Softly, Spoke the River

The Light of Christ

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Restful Rest

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“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened,
and I will give you rest.
Take my yoke upon you and learn from me,
for I am gentle and humble in heart,
and you will find rest for your souls.”

(Matthew 11:28-29)

Twice in this passage Jesus offers rest to those who come to Him. In the first He offers it as a gift and in the second promises that people will find it in their everyday working relationship with Him. Clearly this rest is something, then, that is a part of Him and that He is both willing and able to share with others.

The rest to which He is referring is not just a physical relaxation or an absence of hardship or even suffering, but something far deeper and profound. At one level it is the opposite of worry or fretting. At another it is the absence of a striving for perfection and acceptability through an obsession about keeping the law and all the laws dictated by both society and religion. This would include not feeling the need to manipulate or buy the affection or attention of others in our relationships, nor to prove ourselves in any way. At its deepest it is laying aside the unbearably heavy burden of sin with its guilt and shame and rejection.

Rest is found in our acceptance by Jesus and, through Him, by the Father. It is the unlovely prodigal dragging himself, or herself, home and finding the arms and blessing of God waiting for him. After all the journeys and strivings this is where he belongs and where he finds total acceptance and love. There is no longer any need to pretend or to hide his truth from himself or others. The real him has found the real God and the real freedom. And, because he is lovely in the eyes and heart of the Father, he finally becomes lovely himself. He is loved into loveliness.

Rest it not having to earn but being prepared to accept. God’s love, God’s grace, God’s forgiveness, God’s salvation, God’s gifts, God’s empowerment are all available. They cannot be earned or bought, just accepted with humble delight.
Rest is allowing God to carry the major part of the burdens of life as we walk with Him – whatever they are. In addition, it is accepting that ours is not the sole responsibility to solve the problems of the world in general or of our world in particular. As we walk with Jesus it is for Him to lead, direct and instruct. Our part is to ask, to listen, to obey and to trust. And although He may require certain responses and actions from us they will be lighter than those imposed by the world or our own fears and inadequacies. They will be those which He is prepared to endorse, encourage and empower.

Rest and peace are closely related to each other and both come from our Lord. With them comes meaning for our lives as well as hope, assurance, and joy, no matter the circumstances in which we might find ourselves. They are facilitated by our faith and trust in Him – and hampered by our doubts and self-concerns. We rest in the security of our relationship with the Lord, which is dependent only upon His limitless love and endless provision and control. Trusting Him enough to commit everything into His hands we know that in Him all is, and will be, well.

Turn to Him right now. Tell Him you trust Him. Keep reminding yourself that you do!


Lord Jesus, please help me to live, love and work in Your presence and under Your direction, and to trust you in all the areas that cause me concern. Amen.


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I Want To See

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“Lord, I want to see,” he replied. ”
Jesus said to him, “Receive your sight; your faith has healed you.”

Immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus,
praising God”

(Luke 18:41-43)

All of us are blind in some way. This is particularly true in respect of our knowledge and understanding. It is not only impossible for us to know and understand everything that is available to us, we cannot even understand fully the people and things that are a part of our everyday life and work. What is more we do not truly know and understand ourselves.

One person will look up at the glory of the night sky and be speechless before its revelation of the majesty and glory of God. Another will be amazed at the cleverness of man in putting someone on the moon. One person will weep with awe and joy over the love of God revealed in the Scriptures. Another will see only a literary style and record of strange events. One will see grace and come to the Lord. Another will see law and miss Him completely.

This blind man saw the Lord and followed Him. It is the only way to enter into and deepen our relationship with God, with His people and with ourselves. He is forever leading us onwards, revealing to us hidden depths of life and truth, and opening before us the vistas of the glory and love of God. Even when He opens our eyes to our own sin it is so that we can know and experience the wonder and beauty of His forgiveness.

Ask God to open your eyes to the Truth – today and every day.


Lord I want to see – more and more of the Truth, and of the wonder of Your glory, majesty and love. Amen.


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I’m Coming Lord

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“She said to herself, “If I only touch His cloak, I will be healed.”

