“Walk In Grace!”

My Project 228-001

“For by grace are ye saved through faith; and not that of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast,” Ephesians 2:8-9

 

“I don’t deserve it, but Lord I thank You!  I didn’t do anything to earn it, but again, Lord I thank You!”  That’s the feeling the word grace evokes in me.  It’s like walking on the clouds of heaven while here on earth; experiencing release and freedom in all that Christ has secured for me.

Grace is personal.  Though Christ died for all, it has to touch each one on an intimate level.  It takes hold of and absorbs in the spirit of man, this wonderful gift of God.  It allows the one who follows after it to get a glimpse of what it truly may be like in heaven when all the shackles of this earthly bondage are removed.  It is ours, personally and individually, to experience for them that are found in Him.

Isn’t it wonderful – this gift of His?  Isn’t it magnificent that no matter our status in life or how hard we work it can never be earned?  It can never be put in our repertoire of attainments to salvation.  It is a gift!

Gifts are meant to be received.  On a number of occasions my husband and even my children have tried to give me something out of the blue.  While I am very grateful for the consideration that they want to give me something, I often wind up doing a lot of questioning trying to ascertain the reason for them wanting to give it in the first place.  I want to know what I did to deserve it.  “Oh, you don’t have to go through such lengths. And, yada, yada, yada . . .”   In turn, what was a thoughtful expression is now tainted by frustration in the giver.  They become frustrated with me for doing so much questioning instead of just receiving; for implying the only reason I am worthy is become of some work I must have done for them.

Human perception of this kind of outpouring of love has been marred by this sinful world.  In it dwells the attitude of “if you do for me, then I’ll do for you.”  “If you scratch my back, then I’ll scratch yours.”  It is hard for one to believe in a motivation of pure love; to believe that one would give just because they love.

Paul laid the truth out for us.  “And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespass and sins; Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience: Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lust of our flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others,” (Ephesians 2:1-3).  We were “by nature children of wrath.”  In other words, we were no good, no goods who deserved absolutely nothing.

Verse 4 steps in and shows the love of God at work.  “But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us.”  He didn’t do it for us because of some great checklist we marked off as job complete, now I deserve this.  His love gave us the gift to receive, “Not of works, lest any man should boast,” (vs. 9).  “That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus,” (vs. 7).

This is one of those lessons that you really have to let the Word speak for itself, lest mankind try to put their own spin on it.  God loves us!  “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life,” (John 3:16).  When we accept that love and are saved through Christ, then we have an opened door to accept the gift of grace along with it.  I depend on His grace daily!  I choose to “WALK IN GRACE” today.  It’s a choice.  Read the entire chapter 2 of Ephesians.  See what you were and what He has made you now.  See where you were, and now where He wants to take you.  Compare what you did to what He has done for you.  Now, CELEBRATE! AND, WALK IN THE GRACE HE GIVES. 

 

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What Would It Have Been Like? – “To Be the Philippian Jailer”

“There’s not a friend like the lowly Jesus; no not one, no not one!” the one that Paul and Silas sang?  No!  But, we can be assured the praises and melodies they were singing before the Lord was just as spiritually moving.

That’s one of the dramatic things about this night.  After being beaten with rods and receiving many stripes these songs of praises could not be silenced. Some of it fell on deaf ears yet, some were listening.  If it were just Paul and Silas, then they could have quietly worshipped and kept it to themselves.  But, they were not alone in this prison, on this night.  Other inmates needed to believe that there is still a reason to rejoice in the midst of these darkest times.

Not everyone was attentive.  The melodious tune was not picked up by all as a listening pleasure.  The jailer, whom earlier was given the charge to keep the prisoners locked up securely (Acts 16:23), was fast asleep.  So deep was his slumber it took the earth to begin to quake to rouse him from his midnight dreams.

Once awakened, the dreams dissipated and the reality of all that appears to have transpired sets in.  The prison doors are not only unlocked, but they are fully opened giving free course of exit to any who wished to leave.  After all, it is a prison and who would rightly want to stay beholden by chains.

The jailer knew the vehement attitude the multitudes had against the two who were bound in the inner prison.  The charge to contain them at all cost was serious.  So serious, the jailer thought, “Since I have fallen asleep on my duty and have given the opportunity of freedom to them that were bound, I must now seal my failure with my own death.  For surely, when the magistrates come and find out my fault, I shall pay with my life anyway.”

