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God’s Grace

I was definitely a target this past week, because hell came against me in all its fury.  Somehow I survived this week of being hit with one fiery dart after another after another.  It was non-stop, and it was draining.

 

And now I stop.  Because did I really just say “somehow”?  It’s not somehow.  It’s never somehow.  It’s never an unknown, nameless force.

 

It was grace.  It is always grace.

God’s amazing grace.

God’s uplifting grace.

God’s encouraging grace.

God's Grace

God’s grace.  It kept fists at my side when I was assaulted by a mistimed encounter with a disgruntled sibling.  Way too early in the morning.  Before I was ready for work, had breakfast, or was even fully dressed.  When the conversation was predicated with a repeated “I just have one quick question” – that was neither quick nor singular.

 

God’s grace.  It kept frustration at bay – and hopefully out of my voice – when a customer ripped into me about her dissatisfaction and demanded money back.  Without providing any information on who she was and what exactly happened.  She insisted on talking and expressing herself in demands without giving me much opportunity to speak.

 

God’s grace.  It kept insanity from bubbling over.  It said “get up” when several crazy things happened at one and I was completely overwhelmed.  When the screams inside my head threatened to expel from my lips and I felt my last good nerve snap because there were too many things at one time coming at me.

 

God’s grace.  It kept tongue in check when no one paid attention and then no one took responsibility for a call that should not have happened.  When the finger pointed in every other direction than toward self and it was always someone else’s fault.

 

God’s grace.  It stayed back exhaustion each night until I could get home safely and collapse into bed.

 

Because I know without a doubt that I would have imploded or just stayed in bed without the hope and uplift of God’s grace.  Because grace reminds me that God is wise beyond my own human understanding.  That God will help me find balance in the middle of my chaotic emotions and crazy reality.  That God loves me through all the messes, the meanies, and the wrong messages.  God’s grace.  So beautifully explained in Isaiah 43.

 

God’s grace.  Which reminds me of His love unconditional and true.  “… I have called you by your name; You are Mine …” (1d-e).

 

God’s grace.  Which reminds me that He is always with me and will keep me safe within His purposes.  “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; And through the rivers, they shall not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned, Nor shall the flame scorch you.” (2).

 

God’s grace.  Which reminds me that I have a loving Savior who purposely chose me and has a great plan to redeem me.  “Fear not, for I have redeemed you … For I am the Lord your God, The Holy One of Israel, your Savior” (1c, 3a-b).

 

God’s grace.  Which reminds me I am completely precious to God.  “Since you were precious in My sight, You have been honored, And I have loved you” (4a-c).

 

God’s grace.  Which reminds me that fear and frustration only invite darkness in and keep me from hope and peace that want to envelope me.  “Fear not, for I am with you” (5a).

 

God’s grace.  Which reminds me that I am uniquely and wonderfully made by His loving hands for His glorious purposes.  “Everyone who is called by My name, Whom I have created for My glory; I have formed him, yes, I have made him” (7).

 

God’s grace.  Which reminds me the impossible is never out of reach when I trust in the God of the impossible.  “Thus says the Lord, who makes a way in the sea And a path through the mighty waters … I will even make a road in the wilderness And rivers in the desert.” (16, 19d-e).

 

God’s grace.  Which reminds me that there is always a new opportunity, a new possibility, and a new chance.  “Behold, I will do a new thing, Now it shall spring forth; Shall you not know it?” (19a-c)

 

It’s grace.

It’s always grace.

When you think there isn’t another step you can take, grace nudges you forward.

When you think there is a word you have to say, grace encourages silence.

When you think your strength is gone, grace infuses you with a little more.

When you think there is no way out, grace shines a ray of hope through the darkness.

When you think God has forgotten you, grace whispers “never!”

When you think God’s love has run out, grace whispers “impossible!”

When you think God isn’t working for you, grace whispers “watch!”

 

So this past week reminded me the importance of leaning into grace.  It will get you through.

 

Marie Fremin.  4/29-4/30/17

David

Are you familiar with the story of how David was chosen to be king?  It’s a  story that starts with David being overlooked by his ENTIRE family.

