54,427 Fans   3109 Followers  

Grace To You

    I, Paul, write this greeting with my own hand. Remember my chains. Grace be with you.
(Colossians 4:18)

We have come to the end of our Colossians study and what a great book this has been. Paul is so passionate about Christ that even while he is in prison he continues to minister to others. That is some serious dedication. I imagine that if I had been in his shoes I would have been filled with fear and focused more on my circumstances. I think my letter would have been something like “Please pray for me because I can’t seem to focus on anything except that I am cold, tired, hungry and scared.” It would be easy to become self focused but Paul has one thing on his mind and that is making Christ known and he won’t let that little inconvenience of being in chains keep him from doing that.

I love the last verse of this book. Paul picks up the pen himself and asks for prayer and then speaks a benediction on the people of Colossae. “Grace be with you.”

A benediction is a short prayer for divine help, blessing and guidance over the people of God. It is often given at the end of a worship service. I have very fond childhood memories of seeing our pastor (my dad) raise his hand and pray this special blessing over the congregation. It was almost like a special mark that he was leaving with us as we went into the week reminding us that God is mighty to save and eager to bless.

“Grace be with you.”

This is beautiful. Grace is undeserved favor. It is something we need immeasurable amounts of and yet something we do not deserve and cannot earn. We need grace to help us deal kindly with our children and to show love and respect to our husbands. It is grace that causes us to overcome temptations and it is grace that forgives us when we fail. Grace not only gives us  what we need but also things we simply want. Grace stays God’s hand against the wicked and grace allows us to grow in godliness despite our foolishness. Since we all deserve nothing short of hell we can say that everything in our lives is grace.

Grace is freely given by God, and most liberally through Jesus Christ. Since Jesus is the source of our grace we need to stay close to him. We do this by use of the “means of grace.” God has given us gifts that he uses to bless us. We hear God in and are transformed by his word. We speak to God in and are strengthened through prayer. We experience God together in corporate worship. If we want an abundance of grace in our lives then we must seek it in the God who desires to bless us in so many ways (1 Tim 1:14). We seek that grace–we seek Christ–through this sacred means.

Let me leave you with the first benediction found in scripture and I pray that you have a grace filled day.

The LORD bless you and keep you;
the LORD make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you;
the LORD lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace.
Numbers 6:24-26

Looking to Jesus,

 

 

 

Our four-week Advent Study, begins Monday, November 26.  I hope you can join us.  The FREE Advent study e-book will be available for all blog subscribers beginning November 12. Haven’t subscribed to the Good Morning Girls blog yet?  Click here!

{Week 8} WIWW Link-Up Party… Finding Peace by Wrestling in Prayer…

Every other Saturday morning I kiss my sleeping husband on the cheek and whisper a soft “thank you” into his ear.  Tiptoeing through the living room, I beg God to please let my children sleep just two more minutes until I can make it out the back door without being noticed (because awake children are always on this momma’s heels, but especially if I dare try to slip out the door without them).  I quickly slide my Bible off of the kitchen counter and under my arm, and head out the door into the dark, early hours of the morning.

I don’t especially love hearing the alarm go off that early on a Saturday, but once I’m up, an immense feeling of satisfaction pours over me.  Houses all around me are still asleep, and the day is momentarily untainted by the world.  My drive is short but peaceful, and I can’t help but notice God in the soft silhouettes of trees and farmland.  Details that for some reason I don’t take time to appreciate except for on mornings like this.

Just like clockwork, I smile as five others pull into the church parking lot at almost exactly the same moment as I do.  A year and a half later, we’ve got this thing down, and our sea of minivans gives us away.  We’re moms on a mission.  The only ones on the road this early on Saturday morning.

And we’re here to pray.

We’ve taken time to email our prayer requests in the days before, because we’re aware of our own tendencies.  Specifics and explanations have already been shared, because we’re not here to talk.  We’re here to pray.  Our time is limited, and our needs are great.

