Preparing the Bride of Jesus Christ

GOD’S STORY: GOD’s grace revealed again

GOD’s grace revealed again

When Adam sinned, GOD had to send him out of the garden. But GOD clothed him, sent him with Eve, made provision for his survival.

Even though Adam could have had his life taken from him immediately, GOD gave him centuries to continue: to have children, to have a mortal existence. In this we see GOD’s grace. (Genesis 3:23)

And again, we’ll see GOD’s grace in the continuation of humanity, through Noah.

Preparing the Bride for GOD’s Story

How do we prepare as the Bride of Christ? One aspect is to learn GOD’S STORY. He created us in His image…. Piece by piece, and peace by peace, we learn to walk as He has walked. And we learn His perspective.

Genesis 6:7-8

“So the Lord said, “I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth, both man and beast, creeping thing and birds of the air, for I am sorry that I have made them.” But Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord.”

As a result of Noah’s character, which pleased GOD, GOD showed him — and through him all of mankind — His grace. He gave Noah a task to build the ark (which took the man 100 years to complete amidst all kinds of mockery — he built a boat on dry land with no sea anywhere near) and the instructions to save the animals and his own family in order to preserve mankind, as undeserving as man had already proved to be.

“I will remember My covenant which is between Me and you and every living creature of all flesh; the waters shall never again become a flood to destroy all flesh. The rainbow shall be in the cloud, and I will look on it to remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is on the earth.” (Genesis 9:15-16)

After the flood, GOD promised He would never again flood the earth, ostensibly promising the next generations would survive; which they have to this day.

GOD’s grace revealed again and again

Through the building of the ark by one man of obedience and faith, through the opportunity GOD gave Noah to preserve animate life on earth, we see the grace of GOD: always seeking relationship with mankind, always seeking preservation of mankind, always showing love toward mankind, in spite of his failings.

This is a GOD of the second chances. Hallelujah! I certainly often need a second chance. Don’t you?


GOD’S STORY: part 59 God’s Grief

Can we put ourselves in GOD’’s shoes?

For one moment, imagine you are the Creator of the Universe. You have created perfection. The pinnacle of your Creation is Man, created in your image. He is your son. But lacking trust or seeking personal gain… or more likely preferring his own company to yours (ie Adam prefers relationship with Eve to you), he turns his back on you. You must send him away but you will not linger far from him. 

But then he has offspring and generation after generation, they become more and more evil. 

Can we look at GOD for a moment and recognise GOD’s grief?

Preparing the Bride for GOD’s Story

How do we prepare as the Bride of Christ? One aspect is to learn GOD’S STORY. He created us in His image…. Piece by piece, and peace by peace, we learn to walk as He has walked. And we learn His perspective.

Genesis 6:5-6

“Then the Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intentof the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And the Lord was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart.”

For me it is impossible to imagine the grief of GOD. He has everything in His hand for us, His children. But we choose to do “our own thing”. We choose to reject His wisdom, love and relationship and determine our own destiny. 

Imagine as a parent, loving our children and wanting what is best for them, but watching them choose what is second best, or worse, degenerating from what is good to what is just plain bad for them. How painful to see our children living in the consequences of their poor choices rather than in the joy of salvation, grace, love and peace of GOD which passes all understanding.

It is so sad.

Next time someone judges GOD

Most reading this will have a personal relationship with GOD, borne out of our own journey to come to the knowledge of His passionate love, grace and wisdom toward us. Some will not yet know GOD’s love, mercy and goodness.

For those who know GOD through Jesus, when someone says, “If there is a God, how can he let people starve, or kill themselves through war, or die from a horrible disease…?” Can you reply with some version of this:

“GOD allows us to choose. He loves us so much that He’s given us the freedom to choose. And just like a parent who loves his child knows the child must make his won choices to mature, GOD sees the bad choices we make and it causes Him no end of grieving.”

I cannot imagine GOD’s grief

I cannot put myself completely in GOD’s shoes, but it must have torn Him apart to watch mankind make such a mess of Creation that it drove Him to “be sorry that He had made man on the earth…” He wasn’t sorry He made earth. But He was sorry He put man into His wonderful creation. 

How sad. How absolutely devastatingly sad. 

…… Let’s love and worship GOD, showing Him our gratitude for His loving us.

Preparing the Bride of Jesus Christ

Led by Grace rather than Expectation

What is Grace

We need to be led by grace rather than by expectation starting today!

