GRACE – What or Who? (Part 2)

WhatGRACE  Who?

bluebutterfly (MF)

(Part 2)

Last week I blogged about “Grace – Who or What?”  This week I will continue with  “Grace – What or Who?”.  M Reader, if you did not read last week’s post or would like to review what was shared, feel free to check out last week’s post before you continue reading here.

Gbluebutterfly (MF)race What?
Last week I developed my understanding of the definition of grace given by Don Meares.  Let me restate this definition for us this week to refresh our memories. 

Grace is the
empowering presence of God enabling you to be what God has
created you to be and to do what God has called you to do.”

Another explanation of grace that I like is defined by John Bevere in A Heart Ablaze.  He says (p.97),

Grace is His (God’s) bestowed ability to do what His truth demands.
  It empowers us to obey God’s words.” 

 What is God’s bestowed ability?  It is God’s empowering presence!  What does God’s truth demand?  It demands me to be who God created me to be and to do what He has called me to do!  These two definitions fit together perfectly.  I realize that God never asks me to do anything He does not equip me to do.  That is the fulfillment of grace.

 The other important fact about grace that I want to remember from last week is that grace is a gift.  I learned this in Ephesians 2:8:

For it is by grace you have been saved through faith –
and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God.”

 Ephesians 4:7NKJV tells me another fact about the gift of grace.  This verse states:

But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ’s gift.”

God’s gift of grace to me will differ from the gift of grace He gives to you, my Reader.  God gives each of us just the right amount of His power through His presence needed for each unique experience of life you or I will ever encounter.  In Matthew 28:20, Jesus says, “And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”  So, if Jesus is always with me, His presence will always be there to empower me to do what His truth demands.  When my desires are God’s desires, I cannot fail.  Wow!  That gives me confidence! However, my confidence must be in God and not in myself.  I like II Corinthians 12:9 that says,

My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”

As I continue to search the scriptures for references to grace, I find a warning about how I am to use grace in II Corinthians 6:1,

And working together with Him, we also urge you
not to receive the grace of God in vain.” 

Referring back to A Heart Ablaze, John Bevere further explains that to receive something in vain means not to use something to its full potential. (p. 97)  I certainly do not want to misuse or not use what God has placed within me!  I feel an accountability for God’s graciousness to me.  I not only want to utilize the gift of grace that He has given to me, but I also want to thank Him for this abounding gift that He has bestowed upon me!

bluebutterfly (MF)Grace – Who?
I began this two-part blog about the word spelled “g-r-a-c-e” by referring to two of our granddaughters, Grace Elizabeth and Anna Grace, who claim Grace as part of their names.  I would like to now suggest that, in a spiritual sense, each of us can proclaim Grace as  a part of our name because the Lord offers this gift to everyone. God is no respecter of persons; what He does for one of His children He will for all of us who call upon His name.  My Reader, Grace can be your name. Ask for it, receive it, and thank God for it!

candy 2 mfThe Sweetness of Grace
Again this week I make a comparison between grace and candy.  The giver of a gift of candy may choose to give a different piece of candy to different people.  It does not mean the giver likes one recipient better than another but chooses instead to make each gift similar yet unique according the to need of each individual. The giver of the gift may realize that one person needs more energy so gives that person a bigger piece of candy. The giver may know that another person likes one kind of candy better and would enjoy it more so this influences the kind of gift given.  The giver desires that the gift will not be received in vain, or without any benefit.  In turn, the recipient must remember to be thankful for whatever candy is received because it is a gift.  In relation to grace, have I not previously stressed that grace is a gift to be received?  Have I not commented about how God gives grace uniquely to each person according to the need?  Have I not shown that God bestows the ability to a person to do what His truth, or His Word, demands? Whether it be grace or candy, the giver of the gift should be shown appreciation and the gift should be used properly by the receiver.

My Reader, I close my blog today with the same words to you that John closed the last book of the Bible in Revelation 22:21,

The grace of the Lord Jesus be with God’s people. Amen.”

Joyfully,golden apple #2(MF)
Cheryl    

Challenge for this week: Sing the song Amazing Grace and think about the meaning of the words.

