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As we draw to the close of another year, I like many, have been reflecting on the past year and making plans for the next. As I look back there are areas that I am pleased with and some places that I am not so much. Some areas where I regressed and still more that there have been improvements. I see room to grow. I see how I stunted my growth with bad habits. I see changes that need to be made. I see an opportunity to make a change, to be a new creature.

I read the scripture this morning in 2 Corinthians 5:17,

Therefore is any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.

Many times we liken this change from old to new at first salvation. There is a crisis moment, Jesus comes down, and a change is made. It is used to encourage someone that had experienced much sin and because of God’s grace, Jesus sacrifice, they no longer have to partake in the same activities.

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But today, as I was reflecting on the new year, I saw it as an opportunity. Even as saints of God, we can become a new creature. If we aren’t satisfied with our service to God, our health, our habits, our attitudes, our outreach, our kindness, our relationships, our “fill in the blank”, we can make the change.

We can have a crisis moment in the middle of our salvation. Salvation isn’t stagnate,  it is an evolving status. We can draw closer to God. We can make better choices for our health. We can change our habits and attitudes. We can be more kind and loving. We can forgive. We can improve our relationships… We can change.

This year, starting today, I vow to myself and to God, changes will be made. I am not looking at an easy road ahead. I have some habits to break and new ones to make. I have some flesh to crucify. I am some time to give. I have some reaching out to do. I have some inconvenient love to show. I have some early nights to bed and some early mornings to rise. I have better eating choices to make. I have some physical activity to be endured. I have some better house keeping practices to instill. I have some listening to do. I have some purging of clutter. I have some better time management skills to work on. I have some ground to conquer. I have some victory to gain.

This isn’t just a New Year’s Resolution that is forgotten and unfulfilled, it is a promise. These are goals. I have written many down. And as more come to me, more changes that need to be made, I will write those down to. I am a work in progress, allowing God to mold and shape me into the person he wants me to be.

When I woke this morning I turned to my phone and Bible app to get some thoughts for the day. My app has a daily scripture widget that I subscribe to. Today’s scripture was Psalms 116:1-2. As I read it and the rest of the chapter, I had a marginal relation to the passage. But it was in the past. Before when I cried to the Lord he heard me, but not now. Not that he doesn’t hear me now, but that I was crying to him. It wasn’t a “yes, this is God now” agreement with the scriptures. I read through, thought a bit, went back and read a couple a second time, searching for something to meditate on through the day and nothing really settled. I said a quick prayer for help this day and went on my way. 
This is how it has been lately. A struggle to read and pray, feeling a loss of connection, mostly out of duty even though a desire is there. An overwhelming sleepiness in the morning that hinders an early rise, a couple quick scriptures and prayer as one goes through the daily routine. 

But who can thrive or survive off of crumbs? You can’t physically or spiritually. In all honesty, I have always struggled with getting up early enough in the morning to set aside time for God. I have justified it in many ways over the years. While I have admired those that do and longed for it, the many times I have made a point to change, it only lasts for a short period of time. 

A while back I asked a friend to check on me. To ask how my morning devotions were going. To hold me accountable. I got the question today. I didn’t have a good report. I was honest, they have been awful of my own fault. I thought on it through the day. Why is it so difficult to get up? It’s not like the last broken 30 minutes of sleep are all that great. And while I don’t have a good reason, I can say that I’m ready. 
Ready to set time aside. Ready to deny myself for “just a couple more minutes” . Ready to go deeper. Ready for the victory.  You see, I spent some time tonight with God. I listened to a couple old messages. Words from the past on the man with the line, holding it out there for us to come through. On victory,  knowing the enemy, whose side you are on and why you are fighting. And on the surface these don’t have much to do with devotions, they clarified things in my mind. I went to prayer, I want God to draw out that line and I’m headed to meet it. I’m ready to go step by step deeper until I’m Swimming. I know whose side I am on. I know what he has done for me and I know who,  what and why I am fighting. God is so good. 

So when I read Psalms 116 tonight, it was deep. I could say “yes,  this is God now” I cried unto him and he heard me. He made a way, he listened, he showed mercy,  he forgave, he gave power. From searching for current relevance to a soul amen,  what a difference 16 hours makes. . . 

