Portraits of Grace – Veneda White

The Effects of Redeeming Grace

Romans 3:24-26 “Being justified freely by his grace through the
redemption that is in Christ Jesus: Whom God hath set forth to
be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness
for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God;
To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just,
and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus.”

My name is Veneda Williams White, MK from Mexico. I studied at Tennessee Temple University. Married my husband, Troy White, in December 1981, and arrived back in Mexico in 1983. We now have 36 years of service in Mexico.

I am sure that all of us would agree that redeeming grace has to be the first and far most important aspect of grace in general. Justification, reconciliation, and sanctification are effects of redeeming grace in our lives. However, we as God’s children refuse to sanctify ourselves causing others to reject that redeeming grace.

They say that the slave market of many years ago where some of the bought slaves were set free is a picture of redemption. Although a good comparison, spiritual redemption is so much more. To be released from our bondage of sin by the purchased price of the blood of Jesus Christ is to be purchased, forgiven, and justified (Rom. 3:24-27; I Peter 1:18-19).

Now justification and reconciliation are two of the first effects of redeeming grace. Justification is, according to Strong’s Concordance, “acquittal” (for Christ’s sake). Simply put, not guilty! (II Cor. 5:19). We become righteous in God’s sight. He no longer sees our sins. It is as if we had never sinned (II Cor. 5:21). This is where reconciliation comes in (Col. 1:20-22). God puts us in the right relationship with Him for Christ’s sake (Eph. 2:8-9).

Sanctification from the Greek “Hagiasmos” means “consecration, purification, and the effects of consecration”. The effect of sanctification is being holy, just, pure, righteous, and godly. Titus 2:12 tells us “Teaching us that denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world.” I John 2:15-17 confirm this. Why then is sanctification and consecration not practiced in our lives and in our churches any longer? God Himself says in     Lev. 20:7, “Sanctify yourselves therefore, and be ye holy…” In I Peter 1:15-16 “… Be ye holy, for I am Holy.”

Ladies, I cannot stress enough the need we have to maintain a Godly testimony. We MUST be Christ-like. How can we show the world the need for redemption when we look like them (dress, tattoos, body piercings, etc.), do and act like them (Rom. 1:29-31), go to the same places as they do (casinos, movie theaters, etc.), and many “churches” look like discos, with that type of music. We have changed to “fit in” or to “make them feel comfortable”. NO! I tell you, we MUST live Godly in this present world! We MUST tell sinners they are on their way to hell and their need for Redeeming Grace. Teach it as it truly is: God sent His Son to die for all sinners; He shed His precious, just and holy blood for all who would repent and believe on Him. He took our place and paid the only price available for our sins. THAT IS REDEEMING GRACE!

Portraits of Grace – Melissa Moore

My name is Melissa Moore. I am an Evangelist wife, Mom of two, a singer, want to be a songwriter, but most importantly a child of God. My family travels in Mission Evangelism to help churches with revival, mission conferences, or special meetings. Our heart, however, is to minister to Missionaries. We like to refer to our ministry as a “Missionary to the Missionary”. My heart’s desire is to serve the Lord in any capacity I can so that He can get glory and honor from my life.

John 1:16 “And of his fulness have all we
received, and grace for grace.” 

Getting ready for bed, I looked at my phone. There were the post, “ I lost 20 lbs” ; “ Please pray for my family.” ; You know , the stuff social media is made of. As I continued to scroll, I saw a quote. At first, I just passed it but the words caught my attention and I scrolled back up to take it in again.

“Grace changes everything.”

It made my mind go back through the years of my life and recount all the times I have seen the sufficiency of God’s grace. His love manifested through His grace. I first received this grace as salvation. Where were you? I was but a six-year-old girl. I lived in a pastor’s home, didn’t know anything but church, prayer, hymns, God’s love, but even then I had to experience that the love of God came down to me through the marvelous grace of Jesus Christ. I didn’t know what all that grace did for me, or would do for me, but on that day in my home by the family coffee table, I received the first experience of grace. Salvation Amazingly, God’s grace didn’t stop there.

