GRACE UPON GRACE

The reading that I will be sharing today was obtained from a devotional that I read in 2016. The only reason I am certain it was in 2016 is that I saved it to my documents, and that’s the date my computer tells me that I saved it on.

I am not sure what impact it had on me in June of 2016. But when I found it today, August 9th,2018, it was the Voice of My Savior speaking not only into my current situation, but speaking directly to ME, in the midst of my current situation.

As it has blessed me today, I pray that the timing of it, blesses a listener today as well.

The reading:

Can a sinner be turned into a saint? Can a twisted life be made right? There is only one appropriate answer— “O Lord God, You know” (Ezekiel 37:3). Never forge ahead with your religious common sense and say, “Oh, yes, with just a little more Bible reading, devotional time, and prayer, I see how it can be done.”

It is much easier to do something than to trust in God; we see the activity and mistake panic for inspiration. That is why we see so few fellow workers with God, yet so many people working for God. We would much rather work for God than believe in Him. Do I really believe that God will do in me what I cannot do? The degree of hopelessness I have for others comes from never realizing that God has done anything for me. Is my own personal experience such a wonderful realization of God’s power and might that I can never have a sense of hopelessness for anyone else I see? Has any spiritual work been accomplished in me at all? The degree of panic activity in my life is equal to the degree of my lack of personal spiritual experience.

“Behold, O My people, I will open your graves…” (Ezekiel 37:12).

When God wants to show you what human nature is like separated from Himself, He shows it to you in yourself. If the Spirit of God has ever given you a vision of what you are apart from the grace of God (and He will only do this when His Spirit is at work in you), then you know that in reality there is no criminal half as bad as you yourself could be without His grace. My “grave” has been opened by God and “I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells” (Romans 7:18). God’s Spirit continually reveals to His children what human nature is like apart from His grace.

The grace you had yesterday will not be sufficient for today. Grace is the overflowing favor of God, and you can always count on it being available to draw upon as needed. “…in much patience, in tribulations, in needs, in distresses”— that is where our patience is tested (2 Corinthians 6:4).

Are you failing to rely on the grace of God there? Are you saying to yourself, “Oh well, I won’t count this time”? It is not a question of praying and asking God to help you— it is taking the grace of God now. We tend to make prayer the preparation for our service, yet it is never that in the Bible. Prayer is the practice of drawing on the grace of God. Don’t say, “I will endure this until I can get away and pray.” Pray now — draw on the grace of God in your moment of need. Prayer is the most normal and useful thing; it is not simply a reflex action of your devotion to God. We are very slow to learn to draw on God’s grace through prayer.

“…in stripes, in imprisonments, in tumults, in labors…” (2 Corinthians 6:5)— in all these things, display in your life a drawing on the grace of God, which will show evidence to yourself and to others that you are a miracle of His. Draw on His grace now, not later. The primary word in the spiritual vocabulary is now. Let circumstances take you where they will, but keep drawing on the grace of God in whatever condition you may find yourself. One of the greatest proofs that you are drawing on the grace of God is that you can be totally humiliated before others without displaying even the slightest trace of anything but His grace.

“…having nothing….” Never hold anything in reserve. Pour yourself out, giving the best that you have, and always be poor. Never be diplomatic and careful with the treasure God gives you. “…and yet possessing all things”— this is poverty triumphant (2 Corinthians 6:10).

………………………………………………………………………………………………………

The reason I say that this was my Savior speaking directly to Me in my situation is this:

I found myself deeply sad as I lay down to sleep last night. The truth is that deep down inside I was worried about a lot of “life stuff”, yet at the same time, my “conscious self” was saying “Stop worrying. Trust God.” But the fact that I knew that I was only trying to talk myself down, which, then, confirmed that I did not fully trust God – hence my lack of peace, made me very ashamed of myself. Which made me deeply sad.

So, I asked My Lord in prayer “Why can’t I allow myself – knowing what I know of you- To just be at peace and trust that You see everything? Why all the fear, anxiety and apprehension within me?”

