Tag Archives: grace

The Extent of Forgiveness

It’s not an original thought. I heard a preacher close his sermon out with it this morning, and then it was stuck in my head… which basically means that the preacher did his job!

If you’re a Christian you’ve likely heard the sermon, you know the salvation message and you understand the concept. But it is so easy to lose sight of the depth of God’s love and the extent of His forgiveness. Especially if you’re discouraged or have feelings of unworthiness.

So just what is the extent of God’s forgiveness, lest we forget?

As far as the east is from the west

As far as the east is from the west, so far hath He removed our transgressions from us. (Psalm 103:12)

That’s pretty far wouldn’t you say?  In God’s realm, I don’t think the east ever meets the west. God took (removed) our sins from us, and yet we so often take them back and fail to accept His gift of forgiveness. I am the worst at rehashing failures and staying in a mindset of defeat.

I need to remember what God chooses to forget. And that forgetting is a choice.

As deep as the ocean

Who is God unto thee, that pardoneth iniquity, and passeth by the transgression of the remnant of His heritage? He retaineth not His anger forever, because He delighteth in mercy. He will turn again, He will have compassion upon us; He will subdue our iniquities; and thou will cast all their sins into the depths of the sea. (Micah 7:18-19)

Satan would love us to view God as angry all the time. So would a few preachers I’ve heard preach. But God does not retain His anger. It doesn’t say He doesn’t get angry. I believe that with the worst, despicable sins out there, God gets angry. When a child is abused, or a heart broken by broken vows and abuse, God’s upset. But at the first sign of repentance of that sinner, God is ready and willing to forgive. The word says He delights in it! It brings God great joy for us to come to Him in search of a renewed relationship. It is then that He casts our sins in the depths of the sea. That’s not only a deep thought, that’s a deep location.

Never Void

So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it. (Isaiah 55:11)

This is a verse we often use to remind ourselves that anytime the word is preached, it always serves a purpose. But have you thought of yourself being the recipient of it? If God spoke it to you, it was spoken with purpose and its purpose will be fulfilled. So when we read these verses as personal, we understand that they are written to prosper us. To help us live a life of joy and abundance through the price Christ paid on the cross to cover our sins.

I wrote these verses down in the back of my bible under the title “The extent of Forgiveness.” I want them handy so I can show myself, my friends and for certain Satan. He seems to need reminded a lot.

Oh How He Loves You and Me

Hosea 3:2

So I bought her to me for fifteen pieces of silver, and for an homer of barley and an half homer of barley:

Have you ever wondered why God puts up with you? I certainly do. Most every day I’m asking myself that question. I have a feeling that nobody asked that question any more than Gomer, the wife of the prophet Hosea.

The story of Hosea’s prostitute wife was not that of the ordinary man of God. God had instructed him to marry a prostitute. That is what I would all an extreme sermon illustration! Once they were married, Gomer’s infidelity and abandonment meant that Hosea had to buy her back out of prostitution, in a very public way and then tell the children of Israel how his wife’s infidelity was no different than theirs was to the Lord; which would bring great judgment upon themselves.  

Praise God for grace… but Gomer’s life story still rings my bell. I long for a relationship of deeper proportion with the Lord, but I stay so busy and scattered about with various things that the Lord more often than not, gets scooted over to make a seat for some vain desire. Thinking I’ll get back to Him later. What? Even writing that makes my stomach roll over to think that I would treat the Creator of all the earth in such a manner.

It’s why I can identify with Gomer. Hosea married her and made an honorable woman out of her, but she refused to stay away from the world from which she came out of. She had children, and she even abandoned them to go back.

Infidelity has a much broader meaning when it comes to our relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ.

He’s not asking us to turn our backs on family, forget about hobbies or favorite pass times, He merely wants included. And yet, even I, who the world around me knows me as the Jesus Chick, will not bring Him into a conversation for fear of it being an unwanted conversation sometimes. Or I’ll get distracted by some worldly television show or social media and my day has dwindled away and I’m left wondering why I feel like a dirt dog at the end of the day.

It’s the equivalency of not showering! The Word of God is a spiritual wash cloth as one of my favorite preachers use to say.

My relationship with Christ cannot possibly get to a deeper place, if I’m not willing to wade out into the water where He is.

