Monday 31 October 2022

Paul's prayer as an inspiration for All Saints Day?

When Paul shared his prayer with the church in Ephesus, it soon became a blueprint for similar prayers in the future. As many churches mark All Saints Day on the 1st of November, we thank God for all who have gone before us and for their Godly witness. Their inspiration drives us onwards in our faith journey. 

"I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love towards all the saints, and for this reason I do not cease to give thanks for you as I remember you in my prayers. 

I pray that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and revelation as you come to know him, so that, with the eyes of your heart enlightened, you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance among the saints,  and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power for us who believe, according to the working of his great power. 

God put this power to work in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the age to come. And he has put all things under his feet and has made him the head over all things for the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all." - Ephesians 1:15-23

Thought: Pause to give thanks for those believers who have inspired you to follow Christ.

Living in Grace


Sunday 30 October 2022

Special prayer for all who are writing exams

As a family we face another round of Matric Exams, starting this week. Even though Kim and I are not the ones writing the exams, we certainly feel the build-up of pressure and anticipation. Our thoughts and prayers go out to all other families who are preparing for exams and all students who are feeling the anxiety of these days. 

Here is a short prayer that I wrote for these exams - I pray that we can offer this prayer for all the young people engaged in their studies (as well as for all families impacted by the stress):

"Dear Lord, we bring our children to you, in the midst of this new exam season.
We place them into the palm of your mighty hand and ask that you grant them a deep sense of peace.
When they begin to feel the tide of anxiety rise up in their hearts, please remain their solid anchor.
Remind them that you are present with us, in the midst of all trials and difficulties.

Help them to be disciplined in their study time, to avoid unnecessary distractions, 
and to keep a healthy balance during these exams.
Reassure them that although these exams are important, 
the results will never influence how You (or we) feel about them.  
Our love remains constant and unchanging. 

We ask that as we support them, that you would grant us the strength and wisdom to know when to speak and when to remain silent. Help us to care for them and to encourage them as best as we can.
We thank you that this season shall soon pass, and we will be able to look back on all lessons learnt.

Lord in your mercy. 
Please hear our prayer. 
In Jesus' name. Amen." 

Psalm 28:7The Lord is my strength and shield. I trust him with all my heart. He helps me, and my heart is filled with joy.

Living in Grace

A significant occasion - The Reformation

It was on the 31st of October 1517 that Martin Luther posted his 95 Theses on the door of the church in Wittenberg and so the Protestant Church marks Reformation Sunday on the closest Sunday to this date. Martin was arguing against the sale of indulgences and a number of other key issues that he strongly disagreed with. Of course, the Reformation didn't happen in a vacuum, and it had its genesis in many convergent ideas and issues. 

As Luther studied and lectured on the Psalms and the Book of Romans, he experienced great anxiety about his salvation and so wrestled with what we now know as ‘justification by grace, through faith.” Luther never intended to break with the Roman Catholic Church, as he served the church as a monk, priest, and professor of theology. Indeed, it was his devout faith and desire for truth, that drove him to conclude, as historian and theologian Dr. Alister McGrath writes, that “the church . . . had misunderstood the gospel, the essence of Christianity.”

I feel it is important for us to remember the Reformation for a few simple reasons:

1. It sparked the renewal of the church in so many spheres, birthing the Protestant movement. 

2. It gave the opportunity for the Bible to be translated into every language.

3. It helped to decentralise the church and moved it out into the 'highways and byways.'

4. It reminded those in power that the church equally belongs to the people and not just to the educated.

5. It challenges us all to not grow complacent in our faith and to seek God's wisdom as we seek to share the Gospel with all people.

Romans 4:1-3 - Abraham was, humanly speaking, the founder of our Jewish nation. What did he discover about being made right with God? 2 If his good deeds had made him acceptable to God, he would have had something to boast about. But that was not God’s way. 3 For the Scriptures tell us, “Abraham believed God, and God counted him as righteous because of his faith.

Living in Grace


Thursday 27 October 2022

Gaze and Glance

A reader once wrote to Joni Eareckson Tada and said:

"Many believers gaze at their problems and glance at the Lord. But I tell you to gaze at the Lord and glance at your problems."

I think this is such fantastic advice. It is not wishing those problems away, or even pretending that they don't exist, but it is teaching us to keep our eyes focused on God - the One who will help us deal with each problem.

Psalm 27:4 - One thing I ask from the Lord, this only do I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze on the beauty of the Lord and to seek him in his temple.

