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Tuesday, February 22, 2011

God’s Grace on Display


My mother-in-law suffered a stroke on Saturday night and is now in the hospital receiving excellent care from the folks at Union Memorial CCU.  How was God’s grace put on display?  When she had the stroke she was not alone.  She lives alone, but that weekend she was visited by her daughter and son. When her speech became jumbled her son knew immediately that something was amiss and called 911.
She was transported by ambulance to a hospital that was only a mile from her residence.    She received prompt attention.
Six of her seven sons and daughters were all notified within three hours  and the seventh by the next afternoon.  Soon all of her children were by her side.  Twenty hours after the event, she was talking, groggy but lucid and cognizant of everyone and her surroundings, and 36 hours later sitting up and wanting to go home (of course she’s not returning home yet).  My 77 year-old mothers-in-law, Ms Bessie, is one tough cookie.  
She has lived her life for her family, working hard and loving them fiercely.  She is the backbone and the bedrock upon which the Grafton Matthews family is built.    No wonder children and  grandchildren came running to her bedside (I think we overwhelmed the security personnel at Union Memorial).
God’s greatest display of His grace is that He allowed her to remain with us a bit longer.  Praise Him from whom all blessings flow!  

Ms Bessie looking great at 77!

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Sweetest and Most Sacred


In my previous post, when I shared my list of sacred sweets, I did not mention the sweetest and most sacred of them all -   the good Lord Jesus Christ.  He is the Lion and Lamb, the Son of God and very God,  the Beginning and the End,  the Friend of Sinners and their Terrible Judge,  Creator, Sustainer, Savior,  King and so much more.  Is there any wonder why He is number One?
I have always known there is a God.  As a teenager I began to sense I was very far from Him.  I often felt empty, lonely, purposeless, and inadequate. I knew if I could just have God in my life, I could be OK.  Outwardly I was a good girl, going to church – even in the middle of the week,  but I knew deep within I was not right with God.   However, God was working through my frustration and to get me to Himself.
 I knew the Bible was the Word of God so I thought I could reach out to God by reading it.  My brother, who had become a Christian in college, lent me one of his Bible study books when I told him I wanted to study the Bible.  The book was Unger’s Bible Handbook[1].
I started in the book of Romans (a deacon had said Romans explained the gospel - God’s good news to man).    I read chapter one.  The only thing I understood is that God loves us , but  also He is full of wrath  for the unrighteous.  I certainly knew I was a sinner, and I had suspected for some time that He was not totally pleased with me, but I did not think He was angry with me.  Vs 18[2] told me He was.    Chapter three bluntly stated “There is none righteous, no, not one … there is none that does good, no, not one.”[3]    I thought, I’m not the only person going to hell.    No one has the righteousness of life God requires, no one is good enough.   As I read further in chapter three I found words that gave me hope.  Vs 21[4]  told me the righteousness God requires has been made available to man.  Vs 22-24[5] said the righteousness comes to a person who believes in Jesus. God in his grace and mercy made righteousness available to all through His Son, the God-man Jesus Christ.  He lived a perfect righteous life and then took on the sins of the world when He died on the cross.  He suffered the wrath of His Father that everyone on earth deserved for their unrighteousness.  He died.  The proof that his death was satisfactory for the payment for sin is that He came back to life again.  The Easter story.   What Jesus did was enough.  I learned all that I needed to do was believe Jesus, trust what He did and I would receive the righteousness which would make me acceptable to God.  When I understood that message, it was as if God was speaking to me audibly saying  “Now is the time to decide Sheila. Believe me. Come.”

Since I trusted Christ, my big questions have been answered.   Who am I?  One for whom Christ died, a child of God  (1Cor 3:23, John 1:14)[6].  Why am I here?  For the pleasure of God, to honor Him with my life (Rev 4:11, Phil 2:13)[7].  Where am I going?  I’m on my way heaven, eventually but right now I’m on an adventurous, frenzied, hilarious, arduous – but never dull – journey called life on earth.  Over the mountains, through the valleys,   and in the course of the daily-ness of the journey, He has given me much joy.  My journey has been sprinkled with all those sacred sweets!  His presence being the sweetest of all!




