Tag Archives: grace

Just a Word

 Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.

Ephesians 4:32 (NLT)

Have you gotten used to writing 2017 yet? I love a new year — new wall calendars, new devotionals, new Bible studies, new semester. Changing over from the past of 2016 and embracing all that is ahead in 2017— I love it!

Starting from scratch has a particular appeal for me. It gets my creative juices flowing and I begin to look at a project in new ways. Never compelled to operate under the guise of “I’ve always done it this way,” the new year gives me freedom to expand what I already know and look for new and better ways to do it. “It” may be the way I decorate my house, arrange a closet, organize my library, exercise routine, or choose which areas to serve my God, family, and church.

One routine that I began in 2013 is to choose a word for the year. I thought I was being original until I opened my email today and found a devotion from a pastor telling you how to do this very thing. My journey began in sheer desperation because life was hard and getting harder. My word was HOPE. I needed to know that I was going to make it, by the grace of God. And He provided the hope that sustained me then and continues to this day. Always HOPE.

Other words flowed from that original word to include joy and grace. Last year, I though the word would be love but God had another in mind — humility. He kind of hit me upside the head but proved over and over that being humble was something I needed to practice.

This year it’s kindness. I’m just beginning so I’m not sure how it will play out but I know it will affect what I do and how I speak to family, friends, neighbors, and strangers.

Our world has become impersonal, impatient, and often unkind. We expect our life to be solved with instant messages, microwaves, emails, and TV episodes wrapped up in 40 minutes. Friendships are “likes” on Facebook. Being kind is not part of the mix and requires persistence and intentionality; two big words that may require spell check because they are not in vogue.

Yet, the outcome of a little kindness may be a new friend, a smile from an overworked employee, a squeeze of the hand or a pat on the back to let someone know you care. It may be a meal delivered in the middle of illness or crisis. Or a simple note that says, “I care.”

To help me focus, I’m always on the lookout when I read the Bible for verses to include in my journal with a focus on kindness. Etsy is a great place to find a plaque that I place on my desk to remind me of my commitment when I glance at it. If you’re artistic, make your own. God is faithful to give you opportunities to use your word and encourages you in the process.

A special blessing happened this year when my grandgirlie, Kate, called a couple of weeks before Christmas and asked me what my word was for the year. Under the tree was a bread board that she had burned in the words, “be humble.”

So…do you have a word for the year? It’s never just a word. What is God whispering in your heart that He wants you to concentrate on for 2017? Let it be a filter that God will use in your heart and mind and add in ways you never imagined.

I’d love to hear what your word is. Feel free to comment.

 

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Give Thanks

In every situation [no matter what the circumstances] be thankful and continually give thanks to God; for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus.

1 Thessalonians 5:18 (AMP)02a2c1101775ac03e45df4dea4788910

It is quiet. Not the normal quiet of my early morning latte and devotions. Not the quiet felt before the storm. Quiet.

There is no turkey in the refrigerator, no cans stacked on the counter, no tantalizing aromas, no company in the guest room. There are no fresh mums on the table, however, the house has been decorated for Fall since September. There are no lists of to-do’s and when to-do. Why? Because we are going out to dinner with friends tomorrow. It has been that kind of year.

Quiet.

Yet, it gives me time and space to think about this last year and all that God has done for me.

It was not an easy year. Two cataract surgeries, one hand surgery, and multiple shots in my eyes.

No exotic trips to far-off places (not sure I would want to go there right now, anyway). But trips to see littles and have grandgirlies’ visit are all that I needed.

The older I get, the more I appreciate people over things.

God has given me many blessings this year:

  • A husband who loves me, encourages me, helps me
  • Children who love me, love each other, love their spouses, and love God
  • A renewed and warm relationship with my daughter-in-law
  • The lights of my life—five grandgirlies—who bring me such joy
  • My dear prayer partner who listens to my heart and prays for me and I for her
  • Enduring  and encouraging friendships with women all over the US
  • Mentoring precious moms in MOPS
  • Celebrating my 50th High School Reunion (I can’t be that old!)
  • Good vision rather than looking at life through wax paper
  • Digital technology which allowed me to read my Bible, books, blogs, news with my iPad
  • The glory and grandeur of the Grand Canyon including a fun train ride
  • Enjoying the sights, sounds, tastes, and beauty of Tucson through the eyes of my grandgirlies
  • Medical technology to paste me back together
  • A home and wonderful neighbors in the gorgeous setting of the Catalina Mountains
  • A church family that has experienced many changes but remains true to God’s Word and a light in this dark world
  • And so many more than I can possibly remember…

Yes, in everything…give thanks.

