It's All Grace

Amazing things can happen when you allow the Lord to work in your life.

Bike Ride Anyone?

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“Strength and honour are her clothing; and she shall rejoice in time to come.  She openeth her mouth with wisdom; and in her tongue is the law of kindness.”  Proverbs 31: 25-26

That big zero on the end of my age is closer than I care for it to be.  After finishing an hour and forty-five minute bike ride with my family yesterday, I’m feeling a little rough this morning.  It’s been about 14 years since I’ve done such a thing to that degree – AND THERE IS A WORLD OF DIFFERENCE!

There are those that will tease you about being over-the-hill and say that the best of life is gone.  I chuckle as I hear these statements when I wonder just what the Lord has in store for me in the days and years ahead.  How can HE use me during this phase of my life?  I have no fear of growing older, for life is out there for us to enjoy.

I am thankful for the time HE has given me to enjoy what this life has to offer: time with my kids doing the things they enjoy, reading HIS Word and finding new treasures each day, extending the love of God to those who do not know Christ, etc.

I will not be poured into an ancient mold.  I may be growing older, but I refuse to act old.  “Old age” is an attitude and I’m determined to live life abundantly through HIS joy and HIS strength.

On my bike ride I noticed the trees with their scars and bumps.  Their branches reflect HIS sunlight and reach towards the heaven praising God.  Those same trees have survived many of life’s storms, just like me!

I thank the Lord for the reminders HE gives me every day of the abundant life HE has for me, even still as I approach the sunset years of my life – aching from lengthy bike rides with kids who represent small trees full of spunk and vigor.

” . . . I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.”  John 10:10

Thank YOU Lord for showing me that although I am very sore from riding a variety of bikes (even the ones that were built for small children) that I am still able to crawl out of bed and lift my voice praising YOU!

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By Their Fruits

Is the fruit on your tree rotting or inviting?

Just yesterday morning my daughter Olivia and I laughed and enjoyed our day as we traipsed through the muck and mire of Math!  A subject I love and one she dreads due to frustrations in the past of not understanding as well as my ability to explain in a way that “her” brain could understand.  I have spent many months homeschooling in my own strength.  However, the Lord has given me insight, grace and  patience needed to continue marching through the pages of life and Math, while showing love, laughing and building memories and demonstrating the joy of Christ we can have through and in every event in life – even math!  Praise the Lord His mercies are new every morning and HIS grace is sufficient!

How long do you need to teach your children at home before you “officially” become a homeschool family?  Like the tests that evaluate a child’s academic performance, you can assume homeschooling has arrived at your house when the following are true:

You have more books in your house than groceries.

Your children show up for school in their pajamas.

Your house décor consists of time lines, maps, assorted craft projects, and half-finished science experiments.

Your trips to the library require a laundry basket to hold all the books.

Your refrigerator is perpetually covered in art projects and completed assignments.

Your children think reading history is best achieved while lying on your bed with the family cats.

Your kitchen pantry holds more school supplies than cooking supplies.

Your children’s favorite classmates are their siblings.

Christians, too, have distinct marks that help us gauge whether we are growing more like Christ.  In Galatians 5:22 we read of fruits that should be displayed if we are truly following the Lord — love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and temperance.  As these fruits become more evident in our lives, we can trust the Holy Spirit is working to conform us to the image of Christ (Romans 8:29).

What about your life? Is there fruit that proves you’re a follower of Jesus? “Ye shall know them by their fruits” (Matthew 7:16a).

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Wasn’t It Smart of God To:

Make rain fall in little drops instead of one big one.

Put our feet as far as possible from our noses.

Give a new dad 9 months to prepare for how much his life with drastically change.

Give us hips to use as baby rests.

Give us lips so when we kiss we don’t bang our teeth together.

Give us 32 teeth so if we lose a few we still have some to chew with.

Give us gnats to test our patience and tongue control.

