Grace for the Pharisee

There is grace for all of us, even the Pharisees..

I know because I've been a Pharisee and judged others, and I can still be critical and judgmental at times..So I want to say thank You, Papa, that You've got grace and love in Your heart even for religious and legalistic people, for I've been one and You loved me and saw behind the condemning attitude to a hurting person who felt she must live up to some high standard and felt she never would, felt You were disgusted with her..

Maybe all critical attitudes simply come from this lack of seeing that one is beloved, that there is no standard to have to measure up to..that one is loved without any conditions and accepted even with all the failures..

I know this Pharisee was healed by love and grace, and I pray that all that struggle with condemning and critical attitudes can also be just washed and overwhelmed and healed by His love and grace, too! And that if there are any hurts or wounds from the past, that they would all be healed in every way by His grace washing over, like a fountain of love and tenderness! That every lie making anyone feel unworthy, unlovable, 'not good enough,' alienated, alone, uncared for, or shameful would be silenced and melted into nothing by the love shining from His face, the tender delight in His eyes for all of us!

Grace and peace to all the Pharisees and hurting people out there, you are loved as you are, you are accepted whether you ever change or not, you are His dear and precious children and are totally embraced right now, wherever you are at, no need to measure up, no standard to keep, no requirements put upon are perfect to Him just as you are and always have been! 

So please don't call yourself a Pharisee, that's not who you truly are, it's a lie and false identity you may sometimes take as your own, but it isn't really you!...You are His dear little innocent child, loved without regard to right or wrong, good or bad, what you do or don't do, just plain loved because you are His very own and daddies love their little ones... Don't even worry about changing all your attitudes, seeing the truth more clearly or anything at all...Everything is going to be okay, He won't reject you, He won't hurt you, He won't leave you - Papa loves you, He's got you, and He won't let you go!

It's Not Really About Me and My Faith, It's All About God and His Grace!

In the past I have worried that I didn't have enough faith, or that my faith wasn't complete, or that I would lose faith..and all this focus on my faith made me unsure of my standing before God, unsure of where I was with Him on a day to day basis and also unsure of my eternal destiny.  If it was so important and all about my faith, what if I lost faith or didn't have enough at any one time?  Would that meant that I would lose blessings, help, His favor, or..worst of all, my salvation and place in heaven?  It scared me so much.  I used to cling to verses like Phil. 1:6 because they gave me some hope that somehow God would get me through to heaven, since I felt my faith wasn't so hot!  I instinctively knew that if it was 'all up to me and my faith' to get to heaven, be blessed, have healing or get God's favor and work in my life, then I was in trouble because I was not capable on my own of having perfect faith!  I couldn't handle the responsibility, and it made me feel insecure and troubled and afraid.

Then God began to open my eyes to something wonderful, something I had never really been taught before...He opened my eyes to grace!  He showed me that it wasn't all about me and my faith to make things happen, it was all about HIM and HIS GRACE and He had already made things happen and would bring them all about!  Since it was all about Him and His responsibility to come through for me, my favor and acceptance with God, His work in my life, and my eternal destiny were thus absolutely certain and secure - for HE never fails, HE never wavers, HIS plan is always carried out, HIS work is always finished!  I was able to stop worrying and start resting.  I was able to start enjoying my life with God and looking forward to an eternal heavenly future that was for sure!  The Holy Spirit testified deep within me that this was so.  Oh what joy filled me up!

Now God is showing me something even more beautiful, helping me understand it all even better - He is showing me that in the eternal realm, salvation is already DONE!  That means I am not waiting to get to heaven, I am ALREADY there!  I've died with Christ, been raised with Christ, ascended with Christ, and have been seated with Christ at the right hand of God the Father in heaven - already!  This happened 2000 years ago in our time, but really in God's time it happened before creation!  For God said that the Lamb Jesus was slain before the foundation of the world - and I was there in Him, it happened to me, too, way back then!  Before we even had a problem, God solved it.  Before I even initiated anything, He initiated redemption and made everything okay for me.  Before I even sinned, He took away my sin at the cross.  Before I was lost, I was found by Him!  Before I took one step out of line, He put me back together!  Before I withdrew from relationship with Him, He connected me with Him eternally!  Before I lost faith, HE had faith on my behalf.  Before I even needed rescue, He saved me!  Wow!  My salvation has been secure since before time began - now THAT'S eternal security!

