“You see, we can talk about grace, sing about grace, preach about grace, just so long as we do not get too close to it. Election is too close. When we give in to election, we finally give up on ourselves in the matter of salvation.The doctrine takes grace to its logical conclusion: if God saves me without my works, then He must choose me apart from them, too.” – from Putting Amazing Back Into Grace Michael Horton
The doctrine of election isn’t easy to understand. But, really, no more difficult than the Trinity. Believing in the Trinity doesn’t change the way we look at ourselves as much as election does. Election makes us face the fact that salvation is all of God, all of grace. It forces us to give up on that little thread of good works that we cling to. Good works are not a stepping stone to heaven, but rather a gift we are given that we are not to keep.
I still struggle with understanding sometimes, but I don’t doubt the truth of election. The last line in Horton’s quote above makes so much sense. He chose me and He saved me – in spite of me!
Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering- Col.3:12
“…any God worth believing in is the God not only of the immensities of the galaxies I rejoice in at night when I walk the dogs, but also the God who cares about the sufferings of us human beings and is here, with us, for us, in our pain and in our joy… I need a God who is with us always, everywhere, in the deepest depths as well as the highest heights.” -Two-Part Invention by Madeleine L’Engle
This song has taken on new meaning for me this year. In peace and in sorrow, He is there. He is here.
It is providential that it was the hymn I read this past Sunday afternoon, still going through Aunt Marie’s hymnal. The story of this hymn was briefly mentioned that morning at church. You can read about it HERE.
Last year, my dear friend, Jeannie, gave me a necklace inscribed with this song title. It has become precious to me. I thank God for people like Horatio Spafford and Jeannie.
I hear the phrase “My happy place” fairly often. There are signs galore with this slogan, shops and even a deli with this name. But, yesterday’s reading in The Valley of Vision puts a whole different spin on “my happy place”,
The Valley of Vision is a collection of Puritan prayers and devotions. The writings were gathered and edited by Arthur Bennett, Canon of St. Albans Cathedral, England.
From yesterday’s reading:
“…Cause me to be a mirror of Thy grace, to show others the joy of thy service, may my lips be well-tuned cymbals sounding Thy praise…Teach me the happy art of attending to things temporal with a mind intent of things eternal…”
“…Let my happy place be amongst the poor in spirit, my delight the gentle ranks of the meek. Let me always esteem others better than myself, and find in true humility an heirloom to two worlds.”
Happy is he who has the God of Jacob for his help, Whose hope is in the Lord his God. Psalm 146:5
“…under all the trials that weary me, the cares that corrode me, the fears that disturb me, I can come to Thee in my need and feel peace beyond understanding!”
For now and into the future, there is this: “Every new duty calls for more grace than I now possess, but not more than is found in Thee…”
We tend to forget God during the good and easy times, so this reminds me to be thankful for all the ‘smiles of prosperity’:
“Do Thou with me, and prepare me for all the smiles of prosperity, the frowns of adversity, the losses of substance, the death of friends, the days of darkness, the changes of life, and the last great change of all. May I find Thy grace sufficient for all my needs.”
All quotes from The Valley of Vision, edited by Arthur Bennett, Canon of St. Albans Cathedral, England.
And I sing songs of sorrow, because you're not around...
November spells sweet memory, the season blue remains
November spells sweet memory, the season blue remains...
November Blue - TAB
So many things can trigger my tears, but it’s mostly music that gets me. Especially in church because Chuck loved the hymns so well. Sometimes in the early morning or on a Sunday afternoon I’d hear him softly singing from the hymn book while sitting in his office or in the kitchen.
Today we sang “To God Be the Glory” and “Wonderful Grace of Jesus”. Wonderful classics.
...taking away my burden, setting my spirit free;
for the wonderful grace of Jesus reaches me...
Extravagant Grace is a book written by Barbara Duguid. She uses John Newton’s teaching on sanctification to explain God’s sovereignty over sin. Duguid is the wife of a Presbyterian pastor in Pennsylvania and the mother of six. The quotes in this series come from her book. “The baby Christian and the maturing believer know that they ought to be humble… the grown-up in Christ, however, IS truly humble. He habitually looks back on the way God has faithfully led him and can see the innumerable times that God has given him good in return for his evil.”
I think I fall somewhere in between the maturing and grown-up Christian. I am still learning a lot of lessons in being humble. Hard lessons sometimes. I found I thought too much of myself, my credentials, my experience. It is all for nothing without Christ.
