Monday 31 December 2018

In God's Hands

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As we have come to the end of 2018 and the dawn of 2019, I quickly turned to Psalm 31 to see if there was any message for us from the words of King David. And this is what I discovered - lovely words of renewal and recommitment for each one of us.

"Into your hands I commit my spirit." - v.5

"But I trust in you, Lord;
    I say, “You are my God.”

My times are in your hands;" - v.15

"Be strong and take heart,
    all you who hope in the Lord." - v.24

I pray that these words will guide you, nourish you and encourage you as you begin the new year. Let us seek to place all "things" into the Hands of the Almighty God.

Living in Grace

Sunday 30 December 2018

Reflections on 2018

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As I reflect back on this year I want to echo the words of the Psalmist - "God - I can't thank you enough!" 
In making the huge move from Pietermaritzburg to Fish Hoek in December 2017, there were many days where I felt out of my depth, unsure of myself, unsettled and on a STEEP learning curve. However, through all of these moments, I have always felt the strength of God and the grace of the Holy Spirit. People have been incredibly loving and kind to our family in our new home; old friends have stayed in touch and this has certainly kept our spirits up during the tough days; and of course our family have been a truly solid rock of support and love. In all of this, I am humbled and blessed - I say again:
"Lord, thank you. You did it!"

"You did it: you changed wild lament
    into whirling dance;
You ripped off my black mourning band
    and decked me with wildflowers.
I’m about to burst with song;
    I can’t keep quiet about you.
God, my God,
    I can’t thank you enough." - Psalm 30:11-12 (Message)

Living in Grace

Saturday 29 December 2018

Bravo God

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"Bravo, God, bravo!
    Gods and all angels shout, “Encore!”
In awe before the glory,
    in awe before God’s visible power.
Stand at attention!
    Dress your best to honor him!

God thunders across the waters,
Brilliant, his voice and his face, streaming brightness—
God, across the flood waters..." - Psalm 29:1-3

I have often managed to see the fingerprints of God in Creation. The fruit of his handiwork is everywhere - we just need the eyes to see his work. It is little wonder that we can stop and applaud what God has done:

Bravo God, Bravo.
Encore - do it again Lord.

As you reflect on the works of Christ over 2018, may you stop and give him credit for some of the amazing gifts he has given to us.

Living in Grace

Wednesday 26 December 2018

Messiah in the Mess

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As we got to reflect on the deeper meaning of Christmas this year, I was reminded again of how God came into the middle of our world - into the brokenness of humanity to offer us hope and peace. It is such Good News to hold onto the promise of the MESSIAH being with us in the 'mess' of things. God didn't run away from the chaos, but chose to reveal himself in the midst of all our trouble.

May these words offer you hope and grace this Christmas season. Immanuel is with us.

Messiah in the Mess
Christ in the Chaos
Jesus in the Jumble
Baby in the Bedlam
Child in the Confusion
Saviour in the Shambles
Redeemer in the Wreck

John 1:14 So the Word became human and made his home among us. He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness. And we have seen his glory, the glory of the Father’s one and only Son.

Living in Grace

Monday 24 December 2018

Blessed Christmas

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As you read this message many of us will be in 1 of 3 stages:
i. Preparing for Christmas Day
ii. Sharing Christmas Day with loved ones
iii. Recovering from Christmas festivities.

Whatever stage you find yourself in, please know that we wish you a Blessed Christmas. May the joy of Christ be evident in your heart this year and may you also experience the peace of the Holy Spirit.

Although Christmas is effectively only 1 day in the year, may we all endeavour to live out Christ's values and His heart, everyday of the new year. Jesus is Immanuel everyday of our lives.

Grace and Peace to you and your special ones. Find the Messiah in the midst of the mess of this world.

Isaiah 9:2-3 (Message)
 The people who walked in darkness
    have seen a great light.
For those who lived in a land of deep shadows—
    light! sunbursts of light!
You repopulated the nation,
    you expanded its joy.
Oh, they’re so glad in your presence!
    Festival joy!
The joy of a great celebration,
    sharing rich gifts and warm greetings.

Living in Grace

Sunday 23 December 2018

The Silence can be deafening

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Some people say that there were 400 years of silence after the book of Malachi was written. This was not silence in a general sense, but rather that the Israelites heard nothing from God for the next 4 Centuries! That is a very, very long time!

As the last voice of the Old Testament, the prophet Malachi called on the people to hear his crucial Messenger (remember that the name Malachi actually means 'messenger of Jehovah'). However, the people of Israel ignored this message and so they had to endure 400 years of silence.

This silence was eventually broken by the birth of John the Baptist, followed shortly afterwards by the birth of Jesus, son of Joseph and Mary.  It is the Incarnation that changes everything for us - God breaks the silence with the greatest of all PROCLAMATIONS - The king has come! Hallelujah.

The birth of Jesus Christ reminds us that God wants us to hear His message of grace and love. God wants us to remember that the WORD has been made in human form (flesh) and that God has dwelt amongst his people.

May you have a blessed Christmas and remember to heed the message of the Nativity.
God is with us.

