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The thought tonight in class was our Personal Theology Statement. What/who is God to you? Not what the Church thinks, not what the Bible says, but your very own personal study of God statement.

Salvation is a personal thing and in order to be successful we have to keep it personal. We can’t change our focus to what others are doing or how they think of us. We need only be concerned about the connection between us and God. With this connection sure, we can then be a conduit by which others can be helped.558309

So what is in a Personal Theology Statement (PTS).
1. Who is God to me?
2. What is God to me?
3. What am I willing to do for him?
4. Thanksgiving and Praise
These are just some of the points this statement might cover. It would also include his help in the most difficult times. It speaks of responsibility and promises made to him. It is fluid and relevant to your current condition with God. The longer one serves God, the deeper and more revealing their Personal Theology Statement is.

As I drove home from service and went on a walk with my dog, I meditated on my PTS. What is God to me? Who is he? What has he done? What am I willing to do for him? How is my gratitude? This is what came out as I began to write.

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My God is…
Hope in the dark
Peace in the unknown
Joy in the daily tasks
The bearer of burdens
An unending supply of strength
All Loving.
He fills the voids were sorrow grows with hope.
Master Healer.
Worth of my confidence
Fulfiller of dreams,
He satisfies all needs.
Ever present.
Guides each step of my path and I carefully follow his lead.
From the depths of my being I seek him and he is always to be found.
When I don’t know why, he is the answer.
The praise of my soul rises to him.
In daily thanksgiving I see his beauty in the colors of the grass and the clouds across the sky.
He is wind.
A breath.
Life.
He is a rock when the waves rage.
Provides rest in the busy of life.
Proves peace is the perfect way.
God is worth waiting on.
I will wait without complaining and with joy for his light to move upon my path.
He overwhelms me, my fears, my desires
I choose to accept his way in contentment even when I can’t understand.
Beyond merciful when I have failed.
A Faithful friend.
Collector of tears, calming the storm of disappointment and loss, he gives grace and hope to go face the world and go another day.
My motivation.
My first thought when I wake, and the last as I finish my day.
He is my ALL.

I am sure this isn’t all and more will come in time. On my walk as I was listing off each thing God is to me and my promises to him tears of thankfulness and praise ran down my face. I was and am overwhelmed by the greatness of God.

girl-backpack-thinking-sunset-field-fence-What is your PTS? While it might be similar, and you might be able to relate, this isn’t your PTS. Take a minute. Think on this. Ask yourself “Who is God to me? What has he done? What will you do for him? Offer him Thanksgiving and praise.” Join in the Personal Theology Statement Project, share what God is to you. Maybe it will encourage someone to know this God in a personal way.

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I started this blog several years ago, writing and sharing my personal studies, thoughts, conversations with God. As the years went by I fell out of the habit, I didn’t take the time to stop and write. In looking back, I see that my personal study time suffered as well. Yes I continued to read and pray, to spend time with God, but all to often it was on the go, just a scripture here or there and not unmeasured time in communion with him. I recognize that I often used the excuse that I talked to God all day long. That I wasn’t missing out. But while talking to God throughout the day is fantastic and necessary, so is time set aside to study and meditate. I suffered, my walk with God wasn’t always as it should have been. It wasn’t the writing, that is a by product of the study. It was missing the time alone spent in communion with Him that put a strain on my relationship with him.

20160116_092509When I started the blog, my burden was to write anonymously. If someone I knew came across it, their opinion of me wouldn’t taint the words. I wanted God to be able to use the words to edify with out my name label. There is a certain freedom in writing anonymously. You can share personal things with out feeling stripped bare for the whole world to see. If you put your name to your words, you claim the hurt, the failure, the loss… Recently I have been impressed to write again, only to claim my words, to put myself out there, to tell my story. While it is humbling, how can I personally be a blessing if I don’t share who I am? And as I write these words, it comes to me that in claiming my words, that I am not only claiming the hurts and failures, but also the victories, the promises of God, the innumerable blessings that he has bestowed upon me. For to tell my Story, is to tell of Him.

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My name is Emily Susanne Crain. (There, I said it) I am the youngest of 5 children, born and raised at the Church of God in Carmichael. I always had a tender heart. I have been told I was easily intreated as a child. I don’t remember ever wanting to go experience the world of sin. But that doesn’t automatically buy me a ticket into heaven. I had to have an encounter with God for myself. I remember always wanting to have the last word in an argument, getting frustrated and angry when I wasn’t heard, that contentious sprit rise up when I didn’t get my way. I don’t remember outwardly showing this, but keeping it inside. And that can eat at a person.

When I was eight years old, there was a little skit during the Tuesday night Bible Story calvin-susieTime. It depicted 2 brothers that were saving money to buy a radio. Once this task had been accomplished and they brought it home, they argued greatly of where it should go. While such a simple lesson, it spoke to me. I sounded like that. Always wanting my way, always having to have the last word, to be right and that was UGLY. I knew God couldn’t be pleased with that. That night in October, I repented and gave my life to God. I was young, I didn’t know how to serve God and didn’t fully understand what I had just done. Through the years I have failed him, I haven’t always made the right decisions, sometimes even multiple times. But after each stumble, each trip and fall, I always got right back up, repented to make things right with God and continued on.

