Believers of Jesus Standing in Grace

“Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand . . .” Romans 5:1-2 NIV

The apostle Paul, who wrote the above words to first century believers in Rome, could sure power-pack a sentence, couldn’t he? Just look at the topics he touched on: faith, justification, peace with God, our Lord Jesus Christ, gaining access, grace. Wow, what crucial and life-changing issues.

Each part of the passage above is worthy of reflection, but today let’s take a closer look at the last few words—“this grace in which we now stand.” Just think about it. As believers, we are standing in grace. Yes, standing in grace! How thrilling is that?

Of course our very salvation, eternal life, and status as children of God are all gifts of grace—given to us because Jesus paid the price for our sins on the cross. But every blessing that comes to us is a grace gift, isn’t it? John, who referred to himself as the disciple whom Jesus loved, said, “Out of the fullness of his grace he has blessed us all, giving us one blessing after another.” (John 1:16 GNT)

I don’t know about you, but I’m not only standing in grace—I’m dripping in grace. The gift and privilege of being a child of God, of being right with him because of what Jesus did, is more than enough to have me feeling bathed in grace all the time. But all the blessings he continues to pour out on me keep me dripping in grace with every step I take.

I pray that his grace will shine through me each day. I pray that any joy I feel in his blessings will reflect back to him, the Giver of all good gifts. May all who cross my path see me as I am—see me standing in grace. May all who cross my path see him.

“. . . and they took note that these men had been with Jesus.” Acts 4:13 NIV

*What’s one of the recent grace gifts God has given you?

*The next issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter with a giveaway in every regularly scheduled issue, will come out in early August. Sign-up is FREE. *Temporary problem with Life Notes sign-up. To sign up, just contact me.

*For info about my book Mother of the Bride check out my Books/My Work page.

*Flickr photo by Anemone Jones, Creative Commons License

Surrounded by the Lord

“As the mountains surround Jerusalem, so the LORD surrounds his people both now and forevermore.” Psalm 125:2 NIV

I love this verse. After rediscovering it several years ago, I personalized it and made it part of my early morning prayer each day. Before even getting out of bed, I gave the Lord my day and placed my times in his hands. Then along with a few basic requests, I added, “And Lord, as the mountains surround Jerusalem, so surround me with your peace and your protection.”

Sometimes the thought of being surrounded brings up negative images, but that’s certainly not the case here. Not for me—not when it’s the Lord doing the surrounding.

I suppose if someone didn’t love the Lord or was trying to run or hide from him, it would be a frightening prospect to be surrounded by the Almighty. But for those who know and love him and look to him for help, great comfort lies in the precious knowledge of his surrounding presence and care.

The image of mountains, so strong and protective, surrounding a little town paints the perfect picture of what the Lord does for us, his people. The Lord stands guard, ever watchful, ever ready to protect and guide. He provides majesty and beauty, adventure and stability. He keeps us nestled in his peace as we look to him.

Each day let’s picture ourselves surrounded by the Lord. Let’s relax in his care. Let’s snuggle down into that place of peace he has reserved for us. Let’s fix our eyes on him. Let’s be surrounded by his peace.

“I lift up my eyes to the mountains—
    where does my help come from?
 My help comes from the Lord,
    the Maker of heaven and earth.

He will not let your foot slip—
    he who watches over you will not slumber;
indeed, he who watches over Israel
    will neither slumber nor sleep.

The Lord watches over you—
    the Lord is your shade at your right hand;
the sun will not harm you by day,
    nor the moon by night.

The Lord will keep you from all harm—
    he will watch over your life;
the Lord will watch over your coming and going
    both now and forevermore.” Psalm 121 NIV

*When have you felt supernaturally surrounded by God’s peace?

*The next issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter, comes out in early May. One lucky subscriber (new or current) will receive a $15 gift card to Barnes & Noble and a signed copy of my book to use personally, give as a gift, or donate to a library. *Temporary problem with Life Notes sign-up. To sign up, just contact me.

*For info about my book Mother of the Bride and also my Wedding Inspiration cards, check out my Books/My Work page.

*Flickr photo by It’s No Game, Creative Commons License

After the Wedding: Thank Vendors Who Shined

Mother of the Bride, as your daughter’s wedding day unfolds, you will notice which vendors really shine in carrying out their roles. Hopefully they’ll all do a wonderful job, but one or two will probably disappoint. On the other hand, one or two will amaze. And those are the ones that will make your day.

So when a vendor does a top-notch job and goes above and beyond what you expected, why not send him or her a thank you note in the days following the wedding? Why not return the blessing? I guarantee you will make her day with your thoughtful gesture. After all, words of appreciation keep us all encouraged and motivated to do our best, no matter the work we do.

Here’s the note I sent the cake designer who not only crowned our daughter Kristin’s wedding reception with a taste of heaven but surprised us with a beautiful visual touch to all of our tables as well:

Emeline, I just had to drop you a note to thank you for the absolutely wonderful job you did on the cakes for Kristin and Shawn’s wedding. They were beautiful and out-of-this-world delicious! I also so appreciated the fresh flower petals you sprinkled around on the tables—that was such a special unexpected surprise. It added so much to the beauty of the tables. Thanks for going out of your way to do that for us!

