God, grace, kindness

Day Seven: The Gift of Grace

THE GIFT OF GRACE

When I unwrapped today’s gift, it was almost like coming home…or sitting by a peaceful stream.  Even the vowel “a” has a long, soothing sound to it. But grace is much more than sounds and feelings.

God’s grace refers to the kindness of God toward the undeserving. His mercy focuses on our helplessness or our suffering, but His grace focuses on our unworthiness.

God’s grace is completely opposite to works.  For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast. (Eph. 2:8-9) We cannot “earn” our way into heaven by doing good works. We cannot “earn” blessings by doing good works. Salvation is given to us freely because of the grace of God.

As with the other wonderful characteristics of God, His grace is boundless and never ends. But where sin increased and abounded, grace (God’s unmerited favor) has surpassed it and increased the more and super abounded, (Romans 5:20, Amplified). The amount of God’s grace far exceeds the depth of our sin.

God’s grace works in us to help us grow to spiritual completeness and maturity. “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, establish, strengthen and settle you. (I Peter 5:10)

My grandfather, Papa Evans, set the bar high for his children when it came to living a Christian life. Even though he died when I was ten years old, he was a great influence on my young life. His favorite hymn talked about the “marvelous grace…that exceeds our sin.” Below are the lyrics. May you be blessed with God’s grace as you read these lyrics and may you pay His grace forward to everyone you meet.

Grace Greater Than Sin

Marvelous grace of our loving Lord,
Grace that exceeds our sin and our guilt!
Yonder on Calvary’s mount outpoured,
There where the blood of the Lamb was spilled.

Refrain

Grace, grace, God’s grace,
Grace that will pardon and cleanse within;
Grace, grace, God’s grace,
Grace that is greater than all our sin.

Sin and despair, like the sea waves cold,
Threaten the soul with infinite loss;
Grace that is greater, yes, grace untold,
Points to the refuge, the mighty cross.

Refrain

Dark is the stain that we cannot hide.
What can avail to wash it away?
Look! There is flowing a crimson tide,
Brighter than snow you may be today.

Refrain

Marvelous, infinite, matchless grace,
Freely bestowed on all who believe!
You that are longing to see His face,
Will you this moment His grace receive?

Refrain

*Words: Julia H. Johnston, in Hymns Tried and True (Chi­ca­go, Il­li­nois: The Bi­ble In­sti­tute Col­port­age As­so­ci­a­tion, 1911), num­ber 2.

Abba Father, Today, I thank you for my Papa Evans who, because of the way he lived his life and the example he set, raised all of his children to live for you. And because of that, his grandchildren know you, too. Thank You for Your grace. Thank you Father that You give us Your grace so that we may have grace towards others. AMEN.

God, mercy

Day Six: The Gift of Mercy

The Gift of His Mercy

Our God is a God of mercy and it is a recurring theme in the Bible. The Psalmist David mentions mercy at least 27 times and the majority of those times, he is asking God to show him mercy. One of the more familiar occasions when David prays for mercy is after Nathan has confronted him regarding the adultery he committed with Bathsheba. David cried out to God, “Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions.” (Psalm 51:1 NKJV) Did God extend mercy to David?  Of course He did. He extends the same mercy to you and to me when we ask for it.

Not only does God extend His mercy towards us, but He also wants us to extend mercy to others. “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.” (Matt. 5:7) This verse is based on the sowing and reaping principle found in Galatians 6:7bA man reaps what he sows.” Therefore, it stands to reason that if we sow mercy, we will reap mercy.

What is mercy?  Dictionary.com says it is “compassionate or kindly forbearance shown toward an offender, an enemy, or other person in one’s power; compassion, pity, or benevolence.”

I’d like to take the definition even further and say that mercy is the opposite of judgment. God should have judged us for our sins and found us guilty. Rather, He showed mercy to us and pardoned us from that judgment by having Jesus die on the cross for us and for our salvation. He gives mercy to us all the time. Just think about a typical day in your life. What happened? How many times do you now see where God extended mercy to you?

In the same way that God did not judge us, we are not to judge others.   Do not judge, or you too will be judged.” The message doesn’t get much clearer than that. If we judge someone, we will be judged. But as we saw earlier, Matthew 5:7 tells us if we are merciful, then God will show us mercy. I don’t know about you, but I’d much prefer mercy.

Father God, thank you for your mercy. Thank you for extending your mercy to me when You should have been judged me. Forgive me for those times I have judged others rather than extending mercy. Help me to always extend mercy to everyone I come into contact with every day. AMEN
God, plans, vision

Day Two: The Gift of Vision

The Gift of Vision

 “Write the vision and make it plain on tablets; that he may run who reads it.” Habakkuk 2:2 (NKJV)

Another translation of this verse says it this way: “Write my answer on a billboard, large and clear, so that anyone can read it at a glance and rush to tell the others.”(The Message)

This verse makes it very plain that God has a vision, not just for the Body of Christ, but also for you and me.  If this verse is not proof enough to persuade you, here’s another one that is more specific in meaning: “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (Jer. 29:11) If there has ever been any doubt in your mind as to whether or not God has a plan for your life, you can banish that doubt now.

