You Are YOU, Because of God's Grace

“For I am the least of the apostles and do not even deserve to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace to me was not without effect.” (1 Corinthians 15:9-10a NIV)

The music blared from the cassette player.

I'm sure the lyrics brought tears to Jesus’ eyes. Not the good kind, either. In fact these band members spoke openly against faith. I knew that. I also knew they promoted a careless, disrespectful lifestyle.

But in my independent teenage mind, none of that mattered.

Looking back now, I realize the damage I was causing. I sometimes reminisce about the past and cringe at some of the choices I made.

I’m sure many of us have memories from the past that bring a heaping load of regret.

Sometimes when those shame-filled times pop into our minds, we quickly pray them away. We dig into God's Word to remind us who we are in Christ today. Because if we don’t, the enemy may try to grab onto those thoughts and consume us with feelings of defeat and discouragement.

Being able to take those thoughts captive is an important part of growing closer to God.

There are also times when the memories of past mistakes serve an important role in our lives.

Paul points this out in 1 Corinthians 15. Those sins of the past reveal God’s power and define our purpose.

“For I am the least of the apostles and do not even deserve to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace to me was not without effect.” (1 Corinthians 15:9-10a NIV)

Because of where I was and who God is, I am what I am. (Tweet this.)

Paul points out he is not even worthy to be associated with the apostles. Even so, he realizes it is God’s plan to use him, and God is able to do more than Paul can imagine.

Matthew Henry’s commentary puts it this way, “When sinners are, by Divine Grace, turned into saints, God causes the remembrance of former sins to make them humble, diligent, and faithful.”

Have moments of your past been burdening you?

Are you haunted by thoughts of a lifestyle you’d honestly rather forget?

With the help of the Holy Spirit, we can take those thoughts captive. Then we can see them for what they are – a triumph for God’s goodness and grace.

Dear Lord, I am thankful to be rescued and renewed, yet still growing and learning with you each day. Help us today to see our past the way You see it, as a testimony of a life transformed. Allow our focus to be on the journey we are taking with You, and may others be changed by seeing the change in us. Amen.



(This post originally appeared on February 28, 2015.)

Learning How to Rest (When You're Wired for Work)

Our little dog Bandit loves to chase his ball. In fact, I'd say he's obsessed with it. No matter how many other toys we give him, he will always choose that faded green rubber ball.

Bandit wants everyone to throw his ball, so he can fetch it. He will chase it over and over and over, until he physically wears himself out. His little body gets so wound up, it's like a battery that gets more charge with each throw.

You'd think he would know when to stop, but he doesn't. We finally have to say 'no more' so he will rest.

It reminds me of how I get sometimes.

Projects. Things to do. A full calendar. I like being busy.

So much so in fact, that I can't sit down to watch a favorite TV show if I look over and see a pile of clutter on the table. I have to get up and deal with the clutter right then.

Because in order to relax, I need to feel like I've gotten something accomplished first. The problem is that I've never stopped to define the word accomplished.

Focusing on the unfinished tasks around me drives me to an unhealthy state of frustration, that eventually ends in what I like to call 'flip-out' mode. I've become very adept at keeping the flipping out inside myself and not letting the frustration fly into the face of those around me, but keeping it inside isn't the best solution.

Because when I hold it in, I'm not dealing with the root of the issue.

In her book Doing Busy Better, Glynnis Whitwer writes about how God wanted to teach the Israelites how to rest by giving them the commandment regarding the Sabbath. In her book, she says,

"God wanted to heal their hearts and minds from generations of bondage, and that would only come through dependence on One who was completely trustworthy."

The Israelites had lived as slaves for generations in bondage. They needed to learn balance. They needed to learn how to rest.

I love Glynnis' words in the image above. "God modeled a simplicity of work that feels refreshing and focused." The Israelites had to unlearn years of behaving as slaves. And just like them, we may not know how to find the right balance of work and rest in our own lives.

That's why we need the wisdom of God's Word and His gentle hand to guide us.

I've enjoyed reading Glynnis' book Doing Busy Better this summer. Her teaching has inspired me to find balance, and to quit chasing that ball over and over until I wear myself out.

Even those of us who are wired for work can learn how to rest. 


If you'd like to read more about What the Bible Says about Being too Busy, click the title link here.


Looking for a summer reading that will help you grow closer to God and learn more about God's design for work and rest? Find out more about the Doing Busy Better book by clicking the image.