Share a Smile

“Remember this:
Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly,
and whoever sows generously will also reap generously.”
(2 Corinthians 9:6)

Reflection:
We are sowing all the time. At every moment and in every situation we are distributing something into our contexts and into the lives of others. It flows from our expressions, our words, our attitudes, our actions and our reactions. There is not one of us, whether introvert or extrovert, of whom this is not true.

As we realise this we come to see also that we have a choice with regard to what is sown. It can be positive or negative, helpful or unhelpful, encouraging or discouraging, up-building or degrading. We also have a choice as to how much we sow – minute quantities, sparingly or lavishly – and whether we so do willingly or unwillingly.

Years ago as I walked past the public Library gardens on my way to work I often met a man walking across my path. He was a fairly large man with a round and generally smiling face and, as he walked, he sang out loud in a resonating bass voice. I did not understand the words which were not in English but the song, and the beaming joy with which it was sung, was a wonderful blessing bringing smiles to the faces of almost everyone who met him. What a gift it was!

We all have within us the ability and the wherewithal to sow some blessing and encouragement into the lives of those around us. In a world in which the focus is turning increasingly inwards all it takes is the decision to be aware of others and – even for a day – to decide to seek ways of giving a blessing rather than looking for one ourselves. The wonderful thing is that so often sowing kindness brings it back again in some way – even in an immediate smile on the face of the recipient.

Cultivate the habit of sowing love, light and life in your situation. It can change lives – including your own.

Response:
Look – listen to the expressions of others – do something.

Prayer:

Lord Jesus You blessed the lives of so many people. Help me to do the same and to be excited about it. Amen.

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Limitless Grace

“I always thank God for you because of his grace
given you in Christ Jesus.”
(1 Corinthians 1:4)

Reflection:
Our relationship with God is all about reality. It is based on His reality and the fact that He has intervened in our reality – the reality of our everyday lives, as well as the reality of our past and our future. Whilst the world offers us concepts, philosophies and ultimate loneliness and death, God offers us truth, personal relationship with Him, and eternal life and healing. Where the world tells us what we must do, God shows us what He has done. Where the world will sell to us, God gives to us freely. Where the world gives no visible proof, God gives us His Son. Where the world offers no guarantees God sends His Spirit to live within us. Whereas the world ultimately discards us, God promises us resurrection and life.

The wonder of our relationship with God is that everything that He has done for us, and that He offers us, is done out of His great and unlimited love.

This love of God is not revealed only in words, it is revealed in the gift and sacrifice of His Son on our behalf. There could be no greater gift or example of the love that God has for us. And, because it is only through the grace of God, flowing from this love that we have a future and a hope, Jesus Christ stands also as the revelation of this grace. We become personal recipients of that grace as we believe and trust in HIm. We receive not only God’s love but the salvation and ever-present relationship with Him that flows from it.

“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith–and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God”  (Ephesians 2:8)

From beginning to end the reality of God, and the relationship that we can have with Him, is revealed and assured in the reality of Jesus Christ who entered into the reality of human life to bring to it a new and eternal reality with God.

Response:
Consider the reality of the cross. God speaks through it to each one personally.

Prayer:

Lord Jesus, help me to look not to myself but to You, and to continually receive the wonder of God’s grace and love. Amen.

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Power for me

“For the message of the cross is foolishness
to those who are perishing,
 but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.”
(1 Corinthians 1:18)

Reflection:
There are many kinds of power visible in the world today. Some of it is used for good and some for evil purposes, some to build up and some to break down, some to heal and some to hurt. None of it can compare with the power of the Lord either to create or to re-create.

The greatest expression of God’s power is not in the wonder of creation, as awe-inspiring as it is. It is in the salvation that He has worked for us. Only He is able to transform a broken, sinful and sin ravaged life into one that is rich and full, made to be like that of Christ himself. Only He can take the pale shadow of our lives and bring us into the wonderful completeness that was His original vision for us. Only the power of God can promise and guarantee eternal life that death cannot harm. Only the power of God flows from a heart so filled with love that there is no power in existence that can stand against it or diffuse it. This is the power, about which Paul rejoices when he says,

  • “I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and his incomparably great power for us who believe.” (Ephesians 1:18-19)
  • “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)

That power is present in our lives even now, working to transform us and build us towards the fullness of that wonderful new creation that is ours in Christ. It is there to help us up again when we fall, to sustain us for the journey ahead, to enable us to cope with the pressures of life, and to do the work to which He guides us. And all the while He is leading us into a deeper awareness and appreciation of His love.

“It is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes.” (Romans 1:16)

Paul was enabled to then say,

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

Response:
Take a moment to acknowledge and receive it in your spirit.

Prayer:

Father when I am weak then You are strong. May Your strength be the blessing in my life. Please help me to know and receive it. Amen.

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Gifts of the Spirit

2017-02-16

“Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. To one there is given through the Spirit the message of wisdom, to another the message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues, and to still another the interpretation of tongues. All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he gives them to each one, just as he determines.”
(1 Corinthians 12:7-11)

Reflection:
Paul’s teaching, now, is very specific.

