Category Archives: GROWING IN HIS GRACE

The Grace and Mercy of God

What Is Grace and Mercy

The Grace and Mercy of God.  What a topic.  To think of what Grace actually is blows my mind.  This is a long post but stick with it til the end.  It has a great ending!  Here’s the actual Definition of both Grace and Mercy:

Grace. The free and unmerited favor of God, as manifested in the salvation of sinners and the bestowal of blessings.

I also found a blog (“Better Than I Deserve”) that describes it as this: (this is what I have always heard)

“Maybe you’ve heard this definition of grace before. Grace is what we get which we do not deserve.”

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 “Perhaps you have heard this definition of mercy before and I think its spot on. Mercy is where we don’t get what we truly do deserve.”

I think that is pretty incredible.  Grace.  The Grace of God is far beyond my comprehension.  Really.  He gives us His Grace instead of His judgment.  However, there is a catch.  Ah Ha, you say…. Yes, there is always a catch.  God will only impart His Grace to us … IF … we believe on His Son Jesus Christ and believe that His Son’s death on the cross was for the remission of our sins.  Yes, Jesus lived a sinless life and died on the cross for our sins.  Then He rose again on the third day and is now seated at the right hand of God the Father.  He did all of that so we could be with Him forever.  So, Grace… Grace is what He gives us instead of the judgment that we deserve.

God Is God And We Are Not

You see, if God didn’t give us His Grace, we would have to pay the penalty for our sins and we could never be “good enough” to measure up to God’s Holiness. You say… “But I am a good person.  I don’t cheat, steal, lie or kill.  So, I am good enough.  I don’t sin.”   Well, God doesn’t look at it that way.  He is the creator of everything.  He set the standard of “sin” and “holiness” and we DO NOT measure up to His standard.  We may think we don’t sin but we do.  There are many things that happen or that we do or dwell on thoughts during the day that God may consider “not holy”.  Remember… God is God and we are not!  He set the standard.  Not man!

He knew we could never measure up to His standard because He created us.  You see, to be able to be forgiven for your sins, you have to offer a spotless sacrifice.  The Bible has a lot of examples of what sacrifice is acceptable for what sin.  In the beginning, people would sacrifice a bull, goat, lamb or even a dove or pigeon, without defect – spotless.  There were many ways and reasons people would bring these animals to be sacrificed.  However, all were required to be without defect.  This link will explain why humans must or had to bring sacrifices to God.  The title of the article is Why did God require animal sacrifices in the Old Testament?

The website that I got the answers from is GotQuestions.org.  It has great information about sin offerings and all the various aspects of each type.  Click the link and read more about that topic here.

The Spotless Sacrifice

We, as humans, needed a spotless, perfect sacrifice to cleanse us from our sins – or to have our sins forgiven.  Jesus came to earth to be that spotless sacrifice.  Jesus agreed to be the spotless lamb, the perfect sacrifice for our sins.  He left Heaven and became a tiny baby.  Lived among the common man and lived perfectly, never sinning.  Then He died on that cross, I mentioned earlier, for us.

Picture3The Grace He bestowed towards us at the Cross of Calvary is so beyond my comprehension.  I guess I don’t have to be able to comprehend it to accept it.  Good thing.  I do accept God’s gracious gift of Jesus Christ for my sins.  If I accept that grace through Jesus Christ then I need to live like it.  I want to live like it.  I want to live every second knowing that because of God’s Grace I will see His face and live in His wonderful presence forever in Heaven.

I found a quote when I was perusing my files that stopped me in my tracks.  I had to read and re-read it and ask myself.  “Self, do you really want to be established in God’s Grace?  Do you want it to manifest itself in your character?  Do you want it to be your habit and regular life?”  Here is the quote:

“To taste of the grace of God is one thing; to be established in it and manifest it in character, habit, and regular life, is another.”

