Pastor George did a series for four weeks on HOPE.Each week he worked off each of the letters as shown above.Each Sunday, I sat in the pew thinking, oh my gosh, he is talking just to me!!But then I realized I am probably not the only one thinking the very same thought.
So, simply put this is what I think:If we can Humble ourselves before God, we are open to learn Obedience.And in order to obey, we certainly need to Persevere in our walk with Him.Then the end result is our Exaltation ~ our worship to Him.The cost of our worship is ourselves, as we must put ourselves lower than the object of our worship, which is of course, Jesus.
Now, the Sunday after Christmas Pastor talked on Grace, the Gift that Keeps on Giving ~~ John 1:14-18
In verse 14 it says:“…. Who came from the Father, full of Grace and truth.
In verse 15 it says “From the fullness of his Grace we have all received one blessing after another.
You see Grace is unmerited.We first receive Grace from Jesus, who just happens to have an overflow supply.Then we receive grace on top of grace, on top of grace, over and over and over again.So, in essence, Grace is the Gift that Keeps on Giving.
This is a good time of year to take an Inventory of our Blessings.I know that is what I am going to do.I just bet that each and every one of us will find that by reading our personal list of blessings, we will be blessed all over again.Which in turn will give us Hope for the new year and remind us to Humble ourselves before Him, encourage us to be Obedient to Him, and to Persevere through any and all trials in our lives which will then open our hearts to be free to show our Exaltation to Him for all that He has done for us.
From my heart to yours, I hope your New Year is full of HOPE and Grace.
Do you ever just wonder about some of the sayings we used to say when we were kids?
For instance: First comes loves, then comes marriage, then comes baby in a baby carriage!! Well, that is pretty much true, but then what do you do if something happens to the “love” part? Love isn’t so simple ~~ it is so very complex and if you don’t work at it each and every day, it can slowly unravel so that you don’t know who you are married to anymore and sometimes you even lose yourself. You tell yourself that it will be okay, the feelings will come back, and you beg God to restore what you had in the beginning in the “love” stage. But what do you do if he doesn’t answer your pleadings in the way that you are asking? Does He love you any less? Are you any lesser of a person?
Well, sometimes we have to make choices in our life that are just about as painful as one can imagine. You certainly don’t want to hurt anyone deliberately, and you know in your heart that your decision will cause a ripple effect that will certainly change life as you know it completely.
When we are growing up, we see a version of what we want our lives to be. Some want careers, some want the love, marriage and baby carriage. I certainly wanted the latter. However, some of us are on a journey that takes us places where we would have never thought we would ever have to go. When I was 26 I never thought I would be divorced, and a single parent of a little boy. Well I was and I was devastated. Then you remarry and think that you will “get it right” this time. But something happens over the years and you realize that while you have been blessed with two more absolutely wonderful children, there is something missing in your marriage. Sometimes, as hard as you try, you are not able to recapture those first moments of your life together, the intense “falling in love” moments that you think will carry you through all the rough years and become that place of solace that a solid relationship should be. But what do you do when you realize that no matter how much you beg God, those feelings are gone and you are facing the end of 28 years of marriage?
These have been some of my struggles. I felt trapped in a relationship that I had nothing left to give. I lost myself and could feel myself pulling away from friends and family. And then the unexpected happens, timing maybe is not the best, and a relationship that has been lost for over 30 years comes back into your life. You feel love again and new hope, like you have finally come “home”. That person offers you all the things that you were lacking ~~ love, acceptance, freedom to be who you are. He is a man who will guard your heart, be your protector, best friend and all that you have been missing.
So unless you have walked the walk of another person, you cannot honestly judge them and their decisions, no matter how painful those decisions are. I know that I cannot tell a person who has terminal cancer that I “understand” what they are feeling. No way! I have not had that experience and I am sure that I have no idea of the depth of their pain, being scared, anger at the cancer, etc. etc. But what I can do is love them and tell them that I will be there for them ~~ whatever they need. I will listen when needed, talk when needed and just be there for them. Just because they have cancer and now they are “different” than me, doesn’t mean that I can no longer love them in the same way. Actually it probably means that I would love them even more ~~ this is when they will need that extra-special dose of unconditional love.
