When You Forget Your Grace-Face

When You Forget Your Grace-Face

June 24, 2016

“Cornelius stared at him in fear. ‘What is it, Lord?’ he asked. The angel answered, ‘Your prayers and gifts to the poor have come up as a memorial offering before God.’” Acts 10:4 (NIV)

BRENDA BRADFORD OTTINGER

“Hey! Kids! No riding bikes on my sidewalk,” she hollered.

Interesting way of saying “welcome to the neighborhood,” don’t you think? Seems we missed the “Stay-Off-My-Sidewalk-and-Other-Random-Rules” meeting and were unaware all bikes must be diverted into the street so as to bypass “her sidewalk.”

This neighbor was a handful. And she was our handful for the next 7 years.

Ever meet someone who didn’t tempt your grace to come out and play?

Regarding said grace: I tried.

Regarding said attempts: It’s only right I inform you that I didn’t always succeed.

I’d love to say I had my grace-face on at all times, but, that would fall into the category of Things-That-Make-Your-Nose-Grow.

Like that one time the boys came running inside (from our very own backyard, mind you) and informed me she’d fussed at them for playing outside while she was outside. She sure did.

So. Well, then.

Like any good-ish mother would do, I set the example-bar high. “She needs to get a life already,” I said. The door might have still been open. And, while we’re on the subject of admission, I may have said it loudly enough to hear across the iron fence.

Yeah. Like that time.

Please tell me I’m not alone — that you’ve forgotten your grace-face once or twice, too?

I’m so glad the Spirit’s good at saving us from ourselves, as every bit of credit goes to Him for ensuring this unlovely response was the exception rather than the rule.

You see, the humbling truth He kept tethered to my heart was this: She needed God. And, so did I.

Everyone has a story, and I’d guess hers hadn’t been a fairy tale. Outwardly, she appeared strong, but her sorrow betrayed her. Broken and vulnerable on the inside, she bled pain — through her eyes, her harsh tones, her reclusive lifestyle — carelessly staining those around her. And herself. Especially herself.

When my efforts at friendliness failed, I did the only thing I knew to do: I prayed.

And, there in the bedrock of my weary heart, an accidental memorial was being built. These prayer offerings became my stones, like what the Israelites used to signify crossing over the dry Jordan River (see Joshua 3:17-4:8 for more on that). Those prayers were an offering by fire in the temple of my heart, an aroma pleasing to the Lord.

What a comfort it is to know God sees when we choose humility … when we swallow bitter words before speaking them … when we smile, even when we’d rather sneer. Better yet, He sees from the inside out and knows when our devotion isn’t from an onerous place of cliché religion, but from the quiet of a heart that longs to please the Lord.

He sees. He hears. He remembers.

It’s been many years since we sold that home, and, unfortunately, her wall never did come down. But my prayers for her didn’t evaporate, and I trust the Lord will ultimately redeem that time for Himself. The God of yesterday is still the God of today and tomorrow, and He is able.

Absorbing offenses that seep through frayed pores of the wounded doesn’t come naturally. And sometimes our humanity runs out in front of us, tripping us up.

Oh, but then there are those sweet spots of partnering with God as He exchanges our grief for His glory. He can help us put our grace-face back on again.

We see that in our key verse today. A devout and God-fearing man, Cornelius knew what it was to partner with God and understood the value of service and prayer.

It’s hardly a stretch to see caring for the needy as a sacred directive — a ministry where fruit is seen with human eyes in human time.

But I’m especially touched by the angel’s words to Cornelius about his prayer life: “Your prayers and gifts to the poor have come up as a memorial offering before God” (Acts 10:4b).

How beautiful this insight from across eternity, where prayers land on the ears of a listening God. Welcomed, received, memorialized.

When at first we start to pray, we make a difference in the Kingdom. A memorial arises from the temple within, sacred boundaries are erected, prayers spilled bare are received on holy ground, “a soothing aroma to the LORD” (Leviticus 2:2, NASB).

