Firm Foundation—Now and for Eternity

Swept Away by Grace- A Study in I Peter (part 9)—Firm Foundation-now and for Eternity

Peter has been confirming and reminding the people of the marvelous wonder of the grace they have been given. Grace which reaches out, takes hold, and transforms lives. He realizes that there is a truth which they must also know—a truth without which grace has no significance. That truth is that God is a righteous and just God as well. For that reason, he refers back to Isaiah where it was written: (Isaiah 28) “16 Therefore thus saith the Lord God, Behold, I will lay in Zion a stone, a[q]tried stone, a precious cornerstone, a sure foundation. He that believeth, [r]shall not make haste. 17 Judgment also will I lay to the line, and righteousness to the plummet: and the hail shall sweep away the refuge of lies, and the waters shall overflow the hiding place. “Judgment will come—that is a certainty and judgment will pour out from heaven only that which mankind deserves as a result of his rebellious and self-absorbed heart. Many who built their lives on their own “self-righteousness” and on anything other than the truth of the gospel will watch their lives crumble beneath the hailstorms that try the faith.

broken-and-contrite-heart-ronald-barbaportrait used by permission of Ronald Barba who owns the copyright.  Please click on the picture if you wish to obtain information on purchasing

Christ is the only foundation on which we may build that will stand when the trials of our faith come on the earth. Furthermore, when we stand before Him in judgment all our humans works and wisdom will be burned away; yet, our salvation will stand firm only if we have built upon the foundational stone of Jesus Christ. (I Corinthians 3: 9-15). For all who have not believed on Jesus Christ, there is no foundation and they will be eternally condemned—by their own choice to have denied the only means of righteousness that was purchased at a great price to the Father and Son.

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Because You Have Tasted That He is Good

Swept Away by Grace—A Study in I Peter (Part 8)—Because You have Tasted that He is Good

It had been a simple question.  It was meant to be a word of flattery, a friendly gesture to uplift, I am certain.  Any other moment, I would have immediately known the answer—in a split second; because I know the truth.  After all, I know the gracious beauty and wonder of God’s love.  I know He is good and is Sovereign over my life.  Then why, oh why did that question split open the scars of my past?  Hadn’t God already healed that wound so long ago?  Perhaps it was timing that made it lethal or perhaps I had let down the wall just enough to allow the question in with all that it could imply, or maybe I had turned off the alarms because I though I was safe. There it was the question,  “So, who takes care of Super Woman?”   At that moment my heart split in two and all the desires for human love I had long ago laid aside rushed in, along with all the fears of rejection, feelings of loneliness, and those feelings of inadequacy.  For that moment, all the truth of who I am in Christ faded into the background as Satan’s lies became so loud within my heart and mind.  Then I began the process over the next 24 hours where my own fear would destroy any hope of friendship, thus relinquishing me from being vulnerable anymore. Not the smartest way of handling the situation, I know.  I should have run to God; but, unfortunately, once those walls are broken we tend to try to hide those feelings from even God.   Of course my fear was not only will this friend find out that I am not superwoman; but they will discover my weakness as well. Don’t tell me you have never done anything similar.     I had been there before.  So, this was nothing new—only I did not expect  this particular emotional stumbling block.  It had been so many years since I had felt this kind of loneliness. I  believed that God had closed that wound forever—or, so I had thought.

Sullivan2_photography courtesy of Dr. Rene Sullivan and used by permission

In this journey we are surrounded by a dark sea of turmoil from the evils surrounding us in this world.  Illness, disappointments, sorrows, violence, death, financial turmoil, and job performance demands all press in from outside us.  Then from deep within is all the brokenness of our hearts, our longing for acceptance, our pride, our feelings of mediocrity, and our sense of inadequacy.  There would be no hope were God to have left us in our broken state; but, He did not.

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God Sends You a Note

Have you ever stood amazed as you look through your life at all the various people God has placed in your pathway? Some you barely see for an instant, some are there for a lifetime and some interweave with your life like a needle and thread on a tapestry, entering and leaving. The amazing thing is how God uses each and everyone to step by step transform us. In His Sovereignty, He allows the joys, the dreams, and even the rejections and the sorrows. He knows each and every scar that we bear which weigh us down. He knows where we are most vulnerable to Satan’s whispering lies. He knows that there are scars from this world of sin which can only be healed by a Surgeon’s knife, reopening that scar and revising it with great skill. God does just that. I thank God for each and every person that God has used in my life for that purpose. Those whom unwittingly have been used to cut open those scars and those who have been there to heal them. My prayer is that God fills their heart, each and everyone, with His Joy and His peace.

