Whose Kingdom Are You Building?

““The world is full of so-called prayer warriors who are prayer-ignorant. They’re full of formulas and programs and advice, peddling techniques for getting what you want from God. Don’t fall for that nonsense. This is your Father you are dealing with, and he knows better than you what you need. With a God like this loving you, you can pray very simply. Like this:

“Our Father in heaven, Reveal who you are. Set the world right; Do what’s best— as above, so below. Keep us alive with three square meals. Keep us forgiven with you and forgiving others. Keep us safe from ourselves and the Devil. You’re in charge! You can do anything you want! You’re ablaze in beauty! Yes. Yes. Yes.”Matthew 6:7-13 MSG

I have to admit; this translation is very different sounding than the one I memorized as an elementary school child! On the other hand, it states its intent very succinctly and clear. We who have chosen a life in Christ are sons and daughters of the Most High God. To function as He created us to function, we need the revelation of Who He is, His true character and who He says we are. We need to understand His power and vast ability; His just nature; His restraint; His mercy on us-His grace. His Kingdom is perfect – no pain; no suffering; order-no chaos; no death. We are instructed to pray for His Kingdom to come to earth as it is above which brings me to today’s blog title: “Whose Kingdom Are You Building?”

These words came to me this morning while listening to the last session of the 2017 Passion Conference. You see I’d been struggling with some questions both personal and some that were not about me at all. Yesterday, I had listed them during my quiet time asking God for answers, and during the last speaker’s message today, I began to realize a few things.

  • I have peace in the midst of the questions with which I am wrestling.
  • Do those struggles mean I’m out of sync with God? Not necessarily!
  • I realized I couldn’t experience that peace if I were out-of-order or not at peace with God.
  • Struggles are part of life, but not necessarily an indication your outside God’s will. Maybe He’s revealing something new or fresh; no it doesn’t necessarily have to pertain directly to you. But you may find it helpful in dealing with your struggles

This lead up to the poignant question: “whose Kingdom are you building?” We all have hopes, dreams, goals. That is a great thing! God also has goals and plans for us. (Jeremiah 29:11, plans for a hope and a good future.) But whose Kingdom are we building? Please hear my heart, this isn’t a judgment for I am asking myself these questions as much as anyone. If we are indeed sons and daughters of God, how much time do we actually spend praying this sincere and powerful prayer or thinking about the fact there is a higher existence; a greater kingdom? I realized that a lot of my thought life lately had been focused on the questions I was struggling with when I should have prayed more and reasoned less. The reasoning doesn’t accomplish much! Prayer is powerful, and it moves the heart of God! All the logic in the world cannot achieve change or a difference BUT the moment I laid my questions out before God asking for His help; His perspective and positioned myself to hear; He sent an answer to an even greater question through a simple yet powerful question, also bringing several scriptures to my mind. One was the Lord’s Prayer. Another was Seek first His Kingdom, and all these things will be added to you. (Matthew 6:33) Also, “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.” (James 1:5) ““This is GOD ’s Message, the God who made earth, made it livable and lasting, known everywhere as GOD: ‘Call to me and I will answer you. I’ll tell you marvelous and wondrous things that you could never figure out on your own.’” Jeremiah 33:2-3 MSG

These are but a few of the promises we can rely on when we have times of struggles, questions or problems! They all came about because of a simple prayer, crying out for wisdom and understanding, and patiently waiting for His answer in His timing when it would have the most profound effect in my current walk with Him. It was the result of seeking His Kingdom first rather than reacting on impulse or assumption in a situation. You see, I didn’t understand why a situation was happening over and over. The answer was all about whose kingdom was being built.

Tags: Questions, Struggles, Answers, Promises, Kingdom Building

Categories: Prayer, promises, Perspective

BitterSweet

It’s good to sit down to write again. Life has been quite busy and full of surprises both good and challenging. This year has been lightening fast, and it is hard to believe November is here. November is a bittersweet month around our house. We love Thanksgiving and all the traditions, celebrations, and family times. At the same time, it is a time we remember some dear family members who graduated to their heavenly home; many whose home-going was during the month of November. November is also the month my husband and I have the pleasure of celebrating our anniversary.

