Empowered by grace

There’s a passage in the Old Testament that really inspires me.

Exodus 31:1-6, Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying: “See, I have called by name Bezalel the son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah. And I have filled him with the Spirit of God, in wisdom, in understanding, in knowledge, and in all manner of workmanship, to design artistic works, to work in gold, in silver, in bronze, in cutting jewels for setting, in carving wood, and to work in all manner of workmanship.

“And I, indeed I, have appointed with him Aholiab the son of Ahisamach, of the tribe of Dan; and I have put wisdom in the hearts of all the gifted artisans, that they may make all that I have commanded you:

God gaveBezalel and Aholiab the skills to be able to make the furnishings and ornamentation for the Tabernacle. God did not tell Moses that these men were born with the talent to do it, He said he put it in them. He filled them with the Spirit of God. To me this speaks of grace, even though the word Grace isn’t specifically used here. I see how they were taken out of the realm of the ordinary and mundane and given special gifts with which they could do what God needed to be done. I am reading the book, Relentless, by John Bevere and he tells how God has enabled him to be able to write books even though he previously had no ability to write.

That is what God does when we are willing. He can take someone who is quite ordinary and use them to do the extraordinary.

2 Timothy 1:9, who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was given to us in Christ Jesus before time began,

Ephesians 2:10, For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.

Now I’m going to ask a question. Is ‘good works’ only doing charitable deeds? Does ‘good works’ only pertain to spiritual things? Or is it anything that we do? We live in the world and everything good that we do can be used to bring glory to God. If God gives you the ability to be a plumber, you could become the best plumber and in that way bring glory to God by your excellence.

Acts 18:1-3,  After these things Paul departed from Athens and went to Corinth. And he found a certain Jew named Aquila, born in Pontus, who had recently come from Italy with his wife Priscilla (because Claudius had commanded all the Jews to depart from Rome); and he came to them. So, because he was of the same trade, he stayed with them and worked; for by occupation they were tentmakers.

Paul was a tentmaker. He used his hands, as did Aquila and Priscilla. They worked with their hands to earn their living. There are many examples in the Bible of people who worked and brought glory to God by their work. I believe we have to stop seeing our jobs as a necessary evil and start seeing it as something we can use to honour God. If we do our jobs to the best of our ability and acknowledge God we are going to stand out above unbelievers. That’s what we need to do. We cannot be mediocre at what we do while professing to belong to Jesus. In Deuteronomy 28 from verse 1 – 14 there is a list of all the blessings which we are entitled to. Will we be able to claim to be blessed if we are doing a really bad job of whatever it is we do? We have to call on the grace of God so that we can perform better than anyone else. If you are a salesman you should be the salesman of the year. If you are an artist you should be a celebrated artist. Do I make sense? If you have a hobby, it should bring you joy and you should do it well. We are not to stand down to unbelievers and believe that we are less because we are Christians. We are the children of the Most High God. We are anointed and blessed and we are headed for Heaven. How can we not prosper?

Give yourself grace

I read this meme (at least that’s what I think they call it) by Elizabeth Gilbert:

Love the one in you who is sad.

Love the one in you who is scared.

Love the one in you who is angry.

Love the one in you who is lonely.

Love the one in you who hates herself.

Love all the ones who you are,

And then you will know how to love the world.


Now, I understand that Elizabeth Gilbert is probably not a Christian and this piece of writing is also  not particularly Christian. But the line that says, “Love the one in you who hates herself,” just struck a chord with me. Dr Michelle Strydom, who is an outspoken Christian, says in her book, “Healing begins with sanctification of the heart,” that self-hate is one of the main causes of disease.

Ephesians 5:28-29, So husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies; he who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as the Lord does the church

But is this true all the time? I think that we out ourselves under undue condemnation when we are rejected, or even when we perceive that we have been rejected. Sometimes there are situations that we find ourselves in where we make stupid choices and we wish we had acted differently. Sometimes there are situations that keep presenting themselves and we often repeat this behaviour over and over again instead of going to the Lord and receiving freedom.