The Taste of Grace

To me that says this.  We taste the Grace of God when we first accept Jesus as our Savior and Lord.  We feel almost like we are walking on a cloud.  It is a high that is indescribable.  If you truly take Jesus as your Lord and Savior you will experience a feeling that is unlike any other you have ever or will ever experience.  You may go for a while and live off of this first excitement of a new life.  However, I have learned that human nature (me – I am) is like this… we begin to slip back into “the way we were” before me met Jesus – to a point.   As we walk through our daily life we realize one day that we really aren’t living as Christ.  We have just tasted the Grace of God but are not really “living” the Grace of God.  That is … like the quote says … “to be established in it and manifest it in character, habit, and regular life…”

To Be Established

So, what does it really mean to be established in God’s Grace and manifest God’s Grace in character, habit and regular life?  Well, let me see if I can explain it the way God showed me.

Picture2If you read my blog at all you will see that I don’t usually sound “preachy” or pushy.  I use every day things that relate to my walk with God and relationship with Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit.  So, this one is not any different.  As I am sitting here in my chair and look up at the reflection in the glass of a picture on the wall of my beautiful Shumard Oak tree in the back yard, I hear that ever so familiar voice. “How is your oak tree established?”  I begin to immediately think back about this time seven years ago – when we moved in to our home in May of 2009.

The Shumard Oak Tree

We moved in to our home on May 2, 2009.  After a few little things that had to be done in the back yard, I was making my rounds and I found a little scrawny oak tree up next to the house in a flower bed.  It was about a foot from the house and about a foot tall.  I knew that I had to either dig it up and get rid of it or transplant it.  If it had stayed that close to the house it would never be the oak tree that it was meant to be.  It also would have messed up the house and the foundation of the house with its root system.  So, before I uprooted this little tree I had to find the “perfect” spot for it.  We have quite a large back yard and it is a hot one in the summer time because there was no tree to shade most of the yard in the hot afternoons.  There is the neighbor’s tree on the East side – that didn’t help the afternoon sun at all though.  There was a wide open spot between the house and dad’s shed that was in the direct sun and would be perfect for a shade tree.

Transplanting the Oak

Although this little tree was barely big enough to cast a shadow, I knew that someday it would be a nice, proud Oak tree with abundant shade.  So, I took my sharp shooter (shovel) and dug a hole and then went to the little tree and carefully dug around

Shumard Oak 1it being careful not to damage any of the roots it may have produced in its small state.  I remembered there is a tap root, I thought, that I really had to be careful not to snap.  A Tap Root is the main root that goes down from the middle of the tree and stabilizes it and the root system branches off of that.  So, I carefully dug and dug and loosened and dug and loosened.  Finally I had it loose and only broke the very tip of the Tap Root off.

I prayed that it would not affect the little tree.  I took it to the new location that I had prepared with some good dirt – which I call Cow Poop Dirt – that is a very good, rich in nutrition dirt for a newly planted tree or anything else for that matter.  This stuff will make hair grow on a bowling ball!  It is good stuff.

Anyway, I planted it and waited.  That Fall it was still alive and seemed to be thriving in its new location.  There were about 5 leaves on the tree and they turned a beautiful red, orange and yellow.  I was so excited because if it is that pretty as a youngster how much more beautiful is it going to be as it grows and gets bigger?

Blessings

OAK TREE 3Well, God has certainly blessed me with the growth of that little, scrawny tree.  It is now about 25’ – 30’ tall (in 7 years) and throws a beautiful shade.  Zuckie (my dachshund) and I sit in the grass in the shade of the Oak tree, on a warm evening and are very comfortable.  One because of the shade and two because of the lovely, thick St. Augustine grass that is beneath our feet.   The tree shade and the grass seem to work in harmony to produce a beautiful place to relax.  Needless to say, the Oak tree LOVES the location I chose.

Let’s Think

OK, let’s just think a minute about how this parallels with my walk with God.  Or anyone’s walk with God for that matter.  Let’s also revisit that quote above.

“To taste of the grace of God is one thing; to be established in it and manifest it in character, habit, and regular life, is another.”

The little, scrawny tree, growing up next to the house was tasting life – the Grace of God.  But it was not ever going to be able to be established in good soil and a good location to be able to grow and thrive at its present location.  It would be stunted because it was too close to the house.  It would never be able to spread its limbs and soak up the warm sunshine and produce a beautiful shade for us to enjoy.  It would be cramped and uncomfortable.  Its limbs, if they ever grew, would be rubbing the brick on the house and never have the freedom to sway in the breeze.  If the tree ever grew tall enough, it would run right into the eave of the house and be stunted.  It may grow around the eave but then it would be crooked and possibly break because of the crookedness of the limbs.  Not to mention the root system.  It would run into the house foundation and cause all sorts of problems for the house and the tree itself.

