By His Grace

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jesus hug

I recently started reading a book by Philip Yancey, “The Jesus I Never Knew”.  I’ve been on a search of a book that will catch my attention in the first few pages and I am happy to say I have found it.  I’ve been wanting to learn more about Jesus and have had an inner tug at the back of my thoughts recently to go back to the beginning.  Life can be so hard at times and so confusing.  I find myself slipping away from the very thing that has always kept me grounded and moving forward.   That “thing” is my relationship with Jesus and all he has done for me.  Simply reading and studying Jesus again undoubtedly brings me closer to Him but it also gives me a sense of peace and purpose in this life.

The birth of Jesus was so important that it split history into two parts.  B.C. and A. D.  When studying history we usually always see these dates Before Christ or After Death.  But Jesus isn’t just someone who changed history but he is the one who holds the secret of eternity. 

“I tell you, whoever acknowledges me before men, the Son of Man will also acknowledge him before the angels of God,”  Jesus said in Luke 12:8 (nlt)

According to Jesus, what I think about him and how I respond will determine my destiny for all eternity.  Many of us believe that Jesus was brave, sinless and emotionally stable.  We regard him as easy to understand, physically strong and attractive, practical, warm and accepting.   In spite of how we see perceive him,  many of us who look for Jesus cannot see past our own noses.

Jesus himself, when challenged, didn’t offer airtight proofs of his identity.  It’s as if he welcomed the risk of dissection by saying, “Examine me.  Test me.   You decide”.   Jesus would drop clues here and there about who he was but he also said, after appealing to the evidence, “Blessed is he who takes no offense at me.”

The actions and behaviors of other people affected Jesus deeply:  stubbornness frustrated him, self-righteousness infuriated him, simple faith thrilled him.  Jesus seemed more emotional and spontaneous than the average person, not less.  More passionate, not less. 

Two words that could never be applied to the Jesus of the Gospels is:  boring and predictable.

Much of what I’ve written above may be directly from the book because honestly I just couldn’t figure out a way to paraphrase it to make it any better than what was already written.  So I give Philip Yancey the credit where credit it due.  Smile  It is my hope that as I read more of this wonderful book I will have more posts about “Learning Jesus”.  Thanks for reading everyone and God bless you all!

to you with love

“I want you to learn a new habit.  Try saying, ‘I trust you, Jesus’, in response to whatever happens to you.  If there is time, think about who I am in all My power and glory; ponder also the depth and breadth of My love for you.

This simple practice will help you see Me in every situation, acknowledging My sovereign control over the universe.  When you view events from this perspective — through the Light of My universal presence — fear loses its grip on you.  Adverse circumstances become growth opportunities when you affirm your trust in Me no matter what.  You receive blessings gratefully, realizing they flow directly from My hand of grace.  Your continual assertion of trusting Me will strengthen our relationship and keep you close to Me.”

excerpt from “Jesus Calling”, by Sarah Young

 

Ever wonder what God really thinks of you?  How often have we said to ourselves, “if people really knew the real me……”?  God knowsfeel ugly the real you.  He knows your thoughts, your desires, your likes and dislikes.  He knows your past.  He knows your future.  God knows your heart!  It is in our hearts that the real you and me exist.  We may be able to say the right things or get people to believe we are one way when we are not.  But God sees our true character, the part of us that no one sees.

“Nothing in all creation can hide from Him.  Everything is naked and exposed before His eyes.  This is the God to whom we must explain all that we have done.”  (Hebrews 5:13 NLT)

I’ve been in situations before when no one believed me.  No matter how much I argued or tried to convince them I was telling the truth, they still thought I was lying.  This was very frustrating and in a way, I felt hurt.  This was especially true in the beginning of my sobriety.  My family and friends couldn’t trust me or believe anything that I said.  This mistrust was of my own doing, I realized that.  But I took great strength and comfort knowing that God knew the truth.  God knew my heart.   I eventually would answer back saying, “You can choose to believe me or not.  That’s your choice.  But God knows my heart and whether or not I am being truthful.”

God knows the truth about every one of us.  And yet despite all our faults and mistakes, He loves us unconditionally.  We don’t have to put on a front with God or try to convince Him we have changed.  He already knows.  When God chose us to be His children, He already knew what He was getting Himself into.  We are no surprise to Him!

