God in all things? Really?
This month has been one of one step forward, two steps back. You know what I mean: a list of projects to complete by the end of the month and time to address them slowly but surely eaten away by who-knows-what. Here I am at the end of the month with at least two of the activities barely addressed! I’ll admit that the biggest obstacles have been our work in updating our kitchen after the tile began cracking and the dishwasher failed, so there has been too much time devoted to washing dishes or buying paper plates, or living with much of the kitchen belongings stored temporarily in the living room. But, there have been other things which have pulled me away time and again when I began to turn my mind and efforts to the projects I set.
What I purposed to do I thought worthy of attention: composing a devotional for my fellow Sisters, and preparing opening and closing prayers for our Business Meeting in March. I have done these before often; I felt I could “get them done” in short order. Surely God would smile on me and help me. However, each day I encountered more ways to delay my work, from my car suddenly failing, to leading Morning Prayer when my husband had another meeting, to dealing with a malfunctioning printer. Soon the end of the month loomed directly ahead, and I had not accomplished what I set out to do. I could not, or had not, gotten myself under control enough to think seriously about what I could share that might inspire one or two of us. Finally sitting down in prayer to begin I began to realize why I had been unsuccessful in previous attempts.
Biblical Truth #2) Trust in God for strength and wisdom to deal with obstacles. Perhaps He has put them there in the first place!
Many people spend a lot of time trying to think and maneuver their way around obstacles in their own strength. Yet for certain obstacles—our futile attempts to deal with them in our own strength—renders us powerless. This is what I had been doing for most of the month. While my daily prayers were intercessions for others, I neglected to bring my work to God and depend on Him to lead me to what He wanted me to share. Only He could help me overcome my distractions and false starts.
Philippians 4:13 I can do all things through him who strengthens me.
Obstacles aren’t fun to deal with. They slow up our processes and plans. They keep us from moving forward in our dreams and desires that God has placed on our hearts. They block us from seeing the untapped potential for our future. But there’s no spiritual growth without obstacles. Every mature believer has at one time or many times dealt with unimaginable obstacles in the way of God’s direction for their lives.
I have learned to bring all my work to God first. Just as I pray before every meal that the food I eat could be food for everlasting life, I should pray for direction in all my work so that I am merely the servant and say, not what I want to say, but what God wants me to say. I can not inspire you, but God can and will. And He’s just a prayer away.
Matthew 11: 28-29 Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.
Parishes and Chapters for 2021 Prayer Cycle Assignment
Advent Sisters of Prayer Senior Spartanburg 02/07/21
Ascension Blessed Virgin Mary Senior Clemson 02/14/21
At Large Senior Various 02/21/21
Atonement Lutheran Rose Senior Laurens 02/28/21
Christ Church St Margaret Senior Piedmont 03/07/21
Church of the Ridge St Clare of Assisi Senior Ridge Spring 03/14/21
Epiphany Dorcas Senior Spartanburg 03/21/21
Faith Lutheran St Therese of Lisieux Senior Liberty 03/28/21
Good Shepherd Bishop Howe Senior Columbia 04/04/21
Good Shepherd Julian Of Norwich Senior York 04/11/21
Good Shepherd St Joan of Arc Junior Greer 04/18/21
Good Shepherd St Teresa Senior Greer 04/25/21
Grace Mary & Martha Senior Camden 05/02/21
Holy Cross St Clare Senior Simpsonville 05/09/21
Holy Trinity Mary E M Laib Senior Clemson 05/16/21
Incarnation Martha & Mary Senior Gaffney 05/23/21
Redeemer St Agnes of Rome Junior Greenville 05/30/21
Redeemer St Therese Senior Greenville 06/06/21
Resurrection St Margaret Senior Greenwood 06/13/21
St Alban St Alban Senior Lexington 06/20/21
St Andrew Our Lady of Walsingham Senior Greenville 06/27/21
St Augustine Sisters of Prayer Senior Aiken 07/04/21
St Bartholomew St Bartholomew Senior Warrenville 07/11/21
St Christopher St Clare of Assisi Senior Spartanburg 07/18/21
St David Dove Senior Columbia 07/25/21
St Francis of Assisi St Clare Senior Chapin 08/01/21
St George Sisters of Prayer Senior Spartanburg 08/08/21
St James Ruth Senior Taylors 08/15/21
St Luke St Luke Senior Columbia 08/22/21
St Luke St Monica Senior Newberry 08/29/21
St Martin St Martin Senior Columbia 09/05/21
St Mary Daughters Of Mary Senior Columbia 09/12/21
St Matthew St Angela Senior Spartanburg 09/19/21