A Broad Space

OAK TREE 4So, let’s face it.  It was a horrible place for the little tree.  Then I came along and took that little, scrawny tree from its place where it had begun its life.  I moved it to a place with a broad space where it could grow and stretch its limbs and grow its roots deep and wide without being encumbered by anything.  It could grow tall and taller and taller and display its beautiful colors in the Fall and the beautiful fresh green leaves in the Spring.  It can now throw a shade that is quite nice.  The shape of the tree is perfect too.  Broad at the base of the limbs and gradually narrows to the peak of the tallest leaf that reaches for the sky.  It is one of my pride and joys in my yard.  I love to look at the stately Oak.  It is only 7 years old now but in years to come it will grow taller and fuller and its roots will go deeper and wider, making it more and more established in the soil beneath its leaves and limbs.

Me and God’s Grace

So you may have forgotten that I was talking about the Grace and Mercy of God.  Well, I believe the Grace and Mercy of God is displayed – in a way – in my Oak tree.  Let’s revisit those definitions:

“…Grace is what we get which we do not deserve.”

“… Mercy is where we don’t get what we truly do deserve.”

Let me compare my Oak tree to myself and my walk with God.  I was in a place that was not a good place for me to be in.  I was too close to things that would keep me from growing (spiritually) – spreading my branches.  I was in a place that would stunt my growth (spiritually) and cause me to grow very crooked and unable to thrive – as God had intended for me (as He does for every one of His children).  My root system was growing into hard places and being redirected to a path that was not good for stability and to be firmly established in Him.  Everything was simply a mess beneath the surface.  If left to my own devices, I would have kept going down a path that was not what God had intended and it was not how it should have been.

God’s Grace

God in His infinite Grace and Mercy, picked me up and moved me to a place He chose so I could become established in Him.  Sending my roots down deep into the nutrient rich soil of His Mercy.  Allowing me to learn to spread my branches and display the beautiful colors of His love in my life.

Now don’t get me wrong.  Please DO NOT THINK THAT I AM SAYING that I have “arrived”!  As Paul says in Romans 6, “By no means.”   Please understand that I know this is all a process.  I have been moved, yes, but the establishing and sending my roots down and spreading my branches… that is a day by day and sometime minute by minute process.  But I am growing.  I have been growing more in the last three or four years than I think I have in my lifetime.  I want to grow so others can see Jesus in me without having to go on a search and find mission.  Honoring_Jesus_link_buttonI want Jesus to be honored and glorified in my daily life.  I can tell you that sometimes… more times than not, He is not.  I try, but I am human and He knows it.  That is where the wonderful Grace and Mercy comes in again.

Thank You Lord

Thank You Lord, for the Grace and Mercy that You have bestowed upon me in my lifetime.  Thank You for giving me what I don’t deserve and not giving me what I do deserve.  I don’t understand it but I accept it.

You know you can experience this Grace and Mercy too!  Jesus wants to give you the opportunity to grow and spread your branches and be established in Him.    Here is a link to a website that will explain how that can happen and what it means to become a Christ follower.

He loves you so much.  After all, He calls you His beloved.
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If you would like to comment on this post, please scroll all the way until you see “Comment”.  Otherwise you can contact me on the form immediately following this text.  Thank you for reading my post and I pray that you were blessed.

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BEING FED BY OTHERS

Hello everyone.  It has been so long since I have been able to just sit down for a couple of hours… maybe three… and just write what God has laid on my heart. I have had a lot laid on my heart lately but not things to share with the world – at least not yet. Just stuff that has happened to me in my personal life that has been … well, let’s just say not your normal, run of the mill stuff.