God sees us as His created children.  Gen. 1:27

God sees us as humans who struggle with sin.  Rom. 7:19

God sees us as capable, loving and strong.  2 Tim. 3:7

God sees our thoughts and intentions.  1 Sam. 16:7

God sees us as valuable.  Matt. 6:26,  10:29-31

God sees our potential and possibilities.  Rev. 3:8

There are so many hurting people in this world.  I come into contact with many different kinds of individuals in my daily life.  I have noticed there is a common thread amongst most of them.  This common thread is the fact that these people are lonely.  They feel rejected.  They are broken.  They don’t like themselves and carry much guilt and anger.  If I can uplift them in any way I would tell them they would feel so much better if they could just see themselves as God sees them.  That He loves them and will never abandon them.  That God is with them constantly, even before they open their eyes in the morning, He is there for them.

“….do not be afraid or discouraged.  For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9

TRUST IN THE LORD

God has pulled me through so many difficult circumstances in my life I can not count. And yet, I still struggle with worry and fear. When a situation comes into my life that is unpleasant, I instantly feel that sicky feeling in my stomach and my heart races. I really don’t like this about myself and this problem is probably what I want to change most about myself today.

My faith in God has certainty strengthened through the years. He has done tremendous works in my life. In hindsight, I see extraordinary circumstances that just seemed to work out for the better without much of my doing. It was most certainly God working good in my life.

And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to His purpose for them.” Romans 8:28 (NLT)

Have you ever thought just how busy God is making everything work together for our good? Look at all the mistakes we make. Look at the mess we can make in our lives from sinning. And yet God always comes through for us. Granted, God’s timing is not our timing. Sometimes God works quickly to resolve our problems, and sometimes He works slowly. Very slowly. It is during these slow processes that our faith is tested.

But my issue is with my FIRST response to unpleasant news. I do eventually calm down after a few minutes and start to pray for His help. I ask for comfort and the strength to endure. And I also pray to help me trust Him. The frustrating part is that I DO trust Him! And yet my someday-ahia-b (300x199)first response is fear and worry. I don’t get it. How do I change this about myself? Am I just built this way? God has changed so much about my life and my way of thinking, but this part of me hasn’t changed. I am aware that the difficulties that arise in my life are definitely coming from when I chose to go outside of God’s Will.

Awareness of where my problems start is one thing. I guess that can count for something. But awareness does nothing if not followed by practicing faith in God’s promises and what He says in His Word.

Casting the whole of your care [all your anxieties, all your worries, all your concerns, once and for all] on Him, for He cares for you affectionately and cares about you watchfully”. 1 Peter 5:7 (AMP)

You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, whose thoughts are fixed on you!” Isaiah 26:3 (NLT)

Find-the-joy-of-the-lord

I think if you ask just about any person what they want most out of life, their answer will be, “I just want to be happy”.   Sure some will say they want to be “rich”.  But that answer actually just means they think being rich will make them happy.   I know as a parent, what we want most for our children is for them to be happy no matter what they choose for their life.  If our children are happy, then we as parents are more relaxed, less worried about them and well….happier ourselves too.

“You are being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might, so that you might patiently endure everything with joy.”  Colossians 1:11 (ISV)

The apostle Paul prayed for the Colossians that they may endure every circumstance with joy.  I believe Paul also used this prayer in his own life as well.  Paul went through horrendous circumstances during his ministry.  The average man could never have endured what Paul went through but Paul was strengthened by God’s mighty power and dedicated himself to preaching the Good News of Christ no matter what the outcome.  This same mighty power of God in available to us today!  The apostle Paul is really no different than you and me.  He started out a sinner, just like us.  In fact, Paul sin’s before turning his life over to Christ, included murder, extortion and severe brutality toward Christians.

There is a saying that “a grateful heart is a joyful heart”.  But what about the little things that creep up in our daily lives that make us think “this really stinks” followed by a big sigh and a slumping of our shoulders?  I’d like to share with you a personal experience I had.  I wasn’t happy in my last job.  I am a server and I didn’t like a lot of the clientele that came into the restaurant.  I would find myself thinking of these people as “bottom of the barrel”.  But mostly people were just plain cheap.  Didn’t they realize I have rent to pay?  My thoughts were all backwards about this situation at work.  I was basing my happiness on what each table was tipping me.  So I would be happy for this table but then unhappy with that table.  It was constant up and down happiness my entire shift.  It got to a point where I really hated my job and the atmosphere of this restaurant.  I hated the hours and how exhausted I was every night.  I would ask God numerous times throughout every shift to please get me out of this job!  Please open a door and give me another job, please!

The Holy Spirit spoke loud and clear to me one night.  He told me, “Michele, you are praying the wrong prayer.”  I didn’t understand at first but then another inner tug and I heard it again, “Michele, you are praying the wrong prayer.  God is not going to give you another job until you figure out how to have joy with this one.”  BAM!  I stood frozen for a minute and said to myself, “Wow, you’re right.  Why would God give me another job to complain about?  If I can’t find joy in this somehow I am going to be stuck here for a long time until I pass this test.”

