Overflowing With Thankfulness

Kathy Larkman, contributor for today’s blog post

As many of you Grace Place readers know, Ed and I have been in Frankfurt, Germany for the greater part of October. We were blessed by an Africa Inland Mission friend who has a flat there to allow us to use it for the month as she serves in Kenya for Tumaini Counselling Centre.

We are thankful to God for his provision and loving kindness in providing space and time to rest, refresh, and renew.

Here are a few of my highlights I want to share with you:

The joy of listening to Ed converse in German
The peace and beauty of the park where we walked regularly
Sausages, German ginger cookies, Stollen, chocolate cappuccino
Uninterrupted time to read good books!
Seeing and experiencing God’s creation and German history
Uninterrupted time and space to know that He is God in reflection and prayer
The joy and honour to pray Colossians 2:6-7 over my church family, family and friends.

There was so much more that I took in! I just can’t put it into words! I am sure that as Ed and I process this time in Frankfurt, we will see fruit in us and our church family.

col 2 67While away, I continued to read and ponder Colossians. Of course, this is the letter we are studying for Women’s Bible study. I was inspired by a friend who is memorizing Colossians. (thank you Hannah!) In my case, I thought it realistic to begin with memorizing Colossians 2:6-7 NLT. These are key verses in the whole of Colossians, which Sharon Durant drew our attention to last year as we began to prepare for this study.

Paul’s big point is that he wants the church to remain rooted in Jesus Christ, and not to drift away to something else. These verses make it clear that simply being IN CHRIST IS ALWAYS ENOUGH! Paul is working for the church’s maturity; not to be spiritually passive or lazy, but to an active walking in Christ.

We are called to be established and to GROW in the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ. May it be so, more and more!

I thank God for our time in Germany.  I thank God that He is I AM.  I thank God for my church family. I thank God that I can pray Scripture over us, knowing God will fulfil His purposes in and through us individually and as a church family!

Lots of love and so good to be back home and in my own bed!

Kathy

SAVE THE DATE! ROOTED: STUDY OF COLOSSIANS

colossiansTree[5971]I hope you have been blessed by our first study in Colossians!

SAVE THE DATE: Our next meeting is Monday, 28 October at 7:30pm in the CBC church hall.  

We are studying Colossians which is titled “Rooted.” Esther King has provided our second bible study on Col 1:9-23, which is on the Grace Place Blog, as well as hard copies at CBC and COTG. Remember to get with your study buddy! And If you don’t have a study buddy, please see Anne Holmes!
Have a great week!

RESCUED AND BROUGHT

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Hannah Spruijt, contributor for today’s post

I decided to do something crazy at the beginning of the summer holidays; I would memorise the whole of Colossians. I say crazy because I have a terrible memory at the best of times and in the past, I have had trouble getting just one verse to stick! However, I felt challenged listening to my lovely aunt tell me she was memorising Colossians every day during her dog-walking time, and I thought to myself a) what better way to spend my breastfeeding time and b) what better way to prepare for our year of studying Colossians in the women’s Bible study? A couple of months later, I can honestly say I’m loving it and really benefiting from it. I’m now over half way through chapter one and finding the Lord is speaking to me through the hiding of his Word in my heart (Psalm 119 v 11 tells us to do it!) and I’m finding hidden gems I would have otherwise overlooked.

One such example happened recently as I got to Colossians chapter 1 v 13. That morning I heard that a relative had very suddenly died, leaving his immediate family in shock, which has had a ripple effect through my family. Thankfully he was a believer; a lovely man who had served Jesus with his life through various ministries. But the shock for me was very real; he was fit, healthy and active but then suddenly called home. When I came to open my Bible that evening to memorise the next verse of Colossians, I read “For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves”. What a comfort right there!

As I repeated the verse in the half-darkness to commit it to memory while feeding Caleb, two words struck me; ‘rescued’ and ‘brought’. To be rescued involves deliverance; like being dragged out of the jaws of danger or pulled from the heat of a terrible battle. It is a strong word! We can be so thankful for what we have been rescued from! Our sin caused certain death and separation from our Father God. But that is not the end! He doesn’t just rescue us and leave us alone. No, the passage says “He has…brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves” (italics mine). I found the word ‘brought’ to be so gentle and kind in comparison to the forceful ‘rescue’ from darkness. In fact, the word is more powerful in the original translation. It actually means we have been ‘transplanted’ from the power of darkness into Christ’s kingdom. According to commentators of this passage, this word is properly applied to the transplanting of races, and the settlement of them in a new home. Therefore, our salvation, which is begun by dramatic rescue, is completed by our settlement as God’s adopted children in our new home; where Christ is King and we get to be with Him forever. What a hope we have! Death is not the end! This verse has brought me so much encouragement and I hope it uplifts you too.

