Enabling Grace

When God has a plan, He has already made provisions for the outcome, and has given me the power to overcome any obstacles that come my way.

When Caleb, Joshua, and ten other spies were sent out to observe the land the Israelites were to overtake, the men did not all agree that God would do what He said would do and just give it to them. All twelve men saw the grapes big enough to feed giants. All twelve men saw the pomegranates and the figs of the land. They all saw that the land was overflowing with cows, and goats, and bees. The land was fertile and all that occupied it. And of course, they all saw that the people in Canaan were strong, and that there were giants, and that the cities were walled. Caleb said, “We can take ’em”…in a manner of speaking. “Let us go up at once, and possess it; for we are well able to overcome it” -Numbers 13:30. (At once!, he raved.) He was excited and ready to go. This was what they had been hoping for. A promise that was @ six hundred years in the making.

The phrase struck me while this message was being preached by my dad: “We are well able”, Caleb reported…And after declaring Canaan to be conquerable, there were others who grew weak kneed and intimidated.

•They saw the people there were strong.

•They saw the cities were walled and were very great.

•And they saw the sons of Anak, ‘which come of the giants’ (Numbers 13:33

What the 10 spies (doubters) did not see that Caleb and Joshua did,
was the almighty hand of God.

When the two “good spies” said, “We spy.. GREATNESS!”, the other ten said, “We spy.. TROUBLE!” – and a riot ensued. They protested, so much so that the children of Israel ‘got on the bandwagon’ and said it would have been better if they had died back in Egypt or in the wilderness. “They lifted up their voice, and cried; and the people wept that night”- Numbers 14:1. Good grief. Get a hold of yourself! Such drama. And what of the great Exodus? And the parting of the Red Sea? And the cloud by day and fire by night? And the manna? And and and…..on and on God was showing them that He would provide, yet they forgot. Or were just plain ungrateful. We can see just around the corner because it’s recorded how it all works out that they were —just within reach— of gaining the promised land. So close in proximity, yet so far apart from God’s mindset. They despised the promise. Maybe it seemed too hard. Maybe they didn’t want to have to ‘work for it’ when in reality, God was going to do the work and all were to receive the promise. They knew what work was. They had been slaves, after all, before God delivered them from Egypt and her taskmasters. Yet, because of their rebellion and fight against God’s will, they missed out on entering the most incredible sights they ever would know. Joshua and Caleb are hailed as heroes for their trust in God’s way. And the ten trouble making spies? They are named as well (Numbers 13) and are forever etched in Scripture for all to see their lack of judgment. In Numbers 13:3, it even says that their little ones would know the land that their elders despised.

Not much has changed since then. God still has a plan and it’s to live by faith, to trust Him in any given situation. And there will always be those who say it’s impossible to live by faith and not by sight– ‘God simply can’t have something bigger out there’. Like Caleb and Joshua, I need to stand firm that blessings will come when I simply trust that God’s way is better. Big faith = big blessings. What God says about Caleb is incredible in Number 14: 24 -“But my servant, Caleb, because he had another spirit in him, and hath followed me fully, him will I bring into the land…” Another spirit…not a spirit of scorn like the whole murmuring lot, but one of humility and obedience. And Caleb followed God fully. Fully! Not half-way, not half-hearted, but he was “all in” for the long haul. No tears. No weeping and gnashing of teeth. No drama. In vs 38, it is said of Joshua and Caleb that they “LIVED STILL” when the unbelieving and unrepentant breached God’s promise and slandered the land (vs 34 & 36). The Israelites wandered in the wilderness for forty years and died ‘by the plague before the LORD’ (vs 37). The doubters got what they wished for…to die in the wilderness (those twenty years old and up). Such profound sadness. It didn’t have to be that way.

To live STILL – when fear wants to take over. To live STILL – when I’m tempted to doubt that God will take care of me. To live STILL – when those around me are far apart from God’s mindset… Faith brings life and I am ‘well able’ to overcome anything that will test my faith in His plan…giants larger than life, walls higher than high, mean people, whatever -because He is the Enabler.

God doesn’t give me life and a plan to serve Him without making provisions. He always extends the necessary power and grace to overcome obstacles and to exceed expectations.

May I have the confidence and faith to say, “I am well able to overcome….”

