What’s My Part, God?

 

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Becoming a Christian means that we put our trust and faith in Jesus as our Lord and Savior. We believe that He died for our sins, meaning, He took the weight of the sins of the world and hung on a cross. Three days later, He rose from the dead and He now lives within each one of us through His Spirit. When we become a Christian, we also leave our sinful life behind and walk with Jesus.

If God is willing to enter our hearts, what’s our part in pleasing Him?

  1. We need to accept His unconditional love for us. He loves us not matter what. It’s never too late to say you’re sorry and turn your life around.
  2. We have to be willing to do for others and not boast about it. By this I mean that when we become a follower of Jesus, we think of others first and help them where they need to be helped. BUT…we do not boast about it.
  3. We also have to be willing to forgive others. In forgiving others, we are showing God that we accept His grace and mercy; so we too will pour out our forgiveness on others.

I visited a knitting group the other day and thought about how St. Faustia asked God to grant her the grace of conversion to as many souls as the number of stitches that she made on a particular day with a the crochet hook. (Diary, 961) That’s a lot of conversions. She prayed through faith and did not boast when a soul was won over for Christ.

Are you praying for the lost? Do you find yourself boasting at times?

Join us in the conversation today as we discuss what it means to you to be saved?

 

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God’s Drenching Grace

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We are in a state of drought. Our grass is going brown, the fields are drying out and the water levels are way below normal. The weatherman keeps promising us some rain but it continues to miss our area.

Finally, our earth received a drenching rain but was it enough? No, it wasn’t. It was a wonderful reprieve, but we need so much more in order to get out of danger.

I started thinking about God’s grace. I am so thankful that when I am experiencing a spiritual drought in my life, I can always rely on God’s drenching grace. He delivers right away; there’s no need to dry out, wither up and die inside.

Titus: 2:11-14(NIV)  For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. 12 It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, 13 while we wait for the blessed hope—the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, 14 who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good.

Why is it difficult for us to accept God’s grace?

Grace is mentioned 156 times in the New Testament; so as Christians if we believe in the Bible, then why don’t we believe that it’s offered to us for free? I’m not sure about you, but for myself, I feel I don’t deserve God’s grace when I feel as though I have done something so wrong and am not worthy of forgiveness.

But the truth is … Heavens grace is potentially available to all who care to access it by means of the diving plan of redemption. (Romans 5:1). Grace is NOT earned; if that were the case we would boast about it. (Ephesians 2:8-9)

So how can we tap into God’s grace?

First of all, it’s important to mention here that grace and obedience are not enemies. Paul affirmed that grace is accessed by faith (Romans 5:1-2) and yet, faith is of a loving response to God;. (James 2:21-26). I want to obey God; not man; not those who say they are believers but judge, gossip and hurt me behind my back. I want to obey God and accept His grace when HE points out my sins that need to be confessed.

Do you find yourself stretched to the breaking point today? If you’re trying to escape your gloom and doom and/or sins, please know you can’t escape God. Stay still and feel His drenching Grace. It is sufficient for your every need. He will help you out of any pit you’re feeling swallowed up by. You will find that His power is revealed and made perfect through your weakness. Never be afraid to cry out, confess whatever you feel is wrong with your heart today. You have a choice; accept the pardon that God offers. John 3:16livingbygracepic.jp

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Salvation! Where are You?

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How do we find salvation? Certainly not from intellectual understanding, monetary gifts, good works or church attendance. So I ask again, how do we find salvation? We don’t! Salvation finds us.

In reading Romans 10:9 this week, I was reminded of how much God loves me and desires to save us all and keep us  under His wings.

“If you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.”

It’s a supernatural thing as we take a step of faith allowing the Spirit of God to come and reside in our hearts. Sounds so simple, right? It is, but, then following the walk of salvation sometimes becomes very difficult.

What do I mean by, “The walk of salvation?” It’s not the Sunday pew that we sit in or the choir we sing in; it’s the heart to want to serve and love other’s unconditionally. It’s the willingness to allow God to work in our lives and mold us into His image. It’s the faith in knowing that we can go to Him for forgiveness and feel cleansed by the blood of Christ on the Cross.

