Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Receive the Gift

For the law brings wrath, but where there
is no law there is no transgression. That is
why it depends on faith, in order that the
promise may rest on grace and be
guaranteed to all his offspring—not only
to the adherent of the law but also to the
one who shares the faith of Abraham…
                            Romans 4:15-16 

     John Stott says, “Faith’s only function is to receive what grace offers.” C.S. Lewis wrote, “A man whose hands are full of parcels can’t receive a gift.” Romans 4:16 tells us that God’s promise is a pure gift. Anyone who has faith to believe may receive the gift of God’s grace.
     Many might ask, “Is it possible to receive God’s gift of grace without strict adherence to God’s law?” Others believe that if one commandment of God is broken, redemption may not be possible. Some believe that there is evil beyond God’s grace to forgive.

     There are those that I might like to exclude from God’s gift of grace. The abominable leader that commits atrocities against his own citizenry, the one who takes from a child their innocence and purity or those who stand defiantly cursing God—any of them might find their names on my list of unworthy of God’s grace.

     But God peered through the ages, saw every sin, and He extended His gift of grace to all. Revelation 22:17 is a beautiful portrait of God’s outstretched hand of grace, “And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take of the water of life freely.”

     “Come, everyone who thirsts…” (Isaiah 55:1) It is a matter of life and death—a universal invitation to receive the gift of life offered by Almighty God. It is impossible for any man or woman to walk a lifetime without breaking God’s law. But without God’s law we would have no knowledge of our transgressions. The law was given by God to make us aware of our need for His grace. Christ came to be a visible extension of God’s grace to mankind.

     Creation, the Cross of Christ, the empty tomb all cry out to fallen man—He is alive, He is real, He is calling your name. Please, open your heart and receive the gift.

© Joyce Powell

Friday, September 26, 2014

To Know Christ

I want to know Christ…
Philippians 3:10 NIV
Twenty years ago I was standing on a platform accepting an award for Song of the Year from the Southern Gospel Music Association of Texas.  As I stepped down from the small platform, I was greeted by the open arms of Lou Hildreth. I did not know Lou accept to know that she also was a nominee for Song of the Year. She was warm, gracious, and whispered an encouraging word in my ear as we walked away from the stage area.
In that moment, God melted our hearts together and we became real friends. As months passed our relationship grew into love and respect and she became my publisher. I discovered much about her over the next few years, and as I watched her interaction with others, it appeared that all who knew Lou loved her unashamedly and many of those who did not know her vied for her attention and her friendship.

Friendship with Lou also meant friendship with Howard, her sweet husband. Together they have blessed thousands upon thousands of lives. Although several years ago our lives became separated by miles and time, we remain friends and when I want to see her smiling face I simply pop a Gaither video into my CD player and wait for the camera to pan in her direction. Then I smile!
Over the years, I have learned to desire that same kind of relationship with Christ. At the age of eleven, I prayed for repentance of my sin and invited Jesus to live in my heart. But it was many years before I understood the full meaning of that Sunday morning walk down the right-side aisle of my church. Not until my mid thirties did I truly begin to search for my belief in God rather than the belief of my parents and grandparents. As it turns out, it is the same belief—with a few very minor twists.
But, in all my searching, seeking, praying, and studying of God’s Word, I figured out one thing; to know Christ is personal. I cannot absorb the knowledge from others, I cannot depend on my parent’s or grandparent’s relationship with Christ, and I cannot simply take the words of others for truth. To know Christ, to form a true friendship with Him, to have a relationship with the One and Only who gave His life for mine requires participation on my part.
I do not want Christ as an acquaintance but rather as a friend who is closer than a brother. Just like friendship with Lou has a bonus of friendship with Howard, friendship with my Savior, with Jesus, with Christ gives me access to the God of all creation, Jehovah, I AM. Father! For when I go to the throne room of God, I pass through the blood of Jesus. My sin is covered by His love for me.
So my goal is to know Christ, be like Christ and to be who Christ calls me to be—only made possible because He loved me first and drew me to himself. You too may already recognize that He loves you. He is calling you. He wants to spend time with you. If you do not, I can think of no greater goal in life than to know Christ.
© Joyce Powell

Thursday, September 25, 2014

In My Father's House

Let not your heart be troubled;
ye believe in God, believe also in me.
In my Father’s house are many
mansions; if it were not so I would
have told you. I go to prepare a place for
you. And if I go and prepare a place for
you, I will come again and receive you
unto myself; that where I am, there
 ye may be also.
                John 14:1-3 KJV 

     These verses jumped off the page and directly into my heart as I bowed before my Lord this morning. You see, my husband and I are expecting company. Our brother-in-love, my sister’s husband, is coming to visit, and we await his arrival with great joy and anticipation. However, one corner of my heart aches as I realize my sister will not be with him. She is waiting for us in heaven.

