"The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me, because the LORD has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the LORD's favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion — to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair." ~ from ISAIAH 61 Bible verse for this Blog

Sunday, May 31, 2015

SOS ~ GRACE ... DAY 32

DAY 32
Buy The Grace Immersion book at Amazon.com
GRACE IMMERSION

Week 5  
DAYS 29-35

"Grace-Inspired Change"
"Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, 
just as in Christ God forgave you."
Ephesians 4:32

{sorry but the devotions may no longer be available online by following these links; see my note}



Day 32
"Transforming Grace"

Read
Ephesians 5:8-9
Colossians 3:12

Discussion Questions

"How does an understanding of grace help give you a lasting motivation for changing the way you live?

What is one positive way your understanding of grace has changed your behavior?

Today pray, “Thank You Heavenly Father, that I am Your child, holy and dearly loved! Let me be as gracious to others as You have been to me.”"


All I can say is that I pray that this year in GRACE brings much transformation needed in me!
Understanding GRACE and actually extending that same GRACE to others, when I don't feel like it or see any reason to do so, is/was enough reason for me to focus on God's GRACE this entire year and seek out doing this book study on "GRACE IMMERSION". I was highly motivated that this indeed would change my life. However, truthfully, without all the "ruffles" of living back in MN, I still have found this to be more challenging as if the enemy is pulling out all his ammunition to keep me from "Transforming Grace" and living it out with others. It was not so much for me, and knowing God's aMazing Grace ... as it was and still is for showing this GRACE to others.


I would love to tell you one positive change in my behavior because of my better understanding of GRACE, but as I just mentioned ... it's still to be seen ... the only one that I think I have a better grip of ... is His abundant GRACE for me, even in this study and through this book of devotions, it's mainly about receiving God's GRACE and pouring His GRACE overflowingly on everyone I meet. That's when I will know I am changed by GRACE! Not just in words or "blogs" but in my actions daily. 






Friday, May 29, 2015

FRIDAY FOCUS



 "Focus on the Promise, not the problem" Joel Osteen
Message #625 

..."If I'm magnifying anything, I'm magnifying the source of my strength. I'm talking about God's greatness. I'm not focusing on how big my problems are. I'm focusing on how big my God is."...Joel Osteen 

God-incidence that occurred yesterday, was when I clicked on Sirius Xm radio and signed up for a free month trial {but it's almost over}, meanwhile I can listen to some of the messages I've enjoyed from Pastor Joel Osteen on their new radio channel available through Sirius XM that I hear about each week, as I watch their weekly services in English and the one in Spanish. It just so happened that the Message above (#625) was the very first one, so how could I not get hooked into listening to one after another {it saves me from being at the keyboard and re-instigating that left arm shoulder problem}. But with that quote now shared, let me move on quickly from this little physical condition of mine to my focus of praying Ephesians for this week {from our "Grace Immersion" study} using that Lenten devotional of "Grace & Peace" and Adam Houge's "The Power of Praying Ephesians from Your Heart" from the verses we are focusing on this past week for Day 31:

Ephesians 2:1-10
[The Voice]
{of course, you can click on this link and read the passage in any version you prefer in the drop down}

Ephesians 2:1-3
"Gracious God. reorient our hearts and lives toward You and our neighbors, not for our own gain but so that all may know Your love." March 12, 2015 Lenten Devotional, p.49
Ephesians 2:4-7
"Holy God, fill us this day with Your Grace beyond measure IJN "March 13, 2015 p. 51
Ephesians 2:8-9
"Humble us, Gracious God, that we exult Your goodness."March 14, 2015 p. 53
Ephesians 2:10
"God of goodness, sing through our lives this day, creating us for good in the places we live and work." March 15, 2015 Lenten Devotional, p. 55

Ephesians 2:10

My favorite *verses:

