Unreceived Grace

Her effort to be perfect is destroyed by her sin
Paralyzing guilt sets in
She weeps, sadden by the loss of ‘perfection’
She hardens her heart and tries to justify her sin

Enter in grace…

The one she sinned against forgives her, but her hands are clenched
He pleads for her to return to him
She wants to return, but doesn’t forgive herself
She knows she does not deserve forgiveness
She runs away into the dark to hide
She doesn’t think she deserves to live, and wants death
She begins to numb herself

Messengers come, reminding her of grace…
One day the one sinned against speaks to her again
He invites her to reconcile
She dares to believe reconciliation is possible
She dares to believe she could be forgiven
She steps out of the darkness and towards the Light
She takes his hand and walks on the road of reconciliation

Through this journey her hands open and her heart softens
She weeps a different type of sorrow
She weeps in humility and gratitude
She experiences a spiritual death and is rewarded a new life

She lives because her hands opened to receive grace
She lives a new life because she walks in the Light
She lives a new life because she believes she is forgiven

Today she is hidden with Christ in God!

Hallelujah!

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It’s Hard To Believe…

It IS hard to believe…

It’s hard to believe I need a sacrifice for my sins.
It’s hard to believe God would come down in the flesh and save me.
It’s hard to believe I’ve been forgiven of my past sins.
It’s hard to believe I have the power to overcome future sins.
Its hard to believe I can speak to God Almighty.
It’s hard to believe God can hear me.
It’s hard to believe I can hear Him.
It’s hard to believe God lives in me.

It’s hard to believe God loves me.

It IS hard to believe.

That’s why it takes a working of GOD to save us:
To save us from this of doubt Him.
To save us from this division from Him.
To save us from this depression within.
To save us from this darkness around.
To save us from our sins.
Oh what GRACE is HARD to comprehend!

Please LORD,
Remind me again how Your grace and mercies are new each morning.
Remind me how the blood of Jesus still cleanses;
Remind me of Your faithfulness and righteousness to forgive;
Remind me of Your presence within.

 

***

God saves
When I was first born again six years ago I was overly zealous for Jesus Christ. Though I shared Christ with those around me, I was trying to make others believe. I had salvation ambition and I came across as a ‘Bible thumper.’ I wanted so badly for others to be rescued out of the darkness and depression I once knew.

But what I didn’t fully realize then that I do now is this…I can’t make anyone believe, not even myself. Saving faith is a work of God.

So today I sow the Word implanted in me…I sow with my mouth, I sow with my writing, I sow with my living and I sow with my tears.

I pray and wait as God causes a growth.

May this God Friday be the day of someone’s salvation.

*Read Titus 3


Light Shines @ The Vagabond Inn

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It was a cool dark morning when my kids and I walked toward the lobby of the Vagabond Inn. My eyes quickly darted away from the band of men in the dimly lit parking lot, whispering and staring at me with unlovely looks. Fear immediately gripped me, and the Holy Spirit reminded me,

“Perfect love casts out all fear…”

I was reminded I was not alone, God was with me, and I took my thoughts captive and asked Him to help me not to fear the men but allow God to love them through me.

As my children and I began fixing our breakfast, my husband walks in to tell me he had to leave for work and couldn’t stay to eat with us. He prays and hugs us good-bye.

Once he left the room, the silence was deafening and my heart was overwhelmed by the sadness, depression and darkness of the environment. I quickly took an inventory:

Five men outside, two men inside getting food, one sitting at a table eating….and in the far left corner was a young woman scribbling in a notebook. Her head was down and she was trying to be invisible. We sat at the table across from her and I prayed in my heart,

God, I know you have cleansed my heart, I know you have reminded me that while we were yet sinners You loved us by sending Jesus Christ…I know I have good news to share but I’m scared…can you help me to share Christ with a lost soul?”

Desperate for help, I looked through my phone for a song and find ‘Light of the World’ and I began to sing with my kids. We started worshiping softly and become progressively louder, drowning out the dark and depressing environment.

When the song finished, the silence returned but the atmosphere was different. A voice pierced through the silence,

“You have a beautiful voice.”

It was the voice of the young lady.

I want to disagree with her, but instead say, “Thank you.” I looked at the children and excused myself and they nodded knowing I was stepping out in obedience.

