Tuesday With Teri

Devotions from lessons I'm learning from God

Unmerited Favor March 26, 2016

Filed under: devotionals — tlmiller82 @ 6:02 pm

For some reason I have always had a vivid memory of a single line form a kids play from years ago.  My kids participated in many musicals/plays/skits in church, while growing up, so I find it odd that THIS particular line is always rolling around in my head after all these years.  I have no recall of the title, not even the context…but I seem to think it had something to do with a little girl explaining the meaning of her name, “Grace”.   She boldly proclaims, “Grace, it means God’s unmerited favor!”   At the time I thought that the term “unmerited” seemed too complicated for the young audience it was intended to reach.  But I think that was because I was  still trying to grasp that word myself…”unmerited”: unearned, not deserved, bestowed without reason.  God’s ability to love and forgive me no matter what my life looks like is hard to grasp. To this day I can hear that sweet little voice shouting , “GRACE, God’s unmerited favor!”  and as it echoes in my memory I feel goose bumps knowing that I know exactly what GRACE is in my life.  I have known God’s unmerited favor .  Everyday I am thankful for this great gift of grace and forgiveness.  I pray this Easter season, if you do not know how much God loves you, that you will come to know grace, UNMERITED!

Here is a story I share every Easter…I hope you enjoy the story of sweet Abigail!

 

I’ve lost track of how many years ago it was, yet each Spring I can’t help but recall my introduction to Abigail.  I was a high school science/Bible teacher for a small Christian school at the time. One of my students was a football sized young man named Nick.  He worked for a local farmer who had offered him a young lamb to take home.  Nick’s mom, apparently destined for sainthood, not only allowed him to bring the lamb home, but he got to keep it in his room!  Early that Spring Nick brought photos to share.  To my amazement, there, wedged beside his bed and amid typical teenage squalor, was a carefully built pen, complete with wood rails, chicken wire and hay.  Abigail the lamb had found a perfect home.  Over the next few weeks Nick would have numerous stories to tell of Abigail’s antics.  I couldn’t wait to see her for myself, so I invited Nick to bring her to school one morning.

I ushered my entire class outside and we waited like giddy preschoolers for Abigail’s arrival.  I am certain I will never be able to adequately describe what I saw that day.  I will do my best.  We watched as Nick emerged from his vehicle with Abigail cradled in his big burly arms.  We stood transfixed by the sight of what can only be inadequately referred to as precious”.  Her pure, white coat seemed almost translucent, radiating light under the bright blue, cloudless sky.   Her tiny nose was a perfect, pink velvet triangle perched just above her little pink mouth.    As I placed my hand on her sweet little head she looked at me.  I found myself staring into the depths of clear, brilliant blue eyes.  I realized I had been holding my breath in awe.  We were expecting to see a cute lamb, somewhat off white in color.  I had not considered that, unlike the lambs at the local petting zoo, Abigail had been living in a clean, loving, environment.  After everyone had made Abigail’s acquaintance, Nick left to return her home and we settled back into Bible class.

We soon realized the relevance of Abigail’s visit as we continued our study of Passover.  The original Passover took place when Moses was leading the Israelites out of Egypt.  God instructed them to mark their door post with the blood of a male lamb.  This was to protect them from the final plague which was the death of all first born in any home not so protected. (Exodus 11&12)  The yearly commemoration of this event required the father to select the best, blemish free lamb and set it apart for the Passover…four days prior to the celebration.  My students and I began to consider something quite startling.  There was a good chance that the lamb would have been brought into the house or yard during that time.  This perfect little lamb, probably as precious and sweet as our Abigail, may have clamored under their feet while they did chores, fed out of their hands and shared a living area.  After four days, this lamb, which by now had become even more precious to the family, was to be sacrificed.   Suddenly one can imagine the cries of the children, the quite sob of their mother, the sorrow in the eyes of the father who knows a blood sacrifice is required.   For the first time, since meeting Abigail, we could truly envision the “sacrificial lamb” of the Scriptures.

