Tag Archives: grace

Parting Words From The WORD…It Is Done or It Is Finished?

jesus holding cross lost seed dot com

I think I’ve mentioned that Gary and I are in the middle of a 18-24 month study of Revelation. It has been an amazing journey, digging deep and learning the details of John’s vision of the Tribulation. Prior to beginning this study, I knew about the Great Day of the Lord, but had no idea of the depth of the horror of it.

Every week has been eye-opening, but none so much as this week’s study of Chapter 16 covering the last seven judgements, the Seven Bowls of God’s Wrath. From boils, to blood-filled seas, to blood-filled rivers, to people scorched with fire by the sun, to darkness, and to a dried up Euphrates.

Finally, the seventh angel pours his bowl into the air and:

…out of the temple came a loud voice from the throne, saying, “It is done!” Then there came flashes of lightning , rumblings, peals of thunder and a severe earthquake. No earthquake like it has ever occurred since man has been on earth, so tremendous was the quake. The great city split into three parts, and the cities of the nations collapsed…Every island fled away and the mountains could not be found. From the sky huge hailstones of about a hundred pounds each fell upon men. And they cursed God on account of the plague of hail, because the plague was so terrible.
Revelation 16:17b-19a, 20-21 NIV

A loud voice from the throne shouts, “It is done!” and the earth shakes…And the price is paid for sin.

The power of those words immediately took me back to a similar scene. But at the cross, God’s Son shouts, “It is finished!” and the earth shakes…And the price is paid for sin.

Two three-word sentences that change the course of history. One gives life. One takes it away.

After studying Revelation for almost a year, it appears that the signs are clear and time is drawing near. God is serious. We must be, too.

I love Him because He loved me first, and gave His life for me.

Vonda

(I don’t think I’ve ever specifically asked you to share a post, but would you share this one? Somebody’s eternal life could depend on it.)

Image courtesy of LostSeed.com

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Parting Words From the WORD…We Remember…

Laughing Jesus by Robert Wilson, Sr.

Laughing Jesus by Robert Wilson, Sr.

As Christians, we know we have been set free. From the moment we truly give our hearts to Christ and seek to live for Him, we know our sins are as far as the east is from the west, hidden beneath the deepest ocean, and no longer remembered by God.

But we aren’t God. We remember. And we hold tight to those memories, giving an ear to Satan and his condemnation. Perhaps you’re like me and have a relative or acquaintance who never lets you forget how miserably you fail at being perfect, like Christ.

Sometimes believers even wallow in the failures themselves, convinced that they are worthless to God because of those failures.

But God has a different plan through the death and resurrection of His Son, Jesus Christ. The scriptures are clear that through Him we truly can be set free.

I once read this short verse about freedom and was surprised that I’d never really considered the power and profound truth it proclaims.

It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery. Galatians 5:1

Christ died, was buried, and arose for our freedom from the slavery of sin. Paul instructs us to deny and refuse to carry the burden anymore.

We are new creations, freed from the old, delighting in the new. Praise Him!

I pray God’s blessing on the work of your hands and your hearts,

Vonda

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Parting Words From The WORD…How Good is My Sacrifice?

Laughing Jesus by Robert Wilson, Sr.

Laughing Jesus by Robert Wilson, Sr.

As we’ve discussed before, I’ve been competitive all my life. It doesn’t matter whether it’s leg-wrestling or a game of Pigtail, I WANT TO WIN!

We’ve also discussed in the past how easy it is to get lulled into the lie of a works-grace, especially if we’re naturally competitive and struggle with a check-off mentality. Oh, we know that salvation is only through grace and not something we have earned, and yet, when we least expect it, Satan can ratchet up the pressure and insinuate his lies into His truth.

Yesterday, as I continued my Bible study of Planted: Sit, Stand, and Walk with Jesus , Annie Pajcic addressed the subject of obedience. As I reflected on the topic of obedience, I remembered the story of Saul and how the Lord commanded him to destroy King Agag, all the Amalekites, all their families, and all their possessions.

But Saul had a better idea. Yes, he destroyed all the people, but he captured King Agag. He killed all the Amalekites and their families, but kept the best sheep and cattle. Bottom line, he disobeyed God.

