Thursday, 25 February 2021

Reconciliation


Our Lenten devotion comes from the pen of Mr Bill Griffin this morning. Thank you Bill for your contribution.

As I write this (on 14 Nov. 2020) I am thinking of the bombing of Coventry Cathedral in North England on this day exactly 80 years ago. Only the walls and shattered shell of the once beautiful place of worship remained. But .... from the ashes arose not only the magnificent new cathedral, but also a wonderful  ministry of reconciliation which seeks each day to bring harmony into our chaotic and unforgiving world. Instead of recrimination, forgiveness. Instead of retaliation, restoration. Instead of hate, the embracing love of Jesus.

Stretching out his encompassing arms on the cross, Jesus prayed "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do." How his Saviour heart must grieve as the world he loves continues to distance itself from him, resulting only as it does in strife and degradation.

In 2 Corinthians 5.19 we read that God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself. J.B. Phillips renders this verse - "God in Christ was restoring the world to himself, no longer counting our sins, but blotting them out. This is the wonderful message He has given us to tell others." How effective are we His people in telling and living out this awesome reconciling action of God, in these times?

From the smouldering debris of the cathedral, someone unknown propped up two pieces of blackened rafters in the form of a cross, and wrote in charcoal on the scorched wall the words "Father forgive." Just those two words. You may see them there today - a deeply moving experience.

'Father forgive. Forgive my prejudice, intolerance, self centredness, greed, indifference and unlovingness. Supply in full measure your Spirit who reconciles and unites people everywhere in the love of Christ.' Amen.

Living in Grace
D3LM3

Wednesday, 24 February 2021

Keep your heart


The word lent comes from the Dutch or German word for lente mean spring and in Europe that is so, while here in the Cape we will be experiencing autumn.  Each season is important for the health of the earth which includes us humans.

Lent is a time of anticipation, of new growth, shoots coming out of the ground.  The church uses Lent as a time of renewal of our spiritual lives. 

I have been reading a book by Arnold Mol, ‘Think New, Live New.’  Well worth a read and challenging in a gentle way.  Arnold quotes Proverbs 4:23, ‘Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flows the springs of life.’

Throughout scripture we have examples of men who ignored God’s Word and chose to do things their own way.  We need to pray for our leaders here in South Africa as well as world leaders that they may follow God’s direction and love the people they serve.

Lockdown has meant different things to people, some have found it difficult to work from home, others have found it easy and enjoy working at their own pace instead of at the office.   Children have struggled to keep focused and learn via the internet, others have done well, and the Matric result will reflect this trend.

As a retiree I have found it quite pleasant but as a people’s person I have found it difficult as I thrive on being with people.  Not being able to visit has been hard, not meeting with the people from the Bible study has been strange, but I keep in touch through phone calls and social media (not so much).

I would encourage myself and all who read this that we continue to proclaim that God is still on the throne, not far away but as near as the breath we take, that His love is enduring, and that Jesus knows what we are experiencing as He came to earth and walked the road to Gethsemane.  Let Him who loves us walk with you.

May this Lent be a renewal of our spiritual lives. 

Louise Hazell

Tuesday, 23 February 2021

Inviting God in


Revelation 3:22 - “Look! I stand at the door and knock.  If you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in and we will share a meal together as friends”

Forty years ago, I heard this message on a tape by Jack Cook. I had been going to church for a short while with a neighbour but did not think much of it.  I wondered what people got excited about, sure there was ‘happy clappy’ singing and at times I enjoyed the entertainment! I borrowed the tape by Jack Cook, as I thought it might help me understand a little more about church. I think I dozed off but woke just as the verse above was read.  It was a like a bolt of lightning, and I found myself lying on the lounge floor, saying “Yes come in.”  Nothing else really happened but I slept well for the first time in months.

Nothing really changed but I found that I was not shouting and swearing at the boys to get up and go to school. I carried on with life as usual, but there was a strange kind of peace; I was coping with life. I went to badminton and one of the ladies asked me what had happened because she thought I was different.  I knew that life was changing but, just because I heard one verse of scripture??  I went to chat with Brian Hazell and together we went through ‘The First Steps’  over the course of 6 weeks and I came to understand a little more but, I never could understand that I didn’t have to earn my way to heaven.  I was baptized during lent and what an Easter that was, God had accepted my invitation to ‘come in’ and turned my whole life upside down.  I still did not understand but I tried so hard to!

