Tuesday, 15 December 2009

Am still here!

I haven't blogged in what seems forever! Mostly because things have been incredibly tough, mixed me trying to fathom how to get through each day positively - it has not been easy and I still like I have a long way to go. I wish the rollercoaster of life was more like a train ride - the ups are good but I could willingly give up on the downs!

The journey of grace continues to be an adventure..........more will come over the Christmas break I hope!

Tuesday, 18 August 2009

Changing my default!

This week there have been many e-mails between me and an old school chum, Dan. Most of our conversation has been in respect of getting free from legalism, the affects that legalism has had and the journey into grace and the awesomeness of grace. Dan and I are kindred spirits in many ways having journeyed together through a number of years and I would boldly say that he is like the brother that I never had. He's a real blessing to me and has been known to send me the odd prophetic word that has been totally spot on quite a number of times!!

In my e-mails to Dan I found myself realising just was a stench legalism has about it, but that grace has a sweet aroma – I know which one I would rather choose but yet there are times I run to the stench because that is what I am so used to! At work I have 3 different printers that I can send my printing to - a general one with the option to print on plain paper, headed paper or labels, a colour printer for the odd occasion that it is needed and a large beefy photocopier that will store my printing, double side it, put different sheets on different colours, staple and will print huge documents very quickly and very cheaply. The first one I mentioned is my default printer - if I just hit the print key and I know that it will go to the general printer and be on plain paper. Occasionally I have mass printing jobs to do and if I know that I will spend a few hours on the same print job then I will change my default to the third printer I mentioned. Why do I share the details of something so mundane - simply because I know that over years and years my 'default' has been set to legalism. Something happens and the natural, immediate and without question response has come from a position of legalism.
But oh for grace to become my default – how I yearn for it to be so - but I have been told and can see that unlearning the default of legalism can take time! How I pray that grace reactions would become my default reactions in the ups and downs of life!

The other thing that I have realised is that legalism wrecks lives – I only see damage from legalism. Even handling some situations that my husband and I face and have faced I realise how legalism is brought out and have to say that legalism underlines failure, highlights inability and bolds the imperfect!

So many people brought up in legalism struggle to gain the freedom and life offered under grace because their natural response comes from years of being taught ‘you must be this, you must do this, you must be like this, you must produce this, you must achieve this.’ But Grace explodes and disintegrates the ‘you must’ with ‘Jesus has’ - everything is liberated and the delight comes as we realise Jesus has done it all, won the day and given us all that we need!

Oh to live in the fullness of the default of grace..............

Sunday, 9 August 2009

Perseverance, Grace and the Gym!

This is a bizarre title for a post but hang with me for a mo while I explain! Back in June I joined the gym that is literally a stones throw from my front door. I have been plucking away at going a number of times each week after the realisation that from 7am - 3.30pm every weekday I do a desk job with only a walk to the photocopier, toilets or a meeting as any exercise. I must confess having joined I want to go - I want my money's worth!!!! :-)

Anyway to get to the point I got up early this morning to get half an hour at the gym in, before a shower and an early start at Church with the praise team. Most days I plug my headphones into the piece of equipment I am working out on and watch the nice big plasma TV at the front. This morning I decided to take my trusty little ipod shuffle and spent half an hour blasting praise music while I had an 'in-head chat' with God. I spent some time praising Him, talking to Him about some of the things on my heart and also just listening to see what He had to say to me. Yet again I heard the same word that has been echoing in recent weeks - the word is 'perseverance' - this word was not only an encouragement to keep going on the treadmill this morning but also to keep going on the road of grace and to keep working through things that I have started to tackle recently. But the beauty of perseverance in grace is that all is given to me to persevere. God isn't going to make me journey this route without His touch and enabling the whole way!

I was thinking about legalism, grace and the gym this morning - I might be a member of the gym but if I don't actually put my kit on and walk out the door, round the corner and go in then being a member profits me nothing. If I go to the gym all the equipment that I want is there, all the good exercise is there to be had if I walk through the door, if I fancy a swim I can just go and do that - it's all there! Now think about this - what if I am a Christian and don't live in the grace given to me - it's all there - I just have to step in to it, there is a wealth of good things for me to enjoy and to revel in and to swim in! BUT I need to step in to grace to enjoy it, to realise it. The differences between my gym and the grace of God are multiple but - here are a few:- Grace is to be enjoyed not endured, Grace is never unavailable my gym has closing times! Grace is personal, a love relationship, the gym deals with strangers and there isn't a love for customers!