I remember as a little tot; it was November when I attended the funeral of my Grand-daddy and my Great-grandmother. I’m not sure why the time of year stands out in my memory. Many years later, we also buried my husband’s beloved brother in November 1985; followed by my Mom and Dad in 1996 and 2003 respectively.

Today it has been twenty years to date since my Mom took her heavenly voyage way to young! (Just a few years older than me) As you might imagine, I have been reminiscing a bit as the day has approached. I have remembered special times and fond memories, thinking how much she would have enjoyed her seven great-grandchildren and looked forward to the new little one soon to be born.

Today also marks another special day in November; another reason to be thankful for all the Lord has done in our lives. It marks the end of a season, a labor of love that has resulted in the birth of a dream. Conceived in childhood, implanted in 2014; finally a reality today.

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Now available at Amazon.com or  https://www.createspace.com/6544403. I can’t help but wonder just what my Mom and Dad would think…

By God’s unfathomable grace, I am able to hold tight to Him and His grace to face all that November brings into my life; both good and challenging! Every single month for that matter. Life is full of wonderful and wonder-filled moments and it is important to remember each one! It is also filled with many challenging times when we must hold on to our faith, His grace and all that is good in our lives just to take our next breath! His grace is sufficient for every situation!

Be Blessed and may His grace and peace fill your days!

Waves of Majesty

This isn’t new, but is original to me. Remembering that peaceful fall l day at the beach almost three years ago.

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Waves of Majesty

Gazing on the Splendor You have placed before me.
Captured by the churning power, my eyes delight.
How can one doubt Your existence?
Your Presence weighs heavy.

You have set the boundaries on this forceful body.
You alone coax these waters…
Waves leaping, waters dancing,
Your breath stirs them, and they respond joyfully!

Each creature within its depths there at Your request,
By Your design and desire.
How amazing Lord is Your creation.
How awesome are You, it’s Creator!

A glimpse of the power amassing before me;
A mere foreshadowing of Your true greatness.
An exhibition of Your magnificence,
Only a tiny example of Your Power, Your Might!

You surround us with Your beauty and favor.
Entice us with Your majesty and goodness.
Bidding us come, quiet ourselves,
Be lavished by Your Presence.

Will we be persuaded?
Heed Your soft, persistent call?
Wisdom to seek Your refuge;
And joy, peace and love behold.

Adonna Smith

 

Trusting God

Today, actually yesterday now, has been a gloriously challenging day! Why? My husband and I had to say goodbye to our furry friend of almost fifteen years from 444 miles away. Now as the day has closed and I prepare to close my eyes, I find my mind running at warp speed as my body begs for rest.
I find myself tracing God’s hand through our experience and realizing now more than ever that when I can not understand the reason things happen the way they do that God is still in control, and He always works things out for our good and His glory. I also find myself wondering why this lesson is one that it seems to keep coming back around.
Just a brief backstory, Cinnamon (our Pomeranian) came to live with us as a wee puppy in September 2001. She was quite precocious and lovable at the same time! Eighteen months later, a quieter more sedate Abby joined our family and Cinnamon adopted her as her baby. This past fall we had to limit Cinnamon’s use of our deck and stairs due to failing eyesight. Being a creature of habit, she, however, decided to sneak away and go up the stairs. She misstepped which resulted in a very long fall for such a small dog. We were surprised and pleased when she recovered as well as she did.
Fast forward to a couple of months ago. We were invited to participate in a powerful leadership conference along with a group from our church. As we began to make plans to attend, Cinnamon’s health deteriorated. The vet exam determined she had an infection, but her heart was strong, and she had a lot of life in her. Again, she seemed to rally. We knew she would need more personal care than a kennel would be able to give if we were to go out of town for the conference; so we prayed “Lord if you want us to go, help make provision for Cinnamon’s special care needs.” If He opened a door, we’d go; if not we would go another time.  He opened a door, and we knew she and Abby would receive wonderful care.
Yesterday (Thursday) the conference began and back home, Cinnamon began a battle for every breath. Our sweet friend called about an hour before it began telling us Cinnamon had taken a turn for the worse during the night. She compassionately took care of Cinnamon for us for the next three hours. Sadly, we have to say goodbye to our long-time companion.  We find peace from knowing our friends were lovingly caring for her. Even so, I wonder about the timing and wish we had been there for Cinnamon; not that it would have changed the outcome. In fact, God in His wisdom may very well have orchestrated the timing. Perhaps it was to help ease the blow of the loss a beloved pet or to teach us to be gracious and accept the help of others to carry our burdens. Is it possible it is just life, and it was not part of His plan? I suppose that is possible as well.
Whatever the case, I am reminded that God is faithful, and He is good even when circumstances would challenge that in our human understanding! He redeems our lives and our circumstances when we allow Him to. There will be no more questioning or blame here. If or when regret at not being there tries to creep in, I will rest in Him and not in my understanding. I resolve to trust Him and His timing beyond my understanding and in knowing this, I will find peace as my heart grieves. I will choose to remember that He is faithful and He is my peace and my joy even in the midst of troubling or hard circumstances.  His grace is always sufficient!!

