Week #22 Romans 8:28

Pause with me this Memorial weekend to remember those in our Military that have died sacrificially in service for our nation’s freedom and the protection of those in pursuit of freedom.  I’m personally very thankful for the bravery and sacrifice of our fallen Heroes and their precious loved ones left to carry forward their legacy.  May we never forget their sacrifice as we live lives with honor and integrity in the freedom we have been given.

Am I the only one challenged by the statement by Paul that “in all things” the Lord works for the good of his people?   Really, all things in my life from the crazy, hurtful, disobedient, lovely, confusing, and …… he uses them all for good?  When I run into word challenges within scripture like this weeks, all and good, it leads me to dig deeper.  I will either do a word study, looking into the original language or compare translations.  I decided that we will look at this verse in multiple Bible translations to make sure we don’t lose or miss any truth that Paul is passing on to us.  So take a moment and read through the following translations and make not of common phrases and truth that runs through and we will meet again on the other side.

New International Version

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”

King James Version

“And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.”

New Living Translation

“And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.”

New American Standard Bible

“And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.”

The Message

Verses 26-28 “Meanwhile, the moment we get tired in the waiting, God’s Spirit is right alongside helping us along.  If we don’t know how or what to pray, it doesn’t mater. He does our praying in and for us, making prayer out of our wordless sighs, our aching groans.  He knows us far better than we know ourselves, knows our pregnant condition, and keeps us present before God.  That is why we can be so sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good.”

Did you see it?  I think it is pretty evident that Paul truly meant “all things” in God’s hands will be worked out into good for those who love him.  Does that settle it in your mind?  Or are you still challenged?  Let’s dig a little deeper because we are looking at this concept of truth with the backdrop of what is happening in our own lives and this world.  Part of my backdrop today is the aftermath of the Manchester Terrorist attack on their precious children.  How does that work out for good?  I don’t know!  I don’t understand it!   But I do know that when I don’t know and I don’t know how or what to pray the Lord has provided his Spirit to help me and pray for me, so that in the Lord’s timing and way I will find peace and even sometimes understanding.

Have you ever been encouraged that the Spirit was filling in your prayer gaps? Just incase you can’t recall a time I want to share a precious experience of a sweet friend who was facing many “why God experiences”.  In the middle of her circumstances she found herself one Sunday without her dear husband who had to remain home as he continued to recover for a series of unexpected and complicated surgeries.  Once again she was missing him by her side. Then, to prick at her heart even more it was announced that we would be celebrating communion.  She found herself overcome with the desire for her husband to be able to celebrate it too.  From the quietness of her heart she cried out her wish.  As she recalls it was just a thought— not a prayer.   She knew he would be missing it as he watched the service live from home.  Following church she gathered her children and they headed home.  As they shared lunch she shared with her husband her wish that he could have celebrated communion with her today.  With a big smile, he said “I did!”  She was speechless.  Then came the question, “but how can that be?”  Through his grin he shared with the family how their neighbor, a minister, stopped by to visit with him and serve him communion.  And he said, “If that wasn’t amazing enough he was serving me at the same time as you were having it at church.  I could see it on the screen behind him!”  She was overjoyed and full of amazement that the Lord would answer her wish.  Let’s just say when she shared her experience with me her face was beaming with gratitude and joy.  There was not doubt that she was refreshed by the Lord’s goodness and love He had showered over her family.    Sometimes we get to see and experience the good in all things and other times we continue to persevere believing that God has something good He is still working on.

Does her answered wish encourage you like it does me?  I’m so thankful for friends of the faith that share their faith builder moments with me.   I hope you have a few family or friends like this.  If not, pray and ask Him for some and keep your eyes open because the Lord will answer your prayer.  He didn’t design us to walk alone but in relationship with Him and fellow believers.

Each of us are responding to the truth Paul shared in Romans 8:28 through  different lenses of life based on two factors:  1. Our spiritual heart condition. 2. Our trust relationship with God.    If either of these factors are out of focus our experiences in life will also be out of focus according to how God sees them. Whether we are in a season of why God experiences like my friend, where are you God experiences, or wow God experiences, we have opportunity to look at them with clarity, confusion, or despair.    Clarity comes from looking through clear lenses of a spiritual heart full of love for God and His people and a trusting daily relationship with Him too.  It’s kind of like Night Vision Goggles(NVG).  When we find ourself in the darkness of this world we need to strap on our NVG’s to help us clearly see the Lord at work and keep trusting that He does and will work all things for good!

