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The Intimacy of Grace

In your own words, what does grace mean to you?

Many of us use the term grace loosely, by putting an introductory word before it, like that’s my saving grace, we sing the song amazing grace, we even say grace around our dinner tables before eating.  Grace is such a beautiful entity by itself and doesn’t really need another presiding word next to it.

What is grace and why do we even need it?

In case you haven’t seen the news lately, our world is a pretty corrupt and evil place.  We need grace like we need oxygen to breathe.

Grace is one of those definitions we can read from a book, but isn’t really understood until we’ve received it.

Grace by definition means the ‘unmerited favor of God towards man.’

Grace is something God freely gives us.  There’s an antinomy of grace which exists where we are all given the free gift of grace, something we could never earn or deserve.  Yet how could we be freely given something without ever earning or deserving it?

“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith–and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God–”  Ephesians 2:8

The answer is simply, because He loves us.  

How many of us have gotten close enough to grace to see what the grace of God really entails? Click To TweetThere are so many pictures of grace in which Jesus shows us He loves us despite our shortcomings, our failures and mistakes.

We see His grace in the story of The Prodigal Son in Luke 15:11-32, when a father takes back his son after he left and spent all of his inheritance.  He celebrates his return with the fattest cow in the herd to show his son how much he missed and loved him.  He didn’t chastise him.  He didn’t give him a lecture, ‘I told you so.’  He embraced him with his undying love sending the message, ‘you are loved and I missed you.’

We see His grace with Peter in John 21:15-25, when Jesus asks Peter, “Do you love me?”  He asks him the same question three times in a row, the same amount of times Peter denied Jesus after he was captured by Roman soldiers.  Asking Peter to profess his love for him the same amount of times Peter denied him, invited him into God’s sanctuary of grace allowing him to receive redemption.

We see His grace with the stoning of the adulterous woman in John 8:1-11.  When a woman is brought before Jesus in front of a crowd of people to make judgement upon her for her actions, Jesus responds in a way no one had ever heard or seen before.  Jesus then says to the people, “Let the one who has never sinned throw the first stone.”  Then one by one everyone dropped their stones and walked away.  When no one was left except Jesus and the woman, Jesus asked, “Where are your accusers?  Didn’t even one of them condemn you?” “No, Lord,” she said.  And Jesus said, “Neither do I.  Go and sin no more.”

These pictures of grace show me, God doesn’t condemn us but loves us despite our wrongdoing.  Grace doesn’t mean he likes our sin or even agrees with it, but means He never turns his back on us or leaves us.

The definition of Intimacy doesn’t necessarily mean something physical.  By definition intimacy means ‘close familiarity or friendship, closeness.’

There is an intimacy or closeness of grace that we would never receive if we weren’t near Him. In each of the above scenarios, each person received God’s grace when they were in His presence.  When God’s love was poured out to them instead of condemnation.

There isn’t a clause that says, grace covers everyone except the evil and wicked, God’s grace is for everyone who willingly accepts it.  God’s grace is one of those things we keep close by but rarely get close to because we’re afraid there’s something required of us.  There must be something God wants from us in order to give this to us.

God wants US.  He wants our HEARTS.  He desires Us.

Imagine if you were the woman whose life was spared from being stoned.  Imagine if you were given that much love and grace, how would you respond?  I think God’s grace was the deal breaker that changed her life to not want to sin anymore.  When God’s grace is staring at us directly in the face, it’s hard to deny the source of where it came from.

We receive the Intimacy of Grace when:

God pours joy into our pain

God’s love chases us down in the most unlikely places

It doesn’t matter how far lost or gone we are, He will find and embrace unconditionally

God covers our shame and there’s no where else to hide except in his light

Even in our poor choices we receive forgiveness and redemption

We receive his eternal gift of salvation

The most intimate, closest moments I’ve had with God were when I’ve been the most broken.  When I’ve been down on my knees before him alone in prayer and he whispers to me, ‘my child I AM here.’

He loves us so much he sent his son to die for us so we could be with Him in heaven.  The same way the cross brought pain to Jesus is the same cross that brings us freedom.  The same grave that brought death to Jesus, is the same grave that brings victory to us.

The closer we get to God’s grace the clearer we see, there’s nothing we could do to make God not love us more or leave us.  The closer we are the clearer we see his undying, unconditional, eternal love desires us more than anything.  Have you received God’s wonderful gift of grace?  You are loved my friend!

