Archive for the ‘grace’ Category

It seems to me that there is no coincidence that I was encouraged by two distinct messages yesterday.  That of a friend who wrote about blessings on her blog, which I shared on my daily blog today.  The other message of why we are blessed  was the subject of yesterday’s sermon at Grace Chapel which strengthened my heart and my conviction of purpose.

Each message, though different in content, clearly spoke to my heart about why we are blessed.  A message I so dearly needed, feeling a bit weary by trials this week.  The most amazing part is that as soon as I remembered why we are blessed my energy came back.  I believe that when we focus on our lack, we become weary and when we focus on our blessings it strenghtens us. 

We all need to be renewed in our strength, and sometimes a story, a sermon or a gentle touch is all that we need.  I thought it fitting to share what I heard yesterday.  I can hardly articulate in this short post, the magnificent sermon on Genesis Twelve, verse one through four, which I heard by Jeanette Yep, Pastor of Global and Regional Outreach at Grace Chapel in Lexington, Massachusetts.

So today I thought I would leave this link so that you may enjoy such a moving and amazing sermon on how we are Blessed to be a blessing.  It is my way of sharing the blessing that I have received.

Blessings, Karen 

Genesis 12

The Call of Abram

 1 The Lord had said to Abram, “Leave your native country, your relatives, and your father’s family, and go to the land that I will show you. 2 I will make you into a great nation. I will bless you and make you famous, and you will be a blessing to others. 3 I will bless those who bless you and curse those who treat you with contempt. All the families on earth will be blessed through you.” 4 So Abram departed as the Lord had instructed, and Lot went with him. Abram was seventy-five years old when he left Haran.



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My daughter Sarah, gave me a beautiful pen for Christmas called a poetry pen.  I love the feel of the pen in my hand and the style suits me perfectly.  The style is vintage and it made me think of lovely ladies from another time sitting in their drawing room clothed in brocade trimmed gowns, writing poetry to be illuminated in books for keepsakes.

On my bookshelf I found two treasures this morning.  A Treasury of The World’s Best Loved Poems and The Book of Psalms.  I love poetry and certainly the sonnets of love are music to our ears when a wonderful romantic love is alive.  Yet, during my lifetime I have learned that romance wanes and sometimes romantic love disappoints.  The Psalms however, are written to remind us that not only does God love us, but He is there always in the middle of adversity.  He is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow.  His promises found in the scriptures of the Word of God reminds us how faithful He is to us, how He surrounds us with His angels, and He is always there to restore us.

Psalm 46 1-5

“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.  Therefore I will not we fear, though the earth be removed and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea; though the waters thereof roar and be troubled though the mountains shake with the swelling thereof.  There is a river, the streams whereof shall make glad the city of God, the holy place of the tabernacles of the most High.  God is in the midst of her, she shall not be moved.  God shall help her and that right early.”

My favorite Psalm which has helped me through so many difficulties is Psalm 91 and I prefer The King James translation because of it’s poetic words:

Psalm 91:1-6

“He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most high shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.  I will say of the Lord, He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in Him will I trust.  Surely He shall deliver thee from the snare of the fowler and from the noisome pestilence.  He shall cover thee with his feathers, and under his wings shalt thou trust, his truth shall be thy shield and buckler.  Thou shalt not be afraid for the terror by night nor for the arrow that flieth by day, nor for the pestilence that walketh in darkness nor the destruction that wasteth at noonday.” 

That Psalm is my shield and I rely on those words whenever I need comfort and protection. 

My favorite verse from Psalm 91 is verse eleven:

“For he shall give his angels charge over thee to keep thee in all they ways.”

In the book The Timeless Treasure, a commentary on the Song of Solomon Luann Dunnuck leads us through the Song of Solomon and how God has written this beautiful poetry to us.  She says “When I begin to feel discouraged and frustrated, I open my Bible to the Song of Solomon for encouragement.”  Her commentary is fabulous and leads you through each verse and interprets for us the meaning behind the symbols.

