Forgiven for yesterday, today and tomorrow

“When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your sinful nature, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, having cancelled the written code, with its regulations, that was against us and that stood opposed to us; he took it away, nailing it to the cross.”
(Colossians 2:13-14)

Reflection:
Paul has a way with words! There was a time when we were both dead and dying because of sin and our sins. Like the uncircumcised person we were spiritually unclean and seen to be outside the provisions and scope of the covenant. There was nothing we could do to alter this state – it was as if we carried within us a written conviction and sentence of death. Then God did something – Jesus Christ came and took into Himself our sin, our sins and our conviction and sentence, and went to death on our behalf. The sentence has been paid and, when accepted, our sins can no longer be held against us in God’s judgement court – “He forgave all our sins.”

As believers we no longer live under the law, we live in the grace of God – we live in forgiveness as those who have been forgiven, even in advance. Instead of facing death we have entered into life. That is not a mandate for us to live carelessly or to indulge ourselves in sin – that can never be acceptable when we look at the terrible cost to God of our forgiveness. It does, however, mean that when we do sin we can go to the Father and ask for forgiveness, a forgiveness that has already been achieved for us. But let us never forget that it is ‘the blood of Jesus’ that ‘purifies us from all sin,’

“But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin. If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:7-9)

Although this amazing grace is extended and available to all people it is not a blanket provision acquired by all. It is a gift to be recognised, accepted, treasured and received. Those who reject the gift, reject God. Those who reject God reject the gift. Those who believe and put their faith and trust in the Saviour enter into the grace and love of God, as His sons and daughters, for eternity.

As believing Christians, no matter how difficult we find it to live pure and holy and faithful lives, the grace of God and the blood of Jesus have purified and continue to purify us. When we live in the grace of God we live in forgiveness, and in the new life and relationship that He has given to us. How wonderful is that! Learn to live in it every day – you are made right with God!

Response:
Acknowledge and accept the truth.

Prayer:

Thank You so much Father for Your wonderful love and grace. Please help me to believe, accept and live in it every day – for Jesus sake, Amen.

————————–

Don’t let go

2016-10-14

“So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord,
continue to live in him, rooted and built up in him,
strengthened in the faith as you were taught,
and overflowing with thankfulness.”
(Colossians 2:6-7)

Reflection:
Our life in Christ is a journey. He is going towards a definite end and destination and is taking us with Him. It is not for us to ask Him to stop along the way to help us do what attracts us, or even what we consider to be necessary. We are to stay with Him, pausing when He pauses, moving on when He does and doing everything that He gives us to do as on His behalf.

There came a point in our life’s journey where our path intersected with His, and we responded to His call to come to Him and follow Him. Now we are called to remain with Him, all the time. Our relationship is to be so close that spiritually He is in us and we are in Him. So Paul directs us to ‘continue to live in Him’ – in this very close and personal relationship. He goes on to relate it to being ‘rooted’ in Christ.

This reminds us of Jesus parable of the Vine –with Him as the Vine and us as the branches. The only way in which we can receive the new life-giving sustenance is through Him, The only way in which we can bear abundant and Godly fruit is through the power and creativity that flows from Him. The extent of the life that flows from Him to us is dependent upon the quality of our relationship with Him – the larger the join of the branch to the vine the more that flows into it. It is from Christ that we receive our spiritual strength and deepening faith – not from ourselves or from others. He, and He alone, is “the Life” (John 14:6). The Holy Spirit comes from the Father and the Son, not without them.

What a wonderful privilege it is to have been called by Christ from darkness into light, from judgement into salvation, from separation into this glorious relationship as the sons/daughters of the Lord God Almighty. We can only be eternally and deeply thankful and grateful that we are no longer the ‘enemies of God’ but are now His ‘treasured possession’ in whom He ‘delights.’

“Fear not, for I have redeemed you;
I have summoned you by name;
you are mine”
(Isaiah 43:1)

Response:
Thank God – and spend a moment dwelling on these wonderful truths.

Prayer:

Holy Spirit, please deepen my faith and help me to appreciate the wonderful privilege of being an eternal child of God. Amen

—————–

Be God’s Light

2016-10-13

“He is the head of the body, the church”
(Colossians 1:18)

Reflection:

You are the Head of the body, the church.

Addressed to the Lord like this it becomes an acknowledgement from us to Him. It is very easy to read the words impersonally and then to forget them in our daily lives. But as Jesus was about His Father’s business so are we about His business.

Without the head the body has no life and is totally ineffective as far as the Lord is concerned. The head decides the direction and purpose of the body and determines what the body will do. Jesus Christ is the sole head of His church on earth. Everyone else – no matter what office they hold or authority they carry – is subject and accountable to Him.

