Glimpses of grace seen in the everyday

Before and After

Many years ago, a certain cosmetic company displayed before-and-after pictures that looked pretty impressive.  On a whim, curious to see how beautiful they could make me look, I presented myself for one of these free makeovers one day while my husband and I were in a mall.

He still has vivid memories of what I looked when I emerged from that place, expressed with phrases like “wicked woman.” “ghastly,” “gave me the creeps.” I didn’t look like his wife! After looking in the mirror, I agreed–it did look horrible.  Making a beeline to the nearest restroom, I washed it all off! 

We find in the Bible several people whom their friends scarcely recognized after Jesus had done his work on them—but, unlike my “makeover,” the results of these encounters were wonderful transformations.

A man born blind, normally seen begging in the streets, suddenly shows up with normal sight.  The neighbors debate about whether this is the same man they knew or a different one.  He excitedly tells them he’s the same man, healed by a man called Jesus.

A man lame from birth, normally found begging at the Temple gate, suddenly shows up inside the temple jumping around and praising God, to the total astonishment of the whole crowd of worshipers.  He had been healed by Peter and John in the power of Jesus.

Saul, who had been terrorizing Christ-followers with imprisonment and murder, suddenly shows up in a Damascus synagogue preaching that “Jesus is the Son of God!”  Astounded worshipers gasped, “Isn’t this the same man who caused such devastation among Jesus’ followers?” But Saul had met Jesus and had been totally turned around.

A dinner guest the other day had the rest of us spellbound as she described the changed lives of the most unlikely people who had come into possession of the Bible in their own language and had been reading it insatiably.  From despair to hope, from a deviant to normal, from fearful to fulfilled, through bereavement, shark attack, and other tragedies, they have been transformed by the power of God.

When I look in the mirror, I see signs of aging.  But my main concern is that my spirit is becoming more and more like Christ as the Holy Spirit is changing me.  (2 Cor. 3:18) 

Are you ready for a makeover from the inside out?  If the Holy Spirit is the one doing beautifying you, you won’t want to wash it off!

Here’s the link for “When Jesus Comes”—a beautiful song about what happens when Jesus comes into a life.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k8-ixOyO0TM

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Chosen

Some of my painful childhood memories are when the class would choose sides for a ball game.  I would be chosen last—and rightfully so since I had no ability for that sort of thing, nor (to be honest) any interest in it.  Still, it gets to you after a while.

Ironically, the one time I was appointed as a team captain, I got to choose the most athletic people I could for my side—only to discover that this was not going to be an athletic contest but a contest to see who could eat the most healthy breakfasts for a week!  (We lost Sad smile.)

Being chosen to be on someone’s team, or to be someone’s spouse or friend, gives us a feeling of worth, of being loved and valued.  And the higher the status of the one doing the choosing, perhaps the higher is the privilege of the one chosen. 

That’s why I revel in the realization that I have been chosen by the Creator, King of the Universe, the one-and-only God to be His beloved child.  Not just a group thing where he bid for the whole lot and got me thrown in.  But before I was born, He planned my life, determined who I would be, and chose me to belong to Him forever!  (Psalm 139)

Loved with everlasting love, led by grace that love to know;
Spirit breathing from above, thou hast taught me it is so!
O this full and perfect peace! O this transport all divine!
In a love which cannot cease, I am His, and He is mine.

Heav’n above is softer blue, earth around is sweeter green!
Something lives in every hue Christless eyes have never seen;
Birds with gladder songs o’erflow, flowers with deeper beauties shine,
Since I know, as now I know, I am His, and He is mine.

Things that once were wild alarms cannot now disturb my rest;
Closed in everlasting arms, pillowed on the loving breast.
O to lie forever here, doubt and care and self resign,
While He whispers in my ear, I am His, and He is mine.

His forever, only His; who the Lord and me shall part?
Ah, with what a rest of bliss Christ can fill the loving heart!
Heav’n and earth may fade and flee, firstborn light in gloom decline;
But while God and I shall be, I am His, and He is mine.

(Written by James Mountain)

What to Do with a Treasure?

