His Grace is Sufficient

Do the “what ifs” sometimes overwhelm you? When you let your mind drift to any of the endless list of potential crises that could be a phone call away, do you feel unequipped to handle the grief? Do you look at someone else’s struggle and think, “I can’t even imagine” or “there is no way I can handle that”? That particular feeling struck me recently: I have two young mom friends, sisters in Christ, who have cancer. Both have two children under five. I can’t even imagine.

The possibilities of these scenarios seem crippling. And then, in steps the power of God.

And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.”  Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weakness, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me.                         2 Corinthians 12:9

The picture below is of my first baby girl, Elizabeth Alane. I never got to hold her. Eric and I saw her heartbeat at seven weeks, and by nine weeks her heartbeat was no more.

His Grace is Sufficient

After my miscarriage God held me up in so many ways. One way was through the Scripture that comforted and assured me. One of the verses that brought me so much comfort was 2 Corinthians 12:9.  His grace is sufficient. 

A week and a day before we found out that the baby no longer had a heartbeat, I broke down sobbing, and I told my husband, Eric, I was scared of losing the baby. I was mess. Eric held me and comforted me, and he prayed that we would put the baby in God’s hands. If you looked at what a mess I was then, you would have thought actually losing the baby would have rendered me a useless waste. But God gave me the grace I needed in the moment I need it. After my miscarriage, I had an undeniable hope despite my loss. I didn’t know how this would work together for good (Romans 8:28). I didn’t understand God’s thoughts and plans in this (Isaiah 55:8-9). But I believed that God’s word was true.  Even though I didn’t understand how He would fulfill the promise of Scripture, I knew that he would. God was extending me the grace I needed.

His grace is sufficient. It is sufficient to meet our every need, day by day as they happen. It is also sufficient to meet our greatest need – for salvation. Let the power of God be your refuge: no matter what lies ahead, He is able to see you through it.

About the Writer:
Caroline M. is a wife and mom who loves Jesus. She also has a career in commercial real estate investing. God has given her a heart for encouraging other women. She and her husband, Eric, are the directors of the Fellowship Class, a young married Sunday School class, at First Baptist Dallas.

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Forbearance: Weathering the Sudden Storms of Our Souls

“The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace,   patience . . . ”, ah, yes, patience. (Galatians 5:22-23)  But what is meant by patience?  The Apostle Paul used the Greek word makrothumia, which means “long-tempered” or “slow to express explosive anger.”  Let’s replace patience with forbearance, the word that the NIV uses.  Websters’ Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary defines it as holding oneself back from something,” like lashing out in anger, “especially with an effort of self restraint.”  See why I prefer forbearance?

What is important is that we learn how to put it into practice.  Galatians 5:16 says, “walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh.”  Jesus said “Abide in Me  .  .  .  He who abides in Me bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.” (John 15:4-5)  We walk in the Spirit and abide in Christ, by spending time with Him daily in prayer and in His Word.  There is no other way to bear fruit!  If we want to be like Him, we must spend real time with Him, sharing our real problems with Him.

What are some of the things that make you angry?  May I encourage you to tell them to Jesus?  He knows and understands you better than anyone because He made you.  If coffee with a friend can sooth our souls, imagine what some quality time with the Lover of our souls could do!

Is exhaustion a source of your anger?  Jesus said in Matthew 11:28-29, “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.  Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.“  He is our Wonderful Counselor, and He can handle our anger, and whatever else we throw at Him.  We don’t scare Him.  He’s crazy about us and nothing we do could ever change that!

I encourage you to memorize Colossians 3:12-17, and to pray through it whenever the firestorms of anger begin to rise in you.

  • Put on tender mercies: kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering/forbearance (makrothumia).  Clothe yourself with these daily in prayer.
  • Bear with each other and forgive each other because Christ forgave us!  Unforgiveness is the source of much bitterness and anger. Forgive as an act of your will.  Tell the Lord in prayer that you forgive the one who wronged you.  You don’t have to agree with them!  You just have to forgive them!
  • Most importantly, put on LOVE!  Love bonds us together in unity.  Love is a VERB!  Our desire should be to speak the truth in love, without anger, and  to serve others through love.
  • Let the Peace of God RULE in your hearts. The idea is to let God’s peace be the referee in our hearts, the seat of our emotions. We can choose to be at peace even in the midst of turmoil!
  • Dwell on God’s Word and sing praises to Him! Praise is powerful because it invites God in, and it is a balm to our hurting hearts.
  • And WHATEVER you do, do ALL in the Name of the Lord Jesus.  Ask yourself?  Can I do this in Jesus Name?  Can I yell at a family member or colleague in Jesus Name?  How can I deal with my anger in a way that pleases Him?

2 Thessalonians 3:16 Now may the Lord of peace Himself give you peace always in every way.  The Lord be with you all!

About the Writer:
Tiffany is a cross-cultural missionary, Bible teacher, speaker, writer, and worship leader.  More than anything, she desires to be one ‘who like a tree planted by the rivers of water, brings forth its fruit in due season, whose leaves do not wither, and have whatever she does prosper’(Psalm 1:3). She is committed to abiding continually in Christ, the vine, so that she may bear much fruit in, and for Him (John 15:5).

 

Are We There Yet?

We’ve all experienced it:  some kid, maybe our own, continually asking the same question over and over again hoping to get an answer different than the one he received two seconds before.  Having to exercise patience is no fun and can be quite frustrating at times, especially if you’ve been waiting for a LONG time. But there are some things we can be focusing on during the waiting periods.

