Category Archives: Grace

Good Enough for God?

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Are we good enough for God?

No.
We are not.

No one is good, but God. ~Jesus

A man is not justified by the works of the Law but by faith in Jesus Christ, alone.

We know very well that we are not set right with God by rule-keeping
but only through personal faith in Jesus Christ.
How do we know?
We tried it–and we had the best system of rules the world has ever seen!
Convinced that no human being can please God by self-improvement,
we believed in Jesus as the Messiah so that we might be set right before God 
by trusting in the Messiah, not by trying to be good.  ~Galatians 2:16 (MSG)

No one will ever get it right.

No one will ever be “good enough” for God.

It’s impossible to please God without faith, and trying to “be good” is not faith.
It is trusting in self.

Believe me, please.  For, you see, I tried it.
For years and years and years which turned into decades upon decades.

I was even given the name “Goody-goody” throughout my school years. Yes, I thought I could keep myself saved through good works. It doesn’t matter if you believe your good works will save you before, or after, you come to know Christ. Either way, you’re still only trusting in self.

It wasn’t until my late forties that I realized I can do nothing to save me.
I either have faith in Christ, alone, or it’s all a sham.

And guess what?

On the other side of self-abuse, wretched sinfulness, and family-shattering betrayal…

Finally, I understood the GRACE of God, through His Son, Jesus Christ.

He looked upon my sinfulness
And bestowed upon me His forgiveness.

I saw my sin,
And I knew He saw it.

Yet, I felt His grace.

His love.
His mercy.
His redemption.

I found it is only through Christ, my Lord, that I am able to stand before God, the Father.
Jesus took the punishment I well-deserved.  He endured the suffering for my sins — all of them — before I was even born. Yes, and even before the foundation of the earth, the Lamb of God was crucified for us all.

As a child I learned Jesus loved me.  But I was also taught I must keep myself “good” for Him. And if I didn’t, He would not accept me.  My standing before Him was based upon my good works, not His sacrifice, alone.

So…
Why all of the clarification now???

Because, I spent so many years teaching it wrong. And so many people heard me. Eventually, I did learn the right teaching, but without the experiential knowledge, it wasn’t completely understood within my soul. I kept being “good” for I knew it was wisdom to live well.

But, God…
He turned up the fire of trials in my life.
He tested my knowledge and let me go down a path that would solidify my faith.

It wasn’t pretty.
Seeing our own sinfulness is never pretty.
But, necessary.

And now I KNOW that I KNOW that I KNOW

I am the LORD’s and He is mine.
And nothing can separate me from His love.

Thank you, thank you, thank you, Dear LORD.

Please, hear me, it is still wise to live well, BUT, never ever believe your good works will save you, or keep you saved…

In Christ, alone, is our salvation.

For by GRACE you are saved
through FAITH,
and this is not from yourselves,
It is the gift of God.
~Ephesians 2:8

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My Tattered Veil

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It always hung in our bedroom.

From our first apartment to our last home I used my exquisite wedding veil as a focal point in our sacred, holy place.  A hand-made gift of tatting lace with our names and the date of our wedding, alongside our wedding picture, completed the memorial.  Throughout our years it was a special place in our home.  Many days through many years I lingered by the picture, fingering the embroidery on the veil.  Remembering…

Seeing how young we were and so completely inexperienced in life, the photographer captured our joy laced with hope.  My best friend played Debussy and my sister sang, “Savior, Like a Shepherd, Lead Us.”  My grandfather led us in our vows to one another.

We. meant. every. word.

After the divorce I had no idea what to do with the veil or my dress.  I strongly doubted my daughter would ever want to use them; nevertheless, I couldn’t give them away.  I still loved Phat.  Even after all that was said and done, I knew I would always love him.

Feelings come and go.  Love is a choice.

Noticing how dusty the veil had become, I gently washed it by hand.  As I did the lace began to fall apart, disintegrating as I pulled it out of the sudsy water.   Once I realized what was happening I quickly laid it on a towel and began blotting it dry.  I wondered if the tears would ever stop flowing…

When I found my little house and decided to buy it, I had another bedroom to decorate.

I remembered my tattered veil, folded away, as I began calling myself the names I knew I deserved.

That’s when it all came together.
That’s when God spoke to my heart.
He stopped me … (thank You, Lord, for stopping me).

Gently, He told me that I am His bride.
Lovingly, He reminded me that I am redeemed.
Tenderly, He guided me to His word.

I am my Beloved’s and my Beloved is mine!

For the LORD has called you,
Like a wife forsaken and grieved in spirit…

O troubled one, storm-crushed, uncomforted!
See, your stones will be framed in fair colours,
and your bases (foundations) will be sapphires.

Above the surface over their heads was what looked like a throne
made of blue sapphire.
And high above this throne was a figure
whose appearance was like that of a man.

The One sitting on the throne was as brilliant as gemstones
––jasper and carnelian.
And the glow of an emerald circled His throne like a rainbow.

