REFLECTIONS ON GOD’S GOSPEL GRACE

VICKY PHOTO

VICKY STEPHENSON, Contributor for today’s blog post

Welcome back, it was amazing to see so many of us gathered on Monday, new faces and old friends. It is great to be working together looking at God’s word and encouraging one another in grace.
Huge thank you to Anne and Kathy for putting together such a wonderful evening to catch up and be inspired with all that God has for us this year.
I was really challenged by the teaching on Monday and here are some brief reflections that I had.

God’s gospel grace is something I find so easy at a head level and so hard at a heart level. I can totally get the grace of forgiveness of sins at conversion;

’Twas grace that taught my heart to fear,
And grace my fears relieved;
How precious did that grace appear
The hour I first believed.

It can’t really be put any clearer than the way John Newton wrote all those years go. I understand this and accept it giving thanks and praise to God.

BUT fresh gospel grace each day after so many years of being a Christian? Believe me, I totally know I need it! However the issue lies with whether I fully trust God will give it to me.
You see the issue that really hit home on Monday that I am half Amy and half Imogen and very rarely Cindy (if you have no idea what I am talking about see Kathy’s notes from the talk on Monday on this website). I spend half my life striving to try and please God and the other half feeling guilty I have failed. So fresh grace every day seems very distant.

I think about how annoying it is when I have to ask the kids for the 10th time not to leave their shoes in the middle of the kitchen floor; or how irritating it is to find that yet again all the mugs at work are dirty. Do you find it frustrating when your husband, sister, mother does that thing which really grates on you? So how must it be for God, when everyday, for the last twenty years, He has had to remind me to see people how he sees them…to curb my impatience, tame my tongue and so much more beside. Doesn’t He just get fed up of me and say “she has had her chance and she has blown it?”

1cc19207f9a7be506aef9a6dac205b3bNo He doesn’t!! How amazing is that.

Lamentations 3:22-23 (ESV)
22 The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;
his mercies never come to an end;
23 they are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
He loves us and forgives us day after day, we don’t ever deserve it, it is all from His great love. He forgives us continuously without end, just He as expects us to forgive others.
Matthew 18:21-22 (ESV)
21 Then Peter came up and said to him, “Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?” 22 Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy-seven times.
SO the challenge for me this month is to preach God’s gospel grace to myself each morning, to trust in His forgiveness and to rest in His joy. By doing this, I pray His spirit will work in me to slowly transform me into the woman He wants me to be able to do all the good works he has prepared for me.
Ephesians 2:10 (ESV)
10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

 

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2017-2018 WOMEN’S BIBLE STUDY- LIVING OUT GOD’S GRACE

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It is a wonder and joy when we come to faith in Jesus through the gift of God’s amazing grace. Becoming Christ’s follower, though, is only the beginning! It is also about growing and becoming more like Jesus. It is hard work, and that’s where we can turn from His grace to works and get off track.

In this year’s women’s bible study, we will explore the grace of the gospel which brings us to faith in Christ and is the same grace which motivates us to live out our salvation; how to grow to maturity and holiness in Christ. To help us, we will consider Jesus’ life as he lived out the cycle of God’s grace while on earth.

If you’ve struggled with the Christian disciplines, and have found yourself weary, confused, or burnt out, this study will comfort and challenge you as you learn to rest in God’s grace in your journey to become more like Christ.

Our first study is MONDAY, 25 SEPTEMBER at 7:30pm in the church hall. The hand outs are available in hard copy at the churches and on this website where you click on 2017-2018 LIVING OUT GOD’S GRACE BIBLE STUDY QUESTIONS.  If you need a study buddy or don’t know what one is in this context, please see ANNE HOLMES. The guidelines are also on this website.

We hope to see you there!

ONE ANOTHERING IN FAMILY

VICKY PHOTO

VICKY STEPHENSON, Contributor for today’s blog post

We are about to begin a new study series. But I have been reflecting on our study last year in “One Anothering.” What an amazing year we had! It has been a real privilege to grow together as sisters in Christ; one anothering each other and being held together in love. Friendships have deepened and new ones have been made. There has been tears and laughter; food shared and journeys taken together.

BUT what now! How do we continue to take it forward? Holding each other accountable and taking hard honest looks at our relationships with our girl friends is a great start. But is there even more?

What would it look like if we took all we had learnt about one anothering and applied it to our families!! Seriously having deep supportive honest relationships with our sisters in Christ is tough but how about living out the one anothering aspect with our whole family, accepting one another! bearing with one another!

How would this fit with the goals Kathy set out for us?

1. PERSONAL: as God matures our character into Christ’s likeness more every day;
2.CHURCH: building each other up in the body of Christ;
3.WITNESS: as the world around us sees the light of Christ in our lives together.

Personal
Well I would say having children has definitely been the most character building thing that has happened in my life. The joy, the stress, the constant pressures, the never ending washing and the rewards of hugs! I have shouted, cried, and laughed since we were blessed by children in levels not seen since hormonal teenage years. So how much more could God grow me if I took seriously the command to encourage one another. If instead of nagging and shouting about room tidying and not fighting with one another; I looked at ways to encourage them; to build them up to be the amazing people God has made.
Church
Would the body of Christ be strengthened if I worked on praying for one another with in my family? Would my husband be built up and supported to enable him to do the work in the church God has for him if I committed to faithfully praying for him and the work he is doing? Some of you are privileged to worship along side members of your wider family; fathers, mother, sisters, cousins- through bearing with one another and committing to biblically grow those relationships, the whole fellowship would be built up.
Witness
This I think is the area where committing to one anothering in our wider family would have most impact. Every day I see the effect that broken family relationships can have on peoples physical, mental and spiritual health. By modelling accepting our children even when they make different choices to us, we send a powerful message to the world- that it is all held by God’s love. Carrying one another’s burdens. Giving time or money to family members shows how we can be generous because God provides all we need. Forgiving one another, the people who are closest to us often hurt us the most so this can be really tough. I think the first step is letting go of the anger, it may still hurt but by releasing the anger you are on the right path. In today’s rights and retribution demanding society this is radially counter cultural and will shine God’s light into the world.

So I think that taking one anothering out into our wider families would definitely fit with the goals Kathy had for the year and beyond so lets give it a try