An Ocean of Grace…Take Me Deeper.

“For I am the least of the apostles and do not even deserve to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God.  But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me was not without effect.”  Paul in 1 Corinthians 15:9-10a (NIV)

Overwhelming, abundant grace…this is what has been resonating in my spirit, saturating my soul lately.  In reflection, His grace has been evident during every season of my life…even and especially when I was not called His.  God extends His loving grace to every living being, even to those who are spiritually dead in His sight.  His grace is what sustains each of us.  As long as we have breath in our lungs and blood pumping through our heart, we experience some degree of God’s grace.

Just as Paul confessed in this Scripture, I, too, have persecuted the church of God. Before I entered into that saving knowledge and decision through Christ, I persecuted the church by the way I lived.  I set myself against the Living God because the gods I served were carnal pleasures, promiscuity, accomplishments, and the craving of man’s approval.  God’s grace permitted me to exist in my sin.  God’s grace wooed me and compelled me to confess Him as my Lord and Savior.  God’s grace continues to grow me and increase my faith.  God’s grace draws me into the depths of His love and His will. “But by the grace of God I am what I am…”

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You see, when I picture God’s grace, I think of the ocean.  As an unbeliever, I dwelt on the scorching, thirsty sands of the beach. Have you ever tried to walk or run in the sand?  It is difficult and labored because your feet sink into the sand with each stride. That was me…running and striving to make progress in the sands of sin but not getting far and and doing that very slowly.  The sands of sin worked their abrasive persistence into every vacancy and broken place in my soul…my life.  Then, during a specific season in my life, something caused me to stop my striving in the sand and shift my focus.  I heard waves lapping up onto the shore…waves that had always been there but had gone unnoticed.  Each wave came in to reach at me, then drew back as an invitation that whispered, “Come in.”

As we all fear what we do not know or understand, I tentatively stepped towards the traces of where the waves reached…the wet sand was refreshing to my tired and scorched feet.  Successive waves lapped up to embrace my ankles for brief moments of relief.  This is where I remained for two years as God drew me to salvation.  The sands of sin – though appealing and familiar – became less and less as a draw for me as I experienced more of God’s grace.

God’s Grace: Are you wading, swimming, or resting?

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Many Believers will reflect and find that they are wading in the shallows of God’s grace and purpose for their lives.  I was in the shallows…for years after I was saved. Perhaps it is fear that prevents some from going deeper – fear of the depths, fear of the unknown, fear of what they cannot see or anticipate…fear of not being in control. Maybe it’s a refusal to wander too far from the sands of sin.  Or, it could be that some are comfortable in the shallows because it doesn’t require much effort…doesn’t demand commitment or accountability.

God’s Grace: Are you wading, swimming, or resting?

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Others will discover that they have moved out deeper, and they are swimming in His grace.  These Believers know the joy of being able to experience more of His grace in ministry, in relationships, in life.  Even though they can still touch ground, the waves of His grace move and sway them like a bouy.  As the waves move toward the shore, they sway these Believers some.  But, as the water moves back out to the depths, the pull of the undertow beckons. They must stand their ground…dig their toes into the saturated sand under the waters…to resist the pull…to resist being carried out to the deep.  This is where I found myself about ten years ago.  I called out to Him one night, “Lord, what is the hold? Why am I not experiencing more of You? I know there is more! What is it?”

God’s Grace: Are you wading, swimming, or resting?

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He answered gently and affectionately, “Let go, Tammy.  Stop fighting the tide of My grace.  Lay back and rest.  I will carry you out to the depths.  I will not let you sink…I will not let you drown.  Rest in My grace…trust Me.”  I did.  You know what? He has not let me sink, and He has not let me drown.  Absolutely, I have experienced stormy waters that caused me to fear and doubt and sometimes fight against the waves and the current, but God has sustained me and protected me through the storms and into the calm.  In the depths of His grace and will are the greatest experiences of this journey.  It is in the depths of His grace that we discover our identity and a growing understanding of our Father.  We realize an intimacy and familiarity with His voice and His ways.  What a beautiful place to be where I cannot see land…but to look around and see only the waters of His grace.

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“But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me was not without effect.” v. 10a

His grace is apportioned for very specific purposes.  A primary purpose is to bring us into salvation and to grow us in our faith. However, there is much, much more.  So much more.  We were never meant to dwell in the shallows of salvation.  There is intentionality as God purposes His grace to work in each of us.  When we know the depths of His grace, we are compelled and count it a joy to share that grace with others.