His church is not the buildings in which we gather. His church – His body – is the people. Therefore wherever His people are at any time or place is also ‘church’.  The people, as His body, are the visible presence of the Lord in the world today. Individually and together we are the light that He shines into the darkness of the lives around us.

Each one of us has particular spiritual gifts that God has given to us. These enable us to carry out His will and purpose in the world. He intends us to work in harmony with each other, without seeking the places of honour and willing always to serve wherever we may be.

The body is intended to be alive and active every day of the week – not only for an hour or two on Sundays. That is where we gather for corporate worship and fellowship, teaching and prayer. From that base we then go out into the world –‘to live and work to His praise and glory.”

Much depends upon our relationship with the head, as well as with other members of the body. The unity of the body is very important. We may all need the humility at times to see when an insistence on ‘being right’ may bring more harm than good.

Response:
Be a silent, prayerful witness before I speak

Prayer:

Lord may Your Light so shine in my heart that it will reflect from me into the lives of those around me. Help me too Lord to do everything in the knowledge of Your presence and purpose. Amen.

———————  

God and us

2016-10-12

“He is before all things,
and in him all things hold together”
(Colossians 1:17)

Reflection:

In You, Lord, all things hold together

As we look around us today the things of God and the things of man stand out in stark contrast.

The sun comes up and the sun goes down, the moon waxes and wanes, the tides ebb and the tides flow, the seasons keep their measured pace, rain falls and seeds grow, birds greet the dawn and dusk with their songs – and so do many of the fish – and all around us the glorious universe grows in stately splendour. This is what God ordained a long time ago.

On the other hand the world of man is in turmoil. Everywhere we look man’s relationships are in disorder – with himself, with others and with our beautiful planet. There is war and the potential of war, violence within homes and communities, poverty and despair, women and children brutalised and abused, famine and disease, corruption, greed, idolatry, adultery, murder, and limitless lust. Left to ourselves it is so obvious that we could finally both implode and explode and become a once pearl of a planet floating in an endless silence.

But God. Jesus Christ is both the source of creation and the power that sustains it. By His glorious grace He has never walked away from us – nor has He remained outside watching us from a distance. He came into our world, purposefully and significantly. He is here still in the presence of the Holy Spirit. And He will come again in glory. It is by His grace that we have not destroyed ourselves for He has revealed His power and authority over both humankind and the powers of evil.

Even should humankind  destroy itself it can never destroy the wonder and life of our relationship as believers with this great God – who holds His people to Himself with a grasp that cannot be broken. It is in Him that our future is secure.

  • “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ” ( Ephesians 1:3)
  • “And he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, to be put into effect when the times will have reached their fulfillment–to bring all things in heaven and on earth together under one head, even Christ” (Ephesians 1:9-10)

Response:
My hope is in the Lord  – the Maker and Sustainer of heaven and earth

Prayer:

Lord Jesus, I acknowledge Your supreme power and authority. I put my hope and trust in You. Please keep me strong and secure in this faith all the days of my life and help me to be a support and encouragement to others. Amen.

———————-

The way of blessing

2016-10-11

“For by him all things were created:
things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible,
whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities;
all things were created by him and for him”
(Colossians 1:16)

Reflection:
All things were created By Him and for Him. He made everything that has been made – and it belongs to Him. That is important for us to remember when we seek either consciously or unconsciously to claim anything as ‘mine’ – including material possessions as well as spiritual gifts and talents. David had it right when he acknowledged,

“For all things come from you,
and of your own have we given you”
(I Chronicles 29:14 ESV)

The Lord has created not only the natural world as we know it – the visible – but the spiritual world as well – the invisible. In these worlds He also made structure and rules for their security and good order, as well as for our security, order and well-being. If we operate within the structure then good will follow – but if we choose to ignore it then we find the reality of the ‘law’ and the consequences.

An example is the law of gravity. If we ignore the directions and walk off the edge of a mountain then we discover both the law and the consequence of ignoring it. In the same way if we ignore the command not to steal we will likely discover why it exists and what breaking it can do to our relationships with God, others and ourselves.

God made what was ‘very good’ and specifically designed and intended as a blessing. We cannot complain if our contrary actions bring different results.

“He has made everything beautiful in its time”
(Ecclesiastes 3:11)

God gave directions suitable for His creation and for those to whom He gave it. Neither as the fallen nor as the redeemed should we hope for blessing if we ignore them. But if we live as He intended then there will be blessing.

