Sufficient Grace

Sometimes I’d like to have an “Aaron” to speak for me like Moses did.

“Then Moses said to the Lord, ‘O my Lord, I am not eloquent, neither before nor since You have spoken to Your servant; but I am slow of speech and slow of tongue.’

So the Lord said to him, ‘Who has made man’s mouth? Or who makes the mute, the deaf, the seeing, or the blind? Have not I, the Lord? Now therefore, go, and I will be with your mouth and teach you what you shall say.’

But he said, ‘O my Lord, please send by the hand of whomever else You may send.’” (Exodus 4:10-13)

It was sort of a he said, He said give and take.

. . . I know

my little insecurities aren’t anywhere near worthy of comparison of what Moses was up against. Moses held the fate of a nation and faced a Pharaoh. I stumble trying to not to say the wrong thing or gently make a point when in conversation with friends or teaching a class or in a meeting.

Moses knew his faults.

Me too.

But I’m not alone.

Neither was Moses.

Nor are you.

Even Paul wrote “And He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.'” And Paul adds “. . . that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” 2 Corinthians 12: 9

Paul walked into the future, not knowing the threats ahead of him. He spoke while on raging seas, on dusty roads, standing in the midst of the Areopagus, and before governors and kings.

(And I have share a laugh with you. ☺ As I write this, the usually dignified spell check in WordPress is trying its level best to have Paul standing in the midst of the Asparagus!)

Remembering the history of how the Lord delivered and protected Moses, maybe Paul gained faith to believe God would do the same for him as he trusted the “power of Christ” to rest upon him.

God’s patience and compassion is endless . . .

And you know how things ended up with Moses and Aaron . . .

“So the anger of the Lord was kindled against Moses, and He said: ‘Is not Aaron the Levite your brother? I know that he can speak well. And look, he is also coming out to meet you. When he sees you, he will be glad in his heart. Now you shall speak to him and put the words in his mouth. And I will be with your mouth and with his mouth, and I will teach you what you shall do.’” Exodus 4:14-15

“Then one of the seraphim flew to me, having in his hand a live coal which he had taken with the tongs from the altar. And he touched my mouth with it, and said: ‘Behold, this has touched your lips; your iniquity is taken away, and your sin purged.’” Isaiah 6:6-7

That verse becomes part of a prayer that a dear friend who loves the Lord says silently before she speaks or teaches in any gathering.  She asks the Lord to cleanse and purify her words as she speaks, a powerful example of faith for me.

“Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid” (Jesus in John 14:27).

Faith in the Lord Jesus changes everything. His Grace is sufficient for and in all things.

Do you have a prayer or a verse you say that helps prepare you to speak?

Love,

Sally

Our Creator Sets Limits

It’s an honor to have Pat Luffman Rowland guest-posting this week. I’ve long been a fan of Pat’s writing, and you may have seen the link to her blog, Prayerful Pondering, in the sidebar. Many of her posts have caught my attention and imagination, but this is one post that I asked if she would share with us. It’s brief, but powerful, and it sets in place a parallel to our lives.

Pat writes:

Who shut up the sea behind doors when it burst forth from the womb, when I made the clouds its garment and wrapped it in thick darkness, when I fixed limits for it and set its doors and bars in place, when I said, “This far you may come and no farther; here is where your proud waves halt”? Job 38:8-11 (NIV)

The ocean is my favorite part of nature. I love to watch the rhythmic movement of the waves, hear the sound of them rolling into shore or crashing on rocks.

The waters have a vastness that seems wild and free, yet it is restrained by God’s command, the boundaries He set.

How can I trust that God’s boundaries for the ocean will hold?

How can I walk by the edge of the water, and not be afraid that a boundary will give way and I will be swallowed up?

It is by faith in the One who created the seas and determined how deep and wide they would be, by faith in the One who spoke that they might come so far and no farther.

Such is how we must trust God with the problems and perils of our lives. Sometimes it seems trials go on forever, pile one upon another. We begin to ask if God has forgotten us when relief is slow to come.

It helps to think of the ocean and how God has it in control. Just as He limits the oceans’ reach, He limits how much His children go through. We don’t always understand our tribulations, but God has said He uses all things for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28).

We must place our trust in that word from God. We must trust that the same One who created the boundaries for the seas, created limits for how much happens to us. We must trust that all will have its place in forming us for eternal life.

