Alive Forever

“I am the resurrection and the life.
He who believes in me will live,
even though he dies;
and whoever lives and believes in me
will never die. Do you believe this?”
(John 11:25-26)

 

Reflection:
Jesus said these startling words to Martha soon before He raised her brother Lazarus from the dead.

He does not say that He will be the resurrection and the life, or that He will bring them about, but that He is the Resurrection and the Life. It is one of the great “I AM” statements of Jesus in which His divinity is clearly claimed. This means that for those who have entered into a relationship with Jesus as Lord and Saviour the new life to which the resurrection leads is already an imperishable reality.

In saying that whoever believes in Him will never die He is not talking conceptually but of a spiritual reality. Whilst our physical body will die and disintegrate our true and spiritual selves will neither die now sleep – but are already a part of the new life in Jesus Christ and enlivened by the Holy Spirit of God.

Paul affirms this understanding, both in his longing to depart and ‘be with the Lord’ and in his letters – for example

  • “Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God.” (Colossians 3:1)
  • “We are confident, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord” (2 Corinthians 5:8)

Jesus is the Resurrection and the Life. As we become a part of His life they become a reality in our own lives.

Response:

“Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?” (1 Corinthians 15:55)

Prayer:

Lord Jesus in You I am alive with an eternal life. Please help me to believe it, receive it and live in it in peace and trust. Amen.

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God Now

“Do you believe this?”
(John 11:26)

Reflection:
Lazarus had died and Jesus was talking to Martha. Through His probing it became clear that Martha had a belief in the God of the future. What she needed was to recognise the God of today. And Jesus drew her gently towards that. After getting her to acknowledge that she believed her brother would rise again in the resurrection at the last day, He said to her,

“I am the resurrection and the life”
(John 11:25)

In an earlier meeting, when Martha was annoyed that her sister Mary was sitting listening to Jesus instead of helping Martha with the preparations, she had effectively indicated that God should give way to the need of the day. Now the situation was about to be reversed. And the needs of the day would give way to God. Jesus went out and raised Lazarus from the dead.

To have a belief only in the God of tomorrow is to miss out on the wonder and reality of a personal and intimate relationship with the God of today. He is prepared to reveal Himself to us, and to enter into our everyday lives and living, today. Indeed He is trying to do so.

“Here I am! I stand at the door and knock.
If anyone hears my voice and opens the door,
I will come in and eat with him, and he with me”
(Revelation 3:20)

And so Paul would write,

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

Response:
God is the God of Today – involve Him in your todays

Prayer:

Lord help me to know and trust in You as the God of today – and to trust You in all my todays. Amen.

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Gentle Grace

“Let your conversation be always full of grace,
seasoned with salt,
so that you may know how to answer everyone.”
(Colossians 4:6)

Reflection:
We have something so valuable to contribute when we are with others. As people of grace, loved, called and saved by the Lord, we can share aspects of His love and beauty with them.

There is no call for us to enter into conversations of destructive gossip or negativity. With the salvation and hope that we have in Jesus Christ we are the ones to share hope, affirmation and understanding instead.  We have been accepted by God, we do not therefore have to look for acceptance from others by joining them in what they are doing.

As the light of the world and the salt of the earth our contribution in any situation should be positive and uplifting, particularly in what we say and the way in which we say it. Accordingly we must be very careful to avoid deliberate, or careless, criticism or slander of anyone else. Bad language, swearing and blasphemy should not be a part of our speech on any occasion, no matter how great the provocation. If any of this is happening around us, and we do not feel able to challenge it, then we need to consider walking away from it. Failing even that, we can keep silent and pray!

Throughout the day most of us will meet with a variety of people. Some we will know well, others casually and some will be strangers to us. In every case there is the opportunity, in the way that we speak and in what we say, to leave a positive impression. It is often so easy to bring a smile to someone’s face by a deliberate appreciation of something that they have done, even by an acknowledgement of their name and presence. And remember that if someone is angry or critical towards us, either with or without cause, there is no reason for us to become angry and abusive in return. We can choose our response remembering that,

“A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger” (Proverbs 15:1)

If we set out in the morning with the intention of speaking love and encouragement into people’s lives, we will end the day having made a marked difference in many of them. For some it may have completely transformed their day and attitude. Not a bad result!

Response:
Just do it!

Prayer:

Father, I know what a difference it makes in my life to receive affirmation, encouragement and compliments. Help me to be a Love-giver into the lives of those around me – for Jesus sake, Amen.

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One Truth

“This is what the LORD says—
Israel’s King and Redeemer, the LORD Almighty:
I am the first and I am the last;
apart from me there is no God.”
(Isaiah 44:6)

 

Reflection:
Our vision of God defines our lives.

