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Re-Gifting the Gift of Grace this Christmas

Re-gifting Grace

Who can forget the episode of Seinfeld when Dr. Tim Whately is accused of re-gifting a label maker to Jerry?

It’s true that re-gifting is often frowned upon but some gifts are just meant to be given more than once. Over the next few weeks, I hope you’ll join me as we explore what it means to re-gift these types of gifts⎯those purchased in the eternal and wrapped by the love a Savior. Today, let’s unwrap and re-gift the gift of grace.

RainbowMoments ago, I stepped outside and saw a full rainbow stretched out above the mountain range. I took a quick picture but it began to rain. I ran inside to see if my speedy shot had captured this promise written across the sky in brilliant colors. As you can see, I barely caught the edge. By the time I returned outside for a better shot, the clouds had crept in, obscuring my view.

Some promises are like that, wouldn’t you agree? We’re told (or we say) just the right words at the right time but then desires shift, taking our well-meaning promises with them.

But God {the most powerful word duo ever written} — He is the keeper of promises.

Ephesians 2:8,9In verse 4 of Ephesians 2, it says that because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions.There is nothing in us or about us that motivates the Lord’s favor. We deserve wrath, but through Christ, we instead received grace, which many define as “unmerited favor from God”. And this undeniable, powerful, life-changing favor changes everything. It alters the choices we make, our desire to serve, our priorities, and the way we love others. God’s unmerited favor toward us changes everything. So how can we not turn around and show the love of Christ to others?

If we are going to practice re-gifting this Christmas (and throughout the year) let it begin with the gift of grace. Here are just a few practical ways we can put this desire into practice.

Re-Gifting Grace:

 

  • Re-gifting grace happens when we pray for those who have hurt us or for those who are hurting us still. There is something about lifting a person’s name before God’s throne that slowly and quietly begins to allow us to see that person as God sees him/her. It may or may not erase the pain associated with the name but it will be offering grace through the gift of prayer.
  • Re-gifting grace happens when we give others permission to be different. A sweet friend (and one of the most humble women I know) and I sometimes tease how the world would be a much better place if everyone would just think like we do. {Yep, I just admitted that – just keepin’ it real here, friends!) We giggle and then proceed to slurp down our coffee {I didn’t say the world would be a better-mannered place!) Truth is, I think we all struggle with those who are different from us. Maybe it’s politics (as we can all attest to), our beliefs, questioning whether or not a believer should drink a glass of wine, or get tatted. The list goes on. This is where knowing the Word for ourselves (instead of believing hand-me-down beliefs) cultivates a life that’s willing to release others to be different and into His loving care. Perhaps this comes in the form of refusing to gossip or tear down the person. Or inviting him/her over for a warm dinner. Or it could be as simple as offering a warm hug or a kind word — or no words at all.
  • Re-gifting grace happens when we offer grace to ourselves first and foremost. The old adage rings true – we can’t give away what we ourselves do not possess. In Christ, we can rest in God’s unmerited favor whether we feel like or not. In fact, it’s when we least feel like resting in His love that we need it the most. The enemy reminds us of past choices, forgiven-but-former sins, and anything else he believes will mar the beauty of God-given grace. Our ability to both receive and rest in it proves the enemy wrong every single time. Every.Single.Time.

Let’s give re-gifting another try this year! I don’t know about you but focusing on eternally-produced gifts helps me to stay focused on the Gift HImself, Jesus Christ. Our Messiah, deliverer, healer, grace-giver, mercy-laden Savior. Thank You, Jesus.

What’s one way you can extend grace to another person this Christmas?

 

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The Day Macaroni Art Jesus Became A Reality {An Ode to VBS}

blogpoetrypromisesI remember the day Jesus was no longer just pasta art glued onto a ripple-edged paper plate at Vacation Bible School.

I was a single mom with two little boys in a duplex that sat just outside the city limits. Poor Sinful choices I’d made landed us there. I knew it, I confessed it, and asked the Man I’d heard about in VBS all those years ago for forgiveness.

{I’ve read in recent years how many consider today’s VBS to be a glorified babysitting service. So be it. I thank God for the Aunt Shirley’s (especially mine!) of the world who faithfully drive a carload of children to a local church with the full intention of them hearing and learning about Jesus. And I thank God for people like Mrs. Nanny at Oak Grove Baptist Church, who faithfully share their most precious commodity (time) with little people who don’t know how to say thank you for their sacrifice. That is, until they grow up and have a blog of their own.}

blogjesusmacaroni

My plate art wasn’t nearly as nice as Society 6’s. (Great site!)

At this point you might be wondering what my story has to do with God’s promises. Well, it all comes down to Jesus. It always does.

Jesus’ resurrection fulfilled the Scriptures and the promises of God.

