Tuesday 30 June 2020

The Half-time score is irrelevant

8. Don't give up at half-time. Concentrate on winning the second ...
Today marks the end of June and the end of the 6th month of the year. So I guess we are half way through 2020 - can you believe it? In some ways it feels like we have just woken up from a bad dream and still have another few hours until day-break.

Anyway, I just wanted to remind myself (and you also) that the half-time score in any game is actually not that important. Just because you may be losing at half-time doesn't mean that the game is lost. As Gresham Barret once said: "The most insignificant score is the half-time score."

As we steel ourselves for the second half of 2020 let us turn to the Lord for our strength and guidance. The Bible is filled with examples of people who looked down and out, but who managed to turn the tables with the help of God. Let us not lose heart, but commit all our plans to the Lord and ask the Spirit to strengthen us.

Ezra 10:4 - "Rise up; this matter is in your hands. We will support you, so take courage and do it.”

"Instead of facing a crisis as I approached middle age, I discovered that a new and better life lay before me. I called the process of discovery 'halftime,' and the outcome led to my second half." -Bob Buford

Living in Grace

most insignificant score is the score at halftime. Gresham Barrett
Read more at https://www.brainyquote.com/topics/halftime-quotes
The most insignificant score is the score at halftime. Gresham Barrett
Read more at https://www.brainyquote.com/topics/halftime-quotes

Monday 29 June 2020

Blue Monday

Blue Monday 2019 – National Awareness Days Events Calendar 2020 ...

Blue Monday is a term that is used for the 3rd Monday of January, which is considered to be the saddest day of the year. It originates from the idea that in the Northern Hemisphere, this is usually a cold time of the year, people are sad because of returning to work, breaking New Year's Resolutions and just generally feeling depressed.

Today is not anywhere near the middle of January, but it feels a little "blah" to me. It is cold outside, with a little drizzle and there seems to be no end in sight with the Covid-19 story. It is easy on days like today to feel down and demotivated, but one has to ride through the troubled days to get to better days.

Let us not lose the Hope we have in Jesus Christ. For God, we can turn to him anyday of the week and know that he is willing to be with us.

Here are some beautiful words from Psalm 142 that may offer hope to those who are feeling a little down. God bless you.

“As I sink in despair, my spirit ebbing away, you know how I’m feeling, Know the danger I’m in, the traps hidden in my path. Look right, look left— there’s not a soul who cares what happens! I’m up against it, with no exit— bereft, left alone. I cry out, God, call out: ‘You’re my last chance, my only hope for life!’ Oh listen, please listen; I’ve never been this low. Rescue me from those who are hunting me down; I’m no match for them. Get me out of this dungeon so I can thank you in public. Your people will form a circle around me and you’ll bring me showers of blessing!” (The Message)

Living in Grace

Sunday 28 June 2020

The Significance

6 Ways To Make History Class More Fun | The Teachers Digest

The significance of major events in the history of the world is obvious. They make us stop and look back to see how far we have come OR maybe how we have refused to learn any lessons from the past. Today, the 28th June is a signifcant day for many reasons, but 2 of them tie up with the First World War.

It was on this day in 1914 that Archduke Franz Ferdinand, heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne, and his consort, Sophie, were assassinated in Sarajevo, precipitating the outbreak of World War I. Fast forward five years (1919), and it was on this day that the Treaty of Versailles was signed confirming the end of the war.

What happened in the space of 5 years changed the trajectory of the world, especially in regards to politics, economics and human relations. Millions of people were killed and millions left broken and traumatised.

Although we don't officially know the dates of Jesus birth and death, it was these two events that changed the way humanity viewed God. For the first time many people realised that God was willing to go to the ends of the earth to bridge the relationship between man and God. Jesus' birth, life and death changed our lives forever.

What will this day mean for you? Will be significant?

