Monday, 17 February 2020

Praying is no easy matter

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Prayer can be so easy at times and then, in other moments, it can seem so hard. Henri Nouwen reflects on the intimacy of prayer, which can help us understand why it is so hard at times.
"Praying is no easy matter. It demands a relationship in which you allow someone other than yourself to enter into the very center of your person, to see there what you would rather leave in darkness, and to touch there what you would rather leave untouched."

1 Corinthians 2:11 - "For who knows a person’s thoughts except their own spirit within them? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God."

May you discover more of yourself as you allow the Spirit to speak to you during your times of prayer.

Living in Grace

Friday, 14 February 2020

Pale Blue Dot

Pale Blue Dot

Thirty years ago, on Valentines day (1990), Voyager 1 took the remarkable image of the earth from 6.4 Billion kilometers away - look at where the arrow is pointing in the picture. It was called the 'Pale Blue Dot' by scientist Carl Sagan and it remains a humbling reminder of how small, yet precious the earth is.

As far as we know the earth is the only planet that can support human life. We may try and send people to live on Mars and the Moon, but that is still a long way in the future. We should recgonise the gift we have been given and remember how amazing our God is.

So for this Valentines day let us focus on the remarkable LOVE we have been given by God and that our planet was considered so special that God sent his Son to reveal his glory to us.

John 1:9 - "The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world."

John 3:16 - "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life."

Living in Grace

Wednesday, 12 February 2020

At the mercy of ...

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There are many things that are out of our control. We are at the mercy of things like: the weather, the taxman, load-shedding, aging and illness. But have you ever considered that we don't have to be at the mercy of everything that comes our way? There are some things that can guide us and provide a solid foundation for us.

Listen to these insightful words from Eugene Peterson:

"Worship is an act of attention to the living God who rules, speaks and reveals, creates and redeems, orders and blesses ... failure to worship consigns us to a life of spasms and jerks, at the mercy of every advertisement, every seduction, every siren."

By centering our worship on Jesus, God helps us remain secure in the gift of his grace, without the fear of being held hostage by every little thing.

Thought: It is best to rather be 'at the mercy' of Jesus.

Living in Grace

Tuesday, 11 February 2020

Go for the LOVE

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Rick Warren – “Go for the Love, not always the win!”

Many times we are so busy trying to 'win' the arguments with our loved ones, friends and colleagues, instead of asking what this does to our relationships. Is it better to feel the satisfaction of winning an argument or rather to walk away for the sake of Love? 

In a week where the world will go crazy buying Valentines gifts, cards, flowers and treats (all as a show of love) let us not forget the real source of love - Jesus. 

Romans 12:9-10 (Message) "Love from the center of who you are; don’t fake it. Run for dear life from evil; hold on for dear life to good. Be good friends who love deeply; practice playing second fiddle."

Choosing Love this week may be the biggest victory you will experience.

Living in Grace

Monday, 10 February 2020

In this together

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I have often wondered why the 12 Step Program is used so successfully with organisations like AA and others. A thought occurred to me this past week, while preparing a sermon on 'Living in Community', that it surely has to do with a deep sense of mutual struggle and empathetic understanding. In groups like this there can be no pretense and everyone knows your pain, so this often drives us to greater care, sincere encouragement and a collective feeling of 'we are in this together.'

Sadly, the same thing is not always evident in our churches, but it should be. We are all in this 'life' together and we all have struggles and pain, yet somehow we arrive at church with great pretense and our personal spiritual masks firmly in place.

Please read this well known verse very slowly and see what God is revealing to you today.

“A new command I give you:
Love one another.
As I have loved you,
so you must love one another.
By this everyone will know
 that you are my disciples,
if you love one another.” - John 13:34-35

Living in Grace

Sunday, 9 February 2020

Showing Sympathy

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One of the advantages of being involved in community is that when we suffer through hard times there are people to walk alongside us. If we need encouragement, then we know we will be encouraged; likewise if we are needing sympathy, then others will show us sympathy.