The title of this post is BEING FED BY OTHERS because I truly have been. Whether it is through my church and Sunday School – Life Groups is what they call it now… I have trouble not saying Sunday School though. I have called it that for many, many years… anyway, I digress. So, whether it has been through church, or friends or family. It has been a wonderful time of learning… and let me add work has provided some of that feeding as well. 0e1274645_merciful

Work is awesome but consuming and my manager is more awesome and so gracious and forgiving. She is one special lady. Now, don’t get me wrong. You walk on the wrong side and disrupt the good flow of things, she will let you know it. She has it in her to say things that cut to the core. However, that is … that it “cuts to the core” because it’s true and you know it. On the other hand, she is the most gracious and merciful manager I have ever encountered and, well, that is pretty awesome to me. So there are some things at work that have happened that have been less than perfect and then there have been things that have been perfect. I know… sounds contradictory. It is but it’s all good! I am learning and trying to be the biggest sponge you have ever seen. My limits are being stretched every day and I like that.. sometimes… I Love that! Then there are days that I just want to scream! But I keep going because I don’t like to quit. I like to learn and I like doing what I do. You see I am an Applications Instructor. That means that I learn EVERY DAY! Yep, I have to “know it” but I also learn it.. meaning “stuff” … over and over again. From my students, from myself and others. It’s a pretty cool thing. However, that is not what I wanted to write about, necessarily.mercy-grace

I wanted to say how much I have experienced grace, mercy and kindness. Today it was from a wonderful bunch of students in my class that kinda had some technical issues. Now usually when there are tech issues, the scores that the students give are usually low. Today, not so. They totally surprised me! I think this is the first time that I have experienced, since being at my current job, that the scores were up there even with MAJOR tech issues. I think it was a combination of things… but I don’t want to analyze it too deep right now. That will come later with my manager… which will be a good thing. However, I do want to acknowledge that the students in this class (10 of them) were a very interactive and happy class. They enjoyed learning and were most forgiving of the circumstances that we encountered today! Yep, it was a refreshing outcome… and one that I am so appreciative of. Gracious and merciful students. Nice!

The other thing I want to recognize is actually from a pastor in San Antonio. I received a message from my website the other day. It was from this pastor in San Antonio and he was asking about one of the pictures I used some time back on a post. He was just asking if he could use the picture for theirencounter “new” church’s logo. The picture is just one I got off of the internet when I Googled a topic. The post was ENCOUNTERING GOD ALMIGHTY. The picture is quite good and he believes it would be a perfect logo for the new church that he is wanting to start on October 24, 2015. Of course I told him I had just Googled it also, same as him, and he could certainly use it and I attached it to the email.

One of the things I wanted to do with this post is include one of his posts. You see he writes a blog also. He has held this blog for 12 years, he says, and it is quite good. Please give him the graciousness to read his blog post on THE BLESSING OF MERCY.

I mainly wanted to introduce you to him and ask you to read his post on The Blessing of Mercy. It is truly a blessing to encounter Mercy from any source. The best is the Mercy that our Savior gave us. Please read on and comment, if you want, on any encounters with mercy and grace you have had lately or ever. Here is his post:

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God morning, beloved.  It is written.  "It is more blessed to give than to receive."  (Acts 20:35)  Jesus lived and died by that truth.  He "gave Himself for our sins to rescue us from the present evil age."  (Galatians 1:4).  "In His great mercy He has given us new birth into a living hope."  (1 Peter 1:3).

Mercy is love expressed.  When Christians practice mercy, they place the needs of others above their own, in much the same way that Jesus placed our need for forgiveness and salvation first, allowing Himself to be insulted, abused, and finally crucified in order to procure that salvation for us.  God so loved that He gave.  Calvary is the proof of God's mercy.

To be merciful is to act out of love and compassion for others, to try to see with their eyes, think with their minds, and feel with their hearts.  God's Son did just that when he took on human flesh and blood to experience life's struggles just as we do, though without sin.  He offered His life in our place as the substitutionary sacrifice for our sins.

As we display mercy in Christ's name, we become more like our Lord.  By His grace we will obtain the ultimate mercy:  entrance into God's heavenly sanctuary, to abide with Him forever. Amen.

Worship with me.  Lord Have Mercy.

Michael W. Smith and Amy Grant.<a href="https://youtu.be/eDpp_YdXnqs" target="_blank">
https://youtu.be/eDpp_YdXnqs</a>

Remember to be in prayer for Encountering GOD church…We launch this church plant on Saturday October 24th 2015.  You are invited to our home for a night of worship and hear what God and Jesus have to say about His church.  Email me for more details or send me a Facebook message.  oxox

Be Blessed and Be a Blessing
Pastor Eric Hughes
Lead Pastor Encountering GOD Church &
Behavioral Health Specialist

A Behavioral Health Specialist is a person that covers the needs of individuals, couples and families dealing with challenges in their everyday lives. I work with people of all ages to find productive solutions for their problems.