It reminds me of those times that He and the disciples would get away from the rest of the world for some ministry training and rest and it would be in a quiet place, or in the midst of the sea. It wasn’t in a crowded room, dusty street, or in front of a blaring television with idiotic commercials every 3 minutes.

So today in an attempt to understand why God tolerates me I looked into the eyes of Hosea through the eyes of Gomer. I realized it was for no other reason than He loves me. Thank God, I am redeemed. Bought back with the blood of Jesus Christ after I went astray.

He loves you too you know…

Foolish chick… Praise God for Chick Grace

Perhaps it’s an oxymoron that the Jesus Chick has chickens, but I love my little brood.  I have nine laying hens, or at least they’re all supposed to lay. Some do not. I have a two Leghorns (Laverne and Ethel), a Rhode Island Red (Lucy), two Silkies (Glo and Sue), two Black Australorps (Shirley and Rhoda) and two Belgium deUccles (Butterscotch and Toffee). They show so much familiarity with the modern day church that it really does seem fitting for them to be in my care. I guess chicken farming is a little like Pastoring. Each of them have their own personality. One’s a little bossy, a couple of them are sometimes lazy, there’s the showboats and the strutters. They all have purpose and potential, but it’s not always evident in the service of the coop. They expect feed and water to be at their beckon call, but if I need productivity on their part… well that’s debatable.

I’ll bet every preacher reading this just shouted a big Amen. If only inside their mind.

If I’m being honest, I’m anyone of those chicks at any given moment in time. Last week was a low productivity week for me. I’m excuseless. Perhaps it’s still the effects of the heart surgery lingering on, or perhaps I just had a lazy week. I don’t know. I just couldn’t seem to come out of my funk. I’m praying since this is Monday that God has mercy on my soul today and my productivity will be up, because He and I have been talking a little this morning about the life of the Jesus Chick. Actually I was listening to another brother’s message and God spoke to my soul in such a tender way, that I had to share it with you. Perhaps today you’re not feeling too productive for Jesus either. Or maybe you feel like you’ve let God down in one of the millions of other ways that I quite often do. Failure is a fact in my life. Whether it’s a chick or sheep, we all stray.

Luke 15

1Then drew near unto him all the publicans and sinners for to hear him.

And the Pharisees and scribes murmured, saying, This man receiveth sinners, and eateth with them.

And he spake this parable unto them, saying,

What man of you, having an hundred sheep, if he lose one of them, doth not leave the ninety and nine in the wilderness, and go after that which is lost, until he find it?

And when he hath found it, he layeth it on his shoulders, rejoicing.

And when he cometh home, he calleth together his friends and neighbours, saying unto them, Rejoice with me; for I have found my sheep which was lost.

I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance.

The crowd gathered to hear Jesus. The religious and the lost alike had a desire to see and hear Jesus. But for two entirely different reasons. The religious hoped they’d find some way to accuse Him; the lost hoped that find hope. There was no doubt those in the crowd who knew Jesus as Savior and were there for the encouragement. And then there would have been someone like me, who loved the Lord, but let Him down pretty often. Even the saved sheep sometimes stray away from the flock. So what great and awesome news to hear that Jesus would leave the 99 and seek the one who was I!

The other day, David built me a bigger coop for my chickadees and we were taking them from the old coop to the new. In the process of the move one of the hens made a run for it. It took us twenty minutes to get that rebel red back into her place. I’m sure it would have looked like a great comedy as I tried to pin her into an area so David could latch on to her. That’s how God does me sometimes I think. He chases me down through the Holy Spirit, desiring me to come back to Him and commune in sweet fellowship. That liar Satan would have me to believe that God is angry and has no desire to have me home. And I’m dumb enough to believe his lies every time. But the Holy Spirit is relentless! And Praise God He is!!!! The great truth of that is, God doesn’t have to leave the 99 to bring me back, He never leaves any of His children.

There is a multitude of reasons we stray from the Word of God. Sin. Sorrow. Suffocation. Life gets on us and it’s hard to shake. God should not have to come after His children but He does.

My chicks are not free roamers. Mainly because I don’t want chicken poop in my yard or the worry of them bothering the neighbors. I don’t want to be a roamer either. I need to stay penned in the word! I not only speak of the writing of this blog but of the safety of God’s protective fence. The Word of God places a hedge around my heart that keeps the world out, and when I fail to read and study it as I should, it allows a breach for Satan to come in. And just like Lucy the Rhode Island Red, I run for the border! Foolish chick… Praise God for Chick grace.

