Tag Archives: Growing in God’s 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.”

ephesians-2_8-grace-2

 “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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EXTEND GRACE

Have you ever come across a situation that God is telling you to “Extend Grace”? Whether it be a work life, personal life or otherwise, there are many times in life that we need to hear from God and extend grace … His grace that can come through us. God is a Good God and loves His children and doesn’t want any to suffer or have pain that is not quenchable. He provides ways to extend grace through His instruments here on earth… us. His children that walk around on this big, blue, revolving globe called earth that He created. We are His instruments of grace and love and if we call ourselves a Christian, a Christ follower, then we need to learn more and more how to extend grace to our brothers and sisters that share our space and time. That also calls for extending grace to some that may not be believers. Sometimes… just maybe, God has placed some folks in your path that are not believers. More than likely He has – because He wants us to share our grace that He has given us.grace-of-god-550x320

I have not written in quite a while due to my work being pretty consuming at this time in my life. I have begun a new job and it is a wonderful one. I love my job, the people I work with and my manager, who is one of a kind. I know some of you may say you like your manager as well, but I think God has triple blessed me with a job I love, work that I love and a manager that knows Him and lets Him lead her in her daily walk. Yes, she is human and yes, sometimes she has to regroup and say, “I was wrong” but overall, my days are filled with joy, new knowledge, stretching, learning, stretching, more joy, some pain and stress along the way and so much intrigue and most of all … Grace! This job takes a lot of my time and energy and I know the longer I am there the better it will get because I will learn and grow. I just feel so blessed to have the job I have, the manager I have and the opportunities I have before me.Picture3

Recently, I have been confronted with the need for me to extend grace upon grace to a certain situation in my work life. It has me a bit confounded. Not that I don’t want to extend this grace to this particular situation … albeit one that I need to learn from, it seems to allude me how to do this … well, with grace. Part of my personality is a very assertive and “get it done” type and the other is a tender, compassionate and caring type. Sometimes they struggle with each other. This situation screams at my compassionate, caring side and I find myself needing to slow down and listen to God and sometimes God’s voice comes through my manager. She is a wonderful instrument of peace in my life.hqdefault

You see, I believe everyone is on a journey to find peace and tranquility in their life. As a believer, that peace and tranquility for me is knowing my Savior, Jesus Christ. He calms my spirit and eases my confusion all the time. When there is turmoil, He calms the storm. Where there is confusion He clears my head. When I feel lonely He is there to remind me He is my friend and always will be. He is my daily companion and partner through all of life’s situations. However, I still find it hard, sometimes, to quiet the “ME” and listen to His still, small voice that says, “this situation needs grace. Remember, the marvelous grace you have been given.” When reminded, either by Him or by someone else, it stops me in my tracks and I break down and weep. I am overwhelmed by His goodness and I can’t help but just weep with thankfulness.  I do this quite often lately.

Grace, Grace. God’s Grace. Grace that will pardon and cleanse within.
Grace, Grace. God’s Grace. Grace that is greater than all our sin.

I love that old hymn.

Grace means to get something that you do not deserve; unmerited favor. God’s Word also talks about and teaches us to extend grace.

The best and most significant example of grace in the history of the world is the wonderful grace extended by our Father in Heaven when He gave His Only Son to the world as an example for us to live by.

John 3:16

16 For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.

John 1:14-17

14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.16 And of His fullness we have all received, and grace for grace. 17For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.

There are so many wonderful scriptures on grace. I would fill 10 pages or more if I listed them all. I mostly want you to think where in your life can you extend grace? To a co-worker, family member, neighbor or to a particular situation that you are faced with. There is grace from the Savior readily available for you to be filled with His grace to extend grace to whatever situation and whomever might need it.

Jesus, laying down His life, gave us the most extravagant gift of grace and mercy when He allowed Himself to be placed on the cross to die for our sins. He didn’t have to and yet He did because He loves us so much! Again Grace is unmerited favor – not getting what we deserve and mercy … is getting something that we do not deserve – which is His forgiveness for our sins. Check out the broader explanation on GotQuestions.org.

I never like to leave that story at that ending though. Yes, Jesus laid Himself on that cross to die for our sins, but… oh it doesn’t end there! OH NO IT DOESN’T! After giving His life for our sins… on the third day, HE AROSE!

Luke 24

Now on the first day of the week, very early in the morning, they, and certain other women with them,[a] came to the tomb bringing the spices which they had prepared. But they found the stone rolled away from the tomb. Then they went in and did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. And it happened, as they were greatly[b] perplexed about this, that behold, two men stood by them in shining garments. 5 Then, as they were afraid and bowed their faces to the earth, they said to them, “Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here, but is risen! Remember how He spoke to you when He was still in Galilee, saying, ‘The Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again.’”…

So, if there is someone or a situation that seems to need God’s grace extended through you and your abilities, listen to that still, small voice and ask God for the ability to extend that grace in whatever way He leads you to do so. I promise it will be a wonderful blessing in your day. Sometimes that blessing will be continued throughout your days, weeks, months and years to come. Extend Grace and see what happens. God is such a good God and loves you so much! He wants you to be blessed! After all, He calls you His beloved.

