Category Archives: God’s Grace

God’s Kids

What a simple blessing and promise to know God has chosen us to be His very own children. As my mother-in-law used to say, we are all “God’s Kids”.

Everyone lives in the darkness of sin, but because of God’s gift of Jesus Christ to save us from our sins, we are filled with God’s light and given eternal life.

Praying you enjoy this wonderful promise ~ Faye

God Grant Me the Serenity

These are precious words to many in our world today. As many addicts know, we need God’s grace to grant us the serenity to accept what we can’t change, courage to change what we can and wisdom to know the difference between the two.

I have had several people in my life who have struggled with addictions from alcohol and drugs to pornography and abuse. It can be easy for the outsider to point fingers and judge those who struggle with these types of addiction. However, what about the addiction to food, gossip, or the need for acceptance?

I like the rest of the prayer as it focuses on realizing life will not always be easy. It encourages us to realize hardships are part of the path to peace. It means surrendering to God and His Will that life is not always easy; but it wasn’t easy for Jesus either. He even asked God to take away His death on the cross that He was going to have to face. Yet He surrendered to God’s Will. He knew He must die on the cross, be buried and then rise from the dead. He needed to do this to save each and every one of us who believe in Him as their Savior.

Usually someone gets into an addiction as a bandaid, a way to find comfort from some pain or trauma in their life. Why do you think they call mac and cheese or roast beef with potatoes and gravy – “comfort food”? Sometimes we want to medicate the pain away. Sometimes we want to forget. Looking at the rest of the prayer, if we realize everyone’s journey will have difficulties and trials, but also remembering God will walk with us through the trials, trusting Him we can overcome our addictions when we surrender our lives to Him. I’m not saying it will be easy. I’m not saying it can be done without professional help. I have seen someone who prayed out to God and he has been free from his alcoholism for over a year. I have seen someone who has gone through many counseling session to work through an addiction to pornography that started from an early childhood trauma. If you are struggling with something, seek help. There are many good Christian counselors. There are support groups. Talk to your pastor, church leaders, people who are safe to you (ones that won’t gossip about your situation) and most of all surrender to God your struggle.

Praying you are surrounded by God’s abundant love and grace. ~ Faye

God Knows Your Needs

There’s really not much more to say. Do you hurt? Are you scared? Do you have a need, a concern that is more than you can handle?

Rest in the knowledge that God already knows all about your needs and He cares completely for you. Surrender your hearts to Him. Trust in Him. Wait on Him.

Praying for peace for you ~ Faye

The Blessing of Belonging!

Ever have one of those days when you feel like life is hopeless and overwhelming? When you feel like you are all alone? I’m sure you have; most of us struggle with those thoughts once in a while.

I remember feeling that way following the flood of 2008 in the Midwest. Everywhere you looked in our small town, someone was struggling with the results of flooding. Some, like us, was relatively minor with only 4 feet in the basement; others lost their only home and had their businesses impacted. I remember reading this passage with new eyes -“when you pass through the waters, I will be with you; when you pass through the rivers they will not sweep over you.”

I like how the New Living Translations states it:

“Do not be afraid, for I have ransomed you.
    I have called you by name; you are Mine.
When you go through deep waters,
    I will be with you.
When you go through rivers of difficulty,
    you will not drown.
When you walk through the fire of oppression,
    you will not be burned up;
    the flames will not consume you.
For I am the Lord, your God,
    the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.

The water from the Cedar River was roaring past and deeper than anyone could imagine. We had a 500 year flood. Flood stage is 12 feet and we hit 31.12 feet. Water was several square miles in Cedar Rapids and Palo and areas all along the Cedar. To think of “rivers of difficulty” in the reality of the flood and to be reminded that we will not drown (or be overwhelmed by our trials) were incredibly comforting words.

Even more precious were the words “I have called you by name, you are MINE!” I belong! No matter what happened during the flood, the stuff we lost, the reconstruction we had to do, nothing mattered in the reality that I BELONG! God knows me intimately by name. I’ve probably used the Heidelberg Catechism Lord’s Day 1 Question & Answer 1 before, but it is one of my favorites. My parents have it on their headstone. It has been a key reminder of who I am and whose I am.

What is your only comfort in life and in death?

That I am not my own but belong, body and soul, in life and in death, to my faithful Savior, Jesus Christ. He has fully paid for all my sins with His precious blood, and has set me free from the tyranny of the devil. He also watches over me in such a way that not a hair can fall from my head without the will of my Father in heaven; in fact, all things must work together for my salvation. Because I belong to Him, Christ, by His Holy Spirit, assures me of eternal life and makes me wholeheartedly willing and ready from now on to live for Him.

Praying you understand how precious it is to belong to God. Just ask Him to be your Lord and Savior. Understand that He died on the cross and rose again to save you from your sins. Believing allows you to know how precious you are to God – You belong to Him! ~ Faye

The Season of Lent

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It’s that time of year when Christians observe Lent, a period leading up to Holy Week, where Christ’s death is observed.  It culminates in the celebration of Christ’s Resurrection Easter Sunday.

Christians look at the blessings of Christ’s sacrificial death to cleans us, purify us from our sins and give us the assurance of eternal life with Him.

Praying you will know the blessing of being washed whiter than snow ~ Faye

One of My Favorite Times in Worship

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There are two times in the worship service that I eagerly anticipate – one is God’s greeting at the beginning and the other is God’s blessing at the end of the service.  To know that God is with us all the time is unfathomable. To know that God calls us to spend time with Him, that He made us to worship and glorify Him, and to hear from Him in His word that He is excited to be with us are incredible times. To know that God wants to bless us from His word each week and fill us with His abundant peace is just overwhelming to me.

I pray you are so blessed when you get to spend time with God ~ Faye

My Ways are Not Your Ways

I don’t know about you, but 2016 has been a year of lots of concerns, pain as well as emotional and spiritual growth. We began 2016 with my husband and I saying goodbye to both of our mothers just four weeks apart. Both had lived good lives and loved the Lord so it was bittersweet to say goodbye. There were illnesses, surgical procedures, relationship issues, absences from loved ones and job changes. We also walked alongside some dear friends who were going through cancer, rejection, marriage issues and divorce.

Let’s face it – this world is in a world of hurt. There is pain wherever you look. It might be simply a child’s tantrum once again or a flat tire. It might be as serious as hearing the words “inoperable cancer” or loved one saying, “I don’t love you anymore.”

I have struggled at times to see God’s hand in these trials. I don’t understand the pain a friend has endured as we tried to understand why God is allowing his parents to deal with years of suffering. Or the pain of parents who have had to let a loved one go off on their own and deal with the painful choices their loved one has made. Then there are those who are spending their first Christmas without a loved one. There are those who struggle with depression, anxiety, rejection, abandonment, insecurity and so much more.

Aren’t the holidays supposed to be filled with pictures from Norman Rockwell/Hallmark family and friend memories?

And yet, there is still hope. Hope? Really? Yes. God created each one of us to be aware of His presence, to seek Him and to want to worship and glorify Him. This IS DEFINITELY NOT easy in the midst of pain, but it is EVEN MORE ESSENTIAL at that time.  Whether you sing, write, color, read, whatever – you NEED to worship and praise God during your pain. This is so counterintuitive to what we want to do – stay in bed, curl up in a ball, pull up the covers, forget the world, and just wallow in our self-pity.

