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Spiritual Refreshment for Women
By Ellyn Sanna
Barbour Publishing, Inc.Copyright © 2011 Barbour Publishing, Inc.
All rights reserved.
A longing fulfilled is a tree of Life.
Proverbs 13:12 NIV
Take stock of your Life. What were you most hoping to achieve a year ago? (Or five years ago?) How many of those goals have been achieved? Sometimes, once we've reached a goal, we move on too quickly to the next one, never allowing ourselves to find the grace God wants to reveal within that achievement. With each goal reached, His grace spreads out into your Life, like a tree whose branches grow ever wider.
A Solid Foundation
A bad motive can't achieve a good end.
Proverbs 17:20 MSG
We hear it all the time: The end justifies the means. But that is not how it works in the kingdom of God. It's like trying to build a beautiful house on a shaky foundation. It just doesn't work. Sooner or later, the weak foundation will affect the rest of the house.
True achievement is built on God's grace and love. That is the kind of foundation that holds solid no matter what.
I don't mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection. But I press on to possess that perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed me.
Philippians 3:12 NLT
We are called to be perfect. Nothing else is good enough for God's people. That doesn't mean we have an inflated sense of our own worth. And it doesn't mean we beat ourselves up when we fall short of perfection. We know that in our own strength we can never hope to achieve perfection—but with God's grace, anything is possible.CHAPTER 2
People with their minds set on you, you keep completely whole, steady on their feet, because they keep at it and don't quit.
Isaiah 26:3 MSG
One of the meanings of grace is "an effortless beauty of movement." A person with this kind of grace doesn't trip over her own feet; she's not clumsy or awkward, but instead she moves easily, fluidly, steadily. From a spiritual perspective, most of us stumble quite a bit—and yet we don't give up. We know that God holds our hands, and He will keep us steady even when we would otherwise fall flat on our faces.
Jesus caught them off balance with his own test question: "What do you think about the Christ? Whose son is he?"
Matthew 22:41 MSG
Sometimes Christ asks us to find new ways of thinking ... new ways of living ... new ways of encountering Him in the world around us. That is not always easy. We don't like to be caught off balance. When our Life's equilibrium is shaken, we feel anxious, out of control. But if we rely on Christ, He will pick us up, dust us off, and give us the grace to find our balance in Him.
Therefore ... stand firm. Let nothing move you.
1 Corinthians 15:58 NIV
Some days stress comes at us from all directions. Our emotions are overwhelming. Life makes us dizzy. On days like that, don't worry about getting a lot accomplished—and don't try to make enormous leaps in your spiritual Life. Instead, simply stand in one place. Like a ballet dancer who looks at one point to keep her balance while she twirls, fix your eyes on Jesus.
Grounded in Love
"You'll be built solid, grounded in righteousness, far from any trouble— nothing to fear!"
Isaiah 54:12 MSG
Balance isn't something we can achieve in ourselves. Just when we think we have it all together, Life has a tendency to come crashing down around our ears. But even in the midst of Life's most chaotic moments, God gives us grace; He keeps us balanced in His love. Like a building that is built to sway in an earthquake without falling down, we will stay standing if we remain grounded in His love.
People with integrity walk safely, but those who follow crooked paths will slip and fall.
Proverbs 10:9 NLT
Achieving balance in Life is seldom easy. We're likely to go too far in first one direction and then another. But despite our tendency to wobble, God's grace leads us always forward. He keeps us from staggering too far off the path. As we follow Him, choosing a path of integrity rather than one of selfishness and lies, we will find our way easier, our footing surer, and our balance steadier.CHAPTER 3
What matters is not your outer appearance—the styling of your hair, the jewelry you wear, the cut of your clothes—but your inner disposition. Cultivate inner beauty, the gentle, gracious kind that God delights in.
1 Peter 3:3-4 MSG
We want to be beautiful. It's a longing that has been in our hearts since we were little girls. As grown-up women, we can become overly worried about our appearance, fretting over whether we measure up to the demanding standards of that little girl who still lives in our hearts. We need to relax in the assurance of God's grace within us. As we allow His Spirit to shine through us, we will find our deepest, truest beauty.CHAPTER 4
Your word is a lamp to guide my feet and a light for my path.
