Monthly Archives: June 2014

Got Some Dry Bones?

“With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” – Matthew 19:26
 

 

Have you faced times when you just couldn’t imagine things would work out? Those times when the situation was so dire and the odds so bad you lost all hope? Maybe you’re going through one of those times right now. And you’re scared. You want so badly to believe things will be okay…that they CAN be okay.

Have I got a story for you! You’ve just got to read this for yourself—right here in Ezekiel 37:1-14.

But if you’re in a hurry, let me give you the highlights.

The prophet Ezekiel is led by the Spirit of the Lord to the middle of a valley…and it’s filled with dry bones. That’s right—bones! Not skeletons—just scattered bones. No skin. No flesh. Bone dry bones.

mountainvalley

God asks Ezekiel, “Can these bones live?” And he answers, “O Sovereign LORD, you alone know.”

So the Lord tells Ezekiel to talk to the bones and tell them to listen to “the word of the LORD.” He tells them God is going to attach tendons and put flesh and skin on them and breathe life into them again.

As he was saying this, he heard a rattling noise and these scattered bones came together, bone to bone. He saw tendons and flesh cover the bones and skin on top of that. And then the breath of the Lord entered the bodies and those dry, dead bones came alive and stood up on their feet, full of life.

God said, “I will put my Spirit in you and you will live, and I will settle you in your own land. Then you will know that I the LORD have spoken, and I have done it” (Ezekiel 37:14).

Oh yes! The Lord did it, for He is God of the impossible.

Does this story give you hope that your situation may not be as lost as you think? What could be more impossible than dry bones coming back to life?

Ezekiel’s response to God’s question speaks an important truth. Only God knows what the outcome of any situation will be. But the word “can” in the question demands the answer “YES!” For anything is possible with God!

havehope

“With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” — Matthew 19:26

So, when you’re discouraged with the way things are going or you’re in a situation that seems hopeless, never give up. Following these biblical steps will help you stand firm as you wait upon the Lord…

    • Listen to the Word of the Lord.
    • Hold on to His promises.
    • Continue to pray for God’s intervention.
    • Be still and know that He is God.
    • Rest in His hope.

You never know what God will do. But you can be assured that He is ABLE to do ANYTHING—even the impossible.

Precious Sovereign Lord, we praise You for You are God of the impossible. Help us to believe..to never lose hope…to be still and rest in who You are. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Blessings!
Sabra
 
All Scripture from The Holy Bible, New International Version, 1984.
Image 1 by Sabra Penley. Image 2: bones by fredsharples via flickr 
(CC BY 2.0), cropped, effects and text added.

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Filed under God's Works, Hope, Trust, Waiting

25 Ways to Live a Life of Grace — A Simply. Challenge

“Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.”     — 1 Peter 4:10 (NIV)

Think about yesterday. Did you make a difference?

If you polled ten people who interacted with you, how many might say you were a blessing in their lives? What about your spouse? Your kids? Your coworkers? Or maybe the cashier? The waiter? The customer service rep? What would they say about how you treated them?

And what about God? He saw everything—every thought, every word, every action. Do you think He would say, “Well done, My good and faithful servant?”

It’s a question we should ask ourselves regularly, don’t you think?

We know God has called us to make a difference—to love others—to share His grace. For this is what He has done for us. (Read my post on God’s grace here.)

It should be easy living this life of grace, for God has poured out His undeserved love on us and we have Jesus’ perfect example to follow. But all too often, it isn’t easy. We get absorbed in ourselves, in the task at hand, in the busyness of life. We don’t notice the people right in front of us. And we miss the opportunity to share God’s love with them and make their day a little brighter.

GRACE

 

So, here’s a challenge…A Simply. Challenge — 25 Ways to Live a Life of Grace. This list can be used in two ways…

  • As an evaluation tool. While it isn’t an exhaustive list of ways to show grace, it could be eye-opening nonetheless. Identify the areas that need work, and offer thanks for the ways you have already been faithful to show grace to others.
  • As a checklist. Choose one way each day to reach out in love. Focus on that specific act of grace and strive to live it out all day long. Imagine how many lives you will have blessed at the end of the twenty-five days!

