Grace After Grace

Posted by admin on November 22, 2013 under Encouraging Words | Comments are off for this article

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Spring Puppies


Read John 1:14-18

What is this grace to which John refers–Jesus “full of grace and truth” (vs. 14)? John says, “Indeed, we have all received grace after grace from His fullness” (vs. 16). “Grace and truth came through Jesus Christ” (vs. 17).

This grace came into the world at Christmas. “The Word became flesh and took up residence among us” (vs.14a) The Word, the Logos, the incarnation and revealer of God the Father, lived among us in order to die for us.

John “observed His glory, the glory as the One and Only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth” (vs.14b)  John walked with Jesus day by day.  What must it have been like to follow the Man Without Sin?  To eat with Him, to sit at His feet as His student, to witness His miracles, to look in His eyes? 

John saw Him transfigured on the mountain, when His face shone like the sun as He talked with Moses and Elijah.  John heard the voice from the cloud proclaim:  “This is My beloved Son.  I take delight in Him.  Listen to Him!” (Matthew 17:1-6 HCSB). 

John also saw Him disfigured and dishonored on the Cross, only to rise again in His new, immortal body and later ascend to heaven.

Yet those of us who have not seen Jesus but still believed are blessed too.  The Son has revealed the Father to us in all His grace, truth, and glory!

 God is love.  He is continually pouring forth His love, grace, mercy, and truth.  Like the sun, He cannot stop emitting His light, or else the universe would go dark.

In a great mystery, the Father revealed the Son, His Word to us; the Son revealed the Father.    This is the “grace after grace” which we have all received, ours to accept or reject.

Lord, I am amazed, thankful, and blessed by this grace.  You gave me Yourself.  You have shown me the Father’s love and forgiveness, poured out like Your blood.  You have not forsaken me, but You live in me by Your Spirit.

What a difference You have made in my life!  You satisfy my longings; I do not feel deprived when I focus on You.  You free me from the bondage of destructive habits and self-deceit.  Your truth has set me free.

When I slip back into compulsions and focus on my wants and anxieties, I remember the greater reality of my relationship with You.  I don’t have to “be all I can be” in the world’s eyes.  I don’t have to “get everything done.”  I can “abandon the outcomes” to God.

My relationship with You is primary, next are family and friends.  The cares of this world–work, finances, time management, illnesses, troubles of all sorts, and those everlasting chores–are far down the list of priorities.   Only a few things are necessary, and I long to choose the best.

I hear Your affirmation, Lord:  You are My child, and I have given you grace after grace.  Rejoice!  I give grace to the humble.  My grace is sufficient for You.  You are weak, but I am strong–strong to save you, strong to love you, strong to work in you and through you for My good purpose.  For by grace you are saved, justified before Me by grace.  You will have suffering in this world, but be courageous!  I have conquered the world, and You will see My glory.

What grace!

JOURNEY THROUGH JOHN

Posted by admin on November 14, 2013 under Encouraging Words | Comments are off for this article

     Here I am again writing on my much-neglected blog. The Lord has brought me through a year of challenges that required a lot of time and attention.  
     Since February I have been reading and meditating on John, using the ancient lectio divina method. Though I have read  John my whole life, since I first turned to that wondrous phrase, “In the beginning was the Word,” I am still captivated by his gospel. And I still maintain this website and receive encouragement to continue. So, from time to time, I will share some of my journal entries with you.
     The lectio divina method is not Bible study, and I don’t purport to be a Bible scholar or teacher. I am simply sharing meditations on certain passages that impressed themselves on my spirit. If you would like to learn more about lectio divina, see soulshepherding.org.

CHILDREN OF GOD

Read John 1:1-13

vs. 12 “the right to be children of God”

Thank You, Father, for sending Your Son, giving me faith to receive Him, and granting me “the right to become a child of God”!  Because of my sin, I had no right or even desire in myself to be included in Your family.  Like a helpless baby, I could not choose You, but You chose me. You adopted me and purchased me with Your life-blood.  You gave me Your name and filled me with Your Spirit.

I have not always appreciated this.  I focused on the rejection and abandonment I experienced as a child.

But You, Lord, fathered me and taught me to love You, to love Your Word, Your people, and Your worship.  You led me in the way of salvation.  I am so thankful, Lord!

Now I am Your child and will always be Your child.  I do not have to fear rejection or abandonment.  You will never be too busy for me or deceive me.  I don’t have to compete for Your approval, attention, or aid.   You call me to follow, and You lead me on the way. 

