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Author Archives: Erin

Lavish Grace

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In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight. (Ephesians 1:7-8 ESV)

Grace. Amazing Grace. Unthinkable Grace. Lord help me if I ever get over it or get used to it.

In Jesus we are redeemed and forgiven, completely. My sin—my pride, my lust, my cynicism, my disobedience—doesn’t factor into the equation anymore. His precious blood cancels the debt I have wracked up, the debt I can never repay. I’m redeemed, made his own, brought in as a cherished member of the family.

It is crazy.

Seriously, who would have ever seen it coming? Who ever would’ve guessed? Grace is a glorious surprise, more than we would dare to hope for or even think to expect. It doesn’t make sense that God would be gracious, but he delights to be so. It’s Amazing.

I love the extravagance in these verses. He lavishes the riches of his grace upon us. If I can be so bold, it almost sounds wasteful to me. His grace is not on a budget. He gives from vast stores that will not run out. There is enough for me, even me. There is no place I can go that grace cannot go further still. No wonder the Bible calls it good news.

This week, I pray each of us know the riches of his grace lavished on us—lavished on you. He will not hold back on you, and you cannot outrun his grace. It’s stunning, and it’s true.

I Belong

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…even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. (Ephesians 1:4-6, ESV)

The last few weeks, I’ve been listening to “I Belong” by Kathryn Scott over and over again. It’s reminded me of something that seems too good to be true: I am loved and accepted by God. I am not on my own; I belong to him.

You know, God doesn’t accept us because he has to. He’s been planning on it, looking forward to it, for all eternity. These verses in Ephesians tell us that even before the world was established, the Father decided to send Jesus so that we could be adopted as his daughters. And he did it in love.

I think sometimes we forget we’ve been adopted. Even some of us who have known Jesus for years — we still live as orphans. We try to fend for ourselves or fight for ourselves. Perhaps we’re convinced that if God really knew us, if he really saw our hearts, he would reject us after all. Some us know he forgave us once, but we’re trying to earn his approval now. In short, we don’t really understand that he is our Father.

But hear his heart in Ephesians: He chose us. He adopted us. He gives us good gifts. He wants to make us whole, holy, and blameless. That’s what he’s always had on his mind. He loves us.

Last year I was part of an all-church journey focused on this very thing. There was a video we used that I’ve come back to again and again during the last year. It reminds me I have a good Father, and my home is with him forever. If you have a few moments, watch it here.

This week, let God remind you of the amazing truth: you belong to him. He’s brought you into his family — not because he had to, but because he wanted to. Because he loves you.

He Speaks a Good Word

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Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places …. (Ephesians 1:3, ESV)

I grew up in church. If I had a nickel for every time I’ve heard the word “blessing” … I’d have a lot of nickels. We toss this word around a lot—we ask God to bless people, we call our material possessions blessings, and when someone asks us how we are, what’s the best, Christian answer? “I’m blessed,” of course. If I’m honest, it’s one of those words I roll my eyes at: one of those words that sounds cliche, sanitized, shallow, and churchy to me.

But there’s nothing shallow about the first chapter of Ephesians, and we miss something vital if we read over the words “blessed” and “blessing” as cliches. It’s actually a wonderful word, both simpler and more profound than I would’ve guessed.

I’m not a Greek scholar, but I did learn that when Ephesians 1:3 says God “blessed” us, the word in Greek is eulogeo. It’s a compound word that basically means to speak well of, or to speak good to.

Think about that: our God speaks good to us, and he gives us good things—in fact, every good thing. As we like to say around here, Pro Nobis, God is for us. It seems simple perhaps, but how many people serve a god who demands, who curses, who speaks only condemnation? And we who know the good God, how often do we act as if he really is?

As simple as it is, knowing that God speaks for our good can completely change the way we view him. He is for us. He does not sit on a throne and pronounce condemnation; he chases us with goodness and mercy. He speaks a good word. He blesses us. I don’t know about you, but that makes me want to stop rolling my eyes and shout Hallelujah.

Truth, Grace, and Peace

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For the next few months, our devotionals will focus on the book of Ephesians. Though we will move through the book linearly, the writings will primarily be devotional reflections and not necessarily a verse-by-verse or in-depth study. We encourage you to take time to dive into the book for yourself and see its richness. Then, share what you’re learning with us!  

Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, To the saints who are in Ephesus, and are faithful in Christ Jesus: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Ephesians 1:1-2

What a beginning! In my opinion, Paul wins in the “outstanding greeting in a letter” category. These few words convey so much truth about God and about the believers he’s writing to (and us). Nearly every word or phrase could be a study in itself. But today I haven’t been able to get away from one thought: I want my interactions with people to begin the way Paul began this letter — with truth, grace, and peace.

