Tag Archives: God’s Grace

Better Than ‘All or Nothing’

14 Jul

I continue to struggle with my “soft food addiction,” especially hoarding chocolate candy, cookies and other sweet things. (It’s not that I can’t ever have something sweet, but it is a dangerous area for me.)

But one Wednesday during an appointment, I told Kim, my nutritionist, “I finally got rid of all the junk food in my house.”

Kim looked surprised and pleased. “I’m so proud of you,” she said. “Was it hard?”

“No, not really,” I said. “I ATE it all!”

I’m sort of an all-or-nothing person.  Some days I’m “all in” and thriving physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. Other days, not so much.

I’ve discovered one sinful habit or attitude in one area cascades into other areas, and soon I’m walking far off the righteous path the Lord has designed for me. The path of life.

It was just a little sin, I rationalize. But it still was sin if the Lord told me “no.” And all sin is continuing evidence of how much I need Him.

I love the American Dream, but for a long time I carried over the concept of independence into my walk with God.

I thought, “The more I’m independent—the less I have to call upon the Lord for help—this will be evidence of spiritual maturity.”

That couldn’t have been more foolish.

The true sign of spiritual maturity is

greater understanding of our need

and growing dependence on the Lord.

So I’m learning to step back and evaluate why I ran ahead of God … why I made a decision without consulting Him … why I lagged behind in disobedience … why I mindlessly walked through life.

It’s usually about some form of pride, selfishness, willfulness or outright rebellion. But sometimes it’s just forgetfulness. I forget how needy I truly am. 

In “performance mode,” I bounce back and forth between legalism and giving up.

In those times, I ultimately am most desperate.

But I’m learning to walk under God’s protective grace:

Observing, confessing and correcting. Not beating myself up. Moving forward in grace and trusting Him.

There is no condemnation in Christ, but there are constant opportunities to learn to depend on Him.

For everything.

Just as my silly conversation with Kim indicated, I have often made foolish choices.

But I’m learning to keep in step with the Spirit. 

How? It’s a process:

  1. Acknowledge – I admit your errors and mistakes; confess my sins. (Again, this is not a matter of beating myself up!)
  2. Accept – I receive the forgiveness I have in Christ.
  3. Allow – I let God’s grace flood over me, encouraging me; I remember what Christ has done for me!
  4. Adjust – I correct my thoughts, attitudes and behavior. It’s a matter of becoming obedient to God’s Word and will, and walking in the Spirit afresh. It’s a walk in freedom!

All-or-nothing? No.

The better perspective is ALL-IN-ALL.

This song expresses what’s in my heart as I think about this today:

“You are my strength when I am weak.

You are the treasure that I seek.

You are my all in all.”

(“You Are My All in All,” sung here

by David Phelps/Gaither Vocal Band.)

Jesus wants to be my Everything.

And I sincerely want that too. Even when I stray. Even when I mess up.

I want to be a woman after God’s own heart.

Why? I’m learning He is my strength, my wisdom, my victory, my only hope and so much more.

Is this your heart too? Is Jesus your “all in all?

 

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God’s ‘Leftovers’ are Makeovers!

9 May

Three wives were bemoaning their husbands’ attitudes towards leftovers:StillLeftovers

“It gets rough,” one said. “My husband is a movie producer and he calls them reruns.”

“You think you have it bad,” was the reply. “Mine is a quality control engineer and he calls them rejects!”

“That’s nothing compared to me,” said the third lady. “My husband is a mortician. He calls them remains!” *

Much has been written about not serving God the leftovers in our lives when He desires our best. I like – OK, truth be known, I was convicted by – what Francis Chan wrote in “Serving Leftovers to a Holy God.”

“God gets a scrap or two only because we feel guilty giving Him nothing … Leftovers are not merely inadequate; from God’s point of view (and lest we forget, His is the only one that matters), they’re evil.”

But that’s not what this post is about. One night, my husband Bob and I discussed this question: Does God have any leftovers?

A New Testament miracle came to mind. Jesus ministered to people whether their need was for truth, healing or food. Mixed within the multitude of people who followed Jesus were some who came because of His message and miracles, but most came simply for the meals. When they didn’t understand His message or the source of power behind His miracles, they still knew they could count on some chow. The Bread of Life provided well.

At least in one case (John 6:12-13, the feeding of the 5,000), there were “fragments” of food – 12 baskets full – that remained after the mass feeding. After the disciples saw Jesus turn the two barley loaves and fish into dinner for a crowd, they heard him say, “… gather up the fragments that remain, so that nothing is lost.” I’ve always wondered about those leftovers.

ChristBlessingTheFiveLoaves_2

“Christ Blessing the Five Loaves,” a print at Holy Transfiguration Monastery

The multitude may not have felt the 12 baskets of “fragments” were that important, but apparently Jesus did. Perhaps they represented God’s blessings. Maybe they represented the Father’s good grace.

Sometimes I’m guilty of considering only the big evidences of God’s work in my life as important, but the truth is, even the small blessings can point me back to the goodness and grace of God. Without Him, I can do nothing. He gives me strength; He is my Provider, my Sustainer.

So I try to gather up all these little fragments of blessing in my life and remember them, especially for the tough times. I believe there are no “worthless leftovers” in God’s plan.

God redeems everything in the believer’s life; He makes or will make all things new (2 Corinthians 5:17; Revelation 21:5). So instead of complaining or wallowing in discouragement when facing life’s trials and problems, I can choose to rejoice and count (rehearse) my blessings. I pick up all my “fragments” and praise Him for the work He’s about to do.

Consider some of the Bible’s lowly “leftovers”:

  • The lowly slave boy, Joseph, became Egypt’s second in command. (He not only collected the small fragments of his life and trusted God, he showed the Egyptians how to survive in famine – Genesis 47:13-31.)
  • God chose a lowly shepherd boy to be Israel’s king.
  • Jesus  chose 12 simple men to be His disciples.

So don’t get discouraged if you feel like a “leftover” in the Kingdom of God. Instead, meditate on 1 Corinthians 1:27-29:

“But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God.”

God chose me … an unworthy servant … to speak and write about His love and holiness to this generation; and knowing that God uses what others might reject encourages me to reach out with the Gospel. Sometimes He invites people to His banquet-table that others might never consider (Luke 14:15-24). Learn to see people from God’s perspective:  He transforms lowly leftovers into miraculous makeovers! In God’s economy, every “fragment” is precious.

How have you seen God radically change an area of your life? How is He transforming you for His glory?

* Cybersalt Digest, Issue #3934, 12-31-12

– Dawn

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