(Matthew 9:21)

This was a woman who had suffered from bleeding for twelve years. According to Mark’s account “she had suffered a great deal under the care of many doctors and spent all she had, yet instead of getting better she grew worse.”

She now went to the Lord and reached out her hand. She made contact with Him by touching His cloak. His response was to turn towards her. He looked for her until He found her. Then in His turn He made contact with her, personally.

The woman highlights for us the fact that it is not enough to be merely a part of the crowd. What is needed in our lives is for us to make personal contact with the Lord, and to know that He has made contact with us. Our faith brings us into the large ‘body of Christ’, but our relationship with Him is still very personal and real.

Without the personal presence and touch of the Lord in our lives they can seem at times to be just leaking away from us. With Him there, as the Source, Renewer and Sustainer of Life, –as Life itself – our lives take on a new significance, purpose and pleasure. Instead of a mere physical healing we receive a healing of the spirit and a gift of true life that not even death can take away.

Jesus call was never for us to just tag along and see what happens. It was far more personal and intentional,

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28)

Bring to Him in personal prayer your sickness, sadness and sin – of body, mind and spirit – and let Him make contact with you.


“Just as I am, You will receive,
will welcome, pardon, cleanse, relieve:
because Your promise I believe,
O Lamb of God, I come”


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Get up Again

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“The girl is not dead but asleep.”

(Matthew 9:24)

A ruler had come to Jesus with the news that his daughter had just died. When Jesus reached his house he told the crowd that she was not dead but asleep. They laughed at Him because they knew she was dead. However to Jesus, with the power available to Him, it was no greater challenge than if she was asleep. Accordingly He took her by the hand and raised her up.

For many of us aspects of our lives may seem to have died. Hopes, love, opportunities, relationships, skills, self-respect, social standing, and health are just some of them. Each one of us will know of others. Like the crowd around the little girl we may think that it is now too late for anything to change and for any improvement to enter our lives.

However with God this is not true. Wherever we find Jesus in the Gospels we see Him reaching out to someone. He is always inviting them to get up and have another go at life, this time with Him. For each one of us He has a plan and a purpose, wherever and however we are,

“For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” (Ephesians 2:10)
“Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” (Isaiah 40:30-31)
• “They will still bear fruit in old age, they will stay fresh and green” (Psalm 92:14)

We need to remind ourselves that our life and purpose is not found and fulfilled by the world. The things of the world, and even those closest to us, will not result in true and lasting peace. They may give us great joy and great pain but they will not bring us the fulfillment and meaning that we crave. That comes only from the Lord. He is our Life. In Him is our Living. And He is the One Who can lift us up again when the darkness of the world has closed around us.
We can indeed find Life, Love and Comfort, in whatever situation we happen to be, for even now He is reaching out to us.

Keep your focus on Him. Keep talking to Him. Keep in His Word.


Lord Jesus, please come to me now, reach out to me with that scarred hand of love, help me up again and lead me forward, with You always. Amen.


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Yes you can!

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“Some men brought to him a paralytic, lying on a mat.
When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic,
“Take heart, son; your sins are forgiven.”

(Matthew 9:2)

Not all paralysis is caused by the sin of the person. However sin can paralyse us in certain ways and in some areas of our lives. Anyone who is in bondage to a way of life, a way of thinking and a way of acting may find themselves unable to change into a different and better way.

The first step towards healing is to recognise the problem and the second is to do something about it. Many people would love to be healed but are not really willing to go through the process or to abandon a love affair with the problem itself. Some receive healing but fall back again. They may either give up or go through a period of despair, self-loathing and fear of the displeasure of God before trying again.

There is absolutely no doubt that God wants us to be set free and is prepared to help us. Jesus first words to the paralysed man are filled with compassion, life and love. He did not belittle or condemn him, but said,

“Take heart, son.”

He then freely forgave him and offered him healing.

“Your sins are forgiven …… Get up, take your mat and go home.”