Psalms 116:1‭-‬19 – I love the Lord , because he hath heard my voice and my supplications.  Because he hath inclined his ear unto me, therefore will I call upon him as long as I live.  The sorrows of death compassed me, and the pains of hell gat hold upon me: I found trouble and sorrow.  Then called I upon the name of the Lord ; O Lord , I beseech thee, deliver my soul.  Gracious is the Lord , and righteous; yea, our God is merciful.  The Lord preserveth the simple: I was brought low, and he helped me.  Return unto thy rest, O my soul; for the Lord hath dealt bountifully with thee.  For thou hast delivered my soul from death, mine eyes from tears, and my feet from falling.  I will walk before the Lord in the land of the living.  I believed, therefore have I spoken: I was greatly afflicted:  I said in my haste, All men are liars.  What shall I render unto the Lord for all his benefits toward me?  I will take the cup of salvation, and call upon the name of the Lord .  I will pay my vows unto the Lord now in the presence of all his people.  Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints.  O Lord , truly I am thy servant; I am thy servant, and the son of thine handmaid: thou hast loosed my bonds.  I will offer to thee the sacrifice of thanksgiving, and will call upon the name of the Lord .  I will pay my vows unto the Lord now in the presence of all his people,  In the courts of the Lord’s house, in the midst of thee, O Jerusalem. Praise ye the Lord .

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At the close of another Annual Fellowship Meeting, I think back on the services and reflect on the gold nuggets that I am taking away from it. I always look forward to this time of year, a time of reflection, a time for a deeper consecration, a renewing in my soul, a fresh touch of desire. But all of this is of no use, unless it is put into practice. It becomes an emotional experience of the past, just a good time, if the challenges aren’t accepted and pursued. This is my desire, that it not be just another great meeting, but that it be a stepping stone that draws me closer to God.

  1. No relationship can survive with out forgiveness.
  2. If you are not willing to constantly forgive, you will become bitter.
  3. Do we want God to forgive us as we forgive others? There is a reason why he says to forgive others as he has forgiven us.
  4. Unforgiveness incarcerates the victim with no effect on the offender.
  5. Who art thou Lord? Daily ask who God is. The answer, I am Jesus, will meet every need, answer every question.
  6. We need to have a for sure knowledge of who he is.
  7. We need the Spirit – to kill the flesh, to pray when we can’t, to be a witness, to quicken the body. We NEED the Spirit.
  8. He rescued me from what could have been my end. Being saved young and not having experienced the vast world of sin, my end could have been a mess, full of heartache and sorrow. He saved me from what could have been.10514-Great-Is-Thy-Faithfulness
  9. He is a faithful Father, and GREAT is his faithfulness to me.
  10. Why should I feel discouraged? When I know that he watches me, just as he watches the sparrow.
  11. We need to be willing to let the spotlight of God shine on us and not always shift the focus to someone else, he that is without sin cast the first stone.
  12. Face your need.
  13. Allow Christ to see your failure. Allow him into the intimate part of your heart, where your hurts are. He will take them and make something great.
  14. Be willing to God with God to places you have never gone before. Go out into the deep.
  15. Be concerned about stagnation. If you aren’t growing, moving up, experiencing more in salvation, if it is no longer a benefit to you, Be very concerned. Seek God.
  16. Don’t bring up the past. Focusing on the past hurts, problems, divisions, will cause you to miss your blessing.
  17. Don’t be afraid when your “child” is dead. Don’t listen to what others say, believe and ask Jesus into the intimate parts of your house, so he can bring healing to your need.
  18. Jesus says, no matter what you have heard, I can do something with this impossible situation.
  19. I’m still HOLDING ON.558309
  20. When God draws the line, it is up to us to measure to it.
  21. God wants to do good, are we willing to let him use us?
  22. We need to be more intimate with God. You need intimacy with him in order to bring forth new converts.

A long list. A lot to remember. But changes don’t have to happen over night. We do what we have known to do. Take additional time in prayer and devotion. Be quick and willing to forgive the little slights each day. Open our mouth and let God fill it.

God help us, help me, to be your child. To hear AND obey.

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

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