Tag Archives: strength

The Gift of Grace

An unknown author once stated, “Like any other gift, the gift of grace can be yours if you’ll reach out and take it.”

Imagine waking up one morning to a shiny, wrapped package with curly ribbons resting on your doorstep. It’s been delivered to you. Especially for you. And inside this beautiful gift awaits an assortment of treats; a holy provision in order that you might fully experience and enjoy the day ahead of you.

The gift of grace.

Delivered overnight by a Holy courier and left on the doorstep of our hearts.

The question is not whether the gift exists, Jesus is the gift. Jesus is grace. But, the question is rather “will we accept the gift He gives each day and will we open the surprise?”

I’m not talking about salvation here.

I’m talking about breathing in deeply and exhaling out slowly, while fully relying on the ability of Christ to help us complete our day. And the ability to extend grace to others and to ourselves when we make mistakes.

Grace causes us to relax and refocus. It gives us permission to be who we truly are and to enjoy complete freedom from perfectionism.

(sigh) What a relief for our lives!

How is grace defined?

According to Websters it is: unmerited divine assistance, ease of movement or bearing, mercy, charity, kindness, and tenderness.

Let’s glance at what the Word says:

“For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.” Ephesians 2:8-9

“But if it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works; otherwise grace would no longer be grace.” Romans 11:6

“But He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” 2 Corinthians 12:9

Grace is undeserved. We can’t earn it, because we’re never worthy of it, no matter how hard we try. And in this case, it’s a great thing to not measure up, because it cultivates a sweet dependency in our hearts towards our Lord Jesus Christ.

Yesterday while reading an article on “Codependent Behaviors” (any therapist out there knows this term very well), I was intrigued by the fact that many of us don’t know how to extend grace to ourselves. I am one of them.

Grace opposes performance. And I have found that God’s expectations are generally much lower than the ones I place on myself. I strive when I need to abide.

If Jesus (The Lord over all creation) freely extends grace to us, shouldn’t we also model His behavior by extending grace to ourselves? 

And what does grace look like in our lives?

This is what the Holy Spirit has been teaching me this week:

  • Each day acknowledging this gift of grace from Jesus, and then applying the contents in order to meet the demands and decisions I face throughout my day.
  • Giving myself permission to be weak, so He can be strong.
  • Forgiving myself and others when mistakes are made (critical in marriage, and any relationship involving other human beings).Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” Ephesians 4:32
  • Allowing people to be who they are, even if I disagree with them.There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” Galatians 3:28
  • Enjoying my day while allotting time just for me. Have FUN.The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” John 10:10
  • Laughing A LOT. Laughter is an amazing preventative measure to combat stress.A joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.” Proverbs 17:22
  • Focusing on the best qualities about myself and those around me. Jesus sees me as a new creation, He focuses on the positive, I must also do the same.Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” 2 Corinthians 5:17

His grace abounds. Will we accept the gift He gives each day?

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How Copper Coins Changed My Life

Last year over a span of several weeks, my husband and I were raising prayer and financial support for our mission trip to Austria. And then one morning just a month before we were to depart, I received a sweet text from a friend. She sheepishly informed me that she’d be giving us $25 towards our outstanding need of $3,000. Jokingly, she told me that she knew it wasn’t a lot of money.

This melted my heart, as I immediately thought about Mexico. And about this unforgettable passage that the Lord used one hot afternoon to teach me a valuable lesson about generosity.

“Jesus looked up and saw the rich putting their gifts into the offering box, and he saw a poor widow put in two small copper coins. And he said, ‘Truly, I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all of them. For they all contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on.'” Luke 21:1-4

I always felt that I understood why Jesus focuses on a widow (who is poor and has no one to depend on) depositing two mere copper coins (probably all she has) towards the treasury of the temple. This is an easy concept for me to grasp while sitting in a comfortable church pew in Atlanta.  But, when the thousands of dollars I needed to fund my last overseas missions trip weren’t coming in, I started believing that those two mites just weren’t going to cut it.