God Sends You a Note

By Effie Darlene Barba

 

God sends you a note

Though someone else wrote

A text or a rhyme or a quote

And through what was said

A hope fills your head

As down some path you felt lead

Joy fills your heart

And flames with a spark

Like a dream, a beginning, a start

Then something goes wrong

Like some sad country song

And you feel like you just don’t belong

Then you lift up your eyes

Filled with tears toward the skies

And you ask God to please tell you why

While tears fall like rain

And your heart breaks with pain

Your sorrow no truth can explain

It had nothing to do

With the one before you

As the truth your dear heart doth pursue

God saw deep within

Saw the scars held therein

Left behind from the past where you’d been

So God sent you this oar

To help find the shore

And to force you to unlock that door

So the wound could now heal

And that burden so real

Could be crushed so that now you might feel

The release from that chain

That had caused so much strain

So, God’s joy and His Glory might reign

 

© 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 with the exception of my own book. 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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Therefore, Live a Life of Love

SWEPT AWAY BY GRACE—A Study in I Peter (part 7): Therefore, live a life of love

I Peter 2 (NIV) Therefore, rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind. 2 Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, 3 now that you have tasted that the Lord is good.

Whenever we see the word therefore in scripture, we must look back. Certainly Peter is telling us to rid ourselves of all thoughts of anger or deceit. We are to not lie—to ourselves or to others. We need to no longer live our lives with hypocrisy and envy; nor are we to slander others. This does not come just as a list of commands or laws which we already know that we cannot accomplish on our own; rather, it comes with a therefore and a means as to how.

broken-and-contrite-heart-ronald-barba

Artwork used by written permission of Ronald Barba who owns the copyright

Because of the truth that we have been elected and called forth by Grace to be born again into a new life with Christ and because of the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit in us we are to look at the world around us with eyes of understanding and genuine love. We must be always mindful of “the beam in our own eye” before trying to remove the speck in someone else’s eye. We must always remember who we are without Christ and only then can we reach a world in need of Christ. Because of the price Christ paid for our redemption, we need to live forth our lives as His Ambassadors. Sometimes that does make us vulnerable to being taken advantage of or vulnerable to being hurt because of our mission. Peter knew this all too well and accepted that as a part of his life.

Then, Peter as though he also knew that contrary to what some might think, this type of pouring oneself out may lead to broken heartedness and even loneliness—he reminded us where we go to be nourished. We must be fed by spiritual milk and grow in our knowledge of Christ. We must continually be reminded of the sweetness of Christ in our lives—yearning after and seeking Him.

Listen to this song I wrote once upon a time.  The Master Weaver

 

New International Version(NIV)

Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.®Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

© 2014 Effie Darlene Barba

Artwork is used with written permission of Ronald Barba who owns the copyright. His work can be found at: http://fineartamerica.com/art/all/ronald+barba/all

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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Hope—Secured and Anchored in the Cross of Jesus Christ

Swept Away by Grace-A Study in I Peter (part 6): Hope—Secured and Anchored in the Cross of Jesus Christ

Our hope must not be built upon that which we see. It is so much bigger than anything that we could possibly see and so precious that it is worth all the pain and suffering we might find on this pilgrimage. Peter a rough and rugged sailor has now become the eloquent speaker. He now understands that this journey he has chosen will be far more treacherous than the worst storm he had ever faced before on any sea. Yet, he is pleading and urging to all who would read this his letter not to lose hope. He knows the urgency and when you read this book and this chapter, you cannot help but hear the earnest pleas of Peter. He has so reminded us that all that we have is an act of grace. We must take hold of that truth and wrap it tightly about our thoughts so as to prevent the fiery darts of Satan’s accusation from entering in. We must remain sober and not become intoxicated with the desires of this world or its enticements. Cling tight to that hope that one day we will stand before Christ—so overwhelmed by His beauty and Glory. We will marvel at how that beauty radiates and is reflected in our faces back to Christ with brilliance beyond anything we can imagine. He then urges us to be obedient children. He reminds us that God is a just and righteous God who never judges unfairly. Knowing that truth should cause us to tremble with fear and bow down in reverence to Him because the truth is our hearts are guilty, deserving hell and damnation. Yet, he paid the price for our redemption with the blood of His only begotten son. He didn’t buy us with tangible things such as gold or silver.