“We bring you the good news that what God promised to the fathers, this he has fulfilled to us their children by raising Jesus.” Acts 13:32,33

“For no matter how many promises God has made, they are “Yes” in Christ. And so through him the “Amen” is spoken by us to the glory of God.”  – 2 Corinthians 1:20

What good is a promise if it can’t be fulfilled? What a joy it is to serve the One who did fulfill every promise that was, is, and will be in the future!

Here’s the thing.

If I’d not been introduced to Jesus in VBS I might not have recognized Him, or my desperate need for him, later in life. My perception of Him might have remained a pasta product on a paper plate. But because I knew Who to turn to, everything changed that night in my duplex on the outskirts of town. Jesus became a reality. My promise keeper. My Savior.

Thank you for joining me on this journey through God’s promises. Do you have a favorite promise? I’d love for you to share it in the comment section. We never know how our words might encourage other readers.

Week 1: When Poetry and Promises Mingle
Week 2: Seeing God in Action On An Ordinary Day
Week 3: A Promise in the Night {For When You Have Trouble Sleeping}

blogarrowsdividerThe next time you receive a post from me, you’ll notice some exciting changes! Stay tuned. 🙂

Now is the perfect time to sign up in the purple sidebar box to receive my posts hot off the press. And if you like what you read in today’s post, feel free to share it via the Media buttons below. To God be the glory!

 

The beautiful artwork used for my Poetry and Promises graphic is courtesy of Ann Marie Bone. Please visit her Facebook fan page to connect with her and to see more of her amazing work.Thank you so much, Ann.

A Promise In the Night {For When You Have Trouble Sleeping}

Poetry and PromisesIt was the night before my surgery and to say I had trouble sleeping would be quite the understatement. Leaping sheep battled it out with a host of what if’s attempting to keep me awake. But we know only one thing wields the weapon of choice against every what if that comes against us: God’s Word.

In that moment, it was Psalm 121:4.

“…indeed, he who watches over Israel will neither sleep nor slumber.”

We can sleep because our God never does.

While we sleep He continues to:

Work all things out for our good and His ultimate glory. (Romans 8:28) Do wondrous things {because He is great!} (Psalm 86:10)
Supply your every need. (Philippians 4:19)
Carry out the good work He began in you to its completion. (Philippians 1:6)
Fulfill every promise made to His children. And the list goes on.

Psalm 121:4 God never sleeps nor slumbersNotice the verbs. God is at work, on guard at all times. He never tires. He never takes a coffee break, and He never steps away to dote on a favorite child. He is with us at all times even when we don’t feel it.

When I memorized Psalm 121:4 years ago I did so to share with a friend who was going through a dark time. Now that same truth was bringing me comfort as I repeated it over and over, gaining confidence with every repeat that God was in control. And in the hush that followed, I “heard” the words Now go to sleep my child. And I did, without one worry or one what if in sight.

So, what keeps you up at night? Here’s the thing about worry. It’s an insidious creature. It can disguise itself in the form of trying to think through the following day, its demands, and how this or that {good thing!} could be accomplished. Or, what needs to be added to the grocery list, or maybe how a particular venture could be financially advantageous, or what the kids will wear to school tomorrow. None of these things are bad. In fact, it would behoove {I love this word!} us all to consider these things at some point in our day but I’m finding in my own life that it’s the thoughts attempting to battle the sheep for my sleep’s attention that are the very things I may not be fully releasing to the Lord.

Yet another reminder that there’s only one Shepherd who can bring true rest to our sheep-like souls.

In closing, I’d like to share a true story that illustrates this psalm beautifully.

Back in the days of WWII, the Germans were bombing London all night, every night. After one terrible attack, the people of London began to search through the rubble looking for the dead and the injured. After a while, all been accounted for but one old grandmother, a Mrs. Smith. They searched everywhere for her and finally, someone found her in her bedroom, asleep in her bed. They were shocked and asked her, “Mrs. Smith, how you could sleep with those bombs dropping all around?” She said, “Well the Bible says that ‘He who keeps Israel never slumbers nor sleeps.’ I decided there was no use in both of us staying up, so I just went to sleep and left it in the Lord’s hands.”

When you read the (partial) list above of the truths God is accomplishing while you sleep, is there one that stood out above the rest for you? If so, I’d love for you to share it in the comment section below. Thank you for stopping by!

 

The beautiful artwork used for my Poetry and Promises graphic is courtesy of Ann Marie Bone. Please visit her Facebook fan page to connect with her and to see more of her amazing work.Thank you so much, Ann.


When Poetry and Promises Mingle

Poetry and Promises

Nothing mingles quite like poetry and promises. We see how beautifully they marry in the Bible, especially throughout the book of Psalms, which consists of 150 lyric poems. But Psalms also has a treasure hold on God’s promises.

During the month of April we’ll weave our way through this lyrical, non-rhyming, and foundational book, allowing its poetry and promises to encourage us…so that we might encourage others.

