Friday, November 30, 2012

A God-Given Purpose

Do you ever wonder what your purpose is? 

I hear and read that God has a unique purpose for each of us.  Sometimes I wonder what mine is.  I am not an author that can influence numerous people through my books or stories.  I do not work in ministry, leading others to Christ.  I am not an outgoing person who talks easily to strangers.  By trade, I am a bookkeeper, balancing accounts and crunching numbers.  I sometimes don't even see my clients, the business owners I work for. 

I have a nephew who is driven to be a lawyer.  He has known for quite some time what he wants to do with his life.  On the other hand, I still didn't know what I wanted to do with mine even after I earned my bachelor's degree.  I felt this gave me less of a purpose.  I believed the world - that you must know what you want and go after it in order to have a purpose.

God gave me an insight today on my way to work - I do have a God-given purpose.  My God-given purpose right now is to build up my husband to be the man God wants him to be and to raise our son " the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it" Proverbs 22:6.  I don't know why God gave me this insight today, but I felt it very clearly as I drove toward work. 

My work is my work - it is not my life.  My life is much more important than my work.  My work is temporary - the influence I can have in my life can be eternal.

What's your purpose at this time in your life? 

In His Grace...

Thursday, November 29, 2012

My Grandfather's Bible

I discovered on a bookshelf, on a visit home, my Grandfather's bible.  It has his name embossed in gold lettering on the leather cover.  It is a Revised Standard Version. 

My Grandfather has not been here for many years.  He passed away when I was about twelve years old.  I did not learn much about his faith before he passed. 

What a treasure it is to find his bible.  To see what he has written on one of the front pages:

"Psalms I like - 1, 8, 15, 18, 19, 23, 24, 25 - Teach me thy ways; O Lord; 27 - The Lord is my light and my salvation, whom shall I fear; 46 - God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble; 48 - Great is the Lord and greatly to be praised; 84 - How lovely is thy dwelling place O Lord of Hosts; 90 - Lord Thou has been our dwelling place; 100 - Make a joyful noise to the Lord; 103 - Bless the Lord , O my soul; 118, 121 - I lift up my eyes to the hills; 136, 139, 145"

When I discovered his bible in the shelf, I was new to faith; what an encouragement to see some of my grandfather's favorite verses.  To know that there was faith in my family and to feel that link with generations past. 

I pray that one day I will see him and my grandmother in heaven.

In His Grace...

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

In everything...give thanks...again

God seems to be giving me the same message over and over again - perhaps I am slow to learn this particular lesson. 

I have been re-reading one of my favorite series of books, The Mitford series, by Jan Karon.  Here is an excerpt of what I read last night from the book In This Mountain:

"In everything...give thanks."

Father Tim paused and looked at those gathered before him.  At Emma Newland...Gene Bolick...Dooley Barlowe...Pauline Leeper...Hope Winchester...Helene Pringle.  Around the nave his eyes gazed, drawing them close.

" In everything, give thanks.  That's all.  That's this morning's message.

" If you believe as I do that Scripture is the inspired Word of God, then we see this not as a random thought or an oddly clever idea of His servant, Paul, but as a loving command issued through the great apostle.

"Generally, Christians understand that giving thanks is good and right.

"Though we don't do it often enough, it's easy to have a grateful heart for food and shelter, love and hope, health and peace.  But what about the hard stuff, the stuff that darkens your world and wounds you to the quick?  Just what is this everything business?

"It's the hook.  It's the key.  Everything is the word on which this whole powerful command stands and has its being.

"Please don't misunderstand; the word thanks is crucial.  But a deeper spiritual truth, I believe, lies in giving thanks in ...everything.

"In loss of all kinds.  In illness.  In depression.  In grief.  In failure.  And, of course, in health and peace, success and happiness.  In everything.

"There'll be times when you wonder how you can possibly thank Him for something that turns your life upside down; certainly there will be such times for me.  Let us, then, at times like these, give thanks on faith alone...obedient, trusting, hoping, believing."