But if we seek God, even a glimpse of Him at work around us, He usually shows us something to give us hope.  Yesterday I saw it in a quick Christmas greeting text from our son, whom we’ve not heard from since deploying overseas in April. God answered this mother’s prayer to know where her son was. Then in my devotions this morning (once again, I am behind) when I opened Sarah Young’s Jesus Always, to December 11 and read these words:

“I am your Rock in whom you can take refuge-any time, any place. COME to Me, beloved; REST in the Peace of My Presence. Take a BREAK from trying to figure everything out. ADMIT that many, many things are beyond your understanding-and your control.” (These were words I needed. I DON’T have or need all the answers – that’s God’s job.)

Isaiah 55:8-9 became special verses to my parents when they were both diagnosed with cancer within a month of each other.isaiah-55-8-9-4x6

We can’t explain God. Many times, we can’t understand why God allows bad things to happen to good people. When the world is confusing and overwhelming or when it seems evil is taking control of this world, we need to remember God’s conversation with Job recorded in Job 38-42. God challenges Job to remember “Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundations? Who kept the sea inside its boundaries? Where does light come from and where does darkness go? Can you direct the constellations through the seasons?  Do you know the laws of the universe? Who takes care of all the needs of the animals?” The Lord asks these serious questions in Job 40:2:

“Do you still want to argue with the Almighty? You are God’s critic, but do you have the answers?”

Job replies to the Lord and says, “I am nothing, how could I ever find the answers?” The Lord challenges him once again by asking if he can control the Leviathan? Job then realizes the depth of his ignorance. I absolutely love Job’s response recorded in Job 42:2-3:

“I know that You can do anything, and no one can stop You.  You asked, ‘Who is this that questions My wisdom with such ignorance?’  It is I—and I was talking about things I knew nothing about, things far too wonderful for me.

This is where I find myself – I can wallow in my self-pity and question God about all that is happening to and around me OR I can trust that He knows and sees the entire picture, and I need to TRUST HIM for His Wisdom is far greater than mine.

Praying that as you face difficulties and struggles for yourself and your loved ones, that you can COME, REST, and ADMIT that you know nothing about God’s complete and unconditional love for you nor His entire plan for your life. You need to just TRUST in Him.

~ Praying you will grow in your confident trust in God. ~ Faye

God’s Faithfulness in Keeping His Covenant

Deut 7 9Some days we just need to constantly remind ourselves that God is FAITHFUL – all the time!  It is easy on the good days when things are going along smoothly. But what about the days when the kids are more moody than you can handle, the car breaks down, or a friend or family member causes incredible pain?

Speaking from many experiences, I KNOW God is faithful, but I don’t always FEEL it.  However, resting and meditating on God’s Word can FILL ME ABUNDANTLY with the assurance of His LOVE and FAITHFULNESS.  I may not FEEL it, but deep down I KNOW it.

Having a prodigal child can bring heavy emotions some times.  I REST fully in the promise of God’s Covenantal LOVE and GRACE to get me through these difficult times.

Praising God through both the good and difficult times for His LAVISH LOVE and FAITHFULNESS and hope you can as well ~ Faye

Come. Rest.

There are so many hardships, trials, pain and difficulty in life.

  • Typhoon in Philippines creates horrible damage …
  • Murder, abuse, assault, theft …
  • A friend is waiting a week of unknown as test after test is performed …
  • Cancer, Multiple Sclerosis, Diabetes, Heart Disease …
  • Depression, anxiety, fear, worry …
  • Separation, divorce, children in the middle …
  • Abandoned children and families …
  • Confusion over health care, politics, finances …

The list goes on and on. It’s hard not to spiral downward in hopelessness, worry and defeat. But Jesus reminds us of His continual love and care in Matthew 11:28:

“Come to Me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you. Let Me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.”

Matthew 11 28 webThe invitation is clear – Come.

It’s given with open arms ready to receive you. It is filled with unconditional love and abundant grace – Come.

The invitation is for those who are weary, tired, worn down, burned out, sad, depressed, brokenhearted, those who carry heavy burdens, great trials, overwhelming circumstances – Come.

The invitation is given by Jesus, our Lord and Savior – Come.

The promise – Rest, Calm, Peace, Serenity, Tranquility – Rest for your souls.

Take a moment to stop and breathe in that Rest.

Be filled with God’s PEACE.

Let the burden be lifted off of you as you Come and Rest with Jesus.

Praying you are filled with God’s abundant grace and rest, rest for your soul, as you Come to Him and give Him your burdens ~ Faye

Let the Holy Spirit Work

Quench not the Spirit

It’s the 5 year anniversary of a life-altering event in our lives.  In 2008 the small town I live in had 423 homes, all of which were flooded but ten, by the worst flood our area has ever seen.  We recovered from the devastation over time. And through it all saw the hand of God providing through the love, generosity and kindness of His people and resources. Looking back I realize the many difficulties we had to deal with and the emotional trauma caused by the devastation. Two weeks ago brought everything back as we prepared for potential flooding that could invade the homes and businesses of people we have come to know and love following the flood. The memories of mud and muck, the sickeningly sweet smell left behind by the flood waters, the mountains of wet, moldy trash on the streets, dinner from the Red Cross and Salvation Army, homes torn down because the damage was so great … I found myself exhausted from the energy of preparation and emotional trauma.

Exhaustion is a difficult thing for some to give in to. In the busyness of the urgent one often keeps pushing ahead to get whatever needs to be done done. This is where I found myself two weeks ago. Already tired from several weeks of the Spring rush at work and then faced with the reality of potential flooding and having to give more of myself when I was already tired. We were spared any damaging flooding, but then there was the energy to put things back together after we had pulled it all apart. While I was so tired, I let Satan enter into my thoughts and he wore me down with many destructive thoughts.  Soon I found myself wallowing in self-pity, feeling all alone. As many of you know, this is NOT a good thing to do. I oddly found it easier to stay in this depressed state than pick up God’s word and spend time with Him. This went on for about a week and each day I found myself getting more and more depressed and surly. I was not fun to be around. I was moody, tired and complaining. I could have written a Psalm entitled “Woe is me” very easily.

Fortunately I listened to God’s promptings (and a very-wise daughter) saying get back into spending time in God’s word. Every time I sat down I picked up the Bible or a devotional book on Hope, Joy, dealing with difficulties – anything that gave me glimpses of God’s joys and encouragement. I turned off the television and absorbed Christian music. After several days of this I was reminded of the joy I have through Christ’s death and resurrection. I was reminded of the many blessings God has showered my life with. I was encouraged to remember and be filled with JOY all the time, in all circumstances. I saw God’s hand working incredibly around me in how different people crossed my path at just the time I needed them. I intentionally got out of my car before work on Monday and made a decision to be filled with JOY despite any circumstances going on in my life. When asked how I was doing, I responded, “Great, it’s a beautiful day.” I allowed the Holy Spirit to flow to every part of my thinking. And the more I did, the more I felt changed from the inside.

