Tag Archives: walls

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: 19-20Matthew 28: 19-20
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19 Therefore go, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all things that I commanded you. Behold, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen.

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, compliments  Ephesians 2:8-10Ephesians 2:8-10
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8 for by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, 9 not of works, that no one would boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared before that we would walk in them.

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(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 2:8-10Ephesians 2:8-10
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8 for by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, 9 not of works, that no one would boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared before that we would walk in them.

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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 -40Matthew 22:36 -40
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36 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the law?” 37 Jesus said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and great commandment. 39 A second likewise is this, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 The whole law and the prophets depend on these two commandments.”

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—  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 -24John 14: 23 -24
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23 Jesus answered him, “If a man loves me, he will keep my word. My Father will love him, and we will come to him, and make our home with him. 24 He who doesn’t love me doesn’t keep my words. The word which you hear isn’t mine, but the Father’s who sent me.

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) 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 3:16Acts 3:16
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16 By faith in his name has his name made this man strong, whom you see and know. Yes, the faith which is through him has given him this perfect soundness in the presence of you all.

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, Acts 15:9-11Acts 15:9-11
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9 He made no distinction between us and them, cleansing their hearts by faith. 10 Now therefore why do you tempt God, that you should put a yoke on the neck of the disciples which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear? 11 But we believe that we are saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus, TR adds “Christ” just as they are.”

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, Acts 26:18Acts 26:18
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18 to open their eyes, that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive remission of sins and an inheritance among those who are sanctified by faith in me.’

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, Romans 1:17Romans 1:17
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17 For in it is revealed God’s righteousness from faith to faith. As it is written, “But the righteous shall live by faith.”

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, Romans 4: 1-8Romans 4: 1-8
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4 1 What then will we say that Abraham, our forefather, has found according to the flesh? 2 For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not toward God. 3 For what does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.” 4 Now to him who works, the reward is not counted as grace, but as debt. 5 But to him who doesn’t work, but believes in him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is accounted for righteousness. 6 Even as David also pronounces blessing on the man to whom God counts righteousness apart from works, 7 “Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, Whose sins are covered. 8 Blessed is the man whom the Lord will by no means charge with sin.”

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, Romans 4:16-17Romans 4:16-17
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16 For this cause it is of faith, that it may be according to grace, to the end that the promise may be sure to all the seed, not to that only which is of the law, but to that also which is of the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all. 17 As it is written, “I have made you a father of many nations.” This is in the presence of him whom he believed: God, who gives life to the dead, and calls the things that are not, as though they were.

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, Romans 5:1-2Romans 5:1-2
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5 1 Being therefore justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ; 2 through whom we also have our access by faith into this grace in which we stand. We rejoice in hope of the glory of God.

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, James 2:21-22James 2:21-22
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21 Wasn’t Abraham our father justified by works, in that he offered up Isaac his son on the altar? 22 You see that faith worked with his works, and by works faith was perfected;

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) **

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 4:23Proverbs 4:23
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23 Keep your heart with all diligence, For out of it is the wellspring of life.

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

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Walls or Bridges?

Walls or Bridges?

I was leading a Bible study group through Armor of God by Priscilla Shirer when this “tidbit” rocked my world. I hope you are encouraged. In this study, at the end of each study day, she asks us to write down our “Actionable Intel”(a personal take a way). This particular day we were studying the Shoes of the Gospel of Peace. Priscilla asked us with each piece of armor, we studied, to step back from our life circumstances and ask the Lord to reveal the spiritual realities influencing our daily interactions and experiences. That day we focused on how the enemy seeks to demolish the peace that God gives us in life. One way he does this is to keep us off balance and distract us from close relationship with God, the people of God, and the other people in our life.

Ephesians 2:13Ephesians 2:13
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13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off are made near in the blood of Christ.

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– 18 tells us “he (Christ) himself is our peace, who has made the two groups (Israel and Gentile) one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility (verse 14 parentheses added). Christ reconciled both Israel and Gentile to God through the cross. The cross is the bridge he built to bring the peace of God to mankind for all mankind to have peace with him and one another.

My “actionable intel” for that study day was the following:

“Christ builds bridges of peace~unity~strength~love. Our enemy builds walls of deception to separate~isolate~weaken~spawn hatred. Which architect will you hire?”

This “actionable intel” is a challenge to be alert and ready to stand strong with our “Shoes of the Gospel of Peace” strapped on securely. Living as peacemakers who build bridges in the power of Christ through love, forgiveness, gentleness, and unifying strength.

 

Reflect on your relationships.   Which are they more characterized by tension or peace? The answer to this question will reveal if your life is full of bridges or walls?