Isaiah 61:1 – The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me; because the Lord hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound; To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness.

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Thank you for reading my blog and his too.  May God richly bless and keep each of you in His tender care.  God loves you so much, after all, He calls you His beloved!

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HUMBLED BY HIS GRACE

I know some of you out there can relate instantly by the title of this post – Humbled By His Grace. Some of you just haven’t gotten there yet and I suppose you will eventually. The sooner the better though. God is a wonderful and magnificent God. His Grace and Mercy is overwhelmingly humbling to me. The Big Picture God is a God of Wonder and Majesty and a lot of the time He is shrouded in Mystery. He allows us to see only a glimpse of Him in this life. However, He loves us so very much He wants to let us in on bits and pieces of the Big Picture from time to time. You say “Why not let us see it all now?” Well, for one thing, I don’t believe we could actually take the entire Big Picture at one time. If so we might get puffed up and too sure of ourselves with some things or… we might see things that were disturbing and frightening. I am not sure which would be worse. To be so proud that we quit relying on God for our every step, or being so afraid of what is about to happen that we are afraid to trust Him for the outcome.

I get an email every morning from Our Daily Bread, which is a daily devotional. I enjoy reading this because there are many, many times I read it and it hits me right where it needs to that particular day. Some time back, there was one entitled “Feeling Insignificant?” Here are the first two paragraphs of that particular daily devotional.UNIVERSE

“We are among seven billion people who coexist on a tiny planet that resides in a small section of a rather insignificant solar system. Our earth, in reality, is just one miniscule blue dot among millions of celestial bodies that God created. On the gigantic canvas that is our universe, our beautiful, majestic Earth appears as a tiny speck of dust.

That could make us feel extremely unimportant and inconsequential. However, God’s Word suggests that just the opposite is true. Our great God, who “measured the waters in the hollow of His hand” (Isa. 40:12), has singled out each person on this planet as supremely important, for we are made in His image.”

This particular daily devotional humbled me to a point when I read it, as it always does, when I think of how BIG God is and how minute we are (and yes, that word, minute, is spelled correctly but not meaning a measure of time but VERY, VERY small). On that same train of thought… I have been given a wonderful opportunity to view a particular part of my life with the rose colored glasses removed – if only for a brief moment in time. This doesn’t happen very often, if ever, in a person’s life and I am so humbled and brought to a feeling of awe and amazement in my God.

You see, I met someone that shared with me a dream they had. In that dream, they met a woman and was told by God that this woman would be “the one” and would do great things. Then this person saw me at a distance shortly after that dream (a few days) and “knew” that I was the woman in their dream. We had never met and didn’t know anyone that knew each other… you know… the Six Degrees of Separation thing. At least we haven’t found that out yet. Now you may be wondering about who this person is. Well, let me just say that this is a very special person and will be in my life for some time to come. I don’t know how long and I am not sure they even know. I do know one thing though… when this person was relaying all the particulars to this dream and happenings around this dream, I began to see puzzle pieces being placed together and “snapped” into place. The puzzle pieces from years ago! Not just recently, but at least 3 years ago or more.4916213896_d919133936_b

Now, I believe “All things work together for good for those that love the Lord and are called according to His purpose”. Romans 8:28. I have believed it with every fiber of my being before and if it’s possible, I believe it even more this very moment. God allowed me to see a glimpse of where He has brought me from and the path He has set my foot to now. He has given me the assurance to know that I know that I know that I am in the exact place that I am supposed to be. That is very humbling to me. It shows me that our God is not a God of mystery in a bad sense of the word. He is a God that loves His children and simply cannot share every detail of our life to preserve us, not to confuse or hurt us. I am telling you… to know the information that I have learned is such a wonderful thing and yet I guard it with my very soul. Why? Because it is precious and wonderful to me. So, you may ask… “Why are you spreading it all over the world, then, on this post?” Well, there are many more details that I am not sharing because it is just not right. However, God laid it on my heart to share what I have shared so far because He wants all of His children to know He loves them and He has a plan for each and every one. He loves you, the person that is reading this post, right now. He loves you so much! He wants you to know, as I wrote in an earlier post – “Beauty for Ashes”.