 

 

A Lesson in Survival From Ollie the Owl

On a recent cold winter evening my husband David was delivered a wounded screech owl from our area of West Virginia. It had been hit by a car, and a 6.5 oz. owl verses a 4000 pound car survival story certainly speaks of the tenacity of this little creature. But when David brought it to the house I really thought he brought it home to bury. It was not in a good way. The first day it sat lifeless with an occasional opening of one eye. I guess to see if the humans taking care of it were still there. The second day he was more alert and obviously in pain, but by the third day it was apparent it was going to survive! But the quality of survival was still iffy. Probably the only one more shocked than we were about the survival was the owl. I named it Ollie, it just seemed like a good fit. We attempted a release but Ollie could only glide to the ground and then couldn’t take flight from there. We then called the WV Raptor Center to ask what we should do, because keeping an owl is a federal offence and wild creatures shouldn’t be caged anyway. That’s a no brainer. The center was very helpful and got in touch with raptor transporter who came in a few days to retrieve Ollie for assessment and owl therapy. Who knew! that owls could have therapy?

Our last few days with Ollie at our house were spent letting it perch on our hand, scratching its head and rubbing our fingers down its feathers. It made no attempt to bite us, it was gentle as a pet, but the better it felt, the less it encouraged us to touch it. I fed it raw hamburger (not the best diet) but I couldn’t do the frozen mice thing. According to the Raptor center raw liver would have been better. But Ollie loved the hamburger that I would spoon feed it. Needless to say, I grew quite fond of this little creature of God’s.

Historical Job’s Temple in Route 5, Gilmer County, WV

Karen, the raptor transporter assessed Ollie for a few days and then called to say it seemed apparent that it could fly and she invited us to take part in the release. The release had to be in the same area for which it was hit by the car, and that happened to be at a historical site in our neighboring county of Gilmer called “Job’s Temple.” A  Methodist Church building built between 1860 and 1866 and is constructed of poplar logs. It’s a beautiful location.  And too ironic not use for a correlation between Ollie’s rescue and faith.

Because of the condition of Ollie’s eyes it was apparent that it had a concussion. I feared that it couldn’t see at all. When our hand would pass by its eyes there was no reaction.

I Once was Blind but now I see…

A few days following his collision with the car.

I was in that same state of condition prior to my salvation in 1996. The walking dead. I was a part of the problem with religion. I professed but didn’t possess the Spirit of God. And that sad part is, I wasn’t even aware; I just knew something was missing. That missing piece was the Spirit of God! It caused me to soar in life… wait… I’m getting a head of Ollie’s story. Ollie didn’t know or care who David and I were, only that we were caring for it. Feeding it, nursing it back to health. Oh how very grateful I am for the church people that took me under their wings and discipled me when I finally was rescued through salvation. Please don’t ever underestimate the importance of helping a new convert find their way through Christian faith. Just like Ollie, if people hadn’t protected and spoon fed me for a while on the ways of Christianity I would have been devoured by the beast of Satan. I wouldn’t have been lost… but I could have very easily been discouraged from flying.

Your Grace Still Amazes me!

Salvation is amazing! But much like Ollie I fear the captivity. If we’d have gone against the law and kept Ollie caged, it would have continued to heal and had the ability to fly but its flight would have been constrained to the area for which it was kept. Sad. So many Christians are constrained to the walls of the church when it comes to experiencing the full power of God’s amazing grace!

Everyone is at risk if they don’t take risks.

Ollie trusted David and I for a few days as it was healing. I was under the direction of several people in our church for a time, until they were certain I could take flight on my own. It was then that I was encouraged to branch out into the ministry and take my spot on the branch. I began devouring the word of God until I felt I understood it enough to share it and then I began to teach. I began on the very elementary level, junior high and high school classes for which I needed. Slowly I progressed into the adult ministry. I came up through the ranks of every age class in our church. And with each one I learned more and more.

Ollie was a mature adult bird. It should have known better than to fly in front of a car. I was brought up in a Christian home, I should have known better than to be lost. But I did not. It doesn’t matter our age, it matters how we react to Rescuer. And it matters if you’re in the right place of rescuing.

