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Encouragement in Difficult Times

difficult places

We don’t have to be miserable, frustrated and unhappy in difficult places.    If you and I have been in the world very long, we’ve learned there are very    few days that go exactly the way we’d like them to go. There always seem to    be different things happening that can affect our plans. Until we learn that our    joy can’t be based on our circumstances, we’re going to have nothing    but what I call a “yo-yo” experience, which is up and down, up and down,    up and down. We have to find a way to stay happy, even when our circumstances don’t    suit us or we don’t get a breakthrough as quickly as we’d like–or when    people around us aren’t what we’d like them to be or they’re frustrating    us or there’s disappointment.   

 

  God is never going to put us into a situation or permit us to be in one, without    giving us the ability to be in it with joy. I believe God makes His grace available    to us each and every day. If God asks us to stay in a situation, then He is going    to give us a special grace, for a special season, to experience His peace and joy    despite the circumstances. It’s the kind of grace that causes other people    to look at us and think, I’m just amazed you are able to do this and still    have so much joy and peace. This is how it should be instead of us telling    them that we just don’t think we can make it.

Strategy #1: Let Your Attitude Speak

    As Christians, I believe the attitude we live with and the level of joy, peace and    stability seen in our life is what will speak to the people around us much more    than if we try to preach to them. It’s about how we live our life in front    of them, especially when things are not going perfectly for us all the time.   
    For people in places right now who are saying, “I’m staying in the situation    because I believe it’s what God wants me to do, but I’m so miserable,    frustrated and unhappy,” there’s good news. The good news is that God    has provided a way for us to deal with frustration– His grace. I know many times    we hear that grace is God’s riches at Christ‘s expense, and that’s    a good definition. But to be honest, it’s just a little bit too spiritual    for me. I need something that’s going to put it into a practical format for    me. I like to define grace as “God’s power to help us do whatever it    is we need to do.”

Strategy #2: Receive Power through God’s Grace

    Grace is power. It’s power, power, power! It’s God’s power    we receive by the grace of God through faith. Everything comes to us through faith,    which God also gives us.   
    Romans 12:3 says, …God has allotted to each a measure of faith (NASB). We    need to ask ourselves, “What am I doing with my faith?” Are we putting    our faith in ourselves? Are we trying to fix things ourselves by trying to change    ourselves or our family?  Or trying to get our boss’s attention so we    can make more money and get a promotion? If so, that’s not grace. It’s    our own works.
    But when we release our faith and trust God to do what we can’t do, we’re    putting our faith in Him. Then the grace–which is God’s power–comes through    the channel of faith and enables us to do what will just amaze us and other people.   
    Here’s my longer definition of grace: It’s God’s power coming    to us freely–meaning it doesn’t cost us anything other than just putting our    faith in God, enabling us to do with ease what we could never do on our own with    any amount of struggle and effort.

Strategy #3: Rely on God

    I believe every time we feel frustration, it means we’ve really stopped relying    on God, leaning on Him and receiving His grace and are trying to make something    happen our own way. Understanding this really helped me to see that I spent a lot    of time being frustrated. To help myself, I had some signs made to put up around    my house that said things like, “Works of the flesh equal frustration.”    Every time I became frustrated, the signs helped me remember I had tried to become    Holy Spirit Junior.  When I try to work things out on my own, in essence I’m    saying, “Okay, God, I appreciate Your being around, but watch me do    this.”   
    Most of us have a problem with an independent spirit. We have difficulty depending    on God for everything. Grace is not only the power for salvation; it’s the    victory we need every single day of our life. 
    In Galatians 2, the Bible says that if we receive salvation by grace, we shouldn’t    think we’re going to reach perfection by depending on our flesh. It’s    like thinking that God saves us and helps us when we’re at the end of ourselves    and ready to give up, then just kind of throws us the ball and says, “Okay,    now you go make the touchdown.”

Strategy #4: Keep Walking

    The same way we receive Christ is the same way we are supposed to live each day    of our life–in total, complete dependence on Him. Grace is like light. But what    we tend to do a lot of the time is fight with darkness, when all we need to do is    just run to the light. What’s the purpose of gathering in the dark, banging    into each other, struggling with the darkness and trying to punch it out, when all    we have to do is turn on a switch? The minute the light comes on, it swallows up    the darkness.
    Too often we struggle with ourselves and our weaknesses, trying to change, spending    time being mad about things in our life. But what we really need to do is just get    more light into the situation.   
    Galatians 5:16 urges us to walk and live [habitually] in the [Holy] Spirit…then    you will certainly not gratify the cravings and desires of the flesh…. Notice    how it doesn’t say “conquer the flesh so you can walk in the Spirit.”   
    What we need to do is walk in the Spirit. When we concentrate on walking in the    Spirit, we won’t fulfill the lust of the flesh because we will be focused    on God, His goodness, our relationship with Him, and His love for us. Other things    will just dissipate because of the power of God in our life. Grace is power–plain    and simple. It’s the power of God available to us in whatever amount we need.

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What is God’s Grace Exactly?

 

gods grace2

Tonight this blog came about by talking to my husband about a certain “weakness” that really does need strengthening in me.  I have the tendency for people who are Christians and have been for years who still shun the truth of God‘s Word to get me really miffed.  This does more than gets under my skin a little bit.  Well, to make a long story short, I, yes the “gracious” me as you all know me, stirred up a bit of controversy because I did tell the truth about something but I did it a bit harshly.  I tried telling it gently for a long period of time, but for what reason, I am not sure why,  I finally let it fly at a person who just would not “let go and let God”.  As I talked to my husband about how unfair this situation was to me he gave me a really great pep talk that I needed and I am sure will need again!  But, I am determined to learn and I will!  This is what he told me.

