Amazing Grace…

A few days ago I was sitting in the living room with the dog when my son pulled into the drive. I knew it was him as my other two were at cricket and he was due home from work. The dog barked and jumped up to look out of the window, as he always does when one of our cars comes onto the gravel. I then heard a noise I didn’t recognise that was like a dull thump and, after processing it for a moment, I thought he must have driven into the wall! I hurried to the front door, upon which my son was now urgently knocking!

I opened the door to see his forlorn face…

“Mum, I’m so, so sorry…” he said, over and over again.

It turned out it was not the house he’d driven into but my car! He didn’t see it (though it was parked in just the same place as usual) and reversed straight into it. The driver’s door had a very crinkled indent and had dropped a bit so it didn’t quite shut properly at the top. Praise the Lord it still opened and closed and locked ok!

The funny thing though, was that I felt completely calm and inert, as though nothing had even happened! All I could see was the shocked face of my little boy saying, “Mum, I’m so sorry!” and I just wanted to hug him!

As I thought about this later, and marvelled at my lack of anger, annoyance or indeed ANY negative emotion I thought… this is how Father God sees his children. Sometimes we mess up, do silly things, or even wilful and rebellious things at times, but when we run to him crying out, “Father, I’m so sorry…” all he feels for us is love. He doesn’t condemn us or feel anger towards us. Sometimes, of course, there are consequences in this realm, but his love towards us remains the same.

My son’s consequence is that he has to pay for my car to be fixed – but he is still my son and I still love him!

We are saved by grace, through faith in Christ alone. It’s a free gift that we cannot earn – we just need to receive it because there is nothing we can do to save ourselves. Our performance may often be imperfect but our position is secure. Once born into God’s family, we cannot be unborn! He is always our Father. That’s why it’s called Amazing Grace!

About the Church…

I may offend a few people with what I’m about to say, and I do apologise as I have no wish to upset brothers and sisters in Christ or cause an argument. I just wanted to say a few things about the established church and perhaps think about it in the context of the early church and its purpose, as described in the bible.

I’ve been saved for 25 years and have spent all of that time (until recently) in the Anglican Church, though I’m not sure why as I’ve never really been an Anglican at heart. (I think I’m too much of a rebel!)

I believe that everything we need to know about the Christian life and how to live it is in the bible!

So, NOT Easter (as such, with all its traditions – it’s pagan) but death and resurrection to new life – a statement of what it is to be a Christian if ever there was one! And the Passover has huge relevance to Christians, though this is rarely taught.

NOT all the hype surrounding Christmas, but a simple remembrance of how and why the Christ child was born – whatever time of the year that actually was!

NOT a special ceremony of “the Eucharist” for the favoured few who are both water baptised AND confirmed into the Anglican Church (Really??! Sounds more like a club membership to me!) but a power filled act of remembrance for ALL who truly believe that Jesus was born of a virgin, was fully God and fully man, who came to pay the penalty for our sin, was crucified, died and was buried, was raised to life on the third day and is now seated at the right hand of the Father where he intercedes for us!

It was his blood sacrifice that made the new covenant with God the Father, paid the penalty for our sin once for all and left the veil permanently torn so we may forever be in the presence of God; and his body was broken so ours could be healthy, for by his stripes (the brutally torn flesh on his back) we ARE (perpetually) healed (and in health)! THAT is why so many believers are sick or have “fallen asleep”, because they do not understand the power that the communion bread and wine has in the fallen-ness of this world. Jesus reversed the curse!

[ 1 Corinthians 11:29-30 NIV
For those who eat and drink without discerning the body of Christ eat and drink judgment on themselves. [30] That is why many among you are weak and sick, and a number of you have fallen asleep.]

So… a bit before Christmas 2018, I started to feel uncomfortable and that I needed to just leave the church, though I hung on for quite some time before I had to let go because there were many people there that I loved, so it was a painful parting. But all that kept going through my mind was “Come out of her, come out of her.” I was reminded of Revelation 18.

[Revelation 18:4-5 NIV
Then I heard another voice from heaven say: ‘Come out of her, my people,’ so that you will not share in her sins, so that you will not receive any of her plagues; [5] for her sins are piled up to heaven, and God has remembered her crimes.]