But what about faith?  I know it is great to have faith, and faith is a natural response when we hear this good news that God has saved us.  Yet I realize now I was putting so much emphasis in the past on "my faith" that I wasn't realizing that I was making faith into a work.  Faith isn't a 'thing I do' to make something happen, like blessing or salvation.  Faith isn't something I must do to 'get' God to be favorable toward me or do something for me.  Faith is trust.  It is what happens when you discover someone is trustworthy.  You discover someone is trustworthy by seeing what they've already done for you to prove their love and loyalty to you.  When you see that someone has made a big sacrifice for you to help you, you see they really love you and you're able to trust them to take care of you.  And when you see that someone loves you even when they know the worst about you, even when you reject and mistreat them, then you are able to open up and trust them to accept and not reject you.  And that's just what Jesus did at the cross - He proved His love for us by giving up His own life to free us from sin's hold.  And He loved and did this for us when we were at our worst - in fact, we humans killed Him, and He asked His Father to forgive us and even came out of the grave with His arms stretched out in love and forgiveness for all, taking no revenge, just going on as if we hadn't killed Him at all, loving us and being open and friendly towards us just the same!!  THAT is a God we can trust!

Faith doesn't make something happen.  Faith is what naturally occurs when we see what has already happened to us through God's love and Jesus' finished work.  So faith doesn't bring salvation.  Faith sees that salvation already happened!  Faith is simply seeing reality!  All these years we may have thought God was angry or distant, thought we had to earn our way with Him, thought salvation was all up to us, thought we were being graded by our performance...and now we discover that wasn't reality, that was all a lie!  We discover the truth, we see reality - that God is pure love and ONLY love, that He always loved and accepted and embraced us, no matter what wrong things we did, that we never had to earn our place with Him, that salvation was all up to Him and He already succeeded in doing it - for Jesus freed us from sins through bringing us with Him through death and brought us into life and fellowship in the Trinity by bringing us with Him out of the grave and up into heaven and plopping us right into Papa's lap! - that we are SAFE and SECURE and LOVED and ACCEPTED forever no matter what, we are HIS children, always were, always will be!  God awakens us out of the nightmare of Satan's lies, and we SEE reality, His reality, the eternal and only REAL reality!  That is all faith is to me now, not making something happen but seeing what already happened, what already IS!

We can rest, because salvation in the end is all about God and His grace, not all about us and our faith!  What a relief to know that we are in the arms of the God of grace and that He will never let us go!

Silent Night...

Merry Christmas to all!!!

Grown Up Christmas List

Grown Up Christmas List
(by Linda Thompson and David Foster, sung here by Amy Grant)

Do you remember me?
I sat upon your knee
I wrote to you
With childhood fantasies
Well, I'm all grown-up now
And still need help somehow.
I'm not a child
But my heart still can dream
So here's my lifelong wish
My grown-up Christmas list
Not for myself
But for a world in need

No more lives torn apart
That wars would never start,
And time would heal all hearts
And everyone would have a friend
And right would always win
And love would never end
This is my grown-up Christmas list

As children we believed
The grandest sight to see
Was something lovely
Wrapped beneath our tree
Well heaven surely knows
That packages and bows
Can never heal
A hurting human soul

No more lives torn apart
That wars would never start
And time would heal all hearts
And everyone would have a friend
And right would always win
And love would never end
This is my grown-up Christmas list

What is this illusion called the innocence of youth?
Maybe only in our blind belief can we ever find the truth

No more lives torn apart
That wars would never start
And time would heal all hearts
And everyone would have a friend
And right would always win
And love would never end, oh

This is my grown-up Christmas list
This is my only life long wish
This is my grown-up Christmas list

Our Good Shepherd Always Finds Us - A Wonderful Quote by Simon Tugwell

This is one of my favorite quotes, and I wanted to share it here.  It is from 'Prayer' by Simon Tugwell.  My favorite part is where he says, "Our hope is in His determination to save us, and He will not give in."  That is such a comfort to me!