I won’t say that anyone else couldn’t have done what we did for Ollie. But they couldn’t have possibly cared more. And that’s how I felt when I found my church family. I’d never been cared for in such a way. If you’re not in that church… find it. Find the one that will encourage and strengthen your soul until you fly!!!!

I’ll Fly Away

Ollie’s release was bitter sweet. It was the right thing to do, but I had so enjoyed the company of God’s precious critter.

I met Karen at Job’s temple and we trekked up the hill behind the church. She allowed Ollie to familiarize with the area again. It posed on her hand like it was waiting for us to get one final picture, and then within a few minutes, Ollie took flight! Oh my stars what a wonderful sight! I rejoiced to have been a part of the process.

If you’re a child of God, you too should rejoice in being a part of the process of seeing another child of God take flight.

Just like Ollie and the car, the world can hit us when we’re off guard or on guard. We need to encourage one another to stay strong in the faith. We all have times when we feel faith waning and that we’re not sure if the journey is going to end well. If you’re a child of God, it ends so much better than “well!” But the journey also can be amazing. Study and learn the word of God, learn to listen to the Holy Spirit, and when it’s time to take flight, soar like you’ve never flown before. God’s got a plan for you. Nothing just happens.

God sent Ollie to David and I because He knew the end of the story. He knew that He would be glorified. Will He not do the same for His children.

Luke 12:4-9

And I say unto you my friends, Be not afraid of them that kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do. But I will forewarn you whom ye shall fear: Fear him, which after he hath killed hath power to cast into hell; yea, I say unto you, Fear him. Are not five sparrows sold for two farthings, and not one of them is forgotten before God? But even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not therefore: ye are of more value than many sparrows. Also I say unto you, Whosoever shall confess me before men, him shall the Son of man also confess before the angels of God: But he that denieth me before men shall be denied before the angels of God.

A Word to the Frustrated Believer

In general, I stay more frustrated with myself than with others among the church. But I must confess that I too can grow weary of people.  For some strange reason the Mac Davis song, “Oh Lord it’s hard to be Humble,” is now playing in my mind. If you know the song, you remember the next line “when you’re perfect in every way.” Now, in the words of the Apostle Paul, “I beseech you,” meaning I beg of you, to understand I’m as far from perfect as the pendulum swings! But human nature being what it is causes my mind to focus on the errored way of others, and when I do I am brought to a message like this in 2 Corinthians 10.

It comforts me to know that even the great Paul had to talk his way through the frustrations of dealing with stupid people.

2 Corinthian ds 10:1-2

Now I Paul myself beseech you by the meekness and gentleness of Christ, who in presence am base among you, but being absent am bold toward you: But I beseech you, that I may not be bold when I am present with that confidence, wherewith I think to be bold against some, which think of us as if we walked according to the flesh.

Remember Humility

Paul said that he was base (the lowest) among us. How could that be?  A man who was beaten and imprisoned for preaching the gospel and died a martyr for the faith. How is it that he would say that he is less than anyone else? Because he remembered humility. It’s a character trait of those who are most used by God.

Paul’s past, pre,-salvation was spent having Christians murdered for the same faith that he now defended. That no doubt weighed heavy on his heart. And though it was under the blood of Christ, it would not have prevented Satan from using it as a tool of discouragement in Paul’s ministry. Satan doesn’t have any new tricks, he doesn’t need them. He always has plenty of ammunition in the line of guilt in my life even after salvation. I can either allow him to tear me apart, or I can face the world in humility as the Apostle Paul did, knowing that I am a sinner saved by grace. It’s in that humility that I’ll learn to extend grace and mercy to those who frustrate me.

2 Corinthians 10:3-5

For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;) Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;

Avoid High-mindedness

Paul said to cast down every “high” thing that puts itself above God. I think of that as those self-righteous moments of mankind when we look upon the faults of others and forget our own. Oh, the saints of God love calling out sin, so long as nobody opens their closet doors.

It is so easy for me to look at someone else’s life and assume that they should have known better, or that no excuse was worthy of the transgression they committed, but justify my own blunders. Paul lay a reminder before us that that kind of high-thinking is detrimental to the children of God. It makes someone feel less and someone feel more and that is not the way Christ did it. Christ never justified sin, nor did He execute the sinner.