Then, the still, small – but crystal clear – voice said to me “You still do not understand the concept of My Grace and that is why you cannot rest with assurance in Me.”

So, when I woke up this morning, it was as if He had put some breath of simplification into me. My prayer, which I now chose to also wear as my disposition today was: “Lord, you know what this day will bring. I do not. I surrender the Temple that is Me to You today. I will receive this day, as it presents itself, in You. I am a naturally fearful, anxious and apprehensive person, but in You there is no fear, anxiety or apprehension. Therefore, whatever it is, when You bring me to it, I trust You to bring me through it.

 

For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me. And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” 2 Corinthians 12:8-9

 

Grace is nothing more than Walking In The Assurance that the Life of Christ within us is able to get us through every situation that tries to get us out of step with Him.

It is one thing to say that we trust God. It is another thing to receive life in the trust of God.

 For of His fullness we have all received, and grace upon grace.” John 1:16 NASB  

Therefore, He has given us grace upon grace. The over-abundance of the assurance that He is with us, and will move in us. If only we become less and allow him to become more in our lives.

“For the which cause I also suffer these things: nevertheless I am not ashamed: for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day.” (2 Timothy 1:12)

What is it that we have committed to The Lord? We have committed our lives to Him.

Not that we may work for Him, but that He may work in us and through us.

May all who believe, by the power of The Holy Spirit, continue to grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

 

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ALL OF OUR LIVING

Most of us are familiar with the bible story of “The Widow’s Mites.”

“ And Jesus sat over against the treasury, and beheld how the people cast money into the treasury: and many that were rich cast in much. And there came a certain poor widow, and she threw in two mites, which make a farthing. And he called unto him his disciples, and saith unto them, Verily I say unto you, That this poor widow hath cast more in, than all they which have cast into the treasury. For all they did cast in of their abundance; but she of her want did cast in all that she had, even all her living.”  Mark 3:43-44

The moral of the story has always been taught to be about giving. It is easy to give when one has an abundance. However, when one’s resources are not abundant, it becomes a tad more difficult to part with the little that one has. Jesus was teaching his disciples that this widow’s giving of her farthing was deemed more valuable than that of the rich people who gave more simply because they had more to give. The widow did not have an ample supply of funds. On the contrary, the two mites that she gave were all that she possessed. Yet, her faith motivated her to offer it. Therefore, Jesus, seeing the heart behind the offering deemed it more valuable than the heart behind the offering of those who gave simply because they had an abundance to give.

It is a timeless and valuable lesson. One that should remind us that when we make offering to the Lord, He sees the heart behind the offering. He sees the faith, the underlying motive. He cannot be deceived by quantity. He is, however, moved by the quality – the heart quality – of the offering.

Another thing struck me when I read this passage today.

Perhaps it was the particular words that were used. I am not sure. However, as I read them, they opened up another perspective that I believe is very important.

Verse 44 says, “For all they did cast in of their abundance; but she of her want did cast in all that she had, even all her living.”

As I stated before, this story is used, in most cases, to illustrate giving money. However, as I read the words “but she of her want…” and “did cast in all that she had, even all her living.” It became clear to me is that it was some pressing need in the widow’s heart that led her to the treasury that day. Her offering was not made to obey a law, or to be recognized. It was made in direct response to something that was pressing heavily on her heart. Therefore, she came that day to pour herself out. To lay herself bare before the Lord.

The “pressing” may have been a desire. It may even have been a show of thanks. Whatever it was, it moved her to reach out to the Lord with her everything. “Even all her living.”

Let us not even think about money for a moment.

How often do we, in our want of God or our want from God, give all that we have? How do we allow ourselves to be broken down, to the point of physical, emotional and psychological helplessness because God has revealed to us in a “pressing of our spirit” that we are not right with Him?

We may say that we do when we pray. However, where we often (either during church service or personal prayer time) may lose ourselves in prayer, once it’s over, we get up and resume our lives as usual.