I walked into her sphere of life and introduced myself. She forced a smile and told me her name–J.

Her eyes are familiar to me…full of hurt, hopelessness, and shame, ready to burst.

I gently asked her,

“J, Do you have faith?”
“Oh yes, I do.” She responded defensively
“What do you have faith in?” I pressed.
“I believe in God, I talk to Him all the time. I gave my life to Christ when I was 11….”

Her eyes began to light up and she invited me to reminisce with her the goodness and grace of God in her life as a child. She shared how she completed the entire AWANA program and memorized a lot of Scripture.

I was so excited and pointed to my children and told her they too were in AWANA hiding God’s Word in their hearts just as she did. My children take this as a cue to come over, and she smiles at them. She shared with us the other things God did through her, like the time she went on a mission trip to build houses. She was coming alive as she spoke of God. My next question broke her,

“J, What are you doing here?”

Her lip quivers and she darts her eyes at the kids and back at me. My children sense the seriousness of the moment and return to their seats to finish their meal. She casts her face down and quietly mumbles that she came down to the lobby because the man she was with is still sleeping.

I didn’t mean to ask her why she was at the Vagabond Inn, but why she was in this town. I saw my question caused her to want to hide and I felt compassion for her. I reached my hand to hers and squeezed it tightly hoping love would flow through me to her. I opened my mouth,

“J, God’s Word is in you…all those years of memorizing in AWANA and God’s word does not return to Him void. You have given your life to Christ when you were 11 years old. You must remember nothing….’nothing can separate you from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus? NOTHING. Not even what you did five minutes ago.”

I continued,

“…do you mind if I pray with you?”

“Sure, I’ll pray with you….”

We hold hands and pray aloud.

When we finished our eyes locked on each other and I said,

“The Bible teaches us, “If we confess our sins God is faithful and righteous to forgive us and the blood of Christ cleanses us from all unrighteousness.” He has taken us out of the darkness into His marvelous light and we need to come back to the Light. God still LOVES you.”

Her eyes lit up with excitement and she bends down to grab two pieces of paper. As she unfolds them she tells me,

“I drew these last night and this morning as I was talking to God….”

I look at them as she gets water. They are drawn from a tortured and torn heart. It was evident she was in a spiritual battle.

She drew a line of demarcation and had light and dark contrasted. On one side she listed all her struggles and sins with a picture of satan and she’s crying.

On the other side there was light and beauty with flowers and a butterfly with words like love and happiness. She was smiling and happy and her hearts goals and dreams were listed in order.  Number one on her list was to have a lasting relationship with God and her family. She had the words “Get back” written in several places indicating she knew she was off the path and wanted to get back on it.

Suddenly I hear another woman’s voice ask her a question,

“Hey, was that you praying? Will you do me a favor, I want you to pray for me and my friend….”

I turn to look at her response. Her eyes widen and she looks astonished that someone would ask her for prayer, but she slowly nods and begins to walk away.

I walked over and stood next to J and saw two women and after introducing myself I tell them we will pray for them right now. One of them asks curiously,

“So that’s what you do? You pray? You sit here in the lobby and ask people if they need prayer?”

I smiled full of joy and said, “Well I’m not always here but I’m available to pray for, and with anyone willing. Jesus is the one that is always interceding for the saints.”

We held hands going to the throne of grace together. We cry out to God clothed in the righteousness of Christ, thankful for His forgiveness and grace and we ask for His help, His wisdom, His strength to be obedient daughters and walk in the Light.

When we finished one of them says, “AMEN! I became a Christian when I was eight and I have strayed far into the dark but someone has been inviting me to Church and I’m going back today!”

Like a giddy little girl, I lift my hands and praise God!!

As the two ladies left, J and I discussed her confessional drawings. She told me she wanted to get out of there. I admitted to her that I wanted to take her out of there. She asked if I would take her to L.A.

I told her I was going to Church and she could come with me and afterwards I could take her….but I stopped and looked into her eyes and asked,

“J, if I take you to L.A. what will you be doing there? Who do you know there?”

She drew back and casted her eyes down and says, ‘I know lots of people’ and if you don’t take me I will take the bus to get there anyway.”

