COMPLETED GRACE

Accordingly, we urged Titus that as he had started, so he should complete among you this act of grace. But as you excel in everything – in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in all earnestness, and in our love for you – see that you excel in this act of grace also. (2 Cor 8:6-7 ESV)

in 2 Corinthians chapter 8 Paul begins this chapter bragging a bit on the church in Macedonia. Apparently the church of Macedonia was in a time of trial and hardship yet their giving was beyond their means. Because of their giving they were also a joyful people. If I am reading this chapter correctly it appears that the Corinthians had started out in ministry and in their faith walk giving of their resources and their time. But maybe their times had gotten hard and they had started tightening their belt so to speak but in the tightening maybe their giving had scaled back even more than they would have originally planned. Paul sent Titus to the Corinthians with his letter to show the Corinthians that no they did not have to give to the point of being burdened but that they should be giving out of what they had. And that if that was what they were doing then their abundance would supply the needs of others, but it would come back to them when they were in need the abundance of others would supply for them.

The secret to this is tucked away in the verse just preceding the verse quoted in the beginning. Verse 5 states “but they gave themselves first to the Lord and then by the will of God to us.”

We should always, whether it be in giving of our resources or our time give ourselves over to God first and ask Him to direct our giving. When we do this, when we give ourselves over to God and we ask Him for direction and then we follow through it completes Grace in us. And I am so preaching to myself in this. I am so guilty myself of thinking I don’t have time for this or I don’t have the resources/money for that without ever consulting God in how He wants me to use the minutes/time/resources/money that I do have. I pray that I will let the Grace of God fill me up and overflow in me so that I may show acts of Grace to others.  Completed Grace

Please pray for your service industries today. And if possible, eat local, shop local, and by all means when appropriate tip well!

Grace Teaches

For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, (Titus 2:11-12 ESV)

Many times when I am reading and something grabs me if I can’t quite figure out what I think the Lord is trying to tell me that is when I start digging. First I will usually go to other translations such as The Passion Translation or The Message. I do like to read out of the ESV or CSB for my daily reading but I also like to back it up with these other translations as I am asking the Lord for clarity on a particular verse or subject. (Remember my simple brain)

We are exploring Grace this week so the word grace is what grabbed me here and I started reading and re-reading these verses. Then I went to The Passion Translation and I truly loved how it read.

God’s marvelous grace has manifested in person, bringing salvation for everyone. This same grace teaches us how to live each day as we turn our backs on ungodliness and indulgent lifestyles, and it equips us to live self-controlled, upright, godly lives in this present age. (Titus 2:11-12 TPT)

First thought here is put plainly God’s marvelous grace, manifested in Jesus brings us salvation. The further thought here is “this same grace teaches us how to live each day”. I LOVE THAT!! God’s grace was manifested through Jesus. The grace that Jesus exhibited to us by coming to earth and dying on a cross is what our salvation hangs on. But His GRACE goes beyond that. His Grace is ours every day to train us and to lead us and to guide us through every day. We can’t do this thing or at least I can’t without His Grace. I know that I have salvation but I want my salvation to mean something daily not just where I’m going when I die. There is a Psalm that many times in my life when times got hard and life seemed to be throwing me a curve ball or two I have had to cling to. And I truly believe it to be true.

I believe that I shall look upon the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living! Psalm 27:13

This doesn’t mean that life will always be perfect but I do believe that life is meant to be good. And it’s His Grace which is training me how to live that is going to also train me how to see His goodness.

Please pray for your pastors and church leaders today as they are figuring out how to open things back up.

Gifts of Grace

Today I was reading in Ephesians chapter 3.  I want to highlight a few verses here.

For this reason, I, Paul, the prisoner of Christ Jesus on behalf of you Gentiles — assuming you have heard about the administration of God’s grace that he gave me for you. (Eph. 3:1-2 CSB)

I was made a servant of this gospel by the gift of God’s grace that was given to me by the working of his power. This grace was given to me – the least of all the saints – to proclaim to the Gentiles the incalculable riches of Christ, and to shed light for all about the administration of the mystery hidden for ages in God who created all things. (Eph. 3:7-9 CSB)

In this chapter and particularly in these verses Paul is saying that he has been given the power to preach and to proclaim by the gifting of God’s grace. Now I know I can be guilty of thinking of Paul as someone who is way up there on a pedestal. Paul was the author of most of the New Testament and so many of our direction of how to live this christian life come from his writings. So I can tend to put him way up on a pedestal as someone who I can have nothing truly in common with. At least Paul after his conversion, that is. But Paul was just a man, we are not meant to put him on the pedestal. Truly verses like this where Paul points out that his preaching of the gospel is nothing more than a gifting of God’s grace on his life is what validates this point. So if Paul’s writings are meant to give us direction and to give us purpose in this life what can we glean from these passages.

