Grace Rules

 


Child psychologists tell us that children not only need, but want rules. “They require set limits to ensure them of the security and sense of control needed for proper development.”

Adolescents balk at rules. They seem to go all out to prove the old saying that, “Rules are meant to be broken.” They, too, are desperately groping for a boundary of comfort and safety, however.

Adults are generally regarded as “rule setters.” We use our wisdom and life experience to make those rules we feel are important for our children’s well-being.

I don’t know about you, but when I am exhausted by life’s demands or find myself out of resources to deal with a difficult situation, I long for a set of rules for the game of life. I would enjoy giving up the gut-wrenching decisions and judgment calls of life, for a set of rules that would free me of the awesome responsibility of the moment.

If you have ever wanted someone to tell you what to do and relieve you of your burden of responsibility – GREAT NEWS! Romans 12:9-21 gives us ten rules for a successful life:

  • Love sincerely.
  • Hate evil.
  • Honor others.
  • Have joy, hope, and patience.
  • Pray.
  • Share.
  • Be good to your enemies.
  • Get along.
  • Don’t be conceited.
  • Don’t get back.

Paul wrote these words to a group of beleaguered and persecuted Christians in the huge pagan city of Rome almost 2,000 years ago. The payoff for following the rules for those first century Christians is exactly the same for us today and is found in verse 21. “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” Be assured of this promise – good overcomes evil – always!

—-Monica Boudreaux


 


PRAYER

Lord – Help me to always seek to overcome evil with good in my life. Help me rely on your rules for mercy and grace to make all my decisions.

Amen

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Bloom Where You Are Planted

 

bloom wher you are planted

Am I a weed or a flower?

The above picture is from an article about natural substances that act as weed killers. This little flower won’t acknowledge that he is a weed. He just wants to thrive and bloom. We find ourselves in that very same situation from time to time. The world seems to have dealt us a hand that limits our space, crushes our self-image and tells us we are not worth much. Our choice is simple. Do we accept worthlessness or do we press on to bloom?Our decision is simple, we must be a flower and not a weed regardless of our situation. Paul said to them in his letter to Corinth – In whatever condition you were called, brothers and sisters, there remain with God. 

That‘s the answer! Remain with God.  Never forget that it is God that has designed the wildflower to grow through the sidewalk cracks. He has designed us to grow through the cracks as well as the fertile ground. I like to look at this little flower as a motivator. Tony Robbins, a well-known motivation speaker, charges $230 for CD seminars, and it costs well over $1000 to attend one of his live seminars. The little flower in the crack is God’s free gift to us, and it tells us to bloom where we are planted. Let us learn from the flower in the crack.

  • Develop an attitude that allows you to let go.

That little guy in the crack was designed to bloom and bloom he did. I believe – I know that we were created in God’s image. Our creator gives us the ability to thrive wherever we are placed. Even in the worst of times, we are given the innate ability to be the person God created. We can reach that high plain by letting go of all the fears that the world thrusts our way.  The “letting go” attitude gives each of us the permission to thrive in any circumstance.

  • Remember, change is not your enemy.

Many people would rather fail than change. Such stubborn behavior robs us of the 497127816joy that could come our way. No matter how much we hold on, sometimes we must change. In the midst of the turmoil of change is the opportunity to bloom where we have been planted even when the choice was not ours. Change is a part of life, and we would profit by remembering that simple fact.

  • Value the place that is given to you.

I once knew a man who would give the same greeting every time I saw him. When asked “How are you?” his consistent answer was, “ Living in the hope of a better day.” I was a very young pastor and I always wondered what was wrong with today? Benedict of Nursia, the founder of western monasticism said that stability was the key to living the monastic or Christian life. Learning to live in the stability of relationship involves the skill of rubbing off our own sharp edges. We cannot run away from ourselves or those that know us the best. I have been married for over forty years, and I know what I do wrong and so does my wife. We are challenged to bloom where we are planted because other paths are, all too often, very disappointing.


Prayer

Lord, help me to see myself well enough to acknowledge my weaknesses. Because of that, I can depend upon your strength to carry me through in spite of all adversity that may surround me. You give each of us the ability to make our own fertile ground.