I told her, “Thank you for being honest with me, I understand. But do you understand why I won’t take you?”

“Yes. You don’t want to be the one responsible for taking me into the darkness and if something happens to me you would be upset.”

“That’s correct. J, if I had my own place I would take you home with me. I have to pray and ask God for wisdom, I need to ask Him my role in this situation right now, and I need to be content with the role He has given me.”

‘I understand.’

We sit in silence for a moment and I remember I have some more ‘Bread of life’ to leave with her so I run to my car and write her a note and hand it to her. Before we say good-bye I reminded her of more Truth,

“J, God loves you so much, you are His workmanship created in Christ Jesus for good works He has prepared for you to walk out. Your salvation is not just for you but for the building up of the Church. Didn’t you see that when the woman asked you for prayer? There are lost souls out there that need us to remain in Christ so we can encourage them to come back on the path of Light. We must continue to go to Church so that we can come together to stir one another to love and good deeds just as we did today.”

She smiles and her eyes show she understands. She says thank you, we hug and exchange contact information in hopes to keep in touch.

We had Church before we went to Church that day, and Light shined brightly in that Vagabond Inn: To. God. Be. The. Glory.

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******
I share this to encourage you. I am not perfect, there have been many times I’ve missed opportunities to share truth with the suffering because of my pride and self-righteousness.

The day before I met ‘J’ I was tested and sifted. I confessed to my husband my ugly thoughts about the residents of his temporary ‘home.’ I told him I was scorning them, looking down on them for the bondage they allowed themselves to be in….as I confessed, my heart was pierced with God’s sWORD:

“But God demonstrated his own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”

I meditated on ‘while we were YET SINNERS…”

That was me too. The only reason I was different was because of God’s grace. Instead of scorning them I chose to mourn for them. All of this was necessary to prepare me for the good work God would do through me this March morning.

There are a lot of hurting people in the world. They do a lot of things to escape the pain by numbing themselves with drugs, alcohol, and unhealthy relationships.

Some of these souls have never met Jesus Christ, and some have known Him and are prodigal children. They have tasted and seen The Lord is good but they have walked in the darkness so long they actually believe the lies of satan, “that God no longer loves them.”

Someone in your sphere of life needs to hear TRUTH: that God loves them, someone in the environment you are placed in needs to be encouraged to walk in the Light. Someone near you needs you to SHINE the LOVE and LIGHT of Christ to help them turn back to Him.

I have two questions for the children of God:

Will you scorn the lost or will you mourn for them?
Are you ready to share the hope that is within you?


A Change of Heart

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You begin life with a selfish heart.

Everything you say is right and everyone else is wrong. It needs to be your way, you hurt people with the things you say and do but don’t care. If they hurt you, you harden your heart and cut them out of your life pretending they don’t exist.

But one day after making another selfish decision it doesn’t “feel” right. You wonder what this “feeling” is about…maybe your conscience? You shrug your shoulders and ignore the “feeling,” sometimes escaping and using things of the world to numb your heart.

This “feeling” happens often enough you begin to see other things, like how your selfishness hurts others. At first you react indifferent as if you don’t care, but deep inside you do. You begin to see “ugly” in you. It comes to the point when you can’t handle it anymore and you wonder, “Can I ever change?”

You strive to succeed. You try to be nicer to people, try to say nice things, but your thoughts reveal the authenticity of your heart…”ugly.” You still press forward and begin to do charitable deeds to feel good about yourself but it never lasts.

But one day you’re introduced to perfection—Jesus Christ. You don’t know Him but you know about Him and You want to be like Him. He’s so loving, patient and kind, all the things you know you are not. You begin going to Church, reading the Bible and you try to be like Him but fail every time. In fact, the more you read the Bible, the more you learn about the Holiness of God and the more you see your “ugly” heart and your inability to love God and others.