However, compare it to the offering of the two mites. Remember, a widow back in those times was a helpless person. She was at the mercy of whomever would provide for her financially and physically because she no longer had a husband. Meaning, since the person, by law, who was legally responsible to provide for her was no longer there, she was alone and without means unless someone else stepped up to provide for her. Therefore, when the widow put in those two mites, she no longer had any money. She put in all she had, and now, she had nothing.

There was no life as usual with the widow that day. She gave it all, “Even all her living.”

The Lord is telling us here that it is the giving of all of our living that He seeks from us.

In Christianity today, it is almost as if the only reason that we seek Christ is to make our life – as we want and desire it to be – better.

But we are still in charge of that life.

We “call the shots”. We envision how the life should turn out and every course of action we take is to ensure that our life visions come to fruition.

But what Jesus wants is for us to give up our lives!

He wants us to take “All of our living” and freely offer it up to Him.

He wants the “pressing” of His Spirit (that, if we are paying attention, reveals to us that we are not right with Him) to stir up a want in us.

What is this “want”?  The “want” is Jesus, Himself!  His very Life!

Jesus does not prompt us to desire an improvement of our lives…

He prompts us to desire a replacement of our lives!

Our life for His Life!  (Galatians 2:20)

The widow in this story represents an impoverished spirit. A spirit that has come to the realization that they have no physical provider. A spirit that has realized that God is the only true provider and it was this realization that manifested as the “want” of the widow.

The widow did not know what was going to happen to her after that moment. But the passage tells us that because Jesus saw and acknowledged the heart of her offering, He was going to take care of her.

Do we have that faith?

Do we have the faith to offer all of our impoverished lives to Him, for the want of Him?

Or would we rather pray for an overabundance first? Then from that overabundance we make an offering. Giving Him only a part of ourselves.

Brethren, as long as we still look upon our lives as being “adequate” or “not that bad” or simply in the need of a “sprucing up”, we will never have the impoverished spirit that the widow represents here.

Jesus wants us, by the enlightenment of His Spirit, to see that in our natural lives, we are as poor widows.

He then wants us to come, driven by the “want” of the better life that Life in Christ has to offer, and offer ‘’all that we have, even all of our living.”

As He saw and acknowledged the widow, He will see and acknowledge us!

He will then establish Himself in our lives as our Husband and our Provider. He will be there constantly to satisfy our every need. As He has promised us that he would.

May we, by His Spirit, continue to grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

 

RECEIVE YOUR DELIVERANCE

“And Moses said unto the people, Fear ye not, stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord, which he will shew to you to day: for the Egyptians whom ye have seen to day, ye shall see them again no more for ever. The Lord shall fight for you, and ye shall hold your peace.” Exodus 14:13-14

The passage above is not only a very well known one, it is a very comforting one. It is used as a battle cry of sorts for the Christians who proclaim it when they are going through challenging times. It reminds us of not only who our God is, but also of what he is able and willing to do for us when we are “hard pressed on all sides”.

This week, the Lord opened up this passage to my understanding in a very personal way.

The passage, as it is written above, is in the King James Version.  However,  many other versions of the bible write it as:

“Moses answered the people, “Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today. The Egyptians you see today you will never see again. The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.” NIV

“And Moses said to the people, “Fear not, stand firm, and see the salvation of the Lord, which he will work for you today; for the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall never see again. The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to be still.” RSV

“But Moses told the people, “Don’t be afraid. Just stand still and watch the Lord rescue you today. The Egyptians you see today will never be seen again. The Lord himself will fight for you. Just stay calm.” NLT

While these versions say “The Lord will fight for you, you need only be still/stay calm”, the KJV states “The Lord shall fight for you and ye shall hold your peace.”

This message is not a comparison of bible translations. When The Lord sent me to this passage, the 3 versions that quote verse 14 as saying  “just be still” were not in line with the message He was giving me. However, when I read the KJV, it all just made perfect sense.

