Monday Prayers

 

 

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Father God,
You are full of grace
Even when we omit to do
The good we desire to do.
In our inner being
In our core
We long to be like You.
We delight in You
We delight in Your ways
The war is waging against our hearts and our minds
We feel like prisoners
To our own selves.
We feel wretched before You
Lacking in grace.
But You are Grace
You will rescue us from these bodies of death
Thank you Father
We are redeemed through Jesus Christ
Our Lord.
Amen.
Romans 7 v 14- 25

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Just As We Are

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“Sometimes people are beautiful.
Not in looks.
Not in what they say.
Just in what they are.”
― Markus Zusak

When we came to faith in Christ, we arrived warts and all. It was the only way to enter in to the kingdom of God. The only way was to dump our heavy load of sin, brokenness and shame at the foot of the cross and throw ourselves on the mercy and forgiveness of God.

We came just as we were, and God met us there.

The only criterion for salvation is being prepared to participate in a great exchange. Exchanging our mess for His wholeness, our filthy rags for His righteousness and our despair for His joy.

At our core, I believe we all need to feel and experience real and genuine acceptance. To come as we are, to be seen, known and then accepted wholeheartedly. This is what God does for us. He is big and beautiful enough to accept us as we are. Acceptance is not agreement or endorsement, it is the acknowledgement and understanding of who we are and a willingness to take us on. To adopts us, to make us a part of the family.

‘ As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest we were deserving of wrath. But because of His great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions- it is by grace you have been saved.’– Ephesians 2 v 1-5

God accepted us when we were dead in transgression and sins… so what makes us behave as though He doesn’t do it for everyone else in our communities who are in the same state?

Jesus made a way. God accepts people as they are; any clean up job that is required is down to Him and Him only. Our responsibility is to share the good news- that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself.

So many people are desperate to hear this. If they really felt they would be accepted by God as they are, in whatever sorry state that is, they would run to Him.

I think as believers we can obstruct the process, albeit unconsciously. By behaving in ways that imply;

‘Yes, you can come to Jesus as you are but….’

‘Yes, of course God loves you but…’

‘Salvation is freely given if you believe but…’

We need to get our big buts out of the way. We need to stop obstructing the light from others and allow God to be God.

Acceptance does not negate change- it precedes it.

I thank God with all my heart that He accepted me just as I was, and continues to do so.

 

Just as I am, without one plea,
But that Thy blood was shed for me,
And that Thou bidst me come to Thee,
O Lamb of God, I come, I come.

Just as I am, and waiting not
To rid my soul of one dark blot,
To Thee whose blood can cleanse each spot,
O Lamb of God, I come, I come.

Just as I am, though tossed about
With many a conflict, many a doubt,
Fightings and fears within, without,
O Lamb of God, I come, I come.

Just as I am, poor, wretched, blind;
Sight, riches, healing of the mind,
Yea, all I need in Thee to find,
O Lamb of God, I come, I come.

Just as I am, Thou wilt receive,
Wilt welcome, pardon, cleanse, relieve;
Because Thy promise I believe,
O Lamb of God, I come, I come.

Just as I am, Thy love unknown
Hath broken every barrier down;
Now, to be Thine, yea, Thine alone,
O Lamb of God, I come, I come.

 

 

 

 

Resting in Identity

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‘The insecure often fight for identity and mistake rights for responsibilities. The more secure we become, the easier it is to live out of our divine nature, the ultimate place of rest’. – Bill Johnson

I found myself fighting for identity recently, although the concept of ‘fighting’ for my own identity makes no sense when I think about it. My true identity cannot be stolen, distorted or disposed of. It remains with me as it is me, my identity is God given. So why the defensiveness? Why the fight?

The root of it all is we forget whose hands our identity rests in. Our identity is placed firmly in the hands of God and He graciously bestows that identity into our hands. It takes a huge amount of trust in God to believe that our identity never rests in the hands of others, no matter who they are, what they have achieved or their position in life.

In my own moment of identity insecurity and defensiveness, I felt judged. The way others spoke to and addressed me, the things they said, all seemed to assume I lacked experience and knowledge of things where the opposite was true. I faced a choice of either listing off my ‘cv’ of experience and knowledge, bowing down to pride in the process- or saying nothing, allowing myself to be humbled.

It was a battle, I spoke a little of the things I had experienced but felt pride rearing its obvious head, and I didn’t like it at all. So, I stopped and said nothing, feeling indignant on the inside.

Then, in a quiet moment I sensed the Holy Spirit nudging me with this gentle reminder:

‘As long as God knows who you are and you know who you are- that’s all that matters’.

It was so simple and so obvious, but I had allowed lies to cloud my thoughts and judgment. The release I experienced when I regained a hold on the truth was extremely liberating. I let my defences down and focused on the task at hand.