My life has seen grace through the trials, grace through the travels, grace in suffering. We often ask ourselves what was it about us that the Lord looked on us in such love and covered us with His grace? Just one reason: Jesus. We receive grace because His Son paid our debt. We can all look back through the circumstances of our life and there are defining moments when the grace of our Saviour changed us. There we were, lost, without hope. Only one thing could pull us out of our wretchedness. Grace.

I fail the Lord constantly. It may be with a thought, a word, a deed. One day while pining over the things I just could not seem to accomplish for the Lord, struggling and not seemingly being able to attain what I thought was a more spiritual level, I started reading in my Bible. Galatians 2. As I looked up from verse 20 quoting it from memory, The Lord drew me back. “Just read.” I returned to the page and couldn’t believe my eyes. “I do not frustrate the grace of God.” I was taken aback. I had never seen that there before. “HOW? How do I not frustrate His grace? I frustrate myself! I am frustrated at my sin. God pulled me back that day. I found out that He gives grace for grace. Grace stacked upon grace.

I am drawn back to the story of the Prophet Hosea. Years of unfaithfulness, his wife now stood on the auction block to be sold to the highest bidder. The onlookers awaited for what they thought would be the end of her life as her husband paid the price once again for her freedom. As Hosea reached for his bride, she may have tensed waiting for the blow that would come. Her mind replayed all those times she had wronged him. He had shown her love, yet she only repaid him with rebellion, selfishness, unfaithfulness. Yet that day as he pulled her into his arms, he whispered sweetness and love into her ears. Those loving arms reminded her he remained the same. What the crowd saw that day was more than just love. They saw a portrait of grace. Gomer was aware of one thing that day, “Grace changes everything.”

Portraits of Grace – Alycia Cruse

“Amazed By Grace”

I am Alycia Cruse: a third generation missionary married to a third-generation preacher, raising 3 beautiful children in the heart of our nation, Washington DC, as we minister to those who affect us most – our leaders on Capitol Hill. When I’m not doing laundry to pack for our next deputation meeting, or wiping runny noses and kissing scraped knees, I enjoy writing on my devotional blog – www.becominghermoments.home.blog. I love my husband passionately and thank God every day that I get to serve Him alongside my best friend.

“Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them.”  Hebrews 7:25

Have you ever stopped and thought of your personal salvation testimony? 

I learned in college that your testimony is the most powerful thing you have. It is? Yes! Because it is the story of something supernatural,     miraculous! Your repentance and turning of mind to Christ and his work on the cross for you is the same message by which others may be saved. What a gift!

When I was 5, I made a profession of faith but never felt sorry for anything I had done, because what had I done? It wasn’t until I was 13 that the Holy Spirit’s work in my heart brought me to a place of conviction and repentance. I knew I had not been living a life that was anticipating growing in Christ, because I did not have those desires!

My faith deepened two years later when I surrendered to commit my life to serving God in full-time ministry. I no longer had a desire to pursue a career once I attended college back in the states. Eternal worth was what I saw demonstrated in my parents’ lives and it was exactly what I wanted to prioritize in my own life.

Now I am a missionary myself, living by faith, depending upon God to meet our needs and seeking to use each daily conversation as a way to share my testimony of God’s saving grace. When we work diligently for God, spreading the powerful Gospel of Jesus Christ, we can be sure of a counterattack by God’s enemy, Satan. He has brought doubts into my mind – Since you didn’t do many bad things, what did you repent of? …did you even repent? …are you even saved? …how can you witness to others if you are unsaved yourself? 

My friend, the devil is the accuser of the brethren. He causes us to doubt God’s facts. How sweet it is to revisit that special moment in my life, when God not only forgave my past but he changed my future. It also helps me to reaffirm my salvation – it was God’s work not mine! I used to be discouraged that my testimony wasn’t as amazing as others, being saved from a lifestyle of sin, and the change of salvation being so visible in their life. But the same saving grace it took to reach down and rescue those from a dark past, is the same saving grace it took to save me from a dark future! My future without Christ would have been so dark – seeking my own path, blindly walking, groping with no light to find happiness.