Let’s rewind.

It was November  of 2009 when God asked me to leave the United States. I had eight weeks to raise eight thousand dollars before moving to Perth, Western Australia and then Mexico City, Mexico. And never being in a position to trust God for radical provision, I freaked out. I didn’t know how to have faith, nor did I understand what true generosity meant.

For me, the more you gave, the more generous you were. It was all about the numbers in my mind. Little did I know, God would use an unexpected experience to shake me to the core.

As my departure date arrived, thousands upon thousands of dollars had been faithfully provided by our Lord through the bank accounts of His beloved. But, there was one individual. The widow with two mites of copper. This time she came in the form of a young, twenty-something woman with a wrinkled five-dollar bill. I’d be lying to you if I said I wasn’t perplexed or disappointed. I had a goal to meet, and this five dollar bill wasn’t even going to make a dent in my goal.

“Why hadn’t she given more, or just keep the five dollars if that’s all she had to spare? She obviously needs the money,” I thought to myself.

Rotten attitude, I know. I’m embarrassed to even write it, but this is the truth. I had a lot to learn.

So, let’s continue.

After I arrived in Mexico five months later, I encountered a very frail woman sitting on the street in a city square. Her small brown eyes looked as though they hadn’t slept for days. She was overcome with hopelessness, and red Mexican dirt filled the natural stress lines of her face. Looking down into her lap, I noticed an infant slowly peering up from the safety of his mother’s bosom (perhaps to acknowledge my unfamiliar voice). In my heart I knew her breast had little nourishment to offer this child.

And then I noticed yet another life.

An incoherent toddler rested on the pavement directly beside her in soiled clothing, his tiny bare feet caked with mud. They desperately needed food. My heart broke at the sight of their despair.  Shortly afterwards, my teammate and I cried as we strolled into a local McDonald’s (this is a luxury for many working Mexicans) and purchased two combo  meals for this family.

After we departed and started walking back home, God spoke to me.

“Remember that five dollars you received before you left to Australia?”

“It just fed that mother and her two children. Nothing is wasted, Christy. I am the God who multiplies the gift. Never again will you consider the amount someone gives you, no matter how large or how small. It all belongs to Me. It is I who decides who will give to you and the amount they purpose in their hearts. I am God Almighty who owns it all.”

This is the lesson I learned:

Generosity is not about the amount someone gives; it is about the heart of the giver. A generous spirit has no financial threshold. We must not put labels on what is considered a “generous” gift. If God purposes someone to give five dollars, then it is the greatest five dollars we will ever receive. Why? Because it’s ultimately coming from the hand of the Almighty. And He is always a giver of good and perfect things.

“And whoever gives one of these little ones even a cup of cold water because he is a disciple, truly, I say to you, he will by no means lose his reward.” Matthew 10:42

“Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.” James 1:17

Our society applauds the amount, but our God applauds the motive of the heart.

“But the LORD said to Samuel, ‘Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The LORD does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart’.” 1 Samuel 16:7

What resources (talents, time, skills, or finances) have you generously received from God that you can use to bless the lives of others to His glory? 

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The Power in Developing Boundaries with Family and Friends

Taken from the  book titled Boundaries, the authors Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend, state the following:

Having clear boundaries is essential to a healthy, balanced lifestyle. A boundary is a personal property line that marks those things for which we are responsible. In other words, boundaries define who we are and who we are not. Boundaries impact all areas of our lives.”

The process for setting boundaries is a piece of cake,  but it’s the implementation of these same boundaries that can become quite difficult. I’ve been down this road before, and just as anything in life – it becomes easier to do the more it’s practiced.

For several months, I inherently wished that boundaries weren’t even necessary in my relationships. “Couldn’t we all just get along without them?”, I thought to myself.

In my mind, boundaries appeared as a reactive response to a sinful world. For this reason, it was never a positive experience for me. However, over the years the Lord has shown me that in His goodness He wisely implemented boundaries as part of His creation, before sin ever entered the world (refer to yesterday’s post HERE).

