Grace and Peace

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This year in my quiet time I am reading through and studying Paul’s letters. I am starting with Philippians and from time to time I will share with you and offer some encouragement from God’s word as we follow Christ.

One thing I have noticed from reading his letters over the years is that Paul greets his readers with “grace and peace”. Sometimes it so easy to quickly read over what we think are simple words to get to the “meat” of the text. As I began to slowly read and observe (thanking God for my Precept training) I kept coming back to grace and peace. These are not simple words and just a way to greet someone in a letter. I did a word study, (I love my Key Word Study Bible and http://www.blueletterbible.org) and am amazed at the depth of Paul’s greeting and meaning of these 2 little words.

I want to encourage you with this greeting from Paul and may we encourage each other.

May God’s holy influence upon your souls that first turned you to Christ, keep, strengthen and increase your faith. May you grow in your knowledge, faith and love to enable you to live your Christian life.
May His peace which is the safety, security and tranquil state of your soul through Jesus Christ assure you of your salvation.
(Philippians 1:2-based upon definitions of grace and peace)

As we are on this journey of living Inside Out, we need to rest in the grace and peace of God and extend it to others.
I would love for you to join me as I go through Philippians this year and share your insights.

Grace and Peace!

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A Passion For God’s Word

all scripture

My passion is to study the Bible and encourage women to do the same. God’s word is living and life changing when we get to know and apply it to our lives. It is vital we know His word and what it says to grow in our relationship with the Lord.

As a new year begins one goal that many want to accomplish is to read and study the Bible more.
To encourage you in your goal I am sharing the top post of 2013. In this post three of my friends share their love and passion for Scripture.

I am excited to have Melissa Deming, Christina Fox and Jessalyn Hutto share with us their passion for God, His Word and Bible study. I am so thankful for these ladies. They encourage, teach and mentor women daily with truth from Scripture. You will be blessed reading their comments.

Melissa Deming
The more I study the Bible, the more I discover its beauty. Far from being an old boring book full of tedious names and stuffy stories, the Holy Scriptures are a literary masterpiece. It’s why in many circles one cannot be considered well-read until he or she has grappled with the scope of the biblical storyline, interacted with its flawed characters, risen and plummeted through its rollercoaster plot, and cheered over the piercing resolution at the end of the story. Only a masterpiece can maintain a unified story that stretches over 66 books, from beginning to end – Genesis to Revelation. Only a masterpiece can utilize such literary devices that make Western epics and modern titles seem pale.
For example, did you know that the book of Ruth was written using a daunting (and very rare) literary device called a chiasm? The book is structured in layers with the outer layers mirroring each other and the inner layers mirroring each other. Where the layers finally meet in the middle, the reader finds the main point of the entire story. And oh, the middle section of Ruth (where the layers meet) a lovely place to dwell, indeed, as God provides our heroine a kinsman-redeemer!
God’s inspiration is of the very best kind. Believers need not be ashamed to take pleasure in studying God’s Word over other books. The Word of God is robust and grand. I study it because it is life-giving. I study it because it is life-changing. I study it because it is living! But I also study it because it is truly lovely – a literary masterpiece unparalleled. And why wouldn’t it be? Its author is, after all, the God who imagined colors, the God who fashioned the delicate wings of the butterfly, and the God who painted the evening sunset – all through his spoken Word. Could we expect any less grandeur from his written Word as well?

Melissa Deming 2
Melissa has a M.Div. in Women’s Studies from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary and a B.A. in Journalism from Texas A&M University. Melissa and her husband, Jonathan, is helping start a church plant in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. They have five-year-old twin boys, Zacharias and Jonah.
Melissa has written a new Bible study: Daughters of the King!
http://www.hiveresources.com

Christina Fox
Following the resurrection, Jesus met Cleopas and another disciple on the road to Emmaus. Not realizing who he was, they told him what had happened in Jerusalem. Jesus responded, “How foolish you are, and how slow to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Did not the Messiah have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?” And He explained to them the Scriptures. And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself” (Luke 24:25-27).
I often wonder what that conversation was like for those disciples. All of a sudden, the stories they’d heard their whole life fell into place. From Creation to Moses to David to the prophets, all of Scripture is about Jesus. “He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together” (Colossians 1:15-17).
This is why I study Scripture, to know this Jesus in whom “all things hold together.” He is the exact representation of the invisible God, who took on flesh, lived in this sinful world without sin, was despised and rejected, and died so that I might live. All of Scripture points to him; Jesus is the scarlet thread woven throughout all of God’s Word.
Like reading letters from the one we love, reading Scripture opens my eyes to God’s great love and mercy for me through Jesus Christ. Every year, I go through the Bible from beginning to end, reading the beautiful story of love, a story of sin and redemption, of runaway sinners and a holy God revealing his plan to pursue and bring them back to himself. In finding Jesus in the pages of Scripture, my heart resonates with Cleopas and his friend when they said, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?” (Luke 24:32) Because the more I read, the more I see how much I need a Savior and just how great a sacrifice it was when God became man and dwelt among us. “This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins” (1 John 4:10). And the more I study, the more I love him in return.

