Grace Notes

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Grace Notes – Music Notes – God’s Notes
I want to take note of these notes today!

Musical grace notes are described as notes of short duration before the sounding of the relatively longer-lasting note that immediately follows these diminutive notes. These notes do not take away from the time value of the primary note that is part of the rhythm and melody line of the musical composition. When I think about musical grace notes, I think of short, quick notes that add embellishment with a flourish to an otherwise ordinary music note. A grace note is like an additional ornament to the melody and harmony of a song.

The Bible has many references to grace. I like to think that these scriptural verses are God’s grace notes to us. If a musical grace note is a quick note before the note that is part of the melody line, then is God’s grace a quick impartation of the awareness of His presence into the flow of my daily activities? God’s grace is a gift embellishing me with His power. I desire for God’s grace is be more than an ornament; I want it be an integral part of my life. I believe God’s grace adds beauty to my life similarly to how a grace note adds beauty to a musical song.

I take note of three definitions of grace.
*The simplest definition of grace is simply God giving us what we do not deserve, His unmerited favor.
* Another definition I like is found in the Life Application Bible and says that grace is God’s voluntary and loving favor given to those He saves.
*My favorite definition is from Don Meares, God’s empowering presence causing us to be whom He created us to be and to do what He has planned for us to do.

My Reader, today I want to send you some personal grace notes written by the Lord. I pray that you will apply these short notes to the rhythm of your life and allow them to add an embellishment to your daily routine.

grace-notes-2Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence,
so that we may receive mercy and find to help us in our time of need.
Hebrews 4:16

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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

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For from His fullness we have all received, grace upon grace.
For the law was given through Moses;
grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.

John 1:16-17 ESV

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And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ,
after you have suffered a little while,
will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.

I Peter 5:10

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My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.”
II Corinthians 12:8

Grace Notes – Music Notes – God’s Notes. When John Newton wrote the hymn Amazing Grace, I do not know that he included any grace notes in his composition,  but I do know that his words described how amazed he was regarding God’s grace. I want to conclude my notations about grace with a quote by Alexander Whyte, “Grace, then, is grace,–that is to say, it is sovereign, it is free, it is sure, it is unconditional, and it is everlasting.”

Joyfully,
Cheryl
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A Boat, Jesus, and You

My Reader, please join me today in looking at two scriptural accounts in the gospel of Mark. Both of these passages involve a boat, the disciples and Jesus. After prayerfully reading these scriptures, I want to guide you in making a personal application with the boat symbolizing your life, the disciples representing your choices and decisions, and Jesus always being Jesus.

boat

Seeing them (the disciples) straining at the oars, for the wind was
against them, at about the fourth watch of the night He came to them,
walking on the sea; and He
(Jesus)
intended to pass by them.
But when they saw Him walking on the sea, they supposed
that

it was a ghost, and cried out; for they all saw Him and were terrified.
But immediately He spoke with them and said to them, “Take
courage; it is I, do not be afraid.” Then He got into the boat with them,
and the wind stopped; and they were utterly astonished,
Mark 6:48-50 (verses 47-52 is complete account)

In the biblical account, Jesus saw the disciples straining and struggling in the boat but He did not plan to get into the boat with them. The disciples were scared until Jesus assured them of who He was. When invited, He not only got into the boat with them but also calmed the sea. To make a personal application, I think about how Jesus comes to me with the ability to calm the stormy seas of my life if I will ask Him to come into my life, or my boat, and be my personal savior. Romans 10:9 says, “that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.Romans 10:13 restates, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” Jesus sees my turbulent seas and in addition to saving me from storms, He promises to be with me through other storms. However, He will not come into the boat of my life unless I ask Him. Jesus sees me straining under my own power to overcome the storminess of my life. He is willing and able to help me but I must ask Him to come into my life. Just as Jesus got into the boat with His disciples, He will come into my life when invited. Personally, I want Him in my boat of life!

boat

Leaving the crowd, they (the disciples) took Him (Jesus) along with
them in the boat, just as He was; and other boats were with Him.
And there arose a fierce gale of wind, and the waves were breaking
over the boat so much that the boat was already filling up.
Jesus Himself was in the stern, asleep on the cushion;
and they woke Him and said to Him, “Teacher, do You not care
that we are perishing?” And He got up and rebuked the wind
and said to the sea, “Hush, be still.” And the wind died down
and it became perfectly calm. And He said to them,
“Why are you afraid? Do you still have no faith?”
Mark 4:36-40 (verses 35-41 is complete account)