I personally struggle with fighting back when I feel I’m being verbally  attacked. Whenever I am or feel accused, I vehemently fight back by defending myself and it almost always leaves me feeling wretched,  spent and very angry.

It has been a continuous prayer of mine, that the Lord make me, so that I am not affected by what people say to me. It has been a life long struggle, and the older I get, the more it wears on me. As I am  growing in Christ, The Holy Spirit has made me aware that this self defense  mechanism of mine is not a trait that is pleasing to the Lord.  But I just can’t help it. When I’m verbally attacked or provoked,  I engage in the discord by not only defending myself, but mounting a counter-attack on whomever I believe is attacking me.

So it finally got to a breaking point where I confessed to God my bondage to this trait. I was enslaved by it, and I prayed “Lord, I can’t break this chain of bondage…but YOU CAN!

That was when The Spirit sent me to Exodus 14.

Why I say that the KJV of these verses spoke to my dilemma over the others is this:

What does the term ” hold your peace” translate to? It means “to keep silent; to say nothing”. In my dilemma; my challenge, my struggle; that is what my issue has been. Not responding. Not speaking . Not engaging verbally. My struggle has been resisting the indignation that rises within me when I feel that I’m being attacked, or bullied or oppressed.

Therefore,  when the Word of God, brought to Life by His Spirit, tells Me to “Stand still and see the salvation of The Lord. That this “oppressor” (this tyranny of Satan that has had such a hold on me all my life and I could not “change it” by my own power or free myself from it’s chains that bound me) which I see today, I will see it no more!” This bondage; the enslavement;  the powerlessness; “today” God says, “I will set you free! I will deliver you!”

He then sealed it; spoke to my particular condition; and said “I will fight for you AND you will hold your peace.” Meaning, He will fight for me and I will no longer have to fight for myself; defend myself;  rescue myself;  be my own advocate.

I can remain silent under attack, with the ABSOLUTE ASSURANCE that if I trust Him and obey Him, He will fight for me and I won’t have to do a thing!

What a glorious deliverance!

Brethren, is that not all The Lord asks of us? To hand over our fears, anxieties,  worries, concerns over to Him?

Because where we cannot deliver ourselves from these things, HE is more than able to deliver us!

If only we will just trust Him and obey Him.

Think of the story about the woman with an issue of blood for 12 years that is referenced in the gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke. We apply this parable when we are looking for healing from physical infirmities.

But does it really apply to physical infirmities alone?

We all have habitual “issues” of one type or another. That we have had all our lives. Traits that we just accept are alright simply because we have always been that way.

Yet, the whole premise of being born again is that “I am a new creation. Old things have passed away…”. By “old things”, Jesus is referring to all those things in us and of us that are of the carnal nature –which the bible says “is enmity against God”.

If these traits do not exemplify love (the 1st Corinthians 13 definition of love) then they don’t glorify God. If they don’t glorify God, then how can we not accept that we need to be rid of them.

But since they are a very natural part of who and how we are, then as the woman with the issue of blood was desperate to be healed, we should be desperate to be healed of our “issues” as well.

2 Corinthians 3:17 says:

Now the Lord is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.

And John 8:36 says:

If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.

Our liberty is not unto the flesh to do as we please, as the Apostle Paul said in Galatians,  but when the grace of God reveals to us through the Holy Spirit, where in ourselves – our personalities, our ways , our habits, our mindsets, our thinking, our understanding, what we argue for, what we insist on, what we can’t let go of – we are in bondage – enslaved to carnality – the same grace of God, in Christ Jesus, where we now lay our whole selves at His feet acknowledging how we are powerless to change or free ourselves – saves us. He then says to us, just as He said to the Israelites through Moses “Fear ye not, stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord, which I will shew to you to day: for the Oppression whom ye have seen to day, ye shall see them again no more for ever.The Lord shall fight for you, and ye shall hold your peace.”

What a blessed gift to enter into the relief of God. Where we no longer have to be afraid or enslaved. He will fight for us, and we will be at peace.