Amen

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The God that Loves Us

During this time our Lord showed me a spiritual sight of His simple, homely loving. I saw that He is to us everything that is good and comforting to us. He is our clothing, which wraps and embraces us in love. He completely enfolds us in tender love so that He might never leave us, being to us everything that is good, as I see it.

—-Julian of Norwich

Julian newThe world that surrounds us is full of strife and anger. Loving relationships seem to very hard to develop and maintain. People are turning to drugs, legal and illegal, to make life work. If we can’t find love and security, we’ll just check into a fantasy. Julian did not live in a setting that was much more accommodating than ours. She had problems and insecurities that plagued her, and yet she found love and she found it in solitude. Her entire life was dedicated to finding divine love.

What do we discover when find divine love and how does it change our perspective?

Julian asserts that God has a homely love. The love of God is simple and unassuming, unlike the love of other people that can be so complicated. So many of us perpetuate our false selves, not only to the world but to ourselves as well. We try to avoid being simple because simplicity invites vulnerability and vulnerability leaves us open to hurt. God, however, give us the example of a love that disregards these dangers and it is a grand thing.

Shaker  Elder Joseph gives us a word in his “Simple Gifts.”

simple gifts

Some four hundred years later this follower of Jesus is seeing God in the same way that Julian did from her cell. Perhaps we can also look for this simple God in our hectic world.

God’s love is all that is good and comfortable to us. Untold amounts of money are spent every day by people that are seeking comfort. We long to hear a comforting word or see a comforting movie. The longing for comfort is an essential part of how we are designed, and yet it remains so elusive to us. Julian sees it as a simple act of God that is only waiting to be recognized. When many of us think of comfort, we think if comfort food or comfort waist bands in our clothing. That comfort implies excess ,but the only excesses that God holds are in his ability to give of himself to us. For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.(John 3:16) What kind of comforting love is that?

The God that loves us never abandons us. We may lose touch with Him but he is always there. I know that is hard for many to process. All of us have had those times when we think God has forsaken us. Those times are frustrating and fuel anger and resentment. It helps to envision God as our clothing.  We never even think about what we are wearing, but we would quickly notice if we lost our coat on a cold day. In the same way God clothes us in our most difficult times.


Prayer

Lord, may we never forget the homely love which is simple and comforting . We try to complicate love but you make it simple. Your simple love is  reliable as the clothes on our backs and as available as the sun that rises every morning. Let us recognize this love.

Amen

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Lent Day 40

March 31

Holy Saturday

Everlasting Love

Isaiah 54:5-14

For your Maker is your husband,
the Lord of hosts is his name;
the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer,
the God of the whole earth he is called.
For the Lord has called you
like a wife forsaken and grieved in spirit,
like the wife of a man’s youth when she is cast off,
says your God.
For a brief moment I abandoned you,
but with great compassion I will gather you.
In overflowing wrath for a moment
I hid my face from you,
but with everlasting love I will have compassion on you,
says the Lord, your Redeemer.

This is like the days of Noah to me:
Just as I swore that the waters of Noah
would never again go over the earth,
so I have sworn that I will not be angry with you
and will not rebuke you.
For the mountains may depart
and the hills be removed,
but my steadfast love shall not depart from you,
and my covenant of peace shall not be removed,
says the Lord, who has compassion on you.

O afflicted one, storm-tossed, and not comforted,
I am about to set your stones in antimony,
and lay your foundations with sapphires.
I will make your pinnacles of rubies,
your gates of jewels,
and all your wall of precious stones.
All your children shall be taught by the Lord,
and great shall be the prosperity of your children.
In righteousness you shall be established;
you shall be far from oppression, for you shall not fear;
and from terror, for it shall not come near you.


Prayer Thought

Lord, give me the faith and confidence to believe you can and will set things right.


“Forgiveness is not always easy. At times, it feels more painful than the wound we suffered, to forgive the one that inflicted it. And yet, there is no peace without forgiveness.”