God knew what He had placed within me. He knew what I had experienced in life, He knew the things I had learned in the process, and He would utilise those things in me as and when He needed to and not a moment before.

It takes an act of humility to refuse to defend our identities, to rest in who we are.  But that is where we need to be, humbling ourselves under the mighty hand of God. For He gives grace to the humble…and His grace is what we need.

Humility Is As Humility Does

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“Life is a long lesson in humility.” 
― J.M. Barrie

The disarming thing about an example is that it cannot be denied. We can no longer deny or circumvent the validity, necessity and truth of a thing when we see it role-played in front of our eyes.

Seeing the actions of Jesus in the Gospels is possibly the most disarming thing we can do. A perfect example of what is right, good and true is laid out before us without pretence, pomp or ceremony.

Jesus was, therefore He did.

While reading the familiar passage this week in John 13, I felt profoundly moved and challenged by a fresh perspective of what occurred. I have read it many times before, but as the Holy Spirit often brings, a fresh realisation settled in my mind and spirit.

Jesus washed the disciple’s feet. Wow. Selah. The God-Man got on His hands and knees and scrubbed the feet of His creation. That alone is worth a thousand words. But that was not what apprehended me.

Jesus washed the feet of Judas. Judas.

He washed the feet of the one who had already decided to betray Him. The one who had the privilege of walking with Jesus for years, witnessing heaven invading earth. The one who experienced incalculable love, heavenly teaching, revelation and impartation, had chosen to throw it back in the Saviours face…for money.

Jesus washed the feet of Judas knowing fully what he would do. Acutely aware of the selfish, evil desires that remained in his heart and his willingness to wear a ‘devoted disciple’ mask while conspiring against Him.

And what is worse (or better, depending on which way we view this). Judas allowed Jesus to wash his feet.

My mind has rolled this event around for days now, and I can’t seem to shake the enormity of that moment in history.

The humility of Christ broke another part of me that needed to be broken. Nothing on this earth is worth holding onto, and remaining in, a state of pride. Nothing is worth placing ourselves in opposition to our Saviour who so clearly values humility.  We must flee the lust of the eyes and the pride of life with a vengeance.

‘That is why scripture says: God opposes the proud but shows favour to the humble…’

– James 4 v 6

‘All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another…’ – 1 Peter 5 v 5

Why is pride such an issue in our generation? Why has it been a source of contention from the beginning of time?

Maybe because we are not sure who we are or where we are going, where we came from and who we belong to?

Could it be that we have not fully grasped what we’ve been given, the authority we possess, what we have access to?

Have we missed the fullness of what we have received-grace upon grace and every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms? (John 1v 16; Ephesians 1 v 3)

‘Jesus knew that the hour had come for Him to leave this world and go to the Father. Having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them to the end…. Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under His power, and that He had come from God and was returning to God; so He got up from the meal, took off His outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around His waist. After that He poured water into a basin and began to wash His disciple’s feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around Him’– John 13

There is no greater example than this.

Whose example are you following?

Return to Grace

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The Sun of Grace

If you have the capacity
To create the clouds of trouble,
Then God has the capacity
To create the sun of Grace.
For whom, if not for you,
For you alone?

– Sri Chinmoy

 

This week I felt I had not walked worthy of my calling. I did all I knew to do; confessed, repented, prayed, mourned in silence before God and took action. I felt wretched and longed to be free once and for all of the sins that so easily beset me. Free from the broken parts of me that surface when I least want or expect.

It takes faith to rise from the ashes. To believe in ourselves again after a relapse in judgment.

I made a major effort to put my faith and trust in God’s willingness to forgive, renew and restore. Forgetting what was behind and pressing on to what is ahead of me. As I tentatively drew near to God again I heard Him speaking. He spoke not of more discipline, or of the need to stay rooted and grounded in His love, nor the strength of my flesh.

He spoke of His love for me, His extreme undeserved favour poured out upon my life, the purpose and calling He had yet for me to fulfil. It was grace unmeasured, vast and free.

“I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion”- Romans 9 v 15

The decision is totally up to God, and His decision is yes. Yes, He will have compassion on us, yes; He will have mercy on us.

We do not have time to spend wallowing in the memory of our sins and failures. There is too much hope for that, too much future glory to enter into. There are people waiting to hear our redemption stories.

Believe- receive- extend. Believe the word of God about our sins being washed away. Receive His love unashamedly. Extend the grace you are experiencing to others.

Pardon speaks louder than any theological debate ever could. Grace is not normal, not in line with the status quo. It is definitely not politically correct.

Grace will always take the world by surprise.

