Thursday 30 June 2022

Magnetised by his goodness

"...many of us today, despite our familiarity with the Gospels, have imbibed an image of God which causes us to recoil from him rather than be magnetised by his goodness." - Joyce Huggett

The clearest way to identify our own image of God, would be to ask us all to draw a picture. Thankfully, I am not going to do that today, as my drawing leaves a lot to be desired. However, if I had asked you to draw a picture, what kind of image would you have put onto paper? 

There is a sad reality amongst many church-goers, that very few of us can picture a smiling, gregarious Jesus. It is easier to think of an austere, bearded holy man, rather than allow ourselves to dwell on the idea that Jesus' magnetism drew thousands to his side. If the crowds had been afraid of him, they wouldn't have tried to get near him. 

What do you think?

Hebrews 7:19 - But now we have confidence in a better hope, through which we draw near to God.

Living in Grace


Tuesday 28 June 2022

Laughing at ourselves

The last 3 books I have finished reading have all taken a lighter look at the church and the 'goings on' inside the Christian community. None of them have been irreligious at all, but have certainly made me laugh and groan at the same time. We are indeed a strange bunch :) 

Each of the authors have taken their own slant on the characters within the stories, but I have certainly been able to laugh at myself and some of the interesting people in the books. I feel that laughter is a great way of drawing aside the curtain and taking a deeper look at myself. Of course, sometimes it makes me feel sad that the church has missed the mark many times, but it also fills me with hope when I see how many people are sincerely seeking to follow Jesus. 

In the end, it is important for all of us to remember that God didn't call a group of perfect disciples to lead the church, but a group of believers who knew that they had to rely on the grace of Christ. 

Psalm 126:2 - We were filled with laughter, and we sang for joy. And the other nations said, “What amazing things the Lord has done for them.”

In case you are wondering which books I have been reading, here they are:

  • Till the Fat Lady Sings - Bob Jackson
  • The Sacred Diary of Adrian Plass aged 37 3/4 - Adrian Plass
  • Heavens Doors - Lynda Rose

Living in Grace


Monday 27 June 2022

Paving the way

"God not only begins, but conducts to the end, the work of our salvation, that his grace in us may not be useless and unprofitable. As he opens up the way, he paves it, and removes the obstacles of every description, and is himself the leader during the whole journey. In short, he continues his grace towards us in such a manner that he at length brings it to perfection." - John Calvin

As we read these words is there a passage from scripture that comes to your mind?

Perhaps I can prompt us a little...

... John 14:6?

... Isaiah 35:8?

If you have the time to search these two passages you will find the answer in each one of them. For me, the key in this quote and in the scriptures is that God's grace continues with each one of us, as we journey on the way. Instead of creating obstacles for us, God paves the way.

Living in Grace


Thursday 23 June 2022

Be strong; do not fear

In preparing for a message today I was drawn back to Isaiah 35. There is something profound about these words of hope:

"Strengthen the feeble hands,
steady the knees that give way;
say to those with fearful hearts,
Be Strong, do not fear."
- v.3-4

I am sure that these words are meant for some of us today. If you have a moment please read through the entire chapter - it will be a blessing to you.

Living in Grace


Wednesday 22 June 2022

How deep the Father's love

How deep the Father's love is one of my favourite songs. There is something special about the words, melody and message of the song that reaches deep inside my soul. If you have never heard the song, here is a beautiful version of the song - may it bless you today. 

"How deep the Father's love for us
How vast beyond all measure
That he should give His only Son
To make a wretch His treasure
How great the pain of searing loss
The Father turns His face away
As wounds which mar the Chosen One
Bring many sons to glory." 
- Stuart Townend

Ephesians 3:18 - I pray that you will be able to understand how wide and how long and how high and how deep His love is.

Living in Grace


Tuesday 21 June 2022

The dawn will break


In the Southern Hemisphere we are experiencing the Winter Solstice today. Our shortest day and longest night, will be mirrored by the longest day and shortest night in the Northern Hemisphere. Whichever you are experiencing today, please think on these few thoughts:

The longest night of our year will only be from 17:44 this evening until 07:51 tomorrow morning (in Cape Town). Yes, it will be cold and dark, but it will not be forever. I find that I have a greater capacity to 'hang on' when I know that the end is in sight. 

This thought gives me hope when I think about all the pain and heartache in the world - with Christ we are offered the great hope that even our darkest of times will not be forever.

