Monday, 30 January 2023

Committing to discipleship

Dietrich Bonhoeffer writes: “The fellowship between Jesus and his disciples covered every aspect of their daily life. Within the fellowship of Christ’s disciples, the life of each individual was part of the life of the brotherhood (sic). This common life bears living testimony to the concrete humanity of the Son of God. ........ In the Christian life the individual disciple and the body of Jesus belongs inseparably together. (The Cost of Discipleship p.284).

The Church continues to struggle with the difference between discipleship and membership. Jesus was explicit in his call to make disciples (Matthew 28:18-20), but we have been discovering for centuries that this is much harder to put into practice. We have neat systems to build a membership base, but we keep wrestling with how to keep following Jesus, just as his disciples would.

John 6: 65- 68 - "He went on to say, “This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless the Father has enabled them.”

From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him.

“You do not want to leave too, do you?” Jesus asked the Twelve.

Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and to know that you are the Holy One of God.”

Thought: What do you understand by the difference between a disciple and a church member?

Living in Grace


Sunday, 29 January 2023

It doesn't happen automatically!

How can we prepare ourselves for growth in Christian faith? Can this even be achieved or measured? Regardless of our answers to these questions, the one thing I know is that 'growing in grace' doesn't happen by osmosis. We have to be intentional about it. Read the following words and see if this makes some sense:

“At the heart of it [John Wesley’s thoughts on Christian Perfection] was his conviction that growth in grace is not accidental or automatic. One does not wander or stumble into maturity…The key to Christian growth is not feeling but faithfulness.” – Dr Steve Harper

There is so much depth to this quote, but I am drawn to the part which insists that our growth doesn't come from something 'accidental' or 'automatic.'

Thought: What strikes you about the words from Dr Harper?

Colossians 1:10 - "so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God."

Living in Grace


Friday, 27 January 2023

Let us spur one other on

"And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds." - Hebrews 10:24

Spurring one another on is an interesting thought, especially if we think about what a ‘SPUR’ really is. A horse SPUR is a device with a small spike on the end or a spiked wheel, that is worn on a horse rider's heel. It is used for urging a horse forward or encouraging it to listen to instructions. 

I am not sure if we would like one another to use a spiked wheel to encourage us in our faith, but I think we understand the sentiment. There are times when we need our Christian family to strongly keep us focussed and on track.  

Another definition of the word 'spur', is perhaps a little less painful - it is to “give an incentive or encouragement to (someone).”

Thought: Who needs an encouraging word today? How are you able to spur someone onto 'love and good deeds?'

Living in Grace


Thursday, 26 January 2023

The Hound of Heaven

In my weekly Bible Study, I mentioned the poem by Francis Thompson (1890) entitled Hound of Heaven. The 182-line poem captures the idea of a 'hound' relentlessly chasing down a hare. This idea becomes the core reflection of how God pursues us - relentlessly. Obviously, we are not rabbits that are about to be eaten by a hungry God (that's not the point at all), but rather, that God loves us so much that he runs after us until we notice Him and turn to him. This is how the poem starts:

I fled Him, down the nights and down the days;
I fled Him, down the arches of the years;
I fled Him, down the labyrinthine ways
Of my own mind; and in the mist of tears
I hid from Him, and under running laughter.
Up vistaed hopes I sped;
And shot, precipitated,
Adown Titanic glooms of chasm├Ęd fears,
From those strong Feet that followed, followed after.

Thought: Sometimes we run away from God because we fear that he is chasing us to harm us, but what if the Spirit of God is actually pursuing us, in order to call us back to our Beloved?

Song of Songs 2:8 - Listen! My beloved! Look! Here he comes, leaping across the mountains, bounding over the hills.

Living in Grace

Wednesday, 25 January 2023

Making mistakes

"A life spent making mistakes is not only more honourable, but more useful than a life spent doing nothing." - George Bernard Shaw

It is easy to point out someone else's mistakes, but what we may never know is the huge lessons they are learning along the way. We are all a 'work in progress' and so perhaps we need to allow for each other's frailties. 

Paul wrote to Timothy to offer him some advice on what could help him live a Godly life:

2 Timothy 3:14-17 - Every part of Scripture is God-breathed and useful one way or another—showing us truth, exposing our rebellion, correcting our mistakes, training us to live God’s way.

Living in Grace


Tuesday, 24 January 2023

At the Crossroads

When we reach a crossroads in our lives, we sometimes struggle to know which way to turn. This can be a trying time in our Faith journey, but one which we need to persevere through. At times like this I am reminded of the words of the great hymn Guide me, O Thou Great Jehovah

May these words also offer you some hope and encouragement today.

Guide me, O though Great Jehovah
Pilgrim through this barren land
I am weak, but you are mighty:
Hold me with your powerful hand.

Thought: May the bread of heaven be our food and nourishment during our time in the wilderness.

Living in Grace


Monday, 23 January 2023

Hiding from God?

Genesis 3:8 - Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the Lord God among the trees of the garden.

What makes us hide from the Lord?

In the Genesis account we see that for Adam and Eve it was their shame and fear of what the Lord would say about their sin. For us it could be many things, but we still often try to hide from God, when we choose to go our own way.

Thought: Perhaps we should not be hiding from God, but rather hiding in God.

"Those who live in the shelter of the Most High will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty." - Psalm 91:1

Living in Grace