Psalm 63:2 - I have seen you in your sanctuary and gazed upon your power and glory.

2 Corinthians 4:18 - So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever.

Living in Grace


Tuesday 25 October 2022

The practise of humility

I shared a lovely piece of writing on Sunday. I was preaching on the theme of humility, and I stumbled across these words from Mother Theresa. I have found them helpful to dwell on. I offer them to you and pray that they may also be a blessing to you.

“These are the few ways we can practice humility:
To speak as little as possible of one's self.
To mind one's own business.
Not to want to manage other people's affairs.
To avoid curiosity.
To accept contradictions and correction cheerfully.
To pass over the mistakes of others.
To accept insults and injuries.
To accept being slighted, forgotten and disliked.
To be kind and gentle even under provocation.
Never to stand on one's dignity.
To choose always the hardest.”

Mother Teresa,
The Joy in Loving: A Guide to Daily Living

Living in Grace

Monday 24 October 2022

Open my eyes to see clearly

"Open my eyes to see wonderful things in your Word. I am but a pilgrim here on earth: how I need a map—and your commands are my chart and guide. I long for your instructions more than I can tell." - Psalm 119:18-20 (Living Bible)

Although there is still a lot in the Bible that confuses me, I am grateful that God has helped open my eyes to the many wonders that are inside each book. I believe that when we are sincere about appreciating the beauty of the Scriptures, God will reveal his truth to us. 

The second idea in today's reading is an honest confession that we don't always know the right 'way.' We can easily take the wrong path at times. We are pilgrims on a journey, and we need a good map to help us along the way. God has offered us the best guidebook ever created - his instructions will get us safely to our destination. 

May God continue to lead you guide you. Be strong and courageous.

Living in Grace


Sunday 23 October 2022

Lessons learnt from the passing of our family pet

 “A dog is the only thing on earth that loves you more than he loves himself.” - Josh Billings

Sadly, we had to say goodbye to our family Labrador last week. Bella was 15 years old and had certainly lived a long and good life. In her earlier years she was such an energetic and busy dog, getting up to the usual dog-mischief when she was allowed. She watched all our boys grow up and loved to play with them when they were able to spend time with her. She travelled with us, as we moved 3 times, and was a constant presence in our lives.

As we get used to the emptiness that Bella's death has left in our home, I am struck by a few things that I hope we cherish forever. 

1. She was incredibly loyal - pets are such loyal friends to humans (certainly more than we are).
2. She was forgiving - you can be cross with your pet for a moment, but very soon, they come back to you as if nothing has happened.
3. She was happy almost all the time - the constant wag of the tail told us that she was content with her lot in life. A little food, shelter and love, was all she needed.
4. She loved company - Labrador's love to be around people and she used to lie down or sit wherever she knew someone would have to walk over her or around her :)
5. She was friendly to 99% of people - her capacity to accept people was truly overwhelming. If she didn't get along with someone, it was usually an indication that something was 'up' with the human and not her. 

We will miss her but are grateful for all the years we got to enjoy life with her. To all of you who have ever lost a pet, I am sure you understand. God bless. 

“Heaven goes by favour. If it went by merit, you would stay out and your dog would go in.” - Mark Twain

“I care not for a man's religion whose dog and cat are not the better for it.” - Abraham Lincoln

Living in Grace

P.S. - The photo is from the internet 

Thursday 20 October 2022

Set up the markers and signs

All hikers know that when you are on the trail you need to look out for the cairns along the way. Once you have spotted them it is tradition that you add a rock to the pile - this is so that others may notice the cairn on their hiking adventure and also so that we can spot it on the way back. 

This is what Jeremiah was eluding too when he spoke to the people of Israel on their way to exile. He wanted them to remember their way back home.

"Set up road signs;
    put up guideposts.
Mark well the path
    by which you came.
Come back again, my virgin Israel;
    return to your towns here." - Jeremiah 31:21

What 'signposts' or 'cairns' help you find your way back to Jesus?

Eugene Peterson wrote -

“Set up signposts to mark your trip home. Get a good map.
Study the road conditions.
The road out is the road back.
Come back, dear virgin Israel,
come back to your hometowns."

Living in Grace


Wednesday 19 October 2022

Failure prepares us for victory

"People succeed when they realize that their failures are the preparation for their victories." - Ralph Waldo Emerson

I find it interesting that we live in a culture where 'failure' is frowned upon. We expect to get everything right and to be perfect all the time. Not only is this unrealistic, but it is also very narrow-minded. Life is full of 'mistakes' that led to amazing inventions or success stories. So, why are we so afraid of failure?

