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INFINITE GRACETHE DEVOTIONAL
By Patsy Clairmont Mary Graham Nicole Johnson Carol Kent Marilyn Meberg Sandi Patty Jan Silvious Luci Swindoll Sheila Walsh Thelma Wells
Thomas NelsonCopyright © 2008 Patsy Clairmont, Mary Graham, Nicole Johnson, Carol Kent, Marlyn Meberg, Sandi Patty, Jan Silvious, Luci Swindoll, Sheila Walsh, Thelma Wells
All right reserved.
Chapter OneGrace That Knows No Limits Sheila Walsh
The next day as the three travelers were approaching the town, Peter went out on the balcony to pray. It was about noon. Peter got hungry and started thinking about lunch. While lunch was being prepared, he fell into a trance. He saw the skies open up. Something that looked like a huge blanket lowered by ropes at its four corners settled on the ground. Every kind of animal and reptile and bird you could think of was on it. Then a voice came: "Go to it, Peter-kill and eat." Peter said, "Oh, no, Lord. I've never so much as tasted food that was not kosher." The voice came a second time: "If God says it's okay, it's okay." -Acts 10:9-15 MSG
When our son, Christian, was seven years old, he announced to his dad and me that he needed a dog. I was impressed with his choice of verb. As a child I told my mom that I wanted a dog and never got one. I now realize that it might have been as simple as my misuse of the English language! When I asked Christian why he needed a dog, his explanation made total sense to me. "Mom, I am an only child. I need someone to talk to." I reminded him that he had his dad and me to talk to, but Christian wisely replied, "No, I need someone to talk to about you."
So after some careful research, we added Belle to our family. Belle is a beautiful bichon frise with the huge plus that she does not shed. I used to have a golden retriever, and I could have stuffed cushions with the amount of fur he cast off daily.
Almost three years later, Christian announced that he was concerned about Belle. She seemed fine to me-perhaps a little overweight, but hey, I had no stones to throw. I asked him what he thought her problem was. "She's lonely," he said. "There's nothing worse than a lonely bichon." So Tink was added to our motley crew. She too is a bichon frise but from the French line as opposed to the American. Her fur is longer and silkier, yet it stays firmly attached to her frame, so all is well.
As far as I could tell, we were done. Belle no longer required therapy, and she and Tink get along fairly well. Like children they have very different personalities. Belle lives to please me, and Tink dances to the beat of "Wild Thing!" Peace appeared to reign, but life was about to take an unexpected twist in the road.
I was sitting in the departure lounge at Little Rock airport. The other Women of Faith speakers and I had just finished our first conference of 2007, and we were all exhausted. Most weekends we can't get a flight back to Dallas until Sunday morning, but we had all been able to get on the last flight out on Saturday night.
I was sitting on the floor talking to Luci when my cell phone rang. It was Christian. It was a poor connection, and I could only make out snippets of what he was saying. It sounded something like this: "Pet store ... Shivering ... Poor dog ... Dad said if you said ... Mom?"
I have no idea what I mumbled, but the minute I sat down on the plane, the picture became alarmingly clear. I hurriedly sent a text message to my husband, Barry: Please tell me we don't have another dog!
The reply came back: Yes we do, and his name is Trevor.
I quickly typed: What is he?
The response was: He is a Wiener dog!
My first thought of panic was replaced by a fond memory. When I was a little girl my father bought me a Wiener dog, but after my father became ill we had to get rid of her. Perhaps God is giving me back what I lost, I mused to myself in a sleep-deprived haze. Then I got home!
Whatever Trevor is, the word Wiener does not accurately describe his size. Salami perhaps, but not Wiener. He looks as if he is 10 percent Wiener and 90 percent Rottweiler. His paws are the size of dinner plates. After my initial shock at Trevor's unusual appearance, what was interesting to me was how Belle and Tink responded to him. They are very friendly dogs and normally love to meet up with dogs of all shapes and sizes, but they definitely gave Trevor the cold shoulder. They walked around him once or twice and then with a shake of their perfectly groomed heads left him in their dust. I hate to say it, but I have two bichon snobs-prejudiced pooches.
Two of the first sins of the fall of Adam and Eve were prejudice and separation. Adam blamed Eve, and Eve blamed the serpent. But the sin was more pronounced in their sons, Cain and Abel. When Cain compared himself to Abel and saw that God showed favor on Abel's offering and not on his, hatred began to grow inside him like a cancer. And like many cancers, Cain's hatred led to death-not his own, but the murder of his brother Abel.
There is something in our sinful brokenness that wants to compare ourselves to others and say who gets to be "in" and who is left out in the cold. Trevor received no points from the bichon frise judges, just as the Gentiles received no points from the Jews. During the time of Christ, there was no love lost between the Jews and the Gentiles. In some rabbinical writings, devout Jews actually believed that God allowed Gentiles to be born to fuel the fires of hell. Jews referred to Gentiles as "dogs." But because of the boundless grace of God, that was all about to change.
Peter was a changed man after the resurrection of Christ. He was bold and fearless as he shared the good news that Messiah had come and there was forgiveness of sins. He set out on a mission trip with John and saw God perform many miracles. Peter and John traveled to Samaria to join Phillip in the revival happening there, and in Joppa he saw Dorcas brought back from the dead. But God was about to prepare Peter for a whole new world.
In Caesarea lived an Italian centurion named Cornelius who feared God. One day an angel appeared to him and told him that God, in his boundless grace, saw Cornelius's heart and had answered his prayers. The angel told Cornelius to send for a man named Peter who was staying with Simon the tanner. At the same time as this was taking place in Caesarea, Peter was watching a movie sent from God on a rooftop by the sea in Joppa. In this vision Peter was asked to eat food that a devout Jew would never touch. The voice in Peter's vision told him that if God says this is okay, then it's okay. By the time Cornelius's messenger made it to Peter, the apostle's heart was ready to accept the invitation to come to Caesarea and share the gospel with the Gentiles.
God's boundless grace has no room for prejudice. Every man, woman, and child is made and loved by God. He sees no distinction between races and colors, wealth and poverty, the cultured and the coarse. I see no greater challenge extended to the church today than this: to share the boundless grace of God that knows no limits to everyone we meet.
Now, how do I get that across to Belle and Tink?
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Lord, I admit that sometimes I turn a cold shoulder to people who aren't like me. Help me to view others the way you see them-as your precious and beloved creations. And give me opportunities today to share your boundless, limitless grace with everyone I meet. Amen.
Excerpted from INFINITE GRACE by Patsy Clairmont Mary Graham Nicole Johnson Carol Kent Marilyn Meberg Sandi Patty Jan Silvious Luci Swindoll Sheila Walsh Thelma Wells Copyright © 2008 by Patsy Clairmont, Mary Graham, Nicole Johnson, Carol Kent, Marlyn Meberg, Sandi Patty, Jan Silvious, Luci Swindoll, Sheila Walsh, Thelma Wells. Excerpted by permission.
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