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The men were amazed and asked, “What kind of man is this? Even the winds and the waves obey him!” Matthew 8:27 (NIV)

A little about Pat.

Pat Luffman Rowland1Pat Luffman Rowland doesn’t recall a time she didn’t believe in God or know that Jesus was His Son and our Savior, but she made her profession of faith and was baptized at age twelve. She will never forget the experience of understanding she belonged to the Lord! The sun became ten times brighter and it was as if she could hear angels sing—a supremely joyful moment.

Pat has an undergraduate degree in Healthcare Consumer Relations, a master’s in Religious Studies, and worked for twenty-seven years in healthcare. She’s retired and lives in a suburb of Memphis with her two cats. Her daughter, Kristi, and son-in-law, Mark, reside in Georgia and are the delights of her heart.

Pat is active in her church, First Assembly of Memphis, and the church school, First Assembly Christian School. A writer, in addition to her blog, Prayerful Pondering, her work has appeared in devotional publications including The Upper Room, United Methodist Reporter, and Presbyterian Daily.

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Sally’s note~  Thank you, Pat, for sharing your blog post with us. I’m thrilled to have you as a guest and hope you will bless us with your wisdom again soon.

Have you sometimes felt slammed by wave after wave of things happening that just don’t seem to quit? You felt your prayers weren’t heard, that you wouldn’t survive? And just as you were about to “go under,” by faith, you prayed once more and dug in your heels.

And now, in retrospect, something changed, things eased and were somehow resolved.

Did the Lord perhaps impose limits, boundaries for you?

We are beloved. The Lord walks with us through it all.

Are you a survivor, thankful for His gracious limitations?

Pat and I would love for you to leave a comment on how God has set limits in your life.

Blessings!

Sally

Sleepless in Shushan

Have you ever had a night when you just couldn’t sleep

because those little night gremlins

wormed their way into your head

and began gnawing on the edges of your mind?

Once in a while, night can become Satan’s playground. We may be unable to fall asleep or may be awakened out of a sound sleep, ripped away from resting and thrust into groundless fear that forgets faith for a frightening moment. But if we know and love the Lord, it’s only for a moment.

“The mind is a beautiful thing,” they say. But what if it refuses to settle down and sleep?

What if your lovely gray matter decides to take the night off?

What if it says, “Nope, we’re going to think about every little detail of the day and take over the night, whether the rest of you likes it or not?”

Now, right here, is the perfect spot to give you a magical list of six great ways to solve sleeplessness.

Really? Are there any?

Sure, there are ways to help, like count sheep, deep breaths, recite scripture, think lovely thoughts, sip warm milk, or just give up and get up. You know them all and have probably tried them all.

But, once in a while, there may be a good reason why you’re wakeful.

 In the Bible, in the Book of Esther, King Ahasuerus was sleepless in Shushan the citadel.

“That night the king could not sleep. So one was commanded to bring the book of the records of the chronicles; and they were read before the king” (Esther 6:1).

Queen Esther’s husband, King Ahasuerus was troubled with his wakefulness and called for someone to read him boring records so he’d fall asleep. But there were reasons for the king’s inability to sleep.

Good, sound reasons.

If the king had slept, he’d have missed what was written in those chronicles that ended up being instrumental in saving Queen Esther and her people from certain death.

God is in the details of why the King couldn’t sleep.

Could He be in the details of why we sometimes can’t sleep or wake up unexpectedly? Can that happen to us?

The king couldn’t get to sleep. But what about when you’re awakened from a deep sleep with a sense that something’s not right.

You get up and go directly to your child’s bedside–and discover a fever that needs your immediate attention. Or there’s an uneasiness, you can’t seem to go to sleep, and you rise. You’re drawn to turn on the TV and find there’s an overwhelming need for prayer. On the west coast, a gunman is holding many hostage—terrified people. And you’re certain they’re praying. They need prayer. And you pray.

Or what about the time you really wanted to watch the blood moon lunar eclipse but were just too bone weary from a difficult day. You tumble into bed and forget to set the alarm.

Then suddenly you’re wide awake. You glance at the blue digits on the clock. Three-thirty-two.

Did You do that, Lord?

And instantly, your bare feet are on the floor taking you to the front porch to feel the world move beneath you.

You stand in awe of the wake-up call and the sight of earth-shadow inching across the rugged face of the moon, the power and glory and mastery of God. An eclipse you would otherwise have slept right through.