English: Unity Church in Unity Village, Missouri

English: Unity Church in Unity Village, Missouri (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

—- Marianne Williamson

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Good Friday

March 30

Everlasting Love

Isaiah 52:13—53:12

See, my servant shall prosper;
he shall be exalted and lifted up,
and shall be very high.
Just as there were many who were astonished at him
—so marred was his appearance, beyond human semblance,
and his form beyond that of mortals—
so he shall startle many nations;
kings shall shut their mouths because of him;
for that which had not been told them they shall see,
and that which they had not heard they shall contemplate.

Who has believed what we have heard?
And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?
For he grew up before him like a young plant,
and like a root out of dry ground;
he had no form or majesty that we should look at him,
nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.
He was despised and rejected by others;
a man of suffering and acquainted with infirmity;
and as one from whom others hide their faces
he was despised, and we held him of no account.

Surely he has borne our infirmities
and carried our diseases;
yet we accounted him stricken,
struck down by God, and afflicted.
But he was wounded for our transgressions,
crushed for our iniquities;
upon him was the punishment that made us whole,
and by his bruises we are healed.
All we like sheep have gone astray;
we have all turned to our own way,
and the Lord has laid on him
the iniquity of us all.

He was oppressed, and he was afflicted,
yet he did not open his mouth;
like a lamb that is led to the slaughter,
and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent,
so he did not open his mouth.
By a perversion of justice he was taken away.
Who could have imagined his future?
For he was cut off from the land of the living,
stricken for the transgression of my people.
They made his grave with the wicked
and his tomb with the rich,
although he had done no violence,
and there was no deceit in his mouth.

Yet it was the will of the Lord to crush him with pain.
When you make his life an offering for sin,
he shall see his offspring, and shall prolong his days;
through him the will of the Lord shall prosper.
Out of his anguish he shall see light;
he shall find satisfaction through his knowledge.
The righteous one, my servant, shall make many righteous,
and he shall bear their iniquities.
Therefore I will allot him a portion with the great,
and he shall divide the spoil with the strong;
because he poured out himself to death,
and was numbered with the transgressors;
yet he bore the sin of many,
and made intercession for the transgressors.


Prayer Thought

Lord, you have given all to me. I have nothing to offer but thanks and obedience.


“I am convinced that when we bring our griefs and sorrows within the story of God’s own grief and sorrow, and allow them to be held there, God is able to bring healing to us and new possibilities to our lives. That is, of course, what Good Friday and Easter are all about”

— N. T. Wright

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Day 38 – Holy Thursday


 

March 29

Remember Me

1 Corinthians 11:23-26

For I received from the Lord what I also handed on to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took a loaf of bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, ‘This is my body that is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.’ In the same way he took the cup also, after supper, saying, ‘This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.’ For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.


Prayer Thought

Lord forgive me!


“Therefore once for all this short command is given to you. ‘Love and do what you will.’ If you keep silent, keep

c. 1480

c. 1480 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

silent by love; if you speak, speak by love; if you correct, correct by love; if you pardon, pardon by love: let love be rooted in you, and from the root nothing but good can grow.”

—Augustine of Hippo

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Lent Day 37

March 28

I Will Be Betrayed

Matthew 26:14-25

Then one of the twelve, who was called Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests and said, ‘What will you give me if I betray him to you?’ They paid him thirty pieces of silver. And from that moment he began to look for an opportunity to betray him.

On the first day of Unleavened Bread the disciples came to Jesus, saying, ‘Where do you want us to make the preparations for you to eat the Passover?’ He said, ‘Go into the city to a certain man, and say to him, “The Teacher says, My time is near; I will keep the Passover at your house with my disciples.” ’ So the disciples did as Jesus had directed them, and they prepared the Passover meal.

When it was evening, he took his place with the twelve; and while they were eating, he said, ‘Truly I tell you, one of you will betray me.’ And they became greatly distressed and began to say to him one after another, ‘Surely not I, Lord?’ He answered, ‘The one who has dipped his hand into the bowl with me will betray me. The Son of Man goes as it is written of him, but woe to that one by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been better for that one not to have been born.’ Judas, who betrayed him, said, ‘Surely not I, Rabbi?’ He replied, ‘You have said so.’