The fear of the Lord is the instruction of wisdom, And before honor is humility. Proverbs 15:33
Extravagant Grace is a book written by Barbara Duguid. She uses John Newton’s teaching on sanctification to explain God’s sovereignty over sin. Duguid is the wife of a Presbyterian pastor in Pennsylvania and the mother of six. The quotes in this series come from her book. “When we are standing tall and strong we do not tend to look at Christ – we don’t need Him. But when we fall flat on our faces, overcome with sin and weakness, there is nowhere else for us to look but to the One who has died our death and lived the life we should have lived.”
How many times have you found this to be true? Yes, I praise and thank Him when the big, obvious answers to prayer are seen. I am joyful when an unexpected blessing comes and I give Him the glory.
But what about every day, when it’s the same thing you did the day before? I think I sometimes forget to go to God when everything is going smoothly. I forget to be grateful when everything is going as it should.
Seems some of us go from blessing God to begging Him. What would your friends think if that was the way you treated your friendship? Don’t you think your friend wants to just hang out with you sometimes?
My prayer is that I go to God every day, not just when I’ve messed up big time. Because, really, I mess up every day.
Fear not, for I am with you; Be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, Yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.
Dear Father… You are patient and gracious far beyond our deserving. Let us hope for your forgiveness when we can find no way to forgive ourselves. You bless our lives even when we have shown ourselves to be utterly ungrateful and unworthy. May we be strengthened and renewed, to make us less unworthy of blessing, through these your gifts of sustenance, of friendship and family.” – prayed by Jack in Home by Marilynne Robinson
You would have to read the book to understand how beautiful and sad this prayer is. Jack, the “black sheep” of the family prays here and it nearly broke my heart. This is the prayer I need to pray. Every. Single. Day. I identify with the ‘no way to forgive ourselves’ sentiment. And the being blessed even while ungrateful and unworthy.
Prayer doesn’t change things, but prayer lays hold of God who changes things and Who, in prayer, changes you. And sometimes in the midst of it all He gives you the assurance that your plea has been granted. – from The Way of the Righteous in the Muck of Life by Dale Ralph Davis
I like that part about how God changes us in prayer. And gives us assurance.
Extravagant Grace is a book written by Barbara Duguid. She uses John Newton’s teaching on sanctification to explain God’s sovereignty over sin. The quotes in this series come from her book.
“They (the weak in faith) are told they must run with all their strength, yet often find themselves barely able to lie on the ground facing the right direction.” “We must love them, bear their burdens gently and help them to carry their loads, because they belong to us. They are our family in the Lord.”
Have you ever felt like you had so little faith that you didn’t even know how to approach God? Did you know that it’s actually God who gives you faith, and that He already knows what you are struggling with? When I am struggling, this is the verse that comes to mind: Immediately the father of the child cried out and said with tears, “Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!” – Mark 9:24
As for loving our brothers and sisters in the Lord, this is a great verse to keep in mind – “Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.” – Galatians 6:2
Some days you may be on one side of the fence and some days on the other. There will be times when your own faith is weak; there will also be times when you can lift up a weak one and help them to bear their burdens; and do it without judging.
Extravagant Grace is a book written by Barbara Duguid. She uses John Newton’s teaching on sanctification to explain God’s sovereignty over sin. Duguid is the wife of a Presbyterian pastor in Pennsylvania and the mother of six. The quotes in this series come from her book.
“I had not yet learned that you don’t have to be abused to be messed up; you just have to be a human!”
In our finite human minds, it’s easy to understand why someone with a rough background, an abusive past, or a survivor of some tragedy would turn out to be “bad”. What we often don’t understand is that we are all “bad”, all sinners. Some may show it more outwardly than others, but it’s in all of us. That expression, “there but for the grace of God go I” is one I have to bring to mind often.
For whatever reason, only He knows, God has put a protective hand on me. I was never abused. Sure, I’ve experienced death, car accidents, loss of jobs and income; all the things most of us will experience in our lifetime.To say we are all human is an understatement. We’ve read stories of those who have suffered tremendously, yet survived and overcame and thrived. Then, there are those with the proverbial “silver spoon” who have wrecked their own lives.
The bottom line is that we are all sinners, all capable of just about anything. What I have learned from pondering these things is that I should not get smug in any goodness I think I have. God has allowed me to have a life that by many standards is very blessed, very comfortable. No, not a rich life monetarily, but, then again, comparatively it may be. Not a happy-go-lucky life. But, a life of growing knowledge of Him. And that is only by His grace.