LIVING BY GRACE, THROUGH GRACE – SO THAT WE CAN KNOW GOD BY OUR ACTIONS

 

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Catherine Donovan, contributor for today’s blog post 

Confessing God and faith can sometimes be the easy part if you have been a Christian for some years. When faced with life’s challenges, curve balls and the daily grind of life, I find it hard not to deny God by my actions. This is the challenge presented to us by Paul in Titus 1:16 that we should not deny God by our actions.
I was recently put to the test by an unexpected house move. A tenant of our property failed to pay the rent, did not give notice and left the country abandoning her belongings and the property in a terrible state. As we sifted through the mess to try and discern what items were clearly rubbish and what to keep in storage until an appropriate time, I found two items that moved me. One was a Bible that had been given to her early in life, and it stood out in sharp contrast to the clear evidence that she was into New Age. I wondered how often the pages of the Bible had been read and why she had turned to New Age. The other item was a book that had been given to her as a present for her to write about her children. This book had one sentence written in it: “Only one thing to say: “I am a horrible mother!” In that moment I realized the need to pray for the tenant as a mother in crisis and pray a blessing upon her and her children. I also became very aware that the only thing that separated me from that mother was God’s saving grace for which I am so grateful.
TITUS 1 16As we progressed with the house move and presented with an endless task list, I found myself reflecting on the burden placed on the children of Israel as slaves in Egypt. I know that sounds dramatic and on the face of it I cannot compare to people working under such duress with a whip on the back for no personal gain. However the task and pressure appeared insurmountable, that whilst I was at all times aware of God’s hand and the prayers of our Church family, there was a constant reminder of our human limitations as we needed to dig deeper. At my worst moments of utter panic, feeling overwhelmed and exhausted, my biggest temptation was to throw a big fat pity party and wallow in self-pity. However, the deadlines, financial implications and the need to be strong as a mother did not seem to give me any such room. And then… my progress report to my husband turned into a narrative that ran along the lines of: “I did this, and I did that and I ….”!! I felt myself grow brittle, cold and less acknowledging of other people’s achievements. I had a serious sense of self-righteousness and was less tolerant of others who seemed to be ambling through life. I was no different from King Nebuchadnezzar, who in his great moment of pride stated: “Is not this the great Babylon I have built as the royal residence, by my mighty power and for the glory of my majesty?” following which he was stripped of power and lived like a wild animal until he acknowledged the most High God (Daniel 4). Isn’t God gracious! Paul challenges us in Titus to be God’s own, devoted to doing good, sound in faith, love and endurance. How else can we achieve that except by learning to surrender to God’s grace, die to self and let God reign in our thinking, talking and actions?
May God help us to remember that choosing to be a servant of God means we can:
Reach out to the hurting and lost in grace;
Climb mountains and get to the top in the knowledge that God helped us scale the mountain when we could have been overcome;
Have a bad night and make it through the day because God’s grace is sufficient for us and His power is made perfect in weakness;
Move forward in faith in the areas where we lack every confidence because we are made in the image of God and therefore made for greatness; and
Count on Him who gives wisdom to all graciously, in our moments of greatest foolishness.
In this state of servanthood, we are at peace, live by grace, through grace, doing what is good and live a good life. God bless you.

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