 

 25 Ways to Live a Life of Grace

  1. Help carry a load. (Galatians 6:2)
  2. Be there… in the good times and the bad. (Proverbs 17:17)
  3. Be understanding… because you’ve messed up, too. (Romans 3:23)
  4. Reach out to include someone—offer friendship. (Romans 15:7)
  5. Give up something for someone else—your plans, your desires, your time, your possessions. (John 15:13)
  6. Put someone else’s interests before your own. (Philippians 2:3-4)
  7. Listen. Stop talking. Just listen. (James 1:19)
  8. Do something special for someone. (Romans 12:10)
  9. Speak the truth in love. (Ephesians 4:15)
  10. Be patient. (Ephesians 4:2)
  11. Humble yourself. (Romans 12:3; Luke 9:23)
  12. Pray for someone. Better yet…pray with someone. (1 Thessalonians 1:2; James 5:13-16)
  13. Choose not to take offense. (Proverbs 17:9)
  14. Forgive. (Ephesians 4:32)
  15. Encourage. (Hebrews 3:13)
  16. Remind someone of God’s promises–offer hope. (Hebrews 10:23)
  17. Smile. (Proverbs 15:13)
  18. Speak kindly. (Proverbs 12:25)
  19. Be gentle. (Philippians 4:5)
  20. Remember we’re all works in progress. (Philippians 1:6)
  21. Filter what you say. (Ephesians 4:29)
  22. Be a peacemaker. (Romans 12:18)
  23. Have a thankful heart and express gratitude. (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18)
  24. Tell someone about what Jesus has done for you. (Matthew 28:19-20)
  25. Share what you’ve been given. (Romans 12:13)

Okay…now that you’ve looked over the list, did you find some things you already do well? I did. And if you’re like me, you also found a number of areas that need some work. So let’s pray God will strengthen us in those areas and fill our hearts with more grace. For a heart filled with God’s grace can’t help but bless others.

So, are you ready to make a difference?

Well, then…let’s go be a blessing!

Precious Lord, we are so thankful for Your amazing grace. Help us see where we are failing to live out this grace-filled life. Strengthen us where we are weak, and help us to be a blessing to everyone around us. May we one day hear you say, “Well done, My good and faithful servant.” In Jesus’ name and for Your glory, Amen. 
 
What ways to bless others through God’s grace would you add to 
the list? Please share them with us in the comments below.    

And if you choose to take the second part of the challenge, 
we'd love to hear how it goes.
Blessings to you!
Sabra
 
Image by Sabra Penley.

6 Comments

Filed under Blessing, Doing Good, Godly Living, Grace, Love

The Gift That Keeps Giving

The grace of our Lord was poured out on me abundantly, along with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.              – 1 Timothy 1:14 

God’s love. It all started with God’s love. And isn’t that where everything good begins?

I don’t understand it—this outpouring of affection upon my unlovely soul. A soul so undeserving.

But that’s the nature of grace—completely undeserved.

Oh, the precious love of God! He cares too much to leave us to fend for ourselves with our messy, sinful lives. And He knows we never could.

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So, out of His amazing love comes His amazing grace…

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselvesit is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast. – Ephesians 2:8-9

A grace not of reward for good works we might have done. No. This grace is simply a gift…freely given.

Oh how our hearts should fill with thankfulness and gratitude!

From the fullness of His grace we have all received one blessing after another. – John 1:16

Grace is the most precious of gifts because it keeps giving. For as grateful grace-receivers we become generous grace-givers. And as the gracious blessings flow from the Lord, we also should pour out grace on all those around us. Love upon love…gift upon gift…grace upon grace.

HeartGrace

A heart overflowing with God’s love pours out grace to all around.  

God giving grace to us…us giving thanks to God…us giving grace to others…others giving thanks to God…God giving more grace…and on and on.

Grace is powerful that way. It keeps going and growing.

One little smile can birth so many more and flow out in all directions. Who knows how many hearts that one little smile could touch in a day?

A kind word offered to a stressed-out soul can lift her spirit. Who knows how many lives might be touched by her encouraged heart?

Patience poured out in a frustrating situation can saturate the moment in peace. Who knows how that peace might diffuse anger in those involved and maybe change the course of their day?

Any act of love freely given can have a profound effect…on those who receive it and on others in their lives.

God’s grace certainly has had that effect on my life…and I know it has in yours, too. For God’s grace is life-saving…life-giving.

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As we go through this day…and every day…let’s give thanks with grateful hearts for God’s outpouring of love. Let’s remember His abundant blessings and let His grace overflow our hearts to all those around us.

Oh precious Father, thank You for your incredible love. The love that won’t let us go. The love that lavishes grace upon us…even though we are so undeserving. The love that sacrificed it all so that we could live…really live…eternally live. Oh, Jesus, thank You! The love that came down to meet us in our deepest need. Oh, thank You, Holy Spirit. The love that stays right with us even now. Your grace is truly amazing. We are humbled by Your love. Help us to generously give from what you have so graciously given us. And may we all with grateful hearts praise You. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Next week I’ll share a Simply. Challenge— “25 Ways to Live a Grace-Full Life.”  Hope you’ll join me.