“The law of the LORD is perfect, reviving the soul.
The statutes of the LORD are trustworthy, making wise the simple.
The precepts of the LORD are right, giving joy to the heart.
The commands of the LORD are radiant, giving light to the eyes.
The fear of the LORD is pure, enduring forever.
The ordinances of the LORD are sure and altogether righteous.
They are more precious than gold, than much pure gold;
they are sweeter than honey, than honey from the comb.
By them is your servant warned;
in keeping them there is great reward.” 
(Psalm 19:7-11)

Response:
Which commands do I keep and which do I ignore?

Prayer:

Lord You are God and Your Ways have to be the best. In fact in the Lord Jesus we see the Way, the Truth and the Life. Help me Lord to commit myself to You and in faith to walk in Your ways. Amen.

———————

Showing us the Father

2016-10-10

“He is the image of the invisible God”
(Colossians 1:15)

Reflection:
Paul in these next verses gives us a glorious vision and understanding of our wonderful Lord. He is writing about the Christ to others and so speaks of Him as ‘He.’ However by making them personal they become a beautiful expression of worship as they acknowledge His glory.

“You are the image of the invisible God”

Here is an enlightening truth. All that we might want to know about the Father is revealed to us in the Person and expression of Jesus Christ. He is Himself the author of this great truth for He said to His disciples shortly before His death.

“Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father”
(John 14:9)

Everything about Jesus is a revelation of the Father. As examples –

  • There is the Majesty with which the Father commanded creation into existence –
    • and the Majesty with which Jesus exercised power over that same creation in calming the storm, feeding the 5000, healing the sick and raising the dead.
  • There is the Intimacy of God walking in the Garden to find Adam and Eve, calling out to them and then clothing them before they left the Garden –
    • and Jesus dealing with the woman at the well, the woman caught in adultery, the ‘sinful’ woman anointing Him, His story of looking for the Lost Sheep and His conversations with His disciples
  • There is God’s desire to save and bless expressed in His faithfulness and commitment to Israel, forgiving, saving and restoring them again and again –
    • and Jesus touching and healing the leper, giving sight to the blind, raising the dead, healing the lame, healing the sick and forgiving the sinners
  • There is the love of God expressed in His plan of salvation that was in place from the beginning and expressed in His response to the Fall despite the cost involved, and the prophetic example of the near sacrifice of Isaac by his father –
    • and Jesus facing the horror of the Cross through Gethsemane and the day that followed

Jesus said of Himself that He only spoke the words that the Father gave Him and did only the things that the Father showed Him – and summed it all up by saying,

“I and the Father are one”
(John 10:30)

Response:
Use it in worship through the day – “You are the image of the invisible God”

Prayer:

Lord Jesus, You are indeed the image of the invisible God, our glorious Father. Thank You for revealing Him to us. Help me to see Him in and through You and Your revelation. Amen.

———————-

Ignore the crows

2016-09-23

“God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles
the glorious riches of this mystery, which is
Christ in you, the hope of glory.”
(Colossians 1:27)

Reflection:
Christian lives can feel less like that of a soaring eagle and more like being constantly attacked by little black crows. They can irritate us, distract us from our identity and purpose, and even make us sound like them with snappy caws! The temptation is to stay on their level and focus on fighting them, instead of rising powerfully to heights that are beyond them.

Of course they will always be around somewhere. However, our calling is not to concentrate on resisting or fighting them, but to look and live above and beyond them – always moving forward, always drawing closer to the Lord, always crowding sin and temptation out of our lives by the presence of God and the goodness, beauty and activity into which He calls us.

The first step is to remember that God is not ‘out there’ somewhere. He is within His sons and daughters. He loves us, draws us and transforms us from the inside. Our salvation, in the form of our Saviour, has come from without and enters into those who receive Him. God the Holy Spirit has come to dwell within us. We are the people of God not just because we follow Him but because He has entered into us and expresses Himself through us.

Being God’s people means that our focus must always be above the things of the world and on the God and Saviour of the world. Look again at the words that Paul uses – “the glorious riches” so different from the vindictive little black shadows that chase us; “Christ in you” – this is God of whom he is talking – His presence might be a mystery but it is certainly a reality; “The hope of glory” – our sure and certain hope is in the reality of this Christ within us.

You don’t become an eagle by fighting the crows. You soar with God to where the little black shadows can’t go. Cleansed by His blood, with His Spirit within you, the presence of God is where you belong. Focus on Him and trust in the certainty of His love, His provision and His protection. Don’t let sin drag you down, but allow God to lift you up. Trust Him, He will do it. Remember always that although we are physically limited there is no limit to the heights to which our spirits can go with the Lord.

Response:
Confess sin, and keep pressing into God.

Prayer:

Father, sometimes I feel as if I am dragging myself through the dust and dirt. Please help me to look from myself to You, and allow Your smile and love to lift me up again and again. Amen.

————————-