1 Thess 5_19 Quench not HS small1 Thessalonians 5:19 says “Quench not the  Spirit.” The New Century Version says, “Don’t hold back the work of the Spirit.” The New International Reader’s Version says, “Don’t put out the Holy Spirit’s fire.” The New Living Translation says, “Do not stifle the Holy Spirit.”  When I allowed my anxious and depressed thinking to take hold, I didn’t allow the Holy Spirit to be my encourager, guide, comforter, or wisdom. John 14:26 says, …the Comforter  which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, He shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.”  Allow the Holy Spirit to work in your lives, kindle the flame of the Spirit to fill you with all the fullness and joy each day so you may reflect God’s love to others.

My circumstances have not all improved, in fact, some things have gotten worse, but my perspective has thanks to an attitude adjustment from the Holy Spirit helping me refocus on God’s unconditional love, grace and abundant blessings. Praying you see God’s hand at work today in your lives and are incredibly blessed ~ Faye

I’d love to hear you share some ways God has been blessing you.

Am I Really Blessed?

There are days where I get so distracted with the details of life I forget to really think about the abundant blessings I have been showered with. I have a warm home and it is DRY this year despite some heavy rain days. I am able to work full time because of medications that keep my R.A. in check. I have a wonderful family and two blessings that come in the form of granddaughters with their giggles, smiles and hugs. I have the assurance that I belong body and soul, in life and in death, to my faithful Savior, Jesus Christ. I have a husband who loves me through the good and bad of life. I have financial resources that help me live a comfortable life where all my needs and many of my wants are met. I have the ability to sit quietly with God and just enjoying BEING in His presence. I have wonderful friends and co-workers.

Blessings

With all the pain from the past week of the bombings in Boston, fire in Texas, earthquake, flooding, people finding out the cancer they thought they had is more invasive, people struggling with relationships and so much more. I look at the story of Job once again – everything was taken from him but his wife and his life. His cattle, oxen, and donkeys were stolen, his servants were killed or died, sheep burned, camels were taken, and all 10 sons and daughters were killed in a storm. Yet He remained faithful to God and God abundantly blessed Him with so much more than Job had before. Take the story of Joseph who was thrown in a pit by his brothers, sold into slavery, ended up in jail and then ends up as the Pharoah’s advisor in charge of helping with the famine. He ends up being a blessing to all of Israel in this position.

Where we often see trials, God often uses it as incredible provisions of His grace, mercy and blessings. In James, God’s Word reminds us to, “Consider it pure joy whenever you face trials of many kinds because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” I have to say that in most of the trials of my life I have NOT seen them as blessings or faced them with JOY. But God tells us in many places that He is working through our trials to help us grow deeper in our relationship with Him.

One of my favorite songs these days has been Blessings by Laura Story. It serves as a very real reminder that the trials of life are God’s abundant mercies shaping us for what lies ahead.

Praying you may be filled with God’s abundant grace, mercy and blessings in whatever trials you face ~ Faye

Easter Blessings!

Christ is Risen

When Trembling Brings Blessings

I will bless those who have humble and contrite hearts, who tremble at My word.   ~ Isaiah 66:2

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I love the bark of these trees. They are shaggy and quiver in the gentlest breeze. They looked beautiful covered with snow the other day. Today as I was considering this verse from Isaiah, I was drawn to this photo. A simple tree seems to worship its Creator by the beauty of trembling and shedding its bark. Looking at comparisons, I realized the following: First, I too often approach God’s word without the humility of being before my Creator, trembling at being in the presence of His majesty. Second, when I am coated with God’s Word my own trembling, worrying heart is stilled by His love and grace.

This is a very simple, short verse in the Bible, but as I thought about it I wondered, Do I tremble at God’s Word? Do I read it with utmost respect and humility, ready to be changed by even the simplest words or phrases? We have all heard the simple phrase, “Be still and know that I am God.” That phrase alone can change the hearts of the busiest or most hardened person. It reminds the believer to slow down and intentionally BE in the presence of God.

I have been finding it harder to intentionally spend quality time with God.  I rush through my five-minute devotional these days because of the busy schedule.  I’ve been feeling these nudgings from the Holy Spirit to come back and visit God’s Word. It will give me strength, wisdom, perspective for  the day if I don’t rush through the reading, but ponder and meditate on His Word. I’ve been rereading the devotional every day this week that includes this verse from Isaiah 66. I have been both encouraged and challenged in how I have taken God’s precious Word for granted.

I am too often flippantly reading the words and marking of my time with God on my mental checklist. Instead I need to remember, especially at this time of year, the abundant love God has for me that 1) He knew me before I was born and has numbered my days, 2) He has incredible plans for each and every day of my life, and most important 3) He loved me so much that He GAVE His only Son to DIE for me! He allowed His Son to suffer the depths of hell so I could receive His incredible gift of grace and be assured of eternal life.

Forgive me Lord for casually reading Your Word. Remind  me of my inadequacy before You. Prick my consciousness so I am drawn back to spending time meditating and digesting Your Word for me each day. Fill me to overflowing with these precious gifts from Your hand.

May you be blessed to Tremble at His Word today.

Don’t Be Afraid!

The angel reassured them, “Don’t be afraid!” he said, “I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. The Savior – yes, the Messiah, the Lord – has been born today.” Luke 2:10-11

I LOVE reading the words – Don’t be afraid! They are written all through the Bible. But they are not easy words to understand and obey.

Can you imagine the setting? A peaceful, quiet night where the shepherds are quietly watching over their sheep. The fire is crackling. Sheep are probably pretty quiet with stomachs filled and resting for the evening. The shepherds main concern were wild animals and weather. When suddenly an angel of the Lord appeared among them, and the radiance of the Lord’s glory surrounded them. And the first words out of the angel’s mouth – Don’t be afraid! Yeah, right!

We simply read Luke 2 as if it all took place during the period it takes to read the words. However, I’m guessing there was a little response from the shepherds when the glory of the Lord surrounded them. I would think it would take a few moments to let the shock of the angel’s appearing register before the message sunk in. But scripture tells us right after the angel’s message, he was suddenly joined by a host of others – the armies of heaven – praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased.”Glory to God in the Highest copy

Can you imagine? God’s armies opened the heavens to celebrate the Messiah’s birth – God’s predestined plan that He would send His Son as our Savior – EVEN BEFORE He created any one of us!! God sent His Son as His gift of saving grace for each one of us. That grace fills us with God’s peace.

These days it seems like there is very little peace on earth good will to men. With the devastating shootings in Connecticut, to international uprisings, fiscal cliffs, divorce, chronic illness, pain, death, loss everywhere you turn – how can God’s Words be – Don’t be afraid – I bring you peace on earth?

I discovered a burglary at work recently. It was very unsettling to know someone is desparate enough to violate someone else’s space and take things that didn’t belong to them. God’s Word is the calm I found after that. Man can’t reassure me that it won’t happen again, but God fills me with His peace and reminds me – Don’t be afraid. One of the visible assurances that I fell to sleep with the first night was hugging a stuffed bear I received from my husband many years ago while I drifted off for a restful night of peace. Hugging the bear reminded me that God holds me tightly in His grip. He doesn’t let go.

John 10:28-29 I give them eternal life, and they will never perish. No one can snatch them away from me, for my Father has given them to me, and He is more powerful than anyone else. No one can snatch them from the Father’s hand.

