Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Exceeding Abundantly

On November 14, 2009, we packed our belongings and moved to Oakdale, CA, where God was sending us to begin a new work for His Glory. We left behind our children, grandchildren, parents, other relatives, church family, and friends in answer to God’s call. We had no promise of income, no idea of where our new church would meet, and did not know a soul – yet, we went knowing that this is what God wanted us to do, and where He wanted us to go.

As we began to attend local churches in the area (within an hour) before our Grand Opening service, we found that many folks had been praying that a church would start in Oakdale – in fact one church had nearly started a work here, but God closed that door at the time...He had it all planned for us to come to Oakdale before we had any idea.

Little by little we began to be amazed at God’s mighty provision – He provided a home in the country free of rent or utility fees for 6 months! We began hearing nearly daily from pastors of the many churches we had contacted asking for support, and we began to see souls saved…lots of them!

We had our Grand Opening service with 39 in attendance. We have had a high day of 69 on Easter Sunday, and 56 on Mother’s Day – we have seen 88 souls trust Christ as their personal Saviour since January 1, 2010; we’ve had 11 souls follow in Believer’s Baptism, and the Lord has been blessing the ministry.

On May 3, 2010, we received a phone call from our landlord informing us that on May 17, there was a group coming to stay at the house where we have been living, and that we would need to be out by May 14, (17 days sooner than expected); my husband and I were surprised, but we had complete peace that God was in control and that He would provide. We had been praying for $2500 that would be required for rent and deposit for a “new” home, but we had not received anything…yet.

Fully trusting God for His outcome and provision we began to see His hand at work to miraculously meet this need! We received a love offering (unexpected) – woo-hoo – Praise the Lord! Then we received another check from a church whose pastor we do not know! (marked “housing for pastor”); on Easter Sunday we received an email informing us of another church that would begin to support us…on top of that we had a blessed day in church with a sense that God was moving in an unusual way! On Monday, we received 2 more support checks, plus a another check for housing – now it was adding up – we had nearly half the amount we had been praying for when we realized that we would need at the very least a refrigerator, plus a washer and drier…and now down to 4 days before we must move out – and still not enough cash on hand, nor the place to “move,” yet KNOWING that God would provide and that He had it all taken care of.

We received a phone call from a college tour group asking if they could come to our church for a Tuesday night – but of course with our new ministry we could not have a service because our meeting place is booked every night; so they offered to come soul winning with us and asked if we would be willing to feed the group – by the end of the conversation my husband had promised to go soulwinning, house and feed the tour group in our “new home” and we still don’t know where that is going to be…and we have no refrigerator! (Are we nuts? Maybe, but we really believe that God is going to provide).

This morning we prayed especially that God would give us an answer before my parents (who were in town visiting) left, and as we were loading the car my husband received a phone call letting him know that we would be receiving a sizable check that would more than cover the immediate need!!! So, now we have the money for the housing, the refrigerator, the washer and dryer!! God has miraculously answered our prayers. Now, we still do not have a confirmed answer from the landlord of the house we wish to rent – but we trust the Lord and know that He has it all worked out!

We are humbled and honored that God would allow us to testify of His mighty power, and that we have the privilege to bring Glory and Honor to our Savior as we tell of His great love and provision…we are unworthy, but so very grateful.

“Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen.” Ephesians 3:20, 21

God is so good - trust Him and have a wonderful day!

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Moments of Grace

Today I spoke at a Mother/Daughter Banquet. I thank the Lord for the privilege and opportunity to share with others the truths He places on my heart. The theme was “Moments of Grace.” As I pondered and prayed asking the Lord what He would have me bring to the ladies, I was blessed by the awesome realization that every moment we breathe is by the grace of God.

Grace – I have heard of several meanings for that word – the acrostic

God’s
Riches
At
Christ’s
Expense


Grace: getting something good that we don’t deserve as opposed to mercy which is not getting something bad that we do deserve

Grace is the influence or spirit of God operating in humans to regenerate or strengthen them.
It is a virtue or excellence of divine origin: the Christian graces.
It is moral strength: the grace to perform a duty.

In Ephesians 3, (3:1-13) Paul is talking to the church about the grace God had given him…the grace to learn, the grace to teach, the grace to serve, the grace to preach, the grace to make men see (another form of teaching – getting people to understand), the grace to suffer for the sake or good of others – and because of that he prayed…

Ephesians 3:14 For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
15 Of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named,
16 That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man;
17 That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love,
18 May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height;
19 And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God.


The many graces God gave Paul led him to desire the most important thing we would need - to know the love of Christ so that we might be filled with the fullness of God. The way to get to that love was to be strengthened by His Spirit…or the Holy Ghost.

John 14:26 "But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you."

Now you may be wondering what any of that has to do with a mother, or Mother’s Day, but the truth is there is a very close connection to the role of the mother and that of the Holy Spirit.

