Grace…it really is Amazing!

Teaching topic:  God’s amazing grace, the expression of His great love!

Photo of the interior of the Ida Cason Callaway Memorial Chapel at Callaway Gardens (by Dea Minter Carey)

* GRACE GIVES,… out of the overflow of LAVISH LOVE!

Glimpses of grace come to us in all kinds of ways. We see the grace of God through His word, through an encouragement when we need it most, through the reminders of His love and mercy, and through the majesty and beauty of His creation, which is constantly sustained by His grace. We also see grace extended through the lives of others. We have been given lavish grace, and we have opportunities every day to extend this grace to others. In our lives, we all have stories of grace extended, grace recognized, grace blossoming, and grace overcoming darkness with light.

Sometimes we just don’t think about all of the manifestations of grace and may even take it for granted. We should think about grace, because we need to seek to extend God’s grace into the lives of people with whom we come into contact and into the world around us. The only way for us to extend the grace that we have been given by God is to do so intentionally. Grace is love that goes beyond. It is lavish love. It is not a mere exchange, requiring something in return. Grace gives when there is no promise of recompense. Grace reaches out through alienation and hurt. Grace heals, encourages, surprises us, and takes our breath away at the beauty of its motivation. For grace is pure. It is love that gives because it overflows, not because it is deserved or earned.  The best gift ever given, God’s only Son, Jesus Christ is the embodiment of the lavish, loving grace of God.  Grace really IS amazing!

* GRACE EMBRACES….out of a longing for relationship

As Jesus has loved us, so are we to love one another. We must remember that we have already been given that which we do not deserve…the love and mercy of God through our Savior, Jesus Christ. It is because of the lavish gift of salvation that we must choose to lay aside that which is temporary and embrace that which is eternal. When we embrace and value the lives of fellow human beings, we are most like Christ. Though He clearly saw the sin and sorrow in every life He encountered, Jesus healed, blessed, encouraged, helped, taught, fed, raised, challenged, transformed, forgave, and loved all who came across His path. The desire for a relationship with us because of His great love for us was more important to Jesus than any condemnation of our unrighteousness or exaltation of His own righteousness.

“For God sent not His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through Him.” John 3:17

* GRACE SEES…what could be

Because grace is lavish love expressed through undeserved mercy, grace sees.
Grace sees what could be….in the hearts and lives of people.
Grace sees what could be….in our own hearts and lives….and our need for growth.
Grace sees what could be….in relationships.
Grace sees what could be….in attitudes.
Grace demonstrates love to us right where we are….and sees ahead to what God will do in our lives as we yield our will and our hearts to Him.

* GRACE KNOWS US…right where we are…and chooses to show us love and mercy.

Grace is a choice that God makes in every millisecond of time to continue to show mercy because of His great love for us. The world keeps on spinning because of Amazing Grace. Our hearts keep beating because of the amazing grace of God. He could choose immediate judgement, but instead He chooses grace. And, from the dawn of time, His plan was to meet our need for grace by taking our judgement upon Himself because of His great love. We didn’t have to deserve or earn the right to forgiveness and salvation. He loves, He provides, He forgives, He sanctifies, He heals, He makes all things new, He comforts, He blesses, He gives joy and life more abundant, and His mercies are new every morning…because He is love. His grace flows out of the overflow of His lavish love, and the flow is never-ending.

“And the Word became flesh and lived among us, full of grace and truth; and we have beheld His glory, glory as of the only begotten Son of the Father. And from His fulness we have all received grace upon grace.” John 1:14 & 16

“And the Word became flesh and lived among us, full of grace and truth; and we have beheld His glory, glory as of the only begotten Son of the Father. And from His fulness we have all received grace upon grace.” John 1:14 & 16

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Post written by C. Boyd

This post was first published as a page on our WorshipSound Music Blog at http://worshipsounds.wordpress.com/grace-notes/

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Disappointment…and Grace

All of us experience disappointments in life. These can be relatively minor circumstances, disappointments that turn out to be merely a misunderstanding, devastating choices that lead to major life upheavals, or even heart-breaking betrayals of trust. I believe that every disappointment has the potential to change us in some way. If we can learn to respond with grace to the disappointments that come our way, they can lead to growth and perhaps to eventual reconciliation where there is a need for that. Many times, situations have consequences that reach far into the future, but that just makes it even more important to respond in a way that prevents bitterness from taking root and leaves an open door for God’s grace to bring good out of the pain of disappointment.

