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Posts Tagged ‘grace’

Several  years ago I began a New Year’s MORE and LESS practice.  A look back at the year just ending and forward to the year ahead—in conversation with God.

What were some attitudes/actions/activities that characterized my life this past year?  Which would I like to see LESS of, and what would I like to see MORE of?  Gratefully, I have seen change in most of these arenas.  Yet my list remains remarkably the same, adding or subtracting only a few each year.

2013-new_year_wallpaper_2013-8

I do set a few specific, measurable goals, as the life coaches say I should.  Those goals will often come out of these heart desires.  I know it is impossible to see significant change in so many areas.  These MORE and LESS statements, thus, really reflect the ongoing work I hope God keeps doing in me.  And they embody my commitment to cooperate with Him.  (more…)

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Amazing-Grace-christian-music-new-and-old-31985368-250-228You know the story.  John Newton was an insubordinate sailor in the British Navy.   He became involved in the horrific slave trade, but during a terrible storm one night, he surrendered his life to Christ.  He became an Anglican priest, a campaigner against slavery and a hymn writer.  His most famous hymn is, of course, “Amazing Grace.”

Certainly we—and many we love–need to receive this amazing grace.  And at this season, so many need to comprehend the reality of this grace.  Though our rebellion may not be so visible, so destructive, so “bad”  as “sinners” we know, we are also prodigals.  The words of this song bring tears, promote repentance, stimulate gratitude and provide hope.

May I ask you to go through the words of this song for yourself, asking God to speak to you through each phrase.  Let His grace flow into your heart and mind.  How does this grace impact your relationship with your gracious God?  And how does this grace affect your relationship with others in your life? (more…)

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I am a word geek.  I love words.  I can’t remember when I didn’t love words.  Word games.  Crossword puzzles.  Plays on words.  Silly rhymes.  I’ve met very few words I don’t like.

But there are so many words I love! These are just a few of them.

 

Family words

The first is surely my name.  Judy.  My family all just called me Judy.   No nicknames—that I know of.  And my husband always calls me Judy.  I use lots of endearing words for him, but he sticks to my name.  We all love to hear our name—it says we are known, accepted, maybe even treasured.

Oh how I love the word Mom.  My children use all variations (American versions): Mother, Mom, Mama, Mommy.  I answer to all.

And now my grandchildren have given me another wonderful name:  Jeedoo.  Music to a grandmother’s ears:  Jeedoo, tell us a story.

Sisters—I have three of them.  We are so different, but we enjoy each other.  We are about to embark on our biannual get together, this time in North Carolina.  When our mother died, we decided that, unless we were intentional, we might never see each other again.  So first we did Texas, then Colorado.  It’s good to make time for sisters.

Relationship words

Every parent spends years teaching children to say Please and Thank you.  Those little ones do it out of obedience, then habit.  And hopefully at some point from the heart, realizing that these polite words show respect to others.

Good job!  We love to hear that—especially from someone whose opinion matters.  When a parent or a teacher or a coach or a boss truthfully says these affirming words, we gain new confidence.  We believe we can do more, even anything we try.

I’m sorry and I forgive you, unfortunately, are often needed but too seldom heard.  But regret and sorrow for words or actions, when expressed sincerely, pave the way for healing and restoration.

I love you.  Oh the magic words!  Given to a child, offered to a friend, whispered to a lover.  Few words, genuinely spoken, bring more joy, hope, affirmation, contentment.  Surely we can say it more than we do. One of my greatest gifts is a husband who tells me he loves me many times a day.

God words

God is also very fond of words.  He spoke and the worlds were formed.  He wrote thousands of words in the Scriptures.  And He sent Jesus as the Word made flesh.

One of my favorite words from God is love.  His Word is filled with this word.  Over and over He declares His love for you and for me.  Then he proves it!  What amazing love!

Truth.  God’s love requires that He tell us the truth.  Sometimes that truth is uncomfortable, even unwanted.  But He assures us that His truth will set us free.

A God word I couldn’t live without is mercy.  I thought I would be further along by now, and maybe my sins aren’t so “big” as they once were.  But there they are,  day by day, reminding me of mercy purchased at such a high price.

And my favorite God word?  Surely it is grace.  The extravagant gift God lavishes on us, undeserved, abundant, even scandalous—I am so grateful.

Of course there are so many more.  Let me close with three more of my favorite words:  God bless you!

What about you?  What are some of your favorite words?

C2012 Judy Douglass

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Manna.

“What is it?” the children of Israel asked?  “Bread from Heaven,”  the Lord told them.

“It was white like coriander seed and tasted like wafers made with honey… the bread I gave you to eat in the wilderness when I brought you out of Egypt.” (Exodus 16:31-32)

I feel like I’ve been walking in the wilderness lately, and God has sent me bread from Heaven.  The encouraging, sustaining words from some of my praying friends are strengthening me in the journey.

May you be refreshed and strengthened with their holy sustenance:

You are not alone. You are an encouragement to many. This e-mail encouraged me and I will pray that you reap what you sow–a hundred fold.

