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Rules or Grace?

 

There is a story in the Bible I have always struggled with….it has to do with keeping “rules” and giving grace. You see, I have always struggled with the Prodigal Son parable Jesus tells in Luke 15. Now, don’t get me wrong, I LOVE how the father in the story responds to his son when his boy finally returns home. I love how he was eagerly looking and searching the horizon every day since his boy’s departure and runs to him when he is still in the distance. I love how the father lavishly embraces his long lost son, puts the best robe, a ring and sandals on his less than deserving boy’s feet.

I love how the father loves his son right where he is at….on the dirt road…dirty, hungry and broken.

But honestly, I can so relate to the older brother’s response when he hears the news of his brother’s return and sees the celebration, the forgiveness and the grace that is extended to the very brother who deserted him….the very brother who did not “earn” any of the gifts he was being given. I can feel the hurt and anger that begins to build in the older brother’s heart.

Like the older brother, sometimes I still struggle with feeling I need to “earn” my salvation, as if the sacrifice Christ paid on the cross wasn’t enough. I have been guilty in my own life of feeling like I needed to do A, B and C in order to “earn” God’s love. To be honest with you, I am still in the process of embracing God’s grace in my own life.

I bring this point up because some of the Christians in the church of Colossae were struggling with the concept of grace verses works too. They are told all they need is Jesus, yet there were some false teachers who were emphasizing “works”, man-made rules and other false teaching in the church….leading some Christians astray. These false teachers were handing out “Do & Don’t Do” lists, then watching and judging who was obeying their rules or not. Paul is writing to the church in Colossae refuting these false teachings.

“Man-made religions focus on human effort; Christianity focuses on Christ’s work….Our salvation does not depend on our own discipline and rule keeping, but on the power of Christ’s death and resurrection.”

“Since you died with Christ to the basic principles of this world, why, as though you still belonged to it, do you submit to its rules: ‘Do not handle! Do not touch!’?” Colossians 2:20

The older brothers’ heart was broken that day because he really didn’t understand his father’s heart. He thought, like I’ve been guilt of thinking in the past, that his father’s love depended on how “good” he was and how much he “served” his father.

You see a glimpse of this misunderstanding in verse 20 of Luke 15 “…Look! All these years I ‘ve been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders.”
“Slaving” for the father.
Obeying all the rules.

As the older son focused on following all the rules, he missed the heartbeat of his father’s heart.

The false teachers in the church in Colossae fed on people’s desire to earn their way to heaven too…..many false teachers today do the same,  that’s why it’s so important to read and study God’s Word for yourself.

So how do you guard yourself against being influenced by man-made religions or rules?

Here are a few guidelines to keep in mind: (Life Application Study Bible , NIV)

  1. Does it stress man-made rules and taboos rather than God’s grace?
  2. Does it foster a critical spirit toward others, or does it exercise discipline discreetly and lovingly?
  3. Does it stress formulas, secret knowledge, or special visions more than the Word of God?
  4. Does it elevate self-righteousness, honoring those who keep the rules, rather than elevating Christ?
  5. Does it neglect Christ’s universal church, claiming to be an elite group?
  6. Does it teach humiliation of the body as a means to spiritual growth rather than focusing on the growth of the whole person?
  7. Does it disregard the family rather than holding it in high regard as the Bible does?

Like the older brother in the Prodigal Son parable, some of us can get caught up in following rules and missing the grace that our Father extends to us. You see, rules don’t change a person’s heart. Only God can do that.

“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith-and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God- not by works, so that no one can boast.” Ephesians 2:8-9

Sometimes I think we get the rules/works verses grace mixed around. We can’t earn our salvation, that’s a free gift from our Lord, but we can honor Him with how we live our lives. Our “good works” should come out of our deep love for God and our desire to live a life that brings Him glory….not us.

Be like the father in the parable- be generous in the grace you extend.

Be like the younger son, receive the grace and love that the father lavishly gives.

Are you struggling with earning your way to heaven? Ask God to help you embrace the grace only He can provide.

Love God Greatly!

 

 

 

 

Colossians Memory Song Links:

Week 1:

Week 4:

Week 5:

http://www.wisdomandrighteousness.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/10/Colossians-2.16-3.6.mp3

 

Women around the world are IN THE WORD!