I have made tons of mistakes in my life; I’ve even made recent mistakes that I regret. I am a sinner who needs His grace to guide me along this journey. I will continue to make mistakes and will continue to fall onto my knees. BUT, He chose little old me, a sinful woman to write His love words for others. God, you’re so good!

Dear Lord, I thank you so much for choosing e and saving me from myself. When I see others struggling to know your love, help me to see their pain and comfort them. Let me waste not any trial I’ve gone through. Amen20150614_144541

Decontaminate Me O Lord

IMG_1158Matthew 5:8 Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God.

What does purify mean? According to Webster On-line Dictionary, it means to remove contaminants; refine and decontaminate.

Do you have areas of your life that need refining or decontaminating? I think we all do. Its part our growing in Christ.

At my age, stepping forward into, the “better years,” of life with confidence and peace, means that some serious cleansing and refining has taken place. Well, yes, it has, but guess what? There’s still more to be done. Ugh.  I desire to live this part of my life with less stress, more peace and ready to be used by God.  How about you? Are you looking to live your life with just a little bit more peace? In order for us to achieve this, We have to allow a refining process to take place.                              ID-100277541

I was recently watching a program on how Saki is made. From what I could gather, part of the process starts from refining rice that goes through a hopper and then a steamer that removes some mold spores. But, not all of the mold is removed; some mold must remain. The portion that remains in the mixture, must germinate for 24 hours in a highly sanitized room. It is then poured into vats for 18 days for the purifying process to be complete. There are more details that I don’t fully understand but I do understand that the meaning of refining according to this process means, taking something yucky, refining it until it becomes cleansed, hence becoming useful. Not very scientific terminology, but you get the point. The refining process takes a lot of time until it can be useful. (I’m not a drinker of Saki, by the way).

God’s refining is all about our hearts. We all have impure, unclean thoughts that can be used to hurt or harm others. But God removes the yucky stuff from our mind and hearts when we surrender and when we keep our focus on Him. He does this so that we may become a better vessel to do His work.

Here’s my problem though, I don’t want to wait 24 hours and definitely not 18 days to be purified in heart. I want it now. I want to know what is going on with situations in my life now. I want to be cleansed and decontaminated but I don’t want to go through the sometimes long painful process. But, I have to; otherwise I will become a repeat offender. Anyone with me?

How can we hang tight when we are starting to spiral out of control and we know cleansing is necessary? We need to get down on our knees in surrender to the Most Magnificent God! The God who has so much grace for us! Just this last week I was in church on my knees praying and crying for God’s understanding. It was then that I knew I had to hang in there and wait for the refining process to end.  I recalled the words that Jesus spoke during His famous Sermon on the Mount: Matthew 8:5; Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God. 

Pure in heart; that doesn’t mean we are without sin. That doesn’t mean we are without temptation or that we won’t stumble from time to time.  What it means is being fixated on Jesus being the spiritual center of our lives. We are the branches and He is the vine. (John 15:1-17).

We are blessed when we are seeking purity; seeking God’s best for our lives and truly desiring freedom from spiritual pollution. The process can be painful too, but we have to go the distance and wait. Why? Because God is not in the business of fixing things until our heart is on board with His will.

Does your heart need a filtration system installed? Know and rest in God’s healing words in Psalm 139:15-16:
You were not a mistake, for all your days are written in My book. He is going to take care of you while your’e being refined. He is never going to let you struggle alone. Oh what a glorious God we have.

Are you being refined? Have you ever been refined and would like to share in order to encourage others? Come and chat with us as I host on Livingbygrace.livingbygracepic.jp

Mom’s Blue Bags

Do you ever find that you’ve learned a lesson from something small or something you thought to be insignificant? We’ve all heard the saying, You’re never too old to learn something new. I for one find this to be very true. As a writer, I observe so much of what is going on around me while searching for the lesson to be learning. Just recently, I learned a few valuable lessons in my mom’s blue bags.