Living in Grace

Friday 26 June 2020

A Lantern

Psalm 119:105 | World Challenge

Lazarus Spengler was a 16th Century reformer, who supported Martin Luther during the tumultuous days of the Reformation. He is also known for helping design the "Luther Rose" which became symbol of Lutheranism. 

At one point he wrote: "For my feet your holy word is a lantern, a light that shows me the way forward; as this morning star rises upon us we understand the great gifts that God's spirit has certainly promised us, and in these we have our hope." 

Of course, his words are just an echo of the words of Scripture, where the Psalmist once sang:

"Your word is a lamp for my feet,
    a light on my path." - Psalm 119:105

May God continue to be your lantern during these days of challenge and uncertainty.

Living in Grace

Thursday 25 June 2020

Lasting qualities

NIV, The Woman's Study Bible, Hardcover, Full-Color | Fear of the ...
In our 'throw away' world  many things aren't built to last any more. It is as if we only expect them to give us a limited life-span. Appliances, vehicles, clothes, mobile devices, computers and the like. Sadly, this same attitude has moved into other avenues of our communities and this has had a negative impact on our relationships and faith. 

As we come to the end of our reflection on the Proverbs, the writer reminds us that a person who fears the Lord will be greatly praised. The body ages, material possessions lose their appeal, but the person who honours God will be remembered.

"Charm is deceptive, and beauty does not last; but a woman fears the Lord will be greatly praised." - Proverbs 31:30

“Remember to take time for God—it is life’s only lasting investment.”
― Elizabeth George

“To know Christ in the modern world is to know him in your world now. To know him in your world now is to live interactively with him right where you are in your daily activities." - Dallas Willard

Living in Grace

Wednesday 24 June 2020

Speak up

Pin on Empowerment
"Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves; ensure justice for those who are perishing. Yes, speak up for the poor and helpless, and see that they get justice." - Proverbs 31:8-9

When King Lemuel's mother shared her insight with him she wanted him to be a wise and caring king. Forgetfulness is so prevalent among rulers and politicians that we see how they forget the poor and the marginalised. However, a leader who remembers the downtrodden is well loved and admired. Perhaps these words of wise women shaped the leadership of King Lemuel? 

They are certainly a true word for all of us today!

“The most common way people give up their power is by thinking they don’t have any.” — Alice Walker

“In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.” — Dr Martin Luther King Jr

“If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor. If an elephant has its foot on the tail of a mouse and you say that you are neutral, the mouse will not appreciate your neutrality.” — Archbishop Desmond Tutu

Living in Grace

Monday 22 June 2020

Don't laugh at the small things

It's a simple reminder for us all do think about the small things ...

Humanity has learnt so many lessons from our past, but we are actually not always willing to remember these vital lessons. The story of David and Goliath teaches us that the small guy can win the battle, but we still look down on those who seem insignificant.

Proverbs 30 reminds us again that we should never despise the small things of this world, because they are full of wisdom and they will show us up if we overlook their gifts.

“There are four things on earth that are small but unusually wise:
Ants—they aren’t strong,
    but they store up food all summer.
—they aren’t powerful,
    but they make their homes among the rocks.
Locusts—they have no king,
    but they march in formation.
Lizards—they are easy to catch,
    but they are found even in kings’ palaces. – Proverbs 30:24-28

Who are the “small” people in your world at the moment? How are you treating them?

“Humility will open more doors than arrogance ever will.” - Zig Ziglar

“Never look down on anybody unless you’re helping them up.” - Jesse Jackson

Living in Grace


Sunday 21 June 2020

Asking God for favours

Wherever God has you today, be bold in the Lord!
How many times have we asked God for certain things? Our prayers range from asking for good health, protection, a job, a partner, a sign, a child, some rest, healing, good weather, world peace and so on. But how many of us have ever prayed for these 2 things?

"O God, I beg two favours from you; let me have them before I die.