GRACE has been my word this year. Jesus has given me so much more than I deserve and to Him be all praise and glory. Thank you.

 

 

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Mercy and Grace

So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most.

(Hebrews 4:16 NLT)

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For the past three years I have chosen a “Word for the Year.” It may have been chosen out of desperation or because I wanted more of it in my life. Or I wanted to show more of it to others: my words — Hope, Joy, and Grace. In typical Gerry-fashion, I researched and found devotionals, books, and apps to study and find inspiration.

But this year of Grace, I noticed that the words “grace” and “mercy” were often linked in the same Bible verse. Are they the same? What is the difference? Why are they linked?

No, they are not the same. After looking them both up in the dictionary, the way I remember the difference is that mercy is not getting what you deserve while grace is getting what you don’t deserve.

Our church has been studying the book of Jonah and his story is a good one to illustrate both mercy and grace.

Jonah completely disobeyed God’s instructions to go to Nineveh to warn the people and instead headed in the exact opposite direction. A terrifying storm overtook the boat that he was on and eventually the sailors threw him overboard to save their own skins. To their relief, the storm calmed and they were safe.

But Jonah? Mercy arrived in the form of a great fish so that instead of drowning, he was swallowed by the fish and allowed to live and think about his decisions. Grace showed up when he was vomited onto dry ground so that he had a second chance to obey God and head to Nineveh to rescue the city with God’s warning. The people of Nineveh listened and a great revival occurred and God spared the city (the same Nineveh in recent news reports.)

Another word for mercy is kindness. Of course, the ultimate example of grace is eternal life because Christ took the punishment that I deserved.

In doing a little research I found:

Grace is something we all need, but we cannot earn it or give it to others. It comes only through the sacrifice of Christ. Mercy, though, is something we need at various points in our lives, and is something we are expected to show toward others. 

As we think about mercy and grace, today’s verse reminds us to come confidently before the throne of God to express our love, worship, failures, and needs. He is there to offer kindness and unmerited favor because He loves us so much.

Every day, we have opportunities to do the same—show mercy and grace.

 

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Let It Shine

Then Jesus spoke to them again: “I am the light of the world. Anyone who follows Me will never walk in the darkness but will have the light of life.” John 8:12 (HCSB)

This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. 1 John 1:5 (NIV)

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I love singing the children’s song, “This Little Light of Mine” with my grandgirlies:

Verse 1: This little light of mine,

I’m gonna let it shine

This little light of mine,

I’m gonna let it shine

Let it shine,

Let it shine,

All the time.

Verse 2: Hide it under a bushel? No!

I’m gonna let it shine (Repeat)

Verse 3: Won’t let Satan blow it out

I’m gonna let it shine (Repeat)

Even if the girlies don’t know all the words, they know all the motions and how to hide their light (index finger) under a bushel (hand covering the finger) and how to blow it out.

The daily goal of the Christian life is to walk in that light but, sometimes, we find ourselves in the shadows.

My counselor mentioned the term “shadow self” during one of our sessions and it was unfamiliar to me. I began to pay attention as I read various blogs, posts, tweets, and then did a little research on the subject.

As a believer, I know that in Christ all things were made new when I accepted Christ as my Savior. The sins I commit today are forgiven because Jesus paid the penalty for them on the cross. However, I’m still human and live in an imperfect body for the duration of my sojourn on earth. My perfection will only be attained on the shores of heaven.

So what is the shadow? It’s that part of ourselves that we keep hidden, often not even aware that it’s there. Many aspects are not the favorite parts of ourselves but shape our thoughts, feelings, beliefs and actions. But getting to know our shadow side is like cracking the code to the “why” of some of our actions and becoming aware of changes that need to be made.

Every day, we have the choice to walk away from Christ’s light and the balance He offers and right into the plan of the enemy. It’s Satan who wants to keep us in the shadows with our darkest self. But, over and over again, Jesus reminds His followers that He is the light and in Him is no darkness at all.

Reflecting on all of this, I’m reminded that I don’t have to stay stuck. Grace and forgiveness allow God to make all things new— to refine and purify me—so that those very shadowy aspects will be used for His glory and purpose. My part is to turn to Him daily and trust Him to dispel the shadow so that I will walk in the light and “let it shine.”

 

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Glow!

See to it, then, that the light within you is not darkness. Therefore, if your whole body is full of light, and no part of it dark, it will be just as full of light as when a lamp shines its light on you.