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Not only that before God created the heaven and the earth, God looked through the corridors of time and knew every failure, every sin, every rebellious act, every selfish thought and every act of hate that you and I would commit and He still ordained that Christ would come to earth and pay the penalty for our sin. He chose to love you and redeem you anyway.

You were chosen, so raise up your head and look upon God, the Father who resurrected Christ from the dead and is calling you into new life with Him. He has done this so that all

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GRACE GIVEN HOPE TO STAND

SWEPT AWAY BY GRACE—A STUDY IN I PETER (PART 5)—GRACE GIVEN HOPE TO STAND

Throughout this study in I Peter, we have seen “Grace” proclaimed.  God called, God saved, and God preserves.  He has given unto each of us who believe in Him the greatest gift of all, His Gracious presence as our heavenly Father. It has been evident that we could not earn this gift.  We could never be good enough nor wise enough with our own finite self-absorbed minds to be able to recognize His Glory and His righteousness.  We were created to be receptacles of His Love, His Joy and His Glory and in seeing we are to be always echoing back to Christ His own Glory, magnifying it like a mirror reflecting light. Yet, we somehow think that we are here to receive  earthly gifts and treasures. In our selfish natures we believe that our desires are of ultimate importance.  Our at times we become proud in our “accomplishments for God.”  We are incapable of doing anything for God unless He gives us that gift of Grace for that moment and then it is He who has accomplished the good through and in spite of me.  Peter was so aware of that very truth and we need remember that as we move to verse 13 which  on first appearance might seem a call to action on our part.   Let us look closely at these verses:

I PETER 1: 13 Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ;14 As obedient children, not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance:15 But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation;16 Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy.

So, let me try to explain this further to help you understand. 

new prayer

Peter now begins a plea for righteous living because of the Grace we have been provided and because of the burning light of hope that one day we will be fully clothed in Christ’s righteousness. For that reason, we must be diligent and alert to obeying God.

So let’s look at the three exhortations that Peter gives us in verses 13-14.

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The Grace in Which We Stand

Do you ever awaken some mornings and suddenly you feel the crushing weight of all your own unworthiness before God?  You look at your own failures and they loom before you, overshadowing and clouding all of who you are.  Those thoughts cause your hope to crash down around you, like thousands of pieces of fine crystal scattered at your feet.  You fear that if you step forward the pieces of glass will cut your bare feet into shreds; yet, you know the truth is God sent His Son to bleed and die to cover all your sins.  God did not leave Him there.  Indeed, Christ rose up from the dead and broke the chains of hell, death, and damnation forever to all who believe in Him.  In 2010, I wrote a book entitled “A Broken and Contrite Heart” that pleads God’s response to His children when they are faced with their own failures and sins.  There is nothing in my life that ever took God by surprise.  When He chose me He knew every time I would fail Him.  Neither does He wish I stay there grappling in the muddy mire.  Instead, He reaches forth His mighty hand to pull me out and as I cry forth, “How can you still love me after all the times I have failed you and this heart which can never fully love you as it should?”  His response, “Sin, child I do not see any sin—(as He looks through the blood of Christ which covers me).  “Come, child there is work to be done”  as He removes the last bit of mud upon me.  That is Grace, my dear friends—the same grace that David and Peter so richly proclaimed.  Each chapter of the book-“A Broken and Contrite Heart” ended with a poem-written by me and for me.  Today I needed to return and read what I wrote then as the final poem of the book—a reminder of who I am in Christ. 

The Grace in Which I Stand

 

Oh feeble heart, Oh fragile soul

Where is the hope on which you hold

With all the failures of your past

Where is the faith to make you bold

Where is the faith to make you bold

 

There was a King though blameless He

That came to pay my penalty

And in that act He set me free

To follow Him in liberty

To follow Him in liberty

 

It is His love that drew me out

And in His Grace I shall not doubt

That He who started this work in me

Will finish it with a Glorious Shout

Will finish it with a Glorious Shout

 

One day the finished work be done

That I might look then like God’s son

Sifted, shined just like pure Gold

As Glory shines forth, Glorious One

As Glory shines forth, Glorious One

 

And in this hope my faith conformed

I know my life will be transformed

I stand upon this future grace

So for His work my passion warmed

So for His work my passion warmed

 

So in this faith I firmly stand

That formed in me as God had planned

No force on earth can shake me free

My future held by God’s great hand

My future held by God’s great hand.