Thank You Lord that You continue to hold us in Your loving arms through all of our valleys and mountaintop experiences.

Prayers continue and know that you have done all that you could and God has to do the rest as you rest in Him.

A mother’s heart feels the pain her child goes through.

His Grace is sufficient.  We are humans.  Relinquishment is required.

“…just as we must learn to obey God one choice at a time, we must also learn to trust God one circumstance at a time.  Trusting God is not a matter of my feelings but of my will….” by Jerry Bridges

Praying for peace and comfort with all that is feeling like a loss in the moment.  May the LORD do exceedingly, abundantly above all you could ask or think.  We serve a God of miracles.

The truth is, “old things have passed away. Behold, all things have become new.” In my life it is more like they are becoming new. Praying for (him) to walk in newness of life as he draws closer to the Comforter in his pain.

I know about control and struggle with it in many areas of my life.  Giving God total control of (my daughter) scared me… I finally understood that God wanted to change me too.  This wasn’t just about her.  Do I like going through the wilderness deeper and deeper and feeling like progress she made is all gone to waste?? NO….  Am I the same person I was 4 years ago? Thankfully, NO! …Do (her choices) keep me awake at night?? Very few nights, I am happy to say, because when I go back to my old habits of trying to manipulate and control the situation, I look at scriptures and sayings I have written down to remind myself that God has this!

May His goodness surprise you today!

What about you?  What manna has refreshed and sustained you?

c2012 Judy Douglass

Related articles:

A Wilderness Experience: Loving Prodigals, Release, & Rest

In the Wilderness: Words of Encouragement and Admonition

When Faith Falters: Relearning Rest

 

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Life includes plenty of pain.  Much of it comes from the realities of life in a fallen world:  illness, accidents, natural disasters, financial crashes…

Sadly, too often, our pain is caused by other people.  I am horrified at what people will choose to do to each other:  theft, lies, abuse, slavery, rape, sexual trafficking, torture…

But the most painful is usually that inflicted by those we love—and we think love us.  That pain is often unbearable, barely endured, deeply grieved, scarcely survived.

God’s Word has given me real help.  I may not be able to control the cause of my pain, but I can choose how I respond.

So here are some responses that have made a difference for me.

1.  Tell God the Truth

How do I feel about what this person has done to me?  God knows what is in my heart and mind, and He can handle my rawest emotions.  I tell Him the truth.

“Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. “ (John 4:23)

 2.  Thank God in the pain, the hurt, the person who has hurt me.

Thanking God helps to refocus my mind and heart.  It tells God that I know He is God and He is good.  And giving thanks opens the door for what God wants to do in the situation.

“…give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”  (1 Thessalonians 5:18)

(More on giving thanks: In All Things)

3.  Look for the good that God is doing.

Sometimes the good is hiding for a later time, but often I can see glimpses of positive results:  changes in my life or the life of the one who hurt me; insight into my past and my future; resolution of unhealed wounds; opportunities to encourage others.

“I will never stop doing good to them…” (Jeremiah 32:40)

4.  Forgive the one who hurt me.

Really?  Do they deserve to be forgiven?  Probably not.   But I’ve been given repeated admonitions to forgive and a powerful model.

“Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.” (Colossians 3:13)

“Jesus said, ‘Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.’” (Luke 23:34)

(Some help: A Prayer for Forgiving)

5.  Bless the person who hurt me.

Once again, God is clear in His impossible requirements.  He tells me to bless my enemies, and yes, even this one I love feels like an enemy when he hurts me.

My tendency is to strike out verbally, to accuse, to blame—to curse.  But God says to leave the consequences to Him—He is a much better justice maker than I am.  When I choose to bless, amazing things happens—my attitude begins to change, the person receives my blessing and that blessing invariably comes back to me.

Jesus:  “Bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.“   (Luke 6:28)

“Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing.” (1 Peter 3:9)       

(More on blessing:  Scattering Blessings) 

When I do these things, does the hurt go away?  Not usually.  But these responses open my heart and mind to receive the love and grace God wants to pour all over me.  And grace and love are powerful healers.

What about you?  How does God help you when you have been hurt by someone you love?                         

C2012 Judy Douglass

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This is the ninth and final in a weekly series of mini-devotionals on GRACE, which is the theme of the 2012 June 2 Worldwide Day of Prayer for Prodigals.

 

We have prayed for Jon over the years. He has been estranged, then reunited with his dad, Louis. He and his girlfriend had a baby. Then they moved back to where he had lived previously. He returned to drugs and alcohol.

One day, high on drugs, he drove erratically down the highway. And caused a crash in which a woman was killed. He will probably spend the rest of his life in prison.

Louis was devastated. How could this happen? Heartbroken. Is there no future for my son?

But days and weeks on his knees and in the Word, and Louis found peace. He writes:   “God’s majesty shrinks at no one’s behavior. Everything we know is for God. He uses every last thread of our lives. How he uses it? We only get to participate, not know exactly his will at any particular time… “

God’s grace was sufficient for Louis.