Whenever Paul was experiencing his issues of being buffeted by satan, God said, “My grace is sufficient for you.”  In Paul’s weakness he was made strong by God’s grace.  In other words, grace is much more than just our children’s church definition of “unmerited favor“.  It is also undeserved blessing, free gifts.   The Greek for grace comes from the words joy and rejoicing.  In other words,  we have reason or “cause to rejoice” because God’s grace is all-sufficient for every area of our life.  Paul told Timothy to be strengthened by the grace of God in the midst of his trials and tests.   In 2 Corinthians Paul tells the Corinthian church that God’s grace causes us to have all-sufficiency in all things.  That all- sufficiency  in all things encompasses ALL THINGS, more than just in giving.  Like in Paul’s situation and in Timothy’s situation, as well as our situations.   In other words, God’s all-encompassing grace that provided all sufficiency in all things causes us that are mature in Christ TO REJOICE in whatever situation we face! 

I have to remember that the thing that buffets me, or is a thorn in my flesh are people who should know better than to beg God and plead with Him to answer their prayers and I need to realize they are always going to exist.  In my contact with them, I cannot take on their unwillingness to use their authority in the name of Jesus, and the Word of God.  I have to be responsible, however, to love them and pray that one day the truth of God’s Word will become Spirit and life to them. I must be patient and until it becomes a true revelation!! 

Blessings, dear reader!  I will see you soon!


Give Grace to Others As God Has Given it to You!

But he gives us even more grace to stand against such evil desires. As the Scriptures say, “God opposes the proud  but favors the humble.”  James 4:6

In order to understand how to give grace, we must first know what grace actually is to God.  Let’s look at the Hebrew and Greek definition of “grace”.  In the Hebrew it means “favor, grace, graciousness, kindness, beauty, pleasantness, charm, attractiveness, loveliness, affectionate regard.”  The Greek meaning is, “causes rejoicing, it is the word for God’s grace as extended to sinful man.  It signifies unmerited favor, undeserved blessing, a free gift.”  Grace is what abounds to us when we are wrong, have sinned, have missed the mark with God.  Thank God for grace.

God expects us to extend this same grace to others as He has extended it to us.  There is a parable of two debtors.  It is found in Luke 7:36-47 NLT:

36 One of the Pharisees asked Jesus to have dinner with him, so Jesus went to his home and sat down to eat.[a] 37 When a certain immoral woman from that city heard he was eating there, she brought a beautiful alabaster jar filled with expensive perfume. 38 Then she knelt behind him at his feet, weeping. Her tears fell on his feet, and she wiped them off with her hair. Then she kept kissing his feet and putting perfume on them.

39 When the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would know what kind of woman is touching him. She’s a sinner!”

40 Then Jesus answered his thoughts. “Simon,” he said to the Pharisee, “I have something to say to you.”

“Go ahead, Teacher,” Simon replied.

41 Then Jesus told him this story: “A man loaned money to two people—500 pieces of silver[b] to one and 50 pieces to the other. 42 But neither of them could repay him, so he kindly forgave them both, canceling their debts. Who do you suppose loved him more after that?”

43 Simon answered, “I suppose the one for whom he canceled the larger debt.”

“That’s right,” Jesus said. 44 Then he turned to the woman and said to Simon, “Look at this woman kneeling here. When I entered your home, you didn’t offer me water to wash the dust from my feet, but she has washed them with her tears and wiped them with her hair. 45 You didn’t greet me with a kiss, but from the time I first came in, she has not stopped kissing my feet. 46 You neglected the courtesy of olive oil to anoint my head, but she has anointed my feet with rare perfume.

47 “I tell you, her sins—and they are many—have been forgiven, so she has shown me much love. But a person who is forgiven little shows only little love.” 48 Then Jesus said to the woman, “Your sins are forgiven.”

Jesus extended grace to all who asked forgiveness.  We are to do the same.  This week a woman had misunderstood something a friend for over 10 years had done.  Instead of the woman going to her friend and asking what the facts were, she cut off their friendship on assumptions.  This friend had been through so much with this lady.  She had been there for her when no one else was.  She had loved her as a sister.  She had been her friend when no one else would be.  Instead of going to the woman to get the story of what had happened, she cut her totally off.  When the friend realized what had happened she apologized profusely only to be told her season for friendship “was up” and she was done with her.  How very sad for both of these women.  But I ask you, dear reader, which woman will have to answer to God for this misunderstanding and to which will grace be extended?

Haven’t we all missed the mark?  Haven’t we all wronged someone at some point?  Haven’t we all sinned?   But what does Jesus say about this to Peter when asked how often should a brother/sister be forgiven?  Seven times in one day?  No, but seven times seventy!  If God has covered our missteps with such abundant grace, and we fail to do the same for others we will face consequences in so doing!

According to our opening scripture who gives grace and receives grace?  The humble.  According to the same scripture who is refused abundant grace or help in time of need?  The proud!  No wonder the Bible says, Pride goes before destruction,  and haughtiness before a fall.”  Proverbs 16:18   

Be forgiving and gracious to one another, my dear reader!  The consequences are too high a price to pay to not be Christ like in every way!  You never know when you will need that bridge you burned, just to turn and not have it there!  Blessings to you, dear reader!  See you next time!


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