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Last night, during Bible Study, we continued in Jonah, a deeper look into Chapter 2. In class, these scriptures were compared to a soul in sin. How lost and desperate they are for help. Their search for God, that spark of hope, the surrender to him and their deliverance.

But this wasn’t my experience. I made the decision at a young age and throughout time to serve God. I wasn’t bound and miserable in sin. I was 8 years old.MEDION DIGITAL CAMERA

To me, this passage resembled a saint, overwhelmed by life, in the depths of grief, going through a valley, a time where you can’t feel God, a season of waiting, a trial of faith, CRYING out to God. Looking to him to him for help. Through the discussion and thought it struck me that, with slight alteration (removing the part about the fish’s belly and being spit up on dry land) it could be relocated to the Psalms. It reads:

Jonah 2: Then Jonah prayed unto the Lord his God out of the fish’s belly,out-of-the-depths

 And said, I cried by reason of mine affliction unto the Lord, and he heard me; out of the belly of hell cried I, and thou heardest my voice.

 For thou hadst cast me into the deep, in the midst of the seas; and the floods compassed me about: all thy billows and thy waves passed over me.

mountains Then I said, I am cast out of thy sight; yet I will look again toward thy holy temple.

 The waters compassed me about, even to the soul: the depth closed me round about, the weeds were wrapped about my head.

I went down to the bottoms of the mountains; the earth with her bars was about me for ever: yet hast thou brought up my life from corruption, O Lord my God.

hope When my soul fainted within me I remembered the Lord: and my prayer came in unto thee, into thine holy temple.

 They that observe lying vanities forsake their own mercy.

 But I will sacrifice unto thee with the voice of thanksgiving; I will pay that that I have vowed. Salvation is of the Lord.how-to-increase-the-value-of-your-relationships-22-638

 And the Lord spake unto the fish, and it vomited out Jonah upon the dry land.

I wonder if Jonah read the Psalms, if the words of David resonated with him as he searched his soul, as he desperately went before God, taking responsibility for his actions, and agreeing to follow through with his vow. His purpose of fulfilling God’s will for Nineveh.

Last week, out of the depths of my soul, I cried unto the Lord. I was overwhelmed and felt like I was drowning. I recognized that I could not continue on my own strength. I did not have that ability. Through a scripture, a reminder to rely on God’s strength, his help through the day, gave me something to hold on to. A hope that this is for a reason, that it won’t be forever, that his strength and grace are ALWAYS sufficient. christ-strengthens-me

I have had this song on my heart the past week. As I have begun to name the moments of thanksgiving, of acknowledging God in each thing, the question came to me; is it any wonder that I love Him? After all God has done for me, the moments of blessings, the over flowing grace, the daily mercies, the gentle rebukes. How can I not love Him?

Is It Any Wonder?

When I think how Jesus loved me
How he waited patiently
Even when I turned my back and walked away.
When he knew I wanted everything this world could offer me,
Then I guess he knew the price I’d have to pay.
So he watched me stumble downward,
Saw each compromise I made,
Heard each lie I whispered just to get my way.
Still he waited there to hear me
When I cried to Him and prayed
Then He saved my soul and that is why I say

Tell me, is it any wonder that I love Him
When you consider all He’s done for me?
And is it any wonder that I want to do His will
And let His light shine out for all to see?
And is it any wonder that I praise him
Each time I think of how He’s set me free?
And is it any wonder that I’ve given Him my heart,
When Jesus freely gave His life for me?

When I think how Jesus loves me,
How He watches patiently
How His arms are stretched to meet me when I run
When I’m feeling down and lonely,
How He’s there to comfort me.
In the darkness He becomes my morning sun
When I think of how He’s healed me,
How He’s touched me in my pain
How his gentle hand have whipped my tears away
How He’s taken every heartache and brought happiness again
Then I want the world to hear me when I say:

Tell me, is it any wonder that I love Him
When you consider all He’s done for me?
And is it any wonder that I want to do His will
And let His light shine out for all to see?
And is it any wonder that I praise him
Each time I think of how He’s set me free?
And is it any wonder that I’ve given Him my heart,
When Jesus freely gave His life for me?

God is so real and I can’t help but express my love for him.

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.

I don’t know who compiled this, but I though it was pretty awesome and wanted to share it.

What an awesome and orderly God!

God’s accuracy may be observed in the hatching of eggs.

For example :
-the eggs of the potato bug hatch in 7 days;
-those of the canary in 14 days;
-those of the barnyard hen in 21 days ;
-The eggs of ducks and geese hatch in 28 days;
-those of the mallard in 35 days ;
-The eggs of the parrot and the ostrich hatch in 42 days.
(Notice, they are all divisible by seven , the number of days in a week!)

The lives of each of you may be ordered by the Lord in a beautiful way for His glory, if you will only entrust Him with your life. If you try to regulate your own life, it will only be a mess and a failure. Only the One who made the brain and the heart can successfully guide them to a profitable end.

God’s wisdom is seen in the making of an elephant. The four legs of this great beast all bend forward in the same direction. No other quadruped is so made. God planned that this animal would have a huge body, too large to live on two legs. For this reason He gave it four fulcrums so that it can rise from the ground easily.

The horse rises from the ground on its two front legs first. A cow rises from the ground with its two hind legs first. How wise the Lord is in all His works of creation!

God’s wisdom is revealed in His arrangement of sections and segments, as well as in the number of grains.

-Each watermelon has an even number of strips on the rind.
-Each orange has an even number of segments.
-Each ear of corn has an even number of rows.
-Each stalk of wheat has an even number of grains.
-Every bunch of bananas has on its lowest row an even number of bananas, and each row decreases by one, so that one row has an even number and the next row an odd number.
-The waves of the sea roll in on shore twenty-six to the minute in all kinds of weather.

All grains are found in even numbers on the stalks, and the Lord specified thirty fold, sixty fold, and a hundredfold – all even numbers.

God has caused the flowers to blossom at certain specified times during the day, so that Linnaeus, the great botanist, once said that if he had a conservatory containing the right kind of soil, moisture and temperature, he could tell the time of day or night by the flowers that were open and those that were closed!

Thus the Lord in His wonderful grace can arrange the life that is entrusted to His care in such a way that it will carry out His purposes and plans, and will be fragrant with His presence.

Only the God-planned safe life is successful. Only the life given over to the care of the Lord is fulfilled.

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