I was reminded of a number of Biblical heroes, each of whom FAILED at one point in their lives, yet was used in a mighty way for God.


Remember that even Jesus' death on the cross was deemed to be a failure by some people.

Living in Grace

Tuesday 18 October 2022

Jesus on our lips, but the world in our hearts!


I don't think that these words need any further explanation. They are from the mouth of Ignatius of Antioch:

  1. “Christianity is not a matter of persuading people of particular ideas, but of inviting them to share in the greatness of Christ. ...
  2. “We recognize a tree by its fruit, and we ought to be able to recognize a Christian by his action. ...
  3. “Do not have Jesus Christ on your lips, and the world in your heart.”
Which one of these resonates with you today?

What can we do in response to these thoughts?

Psalm 89:34 - I will not violate my covenant or alter what my lips have uttered.

Living in Grace

Monday 17 October 2022

Do not be discouraged

I couldn't think of a better word to start this week with. As we head into the tail end of the year, we are all starting to feel weary and tired. Discouragement can sneak into our language and lives. May these words of Joshua remind us that God is on our side and will be with us.

"Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” - Joshua 1:8-9

Brennan Manning once wrote: "Suffering, failure, loneliness, sorrow, discouragement, and death will be part of your journey, but the Kingdom of God will conquer all these horrors. No evil can resist grace forever."

Living in Grace

Sunday 16 October 2022

Prone to wander

When Robert Robinson wrote the famous lines of his hymn 'Come now fount of many blessings', I believe he was helping all of us get to grips with the struggles in our faith. Just like the Israelites, we are all prone to wander away from God's ways: 

"Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it—
Prone to leave the God I love;
Here’s my heart, O take and seal it,
Seal it for Thy courts above."

The honesty in this verse resonates with me. He is not afraid to admit that there is a tendency for him to drift away from the Lord, but a sincere desire to stay connected to Jesus. 

Can you relate to these words at all?

Romans 7:21-25
21 So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. 22 For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; 23 but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. 24 What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? 25 Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!

May God be near to each one of you as you continue to struggle on the path of grace.

Living in Grace

Saturday 15 October 2022

Blessed are those who ...

"Blessed are those whose ways are blameless, who walk according to the law of the Lord.
Blessed are those who keep his statutes and seek him with all their heart." - Psalm 119:1-2

Psalm 119 is one of the most intriguing pieces of writing in the entire Bible. We note that it is the longest chapter in Scriptures (176 verses) and includes 22 sections of eight lines each. This coincides with the 22 letters of the Hebrew alphabet and is a technique that was used to help believers memorise the sacred text. It is also worth noting that this Psalm makes 8 different references to the Law, using 8 synonyms for the commands of God. In today's reading, you will note 2 of these.

The overriding message of this Psalm is that if we choose to follow the ways of God we will be Blessed. God's ways are hard to follow, but they will bring us to a place of contentment and peace.

Socrates - The end of life is to be like unto God; and the soul following God, will be like unto Him; He being the beginning, middle, and end of all things.

Living in Grace

If you are interested in following my latest Bible Study on Psalm 119, please visit this link. 

Thursday 13 October 2022

Unusual Kindness

Alan Brehm - "We find what we're looking for in life when we give ourselves away in kindness and compassion for others, rather than trying to take as much as we can get for ourselves."

I know I have said this before, but it bears repeating - "our world is in need of more kindness!" We have become self-absorbed and consumed with trying to 'get' for ourselves, that we have overlooked those in need of God's kindness. 

When Luke recounts what happened on the island of Malta, he notes that they were treated with unusual kindness.

"The islanders showed us unusual kindness. They built a fire and welcomed us all because it was raining and cold." - Acts 28:2

What may have shocked Luke and Paul the most was that they didn't expect the locals in Malta to be kind to them. Perhaps they had already pre-judged them? Kindness offers us a chance to re-evaluate the way we think and feel about people. 

If God treats us with unusual kindness, then perhaps we should learn to offer this same kindness to others. 

Living in Grace

Wednesday 12 October 2022

What would a happy life look like?

What would a happy life look like for you?

Many people would choose to have a life free from troubles and hardships, but this is very unrealistic. In fact, I would suggest that this kind of life doesn't exist at all - well, maybe in fairy tales, but not in real life. 

