Grace Like Breakfast

Do you remember coming into the kitchen as a child, hungry and looking for breakfast? If you had a positive growing up experience like I did, you never went away still hungry. Mom or Dad would have made sure there was ample supply for whatever hunger needs the family might have.

This morning as light began to shine through the curtains after a night of not a lot of sleep, I began thinking of the throne room of grace and how much I needed grace for the day ahead.

Through the Old and New Testament we are told we can expect suffering and difficult things in life, but we are promised that Jesus will never leave or forsake us and that the grace of God is enough to bring us through any situation victoriously.

Sometimes I’m too busy thinking of how I want the situation to change to think of coming into the throne room of grace for what I need to overcome in my circumstance.

[Jesus] understands our weakness, for He faced the same testings we do, yet He did not sin.  So let us come boldly to the throne of grace where we will receive His mercy and find grace to help us when we are in need. (Hebrews 4:15-16)

Grace.  Mercy. Wisdom.  These are all readily available for us as children of God.  Like a child, coming for breakfast, we don’t have to wonder if we will go away empty from the throne of grace and our Heavenly Father.

I am learning grace is not something I should ever walk without. When I am frustrated, grace gives perspective.  When I am worried, it ushers in the presence of peace.  When I am weary, grace enables me to finish well.

We are saved by grace, and we can only finish well by grace.  Perhaps as children of God, we have not fully realized or received the power available to us in the grace of God.

For the sin of Adam caused death to rule over many. But even greater is God’s wonderful grace and his gift of righteousness, for all who receive it will live in triumph over sin and death through this one man, Jesus Christ. (Romans 5:17)

“All who receive it.”  I need to remember to come to the throne, to extend my hands, and receive grace more often and with bold expectancy when I wake up and through my day.  Those things that continually trip me up, are vanquished when grace is added.

What do you require grace for today?  This week? How often do you ask for the grace to do well what is before you?  If you are like me – not often enough.

I echo Paul in my prayer for you as you enter the throne room this week:

May God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ give you grace and peace.

The Trees By The River

There are four places I know of in the Bible that mention trees by the river.  Reading them together, they paint a powerful picture of our lives when we are rooted in Christ.  Come with me to the river if you will.

“Cursed is the one who trusts in man,
    who draws strength from mere flesh
    and whose heart turns away from the Lord
 “But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord,
    whose confidence is in him.
 They will be like a tree planted by the water
    that sends out its roots by the riverbank.
It does not fear when heat comes;
    its leaves are always green.
It has no worries in a year of drought
    and never fails to bear fruit.”  (Jeremiah 17:5-8)

Ezekiel 47 tells of the river flowing from the temple of God that brings life everywhere it touches – even desolate places come to life when the river touches them.  On both sides of the river are trees never failing to bear fruit, with leaves that are always green.

Revelation 22 contains one of the most beautiful passages in scripture.  It describes the river flowing from the throne of God with trees on both banks. The leaves are for the healing of the nations and the fruit never ceases.

In each of these passages, it is the river from which the trees draw their strength and life giving capacity.  And it is from God Himself that the river flows.

Jesus tells His followers:

“Anyone who is thirsty may come to me!  Anyone who believes in me may come and drink! For the Scriptures declare, ‘Rivers of living water will flow from his heart.’” (When he said “living water,” he was speaking of the Spirit, who would be given to everyone believing in him).  (John 7:37-39)

No Christian sets out to be a fruitless,  half hearted Christian but I suspect each of us at different times find ourselves feeling like our leaves are brown, and the fruit, all but dried up.  So we work at our calling a little harder, and try to pull ourselves up by the bootstraps, desiring joy, but feeling stressed and stretched thin.  (Maybe its just me…)

I am reminded with each of these pictures that I need to follow the river.  If the river flows from the very presence of God, that is where I need to be.  In the presence of Jesus.  Where my roots are nourished, where the fruit and the leaves of my life develop and my soul is renewed.  If I am not continually in the presence of the Lamb of God, immersed in His river, I will not have the fellowship with the Holy Spirit that bears fruit.

Some kinds of trees remember drought and pass along the DNA to dig deep roots to all their seedlings.  We too should be passing along knowledge to sink down deep roots into the river to everyone we disciple, while not forgetting ourselves.

May you be continually reminded to seek God’s presence and drink deeply from His river of life this week!

Trust On Reserve

It happened.  One way or another, the baby always comes. Raphael Geoffrey announced his arrival in our lives with a wail before he was even fully born.
I have been told babies teach you a lot about the character of God, and already I am impacted by the way a completely unaware baby can provide such profound windows into spiritual truth.

Unti I held little Raphael, I don’t know if anyone has trusted me so implicitly.

One of the things I have been challenged on lately is my trust level.  Perhaps it is because our season of suffering is so fresh in my mind, perhaps it is human propensity, but I am realizing there are places in the fabric of my soul that are “on reserve.”

Just in case.  Just in case I have to take care of myself if Jesus doesn’t come through. In case He leaves me stranded when I take a step faith or leaves a need unprovided for.  There is a level of rest a baby enters into – often with a parent – where they completely relax.  Little arms and legs hang completely limp, small head, still unable to hold itself, resting in your hand.  Utterly unconcerned with the troubles of the world or the worries of the day; just content to study your face and rest in your arms.

This is the picture I now have when I feel Jesus asking me if I trust Him.  It is easy for me to say “Of course I trust you” and still have a part of me on reserve.  I suppose this is something that must be cultivated throughout our lives.

As we grow, there is a  depth that enters the relationship as we learn obedience, responding to Jesus, no longer as infants, but in maturity.  But that same picture of trust should still be there.  I ponder the dichotomy of faith that takes responsibility and walks in radical obedience, but is still completely dependant on Jesus for every provision, for peace, and for His power to bring about His will in our obedience.

We spend great effort and time teaching children to grow up and be independent adults in the natural world.  Raphael will not stay an infant for long.  But in the Kingdom, Jesus takes time and great effort to help us become like children; completely dependant on Him, trusting Him in every circumstance.

Recovery for me from Raphael’s birth has not been easy. Being on bed rest without the strength to fully care for my baby has driven me back to giving every moment to Jesus, trusting He loves Raphael and will provide everything that is needed.  So in my mind, I think of Raphael; splayed out, completely at rest in his Dad’s hands and in my heart I choose to do the same.

I pray today you know the rest that comes from completely entrusting your soul, body and spirit to the One who loves you endlessly!

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding… Pro 3:5