You “pour” out your ugly heart and begin to “mourn” and weep about the “ugly” in you. You feel hopeless and doubt there could ever be a change in your “ugly” heart. and you want a new heart. You are overwhelmed on where to begin in this change…then one day you meet Jesus for yourself and are invited into a reconciled relationship to KNOW the One that heals hurts and hearts…the scales fall of your eyes and you see:

  • The only One that can change your heart is the one who created you–God the Father
  • The only Way to get to God the Father is to be reconciled to Him for all those times you cherished your “ugly” heart and hurt Him and others
  • The only Way to be reconciled to the Father is through Jesus Christ
  • The only Way to get a new heart is to be born again
  • The only Way to keep this new heart unstained by the world is to walk in the Light

The only Way to walk in the Light and be Revived is to place your faith in Jesus Christ:

  • Believe Jesus came to save you from your “ugly” not condemn you
  • Believe Jesus took the sacrifice for your “ugly” and it is finished
  • Believe Jesus reconciled you to God the Father
  • Believe you have been given the resurrection power to abstain from “ugliness”
  • Believe Jesus is praying for you
  • Believe God is faithful and righteous and will continue to forgive you of your “ugly” and cleanse you

So one day you give your “ugly” dark heart to God and He takes your heart of stone and gives you a heart of flesh and puts His Spirit in you, telling you the way to go and you begin to walk in the Light.

You know you are not perfect but believe God will complete the work He began you until the day Christ returns.

As you walk in the Light with your new heart you sometimes experience that same “feeling” and see “ugly” but now you don’t ignore this “feeling” and instead you daily pour out your heart to God and turn to Him and experience a new feeling a “burning.”

This “burning” is God refining you, making you more like Christ….isn’t that what you wanted? To be like Jesus Christ?  That is what our Creator, your Father wills.

***
*The “ugly” is sin

*That “feeling” about sin is conviction

*That “pouring” about sin is confession

*That “mourning” about sin is godly sorrow

*That “turning” from sin is repentance

*That “burning” of sinful flesh is sanctification making you more like Christ

A change of heart only comes through God by turning from your sinful ways to God and placing your faith in the finished work of Jesus Christ.

Repentance towards God and faith in The Lord Jesus Christ. Repentance and faith…is the lifestyle of a child of God.

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“Turn to Me and be saved, all the ends of the earth; for I am God, and there is no other.” Isaiah 45:22

‘”For the love of Christ controls us, having concluded this, that one died for all, therefore all died; and He died for all, so that they who live might no longer live for themselves, but for Him who died and rose again on their behalf.

Therefore from now on we recognize no one according to the flesh; even though we have known Christ according to the flesh, yet now we know Him in this way no longer. Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come. Now all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation, namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation.

Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making an appeal through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.”

2 Corinthians 5:14-21


The Invitation

I received an invitation but didn’t open it right away. I was thankful to get it and carried it with me most of the time. I only spoke of it when others talked about their invitation, and I pretended I had already opened mine. I didn’t think I needed to open mine because I knew Who it was from and I knew I was invited.

There were many times in my life when I was lost and lonely I would pull the invitation out and hold it against my heart and long for the pain to go away, but I never opened it.

Then one day a woman shared with me her invitation…Word for Word.

She talked about it all the time, she spoke of the Invitee even more. She was giddy in love and full of joy and spoke of the Invitee as if she really KNEW Him. She shared with me the day she received her invitation and the day she gave her RSVP and she was alert and ready waiting for the event. The joy and enthusiasm in her voice and the love for the One who sent this invite intrigued and stirred me. I wondered if I really received the same invitation as her.

I could no longer stand it and I opened my invitation in the early morning hours and I saw where the joy came from…

I was invited to approach the throne of God! To be in His presence and actually speak to Him on a daily basis and be heard! I saw it was not an invitation for a ticket to heaven, but an invitation to enter into a relationship with our Creator, to call Him Abba, Father and be His child.

I was invited to a future wedding feast and He promised He would supply all my needs according to His glorious riches, not just for the day of the wedding but now. The only thing He required of me is that I love Him.

My heart raced and I cried. I saw my depravity on the backdrop of His holiness and I KNEW I did not deserve to be invited. My mind went back to all the sins I had committed, the idols in my life, and my inability to love God the way He asked of me. I was afraid I would stain the wedding clothes. That’s when I began to understand the meaning of grace–receiving something I didn’t deserve–it is a gift.

