I Belong

I Belong

by Effie Darlene Barba

 

I think of all the Grace you’ve shown

Abounding love poured to my heart

The Joy in you, how it has grown

How could I doubt or e’er depart

This faith abiding in You God

You taught me through this journey trod

 

When Satan slivers like a snake

Accusing me of selfish pride

Of guilt and shame my heart would break

Were You not here to take my side

You paid my price and set me free

That I might soar for all to see

Chorus:

I think of all the Grace you’ve shown

Abounding love poured to my heart

The Joy in you, how it has grown

How could I doubt or e’er depart

This faith abiding in You God

You taught me through this journey trod

 

And Satan’s raging, roaring sounds

As lion striking at my life

When sorrow, pain and grief abounds

The world around so filled with strife

When faith would quake beneath my feet

Your victory sounds- I won’t retreat

 

Dear Lord, I feel Your presence near

How can it be such Joy is mine

I’m blessed with love and hope it’s clear

Your Glory in my heart does shine

No need to know tomorrow’s song

You’ve grasped my hand and I belong

© 2014 Effie Darlene Barba

Disclosure of Material Connection: I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to any brands, products or services that I have mentioned. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides regarding the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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Worry Free Humility

Swept Away by Grace—A Study in I Peter (part 22)—Worry Free Humility

In this letter, Peter keeps reminding the early church of the Amazing Grace of God that saves them and that keeps them; holding them firm and steady through every stormy trial that they might face. He urges the elders of the church to teach the new believers by example and with gentleness of heart. Within the church, this was to be the order set and Peter then turns to tell the younger believers to submit to the authority of the elders and to open their minds to learn. You see that at the beginning of verse 5 in chapter 5. “Likewise, ye younger, submit yourselves unto the elder.” Then as he is telling them this, as though a sudden revelation came, he continues with “all of you (elders and young believers) be as servants subject to provide, guide and teach each other”.

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Lest there be any pride—oh dear sweet Peter—no one could understand the perils of pride better than tempestuous, quick spoken, impulsive Peter. Peter had learned through his denial of Christ and the gracious way that Christ bid him to “feed the sheep”. He had been placed in a very high place as a leader of the church; yet, Peter had learned that the power, the strength, the love and the wisdom to perform came from God alone. Peter had been stripped of all his own pride and was humbled by the mighty hand of God—recognizing His omnipotent power that could have said “done” and the earth would have crumbled; yet, at the same time awed by the Grace and Love that had proclaimed him a redeemed, sanctified Saint.

Peter then wrote:

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Shepherd the Sheep

Swept Away by Grace—A Study in I Peter (part 21)—Shepherd the Sheep

Throughout the scripture, Christ is often referred to as the “Good Shepherd”. Why shepherd and why sheep? Have you ever been around sheep much? They are among the most vulnerable of all the creatures. They are known to follow the crowd even into their own peril—example if the lead sheep falls off the cliff, the remainder will follow blindly. They have no defense against their predators and can easily be killed by whatever predator comes upon them. Then, of course, there is that incessant bleating cry. Beginning to sound a bit like us humans?

Then let’s look at the relationship of the shepherd to his sheep. He had to constantly lead them to the better meadows for food—gently and tenderly. He usually spent day and night with the flock, protecting them and guiding them along the hillsides. He was the one to protect them from the predators and keep them from going astray. Sheep in the Bible times and even in modern Israel are not kept in pens because finding grassland is difficult, so they must know their shepherd’s voice in order to follow.

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John 10: 9I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture…11 I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep…14 I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine.15 As the Father knoweth me, even so know I the Father: and I lay down my life for the sheep.16 And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd.

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Living Fearlessly, Singing Joyfully, and Loving Unconditionally

SWEPT AWAY BY GRACE—A STUDY IN I PETER (PART 20)-Living Fearlessly, Singing Joyfully, and Loving Unconditionally

On November 28, 2012 Habila Adamu, a business man in Nigeria, was shot in the face in front of his six year old daughter and his wife because he refused to denounce the name of Jesus Christ. Though he was left for dead, he did survive and after tedious surgeries lives as a testimony of forgiveness for those who shot him. In fact, Habila proclaims his love for those who shot him along with his desire that they find Christ as their Savior. In the early church, that would have been the norm. Think of this, Paul was beaten, imprisoned and beheaded. Peter was imprisoned, flogged on numerous occasions and hung upside down on a cross. Stephen was stoned to death. Such is the story of each of the early apostles and yet they continued to preach the Gospel of Christ to a world in need of salvation. It is in that world Peter wrote this letter to the early church. When Peter told them of Grace, it was a Grace he had experienced firsthand. When Peter told them that they would suffer for the name of Christ, it was from his personal experience of suffering. When he told them to remember Jesus and rejoice for the joy of that fellowship, it was because he lived that joy born out of the suffering and the sweetness of a personal relationship with the living God.