How close have you been to God’s grace?

Do you believe God’s grace is for you?

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#ShareFourSomethings

Loved- God’s Grace Said-Song by Elevation “Come to the Altar” Learned- You don’t have to be good to be perfect Read- Everybody Always by Bob Goff


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The Clothes We Wear

I’m always so amazed when I’m in my closet looking for an outfit when I pass by something I’ve worn before at an event in my life, I’m taken back to that day.

When my eyes set on my wedding gown that’s preserved in a box in my closet, I’m taken back to my wedding day.

When I browse by an ugly sweater I wore to a Christmas party I’m taken back to that day.

When I peruse past a certain dress, I’m taken back to the day of the funeral, the ball, the function I attended.

Why is it every shirt, pair of shoes or dress I wear just by looking at the outfit I’ve worn before, my mind takes me back to that memory of the day of the clothes I’ve worn.

Yet when I put on those clothes I am branded with the memory or feeling associated with those clothes.

My memory is my memory regardless of the clothes I wore, yet I identify myself with them.

The clothes I wore don’t define me.Click To Tweet

The clothes I wear don’t make me who I am.

The clothes I wear don’t make me more important.

They don’t give me more value.

They don’t prove anything.

They are just mere clothes I wear.

So how do I rid myself of these associations?

By putting on a new wardrobe.

Colossians 3:10 MSG, “10 Now you’re dressed in a new wardrobe. Every item of your new way of life is custom-made by the Creator, with his label on it. All the old fashions are now obsolete.”

Paul is telling the Colossians they don’t have to focus on past labels or the old fashions of life. He was teaching them when their focus was on their Creator, on what He had done for them, they were putting on a new wardrobe, a new self one that was free from their past.

Colossians 3:12 MSG

12 So, chosen by God for this new life of love, dress in the wardrobe God picked out for you: compassion, kindness, humility, quiet strength, discipline.

We have been chosen to live out a life of love and not bound to the mistakes of our past or ugly cycles of defeat. When we clothe ourselves with the loving kindness compassion of Christ we are putting on a new wardrobe, a new self.

So maybe the clothes I wear do define me?

The worldly clothes I wear don’t define me, but the clothing of Christ does.

I love the way Paul teaches because he uses analogies we all can relate to of physical, worldly things and translates them into the spiritual. He even tells the Colossians in (Col. 3:8 MSG), “Don’t lie to one another. You’re done with that old life. It’s like a filthy set of ill-fitting clothes you’ve stripped off and put in the fire.”

We don’t have to revert back to old ways, we don’t have to keep putting on that old wardrobe that keeps us cuddled up to our sins. We can take them off and throw them away for good never returning back to them because of the death and resurrection of Jesus.

Do you have the one stand out garment in your closet, the go-to garment you put it on and everyone recognizes its unique and different?

Paul gives further instructions and tells us about stand out garments.

“13 Be even-tempered, content with second place, quick to forgive an offense. Forgive as quickly and completely as the Master forgave you. 14 And regardless of what else you put on, wear love. It’s your basic, all-purpose garment. Never be without it”. (Colossians 3:13-14 MSG).

No matter what wear love. That is our go to, must have garment.Click To Tweet

When we put on love we are able to be kind, compassionate, humble, and forgive. We are able to leave behind the past allow ourselves to walk into the future filled with hope and freedom.

When we put on love we will be filled with God’s strength and discipline. We don’t have to try with our own strength when we put on love we are free from our sinful tendencies.

When we put away our bad tempers, irritability, meanness, profanity, and dirty talk, and put on love, others in the world will notice and recognize the love and compassion of Christ. And “When Christ (your real life, remember) shows up again on this earth, you’ll show up, too – the real you, the glorious you” (Colossians 3:4 MSG).

What kind of clothes do you wear?

What’s in your wardrobe?

A Prayer- Lord Jesus, help us get rid of anything keeping us in the past, keeping us from you. Help us get rid of our old worldly wardrobes and clothe ourselves with your kindness, humility, strength, discipline and above all else your love, God. I pray we will choose to wear love every day. May it be apart of our everyday lives, our everyday speech and actions. May love be our choice and response above all things, Lord. Help us put on a new wardrobe, one that you have created, never to put on our old wardrobe again. We thank you and praise you Jesus for who you are and what you are able to do. We love you. In Jesus name, Amen.

