Monday 31 January 2022

God can do it again

"For you have rescued me from my troubles and helped me to triumph over my enemies." - Psalm 54:7

There is beautiful joy in knowing that God has delivered us from difficult circumstances in the past. This knowledge helps us to look into the future with a quiet trust and an assurance that is hard to match. 

Of course, it doesn't remove the present trials from us, but we can come to experience a calmness (or peace that passes all understanding) when we learn to trust in Christ.

Thought: Recount how God has delivered you in the past and then trust him for what lies ahead. 

Living in Grace


Sunday 30 January 2022

Employed for you

When we say the Methodist Covenant Prayer, there are a few words that may have lost their original meaning over time. For example:

"Let me be employed for you or laid aside for you,
exalted for you or brought low for you..."

Traditionally we could understand this to mean that regardless if we are employed/unemployed we would be content in God's will. However, there is a different perspective on this, that I feel draws all of us into God's greater work, regardless of our employment status. This difference also implies that every single believer has some work to do, in the Kingdom.

Colossians 3:23-24 - Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.

If we note that God has given us all spiritual gifts and natural talents, then we need to offer these back to God and to apply ourselves to these tasks. Our 'work' for the Lord will be to live for Jesus. If God has called me to serve as an usher in church, or a children's church teacher, or a pastoral care assistant, or anything else, then I am 'employed' in serving God in the Church. 

What would this mean for you at the moment? 

What 'work' does God have for you to do at the moment?

Are you willing to pick up the mantle and serve Christ.

Have you considered that our work is a partnership with God's spirit? We work with God and not for God?!

Living in Grace

Thursday 27 January 2022

Habits and motivation

Maxime Lagace wrote: "Make your habits so specific and your dreams so inspiring that motivation will take care of itself."

Although his reflection has little to do with Jesus, I was wondering if Maxime somehow tapped into the calling of Jesus. If you look at the habits of Jesus they were so specific and unwavering. He spent time with his Father regularly - he worshipped in the Synagogue - he read the Scriptures. All of these things he did because he believed in them and he wanted to keep the discipline of his life in check.

When it comes to the 'dreams of Jesus'; well they were a little more than just dreams. His idea and vision of the Kingdom of God is what motivated people to flock to him in their thousands. Every time Jesus spoke to a gathering, he motivated people to see God in a different light and believe in a Father who loved them. 

Luke 9:57 - As they were walking along the road, a man said to him, “I will follow you wherever you go.”

What habits do we need to continue?

What motivates us at the moment? 

Living in Grace


Wednesday 26 January 2022

Strength together


The word 'Comfort' has many different meanings, which include: "easing the distress of someone" or "freedom from pain". However, I came across this definition which really speaks to me - Comfort means "strength together." 

If you have ever needed comfort then I sure you can relate to the idea of someone drawing alongside us in order to offer us solace and strength. We can rise from our periods of pain and despondency when we know that another person is there to assist us. 

Surely, part of the calling of being 'church' is that we comfort one another?

In our mutual journey of faith, we draw comfort from the words, actions and prayers of those around us. If we withdraw from community and fellowship then there is a danger that we have no one to comfort us.

Henri Nouwen wrote: "Comfort is the great human gift that creates community. Those who come together in mutual vulnerability are bound together by new strength that makes them into one body."

1 Corinthians 12:26 - If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honoured, every part rejoices with it.

Living in Grace


Tuesday 25 January 2022

Perfected through adversity

Dr. Robert Frost wrote a book entitled Our Heavenly Father. In this little gem he penned these words:

"There is nothing more precious to God than our praise during affliction... What He does not protect us from, He will perfect us through. There is indeed a special blessing for those who do not become offended in God during adversity."

The words I have highlight truly struck me as profound. We long for God to protect us from all trials and adversity, but this was never promised to us. What God does promise us, is that he will guide us through the troubles and we will be 'perfected' by what is revealed to us during these times. 

Paul used different language to express the same sentiment.

"I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us." - Romans 8:18

Living in Grace


Monday 24 January 2022

God is a friend of silence

"God is a friend of silence.
See how nature - trees, flowers, grass - grow in silence.
See the stars, the moon, the sun,
how they move in silence."
- Mother Teresa of Calcutta

I find it interesting that our world is obsessed with noise and when we seek to be liberated from all the sounds of life, we face plenty of opposition. More often than not, the resistance comes from within our own hearts. We may feel a pull towards silence, but we struggle to let go of the noise. We keep the TV on, we keep the notifications pinging on our phones, we turn the radio on when we drive - we are afraid of the silence.