  • The appearance of the Holy Spirit is to be real for each Christian.
  • The Spirit gives a variety of gifts – some of which are mentioned here.
  • The Spirit gives one or more of these gifts to each Christian.

No believer is excluded. The Holy Spirit, with a specific gift, comes to each one. And each includes you, just as it includes me. Whatever else we may have to offer God, the ministry in which He wishes us to be involved will be based upon the gift that the Holy Spirit gives to us. This is God knowing what has to be done, choosing His team, and equipping them with what they will need. And the gift that the Spirit gives to us is the one that He will empower and bless. It may, or may not, be an extension of a talent that we have.

If we are going to be effective in our place in the ‘Body of Christ’ – where all should be working in harmony with each other and towards the same end – then we need to identify and become experienced in the use of our particular gift/s. We will, in all probability, find it in the area for which we have, or are developing, a God-given ability or passion as opposed to a self-centred desire. It is important to ask God to help you to identify it, and also to seek the prayer and discernment of mature Christians whom you trust. Its focus will be to bring glory to God and achieve His purposes.

You, and I, are so privileged to have been chosen, and called, into the salvation of Jesus Christ and into the ministry of the Holy Spirit, as the daughters and sons of the Eternal and Almighty God.

Response:
Determine to live out your new life and ministry to God’s glory, under the direction and empowerment of the Holy Spirit.

Prayer:

Lord God, please help me to identify my spiritual gifts and to use them in love for Your glory and the blessing of others. Amen.

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The Time is Now

2016-12-23

“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 through him to bless all the families of the world.  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 attraction and the so-called mystery religions had a more personal appeal.

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

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

Certainly God had chosen a good time – and may even 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.

Question:
Has the Lord become fully a part of my life?

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

Prayer:

Today 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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Spring-cleaning your temple

2016-09-16

“Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple
and that God’s Spirit lives in you?”
(1 Corinthians 3:16)

Reflection:
God looks upon temples as His places, set aside for His use and for His glory. When anything not of Him is introduced into them it is seen as a desecration.

Those who worship God in churches normally like to see them as not only clean but suitably furnished and decorated as well. Spotless linen, polished silverware, fresh flowers and well prepared services are in place not just for the congregations but as indications that the church is set aside for the worship and glory of God. By the same token there are activities that would not be considered suitable. Wild parties, organised fights, gambling, abuse of individuals and immorality would be totally out of place.

As Christians our bodies are also temples of the Holy Spirit.

“Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own” (1 Corinthians 6:19)

We have to be careful on two fronts. The first is that we do not engage in activities that would not be acceptable to God and His people. The second is that we do not allow such things to take place within us. Anger, bitterness, rejection of others, unforgiveness, selfish ambition, envy, greed, impurity and others all contaminate and diminish us and prevent us from being the person we could be with God’s help. They also, on a corporate level, prevent the church from being what it should be.

We know many of the thoughts, emotions and activities that have no place within our lives. These areas of our lives we should continually bring before the Lord, admitting our weakness and asking Him to cleanse and strengthen us. As we do so we can ask Him to help us to transfer our thoughts to other and more suitable things.

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things.”  (Philippians 4:6-8)

Response:
Make my accommodation more suitable for the Holy Spirit

Prayer:

Father help me to offer myself to You to be cleansed and healed of all impurity and lovelessness. Please pour Your love, light and life into me, in Jesus name, Amen.

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Fulfillment

2016.06.07

“Jesus Christ and him crucified.” 
(1 Corinthians 2:2)

Reflection:
Paul’s full statement is stunning in its simplicity and in the enormity of its implication.

Everything is about the Lord. It is His blood that purifies us from all sin. It is His sacrifice that atones for our sins – and for the sins of the whole world. And it is His relationship with us – and thereafter our relationship with Him – that is of prime importance. Paul and then John put it this way.

  • “For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.” (1 Corinthians 2:2)
  • “That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched–this we proclaim concerning the Word of life. The life appeared; we have seen it and testify to it, and we proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and has appeared to us.” (1 John 1:1-2)

The one eternal Reality, and the sole true Life, is revealed in Jesus Christ. Everything else must be viewed in relation to Christ Himself – and in His Light, His Life and the Love which He has revealed and expressed. There are no barriers now to our relationship with Him, except those which we insist on retaining – the attitudes and attributes of our worlds.

He continues to call us away from the darkness into His light, and from our lonely isolation into fellowship with Himself. He might well speak to us in the love song of the poet.

“And thou—what needest with thy tribe’s black tents
  Who hast the red pavilion of my heart?”

Paul had discovered that Jesus Christ in His life, death and resurrection was everything to him. He was all the truth that Paul needed to know and all the life for which he longed. He was also the way of his future life. To have this relationship with the Lord was to have everything and to lack nothing. The world no longer had anything of value to offer him. He had found Light, Life and Love – all that he could have desired and so much more.

Response:
Jesus Christ is enough

Prayer:

Lord Jesus, You have chosen to love me – please help me to let You love me  and to find my fulfilment and completion in You. Amen.

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