Making Mention of You Always

Sometimes…I just don’t know how to pray. Illness, loss, divorce, conflicts, hardships…My heart is heavy for so many people and at times, I just don’t have the words.  What do I ask for? How do I pray? How do I form the words when the heart hurts, and the soul aches, and the mind is numb? The prayer that never fails; “Thy will be done”..but even if it hurts? Even if it means I don’t get my way? Even if someone still suffers, dies, walks away, gives up, or takes years to come back to God? My thoughts are not His thoughts. His timing is not mine. I’ve found some direction when I get to feeling numb with no words and no idea what to ask for.

“Grace to you, and peace, from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. I thank my God, making mention of thee always in my prayers.”
Philemon 1: 3, 4

GRACE to you (dignity, balance, thanksgiving)–for every mile, for every trial. New grace to face a new day even when there are no answers. Dignity to accept mistakes and to receive forgiveness. Balance through a diagnosis that will change a life forever. Thanksgiving that God’s hand can still keep, protect, and guide.

and PEACE (one accord with God, tranquility, quietness of spirit)— to be still and know that He is God. Period. And He alone can fix, bend, or mend people and problems. Not I.

“Prayer does not fit us for the greater work; prayer is the greater work.”  Oswald Chambers

For those on your prayer list– for the faces you will see in your family, church, neighborhood, and even on Facebook who are smiling yet covering tears unshed–for all those on your heart and in your mind, when you find yourself making mention of someone always in your prayers…urge for GRACE, seek for PEACE. And give thanks for these gifts that He alone can wholly provide.

When the soul seeks for a voice, sometimes the only words you need to cover it all from the One Who covers all, are Grace and Peace.

The Fragments That Remain

I’m working to set up this new blog site (based on an older one) and I am reworking some of my older posts that have meant a lot to me. I may be posting a lot in a day until I’m caught up with posts I wanted to move over and as I figure out a new format in WordPress.  We were in the latter part of John 6 on a Sunday last October when my eyes had glanced over to an underlined verse on the other page;

“When they were filled, he said unto his disciples, Gather up the fragments that remain, that nothing be lost.” John 6:12

 

Fragment: 1) A part broken off or detached 2) an isolated, unfinished, incomplete part 3) an odd piece, bit or scrap

Gather: 1) to pick up 2) to bring together 3) to collect

Remain: to linger

Lost: cast away

 

The context here is the account of the feeding of the 5,000. A crowd had followed Jesus and the disciples soon after Jesus had healed a man on the Sabbath and was persecuted for it. Because of the wide spread news of Christ’s miracles, a lot of people followed him over the sea of Galilee after the healing. When Jesus saw the crowd, he asked Philip where they were going to buy bread to feed all the people. The disciples didn’t have the power to make food appear out of nowhere, nor did they have sufficient funds to purchase any. Christ knew the answer already and was going to prove His power to not only heal, but to provide. Andrew noticed a boy there who had 5 barley loaves and 2 fishes, but what were they among so many? (vs 9) Jesus instructed the disciples to have the 5,000 men (besides the women and children) sit down. He took the 2 loaves, gave thanks for and blessed the offering, and distributed the food. I had written in my Bible, “Faith comes before the miracle”. Before the actual feeding of the crowd, Christ needed to be trusted to provide. Before anyone knew exactly how this was going to supply the need, there was a moment of thanksgiving for what was about to be done. And there was enough and more.

And just a thought here about the underlined vs 12, Jesus said, “Gather up the fragments that remain, that nothing be lost.” John was the only one who remembered and recorded it this way. Matthew, Mark, and Luke all wrote about picking up the leftovers or fragments. There were 12 baskets full after the meal, but only John wrote that the fragments were picked up so that ‘nothing be lost’. John was a sensitive one– always close by Christ’s side. John must have had some insight and knowing Christ like he did, he might have figured out that something was going to be done with all that was not wanted. I doubt there was a “No Littering” sign on the lawn that caused them to pick up what was left. Were the leftovers passed around among the people? Did the disciples take them when they entered the ship to go toward Capernaum? Was it given back to the boy as a reward for his humble offering? As far as I could tell, we weren’t given that answer. But no matter what happened to the 12 full baskets of ‘fragments’, we are assured that nothing was lost. I wonder if John thought about the implications of how he recorded this miracle. I wonder if he remembered that in each of the disciples, Jesus had gathered up the fragmented pieces of their lives and did something amazing with them. “Heartaches, broken pieces, ruined lives are why He died on Calvary. Your touch was what I longed for. You have given life to me”, goes an old song.

In Christ, nothing is lost.