“Holy is the Lord our God. Almighty, Omnipotent Majesty. The Most High God. This same God that fashioned the universe and called the world into being, knows you by name. He has ordained this time in your life. This very minute. This exact second. The Father is concerned with all that concerns you. He knows your heart. He knows your struggles. He has seen you in the times of incredible victory and He has been there in the times when you have been overwhelmingly defeated. Calling you by name… crying out to you to cast your cares upon Him. He calls out to you now with a still small voice. Come to me… all who are tired and weary with cares. Find rest in my arms. Come home.”humbled-751386[1].1

This particular paragraph speaks to my life so much. You see, He was there when I was overwhelmingly defeated when I was in an abusive marriage that I didn’t know how to get out of.  Also, He was there when I was literally “walking on the mountain tops” when I had the opportunity, years ago, to attend an event called “Christian Artists Seminar in the Rockies”. I can see, a little more now, how every step has led me to this point in my life. Do I see all that is before me? NO! Never! I do know that as long as I rely on my God He will direct my paths and it will be ALL FOR GOOD!

Jeremiah 29:11

11 For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.

I am not sure who this post will speak to. I do know this, this post is speaking to someone right now. It is speaking to your heart and it is speaking volumes to you. God is NOT through with you yet. It has been a long row to hoe but I tell you this… keep trusting that He has a plan. The perfect plan for your life. Trust His heart when you can’t see His hand and know that He loves you so very much! After all, He calls you His beloved.

The Video – You Are Amazing God – Chris Tomlin

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VINE LIVING

Good morning everyone!  I am still working towards the next post in the Prayer series and will get there in the next couple of days, hopefully.  However, this morning I read one of my daily devotionals that I receive via email and had to share.  Some of you probably already get it.  It is from Our Daily Bread and I receive an email from them every morning with the most wonderful devotionals.  I just had to share this one because it applies to all of us that call ourselves Christ followers, and this blog is all about “Vine Living” and “Abiding In The Vine” which is what this particular daily devotional is about.  I hope you enjoy it!

OUR DAILY BREAD
December 17, 2014

Grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. —2 Peter 3:18

Pablo Casals was considered to be the preeminent cellist of the first half of the 20th century. When he was still playing his cello in the middle of his tenth decade of life, a young reporter asked, “Mr. Casals, you are 95 years old and the greatest cellist that ever lived. Why do you still practice 6 hours a day?”pablo-casals-300x300

Mr. Casals answered, “Because I think I’m making progress.”

What a great attitude! As believers in Christ, we should never be satisfied to think we have reached some self-proclaimed pinnacle of spiritual success, but rather continue to “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 3:18). Jesus reminds us in John 15:16 that He chose us to “go and bear fruit.” The result of healthy growth is continuing to bear spiritual fruit throughout our lives. Our Lord promises: “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit” (v.5).

In a steady and faithful progression to become more and more like the One we love and serve, we can be confident that He who began “a good work” in us will continue it until it is finally finished on the day when He returns (Phil. 1:6). —Cindy Hess Kasper

Closer yet I’d cling, my Savior,
You’re the all-sufficient Vine;
You alone can make me fruitful,
Blessed source of strength divine. —Bosch

God’s unseen work in our hearts produces fruit in our lives.

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We can never stop growing in Christ.  He is our perfect example for our lives today!  Staying attached to the Branch will help us to bear fruit.  Vine Living is the place to be!

The Video – Pablo Casals: Bach Cello Solo Nr. 1, BWV 1007 (8.1954)

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GOD STEERS MOVING SHIPS

I am diverting from my Prayer series this morning because I had a dear friend call me just as I was beginning to write last night.  She needed to talk and I was not going to turn her down.  She is going through some tough times right now with her job and family situations and she needed a sounding board.  This, to me, is one of the things that makes relationships stronger.  You have to decide sometimes what is most important, a friend that needs you or your “routine” of doing whatever it is that you do.  So I opted for the relationship building.