Another wonderful song by the Martins

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GOD DIRT

I wrote this originally on April 4, 2014. I have revised it somewhat, but not the actual topic. Some of the sentences reference last year time frame. I have had an outpatient procedure today and am not up to writing a post on The Tabernacle tonight.

I thought I had posted this particular post some time ago, but I searched for it and couldn’t find it on the website, so you get to enjoy it here today. I love the topic and the comparison that it brings. So here it is and I feel certain you will enjoy the comparison that I have drawn.

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How many of you folks like to plant flowers and various plants? I know some folks don’t like to plant them but do enjoy looking at them and having them adorn their yards. Some don’t mind planting but don’t like the upkeep with them. I love the whole process… figuring out what I am going to put in different places, choice of colors, textures, shapes and sizes. Then to actually mix and match and organize them in my yard so it looks as good as it can. This is a trick when you don’t have as much funds as you would like. I tried growing with seed and it just never seems to be the same… hands-dirt-ccflcr-lolrensometimes it works ok, but the last time I tried, the plants just didn’t last like I had hoped for. I think I need to modify my planting times for seeds. Start them in the house and transplant them after the last freeze… which this year it was a bit deceiving – as some of you have experienced and are still experiencing. Well, I have everything in the ground and it is all blooming now and it looks pretty good. There are still some bulbs that I am waiting on but for the most part things are looking pretty good.

I was walking through the break room at work one day and saw these huge ivy plants on top of the refrigerators. I haven’t had any ivy in a long time so I clipped a couple of ends off aEpipremnum pinnatumnd put them in water on my desk. It wasn’t long before they started sprouting roots. Those things grow like crazy in no time! It is just the normal variegated green and white ivy, but I really have always liked it because it’s easy to grow and it can get so long and full and you can wrap it around poles and shelves. I always thought it was quite interesting how it could grow in water. Just water. No soil. However, the one on my desk had a couple of bad spots on it and I had to trim off some of the ends so it would start growing roots again. Then I decided to take it home and plant it in a pot with soil. Oh My Goodness! What a difference that made! It began sprouting so many new leaves and it is so pretty! I have it outside on my front porch with my other little plants. I do love the green leaves because there are so many different shades of green with the ivy.

OK, here comes the comparison… as always. We, as Christians, can grow on our own. But in what way are we growing? We can take care of kids, animals, house, job, spouse or significant other in the most amazing ways. However, are we growing spiritually? Peter tells us in 2 Peter 3:18 that we should grow in the grace and knowledge or Jesus Christ …

2 Peter 3:18

17 You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, take care that you are not carried away with the error of lawless people and lose your own stability. 18 But 6grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.

Are we just taking root in water? Or are we planted in the soil so we can thrive and flourish? Those roots can grow and grow in water but oh how they flourish when planted in that “God dirt”. There are many references in the Bible about growing with God, or growing in Jesus Christ… another one of my favorites is a letter Paul wrote to the church at Ephesus. He always spoke with such beautiful words.

Ephesians 3:14-19

14 For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, 15 from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, 16 that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, 19 and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.

With the influence sprout_in_dirt_square-300x262of God in our daily lives we can grow and grow and grow and oh how beautiful we can become. We can reach out and touch others with God’s love and care when we are planted in Him. He loves watching His children grow and change as they learn Who He really is. When you are planted in that God dirt you will discover new things about Him and yourself every day! Psalm 1 is absolutely one of my favorite Psalms. As if you can pick any out a better than the rest… the Psalms are amazing. Psalm 1 speaks about that man (or woman) that delights in the law of the Lord.

Psalm 1

Blessed is the man
who walks not in the counsel of the wicked,
nor stands in the way of sinners,
nor sits in the seat of scoffers;
but his delight is in the law of the Lord,
and on his law he meditates day and night.

He is like a tree
planted by streams of water
that yields its fruit in its season,tree-planted-by-stream
and its leaf does not wither.
In all that he does, he prospers.
The wicked are not so,
but are like chaff that the wind drives away.

Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment,
nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous;
for the Lord knows the way of the righteous,
but the way of the wicked will perish.

It is amazing how my view of God has changed over the last few years. I am constantly finding new ways to honor His name! And you know what? He keeps blessing me over and over again! He is an awesome God and wants to have a relationship with you too! He is just waiting for you to call on indexHis name. He loves you and wants to help you grow in Him. Find your God dirt and start growing! He loves you so much! After all, you are one of His beloved.

The Video – Psalm 1 – Kim Hill

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