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Even in my sometimes foolishness, my desire has never been to leave God. I want to make it to heaven. And while God would never want me to fail, He has worked those failures for my good. For in those time I have personally recognized the greatness of God’s mercy and faithfulness. He is so good to those that have a deep desire to serve him. As the minister stated during the revival a week ago, if there is one solitary ounce of fiber in our being that cries out to God, he will not fail us or depart. 3938259119_ba1b6492af_z

He won’t quench that smoking flax, but he will fan the flame. He won’t break the bruised reed, he will splint and nourish it. God is not willing than any would perish, that any includes me, and I am SO thankful for that.

The song, “My Story” sung by Big Daddy Weave has been on my mind lately, he sings my story, my life, for it is Jesus that makes my Story what it is.

IMG_6357My Story

If I told you my story
You would hear Hope that wouldn’t let go
And if I told you my story
You would hear Love that never gave up
And if I told you my story
You would hear Life, but it wasn’t mine

If I should speak then let it be
Of the grace that is greater than all my sin
Of when justice was served and where mercy wins
Of the kindness of Jesus that draws me in
Oh to tell you my story is to tell of Him

If I told you my story
You would hear victory over the enemy
And if I told you my story
You would hear freedom that was won for me
And if I told you my story
You would hear Life overcome the grave

If I should speak then let it be
Of the grace that is greater than all my sin
Of when justice was served and where mercy wins
Of the kindness of Jesus that draws me in
Oh to tell you my story is to tell of Him

This is my story, this is my song
Praising my savior all the day long
This is my story, this is my song
Praising my savior all the day long

For the grace that is greater than all my sin
Of when justice was served and where mercy wins
Of the kindness of Jesus that draws me in
Oh to tell you my story is to tell
For the grace that is greater than all my sin
Of when justice was served and where mercy wins
Of the kindness of Jesus that draws me in
Oh to tell you my story is to tell of Him
Oh to tell you my story is to tell of Him

This is my story, this is my song
Praising my savior all the day long

I was troubled this morning by a poor decision I made recently. I have struggled with this situation for quite a while. My heart’s desire has always been to please God and to keep things right. However, I have learned where my weakness is and the devil knows it also. He knows just where to push, just where to deceive to make it not seem as bad as it is, just when we feel vulnerable and weak. And too many times I have not leaned upon God’s strength to resist and overcome. I have tried to handle it on my own. You would think that I would have learned by now…and I am learning.

This morning in my prayer to draw closer to God, needing his strength to gain and keep the victory, wanting more of him, knowing it is only through God’s strength that I can move forward. As I was praying, I heard, “Seek my Face.” From the bottom of my heart, I said, “THY face Lord I seek.” I need to see you. I need to know you have the strength for me. I need to get the victory. I am done. I am tired of leaning on myself when I know your help is right there. I seek your face. I look for it. I meditate on it. I worship it. For in finding your face, the decisions will already be made when faced with the temptation, the victory will already be won before the battle is waged.

Psalms 27: 1, 7-9, 11, 13-14

The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? the Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?

 Hear, O Lord, when I cry with my voice: have mercy also upon me, and answer me.

When thou saidst, Seek ye my face; my heart said unto thee, Thy face, Lord, will I seek.

Hide not thy face far from me; put not thy servant away in anger: thou hast been my help; leave me not, neither forsake me, O God of my salvation.

Teach me thy way, O Lord, and lead me in a plain path, because of mine enemies.

I had fainted, unless I had believed to see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.

Wait on the Lord: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the Lord.

I sit at work today trying to hold back the tears that come with the beginning of learning, opening and accepting the many gifts that God has given.

I am listening to One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp. My mom and sisters follow her blog A Holy Experience. I have read some of her posts but have never been good about sitting down to read or follow blogs. A couple months ago, my sisters took up the challenge that Ann has proposed of making a list of 1000 things that they are thankful for. I thought I can do that, I have been writing my thankfuls down for years. In fact thinking on it now, I probably have thousands of things written in my thankful notebooks.

I began my list.

1. To be Challenged
2. Motrin – I got strep throat this week
3. Hot tea
4. Walks on brisk mornings
5. Flowers

To me it wasn’t any different than any other list, I would just continue the numbers instead of beginning at 1 every night. As I said writing my thankfuls was not new to me. My mom gave me a thankful book probably 15 years ago with the admonition that thankfulness and discontent cannot live together. I was faithful for much of that time to write 5 things I was thankful for each night. I still write them, only now it is on Facebook. I had the concept of thankfulness. I would be grateful for the good things and even those that brought me grief. At the end of the day I would read my Bible, pull out my notebook, find my place, and write the date and 5 things I was thankful for that day. I would close the book and be done. I didn’t put much more thought into it. I would be thankful for things through out the day in my mind and was thankful for all things, but didn’t really appreciate ALL the things and accept them as gifts of love to me from God.

As Ann’s voice is reading the words of her book through my headphones, I pull a piece of scratch paper close and begin a list.