God's Verdict

Most of us are not asked to denounce Christ or die; yet, we live our lives afraid of what others might think of us. We choose comfort and counterfeit joys while seeking to fulfill our own selfish, self-exalting desires—seeking the comforts of faith without any of the sacrifices. We do not realize that the trials only make us stronger because they drive us into the bosom of Christ where we find freedom from fear, abounding joy, boundless hope, and unconditional love. All given us by Grace—not because we deserve it; but rather, poured out upon us as a result of God’s great love for us.

So, where are we to draw our strength for this journey and how are we to stand when we face trials, ridicule, rejection, and even suffering for Christ? Let us look at the next verses in I Peter for some guidance.

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Love’s Life Song

Love’s Life Song

By Effie Darlene Barba

 

In all I do and all I say

I pray dear Lord that I display

Echoes of You from Heaven above

As flowing fountains of Your love

 

And when this flesh would dare say yes

And mind resounding no, unless

The final choice my heart does make

Lord, guide my heart for Your dear sake

 

At times this heart desires too much

When all I need is Glory’s touch

Your Grace can lift me high above

To soar upon Your wings of love

 

So, let me gaze upon Your face

To see Your loving eyes of grace

While feasting on Your words of life

Your peace removes all inner strife

 

That I might know the answer clear

Your honor, truth be all I hear

Amidst the clamoring thoughts within

Protect me Lord, to dare not sin

 

You know my heart and know it well

The secrets deep I dare not tell

And yet Your love has bid me come

Beloved, Redeemed Your child become

 

Teach me to love my family, friends

Greater love-honor, truth ascends

To reach beyond this human heart

Your Joy and hope I might impart

 

So, let my life-song sing Your praise

Throughout the surplus of my days

And let my love flow forth Your Grace

To guide the lost to seek your face

 

And when my final word is said

With epitaph above my head

Let all who came to know my name

Your Glory find—Your love proclaim

©2014 Effie Darlene Barba

Disclosure of Material Connection: I have not received any compensation for writing this post.  I have no material connection to the brands, products, or services that I have mentioned.  I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.

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A JOY IN THE JOURNEY

Swept Away by Grace—A Study in I Peter (part 19)—A Joy in the Journey

I Peter 4: 12 Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you: 13 But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy.

Peter throughout this epistle has reminded us of the magnificent Grace we have been given. He wants us to understand the magnitude of what Christ did for us. He urges each of us to remember and to stand upon all the promises of God. He certainly did not try to preach some prosperity gospel that those who follow Christ would have no trials. Indeed, he keeps reminding us that there will most likely be more trials. There will be tribulations, sorrows, pains, rejections, and fiery trials of our faith; but, therein he reminds us to rejoice. How? By remembering Christ and all the promises of God which are fulfilled in Him.

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Our rejoicing begins with this—every promise of God is yes in Jesus Christ. Every promise is Amen to the Glory of God. If every promise of God is yes in Jesus Christ, do you not believe the truth that “all things work together for good to those who love God” (Romans 8:28). Joy is mine because the creator of the universe, calls me friend. He has chosen me to be His beloved child.

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A New Commandment to Love

Swept Away by Grace—A Study in I Peter (part 18)—A New Commandment to Love

I Peter 4: (GNV) “7 [h]Now the end of all things is at hand. Be ye therefore sober, and watching in prayer. 8 [i]But above all things have fervent love among you: for love shall cover the multitude of sins.”

Peter has reminded us of the Grace by which we are saved and that it is not because of anything we have done. Just as Peter had learned at the cross, there was nothing within his own character of which to be proud. Indeed selfish, self-centered pride seeking self-exaltation was man’s original sin as Adam and Eve desired to be “God” rather than to enjoy the pleasure of their position as provided for, protected children. That is the same issue we have faced within our own hearts ever since. In the very center of our human hearts lurks this evil of selfish pride seeking to exalt our own being. Peter is so aware of this evil being present within the body of the church as well as the world. He urges the early church to be willing to suffer as Jesus suffered for the sake of the gospel. He reminds them that this can only be done through the grace of Christ transforming us, through focusing on the brevity of this world’s journey, and by watchful prayer. Peter now urges the early church to love each other and to let fervent love give a heart of forgiveness, kindness, and encouragement. He had been there at the last supper when Christ said as recorded in, John 13: “34 A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. 35 By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.”

autumnlovephoto used with permission of Cheryl Delashmit

For me to lay aside my self-exalting, selfishness of heart to develop Christ like unconditional love that forgives others I must first be honest with myself regarding my own sin. In humility I must first remember that without Grace, I am nothing. My position in Christ is because of who Christ is and His redemptive work at the cross. If I understand that truth, then how would I not be able to forgive my brother or sister in Christ?