Remain encouraged,  brethren. Remain steadfast. Remain faithful to Him. For He has promised that He will never leave us nor forsake us, and God is not a man that He should lie.  He watches over His Word to perform it!

May we continue to grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

WORK OUT YOUR OWN SALVATION

 

An old friend and schoolmate recently passed away, after a long and brave fight with a very serious illness. She would have turned 40 this July.

She was very open about her illness; using FaceBook as her primary medium. She shared her struggles with the illness, and other very personal aspects of her life such as a failed marriage and incidents of some friends and family members turning away from her  with stories, experiences, encounters and very graphic photographs. And for all the criticism that she received for being that “open” about her life: the good, the bad and the ugly: she never wavered. She consistently put herself out there. But, in addition to the front row seats that she gave everyone concerning her personal struggles, she was also very  open, upfront and extremely unapologetic about a very important aspect of her life: her faith in God.

She often expressed in her Facebook posts that people would comment negatively about how every other word out of her mouth was “Jesus, Jesus” all the time. She in turn would ask those people why should she not profess the name of the only One, who in light of the physical ordeals that she was facing, still gave her something to look forward to; still give her something to draw strength from; still give her something that put a peace in her heart that no husband, parent, friend or doctor could. Why would she not use every living breath to proclaim His name and His goodness and mercy upon her life?

A lot of us run to God when the going gets rough. But we run away when it seems that despite our being with Him, things don’t seem to be improving. I’m certain that a lot of people must have said “all this God that she’s proclaiming, yet, she remains ill…”

If you are of that mindset that only easy  things come to the believer, then you have sorely missed the mark. Christ suffered to open the way of salvation for us, therefore EVERY BELIEVER will suffer in one way or another.

I’m not saying that everyone will suffer illness, or imprisonment or some tortuous act, I’m saying, as the bible explicitly states that :

 Every man’s work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is.” 1 Corinthians 3:13

In other words, what you claim to be your foundation; what you claim to be your faith; will be tested!

It could be tested by  your spouse or significant other, by your friends, by your family, by decisions that you will be faced with, by situations that will confront you, by things in the open, by things behind closed doors, etc. But we will all face that test. Most likely more than once in our lifetime, and if we are still worried about whether people believe that we say “Jesus, Jesus” too much, then we need to  brace ourselves, because we will be in for a very rude awakening.

Philippians 2:12 says: “Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.”

Get to know Jesus for yourself!

Open your bible & look into these promises that God has made on your behalf and ask Him to show you how you can walk in them.

We can go on for days criticizing pastors that buy jets and engage in practices that we are disapproving of, but don’t make that your obsession because at the end of the day, that pastor has God to answer to, and guess what? So do you!

So work out YOUR salvation. Get on the Jesus bandwagon. Not so that you can speak Christianese, or have the ability spew bible verses from memory. But that you may understand the difference between knowing about Jesus Christ, and knowing Jesus Christ.

I don’t know what my friend’s faults and shortcomings may have been. As with anyone else, she was human and I am certain, imperfect. But what I do know is that her bravery during her illness; her unwavering devotion to God during her illness; brought ME a little closer to Him. She showed me a true to life example of “ But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry.”(2 Timothy 4:5). She made me come to the realization that if someone who is going through so many things that to the world are considered awful, yet, she evangelizes for Christ the way that she does, what excuse could I, who by His divine grace has not had to suffer anything even remotely close to that, possibly have?

Deuteronomy 4:29 says:

“But if from thence thou shalt seek the Lord thy God, thou shalt find him, if thou seek him with all thy heart and with all thy soul.”

We aren’t promised tomorrow, brethren, so let us seek the Lord today. Let us desire to deepen and strengthen our existing relationship with Him today. Christ has never turned down anyone that has opened their heart to Him and invited Him in.

 Now unto him that is able to keep us from falling, and to present us faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy. To the only wise God our Savior, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen.

Share your thoughts that you might encourage your brethren.