It has been quoted over and over again when discussing the question, What is grace? that “grace is receiving from GOD what we don’t deserve.” This is correct. But for us human beings, there is a practical element which goes beyond this.

Grace is behaving toward others with an attitude of acceptance rather than expectation.

What is Expectation

Expectation is demanding, hoping for, or assuming something will happen in a particular way. Expectation influences our attitude and our behaviour toward others, as we “expect” another person to behave in a particular way. When someone does not behave as we expect, we can take it as a personal slight — and if we do, our behaviour turns to attack the other person or to withdraw; both are responses of offence. When we take offence, whether overtly expressed or internalised, we are demonstrating the opposite of grace. Although the root may be out of genuine pain, offence is ungodly, unhealthy, and unproductive. (Note: the offence may be triggered by past incidents or pain which has nothing to do with the present or with the person from whom you are offended. This signals a need for inner healing, something we all need from time to time, and can receive from the healer: the Holy Spirit and with prayer counselling.)

Opportunity for Grace

Consider your birthday and someone you thought would think of you did not call or send a card. Offence whispers, “you aren’t loved” or “they are selfish, unthoughtful” or “they should have remembered your birthday”. But grace shrugs it off, or acknowledges your disappointment but recognises the other person didn’t know or didn’t remember or that they have other matters of greater importance… and even, thinks, “I hope they’re okay:)”.

Consider the other drivers on the road… we except them to signal, we expect them to give way according to the rules. What happens when they do not? There is a lot of road rage, purely because others do not drive the way we expect them too. On the one hand, of course the expectations are reasonable because those are the rules of the road. BUT if we are personally offended, if we act with hostility, are judgemental or accusatory, this is not going to change the situation nor is it going to produce good fruit from us. Instead, we need to learn to be gracious, not to allow the mistake to affect us personally, emotionally. Lately, I’ve been saying aloud when bad driving is in front of me, “Maybe the other driver is running late; maybe she just needs to learn better driving; maybe he needs prayer…” These responses are gracious. 

Grief and Disappointment

Our lives are full of grief when we have high expectations from others who don’t measure up. This is the nub of what I’ll address in this post: 

We need to be led by grace rather than expectation if we are going to live in forgiveness, love and mutual respect.

When we are expectant toward a certain outcome or behaviour from others, it means we will easily be disappointed. People simply cannot measure up to our expectations. Some people who begin to follow Jesus end up walking away, because they perceive He hasn’t measured up… when it is actually the body of Christ: the church folk who haven’t measured up. How tragic.

And when we expect, we do not actually receive but take when someone does give of themselves to us. We take what we are owed, rather than receive what we are offered. If you reflect on this, I believe you’ll see there is a big difference.

It is vital that we, the body of believers in Christ, stop expecting from others, because it blocks love. It blocks ministry. It blocks the family from growing together.

Love one another

Read John 15 — the abide chapter. 

How can we abide in Him if we are cross with one another? 

How can we love one another if we take offence?

Why be led by Grace rather than Expectation

We all must be led by thoughts of grace toward one another to root out condemnation and criticism. We must be honest toward one another if we feel wounded, but not let that wound take root toward a heart of bitterness (which comes from pain turned outward). We need to walk in grace and forgiveness rather than protection and suspicion. This sows mutual love, acceptance and honours GOD.

How to be led by Grace rather than Expectations

If you have a tendency to put aside your own needs for others, then this word of grace does not apply to you. But if you tend to suppress your needs and walk in sorrow because others don’t pay attention to you, or if you tend to get angry at others who disappoint you and hold a grudge, then you need to start to choose grace. This will allow you to overcome your own expectations and disappointments. 

Can you begin to recognise that some people just won’t measure up to your hopes? It’s good to be aware of this… and then to let go. Let GOD meet your needs, allow the Holy Spirit to comfort you who mourn, look ahead and not behind, to see what life will unfold.

Meeting your expectations is not something others owe you. It may be a weakness in them or a mismatch between you; don’t take it personally. Perhaps you can help them to understand that you’re disappointed, or that they might benefit if they learned how to interact in a more responsible manner. But don’t shun them. Don’t allow your heart to be hardened. Allow grace to penetrate your attitude all the time. Choose to accept others as you hope to be accepted, as GOD has accepted you. And forgive.

It’s time we choose grace as GOD has chosen grace for us. It’s time. 

