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Sunday grace

Sometimes life takes a U-turn unexpectedly.

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We go about our days, attending to needs, keeping appointments, socializing with friends and colleagues. Then suddenly, we are knocked off our feet, a flash-flood event changing our landscape.

I vividly recall when it happened, more than once, to Sweet William and me. At one shocking declaration, I was glad for a door frame to fall against, lest I land on the floor.

What do we do when life throws a curve ball, twisting and turning out of control, and we cannot catch it in our hands?

Adrenalin kicks into the human body helping us fight for our loved ones and ourselves. Even as our thoughts do somersaults, somehow we get the presence of mind to think about what must be done now. Right now.

We are fearfully and wonderfully made by our Creator to respond to crises.

While we act as quickly as possible, we pray. We call on the faithful God who always has His eye focused on us, who loves us with an everlasting love, who has a plan and a purpose for all things.

We call others to pray because there is strength in numbers of the believers. We depend upon their prayers and their bearing our burdens, helping us carry a heavy-hearted load.

And we lean into a Savior who has already gone before us and prepared the way.

Life is uncertain and fragile. Amazingly crafted, we humans are still fallible. In one quick moment, we realize just how frail we are. Like a flower that grows and blooms we flourish, but this present place is not a permanent fixture. Not here on this earth.

Our hope and trust and confidence is in the eternal, things not seen with the eye or heard with the ear. We look to Jesus, fix our eyes on Him. When it all goes out of focus and we strain for clarity, He alone is our vision.

When life takes a tumble, when catastrophe strikes, when darkness overtakes and we cannot see the step ahead, we fall into the arms of Jesus, grasp his nail-scared hand, and trust Him to lead.

Be Thou my vision, O Lord of my heart.
Naught be all else to me, Save that Thou art.
Thou my best thought, By day or by night,
Waking or sleeping, Thy presence my light.

 

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Sunday grace

What if I really believed?

What if I read the words of Scripture and believed they were true?

What if I took the account of the creation of the world as genuine?

What if I heard the words, “Jesus loves you” and accepted it as fact?

What if I considered the possibility that God has a divine plan for my life?

What if I concluded that the Holy Spirit of God really does live within me?

What if I knew in my heart that Heaven awaits me because of the cross and the blood of Christ?

What if I acknowledged the stories of eye witnesses that Jesus arose from the dead and is alive, making it a reality that I can live too?

What if I were certain that my life has purpose, that my struggles are strategies to make me stronger, that trials are a testing ground of my faith, that victory is available to me in it all, and that I am more than a conqueror through Christ?

What if I simply believed?

I would live differently. I would rejoice and be glad. I would give thanks in all circumstances. I would love God and love others as I am loved.

It would make all the difference in the world.

Believe and see the glory of God.

Sunday grace.

Sunset in Colorado, by travisPhoto by Travis Wright

Our Father

{This is my monthly book review.  Thanks for allowing me to share my thoughts.}

 

“Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name.”

We say the words almost on autopilot. Sometimes we speak them without thought.

We learned them as a child, memorized by rote, and quoted them weekly at Sunday school. Perhaps they have become less to us because we have used them so much.

But I hope not.

We call it the Lord’s Prayer, taught by our Lord Jesus Christ to His disciples in  the gospels of Matthew and Luke.

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When We Say Father, Unlocking the Power of the Lord’s Prayer is a sermon of its own.

“Adrian Rogers’ last written manuscript before his passing in 2005 has been edited and brought together by his son Steve, as a final joint work. When We Say Father takes the Lord’s Prayer and breaks it down to its most basic components for readers to easily learn how to pray from the ultimate source, Jesus himself.”

When We Say Father

As I read the book, I could almost hear Adrian Rogers preaching from the pulpit. It is not a cleaned-up, edited, watered-down version but purely from the heart of a man who knew His God and wanted others to know Him.

The writing is more conversational than precise and particular. I felt like I was listening to Rogers as much as I was reading his words.

Rogers takes each portion of the Lord’s Prayer and talks it through with homespun illustrations, teaching the basics so we can understand.

Chapter titles include:

  • Our Father – “The Person of the Prayer”
  • First Things First – “The Priority of the Prayer”
  • Our Daily Bread – “The Provision of the Prayer”
  • The Freedom of Forgiveness – “The Pardon of the Prayer”
  • Deliver Us From Evil – “The Protection of the Prayer”
  • Thine is the Glory – “The Praise of the Prayer”
  • Ask, Seek, Knock – “The Promise of the Prayer”

If we want to understand the depth of the meaning of Jesus’ words, then we need to dig deep, like one exploring for treasure. The Heavenly Father invites us to know Him, and that is an astounding realization.  But we have to make an effort. Learning to pray like Jesus is a way to know God, Jesus’ example becoming our own.

“When we say Father, we express His nature. . . . When we say Father, we expect His nurture. . . . And when we say Father, we ought to exalt His name.”    — Adrian Rogers

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NOTE:   I received a copy of When We Say Father, Unlocking the Power of the Lord’s Prayer by Adrian Rogers and Steve Rogers, provided by B&H Publishing, for an honest review.  The book was free.  The words are my very own.

Sunday grace

This morning I wept.

Over the death of my friend’s husband, her blog recording their three-year journey from devastating diagnosis to final farewell. Though they had prepared for this day, how can a heart get ready for this?

Over a different friend whose husband only had weeks from his knowing to barely saying his good-byes. Who tells us how to be equipped for such things?

Over known and worried-about diseases that threaten our peace, the wondering that gives no answers; the tests, therapy, surgeries that may provide some relief but cannot put us back together all new again.