The point really is how struck I was this morning that I have to make the effort and go to the gym in order to receive the benefit of membership, I also have to make the effort to put myself in 'the line of fire' to learn about grace, to grow in grace, to be set free 100% to enjoy grace. So as my Sunday draws to a close I start another week with the word 'perseverance' ringing in my head, perseverance to be in the deluge of grace, but hand in hand with a knowledge that without being legalistic I need to step in the flow of grace and try to stay there..........................

Saturday, 8 August 2009

Grace and molds?

Been thinking a lot recently about the mold of what I think I should be like as a Christian, perhaps the mold that I think others have for me, the expectations others have of me, the mold that perhaps I even try to put on myself. I am sure others have the same thoughts some time.

And then......well then I think about grace and it hits me - with grace there is no set mold that I have to fit in to. With grace there is nothing I have to do to 'fit in', with grace I am 100% accepted just as I am right now, grace turns the concept of 'I have to be like this' completely on his head. Now it is learning to really get these truths about grace from my head to my heart, to not just be right on the good days but to be true and real to me on the bad days, the lone moments, the times when the tears fall, when grief seems overwhelming and that is the challenge for the moment - for listening to the voice of grace even when things are tough and everything points to the 'you're rubbish syndrome.'

Anyone else battle with this????

Wednesday, 5 August 2009

The Journey of Grace Continues

I continue to journey through the ups and downs of stepping into the realisation that living under grace is completely different to living under rules, regulations and trying to fit into a mould. The journey has new highs and new lows. Constant new revelations seem to hit me on a daily basis and yet at the same time the battle often seems more intense! Recent days / weeks the feelings of condemnation seem to have grown and become more tougher to handle. I am grateful to God for putting key people around me that have encouraged me that the Bible says 'there is no condemnation for those in Christ.' People that have encouraged me that God's love and thoughts towards me are good and will never change even if I ever mess up that He will still love me that He doesn't ever get cross with me that I haven't fully grasped grace yet.
Then this evening I was reading Steve McVey's blog and this post and these paragraphs hit me like a bullet:-

The Spirit of Christ doesn’t put you under guilt and condemnation about something Jesus Christ has already absorbed into Himself at the cross, defeated and put away. Remember that Jesus dealt with sin and then sat down by the right hand of God because there was nothing left to do regarding sin. Your sins have been defeated and put away. So at every moment, “There is no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus.”
When the Christian sins, the Holy Spirit causes us to realize, “This isn’t who I am. I don’t want to live like this.” That realization is a call to recognize our righteousness and act like who we are. If you sense feelings of worthlessness and shame; if you think you are a horrible person when you sin, that isn’t the Holy Spirit speaking to you. It may be your church or family history rising up to condemn you, but it isn’t God’s Spirit. He doesn’t do that. Ever.
-Steve McVey
What an awesome statement re God condemning me - "He doesn't do that. Ever."
How I pray that this goes from my head to my heart.....................

Saturday, 27 June 2009

Grace Walk

I had seen the book 'Grace Walk' mentioned on some grace and glory blogs and realised that a number of folks were all saying what an impact this book had on their journey into grace. I couldn't help myself I HAD to read this book! So I brought a new and used copy from Amazon and was delighted when it arrived. I am not a particularly fast reader and sometimes feel like I am wading through a field of thick mud wondering if I will ever finish a book! Not with this one though - I just could not get enough of it! I am going to have to re-read this now with my husband he has to hear some of the stuff that McVey says!

So here are some snippits that have blessed me so very very much:-

'God never intended for our focus to be on performing and producing. He desires that our focus be on the person of Jesus Christ.'

'When you pray for God to help with your situation and things don't get any better, remember that He knows what He is doing! Just because you can't see His hand doesn't mean He isn't working. He may be using the situation to break that outer shell of self-reliance that keeps the life of Christ from being expressed through your lifestyle.'

'Adverse circumstances may be the hand of God working to bring us to the end of self-sufficiency.'

