Tuesday 23 July 2024

Being intentional about this important aspect of our lives


How many times have you recently thought to yourself: "I am tired. I need to get some rest. I feel drained." If you have experienced these feelings and emotions, then I ask another question: "have you managed to find a gap to restore your soul?"

When Jesus was constantly in the public arena and ministering to the crowds, he felt the same as we often feel. He was tired and needed time to recoup and regain his inner strength. Even in the midst of the demands, he made time to withdraw, even if it was for a short time.

45 Immediately after this, Jesus insisted that his disciples get back into the boat and head across the lake to Bethsaida, while he sent the people home. 46 After telling everyone good-bye, he went up into the hills by himself to pray. (Mark 6)

The people that Jesus sent home were the 5000 that he had just fed - that is a lot of people to send packing. However, Jesus did this graciously and knew that without taking care of his own soul, he would have nothing to give the people in the future. This is such a hard practise for us to get right, but something that it well worth us being intentional about.

Vane Havner once said: If you don’t come apart and rest, you will come apart.”

If you would like to read another similar post on this topic, please re-read the post from last week. For some reason, this post was 'taken down' by Facebook and so many haven't been able to read it. I think it was due to the name of the energy drink I mentioned in the title :)

Living in grace
D3LM3

Monday 22 July 2024

Even in your darkest hour, Christ wants to draw near to you.

 


"Late that night, the disciples were in their boat in the middle of the lake, and Jesus was alone on land. He saw that they were in serious trouble, rowing hard and struggling against the wind and waves. About three o’clock in the morningJesus came toward them, walking on the water." - Mark 6: 47-48

At three o'clock in the morning it is arguably one of the darkest periods of the night. It certainly can be one of the loneliest too. For the disciples trying to row back home on the Sea of Galilee, they were really up against the elements that particular evening. They were physically and emotionally spent. 

However, what I love about Mark's account of this incident, is that Jesus 'sees' them and then makes a movement towards them. Too often we get caught up in trying to figure out how Jesus actually walked on water - we struggle to get our minds around the physics of the moment, forgetting the gift of his calming presence. 

Jesus wants to come to us, even in our darkest hour. Do you feel that you are struggling with many things at the moment, and you are getting into serious difficulties? If yes, then why don't you call out to God and open your heart to His life-giving presence.

Living in Grace

D3LM3

Thursday 18 July 2024

No greater gift

 
Mandela Day is celebrated on the 18th of July (his birthday) and many people try to do something charitable to honour his life. When we look at some of Mandela's words, we can understand why this is important. 

"You can never have an impact on society if you have not changed yourself."

"It is in your hands to create a better world for all who live in it."

"There can be no greater gift than that of giving one’s time and energy to help others without expecting anything in return."

One of my favourite quotes is this one: "Do not judge me by my success, judge me by how many times I fell down and got back up again."

Thoughts: As Christians we know that serving others is what Jesus asked us to do, so being part of Mandela Day activities is another chance for us to serve Christ, as we serve others.

Mark 10:45 - "For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

Living in Grace

D3LM3

Pushed to my knees!


When Paul proclaimed that he was okay about his weaknesses, because they allowed God's strength to be revealed (2 Corinthians 12), I wondered how I could get to that same place. To be content in all situations is a hard journey to take.

However, as I re-read these words, from Eugene Peterson's paraphrase (The Message), I began to understand more of what this would require from me. And in truth, it is the simple knowledge, that when I am pushed down by my weaknesses and struggles, then I am moved into the best pose for honest prayer!

7-10 Because of the extravagance of those revelations, and so I wouldn’t get a big head, I was given the gift of a handicap to keep me in constant touch with my limitations. Satan’s angel did his best to get me down; what he in fact did was push me to my knees. No danger then of walking around high and mighty! At first, I didn’t think of it as a gift, and begged God to remove it. Three times I did that, and then he told me,

My grace is enough; it’s all you need.
My strength comes into its own in your weakness."
- 2 Corinthians 12:1-12

Action: If you would like to listen to my 20-minute podcast reflection on this passage, you are welcome to follow this link. 

Living in Grace

D3LM3

P.S. Please let me know if the link works for the podcast. Thanks so much 


Wednesday 17 July 2024

Red Bull - it can give you wings!


The energy drink, Red Bull, boasts that it can 'give you wings' and make you fly through life. Although it is a modern drink, one wonders if John Wesley had something like Red Bull in his day. The reason I say this is because according to biographers, John Wesley rode 60-70 miles per day (on horseback remember), preached 3 sermons a day (on average). It is estimated that he preached close on 42000 sermons in his lifetime. 

In his 83rd year, Wesley wrote in his diary: "I am a wonder to myself. I am never tired, either with preaching, writing or travelling." 

Do you see what I mean? He must have been sipping some Red Bull on his horse :)

But seriously, the only thing he would put forward as a logical reason for his energy and stamina, would be the 'Grace of God' and the power of the Holy Spirit. You can't keep going like that, without the power of God's supernatural favour and grace.

1 Peter 4:11 If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen.

Thought: Are you relying on your own strength at the moment, or are you trusting in the power of God's spirit? May God grant you his strength and grace today.

Living in Grace

D3LM3

Tuesday 16 July 2024

Pilgrims on the journey


Followers of Jesus are often called 'Pilgrims.' There is a wonderful sense of coming together for one purpose, and that is to journey to the heart of God. In the Old Testament, it was about making the pilgrimage to Jerusalem, and as you did this, you meet with others, sang songs of praise and began to experience profound joy.

"I rejoiced with those who said to me, “Let us go to the house of the Lord.”
Our feet are standing 
in your gates, Jerusalem." - Psalm 122:1

Isaiah 30:29 - You will be filled with joy, as when a flutist leads a group of pilgrims to Jerusalem, the mountain of the Lord— to the Rock of Israel.

"Pilgrims are persons in motion -
passing through territories not their own -
seeking something we might call completion,
or perhaps the word clarity would do as well,
a goal to which only the spirit's compass
points the way."
- Richard R. Niebuhr

Thought: May you know the peace and joy of Christ as you continue to journey towards the heart of God.

Living in Grace

D3LM3


Monday 15 July 2024

Hope that is strong and trustworthy


There is not a lot in our world that one can call, 'strong and trustworthy.' In fact, displays of power and strength are usually more abusive than trustworthy. However, when I read through the book of Hebrews, I was captivated by verse 19 in chapter 6. 

Hebrews 6:18-19 - So God has given both his promise and his oath. These two things are unchangeable because it is impossible for God to lie. Therefore, we who have fled to him for refuge can have great confidence as we hold to the hope that lies before us. 19 This hope is a strong and trustworthy anchor for our souls. It leads us through the curtain into God’s inner sanctuary.

Holding onto a Hope that is strong and Trustworthy seems like something that is worth holding onto. 

"Trust is the glue of life. It's the most essential ingredient in effective communication. It's the foundational principle that holds all relationships." - Stephen Covey

Living in grace

D3LM3

Sunday 14 July 2024

Refuge - a place of safety


"Then I pray to you, O LordI say, “You are my place of refuge. You are all I really want in life." - Psalm 142:5

The word Refuge is mentioned over 23 times in the book of Psalms alone, as well as in many other places in the Bible. It is a wonderful reminder for all of us, that when we face difficult times, we know that God will be our place of rest and safety. 

Deuteronomy 33:27 - The eternal God is your refuge, and his everlasting arms are under you.

2 Samuel 22:3 - my God is my rock, in whom I find protection. He is my shield, the power that saves me, and my place of safety. He is my refuge, my Saviour, the one who saves me from violence.

Nahum 1:7 - The Lord is good, a strong refuge when trouble comes. He is close to those who trust in him.

Thought: No matter what you are facing this week, remember that you can also take refuge in the presence of Jesus.

Living in Grace

D3LM3

Friday 12 July 2024

Saint Benedict - words of wisdom and a prayer


Saint Benedict was an Italian monk who had a profound influence on the Christian faith in the 5th Century, and his legacy lives on through the 'Rule of St. Benedict' and the monasteries founded in his name. 
Two of his famous quotes give us some insight into his soul. 

"He who labors as he prays lifts his heart to God with his hands."

"Prefer nothing, absolutely nothing, to the love of Christ."

In reflecting on his feast day, Malcolm Guite, wrote a beautiful poem/prayer to remember the life and work of this godly man. Here is part of his writing.

"You call us all to live, and see good days,
Centre in Christ and enter in his peace,
To seek his Way amidst our many ways,
Find blessedness in blessing, peace in praise,
To clear and keep for Love a sacred space
That we might be beginners in God's grace." - Malcolm Guite

Living in grace
D3LM3

Thursday 11 July 2024

Stand firm in this grace


There are so many things that threaten our peace of mind, spirit and lives. It can be extreme weather conditions, like we are experiencing at the moment; challenges at work or in your family; financial strain or even worries about the future.

So, when these waves break over you, how do you manage to stand firm? What do you do? Who do you hold onto? I have been reminded again and again that the best way for me to stay strong, is to rest in the Grace of God. 

2 Chronicles 20:20 - Believe in the Lord your God, and you will be able to stand firm.

Psalm 33:11 - But the Lord’s plans stand firm forever; his intentions can never be shaken.

1 Corinthians 16:13 - Be on guard. Stand firm in the faith. Be courageous. Be strong.
1 Peter 5:12 - My purpose in writing is to encourage you and assure you that what you are experiencing is truly part of God’s grace for you. Stand firm in this grace.
Prayer: Lord, help me to lean upon your amazing grace and so then, to stand firm in the peace that you give to us. Amen.
Living in Grace
D3LM3

Wednesday 10 July 2024

Are you looking for some direction?


"If, then, you are looking for the way by which you should go, take Christ, because He Himself is the way." - Thomas Aquinas

As we embark upon any activity today let us commit to take Christ with us. This may seem like a simple thing to do, but how many times do I rush out the door in the mornings, without offering my day to Jesus? 

And as we face challenging tasks in the day, wouldn't it make us feel more at peace, if we could say: "Lord, Jesus, you are MY way. Help me to keep my eyes on You."

Thought: If you are seeking direction in your life, why don't you start with making Christ your center, your way, your life? Once we have this in place, we can trust that God will lead us on into the unknown.

Psalm 5:8 - Lead me in the right path, O Lord, or my enemies will conquer me. Make your way plain for me to follow.

Living in Grace

D3LM3


Tuesday 9 July 2024

Guide me, O thou Great Jehovah


When William Williams wrote the words of Guide me, O thou Great Jehovah, I wonder if he realised what an influence it would have on many of our lives. As we read (or sing) these words, what comes to your mind?

Guide me, O thou great Jehovah, pilgrim through this barren land. I am weak, but thou art mighty; hold me with thy powerful hand. Bread of heaven, bread of heaven, feed me till I want no more; feed me till I want no more.

Open now the crystal fountain, whence the healing stream doth flow; let the fire and cloudy pillar lead me all my journey through. Strong deliverer, strong deliverer, be thou still my strength and shield; be thou still my strength and shield.

When I tread the verge of Jordan, bid my anxious fears subside; death of death and hell's destruction, land me safe on Canaan's side. Songs of praises, songs of praises, I will ever give to thee; I will ever give to thee.

They surely give us some insight into the trials that Williams may have faced in his native Wales (in the 1700's), as well as his trust in God's deliverance. Taking examples from the Old Testament, Williams reminds us that God is our provider, deliverer and redeemer. Williams is remembered as one of the most famous Welsh Methodist hymn writers.

Blessings to you.

Living in Grace
D3LM3

Tuesday 2 July 2024

Beware of the leaks


As the winter rains start in the Western Cape, so we also begin to notice the places in our buildings where leaks have started to show. This can be a devasting time for people, as many don't know how they will contain their fragile coverings and homes. 

It struck me again this week, as I was trying to deal with a leaking washing machine, that unless we deal with these leaks when we first notice them, they will only get bigger and more destructive. 

I guess, the same would apply in our spiritual lives too - unless we take note of the places where we feel we are weak or cracks are beginning to show, then we could be in for some very difficult times.

"Laziness lets the roof leak, and soon the rafters begin to rot." - Ecclesiastes 10:18

Thoughts: Do you have some cracks beginning to show in your faith? What can you do to mend the problem areas? 

Living in Grace
D3LM3