Saturday, February 28, 2009

Grace and Sanctification Part II

Now that I'm really getting into this study, I'm wondering if I bit off more than I could chew!! ;) God has so much to say on these subjects and so many wonderful revelations to reveal! This is a mere organization of my thoughts...

At some point in our walk with Christ we begin to mature. We grow from babes drinking spiritual milk to ...well, toddlers eating baby food? Do we ever get to steak and potatoes? I'm not sure. The point is, we grow. God doesn't expect perfection from us. As a matter of fact, as I like to say, failure IS an option. Failure is inevitable, which is why His mercies and grace are new everyday. Nevertheless, through the teachings of the scripture, God makes it clear that He wants us to live pure and holy lives; offering our bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God— for this is our spiritual act of worship. (Romans 12:1) This is not to be confused as payment for salvation. As my pastor reminds us, our desire to live a life pleasing to God is a response of what He has done for us and our love for Him, not as a way to earn what has been freely given. Acceptable living before God (sanctification) is possible because of the power of the Holy Spirit in our lives. Perfect living, however, is not. If it was, the sacrifice of Jesus, as the scripture says, would be for nothing. So, if even our best works are not good enough to obtain for us eternal life, yet God's freely given grace through faith is, then why even strive towards right living? "You, my brothers, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature ; rather, serve one another in love." -Galations 5:13

"Live as free men, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as servants of God".
-I Peter 2:16

The Parable of the Talents (paraphrased by me)
It's like a man who goes on a journey, but before he leaves gives each of his servants some talents (dolla bills). He gives his best worker (let's say) $5,000, the next best worker $2,000 and the last worker $1000. While he was gone, the first two servants invested their money, earning back double what they started with. The last worker buried his money in a jar. When the boss man returned from his trip he took inventory of what the workers did with his money. He commended the first two for their wise thinking and rewarded them with more money. The last servant, however, was scolded for not using what was given him and his money taken away. Everyone who has will be given more, and he will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken from him.

"And I could not speak to you as to spiritual people but as to carnal, as to babes in Christ. I fed you with milk and not with solid food; for until now you were not able to receive it..."
-I Corinthians 3:1

"When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things."
-I Corinthians 13:11

"Therefore I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air. No, I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize."
-I Corinthians 9:26-27

Friday, February 27, 2009

Grace and Sanctification Part I

I've been thinking a lot lately about grace. For a few months now I've been pondering the relationship between grace and sanctification or self-discipline and how they both play an important role in our lives without canceling each other out. At first glance they seem almost opposites, but I believe God designed our lives to be characterized by both [grace and self discipline] simultaneously and in perfect harmony. (Only God can get away with such seemingly contradictory expectations). In his book The Ragamuffin Gospel, Brennan Manning discusses the all too typical church mentality about grace, which focuses on grace applied at salvation and then transitions into works based faith...where grace essentially ends. Manning reminds us of a great point and Biblical truth which is that grace continues on and on as we walk with Christ; that it extends beyond the point of salvation; and that it never changes- grace is always the only way. Grace is never replaced by works, salvation is never earned, and nothing can separate us from the Love of God... no matter how long (or short) we have been walking with God. I think this truth is frankly unbelievable to so many because we are so unworthy. Thus, the meaning of grace.

The Parable of the Workers in the Vineyard (paraphrased by me):
The kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire laborers for his vineyard. He agreed to give each of them a denarius (let's say $100) for a day's work. He hired a few early in the morning, a few more at lunch time, and some in the afternoon. At the end of the work day, he paid each of them the same. Of course, the men who worked longer hours complained that they should receive more pay. The boss man said, "Take what is yours and go your way. I wish to give to this last man the same as to you."
-Matthew 20:1-16

"Where sin abounded, grace abounded much more, so that as sin reigned in death, even so grace might reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ."
-Romans 5:20-21

"That I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ..."
-Philippians 3:8-9

...stay tuned for Grace and Sanctification Part II

Thankful Thursday (subject to changing days)

  • fresh air and sunshine
  • forgiveness- from God and others
  • good health and healing
  • I'm thankful that I have so many things to be thankful for, that sometimes it is hard to come up with examples!!!

...that my heart may sing to you and not be silent. O Lord my God, I will give you thanks forever. -Psalm 30:12

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Thankful Thursday

  • I am thankful for having a functioning refrigerator IN my kitchen!!!!
  • For having ice. Period.
  • Did I mention I am thankful to have a refrigerator and ice after three long months of trucking back and forth to the garage to obtain cold food and beverages??? Thank you, Jesus!
  • I am thankful that God cares about even the little things in our refrigerators.
  • I'm thankful that God answers a variety of ways, not always the way would like Him to, but always perfectly and timely for His will. His ways are higher than ours; His thoughts are deeper.

I have to share this. This may seem silly to some of you, but in the midst of our refrigerator nightmares (when we found out that our "new" refrigerator was not working either) I stopped for a moment, literally laid my hand on the refrigerator door and prayed in exasperation, "God, PLEASE, make this refrigerator work...or at least let whatever is wrong with it be fixed for little money. In Jesus' name. Amen." I giggled as I walked away, remembering all the times growing up when my very Pentecostal grandmother laid her hands on EVERYTHING (including family members) demanding that they function properly (or behave properly) in Jesus' name. I soon forgot about my refrigerator request and went on complaining and worrying about, you guessed it, not having access to an icebox in the house. Okay, now fast-forwarding to Tuesday night... Jimmy asked a friend who has experience in air conditioning repair to come over and take a look at our frig. After tinkering with a few things he pulled out a small switch box and said, "looks like just a small problem...should only cost about $20 to fix". A small problem???? Thank you, Jesus, for answering my a way that makes me (and my pocketbook) particularly happy :) He listens. He cares. ...and He humors me at times.