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I would love to start a conversation with you! Leave your comments below!  


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The Message and The Miracle

Have you ever gone through a hard time in your life and questioned is God even there? Or does he even care?

Sometimes I’ve caught myself questioning God and his motives when I’m going through hard times. I question God ‘why is this happening to me? Don’t you even care?’ Then he so tenderly reminds me, yes he does care more than I’ll ever know.

In my struggle I realize I’m not the one waiting on God, he’s the one waiting on me. If I just opened my eyes to see what God is trying to show me, His creations are all around me. He has made the heavens, the earth and everything in it. He has already sent Jesus to die for us.

Do I really need him to show me another sign of what he is capable of doing?

My unbelief and doubt aren’t so far off from the Pharisees and the crowd Jesus fed.

The gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, capture the life of Jesus, his ministry, his death, and resurrection. Each gospel captures Jesus’ messages and miracles he performed. Jesus didn’t perform a miracle without there being a deeper message at hand. When a person reads the gospels one will see the pattern of a message then a miracle, a message then a miracle. When we look deeper, we can see this message and miracle pattern in our lives as well.

In the gospel of John 6, Jesus had just performed the miracle of feeding 5,000 people from only 5 loaves of bread and two fish. The crowd was amazed at this miraculous sign that Jesus did. After performing this miracle, Jesus withdrew from the crowd knowing the crowd intended to make him their king. The crowd then went looking for Jesus in Capernaum.

When the crowd finds Jesus, he then says, “I tell you the truth, you are looking for me not because you saw miraculous signs but because you ate the loaves and had your fill. Do not work for food that spoils but for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. On him and the Father has placed his seal of approval.” (John 6:26-27)

Jesus knew their hearts already. They weren’t looking for a Messiah, the one who could give them eternal life, they were looking for another miracle.

John 6:30 says, “So they asked him, “What miraculous sign then will you give that we may see it and believe you? What will you do?”

Can you even imagine asking Jesus, ‘what else can you do before we believe you?’ It didn’t matter the crowd had just witnessed Jesus miraculously feed a crowd of 5,000 people with just some loaves of bread and fish, the people wanted more.

The crowd didn’t need more proof of Jesus’ abilities, they needed more faith.Click To Tweet

The same scenario happened with the Pharisees after Jesus fed the four thousand people. Afterward the Pharisees questioned Jesus. They wanted to test him and asked him for a sign from heaven.

Jesus sighed deeply and said, “Why does this generation ask for a miraculous sign? I tell you the truth, no sign will be given to it” (Mark 8:12).

How many times have we been guilty of this as well?

There are signs all around us that God is with us and cares about our struggles, yet we search for God to prove his divine authority by performing miraculous signs.

In both scenarios, Jesus did not perform another miracle when they demanded it because they lacked faith. Their request for a miracle came from unbelief (Mark 8:11 footnote). God doesn’t need to prove his abilities he is able. There is evidence all around us of his divine abilities.

Do we really need more proof or more faith?Click To Tweet
What greater sign do we need from God that he can handle our trials and struggles that he hasn’t already done for us?Click To Tweet

Do we seek God like the Pharisees and crowd does, only searching for the next miracle? Are we missing the point as well?

Our relationship with God goes deeper than him supplying for all of our needs and making sure everything is good in our lives all the time. Our relationship with God is more than just a good feeling that is temporary. Our relationship with God is eternal and everlasting.

Behind every miracle lies a deeper message.Click To Tweet

What do you seek God for? To perform another miracle? Or to be your Messiah who has come to give you life?

Searching for a miracle from God without faith is like a person telling a horse to move without ears. Faith without action is dead. Seeking a miracle without receiving God’s deeper message is like sending Jesus to die for us without the resurrection. The death and resurrection of Jesus is the greatest message and miracle ever.

Jesus’ death would be pointless if there wasn’t a resurrection. Jesus was preparing the hearts of people to have faith in him was going to require believing in the unseen of what God could do.

Matthew 17:20, “Because you have so little faith. Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.”

We only need faith the size of a mustard seed for God to move the mountains in our life.Click To Tweet

Do you believe our faith in God leads to life’s biggest miracles?

Do you see the pattern of a message then a miracle in your life?