Ephesians 2:8

" Lord, Increase my faith. I understand this is important because by faith I'm saved; and because You had grace, I could have faith to save me. So while I pray for an increase in faith, I also ask that You would make grace less necessary in my life as You perfect my walk in Your love and Holy Spirit." Adam Houge, "The Power of Praying Ephesians"

Lord, Thank You that by grace I have been saved through faith. I ask for more faith and more grace not only for me, but in me for others; the gift of grace is truly amazing and I desire to be more gracious and share more of Your aMazing Grace from a better understanding after holding it closely before me all this year as My One Word from You. After immersing myself in Your Grace, may I come to realize its beauty, strength, power and such a blessing of favor unmerited and so undeserved yet also one that we have such a hard time allowing others in our daily interactions with them. Help us and guide us to share Your Grace.

***Ephesians 2:10***

"Lord, I surrender to Your will, that Your works can be accomplished in me and through me, Guide me with Your hand and bless the direction You take me. Teach me to submit to Your Spirit, that He may work through me rather than I try to operate in my own wisdom and strength in my attempts to please You. Teach me what it means to walk in Your Holy Spirit moment by moment and decision after decision."Adam Houge

"How have you been diligently seeking to grow your faith lately?"

"How have you been surrendering to His will and sensitizing yourself to His Voice?


"HE KNOWS MY NAME"



* I added this to last Friday's Focus but you may have missed it either here or the actual LIVESTREAM of Jennie Allen, Ann Voskamp and Jeremy Courtney-Preemptive Love Coalition: "Behind the Issue" ISIS  and also on Ann's Holy Experience blog: Update and all the rest I linked last week plus more. This is living Ephesians and GRACE! Grace be with you! ~ Peggy 




Looking ahead to June and summer studies... here's one that Faith Gateway shared with me and others, since I had an audible copy, I now requested a review copy of the new version and probably will join in the 8 week study since I signed up for Jennie Allen's "ANYTHING" ... Project. Hopefully I get my review posted before this starts with the LIVE Kick Off Event on June 15th followed by the study (June 15- Aug.8, 2015). I listened to my audible version when I originally read with GMG in the summer of 2013 and the new book includes a study guide plus updates since the previous version.

Anything Project with Jennie Allen


Wednesday, May 27, 2015

WOW ~ WALK On WEDS.


[credit image: faith gateway]


There was a momentary hesitation to do my "Walk on Weds." today still as I headed towards the "Gardens of GRACE", backed with all kinds of little taunting excuses like "you're already late" and "you have nothing worthwhile to share of value anyways" not like that devotional book you reviewed and are reading, or "you're tending to that physical, limiting situation anyways" so you're weak, without strength and energy, surely since you're 'off' more than you're 'on' line, "you won't be missedyet I knew deep within me, I still need that portion of "Everyday Grace" and God speaks to me the most when I take the time with Him to be quiet and still in His "Gardens of GRACE" ... and these "Walks on Weds." are my favorites as I allow His Word to water my soul and it is I who needs them {not my blog world}. However, as the weather gets hotter and I'm not out as much or hardly at all, once the sun begins to shine, I look more for my inspiration from the Son inside. I open up my laptop with all my many books and links to the world around me, turning to my new reviewed book, "Devotions from the Garden, Finding Peace and Rest ..." hoping that today's theme in Miriam Drennan's garden wisdom will inspire and encourage me or at least give me some more of that peace and rest I find there. And wouldn't you know it, the title and theme of today's from Jesus is "Pruning" ...  just what I needed, right? 

John 15:2

...“[My Father] cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit He prunes so that it will be even more fruitful."