Determined not to let this go any further, the jailer drew his sword to perform the unthinkable.  When out of the dark, a voice arose above his desperation and called out, pleading with him to spare his own life.

What would it have been like?  What would it have been like to walk in the Philippian jailer’s shoes on that night?  One moment, he is captured by failure and facing death to sighing audibly a cry of relief at the voice of deliverance.

The law was the law and had he not heard that calling voice, he would surely be dead by now.

Unbelief demands evidence.  Grabbing the closest light, he runs back into the depths of the prison walls and comes face to face with the convicted.  “But, what’s this?  Why didn’t they flee?  The shackles are loosed; the doors are opened, and yet, they remain?”  He thought, “Why?”

The jailer found out that though these men were convicted and sentenced by law, they carried a deeper conviction in their souls.  Beaten, yet they sit.  “Surely, this can’t be possible?” his mind racing, trying to grasp everything at once and take it all in.

Then, as if a new page was turned in a book, a new chapter began in his life.  “Whatever faith and conviction these men have is superior to that which we have learned under Roman rule.”

“Sirs, what must I do to be saved?”

What would it have been like to be the Philippian jailer, you ask?  Though we are not guards during the ancient rule, any of us can associate with the lost state of the jailer on that night.  He was condemned physically because of his failure.  He was condemned spiritually because, as David said, “I was shapen in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me,” (Psalm 51:5, KJV).  The reality for the need of this salvation these men possessed pressed on the jailer as it did on us.

At one point or another, we have all had to run to the proverbial “altar” seeking, “What must I do to be saved?” as the jailer did.  Therefore, though much time has passed between him and us, the same cry of heart gets the attention of the same God.

How many times had he kept guard of the convicted?  How many times had he led the bound to their deaths?  We don’t know.  But, we do know that it only took one time for him to come face to face with his own mortality to realize there has to be a change in his life.

“Then they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all who were in his house.  And he took them the same hour of the night and washed their stripes.  And immediately he and all his family were baptized,” (Acts 16:32-33, NKJV).  The humbleness of all that happened in those few short hours promoted an attitude of service and repentance.  He was ready to be cleansed and made whole from the inside out.  “Who knows what tomorrow would bring, but tonight, I have to get right with God,” he must have thought as he contemplated it all.  And, the Bible tells us that he was baptized!

You ask, what would it have been like?  My response, “Don’t you know already?”  To be surrounded by death every day, and as quickly as one comes up out of the water, they have crossed the threshold into the newness of life.

That’s the epitome of salvation for the jailer and for us.  “Having believed in God,” (Acts 16:34, NKJV), and have our whole lives turned around.  The jailer may have been the guard on duty that night, but he was the one set free!  For that’s what salvation does for all that come to Him.

What would it have been like?  I think we already know.  The circumstances may be different but the salvation is the same.

In the end, it all worked out.  The jailer may have wondered what tomorrow would bring.  After all, he wouldn’t feel right about locking these men back up, would he?  At the same time, their freedom still meant his death.  The Bible tells us, “When it was day, the magistrates sent officers, saying, ‘Let those men go,’” (Acts 16:35, NKJV).

Could it be that God allowed Paul and Silas to go through all of that to save one soul, one household?  Using pure speculation here, I’d say, “Could be!”  To the reader it would appear so for the Bible doesn’t talk about anyone else making a life changing conversion on that dramatic night.

The jailer may have sighed with relief when hearing the voice call out in the night, but now he really experiences what it feels like to be free.  God spared his life physically (again) and spiritually (forever).

The Bible doesn’t tell us what happened after the jailer received new life.  Does he stay on working as a guard?  Did he give it all up to spread his testimony of what God had done in his life?  We don’t know.  But, what we do know is that like us, his life was never the same again.

Text Free Photo Credit: Pixabay

“Be Empowered!”

be-empowered

“And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness . . . that the power of Christ may rest upon me,” 2 Corinthians 12:9

Oh, that thorn in the flesh syndrome. That persistent thing that seems like it will never be removed from your life. I would venture to say that most people have dealt with or are currently dealing with that one nagging thing that keeps . . . well, nagging you! That one thing that causes us to say, “Lord, if You would just move this one thing from my life, I would be alright.” Thorns are hurtful. They are irritating. And, they get in the way of the one who wants to enjoy the blossom. There is a beautiful rose on the end of the stem, but the thorns hinder the enjoyment, making it hard for one to really take in the beauty thereof up close and personal.