Let me know how you see the Lord working in your life this week!

Be Alert~ Stay Strong~ Pray Always

Warrior~Princess Sherry

Welcome if you are joining me for the first time. This post is part of my weekly series “Wisdom Wellspring”. Take a moment to visit the page to learn about the heart behind the series and view previous posts.

Proverbs 4:23 “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.”

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Week # 21 Ephesians 2: 8-10

Did you have an opportunity to share your story last week?  If not, I’m sure an occasion will be presented soon.  I love the way last weeks verse, Matthew 28: 19-20, compliments  Ephesians 2:8-10(if this is your first time joining us click here to read more).  Both of these scriptures direct the focus in our life to Christ working in us for the purposes of God’s kingdom.  How does your story boast of God’s handiwork?

Sometimes that is an easy question to answer and other times it is difficult depending on the season of life we are in.  When our answer doesn’t come easy we should take time to reflect on how the Lord has worked in our lives in the past.  A purposeful pause might be just what we need right now as we are on the edge of entering the second half of 2017.

A good place to start might be with asking ourselves how has God’s free gift of grace impacted our lives?  Our answer to this question will reveal if we are accepting His grace freely and are living according to what He has created us, in Christ Jesus, to do.  An honest reflection requires us to start by defining God’s grace according to His standards.  Why?  Because, it tends to get muddled up when we try to define it within human parameters.  What do I mean by muddled up?

Well, we tend to want to continuously tie an “if– then” condition to grace.  For example, in my Sunday School Class, an illustration of restaurant tipping is often used to differentiate between God’s grace and an individual’s grace standard.  God’s grace standard is given freely without connection to if the individual deserves His grace.  God graciously provided salvation for us before we did anything to deserve it.  We receive God’s grace through faith, of any size, by accepting His offer and trusting His ability to freely gift us eternal salvation.

The tipping illustration places us in a service providing restaurant.  The person serving our table has a level of faith that their customer will provide a “monetary tip” for services rendered to the best of their ability.  What should our standard for tipping our server be?  As a paying customer we have been conditioned to measure the service provided by various personal standards.  How often are we trapped by our engrained service standards and “tip” based more on what they deserve rather than freely tipping with grace to bless our server?  From the conversations in my class I can tell you grace tipping is more of an acceptation rather than the standard. This topic is met by  some of the following comments:   “If I get bad service how is the person ever going to know they are terrible?”  or “I only give what they deserve, I shouldn’t have to tip, it’s the owners job to pay their staff.” This is meant only as an example— please don’t feel judged if your not a grace tipper.

I hope you didn’t get lost in this illustration.  The point I hope we will all take away is—- grace is given without consideration of merit and in many cases extended when by all measure when not deserved.  God’s free grace is absent of any “if or then” calculations.   But,  if we are focused on living life still trying to “deserve or earn” God’s grace.  Then, our understanding could be compared to believing that God is more like the paying customer who gives grace based on what we have done or are doing.  Does this belief align with scripture?  According to Ephesians 2:8-10 the answer is, no.  Paul states very clearly that we are saved by grace through our faith in God NOT by anything we do beyond freely receiveing it all, because even our faith comes from God.

If our very faith, is the basis of receiving grace, comes from the Lord what is our role?   I propose that it is to act on the faith we are given through belief in Christ and to obey his commands.  Jesus gave us our first step when he revealed the greatest commands of the Lord in Matthew 22:36 -40—  first, to love the Lord with all your heart, soul, and mind and second to love your neighbor like you love yourself.  When we obey these commands(John 14: 23 -24) it leads us into deep relationship with the Lord, increases our faith, and pours out into our love for him, ourselves, and our neighbors.  When we embrace the faith He has given to us we are able to live out His commands in love through His free grace.