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{Week 4} Ministry of Motherhood Commentary

Today we are finishing week 4 of our Ministry of Motherhood book club! I hope you are enjoying this book club and getting as much out of it as I am! Today Courtney and I discuss what we learned from chapters 3 & 4. In your groups and here on our blog, please share your answers to the questions listed at the end of chapter 4 page 57. We always love to hear from you!

Chapter 3:

One point that struck me from chapter 3 was that Jesus affirmed people before others. I talk about this a little in the video but wanted to expound upon it further here. Speaking words of encouragement over our children is so important because they need to hear:.

  • how valuable they are to us.
  • how we see God working in their lives: forming their characters, helping them to forgive a friend or sibling who has hurt them, answering their prayers etc.
  • what makes them special…..that we love the way God made them.
  • that God has GREAT plans for their lives and we can’t wait to see what they are going to do for our Lord.
  • what makes them special
  • how blessed we feel to be their mom. Some nights when I’m putting my girls to bed I’ll say, “God is so good to me, I can’t believe He gave me my two favorite little girls in the whole world! I wouldn’t want any other little girls except you!”
  • that they are my favorite blessings and gifts from God.
  • they are answers to my prayers.

Another great quote from Sally in chapter 3 is: “How important it is, then that we mothers, shepherds of our children’s lives and hearts, choose our words to them carefully. We must deliberately aim our words at their hearts in such a way as to give our children hope, faith, strength, and also to point them toward the redeeming love of Christ. We can become the affirming voice of God to our children, just as we become a picture of his redeeming reality in their everyday lives. In this way we extend the gift of grace.”

Chapter 4:

“I have learned that maturity in Christ is not instantaneous but a slow process.” What a powerful statement and so important for us mothers to remember when dealing with our children. Sometimes I think we can expect to much from our children and we forget how long it has taken us to get to the point where we are at today. We need to remember to be patient as they grow and deepen their relationship with God. They are going to make mistakes, just like we have, but they need to learn to repent, asking for forgiveness and then move forward! We as mothers need to encourage our children in the Lord when they make mistakes.

“Giving our children this gift of forgiving grace can transform their lives by helping them understand that a relationship with God is not something that can be earned by good behavior but a free gift to be accepted with gratitude and repentance.”- Sally Clarkson

Helping our children understand that God forgives is so powerful as they begin to develop their own personal relationships with Him. That’s also why its so important for us moms to learn to extend the gift of grace to them because when we forgive our children, we are teaching them that God forgives them too. I want my children to fall in love with Jesus and know that He loves them no matter what they do. Yes, they need to strive to be like Christ each and everyday…..but on those days when they fail……like we all do…….I want them to know that they can run to Him and ask for His forgiveness and that He will forgive them and tell them to “go and sin no more”.

Now it’s your turn to share! What touched your heart the most this week as we read chapters 3 & 4? What encouraged you?


For those of you who don’t have a group yet, feel free to join Courtney and I on Facebook or Twitter each day- we will be your group for you.
Facebook: Good Morning Girls
Twitter: Courtney (@WomenLivingWell) Angela (@LoveGodGreatly)

Until next time…

Love God Greatly!


{Week 4} Ministry of Motherhood Book Club

I can’t believe we are starting week 4 today in our Ministry of Motherhood book club with Sally Clarkson! This session is going so fast! This week we will be reading about the gift of encouraging words and the gift of forgiveness in action! Two very important gifts to give to our children!

Below I share two of my favorite quotes, one from each chapter that we will be reading this week.

“How important it is, then, that we mothers, shepherds of our children’s lives and hearts, choose our words to them carefully. We must deliberately aim our words at their hearts in such a way as to give our children hope, faith, strength, and also to point them toward the redeeming love of Christ. We can become the affirming voice of God to our children, just as we become a picture of his redeeming reality in their everyday lives. In this way we extend the gift of grace.”- Sally Clarkson

I know for me personally, words are very powerful. They can make me feel like I’m soaring high in the sky or they can make me feel like I’m a complete failure. I would describe myself as a person who loves words of affirmation and encouragement. I have one daughter just like me and I have to be very careful when I discipline her to choose my words very carefully. She gets crushed very easily, just like her mama, by words that are spoken to harshly or to carelessly. But to be honest with you, I think we need to be careful with our words with everyone we speak too. I’m not a person who believes in “speaking her mind.” The bible tells us in James Chapter 3 that we need to learn to tame our tongues. People my say that they aren’t sensitive to harsh words that are spoken to them, but I believe those harsh words still damage the individual they are directed towards whether that individual will admit to it or not. Our words can be life giving or life taking. It all depends on how we use them. Words are very powerful…….God teaches us that important lesson at the very beginning of the bible. Sally reminds us of this truth at the beginning of chapter 3 when she says, “The whole universe came into being because God spoke the words.” She goes on to say that Jesus himself is even described as “The Word of God.” God teaches us by those two examples that words are very powerful. This week lets focus on choosing our words carefully and speaking words to our children that give hope, faith, strength and ultimately point them to God.