St Michael Cindy Parrott Senior Easley 09/26/21
St Michael & All Angels Mary of Bethany Senior Columbia 10/03/21
St Peter Peace of the Holy Comforter Senior Greenville 10/10/21
St Philip Good Samaritan Women Senior Simpsonville 10/17/21
St Simon & St Jude Mary Magdalene Senior Columbia 10/24/21
St Thaddeus St Thaddeus Senior Aiken 10/31/21
St Timothy Mary and Martha of Bethany Senior Columbia 11/07/21
Trinity Cathedral St Helena Senior Columbia 11/14/21
Episcopal, Anglican, Lutheran, Roman Catholic Parishes without Chapters Both Upper South Carolina 11/21/21
The Order of the Daughters of the King Outside of our Diocese Both Not Upper South Carolina 11/28/21
The Order of the Daughters of the King Upper South Carolina 12/05/21
All Junior Daughters Chapters Diocesan 12/12/21
GRACE, pt. 2
Earlier this year I wrote about God’s grace, emphasizing that, since we have free will, we sometimes believe we do not need God’s grace and sin willingly, sometimes violently. We should realize that God does have grace to offer and we should be open to receiving it. Without it, we cannot come to Him.
Let’s revisit this concept of Grace. There is more to be said.
During the second half of August the selected readings for the daily offices have included the death of Stephen, a faithful apostle of Christ. We know the story of this beloved servant of God, who may have been the one to carry the cross for Jesus on the route to Golgotha. He continued to preach the new faith in Jesus Christ, but was not accepted by the Jews or Romans. After coming once again before the Sanhedran, we learn of his stoning and death. Even as he dies, he asks God to forgive the people.
How could God have allowed Stephen to die? Why did He willfully suspend His grace to his faithful servant and strike down his tormentors? Webster’s New World College Dictionary definition of Grace includes this concept "The unmerited love and favor of God toward human beings; divine influence acting in a person to make the person pure, morally strong; the condition of a person brought to God's favor through this influence.” Sounds as though Stephen qualified! He certainly kept his faith and witnessed to everyone about the blessings of God, even asking God to forgive those who were killing him. What was God doing here? Why wasn’t Stephen saved?
But, back up a moment. Did you notice something in that definition above? It states unmerited love and favor of God toward human beings. And passages in God’s Word enforce this idea:
· Titus 2:11-14 “For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men,
· Romans 5:8 “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”
· Romans 3:23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,
In other words, God loves us all, sinner, nonsinner (or so he thinks), believer and nonbeliever. He extends His grace to all, allowing all people another chance to come to believe in His love and salvation through His Son, Jesus Christ. In fact, in the telling of the death of Stephen, we learn of a familiar figure in Biblical literature: Saul, who hated the Christians and witnessed the stoning of Stephen, even holding the coats of those who threw the deadly weapons. God granted Saul, and others there that day, His grace to live another day, and another day. Until, one day Saul “saw the light,” repented and became the voice of God to many churches and believers. God spared the life of Saul that day, waiting for him to repent and come to a faith in Jesus Christ. God’s grace was not only for Stephen, who was taken to eternal life, but for the stoners and Saul.
It is always difficult to learn of the death of a dear friend or relative, especially now in these days of the Covid-19 affecting so very many. How many times do you find yourself asking “dear God, why him? He had so much faith that You would protect him.” But, of course, God does protect him—from eternal damnation. He gives His grace to all people, even those who do not (yet) believe, those who disobey His commandments, to those who have not yet heard of Him or have even rejected Him. We all receive His grace to live another day to continue our work here on earth: to please Him, to love Him, to spread the news of Him whenever and wherever we can.
So, let’s be about our work! Continue to please Him. Continue to love Him. Continue to spread His Word. It is what we can do, it is what we ought to do.
A Collect for Grace
O Lord, our heavenly Father, almighty and everlasting God, who hast safely brought us to the beginning of this day: Defend us in the same with thy mighty power; and grant that this day we fall into no sin, neither run into any kind of danger; but that we, being ordered by thy governance, may
do always what is righteous in thy sight; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Elaine Sandberg, Worship Chair