Monday, April 23, 2012

Personal Reminder..If Not for the Grace of God

Doing a little writing this afternoon and came across this post that was never published.  Felt like today was the day it was intended for. 

We just wrapped up an incredible weekend at our church. (Disciple Now)

To say I am tired is an understatement. At 3:00 Sunday morning I let God know that I do not do late night well and that next year perhaps I should simply be on the prayer team. You think I'm kidding. After a few minutes I finally just quit praying and was still. The girls in our group had finally settled in and I was almost asleep when this passage came to mind.

Isaiah 55:10-12

As the rain and the snow come down from heaven,
and do not return to it without watering the earth
and making it bud and flourish,so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.

God is so sweet to speak right when we need it.

Just a few hours later, we sat in a gym and listened to just a few of the testimonies of what God had done in the hearts of our middle and high school students. I needed to hear their stories and I am so thankful our student pastors pulled those students up to share.

My prayer today is that the seeds that were planted this weekend will continue to go deep into the hearts of all those students.

So, where does the grace show up? Well.....

In one of our sessions grace was the topic...but...

God gave me a little lesson in it on Sunday afternoon.

All year God has been dealing with me about holy living, guarding my heart and making sure that I am in proper relationship with Him...we have talked about it here and here.

Philippians 4:8 is my verse for goodness sake! I have been completely immersed in this topic for almost three full months. And I blew it.

In one simple conversation...I blew it.

Before I knew what I had happened...the word that came from mouth was NOT pleasing or acceptable to the Lord. Far from it.

Thankfully, it was with two believers who know me and know this is not my character.


This afternoon as I replayed the event in my mind AGAIN. I was so thankful that God is faithful. Faithful to extend grace to me. Thankful he is not I am. We all have moments where we need a little grace, but at the same time...

We all have moments where we need to extend a little.

To the person with 25 items in the 10 items or less line. Grace.

To the person who never picks up after their dog! Grace.

To the spouse that overlooks the daily chores. Grace. No, I am not speaking to my husband here.  He goes out of his way to help out around the house! 

To the person, who thinks they are being funny, but hits you in the back of the head with a roll of toilet paper. GRACE.

If I want to be the recipient of grace, I must be willing to extend it.

Today was a day when Lamentations 3:23 came to life.

The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;his mercies never come to an end;they are new every morning;great is your faithfulness.

Grace. Mercy. It never ceases to blow my mind. My heart is so thankful for it.

Maybe you needed the reminder that YOU have not traveled too far. God's grace is unending.

His mercies never come to an end.

His love is steady. It is solid and will never cease.

His grace is enough.

As long as you are breathing the grace of God is available.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Duty or Delight Weeks 5 and 6

The last week of Bible study is always a little bittersweet. This one was especially difficult for me.

Week 5 continued a theme that God has been working in me long before we began the journey from Duty to Delight. The theme or concept that God was working into me was basically loving Him first and then loving others. I mean REALLY loving others. Nothing new or incredibly "deep". Just basically getting back to what is most important. And don't you know that there has been quite a bit of practical application during that process! :)

One day last week I found myself hanging up the phone and saying, "I am done." Everything in me wanted to just walk away from a particular relationship. Close the door, lock it,move a dresser in front of it kind of done! As soon as I got through telling God how done I was...He was faithful to remind of 1 Corinthians 13. Love is not easily angered and keeps no records of wrongs. Yikes.

Forgive. Again. Move forward in love. Set some boundaries, but as far as it depends on me, I will choose to live in peace (Romans 12) and yes, LOVE. Sincere Love. (Didn't you love learning that the definition of the Greek word used for sincerity in Romans 12:9 was inexperienced in the art of acting?! LOVED THAT)

Week 5 was a difficult one, but at the same time it was just like God to speak tenderly to this hurting heart. He is so faithful.

How did week 5 speak to your heart? Did you have a light bulb moment like I did?

Week 6. Oh week 6. P.O.W.E.R.F.U.L. BUT, what amazed me was that as hard as last week was for me, God spoke so many things to my heart. SO many times He would bring scripture to my mind that was "just right" to what I was feeling. Sometimes for me and sometimes to share with the person standing in front of me. Everything we have been learning and focusing on had taken root and was living in me. Amazing.

Monday evening I was sitting on the front porch going over week 6 and preparing for our Tuesday morning group. Emma was riding her bike up and down the street. She was FLYING around the cul-de-sac and down our driveway with the biggest grin on her face! She and Pixie (what she calls her bike) were quite a show. Emma's laugh is contagious and she was LOVING life. It was my delight to watch her.

After all that riding, she parked Pixie and began to "decorate" our driveway with sidewalk chalk. After a few minutes she called me over to check out what she had done.

I looked down and saw that she had written in LARGE letters J E S U S on our driveway. In her words "So the people in airplanes can see His name written on our driveway". I thought it was cool, but what she said next was straight from God's mouth to me.

I told her how awesome I thought her project was and she said,

"Well..if you look at it right now, it's okay. Really, it's kind of just flat Not really very exciting It's just a name."

My response, "Well, okay...but it is still pretty cool, Em"

"BUT MOM. When I put on these glasses it TOTALLY CHANGES the picture. These glasses make Jesus just pop off the driveway. It's 3-D chalk and 3-D glasses, MOM! If you don't have them both, then you only get part of the picture. You miss the best part!"

Oh my sweet friend that is exactly what Duty or Delight taught me. Going through the motions of reading my Bible, serving, being a wife and mother, writing music, leading Bible study.... all that stuff is completely flat and dead until...

I "put the glasses on" :) Until the Holy Spirit (My To-Be-Able) makes it POP off the page and changes my perspective.

Duty or Delight was like putting on 3D glasses and seeing my relationship with God in a totally different dimension. Why? Because I finally "got" that God Almighty, The One and Only, delights in me. Not because He "has to", but because He LONGS TO. From before the foundation of the world...He chose me. (Ephesians 1:4) He rescued me!Why? Because He Delights in me! (Psalm 18:19 and 2 Sam. 22:20)

I thought I loved Him before, but I am overwhelmed at the extravagance of His love and I can't help but pray "Oh God, help me love you more."

As we close this season of Bible study, how has Duty or Delight changed your perspective? What have you learned and how will you apply it to life?

This song is at the top of my playlist right now. I challenge you to not just watch, but worship the One who not only loves you, but delights in you.

YOU are precious to Him and to me. Thank you for taking this journey with us! Your e-mails, facebook messages and responses have been incredible. I know this was an intensely personal journey at times and I am so thankful you were on it with me!