It would be very sad if during our darkest times we had no one to put their arms around us and to remind us: "God is with you - and so are we!"

In his letter to the early church, Peter encouraged the Christians to show sympathy to one another:
"...Finally, all of you, be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble."

As Jerry Ellis states - “We are all fragile threads, but what a tapestry we make.” 

Our tapestry shows off the array of it's colours when believers walk alongside each other.

Who can you show sympathy to this week?

Living in Grace

Saturday, 8 February 2020

Living in Community

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Living in any community is not always easy. Even in a small group of people (family sized) there will always be something that will cause us frustration. The same applies in churches, schools, places of work and social clubs - little irritations crop up which cause us to pull away from these groups of people for a while. 

In the end, it is the desire to belong and be connected, that draws us back into community again. We were designed to be in community! As Trevor Hudson remarked – “Clearly, the climate for growth and deepening in discipleship is community. We can’t become the people God created us to be without experiencing divine and human relationships.”

      Solomon agreed. He wrote “Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up." (Ecclesiastes 4:9-10)

      Living in Grace

Thursday, 6 February 2020

Shutting up the bullies

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There are moments when we just wish that the bullies of this world would have their just rewards. This does happen eventually, but we are often not there to witness it. Taking a look at Psalm 86, with the fresh insights of Eugene Peterson, it is interesting to note David's unique prayer:

"Make a show of how much you love me
    so the bullies who hate me will stand there slack-jawed,
As you, God, gently and powerfully
    put me back on my feet." - Psalm 86:16-17

His prayer is not so much that the bullies are physically assaulted, but rather that God's love is shown to be so overwhelming that all they can do is stand with their mouths wide open in amazement. The way that God restores David's troubled life will prove to be such a testimony that it will shut up the religious bullies for good.

Living in Grace

Wednesday, 5 February 2020

Love is its own reward

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Thomas Merton once mused:
"Love seeks only one thing: the good of the one loved. It leaves all the other secondary effects to take care of themselves. Love, therefore, is its own reward."

In this month of love, wouldn't it be amazing if we all sought the good of the ones we love without seeking any other reward. Imagine that 'LOVE' was all the reward we needed?

1 John 4:11 - "Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another."

Living in Grace

Tuesday, 4 February 2020

Wash away the mud

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"If by life rightly led, you wash away the mud that has been put on your heart, the Godlike beauty will again shine out in you." - Gregory of Nyssa

The words of Gregory reminded me that we all have the imprint of God upon our lives, but the troubles we face, the sins we commit and the struggles we endure, all throw mud onto our hearts. When we realise this, we need to ask the Spirit of God to wash away all the dirt and help us to shine again.

"Let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water." - Hebrews 10:22

Living in Grace

Monday, 3 February 2020

I would like...

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What would you like at the moment?

World peace? 
No load-shedding?
Victory for your favourite sports team?
A day off to catch your breath?

Brigid of Ireland expressed her desire for what she would like when she wrote:
I would like the angels of Heaven to be among us.
I would like an abundance of peace.
I would like full vessels of charity.
I would like rich treasures of mercy.
I would like cheerfulness to preside over all.
I would like Jesus to be present.

Our times of prayer are often a list of the things we would like from the Lord, but it is worth thinking about what Christ may like from us?

 Proverbs 19:22 - "What a person desires is unfailing love..."

Living in Grace

Sunday, 2 February 2020


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Identity is such an important thing for us as people. We want to know who we are and we also want to know that we belong somewhere. When Peter writes to the early church he reminds them that there was a time when they didn't really belong, but through the mercy of God and through the love of Jesus they have been given a new identity.

“Once you had no identity as a people;
    now you are God’s people.
Once you received no mercy;
    now you have received God’s mercy." - 1 Peter 2:10

Living in the 21st century is, in some ways, no different than struggling in the 1st century - once we know we have an identity and that we 'belong' this gives us a reason to live. It is Christ who gives us our new identity - we are children of God.

What do you think?

“When I discover who I am, I’ll be free.” -  Ralph Ellison

Living in Grace