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)

A Kingdom Revealed

     In Luke 19, Jesus told a parable. In this parable a nobleman Is preparing to go on a journey to a far off land, his purpose for the journey was to receive the authority to become king. Before leaving, this nobleman leaves a portion of his belongings to ten of his servants and instructs them to “engage in business” until His return. Later, the nobleman returns, now with the authority and title of King. When he returns, he goes to the ten servants and requires an accounting for how they have carried out his business in his absence. Basically. He asks each of them to explain what they have done in his absence to carry on his affairs. The first servant took the one mina and earned ten more.  The second servant who had one mina earned another five. Next a third servant came forward. These were his words accounting for the mina he’d been given, “Master, here is your mina. I have kept it hidden away in a cloth because I was afraid of you, for you’re a tough man: you collect what you didn’t deposit and reap what you didn’t sow.’ (‭Luke‬ ‭19‬:‭20-21‬ HCSB) 

     Let’s look at the king’s response to his servants faithfulness or productivity.

  • The first servant was rewarded for his faithfulness with what the nobleman had entrusted him with. He was put in charge of ten cities, one for each additional Mina he’d earned.
  • The second was rewarded by being placed in charge of five cities, again a city for each additional mina.
  • Lastly, the third servant, who had buried the mina given him rather than be obedient to his master and carry out business until the master returned gave his account and produced the original mina for the king. The king took what was given to this servant and gave it to the first servant.

         As I pondered this for a while, my thoughts took me to another scenario found in my S.O.A.P. reading for today. It was the fourth chapter of Esther. At this point in Esther’s story, she is Queen. It’s been thirty days since her husband, the king, had summoned her. Her uncle sends word to her that an edict has been pronounced against her people, the Jewish people, and their destruction is near. Esther sent word that it is unlawful for her to go before the king without being summoned and this is her uncles reply, “Don’t think that you will escape the fate of all the Jews because you are in the king’s palace. If you keep silent at this time, liberation and deliverance will come to the Jewish people from another place, but you and your father’s house will be destroyed. Who knows, perhaps you have come to your royal position for such a time as this.” (‭Esther‬ ‭4‬:‭13-14‬ HCSB)   Why was Mordecai so convinced that liberation and deliverance would come when all seemed hopeless? Perhaps it was because he knew that God had promised and foretold through the prophets that the Messiah, the Savior would come through the Jewish people through the lineage of David. At any rate, he was very confident that salvation and deliverance would come whether Esther stepped up to the challenge or not; but perhaps, just maybe…this was the very reason she had been chosen to be queen…for such a time as this. Esther prayed, fasted, and finally with the declaration, “if I perish, I perish!”, she took up the challenge. Because of her bravery and obedience, the people were allowed fight to protect themselves. 

      Your probably asking what one has to do with the other. I’m sure I would be if I weren’t already in my head! So let me try to connect the dots of my thoughts by starting with this: “Your eyes saw me when I was formless; all my days were written in Your book and planned before a single one of them began. (‭Psalms‬ ‭139‬:‭16‬ HCSB) Supposing this to be a true statement, because I believe the Bible to be the inspired Word of God, then we can say that God had a plan and a destiny for David, the author of the Psalm. Suppose that can also be said for Esther’s life, the nobleman’ life, Jesus’ life and for our own very lives.

    Esther left the safety of her chambers to step into her destiny. This nobleman left for his journey to fulfill his destiny to become king.   Jesus left heaven and came to earth as a baby to fulfill God’s Redemptive plan for mankind. Each carried out a specific plan and enlisted the help of others. Esther enlisted the help of her maid servants and her people; the nobleman enlisted the help of ten servants to carry on his business; and Jesus recruited His disciples and a band of followers. Each gave instructions to their recruits….

  • Esther- fast and pray for three days
  • The nobleman-engage in business until I return; build my business
  • Jesus- make disciples of all nations  (Matt. 28)-build His Kingdom

     

      In Esther’s case, we don’t know whether those praying were told the specifics of why or if they were just told to do it. With the nobleman, there is no indications that the servants were given a reason for their being given the Mina and being told to engage in business until his return. As Jesus commissioned His followers, no direct reason was given, yet in all three cases, the one in authority had specific reasons for their requirements of those they called.

