort” (KJV),“cheer” (NIRV)—but it’s hard to beat the word encourage. Hidden inside it is the Greek word, kardia, usually translated “heart.”

We fill each others’ hearts, we build up rather than tear down, we look for ways to brighten rather than diminish. Thumper’s father taught him, “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say nothing at all.”

But God says, “Go ahead. Say something nice.”

Spurs on Boots

6. “Spur one another on toward love and good deeds” (Hebrews 10:24).
Some sharp points on those spurs, Cowboy. Just the thing to wear, if we’re going to “provoke” (GNV), “motivate” (CEB), and “incite” (AMP) each other to keep busy with “noble activities” (AMP).

It’s easy to stay home, to chill out, to seek our own pleasure. God calls and equips us to do more. To get out there, to help others, to “show love and do good deeds” (EXB). At the end of the day, it’s meeting the needs of others that satisfies us most.

7. “Love one another deeply, from the heart” (1 Peter 1:22).
That’s the sum of it: love your brothers and sisters in Christ. Do it “fervently” (ASV) and “earnestly” (CEB), from a “pure heart” (AMP).

The same way we love our family? Yes. In fact, “Love one another as if your lives depended on it” (MSG).

I confess, studying these one anothers has pierced my heart.

If God loves us—and he does—then let’s tell everyone, “God loves you.”

If God shows mercy to us—and he does—then let’s show others what his mercy looks like.

By all means, embrace grace, beloved. Then throw open your arms and give it away. knowing it’s God’s grace, pouring through you. You will never run out. You will always have more than enough.

Now, it’s your turn:

  • What elements of your past—whether sordid or solid—might God use to reach the hearts of other women?

This is one of the many things I love about God. He uses it all: the good, the bad, the ugly. As each year goes by he brings to mind memories I’ve hidden away, scenes I’ve tried to forget. By bringing them out into the light of day, they are no longer weapons the enemy can use against me; rather, they’re tools God can use for his good purposes.

  • If you grew up in a Christian home, how has that shaped you? And if you did not grow up in a Christian home, how has that shaped you?

I grew up in a home where church was a one-hour activity, rather than a 24/7 reality. Still, I’m grateful for that weekly dose of Good News. Those seeds were planted in the fertile soil of this child’s heart, then watered by a loving and patient God, who knew the day would finally come when those seeds would sprout.

  • Are your arms open wide, and your heart as well? If so, you’re ready to help others embrace grace!

That’s been the prayer of my heart and the purpose of this study. You alone know what God has taught you. Bless those who’ve shared their discoveries here. As we look toward Easter, may you always know the truth…

You are loved. All is forgiven.

Your sister, Liz

Beginning next Wednesday…

The Women of Easter with Liz Curtis Higgs

P.S. If you’ve read the book, Embrace Grace, I’d be grateful if you popped on Amazon.com, ChristianBook.com, and/ or BarnesandNoble.com and offered a brief review. Your words will help other readers decide if Embrace Grace is the resource for them. God bless you for doing so!

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    26 thoughts on “Embrace Grace Bible Study: Embrace Grace

    1. I think growing up in a christian home has made me what I am today. I am told by a lot of people I am a great encourager. When someone is down I try to pick them up. I fully enjoyed the lesson today. I have not read the book yet Embrace Grace but i sure want to. I will watch for it. God Bless you!

      Diana

    2. This is my second time through this book. The comments and bible study make it come alive for me. I still struggle with self-forgiveness, but am making progress. This helps a lot. Liz, thank you so much for your insights and love of God that you share with all of us. May God continue to bless you. Please know that I share each post in your bible studies with my Facebook community.

    3. I’m challenged by the list of “one anothers”! I think this list would make a great book/Bible study! Thanks again Liz for sharing your heart with us! I’m looking forward to The Women of Easter!

    4. What elements of your past—whether sordid or solid—might God use to reach the hearts of other women? When I discovered my husband had been in a series of affairs, I confronted one woman, and for a time, maintained a semblance of a friendship. She was not a Christian, and I tried to witness to her. I felt it was the right thing to do. But in the end, I had to rid myself of that relationship because it kept me in so much pain I could barely function. Forgiveness is necessary if we are to survive and thrive in God’s grace. However, when it is offered (I offered it to my husband even after the discovery of multiple affairs) and rejected…it’s really out of our hands and we have to let go. To hang onto or try to hang onto those situations in life is deadly emotionally and spiritually. To share this lesson with others is painful but has been helpful to me and others.

      • Kim, I applaud you for going above and beyond to extend mercy in such a difficult situation. You are right: we cannot control how people will respond to forgiveness when it’s offered. And you are also wise to let go when the pain became too great. Bless you for sharing your journey with others and with us.