Father, I’m so grateful the deeds and prayers of a true heart aren’t disappearing into nothingness but are falling softly to rest at Your throne. Help me remember my grace-face as I represent You to a hurting world. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

TRUTH FOR TODAY:
Psalm 141:2, “May my prayer be counted as incense before You; The lifting up of my hands as the evening offering.” (NASB)

Psalm 51:17, “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; A broken and a contrite heart, O God, You will not despise.” (NASB)

RELATED RESOURCES:
Sometimes the hardest place to show grace is in our homes and with our spouses. Gain a new perspective on your relationship with the Proverbs 31 Ministries’ 30-Day Devotional: Fighting For Your Marriage. Click here to get your copy today for a gift of any amount.

REFLECT AND RESPOND:
How does knowing that God receives our prayers as an offering bring comfort to you today?

© 2016 by Brenda Bradford Ottinger. All rights reserved.

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Comments

  1. It’s good to know my prayers matter to God–that He doesn’t take a yeah yeah I’ve heard that before attitude toward me
    like so many of my critics.
    It’s good to know He loves me so much He listens.

  2. Kieu Nguyen says:

    This reminder brings me comfort today and esp. At this moment because I am reminded of God’s grace upon grace. That he doesn’t need or want our sacrificial offerings but our prayer and thank offerings. I am reminded at this moment that even though I feel like I failed at parenting or keeping my sanity with three little ones … That in Christ, I am an over comer and I am blessed that God has chosen me to be entrusted with these sweet babies of mine & that I don’t have to be perfect because He is perfect & is always with me. Thank you for reminding me that we all loose our “grace face” from time to time but I need to remember to intensionally love & show grace even when I’m too tired or don’t feel like it.

  3. Lucia Ladd says:

    God always receive our prayers as an offering bring comfort for me today by trust and confidence I put on my words carefully and lots of sacrifice and focus on how I ask him with grace and open paths every minute 24/7 I need to be calm when things go wrong, specially to protect neighbors and friends praying for eachother being on God’s glory every day is a blessing, Amen
    God bless

  4. I too can be challenged to show Grace. Some times it happens in line at the grocery store or at the gas station. I hope to pass the test eventually I feel like God is really helping me with this. I am asking if I can serve the poor better. Thank you for this lesson in grace.

  5. Ana Menezes says:

    I know God hears our every prayer and uses it for His glory. As a little girl and in my growing years I had a great devotion to Mama Mary and prayed for her intercession in my every little need. However after I committed my life to Christ, at retreat I attended an unknown man walked up to me and told me that God had told him to tell me that every prayer I prayed to Mama Mary she had used to bring me to her Son. Praise God for His marvellous ways!

  6. I appreciate what you have written very much, Brenda I also have a neighbor problem, since a misunderstanding that resulted in her family telling us never to approach her again and threatening to harm us if we did. Not only that; we were told we should move somewhere else. Like you, I have been praying and seeing no outward results. Your article today is a wonderful encouragement to keep on praying for this dear lady who claims to be a Christian but is not providing any opportunity for explanation and reconciliation.. I would like to smile at her but she has been studiously avoiding me . I do miss our friendly chats over the back fence.

  7. Susan G says:

    So good! I loved everything about this…especially your gifted writing. I’ve had to put my grace-face (and words) to work more in these past 6 years than ever before…and no, I haven’t always succeeded either…
    Thanks for a great reminder that we are not alone, and we are all working out our salvation together!
    And I’m so thankful God sees our hearts…
    Be blessed!

  8. Dorcus Katooko says:

    Knowing that God listens to my prayers is a great encouragement to me. I know that whenever i talk to him, he hears and considers my prayers. They don’t land on deaf ears. God cares for our needs and we are loved by him.