Blessings to you,
Sabra
 
 
I'm linking up this blog post today at www.meredithbernard.com
for Woman2Woman. If you'd like to read more posts from other 
bloggers on the topic of grace, just click the link below...

All Scripture from The Holy Bible--New International Version, 1984.
Images by Sabra Penley

 

 

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Filed under Giving, God's Works, Godly Living, Grace, Love, Sacrifice, Thankfulness, Woman-to-Woman

Where is God?

What do you do when the hard times come? The really hard times. The ones that leave you so scared you can’t catch your breath. When the what-ifs are screaming so loudly all you can see and hear is your desperate situation. Do you wonder where God is? How do you keep going when it just seems hopeless?

I read this the other day in 1 Kings 19:4–I’ve had enough, LORD…Take my life.”

Wow! I didn’t expect to hear those words from Elijah. I mean, this was the strong, faithful man of God who just stood up against all those prophets of Baal and showed them who the real God was, with water and wet wood and calling down the Lord’s consuming fire. God had just used him in a mighty way. Yet now he cries out for God to end his life?

Okay, so he was in a tough place. (You can read all about it in 1 Kings 18-19.) Queen Jezebel, consumed with rage, was out to have him killed. So he ran…ran for his life…out of fear. But, fear? Elijah? What happened? Where did his courage go? Where was his faith? His trust in the Lord?

100_6099 Truth is, I’ve faced some hard times myself. I’ve known that gnawing feeling in the pit of my stomach and wrapped my arms around my ribs, thinking it would somehow hold me together. Felt the tears well up and threaten to pour down my cheeks at any moment…barely able to breathe because the fear was choking me. And I’ve wondered if life would ever be good again.

Where was my faith? My trust in the Lord? I’m no Elijah…but I sure can relate.

In those moments, all I wanted was relief. And I couldn’t see it. Is this what it was like for Elijah? Is this what it is like for you when those frightening times come?

What do we do with it? This fear…this desperation…this near panic?

At first glance, it looks like Elijah crawls up into a fetal position under that broom tree and tells God, that’s it…he’s done…enough already. We see a man running away—yes. But looking closer, we realize he’s running away from danger and running toward God. Alone Elijah runs into the desert and cries out to the Lord, for He desperately needs Him.

I’ve felt that way, too. Alone. Scared. Desperately needing God—needing His presence with me. Can you say the same? But here’s the thing–what we see and feel in those moments of fear is not real. For we are never really alone…not any of us. God’s powerful presence is always there…in those moments…in that darkness.

So why can’t we see Him? Why don’t we feel He’s there? Because we are too focused on the trouble surrounding us. We can only focus on one thing at a time. And everything else becomes a bit blurry. Even God. Especially God.

When you can’t see God, change your focus.

changeyourfocus

He’s there. Oh boy, is He there! He never leaves our side. He watches over us, provides for us, leads us—all the way to where we can finally see Him.

God sent angels to tend to Elijah’s needs and keep him moving on his journey. And so he was able to keep running—forty days and forty nights. All the way to the mountain of God. And there Elijah finally found Him.

Not in the great wind, not in the earthquake, not in the fire…not in the fear, not in the worry, not in the desperation. But after all those things…in the quiet stillness. Then Elijah heard it–that gentle whisper. That still, small voice. The Lord God Almighty—the all-powerful God. He revealed Himself in the quiet.

Be still and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10)

Oh, how we need to remember this verse! And that’s the key, isn’t it? Being still when the storm is raging? Remembering His promise to never leave us or forsake us? Trusting in His unfailing love and faithfulness? God sees. God knows. God is there. And He’s got this—whatever this is. So the next time you feel like running away, run right into the arms of our loving Father, who is always with us. Be still and focus on His powerful presence, trusting Him. And I will, too. He is God Almighty, and He’s got this!

Heavenly Father, thank You for Your constant presence. Thank You for watching over us and providing for us. And thank You for answering our cries—even when we want to give up. You never give up on us. You just draw us right back into Your loving arms—right where we belong. Help us to be still and trust in You. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

 

All Scripture from The Holy Bible, New International Version, 1984.
Images by Sabra Penley.

14 Comments

Filed under Faith, God's Presence, Holy Spirit, Hope, Overwhelmed, Peace, Remember, Trust, Worry