2 Corinthians 10:6-8

And having in a readiness to revenge all disobedience, when your obedience is fulfilled. Do ye look on things after the outward appearance? if any man trust to himself that he is Christ’s, let him of himself think this again, that, as he is Christ’s, even so are we Christ’s. For though I should boast somewhat more of our authority, which the Lord hath given us for edification, and not for your destruction, I should not be ashamed:

Understand it’s a Matter of the Heart

When we’ve been hurt, or we’re in disagreement with someone else, it would do us well if we’d consider the heart of the matter. While my weakness may not be yours or vice versa, we cannot say for certain that we understand every underlying condition that created our frustration. I only have to recall an issue that I had with a person who seemed arrogant and prideful. My frustration with them grew to the point that I’d cringe when I’d hear their voice in the distance. They later became one of my best friends and what I discovered was that the arrogance and pride was a shield that they placed before them so that people couldn’t see the insecurity and lack of self-confidence that they garnered inside. Once I understood that about them, my frustration quickly turned to compassion and the realization that everything wasn’t always what it seemed.

Paul could have boasted in his authority with God and his wisdom of men. He was right. But he chose rather to look on others with compassion and allow the love of Christ to be exhibited rather than the pride of man.

I’ve learned that most people eventually realize the error of their ways, or I recognize mine. And when they don’t I need to leave them with Christ and move on to matters I can control.

Placing it in Christ’s hands in indeed the cure of the frustrated believer.

The Signficant Three

I heard it said and fear its true, in that “We’re raising a generation that doesn’t even know the basics” when it comes to Bible. Twenty years ago at the age of 34 I didn’t know beans about the Bible. Even the acronym B.I.B.L.E – Basic Instruction Before Leaving Earth, sent me into note taking frenzy. I’d never heard even something so simple. What a concept! Every preaching service I’d sit on the edge of my seat like I was being spoon fed pure sugar from Heaven, and Hallelujah and I’m still the same. The Word of God has never gotten old because as a young Christian I heard the power of the Spirit, the Water and the Blood.

As a product of what was probably the first generation that took the gospel too lightly, the blood wasn’t something my squeamish stomach liked to hear about. It made me very uneasy to hear about the sacrifice of critters and then to hear about the sacrifice of the Son of God was a horror my mind couldn’t fathom, until, through the preaching of the Word, I began to understand that were it not for that sacrifice I would have busted Hell wide open. And I knew that there had been several times in my 34 years where I was inches away from gate. When I came to that realization the preaching of the blood no longer bothered me, but I’d raise my hand and shout Amen with the rest of those crazy Baptists because the Spirit inside of moved me and bore witness that there was a well of Living Water within me and I was seated in Heaven with the Lord Jesus.

But in the modern age of today the blood is being preached on less and less and is being traded for a lukewarm version that no longer allows people to understand there’s more to getting to Heaven than just showing up to church.

Oh… the work is done. But there’s a head and heart knowledge of 1 John 5:8 that must be understood.

The significant three

Spirit

February 18th, 1996. That was the first time I remember feeling the Spirit in such a way that it made my heart well up inside of me to the point I thought it would explode! It missing in many, many services today, because that Spirit is a part of a threefold message. And without the other two, it’s not a complete message.

Water

At least 60% of the adult human body is made up of water and we can’t survive without it. A child of God won’t survive spiritually without the water of the word either. I was taught as a new Christian that if I wanted to grow in the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, I needed to read and study the word of God for myself. It was then that I realized it truly was like water; flowing through my body and encouraging me as the world around me did everything within it’s power to discourage me. A few days without it and I would begin to feel my soul drying up and crying out for a drink from the well called “The Word.”

Blood

Medical minded people could give you far more information than I on the purpose of the blood for living, but I will only tell you of the blood that made all the difference! When God sacrificed the first animals to cover the newly discovered naked bodies of Adam and Eve, I can imagine their gut wrenching horror of that act. The act that they, through sin, had made necessary. It was my same reaction when I realized that through my sin, I had caused the very Lamb of God to be sacrificed on the cross as payment for my sin. I can’t watch movies like “The Passion of Christ,” because the images are just more than my heart can bear. Reading it in the Word and having the Spirit bear witness to me is enough to make me understand the blood was applied to my wicked heart and made it white as snow so that I could have a relationship with God.

