I grew up listening to Billy Graham. God anointed him to take the gospel to the world. This was the last message he gave. How we need to hear. Please listen. Jesus is the answer for all our troubles today.
I knew this incredible young woman when she was a teenager. I was aware she was suffering and seeking help but I never knew the full extent of her suffering. What a joy to see her come to a place of healing. Please read this e-book she wrote sharing some of the steps in her journey to find peace.
Also check out Emily’s blog.
Jennifer Slattery writes fiction that’s entertaining and keeps me turning the pages but at the same time manages to teach me about God’s grace and challenges me to reach out to those around me who are hurting.
Restoring Love is a follow-up to Jennifer’s first novel, Beyond I Do. Restoring Love shows us what happens to Ainsley’s mom, Angela several years after the events in the first book. Angela is a woman who has made lots of mistakes in her life and had stopped believing her own life could be redeemed until she sees the grace and forgiveness her daughter shows her. As Angela moves on to find a new start, God opens doors for her to show that same grace to Bianca, a struggling mom who lives across the street. With her husband in jail, a rebellious teenage daughter and two challenging young sons, her life is in crisis.
Will Angela be able to give Bianca the same kind of help she herself once desperately needed? And what about Mitch? Why has God allowed this man into her life? Why would any decent man be interested in her ever again? With her history of promiscuity, abortion and manipulation of others, she feels unworthy of love. This story makes me wonder how many people around me are hurting in ways I can’t imagine and who around me needs a word of encouragement or for someone to be willing to give sacrificially. Restoring Love is a love story, a redemption story, a story of hope, a challenge to forgive and a picture of what Jesus meant when He said others would know His followers by their love.
And don’t forget to read Ainsley’s story in Beyond I Do!
Find more about Jennifer Slattery and her other books here:
Often I forget life is not about me.
I’m not the source of strength or truth in my life. I can’t produce one good thing in my own strength. My breath is a gift of grace from God. I can’t hold on to it or guarantee I will take another one.
As I take a deep breath…that act is grace.
Do I have hope? That is a gift.
Do I have a moment of peace? Also a gift.
Every second I spend with a loved one and look into their precious face is a gift. ALL good things come from our Creator Father. The ability to enjoy His gifts comes from Him. Life and death are gifts from Him. Life because it allows us to know Him. Death because it allows us to be with Him forever. I need reminders of who I am.
I’m a receiver of His good gifts.
A branch not the vine.
A creation not the Creator.
A pencil not the source of truth
A reflection not the light.
A servant not the master.
A voice not the message.
One part not the body.
Gifted not the gift.
A messenger not the message.
A channel not the source.
Forgiven not sinless.
In process not perfect.
En route not at my destination.
A singer not the song.
Forgiven, loved, trusting.
The Giver of every good gift.
He alone is worthy of praise, honor and glory.
All that I am, I owe to Him.
That this Great God would choose to love me and use me is overwhelming GRACE!
Originally published at Internet Cafe Devotions
Before you created the world, you knew I would exist and you loved me!
When you knit me together in my mother’s womb you knew I would choose sin yet you loved me.
Thank you Jesus that you died for me knowing someday I would be selfish, unkind, unloving, willful and stubborn. You knew I would have a prideful, self-focused heart yet you chose to die for me so that I could live. You chose to take my sin and give me your righteousness.
What an astounding gift!
I could meditate on your grace forever and never fully grasp its wonder. Thank you that this incredible gift is there for anyone who will believe Jesus died for him or her.
The guilty forgiven.
Ransom paid freely.
A gift impossible to earn or deserve.
I am guilty.
I deserve death. I don’t deserve to spend eternity with you. Yet, that is what you offered me. I believed. I do believe and you will never leave me or forsake me.
Anyone who believes can have this gift of grace. Just as they are.
Praise your holy name!
Jesus, open our eyes to see your hand reaching out. Help us to believe.
What does grace mean to you?
Regret crushed my heart! I had unknowingly hurt a loved one with my judgmental attitude. She was brave enough to confront me and share her pain. I was shocked and defended myself but soon concluded that even if I didn’t remember that instance there were plenty of other times I had been disapproving and critical. God has been gradually opening my eyes for years to how judgmental and self-righteous I have been in my life especially when I was younger.
When I was young it was easy to take on a few “rules” I knew I could keep and make that my measure of what kind of Christian I was. I chose certain rules (which were emphasized in my teaching) and hid behind them. Rules like don’t drink, don’t smoke, don’t dance, stay a virgin till you’re married and go to church every week. I found I could manage these handpicked rules and got pretty good at keeping them.
