Thursday 13 June 2024

If God is for us...

 


Our thought for today is really simple. I pray that it would help you in whatever you are facing.

"What shall we say about such wonderful things as these? If God is for us, who can ever be against us?" - Romans 8:31

Try and remind yourself that it is not just 'you' facing the world alone; but rather it is 'Christ and you' standing together. When Christ is 'for you', nothing can stand against you.

Living in Grace

D3LM3


Wednesday 12 June 2024

Trying to find the right balance



As Christians we wrestle with the dilemma of being submerged in our communities, as witnesses for Jesus, but at the same time, not wanting to take on the ways of the world. It is a hard balance to live out. Too much of an influence from the outside, can pull us away from the Christian Life; but if we stay hidden away from a world that is searching for answers, how will people ever hear about Jesus?

It is interesting to read these words from the early Church Father, Tertullian, who shows us how the Christian community didn't shrink back from the world in which they found themselves:

“We have filled every place among you – cities, islands, fortresses, towns, marketplaces, camps, tries, companies, palace, senate, forum …. We are not like (others) exiling themselves from ordinary life…. We go to your forum, your market, your baths, your shops, your workshops, your inns, your fairs, and the other places of trade.” - Tertullian

“You are the salt of the earth. But what good is salt if it has lost its flavor? Can you make it salty again? It will be thrown out and trampled underfoot as worthless.

“You are the light of the world—like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden. 15 No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket. Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house." - Matthew 5:13-14

Thought: Ask God to help you shine His shine into your community today.

Living in Grace
D3LM3



Monday 10 June 2024

Prayers for post-Election deliberations


As we contemplate the outcome of the elections in South Africa and as we nervously seek a way forward, we have been asked to hold these deliberations in prayer. Here is a prayer that was given to us by the Presiding Bishop of the Methodist Church of Southern Africa. Even if you are currently living in another country, I believe the prayer is appropriate for all of us to use. Let us believe in miracles. God bless you. 

"Heavenly Father,

We come before You with hearts full of hope and faith, seeking Your divine intervention in the formation of a government of national unity in South Africa. We acknowledge Your sovereignty and wisdom over all nations and leaders.

Lord, we came together and petitioned You for peaceful elections and You answered our prayers. We seek Your face once again Lord and ask for Your guidance and wisdom to be upon our leaders as they navigate the complexities of governance. Grant them the humility to set aside personal ambitions and partisan interests for the greater good of our nation. May they be inspired by a spirit of collaboration and mutual respect, recognizing the value of each contribution towards a unified and prosperous future.

Instill in them a deep sense of justice, compassion, and integrity, so that they may serve with a heart for the people, especially the marginalized and vulnerable. Help them to listen to one another, to seek common ground, and to forge a path that promotes peace, stability, and shared prosperity.

We pray for the people of our nation, that we may support and encourage our leaders in their endeavors. Unite us in purpose and resolve, so that we may all work together towards a future where harmony, equality, and opportunity abound for everyone.

In Jesus name, we place our trust and hope. Amen."

Living in Grace

D3LM3



Sunday 9 June 2024

Following closely - like a shadow


When Simon (the Sorcerer) came to know Jesus as his Lord, he left his old life and followed Phillip wherever he went. It was as if he felt that in being close to Philip, this would keep him close to Jesus.

"Even Simon himself believed and was baptized. From that moment he was like Philip’s shadow, so fascinated with all the God-signs and miracles that he wouldn’t leave Philip’s side." - Acts 8

Of course, there is a lot of wisdom in his actions, as we would all do well to follow the example of Godly people. However, we should do this without glorifying the actions of people, but rather seeing Christ in their lives.

Thought: If you could walk in the shadow of another person, who would that be?

Living in Grace

D3LM3 

 


Saturday 8 June 2024

Why do we make excuses?


Many Christians make excuses for the lack of something in the spiritual lives. We may hear someone say: "I can't share my faith because I am a shy person" or "I don't know as much about the Bible as others " or "I am not perfect." 

While all of these statements may well be true, when we speak like this, we deny the power of God's spirit to work in the "ordinary-ness" of our lives. There are plenty of Biblical examples of people who used the same excuses we do, yet they eventually allowed the power of God to change their lives. 

