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Sunday grace

Forgiveness. Unforgiveness. I am confronted with it this morning in my morning quiet time.

And a person comes to my mind, someone who hurt me with her words, a wound that was deep. I struggled to find healing for it. I struggled to forgive.

Daily sometimes I said it to myself. “I forgive her. Lord, please do a work of forgiveness in my heart.” I willed to let the offense go, but I need a higher power to removed the pain and heal the laceration of my heart. Forgiveness is a divine attribute, not a human one.

Christ in me is the only way it can happen.

I have surmised that when I think of the offense and it does not hurt anymore, then forgiveness is complete in me. So why this morning am I thinking of it once more with a twinge of discomfort?

I’m not sure. Perhaps it is the enemy of my soul trying to torment me. Perhaps it is because someone else has upset my apple cart and gotten under my skin, making me want to retaliate. Forgiveness is once again required.

Tempting me to hold onto grudges and offenses are his prime tool. Keeping hurts alive is where a root of bitterness finds a way into my soul. And Scripture warns me not to be ignorant of satan’s tricks.

Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. — Colossians 3:13

So once again, I affirm my desire to forgive. How can I do otherwise? I have been forgiven much. I have no right to withhold it from another.

“Lord, I forgive _________ once again. Do the work of forgiveness in me, mending my heart and giving me a complete recovery.”

I don’t want to carry the burden any longer. I don’t want to be locked into a prison of my own making. I want to be free.

I have been given much grace. I will give grace as I have received it. In Jesus name. For He forgave me fully and pefectly.

Amazing.

Sunday grace.

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Sunday grace

Sweet William and I attended a wedding last night, the lovely fairly-land like atmosphere setting the mood for a special occasion.

I listened as the officiant read familiar verses from 1 Corinthians 13 during the ceremony:

Love is patient, love is kind. Love does not envy,
is not boastful, is not conceited,
does not act improperly,
is not selfish, is not provoked,
and does not keep a record of wrongs.

These familiar words are easy to read and easy to promise. But they are challenging to put into practice. I thought of how long it has taken me to learn what love really is.

Thus, the importance of the covenant of marriage, the “until death parts us” portion that assures we will not bail out when I lose patience, when the spouse is unkind, when we become selfish and easily provoked and keep all sorts of records of offences and can recite them in the heat of an argument.

While God’s love is perfect, it takes a lifetime to perfect love in us.

I’ve learned to love better over the decades of marriage to my Sweet William. And he has learned also. I’m thankful we kept trying to get it right when it was hard, that by grace alone we did not give up and give in when it seemed an easier way out.

Allowing God to love us, accepting His love, and letting Him love others through us is the way to 1 Corinthians 13 kind of love. It is what we need to endure.

Sunday grace.

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Sunday grace

I awake, move toward the coffee pot in the kitchen. I open the window over the sink, as is my habit. Coolness flows in.

The day dawns glorious as night must give way to the day. The sun will not allow darkness to remain.

I read the Word, seeking comfort. I want music this morning, something to soothe the ache in my heart. I put on a CD in the player, the piano solo begins, and this is my testimony:

In my moments of fear, though every pain every tear,
There’s a God Who’s been faithful to me.
When my strength was all gone, when my heart had no song,
Still in love He’s proved faithful to me.
Every word He’s promised is true. What I thought was impossible
I’ve seen my God do.
He’s been faithful, faithful to me.

He’s Been Faithful    by Damaris Carbaugh 

I lift my hands in honor and worship to the One who has been faithful to me. In every situation, both joyful and painful.

He was near when I felt Him and when I didn’t.

He was with me when I laughed and when I cried.

He was present in the moments of my conception and He will take my hand when I breathe my last breath.

He has been there in the good, the bad, the ugly, and the glorious.

I look back and see His faithfulness. I look forward with faith in God my Savior.

Sunday Grace.

Sunrise by MaRanda Green

 

Sunday grace

“Have I lived enough? Have I loved enough?
Have I considered right action enough, have I come to any conclusion?
Have I experienced happiness with sufficient gratitude?
Have I endured loneliness with grace?”
                           — Mary Oliver, A Thousand Mornings

Jesus warned us that one’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.

So why do we spend our lives working feverishly to accumulate more stuff? So much stuff that we then have to clean out closets and have a yard sale or donate to Good Will. I preach to myself.

Love God. Love others.