Although Saul defended his actions by saying he did it for the Lord and saved the best animals to offer as sacrifices to God, Samuel responded with these powerful words:

“Does the Lord delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices
    as much as in obeying the Lord?
To obey is better than sacrifice,
    and to heed is better than the fat of rams.
For rebellion is like the sin of divination,
    and arrogance like the evil of idolatry.
Because you have rejected the word of the Lord,
    he has rejected you as king.”
I Samuel 15:22-23

Samuel’s words reminded me that all the great things we may do for God don’t count for much if we aren’t sincerely following His commands. Are we following the letter of the law, but ignoring the spirit of it? Are we proclaiming Christ and Him crucified, but finding fault with everyone around us? Are we writing books to change hearts, but hardening our own hearts to the concept of grace for all?

Friends, we can write books and articles, create great programs, visit prisoners, go on mission trips, and give back more than the tithe, but if it’s done with a works mentality and a judgmental heart, if we’re not following the Lord’s commands found in His Word, our sacrifices of talent, time, and money are nothing more than going through the motions.

After all, obedience to His Word is greater than any sacrifice we may offer.

I pray God’s blessing on the works of your hands and your hearts,

Vonda

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Parting Words From The WORD…You Wouldn’t Ask Me To Do That, Would You?

Laughing Jesus by Robert Wilson, Sr.

Laughing Jesus by Robert Wilson, Sr.

Today’s Parting Words From The WORD is a rerun from March, 2012. I ran across it as I was searching to see if I had addressed a specific verse in a prior post. But when I found this one and read it, I was almost moved to tears…again.

I vividly remember writing the post, and even though more than two years have passed since writing it, it still stirs me from the deepest part of me.

On a day when we remember our freedoms and rights in America, are we willing to give up what we want for what He has for us to do?

What will He ask me to lay down? Will I be faithful to do it?

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Most of us here are writers and speakers. It’s not only what we do, but it also cuts to the core of who we are. We often say we write or speak because we have to, that we feel God has given us the ability to communicate so we can share Him, the cure for a lost and dying world.

This past Sunday morning, my friend and writing sister, Edie Melson, posted her compelling poem, A Divine Obsession, in which she states a repeated refrain, “I write because I must.” And to that I say, “Amen, sister!” I read Edie’s beautiful post Sunday morning, took comfort in the truth of her words and God’s blessing on me as a writer, and headed to out the door to worship.

In Sunday School that morning we studied 1 John 2 and I was reminded again that God called John and Paul and Peter and James to be writers and communicators, just as He has called you and me. Of course, I’m NOT saying our words are the inspired Word of God, but I am saying He put in us everything we need to be able to spread His Great Name through the written and spoken word.

Praise and worship time brought me to that place where I want nothing more than to be in His presence, seeking Him and His will. Then during Sunday morning worship, our visiting pastor, Russ Chambers of Hingepoint Church in CA, challenged us with a powerful message about the cross.

I had had a great morning, starting with Edie’s vivid poem about writing, straight to Sunday School and the reminder that God had called me to write and speak, just as He called the scribes of His Word, right on to anointed worship before the Lord, and then to Russ’ message, to which I could nod my head and my heart in agreement.

But then Russ said, “Our personal preferences have to die.”

In that very moment, my writing and speaking and teaching and singing and acting flashed before me. A catch gripped my heart and mind. Surely He would never ask me to lay THAT down on the altar…would He? After all, He’s called me, gifted me, ordained me if you will, to be a communicator of the Truth of His Great Name!

But…what if…my goodness, I can hardly say it…what if He asked me to lay it all down?

I admit, I’ve had fleeting thoughts along those lines through the years, but it’s usually just that–a fleeting thought. After all, why would God choose us…only to later UNchoose us to be writers and speakers? But this time the possibility was real, more urgent, more in the moment.

Even as I write this, I can hardly wrap my mind around the concept. But as one who loves the Creator and all it means to call Him Lord, I have to accept that the day could come when He says,”It’s over.”

It scares me how much that thought scares me.

Oh, I can speak in my spiritual voice and say yes, we must be willing to lay everything down for Him and His sake. And I believe it with as much belief as my heart can muster. But if I’m honest–which I’m trying to be here–I hope He doesn’t ask that of me. The truth is, I don’t want to lay it down.