But you know. You’ve been there too.

We love and serve an awesome God. There is nothing He cannot do. That includes the dearness of waking His child, whose little one needs her or whom He knows will pray for others or who has the desire to enjoy His creation, right on time.

“It is vain for you to rise up early, to sit up late, to eat the bread of sorrows; for so He gives His beloved sleep” (Psalm 127:2 NKJV).

“Keep sound wisdom and discretion so . . . when you lie down, you will not be afraid; yes, you will lie down and your sleep will be sweet” (Proverbs 3:21, 24 NKJV).

Saint Teresa of Avila has the last word this week. I love this quote. Savor its depth and insight.

“God gave us faculties for our use; each of them will receive its proper reward. Then do not let us try to charm them to sleep, but permit them to do their work until divinely called to something higher.” Saint Teresa of Avila

Love,

Sally

Simplicity

Sometimes it’s the little things. So simple, so subtle—and we miss them.

Jesus holds me safe and close as I speak through Him, directly to my God, my Creator, asking and believing.

The Son of God, Jesus, said these things about what would begin to happen on the day he was resurrected and left to go to his Father—

“In that day you will ask Me nothing.

Most assuredly, I say to you, whatever you ask the Father in My name He will give you.

Until now you have asked nothing in My name.

Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full.

In that day you will ask in My name, and I do not say to you that I shall pray the Father for you;

for the Father Himself loves you,

because you have loved Me, and have believed that I came forth from God.

I came forth from the Father and have come into the world. Again, I leave the world and go to the Father” (John 16:23-24, 26-28 NKJV).

So my heart remembers when I pray . . .
. . . that my prayer is to my Heavenly Father, God.
I speak to Him, believing, asking for whatever my needs are,
and asking in the name of Jesus,
knowing God will give me what I need.

And my joy is full.

A note written by the photographer about this wonderful photo that I found under the category of Joy.

Tim Shields calls his photo: Praise God

He writes: “This is the world famous sand dunes of Death Valley. And this is my 12-year-old daughter jumping with all the joy of life that she has within her. It was 6:45 AM and we had just watched the sun rise over the sand dunes. It was a magical moment to appreciate God’s creation together.”

Praying for your joy to be as effervescent as Tim’s daughter’s was that beautiful morning.

Walk in Beauty

Oh Great Spirit, whose breath gives life to the world, and whose voice is heard in the soft breeze; we need your strength and wisdom.

Cause us to walk in beauty.

Give us eyes ever to behold the red and purple sunset.Make us wise so that we may understand what you have taught us.

Help us learn the lessons you have hidden in every leaf and rock.Make us always ready to come to you with clean hands and steady eyes,

so when life fades, like the fading sunset, our spirits may come to you without shame.

Amen

A traditional Native American prayer, and my heart so easily turns to God as I repeat it. I found it in the back of an old hymnal a long time ago, and the words never fail to impart a sense of peace, serenity, and oneness with our Heavenly Father.

“Wisdom and knowledge will be the stability of your times, and the strength of salvation; the fear of the Lord is His treasure” (Isaiah 33:6 NKJV).

“And let the beauty of the Lord our God be upon us, and establish the work of our hands for us; yes, establish the work of our hands” (Psalm 90:17 NKJV)

Do you have any unusual prayers or blessings you enjoy? I’d love it if you’d share one in the comments.

With clean hands and steady eyes, may the Lord cause you to walk in beauty, strength, wisdom, and understanding with Him, every day.

Rewind!

Oh, boy, I really messed that up.

My aim was to share, encourage, and entertain. But how could anyone have gotten anything out of a talk that was so personal, passionate, and rambling?

The day after I’d given a talk to the Mothers of Preschoolers (MOPS) group at church, negative replays of that morning began tumbling through my mind like a windstorm of errant autumn leaves. At one point, those replays were so annoying I stopped everything to pray about the criticism I was giving myself.

Plopping onto a kitchen chair, elbows on my knees, palms pressed hard against my forehead, I poured out a plea. “Please, God, help me let this go.”

Did you feel encouraged to lift Me up as you were speaking?

“Yes, but what about how I talked so much about myself. My childhood. My mother. My writing. And I dragged it out . . . on and on . . . ”

And afterward? How did your question and answer session go?

“It went well, but—”

But—I wasn’t listening and kept right on agonizing and praying for help to let go of the constant “hashing over” of what I’d so passionately shared.