Romans 5:8, But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

God loves us before we are saved, while we are full of insecurities and sin and all the stuff that goes along with it. Now, if God can love us while we are unsaved, why can’t we love ourselves when we are saved. And you know what? We don’t always love all the facets of who we are. We like to fool ourselves and others by pretending that we are perfect and there’s nothing in our lives or in our past that is embarrassing, or hurting us, but we can’t fool God. We think we can, but we can’t. Sometimes there is just one little thing, you know like that straw that breaks the camel’s back. One little thing that we think we are never going to be able to overcome, and that little thing is the thing in our lives that is causing all the grief.

Maybe you and your dad never got along and he passed away before you could reconcile. Or there was a man who left you standing at the altar and you still feel that pain. You have put it away in a deep, dark, secret place but it threatens to appear at inappropriate times. You know that your mother didn’t want another baby, but you were born. You might feel guilty because of an accidental circumstance that claimed someone’s life, or you are addicted to cigarettes and you only smoke in secret. I can go on and on. No matter how well we hide things, God knows about them but the devil also knows about them and we know that he is the father of lies and that guilt comes from him. So, now, here we are feeling guilty and basically hating that part of our life. Self-hate is very real and very, very dangerous to your health.

What to do? We have to forgive the people involved and ourselves. That’s the easy answer. That’s the right answer. But what if we can’t find the way to forgiveness right now? Grace. We need to give ourselves grace and lots of it because we definitely aren’t perfect. What Elizabeth Gilbert says is, “love yourself,” love every part of yourself, even the imperfect parts. Give the imperfect parts of our characters more grace because once we do that we aren’t going to feel the guilt and the need to keep them hidden from God anymore. Once things are bathed in God’s light we will be able to approach them differently and start to get rid of the power they wield over us.

Let’s make it our goal to start giving ourselves grace.


Perfect Christians

Are you supposed to be perfect if you’re a Christian?

Ephesians 4:21-24, Assuming that you have really heard Him and been taught by Him, as [all] Truth is in Jesus [embodied and personified in Him],  Strip yourselves of your former nature [put off and discard your old unrenewed self] which characterized your previous manner of life and becomes corrupt through lusts and desires that spring from delusion;

And be constantly renewed in the spirit of your mind [having a fresh mental and spiritual attitude], And put on the new nature (the regenerate self) created in God’s image, [Godlike] in true righteousness and holiness.

This paints a picture of a perfect person, a perfect Christian. Your old sinful life is behind you and now you are brand new and none of the old dirt is on you. So you surely have to be perfect now. Don’t you?

I cannot even imagine trying to be that perfect person. I would be such hard work!

1 John 1:6-10, If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.

If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us.

Clearly, we will never be perfect, which is really quite a relief, because we cannot do it in our own strength anyway. This passage is extremely consoling as we have the promise of God’s forgiveness and His grace.

I often hear criticism that people who are in ministry have faults. I have been guilty of that myself. How can so-and-so be leading a church or be an evangelist or a prophet when they do whatever. The answer is that God uses imperfect people to do His work, and not the obvious one’s according to worldly standards.

1 Corinthians 1:26-31, Take a good look, friends, at who you were when you got called into this life. I don’t see many of “the brightest and the best” among you, not many influential, not many from high-society families. Isn’t it obvious that God deliberately chose men and women that the culture overlooks and exploits and abuses, chose these “nobodies” to expose the hollow pretensions of the “somebodies”? That makes it quite clear that none of you can get by with blowing your own horn before God. Everything that we have—right thinking and right living, a clean slate and a fresh start—comes from God by way of Jesus Christ. That’s why we have the saying, “If you’re going to blow a horn, blow a trumpet for God. (The Message)

And why doesn’t God use ‘perfect’ people? Just picture this. You belong to a church and the pastor is perfect. I mean 120%, head and shoulders above the rest, immune to all temptation, never puts a foot wrong, perfect. Everyone will love him so much and he will have the biggest congregation… because he is perfect and people are going to worship him, and they won’t need God. I think we should be very happy that our leaders aren’t perfect because we are going to need to pray for them. Perfect people don’t need prayer. The more time we spend in prayer the better for us. It also gives us hope because if God can use someone who has faults that we can see, He can also use us.

So, Christians aren’t perfect, they never were and they never will be. They are imperfect people who have been saved by grace and God uses them because they love Him. That’s all that is expected from them. If we ever thought we needed to be perfect we can give up on that idea straight away and use the time we spent worrying about it, worshipping and loving God.