After all, as Edie so brilliantly wrote, “I write because I must.”

But as God clearly showed me this weekend, I cannot let my preference for and my joy in writing or speaking or acting or singing or teaching determine what I will or won’t do with my life.

I have to remember I’m merely a sinner, saved by the blood and sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross. The time He has given me to be a writer or speaker or anything else could very well come to an end. But that wouldn’t mean my life as a useful tool of God would be over.

It would simply be the beginning of another new thing.

“Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, ‘This is the way; walk in it.’” Isaiah 30:21 NIV

I pray God’s blessing on the work of your hands and your hearts…regardless of what He has for you–and me–to do,

Vonda

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Parting Words From The WORD…Amazing

Laughing Jesus by Robert Wilson, Sr.

Laughing Jesus by Robert Wilson, Sr.

I’ve mentioned recently that I’m doing the Bible study, Planted, by Annie Pajcic and I’m really enjoying it. Lots of insight into Psalm 1:1-3 and how we’re to sit, stand, and walk with Jesus.

And although every day’s lesson is great, yesterday’s was especially tender. I knew immediately I wanted to share it with you!

Annie shares how Robert McGee’s book, The Search for Significance, changed her life by helping her see who she was in Christ, that appearances and approval of others have no bearing on her worth. And they don’t determine our worth, either.

Then she quoted Romans 5:8 from The Message:

But God put his love on the line for us by offering his Son in sacrificial death while we were of no use whatever to him. Romans 5:8 (MSG)

“God put his love on the line…sacrificial death…while we were of no use whatever to him.”

I’ve heard that verse all my life. Memorized it as a young girl in GAs. Proclaimed it as a speaker and teacher. But never have I grasped the concept as completely as I did when I read it this week.

I was of no more use to God than a clump of South Carolina red clay, but it was at that very moment…in all my filthy uselessness…that He sacrificed His precious Son for me.

Amazing.

I pray God’s blessing on the work of your hands and your hearts,

Vonda

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Parting Words From The WORD: At Least I’m Better Than Her

Laughing Jesus by Robert Wilson, Sr.

Laughing Jesus by Robert Wilson, Sr.

Happy Friday, my friends! As you can see, I’m starting a new title for our Friday gathering around God’s Word. It dawned on me that perhaps I should at least give you a glimpse into what I’m thinking and the direction I’m going with the day’s Word.

Today, I’m so excited to share what God showed me one morning this week during my Bible study time. You know those moments when you’ve read a verse a hundred times during your life, and yet God suddenly shows you something new? Well, I had one of those moments this week.

I had started Judy Huitt’s Bible study Our Beloved, Our Friend a couple of months ago, but had to put it aside while we did a church-wide Bible study by Rick Warren, 40 Days in the Word. We finished a few weeks ago and I was thrilled to back to Judy’s study for the last few days of Our Beloved, Our Friend. On Tuesday this week, I turned to her last lesson, “Do You Love Me?”

Before I even looked at the references, I knew immediately at least one passage would most likely include the John 21 story of Jesus’ conversation with Peter after His resurrection, where He talked about feeding His sheep.

If you recall, three times Jesus asked Peter if he loved Him and three times Peter said “Lord, you know that I love you.”

Each time after Peter said he did love Him, Jesus responded with a command.”…Feed my lambs…” “…Take care of my sheep…” “…Feed my sheep…” And He ended it by saying, “Follow me!”

To me, it was a familiar, comforting story of Jesus’ desire for and command to each of us as Christ followers to live and love as He did.

But what caught my eye–and challenged my heart–was the rest of the story:

Peter turned and saw that the disciple whom Jesus loved was following them. (This was the one who had leaned back against Jesus at the supper and had said, “Lord, who is going to betray you?”) When Peter saw him, he asked, “Lord, what about him?“ Jesus answered, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? You must follow me.” John 21:20-22 (NIV)

“What is that to you? You must follow me.”

Jesus was saying, “What business is that of yours, Peter? You concentrate on what I’ve called you to do and I’ll deal with what I’ve called John to do.”

When we compare our successes and our failures with others…when we watch as spiritual leaders fall, and thank Him that we’re not like them…when we ourselves fall, and ask Him to make us like the stars of Christiandom…He asks, “What does her life have to do with yours?”