In Christ,

The handmaid at His feet

 

 

 

THE TIME OF YOUR DELIVERANCE

Exodus 2:23-25 reads “Now it happened in the process of time that the king of Egypt died. Then the children of Israel groaned because of the bondage, and they cried out; and their cry came up to God because of the bondage. So God heard their groaning, and God remembered His covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob. And God looked upon the children of Israel, and God acknowledged them.”

When I read this passage the first time, I wondered why it read “God remembered His covenant…”

My first thought was was that the word “remembered” seemed a bit odd to be used in conjunction with God as it somehow implied that He had forgotten.

But since we’re talking about God here, then we know that cannot be true. God forgets nothing.

Then in that same Exodus. Chapter 3 verse 7 “And the Lord said: “I have surely seen the oppression of My people who are in Egypt, and have heard their cry because of their taskmasters, for I know their sorrows.”

Again, knowing God to be all knowing, we know that it wasn’t at that moment when He was talking to Moses that He saw the affliction of the Israelites for the first time.

So I wondered, why all these references that gave the appearance of ‘recent discoveries’.

Well, the answer to that question was in the very next verse.

“So I have come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians, and to bring them up from that land to a good and large land, to a land flowing with milk and honey.” (Exodus 3:8)

The Lord did not suddenly remember Israel. The Lord did not suddenly hear their cry after all these years. The act of calling to remembrance was not for the Lords benefit. It was for ours. The Israelites, and we who are reading/hearing the scripture today. This call to remembrance simply denoted that it was now time for the deliverance to begin.

In that verse 8, the Lord said “ So I have come down to deliver them…”

Up until that point, the Israelites had to endure the suffering that they were enduring. They had to pass through that time of trial & tribulation. The time for deliverance had not come yet. But when it was time, The Lord “came down”, through Moses, to deliver them out of their bondage.

Brethren, our God is a God of timing. He does His work according to His perfect time table. This story of the deliverance of Israel out of Egypt, and the other stories of deliverance in the bible serve to do one thing for we believers. They serve to remind us that God hears the cry of His people. But He will move ONLY at the apportioned time.

Ecclesiastes 3:11 says “He has made everything beautiful in its time”.

We are required to seek God in prayer. We are required to call on Him in times of trials and hardship. But we also have to learn the ways of this God through the scriptures that he has provided for our benefit to know that He moves according to His perfect plan for us. We just have to remain strong in Him. Trust and believe in His promises and believe that He will move on our behalf at the appropriate time.

Keep in mind, when the Lord did lead the Israelites out of captivity; inasmuch as that served as their deliverance out of Egypt, the end of their captivity, it was just the beginning of their journey to the promised land. A journey that took 40 years! A journey that was filled with just as many trials and tribulations. But even along the way, through the miracles that the Lord performed through Moses on their behalf, He continued to assure the people that He was still with them.

So, when we get delivered out of a particular situation, that doesn’t mean that we have necessarily arrived at our promised land. It simply marks another phase of our journey in life, en-route to eternal salvation.

There will be trials, brethren. At every phase of the journey. But, there will always be deliverance! Because it is the God who delivers us out of the captivity that protects us along our journey. He will cause plagues will befall those that oppress us and seek to hold us captive! Red Seas will be parted when we are cornered! Manna will fall from heaven and quail will be provided to feed us when we are hungry! Water will come forth from the rock to revive us when we are thirsty!

The Lord will continue to deliver those who remain faithful to Him at every turn in their journeys. We just have to remain faithful. We must continue to trust. God will deliver us. We have to remain obedient to the teachings of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Because there is a price to pay for disobedience and rebellion. Just as was in the case of the same Israelites, because after a 40 year through the wilderness, despite all the ways that God proved to them that He was with them, most of them did not make it into the promised land. Because they were not obedient. Because they did not trust in Him. Because they did not wait for their deliverance.

Wait patiently and faithfully for your deliverance. For when it is time, the Lord will surely bring it about.

Share your thoughts that you might encourage your brethren.

In Christ,
The handmaid at His feet.