But, why is this? 

Are we afraid of God may say to us?

If silence is Golden, why do we resist it so much?

Job 33:31 - "“Pay attention, Job, and listen to me; be silent, and I will speak."

Revelation 8:1 - "When he opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven for about half an hour."

Challenge: Try and spend some time in silence today and just 'be' in the presence of God. 

Living in Grace

Saturday 22 January 2022

To be with Jesus

Acts 4:13 – “When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realised that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished, and they took note that these men had been with Jesus.”

I think that these words from Luke are perhaps the greatest compliment anyone could give another Christian - "we see that you have been with Jesus." Although Peter and John had their own blind-spots and many areas of growth, the time they had spent with Jesus had changed their lives.

Is this something that others could say about us? Has our time with Christ changed our lives?

How can we spend more focussed time with Jesus?

Living in Grace


Friday 21 January 2022

The offering of all things

“Human resources
However limited,
When willingly offered
And divinely empowered,
Are more than adequate
To achieve divine ends.”
- Stuart Briscoe

In preparation for our Covenant services this weekend, I found this poem. I think it is really challenging and invites us to offer our 'human resources' to the Lord. The small offering we can give will be divinely empowered and multiplied to share with others.

Psalm 76:11 (The Message)Do for God what you said you’d do— he is, after all, your God. Let everyone in town bring offerings to the One Who Watches our every move.

What is it that you will bring? 

Living in Grace

Wednesday 19 January 2022

Rule of thumb

“Here is a simple, rule-of-thumb guide for behaviour: Ask yourself what you want people to do for you, then grab the initiative and do it for them. Add up God’s Law and Prophets and this is what you get." - Matthew 7:12 (The Message)

This was the verse for today and I was struck by how simple the 'rule' is, yet how hard we make it. Can you imagine how our world would be if more of us followed this behaviour?

Living in Grace


Tuesday 18 January 2022

Back to school

The importance of learning is clear to all of us. For this reason we send our kids to an academic institution to further their studies and to gain valuable knowledge (and hopefully some wisdom). All of this involves numerous sacrifices on the behalf of the parents, as well as the students. Completing an academic milestone takes times, resources, effort and perseverance. 

As we send our kids 'back to school' this week, I am reminded of our call to keep studying the word of God and to keep growing in our faith. Learning to be a follower of Jesus will take our entire lifetime, but we need to be committed to the process.

So what are we doing to further our 'spiritual education?'

What tools help you to discover more about God and our journey of discipleship?

Psalm 111 - "Hallelujah! I give thanks to God with everything I’ve got— Wherever good people gather, and in the congregation. God’s works are so great, worth a lifetime of study—endless enjoyment! Splendour and beauty mark his craft; His generosity never gives out. His miracles are his memorial— This God of Grace, this God of Love."

Living in Grace


Monday 17 January 2022

Greatness is determined by?

See the source image

Martin Luther King Jnr - "Not everybody can be famous but everybody can be great, because greatness is determined by service."

As our friends in the USA are enjoying Martin Luther King Day, it is worthwhile reminding ourselves of some of his inspiring words. It is also important to remember that he also lived out what he preached. This is the true test of any person - that their actions match their words.

Luke 10:36-37 - “Which of these three do you think was a neighbour to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?” The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.”

Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”

2 Corinthians 4:5 - For what we preach is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake.

Living in Grace

Sunday 16 January 2022

Not be shaken

"Cast your cares on the Lord and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous be shaken.” – Psalm 55:22

These words of comfort and hope are a great encouragement for us today. I pray that we would learn to cast our cares onto Christ and trust in his sustaining power. May the Spirit of God help us to rest secure and to not be shaken. 

"Listen to my prayer, O God, do not ignore my plea; hear me and answer me." - v.1

Living in Grace


Wednesday 12 January 2022

The great mediator

Jonathan Edwards wrote “The redeemed are dependent of God for all. All that we have—wisdom, the pardon of sin, deliverance, acceptance in God’s favour, grace, holiness, true comfort and happiness, eternal life and glory—we have from God by a mediator; and this mediator is God."

Is there any one of these gifts that stands out for you today?

I am thankful for everyone of them, but today I am most grateful that Jesus is my mediator. Jesus stands in the gap on my behalf. When I don't have anything to give, to pray or say, it is Jesus who speaks on my behalf.

