Growing in grace

If you haven’t noticed, on Fridays I’m taking time to post short reflections or prayers. Hopefully you are encouraged by them. This is a prayer from the¬†Valley of Vision. It would make a great Christmas gift for someone, or for yourself ūüôā

May you grow in God’s grace today. Blessings to you.

Spiritual Growth

“May I be consistent in conversation and conduct,

the same alone as in company, […]

May I never be satisfied with my present

spiritual progress, […]

May I never neglect what is necessary to constitute Christian character, […]

May I cultivate the expedient,

develop the lovely, adorn the Gospel,

recommend the religion of Jesus,”…

 

 

Grace upon grace,

April

 

 

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Immanuel

Love came down quietly, like through the backstage door.

Jesus chose a humble birth of lowly means to parents without money or status. He was delivered in a first century barn surrounded by stench and filth.

Christ became flesh, experiencing life as we do yet did not sin.

He appeared at the appointed Time in history to turn His kingdom upside down from the expectations of the world.

Taking on our humanity Jesus became ‘Immanuel’, “God with us”.

Always.

 

Grace upon grace,

April

it’s a mad, mad world. but you already knew that.

A billboard that I see each morning driving Jesse to school shows 3 women on a beach wearing bikinis. The slogan says “On December 3 their tops will come off”.

Another one along this same road boasts, “Your wife knows, and so does your girlfriend”.

These are obviously intended for shock value and I’m not quite sure what the selling point is, but the goal is to¬†make you look.

The problem with it is that we live in a culture that has no shame, no filter, no decency. One thought I had was, do these people have kids who put up those signs? 

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The world in 2018 continues to become godless and develop a¬†we don’t care¬†attitude,¬†do what you want¬†lifestyle . We’ve always known that, but it seems more direct than ever.

Angry mobs threaten individuals who they vehemently disagree with – in both political parties.

Brett Kavanaugh, a Supreme Court Justice nominee had his life dragged through the mud because of political agendas, more than the actual accusation.

Commercials subtly insert homosexual couples in ads to normalize it.

Voting chaos in mid-term elections.

Journalism and the media report with bias and behavioral outbursts.

 

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It makes me sick to my stomach because the world is bold in rejecting God, blinded by sin.

Yet there are three things we can take away from our current cultural climate that can help us stay faithful as Christians:

1. God will judge those who remain unrepentant.

Reading through the Old Testament minor prophets, the one thing that strikes me is the certainty of the prophecies. It’s not¬†if¬†but¬†when the Lord executes judgment. It sounds very fanatical and this is where the world mocks Christians (much like in the days of Noah) but it serves as a warning right now- a mercy, until its too late. The prophets were mostly foretelling of the fall of Jerusalem and exile that took place beginning in 597 B.C.

God is patient but swift to act when the appointed time comes.

“For the revelation awaits an appointed time; it speaks of the end and will not prove false. Though it linger, wait for it; it will certainly come and will not delay.” (Habakkuk 2:3)

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2. God will preserve His people because of His covenants.

In the days leading up to Babylonian captivity, God promised to leave a remnant of His people so they weren’t completely annihilated. One of the reasons for this was to preserve the line of Christ. Just as God provided physical deliverance for Israel, His plan was also to bring spiritual deliverance for humanity through Jesus.

“I will surely gather all of you, O Jacob; I will surely bring together the remnant of Israel. I will bring them together like sheep in a pen, like a flock in its pasture; the place will throng with people.

One who breaks open the way will go up before them; 

they will break through the gate¬†and go out. Their king will pass through before them, the Lord at their head.” (Micah 2:12-13)

3. We cannot stay neutral.

Because you are either a follower of Christ or a follower of Satan. Sure, you might not phrase it like that, but it comes down to where our allegiance lies. This isn’t a game or a fairy tale. The spiritual world is just as real as the couch you’re sitting on, reading this post.

