I know I get a bit frustrated when people speak to me at great length about people I have never met. Forgive me then, because I want to mention Rev. Jim Graham again. I lost track of time this afternoon for one simple reason: I was captivated by Jim’s book, “The God-Life, Letters of the Apostle Paul as personalised by Jim Graham.” The title, unlike the titles of my sometimes bewildering poems which I post here from time to time, is a perfect description of what the book is! It is not a word for word translation of the letters of Paul as such, but his letters interwoven with Jim’s incredible insight and clarity. I found myself stuck to my seat with the same presence and power of the Holy Spirit that attended Jim’s spoken preaching and teaching ministry. As Rev. Malcolm Duncan says of the book, “I was caught up in the sheer power of the word of God.” I hope you might be able to buy it and keep it handy when you are reading some of the letters of Paul in your bible. If you didn’t know Jim, you won’t have the delight of hearing in your mind his accent (wonderfully Scottish!) and intonation etc, but it will still benefit you enormously.
I was reading Jim’s personalisation of “Romans” today. I guess it helped me a lot partly due to some uncertainties about my future; what will life or any ministry look like a year from now? Somehow as I was reading “Romans” I saw in a new way that Chapters 9 – 11 are more integral and central to the whole flow of Romans than I had perhaps realised up until now. I remember in the dim and distant past Rev. David Pawson saying so, but somehow I really saw it with Jim’s help. By the end of chapter 8 of Romans Paul has brought us to the point of seeing that nothing can ever separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus. In Chapter 9 he continues with that theme in relation to the Jews primarily. Jim puts the connection in Paul’s thought like this: “From what I have just written (at the end of chapter 8 especially) it seems completely incongruous and contradictory what I am writing now. I have just said that when God chooses us He keeps us and nothing can separate us from His love. Yet, it seems that my Jewish kinsmen have been separated from that love…” (page 41)
If you have been a believer for any length of time you will probably know the promise of Romans 8 that there is nothing that can separate us from God’s love in time or eternity. That does not mean however that we won’t encounter times where we are not sure what is going on either in our own life or in the lives of others who have trusted in the promise of God’s unwavering love. That is the question Paul deals with in Romans 9 -11 with a particular reference to the future of the Jews in the purposes of God. As I read Jim’s book, there are 3 words that i seemed to notice in relation to God: CHARACTER, PROMISE, PURPOSE. I think I was helped to see in a fresh way that God will never be untrue to any of the 3! That is good for me to know as I consider a future whose shape is not yet distinct. I can trust in God’s Character, His promises and His purposes. If I put my trust in Him concerning thee 3 aspects of His being and His ways, then I can be sure indeed that “malign influences in whatever shape of form they come cannot create a chasm between us and the lavish limitlessness of God’s love. The stars cannot hurt, influence or affect you, for they, too, are powerless to separate you from God’s love. Even if by some wild flight of your imagination, there emerged another and different world, you would still be safe, enwrapped by the love of God. So, think of every terrifying thing that this or any other world can produce and be absolutely certain and secure that not one of them is able to separate the Christian from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus; for He is Lord of every terror and Master of every world!” (Page 40)
It was good for me to remember that today, and it may be you are facing uncertainties and need this reminder of what is certain. Perhaps after the last couple of weeks in the wake of several terror attacks in Europe and elsewhere, we can no longer deny the shape of the world is changing, a different world is indeed emerging, in which uncertainty, lack of safety and at times terror and terrorist activity are undeniable realities.There is an answer when terror at the worst, uncertainty at at the least seems to want to grip hold of a believer: “Jesus is Lord of every terror and Master of every world.”
P.S. Buy the book, even if it means sacrificing buying something else. It is wonderful!
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