Again, I come to you as a simple minded woman but I do believe that if God can gift Paul with grace to preach that God is gifting me with grace for something. And I believe that this means that God gifts all of us with grace for — something. I believe that sometimes God has to gift me with grace to love certain people. God gifted Paul with grace to love the gentiles, some of the very people he had persecuted in his former life. Can God gift me with grace to love people that maybe I, in my humanness do not find very lovable. Paul states here that God gifted him with the grace to proclaim Christ to the gentiles. God gifted him with his calling. I believe God is gifting me with the grace to do things for Him that I, again, in my humanness would not feel qualified to do. And I truly believe that if God is gifting Paul with grace to love the gentiles and to accomplish His will that He will gift me with grace to love others and to accomplish the things that He has called me to do. I believe He will also gift you with grace to love others and to accomplish His will!

Please pray today for educators and students! Summertime is upon us! School years are wrapping up, however different it seems. It’s truly time to start looking ahead!

By Grace you have been saved!

But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ-by grace you have been saved- and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, (Eph 2:4-8 ESV)

So what is this grace? This grace we receive from God. Webster defines it as unmerited favor by God. When Paul says “By grace we have been saved” it is because it is nothing that we have done. We are only offered this gift of salvation because of what Jesus did for us on the cross. Oh we have to accept the gift, we have to receive the gift. But that is our only action in this transaction. God is lavishing us with the “exceeding riches of his grace”. He has as much as you want, and more. He is begging us to receive His grace.

Have you ever been given a gift that was unexpected. Maybe at Christmas or your birthday, or just because. And you were a little embarrassed because you didn’t have a reciprocal gift to give back. But what do you do? Do you refuse the gift? Or do you take the gift and show appreciation for the gift? Or do you go on and on about I wish I had something to give back. It can be an awkward situation. But with God the gift of Grace that he lavishes on us, the exceeding riches of his grace, well the only way to show our appreciation is to accept the gift. We can never in a million years truly repay the gift of Grace that he lavishes on us. We can however, accept the gift, and live in the gift, and relish the gifts of his Grace.

Please pray today for our medical professionals and front liners. We include nurses, doctors, paramedics, the drivers, the clerks, the housekeepers at the hospital. Lord we pray that they will be seen and lavished with your grace today!

GRACE

Every year I ask the Lord to give me a word for the year. This year he gave me 2. We are going to explore one of them this week. In years past He has given me words like Peace, Restore (where I came up with the name) and Hope! The year that he gave me the word Restore was all about renewing my heart and mind and when He was giving me back my confidence in Him and who He is and joy in my own salvation.

The year he gave me the word Peace did not exactly look like I thought it would, but what it did for me was gave me something to hold onto when circumstances and things going on in my life did not feel very peaceful and hopeful. The word and scripture related to the word held me during some pretty rough times that year. So I have learned that when He gives me a word not to put all my eggs in one basket so to speak. I have learned to set aside my own expectations of what it means and just trust Him that He will guide me.

Hope was my 2019 word and it was definitely a year where Hope was more paramount than the prior years and it set my feet on a better path and gave me Hope in what God was doing, in what I could do and for other circumstances in my life.

So the word this year is Grace. The verse that He attached to this word was:

And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work. 2.Cor. 9:8

What did I think at the beginning of 2020 when God gave me this verse? I guess in a way I thought that His grace would help me to work for Him. I was thinking very simplistically. Which tends to be my way. What have I learned thus far in 2020 about Grace? I have learned that not only do I need His Grace in my life every day that I need to extend Grace to others every day. We are hearing a lot about things opening back up and a lot of people saying it’s too soon.  We are hearing it’s a conspiracy and we are hearing some say how real it is. Some days I am not absolutely certain where my heart lies in all of it. I miss my friends, I miss my church, I miss being social and being able to go shop when and where I want. And let’s face it I really really really want to get my nails done. But I also do not want to get sick neither do I want to go out and then bring this virus home to my husband. I worry about the economy, and when things will be “normal” again. Some days I really don’t know what to feel or to think. But what I do want to do more than anything, is to give Grace to others and to receive Grace! I want His Grace to overflow to me and I want to let mine overflow to others. When I encounter someone who is not sure where their heart lies or even someone who knows their mind better than I know mine and they are steadfast in their thinking, I want to extend my Grace to them. We are all living a very different life than we did a few months back or than what we envisioned. We all have to process it in our own ways.