 

Reflective Prayer:

Lord we come to you asking you to strengthen us in your love and peace. Help us to recognize the areas where we have worked with the enemy to build walls in our heart, our relationships, and our lifestyle.   Soften our hearts with your love, forgive us of our sins, and restore us to our peaceful relationship with you. Guide and teach us how to build bridges and walk on those bridges with you. Thank you for the bridge of your cross, which secures for those who believe in you, Jesus, that nothing can separate us from you— no wall, no sin, nothing! In Jesus name— Amen

Romans 8:38-39Romans 8:38-39
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38 For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

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Nothing can separate those in Christ from God!

What walls need bridges in your heart?  I’d love to hear……

Be Alert~ Stay Strong~ Pray Always

Warrior~Princess Sherry

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Can we be REAL?

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What is your wall?

Is anyone else tired of the walls and distance between who a person is and who others believe they are? Can we please just be REAL?  Life is tough no matter at what stage you find yourself. When we chose to build walls and keep others at a distance it hinders the growth of authentic relationships.  The extent to which barriers are built can even lead to losing the ability to know how to be “you”.  Leaving the builder, you, with the question to answer: “Who am I?”  Have you ever experienced a struggle within to identify and express your personal opinions and beliefs?  You strain to acknowledge them.  But they are blurred by the mask you’ve worn for the world.  Emotions try to emerge but they are blocked.  All you can feel is fear, numbness and confusion.    curtain-203714__340Reinforcements come to the rescue.  “What will they think of me if I’m really me?”…  “No one will like me anymore.”… “No one has to know I’m struggling…I can just keep hiding.”  The questions and rationalizations are indicators that your chameleon walls are thick and the reinforcements are strong.

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“Chameleon”

How do I know?  I was a chameleon for most of my life.  Growing up I struggled with who I was, so I lived in safety of my camouflage skills, like a chameleon.  My natural instinct was to keep harmony, make others happy, and stay out of trouble.  The expectations of others ruled my world.  I adapted and changed based on who I was with and what their expectations were so I would be accepted and keep the peace.  I thought I was in control.

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“It might not be easy at first glance to recognize it in yourself. “

Do I have any chameleon friends out there? It might not be easy at first glance to recognize it in yourself. Why? Because to an extent that is just part of surviving in our world of ever changing norms and expectations.   I realize it is safer to live with walls.  I’m an expert builder myself. But I have been challenged to tear my walls down and build REAL relationships: Relational through Encouragement, Authenticity, and Love! That means sharing the struggles of life and letting the light of Jesus shine through my weaknesses as my source of strength.

 

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“Can you trust God?”

I  was most challenged with tearing down my walls while living in Germany. Our family was preparing for Daddy to deploy for 15 months and suddenly I found myself facing a medical diagnosis that required emergency surgery with an extended recovery time. Many decisions needed to be made. One decision was “will this be a private walk or a public walk?”

Public was what the Lord required. In 2 Corinthians 1: 4-52 Corinthians 1: 4-5
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4 who comforts us in all our affliction, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, through the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. 5 For as the sufferings of Christ abound to us, even so our comfort also abounds through Christ.

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the Apostle Paul encourages us that we go through challenges to prepare us and give us opportunity to edify and relate to others through our experience. So there I was on the receiving end of much encouragement and support from newly made friends and strangers. I was learning to live out Proverbs 27:10Proverbs 27:10
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10 Don’t forsake your friend and your father’s friend. Don’t go to your brother’s house in the day of your disaster: Better is a neighbor who is near than a distant brother.

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where it tells us that when we are in need of assistance we should get our help from those nearby rather than distant family. Living in Germany didn’t leave much choice.  It was out of my control

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2 Corinthians 1:3-52 Corinthians 1:3-5
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3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort; 4 who comforts us in all our affliction, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, through the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. 5 For as the sufferings of Christ abound to us, even so our comfort also abounds through Christ.

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Through that experience I gained friendships I never would have had the opportunity for and my witness for Christ grew. At that time I was also a leader in the community so for those who were watching my family and I handle this challenge it strengthened the message that we need each other in the good times and the challenging ones too.   As I let the Lord tear down some of my walls and trust him to be in control I grew in amazing ways.   It  became clear that I was telling women through my actions that a “strong woman is one who knows when she needs help and seeks it out”.   I have witnessed so many women, especially military wives, struggle in their own strength.  They chose to stay behind their walls and fake that they were in control and just fine. slide1 In reality, inside their walls at home, they were falling apart. I had a front row seat to my own struggle. When I let go of my control to the Lord. He broke me free!  I chose to be REAL first with Jesus and began doing life in his strength.  Then I found the freedom to be REAL with the people he placed in my life.

Can you relate to being a wall builder? Do you struggle to appear to have it “all together” when the world looks at you? Are you ready to live in REAL community?    Where do you want do go in your freedom of being REAL?

 

I hope to hear about your REAL Journey!

Armor Up, pride down, Pray Always

Warrior~Princess Sherry

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