So Much

 

It is heavy

and overwhelming

and takes your breath away

 

It is the weight

of God’s glory

 

It is unending

and all-encompassing

and relentless

 

It is God’s grace

toward you

 

It is stubborn

and pushy

and raw

 

It is love,

God’s incredible love for you

 

All for you

 

All of it

weighs you down

and overwhelms

and chases you

 

until you relent

under His beautiful

pressure

 

and therein

find your peace

security

and hope

 

– Susie Stewart

 

All the loneliness, angers, hatreds, envies and itchings that [this world] contains, if rolled into one single experience and put into the scale against the least moment of the joy that is felt in Heaven, would have no weight that could be registered at all.

– C.S. Lewis

 

So the Word became human and made His home among us. He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness. And we have seen His glory, the glory of the Father’s one and only Son.

– John 1:14 (NLT)

 

The heavens proclaim the glory of God.
    The skies display His craftsmanship.
Day after day they continue to speak;
    night after night they make Him known.
They speak without a sound or word;
    their voice is never heard.
Yet their message has gone throughout the earth,
    and their words to all the world.

– Psalm 19:1-4 (NLT)

 

There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.

– John 15;13 (NLT)

 

O Lord, you have examined my heart
    and know everything about me.
You know when I sit down or stand up.
    You know my thoughts even when I’m far away.
You see me when I travel
    and when I rest at home.
    You know everything I do.
You know what I am going to say
    even before I say it, Lord.
You go before me and follow me.
    You place your hand of blessing on my head.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
    too great for me to understand!

I can never escape from your Spirit!
    I can never get away from your presence!

– Psalm 139:1-7 (NLT)

 

Photo by Susie Stewart

 

 

 

Same Heart, Different Methods

All of us who believe in God

hope to please Him

 

We know when we don’t measure up

 

But, friend, the difference between you and me

is complete dependence on grace

 

We both want the same thing —

rightness before our Creator

 

but you, friend, you chant

and you go through rituals

and you light candles

and you deify humans

and make confessions to them ….

 

relying on what you can do

to earn God’s favor

 

You have faith

but you also are working SO hard

to earn approval

to assuage your guilt

to make amends

 

And it would appear that’s the way

it should be

 

But it’s not

 

Grace is not cheap

and it came with a high price

 

God’s life

 

Chanting

Repeated bowing

Rituals

Religion

 

will never get any of us

closer to heaven

 

Dive deep into inherent Scripture

and find…

 

We can do nothing

to earn His nod

 

But if we humble ourselves

under His mighty hand

 

and accept grace and mercy

bought high-priced

 

we will find freedom

from man-made rules and rituals

 

and just find our Father,

arms open,

complete in love for us

 

And doing right

will come out of love for God,

moved by His great kindness

 

– Susie Stewart

 

Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God [set aside self-righteous pride], so that He may exalt you [to a place of honor in His service] at the appropriate time,

– 1 Peter 5:6 (AMP)

 

…but He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you [My lovingkindness and My mercy are more than enough—always available—regardless of the situation]; for [My] power is being perfected [and is completed and shows itself most effectively] in [your] weakness.” Therefore, I will all the more gladly boast in my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ [may completely enfold me and] may dwell in me.

– 2 Corinthians 12:9,10 (AMP)

 

But if it is by grace [God’s unmerited favor], it is no longer on the basis of works, otherwise grace is no longer grace [it would not be a gift but a reward for works].

– Romans 11:6 (AMP)

 

So then, since we have a great High Priest who has entered heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to what we believe. This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses, for He faced all of the same testings we do, yet He did not sin. So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive His mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most.

– Hebrews 4:14-16 (AMP)

 

Or do you show contempt for the riches of His kindness, forbearance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness is intended to lead you to repentance?

– Romans 2:4 (NIV)

 

Photo by Susie Stewart

Pride’s Barb

When it comes to pride

there are two sides

to the coin

 

One side

is arrogant

self-reliant

bold

 

The other side

is self-depricating

self-loathing

apathetic

 

BOTH are centered on SELF

 

And when it comes to God’s grace

freely given to all

 

Pride sets itself up

against it

 

You either think

you don’t need God

and rely on who you think you are

 

Or you see yourself

as a worthless failure

never able to approach Him

 

Both reject grace

 

missing the point of it

completely

 

and walk away

from God’s extended hand.

 

This need not be

 

Grace draws in

those who would humble themselves

 

before God’s divine,

sacrificial love

 

Grace is free

but you must lay down your pride

and accept it

 

– Susie Stewart

 

Therefore let us [with privilege] approach the throne of grace [that is, the throne of God’s gracious favor] with confidence and without fear, so that we may receive mercy [for our failures] and find [His amazing] grace to help in time of need [an appropriate blessing, coming just at the right moment].

– Hebrews 4:16 (AMP)

 

Now God has us where He wants us, with all the time in this world and the next to shower grace and kindness upon us in Christ Jesus. Saving is all His idea, and all His work. All we do is trust Him enough to let Him do it. It’s God’s gift from start to finish! We don’t play the major role. If we did, we’d probably go around bragging that we’d done the whole thing! No, we neither make nor save ourselves. God does both the making and saving. He creates each of us by Christ Jesus to join Him in the work He does, the good work He has gotten ready for us to do, work we had better be doing.

– Ephesians 2:7-10 (MSG)

 

And since it is through God’s kindness, then it is not by their good works. For in that case, God’s grace would not be what it really is—free and undeserved.

– Romans 11:6 (NLT)

 

And He gives grace generously. As the Scriptures say, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”

– James 4:6 (NLT)

 

Photo by Arik Stewart

Grace

God, Your grace

it is so far-reaching

 

It touches all that I have done wrong

and all that I will do wrong

 

It covers all of life

and breath

 

All is grace

 

For even my faith

is because of Your grace

 

And thankfully

it can’t be nullified

 

Even on my less than stellar days

Even when I fall on my face

 

Grace is still grace

 

If it weren’t,

it would be dependent on me

 

And it isn’t

 

Grace is not a teamwork thing

with me and You, God

 

It’s all You

 

Let me never think that Your grace

is earned by me

 

For Your grace is a gift,

never earned

 

Only gratefully received by me

 

– Susie Stewart

 

* These thoughts came from my friend Nicole Rowell in a study on Ephesians.  I just re-worded a bit.  Nicole, thank you for your insight into God’s Word and His amazing grace!

 

But God is so rich in mercy, and He loved us so much, that even though we were dead because of our sins, He gave us life when He raised Christ from the dead. (It is only by God’s grace that you have been saved!) For He raised us from the dead along with Christ and seated us with Him in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ Jesus. So God can point to us in all future ages as examples of the incredible wealth of His grace and kindness toward us, as shown in all He has done for us who are united with Christ Jesus.

God saved you by His grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it. For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things He planned for us long ago.

– Ephesians 2:4-10 (NLT)

 

And since it is through God’s kindness, then it is not by their good works. For in that case, God’s grace would not be what it really is—free and undeserved.

– Romans 11:6 (NLT)

 

For out of His fullness [the superabundance of His grace and truth] we have all received grace upon grace [spiritual blessing upon spiritual blessing, favor upon favor, and gift heaped upon gift].

– John 1:16 (AMP)

 

Photo by Susie Stewart