Monday 31 August 2015

At the end of your rope?

"You are blessed when you are at the end of your rope.
With less of you there is more of God and his rule." - Matthew 5:3

I know that there are times when we feel that we are holding the end of a tattered piece of rope - the things that we held dear too have been ripped out of our hands and we are left with frayed ends of life and hope. Eugene Peterson reflects on Matthew 5:3 by arguing that when we get to this place in our lives, that we are actually in a good space. Why would he say something like this? Well, it is possible that many of us are hanging onto our lives and our plans, as if they belong to us, and not to the Lord. When there is 'less' of us, then we move to a place of accepting God's rule and God's Kingdom.

 “They are blessed who realize their spiritual poverty,    for the kingdom of heaven belongs to them." (New Century Version)

May you have a blessed day today and if you feel that you are at the end of our rope, then seek the blessing that God offers you.

"When you reach the end of your rope, tie a knot in it and hang on." - Franklin D. Roosevelt
Living in Grace

Sunday 30 August 2015

Encourage those silkworms!!!

"Come on silkworms!"

These were the very first words that our tiny silkworms got to read when they were born. The boys had scribbled this encouragement on the inside of their shoe boxes (see photo attached), just in case the silkworms needed a little encouragement when they came into the world. I had to laugh at the brilliance of kids.

However, they are spot on when it comes to encouragement. Sometimes we all just need a little encouragement to "Come on!" Life may have us trapped inside a cocoon and we feel that we are not going to see the light of day, and all we need is a little understanding and support.

So, if you are feeling a little down today, may you know that the Spirit of God is whispering to you...

"Come on _______________ (fill your name) - you can do it!"

 Acts 20:2 - "He travelled through that area, speaking many words of encouragement to the people."

 Romans 15:5 - "May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had..."

God bless you

Living in Grace

Friday 28 August 2015

Inside first

"You're blessed when you get your inside world - your mind and heart - put right. Then you can see God in the outside world." - Matthew 5:8 (MSG)

The bible teaches us in a number of places to get the "inside" right first, before we worry about the "outside." Jesus even taught the people of his generation to be wary of cleaning the outside of the cup, while neglecting the dirt on the inside.

Matthew 23:26 - "First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean."

I am not sure when last you washed a coffee mug, but it is much easier to clean the outside of a mug than the inside - the inside takes a little more work and attention. In the end, cleaning the mug on the inside is so worth it, because who wants to drink from a dirty cup?

In a similar way, Jesus is more concerned about the work we are doing on the inside of our hearts, than our religious pretence on the outside. We may think that we can fool others, but we can't fool our maker.

It's worth thinking about - don't you think?

Living in Grace

Thursday 27 August 2015

There is hope

"Anyone who is among the living has hope..." - Ecclesiastes 9:4

Did you notice that?
Solomon argues that if we are alive today, then we HAVE HOPE.
I am not sure how full of hope who are feeling today, but can I remind us all that if you are breathing, then there is ALWAYS hope.

1 Timothy 4:10 - That is why we labour and strive, because we have put our hope in the living God, who is the Savior of all people, and especially of those who believe.

1 Peter 1:3 - Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.

“We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope.” - Martin Luther King Jr.

Living in Grace

Tuesday 25 August 2015

Remain in me

We have been on our District Ministers Seminar for 2 days and part of the theme has been based on John 15:4 - "Remain in me and I will remain in you."
It is always a challenge to ask oneself "am I connected to the vine of God?" Or we could ask it in a different way - "am I plugged into what God is expecting of me?"

I invite us all to reflect on this key thought today and then to remember Gods promise that he will remain in us.

"Live in me. Make your home in me... "- The Message

Living in grace

Monday 24 August 2015

Elbow grease

I was busy cleaning the grimy bits off the frying pan yesterday (as all good husbands do) when I suddenly thought of that old term "applying some elbow grease!" It was clear that the grime was only going to come off with a little hard work. However, in the end it was worth all the effort.

And so the question applies to us today - is there some 'elbow grease' needed in our faith adventure? Our spirituality will go through times where we need to work a little harder than usual, but in the end it will be worth it. Thankfully, we don't need to earn our salvation, but there are times when we do need to be discipline in making sure that we 'work out our salvation.'

Are you experiencing some tough times at the moment. May God grant you the strength to persevere unto the end. Remember that our Faith is worth the effort.

Philippians 2:12 - "Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling..."

