Friday 29 July 2022

Have you never heard about this?

"Have you never heard? Have you never understood?
The Lord is the everlasting God,
the Creator of all the earth.
He never grows weak or weary.
No one can measure the depths of his understanding.
He gives power to the weak
and strength to the powerless.
Even youths will become weak and tired,
and young men will fall in exhaustion.
But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength.
They will soar high on wings like eagles.
They will run and not grow weary.
They will walk and not faint."
- Isaiah 40:28-31

Isaiah's words came to me this week, at just the right time. I was grateful that they lifted my spirits and encouraged me. I pray that they may also offer you an oasis in the midst of your dryness.

God has not forgotten you. 

Living in Grace

Thursday 28 July 2022

We need some Good News

"Messenger of good news, shout to Zion from the mountaintops" - Isaiah 40:9

The past few weeks have been really tough from a ministry point of view - we have had to grieve with a number of families who have lost loved ones, as well as grieve with people who have been diagnosed with terminal illnesses. It has left me asking: "Where is the Good News?"

So, when I was prompted to turn to Isaiah 40 I was immediately struck by verse 9 - Messenger of Good News! Isaiah then carries on to speak of God's greatness and how he does hear us when we call out to him. These words were like a healing balm to my soul. Of course we also remember that Jesus is the greatest messenger of Good News for us. 

I pray that if you are feeling a little burdened and tired at the moment, that these words would be helpful:

"O Jacob, how can you say the Lord does not see your troubles? O Israel, how can you say God ignores your rights?
Have you never heard?
Have you never understood?
The Lord is the everlasting God,
the Creator of all the earth.
He never grows weak or weary.
No one can measure the depths of his understanding."

Living in Grace

Tuesday 26 July 2022

Character versus reputation

If ever you wondered if there was a difference between the Character of a person and their Reputation, perhaps these words will help you reflect on which is more valuable.

"The circumstances amid which you live determines your reputation; the truth you believe determines your character.

Reputation is what you are supposed to be; character is what you are.
Reputation is the photograph; character is the face.

Reputation comes over one from without; character grows up from within.
Reputation is what you have when you come to a new community; character is what you have when you go away.
Your reputation is learned in an hour; your character does not come to light for a year.
Reputation is made in a moment; character is built in a lifetime.
Reputation grows like a mushroom; character grows like the oak.
A single newspaper report gives you your reputation; a life of toil gives you your character.
Reputation makes you rich or makes you poor; character makes you happy or makes you miserable.
Reputation is what men say about you on your tombstone;
character is what angels say about you before the throne of God. (William Hersey Davis)

Deuteronomy 8:2 - Remember how the Lord your God led you through the wilderness for these forty years, humbling you and testing you to prove your character, and to find out whether or not you would obey his commands

Living in Grace

Monday 25 July 2022

Living a meaning life

John Maxwell wrote - "To live a worthwhile, meaningful life, a person must be part of something greater than himself." 

Knowing a little about John Maxwell, I would guess that he is speaking about being part of a business that is making a difference in the world and which feeds into our desire to contribute towards something greater. 

However, he could also be referring to the Christian faith, as he is a former Pastor and Christian leader. John could be reminding us that living a meaningful life must include community. It is always tempting to 'go it alone', but this can leave us feeling empty and frustrated at time.

1 Thessalonians 2:12 - We pleaded with you, encouraged you, and urged you to live your lives in a way that God would consider worthy. For he called you to share in his Kingdom and glory.

Living in Grace


Sunday 24 July 2022

Prayer is hard - prayer is easy! Which one is it?

Katie Savage makes me feel a little more at ease when she shares this honest confession about her prayer life: 

"Prayer is easy; prayer is hard. It is both of these together. Sometimes words tumble out, one after another and on top of each other, and then sometimes prayers come only in groans and silence."

How is your prayer life at the moment? Easy - hard?

No matter how we feel our prayer life is going, we all need some encouragement to keep going. In my opinion, prayer is not something you ever get 'good' at, but rather we slowly learn to tune into the rhythm of the father's grace. Once this happens, so we are freer to express ourselves in prayer and communion with the Lord. Perhaps the correct word would be 'more natural!' - Prayer becomes more natural for us as we persevere in prayer. 

What are your thoughts on this?