    5. When I was much younger I went on “the speakers circuit” giving motivational speeches to the agricultural community. I loved speaking before groups and sharing my love of farming with them. Little did I know that at the ripe age of 68 I am now pastor of a beautiful congregation in a rural community, sharing my love of Christ. The pay is less, the work is harder, but the rewards are heavenly. God’s grace brought me here and I am blessed!

    6. Growing up in a Christian home, I’ve learned generosity from my father. There are three letters asking for support on my nightstand waiting for me to return them with checks, prayers and love. We praise God for them. I wish I did more than write checks. I used to be able to do more. My daughter is 15 months old. She is my excuse. It’s more than that though, I really feel like I should be her mommy first. It’s probably time that she saw her mom share this gift of grace.

    7. Well, Liz, through you, God has done it again — got my attention as to how much I needed the lesson this morning – one I know all too well, but at times choose to ignore. I’ve been struggling with judging people, even friends, who operate differently than I do. At times pro-active people working for the same thing, but using different methods of operation, bump heads! I’ve even questioned “motives”. Who am I to do that? — no one!

      If I listen to what I know Jesus would want me to do, think and say, I will refrain from judging, but giving the same grace He gives to me over and over again. — Not by my own strength, but by the power Christ gives.

      You have encouraged me, Liz, because even though you accepted Christ and have served Him wonderfully many years now, you admit that you have moments when it isn’t easy for you to be the Liz He wants you to be. Thanks for being able to admit that. It helps me a lot. “Embrace Grace” had a huge impact on my life. I look forward to your next study. Love, in Christ, Jan

      • Bless you, Jan. I’m definitely still a work in progress! Today (2/21) is my 31st birthday in the Lord. How patient the Lord is with us! Meanwhile, I’m still clinging to the first verse I memorized all those years ago: “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old things passed away, behold, new things have come.” 2 Cor 5:17

    8. ■ What elements of your past—whether sordid or solid—might God use to reach the hearts of other women? — I know that there are probably many things that I have buried in my past that could help others. God’s grace has been so thorough, though, that most of them I’ve even forgotten!
      ■ If you grew up in a Christian home, how has that shaped you? And if you did not grow up in a Christian home, how has that shaped you? — Like you, Liz, I had the one hour a week ‘church’. But I did have honesty and love throughout my growing up years that still echo through who I am today.
      ■ Are your arms open wide, and your heart as well? If so, you’re ready to help others embrace grace! — Ready and willing to help others see and embrace the forgiven life!

    9. Thank you, Liz. My Bible study group finished “The Girl’s still Got It” and enjoyed that study very much. We then moved on to your study on “Embrace Grace”. We are thoroughly enjoying each week of study. At the end of the first lesson, I felt it appropriate to sing the Doxology but added the Ta-Da! at the end. We have since adopted that for the close of each session and feel very good when leaving church to head for home. Last night, we had a very good discussion after reading the story of the woman who had the faith to touch Jesus garment to heal her bleeding. Another good lesson to enjoy the Doxology with Ta-Da! Thanks again for all of your efforts to help up through the Bible and to move to a closer relationship with God..bless you.

    10. I also grew up in a Christian home. However, the spiritual journey is a life long one and ever so often, things that I know I learned as a small child in Sunday School truly come to life for me in a real way. Some bible verse suddenly means something new or I have a new and fresh understanding of grace, patience, or any of the meaningful things we learn as a child growing up with Christ. I even today am in a bible study where we are actually studying grace and I am learning some new insights to what it means to have God’s grace in my life. Amen and Amen..

    11. Amen, amen, amen and amen! Live in harmony, accept one another, overlook flaws, Gods word tells us to behave this way. Sometimes it is easy other times it is very difficult.

      I have discovered that no matter what your upbringing christian or not, people CHOOSE to be nice or mean. A lot of their decisions are based on what is in it for them.

      Not all (quote unquote) christian homes are that great nor non christian homes that bad. Once we realize that no matter what our back ground is and that we are all sinners saved by GRACE , then we should be able to live in harmony, accept one another and overlook flaws.

      Lord Jesus help me to make the right choices.

    12. As a child I was encouraged to attend church with my siblings, but my parents did not attend. They too had attended church when they were young. I found the Lord during VBS when I was seven and later when I was 11 I recommitted my life and was formally baptised as a believer. My parents sent my oldest brother and I to a Christian college and my dad worked two jobs in order to do so and my brother and I had work-loan scholarships. My folks always encouraged us to “do right” and “think of those that come behind you”, was that Christian? However we get there, we all come to the point when we must decide, as you mention in the book: “We’re either on the plane or we’re not. We can rest in knowing that God purchased our tickets before the plane was built, charted the flight plan to our final destination, and is sitting in the pilot’s seat!” I don’t need to worry that the plane will crash, or be late…or that I’m taking up too much room on the plane, my destination awaits, because I made the choice! The Gospel is so simple and yet we try to make it so difficult to understand! God is in control, we just have to accept Him and let Him take control! Thanks again, Liz, and I’ll plan to continue this journey with you,

    13. I love this post. I have greatly and truly enjoyed reading this book in it’s entirety for the first time. I even laughed out loud when I saw Colossians 3:13 towards the end of the Chapter, because the memory verses I have committed to memorizing this week are Colossians 3:12-13. “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Bear with each another and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.” Today’s post speaks right to my heart and I fill flooded with His Grace and Hope. Thank you again for this wonderful study!