'God's purpose is not that we should rededicate our self with all it abilities, but that we should give up all help in self. We sometimes try to live for Him when He wants to live His life through us.'

'Law will cause a person to say,"Lord, help me to do the things You want me to do." Grace will cause a person to say, "Lord Jesus, I am abiding in You and You in me. Express You life through me in any way that you desire." '

'Understanding our identity is absolutely essential to our success in living the Christian life.'

'Our identity in Christ is one of the most liberating truths we will ever understand.'

'You are fully accepted by God. You are accepted because you are in Christ (Ephesians 1:6). Because Christ has received you and He is fully accepted by the Father, you are fully accepted as well! You don't need to change a thing about yourself for God to accept you. You acceptance isn't based on what you do, but on who you are.'

It is important to see yourself as God sees you. You know how a caterpillar becomes a butterfly through the process of metamorphosis. The caterpillar weaves a cocoon around itself and a short time later emerges as a butterfly.

If you were to see a butterfly, it would never occur to you to say,
"Hey everybody! Come and look at this good-looking converted worm!"
Why not? After all, it was a worm. And it was "converted." No, now it is a new
creature, and you don't think of it in terms of what it was.
You see it as it is now - a butterfly.
In exactly the same way, God see you as His new creature in Christ.
Although you might not always act like a good butterfly - you might land
on things you shouldn't, or forget you are a butterfly and crawl around
with your old worm buddies - the truth of the matter is,
you are never going to be a worm again!
It was liberating to understand just how God had made me into a butterfly. I was no longer a worm! In no way do I intend to convey the idea that understanding my identity caused me to live sinlessly. However, I have found that when I do sing now, I soon see it as foolish because I know that a sinful attitude or action contradicts my new nature.'

'Grace can never be repaid. It has no price, no because it is worthless, but because it is priceless.'

'God's love and acceptance are totally unconditional.'

'A person's behaviour has absolutely no influence on God's love. He loves you because, in His grace, He has chosen to do so. You can't do anything to gain God's acceptance, because Jesus has already done everything to cause the Father to accept you. You are fully accepted by God because you are in Christ. You can't improve on total acceptance, and God already accepts you totally.'

'The law says, "You must, you ought," while grace causes a person to say, "I want to!"'

'God is not interested in what we can do for Him. He can do anything that He needs done! He doesn't want what we can do - He just wants us!'

'The core of the Christian life doesn't revolve around doing, but it is grounded in being.'

'We are Christ's bride, not His hostage.'

'Legalism turns prayer into a boring monologue, while grace turns it into a delightful conversation.'

'Someone said that they don't bother talking to God about the small things because He's so busy. Remember this - it's all small to God! He doesn't need to conserve His energy for the big stuff. He is omnipotent! You won't drain Him of His power. If He knows how many hairs are on your head, He must care about every single details of your life, regardless of how small it may seem to you.'

'Christians need to give as much credit to God's ability to lead as they give to the ability of Satan to mislead!'

'Grace makes evangelism a real joy instead of a religious job.'

'When people are consumed with desire, they can't be stopped! Grace inflames the desire to witness. It ignites compassion toward the lost and motivates Christians to naturally witness with supernatural power. Grace-based evangelism is nothing less than an excitement about Jesus that is contagious to others. Grace motivates one to share a Person, not a plan.'

'The goal of evangelism is not to obtain decisions for Christ, but to introduce people to Christ.'

Gosh - I could go on and on and on - there are some awesome things in this book to encourage, inspire and help in the journey of grace - I make my decision today to live under grace, to be free to enjoy God, to live free from condemnation, to see myself as accepted, loved, clothed int he very righteousness of Jesus. Today I chose to give up trying and trying and trying and to rest in what Christ has won for me, I may have to make this choice tomorrow and the next day and the next day and the next day until grace is routed through me as a name through stick of rock.............

Thursday, 4 June 2009

Oversized, superabounding grace.

Here's a great quote on how big grace is:-

"There is enough grace in God's heart of love to save and keep saved for time and eternity, every sinner that ever has or ever will live, and then enough left over to save a million more universes full of sinners, were there such, and then some more. There is enough grace available to give every saint constant victory over sin, and then some more. There is enough grace to meet and cope with all the sorrows, heartaches, difficulties, temptations, testings, and trials of human existence, and more added to that. God's salvation is an oversize salvation. It is shock-proof, stain proof, unbreakable, all-sufficient. It is equal to every emergency, for it flows from the heart of an infinite God freely bestowed and righteously given through the all-sufficient sacrifice of our Lord on the Cross. Salvation is all of grace. Trust God's grace. It is a superabounding grace." Quote Kenneth Wuest.

