Bible · Christian · Faith · Grace · Jesus

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every perfect gift is from above’ (James 1:17 ESV)

Being a Marvel fan, I tend to watch most of the films or television series. There is a relatively recent one called ‘The Gifted’ (Fox Broadcasting Company – originally aired 02/10/17) where many of the people that are the stars of the show are referred to as ‘Mutants’. D.C. refers to these people as ‘Metahumans’. But whatever they are called, are they really gifted? They may have certain powers, to create fire of bend metal etc, but are these really gifts that a lot of people would want?

John Newton (1725 – 1807) wrote the wonderful Christian hymn about a gift that is freely available to anyone and everyone who may want (or really need it), and all you have to do is claim it. Amazing Grace; and it basically tells us that no matter what we have done, or what we have lost, or how bad we think we are, God is never too far away to help us and rescue us; now that is Amazing Grace.

The greatest gift that has ever been given to anybody, did not consist of large perfectly cut diamonds, or smooth, perfectly coloured emeralds, or even large amounts of gold or silver; the greatest gift ever given, was a life!

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life’ (John 3:16 NIV – emphasis mine).

Every good gift, every perfect gift is from above’ (James 1:17 ESV).

When people buy you a gift for your birthday or Christmas, do they spend hours or even days choosing it, walking from shop to shop trying to imagine if you will like the gift? Maybe they do not, unless you have absolutely amazing friends, but still, probably not.

When my daughter was younger, one year she saved some of her money from her birthday, and brought myself and her mother a bar of chocolate each; there was nothing special about the chocolate (apart from it was Galaxy), she did not wrap it in amazingly coloured paper with bows or ribbons, she did write a long elegant letter telling of her love for us, but what was special was the way that she did it. Young as she was, she gave of her own, she did not ask for any help with this, she did not ask for any money, or anything for that matter, and she did it in secret, without telling us.

When God sent his perfect gift to us, Jesus, he knew exactly how bad we were as a race of people, and;

Just at the right time… … Christ died for the ungodly’ (Romans 5:6 NIV).

God’s timing is perfect, and what he does is perfect, and the reason that the timing is just right, spot-on, perfect, is that he knows everything that we do;

O LORD, you have searched me and known me!’ (Psalm 139:1 ESV).

Yet you know me, LORD; you see me and test my thoughts about you’ (Jeremiah 12:3 NIV).

There is nothing that we can do that God does not already know about. I know that may sound extremely worrying to some, but try not to worry too much, because there is also nothing that you can do that will make God love you any less.

God sent Jesus as a gift to the human race, Jesus would come and show us how we should live, and then, ultimately, he would die for our sins.

Ellis J Crum wrote about Jesus coming to die for us, he wrote;

He paid a debt he did not owe, I owed a debt I could not pay’ (Ellis J Crum – 1977).

So really what we should be saying, or rather shouting out to God, is a massive thank you;

Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift’ (2 Corinthians 9:15 NIV).

The gift we get from God, through Jesus, is eternal hope for an eternal life, with Jesus. But the gift we get when we accept Jesus as our Lord, Friend, Redeemer, Teacher, Rescuer, Counsellor, Leader, Saviour, needs to be used.

We receive Grace and Redemption for our past sins, so we should also give others grace and redemption for what they have or may have done against us. In this way, just as Paul reminded Timothy in one of the letters written to him, we will;

fan into flame the gift of God’ (2 Timothy 1:6 NIV).

In his previous letter to Timothy, Paul had reminded Timothy to devote himself to public preaching, teaching, and reading of the scripture (1 Timothy 4:13), and he also reminded him not to do something;

Do not neglect your gift, which was given to you’ (1 Timothy 4:14 NIV).

Now concerning spiritual gifts… … … Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord’ (1 Corinthians 1 & 4-5 ESV).

You can go on-line and do tests to see what gifts you have, as you may not think that you have any, but we all have them, eternal life being the one most people think of, but you may be called to serve God and be a teacher or preacher, you may be called to serve God in a worship group, or with the youth of your church, or as an organiser, or a some-one who meets and greets people at the door, or a cleaner, a chair stacker, a person who hands out Bibles etc. every position is just as important as the person who stands at the front and preaches, but also pulls all the various elements together.

There are many, many ways in which we could each serve God, and you may not even feel ready or able to serve.  Remember that God does not always call those who are fully ready and equipped for whatever challenge is presented, but he will ensure that if he calls you, that you are equipped.

As I sit here writing this text, I know that the ability I have to write, is a gift from my God, a gift I cherish, the ability to say to others through this blog, what God has put on my heart.

Many years ago, when doing a Bible study as a teenager, we were looking at time, and something was said then that has stayed with me;

Yesterday is history;
Tomorrow is a mystery;
Today is a gift, that is why it is called the present

We all have gifts, and some are more important than others, but the most important thing of all to remember is;

the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord’ (Romans 6:23 ESV – emphasis mine).