God blessed in so many ways to help us have a wonderful wedding celebration, and you were one of those blessings.

Thanks again!
Cheryl Barker

Not only did my note bless this vendor (she sent an email thank you that same day), but it gave her another name she could add with confidence to her list of references. Remember, giving a glowing report when asked about a vendor’s services is another terrific way to keep showing your appreciation in the future.

Even though you may be ready to close the books, MOB, on your wedding responsibilities as soon as you pull away from the reception venue, take a moment to thank those who helped make your baby girl’s big day extra special. It’s your turn to bless them!

*You might also like to read Time-Saving Tip: Insider Info from Vendors and Wedding Savings Tip: Ask for Price Breaks.

*For info about my book Mother of the Bride and also my Wedding Inspiration cards, check out my Books/My Work page.

*The next issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter, comes out in early May. One lucky subscriber (new or current) will receive a $15 gift card to Barnes & Noble and a signed copy of my book to use personally, give as a gift, or donate to a library. *Temporary problem with Life Notes sign-up. To sign up, just contact me.

*Flickr photo by Virginia L.Creative Commons License

Shot of Joy: Always Needed and Welcomed

Could any of you use a shot of joy? A fresh infusion of lighthearted spirits and smiles? If so, get in line behind me!

Between duties, deadlines, and disappointments, life has a way of bogging us down in seriousness. Even the winter days of the past few months can add to the down feelings we sometimes experience. We need some happy moments each day to help keep us looking up—and to keep us fit to live with, right?

Sometimes all it takes is a silly commercial or a clever cartoon to strike our funny bones. Other times we get a needed boost from a sweet card in the mail or an unexpected FaceTime call or Marco Polo from a loved one or friend. A day that had been a downer takes a welcome turn all because of one little shot of joy.

Are we doing our parts to be that infusion of joy for someone else? If we ourselves need happy moments each day, are we faithfully dispensing joyful moments to others as well? Maybe it’s time to make a call or send an unexpected text . Or to bake a special treat for someone on your heart or surprise someone with a little gift. We can even brighten a complete stranger’s day with a kind word or helping hand.

What about our hearts’ deepest needs for refreshment? Are we looking to the ultimate Source of joy to fill that need? Things we do for one another certainly bring sunshine into our days, but there is a deeper thirst for joy and renewal that only our Creator and Savior can fill.

Let’s meet with God in his Word, in the great outdoors, or in the sanctuary of our hearts and let him infuse us with his deep and abiding joy. The shot of joy he will give is like no other. It can rise amid tears. It can sustain during drought. It lives in winter. His is the shot of joy that will keep us looking up.

“. . . the joy of the LORD is your strength.” Nehemiah 8:10 NIV

*What will you do to share joy with someone this week?

*The new issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter with a giveaway in every regularly scheduled issue, came out earlier this month. It’s not too late to receive it. Sign-up is free and to the right! (If you’re on a mobile device, scroll to the bottom of the screen and click View Full Site to find it.)  Temporary problem with Life Notes sign-up. To sign up, just contact me.

*For info about my book Mother of the Bride and also my Wedding Inspiration cards, check out my Books/My Work page.

Photo by Samantha Fortney on Unsplash

Hungry For More: Ice Cream and God’s Word

Maybe just another bite. That’s what I often think as I’m standing at my kitchen counter eating ice cream straight out of the carton. I usually limit myself to three bites (or one if I’m trying to drop a pound or two), but sometimes it tastes so darn good, I’ve gotta go in for just a little more. Just another bite to satisfy that craving.

I’ve found myself feeling that way as I close my Bible before too. As I start to put it away, I feel compelled to open it again for just another taste. I’m hungry for more. I need just another bite to satisfy my craving for God’s life-giving words.

Maybe it’s because my selected reading was kind of short for that day. Or maybe my spirit is searching for direction about something. But maybe the Word just tastes so darn good, I’ve gotta go in for a little more.

Whatever the reason, I follow the impulse to read a little more. I’m so glad I don’t have to limit myself to three bites of the Word like I do with my ice cream indulgences. In fact, the more I indulge in the Word, the better. And you know what? When I’m hungry for more, God always serves up a heaping portion of satisfaction. And I must say, it tastes awfully good!

“How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth!” Psalm 119:103 NIV

*What part of the Bible have you been reading lately?

*The new issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter with a giveaway in every regularly scheduled issue, comes out today. It’s not too late to receive it. Sign-up is free and to the right! (If you’re on a mobile device, scroll to the bottom of the screen and click View Full Site to find it.)  Temporary problem with Life Notes sign-up. To sign up, just contact me.

*For info about my book Mother of the Bride and also my Wedding Inspiration cards, check out my Books/My Work page.

*Flickr photo by Mark BonicaCreative Commons License