Jesus the Good Shepherd Who Looks For Us And Finds Us               (Simon Tugwell)

"Another picture that our Lord loves to use is that of the shepherd who goes out to look for the sheep that is lost (Matthew 18:12).  So long as we imagine that it is we who have to look for God, then we must often lose heart.  But it is the other way about: he is looking for us.  And so we can afford to recognize that very often we are not looking for God; far from it, we are in full flight from him, in high rebellion against him.  And he knows that and has taken it into account.  He has followed us into our own darkness; there where we thought finally to escape him, we run straight into his arms.

"So we do not have to erect a false piety for ourselves, to give us hope of salvation.  Our hope is in his determination to save us.  And he will not give in!

"...we can let ourselves off that desperate question, “Am I in the right place?”  ”Have I done the right thing?”  Of course, we must sometimes acknowledge sins and mistakes and we must try to learn from them; but we should not foster the kind of worry that leads to despair, God’s providence means that wherever we have got to, whatever we have done, that is precisely where the road to Heaven begins.  However many cues we have missed, however many wrong turnings we have taken, however unnecessarily we may have complicated our journey, the road still beckons, and the Lord still “waits to be gracious” to us (Isaiah 30:18)."
                                                                                                                  Simon Tugwell

I love this quote!  It really reminds me of our security in Him and how He has got this whole salvation thing wrapped up in His perfect work and faithfulness!  His is the initiative, His is the work, His is the responsibility, and His is the we are safe, we are secure, we are assured that we'll forever be snug and cozily at home with Him!   He will not fail us!  We may think we've just fallen too far to ever come up again, yet right in the deepest pit of all we find that God is there with us!  We suddenly find that by His grace, the pathway that seemed to be going down is actually going up, and the hellhole turns into heaven!  Because HE is there!  HE is with us, no matter where we end up, and HE keeps us!  He makes the dark places light and the crooked places straight, flattens mountains into plains and turns the storm into calm!  No matter what, He makes it all come out for good!  Thus, we cannot get lost, because anywhere we go or even run from Him, there He is, holding us, saving us, blessing us, keeping us, carrying us to heaven!!  It's like Rob Rufus says, grace is an UP escalator, and no matter how many times we fall on this escalator, it just keeps going UP! 

So we can fail and still be safe and secure, for it's all by His grace that we are fine and well and safe, not by our own doing or keeping!  We are free to be ourselves, admit our weaknesses, have problems and issues.  We are free to take risks, free to try new things and sometimes not succeed, free to be fallible and free to be wrong, free to not understand everything, free to even have erroneous beliefs or doctrines about some things!  And free to be human, to be weak, to be emotional, to be real, to be genuine!  For no matter what we do, where our thoughts and acts take us, what lies or traps we fall in, what confusion we have, or what lies we believe, He is determined to save us, He is able and willing to save us, He DOES save us, He HAS saved us!  And therefore we ARE safe, forevermore!

"Don't Forget Where You Belong" by One Direction

(This is post is going out in honor of my wonderful daughter, Sara!) Here is a great song that is new to me...My daughter loves this group, and this is a song she played for me from their new album...I love it and think it is such a song of God's grace and love!  No matter where we've gone, we've always belonged with Him, He's always been our home, and we've never been alone, for He has been there with us all along! 

Are We Undeserving or Unworthy of His Love?

I have heard many times the definition of grace as 'undeserved favor' ..that even though we don't deserve it, God loves us.  That grace is God's love for the undeserving, His favor given to those that don't deserve such treatment. 

Yet I recently read a post on facebook that said something different and intriguing.  The person said that really, in God's eyes, we actually DESERVE love and favor because we are His dearly loved creations and any good father would say that his children deserved love and blessings! 

That was new to me and such a joy to think about, that HE thinks I deserve to be loved, accepted, helped, blessed, etc.! I think it goes along with the idea of worthiness, too - that we are worthy, we have His very worth in and upon us as His very own offspring!  In fact, because Jesus gave His own life for us, God giving up His own Son for us all, that shows we are worth just as much to God as Jesus is - talk about being worth a lot, being worthy!

We are worthy, and we are deserving, just by being His children, His dearly loved creations!

We are worth loving, worth saving, worth redeeming, and we deserve all the love, help, affection, care and good things a Perfect Father would give!

Scary Judge or Loving Papa?

