A Little Something About Grace

It’s been awhile since my last post. Busy would be the word to describe my life lately. My oldest son graduates from elementary school this year and I graduate from grad school this year. Between the both of us, there has been a lot going on.

However, during my spare time I have been able to read. I always make time to read. The book that I am currently reading is Transforming Grace: Living Confidently In God’s Unfailing Love by Jerry Bridges. Somewhere along the way, I began to believe the lie that God’s grace wasn’t enough to save me. I had to do, do, do in order to earn my spot in Heaven. Bridges’ book has helped me see how faulty that thinking really is.

I am learning that God does not save us by grace as we are taught in Ephesians 2:8 and then expects us to figure the rest out on our own. Rather, grace is what carries us through each day of our lives until we draw our last breaths. The more I realize this the more I want to share this good news with others.

Here’s an excerpt from Transforming Grace that I pray you will read and consider:

We know we sin daily, in fact many times a day. Even as Christians our best efforts are still marred with imperfect performance and impure motives. But God no longer ‘sees’ either our deliberate disobedience or our marred performances. Instead he ‘sees’ the righteousness of Christ, which He has already imputed to us.

Blessings,

Linda

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2 Corinthians 5:17

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!” (2 Corinthians 5:17)

This is one of my favorite bible verses. It’s not a long verse but in just 19 words it says so much. I think we all like the idea of being new. I believe this is one of the reasons why so many of us come up with New Year’s resolutions every year: We want to be new. Or better. We know there are parts of our lives that we need to change. This verse teaches us that those who are in Christ are brand new. Once we become Christians we start over. We get a clean slate. As we become obedient to the Word of God and submit ourselves to His lordship, everything about us begins to change: Our thoughts, actions, and the words we say. All the ugly things we did in our former lives are gone! They may creep up from time to time but they are no longer a part of who we are. We are free to be who God intended for us to be all along. Victorious.

 

Most of us know the story of Meshach, Shadrach, and Abednego – the three Jewish exiles who got thrown in the fiery furnace for not bowing down to the Babylonian king’s image of gold. Most of us know the outcome of this story- all three survived! The bible tells us that they came out of the furnace and their bodies were not harmed, nor their hair, or their robes. You couldn’t even smell fire on them! That’s amazing enough but what I find equally amazing is what these guys said to King Nebuchadnezzar before they were thrown in the furnace. The king asked them, “Is it true…that you do not serve my gods or worship the image of gold I have set up?” Check out their reply.

“Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego replied, ‘King Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and he will deliver us from Your Majesty’s hand. But even if he does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.”

Did you catch that? These three men trusted that God could deliver them from this trial, but they were also willing to trust him, even if he didn’t. That says a lot about their faith. We all face trials, especially if we’re Christians. And if you’re like me, you pray that God will deliver you from your trial. But what if he does not? What if the cancer isn’t cured? What if the bills don’t get paid? What if the relationship doesn’t work out? It’s during these moments that our relationship with God has to be more important to us than the outcome of our trials. Also these men were not willing to compromise their belief in God in order to pacify the king. They understood that God alone deserved their full allegiance. Furthermore, we are promised that if we remain faithful to the end we will receive a crown of life (Revelation 2:10 KJV). With all the horrible things going on in our world today, let’s be determined to trust God, even if it doesn’t work out the way we want it to.

I love you all!

Galatians 5:6

“For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision has any value. The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.”

God has been working on my heart lately. I’m the type of person that thinks the more good deeds I’m doing, the more righteous I am. The only problem with that is I never know when I’ve done enough. If my righteousness is based on my good deeds, I must ask the question: When do I know I’ve done enough? If my righteousness is based on my performance, I’ll begin comparing myself to those around me and that always ends in one of two ways: jealously when others are doing better than me or self-righteousness when I think I’m doing better than others.

Our brothers and sisters at Galatia were trying to please God this way. Paul wrote the letter of Galatians during a time when some of the Christians at Galatia wanted to go back to keeping the Law of Moses. Some were teaching that in order to be saved you must obey both the Law of Moses and the Gospel of Christ. Paul told them the ones guilty of this should be under God’s curse! (Gal. 1:9). Jesus’ death on the cross fulfilled the Law of Moses. Now the way we serve God is no longer about keeping a law (“circumcision nor uncircumcision”) but by expressing our faith in Jesus – and what He did – through our love for Him and for others. Doing so frees us from self-centered rule keeping that puts the spotlight on us and equips us to live joy-filled lives that puts the spotlight on Jesus.

I love you all!

lg

Philippans 4:8

Lately, I have noticed that the words I say are not kind. I can be judgmental and can make snappy little comments about people all in the name of sarcasm. I don’t like this about myself. As a Christian (especially!), I think my words should be used with care. Proverbs 18:21 teaches us that “the tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit.” Our words pack a punch, for good or bad. With one word we can build up or tear down. The old adage, sticks and stones may break my bones but words can never hurt me is not true. Not even close. I have been on the receiving end of cruel words and their sting can last a lifetime.