Your Word says to me:  I am the Lord God Almighty, your Creator, the Word Made Flesh, rejected by men yet offering Myself in love for their redemption. I have drawn you to Myself with an everlasting love.   I have called you, given you a new heart and name, and adopted you forever. Rejoice, child of God!  Be not ashamed; your sins are forgiven.  Fear not!  Rest in My love.  Trust Me to provide and shelter and lead.  I will never leave you or forsake you.  And at last, you will live in My presence forever and see My glory.

So be it, Father.  I believe and rejoice!

 

 

Oops!

Posted by admin on January 7, 2013 under Encouraging Words | Be the First to Comment

The number on the digital scale flashed up at me–Oops!  Even though I worked out on the treadmill in the icy atmosphere of the garage, those two fig bars and the extra handful of nuts confronted me. Not to mention the bread sticks and salty soup at the Olive Garden.  Or the extra piece of cheese.  Or . . . .

I wrote down every calorie I consumed, but  I missed my weight loss goal for the New Year.  Alas!  I was too confident, even cocky. 

I have lost 80 lbs., donated my plus-size clothes to charity, and trashed a chocolate cake that tempted me.  But I still ate too much during the holidays. 

That ominous verse reverberated in my head: “Therefore, whoever thinks he stands must be careful not to fall!” (I Corinthians 10:12 HCSB)

For the past two weeks, I let go of my support system–the weekly report and phone call with my weight loss counselor.  I can do this on my own, I thought.  As the days progressed, I regressed from taking thought to being thoughtless.  I lost my focus on the Lord, self-discipline, and healthy, balanced living.  Celebration turned to self-indulgence, self-pity, and self-deprecation.  Self, self, self, the prison of self.

Like a toddler who has fallen on her head, I can only crawl back to the Father.  Take my hands, Abba.  Help me up.  I can walk again with Your guidance.  With my eyes on You, I can reach the goal.

Some time in the future, when I lose all my fat, I won’t need to report in every week to a counselor.  My healthy habits will be more habitual.  But I will always need a support system of family, friends, and wise counselors–and I will always need to rely on my Daddy.

Maybe you too are experiencing frustration over goals, resolutions, habits, sins, and failings. 

The Lord is compassionate.  “No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to humanity.  God is faithful and He will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation He will also provide a way of escape, so that you are able to bear it.” (I Cor. 10:13)

What is that way of escape?  The renewal of our hearts and minds.   

“Set your mind on things above, not on the things that are on earth. . . put on the new self who is being renewed in knowledge according to the image of his Creator. . . And let the peace of the Messiah control your hearts.  Be thankful.” (Colossians 3:2,10,15)

Ah, that is the key.  Be thankful.  Be content.  The Lord is in control.  God-power, not just will-power.  I am satisfied in Him. 

So be it, Father, so be it.  Amen. 

 

      1. Kids Sing For Every Prison There's a Door
  a song about the way of escape!

Satisfied?

Posted by admin on November 8, 2012 under Encouraging Words | Be the First to Comment

“O satisfy us in the morning with Thy lovingkindness, that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days.”  Psalm 90:13    A Prayer of Moses, the Man of God

In the desert of Sin (Exodus 16:1) there were two parties at odds with each other–and the leaders Moses and Aaron comprised the minority!  The majority were “the whole congregation of the sons of Israel,” freshly liberated slaves of Egypt. They didn’t trust Moses and Aaron,  and they didn’t trust God, even after He parted the Red Sea for them.  

They had eaten up all the unleavened bread.  They had livestock, but they must have balked at slaughtering those.  So they berated Moses and Aaron, “Would that we had died by the Lord’s hand in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the pots of meat, when we ate bread to the full; for you have brought us out into this wilderness to kill this whole assembly with hunger!”  (16:3)

Like the disciples facing hungry multitudes in Jesus’ day, Moses and Aaron could only appeal to God for provision.  What a patient, loving God He is!   He replied to Moses, “Behold, I will rain bread from heaven for you; and the people shall go out and gather a day’s portion every day, that I may test them, whether or not they will walk in My instruction.” (16:4)

Then all Israel looked toward the wilderness, “and behold, the glory of the Lord appeared in the cloud.” (vs.10)  God had heard their grumblings.  He had been there all along.

Flocks of quail descended on the camp that evening; in the morning manna fell like dew.  The people gathered it in jars to make bread with it, bread that tasted like honey cakes.  Manna leftover on the ground simply melted away!

Perhaps the prophet Jeremiah recalled this story when he wrote, “The Lord’s lovingkindnesses indeed never cease, for His compassions never fail.  They are new every morning.  Great is Thy faithfulness.”  (Lamentations 3:22-23)

In the morning only God will satisfy my hungers.  The blessings of His Word and Presence must be gathered in that quiet time, for in the heat of day I forget them.  Then I am tempted to fill myself with whatever distraction is at hand–work, food, entertainment, shopping, friends.  Or worse, I begin to grumble, worry, and feel sorry for myself.

