LSOF: Response to Grace

Good Sunday Evening to everyone:)
I’m BACK!!!!

I can’t tell you how ECSTATIC I am to have a more than 5 seconds to write!

” Let love be without hypocrisy, Abhor what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one anoter in brotherly love; giving preference to one another in honor; not lagging behind in diligence, ferevent in spirit, serving the Lord; rejoicing in hope, persevering in tribulation, devoted to prayer, contributing to the needs of the saints, practicing hospitality. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice and weep with those who weep. Be of the same mind toward one another, do not be haughty in mind, but associate with the lowly. Do not be wise in your own estimation. Never pay back evil for evil to anyone. Respect what is right in the spirit of all men.”
– Romans 12-9:17( The New American Standard Bible)

This was a beautiful verse my pastor used today at church.

I have shared bits and pieces with you about this story I am about to tell, if you have already heard it, know that this was the time for it to be written into a devotional; not on my time.

I want you to picture for a moment your Christmas tree, and if you don’t celebrate Christmas, just picture it anyway, I promise I have a point.

Of course looking at it, it may be full of different kinds of Christmas lights, and ornaments that extend through years of family history; maybe you have a trainset underneath the branches circling it over and over; but now I want you to picture the top of the tree.

What do you see? Perhaps and angel, or a Christmas star.

Either way it is something that gets your attention.

It is something that reminds you to have reverance for grace in your life, no matter what it looks like.

I have my own personal holiday tradition where when the tv is going in the other room, and my sister is in your room chatting on her cell…when there is just time for a moment or so of peace,

I go and I kneel right by the Christmas tree and look right at the top.

The thing I want you to notice, is that how much higher the tree is than I am, that I cannot reach the height where that angel or that star sits.

I am not quite tall enough, nor skilled enough to not fall into the Christmas tree.

I am on the ground and at a much deeper level; while I can still see that Christmas tree topper, I can’t touch it.

If you came and stood next to me, unless you are 8ft; you would say the same.

We’re all in this together.

I want to share part of the voicemail a friend left me today;

” Cheer up and smile, and enjoy your day, because the sun is out and it looks like it is going to be a good one.”

My friend whom I decided for her own privacy when it comes to her faith, I will call Sara.

If you have read her real name before, its fine, its just that this week I realized how very personal her religion is to her; and sadly while this is a Christian based site; I don’t really know who is reading it.

I had a bad night last night. saturday nights seem to be that way; me and my friend Jen just seem to be a Publix every morning getting our sub, and a bottle of wine.( it is okay, we work all night.)

I have known who Sara was since I started working at the store. I guess you might say I felt a push to go and talk to her, but I didn’t know her, and believe it or not I have the tendency to be shy…plus, she looked scary sometimes.

I made sure I said my hellos, and howareyous…she did the same, but that was always it.

I just figured she didn’t want to be bothered. She always kept to herself.

I heard so much gossip about her everytime at lunch; people said she was a complete snot(and worse), and they would just have her be the subject a lot of nights; But I didn’t know her; and I knew listening even was something I shouldn’t be doing; especially if I didn’t know her.

A couple weeks ago, someone who found out she was pregnant came up to me and said my manager told us to switch departments, because she didn’t feel well.

I had 1 pallet, and I got to her department, and I then had 7.

I saw Sara towards the end of the night, and I asked her if she might be able to help me. She saw I was frustrated, and she did as soon as her lunch was over.

The next night, because she had been such a big help to me the night before I knew I had to make the effort to help her over in her area, which I knew she was overwhelmed in, but wouldn’t say.

I finished the aisles pretty quickly, and then when we were zoning(straightening), somehow we got on the conversation of how important it is to be example of Christ…and I was like WOW.

After she said a few things here and there, and some verses, I asked her what her religion was, and she told me, ” Jahovah’s Witness.”

I tried not to stare wide-eyed and just listened to the small voice inside me that said,

” Just listen to what she is saying.”

I mean the conversation was at least a good 20 min; but I know I’ll never forget it.