This post today is from an email  I received from another friend.  When I read it, I thought “One day this would be good to use as a post.”  So today, I am using it.  I believe it will speak to your heart and I think you will enjoy it as much as I did.  It is an excerpt from the book Jesus Continued …  by J.D. Greearby .  I plan on purchasing the book myself because the excerpt grabbed my heart so.  Here is the excerpt.  Enjoy (I have inserted the pictures of the ships)!

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He died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for Him who died for them and was raised again. 2 Corinthians 5:15

Let me remark that being “led by the Spirit of God” is a remarkable expression. The Bible does not say, “As many as are driven by the Spirit of God.” No, the devil is a driver, and when he enters either into me or into hogs he drives them furiously. – Charles Spurgeon

God turned down David’s offer to build Him a house. David lived in a really nice house himself. Second Samuel calls it a “house of cedar,” an Old Testament way of saying “blingin’.” Meanwhile, God dwelt in a drafty old tent, so David thought he would do a favor for God and upgrade His abode. But God said,

In all places where I have moved with all the people of Israel, did I speak a word… saying, ‘Why have you not built me a house of cedar?’… I took you from the pasture, from following the sheep, that you should be prince over my people Israel. And I have been with you wherever you went and have cut off all your enemies from before you. And I will make for you a great name… And I will give you rest from all your enemies… Will you build me a house? The Lord declares to you that He will make you a house.2 Samuel 7:7-14, v. 14 paraphrased

God did not need David to build a house for Him. In fact, God was building one for David.

God said David’s offer did please Him, however (2 Chronicles 6:8), because it revealed two things about David’s heart — two things that should characterize any believer’s heart: he was filled with a desire to sacrifice for God’s kingdom, and he was completely yielded in surrender to God. These two characteristics embody the posture of “active waiting”. Let’s look at them one at a time.

Posture 1: A Desire to Sacrifice65d37ca3519f9a3dfac91a8b26753401

David felt so overwhelmed at what God had done for him that his heart overflowed with a desire to give back to God.

This pleased God, so while God told David he could not build the temple, He did allow him to collect the materials that his son Solomon would use to build the temple. The writer of Chronicles records that David provided “a large amount” of materials, more than could be counted, and “at great pains” to himself (1 Chronicles 22:4, 1 Chronicles 22:14).

A heart that truly understands the Gospel overflows with gratefulness to God. Extravagant grace produces extravagant givers.

David knew he had been nothing when God chose him to be king: a shepherd, the lowliest occupation in Israel, and the “least” of eight sons. God gave him everything. And even more than an earthly kingship, God gave him forgiveness of sins and an eternal inheritance in Heaven. David’s heart burst with thanksgiving.

Who am I, Sovereign Lord, and what is my family, that You have brought me this far? –  2 Samuel 7:18

He had to do something. Something big. Have you ever stopped to think about how much you “owe” to God? Where would you be had Jesus not come to earth to save you? He had no obligation to come. What were you when He came for you? You were condemned, having sold yourself to sin. Yet, God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8). He voluntarily absorbed the sting of your rejection and died in shame upon a cross in your place, going through hell itself for you, just so you could live with Him in indescribable joy forever. When you understand that in your heart, it changes your attitude toward what to do with your life. How could it not? Realizing the love of God for us produces love for God in us. Extravagant generosity compels extravagant response.REALIZING

When we realize how great a debt we owe to God, we become willing servants, eager to be poured out for God and His Kingdom. If we do not feel that way, we might never have truly understood the Gospel.

Gifts that please God express a heart of deep gratefulness and passionate worship. Jesus praised the woman, for example, who poured out the expensive perfume on His feet, not because He needed that perfume — after all, it sweetened the air for only a few minutes, and was wasted in an economic sense — but because it expressed His priceless value to her. Jesus didn’t need the perfume; it was she who needed to wash His feet with her tears and offer her most expensive possession. Jesus would wash her soul with His blood; she needed to declare His worthiness.

God calls us to be generous, not because He has needs, but because He wants us to become generous, as He is. Generosity is not something God wants from us, you see, as much as something He wants for us. He wants us to be consumed with His glory and filled with compassion, just like He is, moving instinctively to a world of need around us.