Before we cry out to the Father, we humble ourselves by taking time to recognize who God is.  We focus on one specific character trait of God each meeting, and take time to read together a handful of verses to remind us just Who it is we’re approaching.  This particular morning… God is my Helper: One who assists, aids, eases or relieves (Deuteronomy 33:26; Psalm 18:6; Psalm 121:2).  Ah, just the reassurance this momma needed to hear on this particular morning, in this particularly busy season of mothering.  Of life.

After intentional times of thanksgiving and confession, we enter into a time of intercession, or going to God in prayer on behalf of others.  While we mostly focus on our children, we often weave in prayer for ourselves, our husbands and others.  Sometimes we pray back fitting scripture, inserting our children’s names (“May Chase know that You are his God, who takes hold of his right hand and says to him, ‘Do not fear; I will help you.’” ~ from Isaiah 41:13).  But most of the time we use our own simple, broken words, clearly demonstrating our passion and great need for God in all things.  Some of us have been praying for years; others of us, only recently.  But God doesn’t need fancy prayers… just willing servants who are quick to admit their need for a Savior.

If there’s one thing we’ve learned during our time together, it’s that we can go to God with any request, great or small.  We’re not afraid to ask God to help our kids master math facts… any desperate mom to a fourth-grader will instantly high-five me on this one with no further explanation needed.  Heh.  But there are moments of intense wrestling with God too, as we ask Him to protect, mold and guide our children to turn from their sin and to walk in His ways.  Oh, God, bring them to Yourself, we pray…

God is our Helper.  And He hears our prayers.

We’re lucky if we make it through the hour without tears, because there’s just something so humbling and powerful about hearing someone else pray for your child by name.  I love these women’s children, and they love mine, and there’s extreme comfort in knowing that we’re not alone in this battle.

We reluctantly finish up our prayer time, exchange quick hugs, but can’t linger.  The sun is coming up, and there are early morning soccer games to attend, Saturday morning pancake batters to mix, and oh yes, all of those children who will soon wipe the sleep from their eyes and will be looking for their mommas.  But we’ll continue to check in, share updates, and pass on new requests until we meet again.

 

I drive home with a new outlook on the day, feeling like a weight has been lifted.  The peace in my heart out-weighs that spent feeling, from all of that prayer “wrestling”.  Practically speaking, no circumstance has changed, and no prayer request has been answered in the last sixty minutes.  The difference then?

 

Our focus, our confidence, our hope has been shifted… off of our circumstances,  and instead onto our Helper.

 

 ”Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.” ~ Colossians 4:2

 

At His feet,

 

 

We hope you’ll join us for our four-week Advent Study, beginning Monday, November 26.  What an incredible opportunity to help prepare our hearts and keep our focus on Jesus this holiday season!  The FREE Advent study e-book will be available for all blog subscribers beginning November 12. Haven’t subscribed to the Good Morning Girls blog yet?  Click here!



{Week 8} Be Faithful to the End: Colossians 4

It’s week 8!

This is the final week in the Book of Colossians and I am SO proud of all of you who have been

fully committed

and

faithful to the end!

Have some of your Good Morning Girls deserted you??? I hope not. But if they did…you are not alone. Paul was deserted by someone he loved. Watch this video about the final verses of Colossians 4…you might be tempted to read them like Old Testament geneologies – but they are packed full of good stuff.  Don’t skim them!

 

Here’s some resources for further study:

John MacArthur

The Speech of the New Man – Colossians 4:2-6

With a Little Help From My Friends – Colossians 4:7-18

John Piper

 Walk in Wisdom: Seize the Moment – Colossians 4:2-6

 

Final Note:

We are so excited to share that the Free Christmas Advent eBook is almost complete and will be available next week for download.

This 4 week series will begin the Monday after Thanksgiving.

