Saturday, August 20, 2011

Happy Saturday!

What a wonderful day! I went to the Brighton Anniversary Party today. I entered a drawing for a door prize. About 8:15 tonight I received a phone call from the Brighton Store telling that I won a door prize. The prize is a charm bracelet. I am going to pick it up after worship tomorrow. I am so excited!

I also attended a one day Women’s Retreat at Advent Lutheran Church today. The study was titled Renew, Reflect, Respond. The study was led by three extraordinary women, and was about several women of the Bible: Mary, the mother of Jesus, Sarah, Hagar and the woman who used the last of her oil and flour to feed Elijah in 2 Kings. These were stories of women in different stages of their lives and how their faith was increased through adversity. These women were not perfect but they each had an encounter with God and their lives were changed forever.

Prayer: Father, today, I am going to need Your grace. I know many things will come my way that will discourage me and defeat me. I am still grateful. I walk by faith and live in grace. Keep my eyes and my heart fixed on You. May Your grace sustain me. In Jesus’ matchless name, I pray. Amen.”

2 Thessalonians 2: 16, 17 “Now may our Lord Jesus Christ Himself, and our God and father, who has loved us and given us everlasting consolation and good hope by grace, comfort your hearts and establish you in every good word and work.”

The word grace is mentioned 200 times in the New Testament. 130 of those times it is spoken by the Apostle Paul. The Apostle Paul began and ended his letters with the word grace and included grace within the body of his writings. Paul understood grace very well. Paul did not live a charmed life. But in all of Paul’s writings he speaks of God as “The God of all grace.” (1 Peter 5:10) God’s grace is His loved wrapped around us in Jesus. Grace is His unmerited and unlimited favor lavished on each of us.

God sent Jesus so that we could know His love for us. Grace was declared as Jesus willingly and lovingly poured out His blood on the cross at Calvary. This love is eternal, and, just like it says in Romans, there is nothing that can separate us from the love of God. Not even ourselves and what we do that is so bad can remove or dissolve the love that God has for us. The love of God has no beginning and no end. He has always loved us and will continue to love us. His love does not change when we mess up or increase when we do the right things.

Okay, pay attention: HIS GRACE IS GREATER THAN OUR SIN.”

What a comfort and encouragement it is to know of and experience God’s grace. God’s grace is so amazing that it covers us in good times and bad, in joy and sorrow, trial and setbacks. Do you remember that gift box we have talked about with all of the gifts of God inside? We did not earn these gifts or deserve them, but they are given out the love that God has for us. Grace is given to us. We have received grace and it is ours forever.

Take joy in the journey. Wear comfortable shoes. Count your blessings and say your prayers. “ precious did that grace appear the hour I first believed.” See you in worship. Love you all very much, Bruce, Gaylene, Geni and Travis.

I am not moved by what I see. I am not moved by what I feel. I am only moved by what I believe and I believe God.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Happy Friday!

Well it is official! I am a full time student at Brite Divinity School. I picked up my parking sticker today. I will begin classes on Tuesday morning. I must admit it felt a bit strange not to be putting together a classroom today and putting the finishing touches on a classroom. However, it has been great fun fielding text messages and phone calls all day from Geni as she prepares for her first day as a long term substitute in a LINK classroom. This is a classroom of special needs children ranging in grade levels first grade through 5th grade. We are so proud and excited for her. She has already made lesson plans and really seems to be on the right track. Please keep her in your prayers as she begins this new chapter in her life.

Prayer: Lord, sometimes I feel so unworthy. My sin, my failures and my poor attitude all feed my need for your grace. So many times I base my value on how I perform, how successful I am, what possessions I have, what job I hold, or what relationships I have. Let me see life through Your eyes of grace. Let me see myself like You see me—forgiven, cleansed, and valuable. Thank You, Lord Jesus, for Your blood, for Your forgiveness, and for the richness of Your grace. I love You, Lord Jesus. Amen.

Ephesians 1: 7,8 “In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace which He made to abound toward us in all wisdom and prudence.”

I was blessed this past spring with gift cards for one of my most favorite stores - Brighton. Usually Brighton is out of my price range, but with gift cards I could “redeem” them and make purchases through the kindness of others. I did not do anything to earn these gift cards. They were unmerited gifts given by the families in my classroom who knew I loved Brighton merchandise.