Defend your faith

I was chatting to a young man about different religions and cultures. He mentioned something someone had quoted to him from the Bible, meaning it to say that there are many ways to God. He said that it didn’t make sense to him and I agreed. We read some more verses that disproved what the man had told him. I was very proud of this young man when he came to the conclusion that the greatest problem among Christians is that they do not know the bible. A lot of Christians do not have adequate knowledge of the Bible in order to be able to defend their faith. Can we defend our faith? How often do we get called on to defend it, or do we just shy away from controversial and confrontational conversations about religion?

Psalm 1:2, But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law he meditates day and night.

How often do we do this? Life is so busy and demanding that it often seems like an unattainable goal.

Joshua 1:8, This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.

The Law of Moses doesn’t apply to us today because we have been redeemed by the blood of Jesus and not by the law, and although we aren’t called to practice all the things demanded by the law, we are still expected to know the Bible. Being made free of the law does not mean that we have been made free of the Word of God.

1 John 5:14-15, Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him.

How will we ever know what God’s will is if we don’t know what is written in God’s Word? When we pray the only way we can pray according to God’s will is to know what God’s will is. And the only way we will ever know what God’s will is, is if we know what is written in God’s Word. We cannot possibly pray according to the Word if we never read our Bible, or even if we only read it sporadically. So many people rely on daily readings or devotionals instead of reading the Bible for themselves. There’s nothing wrong with using a devotional because there are some really informative and inspiring one’s, but there is so much more that God has put in His Word especially for us. When we read something that someone else has written, it can help us, inspire us and guide us, and mostly that’s what it’s meant to do. Even though it has value and sometimes we really gain great insights, it is still second hand inspiration. A second hand vision so to say. I think each one of us should aspire to hear from God ourselves. It should be a priority for us to gain insights for ourselves from the Word. We do not live in the Old Testament times where God only spoke to certain people. We have the Holy Spirit who communicates God’s words to us if we care to listen. I remember clearly the first time that I realized God was actually speaking to me. It was beyond awesome. I was so excited.

What we have to remember is that we can’t just know a few choice verses and think that we know the Word. We have to read is actively. It is so easy for people to take verses and use them out of context. If we don’t know the Word then we cannot refute them if they do this. We need to be confident enough in our knowledge of the bible to be able to know how to defend our faith. I remember reading my bible very intermittently for a number of years until one day I decided to start reading it seriously. I read daily for about a month and then stopped for a couple of weeks. I realized that I had stopped and started again. Something happened and suddenly the bible just opened up to me and I couldn’t help myself. I would sneak away during the day to read my bible. It felt like I could feel the love of God emanating from the pages. I realized that it wasn’t just a complicated book, but that it had life. That is how I learned to love the bible and why I am still reading it and discovering new truths all the time. I would like to challenge you, if you aren’t actively reading your bible, to start and experience God’s love and grace first hand.

Choices – Living purposefully

I was driving and listening to a gospel CD. There’s a song called Outrageous Grace, by Robin Mark and the first verse is:

There’s a lot of pain but a lot more healings

There’s a lot of trouble but a lot more peace

There’s a lot of hate but a lot more loving

There’s a lot of sin but a lot more grace.

The chorus says: Oh outrageous grace, Love unfurled by heaven’s hand,

Oh outrageous grace, Through my Jesus I can stand.


These words are so touching and so comforting. They are also about choices. We can choose how we want to live. Life is about choices. We choose daily between getting up or staying in bed, having cereal or eggs for breakfast, driving to work or taking a bus. The last one is wishful thinking on my part. Our town is so small, I would choose between driving or walking. But you get where this is going. We have to choose all the time. We should be more aware that we are making choices and not just being swept by the tide of life. We have to think clearly and positively. Philippians 4;8 truly has become my favorite verse. “Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.” And next to it, Romans 12:2, “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.”

We have to be so aware of what enters our minds all the time. How do we handle stress? Do we sit and worry about it or do we give it to Jesus like we should? Have you realized that sometimes you’re in a stressful situation and you pray and carry on with your life. One day you realize that the situation has been resolved but not at all in the way you thought it would be. Looking back you sometimes can’t even figure out how it all worked out. it seems like some situations can be solved without your intervention. We love to think that things can only be solved the way we want them to be solved. We manipulate and struggle and stress but we forget that we are not God.

