Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Glorious Gospel of Grace

So many thoughts have been running through my head the past few weeks...
Life is changing everyday...
If you've read this blog much you know that CHANGE does not come easily for me.
I usually kick and scream and try to get my own way.
I am learning...slowly but surely, learning to TRUST.

I have been pondering relationships lately...
I am a very relational person... always in trouble in school for talking and laughing,
always ready to meet some new person, always ready to share my heart (probably
more than I should sometimes), love talking, love hearing testimonies, stories, etc.
Relationships are so wonderful! Ray & I have been blessed with families that are such a great example of loving people, showing hospitality, and wrapping the sweet arms of the Savior around those that do not know Him. We are so blessed to be in a church that is based on biblical fellowship and relationships. It is wonderful to have people that you know love you, care about you, and are there for you no matter what!

I just have to share an sweet example from this past Sunday. Lisa Hulme and Marie Hughes hosted a baby shower for a girl (Libby) that has just moved here and does not have a home church. She and her husband pour their lives into a ministry in public schools, called Young Life. They just had their first baby a few weeks ago. Women from our church showed up to bless this young mom with the love of Jesus! What an honor to be able to be a part of the heart of God! Lisa Hulme stated that this baby shower has nothing to do with coming to SGC... but only that she is part of the body of Christ and we want to wrap the arms of Jesus around her! I think I was blessed more than anyone there! I got to meet such a sweet sister in Christ that is in the same season as me! What a blessing! I also got to hear encouragement from the more experienced moms in our church. I was blown away by the outpouring of love from the sister in our church! Now that is a perfect example of the heart of God in our relationships!

BUT, what about the times when relationships get shaky...
You have to confront someone about a specific sin or a misunderstanding happens...
Then how do we react?? I know my initial response is usually, as my mother in law and I joke, "to take my earrings off and fight!" :) Now, is that the way that the Lord deals with us? No! Do we all perfectly handle people exactly as we always should? No! That's why we need to the GOSPEL!

I just got off the phone with my dad. We were talking about the mistakes that we have both made in the way we have responded to people or spoken correction. It was humbling to both of us to remember that we make mistakes in our relationship...we allow pride and judgement to take over our emotions. I think of my dad and the path that he has had to walk in finding forgiveness, humility, grace, and trust in God's plan through the situation with his past job. God has mercifully helped my parents to give grace as our old church grows in the way they handle people at times. Yes it is hard, and yes the feelings of anger and bitterness try to creap in, but this is exactly what satan wants to happen. He wants to causes division between the body of Christ. As, I look back over the journey that my parents have walked, I see how God has kept us. He has kept my parents relationships with the pastor and elders and the church body as a whole. Yes, my parents were called to leave. Yes, they were not handled in the most compassionate, loving way. But they have taught me what is means to know that we have been forgiven much, therefore we can forgive with that same degree.

Eric, our pastor, shared a message Sunday from Galations 4 that really impacted my heart. Paul was a theologian. He could lay it all out :) But in this particular passage (Gal 4:12-20) he had a personal plea for the Galations. He called them "brothers". He had AFFECTION, LOVE, and COMPASSION for these Galatians. He did not want them to live under the law any longer! He wanted to remind them of the JOY that they used to have when the Holy Spirit first came into their heart. Eric said, "Paul had FACES come to mind." Is that how we deal with our friends, our brother and sister in the Lord? Does a face come to mind when we realize that we need to point out something in someone's life? Wow, I am totally convicted! I am usually thinking of myself and what the outcome will be for me when I confront someone.

I have been asking myself these questions this week, as I prepare for work in the early morning... or talking with my husband at night... or sharing with my sister... or talking with my best friends over the phone...
*Am I making the gospel accessible to anyone?
*How do I think of the detours of my life?
*How do I view my weaknesses?

I was so blessed at the end of Eric's message to know the heart of our pastors...
To see us conformed to the image of Christ through His Word and the power of the Holy Spirit. .. that we would be sanctified according to the truth.

I am humbled to see God's forgiveness even this week as I have handled people wrongly, been angry or bitter, or not been a testimony to the gospel that has changed my life. Oh, but what grace and love He has poured out on me this day! The gospel is power for my everyday life! We are all growing, all being sanctified and it is GLORIOUS!

Luke 7:36-50
A Sinful Woman Forgiven

One of the Pharisees asked him to eat with him, and he went into the Pharisee's house and took his place at the table. And behold, a woman of the city, who was a sinner, when she learned that he was reclining at table in the Pharisee's house, brought an alabaster flask of ointment, and standing behind him at his feet, weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears and wiped them with the hair of her head and kissed his feet and anointed them with the ointment. Now when the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would have known who and what sort of woman this is who is touching him, for she is a sinner.” And Jesus answering said to him, “Simon, I have something to say to you.” And he answered, “Say it, Teacher.”

“A certain moneylender had two debtors. One owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. When they could not pay, he cancelled the debt of both. Now which of them will love him more?” Simon answered, “The one, I suppose, for whom he cancelled the larger debt.” And he said to him, “You have judged rightly.” Then turning toward the woman he said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave me no water for my feet, but she has wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You gave me no kiss, but from the time I came in she has not ceased to kiss my feet. You did not anoint my head with oil, but she has anointed my feet with ointment. Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven—for she loved much. But he who is forgiven little, loves little.” And he said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.” Then those who were at table with him began to say among themselves, “Who is this, who even forgives sins?” And he said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”

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