Grace and Favour – Face to Face

We all have an innate desire to share our news with someone we care about. To ‘off load’ and get a new perspective from someone who will speak the truth to us in love.

This week, I have been led to the story of Moses in my word study on Grace / Favour. We do not find Moses in the bulrushes or hemmed in by the vast Red Sea and the Egyptian army or even on the top of Mount Sinai to receive the 10 commandments, although I have no doubt that God’s grace was with Moses in all of those defining moments too. We find him in a tent, talking to God. This God, who had rescued him from the River Nile and a Pharaoh’s fury; the same God who showed up in power in 10 plagues and the same God who had led His people out of slavery and through the Red Sea on dry ground – this God wanted to speak to Moses – face to face.

“The LORD would speak to Moses face to face, as a man speaks with his friend.” Exodus 33: 11

But Emily! The word ‘Grace’ doesn’t appear here! You may say and this is true. However, a few verses down Moses is talking to God and stating some facts about grace/favour-

“Moses said to the Lord, “You have been telling me, ‘Lead these people,’ but you have not let me know whom you will send with me. You have said, ‘I know you by name and you have found favor with me.’ If you are pleased with me, teach me your ways so I may know you and continue to find favor with you. Remember that this nation is your people.” (v12-13)

So God had already made it clear to Moses that he had found favour and grace in His sight. Moses was concerned that due to the people’s idolatry in the previous chapter that God would not come with them and His presence would not lead them. Moses ‘reminds’ God that the people he had rescued from Egypt were His people and no one would know that He was pleased with them if He did not go with them. (v16)

God’s grace and favour included an invitation to intimacy and friendship with Moses. Grace is a gift – it must be received. Moses came to the tent when the presence of God came to the tent of meeting. He accepted the invitation to converse with his God, face to face.

To us, this may have lost some of the ‘wow’ factor. In the previous chapters, the awesome picture of God’s holiness is clear on Mount Sinai. There the people were terrified. They had seen the thunder and lightening and pleaded that Moses intercede for them- speaking God’s words to them rather than God speaking directly to them. (20:18-19) Yet, here is this same holy God coming to meet with one of his sinful creations face to face in a tent. (While there is debate over whether this tent was the actual tabernacle or a tent set up before the actual tabernacle was established, it is clear that it was no ordinary tent.)

God made it very clear that He wanted to dwell among His people (25: 8-9).

This is GRACE. God reaching out to dwell with His stubborn and rebellious people. But not only did Holy God come to dwell with his unholy people but He spoke to imperfect Moses as a friend, face to face. **MIND EXPLOSION!** God shared His heart with Moses. Not only did Moses get to be in the presence of Holy God as an imperfect human but he was able to hear the heart of God and be open, saying what was on his heart before Him too. And he was pretty frank, to be honest.

The LORD invited him into real friendship.

On this side of the cross, the invitation still stands. Yet it’s fulfillment is greater.

For those who accept God’s invitation of Grace in Jesus, we not only are able to have access to God and talk to Him at any time, as friends do, but we do not have to enter the tent of meeting or tabernacle.

Rather Jesus, the Word become flesh, came to ‘tabernacle’ Himself amongst us (John 1:14), bearing the consequences of our unholiness and rebellion and covers us with his holiness, bridging the gap.

He comes to live in us by His Spirit – to give new life and purpose, comforting and sustaining until He returns to dwell with us forever in a New Heaven and New Earth.

There is so much more in this chapter about what Grace means that I will continue next week too but for now what I believe I can take from this passage in Exodus 33 is that –

GRACE = friendship with God.

Face to face

I wonder what I’d feel

If I saw You

face to face

You looked me in the eyes and

told me you loved me?

It’s not your perfection

but rather my rebellion

that creates the distance

between us. And

it. breaks. Your. heart.

And so You have had a plan from the start

To fill the gap

By Grace-

You came to me

face to face

And did not only use words of love

But looked me straight in the eye

and died

my death

You came face to face with it

You gave up Your breath

And Yet

You rose above

You have overcome

the gap between me

and You

So that there will be that day when You say-

I love you-

face to face.

Copyright E. Henry, 2021.

Grace and favour

Having been relatively rubbish at consistency with this blog, I have decided to mix it up a bit and change it!

Today is my 35th birthday and ever since I heard Mimi Wilson in Tanzania talk about taking a year, each year, to go deeper into a particular Biblical theme, I have wanted to do this too.

So today’s the day! I want to look at the word GRACE which is often translated as FAVOUR in the Bible and see what I can find out about it! I will share what I find on here and when I feel inspired I’ll write a poem to go with it! I’m all about receiving God’s Grace afresh this year!