Therefore, boundaries must be essential to life. So, it’s wise for us to evaluate the state of our relationships and those we allow to influence our lives.

Let’s take a glance at the following scriptures the Lord directed me to this morning concerning relational boundaries:

1. We have specific roles within relationships, we cannot be all things to all people. Depending on the context of the relationship, we adopt certain roles. For example: ‘You are a child of God, but you are not someone’s Holy Spirit.’ ‘You are a daughter of your mother, but you’re not your mother’s parent, you’re her daughter.’ These are distinct roles that can easily become distorted if appropriate boundaries are not put in place. And protected.

We are to be in relationship with other people, this is very healthy. However, we are only expected to love them through the heart of Christ within specified boundaries. We need God’s wisdom to show us how to implement either a healthy detachment (separation) from an individual, or to instruct our hearts on specific issues that need to be addressed in the relationship. If something about the person’s actions causes you to feel anxious, guilty, shameful, or depressed, then these are pretty strong indicators on where you can start in your conversation with the Lord. The Holy Spirit doesn’t adopt the role as the Savior of the world. That belongs to Jesus. We also need to evaluate our proper roles in the relationships we have while operating in His love.

For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one.” 1 John 5:7

“If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” Romans 12:18

2. Developing intimate relationships with non-believers. This is a sticky topic. I have unbelievers in my life that I absolutely adore. I’m sure we all do. You know Jesus is in the same situation? Not everyone believes in Him nor do they accept Him as their Savior, but He still loves them. And we should do the same. He died for us all. I personally hold a conviction to intentionally seek out relationships with unbelievers and lavish them with Christ’s love. But, I also have limits. The Word does provide caution for developing intimate relationships with non-believers in order to keep a clear conscious by avoiding worldly influence. To be yoked with another individual means to clamp to another, to be enslaved by them, or to tie and link together. And it is incredibly wise for us to evaluate how closely linked we are to those who do not live by the Word. Once again, we are to love, but to love wisely.

“Do not be deceived:’Bad company ruins good morals’.” 1 Corinthians 15:33

“Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness?” 2 Corinthians 6:14

“So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth.” Revelation 3:16

“For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Galatians 5:14

“Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” Romans 12:21

“Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you.” Matthew 7:1-2

3.  We cannot fix the problems of others. We must have the ability to say “no” to harmful things in our lives. This is a strong boundary that needs to be in place across the board. It is Jesus who carries the burdens of others, not us. That is why He is the Savior of the world. We also cannot rescue people from experiencing the consequences of their bad decisions. They are robbed from the opportunity to learn and grow, meanwhile our hearts grow hard and resentful. God never intended for us to play the role of a Savior in anyone’s life.

“For each will have to bear his own load.” Galatians 6:5

“A man of great wrath will pay the penalty, for if you deliver him, you will only have to do it again.” Proverbs 19:19

“Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed-not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence-continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.” Philippians 2:12-13

“Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” Galatians 6:7-8

4. We cannot allow others to manipulate us. What is manipulation? It is defined as the devious influence for one’s own advantage. I don’t like manipulation. It’s when people place a guilt trip on you for not doing what they want you to do. It’s that feeling of resentment and regret for spending hours of your day on something you never wanted to do in the first place. This isn’t the cheerful giving that Jesus was referring to, it’s far from it, beloved. It’s an unhealthy tactic coming from a boundaryless person looking to serve their own agenda. And the Lord is telling us to say ‘no’ in love.

“For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.” Galatians 5:1

“Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” 1 Corinthians 13: 4-7

“Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves.” Matthew 7:15

“Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” 2 Corinthians 9:7

May the Lord guide us in the boundaries we need to set with our family members, friends, and those we interact with day to day, in order that we might experience the greatest joys found in a healthy relationship. He is beyond able to instruct us on where these protective borders need to be. Trust in Him, beloved. He will equip you for the task. Stay tuned for tomorrow’s post on setting boundaries for the mind.

And thank you for choosing His Daily Dose!

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