“When I found the one I love, I held him and would not let him go” Chapter 3 verse 4

When we finally understand how much God loves us, it is easy to read how He will not let us go.  In verse 9  it is written “The Beloved you have ravished my heart, my sister, my spouse; you have ravished my heart with one look of your eyes, with one link of your necklace.”  When I read the book of Ruth for my Bible study I could see how the love Ruth finds is so much like our Lord and Savior.  Ruth found a wealthy man who became her provider, someone who cherished her and gave her his promise of forever love.  Our Lord has given us His promise to love us forever, and God has a storehouse of blessings that He wants to shower us with.  I love that we are His Beloved, you are His Beloved and there is no greater love than the love of God.

“I am my beloved’s, and my beloved is mine.” Chapter 6 verse 3

I love this verse because it reminds me that I am God’s beloved, and so are you.  When I finally understood this, I stopped relying on the approval of people because I have God’s approval and that is the most valuable love you kind find.  In Isaiah 55 there is an invitation to come sit with God and read His poetry found in His Word and to come to know that He is Lord and He longs to spend time with us and to give us His rich blessings. The milk is His Word and the honey is His sweet promise to us. We can come to God without earning His reward, but come as we are to His throne and sit with Him a while, as He pours out HIs blessings through His Word.

 “Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost.

In Isaiah 55 He promises us that when we speak His Word and we listen to God speak to us, it will accomplish great things:

“So is my word that goes out from my mouth:It will not return to me empty,but will accomplish what I desireand achieve the purpose for which I sent it .

You will go out in joy and be led forth in peace;the mountains and hillswill burst into song before you,and all the trees of the fieldwill clap their hands.”

The poetry of scripture is a beautiful Word from God written to let us know how much He loves us.  No matter what the translation of the Bible you read, the poetry of God’s Word, will comfort you and renew your spirit when trials leave you weary.  The poetry of scripture will uplift your heart better than any love sonnet can.  To read God’s promises as He asks us to be still and listen to  His Word, will renew your spirit so that you may receive the blessings God has for you.  The poetry of scripture teaches us, His purpose for our lives and it fills us with hope and with His love.  David sang praises to God, he knew the love that God has for anyone who listens and hears the Word of God will be blessed.

“Give ear and come to me; hear me, that your soul may live.  I will make an everlasting covenant with you, my faithful love promised to David.”

Isaiah 55:3

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“What grace it requires when we are misunderstood yet handle it correctly, or when we are judged unkindly yet receive it in holy sweetness! Nothing tests our character as a Christian more than having something evil said about us. This kind of grinding test is what exposes whether we are solid gold or siimply gold-plated metal. If we could only see the blessings that lie hidden in our trials, we would say like David, when Shimei cursed him, “Let him curse…it may be that the Lord will repay me with good for the cursing I am receiving today” 2 Samuel 16:11-12

This was taken from The Streams In The Desert devotional, a writing for today October 6th. In it A. B. Simpson writes “Some Christians are easily turned away from the greatness of their life’s calling by pursuing instead their own grievances and enemies. They ultimately turn their lives into one petty whirlwind of warfare. It reminds me of trying to deal with a hornet’s nest. You may be able to disperse the hornets, but you will probably be terribly stung and receive nothing for your pain, for even their honey has no value.”

I have experienced this in my own life, I have gotten angry when injustice arrived on my doorstep and took a very long time recovering from fret, anger and upset. Some years ago there was someone in my life who was so unfair, verbally abusive and frankly just an old fashioned bully. It felt like I was continuously fretting over something that she did or said. I was reacting to the sting of her words daily and every time I had to see her I would dread the meeting. Unfortunatley at the time she was in my life not by my choice, but I had to endure her haughty behavior. The sting of an incident became heightened everytime I would think about the injustice over and over again. Just like that hornet’s nest mentioned in today’s devotional, I was stung countless times by my own inability to let go. I was stung repeatedly by thinking about what had happened and allowing myself to be angry.

