Thursday, May 30, 2013

Grace on Evelyn St.

God is faithful to teach us about himself...and for me, he has been teaching me about His grace lately. I mean, I have a pretty good understanding of what grace the head knowledge of it. I would describe it as the undeserving love and protection...and the ultimate grace being the saving of our souls through God revealing the light of the knowledge of His glory through the face of Christ.(2 Corin. 4:6). But the heart knowledge came very recently...or maybe it was more the apex of gaining it. I was asked to do a jewelry project with two ex-prostitutes, which is what the world would call them, but I call them rescued victims of sex trafficking. Because there is just more to it than that they just up and decided to sell their bodies to make money one day, because they were extremely lascivious and "trashy". Not usually the case at all. More than not there is child abuse in their past, physical, sexual, it doesn't matter...their parents sucked to say the least. They may have been neglected, not shown their worth, not taught about their all-loving father in heaven...basically treated like a prostitute...used, devalued, treated like an animal. So, they fulfilled this other-produced prophecy. 

I learned before I arrived that day that I would be meeting with two women at  the place where they were housed by the organization to help them rebuild their lives....both of them Caucasian, 29-year-old the similarities began. I started our session by opening up about my past to help them feel more comfortable and at ease with me...because I didn't want them to feel like I was coming in as some Bible-beating hypocrite to tell them the Truth about their sinful past and how to be a "better person" me...not! Because this is not AT ALL where my heart was upon accepting the invitation to meet with them... 

(Sidenote: I began a relationship with the founders back in Nov '12 at an anti-human trafficking dance, and then in February of this year I began a jewelry cause as I call it, in which I would donate personalized hand stamped bracelets to girls and women who had been rescued from sex trafficking. "Adorn Her with His Promise. Giving Her Worth. Hope. Freedom." I donate one bracelet for every bracelet sold. It is the Jeremiah 29:11 verse using their name. I truly wanted to give these women a gift of hope using God's words spoken to them personally through something they would value that would make them feel valued. As I reached out to them to offer the bracelets, a door further opened to spend time with the girls making jewelry and doing crafts.)

My heart in working with these women was to allow God to use my story, which involved a sinful past, particularly involving sexual sin...and sharing with them God's redemption story in me of his mercy, love and forgiveness and the new life He has given me in the past 3+ years. I particularly wanted to inspire them to get into God's word, and show them the revelations that God has given me through simply opening up the Bible. ("For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart." Hebrews 4:12.) 

Basically, I wanted them to know what I have now come to know...and that is the freedom that comes from living a life in Christ. I learned about their lives up until this point, we shared similar struggles with relationships and men...and just life in general. I shared a handful of scriptures that helped me during my time of need, and we made some awesome pearl wrap bracelets! In which they did a way better job than me, and were much quicker to finish as well! lol. I promised to come back sometime within the month, and I felt that they enjoyed the fellowship as much as I did.

(Since then, I did a jewelry class with about 6 women at a program that offers life skills in which they attended. And, of course "jewelry making" is a life skill!! ;) I am now designing a signature piece for the organization (BY GOD'S GRACE!), and have the honor of making two special necklaces for these of them is having a birthday on June 6th.)

Back to this thing called GRACE....OH I left their house that day, and felt God's presence...especially as I passed Evelyn St. and Evelyn Pl.(which is my deceased daughter's name...and the first time I had seen her name on a street sign)...and as He spoke to me on the ride home and as I came back to my beautiful home, provided so graciously by God...and my parents....I thought I am not any different than these women...and as I told my mom about my day, it came to me that...I most UNDENIABLY would be exactly where they are and where they have been by about two degrees...or two decisions...and by His Grace alone I am not. 

I have NOTHING without his grace. I don't have my hands to feed myself, I don't have parents who took me in after all my horrible decisions. I am homeless, with a baby, maybe taken in by an organization like this to live on Evelyn St. I was so overcome by this knowledge of his grace in my life that it simply brought me to my knees and to tears of thankfulness for the grace that he has given me...which is less than some and more than others are given, but not by my own deeds or skills or choices. For instance, I am only given the ability to learn because he chose to give it to the degree that he chose to give it to me. I was born in this country by his grace. I was given the parents I was given by His grace. 