Take Stephen as an example: Stephen was chosen as one of the 7 new disciples because “he was a man full of the Spirit and wisdom” and we see that when Stephen surrendered himself fully to Jesus, he “performed amazing miracles and signs among the people.” (Acts 6:8) However, if you read the rest of the story, you will note that he was initially chosen to be a kitchen-worker and administrator - solving the issues that had arisen in the distribution of food. 

“Stephen, the kitchen worker, stands tall in the annals of faith as one of those men who did much for God’s Kingdom. Clearly, God doesn’t need everyone to be preachers and teachers; he just needs ordinary people who will learn from Him and be willing to be used in extraordinary circumstances.” – NLT Bible commentary

Thought: What can we do for the kingdom of God?

Living in Grace

D3LM3


Wednesday 5 June 2024

Through the strength of God


“We are used to viewing the early apostles as superstars on a pedestal that we can easily forget that they were pitifully inadequate for the task which they were given.” – Phil Moore

This quote brings us back to the reality that the disciples were simply 'human', just like we are. They allowed the Holy Spirit to equip them and strengthen them for all the tasks that lay ahead, even when they didn't know what these would be. How often have we been confronted with a task or situation that we have felt ill-equipped for, and God has come through for us? I know that this has happened to me many times.

Thought: What are you facing today that you need to be reminded of God's strength and provision?

"The members of the council were amazed when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, for they could see that they were ordinary men with no special training in the Scriptures. They also recognized them as men who had been with Jesus." - Acts 4:13

Living in Grace

D3LM3

Tuesday 4 June 2024

You are my hiding place


I have found such comfort in these words over the past few days. 

"For you are my hiding place;
you protect me from trouble.
You surround me with songs of victory. 

The Lord says, “I will guide you along the best pathway for your life.
I will advise you and watch over you."
- Psalm 32:7-8

In my mind I see two big ideas that are conveyed to us through the words of this Psalm.

1. We can find shelter, protection and care, in the presence of Jesus.
2. The Lord guides us into paths that are best for us.

Thought: 
Which one of these speaks to your situation at the moment?

There is a beautiful song that put these words into music and verse. If you have time, you can listen to it on this platform. 

Living in Grace
D3LM3

Monday 3 June 2024

The riddle of the Universe


The Universe is a complex system that we only know a small fraction of. However, as Christians, we believe that when we come to know the Author of Life, we get closer to understanding the heartbeat of this universe. 

Michael Green reflects on how the Holy Spirit changed the lives of the disciples so much, that it was as if they had discovered the 'riddle of the universe' and they were prepared to live and die for it. 

“Here were men and women of every rank and station in life, of every country in the known world, so convinced that they had discovered the riddle of the universe, so sure of the one true God whom they had come to know, that nothing must stand in the way of their passing on this good news to others….”

Hebrews 11:3 - By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible.

Thought: Are you still looking for the answers to Life? Why not place your trust in the Author of all Life?

Living in Grace

D3LM3


Thursday 30 May 2024

Walking with a limp


I was reading a quote from Brian McLaren, that spoke of 'admitting that we walk with a limp.' It was in the context of speaking of Church Orthodoxy and Faith, but I like the concept he was suggesting. 

How often do we, as Christians, pretend that all is well and that we have all things figured out? We do this to cover up our own questions, fears and failings. It is as if we carry an injury with us, but we are too proud to walk with the limp - we want to give the impression that we are strong and healthy. Yet, that is living a lie.

The longer I serve Jesus, the more I see that indeed I walk with a limp. I am wounded and God is okay with my wounds. I will keep following in the ways of Jesus, even if I walk with a spiritual limp. 

As we reflect on this, we are drawn to the familiar story of Jacob. We find it in Genesis 31:

24 So Jacob was left alone, and a man wrestled with him till daybreak. 25 When the man saw that he could not overpower him, he touched the socket of Jacob’s hip so that his hip was wrenched as he wrestled with the man. 26 Then the man said, “Let me go, for it is daybreak.”
But Jacob replied, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.”

27 The man asked him, “What is your name?”
“Jacob,” he answered.

28 Then the man said, “Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel, because you have struggled with God and with humans and have overcome.”

29 Jacob said, “Please tell me your name.”
But he replied, “Why do you ask my name?” Then he blessed him there.

30 So Jacob called the place Peniel, saying, “It is because I saw God face to face, and yet my life was spared.”

31 The sun rose above him as he passed Peniel, and he was limping because of his hip."


If God could walk with Jacob, and still choose him to become Israel (Genesis 32:28), then we are in great company.

