Softly, Spoke the River

The Light of Christ


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Light drives out darkness

“When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said,
“I am the light of the world.
Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness,
but will have the light of life.”

(John 8:12)

Reflection:
The earliest recorded words of God are those of His first creative act. God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. The light would have blazed out through the darkness that was over ‘the surface of the deep’ in a glorious revelation of the power, splendour and majesty of God. Life was on the way.

Much later, when the darkness of sin and separation from God had covered the earth, the light of God came forth in a new way. This time it came in Jesus Christ, our Saviour and Redeemer. “The true light that gives light to every man was coming into the world.” (John 1:9) He came as the revelation of the glory, power and love of God. New life was on the way.

“The people walking in darkness have seen a great light;
On those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned”

(Isaiah 9:2)

And now this Light is the light that illuminates our spirits and our minds. It reveals  the great truth of God’s love displayed in the life of Jesus Christ as our Saviour and our Lord.

This light is a revelation of God. It reveals the darkness even as it dispels it. This light is the light of truth, compared to the darkness of error; it is the light of purity against the darkness of evil; it is the light of righteousness not the darkness of sin; it is the light of revelation not the darkness of ignorance; it is the light of wisdom not the darkness of foolishness; it is the light of love not the darkness of selfishness; it is the light of belonging not the darkness of loneliness; it is the light of hope not the darkness of despair; it is the light of life not the darkness of death.

Christ is the Light – ‘by baptism into Christ you pass from darkness into light.”
He is the Giver of Light – and the Light that leads, the Light that cleanses, the Light that heals and the Light that restores. And so powerful, cleansing and life-giving is the Light of Christ that, where it shines in its fullness, it is as if the darkness never was!

This Light is personal. He knocks at the door of our lives –  asking to be allowed into the lonely darkness. It will have to give way before Him as He brings us increasingly into new Life.

No matter how deep or dull your darkness may seem there is more than enough Light in Christ to dispel it.

Response:
Invite Him to come in now, more deeply and significantly than before – and to keep coming in until He fills every area of your life.

Prayer:

Lord Jesus, please shine the Light of Your life and love more fully into my life. Help me to walk in Your light and trust in Your love. Amen. 

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Bread of Life

“I am the bread of life”
 (John 6:35)

 

Reflection:
Jesus provided people with food for their bodies as well as food for their minds and spirits. He underlined the importance of the latter in the desert when He responded to the devil with the words

“Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4)

In the picture that He painted of Himself as the Vine and His followers as the branches He made it clear that we are to draw our true life-giving and enabling sustenance from Him. And then at the Last Supper He took the illustration even further when He demonstrated that we are in fact to feed on Him and His sacrificial and saving Life. The glorious Sacrament of the Eucharist – the Holy Communion – is one of the ways in which we consciously, by grace and through faith, receive and feed on the deep reality of Jesus Christ, the Bread of Life, who died that we might have life.

As much as we need daily bread for our bodies so do we need the bread of His word for our minds and the bread of His essential Being for our own spirits. The new life that He gives us is a life that we receive from Him and live in and through Him.

Paul helps us to see this as He says

“I can do everything through him who gives me strength” (Philippians 4:13)

This feeding on and from Christ is not just a conceptual idea but an everyday reality. We feed our minds on His written word of Scripture. We feed our spirits through communion with Him in prayer. And we draw our daily strength from Him throughout the day by consciously ‘breathing in’ His presence, His love and His strength as we need it.

Jesus alone is the Foundation and Fulfilment of our life.  All else is at best a passing pleasure or pain.

Response:
This is not a time for neglectful fasting but of feeding on God to the fullest.

Prayer:

Lord Jesus I cannot live this life by myself. Help me to feed on You for the Love, the Guidance and the Strength that I need every day. Amen.

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Finding Life

“I have come that they may have life,
and have it to the full.”

(John 10:10)

 

Reflection:
Here is a major statement by the Lord of His purpose in coming to us. The life that was lost to us is about to be restored.

In addition to His presence and help, which adds such immediate value to our lives, we can also have the certainty of a real and eternal life with God. This new life starts running the moment that we put our belief and trust in Jesus Christ – and never ends. It is not life as we know it here – but a life that begins within us, grows and develops, and then finally and fully blossoms into completeness, beauty, glory and untarnished joy. Paul and John rejoiced,

  • “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!”  (2 Corinthians” 5:17)
  • “The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children” (Romans 8:16)
  • “How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!” (1 John 3:1)

They were talking of both a present reality and a future hope. So Paul would pray with heart-lifting vision and meaning, based on his own knowledge and experience:

“I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge-that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.
Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.
(Ephesians 3:16-21)

 Here is a promise from God to all who believe. Choose to believe, accept and gratefully live it.

Response:
If you have given your life to Christ as your Lord and Saviour then keep reminding yourself of these great truths -and personalise them. Pray Paul’s great prayer for yourself regularly.