Psalm 119:105 NLT
We sometimes take the Scriptures for granted. These ancient words, though, continue to shine with light just as they Did centuries ago. In them, God's grace is revealed to us. In them, we gain new insight into ourselves and our lives.
For the word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires.
Hebrews 4:12 NLT
God's words are not merely letters on a page. They are living things that work their way into our hearts and minds, revealing the fears and hopes we've kept hidden away, sometimes even from ourselves. Like a doctor's scalpel that cuts in order to heal, God's Word slices through our carefully created facades and exposes our deepest truths.
I inherited your book on living; it's mine forever—what a gift! And how happy it makes me!
Psalm 119:111 MSG
Think of it! God's Word is ours. We can hear His voice in scripture—and apply it to our own lives. Generation upon generation has followed this amazing book of Life, and now it is our turn. In the Bible, each and every day, we find God's grace revealed.CHAPTER 5
Just What We Need
God can pour on the blessings in astonishing ways so that you're ready for anything and everything, more than just ready to do what needs to be done.
2 Corinthians 9:8 MSG
Blessings are God's grace visible to us in tangible form. Sometimes they are so small we nearly overlook them—the sun on our faces, the smile of a friend, or food on the table—but other times they amaze us. Day by day, God's grace makes us ready for whatever comes our way. He gives us exactly what we need.
Life and Nourishment
"I, the Lord, am the one who answers your prayers and watches over you. I am like a green pine tree; your blessings come from me."
Hosea 14:8 NCV
Think of it: God is like a tree growing at the center of your Life! In the shade of this tree, you find shelter. This tree is ever green, with deep roots that draw up Life and nourishment. Each one of Life's daily blessings is the fruit of this tree. It is the source of all your Life, all your joy, and all your being.
"Bless those who curse you. Pray for those who hurt you."
Luke 6:28 NLT
Not only does God bless us, but we are called to bless others. God wants to show the world His grace through us. He can do this when we show our commitment to make God's love real in the world around us through our words and actions, as well as through our prayer Life. We offer blessings to others when we greet a scowl with a smile, when we refuse to respond to angry words, and when we offer understanding to those who are angry and hurt.
"But blessed are those who trust in the Lord and have made the Lord their hope and confidence."
Jeremiah 17:7 NLT
What gives you confidence? Is it your clothes ... your money ... your skills? These are all good things, but they are blessings from God, given to you through His grace. When your hopes (in other words, your expectations for the future) rest only in God, then you can walk confidently, knowing He will never disappoint you.CHAPTER 6
Don't you see that children are God's best gift?
Psalm 127:3 MSG
Whether we have children of our own or enjoy others' children, God's grace is revealed to us in a special way through these small people. In children, we catch a glimpse of what God intended for us all, before we grew up and let Life cloud our hearts. Children's hope gives us grown-ups hope as well. Their laughter makes us smile, and their love reminds us that we, too, are loved by God.
"I will teach all your children, and they will enjoy great peace."
Isaiah 54:13 NLT
It's hard not to worry about the children in our lives. Many dangers threaten them, and our world is so uncertain. We can do our best to teach and guide the children we love, but in the end we must trust them to God's grace, knowing that they must find their own relationship with Him—and that as they know Him, they will find peace, even in the midst of the world's uncertainty.
A Special Kind of Grace
Oh, how blessed are you parents, with your quivers full of children! Your enemies don't stand a chance against you; you'll sweep them right off your doorstep.
Psalm 127: 4–5 MSG
What are your worst enemies? Despair? Self-doubt? Selfishness? We all face enemies like these. But God's grace comes to us in a special way through children. As we love them, we find hope; we focus outward and forget about ourselves. And somehow those funny little people manage to sweep our enemies right off the doorsteps of our hearts!
"The greatest among you must become like the youngest."
