Thursday, November 24, 2011

Sustaining Grace

"For the Lord God is a Sun and Shield; 
the Lord bestows [present] grace and favor 
and [future] glory (honor, splendor, and heavenly bliss)! 
No good thing will He withhold 
from those who walk uprightly."
Psalm 84:11

This morning I was contemplating all that I have to be thankful for and all the ways God has sustained me this year. I took a few minutes to read my sister's blog post, Purpose & Joy. She mentions that we have two empty seats at our table this year. They are not literal seats for me as my family lives in Texas, but empty seats in my heart. I actually have four empty seats for four precious people who went home to be with Jesus this year. 

I began to think back to January when I received the phone call that Momma and Aunt Jo had been in a car accident...Aunt Jo was gone and Momma was not doing well. I made that trip to Texas with my two oldest boys and it was hard. Probably the hardest thing I have ever had to do. My life changed that week and I didn't think I could do it...

But for His sustaining Grace...

During those six days, time after time I felt like I had hit the wall; I could go no further. One more trip to the hospital. One more decision to be made. Then the funeral. The graveside. Cleaning out the apartment. And going to the nursing home to see Daddy...who didn't know or understand what had happened.

And each time I told God, 
"I'm done! I can't do anymore!" 
But for His sustaining Grace...

So today, as I look back over the year and all the challenges we have had to face, I remember His Grace that carried me through those six days in Texas. And I realize that same Grace has carried me through this entire year. Through the loss of my Mom and Aunt; the loss of my dear friend, Lori and another precious saint, Ruth; the strain of finances; the challenge of a move we did not expect or instigate; the pain of broken family relationships; and even the "growing pains" we suffer when our children grow up and move on with their own lives. Each time I again said, "God, I just can't do anymore".

But for His sustaining Grace...

"For out of His fullness (abundance) we have all received 
[all had a share and we were all supplied with] 
one grace after another and 
spiritual blessing upon spiritual blessing
 and even favor upon favor 
and gift [heaped] upon gift."
John 1:16 (amp)

Not only did He carry me through each and every circumstance, but He granted me favor time and time again. He has blessed me over and over with friends who have stood beside me, carried me through the difficult times. He has provided in ways we could never imagine. He has reminded me repeatedly that He is faithful. And through the hurts and disappointments, and yes, there have been hurts and disappointments, He gently nudges me and says, "It's not about you." 

So, as I reflect on Thanksgiving today I have much to be thankful for. I have shed my own tears this week as I miss the ones who are not with me, as I reflect on the changes in my life and my family and as I adapt to those changes. But His grace is sufficient (2 Corinthians 12:9). And His promises are Yes and Amen! And no matter what the future holds He will be right there beside me all the way. 

As you count your Blessings today, as the old hymn says, name by one. 

Friends and loved ones; 
Family, near and far; 
Food on the table; 
Clothes on your back; 
Roof over your head; 
Love of the Father; 
Redemption by the Son; 
Guidance of the Holy Spirit...
and His sustaining Grace through it all.

"The grace of the Lord Jesus be with you. 
My love to all of you in Christ Jesus. Amen! 
(1 Corinthians 16:18)

Happy Thanksgiving!!!

Friday, November 11, 2011

He Sings Over You....

"The LORD your God is with you, He is mighty to save. 
He will take great delight in you, 
He will quiet you with His love,
 He will rejoice over you with singing."
Zephaniah 3:17 (NIV)

I needed this verse today. As most of you are aware, this has been a difficult and eventful year for my family. And I am so grateful for the grace God has shown us in the midst of these hard times. 

Last night was kind of a mixed bag of emotions. I was at choir rehearsal getting ready for Sunday services. Geron & Becky Davis are our guests this weekend and he was teaching us some new songs. It was a good night. It was a fun night. But somewhere in the midst of it my emotions overcame me. 

I was missing Momma .... 
I just really wanted to talk to her. 

At the end of rehearsal, Geron read to us some lyrics to a new song he was writing, and I really began to wonder if he had been following me around all year. I had a chance to speak to him after rehearsal and told him he needed to put music to it quickly so we could sing it. He reminded me that while we don't see the big picture, God does. And while I may not understand why we have faced all the challenges we have this year, God is faithful. 

This morning I woke up really early and my mind was running (as our minds so easily can do at 4am). And I found this verse...Zephaniah 3:17. I am so glad God's word is alive and active. Because it was what I needed .... today!

"The LORD your God is with you, He is mighty to save..." He hasn't left me to face these challenges alone. He is my Father and I can run to Him. He has a plan, a purpose, and a solution to every situation we face. He is our fortress, our refuge...our haven.

"He will take great delight in you"... Wow! How often do we stop and realize that He delights in us? If you have children or grandchildren, just think about how much delight they give you. They aren't always perfect, they don't always do things the way you think they should. But still, don't they just bring a smile to your face when you think of them? The definition of delight is "great rapture, joy". My children and my little granddaughter bring me joy. And when the Father looks at us it gives Him great  joy.

"He will quiet you with His love"...The Common English Bible says, "He will create calm with His love". How often do we find ourselves caught up in the chaos of our situations, and yet when we just spend time in His presence, we feel the calm, the peace of God saturate us. His love creates calm. 

"He rejoices over you with singing"... This was what started the whole thought process this morning. Last night as we were singing to Him, Geron spoke of the music, the song, the melody, being pleasing to God. The chorus from his song was...

Let my song bring hope
Let my song bring peace
Let it's melody be pleasing
As it rising to Your throne
And may Your name be glorified
With my song.

That was the purpose of our song. And yet this morning I read "He rejoices over  you with singing." God sings over us. Makes me wonder if in those times of chaos that bring us to Him, does He sing to us? Kind of a lullaby brings a peace and a calm to us in the midst of our storm. 

No matter your circumstances today, no matter your storm, stop for just a moment, listen carefully and you'll hear Him sing over you.


Monday, November 7, 2011

Giants in the Land...

"This was back in the days...
when there were giants in the land. 
The giants came from the union of the sons of God 
and the daughters of men."
Genesis 6:3 (MSG)

We are facing some giants. 
Big, ugly, intimidating giants. 
And we look like grasshoppers in our own sight. 

This verse in Genesis is speaking of literal giants that were conceived when the sons of God united with the daughters of men. And as I read it tonight, I realized that we still create giants today. Not literal people giants, but situations we find ourselves in that came about because we, the sons of God, have united with the ways of man to create situations in our lives that become giants. They can take many forms and come in many shapes and sizes.

Financial giants
Health giants
Relational giants
Employment giants
Addiction giants


In Genesis 6, God was so fed up with mankind and his sinful ways, that He determined to wipe them out and start over again. He found one righteous man and his family worthy of saving...a remnant. And so God sent a flood to destroy all the earth's living inhabitants except Noah and his little family and a whole boat full of animals. But He promised He would never destroy the earth again....although I wonder if He doesn't sometimes wish He could change His mind. 

I am so grateful for His
Redeeming Love

Because there are giants in the land again. And instead of wiping out mankind and starting all over again, He has promised a way of deliverance. He has promised to go before us in the battle; to stand beside us in the fight and to protect us as a rear guard. I love that about God! He surrounds us! And even when we have created those giants ourselves, when we humbly come before Him and ask for mercy and grace, He freely bestows it upon us and gives us a way of escape. And when those giants rise up against us we can boldly and confidently say,

"You come against me with 
sword and spear and javelin, 
but I come against you 
in the name of the Lord Almighty" 
(I Samuel 17:45 NIV)

What giants are you facing? 
You are not in this battle alone...