Kinda what I found myself doing early yesterday morning before the sun was too hot with the few plants in front of this rental house {that I know nothing about, not even their names and certainly not their specific care} as I was gladly checking on the one of two I do know and planted myself - my rose bush, with one bud, just in time for my mom's upcoming birthday. I'm not sure if the large leaf plants that I was "pruning" really needed more water or less water, but I did know enough that those dead, dried leaves had to go. After all, that's what "pruning" is all about; stripping away that old, dead, or dried out parts to encourage growth. That's how it is with our spiritual pruning by the Master Gardener as well. *"God will cut away something or someone who is keeping us from growing" ...  words that echo inside of me from Miriam's devotion:


..."This pruning can mark the beginning of a dark period because the sources of comfort and strength we’ve relied on are gone. Making the darkness heavier is the fact that God seems so far away. Whatever the specifics of this very personal process, pruning means the removal of hindrances that keep us from becoming all that we can be in God’s plan for our lives."Miriam Drennan, "Devotions from the Garden", p.68


This is why I find myself in this "wilderness" experience
to allow God to complete or do this process in me.
{well over-due I might add}
but the Master Gardener has had years of trying to
gently pruning me,
stripping away
those unhealthy parts
removing 
those character flaws and ugly old habits
that I've allowed to sap the strength out of me
and any blooming relationship
or
those relationships that were like "weeds" 
that I
truly didn't need
but in my unhealthy state,
I clung to far too many
and for far too long

when all along what I really needed 
was to rely on the
Master Gardener
His power, strength and wisdom
so that
my life could take on a new shape
"growing spiritually with new vitality"
 I so need to trust
His Pruning
and
allow
His work
in me...

As I reread the words of Miriam's devotion, I pause on something vitally important and significant like the words that echoed above* but I had passed over them in her very first paragraph:


..."(In fact, trimmings cut from certain plants can grow on their own, independent of the source plant from which they were cut.) The longer this vital step of pruning is delayed, however, the more difficult these benefits will take to occur. Furthermore, pruning is a delicate process: if done incorrectly, it can actually kill a plant instead of promote its growth."Miriam Drennan, "Devotions from the Garden"


These words are so true for me ... that "the longer this vital step of pruning is delayed" ... the more difficult and definitely more delicate ... so that one feels "dead" or has been killed instead of promoting growth or fruit or newness. Often feeling like the life in us has been sapped out of us or drained or lacking so much growth that we balk at the thought of "more" pruning. Yet, I am living testimony that the Master Gardener knows best, and tenderly tends to us, helping us "move forward in life in ways that are pleasing to Him and beneficial to us and others." My, how I needed these words, in the midst of my garden being pruned ... and I find myself asking the questions to God from Miriam's ending devotional prayer; not so much the first one as often as the second:


Why is this happening?

What are You trying to teach me?


Heavenly Father, my precious Master Gardener, forgive me for delaying Your work, Your pruning of me and failing to comply to Your tender hands of love and care. Thank You for continuing to water my soul and speak to me, even in the dry times, even in the wilderness, even in the plenty. I desire to bear fruit and bloom to please You. Continue to "cut off every branch" and anything that keeps me from growing and changing. Weed my garden and keep away any nasty pests and all harm that may want to enter in. Life without You would be unbearable because life with You makes everyday, a day of more aMazing GRACE and tender Love. You speak life into these aching bones and You are the life that I need revived in me, restored in my daily walks and rebuilt in me to share with others Your Living Water and the fruit of Your Spirit alive in me. "When You need to remove anything from my life, particularly something I may not want to willing release, remind me that this pruning is necessary!" and You care for all my needs as I trust in You. I love You, Father. Thank You for this walk in the garden today.



While I was in my Garden of Grace, a bit later,  I found a field or pasture of a dear donkey friend of mine and some strange fruit ... you can read more about this over at Home Sanctuary and find out what to do "When You're in the Middle of a Drought?" or even a downpour of "more than enough" torrential storms, flooding and all those other horrendous weather conditions that leave us in bit worn out and worried...  