There are several types of disappointment that we need to consider. First, there is what I’ll call a Circumstantial Disappointment. Secondly, there are Relational Disappointments. Third, we will deal with Regretful Disappointments. Finally, we can sometimes feel disappointment with God when the answers to prayer are long in coming or seem not to be coming at all. We’ll call that Spiritual Disappointment. There are some general truths for dealing with all kinds of disappointment and some specific considerations for different types of disappointment.

Some people feel that the best way to avoid disappointment is by choosing not to expect too much. I remember not long ago hearing some dialogue in which an individual took issue with the phrase, “Don’t get your hopes up.” I don’t recall the source of the dialogue in question, but it may have been in a movie. The response to being told, “Don’t get your hopes up!” went something like this: “Why not? Why wouldn’t I want my hopes to be up? That’s a very good place for hopes to be. Why would I want to hope for less?” There’s a lot of truth in that. While our expectations in life should be a lot broader than hopes for more of everything good in our own lives (and should include hopefulness for our loved ones, our friends and neighbors, our community, our state, our country, and even the world as a whole, hoping for much more than just material blessings and ‘happiness’), it’s certainly much better to be hopeful than hopeless. Yes, we will sometimes be disappointed; but it’s still worthwhile to live hopefully. Hopes can bond the hearts of people, give individuals something to look forward to, give us a reason to keep working and trying and overcoming, and speak to the world around us with a message that the life of Christ within brings us “strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow…blessings all mine with ten thousand beside.” (lyrics from the hymn “Great is Thy Faithfulness.”)

The first key to dealing with disappointment is to hold on to hope. Our hopefulness is an indication of trust in God. When we know in the very depths of our souls that God is good and has our best interests on His heart, we can trust that whatever circumstance comes our way, God will use it to bring about good in our lives and in His Kingdom. So, the first and most important key to dealing with disappointment is a choice. We must choose to live hopefully. We must choose to reject the negative thoughts that enter our mind when we have been disappointed. Thoughts like “No one really cares about me” and “nothing ever works out in my life” are counter productive and depressing. To counter these kinds of thoughts, you may have to sit down and make some lists. Make a list of everyone who has been kind to you and demonstrated caring. Make a list of the blessings in your life. Make a list of the times when things have worked out well for you, and include times when something that seemed negative at first eventually turned into a positive. Seeing these truths written in black and white can do a lot to help you choose hope.

Precious promises for you!

Secondly, it is essential for us as Christians to look to scripture for help when we are dealing with disappointment. Study the ways that Biblical characters such as Joseph dealt with disappointment and even betrayal. Read the Psalms. Here, you will find a desperate longing for God, and sometimes the broken-hearted pleas for God’s deliverance from trials. No matter what the circumstance, the writers of the Psalms turned to God as their source of help and hope. Another helpful thing to do is to fill your mind with the promises of God. If you don’t have a little book of God’s promises from scripture, buy one and keep it on your nightstand.

Or, go to websites such as these:

God’s promises arranged by topic: http://www.smilegodlovesyou.org/promises.html
Daily scripture promise blog: http://www.365promises.com/
God’s promises in every book of the Bible: http://bible.org/article/selected-promises-god-each-book-bible
John Piper’s sermon on the promises of God: http://www.desiringgod.org/resource-library/sermons/all-the-promises-of-god-are-yes-in-christ

New International Version (©1984) “For no matter how many promises God has made, they are “Yes” in Christ. And so through Him the “Amen” is spoken by us to the glory of God.”
II Corinthians 1:20

Romans, Chapter 5, NIV
1Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, wea have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And web rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. 3Not only so, but wec also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.

(Scripture references above are copied from the Online Parallel Bible) http://bible.cc/

SPECIFIC TYPES OF DISAPPOINTMENT

Circumstantial disappointment

All of us face times in life when circumstances change in a way that we did not expect or that seems less desirable than what we had hoped. These kind of circumstantial disappointments may involve something that didn’t happen as you had hoped. Or, they may involve something that happened which seems contrary to everything you had hoped. Sometimes these disappointments lead to eventually letting go of one dream for your life and grabbing hold of God’s promises and His new dream for you. Circumstances will happen to disappoint us all, and each time we must choose to look at the positives in the situation. The reactions we have to the disappointment of our hopes can range from mild irritation (having to re-arrange your schedule because a flight was cancelled, for example) to feeling absolutely devastated (the sale of your home fell through, or you were laid off, or you didn’t get admitted to the University of your choice). No matter how strong our reaction may be, each disappointment results in the following choices:

1. Choosing to continue to dwell on what has been lost even though nothing can be done about it OR eventually choosing to let it go and move on.

