Category Archives: Sacrifice

Do You Have a Blessing Room?

“Above all, love each other deeply…. Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms.” – 1 Peter 4:8-10
 

Have you ever had your heart set on something and faced giving it up for the sake of someone else? It’s not easy, that’s for sure. Even if you choose to show love to another person by sacrificing what you desire, you can still struggle with self-pity and grumble in your heart. You might feel pulled in different directions—joy in giving and sadness in giving up—a feeling hard to shake.

Hard to Give It Up

I dealt with this feeling recently. Our son was leaving home for graduate school and his bedroom would soon be empty. What would we do with it? Without giving it much thought, I just named it and claimed it—it was going to be MY writing space. My refuge—my quiet place to read, study, and write.

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But I forgot God often has other plans. And so He did with this room.

Our sweet daughter asked if she could move back home until her wedding in May.  And, of course, we said yes. Just as we have enjoyed our son being home for a year after college, we will enjoy our daughter being with us these last months before she marries and settles in a home with her new husband.

And while excited to spend more time with her, my heart struggled to let go of MY writing space. Lord, this was supposed to be my quiet place, I whined. But God didn’t let me get away with grumbling and self-pity.

He showed me His plan. He gently whispered, “This isn’t meant to be YOUR room. This is meant to be a blessing room. Right now and always.”

A Blessing Room!

I never saw it that way before. And no wonder! My heart was so filled with a room for myself I couldn’t see a room for blessing anyone else.

When our hearts see only from the desire of our eyes, we cannot see God’s perspective and are blind to His blessings.

The Blessing Room

Asking the Lord’s forgiveness, I started to see this room with His eyes, and the excitement inside me grew. As I recognized the beauty of its purpose, all those negative feelings melted away and turned to pure joy.

A blessing room is a place of love, generosity, and hospitality. A place to bless all who enter.

This room will be a blessing…

                …for our daughter to live in until she marries.

                …for us to spend more time with her now.

                …as a guest room for visitors later on.

                …as a quiet place for study and writing when empty.

Who knows all the ways God will use it in the future.

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But here is the key. It is God’s room. It is to be used for His purposes. And He desires to bless everyone through it.

It’s the same with our hearts. They belong to God and He has created us to bless others with all the blessings He has given us.

When you make room in your heart for others, your heart itself becomes a blessing room. Always open, always giving, always full of love and grace.

And that’s the heart of God, isn’t it?

Bless All Who Enter

How to Let Go and Fully Give

So when we’re faced with those unwanted feelings that wreak of self, let’s take them captive and confess them before the Lord. He will whisper just what we need to hear to see our situation from His perspective and guide us to a new understanding. And as we surrender, our hearts will be filled with joy and peace and open to pour out God’s abundant blessings.

Do you have a blessing room?

Dearest Father, how we need to see Your perspective on every part of our lives. Reveal to us where our hearts are closed to loving others. Help us to open our hearts to You fully so we may shower Your love and grace on all those around us and be the blessing You created us to be. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Blessings to you,
Sabra
 
 
All Scripture from New International Version, 1984.
Images by Sabra Penley.
 
Linking up with my friends today on these wonderful blogs…
 
 

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Filed under Attitude, Blessing, Change, Deny Self, Doing Good, Giving, God's Purpose, Grace, Joy, Love, Sacrifice, Self

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

An Excellent Wife – A Woman’s Perspective

An excellent wife who can find? She is far more precious than jewels. (Proverbs 31:10)

Do any other wives out there read Proverbs 31 and feel just a bit lacking in the “more precious than jewels” department?

I strive to be an excellent wife. That is my goal. And my sweet husband tells me that I am. But I compare myself to all this excellent wife does, and in my estimation I come up way short.

I realize this passage speaks of an ideal wife–the wife God created me to be. And I am flawed…very flawed in some areas. I have much to learn to become like this woman.

But one thing I know to be true: My value is not in what I do or don’t do, my value is in whose I am. And I belong to the Lord.

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The value of a precious jewel is determined by many factors. The most valuable gems are durable, able to withstand a lot of pressure and not easily broken. They are pure, without imperfections. Their transparency allows for light to shine through and be reflected back out in brilliance. A large size is preferred. And most, importantly, they are authentic. These jewels are rare things of beauty.

As I think about precious jewels and these characteristics, I realize that these qualities are found in us when we walk closely with the Lord. As Proverbs 31:30 says, “…a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.”

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What are these jewel-like qualities of an excellent wife?

  • She has strength. As she places her life in the hands of the Lord, His Spirit fills her with strength to withstand whatever troubles come her way.
  • She is pure. She strives to live a righteous and holy life. And in the eyes of the God she is pure with the righteousness of Christ.
  • She is transparent. She allows others to know her weaknesses and in doing so God’s glory shines through her life.
  • She is large. (No, not in the physical sense.) She is large in heart and spirit, showing love to all.
  • She is authentic. She doesn’t pretend to love the Lord and her husband. She lives out that love every single day.