    14. Thank you, Thank you, Thank you!

      I so desperately needed this, at such a time as this….
      God brought me to you and this study to help free me, free me to embrace the grace that He is embellishing upon me and I am now free to partake.
      I have been feeling so unworthy, so guilty, so….. disgraced.
      Thank you for sharing Jesus with me, to open my heart to HIS grace, His love, and His forgiveness.
      Thank you for all the sisters on the blog and the weekly encouragement.

      I want you to know that I have started counseling, I will get this worked out.
      Praisin’ Jesus for Liz Curtis Higgs and His work through you!

      Brandi

      • Brandi, I am THRILLED to hear that you are seeing a counselor. Good for you, beloved. (Actually, I think everyone on the planet ought to have six months of counseling. Truly!) It’s a wise investment of time and resources. I’ll be praying that the time will be productive and meaningful and God-honoring. So proud of you!

    15. My mum and dad were Christian missionaries whose faith is/was the core of who they are/were. Not perfect, but without hypocrisy, their lives and conversation were permeated with a desire to follow Christ. Perhaps most significantly, one evening when I was seven years old I had some questions for mum, about something my godly Sunday School teacher had said earlier in the day. She led me to Jesus response to Martha – believing that Jesus was the Resurrection and Life as the place where assurance of eternal salvation was to be found. Dad has been with the Lord long years now, but at 88 years, mum’s prayers for each of us, are part of her early morning devotional life, and they are for faithfulness for those in the Way, and repentance leading to faith for the prodigals. I have a blessed Christian heritage – a gift of grace. My sense of the important role parents play in spiritual formation of children has clearly been influenced by my upbringing – it is a place of connection with others… though what I have found to be more significant in reaching out to other women is opening up to the excruciating sorrows that have come my way in more recent years – women who long to know how to walk the way of grace in the messes of life.

    16. Grew up in a home of violence, fear and misery. We attended small fundamental churches where legalism was the name of the game. We heard “I love you” a lot” but it just confused us. If that is love, no thank you.
      Some where along the line, I found that I loved God but right up to adulthood knew without a doubt that I was dirty and unlovable. I settled for scraps of affection, I was starving. But through all my mistakes, God patiently and diligently revealed that all I had been taught and believed was wrong. He took my brokenness and healed me. I wouldn’t go back and change a thing. For if you have been broken, you understand the pain and confusion of others. It opens your heart and He opens doors to serve. No matter our unique start, He takes it and uses it to our advantage and His glory,,,,grace.

    17. I wopuld like to thankyou for your blog. You make me cry and give me ‘a push in the right direction’, most of the time. I have read ‘Embrace Grace’ and I just bawled at the dedication page for ages. You blew me away, as you always do. I have told my friends about your amazing ‘blog’ and how they really would find a place of comfort there. I need to read more of your books.

    18. I did not grow up in a Christian home. My sweet father was always so kind and loving and generous, though, and I always wanted to be the same. When my dad died, I just couldn’t get it together. My mom is an alcoholic and has never showed much maternal love. I was so deep into depression and was beginning to have a drinking problem of my own. One day I got the idea to go to a church. I picked a local one that looked nice enough and my life has slowly changed over the past two years. I was ashamed at first that I knew nothing about Jesus or the Bible or any of it. But I’ve immersed myself and have made such progress. There is not a chance that I will raise my daughter or any future children the same way I was raised. I want her to know all about Jesus. The family is changing with me. I’ve thought lately that I’d like to find a way to reach out to lost kids. Because I was so lost for so long and it was so very sad.

    19. I cried when you ended with..,,You are loved. All is forgiven. I too have had memories of the past fading in to my mind. It was Like God was speaking to me when I read your words. Thank you.

    20. I am so late in responding this week, some of it had to do with thinking long and hard about the truths that spoke to me this week about forgiveness. It is a struggle, and I am that person who can judge so quickly. I am going to write those seven scriptures down in my journal so that they are easy to see and turn too. If I start writing those on my heart and on my lips, I know God will use them to change my pattern of unforgiveness for others and myself. Thank you Liz. This study has helped me see things I didn’t see the first time I read the book. Looking forward to a new study.

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