He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. Psalm 23:2

Psalm 23 holds a special place in my life. In the weeks prior to my uncle’s death (he was in his early 50’s) I would drive over and spend my mornings with him a few times each week. In addition to the cancer invading his body he was also blind. It was for this reason he always enjoyed it when I read to him. He loved passages on heaven but often requested his favorite psalm, Psalm 23. By the time I reached the sixth verse, I could hear his breathing shifting to a slower pace. The peace surrounding him was almost palpable.

 

God’s promises are powerful to the living, but they are a life preserver to the dying.

 

Phillip Keller’s A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23 is a tremendous resource in learning more about the relationship between sheep (us) and the shepherd (Jesus). One of my favorite insights from his book is when he points out that sheep are the most useless, and dare I say, stupid animals. {Ouch!} He also shared how it’s almost impossible to get sheep to lie down and rest. Most refuse unless four requirements are met:

  1. They must sense a freedom from fear.
  2. They must sense freedom from tension with other sheep.
  3. They must sense freedom from aggravation from flies and.or parasites.
  4. They must sense freedom from hunger.

I don’t know about you but I see a lot of myself in the above four requirements. Countless hours of rest have been deprived over fears I’ve struggled with for years, or tension between myself and another person, or just the nit picky things that aggravate the fool out of me. Hunger? Never! {I wish.}

Psalm 23Whatever keeps you up at night or steals your God-given right to rest in the middle of the day is yet another reminder that we need a Shepherd, a good Shepherd.

“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.” John 10:11

I recently struggled with some emotions that I knew were not God-glorifying. I pushed them down below the next item on my to-do list and continued on, knowing I’d have to deal with them at some point. The emotions, and the thoughts that go with them, continued to distract me for days. I finally made my way up the stairs with my Bible in hand and had a “come to Jesus” meeting right there in the window overlooking the city. I feel sure that some passersby thought I was talking to a ghost. Silly people. I was talking with my Father.

Immediately following, my soul experienced a rest it had not enjoyed for days. My Shepherd forgave me, revealed truth to me, and comforted me. The city pace below us was hectic but my soul was at rest beside the still waters of grace in His presence.

The gift of poetry and His promises assured my uncle that his true rest was right around the corner, his joy, just a breath away. And isn’t this true for us all?

What is your favorite verse in Psalm 23, and why? Please share in the comment section below. Blessings to you!

The beautiful artwork used for my Poetry and Promises graphic is courtesy of Ann Marie Bone. Please visit her Facebook fan page to connect with her and to see more of her amazing work. Thank you so much, Ann.

One Simple But Meaningful Gift for Singles this Valentine’s Day

by Cathy Baker @cathysbaker

I’ve been thinking a lot about Hagar lately.

Remember in Genesis 16 when she fled from Sarai? She felt abandoned and probably forgotten by God. She must have felt as if no one saw her, or cared about her, or the baby she was carrying.

This Valentine’s Day, many of you will find your love life to be much like a box of chocolates⎯satisfying, sweet, ooey-gooey on the inside…all yours to enjoy.

For others, it might instead be a day of remembering what was lost, or what could have been. It could be a day when you relate more to Hagar than you ever thought possible.

I remember reading the story of Hagar (Genesis 16) in my early 30’s as a relatively new believer. I wept when I read verse 13. It had only been a handful of years since I was a single mom struggling with similar emotions. But God {game changer} rescued me, and as a result, I could say for the first time, as did Hagar, I have now seen the One who sees me.

It’s because of those single days that my heart goes out to you who may not hear your name called when flowers are delivered to your workplace, or handed your very own box of chocolates to enjoy.

This year, while strolling {okay, stalking} the $1.00 aisle at Target, glass jars with sparkly hearts spoke to me. I didn’t exactly know what I would do with them, but that didn’t stop me from buying several.

After a little thought and prayer, I decided to make a jar filled with seven slips of paper, each with a different promise from God. Seven, because it’s the biblical number for completion. In Christ, we find our completeness⎯not in another person, our children, our homes or anything else. His promises from the Word are active and alive, able to lift the heaviest of hearts.

 

A Gift of God’s Promises

 

 

 

{This is the jar I found at Target but you can use any container.}

{At first I felt a little guilty for not handwriting the promises but then I was reminded that it’s not my hand that holds the power, but His. Click here for a printable copy of the seven promises I’m using.}

 

{I also found these tags in the $1.00 bin at Target.}
 

{On each tag, I’ll write a brief note describing why seven promises were chosen. I’ll also share how much they are loved, especially by their heavenly Father.}

And the best, most precious gift we can to give anyone is prayer. As I head to their home or to the post office to deliver the gifts, I will pray for each of them by name.

 

She [Hagar] gave this name to the LORD who spoke to her: “You are the God who sees me,” for she said, “I have now seen the One who sees me.” Genesis 16:13

Has God placed a Hagar in your life? We have a week to consider how we can love others, single or not, around us this Valentines Day.  

What is one of God’s promises that you would include in the above gift? Please share! 
If you missed Saturday’s post, Edie Melson: A Glimpse Into Her Quiet Time, click here to read it. Be blessed!

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