Tag Results For :: "grace"




Oak Trees Dancing

August 21st, 2012 | Tags: • , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Go where the best prayers take you. — Frederick Buechner

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God’s thunder sets the oak trees dancing
A wild dance, whirling; the pelting rain strips their branches.
We fall to our knees—we call out, “Glory!”
Above the floodwaters is God’s throne
from which his power flows,
from which he rules the world.
God makes his people strong.
God gives his people peace.

— Psalm 29:9-11, The Message

It’s the water dropping from the live oak trees, the small gems shining. It’s the clouds lifting across the charged air currents, the long winds sweeping. It’s the summer light in darkness, the warm solstice at dawn, the calendar page on time.

Above, beyond, and within, He rules.

Lord, magnificent Creator, Father of us all, Your grace is no small thing. Thank You for every good and perfect gift your love brings! Enlarge my heart to receive Your strength, respond to Your peace, and recognize Your glory — in Christ, I pray.



Real Wealth, Rich Simplicity

August 21st, 2012 | Tags: • , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Be good to your servant, God;
    be as good as your Word.
Train me in good common sense;
    I’m thoroughly committed to living your way.
Before I learned to answer you, I wandered all over the place,
    but now I’m in step with your Word.
You are good, and the source of good;
    train me in your goodness.
The godless spread lies about me,
    but I focus my attention on what you are saying;
They’re bland as a bucket of lard,
    while I dance to the tune of your revelation.
My troubles turned out all for the best—
    they forced me to learn from your textbook.
Truth from your mouth means more to me
    than striking it rich in a gold mine.
— Psalm 119:65-72, The Message
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A devout life does bring wealth, but it’s the rich simplicity of being yourself before God. — 1 Timothy 6:7a, The Message

What current activity or opportunity might be distracting you from enjoying this kind of simplicity in your life? When you see unmet needs for leadership and/or service around you—in your job or community, at home, school, or church, among your friends, family, and co-workers—do you want to respond and try to meet the need according to a list of “shoulds” instead of focusing on what God has specifically called you to do?

What goes? What stays? What needs adding?

Our natural inclination when we’re under pressure is to turn away from God’s peace. Notice the symptoms: Anxiety, upset, worry, irritability, comparisons, anger, and resentment. “Lord, don’t you care?” Choosing to wait upon the Lord and trust Him with our concerns isn’t easy or automatic. We can choose to turn toward Life as we seek Christ’s help and direction, wherever we find ourselves.

What comes to mind as you ask God for discernment about distractions in your life today?



Not Taking Any of This Day for Granted

August 21st, 2012 | Tags: • , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Grace is love that cares and stoops and rescues.

— John R. W. Stott

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We pondered your love-in-action, God,
waiting in your temple:
Your name, God, evokes a train
of Hallelujahs wherever
It is spoken, near and far;
your arms are heaped with goodness-in-action.

Be glad, Zion Mountain;
Dance, Judah’s daughters!
He does what he said he’d do!

Circle Zion, take her measure,
count her fortress peaks,
Gaze long at her sloping bulwark,
climb her citadel heights—
Then you can tell the next generation
detail by detail the story of God,
Our God forever,
who guides us till the end of time.

— Psalm 48:9-14, The Message

Doves cooing outside our bedroom window is a commonplace occurrence this time of year. Still, I can go for hours at a time without hearing them, simply because I’m not listening.

It’s only when I stop focusing on other things and turn my attention in the birds’ direction that I realize their sweet songs have been there all along.

Lord, how easy it is to tune out Your love and grace as my attention turns away from You toward my thoughts, concerns, and surroundings. I want to look and listen more often for You; I’m not taking any of this day for granted. Open my ears to your music and fill my heart with Your songs — in Christ, I pray.



A Prayer for Abigail

August 21st, 2012 | Tags: • , , , , , , , , , , , ,

“Wherever you are, be all there. Live to the hilt every situation you believe to be the will of God.”