Friday, 29 May 2009

CH Spurgeon on "My Grace Is Sufficient For You."

I read this early this morning and it really hit home, made me smile but really got me thinking:-

There are many passages of Scripture which you will never understand until some trying experience shall interpret them to you. The other evening I was riding home after a heavy day's work; I was wearied and depressed; and swiftly and suddenly as a lightning flash, this text laid hold of me: "My grace is sufficient for you!" When I got home, I looked it up in the original, and finally it dawned upon me what the text was saying, MY grace is sufficient for THEE. "Why," I said to myself, "I should think it is!" and I burst out laughing. It seemed to make unbelief so absurd. It was though some little fish, being very thirsty, was troubled about drinking the river dry; and Father River said; "Drink away, little fish, my stream is sufficient for you!" Or as if a little mouse in the granaries of Egypt after seven years of plenty, feared lest it should die of famine, and Joseph said, "Cheer up, little mouse, my granaries are sufficient for you!" Again I imagines a man on the mountain saying to himself, "I fear I shall exhaust all the oxygen in the atmosphere." But the earth cries, "Breathe away, O man, and fill your lungs; my atmosphere is sufficient for you!" C.H. Spurgeon

Tuesday, 12 May 2009

Singing Love Songs......

On Friday night at our praise team we sang the awesome song 'Hear these praises from a grateful heart.' This song ends with the line 'love you so much, Jesus, love you so much.' When we finished it all that was going through my head was the phrase of another song 'a love song to Jesus.' It kinda stuck with me all of Saturday and then on Sunday we sang the whole song again. There was a moment on Sunday in that service where it turned from us loving and adoring Jesus to sensing His love and His passion and His presence - it was awesome and words are really not enough to explain it. But as we stood singing love songs to the Lord I could hear this voice saying 'who is singing louder?' This question reminded me of that awesome passage from Zephaniah 3:17 where it says

"The LORD your God is with you, He is mighty to save.
He will take great delight in you, He will quiet you with his love,
He will rejoice over you with singing."

That phrase "He will rejoice over you with singing." Can you believe that the awesome creator of this Universe rejoices over us, delights in us! So it got me thinking and I looked the phrase up in other versions! Check this out:-

delight you with his songs (MSG)
he will joy over thee with singing (American Standard)
he will sing and be joyful about you (New Century Version)
He celebrates and sings because of you (Contemporary English Version

but then I checked the Amplified Version and this is worth the whole verse, it staggered me:-

"The Lord your God is in the midst of you, a Mighty One, a Savior, who saves!
He will rejoice over you with joy; He will rest, in silent satisfaction,
and in His love He will be silent and make no mention of past sins,
or even recall them; He will exult over you with singing."

My conversation with God on Sunday morning went something like this:-
'Singing I love you Lord, I love you.'
'Who's singing louder?'
'What do you mean?'
'You sing with the vocal chords I have given you, but I rejoice over you with singing.'
'Over me Lord? But why? Look at this and this and this and this (list millions of faults and mistakes!)'
'I'm God - do I need a reason?'
'Well - no!'
'So who is singing louder?'

Words failed me at this point and all I could hear was that song resounding my head whose chorus goes like this:-
'Can you hear Him singing? I love you, I love you. Can you hear Him calling I want you I have chosen you to be mine?

Later I looked up the whole song - (sorry I can't find it on youtube) but the words are below as I read them I simply had to pray yet again 'Lord take this from my head to my heart..........'

He gave Himself for His bride.
He knows what we will be,
A conquering army,
An unblemished people.
We're accepted, we're forgiven,
We're united with Him;
Not rejected, not forgotten,
Not abandoned in sin.

Can you hear Him singing,
'I love you, I love you'?
Can you hear Him calling,
'I want you, I have chosen you to be Mine'?