2. Choosing to give up on a hope or dream OR seeking God’s direction about whether to allow Him to give you a new dream or to persevere in seeking this hope but perhaps through another avenue.

3. Choosing to become bitter about what has been denied OR allowing God to use disappointment to refine our character.

4. Choosing to become stuck in the past and our unfulfilled hope OR moving forward with trust and faith in God, knowing that He will work all things (even this disappointment) for our good.

5. Feeling hopeless OR allowing God to restore our hope as time passes and the mental and spiritual adjustment is made not only to the reality that the disappointment has occurred, but to the possiblities of the future!

There is a grieving process with any disappointment, and it is necessary. After all, it takes time to re-adjust your thinking to a new reality. However, we must always be seeking God as the Source of our comfort, our transformation to the likeness of Christ, and ultimately, our hope. God wants us to be honest with Him in prayer. He knows we are devastated and disappointed, but He wants us to talk to Him about it. His Spirit can only minister peace in a situation that has been turned over to Him. A new dream can only be given when we choose to allow Him to turn our disappointment into possibilities that we’d never imagined. Give yourself the grace of seeing each day as a new beginning, full of possibilities and promise as you release the disappointments of the past and surrender each moment to the Lord. The reality of your disappointment can become a stepping stone to newness in your life and even to a reality more joyful or profound than anything you could have dreamed. Hold on to your relationship with God through the grieving and adjustment period, and hold on to hope!

Relational Disappointment

Relational disappointment can be the most devastating type of disappointment. Someone has let us down or even intentionally hurt us…often in a BIG way. Broken hearts result from relational disappointment. Here, we are not only dealing with our feelings about what has happened. We are also dealing with the ongoing relationship. When we have been badly hurt, anger is often our response. However, the expression of anger can cause even more relational difficulty. It’s good to keep in mind some considerations of the other person and the relationship you have to them. As you work through the process of dealing with the disappointment and hurt that you feel, you can choose to show grace by valuing the person and the relationship more than your right to be angry and hurt. Although the grieving and adjustment process for relational disappointment is the same as for any other type, the feelings and the potential relational consequences involved require careful consideration of a few additional factors.

First, remember that you, too, have at times disappointed someone. None of us can perfectly meet the needs of another person. We will all make mistakes, forget something important, or fail to handle a situation appropriately from time to time. We all will have times when we need to apologize for disappointing someone else (as well as times when we need to forgive someone for disappointing us).

Secondly, we need to realize that what seems a big failure or disappointment may have been out of someone’s control or may have resulted from a miscommunication of some type. Here, I will give an example of something that occurred at one of the churches where Travis had served. There was a person who was a part-time employee in Music Ministry at the church, and this individual had been serving for a number of years. Travis was new at the church and was still learning how things were done. Procedures and policies very widely from church to church, and that fact would be brought home in this situation. At the church Travis had left prior to coming to this new church, the Personnel Committee had always taken care of farewells and thank yous to those who were leaving a paid position in the church. However, when this person was no longer employed by the church, nothing was done by that committee. By the time that Travis realized that things were handled differently at the new church, the former employee was already very upset and feeling unappreciated. Though he tried to correct the mistake he’d made by assuming procedures were similar, the attempts were rejected by the former employee. Travis would have liked to have had the opportunity to show appreciation properly; but because of a misunderstanding and the resulting disappointment, that never happened as it should have.