It can be tempting to magnify the sins in our lives, to ruminate on them and speculate about them. We can amplify the struggle with sin to epic proportions if we are not careful. This can plunge us into a downward spiral of legalism and fear. But remember;

‘In your struggle against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood.’- Hebrews 12 v 4

The struggle we face is not that bad. It never will be. That battle has already been contended for and won.

Let us not fixate on what we could do, should do, and would do if only… I believe it is the Father’s heart for us to fix our eyes on Him and His ability.

To return to Him. Return to grace.

Have you strayed from grace? 

A Glimpse of Real Love

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Yesterday I saw love played out in front of me. It captured my attention, allowing me a glimpse of real love. Enduring and true love.

I was seated in the home of an elderly couple, the fire in their lounge was blazing and a hot cup of tea had just been handed to me. I felt warm and comfortable, relaxed in their presence.

They spoke to each other with  familiarity and fondness, it seemed to automatically exclude everyone else in the room while they conversed. They looked at each other without speaking at times, communicating with a smile what they wanted to say. He would speak highly of her; she would tease him and laugh. He would ask her to share a story with me and she would oblige, checking with him throughout that she was getting the details right.

They retold the story of how they met, she- just a teenager. He had shown a gesture of immense kindness to her and had offered practical help in a time of grief. The rest, as they say, is history.

He reiterated throughout my time with them how much he loved his wife, how he didn’t like being apart from her. She sat quietly listening, her face showing joy at his words. She told me how they spent most of their time together now, how they had a routine each day. I learned about their favourite place to go for a stroll together, about their children and grandchildren.

I was entranced. The sheer strength of their love for each other was almost tangible in the room. It wasn’t forced at all. They moved around each other like clockwork, in tune with each other’s wants and needs.

Countless photographs adorned the walls of their home. I felt as if I had entered into a sacred space.

These were two imperfect people who were perfect for each other. They had weathered the storms of life, battled through disease and the death of loved ones. Overcome disappointment with one another and forgiven each other for countless wrongs. They had decided to stick with each other, to be there for each other.

I have no idea if they are believers in Jesus. All I know is that the kindness they showed me, the welcome I received into their home and the love they shared gave me a glimpse of my Saviour.

I wanted to tell them; to express what impact they were having upon me, to thank them.

Believers or not- the grace of God is present in their lives. Only He can establish love like that. Only He can sustain love like that.

Imagine if we all created homes like this, full of the kind of love that draws people in…

‘Many waters cannot quench love; rivers cannot sweep it away. If one were to give all the wealth of one’s house for love, it would be utterly scorned’.-Song of Songs 8 v 7

 

 

Diving In

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‘Deep calls to deep in the roar of your waterfall; all your waves and breakers have swept over me’ – Psalm 42 v 7

I believe it’s time to dive in. Get immersed. Go deep into the things of God.

The definition of immerse is to dip or cover completely… to involve deeply in an activity (Oxford English Dictionary). If ever there was a year to immerse ourselves in the things of God, this is the year. As a wise person stated in ages past; ‘there is no time like the present’.

A friend of mine commented recently that I was too ‘deep’, she had witnessed me breathing a quick prayer to God for help with getting a door unjammed (it immediately did!). My first response was to defend myself, explain why I had prayed and point out that it didn’t hurt to pray about practical things. Later however, I reflected on my response. Why had I felt the need to defend myself? Wasn’t involving God in every area of my life a good thing?

When did it become ‘too deep’ to ask God for help with the everyday aspects of our lives?

The art of practising the presence of God is just that- practise. The more we talk to God and include Him in our lives, the more aware we will become of His presence. Awareness of Him has a direct impact on our thoughts which eventually filters through to our actions and the things we decide to do with our lives.

Let’s dive into:

  • The love of God; Luke 10 v 27 challenges us to love the Lord our God with all our hearts, minds and strengths.

Ephesians 3 makes it clear that the love of God has many facets- it is high, wide, long and DEEP.  Just when we think we know what God’s love is, He reveals another facet to us.

  • Spiritual Gifts; 1 Corinthians 14 advises us to follow the way of love and eagerly desire spiritual gifts.

Do we know what our spiritual gifts are? Are we growing in them?

  • Our Calling; Ephesians 5 v 17 gets straight to the point ‘Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is’.

We must reflect regularly on our lives and ask ourselves if we are really doing all we can to walk worthy of the calling to which we have been called… His grace is sufficient to help us with this.

  • Seeking God; Isaiah 55 v 6 gently warns us to seek the Lord while He may be found, and call on Him while He is near. Now is the time, He is near.

God has promised us that if we draw near to Him, He will draw near to us!

Now is not the time to dip our toes… Dive right in.

Have you gone to the deep end?