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Jesus says in Revelation that we can’t be lukewarm (3:14-22). God says in Zephaniah that complacency is sin (1:12). I would propose to you that neutrality doesn’t even exist- it serves as a cover for not wanting to get mixed in. Because when you finally choose a side, it will cost you something. We in America have the current freedom to not experience physical persecution like other Christians around the world. I don’t fear for my life when I profess to follow Christ.

Maybe if I were bold and unashamed like the world is bold and unashamed of how they want to live it would cost me more. I’m thinking that from an eternal perspective this is how I should live.

But remember, God is with His Beloved, He is with us and not against His people. We have the Holy Spirit as our help and comforter. So we don’t have to live in fear, or despair the spiritual rebellion happening all around. He dispenses grace and strength we need for each day. God is hidden but present. He is Providentially¬†at work.

“He will keep you¬†strong to the end, so that you will be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.

God, who has called you into fellowship with His Son Jesus Christ our Lord, is faithful.”

1 Corinthians 1:8-9

Grace upon grace,

April

Love without End

God is Greater Than,

more Beautiful, Wonderful,  or Powerful

than I can fully understand.

He spoke Everything into existence,

faithful to hold all things together.

By His command I am at His mercy.

Yet this Almighty, Divine Lord also moved in Love, toward people who would disobey Him, reject His Son, and hate Him or anyone claiming to be His children.

But He also knew that some would not rebel forever- fellowship restored.

His Greatness consumed my insignificance and wrapped it in unending love.

 

Grace upon grace,

April

Because I’m difficult too

It’s funny how we tend to think of ourselves as “normal” and everyone else as quirky characters. If we could be on the outside looking in, we might see it a little differently. The people in our lives: friends, co-workers, family (especially the people who live with us) either refine or bless us. But there is no getting around that God uses our different personalities for us to personally apply truth each day.

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Bob Goff quote 

So I have a prayer for you and me as we head into today. Because whatever you do, I’m almost certain you’ll run into another human being which requires you to interact. If you’re like me, this can be challenging, but also a blessing. Usually when I have a perspective shift my attitude toward how I’ll view and treat others changes also. So here are words you might need to say back to the Father too.

 

Father, 

Today will be hard because there will be people in it.

Let me use those opportunities to be refined like Christ,

practicing self-control over my tongue and heart.

Help me to be gracious in speech, slow to anger, quick to listen, supernaturally loving the difficult or hurtful.

Protect my thoughts from comparison, envy, or self-righteous judgment.

I ask to have the freedom to show compassion and patience no matter how different the person might be.

Bring me to my knees in prayer when I think wrongly of someone else- pray for blessings toward them and not an ill will.

Grant me a humble spirit and a love for You that overflows into my everyday life. 

Let Jesus be the reflection when I look in the mirror.

You cover me in Your grace when I fail and rejoice in those small spiritual victories. 

Thank you for choosing me, loving me even when I’m difficult to love- help me do the same when I meet¬†another face today.

Grace upon grace,

April

the blessings of rain

It’s raining, so the window is cracked open to hear the steady rhythm. Sometimes the drops rush down so fast that the sky seems to be pouring out.

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Funny how we’re so self sufficient in modernity but still rely on the heavens to open up for something as simple, yet vital, like water.

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God is a Gardener not just to our souls but tends to even the basic physical needs too. No detail of our humanity and spirits is overlooked by the Sovereign Creator.

 

Grace upon grace,

April

How should Christians vote?

“I have revealed and saved and proclaimed-

I, and not some foreign god among you.

You are my witnesses,” declares the Lord,

“that I am God.

Yes, and from ancient days I am He.

No one can deliver out of my Hand.

When I act, who can reverse it?”

Isaiah 43:12-13

These are the words of the Lord. They are absolutely true and trustworthy.

 

God is the same God in 2018 as He was in 18 A.D. He does not “evolve” but is the Great I AM yesterday, today, into eternity. He always has been and will be.

Next week will be the mid-term elections. Whatever happens is under Sovereign Providence. We vote but we also pray and trust in the Lord. Because He is holding all things together.

God is at work and none can stop Him, not even the pits of hell.

Praise the Lord.

 

Grace upon grace,

April