I will rejoice greatly in the LORD, My soul will exult in my God;
For He has clothed me with garments of salvation,
He has wrapped me with a robe of righteousness,
As a bridegroom decks himself with a garland,
And as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.

Therefore, we who have fled to Him for refuge can take new courage,
for we can hold on to His promise with confidence.
This confidence is like a strong and trustworthy anchor for our souls.
It leads us through the curtain of heaven into God’s inner sanctuary.

This hope we have as an anchor of the soul,
a hope both sure and steadfast
and one which enters within the veil.

 

My tattered veil became a garment of salvation…literally.  Through His restoration and assurance of eternal love, I understood I needed to create a symbol of my Heavenly Bridegroom and of His covering for me.  I adorned the veil with crystals of emerald and sapphire.  I created a bow of colors just like the one I imagined encircling His throne.  And now, every night before I go to sleep, I look up at my wedding veil.  My once tattered veil.  And, I envision the beauty of the One who has loved me without condition.

I remember His holiness ~

and

His banner over me is love.

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.
~scriptures taken from Isaiah, Revelation, and Hebrews

All That I Need

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Jesus, you know what’s inside of my heart,
When I am coming apart at the seams.
But that’s when my true colors come shining through,
I know that You are the One for me.

A song by Dan Marks, “All That I Need”

Oh, how I wish I had always known this in my innermost being!

I do get glimpses of it, knowing He has been, and will always be, the One who never leaves.

He is the One who will always love.
He accepts me. All of me.
Even the ugliest parts…He has them covered.

He forgives fully and without exception.
I am free with Him.
In Him, I can be me.
(He created me…He likes me!)

My struggle, and possibly yours, is my flesh wanting more.

Why do I keep running to the world?

Why, when deep inside of me I KNOW, He is all I need, do I still look for more…?

Another verse:
When the dark clouds come and bring down the rain,
I know that You will sustain me, Lord.

I surely haven’t always lived that truth.
I have had moments, even years, of living it:

I did get through the miscarriage with His sustaining power.
I did feel His strong hand supporting me through the trials of raising three children.
I was empowered through His strength when illness and homeschooling converged.

I guess that’s why I’m so befuddled with the whys of my most recent years…
…the last five, to be exact.

Why, when I knew Him in victory, did I not hold on to Him in tragedy?

Loneliness, revictimization, fatigue … these are all explanations of what happened within my self … Years of fighting with demons, stuffing the pain, and questioning my illness led to a yearning for relief, a way out of the despair.

That’s when I let go and I let my flesh reign.

I still grieve about it. And, I imagine I always will. He forgets all our sins, but He didn’t give us that ability. When we forget, much of the time it’s an act of denial because we do not want to see the truth of our actions.

Honestly, I don’t want to forget.
I’m okay with the grief.
I’m even okay with the recognition that I did not make a mistake.

I sinned against my husband, my children, and my family.
I sinned against a holy God who gave me the best gifts in life.

I spit in the face of His blessings.

The knowledge of that choice brings me to my knees again and again and again…
Not in self-loathing, or thinking I must continue to ask for forgiveness;
I know He has forgiven me.

I fall on my knees in overwhelming thanksgiving to a great God who loves unconditionally!

So, you see,
I don’t want to forget.
I don’t want to deny what I am capable of doing.

I want to remember the lesson for the remainder of my time on this earth.
And when I get to heaven, then He will wipe away all my tears…

Oh God, help me to remember what I’ve learned.

Your love is all that I need,
All that I need, all that I need.
Your love is all that I need…
All that I need is You.

Is It Warfare?

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We must learn to live in the tension between the real and the ideal.
It is in the tension that the beauty of salvation is seen.

~a paraphrase from Andy Stanley

When he said that yesterday, I felt more grace flood my soul than I have felt in a very long while. For someone to recognize the tension between the real and ideal, and then allow for a “less than perfect” reality … Well, I haven’t heard that kind of grace spoken much recently.

Another gracious word from a discussion over the weekend:

Satan calls you by your sin.
God calls you by your name.

And that’s when I remembered, this is warfare.

The names I’ve been called reveal the disappointment others feel toward me.
And the names I’ve called myself reveal my own disgust.

It feels like a flesh and blood battle when flesh and blood people are speaking the words.  But, I must remember that we do not war against flesh and blood.  Satan can speak through people, without them even realizing they are being used.  Remember Peter?  One moment he’s declaring Jesus is the Christ and the next, Jesus tells him to “get behind me, Satan!”

It wasn’t that Peter turned into Jesus’ enemy, it’s that he didn’t understand the Father’s plan for Jesus’ life. And in his misunderstanding he spoke.

We do this all the time when we assume we know what God is doing in someone’s life.  We imagine we can see where they need to be headed, and yet, only God knows the plans He has for each of us.  He is the One working out our salvation for His good will.  He is the One empowering us to do the “good works” He has planned for us to accomplish from the foundation of the earth.  He is the One who sees all the intricate details of each of our lives and is directing our paths as He sees fit.