— Jim Elliot

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God, teach me lessons for living
so I can stay the course.
Give me insight so I can do what you tell me—
my whole life one long, obedient response.
Guide me down the road of your commandments;
I love traveling this freeway!
Give me a bent for your words of wisdom,
and not for piling up loot.
Divert my eyes from toys and trinkets,
invigorate me on the pilgrim way.
Affirm your promises to me—
promises made to all who fear you.
Deflect the harsh words of my critics—
but what you say is always so good.
See how hungry I am for your counsel;
preserve my life through your righteous ways!

— Psalm 119:33-40, The Message

Abigail had an amazing moment last night when she was the first graduate to enter the auditorium, both hands waving. As she wheeled across the stage at the Frank Erwin Center in downtown Austin, the highlights of her life’s journey filled my heart. Through it all, God has strengthened and sustained this remarkable young woman. Her life portrays a shining picture of His beauty and grace.

Lord, bless all of us who rely on Your strength in our weakness. Smooth the path ahead as we travel the road You lead us on. Thank you for the life, the hope, and the peace you alone give. May Your joy be ours—in Christ, we pray.   

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Every Moment

May 21st, 2012 | Tags: • , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Use all your skill to put me together;
I wait to see your finished product.

Psalm 25:21, MSG

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Sometimes I forget: Right now, and in every moment, God is making me.

Lord, as you stitch and mend me, piece by piece, lead me to recognize and receive your love in every moment — in Christ, I pray.

 

“Listen to your life. See it for the fathomless mystery it is. In the boredom and pain of it, no less than in the excitement and gladness: touch, taste, smell your way to the holy and hidden heart of it, because in the last analysis all moments are key moments, and life itself is grace.”
― Frederick Buechner



Joining In

May 17th, 2012 | Tags: • , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

O Lord, save us; 
O Lord, grant us success.
 Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.
 From the house of the Lord we bless you. 


The Lord is God, 
and he has made his light shine upon us.
 With boughs in hand, join in the festal procession
 up to the horns of the altar.

You are my God, and I will give you thanks;
 you are my God, and I will exalt you.

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good;
 his love endures forever.

—   Psalm 118:25-29, NIV

 

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“You have made known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand,” declared David (Ps. 16:11, NIV). But we must take time to pray, to wait, to listen. 

How much we need to hear and heed Jesus’ promise that He will strengthen us for the journey ahead and light our way with His unfailing love, grace, and protection. With our hearts focused on God’s kingdom and our minds set on Christ, our hungry souls are strengthened, sustained, and shielded from harm.

Day by day we can lift our souls to the Lord of life, asking Him to lead us, feed us, fortify us, and make us more fruitful: “Fill my cup, Lord—I lift it up, Lord! Come and quench the thirsting of my soul; Bread of Heaven, feed me till I want no more—Fill my cup, fill it up and make me whole!”

 

Almighty God, we give Thee thanks for the mighty yearning of the human heart, for the coming of a Savior, and the constant promise of Thy Word that He was to come. In our own souls we repeat the humble sighs and panting aspirations of ancient men and ages, and own that our souls are in darkness and infirmity without faith in Him who comes to bring God to man and man to God. We bless Thee for the tribute we can pay to Him from our very sense of need and dependence, and that our own hearts can so answer, from their wilderness, the cry, “Prepare ye the way of the Lord.” In us the rough places are to be made smooth, the crooked straight, the mountains of pride brought low, and the valleys of despondency lifted up. O God, prepare Thou the way in us now, and may we welcome anew Thy Holy Child. Hosanna! blessed be He who cometh in the name of the Lord — Amen.

— Samuel Osgood 



Amazing. Extravagant. Intimate: God’s grace, love, and friendship

May 14th, 2012 | Tags: • , , , , , , , , , ,

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The amazing grace of the Master, Jesus Christ, the extravagant love of God, the intimate friendship of the Holy Spirit, be with all of you.