Luke 22:26 NRSV
In some ways, we need to look to children as our role models. We get so used to functioning in the adult world, loaded down with responsibilities, that we forget the child's knack for living in the present moment, for taking delight in small things, for loving unconditionally. Jesus asks us to let go of our grown-up dignity and allow ourselves to enter into His presence as children. When we do, we encounter His grace anew.
From everlasting to everlasting the Lord's love is with those who fear him, and his righteousness with their children's children.
Psalm 103:17 NIV
We can rely on God's love not only for ourselves but also for the children in our lives, those little people we love, whose lives we touch. As we send those children out into the world so terribly vulnerable, we can know with absolute certainty that God's grace goes with them. Just as God's love reached us through our parents and the other adults who shaped our lives, God will also spread His love to the generations to come.CHAPTER 7
The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.
Psalm 19:1 NIV
Grace is as near as the sky over your head. Look up and be reminded of how wonderful God truly is. The same God who created the sun and the atmosphere, the stars and the galaxies, the same God who day by day creates a new sunrise and a new sunset, that same God loves you and creates beauty in your Life each day!
"Walk out into the fields and look at the wildflowers."
Matthew 6:28 MSG
Take the time to go outdoors. Look at nature. You don't have to spend hours to realize how beautiful God made the world. A single flower, if you really look at it, could be enough to fill you with awe. Sometimes we only need something very simple to remind us of God's grace.
Law of Love
I pondered the direction of my Life, and I turned to follow your laws.
Psalm 119:59 NLT
Did you know that the word lawcomes from root words that mean "foundation" or "something firm and fixed"? Sometimes we can't help but feel confused and uncertain. When that happens, turn to God's law, His rule for living. Love is His law, the foundation that always holds firm. When we cling to that, we find direction.
Without good direction, people lose their way; the more wise counsel you follow, the better your chances.
Proverbs 11:14 MSG
Often God makes use of other people when He wants to guide you. His grace flows to you through others' experiences and wisdom. Keep your ears open for His voice speaking to you through the good advice of those you trust.
Grace for Each Day
May the Lord direct your hearts into God's love and Christ's perseverance.
2 Thessalonians 3:5 NIV
Allow God to lead you each day. His grace will lead you deeper and deeper into the love of God—a love that heals your wounds and works through you to touch those around you. Just as Christ never gave up but let love lead Him all the way to the cross, so, too, God will direct you all the way, giving you the strength and the courage you need to face each challenge.
Closer to Him
"When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own but will tell you what he has heard."
John 16:13 NLT
God's Spirit is truth. In Him there are no lies. You can trust Him absolutely to lead you ever closer to God. This is how you recognize true grace: It will always bring you nearer to the One who loves you most, the God who created you and gave Himself for you. If you find yourself somewhere else, you have not been following the Spirit.CHAPTER 8
But since we belong to the day, let us be self-controlled, putting on faith and love as a breastplate, and the hope of salvation as a helmet.
1 Thessalonians 5:8 NIV
We sometimes think of discipline as a negative thing, as something that asks us to sacrifice and punish ourselves. But really the word has more to do with the grace we receive from instruction and learning, from following a master. Like an athlete who follows her coach's leading, we are called to follow our Master, wearing His uniform of love and His helmet of hope.
"Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves me."
John 12:26 NIV
A disciple is someone who follows. That is the discipline we practice: We follow Jesus. Wherever He is, we go. In His presence we find the daily grace we need to live. As we serve Him, God honors us; He affirms our dignity and makes us all we were meant to be.
Don't sin by letting anger control you. Think about it overnight and remain silent.
Psalm 4:4 NLT
A disciple must practice certain skills until she becomes good at them. As Christ's disciples, we are called to live like Him. The challenge of that calling is often hardest in Life's small, daily frustrations, especially with the people we love the most. But as we practice saying no to anger, controlling it rather than allowing it to control us, God's grace helps us develop new skills, even ones we never thought possible!
Excerpted from Everyday Grace by Ellyn Sanna. Copyright © 2011 Barbour Publishing, Inc.. Excerpted by permission of Barbour Publishing, Inc..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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