 

It is in His power and might that I continue to battle against sin and though I may not yet have attained—I know I will one day look like Jesus.  Oh, how I long for that day.  It is that truth that gives me hope once more and causes me to rise up above the ashes of my life to battle once more. 

From my Book, A Broken and Contrite Heart published 2010.

[Available at http://bookstore.authorhouse.com/Products/SKU-000465106/A-Broken-and-Contrite-Heart.aspx

And if you still don’t understand, please watch this video of the incredible hymn “Upon the Throne of God” with excerpts from the movie about Martin Luther included.

© 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 with the exception of my own book. 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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Blessed Dispensation of Grace

Swept Away By Grace—A Study in I Peter (part 4)—Blessed Dispensation of Grace

Consider the truth of how blessed we are to be in this dispensation of Grace. The prophets of old spoke of the Messiah to come, longing and yearning for that day. It was by faith that they looked forward to His arrival. They told of His coming to suffer and die that we might be saved; yet, they did not know when or how this great act of salvation would come to the earth. So it is Peter, crying forth:

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“Rejoice, for what the prophets of old foretold has come to us all—Salvation. That which is foretold is now completed—what was merely a shadow to come—is ours to accept. Even the angels can’t truly understand the Grace of being forgiven as we do. “ Are you beginning to understand what it is to be swept away by such Amazing Grace when all the mystery and chaff is swept away so that we see Christ’s Glory Revealed?

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Broken For Joy

Swept Away by Grace—A Study in I Peter-part 3: Broken for Joy

I think for us to understand Peter’s letter, we need to remember for a moment who Peter was and is. Here was a man who was a self-reliant, strong, rugged fisherman who knew how to work hard, get things done through the storms, and who had a loyal heart. He was amazed by the truth that Christ called him to be a disciple. He had left everything that he knew and trusted in to follow after Christ without a moment’s hesitation. For three years he had followed Christ and he had grown to love Christ; although, there were moments he didn’t fully understand what was happening. Many times along that part of his journey his faith had been tested and at times he had failed. Christ had confided to his apostles the plan was that he would die and would rise again to new life so that all might be saved; yet, Peter didn’t want to hear that. All Peter could see was the moment before him and did not understand the reality of eternity until later—but at that moment in the garden Peter rose up to defend Christ and Christ had said no.

mountaintop-experiences-in-the-valley-ronald-barbaOriginal Artwork used by permission of Ronald Barba and is protected by copyright—for information on obtaining copies please click on the picture or follow the link below.

Peter so believed that he was strong, courageous and would die defending His best friend and master; but, then the most painful thing that could ever happen did. He, Peter, denied Christ three times. Christ had even warned him that it would be so; but, the horror of coming face to face with his own failure was almost more than he could bear. Peter suddenly knew he was not worthy of God’s Grace.

He was not worthy to be called as a child of God. Christ was beaten, tortured, ridiculed and hung on a cross to die. Christ was then buried and rose from the grave on the third day. Now for a moment imagine the agony of Peter’s heart those three days. Even then, he

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Born Again Into This Living Hope

Swept Away by Grace-A Study in I Peter part 2—Born Again Into this LIVING HOPE

I Peter 1: “3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you, 5 Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.”

man with crossphoto courtesy of @istockphoto.com

Are you not overwhelmed by the truth of the Gospel of Christ?  Is your heart not overflowing with rejoicing over being alive in Christ?

  Think of this, we who are dead in our own sin are raised to a new life—we are born again to life eternal with Christ. Are you alive as a Christian or merely existing with a long sour face? Think of this, born again into a living, lively hope. If you do not feel like rejoicing over that truth, then do you really understand the gospel? God chose me, this broken, self-exalting heart that was dead to God. He gave me new birth into His family—the family of the King of the Universe and provided for me the promise of an inheritance in heaven with Him. Why would I ever weep or mourn over trivial losses here on earth? I am alive because He lives. Furthermore my salvation is secured and kept by the power of God. He not only provided the grace that saved me—He has provided the Grace I need today for whatever I face and the Grace that will lead me all the way home. So again, are you ALIVE and living forth Your LIVELY HOPE in Christ Jesus?

Imagine the magnificent joy that arose in Peter’s heart when he realized the truth of Christ’s resurrection and then Christ came to him and called him with the mission to preach the gospel despite his own failures. Peter knew the truth of what was Grace.

Listen to this song. He’s Alive with David Phelps

 

© 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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