Many times, relational disappointments do result from some sort of misunderstanding. When there seems to have been a mess up or a large oversight that affects you, try not to automatically assume the worst and get all upset without knowing the facts. There may be reasons why things happened as they did of which you are unaware. Sometimes, knowing what happened can help and can even save a relationship. Therefore, we all need to give each other the grace of refusing to jump to conclusions. If you can talk to the person or persons who were involved in whatever led to your disappointment and tell them, “I really felt… (disappointed, betrayed, unappreciated…fill in the blank) because….” (Keep it short and mention only one or two main factors, without detail. Hopefully, this can come across without condemnation or anger.) Then, ask for clarification, “I didn’t want to assume anything without giving you the opportunity to explain, so can you tell me what happened?” Give the person some time to think and consider a response. Just sit and wait without saying anything further. It could be that there are real reasons for the way things happened that you never knew about. The problem could even have resulted from something that you did or said that the other person did not know how to handle. The truth could immediately make you feel better. If so, you may have prevented permanent damage to a relationship by seeking understanding. Or, the truthful answer could hurt at first. It may be that the truth is a mirror, reflecting an area in your own life where some change needs to take place or just an outright failure or oversight by the other party. Either way, these kinds of hurtful truths can be stepping stones to growth and to better understanding eventually if we keep the door of relationship open and work to have better understanding and resolve problems. Regardless of the steps that need to be taken, forgiveness is always appropriate. Even if something happened that was totally wrong, forgiveness will ultimately set you free from bitterness and from living in the past. Ask God to give you an open heart to any changes that you need to make and grace for the other person, just as you have been shown grace and mercy.

When you think that you have someone figured out and that you are disappointed in who they are, remember that there may be many things that you do not know about this person or about their life. Some of your asumptions may be totally wrong. Give others the grace of forgiveness and a second chance. You may be making yourself totally miserable by harboring negative feelings that are not even based upon fact. Pray for this person, and allow God to work in them and in you. You may be surprised at what He will do!

If a relationship proves to be totally unhealthy, seek counsel about what to do. No one has to stay in an abusive situation. You cannot change another person. Change can only come when the other person desires to change, and a lot of changes require God’s help.

Regretful disappointment

Sometimes, our lives can become filled with regret if we dwell on past mistakes or on what we wish we had done in a situation. These things are truly beyond our control. They are in the past. What matters is how we live NOW and what we do to make things better NOW. Give yourself the grace of letting go. Learn from past mistakes, fix what you can, and then remember Paul’s testimony and advice:

“It’s not that I have already reached this goal or have already become perfect. But I keep pursuing it, hoping somehow to embrace it just as I have been embraced by the Messiah Jesus. Brothers, I do not consider myself to have embraced it yet. But this one thing I do: Forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I keep pursuing the goal to win the prize of God’s heavenly call in the Messiah Jesus.” – Phillippians 3;12 – 14 (International Standard Version)

The Serenity Prayer can also be helpful.

Spiritual disappointment

Spiritual disappointment can be extremely difficult. As Christians, we know that God is good and that He is able to do anything and to meet our needs. We feel that we should be content to trust His wisdom about the when and the how. We often don’t feel that we can even talk to other Christians about our disappointment. This kind of scenario can lead to feeling totally alone, as though one is abandoned by God but can’t talk about it because to do so would only lead to rejection from other believers who may want to comfort you but who actually fear the pain and loss you have experienced and want you to repeat phrases like “God is so good!’ or “His timing is perfect” for your good and for their comfort. The Book of Job is about just such a struggle. It’s a battle for Job between what he knows he should feel and what other believers are telling him to feel versus how he actually does feel. At the beginning of the time of trial for Job, God expresses confidence in the faith of Job. And yet, even for a mature believer, there is a process of sorting through thoughts, grieving loss, and finding that your faith still holds true. Job wants to know why. He knows that he has done nothing wrong to provoke God’s judgement in the form of the calamity that has come upon his household, and yet He acknowledges that God is sovereign over all. God Himself speaks with Job, and the truths that come out of this conversation are that God does not have to reveal His reasons to us and yet, He wants us to come to Him with our questions. There is no way that we could fully understand the interactions of every human heart and every circumstance as God does. We don’t have the infinite understanding to fathom God’s reasoning, but God gives us the mercy and grace to allow us to question Him, to ask why, and to express our pain, our deep grief, our disappointment, and even our anger. After we have asked out questions and cried out our pain, peace comes only when we finally choose to trust. It is a process, and that process is part of the healing and growth. So, the ultimate message about spiritual disappointment is that it will come to everyone, that we must take it to Him, and that He will teach and comfort us through the pain.