The song says ‘there’s a lot of pain but a lot more healings.” The main thing that has to be healed is our minds and the way we think. We need to pay more attention to our thoughts. If we do that we aren’t going to hurt those we love. We aren’t going to drive away well-meaning friends by putting up walls around our hearts. We are going to have to learn to trust God with our problems while we can sit back and think good thoughts. Just imagine this, you have a big problem. It’s been weighing you down and you have no peace of mind. You can’t sleep at night and you can’t imagine that this problem will ever be solved. You’ve considered going to a psychiatrist but you don’t actually have the cash. Spending money you don’t have is only going to make your problem worse anyway. You are at the end of your wits so you decide to take God at His word and try to apply what the bible says. You see that you can be transformed by the renewing of your mind. So you cast all your burdens on Jesus. Matthew 6:25, “Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat of what you will drink; not about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing?” Now you’ve given all your worries to God and you sit down in your armchair, relax and start thinking good thoughts. You find that you can relax totally and soon get sleepy. You go to bed and fall fast asleep. You sleep for a solid 8 hours and awake the next morning feeling like a brand new person. You can’t believe how good you feel. You see everything through new eyes even though nothing has changed. You keep this up for a few days and suddenly, because you have changed the way you think, you see what the solution to your problems is. I know this sounds very simplistic, but I urge you to try it. Try taking God at His word. Try savoring His outrageous grace and start living your life purposefully.


Your mercies are new

Renovations at our shop have been going on now for almost 2 months. It feels like two months going on for two years. The pressure of working in less space has been getting to me. My desk has been shoved behind a Coca-Cola fridge in the back corner of the shop. The seating has been moved out to accommodate the equipment that has come from the part that’s being worked on. The whole shop is going to receive a facelift and a lot of much needed TLC. It’s going to be really awesome when it’s done, but right now everything is a mess. At the end of last week I thought I couldn’t take another week of building!

Lamentations 3:17 says, “You have moved my soul far from peace; I have forgotten prosperity.” We feel like that sometimes. It’s very easy to fall into the trap of believing things are never going to change.
Then I realized that I was living under the circumstances and not above them. Psalm 121 says, ‘I lift my eyes to the hills…” Obviously help doesn’t come from the hills, it comes from God. But if we don’t lift our eyes off of the circumstances we aren’t going anywhere. We will never see the forest if we keep staring at the trees. We need to step back and realize that everything is temporary and leads to the next thing. We don’t need to know what the next thing is, only that there is a next thing. Lamentations 3:22 – 23: “Through the Lord ’s mercies we are not consumed, Because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness. “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul, “Therefore I hope in Him!” The Lord is good to those who wait for Him, To the soul who seeks Him.”
His mercies are new every morning. We just need to remember that. Every new day brings new challenges but it also brings new mercy, new grace, new opportunities.
I undertake not to live under my circumstances but to look above them, to lift my eyes and see what the Lord has for me. To see the mercies that every new morning brings.

Grace and Mercy

The ‘grace’ I’m referring to means free, unmerited favour or goodwill. Clemency, mercy.

In music a grace note is an extra note added for embellishment.

  1. God shows grace

    1. Ps 84:11 – For the Lord God is a sun and shield; The Lord will give grace and glory; No good thing will He withhold from those who walk uprightly.

    2. Proverbs 3:34 – Surely He scorns the scornful, But gives grace to the humble.

    3. Deut 9:5 – 6 – It is not because of your righteousness or the uprightness of your heart that you go in to possess their land, but because of the wickedness of these nations that the Lord your God drives them out from before you, ad that He may fulfil the word which the Lord swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.  6. Therefore understand that the Lord your God is not giving you this good land to possess because of your righteousness, for you are a stiff-necked people.

We are a lot like the Israelites who came out of Egypt. We like to complain. We like to selectively recall events out of our past according to the mood we’re in. We like to look back and say ‘if only’. If only I had invested in bitcoin three years ago I would be a multi-millionaire now. If only I hadn’t wasted my time by hanging out in clubs instead of studying for my degree. If only I hadn’t fallen with my skateboard and hurt my knee, I might have been selected for the national soccer team and been rich and famous. If only I quit smoking 10 years ago I wouldn’t have had lung cancer now. And so it goes on. If only, if only, if only. The Israelites weren’t any better. If only they had stayed in Egypt they wouldn’t be starving and in danger. They forget to add that they were slaves in Egypt and treated worse than dirt!