Never in a million years would I think that someday I would consider this encounter the greatest blessing of my life. She made me so angry, and I would spend hours and hours fretting over what she had said, how unfair life was and asking myself over and over why…”why Lord, I have been good to this woman and now how does she repay me? She repays me by saying untruths about me.” I sounded just like those whining people in the old testament always saying long speeches to the Lord and saying “Why.” Meanwhile, I truly believe that I suffered so much by being angry and trying to restle with the injustice in my mind and not being able to just let it go. I don’t think that this person ever thought a minute about what she had said or even cared. She was like this to everyone in her life and still is to this day.

“Consider Him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.”
Hebrews 12:3

One day the Lord showed me an image, He showed me a little girl sitting on a bench barefoot with tattered clothes and looking so sad. Then He gave me an image of myself wearing a party dress with lots of beautiful gifts at my feet. He said “love her”, it is only by God’s grace that you have the spiritual gifts and feel the love of God.” Suddenly I understood that when someone hurts me, lashes out, says mean and unkind things about me, as hard as it is, I must remember that if they were blessed they wouldn’t be doing this. Instead God asks that we pray for them, bless them and most of all trust that God will always fight our battles.

Much later and after much praying for months I began to witness that my relationships with others were improving. I had always taken things so personally when anyone behaved badly. Suddenly, I started seeing that their behavior had little or nothing to do with me, and I started detaching from the emotions and started focussing on letting go. I knew that if it had not been for that woman who had brought me so much pain that I would never have been healed from taking things so personally. The truth is that her exaggerated behavior gave me little or no choice but to restle with the profile of the behavior and not the person. I recovered from thinking that someone was deliberately trying to hurt me, and saw that people who are hurting are full of hurt. They need prayer, not condemnation and certainly not more anger directed at them.

It seems that everytime I have prayed for someone who has been hurtful a wonderful thing happens. While the Lord is dealing with that person, He allows me to understand the reasons behind their behavior, He gives me His sweet balm of compassion.

And be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.”Ephesians 4:32

I love that reminder, how in the world could I have forgotten what I used to be like before I accepted Jesus Christ as my Savior? After all, hadn’t I been bitter and angry and often irritable from the hurt of the world and hadn’t I been saved by the grace of God? I did nothing to deserve these spirtitual gifts, nor am I smart enough to understand the word of God without God’s grace. Jesus died for me and He died for that person that irritates us, is rude, difficult and irritable. The only difference is that they have not met the Savior, Jesus Christ yet. They are just like that child sitting on a bench barefoot with tattered clothes lacking in the very grace that they hunger for, which would provide all the wonderful gifts of the Holy Spirit.

“Just as the Lord has forgiven you, so must you also forgive.”
Colossians 3:13

One of the hindrances I have faced in my life has been my inability to discern bad behavior from a personal attack. This lack of wisdom has caused me great suffering and unnecessary pain. The woman who was dreadful, well she doesn’t seem dreadful to me today, she seems hurt and hungry for God. I pray for her because she has been the greatest blessing of my life. She freed me from taking hurt from a hurting person personally. I pray that she receive Jesus as her personal Savior and that she is comforted in her hurt the way I was comforted. Why did God allow someone so hurtful in my life, I know the why…so that I might be healed and so that my prayer might be heard and then she will be healed.

“If we could only see the blessings that lie hidden in our trials, we would say like David, when Shimei cursed him, “Let him curse…it may be that the Lord will repay me with good for the cursing I am receiving today”
2 Samuel 16:11-12

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“I prayed for this child, and the Lord has granted me what I asked of him.”
1Samuael 1:27

When I was just six months shy of my third birthday my mother learned that I had a disease called Kohler’s disease. This was the reason that when I would run to play my left foot would turn inward and I would fall to the ground. Sometimes this would happen even as I was walking. I had developed a limp and I had pain in my ankle. My mother took me to the doctor and they suggested that I wear special shoes that would prevent me from falling. Back in 1951 casting was recommended and the duration of the disease was unknown.

I remember going with my mother to look in the store windows in Jamaica in Queens New York and looking at the beautiful red shoes in the shoe store window. My mother said that I used to ask for the pretty shoes, but it broke her heart that she couldn’t give them to me. Instead I wore the typical shoes that a child would wear with a leg brace.

