Tuesday, 28 September 2021

If God hadn't been by our side



"If the Lord had not been on our side—
let Israel say—
2 if the Lord had not been on our side
when people attacked us,
3 they would have swallowed us alive
when their anger flared against us;
4 the flood would have engulfed us,
the torrent would have swept over us,
5 the raging waters
would have swept us away.

6 Praise be to the Lord,
who has not let us be torn by their teeth.
7 We have escaped like a bird
from the fowler’s snare;
the snare has been broken,
and we have escaped.
8 Our help is in the name of the Lord,
the Maker of heaven and earth."
- Psalm 124

In today's reading the Psalmist comes to a powerful realisation about God's help in difficult circumstances. He realises that things would have been a lot worse 'IF' God hadn't been there for him. 

This is a timely reminder for all of us I think. Have you ever wondered how your life would be IF God wasn't in your life?

Living in Grace
D3LM3

Monday, 27 September 2021

Moved any mountains?


This is a prayer that I found last week and used conjunction with the sermon entitled "What is your mountain?" It is so appropriate and beautiful that I want to share it with us all.

“Lord, I've never moved a mountain and I guess I never will. All the faith that I could muster wouldn't move a small ant hill. Yet I'll tell you, Lord, I'm grateful for the joy of knowing Thee, and for all the mountain moving down through life You've done for me.

When I needed some help you lifted me from the depths of great despair. And when burdens, pain and sorrow have been more than I can bear, you have always been my courage to restore life's troubled sea, and to move these little mountains that have looked so big to me.

Many times when I've had problems and when bills I've had to pay, and the worries and the heartaches just kept mounting every day, Lord, I don't know how you did it. Can't explain the wheres or whys. All I know, I've seen these mountains turn to blessings in disguise.

No, I've never moved a mountain, for my faith is far too small. Yet, I thank you, Lord of Heaven, you have always heard my call. And as long as there are mountains in my life, I'll have no fear, for the mountain-moving Jesus is my strength and always near. - Source Unknown.

Matthew 17:20-21 - “The simple truth is that if you had a mere kernel of faith, a poppy seed, say, you would tell this mountain, ‘Move!’ and it would move. There is nothing you wouldn’t be able to tackle.”

Living in Grace

D3LM3

Thursday, 23 September 2021

Searching for the well



"What makes a desert so beautiful is that somewhere it hides a well." - Antoine de Saint Exupery

As you make your way through the wilderness of life, please remember that our gracious Father has given us beautiful wells along the way. May we find these gifts and may they quench our thirst.

John 4 (Living Bible)

He had to go through Samaria on the way, and around noon as he approached the village of Sychar, he came to Jacob’s Well, located on the parcel of ground Jacob gave to his son Joseph. Jesus was tired from the long walk in the hot sun and sat wearily beside the well.

Living in Grace

D3LM3



Wednesday, 22 September 2021

No easy matter


How easy do you find Prayer? 

I admit that on some days I find it incredibly tough and this is usually because of outside circumstances. Yet, on other days the words seem to flow from deep inside me. Although prayer can be simple, it can also be hard. I am consoled by the words of many great saints who have paved the way for us, and of course from the pages of the Scriptures. It all helps me tremendously. 

"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." - Henri Nouwen

Matthew 6 (The Message)

“The world is full of so-called prayer warriors who are prayer-ignorant. They’re full of formulas and programs and advice, peddling techniques for getting what you want from God. Don’t fall for that nonsense. This is your Father you are dealing with, and he knows better than you what you need. With a God like this loving you, you can pray very simply. Like this: Our Father in heaven, Reveal who you are. Set the world right; Do what’s best— as above, so below. Keep us alive with three square meals. Keep us forgiven with you and forgiving others. Keep us safe from ourselves and the Devil. You’re in charge! You can do anything you want! You’re ablaze in beauty! Yes. Yes. Yes."

Observation: Prayer is not an easy matter, but it is one of our deepest necessities. 

Living in Grace

D3LM3

Monday, 20 September 2021

Falling into the hands of mercy


David said to Gad, “I am in deep distress. Let us fall into the hands of the Lord, for his mercy is great; but do not let me fall into human hands." (2 Samuel 24:14)

Initially I read this verse very quickly and almost skipped over the essential meaning, but am glad I lingered a little longer. What do you notice when you read it through a few times?

David understands something very profound - that God is way more merciful than many human beings are! I saddened by the judgement that many Christians make of each other, sometimes in very painful ways, yet we easily forget how much mercy we have all received from God. 

I realise I am still a work in progress, but I would rather be judged for being too merciful, than for being too bigoted. Thankfully God will decide our fate and not those who oppose us. 

What do you think?