Jesus Christ my joy. He saved me. He changed my future. I will get to walk every day in the beauty of our nation’s Capitol, speaking and praying with those whose jobs determine so many things in our lives. I am amazed at His grace of saving me from my sins. But oh, how I am even more amazed at His grace for my future!

Your future is bright in Christ. Keep seeking Him, keep thanking Him for His grace in your past, and be amazed at His grace for your future!

Portraits of Grace – Mary Chacon

My name is Mary Chacón. My husband is Evangelist Carlos Chacon. We have been serving the Lord For almost 18 years. God has allowed me to be the mother of two beautiful daughters, Carla and Celeste.

When we started our ministry we had only one thing, “Faith.” We did not have vehicles. We did not have a tent or equipment. We did not have a house nor children. We had only that simple faith, that two young people starting their life together believed that the grace of God could do something with their lives and we only prayed for our requests.

A few months passed and I found out that I was pregnant with two babies (twins). That joy of motherhood was in our lives, but in a few months I suddenly lost my pregnancy (Miscarriage). A sadness flooded my heart. We were traveling and were far from our family and in case it was not enough my husband arrived late to a missionary appointment in a church that evening that he had to keep. We were living off of love offerings only at that time. When he got home, I asked him how it went. Did you present the ministry? He said no because he was late. Oh, but did you explain why? Yes. I had another question, but did the church pray for me at least? He answered, “No.”

A feeling of sadness flooded my heart thinking, “Lord, we are alone!” The Lord with his sweet voice said to me, “Yes, daughter, I am trying to teach you a lesson. You and your husband are alone, both in my hand.”

Isaiah 41:9-10 Thou whom I have taken from the end of the earth. And called thee from the chief men thereof, and said unto thee,thou art my servant;I have chosen thee and not cast thee away. Fear thou not;for I am with thee:be not dismayed; for I am thy God:I will strengthen thee: yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.

[Bettina’s note: Mary has been a long time writer of Spanish devotionals on Facebook. You can find and follow her page at “Hadasa Devocionales by Mary Chacón.”]

Portraits of Grace – Keren Burdick

God’s Sustaining and Overwhelming Grace

Just a little about myself before beginning the lesson. My name is Keren Burdick. I am a missionary serving under BIMI in Santa Lucia, Honduras. I just celebrated 6 years of being on the field. To say that God has not been with me the whole time would be an understatement.

I currently work with Iglesia Bautista Independiente Maranata en Santa Lucia (Maranatha Independent Baptist Church of Santa Lucia). I help with the ladies’ ministries, the Bible clubs, children’s ministries, visitation, discipleship, oversee teacher training, choir, and teach Bible in the public schools. Beyond these ministries, I help wherever I am needed.  If you would like to follow my ministry, you can find me on facebook by looking up Keren Burdick.

I accepted the Lord as my personal Savior when I was 6 years old. Six years later, I knew the Lord had something special for my life and couldn’t wait to see what it was. I felt He was calling me to the mission field. Now, before you start judging, 😉 I knew that I couldn’t go to a foreign field at that time, but was willing to do whatever He wanted. I began to prepare for the special job God had for me in His special timing. I finished high school and college with a Church music degree, thinking God was going to allow me to go the mission field right away, but He had other plans. The door to Honduras   didn’t open until 8 years later, but that is a whole other story!!!

How have I seen God’s grace in my life? For many years, my life verse has been Psalm 62:8 which says, “Trust in him at all times; ye people, pour out your heart before him: God is a refuge for us. Selah.” What does this verse say? Does it say to trust Him just in the good times? NO! It says trust Him at ALL times. Looking back on my life, I have had many ups and downs, many valleys, and many mountain tops. Who has been there for me thru each step of the way? God has! He has filled me with an unmeasurable amount of grace. If it weren’t for God’s grace, I don’t know exactly where I would be right now.

No, life is not a bed of roses. God never promised that everything would be easy for us. He did tell us, “In everything give thanks!” That shows us that He wants us to praise Him even in the storms. What does Hebrews 13:5 promise us? “I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.” How does He comfort us? By giving us the grace to continue on.