Truth is, God’s word is very much living and relevant for us today and it’s been my experience that his timing in giving me truth from his word has always been perfect.

Photo by nappy on Pexels.com

I hope this journey of discovery is an encouragement to you, as I trust it will be for me too!

First stop-

GENESIS 6 v 8

“But Noah found GRACE/ FAVOUR in the eyes of the LORD.”

Everyone around Noah was corrupt. They are described as only ever having evil thoughts and intentions all the time. They were violent and lawless. They did not see the image of God in each other.

While Noah wasn’t without sin, he walked with His God- his faith in God was accredited to him as righteousness, like Abraham after him. God considered him “a righteous man, blameless among the people of his time .” (v9)

God made a way for Noah and his believing family members to be saved from the flood. He showed them favour- not favouritism! Others had walked away from the grace of God and had hardened their hearts towards Him. They didn’t see their need of the ark. They didn’t believe the warnings. So they were given what they desired – life without God… which doesn’t work when he is the One who gives life.

But to those who heard and believed, God provided a way to overcome the flood. A way to new life. Salvation.

GRACE and FAVOUR can be found in the eyes of the LORD.

GOD’S GRACE and FAVOUR is shown to those who put their faith in God and choose to walk with Him.

GOD’S GRACE and FAVOUR provides for our salvation.

NOAH-

Outwardly things were wasting away

And inwardly the hearts of the people had strayed – they

Walked away completely

From the grace of God.

Disregarding His image in each other

They abused and hurt one another

In every way.

Yet

One man by the name of Noah

Found favour in God’s eyes.

He walked closely to His Maker

And relied fully on Him.

His faith was the access to his Saviour

His family too

Believed God’s word and were the only ones who

Joined Noah on that famous ark.

The waters started to fall-

They did not overwhelm them

They were safe inside

With all God’s provision for new and abundant life.

Copyright E. Henry 2021

Compelling Christ

“What made him do it?”

They ask as they walk by

“Who was he really? A criminal?

Or the Christ?”

Are you persuaded?

Are you convinced?

Can you look at his face or do you just wince?

No, it’s not pretty, not romantic in part

Can you see his blood pouring out of his heart?

His body is battered, his skin is torn

As if a lion had come and shorn

This lamb.

This man

This Jesus

He is an example

Not just a sample, though-

The source

Of compelling love

Not for show- for real

Love does not fail

This man

This Jesus

First asks this

Do you believe it?

Or do you resist?

When we look and see

His face, His heart, His plea

Who could turn from such a need?

A world without this compelling Christ

Is a world which bleeds

and dies

A world with this compelling Christ

Is a world which bleeds

And lives.

E. Henry, 2012

“I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” John 14:6

Better late than never …

Better late than never

That’s what ‘they’ say

But I do feel rather slow today.

In fact, for all of January,

There has been a lethargy

Piggy backing on 2020

But now that February has come into view

I am ready to start the year anew…

To breathe deep and say,

“It’’s ok. I’ll take a day

At a time. I’ll take the pressure

Off me and lean

On Jesus

Who, at the perfect time, came to be

My rescue and hope

To show me the love of the Father

And hold me close.

Copyright E.Henry 2021

Another famous Anna…

We all have our favourite part of the Christmas season and perhaps, like me, you have a favourite character in the actual Christmas story too.

While Christmas Day has been and gone, my favourite character comes into the story eight days after the birth of Christ.

Mary and Joseph bring the new born baby, Jesus to the temple and they meet two extraordinary people: Simeon and Anna.

While I love many things about Simeon’s story, there was something particularly moving about Anna’s story to me this year. Something that has struck me that I had never paid attention to before. I love how God does that!

The thing that struck me anew was that Anna had suffered great pain and heartache – she had been widowed and as far as we know she had not had children in her seven years or marriage either. This would have been a great burden in the time and culture in which she lived. She may have been considered cursed by God. When barren Elizabeth, had given birth to John (earlier in the Christmas accounts), she exclaimed her praise to God for taking away her disgrace among the people.

So Anna had definitely suffered, not only the loss of her husband but the loss of dreams and a future she had wanted.

It occurred to me that there has been a lot of loss in this strange year of 2020 for a lot of people. There has been much pain and trauma. There has been hope deferred. Perhaps, you know something of what Anna felt.

And yet…!

Anna made a choice. A choice to come to the temple and praise God. To worship him and seek his face in her deep pain and she did it without caring what others thought.

She never left the temple.