First, help me never to tell a lie.
    Second, give me neither poverty nor riches!
    Give me just enough to satisfy my needs.
For if I grow rich, I may deny you and say, “Who is the Lord?”
    And if I am too poor, I may steal and thus insult God’s holy name." - Proverbs 30:7-9

I think the second request is very intriguing. How do we know what is the balance between riches and poverty? That is such a grey area for many of us. However, I do love the sentiment behind this prayer, because Agur has come to realise that living on either extreme (Riches and Poverty) has the propensity to drive us away from the heart of God.

What do you think?

Mark Batterson - “Bold prayers honor God, and God honors bold prayers. God isn’t offended by your biggest dreams or boldest prayers. He is offended by anything less. If your prayers aren’t impossible to you, they are insulting to God.

Thomas a Kempis - "Oh, how great peace and quietness would he possess who should cut off all vain anxiety and place all his confidence in God."

Living in Grace


P.S. Image courtesy of Kelly Latta Ministries

Saturday 20 June 2020

Weary, but .....

Come To me All Who Are Weary and I will Give You Rest. - Quotes
How many of us can relate to the opening words of Proverbs 30 in this particular season of our lives?

"The sayings of Agur son of Jakeh—an inspired utterance. This man’s utterance to Ithiel: 
“I am weary, God, but I can prevail.”

There is something reassuring about Agur's honesty in this saying. He is willing to admit that he is weary (spent/tired), but there is also a glimmer of hope. He says that he can prevail! Perhaps this is a word of faith or hope for Agur - even though he feels broken he knows that he can continue with God's help.

If we read this verse in a different translation, if gives us a little different perspective. It suggests that Agur doesn't know how he will prevail. This assumes that he wants to get over the bump in the road, but is unsure of where to turn. 

"Thus says the man: I am weary, O God,
    I am weary, O God. How can I prevail?" (NRSV)

If we were listening into his conversation we would be prompted to shout out a response: "You can prevail by turning to God's wisdom and allowing God to help you out of your trouble!"

"God does not dispense strength and encouragement like a druggist fills your prescription. The Lord doesn't promise to give us something to take so we can handle our weary moments. He promises us Himself. That is all. And that is enough." - Charles R. Swindoll

If you are going to achieve excellence in big things, you develop the habit in little matters. Excellence is not an exception, it is a prevailing attitude. Colin Powell

Living in Grace

Friday 19 June 2020

Worrying what others think

You Wouldn't Worry What Other People Think Of You If You Knew How ...
How many times have you stopped yourself from doing something because you are worried what others may think of you? I know I have done this on a few occasions and I think I have lived to regret worrying too much about the opinions of others. Of course, there is also a positive to this whole scenario - we can save ourselves some trouble by thinking through some silly decisions, by wondering what our family or friends would think. However, in general, we worry too much about other people's opinions.

"The fear of human opinion disables;  trusting in God protects you from that." - Proverbs 29:25 (Message)

I think that the word Eugene Peterson chooses in this paraphrase is quite striking - he uses the word 'disables'. When we are fearful of what people think of us, we are not able to live out of a place of joy, but rather from a place of fear. It is that emotion that disables us.

What do you feel?

“You probably wouldn’t worry about what people think of you if you could know how seldom they do.”
― Olin Miller

“Worrying is carrying tomorrow's load with today's strength- carrying two days at once. It is moving into tomorrow ahead of time. Worrying doesn't empty tomorrow of its sorrow, it empties today of its strength.”
― Corrie Ten Boom

Living in Grace

Thursday 18 June 2020

Where there is no vision

Where There Is No Vision... (Proverbs 29:18) - Tim Challies
"Where there is no revelation, people cast off restraint;
    but blessed is the one who heeds wisdom’s instruction." - Proverbs 29:18 (NIV)

This verse has been used in many different ways, but it speaks to the core nature of most people - when we don't know where we are headed or what the vision is, then we are subject to all kinds of persuasive alternatives. You may know this verse in this format:

"Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keepeth the law, happy is he." (KJV)

This is true of countries, schools, churches, families and even our own person lives - if we have no focus or vision for the future then something slowly starts to die inside of us. There are too many people plodding through life hoping to get out unscathed. Sadly, none of us will leave this world alive, so we should embrace the vision that God gives to us and live this to His glory. 