"A happy life consists not in the absence, but in the mastery of hardships." - Helen Keller

Helen Keller's insight helps us to see beyond the difficulties and to keep our eyes fixed on Jesus. Striving to find contentment and 'peace' in the midst of troubles has to be one of the hardest exercises we will ever undertake. 

If the quote (above) hadn't come from someone like Helen Keller, I would have struggled to believe it, but because she has discovered the 'truth' in this regard, I have to sit up and pay attention. How do you feel?

Ecclesiastes 7:14 - When times are good, be happy; but when times are bad, consider this: God has made the one as well as the other.

Living in Grace


Tuesday 11 October 2022

When is our character revealed?

See the source image

How do we get to develop our character? Is it only in the good times or do we truly begin to see our character in the difficult moments of our lives?

"Character may be manifested in great moments but it is made in small ones." - Phillip Brooks

1 Peter 5:15Don’t let your character be moulded by the desires of your ignorant days, but be holy in every department of your lives, for the one who has called you is himself holy. 

What do you think of this in light of your character?

Living in Grace


Monday 10 October 2022

No accidental progress

See the source image

"A true and faithful Christian does not make holy living an accidental thing. It is his great concern. As the business of the soldier is to fight, so the business of the Christian is to be like Christ." - Jonathan Edwards

The first thing that struck me about this quote is that following Jesus can't be an 'accidental thing'. We don't become more and more like Jesus by some random chain of events. We become more like Christ, by imitating the ways of Jesus. 

Of course, one of the keys to holy living is to spend time in the sacred scriptures. It is these words that offer us direction, wisdom, grace and Life.

Hebrews 12:11 No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.

What can you do to be more intentional about following Jesus?

Living in Grace


Wednesday 5 October 2022

St Francis of Assisi - words of wisdom

At this time of the year many people in Church circles remember St Francis of Assisi. His ministry left an indelible mark on the church and changed the lives of many outside the formal structures of the faith. It is hard to sum up the many aspects of his life, but one gets some idea of his heart when we reflect on his wise words:

It is no use walking anywhere to preach unless our walking is our preaching.

While you are proclaiming peace with your lips, be careful to have it even more fully in your heart.

Remember that when you leave this earth, you can take with you nothing that you have received - only what you have given: a full heart, enriched by honest service, love, sacrifice and courage.

May we do all we can to live our lives to the Glory of God.

Living in Grace

"The Lord makes firm the steps of the one who delights in him; though he may stumble, he will not fall, for the Lord upholds him with his hand." - Psalm 37:23-24

Tuesday 4 October 2022

Don't take it for granted

On the 4th of October 1537 the world got to read the first Bible printed in the English language, and this was thanks to the tireless work of people like William Tyndale and Miles Coverdale. It is a sad reality that many English speakers now take this gift for granted and we forget the true joy of listening to the sacred scriptures (or reading them) in our mother tongue. 

The quote in the picture above strikes a chord with me, where it reminds me that "the things I take for granted, someone else is praying for."

What other things do I take for granted?

Enjoy reading these words from the Bible and say a prayer of thanks for all those involved in translating the Bible into the languages of the world.

Ecclesiastes 7:14 (The Message) - On a good day, enjoy yourself; On a bad day, examine your conscience. God arranges for both kinds of days So that we won’t take anything for granted.

Living in Grace


Monday 3 October 2022

Do not Fret!

"Do not fret because of those who are evil
or be envious of those who do wrong;"
- Psalm 37:1

I know that we don't use the word 'FRET' much anymore, but when we spend a little time dwelling on its meaning, one realises what a powerful word it is.

Fret can mean - “be constantly or visibly anxious” (verb)

Or it can mean - “gradually wear away something by rubbing/gnawing”

After doing a little digging around I realised it comes from an old English word ‘freton’, which literally means ‘to devour like an animal.’ And if we analyse, we conclude that this is what worry does to all of us – it eats us up from the inside. 

Question: What are you fretting about at the moment? Are you able to hand this over to the Lord?

Living in Grace


Sunday 2 October 2022

Doing good where we can

"Trust in the Lord and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture." - Psalm 37:3

My reflection on this verse is that I can so easily get distracted by the evil around me that I forget about the good I can do in my community. The word of wisdom comes to us today, urging us not to forget to Trust in God and keep our eyes on him. 

John Wesley coined these words, which are an inspiration to do good.

“Do all the good you can,
by all the means you can,
in all the ways you can,
in all the places you can,
at all the times you can,
to all the people you can,
as long as ever you can.”

May we place our trust in Jesus and keep on doing good wherever we can.

Living in Grace