Sandy's Sunroom

A Gracious Home Life

 "She will set a garland of grace on your head and present you with a crown of splendor." Proverbs 4:9

Grace defined - favor or kindness shown without regard to the worth or merit of the one who receives it and in spite of what that person deserves. To have a gracious home we surely will have to come to a greater understanding of grace itself:) so may we focus on some key areas to concern ourselves with.

These are what this dictionary writer says "grace is almost always associated with"... mercy, love, compassion, and patience.

 We all have dreams of how we'd like our home life to be and our prayers are usually even grander than our dreams - as it should be. Most of us could write down long lists of everything we'd love our homes and families to be but it seems to be hard when crossing the bridge between fields of hope and streams of "how to"!

We must make sure that our thoughts of ideal homes line up with God's plan for them first. To do this... let us go to His Word. This Word is so precious and so alive that every desire and dream in our hearts will only flourish to the extent of what we take in from the truths provided there.

I want to touch up on some areas we need to cultivate and grow in our homes according to our Lord's superior standards... excellent and admirable are His standards.

Since grace is "almost always associated" with mercy, love, compassion, and patience let us explore the Bible on the truths…

MERCY – oh, isn’t this something we beg our Father for? We don’t have to be Him for He is a God of truest and most noble mercy. He has proven this since the beginning of time. Mercy… what does it mean? Nelson’s Illustrated Bible Dictionary describes it this way: "the aspect of God’s love that causes Him to help the miserable, just as grace is the aspect of His love that moves Him to forgive the guilty."

"But God, Who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us," Ephesians 2:4

God is rich in mercy because of HIS great love… the great love He loves us with.

This would mean, then, that we are rich in mercy out of great love. Mercy comes because of love.

We must have mercy in our homes. We must be merciful women… showing mercy out of our love to our husbands, our children, to our guests and even to ourselves.

"Blessed are the merciful, For they shall obtain mercy." Matthew 5:7

We don’t have hearts full of mercy out of our own "goodness". We cannot display mercy to those around us unless it is deep inside of who we are. How does this happen? Do we will it so? No, we couldn’t however hard we might try.  This is how it happens… we pray for it!

"Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need." Hebrews 4:16 Notice again here, how mercy and grace go together!

Read some of these verses dealing on the "richness" of mercy: Matthew 9:27, 15:22, 17:15, 18:33, 20:30; Romans 9:15, 16, 18; 11:32. Phil. 2:27, Jude 22, 23. I Corinthians 7:25; II Corinthians 4:1.

"Grace is what God gives us when we don’t deserve and mercy is when God doesn’t give us what we do deserve." Author Unknown

 LOVE – How many volumes have been written about this one word? How exhaustive of a study could we do on this one 4-letter topic? Lifetimes and more lifetimes couldn’t get us half way there. This doesn’t mean we should dip into the well brimming full with such beauty from God!

We shouldn’t stop at "dipping into" this well… we would do well to dive in and swim in it!

Just defining love in all its splendor could and would take books from here to heaven. Because of this and for the sake of simplicity I will take the "key thought" from the condensed and concentrated definition of the word…

The "key thought" is that love has many types. We will just use two main forms of love; one being "agape" and the other being "phileo". To keep this as easy as possible for now… it is safe to say that "agape" love is a love of choice. It is choosing to love someone. "Phileo" is a love of affection and feeling. It is an impulsive love where "agape" is a more deliberate love.

In the Bible dictionaries AND the online dictionaries I have browsed through on this… one story in the Bible is said to be an example of these two loves. It is the exchange between Jesus and Peter in John 21:15-18. The first two verses are expressing "agape love" and Peter’s answers along with the Lord’s 3rd question are expressions of "phileo" love. I encourage you, sweet sister/reader… to draw from the rich example in this Biblical dialogue between Jesus and Peter.

The bottom line of love is that love IS God. GOD IS LOVE. We have no knowledge or chance at love without HIM… for He is love and love is Him. "And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing." I Corinthians 13:3 "Love never fails. But whether there are prophecies, they will fail; whether there are tongues, they will cease; whether there is knowledge, it will vanish away." I Cor. 13:8 Only love never fails.