Eugene Peterson wrote:
If people can’t see what God is doing,
    they stumble all over themselves;
But when they attend to what he reveals,
    they are most blessed.

“The most pathetic person in the world is some one who has sight but no vision.” - Helen Keller

“A vision we give to others of who and what they could become has power when it echoes what the spirit has already spoken into their souls.” - Larry Crabb

Living in Grace

Wednesday 17 June 2020

Relevant words for our time

Leadership is influence. - John C. Maxwell

"By justice a king gives a country stability,
    but those who are greedy for bribes tear it down.

Those who flatter their neighbours
    are spreading nets for their feet.

Evildoers are snared by their own sin,
    but the righteous shout for joy and are glad.

The righteous care about justice for the poor,
    but the wicked have no such concern.

Mockers stir up a city,
    but the wise turn away anger.

If a wise person goes to court with a fool,
    the fool rages and scoffs, and there is no peace." - Proverbs 29:4-9

If ever you wondered if the Bible was relevant for us today then these words should convince you of this fact. As I read through Proverbs 29 I find myself wondering if Solomon was looking into a crystal ball and could see into 2020. But, how could he see 2700 years into the future? Well, he couldn't, but the issues he faced then are almost exactly the same as those we face in our time.

There are so many examples of bad leadership in our generation and I wonder if we have learnt anything from our past mistakes. Perhaps humanity will never learn!?

Which verse stands out for you today?

"A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way." - John C. Maxwell

"A leader is a dealer in hope." - Napoleon 

Living in Grace


Tuesday 16 June 2020

Foolish Trust

Proverbs 28:26 Illustrated: "He who trusts in himself is a fool ...

"The greedy stir up conflict,
    but those who trust in the Lord will prosper.

Those who trust in themselves are fools,

 but those who walk in wisdom are kept safe." - Proverbs 28:25-26

The focal point of these verses is a challenge about where we place our TRUST. If we trust in the Lord, then we are told we will prosper. This is an interesting promise, which many of us take as meaning only in a material sense. However, if we learn anything from the biblical writers it should be that God's riches extend beyond just material comfort. Prosperity would include healthy relationships, peace of mind, spiritual security and many other things too.

The second challenge reminds us that when we trust only in ourselves, we are being foolish. We may think that we know everything and that it is "safer" to trust in ourselves, but this can easier lead to stubbornness and a reluctance to rely on Christ.

What do you think?

"Either we trust in God, and in that case we neither trust in ourselves, nor in our fellow-men, nor in circumstances, nor in anything besides; or we do trust in one or more of these, and in that case do not trust in God." - George Muller

"It is not good for us to trust in our merits, in our virtues or our righteousness; but only in God's free pardon, as given us through faith in Jesus Christ." - John Wycliffe

Living in Grace



Monday 15 June 2020

The wisdom of the poor

25 Images That Will Leave You Speechless (With images) | Best ...
In Proverbs 28 there are a number of key themes, one of them being how the 'poor' are treated by their community and those who are considered rich. Two of these proverbs stood out for me this morning:

"It is better to be poor and honest than rich and crooked." - v.6

This goes against the narrative of the world today, which seems to imply that getting rich is the goal for all people, no matter who you hurt along the way. 

"Rich people picture themselves as wise, but their real poverty is evident to the poor." - v.11

Sadly, poor people are often considered to be stupid, which is not true at all. The rich person in Solomon's world likes to think that he is the wisest in his community, but his true situation is known to all those who live around him.

The challenge for me is this: Let us not judge a person's intelligence by their bank balance and achieving wealth, at any cost, is not really what God desires from us.

“If all you have is money, you are among the poorest people in the world.” -  Matshona Dhliwayo

"Wisdom is ofttimes nearer when we stoop than when we soar." - William Wordsworth

Living in Grace


Sunday 14 June 2020

Iron sharpens iron

Proverbs 27:17 As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a ...

