CHARITY AND LOVE

The scripture in 1Corinthians 13 is hanging on the wall of my bathroom.  A wedding gift from a friend, I have made sure it was a permanent fixture in each of our recent moves.  Even in my camper, the plaque laid up against a wall, forward facing so that it was in view. I realized it was the perfect wedding gift as I have had to rely on the words many times to remind me of the power of love and charity.

Love and charity starts in your heart and is a reflection of Christ.  It is definitely something that should accompany marriage but really it should be a part of each of us, especially if we want good things in this world to happen.  We all talk about them. Peace, love, happiness. But life rocks on and oftentimes we forget. Not that we forget how to love but as life happens we forget how to show love in a way that is pleasing to Christ.  In this time of pandemic when we have the gift of spending more time with our family – do we truly see it as a gift? Are we taking this time that God has permitted us to have to mend brokenness, to repair communication – the kind of communication that gets hasty and short in times of busyness, but now could be slower, kinder and more thoughtful – afterall, we have the time right? 

This time is revealing.  It painfully displays what we miss.  And in some families it joyfully reveals a gratitude for a season that God has given us to draw closer to those we love and to Him.  For those who aren’t complying with the social distancing guidance, who are openly bashing all authority on social media, for all of those when cannot be still and quiet and peaceful during this time, quiet possibly it is revealing what you seek and rely on to fill you in this life.  Shopping, wants vs. needs, social events, idols like sports, concerts, material possessions – none of which are bad, but if amidst uncertainty and times of unprecedented chaos they are what your focus is on then it reveals what your priorities are. And this is not to judge those but to merely display how unsettled we are when we allow other things to fill us besides charity and love.  We pine for the things that are most important to us and those are the things we become vocal about. What if we all became quiet and just rested in this God given time and allowed our family – our spouses and kids, our parents and siblings – to be the center of our attention, wanting for nothing else outside our four walls and soaking up all of the time that we previously wished we had.  All of the time we spoke about and all of the promises of things we would do if only we had time? And what if we studied the Bible more, prayed more and just rested in the truths of a Holy God?

The Bible says in 1 Corinthians 13 (KJV)

1Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.

2 And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing.

3 And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing.

4 Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up,

5 Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil;

6 Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth;

7 Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.

8 Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away.

9 For we know in part, and we prophesy in part.

10 But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away.

11 When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.

12 For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.

13 And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.

“ Love reflects Christ.  When you read this passage of scripture, it is a reflection of how Christ loves us.  It is a promise and a guide for how we should love. His love is mature, selfless, charitable and for the right reasons.  It is not something that happens when he has extra time, it is something that happens all of the time and models how we should not only love and pour into our families but how we should love and pour into our community, church, and into the world.  And this is why it is hanging in my bathroom. I need to be reminded on a daily basis of how to love well. You see I love my family with my whole being but love forgives a lot. Oftentimes we take for granted our spouses and children and while we love them, we don’t love them well and according to how Jesus asks us to love.  Right now has never been a better time to model this type of love within your household. Practice it. We all form habits that busy lives help create but we are not busy right now.   

Right now in this season of uncertainty, how about we not spend our time trying to figure out everything outside our homes but to start today with applying these truths internally.  Because love and charity both start at home.  

I think of families right now in this situation who are spending lots of time together maybe for the very first time.  Especially in homes where mom and dad both work, it may be a first for families to be all under the roof at one time. What a wonderful gift from our Lord.  

In 1 Peter 3, verses 1-2, the topic header in my Bible is Submission to Husbands.  Most people see that and likely scroll past. We don’t live in a time where submission to anyone is on our radar.  It isn’t popular because it denies you of self and while it isn’t popular, it is expected of us by God. Today, I’d like to focus less on the perceived negative feeling this gives us.  I mean, what modern day woman wants to submit to her husband, we are made equals by society and in some cases women are exalted above men. Thinking about willing giving up that status in life not only makes us uncomfortable, it threatens our pride and position and we simply apply our wants and desires and avoid this scripture.  So let’s take a different approach. I read this today because I am wired to do hard things. It is a trait I was taught as a child. My dad used to say this, “Take old can’t, and whip old couldn’t, til he can”. Follow me – simply put, “you can do this”. Put away fears, negativity, lack of motivation, and the don’t wants – bury it and just do it! You can.

I am forever grateful for this lesson.  So I do hard things. I do the nasty chores first,  I do the dreaded thing first and I read the things that will step on my toes the most.  So, we are going there and here is the scripture for you to read.  

1 Peter 3:1 Likewise, ye wives, be in subjection to your own husbands; that, if any obey not the word, they also may without the word be won by the conversation of the wives;

I have read this verse quite a few times in my life.  I had to reread it again today because for the first time, something stood out that I had never seen before.  I underlined it for you so maybe you wouldn’t miss it like I did.