Thought: Don't be afraid to walk in the footsteps of Christ, even if your walk is not perfect.

Living in Grace
D3LM3

Tuesday 28 May 2024

A prayer for the Elections in South Africa

 


As we embark upon another National Election, this is what is on my heart at the moment. These are just a few words that express my prayers for South Africa.

Lord, we pray for our elections in South Africa, and for all involved in monitoring that they are undertaken in a free and fair manner.

We pray that peace would prevail in our beloved land, despite the short-sighted people that seek to be disruptive and divisive.

We pray for all who will vote, believing that our individual vote can make a difference.  

We step forward in hope, trusting that our voices will be heard and that political parties will start to make good on their promises.

Our deepest longing is for trustworthy leadership in South Africa. For men and women who would not bribe us for our votes and then take advantage of their positions for the next 4 years.

We pray for servant leaders, who are willing to roll up their sleeves and help us provide solutions to the myriad of problems we face. (At the moment, it seems that most leaders rather want to roll down their sleeves to protect their Rolex’s and expensive jewellery.)

We pray for a miraculous outpouring of love, grace and unity in our communities. Where people with divergent opinions and political viewpoints, can use our collective humanity to change our world.

We pray for a reawakening in the spiritual lives of all South Africans, so that we would see how Your hand can guide us and lead us into the future.

We pray that Faith, Hope and Love, would permeate the breadth of our land and that we would experience Your peace.

Lord, in your mercy,

Please hear our prayers. Amen.

Living in Grace

D3LM3

Monday 27 May 2024

After Aldersgate


John Wesley's heart-warming experience in Aldersgate (24 May 1738) is well documented. However, what is not well known is it that although John's encounter with God gave him deep assurance of his salvation, he was not exempt from further trials. This is important for all Christians to know and understanding. Any encounter with God will deepen our faith and our experience of Jesus, but we will continue to live in a broken world. It is how we are now equipped and prepared for the new challenges that makes all the difference. 

Listen to how John Wesley describes his new attitude to challenges: 

"After my return home, I was much buffeted with temptations; but cried out, and they fled away. They returned again and again. I as often lifted up my eyes, and he sent me help from his holy place. And herein I found the difference between this and my former state chiefly consisted. I was striving, yea, fighting with all my might under the law, as well as under grace; but then I was sometimes, if not often, conquered: now I am always a conqueror." - John Wesley

Before Aldersgate, Mr. Wesley felt that he was striving and fighting in his own strength. After his Aldersgate experience, he allowed God to do the fighting.

Romans 8:37 - No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.

Thoughts: What can John's story teach us about our own journey of faith?

Living in Grace

D3LM3

Thursday 23 May 2024

Now unto Him


Benedictions have become an integral part of many churches over the centuries. Sadly, sometimes we forget that these 'last words' or 'parting blessings' are not just a nice way to end the time of worship, but also a careful reminder of the incredible power of God. It is almost as if we need a final reminder, before we head out into the world, that God is bigger than we realize, and that the Holy Spirit will help us more than we hoped.

Take this passage for example, see what it tells us.

"Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen." - Ephesians 3:20-21

Thought: The next time you sing (or say) a Benediction, think about the words you are speaking over life. 

Living in Grace
D3LM3

Wednesday 22 May 2024

More than a theory


"Christianity is more than a theory about the universe, more than teachings written down on paper; it is a path along which we journey - in the deepest and richest sense, the way of life. There is only one means of discovering the true nature of Christianity. We must step out upon this path, commit ourselves, to this way of life, and then we shall begin to see for ourselves." - Kallistos Ware

These words speak to us of being willing to step outside of the norm and to walk in the path of Jesus. This is the easiest, and equally, the most difficult thing to do. 

It is easy in that it takes one moment to make that decision; it is the hard, because it involves a deep commitment to follow the path wherever Christ takes us. For this reason, we need to depend on the fullness of God's Spirit. Without the infilling of the Holy Spirit, I don't believe we have a hope of finishing the journey.

Exodus 31:3 - "and I have filled him with the Spirit of God, with wisdom, with understanding, with knowledge and with all kinds of skills."

Living in Grace

D3LM3

Tuesday 21 May 2024

A prayer of authenticity


I have come to understand that my most 'effective' prayers are usually my most honest outbursts. I feel that God delights in our authenticity, because it means we are being our true selves before His throne. How hard (or easy) is it for you to be fully authentic before the Lord?