Wasn’t it smart of God to:  Design light and objects to make shadows.  (Otherwise there would be no sundials, no hand shades for the eyes, and no relief from the blazing sun under the trees and behind large rocks.  And we wouldn’t understand these beautiful and comforting words:  “He that dwelleth in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.”  Psalm 91:1)

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Is That Sand Under Your Feet?

Have you thought about the 30 years that John the Baptist lived in the desert?  IN the desert was where God was preparing John to meet the Lord face to face!  And we whine because HE leaves US in the desert for a month or two!  God has a purpose in each one of our lives.  The purpose is different, because of what HE has called us to endure.

Sometimes a lot of the wear and tear on our lives is from fighting the circumstances that God has allowed to come into our lives.  Sometimes it’s in the desert where God will give you glimpses of HIS hand and HIS heart that you could not have had anywhere else!

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What to Do When You’re Going Under

Devotion by Pastor James MacDonald – too good not to share!

And Peter answered him, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” He said, “Come.” So Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water and came to Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid, and beginning to sink he cried out, “Lord, save me.” Jesus immediately reached out his hand and took hold of him, saying to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” 

—Matthew 14:28-31

There’s nothing quite like a familiar and confident voice in a dark place saying, “I’m here. There’s no reason to be scared.” It doesn’t matter if you are 4 or 44. It doesn’t matter how many times you been in a dark and unpredictable situation. Hearing that voice can be the difference between sinking and safety.

Matthew 14:22–33 describes a night crossing when the disciples got caught in a storm on the Sea of Galilee. Jesus had sent them ahead in the boat alone. Interestingly, about half of the disciples were fishermen. They knew how dangerous the lake could be. It’s hard to figure out who was more afraid, those who knew what could happen or those who were wondering what would happen. Either way, there was a boatload of nervous guys out on the water in the dark.

Then, as the wind and the waves threatened to take them under, Jesus walked by—on the water! Without a flashlight on board, all they could see was a dim figure making His way through the swells toward the boat. They immediately forgot about the storm in their terror over the ghost! The disciples “cried out in fear. But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, ‘Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid’”(vv.26–27).

Peter said to him, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water” (v.28). I love this about Peter. He concluded, If Jesus says I can walk on water, I can walk on water. As usual, Peter’s mouth and actions were about ten seconds ahead of his brain. But Jesus said, “Come,” and over the side went Peter. Imagine his wonder when the water held him up—like a kid playing on a waterbed.“But when he saw the wind, he was afraid, and beginning to sink he cried out, ‘Lord, save me’” (vv.29–30).

Aw, Peter! You were doing so well—what happened? Here’s what happened: he took his eyes off the Lord. He forgot the reason why he could walk among the waves.

Does that ever happen to you? When your eyes were on the Lord, life was good no matter what was going on around you. But the moment you become focused on the wind and waves, you started to sink.

Where are your eyes today?

If you’re going under, it’s because you’ve been looking at the waves (like your health or the pitch and roll of your retirement funds). You’ve been listening to the howling wind (like the constant voices of doom and gloom in our society). You have been taking your cues from what others are saying or the way they are acting instead keeping your mind stayed on Christ (Isaiah 26:3). But you can do better! When things look bad you don’t have to conclude that they will remain bad; instead you can be watching for Christ to show up!

And if you do get distracted and start to sink, it’s time to call out like Peter, “Lord, save me!” The Savior will always rescue you.

Pray:     Lord, it bothers me that every storm feels like the first time I’ve been out on the water. Why can’t I do better at remembering all the other times You have been faithful? Why do I so easily forget Your constant demonstrations of care? Forgive the way I’m prone to wander. Forgive my effortless distractions. Thank You for being equally patient with me as You are faithful to me. Continue to guide me toward greater faithfulness on my part. I know I’m doing better than I did even a year ago. Thank You! In Jesus’ name, amen.

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Nag . . . Nag . . . Nag

As a woman, are you a living testimony or a living nag?  Many times we “nag” and believe we are just repeatedly “asking”.