I’m grateful for the preaching of the Word and that Saints of God took their role of discipling me serious. I pray I never take the significant three for granted, and that I never fail to take the opportunity to instill in this generation the basics of salvation. That is why the world is in the shape that it’s in. The basics have been forsaken for words that appease the flesh. I know that if my heart had not felt the piercing conviction of sin through the preaching of the Spirit, the Water and the Blood, I’d still be headed to Hell.

If you’ve know that word… thank a preacher!

How to find grace at the throne

I don’t know about you, but I know about me and when I have to come to the throne of God seeking grace, I generally don’t do it boldly. I don’t run in and say, “Father, I messed up! Will you forgive me and fix this mess I’m in… again.” No, that is not how I approach God. I slink in like a ‘possum on the porch. Hovered down like the guilty scoundrel I am. I’m always sure this will be the time that God says, “Shari , you have filled the sea of forgetfulness with garbage. Now, this sin is laying on the beach and I can’t forget it. You’ve gone too far girlfriend. Your grace has run out! Depart from me, I don’t want to know you anymore.” But that’s not God. Number one… God wouldn’t call me girlfriend. Number 2, God won’t un-know His children.

I’m in good company with my mindset though, because I think David felt like God had forgotten him several times. One such time was in Psalm 88 when he penned the words: “Lord, why castest thou off my soul? Why hidest thou thy face from me?” David laments through the entire Psalm, he is in the lowest of the lowest spots of his life and he feels that God is not listening. Have you been there? I certainly have. But what I found odd about this was not that David felt like that, because I could identify; but it’s what happened next in the chronological order of the bible, which is Psalm 92. For which he opens with the words “It is a good thing to give thanks unto the Lord, and to sing praise unto thy name, O most High: to shew forth thy lovingkindness in the morning and thy faithfulness every night, upon an instrument of ten strings, and upon the psaltery: upon the harp with a solemn sound. For thou, Lord, has made me glad through thy work: I will triumph in the works of thy hands. O Lord, how great are thy works, and thy thoughts are very deep.

So how does one go from, “God do You even know I exist?” to singing songs of praise?

I believe it’s when we can establish in our minds Who God is, and who we are.

God is loving and kind

David said it was good for us to show forth God’s lovingkindness. Could that have been because David wasn’t always loving and kind? I know I’m not.  There are times I have a hard time loving the people I love, and for certain times that I cannot love the people I don’t even like.

God is faithful

David wasn’t always faithful, he stole a man’s wife for cryin’ out loud! But God is forever faithful. Psalm 119:89 says “For ever, O Lord, thy word is settled in heaven.”  God won’t un-love us. He won’t forget that He died for us. We are not faithful, and it doesn’t shock God. He knew that before He died.

God is Who matters

David didn’t say that he himself had done anything, but that God had done everything. “For thou, Lord, has made me glad through thy work: I will triumph in the works of thy hands. O Lord, how great are thy works, and thy thoughts are very deep.” Thy works, Thy hands, Thy thoughts. Nothing of mine, but thine O’ Lord!

If ever I can get my head wrapped around that thought I am convinced that I will be walking the confidence that the Lord desires. That I can run boldly to the throne of grace. But I’m not there. I still have those moments when I think, there’s no way God can forgive me… again. It’s a lie out of the pits of Hell and I buy into it every time.

Why? Because we fear God’s wrath. David said in Psalm 88, verse 15, “I am afflicted and ready to die from my youth up: while I suffer thy terrors I am distracted.

David couldn’t focus on life because he feared God’s wrath. And while God’s wrath can still be felt, He would much rather we face the wrong we’ve done, and feel His grace.

Hebrews 4:14-16

Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession. For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.

Somewhere between 88 and 92 David found grace. So should we.

From Wreck to Rest

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Hebrews 4:12

For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.

I have often heard and occasionally said the statement, “God knows my heart.” Those words usually come at a time in a person’s life when their purpose or intention is brought into question. And as a rebuttal to the doubt of another soul they will say “God knows my heart.” And I can almost hear out of Heaven, “Yes, yes I do.”