Colossians 4:2 - Don’t be weary in prayer; keep at it; watch for God’s answers, and remember to be thankful when they come. (Living Bible) 

Living in Grace


Saturday 23 July 2022

God's purpose fulfilled

Though I walk in the midst of trouble, you preserve me against the wrath of my enemies; you stretch out your hand, and your right hand delivers me. The LORD will fulfil his purpose for me; your steadfast love, O LORD, endures forever. Do not forsake the work of your hands. (Psalm 138:6-8)

When the Psalmist remembers the favour of God, he is adamant that the Lord will fulfil his purpose in his life. He even goes on to plead with the Lord not to forsake the 'work of his hands.' 

Do you still believe that the Lord has a purpose for your life? What is that purpose and how are you allowing God to work in your life?

How does the last line of the reading make you feel?

“The mystery of human existence lies not in just staying alive, but in finding something to live for.” – Fyodor Dostoyevsky

Living in Grace


Thursday 21 July 2022

Strong and immovable

"So, my dear brothers and sisters, be strong and immovable. Always work enthusiastically for the Lord, for you know that nothing you do for the Lord is ever useless." - 1 Corinthians 15:58

Paul has a lovely way of encouraging us to persevere. I know that we don't always feel immovable and strong, but his message is important for us to hear. Our work for the Lord cannot be measured in the same way as commercial success, but we need to believe that when we serve God our efforts are making a difference.

"With all this going for us, my dear, dear friends, stand your ground. And don’t hold back. Throw yourselves into the work of the Master, confident that nothing you do for him is a waste of time or effort." (The Message - Eugene Peterson)

Keep serving the Lord and leaving the results up to him. 

Living in Grace


Wednesday 20 July 2022

Sleep is forgiveness


“Life is grace. Sleep is forgiveness. The night absolves. Darkness wipes the slate clean, not spotless to be sure, but clean enough for another day's chalking.” - Frederick Buechner, The Alphabet of Grace

What could Buechner have meant when he declared that 'sleep is forgiveness?' Is it that as we say goodbye to the trials and sins of today, we pass through the darkness of night, which acts as a cloth, wiping the slate clean? I had never really thought of it in this way, but it does make sense to me? 

Perhaps we should try this and see how it works for us? To release the pain and failure of today into the hands of a merciful Christ and trust that in the morning we will feel the freedom of a new beginning.

Isaiah 1:18 - “Come now, let us settle the matter,” says the Lord.
“Though your sins are like scarlet,
they shall be as white as snow;
though they are red as crimson,
they shall be like wool.

Living in Grace

Tuesday 19 July 2022

Not a burden we bear

"Not a burden we bear,
Not a sorrow we share,
But our toil he doth richly repay;
Not a grief nor a loss,
Not a frown nor a cross,
But is blest if we trust and obey." - John Henry Sammis

The words of this hymn speak into our daily lives. There is not one burden, or tear or feeling of anxiety, that God isn't aware of. 

Let us trust in God's goodness to help us through each day.

Isaiah 12:2 - "See, God has come to save me. I will trust in him and not be afraid. The Lord God is my strength and my song; he has given me victory."

Living in Grace


Monday 18 July 2022

A dangerous veneer


"You can't wait for the Sabbath day to be over and religious festivals to end so you can get back to cheating the helpless." - Amos 8:5

When Amos challenged the people of Israel about their shallow faith, he was pointing out that they were good at creating a 'veneer' of religiosity, but their lives hadn't changed one bit. 

This is a dangerous veneer for us to put over our hearts, because we may fool others, but we will never fool God. 

Are their any parts of your faith that are easier to hide than to openly bring to the Lord?

“God hath given you one face, and you make yourself another.”
― Shakespeare, Hamlet

Living in Grace


Thursday 14 July 2022

Crawling when we can't walk


To continue with our John Bunyan theme for this week, I have chosen the above quote (which is in the picture): "Run when I can, walk when I cannot run, and creep when I cannot walk."

The idea within these words is that there are definitely going to be times in our Christian journey when we feel tired or overwhelmed. However, if we move in the power of Christ, we can still move a little further each day. 

Some days we may feel as if we can run and not be hindered at all; other days we may just feel like we can crawl. However, you are feeling at the moment I just encourage you to keep your eyes on Jesus.