Living in Grace

Sunday 23 August 2015

The Adventure

We were not created just to exist, but we were created to live the adventure with God. When each one of us was given life, God wrote something special on our hearts. It is this signature that keeps reminding us of our deepest calling - to serve and honour the King.
John Eldredge“Our Goal here is to recover that adventure God wrote on your heart when he made you. Your deepest desires reveal your deepest calling, the adventure God has for you.”

How is your Adventure of Faith going?  

1 Corinthians 1:9 (The Message) - "God, who got you started in this spiritual adventure, shares with us the life of his Son and our Master Jesus. He will never give up on you. Never forget that."

May you have blessed week.
Go with God.

Living in Grace

Saturday 22 August 2015

Stirring up our hearts

The Spirit of God stirs up in our hearts sometimes - He stirs us into action when perhaps we are reluctant to move beyond our comfort zones. The Spirit moves in ways we can't understand, but it is wise to respond to his promptings. These stirrings are meant for the blessing of others and for the building up of God's Kingdom.

Exodus 35:21 - Those whose hearts were stirred by God’s Spirit returned with their offerings of materials for the Tabernacle, its equipment, and for the holy garments.

Exodus 36:2 - Moses called Bezaleel and Aholiab, and every wise hearted man, in whose heart the LORD had put wisdom, even every one whose heart stirred him up to come unto the work to do it:

 Acts 17:16 - Now while Paul waited for them at Athens, his spirit was stirred in him ...

What is God stirring up inside you today? 

Living in Grace

Thursday 20 August 2015

Strange blessing

“You’re blessed when you’re at the end of your rope. 
With less of you there is more of God and his rule." - Matthew 5:3 (Message)

I am not sure if you have ever thought of this 'Beatitude' in this way, but Jesus makes a challenging comment here, doesn't he?

Less of me, Lord.
More of YOU.
May You rule in our hearts today.

Living in Grace

Wednesday 19 August 2015

Climbing companions

"When Jesus saw his ministry drawing huge crowds, he climbed a hillside. Those who were apprenticed to him, the committed, climbed with him. Arriving at a quiet place, he sat down and taught his climbing companions." - Matthew 5:1-2

I absolutely love this phrase that Eugene Peterson uses in his version of Matthew 5:2.... "climbing companions." It speaks to me on so many levels, but reminds me that my faith journey is not made alone - Christ makes the journey with me. 

In the end, this for me, separates Jesus Christ from all other deities - other gods wait for us to work our way to them, but Jesus climbs with us. The adventure of faith/life is like climbing a huge mountain and we have a climbing companion who also acts as our guide. Brilliant hey!?

"Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much." -Helen Keller

Living in Grace

Tuesday 18 August 2015

Humble beginnings...

"You don't have to be great to start, but you have to start to be great." - Joe Sabah

My problem is that I am a perfectionist! I am wary to start something unless I know that it will be good enough to be presentable. Obviously, this can have some positive spin-offs, but the reality is sometimes I don't attempt something because of a fear of failure. I am not sure if you can relate to this in some way at all?

The tragedy of having this outlook is that many things don't get done or even get attempted. We don't want to start a new project, a new ministry, a new relationship, a new devotional routine, or anything new, because we fear that it won't be great in the beginning. But, in truth, how many 'Finished Products' have had average/poor starts? Most of what we see as being perfect didn't start that way - their beginnings were humble and even awkward.

So, what has God being speaking to you about lately? Are you putting this off, because you are wanting it all to be perfect? Well, let me put you out of your misery - IT WON'T be perfect to begin with, but that doesn't mean it isn't worth starting.

If you are looking for the best example of this, turn to the pages of the Bible and have a look at the first disciples. If Jesus had waited to find 12 perfect guys to be on his team, he would still be waiting now! Jesus followed his father's plan and choose 12 'imperfect' men, but he knew that once he had started to work in their hearts, the future of the Christian movement would be GREAT.

Living in Grace

Monday 17 August 2015

Heads Up!

We use this saying when we want people to notice something or when we desire to get their attention. For example we may say the following: 
"I am giving you a Heads up that the sale ends on Friday." - This gives the other person a warning that the sale is coming to an end and that we need to make a plan to get there.

Often we are so caught up or distracted with our commitments that we need a reminder or Heads Up! In the Bible, God gives the Israelites a heads up when he urges them....

Deuteronomy 32:46 - “Take to heart all the words of warning I have given you today. Pass them on as a command to your children so they will obey every word of these instructions.

Psalm 81:8 - “Listen to me, O my people, while I give you stern warnings. O Israel, if you would only listen to me!