May you also find in Him grace, peace, and joy! Blessings to you this day!

Why Struggles?

     Over the past few days, I have been looking back at life. You see, my husband and I have been asked to be a part of a relationship conference this next weekend. It will consist of a brief testimony from five couples about marriage and then will be followed by a “rapid fire” question and answer period. The groups will be divided into unmarried, married under ten years, married over ten years. Then all the groups will reunite for an overview and more q&a.  We are blessed to have four couples with over 35 years experience participating!

     I have to say the secret to our longevity in marriage is most likely tenacity. That put plainly; stubbornness.  We are both stubborn people and come from stubborn people. We also started our marriage out with the mindset that this is forever. By beginning from the faith perspective and from a Biblical world view, that means our perspective was to make it work; fix what was broken.  Have we ever felt like quitting? Yes. Thankfully, when one was discouraged the other usually picked up the slack and we muddled our way through by prayer, God’s help and sometimes sheer determination. Has it always been easy? Not at all!  We really were just babies starting out; though we’d never admit it then.  I remember one couple in their sixties who were friends with our parents declaring, “they will never make it! It’s puppy love and they are too young to get married.” I wonder what they’d say today…

     I spent some time this weekend looking back at the things we have been through together.  I was amazed to see how quickly the challenges began in our marriage and how those struggles were clustered together; back to back, and sometimes year after year. Many were heavy duty challenges, not just the typical adjusting to life together or financial issues.  Those can be difficult enough. We experienced a number of deaths of loved ones close in succession; some following long term illness and some sudden.  It was  a little shocking to look back.  It was also pretty gratifiing at the same time seeing all that we have come through and how it changed each of us; how we grew through those times.

     The thing is, often it is those very struggles in life that cause us to grow, mature and strengthen.  They push us to do something other than just get by.  They force us to look for answers, to seek wisdom.  Hopefully they lead us to seek out God; His wisdom and understanding; and godly answers.  Even when that is not the case, we are able to learn what not to do the next time and what does not work.  As we grow and mature through these times, it puts us in the perfect place to help others who go through similar situations.

     “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.  For as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too.” 2 Corinthians 1:3-5 ESV  

     I could’t help but feel a little overwhelmed and amazed as I glanced the highlights of the years.  Just the major events, both the good ones and the hard ones.  Would we have ever signed up for this if we’d known what was coming?  I really don’t know. I would hope so!  I have to say as good as the good has been and as hard as the hard has been; I wouldn’t change a thing! There are times we each wish we had done better or differently but the truth is it has all worked together for good to get both of us were we are today.  We are better for those struggles because they have changed us. They have stretched and matured us.  Fears are fewer; faith is stronger. Best of all, our Heavenly Father is so very real and present in our lives.  He is the true reason that we are here today!  If our stories can help others coming along behind us, all the better.

Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession.  For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.  Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” Hebrews 4:14-16

     By His mercy and grace, we have and continue to hold fast in both our faith and in our marriage.  Love deepens with both the good times and the struggles we face when our hearts are set on Him! He is the unifier and the glue that holds this relationship together on the sunny days and on the stormy seas.

 “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine.  When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you. For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.” Isaiah 43:1b-3a ESV

May God’s mercy, grace and peace surround you this day!

 

Welcoming 2016!

The last day of 2015 has been an interesting and challenging day. I’ve had the opportunity to be in God’s Word several times. Challenged by Proverbs 31 and Philemon as I drove to lunch and my husband read his portion for today. Both were inspiring and Proverbs 31 is always challenging.