Oftentimes, when one is trying to enjoy the beauty of God’s promises, hurtful things arise. As one tries to draw nearer and nearer to Him, the thorns make it hard to hold on. The thorns “spring up and choke them,” Matthew 13:7. They choke out the way. Nevertheless, despite what our outside circumstances may be telling us, we are taught that we can still live the empowered life. Though we have “infirmities” (and we all do), “grace” is still at work. Grace – that unmerited favor, makes room when our own obstacles get in the way. And God says it is “sufficient.” It is enough.

There is only one man who lived in this world perfectly and that’s our Lord Jesus Christ. The rest of us are surviving off of God’s grace. We depend on it every day though we are undeserving of it. He has empowered us through our Lord Jesus Christ to progress on this journey despite all of our shortcomings. Every obstacle that we face in life is not going to be moved. Oh, how I wish it would be. (Don’t judge me! You know you wish every obstacle you face would be moved, too.) But, what the apostle Paul is teaching us is that we can still succeed in Christ. We can still have a blessed Christian life through His power that “rest upon” us.

Have you ever played tag as a kid? Somebody tried to tag you and get you out, but you gave them the slip and got away. Have you ever in a victorious romp stuck your thumbs in your ears, while waving your fingers and chanting, “Na, Na, Na, boo, boo?” Paul had a victorious romp of his own. After he prayed and realized despite all he was going through the grace of God was still at work in his life – and, that God’s strength was being made perfect in Paul’s weakness, Paul declared, “Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities.” Paul was saying, tag me if you will, but God was working it out for him!

Don’t you love that? Despite it all God is still at work in us and through us. He is perfecting some stuff and we can rejoice with Paul. (Just don’t do the chanting, you are too old for that – tee, hee.) We are not rejoicing because of trouble or hurt, or anything like that. We are rejoicing because we believe in God’s grace, and that allows the power of Christ to rest upon us because we have yielded to Him.

The empowered life is one that yields to Him and recognizes it is His strength being perfected in us. The empowered person can still push forth knowing that God is still at work, even through the hardest of times. “If God be for us, who can be against us?” Romans 8:31. The hurt may not be over but it’s as if God is saying, “I have all you need to make through.”

Talking about empowerment can very easily cause one to divert and take a humanistic view. But, I’ve really strived to keep this God-centered. Everything we need is in Him and when we can really grasp hold of that, then are we truly empowered.

Your Faith Speaks more than Your Words!

My Project 75-001

 

What people witness in your life resounds more than the words that are coming out of your mouth.  Evidence of belief; proof of faith is the visual representation that most want.  Many mistake others as not wanting what we have or not wanting the faith, yet they haven’t seen enough of it in action to provoke them to seek after what we say we have.

So, the old phrase still rings true today: “Seeing is believing.”  To a world lost, who have not hope, they look for a ring of hope they can grab onto to prevent them from drowning in the deep abyss of the darkness of this world.  They want a way out.  Many don’t want to sink deeper into despair, deeper into the unknown where there is no light to guide the way.  They want to see what you say you see.  They want to feel what you say you feel.  They want what you say you have but do they see it currently active in you to propel them from wanting it to seeking it?

Your faith speaks louder than your words.  Paul told the church at Thessalonica, “Your faith toward God has gone out, so that we do not need to say anything,” 1 Thessalonians 1:8b, NKJV.  If necessary I believe Paul would have testified on their behalf, he would have spoken up for them to assure others of their faith.  But, their faith was so active, their faith was so alive and in operation that he didn’t feel a need to speak at all.  Their faith did the talking for them.  Their faith is what people noticed, not the words they spoke from their mouth.

