Devotion of the Week | Pearls of Promise | Page 95

Grace

blue-ribbon

“We’re giving a prize to the person with the most disgusting thing in their purse.” Having failed to win any of the other icebreaker contests at the women’s retreat, I knew I might have this one. I dug down deep through old receipts, runaway lipsticks and loose change, and found a petrified raisin that must have been in the bottom of my bag for at least a year. I raised it up in the air with a huge grin on my face.

“What about this?” I shouted.

It was unique all right, and a winner amongst the old gum and candy bar wrappers some of the others were holding up.

Isn’t this a lot like God’s grace?

Our sin might have been hidden away for years or perhaps we’ve forgotten it, but one day our eyes are opened, God calls it out and asks us to repent. When we do, he forgives us, no questions asked.

Ephesians 2:4 says, “But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved.”

I’m so thankful for God’s grace, aren’t you? Where would I be without it?

raisinEvery once in a while the enemy of our faith will remind me of some of those old petrified raisins from my past, even though I’ve asked for forgiveness and told God I’m sorry. Maybe that’s happened to you.

Beware!

When he does this, it’s an attempt to cause us to feel unworthy, unqualified, and undesirable so we will be mired in insecurity and not able to accomplish what God has called us to do.

Remember, grace comes equipped with a chainsaw to cut through what binds us to old sin.

Grace has no memory of the past.

Even though we’re guilty, grace stamps “not guilty” on our ticket.

Because we’ve been given the gift of grace, it’s important we pay it forward.

Who in your world needs grace today?

True Beauty

Frizzy hairHave you ever had one of those bad hair days? I have them almost every day. My hair has always been my nemesis. Thick, wavy and fine, it has a mind of its own, and just the slightest wind or humidity will cause one of my locks to go AWOL.

I am always searching for the latest hair products that might smooth the frizz, and I have a tendency to stair at other people’s silky hair, wondering what their secret is.

It’s a lifelong battle to attain perfection, but I will probably not see it on this side of Heaven.

Sounds trivial, but when it comes to our hair, clothes or makeup, a lot of us are on a heated pursuit to improve the way we look.

But the truth is, God is happy with us just the way we are.

Maybe that’s why it’s such a battle to change our appearance. Maybe that’s why it takes so much time. Maybe that’s why it’s so frustrating.

I admire those women who can walk out of the house without makeup. I think they are free from the chains of perfectionism. I did it once, and ran into someone from church that strained to recognize me. It was the first and last time I left without a touch of mascara on.

I wonder what would happen if we pursued God the way we women pursue beauty?

Instead of two hours at the hair salon, we spend two hours in the Word.

Instead of the thirty minutes with the blow dryer, curlers and flat iron (daily regimen), we commit thirty minutes to prayer.

Instead of an all-day shopping trip, we set aside a day to get to know our Abba Father.

It’s a fast from superficial beauty to find something more eternally beautiful.

Did you know that God pursues us the way we pursue beauty? He is the good shepherd who goes after us when we go astray.

sheep twoIn Ezekiel 34:11-12, the Sovereign LORD says, “I myself will search for my sheep and look after them. As a shepherd looks after his scattered flock when he is with them, so will I look after my sheep. I will rescue them from all the places where they were scattered on a day of clouds and darkness.” Later in Ezekiel it says, “I will search for the lost and bring back the strays. I will bind up the injured and strengthen the weak….” (Ezekiel 34:16)

Maybe you are in clouds and darkness right now and you could care less about how you look. I’ve been there. But from experience, I can assure you the shepherd is on his way to rescue you. He alone has what you need for strength. He has the healing balm that can’t be found in department stores. He can smooth out the rough places and the fly away desires. He has the ability to clothe us all in righteousness if we ask Him.

Today I am thankful for true beauty that can’t be bought. I am grateful that this beauty pursues me and is not fleeting.

A loving shepherd.

There’s nothing more beautiful than that. (LBW)

Wisdom Through the Decades by Anna Marie Sheffield

Anna Marie Sheffiield

Today’s guest blogger is Anna Marie Sheffield. Anna Marie is a wife, mother, grandmother, a retired dental hygienist and Co-director/Administrator for Deep River Ministries. She graduated, magna cum laude, from Texas State University in San Marcos, Texas, with a degree in Biology/Psychology.

Anna Marie is currently serving on the Board of Directors for the International Order of St. Luke the Physician. She is also a member of Daughters of the King, a prayer ministry within the Episcopal Church. She has been a Stephen Minister and a member of the Community of Hope.

Anna Marie loves to spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and equip others to do the same. Her openness, honesty and practical wisdom have inspired others to step out in faith to serve the Lord. Together, Anna Marie and Jack teach, preach and train others to pray for those in need. Anna Marie has been given a wonderful anointing to minister. She enjoys leading women to discover the treasure they are in Christ.  Visit her blog: Thirsty? Stop in for a Drink of Living Water!

wisdom-of-the-ages

Recently, my friend Nora invited me to Alamo Heights United Methodist Church, here in San Antonio, to hear nine decades of wisdom from nine lovely women. They were asked to review the prior ten years of their lives, and tell us what they knew now that they wished they had known then.  It was inspiring!