The ball was now in the man’s court. He had to respond by getting up off the ground. The story does not go further but, in effect, the man would have to keep doing the same thing every day. He would have to stand up and walk in newness of life. He could no longer rely on others to cart him about or to provide for him. He was free now to live life himself, if he would.

For many of us the process is rather like a child learning to walk. We try and fall a number of times before we begin to stay on our feet. Then however we can find that not only are we walking in a new way but running and dancing with a wonderful and glorious freedom in areas and ways that we would never have believed to be possible. It is all because of the love of God, the salvation in Jesus and the help of the Holy Spirit.

We need God if we are going to be set free. We may need others as well – just as this man needed his friends – to help, encourage and support us along the way. We may even need the professional help of those gifted and with experience in our areas. However more than anyone else we need the Lord. The one Who says to us, and does so as many times as is necessary,

“Take heart, your sins are forgiven, get up and walk”

Ask God to show you where you may need healing. Ask Him for forgiveness and help. If you fall don’t give up – go back to the Lord!


Lord, please forgive me, heal me and help me. Please renew my vision, strengthen my faith and give me the courage to carry on with You in newness of life. Amen.


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Seeds must be sown


“The seed is the word of God.”

(Luke 8:11)

Jesus told people the parable of the sower. The farmer went out and sowed the seed all over his field. Some fell along the path. Some fell on rocky ground. Some fell among thorns and some fell on the good soil.

He explained that the seed is the word of God. The path represents those who do not receive it and it is taken from them by the devil. The rocky ground describes those who find it attractive but do not let it take root within them, so that in testing times they forget it. The thorns are those who lives are choked by its worries, pleasures and riches which overshadow everything else – so that they never grow in faith. Whilst ‘the seed on good soil stands for those with a noble and good heart, who hear the word, retain it, and by persevering produce a crop.’

Apart from the challenge of which state represents our lives there is a telling point made for us in our Christian ministry. It is this – the same seed was given to all people. Neither the farmer in the story, nor Christ in His ministry, kept the word of God from anyone. Everyone was welcome to hear it and then to choose their response. No one could have said to Him, ‘But You didn’t tell me.’

We are not called to be selective and to assume to judge whether people might be receptive or not. Instead we are commissioned to share the good news far and wide – with the same lavish and almost wasteful unconcern shown by the farmer. Everyone everywhere should receive it. God has given seed to each one of us in terms of both Scripture and His love at work in our lives. We are surrounded by the barren fields of dusty desolation, and who knows who is waiting for us – just as we once may have been waiting for someone.

Remember too – there will be no harvest if seeds are not sown.

Pray for your situations and the people you encounter. Ask God for guidance, love and courage.


Lord Jesus help me to sow Your love and word wherever I am – through the way that I am and the message I give out. Amen.


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“The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed,
which a man took and planted in his field.
Though it is the smallest of all your seeds, yet when it grows,
it is the largest of garden plants and becomes a tree,
so that the birds of the air come and perch in its branches.”

(Matthew 13:31-32)


The power in a small seed is breath-taking. They can take root and develop in what appear to be the most hostile and extreme situations. They have even been known to split mighty rocks as they have grown and developed.

 So it is with the seed of faith planted by God. The whole world is His field, as is every human heart and spirit. When He plants that tiny seed of faith in the dark and lonely places of a person’s life something will begin to happen. No matter how slowly it will develop. And, when God has His hand over it, the world itself will not be able to trample it down.

 Faith is a thing of rare beauty and grace. It is not an overnight sensation like the beauty of a daffodil in Spring that disappears again quite soon. It is more like a mighty oak. Its growth is slower and more purposeful. The roots grow deeper as the branches reach higher and wider. It matures in the sun and the rain, in the darkness and light, in the violent storms and gentle breezes. And the smaller and more fragile people find shelter, rest and encouragement in its shade.

 Cherish the faith that God has given you. No matter how tiny and wobbly it may seem to you it is His gift. His whole being is invested in it and in you. And His promise is that nothing can separate you from Him and His love once you have allowed Him into your life.


Stay close to the Lord in thought and prayer.