Living in Grace

D3LM3


Sunday, 19 September 2021

Overcoming ourselves


Thomas a' Kempis wrote in the 15th Century, “the hardest struggle is the struggle to overcome ourselves." I think that what he could have meant by this is that we are often our own worst enemy. We struggle with our faults, short-comings and sins, wondering if God could even love us. This can sometimes move us away from the embrace of our loving God. Thankfully we have Jesus who has paved the way for our salvation and he is the ultimate victor.  

What things in your life do you struggle with? 

Do you find that your mind plays tricks on you? Does your mind sometimes run away from you so that your biggest struggle is with yourself? If you can relate to this, then I pray that these scriptures help you today.

Jeremiah 1:19 - They will fight against you but will not overcome you, for I am with you and will rescue you,” declares the Lord.

Mark 9:24 - Immediately the boy’s father exclaimed, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!”

Living in Grace
D3LM3

Thursday, 16 September 2021

Re-imagining Church - part 2


Last month I wrote an article for Scripture Union magazine on Re-imagining Church. As I began to explore this huge topic I realised that I have undertaken a task that was larger than I initially thought. Thankfully, SU was gracious enough to let me explore the subject in a second part, which was released yesterday. If you would like to read the article please simply click this link. 

I do believe it's a worthwhile read and I would love some of your comments on what I have wrestled with in writing. Thanks and God bless. 

Stanley Hauerwas says it best when he writes,

“God’s truth is credible to the world only when it sees a community shaped by the truth … if the Gospel is to be heard, it must also be seen.”

Living in Grace

D3LM3

Wednesday, 15 September 2021

The Juggler


The world record for juggling stands at 14 balls at one time and is held by Alex Barron. If you want to watch him breaking the record you can click on this link. So, why am I talking about juggling on this blog? Well, I feel it has a lot to say to many of us at the moment and I am including myself in this group.

What are you juggling at the moment? Are you feeling a little overwhelmed with all the balls in the air? I know that I have felt a little overawed at times. It just seems that the more balls one has in the air, the more we are tempted to add others to the game. However, the odds are always going to be stacked against us - the more we try to juggle, the greater chance there is of us letting the balls drop. So, what is the solution? 

Well, we would be wise to listen to the words of Jesus. He spoke to a different generation, but his words are still very relevant for us all.

33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. (Matthew 6)

What are you juggling at the moment?

What things are perhaps being dropped or neglected?

Living in Grace

D3LM3

Monday, 13 September 2021

Turn your eyes upon Jesus


The words of this beautiful song have been helpful for me today. Sometimes we find ourselves brought low by the issues that surround us, but we can always TURN OUR EYES UPON JESUS and know that he will hold us close. 

We don't always remember that the song we usually sing in church is just the chorus of the hymn. The rest of the words are equally special and reassuring. May they offer you love and support today.

Living in Grace
D3LM3

O soul, are you weary and troubled?
No light in the darkness you see?
There’s light for a look at the Savior,
And life more abundant and free!

Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in His wonderful face,
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim,
In the light of His glory and grace.

Thro' death into life everlasting,
He passed, and we follow Him there;
O’er us sin no more hath dominion--
For more than conqu’rors we are!

His Word shall not fail you--He promised;
Believe Him, and all will be well:
Then go to a world that is dying,
His perfect salvation to tell! (Helen Howarth Lemmel)

Sunday, 12 September 2021

Is forgiveness possible?


This weekend has been a significant reminder of the atrocity of 9/11. I really can't believe that twenty years has come and gone so quickly and it is hard to imagine what our world was like before then. Of course the pain of remembering loved ones is always there for each one of us, but when your family are killed in such brutal ways, it must be hard to even contemplate forgiveness. 

This is the truly difficult part of Jesus' teaching on forgiveness and loving our enemies. It sounds good in theory, but when we have to put it into practise it is a mammoth task. Paul offers us this suggestion and it is a helpful starting point for us: 

"If you want to keep from becoming fainthearted and weary, think about his patience as sinful men did such terrible things to him. After all, you have never yet struggled against sin and temptation until you sweat great drops of blood." (Hebrews 12:3-4)

May you know the love of Jesus as you seek to love those around you.

"To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that the prisoner was you." - Lewis Smedes

Living in Grace

D3LM3

Friday, 10 September 2021

Do not despair

 See the source image

Isaac of Syria once wrote to his followers encouraging them not to fall into despair. His words were more in line with feeling desperation for our sins, but I feel that his words' do not despair' are also true for us in all other circumstances.

“Do not fall into despair because of stumbling. I do not mean that you should not feel contrition for them, but that you should not think them incurable. For it is more expedient to be bruised than dead. There is, indeed, a Healer for the man who has stumbled, even He Who on the Cross asked that mercy be shown to His crucifiers, He Who pardoned His murders while He hung on the Cross."