I feel that the question is coming up in my mind recently, am I going to keep on seeing Him as Scary Judge as I'd been taught or am I really going to see Him as Loving Father!?!  Without realizing it, in the past I'd seen Him as a Scary Judge, whose bottom line was grading me on my performance, and thus I never could feel totally safe and secure around Him, because I wondered if He really approved of me, wondered if He was going to be disappointed with me or reject me because of some failure on my part to act, think or believe right...Yet now I am learning more and more that He is really a Loving Father!  He is not all about performance but is all about relationship!  His way is not law but grace!  His language isn't demands, pressure, rewards and punishment; it is actually acceptance, delight, freedom and gifts!  He is a loving Daddy who loves to dote on His kids, in whose eyes they can do no wrong, who would never think of disowning them, who wouldn't want to even exist in a universe where they did not exist, who would gladly give up His own life to save them from harm, who would protect them from anything, who always thinks they deserve the very best, who thinks they are the greatest and most wonderful beings ever!  He always sees past the wrongs they do to the hurts that may have caused them to act that way, always sees not the wrongs they might do but the needy, vulnerable little son/daughter dependent on Him for everything, needing so much to be loved.  He will never turn His back on us, never stop loving us, never reject us based on some poor performance or mistake, never see us as anything but His dearly loved, precious children!

So I feel myself coming to a point where I am asking myself, am I ready to just let go of the old ideas and go forth bravely with the new?  Do so can feel a little scary, because one is dropping old traditional beliefs that have been there for so long.  And yet, a wonderful new vista opens up before me, full of a God who is truly LOVE, who is ALL LOVE, who is nothing BUT LOVE! A God who has no wrath!  A God who does not judge!  A God who isn't punishing but instead restoring!  A God who is safe to be with, not scary!  A Father, not a Judge!

It's freeing to let go of the old ideas about Him, thrilling and also vulnerable and new, like stepping into the unknown but feeling deep down that it's going to be a great ride! I feel Him saying that whatever He shows me about Himself, whatever new things He reveals, that all of it will only be better and more wonderful than what I believed before!

YES!!  It's time to follow my heart and see Him as my loving, doting Papa who would never harm me, cast me out, punish me, or forget me! I am so safe with Him! I may not understand some of the passages in the Bible about Him, but I know what my heart tells me, and I think the Spirit in me witnesses in agreement!

What a Wonderful Salvation - Believing Doesn't Make It So, It Just Helps Us Enjoy It!

Since everyone was included in Adam's sin, everyone was included in Christ's righteousness!
Since in Adam all died, in Christ all are made alive!

Believing this good news that He saved us from sin and death allows us to relax and enjoy the journey home that we are guaranteed to complete! Our spirits are already there, seated with Him in the heavenly realms, and our bodies are sure to catch up - the Holy Spirit within us testifies to this very fact and guarantees the redemption of our bodies, guarantees that we'll be resurrected with glorified bodies!

Believing doesn't make any of this true or make it happen...believing allows us to relax, rest and enjoy the reality we've been brought into already, the relationship we've been included into already - Jesus has picked us up out of the gutter of sin and death and put us on the Father's lap in heaven, in union and life! We can be at peace and have joy, enjoying wonderful and unhindered fellowship with God as we walk through life together..

We are saved from the heartache of thinking He is far away or angry or punishing, saved from fearfully withdrawing from Him and trying to navigate life alone, saved from the emptiness of thinking we are unwanted and unloved, saved from trying to fill the need for unconditional love with unsatisfying and hurtful things, saved from feeling we must earn approval and saved from fear that something we do will bring rejection, saved from bondage to the LIE that says we are inferior and alienated - because we have been shown the truth - we are loved, we are approved, we are accepted, we are embraced, we are SAVED!

We have found out who He is and who we are.. We don't have a punishing God, we have a forgiving and restoring God.. We aren't unlovable rejects, we are beloved children.. We aren't trapped and hopeless, we are rescued and free!

Now we don't have to go through this life afraid of death, afraid of God, afraid of punishment, afraid of rejection, afraid of anything! His perfect love casts out all the fear of torment or punishment, because we find that He is LOVE that saves, not HATRED that retaliates! "With God on our side like this, how can we lose? He who did not spare His own Son, but freely gave Him up for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things! Nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord!" (from Rom.

What a wonderful God, and what a wonderful salvation!
May the amazing grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the extravagant love of God, and the intimate friendship of the Holy Spirit be with all of you. 2 Co. 13:14