Christina Fox
Christina, her husband and 2 boys live in Florida. She received a Master’s degree in Counseling Psychology and worked in the counseling field for about eight years before her oldest son was born. She no longer practices as a counselor but spends her time writing for various websites and publications. She is in her third year of homeschooling, a Bible study leader, Sunday school teacher, and facilitates a women’s discipleship group.
http://www.toshowthemjesus.com

Jessalyn Hutto
From my earliest days as a Christian, I was taught the importance of studying the Word of God. My church leaders and mentors stressed the need for me to be a diligent student of my Bible: reading it, memorizing it, meditating on it, and studying it. As I have grown in my walk with the Lord I’ve come to view bible study as less of a discipline and more as a nutritional necessity for my spiritual life. Knowing God, which is the sole purpose of studying his word, is my greatest desire because he is the source of all joy, peace, comfort, and hope. It is for this reason that I continue to come back to my copy of the Word day after day, seeking to understand it properly, and praying for a more complete vision of our holy and wondrous God. His Word is a precious gift to us and we rob ourselves of immense blessing if we don’t seek to mine its depths and understand its content.

Jessalyn Hutto 2
Jessalyn is married to Richard and they have 3 little boys. When her husband graduates from seminary in December they are looking forward to where God leads them in ministry. Her greatest desire is to encourage women to trust in the grace of our Lord and Savior, not only for salvation, but for the strength to daily live a Christ-exalting life.
http://www.desiringvirtue.com

Please share your comments from the following questions:

What do you love about God’s Word and the study of it?

What are you goals for the new year to be in the Word?

Do you follow any specific reading plan?

I would love to connect with you by Facebook, Email or Twitter by clicking the links on the sidebar.

Christmas Should Not Be Stressful

Holiday-stress

The holidays can be discouraging and stressful on many people, especially women.
I hear and read comments (I have been there myself) about all the things that most feel they have to get done. The thoughts of sending Christmas cards, buying the perfect gift, baking all the cookies, decorating, attending parties, etc… can be overwhelming.

We need to take a break, stop and think on Jesus. He is the Promised One who came to rescue and redeem us from our sin. He came to earth as a baby- to die!

Have we become so familiar with the Christmas story and the songs we don’t really think about the words as we are busy preparing for the “big day”? I know I have and I want to begin now to change my thought process. I do not want to be mindlessly singing the Christmas songs and reading the Advent Scriptures. I want to really take the time to meditate on the words, worship and serve my King, Jesus.

adore Him

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and forevermore. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will do this.
Isaiah 9:6-7

Jesus is not just a baby in a manger to sing sweet songs about.
He is: Immanuel, God with us
Wonderful Counselor
Mighty God
Everlasting Father
Prince of Peace
There will be no end to His kingdom of peace, justice and righteousness
(Isaiah 7:14, 9:6-7)

But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, who are too little to be among the clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler in Israel, whose coming forth is from of old, from ancient days. Therefore he shall give them up until the time when she who is in labor has given birth; then the rest of his brothers shall return to the people of Israel.
And he shall stand and shepherd his flock in the strength of the LORD, in the majesty of the name of the LORD his God. And they shall dwell secure, for now he shall be great to the ends of the earth. And he shall be their peace (Micah 5:2-5a)

Jesus, the coming Messiah, born in the little, insignificant town of Bethlehem is the Promised One, King of kings and Lord of lords , eternal ruler who is great and reigns over all to the ends of the earth.
He is the Great Shepherd that stands, actively shepherding His flock.
In the strength and majesty of the LORD He leads, guides and meets all our need.
He is our peace; therefore we are secure in Him.

Our greatest need and peace is only found in Jesus. He came to make peace between us and God, bringing us into relationship with the Father. We are eternally secure in His steadfast love. (Micah 7:18-19)

The words to this carol are so powerful and humbling to cause worship and praise of our Lord!