Toward the end of his life, David wanted again to give something to God — a field on which God would construct the temple. The owner told David he could just have it. But David responded, No, I insist on paying you for it. I will not sacrifice to the Lord my God burnt offerings that cost me nothing. (2 Samuel 24:24)

David would not give to God an offering that cost him nothing, because by this point he understood well that his offerings were not about meeting God’s needs, but about expressing God’s worthiness. If the gift had been about meeting God’s needs, then a free field would suffice. But to give God a gift that cost David nothing would not express to God how he felt about Him.

So, is your heart ready to be led? The first question to ask is this: Have you offered your life to God in grateful sacrifice? God steers moving ships — ships driven by the winds of worship, gratefulness, love to God for what He’s done, and compassion for those He cares about.

Posture 2: Complete Surrender

Not only did David present his life back to God as a grateful sacrifice, he also yielded himself to God in complete surrender. Whatever God would command, David stood ready to obey. So later, when the prophet Nathan told David what God wanted from him, he obeyed with great zeal. His exuberance in obedience became so contagious that he brought all of Israel along with him into his offering (1 Chronicles 22:2-19).atocha_Spanish_Treasure_Fleet_1715(2)

Following Jesus means a full surrender of our wills to God. David likely remembered how his predecessor, King Saul, had failed so badly in this. Rather than giving God what he asked, Saul had offered a substitute — although a generous one — in place of surrender. God rebuked Saul with these harsh words, “Does the Lord delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the Lord? To obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed is better than the fat of rams.” (1 Samuel 15:22)

At the end of the day, obedience is what God desires most from us. The first command Jesus gave for those who follow Him is the complete surrender of our wills. He said, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow Me” (Matthew 16:24).

“Deny yourself” means a total surrender of every desire in your heart to God. Every dream, every desire, every ambition. You say “no” to all that you want from life so that you are ready to say “yes” to all that He wants from it. “Take up your cross” means you embrace His agenda in life rather than your own. The cross is the best-known Christian symbol, but for many Christians it has become little more than a sentimental piece of jewelry to hang around their neck. For the first disciples, it was no piece of jewelry. The cross was an instrument of oppression, torture, pain, and death. Crosses struck fear into the hearts of all who beheld them. Yet this is the image Jesus says should characterize the lives of His followers. To follow Jesus means that you die to any control you maintain over your life. Like a man on a cross, you place yourself under Jesus’ complete domination, with no more dreams of your own. Dead men have no more ambition for their lives. Have you ever presented your life to God that way — with no conditions, no restrictions?

This Is the Will of God for You

Grateful sacrifice and complete surrender. When Paul summed up in Romans 12:1 what God wants from us, he called for those exact two things:

Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God — this is your true and proper worship. – Romans 12:1

We are to offer our bodies as living sacrifices to God as an act of worship. Notice that we do this in response to something — the mercies of God. The mercies of God in the Gospel, Paul believes, should cause us to be so overwhelmed with gratefulness that we joyfully die to everything we have wanted from life so that we can live to fulfill His desires.

So again, I ask you to consider: Where would you be without Jesus?hms_victory_in_battle

Short answer: Lost. Forever. The only way others will hear about the gospel is through us. Others are at exactly the same place that we would be without Jesus. As Martin Luther said, “It wouldn’t matter if Jesus died a thousand times if no one ever heard about it.” It is impossible to understand that and not have your heart rise up to say, “Please, Lord, send me! Use me! I’m ready! Give your command.” The true Spirit of Jesus serves the mission of the cross. His goal is to make the cross larger in our hearts and to compel us to yield our lives in service to its purpose. The Holy Spirit, you could say, is always leading to the cross or from it, to carry its message of healing to others.

The Song – Jesus  Only Jesus – Billingsley, Penrod, Cottrell, O’Brien

The Video – Jesus Only Jesus – Billingsley, Penrod, Cottrell, O’Brien

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ATTENTION

ATTENTION, ATTENTION

I would like to bring your attention to a new page I published today.  This page will explain a little about my book that I am working on to be published next year.  I would ask that you please check out this link Abiding In His Mercy, Growing In His Grace.   Please prayerfully consider making any amount of donation to help fund the publishing of this daily devotional book that God has laid on my heart to publish.  No amount is too small.

The link will explain a little about the book and give you a link that will give you access to the donation site.  Thank you in advance for considering to partner with me and God to fund the publishing of this book.

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