Saturday, 21 October 2017

We are ...

Ever wondered why some people are just better at certain things than we are? It may even seem unfair at times, but if you look at the quote from Aristotle you will see that he reckons it has to do with habitual discipline. Obviously, if someone is a good sportsman or an actress, they have a large amount of god-given talent, but most of these people spend hours, months and years honing their skills.

"We are what we repeatedly do, excellence then is not an act, but a habit." - Aristotle

If we take the premise of this thought, it could imply that we can become better Biblical scholars, prayer warriors, youth leaders, worship leaders, musicians, and disciples of Christ, if we habitually spent more time on these areas. I am not sure how you feel about this, but on some levels it makes complete sense to me.

As an example, the only way I will ever understand more about the Bible is if I am committed to reading it, studying it and learning from others. This takes a deliberate discipline and an act that I am willing to following through with.

What is God asking me to spend more time refining, so that I can be 'excellent' for his Kingdom?

Living in Grace

Friday, 20 October 2017

Red means GO!

I don't want to exaggerate, but I think I witnessed around 8 people 'jumping' red traffic lights today. And this was at 8 different times in the day and at different intersections. Each time I just shook my head and wondered when this will ever stop. Look, I have been through a few yellow/red robots in my life and so I am wary of being judgemental, but these people were going through RED, RED traffic lights - after everyone else had stopped already. Sadly, I think it won't stop, but it just reminds me of how easy we get used to sin.

We start by speeding up when we see the lights change yellow.
We then start jumping the yellow all the time.
Yellow becomes just like green for us.
Then after a while, we speed up when we see the yellow change to red.
Then we start jumping reds more often.
Then we try and nip into the left/right lane while our light is red, before the cars reach us.
Then ....

Sadly, we may only change our behaviour when we get smacked by another car or we kill someone else. But by then, sin has taken its hold on us and we are comfortable living in our sin.

Romans 6:12 -  "Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires."

Makes me think!

Living in Grace

Thursday, 19 October 2017

Prayer of humility

"When we are wrong,
make us willing to change.
And when we are right,
makes us easy to live with." - Peter Marshall (1902-1949)

How easily are we willing to admit we are wrong?
And when we are right, do we take great delight in rubbing someones nose in it?

True humility is a rare trait to find, but it is worth pursuing in our own lives.

James 3:13 - "If you are wise and understand God’s ways, prove it by living an honourable life, doing good works with the humility that comes from wisdom."

Living in Grace

Tuesday, 17 October 2017

Beyond reach?

Is there anything that lies beyond the reach of prayer?
Well, my gut response is NO - what do you think?

"Nothing lies beyond the reach of prayer except that which lies outside the will of God." - Anonymous

OK, so perhaps there are a few things that lie beyond the reach of our prayers. More specifically the things that God won't answer are the very things that are not part of God's plan for us.

"This is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us." - 1 John 5:14

Living in Grace

Monday, 16 October 2017

No Matter What

"My purpose in writing is to encourage you and assure you that the grace of God is with you no matter what happens." - 1 Peter 5:12 (NLT)

As Peter was writing to the church struggling with persecution, trials and tribulations, he wanted the believers to know that God still cared for them. In fact, he wanted to encourage them with the glorious Hope that 'NO MATTER WHAT HAPPENS' God would still be with them. I think this is such a valuable conviction for us to embrace today, especially when we can easily lose sight of the grace of God.

If you are struggling with something today, then hold onto this promise. If you are doing ok, but feel someone else needs to be encouraged them forward this verse to them.

Living in Grace

Sunday, 15 October 2017

Every Problem

“Every problem is an opportunity to prove God's power. Every day we encounter countless golden opportunities, brilliantly disguised as insurmountable problems.” - C. Swindol

Lord, may you help us to see every problem as an opportunity to see your hand at work in our lives.  

Romans 5:3We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance.

So what mountain is God going to help you climb today?

Living in Grace

Friday, 13 October 2017

A new way

"Therefore, since God in his mercy has given us this NEW WAY, we never give up." - 2 Corinthians 4:1

Following God means that we often have to go against the flow. The decisions and agenda of the rest of the world may be very different from the way that Jesus has called us to live. This NEW WAY is tough and it may take an incredible amount of effort and sacrifice, but it is because we have been called to follow a different leader.