"As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.

The one who guards a fig tree will eat its fruit,

and whoever protects their master will be honored. 

As water reflects the face,

so one’s life reflects the heart." - Proverbs 27:17-19

The collection of proverbs for today make interesting reading. The first one speaks about having someone in your life who can "sharpen" you or keep you on your toes. Friends like this are very rare, but they are some important to have in your spiritual life.

The second one speaks about guarding a tree so that you can enjoy its fruit in due course - this is related to taking care of your master, so that they will reward you in the right time.

The third proverb is a very challenging one for each one of us, as it speaks into what we do with our lives. If we had to write this proverb slightly differently, we would say something like: "How you spend your time reflects what is in your heart."

May these words guide and instruct you today.

If Christ Jesus dwells in a man as his friend and noble leader, that man can endure all things, for Christ helps and strengthens us and never abandons us. He is a true friend. Saint Teresa of Avila

A true friend never gets in your way unless you happen to be going down. Arnold H. Glasgow

Living in Grace


Saturday 13 June 2020

What about tomorrow?

Worry never robs tomorrow of its sorrow, it only saps today of its joy. - Leo Buscaglia
Life has taught us all that making plans for the future can be a futile thing. Of course, we should make some kind of plans otherwise we may never get anything done, but we should always hold these plans 'loosely' in our hands. Solomon said:

"Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring." - Proverbs 27:1

Jesus echoed this sentiments, albeit in a different way, when he told his followers not to worry about tomorrow.

"Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own." - Matthew 6:34

These are still words I am trying to put into practice in my old life, but hopefully wisdom will come with my old age :)

"I believe God is managing affairs and that He doesn't need any advice from me. With God in charge, I believe everything will work out for the best in the end. So what is there to worry about." - Henry Ford

"Worry is a cycle of inefficient thoughts whirling around a center of fear." - Corrie Ten Boom

Living in Grace

Friday 12 June 2020

No wood for the fire

34 Best quotes about gossip images in 2020 | Quotes, Life quotes ...
Have you ever gone to make a fire and suddenly realised you have run out of wood? It's a little frustrating to say the least. The obvious reality is this: no wood or fuel = no fire. It's as simply as that! So, this is exactly the point of today's proverbs from chapter 26. The way we speak about others can be like fuel on a fire.

"Without wood a fire goes out;
    without a gossip a quarrel dies down.
As charcoal to embers and as wood to fire,
    so is a quarrelsome person for kindling strife.
The words of a gossip are like choice morsels;
    they go down to the inmost parts.

Like a coating of silver dross on earthenware
    are fervent[a] lips with an evil heart.
Enemies disguise themselves with their lips,
    but in their hearts they harbour deceit.
Though their speech is charming, do not believe them,
    for seven abominations fill their hearts." - Proverbs 26: 20-25

I am challenged to think before I speak and to ask myself if my conversation is helping in a situation or just adding fuel to the fire.

"What you don't see with your eyes, don't witness with your mouth." - Jewish Proverb"He gossips habitually; he lacks the common wisdom to keep still that deadly enemy of man, his own tongue" - Mark Twain

What do you feel?

Living in Grace


Thursday 11 June 2020

The Stray Dog

Bling for dogs helps fight global problem | Cornell Chronicle

Picture a stray dog. Any stray dog.
Now, in my experience you get strays that are friendly and some that are very dangerous. I think it is the vicious stray that Solomon is speaking about today. This is what he says:

"Like one who grabs a stray dog by the ears
    is someone who rushes into a quarrel not their own." - Proverbs 26:17

I can just imagine how the poor dog would respond to this action - probably turn around and bite you.

My reflection on this takes me to all the news content and information on social media. I find that by having access to the 'world wide web' draws me into conversations and problems that are not mine and that I certainly can't solve. The more I read these articles and news stories the more it makes me feel down and depressed and eventually it is like 'a stray dog biting me.'