Next, I had the opportunity to watch the first lesson of Beth Moore’s Inheritance Bible Study; a great reminder of who we are in Christ and that In Him we are sons (daughters) of God and co-heirs with Christ. Also, that as co-heirs we share equally with Jesus in His inheritance of the first born Son and not just the leftovers! In fact, she challenged us to allow our life to be a “wild ride”followed up by:  “it can’t be a wild ride if you are in the drivers seat”. ( A challenge to let go of control issues and allow God to be in the drivers seat of our life.)

Next came our New Year’s Eve service with great music and another challenging message to ponder from Daniel. Challenging us to begin this year with fasting and prayer like Daniel did during his three year training period under the King of Babylon. Because of his faith and commitment to keep to the tenants of his beliefs and to the dietary guidelines, Daniel and his friends rose in favor with the king. When all the ‘wisemen’ could not interpret the kings dream, Daniel asked for a reprieve from their death sentence; he prayed and that night received both the dream and the interpretation from God. Because of this lives were saved!

Finally, I was able to have a quiet celebration at home with my beloved. As I ponder the events of the day and getting ready to say goodnight, my mind is still whirling! Today we begin a new year full of possibilities and opportunities. We don’t know what it will bring, but as for me, I plan to hand the wheel over to my Heavenly Father, my Savior and the Holy Spirit. Enough of trying to control things that are out of my hands, none of my business and outside my expertise. Does that mean I am going to be passive? Absolutely not! But let’s look at some scripture…

Romans 8:5-8 Those who think they can do it on their own end up obsessed with measuring their own moral muscle but never get around to exercising it in real life. Those who trust God’s action in them find that God’s Spirit is in them—living and breathing God! Obsession with self in these matters is a dead end; attention to God leads us out into the open, into a spacious, free life. Focusing on the self is the opposite of focusing on God. Anyone completely absorbed in self ignores God, ends up thinking more about self than God. That person ignores who God is and what He is doing. And God isn’t pleased at being ignored.           9-11 But if God himself has taken up residence in your life, you can hardly be thinking more of yourself than of Him. Anyone, of course, who has not welcomed this invisible but clearly present God, the Spirit of Christ, won’t know what we’re talking about. But for you who welcome Him, in whom He dwells—even though you still experience all the limitations of sin—you yourself experience life on God’s terms. It stands to reason, doesn’t it, that if the alive-and-present God who raised Jesus from the dead moves into your life, He’ll do the same thing in you that He did in Jesus, bringing you alive to Himself? When God lives and breathes in you (and He does, as surely as He did in Jesus), you are delivered from that dead life. With His Spirit living in you, your body will be as alive as Christ’s!                                                                                                                       12-14 So don’t you see that we don’t owe this old do-it-yourself life one red cent. There’s nothing in it for us, nothing at all. The best thing to do is give it a decent burial and get on with your new life. God’s Spirit beckons. There are things to do and places to go!                                                                                              15-17 This resurrection life you received from God is not a timid, grave-tending life. It’s adventurously expectant, greeting God with a childlike “What’s next, Papa?”  God’s Spirit touches our spirits and confirms who we really are. We know who He is, and we know who we are: Father and children. And we know we are going to get what’s coming to us—an unbelievable inheritance! We go through exactly what Christ goes through. If we go through the hard times with Him, then we’re certainly going to go through the good times with Him!  -Message Translation (emphasis mine)

Wow, this gets my heart pumping! My prayer for 2016 is to let go of the past, forgive others and myself and start fresh with a clean slate. I pray I’ll have the courage and strength to depend less on myself and my own understanding but go deeper in my trust that God has a better plan for me and it is a good plan. Lord, help me take my hands off the stirring wheel of my life and let you take me on the ride of my life; trusting you every step of the way!

Like most people, I pray that a better year is here and that the struggles of the last few years do not follow us into this new one; acknowledging that our God can do exceedingly, abundantly, above and beyond anything we can ask or imagine according to His power that is at work in us! Because of this promise, no matter what this year holds, we can find our way through as long as we seek Him and trust Him to work things out with our cooperation. My prayer is that no matter what this year holds, in the end we can declare boldly that this was my best year ever! May His Grace and Peace surround us and the Fruit of the Spirit be abundant in each of our lives as we seek to trust God completely each step of this year! In the mighty and powerful name of Jesus Christ, Amen!!