Within the eBook you will find the Bible Reading Plan,  SOAP pages, Christmas Devotionals, recipes, traditions and more!  Details are coming soon…

Walk with the King,

, WomenLivingWell.org

 

It Is Well With My Soul

Horatio and Anna Spafford

     And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, …
Colossians 3:15-16

Let me tell you the story of Horatio Spafford. Many of you are probably familiar with his hymn “It Is Well With My Soul.” It is one of my favorites not only because of its rich message but also because of the story behind the hymn.

Horatio and his wife Anna lived in Chicago with their 5 children. He had a successful law practice and owned some property on what would now be called Lake Shore Drive. Horatio was an elder in his church and a dedicated Christian. They led a charmed life until 1870 when their faith would be tested with the death of their 4 year old son who had contracted scarlet fever. Then in 1871 the great Chicago fire destroyed Horatio’s investments as well as his law practice. A little while after that Anna began to have trouble with her health. In hopes of helping her heal physically, as well as emotionally from the loss of her son, the family planned a trip to England. At the last minute Horatio had to deal with some business, and so his wife and 4 daughters sailed on the French steamer Ville du Havre without him.  The plan was for Horatio to follow in a day or two. On November 22, 1873 the ship was struck by a British iron sailing ship and within 12 minutes the steamer, Ville du Havre, sank in the middle of the Atlantic ocean. Anna was found unconscious among some debris, but her 4 daughters (one still being a baby) drowned.

When she reached England she telegraphed Horatio saying “Saved alone, what shall I do?” After receiving her message Horatio boarded the next ship to England and when he reached the spot where the Ville du Havre sank he went to his cabin and wrote his famous hymn.

When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou has taught me to say,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.

Maybe you haven’t lost your children, or maybe you have, but there are innumerable things that can rob us of peace. For some it is stress over finances, worry over a wayward child or dealing with physical ailments.  But like Horatio, there is true peace to be found.

There is a peace to be had that is genuine, deep, and lasting. It surpasses our circumstances and even our understanding (Phil 4:7). This is not a peace we muster up ourselves or can force. It is a divine peace that must be given by God himself, but one he has told us to seek in Jesus.

There are two ways in which we receive peace from Christ. First, his peace give us communion with God because his wrath and hostility have been removed through the blood of Jesus (Col 1:20). Your sins have been forgiven and your soul has been made right, forever. No matter what happens in your life you can be assured that it is well with your soul.

The peace of Christ also gives us freedom from the world and the devil (John 14:27). Because of Jesus we have the ability to experience true calmness of spirit no matter what storm rages around us.

But the only way this will happen is if we “let the word of Christ dwell in us richly.” It is only here that we get to know more deeply the God who saves us. In scripture we learn that he is always with us (Matt. 28:20), that his hand is in all of our circumstances (Proverbs 20:24), and that he loves us with a passionate and tender love (John 17:22).

Let me hear what God the LORD will say,
for he will speak peace to his people, to his godly ones;
but let them not turn back to folly.
Psalm 85:8

We must be ready to hear what the Lord says and he speaks through his word.

This will not only lead to peace but also to thankfulness because when we learn more about the greatness of God we can’t help but see the sinfulness and smallness of ourselves.
We deserve hell and nothing more and yet God in his mercy and grace has given us salvation. Everything else we have is a gift that comes in and through him. God provides for us in overwhelming ways and when we learn to see God’s care for us we will grow in peace as well as in gratitude.

When the Spafford’s returned to Chicago they ended up having three more children, a son and two daughters. But trials would continue for them when their son contracted scarlet and, like his brother before him, died at age 4. Anna remembered her friend once telling her, “It’s easy to be grateful and good when you have so much, but take care that you are not a fair-weather friend to God.”

Don’t let your circumstances, whether they be difficult or easy, keep you from clinging to Jesus. Only there will you find a true and lasting peace and a deep gratitude which in turn will allow you to be a strong witness to others and bring glory to God.

Looking to Jesus,

When Our Life Feels Out of Focus

Sometimes we need to be reminded of our focus, at least I know I do.