Isaiah 40:31 - "...but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint."

Living in Grace


Wednesday 13 July 2022

Looking for answers

It is interesting that we often assume we are the only generation to be facing unique difficulties. When you read this next quote, note how these words could apply to us in 2022, yet they were written 350 years ago.

"The reason why the Christians in this day are at such a loss as to some things is that they are contented with what comes from man's mouth, without searching and kneeling before God to know of Him the truth of things." - John Bunyan

Of course, what comes out of "man's mouth" today is spread far and wide via the internet as well. The great challenge for each one of us is to kneel before God, especially when we are troubled about certain things.

1 Chronicles 16:11 - Look to the Lord and his strength; seek his face always.

Proverbs 28:5 - Evildoers do not understand what is right, but those who seek the Lord understand it fully.

Living in Grace


Tuesday 12 July 2022

Words that have no heart

There can be nothing worse that listening to someone speak about a really important issue, but realising that they don't really care about the particular issue. Politicians are especially good at doing this - but, then again, we may not be so innocent either. Our times of prayer can so easily become moments of 'religious repetition', unless we carefully monitor the movement of our heart. Do our hearts really believe in what we are praying/saying?

It is noticeable that John Bunyan wrote a lot about prayer, and this is most likely because he was a man of prayer himself.

 “In prayer it is better to have a heart without words than words without a heart. ”

“Prayer will make a man cease from sin, or sin will entice a man to cease from prayer.”

“Pray often, for prayer is a shield to the soul, a sacrifice to God, and a scourge for Satan.

Matthew 6:7 - “When you pray, don’t babble on and on as the Gentiles do. They think their prayers are answered merely by repeating their words again and again.

Thought: Have you recently been tempted to speak without truly meaning the words?

Living in Grace


Monday 11 July 2022

Running from God

“He who runs from God in the morning will scarcely find Him the rest of the day.” ― John Bunyan 

I have found this sentiment to be so true in my personal experience. Bunyan advocates for spending time with the Lord in the mornings, before the day gets too hectic and the demands of life weigh us down. 

I know that it is not always practical for some people, especially when there are children in the household. However, the overriding principle of spending 'some' time with the Lord during the day is crucial and as long as we do it, then we will feel connected with our Lord. 

Psalm 5:3 - In the morningLord, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait expectantly.

What time of the day do you find best to sit quietly with the Lord? 

Closing thought: It is a worthwhile practise to offer God the day before it unfolds.

Living in Grace


Sunday 10 July 2022

Pray and read - read and Pray!


John Bunyan is famously known as the author of The Pilgrim's Progress, a book that allegorically tells the story of a person's journey of faith. According to some sources, Bunyan's work (printed in 1678) has never been out of print and has influenced writers, scholars and believers for 350 years. 

Bunyan has numerous quotes that speak into my life, but this one caught my attention as it speaks of the unique combination of prayer and reading. I have been fortunate to have had a chance to read a few books whilst on leave and many of them have been catalysts to prayer. It is remarkable how a good book, and especially the Scriptures, can prompt us to speak to God.

What books inspire you to prayer a little more?

Living in Grace


Saturday 2 July 2022

We need time to recharge the motors!

With all of the latest load-shedding (in South Africa) I have noticed that our gate motors don't have the necessary time to recharge their batteries. Previously, it would have been fine, but now that we are on level 6 load-shedding, there is no time for them to get back to full power.

The obvious connection with our emotion and spiritual batteries is there for us to note. If we don't take the time to recharge our batteries, we will eventually come to a stand still. Jesus reminds us all of this important principal when he takes time to rest and recharge.

Matthew 14:23 - After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. Later that night, he was there alone...

Living in Grace


P.S. I will be taking a few days to 'practise what I preach', so I won't be sharing blogs for a few days :) 

Friday 1 July 2022

Eavesdropping on a conversation

"For prayer is nothing else than being on terms of friendship with God." - Teresa of Avila

Let us remember that when Jesus instructed his disciples to pray, he suggested that they use a radical term for God - our Father - It was something they hadn't really believed they could do. 

"Pray like this: Our Father in heaven, may your name be kept holy." - Matthew 6:9

How is your prayer life at the moment?

If someone eavesdropped on our prayers would they be able to say: "this person is definitely friends with Jesus?"

Living in Grace