If our God who:

  1. Predestined (knew before hand) that He would send His Son, Jesus to be the Savior for all mankind – whom He had not created yet,
  2. Created the universe and mankind with a free will to choose to love and obey Him,
  3. Promises in Romans 8:38-39 that nothing can separate us from His love, and
  4. Holds us so securely that no one can take us from His hand,

then His words should resound fully in our hearts Don’t Be Afraid!!!

In John 16, Jesus assures His disciples that there will be peace – in Christ. Just before Jesus was arrested, crucified and resurrected, He shared these words with the disciples:

Then His disciples said, “At last You are speaking plainly and not figuratively. Now we understand that You know everything, and there’s no need to question You. From this we believe that You came from God.”
 
Jesus asked, “Do you finally believe? But the time is coming—indeed it’s here now—when you will be scattered, each one going his own way, leaving Me alone. Yet I am not alone because the Father is with Me. I have told you all this so that you may have peace in Me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.”

The peace from God is eternal. There will still be wars, death, pain, destruction, trials here on earth, but our peace comes from the assurance that Jesus Christ broke the chains of death and is reigning with God in glory. Therefore, Don’t Be Afraid!

I’ve been so blessed by the words of Laura Story’s, Blessings. She was newly married and her husband dealt with a brain tumor. She talks about blessings coming from the trials of life – What if trials of this life – the rain, the storms, the hardest nights are Your mercies in disguise. As the world struggles to cope with the destruction in this world, when we turn to God we will find our hope, joy and peace through His grace and love.

“When Jesus takes your hand, He keeps you tight. When Jesus keeps you tight, He leads you through your whole life. When Jesus leads you through your life, He brings you safely home.” ~ Corrie ten Boom

Praying that you may be filled to overflowing the the Peace of God that comes from the true meaning of Christmas ~ Faye

Hope ~ A Season of Anticipation, Expectation & Remembering

It is the season of anticipation, expectation, eagerness and HOPE. As Christians we call the four Sundays prior to Christmas as Advent. We are eagerly awaiting Christ’s birth. I started a small Advent Bible study with Good Morning Girls today and was reading through several Bible passages that they provided.

Jeremiah 33:14 says,

Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will fulfill the promise I made to the house of Israel and the house of Judah. In those days and at that time I will cause a righteous Branch to spring up for David, and He shall execute justice and righteousness in the land.

God  tell us in Isaiah 60:19b, “… the Lord will be your everlasting light, and your God will be your glory.” We won’t need the sun and the moon for our light. When we have God’s Son, Jesus Christ, in the depths of our heart, we will be filled with a light that will never go out. We anticipate that promised light first through the birth of Jesus, which we celebrate at Christmas, and second for His promised return.

I love the verse in Romans 15:13 that says,

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.

But it wasn’t until I started reading about the HOPE we have during the season of Advent that I realized, or at least remembered, that this verse of hope-filled blessing comes after Paul is telling the Romans that Christ came for Jews and Gentiles. Paul reminds them of the promise from Isaiah, “The root of Jesse will come (King David’s father), even he who arises to rule the Gentiles; in him will the Gentiles hope.” Then Paul reminds those of us not born of Jewish ancestry, that God is the God of hope because He has promised to send The Way of salvation to all people.

As I read all these verses on God’s plan of salvation from the first sin recorded in Genesis throughout the His Word, I was reminded of an article by Patrick Wood, Beyond His Hand. Wood talks about Sacred Remembrances as gifts from God’s Word that help us in our daily walk. The Israelites had countless opportunities to remember the way God provided for them — parting the water, manna and quail from heaven, water from the rock, sandals that never wore out in 40 years, and so  much more. These reminders could help shape the Israelites’ faith when they faced the giants in Canaan, but sadly the Israelites didn’t remember how God cared for their needs and answered their prayers.

During Advent we are encouraged to look back on the promises in God’s Word of the promised Savior. We often look at four key words – Hope, Peace, Love, and Joy in the countdown to celebrating Christ’s birth. This week is traditionally the week that focuses on Hope. Hope is defined as: “to cherish a desire with anticipation; or to expect with confidence.” As Christians we have the HOPE of a life forever with God where there is no more weeping, pain, destruction, chronic illnesses, loss of life, and so much more. We expect with confidence the hope of life everlasting through the birth, death and resurrection of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

Wood encouraged his readers to focus on the Sacred Remembrances from God’s providence in our lives to help us in the tough times, the times when despair and hopelessness take over. We need to remember the time we took off half an hour late only to find ourselves sitting in an hour traffic jam as an accident that  happened a little earlier was being cleared off the road. We need to remember God’s provision of medications that help deal with an illness. We need to rejoice in the friends and family that come along side of us to encourage us when we are struggling with loss. Wood even encourages his readers to create a timeline of your life where you definitely saw God’s hand over the years and let those “landmarks” help convince you of the confidence you have deep within from God. These Sacred Remembrances help us see not only what God has done, but who God is – faithful, caring, giving, loving, gentle, gracious, merciful, the Great Physician …

In order for you to have that HOPE that is truly an expectation filled with confidence that Jesus Christ has come and will come again, take time to read God’s Word. Put His truths in your heart. Dwell on the Sacred Remembrances of ALL that God has done for you in your life and in the lives of those you love.

I encourage you to take the challenge I will take for myself this week. Go to your Bible or http://www.biblegateway.com and search the many passages that have the word HOPE in them.

Let the message about Christ, in all its richness, fill your lives. Teach and counsel each other with all the wisdom he gives. Sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs to God with thankful hearts.

God’s abundant blessings to you ~ Faye

Thank You Veterans!

Our granddaughter, daughter of two Air Force Veterans.

Our son has served in the United States Air Force since 1997.  I have 3 nephews in the military. Our son-in-law was in the Marines. My father served in the Army. We have many young people who have crossed our lives who are currently serving and countless people who have served over the years. We have seen first hand the sacrifices family and friends have had to make while their loved ones serve here in the United States and abroad. However, we count our blessings very much as those dear to us have not had to deal with major injury or loss.

Watching testimonials and tributes to those who have served particularly in recent years – young lives who have been dealt devastating injuries – physical and mental – I find myself in tears. As actors tell the stories of Veterans who have lost limbs, suffered traumatic brain injury, or deal with PTSD, my heart grieves for the altered lives each one of those men and women have to deal with. Their families and friends. Dreams shattered. Expectations unmet. Loss after loss. A “new normal.” The emotional scars. Surgeries. The residual loss of family and friends who can’t take the loss or the changes in the individual and walk out of their lives. And those who never come home.

What an incredible honor to live in a country where people are willing to sacrifice so greatly for their country and the freedom of others.

It is truly a blessing to know that God knows the number of hairs on our head and knows who each one of us are. He knows who the veterans are. He knows where our loved ones are. He knows what they need. He knows because He loves us so much He sacrificed His Son for our eternal life and freedom. He loves and cares for those who are wounded, lost and dying.

Praising God for the dedication and service of the men and women of this country. And REJOICING in His sacrificial gift so we may have complete forgiveness and freedom from our sins ~ Faye

Celebrating God’s Faithfulness to ALL Generations!