You see submissitting is what Jesus did.  He submitted to His Holy Father to be an example to us of love and charity.  Jesus was powerful and perfect. We are not either of those things and we need Jesus to help us.  Jesus’ submission to the cross is the reason that we can be saved, all sins forgiven- no matter how bad they are, and why we are able to secure our eternal home in heaven.  There were people in Jesus’ time on earth that would never read scripture (obey not the word) and there are people in our homes and lives just like that but because of His openly displayed submission to God, he revealed to everyday people what the word of God tells us, so that “they also may without the word be won”.  As wives, our submission and commitment to integrity, kindness, gentleness is not only pleasing to God but it is our testimony to an unbelieving spouse. It is the way in which we depict the love and forgiveness of Jesus Christ. 

Love and charity begins in our heart and in our homes.  Only then can it be spread throughout a lost and dying world.  

You don’t have to feel helpless right now.  Although we are “stuck” in our homes, I pray you will take this time to work on and increase the love and charity in your home.  It is a time like no other for spreading the love of Jesus. People are uncertain but Christ gives us eternal certainty. 1 Peter 14 says, “But even if you should suffer for righteousness sake, you are blessed. And do not be afraid of theri threats nor be troubled. 15 But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you with meekness and fear.

Today is the day of salvation for many but it is going to take love and charity to reach people.  It will take you doing what you think might be hard and reaching out to them by living a life pleasing to God, by submitting yourself to the cause of Christ in your home and community, and by genuinely being able to give a reason to people who might question your bubbly hope amidst a world under pandemic.

Usable even when you are not capable.

I recently led the devotion at our church breakfast. Here was my message. I have to apologize to Luke for not telling him I am speaking today.  He is my greatest encourager but I knew that if I told him I would rely on his encouragement and not seek God’s and I needed this to be between me and God – for me to fully rely on him for the courage to speak and to make my words pleasing to Him.

I want you to listen to this promise.  The Bible in Luke 12:11-12 says, “And when they bring you unto the synagogues, and unto magistrates, and powers, take ye no thought how or what thing ye shall answer, or what ye shall say; 12 For the Holy Ghost shall teach you in the same hour what ye ought to say.”

Today this is not about me. In fact I caution my kids about using that word too much. So when I use the word I please know that I am a sinner and I have failed so many times when God has called me to do something because I am capable but I have not made myself usable.  Today, me standing here is about surrender. It is about yielding to a tugging in my heart to do what I know God has asked me to do many times before in one form or another and I declined because of fear. The thing is that as I stand here I know God is with me, I know that I am standing before brothers and sisters in Christ and I know that no matter how bad that I might stumble on my words that the point of my being here is far beyond me- it is about doing the what God has asked me to do many times before.  It’s about being usable.  

I have wrestled with this a long time.  So today I want to ask that you pray for me.  I am thankful to this church for the growth that I have experienced. Our church gives us lots of opportunities to grow but we in the flesh have to be willing to step out on faith.  I have allowed God to use me many times in my life but it was always on my terms it seems.

I was saved when I was 7 years old.  It was Easter Sunday morning in 1978.  I remember feeling called to walk forward and ask God into my life yet at 7 my testimony of salvation was pretty simple.  I believed in God and knew I didn’t want to go to hell, I loved the Lord and I wanted to be a part of His family forever. It was vividly real and is to this day and I understood completely that I was proclaiming Jesus as my Lord and Savior – that feeling of wanting to please Him and belong to Him never left me and various times in my walk in life I felt called to do more -and so I have lead a women’s Bible study and lead youth, taught Sunday School, gone on mission trips where we repaired a church and held back yard Bible School all roles where I blended into groups, but I have always had a fear of one on one witnessing to others.  I have never been ashamed for people to know I am a Christian, however, I had a fear of not knowing what to say, of saying the wrong thing, of not knowing the Bible well enough that someone might know more and trip me up. I was capable but there is a difference between being capable and being usable.