Luke 11:35-36 (NIV)b30f69bac8a6498dd68b4614f2b8d07f

It was a lovely day and I headed out with a friend to have lunch at a local outdoor mall. After lunch, we wandered through the shops looking at clothes, shoes, and stuff for the grandkids.

As we approached one particular gift store, I raved to her about all the pretty things in it. She was unfamiliar with it, so we spent several minutes oohing and ahhing over the various styles and designs of the different collections displayed.

At one point, I reached to the back of a shelf to pick up a package of decorative napkins and accidentally knocked a small ceramic cactus off the shelf. Of course, it broke…not into smithereens but shards of the pottery from the top of the cactus crumbled into a pile on the floor.

I immediately took it back to the sales desk and showed them the remains of the piece. She responded with the price and asked for payment. Before, I could say a word, get out my wallet, or do anything, my friend said, “I will pay for it.” And she did. Nothing I said would persuade her otherwise.

Now that it was hers, we looked it over and realized that the intended purpose of this little cactus was to be placed over a votive candle to glow softly through small holes poked all over. The broken pieces were located at the top and back and we realized that it could be used if placed high on a shelf so that the imperfections would be hidden.

I felt awful and again attempted to repay her, but this gracious lady said to me, “I will use it in one of my talks to the ladies. It will be a perfect example of God’s love.” She saw possibility in the brokenness.

What a perfect example of how God sees us, always looking beyond our futile attempts to glue ourselves back together. Or, we even try to stand just right so the misaligned parts don’t show.

But, we will never be flawless until God puts us back together. His love for us was shown in the cross when all that sin and brokenness was stamped Paid in Full – just like my friend did for me at the store. Now, our intended purpose will be fulfilled and the light of Jesus will shine through us as we tell our story of healing and wholeness.

I love the children’s song, I am a Promise.” May the lyrics encourage you today:

I am a promise

I am a possibility

I am a promise with a capital “P”

I am a great big bundle of potentiality

And I am learnin’ to hear God’s voice

And I am tryin’ to make the right choice

I am a promise to be anything God wants me to be.

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Wisdom in the Quiet

A gracious woman gains respect,

    but ruthless men gain only wealth.

Your kindness will reward you,

    but your cruelty will destroy you.

Proverbs 11:16-17 (NLT)

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Getting up early in the quiet, and often dark, part of the morning has become a cherished routine. I gather my devotionals, journal, and Bible and settle into my couch. Since GRACE is my word for 2015, I’ve collected a few books with that theme and am gaining insight as to what grace really looks like.

But it occurred to me that I was doing a lot of reading of everything but the Bible. I know God wants to speak to me directly and His word is the best source. Devotionals are wonderful but the meat is in the Word.

I love the Psalms and have worked my way through them a couple of times, however, I wanted something different. Proverbs came to mind since it was the first of the month and there are 31 chapters.

I’m using my iPad these days because of my vision. I can increase the font so it is much easier to read. I can also highlight with a simple click.

As I reread Proverbs 11, a theme emerged. Several character qualities were listed: discretion, generosity, graciousness, kindness, honesty, integrity, godliness, and humility.

Thought provoking. Where am I on the scale?

Proverbs is known as a book on wisdom. I’m praying that God will teach me and prod me in areas that need work.

Wise words bring many benefits,

    and hard work brings rewards.

Proverbs 12:14 (NLT)

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2015 Word

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Happy New Year! It seems like December zipped by with hardly an extra moment to sit down and write. But, I love a fresh start. That’s probably one reason why I change out my home decorations seasonally. And today, the winter ones found their places throughout the house.

For the past couple of years I have chosen words for the year. HOPE was my word for 2013, and JOY for 2014. As I prayed and thought about what I would like to receive from the Lord this year, the word GRACE seemed to be what God was telling me.

But it is not just about receiving His marvelous grace, as wonderful as that is. It is also showing that same grace to those I meet in my daily walk — from family and friends, to the grocery store clerk, the appliance repair man, even the car that cuts me off on the highway.

As I thought about grace, I wondered exactly what the definition was:

A prominent Old Testament word describing God’s grace is chesed. This word speaks of deliverance from enemies, affliction, or adversity. It also denotes enablement, daily guidance, forgiveness, and preservation.

The New Testament word is Charis. It focuses on the provision of salvation.

I’m so grateful for the grace God shows me each and every day. My prayer will be to show that same grace to others.

Did you choose a verse or a word for the year?

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