 

King Saul, the first ever king of Israel, disobeyed God by dealing with Amalek his way instead of God’s way (1 Samuel 15:2-3,9).  Saul got distracted from obedience by greed, and God knew this was a pattern that would keep repeating itself.  Because Saul showed no remorse and took no responsibility for what he did (1 Samuel 15:24).  And as leader of Israel, he needed to set the example for Israel in being obedient and fully committed.

 

So God declared it was time for a change, and He already knew who He wanted for the next leader of His people.  And He sends Samuel to let him know.  God tells Samuel to “fill your flask with olive oil and go to Bethlehem. Find a man named Jesse who lives there, for I have selected one of his sons to be my king” (1 Samuel 16:1).

 

Samuel is greeted by Jesse and hosted by the entire family.  Except one – “And Samuel said to Jesse, ‘Are all the young men here?’ Then he said, ‘There remains yet the youngest, and there he is, keeping the sheep’” (1 Samuel 16:11).  David was not worthy enough in his own family to meet the prophet.  He was young, possibly scrawny, and maybe annoying.  So they left him in the sheep fields to do the dirtiest and loneliest work possible.  They chose to not even call him in for supper.   How’s that for insignificant?

 

Because there were seven other sons to choose from, and definitely one of them would be king.  They looked the part.  Even Samuel assumed the oldest and most rugged boy was the next king.  But God had a different plan.  But God wasn’t looking for the look a king.  God was looking for the heart of a servant.  “For the Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7).

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And one by one, all seven of the brothers were brought before Samuel – and quickly rejected as the next king.  Until only David, forgotten out in the fields, was left.  And for the first time since Samuel arrived, David’s existence is mentioned.  So Samuel insists he is brought in.  And immediately God chooses him – “This is the one; anoint him” (1 Samuel 15:12).

 

And maybe in that moment his brothers sat down in complete disbelief.  Surely their mouths dropped open in unveiled surprise.  David?  Really?  But God made His choice, and God was sure.

 

David’s family saw a runt and a pest – God saw a king and a conqueror.  God saw the heart that was already learning trust and loyalty to Him and Him alone.  God saw the heart of a warrior and the determination of a champion.  God saw the patience David was developing being separated from his family.  And God honored that young heart by honoring him first and foremost in front of his family, giving them perhaps the first truth about their wrong treatment of David.

 

And in the moment, David may not have believed he was worthy to be king.  His life didn’t change in that moment, that day, that week, or that year.  In fact, as Samuel was walking away from their home, David probably returned to the place he was most welcome – the sheep field.

 

David may not have believed he was seen and known by God before Samuel arrived.  But he was, and God showed up and showed out on David’s behalf that day and proved to David He cared greatly for him.  Maybe he walked a little taller after that.  Maybe he went back to the sheep fields with new purpose.  He was definitely changed from that point forward.

 

Today is the day you can be changed, too.  Today is the day you can know that God has chosen you.  That God has designed you for something wonderful.  That God has filled you with significance and covered you with importance.  Though you may be overlooked by the world, maybe even by your own family, God sees you and knows you.  And God adores you, just as you are.

 

So today YOU can stand a little taller as you realize how much God loves you, how uniquely God has called you, and how clearly God always sees you.  Let the truth of who you are IN HIM change the way you see yourself.  And let your heart be dedicated and true to Him alone.  Just like David.

 

Marie Fremin.  2/25 and 3/4/17.

Prayer for 2017

prayer-for-2017

In 2017, may you TURN.

Turn fully to God. (Isaiah 40:28)

Turn fully to grace. (Romans 5:8)

Turn fully to repentance. (Psalm 51:16-17)

Turn fully to forgiveness. (Psalm 103:12)

Turn fully to joy. (Psalm 30:5)

Turn fully to peace. (John 14:27)

Turn fully to love. (Romans 8:38-39)

Turn fully to faith. (Matthew 21:21-22)

Turn fully to patience. (Matthew 5:44)

Turn fully to obedience. (1 Samuel 15:22-23)

Turn fully to endurance. (Romans 8:37)

Turn fully to wisdom. (James 1:5)

 

May you be amazed at His goodness.

May you be humbled by His graciousness.