It was only recently that I asked God to make me usable.  I have wanted to be usable but something always stopped me from saying those words because I knew God was just waiting to hear them and I wasn’t sure what He would do with me when I finally gave into them.  I have chased big dreams, had great careers, been blessed with lots of education and the Lord has been good to me. He has given me a wonderful life with opportunities to sit in top positions where I worked, travel, make good money, build businesses, serve on boards and have my name known and I thrived at these things and yet the closer I got to Him, the more none of those things mattered to me.  And that is where I am today. What stood out to me is that with all of those things that in the worlds eyes would deem me successful that He permitted me to be and do and which are truly blessings, those things left me empty compared to the feeling I get from doing just some simple act that He asked me to do – and I mean simple stuff – like something that didn’t require much of me but that he put on my heart and that I yielded to and said yes to instead of no.  That very small and insignificant thing honored Him in some small way and though it was barely worthy of much, He was glorified because of my obedience and that filled my soul like nothing else I had ever done. I felt like I did as a little girl doing something a little girl would do to please her daddy. It makes me so happy. I have learned that At the core of these simple things is one common thread. The things that make me feel whole are the things I do in service and surrender to God.  Of all of the experience and education that the Lord has permitted me to have, the skills He is calling me to use are not those – they are the spiritual gifts He created me with from the beginning- acts of service such as hospitality, a tender heart, compassion, the desire to work hard and help others and a willingness to be usable to further His kingdom. Things that aren’t deemed important in business or as a path to accomplishing success – at least by the world’s standards. The things that matter to people at the most basic level, like inviting someone to our table for a meal, dropping off a coat, those are things that come so easy for me to do.  They are things that bless others in a very small way and I have always loved doing these things but I underestimated their ability to reach others for Christ and I totally skipped right past how these things open doors to witness to people. I missed out on some great chances to use what was right in front of me because I was so busy doing what I thought I was supposed to do be successful according to the world. I missed what God was wanting from me because I was capable but had not made myself usable.  

When I first heard that verse I read earlier in Luke – when I truly heard it and applied it,  it was truly life altering. I was very convicted because I believe the Bible as truth and if the Lord promised me He would give me the words to say to witness to someone then feeding someone was not enough.  I knew that the food was to meet their physical needs but that I was being called to share with them the only thing that could ever meet their spiritual needs and that was the Word of God.  

So I asked God to make me usable.  To help me get over my fear. To trust His promise that He would give me the words.  To help me surrender to what He was asking for me to do. I prayed for opportunities to go from being just capable to being usable.  Because capable means you are able to do something. And if you are not capable – God will grant you the ability. But Being usable means you have your heart right, your attitude right, you are willing, yielding and trusting no matter what,  without stipulations or negotiations with God.

I was really nervous to be up here today.  But I am being pecked on the shoulder by God.  He has let me know that fear is a liar and because we are not promised tomorrow and that every person I meet, it just might be their only chance to come to know Him. And even though sometimes I am still afraid of Him asking more of me that I think I might can do,  I am trusting in His word and I am using my everyday ordinary life to serve Him. 

The Bible says, “He will never leave you nor forsake you. Deuteronomy 31:6

I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me. Phillipians 4:13

These are more than wall hangers guys.  if we believe in them and apply them, they will give you a calm and a confidence like nothing else can.  Just ask Him to make you usable then trust Him, step out on faith and obey Him when he gives you the opportunity to witness. Use your ordinary everyday life – your broken faucet, your flat tire, a spare coat, the slowest line at the store, a trip to the ER – whatever God gives you, be usable in that circumstance and It will work out beautifully every time.   

Today you can stand on His promise that He will be right there with you. 

According to my earnest expectation and my hope, that in nothing I shall be ashamed but that with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ shall be magnified in my body, where it be by life or by death.  Phillipians 1:20

That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men but in the power of God. 1 Corinthians

My name is Diana but I am no princess.

Welcome to On the Other Side of Grace. I am Diana. My closest people call me Deedee. Actually, everyone calls me Deedee unless you are the bank, the insurance company, or the officer pulling me over for speeding……. I want to share with you a journey of grace extended but undeserved and how it has transformed my life. I am so glad that you are here and it is my hope that you will see how an ordinary girl from a small town in Arkansas is loved and forgiven, cared for and watched over, extended all of the good things in life, better than any princess. Welcome to the Other Side of Grace.

And He said unto me, My Grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ rest upon me. 2 Corinthians 12:9

“Grace”, according to Webster’s dictionary is God’s unmerited divine assistance given to humans for their regeneration or sanctification. I added God to the definition they give because He is the only “divine” I know.

“Grace of God”, according to Webster is the free and unmerited favor or beneficence of God; God’s grace is manifested in the salvation of sinners. It’s free. In the Hebrew language, Grace means favor. I, like everyone else, turn to Google on occasion to further investigate topics. I loved this! Someone asked Google How do we obtain God’s grace? Google answered, “To receive grace from God, to live in His grace, to gain His power over sin…Simply humbly believe in Him. It really is that simple. And while I often times question Google – they got this right!

Now that you know a little more about what grace means, let’s see it in real life application. Stick with me for a real life account of grace. You will be enlightened with true accounts of my life that are funny, serious, sad, happy, but mostly I pray, inspiring, as you see that God’s grace covers even the craziest things life can throw at you.