Often when we are asking for help when experiencing a challenge, whether it is physical, financial or problems with relationships, there is doubt of deserving God’s help. This was what I was thinking when I was reading about Peter cutting off the ear of the soldier who was arresting Jesus. He didn’t hesitate in reprimanding Peter and immediately healed the man’s ear. Surely, humanly this soldier didn’t merit this act of forgiveness.
From there, I begin to think of the world’s concept of riches is grasping and hoarding while God’s way includes letting go and giving. Humanly, none of us are probably worthy of God’s goodness, but it is given us by grace. 1 Peter 1:8 reads “Though you have not seen Him, you love Him; and even though you do not see Him now, you believe in Him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy.” This is all possible by the grace of God.
As I ponder this story of Jesus talking with the Samaritan woman at the well, there are so many things that made it an unusual occurrence. Firstly, for a Jewish man to talk to a woman, much less a Samaritan woman was rare. Her reputation couldn’t have been pristine if she had five previous husbands and was not married to the man she was currently living with at the time. When His disciples returned and found Him, they, too, were surprised. The one thing that Jesus was positive about, was her receptivity; therefore, her recognition of the Christ as He told her about herself. In her humility , she expressed gratitude for this conversation.
1 Samuel 16:7 states “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 man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the lord looks at the heart.'” Jesus was certainly looking at the Samaritan woman’s heart that day and it remains that way. Today, I will actively work about keeping my heart free from worry, anxiety, jealousy, envy, bitterness and pray that it be filled with grace, love and kindness. That is what God will see.
This morning as I study and pray, the thought came to me that my Church family may know me better than my own family. There are times when I feel less judged by my Church family and I feel my siblings may still view me in the past. Then, I asked myself, “Is this my thinking?” Philippians 3:13-14 states “Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”
Recently, I had the opportunity to spend time with family individually as they were here during a recent challenge I experienced. The only thing that was expressed was Love, no pretense nor judgment at all. As I think back my heart is filled with gratitude and humility for that time with each of them. My daily prayer is for more grace and the ability to drop off any concern on what anyone else thinks. It really is none of my business. Spiritual growth is all that really is going on.
This morning as I was glancing through the news on the computer, I came across a photo of an elderly actor and his daughter-in-law on stage as he was being honored. What struck me in the face was her inappropriate dress, especially when all the abuse messages are posted everywhere. Proudly, I judged this was sending mixed messages to men. After spending a few minutes further on this, I was led to call a very good friend for her thoughts and she had thought the same as I.
Still dissatisfied we both knew there was something that had barbed our thoughts that needed praying about. Then I remembered in my younger day, there were many times I had worn skimpy bikinis and other revealing clothing. It was apparent that I needed to forgive myself for earlier misjudgments and know that was never, ever a part of my pure self, just as issues are coming to the forefront to be addressed and healed. God’s man is pure and perfect in Spirit and we are continuing to receive His grace.
Hebrews 4:16 reads, “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” There is never a “too early” nor a “too late” time to feel God’s Love.
This month our ladies’ book discussion group is reading and discussing “What’s So Amazing About Grace?” written by Philip Yancey.
The last paragraph of Chapter 3 speaks to me. “Grace comes free of charge to people who do not deserve it and I am one of those people. I think back to who I was —resentful, wound tight with anger, a single hardened link in a long chain of ungrace learned from family and church. Now I am trying in my own way to pipe the tune of grace. I do so because I know, more surely than I know anything, that any pang of healing or forgiveness or goodness I have ever felt comes solely from the grace of God. I yearn for the church to become a nourishing culture of that grace.”
That certainly does not say anything about earning or deserving grace or saying the right prayer or even doing anything to lose that Grace. 2 Corinthians 4:15 reads “For all things are for your sakes, so that the grace that is spreading to more and more people may cause the giving of thanks to abound to the glory of God.” Today I will make the effort to see and feel that grace.
As I sit at my desk this morning and look out over the back, there is such a fog that one can barely see the outline of the trees in the distance, much less the hills beyond them. Now this certainly isn’t the first fog I have seen here but it is always arresting since I never, ever have doubts on what is out there. It brings to mind that I should never doubt God just because my human view may be limited. Zephaniah 3:17 states, “The Lord your God is with you, He is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing.” That verse may not tell me how He will do that, but I will trust it to be so just as I know the hills and the trees are right outside my view for the moment, but soon will be revealed.
My heart is filled with gratitude to learn of His grace for me, which is certainly not earned but freely given.
As this season of gift-giving begins, my prayer is to only give gifts from the heart. So often, this is the time filled with stress and anxiety if we are not careful. This year I choose to understand more about the Love God has for me and all His children and this is the real gift worth giving. In 1 Peter 1:22 it reads, “Since you have in obedience to the truth purified your souls for a sincere love of the brethren, fervently love one another from the heart.” This also includes ones who may not appear to love me in return. I choose growth in grace.