In the biblical account, Jesus and the disciples were together in a boat when they encountered this storm. The disciples worked to survive the turbulence while Jesus took a nap. Finally the disciples woke Him up and asked for His help. Jesus then calmed the storm, but He also criticized them for their lack of faith. Now for a personal application. Once I have accepted Jesus as my savior, I know He is always in my life boat because Deuteronomy 31:6 states, “the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” However, I can be like the disciples and choose to strive to live my life under my own power. Being omnipresent and omniscient, Jesus is not only with me but He also knows all my circumstances. However, He waits for me to exhaust my physical strength and finally cry out to Him for spiritual strength before He acts on my behalf. I suggest that when the disciples woke Jesus, they were praying. I can ask Jesus for help during my storms by praying! I may think Jesus is asleep and not answering my prayers when I do not immediately get the answer I want. But, Isaiah 18:4 assures me, “I (God) will remain quiet and will look on from my dwelling place.” I am God’s dwelling place because I am a temple of the Holy Spirit so He is just as close to me as He was to the disciples in the boat. Although I may think He is sleeping, the Lord may be allowing me to struggle until my strength is depleted and then He will arise at the most opportune moment to intervene. He will come and save me at the perfect moment if I will pray and believe and wait for His response. The fact that Jesus calmed the seas for the disciples after they woke Him is an encouragement to me. The following quote is taken from the July 10 entry in Streams in the Desert. “Once the Lord has given us great faith (me: once I have asked Jesus into the boat of my life), He has been known to test it with long delays (me: I think He is just sleeping)…. True saints of God have endured lengthy times of patient waiting with no reply, not because their prayers were not prayed with intensity, nor because God did not accept their pleas. They were required to wait because it pleased Him who is sovereign and who gives “according to his good purpose” (Philippians 2:13)…. Christ sometimes delays His help so He can test our faith and energize our prayers. Our boat may be tossed by the waves while He continues to sleep, but He will awake before it sinks. He sleeps but He never oversleeps, for He is never too late.”

So, My Reader, have you asked Jesus into your boat? I encourage you not to allow Him to pass you by. He knows about your current storm and how you are straining with the oars of your own efforts. (This is the message of our scripture from Mark 6.) Do not be discouraged when you are caught in more storms even though Jesus is now in your life boat. He may appear to be sleeping but He is aware of the worry winds and wild waves that try to capsize your life boat. Pray; then in His wisdom, He will intervene at the most appropriate time. (This is the message of our scripture from Mark 4.) Your prayers may not be answered according to your timing, but He will never get out of your life once you have invited Him in and He will calm your storms at the best time.

Joyfully,
Cheryl
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Water and Wine

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It is a Sunday afternoon as I sit at the computer to sort through thoughts the Lord has placed in my heart and mind. This morning we attended church at the beach with the family of our daughter and son-in-law as our grandson was water baptized. Before the baptism, in the morning service, we all shared in communion. While looking out over the water of Lake Ontario, both sacraments of baptism and communion were observed – and that got me thinking. I was thinking about water with baptism and about wine, or blood, with communion.

The wedding at Cana was the setting of Jesus’ first miracle. Jesus turned water into wine when the wine supply was depleted. This miracle is recorded in John 2:1-11. In verse 7, Jesus said to the servants, “Fill the waterpots with water.” And then in verse 9, the headwaiter tasted the liquid and discovered that the water had become the best wine of the wedding celebration. When Jesus transformed the water into wine, I believe He was expressing more than His power to perform this task. Symbolically throughout scripture, water represents cleansing and wine represents the blood. Three years later after this miracle, Jesus would pay the price for our cleansing from sin by shedding His own blood. I think Jesus was setting the prophetic stage to reveal His earthly purpose when He turned water into wine.

