Day 18 – The Reason You’re Not Growing

If you’ve read the New Testament, you know that grace is a key element to living the way God calls us to live. Here are just a few key verses to that end:

For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age…” (Titus 2:1–11, NIV)

“But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’” (2 Corinthians 12:9, NIV)

“For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.” (Romans 6:14, ESV)

“You then, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.” (2 Timothy 2:1 NIV)

Grace is clearly connected to living the life God has called us to live. On one hand, we are clearly saved by grace. Passages Like Ephesians 2 make this absolutely clear. But passages like the ones you’ve just read above seem to point to the reality that grace is not just God’s forgiveness. It’s His empowerment. It’s an impartation of His divine ability to us that allows us to do what we cannot do in our own strength. It’s His power at work in us. 

The question that naturally follows is this. If grace is God’s power at work in our lives, how does it work? How do we tap into it?

2 Peter 1 gives us some profound insight into this. In this passage, we read:

“May grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord. His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire. For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For whoever lacks these qualities is so nearsighted that he is blind, having forgotten that he was cleansed from his former sins.” (2 Peter 1:2–9, ESV)

In this passage, we see from the get go that grace is God’s divine power and that God has made us partakers of His divine nature. After telling us this, Peter goes on to tell us that “for this reason” we are to make every effort to supplement our faith with a laundry list of qualities that mark our maturity and growth as followers of Christ. But then he makes a shocking statement. He says:

“For whoever lacks these qualities is so nearsighted that he is blind, having forgotten that he was cleansed from his former sins.” (2 Peter 1:9, ESV)

There’s something so powerful here if we can just catch it. According to Peter, the reason people fail to grow in godliness is because they have forgotten they’ve been cleansed from their sins. Or in other words, they’ve forgotten grace. 

Now Peter is clearly not opposed to effort. Toward the beginning of this passage, he urges us to “make every effort.” Effort is a critical component of living a godly life—we don’t just stumble into living the way God calls us to. It involves a large amount of intentionality. But Peter also gives us the source of our problem if we find that our efforts are not working. He says it’s because we’ve forgotten grace—forgotten that we are washed and clean. 

Here’s the key idea you should walk away from today with. The motivation behind your effort matters. We don’t strive for godliness in order to earn our acceptance and forgiveness from God. We strive for godliness because God has already forgiven us and made us clean. When we get a revelation that no matter what we’ve done and no matter how many times we’ve fallen short, God in His mercy and grace has cleansed us from our sin and made us clean, it does not motivate us to go live in sin. It spurs us on to live godly lives. 

If you are struggling to live clean, it may just come down to this one thing — are you taking time to remember what Christ has done for you, the forgiveness that He has so graciously given you, and are you letting that be the motivation for your effort. 

As the Christian philosopher Dallas Willard reminds us, “Grace is not opposed to effort. It is opposed to earning.”

You can’t earn God’s grace. It is a free gift. But when we’ve rightly understood how beautiful the grace that God has given us is, we will not only make every effort to live a godly life—we will tap into the power to do it. 


Day 18 Freedom Work

Scripture Reading — Read 2 Peter 1 several times slowly, especially verses 1–15. Take your time and do not rush through it. 

Journaling Exercises — Answer the following questions at length in your journal. Aim to write for about 5 minutes per question:

  • Do you see yourself as washed and cleansed from your sins, or as dirty and shameful? Be completely honest here. 
  • What reason does this passage give for why people struggle to live godly lives? Could this be the reason you struggle at times?
  • Despite how you may feel at times, write down a prayer thanking God for washing you from your sin and for forgiving the wrongs you have committed. Do this even if it is a struggle for you. Then pray it out loud and ask God to help you believe He could be this good to you. 

Prayer — Father, thank you that you love me as much on my worst day as you do on my best day. Thank you that there is absolutely nothing that I can do to earn your love or to earn grace. Thank you that while I was yet a sinner, Christ died for me. Though I may struggle at times, help me to live with an awareness of your grace, resting in the knowledge that you have forgiven all of my sins. Help me to know that I am clean, and let the truth of what you say about me dispel any lies the enemy throws my way. Amen. 

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Dr. Joseph Serwadda's Story

Over the past decade, numerous pastors and leaders from all over the world have been crying out (and even begging us) for discipleship resources in their language. This may sound extreme, but in America we have an abundance of books and resources that are available to us that are often taken for granted. In many ways, we have access to excess.

In some developing nations, people have never seen a book in their language. When leaders from these nations are given a book, they treat it as sacred gift! They even hand-write books and Bibles word for word so that they can spread this message of hope to others in their sphere of influence.

Dr. Joseph Serwadda, a leader from Uganda who oversees a group of churches that number approximately 27,000, echoes this need among pastors and leaders all over the world: “Our biggest need is not money or bigger buildings, but solid teaching. We lack literature for people to read and study on their own. The more people we have in church who are less instructed in the Word of God, the less solidity we have. Come and help us preserve the harvest. This is a Macedonian call!”