Lord help me as I give Grace! Lord bless me with your abundant Grace overflowing!

Please pray for our leaders in government today. Our President, our Governor and everyone in between who are making decisions!

Keep stepping!

PNG image-B25C2AE93D1F-1But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. But if you are led by the Spirt you are not under the law.  Gal 5:16-18

If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another. Gal. 5:25-26

Finishing up in Galatians chapter 5 today. When I first started reading Galatians I thought it was a hard book to read. (That may show how truly inept I am at this.) But this week when Galatians 5 grabbed me and I decided to dig in a little bit to this chapter and break it down I came to realize that this chapter anyway is really very simple and it is summed up right here in these verses. I actually read verses 16 – 26 but the whole theme of this chapter and really our christian walk are summed up in verse 16 and in verse 25. At least as far as my simple mind can see. Paul is saying here very simply “walk by the Spirit, live by the Spirit”. So what are some practical ways. we can do that? Well he addresses that as well when he says “keep in step with the Spirit.” When you are keeping in step with the Spirit it becomes easier to think like the Spirit. Kind of like a married couple or friends who spend lots of time with each other. The more time you spend together the more you tend to think like the other person. I have a friend that we spent so much time together when our kids were younger that we truly reached a point where we were finishing each other’s sentences. We even found ourselves carrying the same purse on 3 different occasions and we were never together when we made that purchase. When you are spending time with the Spirit, with Jesus then you start to walk in step with him and the other stuff that is mentioned in these passages just start to happen. You begin to put away the things of the world and the fruit of the Spirit within you begins to grow.   Walking in step with Him is letting Him direct your life and your steps. I am not saying all in the world will be sunshine and lollipops but when you walk in step you have the helper, the Spirit to guide you and to show you the way and yes, even to carry you through the hard times.

Please pray for our service industry today. There are so many people who are hurting financially during this time. Please pray and if you need something or you can, please buy from the local shops. If you are not ready to sit in a restaurant or if your community is not open, please get takeout and be sure to tip well. (if you can)

Run well – Gal. 5:7-15

IMG_1683“You were running well. Who hindered you from obeying the truth? This persuasion is not from him who call you. A little leaven leavens the whole lump. I have confidence in the Lord that you will take no other view, and the one who is troubling you will bear the penalty, whoever he is. But if I, brothers, still preach circumcision, why am I still being persecuted? In that case the offense of the cross has been removed. I wish those who unsettle you would emasculate themselves! For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve on another. For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself’ But if you bite and devour one another, watch out that you are not consumed by one another.” Gal. 5:7-15

Apparently the church in Galatia that Paul was writing to had started out well on their faith journey but they had allowed false teaching in their midst. (v.7)  This was upsetting to Paul as he was trying to warn them that you let a little “leaven” in and eventually it can run through the whole batch. In other words if you let one person in to teach and they are teaching false doctrine then next thing you know they are leading the whole bunch of them and it is negating what the cross did for them. But he is also encouraging them when he tells them “I have confidence in the Lord that you will take no other view”. (v10)  In other words he is telling them I know you know the truth and I know that you will follow the truth. I was thinking this can be a scary fine line because we are supposed  to be open to others and welcome them to the church. But before you allow them to lead you be sure they are leading you to the cross. Paul even ends this part of the passage with loving your neighbor as yourself.  (hmm we’ve heard that recently) We have freedom in Christ and we do not want to be judged “by the company we keep” but what I think Paul is saying to them is to remember the cross. Remember who called you and the freedom to which you were called. He says don’t let this freedom be an opportunity for you to sin. Again don’t think of it as a list of do’s and don’ts. But also don’t think I can do whatever I want and keep asking forgiveness. But realize that legalism leads you away from the cross and freedom leads you to the cross. When you run well, when you run toward the cross with all you have, you will serve one another and you will love one another without the backbiting and judgment that legalism can bring.

Please pray for the pastors and for our churches today. Many churches are trying to figure out the best way and when to open back up!