One day my mother decided to go to one of the best hospitals in New York. She took me into New York City to the New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia University Medical Center -The Harkness Pavilion, to see a specialist. She told me that after examining me and ex-raying my legs that the doctor showed her the ex-ray results and then took down a large medical book and showed my mother what the disease was and how to date they did not have a cure. They said that the recommendation was to put me in a full body cast because they were unsure what other bones would be affected by this rare bone disease. It had been a long way for my mother to travel and she said that she had taken my stroller with her through subway staircases and different trains. She took the long ride home feeling despair.

She said that the very next morning something unexplainable happened. She was led to go to a church located on Sutphin Boulevard in Jamaica Queens which was quite a distance away. There was a bus that stopped in front of our apartment and it took us to that church. Once inside, she told me to stand and to ask God to heal me. She said that as I stood there before the altar trusting her with all my faith I asked God to heal my leg. She said that she wept at hearing the innocence in the voice of a child. My voice was little but the power of the Lord is great. She took me back three days in a row. On the fourth day she began to notice that my leg was no longer turning inward. She never did take me back to the doctor again. I have had many pairs of red shoes over these fifty-five years. In fact, as a young woman I walked all over my sales territory in downtown New York to visit clients wearing very high heels. When I lived in New York City I had this very charming apartment but my closet opened up to the living room, so I wrapped my shoe boxes in wrapping paper to look pretty when I had to open the closet while company was there. Each box contained a pair of gorgeous shoes but I had forgotten who I should praise for this luxury.

I couldn’t help but notice the word Hark within the name of the Harkness Pavilion where my mother searched for answers. I looked up the definition of the word Hark and one of them was “a hunter’s shout to hounds, as to encourage them in following the scent, a Verb phrase” I believe that is the way we are led by the Lord through promptings and resources that arrive at just the right time, or perhaps a word from someone we know. God’s shout to us encourages us to be led to where there is an answer to our prayer, a resource that might fill our need.

I lived many years taking it all for granted until I gave my heart to the Lord at thirty-four years of age. It was when I found Jesus Christ that I began to appreciate how he had healed me and given me a mother who knew all about prayer. To this day I know that if I ask my mother to pray for me I am safe in the arms of the grace of prayer. Twenty five years I have been studying the Lord’s Word and now my prayer life is as full of faith as that little voice I had the day the Lord healed me of Kohler’s disease. If you look up the word Prayer it is listed as a noun and the definition says “a devout petition to God or an object of worship.” Prayer is more alive than what the definition would claim and to me it is an action verb.

“Pray to Me in a time of trouble, I will rescue you, and you will honor me” Psalm 1:20-3

I have studied prayer through books, and the Bible and have heard countless sermons on prayer. Nothing reminds me better than what Jesus said “You do not have, because you do not ask God.” James 4:2

We must ask, and as we begin this process and see prayers being answered our faith will become stronger and stronger. Prayer is an action, a verb not an adverb or a noun…a thing or a sweet sentiment found in a greeting card. Prayer is the very tool we can use here on earth to help us through our trials, grief, and circumstances.

If you are reading this today and you need prayer, you can leave me an anonymous comment, a prayer request. I promise you that I will pray for you. Leave your prayer request, because even if you don’t have faith today that your prayer will be answered, I do. I have that same child-like faith that I did the day I stood in that church in front of that altar believing that I would be healed.

