Wednesday, 12 February 2020

Understanding Grace


Understanding Grace

“I have blotted out, as a thick cloud, your transgressions and your sins, as a cloud.
Return to Me, for I have redeemed you.” Isaiah 44:22

                Continuing to understand God’s gift of grace what does
it mean to be forgiven of sins past, present and future? There are people who believe that God doesn’t even see the sins we commit as believers since He sees us as completely sanctified and holy in His Son.  Referring to Jeremiah 31:31-34 and Hebrews 8:8-12 “For I will be merciful toward their iniquities, and I will remember their sins no more.” So does this mean God will forgive our sins before we commit them? This is not a teaching in the Bible but what it means is that God forgives us and remembers our sins no more at the time He forgives. Forgiveness is for what we have done not for what we will do.
                When one first believes and confesses their sins, they become a child of God. Yes, people sin after becoming God’s child through faith, but what is different is that God sees you as his because of your confessing act to him. You need not go through full confession of sins and seeking God again, you are His by your initial act of humility and confession. God has received you as His own because of your confession of past sins, and God does not let you go even if you do something against his teachings. You are held accountable to him, but he listens and will forgive. God wants you to be happy in life. But you need also to know again, you belong to God and are His.
Discussion Questions: 
What do you believe about forgiveness? Do you need to do a full confession of all sins as you seek to live His way. Does being forgiven entitle you to a passes on future sins Why/ not?
PRAYER
Gracious God you forgive us and never let us go and so we are amazed by this. We think we need more punishment but through your love you keep us grounded and focused. Help us we pray to share our love and show us who we are as we relate to you. We ask in Jesus’ name. Amen.
Reflection inspired by Michael L. Brown, The Grace Controversy, Florida: Charisma House Group, 2016. p.17-35


Saturday, 1 February 2020

Understanding Grace


Understanding Grace

                In our modern theological approach to knowing that we
have received forgiveness of sins, how do we understand God’s grace?  The gift of grace from God to all people is easy to say but difficult to fully comprehend because there is nothing else like it experienced by people ever. One must be clear that when one experiences God’s grace it is something unique from Someone who deeply comes and cares for us and continues to guide our lives.
                God’s grace may be defined as “His merciful, enabling help, His ongoing empowerment, His continued working on our behalf. It is His continued working on our behalf and speaks of the past present and future action. According to A.M. Hunter, “Grace means primarily the free, forgiving love of God in Christ to sinners and the operation of that love in the lives of Christians.”
                The grace of God is foundational to the gospel message: John 1:17 For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. We are justified by this grace from God and given a not guilty verdict over our sins because Jesus died for us. But it is up to us to live out our lives with grace and hope. God accepted us because of what Jesus did. For when we openly receive God’s grace we stop doing sinful things because Jesus died, took our shame and guilt, paid the penalty for our sin and took what we deserved and set us free. When we first put our trust in Him we become righteous and God’s beloved children.
                But God’s grace is not a one- time act. God continues to deal with those who believe and this grace presently is at work in all. We are called to receive the gift of God’s grace and we are to serve God through His grace. For we are not only forgiven of sin through grace, but we can now live above sin. God transforms lives through His grace.   We are also give future grace. God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ in order that in the coming times he might show us the riches of his grace.
Discussion Questions: 
When you reflect on this word GRACE, what comes to your mind and heart? We know the beloved hymn calls it “amazing” but there is so much more than this. As we learn and understand ‘grace’ to not only be a one-time gift and blessing from God, how does this continuing gift help you in your day to day living?
People have different ideas of grace—being a person rather than a ‘thing’ definition of noun. How do you define God’s gift as you have experienced and continue to receive?
PRAYER
God you are the giver of this precious gift of grace and yet so often we fail to fully understand what this gift really means. As we reflect in the coming weeks on your ‘grace” we pray that you would open our hearts to receive and bless us n new ways. Reveal your Spirit to us as we continue to receive your grace.  We ask this as we offer to you our hearts and minds. We ask in Jesus’ name. Amen.
Reflection inspired by Michael L. Brown, The Grace Controversy, Florida: Charisma House Group, 2016. p.2-16.