Turning to God in our disappointment and being honest with Him in prayer is the third key for dealing with disappointment. In earlier paragraphs, I had stated that the other two keys are choosing to live hopefully, based upon your knowledge of God’s goodness and your desire to have a positive outlook, and then turning to scripture for help in coping with disappointment. So, my friends, choose hope! Seek answers in God’s word, and turn to Him with all of your questions and hurts as you work through the process of moving forward in your life after you have been disappointed. These three keys to coming through a disappointment and moving forward without bitterness are not a ‘quick fix’. There is no easy answer and no quick solution. Allow yourself the grace of processing all that has happened and thinking through what this means for the future. God wants to bring possibility and promise out of this situation for you. He wants to heal your heart and give you new hope. He wants to communicate His love for you and renew your confidence in His goodness. Blessings to you in the journey!

* A SONG FOR YOU * Here’s a link to a song that may be helpful to you: http://soundcloud.com/travis-l-boyd/god-is-faithful-satb-choral

* HERE’S A BONUS *
Check out this excellent teaching about disappointment by TV host, author, and speaker Michelle McKinney Hammond on the 700 Club’s “Voices of Hope” series (segment #2) about facing life issues.  Here’s the link to the series.  (You will have to select and click on the Segment #2 link to see the video with the teaching about disappointment.): http://www.cbn.com/700club/features/voiceofhope/

Interestingly, in the 700 club interview that allows her to explain her teaching on disappointment, Ms. Hammond also speaks of the need for demonstrating grace when facing disappointment, saying, “Don’t expect divinity from humanity.  Have grace for people, and place your expectations on God.”  Additionally, she also speaks of trusting God through the disappointment (as in our blog article), but she does state some of her teaching in some unique ways that will be helpful to anyone who is seeking additional insights to learn the lessons of disappointment while holding on to faith, preserving relationships, and dealing with pain.  Listen near the end of the interview for your assignment, when Ms. Hammond speaks of God’s plan in the disappointment and our corresponding job as the steward of the experience.

Here is a link to information about her book called How to Get Past Disappointment;
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Note: I have not read the book, but I am recommending it based upon hearing the teaching in the above link, which is a portion of what is contained in the book. – C. A. Boyd)
Book info: http://www.amazon.com/How-Get-Past-Disappointment-Finding/dp/0736937862

<><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><>This post was written by C. A. Boyd
<><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><>><><><>Do you know Jesus?The decision to ask Jesus to come into your heart and life as your Lord and Savior is the best decision you could ever make! The one true God is ready to give you forgiveness and eternal life as soon as you understand your need for Him and believe on the name of His only Son, Jesus, for your salvation.Here’s a blog page link to help you find the answers to your questions about Jesus.

http://www.boydbrainmusic.wordpress.com/do-you-know-jesus

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You Are Greatly Loved!

“Therefore, since we are justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through Him we have access to this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in our hope of sharing the glory of God. More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts throught the Holy Spirit which has been given to us.” Romans 5:1 – 5

Teaching topic:  The Awesome and Infinite Love of God

There are so many ways that the immense and immeasurable love of God is manifested to us, His deeply loved ones. He has written His love for us into His creation, and He has chosen again and again to show us mercy and grace because of His powerful, perfect, and almighty love.

Here are some ABC reminders of the many ways that God has demonstrated His love to us.

{ A } God’s love accepts us just as we are. When we are ready to see our own sinfulness and come to Him for forgiveness and salvation, God is always ready to receive us. We don’t have to clean ourselves up first or get ourselves right. He takes care of that after we have come to Him. The invitation to come to Him for salvation and forgiveness has no other conditions. It is the beginning point of our walk with the Lord and our journey towards becoming like Christ.

{ B } God’s love blesses our lives in countless ways. Every good gift is from Him. (James 1:17)

{ C } God’s love covers our sin with His mercy through the blood of Jesus. “Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. Blessed in the one to whom the Lord imputes no iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no deceit.” Psalm 32:1 & 2
(Note: the sin is covered by God only as we confess it and ask for His forgiveness, as in verse 1a)

{ D } God’s love delights in fellowship with us. He is never unavailable. He is God with Us, Emmanuel.

( E ) God’s love is everlasting. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever. God’s love for us will never change or grow cold.

( F ) God’s love is forgiving. He is rich in mercy. As the hymn, “Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee” expresses, He is “ever giving and forgiving.”

( G ) God’s love is generous. Because He loves, He gave the most precious gift ever given…His only Son.