Thank You Father for the gift of Your love, Your Son and Your Spirit into my life. Please help me to find peace and rest in Your love and to allow You to develop the faith You have planted within me. Amen.


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What a Difference

Bread Banana

“The kingdom of heaven is like yeast
that a woman took and mixed into a large amount of flour
until it worked all through the dough.”

(Matthew 13:33)


So often Jesus used everyday activities as the source from which He drew His parables. This one finds its origin in the kitchen. It was something every person would have recognised and Jesus would have watched many times in His home.

 Bread without yeast can be hard, dry, unappetising and uninteresting. The introduction of yeast makes it soft, porous and spongy, tasty and good to eat. My aunt used to make bread and whenever we were at her house there would be a line of small boys waiting to get their hands on thick, warm slices after it came from the oven.

 Like the yeast, once it is added to the dough, the Kingdom of God may appear to be invisible. This is particularly true of the world in which we live. However it does not mean that God is inactive. I have been particularly aware recently not only of God at work in my own life but of His involvement and blessings in the lives of others. This is so often the way that He operates, entering into and transforming the lives of those of His people who are open to it so that they in turn may bless and influence the lives and situations around them. In this way it becomes visible through its effect.


Let the yeast of God’s love, revealed through His Word and His Spirit, work its transformation in your own life – and through you.


Lord help me to embrace Your love, soak in Your Word and be enlivened by Your Spirit. Amen.


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Priceless Pearl


“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like
a merchant looking for fine pearls.
When he found one of great value,
he went away and sold everything he had
and bought it.”

(Matthew 13:45-46)


Jesus parables of the Kingdom speak to us both of the Kingdom and the King Himself.

 Here He compares the Kingdom to the most beautiful pearl in the world. It is one of such value and beauty that the merchant who appreciates its qualities would be prepared to give everything that he had for the privilege and joy of acquiring it. Its message to us is that we should see the Kingdom of God in the same light. The practical outworking of our desire would be to live out the values of the Kingdom right now, seeking to give up worldly ambitions and desires for the privilege of living out the beauty of God’s love and will.

“Your kingdom come, Your will be done on earth (in, through and around me) as it is in heaven.” (Matthew 6:10)

 The second point is that what God illustrates to us He has already done for us. Each one reading this is, to God, a pearl of great beauty and value. Such is His love and desire for you that He was prepared to give everything that He had for the joy of having you with Him throughout eternity.

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)

 Each one of us is an ‘whoever.’ The choice to believe or not believe is ours. And, by God’s grace, we can carry on believing as our journey continues to unfold.


Love and obedience are decisions – not emotions.


Father You have lived out, and continue to live out, Your love and commitment to me. Please help me to live out my love and commitment to You – and may they grow stronger and purer every day. Amen.



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Live Your Light


“Once again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net that was let down into the lake and caught all kinds of fish.”

(Matthew 13:47)



Jesus compared this story, which has the fishermen throwing away the bad fish, to the end of the age. This is when the angels would come ‘and separate the wicked from the righteous.’ His point is that this separation takes place at the end. Until then the good and the bad, the righteous and the unrighteous, the believers and the unbelievers are all together.

 It would be so good at one level if we could bring about that separation now. However we are not given that option. Instead we are left with two challenges.

 The first is to live out our new life whilst still surrounded by the old. We are different now as the sons and daughters of God and His treasured possession. We are called to be holy and to minister to the Lord God Almighty. We are the ones who are now the light of the world and called to make a difference in the world around us. God has given us His Spirit and directions and looks to us to acknowledge and respond to them both.

 The second challenge is not to allow ourselves to be contaminated and dragged back into the darkness of the world. It is so easy to be influenced by all that goes on around us, to begin to see it as the norm and to soak in the opinions and morality amongst which we live. Our mission and ministry is to bring light into the world not to let its darkness quench our light, and life and love.

 “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood,
a holy nation, a people belonging to God,
that you may declare the praises of him
who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.”

(1 Peter 2:9)


Acknowledge and be aware of God’s presence all the time. Offer Him all that you are and do.


“May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer.” Amen. (Psalm 19:14).