Personally the concept of free grace was not one that I embraced immediately when I first believed Jesus is my Savior.  I spent many years believing that I had to earn God’s grace.  As I held onto this belief I felt like I couldn’t measure up or do enough for God and others.  My feelings of inadequacy became the substance of the walls that I built.  Barriers that separated me from experiencing God’s free grace and who He wanted to be in my life.  I blocked His love because I didn’t feel like I was good enough.  I couldn’t forgive myself, so I questioned  how or why the God of the universe would forgive me, love me, or even listen to me?  It breaks my heart to think of all the time I wasted behind a wall of unbelief, fear, and insecurity.  Maybe you can relate to the walls I built in my life or maybe you have other walls built to keep God at a distance.  If you do and are still struggling with this belief my prayer is that you will chose to believe in His unconditional love for you, as His child.  That you will act on the mustard seed of faith He has given you to receive His free gift of grace today.  It is as simple as us telling Him we believe in Jesus His Son and we receive His gift of grace— the key that brings us freedom from our sin.  After that we are free to continue to act on our faith and seek His help to obey His commands.  Now, let the boasting begin— of how God’s grace has invaded our life and caused us to live as the handiwork God created us to be in Christ!

Does boasting always mean through words?  Let’s consider how we can boast of God’s grace by extending grace to others through forgiveness, unconditional love, kindness, and maybe even some grace tipping.

How will you express the free grace you have been given this week?

Who needs to hear your story of grace and freedom?

Join the conversation I would love to hear your ideas!

**If you find your mind wondering back to the question of our source of faith being God himself?  I encourage you to answer your questions.   Here are some digging deeper scriptures for personal study. (Acts 3:16, Acts 15:9-11, Acts 26:18, Romans 1:17, Romans 4: 1-8, Romans 4:16-17, Romans 5:1-2, James 2:21-22) **

Be Alert~ Stay Strong~ Pray Always

Warrior~Princess Sherry

Welcome if you are joining me for the first time. This post is part of my weekly series “Wisdom Wellspring”. Take a moment to visit the page to learn about the heart behind the series and view previous posts.

Proverbs 4:23 “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.”

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Week # 20 Matthew 28:19 -20

Theses words of Jesus found in Matthew 28:19-20 are referred to as “The Great Commission”.  Jesus spoke these words to his disciples after His death and resurrection.  If we break down the verse for  simple memory and instruction purposes “The Great Commission” calls us: to Go, to Make and to Teach all nations as disciples who obey all Jesus has commanded.

What is our daily response to our call as Jesus’ followers to go, to make and to teach?

Maybe some of these responses cross your mind when you hear this question.  Who me?  You want me to go and to make others into followers of Christ, and  then to teach them to obey?  But I’m not a trained evangelist.  That doesn’t fall in line with my calling or my gifting.  I too can relate to these questions and the feeling of being unqualified.  So I want to encourage you and remind you that you are qualified to reach your world, one interaction at a time.

We are qualified for this kingdom work because of who we are in Christ and the renewing power of the Holy Spirit in our lives.  We can move forward in confidence because Jesus reminds us in Matthew 28:20 that He is with us always.  Like we focused on last week to keep our “eyes on how big and faithful the Lord is” in relation to our circumstances in life which gives us the ability to see any of our obstacles in their “proper perspective, small in the hands of God.”

Let’s take time this week to honestly ask the Lord to show us how He has uniquely and individually equipped us to Go, to Make, and to Teach others about the love and hope found in Jesus our Savior.  We don’t need to be afraid because He is with us always and forever.  Let’s start today with intentionally living our lives to tell the story of the change the Lord has brought to our lives and being “prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give a reason for the hope that you have(1 Peter 3:15).”

We each have a story that someone needs to hear.  A story of our changed lives in Christ.  A story of relationship, freedom, love, forgiveness, healing, release, adoption, belonging, courage, rescue, and ……

What is the theme of your story in Christ?

Pleases join the conversation and share your word.

Mine is relationship!

Be encouraged as you go to the Lord by this Big Daddy Weave song (click here)

“If I Told You My Story“!

Be Alert~ Stay Strong~ Pray Always

Warrior~Princess Sherry

Welcome if you are joining me for the first time. This post is part of my weekly series “Wisdom Wellspring”. Take a moment to visit the page to learn about the heart behind the series and view previous posts.