A lot of people do a lot of talking these days and sometimes it’s hard to decipher truth from fiction.  Jesus gave us a key that lines right up with what Paul wrote in his letter.  Jesus said, “Ye shall know them by their fruits,” Matthew 7:16.  If one comes upon a tree that has apples growing upon it then they are to assume it is an apple tree.  The same is true with a life of faith.  What they see coming out of you, or as Paul referred to as “gone out” is what matters the most.  You can say that you are an orange tree but if I see apples then I will classify you as an apple tree.  If you say that you have great faith but all I see is the opposite than I will not view you as having great faith.  I will mark you by what I see.

Your faith matters in this world.  More importantly, your faith on display matters to those around you so much that one should not have to speak up or testify for you, all they should be able to do is look at your faith in action and mark you as a person of faith.

Your faith speaks more than your words!  Be blessed.

“Walk In Grace!”

My Project 228-001

“For by grace are ye saved through faith; and not that of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast,” Ephesians 2:8-9

 

“I don’t deserve it, but Lord I thank You!  I didn’t do anything to earn it, but again, Lord I thank You!”  That’s the feeling the word grace evokes in me.  It’s like walking on the clouds of heaven while here on earth; experiencing release and freedom in all that Christ has secured for me.

Grace is personal.  Though Christ died for all, it has to touch one on a more intimate level.  It takes hold of and absorbs in the spirit of man, this wonderful gift of God.  It allows the one who follows after it to get a glimpse of what it truly may be like in heaven when all the shackles of this earthly bondage are removed.  It is ours, personally and individually, to experience for them that are found in Him.

Isn’t it wonderful – this gift of His?  Isn’t it magnificent that no matter our status in life or how hard we work it can never be earned?  It can never be put in our repertoire of attainments to salvation.  It is a gift!

Gifts are meant to be received.  On a number of occasions my husband and even my daughters have tried to give me something out of the blue.  I’m an at home mom and often these gifts come in the form of money.  While I am very grateful for the consideration that they want to give me something, I wind up doing a lot of questioning to try to ascertain the reason for them wanting to give it in the first place.  I want to know what I did to deserve it.  “Oh, you don’t have to go through such lengths. And, yada, yada, yada . . .”   In turn, what was a thoughtful expression is now tainted by frustration in the giver.  They become frustrated with me for doing so much questioning instead of just receiving; for implying the only reason I am worthy is become of some work I must have done for them.

Human perception of this kind of outpouring of love has been marred by this sinful world.  In it dwells the attitude of “if you do for me, then I’ll do for you.”  “If you scratch my back, then I’ll scratch yours.”  It is hard for one to believe in a motivation of pure love; to believe that one would give just because they love.

Paul laid the truth out for us.  “And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespass and sins; Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience: Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lust of our flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others,” (Ephesians 2:1-3).  We were “by nature children of wrath.”  In other words, we were no good, no goods who deserved absolutely nothing.

Verse 4 steps in and shows the love of God at work.  “But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us.”  He didn’t do it for us because of some great checklist we marked off as job complete, now I deserve this.  His love gave us the gift to receive, “Not of works, lest any man should boast,” (vs. 9).  “That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus,” (vs. 7).

This is one of those lessons that you really have to let the Word speak for itself, lest mankind try to put their own spin on it.  God loves us!  “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life,” (John 3:16).  When we accept that love and are saved through Christ, then we have an opened door to accept the gift of grace along with it.  I depend on His grace daily!  I choose to “WALK IN GRACE” today.  It’s a choice.  Read the entire chapter 2 of Ephesians.  See what you were and what He has made you now.  See where you were, and now where He wants to take you.  Compare what you did to what He has done for you.  Now, CELEBRATE! AND, WALK IN THE GRACE HE GIVES!

 

“Walk In Grace!”

My Project 228-001

“For by grace are ye saved through faith; and not that of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast,” Ephesians 2:8-9

 

“I don’t deserve it, but Lord I thank You!  I didn’t do anything to earn it, but again, Lord I thank You!”  That’s the feeling the word grace evokes in me.  It’s like walking on the clouds of heaven while here on earth; experiencing release and freedom in all that Christ has secured for me.

Grace is personal.  Though Christ died for all, it has to touch one on a more intimate level.  It takes hold of and absorbs in the spirit of man, this wonderful gift of God.  It allows the one who follows after it to get a glimpse of what it truly may be like in heaven when all the shackles of this earthly bondage are removed.  It is ours, personally and individually, to experience for them that are found in Him.

