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Filled with the Fullness of God’s Love

This week we are studying Ephesians 3:14-21 with Good Morning Girls. (See the top right side panel of God’s Abundant Blessings.) I love this passage. I cannot comprehend the depths and vastness of God’s love. I can’t understand why He blesses us more than ALL we can ask or imagine, but He does. Now, I’m not saying if you pray for healing, God will answer with perfect health, just the way you or I want. But what I’m saying from my experience is that when I turn my life over to Him, He takes care of ALL the details and provides for my needs in ways I never could have asked for or imagined. He does this because of His immense, overpowering love for us. It’s indescribable!

Paul definitely gives us a glimpse of God’s love. He can’t describe it either, but he prays for us to have a full understanding of God’s glorious, unlimited resources; His riches. He tells the Ephesians and Gentiles that he wants them to understand/comprehend how wide, and long, and high, and deep is God’s amazing love. How incredibly blessed we are.

Isaiah 43:1-3a reminds us of God’s beautiful love as well:

But now, O Jacob, listen to the LORD who created you. O Israel, the one who formed you says, “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.”

Some of us have been through house fires, flood waters, tornados, hurricanes and other devastating natural disasters. Many have felt the calm presence that can only come from God in those difficult times of loss, grief and shock. As you deal with insurance companies or FEMA and the tiring rebuilding process, you can so easily become weary and overwhelmed. Yet God, out of His INFINITE love, has promised to be with us. He is pulling us up out of the muddy waters. He’s the shield around us in the flames.

Some of you may not relate “literally” to the natural disasters in these verses, however, we’ve all been in the deep waters of financial difficulties and job loss or the difficult rivers of chronic or terminal illnesses. We’ve felt the flames from the fires of oppression in difficult relationships. But we don’t have to fear when these trials come. Why? Because we are blessed with being called by the LORD, the God who made each one of us.

If you don’t know this amazing God, just open your heart to Him, call out to Him. Ask Him to be your LORD and Savior. Realize that out of His overwhelming love for each one of us, He sent His Son to die on the cross to save us from our sinful selves when we believe on Him. When we tell God we want to belong to Him, we are filled with the fullness of life from the Holy Spirit. We are filled to overflowing with the incomprehensible, unfathomable love of Christ.

Praying you are blessed with being “filled through all your being with God Himself”! ~ Faye

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

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

Delight in God

Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see.   ~   Hebrews 11:1 [NLT]

Delight yourself in the LordThis morning during my devotional time, I found myself praying something like this – Father, forgive me when I let the frustrations with what my body cannot do take over my attitudes and actions. It wasn’t moment’s later He led me to the following “It takes a radical reliance on God’s Word – specifically God’s promises about the day when the healing and wholeness He’s secured for us/me will become the reality we will see and know and enjoy.” [Nancy Guthrie-Abundant Life]

I can’t describe how I felt – awed, humbled, embarrassed, thankful, grateful. God heard my prayer and answered almost immediately – not with physical healing, but with words of encouragement.  He may not heal our diseases or solve issues here on earth, but He always hears our prayers. And better yet, He promises that He will abundantly bless us in the life to come. God blesses us with glimpses of His glory and goodness.

While walking today, I was blessed by the sunshine, white wispy clouds, and the eagle soaring above me. Later I watched a Downy Woodpecker working at the trunk of a tree. How can a bird get food from frozen trees is beyond me, but God provides for all. God’s goodness for all His creatures is a glimpse of how much more He cares for us.

Guthrie states, “To live by faith is not to have confidence that God will make everything okay for us in this life, but that He will more than make up for the pain and difficulty of this life in the next.”  What incredible assurance we have! What a precious gift from God – FAITH!

So many people today seem to be burdened with trials. When we become so focused on the things of this world – good or bad –we miss the promise from God for our future.

Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart ~ Psalm 37:4

Praying that you will enjoy seeing the blessing of God’s goodness to you today ~ Faye

This blog is linked with Good Morning Girls Link-Up Wednesday.

Don’t Be Afraid!

Don't Be Afraid

Don't Be Afraid

Our pastor preached a challenging and encouraging message this Sunday on a topic I struggle with way too frequently – Worrying. He looked at Matthew 6:25-34, where Jesus talks about God’s taking care of the birds’ needs and clothing the lilies in splendor. Jesus reminds us that if He cares for such tiny creatures and flowers that others don’t even see, how much more will He care for His creation that He gave souls to, sent His Son to die for, and filled us with His Holy Spirit. Jesus also reminds us that each day has enough worry for itself, so don’t leap ahead and worry about the future.

Jesus knows that each day has concerns and pressures. He wants us to live in trust that He has everything in control. We need to trust Him and be filled with His peace. His peace isn’t like anything the world has — It is so much deeper. He fills us to overflowing with the inner beauty and calm of peace that only comes from the Holy Spirit.

As our pastor preached, my mind kept going back to the things I worry about –

  •  life with chronic progressive illnesses

 

  • what does God have planned for my future as far as work and my business

 

  • finances, especially being underemployed

 

  • relationships
  • using my time wisely
  • coming up with things to write for God’s Abundant Blessings blog (ironic, I know).