In Christ, nothing is lost. He works in me and through me; the good, the bad, the ugly. Fragments—broken off pieces of dreams unfulfilled, feelings of incompleteness, odd pieces of life that don’t seem to make sense or ‘fit’ in the big picture. HE can bring them all together– the hurts that remain– so that nothing is cast away. So that ‘all things work together for good to them who love God’, Romans 8:28. Faith comes before the miracle. If I have put my trust in Him for my salvation, why would I not have faith that He can take my life and use it? Can I give thanks that He has the power to multiply what is given to me, even if I become broken for His glory?

What seemed like an insignificant lad, made history. What seemed like an insufficient lunch, made a lesson in trust not only for the crowd, but for all who witnessed it and who read this account of the miracle. What we see as insignificant and insufficient is more than enough for God to do something pretty amazing. Nothing is cast away. Christ knew where the fragments went and I can be assured that every last lingering bit was not lost or wasted.

Free From Envy

I’m working to get the new blog up and running, so I’m going through older posts from my former blog and ‘revamping’ them a bit. The last post, The Big Happiness, was originally written in January as I was working through verses on contentment. The verses had been straight to the heart. “So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom.” Psalm 90:12

To apply: to make use of as relevant, suitable, or pertinent; to put to use, especially for a particular purpose; to devote or employ diligently or with close attention.

Lord, teach me to devote my heart unto wisdom, {understanding, too} –with close attention.

Here are my study notes from “Free from Envy”:

The focus in this study was about communication with others and in keeping the envy away from my relationship with them. When God has given me His spirit and instructs me to be content with what I have, He wants me to pay close attention, because through everything, He will never leave me nor forsake me. Not only that, He is my helper. So no matter what others have, I can be glad for them because when there is a need, God will provide, and it will be right and good and enough. No need for envy or wanting what others possess because I can choose to want the *enough* that I am Divinely given.

To be faithful in the little (Luke 16:10) is a good place to start if comparing my life to someone else’s. Am I true to God in being thankful for what I already have? Am I honorable in taking care of what I’ve been given?

And what is it that I admire in another person, anyway? Their stuff? Do I appreciate their success more than the value of their character? Some good envy evaluation questions right there.

How to be free from envy in relationships with others?

Be faithful in the little, be thankful for much, appreciate character more than success.

“Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee. So that we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me.” Hebrews 13:5, 6

The Big Happiness

The struggle with being content is life-long, it seems. Why do others always seem to be successful when we struggle to just break even every month? I tend to look at what others are doing and what they have, but really, I don’t know their whole story. Maybe they are losing the small joys in pursuit of the ‘big happiness’. My ‘little’ that God has given me may be really all I can handle and is quite possibly just right for my life.

At the time I originally wrote this post on my former blog,  I was working through a Scripture Writing Plan. I liked this way of studying and would like to get back into it, I just haven’t yet. It gave me time to think about a concept and apply as I was writing out each passage of Scripture I was studying. The study theme at the time had been about contentment and what is actually ‘enough’ for me. And I’m not talking about basic needs but more about wants that I really don’t need. What is my motivation? To keep up with friends and family? To make it seem that I am super successful? What defines success anyway? Here are my study notes from “The Big Happiness” I wrote originally in January.

Content → (n) power of containing, holding capacity; (adj) satisfied with what one has or is; agreeing, consenting [Synonyms: comfortable, gratified, at ease]

“Holding capacity” caught my attention as did the word, “agreeing”. I’m connecting the dots here that I’m needing to agree with God that I am at my holding capacity ..at least for this moment, this day–which brings to mind the verse in Matthew 6:11, “Give us this day our daily bread”. Give me Lord, what is best and what only You know I can manage or contain. And my ‘holding capacity’ may change in the future..but that’s in the future. “Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.” Matthew 6:34. So if the evil in this world is enough for one day, so are the blessings, I would think.

“A little that a righteous man hath is better than the riches of many wicked”, Psalm 37:16. Not all wicked are rich and not all rich are wicked, I know. But when my heart is right, no matter what my possessions are, I am able to see that they are still better than anyone else’s because they are divinely given by God who knows me, loves me, and wants what’s best for me. To not take for granted the small joys in every day and in what God has given me, is the start of living life contented. To be assured that God, indeed, is in control, He knows my ‘power of containing’ for some things and lack of for others. God made us each unique in our talents, appearances, spiritual gifts, so why wouldn’t He tailor His blessings to each individual? What works for someone else, may be entirely wrong for me and vice versa. Sure, it’s good to have goals and dreams, but I need to evaluate and be willing to be ‘at ease’ in how God made me and in His provisions. To be at ease→ that’s what just about everyone wants anyway, yet it’s our level of appeasement that makes or breaks us when it comes to contentment.

