Wednesday, November 4, 2015

A Humbling Grace

Once upon a time, a young woman sat and pondered the meaning of grace. She grew up in church, had heard many sermons preached on grace, and yet the context in which she began to hear it changed over the years. Had she truly ever understood it, or was it simply becoming a word overused by society that diluted its meaning? When first learned, grace was equated with the feelings of humility and unworthiness. Its casual use over time evoked feelings of just the opposite, deserving and worthiness.

What is grace after all? The google dictionary definition of grace within the Christian belief is the free and unmerited favor of God, as manifested in the salvation of sinners and the bestowal of blessings. As scripture tells us in Romans 5:1-2,
"Therefore, since we have been justified through faith we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God." 
Dr. Michael Youssef proclaimed in his sermon series on Pursuing Godliness in a Godless World that grace is an "offering or revealing" of the Lord's forgiveness granted to His children. Therefore, those who have yet to receive the Spirit are not living up under grace.

If the above is true about grace, then what do people mean when using grace in these contexts?

A family is blessed with a child and a neighbor says: "What a sweet gift of grace you have been given!"
According to the definitions above, grace comes through Christ, not a child. In our world, grace has become a gift of anything that can be seen as a blessing. Though a child is a blessing, and one like grace, that may evoke feelings of humility as christian parents often think ourselves undeserving of such a precious gift, the child is still not grace itself.
After visiting with a friend, upon leaving one says: "Praying you are showered with grace this week." 
As a believer, I don't know quite how I would respond to someone telling me he/she is praying I am showered with grace. Yes, the Lord gives me grace daily. His grace is His forgiveness. When I hear it used in this context, I can't help but think that the person is praying I am forgiven all week long. I don't mean to sound self righteous; I know I am a sinner and I need forgiveness. However, to be told this makes me think I must be doing something wrong to that person that I should seek his/her forgiveness. I completely understand that this is not what the friend's intent was. This is just another scenario that comes to mind of society misusing the term grace.
A Christian says to an Atheist coworker after hearing that she found her stolen purse: "So glad you got your purse back! What sweet sweet grace?!"
Finally, this last context ruffles my feathers. As Christians, we should know that we as children of the Lord are up under grace. An atheist has never experienced this. Grace is specific to our religion. It is not something just anyone experiences. No matter how much we wish all our friends and family were living up under His grace, not everyone accepts Him. In scripture, it is black and white. We either surrender ourselves to our heavenly Father and are therefore accepting His gift of grace, or we deny Him. Grace is offered to anyone and everyone that receives Jesus Christ. If His grace was given instead of offered, we would all rejoice in heaven together one day. The Lord gave us free will, and with free will it is up to us to choose whether or not we accept Him. This whole statement above is completely wrong. Not only can an atheist not experience His grace unless surrendering to Him, finding the purse for even a believer is not grace. Again, grace is forgiveness. Grace has nothing to do with whether or not a purse was found and returned.


Friends, I understand that we are not perfect. I don't mean to point fingers or pass judgement. I simply want those of you who stumble upon this post to think about grace. How do you use it? Do you understand it? As I pray, I can't help but feel overwhelmed by what God has done in my life and how truly undeserving I am of all of the blessings that He has showered me with over the years. His grace is the first blessing that comes to mind. No matter where I fail, how many times I fall down, or make a wrong turn, He is right there offering His grace (His forgiveness), picking me back up and molding me into the woman He wants me to be. I pray that when He offers His grace to you, that you know what it is and surrender to Him.




 Grace Like Rain- Todd Agnew

Scripture:

"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, not a result of works, so that no one may boast." Ephesians 2:4-9

"Let us then with confidence draw near to the thrown of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need."
Hebrews 4:16

"And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself, restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you."
1 Peter 5:10







Wednesday, September 16, 2015

No Greater Love Exists

Once upon a time, a young woman found herself torn between two loves. She felt hopeless. One love was pursuing her day after day, calling her, loving her, and promising never to leave her. Though she knew this love ran deep, that it was unwavering, and the only love she needed, she still found herself chasing the other one. The love that pursued her, she could not always hear. The love that pursued her she could not feel. The love that pursued her did not always agree with her heart's desires, or her timing, or her plan for her life. Yet this love, He listened. He did not agree with her desires because His desires were far better for her. His timing and plans for her life were much greater than that she could have ever imagined. This love knew that the other love she was pursuing wasn't true. He waited patiently for her. He did not want her to settle for anything less than she deserved. Though it broke His heart each time she turned away from Him, each time she ran from Him, her worth was so valuable that He continued in pursuit. He knew that in time, she would fall so hard that she would stop running, and He would be the only one there to catch her.