Soon I was proud of the fact I kept these rules and judged those who didn’t. All the while I was blind to what Jesus Himself said were the MOST important commandments:
“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind… Love your neighbor as yourself.” Matthew 22:37-39
I overlooked or ignored teaching such as:
“If I…do not have love, I am nothing.” 1 Corinthians 13:2
“Love is the fulfillment of the law.” Romans 13:10
“Do not judge, or you too will be judged.” Matthew 7:1
“…Who are you to judge your neighbor?” James 4:12b
“There is no one righteous, not even one.” Romans 3:10
I hid behind these outward acts and “appeared” good while inside I was filled with fear, impatience, selfishness, pride, greed, and judging others.
God has patiently been pruning me and teaching me for years to show me a better way and He will continue to do so until I die. But I have to be on guard against being judgmental (I am very much aware how my righteousness is like filthy rags before God). I am realizing how people have been hurt by my judging attitude.
As I was considering how ugly my sin has been and pondered on instances when I hurt others, I started to get bogged down in feeling “unworthy”. Unworthy to teach, write or serve Him. But self-focus for any reason is not a good place to be.
God set me free with this Scripture, “Not that we are sufficient in ourselves to claim anything as coming from us, but our sufficiency is from God, who has made us sufficient to be ministers of a new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit. For the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.” 2 Corinthians 3:5-6
I am not sufficient, competent, qualified or adequate in myself and I never have been. My sufficiency, adequacy, competence, or qualification comes from God and God alone. He has made me sufficient to serve Him. He has enabled me to be a minister of the new covenant. NOT because of the letter (which kills), not because I can keep the law which I can’t BUT because of the Spirit who gives life. Trying to live by the letter of the law is futile and ultimately if one is not trusting in Christ, it leads to eternal death. If a believer tries to live by the letter of the law, it leads to frustration, self-condemnation, sometimes depression and most often not being real with others.
It makes me sad that I have hurt others but God’s grace covers even that. His grace forgives the self-righteous Pharisee as well as the one whose sin is known by all. His grace covers anyone who comes to Jesus believing.
Thank you Jesus! Because of you and you alone, I am qualified to serve you! You are my sufficiency! You are my competence. You make me qualified. Dear Lord please love and serve through me. Use me in spite of my weakness. Use my weakness for your glory. I love you so much!
Originally published as “A Pointing Finger, A Fiery Tongue” at Internet Cafe Devotions
Photo courtesy of succo at Pixabay.com
My selfish attitude slapped me in the face.
I was in a situation where I realized my attitude was ugly, stingy and self-focused. And this was concerning my eighty-six year old mother! Wow, way to go self.
As I thought back over the choices I’d made throughout the day I realized how self-focused I’d been. I felt helpless in the face of my own weak nature. My inability to be a good person. I’m not a good person by nature. When I operate in my own strength, I always default to selfishness.
It’s only as I yield to Jesus and trust Him by faith to work through me that I can live and love as He wants me to. Words aren’t enough to express what His grace means. Amazing, astounding, glorious. How can words express thanks for such a gift?
I had missed my prayer and Bible reading for 5 or 6 days before this instance and had been operating in my own strength. I was “doing” the right things but harboring a selfish attitude.
Then I remembered: run to Jesus!
He was right there loving me. He died so that I could come to Him aware of my own failure and sin. I cried out to Him and confessed my sin. I confessed my weakness and remembered how He loves me. How He has always been there to love and forgive, Running to Jesus is always the answer.
When sin grips my heart, I run to Jesus.
When problems rise like mountains, I run to Jesus.
When that voice in my head says I’m a failure, I run to Jesus.
When I realize I’m weak, incapable of loving my neighbor as myself, I run to Jesus.
When regret threatens to crush me, I run to Jesus.
When I do it right, I run to Jesus.
The LIE is that I’m not worthy and I should just give up.
The TRUTH is Jesus says, “My power is made perfect in weakness.” 2 Corinthians 12:9 So when I am weak, He is strong.
My flesh rebels at the idea that I have to have connection to Him everyday. That I need time in prayer and scripture every day. That I have no strength apart from Him. But it’s true, I don’t. When I am walking with Jesus and He’s working through me, loving through me, I can make the mistake of thinking “I” am good. “I” am doing something. I can’t take credit for anything. I breath because He lives. If I’m able to love sacrificially, it’s because He first loved me.
It’s all grace.
Praise His holy name!
Thank you Jesus that you can take all my weakness, all my mess, all my brokenness and use it to your glory. Thank you that nothing is wasted. Thank you that every good thing in my life is a gift from you. I thank you that you use even the hard things to draw my heart to you. I love you Lord!
Originally published at Internet Cafe Devotions