Monday, 18 February 2019

Wait and Hope - The Count of Monte Cristo

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When Alexandre Dumas wrote his epic The Count of Monte Cristo I wonder if he realised how many people would be drawn to God's love through his beleaguered character Edmond Dantes. For it is in this man's struggle for revenge, hope, love and freedom that we can see the story of Grace written for all of us to see.

On occasions when we wrestle with forgiveness - forgiving others and asking for our own forgiveness - we tend to think that resolutions will be quick. However, they seldom are. In fact, usually one is resigned to wait and hope for peace to prevail. It is these words 'wait and hope' that strike at the heart of God's design. Nothing is done quickly - but it is always filled with HOPE.

"Live and be happy, beloved children of my heart, and never forget that, until the day comes when God will deign to reveal the future to man, all human wisdom is contained in these words: WAIT AND HOPE! Your friend, Edmond Dantes (Count of Monte Cristo)"

Is there something you have been praying for? What do these two words mean for you today - WAIT, HOPE?

Lamentations 3:28-30 - When life is heavy and hard to take, go off by yourself. Enter the silence. Bow in prayer. Don’t ask questions: Wait for hope to appear. Don’t run from trouble. Take it full-face. The “worst” is never the worst.

Living in Grace

Sunday, 17 February 2019

Invasion of our lives

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" see actual invasions of human life by the presence and action of God ... greatly encouraged me to believe that the life and promises given in the person of Christ and in Scripture were meant for us today. I saw that ordinary individuals who sought the Lord would find him real ..." - Dallas Willard

Mention the word "invasion" to someone and you will almost always find a negative connotation linked to the word. An "Invasion" of any kind is met with stubborn resistance and a great push back! However, in it's purest form, I imagine the word simply means "something coming from the outside" - and yes, we usually use the word to speak of bad elements: 

Armies invade;
Locusts invade:
Tourists invade.

But, what if we allowed God to invade? - I mean in a good sense? What if we allowed the Spirit of God to enter into our lives? If you like, to open our hearts to the invasion of the Spirit - coming from outside our world to change us for the good! Wouldn't that be amazing?

And this is what Dallas Willard hints at in his quote (above) - when the Holy Spirit grabs hold of ordinary people and flips their lives around, miracles happen. The early church witnessed this and there is no reason why we can't witness these things again.

Acts 1:8 -  But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you;

Living in Grace

Friday, 15 February 2019

Earth maker

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In her book 'Penguins and Golden Calves', Madeleine L'Engle mentions how she came across an unusual prayer in a book in New Zealand. In this particular prayer book, the Trinity is referred to as "Earth Maker, Pain Bearer, Life Giver."

I think it is definitely unusual, but also very intriguing. As soon as we try and pin God down through our use of language, we immediately run out of words to describe God in an adequate way. God is always going to be SO MUCH MORE than we can imagine, comprehend or describe.

Father - Creator - Author - Earth Maker
Son - Jesus - Friend - Saviour - Redeemer - Pain Bearer
Spirit - Comforter - Guide - Advocate - Life Giver

Exodus 34:10"Then the Lord said: “I am making a covenant with you. Before all your people I will do wonders never before done in any nation in all the world. The people you live among will see how awesome is the work that I, the Lord, will do for you."

Living in Grace

Thursday, 14 February 2019

Live life to the full

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Abraham Lincoln once remarked that "in the end, it is not the years in your life that count. It is the life in your years." At first reading it doesn't always hit home as much as it should do, but then when you dwell on it, you realise how much sense it makes. You could live to be 100 years old and still feel that you haven't lived a full life, whereas some people only live into their teens and seem to have already accomplished so much.

Take the following people for example - it is amazing that we still speak about the impact they made on the world, especially when they all died so young.

Agnes of Rome - 13
Olivia of Palmero - 15
Catherine of Alexandria - 18
Andrew Kim Taegon - 25
Jim Elliot - 28
Esther John -31
Nate Saint - 32
Dietrich Bonhoeffer - 39
Eric Liddell - 43
Jesus of Nazareth - 33

If you don't know some of these names then please google them - they all died serving the Lord, many of them as young martyrs for their faith.

Colossians 1:10 " that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God."

Living in Grace

Wednesday, 13 February 2019

A word for the season of load-shedding

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I found it quite ironic that the reading that came to mind in this week of load-shedding, happens to be speaking about LIGHT. Thanks to David,  the great poet, songwriter, king and shepherd, we have some hope for when times are dark - which in South Africa is at least twice a day at the moment :)

"The Lord is my light and my salvation—
    whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the stronghold of my life—
    of whom shall I be afraid?" - Psalm 27:1

Eugene Peterson adds his insight to this wonderful verse:

Light, space, zest—
    that’s God!
So, with him on my side I’m fearless,
    afraid of no one and nothing.

Living in Grace

Tuesday, 12 February 2019

The gift of a Star!

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When were you ever given a Star?
I am not speaking about a gold or silver star in pre-school - I am talking about an actual Star!? A star like Andromeda, Orion, Sirius, Polaris?
I guess all of us have answered my weird question with a resounding, "Well, NEVER, of course! We have never been given an actual Star!"

In Revelation, the word of God goes out to the church to encourage her to persevere and to hang on until Jesus returns. John's words then suggest that God will actually give us a Star - not just any Star, but the Morning Star.

"I will also give that one the morning star." - Revelation 2:28

The symbolism is important for us in this message, because the 'Morning Star' refers to the Messiah. This comes through clearly towards the end of Revelation, where John writes:

Revelation 22:16 - “I, Jesus, have sent my angel to give you this testimony for the churches. I am the Root and the Offspring of David, and the bright Morning Star.”

So the next time you are awake early in the morning look out for the morning star. It is a daily reminder that God has given us the greatest star of them all - His Son - the Morning Star.

Living in Grace

Monday, 11 February 2019

Getting it right

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You are not going to get it right all the time. That is a fact! Of course this is not an excuse to become complacent or lazy, but rather to recognise the need to improve and learn from your mistakes. People are very good at finding fault with our shortcomings, and forgetting what we actually get right, even if it is only most of the time.

On a spiritual and Christian level, this sentiment also applies. We seek to follow Jesus and to be God-fearing, but there will be times when we miss the mark. The important thing is to be humble enough to admit our mistakes and to listen to the promptings of the Spirit.

Take a look at this word to the church in Thyatira - "I know your deeds, your love and faith, your service and perseverance, and that you are now doing more than you did at first." (Revelation 2:19)
At first glance, we see that they got so much right, but there was still a word of caution for them later in the same letter. They didn't get it right 100% of the time, but they needed to heed the word from the Spirit.

Thought: Don't let our imperfections stop us from giving our ALL for Christ.

Living in Grace