Sunday 31 March 2013

I Believe

I Believe in the Resurrection!
I know that for many people it is far-fetched and they can't get their heads around it, but I know in my Spirit that Jesus is Alive. The Resurrection is one of the most powerful truths in our Christian faith and in order for us to fully believe it, we need FAITH.

And what is more, would a movement (Christianity) spread so far and wide, and last for so long, if it were based upon mere human schemes or planning? Of course not. Would men and women be willing to die for a fraud or trickster - I know that I wouldn't. Yet, how is it so, that billions of people have experienced the touch of a Risen Saviour? It is a mystery, I know, but that doesn't mean that it isn't true. Just because my little mind can't explain it, doesn't mean that God didn't do it.

He is Risen! Jesus lives! Hallelujah.

Here is the expression of our Faith. This creed has helped Christians down the ages hold onto their belief and express the core statements of our Faith:

I believe in God, the Father almighty, 
creator of heaven and earth. 
I believe in Jesus Christ, God's only Son, our Lord, 
who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, 
born of the Virgin Mary, 
suffered under Pontius Pilate, 
was crucified, died, and was buried; 
descended to the dead. 
On the third day he rose again; 
he ascended into heaven, 
he is seated at the right hand of the Father, 
and he will come again to judge the living and the dead. 
I believe in the Holy Spirit, 
the holy catholic church, 
the communion of saints, 
the forgiveness of sins, 
the resurrection of the body, 
and the life everlasting. AMEN.

Live in his grace today and always.

Saturday 30 March 2013

Easter Love - Lent 36

As I have journey through some of the Psalms during Lent, I have been amazed at the 'Gospel' presented in these songs and prayers. They were written many years before Jesus was born, but they were certainly created with the Messiah in mind.

I think that it is fitting that on this Easter morning we reflect on the following words from Psalm 36:

Your love, Lord, reaches to the heavens,
    your faithfulness to the skies.
Your righteousness is like the highest mountains,
    your justice like the great deep.
    You, Lord, preserve both people and animals.
How priceless is your unfailing love, O God!
    People take refuge in the shadow of your wings.
They feast in the abundance of your house;
    you give them drink from your river of delights.
For with you is the fountain of life;
    in your light we see light.

Do you see how powerful this is when we read it from this side of the Easter story. This is WOW!
Thank you Lord of the agony of Cross and the glory of the empty tomb.


Living in Grace

Friday 29 March 2013

Answered prayers - Lent 35

Wake up! Rise to my defense! Take up my case, my God and my Lord. Declare me not guilty, O Lord my God, for you give justice. Don’t let my enemies laugh about me in my troubles. (Psalms 35:23, 24 NLT)

All of the prayers of David are answered in the Easter story. Jesus arises in the midst of our sin and defends us against the onslaught of evil. He takes up our case with his Father and pleads our innocence. Through Jesus' death on the cross our sins are paid for and we are declared "Not Guitly!"

That is an amazing answer to prayer.
The cross answers many a prayer.
The cross proves to be God's unique message of love.

Let us thank God for the gift of the cross. As cruel as it was, for Jesus, it ultimately blessed us with new life and freedom from sin.

Living in Grace

Thursday 28 March 2013

Good Friday - Lent 34

There are many verses in Psalm 34 that help us reflect on Christ's work on the cross. Read through a few of these and see what I mean.

  • "The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears them." (V.17) - Jesus was totally pure, holy and righteous when he died on the Cross. Although his cry from the Cross seems to fall on the deaf ears of the Father, he is heard. The Lord hears all our cries.

  • "The Lord is close to the broken-hearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit." (v.18) - Our God is able to relate to all of our pain and suffering, because he went through the agony of the cross. He is able to save our crushed spirit's as well offer us eternal life.
  •  "He protects all his bones, not one of them will be broken." (V.19) - This prophecy is fulfilled on Good Friday, when not one of Jesus' bones were broken. 
May you have a blessed Easter Weekend and may your Friday indeed be a GOOD day.

Living in Grace

"No one will be condemned who takes refuge in him." - Psalm 34:22

Wednesday 27 March 2013

By what power? - Lent 33

Who is going to deliver you from your time of trouble?
Who is able to bring you peace in the midst of your turmoil?
Are you strong enough to fend off the attacks of others and the world?