Jesus loves the church,
His passion through the ages.
Hell will not prevail.He builds us together,
A living temple.
We're accepted, we're forgiven,
We're united with Him;
Not rejected, not forgotten,
Not abandoned in sin

Mike Sandeman

Saturday, 9 May 2009

Brain Overload

Ever had the experience of not being able to sleep as your brain is working overtime? Woken up and not been able to get back to sleep because there is so much to think about?
This happens to me fairly frequently and at different levels! Sometimes it is just a few thoughts that really worry me so I think them through for ages. The early hours today have been very full of lots of thoughts - work, home, Church, other stuff - and then under all of those headings come another 62 sub-sections with sub-sections of their own! My brain can't keep up and can't switch off so rather than toss and turn the only option seems to get up and either do something or try and switch off!
One of my best and favourite 'thinking places' is behind a keyboard - when I type there is no pressure no one to shout me down, put me down, no one to say 'you're wrong, I'm right' - me and letters on little black keys and one awesome God....... I love the fact that God is beyond the alphabet that we have! Anyway here am I at silly o'clock in the morning with a brain that won't stop! But I will take the opportunity to post one of the songs that has had a massive playing and impact on me over the past few weeks. It is from the awesome album by Michael W Smith 'A New Hallelujah' - the version on the CD is with the African Childrens Choir and so here it is - bathe in these awesome words:-0

See on my journey of grace although I am purposefully putting myself in the line of absorbing some of the message of grace - listening to sermons and challenged by my pastors preaching recently to not just accept what he says but to look into it for myself; so in recent weeks I have been looking at exactly what the Bible says about grace on my own - but my findings will be blogged when I have done a bit more! :-)

Anyway as I was saying (sorry I do ramble when my brain is on overload) I have purposefully put myself in the line of fire with the message of grace but as I do so I am finding the message of grace on what I listen to, what people say to me and in my normal day to day reading of the Bible. It seems to come from every angle! This CD by Michael W Smith is something that God has really used. There is another song on the album which is Amazing Grace - but a version with an awesome and beautiful and stirring chorus so I have to post this too! The pictures aren't particularly helpful on this youtube clip but play it and let the words - thrill your heart "my chains fell off - my heart was free.....' Truly Amazing grace, unending love.............

Sunday, 3 May 2009

The dilemma of public tears

Anyone who read my previous post will know that the last few weeks have been frequented by tears. Those that have known me for many years will know that tears have often come. Scripture says that 'weeping will remain for a night but joy comes in the morning' - sometimes the night can be a long one and for me it is extremely long. I think I do pretty well at hiding the fact that so often I am near to tears. I rally myself, put all my efforts into a brave face and just tackle whatever the situation demands. I may fall apart when I am on my own, with my husband or in the shower but I will have gotten through the situation of that day.

This morning someone asked me something at Church after the morning service, I thought I could handle responding to them but alas I couldn't and didn't. I left Church with my head down through an exit that required seeing noone. I cried all the way home, I saw tears fall on my lasagna at lunch time! I spent the afternoon calming down, but the dilemma came for the evening service - groan - if I didn't go the person that asked me the question would feel that they had really upset me, but if I did go and someone spoke to me I knew that I was too close to tears. My hurt and pain may be deep down but at the moment it seems to be 'surface-mounted!' I hate to cry in public - the very thought of it turns my stomach, I don't want people to see that I am not coping. Public tears in a church setting can either be met with gracious loving people or a critical eye cast over your life. Very often the very thing that sparks the tears is not actually dealt with and you can leave that meeting feeling more depressed and just wanting to sob your heart out.

Years ago I remember someone praying for me and it was a painful area that they were praying about and I was weeping and then they switched suddenly for praying for God to stop the tears and fill me with His peace. It left me confused and my thinking was very much along the lines of 'yes it is ok to cry...BUT only with certain conditions and situations attached.' I wonder if the Church in 2009 is prepared to deal with the tears of the broken-hearted, those that face heartache on a daily basis!?!?

The more I hear about God being a God of grace the more confused I seem to get! If God is full of grace and He wishes to meet us in our need then why do we still hurt? If He does not require us to do certain things to obtain His blessing then why does He not bless? If He is loving to the depth and height that we read about how does He not seem to see the heartache of His precious children. Equating grace when looking at loss, heartache, tears is near impossible - yet something else that I need to add to my list when learning about grace.................