We are to love like this! We make the choice to love or to not love every single day. Love is not some fluttery emotion that keeps us happy and flying in the skies all day long and lifts us up to dance on the starts all night. It might feel like this sometimes… but real love is a chosen love. It is a love that keeps on loving when loving is the hardest thing to do. It loves through bad moods, hurtful and trying times, pain and suffering and everything else that can go on in our lives.

"Phileo" love is sometimes like a reward for living out the "agape" love. In other words… it is often after making the CHOICE to truly love someone that the feelings of that love come into play. The deep feelings and affections come as a result of choosing to love through the times when you feel NO sweet or tender feelings towards someone.

This real love… it is choosing to love and care for the one who isn’t being nice to you. It is making breakfast with a cheerful spirit even though a husband didn’t take out the trash… saying the word’s "I love you" to a teenager who hates you for apparently no reason… holding up to discipline a younger child when it is harder on you than it is on them and doing so for their own good and not for releasing your own anger. It is hold up --- enduring it all with a smile, or a tear, or whatever it takes. It is loving when loving is the hardest thing you’ve ever done… and it is remembering that your Lord has done and does the same for you.

COMPASSION – "To suffer with another"… "to show kindness". To suffer with another person with the desire to do something about it. Doesn’t this word go hand in hand with mercy?

"But You, O Lord, are a God full of compassion, and gracious, Longsuffering and abundant in mercy and truth." Psalm 86:15

Does this one verse not say it all? Does it not wrap and blend together everything written above? Praise the Mighty Hand of God… the Heart of God… God’s beautiful Spirit over, in, through, and of our lives!

May we have compassion in our homes! Abundant, overflowing, ever going compassion! May we think of this dear word, compassion, when our husbands aren’t everything they should be or when they are fighting to survive this world so hard that they aren’t "who we married" at times in our marriage! Dear God, give us this compassion when our children don’t do as they should, when their studies are beneath their capabilities, when their actions aren’t in line with their characters! May we call out for COMPASSION when those around us are falling, faltering, failing in this thing we call life!

PATIENCE – "Long Suffering." See how all of the words keep coming together? How one can join in fellowship with another until an entire array of words all show us similar things?

"Forbearance under suffering and endurance in the face of hardship." Isn’t this a call to us all? Each woman of God is called to walk in patience. We are to be patient in affliction, patient when insulted, patient when we walk, when we talk, when we listen, when we lie down. A Christian is called to patience because Jesus was patient and still is.

"But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing." James 1:4

Father, help us… provide us with patience. I know you always hear to never pray for patience because of the road it takes to get there. We don’t have to fear that road, though! God gives us what we need for all good works!

Remember not your patience --- your patience doesn’t exist. We aren’t patient by nature! GOD is He Who is patient and HE is where our patience will come from.

We must show patience when things don’t go our way, when people don’t love back, when we do all we can without it ever seeming to be enough, when those around us aren’t being patient with our faults! We must see that patience doesn’t pour from our inner selves… it isn’t something we control. Patience pours from the Father and through us… never any other way. The only control we can claim is the control to open our souls and look to the heavens, proclaiming, "It’s OPEN, LORD! I’m not patient but I am willing to let YOUR PATIENCE run through me like a mighty river!" Patience will come to those who ask… our Bible tells us that wisdom comes this way and I choose to believe that the same can be true for patience!

"Grace is what God gives us when we don’t deserve and mercy is when God doesn’t give us what we do deserve." Author Unknown

 "Your worst days are never so bad that you are beyond the reach of God’s grace. And your best days are never so good that you are beyond the need of God’s grace." Jerry Bridges

May our Father in heaven bless every endeavor you undertake in effort to let Him live through you in everything you do or ever will do.

Love, Sandy

[All verses are shared from the NKJV Bible and all definitions given are from Nelson’s Illustrated Bible Dictionary, & Vine’s Expository Bible Dictionary]

Sandy Willoughby 2001

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