Without the Lord, I cannot be an excellent wife. Without the Lord, my value is not rare and precious. But God the Creator fashioned me after His own image.

I have a lot of rough edges and hard stuff that needs to be knocked off of my soul. But when I place my life in the hands of the Master Craftsman and allow him to cut and shape and polish me into His likeness, I am a rare and precious work of art.

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As wives, we shine forth with God’s glory as we humbly submit to Him in our marriages. As we help our husbands, support them, love them, respect them, and submit to them, we follow Christ’s example and become more beautiful with His beauty.

Let’s strive to live each day in faithful obedience to our heavenly Father that He might shape us into His likeness and we might become this most cherished of treasure for our husbands…that God’s glory may shine with His brilliance!

O Lord God, may I fear you all the days of my life. May I honor You with everything I do that I might become the excellent wife You have called me to be. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

This post has been linked up with Woman-to-Woman on 
www.4Hisgloryblog.com.For more posts on Proverbs 31,
just click on the link.
All Scripture from English Standard Version.
Images:
Hand in Hand by Jeremy Brooks via flickr (CC BY-NC 2.0)
Rings by ilovebutter via flickr (CC BY 2.0)
heart ring light by MorrowLess via flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0), 
   black/white filter added

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Filed under Love, Marriage, Sacrifice, Thankfulness, Wife, Woman-to-Woman

An Excellent Wife – A Man’s Perspective

My sweet husband, DAVID PENLEY, is sharing with us today. I am linking up with Woman-to-Woman on http://www.4HisGloryblog.com and thought I’d get the husband’s perspective on the scripture of the week: Proverbs 31:10.
 
 

Men, what is of great value to you?

A new Ferrari or Porsche (my dream car as a teen)? A high-paying job that you’ll be respected for? A son who quarterbacks for the Dolphins or Cowboys or (enter your favorite football team here)? Or maybe a son who is the winning pitcher in game seven of the World Series or wins the Masters? A summer home on the lake or oceanfront or in the mountains? All of the above and more? You get my point.

D's Jewel Collage

What about your wife? Is she of great value to you?

A godly, committed, faithful wife is worth more than all of those things combined.

“An excellent wife, who can find? For her worth is far above jewels.” – Proverbs 31:10

She is quite a treasure, “far above jewels,” and I am to look at her and treat her as such. I am to see her as being of greater worth than the most valuable thing I can think of.

God tells us how to cherish our wives throughout His Word, but my favorite command has become the simple, yet profound words in Ephesians 5:25-26: “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her, so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word.”

We men talk about loving our favorite teams, our jobs, our cars, and so on. But that kind of love is not what is mentioned here. The word translated love is the same word found in John 3:16: For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” It is also found in Ephesians 5:2:Walk in love, just as Christ loved us and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma.”

This is real love—sacrificial love. It is putting our wives’ needs, desires, good, well-being, above our own. It means spending time with her, talking to her, doing things she wants to do, even if it means putting our desires aside. It sometimes means not watching that game we think is so important. (And we are blessed to have technology today so we can record it to watch at a later time.) It means making a sacrifice in order to show love to our wives.

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A little over a year ago, I was hit with an illness that nearly killed me. I was in a coma for a while, my heart stopped, and my doctor actually used the word “miracle” when later telling me what he thought my chances of survival were at the time. My life has been changed forever. My speech has been effected to the point where I cannot preach and teach with great clarity—the two things I have done all my adult life. I was a prime candidate for depression and feeling sorry for myself.

I am convinced that two people kept that from happening. One is the Lord, who has been with me, healed me, encouraged me, and empowered me. The other person is the wife He blessed me with.

God has used my wife tremendously throughout my life, but He has used her in incredible ways over the last year. I would wake up in the hospital in the middle of the night to see her lying on the pull-out bed when she could have been much more comfortable at home. I heard her encouraging voice and words every day. She took me to my speech and physical therapy sessions and made sure I did my workouts at home. She held my hand and rubbed my shoulders when she knew I needed it. I could go on and on.

I knew I was a man blessed by God with the wife He had given me, but I saw this reality in a whole new light. I truly have “an excellent wife” whose “worth is far above jewels.” If nothing else, all of this has been worth it just to realize this.

I have certainly not been the husband I should have been through it all. I have had moments of frustration and have taken it out on her. But I now pray God’s Word every day with a sincere heart like never before: May I love Sabra just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her. And please use me, Lord, to sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word. The Lord knows my heart and knows these are not just words to me. I mean this with all my heart. My wife truly is a precious jewel to me.

I pray that we husbands realize the blessing we have in our wives. They are worth far more than any earthly treasure.

