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Sunday grace

This day.  It’s Sweet William’s birthday, and I think of the grace of God.

I’ve lived with this man longer than I lived without him. We’ve been through so much together. There have been hard roads and there have been joyful celebrations. It is the way of a life.

How is it that we have come to this place in time? We have been shaped and molded by our experiences. We have weathered storms, and though battered and bruised, we have come through victorious. By grace.

We have celebrated life together, cried at death together, and intend to walk together for as many days as the Lord gives us.

What to do for a birthday at this age when we have celebrated so many times? We have given the gifts and signed the Hallmark cards. God has blessed us beyond what we deserve.

And it is all grace.

If not for God’s grace, we would not be celebrating a birthday today. I am convinced of it.

So we will celebrate. Celebrate life. Celebrate goodness and mercy. Celebrate the boundless generosity of a Savior who gave us all so that we could join the family.

By grace alone, we were given life to live to the full. Thanks be to God for His amazing gift of life, Sweet William’s life.

Sunday grace.

 

 

 

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Sunday grace

This song, this morning. It’s what my heart sings. My fingers touch the keyboard. I open my mouth to voice words that lift my eyes to Jesus. He alone is worthy of my trust.

‘Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus, 
and to take him at his word; 
just to rest upon his promise, 
and to know, “Thus saith the Lord.” 

O how sweet to trust in Jesus, 
just to trust his cleansing blood; 
and in simple faith to plunge me 
‘neath the healing, cleansing flood!

Yes, ’tis sweet to trust in Jesus, 
just from sin and self to cease; 
just from Jesus simply taking 
life and rest, and joy and peace.

Jesus, Jesus, how I trust him! 
How I’ve proved him o’er and o’er! 
Jesus, Jesus, precious Jesus! 
O for grace to trust him more! 

              — words by Louisa Stead

I’m so glad I learned to trust Him these many years. O for grace to trust Him more.

Sunday grace.

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Sunday grace

 

101_1664It was a free day, nothing scheduled, a rare treat. So I filled it.

  • Wrote a note to a friend experiencing depression to assure her of my care and devotion.
  • Mailed a gift to a young couple who just moved to a new area, them trying to find their place and settle into home.
  • Baked cookies and took them to a teenager who is recovering from a serious accident.
  • Delivered dinner to a family in crises.
  • Visited a friend and brought a small mum as a love offering.

Turned out, it was a busy day with an added trip to the grocery store and library, And there are always meals to prepare and cleaned up at the Wright House.

By evening, I was tired but exhilarated. It was one of the best days I’ve had in a long time.

There were those years not so long ago when we were the ones in need, and people gave and gave. Back then I looked forward to the day when we could be the givers. Yesterday was one of those days. And it was joyous.

Grace we have received. Grace we will offer.

Sunday grace.

Sunday grace

 

Dear Father and God of all, thank you for the men in my life who showed me Your love, who were strong and protective, who loved purely and acted faithfully.

Dear Father of all creation, give grace to the fathers you have put on the earth and in our lives. Give them tender hearts and strong faith. Help them see their need for You and not live as if they can do it all by themselves.

Dear Father of humanity, give endurance to the fathers who walk hard roads, who fight battles for their families, who bow low in prayer and intercede for loved ones.

Dear Father of light, shine your saving light into the hearts of fathers. May they know salvation through Jesus Christ and bear His fruit in their lives.

Dear Father of mercy, show the fathers how to live compassionately, how to forgive and ask for forgiveness. Help them to hold their tongues and tempers and let love be the language of their lives.

Dear Father and fount of all blessings, let your grace fall lavishly on the fathers. Their task is great and they need you.

Sunday grace.

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Those Pharisees

As I read the Gospels, I am perplexed by the Pharisees.

They are the learned men, the ones who study the law and the prophets. They are held in high esteem for their pious lifestyle, working hard to keep themselves from becoming contaminated by worldly things.