When something is redeemed it means to “release by paying a price.” To redeem something means to make a purchase. God purchased our salvation by the blood of Jesus on the cross. We had to be purchased or “redeemed” and only God could pay the price. His grace paid the ultimate price for each of us. We are so valuable to God that He sent His son to pay that price. Our value is not determined by our own estimation of ourselves or what the world thinks of us. Our value is determined by the love of God! That is grace!!! Grace is based on who God is and what He has done - not on who we are or what we have done. God has given us His grace to forgive us, cleanse us and let us know how much He loves us. Let us walk in His grace today!

Take joy in the journey. Wear comfortable shoes. Count your blessings and say your prayers. Walk in His grace today. Love you all, Bruce, Gaylene, Geni and Travis.

I am not moved by what I see. I am not moved by what I feel. I am only moved by what I believe and I believe God.
Happy Thursday!

Prayer: “I worship You, Father, for Your amazing grace. You know the pain and frustration in my life. You know all that happens in my heart. Cover me with Your grace. Help me trust that Your grace is sufficient in all things. I am desperate for You, Lord Jesus. I need You. Amen.”

2 Corinthians 12: 8, 9 “Concerning this thing I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me. And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”

I did some reading of scriptures prior to this passage and after and Paul never does say what this “thing” was that was on his heart. I guess we are like Paul and we do not want to share all of the burdens we carry even with our closest friends or those with whom we live. But whatever it was God told the Apostle Paul that His grace was sufficient to cover whatever it was that was burdening his heart. I believe fully that God knew exactly what was on Paul’s heart and whatever it was it was enough to cause him concern and causing him to be weaker in his faith. When I think of a weakness in our faith I think that we are trying to solve or reconcile the issue by ourselves instead of allowing God and his grace to lead and guide us through whatever our burden is. Our weakness shows up in the amount of trust we place in God when we are carrying a burden.

Sometimes we come across things that we call a “thorn in our flesh.” God does not always remove our thorns. God did not remove the thorns that Jesus bore, but God did give Him the strength to endure until the mission was complete. The strength of God was made perfect in Jesus’ crucifixion as He became weaker with each moment.

Our human weakness opens the way for the strength of God’s grace to be manifested in each of us. The less we rely on our own power the more we are open to the grace of God empowering us for His glory. Because we believe and claim to be people of faith does not exclude us from pain, suffering or loss. What it does promise us is that God’s grace is sufficient through every circumstance. Give God praise for giving His strength in our weakness and covering us in His grace.

Take joy in the journey. Wear comfortable shoes. Count your blessings and say your prayers. “…we’ve no less days to sing God’s praise than when we first begun.” Love you all and thank you for all of your prayers. Bruce, Gaylene, Geni and Travis.

I am not moved by what I see. I am not moved by what I feel. I am only moved by what I believe and I believe God.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Happy Wednesday!

Bruce was allowed to return to driving today. He was so excited. They told him to stay in town and not go on the highway just yet.

Geni began working at the new store in Sundance Square in Fort Worth tonight. She goes to Burton Hill on Friday and begins teaching on Monday. We are so excited for her.

Travis is coaching each evening this week. He coaches a group of 8 year olds in football. The team is the same team he played for when he was a young boy. He is having a great time!

Prayer: “I ask You Lord, to give me a generous spirit. Help me not to be stingy with the grace that You have generously poured out on me. May I in turn pour it out on others. Keep me grateful, not only for salvation, but also for all Your blessings in my life. May I be a person of grace who loves my brothers and sisters, treats them with kindness, and gives them what they do not deserve. Send people into my life today who need Your salvation and grace, and use me in sharing with them. Amen.”

2 Corinthians 8: 9 “You know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, that you through His poverty might become rich.”

I am not sure if this happens to you, but it happens to us on occasion; someone comes to our door late at night and needs food. Or we are at the gas pumps and someone has run out of gas and needs some to get back home or some other situation occurs when someone needs something and we are called upon to help. I think it was either my Mom or Dad that told me that poor meant that you did not have enough to share. And more recently I read in one of my devotional meditations that you don’t miss what you give away.

The Apostle Paul challenged the church in Corinth to have a heart for giving to others. God’s grace in the lives of the church in Corinth made them sensitive to the needs of others. The members of the church in Macedonia were very poor, but they were rich in grace.