So, where do all these means words come from? Let’s see what Jesus has to say about their source. In Matthew 15:18 and following, Jesus teaches us that our words come from our hearts. If I call someone an ugly name or reply to someone in a condescending way its because those words were stored in my heart first. All sin begins in the heart. Therefore, in order to change what I say, I must change what’s in my heart first. But how? Grab your bibles and flip on over to Philippians 4:8. The apostle Paul teaches us how to develop kind and gracious words:

“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable, if anything is excellent or praiseworthy, think about such things.”

When we change what we think about, our words will follow suit. I hope you will join me next Wednesday as I try to unpack what “true” means in this verse. God bless!

Simon is Six Months Today

Three months ago I was blessed to add the silliest little dog to my family. Simon is a miniature schnauzer and today he turns six months old. From day one we have been the best of friends. He follows me where ever I go. He “helps” me clean house and every evening we take a two mile walk together. He loves toilet paper and hates baths. He “bosses” around our beagle mix, Cooper, and thinks he’s much bigger than he actually is. It’s been such a blessing having him in my life. I have always been a dog lover but this little guy is truly special. I’ll leave you today with this quote in honor of my little buddy:

“A dog is the only thing on earth that loves you more than he loves himself.” (Josh Billings)

Amen,

lg

Today…

Glamorous. Exciting. Exhilarating. What do all these words have in common? They all describe what my day has not been. I woke up at 7. Let the dogs out to do their business. Made coffee. Did my own business. Are you on the edge of your seat yet? Eventually I opened my Bible and read about being a good neighbor in Proverbs. I also read about the good Samaritan in Luke 10 and had to ask myself, would I have stopped to help the man who was attacked by robbers? Or would I have walked on by? I think the key to this story is understanding that Jesus wants us to broaden our definition of neighbor. During this time it was unheard of for a Samaritan to help a Jew. There was a lot of hate between these two groups. What about me? Are there groups of people I wouldn’t help? How do I define neighbor? I thought about these things as I washed dishes and put away towels. How do I define neighbor? How do you?

Read the story for yourself at Luke 10:25-37. Let’s talk about it. I hope you all come back. I love you all! 🙂

Blessings,

Linda

Love Is Sacrifice

I was listening to one of my favorites songs the other day, “Proof of Your Love,” by For King and Country, and part of it says, “love is sacrifice.” If you haven’t heard it, go to youtube and check it out. It’s one of those songs you think about long after you’ve heard it. It’s written on the basis of what is commonly referred to as the “love chapter” in the bible or 1 Corinthians 13. This chapter is a powerful testimony of what love is and what it is not.

Love is patient and kind. It does not envy, boast, and it is not proud. Love does not dishonor others or is easily angered and it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. Love always protects, trusts, hopes, and perseveres. Oh and one more thing, love is not self-seeking. That is the description of love that always sticks out to me in this chapter. Self-seeking could also be classified as selfish. A self-seeking person is a selfish person. This chapter is often read at weddings, understandably so. However, in it’s context it was written to a church.

Paul was explaining to the church at Corinth that no matter what religious activities they could perform, without love for others those activities are useless. I may go to church services every Sunday, serve at a homeless shelter on Fridays, and read my bible every night but if all those things are not motivated by love, Paul says here that I am nothing. Without love as my motive, I am only doing those things to promote my self. And love is not self-seeking. Love in it’s purest form delights in putting others first. This kind of love causes change. True love, godly love, asks the question, “What can I do for you?” and then does it. Love is sacrifice.

-lg

A New Change of Clothes

Fall is here. I can already see a change in the leaves and I can feel the crispness in the air. Ah, I love it. It’s time for warm jacket and boots. Admittedly, I don’t change wardrobes with the seasons. With the exceptions of a few sweaters, I tend to wear my clothes year round. After all, pajamas are always in season, right? However there is a wardrobe that I am always working on but you can’t buy it at the store. This clothing is available for all those who have put their trust in God and in the redemptive work of the cross. You can read about it in Colossians 3:12. In this closet you will find: compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Men and women alike can wear these garments and they are always in style. If you want to know more about the Designer, I’ll be happy to point Him out for you. He’s got your size.

The Wish Maker

“You just don’t want me to be happy!” I’ve heard so many kids say these very words. Mine have said them. Recently. My response? “No I don’t.” Can you imagine the look I got in return? Now before you conclude that I am a horrible mother, let me continue. I went onto say, “I am not here to ensure your happiness. I am here to raise you up to be a good man.” I still got a dirty look but we both lived to see the next day. Life carried on.

It’s my belief that we look at God in much the same way- we present him with a list of wants and expect him to accommodate our every desire. I mean after all it does say in Psalm 37 verse 4 to “Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.” Much like with our own kids, however, God’s main objective with us it not to make us happy. God does not exist in order for us to have everything we want. We skip over the first part of the verse above and zero in on the second part of. If we actually seek to “take delight in the Lord,” then our desires will be His desires and those are the desires we will receive from him. Why? Because oftentimes the desires we want are riddled with selfishness and God knows that is not what is best for us. Good parents understand this principle- if we give into our children every time they want something, we’ll reap a spoiled child who will grow up to be an entitled adult. And my friends that is a person no one wants to be around.

God is not a wish maker. As a Christian it’s my sole purpose to become more like his Son. I do not create a Jesus of my own liking. Trust me, that’s the only way to ever be truly happy.