Recently our church celebrated 40 years of God’s faithfulness. Our church is a close-family church.  It has been very transitional over the years as 2/3rds of the members have moved on to other places. Yet it has always held a core family, care-giving feel for all who enter her doors.  Many people who have attended, especially in the early years were far away from their families, so Peace Christian Reformed Church in Cedar Rapids, Iowa became their family and close friendships were formed. This was evident when many members returned for the anniversary, and people struck up conversations as if they had seen each other yesterday.  As I reflect on and reviewed some of the pictures, ones that I find truly striking in God’s faithfulness are the following:

The first one is very personal as it is my husband’s parents, aunt and uncle, cousins and our children and granddaughter. I am blessed to see four generations spanning eight decades worshiping together.  We have grown from each others’ faith.  Everyone in this group has personally seen God’s hand of caring, leading and unconditional love placed on them over the years. It is truly a blessing when a parent looks at the next generation and sees that they too are singing these words with meaning –

“One generation will call to the next, ‘Our God is good and His hand is strong!’ All of the world sings His marvelous acts, and we too, will add our voice to the song.” (Greg Scheer ©2006 Faith Alive Christian Resources).

The theme verses for the weekend were from Psalm 119:89-90 ~

Your word, O LORD, is eternal; it stands firm in the heavens. Your faithfulness continues through all generations; You established the earth, and it endures.

The next five pictures show what seeds planted and sharing God’s love and grace to others can do.  When God is at work and the people trust God’s leading, nothing can stop Him.  You see, Peace Church tried to start seven years earlier and after a time the Board decided it was not time to proceed with a church in Cedar Rapids. But with God continuing to give His vision and drive to a few people – Vacation Bible schools were held, and worship services met in a funeral home, library and Bowman Woods school until seven years later the Board approved and Peace Church was officially started.

When I look at the growth in numbers alone, I’m amazed.  But when I think of ALL the people who have been impacted by just one small church, many who didn’t make it back for the weekend, and all the thousands of lives touched through Vacation Bible school, Calvinettes/GEMS, Cadets, Sunday School, youth groups, worship services, preschool, DivorceCare, AA meetings and so many more – how unfathomable are His ways!  We don’t have to have the 4-step gospel presentation memorized to share God’s love and grace.  We just need to show God’s love and grace to others ~ God does the rest.  The numerical growth in these pictures didn’t happen from a few people doing everything, it happened because God was and is at work.

Each one of these people have faced challenges in their lives, some losing children others spouses or parents; some job loss others face continual health issues. The list goes on.  Life has happened to each of these people. There are times I know several of them (and likely most of them) have said – “Why God!” But they have not given up their faith. Because they know that all things work together for God according to God’s purpose.  He has a plan for each and every one of our lives. Through trusting in God’s leading and through the love, support and encouragement of our Christian family we face each new day with the ability to say Our God is Good, and His hand is strong!
Praying you will let God use you to touch a life today in incredible testimony to Him ~ Faye

Linked with Good Morning Girls and Beholding Glory

In a Parched and Weary Land …

WEATHER:  I don’t have to tell most of you that this country is in an extreme heat and drought situation. Living in farm country, every day the news tells us how much damage the crops are suffering because of the lack of rain. It’s easy for the untrained eye to see it as the corn stalks wither and brown in the heat. Farmers struggle to keep their hogs cooled. Gardeners  usually fight Japanese Beetles this time of year are also struggling to keep their gardens watered sufficiently. It’s not “fun” to be outside, especially in the sun. And at night we can’t even enjoy a fire either because of the heat or the burn ban restrictions. When a cloud appears in the sky or there is the slightest breeze or drop in temperature our hopes soar that rain and cooler weather are coming.

NEWS:  It’s very discouraging to listen to the news these days from two innocent girls missing in Iowa to the inexplicable shootings in Colorado, suicide bombers, robberies, life-altering illnesses – the list continues.  We look for any glimmer of hope in the tragedies.

In a dry and weary land where there is no waterDavid was in a similar situation when he as in the wilderness of Judah. He was feeling totally drained and L-O-N-G-E-D for God’s presence.  David lived a life being hunted by the king, hiding in the desert and not being able to go to the Temple to worship God. Psalm 63 describes some of that longing. David remembers that he has seen God in the sanctuary and gazed upon God’s power and glory. He praises God for His unfailing love and care.

Have you ever been in a spiritual wasteland where you are struggling for nourishment? I have. Following my husband’s heart procedure and other issues, I felt drained. I KNEW God was there caring for me and even carrying me through the tough times, but I couldn’t FEEL Him. Somehow the inner assurance seemed to have evaporated in the heat of trials. After I wrote Practice! Practice! Practice! a dear friend reminded me of a simple book that I hadn’t looked at for a while – Invitation to Solitude and Silence, by Ruth Haley Barton.  I picked it up again and have been enjoying my morning time with God just BEING in His presence.

There is such a blessing that occurs from spending time with God – not on the fly as our guest pastor said Sunday; praying on the go, listening to Christian music, quickly reading a 2 minute devotional – all of which are good. But there is an importance of being thoroughly drenched and refreshed by BEING in God’s presence. Whether it is simply picking up His word and reading a verse or a portion of scripture and then just sitting there, thinking about it, thanking God for His word, listening to what He might have to say.

As much as we are physically craving rain to water the earth these days, how much more should we be thirsting, longing, craving for God to fill us spiritually?

I want to encourage you – and myself – to spend that much needed time IN God’s word, WITH Him – just BEING in His presence and letting Him minister to your needs.  It’s not easy and it’s not just sitting there. It is actively waiting and listening for what God will place on your heart.  Watch, pray.  It’s incredible how God blesses, not only in those moments, but continues to shower you with His love, grace and care in the hours and days following your time with Him.

I thought I’d share a song from one of my favorite musicians is Fernando Ortega. He has captured Psalm 63 beautifully in O God, You are My God.  I pray that you will be blessed with some time this week just BEING in God’s presence and letting the Holy Spirit fill you to overflowing so that you are spiritually refreshed and nourished ~ Faye

I am linked with Good Morning God and Beholding Glory.

Circumstances

I know God will not give me anything I can't handle. I just wish He didn't trust me so much!Sometimes life throws us some difficult curve balls. One wonders if God is really in control or even cares about what’s happening. Those are time times I am reminded of the verses from Jeremiah 29:11-13

“For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. In those days when you pray, I will listen. If you look for Me wholeheartedly, you will find Me.”

In the past few weeks friends and family members have faced the loss of loved ones through aging and suicide. I’ve spoke with someone who grew up in a cult and has just recently seen her 30-year-old sibling come out of the cult. I’ve watched more and more people deal with health issues, job losses, financial difficulties, facing consequences for breaking the law, and marital problems. I want to ask God, “If He really cares, why doesn’t He do something to stop the pain?”

A while back I studied Carol Kent’s book Between a Rock and a Grace Place and tonight I found myself reflecting on a portion from her book:

If you too feel caught in one of those tight spots that seem unusually difficult, if not unbearable, I pray that you will come to realize that the pain of being in this place need not cause you to lose hope. If you press into the Rock instead of trying to get around it, you will discover a surprise far better than a birthday or a Christmas gift. On the road that is your life right now, you can find a new way of thinking about your circumstances, as well as an astonishing experience of grace, tailor-made just for you. As you encounter God on  the way, not in the way, you may come to know Him as you never have before. Remember what Olympian Eric Liddle said, ‘Circumstances may appear to wreck our lives and God’s plans, but God is not helpless among the ruins.’