  9. I’m glad to be making a memorial every time I pray for someone who doesn’t see the Light. It is between God and the person being prayed for whether they will change for the better – God gave us all free will. All we can do is make sure we are going the right way; we can’t decide for someone else and our faith can only save us. May God cover my mistakes and short-comings, making amends where I cannot undo my wrongs. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

  10. Michelle says:

    thank you for this devotional 🙂 great reminder!

  11. This was marvelous! Keep writing and sharing!!!

  12. I am so grateful for the fresh perspective that this devotional gave me on the power of prayer. It is hard sometimes to feel as though prayer matters when we cannot see a direct result. Even though I know that my feelings are deceptive, it can be so difficult to leave my prayer time feeling like:
    1. I have not been encouraged in the Lord and/or
    2. I will not see immediate results from my prayer.
    I love the scriptural imagery you used on the way prayer works in the Kingdom as a sweet aroma and as a memorial foundation. It will make such a difference for me to visualize these things from now on. To picture these prayers—that I have felt are just evaporating into nothing—as doing so because they are becoming a spiritual fragrance offering to the Lord in another rhelm. I will picture His ability to transfer my words to tangible foundations that He can build upon in the spiritual, rather than listening to those thoughts that they are falling empty and fading in the natural.

  13. Love the “grace face”? That’s a face that shines with beauty from the inside out.

  14. Alex Peterson says:

    Such a beautiful truth so beautifully written. Thank you! This devotional has truly blessed me! ❤️

  15. Thank you Lord for your Love and Grace! May God continue blessing you Brenda todays devotional was extremely comforting.

  16. You are certainly not alone…unfortunately, what I feel is what people see (good & bad). So my prayer has become that God would change my inside so that on the outside, I reflect Him and His grace…on my face :-). Great post!

  17. Melanie says:

    Thank you for this reminder – Grace Face…check! You have a great writing style, thank you for sharing.

  18. Emily Bradley says:

    Brenda, I gasped with joy when I saw your name as the author today! Boy, do I remember some of these stories as you shared them with the ‘Mod Squad’, asking us to pray with you. To have those experiences lead to this devotion that gives an amazing way to think about our prayers and touch so many hearts is awesome! Thank you for your words. Grace face–definitely needed this today. ~Emily

  19. Shannon says:

    This is beautiful. I am going to use “grace face,” and teach it to my kids. Thank you.

  20. So excited to see my sweet COMPELtraining sister’s words on this beautiful devo!

  21. Beth O'Keefe says:

    This is exquisite. .. it is never about us, so we don’t need to the the fruit of our prayer-labor. As Cornelius sweetly reminds us, God remembers.

  22. Linda Johnson says:

    As An Elected Official I Know The Value Of A Grace Face And Can Feel The Power Of Prayers For Our State And country. today I need that Grace face and your reminder so I thank you for having this page and this message. we are at nation under God.

  23. Erin Browne says:

    Oh how I desperately needed to hear this today. Thankyou so much for baring your soul and being honest – being real. Thankyou for showing me grace in your message and Thankyou for pointing me back to the one who knows, who sees, who hears and who heals. Xoxo

  24. kathy wyg says:

    Good morning…I absolutely love your term Grace-Face….wow…

    Just reading your story/devo..it actually reminded me of 2 people I used to work
    W/in the fast food industry….& neither were pleasant to work with; & after much
    Prayer & deliberation…@ the time…they were part of the reason I eventually left
    My workplace; I anticipate God figured…what it would take both times for me to
    Jump ship each time…he knew how loyal I was…but…too…you need team work…
    & neither knew what that meant…so Thank you Brenda..I really love your term…

    Grace-face..& that’s not an easy one to display all the time…I agree……

    Once I really became a true Cathoilc/Christian…& no longer used bad language..
    I had to come up w/another term when. I was still working to vent my frustration
    When I dealt w/the public..who didn’t always use their heads..I used to use the term
    LOVELY…& once I started using it…my crew said..what are you talking about…I said
    Well I no longer use bad language…& something has to take it’s place so now it is
    Lovely…& thta stood for…****!!!!…@@@@. Worked great for my remaining yrs …
    & I would then pray on my way to work & on my way home…I kept & still have a set of rosary beads hung from my rear view mirror… My constant reminder..