God is Unique. He is the only true God. There is no person, object or idea that bears any comparison with Him. All other ‘first priorities’ are by comparison found to be only useless objects, worthless ideas or temporary activities that are the product of human hands and minds.

Everything we know about God has been revealed to us by Him. We did not discover Him – He found us. And the only reliable foundational source available to us is the Bible as it is opened to us by the Holy Spirit. It is the same Spirit who awakens our spirits and minds and understandings to the reality and truth of God and His great love.

As glorious and as deep as this is we need to remember that the vision and understanding we receive is limited to the level of our fallen and mortal humanity. The reality and complete truth of God is totally beyond anything that our minds can understand or express. Therefore our greatest and deepest appreciation of God will always be in our spirits when they are touched and blessed by His Spirit.

There is no one and nothing like the Lord God Almighty. And once our eyes have begun to open to His majesty, glory, beauty and love there is no one and nothing that could possibly be more desirable or such a blessing.

Response:

‘There is none like You,
No one else can touch my heart like You do,
I could search for all eternity long and find
There is none like You.’

(Lenny  LeBlanc)

Prayer:

Lord God please open me more and more to the wonder of Your glory and love. May I look for my truth, beauty and peace nowhere else. Amen.

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Choose Freedom

“Let us throw off ..
the sin that so easily entangles
 (Hebrews 12:1)

Reflection:
The deadly effect of sin is that it disengages us from our relationship with God and engages us in relationships with other things and other people, mostly centred on ourselves. The result is that we effectively submit ourselves to other lords which can very easily and quickly establish an authority in and over us. Satisfying them can become our priority before we are aware of it. It is small wonder that God so often equated such sin to adultery – that is being unfaithful to Him.

To try and live out the Christian life and to continue in some sinful behaviour is to guarantee that at best we will fall short of our potential in Christ and at worst to fall away from Him completely. The strange thing is that so often we are blind to the reality of our situations and try to justify it in some way or another – rather like Adam and Eve.  In the end it could destroy us.

David had it right. Instead of trying to rationalise and justify his sin over Bathsheba he went to the Lord with the great admission and acknowledgment of sin and asked for forgiveness. He went further then and prayed for God’s help in the future, for what he really needed –

“Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me” (Psalm 51:10)

Just as we cannot run with shackles on our legs so we cannot live fully and effectively whilst hauling our sins along with us. We need to let them go and seek instead to enter into the fullness of the life that Christ holds out to us. That does not imply that life will be easy, but it does mean that we can face up to it with the fullness of God within us and not held off at arm’s length because of things that, effectively, are closer to our hearts.

God has given us all of His heart. He asks the same from us so that we can more fully appreciate and share in the wonderful things that He has provided for us in and through Jesus Christ.

Response:
Take time to examine your life. Ask God to help you to recognise anything that has become a competitor for your attention.

Prayer:

Lord God help me please to want more of You all the time and not to seek to satisfy myself with the passing things of this world. Amen.

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The God who sees

“You are the God who sees me,”
(Genesis 16:13)

Reflection:
When Sarah could not fall pregnant she told her husband Abram to “sleep with my maidservant, perhaps I can build a family through her.” Abram did so and Hagar became pregnant. She then began to despise Sarah who treated her so badly that “she fled from her.”

The ‘angel of the Lord’ found her and came to her as she sat near a spring in the desert. He asked her where she had come from and where she was going. When she replied that she had run away he told her to go back to Sarah – and then shared with her something of what the Lord would do for the son she was to call Ishmael.

Hagar called the Lord “You are the God who sees me.”

It is a wonderfully encouraging episode for us all – and in particular for anyone who feels that like Hagar they are in a lonely and desert period in their life – with no one who cares or understands them and their pain.  Although Hagar could tell God where she had come from she could not describe where she was going. God then gave her the directions she needed and, to her credit, she heard and obeyed Him. God always has a plan, purpose and direction for our lives.

“I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go;
I will counsel you and watch over you”
(Psalm 32:8)

Wherever we are physically, emotionally and spiritually the Lord sees us. He sees us in our completeness, in our yesterdays, our todays and our tomorrows. He sees and knows the lonely outcast in us for whom He cares.  And, He has a word for us – a word of direction and of encouragement – even if it is,  as with Hagar, to remain where we are for the time being.

He is with us and our lives and times are in His hands.

Response:
Give the Lord some moments during your day. Tell Him where you are and how you feel. Ask Him for His help, strength and direction. Then spend some moments in a quiet stillness trusting His presence.

Prayer:

Lord God You see me and everything about me. Help me please Lord for I need Your love, Your direction and Your healing in my life. Amen.

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