It’s all about meeting Jesus right where we are. In Him, we have life to the full that is complete and everlasting (John 10:10). Have a blessed week!

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Crumbs From the Table

With the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday, I am sure we are thinking, what can we do with all of our leftovers?  There is a division in our household whether or not leftovers should even be allowed.  Leftovers are a great solution for a quick meal in a busy family household.  However, there are definite rules for the leftovers in our house.  They can’t be kept in the fridge or eaten past 3 days and they can only be heated up once (so only take what you will eat).  And whatever is leftover from the leftovers usually goes into our dog’s bowl.

How do you approach leftovers in your household?

Would you be happy to have leftovers?

Leftovers make me think of the Syrian Phoenician woman in the Bible.  This woman approaches Jesus and cries out, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on me!  My daughter is suffering terribly from demon-possession.”  Jesus did not answer a word.  So his disciples came to him and urged him, “Send her away, for she keeps crying out after us.”  He answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel.”  The woman came and knelt before him.  “Lord, help me!” she said.   He replied, “It is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to their dogs.”  “Yes, Lord,” she said, “but even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table.”  Then Jesus answered, “Woman, you have great faith!  Your request is granted.”  And her daughter was healed from that very hour.  Matthew 15:21-28

The Syrophoenician woman’s name is not mentioned in these verses, but her story is such a powerful one.  She recognized Jesus had the power to heal the sick and sought His help on behalf of her daughter who was possessed.  His disciples tried to encourage Jesus to send the woman on her way.  Jesus then replies He is only there to save the lost sheep of Israel, meaning bring the good news of the gospel to the Jews.  Jesus and His disciples had just entered the city of Tyre, a city of Gentiles.

Jesus’ presence in the city could not be kept secret.  He was trying to explain to the woman, a person wouldn’t give a dog their meal first without eating, then that person would be hungry.  He was explaining let the lost sheep eat first.  The woman understood what Jesus meant and replied she was willing to settle for crumbs from the table–mere crumbs would be sufficient for her.

Can you imagine this scene?  A desperate mother kneeling in the presence of Jesus, recognizing He is her Lord, asking for healing for her possessed daughter, who wasn’t going to stop until she received an answer.  Because of her faithfulness, Jesus granted her request.  He recognized she was a woman of great faith, who was willing to settle for whatever Jesus gave her.

I will be honest.  I don’t know if settling for crumbs would be good enough for me.  Sometimes in my set ways, I want the whole meal.  This woman’s faithfulnesses impresses upon me because she recognized that the crumbs were enough and all her daughter needed to be healed.

Would you be happy with mere crumbs?

Sometimes in life, I want it all.  If I could choose what I want, I’d choose to have good health for my family, a nice house, a good job, and happiness all the time.  But life doesn’t work that way does it?  We can’t have everything all the time, can we?  The power of God’s will is greater than anything we could ever desire.

 This woman’s faithfulness allowed her to see the crumbs of Jesus are greater than anything this world could ever offer her.

God's leftovers are better than any meal we could ever have.Click To Tweet

To pick and choose what parts of life we do and don’t want, we miss out on God’s greatest blessings along the way.  Keeping our eyes on Him and being content with His provision leads to the most victorious life ever in Him. His leftovers are greater than anything this world could provide.  So……..

Who wants leftovers?

 

Are you willing to accept crumbs from the table?

 

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. John 10:10Click To Tweet

Prayer:  “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.  Give us today our daily bread.  Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.   And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.”  Matthew 6:9-13

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3 Things We Can Do When Tragedy Strikes

What a heartbreaking week it has been for the city of Orlando.  For all the victims, their families, the devastation and lives that have been lost.  It’s an unnerving feeling when evil shows it’s face, lurks around in unexpected places and attacks when you least expect it.

It is a face I know oh too well and a face I’d rather not see over and over.  If there is one thing tragedy has taught me is there is a choice to make.  To allow evil to illicit fear and dictate our actions or to choose love and allow love to dictate our actions.  

When love is the choice, evil never has a chance. No amount of evil can ever destroy God's love. Click To Tweet

When love is poured out onto tragedy good things grow from it.  Nothing ever good grows from hate or evil.  The face of evil may change, how they attack, what they target, but God’s love never changes.  It is and always will be bigger.  It will never fail you and is what will keep you anchored in the storm.