I opened the freezer door only to find blue plastic bags crammed in piles.FullSizeRender-28

Growing up, my mom was famous for washing out her plastic bags and drying them out over the kitchen faucet. She used them until the plastic film would start ripping. Now living with my mom again, I knew some things would not change and reusing plastic bags was one of them. However, she has now taken it to a whole new level.

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I recently opened the freezer only to find a bunch of royal blue plastic bags containing made-up burgers and individually wrapped chicken. “Okay ma,” I said. “Where did the blue bags come from?” “I just collect them.” She replied, walking away from the question. It wasn’t until it finally dawned on me that she was re-using the blue newspaper bags to freeze her meats.

Let me explain something about my mother.GE DIGITAL CAMERA

She is a loving, caring and intelligent woman who really doesn’t need to be frugal with her money. She worked hard her whole life and should enjoy the fruits of her labor.  I find it so ironic that my mom will go out and purchase a brand new car but will use duck tape on her ironing board cover. She’ll buy some nice L.L. Bean clothes but wrap her food in blue newspaper bags.

I don’t waste much either. I re-heat left overs. I wash out butter tubs to re-use for left overs . I cut  fabric sheets in half and I used vinegar and water for cleaning solutions. I guess I am frugal as well but what can I learn from this?

Question

“Okay ma, you’re busted,” I said. “I have finally figured out where the blue bags are coming from. But why ma? Why do you use them when you can afford freezer zip lock bags?” I asked. Her reply, “I don’t want to waste them. I grew up during a time where you just didn’t waste anything and I figured, why not re-use them?” I let the conversation go for a few days but not without pondering the meaning behind her saying, “You don’t waste a thing.” How can we apply that statement to our own lives? No, I’m not asking you to re-use newspaper bags. How can we not waste any experiences?

God doesn’t want us to waste anything He has given us!

Every day we are given plenty of opportunities to do good things for others. But there are only a handful of us that actually act on them.

We should not waste our opportunities: We don’t have to wait for some sort of huge thing to happen in order to do something nice for someone. We have small opportunities floating around our space all day long.

Here are just a few simple things that we can do on a daily basis:

We can smile at someone having a bad day.
We can pay for a coffee just because.
We can watch a friend’s child so she can get some much needed quality time.
We can bring a meal to a friend that may be too sick to cook.
We can carry grocery bags for an elderly person.

We should not waste our talents: We should use the talent that God has given us.
Don’t waste the opportunity to join a choir if God has given you the gift of singing.
Don’t waste your gift of hosting a party if God has given you the gift of hospitality.
Don’t waste the opportunity to work in the nursery at church if God has given you a true love to be with babies.

Is there an opportunity to help in your church? Are you able to donate some of your talents volunteering for something in your community?

We should not waste our time: Time is passing faster and faster. We should not waste our time on things that serve no purpose. I can easily waste time in front of the television rather than getting out for a walk and praying. I can easily waste my time just lying around rather than working on an article I need to finish. We can easily waste our time building up our collections, only to find we have no more room. We can easily waste our time being angry with someone dear to us only to find they may be very sick and are in need of hearing our kind words. What are you doing with your time?

Through all of my joking with my mom and her desire to collect blue bags, we were able to come to an understanding. I asked, “How about we not use the dirty newspaper bags but I’ll wash out the old zip lock bags and re-use them?” Good compromise; however, we should not waste any opportunity that God has given us. We should not compromise for Him.

What valuable lessons have you recently learned? How did you learn them? Were they simple things that just jumped out at you or did you have to ponder a bit? Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

Beth                           livingbygracepic.jp

What Can Result From Your Tears by Beth Farley

What do you do when you don’t know what to do? Don’t answer right away without really giving that some thought.

I’ve been stricken with some serious decisions to make over the last year and it’s been one of the hardest times of my life. I’ve been brought to my knees many times in tears of fear and pain; crying out to God for guidance.

What can result in our tears? IMG_0767

We can see His will for our lives through our tears of pain. When I am sitting in a puddle of tears feeling semi-paralyzed and yet conscious of the uncertainties of my life; God wraps His arms around me and engulfs me with His love. Through drenched eyes, He reveals the bigger picture. I go from feeling foundered and discombobulated to feeling connection and worth.

