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

Sow in Tears, Reap with Joy

“Those who sow in tears will reap with songs of joy. Those who go out weeping, carrying seed to sow, will return with songs of joy, carrying sheaves with them.” Psalm 126:5-6 NIV

What does it mean to sow in tears? I’m sure there’s more than one way to interpret these verses, but one thing I think of as I read them is prayer.

We sow seed as we pray for those who have never come to faith in Christ. We sow as we pray for those who have drifted away from God and as we pray for the needs of our churches. But how earnestly do we intercede for these deep needs?

When was the last time our tears flowed or we experienced internal anguish as we prayed for a family member, a friend, or someone else’s loved one to give his or her heart to the Lord? Or to come back to him? When was the last time we wept over a people group deluded by a false religion? When was the last time we sowed in tears? I admit these questions convict me, and I wonder if they do you as well.

If we’re not careful, our prayers can be half-hearted or superficial. To sow in tears we must take time to care. We must open our hearts and love people. If we do this, their separation from God will surely drive us to our knees—and to tears.

So yes, when we care, we will feel sorrow, but the Word tells us we will also “reap with songs of joy.” And when it comes to the salvation or restoration of a soul, one song of joy will be worth a thousand tears.

“I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were cursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my people . . .” Romans 9:2-3 NIV

*When have you reaped with songs of joy after sowing in tears for someone?

*The next issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter with a giveaway in every regularly scheduled issue, will come out in early November. 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 MarLeah JoyCreative Commons License

Life on a Higher Plane

Living in small-town Mid-America, we don’t usually have to worry about air traffic control. In fact, we don’t even have to worry about ground traffic control. Ha! However, one morning several years ago when I looked out my front door, I couldn’t believe the activity overhead.

My upturned gaze spotted the jet stream of no less than five planes as they criss-crossed the cloudless blue sky. All of a sudden, another world—a busy world I don’t usually think about—captured my attention.

Since we live about seventy-five miles from the nearest major airport and don’t have many visual reminders of airline activity, the day-in and day-out business of flying the friendly skies isn’t often on my mind. But the sight above me that morning changed all that in an instant.

I got a peek at life on a higher plane (excuse the pun), and it evidently is not only a friendly place (if we believe the ads) but a busy place as well. What’s more amazing is that what I saw is just the tip of the iceberg.

If we had eyes to see and conditions that allowed it, we’d see that this busy scene overhead is taking place across the entire country—and even the world. People are on the move. Life is happening above us at all times.

Another world high above—a heavenly world—captures my attention daily as I worship the Lord and come to him in prayer. But sometimes I forget about all the activity going on around him. Life is happening there. Angels and saints must be on the move at all times. They most certainly are experiencing life on a higher plane!

What’s even more amazing is that if we’ve placed our faith in Christ, if we’ve asked him to be our Savior, we will one day join that heavenly world. We, too, will live life on a higher plane. And that’s some overhead activity I don’t want to miss. That’s the kind of busy I won’t mind!

“Then the angel showed me. . . The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, and his servants will serve him. . . There will be no more night. They will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord God will give them light. And they will reign for ever and ever.” Revelation 22:1, 3, 5 NIV

*What are you particularly looking forward to in heaven? If you’ve not yet placed your faith in Christ, I encourage you to do so today!

*The current 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.

*Flickr photo by Al Pavangkanan, Creative Commons License

7 Sentence-Prayers Inviting God’s Power—In the Lives of Unbelievers

A new month means a new installment in my monthly blog series featuring sentence prayers inviting God’s power and this month we’ll focus on unbelievers.

Most of us have family and friends who have never come to a personal faith in Jesus Christ. Our hearts ache with the knowledge that they don’t have the same sure hope we do of eternal life in heaven with the Lord when our lives on this earth are finished. We are concerned as well for casual acquaintances and entire people groups around the world.

Through our prayers we can help prepare the way for unbelieving hearts to be open to the good news of a Savior for all. Here are some prayers that can have an eternal impact in the lives of those you’re concerned for. Let’s be faithful to pray—and ready to share!

7 Sentence-Prayers Inviting God’s Power—In the Lives of Unbelievers

  1. Lord, soften the hearts of unbelievers in my world and beyond and help them become seekers with a hunger and a thirst to know the truth—to know you. (Ezekiel 36:26; Matthew 5:6; Acts 16:30)
  2. Father, send out workers into the harvest field—people who will share the good news of salvation in Christ—and please bring about your divine appointments with those who need to hear. (Matthew 28:18-20; Luke 10:2; Acts 8:26-39; Romans 10:15)
  3. Lord, remove the blinders and lift the veil of darkness and spiritual blindness so they can see and believe that Jesus is the Son of God, the Savior of the world. (2 Corinthians 4:4; 2 Corinthians 3:14-17; John 3:16; 20:31)
  4. Holy Spirit, convict unbelievers of their sin and their need for a Savior. (John 6:44; 16:7-8; Romans 6:23)
  5. Father, open doors for spiritual conversation with those who don’t know you and give me the words to say, helping me to speak the truth in love. (Matthew 10:18-20; Ephesians 4:15; Colossians 4:5-6)
  6. Lord, place a hedge of protection around your planted Word so that the devil won’t steal the truth and hope of eternal life that it can bring. (Mark 4:15; John 5:24; 17;17; Colossians 1:25-27)
  7. Lord, open their hearts to respond to the message you’ve sent to them, giving  them ears to hear. (Acts 16:14; Mark 4:9)

As you make these prayers your own, may God work in hearts in a mighty way, bringing all to salvation!

For God says, “At just the right time, I heard you. On the day of salvation, I helped you.” Indeed, the “right time” is now. Today is the day of salvation.” 2 Corinthians 6:2 NLV

*What other sentence prayers can you add?

*The next issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter with a giveaway in every regularly scheduled issue, will come out in early May. 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.)

*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 dtcchc, Creative Commons License

Prayer to Pray for Unbelievers and for Those Sharing Christ With Them

The Lord opened her heart to respond to Paul’s message.” Acts 16:14 NIV

We followers of Christ long for those who don’t know him to place their faith in him and let God give them his free gift of forgiveness and eternal life. What hope, what joy, what peace we find when we ask God to forgive our sins and be our Lord and Savior. We want all people to experience the same. We want all to come into God’s family. 

One of the most important things we can do to help unbelievers come to faith is to pray for them. And not only them, but also those who are sharing Christ with them. Family, friends, neighbors, coworkers, pastors, group leaders, mission team members, and missionaries. The first group needs their hearts prepared to hear the good news, and those sharing with them need the right words to say, sensitivity to the Spirit’s leading, and boldness to share as God leads.

As inferred above in the verse from Acts, one way to pray specifically is to ask God to open unbelievers’ hearts to respond to the message of those sharing Christ with them. God is the one who can bring about changes in a person’s heart so we need to pray accordingly. We need to ask him to open hearts.

If we know the names of the ones who are reaching out to them with the good news, we can pray even more specifically. We can mention their names in our prayers and ask God to help the unbelievers respond to their message. For example, “Lord, open Diana’s heart to respond to Phil’s message.”

Such a brief prayer but what a life-changing result it can bring. Let’s be faithful to pray for unbelievers. Let’s ask God to open hearts.

Be joyful in hope . . . faithful in prayer.” Romans 12:12 NIV

*What are some other ways to pray for unbelievers?

*The next issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter with a giveaway in every regularly scheduled issue, will come out in early November. 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.

*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 Angela-xujing, Creative Commons License