Minutes later, I pulled on a sweater and half-listened to the program in progress on a Christian radio station. The pastor giving the message didn’t waste any time getting right down into my business as he read the first of two Bible versions of Revelation 3:16.

“So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth.”

Uh oh. But I hadn’t exactly been lukewarm in my talk, had I? Coffee sloshed in the cup as I set it on my nightstand and stared at the radio. The pastor had my attention.

He continued, reading the second version, which put the verse in words a whole lot stronger “So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth.”

He paused, thoughtful, and seemed to draw out his words for effect, “So, being lukewarm makes God sick.”

I let out the breath I’d been holding. I’d heard enough. I “got” it.

Doubt had taken my focus from the Lord. I’d focused squarely on myself. I was sinking as fast as Peter had after he left his boat and walked on the water to go to Jesus. Instead of keeping his eyes locked on the eyes of Jesus, Peter looked away to the winds that whipped the wave tops and buffeted him. In sudden fear, he began to slip beneath the waves like chunk of lead and called to Jesus to save him. I had done the same. Jesus reached out to Peter.

“And immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and caught him, and said to him, ‘O you of little faith, why did you doubt?’” Matthew 14:31

And in the midst of my doubts and  fears, the Lord reached out to me with a reminder. Sweet reassurance that He had been in every detail of my talk to the young women. My passion had come from His heart. My job was to trust and leave the rest to Him.

All those replays, doubts, and worries had been custom designed by Satan to attack my weak spots. I had prayed over what I would say to the gathered moms. I’d trusted the Holy Spirit. I’d been passionate. I’d done my best to lift up the Lord, so why had I doubted?

Satan, the universal doubt-planter, the one who paces the earth like a roaring lion, ready to devour, was overruled as God spoke to my heart through the pastor’s words.

And I let it go.

“Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour” (1Peter 5:8).

So He said, ‘Come.’ “And when Peter had come down out of the boat, he walked on the water to go to Jesus.  But when he saw that the wind was boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink he cried out, saying, ‘Lord, save me!'” (Matthew 14:29-31)

I’m thankful we serve a gracious God who cares when we lose our way in trusting Him. He loves us with an everlasting love and turns our tribulations into triumphs . . . and into stories to share.

Have you ever doubted and started to sink into a sea of unbelief?

There’s a song for that; Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus.

Love,

Sally

Journey Into Joy

. . . so what is joy?

A feeling? an emotion? A sense that all is right with the world that we sometimes experience?

I think all of these.

But joy dives deep into our God-created being.

Joy reshapes expressions on faces. Joy flows from an artist’s brush, a vocalist’s solo. a musician’s instrument, or a little boy’s toy piano.

Joy makes your heart beat faster, sweeps you up into dancing, and hand-clappping and jumping for joy.

Joy fashions happy tears and frames itself in hugs that say “I love you too.” It’s in the tears that come while you’re reading or watching a scene so tender it literally squeezes those tears out of your heart of hearts.

Joy walks with you into a room to pray for another’s recovery, and though hundreds of others have prayed too, when he’s made whole again, just maybe you had a little part in God’s awesome answer.

Joy is laughter within a loving family with whom you simply revel in being near.

Joy is a good stretch after a sound night’s sleep.

Joy is bursting upward through the deepest of depths and finding God’s been with you through the entire scary trip.Joy is your best friend calling to sing Happy Birthday all the way through and wishing you the best year ever.

Joy is feeling better after you’ve felt so terrible.

Joy is walking a quiet trail with moss underfoot and wildflowers brushing your arms as you pass.

Joy is serving communion and seeing Jesus in the eyes of those who love Him.

Joy is stroking a service dog in training knowing one day she will lead instead of being led.

Joy is a long, unhurried hug from a three-year-old, her little arms around your neck and her sweet head nestled against your shoulder, that’s like no other hug, ever.Joy is knowing that you know you are beloved by your heavenly Father and are kept for everlasting life by Jesus and have a Helper, the Holy Spirit, forever.

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, JOY, peace . . .” Galatians 3: 22

The dimensions and definitions of JOY are beyond number, but can you add a few more of your own?
I’d love for you to share them in a comment.


“Now may the God of hope fill you with all JOY and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” Romans 15:13

Love,

Sally

All scripture verses are from The New King James Version of the Bible