Yes, it is a novel.  But what truth it holds. 

I realized today that I am at peace with what is going on with our house.  I am doing my best to give thanks in everything.

In His Grace...

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

In Everything...Give Thanks

"Rejoice always, pray constantly, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you." 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 RSV

"Be joyful always, pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus." 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 NIV

It is what Thanksgiving is all about.  Giving thanks to our creator, our God, our Father.  The one that loves us no matter what.

When tempers flare, we are to give thanks.

When arguments abound, we are to give thanks.

When all seems lost, we are to give thanks.

We are to lean on our faith in His goodness, His mercy and His grace so that in ALL things, we can give thanks.

It was a good Thanksgiving, with the usual family drama that occurs in all families.

But we had a lovely weekend.

In His Grace...

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving!

"Give thanks to the Lord..." 1 Chronicles 16:8

"Let us come before Him with thanksgiving..." Psalm 95:2

"...give thanks to him and praise his name..." Psalm 100:4

" are my God, and I will give you thanks..." Psalm 118:28

"Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, his love endures forever..." Psalm 136:1

"...when he had given thanks, he broke it..." 1 Corinthians 11:24

"...thanks be to God!" 1 Corinthians 15:57

" prayer and petition, with thanksgiving..." Philippians 4:6

"Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus."  1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

And so on this day, I give thanks, to my Creator, my Father, my King. 

In His Grace...

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Waiting on the Lord

We have some friends...a wonderful couple that we have grown close to.  They have been trying for a few years to have a baby. 

They are believers.

I don't know their story in detail.  But I do know what she told me when she told me she is pregnant.

She said that she had finally come to peace with the idea that she would not have a child of her own.  When she had fully put the struggle in the Lord's hands, then she had discovered that she was pregnant. 

"Yet the Lord longs to be gracious to you; he rises to show you compassion.  For the Lord is a God of justice.  Blessed are all who wait for him!"  Isaiah 30:18

This is a couple that waited on the Lord.  They did not start going to doctors and trying various fertility solutions, instead they waited on the Lord.

And the Lord was gracious to them...

Now they await the birth of their child...

We are so excited!

In His Grace....

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Restored and Renewed

As I've mentioned before, we are in the process of doing a short sale on our house.  For those unfamiliar with the term, it means we are trying to sell our house for less than we owe on it.  We cannot afford it any longer, and we are waiting to hear if the bank will approve the amount that was offered for it.

As I sat in church on Sunday, I felt the Holy Spirit telling me that there is a reason we will be moving.  It is part of Gods plan.  It will glorify Him and provide Him with more opportunities to use us to advance His Kingdom.

When we moved to this house we were new to Christian faith.  We made mistakes, as all humans, Christian or non-Christian, do.  But this has hindered our ability to be used by God.  There are those in our current neighborhood that cannot or will not forgive or forget the mistakes we have made.  Because of this, we cannot be witnesses to those that are unbelievers that will not forget.  So God is moving a new neighborhood...where we can be strong witnesses of God's unending, merciful love.

This is my prayer:

"Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.  Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me.  Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me."  Psalm 51:10-12

I pray that as we move to a new neighborhood, we will not make the same mistakes we have in the past.  We will "Love our neighbors as ourselves" so that we may bring others to know Christ's love.

In His Grace...


Friday, November 16, 2012

A Loving God

Have you ever heard the question "How could a loving God ever send anyone to hell?"

Our pastor recently expounded on this question in one of his sermons.  I had heard this question before.  I had heard it used to explain away the existence of hell.  And to explain away the existence of a loving God. 

I loved what our pastor said.  He said it is a trick question.  As usual, I am so blessed by the messages God gives our pastor.  The more information I have, the more equipped I feel to go into the world each day and pursue and share my faith.  "All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man [woman] of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work." 2 Timothy 3:16

Why is it a trick question?