And the point, that I now understand better, is that I am no better than the woman that can't walk in Africa, that scoots around on the ground in her own feces, that knows maybe a handful of words, that most likely will never have the opportunity to read the Bible...I mean wow, HIS GRACE! I get it way more than I ever did...and it is only by His grace that He would show me and allow me to understand in the way that He did. Understanding his grace is very leaves one in a sheer place of thankfulness for our undeserving blessings and gifts. And that is His plan, to position our hearts to receive the Kingdom of God here and now, and for eternity. (And he said: "Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Matthew 18:3). He desires to bring us into greater likeness with Christ every day to more accurately imitate the love of God to others, so that they may come to know Him through us; and to prepare us for our entrance into heaven, so that we may be found spotless and blameless before our Maker. "Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless." Ephesians 5:25-27

And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord's glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit. 2 Corinthians 3:18

Here's the truth, without eyes from God, we think we are better than other people and we believe that we accomplish and have things by our own means....we say, I did this, or I have this job, or I went to this college, or I climbed that mountain, or we made this beautiful child. You are nothing and have nothing without God's provision and grace. And I pray for everyone reading this, that you receive the heart knowledge of God's grace over every single thing in your life, about who you are and what you he can lift you up, and so that you can see, understand, and humbly receive God's grace daily, growing in intimacy and knowledge of Him daily.

Scripture says: "God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble."
Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up. James 4:6,8-10

When we think we are better than another person it is a lie straight from the enemy. (By the way, I can only write about this, because I have been guilty of it in the past, and still struggle with it.) In this, we are affirming to ourselves and to the world that we are who we are and have what we have by our own means...we take credit for it, and do not accept that it is from the hand of God himself, by His grace alone. (She doesn’t realize it was I who gave her everything she has—the grain, the new wine, the olive oil; I even gave her silver and gold. But she gave all my gifts to Baal. Hosea 2:8). If we did accept that it was from God alone, why would we think we are better than someone else? Well, we wouldn't, because we would know that God could have easily chosen that life or status for us, and so we would simply be thankful and humble about who God has made us to be and what he has given us, and not project on others a greater than or less than attitude. More importantly in this is that when we do not accept that we are given everything by God's grace, we are not able to show God's love...which is pure and without fault or judgement...showing no favoritism.

"My brothers and sisters, believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ must not show favoritism. Suppose a man comes into your meeting wearing a gold ring and fine clothes, and a poor man in filthy old clothes also comes in. If you show special attention to the man wearing fine clothes and say, "Here's a good seat for you," but say to the poor man, "You stand there" or "Sit on the floor by my feet," have you not discriminated among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts? Listen, my dear brothers and sisters: Has not God chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and to inherit the kingdom he promised those who love him?" James 2:1-5

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. Philippians 2:3-4

And with this false mindset people are not able to know God through us...because we are living under a lie that is of the world, and accepted by the world, but is actually very far from the actual truth of what God has established to be true...and that is that we are all that we are, and have all that we have, only by God's grace.

But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever! Amen. 2 Peter 3:18

More Scripture:

"I adorned you with jewelry: I put bracelets on your arms and a necklace around your neck..." Ezekial 16:11 (I hope to write what God has spoken to me using this scripture soon...)

Does not the potter have the right to make out of the same lump of clay some pottery for special purposes and some for common use?" Romans 9:21
(By God's grace, I have only acquired "common use" grammar and writing skills...I know)

In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:
 Who, being in very nature God,
    did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
 rather, he made himself nothing
    by taking the very nature of a servant,
    being made in human likeness.
 And being found in appearance as a man,
    he humbled himself
    by becoming obedient to death
        even death on a cross!

 Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
    and gave him the name that is above every name,
 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
    in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
 and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord,
    to the glory of God the Father.
Philippians 2:5-11

Hosea 2:14-23---LOVE THIS!!

But then I will win her back once again.
    I will lead her into the desert
    and speak tenderly to her there.
 I will return her vineyards to her
    and transform the Valley of Trouble[b] into a gateway of hope.

She will give herself to me there,
    as she did long ago when she was young,
    when I freed her from her captivity in Egypt. When that day comes,” says the Lord,    “you will call me ‘my husband’
    instead of ‘my master.’[c]
 O Israel, I will wipe the many names of Baal from your lips,
    and you will never mention them again.
 On that day I will make a covenant
    with all the wild animals and the birds of the sky
and the animals that scurry along the ground
    so they will not harm you.
I will remove all weapons of war from the land,
    all swords and bows,
so you can live unafraid
    in peace and safety.
 I will make you my wife forever,
    showing you righteousness and justice,
    unfailing love and compassion.
 I will be faithful to you and make you mine,
    and you will finally know me as the Lord.

 “In that day, I will answer,”
    says the Lord.
“I will answer the sky as it pleads for clouds.
    And the sky will answer the earth with rain.
 Then the earth will answer the thirsty cries
    of the grain, the grapevines, and the olive trees.
And they in turn will answer,
    ‘Jezreel’—‘God plants!’
 At that time I will plant a crop of Israelites
    and raise them for myself.
I will show love
    to those I called ‘Not loved.’[d]
And to those I called ‘Not my people,’[e]
    I will say, ‘Now you are my people.’

And they will reply, ‘You are our God!’”

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