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.

Blessings,

Kristine

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

How to Let Grace Set Your Pace through the Holidays, Part 2

The most joyful season of the year. It’s here, and with it comes the possibility of rushed schedules, tired bodies, and frustrated hearts.

But it doesn’t have to be that way.

With intention, focus, and a little time invested, we can change a hectic holiday season to a time when our spirits are refreshed and renewed. Are you with me?

 

 

Last week, we looked at the first two things we must do in order to Let Grace Set Our Pace through the Holidays. If you didn’t get a chance to read it, go there first by clicking the title link.

Today we will explore two more musts to help us have the best Thanksgiving and Christmas.

 

3. If I need to say no, I'll do so in love. Then I won't fret over hurt feelings.

One year I came down with bronchitis right before Thanksgiving. As a result, we weren’t able to take our yearly trip to Alabama to visit family. I felt awful. Not just about the bronchitis, but about having to miss seeing my mother-in-law on Thanksgiving Day.

I’ll never forget what she said to me though. It’s an ideal she lived by, and taught to us as well.

It doesn’t matter what day we get together, as long as we get to see each other. It’s not about the day, but being together when we can.

We didn’t have to visit on that exact day. We could have Thanksgiving any day of the year! I always remember her words when the demands of visiting everyone over the holidays just gets to be too much.

We may need to make plans in January for a weekend visit, or even February. The most important thing is to let go of the guilt over hurting someone’s feelings.

We can’t do it all, and feeling responsible for everyone else’s feelings won’t help.

 

4. Reflect on my schedule daily, reminding myself of my priorities.

Now that we’ve done the work of setting things in order, the rest of our schedule can be filled with fun activities that will bring joy to the season.

But before adding anything to the calendar, take a close look at it each day. Read through those things you identified as most important, and don’t be tempted to erase and replace.

Did your Sunday school plan an impromptu gift exchange this Saturday night? Did your son’s teacher lose her volunteers for the class party, and she needs you to spend all day tomorrow at school?

If you already have things on the calendar, prayerfully consider your options before making any changes. Remember your priorities. Will these new activities add extra stress for you and your family?

Taking time to review the schedule will help you make the best possible decisions for the day ahead.

 

Above all, let’s agree together to remember why we are celebrating. Thanksgiving, Christmas, and the New Year bring an abundance of opportunities to reflect on God's gift to us.

Let’s focus on Him through the holidays, and enjoy growing closer to our Lord this year.

Kristine