Jesus is simply telling me to follow Him and His example…and He’ll deal with my brothers and sisters, whether they rise or fall, whether they obey or not. My responsibility is to focus on my own heart and my own relationship with Him.

Then the Lord blew me away with another application of this passage. Some of you know that I have a lost brother who is not only lost, but fully antagonist to the Gospel of Christ. I’ve struggled for years as I’ve talked with him about the Lord. No matter how clearly I try to explain it, he can’t see beyond me and my past sin. Regardless of how passionately I deliver the gift of grace, he continues to point to my failures as blatant hypocrisy that he wants no part of.

The truth is, he can’t get to Jesus because he can’t get past me.

Now I know that the next time I have a chance to point to Christ as the only way to salvation and he points to my sin instead, I can take him to the words of Jesus: “What is that to you? Your relationship with Me has nothing to do with Vonda. You get yourself right with Me…and let Me deal with her.”

And praise God, He deals with me with a scarred hand of grace…instead of what I deserve.

That’s what I want for my brother.

I pray God’s blessing on the work of your hands and your hearts,

Vonda

(Laughing Jesus image art courtesy of RobertWilsonFineArt.com)

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Parting Words From The WORD…

Jesus carrying cross Lost Seed. dot comThree Scripted Words–Which Will You Choose?

I’ve always loved drama. From the time I was a little girl, sitting in front of a black and white TV, I knew that movies and scripts could reach down inside and grab a part of the soul that few things could ever touch.

By the time I was a teenager, I knew the power of the stage, the power of scripted words. And nothing proved it better than Frank Zeffirelli’s movie, Romeo and Juliet. The story. The costumes. The music. The words. I was captivated! I must have watched it a hundred times, and yet each time, it was as if I were seeing it afresh, anew.

My heart danced the night Romeo and Juliet danced—their faces and their lives hidden behind the masks, falling into a forbidden love. A love of good and evil.

Two sides. Two families. The Capulets and the Montagues.

You know the story. Romeo and Juliet fall in love, secretly marry, and spend one night together. The next day, Romeo kills Juliet’s cousin in a battle between their families, and then must escape to save his own life. Unaware of his daughter’s marriage to Romeo, Juliet’s father decrees she will marry another man.

Juliet is afraid to reveal the truth, so she meets with the priest and together they devise a plan that will allow the couple to be together forever. It is a fail-proof plan. With the help of a sleeping potion, Juliet will feign death, and Romeo will return to the city and retrieve her from the tomb. They will escape to live their life of love together, and no one will ever know the truth. A messenger is sent to deliver the fail-proof, scripted plan to Romeo.

But before the messenger reaches him, Romeo hears the terrible news that his beloved wife has died. So he devises his own plan—to join her in death. He mounts his horse and takes off for the city. But Juliet’s messenger and Romeo pass each other in the night. The grieving husband continues toward death, unaware of the truth.

It is a fateful mistake.

Romeo arrives, locates the tomb and—thinking his true love is dead—drinks his own poison in an effort to join her. Death comes quickly and Romeo falls across his wife’s body. Moments later, Juliet awakens to find her Romeo dead. Unable to imagine life without her husband, she tries to drink from Romeo’s vial, but finds it empty. She eagerly kisses her still-warm Romeo, hoping to find poison on his lips. When she finds none, she grabs his sword and thrusts it into her own body.

Her blood drips to the ground.

I sat there in the theater, my eyes glued to the screen, my body jerking with the sobs of emotion—unable to see the images through the tears filling my eyes and streaming down my face. My heart was broken for the two lovers, the two innocents who were merely on opposite sides of a battle, a battle they hadn’t chosen.

Joint funerals unite the city. The music and visuals carry us through the pain and agony.

Two families. Two sides. Joined in grief. Good and evil, exposed in death.

A voice cries from the screen:

“All . . . are . . . punished!”

Three scripted words, spoken to bring the emotion of the story to one pivotal moment. It works. I grieve, along with the Capulets and the Montagues. I can hardly stand it.

And it’s only a movie.

But two thousand years ago, there was another script, another drama. Two families. Two sides. Good andjesus holding cross lost seed dot com evil. God and Satan.