Their response to Jesus, His words and His actions, disturb and trouble me. Why didn’t they recognized the One prophesied in the Scriptures they proposed to know so well?

The name Pharisee has come to mean hypocrite, self-righteous. I’m pretty sure I have been one.

As Jesus gets closer to His final week of life on this earth, those men in their dignified robes become more angry with Him. They hate what He is doing and saying. They lash out with their words and try to trick Jesus with questions. They feel threatened by Jesus’ popularity and condemned by His pointed critique. He sees right through their strict adherence to the traditions while they ignore the intent of the law. The law that is love.

Several places the writers say the Pharisees feared Jesus. They feared His popularity with the people, feared their position of power was threatened, feared the Romans would take away their temple.

They lived in fear rather than living in love.

Jesus perceived their thoughts and what they hid from the rest of society – their hearts.

Jesus always see into the heart of the matter, past the forms of godliness, the pretense of having it all together.  He does not put up with facades and deceptions. He calls it out.

And so I confess to having been a Pharisee, a rule-keeper, trying hard to be good, getting it all right, keeping up the image. It was exhausting.

In love Jesus called me out on it. The gentle nudge of the Holy Spirit was convicting and convincing. I was living in fear, the fear of not measuring up, of not being good enough.

Change started when I saw my sin and confessed. I am a work in progress, the ongoing process of pruning and nurturing and staying connected to the Vine. Jesus talked with His disciples about that on their walk to Gethsemane.

The more I understand the riches of God’s grace toward me, the more easily I am able to extend it to others.

It is freedom to live free. Recognizing that God loves me just as I am, not for all the rules I try to keep or all the things I refuse to do. His love is higher than the heavens and nothing I ever did or ever will do changes that fact.

I live in a robe righteousness these days, but it is not my own. It is the righteousness purchased for me by Jesus Christ.

It’s no fun being a Pharisee, living in a state of criticism and fear instead of love. Christ came to give abundant life to those who choose Him. And I have chosen Him and want to live my every moment with Him.

If only the Pharisees could have understood.

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Sunday grace

After days of warm sunshine on my face and the wonder of an early spring, I am greeted with ice crystals and chilly breath clouds as Maisie and I walk in the early morning.

Such is life.

We receive blessing after blessing from God who gives grace upon grace.  Yet the chill of winter’s grasp pulls us to reality. We are not in Eden anymore. There are still mountains to climb, dark valleys in which to walk, trials to endure, temptations to avoid.

Still, the gifts abound in the middle of frosty days and long, uncertain nights.

This morning I am thankful.

For a warm hat, scarf, coat and gloves as I open the door and face the cold.

For gas logs that quickly warm the morning haven of home.

For strong coffee with half and half cream.

For a hot pad at my back to ease away the aches.

For Sweet William, my one and only, sitting in the rocker next to mine.

For little girl Maisie, with us almost a year now, learning obedience step by step.

For daffodils from my yard gracing our table this week.

For home filled with familiar things accumulated through our years together.

For family gathered at our table this week and for friends who feel like family.

For prayer that reaches Heaven being only a breath away.

For the daily dose of Scripture that gives me courage and turns my eyes to the Savior.

For the Word hidden in my heart that cannot be taken away.

For grace boundless and mercies new each day.

For assurance that winter lasts for a season and then comes spring.

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Sunday grace.

 

 

 

Sunday grace

For out of His fullness, the superabundance of His grace and truth, we have all received grace upon grace, spiritual blessing upon spiritual blessing, favor upon favor, and gift heaped upon gift.  John 1:16 AMP

For sunset and morning light

For food and clothing

For shelter from heat and storm

For family relations and friendships

For safety and security

For spring’s resurrecting bloom and harvest’s bounty

For anticipation of birth and release of death

For ashes from which arise beauty unimagined

For hope beyond this present existence

For the captive redeemed and the sin-sick made whole

For grace upon grace

For God is grace all-sufficient, unending, every reaching, unceasing

He giveth more grace.

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Sunday grace.