The first thing we need to realize is that just because God does not answer on our timetable, we do not have permission to assume an answer and then act according to our emotions, desires, or even logic. Waiting on God to answer is an act of obedience; obedience is simultaneous with trust; and trust is an expression of love.

The book of Habakkuk shows us some great tips when we are having to wait on an answer from God.  In chapter 2, Habakkuk shows us that we must have a determination to wait to hear from God as well as an expectation for Him to speak. Habakkuk says in verse 1,

I will stand on my guard post . . .And I will keep watch to see what He will speak to me. . . Habakkuk 2:1

God will speak to us. We have to be determined to wait on His answer.

During our waiting period, we must also isolate ourselves from distractions. If you read the book of Habakkuk, you’ll notice that Habakkuk sets up camp away from distractions so as not to be influenced by anything other than God. Again, the prophet is demonstrating his expectation and determination that God will answer him. Be warned that the waiting period is the perfect opportunity for Satan to attack us with feelings of doubt and grand ideas of logic on what we think God wants us to do.  So, be strong, sister!

Finally, Habakkuk also expects to be corrected while he is waiting on God. In the last part of Habakkuk 2:1 he says, “ . . . And how I may reply when I am reproved.”  God has something for us to learn. The lesson may be anything ranging from a correction of an action, or the actual waiting period itself. Even if His answer is a “yes” to something we desire, we must make sure we do not miss whatever it was He has been teaching us. He is the Teacher and we are the students; we must humble ourselves in view of that fact.

I like this picture because it is the perfect representation of how we all feel when we are asked to do the hardest thing: WAIT.

 About the Writer:
Natalie is a stay at home mom to a 2 year old and has another one on the way. She occasionally works as an emergency room nurse and is studying to become a Nurse Practitioner. She and her husband have been called into the medical mission field and are excited to see what the Lord has in store for their lives.

 

The Only Self Help Book You Need

I can recall clearly my prayers as a new bride. I prayed for God to change me, mature me, and to make me sufficient in my new role. With the new responsibilities that I believed came with marriage, I had many personal qualities that I wanted to refine and new skills that I wanted to learn. My weaknesses would now weigh both of us down, I convinced myself. I would anxiously read how-to articles and frustrate myself, growing impatient with the slow progression of change.

I was so focused on seeing change from day-to-day, that I missed the bigger transformation that God was already producing in me. A familiar verse to many is found in Philippians.

Philippians 1:6: For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus. 

I had heard this verse many times and used it when encouraging friends of mine in their time of despair. But I didn’t believe it for myself.

What I see now is that my impatience and dissatisfaction with myself was a result of doubt and unbelief in God. In my continuing study of scripture, I’m learning that patience requires a surrender of earthly understanding, and above all else, a complete trust in God’s faithfulness and goodness.

Scripture teaches that “with the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day.” (2 Peter 3:8) So, instead of trying to comprehend God’s timing, we must place our trust in HIS faithfulness instead of OUR understanding. That passage continues, saying that “the Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” (2 Peter 3:9)

When I forgo my acute time lens and open my heart to God’s perfect timing, I see a story of His grace and patience as he writes the testimony of my life. It’s a story that didn’t just start when I prayed as a fresh-faced wife, but had started long ago with an insecure young woman helplessly surrendering to the Lord. Upon the realization that no person, status, or thing could make me feel at peace, I’ve learned that the Bible is the only self-help book that I could ever need.

The Holy Spirit produces patience in us that is made deeper by faith.

So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of God. Romans 10:17

I can see a direct relationship between the amount of time that I spend in God’s Word and my patience. I am continually learning that God is fully faithful, fully trustworthy, and fully sovereign in my life. He proves Himself over and over again in my moments of doubt. The Lord is my strength and my salvation, and He is working on a masterpiece in my life.

About the Writer:
Audra has a passion for encouraging women in their roles at home in both marriage and motherhood. She enjoys sharing her journey of refinement and learning through these important transitions on her blog called The Homegrown Project.

 

Hands on the Hips, Heart in His Word

Being a parent isn’t easy, nor is living with any other human being. Other people, and especially children, will try our patience every day. Patience is a daily struggle for me. How many times a day do I find socks on the floor, or toys where they don’t belong? How many times do I have to ask for something simple to be done, like throwing trash in the trash can?

I can’t count how many times I’ve stood in my kitchen, hands on my hips, looking just like my mother, mustering up all the volume I could in my voice, and then the still, small voice reminds me:

A hot tempered man stirs up strife, but the slow to anger calms a dispute.  Proverbs 15:18

Sometimes I yell anyway, and when I do it doesn’t turn out so well. You see, nothing I say is as powerful as the example I set.  When I show patience with my son, my husband, even with my dogs, someone is always watching, and that someone is usually my son. My hope for him is that he will grow up to be a man who loves the Lord and lives through Christ. I can hope all I want, and I know God will get him there, but the best way to get him there is to show him.

When my hands go to my hips, perhaps it is best to remember this:

The end of something is better than its beginning. Patience is better than pride.  Ecclesiastes 7:8 NIV

Ouch.  You mean it’s pride that makes me want to lash out? Surely that wasn’t meant for me. But yes, my pride gets in the way more than just about anything. What I have learned is that patience will always win, as long as I listen to God’s voice. It will win when I choose to slowly remove my hands from my hips and the volume from my voice. It will win when I return to the center of my heart where He sits, waiting to guide my words and actions – as long as I allow him to.

About the Writer:
Wendy is a wife and mother who works full time in Risk Management.  Here at First Dallas she serves in Sunday school, helps coordinate Angel tree, and teaches at Discipleship University.  Her greatest joy comes from discovering how following Jesus can greatly impact her daily life and the lives of those she cares about in innumerable, practical ways.