 

 

But then I started to reflect on the past few weeks. I did a 180-spin in the snow a few days earlier, and as I cried out, “God, help me!” I felt His presence and a calm assurance that He was with me.  When I sat in the waiting room while my husband had a heart procedure, and the nurse came out and said, “We’ve run into a little problem …” I was filled with incredible peace and serenity that only comes from God’s presence. (Things turned out well after the procedure.)

Trusting and letting go isn’t easy for this Type A person. I sometimes think that’s why God allowed me to have the chronic illnesses. They have given me a huge slow-me-down, and I’ve needed to continually trust in Him for my strength so many days and in so many ways.

I was reminded during the pastor’s message of a testimony I heard many years ago by Roger Bennett as he was facing a life with leukemia. (You can Google Roger Bennett testimony and hear several of his stories on YouTube.)  Here are the words to Roger and Debbie Bennett’s song: Don’t Be Afraid

The disciples were tossed on a cold, raging sea
 But Jesus was sleeping so peacefully
 They cried, “Master, don’t you care that we die?”
 But He spoke three small words, “Peace be still,”
 It was the storm that had to die
 So don’t be afraid when the darkness is closing
 The Master is near, His voice calms every storm
 So when the world says it’s over, the Master says, “No, I’ve just begun”
 In your darkest of times, whether rain or in sunshine, don’t be afraid
 
I know how it feels to be tossed by the storms
 And I know how it feels to be battered and worn
 But then I know how it feels to be carried on through
 Called by the strength of the One who is faithful and true
So don’t be afraid when the darkness is closing
 The Master is near, His voice calms every storm
 So when the world says it’s over, the Master says, “No, I’ve just begun”
 In your darkest of times, whether rain or in sunshine, don’t be afraid

 ©Onward Bound Music (ASCAP) / Homeward Bound Music (BMI). Album: Raise the Roof (1994)

Roger lost his battle with cancer here on earth, but I’m sure He’s celebrating greatly in heaven.  And he’d likely be the first one to tell us – Don’t Be Afraid of the dark valleys, where Satan comes and tempts us to despair and worry. Trust God, and boldly face your future. Dwell in God’s providential love and grace.

Praying you are as abundantly blessed by God’s perspective, presence and peace as I am today ~ Faye

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

Love Lifted Me!

God's love lifted me!My husband and I enjoy a walk along the river near our home. However, since God has blessed us with a very nice winter so far, the ground is sometimes not frozen. This has left us sinking in the mud and slipping around on the trail. The mud clings to our boots making it much harder to walk. My husband lovingly takes a stick once we get to the rocks and scrapes the majority of the mud off our boots so our walking is easier.

I woke up singing a mix of a few old songs – “He lifted me from the pit and from the miry clay, He set my feet on a rock establishing my way. … From sinking sand He lifted me, with tender hand He lifted me, from shades of night to plains of light, O praise His name, He lifted me. … Love lifted me! Love lifted me! When nothing else would help, love lifted me!” Those songs mixed through my mind and heart causing me to contemplate what God was trying to tell me. Two thoughts seemed to come from those song lyrics:

1) I am a sinner. Too often I turn my back on God. I let anger, jealousy, rejection and worry fill my mind instead of surrendering completely, trusting God to guide me and fill with His peace. No matter how many times I break God’s heart, and get stuck in the mud and mire of sin, He lovingly comes along and draws me close to Him. He tenderly, yet firmly scrapes off the mud of sin that is stuck to my heart and makes it easier to follow Him closely each day.

2) Relationships.  During Christmas we focus on the blessing of Christ’s birth to give us the gift of salvation through His sacrificial death. It seems that the need to tell others of Christ’s love is even stronger. However, with broken relationship and others who don’t want to hear of Christ, it isn’t always easy to share who God is. It seemed like God was reminding me as I walked that He is working tenderly, gently in the hearts of the people I care about who don’t know Him personally or aren’t living lives that put Him first. Instead of worrying over a lost loved one, I kept hearing – When nothing else will help (not my nagging, impatience, anger or worry), it will be God’s love that lifts them to Him. God seemed to be challenging and reminding me I need to be a reflection of His love to those in my life. I also need to be available to be used by God to gently help scrape away the mud and miry clay if He so leads.

3) Also, in my worrying over the absence of a loved one, He reminded me of His ways of turning around a heart filled with despair through David’s Psalm 40

 1 I waited patiently for the Lord to help me, and He turned to me and heard my cry. 2 He lifted me out of the pit of despair, out of the mud and the mire. He set my feet on solid ground and steadied me as I walked along. 3 He has given me a new song to sing, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see what He has done and be amazed. They will put their trust in the Lord.

4 Oh, the joys of those who trust the Lord, …

5 O Lord my God, You have performed many wonders for us. Your plans for us are too numerous to list. You have no equal. If I tried to recite all Your wonderful deeds, I would never come to the end of them.