I’m so grateful God is in control of the universe from before time began. I’m glad we have the assurance that He cares so much for each of us that He blessed us with life-saving grace of His Son, Jesus Christ, our LORD.

Kent goes on to say, “God works best through broken people who know they do not have all the answers. He can use people who have exhausted their own resources and finally realize that negotiating the tight spots of life is not something they do by themselves.”  I’m so grateful God uses ordinary people, people who have walked through pain and found the joy and hope only God can give.

Philip Yancey says, “The kind of faith God values seems to develop best when everything fuzzes over, when God stays silent, when the fog rolls in.” God gives more grace for each trial and burden that comes our way. The more we rely on Him, the more He answers and provides for us in ways that could only come from His hand.

Abundantly grateful for God’s presence through the difficult circumstances of our lives.

I am linked with Good Morning Girls and Beholding Glory.

Inexhaustible Grace

God's grace is not only sufficient - it is inexhaustibleWhy does guilt plague me? I feel guilty, not just bad, for not getting more things posted since I started working. At least I did struggle with the guilt feelings until God had another sit-down talk with me. God reminded me that this is His blog, I’m just His tool. He has always given me something to write about that has been a benefit to myself and/or others. So why do I let worry and guilt fester?

As I was sitting in the infusion chair yesterday, I was continuing to read from Quest for Serenity by G.H. Morling and Ruth Graham Bell. God’s timing being ALWAYS PERFECT, I found myself in a section that talked about overcoming the struggle with guilt. I thought I’d share a story from the book,

A minister in the north of England, who oppressed by guilt, had a breakdown, was advised by a wise doctor to concentrate on biblical passages expressing love, mercy, and forgiveness,temporarilyputting aside the ones on condemnation and judgment. The minister followed the doctor’s advice, and he was wonderfully restored.

I was waiting on a 20-something lady the other day who was struggling to make her hands work to get the money separated for payment. She was quickly apologizing for the time, and I was blessed to be able to say, “It’s okay. Take your time. I have R.A. and remember what it was like to struggle to pull up the bedsheet with my fingers.” Immediate relief seemd to pour over her face at not being judged or pressured. God’s grace is like that. God isn’t there ready to condemn – He’s ready to pour out His abundant grace on each one of us who believe in Him as Lord and Savior.

Paul says in Romans 5:20 – God’s law was given so that all people could see how sinful they were. But as people sinned more and more, God’s wonderful grace became more abundant.

God gives us His grace – abundant, freely given, unconditional, and inexhaustible in supply. Psalm 23 tells of God preparing a table for us in the presence of our enemies. Too often, we are our own worst enemy heaping on guilt and not being filled with God’s grace which in turn brings spiritual rest, peace, serenity and joy.

I’m praying that you will be blessed with the joy and peace that comes from resting in God’s inexhaustible grace ~ Faye

P.S. The incident with the young lady, reminded me of how abundantly God has blessed me – a good rheumatologist, medicines that have given me the ability to work a full day, and the support of family and friends.

I’m linked with Good Morning Girls and Beholding Glory.

Conquer Evil by Doing Good

Elie WieselI recently spent a few hours touring a Holocaust Museum.  Holocaust is from a Greek origin meaning “sacrifice by fire.” I’m awed, humbled, and grieved at the atrocities that occurred. We heard a female survivor speak. She was only 5 years old when she was taken to Dachau and later moved to Ravensbrück and Bergen-Belsen. She was 7 years old when Liberation Day came. When the troops came across her emaciated body, they thought she was a baby because of her size. She shared how she survived those difficult days by allowing her mind to be creative and imaginative. She remembers not having energy to move for anything and lying among the dead and dying. She was interned with Anne Frank who died a month  before Liberation Day. Her main reason for sharing her story is so that people don’t forget the injustices. So people remember to treat each other with respect and dignity. She realizes that when we forget what has happened in the past, we will be prone to repeat the atrocities again.

I left with many questions – “Why does God allow such wrongs?” “Why don’t I stand up for the person ridiculed?” “Why can’t we stop bullying?” But I was blessed by the strength of the speaker when she told of how her father, who also survived, became a devout Atheist, while she gained her strength to go through life from her belief in God. She reminds me a lot of Corrie ten Boom, who shares the story of meeting one of her concentration camp guards years later and all the anger and hatred came back, but then God reminded her to love and forgive.

In Romans 12, God says,

“Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good. Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other. Never pay back evil with more evil. Do things in such a way that everyone can see you are honorable. Do all that you can to live in peace with everyone. Dear friends, never take revenge. Leave that to the righteous anger of God. For the Scriptures say, ‘I will take revenge; I will pay them back,’ says the Lord. Instead, ‘If your enemies are hungry, feed them.If they are thirsty, give them something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals of shame on their heads.’ Don’t let evil conquer you, but conquer evil by doing good.”

Seeing history like this is painful and part of me didn’t want to go, but I’m really glad I did.  It is a good reminder to Love One Another with God’s Abundant Love and Grace.  It’s a painful period of history, but one that teaches us a lot about how to treat others. If you want to learn more, check out these links:  United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, Holocaust Museum St. Louis, or Corrie ten Boom’s story.

I am greatly blessed by God’s amazing gift – the gift of forgiveness and grace. Enjoying His love ~ Faye

I’m linked with Good Morning Girls and Beholding Glory.

Abundantly Blessed with God’s Grace!

Christ is Risen! Alleluia!

Incredibly Blessed

I don’t have a lot to say today. I’d like to share how I experienced abundant blessings from God Friday after a beautiful snowfall during the night. I was up early and reflecting on Ephesians 3:20-21 “Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than ALL we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us, to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout  all generations, for ever and ever. Amen.”

I dressed warm, grabbed my camera and headed outdoors right at sunrise. It was pristene white, peaceful, and quiet. God blessed me with His beautiful creation. I saw eagles closer than I’ve been to them before in the wild. I’ve been praising God all weekend for the way He blesses us over and over again with the beautiful from His creative hands.

I pray you will be blessed by these photos as well. I especially pray that you will be able to see the beauty of God’s love and grace all around you ~ Faye

Guilt vs. Grace

I was in a discussion recently about worrying, feeling guilty and God’s grace.  Sometimes we can drive ourselves nuts by worrying about how we raised our kids, or whether we said the right thing to someone, or doing what we should be doing day to day.  I tend to think women definitely fall into this pattern of worrying if they are “being or doing enough.”

Romans 5:1-2a

God’s word is full of reminders of His abundant grace and love. Yet we allow Satan to grow the seed of doubt in us. We let it fester and feed us to the point where we worry about what we are doing, are we good enough?  We forget – it’s not about us – it is about God’s Grace!

Sin ruins our lives. Our relationships suffer. Our health declines. It robs us of our happiness. It steals our peace and joy.  God gives us a way to put the past in the past and experience the incredible blessing of His love and grace. We simply have to believe and receive. We can’t do enough, be enough, say enough. We just have to open our hearts to be washed clean with His amazing grace. We need to quit looking at the past sins and mistakes and KNOW God has washed us clean with His grace. When we hold onto that baggage of guilt, we negate the gift God freely gives us.  And we lose out on the gift of PEACE that comes from walking hand in hand in God’s love and being filled with His grace.