Sunday, May 24, 2015

SOS ~ GRACE ... DAY 31

DAY 31
Buy The Grace Immersion book at Amazon.com
GRACE IMMERSION

Week 5  
DAYS 29-35

"Grace-Inspired Change"
"Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, 
just as in Christ God forgave you."
Ephesians 4:32

{sorry but the devotions may no longer be available online by following these links; see my note}


Day 31
"The Gospel according to LOST"

{sorry, but not having USA access to TV, I know little about "LOST"making this kinda irrelevant to me, so I guess I'm kinda "LOST" as regards TV stuff but not the Gospels or Ephesian's GRACE}
Read

Ephesians 2:1-10

Discussion Questions

"How would you describe the way our popular culture believes we get to heaven?

How would you describe the Bible’s teaching?

Thank God that you did not have to depend on your own works to get you to heaven, but were saved by the grace of God through faith in Jesus Christ! Ask God to help you spread that good news!"


Friday, May 22, 2015

FRIDAY FOCUS



Ephesians 1:18-21

"...I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you will know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, 
19 and what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe. These are in accordance with the working of the strength of His might 20 which He brought about in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, 21 far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come." 

One, two or more verses of different versions
of only part of our verses from
Ephesians
this week from the "Grace Immersion" study


" Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ,... " Ephesians 1:3 (NASB)


" All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ. " Ephesians 1:3 (NLT)


" May God the Father and the Lord Jesus the Anointed surround you with grace and peace.
This letter begins with praise and thanksgiving to
  • God the Father, who blesses us
  • Jesus, who redeems us
  • the Holy Spirit, who seals us.
Blessed be God, the Father of our Lord Jesus the Anointed One, who grants us every spiritual blessing in these heavenly realms where we live in the Anointed—not because of anything we have done, but because of what He has done for us.  Ephesians 1:2-3 (The Voice)


"Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. " Ephesians 1:3 (NIV)

"3-6 How blessed is God! And what a blessing He is! He’s the Father of our Master, Jesus Christ, and takes us to the high places of blessing in Him. Long before He laid down earth’s foundations, He had us in mind, had settled on us as the focus of His love, to be made whole and holy by His love. Long, long ago He decided to adopt us into His family through Jesus Christ. (What pleasure He took in planning this!) He wanted us to enter into the celebration of His lavish gift-giving by the hand of His beloved Son." Ephesians 1:3 (The Message)


Reflecting on this first chapter of Ephesians as I pray today, reading and rereading the profound posts that Ann Voskamp has been sharing on her "Holy Experience" with such depth of standing for social justice in the midst of such horrific worldly devastation of  injustices that are occurring that we, the faithful, the Church, can no longer ignore in a series since February or perhaps before to "Dear North American Church...". Recently ...

Part 2 in a series of Iraqi Posts 

"What the News isn't telling you ..."

Part 1 in a series of Iraqi Posts: 

"Love in the Time of Isis 

The Posts that Started These: 

"The Wake-Up Call that is ISIS: Who in the Church is Answering?"

"The Call: To the Nations & People of The Cross"

And some other related ones:

"The Call for the Next 40 Days"

"Journey to Iraq through Israel"

   The most important link probably, if you missed the Livestream "Behind the Issue" yesterday as I did (May 21st) is with: Jennie Allen, Ann Voskamp, and Jeremy Courtney of Preemptive Love (org). Join me watching this:

IF: Gathering "Behind the Issue"

Hopefully they will have as profound impact on you and you can show some Preemptive Love!



"IF WE ARE THE BODY" and "SPIRIT WIND"
from Casting Crown in Mpls. MN

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

"FINDING PEACE and REST ... " ...

in the
"DEVOTIONS from the GARDEN"


[credit image: faith gateway]

actually the title is

"Devotions from the Garden"
Finding Peace and Rest in Your Busy Life

By Miriam Drennan 


... who doesn't want to "find peace and rest" whether your life is busy or not; however the reason I found this to be the key part of this title that drew me into choosing this book IS because as you read the devotions, you can actually find this peace and rest. 