  • Esther- to hear from God
  • The Nobleman-to find trust worthy leaders to place in positions of authority
  • Jesus- to spread the gospel, bring freedom, healing, and deliverance, and to build His Kingdom

     Will we always know the reasons behind what we are asked to do? No. Will there be times we question authority in our lives? Probably. How about times when we doubt someone’s motives, misjudge, and react with self-perseveration as the servant who lost what was given him? Quite possibly. Honestly, it makes me wonder at the things that I may have missed out on because of fear or mistrusting just because I did not have all the facts and information. Would that servant have responded differently if he’d have known the nobleman would be king and was looking for people to lead cities? Maybe the biggest question these events cause me to ask myself is do I have enough trust in God to walk this journey out whether I have all the questions answered? Will I keep following when fear threatens? When I have more questions than answers? Will I like the two wise servants, make my master proud of my faithfulness? Or will I be like the last and hide away that which He has given me, having nothing to show for it?  Am I willing to do my best like Esther with the attitude, “if I perish, I perish”?  

 Just some things to ponder…
 
May His grace and peace abound to you!
     
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

 

To Soar Like An Eagle

For some reason this morning, a treasured memory has flooded my mind and heart. Last April on the 23rd., Kevin and I were blessed to spend several hours with some great friends just before they returned to minister in Europe and in Israel. Our first stop was a quaint coffee shop with a great view of the Chattahoochee River. We purchased our coffee and made our way outside to enjoy the beautiful scenery from the bank of the river. As we chatted and caught up a bit on each other’s lives, something grabbed all our attention. Right in front of our eyes, up in a perfectly blue sky, soaring over the river right in front of us were five beautiful bald eagles circling around in front of us. After circling a few times they began to fly away. Kevin and I have been to this very spot a number of times, never have we seen even one eagle and this day there were five! It was an amazing sight to behold, sitting in quietness with special friends who we don’t get to see near enough, listening to the rushing of the waters and seeing that majestic sight. What a great way to start off our visit; what a great memory!

Eagles are Beautiful and interesting creatures. Here are just a few facts about them…

  • Eagles are powerful birds of prey.
  • They have hooked beaks and powerful talons to hunt prey.
  • There are over 60 species.
  • They build their nests on high cliffs or in tall trees. Bald eagle nests can weigh as much as a ton.
  • Some eagles hunt animals as large as a young deer.

Credit to:  Science kids.co.nz

  • They have very sharp eye sight, perhaps among the best of all other species.
  • Bald eagles are known for spectacular aerial shows.
  • Considered symbols of power, transcendence, and freedom.

Credit to: Onekind.org

  • Mate for life; Once pared together, bald eagles remain together until one of them dies. Life span-20-30 years
  • Most are approximately 3 feet long with wings spans of 6-7 feet and weigh 10 to 14 pounds.

Credit to:  defenders.org

Eagles are mentioned in scripture between 31 to 34 times depending on which translation you may be reading. Some scriptures compare God to a mighty eagle, others may refer to His enemy as an eagle. Perhaps one of the most quoted verses about eagles is Isaiah 41:30-31 “Youths may faint and grow weary,and young men stumble and fall, but those who trust in the Lord will renew their strength; they will soar on wings like eagles, they will run and not grow weary; they will walk and not faint.”

What a beautiful picture that paints for us! It is truly a beautiful sight to watch an eagle soar up high, whether it is one or five! Just think…His Word tells us that we can soar on wings like eagles when we trust in Him; when we wait upon Him. He promises to renew our strength, that we will soar; run and not grow weary; walk and not faint… What a promise! We exchange our worry and doubt for trusting God and the benefits are beyond most of our expectations! We can be refreshed, renewed, and we can soar above our circumstances just by trusting God with our lives and our circumstances.

This is my hope and prayer for us for 2015: to trust God more; make Isaiah 40:31 more of a reality in our lives; to dig deeper and go deeper with God; to leave our cares with Him and trust Him to even turn the tough things in life into something beautiful and that He will cause us to be able to soar!  Don’ s words from that afternoon, as best I remember were… “May you soar above any turbulent waters and may you be found standing on a rock in the middle of the river holding a cup to catch the blessings when the blessings are flowing all around.” What a blessing to speak over your friends, and may it be so for each of us as we enter this brand new year! May God take us to a place of deeper relationship and deeper trust.  May we both give and receive mercy and may we be overwhelmed by His grace and peace.