The continued observance of Passover was a powerful object lesson for generations of Israelites.  Every family member would be reminded not only of God’s protection and provision when He freed them from slavery, but also of the cost…the blood of their most precious lamb.  This Easter we consider the final sacrifice.  Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God, perfect and precious beyond description, was sacrificed for our sin.  Many movies and videos have stirred the heart of man as they depict the brutal crucifixion of our Christ, yet none can compare to the vision of Abigail.  As we celebrate our freedom from sin and death through the resurrection of our Lord, let’s never forget the cost.  Praise God His love and grace make us worthy of such a sacrifice!

1 Peter 1:18-19  “knowing that you were not redeemed with perishable things like silver or gold…but with precious blood, as a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ.”

 

 

Floating or Swimming March 8, 2016

Filed under: devotionals — tlmiller82 @ 6:10 pm

20160308_230009203_iOSBuddy is our very blessed Beta fish.   He was a sort of gag gift from our neighbors two Christmases ago. Since Scott had poor luck fishing that year, they decided he deserved at least one fish to take home. We had a good laugh and happily brought Buddy the Beta fish home. I am pretty sure everyone thought Buddy would be a fairly temporary addition to our family. I even envisioned the day Buddy would need a “burial at sea” and totally intended to invite the fore mentioned neighbors. But a funny thing happened on the way to the toilet bowl…I fell in love with my little finned friend.

 

Soon his perfectly adequate vase/bowl was replaced by a much fancier bowl, a unique and beautiful molten glass bowl formed onto a piece of drift wood. My husband still shakes his head at the thought of this $5 fish living in a “slightly” more than $5 bowl! Buddy sits in his home near my kitchen sink and we have a special bond.

 

It is a little shocking that he has survived his second Christmas. I do not know how old Buddy is, nor do I know how long Bets fish live. The fact that he is still alive is only surprising because I know how often his little life was in peril.

 

In the short time we have been together, Buddy has experienced episodes of overfeeding, forgotten feedings and neglected bowl cleanings. Perhaps the most concerning are the times Buddy has had out of water adventures. In my defense, Buddy is less than cooperative when it is time to move him to a holding bowl so I can clean his home. This has resulted in a few flops into the sink. Normally I can scoop him up and quickly redeposit him into the dish…usually. There was this one time when I forgot to put the sink strainer in…it ended okay, but I am sure being wedged between the rubber flaps which cover the entrance to the garbage disposal took a toll on him. That is why I find myself periodically checking on his movement.

 

 

Beta fish actually sleep or rest throughout the day. There are many times I find Buddy listing lifelessly at the bottom of his bowl. The other night Scott mentioned he saw Buddy at the top of his bowl. “Is he floating or swimming?” I asked. I think this a good life question in general, and not just for fish. I tapped on the glass and was relieved when he startled into activity. I doubt he appreciated the disruption, but a response to the “floating or swimming” question needed to be provoked.

 

Last year I had what I referred to as a “cage rattling” season, it was(and still is I suppose) a time when the complexity of life overwhelmed me. I was simply floating through life. I had stopped paying attention to so many things. Things such as my faith journey, my relationships, God’s call on my life, goals I had once sought and even my health. Then TAP TAP…sure enough, just as Buddy fluttered into a fin frenzy, I too found myself thrown face down in prayer, heart racing in response to some emotional chaos and suddenly once again VERY aware of my God, His grace and mercy. God had my FULL attention.

 

This morning, as I once again tapped on Buddy’s bowl to determine his “floating vs swimming” status, I was mindful of my own status. Am I busy doing what God has called me to do? Have I stepped forward in my journey? Am I floating through a time in life that cries out for intentionality? Am I praising Him all things?

 

Let’s not get caught floating. It is time to put on the water wings of faith and hope and SWIM!

For Thou art my hope; O Lord God, Thou art my confidence from my youth. But as for me, I will hope continually, and will praise Thee yet more and more. Psalm 71:5