That February morning in 2009 I submitted my “RSVP” by placing my faith in Jesus Christ, the One Who gives me access to God the Father by One Spirit. That was the beginning of my transformation from the inside out. I am a citizen of heaven and my mind is set on heavenly things. I long for the day when my Savior, the One who prepared a way for me to Know God returns to receive me to Himself and I will have un-interrupted fellowship with Him forever.

***

Do you know we were made to have fellowship with Holy God? Our sin separates us from God, and we feel too ashamed to even mention His name.

But God rich in His mercy, grace and love provided a way for us to really KNOW Him, not just know about Him. This knowing is found through Jesus Christ. This knowing IS eternal life.

If you feel a drawing and a longing to know God, turn to Him and place your faith in Jesus Christ, knowing it is by is His sacrifice you are made right with God. He will clothe you with His robe of righteousness and empower you with His Spirit to love Him the way He deserves to be loved…this is a lifetime of sanctified learning full of Truth, grace and forgiveness.

Consider this your invitation….

RSVP in french means “please respond,” will you RSVP today?

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**I wrote this in remembrance of my re-birthday! Six years ago this February I became a new creation in Christ in the privacy of my home reading the Scriptures.***

 

 

 

 


Going through it to get to it…

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Sometimes the shortest distance isn’t always best.

“Now when Pharaoh had let the people go God did not lead them by the way of the land of the Philistines even though it was near; for God said, “The people might change their minds when they see war, and return to Egypt.” Exodus 13:17

God had appointed Moses to set the captive Israelites free from the oppression of the Egyptians, and God had an appointed plan for them to walk out. The Israelites probably wondered why they had to go through the wilderness to the Red Sea, even though it seemed better and faster to go to the land of the Philistines. Besides, what were they going to do when they got to the Red Sea?

I must admit my mind can ask similar questions. If I was one of the Israelites I would walk the path but I would probably be tempted to grumble, and try to assert my ideas and suggestions. I must confess, I sometimes still do.

God has appointed Jesus Christ as the Way to lead us in the paths of righteousness and now we have unlimited access to God’s throne of grace. God has an appointed plan and specific works He has prepared for us to walk out.

I have left the slavery to sin and entered into life abundant through Jesus Christ, and yet sometimes I wonder why is He leading me through the wilderness, and how and when will the Red Sea part? However, when I remember God is love I settle down. I meditate on His word and wonder in the sovereignty and character of God. I remember His purposes and plans are not to harm, and they extend beyond my own life and what I can see.

God sets a hedge of protection around us, helping us to stay on the path. He has given us Jesus Christ as a settlement for all those times we get off the path, He has given us the Holy Spirit to convict us to get back on the path. As children of God we have all we need for this walk of faith. This path of righteousness is where we experience abundant life and joy, because we are walking in the presence of God.

Whatever wilderness God is leading you through, you must remember He knows the future, He knows the consequences, He knows your heart, He knows what’s best. Yoke yourself to Jesus Christ and He will lead you in the way you should go.

May you enJOY your journey with Jesus and continue to walk by faith, for that is how the righteous live.

*John 10:9-11 *Ephesians 2:10


Joy comes in the mourning…

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Image credit: Gracieediaz

Life without the presence of God is dark and depressing with sporadic moments of happiness birthing from our circumstances and experiences.

But circumstances and experiences are fleeting, leaving us empty and depressed once more. How do we experience a lasting holy joy?

In God’s presence is the fullness of joy.

No one can come into the presence of God the Father without an advocate for the forgiveness of sins. But there is an advocate, His name is Jesus Christ.

You must be willing to turn to God and come into the Light of Christ to allow the Holy Spirit to convict you of sin, righteousness and judgement. You must courageously confess and mourn for your sins against God and others.

You will see, God’s faithfulness and righteousness is demonstrated in His forgiveness of our sins. You must continue to believe the blood of Jesus Christ cleanses you from all your sin and unrighteousness…then you can enter into God’s presence and experience His Holy joy and rest through the Holy Spirit.

This joy can only come after humility and genuine sorrowful repentance for sins.

May “the grace of The Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, be with you all.” 2 Corinthians 13:14

***

I saw this painting in a local coffee shop and was immediately inspired to write this post. This is a demonstration of the how the gifts and talents of the body of Christ stirs one another to love and good deeds. You can find more inspiration and stirring at the artist Graciee Diaz’s website here.


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