Bask fully in the love and grace God lavishes on you ~ Faye

Linked with Good Morning Girls and Beholding Glory

Filtered Through the Blood of Christ

I last wrote about us being masterpieces made by God. Then I got to thinking about the old analogy:

When we look at the back of the work of art, we see all the knots and paths to get to the next color area. However, God sees the entire piece from the front and sees the beauty and value. We can easily compare that to our lives. The back shows the imperfections and sins in us. Yet God, knowing we are sinners, still sees us as beautiful, priceless masterpieces. He looks at us through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ dying on the cross. He sees the individual He created. He sees our inner beauty. He sees our value. He sees very clearly the plans He has for us.

I think we wonder how God can look at us as perfect masterpieces. How can He see selfish, sinful, imperfect people as precious, valued and prize? God uses the filter of the blood of Jesus Christ to look at us.

Here’s an example of what a filter can do. In photography, and particularly in Photoshop, one can use different filters to change a perspective. This is a photo of something I took that is common, but I applied a chrome filter to it:

When looked at, most people say they see water or ice, but they don’t come anywhere close to what the actual object is.

When we accept Jesus Christ as our Savior and Lord, it means Jesus died in our place on the cross. When God looks at us, He no longer sees the imperfections and sins. God sees us through the filter of Jesus’ blood. Our sins and imperfections can’t show up through the “blood filter”, and God sees us as perfect as He is.

Ephesians 3:12 says that through Jesus we have confident, bold access to God. We are encouraged to approach the Father confidently and boldly because in His eyes we are perfect. We no longer bear the evidence of sin or imperfections before His eyes. Why? Because we act perfectly and do what is right all the time? No way! Because God sees us through Jesus’ “blood-filter” which has made us perfect us forever.

But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness. – 1 John 1:9

We used Heidelberg Catechism Lord’s Day 23, Q&A 60 this Sunday –

How are you right with God?

Only by true faith in Jesus Christ.  Even though my conscience accuses me of having grievously sinned against all God’s commandments and of never having kept any of them, and even though I am still inclined toward all evil, nevertheless, without my deserving it at all, out of sheer grace, God grants and credits to me the perfect satisfaction, righteousness, and holiness of Christ, as if I had never sinned nor been a sinner, as if I had been as perfectly obedient as Christ was obedient for me. All I need to do is to accept this gift of God with a believing heart.

Praying you will be blessed with the knowledge that through the blood of Jesus Christ, you are made perfect ~ Faye

Here is the original photo I took:

Linked to Good Morning Girls and Beholding Glory

God’s Masterpiece

For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things He planned for us long ago.  – Ephesians 2:10

 I enjoy cross-stitching and felt the need to take on two very time-consuming Christmas stockings out of love for my precious granddaughters. I finished one in 2010 for the youngest who lives in the same town with us. But then knowing the time it took to prepare the first , I had a hard time beginning the next. It sat in the drawer for over a year. I came up with several excuses – lighting, dry eyes, sore hands, etc. But not having both stockings to hang this year bothered me, so I recently took the other one out to work on for Christmas 2012. Looking at it, most people see a very beautiful work of art. But I can focus on the mistakes so quickly. I can see where I miscounted, where my stitches go in the wrong direction, where the bridge has extra stitches or the house isn’t perfectly symmetrical. But my granddaughter just sees the snowman, birds, kids playing and the doggy, and of course, the presents inside ;-). God doesn’t say you are an imperfect work of art. He calls us masterpieces. Masterpieces are priceless. We need to see ourselves as God sees us.

I am not comparing myself to God, but I’m thinking as the creator of these stockings of the time, dedication, poked fingers, frustration at thread not cooperating, and other things and yet there is pride in the beauty of the work once it is done because it was prepared in love for the girls I love.

God is the Creator of each one of us. He knows we are imperfect. He knows we have blemishes, flaws, and we make mistakes. Even when we intentionally turn our backs on Him or don’t listen to Him, He loves us unconditionally.

Many years ago Sandi Patty sang a song – Masterpiece

Before you had a name or opened up your eyes
or anyone could recognize your face.
You were being formed so delicate in size
secluded in God’s safe and hidden place.
With your little tiny hands and little tiny feet
and little eyes that shimmer like a pearl
He breathed in you a song and to make it all complete
He brought the masterpiece into the world.
 
You are a masterpiece
A new creation He has formed
And you’re as soft and fresh as a snowy winter morn
And I’m so glad that God has given you to me
Little Lamb of God, you are a masterpiece.
 
And now you’re growing up your life’s a miracle
every time I look at you I stand in awe
Because I see in you a reflection of me
and you’ll always be my little lamb from God
And as your life goes on each day how I pray that you will see
Just how much your life has meant to me.
And I’m so proud of you what else is there to say?
Just be the masterpiece He created you to be.

Performed by: Sandi Patti – Composed by: Gloria Gaither, Graig Patty, Michael Patty, and Brent Henderson – Copyright 1989

We are all created as God’s handiwork, His workmanship. If I can take pride in a simple Christmas stocking, how much more does God pleasure in the beauty and individuality He has made in each one of us, His children.

Praising God He made me who I am. Praying you will celebrate the new creation He has made in you ~ Faye

Linked with Good Morning Girls and Beholding Glory

Trials Brings Joy & Hope

Rejoicing in our Trials

I have a young friend who has lived with painful health issues for many years. This person has taught and encouraged me by their reliance on God through the sufferings endured.  Bible verses that provide encouragement and a goal for this person are James 1:2-4:

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.  Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

The testimony of this quiet, young person is very powerful because through the suffering endured / persevered the depth of maturity in their faith has been an inspiration to me. There is an inner joy and peace. There is a quiet, gentle spirit that flows from the heart of this person.

This morning God reminded me of a photo and verse I have by my bedside to encourage me. (Funny how something can be right next to you for a long time and pretty soon you don’t see it.)

We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because He has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with His love. – Romans 5:3-8 

How many times do we feel incredibly helpless, and worse hopeless? How often do we let life overwhelm us? As believers in Christ we are told life will be filled with trials of many kinds. Life won’t always go the way we want it to. We should anticipate them, but we often can’t plan for the events. However, as one study said, we can be prepared for them when they occur by being rooted and grounded in God’s word. We need to remember that God is in control and as Ephesians 2:8-10 says

God saved you by His grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it. For we are God’s masterpiece.  He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things He planned for us long ago.

When trials happen, we should look for ways to see God at work in our lives bringing a maturity to our faith. And in the blessing of our maturing faith, we will become filled with the confident hope we have through our Savior, Jesus Christ.

I’m not sure what God has in mind for me – thinking of this friend, being reminded of all these verses in 5 days, but focusing on the joy-filled life through Christ has been a blessing to my heart. And being rooted and established firmly in His word fills me with hope.