— 2 Corinthians 13:14, The Message




Before My Eyes

May 1st, 2012 | Tags: • , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

So don’t lose a minute in building on what you’ve been given, complementing your basic faith with good character, spiritual understanding, alert discipline, passionate patience, reverent wonder, warm friendliness, and generous love, each dimension fitting into and developing the others. With these qualities active and growing in your lives, no grass will grow under your feet, no day will pass without its reward as you mature in your experience of our Master Jesus. Without these qualities you can’t see what’s right before you, oblivious that your old sinful life has been wiped off the books.

So, friends, confirm God’s invitation to you, his choice of you. Don’t put it off; do it now. Do this, and you’ll have your life on a firm footing, the streets paved and the way wide open into the eternal kingdom of our Master and Savior, Jesus Christ.

— 2 Peter 1:5-11, MSG

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Yesterday, an old thought once again became knew:

In Christ, I am forgiven.

Not just in part, not only a little bit, not 2/3 or even 98%.

In Christ, I am forgiven.

Completely, for everything.



The Source

April 27th, 2012 | Tags: • , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Love never gives up.

Love cares more for others than for self.

Love doesn’t want what it doesn’t have.

Love doesn’t strut,

Doesn’t have a swelled head,

Doesn’t force itself on others,

Isn’t always “me first,”

Doesn’t fly off the handle,

Doesn’t keep score of the sins of others,

Doesn’t revel when others grovel,

Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth,

Puts up with anything,

Trusts God always,

Always looks for the best,

Never looks back,

But keeps going to the end.

– 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 MSG

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In those moments when we are especially aware of the Lord’s compassion, patience, mercy, and grace, we again learn the lesson: Love doesn’t originate with us, but in God. We can love one another because God is the source, the substance, and the completion of our love.

Living in the reality of this great truth is possible for all of us. Yet how easily we become discouraged and frustrated in our quest to give and receive love!

 

Dare to love and to be a real friend. The love you give and receive is a reality that will lead you closer and closer to God as well as those whom God has given you to love. 
– Henri J. M. Nouwen



Loved and Known

April 21st, 2012 | Tags: • , , , , , , , , , , ,

“To be loved but not known is comforting but superficial. To be known and not loved is our greatest fear. But to be fully known and truly loved is, well, a lot like being loved by God. It is what we need more than anything. It liberates us from pretense, humbles us out of our self-righteousness, and fortifies us for any difficulty life can throw at us.”

— Timothy Keller

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Each morning, as we open our eyes and immediately begin reviewing our thoughts, where will we direct our attention? Will it be toward yesterday’s accomplishments and concerns, today’s to-do list, tomorrow’s goals and expectations? Or will we open our hearts in gratitude and wonder to the One who loves us best of all?

Every day, we can have this fresh realization: Our Father knows and loves us, and it’s by what we receive from Him that we come to more fully know and truly love one another .

 

“I know every one of your problems. I know your need and your worries. And yes, I know all your sins. But I will tell you again that I love you — not for what you have or haven’t done — I love you for you, the beauty and dignity my Father gave you by creating you in his own image….

“I thirst for you. Yes, that is the only way to even begin to describe my love for you: I thirst for you. I thirst to love and be loved by you — that is how precious you are to me. I thirst for you. Come to me, and fill your heart and heal your wounds….

“No matter how far you may wander, not matter how often you forget me, no matter how many crosses you may bear in this life, there is one thing I want you to remember always, one thing that will never change: I thirst for you — just as you are. You don’t need to change to believe in my love, for it will be your belief in my love that will change you. You forget me, and yet I am seeking you every moment of the day — standing at the door of your heart, and knocking….

“Whenever you do open the door of your heart, whenever you come close enough, you will hear me say to you again and again, not in mere human words but in spirit: ‘No matter what you have done, I love you for your own sake.’

“Come to me with your misery and your sins, with your trouble and needs, and with all your longing to be loved. I stand at the door of your heart and knock. Open to me, for I thirst for you.”

— Mother Teresa (1910-1997)