Another old saying that has been going through my mind is: “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” Okay friends, that is simply not true. This has been one of the most painful years of my life and I would much rather have someone hit me repeatedly with a stick or throw stones at me than say some of the cruel and hurtful things that have been said. Physical wounds heal and while you may have some scars left, they fade away and eventually you pretty much forget they are there. They end up being just soft reminders of an old wound. However, words are different. No matter how hard you try, those words reverberate into your very being and when you least expect it, they replay over and over and over in your mind and heart. You don’t want to believe what has been said to you, but when they are cruel, heartless and just plain painful, they tear you apart. You just want to say something equally cruel back, but you quickly remember how you felt when you were hurt by their words, and you simply can’t spit out the words and intentionally hurt that person. Why? Because you love them unconditionally, no matter your relationship. I am so glad that God loves me unconditionally, and no matter what mistakes that I have made in this life, he has covered me with His love, grace and mercy. My sins were all taken care of on the cross and no hurtful or cruel words from anyone can take that away from me. I have that promise from Him and I can revel in His love and stand on his Word.
So to whoever may just “happen” to read this post, just know that we can start out the New Year with a fresh slate. We can put the hurt and anger behind us. Remember that life is too short to harbor anger and bitterness. We don’t know what is just around the corner for any of us. Each and every day we can make the decision to love the unlovable, help the unlikeable and do just what Jesus would have done during His short time here on earth. He is the reason for the season. He is the reason that we have eternal life through him. He is just plain the reason and the answer to all our questions, hurts, pain and anger.
Wishing you a New Year, free from past hurts and bitterness and the opportunity to tell someone that you love them and that everything will be okay.
"What is Christmas? It is tenderness for the past, courage for the present, hope for the future. It is a fervent wish that every cup may overflow with blessings rich and eternal, and that every path may lead to peace."
For gratitude to be real requires connection to experience. Gratitude is not some abstract impression of things that a person might be thankful for but gratitude is an experience of those things and those persons who provide us with the concrete images of why we are thankful. For the Apostle Paul, the core of gratitude is Christ’s gift of mercy.
Surely we know that for gratitude to be gratitude, one cannot remove self from the equation. Gratitude centers on what we have experienced and who we have experienced to be sources of goodness and grace and love in our own lives. Without gratitude the self loses all sense of perspective – whether through inflated pride or the equally misleading hatred of self. Gratitude provides the balance. Gratitude reminds us that we are not entirely self-made creatures. We are not entirely self-enclosed and self-sufficient. We have others to thank for who we are and may yet become. Gratitude reminds us that we are persons of worth – because others see good in us, and have sought out good with words and actions for which we are grateful. Paul’s gratitude recognizes that Christ’s favor goes beyond Paul’s own ability to control or merit. Paul was grateful because he recognized Christ valued him and bestowed mercy and commissioned him to service. His gratitude, even while writing from prison captivity awaiting execution, led him to say “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice!” Rejoicing and gratitude weave together the attitude of joyful thanksgiving.
Do we have this kind of gratitude? Paul doesn’t list reasons for gratitude in this passage. There is no mention of gratitude for wealth and material success. There is no mention of having more food than he knows what to do with.
Blessings and gratitude do go hand in hand. Our materialistic culture tries to convince us from every angle that what we WANT is what we need. And what Jesus deems as blessed is named for us in the beatitudes.
Gratitude for the blessings of God draws individuals and communities toward the needs and conditions of others. Paul’s gratitude in this passage is entwined in Paul’s service to Christ. Our gratitude toward God intends to draw us in the same direction. As those who have been blessed by God in Christ, we find cause and example to be a blessing to others as servants to Christ.
I AM GRATEFUL TO CHRIST JESUS. Those simple words direct our gratitude toward Christ, but they also direct our lives toward others, toward being a source of Christ’s love and grace so that others might find cause and reason to be grateful. Gratitude is not our way of earning God’s love. Gratitude is our way of responding to and reflecting God’s love in the world around us. And once such gratitude is set into motion, the difference between being on the receiving end and the giving end tends to blur. We see ourselves graced by God, and graced to be able to serve. We see ourselves loved by God, and thankful for opportunities to show such love.
Consider beginning and ending each day with the prayer, “I am grateful to Christ Jesus!” Make it your confession; let it be the words of your commission and see where a gratitude attitude will take you. Ref: I Timothy 1: 12-17
I always wanted to be an “Artist”; however, painting just was not my talent. In spite of this, photography has always been a passion of mine. Once I discovered that you can imprint part of yourself into the photo with the technology of the computer, I realized that I CAN be an artist, just in a different way. Therefore, the process of creating art with my photos is immeasurably exciting for me!! What you are seeing today, with the exception of a couple of photos, is where my journey has taken me. I am now in the process of stepping back into my life “before” and have new “old” photos that are treasures waiting to be unearthed. So, keep posted, because I will be taking a trip back to the beginning of my journey and you just never know what is waiting behind the curtain! I hope you enjoy each piece of art for what it offers ~~ as this presents endless roads of personal travel that differs for each of us. As each print is a part of my personal journey, please travel with me!!