When you look at the two main Christian denominations, Catholics and Anglicans (who only broke away from Catholicism so a king could get a divorce!) and think about some of the awful things that have been done in the name of the church (though not in the name of Christ!) over many centuries, and how man made traditions have been allowed to overtake the simplicity of the gospel of grace and make it a lukewarm mixture of grace AND works, you have to wonder if, in this passage, Babylon could be referring to the established church!

I do feel that the Church of England as an organisation, has lost its way, focuses too much on tradition, rules and regulations (if you know what a faculty is, you’ll get my drift!) is becoming liberal and PC in many areas and not keeping its focus on sharing the gospel message of salvation in Christ alone.

The “Church” has a simple mission – to make disciples! It does not need to be politically correct, people pleasing, bogged down in red tape or spending all its energy designing “events to serve the local community”. By making disciples, each one can then serve where the Lord puts us, ” to do the works PREPARED IN ADVANCE for us to do”. The works prepared by God, not man, because he knows where we can be put to the best use!

[Ephesians 2:10 NIV For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.]

At prayer a couple of years ago, I had a vivid picture of a large banner suspended across the front of the building. It said,

DON’T COME TO CHURCH!
The Church is already amongst you.

And really, that’s what it’s about. It’s what it’s always been about. Not rules, not traditions of man, not pomp and circumstance, but simply believing in the Lord who sends us OUT, with his authority, to gather the harvest.

Matthew 28:18-20 NIV
Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. [19] Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, [20] and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

“If Millions suddenly disappear, you’ve been left behind. Now what?!” Watch this on YouTube…

Pastor Tim Henderson says it a lot better than I can! What if bible prophecy written thousands of years ago really IS coming true on a daily basis? What if the signs of the end of days are all around us, but we don’t notice or don’t understand – and then, suddenly, it’s too late and all hell breaks loose…?

2 Peter 3:9 NIV
The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.

[From Wikipedia: Metanoia, a transliteration of the Greek μετάνοια, is “a transformative change of heart; especially: a spiritual conversion.” The term suggests repudiation, change of mind, repentance, and atonement; but “conversion” and “reformation” may best approximate its connotation. In The King James Version of the Bible, its verbal cognate metanoeo/μετανοέω is translated as repent.]

If you’ve heard about Jesus, but never considered who he really is and that he came to rescue you – or you have rejected the gospel as a work of fiction or think it’s irrelevant in today’s world… CHANGE YOUR MIND! His name in Hebrew is Yeshua – it means Salvation.

You do not need to be a perfect person – not even a good person! Goodness will not save you. Being kind, caring, generous, loving, honest or hard-working will not save you.

Nothing that you can ever be or do will save you!

Romans 3:23-24 NIV
…for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.

Come as you are – no one is beyond being saved. ALL you have to do is believe on Jesus! Change your mind – and change your eternal future!

Faith + nothing else = salvation

… because Jesus died on the cross of Calvary but now he LIVES and sits at the right hand of the Father – and he intercedes for YOU!

Hebrews 7:25 NIV
Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them.

Time is short…

Ok, so I’ve been thinking about this a lot. To post, or not to post…

I’m not much of an evangelist as such, though all Christians are called to give a reason for their hope when asked. I’m certainly not ashamed of the gospel and people who know me, even a bit, soon find out I’m a straightforward, “see things in black and white” kind of a person who loves the Lord and loves to talk about him.

The people I find it hardest to talk to though, are those who are really close, know exactly what I believe, but who never ask anything or want to talk about faith issues. Because I love and respect them, I don’t push it, however I now feel such a sense of urgency that I must say something to them and to anyone else reading this!

Since I was a young teenager, not saved, but nonetheless believing in the existence of God, I had the strongest sense that “the world as we know it would end in my lifetime”. The years passed and in my 30s I became aware of the purpose of the cross. I had never quite understood how Jesus came into the “God” equation because, up to that point, no one had explained it to me!

I remember the moment I surrendered to him and totally put my trust in him and it was as though a fountain of joy had turned on in my middle and was gushing out through my face! I couldn’t stop smiling for days! I was in love!

I was blessed to be taught and mentored by strong women of God and found myself moving into the areas of prophecy, prayer and worship, then latterly teaching, but I have always been drawn to eschatology – the end times. I see now that even as a teenager the Lord knew me (though I didn’t yet know him) and he knew the journey I would make through life and the person I would become!

I look at the state of the world now and I feel the end, as they say, is nigh. More than nigh, it is here, right at the door! Time is so short!

