Lately I have been thinking about the word grace. It is one we don’t often talk about but it is an important word.
Ephesians 2:8-9 For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God— not the result of works, so that no one may boast.
So what is this grace? It is an example of God’s love for us. By grace he accepts us as the flawed human beings that we are. He understands how we can go astray and be unkind toward one another. He understands the hatred and the violence. He understands the discrimination toward others not like us.
God gets it all. But there is that word “grace.” The word that holds his love and understanding of all that we do. With faith we have been saved from ourselves.
Religion is a way of walking, not a way of talking. Dean William R. Inge
Too often we spend a lot of time talking about our faith. We tend to forget that talking is only the very smallest part of what we are to do as Christians. It’s what we do when we walk out of the door of the church that matters. People know us by our actions.
Matthew 5:16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.
There are so many divisions that separate people. We will join a cause…one that seems just to us and forget that we are to love the people on the other side. Injustice calls us to take sides but we can’t forget that on the other side are people that Jesus accepted and loved.
With so many divisions, many of them violent, it is not only hard to not take sides but also to see the other side as being human like us.
Jesus has mad it clear that there is no other choice. He does not ask us to forget about injustice. He calls for us to end violence and hatred but at the same time forgive and love those who we would easily chose to hate.
When I think too much of myself, Turn my thoughts toward someone else. Anonymous, twentieth century Japan
I have been using prayers from the book Woman Prayers by Mary Ford-Grabowsky. There are some wonderful prayers in this book. This one jumped out at me today. I have so often been concentrated on myself and my problems and not thought enough about others. It is an easy trap to fall into.
Turning our thoughts to others will add perspective to our own life. Look around you at those whose needs are great. See those whose pain may be hidden. See those who are afraid to ask for help.
See others and take the focus from yourself.
I give you a new commandment, that you loveoneanother. Just as I have loved you, you also should loveoneanother. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for oneanother.”
This time out of time has really been a test. We have all learned things. Some we never wanted to know and some that moved us forward on our journey with God. God didn’t bring this virus but we have all moved through it in whatever way we could. It has been harder for some than others. Loved ones have been lost. Many are grieving. But through it all God has been present. His loving arms have reached out to us. His peace has been offered. All we had to do was to cling on to him.
As this state of the crisis moves on we will experience new things both good and bad. God wants us to have learned from this. Our life is his. His love holds us always.
I was blessed with a mother, a special aunt and amazing grandmother. This verse from proverbs sums up their lives.
The True Wealth
13 Happy are those who find wisdom, and those who get understanding, 14 for her income is better than silver, and her revenue better than gold. 15 She is more precious than jewels, and nothing you desire can compare with her. 16 Long life is in her right hand; in her left hand are riches and honor. 17 Her ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace. 18 She is a tree of life to those who lay hold of her; those who hold her fast are called happy.
Those who read this blog know that music is the thing that turns my heart and soul toward God. Today I was thinking about how much help others need now and when we are again able to gather together. We are called by Christ to help each other. I have sung this song so many times and for so many years but it still speaks of how we should live.
He said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’
The verse says that this is the first and greatest commandment. It is also the most difficult to follow. By neighbor it means everyone. Not just the people we like but everyone! Not easy to do. There are so many people that for one reason or another I would rather not love but God calls me to do so.
I hope that God teaches me every day how to love those that are hard for me.
I really think this section of Romans says it all. We don’t need to add to it …just follow it.
Marks of the True Christian
9 Let love be genuine; hate what is evil, hold fast to what is good; 10 love one another with mutual affection; outdo one another in showing honor. 11 Do not lag in zeal, be ardent in spirit, serve the Lord.[e]12 Rejoice in hope, be patient in suffering, persevere in prayer. 13 Contribute to the needs of the saints; extend hospitality to strangers.
14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. 16 Live in harmony with one another; do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly;[f] do not claim to be wiser than you are. 17 Do not repay anyone evil for evil, but take thought for what is noble in the sight of all. 18 If it is possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. 1
But now thus says the Lord, he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: Do not fear, for Ihave redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine.
When my granddaughter was baptized the church made a full size banner that had her name on it and that quote. I have never forgotten it. Whenever I wonder if God knows that I am here or that any member of my family is here I remember that.