Jesus died and entered into the darkness, but that was also short-lived. Three days later he rose from the grave and gifted us all with the promise of new life. 

Psalm 112:4 - Even in darkness light dawns for the upright, for those who are gracious and compassionate and righteous.

"No winter lasts forever; no spring skips its turn." — Hal Borland

Living in Grace

Sunday 19 June 2022

Taste and See

On this Father's Day I invite us to reflect on a special aspect of our relationship with God - that we can 'experience' God's love first hand and not just in our minds.

Psalm 34:8 – “Taste and see that the Lord is good. Oh, the joys of those who take refuge in him!”

To “taste and see” the goodness of the Lord is not only to “agree and believe” – but to experience God’s goodness.

"The difference between believing that God is gracious and tasting that God is gracious is as different as having a rational belief that honey is sweet and having the actual sense of its sweetness.” – Jonathan Edwards

It is easy to point out all that is wrong with Father's in our world, but we should never forget that Jesus reveals the love of the perfect Father. May you taste and see that God is good.

Living in Grace


Wednesday 15 June 2022

Remember the God of our Youth


As we remember National Youth Day on the 16th June, let us be reminded of our call to invest in the lives of the younger generation and to offer them the guidance they need. The best gift we can give them is the knowledge of Jesus as their Saviour and Friend. Here are a few passages to spur us on:

Psalm 71:5 - For you have been my hope, Sovereign Lord, my confidence since my youth.

Psalm 103:5 - who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.

Ecclesiastes 4:13 - Better a poor but wise youth than an old but foolish king who no longer knows how to heed a warning.

Ecclesiastes 12:1 - Remember your Creator in the days of your youth, before the days of trouble.

What 'faith' lessons would you love to pass onto the younger generations?

Living in Grace


Tuesday 14 June 2022

Start by listening to the stories of others

When Paul spoke to the learned people in Athens, he noted that they had built a statue “to an unknown God!” (Acts 17:23). They had done this as a safety measure,  just in case they had missed out on one of the many gods – they wanted to cover all their bases. 

What I like about Paul's response to this statue is that he didn't dismiss their religious efforts outright, but rather used it as a bridge to the gospel of Jesus. We would be wise to use this approach even in our own lives as people are still seeking God today. Sadly they are not looking for God in the church, as the church may have failed a lot of people over the years. 

However, it is good to remember that we are not offering them the church (per se), we are offering them Jesus.

Philip Moore offers us this advice: “Luke tells us to stop dismissing people’s stories and instead use them to point people towards Jesus. When we listen for ways to build bridges and point out Jesus where people have missed him, opportunities to call people to repentance are never far away. God is looking for tour guides – ordinary people like you and me.”

What do you make of this? 

Whose story do you need to listen to today? 

Living in Grace


Monday 13 June 2022

Be near us

“O loving Lord, be near us today,
Open our ears to hear your voice.
Open our eyes to behold your glory.
Open our hearts to receive your grace.
Open our lips so we can offer you just praise.
For the sake of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Saviour. Amen.” (based on a prayer by Frank Colquhoun)

Psalm 73:28 But as for me, it is good to be near God. I have made the Sovereign Lord my refuge; I will tell of all your deeds.

It is good to be close to God. May you come to know the presence of our Saviour today.

Living in Grace

Friday 10 June 2022

I shall not pass this way again

“I expect to pass through life but once. If therefore, there be any kindness I can show, or any good thing I can do to any fellow being, let me do it now, and not defer or neglect it, as I shall not pass this way again.” - William Penn (inspired by Stephen Grellet 1773–1855)

This quote leaves me questioning how I treat other people and what if I only get one chance to show kindness to another human-being? It may sound a little cliched, but we are all called to show love to people and to reveal Christ in all we do. This is not as easy as we think, but we are asked to TRY.

Ephesians 2:7 - "... in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus."

As we walk through our lives today, may we try to notice every person as a 'fellow being' and offer the love of God to each of them.

Living in Grace


Thursday 9 June 2022

A New Yoke - what does this mean?

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” - Matthew 11:28-30

I was reminded today that when Jesus offered for us to take his yoke upon ourselves it was a radical offer. We usually imagine the idea of two oxen ploughing the fields, under the same yoke - one of them being represented by us and the other by Christ. Jesus takes up the greater strain of the yoke and we are given a moment to rest.