Advertisements

GRACE – Who or What? (Part 1)

Who?  GRACE  What?

bluebutterfly (MF)

(Part 1)

We recently celebrated the 12th birthday of our granddaughter Grace Elizabeth.  As we observed this milestone in her life, it gave me the opportunity to think about two different ways in which the word spelled “g-r-a-c-e” can be used.  Let me share my insights with you, my Reader.

bluebutterfly (MF)Grace Who?
Grace: (proper noun) feminine personal name
According to this definition of grace, I think about two of our granddaughters: Grace Elizabeth and Anna Grace.  In recent years Grace has become a popular name for girls.  However, I wonder if these girls understand the spiritual significance of their name.
This question causes me to more deeply explore what “grace” is all about.

bluebutterfly (MF)Grace What?
Grace: (noun) God giving us what we do not deserve
The definition I have just shared with you is one of the simplest, most common biblical definitions for grace.  This is how I personally understood the meaning of grace until about 12 years ago when I listened to a series of teachings on grace by Don Meares. These teachings gave me a much deeper revelation of this spiritual gift offered to me by God.  His definition of grace stated:

Grace is the empowering presence of God enabling
you to be what God has created you to be
and to do what God has called you to do.”

My Reader, please take time with me today to delve into what all these words really mean.

The first phrase tells me that grace is God’s empowering presence. Through grace, God imparts to me His own presence that contains divine power.  Galatians 2:20 tells me that if I am crucified with Christ, I no longer live, but Christ lives in me – that is His presence in me!  Philippians 4:13 tells me that I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me – that is His power!  These scriptures help me understand the meaning of the first phrase of this more complex definition of grace.

The next part of Meares’ explanation of grace is that God enables me to be who He created me to be. So, I ask, “Who did God create me to be?”  There are probably many facets to this answer, but I want to consider just one now.  James 4:6 tells me that God gives grace to the humble while He opposes the proud.  I see a direct correlation between grace and humility.  That tells me that being humble is one thing I not only need to be, but also have the ability to be because of God’s enabling presence in my life.  I like that!

Now I proceed to the last part of this definition of grace that proclaims that God enables me to do all He has called me to do. This leads to another question: What has He called me to do?  Ephesians 2:10 tells me that I am created in Christ Jesus to do good works that God has prepared for me.  Hmmm.  I guess I need to know what these specific good works are!  I continue to look in scripture and I find Luke 4:18-19 where Jesus says that the Spirit of the Lord was upon Him and He was anointed to proclaim the good news to the poor.  He was sent to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind.  He was also to set the oppressed free and proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.  If these were the works for Jesus, they are also the works for me because I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me according to Philippians 4:13. Grace truly is amazing when I ponder all that is included within this word!

My Reader, having just shared a detailed explanation of an in-depth definition of grace, there is one more point I want both you and me to remember.  This fact is that grace is a gift whether we define it with only a few words or with multiple words. Ephesians 2:8 says,

For it is by grace you have been saved through faith –
and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God.”

Grace  is not something I can just decide that I want to obtain for myself.  It is a gift from God that I must accept with gratitude and use wisely.

candy MFThe Sweetness of Grace
In conclusion for today, I want to make an analogy between grace and candy. I previously said that grace is a gift.  So, picture yourself receiving a gift of candy.  It is nice to receive it, but you will not truly benefit from it until you unwrap the candy and put it in your mouth.  Then to thoroughly enjoy it, you must chew it and savor its taste. For the full benefit of this candy, you must give it time to be digested into your system and changed into energy that your body can use.  This would be the full intent of the giver of the gift.  Now apply this sequence of actions to grace.  Grace is a gift given to you by God.  According to Ephesians 2:8, you accept this gift by faith – that is by believing and trusting God. He tells you about this gift in scripture, but until you unwrap these verses by faith and apply them to your life, they will not be of benefit to you.  However, as you personally claim and proclaim scriptures that say you are in Christ and Christ is in you, God’s empowering presence will be evident within you.  According to II Corinthians 5:17, you are a new creation in Christ.  You are now who God created you to be! Just as you receive energy from candy, you can receive power from God’s Word.  James 1:22 says that we are not only to be hearers of God’s Word but also doers.  And, going back to Ephesians 2:10, you will then be able to do what He has called you to do.

This is a gift I desire to receive! God’s grace is composed of the presents of His presence and power.  My Reader, I hope you also desire to receive and utilize this gift of grace.  The gift of grace can be just as sweet as a gift of candy.golden apple #2(MF)

Joyfully,
Cheryl

Challenge for this week:  Sing the song Amazing Grace and think about the meaning of the words.

What’s In Your Garden?

daisies for garden (MF)yellow lily (MF)SAMSUNG DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I spent some time in our flower garden this morning.  I can see it from our kitchen window, but it was refreshing to stand amidst the various plants.  I enjoyed the aroma  created by the various flower fragrances.  I touched the delicate petals of a daisy in bloom.  The lilies and geraniums produced splashes of yellow and bright pink while surrounded by green leaves. I pulled a few weeds I found growing among  the flowers because they detracted from the garden’s overall beauty.  As I plucked out those straggly looking green things, I tried to get the roots so they would not grow back so quickly. 