“Ask, and you will receive. Search, and you will find. Knock and the door will be opened to you. Everyone who asks will receive. Everyone who searches will find. And the door will be opened for everyone who knocks.”
Matthew 7:7-8

The medical profession has conducted much research over the last fifty-five years, since I was diagnosed with Kohler’s Disease. Today they know so much more than they did then and the harsh treatment has been replaced with an encouraging diagnosis as found on the Mayo Clinic web site. They say that after a few months the symptoms go away. The Lord healed my foot back in a day when little was known about this disease and he removed my symptoms overnight. The Lord heals…

“Everything you ask for in payer will be yours, if you only have faith. And when you stand in prayer, forgive whatever you have against anybody so that your Father in heaven may forgive your failings too.”
Mark 11:24-25

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I sat down to write something for my daily blog and started writing a whiney kind of piece that made me feel anxious even as I wrote it. As I went to copy something, I stumbled upon this piece I had written a while back. As I read it my spirit quieted down and I knew that this was what the Lord wanted me to post instead:

There is a place deep within my soul where the gift of creation lives, dreams kissed by images too enchanting to leave behind. When I awake from a deep slumber, the images of the night greet me and lead me to the canvas or pen and ink, I find that when I let go of my surroundings and the characters in my play, I find His presence waiting for me like an old best friend.

Spending time with Gods’ voice, I can retreat into the deepest part of my spirit. When I wander deeper still the muse of my heart gives birth to beautiful images, He is there and He always leads me to the window of my soul. That window is the entrance to heaven, where all beauty is born.

To be an artist is a gift, an ambassador to recording the images of Gods’ creation. When I am surrounded by the stillness and surrender to His will, I can capture the beauty I see, and create its’ memory. I wish I knew the path to Gods’ grace, so I could find my way whenever I pleased, so that I could create in the presence of His glory at my will. But being inspired is a gift painted by Gods’ Grace and given to us only when it is His will.

Deep within my suffering at times, He paints His beauty within my soul. as if He reminds me, you’re almost there, remember heaven awaits, your hope lies in your salvation. He whispers “I am with you always in your pain, using it to paint your life’s canvas and to write the poetry of your life.” I see myself sitting high on a mountain top, as Jesus stands by my side. I am seated at an easel as He points to something beautiful and instructs me to look beyond my circumstances and paint what I see.

Whether I paint what I see or place words on a page to recapture the beauty of the moment, He is with me, showing me the way, dancing with me as I try to find meaning in this life. There is a place deep within my soul where the gift of creation lives…but only my Savior can lead the way.

When I was finished copying the writing into my post, I looked for the perfect photographs to compliment the writing. I realized I had just photographed the lake earlier in the morning, and I had posted the perfect photo yesterday on flickr. The photo was of a window graphic which opened up revealing this magnificent view of Martha’s Vineyard.

Then I then found scripture that spoke to my heart:

“Yes, God will give you much so that you can give away much, and when we take your gifts to those who need them, they will break out into thanksgiving and praise to God for your help.” Corinthians 9:11

I was pleased with the post and knew that I had been able to create it so quickly and effortlessly that God must have someone in mind to speak to with this writing. I found a perfect piece of music to compliment the post by Josh Groban called The Prayer. Satisfied that my daily blog was written I decided to spend some time reading my own devotionals. I opened up one of my favorite devotionals called Choosing Life, One Day at a Time written by the lovely Dodie Osteen. I opened up to this page:

Love The Prisoner
“…I was sick and in prison, and you visited me.” Matthew 25:35-36

“It has always touched me deeply to receive letters from those who are in prison. One particular letter said, “We watch you on Sundays and any other time we can. It has made such a difference in my life. I thank God for leaders like you who take time for people who are locked away. It makes me feel special and wanted when your program comes on the air. You tell us that you know us, and welcome those of us who are watching from prison.”

We love to minister to those who are in prison. We are glad that our program can go inside even prison walls to take the message of love to these precious friends of Jesus. How thrilling it is when prisoners who have watched our program are released and visit us at Lakewood Church, an Oasis of Love.

What a disappointment it would be to keep the truth of Jesus’ love to ourselves and not be willing to share Him with everyone we possibly could. Share Jesus with someone today. Many people you will meet today are in one sort of “prison” or another. They may only have the opportunity to meet Jesus through you. Don’t let that WINDOW of opportunity pass you by.

“Father help me share Jesus with someone today. Everybody needs You, God, but sometimes they don’t know it. Help me to love others with Your love and be Your hands extended.