Jesus’ teaching was that simple. Putting it into practice is not quite so simple because we are pulled away to other things. Distractions. Cares of life. Being too busy. Selfish interests  The craving for physical pleasure and for everything we see. Pride in our achievements and possessions.

These are not from the Father, but are from this world.

Having food and clothing, let me be content. But wait, that is contrary to the American way.

I seek to be content, learning what that looks like day after day. In this present circumstance. Where I am called to walk. In the place I am appointed to serve.

Have I genuinely lived my one precious life to the best of my ability?

Have I faithfully loved those God has given me to love?

Have I been truly grateful for His abundant blessings?

Have I looked for and recognized His grace in and through and over all the hard and easy places?

I’m still working on it. By His grace.

Sunday grace.

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Sunday grace

{Click Here if you would like to listen to Fernando Ortega as you read.}

In the mornings, I’ve taken to opening the hymn book that normally resides on my piano. It contains artful poetry proclaiming the glory and majesty of God.

My voice is not at it’s best in the wee hours of the morning, a little gravely, and the pitch misses the mark. I sing softly when Sweet William sleeps longer.

As I voice words of such poets as Henry Van Dyke, Charles Wesley, Reginald Herber, Francis of Assisi, Folliot Pierpoint, Fanny Crosby, Andrae Crouch, my thoughts turn to the triune God who is holy, worthy, great and glorious.

Today the melody of Doxology becomes a prayer. I can add nothing more that what has been said.

Awake, my soul, and with the sun,
Thy daily stage of duty run,
Shake off dull sloth, and joyful rise,
To pay thy morning sacrifice.

Wake, and lift up thyself, my heart,
And with the angels bear thy part,
Who all night long unwearied sing
High praise to the eternal King.

Lord, I my vows to Thee renew;
Disperse my sins as morning dew.
Guard my first springs of thought and will,
And with Thyself my spirit fill.

Praise God from whom all blessings flow,
Praise him all creatures here below,
Praise him above, ye heavenly host.
Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.

Sunday grace.

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Sunday grace

I awake this morning with a mind to read Psalm 139. It is a familiar, well-loved passage.

But this morning, I am moved to tears as the old words become like fresh bread, still warm from the oven. Their truth quenches the thirst of my heart like living water.

I have lived some years and walked some roads.  I’ve climbed high mountains of victory and been in deep valleys of despair. Sometimes I have felt alone and misunderstood, wondering where God was in my tribulation.

I’ve asked questions with much weeping, wanting answers that would somehow make sense of life. The answers I waited for did not always come in a way I could understand. Instead I saw Who was my answer, the I AM

I see once again this morning, that a loving God has been there in it all. Planning for me, creating me, watching over me, protecting me, going with me, holding me, shining light around me.

I am struck with amazement and awe at this kind of care, commitment, and love for such as I. It is knowledge too wonder-filled for me to understand.

Lord, You have searched me and known me. You know when I sit down and when I stand up; You understand my thoughts from far away.
You observe my travels and my rest; You are aware of all my ways. . . . 
You have encircled me; You have placed Your hand on me.
This extraordinary knowledge is beyond me. It is lofty; I am unable to reach it.

I have experienced love in a myriad of ways, gifts from a kind and generous hand. I’ve been amazed by grace.

Grace walked along side me, surrounded me, and held on to me when I could not hold on any longer.

Grace has been there with me all the time, in every circumstance of my life.

And grace will lead me home.

Sunday grace.

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Sunday grace

The day is full of color, the color of summer. Blue sky, white clouds, green trees, rainbow flowers. July is beauty in so many ways.

A friend commented on her garden, her a new farm girl this year with a barn and animals and vegetables to tend.  The season for growing is good, “everyday more and more” she said.

The earth teaches us God’s law of sowing and reaping. One seed produces many more seeds. Small efforts bring forth a larger harvest. Be careful what you sow, for you shall reap much more.

The earth shows the handiwork of God. Creation shouts His glory. The trees clap their hands, and the birds sign His praises.

An old hymn, by John Rutter, from a favored book rings this melody . . .

For the beauty of the earth, for the beauty of the skies,

For the love which from our birth over and around us lies,

For the beauty of each hour of the day and of the night,

Hill and vale, and tree and flow’r, sun and moon, and stars of light 

The gracious hand of our God spreads a table of goodness for us, for all good things spring forth from Him. He invites us to come, partake, be filled with Himself.

Lord of all, to thee we raise this our hymn of grateful praise.

Sunday grace.