I told her that I have learned to be more open to people, and that it was okay that she shared that with me.

I got her a Christmas gift. It was a snowglobe that said, ” Seasons Change throughout the year, but sharing our hearts, should not be saved for Christmas alone.” -A.S:)

I also gave her a card that said that I was glad God pushed me to find the truth of who she was, because I didn’t really believe in the words said anyway.

I am sure I said more, but that was the key part I felt was important to show her.

I told Sara that if she wanted to share some stuff about her religion with me I would be glad to read it. She was SO excited that I even wanted to.

Jen told me that she really appreciated the gift and the card, and both me and Jen decided that Sara really did need a friend, and people she could trust, and while we thought that she wanted to be left alone; that was hardly the case.

Since that night, we all stick together, we all work together.

And people notice, and they have given the cold shoulder.

I am sorry if those people don’t care to give her a chance, they never tried, but I am really glad that God told me to; because the difference that it has made in all three of us,

I’d say is a Christmas miracle.

Only God can truly open a heart, and while I never really prayed it aloud, my prayers were in line with the desire of His heart for this person.

I love when I do what God wants:)

That same week, a Jahovah’s witness came to the door, and I hesitated opening; but heard God speak, ” You said you would listen.” so I opened the door, and went outside.

Not only did I listen to what they had to say, I told them how great God had been in my life, I told them about my friend Sara, and I introduced myself to them, and even invited them to church!

Through my long and drawn out story, what I want you to see is the response to grace.

My pastor mentioned today about how the cross points to different ways. Vertical and Horizontal.

First it is vertical; we are given God’s grace, and then it is horizontal; we tell the world what He’s done in our life, through all sorts of ways.

Sara was an atheist for years she told me, and while I may not really understand her religion, I trust God knows what He is doing right now.

I am reading a book she gave me, and I am going to tell her I would like to sit in on one of their meetings.

But now that I went through all of that, I want to break the top verse into pieces.

Let love be without hypocrisy, – We need to be real every step of the way with people, we need to show them generally who we are and how we act without embaressment, or any sort of mask. My friend Sara was open to me, because I opened up to, and let her know I was open to anything she wanted to share with me.

Abhor what is evil; cling to what is goodThere will be people out there who are going to try to stop God’s goodness and grace from spreading, that is supposed to happen, and it will happen, we just have to remember that God is bigger, and keeping in line with what His word says and what He speaks to our heart will get us through a mulitude of social issues.

Be devoted to one anoter in brotherly love-You might not get what someone has been through or is going through, but that doesn’t mean you stay far from them, people need God and God wants us to be a vessel to get to them; and we need to be ready to do it, whoever we are, and whatever insecurities we might have.

; giving preference to one another in honor; not lagging behind in diligence, ferevent in spirit, serving the Lord;

Rejoicing in hope; Persevering in persecution- I think its kind of cool how both of these come together; our hope was persecuted on the cross. But we rejoice, because He found out how to help us persevere. By handing his life over to death, but was taken by life.

devoted to prayer-This one is a pretty big one; because prayer changes outcomes on things. My pastor used to say that when we say we will pray and don’t we are messing with the outcome of someone’s life. Pretty intense. But prayer is about reverence to, so maybe we should have a prayer life in the middle of life. Anytime we are alone, or where we can just talk to God. I have seen what prayer does in people’s lives; my mother is a perfect example of someone who was prayer for; only by God.

contributing to the needs of the saints, practicing hospitality. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice and weep with those who weep. Be of the same mind toward one another, do not be haughty in mind, but associate with the lowly. Do not be wise in your own estimation. Never pay back evil for evil to anyone. Respect what is right in the spirit of all men.” – Romans 12-9:17( The New American Standard Bible)

The only other thing I really believe I want to focus on; People need to be loved, they need to hear they are loved, and who ever that person is in your life, go and tell them they matter, go tell them that you appreicate who they are, go be yourself and say something.

We are called to respond to God’s grace, let’s let others have the chance to do the same.

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