When I truly take those words to account it weakens my knees a tad bit if I dwell on the knowledge that God knows me inside and out; dividing asunder (meaning into parts) of soul and spirit, joints and marrow. It’s why my knees weaken, because when the Word of God convicts the soul and the spirit speaks to the heart, and the body reacts in kind. I told my teens Sunday that the Bible is a spiritual wash cloth, it will clean you up! But perhaps I should have also said that it was a sword to dissect your day and your ways. The word of God is amazing how it can expose what we’d rather stay covered.

I hate dealing with life. Many, many days drain me. So when I write, as I did a day or so ago on fleeing from God, I’m not blowin’ smoke. If I could get into my car and drive somewhere that God would not be, I would likely try. But that is not possible. And so I trudge on through life and daily get into His word and ask God for mercy on my soul to bring me through a dark time.

Sound dramatic? I have a feeling that the air over my head is dramatic and that there are angels battling the demonic forces of the night to keep my mind focused on the word of God. Else I’d be in the car. The spiritual world is as real as the chair I’m sitting in and this morning I can feel it. But I can also feel the Word of God slicing through the discouragement and fears in my heart to expose the tender part to words that need to be soaked in and rested in. Word like the preceding 3 verses in Hebrews 4: 9-11

There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God. 10 For he that is entered into his rest, he also hath ceased from his own works, as God did from his. 11 Let us labour therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief.

Working for rest? Sounds pretty oxymoronic. But getting to the point of resting in God is most definitely work. I’ve had to unpack Hebrews 4 and repack it a time or two this morning to find my rest. I had to wrap my mind around the fact that I have to cease from my own works and rely on the works that was done on the cross by Jesus Christ. In verse 13 it says that 13 Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in his sight: but all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do.” Exposing yourself is laying everything on the table with God. He knows it anyway, but it’s putting it out there and saying “God, help me with this. I can’t do it.”

14 Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession. 15 For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. 16 Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.

God does know my heart. It’s full of infirmities (deteriorated vitality, feeble, weak of mind, will or character is how Merriam Webster described it.) I’d describe it pretty much the same way. And God says “I get it. I understand because I’ve been there and have overcome. So bring it boldly not ashamedly. Lay it out before me and let’s work on it together so we can get you to a place of rest.”

I needed to hear that today. I need to remember that God knew how very messed up I was and He chose to call me into His service anyway. But the only way to get to place of rest in my life is to rest in Him.

Were it not for the Place of Grace

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I the Lord search the heart, I try the reins, even to give every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings.~ Jeremiah 17:10

A thorough searching of my heart on any given day will lead me to an awareness of the rebellion that resides there. The old adage “you can lead a horse to water but you can’t make him drink,” comes to mind; and you can lead a girl to scripture but you can’t make her apply it. In my *pursuit of God, He’s had to drag me through the book of Jeremiah at times. It’s depressing to hear of the state of Israel, God’s disdain and Jeremiah’s pleading. But there amidst all that frustration are nuggets of pure gold that even a rebellious spirited gal like me can latch onto and say, “God, I’m so glad you brought me down this path.” If I allow myself to be lead, rather than pulling back God takes me to the place of blessing.

Jeremiah 17:7 says :

“Blessed is the man that trusteth in the Lord, and whose hope the Lord is.”

Jeremiah was at his wits end with Israel, yet even still he could see the blessing of being in the place of fellowship with God. We cannot control those around us, believe me I’ve tried. And it is enough that I have my own life’s garden to keep the crap out of.

Apostle Paul said it best in Philippians 3:8 when he said, “Yeah doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ.”

Paul had tried to live by the law, and for the most part he was very good at it. He’d tried to inforce the law on others, and he made quite an impact there to. But no matter what he did, until grace came into place in his life, all his work was nothing. He said it was like dung… aka crap. He’d pulled and pulled against the reins, he’d had others pull against his reins, but there came a day when God took the reins and Paul was no longer in control.

Praise God for grace! Even on days like today when I’m ready to kill people. When like Jeremiah I’ve prayed God’s judgement would reign down on someone, I’ve heard… be grateful for your own grace Shari, you need it too. Stop pulling on the reins… just let me lead you to the water to drink. And then we’ll see where this journey goes from there.

Don’t Take Grace For Granted

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When we read the bible, we often times read it as if it’s a homework assignment from the Lord and we really want to go outside and play, but we have to get this done first. We treat attending church much the same way. Rather than, understanding that it’s the very Word of God, the One Whom we long to see and hear, but we’d rather it be in person than through the means He’s given us… which is His book. Like the children of Israel, we forget how Holy God is.

