Leaning into Thankful: Part 3 of 3

Returning Home to Grace

NLC Worship CD, Our God & Our King song Thankful, describes where I was, and where my heart is now. I have written the words to the song in bold throughout this post, I pray you are encouraged by them.

Though I accepted Jesus as my savior in my teens, I would be in my late forties before I realized what grace was about and Who grace is!

For ten years I was away from church. It wasn’t something I decided to do one Sunday morning; it was a slow walking away. Missed a meeting here, missed a meeting there, and before I realized it ten years had gone by. Ten years away from fellowship with the saints of God and ten years away from personal fellowship with my Heavenly Father. My bible gathered dust and my prayers were not powerful, they were; Pitiful. Worrisome. Complaining prayers. Sometimes they were cries for help, but mostly they were pity-party style.

I was homesick. A foreigner in a foreign land and I longed to go home where people understood me. I had moved countries and hadn’t settled in a church, I had visited many but none seemed a good fit, so it was easy to miss meetings. No-one was going to miss me.

Nightly muffled tears ran down my cheeks as I silently prayed, “Lord, I wanna go home.” I was referring to my earthly home. He knew better. I needed my spiritual home. I needed Him.

I was invited to attend a bible study group in a neighbor’s home; I went because I didn’t like to say no to my sweet neighbor. The group met weekly and I returned each week even though most weeks I reckoned it was going to be my last week. Slowly I was being drawn back to the Father. I knew I needed to find a church home.

I visited two other churches before I walked into New Life Church (NLC). As soon as I walked into the sanctuary I felt the presence of the Lord, something (someone) I had not felt in ten years. A sigh went out from deep within me as I breathed out the words “Home.”

I was lost, Jesus you found me. In your mercy you sought me out, lifted me out of the ashes, to your unfailing love. To your unfailing love

I was lost, but He knew where I was and He was patient with me. He didn’t leave me but drew me quietly back to Himself. The song talks about the Lord lifting us out of the ashes and pulling us out of the wreckage. That is exactly what He did for me, and He will do it for you if you are willing.

 You came for me when I was lost, hopelessly lost. Your life for my liberty on the cross traded on the cross.

I was the guilty-one not Jesus, yet He died for me, trading places so I may live in His liberty and freedom. He did this for you too.

King of Kings, rising in Glory. To the darkness your light has come, pulling me out of the wreckage to your unfailing love. To your unfailing love

His love is truly unfailing, He is not fickle like me, and the pressures of this life don’t control Him. He is light and He brought me out from under the dark cloud that engulfed me.

For your love everlasting, I will be thankful. For your mercy unending, I will be thankful. For the cross that you carried, I will be thankful. All my sin has been buried, I will be thankful.

I am thankful God did not give up on me, thankful He pursued me before and after I asked Him to be in my heart. I am forever thankful for His love, His mercy, His sacrifice and His forgiveness. I am thankful for His unfailing love. I am thankful I came face to face with Grace.

Our Heavenly Father waits for us with eager eyes and a longing heart for our return home to Him. He pursues us with His love and gently draws us closer to Himself. Come home dear one, back into fellowship with the One who loves you. He’s waiting for you.

Helena

Looking to Jesus. Living in His Radiance

I had the privilege of sharing this article a few months back on Alice Standford’s blog mesetfree.com be sure to check her website out. Oops! sorry my link button is not working to connect you straight to Alice’s blog, but type in her web address in a search engine, you’ll be glad you did.

 

 

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Radical Love: Part 1

As a child, Good Friday meant eating hot cross buns loaded with butter and topped with strawberry jam…Delicious!

For me, hot cross buns was the only good thing about Good Friday. Why on earth would anyone think it was a good day was beyond my comprehension. A man had died. No, not just a man. God’s son had died and, people called it a good. Did they not like him? Were they glad to get rid of him? I didn’t see the good, except for the Hot Cross buns.

Even though I accepted Jesus as my savior as a teenage, it would still be many years before I would remotely begin to understand the good in Good Friday…yes, I am still learning, still discovering, still realizing the good.

JESUS KNEW THE PLAN

“I came from the Father and entered the world;

now I am leaving the world and going back to the Father.”

John 16:28

His death and method of death was not a surprise to Him. I don’t think it was physical death that bothered Him so much as it was the spiritual death (separation from the presence of God) that He would go through.

Luke 22:37 NIV ” It is written:  ‘And he was numbered with the transgressors’, and I tell you that this must be fulfilled in me. Yes, what is written about me is reaching its fulfillment.”

His life was not taken from Him, but rather He gave himself for us.

He was the sacrificial lamb to be slaughtered for our sins. He was willing but the reality of actually going through with it hit home and He prayed. “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” He knew what to expect and He still went through with the plan to rescue us from eternal separation from God. Now that is Love!

“He stayed there, not because the nails held Him, but because His love for you and me did.”

As Jesus hung nailed to the cross, people in the crowd shouted “He saved others; let him save himself if he is the Christ of God, the Chosen One.” Luke 23:35b. Of course He could of saved Himself, He could of left the cross whenever He chose.

But, He didn’t!

He stayed there not because the nails held him, but because love for you and me did.

Abandoned

From noon to three, the whole earth was dark. Around midafternoon Jesus groaned out of the depths, crying loudly, “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?” which means, “My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?” Matthew 27:45,46 Message Bible

It blows my mind that Jesus willingly went to the cross knowing that when the sin of the world was place solely on Him, it would cause Him to be separated from His Father. The Father that He had been one with before the world was ever created. Now that is radical love!

I don’t think it could of been easy for God either, seeing His son bearing the sin of this world. God is Holy and there isn’t any darkness in Him, so to see Jesus full of darkness must of been really hard. Some say that God turned away from Jesus at this time, that would explain why Jesus asked why He had abandoned Him.

Salvation through Jesus was His plan, His idea because He too loves us.

“For God so [greatly]loved and dearly prized the world, that He [even] gave His [One and] only begotten Son, so that whoever believes and trusts in Him [as Savior] shall not perish, but have eternal life.” John 3:6 Amp

The price was paid, the transaction was done and salvation had been secured…

…Sunday is coming!

If you have not accepted God’s gift of salvation, please don’t hesitate. He loves you so much and is eager to forgive you of sin and restore you to a personal relationship with Himself.

Helena

Looking to Jesus. Living in His Radiance

Share and encourage a friend.

What does Good Friday mean to you? Look forward to hearing from you in the comment box.