Psalm 31:23 - Love the Lord, all his faithful people! The Lord preserves those who are true to him, but the proud he pays back in full.

"Eternal God, you have been the hope and joy of many generations, and who in all ages has given people the power to seek you and in seeking to find you. Grant me, a clearer vision of your truth, a greater faith in your power and a more confident assurance of your love. Amen." - John Baillie 

Living in Grace

D3LM3

Monday 20 May 2024

God waits for us


Have you ever considered the notion of God waiting for us? We often refer to the fact that we are the ones who seem to do a lot of waiting for God, especially when it comes to the answering of our prayers. However, today's quote got me thinking about God's remarkable patience and grace with each of us. See what you feel.

"God waits to dwell in us and to fill us with yet more grace, more love, more wholeness and with his own fullness. But the God of the Bible never bulldozes his way into a person's life. He loves us enough to wait until, out of our own free will, we invite him to come to us." - Joyce Huggett

Perhaps it may make even more sense, when you read it in light of 1 Timothy 1:16 - "But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his immense patience as an example for those who would believe in him and receive eternal life."

Let me know what you are thinking.

Living in Grace

D3LM3

Sunday 19 May 2024

Pentecost - what a gift!


On this day of Pentecost, it is a moment to thank God for his indescribable gift of the Holy Spirit. The outpouring of the Paracletos (comforter, advocate, counsellor) was for the equipping and blessing of the believers. This gift was to give us the dynamic power we needed to share the Good News with a world longing for Hope and Love. 

I don't believe that anything has changed, in terms of our reliance of the Spirit, and God's call for us to share the Gospel. It is my prayer that we could be filled with God's Spirit, in order to move into our troubled world with a clear message of grace.

“That’s when Peter stood up and, backed by the other eleven, spoke out with bold urgency: “Fellow Jews, all of you who are visiting Jerusalem, listen carefully and get this story straight.” – Acts 2:14 (The Message)

Prayer: Come Holy Spirit, Come! 

Living in Grace

D3LM3

Thursday 16 May 2024

4000 posts - What a remarkable journey, taking it one day at a time!

 


Today, marks a huge milestone for me and the 'Living in Grace' ministry. When I started out writing my thoughts and reflections in 2007, I never dreamt that I would one day reach 4000 blog posts. I am truly humbled by God's grace and guidance over the past 17 years; as well as being deeply encouraged by your willingness to read, comment and share my 'ramblings.' So, I thank you from the depth of my heart for being a part of this ministry.

As I reflect on the writing journey, I feel that it has only been possible by taking it one day at a time. I know that it sounds like a cliche, but this has been my reality. In the ideal world, I would love to have a few days each week to sit and write, but my life doesn't give me that gift at present. However, by choosing to be intentional for 20 minutes day, I have witnessed how God can add the collective minutes (and blog posts) into something unique. 

I am grateful for God's grace in my life, and I hope that I have been able to convey some of this amazing grace to you and your community. This verse has meant a lot to me over the past 17 years and share it again with us all:

"From his fullness we have all received grace upon grace" - John 1:16 (ESV)

May God bless you abundantly, as you choose to follow Jesus, ONE DAY AT A TIME. Thank you once again for giving of your time to read these posts. 

"The life of faith is lived one day at a time, and it has to be lived - not always looked forward to as though the "real" living were around the next corner. It is today for which we are responsible. God still owns tomorrow." - Elisabeth Elliot

Living in Grace

D3LM3

Tuesday 14 May 2024

Open to God


We are edging closer and closer to the anniversary of Pentecost. Undoubtedly this moment in history changed the Church completely. In fact, we could argue that the disciples could have drifted back to their old lives, if it weren't for the outpouring of God's Gift of the Holy Spirit. Thankfully, this didn't happen, and we are able to share in the magnificence of the Spirit.

As we await Pentecost let us ask ourselves if we are open to the Spirit? Do we believe in the power of the Paracletos to change us, equip us and strengthen us?

"God waits to dwell in us and to fill us with yet more grace, more love, more wholeness and with his own fullness. But the God of the Bible never bulldozes his way into a person's life. He loves us enough to wait until, out of our own free will, we invite him to come to us." - Joyce Huggett

1 Corinthians 1:24 - "But God has opened the eyes of those called to salvation, both Jews and Gentiles, to see that Christ is the mighty power of God to save them."