    Have a blessed day……guys………..Kathy wyg

  25. Betty Randolph says:

    Today many in my state are struggling through lose of homes. For us no one lived in our little house we were planning to sell it. twenty two years we lived there raised kids and grandkids there. Nothing left, nothing. Requesting prayers for my West Virginia, she is a strong state and I know my Abba Father is in control. Thank you.

  26. Sue Elder says:

    This really is me lately! No excuse but I have had some stormach issues and can’t eat – it makes me grumpy. I have been snapping at people and even though I apologize it isn’t right. I have prayed about it and don’t know what else to do.

    • This sounds challenging, Sue. I’m grumpy without my coffee. I can only imagine your position.

      As I read this, an image of an old friend popped into my head. When asked, “How are you?” he responded with a smile, “Optimistic!” Maybe his technique will work for you.

      Lord God, fill Sue with so much grace that it overflows into her speech. Amen.

  27. Brenda, what exquisite words you weilded as your pen swept across the pages. And conviction hit. Hard. Thank you. It’s beautifully written and so full of truth many of us see ourselves painted into this picture.

  28. Our grace face is a phrase I can identify with. Yes, sometimes it slips and I can also identify with the reaction you described when your children were scolded for playing in their own yard. It is so easy to like those who like us, be friends with those who befriend us, but much harder with the people who are nasty to us. We have a difficult neighbor presently and frequently have to turn the other cheek. It’s not easy.

  29. Waiting on God says:

    Oh my. Simply beautiful and convicting. Thank you

  30. Thank God for His grace is sufficient for me. I too feel like I’m not lacking “grace Face” when driving a car AND definitely when I taught children. It seems I needed the Lord’s grace from the moment they appeared. Not because I didn’t love them but I think the children were used to show me of a much deeper need I had. This devotion was thought provoking. I like the reminder to pray during these times and that our prayers are a sweet fragrance to God.

  31. Standing Ovation, Brenda, on so many levels! Thank you!

  32. Brenda – you had to live down the street from me – I too had a neighbor like yours – who actually called the police on my 1st grader and his buddy who were riding bikes and she decided they were too loud…..imagine the scene when the police car pulled into my driveway – those boys were terrified! God was good though because he talked to the, about how wrong the lady was. This lady would curse at the kids – threw rakes at them and just was awful. I didn’t pray for her so missed my moment of grace – actually I did pray but it was for her house to crack and fall down – reading your devotional touched my heart – I’ll do better next time !

  33. This was a powerful message and one I needed today. Thank you. It’s beautiful to see fellow COMPEL sisters on P31. Way to go, Brenda! “It’s hardly a stretch to see caring for the needy as a sacred directive — a ministry where fruit is seen with human eyes in human time… When at first we start to pray, we make a difference in the Kingdom.” <3

  34. Such a beautiful tale! I can relate to wanting to stand up for your kids. It’s lovely that you began praying for her when it became hard to be kind. Thank you for sharing.

  35. What a GREAT post! 🙂 I want you to be my friend and would like to invite you to join Heart”wings” a fellowship of Christian women and new place to share your posts! I’ve been needing my grace-face the last few days, but I’m pretty sure it’s been more of an exasperated expression 🙂 Hugs and blessings!

