Friday, March 9, 2018

By Grace alone?

“God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive together with Christ and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places.  By grace you have been saved through faith and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God.”   Adapted from Ephesians 2:4-8

Paul was really big on salvation by grace alone.  In this he seems to be somewhat at odds with James, the brother of Jesus, who was the leader of the church in Jerusalem.  When you read the letter of James, he focus on work.  He says, “Show me your faith without works, and by my works, I will show you my faith.”  We have been saved by grace alone.  It is by our belief in God, our faith, that we receive that grace.  At the same time, if we have indeed have accepted what Jesus has done for us, then it should be visible by what we do for others.  We have been saved for a reason, so that through us, others might be fed, or clothed, or visited; so that others might see the hand of God at work in the world around them; so that others might also come to know the salvation of Jesus Christ.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Choose a Fruit of the Spirit for Lent

I was reminded this morning of one of our former Grace Church members who one year decided to ‘choose joy’ for Lent.  What a concept – to choose joy – over frustration, over anger, over jealousy, over all those things that distract us or draw us away from the joy of the Lord.  Joy is only one of the Fruits of the Spirit.  From Galatians 5:22-23 we learn:  “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.”  The fruits of the Spirit are given to us as a free gift when we are living our life in tune to God’s love and promise.  

What if each person took on one of the Fruits of the Spirit as a Lenten discipline?  What if we responded to the world around us according to these fruits?  What difference could we create in today’s world?  If we live into even one of these fruits, and share them as our response to the world around us, they can and will make a monumental difference in a broken and torn world.  My prayer for all people during this Lenten season is that each of us can find that fruit of the Spirit which speaks to us and helps us to live into the fullness of God’s grace. 

Monday, February 5, 2018

Out of a Believer’s heart

Jesus said, “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me, and let the one who believes in me drink. As the scripture has said, ‘Out of the believer’s heart shall flow rivers of living water.’” ...  When they heard these words, some in the crowd said, “This is really the prophet.” Others said, “This is the Messiah.” But some asked, “Surely the Messiah does not come from Galilee, does he?  John 7:37-38, 40-41

When I read this scripture this morning, it was almost like a slap in the face.  My first thought was to sneer at the scoffers and then I realized that I have, on more than one occasion, allowed some little idiosyncrasy, some little flaw, some little minute detail distract me.  The most recent occasion was in viewing a ‘prophetic painting,’ and rather than looking at it with the eyes of Jesus, and seeing his presence there, I was finding some little flaw that distracted me from his message to me.  We are spiritually connected to God/Jesus, but we are also human.  And there are going to be times when that human side of us oversteps the spiritual.  My prayer today, “Lord, I am a believer.  Please let those streams of living water flow out of my heart that I might see you and worship you in spirit and in truth.  Amen.”