May you be overcome by His compassion.

 

And may you be bold enough to (more) fully turn toward the One waiting to embrace you into His perfect and all-encompassing love.

 

Numbers 6:24-26 – The Lord bless you and keep you; The Lord make His face shine upon you, And be gracious to you; The Lord lift up His countenance upon you, And give you peace.

 

Mary, Did You Know?

To celebrate Christmas 2016 ….

Marie's Hope

At this time of year, when Christmas is wrapping up and people are full of Christmas joy and cheer, we’ve been inundated by movies and songs and church messages that remind us about Mary and her baby. We’re reminded about the Christmas story as told in Matthew and Luke about an angelic presence, a divine conception, a virgin mother, a long journey, and a baby in a manger – when prophecies were fulfilled as the miracle Seed was born in human form. And the story starts with Mary’s choice to say to God “Behold the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word.” (Luke 1:38a).

Mary Lowry’s song “Mary, Did You Know?” plays almost on repeat on the radio. It’s a beautiful song about the divine potential and possibilities that once lay as a newborn in Mary’s arms: (Verse 3) Mary did you…

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Full Of …

I think I have decided that my life theme is the tag line from Quantum Leap – “striving to put right what once went wrong”.  Because I spend my days finding and fixing mistakes and checking for and correcting errors.  And as a result of all that, I try to share information to prevent such things in the future and put systems in place to make things go more smoothly.

 

And then I have days like today, where it is one mistake after one error after one omission after another.  No respite from fixing one problem to having to solve another.  And as I contemplate the day, I wonder about so many things.  I ask so many questions.

 

I wonder how we messed up that job by setting it up under the wrong customer.  I question how we swear we turned in that missing receipt only to find it in our company van when pressed.  I wonder how we can have everything we need in writing yet still enter something incorrectly.  I question how we can bill out a job to a customer without clarifying job items completed and adding notes (and then blaming the office for making it impossible to do so).

 

And yes, these things all happened today.  Seemingly without care.  And it becomes my job (aka my problem, my headache, my stress) to not only find these problems but to fix them.  And with little to no complaint.

 

And I keep going back.  Day after day.  The crazy doesn’t stop.  My hair gets greyer.  So why?  Is it worth it?

 

And God knocks on the door of my heart, wanting to enter the streams of conversation raging through my head.  He has something important to say: it is easy to be disgruntled with the everyday humdrum.  It is easy to grumble about the inconveniences and inconsistencies and inaccuracies.  It is easy to focus on the grievances when the routines rarely change.

 

But we’re called to be better than all this.  We’re called to rise above being disgruntled.  We’re called to let give up the grumbling.  We’re called to forgive the grievances.  Because we’re called to be GRATEFUL.

 

full-of

 

And in the middle of the humdrum, the inconveniences, and the grievances, God tells us to be thankful, to be positive, and to be grateful.

 

Impossible!  I know.

 

I struggle.  I juggle good (positive) thoughts with bad (manipulative) emotions.  I contend between good (affirming) and bad (condemning) choices of actions, reactions, and words.  I waver between criticizing for mistakes and praising for effort.  I resist positive feedback and uplifting encouragement in favor of judgment and knee-jerk reactions.

 

And I’m wrong when I do.  As usual.

 

Because what does God call us to be?  Philippians 4:4-7 gives us 5 goals – “Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice! Let your gentleness be known to all men. The Lord is at hand.  Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”

 

He calls us to be full:

  1. Praise-full – rejoicing in God’s presence and goodness
  2. Grace-full – being gentle toward and careful with people
  3. Prayer-full – lifting all needs and concerns up to God
  4. Thank-full – choosing to appreciate His goodness and blessings
  5. Peace-full – being filled with Him so that we are steady and trusting at all times

 

This means being full of God.  Which means we are full of God’s righteousness.  God’s grace.  God’s truth.  Full of His light and His life.

 

Because we’ll need them.

 

In those moments when it’s easier to focus on what we don’t have (support, resources, control, influence, patience).  When it’s easier to focus on the problems (frustrations, hardships, lack) we have.  When it’s easier to focus on the difficult (impossible, hard, unchanging, unfocused) people in our lives.