Suddenly I saw a spiritual analogy!  Just as I was the one tending our floral garden, I became aware of the correlation regarding the Lord being the one tending the garden of my heart.  Most likely some weedy sins in my life need to be pulled out by their roots just like the weeds in our flower garden. In Moments with Majesty, Jack Hayford comments that even the best gardens have weeds.  He also says that weeds have a way of diminishing the possibilities of fruitfulness in our lives as well as in gardens.  (p203)  My desire is to get rid of anything hindering spiritual growth in my life. I want to bear fruit for the Lord.  Weeds not only detract from beauty but they also hinder what grows in our gardens, whether they be full of flowers or life experiences.

sdianthus (SS)While I was standing amidst our flowers this morning, my attention turned to the dianthus plants.   They are covered with beautiful pinkish purple flowers, but as my hand brushed across the tops of the flowers I became aware of how many of the blossoms were dried up and needed to be snipped off.  These flowers will continue to thrive all summer if I continue to get rid of the wilted, withered, worthless remains so that new blossoms can grow. I got down on my knees and began the beheading process.  If I had neglected this process, there soon would have been only ugly dried up deadheads.  I thought I had finished my project, but when I got up from the ground and observed the plant from a different angle, I discovered more work to do.  Back down on my knees I went.  In spite of there being more brilliant blossoms than dreaded deadheads, it still seemed like a never-ending task to enable my plant to produce more flowers.  This is a labor of love I will need to continue throughout the summer for our dianthus blossoms.

Since my mind was still attuned to the spiritual symbolism in the garden,  I compared my handling of the dianthus plants with the Lord handling my life.  Just as I gently touched my flowers, so does Jesus gently touch my life to bring healing and wholeness.  From a distance my heart may seem to be flourishing for God, but if I allow His hand to touch the leaves of my life, He most likely will find some things that need to be plucked out if I am to continue to grow and bloom for Him. James 4:8 says, Come near to God and he will come near to you.  Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.  As I invite God to come into the garden of my heart and examine my life with a touch of His hand, He may push aside some of my efforts revealing things I have allowed my hands to do that have become dead works unto Him.  He may convict me of a need for repentance in order for the development of new blossoms and blessings. Romans 6:11 says, “count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus.”  That means I must get rid of the deadheads in my life in order for my life to be a flourishing flower for the Lord.

watering can MF)I completed one final job before I left our garden this morning. I filled my watering can and gave the flowers some water to keep them fresh while the sun shone on them the rest of the day.  Here was another example of God’s care for me.  In John 4:14 Jesus says,whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst, indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”  His offer of water is better than the water I gave my flowers.  Thank you, Jesus!

garden#2 (MF)My Reader, what is the condition of your garden today?  Do you need to tend to the flowers in the garden of your yard?  Do you need to allow God to be the Gardener of your soul?  Both you and I might prefer to ignore the weeds and sins in our gardens but if we tend to these fruitless factors the results will be abounding beauty.  We need to make sure there are no weeds hindering either natural or spiritual growth. May the beauty of Jesus be seen in us and not hidden by distracting weeds or worthless deeds.

Joyfully,golden apple #2(MF)
Cheryl

A personal question for you: Is there some soil or soul gardening that you need to do this week?

Fallen Apple – Broken Limb

A Story of Life:
Fallen Apple – Broken Limb

safe apple tree (MF)

Stage 1:
A Little Golden Apple

safe single apple (MF)

Once upon a time there was a little golden delicious apple growing on a tree. The apple clung to the branch that lovingly held it to the parent tree. The apple was happy hanging out on the tree with similar fruit. As the little apple grew, the fruit it produced also grew in quality and quantity.  During its time of growth, there were also times of pruning.  Some of the green leaves growing near the yellow apple were snipped by the pruning shears in order for more growth to take place within the fruit.  The little apple would be nervous when the shears came near, but it tried to learn its lessons. (John 15:1-8)The little apple increased in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and man. (Luke 2:52 NKJV)

Stage 2:
A Not-So-Little Golden Applesafe single apple (MF)

As time passed and the apple grew, new aspirations grew within the heart of the not-so-little apple.  This piece of fruit knew that it was chosen by God to go forth and bear fruit that would have lasting affects. (John 15:16) The not-so-little apple was learning that there was more to life than just hanging out with other nearby fruit.  After conversations with God and friends, the apple felt like it had received further direction for its life. Being an apple, one of this fruit’s favorite scriptures was, “Timely advice is as lovely as golden apples in a silver basket.”( Proverbs 25:11 Living Bible) This not-so-little apple felt that God wanted it to share insights, or timely advice, through writing a blog.  The apple wanted to become “advice” or food to be placed into the “baskets” or lives of other people.  After all, had the apple not heard that one is to taste and see that the Lord is good? (Psalm 34:8)  So, the not-so-little apple wanted to be a piece of fruit providing a taste of God for others.