“We love, because He first loved us.” I John 3:19

( H ) God’s love is holy. There is no impure thought or motivation within the heart of God. His love is the most pure and holy of all loves.

( I ) God’s love is immortal. The Bible says that God is love. And, since God will never die, His love (that is the basic character of who God is and the fundamental motivation for all that He does) will never die. Our mortal loved ones may leave us for a time on Earth, but God’s love has always been, constantly is, and will always be. It is who He is.

( J ) God’s love is a jealous love. He wants to be first in our hearts. To some, that may sound out of character for our merciful and loving God; but He is the one who made us and knows us best. He knows that our lives will be complete, abundant, full of joy, and our full potential will be realized only as we love Him first.

( K ) God’s love is kind. He has our best interests at heart. As the lyrics from the chorus to the song, “Trust His Heart” (recorded by both Babbie Mason and Cynthia Clawson) tell us so beautifully: “God is too wise to be mistaken. God is too good to be unkind. So, when you don’t understand, when you don’t see His plan, when you can’t trace His hand, trust His heart.”

( L ) God’s love is long-suffering (patient even when it is painful to be so). He allows the world to continue even though our sorrows bring him grief and our sin breaks his heart. His desire is to allow us more time to come to faith in Him, even in this fallen world. He sees beyond the present pain to the joy and victory that is to come and continues to show mercy.

( M ) God’s love is merciful. Perhaps a better spelling for the word would be mercyfull! Because God’s love for us is infinite in its fullness and in its capacity to forgive, God delights in showing us mercy. His mercies are new every morning!

( N ) God’s love is near. He is near to all who call upon His name. We don’t to wait for someday to know the love of the Lord. He is here. He is near.

( O ) God’s love is the origin of all true love. We love because He first loved us and created us with the capacity to give and receive love.

( P ) God’s love is powerful! His love has the power to transform lives, heal hearts, and purify souls.

( Q ) God’s love has both…quality and quantity! The quality of his love has a purity that goes beyond anything we experience on earth. And, as for quantitiy, there is always, abundantly, more of God’s love…enough to fill our hearts for eternity!

( R ) God’s love is redemptive. He will redeem every experience, every pain, every rejection, every loss, and every heart that says “Yes!” to His “Come Just as You Are” invitation.

“For God so loved…”

( S ) God’s love is saving love. In the words of Dottie Rambo, “He looked beyond my fault, and saw my need.” Because of His great love for us, God met our need for holiness, for relationship with Him, for abundant life, for purpose, for salvation. He sent Jesus as our Savior and allowed the ultimate sacrifice of Christ to become a substitutionary payment for the wages of our sin.

( T ) God’s love is true. We may wonder about the constancy of others, but God’s love is unaltered by time or circumstances. There is nothing that can separate us from the true love of God.

( U ) God’s love is understanding. There are those in our lives who may love us but not completely understand us. God, on the other hand, understands us better than we understand ourselves; and the best part is that He loves us anyway!

( V ) God’s love is victorious! The Latin phrase, “Amor vincit omni,” means “Love conquers all.” Our earthly loves are sometimes lasting in spite of obstacles, but we are inevitably separated by the enemy of death. God’s love has conquered sin, hell, and death! His love is victorious over all and will ultimately allow us to share in this victory.

( W ) God’s love is welcoming. We are the prodigals, captivated by our own desires, undertaking risky and ill-advised paths through life to get to the destination we think we want, using other people to get our way, living as if there is no tomorrow, breaking the Father’s heart with our sin and self-destructive ways. He is the ever-loving Father, waiting and praying for our return, continually watching for a sign that we are on our way home, ready to run to us and embrace us in all of our filth when He sees that we are ready to return, restoring our lives and our status as His own children, ready to celebrate and to give us every good gift!