 Prayer:

Lord Jesus, I do want what You have to give. Please open me to Your presence, Your life and Your love, in all my situations. Amen.

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The Lord is Here

“I have come
that they may have life,
and have it to the full.”

(John 10:10)

Reflection:
For the believer, and even for the seeker, there is wonderful news in the words “I have come.”

Beautiful, significant and uplifting, they contain within them more than just the purpose that followed. They signify also that the waiting was over. The longed-for and prophesied Messiah had arrived and was active. The Son of God had taken His place within history and within creation. And God’s purpose was unfolding and being revealed in a new way.

In terms of presence He would never leave again. As He said to His disciples, “I am with you always.” (Matthew 28:20) and so for us today, the good news is, therefore, that ‘I am here!’

God is with us today and every day. Whatever our situation, whatever the challenges that we face, ‘The Lord is here. His Spirit is with us.’ We are not and will not be alone. His very presence is a help. And, just as He reached out and touched the real lives of real people in real ways when He was present physically, so He will make a difference in our lives when invited and allowed to do so. He is here to walk before us and with us, every step of the way.

Jesus Christ is with you right now. He is your Saviour and Your Redeemer. He is the King establishing His Kingdom both in and around you. He is the one who will never let you go. He has come – He is here – and He will come again in all His glory.

Response:
The Lord is here – His Spirit is with me

Prayer:

Lord Jesus I acknowledge and welcome Your presence in my life and in my situation. Help me to know and trust in Your presence at all times and to stay close to You in thought, word and deed. Amen.

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Come In Lord

“There was no room for them in the inn”
( Luke 2:7)

Reflection:
In an age when there were no telephones, emails or ordinary mail services Joseph and Mary took their chances with accommodation. And, when they reached their destination of Bethlehem, they found that all the available places had already been taken. There was nothing suitable to be had for a heavily pregnant mother bearing the Son of God and Saviour of the world.

Right from the beginning both Mary and Joseph learned that a close association with the Lord might have many blessings and privileges – but comfort was not necessarily one of them. They had suffered both social and emotional pain and now were met with not only physical discomfort but with what might have felt like rejection and a lack of understanding from God.

Jesus confirmed this during His ministry when He told a would-be follower,

“Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests,
but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.”
(Matthew 8:20)

John the Baptist’s role was ‘to prepare the way for the Lord’ amongst the people to whom He would come. Jesus role was to seek out and save the lost. It was only as He prepared to return to the Father that He spoke of preparing a place for us. Until we reach that place we are on a journey with the Lord – it will not be all ease and comfort, but it will be the best place to be. For with Him there is true life!

There is a key question we need constantly to have at the forefront of our minds. Is there room in my mind, my heart and my spirit, and in my everyday life and living, for the Lord Jesus – or is He banished to the fringes by the affairs of my world?

Response:
We prepare a place for the Lord whilst He prepares a place for us with the Father.

Prayer:

Lord God, please help me to keep my eyes and attention on You and not just on my own affairs, comforts and pleasures. Amen.

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Now is the Time

“But when the time had fully come,
God sent his Son”
(Galatians 4:4)

Reflection:
It was some 2000 years after God called Abraham and promised to bless all the families of the world through him.  Now, Paul tells us, this was the right time. We do not know the full answer but there are certain factors that made this time suitable from a human perspective.

Firstly, there was a general peace in the Roman empire. The legions were everywhere keeping law and order and protecting travellers both on land and at sea.

Secondly, the common language of the empire was Greek – and the Old Testament in Greek, the Septuagint, was available.

Thirdly, there was an increasing spiritual hunger. The Roman gods had lost their appeal and the so-called mystery religions had a more personal appeal.

Fourthly, there were those who were attracted to the idea of the Jewish God and the high ethical standards that were a part of their faith.

Finally, Caesar had called for a census, and Joseph and Mary went to Bethlehem where Jesus was born – just as had been prophesied.

Within this context Paul also was able to minister effectively and during a short period of ten years saw the church established in the four Roman provinces of Galatia, Macedonia, Achaia and Asia.

Certainly God had chosen a good time – and may well have been influential in bringing it about! And how blessed we are that some 2000 years later we can look back on it and enjoy the fullness of its meaning. We are about to celebrate Christmas – not the Christmas of the tubby man in a red suit and a white beard, with too much to eat and drink and expensive present that don’t last. Our celebration is of the appearance amongst us of a Saviour – a baby who grew to be a man, who died upon a cross and brought us the gift of eternal life in the light and love of Almighty God,  our Father in Heaven. This was not Father Christmas but the reality of the Son of God Himself.

Don’t miss it!

Response:
“I tell you, now is the time of God’s favour, now is the day of salvation” (2 Corinthians 6:2)

Prayer:

Lord Jesus, enter more fully into my life to rule and reign there in the fullness of your light, life and love. Amen.

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