Happy New Year!!

 

Courage to Expand Our Thinking

Good morning friends!

This morning my scripture reading was Isaiah 41 and last night Job 38. This morning as I pondered the passage in Isaiah and thought of it in context of Job 38’s questions that God posed to Job; my mind kicked into high gear. Both of these passages are great examples of the absolute greatness of our God. We as humans tend to place God in a box with limits on what He can do or what He will do. Many see Him a a harsh Heavenly Father either because that’s their impression from the Old Testament or because of a less than positive experience with their earthly Father. Others tend to see only the merciful and grace filled Heavenly Father. Yet others believe in Him but do not think He is actively involved in out day to day lives but see Him as a distant observer.

There are as many differing ideas of God as there are people who walk this earth! As human beings, some deny Him all together; and those who believe in God tend to limit their belief based with their own experiences with Him or what they have witnessed in the lives of others to whom they are close to. Yet and still we are human and most of us have a preconceived idea of God; if you will a nice tidy box that we relegate Him to in our lives. Whether it is as simple as not bothering God with the small stuff with which we struggle or perhaps being focused on our circumstances or world events to the point of being overwhelmed into believing He can’t or won’t help; God is bigger than the box we try to put Him into!

Consider that many see God as angry and punishing in the Old Testament, but what about His graciousness and His great patience found there. Example: consider Abrahams inquiries to God about Sodom and Gomorrah Not only did he ask about relenting in His wrath once, but Abraham began with “Would you save the cities for 100 righteous men? 50? 25? And finally, 10? There are many examples of patience, grace, mercy and all God’s attributes found all throughout the Old Testament and the New. So today, I am challenging myself and you, if your game, to spending this Christmas season and 2016 considering what kind of box you may have placed God into? Isaiah 41 and Job 38 is a great place to ponder His greatness. What is His true characteristics? What does He think about us? What is the true depth of His love for us? His forgiveness? I submit to you that He truly cares about His creation, His children. Yes, even the small stuff. He sees every smile and every single tear. May we be able to say with great confidence in 2016 that there are no words to completely describe our God and continue to expand our thinking to a greater understanding of Him in this New Year and every year to come! Our God is limitless!

“Now to Him who is able to do above and beyond all that we ask or think according to the power that works in us — to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.””

‭‭Ephesians‬ ‭3:8, 20-21‬ ‭HCSB‬‬

 

Grace and Peace to you!!

 

 

 

Courage to Keep Watch

       It is easy to get caught up in our lives and our circumstances.  The faster our lives seem to go and the busier we get; it becomes almost impossible not to be so caught up in the here and now. The more we get caught up in the here and now, the easier it becomes to lose track of the important because the urgent immediate creeps in to take over and manipulate how our time is spent. Next thing we know, the tyranny of urgent has hi-jacked the majority of our time. We become exhausted and when we have a few minutes we crave a release often in the form of mindless entertainment just so we can relax. Ok, maybe this doesn’t describe you but it has described me at times. The pressure sometimes just seems too much and I need a time out; a pressure release valve; some chill time just to rest and that is ok. Child of God we were created by God in His master plan to need rest.(the need for rest, that is) That is why He created the Sabbath. It was created for us, not us for the Sabbath. We need to rest! We also need for find our rest in Him.

       During December 2013, I began to seek God for a verse for the upcoming year. It had been a busy and tiring year and I was looking forward to what the new year might hold and hoping for a change of pace. Maybe time would slow down a bit and there would be more time enjoy life. As December came to a close, my attention was drawn to Habakkuk, chapter 2, verse 1:

        “I will stand at my watch post; I will remain stationed on the city wall. I will keep watching, so I can see what he says to me and can know how I should answer when he counters my argument.”

     I sensed this was the verse that the Lord had chosen for me and so it became part of my morning routine. Did I truly understand what it meant, not at all. I know a watchman is one who is posted as a guard to watch and warn if an enemy approaches the camp or comes against a walled city in this case. They are to be alert and well-informed about the events happening outside the community; especially those things that pose a threat.  Each morning before I prayed I would write this verse out as a reminder to keep watch. Keep alert. It was my reminder to keep awake and informed about what was going on outside my “little” world and to also dig into the Word for deeper understanding.  It only took going beyond that first verse to get a bit of understanding. Let’s look at the next section of that chapter.   