Now I look at the account of Jesus’ death while hanging on the cross of crucifixion in John 19:28-37. At the end of the day when Jesus was crucified, verse 34 says, “one of the soldiers pierced Jesus’ side with a spear, bringing a sudden flow of blood and water.” Another connection of water and wine! This time, blood is the wine of the wedding at Cana. The fact that both liquids flowed from Jesus’ side confirmed that he was really dead. Medically, Jesus experienced hypovolemic shock that caused fluid to gather in the sack around the heart and lungs causing both blood and water to come from His side when the Roman soldier thrust a spear into His side. In Matthew Henry’s commentary, he points out that both blood and water had an important meaning in the law and represented justification and sanctification. Blood was for remission and water was for regeneration; blood was for atonement and water was for purification. Both blood and water represent the sacrifice of Jesus’ life. From Jesus’ side flowed water and blood to offer us eternal life. Still today, there is power in the redeeming blood and regenerating water that sustain the believers in Christ. This is what we celebrate as we partake of the bread and wine, or grape juice, when observing communion.  I think Jesus was foreshadowing this through His first miracle. 

I think back further into the Old Testament scriptures when God gave Moses instructions for the construction of the Tabernacle in Exodus 25-27. The Tabernacle was a picture of the way to come into the presence of God. In The Miracle of the Scarlet Thread, Richard Booker  points out that in reality, the Tabernacle was pointing to Jesus Christ who would be the real Tabernacle. Just inside the gate was the brazen altar where the blood of animals was sacrificed. Then behind the altar was the laver where washing and cleansing took place. Both of these actions had to be carried out before the priest could enter the veil into the Holy Place. Blood and water were connected in the Old Testament as well as in the New Testament.

Water turned into wine by Jesus. Water and blood flowed from the side of Jesus crucified. Water baptism and communion. Common elements with uncommon significance. Sacred symbolism evident within the two sacraments of the Christian church. As our grandson and the others being baptized went under the waters of baptism, they were washed with water while acknowledging that Jesus washed away their sins with His blood. Also, when all of us observed communion, we came together to celebrate that Jesus’ body was broken and His blood was shed for us. This morning I was enlightened by the connection between water and blood – and I am thankful to God for His revelation.

Joyfully,
Cheryl
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Portraits of People

 

silhouettes-2nebraskaRecently we returned from a wonderful vacation in rural Nebraska that included renewing relationships with family and friends whom we do not regularly see. I had time to invest in the lives of the people around me. I took time to hear what each person had to say.  As I sincerely wanted to catch with each individual regarding what was happening for them, I listened to their hearts. Today as I sit at the computer, I am pondering the precious moments and memories of our vacation.

sunflower 3A moonlight boat ride on a small lake with people who have big hearts. In peaceful surroundings, we shared peaceful conversation.

sunflower 3Dinner at an Irish pub with cousins and spouses honoring our Irish heritage by retelling old family stories and creating new family memories.

sunflower 3An afternoon spent with a dear sister in Christ at her kitchen table over a cup of tea. It may have been more than a year since we last shared a cup of tea but it seemed like only yesterday. This was only possible because of the bond of Christ we share.

sunflower 3Revisiting familiar farms while being aware of passing on the tending of the fields to the capable hands of a younger generation of future farmers for family land homesteaded over 100 years ago.

sunflower 3Stepping back into a conversation with a step sister-in-law. We had each taken too many steps since having a chance to share our families and lives.

sunflower 3A spur of the moment lunch with a cousin that could have only happened that particular day because of her and our commitments.

sunflower 3Staying overnight with a favorite cousin and her husband in a warm, welcoming environment. Even overnight was not enough time to spend with this lady.

Genesis 1:26 records, “Then God said, ‘Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness;’” So, during our vacation, whenever I spent time with a different person I was privileged to see a unique facet of the character and likeness of God. I felt it was a privilege to listen to and reconnect with these people – individuals who are special to me and to God, each one an extraordinary creation by God. I was blessed that he Lord chose these times to reveal more of Himself to me. I felt like I was experiencing the fulfillment of Romans 1:12 NLT, “When we get together, I want to encourage you in your faith, but I also want to be encouraged by yours.”

While in Nebraska, not only did I enjoy being in the presence of these special people, but I also sensed the presence of the Lord. However, today I remind myself that I do not have to be on vacation to be aware of the attributes of God portrayed in people’s lives. I simply need to take time to see each person I interact with as a unique individual revealing Christ to me. Paul concludes the book of Romans by mentioning 26 personal names along with reference to other families and groups of people. People were important to Paul. People are important to me. People are important to God.

My Reader, how about you? Each of us can make our own list of people who are examples of Christ to us. I encourage you to see the people who surround you as portraits of our Lord.

Joyfully,
Cheryl
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