There have been many ups and downs, but the downs have never been as low as they were before inviting God into my life. There are times in my walk that I seem to take one step forward and 2 steps back. He has asked me to do many things and I have failed repeatedly, but He is always there to pick me up!  I believe that our God will never leave or forsake me, and His life was sacrificed to give me new life. It is good to live my life with God knowing that His mercies are new every morning for each of us.  I still do not understand.

There is a line from a play in which I performed many times in Covenant Players, ‘It is not necessary that you understand. If you understand and believe that is wisdom but, if you do not understand and believe that is faith’. (Anybody Know the Way by Charles M. Tanner)

Our devotion today was written by Sue Rice - thanks Sue.

Living in Grace

D3LM3

Monday, 22 February 2021

Change from within


"Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen." - 1 John 4:20

Let each failure and shortcoming simply urge us to turn humbly and meekly to the Lamb of God. Have full assurance that where He is enthroned in the heart, His humility and gentleness will be one of the streams of living water that flow from within us.

Let us look on every brother and sister who irritates or troubles us as God's means of grace. Let us look on him or her as God's instrument for our purification, for our exercise of the humility that Jesus, our Life, breathes within us.

And let us have such faith in the all of God and the nothing of self, so that we may, in God's power, seek only to serve one another in love.

These are challenging words today. Thank you Avril Hoepner for your thoughts.

Living in Grace
D3LM3


Sunday, 21 February 2021

Going Home


Our Lent reflection today is share by Ken Gerhardt - thanks for your contribution Ken.

Romans 8:11 (HCSB) "And if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead lives in you, then He who raised Christ from the dead will also bring (quicken) your mortal bodies to life...”

I remain blown away that the very same Holy Spirit lives in me at this moment, this hour –today and yes, 2,021 years later remains ever-present to all who believe! How can I not be overwhelmed? He, our Lord God that raised Jesus from the dead, has promised to quicken my body back to life (Romans 8:23 NIV)!

Yes, of course, I wait eagerly and groan deep within for Christ Jesus to come back and to take me home at long last... [Romans 8:18-30 is the cream & cherry on top of Holy Scripture.]

My Prayer: “In just a little while, He who is coming will come and will not delay.” Hebrews 10:37 (NIV)

Living in Grace
D3LM3

Question to ponder: How does it make you feel that the same Spirit that lived in Moses, Elijah and Jesus is living in us? 

Saturday, 20 February 2021

Making preparations



We prepare for all the big events and functions in our lives without even giving it much thought. 

We prepare for the big Christmas dinners;
We prepare for the family weddings;
We prepare the children to write their school exams;
We prepare for sporting events.

The list goes on...

In a real way, preparation is part of our lives, so it leaves me wondering why we struggle to make room in our lives for Spiritual preparation? 

This is one of the reasons why I love LENT - it keeps pulling me back to the question: "Does the Cross and Resurrection make a difference in my life? And if the answer is 'YES', then what will assist me in preparing my heart for this incredible gift?"

Even Jesus made preparations ...

    Luke 22: 8 - Jesus sent Peter and John, saying, “Go and make preparations for us to eat the Passover.”
    "He will show you a large room upstairs, all furnished. Make preparations there.” - Luke 22:12

    As Benjamin Franklin once said: "By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail!"
    Living in Grace
    D3LM3

Thursday, 18 February 2021

Forgiveness


 "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do." - Luke 23:24

An advertisement for a paint product on TV claimed that forgiveness is easy. Many would disagree - it is not easy to forgive someone who has wronged you or wronged a loved one. Hurt is very real and forgiveness is extremely difficult.

Jesus' words and example have however made a significant difference in many of the lives of his followers. Dr Clarence Macarty tells of the young Armenian girl who saw her brother killed by a Turkish soldier. Years later, when the girl had become a nurse, she was given the task of nursing this same soldier, now wounded. She cared tenderly for him, and at last he asked her how she could do it, knowing he had killed her brother. She replied: "I have a religion that teaches me to forgive."

As we journey through this Lenten period we should search our hearts to find if we harbour any bitterness or resentment against any person. If so, we need to ask Jesus Christ to help us replace these with the spirit of forgiveness.

Prayer Thought: Father I pray that you will help me to forgive others as you have forgiven me.

We are grateful to Mrs Lynn Allison for her contribution today.

Living in Grace
D3LM3