1. The crunch of apples
2. The arrow of a mouse on the computer
3. Quesedillas full of cheese, chicken, and chopped bellpepper and onions
4. Ice Makers
5. Coke fountain drink machines
6. Rain trails on the windows

In naming each thing, I am seeing and receiving the gift. I am being thankful for that moment. In One Thousand Gifts, Ann describes her journey of being full of grace and living fully. It took hold with her list. Through her list of gratitude, she was able to live fully with joy in each moment. As I began to acknowledge each moment, each gift, my heart began to over flow with joy and gratitude to the big God that loves little me. I cannot tell you how many times I had to swallow back the tears and blow my nose so that I could continue work.

I begin to think on my life and the things that I have taken for granted in my thankfulness. And I thought of my house. A number has been put on the days that we have left in the house, and I could no longer wait. I thought of all the times we have had in the house, the flowers in the yard, the parties, the memories. It has been a good 14 years. I had to make a list, I wanted to picture so that I could remember. I don’t plan to forget, but I want to be able to think back to the wood piles, the rack of rain boots in all sizes, the bird houses in the trees, the creek and the green garage door.

I continue my list…and in the naming of the gift, I receive it and am filled with Joy and Grace to overflowing.

This world is full of religion. You can find a religion that will fit your needs and make you feel good. But what exactly are they offering you? Do they teach the Word of God? Is a change of heart a requirement for the promise of salvation? Is every level of hierarchy with in those religions built on honesty and truth?

From what I have seen of religion today offers nothing but a false hope, a half truth and hypocrisy. This practice in man made religion has been going on for years. In fact, Jesus preached about it. At that time it was the Scribes and Pharisees that were doing a disservice to those that wanted to seek God. In Matthew 23 Christ brings judgment to those that require acts from the people and not themselves. To those that are more concerned with the “law” than a heart change. To those that are busy about works that make them appear to be righteous but are not sincere in their hearts. He concludes this message with verse 23; “Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone.” The scribes and Pharisees in Bible times were more concerned with acting like a follower of Christ than being one from the heart, as many religious leaders are today. God requires us to pay more attention to the “weightier matters of the law” those that are most important, judgment, mercy and faith.

In my observation of religion I have seen that many have two of the three. Some have mercy and faith. They preach that God is love and will forgive anything as long as you believe. That you can’t live with out sin, but God is merciful just say “I Believe”. Others are full of judgment, have strict creeds that, and are stingy with mercy. There is any combination that can be made. But if you don’t have all three, you don’t have the complete truth that God has for you. The three principles, judgment, mercy and faith all work together and the result is beautiful.

In order to receive mercy through faith, one has to experience judgment. How can you ask for forgiveness if you have done nothing wrong? Romans 3:23 reads “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;” Each and every one of us has committed sin. What is sin? Sin is a transgression against God’s law, something that we know is wrong but do it anyways (1 John 3:4) or something that we know we need to do, but we don’t do it. (James 4:17) The Bible tells us that we are all sinners and that God is not pleased with this. Romans 6:1 asks “What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound?” the answer in verse 2 is “God forbid.” His plan for us is that we live in communion with him. We cannot do this if sin remains in our life. So judgment comes through the acknowledgement of sin and the need to seek forgiveness or mercy for them. If we fail to do this and continue living in sin, we have a reward, and that is hell. (Psalms 9:16-17) But let’s not forget God’s perfect plan. He does offer mercy to those that seek his forgiveness for their sins. God sent his son, the ultimate sacrifice so that we could live with out sin. In Matthew 1:21 the Bible states that Jesus came to save his people FROM their sins, not to save them while they continue IN their sins. All we have to do to receive this mercy is to confess our sins. (1 John 1:9) It is hard to say that we are wrong and to say sorry, but God loves a humble heart and will draw them close. Once we have been forgiven it is up to us to choose to live sin free every day. Sin is a choice as we discussed earlier and it is with God’s mercy and grace that we are able to choose to follow him in righteousness. We have a responsibility to keep a tight hold on our salvation, 1 John 5:18 “We know that whosoever is born of God sinneth not; but he that is begotten of God keepeth himself, and that wicked one toucheth him not.” We are born into God’s family when we have sought forgiveness and received it; we then need to keep ourselves so that the enemy of our souls will have no power over us. Now where is faith in all of this? Ephesians 2:8-9 reads “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.” We do need to have faith to believe that God can and will save us. That he will keep his promises. Through the power of salvation in us and his presence through the Holy Spirit, we can live each day in a manner pleasing to him. We will not make it to heaven just by doing good things, we cannot save ourselves. We need to accept the blood of Jesus as a payment for our sins and though God’s mercy continue our life with out sin. Our salvation is a work that only God can perform in our lives. It is only when we have acknowledged the judgment of sin and sought mercy through faith that we are able to live as God would have us to, holy, sin free, and in communion with him.

Through all of this we can see that we must have all three, judgment, mercy and faith to live according to God’s plan for his people. Be honest with your self and with God. Don’t be content with just a religious belief, search for a true relationship with God. Seek the truth where ever you go and God will be faithful to bring you to it. It is his desire that you find the truth.

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