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“There, But for the Grace of God, Go I.”

This quote is creditted to a man by the name ofJohn Bradford , a Protestant who was martyred in England in the 16th century.
On seeingseveral criminals being led into the scaffold he remarked, ‘there but for the grace of God’ goes John Bradford. His words without his name are still very common today.

I originally heard this phrase as a response to learning of someone else’s mistake or sin.  It carried the message, “Take care not to point fingers or judge; you have your own struggles with imperfection and sin.”

John Bradford, however, was expressing gratitude for another day alive and the understanding that God was having mercy on him.

It seems that we could apply this both ways in our modern world:
It is true that we need God’s grace to live holy lives.
It is also true that we do well not to judge others or look on their circumstances without compassion and mercy.
What happens to one group of people can happen to another.
I am thinking of the ban on people from countries that are largely Muslim who want to travel to the United States.  Brothers and sisters, the Bible says that we will face persecution.  We are as vulnerable as Muslims, Iraqis, Sudanese, Syrians and all of the other people who are being denied entry, or even detained.  That is why we must stand with them in resisting this injustice.
“There but for the grace of God go I.”  Next time, it could be Christians.

“I’m Gonna Let It Shine”

There once was a lamp
That was very bright;
Made from gold and jewels,
It gave off beautiful light.
The family who owned it
Were filled with fear and doubt;
They hid the lovely lamp
Until it went out.

 

Another lamp stood
Serenely and tall
In front of a building
Where it lit the way for all.
There were many ideas
Of how the lamp should be
So it was remodeled
Till no one could see.

 

The Giver of Light
Came to town one day.
He noticed that both lamps
Were failing to light the way.
One was hidden and cold;
The other compromised;
Not able to be used;
Worthless and despised.

 

He worked with each lamp,
Restoring its flame;
Then he told the people
They must never be the same.
Freed from isolation,
Each lamp stood in its place,
Uncompromised and real,
Shining with God’s grace.

 

Isolation kills;
Compromise destroys.
The words of this story
Come with a challenging voice:
Let God’s light within you
Shine brightly every day;
With Him as Source and Goal,
Walk in His true way.

Two Voices

The noise of the world
Calls me to a place
Filled with anger, fear and distress;
But a stronger voice
Of mercy and grace
Draws me close, where I am blessed.

 

I can make the choice
To be in that space
Where I must endure the test;
Or I can retreat
To seek the Lord’s face
And enter into His rest.

 

It’s tempting enough
To run in the race
That forces me to impress;
But then there’s the way
With a steady pace
Found in the One I confess.

 

I’ll forsake the noise
And reject each trace
Of corruption from my breast;
Surrendered to Christ,
In His warm embrace
At home in Him, life is best.

 

JESUS

Jesus, the Hope for all who are broken:
In depression or sorrow;
Alone and afraid;
He is the way to a brighter tomorrow;
His love for you is ever displayed.

 

Jesus, the Answer for all on the Earth:
Who labor, study or play;
Who guard and defend;
He is the Author of life in every way;
Healer, Redeemer, Shepherd and Friend.

 

Jesus, the Prince of Peace to every soul:
Whether resting or in strife
Or seeking His Face;
He alone is the Way, the Truth and the Life;
Thanks be to Jesus, Fountain of Grace.

A NEW COMMANDMENT

One of them,
a lawyer, asked Him a question, testing Him, “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?”  And 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 great and foremost commandment.  “The second is like it, ‘YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.’  “On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.” Matthew 22:35-40

“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another.  John 13:34

“Just as the Father has loved Me, I have also loved you; abide in My love.  This is My commandment, that you love one another, just as I have loved you.” John 15:9, 12
I have often been puzzled about the words, “A new commandment,” in John 13.
As seems to be the case with every christian I know, I have been well steeped in  teachings based on the two great commandments sited by Jesus in Matthew.  I have learned that I am to love God with all I am and have; that I am to love my neighbor as myself.
The challenge is, this usually means coming up with something on my own strength, which is impossible:  Apart from Holy Spirit, I simply have nothing to give.
Then, I heard a teaching that really made sense:
Instead of being called on to love as a matter of duty or obedience; according to the law, we are now brought into the New Covenant, which has a new commandment:  Abide; allow God to fill us; then share with those around us.  We don’t act on our own strength or resources; we receive first; then give.
I have often heard teachings about the need for us to love ourselves so we can love our neighbor.  That seemed right to me.  Now, however, I am thinking that part of the Good News is, in Jesus, we can love others, even while we are still healing, learning to love ourselves and growing.

I am reminded of Philippians 4:19.  In its context, it usually refers to material requirements.  For me, however, it has expanded to mean every need, spiritual, soulful, relational, financial, vocational, physical and material:
“God shall supply all your needs, according to His riches in glory.”
He is the one who supplies the love that I can then express to my neighbor.  There is consistency in that:  Love is dependent on Jesus’ faithful provision; not my strength, mood or ability.  How cool is that!

TRUST

What does it mean to put trust in God?
Is it limited to what we understand,
Or is He greater than all we could ever think, imagine and ask?
Does He really know the tiniest details of our lives?
Is He personally interested in each of us?
Is it true that He is never caught off guard or surprised because He didn’t know something would happen?
Is He the omnipotent One for real??

The answer is simple on one hand:
All that He is is true; trusting Him is as easy as letting go in happy surrender.
Putting trust in Him even takes His power, however:
Apart from Him, we can do nothing at all, which means the hard part is…
trusting in Him.
Ask Jesus and He will give you the grace you need.

KNOWING

It’s only in knowing God
That we can know ourselves.
We are made in His image;
To reflect His glory
and walk in love with Him.

He is Papa Creator
In Him we live and move.
He fashioned our inmost parts;
He sees into our souls;
He knows our every thought.

To live as His beloved
Is wonderful indeed!
In Him is every goodness;
He alone fulfills us;
We are His forever.

JESUS, MY SOURCE AND GOAL

Arms of love are opened wide,
Inviting me to come in;
To know the way of truth and light,
Since I have been born again.

“Come, dear one, and be refreshed
Partake of My Heavenly food,
That heals your soul and warms your breast;
That teaches you I am good.”

In God’s Presence I am filled
His abundance strengthens me.
My doubts dissolve, all fears are stilled;
I have been healed and set free.

As I live and work each day,
I have everything I need
To reflect His glorious way;
In attitude, word and deed.

Not in my own strength, but His,
Do I love and serve Him so.
The Alpha and Omega is
Jesus, my Source and my Goal.

BUMPING ELBOWS

You are my neighbor
And I am yours;
We share common ground
And stories.

I see you each day
As you go by
On your way to work;
We say, “hi.”

We are also friends,
Living so near
To one another;
WE are peers.

As we bump elbows
In our shared place,
God’s love becomes clear;
We know His grace.

GRACE

Glorious Father,
You sent Your begotten Son
To save and heal us.

Redeeming Savior,
You delivered each of us
From sin, ills and death.

All the world is free,
Empowered to walk with You
To answer Your call.

Christ, Anointed One,
We love to know Your presence,
As we worship You.

Ever loving God,
Your compassion never fails;
You reign forever!