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Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Red Tulips
Brooksyne's favorite spring bulb.

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"God's Grace Lavished"
"In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God's grace that He lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding"  (Ephesians 1:8).
Our church sings a nice blend of newer praise and worship choruses and traditional hymns. In our service last Sunday I was so blessed when an old favorite of mine was announced:  a majestic song that stirs the heart titled "Wonderful Grace of Jesus."  This song has been on my heart the past three days and has prompted me to write about the wonderful grace of our Lord Jesus today.
After I write these messages each morning Brooksyne edits and sharpens my writing. She often includes additional reflection that compliments the theme of the message and writes the closing prayer. One thing she frequently does is break down my long run-on sentences to make them more reader friendly.
In the original Greek (in which the Apostle Paul wrote) all of Ephesians 1:3-14 is a single sentence!  English translations typically break this up since grammatically it is very difficult to read as a single sentence.  I recall when my former pastor likened this powerful portion of Scripture to a multifaceted gem such as the Hope diamond, with the facets summed up in a single powerful phrase, "God's glorious grace."
This is a wonderful reminder of why life is worth the living no matter what circumstances we face.  Paul, writing here from a Roman prison, could have consumed his time and energy with legalities that would free him from his confined status.  But instead he focused on Christ and expressing His truth to others.  By God's glorious grace he rose above his circumstances and gave selflessly as he wrote of the wisdom and blessing which God poured into Him in the midst of external troubles.

As we consider the deplorable, cramped surroundings from which these life changing words were written it is a further testimony of God's unleashed power when a transformed life is sensitive and obedient to God's leading.  God's power is not limited by our lack of finances, a physical affliction, limited education, confinement, or any other external circumstance.  Nothing is lacking when we fully depend upon God's grace.
Today let us consider but one phrase in the daily Scripture text, "the riches of God's grace that He lavished on us."  I want to personally deeply appropriate this truth in my life day. 

"The riches of God's grace."  What greater type of riches can there possibly be?
Those reading this have a variety of the "world's riches."  Some have a lot, others have very little.  But all of us who are placing our faith in Jesus Christ have the riches of God's grace lavished on us!  The word "lavish" means to "superabound."  His grace is indeed always more than sufficient and abundantly lavished. Praise the Lord!
Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber
Daily prayer:  Father, Your grace exceeds our greatest sin and reaches our deepest need.  Some of the richest and most tender portions of Scripture that disclose the extent of Your love were revealed in deplorable settings.  What a wonderful reminder that Your work is not limited to ideal circumstances but You do an inward work in the heart of man no matter where we are or what difficulty we face.  Because You lavish Your love on us we cannot contain it but must share it with those around us.  Help us to do so freely and generously.  Amen.

The American Standard Version of the Bible translates Ephesians 1:3-14 as one sentence, although it used many colons and semi-colons! 

Lyndon RisserYesterday we joined a new friend for lunch and then he gave us a personal tour of his plant. Lyndon Risser runs a company in Lebanon, PA called Dyna-Tech which makes and sells power equipment. He is a very enthusiastic follower of Jesus Christ and colorfully uses his business as an example of his desire to share the life-transforming power of Christ! We observed the many ways his Christian witness was evident in the work setting. The company motto is Delivering Power and Confidence...  Here's a slogan on the company website:

Missed It All

How's that for not being ashamed of the gospel!

Today's suggested music:

"Wonderful Grace Of Jesus" (mp3 audio) from the Valley Bible Church in Lancaster, California.
"Wonderful Grace Of Jesus" (mp3 audio) This is a very live sounding version with a lengthy Scripture reading from the Campus Crusade for Christ group at a college in Texas.
"Wonderful Grace Of Jesus" (mp3 audio) This is an acapella gospel quartet version from this website.
Finally let me share a song from Graham Kendrick called "What Grace" or his version of "Amazing Grace"

Brooksyne's Note:  I read the following story and it reminded me that those who desire to be used of God are not limited by their physical affliction or confinement.  Perhaps you can personally relate to Miss Higgens if you are confined to a sick bed as we know some of our readers are.  Or perhaps you know someone else who would be encouraged by this story.  Yesterday I enclosed this inspiring story in a "Get Well" card to a woman who has recently been confined to her home and is in a very discouraged state of mind.

Author James Stalker writes:  "Suffering does not always sanctify.  It sours some tempers and makes them selfish.  But many triumph nobly over their temptation.  There are sick-rooms [where] it is a privilege to visit." 

J. Oswald Sanders told about visiting such a place in Australia, where Miss Hiss Higgens lived.  Constantly in pain, she hadn't left her room for more than 40 years.  Her arms and legs had been amputated to arrest a progressive disease.  Determined to live creatively, she named her cottage "Gladwish," where she gave herself to prayer and spiritual ministry.  Using a pen attached to the stump of her arm, she maintained a worldwide correspondence for years and led hundreds to Christ.  Her suffering stimulated creativity in her life and service.

If you're longing to live more creatively, "Count it all joy when you fall into various trials" (James 1:2).  Dare to give your hassles and heartaches a more challenging name, such as "growing pains," with the emphasis on growing!

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Scripture references are from The Holy Bible: New International Version. © 1984 by International Bible Society; NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission; and the King James Version.
Personal Mission Statement: "I am created by God to bring Him glory. Through God's Son Jesus Christ I have been redeemed and I make it my life's goal to please the Lord. My mission in life is to honor God through my faith and obedience and to prepare myself and all whom I may influence for eternity."

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