Isa 66:13 "As one whom his mother comforteth, so will I comfort you; and ye shall be comforted in Jerusalem."

The role of the mother is likened to that of the Holy Spirit – or the comforter.
God gives mothers grace… so that we will raise our children to desire the most important thing…to know the love of Christ so that they might be filled with the fullness of God. As mothers we desire to strengthen our children (as the Holy Ghost does) so they’ll get an understanding of love - our love for them, and ultimately God's love for them. We receive this grace (God’s riches at Christ’s expense) which helps us to get a glimpse of the love of God.

As mothers God give us grace…

To learn –and perhaps begin to understand, or get a glimpse of the love of God when we become mothers. As children we don’t understand love in that same way. We love our parents and are dependent on them, but we don’t comprehend their sacrificial love, their unconditional love, their tough love…as mothers by God’s grace we learn of God’s love in a new way.

To teach – as mothers we become our children’s first teacher. We teach our children whether we try to or not, because they learn by observation – so you can teach them on purpose or not – either way we are our children’s first teachers.

To serve – as mothers God gives us the grace to serve our children – we feed them, we bathe them, we change their diapers, we rearrange our schedules; and quite frankly mothers will serve their children as much as they can all their days. I am 52 years old, and my mother will still do what she can to help me – my children are 30, 28, 27 & 25 years old and I would be willing to do anything I could to serve or help them – by the grace of God being a mother has taught me to serve, and to understand what God is willing to do for me!

To preach – now I know, women are not to be pastors – but the commandment is given to preach the gospel to every creature – preaching is by definition giving earnest advice on religious or moral truths, right conduct. Every mother preaches to her kids – mother is the first one to teach her children about God – how important God is (that is dependent on how important He is to you). I can attest to this personally – I was saved when I was 27 years old – my youngest son was only 2 months old when I was saved. As the mother of 4 children and as a new Christian, I found that the best time I could read my Bible was when I was feeding the baby – with 4 little ones aged 5 and under, you can imagine that I was quite busy caring for my home and kids – so sitting and reading was not something I had in my schedule. I recall one time in particular that I sat to feed Jon and my Bible was in the other room, so I wasn’t able to read my Bible – and when my 2 ½ year old Kellie noticed, she ran into the other room and brought me my Bible…I had not even been saved 3 months and she already knew! That taught me a lesson – I had preached the importance of reading my Bible to my daughter without even saying a word!

To Make Men See…as a mother we experience the joy of seeing our children begin to understand – they understand our expressions, they understand they are safe when we hold them and rock them, when we comfort them. They understand the meaning of words as we speak to them, they understand right from wrong as we train and discipline them…these are moments of grace - and these moments help us to realize that sometimes the difficult things we endure "help us to see" God's love and plan for our lives.

All of these graces – these times we experience God’s riches are moments of grace.

There is yet one more grace…

To suffer – as mothers we willingly suffer for our children. We will go without so that our children won’t have to be without. Of course we endure the suffering of labor and delivery (unless of course you are like me who really didn’t have much pain to speak of – 11 hours of labor for all four children combined!). However, as mothers we suffer anytime our children are hurting, we suffer when our children are broken-hearted, sick, sad; troubled…all of these things we suffer with them, and would willingly suffer for them or in their place if we could. We then can better understand the love of God and the fact that He willingly suffered and died for us on the cross – because as mothers we would do the same for our children; we would die for them. When God saw that we were dead in our sins – He came to earth in the form of a man – and Jesus died for us!

Ephesians 2:4 But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us,
5 Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;)
6 And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus:
7 That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus.
8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.


You know as mothers the only way a child is ours is if it is born to us – no child can work their way to become our children – they are either born to us, or adopted by us, but the children can’t work their way into becoming “ours.” Now remember that the role of the mother is likened to that of the Holy Spirit – so, just as our children must be born or adopted by us, Christians too must be born of the Spirit of God…

“For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.
15 For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.
16 The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God:
17 And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint–heirs with Christ;”
Romans 8:14-17

Perhaps you aren’t sure if you have been saved by grace – if you have received the Spirit of adoption, meaning that you have been born again into the family of God, or if you have been saved by grace, but you can be today. You can know the love of God, receive forgiveness of your sin, and receive the gift of eternal life through Christ – because when we were dead in our sin – he paid our sin debt “the wages of sin is death…but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” Wouldn’t you like to be joint heirs with Christ and inherit the riches of glory – won’t you receive Him today?

All of these graces lead us to desire that our children would be strengthened in His Spirit, to know, to understand, to comprehend the love of God – so that they may know His fulness.

Moments of Grace in Motherhood – what a privilege we have to experience and truly understand the love of God – by His grace. Moms let appreciate these moments as we experience God’s riches at Christ expense – Happy Mother’s Day!

Have a wonderful day!