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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.

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How Different?

ode_to_moonlight_by_dvl

How different are we from our main societies;
Cultural expectations,
Accepted norms?

How different is light from darkness?

“Thus your light will shine before the children of men that they may see your good works, and may glorify your Father who is in Heaven.”
Matthew 5:16 (Aramaic Bible in Plain English)

Different

Dear Brothers and Sisters:

I am writing to exhort you today.

We are called to be holy, even as God is holy – to be set apart for Him; different.

That means that we will be the minority.

When the general society encourages sex outside of marriage, abortion and compromise in terms of dress, speech, morality, values or  socialization, we will not be able to participate.
When we are called to tolerate or accept things that God has clearly called sin, we will have to decline.

We are called to give, shine, love, encourage, serve and bless.
That means we don’t curse, “see to Number 1 first and foremost…”

What we get in return is our true identity:  A holy nation, a royal priesthood, people set apart for and in the Most High God.
We get a different inheritance, filled with wholeness and prosperity.
Most of all, we live with Jesus forever.

Applying all of this can seem difficult – so much “gray!”  True enough.  That is why we have the Holy Spirit – Helper, counselor, TEacher, Comfort, to live in each of our hearts.

Don’t know how to think or what to do?  Ask; you will receive all that you need – the answer and the grace to obey.
Do you feel discouraged, afraid or alone, cry out:  The One who sticks closer than a brother is with you always.
Is shame or self doubt nagging at you?  Look to Papa, who knows you fully and loves you completely.

DIFFERENT

One day, many years ago, I died.
Jesus came into my heart and I was born again.  My life is now hidden in Him.
My old self was removed; I was given new clothes:  Compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, patience, love; a garment of praise, beauty for ashes, a crown of joy.
Now, as a daughter of the Most High, a member of Christ’s Body, I live a life that is different from the world.  Instead of holding grudges or getting revenge, I forgive.  Peace rules my heart; anger, worry, bitterness and malice have no place there.  Society’s values no longer govern my thinking and choices; God’s commandments are my foundation.
I, along with all of my brothers and sisters in Christ, am different; set apart to be and live like Jesus, in the power of the Holy Spirit.
This is the way of Your people, oh God, by Your grace.  Amen.

 

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Based on verses in Colossians 3:
Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry.
You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived. But now you must also rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator. Here there is no Gentile or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all. Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly
as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

EXCELLENCE

Excellence calls us to be our best:
To immitate God
In how we live,
Who we are,
What we give.
Excellence sets the standard higher
According to God,
His living Word,
Birthed in us;
Seen and heard.

 

Excellence directs our eyes to Him:
The Most Holy One;
Worthy of praise
and worship
All our days.