[1] Unger’s Bible Handbook [1st ed.] by Merrill F. Unger. Chicago: Moody Press, 1966.
[2] Rom 1:18  For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hinder the truth in unrighteousness;
[3] Rom 3:10, 12
[4] Rom 3:21  But now apart from the law a righteousness of God hath been manifested,
[5] Rom 3:22-23  even the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ unto all them that believe; for there is no distinction;   for all have sinned, and fall short of the glory of God;  being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus:

[6] 1Corinthians 3:23  and ye are Christ's; and Christ is God's., John 1:12  But as many as received him, to them gave he the right to become children of God, even to them that believe on his name:
[7] Revelation 4:11  Worthy art thou, O Lord, … for thou didst create all things, and because of thy will they were, and were created. Philippians 2:13  for it is God who works in you both to will and to work, for his good pleasure.



Monday, February 14, 2011

From Whence Came the Name

 You may be wondering: where did the name of this blog come from?  It is a line from a beautiful old hymn that speaks of the Christian life as a journey.  The journey’s destination is Zion – heaven.  If you grew up in a traditional black Baptist church like me,  perhaps you know the song – Marching to Zion.   The song takes for granted that all Christians understand the journey is never made alone, but in unison with other Christians (Christ followers).

Zion is depicted as a beautiful city filled with heavenly fields and golden streets.  Along the way to that marvelous place, God graciously allows us to encounter places/situations where we find sacred sweets.  I believe the sacred sweets are little-bitty scrumptious bits of heaven right here on earth. The song promises “a thousand sacred sweets”. 

 In the midst of a world that is very far removed from heaven,  God gives me glimpses of pure delight, hilarious joy, soothing peace,  intoxicating passion,  realized hope, fulfilled purpose, contentment and much more through the sacred sweets He allows me to find.  I have been blessed to have tasted thousands.  Through this blog  I hope to share some of them with you.

This is Peanut!

A few of the scrumptious bits of heaven I enjoy right here:  My darling husband who loves me sacrificially, unconditionally, and kindly;  my three never-cease-to-amaze-me children; my Sunshine-the-clown sister and my sailor sister who are two of my best-est friends; my three brothers who treat me like a grown up; my mother-in-law who always tells it like it is; my dog Peanut;  friends;  a voice with which to make a joyful noise;  snow days;  prayer;  herb tea;  spring flowers;  old time radio;  lessons learned  ….  I could go on and on, but I’d like to hear about some of yours. Please share what tasty bits of heaven you've found  in a comment to this post.  Maybe we could make a list that would exceed a thousand if we kept it going.

Marching to Zion        Text: Isaac Watts

 
Come, we that love the Lord,
and let our joys be known;
join in a song with sweet accord,
join in a song with sweet accord
and thus surround the throne,
and thus surround the throne.

         Refrain:
         We're marching to Zion,
         beautiful, beautiful Zion;
         we're marching upward to Zion,
         the beautiful city of God.

The hill of Zion yields
a thousand sacred sweets
before we reach the heavenly fields,
before we reach the heavenly fields,
or walk the golden streets,
or walk the golden streets.
         (Refrain)


(If you need a refresher on what the tune sounds like, visit http://www.hymnsite.com/lyrics/umh733.sht )

First Entry

Welcome to all who have stumbled upon this page.  My prayer is that you will be benefitted from what I post.  I believe life is like a vapor - delicate, fleeting, all too soon gone.  I would like you to be blessed, edified, encouraged and challenged as you spend your precious few minutes reading my posts. 

My expertise is homemaking.  I have been a stay-at-home wife and mom for the past twenty-five years.  Prior to that I was the director of a shelter for homeless women.  Prior to that I traveled the world for four years with the USArmy.  Prior to that I was a student for three years at a Bible College.  Prior to that I spent four years in an all-girls high school.  I've had a wide variety of life experiences that give me a platform to say something - hopefully, something meaningful.

The most significant experience in my life has been knowing God and coming to love Him.  Prior to knowing Him, my life was uncertain, chaotic, and hopeless.  Since coming to know Him, life is still oftentimes uncertain and chaotic, but never hopeless. I realize He is in control of everything, He is good and He can be trusted to work everything out to honor Himself and to help all those who trust Him.

I hope to use this blog to encourage you to trust Jesus Christ.  If you already trust Jesus then I would like to encourage you  to keep loving Him and enjoying Him.  I plan to use this blog as a soapbox, journal, newsletter, and sounding board.  Like most moms, I always feel as though I have great advice to give.