As we commit to this NEW WAY may we be blessed with courage and perseverance.

Living in Grace

Thursday, 12 October 2017

I have never moved a mountain

"Lord, I've never moved a mountain and I guess I never will. All the faith that I could muster wouldn't move a small ant hill. Yet I'll tell you, Lord, I'm grateful for the joy of knowing Thee, and for all the mountain moving down through life You've done for me. 

When I needed some help you lifted me from the depths of great despair. And when burdens, pain and sorrow have been more than I can bear, you have always been my courage to restore life's troubled sea, and to move these little mountains that have looked so big to me. 

Many times when I've had problems and when bills I've had to pay, and the worries and the heartaches just kept mounting every day, Lord, I don't know how you did it. Can't explain the wheres or whys. All I know, I've seen these mountains turn to blessings in disguise. 

No, I've never moved a mountain, for my faith is far too small. Yet, I thank you, Lord of Heaven, you have always heard my call. And as long as there are mountains in my life, I'll have no fear, for the mountain-moving Jesus is my strength and always near." - Author Unknown

I love this piece of writing. It reminds me that I may never move mountains on my own, but that Jesus can do immeasurably more than I can imagine or even hope for.

 Matthew 17:20 - “You don’t have enough faith,” Jesus told them. “I tell you the truth, if you had faith even as small as a mustard seed, you could say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it would move. Nothing would be impossible.”

Living in Grace

Wednesday, 11 October 2017

No Shame

Being a Christian is not easy at times. There are many people that think we are crazy to believe in God and especially to believe in the person of Jesus. It is even hard to try and fully explain why we believe and what we believe, because people seem to have their arguments all neatly packaged.

Despite all of this, it is still a great privilege for me to be called a "Christ-ian" - or "little Christ." I really enjoyed this verse from 1 Peter 4 over the weekend - it reminded me not to feel ashamed of what I believe it.

"But it is no shame to suffer for being a Christian. Praise God for the privilege of being called by his name." - 1 Peter 4:16 (NLT)

Romans 1:16 - For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile.

There is NO shame in following Jesus.

Living in Grace

Tuesday, 10 October 2017

Cares, stoops, rescues

"Grace is love that cares and stoops and rescues." - John Stott

The remarkable thing about receiving God's grace is that it should remind us that ...
God cares
God stoops
God rescues.

When Jesus came to earth it was a reminder that God cares enough about us to 'stoop' to our level so that we can be rescued.

"God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work." - 2 Corinthians 9:8 

In response to God's grace, how can we CARE, STOOP and RESCUE?

Living in Grace

Monday, 9 October 2017

Why suffering?

This age old question seems to haunt us: Why does God allow suffering?
While I don't have a nice neat, quick answer for this blog, I have found some thoughts from David Watson helpful. Before you read his quote, put into context that David was a well known Minister in his church, a great Evangelist and author. Despite his commitment to Jesus Christ, he still got cancer and subsequently passed away. Many Christians battled with the fact that David got cancer, even though he was such a servant of God. Here is what David said:

"It is sometimes only through suffering that we begin to listen to God. Our natural pride and self-confidence have to be stripped painfully away and we become aware, perhaps for the first time, of our own personal needs." - David Watson

I am not sure what you think of David's thoughts on this, but his words were borne from his own trials and sufferings, so I suppose they are his take on the issue. In the end, we have to put our lives into the hands of Jesus and to trust in his goodness. It seems like a simple answer, but perhaps that is all we can do. 

Romans 5:3-5 - Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.

Living in Grace

Friday, 6 October 2017

Absence of danger?

What do you make of these words?

"The Christian finds safety not in the absence of danger, but in the presence of God." - Anon

Thomas a Kempis wrote something similar in the Imitation of Christ. He said,
"When Jesus is present, all is good and nothing seems difficult;
but when Jesus is absent, all is hard."

I find these words quite reassuring today, because it is our natural inclination to run away from trials and hardships, or at least to play it safe. However, LIFE always presents us with struggles and it is then that we need to remember that God is present with us.

"Behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age." - Matthew 28:20

Living in Grace

Wednesday, 4 October 2017

Stop digging

"The most important thing to do if you find yourself in a hole is to stop digging." - Warren Buffett

Sometimes we get ourselves into all sorts of difficulty. It can be of our own making or else at the hands of someone else. Usually we begin by trying to dig our way out of the situation, but this can end up having the opposite results - It may get us into even more trouble.

As Warren Buffett suggests, we could stop digging ourselves deeper into trouble and ask for help. Perhaps there is someone who is able to lift us out of the pit. I know that God is always willing to assist us in getting back onto our feet.

"God redeems your life from the pit, he surrounds you with grace and compassion..." - Psalm 103:4

Have you stopped digging long enough to ask God for help?

Living in Grace

Tuesday, 3 October 2017

Where is the Evidence?

"Let us beware of repentance without evidence." - JC Ryle

I am always wary of advocating anything like 'works' in our Christian lifestyle, because we are certainly NOT saved by what we can do - it is all thanks to the Grace of God. However, when you read the above quote, it does speak a lot of truth into how we should be 'revealing' our Christian lives. If I claim to have turned from my old life (Repentance), yet I am showing no evidence of a NEW life, then surely there is something wrong?

Jesus said the same thing in Matthew 7:20

"Yes, just as you can identify a tree by its fruit, so you can identify people by their actions."

Is there Evidence of our NEW life in Christ? If not, then perhaps we haven't quite turned from our old lives as yet?

Living in Grace

Monday, 2 October 2017

Love covers a multitude of sins

The Soncino commentary remarks, “Hatred makes mountains out of mole hills, but love covers, or puts out of sight, and enables one to overlook insults and wrongs.”

In reality, Love is willing to overlook insults and hurt in order to restore a relationship or friendship. The chance to make a 'mountain' out of the injury is always present, but Love chooses to take a different route.

Peter wrote these words in 1 Peter 4:8 - "Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins."

As you read these words today, is there someone who has hurt you? Are you willing to allow God's love to fill you and to help you 'cover' the pain that has been inflicted upon you?

Living in Grace

Saturday, 30 September 2017

Oh to be encouraged!

“Flatter me, and I may not believe you.
Criticize me, and I may not like you.
Ignore me, and I may not forgive you.
Encourage me, and I will not forget you. “ - William Arthur Ward.

There is something incredible about Encouragement! I am talking about sincere, well meaning words of Encouragement. They can go a long way to changing your attitude and even your situation. Next time you are given an opportunity to "lift the spirits" of a friend, I invite you to encourage them.

Romans 15:32 - "Then, by the will of God, I will be able to come to you with a joyful heart, and we will be an encouragement to each other."

Ephesians 4:29 - "Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them."

Living in Grace

Friday, 29 September 2017

I can't keep this

One of the old martyrs said to his persecutors as they were leading him to his death,
"You take a life from me that I cannot keep,
and bestow a life upon me that I cannot lose." - Dwight L. Moody

To have the assurance and faith to speak these words, as your last words, is truly remarkable. It speaks of a depth of Trust in Jesus that I long to have. It reminds us all that the one thing we are all obsessed about preserving (Life) is the one thing we cannot hold onto.  Makes you think, doesn't!?

Matthew 16:25 - For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it.

Living in Grace

Thursday, 28 September 2017

Turtle or Hen

"A turtle lays thousands of eggs without anyone knowing, but when the hen lays an egg, the whole country is informed." - Malayan proverb.

We all know people who like to brag about their accomplishments - no matter how small or big they are, these people love to cluck like a hens and shout so the world can hear. We may be impressed by what they have achieved, but we will still think they are loud and arrogant.

On the other hand, the person who achieves much, without bragging or boasting, impresses us much more. Their humility seems to add to their achievements and we want to honour those people more.

In a Spiritual sense, we can also have 'hens' and 'turtles' in the church. Some people like to tell the world what they have done, but the 'turtles' who get on and quietly do the work of laying the 1000 eggs, end up being noticed in the end.

Worth thinking about, don't you think?

Proverbs 25:14 Like clouds and wind without rain is one who boasts of gifts never given

Living in Grace