However, there is another side to the illustration. Rabbi's also referred to the teaching of the law as a 'yoke.' And that when we chose to follow God, we lifted the yoke upon our shoulders and learnt the ways of God. However, this proved to be a burden for many people, as they felt the desperate weight of their sins and the bondage of the law. Jesus' invitation to a new 'yoke' is therefore an invitation to a new way of following God -the way of Love, Mercy and Grace. 

May the words of Matthew 11 bless you with freedom, rest and peace, today. 

Living in Grace


Wednesday 8 June 2022

Acknowledgement of request

I had to write an email to a corporate institution this week and was pleasantly surprised to immediately receive an 'acknowledgement' email in return. That in itself was not amazing, but what did surprise me was that the email stated: 

  • I had made contact with the right department
  • They were experiencing a high volume of queries
  • They would get back to me asap
Somehow their email made we feel 'at peace' - almost as if I had been helped already or that my query would be dealt with soon. Strange, but true! 

And then I thought to myself - what if God could do that with my prayers? We could pray and God could get one of his angels to send us an email stating:

1. We have sent our request to the right department
2. God was experiencing a high volume of requests
3. He would get back to me asap

Wouldn't that make us feel more at peace? I could probably carry on without bombarding God with more requests if I just knew that he had heard me the first time. 

Or is it just me?

And then I read these words, which put me straight:

Psalm 6:9 - The Lord has heard my cry for mercy; the Lord accepts my prayer.

Psalm 40:1 - I waited patiently for the Lord; he turned to me and heard my cry.

Living in Grace


Tuesday 7 June 2022

Hope in the future

“Where there is no hope in the future, there is no power in the present.” – Anon

It is hard to shake the feeling that the world is in a huge mess. Everywhere you look, all we seem to see is crisis, trouble, pain, suffering and despair. As Christians, we need to keep our focus on Jesus Christ in order to look beyond the limits of our world. If we are only looking for signs of hope in the man-made world, we will come up disappointed. 

Let us hold onto hope, so that we can live with purpose and power in the present.

Job 6:11 - “What strength do I have, that I should still hope? What prospects, that I should be patient?

Job 11:18 - You will be secure, because there is hope; you will look about you and take your rest in safety.

Living in Grace


Monday 6 June 2022

Living God's way

The work of the Holy Spirit is to enable us to live our lives for the glory of God and to serve others in our communities. As Eugene Peterson eloquently describes: "The Holy Spirit is God moving in us to live God's life."

How does this resonate with you? 

Do you sense the Spirit moving in your heart, equipping you to live God's life?

1 John 3:24 - The one who keeps God’s commands livein him, and he in them. And this is how we know that he livein us: We know it by the Spirit he gave us.

Titus 2:12 - It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly livein this present age,

Living in Grace


Sunday 5 June 2022

A most unique gift

When we receive gifts from loved ones and friends, it is usually an indication of a deeper relationship between us. I mean, how often do you give gifts to someone you don't really appreciate and enjoy? I can't recall ever doing that.

We are reminded that at Pentecost God gave us the greatest gift of all - Himself. Jesus had been explaining to his followers that they should expect this GIFT, but in true fashion, no one knew what this gift would be. 

Acts 1:4 - On one occasion, while he was eating with them, he gave them this command: “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about."

"Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.”  - John 4:10

The challenge for us all is what we will do with this most unique and indispensable gift. Sadly, too many of us have left the gift unopened and unused.

Living in Grace


Thursday 2 June 2022

Being prayed for

There is something special about knowing that people are praying for you. It gives you a sense of hope and support. However, how does it make you feel when you consider that Jesus prays for us? Read these words from John 17:

"I am praying not only for these disciples but also for all who will ever believe in me through their message." - John 17: 20

Romans 8:27 - And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God.

Whatever you are facing today, may you be encouraged that the Lord is praying for you. God will grant you His strength. 

Living in Grace


Wednesday 1 June 2022

Dragons and fairy tales

“Fairy tales do not tell children the dragons exist. Children already know that dragons exist. Fairy tales tell children the dragons can be killed.” ― G.K. Chesterton

There is something intriguing about this quote - perhaps it is because most children love fairy-tales or that we grow up wanting to believe in heroes and 'knights in shining armour.' 

My immediate thought was how this quote speaks into our experience of Faith. We don't need to be reminded that evil exists (these are the dragons), but rather that Christ has overcome all of our dragons. The stories of faith, found the Bible, remind us that Christ is victorious and these should inspire us to place our trust in the One who defeats all evil.

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.

John 1:5 - The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

Living in Grace