Saturday, 25 April 2009

A week of tears

This has been a week of tears for me in fact today I feel quite 'cried out' (although I have cried as I have typed this!!!). Last Sunday was an awesome day of worship, teaching and Holy Spirit encounters for various people in our Church. In the morning one of our elders, Ken, preached - it was an anointed word that was delivered with fire and obvious Holy Spirit anointing. A few things struck me from what Ken said as he spoke about the longing that we should have for more of God, as He spoke about faith even as a grain of mustard seed being enough and the call of 'Lord I believe, now help my unbelief.' A cry that has been much on my heart for the last 13-14 years (no joke!) but yet I still struggle with stirring up enough faith to believe God for specifics in relation to me - I have faith for other people, other situations, etc etc but bring it to a personal level and my faith shrinks to the size of that tiny mustard seed and I have to stir myself to pray "I believe you Lord, now help my unbelief." One of the phrases that hit me as Ken preached was "The kind of people God uses, are just the kind of people that the World says are useless." I know what it is like to feel completely useless, to not fulfill what I think I should and total inability to alter that!

On Sunday evening again another anointed sermon but this time the speaker was my pastor, Peter, he spoke from Mal 1v6-14. Stirring us not to bring God our left-overs, getting us to take a look at our view of God, looking at God's view of blemished sacrifices and the transforming power of God. I have to say that much of what Peter preached on was hard hitting, poignant stuff. I cannot do the sermon justice and would not dare to try to. As he preached I felt more and more unwell almost faint and had to just get some air for a moment or two - the thing is some of what he spoke on hit the core of things for me. The whole area of praying and faith and viewing God as a the God of grace that He is...... there are certain situations that my husband and I face on a day by day basis and to understand God as a God of grace in light of those situations is mind-blowing. It is so hard to try and grasp God as a generous, loving, grace abounding God when a situation that you are in is seemingly impossible and one that God, although as a God of grace who gives what we do not deserve, witholds despite the pain that it brings, the questions that is raises and the heartache that it installs. 'Hope deffered makes the heart sick' scripture tells us but when a God of grace could stop the hope deferring and chooses not to - where does that leave us? This is where the rubber hits the road isn't it? When we trust and have faith in a living awesome God and yet we don't see what we long for, pray for, hope for, yearn for. Sunday night I sobbed my heart out with my husband, I do not understand, Monday night the tears flowed again, Tuesday night I was so tearful I stayed away from people. Every day I get up put my 'I'm ok' mask on and plough my efforts into having a good day at work - doing my job well and having a laugh with my awesome colleagues but when I get home realities hit home. This week my husband has had to pick up the pieces, pass the tissues and sometimes just leave me alone to cry it through. It has been a tough road and yet again I try to work out God's Father heart, sovereign power and awesome grace when the pain is deep and the tears so real. I am so grateful for a husband who stands with me in the realities of day by day heartache and so very many disappointments.

Recently I purchased a new CD 'A New Hallelujah' by Michael W Smith - I can't recommend it enough - I have nearly worn out our copy already! It gets played daily in our house and even today has been blasting as I type! There are some awesome songs on the album - but there is one that Michael W Smith talks before he starts to sing and I have managed to find the exact thing on youtube - so if you are finding life a struggle as I have done recently - play this and let hope rise that help is on the way, that He will never leave you or forsake you, He sees your tears and that His arm is long enough to reach you where you are................

Monday, 13 April 2009

Monday Morning!

It is Monday morning and I must confess that the last 24 hours have been a battle which I have blogged about elsewhere and as I have blogged I came across a prayer by A.W. Tozer and it has blessed my heart so I thought I would post it here:-

'O God, I have tasted Thy goodness and it has both satisfied me and made me thirsty for more. I am painfully conscious of my need of further grace. I am ashamed of my lack of desire. O God, the triune God, I want to want Thee; I long to be filled with longing; I thirst to be made more thirsty still. Show me Thy glory, I pray Thee, so that I may know Thee indeed. Begin in mercy a new work of love within me. Say to my soul, 'Rise up, my love, my fair one and come away.' Then give me grace to rise and follow Thee up from this misty lowland where I have wandered so long. In Jesus' name. Amen.' (A. W. Tozer)

This is the cry of my heart today in all the battles that I have been in recently; in the increasing longing for complete freedom and the desire to be liberated fully to enjoy grace I long to be hungrier and thirstier for Him cos nothing else will satisfy, nothing and noone else will do - how I need Him, how I long for a fresh touch from the King, how I desire an encounter with the lover of my soul.............