Miriam Drennan starts each 2 page devotion with a passage from Scripture, then a daily reading drawn from "gardening" with a spiritual application to our life, really wonderful analogies in so many of the devotions, ending with a simple personal prayer, filled with breath-taking, full color gorgeous photographs of garden scenes and nature. Just the cover itself invites one to "come to the garden alone and fill your soul with His Presence" as you sit awhile on this welcoming garden swing. Such a delight as you take in the imagery of the words and photographs as you read each beautifully written devotion of the 90 included, that can be read in a brief amount of time, or you can linger over them on a wonderful walk in the garden. It is there you encounter Him, and the peace and rest.

As I anxiously began reading the book, I thought I would sample just one a day to get the feel of using this as my daily devotional, but I found myself continuing from one to the next, and I could not put this easy reading book down. I was totally inspired and in awe of how close I really felt to God with an amazing sense of peace and desire to want to connect with more and more of the awesome insights that Miriam Drennan illustrates from the Master Gardener and our growth. I could certainly see that Miriam Drennan was more than just an author writing daily devotions, she actually knew her topic of the garden very well along with spiritual and biblical inspiration. Even though I am far from being any kind of a gardener with a green or otherwise thumb, she was able to help me understand and learn not just about a wide variety of gardening themes but also deepening my spiritual growth and understanding. This book would be a great gift for the avid gardener or anyone that appreciates the beauty of God's nature like me. The author's own garden knowledge and her explanations are extremely helpful, informative and her analogies from the garden to our own lives are inspirational, insightful and indicative of Miriam's expertise and my own need for growth.

Each devotion covers so many different gardening topics and spiritual themes that I would love to list them but there are 90 so ... let's just begin with some of my favorite ones which fit in so perfectly with my "Gardens of Grace":

 "God's Transforming Grace" 
"Grace in the Garden"
"The Riches of Remnants"
"Blooms but No Fruit"
"The Forgotten Crop"
"Neglected Beds"
"Grafted to Him"


Other gardening themes include: Perennials; Crop Rotation; Soils; Roots; Drought; Weeding; Pruning; Seasons; Fruit; Harvesting; Companion Planting; Seed Cleaning; Mustard Seed; Mulch; various kinds of Gardens - Butterfly, Herb, Rain, Straw bale; and Gardening - Pallet, Rock; and of course, the insects like Ladybugs, the Mantis, Honeybees, Earthworms; and so many more that enrich our lives and our gardens. Beautiful photos make her words spring to life. Miriam has such a way with words and connecting garden themes to our lives as she plants, nurtures and tends to our spiritual gardens. I have so many highlights throughout this devotional which seems to point out that my garden was in such a need for attention and that I have such thirst for so much more by the Master Gardener and Miriam Drennan's capacity to tend to our gardens, the areas in our lives that need tender gardening skills and care: from our soil and our roots to the blooming parts and harvest. I knew that there are many spiritual themes from or in a garden, I just didn't have the touch or knowledge of expertise only the love for the Master Gardener and His daily care. 

This is absolutely one of the most beautiful, inspirational and timely devotionals that I have had the pleasure to read, for whatever season you may find your personal life to be. It is one that I will go back to read often to soak in the beauty of God's design in the garden and us in His Grace! Miriam Drennan refreshes our souls, encourages our hearts and cleverly communicates God's peace as we find rest in the garden. Our relationship with God through these daily feedings breathes afresh in us as we deepen our quiet time with walks in the garden with Him.


Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers  book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.

Book Description~ from Book Look Bloggers


"Come to the garden alone, and fill your soul with His presence.
There's nothing on earth like the peace and loveliness of a magnificent garden. It's the place where Adam and Eve first fellow-shipped with God, and where you, too, can escape from this chaotic world into His loving arms of beauty and serenity. Devotions from the Garden takes you to that place where senses are restored as dewdrops settle and butterflies gather to witness the miracles of God's creation bloom and grow. These ninety devotions explore the parallels of life with the elements of the garden to help you see God, to sense His presence, to soothe your soul, and to rest in knowing He is with you throughout each day. Included are striking photographs with a fresh, contemporary design for timeless appeal.
About the Author
Miriam Drennan is the author of Devotions for the Beach and the Days You Wish You Were There and Soar Above the Madness: Surviving Office Politics Without Losing Your Mind, Your Job, or Your Lunch. She currently lives in Nashville, Tennessee, where she enjoys gardening and playing with words. 
Drop her a line at www.that-writer.com. " Published by Thomas Nelson