How often do you find yourself pursuing something, only to find out it wasn't what He wanted for you? Who is this He I refer to, this love that pursued this young woman? It was her Heavenly Father, her groom, her creator. He knew more about her than she knew about herself. He knows more about you than you know yourself. In this world, we are constantly chasing. Sometimes it's people we chase, sometimes it's a career, or a degree, or an appearance. We have such a need to feel complete. We are stuck in this flesh that says, "If you (______), it will make you happy." We settle for less so often because we can't imagine there is anything better. I have a tendency to think, "I am so unworthy; I don't deserve anything better." Readers, please don't believe this lie. Though we are unworthy, we are living up under grace that our Heavenly Father so lovingly pours out over His children daily that we might be forgiven and blessed beyond belief. No greater love exists. He is there to catch us every time we fall. He is pursuing us daily. What will it take for you to stop running? When will you stop trying to turn your flesh desires into His desires? How long will you go until you surrender your ways and accept His desires for your life?

Every time I have surrendered to our Father, He has blessed me more than I could ever have asked for. He has given me a loving family, genuine friends, a Godly husband, and a beautiful baby boy. I am overcome with humility any time I am reminded of the goodness our Heavenly Father has brought to my life. I pray each and every one of you never settle... but that you seek The Lord with all your heart, mind and soul that He may so bless you as He has greatly blessed me.

Scripture:

"You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart."
Jeremiah 29:13

"For great is His steadfast love for us, and the truth of The Lord is everlasting. Praise The Lord!"
Psalm 117:2

"For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit."
Romans 8:5

Friday, June 5, 2015

Tiny Hands & Tiny Feet

Once upon a time, a young, newly married coupled discovered some very exciting news! It was Good Friday before Easter when the young wife snuck off and took a pregnancy test that happened to read POSITIVE! She was overjoyed but decided to keep it a surprise for her husband to reveal on Easter.
On Easter morning she gave her husband an Easter egg with a note inside the read, "Happy Easter Daddy to be!" Her husband was overjoyed with excitement. What a memorable day it would be in their lives? It was a day not only celebrated for Christ who had risen and saved His children thousands of years ago, but a day that they were able to celebrate the gift of a child being knit together by the hands of their Creator.

My husband and I are simply overjoyed to begin this new chapter in our life together! It is amazing to think about this tiny miracle the Lord is creating inside of me. Our life has been a rollercoaster these past 3 years! My husband and I began as friends, and then dated for 6 months (part of that time was long distance), we were then engaged, and married 6 months later. Now we have a little blessing joining this family of ours and all we can say is. "Thank you, Lord!"
We have had ups and downs, but this rollercoaster ride has been a blast so far! If anything I have learned over the years, it is that this world is not meant for us to get comfortable in. It isn't our eternal home! We are on a journey with the Lord as our guide. As soon as my husband and I start to get comfortable, the Lord takes us on a new route!

This route towards parenthood is both exciting and scary. We are responsible for a tiny human! What faith the Lord must have in us to trust us with His precious children? As a little girl I always prayed for a healthy baby and a safe delivery. As I grew older and began to notice the sin and brokenness in our world, I began to pray that my children would have enough faith in our heavenly Father to be able to stand for Him in all circumstances. Now that I am carrying this sweet bundle of joy, it is my prayer not just for my own but for mommies around the world, that our babies are born with wisdom and discernment. I pray that they believe in the one true way to heaven, through our Savior Jesus Christ. It is my prayer that the Lord places a hedge of protection over them as they walk into nations around the world proclaiming God as our Father. As I picture their tiny hands and feet, I pray that our heavenly Father uses these children as His hands and feet.

So often today, I hear people say that we can all go to heaven as long as we are a good person. Those calling themselves Christians are saying that as long as people of all religions around the world are worshiping one god, that we will all inherit the Kingdom of God. It breaks my heart. It is scripture that reads:
Jesus said to Him, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." John 14:6
Wake up Christians! What are you teaching your children? Do you care about their salvation? Their is only one way to spend eternity with our beautiful, gracious, merciful Father.

As my husband and I prepare ourselves for this new chapter in life, we look to Abba, our heavenly Father who loves us so deeply that He sent His only son to die on the cross and save us from sin. This child being knit together inside of me is already His and I pray with His guidance, I am able to point this child back to Him in every aspect of his/her life just as my parents did for me. These tiny hands and feet have a purpose in this world and we cannot wait to see the blessings our Lord has in store for this child.


Scripture reads:

"Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations."
Jeremiah 1:5

"For You created my inmost being; You knit me together in my mother's womb. I praise You because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Your works are wonderful, I know that full well."
Psalm 139:13-14

"For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life."
John 3:16