Over things like time and space, differences and disagreements that separate families when family is the place we belong, where we find ourselves and become.

Over a world gone terribly wrong with hatred and anger, where seething erupts against the innocent and helpless.

Over those who cannot or will not believe that there is something better than this, that God sent His one and only Son for relationship, for the sake of love.

And my heart longs for Eden. For the beauty of the earth God had in mind in the beginning. This world does not feel like home, not in the shape it is in.

Then I turn to behold Christ alone, the fullness of God who came to live awhile among us. He showed us the Father, and it was glorious. His beauty out-shined the darkness, breaking the night with a dazzling light. His love was overwhelming, completely pure, unconditional and freely given.

Though broken, the earth still reflects God’s magnificence in mountains and rivers, giant oaks and tiny wildflowers, in birds and bees and babies’ faces. I recognize Him in each kindness and smile, in the tender words and a loving heart.

Though broken, the world will be renovated, renewed, redeemed.

One day the weak will be made strong. The restless will find peace. The sick will be made whole. The broken will be mended. The forgiven will receive a glad welcome. The questions will be answered. The tears will be wiped away. And we will be home.

Sunday grace.

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Sunday grace

Reading Ephesians today, the first chapter reminds me how I tried to memorize some of these verses last year. I determined that Paul was very wordy. But who am I to talk?

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Paul’s usual greeting of “grace and peace to you from God our father and the Lord Jesus Christ” are comforting. I like it better than starting a letter with “Dear [so and so].”

In the few beginning verses, I’m reminded anew that I am chosen, holy and blameless in God’s sight, planned for and adopted as His daughter. I am redeemed by the blood of Jesus and have forgiveness of sins. God has lavished – lavished! – His rich grace on me. He reveals the mystery of His will to me, and all of it is freely given from the heart of a loving Father.

I was included to receive this glorious message of salvation, and I am marked by the Holy Spirit. I await a heavenly inheritance that is unimaginable.

It pleases Him to bless me like this. I am astounded at that!

In light of all these amazing graces, I pray this prayer:

Dearest Father, I ask for the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that I may know You better. I pray that the eyes of my heart would be enlightened so I will understand the hope to which You have called me. There are glorious riches awaiting me. That you call holy me holy is humbling indeed; but for Jesus, I am not.  With all my heart I want your incomparably great power actively working in me. 

And may the days of my life left on this earth be lived to the praise of your glorious grace.

Your daughter.

Sunday grace.

Sunday grace

Very early in the morning while it is yet dark, I rise, remembering the words penned about  Mary. She made her heartbroken way to a garden expecting to offer the spices of death.

Instead, she was first to receive the hallelujah message and went to proclaim it with a glad and believing heart.

“I have seen the Lord!” she said.

When I was a small child, mother bought new clothes for me to wear on Easter morning, from socks and shoes to underwear and slip. Dress, hat and gloves were spanking and sparkling fresh. I was new from the hide out.

Today,  I reach for a skirt and top that’s been hanging in my closet for years. I add a purple sweater since it is a springy Easter-like color. I put on my mother’s vintage wind-up watch and the earrings my eldest granddaughter made for me when she was a child. I reach for two bracelets, gifts from good friends, adding the one that says “forgiven” and another with golden charms attached, words written on circles, “Messiah,” “King,” “Merciful,” “Jesus.”

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I’m not new from the hide out, but I am new from within, a new creation through Jesus.

What other philosophy, religious regulations, treatment plan, or heart surgery can make someone new? In the dark of a hidden meeting Nicodemus faltered at the idea of re-entering his mother’s womb to be reborn.

It was and is what Jesus offers to those who can believe He is who He says He is – Lamb of God, the Promised One, Redeemer, Mediator of a better covenant, intercessory Great High Priest.

No longer called a sinner, I am proclaimed saint, clothed in the righteousness of the One who is worthy of the title of Savior.

I once walked in darkness, but now I am in the light.

I once was lost, but now I am found.

I once wore the stained garments of my own sin, but now I am clean.

And like Mary, I proclaim, “I’ve seen the Lord!” He is alive forevermore.

Alleluia!

Sunday grace.

 

 

 

 

A Holy weekend

It is the last day of March, time for my March ending post, but the day seems too holy to be casual or frivolous about weather and a slow spring emerging.

Sweet William and I shared a Good Friday service last night with people of our congregation. It was solemn, quiet, thoughtful. We ate the bread and drank the cup, and I left the building with remembrance etched in my mind.

At home as we prepared for bed, I spied the Passover moon out the window, brilliant in a darkening sky. I’ve missed it during the grey days of March, it hiding behind layers of cloud. The moon beckoned me into a season of the holy.

This morning I searched for a hymnal with the song sung a capella at the end of the service. O Sacred Head Now Wounded is mournful, an appropriate ending to last night’s reverent gathering.

Two millennial ago, those who loved Jesus and watched Him die were been grief-striken on the Saturday following. Death in the most cruel and painful form was pressed upon One who’s only crime was doing good on the Sabbath and claiming equality with God.

Did they huddle in homes, no words spoken, for what could be said that would relieve their hearts, broken with the sadness of finality.

We call it Good Friday, not because of any earthly good that transpired but because an eternal good was at work, what would only be apparent in days to come.

There is hope today because of that Good Friday. Death is not the end of life. For those in Christ Jesus, it is only the beginning.

Take time to think of the reality of Jesus death and resurrection. It changed the world. It changed me. It can change you.

If you want to read a post about Good Friday from 2013, you may find it here.

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