Living in Grace

D3LM3

Monday 13 May 2024

Do you belong?


We are created to belong! I firmly believe this truth. 

We are created to be in community and to be known and loved by others. This is also why it is important for us to remember that we are invited to be part of God's community - to belong to God's family. When Paul wrote to the church in Rome, he reminded them of this beautiful gift:

"So, you have not received a spirit that makes you fearful slaves. Instead, you received God’s Spirit when he adopted you as his own children. Now we call him, “Abba, Father.” For his Spirit joins with our spirit to affirm that we are God’s children. " - Romans 8:15-16

The author and speaker, BrenĂ© Brown, puts it in a slightly different way, but it is equally compelling: 

“A deep sense of love and belonging is an irreducible need of all people. We are biologically, cognitively, physically, and spiritually wired to love, to be loved, and to belong. When those needs are not met, we don't function as we were meant to. We break. We fall apart. We numb. We ache. We hurt others. We get sick.”

Question: Do you feel that you belong? Why or why not?

Living in grace

D3LM3 


Thursday 9 May 2024

Ascension Day reflection


As the global Church marks Ascension Day today, it is worthwhile spending some time reflecting on the significance of this occasion for each of us. Here are a few of my thoughts (but not exhaustive) on this momentous moment. But, before I share my thoughts, let's remind ourselves of what the Bible says about Ascension.

Luke 24:50-53 - "Then Jesus led them to Bethany, and lifting his hands to heaven, he blessed them. 51 While he was blessing them, he left them and was taken up to heaven. 52 So they worshiped him and then returned to Jerusalem filled with great joy. 53 And they spent all of their time in the Temple, praising God."

1. Jesus blesses his followers before he goes!

2. The disciple's despair is changed to joy when they receive the blessing.

3. The disciples keep asking Jesus questions that show they haven't understood his mission. However, Jesus keeps steering them back to the point.

4. Jesus promises them the 'power' of God to help them fulfil their mission.

5. The Ascension is both and ending and a beginning. It is the end of Jesus' physical presence on earth, but it is the beginning of disciple's new mission. 

Thought: What does Ascension Day mean for you?

Living in Grace

D3LM3

Acts 1:6-11 - "So when the apostles were with Jesus, they kept asking him, “Lord, has the time come for you to free Israel and restore our kingdom?”

7 He replied, “The Father alone has the authority to set those dates and times, and they are not for you to know. 8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere—in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

9 After saying this, he was taken up into a cloud while they were watching, and they could no longer see him. 10 As they strained to see him rising into heaven, two white-robed men suddenly stood among them. 11 “Men of Galilee,” they said, “why are you standing here staring into heaven? Jesus has been taken from you into heaven, but someday he will return from heaven in the same way you saw him go!”

Tuesday 7 May 2024

The desire to change


“Most of us were taught that God would love us if and when we change. In fact, God loves you so that you can change. What empowers change, what makes you desirous of change is the experience of love. It is that inherent experience of love that becomes the engine of change.” - Richard Rohr

Reading this quote reminded me of the work of the Holy Spirit. God is love and so one of the functions of the Spirit is to remind us of this love; to fill us with God's love and then to allow this to become the catalyst for change. 

Perhaps we need to experience more of God's love, so that we would then feel the desire to change. There are a few examples of people in the Bible who encountered Jesus (Divine Love) and immediately desired to follow him. 

2 Corinthians 3:18 - And the Lord—who is the Spirit—makes us more and more like him as we are changed into his glorious image.

Living in Grace

D3LM3

Monday 6 May 2024

It is better for you


There are some people who promise much but deliver very little. And when we have been disappointed with broken promises before, it is very hard to try and trust in any future promises. I was thinking about this when Jesus turned to his disciples and said:

"But in fact, it is best for you that I go away, because if I don’t, the Advocate won’t come. If I do go away, then I will send him to you." - John 16:7

It is not that Jesus had broken any promises to his disciples, but they would have been wary of what he was implying. How could it be better for them, if Jesus was no longer going to be present with them? They couldn't imagine what he was meaning - it made no sense! They had never experienced anything like this before, so it is little wonder that they struggled to see the good news in Jesus' promise.

However, as time passed and events unfolded, the disciples came to understand that Jesus was correct. It was better for them that he returned to the Father and they were gifted with the Holy Spirit. 