Jesus left the glory of heaven to the depths of poverty on the earth to show us that riches did not mean possessions. Jesus gave up the rights given to Him in heaven to become flesh and live on the earth as a common man. (Please note that I did not call Him an ordinary man.) He lived in poverty by the standards of Nazareth, but He was rich in God’s grace. The ultimate example of His grace is the gift of salvation and eternal life. Jesus passed on the gift of God’s grace to each of us. We are invited to take joy in this gift of amazing grace, but we are also charged to actively share this gift of grace with others. His grace is not just sufficient for each of us, but there is more than enough to share.

When we give away this precious gift of God’s grace to someone who needs forgiveness, love, salvation and the promise of eternal life we do not feel like we have lost anything at all. And in fact that grace that we have given away is replaced in abundance through our obedience to God and the love of Jesus in our lives. Grace can be given in money, a word of encouragement, a prayer, being a part of the Ministry of Presence or telling someone what God’s has done for you by His grace. Share the gift of God’s grace with someone who is in need and ask for God to place someone in your path who needs to heart this word.

Take joy in the journey. Wear comfortable shoes. Count your blessings and say your prayers. Grace is given to all. Just open your heart and your mind and access this phenomenal gift and share it with someone else. Love you all, Bruce, Gaylene, Geni and Travis.

I am not moved by what I see. I am not moved by what I feel. I am only moved by what I believe and I believe God.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Happy Tuesday!

It is so great to be home! I have missed being able to write. Mom and Dad live out in the country without computers or internet access. And then we attempted to connect while at the hospital and that did not work either! Another reason we are glad to be home!

First, Dad did not have to have stents. Praise God! The good news is that his heart is in remarkably good condition and the arteries that were bypassed 12 years ago are still in good shape. However, it has been discovered that he is anemic and is losing blood somewhere. He also has a mitral valve that is oozing. But this is not news. This explains the fatigue and the shortness of breath. The symptoms of heart trouble and anemia are similar. So, he will going to the VA in Bonham this week and hopefully they will figure out what is going on and how to fix the problem. Bruce just told him to chew on nails for extra iron.

A Praise God moment for Geni as she will be teaching in a long term position in Special Education at Burton Hill beginning the first day of school. We are so excited for her and very proud of her. It is not a contract, but it is a start.

Bruce is progressing well. He goes to cardiac rehab and the education class tomorrow. He also gets to drive again. Currently, the doc is allowing in town driving only. He is really excited for this next step to returning to routine things of life. Another Praise God! We have so much for which to be thankful.

Prayer: “Lord Jesus, I worship You and bless Your name. Thank You for shedding Your blood and paying the penalty for my sins so that I might have new life in You. Give me boldness today to share Jesus with everyone I meet. In Jesus ‘ name, I pray. Amen.”

Romans 5: 17, 21 “If by the one man’s offense death reigned through the one, much more those who receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ…so that as sin reigned in death, even so grace might reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ.”

The book of Romans can be a pretty tough book to wade through. Sometimes the language is really wordy and seems to be difficult to work through. So here is what the book of Romans has to say…man sins and God’s grace forgives sinners.

The more we sin the more we are in need of God’s grace. When sin entered the world in the Garden we became separated from God. The sin of man gave God the opportunity to display His grace and free us from condemnation in our lives. God’s gift of grace comes through the death of Jesus providing forgiveness and eternal life offering us a pardon. When God looks at us He sees us as perfect because of the blood of Christ.

Ok…so here is the coolest part…we cannot fall in and out of grace. Grace is a gift given by God and He does not reclaim His gifts! I think that it is why it is called AMAZING GRACE! We do not deserve it. We cannot earn it. We are given grace and all we must do is receive and accept it.

Something so awesome in our lives must be shared with others. Pray for a way to share how God’s grace has been given to you with someone who needs to experience God’s grace and forgiveness in their own lives. “Amazing grace, how sweet the sound that saved a soul like me…”

Take joy in the journey. Wear comfortable shoes. Count your blessings and say your prayers. “…how precious did that grace appear the hour I first believed.” Love you all, Bruce, Gaylene, Geni and Travis.

I am not moved by what I see. I am not moved by what I feel. I am only moved by what I believe and I believe God.