        The Lord answered me: Write down this vision; clearly inscribe it on tablets so one may easily read it. For the vision is yet for the appointed time; it testifies about the end and will not lie. Though it delays, wait for it, since it will certainly come and not be late. Look, his ego is inflated; he is without integrity. But the righteous one will live by his faith. Moreover, wine betrays; an arrogant man is never at rest. He enlarges his appetite like Sheol, and like Death he is never satisfied. He gathers all the nations to himself; he collects all the peoples for himself. (Habakkuk 2:2-5 HCSB) 

     Habakkuk was a prophet. He was to station himself in a position to hear from God and proclaim God’s messages to the people. A Watchman on the wall.  Often times the prophets were presenting warning to God’s people. In Habakkuk’s case, his assignment was to write God’s vision; trust God’s word; and to speak His judgement. Interestingly, many prophecies have not only an immediate purpose but also a secondary applications to be revealed in the later days and times. This one clearly says it is yet for an appointed time. Is it possible that it is speaking to people living today? Maybe. More and more I am seeing references to the last days and not just in Christian circles. Is it possible we are living in those days as I type? Absolutely it is possible because with God all things are possible. Is it likely? Only He knows for sure how close it may be!  I can also tell you that Jesus tell us to keep watch and to know the signs of the time of His coming. We are also told that as in the days of Noah, people will continue eating and drinking; they will be so engaged in their day-to-day lives that when that day comes they will not recognize it until it had passed. Jesus also says no man, only the Father knows the day and time of Jesus’ return yet He clearly outlines the signs leading up to that day. I would advise you to be very cautions of anyone who sets dates, however we can know what to watch out for.  We can be diligent in our watchfulness, our preparation and how we live out our lives each day. We can know how to ready our hearts and live our lives so that we are not caught off guard and ill-prepared should His return be closer that we think. 

     Habakkuk 2 continues and talks about five woes to avoid in our behavior.  Isaiah chapter 5 also is a good list of things God would have us avoid in our lives; mistakes that Israel made that sent them in captivity and things we see all around us even today. (covetousness, drunkenness, deception, carelessness, injustice, pride; good being call evil and evil being considered good)  If you’re looking for signs of the time in which Jesus will come back, a great jumping off place is Matthew 24. In His own words He tells you what those days will look like.  He continues in chapter 25 as he speaks of those prepared when the bridegroom arrives and those who are not; of the faithful servants; the one caught wanting; and finally of how the world will be judged. Many fear reading and studying such scriptures as Revelation, Daniel, Ezekiel that speak of end days; others don’t believe they are true. Fear is from the enemy of your soul and further, it leaves us unaware and unprepared.  Beloved, we do ourselves a great favor by knowing the Word. God is the author of faith, not fear! When we know the Word, we can be prepared. We can judge ourselves and correct our course. We can be like the five bridesmaids that continued to watch, wait and never ran out of oil for their lamps rather than the five that were left outside of the banquet because they ran out of oil and weren’t waiting when the groom arrived.  

      My prayer is that we be watchful, prepared, and purposed to show others to be watchful and prepared because no man knows the time or hour of Christ’s return but we can all know the signs and the things which lead to the season of His return! Let us not be slumbering bridesmaids; let us be the fully awake and fully prepared Bride of Christ, eagerly awaiting the time of His arrival! Whether Jesus comes soon or whether He tarries we will be ready if we are informed and keep watch. Moreover, if we are His, there is nothing to fear and much to gain…  weeping may endure for a night, but JOY comes, and oh what JOY! 

May Grace, Peace and Joy be yours!

Grace Stoppers

   

 “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith, gentleness, self-control. Against such things there is no law.” (‭Galatians‬ ‭5‬:‭22-23‬ HCSB)

      For the last six weeks, a friend and I have been studying the fruit of the Spirit together. We began with an overview of the Book of Galatians and a few a couple of weeks began to study each of the listed fruit, one per week. This weeks fruit: Patience; oh yes,I heard those groans! If only I had a dollar for everyone who has ever told me “Don’t pray for patience; you’ll get it, but it won’t be fun or pretty in the meantime.”! I would be sitting somewhere warm on a sunny beach enjoying the roar of the ocean and the sun beating down on my face as I write instead of looking out at glistening trees, a cold but gentle wind blowing, and a misty rain gently watering them. Oh how I miss the warm sunshine! 