Sometimes, we have to hang on in faith, until the reality of the PROMISE is fulfilled.

Thought: Are there any promises in the Scriptures that you struggle to understand or even believe? What makes them hard to consider?

If you are interested in listening to my recent sermon on this topic, please click onto this link. 

Living in Grace

D3LM3



Thursday 2 May 2024

Don't let yourself be disturbed!

 


Have you felt yourself becoming restless and disturbed lately? It could be down to a lot of different reasons, but we can easily become anxious and worried about many things. Life is complex and we are facing may tough situations all around us. 

When Jesus was preparing his disciples for his imminent departure, he encouraged them not to be afraid. He says to them in John 14:1 - "Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, and also trust in me."

In the Complete Jewish Bible, the verse reads like this: "Don’t let yourselves be disturbed. Trust in God and trust in me." I like the variation in this translation because it really speaks to me. 

I pray that whatever you may be facing at the moment, that you would Trust in Jesus, and allow God's Spirit to keep your heart from becoming too anxious and disturbed.

Living in Grace

D3LM3


Tuesday 30 April 2024

Reflections on Worker's Day


Most of us have a 'love-hate' relationship with our work and places of employment. Many people that I speak to, long to be doing something else and they find themselves trapped in a work situation because it 'pays the bills.' There are a small percentage of people who earn a living doing what they simply love, and you can usually tell who these people are.
As we celebrate National Workers Day on the 1st of May, I invite us to remember a few things and then to offer a simple prayer:

1. God also worked. "On the seventh day God had finished his work of creation, so he rested from all his work. And God blessed the seventh day and declared it holy, because it was the day when he rested from all his work of creation. This is the account of the creation of the heavens and the earth." - Genesis 2:2-4 

2. Work doesn't need to be a punishment. We can glorify God and serve God's purposes through our places of work.

3. There are millions of people who would love to work but can't find a job. Think about what this does to their self-esteem and dignity.

4. Give thanks for the ability to carry out your work. For healthy bodies and minds. 

5. Not all workers are treated well. Many are abused and paid poorly. Ask yourself: "How can I set a different example?" If you employ people, ask how you can treat them with greater dignity and respect. 

Prayer: Lord, we thank you for the gift of being able to work. Sometimes we struggle to see the blessing in what we do, but we ask you to give us insight into each situation. Help us to serve you and others in our places of employment and also in our homes. We pray for those who are desperately seeking work - may they would not lose heart. May we also learn to see each of our colleagues as you would see them and to love them appropriately. In Jesus name. Amen. 

Living in Grace
D3LM3

Monday 29 April 2024

How do we get rid of fear?


How do we get rid of fear? 
This is an interesting question, and I am sure it has many different answers, but what thoughts come to your mind?

After reading the following verses from 1 John 4, I thought of a possible answer:

"And as we live in God, our love grows more perfect. So, we will not be afraid on the day of judgment, but we can face him with confidence because we live like Jesus here in this world. Such love has no fear, because perfect love expels all fear. If we are afraid, it is for fear of punishment, and this shows that we have not fully experienced his perfect love." - 1 John 4:17-18

In my mind, I imagined how fear can take hold in our hearts/minds and we struggle to find ways to get rid of it. Perhaps we could think of all kinds of solutions to try and chase fear out of our lives, but John proposes something else. If we allow the love of God to fill our lives, then this 'perfect love' will expel the fear that has taken up residence in our hearts. 

As we come to embrace the all-surpassing love of Jesus, fear begins to be replaced by a quiet contentment and trust in the redeeming love of Christ.

Thought: The way to expel fear from our hearts is to invite more of God's presence to fill our lives. What do you think? 

Living in Grace
D3LM3

Thursday 25 April 2024

Some good advice


Reading through Ecclesiastes 12 today, I was struck by the sound advice that the 'Teacher' gives to his students:

"Honor and enjoy your Creator while you’re still young, 
Before the years take their toll and your vigor wanes, 
Before your vision dims and the world blurs
And the winter years keep you close to the fire."
- verse 1-2 (The Message)

I find it interesting that he joins together the idea of 'honouring God' and 'enjoying the Creator.' How often do we really think about enjoying being with the Lord? If you asked most people, they would feel strange about this, but it is such a wonderful concept. What do you feel? 