While you think about an appropriate answer to these questions, reflect on these words from Psalm 33

"No king is saved, by the size of his army;
no warrior escapes by his great strength.
A horse is a vain hope for deliverance;
despite all its strength it cannot save." - v.16-17

This Easter period remember that all our human attempts at saving ourselves will prove fruitless. We can never save ourselves. But if you disagree with me, that's fine. Keep trying to prove yourself to others by trusting in your own strength, might, intellect and brilliance.

When you are tired of trying that, remember this:
Salvation is found in only one person - Jesus!

"The first step in a person's salvation is knowledge of their sin." - Lucius Annaeus Seneca

"We wait in hope for the Lord;
he is our help and our shield." - v.20

Living in Grace

Tuesday 26 March 2013

Go M.A.D for SADD

Why don't you go MAD over this Easter period? I am not speaking about going crazy, but rather about Making A Difference...

My friend, Mark is running the Two Oceans Marathon this weekend for a great cause. He is running for an organisation called SADD (South African's Against Drunk Drivers) and I believe we should be joining him with our thoughts, prayers and support. As you know, this is something that is close to our hearts as we lost Barry in a car accident in October, so if you want to know more, check out the link below...

Back a Buddy

Mark is nearly at his target - let's see if we can go MAD and help him reach it before the end of the Easter Weekend.

Blessings to you.

Living in Grace

Let's not be confused - Lent 32

There are a lot of things happening over the Easter period, but let us not be confused by all of this potential "mayhem!". Easter is only about 1 thing - and in my opinion it is this:

The Love of God, revealed to us through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

It is through Jesus' death on the cross that my sins are paid for - the debt has been covered by Jesus. There is now nothing that can stand in the way of our relationship with God - the last remaining obstacles, sin and death, have been shown the door. They are no longer welcome in our homes!

"Blessed is the one
    whose transgressions are forgiven,
    whose sins are covered.
Blessed is the one
    whose sin the Lord does not count against them
    and in whose spirit is no deceit." - Psalm 32:1-2

May your Easter weekend be happy - not only because of what you get up to, but primarily because of what Jesus has already done for you.

Living in Grace

Monday 25 March 2013

A person of Refuge - Lent 31

"There are two means of refuge from the miseries of life: music and cats." - Albert Schweitzer

I have to disagree with Mr Schweitzer on this point (and I hope not to offend you cat-lovers out there!) Both music and cats may offer some temporary distraction from the 'miseries of life', but I would not consider them to be places of refuge. In fact, I believe that true refuge can only be sought in a person - in particular, Jesus.

It is in Jesus that I find shelter, comfort, protection, relief and freedom from my struggles. This is regardless of the 'place' I may find myself. We know that our difficulties may not be removed from us permanently, but we need to be reminded that we can turn to God for true refuge.

David understood this well. Read his words in Psalm 31:

In you, Lord, I have taken refuge;
    let me never be put to shame;
    deliver me in your righteousness.
Turn your ear to me,
    come quickly to my rescue;
be my rock of refuge,
    a strong fortress to save me.
Since you are my rock and my fortress,
    for the sake of your name lead and guide me.
Keep me free from the trap that is set for me,
    for you are my refuge.

Just out of interest - David is pointing out that God 'has been' a refuge in the past; He 'will be' a refuge in the future & God is a refuge in the present.

Be blessed by the love of God today.

Living in Grace

Sunday 24 March 2013

I'll take that - Lent 30

"I'd take that!"
I found myself saying these words when I read through Psalm 30 this evening, especially verse 5.

"For his anger lasts only a moment,
    but his favour lasts a lifetime;
weeping may stay for the night,
    but rejoicing comes in the morning."

If you gave me the option of a moment of righteous anger, followed by a lifetime of Godly favour - I'd take that! The more I get to know the heart of God, the more I reflect on how anger is not God's natural desire. Sure, God can get very angry and often he has cause to be frustrated and agro with us, yet this is not what God wants us to remember of Him. God wants us to remember that this anger passes and it is always followed by moments of glorious favour and blessing.

As we contemplate the Cross this Holy Week, remember that is was a mixture of anger (at sin) and Divine Love that allowed God to send Jesus into the world. His anger needed to be revealed in order that his favour would be given.