Friday, 10 April 2009

Reflections on "God is unfair"

Earlier this week I was in a meeting where the leader was talking about the Easter story. There came a point when there was discussion over the thief on the cross and when Jesus said to him 'today you will be with me in paradise.' The comment came that one of the things that this taught us was that 'God is unfair.' I must confess that I have been mulling this over for a few days and have talked about it both with my husband and a couple of others. The conclusion I have come to is that 'unfair' is not the right word! Perhaps it would be more correct to say that this shows us how merciful God is, how deep His love that rather than ask the thief to prove anything, He just displayed mercy beyond our comprehension! Such I guess highlights again the grace of God - something that I am trying to start to grasp after many years of walking with the Lord.

Legalism can't cope with the thief on the cross, faith with works cannot cope with the thief on the cross, treating God like He is anything like an ordinary man cannot cope with the thief on the cross - everything in us, humanly, cries that the thief did not deserve paradise! But this is the essence of grace isn't it - the complete opposite of what we deserve..........so the only 'unfairness' (in want of a better word!) that I can see is that rather than punish us, rather than declare us guilty, rather than condemn us - He bestows on us overwhelming grace and mercy, instead of despising us because of our sin, failures, mistakes, blunders and stupidty He lavishes us with His abundant love, instead of treating us as outcasts He not only takes us in but adopts us as His own and not only that but makes us co-heirs with Christ. When you look at it this way there is a grateful heart for that 'unfairness,' for that great mercy, for His grace. Next time someone says "God is unfair" I guess I will have to agree with them - if He was 'fair' then I would be on the scrapheap, I would be condemned, I would be facing eternal punishment, I would be without hope, but instead I have a Saviour, I have Jesus - the price is paid in full, no more to pay, I know that one day I will see Him face to face and it won't be facing Him knowing that He is angry with me and He will just be passing sentence on this sinner, but instead I will be facing Him knowing that He loves me and that He purchased my freedom at an awesome price - such love, such mercy, such grace...................

Tuesday, 7 April 2009

Grace is Ridiculous!!!!!

What a bizarre title for a brief blog!
Last night my husband and I spent time chatting through the whole subject of grace. We were talking about how much easier it is to comprehend law and living under legalism. It is easier to accept to understand and to get your head round - BUT it isn't what God has given us under the new covenant. It is then that this phrase got mentioned 'Grace is ridiculous.' Think about it for a moment the awesome creator, maker, sustainer of the Universe - God - an awesome God, He sent His one and only Son, Jesus, to not only die for us but to take the punishment that we deserved........everything that we deserved not only dealt with - but on top of that He lavished so much on each one of us - no wonder it is so hard to take it in!!!!!

Sunday, 5 April 2009

The Battle for Unlearning Law and Living in Grace

After my last blog about grace being confusing I was e-mailing my precious brother in the Lord, Dan Bowen about how tough the battle is for grace and one thing that he said to me really hit me, he said:-

I think it must be because the powers of darkness KNOW that here
is the key to freedom for God's people.

The reason that the battle for grace is that obvious! The enemy does not want us to free, liberated or passionate. I have seen and felt first hand over recent months the adverse reactions physically, mentally and spiritually when grace is preached. The last couple of days there have been other battles in my life - plans that I had made have not happened for one reason or another. I have tried listening to some of Rob Rufus messages from his archive but have been unable (as yet) to get my computer to open any of the files. Again I think that the enemy doesn't want me to hear grace, yesterday afternoon I sat at my craft desk which is right next to our computer and had the grace stream tv resounding round the study for a number of hours. This morning again I have had the grace stream tv on inbetween waiting on my husband (he's not well :-( )and doing things around the house - I am determined to get my brain and heart etc etc tuned in to being used to hearing about grace. I have been amazed at some of what I have heard. My pastor reminded me yesterday that I need to be praying that I would unlearn living in law and actually start praying that instead of the message of grace making me feel unwell that I need to ask the Lord to make the message of legalism detestable to me.
I need to surround myself with people that speak grace over me and I need to hear it and take it on board rather than living under guilt and condemnation because I haven't made the grade........ the journey for living free in grace isn't necessarily easy!!!!!