God created men and women “not wrong but different”.  Different in the ways we perceive what is being said, as well as hundreds of other ways we are different.

How many things around the house would get done if we only asked once and not 5 or 6 times?  How many men would have come to Christ had they not been nagged?  Nagging is NOT a spiritual gift. OUCH!

Inviting them to church instead of nagging them has a much greater success rate.  My husband has a pasture full of nags – he doesn’t need one at home!

May you be challenged today each time you open your mouth to your husband.

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Crossed the Jordan Lately?

As I was sharing with a young women recently about the importance of obedience and faith and how they work together, and that obedience brings blessings, I was reminded of the story in Joshua Chapter 3, as the children of Israel crossed the Jordan River at a point when the river was out of its banks and was 30 miles wide!

Because I am an inquisitive person, I have to wonder how deep was the river?  How many miles of Israelites were waiting to go across?  How many had their eyes on the water wondering when it would come down and how many had their eyes on the ark of God?  How many rushed to the front of the line excited to see the Lord at work, while those of little faith moved to the back to wait and see how many drowned before they decided if they would cross?  Just a few thoughts that ran through my mind as I studied this.

It wasn’t UNTIL the feet of the priests (who went before them carrying the ark of God) dipped into the edge of the waters, that the waters quit flowing — rising up in one heap, where the children of Israel could cross through the Jordan River walking on dry ground.  While crossing . . .  the ark of the covenant of the Lord, stood on dry ground in the middle of the Jordan until ALL the nation had finished crossing the Jordan.

What can we learn from this?

God will go before us — We must step out in faith, THEN God will show HIMSELF mightily — The waters did NOT part UNTIL the priest stepped into the edge of the water.  This took faith — God will not ask us to trust HIM, then abandon us — Obedience brings blessings and works alongside faith — God cares enough about us to give examples ALL throughout the scriptures that tell us how to live daily — It is the duty of the parents to tell our children the words and works of God, so that they may be trained up in the way they should go, keeping their eyes on God — The Lord Himself remained in the place of danger until all Israel had crossed the Jordan.

The part I love is in Chapter 4 of Joshua where God told them to take up stones and put them at the lodging place on the “other side” of the Jordan.  Where did the stones come from?  God told them to take the stones OUT OF THE BOTTOM OF THE RIVER where the priests feet stood!  Those stones were to be a memorial — a reminder of what God did!  He provided them an opportunity to tell their children (and show them) what God did — passing the torch of faith while demonstrating and explaining with excitement that God is FAITHFUL and can be trusted!!!

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God Will Not Drag You

God is not trying to drag you into a “run” . . . He is teaching you to walk with HIM. He didn’t drag the Israelites kicking and screaming. He told them to “move their feet”, teaching them to “walk WITH Him”. He will do the same for you, if you will allow HIM. Exodus 14:13-15

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God is God

God can do what HE says HE can do . . . precisely because HE IS WHO HE SAYS HE IS . . . God cannot lie, nor be in the presence of sin.

God closes doors that NO ONE can open . . . and HE opens doors that NO ONE can close.  Why?  Because God is God, and I am not.  When we KNOW and UNDERSTAND the attributes of God, we find that not only can we trust HIM, but we can rest in knowing that HE is working everything together for our good and for HIS glory!

Many times God gets the greatest glory from our greatest sufferings, because it is THEN in those dark hours that we wave the white flag of surrender realizing that we cannot do it!  Surrendering is a sign of humility that ushers in HIS GRACE.

It is HIS grace that is sufficient to take us through every trial.  To get grace we must ask, acknowledging that we need help!  Humility and surrender brings you in close to God allowing you to sense HIS presence, know HIM intimately, hear HIS voice and walk WITH HIM.  The further away we get from God, the harder it is to hear HIS voice and KNOW HIS ways.

Do you KNOW God and believe that God is who HE SAYS HE IS?  If so, does your life reflect it?

 

 

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