G R A C E

The acronym for GRACE I’ve always remembered is: God’s Riches at Christ’s Expense, but I don’t like that.

I don’t like it because the Bible says God’s grace was on Jesus, right from when He was a child (Luke 2:40). That couldn’t have been God’s riches at Christ’s expense, because Jesus is the Christ, who hadn’t yet suffered death on a cross. He was just a little boy, growing up in Nazareth. There was nothing in His outward appearance to distinguish Him from those around Him (Isaiah 53:2), and yet … God’s grace was upon Him.

Another definition of grace I’ve heard: Undeserved favour. I don’t like that either, again because God’s grace was upon Jesus, who deserved every bit of it.

Shall we call it God’s favour then? God is so extravagant, He loves all those He created.

God’s Riches … Adoration … Care … Extravagance. That’s how I’ll think of grace from now on. Will you?

The Truth About Self

This week’s Tuesday at Ten prompt is truth – that thing that’s so vital in processing what we hear, so we can live our lives well. Jesus said: “I am the Way and the Truth and the Life”, which is why it’s so important to find out what He thinks about us and our lives.

Lately, I’ve been reading and hearing a lot about self. As an example, here’s a quote from a friend’s update on Facebook:
“Apparently happiness has replaced goodness. We all strive for what will make us happy, to fulfil our desires, to satisfy our needs & dying are the thoughts for doing good. Its all about us. Praying that I’ll change my selfish ways to wanting to make a good choice, to please God with my actions instead of pleasing myself. Happiness only lasts for a time but doing good lasts forever.”

At first glance, this might give the impression that all God wants is for us to do good, paying no attention to our feelings and having no thought for ourselves or our happiness. I admire people like my friend, who’ve given up some of their own comforts to accomplish something greater for God, but I also love my friends dearly and don’t want to see them working themselves into the ground whilst forfeiting their happiness. I’d rather see them work less and smile more, but does Jesus agree?

Just today, I listened to a radio-programme about self-obsession, and the presenter said: “The whole point of following Jesus is that it’s nothing about yourself at all” – again, same impression. If I took just these two quotes on their own, I might be left wondering if God really cared about me.

“I am the Way and the Truth and the Life,” says Jesus, so let’s look for the truth in God’s Word. “God cares for you, so turn all your worries over to Him” (1 Peter 5:7), and one of my favourite verses: “The LORD be exalted, who delights in the wellbeing of His servant” (Psalm 35:27). God delights in our wellbeing – mine and yours. If I had to make a judgment about God, I’d say He’d rather see us work less and smile more too.

Of course doing good is important. “Faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead” (James 2:17). “Let us not become weary in doing good” (Galatians 6:9). Doing good is essential to the outworking of our Christian faith, but not at the expense of our joy. I was just thinking about the phrase: ‘Find your joy in the LORD’. Where do you think it’s used in the Bible; in connection with working for Him?

Actually, it’s used in connection with Sabbath – with God’s day of rest. “If you call the Sabbath a delight and the LORD’s holy day honourable, and if you honour it by not going your own way and not doing as you please or speaking idle words, then you will find your joy in the LORD” (Isaiah 58:13-14).

There were two sisters who were friends of Jesus while He lived on earth: Martha and Mary. Basically Martha beetled about trying to get everything done, while Mary sat at Jesus’ feet listening to Him. Jesus said Mary had made the better choice (Luke 10:42). Perhaps, rather than striving to do good or striving for happiness, our life’s goal should be intimacy with Jesus. Out of that will come everything else we need to live our lives for Him.

Children of God

Compassion’s asking this month that I write about what it means to be a child of God. Well, lately when I listen to music on my phone, I always seem drawn to this song (called “Children of God”). I love to hear Scripture sung, and this is straight out of Peter. I suppose it’s what being a child of God means to me:
“We are the children of God – LORD You have spoken.” Once we’ve believed in Jesus and become children of God, that’s who we are. God has welcomed us into His family and won’t let us go.
“We are the children of God – we are the chosen.” If like me you can remember the specific time you became a Christian, perhaps you think it was your choice, but Jesus clearly tells us it’s the other way round.
“Called out of the darkness and into the light, declaring Your majesty.” This line blows me away. Maybe sometimes you feel crushed and darkness doesn’t seem very far away, but if you keep bringing your problems to Jesus and trusting that He’ll help, you will overcome and then you can declare God’s power to those around you.
“A holy nation, we are the children of God.” I watched a DVD at church yesterday about someone who’d just had an encounter with God. She said: ‘The first thing I noticed was that God was holy and God was good. The second thing I noticed was that I was so not holy and not good’. I know what she’s saying, but the amazing thing is that when we follow Jesus, we’re being made holy. “Those He justified, He also glorified”, says Paul. God’s done this for us already and it’s being worked out as we live our lives on earth.

That’s what it means to me to be a child of God. What does it mean to you? If you’re a blogger, maybe you could join other Compassion bloggers and write about it this month. If you’re a sponsor, why not include it in a letter to your sponsored child?

Now October is Over

Can I start by saying a huge thank-you if you’ve read my life-story throughout October? Every like and comment was appreciated, and a special mention for Melissa who commented so regularly. Space didn’t permit, but what I’ve really missed has been giving a shout-out to others who were also writing for 31 days. That’s why I thought I’d highlight some posts for you now:

I’ll start with Robyn. I’d never read her blog before, and she’s written what’s been my favourite series of the whole month (well done Robyn). Here’s a post from her adoption adventure.

Not surprisingly, my blogger-friend Becky’s also included. She and her pastor-husband and four children make me smile through the videos she shares on Facebook, and having grown up a pastor’s daughter and become a pastor’s wife, who better to write 31 Ways to Appreciate Your Pastor? Way 3 was one of my favourites.

You’ll know from last month about my South African friend I’d love to meet. Because of her I have a growing interest in the country, so enjoyed Kate’s 31 Days of Life in South Africa. Who knew traffic-lights were called robots?! Kate also added an extra dimension to her challenge and wrote every post in 5 minutes, as did several others.

Here’s a taste of the most honest series I’ve come across – Caiobhe’s 31 Days of Hope for a Messed-up Marriage, and the most fun? Definitely Caroline and Greg’s on Truth or Dare.

I enjoyed these posts by Tobi and Annie in their series about books.

Several bloggers featured people who’d impressed them, like Joseph or the 31 Dayers Facebook-group, but let me really recommend Barbara’s Inspirational Biography series. I love snippets about Christians from of old, and this post about Susannah Spurgeon made me smile because of the lovely quote from Charles about his letters to her.

And the series I haven’t got around to but am looking forward to getting into? 31 Days of Writing as Worship.

Hopefully, in amongst all those, there’s something you’ll enjoy too. Happy reading, and if I’ve missed you out and you think I might enjoy your series, please tell me in the comments.