Dear one, if you are at the end of your rope and just don’t know how you can continue on or take one more step, rest in the assurance that God never leaves us. He promises to be our refuge and our help in time of trouble. Claim Psalm 37:4-5 which says, “Delight thyself also in the Lord: and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart.Commit thy way unto the Lord; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass.”

Portraits of Grace – Sarah Jane Conaway

“A Testimonial on God’s Grace”

I am currently a missionary in Mexico. From 1978 till December 1993 Ron and I and our 3 sons, were missionaries to    Papua New Guinea. In January 1995 we began our Mexican ministry. I have written 2 books and plan to write more. To stay informed about my books, I have a Facebook page – Declare His Glory. I, also, have an author page on Amazon at https://www.amazon.com/author/sarahjane.

This is only one occasion of the Grace of God on my life. It began on January 4, 2005 when my husband, our son, Eric & I were preparing to make a trip to Texas from Mexico. We needed to tell someone that Eric was going with us. We stopped by a church member’s house. Eric and I went inside. Ron was sick and stayed in the van.

Jenny, a twelve year old, heard Bro. Ron calling me. I went to the door and saw my husband fall backward in the van. I ran out to him. Eric was immediately behind me. We had to pull him out of the van onto the sidewalk to do CPR. I began the procedure. I fully expected it to work. As time passed I could see changes in his skin color. I could hear others screaming and crying. I couldn’t join them. I had to give attention to my husband and draw from my nursing experience. He had  tachycardia and really needed to be shocked. A doctor arrived after I had done CPR on Ron for 20 minutes. The doctor checked Ron and looked at me and said, “Lo siento mucho, senora.” (I am so sorry, ma’am.)

What was I going to do? For 35 ½ years I had been with this man in marriage and ministry. I felt like collapsing, but I  couldn’t. There were church members and friends going crazy. I had to be strong for them. Someone standing behind me asked, “Are you leaving now?” I assumed they meant leaving our ministry in Mexico. I don’t remember answering them. I felt like screaming, “Don’t ask me that! I don’t know anything right now.”

Later, I told Eric what happened. He answered, “Mama, I am a preacher and missionary, too!” Thank you, son! That was one decision that I didn’t have to make!

God’s sustaining grace continues to help me through life without my husband. I still love him and miss him, but praise the Lord, God is always with me. I feel His presence with me constantly. I trust in the LORD with all my heart; and lean not unto my own understanding. In all my ways I acknowledge him, and He directs my paths.

To someone who has suffered loss, trust Jesus completely. He understands your heartache. He wants to be close to you and comfort you. Don’t try to understand everything. We can’t. Leave it in God’s hands. He understands! He cares!

by Sarah Jane Conaway
www.auntjane.ws
author

Portraits of Grace – Rebekah Bursell Chacon

“God’s Sustaining Grace”

    My name is Rebekah Bursell Chacon. I am a missionary kid from Alaska who now serves as a missionary, alongside my Peruvian husband, in Peru. You can visit our FB page The Chacon Family and see what we are about and doing. I am a  mama to two active little boys and am expecting a third bundle of joy in October. It is for that reason I am writing this devotional.

     Missionary life, like any life, has its exciting moments. One of our exciting moments was when we hit 100% support and bought tickets to Peru! The goal we had been sharing for 3 years had finally become a reality! Soon after we moved to the city where we were going to live and work. My husband began working on building our home. The dream was alive! 

     Often however, those wonderful dreams cause us to forget the difficult reality that we live in a sin-cursed world and things will not always be shiny and sparkly. Sometimes the dust and daily grind and overflowing sink and endless laundry cloud out those dreams. Sometimes being a stay-at-home-mom becomes frustrating because “all” you do is stay at home. Sometimes the dream loses its sparkle. But God’s grace is greater. 

     The most difficult time for me began with the most exciting possibility. I had been feeling lousy for a week or so: little energy, easily frustrated, upset tummy. I finally decided to take a pregnancy test. It was positive!! God has blessed us with another baby! Just like my other pregnancies, I feel tired. Unlike my other pregnancies, almost everything I eat gives me indigestion. 