But sadly, we are often not always eager to listen to the warnings God gives us - we think we know better. As Solomon puts it:

Proverbs 5:12 -You will say, “How I hated discipline! If only I had not ignored all the warnings!
What 'Heads up' is the spirit giving to us today? Will we listen to this warning or do we think we know better?
Living in Grace

Sunday 16 August 2015

Set in concrete

We were doing a little DIY the other day around the house - we were actually laying a little bit of concrete down, which ended up being quite interesting. During the course of the day, one of us spoke of "setting it in concrete", which reminded me of this old saying:

"Everything is set in concrete."

But, the question is "WHAT" is set in concrete? In a world that is very flimsy on foundational truths and moral principals, we should ask ourselves what needs to be firmly set in our lives. Once we have these key issues set in stone, then we can begin to build our lives on these beliefs.

"Prayer is the most concrete way to make our home in God." - Henri Nouwen

"Everyone has his own specific vocation or mission in life; everyone must carry out a concrete assignment that demands fulfilment. Therein he cannot be replaced, nor can his life be repeated, thus, everyone's task is unique as his specific opportunity to implement it." -Viktor E. Frankl

Living in Grace

Friday 14 August 2015

God Moments

They don't come planned - they just happen. I am speaking of 'God moments' - times when I am surprised by events that happen or conversations that just take place. I had one of these moments today and it came from the most unlikely source. It was not scheduled in my diary - the meeting was a 'per chance' moment and yet as I walked away, I felt as if the conversation had been planned long before I was ready for it.

Some people may laugh at me, but I firmly see these moments as 'God ordained' and they leave me feeling even more convinced that God is real and ALIVE. As the Psalmist wrote:

Psalm 118:20 - "These gates lead to the presence of the Lord, and the godly enter there."

Luke 20:38 - "He is not the God of the dead, but of the living, for to him all are alive.’

So I encourage you to look out for moments such as these today - of course you can't plan them, but we can be ready to receive them and to participate in them. Be mindful that the veil between this world and the next is very thin - we are walking on holy ground.

Living in Grace

Thursday 13 August 2015

The Last Battle

“And for us, this the end of all the stories, and we can most truly say that they all lived happily ever after. But for them it was only the beginning of the real story. All their life in this world and all their adventures in Narnia had only been the cover and the title page: now at last they were beginning Chapter One of the Great Story which no one on earth has read: which goes on for ever: in which every chapter is better than the one before.”  C.S. Lewis, The Last Battle

I was reminded of this part of C.S. Lewis's book today as I lead a memorial service for one of our dear members. It speaks so loudly of the Resurrection and how we have something to HOPE in, something that is beyond this earthly life. 

It is always deeply sad to say goodbye to one chapter of our lives, but as we turn the pages of a new chapter, there are incredible adventures that lie ahead for us. Well, that is certainly what we as Christ-followers should believe. For the Christian, every chapter of the Eternal Life is better than the last one.

 John 11:25 - "Jesus said to her, ‘I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die."

If you have ever read the Chronicles of Narnia, please tell me which is your favourite book and if there are some powerful words of inspiration that you remember from those pages.

Living in Grace

Wednesday 12 August 2015

The Lord goes before us

Deborah said to Barak, "Get ready! Today the Lord will give you victory over Sisera, for the Lord is marching ahead of you.” - Judges 4:14

I was reminded of this verse this weekend, as we shared on Sunday about the brilliance of Deborah. She was the only female Judge to have presided over Israel and she left a huge impression on the people of her generation. She was a wise, God-fearing, adviser for the people and she knew how to lead her people into battle. 

Her words in Judges 4:14 should serve as a reminded for all of us that God goes before us into the battlefield. When we fight for Truth and Justice, God will lead the front line. God will also go before you to assist you on the battleground. So, don't be afraid of the future - God will go with you.

Living in Grace

Tuesday 11 August 2015

Knocking off the rough edges

“You knock off our rough edges.” – Psalm 7:10 (Message)

None of us is perfect, no matter how hard we pretend to be.
God knows all this about us, even before we turn to him and God is still willing to accept us as we are. However, there are many ‘rough edges’ that God wants to help remove from our hearts, if we allow him to do this. 

I am not sure if you know what these rough edges are, but I am sure that others would be happy to tell you. As you spend a few minutes in prayer today, why don’t you ask God to reveal to you these rough parts of your faith and then allow the Holy Spirit to do some ‘smoothing’ of your heart.

Prayer for the day:
"Lord, help me to remember that I am not perfect and that you are still busy shaping and molding my life. Teach me not to resist the work of your Spirit as you knock off the rough edges of my life. Amen."

Living in Grace