( X ) God’s love is eXtravagant. He always goes far beyond in everything he does for us. He could have made us an earthly home that would have sustained us without all of the beauty and majesty that he has put into His creation. The colors, the shapes, the textures, the variety of species…in every facet of life…birds, trees, fish, reptiles, amphibians, arachnids, insects, flowers, grasses, leafy plants, crustaceans, mammals, food-bearing plants, shrubs, vines, and even microscopic creatures…it’s amazing! Every idea that we think we have came from Him first. Drinking straws? Butterflies have a built in tube for drinking nectar. The wheel? Have you ever seen a tumbleweed in the wind? The internal combustion engine? Our sun and every other star. Machines and factories? Our bodies are a machine. They are designed so that we can do work and accomplish tasks. A robotic arm has joints that allow it to bend and move in ways that we take for granted. Airplanes? Obvious. Electicity? What about lightning and the electical impulses in brains and our nervous system. Computers? Our human brains are amazingly capable in storing information and in reasoning that goes far beyond what any machine can do. What about identification technologies that quickly calculate all the relationships between the swirls of a fingerprint, the structure of a face, or the identifying points in an eye? We are that individual, each one the Master Artist’s masterpiece. None of these individual characteristics unique to every person could have come from evolution or natural selection. Did our ancestors select each other for mating based upon such miniscule identifiers? Such a thought is preposterous. No, each of us is formed by God in the womb as a totally unique and individual creation. Do we carry some genectic traits? Of course. God planned it that way. As the founder of the family, he wants us to be connected to those who are related closely to us. And yet, there is nothing in genetics that could explain the artist’s signature that is found in our fingerprints. What about salvation? He didn’t just send us a do-it-yourself guide. He sent Himself, gave Himself, and sacrificed Himself in the person of God the Son, Jesus Christ. Every moment His love and mercy allows us to live is a gift far beyond what His holiness and justice would require, were it not for God’s eXtravagant grace.

( Y ) God’s love yearns for what is best. He has promised to work all things together for our good (Romans 8:28). He will not rest until he has accomplished this. He who began a good work (in us and in His kingdom purposes) will be faithful to complete it.

( Z ) God’s love is zealous for us. He never loses His zeal for our salvation and sanctification; and He will accoomplish our ultimate glorification as we come to live forever with Him and are complete in Him, becoming like Christ in purity.

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This post was written by Cynthia Boyd and was inspired by the awesome and limitless love of God, with the help of the prompting provided by the message of the Valentine used as the illustration for this post.

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Do you know Jesus?

The decision to ask Jesus to come into your heart and life as your Lord and Savior is the best decision you could ever make! The one true God is ready to give you forgiveness and eternal life as soon as you understand your need for Him and believe on the name of His only Son, Jesus, for your salvation. Here’s a blog page link to help you find the answers to your questions about Jesus. http://www.familysong.wordpress.com/do-you-know-jesus/

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A Little Boydie told me…

Just a reg’lar Mom in a house full of boys

praise4ever

praise4ever

I'm a busy wife and mother of 7, with 6 incredible boys still at home and a beautiful married daughter. Our boys range in age from our 10 year old twins to our 22 year old. We have 2 in Elementary School, 2 in Middle School, one in High School, and one High School grad. They are all incredible and special. One of our boys has special needs. I'm a musician, singer, writer, composer, blogger, and teacher. I'm thankful for our home and family, for Travis, my amazing husband of 39 years, and for family and friends near and far. Most of all, I'm thankful for God's grace and mercy and that He has given the gift of salvation through Jesus Christ, my Lord and Savior.

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Giving a Song to say “Thank You”

Travis L. Boyd / WorshipSounds Music

Travis L. Boyd / WorshipSounds Music

As a follower of Jesus Christ, a husband and a father of 7, and a Minister of Music and Worship, I am very blessed. For a total of 32 years, I have served as a Minister of Worship for some wonderful congregations in the states of Oklahoma, Texas, and Georgia. It is a joy to lead God's people in worshipping Him through music, and I am very blessed to serve at First Baptist Church of Duluth, Georgia. I'm also a composer, lyricist, arranger, and orchestrator, with choral anthems, songs, and orchestrations published by Shawnee Press (now with Hal Leonard), Lorenz, Choristers Guild, and Lifeway. My web-based music publishing site, WorshipSounds Music (formerly Boydbrain Music), offers Choral Anthems, Orchestrations, Congregational Praise, and Vocal Solo music. Our worship blog has become an extension of worship ministry, and it is a privelege to share information and inspiration with other worshippers. My desire is to glorify God through my life, ministry, and composition work. I believe that music is a wonderful way to communicate the truths of God's love and mercy and to glorify Him. My wife, Cindy, and I have been married for 36 years. We have 7 children. Daughter Meredith lives in Texas. Sons Jared, Zachary, Braden, Logan, Austin, and Camden range in age from 7 to 19 and are still living at home.

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