Tag Archives: grace

On a challenging day

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This journal page was simply made using a fantastic picture I came across in a catalogue. I identified with the person pushing a bike uphill, and on a day that felt like an uphill struggle, I felt God reminded me of this verse which encouraged me greatly. The verse was written out on plain white paper using a stencil, cut out in strips and stuck on the page.

Tip: I like to keep a selection of cut out magazine images in a small box, and will sometimes spend a happy hour just ripping up a pile of old magazines to use later. Sometimes when looking at a verse, God will remind me of a particular image I’ll go and find to use in my journal. Other times, I may have a ‘prayerful rummage’ through the images and often find God draws me towards a picture, and then reminds me of a verse.

Hebrews 13:5

Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said,

‘Never will I leave you;
    never will I forsake you.’

Deuteronomy 31:6

Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.’

I know we all have days like these. Where they start out well, or at least well intended, and the busy sets in, and the flow starts to go, and the ‘to do’ list gets buried under a pile of stuff. When the unexpected needs to be responded to. When things start to go a bit wrong, then a lot wrong. When mistakes are made, communication gets lost along the way and tensions can rise. Usually not over anything significant, just stuff.

There are days when it feels like an uphill struggle. And you can’t wait til bedtime, because God’s mercies are new every morning and you’ll get a fresh day tomorrow. Which HAS to be better than this one.

Thankfully on difficult days like these, God is still good.

And I can remind myself that His love remains, and endures, and cannot be shaken even when I am in the middle of chaos. He is always close by, watching and waiting for us to turn and ask for help. The tiniest whisper of a thought ‘Father, what should I do?’ can bring peace.

When I lean on Him in the midst of the challenging bits, I can find peace. I can ask Him for wisdom, and He helps me find a way through it all.

These two verses remind me to be content, because He is with me; and to not be afraid or live in fear, because He is with me. Found in both the Old and New Testaments, this is a promise of God that is relevant today and every day. He is our Immanuel, God with us!

Sometimes we may ask, why does God allow things to go wrong, and for days that are, frankly, a bit of a disaster (to be melodramatic) why can’t things just go smoothly and swimmingly all the time, we’d all be so much happier without all this rubbish to deal with!

But, what good would that do us? To sit in comfort, to take things easy? We would stay in our comfort zones, never venturing out, never challenging ourselves to take on the truth of the Word of God and APPLY it to our lives. We would miss the opportunity to GROW, to LEARN and to BECOME TRANSFORMED.

Children learn how to do things, how to become mature and independent, by doing things. By trying. By watching. Asking. Copying. By making mistakes.

I am a child of God and need to learn from Him by leaning on Him, in the tough times. This is what builds and forms my character, so that I can become more like Jesus.

I don’t always feel like I’m being transformed, as my failures and mistakes are a constant reminder that, in actual fact, I can’t do this. It’s impossible. I’ve never been brave enough to buy and wear a WWJD bracelet –  ‘What would Jesus do?’ Honestly much of the time I don’t really have a clue what Jesus would do, so I just give it my best shot and hope and pray that He guides me, covers me and prevents me from making too much of a mess of things, and yet somehow when I do this He always makes it good. Maybe that’s how we learn to trust. When we see Him doing just that.

His grace is sufficient.

Far better to walk through difficult days with God at our sides, than to walk through this without Him.

Heavenly Father, thank you that You are with me, at all times. You will never leave me or forsake me. Thank you that I can lean on you through the difficult times, and that Your arms are strong enough to hold me close and carry me.  

In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Finally: If you are going through difficult times right now, I hope and pray that you will be encouraged today. And know you are not alone, don’t be afraid to ask for prayer and/or practical help from family, friends and your church. We are part of God’s family and are here to support one another. God bless you – may you know that He will never leave you or forsake you, today and every day.

The Kindness and Love of God

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Art Journal Note:

For this page I used a simple watercolour painted background. When it had dried, I used a ruler & pencil to draw some wonky diagonal lines all the way down the page all at different angles. I then pencilled in roughly where the words would go, filling each line completely with all the letters as they increased and decreased in size. It was quite fun! When I had roughly positioned the letters, I went over it all in a black roller-ball pen. The words did seem to bunch up a bit by the end of the page as I thought I might run out of space, but it doesn’t really matter!


Titus 3 verses 4-7 is one of my absolute favourite passages of Scripture:

But when the kindness and love of God our Saviour appeared, he saved us,not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Saviour, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life. (NIV)

And to read it in the Amplified Bible really brings it to life even more!

But when the goodness and loving-kindness of God our Saviour to man [as man] appeared, He saved us, not because of any works of righteousness that we had done, but because of His own pity and mercy, by [the] cleansing [bath] of the new birth (regeneration) and renewing of the Holy Spirit, which He poured out [so] richly upon us through Jesus Christ our Saviour.[And He did it in order] that we might be justified by His grace (by His favor, wholly undeserved), [that we might be acknowledged and counted as conformed to the divine will in purpose, thought, and action], and that we might become heirs of eternal life according to [our] hope.

To me, these three verses sum up the entire gospel – this is the essence of the good news of Jesus!

It covers all aspects of life: our sin, how we cannot earn our salvation, it tells of God’s mercy, how we are washed and cleansed from our sins, born again in Jesus, baptised in the Holy Spirit, and having been made right with God, how we have an exciting future in Him.