Powerful words. What must people have thought of her at the time? I know that nowadays she may well be considered an oddball.

She cared more about what God thought of her than what those around her thought about her and she stayed…

She stayed a very long time! She is 84 when we ‘meet’ her. I think of the times I struggle to pray for an hour! And the times when I try to fill the painful places with other things- escapism… comfort eating…

But Anna didn’t. She came to the One who would fully satisfy her and redeem her life and because she did this, she met the very One who fulfils that promise- Jesus- her enough and her redemption.

I certainly could learn from this attitude of pain and praise!

So here is a little poem about Anna, one of my favourite Christmas characters!

Pain and Praise

There is a woman I’d like to acclaim-

A woman perhaps seen as strange

At the time

And now

Of how she was married young

Like many were

And had the complete seven years of ring on finger,

Domesticated wife,

Not a mother as far as we know,

But widowed

Scripture does not show that pain,

Except between the lines we find it

Was a decision she made

To bring it to God in worship.

She came to the temple and night and day she prayed and praised and some may look at her life and say-

A waste!

She could’ve remarried and tried again

But she heard Him call her name in the temple and she concluded it was better for her to be with Him and

In devotion, to bring her pain and praise with raised hands and upward eyes

She gave her all to Him- sacrifice.

So when He came

As a babe to their home

She knew who He was and gave thanks to God-

Redemption had come!

Copyright E.Henry, 2020

The Three P’s

Back in May, I was reflecting on my perceived need for control. Holding on and on… to a fault. Can you relate?

The Three P’s

This sun on my face is delicious

the cool breeze too

Wish it would penetrate right through

To the inner parts

The art

of letting go

Of what? I ask.

Of control.

Heat melting ice

Hot replacing cold

Control of what? I ask.

The outcome.

How things end up

Perfection

And preservation and

Definitely protection of all things sacred.

Is that your job?

The Three P’s Sitting nicely

under each other on the bulletin?

Is that your job?

To perfect?

Or preserve?

Or even protect?

Not one of these is part of your job description!

Not one is asked of you on your God given mission.

Why do what has already been done?

Why try to control the outcome of a battle already won?

Why not leave the winning up to Me?

And you rest beneath the victory banner?

Why not let go … of control?

Copyright. E. Henry, 2020

No doubt

From their perspective

There were easily doubts.

They were stood in front of a tomb. Nothing speaks “The End” better than that, they thought. They had been holding out for Jesus, the healer, to come and make their only brother well. They loved him and they had been troubled at this sickness that had ravaged his body. Their once perhaps strong and dependable brother was seriously ill but they knew someone who could fix him- heal him! They loved him and they knew that Jesus loved them.

In a society, were the male population were expected to provide for their female relatives and family they were also concerned for their futures, if the worst were to happen.

Surely, Jesus would drop everything and come to their aid, they had thought. He had helped so many already! He had given the blind their sight, helped lame people walk confidently on their feet again and restored deformed hands! He was the healer, for sure!

Yes, they had been sure he would come. Besides, he had just left the region recently so he shouldn’t be too far away! They had sent a messenger to track him down and convey the seriousness of the situation.

So they had waited.

The messenger had come back, without Jesus. Without the healer. The only message that he had stayed put.

And now it was more than 4 days later and here they were – standing outside their brother’s grave and Jesus had turned up. If I was Martha I may well have, in grief, uttered the words ‘Better late than never?! Eh, Jesus?!’ When she says how long Lazarus has been buried, I wonder if that was a similar thought?

But Jesus reminded her that if she accepted him as the resurrection and the life like he said he was she would see God show up in His glory. Truth was he was already there!

Yet to show Martha, Mary, me and you that he is not ‘just’ healer but amazingly also the resurrection and the life – the one who gives us our very breath- he said “Roll back the stone” and then “Lazarus, come out”.

Truth is Jesus could’ve have dropped everything straight away and healed Lazarus. Even with a word like he did with the centurion’s son. But then the sisters and, of course, Lazarus himself, would not have realised Jesus’ greater power and authority… over life and death.

I am currently struggling with waiting on Jesus. And many who read this will be too. If not right now you will have in the past or will in the future!

It’s hard because I know and believe certain things about him. He is my guide. He is my provider. He is my healer and he is my friend. But what if he is waiting to show me another element of his character in this? What if he is helping me see him more clearly and evidently then showing me the Glory of God?

“No doubt”

Based on John 11

Two days he waited

They debated

Why?

Bethabara to Bethany was a 20 mile walk

BUT he hardly needed to take stock and consider whether to come or not!