Where are you in the ocean of God’s grace?

The sands?

The shallows?

The deep, deep waters?

Learning and Growing With You…

Tammy

Say Whatcha Mean…and, by Gosh, Mean Whatcha Say.

We’ve all done it.  We know it the moment it happens.  And we cringe inside.  Our internals knot up.  Sometimes…we feel physically ill.  We allow words to pass ((or fly)) through our lips without first consulting our heart and mind…or perhaps we choose to ignore the messages of those two, vital organs altogether…

“Everything is going to be okay.”  ((but we don’t believe it will))

“I don’t know why I said/did that.”  ((but we really do))

“I’m sorry.”  ((but we’re really not.))

“I forgive you.”  ((but we really don’t))

“I will pray for you.”  ((but we know we won’t))

…And then there are those times we believe something so strongly that our mind is shouting, our heart is pounding, and their shared message is at the door of our lips, but we allow fear or pride to kill our voice.  Resounding, painful silence.

There is a situation that begs for truth.  ((silence))

There is a relationship that yearns for reconciliation.  ((silence))

There is a legitimate offense that needs our apology.  ((silence))

There is a need to forgive another…or even again.  ((silence))

There is someone who needs our prayers…now.  ((silence))

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Sunsets are one of my favorites…this is one from a while back.

These are the things that resonated in my spirit when I was meditating on what is now my favorite salvation call in all of the Scriptures…Romans 10:8-13 (NKJV):

But what does it say?  “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith which we preach): that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.

For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.  For the Scripture says, “Whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame.”  For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, for the same Lord over all is rich to all who call upon Him.

For “whoever calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved.”

I asked God, as one who had already been born again and adopted into His kingdom, I asked Him, “God, why believe and confess?  Why is it not enough For someone to believe in their heart?  Why is it not enough for someone to confess with their mouth? Why both?”  Now, I wasn’t asking God out of doubt or challenge of His sovereignty.  I really wanted to know.

El Yeshuati:  Do you remember times when you have spoken things you didn’t believe and how that felt?

Me:  …uh…yeah…😕

El Yeshuati:  And do you remember times when you believed something so strongly and wanted to say it, but you didn’t?

Me:  …(groan)…yaaaaasssss…😩

And there was His breath of understanding.  The fingerprint of His Word.  He knows how distracted (on a good day) our hearts and mouths can be, and He knows how deceitful (on a really, really not good day) our hearts and mouths can be.  When we enter that moment of surrendering our lives to His Lordship, He wants our heart and mouth to meet and agree on who Jesus is and what Jesus did for us.

When we confess with our mouth that Jesus is Lord, we are acknowledging, agreeing, and making verbal covenant that Jesus is who He is revealed to be in the Gospel.  When we believe in our heart that Jesus was crucified for our sins and resurrected from the dead, we are demonstrating faith in God and entrusting our very self – our spiritual and physical life – to His deliverance, protection, healing, preservation.

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God loves you infinitely and immeasurably more than I love ((COFFEE))…now that’s  a lot of  L❤️VE❗️

This is available to anyone.  ANYONE.  It says so in the above verses.  Twice.  It’s even available to that co-worker who acts so ugly.  It’s available to your momma’s-friend’s-son who stole something very precious from you.  Anyone has access to salvation while on this planet…even and especially those who abuse, mistreat…deal harshly or speak lies…murder and thieve…and also those who live good, moral lives without regard for God.

Whoever..WHOEVER…all, any, every, the whole and as many as choose Him…

Will.  Be.  Saved.

Saved from what?  I’m so glad you asked.  Saved from spending eternity separated from God…saved from spending an eternity in ultimate,  indescribable darkness with gnashing of teeth and torment and punishment and unrectifiable awareness that you denied Christ because you did not believe and confess when you had the opportunities and ability.

I was rescued from that end in October 1995 on a Sunday night in a pile of brokenness on my daughter’s bedroom floor.  There was no “repeat-after-me prayer”…no Romans Road…no formulaic prayer.  It was just a very transparent me bringing the overflow of my fractured and surrendered heart through the honest confession of my mouth to a holy, forgiving, loving, compassionate, merciful, patient, kind Father who received me with fullness and rejoicing.

You can have this assurance, too.  All you need is a heart and a mouth.  Even if you can’t articulate audible words, God hears your thoughts and reads your heart.  Just confess and believe.

Learning and Growing with You ~ Tammy