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Beauty that Emerges Out of Pain

Swept away by Grace-A Study in I Peter (part 17)-Beauty that Emerges Out of Pain

Christ came to give new life and to give it abundantly; yet, often we see dear Christians suffer physically while battling illness. Some would cry out in anger and ask God, why? Since God is the supreme, omnipotent physician why would He ever allow physical and/or emotional illness in any of His adopted children? That is the question Peter wants to address. I Peter 4: (AMP) “So, since Christ suffered in the flesh [a]for us, for you, arm yourselves with the same thought and[b]purpose [patiently to suffer rather than fail to please God]. For whoever has suffered in the flesh [having [c]the mind of Christ] is done with [intentional] sin [has stopped pleasing himself and the world, and pleases God],2 So that he can no longer spend the rest of his natural life living by [his] human appetites and desires, but [he lives] for what God wills.”

Pain has its way of either pushing us into bitterness or drawing us closer to God. There are times along this journey when God may call upon us to suffer that within that pain and suffering He may use it for His Glory and the spreading of the Gospel. How we see that suffering becomes pivotal to our walk. Peter knew this as he urged his readers to remember the suffering of Christ and to see that suffering in the light of Christ’s physical suffering.

rock-butterfly-sarah-barbaPhoto used by permission of Sarah Barba—please click on photo for more information. 

As the butterfly struggles and breaks forth from the cocoon, there emerges this very fragile creature of beauty. When we are able to see suffering as a blessing through the eyes of Christ; from the depths of even life long illness and pain can emerge a gentleness of spirit, a kindness of the eyes, and outward demonstration of God’s love and Glory that could never be displayed otherwise.

The surgery was over. As I awoke from the anesthesia, I felt excruciating pain raging

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Echoes of You in the Darkest Night

Echoes of You in the Darkest Night

By Effie Darlene Barba

Oh, Lord, I fear this heart may break

With sadness for another’s sake

They do not know your love, your grace

The Radiant light-Your glorious face

Chorus:

Oh, let me Lord shine forth thy light

Echoes of you in darkest night

Remove each selfish thought of mine

Your love might through these hands then shine

Guard my words, these stuttering lips

And keep my feet from faltering slips

I long to show your goodness clear

I pray they see you are so dear

Chorus:

Let me Lord shine forth thy light

With Echoes of you in the darkest night

Remove each selfish thought of mine

Your love might through these hands then shine

Much more than what my words can say

Let my life show for them the way

That they may know the joy sublime

That comes from you-Your love Divine

Chorus:

Let me Lord shine forth thy light

With Echoes of you in the darkest night

Remove each selfish thought of mine

Your love might through these hands then shine

 

© 2014 Effie Darlene Barba

Disclosure of Material Connection: I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to any brands, products or services that I have mentioned. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides regarding the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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Winning the Battle for Joy

Swept Away by Grace—A Study in I Peter (part 16)—Winning the Battle for Joy

In this world we are confronted from every side with trials, disappointments and the news of evil. The economical battles, the political battles, and even the personal battles we face each day. All of what surrounds us could cause us to lose our hope and joy, if we are not willing to fight for its truth in our life. Neither am I talking about some “prosperity gospel” which sugar coats and says “name it and claim it” as though material possessions bring joy or making God into some type of Santa Claus figure. Instead, as Peter suggests :

 

spartaused by written permission of Ronald Barba who owns the copyright. For more information-click on the picture

 

the battle for joy is a battle we win because of our knowledge of truth. Our relationship with the living God is that source of joy and love so that we are able to have deep joy, peace and love; no matter what the circumstances surrounding us.

Look to whom he was speaking and the truth of his own life. Those who believed were tortured, beaten, imprisoned and murdered for their faith; yet, the preciousness of that relationship so overflowed within Peter that he continued to teach the gospel of Jesus Christ. He had seen Jesus, walked with him and watched Him die on the cross—in fact, he returned to fishing—then, Peter saw the resurrected Christ and knew the truth. So, Peter urged the people with these words:

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