More Grace

I receive morning devotionals every morning from several sources.  One is from a pastor that I’ve known for years and he is the one that married my husband and I, and baptized both of our children.  I enjoy hearing from him every day.

The thought for today included this:

There is an infinite depth in our Lord that can never be exhausted. The excitement continues as the Lord draws us closer to Himself. Continue to read, think, and pray. There is always more grace, truth, and real excitement in walking day by day with Jesus Christ.

Wow, just wow.  This really hit me.  We cannot run out of His Grace, we can always receive more.  There is no “getting there”, we are always moving closer to our Lord.

As usual with me, when I think of things like this, a song came to mind.  Enjoy.

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Extravagant Stewardship

Image result for images of she has done a beautiful thing for me“She has done a beautiful thing to me.  For you will always have the poor with you, and whenever you want, you can do good for them.  But you will not always have me.” Mark 14:7

In this passage of Scripture, an unnamed woman anoints Jesus with the costly ointment called nard.  Many of the people around him complain, finding this to be a waste of money.  After all, couldn’t the nard have been sold and the money given to those in real need?  Jesus rebukes them.  Evidently a grand gesture is sometimes appropriate.  Sometimes we’re called to give a gift simply to show our love for a particular person.  A gift like this is pure grace.

It doesn’t need to be monetary — it might be the gift of forgiving a friend or relative for a great wrong;  it might be giving time to take over a task that is burdening a neighbor;  it might be an act of kindness to a complete stranger.  The point is it’s good to sometimes give what’s unexpected, and  even unnecessary.  After all, doesn’t God give us gifts like this every day?  Don’t we get not just the things we need, but things that make life beautiful, interesting and fun?  God’s grace rains down on us, and we should spread that love and grace around!

“As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of Gods’ varied grace …” 1 Peter 4:10

What are some gifts of grace you’ve received?  I’d love to hear those stories.

Learning Grace: Book Learning #3

We Lutherans are big on grace.  It’s one of the five “solas” of the reformation:  we are saved by grace alone.  If you’re interested in reading a spiritual autobiography about someone who believed in God’s grace in his life, check this one out:  it’s an easy read, I finished in one day..

Brennan Manning was a Catholic priest who left the priesthood to marry;  he eventually divorced;  he was an alcoholic who struggled with his addiction on and off throughout his life.  He made many mistakes.  He was also a writer, speaker, teacher and evangelist who touched many with his spiritual insights.  Throughout everything he continued to believe that God loves us, and extends grace to us, wherever we are in our lives.

“Like Christian, the everyman character in The Pilgrim’s Progress, he progressed not always by making right decisions, but by responding appropriately to wrong ones”

from “All is Grace” by Brennan Manning

I like this quote because isn’t it true of most of the “heroes” of the Bible, David, for instance?  His life was a mess, too.  He committed adultery and murder, among other things.  However, he was also “a man after God’s heart.”  He sinned, but he repented, he never turned away from God, he accepted what came from God’s hand, the good and the bad.  Like all of us, he was saint and sinner.  Just like Brennan Manning.  Just like you and me.

Come To The Table

I have recently been hearing this song on the radio and it strikes a chord deep inside – Remember He came for the sick and sinful – of which I am one. So come join me at His table I look forward to seeing you there.

“Come To The Table”

We all start on the outside
The outside looking in
This is where grace begins
We were hungry, we were thirsty
With nothing left to give
Oh the shape that we were in
Just when all hope seemed lost
Love opened the door for us

He said come to the table
Come join the sinners who have been redeemed
Take your place beside the Savior
Sit down and be set free
Come to the table

Come meet this motley crew of misfits
These liars and these thiefs
There’s no one unwelcome here
So that sin and shame that you brought with you
You can leave it at the door
Let mercy draw you near

Come to the table
Come join the sinners who have been redeemed
Take your place beside the Savior
Sit down and be set free
Come to the table
Come to the table

To the thief and to the doubter
To the hero and the coward
To the prisoner and the soldier
To the young and to the older
All who hunger, all who thirst
All the last and all the first
All the paupers and the princes
All who fail you’ve been forgiven
All who dream and all who suffer
All who loved and lost another
All the chained and all the free
All who follow, all who lead
Anyone who’s been let down
All the lost you have been found
All who have been labeled right or wrong
To everyone who hears this song

Ooh
Come to the table
Come join the sinners you have been redeemed
Take your place beside the Savior
Sit down and be set free
Oooh
Sit down and be set free
Come to the table
Come to the table
Just sit down and rest a while
Just sit down and rest a while
Come to the table

Credit for song to Sidewalk Prophets

Graceful Relationships

Sarah’s post on symbiosis told us that relationships are a two way street.  If we want our relationships to survive and thrive, we have to extend a little grace — that’s a word we Lutherans like to use, which basically means getting something you didn’t earn and don’t deserve.  There are times in every relationship when we have to be willing to put aside our own needs and sacrifice for the other.  There’s a great “how to” section in the 13th chapter of 1 Corinthians.  You’ve probably heard this many times, but have you really thought about it?

“Love is patient and kind”

Am I patient with my friend, even when she forgets my birthday?  Or goes on and on about her favorite topic (which doesn’t interest me)? Am I kind and willing to listen to her problems, even on the days I’m tired and really don’t want to talk at all?

“love is not jealous or boastful.”

Am I sincerely happy for my brother when he gets a promotion while I am struggling financially?  Can I congratulate him without bringing up my latest success?