Jesus knew the story by heart because before time began, He had sat down with the Father and the Holy Spirit, and the three of Them wrote the script . . . scene by scene, line by line, word by word.

Directed by the words of the prophets, the story unfolds. The cast—often without their knowledge—follows the plan and brings the story to its pre-ordained conclusion. No actors. No lines to learn, no songs to sing. Because this time, it’s real.

And the story—although a script—is true.

But this drama wasn’t written to generate emotion; it was written to bring freedom and new life for all mankind. The only way to unite a holy God and unholy man was through the sacrifice of a perfect, sinless lamb—Jesus. He would have to die.

No sleeping potion to feign death. No escape from the Father’s decree. Sin required a blood sacrifice . . . and Jesus willingly signed up for the part. After all, He was the only One Who qualified.

His blood fell to the ground.

But the story doesn’t end there. Because from the cross, at the height of His suffering, Jesus cried the three words scripted thousands of years before:

“It . . . is . . . finished!”

Three words, spoken to bring the sin of man to one pivotal moment. It works. I grieve, along with the sinners and the saved. I can hardly stand it.

Jesus, the sinless Grace-giver, received no grace that dark and mournful day. But because of His sacrifice, we—an unholy people—are united with a holy God.

We simply choose which script, which three little words, we want to follow: “All are punished” . . . or . . . “It is finished.”

Jesus is God’s Son.

            We are sinners.

            We can’t be good enough to get to heaven on our own.

            We need a Savior.

            That Savior is Jesus.

            He is the sacrifice for our sin.

            He took the punishment we deserve.

            It . . .  is . . . finished!

Three powerful, little words that changed eternity.

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16

I pray God’s blessing as we celebrate our Risen Lord!

Vonda

(Images courtesy of LostSeed.com)

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Parting Words From The WORD…

Photo courtesy of ChristianPhotos.net

While I’m away, I’m going to share a couple of videos that touch my heart. The first time I heard this song, I had to just play it over and over, taking in the truth of the words. Perhaps they’ve spoken to you, too.

I hope you’ll listen carefully and be encouraged by the words as Matthew West sings his new song, “Hello, My Name Is.”

There’s power in the name of Jesus!

 

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Pet Peeves and Grace

Photo courtesy of www.FreeDigitalPhoto/IdeaGo

Hello, friends! Greetings from Alaska. Today’s guest blog post comes from Carol Barnier. You may recall another post she shared with us a while back: She Never Had a Rejection? It generated a lot of comments and I think you’ll find this one equally thought-provoking.

Pet Peeves and Grace

By Carol Barnier

If you’ve been in a writer’s support group for any length of time, you’ve certainly seen it before. It’s an evergreen discussion that makes a pass every year or so. When a professional association has covered all the topics they can think of—Saying No to a Mentor Request, Keeping Social Media from Eating Your Time, How to Have a Book Signing that Doesn’t Look as Though it Occurred Post-Rapture, there eventually comes a lull in which no one can think of a fresh and original topic to pose to the group.

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Parting Words From The Word…

Photo courtesy of ChristianPhotos.net

Don’t you love reading His Word and finding something you’d never noticed–or at least never considered–before? In my reading recently I found a such a verse.

In Acts 4, Peter and John have been called before the Council by the priests, the captain of the Temple guard, and some Saducees because they were healing and preaching the resurrection of the dead. They were thrown in jail.

The next morning the leaders decided that in order to keep Peter and John from spreading their message, they would warn them not to speak to anyone in the name of Jesus again. And here’s where it gets exciting:

But Peter and John replied, “Do you think God wants us to obey you rather than him? We cannot stop telling about everything we have seen and heard.” Acts 4:19-20

“We cannot stop telling…”

What about me? What about you? Can we say that? Can we say that we can’t stop telling the Good News of Jesus?

I recently heard that we should have our testimony ready in a variety of forms, to be delivered at a moment’s notice. We should have a 30-second “elevator pitch” testimony, a 2-minute testimony, a longer one, and a fully-written, fleshed-out version.

After all, we have the Good News of the mercy, grace, and love of Jesus. We cannot stop telling everyone about it.

I pray God’s blessing on the work of your hands and your hearts,

Vonda

(Photo courtesy of ChristianPhotos.net)

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