Is anyone else rubbish at reading the bible regularly?
I came to faith in a great church that prioritises the bible and knowledge of it as the forefront. Then I went away to university and moved across the country after getting married. The church we’ve gone to since really isn’t as heavily bible focused, which I think has made it easier to not think anything slipping out of the daily practice – since life can be so hectic.
Recently, I got a new bible intending to read it more and it has been a blessing already. Especially in September when I was writing about the current crisis of ethics in the pharmaceutical industry and I felt God lead me to Numbers (see below) when Joshua and Caleb come back from their expedition with the other spies and they give a true testimony without fear despite the other spies saying they shouldn’t go forward because the land was filled with bigger scarier people. Which has meant so much to me because I feel that’s so many people’s approach to corruption… I’m little… they’re big… the same day I read it the talk at church was on David and Goliath… Coincidences or God-incidents… I just felt God was saying that he honours us for our true testimonies even when we’re outnumbered 5:1. The truth and our testimonies do matter.
We have spent the early years of our children’s lives primarily in survival mode, reassured by the bible’s promise that God shepherds those with young gently.
He tends his flock like a shepherd:
He gathers the lambs in His arms
and carries them close to His heart;
He gently leads those that have young.
Isaiah 40 v 11
Last week I was at the church I came to faith in for the first time in almost three years, since my TED boy had an anaphylactic reaction while we were last visiting the area as a family.
The talk was great, really encouraging.
About God’s Grace!
Eddie Challenged us to look for God’s Grace in the Old Testament read Leviticus.
I really took this as a prompt to get back into the word and seek out grace in the old testament. For a while now I’d been stewing on the link between the fall and how our genes express themselves (aka- epigenetics). Which might not mean much to most people but to me there seems to be a clear link from how God made us perfect in his image with optimal genetic expression, which can then be tainted by external factors.
The bible says we have been given free will, and lots of people struggle with the idea of a good God and a fallen world of suffering. But it’s so easy to forget that in God giving us free will in our own actions and life he also gave free will to those around us. The by-product of other people’s free will can be toxic. It can encroach on our own health and wellbeing tremendously. We can’t have free will, without others having free will too. As much as we might want God to protect every vulnerable person in society in every way, we have to step up and be the voice for injustice. As much as we may want God to intervene, and sometimes He might, so so often it is our journey and the character we glean from our experiences that transforms us into the people we need to be to fulfil our lives purpose – whatever that might be.
People seem to associate church with judgement and condemnation, which is completely not what God has for us. God is a God of Grace, but in a bid to “put the fear of God” in people, the church has transformed the journey of conviction and repentance to one of judgement and condemnation; which is completely contrary to the Love and Grace that God has for us. Judgement and condemnation fill us with shame – but there is NO condemnation in Christ, Jesus says he who is without sin is to cast the first stone.
I originally struggled to see how the church had become so synonymous with judgement and condemnation, but I wasn’t accounting for people. As perfect, faithful, loving, gracious and forgiving as the Lord is with me. People are the opposite. In our aspirations for perfections, we judge others imperfections. In our desire to be faithful, we can so easily become rote and legalistic. In our demonstration of love, we can become clique-y and forget to show God’s love those outside our circle, whatever walks of life people come from. In our desire to demonstrate grace and forgiveness we can reduce it to an almost transactional dealing. But I don’t believe in an imperfect God of cliques, legalism and transactional faith.
The New Testament is overflowing with the message of God’s love and grace. In Eddie’s Challenge to find Grace in the Old Testament – in Leviticus – I’m wondering how much of our toxic exposures in the world we come across today are as a result of the abuse of God’s grace. As much as New Testament may update the teachings of the Old. How many of us have taken that to forget there might be health implications for discarding the laws and guidance from the Old Testament? If we take the old Testament law as an ideal, how much do we pay for dismissing the risks of mildew – which causes toxic mould syndrome, or mixed fibres – when plastic microfibers are having an enormous impact on the health of global marine life.
This week I’ve voyaged into Leviticus;
In chapter one: I was convicted – but not condemned – that I was not giving my first fruits to the Lord.
In chapter two: I found it significant that we are instructed to give the best of who we are. Bread given at the altar shouldn’t contain yeast, which dies and function becomes void at high heats. But should contain salt which is essential to life.
In chapter three: It was notable to me how the internal organs of sacrificed animals are important, especially given the nutritional value, yet it says not to eat the fat from around the kidneys etc. which is suet. One of the highest saturated fats there is, not so great for our health but an effective fuel source.
Though there is grace for when we fall short.
I wonder how many things we might have saved ourselves from as individuals and a society; if instead of dismissing the Old Testaments Guidance, we took them as an ideal in a broken world, with the knowledge that God has our backs even when we fall short.
“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God not by works, so that no one can boast.”
Ephesians 2 v 8-9.
Chapter 13 verse 26 onward: