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

Monday 8 April 2024

A clean, smooth canvas


Jean Pierre De Caussade reflects on the difficult act of allowing God to shape and guide our lives:

"Our task is to offer ourselves up to God like a clean, smooth canvas and not bother ourselves about what God may choose to paint on it, but at every moment, feel only the stroke of his brush."

I am not sure how easily we allow God to do this, but I know that I often resist what God is trying to do in my life? What about you?

In this post-Resurrection season, how can we make ourselves more available for the work of God's Spirit in our lives?

Ephesians 2:10 - "For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do."

Living in Grace

D3LM3


Friday 5 April 2024

A connection between pain and healing


"In this crazy world, there is an enormous distinction between good times and bad, between sorrow and joy. But in the eyes of God, they're never separated. Where there is pain, there is healing. Where there is mourning, there is dancing. Where there is poverty, there is the kingdom." - Henri Nouwen

These words of Henri Nouwen draw our attention to this following verse from 1 Peter, which shows us that the healing work of Jesus is done through his brokenness. His wounds offer us the gift of healing. It does seem hard to get our heads around this, but in time, we slowly comprehend this mystery.

1 Peter 2:24 - “He himself bore our sins” in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; “by his wounds you have been healed.”

Jesus' death gives us life.

His pain offers us healing.

His loneliness invites us into the fellowship of the Father. 

Living in Grace

D3LM3

Thursday 4 April 2024

The Elixir



George Herbert wrote a remarkable poem in the early 1600's called the Elixir. The English is very old, but I still offer it to you as something to enjoy. His heart speaks of doing all things for the glory of God.

Teach me, my God and King,
In all things Thee to see,
And what I do in anything
To do it as for Thee.

Not rudely, as a beast,
To run into an action;
But still to make Thee prepossest,
And give it his perfection.

A man that looks on glass,
On it may stay his eye;
Or if he pleaseth, through it pass,
And then the heav'n espy.

All may of Thee partake:
Nothing can be so mean,
Which with his tincture—"for Thy sake"—
Will not grow bright and clean.

A servant with this clause
Makes drudgery divine:
Who sweeps a room as for Thy laws,
Makes that and th' action fine.

This is the famous stone
That turneth all to gold;
For that which God doth touch and own
Cannot for less be told.


Living in Grace
D3LM3


Wednesday 3 April 2024

Courage doesn't always Roar!


"Courage doesn't always roar. Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying, I will try again tomorrow." - Mary Ann Radmacher

As I came across this quote this morning, I was reminded of how the disciples must have been feeling in the days after the Resurrection. They were feeling afraid and uncertain, yet Jesus was making them feel more and more at peace with the new 'normal.'  He was not going to leave them alone or unequipped for the task that lay ahead. 

"On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jewish leaders, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” 20 After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord.
21 Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.”
- John 20:19-21

Thought: As we go into the post Easter season, let us remember that our strength and courage comes from the Spirit of Jesus. 

Living in Grace

D3LM3

Tuesday 2 April 2024

The unveiling and the invitation


We soon discover that there are not enough days to pause and reflect on the power of Jesus' resurrection. Our 40 days of Lenten preparation are over in a flash, and suddenly the world seeks to rush back to its old way of life. 

But surely, we can't just wake up and pronounce: 'Life as usual!' There has to be some change in us or at least a sincere desire to know more of this new life in Christ. Life shouldn't just carry on as usual, because there was nothing 'normal' about the resurrection. 

“The resurrection completes the inauguration of God's kingdom.... It is the decisive event demonstrating that God's kingdom really has been launched on earth as it is in heaven.... "The message of Easter is that God's new world has been unveiled in Jesus Christ and that you're now invited to belong to it.”N. T. Wright

Let us remember that Jesus has unveiled the new kingdom and we have been invited to belong to it. How do you respond to that invitation?

1 Peter 1:3 - Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.

Living in Grace

D3LM3

Monday 1 April 2024

Only for fools


The timing of April Fool's Day this year, (just one day after the Resurrection), makes an interesting conversation starter. Can you imagine how difficult it was for the original disciples to:

a. Believe that Jesus had been raised from the dead?
b. Tell others about it!

They would have seemed like crazy fools. 

And yet, here we are - 2000 years later, still talking about the miracle of the Resurrection. If it had been a silly joke, it wouldn't have gained any traction, and the idea of the Resurrection would have soon faded from memory. However, the reality of this miracle continued to gather momentum amongst the disciples and as soon as Jesus appeared to them, they no longer felt so foolish.

Thought: There are people that still think we are foolish to believe in Jesus and the Resurrection. I am content to be considered a fool.

Psalm 2:1 - "What fools the nations are to rage against the Lord! How strange that men should try to outwit God!"

Living in Grace

D3LM3