This is a beautiful recap of all that God has done for us. All the truths we need to know.

It’s a message of hope.

After giving this powerful truth-packed summary of all that God has done for us, Paul says this:

This is a trustworthy saying. And I want you to stress these things, so that those who have trusted in God may be careful to devote themselves to doing what is good. These things are excellent and profitable for everyone.

Here, Paul shows us that it’s good to remind ourselves of the basics, the core essentials of our faith. It reminds me a bit of the Apostles Creed, which again, I really love – there’s something incredibly powerful when a group of believers all state what they believe, out loud all together. It builds our faith and we encourage one another.

And the reason Paul was giving this truth-packed summary of faith was so that we may ‘do what is good’. When we really deeply know and experience God’s kindness, goodness and mercy, we can’t help but respond by offering ourselves to Him in willing surrender and service.

Heavenly Father, Your kindness and love amaze me. Thank you for sending Your son, Jesus  Christ, my Lord and Saviour, to die for me, to save me from my sins and to make me right with You. Thank you for pouring out your Holy Spirit upon me generously! Thank you for giving me hope of eternal life.

Father God, I echo the words of Simon Peter (John 6 v 68), as he said to Jesus:

‘Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.’

Help me to serve you with my whole heart in all I do. 

In Jesus’ name,

Amen

He Loves Us

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Art Journal note:

This page has a simple watercolour wash on the background, in lovely restful shades of green. The words are just doodled on with a black Pitt pen, and I’ve added a couple of stamped flowers just to decorate the page a little. 

Oh How He Loves Us

This is a beautiful song that has been playing on repeat in my mind (and on my computer) for some time now. There’s a couple of versions I particularly like, my favourite is by David Crowder Band but the Kim Walker & Jesus Culture version is fab too. (Links below)

This song speaks deeply of the passionate relationship God has for us, and of what it feels like to realise how much God loves us. As we turn to Him, we can feel completely overwhelmed even when we gain just a glimpse of His love for us.

I especially love the line:

If His grace is an ocean, we’re all sinking

Can I encourage you to listen to this song (whichever version you like!), to soak in the presence of God, and to have a fresh realisation today of how He loves you! Sink into His grace.

He Loves Us.

He is jealous for me, Loves like a hurricane, I am a tree,
Bending beneath the weight of His wind and mercy.
When all of a sudden, I am unaware of these afflictions eclipsed by glory,
And I realize just how beautiful You are,
And how great Your affections are for me.And oh, how He loves us, oh,
Oh, how He loves us, How He loves us all

Yeah, He loves us, Oh, how He loves us,
Oh, how He loves us, Oh, how He loves.

And we are His portion and He is our prize,
Drawn to redemption by the grace in His eyes,
If his grace is an ocean, we’re all sinking.
And Heaven meets earth like an unforeseen kiss,
And my heart turns violently inside of my chest,
I don’t have time to maintain these regrets,
When I think about the way…

He loves us, Oh, how He loves us,
Oh, how He loves us, Oh, how He loves.
Yeah, He loves us….

Heavenly Father, thank you that you love me completely, passionately, powerfully and with such tenderness. Help me to lay aside all that tries to weigh me down and distract me from you, and help me to turn fully to You and receive Your love. I know that in You I can find rest, security and comfort in the great love that you have for me. I sink into your ocean of grace today, thank you for the way you love me. And oh, how I love you, Father.

In Jesus name, Amen.

More Grace

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Art Journal note

For this page in my art journal, I used up some left over green acrylic paint from another painting project, to paint around the edges for the background. It came out much too dark and ‘flat’ so I added some vibrant teal blue over the top, in vague brush strokes. And just copied the verse with a Pitt Pen, accompanied by some little doodle flowers.

But he gives us more grace.

James 4 v 6(a)

This wonderful phrase jumped out at me from the rest of James Chapter 4. In context, I believe that James is warning about the inner battles we are fighting with our sinful nature, and the impact that the ‘pull’ of the world has on us.

While we live here on earth, we are under the influence of all that surrounds us.  We are often completely oblivious and unaware of the battle that rages for our attention, time, hearts and souls.

We are supposed to be different. We are brand new in Christ, a new creation.

In a recent Facebook post by Canon Andrew White, the ‘Vicar of Baghdad’ he says:

Despite the tragedy all around us we are so aware of the presence a glory of G-d. We had a great joyful event today as I baptised a mother and her four young children. What a joy it was when the 10-year-old boy came up to me after the Baptism and said “I feel all new now I am all different” and he was.

How wonderful! This brought tears of joy to my eyes. I was baptised at the age of 9 and remember the wonderful joy of being made new, and belonging to God. In baptism into Christ we are made to be all new and all different.

When we mess up, and make mistakes, and get it wrong, when the pull of the world we live in takes us away from what God has for us –

But he gives us more grace.

James then instructs us: Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and He will come near to you.

Heavenly Father, I come near to you and thank you that your grace is sufficient for me. I am sorry for all the times I get it wrong and wander away from you, distracted by things that would try to separate me from you. Help me to resist the devil, as I submit to you and follow after you. Thank you that you know me, and out of your great love you give us more grace. 

 In Jesus name, Amen.