Sunday, May 17, 2015

SOS ~ GRACE ... DAY 30

DAY 30
Buy The Grace Immersion book at Amazon.com
GRACE IMMERSION

Week 5  
DAYS 29-35

"Grace-Inspired Change"
"Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, 
just as in Christ God forgave you."
Ephesians 4:32

{sorry but the devotions may no longer be available online by following these links}

Day 30

"The Treasure You Already Have"

Isn't this a beautiful way of seeing GRACE!

Read

Ephesians 1:3-23


 Here are the questions at the end of the devotion for our discussion in the comments:


"Why do we Christians forget about the treasure we already have?

Which of the *bullet points is most difficult for you to believe? Easiest? Why?

Go through Ephesians 1 and thank God specifically for the many things that are true of you — by His grace!"


The highlight of this devotion --- the bullet points* below for the question above

Some of the Riches you already own:

  • "You have every spiritual blessing already (Ephesians 1:3) 
Will you believe this or keep trying to earn what is already yours?
  •  You’re holy and forgiven in God’s sight (Ephesians 1:4)
I can’t count the times I prayed “Please forgive me!” forgetting that I had this treasure already!
  • You’ve been chosen by God (Ephesians 1:4,11) 
Forget the debate over the words “chosen” and “predestined” for a minute and realize Paul’s pastoral point: You are part of a people with a destiny. Will you believe this?
  • You’re God’s masterpiece (Ephesians 2:10) 
You’re a work of art! You have a purpose: to do great things God has already lined up for you to do! Will you believe this or keep looking for approval and validation elsewhere? " Rene Schlaepfer from "Grace Immersion" and God's Word


TLC Sermon for Week 5
What a treasure as we fully understand the lavish
GRACE
we already have
and
stop trying vainly
to justify ourselves and begin
to really change
from the inside-out

that's why
I pray what Paul says for you (and me too):

"I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which He has called you, the riches of His glorious inheritance in His holy people, ..."(NIV)


Ephesians 1:18
(The Voice)link
I encourage you to read all of Ephesians 1 in The Voice, what an enrichment this version gives
I am sure that many of you remember when I lost many earthly treasures and did a mini-series on "Treasures" but I definitely learned from the devastation of losing everything to a "insured total loss house fire".  Although the "house" has been rebuilt, it isn't at all the same to me and the treasures can never be compensated for their loss. Material treasures and eternal treasures are definitely measured and seen differently. Being a "pack-rat" certainly did not help my situation and I still have not changed that aspect of my personality totally, but I know my emphasis is much less on gathering earthly treasures. In fact, I think I have very few. The greatest treasure we often overlook is just the miracle of waking up and our very breath each morning, the life we have: good, bad or even ugly (with all the earthly difficulties and circumstances) truly is a gift but it is all momentary in the grand scheme of things, and we must make the best of each moment, never overlooking the treasures in hand and the treasure in being in God's hands. For each blessing pales in comparison to His glorious inheritance and what Jesus Christ has given us to treasure and be treasured by His aMazing Love and GRACE! It just really can't get any better if we truly believe in the riches of this honor!

Page copy protected against web site content infringement by Copyscape

This blog is ALL about HIM, for HIM, not about me!
I hope that is what you see
this is why I am



To my faithful visitors;
all of you who spend your valuable time here with me
I do appreciate you so much!

Thank you for taking your time to visit!

Love, Sweet blessings & Hugs!

DIOS TE BENDIGA
GOD BLESS YOU

always

Peggy