 

In any of these situations when it’s easier to give in to grievances than to be full of gratitude, we will need to be full enough to stop in our tracks and turn fully to God.  Because He is full of everything we need to focus in the right direction and on the right thing.

 

So you’ll be full today.

Will it be frustration or forgiveness?

Will it be harassment or healing?

Will it be grating comments or grace?

 

The choice is yours.

 

And the choice is mine.

 

Every day when I go into work.

And I face the problems and the omissions and the mistakes.

And I have to fix them.

When I face the seeming apathy and lack of apology.

And I have to battle screaming out loud at them.

 

I pray this lesson resonates deeply within my soul and echoes into the recesses of my emotions.

I pray this lesson settles deeply into my heart and continues to change my approach.

I pray I remember that all these things are temporary, a momentary aggravation that will pass.

 

I need to stay focused on what is important.

I need to remember to be grateful.

 

Because it’s not about me at all.

It’s not about my comfort or my being settled.

It’s about God being glorified.

 

Which means I need to choose wisely to be full of gratitude, no matter what happens.

Because this allows God to do mighty things in me and around me.

It allows God to do amazing things for me and through me.

It allows God to be in control of all of who I am and all that is going on around me.

 

So Father, please help me to choose gratitude over everything else.  When I am in the throws of ingratitude and grumbling, pull at my heart strings and remind me of this lesson.  Focus me on being full of You and Your grace instead of grumbling at the inconveniences.  Thank You for reminding me gratitude is what matters.

 

Marie Fremin.  9/29-10/1/16.

Label or Love

Christian.

 

I’ve been thinking about this word and all its implications.  So many people wear this word as a badge of honor, thinking it distinguishes them as good and right.

 

label-or-love

But does it?

 

Because Jesus set the new standard.  He told us what was most important in Matthew 22 – “37 Jesus said to him, You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. 38 This is the first and great commandment. 39 And the second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. 40 On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.”

 

What’s most important?  Anyone else would have said following me or giving to me or being like me.  But not Jesus.  When asked what was most important to God, Jesus narrowed it down to one word: LOVE.

 

Not the label of being His follower.  Not the benefits of the blessings God can bestow.  Not the glory of being one of His children.

 

But love.  Loving your fellow man.

 

Paul explains love in 1 Corinthians 13.  We can be the best version of ourselves, but without love it isn’t authentic or lasting: “1 Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. 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, but have not love, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing”.

 

Without love, what do we really have?  We have noise.  We have the avoidance of wisdom.  We have nothing of eternal value.  John agrees with this, saying “He who does not love does not know God, for God is love” (1 John 4:8).

 

So I wonder what all our paraphernalia means.  We wear our crosses – necklaces, bracelets, earrings – with pride.  We wear our t-shirts and sweatshirts as badges of honor.  We cover our cars in bumper stickers so we are easily recognizable.

 

But why?  Because we want people to know who we are?  Because the label “Christian” is important to us?  Because our faith isn’t worth anything unless someone recognizes it?

 

But God says over and over again in the New Testament that labels are not important.  Love is:

  • A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another (John 13:34-35)
  • This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you (John 15:12)
  • These things I command you, that you love one another (John 15:17)
  • Owe no one anything except to love one another, for he who loves another has fulfilled the law (Romans 13:8)
  • But concerning brotherly love you have no need that I should write to you, for you yourselves are taught by God to love one another (1 Thessalonians 4:9)
  • And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works (Hebrews 10:24)
  • Since you have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit in sincere love of the brethren, love one another fervently with a pure heart (1 Peter 1:22)
  • Finally, all of you be of one mind, having compassion for one another; love as brothers, be tenderhearted, be courteous (1 Peter 3:8)
  • And above all things have fervent love for one another, for “love will cover a multitude of sins.” (1 Peter 4:8)
  • For this is the message that you heard from the beginning, that we should love one another (1 John 3:11)
  • Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another (1 John 4:11)
  • No one has seen God at any time. If we love one another, God abides in us, and His love has been perfected in us. (1 John 4:12)

 

Not just for the sake of being seen.  Not just as lip service.  But sincerely and honestly.  “Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another” (Romans 12:10).  “Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse” (Romans 12:14).  “Be of the same mind toward one another. Do not set your mind on high things, but associate with the humble. Do not be wise in your own opinion” (Romans 12:16).  “If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men” (Romans 12:18).  “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good” (Romans 12:21).

