July 30, 2010

Summer Sabbath Devotional- Week 4

Summer Sabbath Devotional~ Week 4
For those of you who heard the message last Sunday, you’ll remember that Mike told a story, a true story, of a man a century ago, who secured a rope across Niagara Falls. He would walk across the rope forwards and backwards, doing many creative and amazing things while balancing mid-rope, mid-falls. The crowds were amazed and began to believe there was nothing he couldn’t do on that tight rope. So he asked one day, if anyone believed he could cross the tightrope carrying someone on his back. The crowd cheered their belief in him. But when he asked for a single volunteer, his request was met with silence; no one was willing to put his or her life on the line for this crazy stunt. But one man did come forward. The volunteer turned out later to be his long time friend and manager. And this man TRULY believed in his friend’s ability to carry him safely across the falls. This is a good picture of God’s grace available to us. We have to whole-heartedly understand that by placing ourselves, without any effort or work or ability of our own to save ourselves, into His capable Hands, we meet His grace there, which is always waiting, always available to us to carry us safely and deliver us wholly into His Kingdom and love. And then, understanding what this amazing grace has done for us, we are filled deeply with heartfelt gratitude. We receive freely that for which Jesus Christ paid everything. We understand what it means to be filled with gratitude and praise for our God. I don’t know about you but this is more than I can wrap my mind around. So I pray often that I may be able to grasp more and more what His grace has meant and means in my life. I really believe if we were to grasp how amazing His free gift of grace is, (like hearing His voice), it would change everything.
Romans 5:1-2, 20-21 (The Message)

By entering through faith into what God has always wanted to do for us—set us right with him, make us fit for him—we have it all together with God because of our Master Jesus. And that's not all: We throw open our doors to God and discover at the same moment that he has already thrown open his door to us. We find ourselves standing where we always hoped we might stand—out in the wide open spaces of God's grace and glory, standing tall and shouting our praise.

But sin didn't, and doesn't, have a chance in competition with the aggressive forgiveness we call grace. When it's sin versus grace, grace wins hands down. All sin can do is threaten us with death, and that's the end of it. Grace, because God is putting everything together again through the Messiah, invites us into life—a life that goes on and on and on, world without end.

1. Do you feel you are able to understand or grasp what God’s grace means in your life?
2. How do you think you’d live differently or think differently if you could truly understand His grace in your life?
3. Read some more passages on grace this week and see how God speaks to your heart about His love and acceptance of you. (I’ve posted a few of my favorites on the following page)

Romans 12:3 (The Message)
I'm speaking to you out of deep gratitude for all that God has given me, and especially as I have responsibilities in relation to you. Living then, as every one of you does, in pure grace, it's important that you not misinterpret yourselves as people who are bringing this goodness to God. No, God brings it all to you. The only accurate way to understand ourselves is by what God is and by what he does for us, not by what we are and what we do for him.

1 Corinthians 15:10 (The Message)
But because God was so gracious, so very generous, here I am. And I'm not about to let his grace go to waste. Haven't I worked hard trying to do more than any of the others? Even then, my work didn't amount to all that much. It was God giving me the work to do, God giving me the energy to do it. So whether you heard it from me or from those others, it's all the same: We spoke God's truth and you entrusted your lives.

1 Corinthians 15:10 (Today's New International Version)
But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me was not without effect. No, I worked harder than all of them—yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me.

2 Corinthians 4:16 (The Message)
So we're not giving up. How could we! Even though on the outside it often looks like things are falling apart on us, on the inside, where God is making new life, not a day goes by without his unfolding grace. These hard times are small potatoes compared to the coming good times, the lavish celebration prepared for us. There's far more here than meets the eye. The things we see now are here today, gone tomorrow. But the things we can't see now will last forever.

2 Corinthians 12:9 (Today's New International Version)
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 about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me.

May God the Father and our Lord, Jesus Christ, give you grace and peace! And may you receive it fully.

July 24, 2010

Summer Sabbath Devotional- Week 3

Summer Sabbath Devotional~ Week 3
I had little Jewish boy in my Kindergarten class a few years ago. He was really a smart and very funny little guy. One day he said to me, "I'm a Hebrew boy." And I said, " I know." To which he responded, "Shalom." I laughed and said, "Shalom." And that was how he continued to greet me all year.
I have looked at the meaning of the word ‘shalom’. It is a good word. It is a nearly perfect wish to offer those you are greeting. The apostle Paul thought so; he almost always starts his letters with 'grace and peace (shalom) to you'. What is it about grace and peace (shalom) that Paul felt was so significant that he included it in nearly every greeting he wrote (see Romans, Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, Thessalonians, Timothy, Titus, Philemon, and 2 John)? Well, it means peace and who doesn’t want more peace in their life? But it means more than just peace, it means a deep and real peace, completeness and wholeness, to restore, to make good, to make amends. Pair it with grace, which is the FREE gift of being made right and accepted by God. Together, you have a pretty wonderful greeting. And one we all would want over the door of our homes and hearts.

Galatians 5:22-23 (NLT)

22-23 …the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!

1. In what areas of your life would you like more of the ‘shalom’ of God? (relationships? financial? anxiety and fear about the future? self acceptance?....)
2. In all the places where Paul wishes us ‘grace and peace’ he says, may GOD GIVE YOU grace and peace. How do you think you can RECEIVE this from God? ***
3. It is the grace and peace of the Holy Spirit that can manifest in us the character qualities listed in the verse above. Which of these qualities really stands out to you right now? Which one would you like to ask God for more of?
4. How would your life be different if you had the grace and peace of God more fully in charge of your heart and mind?

***Note: This is a trick question, because you should already be thinking ‘By abiding with God and spending time hearing His voice.’ of course.

May God the Father and our Lord, Jesus Christ, give you grace and peace! And may you receive it fully.

July 21, 2010

Summer Sabbath Devotional- Week 2

Summer Sabbath Devotional~ Week 2
Last week’s devotion began with remembering that our God is a God of promises. And this week we check in to see how your summer abiding is going. Are you doing things that restore your mind, body and spirit? Are you really and actually taking time just to rest? Are you listening for what God may be saying to you? Resting is admitting only God can save us. So this week remind yourself to be still. Be still and know. Be still and know only God is God. Be still and know only God can save us and give us all that we need.

Matthew 11:28-30 (NLT)

Jesus says:
"Are you tired? Worn out?
Burned out, [trying so hard to do the right thing]?
Come to me.
Get away with me and you'll recover your life.
I'll show you how to take a real rest.
Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it.
Learn the unforced rhythms of grace.
I won't lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you.
Keep company with me and you'll learn to live freely and lightly."

1. What things (activities, people, hobbies, places) really refresh and restore you?
2. Have you been able to make time to be still, quiet, listening to God this week?
3. Did you hear what God might have been speaking to your heart?
4. What do you think, in your life, the ‘real rest’ Jesus is speaking of would look like?

May we all get away with Jesus this week and learn from Him ‘the unforced rhythms of (His) grace’!
Grace, faith and peace to you!