It was his friend, and he loved and respected him

Yet he ‘neglected’ to show up and ‘instead let them down’ when it really mattered

or so they thought…

‘If you had been here my brother would not have died’ was the accusation, the cry

Fact was he didn’t deny it.

Jesus had arrived now but he was ‘late’

And now they couldn’t escape the truth that Lazarus was dead.

Jesus spoke into the grief stricken silence and said…

“Open it up- Take away the rock”

Gasps! Shock!

What? Why?

The smell will be too strong!

Not forget- it’s been 4 days since he’s been gone!

Knowing how long it had been,

His eyes still wet with the sheen of tears, he turned to Martha and calmed her fears –

Did I not tell you that if you believe you will see the glory of God?”

A silent obedience. They took it away, while Jesus looked up and prayed,

“Father, I thank You for Your listening ear and able hand- Help them all to believe and understand!”

And…

With that he raised his voice and a dead man breathed and the people rejoiced

To see the Glory of God.

Copyright. E.Henry, July 2020

‘Son of Man’

I have been reading through the Bible this year using The Bible Project’s ‘Read Scripture’ App. I have thoroughly enjoyed it and absolutely love their work. I could talk a lot about that!! But I am reading through Ezekiel at the moment and there is a lot of difficult things to read. As usual, God is speaking through a prophet to communicate with his people, who up to this point have done what all humans do and done things their own way, without reference to Him, our Creator.

But in this book while there is warning and rebuke (always out of love) there is this passage of chapter 2 verses 1 and 2 (along with a number of other passages) that stick out to me especially. Places where Ezekiel is given visions of the glory of the LORD. We, who are undeserving, are invited to hear God’s word to us. There is grace for us. And what’s more Ezekiel is overcome by the Holy Spirit and so God Himself empowers His prophet to stand to hear His word to him. More grace.

But there is also a choice. A choice to be obedient to that gracious word.

Ezekiel had some very difficult messages to bring to his people. Messages that included rebuke of their idol worship. Messages of warning for coming punishment due to their scant regard for God and his loving kindness toward them. He had to share the message in some very strange and painful ways. But he did it. He did it because he believed God and took Him at his word.

Ezekiel, who was consistently called ‘Son of Man’ by God in this book, received God’s message because he received God’s heart and trusted His character.

I could certainly learn a lot from Ezekiel. Maybe you could too?

“Son of Man

Stand

Up on your feet

And I will speak

To you”

Before these words reached the ground

Their sound

Was heard by ears bent, head low and face down.

The Spirit moved.

Overwhelming every part of me

Every inch He

Changed my heart

And made it flesh.

To see.

To raise these cells, which are but dust

To stand before the glory of the LORD Himself

To hear his voice

I must hear His voice

To me.

A grace and a choice.

Copyright E. Henry, 2020

I can’t breathe!

Alarm bells ring in my head

In my heart

Another hashtag

Another name

Getting less than the 15 minutes of fame

that others less honourably obtain ….

This is real. This is now. This is 2020

And this is how

NO-ONE should be treated.

Ever. Forever

Full stop.

My skin is pale

His was dark

Why is there a marked difference

…in justice?

A medical incidence?

Or a public murder?

Our words will not cover a multitude of wrongs.

We all have rights

And responsibilities.

Accountability.

Those who lead more so than others

And how do you explain or account for

The mothers

Who have lost sons and daughters,

fathers and mothers,

sisters and brothers

In this ‘quiet’ travesty.

Not that the voices aren’t shouting but rather their necks are weighed down by the injustice of the silence to their words…

I can’t breathe!

The Greatest Person?

The Greatest Person?

After dinner

Full to the brim

yet questions threatened to unsettle them

Discourse of the richest kind

The deepest kind

They find

it confusing and overwhelming to say the least

The greatest person? They ask

Is the lowliest he said.

Then showed them.

In more than one way.

At first with hand and foot.

Washing feet – even theirs

Coming down off his seat

and taking towel and water

he was the example of servant love – the lowest being the greatest.

But again in less than 24 hours he would show them again

What it meant to be great

In a most unlikely way…

He stayed

put on that cross of wood

Nailed to a tree

Reviled and rejected by the very people

He created

Lowering himself

He was lifted high

And everyone who walks by

Scoffs

“He saved others yet he cannot save his own flesh and blood”

Watching on from down below

she knows he can and is doing exactly this-

By staying there and going through with death itself

He would save his people from the same verdict

The perfect one at heavens side

brought down low then lifted high

Blood and water

In their

In my

place.

© Emily Henry, 2020