Thank you Lord, that although we may weep in the evening, there will be rejoicing in the morning. Your promise is always to turn the tables! Pain replaced by joy. Sin replaced by Love. Conflict replaced with Peace. Amen.

Living in Grace

Saturday 23 March 2013

The voice - Lent 29

What kind of "Voice" does God have?
Does God perhaps speak with an accent?

Just stop for a moment and think about that. We all are recognisable by our voices. Even if we haven't spoken to someone in a while, we may instantly recognise their voice on the phone.
But what about God. Can you imagine how he might speak?

The Bible often uses speech as a way of relating how God communicates with us, but very few people have actually heard the audible voice of God. In Psalm 29 David uses the word "voice" many times to explain how God communicates with the Israelites.

Why don't you reflect on these verses and see what comes to mind:

3 The voice of the Lord is over the waters;
    the God of glory thunders,
    the Lord thunders over the mighty waters.
The voice of the Lord is powerful;
    the voice of the Lord is majestic.
The voice of the Lord breaks the cedars;
    the Lord breaks in pieces the cedars of Lebanon.
He makes Lebanon leap like a calf,
    Sirion like a young wild ox.
The voice of the Lord strikes
    with flashes of lightning.
The voice of the Lord shakes the desert;
    the Lord shakes the Desert of Kadesh.
The voice of the Lord twists the oaks
    and strips the forests bare.
And in his temple all cry, ‘Glory!’

May we all listen for the voice of God today and may it be a sweet sound unto our ears. May we be prompted to act on God's voice.

Living in Grace

Wednesday 20 March 2013

And - Lent 28

There is so much power in the 3 letter word 'AND' - It has the ability to turn a sentence on it's head or alter the entire feeling of a verse. Take Psalm 28:7 as a starter:

" heart trusts in him, AND I am helped."

It is one thing to proclaim that we trust in God, but it adds incredible weight to our proclamation when we can respond - "AND I am helped!" God is not just sitting back on a deck chair smiling at our attempts to trust in him, but God is desperate to offer us help and grace. Salvation and redemption are God's clear way of revealing how he desires to help us.

May you know the tangible help of God's spirit today.

Here are a few more 'AND' gems for you...

Genesis 1:31 - "God saw all that he had made, and it was very good."

Hebrews 12:1 - "And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us..."

John 14:3 - "And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me.."

Living in Grace

Tuesday 19 March 2013

Light - Lent 27

What immediately comes to your mind when you heard the word "Light?"

  • Life
  • Fading darkness
  • Hope
  • Security ( just ask a child who is afraid of the dark)
  • Revealing hidden things
  • ?
Is it possible that David's song in Psalm 27 included some of these things? I think so...

"The Lord is my light and my salvation— so why should I be afraid? The Lord is my fortress, protecting me from danger, so why should I tremble?" - Psalms 27:1

What do these words mean for you and your faith today?
Allow the "Light" of God's spirit to speak to you today.

Living in Grace

Sunday 17 March 2013

Check up time - Lent 26

When it is time for our medical check up, we want to make sure that the doctor does a thorough check up and hopefully we get given a clear bill of health. David asks the Lord to give him a spiritual check up in Psalm 26.

"Examine me, God, from head to foot, order your battery of tests.
Make sure I’m fit 
inside and out." - Psalm 26:2

David wants to make sure that he is fit for the work of the Lord and I admit that it is a brave prayer to pray. Would you be willing to pray that kind of prayer?

His ultimate reason for praying this prayer is because he wants to keep in step with God, all the way. David wants to keep sight of God's love and guidance.
"So I never lose sight of your love, but keep in step with you, never missing a beat." (v.3)

Are you keeping your eyes fixed on Jesus? Keep in step with Him and see how far He leads you.
May God bless you this week.

Living in Grace

Friday 15 March 2013

Searching for Sugarman - Lent 25

If you are a music lover, do yourself a favour and watch the documentary "Searching for Sugarman."
I think it is an incredible story, perhaps made all the better by the listening to the songs of my youth. There are a lot of remarkable things about the life-story of Sixto Rodriguez, but the baffling one is how a musician could be so popular in a foreign country (South Africa), and yet be unheard of in his home (America). If you like, Rodriguez became a forgotten musician in his own country.