Hebrews 9:15 - "For this reason Christ is the mediator of a new covenant, that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance—now that he has died as a ransom to set them free from the sins committed under the first covenant."

1 Timothy 2:15 - For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus

Living in Grace


Tuesday 11 January 2022

Pulling us forward

Our encounters with God are never meant to be kept private, but rather to inspire us to share the good news with others. Each moment with Jesus is a further reassurance that God is with us and that he has given us all we need for the future. God's spirit lead us continually forward - and sometimes it is almost as if he is pulling us into the next stage of this adventure.

§       Melissa Bane Sevier - "We leave our place of worship, the reminder of our baptism, the ringing in our ears of the voice of God heard in the scriptures and the voices of our friends who encourage us, and we walk back into our everyday life, with a sure sense that God is pulling us forward."

Galatians 5:25 - Since we are living by the Spirit, let us follow the Spirit’s leading in every part of our lives.

Living in Grace


Monday 10 January 2022

Even before we were known on earth

Every time I read Psalm 139 I am reminded of how much God loves each one of us. And then when we read the same passage from a few different translations, the wonder of God's love becomes even more pronounced. Take the words from Eugene Peterson's paraphrase as an example:

"Oh yes, you shaped me first inside, then out;
    you formed me in my mother’s womb.
I thank you, High God—you’re breathtaking!
    Body and soul, I am marvelously made!
    I worship in adoration—what a creation!
You know me inside and out,
    you know every bone in my body;
You know exactly how I was made, bit by bit,
    how I was sculpted from nothing into something.
Like an open book, you watched me grow from conception to birth;
    all the stages of my life were spread out before you,
The days of my life all prepared
    before I’d even lived one day." - Psalm 139:13-16

Max Lucado adds another unique insight into these words when he contemplates how God has loved us even before we breathed our first breath – “You were loved in heaven before you were known on earth.”

Living in Grace


Sunday 9 January 2022

Grant us strength

Here is a meaningful prayer for the beginning of a new week. May these words uplift you and inspire you. 

“Grant us strength and grace to run the race to the best of our ability,
with our eyes focussed on you.
Fill our hearts with love for you – love that leads to action.
Place our feet sturdily on the road that you have shown us
and bring us to the destination you have prepared for us.
In Jesus name. Amen.”
– Solly Ozrevech

2 Corinthians 12 - My grace is enough; it’s all you need. My strength comes into its own in your weakness.

Living in Grace

Thursday 6 January 2022

What is Epiphany and how does it change my life?

We have the word before, but what does it really mean? Epiphany!

Epiphany is the English form of word that means 'manifestation' in Greek. It is directly related to the occasion where Jesus is presented to the Magi and they offer him their gifts. It symbolises that the message of the Good News is 'manifest' or 'offered' to the Gentiles for the very first time (Matthew 2) and so this becomes a historic moment. If you would like to read a good source on the background to Epiphany you can click here. 

In our Church tradition Epiphany is also linked with the Baptism of Jesus, which is remembered at this time of the year. God's love and delight in his son are clearly made manifest in the proclamation from the heavens which says, “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.” (Luke 3:23) 

So, how does this change my life and should I even bother remembering this feast day? The answer to this question is really up to you, but I find it helpful to mark this day as a day of Gratitude. As a non-Jewish person I am delighted that God's gift of salvation is also offered to me. I am overwhelmed that God delights in us and that God made a way for us to know Him. Of course, I don't need to wait for the 6th January to remember this glorious gift, but it does make sense to mark this occasion just after the birth of Jesus.

What are your thoughts on this? What gifts can we bring to Jesus. 

Luke 2:32 - "...a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and the glory of your people Israel.”

Acts 11:18 - “So then, even to Gentiles God has granted repentance that leads to life.”

Living in Grace


Wednesday 5 January 2022

A new form of prayer

If you read the title of my post and got excited about learning a 'new form of prayer', then you may be a little disappointed, but I really hope not. So, please hear me out and hopefully I can change your mind. 

I think that a lot of Christians struggle with prayer and most often it is because we aren't sure if we are 'doing it right!' We stumble along, trusting that God is listening and perhaps even getting bored of our routine words. However, prayer is so much more than trying to get a formula correct - it is about spending time in the presence of the Almighty - and there is no formula for that!