God gave Mary a vision – she was to be the mother of the Savior of the world. Put yourself in her place. Just imagine how she felt. Awestruck? Afraid? Nervous?  Can you see this young teenager in your mind? What would you do if an angel of the Lord appeared before you to give you God’s vision and plans for you? Would you agree? Or would you look around the room to see who the angel was speaking to because, surely, it’s not you. But it is you. You are the only one in the room. He loves you enough to want only the best for you.

 When Mary questioned the angel who brought the news, she was not doubting—just curious. “How can this be, since I do not know a man?” (Luke 1:34). The angel explained to Mary that it would be by the Holy Spirit and went on to say, “For with God, nothing is impossible.” (vs. 37). Mary accepted God’s vision for herself: “Behold the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be done unto me according to your word.” (vs. 38) She never doubted, never questioned whether or not the angel had visited the right person. She believed and moved forward in the vision.

God gave Jesus a vision. He was to be the Savior of the world. He was to live on earth as God-made-man for 33 years, die on a cross for the sins of the world and rise again in three days. Jesus didn’t balk, protest or do anything that would have indicated a lack of obedience. He went willingly into cities and countries preaching the gospel of Christ. He went willingly to Gethsemane. He went willingly to Golgotha and He went willingly to the grave. But God’s vision for Jesus did not end at the grave. Three days later, the vision continued as Jesus rose from the grave, triumphing over death, and the vision was completed as Jesus ascended into heaven.

God has a vision for YOU.  If He has shown you that vision, be obedient and walk in it. If He has not shown you the plans He has for you, ask Him to share it with you. In His time, He will show you His vision and it will be better than anything you could ever ask for or think.

Abba Father, thank You for the vision – the plan – that You had for Mary and for Jesus. Thank You for the vision You have for each one of us. I pray that You will give us courage and help us to walk boldly in that vision with confidence in You and Your plan for our lives. Amen!

attack, God, test

A Test or An Attack?

“Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” Matt. 11:29-30

I believe the Word of God. I believe it is all true. But I must confess that over the last few days I’ve questioned the above scripture. Maybe God has been testing my limits and if that’s the case, I’ve flunked the course.

If you read the previous blog I posted, you will remember that April has been a challenging month for my family. Please allow me to summarize:

1. On April 5, my daughter, Kim, had carpel tunnel surgery on her left hand. She is left handed so this was not only painful, but also very inconvenient for her.

2. On April 13, my sister had a total knee replacement surgery. On that same day, I had an attack of vertigo that was severe enough to keep me home, unable to do much of anything, for ten days.

3. On Monday, April 19, around 5:00 PM, my dad called and needed someone to take him to the ER. Because I was still having vertigo, my daughter drove him and my mom to the ER. Almost 10 hours later, in the wee hours of Tuesday morning, they were back home.

4. I made it back to work on Wednesday, April 21, but at 5:30 Thursday morning, my phone rang and it was my mom. My dad was in so much back pain that I could hear him yelling over the phone. I threw on some clothes, made it to their house in record time and called the paramedics. This time, he was admitted to the hospital (as he should have been on
Monday) and has been hospitalized ever since. (The doctor just came in and daddy is going home today!)

5. On April 26, Kim had carpel tunnel surgery on her right hand and I was not able to be with her because I was at the hospital with my mom and dad. (FYI: My mom will not let my dad be “by himself” at the hospital anymore than she has to. I’ve been staying with her at night and we leave every morning by 7:15 headed for the hospital and we don’t leave to go back home until around 6:30 – 7:00 at night.)

6. On Friday, April 30, I dropped my mom off at the hospital, went grocery shopping for my parents, went by their house, put the groceries up and was returning to the hospital when I was in a car wreck. It was my fault – I did not see a car coming and pulled out in front of the car. I was driving my dad’s car and her car broadsided me. Neither the other driver or myself were seriously injured – bruised and banged up and still sore. My dad’s car is a mess. The driver’s door and passenger door were completely pushed in. I’ve not heard from the insurance company, so we don’t know what will happen in that regard. My sweet husband said that “maybe this is a good time to ‘take the car away.’” After all, my dad will be 86 in August.

So what’s going on here? Has the month of April been a test from God? Or an attack of the enemy? I would appreciate your thoughts and opinions because if this is a test from God, I need to repent for flunking. And if this is an attack of the enemy, I need to tighten up the armor. Or maybe I’ll just do both!

faith, God, life

Faithfulness: The Testimony of Tiffany Colter

Many times, we do not realize how blessed we are. Life is not easy and all families go through difficulties at one time or another. Our spouse gets sick. Or we lose our job. Our parents grow older, feeble and frail and we are faced with decisions that must be made regarding the remaining years they have here on earth. A child becomes seriously ill. Everyone struggles, even Christians. But it seems to me that some peoples’ struggles are far more challenging and last much longer than other people’s struggles. That applies to my special guest blogger today, Tiffany Colter. Tiffany’s family has gone through so much in these last few years. But rather than give up, Tiffany and her husband “dug their heels in” and depended on God to see them through.

The link to Tiffany’s testimony is here:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DXkBbvl-0bc

If you don’t accomplish anything else today, take the time to listen to Tiffany’s testimony. I promise you will be moved and you will be grateful for God’s blessings on your life and the life of your family.

Please contact Tiffany at: http://www.writingcareercoach.com/ and share with her how her testimony has increased your faith!