Tuesday, March 31, 2015

A Hidden Classic, Guest Blogger Carol Stratton

Ephesian 2:10 NKJV “We are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus…”

Flat, I thought as I bent my ear to the mandolin strings. Can't tune it here, I'll just listen. As a newcomer to the group I decided to sit on the sidelines and enjoy the Saturday morning Bluegrass jam session. These regular jam sessions are part of the great musical culture all over North Carolina and listening to them will make anyone a Bluegrass lover forever. In my town, Richard’s Coffee Shop opens their doors to anyone with a stringed instrument.  I knew my grandfather’s mandolin cradled in my arms, longed to join in. But as a beginning player I didn't want to add any sour notes to the lively group.

Too late. A jovial musician spied me in the back of the store and waved me into the group. With a bit of a stomach flip-flop, I stood up and walked to the middle of the circle where I scooted into the only open chair. Maybe I could just pretend to pick my instrument.

My plan of being low-key and inconspicuous evaporated.
“Where did you get that instrument?” a grisly guitar player with a flowing beard bellowed. I didn't know what to say. Is he accusing me of something?  Does he think I borrowed someone else’s?

I smiled and answered with a sheepish grin. “Well, I pulled this out of the bottom of my mother’s hall closet. No one had played it for years so I thought I’d take it for a spin.”

Suddenly, every musician’s eyes fixed on my instrument. After a few minutes of uncomfortable silence another member spoke up. “What you've got there is a classic. You’d better get that appraised and insured.”   Hesitantly, a reedy banjo player leaned over and asked if he could hold it for just a minute. “I won’t even play it,” he assured me. “It’s a treasure.”

In 2 Corinthians 4:17, it says “We have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all surpassing power is from God and not us.”  Hidden inside of us God has placed His gem, the indwelling of His spirit in our earthly bodies.  The container may have dents, cracks, and chips. Part of the glaze may have worn off of the exterior but God still sees us as treasures.

Isn't it just like God to rummage through a dusty coat closet and haul us out to be used for His purposes? He doesn't want to waste anyone’s life stuffed in some gloomy dark storage area. And not only does he use us for His plans, He also takes great joy in passing us around to be admired as His treasures.  To God, we are His “classics”.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Undeserved Forgiveness Grace Freely Given

Matthew 6: 14-15 NKJV

 “For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.  But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses."

"She doesn't deserve my forgiveness! The evil that was done is just too great." This is the story my pastor's wife and Bible study leader, Eva Ruth, shared with us about someone in her life. Though Eva didn't feel this person deserved her forgiveness, she knew God's instruction. She knew that there was also a day when she didn't deserve forgiveness. The forgiveness Eva showed to the person wasn't deserved, but grace was freely given that day. The same goes for us, ladies. We didn't deserve the forgiveness that Christ offers. But again, undeserved forgiveness, grace was freely given.

Father, thank You for the forgiveness You show to us each and every day. The forgiveness was undeserved but the grace was freely given. Thank You Lord! In Jesus Name, Amen.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

The Beauty of Prayer

A man who has friends must himself be friendly,
But there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother. (Proverbs 18:24, NKJV)

Last week while attending a writers conference, I was able to spend time with a friend I've not seen in 2 years. On the last day, she gave me something I'll never forget. It was something that can't be bought with money, it can't be won in a contest. Susan Stilwell gave me the gift of prayer. Over the last 2 years, I've had her as a sweet prayer warrior. But to have her put her arms around me and say, "let me pray with you," meant the world to me. Out of all the classes I took and all the people I was fortunate to meet, that was the highlight for me. God brings people into our lives when we least expect it. Though we met at a writers retreat, I don't think either of us knew the friendship that would develop. Who in your life is a prayer warior?

Father, thank You for bring such awesome women into our lives. Help us to not take them for granted, to cherish them always. Lord I ask You provide my readers with someone they can call on at anytime for prayer. Lord give them a sweet prayer warrior like I've found in Susan. In Jesus name, amen.