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

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

Worthy of Our Pursuit

“. . . pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness.” 1 Timothy 6:11 NIV

When you hear the word “pursue” what comes to mind? I think of going after something or someone—striving to capture or attain a deeply desired object, person, quality, or state of being. When we have to pursue something, it doesn’t just fall into our laps or happen naturally. “Pursue” speaks of action, involvement, effort.

From our earliest days, the world around us teaches us to pursue certain things. Money, education, good jobs, status, relationships, possessions, health, beauty, success—in other words, the American dream.

None of these things are wrong and can, in fact, be used for great good. But if we’re focused on what the world holds up as worthy of pursuit, chances are we’ll neglect things far more important.

In the scripture above, look at what Paul instructs Timothy to pursue: righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance, and gentleness. In using the word pursue, Paul must have known that these things would not come automatically to Timothy. He knew Timothy would have to go after them. He knew he would have to take action, that he would have to make an effort.

Take a closer look at Paul’s list. It’s filled with some biggies, isn’t it? And if these qualities are not easily manifested in my life, it shouldn’t surprise me—they take effort. I have to go after them. (Personally, I struggle with gentleness in certain situations so I’m encouraged to know that it does indeed take work. And isn’t it interesting that gentleness is keeping company with major spiritual pursuits like godliness and love? Wow.)

So what are we pursuing in our lives right now? Do we need to make some adjustments or additions to our lists? Let’s not reach the end of our days and discover we’ve spent all our efforts going after things that won’t matter in eternity. May all of our pursuits be worthy. May they all be guided by God.

“But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” Matthew 6:33 KJV

*What are you planning to pursue this year?

*The next issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter, comes out in early February. One lucky subscriber (new or current) will receive a $15 gift card to Starbucks and a signed copy of my book to use personally, give as a gift, or donate to a library. 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.) p.s. If you sign up after Jan. 27th, you will be included in all future Life Notes giveaways but not in this current giveaway.

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

Photo by Joel & Jasmin Førestbird on Unsplash

Ring Out, Ring On!

“The Lord’s message rang out from you . . .” 1 Thessalonians 1:8 NIV

If you’ve read my writings for any length of time, you know that I want my words—whether here or in other venues—to be a source of refreshment, encouragement, and nourishment for all who read them. I hope you’ve been blessed and have heard the Lord speak to your heart when you’ve read my blog posts or other things I’ve written over the years.

But you know what? That works both ways. Many of you have blessed me at different times by telling me that my words have touched you in some way or that God has given you—through my writing—just the word you needed to hear on that particular day. I can’t tell you what an encouragement that is to me. Those are the kinds of things that keep a writer writing.

In fact, your words—whether through blog comments, notes, messages on Facebook, emails, words spoken face to face, or your own writings if you’re a writer—have many times been just the words I needed to hear.

Sometimes it’s been a message of encouragement from the Lord to help me stay committed to the calling he’s given me, but many other times he’s spoken through you to give me strength, wisdom, or direction for any number of personal issues I’ve faced.

What it boils down to is this: You don’t have to be a writer or a teacher or a preacher for the Lord’s message to ring out from you. You can simply be you. All you need is a willingness to speak words of kindness, truth, inspiration, thanks, wisdom, comfort, or encouragement. So ring on, my friends, ring on!

“But my mouth would encourage you; comfort from my lips would bring you relief.” Job 16:5 NIV

*How have someone’s words been a message from God ringing out to you recently?

*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 alykat, Creative Commons License