And then finally the teacher says (v.13-14)

"The last and final word is this:
Fear God.
Do what he tells you.

And that’s it. Eventually God will bring everything that we do out into the open and judge it according to its hidden intent, whether it’s good or evil."

May God continue to guide you as you follow in the footsteps of Jesus. 

Living in Grace

D3LM3

Wednesday 24 April 2024

Working together


With all the extra responsibilities I have taken on this year, I can testify to the strength found in a team. There is no way I would be able to put my hand to all the tasks that come across my path, without the support of others. I have seen the Body of Christ working together in many beautiful and powerful ways. One can gather deeper insight into Paul's message when he speaks of every member pulling together to serve Christ.

1 Corinthians 12:26-27 - "If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it. Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it."

The same story is found to be true in other arenas of life - sport is a good example of this: 

"The way a team plays as a whole determines its success. You may have the greatest bunch of individual stars in the world, but if they don't play together, the club won't be worth a dime." - Babe Ruth 

Thought: Who is part of your team?

Living in Grace

D3LM3


Tuesday 23 April 2024

Just like a star


Just like most people, I am not a fan of adversity. I don't deliberately seek out conflict or trials, and when I encounter tough times, I am probably the first to ask: "Why, Lord?!" However, the older I get, the more I can see God's hand at work, despite what may look like a mess. 

Perhaps it is true that Hope is indeed like a star:

“Hope itself is like a star – not to be seen in the sunshine of prosperity, and only to be discovered in the night of adversity.” - Charles Haddon Spurgeon

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

What do you think?

Living in Grace

D3LM3

Monday 22 April 2024

A story of the beautiful old, cracked pot


I came across this beautiful story of an old, cracked water pot. I used it in my message on Sunday and it is such a wonderful reminder of how God chooses to use us despite our flaws and imperfections. May God bless you and remind us of his deep grace for us all.

A water bearer in India had two large pots, each hung on each end of a pole which he carried across his neck. One of the pots had a crack in it, and while the other pot was perfect and always delivered a full portion of water at the end of the long walk from the stream to the master’s house, the cracked pot arrived only half full.

For a full two years, this went on daily, with the bearer delivering only one and a half pots full of water in his master’s house. Of course, the perfect pot was proud of its accomplishments, perfect to the end for which it was made. But the poor cracked pot was ashamed of its own imperfection and miserable that it was able to accomplish only half of what it had been made to do.

 After two years of what it perceived to be a bitter failure, it spoke to the water bearer one day by the stream. “I am ashamed of myself, and I want to apologize to you”.  The bearer asked, “Why? What are you ashamed of?”  The Pot replied, “For these past two years I am able to deliver only half of my load because this crack in my side causes water to leak out all the way back to your master’s house. Because of my flaws, you don’t get full value for your efforts”.

The water bearer felt sorry for the old, cracked pot, and in his compassion, he said, “As we return to the master’s house, I want you to notice the beautiful flowers along the path.”  As they went up the hill, the old, cracked pot took notice of the sun warming the beautiful wildflowers on the side of the path, and this cheered it somewhat.  But at the end of the trail, it still felt bad because it had leaked out half its load, and so again it apologized to the bearer for its failure.

The bearer said to the pot, “Did you notice that there were flowers only on your side of your path, but not on the other pot’s side? That’s because I have always known about your flaw, and I took advantage of it. I planted flower seeds on your side of the path, and every day while we walk back from the stream, you’ve watered them. For two years I have been able to pick these beautiful flowers to decorate my master’s table. Without you being just the way you are, he would not have this beauty to grace his house.” (Source, Unknown)

2 Corinthians 4:7 But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.

Living in Grace

D3LM3

Thursday 18 April 2024

A prayer for the night


There are many wonderful and insightful prayers that come to us from the Celtic tradition. Here is one entitled: A Celtic Night Prayer (written by Beth Maxwell Boyle) 

"Creator God who upholds me,
Send your peace to sooth me,
When this world and its troubles,
Press hard down upon me.

Like a fair breeze from the south,
Your words they comfort me.
They make me long each day,
For everlasting justice and peace.

You alone have the wisdom of the ages,
You alone understand my heart.
Please Holy One give me rest and repose,
Give me the peace that only you can grant.

Give me repose this night and every night.
In the name of the Lamb,
The redeemer and the comforter,
Christ our King. 
Amen."