      Hopefully that provided a little recovery time from the shock of that much dreaded word, patience. We are learning through studying this particular fruit that there are two types of patience mentioned in the New Testament. One is patience through circumstances and the other is patience with people. Patience with people is the type of peace referred to in the fruit of the Spirit. Interestingly, though we are studying this fruit, we first tackled the patience with circumstances and learned that hope is the key to having patience when facing difficult situations; hope coming from the Greek word elpis, meaning hope-the desire of some good with the expectation of getting it. That’s pretty straight forward. As long as we have hope, we tend to be able to press through the less than enjoyable aspects that we sometimes face. Without hope, we find it much more challenging!

     The second patience, patience with people can get much more complex, especially in those closest relationships. Hope may be important in these relationships but perhaps mercy is even more important when we endeavor to grow in patience with the people in our circles of influence and with people in general. Mercy or compassion can be a powerful tool especially when it comes to having patience with people. 

      Just an example from my own life: many years ago, my husband and I were having breakfast in a local restaurant. A customer comes in and is seated across from out table. From the very beginning, nothing went right in her opinion and everyone within a ten table radius was aware. People were getting up and leaving be cause of the scene. We had a birds eye view and could not help but hear as things escalated.  This young waitress did not deserve the treatment she was receiving. As we continued to witness this spectacle, I pointed out to my husband that even if she was performing poorly it was no way to treat her. Maybe she broke up with her boyfriend/spouse, had a sick child, a family member sick or dying. We have no idea what people are dealing with in their lives! We went to the register to pay and Kevin gave me his keys. Then he addressed the manager and explained that we had observed everything and the server had done nothing to deserve what was happening. He then asked me to wait in the car (which I did though it was a hard request to follow).  He said he then said a quick prayer and with the same compassion and mercy I had expressed for the server; he approached this lady sitting with her two adult daughters.  He was very respectful and asked if he could join them for a moment. Then my sweet husband who looked about eighteen with his ‘baby face’, proceeded to ask her with great respect if she’d ever considered that the young server might be struggling with some kind of life trauma or tragedy or had spent the night up with a small child that was sick and sleepless? (We knew this one well as young parents ourselves!)  Kevin said her daughters looked so relived and this lady’s whole countenance changed. They all thanked him and he started out to the car. I met him at the door where the manager thanked him…it had been a while and I must admit I was a little concerned and I decided I needed to check on him.

     In the end, mercy, compassion and patience triumphs! We may not always see results right away and it is possible we may not see results at all. Nevertheless, it is a seed that is well worth sowing! (Lord, please give me the grace and wisdom to remember this life lesson!) Why?  Because even if it does not touch the person benefiting from it, others see. Even if it doesn’t touch the lives of observers, it changes us! It is a sure way to teach us to be more Christ-like by walking in the Spirit and exhibiting the fruit of the Spirit; an intentional though momentary choice to live beyond that moment, beyond our circumstances and beyond our own little world in a place where grace flows freely.

      Grace flows freely where love, joy peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith, gentleness and self-control abound.  Why Grace Stoppers then? There are also those things which clog and even stop the flow of grace. Let’s list just a few:

  • Hate, joylessness, discord, impatience, meanness, doubt, harshness, selfishness
  • Anger
  • Unforgiveness
  • Hopelessness 
  • Bitterness
  • Jealousy

Help us, oh Father God, to lay these down! Help us to walk by the Spirit, in the fruit of the Spirit 

and in the Mighty name of Jesus!



 Praying you are blessed with His grace, His peace and Fruit that remains!

 

 But what happens when we live God’s way? He brings gifts into our lives, much the same way that fruit appears in an orchard—things like affection for others, exuberance about life, serenity. We develop a willingness to stick with things, a sense of compassion in the heart, and a conviction that a basic holiness permeates things and people. We find ourselves involved in loyal commitments, not needing to force our way in life, able to marshal and direct our energies wisely. Legalism is helpless in bringing this about; it only gets in the way. Among those who belong to Christ, everything connected with getting our own way and mindlessly responding to what everyone else calls necessities is killed off for good—crucified.”(‭Galatians‬ ‭5‬:‭22-23‬ MSG)