Scandalous Kindness

Kindness doesn’t seem sensational. It’s lumped into the boring, normal, ought to category. But the more I research, the more scandalous kindness is. We’re numb to the miracle that kindness is. It’s a triumph over selfishness. And that undeserved kindness also goes by the name… grace.

But we won’t truly grasp the magnitude of kindness if we don’t own our need for it.

Yes we are forgiven and free in Christ, but why is that? Because we needed scandalous kindness. Your sin and mine bought us a one way ticket to eternity separated from our creator. But our God saw us through the lens of grace, reached out in sacrifice for His beloved creation, and took the blow meant for us.

But our God saw us through the lens of grace, reached out in sacrifice for His beloved creation, and took the blow meant for us.

Who would you do that for? Maybe your children, husband, best friend?

Once my 3 year old was riding his red “Cars” big-wheel in the street when an SUV roared down the hill. There was no way he could cross in time alone. So I ran to the middle of the street, pulled him from the big-wheel and ran out of the way. I didn’t think about my own life, my love for my kid innately spurred me into action despite danger to my own life.

I believe God’s kindness for us is even deeper and more innate and ours mirrors His. After all, we are made in His image (Gen 1:27), so any seed of love comes from Him.

We are made in His image (Gen 1:27), so any seed of love comes from Him.

Pause for a second and think of how you’ve been kind this week. Did the person deserve your kindness? Or was it grace– scandalous and undeserved?

Our God is a kind God. I’ve stumbled on this idea in the past. Why would God want a sinful person like me? Answer- because I’m His kid. And so are you. He didn’t make us for sport. He fearfully and wonderfully made us and adopted us into His family. Never to be lost again. Because of His scandalous kindness.

 “For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another. But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, He saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to His own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit” (Titus 3:3-5 ESV)

 

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Andrea Chatelain’s mission is to meet women in their struggles and love them forward with God’s truth. She’s a Midwest mom of three, faith and family writer, and college English instructor to immigrants and refugees. She believes Jesus transforms lives when His people boldly seek Him. Her writing reflects her love for Jesus and heart for fellow believers.

Find Andrea also at WhollyLoved Ministries and her devotionals on Crosswalk

 

Tell your kids… EVEN IF

There was a commotion outside. It seemed like my son had made a big mistake and things were heated. He was all alone in a hard moment and my mama bear instinct was to bring him in, cover him in a hug, and get the truth. There I learned the power of saying EVEN IF.

Turns out after talking it out with his friend, my son was innocent and it was an accident. But my heart still ached for my kid. When others were calling him guilty, it broke his spirit.

It made me think of all the times we’re called out and shamed instead of covered in grace. And how quickly we lose our joy when that happens. All the times I should’ve covered others instead of speaking fast out of anger.

My mind fast-forwarded to him at 25 when he really does mess up big time. What if he loses a job? What if he cheats on a test? What if he thinks he’s beyond the grace and love of Jesus because others make him feel that way? But that’s people, not God. God doesn’t shame us. He absorbs our shame.

God doesn’t shame us. He absorbs our shame.

So I hugged him and changed all those “what ifs” to “even ifs”.

Right there in the kitchen, I hugged his sad little self, and said…. “I need you to know that someday you really are going to mess up, and you need to know that your mom and dad and God will love you still. We will love you even if you crash the car. Even if you cheat an lose your job. Even if your family has problems. Even if… Even if…”

The heaviness was lifted and his joy returned. He was able to move on because he knew our love was secure.

During this month when I ponder the fruit of the Spirit, joy, that we have in Christ a certain verse has pounded on my soul.

10 He does not deal with us according to our sins,
    nor repay us according to our iniquities.
11 For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
    so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him;
12 as far as the east is from the west,
    so far does he remove our transgressions from us.
13 As a father shows compassion to his children,
    so the Lord shows compassion to those who fear him. (psalm 103:10-13)

God doesn’t repay us for our sins. He covers them in grace as we confess them.

God doesn’t repay us for our sins. He covers them in grace as we confess them.

The truth is the opposite of what we think. His love is steadfast and higher than we can fathom. His grace goes beyond our mistakes. So much so that He’s removed our sins and thrown them away. He is compassionate and forgives us EVEN IF we mess up big-time. He loves us even if others don’t.

That’s why we are joyful. Because no matter what, we have a Dad who’s got our back. Who will never leave and will always love and cover us in His grace as we come and tell Him the truth. So tell your kids EVEN IF, but also tell yourself. God loves me…even if…

 

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Andrea Chatelain’s mission is to meet women in their struggles and love them forward with God’s truth. She’s a Midwest mom of three, faith and family writer, and college English instructor to immigrants and refugees. She believes Jesus transforms lives when His people boldly seek Him.Her writing reflects her love for Jesus and heart for fellow believers.

Find Andrea also at WhollyLoved Ministries and her devotionals on crosswalk.com

Is Your Joy Safe?