 

I love beautiful and sparkly things!  A treasure chest full of jewels excites my imagination.  Just imagine finding such a thing.  What would you do with it? 

Put it away unopened?                                          Treasure_chest_color

Open it once in a while, glance at the contents and then stick it back on the shelf?

Take it out often, lift out one piece at a time, and examine it in the light from all angles, appreciating and admiring the brilliance of the jewels and the intricacy of their settings?

Put on a piece and wear it, letting its beauty complement your own and allowing others to share in the pleasure of viewing such magnificence?

Okay, I don’t have a treasure like that.  But I do have a better one—a Book that contains the secrets of life, joy, wisdom, peace, and much more! 

So what do I do with it?

Do I just keep it unopened somewhere in the cupboard?

Do I open it once in a while, glance at the contents, then stick it back on the shelf and go my merry way?

Do I pick it up often, read a bit at a time (or a whole chunk), and examine it carefully in the light of the Holy Spirit’s teaching within me, growing in love for the One who crafted this treasure and getting to know Him better through what it reveals about Him?

Do I “wear it” by letting it shape who I am and what I do, how I think and act?  Are others encouraged and drawn to the Artist through the display of His beauty in me?

“Your instructions are more valuable to me than millions in gold and silver.”  (Psalm 119:72)

A Settler or a Sojourner?

If you would ask me where my home is, I would have to scratch my head. When we were in the US for eight months last year, we joked that we were living out of our car and suitcases.  But here on the other side of the world, we don’t really feel at home either.  We look different, sound different, eat differently and think differently than the people of this country.

A more important question is whether we who have transferred our citizenship to heaven look, sound, and think the same as the people around us whose only home is this world.  If I am a settler, I will try to assimilate.  I will spend my time, energy and resources acquiring things that I think I will enhance my happiness here.  And some of those “things” may include intangibles like acceptance, pleasure, and power. 

On the other hand, if I am a sojourner, I won’t set my heart on those things but on preparing for my Real Home.  I will be patient in trials, content with less-than-ideal situations, and hopeful for the future even when the headlines spell doom.  If this is my mentality, I will be in good company:

Abraham obeyed when God called him to leave home and go to another land …. He went without knowing where he was going. And even when he reached the land God promised him, he lived there by faith—for he was like a foreigner, living in tents. …confidently looking forward to a city with eternal foundations, a city designed and built by God.  (Hebrews 11:8-10 NLT)

Moses chose to share the oppression of God’s people instead of enjoying the fleeting pleasures of sin and …to own the treasures of Egypt, for he was looking ahead to his great reward,…. not fearing the king’s anger…because he kept his eyes on the one who is invisible. (Hebrews 11.25-27)

Paul: Our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever! So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever.  (2 Corinthians 4:17-18)  Read also Romans 8:18-25.

Here’s the link to a beautiful “Sojourner’s Song” by Buddy Greene: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=73-6P09xaAE

Heart’s Longing

Oh to…
Rest in your arms
Relax in Your will
Revel in Your goodness
Rejoice in Your beauty
Renounce my selfish ways
Repent of my pride
Remember and obey Your instructions
Recount Your past faithfulness
Realize Your wonderful purposes for me
Reflect Your glory for the world to see!

Helping to Change the World

Ask, using my name, and you will receive, and you will have abundant joy.  John 16:24

It’s true!  Just the other day two of the things I’ve been praying for have been answered!  Saeed Abedini was released from imprisonment in Iran, and my friend’s sick grandchildren are well!  Besides that, some other friends’ house was rented out and yet another friend’s grandchild is on the way to recovery from a serious skin condition we’d prayed about for a long time.  Because I helped to pray for these things, I share in the joy as God answers, and I delight in being part of God’s team.

What a responsibility and privilege it is to participate in God’s plan and in people’s lives by praying for them.  God loves to hear us pray, and He does answer!  All the more reason to keep praying.

Love Song

High and holy
Sovereign, Savior
Creator, Sustainer
Comforter, Friend
You gave me life twice
You chose me forever
I’ll live for you.

My life is yours
You’re all I need
Please keep me true, trusting you
Rejoicing, thanking, growing, serving, glowing
Sharing your love with the world.

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