Tuesday, 14 January 2020

Behold I make all things new, beginning with you! Revelation 21:5


Wednesday, January 15, 2020
Behold I make all things new, beginning with you!   Revelation 21:5
Happy New Year!
                We are now half-way into our first month of this new year 2020.
If we take a moment to stop and reflect upon the beginning of this year and the events which occurred and are ongoing we might wonder what the rest of this year will bring. There has been targeted killing of an Iranian leader, an airplane crash under unknown circumstances killing all on board, and continuing wild fires in Australia wiping out forests, animals and homes of many people. Things do not look good! Yet what we must remember is that throughout history there have been many turbulent times—and people lived, survived and continued to tell the stories of love and life. This is what we must do as well. There is hope and love in this world because there are many people who believe and have faith in Jesus Christ as Saviour and Lord.
                What is it that calls you to believe? How do you worship God your creator, Jesus your Saviour and the Spirit which moves amongst us. Are you sitting by yourself looking outside in these days of mist and fog, snow and ice? Are you wondering  what life is about and what this year will bring to you and your family?
                These are very valuable questions to ask but the answers are not easy. One response might be simply why you are taking on the weight of the world when God who made us and the world is better capable and better informed in what we are striving to be and do? Why not trust the creator to help us through each and every empty box on the calendar? Every day God speaks to your heart but often we are not listening, are slowing down enough to hear what God is calling us to say and do. But if we are willing to listen to God we must make the effort and say to Him “I am yours” not only this day, but every day.
                Our new year is well on tis way- how are you progressing this year? Do you need comfort, renewed strength, hope, healing, assistance in finding your way back to God? Prayer makes a difference and as we share with God our concerns for ourselves and for others God will answer. God will answer- we need to be patient. God’s answers may not be what we want to hear—Yes, No or not yet; but God knows best.
                Let’s begin 2020 with a new vision- a new hope—God will lead the way so that every empty box on our calendars will be filled with blessings, challenges and hope. Let us rejoice as we seek to know him and   strive to live Christ’s way.

PRAYER God of grace and love we praise and thank you for 2020 filled with hope, challenge and opportunities. We pray that your Spirit will touch our hearts and we might be grow in faith as we seek to live Christ’s way. Enable us to draw close to you. Show us your way and call us to pray to you. We ask in Jesus’ name. Amen.


Wednesday, 18 December 2019

“Baby.. lying in a manger” Luke 2:1-20



“Baby.. lying in a manger” Luke 2:1-20   

                One week today, the world will stop at least parts of the world will stop; maybe a portion of some countries, maybe some people in your city will stop and just be with family and friends for one of the most cherished and celebrated days of the year.. Christmas. Blessings to you as you prepare to celebrate this day with family and friends and reach out to those who may not be able to celebrate in the same way as you will this year. And may God be with those who our grieving and mourning those as their loved ones are spending their first Christmas with Jesus in heaven.
                But what does this all mean for us in 2019? For centuries this date has been set aside to make it special, to exchange gifts to enjoy the company of family and friends not seen in weeks, months or years. It is a time to share traditions passed along from one country to another, from one generation to another and a time to establish new traditions as families begin to grow older with specific wants and needs.
                Maybe your tradition includes the reading of the Christmas story from Luke 2. Or maybe the beloved poem “A Visit from St. Nicholas” adds to your family time. For many people, it is the evening before Christ’s birthday that calls them back to the church where they went as children, or where they have never been before. Maybe it is the Spirit of Christ that is warming the hearts of people to look to what was done in the past and move to something new—because there is a yearning for a simpler life because something or Someone is missing.
                This Someone is God’s gift of love wrapped in a manger. It is the baby who lies in a feed trough, trying to rest as his parents keep him warm and clean in a barn crowded with transport animals. It is the baby who sleeps, cries, eats and does what babies do opens the hearts of all who show love. And those who shared their love when this Baby Jesus was born were not family members but strangers sent by angels to go and see, worship and tell. They left their sheep in the field and saw the new parents resting with the baby. There they witnessed God’s Gift to the world just as the angels had told them. They also left rejoicing and filled with God’s Spirit so much that their joy overflowed.
                What about you? When you hear the angels’ words” Glory be to God in the highest and on earth peace.” How will you respond? These shepherds were not only the first ones to hear, they were the first messengers of the story. They knelt before Jesus and then stood before others and proclaimed Christ’s glory. What an amazing perspective the shepherds told to passersby! What an experience we still hear about over 2000 years ago!
                May the peace, joy, hope, love of the Baby in the Manger lead you to worship with those who believe in his coming to earth as a baby, who believe Jesus to be the Christ of the cross and the Saviour of the world.  Worship and tell others this good news in Jesus name and to His glory!

A reminder: Glenwood United Church, 1825 Grand Marais Road West, Windsor, ON will share in worship of Christ’s birth on Christmas Eve, Dec 24 at 7 p.m. Come and worship, be moved by God’s Spirit!
[Inspired by Bill Crowder, “Windows on Christmas: Biblical Perspectives on the Birth of Jesus” Our Daily Bred Ministries, 2019]
[NEXT REFLECTION Wednesday January 8, 2020]