I pray that you are filled abundantly with the hope-filled joy given through God’s grace ~ Faye

I’m linked with Good Morning Girls and Beholding Glory’s Brag on God

Blessings of Encouragement and Grace

Enjoying God's Overflowing Blessings

Many years ago I went on a service trip with our church youth group to Neon, Kentucky. My RA had been diagnosed the previous year and meds were keeping things relatively under control. However, if I did anything strenuous my body paid for it the next day.  One of our side activities was a 3/4 mile hike to Bad Branch Waterfall.  I wanted to go because I love waterfalls.  I enjoy being with the teens so much. So, even though I knew I would pay for it, I went. 

Several of the group were encouraged to go ahead of me since I couldn’t keep up their pace. But about five, if I remember correctly, said they’d walk with me. One young, sturdy-built young man even said if I couldn’t make it, he’d be willing to carry me. So our little group hiked for over tree roots, down gulleys, and up inclines. There were times I was leaning on my cane to step down or pushing with my cane to get me up the hill. Never once did “my team” let me down or complain at the pace. They were the ones encouraging me to press on, even when I’d stop for a breather. We made it to the waterfall after one last steep incline. The rest of our group was climbing the rocks and messing around in the water.  When they saw I had made it, there was an enthusiastic shout, “Faye!”

My heart melted in gratitude. I can’t tell you how much encouragement can motivate someone, but I can tell you, that day the love, support, and kindness I felt from these precious young people encouraged me to go forward, keep trying to get to the destination, and not give up.

At that moment nothing felt better than standing under the cold waterfall. The water cascading to cool my sweaty body. But even more was my gratitude to God for the ability to make it to the waterfall and the loving kindness He blessed me with in “my team” of encouragers.

We all are blessed with encouragers in life.  Some are obvious, often parents, spouses, and friends. Some we have to look at little more closely to see.  Paul tells us we have the best encourager of all – God.

How abundant is His love for us! Ephesians 1:6-8

So we praise God for the glorious grace He has poured out on us who belong to His dear Son. He is so rich in kindness and grace that He purchased our freedom with the blood of His Son and forgave our sins. He has showered His kindness on us, along with all wisdom and understanding.

God showers us with His grace and kindness. He fills us with all wisdom and understanding. Through His love He encourages to press on in life and through the difficulties. Through the gift of His Son, He showers us with His abundant mercy and grace.

Enjoy the overflowing blessing of God’s grace in your lives ~ Faye

Valued, Precious and Prized

I’m starting a 12-week Bible study on Ephesians today along with thousands of other women associated with Good Morning Girls  so I’m thinking there will be a few posts about Ephesians in the coming days. Today we looked at Chapter 1:1-4.

What a precious letter from Paul. He knows he is chosen directly by God to do God’s work of telling others of the unconditional and amazing love of Jesus Christ. You likely remember the Saul/Paul life-changing transformation at Damascus when God struck Saul, the persecutor of Christians, and over time, changed his heart to Paul, the lover of God. Paul knew he was chosen by God.

Blessed with Every Spiritual BlessingHis words in Ephesians 1:3 sing praises to God. First, because He is the Father of our LORD Jesus Christ. Second, because He has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms. We are chosen for salvation, adopted as His children, cleansed and forgiven, filled with the Holy Spirit who counsels and guides us in God’s will, and gives us the assurance of the fulfillment of the promise of eternal life with Christ.

There are days when we get down. Life hands us one difficulty after another. One person faces cancer, then medications cause difficult side effects and radiation needs to begin. Someone is unemployed and the temp job is calling others to work and not them. Another is dealing with her parent’s health, their own health issues, preparing for a wedding, while adjusting to financial stressors. Sometimes it’s just the bad cold that hits when you need all your physical and mental abilities to get through the day. It’s at those times that God can often seem very far away.

What really struck me from verse four  was that God loved us and chose us before He made the world. In my systematical thinking, that just doesn’t seem possible. It seems He would have made the universe, stepping through the days of creation and on day six He would start thinking of man, and knowing him. But He had a beautiful masterpiece all planned from the beginning that He alone could see how it all interweaved together.  I know Psalm 139 tells us He knew us before we were formed.  But I was really blessed with the thought that even before He created anything else in this universe, He loved and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in His eyes.

There’s a song that tells how important we are to God – If I Could Look Through Your Eyes © 1989 Greg Gerguson

If I could look through Your eyes,

I’d see there’s no way to impress You, and I wouldn’t even try;

I’d stop tryin’ to prove I’m worthy, and I’d take off the disguise,

if I could look through Your eyes.

And I would see that I’m precious, I would know that I’m prized;

I’d know Your love never changes, if I could look through Your eyes.

If I saw my value to You,

I’d see Your love for me remains despite the foolish things I do;

and I’d see Your love for what it is: unshakeable and true,

if I saw my value to You.

And I would see that I’m precious, I would know that I’m prized;

I’d know Your love never changes, if I could look through Your eyes.

I want to see what You see – I want to recognize the treasured prize You say You see in me;

I want to give up tryin’ to earn the love You’re offering for free – I want to see what You see.

Lord, help me look through Your eyes.

Praise God for the abundant blessing of being loved and chosen by Him ~ Faye

Whiter than Snow

I’ve been reading the book of Judges recently. I’ve been amazed at how gracious and compassionate our LORD is. The Israelites followed God, then turned away from Him and worship idols. This cycle repeats itself continually throughout Judges, and for that matter throughout the Bible. We look back and wonder why in the world would the Israelites continue to turn from God and the amazing things (miracles of protection and guidance) He has done for them. They turn to idols. They focus on material things. They seek their own pleasures. How fickle can they be? How ungrateful can they be?

And then ‒

I look at myself.  I’ll start the morning, even before getting out of bed: praising God for a new day, thanking Him that I belong to Him, asking Him to guide my footsteps, devoting my time to Him. Just a little while later, I’ll get impatient, upset, or frustrated when someone offends me or doesn’t do what I think they should. I’ll take control of my life, and do what I want to do. I’ll waste God’s precious time looking at whatever on the Internet or watching TV. I forget the promptings from God and do what I want. I’ll forget all the blessings He has bestowed on me and become self-centered once again. I am just like the Israelites. It is a daily pattern! I know better ‒ just like the Israelites did.

Psalm 103:8-10 says, “The LORD is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love. He will not always accuse, nor will He harbor His anger forever; He does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities.”

I’m so grateful God is abundantly generous and patient with me. There’s an old song based on Psalm 51:7 that has been in my head since we’ve had our first measurable snowfall:

Lord Jesus, I long to be perfectly whole;
I want Thee forever to live in my soul;
Break down every idol, cast out every foe—
Now wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
 
Lord Jesus, look down from Your throne in the skies
And help me to make a complete sacrifice.
I give up myself and whatever I know
Now wash me and I shall be whiter than snow.
 
Lord Jesus, for this I most humbly entreat;
I wait, blessed Lord, at Thy crucified feet.
By faith, for my cleansing I see Your blood flow
Now wash me and I shall be whiter than snow.
 
Lord Jesus, before You I patiently wait;
Come now and within me a new heart create.
To those who have sought You, You never said “No”
Now wash me and I shall be whiter than snow.
 
Whiter than snow, yes, whiter than snow,
Now wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.          

              ©James L. Nicholson, Public Domain

 I’m so grateful and blessed that He is so willing to pour out His love and grace. “Come, now, let us reason together,” says the Lord. “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow.” Isaiah 1:18

Enjoy the blessings of God’s abundant grace ~ Faye

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