A loving God does not choose to send any of His children to hell.

It is our choice.

He gave us the gift of free will.  We can either choose to follow Him, to love Him in return for the love He bestows upon us - or we can choose to go the other way.  If we choose to go the other way, we are choosing hell.  It is not God's choice for us.

"I love those who love me, and those who seek me find me." Proverbs 8:17

I choose God, I choose His love, I will continue to seek Him and find Him.  I pray you will too.

In His Grace...

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Breaking all the commands of God's law

"A person who follows all of God's law but fails to obey even one command is guilty of breaking all the commands in that law." James 2:1-10

Again, I am sobered by Scripture.  As I read through James for our small group Bible study, I become aware of the fact that I am guilty.  Because I fail to obey even one command of God, in God's eyes it is the same as breaking all the commands in His law.

His grace, mercy and love for us is a wondrous thing.  How else would we ever be able to come to Him?  How else would we ever be able to know His love and experience eternal life with Him?

It is only because of His amazing plan.  His sacrifice for us.  "For God so loved the world [us] that He gave his one and only son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life." John 3:16

It is difficult to fathom.

I can't earn it.

I can only accept it.

In His Grace...

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Judging Others

"My dear brothers and sisters, as believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ, never think some people are more important than others....You are making some people more important than others, and with evil thoughts you are deciding that one person is better...This royal law is found in the Scriptures: 'Love your neighbor as you love yourself.'  If you obey this law you are doing right.  But if you treat one person as being more important than another, you are sinning.  You are guilty of breaking God's law.  A person who follows all of God's law but fails to obey even one command is guilty of breaking all the commands in that law." James 2:1-10

Our small group has been studying James.  What a challenging book of the Bible.  I had read through it before, but as we study it, as we dig deeper into the information within, I find that I am failing at so many of God's commands.

As a child of two highly educated and critical people, I am very familiar with judging others.  I myself have been judged and while I would like to say I went the opposite direction, in fact I did not.  I have followed in their footsteps.  Seeing the world through judgemental and critical eyes and thoughts. 

This is something I have struggled with since becoming a Christian.  I know it is not the way of Jesus Christ, but what a difficult thing to change.  It is only through God's grace and will, and the Holy Spirit's divine intervention that I can change this part of myself. 

It is a constant challenge, one that I have lifted up to God many times.

I will continue to give this part of myself to God, until I find that it has been replaced by a gentle, loving spirit.  One that can accept others for who God created them to be.

In His Grace...

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Judgement Seat of Christ

Our pastor has been preaching on a series called "After".  We have learned about heaven (not floating around on clouds playing the harp) and about hell (I don't want anyone I know to go there). 

The sermon this past weekend was on judgement.  The two different types of judgement and what we will be judged on.  I had learned previously that salvation is through faith alone, not works.  What I had not learned is that works will determine our reward.

Since giving my life to Christ, I found it difficult to understand how the person who had lived their entire life working for Jesus, perhaps as a missionary or serving Him as a pastor in the ministry in some way, would end up in the same place as the murderer on death row who gives his life to Christ minutes before dying.  That didn't seem right to me.   

However, in our teaching on Sunday, I learned this is not exactly how it works.   Yes, these two people will end up in the same place because they have both been saved by their faith in Christ.  However, at the judgment seat of Christ (for all believers) they will receive vastly different rewards. 

"For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith - and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God - not by works, so that no one can boast." Ephesians 2:9

"For we must all appear before the judgement seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad." 2 Corinthians 5:10

"For we will all stand before God's judgment seat." Romans 14:10

"But because of your stubbornness and your unrepentant heart, you are storing up wrath against yourself for the day of God's wrath, when his righteous judgment will be revealed.  God 'will give to each person according to what he has done.' Romans 2:5-6

What a sobering thought - I will be rewarded based on my good works here on earth.

Am I fulfilling what God would have me do?  Probably not.