Christians talk about the rapture of the saints – the harpazo, the catching away of the church, just before the end…

1 Corinthians 15:51-53 ESV
Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep (i.e. die), but we shall all be changed, [52] in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. [53] For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality.

1 Thessalonians 4:15-17 ESV
For this we declare to you by a word from the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. [16] For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. [17] Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord.

… and after that, there’s the tribulation! Trouble like you’ve never even imagined.

I know the rapture is steeped in controversy, however I’m not here to discuss the nitty gritty of it. My challenge to you is this… if it IS true and suddenly millions of professing Christians around the world simply disappear into thin air. Gone. And the world goes mad… destruction, fear, sorrow, anger. All the babies and young children are gone, there will be anarchy, looting, mob rule, natural distasters of epic proportions… and I knew it was coming, but I never told you, for fear of offending you. Would you not be MORE offended that I didn’t tell you?? Would you wish that I had told you how to be saved from the end of the world as we know it?

I’m telling you now, don’t wait, don’t stop to think about it… there’s no time.

A. Admit you’re a sinner in need of a saviour.

B. Believe that Jesus is Lord, was born of a virgin, the only begotten son of the Father, died on the cross to pay for all your sins and was raised to life again on the third day.

C. Call on the name of the Lord.

Romans 10:13 ESV
For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

I pray that if you read this, whoever you may be, and you have not put your faith in Jesus, the ONLY one who can save you, that you do so now. I’m not much of an evangelist, as I said, but I see the storm is coming and, with all my heart, I implore you to get on the ark and be saved, while you still can.

It is written… The word gives life

My son, do not forget my teaching, but keep my commands in your heart, for they will prolong your life many years and bring you peace and prosperity. Proverbs 4:1-2

My son, pay attention to my words; incline your ear to my sayings. Do not lose sight of them; keep them within your heart. For they are life to those who find them, and health to the whole body. Guard your heart with all diligence, for from it flow springs of life. Proverbs 4:20-23

If we didn’t know that the word gives life, proverbs 4 makes it very clear! Jesus said, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” Notice that the proverb didn’t just say to guard your mind, though that is part of the outcome of guarding your “heart” (the essence of who we are as a body, with mind and spirit). If guarding our heart, guards our mind and thoughts, does it therefore also guard our body…? Something to ponder on!

The psalmist says: “I have hidden your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.” Psalm 119:11. Sin separates man from God. If people read the bible, keep their minds free from worldly distractions and live good lives, would that bring forth springs of life? No! Only a revelation of Jesus, the word made flesh, can do that! With the Holy Spirit dwelling in us, the word takes root (see Mark 4; The parable of the sower). We cannot save ourselves through self-effort or good works! Only Jesus can give life. He saves us – by grace, through faith.

The bible, both old and new testament, is full of references to Jesus; prophecies, parallels in other bible characters’ lives, poetic and symbolic pictures. When the risen Jesus walked with two of his followers on the road to Emmaus, they did not recognise him. It was not until he had spoken of himself in the scriptures, and then broke bread with them, that they realised who he was and said, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?” See Luke 24

Jesus may not be present in body now, but our hearts should burn within us when he is revealed anew in the word, as we read, listen, study. He is the way, the truth and the LIFE!

As Christians, we are still human – in the world, but not of the world – so the consequences of the fall will still have their effect on us. Yet Jesus tells his disciples, “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33. Therefore, our hope is not in humanity, in nature, in technology, in medicine, in having a good education or a well-paying job. All these things will pass away… “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.” Matthew 24:35. Our hope – our ONLY hope – is in the finished work of Jesus.

John 16:33 is preceded by Jesus saying he has told his disciples what is to come so that IN HIM they may have peace! The Hebrew word shalom, which translates as simply “peace” means so much more… safety, wholeness, health, provision, prosperity, rest… In new testament context, peace (eiréné) also encompasses the reconciliation of all things to God through Jesus. “For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.” Col 1:19-20

We know that stress is the opposite of peace. Even doctors say that stress can damage our bodies and minds. It causes dis-ease! But where stress is the cause of affliction, God’s peace is the remedy, and is found again and again in God’s word.

So… “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be apparent to all. The Lord is near. Be anxious for nothing, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honourable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think on these things.”

Take time to meditate on these things… be refreshed, restored and at peace.

Thank you Father that Jesus IS the Word and that he gives me life in abundance.