And while I totally get that Jesus came from Heaven and walked as a man, and made a way through His death, resurrection and the gift of the Holy Spirit for us to have constant communion with Him in a much less formal way than that of the Jewish religion, it still does not take away how Holy He is. But we forget.

This came to my attention in a recent teen class on one of those nights where I just couldn’t get a handle on their attention. I had brought in instruments in hopes of worshiping the Lord in song but their attention strayed more toward Led Zepplin and The Eagles. And while I’ve been known croon a tune or two of some old favs of my past, I wanted their focus on worship. So, tonight as I prepare for my midweek teen class, my heart is heavy. It’s broken for God because not only the children but we too have forgotten how Holy God is and that His house is a special place. I hope that in teaching this lesson about the Song of Moses, my kids will understand why I love praise and worship music, and why our time together in His word and in His house isn’t just another Wednesday night. But it’s special to God and it’s special to me.

I hate going into one of those nostalgic “back in the olden days” modes, but there’s something different in the church today than there was when I was a kid, and it’s not for the better. While we’ve contemporized many things that make services more “user friendly” (which I agree with) we also draw a fine line between play time and understanding Who’s presence we’re in if we’re not careful. We want kids and adults alike to enjoy their time in God’s house, but we shouldn’t forget that it’s God’s house.

I was in a service many years ago where the Holy Spirit was so heavy during a communion service that someone kicked their shoes off before approaching the altar because it felt like such holy ground. Those times have been rare. I don’t expect it every service because I think we’d take those times for granted if they were there all the time. But I do expect to feel the Holy Spirit moving in me every service, or something is wrong and it’s usually with me. I want the youth in my department to feel that Presence in the church. I want them to understand that the God we serve, the One that loves to laugh and play is also the Creator of the earth and the same God that in Old Testament times would wipe people off the face of the earth for the behavior that we show towards Him today.

Grace shouldn’t be taken for granted.

I think by the time Moses had lead the children of Israel through the wilderness forty years he had just about had enough. They’d whined and murmured, turned their back on God to worship a cow and drove Moses into a fit of anger that kept him out of the Promised Land. Can I get a witness that if he were here today he’d sing that song in Deuteronomy 32 again.

1 Give ear, O ye heavens, and I will speak; and hear, O earth, the words of my mouth.

2 My doctrine shall drop as the rain, my speech shall distil as the dew, as the small rain upon the tender herb, and as the showers upon the grass:

3 Because I will publish the name of the Lord: ascribe ye greatness unto our God.

4 He is the Rock, His work is perfect: for all His ways are judgment: a God of truth and without iniquity, just and right is He.

5 They have corrupted themselves, their spot is not the spot of his children: they are a perverse and crooked generation.

6 Do ye thus requite the Lord, O foolish people and unwise? Is not He thy father that hath bought thee?http://www.fggam.org/wp-admin/ Hath He not made thee, and established thee?

7 Remember the days of old, consider the years of my generation: ask they father, and will he will shew thee; thy elders, and they will tell thee.

Moses went all nostalgic on them as well! He began his song as many contemporary worshipers do today with the song “How Great is Our God!”

And oh my goodness, how great is He! We sing the words and the Holy Spirit moves through us but no sooner is the last word sung, and we’re back into the flesh again. Or is it just me?

By the time Moses had gotten to the fifth line of the song, it was no longer a happy little tune, it was more like “You Ain’t nothing but a Hounddog.” And that theme continued throughout the song until He closes it with the promise of Grace in verse 43

Rejoice, O ye nations, with His people: for He will avenge the blood of His servants, and will render vengeance to His adversaries, and will be merciful unto His land, and to His people.

O we love that verse! That’s when the rubber meets the road for the enemies of God’s people! But we’re not too far from the behavior of the enemies of God today, be it we’re covered by grace and they are not. We love grace! But we forget that the mirror of grace is the holiness of God.

So what am I trying to point out?

God is Holy… don’t make light of Him.

God’s house is sacred… walk in like it’s a big deal.

God’s Word being taught is divinely inspired… listen like its God… because it is.

Don’t take grace for granted.