“it (love) is not arrogant or rude”

Am I respectful and courteous to the people who serve me at the restaurant, the bank, the grocery store?  Do I ask how their day is going?  Or do I ignore them in my rush to get on with my other errands?

“Love does not insist on its own way”

Do I give my husband and children a say in our family life and daily routines?  Or do I expect them to go along with my preferences?

“it (love) is not irritable or resentful”

Am I understanding when my co-worker needs extra time off?  Or do I feel put upon and angry?

“it (love) does not rejoice in the wrong, but rejoices in the right.  Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.”

Do I try to put the best interpretation on the behavior of others?  Am I will to forgive them when they’re wrong and keep encouraging and believing in them?  Or do I give up and walk away?

In all our relationships, the greatest asset is love.  Use it daily.

 

Everything According To God’s Plan & Timing

Good morning everyone! Welcome to today’s blog post on our Ecclesiastes 3 series! If this is your first time joining us please go into our archives and read the other posts for this month. They are awesome! I thank all of our regular readers for following along with this Bible Study series, planted in the words of God through King Solomon! Let’s get going, continuing with verses 14&15…

And I know that whatever God does is final. Nothing can be added to it or taken from it. God’s purpose is that people should fear him. What is happening now has happened before, and what will happen in the future has happened before, because God makes the same things happen over and over again.

This is what I see in these verses…

God’s has the last say and things will happen exactly as He has planned.

Our main objective in life is to fear God… to respect and stand in awe of who He is.

The things that are going on in the world are not new concepts and neither are the things that will happen in the future.

History repeats itself.

Wow, this is mind-blowing! But then if you think about it…is it really? Reflecting on my life, there are things that I experienced that I can clearly see as God’s plan. As hard as they were to be faced with, I know deep in my heart that it was God’s purpose for my life… the things I suffered in my childhood, my mother dying of cancer when I was 16, the year of torment I suffered following her death, meeting my now husband at the end of that year, gaining a new mom in the process (my now mother in law, Mary), having children at a younger age, almost dying giving birth to our younger daughter Kirsten, being advised after her birth that I should not have any more children, the devastating finality of having my tubes tied at age 23, learning to navigate through my marriage and being a parent when I harbored so much anger and mistrust (all at the expense of my family), overcoming addictive habits, being estranged from my father for 9 years.

Then God took hold of my life, at just the right time. He gave me a new life, a new family, made the family I helped create become stronger and more unified, helped to mend the broken relationship between my dad and I, solidified my marriage with Him at the helm, made me a better parent, helped me to grow quality relationships with my daughters, help me to also grow quality relationships with other family and friends.

I couldn’t have done it without looking at the world through my “God goggles”, changing the lens by which I view the world around me. And for that I stand in awe… God leaves me speechless a lot. I can see the intricacies of how He works, how He operates. And sometimes all I can do is just smile.

Now, when I experience life, I am well equipped and those experiences don’t cripple me like they used to. History has repeated itself in my life, all part of God’s plan. But the peace… the strength… the power I have to get through those trials, comes from a mighty God, the love of my Savior, and the guidance of the Holy Spirit. And I continually stand in awe of God… remembering the great works He has done in my life… remembering that I need to look at my trials as great joy, because when my faith is tested, my endurance has a chance to grow… and God says when my endurance grows and is fully developed, I will be perfect, complete, and need nothing else. (James 1:2-4)

And to always stand in awe, just like the Apostle Paul did when he wrote to the church in Ephesus…

God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure. So we praise God for the glorious grace he has poured out on us who belong to his dear Son. He is so rich in kindness and grace that he purchased our freedom with the blood of his Son and forgave our sins. He has showered his kindness on us, along with all wisdom and understanding. God has now revealed to us his mysterious will regarding Christ—which is to fulfill his own good plan. And this is the plan: At the right time he will bring everything together under the authority of Christ—everything in heaven and on earth. Furthermore, because we are united with Christ, we have received an inheritance from God, for he chose us in advance, and he makes everything work out according to his plan. Eph. 1:5-11

How about you? Do you understand that everything happens according to God’s plan? Do you fear, respect, and stand in awe of who He is? Can you look at your past and determine how you will be changed when history repeats itself? Do you count your trials as great joy? Do you embrace your faith being tested and remember that your endurance is giving you a chance to grow? Do you understand that when your endurance to navigate this life is fully developed you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing else? Do you realize that God chose you in advance to make everything work out according to His plan?

God loves you and so do I?

Leslie

 

photo courtesy of imgrum.org

 

Dancing in the Rain

dancing in the rain quote

I have this saying up on my living room wall and I was looking at it this morning and thought I’d share a bit.  I used to say “Why Me?” when things happened in my life, but someone came back to me and said “Why not you?”.  I didn’t have an answer to that.

I’ve had a lot of things happen to me.  In fact, I would think that I’ve been in the rain more than most people.  (My counselor agrees!) I’ve been a caregiver almost all my life starting when my father had a heart attack and my brother had a bad car accident and my mom and sister-in-law had to go to work to keep the family afloat.  I came home from school and took care of my niece and nephew, made dinner for everybody and put the kids to bed.  I was 15 at the time.  It goes on throughout my life.  One need after another. My father, my mother, my husband….

I look back at all that I’ve done (and struggled through) and wonder how I even made it through in one piece.  With all the changes in my life, some made within hours, I’ve learned to Dance in the Rain.  Now I know that my Lord Jesus has always been with me and He guided me through all my past changes.  As a result, I’ve grown stronger in my faith and in life in general.