Remember, Beloved, when others speak untruths concerning you, when you are “labelled” as they see fit, know that is not My name for you.  I call you Beloved.  I call you Redeemed.  I call you My Child.  Stand firm in the armor I’ve given you.

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood,
but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness,
against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.
Use every piece of God’s armor to resist the enemy in the time of evil,

so that after the battle you will still be standing firm.
Stand your ground, putting on the sturdy belt of truth and the body armor of God’s righteousness
For shoes, put on the peace that comes from the Good News,
so that you will be fully prepared.
In every battle you will need faith as your shield to stop the fiery arrows aimed at you by Satan.
Put on salvation as your helmet,
and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
Pray at all times and on every occasion in the power of the Holy Spirit.
Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all Christians everywhere.
~Ephesians 6:12-18

The Suffering Servant

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He became sin for us…so that we might become the righteousness of God.

“The gospel tells us that the Creator has become our Redeemer.  It announces that the Son of God has become man “for us men and for our salvation” and has died on the cross to save us from eternal judgment.  The basic description of the saving death of Christ in the Bible is as a propitiation, that is, as that which quenched God’s wrath against us by obliterating our sins from his sight.  God’s wrath is his righteousness reacting against unrighteousness; it shows itself in retributive justice.  But Jesus Christ has shielded us from the nightmare prospect of retributive justice by becoming our representative substitute, in obedience to his Father’s will, and receiving the wages of our sin in our place.

By this means justice has been done, for the sins of all that will ever be pardoned were judged and punished in the person of God the Son, and it is on this basis that pardon is now offered to us offenders.  Redeeming love and retributive justice joined hands, so to speak, at Calvary, for there God showed himself to be “just, and the justifier of him that hath faith in Jesus.”

Do you understand this?  If you do, you are now seeing to the very heart of the Christian gospel…”  ~J.I. Packer, Knowing God

 

The Prophecy concerning Jesus as found in Isaiah 52-53:

“Look, my servant will succeed!
He will be elevated, lifted high, and greatly exalted
(just as many were horrified by the sight of you)
he was so disfigured he no longer looked like a man;

His form was so marred he no longer looked human
so now he will startle many nations.
Kings will be shocked by his exaltation,
for they will witness something unannounced to them,
and they will understand something they had not heard about.

Who would have believed what we just heard?
When was the Lord’s power revealed through him?

He sprouted up like a twig before God,
like a root out of parched soil;
he had no stately form or majesty that might catch our attention,
no special appearance that we should want to follow him.

He was despised and rejected by people,
one who experienced pain and was acquainted with illness;
people hid their faces from him;
he was despised, and we considered him insignificant.

But he lifted up our illnesses,
he carried our pain;
even though we thought he was being punished,
attacked by God, and afflicted for something he had done.

He was wounded because of our rebellious deeds,
crushed because of our sins;
he endured punishment that made us well;
because of his wounds we have been healed.

All of us had wandered off like sheep;
each of us had strayed off on his own path,
but the Lord caused the sin of all of us to attack him.

He was treated harshly and afflicted,
but he did not even open his mouth.
Like a lamb led to the slaughtering block,
like a sheep silent before her shearers,
he did not even open his mouth.

He was led away after an unjust trial
but who even cared?
Indeed, he was cut off from the land of the living;
because of the rebellion of his own people he was wounded.

They intended to bury him with criminals,
but he ended up in a rich man’s tomb,
because he had committed no violent deeds,
nor had he spoken deceitfully.

Though the Lord desired to crush him and make him ill,
once restitution is made,
he will see descendants and enjoy long life,
and the Lord’s purpose will be accomplished through him.
Having suffered, he will reflect on his work,
he will be satisfied when he understands what he has done.

“My servant will acquit many,
for he carried their sins.
So I will assign him a portion with the multitudes,
he will divide the spoils of victory with the powerful,
because he willingly submitted to death
and was numbered with the rebels,
when he lifted up the sin of many
and intervened on behalf of the rebels.”


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…just as many were horrified by the sight of you…

He was so disfigured He no longer looked like a man;
His form was so marred He no longer looked human
so now He will startle many nations.

 

The revelation of His Story might be right around the corner —
The Suffering Servant will come to earth as The Exalted King!

Will you be found in Christ, alone?

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.

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My sin — oh the bliss of this glorious thought —
My sin — not in part but the whole —
Was nailed to the cross and I bear it no more!

Praise the Lord!
Praise the LORD,
Oh, my soul!!!

Saving Grace

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Grace, grace … God’s grace …

Grace that will pardon and cleanse within.

Grace, grace … God’s grace …

Grace that is greater than all our sin!

 

For the Law was given through Moses;
Grace and truth were realized through Jesus Christ.
John 1:17

 

For by grace you have been saved through faith;
and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God;
not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.
Ephesians 2:8-9

 

And if it is by grace, it is no longer by works,
Otherwise grace would no longer be grace.
Romans 11:6

Amazing grace!  How sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me.

I once was lost, but now I am found!  I was blind, but now I see!

 

May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ,
through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.
Galatians 6:14