How can each of us show his wife how precious she is to us? Praying with her and studying God’s Word together is a good place to start. The excellent wife spoken of here will welcome this.

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Take some time to think about your wife’s interests and activities she enjoys. What things has she mentioned in the past that she would like to do with you? If you aren’t sure, spend some time with her and ask her. Then lay aside those things that get in the way of enjoying her company and show her love—the kind of love Christ has for us.

Our wives are indeed precious jewels. Let’s make sure they are treasured.

 

All Scripture from New American Standard Bible.

Images:
Ferrari F50 by Axion23 via flickr (CC BY 2.0)
Clayton Kershaw by Bryce Edwards via flickr (CC BY 2.0)
Eagles vs. Cowboys by Billy Bob Bain via flickr (CC BY 2.0)
Hallstatt by Sander Hoogendoorn via flickr (CC BY 2.0)
Couple on the Lakefront by Don Harder via flickr (CC BY-NC 2.0)
Kiss Me by Shutter Fotos via flickr (CC BY-NC 2.0) 

 

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Filed under Love, Marriage, Sacrifice, Thankfulness, Wife, Woman-to-Woman

Bearing in Love

Ephesians 4:2 – Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.

I used to have a picture of a teddy bear that said “Love bears all things.” As I read the verse above, I immediately thought about that little framed picture.

Teddy bears still, to this day, make me think of comfort.

Teddy Bear

And that’s the word that came to mind when I read this verse—comfort.

Who isn’t comforted by someone’s humility and gentleness and loving patience?

Loving patience…bearing with one another in love.

Such a beautiful thing. But how often do I find myself instead getting irritated or annoyed with someone, just because they aren’t moving fast enough or doing things the way I would do them or maybe they messed up again?

That is not such a beautiful thing. In fact, it’s downright ugly. Ugly self.

Self…that inward focus that says I am most important and my desires supersede all others.

But what is it that Jesus said? “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself, take up his cross daily and follow me” (Luke 9:23).

Deny self. Put others first. Isn’t that what Christ did on the cross?

I am to follow His example.

Put off self. Put on humility, gentleness, and loving patience.

Loving patience…bearing with one another in love.

This kind of patience is wrapped in gentleness and clothed in humility.

Jesus was gentle.

Jesus humbled Himself, even to death on a cross.

love bears all things

Jesus bore the weight of all our sins, endured the cross, in love…for us.

Us!

We who turn away from Him over and over…we who often don’t follow His ways…we who mess up time and again.

He, who was perfect, bore it all in love…loving patience…for us.

What comfort this brings!

How much more, then, should we (our imperfect, sinful selves) be lovingly patient with those around us? How much more should we treat others with gentleness and humble ourselves before them?

The next time I think someone is going too slow, let me remember how Jesus endured the cross…and lovingly wait.

The next time someone is doing something other than my way, let me remember how I am supposed to follow God’s way…and humbly and simply smile.

And the next time someone messes up, again, let me remember how very many times I have messed up myself and graciously help them clean up the mess.

Next time, I want to be like Christ Jesus and bring comfort to those around me through loving patience.

For “love bears all things” (1 Corinthians 13:7).

Gracious Lord, thank You for being so patient with me. Thank You for loving me and leading me by Your example how I am to live. O Lord, help me to deny myself, take up my cross, and follow You each day. Every time I start to get irritated or annoyed or impatient, help me remember all that You have given to me and how many times I have failed You. In humility and gentleness, Lord, help me to lovingly show patience to everyone. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Today I'm joining a link-up on Woman-to-Woman Wednesday at 
www.4hisgloryblog.com. Today's topic is patience. If you have 
time, we'd love for you to hop on over and read what more 
women have to say about this much-needed quality.

All Scripture is from New International Version of the Bible, 1984.

Wooden Christian Cross by Ian Britton via flickr, CC BY-NC 2.0.
Teddy bear photo by Sabra Penley.

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Filed under Comfort, Deny Self, Gentleness, Humility, Jesus, Love, Patience, Sacrifice, Self

Lord, am I willing?

Lord, am I willing?

Willing to follow You wherever you lead? Willing to do those things that I REALLY don’t want to do? Willing to say yes, no matter what?

This is the message You have been sending me these past months. This willingness to let go of SELF and live in beautiful freedom of following YOU!

But it has been a struggle, Lord. You know it has. You have watched as I have chosen to indulge myself on my desires and my “wisdom.” You have heard my internal dialogue go back and forth between what I know in my heart I should do and what my heart would rather do—give in to its deceitful desires.

Deceitful. Oh, yes. My heart is deceitful.

I know this. I have even put to memory Jeremiah 17:9: “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?” And yet I forget.

I can justify an action so quickly it’s frightening. Those conversations that play out in my mind—the debates about what to do—happen with lightning speed.