How can I better use my talents, time and energy for His glory? 

I pray He will inspire me and instill in me the strength, the courage and the words to do His will.

In His Grace...

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

I am a Christian

Our small group is studying the book of James.  We are using the James bible study book by Max Lucado.  We just finished Lesson Three, Living Proof. 

One of the questions in this Lesson is "In what ways does your life demonstrate to others that you are a Christian?"  I thought about this question prior to going to the study this evening.  But I hadn't truly answered it.  I find it is a difficult thing to answer without sounding like I am bragging.

I don't swear.

I try to control my emotions.

I present a pleasant face to the world, even when life isn't so pleasant.

These are fine answers.  But really, what ways does my life demonstrate to others that I am a Christian?  I think what it boils down to is this.  I treat others with respect, the way I would like to be treated.  Whether they are in the room or not.  Whether they deserve it or not.  It is difficult, it is challenging, I sometimes fail. 

To me it comes down to loving others...when they deserve it and when they don't.  Giving others the benefit of the doubt.  Not gossiping (I sometimes fail here) but treating others how I hope to be treated myself. 

Is it easy?


Is it worth it?


I want God to look at me and say "well done good and faithful servant." 

I pray He does.

In His Grace... 

Monday, November 5, 2012

Comfort vs. Character

We ran into a friend at church this morning.  I asked her how it was going.  She said it was difficult right now.  That she is dealing with a number of hard things.  Then she said something that really struck home with me.  She said, "I get so stuck on my comfort, when God is only interested in my character."

Wow, can I relate.

I want the comfort of my home...but it is not part of God's plan for me right now.

I want the comfort of no pain...but it is not part of God's plan for me right now.

I want the comfort of an easy marriage...and one day we might have one, but we are currently in a growth phase.

I become so focused on all the things that are not going according to my plan, I forget that my plan is not necessarily God's plan.  I forget that oftentimes, God's people go through things so that we can comfort others when they are going through something similar.

"Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God." 2 Corinthians 1:4

I also forget that while I may be thinking of my comfort, that is not as much of a concern to God.  He wants me to grow, he wants me to lean on Him, He wants me to develop my character.  Living in comfort with no challenges will not develop my character.  It will lead to laziness and sloth. 

When I have to lean on God in my everyday life in order to make it through the day, I can be sure that God is working through me to develop stronger, more compassionate, more loving character - someone that He is proud to call one of His children.

Thank you Father!

In His Grace...

Friday, November 2, 2012

Jesus Loves Me

It's been one of those days...or maybe one of those weeks.

Not enough time, too much to do, not enough energy or patience.

This evening was bath night and hair washing night for our little man.  Overall, he likes the bath part.  The part where he gets to play in the tub with his bath toys - little plastic boats, old shampoo bottles, cups with holes in the bottom, rubber duckies - he enjoys.  The part where we have to get his head wet, he does not enjoy.  (Were I to have another child, I would take that child in the shower with me every chance I got so I could get his/her head and face wet, wet, wet.)

This evening was made more difficult by the fact that a couple of days ago, he tripped and fell...wearing shorts, running downhill.  He got a pretty good scrape on his left knee.  It has been covered by a band aid which needed to be changed. 

In addition to the crying that started while washing his hair (he really doesn't like water on his face) he also did not want me to change the band aid.  I would like to say that I had plenty of patience and we worked through the whole thing slowly.  In reality, we were running late, I have had a long week and my patience was just about nil. 

We were able to get the band aid off (I did not just rip it off in spite of the desire to do so) and with a little four year boy sitting on my knee sniffling from all the crying, he made a request.  "Sing Jesus Loves Me" he said.

"Jesus loves me this I know
For the Bible tells me so
Little ones to Him belong
They are weak, but He is strong.

Yes, Jesus loves me
Yes, Jesus loves me
Yes, Jesus loves me
The Bible tells me so."

In His Grace...