Proverbs 4:23 “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.”

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Week # 19 James 1: 2-3

James 1: 2-3

“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.”

Life + Trials = Pure Joy

How does that add up?  According to the world we live in it doesn’t.  Why would the writer of James even think to suggest pure joy as our response to facing trials that test our faith?  If you have time to read James 1:1-27 you will discover that James recognizes the benefit of the different trials in our life as a way of producing God focused perseverance that will achieve three things; mature us in our faith, make us complete in Christ, and  receivers of the crown of life prepared for those who love the Lord.  Our challenges in life have kingdom purpose even when we can’t see clearly while in the  testing of our faith.  Let’s not miss out on the benefits found in persevering through faith in Christ.

Would you agree that life is full of many kinds of trials?  You might be in the middle of one right now and thinking to yourself this concept is crazy.  I’m supposed to be joyful in this!  You don’t know what is going on in my life…..God can’t really expect me to be joyful!   Your right I don’t know what you are experiencing and I pray that you will find peace and joy in the Lord as we continue to explore this counter-culture call to seek after pure joy even in our storms.

What does it look like to either face a storm that is brewing or walk through a storm with pure joy?  I have a dear friend who I have had the privilege of watching and at times walking with her through a hurricane of life’s trials with her children.  I compare it to a hurricane because the intensity would change based on the winds and how close or far away she was from the eye of the storm.  When I first met her I was drawn to her warm smile and fun and relaxed attitude toward life.  There wasn’t any immediate outward appearance of distress.  She was joyful.  When I became aware of the intensity of her trials with her children I was taken off guard.  It was evident that the Lord was her strength and peace as she weathered the hurricane that was trying to destroy her family.  This storm hit land fall when one of her children began making a few bad choices in friends then it led down a path of disappearances, destruction of property, detention centers, and the waves and storm surge created from those events crashed down on the relationships within the family.   Just as she was able to get up to assess the damages from one wave the next child started  down their own destructive path.  As the storm howled and beat on her family she fought to subdue the storm of emotions within her own heart.  Why God? What did I do?  How did I fail?  Why won’t they stop?  Where are you God?  I should have……  Why didn’t I…….  How can I go on…..  Her only peace was found in her quiet time with the Lord and it was there that she found her pure joy in him that strengthens her as her storm rages on.  Her joyful verse is Nehemiah 8:10b “And do not be grieved, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.”

My dear friend has been an inspiration to me to choose the pure joy of Christ to strengthen me and sustain me through my own trials in life.  She continues to preserver through what feels like a never-ending storm.  Her faith and trust in the Lord keep her anchored.  Her joy encourages others to trust and builds their faith and their love for the Lord.  She has defiantly kept her lamp lit and shinning brightly through her storm.  I’m so thankful for her light shining into my life and leading me to the strength of the Lord.

Many times the trials of life leave us feeling alone and in the dark.  When that happens we can turn the light on and strengthen our faith by remembering to turn to the truth of God’s word for encouragement.  Psalm 119: 105 reminds us that the word of the Lord is a lamp that shines on our path as we walk with the Lord through life.  So if we choose to keep our eyes on how big and faithful the Lord is then our circumstances will return to their proper perspective, small in the hands of God.  We are then able to consider life and it’s challenges through the lens of pure joy.  Don’t let your light burn out stay connected to the light of the world and our faith builder, Christ, and preserver as you shine brightly for him.  Does this mean we will be beaming with a smile all the time as we weather our storms?  No, it means that we can remain steady in the storm, anchored in our hope, able to trust we are secure in our heavenly Father’s care and able to be real with those who genuinely seek to come along side us.  When we are steady in our relationship with Christ it shines through when we find it hard to smile.

Even in the storms of life a rainbow can emerge if  His light is shining through the rain or the tears.  Keep a look out for His rainbows in your life!

Life + Trials = Pure Joy~ Make it true in your life!

Be Alert~ Stay Strong~ Pray Always

Warrior~Princess Sherry

Welcome if you are joining me for the first time. This post is part of my weekly series “Wisdom Wellspring”. Take a moment to visit the page to learn about the heart behind the series and view previous posts.

Proverbs 4:23 “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.”

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