Contemplative prayer is a newish word for a form of prayer that has been around for generations. This is how Jan Johnson describes it:

"Contemplative prayer, in its simplest form, is prayer in which you still your thoughts and emotions and focus on God Himself. This puts you in a better state to be aware of God’s presence, and it makes you better able to hear God’s voice correcting, guiding, and directing you…. The fundamental idea is simply to enjoy the companionship of God, stilling your own thoughts so you can listen should God choose to speak. For this reason, contemplative prayer is sometimes referred to as ‘the prayer of silence."

So, if you have never tried it, then I urge you to find a quiet spot and just BE STILL.

Mark 1:35 - Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.

Living in Grace


Tuesday 4 January 2022

I am not ready for Easter!

I was shocked to walk into a supermarket today and find that they had already put out Easter Eggs. I may have said something under my breath, but that would be inappropriate to repeat on this blogpost :) 

I am still trying to figure the whole thing out, to be honest. Easter is in the middle of April this year - that makes it 3 months away. And so there can be no other reason for the display of chocolate eggs than commercial greed, unless I am missing something. Couldn't the store owners wait a week or two? 

As you are well aware, I am huge fan of spending time in preparation for our Holy days - Lent for Easter time and Advent for Christmas, are two of my personal favourites. There are also many significant Holy days in between Easter and Christmas, and I feel we should be observing these too. Perhaps this is why I over reacted to the sight of the eggs - I feel we rush through these seasons without truly digesting their great significance for our lives.  

It is only 4 days into 2022 and I am still wanting to dwell on the miracle of the 'Word made flesh', as well as the Epiphany of the Magi. I need time to process my own surrender to our King and what gifts I want to offer God this year. I am definitely no were near ready to start my journey towards Easter. 

John 1:14 - "The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth."

How do you feel? Any thoughts are welcome.

Living in Grace


P.S. No chocolate Easter Eggs were harmed in the writing of this post, although a few Christmas chocolates may now be consumed to calm my shattered nerves :) 

Monday 3 January 2022

Here I stand - I can do no other!

See the source image

It was on the 3rd January 1521 that Martin Luther was excommunicated from the Church by Pope Leo X. One of the main reasons for this was the way that Luther challenged the official Church doctrine on various issues. He was a man of principles and conviction, which led him to proclaim "Here I stand; I can do no other!" when he was ordered to recant his beliefs.

Although we may not be asked to make the bold stand of Martin Luther, but we will be asked (everyday) to stand for Christ. Sometimes we will face huge uncertainty and maybe even opposition, but we will be ask to commit to Jesus.

Matthew 24:13 - "but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved."

In what ways are you being asked to stand for Jesus today.

Living in Grace


P.S. If you would like to support my writing ministry, please check out my Patreon site. Thanks for the willingness to support this ministry. All proceeds go towards the writing of new material, as well as making the content/books more affordable for the community. God bless. 

Sunday 2 January 2022

Waiting on God

Most of us are not so good waiting, let alone waiting for the Lord to speak to us. It can seem like a long time of silence, when God is working in the background, but we need to trust in his timing. 

“Waiting for God is not laziness. Waiting for God is not going to sleep. Waiting for God is not the abandonment of effort.  Waiting for God means, first, activity under command; second, readiness for any new command that may come; third, the ability to do nothing until the command is given.” - G. Campbell Morgan

·     Isaiah 64:4 - For since the world began, no ear has heard and no eye has seen a God like you, who works for those who wait for him!

As the week unfolds, may the Lord speak to you and may we be blessed with the gift of patience.

Living in Grace


Saturday 1 January 2022

Reflecting on letting go of the old and embracing the new

Here is a delightful poem for the beginning of our new year. It was written by late Irish poet and author, John O'Donohue. Enjoy ...

"As this year draws to its end,
We give thanks for the gifts it brought
And how they became inlaid within
Where neither time nor tide can touch them.

The days when the veil lifted
And the soul could see delight;
When a quiver caressed the heart
In the sheer exuberance of being here.

Surprises that came awake
In forgotten corners of old fields
Where expectation seemed to have quenched.

The slow, brooding times
When all was awkward
And the wave in the mind
Pierced every sore with salt.

The darkened days that stopped
The confidence of the dawn.

Days when beloved faces shone brighter
With light from beyond themselves;
And from the granite of some secret sorrow
A stream of buried tears loosened.

We bless this year for all we learned,
For all we loved and lost
And for the quiet way it brought us
Nearer to our invisible destination." (take from "To bless the space between us")

1 Peter 1:14 - "So you must live as God’s obedient children. Don’t slip back into your old ways of living to satisfy your own desires. You didn’t know any better then."

Living in Grace