I would like to make a link between his story and the Psalm for today (Psalm 25). David calls out to God in way that 'feels' as if God has forgotten him. Even in his prayers he asks God to 'remember him' (v.7). However, as we know, God has not forgotten him and nor will God forget us.

God always remembers his children!

Living in Grace

Psalm 25: 21 - "May integrity and uprightness protect me, because my hope is in you."

Thursday 14 March 2013

King of Glory - Lent 24

How many times do you need to say something to get your message across? Twice, three times?
Well, in Psalm 24 David uses a phrase 5 times!

'King of Glory'
'King of Glory'
'King of Glory'
'King of Glory'
'King of Glory'

Clearly he wants people to understand something unique about Yahweh. He is not just a king, but he is the King of Glory!

"Who is this King of glory?
The Lord Almighty - 
he is the King of glory." - Psalm 24:10

What does this phrase mean for you?
Let me know your thoughts if you have a moment please.

Living in Grace

Wednesday 13 March 2013

Protector and comforter - Lent 23

Often we box God into the image of "sweet Jesus, gentle and mild." However, this is not only inaccurate, but it undermines the true character of God. As a shepherd David has first hand experience of protecting and then comforting the flock under his care.

Shepherd's are not afraid to use a rod to fight off wild beasts from their sheep and they also know how to use their staffs to protect the sheep from wandering off and hurting themselves.

"Even when I walk through the darkest valley, I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me. Your rod and your staff protect and comfort me." - (Psalms 23:4 NLT)

May you know God's protection and comfort today.

Living in Grace

Tuesday 12 March 2013

Why me? - Lent 22

Why me?
Why do I always seem to be swimming upstream? 
Why do I get the raw end of the deal?

Have you felt like this recently? Have these questions come from your mouth as you wrestle with issues in your life? Well, if the answer is 'Yes', then today's Psalm is for you. David writes these powerful words (Psalm 22:1-2):

"My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
    Why are you so far from saving me,
    so far from my cries of anguish?
My God, I cry out by day, but you do not answer,
    by night, but I find no rest." 

We may recognise these words as the same cry that Jesus prays from Calvary. Some people believe that this was Jesus' way of reminding people that he was the Messiah - Psalm 22 is known as a Messianic Psalm and so by quoting the opening lines people would 'join the spiritual dots' and acknowledge him as Saviour. 

Other Christians are also content with the explanation of Jesus' sense of abandonment, when he dies on the cross, and so these words relate to this moment. 

Ultimately we rest with the fact that Jesus understands our every cry and need. You are not alone today - God is with you.

Living in Grace

Monday 11 March 2013

Recognising strength in others - Lent 21

It is not often that people rejoice in the strong points of others. Admitting that someone else is better, or stronger, than we are, is very humbling. Yet, in Psalm 21 David does exactly this - he praises the strength of the Lord and offers to sing praise to God's might.

We may think that this is an obvious thing to do and so what makes David special for doing this? However, in an age where kings guarded their kingdoms with jealous care, David recognises that even he (as king of Israel) serves a far greater God.

"The king rejoices in your strength, Lord.How great is his joy in the victories you give!" - Psalm 21:1

"Be exalted in your strength, Lord;we will sing and praise your might." - v.13

Are you able to acknowledge the strengths of other Christians without becoming jealous of their gifting? Perhaps it is worth praying about today.

Living in Grace

Saturday 9 March 2013

Chariots and horses - Lent 20

Some people like to brag about the cars they drive or how much money they have in their bank account. This is nothing new though - people have been bragging about material things for thousands of years. In David's day some people put their trust in chariots and horses, perhaps bragging to their friends about how awesome their were.

Psalm 20:7 - "Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God."

In the end, we need to trust in someone who is more meaningful than a material object. That is Jesus for me - what about you? Who are you trusting in today?

Have a blessed day.

Living in Grace

Friday 8 March 2013

Signposts, Life-maps and directions - Lent 19

Everyday we move past various signs and signposts. Perhaps they tell us street names or what our maximum speed should be or perhaps they even advertise some random product. 

David argues that God also has many signposts for us to take notice of. They show us the right road to travel or which directions to take. They point us in the godly direction, amidst a world of other enticing choices. These "directions" of God are perfect and they pull our lives together. 

