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Fridays with Phil

Life, family and unshakeable faith

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Grace

What I shared at “Belong Women’s Event”. Strength in times of weakness.

The God I never knew

I wonder how many times God has intervened in my life without me realising it.

I am sure I live unaware of God’s provision, protection and help in my life.

Just as God asks us to do acts of kindness without the big fanfare of public recognition, God is always doing things on our behalf that He doesn’t let us in on. His kindness is at work constantly.

I think of the bible passage in Acts 9:1-5 which speaks about Paul on his way to arrest and execute Christians. The Bible says in verse 3, “As he journeyed he came near Damascus, and suddenly a light shone around him from heaven.”

While Paul was on his way to harm these people, he is instead arrested by Christ’s love and his life is changed.

My thoughts are towards the ones who didn’t know the danger they were in as Paul was on his way, and “near to them” to destroy them.   Because God intervened, they were saved from harm.

I also think of the Israelite people who suffered persecution from the Egyptians, described in the book of Exodus.

Even while they were suffering and praying for deliverance, God was working and preparing Moses as a child to be the answer to their prayers and they didn’t even know God was already at work.

I think of my life, still walking around with MND more than a year after doctors said I shouldn’t be able to. I think of the time in Zanzibar that my limbs cramped and my friend swam out to rescue me from drowning. I think of the time in Auckland when I came off my scooter, breaking my scapula and narrowly missing being run over by a truck– and I’m sure you have similar stories.

Maybe that’s why pride is so dangerous: it ignores the fact that God is working behind the scenes. It fails to give him credit for the less visible signs of His grace and goodness. It takes the wins on its own merit.

Even though I am proud of what I can see tangibly around me, I am convinced that I am also unaware of the extent of God’s grace that has helped me and caused me to succeed.

I may never know the number of times God has intervened and rescued me.

So once you are finished thanking God for those things in your life that you can see, remember to thank him for the things that you can’t. Be thankful for the unseen hand of God’s presence always making a way.

Never give up on trusting God to come through for you even when it seems too late. Trust His timing in all things. While there is hope, there is life. God is always working on your behalf for your good.

Phil

A few thoughts on poverty, grace and ultimate trust

Speaking with small business owners in Kinshasa, DR Congo
Speaking with small business owners in Kinshasa, DR Congo

Most of my trips overseas have been to visit, and hopefully help, people who are suffering far worse conditions than those in my homeland of Australia.

The poverty I have seen in parts of the world like Kenya, Rwanda, Nigeria and DR Congo is extreme and can be crippling to families and communities.

To try and paint a picture of this poverty with statistics, according to the World Bank, the Gross National Income per capita in the DR Congo is $220 compared to $59,570 per capita in Australia.

However, in the midst of the massive challenge that is poverty, I have observed people who have chosen to have trust, hope, faith and love towards Jesus.  This heart attitude sets their life on the path of looking for answers, not giving in to the trial.

What has always struck me is that even in their suffering, they seem to understand that circumstances are not always a good measure of God’s goodness.

God is still good.

They have taught me that, even when it is difficult to see or understand any reason, true love for Jesus is manifest in deep trust in times of trial.

God is still in control. 

I believe the reason for this unique life-giving perspective is that they are courageously lifting the word of God and the name of Jesus above their circumstances.  They are choosing to graciously respond and not react to daily struggles.   They respond with the grace that God provides daily and daily respond to God’s grace!

If you’re facing your own challenges: sickness, addiction, relationship breakdown or whatever it may be,  it is not just about whether you can believe God to fix that problem, but do you believe in the goodness, love and grace of God regardless of what you face?

The only way I know how to do this, while waiting for God’s provision, is to live with the presence of the Holy Spirit at work in my life.  It is what causes me to say, “His grace is sufficient for me.”  This is not by your own might, will, or power but by God’s Spirit, the great comforter.

God is still with you.

Psalm 136 says over and over again that “God’s mercy endures forever.”  Some translations say “His love endures forever” or “His kindness endures forever”.  The word “endures” tells us something: to endure implies that there will be tribulation, trial or persecution to overcome or to outlast.   It also tells us that God’s love, mercy, and kindness never quits!

Have you ever wanted to quit?  I’m sure you have, as I have at times, however strength is found in the fact that Jesus will never quit on you.

God is still for you.

Can I encourage you to do a heart check today – like my friends living in extreme poverty, is your heart open towards God, trusting his mercy, love and kindness, relying on and responding to Jesus’ grace that is all-sufficient?

Live in the slipstream of His grace today.

Phil

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