Before he communicates anything else, Paul speaks to the Ephesians’ identity. He calls them saints, holy ones, the faithful in Christ Jesus. He reminds them of the truth of who they are. What if we all consistently encouraged one another like that? What if our first thought in conversation was to remind each other of who we are? I know how life-giving it is when people in my life speak truth like that to me.

Then he greets them with grace and peace. The Message says it this way: “I greet you with the grace and peace poured into our lives by God our Father and our Master, Jesus Christ.” It breaks my heart to realize how often I greet people with weariness, with disinterest, with busy-ness, with impatience. How different, how wonderful, if I simply overflowed the grace and the peace poured into my life.

I want my words and my everyday interactions to be invitations for others to rest in the God of all grace and peace. I want to speak truth and life, and talk to my brothers and sisters as they are: saints. That seems like a pretty great place to start.

Love on Its Knees

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“Love is the motivating force in all true intercession.  Intercession is not simply a dispassionate communique’ in order to ask God to do something for others.  It is a self-giving ministry of love and care for the benefit of others that releases God’s grace into their lives.  Intercession is prayer born of love…If we truly love people we will want for them more than we are capable of giving them.  For the intercessor this loving desire leads to prayer in their behalf.  Prayer is a way to bring God into the lives of others so that He will do for them what they cannot do for themselves…In other words, one way to love another person is to pray for them—intercession is love on its knees.”

-Alvin VanderGriend, Praying God’s Heart

Back to Back

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 Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up! Again, if two lie together, they keep warm, but how can one keep warm alone? And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him—a threefold cord is not quickly broken. (Ecclesiastes 4:9-12)

My first real experience with Titus Women was the 2011 Discipleship Summit. I had known Beth Coppedge and Stephanie Hogan for a few years, so I had a vague idea about what the ministry did. At that Summit though, I got my first real glimpse into the heart of Titus Women—and one defining phrase I heard that weekend still stands out in my mind: back to back.

See, part of what it means to be a Titus Woman (or, really, a Christian) is to never go alone. Never. It’s not a safe world Jesus sends us out into, and He knows one by herself is more easily overpowered. So He asks us to have each other’s backs: in prayer, in encouragement, in just simply caring, and sometimes in literally going out together. We all know what a comfort it is to just know someone else is there.

I think it’s the sweetest thing that God doesn’t ask us to stand alone. He actually designed us so that we come in webs of relationships, and so that what happens in one person affects everyone around her. It’s not just that you can make a difference in someone’s life—you are, whether you like it or not. So when we each surrender to Jesus, when we pray for each other, when we stand together, it quite literally changes things.

In this way, we all have a sacred responsibility to one another, to stand back to back. I know many of you have this kind of community in your lives, and I hope you’re really entering into it. I also know some of you only wish you did, and you feel very much like you’re going alone. It’s a painful and exhausting place to be. But here’s the thing: you have at least one person standing back to back with you. You’ve probably never met me, but I’m praying today for you. I’m asking Jesus to give you strength, and I’m asking Him to bring others into your life to hold your arms up. If you want, you can drop me a line (erin.hill@francisasburysociety.com) and let me know how to pray more specifically. I mean it.

One Body, Many Parts

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For the body does not consist of one member but of many…. If the whole body were an eye, where would be the sense of hearing? If the whole body were an ear, where would be the sense of smell? But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. If all were a single member, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, yet one body. (1 Corinthians 12:14-20, ESV)

I’m writing this from my hotel room in Wilmot, Ohio. 65 women have gathered here for this year’s Discipleship Summit: women from different parts of the country, different families, different stages of life. I happen to be a single, 26-year-old, creative-type woman, and I have lots of friends with similar lifestyles and interests to mine. Not many of them are here this weekend, though, and I kind of love that.

It’s amazing and beautiful to see such a diverse group worshipping and praying together, or to hear them laughing even now outside my door. The relationships I’ve formed with many of them are the most precious part of being involved with Titus Women. My life is different and much fuller because of them. And tonight I was struck by what I would miss out on if I only ever surrounded myself with people similar to me. It’s easy to do, because it’s more comfortable. But that sort of monochromatic community lacks the depth and richness the Body of Christ should have.

Jesus called His disciples from different places and walks of life. Fishermen, tax collectors, zealots. One has only to look at Peter and John to realize these men were not all the same. I bet they confused one another—I bet they frustrated one another. But, we know they loved each other, and together they (quite literally) changed the world. I think Jesus knew they needed each other to accomplish what He had planned.

Our eyes should be opened in community to a world so much bigger than what any one of us can see on our own. We need people around us who think and see differently. We need people in our lives with different tastes and preferences. We need people with different skills and passions. Otherwise, our world is just too small. And not only that, the advance of the Kingdom is slowed.

So heres the deal: if you’re a foot in this Body of Christ, be a foot. If you’re a nose, be the best nose ever. But don’t just hang out with all the other noses. How are you ever going to get anywhere that way?