The Writing on the Wall

I've always wanted to decorate with vinyl lettering and finally took the plunge! I thought this scripture was perfect for the dining room and, of course, it is in no other color than "orange juice" :) Just what I needed to highlight the oranges in my kitchen...(now if I can just budget enough money for the fiesta tangerine canister set)! Words are so powerful (The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit.-Proverbs 18:10). I'm really looking forward to being reminded of God's goodness everytime I walk in the kitchen! I told Jimmy at dinner tonight that I can just imagine our little one asking, "mommy, did you eat the Lord for supper?" "No, of course not, honey." "Well, then, how do you know he tastes good?"

FYI, I bought the lettering from Fruitful Vine Creations (
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Sunday, February 15, 2009

Love Writes a Deadly Verse

Jimmy and I celebrated Valentine's Day on Friday night at the murder mystery dinner put on by the Frostproof Chamber of Commerce. We didn't quite know what to expect (especially since this was a Frostproof production with an amateur cast) and even found ourselves a little nervous during the drive there! Nevertheless, we had a great time trying to solve the murder mystery and were impressed by the dinner and show. Here are some pics from the event, which was lots of fun (even though Jimmy and I were by far the youngest couple there!). XOXO

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Thankful Thursday

Owning your own business is hard work! Can I get an amen?! I've recently taken on the daunting task of being the "office manager" for Hurst Pest (although, Jimmy says that's just a glorified name for secretary). I'm putting my organizational skills to the test (along with my accounting talents...or lack thereof) and learning the ins and outs of running a business. So, in the spirit of entrepreneurship, I've decided to give thanks today for...
  • having a brave husband who had the guts to make his own way and who has consistently portrayed the Provider image of the Father.
  • the freedom to make our own schedule and take as many vacation days as we'd like (or can afford).
  • Quickbooks.
  • loyal customers.
  • the opportunity to learn something I was never taught in school.
  • endless opportunities to grow, experience, and be creative.
  • drawing closer to God and relying on His faithfulness during times of uncertainty.

Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name.- Psalm 100:4

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Thankful Thursday (yay, I finally did it...thanks to Nikki's friendly reminder ;)

Today, I'm thankful for...

  • having the BEST yoga instructor ever...even if I only have her for a little while :(

  • great songs (and books) that I hear (or read) just when I need them

  • facebook- connecting with old friends

  • the sunshine (which I would really like to experience right now)

  • my house and the fact that we can still pay the mortgage! Hallelujah!

I will give thanks to the LORD because of his righteousness and will sing praise to the name of the LORD Most High.- Psalm 7:17

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

While I'm waiting

I want to share with you the lyrics to a song that has really ministered to me lately. You're probably thinking, "wow, you must just sit around all day listening to music"...that's not exactly the case (though I do listen to music while I'm doing most things). Songs tend to fall in my lap unexpectedly, like this a superbowl party. Go figure. (Thanks Heather for your obedience in sharing).

As I shared in an earlier post, I'm in a season of waiting, encouraged by scriptures and songs that remind me that waiting on the Lord is beneficial and many times necessary to strengthen us for the great things He has planned. Since my last post, however, baby shower invitations seem to be coming in droves, happy, pregnant women are everywhere I look, and precious and loved babies are being born. I caved momentarily under the pressure and became debilitated by my pain. I cried out to God, "I have to move on with my life. I can't live like this. I have to be content in my circumstances." A few days later (at the superbowl party), a friend of mine asked me if I heard this particular song. She played it for me and God immediately spoke through it. The lyrics encompass everything I've been experiencing, including the pain, as well as the hope that I have in Christ Jesus and His miracle working power. I have played the song repeatedly throughout this week and have been encouraged by the words of truth, hope, and faith. I finally realized that God not only wants me to trust in Him during my trial and rest in His strength and promises, but He also wants me to carry on, persevering for the serve him, worship him, and be a functional member of the body of Christ, not held down in depression and despair. The enemy wants us debilitated, unable to be a useful tool for the Kingdom. God wants us to serve Him through our pain.

So here are the lyrics (for those of you party poopers who keep the speakers on your computer turned off). Otherwise, listen and enjoy.

"I'm waiting" by John Waller

I'm waiting
I'm waiting on You, Lord
And I am hopeful
I'm waiting on You, Lord
Though it is painful
But patiently, I will wait

I will move ahead, bold and confident
Taking every step in obedience
While I'm waiting
I will serve You While I'm waiting
I will worship While I'm waiting
I will not faint
I'll be running the race
Even while I wait I'm waiting

I'm waiting on You, Lord
And I am peaceful
I'm waiting on You, Lord
Though it's not easy
But faithfully, I will wait
Yes, I will wait

I will serve You while I'm waiting
I will worship while I'm waiting
I will serve You while I'm waiting
I will worship while I'm waiting
I will serve you while I'm waiting
I will worship while I'm waiting on You, Lord