We were made by God and for God!

If we were made by God and for God, why do we founder? For myself, I know that I become absorbed in myself and the preoccupations of life that I forget how to balance my emotions and enjoy the life God has richly blessed me with. I forget He has a bigger purpose for me.

Like most of you, I have experienced hardships. I have had marriages, lost loved ones, lost homes, lost jobs, lost friends and my have lost my health. I have discovered that in order to survive I have to possess an inner, very deep personal relationship with Jesus. I have to keep my focus on Him.

When I take my eyes off of Jesus and my relationship with Him becomes compromised, I find myself not knowing what to do about any given situation I’m faced with.

Don’t take your eyes off the prize!
eyesI pursue as my goal the prize promised by God’s heavenly call in Christ Jesus.
Philippians 3:14 HCSB

My tears have taught me that although I’ve known much sorrow, my life has great and ultimate meaning if I stay nestled in God and in His love for me.

We are citizens of an imperishable kingdom and have a short tenure on this planet. Are we going to live it in victory of sorrow?

For many of us, this the time of year brings joy while spending time with family and friends but for some, it is the time for much pain, sorrow and emptiness. And for you my friends that are hurting, please know that God will balance the debris of your life and will come to your rescue.

Pour your tears out to Him and allow Him to bring you to Victory.

Matthew 14:14 Amplified
When he went ashore and saw a great throng of people, He had compassion (pity and deep sympathy) for them and cured the sick.

Psalm 30:2 NKVJ O’ LORD my God, I cried out to You, And You healed me.

Isaiah 58:8 NKJV Then your light shall break forth like the morning. Your healing shall spring forth speedily, and your righteousness shall go before you; the glory of the LORD shall be your right guard.

When was the last time you cried out to God?

Where did your tears take you?

Share your thoughts here at the top of my blog or at living by grace, a Facebook community.

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Are you feeling alone and sad? How can we pray for you?

Come and join us for the discussion on Living by Grace; a Facebook community., or post your comment at the top of my blog.What

Cutting Down Bamboo

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Today I took on a huge task. I promised my son I wouldn’t do it; but I did. I cut down a bamboo tree. Not only did I cut it down but I cut it with a huge kitchen butcher knife.
My son instructed me to get an estimate on having it cut down. But, stubborn me, I figured I could save him some money and get some exercise at the same time, so I did it my way.securedownload-14

I walked into the back yard and thought, “How hard can this be?” I changed my clothes, grabbed my work gloved and kitchen butcher knife. I hacked and chopped, pulled and snapped the branches then loaded ix bags worth of bamboo. Then I hauled it all down to his driveway for the trash men to pick up.

Four hours later, two skin abrasions and sweat pouring down my face and back, I finally came to a kick-in-the-pants conclusion; I should have listened to my son. Today I am very sore and am finding it very hard to move around.securedownload-10

I do the same thing with God. He instructs me to do something one way or not to do it at all, but I, in my own stubbornness, do it anyway. Been there? Just frustrates me when I know I should not have fast food and there I am in the drive thru of a fast food joint. It’s a never ending process with me; with most of us.

This new journey of mine is about my actions and listening to the heart of God before making decisions. I believe I cared too much about this bamboo task. Hear me out. Sometimes a person can be over-caring; especially women. I over cared too much that I put myself in danger. I took on a responsibility just because of my ego and to help my son. He knows my physical limitations and that’s why he said, “No mom.”

God puts boundaries all around us. His boundaries help create mutual balance in our lives. They help us keep ourselves accountable for our actions. There was a boundary set yesterday and I crossed the line. God has planted me here for a time to write, slow down, soul search, seek a forgiving heart and move forward in my life. In Ecclesiastes we are told “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven,” (3:1) Had I taken the time to relax, write, and do as I was instructed to do, I wouldn’t be so sore and tired today.securedownload-15

Today, I will stop struggling with having to slow down and stop taking on huge tasks when I’m still recovering. I will let go of my belief that I have to do everything because I am not paying any rent. I will replace it with the belief that I can walk this journey in ease and peace.

Have you crossed a line lately? Did you take something too far? Did you step over God’s boundary?