We want our rewards and we want them now. We want to pray a quick prayer and have it answered immediately. Not only do we want it answered right away, we want the answer that we want to hear.

Grace is when I don’t do anything to receive favour, but I receive it anyway. I go to work every day just as usual and one day the boss call me in and gives me a huge raise. That’s grace. I didn’t work particularly hard or do anything special to deserve the raise.

Mercy – a disposition to temper justice with mildness. Clemency, compassion.

Micah 7:18 – Who is a God like you, who pardons sin and forgives the transgressions of the remnant of his inheritance? You do not stay angry forever but delight to show mercy.

Titus 3:5 – He saved us, not because of righteous things we have done, but because of His mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit.

Luke 6:36 – Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.

Matthew 5:7 – Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.

Mercy is when you deserved to be punished but you aren’t. If I pour a glass of Coca-Cola onto your laptop keyboard because I’m mad at you and your keyboard gets fried, and you don’t get mad at me and demand for me to replace your laptop. You just wipe it off and go out and buy a new laptop. That is mercy. I was purposely vindictive towards you and you didn’t retaliate at all. God shows us mercy all the time. How many times have you done things that just aren’t right? And you didn’t get struck by lightning or fall down dead. As these versed illustrate God shows us mercy all the time and He also expects us to show mercy to others. Matthew 5:7 even says that if we are merciful we will be shown mercy. Showing mercy is not a sign of weakness. Quite the opposite. It is much easier to give a harsh answer or to mete out punishment than to be merciful and give someone a second chance, especially if the other person has hurt our family, our finances or our feelings. It’s the principle of reaping what you sow. I really, really want God to show me mercy. Hebrews 10:31 – ‘It is a fearsome thing to fall into the hands of the living God.’

Let us grow in grace and be merciful for the sake of our own souls.

For all have sinned

Do you remember when you were a child and the teacher left the classroom with the instruction: “Be quiet while I’m out!”? And you try your best. You really do. You try to concentrate on the work in front of you and not on your friend next to you. You try to ignore the whispers around you and the paper jet that just landed on top of your Math book. You even try not to acknowledge the boy who is poking his pen into your back or the one who is pulling your braid. You try. You try so hard but before you know it you are caught up in all the activity around you when the teacher returns your name is on her detention list and you just can’t understand why. If we try to be good people, if the try to follow the laws and ruled in the Bible we are going to get caught up in all the worldly activity around us and become so involved in it that by the time we have to stand before the Judgement Seat we are not going to receive the ultimate prize of living in Heaven for eternity. That is, if we TRY.

Romans 3:11-18 tells how there isn’t even one righteous person who is under the law. Verse 19: ‘Now we know that whatever the law says, that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God. Therefore by the deed of the law no flesh will be justified in His sight, for by the law is the knowledge of sin.’ We can’t be good on our own. We can try as hard as we want, but in our own strength we cannot keep the law. We can for a while, or sometimes, or with certain things, but not all the time with everything. All that’s going to happen is that we will wear ourselves out trying and then find ourselves mixed up in everything that’s against the law.
So, what do we do to avoid this?
Make the decision that you want to be a child of God. Ask Him to forgive your sins and ask Jesus to come and live in your heart.
Make a decision that you want a relationship with Jesus Christ and allow Him to be master of your life and stop TRYING. All His grace to rule within you. Give the Holy Spirit the reigns and let Him lead you.
Are you now going to be perfect? NO!! But you are going to be justified. Romans 3:23-24 – ‘for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.’ In verse 25 – 26 Paul goes on to say that because Jesus died for us, God has forgiven our sins. This grace that we are given because we are children of God is enough to keep us from going to Hell. It is not an excuse to just carry on doing what we want to do without regard for anything, but it covers the things we do that we shouldn’t be doing and it gives us the strength to resist the temptations that come before us daily. We can’t DO anything to win God’s favour. The only way we get His favour is to hold onto His Son and give our lives to Him. Paul also says in 1 Corinthians 15:31 “…I die daily.”
Just like Paul we should ‘die daily’ to the old things, to the worldly things that drag us down and be alive and aware daily of God’s redeeming grace.