  36. Oh Brenda Thank you so much for this encouraging and sweet-filled message! I too have “that neighbor”, whom from the 1st day of my moving in, made it very clear she was off limits, I was off limits and anything to do with me was not welcomed! I’ve tried smiling, introduced myself, even offering her my lawn mower and helping her when I saw she had trouble with hers. She has cursed, yelled and threw trash in my yard and blamed me for “things” the wind blew into hers! My 1st response was to pray for her heart…for the last 6 years…but when these things and more continue to this very day…I had started to do the ‘nasty’ and gossip about her wrongs about me and “I wasn’t putting up with her any longer but calling the police next time she screamed at my family in her drunkin rages while we are enjoying a picnic in my own yard!!” gasp!! Was that just me???? ~~shame on me~~ My grace-face was completely destroyed! Just what did I think I was accomplishing acting like her? Humbly getting my knees bent in prayer to Jesus…I apologized & asked forgiveness,…and also for patience of my heart for this woman to some day know Jesus. I now look for opportunities to smile, and if I’m close enough to her, praise her pretty flowers; which she scoffs and mutters under breath and stomps into her home. It’s okay with my heart. Jesus says so!! Your message today is sooooo wonderfully encouraging to know I’m not alone in this battlefield of neighbor squabblings. I Thank God for you!!! And as I read others posts in the same positions, I will be praying daily for us all! And that’s a PROMISE!! Especially now that we are reminded that our prayers for His Peacemaking are laying sweetly at His feet…..right where they belong. ?

  37. Anna,de bruin says:

    Thank u for this subject im facing a problem in my marriage. My husband is busy with a lady and it affected me and my kids alot i was so lost till i read this i can face my problem with my head high

  38. Sunshine says:

    What a reassurance it is for me to know the Living God! He is alive and still the same. To know the Creator cares enough for me to hear my prayers and while sometimes I don’t receive an answer right away, His peace and His presence are reassuring enough for me to know His Will will come in His perfect timing! Thank you Lord for being real and true!

  39. Love it! ( I am having trouble ordering your book – I am not a robot keeps asking me to verify over and over) ps. I’m not a robot 😉

  40. Jennifer O'Neil says:

    I have been constantly turning to Jonah 2 and Jonah’s prayer to the LORD out of the fish’s belly. Reminding myself : I serve a GOD that hears prayers from the belly of a fish and . . .v7 unto thee, into thine holy temple. What a picture. I praise the LORD that my children are healthy because in the last year my marriage is hanging by a thread, the washing machine, dishwasher, hot water tank and my car have all needed to be repaired or replaced and my husband directs condemnation @ me for ALL of it.
    I am persuaded that He is able to do exceedingly, abundantly above all I ask or think. The LORD’s timing is perfect and He sees what is going on.

  41. Barbara Rees says:

    THANK YOU Brenda!! I have been sooo struggling with my praying and why or what good is it and what happens to unanswered prayer. You have given me a way to see them, as memorials being built with my stones! This is HUGE for me! Thank you God for using Brenda to show me this! AWESOME!!!!!

  42. Carol Sue says:

    Beautifully written and really touched my heart. Thank you!

  43. Peggy Miller says:

    Dear Brenda,
    When You Forget Your Grace-Face is one of the most beautifully written devotions I’ve ever read. It flowed from your writing into my spirit, and felt like a beautiful melody in my heart. I think I’ve played all the characters in the devotion at one time or another. I especially love the thought of “prayers spilled bare” being “received on holy ground.” You have a beautiful way of getting your thoughts – and God’s truths – across. Thank you.

  44. hey it was so nice toread your honest story. How God chooses us in our weakness and turns it for His glory. mostly hardly ever noticed by anyone. God has been teaching me sismilar things. do read https://gracyscribblings.wordpress.com/

  45. Such a great reminder. Thank you.

  46. Thank you for writing this devotional! I so needed to hear these words. I struggle with operating in a spirit of grace with my husband’s ex-wife and my mother-in-law. The verse you listed, “Your prayers and gifts to the poor have come up as a memorial offering before God.’” Acts 10:4 (NIV), I think applies not only to prayers and gifts for those who are poor from a material standpoint, but a spiritual one as well. When we pray for those who are poor in the Spirit (those who are bitter, angry, wrong us, etc) it is an offering for God. We may not be able to see the results of those prayers in others all the time, but it can change OUR hearts. I often feel resentment for things my mother-in-law has done to my husband and our family. A few months ago my in-laws were coming by the house for a brief visit, and I was full of anxiety about what ugly comments she would make when she came. In the past, I have made snarky comments in response to her behavior, which only made the relationship more strained. I don’t want to have a heart of bitterness. So I did the only thing I could- I prayed about it. I felt a peace I cannot describe wash over me, and I was able to control myself the whole time they were at our house. My mother-in-law didn’t even make any nasty comments during the visit. I truly believe this is God’s power at work.