I’d like to share the nuggets I came away with.

First, from the 17 year old high-school senior:  God is there!  (Psalm 139:7-10)

Next, from the 20-something: Seek God’s approval, not man’s!  (Galatians 1:10)

Thirdly from the 30-something: God uses all our struggles for good. We can laugh without fear of the future! (Proverbs 31: 25)

Fourthly from the 40-something:  Daddy God feels the same about me as I do my kids!  He delights in ME!   (Zephaniah 3:17)

From the 50-something:  Change is coming – Don’t fear it!  The one constant is your identity in Christ! Practice trusting Him in the small things.  Love more, worry less! Relationships over rules! (Matthew 6:25-34)

60-something:  I do not know as much as I think I do!  But this I do know: God loves me, just the way I am!  Be intentional with God.  God will get you through it!  Choose joy! (Isaiah 41:10)

70-something:  Be thankful!  Appreciate God’s timing, not ours! (1 Thessalonians 5:18)

80-something:  Time is a valuable commodity. Have less worry, confusion, fear; these are by-products of search for Peace.  Be a better listener! (Ecclesiastes 3:1-8)

And from the 90+ treasure: 

Give words of encouragement to others.  The blessings of old age:  Time with the Lord which seemed limited in earlier years, is not limited in later years.  There is more time to respond to the needs of children and more time to be involved.  To those who are married: Focus on husband after nest is empty.  Enjoy each other. Congratulate him on his successes!  Stay on the same page with family after grand-kids arrive.  (Proverbs 31:10-31)

For those with daughters-in-law: Laugh with them!

For those with sons-in-law: Keep your distance! (Laughter ensued!)

For married sons: Let him be the husband first!

For those with grandchildren: Stay in touch!

And finally, “God is good, as I told Him this morning!”

More wisdom from all the women:

For married women:  Don’t forget what connected you to your husband.

Prefer one another.

It’s a partnership. I am not always right!

Be open and allow each other to be who they are.

Communicate!

There will be peaks and valleys.  Enjoy the peaks, and when you are in the valley remember there is a peak coming!  (Psalm 23)

For those in High School:  Find your passion.  Learn the hard part: Trust in God!

I would like to add that I took the 90+ year-old’s advice and congratulated my husband on his successes.  I wish you could have seen his face light up!  I asked him how it made him feel. He said, “Encouraged, affirmed and confirmed. It felt good! Do it more!”  LOL, I believe I will!

Thanks, Ladies!!   Blessings, Anna Marie

Dream Big

“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.” (Jeremiah 29:11)

Dreams

God has given each of us a plan for our lives. Some plans contain big dreams. Some smaller dreams, but many times, the desires we have to be world changers come from him.

Recently, I spent two hours with a woman named Susie Jennings, listening to her story about how her call to take blankets to the homeless of downtown Dallas evolved into a mammoth annual Christmas party for the homeless. God continued to expand Susie’s call. Now she also helps less fortunate children all over the world by providing them with shoes. She also finds funding to build Christian schools for them. She didn’t know how to get it done, but God did. Today, I’ll be attending a breakfast she is holding to unveil plans for reaching the children of Israel. This woman is a modern day Mother Theresa who was obedient to follow through with the plan God gave her.

It’s OK to dream big. We should never be overwhelmed by our dreams. We just need to trust that God will give us all the details of accomplishing those dreams and that he will provide whatever is needed to accomplish them.

God knows the plans he has for us. He will steer us as we maneuver through a God-sized dream. We can never accomplish it in our own power. Just hang on as God will take us and our dreams on the ride of our lives!

Perfect Love

God's loveWhen was the last time someone you love let you down?

It happens. More than we’d like.

Whether it’s our husbands, our sisters, our brothers, our children, or our friends, love will disappoint at one time or another and we’ll want to run away.

But where do we run?

Busyness?

Work?

The Internet?

Another person?

I’ve come to the conclusion there is no such thing as perfect love on this earth, because God doesn’t allow it. If all our desires were fulfilled by a human being, then we’d have no need for our Abba Father. He wants us to run to him when things go awry, and he doesn’t want anything or anyone to take his place.

It’s the Lord who fills the void left by others who walk away. He comforts us when the people closest to us pierce our hearts with angry words or rejection. He gives us hope when our expectations aren’t met. He desires for us to cling to him and his promises in the Word.

Psalm 36:7 says, “How priceless is your unfailing love, O God! People take refuge in the shadow of your wings.” When human love falters, perfect love is waiting for us with feathery arms.

In order to have peace and harmony in our relationships, we have to give human love a hall pass. It will never be perfect, and if we expect it to be flawless, we won’t be content. We’ll most likely live out our lives unhappy and bitter.

Instead, we have to love those around us as Jesus loved, unconditionally, without harboring resentment. Instead of a critical tone, we should compliment the positive. We have to forgive those who occasionally disappoint us.

When you are struggling to love reflect back on Luke 6:32-36: “If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners do that. And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, expecting to be repaid in full. But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.”

We all know that human love can be beautiful, but only God’s perfect love is divine. LBW

 

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