As Paul learned from Jesus, “My grace is sufficient for you” (2 Corinthians 12:9a), so let us walk in grace toward others and accept theirs toward us.

Every blessing and with much prayer, Amen.

Character Development Preparing the Bride of Jesus Christ

Intimacy with GOD and the Grace of GOD in us

Recommended Resource

I am reading a wonderful booklet called “A Call to Intimacy and Truth” by Judit Catan. In it, we are challenged to be completely transparent, totally truthful, and committed to the Holy Spirit and to seeking intimacy with GOD the Father even in the midst of our church, our congregation, our fellow brothers and sisters in a church service. 

I love this booklet because it articulates (well, I’m in Chapter 4 right now, so I must qualify and say, ‘so far as I’ve read’) how we need to allow ourselves to become unreligious in church in all aspects. 

“I believe, intimacy is God’s uppermost desire for us today. He wants us to be easy and intimate with Him and with each other……. It is also a call to genuine fellowship, unguarded and capable of taking risks.” (p7 “A Call to Intimacy and Truth: Pre-requisite for Revival”, Catan, Judit, © 2007)

Behaviour in Church

But what about decorum and politeness and grace? How can we get rid of all protocol (because as Judit does explain, there is a form of religion even in decorum) without being downright rude, since Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 13, love is never rude? 

I believe the answer is so simple: it is by grace toward one another. 

To say we do all things in love is too vague as there are so many things we can do or say and simply attach, “Well, I said a word of correction to you, but it was in love, wasn’t I?”

Grace-covered Lifestyle

Grace is receiving what is undeserved: forgiveness, acceptance, unconditional love.

This grace of GOD, which we receive and are grateful for, comes through His offer of salvation and Jesus’ sacrifice, and extends beyond human love. Grace measures everything — our every action and thought and word — if we allow it to. If we check ourselves and ask “Are we acting with grace?” or if ask GOD, “Is there anything I missed in my behaviour in church or with a brother or sister today?” He may reply “Nothing, well done…” or He may reply, “You could have shown more grace.”

This awareness of a less than perfect grace happened to me recently. I gave a word in a group, referring to the scripture where we are told that if we approach the alter of GOD but have a problem with a brother or sister, we need first to make peace with the brother or sister and only then make the offering to GOD (even now I cannot find the scripture — may a reader kindly and graciously offer it?) As I gave the word I was puzzled but also slightly dissatisfied that this word should be needed to be articulated in this particular group. And so, I was slightly judgmental, not perfectly acting in grace. I didn’t realise this at a the time, but alone with GOD in the evening, I did ask and He said to my spirit, “You did not demonstrate perfect grace.”

The most important aspect to this grace perhaps is not the magnificence of it, nor its power, but that we need it desperately to separate us from our own egos. Whether we experience rebuke or praise, His grace is sufficient to carry us. Our ego will love praise or crave affirmation from man. But His grace fills our spirit and restores our soul so that we do not need anything from man, but only from Yehovah our GOD. As we live and move and have our being, His grace is sufficient. We seek not man’s praise but GOD’s grace.

May we all experience the giving nature of absolute grace, living a lifestyle of grace toward others, even as we have received this from our LORD.

Preparing the Bride of Jesus Christ

Three keys to following Jesus

In my walk with Jesus as a believer, I have realised three keys to following Jesus. These are:

  1. recognising the grace of GOD in my life, 
  2. having a hopeful attitude in life, and 
  3. being aware my perspective toward others must be to put others first.

These are the three keys to my life today, as a follower of Jesus.

Grace of GOD

I have been overwhelmed at the amount of grace GOD has provided as I adjust to the death of my husband. The LORD has upheld me and my teenage son, and others in the family. He has made us stronger than one could ever imagine; we are detached from emotionalism or self pity, wise beyond our experience in how to allow ourselves to grieve without being swamped by the grief, and have been dowsed in the prayer of many others. His grace has been enormous.

Recently, I became particularly aware of His grace through His lifting of some of it.

In the last month, I have been extremely busy with work to do. I have had to focus and have had less time than previously to process all the thoughts, spiritual questions, and paperwork which has arisen with Alan’s passing and my being the sole executor of his estate. When the work arose I thought, “Well, the LORD must think I can manage.”