11 Lord, don’t hold back your tender mercies from me. Let Your unfailing love and faithfulness always protect me. 12 For troubles surround me—too many to count! My sins pile up so high I can’t see my way out. They outnumber the hairs on my head. I have lost all courage. 13 Please, Lord, rescue me! Come quickly, Lord, and help me.

16 But may all who search for You be filled with joy and gladness in You. May those who love Your salvation repeatedly shout, “The Lord is great!”

May you be filled with the abundant blessing of God’s love lifting you from your cares ~ Faye

Filled with True Hope

Not everyone eagerly looks forward to the holidays because of the hurt that comes with family and friend gatherings. Sometimes behind a smile, there can be hidden a heart that is burdened for someone else, over a broken relationship, or grieving a loss.

I was reviewing my journal from December 2009. At the time, I had been reading Psalm 33 and was struck with the thought, “If God is in control of ALL things, how can I question my faith?” Or maybe it should say, “How can I question God?” We were dealing with a long lapse in communication with our son. I had been pouring my heart out to God over the situation when God seemed to break down His word almost verse by verse.

Here’s a portion of what I wrote back in 2009 along with some current thoughts:

vs. 1-3 – Praise the Lord, be filled with Joy! That’s really hard when one is full of worry. Worry is doubting in God being in control of ALL things.

vs. 4 – God is faithful in ALL He does. The New Living Translation (NLT) says, “we can trust everything He does.” He’s in control. He knows what’s going on – all the details. He loves our son so much more than we ever can.

God’s word IS true. We can trust everything He says. God’s word tells us “I can never escape from Your Spirit! I can never get away from Your presence!” (Psalm 139:7) These words give assurance to a mom and dad who worry over their child’s long absence. God is with us! God knew us when we were formed in the secret place, knew us before we were born, and will never leave us. He knows our pain and He knows what is happening in our son’s life.

vs. 5 – The Lord’s unfailing love FILLS the earth. Wherever our loved ones are, God’s love is there reaching out to them.

vs. 8 – Let all the people of the world revere/fear Him, for He is the God who created and ordered all of creation.

vs. 11 – But the plans of the Lord stand firm FOREVER – the purposes of His heart through ALL generations. It seemed like these words jumped off the page. God’s plans are for ALL generations, even an absent child. The NLT says, “His intentions can never be shaken.”

vs. 20-21 – Keep hoping in the Lord. He is your help.  Don’t stop lifting up your loved ones to God, but keep hoping with hearts overflowing with joy as we trust in Him.

vs. 22 – May Your unfailing love rest upon us (surround us), O Lord, for our hope is in You alone. “Put your hope in God for I will yet praise Him, my Savior and my God.” (Psalm 42:11)

My  hope isn’t supposed to be on the relationship or the issues surrounding it. My hope isn’t waiting for the phone to ring, or the email to come. My hope is to be founded firmly in the Lord. I’m supposed to surrender my worries and REST in Him; abiding JOYFULLY in God!

Don’t let Satan steal your joy in God. Be filled with His love. Abide fully in God’s word for the truth. Let your Hope be in the Lord, especially when it comes to the difficult relationships and losses you may endure, particularly during the holidays.

Praying you will be abundantly blessed with God’s unfailing love ~ Faye

 

Love One Another

When I married my husband 35 1/2 yrs ago, we had this song in our wedding – “Love one another, love one another, as I have loved you. And care for each other, care for each other, as I have cared for you. And bear one another’s burdens, and share each other’s joys, and love one another, love one another, and bring each other home.” For some reason, that type of love has been relatively easy to share with my husband over all these years. God has blessed us greatly in our relationship.

But oh how I wish I had lived that type of Godly-love for my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ! There have been way too many fellow believers over the years who are walking-wounded because of my sinful words or actions. Living in a small town the past few years and getting to know many people following the 2008 flood, there have been good and bad times as well. Recently some hurtful words were said about me. As God has been working on healing and restoring, He’s put some of the people who were involved back into my life. I’ve wanted to ignore them or retaliate. However, after studying 1 John daily for eleven weeks, I’ve been reminded over and over again, I’m supposed to LOVE these people with the love of God and the love of Christ because I love God.

GOD’S LOVE – John 3:16-17, “For God loved the world so much that He gave His one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life. God sent His Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through Him.”

CHRIST’S LOVE – Philippians 2:5-8, “You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had. Thou He was God, He did not think of equality with God as something to cling to. Instead, He gave up His divine privileges; He took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being. When He appeared in human form, He humbled Himself in obedience to God and died a criminal’s death on a cross.”

God’s love shows us redemption and grace through sacrificial giving. Christ’s love shows us sacrificial giving through obedience and humility to God’s will.

So I’m asking myself, especially with difficult people, “Am I showing them the love of God and the love of Christ in my words and actions?” There are so many times I’m grateful that my thoughts are filtered through God’s love before they come out of my mouth.

By sharing God’s love, something good happens, not only to the people we love, but also in us. God’s abundant love and grace poured out on others is a transforming gift to us.

May you enjoy the blessing of God’s love and grace especially as you share His love with others ~ Faye

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