Isn’t it wonderful – this gift of His?  Isn’t it magnificent that no matter our status in life or how hard we work it can never be earned?  It can never be put in our repertoire of attainments to salvation.  It is a gift!

Gifts are meant to be received.  On a number of occasions my husband and even my daughters have tried to give me something out of the blue.  I’m an at home mom and often these gifts come in the form of money.  While I am very grateful for the consideration that they want to give me something, I wind up doing a lot of questioning to try to ascertain the reason for them wanting to give it in the first place.  I want to know what I did to deserve it.  “Oh, you don’t have to go through such lengths. And, yada, yada, yada . . .”   In turn, what was a thoughtful expression is now tainted by frustration in the giver.  They become frustrated with me for doing so much questioning instead of just receiving; for implying the only reason I am worthy is become of some work I must have done for them.

Human perception of this kind of outpouring of love has been marred by this sinful world.  In it dwells the attitude of “if you do for me, then I’ll do for you.”  “If you scratch my back, then I’ll scratch yours.”  It is hard for one to believe in a motivation of pure love; to believe that one would give just because they love.

Paul laid the truth out for us.  “And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespass and sins; Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience: Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lust of our flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others,” (Ephesians 2:1-3).  We were “by nature children of wrath.”  In other words, we were no good, no goods who deserved absolutely nothing.

Verse 4 steps in and shows the love of God at work.  “But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us.”  He didn’t do it for us because of some great checklist we marked off as job complete, now I deserve this.  His love gave us the gift to receive, “Not of works, lest any man should boast,” (vs. 9).  “That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus,” (vs. 7).

This is one of those lessons that you really have to let the Word speak for itself, lest mankind try to put their own spin on it.  God loves us!  “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life,” (John 3:16).  When we accept that love and are saved through Christ, then we have an opened door to accept the gift of grace along with it.  I depend on His grace daily!  I choose to “WALK IN GRACE” today.  It’s a choice.  Read the entire chapter 2 of Ephesians.  See what you were and what He has made you now.  See where you were, and now where He wants to take you.  Compare what you did to what He has done for you.  Now, CELEBRATE! AND, WALK IN THE GRACE HE GIVES!

 

“Your Faith Speaks more than Your Words!”

My Project 75-001

 

What people witness in your life resounds more than the words that are coming out of your mouth.  Evidence of belief; proof of faith is the visual representation that most want.  Many mistake others as not wanting what we have or not wanting the faith, yet they haven’t seen enough of it in action to provoke them to seek after what we say we have.

So, the old phrase still rings true today: “Seeing is believing.”  To a world lost, who have not hope, they look for a ring of hope they can grab onto to prevent them from drowning in the deep abyss of the darkness of this world.  They want a way out.  Many don’t want to sink deeper into despair, deeper into the unknown where there is no light to guide the way.  They want to see what you say you see.  They want to feel what you say you feel.  They want what you say you have but do they see it currently active in you to propel them from wanting it to seeking it?

Your faith speaks louder than your words.  Paul told the church at Thessalonica, “Your faith toward God has gone out, so that we do not need to say anything,” 1 Thessalonians 1:8b, NKJV.  If necessary I believe Paul would have testified on their behalf, he would have spoken up for them to assure others of their faith.  But, their faith was so active, their faith was so alive and in operation that he didn’t feel a need to speak at all.  Their faith did the talking for them.  Their faith is what people noticed, not the words they spoke from their mouth.

A lot of people do a lot of talking these days and sometimes it’s hard to decipher truth from fiction.  Jesus gave us a key that lines right up with what Paul wrote in his letter.  Jesus said, “Ye shall know them by their fruits,” Matthew 7:16.  If one comes upon a tree that has apples growing upon it then they are to assume it is an apple tree.  The same is true with a life of faith.  What they see coming out of you, or as Paul referred to as “gone out” is what matters the most.  You can say that you are an orange tree but if I see apples then I will classify you as an apple tree.  If you say that you have great faith but all I see is the opposite than I will not view you as having great faith.  I will mark you by what I see.

Your faith matters in this world.  More importantly, your faith on display matters to those around you so much that one should not have to speak up or testify for you, all they should be able to do is look at your faith in action and mark you as a person of faith.

Your faith speaks more than your words!  Be blessed.