Living in Grace

Saturday 22 December 2018

God's Big Day

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“But also look ahead: I’m sending Elijah the prophet to clear the way for the Big Day of God—the decisive Judgement Day! He will convince parents to look after their children and children to look up to their parents." - Malachi 4:5-6

I love the way Eugene Peterson refers to Judgement Day as the "BIG DAY of GOD." Of course it will be a huge day for all of us, but I feel that Christmas Day is another one of God's BIG DAY'S, don't you?  We remember the wonderful news that is connected with the birth of Jesus and all the glorious promises that come with God's gift.

John 3:17 - "For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him."

Living in Grace

Thursday 20 December 2018

Remember and Keep

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December is usually such a busy time that stopping for a while to reflect and remember is not always possible. However, I do believe that it is such a important discipline for us, that 'making time' for it should be a priority (in my humble opinion.)

In his final word to the people of Israel, Malachi records the voice of the Lord saying:

“Remember and keep the revelation I gave through my servant Moses, the revelation I commanded at Horeb for all Israel, all the rules and procedures for right living." - Malachi 4:4

We remember the REVELATION of God as he sent Jesus into the world.
We reflect and remember what his Salvation means for us.
We remember how far we have drifted from God's grace.
We remember our need to return to the way of God (right living).
We remember those who have passed away, along the journey of life.
We remember the 'WORD made FLESH' so that we can KEEP his message in our hearts.

"Remember God's goodness,
O thou Man, O thou Man, 
Remember God's goodness 
 And promise made. 
Remember God's goodness, 
How his only Son he sent 
Our sins for to redress. 
 Be not afraid." - Thomas Ravenscroft

Living in Grace

Wednesday 19 December 2018

The Sun of righteousness

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But for you who revere my name, the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its rays. And you will go out and frolic like well-fed calves. Then you will trample on the wicked; they will be ashes under the soles of your feet on the day when I act,” says the Lord Almighty." - Malachi 4:2-3

The phrase 'sun of righteousness'  can only refer to the coming of the Messiah - Jesus Christ. In an age when pagan gods where considered to 'shine' and have 'wings' perhaps Malachi is using these words to reveal the superiority of the coming Messiah. Whatever his motivations, it is a lovely image to think of the 'Son's Rays' reaching out to each one of us. 

When we sing the great Christmas Hymn 'Hark the Herald Angels Sing' this year, let us pause at verse 3 and remember that these significant lines point to Jesus:

Hail the heaven-born Prince of Peace!
Hail the Sun of Righteousness!
Light and life to all he brings,
risen with healing in his wings (Charles Wesley)

May we experience the love and healing of Christ this Christmas time. Grace and Peace.

Living in Grace

The Day is coming

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My youngest son reminded us all this morning that there were 6 more sleeps until Christmas. That joyous morning is edging ever closer and closer. For young kids the last week before Christmas Day seems to drag on and on, but for us as parents there never seems to be enough time to do everything!

When the prophet Malachi was reflecting on the coming of the Lord, he spoke as if he was an impatient child - "SURELY the day is coming" he remarked! Surely...

Malachi 4:1 - “Surely the day is coming..."

The Good News is that the day has come (when Christ was born) and the DAY WILL COME, when he returns. Let us do all we can to make ourselves ready for that moment.

Ezekiel 39:8 - It is coming! It will surely take place, declares the Sovereign Lord. This is the day I have spoken of.

Living in Grace

Tuesday 18 December 2018

Treasured Possession

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Gifts, presents, treasurers - these are all synonymous with Christmas. Even though some people choose not to remember Jesus during this season, it is undeniable that the giving of gifts originates from the 'gift of the Christ child.'  God gave of his very best and so, in turn, we also give to others. 

In this lovely verse from Malachi 3:17, we see how God speaks about as being his Treasured Possession. We are loved so much by God, that he sees us as TREASURE! What a delightful thing to reflect on this Advent season.

“On the day when I act,” says the Lord Almighty, “they will be my treasured possession. I will spare them, just as a father has compassion and spares his son who serves him. 18 And you will again see the distinction between the righteous and the wicked, between those who serve God and those who do not."
There are a few other passages in the Bible that convey the same message. Here is one of those:
"For you are a people holy to the Lord your God. The Lord your God has chosen you out of all the peoples on the face of the earth to be his people, his treasured possession." - Deuteronomy 7:6 

Have a blessed day,
Living in Grace

Monday 17 December 2018

Be Present

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If you have ever been to an important meeting,  where there were lots of discussions taking place, then undoubtedly someone would have been tasked with taking "minutes" of that meeting. The idea of keeping a 'minute' of an important meeting is so that all the key decisions/people can be remembered. In this way, one can look back at what was decided and whether these decisions have been followed through with.

This seems to be the setting for our reading today. The people of God have gathered together to speak through some vital issues and God listens to their debates. A scroll of remembrance (perhaps like a record of minutes) was written to keep track of all the key decisions.

"Then those who feared the Lord talked with each other, and the Lord listened and heard. A scroll of remembrance was written in his presence concerning those who feared the Lord and honored his name." - Malachi 3:16

In this season of Advent, let us be present at the key moments of Jesus birth. Let our names be recorded on those 'minutes' as active participants of the Gospel narrative.

Living in Grace