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A LIFE WORTH LIVING

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LESLEY GRINDROD, CONTRIBUTOR FOR TODAY’S BLOG POST 

Hey sisters!
I’m writing this little blog on 16th September – a date I’ll always consider the very worst day of my life. Seven years ago today my dear son Jonathan’s life in this world came to a very sudden, completely unexpected end. He was 39, healthy, successful, full of fun, dreams and ambitions, with everything to live for. As my shattered brain tried to come to terms with the numbing shock, grief, and unbearable sense of loss I was convinced my life would never be worth living again.

So it seems more than coincidence that the verses drawing my eye this morning as I read through this month’s study passage were Colossians 1:11-12. In the Message translation it says “…We pray that you’ll have the strength to stick it out over the long haul – not the grim strength of gritting your teeth but the glory-strength that God gives. It is strength that endures the unendurable and spills over into joy…”

Wait …. What? Strength to not only endure the unendurable – but that spills over into JOY? Is Paul really saying that we can expect joy even in times of unthinkable sorrow, pain and difficulty? I follow my Bible reference to James 1:2 “…..when trouble comes your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy!” (NLT) And then I remember Paul’s exhortation in Phil 4:4 “Rejoice in the Lord AWAYS. I will say it again: Rejoice!”
It’s the demanding of my own will that smothers out joy. My selfish ‘old nature’ that cries “It’s not fair. Why did You let this happen, God?” Eddie covered this topic so beautifully on Sunday morning when he taught on the Lord’s Prayer …. “Your will be done…”

Dare I demand what I think I deserve – a life with no bereavement, no sorrow, no pain? What do I really deserve? It’s only as I bow the knee to His Lordship, only in accepting that even the air I breathe is a gift from Him; that I start to understand the greatest joy is the joy of acquiescing to His will. That my desire to protect my joy at all costs is the exact force that kills it!

“Your will be done…” This is the fight for true joy – releasing my will to receive His, and with it more inner, lasting joy than this human heart can hold.
Yes, I still feel the gut-wrenching pain of grief and loss as I remember my boy today. But while I may not feel joy, God asks me to give thanks in all things because He knows that the feeling of joy begins in the action of thanksgiving. Yes, there have been tears today – many tears – but over the years I’ve learnt that joy doesn’t negate these emotions – it transcends them! And as I surrender to Him, it’s His joy imparted to me that covers my hurt, soothes my pain and provides all the strength I need to stand tall for the long haul, endure the unendurable and live a life that is still truly worth living!

LIFE WORTH LIVING

WHAT SHOULD WE PRAY FOR?

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CHRISTINE COLTMAN, CONTRIBUTOR FOR TODAY’S BLOG POST

I’m sure it’s no coincidence that as I’ve been prepping for this term’s studies on Colossians over the summer it’s been the verses about prayer that have stood out, and then to return from the holidays and find that prayer is exactly the topic that Eddie is preaching on! God often seems to move several currents in one direction to get me to the place he wants me to be.

I’ve always struggled with prayer. I could blame it on having distracting children, or previously, a busy full-time job, but in reality, it’s always been something I’ve found difficult. When I read Paul saying at the start of Colossians, “We always pray for you” (v3), and “We have not stopped praying for you” (v9), I get a guilty jolt. After all, these were people he had never even met and I seem to struggle to even pray regularly for my family. Why is it so hard?

Then I started to look at what Paul prays for the Colossians:

“We ask God to give you complete knowledge of His will and to give you spiritual wisdom and understanding… We also pray that you will be strengthened with all His glorious power so that you will have the endurance and patience you need.” (v9,12)

Paul doesn’t pray for the Colossians’ safety, finances, or even their health. He is asking that the they will know God’s character in full, and deepen their knowledge of Him. To know God is to understand His love for us, and to be completely secure in that. From this flows the “joy” (v11) we need for a full and active prayer life. After all, we naturally spend more time doing the things we love, especially when it’s with people we love, and if we are growing to love God more and more, we will want to spend time with Him, rather than it feeling like a chore.

I realised that what is especially exciting about these verses is that Paul is asking quite simply for what God has already promised. God says again and again in His Word that his goal is to make us, his children, more like Him. So, to ask for these things: “complete knowledge of His will, spiritual wisdom and understanding”; “His glorious power” is exactly what God wants us to ask Him for. God loves it when we hold Him to his promises because then He can deliver precious and good gifts to his children, rather than the foolish things that we ask for.

Paul understood that our greatest is to need to know God more, and I take encouragement that this can be my primary focus in prayer, and the best prayer that I can pray for others. It massively takes the pressure off me, stopping me from sitting in anxious silence trying to list all things I think I should be praying for others and myself, and instead sitting in joyful relationship with my Father, praying what He has told me to, for the eternal good of His kingdom.