I love how God speaks to us from His Word, meeting us right where we are at….hurting, confused, tired and lonely. He is with us.

To be honest with you, I’m tired tonight. Tired from traveling with 3 little girls, tired of living out of suitcases for a week and a half, tired from not seeming to have enough time in the day to get everything done, tired from not getting enough sleep……for more nights than I’d like to admit. Tonight, I’m just tired.

But part of the reason I’m so tired is because I’ve allow my eyes to get off of my Lord and onto the “world.” My problem is, I’m a people pleaser…….and I hate to disappoint. For some reason I continue to believe the lie that I’m “super woman” and I can get more accomplished in a day than is humanly possible. I have forgotten Colossians 3:23…..I work for The Lord….not “men.”

Over the last few months, God has been speaking to me…..quietly…..and I’ve been listening but not acting. Ever been there? Instead of listening and obeying, I’ve been listening and then delaying my obedience with excuses. “Wait until this is over, Lord” or “I’ll do that once I have this finished.” The “things” I’ve been doing aren’t bad. To many people they would appear to be really good “things.” They all involved “serving” God, but unfortunately delayed obedience is not obedience at all, but rather disobedience.

This past weekend, God used human voices to confirm what He has been saying in my heart. The messages weren’t new, I’ve been hearing them for months…..but sometimes I need to hear a message over and over again to take action. I dislike that about me, but it’s the truth. I love how even in our disobedience, God can be gentle with us though. God was gentle with me when He used some of my favorite bloggers/authors to speak the same words to me that I’ve been listening to for months.

God always uses Sally Clarkson, my favorite parenting author/blogger, to speak directly to my heart. This past weekend, at the Allume conference, she reminded me to live as Jesus lived. To live a life that is personal and local, that can be a challenge in today’s online world. She challenged me not to substitute real life for online life! If you’re a blogger, you know first hand the battle of balancing online ministry with real life ministry.

The Nester, one of my favorite decorating bloggers, challenged us to say “No” more often than “Yes” when different opportunities come around.
“Don’t say ‘yes’ to a stranger and ‘no’ to your husband or children!”- The Nester

The conference came to a close with the final keynote from Ann Voskamp. I just love her because she always speaks truth with God’s heartbeat mixed between her words. She said, “God’s call is not that you do more for God, but that you do more with Him.” How many times have I made decisions or said “yes” to opportunities without truly praying about it and seeking His face? Saying “yes” to even “good” opportunities is still wrong if it isn’t what God wants for my life. That’s why Colossians 3:23 is so important to remember! Who am I working for? Who am I serving? The “Who” in our lives is so important because when we know the “Who” then we can understand the “Why?”

(Having breakfast with Courtney, from WomenLivngWell.Org, during our Good Morning Girls meet-up)

This past weekend I was challenged to keep my eyes on Jesus, to serve Him where He has placed me. I was reminded that my days are numbered, to make every day count. That’s why it’s so important to pray and seek God’s wisdom in knowing what to say “Yes” to and what to say “No” to….making sure my priorities are God-pleasing not people pleasing. God, family then ministry. When we are living out Colossians 3:23, we no longer seek man’s approval but God’s approval. We turn from seeking the applause of this world to seeking the only applause that matters…..the applause of the One.

Seeking His face tonight for wisdom to know what I need to say “No” to so that I can say “Yes” to the right things in my life.

 

How about you? Is God whispering in your heart too?

 

Love God Greatly!

 

 

 

 

Women around the world are IN THE WORD!

Every Wednesday we will have a link-up. If you are a blogger we invite you to link-up any blog posts that you have written about your quiet time that week. We ask that you put our button in the post or on your sidebar so we can find each other. We do not have code for this link up button. Just right click and save as. Then link it to http://www.goodmorninggirls.org

 



Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...
Hide me
Sign up below to receive free study materials!
Enter your email address:
Show me