Hark! the herald angels sing
Glory to the newborn King
Peace on earth and mercy mild
God and sinners reconcile.
Joyful all ye nations rise
Join the triumph of the skies;
with the angelic host proclaim
‘Christ is born in Bethlehem’
Hark! the herald angels sing
Glory to the newborn King.

Christ by highest heaven adored
Christ the everlasting Lord
Late in time behold him come,
Offspring of a virgin’s womb.
Veiled in flesh the Godhead see;
Hail, the incarnate deity,
Pleased as Man with Man to dwell,
Jesus, our Emmanuel!
Hark! the herald angels sing,
Glory to the newborn King.

Hail, the heaven-born Prince of peace!
Hail the Son of righteousness!
Light and life to all he brings,
Risen with healing in his wings.
Mild he lays his glory by,
Born that man no more may die,
Born to raise the sons of earth,
Born to give them second birth.
Hark! the herald angels sing,
Glory to the newborn King.
(Charles Wesley)

Please share your your thoughts, Scripture and songs that you love during this time.

I would love to connect with you on Facebook, Twitter or Email. The links are on the sidebar.

This Christmas

Family time, decorating, traditions and fun are an important part but I was focusing on who I did not have or get to spend time with instead of Who had me and my relationship with Him!

Inside Out

I have come to realize that in the last several years around this time I start to become “blue”. Not a depression but an underlying sense of sadness. There was no desire to put up a tree or decorate if was just going to be Dave and I….why bother, too much work just for us and other excuses I would make.

When the children were young it was a fun family time and we looked forward to it every year. Thanksgiving was always a favorite time then the rest of the month we prepared for Christmas celebrations and celebrating Jesus’ birth.
Over the years they got married and started their own families and traditions, rightly so. We moved away seven years ago for my husband’s job so our time together at the holidays became few and far between. The thoughts of “why bother, Christmas is really for the children” or…

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God Is With Us

Immanuel

She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins. All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet:
“Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel”, which means, God with us. (Matthew 1:21-23)

Immanuel, God is with us; what an amazing thing to realize that God is with us! He sent Jesus to save us from our sins, brought us into relationship with Him, and never leaves us alone!
During the Christmas season more people are feeling alone, hopeless, depressed and caught up in “too much to do”.
To help overcome these thoughts, feelings and busyness we need to stop, really think on, and remind ourselves that Immanuel has come, God is with me and I am never alone!

Gods presence

How has knowing God is with you now helped you?

Jesus, The Joy Of Christmas

religious-christmas-clipart_1joy of christmas

Beginning this Christmas season I want my thoughts on Jesus and God’s plan for our redemption to be my focus. I usually don’t get caught up in the shopping, cooking, planning but I realized just the same that my focus still was not on Jesus as it should be.

During this Advent time I want to focus on Jesus, the Joy of Christmas. As I am encouraged through the Scripture I would love to encourage you too through several posts this month: Jesus, The Joy Of Christmas.

Praise the LORD! Praise, O servants of the LORD, praise the name of the LORD!
Blessed be the name of the LORD from this time forth and forevermore!
From the rising of the sun to its setting, the name of the LORD is to be praised!
The LORD is high above all nations, and his glory above the heavens!
Who is like the LORD our God, who is seated on high,
who looks far down on the heavens and the earth?
He raises the poor from the dust and lifts the needy from the ash heap,
to make them sit with princes, with the princes of his people.
He gives the barren woman a home, making her the joyous mother of children.
Praise the LORD!
Psalm 113

We can celebrate, praise and worship our sovereign God this Christmas season because no matter who or where we are God rescued and redeemed us by Jesus coming to earth. We are changed, have hope, a future and a relationship with Him!

All was messed up, sin and death came into the world; but with God’s judgment came a promise. God’s Promised One, Jesus will come to crush the enemy, rescue and save! (Genesis 3)

In the busyness of shopping, baking and making plans for Christmas, stop and think about why the Promised One, Jesus came. It should stop us in our tracks; fill us with joy and thankfulness because we are not getting what we deserve. We have been rescued, received mercy, grace and salvation!

“Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and will not be afraid; for the LORD GOD is my strength and my song, and he has become my salvation.” Isaiah 12:2

I would love to hear from you the Scripture and thoughts you have as you celebrate Jesus, The Joy Of Christmas!

Also, it would be great to connect with you on Facebook, Twitter or Email with the links on the sidebar.