 

And what I see happening in the world today is not love.  It is not Christianity.  It is man making his own rules to have his own way.  Because rejecting differences isn’t God.  Killing in the name of religion isn’t God.  Focusing on color isn’t God.  Living with prejudices isn’t God.

 

Because “God is love” (1 John 4:8).  God is unselfish.  God is forgiving.  God is merciful.  God is gracious.  God is good.

label-or-love-2

And this is how we should be.  We should be driven to love one another, not show off the labels society deems important.

 

Because it wasn’t about labels in the first century.  In fact, after Jesus died and was resurrected, it was detrimental to your life to label yourself as His follower.  It meant almost certain death with possible torture first.  But those first century believers didn’t care.  Because it wasn’t the label of being His follower that inspired them, stirred up their compassion, or created great passion in them.  It was the miracle of the risen Christ, the One they saw tortured and crucified and then resurrected and alive again, that changed their lives.

 

So what will inspire you today?  Will it be a label that has no real value or meaning?  Or will it be the divine love that changed the world and changed your heart?

 

Marie Fremin.  9/22 and 9/24/16

 

 

 

What, Me Worry?

Matthew 6:34 – Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.

 

How often do you worry?

 

What, Me Worry.jpg

 

How often do you consider all the negative possibilities of tomorrow and start fretting about them today?  How often do fear all the consequences you may face tomorrow and start fretting about them today?

 

You are torturing yourself unnecessarily.

You are tormenting yourself without cause.

You are harassing yourself over something that has not even happened.

 

When we think about it this way, it seems to silly and petty doesn’t it?

 

I realized this summer that I did exactly all this to myself.  I had a situation come up at work where my first reaction was to worry.  From the minute I heard about it.  And I immediately felt myself become overwhelmed by the bad experiences, wrong conversations, and hurtful emotions.  And I was ambushed by all the negativity that had defined my life for that season.  And it immediately starting choking the life out of me, stealing my joy and running away with m peace.  Because all I could focus on were the possibilities of history repeating itself.

 

And pretty quickly, it hit me.  “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.”

 

This is exactly what I was doing.  I was worrying.  Without cause.  With great expectation of the worst possible outcome.  Without hope of good things.

 

I was inviting every negative possibility of the new encounter into today.  And those possibilities were snuffing out the peace of today.  Those possibilities were covering up the joy of today.  Those possibilities were overwriting the grace of today.

 

And why?  For what reason?

 

For no good reason.  None.

 

And God humbled me greatly by showing me what I was doing.  That I was making myself crazy over something that had not happened and may never happen.  That I was giving away my peace for a relationship that was going to be completed redefined.  That I was throwing away my joy because I could not see any good possible.

 

And God got a hold of me and shook me out of my stupidity.  He pushed me out of my stupor.  Because He knew the truth.  What was I going to accomplish by stewing?  How was I going to help myself by fretting?  “And which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature?” (Luke 12:25).  I wasn’t going to accomplish anything but ruining today, and I wasn’t going to help myself to anything but trouble.

 

And for those few moments, I was cherishing that trouble that had not happened.  And God said that is far from His best for me.

 

“For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Luke 12:34).

 

And I don’t want my treasure – my hope, my grace, my peace, my joy – to be bound up in possibilities of tomorrow that have not become reality.  I want the potential I hold onto to be focused on Him and the grace He will give me to get through whatever the day holds.

 

So just as quickly as I grabbed hold of worry, I let it go.  Because it was choking out the grace of God in my life and anchoring me into the negativity of my past (wrong) choices.

 

So what are you worrying about today?  Will you choose to acknowledge it and then give it God?

 

He is waiting for you to come to Him.  And He’ll take your worry and exchange it for His peace. He promises.  “28 Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For My yoke is easy and My burden is light” (Matthew 11:28-30).

 

Marie Fremin, 9/18/16.