 

Equips the called.jpg

I am broken at Your feet
Like an alabaster jar
Every piece of who I am
Laid before Your majesty

I will bow my life
At Your feet
At Your feet
My lips
So lost for words
Will kiss Your feet
Kiss Your feet

Oh the gravity of You
Draws my soul unto its knees
I will never be the same
I am lost and found in You

Alabaster

Rend Collective

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Father we thank you for giving us such an amazing gift, your Son. We realise that we do not deserve it, but want to live our lives like your Son Jesus did. Lord we want to be better people, and with your help and strength, we can try. Lord help us to be better day by day we pray.

Amen

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Bible · Christian · Faith · Grace · Jesus

Poor in Spirit – or POOR?

Blessed are the poor in spirit’ (Matthew 5:3 NIV)

In what appears to be Jesus’ inaugural address to the disciples (Matthew 5:1-2), we hear him say that in our lives, we should feel ‘blessed’ (Matthew 5:3).

Jesus does not only say the word once or twice, but nine times in all, and each time he says the word, he does so with yet another different reason for us to feel blessed about our lives.

But in the Biblical context, what exactly does it mean to be blessed, and what does it mean to be poor in spirit, and should we strive to be poor in spirit?

The Billy Graham Evangelistic Association explains that to be poor in spirit does not necessarily mean to be ‘poor’, or to live a meagre life, but it means that we must, ‘be humble in our spirits. If you put the word “humble” in place of the word “poor,” you will understand what He meant’ (https://billygraham.org.uk/answer/what-does-it-mean-to-be-poor-in-spirit-as-jesus-said-we-ought-to-be/ – accessed 18/01/19).

What it means, is that we should not be self-seeking, but be, and live, a humble life.

Blessed, is a literal translation from the Greek ‘makarios’ ( μακάριος), and it means to be happy. Strong’s number for the word is ‘g3107’ and the definition for the word says;

a prolonged form of the poetical μακάρ makar (meaning the same); supremely blest; by extension, fortunate, well off; – blessed happy (x-ier).

So another translation of the verse could be;

Oh the happiness of those who have a humble spirit, the kingdom of heaven will belong to them‘.

Being ‘poor in spirit’ could also refer to being humble (Billy Graham Evangelistic Association), but it could also refer to the understanding that we as a broken people, desperately need God in our lives, that without him, we cannot live the way that God wants us to, without any help we are unable to perform what scripture says we should be doing; that without Jesus, we simply cannot do anything (John 15:5), that we really need his strength in us, and we know;

He strengthens those who are weak’ (Isaiah 40:29 GNB), which is good news for me, as I regularly fail in many various ways, and some that are really spectacular failures.

They who wait on the LORD shall renew their strength’ (Isaiah 40:31 ESV).

So if we wait for God to show us, and rely on him, then our strength will be restored so that we can try again, to live as he wants us to, so we can really be blessed, life is all about second chances.

In 1964, Ken Dodd released a song, called Happiness.

Happiness, happiness, the greatest gift that I possess’ (Bill Anderson – Columbia records).

Happiness is a real gift, and it is also important to life, it makes it all worthwhile. We need to be and be able to feel, happy, and Jesus came to give us that. By dying on the cross in our place!

We can now be happy that Jesus came to give us a second chance for eternal redemption, and if necessary, a second-second chance etc.

We can be happy that we now have an eternal hope that will end with us living with Jesus, for he has already gone to prepare a place for us (John 14:2).

We can be happy that we did not deserve any of this, yet he still freely gives it, for, ‘Christ died for the ungodly’ (Romans 5:6 NIV).

Jesus died for the people that we used to be!

But that is the important thing to remember, he died for ‘the person we used-to-be’. We are now different, we are now in relationship with Jesus, and we are now new;

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he [or she] is a new creation’ (2 Corinthians 5:17 ESV – emphasis mine).

So are we blessed?

Do we feel blessed?

‘Makarios’, happy, blessed!

Could this also be a translation of the verse?

How happy are those people who understand their dire need for the One-True-God, and that the need for God to be in their life, and those who know that they need the love and guidance that only he can give them, and the strength to ‘carry on‘, that comes only from him, ‘for theirs is the kingdom of God’ (Matthew 5:3 ESV).

HOW BLESSED ARE YOU?

HOW BLESSED YOU ARE!

 

poor-in-spirit

 

There is no limit to Your power
There is no stopping what You plan
You give us faith to move the mountains
And hope to dream again
We see the fires of revival
The darkness giving way to light
The glory of Your grace advancing
Let it burn up the night
Let it burn up the night

Let the walls come down in Jesus’ name
Let the lost be found in Jesus’ name
Let the church arise
to shine Your light to the world
Shine Your light

Your house forever undivided
All Your sons and daughters one
At the cross we are united
Our hope is in the blood
Our hope is in Your blood

Salvation’s tide is rising
As all Your people seek Your face
Your life a river flowing
To wash our sin and shame away

Salvation’s Tide

M. Maher, J. Ingram, B. Younker, K. Stanfil

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Father we thank you for second chances, and for second-second chances. We know that we do not deserve what you so freely offer to us, but we know that we really, really need it in our lives. Our lives were empty before you came in and changed us, help us to really live out our blessed life and shine for you.

Amen