I need a warning siren…an internal noisy blast that says, “STOP! You are about to enter a danger zone!” Something so piercingly obnoxious that I cannot ignore. Like a signal from heaven that I am heading in the wrong direction.

Of course, Lord, Your Holy Spirit is my warning siren. But somehow I have turned down the volume until, at times, He is almost muted to my heart.

Forgive me, Lord! I want to be willing to follow Your every step for my life. Help me remove my hand from the controls and allow me to hear Your Holy Spirit’s voice and warnings and heed Your desires for my life.

Help me, Father, to deny myself and be willing—to desire and act on that desire—to follow You, fully and completely. Silence those internal conversations. Let the only words spoken in my heart be, “Yes, Lord.” In Jesus’ precious name, Amen.

My dear friends, the above post is an exercise in free writing, in conjunction with Lisa-Jo Baker’s Five Minute Fridays. Each week Lisa-Jo presents a word prompt. This week, it is willing. The idea is to write for five minutes (well, maybe mine is a little more for now) about this one word, whatever is on my heart. It’s an exercise in quickly putting thoughts into words. And, oh, how I need this! I don’t know if I’ll post one every Friday, but when I do, you will see the button below:

Five Minute Friday

I’m linking up with other bloggers on LisaJo Baker’s website: http://lisajobaker.com/. And if you’re interested in reading what others have written, please click on the button. You’ll find Lisa Jo’s own post and below it links to many other blogs. Thanks for reading! My regular weekly post will be up tomorrow.

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Filed under Five Minute Friday, Sacrifice, Self

Selfless

If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.                                                      — Luke 9:23

Everywhere in the blogosphere I turn this week I’ve read about finding my one word for 2014. It’s been the topic of many a post that’s made its way to my inbox. One even had a link to the One Word movement’s website (who knew?).

I recognize that I’m not the most up-to-date gal out there, but I had no idea this was such a big thing. I’ve often heard people speak about having a focus Bible verse for the year or a particular area to work on. But labeling a year with one word is new to me.

So, I began to look over last year and see if I could determine what one word would sufficiently fit 2013. When I started the year, I probably would have said “focus.” And much of what I learned over the next twelve months did direct me to keep my focus on the Lord and not circumstances.

Looking back now, though, the one word I believe best describes 2013 would be GRACE. My, how we were blessed with God’s magnificent grace! The year was filled with miracles, loving support, unexpected provision, amazing peace and joy, and a whole host of other blessings brought about by the sweet love of God. He taught me to trust in His grace as the all-sufficient conduit for our every need.

Of course, 2013 is behind us, and we are indeed grateful for all those blessings. Now it is time to look ahead to 2014.

I suppose I could have picked anything to focus on this year. But I wanted it to be God’s choice. (He knows me best!) Through prayer, it became pretty clear what I needed to work on: denying self, sacrifice, humility, and love. Four separate things, and yet, they are interrelated.

Denying self is a form of sacrifice, and doing it for the sake of the Lord and others is a form of love and humility.

The Lord keeps impressing on my mind Jesus’ words in Luke 9:23: If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.”

Deny Self

I’ll admit it…I don’t like to deny myself. In a former post I shared about my tendency to be self-centered and give in to the things I desire. I like living in my comfort zone. God knows me so well! But a self-centered life is not a Christ-centered life. And I need to learn some lessons.

Compelled to find just one word based on those four things, I believe I have discovered a word that just might fit: SELFLESS. It might not mean those four things to anyone else, but it is a way for me to remember in one tight little word what I should strive for each day of this year.

SELFLESS…to deny my wants over the needs and wants of others

SELFLESS…to sacrifice whenever God places opportunities of ministry before me

SELFLESS…to humbly submit to my Lord in every way

SELFLESS…to not think of myself more highly than I ought

SELFLESS…to go out of my way to show love to others

SELFLESS…to obey God and trust my life to His control

SELFLESS…to love the Lord my God with all my heart and all my soul and all my strength

SELFLESS.

You know what? I completely forgot about it on New Year’s Day. I did! I was completely engrossed in having a quiet holiday and doing whatever I wanted to do. Oops. (Forgive me, Lord.)

I’m afraid that’s often how it is with me. I pray and strive to see what God wants me to do, and just as soon as I get my answer, I forget. I keep doing what I’ve always done.

But praise be to God! The Bible tells us His compassions are new every morning: Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness (Lamentations 3:22-23).

Lamentations 3.22-23

Therefore, today is a start-fresh day. And this is the day God has called me to.  I must focus on denying myself and loving others in humility each and every day. Otherwise, I will get sidetracked, and this time next year SELFLESS won’t describe my year at all.

So, that’s my one word for this year—SELFLESS.

What’s yours?

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Post images by Sabra Penley

Scripture from the New International Version of the Bible, 1984

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Filed under Humility, Lessons, Love, Sacrifice, Self