Psalm 78:1 O my people, hear my teaching, listen to the words of my mouth. NIV

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My NIV…by Beth Farley

There it was; way in the back of the closet. I had been longing to buy another NIV Life Application Bible but didn’t want to part with the enormous price.(my old one bit the dust) I love the Bible no matter what version and currently I am studying out of the HCSB, but I was in desperate need of some life application insight last night.

I was having a “woe-is-me” pity party last night and instead of turning on the TV and doing nothing, I took advantage of the quiet house and dug into the book of James; not where I left off weeks ago, but from the beginning. I grabbed my journal and just wrote for ME.Holding Glasses over Bible

Before settling down, I had to clean out the closet in the spare room because our house is on the market. Low and behold, there it was; way in the back of the closet I found my daughters NIV Life Application Bible. Thank you Jesus that I didn’t have to buy another one but the biggest blessing was the words that leapt into my heart right off of the pages.

I was reminded in the beginning of James that the wisdom I need is in three parts.
First, I need practical wisdom…where I can overcome trials with God.
Second, I need divine wisdom; God’s Spirit lives within me to guide me right from wrong.
Third, I need Christ-like wisdom which means I am ultimately asking to be more like Christ.

If at first you don’t succeed, dive back in. I am staying in James some more today with the NIV Life Application Bible just because it is WISE for me to stay there until God tells me to go elsewhere. That’s wisdom!

James :1-1-2
Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your developed perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking in anything.

 

What are you trying to persevere with? Join us atliving by grace

No! Not My Coupon Folder…Beth Farley

No! Not My Coupon Folder!!!securedownload-4

A few weeks before I moved to Texas my daughter gave me a crash course on extreme couponing. I took notes, clipped my coupons, browsed the web sites and became hooked. I didn’t think I’d become a “stockpiler” but guess what? I am. I am unemployed with very little means of money so this is a way of saving, BIG TIME. I only stock pile on things that we can use. Anything beyond that boundary is donated to the food pantry down the road.

I had an unsettling day this week. I was so distracted by the chatter in my head. I couldn’t settle down to my devotions or Bible reading time. I was bopping all over the house, trying to keep busy from my feelings. Have you ever been there?

There was one thing though that was pulling me towards sitting at the table; it was my desire to do my coupon clipping. I made a cup of coffee, started clipping and sorting and stacking. I began to feel peaceful and content.

Once this blissful task was done, which by the way, takes quite a bit of time, I went over to my desk to get my purple coupon folder only to find it wasn’t there. I went out to my car and checked under the seats, in the trunk and glove compartment. I retraced my steps for at least 45 minutes. My body was gripped with frustration and anxiety. I was frantically looking for my purple folder. All of the Sunday coupons were in that folder. I had not even redeemed half of them yet. I think I might have even spewed a few unnecessary words while in my crazy attempt at finding the folder.

Plopping on the couch and feeling deflated, I realized that I had been so engulfed in the tantalizing coupon folder that I kinda felt ashamed of my behavior. I had not done my devotions. I had not looked at my Bible. I had not prayed nor done any writing which God had called me to do. Why hadn’t I been as passionate about spending time with God this day as I had been about trying to find my coupon folder?

Has that ever happened to you? Have you ever been so engulfed in something that you just can’t wait to dig in? You know, the Sunday football game, your golf game, your pedicure, shopping or craft project; these are all great things and God wants us to enjoy them but we all know as Christian we need to find the balance.

John 10:10…A thief comes only to steal and to kill and to destroy. I have come so that they may have life and have it in abundance. HCSB

One of the greatest things about being human is our tenacity. Life goes on. Sometimes worse for the wear, sometimes better for our efforts, but it always goes on. God takes these things, these daily distractions and files them under the category of “GRACE”.

We are human; He is ALL. We make mistakes; He fixes them. We get distracted; He pulls us closer.

There are times where you just have to drop the whole thing and start again. The purple folder is still missing but today I’m writing. Today I’ve spent time with Him and today…I set out for a new folder….

Psalm 96:1
Sing a new song to the LORD Sing to the LORD, all the earth.

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