"The signposts of God are clear and point out the right road. The life-maps of God are right, showing the way to joy. The directions of God are plain and easy on the eyes. God 's reputation is twenty-four-carat gold, with a lifetime guarantee. The decisions of God are accurate down to the nth degree." -  (Psalm 19:7-9 MSG)

God's signposts can be trusted because his reputation is flawless. We know that he won't lead us astray with his directions.

Look for God's signposts in the Bible and then follow them.

Living in grace

Tuesday 5 March 2013

Say "I love you" - Lent 18

When last did you say "I love you God?"
We find it easy to ask God for things and to pour our hearts out to Him. But, we need to be free to tell God that we love Him. David is not afraid to say this and ironically it is one of the few times this is recorded in the Scriptures.

 "I love you, God — you make me strong.
God is bedrock under my feet, the castle in which I live, my rescuing knight.
My God—the high crag where I run for dear life, hiding behind the boulders, safe in the granite hideout." (Psalm 18:1, 2 MSG)

Jesus loves you.
Tell God that you love him today.

Living in Grace

Monday 4 March 2013

God's favourite - Lent 17

It is hard to imagine that God could have favourites. A favourite prophet; a favourite king; a favourite man or woman of faith; a favourite nation. Yet it seems that way when we read Psalm 17:8:

"Keep me as the apple of your eye; hide me in the shadow of your wings."

David has some experience of being loved by God and perhaps he has felt like God's beloved. Whether this passes as being a favourite or not, I don't know. Perhaps we are all God's favourites! One thing remains though - God loves us and desires to protect us "as if we are the apple of his eye!"

May you experience the overwhelming love of God today.
May you imagine God smiling down upon you, as you seek to honour His name.

Living in Grace

Sunday 3 March 2013

Focussing on what? - Lent 16

Here is a really great way to start your week. Why not use the words of David as your focus for the day? "I keep my eyes always on the Lord. With him at my right hand, I will not be shaken." -(Psalm 16:8) There will be some things that come your way today that will threaten your focus. Keep your eyes fixed on Jesus and you will not be moved! May God be in your every thought today. Living in Grace D3LM3

Friday 1 March 2013

One tough Question! - Lent 15

In the space of 5 verses, the Psalmist (David) challenges me to the core of my being. My whole spiritual life and conduct is impacted by David's answer to the tough question he poses in the beginning of Psalm 15.

This is the question: “Lord, who may dwell in your sanctuary? Who may live on your holy hill?” – Psalm 15:1

His answer then precedes to list a number of qualities that God requires of us - these qualities are the one's required in order that we would be allowed to dwell in God's sanctuary.

·         Be blameless

·         Do what is righteous

·         Speak the truth

·         Don’t slander

·         Love your neighbour

·         Don’t lie

·         Turn from the vile

·         Honour those who fear God

·         Keep your promises (even when it hurts)

·         Lend money graciously

·         Don’t accept bribes

And if we get this small list right, then we will never be shaken! (15:5)

Wow! What troubles me is that I can’t put a big tick next to each one of these, all the time, so does this mean I can’t be in God’s presence? Well, if I don’t know Jesus, then the answer is ‘Yes’! I am not worthy to be in the presence of God. However, through the love and work of Jesus we gain access to the ‘holy of holies’ – It is his life that grants me access to the sanctuary of God.

Reflection: I am granted access into the presence of God by Jesus, not my good works. However, when I stand in the presence of Almighty God I should want to live out these qualities that David mentions in Psalm 15.

Living in Grace

“ALL” includes me - Lent 14

David hits a big nerve when he remarks that “all have turned aside, they have together become corrupt; there is no-one who does good, not even one.” - Psalm 14:3

Most of us, who consider ourselves “good” people feel uncomfortable with this statement – surely, David is not thinking of us? We are good people!
Well, actually he was! 

The Apostle Paul even confirms this thinking, when he writes:

“For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.”Romans 3:23

This is the very reason why we need Jesus. Jesus becomes our rescuer, saviour and redeemer. It is Jesus who recognises our plight and it is through his death that we know our sins are paid for. 

Acknowledging that we belong to the category of ALL is significant for us – it means that in humility we can ask God to forgive us and free us from our destructive natures. God's grace applies to ALL who are willing to receive it.

Living in Grace