     Trying to keep up with housework and two little energetic boys has become a very challenging task. The housework     became overwhelming. Keeping the boys from fussing was harder with less energy. The heat makes me tired. The rainy days make me sleepy. The shiny sparkly dream is gone, and a tired, sleepless reality has taken its place. But in that tired reality God has been able to show me things about myself and, more importantly, about Himself.

     First I need to stop trying to do it all myself. Confidence is great when it is rooted in Christ. I need to admit my inability to do it all. I need to cast my cares on Him each moment. I need to depend on His strength, instead of making it through each hour while thinking, “It’s almost bedtime.”

     Second I need to refocus. Phil 4:8 needs to become a reality. I do not always think on things that are true, honest, pure, and lovely. God showed me that His Word needs to take over my mind. My untrue thoughts suck away any extra energy I have. 

     I often catch myself thinking about how unfair things are for ME. But a Godly woman does not focus on herself, she serves selflessly. Recently I’ve been reading to my boys about how Jesus washed His disciples’ feet. He their Creator, knelt and washed their feet. I, a simple fellow-human, can do no less. 

     The Lord has also brought to mind many times that this world is not my home. If things never change and the shiny dream fades away forever, it will actually be okay because He’s got something SO much better ahead for me. If I get so focused on making this my best life, I’m not living with eternity in mind. Col. 3:2 tells us to set our affection on things above, not on this earth. He wants my affections. He wants to be my passion. He wants to be the most important. 

     I thank Him for this difficult time. It’s not over, but His grace is sufficient, and His plan is perfect. He’s working on me and molding me and for that I am so grateful.

Portraits of Grace – Terri Shuerger

“Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.” Isaiah 41:10

     I am 53 years old, and I have been married for 35 years to the best husband God ever made! (sorry, girls!) I have 2 sons who are 31 and 33; 3 beautiful granddaughters, and another grand on the way! I am a First Generation Christian. I was raised in a nominally Catholic home, but got saved when I was 20 while we were stationed in Madrid, Spain. We were called into Full-Time Service in 1991, and for the last 20 years, have served as Church-Planters in Zacatecas, Mexico, and Tucson, Arizona.

     I would like to speak to you about the Grace of God that is present even when we are unaware. When I was 9, my    parents divorced. I was an only child. Ultimately, my dad was awarded custody of me due to abandonment/neglect issues concerning my mother. It was not long before I began to be sexually abused by my father. This continued off and on until I was 15, at which time I was considering suicide. It was during this time that I met my now-husband. A few months later, in hopelessness, I called my mom and asked her if she would come and get me. After I told her what had been going on, she accused me of lying. I was crushed, and seemingly abandoned again. She took me back to my dad’s house to get my things. She also sought counseling for me. I was eventually referred to a group called Daughters United; for girls who had been sexually abused. It is during this time that the Grace of God was actively at work in my life, yet I didn’t know it until almost 15 years later.

     Let me jump ahead and give you the retrospective; when my sons reached the ages when my abuse had begun, I     became overwhelmed with feelings of anger, resentment, and hatred towards my father, “How COULD you?! I was just a little girl!!” I became eaten up with these sinful emotions. Then, a sister in the Lord gave me a workbook for victims of abuse. I began to do the study, then one day the question came, Where was God during your abuse? I was floored. HE had let this happen to me! Why?! Where was He when a little girl who had been abandoned by everyone else in her life   needed Him?! I became angry at God! Then, slowly, but surely, the Light began to dawn; He WAS there! I had felt Him in my room when I asked to die; I believe His angels took me in their arms and carried me safely over the threshold of death (being unsaved, I would have gone straight to Hell, otherwise).

     Then, He brought me to Daughters United where I learned strategies to survive the abuse and neglect that I had suffered my whole life. But, more importantly, He had brought my 16 year-old boyfriend who drove me to the Daughters United meetings 2x/week, and waited in his car for me; he never asked me any questions. He was just there; quietly,   patiently waiting for me. When I looked back and saw that the arms God had used to sustain me in that awful time were the arms of my husband, I was brought to my knees with thankfulness at the mighty and wondrous grace of God! He had never left me! Even in my unsaved state, He had sent a pair of loving arms to hold me, to comfort me, to be there in the darkness! (Isaiah 41:10)