The phrase “window of opportunity” jumped off the page. The photo I had chosen for this piece is of a window. I knew then that somewhere out there on the Internet was someone who needed this message today. I then wrote this devotional and posted it here. You need to know how much God loves you and that He had me write this today especially for you. That’s just the way He is, it is said that if God only thought that one person needed salvation, Jesus would still have gone to the cross. The greatest love I have ever known is the Love of Jesus Christ. I hope He fills your soul with the peace that passes all understanding and that something written here touches your heart. You are so loved, and God’s grace is sufficient.

I usually have the song, One Day At A Time playing on this post, the song link is on the sidebar. I felt that I should play something different today, and when I found this song I knew that it was perfect…just like the words, If You Were The Only One.

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“Now give me wisdom and knowledge so that I can lead these people in the right way, because no one can rule them without your help” God said onto Solomon, “You have not asked for wealth or riches or home, or for the death of your enemies, or for a long life. But since you have asked for wisdom and knowledge to lead my people, over whom I have made you King, I will give you wisdom and knowledge. I will also give you more wealth, riches and honor than any king who has lived before you or any who will live after you”. Then Solomon left the place of worship, the meeting tent, at Gibeon and went back to Jerusalem” 2 Chronicles 1:10

One of my loved ones suffers with depression. It hurts my heart to see him hurt, yet after so many years I know that I am helpless in this situation. I pray and surrender him, and I ask the Lord to comfort him. Some days I get so angry that he lashes out in his frustration and is like being with a dark cloud, who steals all the joy out of an otherwise happy day. Other days I just feel weary of the same darkness returning unexpectedly. I understand there are many people who suffer with depression and it is not something that they willfully intend. Somewhere deep within the mind is a key to escape the maze that seems to spiral into opressive sadness and anger. That key eludes those who suffer with depression. There are triggers that provoke the depression, but it is clearly a physical condition. Some days I can cope, but that is not enough for me. I want to still be joyful and to appreciate and be thankful for all the Lord’s blessings in my life. I once told a dear friend, who has a husband who suffers with depression. Is it possible that the Lord created some of us to have the ability to see the beauty around us? To house that beauty and joy to share with those who are blind in spirit because of the disability of depression? Instead of the condemnation we sometimes feel for those less fortunate, perhaps our gifts are there for the sole purpose of uplifting others. Afterall, the beautiful mind that eludes the darkside only holds in their hand the key to escape, by the Lord’s Grace.

My Prayer For Today

I need to trust the Lord and not feel worried today. I need to be more thankful and not let the spirit of sadness steal blessings which are mine. I read the verses Jesus, but the meaning of the words are falling apart within my troubled mind. I want to be a better servant. I watch and listen to your disciples and how through their faithfulness they are model steward’s of your word. I want to be that Lord…to walk through my day fully equipped to respond in total obedience. I want to complete the work that you have called me to do. I need to fulfill your purpose for my life. I want to be seen as a joyful example of your promise.

Help me Lord to feel worthy of your Grace,
As I plan to meet with you Lord,
I will leave my troubles at the door of your altar.

I ask that you fill me with forgiveness and remove my anger
remove my judging spirit and cover me with your Peace,
I will leave my strife at the door of your altar.

I ask you to strengthen my weary steps,
Please fill my heart with Joy,
I will leave my burdens at the door of your altar.

I ask you to remind me of all the sweetness of life,
to be rekindled with passion for creating again,
I will leave my hardness of heart at the door of your altar.

I ask you to whisper again your sweet promises into my soul,
Teach me a new revelation today, Lord,
I will leave all my unbelief at the door of your altar.

You know me Lord and you know that I need to be renewed in Spirit,
I need your gentle presence to surround me today,
And when it is time to leave you again,
I will take your sweet embrace with me,
as I leave the door of your altar.

It wasn’t long after I wrote this that I was led to a book called Loving Someone with Bipolar Disorder written by Julia Fast and John D. Preston. The book outlines triggers, strategies and an action plan to coping and understanding the loved one who suffers with Bipolar Disorder. I feel like this was the gift of answered prayer. This book is full of the wisdom I was so desperately seeking.

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