     While I thought about making preparations for one instead of two, my Heavenly Father drew me to John Fourteen. He called to mind that I am not the only one making preparations.
     The first words of Jesus in this chapter instructed me to let go of my troubled heart as I believe that Christ has gone to prepare a place for me. Perhaps my sister is helping decorate my mansion, reminding Jesus that red is my favorite color and I would really like a place to sit and read. Maybe they are preparing the big screen where I can watch Biblical history march through time from Genesis forward.
     Whatever the preparations being made, Jesus said it is for me and when it is ready, He will come for me and I will go to be with Him.
     Although the details of eternity are not known, we look forward to eternal life because we believe what Christ told us. Just as Terry can trust us to provide him with everything he needs to enjoy his visit, we can trust Christ that heaven is real for all who believe and put their trust in Him.
     For now we dwell in an earthly house made by human hands, but I am looking forward to the day when we will dwell together in my Father’s house. 

© Joyce Powell

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Out of the Mouth

The mouth of the righteous is a
fountain of life.   Proverbs 10:11 NIV  

Wisdom is found on the lips of
the discerning.   Proverbs 10:13 NIV 

The tongue of the righteous is
choice silver.     Proverbs 10:20 NIV 

The lips of the righteous nourish
many.               Proverbs 10:21 NIV

     Practical wisdom for godly living is the description my Bible notes give for Solomon’s collection of thoughts in Proverbs 10.
     It is interesting to note that the mouth can be a “fountain of life,” the tongue can be “choice silver,” and the lips can “nourish” many.
    In this age of vile and ugly words spewed out as a general way of speaking, it is good for us to pause for a moment and dwell on the consequences of our words.
     Luke 6:45 tells me that the mouth speaks out of the overflow or the abundance of what is in my heart. Therefore, I have a choice to make. Do I want my mouth to display a fountain of life or be a cesspool of sewage? Do I want my tongue to speak with the beauty found in choice silver or be as dull rusty iron? Do I want my lips to nourish many or leave them malnourished and hungering for good?
     Each of us must make our own decision about the words we choose to speak. We are wise if we remember that whatever fills our heart will be displayed as a roadside billboard when it comes out of our mouth!
© Joyce Powell

Monday, September 22, 2014

Friday, September 19, 2014

The LORD Reigns

The LORD reigns, He is robed in majesty;
the LORD is robed in majesty and is armed
with strength. The world is firmly established;
it cannot be moved.           Psalm 93:1 NIV       

      Where was God? Have you heard that question asked from someone during times of great distress or tragedy? Maybe you have asked it yourself. Events of this life can overwhelm us and cause great agony. A sudden illness, loss of a child, or the evening news can push us to an emotional brink, and we may find ourselves in desperation calling out and asking, “God if you are there, why did you let this happen?”
     Psalm 93 is a powerful reminder that God reigns. He is the King on His throne. He is able to take action with strength, power, and might! His throne is established from all eternity—not just in the future but in the past as well. Never has there been a time when God did not exist. Therefore, never has there been a time when God did not maintain control.

     Sometimes it seems as though the foundation of our world is shaken. But God’s Word says, “the world is firmly established; it cannot be moved.”  Creation understands this. The rivers clap their hands together in His praise. The songbirds lift their voices and praise Him. The morning glory shakes off the dew and lifts her face in adoration of the King.

     We may never understand why horrific things happen. We may think that God is not doing anything about the tragedies of this life. We may sometimes forget that God acts, He does not react.

     In spite of all the bad news, heartache and tragedy we face in our world, we must never forget that God is in control. We can believe Him. We can trust Him. Only He can bring peace in the midst of heartache, joy in the midst of sorrow and a song in the midst of the darkest night.

     Trust Him. He is robed in majesty. He is armed with strength. He loves you. The LORD reigns.

© Joyce Powell

Thursday, September 18, 2014

The Dustbowl of Spiritual Drought

O God, you are my God,
earnestly I seek you;
my soul thirsts for you,
my body longs for you,
in a dry and weary land
where there is no water.
      Psalm 63:1 NIV

     Six a.m. and it has been raining for the past two hours. Thunder rolls through the Hill Country as the answer to many prayers cleanses the land and washes away months of dust. Here in south Texas, wearied by heat and drought, we have longed for rain.
     Like the physical drought in our land, we can also face a spiritual drought; a time when we do not seem to hear from God. The reasons for a spiritual drought may be varied but the result is the same; dryness of soul and spirit.
     Loss of relationship, grief, loss of a job, financial distress or family difficulties are only a few reasons for personal spiritual drought. Longings for restoration in these areas can distract our focus from God and place it on our life situation. The longer we are distracted the stronger satan’s pull away from God and toward spiritual drought.
     When I find myself drifting toward the dustbowl of spiritual drought and my soul begins to grow thirsty and weary, David’s words ring loud in my heart, and I am reminded to earnestly seek God. His Word becomes a wellspring of life as renewed strength and spiritual energy refresh and restore my soul.
     If you are in the dustbowl of spiritual drought, earnestly seek God. I guarantee He will refresh your soul with living water.
© Joyce Powell