Jeremiah, persecuted (and eventually put to death), had reason to lament.  In the darkest hours, however, he reminded himself of God’s goodness.  “‘The Lord is my portion,’ says my soul. ‘Therefore, I have hope in Him.’  The Lord is good to those who wait for Him, to the person who seeks Him.” (3:24-25)  

C. S. Lewis observed the dilemma:  “We try, when we wake, to lay the new day at God’s feet; before we have finished shaving, it becomes our day and God’s share in it is felt as a tribute which we must pay. . . out of the time which ought, we feel, to be ‘our own.” (The Problem of Pain, chapter 5)

How much better to remember, as Lewis continued,  “that the soul is but a hollow which God fills.” (ch. 10)  We will never be satisfied apart from Him.  He is the Father who made us, the Son who saves us, the Spirit who fills and empowers us!  

Forty years later Moses instructed the people,  “Remember all the way which the Lord your God has led you in the wilderness. . .  that He might humble you, testing you, to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep His commandments or not.  And He humbled you and let you be hungry, and fed you with manna . . . that He might make you understand that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by everything that proceeds out of the mouth of the Lord.” (Deuteronomy 8:2-3)

Yes, God created me to be hungry.  He created me for the liberty of dependence.  I am His child; He will feed and protect me.  I need not fear or fret. 

Jesus said, “”Do not be anxious for your life, what you shall eat or what you shall drink . . . Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them.  Are you not worth much more than they?  Your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things.  But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added to you.” (Matthew 6:25-26, 32-33) 

Father, thank You for being so loving and patient with me.  Forgive me when I complain and worry.  Forgive me when I try to fill myself with the world’s goodness.  Lord Jesus, You are the Giver and the Gift, the Manna of life to me.  You are My Shepherd in the wilderness; You restore my hungry soul.  You prepare a table before me– morning by morning, let me feast on You.  I delight in my hunger for you.  May I never be satisfied in myself but only by Your Presence!  Amen.

Jesus Loves Me, This I Know

Posted by admin on June 21, 2012 under Encouraging Words | Read the First Comment

A Guest Devotional by Deborah Davis

Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so.

I have sung that song over and over through the years; it always brings me comfort. Yes, the Bible tells God’s love for me.  But I also know the love of God through my relationship with Him.  A real and tangible relationship…

When I first read the Bible, I learned who God is, what He has done, and what He desires of me.  However, as I continued to read the Bible daily and meditate on His Word, I came to know God Himself.  I know Him as my Friend, my Lord, my Comforter, my Shelter, my King, my Strong Tower, my Counselor, my Lover, my Savior, my Refuge, my Strength, my Provider, my Victory, my Portion, my Deliverer, my Very Present Help in Time of Need…and so much more!

Do you know God or merely know about Him?   We can only know God through Jesus Christ, His Son.

The Bible says that all have sinned.  The consequence of  sin is eternal separation from the holy God.  “The wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 6:23) 

Jesus Christ, God’s gift to us, was nailed to a cross in payment for our sins. Jesus satisfied God’s demand for justice by dying in our place.  At the same time,  He demonstrated the incredible mercy and love of God.  “While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8)  Then He rose from the dead and ascended to His Father.  He is preparing a place in Heaven for all who believe in Him.

Here is the way to God: 

  • Admit to yourself and to God that you are guilty of sin and undeserving of His love.
  • Trust in Jesus Christ as the One who purchased forgiveness for your sins with His own blood.
  • Thank God for accepting you into His family.

       “God, I know I’ve sinned against You and deserve eternal separation from You.  I put my trust in Jesus and the price He paid for the forgiveness of my sins.  I declare that, from this day forward, Jesus Christ is my Lord and my Savior. Thank you, Father, for accepting me into your family and providing an eternal home for me in Heaven.”

The Bible says, “…to all who received Him, who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God.” (John 1:12)

It has been twenty years since I received Jesus Christ into my life, and God has remained faithful.

 “For I have loved you with an everlasting love… God so loved the world that He gave us His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life…Never will I leave you or forsake you… He who began a good work in you, will be faithful to complete it.”

I have been totally changed through God’s love relationship to me.  I am not the person I used to be.  Knowing and walking with God has given me eternal purpose, significance, direction, hope, assurance, love, mercy, grace, and peace.  I know Him through His Word, and I know Him by experience. 

Jesus loves me, this I know!

     Listen to Lela Satterfield’s song about God’s love and forgiveness: 

      1. The Cross On Jesus' Back