  47. ‘Grace-face.’

    Now THAT I can remember, Brenda. Thank you for sharing your heart …

  48. Linda Brixey says:

    Your words, your grace, your honesty in sharing this has touched such a cord within me. I haven’t posted before but I truly felt your hand reaching out reminding me of those, neighbors, who might not always be neighbors, but friends who have left you, judge you, even ones that you have prayed with for healing during terrible times in their life and then. . . . wow. . . .their gone. Paths cross later, you are open hoping for some type of acknowledgement, it’s quite. . . . it’s sad. Then my heart turns bitter . . .are you kidding me . . .really. Protection of my heart covers me to be safe . . . .how sad it is to leave . . .but yet God openned another door so I shall walk through. Thank you for sharing . . and being so open about shortcoming we face.

  49. I am grateful and relieved that God hears my prayers, because I cling to that knowledge every time I pray. He is my Way, Truth and Life.

  50. Julie Bryce says:

    Greatly comforted by the fact that Jesus still Reigns and that my prayers are considered Memorial. There has been such a Breaking of My Heart and I have been unable to resist temptation lately. Your word is Timely and very powerful. I would love to hear more of your insight on a daily basis! To eat the Word and be compelled to walk it out is exactly what I need! Oh, in this dark hour marriages will not crumble! We shall prevail through Jesus Christ! Pray for my marriage relationship!

  51. I’m laying here, unable to return to sleep thinking of and talking to my Lord about one who needs grace so desperately.

    And in reading your post I have received my answer, direction and conformation of continuing prayer on thier behalf and learning my lesson of grace.

    Please pray for His strength in my life so that I may live and give Him honor and praise in all He brings my way.

    Thank you for honoring and loving our Lord.

  52. I have forgotten my grace face quite a lot lately. There has been tension and strife in a certain relationship in my life for many years. And while I have prayed and prayed that the Lord will soften hearts and bring healing to this relationship, I have often forgotten to do my part. I have forgotten to show grace and kindness. I most definitely needed this reminder this morning. Pray for this relationship, friends. As I start to see some inclination of restoration we still have a long ways to go!

    http://www.littlelightonahill.com

  53. I often feel like my prayers fall on deaf ears. But I’m always wrong. Grace surrounds me.

  54. Marilyn Drinking says:

    Last day of family gathering to celebrate the life of oldest daughter killed in a motorcycle crash Friday. I had ot been reading these kindly sent,butGod had this June 24 message for me when I did look for a PROVERBS Word.!!! I was looking my Grace-face after so much time together spent around “?non-essentials”. Well, that was my judgemental perspective!!! Fortunate I did attend a “grief group” recently and was being quiet. Thanks.

    • Marilyn Drinking says:

      That was losing my Grace-face, not looking for it!! And please chuckle at the Name Drinking !!!Me drinking is a laugh… My last name is Reinking. Apparently my tablet did not like it!!!! And I pushed the wrong button before editing!!?⏳

  55. Far too many times I have left my grace-face at home, or in my purse, or tossed it out the window. This post resonated with me so much because it is often so difficult to smile and walk away. To say sorry to someone, when you feel like you’re the one who has been wronged. To swallow your pride and let people say awful untrue things about you. The Lord sees it all, and I believe you are right. It pleases the Lord when we die to ourselves and respond with love. Thank you for the reminder.

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