Prayer Thought

Lord, keep us on the right track. Help us to ward off temptations that sometimes seem so great.


Martin Luther King, Jr. showing his medallion ...

Martin Luther King, Jr. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.”

— Martin Luther King, Jr.

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Lent Day 36

 

 

March 27

 

Light for the Nations

 

Isaiah 49:1-6

 

Listen to me, O coastlands,
pay attention, you peoples from far away!
The Lord called me before I was born,
while I was in my mother’s womb he named me.
He made my mouth like a sharp sword,
in the shadow of his hand he hid me;
he made me a polished arrow,
in his quiver he hid me away.
And he said to me, ‘You are my servant,
Israel, in whom I will be glorified.’
But I said, ‘I have labored in vain,
I have spent my strength for nothing and vanity;
yet surely my cause is with the Lord,
and my reward with my God.’

 

And now the Lord says,
who formed me in the womb to be his servant,
to bring Jacob back to him,
and that Israel might be gathered to him,
for I am honoured in the sight of the Lord,
and my God has become my strength—
he says,
‘It is too light a thing that you should be my servant
to raise up the tribes of Jacob
and to restore the survivors of Israel;
I will give you as a light to the nations,
that my salvation may reach to the end of the earth.’

 


 

Prayer Thought

 

Lord, make us aware of the work that you have designed us to do. Allow us to discover the gift that was built into each one of us.

 


 

“I have never known more thanfifteen minutes of anxiety or fear. Whenever I feel fearful emotions overtaking me, Ijust close my eyes and thank God that He is still on the throne reigning over everything and I take comfort in His control over the affairs of my life.”

 

——-John Wesley

 

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Lent Day 35

March 26

The Lord Is My Light

Psalm 27

Of David.
The Lord is my light and my salvation;
whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the stronghold of my life;
of whom shall I be afraid?

When evildoers assail me
to devour my flesh—
my adversaries and foes—
they shall stumble and fall.

Though an army encamp against me,
my heart shall not fear;
though war rise up against me,
yet I will be confident.

I believe that I shall see the goodness of the Lord
in the land of the living.
Wait for the Lord;
be strong, and let your heart take courage;
wait for the Lord!


Prayer Thought

Lord, drive fear from my heart so that I may be as serene as you.


 

“And once we have the condition of peace and joy in us, we can afford to be in any situation. Even in the situation of hell, we will Thich Nhat Hanhbe able to contribute our peace and serenity. The most important thing is for each of us to have some freedom in our heart, some stability in our heart, some peace in our heart. Only then will we be able to relieve the suffering around us.”

— Nhat Hanh

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Palm Sunday

March 25

Sing Hosanna

Mark 11:1-11

When they were approaching Jerusalem, at Bethphage and Bethany, near the Mount of Olives, he sent two of his disciples and said to them, ‘Go into the village ahead of you, and immediately as you enter it, you will find tied there a colt that has never been ridden; untie it and bring it. If anyone says to you, “Why are you doing this?” just say this, “The Lord needs it and will send it back here immediately.” ’ They went away and found a colt tied near a door, outside in the street. As they were untying it, some of the bystanders said to them, ‘What are you doing, untying the colt?’ They told them what Jesus had said; and they allowed them to take it. Then they brought the colt to Jesus and threw their cloaks on it; and he sat on it. Many people spread their cloaks on the road, and others spread leafy branches that they had cut in the fields. Then those who went ahead and those who followed were shouting,
‘Hosanna!
Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord!
Blessed is the coming kingdom of our ancestor David!
Hosanna in the highest heaven!’

Then he entered Jerusalem and went into the temple; and when he had looked around at everything, as it was already late, he went out to Bethany with the twelve.


Prayer Thought

Lord, help me to remember that you are a God of triumph on Friday.


“Augustine started from God’s grace and got it right, Pelagius started from human effort and got it wrong. Augustine passionately pursued God; Pelagius methodically worked to please God.” ~ Philip Yancey

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