No one chooses for tragedy to happen.  But when it does there is something YOU and I can do when tragedy strikes.

3 Things We Can Do When Tragedy Strikes:

1.  Love-  We are called to Love.  God loves sinners.  God does not love sin, he may not always agree with what we do but his love is unconditional.  We are all sinners.  God still loves us even if he doesn’t always agree with what we do.  Just like a parent loves a child.  His love not dependent on what we do or don’t do.  To love someone doesn’t mean you have to agree with them.

“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this, all people will know that you are my disciples if you have love for one another.”  John 13:34-35

God loves broken people and our brokenness.  When we hurt God hurts.  He loves and accepts us for who we are right now.  As Christians what an opportunity to love those who God loves.  To love how Jesus loves.  To choose love despite tragedy.  How will anyone know the love of God if we don’t love them?  

How will anyone ever know
There is Hope in Devastation
There is Order in the Chaos
There is Healing for the Broken Hearted
There is Help for the Hopeless
There is Beauty found in the Pain
There is Peace in Storm

If WE don’t show them?  

'Encourage one another, build each other up.' 1 Thessalonians 5:11Click To Tweet

2.  Pray-  “Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong, but always try to be kind to each other and to everyone, be joyful always, pray continually.”  1 Thessalonians 5:15-17 Prayer moves mountains.  It allows God’s divine intervention to intercede on our behalf.  Prayer joins us, connects us unites us.  It is our communication with God.  Prayer is powerful in numbers.  Sometimes prayer not only changes the situation but our hearts as well.  When we pray specific prayers it makes a difference.  

  • We can pray for the victims and their families to be able to get connected to receive the help they need to start their healing process,
  • Pray this will be an opportunity for them to receive God’s love and receive the beautiful message of the gospel, they can find hope and healing in God
  • Pray that Christians and the community would rise up and extend God’s love, mercy, grace and not judge, but love
  • Pray God would reveal to you how you can help and be apart of something bigger than yourself.  

3.  Come alongside those who are hurting-  “He Comes alongside us when we go through hard times, and before you know it, he brings us alongside someone else who is going through hard times so that we can be there for that person just as God was there for us.”  2 Corinthians 1:4 MSG


Just as God comes alongside us when we go through hard times we can come alongside others who are going through hard times.  Not that you desire tragedy upon anyone, but how comforting is it when you meet someone who has gone through a similar situation?  Our pain is not meant to be wasted but to turn into something good.  In a past blog post, I wrote  How to Come Alongside Others Who Are Going Through Hard Times.  We can always do something.  We can make a meal, pray, offer help and support, our time, just being available in their time of need.

God did not do this.  He does not like evil nor wishes it upon anyone.  Evil is Evil.  Evil does not come from God. Evil comes from the Prince of darkness himself, Satan.  Evil can never change the fact that God already conquered death.  Evil will keep trying to put division among us, turn us away from God making us believe God doesn’t love us, that God is not good.  If God didn’t love us he would have never sent Jesus to die for us.  He loves us more than anything, He sent his own son for us.

'For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ' 1 Thessalonians 5:9Click To Tweet

I do not have all the answers.  We may never know why tragedy happens until we go to heaven one day.  Even if God told us the answer we still may not understand.  Choosing to continually search for the answer to the ‘Why’ will only leave you on a desperate weary chase for more.  Because you will never be satisfied even if you received the answer.  

It all comes down to a matter of faith.  Trusting in God’s plan and his promises.  Please know that he only wants the best for you, He loves us beyond measure and he has the best plans ever.  His word and truth will keep you safe.  God has already fought the battle and won.  Even if evil strikes, when God’s love is the choice it will…..

Turn Terror into Triumph.
Turn Victims into Victors.
Turn a Bad situation into a Blessing.
Turn a Mess into a Message.
Turn your Pain into something Beautiful.

What evil intends for evil God will use for good (paraphrased Genesis 50:20)Click To Tweet

God loves you!  Have a Blessed week!  

I would love to hear from you!  How has God’s love transformed your situation?  Please Share!  Leave Comments below.  

Did you like this blog post?  Please share with others!  If you would like more encouraging messages sent right to your inbox, Subscribe to my blog to receive a weekly Monday Message or like my Author Facebook page to catch the latest posts.  Have a Blessed Week!


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