“Giving our children this gift of forgiving grace can transform their lives by helping them understand that a relationship with God is not something that can be earned by good behavior but a free gift to be accepted with gratitude and repentance.”- Sally Clarkson

Teaching our children from the beginning that God doesn’t expect them to be perfect is so important to their foundation of faith. Taking that pressure off of them helps our children to embrace God and see him as a loving Father figure. We are never going to be “good enough” to EARN God’s forgiveness. Forgiveness is a gift from God because He loves us. Ephesians 2:8-9 teaches us this important lesson: For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith-and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God- not by works, so that no one can boast. Each time our children disobey us, we are given an opportunity to teach them this important lesson. Are we to hold our children to a high behavior and moral standard? Of course, but we are also to help teach our children about grace and forgiveness…how to receive it and how to give it. Two important lessons that will help them when they become adults, get married and have children of their own.

Today we are going to watch part 2 of Sally’s video on the Gift of Grace.

This week read:

Chapters 3 & 4 of Ministry of Motherhood by Sally Clarkson

This week download:

Week 4 S.O.A.P. Print-Out

Previous Ministry of Motherhood blog posts:

Week 2: Ministry of Motherhood Book Club-Sally’s Greeting

Week 2: Ministry of Motherhood Commentary- Courtney & Angela

Week 3: Ministry of Motherhood Book Club- Grace Part 1-Sally

Week 3: Ministry of Motherhood Commentary- Courtney

Note: If you do not have a Good Morning Girls group and would like to participate, feel free to join Courtney and I everyday on Facebook (Good Morning Girls) or on Twitter (Courtney @WomenLivingWell) and (Angela @LoveGodGreatly). You can also participate by commenting on our blogs posts and joining the discussion. You are also invited to form your own Good Morning Girls group or join one by going to our message board and clicking on the “If you don’t have a group..” thread. There are some groups still forming.

Until next time…

Love God Greatly!

{Week 3} Ministry of Motherhood Book Club

Today we are starting week 3 of our Good Morning Girls’s Ministry of Motherhood book club with Sally Clarkson! This week we will be learning about the wonderful gift of grace!

I’d like to share with you one particular quote that touched my heart from this week’s reading:

“Each of us is designed by God to whisper his words to the hearts of our children so they will feel the call of God in their own lives to become ‘fishers of men.’ Yet we must always remember that our children, like Peter, will never be perfect. Each of them needs for us, like Jesus, to extend to him or her the gift of constant love, grace, and forgiveness. And we can only do this by relying continually on the grace of our own relationship with the Lord.” - Sally Clarkson

This week I’d like for us to focus on ways we can extend the gift of grace to our children, husband, friends etc. I love how Sally reminds us that our children will never be perfect……and neither will we for that matter. We ALL need to learn to extend the gift of grace to each other. Let’s be mindful this week to exercise the gift of grace with those in our lives. Let’s look for ways to extend grace and pray for opportunities to exhibit grace to our children to help them understand what grace means.

Today we are going to watch part 1 of Sally’s video on the Gift of Grace! I pray you are as blessed by her words on Grace as much as I have been!

This week read:
Chapters 1 & 2 of Ministry of Motherhood by Sally Clarkson

This week download:
Week 3 S.O.A.P. Print-Out

Previous Ministry of Motherhood blog posts:
Week 2: Ministry of Motherhood Book Club- Sally’s Greeting
Week 2: Ministry of Motherhood Commentary- Courtney & Angela

Note: If you do not have a Good Morning Girls group and would like to participate, feel free to join Courtney and I everyday on Facebook (Good Morning Girls) or on Twitter (Courtney @WomenLivingWell) and (Angela @LoveGodGreatly). You can also participate by commenting on our blogs posts and joining the discussion. You are also invited to form your own Good Morning Girls group or join one by going to our message board and clicking on the “If you don’t have a group..” thread. There are some groups still forming.

Until next time…

Love God Greatly!

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