I have my joy back! It feels like cool water after a long drought. See, I thought I lost it awhile back. It felt stolen. But now my joy is safe, and I want you to lock yours up too.

One of the fruit we receive from God’s Holy Spirit is JOY (Galatians 5:22). I wanted joy, but it seemed foreign. I had gone through seasons of infertility, miscarriages, traumatic loss, and life changes on my own and I was so stinkin’ tired. (I see you. I know you’ve been there too.) I wasn’t a very loving mom or wife. And I was probably a fun sucker of a friend.

Truth is, My joy had been tucked into my hopes, dreams, plans, people, family, my life…all the temporary and fickle things of this world. The things that can be taken. So when some of them WERE taken, my joy left for good with them.

Is that ringing a bell with you? I wonder where you’ve placed the majority of your joy– a husband, a child, a job, a plan — and then poof, it’s gone. And you’re left empty and lost. That’s where I was.

Then Jesus came for me.

I felt urgency to lean on Him. To get to know Him through the Bible and talk to Him in prayer. I learned of His constant love, grace, and PRESENCE in the hard through His Holy Spirit. I started believing in my heart  the truth I’d known in my head for so long. That in Him I am not alone, I’m loved, completely forgiven, and empowered. I have what I need for any situation because I have God’s Spirit within me and His Spirit is complete.

I have what I need for any situation because I have God’s Spirit within me.

We read proof of the power of God’s joy when apostle Paul, chained up for his faith, wrote “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say rejoice.” Philippians 4:4 ESV

What we lose in our English translation, though, is that the word “rejoice” is directly tied to the Greek word for “grace”. Rejoice literally means to experience, delight, or be conscious of God’s grace. It’s mind-blowing and completely counter-cultural. It means, we can only truly rejoice if we are conscious and delighting in all the ways God is pouring out undeserved, unrelenting grace.

Joy is all about knowing God’s grace!

That’s why Paul could sing praises in a jail cell. Because no amount of bars could keep God’s grace and love away from him! Do you feel that?? Do you believe the same is true for you and I? No amount of problems, failures, addictions, bad days, — nothing– can keep God’s grace from you. I woke up today and praised God for loving me and forgiving me — for being my dad who will never leave no matter how much I stink at life. God will never leave us, so neither will our joy! That’s why we can rejoice everyday, even in the hard. Because no matter the crap storm we’re in, WE’VE GOT an IMMOVABLE GOD.

God will never leave us, so neither will our joy!

Where we hide our joy determines how easily it can be taken. People and situations threaten to steal our heart’s joy, but God keeps it forever safe. Take some quiet moments today to reflect on God’s grace towards you. That’s where your joy has been waiting for you.

 

**Join the afruitfulwoman.com community this year and receive free devotionals and messages from Andrea when you sign up for her Email Friends list.  And Find your voice in the conversation on FaceBook.

AndreaWeb47

Andrea Chatelain’s mission is to meet women in their struggles and love them forward with God’s truth. She’s a Midwest mom of three, faith and family writer, and college English instructor to immigrants and refugees. She believes Jesus transforms lives when His people boldly seek Him.Her writing reflects her love for Jesus and heart for fellow believers.

Find Andrea also at WhollyLoved Ministries and her devotionals on crosswalk.com

Your outfit, bitterness or grace

What are you wearing today? Does it look good on you? In times of betrayal, I’m tempted to put on the ugliest outfit of all — bitterness– and then I read my favorite verse…

Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience,bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful,” (Colossians 3:12-15 ESV).

“…And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony,” (Colossians 3:14 ESV).

We are scandalously loved by Christ. And so when there is chaos around us, we as God’s people, are entrusted to extend that undeserved love to others. Because God first loved us when we were a hot mess.

Believe me, I know, it’s hard.

If you have been lied to or betrayed this is the last thing you want to do. It doesn’t mean that you say it’s all OK. It doesn’t mean that you don’t ask God for justice. But it DOES mean that you hand it over to God, completely. You hand over the outfit you were going to put on of judgment, anger, and bitterness, and you exchange it for a lighter more beautiful outfit of compassion, kindness, patience, and forgiveness.

 

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This wardrobe switch is as much for you as it is for the person who wronged you. Because these clothes feel better on your soul. They feel healing and warm and peaceful.

I don’t know what outfits are in your closet, or why they are there. I’m sure there are very valid reasons. But I pray that you and I can fold them up and give them to Jesus today as we come to him in prayer. And ask Him to help us choose to clothe ourselves in love, grace, and thankfulness so we can experience His peace.

 

Journal reflections:

book-bindings-3176776_1920What relationships are strained in your life because of sin or betrayal? Have you forgiven that person yet? What feelings would you have to give to Jesus to exchange for an outfit of grace and love towards that person? Knowing God loves you, write a prayer asking God to heal your heart and work out good in others lives.