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” (2 Corinthians 12:9-10)

God’s grace is enough.

These brief nine devotionals have perhaps (hopefully) opened up some new aspects and understanding of God’s grace for you. We looked at some definitions of grace, at who qualifies—those with no alibi, at how amazing it is, and how grace stoops to serve. We considered the voice of grace, the forgiveness of grace, the scandal of grace, and the grace-full Father.

We have barely scratched the surface on the height and width and depth of God’s grace. I have not intended to be exhaustive on this incomprehensible topic. But there are a few more things I want to mention.

Grace is an undeserved free gift, undeserved favor, and undeserved love.

And it is more than enough for any person, circumstance, tragedy, need.

God’s grace has made His love and salvation and provision—everything He offers—available to us. There is a catch. In order to live in it, we must receive it. And he gives us a little understanding of who will be able to truly access and experience that grace:

Those who are humble.

But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says: “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” (James 4:6)

This truth is repeated several times, and it is the first step toward accepting God’s grace–to understand that you don’t deserve it.

But that grace is abundantly sufficient.

We are saved by grace

For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. (Ephesians 2:8-9)

God freely gives the grace that save us—we can not earn salvation. And it is that same freely given grace that will save our prodigals. Keeping the rules, doing the right things, not doing the wrong things—none of this will save us or them.

Only grace is sufficient to save us.

Grace enables good works

And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work. (2 Corinthians 9:8)

The good works, doing the right thing, not doing the wrong thing—these all matter and are desirable. But we can’t live that perfect life ourselves.

Only grace is enough to enable us to live like Jesus.

And today, when my son told me of another marriage conflict, my emotions took over. And at first I didn’t access that grace to speak kindly and to believe the best. Then God reminded me of what I had just been writing—the words above…

And His grace was more than enough.

What about you?  Where have you found God’s sufficient grace?

c2012 Judy Douglass

If you would like more information, to request prayer for a prodigal, or to join our full-of-grace community, please write to prayerforprodigalsatgmaildotcom with your questions or names, or for an invitation. June 2 is our Worldwide Day of Prayer for Prodigals.

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This is the eighth in a weekly series of mini-devotionals on GRACE, which is the theme of the 2012 June 2 Worldwide Day of Prayer for Prodigals.

If you have a prodigal, you know this story.  It’s called the Story of the Prodigal Son, but most of us have learned it is about two prodigal sons—the younger and the elder.  But really it’s about The Grace-full Father. (Luke 15:11-31)

A little synopsis, then personalization and application.

Here’s what the son did:

He shamed his father by asking for his inheritance—which is equal to wishing him to be dead.

He took a significant portion of his father’s livelihood.

He sinned extravagantly—which is the real meaning of “prodigal.”

He squandered all of it with wild living.

Then he despaired, repented and returned.

Here’s what the father did:

He gave him his inheritance.

He let him go.

He watched and waited (and I imagine he prayed).

When he saw him coming, he ran to him, embraced him, kissed him.

Then he threw a party for him.

He reinstated him in the family.

Does this make sense?  NO!!  Did the son deserve such grace?  NO!!

Here’s what I have done:

I could make a long list of my sins—all the usual ones, generally not the “big” ones.

I have sought to follow Him, obey Him, live and love like Jesus.  And too often I have failed.

I have disobeyed, shamed, dishonored, abandoned, misused…my heavenly Father and His generous gifts.

Here’s what my heavenly Father has done:

He created me in His image, for definite purposes.

He has pursued me, purchased me, redeemed me, reconciled me, forgiven me.

He adopted me as His very own loved daughter.

He invited me into His presence, talked with me, enjoyed me.

He welcomed me back over and over.

He extended amazing grace to me.

Does this make sense?  NO!   Do I deserve such grace? NO!

Here’s what my prodigal has done:

He has done many prodigal things:  lied, stolen, disrespected us.

He’s used and abused alcohol, drugs, girls, our home.

He went through 17 cars in five years.

He spent time in JDC and in jail.

Okay I will stop.  Those cover most of the big things.

Here’s what I have done in response:

I established boundaries, enforced consequences, helped him to move out.

I got counseling—for him and us, sought advice, listened, pleaded, preached.

I bailed him out—once.

I have paid for more than I should have.

I have prayed.  And prayed.  And prayed.

I welcomed him back, encouraged him, home schooled him, promoted his work efforts.

I have mostly loved and extended grace.

I have done some things well, other things not well at all.

Does he deserve the grace given over and over?  NO! Was I right to give grace?  I think so.

So now it’s your turn.

What has your prodigal done?

How have you responded?

Would grace call for any different response?

What about you?  How does the Father’s grace affect you?

c2012 Judy Douglass

If you would like more information, to request prayer for a prodigal, or to join our full-of-grace community, please write to prayerforprodigalsatgmaildotcom with your questions or names, or for an invitation. June 2 is our Worldwide Day of Prayer for Prodigals.

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