Psalm 42:8 - By day the Lord directs his love, at night his song is with me— a prayer to the God of my life. 

Living in Grace

D3LM3
 Prayer

r God who upholds me,
nd your peace to sooth me,
When this world and its troubles,
Press hard down upon me.

Like a fair breeze from the south,
Your words they comfort me.
They make me long each day,
For everlasting justice and peace.

You alone have the wisdom of the ages,
You alone understand my heart.
Please Holy One give me rest and repose,
Give me the peace that only you can grant.

Give me repose this night and every night.
In the name of the Lamb,
The redeemer and the comforter,
Christ our King.

Amen

By Beth Maxwell Boyle

Wednesday 17 April 2024

The Gospel is...


Trying to define the 'Gospel' can either be overly complicated or seem too simplified. I really enjoy Tim Keller's definition of the Gospel. I pray that you would also find it helpful.

"The gospel is this: We are more sinful and flawed in ourselves than we ever dared believe, yet at the very same time we are more loved and accepted in Jesus Christ than we ever dared hope."

Luke 2:10 - “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people."

Luke 4: 18-19 - “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners,
and recovery of sight for the blind,
to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”

What does the Good News (Gospel) mean to you today?

Living in Grace

D3LM3

Tuesday 16 April 2024

Rocks into water


When we read the words of Scripture, we see that people in Biblical times believed that miracles were very possible. Sadly, our modern age has brought with it a great degree of skepticism, and unless we can explain something, we are reluctant to believe it possible.

In Psalm 114, the Psalmist writes:

"Tremble, earth, at the presence of the Lord,
    at the presence of the God of Jacob,
who turned the rock into a pool,
    the hard rock into springs of water."

In this post-Easter season, the idea of God turning rock into water shouldn't be so hard to comprehend. He did a similar miracle through the hand of Moses (water from the rock) and then later through the example of Jesus, God raised him from the dead. 

Thought: What do the words of Psalm 114:7-8 mean for you today? Why are we so skeptical of things we cannot understand? 

Living in Grace

D3LM3


Monday 15 April 2024

The Rendevouz

 

The word 'rendevouz' means: "a meeting at an agreed time and place."

Although this word may have different connotations, it is an important word for us to reflect on in light of our relationship with God. Perhaps part of the modern dilemma is that we have agreed 'meeting times' with a whole range of people, but we struggle to stick to these times with God. Our one-on-one moments with God are so vital for our faith, but we still don't always make them a priority.

James Finley writes: "At the end of each rendevouz with the deeper place, we ask for the grace not to break the thread of that sensitivity as we go through the rest of our day."

James 4:8 - Come near to God and he will come near to you.

How are your meetings with Jesus going? 

Living in Grace

D3LM3

Thursday 11 April 2024

Learning Perseverance


Do you ever get the impression that God is wanting to teach you something?

Or that you are experiencing much of the same kind of thing, and you wonder what lesson you need to take from these moments? 

Well, I have been having one of those weeks and sense that the lesson I need to learn is perseverance. I admit that I am not enjoying learning the lesson so much, but I do trust that I will soon understand why it is a value lesson to learn (or re-learn).

Can you relate in anyway? What are having to learn at the moment?

"May the Lord direct your hearts into God’s love and Christ’s perseverance." - 2 Thessalonians 3:5

You may encounter many defeats, but you must not be defeated. In fact, it may be necessary to encounter the defeats, so you can know who you are, what you can rise from, how you can still come out of it." - Maya Angelou

"For great things do not just happen by impulse, but are a succession of small things linked together." - Vincent Van Gogh

Living in grace

D3LM3

Tuesday 9 April 2024

Choosing a way to pay a debt


“When I treat other people with kindness and love, it is part of my way of paying my debt to God and the world for the privilege of living on this planet.” - Ben Carson

I find it interesting that Ben Carson uses the word 'debt' in this quote, and especially in light of paying a debt to God. Having just come out of our Easter journey, we have been reminded that Christ paid a debt that we could never pay ourselves. 

So, what then could Ben be speaking about?

I think that he expresses a sentiment that should be practiced more widely in our world today - Living a life of love and kindness, in response to what God has already done for us. Yes, we can never fully repay what Jesus did for us, but we can surely live as if we are grateful for his love and act as if Christ's gift has transformed us in some way.

What do you think?

2 Corinthians 3:18 - And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.

Living in Grace

D3LM3