when once you have turned back… Yes, there are times when we are fighting for our lives, our spiritual grounded-ness that keeps us from falling off the deep end. Gracious God help us to remember that when we have fallen, it’s all about what we do next. At the end of the day we have only to lay our heads down because with God’s help we made it, a true blessing in itself and tomorrow we shall walk strengthened by God’s grace and unashamed by God’s mercy.
The Spirit of God’s grace and mercy in every generation is like new wine in old wineskins (Luke 5:27-39). Old traditions simply burst as they make way for new ones. It doesn’t mean that old traditions no longer have use. That would be like disregarding every good thing our parents taught us. In every generation the Spirit will not be confined, limited or defined. As we live our own lives, the old continues to exist within us to support a renewed understanding of God’s grace and mercy every day.
… I went and washed and received my sight John 9:1-17 Washing, for us, is a simple act; something we do everyday. If in faith we do today what we are called to do, so too we soon see God’s grace and mercy, are simple acts taking place in and around us everyday.
…why do you wonder; … why do you stare…? Acts 3:12-26 As I further distance my life from the day that I was born, I am able to reflect on how the mischievousness of my youth and the errors of my maturity served to help form my assuredness that surely, God renews his mercies every day. I am especially grateful that I remain in awe of what may seem like a miracle for some and yet for me is simply part of God’s grace. Even as I work to continue focusing my eyes towards light, there is no way to really know when, where or how amazing things will happen. However, in believing that they can and do happen is enough to remain hopeful as I live and long to one day see wisdom face to face.
…we had human parents to discipline us, and we respected them. Should we not be even more willing to be subject to the Father of spirits and live? Hebrews 12:3-11 There are more than enough times and situations that we can’t do anything about. Every time of trial has its duration, some far longer than others. Why not use that time to discipline our praise for God who has been far more gracious and merciful than we have been faithful?
Offer to God a sacrifice of thanksgiving,
and pay your vows to the Most High.
Call on me in the day of trouble;
I will deliver you, and you shall glorify me. Psalm 50:14-15
Image courtesy: Shadowtext.net
If you will walk in my ways and keep my requirements, then you shall rule my house and have charge of my courts, and I will give you the right of access among those who are standing here. Zechariah 3:1-10 How many times have we heard these instructions? These are the words spoken, to assure the high priest Joshua, that God intends to keep his promise to the faithful remnant of Israel, who after near total destruction, repent and return to Judea. Joshua himself covered in filth, is by God’s grace made clean and clothed with festal apparel and a turban for his head. Even as the enemy stands ready to accuse, God does not forsake Joshua’s desire to lead the righteous. So too, though guilty we are not forgotten as God does not forsake the repentant heart. Today, we as believers are allowed over and again to step out of the muck and the mire and be washed clean, repent and give God access to cleanse us from the inside out. This promise of access to God’s faithfulness belongs to each of us. As he washes the filth away, and we hold to our life through Christ, by God’s grace and favor we are forever redeemed.
“…there is nothing outside a person that by going in can defile, but the things that come out are what defile.” Mark 7:1-23 A few days ago I was eating a bag of Pepperidge Farm cheese flavored goldfish. As I reached the end of the bag I noticed a whole in the bottom of the bag. Immediately I was uncertain whether I had purchased the bag that way and simply didn’t notice or if I had placed them down someplace where something (or perhaps a wonder dog) could have tried to get at them. Either way I was pretty grossed out. It took me a spell before I accepted the fact that my body would get rid of anything it didn’t need including what I believed to be contaminated goldfish! However, I realized what is much more complex, is getting rid of those contaminated emotions within me that cause me to do or say things that cause pain or hardship for someone else. God’s favor upon us is by his grace and mercy. So too his favor upon us requires that we must be willing to show grace and mercy. Far better is it to place our emotional ills at the altar rather than allow them to defile our heart against one another and subsequently against God.
Let us therefore make every effort to enter that rest… Hebrews 4:11-16 We ask ourselves how much longer must we wait for the Lord when it is God who asks the same of us. Through Christ every door is made to be opened. This doesn’t mean that we have to walk through them all. We do however have to discern our gifts to understand which ones will draw us forward in Christ and not in some other direction. The good news is that even if we find our selves astray God’s grace and mercy awaits the repentant heart. Unfortunately, we won’t always walk through the right doors. Fortunately, our life in Christ is as much about what we believe as it is about what we do. This is the confidence we have in the Gospel; if we believe in the truth about the Gospel of Christ, then we must make every effort to walk in that truth. To walk in that truth, like Christ, is to walk in God’s rest.
Listen! I am standing at the door, knocking; if you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in to you and eat with you, and you with me. Revelation 3:20
The sacrifice of God is a troubled spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise. Psalm 51:18
So now, O Israel, what does the LORD your God require of you? Only to fear the LORD your God, to walk in all his ways, to love him, to serve the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and to keep the commandments of the LORD your God and his decrees that I am commanding you today, for your own well-being. Deuteronomy 10:12-22
‘Why could we not cast it out?’ Mark 9:14-29 There are times when nothing we try seems to work. It doesn’t matter what it is; strongholds such as deep seeded habits, anxieties and ways of thinking are difficult to change. This doesn’t mean that change won’t happen, rather simply a reminder of our dependence on God’s grace as we continue to strive in the spiritual life. To live by the spirit is to be guided by the spirit (Galatians 5:25-6:10), and prayer is our lifeline. Use it regularly and live.
Psalm 141:2, Ephesians 6:18, Philippians 4:6, Colossians 4:2, 1 Thessalonians 5:17, James 5:16
The king was deeply grieved; yet out of regard for his oaths and for the guests, he did not want to refuse her (Death of John the Baptist). Mark 6:13-29 While we are free to do what is in our authority to do, taking someone’s life is a serious offense. Taking even a piece of it can be devastating. I believe that one of the most difficult things in life is the burden of living with the knowledge of having done something that has caused someone else pain. Not even a king is exempt from the burden of sin. It is for this reason Christ came, that we may live in spite of our selves. Discernment of what is right according to the New Commandment is an ongoing process – constantly making the choice to live rejoicing in Christ or live rejoicing to our selves (bodies). We wont always get it right and there are times when we don’t know when our actions (said or done) have hurt someone. But reconciliation in Christ is our journey in salvation. A repentant heart will not be despised nor forgotten (psalm 51:17) and God’s grace and mercy is greater than a multitude of sins (1 Peter 4:8).
…it is no longer I who live, but it is Christ who lives in me. Galatians 2:11-21