As I engaged in my responsibilities, I continued to spend time with the LORD, but regrettably less, as I had so much taking up my time. Then I became aware that I was reacting with irritation or impatience as I had been before Alan became ill… part of my flesh which was then burnt away, I thought, through his illness and passing. But here it was again, and I didn’t like it.

I did have confirmation through a faithful and courageous sister in the LORD who spoke to me, gently, that I was not showing thoughtfulness as I might otherwise show. Her word to me was confirmation of what I was already sensing: I need the grace of GOD to live, breathe and move forward in life.

The Lesson: Never underestimate the power and range of God’s grace, and never underestimate its importance and value. 

Hopeful attitude

I made a decision when my husband died to trust the LORD, even though I’d lost my husband.

No matter what happens in life, the sovereignty of GOD will carry us when we allow it.

The Lesson: Proverbs 3:5-6 “Trust in the LORD with all your heart….”

Putting others first

I am a diligent worker, responsible, reliable, organised. That’s all good, but sometimes I get tunnel vision. I am told that I am a loving and a kind person. However, there are plenty of times I can confess to allowing the need to get a job done to take priority over my love toward others. 

Something happened to me during the weeks and months of Alan’s hospitalisation… I relaxed about the “to do’s” in my life. Everything was put aside to engage with Alan, and with the LORD, to secure Alan’s recovery. After Alan passed away, this translated to the care of family and friends in their grieving as well.

By nature I’m pragmatic. While I don’t want to lose the qualities that enable me to get a job done, I don’t want to forfeit the nature I’ve acquired more recently to put the needs of others before the need to get a job done.

The Lesson: God gives us enough hours to do the things that need to be done. We don’t need to lose sensitivity and patience in the process of fulfilling our responsibilities. My nature does not need to be dictated by how much I have to do.

Preparing the Bride of Jesus Christ

A Testimony of Grace

“My grace is sufficient” He reminded me, as I prayed before going to visit my husband in hospital…. Here is a testimony of grace, which followed after.

I had asked the LORD, “Is there anything in particular you want me to say”, asking in advance because it is so hard to sense GOD’s presence in a hospital. “My grace is sufficient” was His response. And I knew also, I must pray for His presence to be with us as I visited.

The visit was short, because my hubby was weak and tired, partly because the doctors had given him a medicine that historically drains his blood pressure, medicine they think he needs (therefore they keep trying), which I can see he does not (because I and others like me have prayed the Lord’s protection against medicine he does not need).

I left the meeting and was full of emotion, primarily frustration at the blindness of the well-meaning, well-trained doctors. What precipitated was a 24 hour period without GOD’s grace, though it would take me overnight to even realise the grace had gone.

The despair I was experiencing in the day that followed the visit to hospital was new in this journey of my husband’s recovery. By nature an emotive person, for the last 2 months, I’d been filled with calm detachment, resolve, and determination. Some of these descriptions come from others who have observed me, some of my own recognition. But suffice to say, I gradually realised my patience, a gift from GOD (Galatians 5:22), had been spent and I was needing His grace so that I would not become hardened toward this situation nor to anyone.

I was tested. 

Half way through the next day, a doctor rang to tell me they were lifting the medication that so badly reduces the blood pressure (Praise the LORD) and were taking a test of an internal organ — one the LORD had confirmed was healed.

After the phone call, the oppression which had hounded me since the night before began to lift. At the 24 hour mark, I realised His grace had returned and I’d been on a journey of discovery: discovery of what it is like without His grace; what it is like for those who lack relationship with the Creator of the Universe; what it is like when I am not bathed in His anointing; the distance from my past, when I didn’t know as much of His grace as I do now — how hard hearted or judgmental I can become when I am not in His grace. 

Yes, I was under attack from the enemy. But I was also being tested: how would I behave without the grace of GOD? Would I fall back into old habits or had my character changed? Was I tempted by my emotions or was I grounded in love for Him and others?

I think I passed the test, although of course that is for the LORD to decide. There were moments in that 24 hours when I had options: I could do what I deemed best, or wait; I could follow my will, or give way to the LORD. 

Hallelujah! I think I did not fail. Even without His evident presence, I think I had sufficient grace. I did not lose my temper or give way to despair. Truly, His grace is all any of us needs.

So, when His grace is present, trust Him; and if His grace has lifted, trust Him even more, for it will return. His grace is sufficient to carry us through. Truly, we can “do all things through Christ who gives [us] strength”. (Philippians 4:13)