So I started fervently praying for God to give me the strength to endure this job with joy. I  prayed this prayer constantly and practiced with success and error.   In about 2 weeks time, God opened another door and gave me a new job.  I didn’t even have to interview for this job.  It was that easy.  It’s a nicer restaurant, better clientele and bigger tips.

The Lord wants us to find joy in our trials.  He wants us to find peace in suffering.  He wants us to be happy!  When God opened the door I needed, I thought to myself, “Stop being miserable, God is on your side.  You are not alone in anything.”

I ask for God to help you in your sufferings and for Him to show you that you can find happiness and joy no matter what our daily circumstances.  Ask God to keep you sensitive to the Holy Spirit’s leading and guidance and to help you endure all things with strength and joy.

So I pray that God, who gives you hope, will keep you happy and full of peace as you believe in Him. May you overflow with hope through the power of the Holy Spirit”. Romans 15:13 (NLT)

The were two things I was sure of in this world— One was that I knew I would use drugs and alcohol that day and the other was the inner turmoil that came with it. This inner self-torture was so horrific that I thought the only way to get rid of it was to get high and numb it out. I thought to myself, “ If I could just stay high all the time I would be fine.” I didn’t think there was any way out of my life of addiction. Well, except for jail or death. I know I didn’t want to go to jail. I couldn’t get high in jail and that would drive me crazy. But the other was death. I welcomed it. Anything to get me out of my misery. I lost all hope for myself. I was hopeless and empty.

There is hope for the addict. That hope is in Jesus Christ. Jesus died on the cross for our sins and through the power of God the Father, He was raised from the dead. The death of Jesus Christ on the cross enables us to have a pathway to the Almighty God. It is through God’s power an addict will get clean and stay clean. God is a God of hope. All hope rests in Him. I thought I was a lost cause. I truly believed that I would never be able to change. I had the desire to stop, but did I have the desire to stay stopped? Many times I thought I did, but I failed over and over again. The only way to “stay stopped” is through the power and strength of our Lord and Savior.hope-1 God loves you and me. He loves us more than our parents love us. He loves us more than our spouses and children love us. God sees our pain. He counts our tears. He knows the number of hairs we have on our head. He knows us! He knows us better than we know ourselves. He wants us to reach out to Him. As addicts, we lose everything. But when there is nothing left, there is the God of hope.

~~~~~~~~~~~

Dear Heavenly Father, please help me know there is hope in You. I can’t do this without You. You are my only hope. Please show me, teach me, rescue me and free me from addiction. In Jesus name, I pray, Amen.

breathtaking_sunsets

If I don’t have any other testimony, I have this…”I’m still here”.

This past year has brought many struggles, much confusion but also revelation.  Much of the bad stuff was of my own doing, making poor choices and getting myself in trouble.

Once again God saved me from myself.  God’s love for me blows my mind really.

You know the verse that says, “pray for your enemies”?  I tried this with my boss.  Granted, my boss really isn’t my enemy but sometimes the way he treats me it feels like he is.  He can be pretty brutal with his words.  And I can have a pretty bad attitude when it comes to someone verbally attacking me,  or rather I “perceive” it as an attack.  I was becoming pretty miserable and hating going to work every day.  I DREADED it when I saw my boss’s car when I pulled up so I would sit in my car for a few minutes before every shift and ask God to help me get through my shift without getting upset, or storming out, or getting a bad attitude, and I would ask God to keep me tough and help me get through it biting my tongue, help me, help me………..

And then one day I got a smack upside the head!!   The Holy Spirit said flat out, “Michele, you are praying the wrong prayer”.  You should be praying for your boss. So I listened and started praying for my boss.  I prayed with sincerity and that’s when things started to change.  He wasn’t as rude and nasty to me like he usually was.  He wasn’t constantly down my back about stuff.  It changed!!  or was it me who changed?

All I can say is the Lord is an amazing and wonderful God.  He takes my breathe away.  In everything I do I want to bring glory to Him.   Through my prayers, through my mistakes, through my job, and through my daily life I praise Him.


A little about me........my name is Michele and I am a born-again Christian. I was saved as a teenager and graduated from a Christian high school. I am a mother of one son who is the world to me. Despite my upbringing, later in life I fell into a life of self destruction which led me down many dark paths. I am a recovering addict and alcoholic and I have a great passion for Christ and His amazing power to heal even the worst cases. I am living proof of the miracle of God's power to change your life and way of thinking. Nothing is impossible with God.

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