Saturday, 28 March 2009

Grace is confusing!

I have been thinking a lot about grace over recent months and have come to the decision that grace is so hard to fathom and grasp. With some people when you talk of grace they instantly go on the defensive saying that preaching grace gives people license to sin and doesn't give the call that people need to walk in holiness. Others radiate a smile and seem to blossom as you talk of grace - they send out this radiant smile as they realise the depth of their sin and bigness of God's grace and the depths He went to for them. The contrasts are startling! The contrasts are extreme - from serious caution, to awesome, uninhibited rejoicing - but yet both people are saved, both love Jesus, both have a relationship with God - it confuses me!?!?!...........

Saturday, 14 February 2009

Snakes and Ladders of Learning About Grace!

I have not blogged for ages! I have come to the decision that the Christian walk is very much like the game of snakes and ladders at times!!! Very profound I know! You could say the last 3 - 4 months have been a case of a few squares forward and then I have hit a 'snake' and gone down a row and then hit another 'snake' on that row and at times I have felt like I was very much back to square 1!

But over this last week there have been some changes - a timely prophetic word cut through the fog and got me thinking! Some encouragement from my husband and other trusted friends and then the decision to start once again to look at grace and to start over and ask God for some revelation and fresh focus.

This morning I started to read 'Captured by Grace' by David Jeremiah. I read the first chapter and to say that I was encouraged would be an understatement!
Here are some snippits from David Jeremiah's first chapter of this book!

"There is no more wonderful word than 'grace.' It means unmerited favor or kindness shown to one who is utterly undeserving.......It is not merely a free gift, but a free gift to those who deserve exact opposite, and it is given to us while we are 'without hope and without God in the world." (Quoting Martyn Lloyd-Jones)

'Grace happens and it acts. "For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God" (Ephesians 2:8) Such grace can only come from God. It is the gift unsought, unmerited, unlimited. For no matter what we have done, no matter the depth of our transgression, the darkness of our hearts - grace overrules them all. God pursues us relentlessly, He will not give us up, and once He has captured us, He won't let us go.'

'Grace is the bridge over a chasm that seemed infinite - the canyon between our depravity and His holiness. That bridge is wide and sturdy and sure, beckoning to us to cross over into a life too wonderful for us to imagine.'

'Grace is too dazzling, too bright, for it is powered by the holy heart of God. Trying to comprehend it in whole is like staring directly into one thousand suns.'

Awesome quotes from David Jeremiah - but then he blew me away with this section and I have to type this up because it blessed my heart so much when I read it this morning - read this, drink of the awesome, generous, extravagance of our God who goes beyond mercy and blesses us with grace and with a bounty beyond words..............

Mercy is God withholding the punishment we rightly deserve. Grace is God not only withholding that punishment but offering the most precious of gifts instead.

Mercy withholds the knife from the heart of Isaac.
Grace provides a ram in the thicket.

Mercy runs to forgive the Prodigal Son.
Grace throws a party with every extravagance.

Mercy bandages the wounds of the man beaten by the robbers.
Grace covers the cost of his full recovery.

Mercy hears the cry of the thief on the cross.
Grace promises paradise that very day.

Mercy pays the penalty for our sin at the cross.
Grace substitutes the righteousness of Christ for our wickedness.

Mercy converts Paul on the road to Damascus.
Grace calls him to be an apostle.

Mercy saves John Newton from a life of rebellion and sin.
Grace makes him a pastor and author of a timeless hymn.

Mercy closes the door to hell.
Grace opens the door to heaven.

Mercy withholds what we have earned.
Grace provides blessings we have not earned.

Today is a new start on the road of the journey of learning about grace - I have key friends who will help me land on the 'ladders' but there is grace for hitting the 'snakes' - one thing that I have to learn that such a journey is not one to be journeyed alone; it is to be shared and it will be eventful!
I had to smile this morning as I put on a new jumper - never noticed this when I purchased it but the label inside says 'Grace', I brought another top at the same time and this one is also labelled with 'Grace' - so already today I am clothed in grace - God has a sense of humour!!!