Stage 3:
A More Mature Golden Applesafe single apple (MF)

 Beginning in February 2013, the more mature golden apple was happy to be a fulfillment of being “a word fitly spoken like apples of gold in settings of silver.” (Proverbs 25:11 NIV) That is, until June 9, 2013.  On that day, the apple fell off its tree!  The apple now had bruises that had to be discarded before parts of its fruit could even be considered for applesauce.  Any words that might want to be “fitly spoken into settings of silver” now found themselves fitted into a cast after the setting of its right arm.  Oh dear!  Did that mean the golden life of the apple was over?  No!  The more mature apple knew it was still the apple of God’s eye. (Deuteronomy 32:10)  Thanks to the help of similar fruit it hung around with, life continues beyond a fall.  This apple is well cared for and fed.  Words of the blog are typed more slowly with the left-handed one finger method along with the assistance of other helping hands.  The apple just needs to remember that it can do all things through Christ who gives it strength. (Philippians 4:13)  It still can bear fruit.

 Moral of this Story:

safe apple tree (MF)

Most likely you have come to understand that I am the apple of this story. My Reader, I have chosen to share this experience with you because not everything in life goes perfectly for any of us, even when choosing to live for Christ and to be obedient to Him.  Romans 8:28 says,  “We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”  God has a greater purpose for our lives than we can begin to currently comprehend.  Our falls and failings can and will be used for God’s glory if we will allow the Lord to use us in the ways He desires.  We need to cling to the Lord’s promise in Ecclesiastes 3:11 that assures us that He will make all things beautiful in His time.

Joyfully,
Cheryl

Freedom – National and Spiritual

fireworks (MF)Tomorrow is the Fourth of July  Independence Day America’s BirthdayAll of us will be celebrating, but do you, my Reader, and I really think about what the day actually means?  As we watch displays of fireworks, do we truly see these spectacular shows as being reminiscent of battles fought for our country to be free? After looking online at various entries for freedom descriptions, I have joined and condensed comments to refine my definition of freedom relating to what I want to say today.  Freedom is the state of being free rather than confined under physical restraint.  It is a release from external control or undue restriction.  It is liberty.  Freedom can be political or personal. 

america-flag For Americans politically and historically,  July 4, 1776, is the date that the Continental Congress adopted the Declaration of Independence that claimed freedom for the thirteen original colonies from the rule of Great Britain. Democracy was born.  America became known as the land of the free and the home of the brave.  This is the primary reason for the holiday we are celebrating tomorrow.  Rightfully, it is a national and federal holiday.

flags For Americans personally, we each now have the gift of freedom that people of many nations have never experienced.  However, God also offers each of us a spiritual freedom that can be gained whether we live in a land of democracy or not.  In John 5, Jesus talks about the freedom from sin that He offers us.  He says in verses 31-32, “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed.  And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”  He goes on to say in verses 34-36, “Most assuredly, I say to you, whoever commits sin is a slave to sin.  And a slave does not abide in the house forever, but a son abides forever.  Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed.”

Our right to freedom in America did not just happen on the day the Declaration of Independence was signed.  The American Revolutionary War or the American War of Independence was fought between the years of 1775 and 1783. Our political freedom from Great Britain was something for which we needed to fight and it took a significant length of time for battles to be fought and victory won.  The same is true for our spiritual freedom.  Christ has set us free, but we continue to have spiritual battles to fight. However, these battles are not fought in the same way the military battles were fought for our freedom as a nation.  Ephesians 6:12 says, “For our struggle is not  against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the spiritual forces powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.”  (You might like to dust off an old history book or check online for history information to refresh your memory with the details of this war.  You also might like to search some scriptures regarding spiritual warfare.  In Ephesians 6:12-18 Paul describes the pieces of armor to be worn for spiritual battles.  These include the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, the gospel of peace, the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit . Also II Chronicles 20:14-30 is a good example of how God instructed Jehoshaphat to fight a specific battle through praise.)

 My Reader, do you and I realize the cost paid by our forefathers in order for us to have political freedom today?  Do we realize the cost paid by Jesus in order for us to have spiritual freedom today?  Let us not forget the price of freedom, but also let us celebrate and value what has been done for us.

Happy Fourth of July!    Happy Independence Day!

Joyfully,  golden apple #2(MF)
Cheryl