Ever since writing the last post, I’ve been thinking it shouldn’t be left hanging, but the area of grace is such a BIG one! It’s been mulling around in my mind for these five months. Last month in church, the kids learned about Grace: getting something that you don’t deserve. This week in Club we talked about the three lost things (coin, sheep, & son) so it kind of got me thinking even more about it all.
Watch this video as it brings out the part about the little sheep knowing better, but not doing better…
Didn’t Oprah say, “If they knew better they’d do better.”? Sorry, Oprah. That’s not what Isaiah says. So many times I for one know better but sure don’t always do better. (Romans 7:14-25) It’s frustrating. It’s disgusting. It’s deadly if left go. It’s called sin. And Jesus died to remove it. He’s the Only One Who could. (Romans 8:1-13) It’s humbling & amazing & moving to realize Jesus hunts us down just like that shepherd even when we get ourselves into the thorn bushes & other such messes. There is not one person created that Jesus doesn’t love as much as that father who welcomed his lost son. None of us are beyond the loving reach of our gracious Shepherd/Father. Some who have wandered farther or take longer to turn to Jesus suffer longer-term consequences but there is ALWAYS hope! It’s never too late to turn to Him.
Just last night I was feeling down in the dumps; feeling like I was sitting in the thorn bush. How could I be so stupid & end up surrounded by these dumb thorns again?? But as Anders left for school this morning, because we talked about the lost things Wednesday night, I gave him a “gold” coin & told him to use it to remind him every time he looked at it or felt it today how MUCH God loves him. God goes after us when we’re in trouble; is always with us, never leaving us. “Coincidentally”, the verse for the week (B – we’re going through the alphabet of quotes from Jesus) is “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me.” (Rev. 3:20) He’s talking to the church here, not unbelievers. He’s talking to me! I’m thinking I’ll leave a coin or two in choice places to remind myself. He loves me & is so very patient with me. I don’t deserve it. This fact should give us all the grace & patience we need to deal with all the other sinners around us.
One of the biggest thing He’s working with me on (& has been for years) is the area of taking care of my body; not giving in to all the foods & amounts I want & stop being lazy physically. I know there is a spiritual connection to the physical. Some days/months/years I do well in this area & other times I am downright lazy & selfish. I eat whatever I want. I don’t exercise out of sheer laziness. No other excuse. God has given me several verses to “feed on” over the years. I share so that if this is one of your thorny areas, maybe these verses can minister to you, too. They’re not in any particular order…
Hebrews 12:1-2 – Fixing our eyes on Jesus is the key to getting & staying un-entangled.
Psalm 119:103 – God’s Word is what my soul was made to crave.
Genesis 25:27-33 – Esau foolishly gave up everything for food & instant gratification. Do I do the same thing?
Genesis 3:6 – Eve did what she wanted in spite of what God told her – even eating what God directly told her not to!
1 Corinthians 6:19 – I am not my own. In this area, I get “a chance to die” as Amy Charmichael said.
Matthew 5:6 – Do I know what it feels like to hunger & thirst after righteousness? Am I satisfied by it?
Luke 9:23, 24
Psalm 81:10 – We don’t have to live in Egypt – slavery to anything. He wants to fill us!
Psalm 63:1-5 – Is this the cry of my heart today?
John 3:30 – I know JtB was talking about something else, but it is also true in my life. When I allow the HS to increase His will over mine in one area, other areas come more under His control as well as I decrease my will across the board.
Leviticus 3:16 – I used to joke about this one, but no more after last reading through Leviticus & reading further…
Leviticus 4:31 – I use this verse to remind me when I exercise, it is an offering to the Lord. I even use a red notebook & pen to record what I did for the day to remind me…and I believe He is just as pleased with my daily burning the fat on the EFX machine! “…it will be very pleasing to the Lord.” It has changed my attitude about exercise.
Like I said, last night I was down in the dumps about letting my weight once again get up so high my clothes are uncomfortable, etc. Graciously, God had Ryan Dobson talking to Greg Thomas yesterday & today so I just happened to be able to listen to the perfect podcast first thing this morning. Again, God is so gracious and patient with me! I know all this stuff, it’s just so good to be reminded gently again. (To hear the podcasts, go here.)
Can I share one more area where God has been so gracious with me? The whole last post was about the royal wedding, so I’ve been thinking a lot about Keith & me & how blessed we are by God’s grace in our lives. God protected us both as children. He saved us for each other. He brought us together. And He continues to remind us how blessed we are to be walking this road of life together. Our own children heading so quickly to adulthood (especially now that we have one in high school) has caused me to pray more fervently for their hearts. When I think about the guys I had a crush on as a kid, it causes me to pray, pray, pray as well as repeatedly talk to the kids about guarding their hearts & not trusting them. “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?” (Jeremiah 17:9) One of the guys I happened to like as a kid is now a divorced jailbird while another is living in homosexuality & chronic depression. Oh, what incredible pain God graciously spared me!!!! You can’t really help crushes – they just happen to you, but if I’d have acted on my crushes, I don’t even want to think about what a mess my life would be right now. Not to say those two aren’t beyond God’s grace either. In fact, I do hope someday to hear wonderful stories of how God has turned their lives around. I’m just super thankful I don’t have to walk through the horror with them on their rebellious road away & back!
I pray our children don’t foolishly act on crushes their deceitful hearts spring up on them. Many seemingly harmless books, videos, etc. these days try to tell our kids, especially girls, to “follow their hearts” – teach your children the subtle but very foolish lie this is. Just as my parents did for me, teach wisdom early & often in the area of marriage & pray for God to graciously bring just the right person for each of them at just the right time. With wisdom, they’ll recognize & be attracted to the character qualities that make for a strong godly home. Not to say there’s a perfect spouse out there – your child’s not perfect either! Pray that weaknesses (we all have them) will be honestly talked through on both sides & with prayer together, taken to the Lord to handle as a team with His grace. Honesty & teamwork against sin makes for a powerful marriage. Pray with your children for their future spouse sometimes. It is powerful when children hear our prayers for them. We’ve got to impress these things on our children intentionally & repeatedly as they grow though, because they are getting all the wrong messages from the world, setting them up for disillusionment, broken hearts, & broken homes. Just what Satan wants. And just what grieves the Holy Spirit. Jesus has better for us! (John 15:10-12) Which takes me right back to Rev. 3:20.
GRACE!!! I am so thankful for it! May the grace He’s given me overflow out of my life onto others today & every day.