Christmas Book Giveaways

I am giving away 2 Christmas Devotionals (Kindle version) today on my Facebook page.

why Christmas
Why Christmas by Barbara Reaoch that is helpful to explain why we celebrate Christmas to our children. This is a daily devotional that begins December 1 with Scripture reading, memory verse and a Christmas carol with questions to direct your child’s heart towards God.

Christmas with Jesus book
Celebrate Christmas With Jesus by Max Lucado
This is a 30 day devotional that brings to light many events in the life of Jesus from birth to ascension that demonstrate His omnipotence and the gift God has given.

To enter, “like” my Facebook page from the link on the side bar, leave a comment below and what book you would like to win.

A winner for each book will be drawn randomly at 10:00 p.m.

Advent Devotional Book Giveaway

counting the days lighting the candles

The holidays are fast approaching and it is so easy to get caught up in the busyness of  this season, buying  gifts , decorating,  cooking special foods and preparing for celebrations that we tend to forget  to focus on the Greatest Gift – Jesus and why we celebrate Christmas.

I am excited about a new Advent devotional by Elyse Fitzpatrick and Jessica Thompson- Counting The Days, Lighting The Candles.

I am giving away 1 copy of this this devotional that will help you and your family rejoice and rest in the holiday season.  The devotions begin December 1 and all through the month with separate readings for adults and children for each day.  It also includes 4 activity suggestions that will enhance your family’s experience during the season.

A winner will be drawn randomly Monday, November 25 at 10:00 p.m.

To enter click on the link below:
a Rafflecopter giveaway

I would love to connect with you through Facebook, Twitter and Email, the links are on the sidebar

Life Is Hard But God Is Good

life hard god good

Are you going through a hard time, feel as if you are in the pit and nothing seems to go right?

We all get discouraged and struggle at times. We can be fearful, lack  peace and have thoughts of hopelessness. These can come either from sin in our lives, from other peoples actions towards us, circumstances beyond our control and just living this life.

I want to encourage you that all is not lost, there is always forgiveness, peace, hope and a future because we have a  good God, who loves, pleads our case and redeems!

As you read these verses from Lamentations 3 take them to heart, really think on them and be encouraged by how much God loves you.

This I call to mind, and therefore I have hope:  The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul, “therefore I will hope in him.” The Lord is good to those who wait for him, to the soul who seeks him.  It is good that one should wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord (21-26)

Why should a living man complain, a man, about the punishment of his sins? Let us test and examine our ways, and return to the Lord! Let us lift up our hearts and hands to God in heaven (39-41)

I called on your name, O Lord,   from the depths of the pit; you heard my plea, ‘Do not close your ear to my cry for help!’  You came near when I called on you; you said, ‘Do not fear!’ “You have taken up my cause, O Lord; you have redeemed my life. (55-58)

When we think about and remember God and His character we have hope.

The steadfast love of God toward us is covenant love that encompasses grace, mercy, goodness, forgiveness, truth, compassion and faithfulness.

He is our portion, meaning all sufficient, all we need, more than enough- therefore we have hope.

As bleak as a situation is because of this love His mercies are new every morning and He is always faithful and keeps His promises so we can have hope.

All God does is good and He is always good to those who seek hope and wait for Him.

We should not complain when we are punished for our sins but instead examine our ways, repent and offer praise and thanksgiving to God for forgiveness.

God will hear our prayer from the depths of the pit. He tells us not to fear but to trust Him.

God is our advocate who takes up our cause, or literally case and redeems our lives.

As Jeremiah said God takes up our cause, we see in 1 John 2:1 that Jesus continues to do this for us- My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.

Remember when you are fearful, in distress, hopeless, having lack peace or in sin we have an advocate who is faithful, always forgives and redeems!

great faithfulness

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Remember Who You Are

I needed this reminder today to remember who I am in Christ! I am God’s adopted daughter and my identity is found in Him, not in anything or anyone else.

Inside Out

identity-christ

Do you ever struggle with your identity?

Do you ask yourself “who am I” or “do I have a purpose”?

When I struggle or doubt who I am, I go to God’s word to remind me of the truth.

In Ephesians 1:1-14 Paul is blessing God for blessing us with every spiritual blessing in Christ. These blessings are our identity when we are in relationship with God.

It is not what the world, others or we tell ourselves. We have to believe what God says.

Who are we from Ephesians 1:1-14?
Chosen before the foundation of the world to be holy and blameless!
We have been predestined to be adopted in love by His will!
We have grace freely given and lavished on us!
We are redeemed!
We are forgiven!
He made know to us the mystery of His will!
We have an inheritance!
We have been predestined according to…

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