2 Corinthians 4:8 - "We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair."

Living in Grace

D3LM3

Thursday, 9 September 2021

Finding rest in love


"The soul is made of love and must ever strive to return to love. Therefore, it can never find rest nor happiness in other things. It must lose itself in love. By its very nature it must seek God, who is love." - Mechthild of Magdeburg

Mechthild's words sound a lot like the words of Augustine, who wrote nearly 9 Centuries before of the same rest we can only find in God: "You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it rests in you.” 

And of course, these words find root in the prayers of the Psalmist who expressed in Psalm 67:1 - "Truly my soul finds rest in God; my salvation comes from him."

May you find your rest in Jesus. 

Living in Grace

D3LM3


Wednesday, 8 September 2021

What hinders our relationship with Christ?


There are so many devout Christ-followers that we know so little about. One of the 13th century mystics, Mechthild of Magdeburg, wrote passionately concerning her love for Jesus. She desired to truly follow Christ and to eliminate all things that came between her and God.

"What hinders spiritual people most of all from complete perfection is that they pay so little attention to small sins. I tell you in truth: When I hold back a smile which would harm no one, or have a sourness in my heart which I tell to no one ... then my soul becomes so dark ... and my heart so cold that I must weep greatly."

This is an interesting take on our attitude to 'sins.' So often, we as Christians, like to focus on the bigger sins of others and forget the 'little sins' that trip us up on a daily basis.

Matthew 7:1-5 - “Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.

Living in Grace

D3LM3



Tuesday, 7 September 2021

True Friendship

                                             See the source image

As we sang this beautiful hymn last week at a memorial service, I was reminded of the friendship that Jesus offers each one of us. And as we contemplate all that Christ brings to this friendship it still baffles me why people choose to say 'no thanks' to this gift. As you read through these familiar words may the Spirit of Jesus fill you with grace and peace.

Living in Grace

D3LM3

What a friend we have in Jesus,
  1. All our sins and griefs to bear!
    What a privilege to carry
    Everything to God in prayer!
    Oh, what peace we often forfeit,
    Oh, what needless pain we bear,
    All because we do not carry
    Everything to God in prayer!

  2. Have we trials and temptations?
    Is there trouble anywhere?
    We should never be discouraged—
    Take it to the Lord in prayer.
    Can we find a friend so faithful,
    Who will all our sorrows share?
    Jesus knows our every weakness;
    Take it to the Lord in prayer.
  3. Are we weak and heavy-laden,
    Cumbered with a load of care?
    Precious Savior, still our refuge—
    Take it to the Lord in prayer.
    Do thy friends despise, forsake thee?
    Take it to the Lord in prayer!
    In His arms He’ll take and shield thee,
    Thou wilt find a solace there.
  4. Blessed Savior, Thou hast promised
    Thou wilt all our burdens bear;
    May we ever, Lord, be bringing
    All to Thee in earnest prayer.
    Soon in glory bright, unclouded,
    There will be no need for prayer—
    Rapture, praise, and endless worship
    Will be our sweet portion there. (Joseph Scriven)

Sunday, 5 September 2021

What to pray for?


Here is an interesting take on things we could pray for:

“Do not pray for easy lives. Pray to be stronger men (and women). Do not pray for tasks equal to your powers. Pray for power equal to your tasks.” - Phillips Brooks

As you look ahead at your week, what prayers do you need to offer up to the Lord? Ask God for the strength to handle the tasks God has entrusted into your care.

Ephesians 6:18 And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.

God bless you. 

Living in Grace

D3LM3

Thursday, 2 September 2021

Starting where we are


"Where do we even start on the daily walk of restoration and awakening? We start where we are." - Anne Lamott

The future is often something we gaze at, believing that it will be better than the present. We pray for restoration and renewal, but we are not sure where it will come from. As Christians we hold fast to the belief that there is always hope in Jesus and that our time of revival can start today! 

As Anne Lamott writes, if we desire something in the future, the only way we can move towards it is by faith and simply walking one step at a time. 

Psalm 37:23 - The Lord makes firm the steps of the one who delights in him.

Hebrews 3:5 - “Moses was faithful as a servant in all God’s house,” bearing witness to what would be spoken by God in the future.

Living in Grace

D3LM3

Wednesday, 1 September 2021

Christ in our Chaos - new book release


I am pleased to announce that my new book Christ in our Chaos is officially released today. This book has been awhile in the making and has been greatly influenced by the stress, turmoil and chaos of the past 18 months.

It is my prayer that God would use this material to help many people to see that Christ is still present with us, even in our times of great trial. If you would like to order a copy of the book please check out all the details on the website www.livingingrace.co.za - This is mainly for people living in South Africa.

If you have family or friends living abroad, who may benefit from reading the book, you can also order it on Amazon. It can be sent to them either via Kindle or print on demand. Thanks for your ongoing encouragement and support of this ministry. 

Living in Grace

D3LM3