Pastor Yassir's Story

Over the years, Cubans have long suffered under the oppression of a single message: communism. Despite this challenge, Yassir is committed to sharing a new message with his people, a message of transformation that can lead to national revival.

Cubans, in general, have been conditioned toward communistic consumption. That’s why Yassir wants his people to embrace a new identity: a life defined by what they can give. This shift requires growth and maturity that can only come through a new perspective.

He explained, “The Cuban church is strong and filled with passion. But I believe it’s important that we shift our mentality. We need to see how the Gospel goes beyond our own needs. Ultimately, we need to take responsibility for ourselves and our nation, and not just wait for outside intervention.”

There aren’t many Christian resources in Cuba. So, Pastor Yassir’s church, along with many other churches throughout Cuba, have been profoundly impacted by the resources Messenger International has provided for them in their own language.

In our conversations with Pastor Yassir, he often cited an ancient proverb: Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you’ve fed him for a lifetime. He sees MessengerX as a tool both to feed his people and teach them to fish.

It’s become evident that after many years in our ministry, the most effective way to transform a village or town is not to construct a church building. This just keeps the local leadership dependent on us.

We are much more effective if we give the indigenous leaders such as Pastor Yassir spiritual knowledge that will empower them to influence their village, town, or city. Such knowledge helps produce the faith needed to grow and sustain the work, which, if necessary, will include buildings and other resources.

Stories like Pastor Yassir’s fuel our mission, because we believe that everyone deserves to know life-transforming truth!

Nura's Story

Before Nura became a follower of Christ, her life was a living hell.
After the death of her husband—from whom she endured many years of abuse and suffering—she became a widow with four children. In search of peace and inner healing, she sought solace in religious places and practices, which only led her deeper into depression and financial debt.

Her last resort was Jesus.

“I came to the Christian church and begged for help! I accepted Christ after I heard of the promise of peace and healing that is found in Him,” Nura wrote. “I slowly began to recover, but there was one thing hindering my healing—unforgiveness.”
Filled with regrets, Nura struggled to forgive her husband. But the grip of offense began to weaken when her pastor handed her a copy of The Bait of Satan.

“I forgave my husband after I learned how much I, too, needed forgiveness,” shared Nura. “Now I am healed, and I have peace for the first time in my life. Some even say I look ten years younger!”


Pastor Raphael's Story

Pastor Raphael was raised in Kenya, immersed in a culture of darkness. As a child, he lacked affection because his father believed that strong men don’t show love. He continually witnessed his father beat and belittle his mother. Everywhere he looked, insidious behavior was practiced toward women and infants—families were being destroyed and lives were ending before they had a chance to begin.

This was the destiny Raphael was headed toward.

But everything changed when truth entered the scene. The first area to be transformed was Raphael’s heart—which, in turn, transformed his marriage and his family. And with a strong and healthy family, his whole outlook toward life has changed.

“Through the resources of Messenger International, a relentless passion was ignited in me to see the people of my country free from lies,” shared Raphael. “I discovered my purpose to train up others and bring God’s transforming truth to remote villages.”

Raphael has trekked miles through mud and rain to reach people, often rising early and returning late. He would travel over 50 miles a day with his bicycle—but through the generosity of the MessengerX community, he was given a motorcycle, which has enabled him to double his efforts while easily transporting the resources and supplies he needs to facilitate his classes. Raphael has seen over 200 of his students graduate in the villages he serves.

“Thank you for investing in my people,” expressed Raphael. “Each day tribal warriors are transformed into children of God, marriages are infused with love, and the innocent are protected. Your generosity has given us the tools we need to rewrite our story and reclaim our humanity.”

Dahlia's Story

Formerly a Muslim, Dahlia fled to Turkey after she was expelled from her Iranian school and excommunicated by her family. Her crime? Becoming a Christian.

You can now find Dahlia in a refugee camp, far from what she once called home. But despite the upheaval, she has found purpose in her pain. On a daily basis, Dahlia walks through her makeshift town and prays over the people. They have become her people—the audience of her message.

Dahlia has become a messenger, and she is often spotted lovingly serving those around her and sharing her faith with them. Despite language barriers, people are drawn to her because they see something different in her. And what’s amazing is that she’s not only reaching the people in her refugee camp, she’s also impacting those she left behind in Iran.

“I’ve had calls from Iran,” writes Dahlia. “People who mocked me because of my faith now believe in Jesus and want to know more. So, I tell them about MessengerX, which has a lot of translated discipleship resources.”

As we continue to provide people like Dahlia with life-transforming truth in their own language, we’re helping them grow in their faith and discover their purpose—and we’re equipping them to make a difference in their world.

“I am beyond thankful for all of the books that I’ve been able to read in my language, such as Driven by Eternity, translated in Farsi,” shared Dahlia. “I read them again and again. The messages keep me company in this lonely season, and they inspire me to reveal Jesus to the hurting people all around me.”