At ease→ (n) tranquil rest; freedom from concern, anxiety, solicitude; freedom from constraint

To ease→ (v) to free from anxiety or care; to lighten or lessen; to move or shift with great care

And in my evaluation of what is enough for this moment, it’s quite possible the small joys in every day are the big happiness after all. To agree with God that where He has me today is where I need to be whether it be my location, my possessions, my ‘status’ in life, and that my ‘holding capacity’ for all that, is sufficient for today. God wishes to ease with great care so that I may be at ease with Him and His plan for my life – blessings and trials alike. The ‘big happiness’? Well, maybe I need to change my definition of what that means. The ‘small joys’ of being free from concern and anxiety because I’m trusting in the One who is the Great Reliever is really one big happiness.

Grace Comes Along

“Grace isn’t a little prayer you chant before receiving a meal. It’s a way to live. The law tells me how crooked I am. Grace comes along
and straightens me out.”-D.L. Moody

Hey there! So glad you stopped by! I hope to be an encouragement and a blessing in sharing here on the blog. I had started another blog site years ago, but am having some issues with it, so it was time for a change. I will be rewriting former posts and ‘freshening’ things up a bit. I am starting from “Point A” of why I write, why I share Scripture and encouragement.

Why the name, “A Record of Graces”? Well, for one, that’s been my life, although I haven’t always known it. I have been going through a ‘journey’ of sorts and it just seemed fitting to name the blog I started in 2012, ‘A Record of Graces.’ I started to write about my journey to trust God’s heart when I couldn’t see His hand for two very life changing moments. The first life changing moment was when I lost my mother when I was 3 years old and forever lost a part of me. She died of hepatitis when we were missionaries in Lima, Peru. This was my identity for as long as I can remember; I was always the little girl of that missionary who lost his wife. It was part of my dad’s testimony in every church he preached in. I was “Jean’s daughter” to all who knew, loved, and remembered her. As a teenager when we would be on furlough visiting supporting churches, I would hear all the time, “I know exactly who you are! You look just like your mother!” –from complete strangers to me. It wasn’t until I was much older that I began to know more about her. My dad never really wanted to talk about her for he’s never one to dwell on things very long. He remarried soon after my mother’s death, we went back to Peru and continued on with ministry. I am told by family who loved to share memories of her with me that I am a lot like her. Knowing my mother through the eyes and hearts of the ones who loved her put some missing pieces of me back together and I am forever grateful for the bond I have with my mother’s family. A balm to my soul, truly. But the shadow of being ‘Jean’s daughter’ haunted my step-mother and me from the beginning. I believe she tried to fill the gap, but I was never ‘hers’. When others would comment on how wonderful my mother was, it just caused the wound to widen. When others would make mention of me being “Jean’s daughter”, it was just difficult to move forward in a relationship with my step-mother. I know that was not the intention of others, but the words left a mark. Through time and **grace**, I can have compassion for her whereas in my younger years, I was resentful. It wasn’t until after my son Jonathan was born that we found some common ground and built a bridge…it was shaky..but it was a bridge, nonetheless. While our relationship was strained, she was a wonderful grandmother to Jonathan and I believe if she were alive today, she and my son would be the best of friends.

The second life changing moment was when we buried our stillborn youngest son 14 years ago.

Of course I’ve asked God why He allowed these things to happen. But then I have to ask why I think I should be exempt from heartache when I was never promised a perfect life. No one is. I was promised, however, a Comforter, an ever present help in times of trouble… I am coming to a place where I realize that by grace and through faith, I will be ok.  Whether I am to know His mind or not..God has His reasons. I have wished many times to be able to rewrite my story. Yet, maybe..just maybe, I don’t want to change the end, because I don’t know what a different ending holds. There’s a reason why God wrote my story and I didn’t. It is easy to get distracted and to look away from what He has promised; that He always gives new grace I’ve not needed before for anything and everything I face. So I write about how grace comes along in every day. I write about things that will bring me to notice Him and how I am to respond. I will close with these verses which sum up the reason I record the graces.

{Psalm 77:8-12} “Is his mercy clean gone for ever? doth his promise fail for evermore? Hath God forgotten to be gracious? hath he in anger shut up his tender mercies? Selah. And I said, This is my infirmity: but I will remember the years of the right hand of the most High. I will remember the works of the Lord: surely I will remember thy wonders of old. I will meditate also of all thy work, and talk of thy doings.”