Sometimes there are quarrels that we need to speak out against and other times we should just walk away. Well, that's what I feel. What do you think?

Marie Antoinette - "Fools rush in where angels fear to tread,

And so i come to you my love my heart above my head,
Though i see the danger there;
If there's a chance for me then i don't care."

The test of a man or woman's breeding is how they behave in a quarrel. George Bernard Shaw

Living in Grace

Wednesday 10 June 2020

Just like ...

Today's group of proverbs take on an interesting meaning where Solomon uses vivid images to help people understand his wisdom. He makes use of everyday objects to draw peoples attention to the issue at hand - that a fool will just never listen. He uses the image of a sling, a thorn-bush and an archer, among others. 

"Sending a message by the hands of a fool
    is like cutting off one’s feet or drinking poison.
Like the useless legs of one who is lame
    is a proverb in the mouth of a fool.
Like tying a stone in a sling
    is the giving of honor to a fool.
Like a thorn-bush in a drunkard’s hand
    is a proverb in the mouth of a fool.
10 Like an archer who wounds at random
    is one who hires a fool or any passer-by." - Proverbs 26:6-10

Which one of today's verses rings a bell for you?

“There are two ways to be fooled. One is to believe what isn't true; the other is to refuse to believe what is true.”― Soren Kierkegaard

“Any fool can criticize, complain, and condemn—and most fools do. But it takes character and self-control to be understanding and forgiving.” - Dale Carnegie

Living in Grace

Tuesday 9 June 2020

The wisdom of God

Proverbs-25-2 – Malaysia's Christian News Website
One of the great techniques of the wisdom literature is to compare two different issues, people or elements. In Proverbs 25 this is very clear where Solomon starts off comparing how God delights in keeping things hidden, while scientists spend their time and energy trying to uncover the secrets of world. 

I think it is a very effective way of drawing the listener into the conversation and making us think through the matter on a deeper level.  What do you think about today’s readings?

“God delights in concealing things;
    scientists delight in discovering things.
 Like the horizons for breadth and the ocean for depth,
    the understanding of a good leader is broad and deep.” (Message)

“It is the glory of God to conceal a matter;
    to search out a matter is the glory of kings.
As the heavens are high and the earth is deep,
    so the hearts of kings are unsearchable.” - NIV

“There is no limit to what God will do for the believer who will let God have all the glory.” - Warren W. Wiersbe

The highest and most profitable learning is the knowledge of ourselves. To have a low opinion of our own merits, and to think highly of others, is an evidence of wisdom.
- Thomas a Kempis

Living in Grace

Monday 8 June 2020


Ruin Side Turkey Turkish - Free photo on Pixabay
It can happen so quickly and easily that we should be wary in judging others. 
What am I speaking about, you may be wondering? Well, I am speaking about allowing our spiritual lives to fall into disarray. It may be a slow slide into apathy, but when we take stock of things, we may realise how far we have gone. Today's reading brought this to my attention.

30 "I went past the field of a sluggard,
    past the vineyard of someone who has no sense;
31 thorns had come up everywhere,
    the ground was covered with weeds,
    and the stone wall was in ruins.
32 I applied my heart to what I observed
    and learned a lesson from what I saw:
33 A little sleep, a little slumber,
    a little folding of the hands to rest
34 and poverty will come on you like a thief
    and scarcity like an armed man." - Proverbs 24:30-34

Did you notice the language towards the end? Solomon says "a little sleep, a little slumber" - it is the small things that we stop doing that can lead us to the big downfall.

How are your spiritual disciplines going at the moment?
How is your spiritual house?

Keep going at spending time with Jesus - he is our hope and strength at all times.

Live your life while you have it. Life is a splendid gift. There is nothing small in it. Far the greatest things grow by God's law out of the smallest. But to live your life, you must discipline it. Florence Nightingale

It was character that got us out of bed, commitment that moved us into action, and discipline that enabled us to follow through. Zig Ziglar

Living in Grace