Softly, Spoke the River

The Light of Christ


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My Spiritual Gifts

“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:
The coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost was a reality. This was being ‘clothed with power,’ for which Jesus had told His disciples to wait before embarking on the Great Commission. This empowerment was not just of the spirit, mind and body – they were empowered with specific gifts. These were to be used in the course of their ministry, and to make them effective in the building of the Kingdom.

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.

It is our very great privilege and honour 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:
As a Christian I have received the Holy Spirit who has brought to me specific gifts to enable me to be an effective member of the Body of Christ.

Prayer:

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

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Set Free

“Now the Lord is the Spirit,
and where the Spirit of the Lord is,
there is freedom”
(2 Corinthians 3:17)

 

Reflection:
The Holy Spirit brings about a transformation in our lives to the extent that we allow Him. His purpose is to make us (more) like Christ. It is a process from one degree of glory to another.

The Spirit sets us free from our bondage to sin and death – and our bondage to the law. Jesus was never enslaved by the law but served God freely and in love. He fulfilled the requirements of the law not because of an external obedience to the law but because that was the type of person that He was. He loved God with all His heart because He was like that. He did not steal because He was not like that – not because the law said so.

When the Spirit sets us free from the law His transforming work begins to change us in the same way. We become holy and moral because that is the way He is (trans)forming us. When complete we would not do the things that the law forbids even if the law did not exist. Just like Jesus. So we do not wear obedience externally like baubles on a Christmas tree – we display the fruit of the Spirit of God because that is the way that our characters have been, and are being, (re)formed.

It does not all happen immediately but is a part of our Christian journey. Some of it can be quite painful as like Paul we bewail the fact that

“I do not understand what I do.
For what I want to do I do not do,
but what I hate I do”
(Romans 7:15)

We are growing into our new identity in Christ – day by day. We are learning to trust the Lord, let go of the things of the world, and embrace the new life that is already ours. And the more that we do so the more we begin to realise just how free He has really made us. I am free to be a person of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control in all ways – and at all times.

Response:
The new me is waiting from me

Prayer:

Most Holy Spirit fill me with Your Light, and Life and Love that I might more fully be the person I am created to be. Amen.

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Belonging

“Now you are the body of Christ,
and each one of you is a part of it”
 (1 Corinthians 12:27)

Reflection:
Something dramatic has happened to us as believers. We have received the Holy Spirit of God. He makes our new relationship with the Father into a living reality. He also unites us to Christ in a new way as we become a part of the Body of Christ – the visible sign of His presence in the world, directed and controlled by the Lord Himself as the Head.

  • “Now I want you to realize that the head of every man is Christ” (1 Corinthians 11:3)
  • “For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body–whether Jews or Greeks, slave or free–and we were all given the one Spirit to drink”  (1 Corinthians 12:13)
  • “And he is the head of the body, the church” (Colossians 1:18)

Now when we become united to Christ in His body we also become united to those who are also a part of that body. Our relationship with them becomes completely different as well for we are now brothers and sisters of each other and with the Lord Jesus, and are children together of the same Father.

 “In Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others”  (Romans 12:5)

What this means is not that other people have become like us, or we like them. What has happened to us all, and what we need to embrace, is that we have all left our previous backgrounds and identities and have stepped together into a new foreground in which we begin to explore our new relationship with the Lord and with each other. That this is important and what the Lord desires could not be clearer.

  • “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another” (John 13:34)
  • “By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another” (John 13:35)
  • “This is my command: Love each other” (John 15:17)

It is a journey of which we are all a part and in equal relationship. And if we are to discover and enjoy the blessings and fruit of our new identity and these new relationship we will let go of what will not be helpful.

In summary – the Holy Spirit leads us into and witnesses to the reality of our new identity in Christ and as a part of the Body of Christ. He works with us to unite us to the Lord and to each other. And He produces the blessings and fruit that God has prepared for us all and that are found only in Christ Jesus.

Response:
I cannot have two identities for I cannot have two Masters. Choose the one that gives life

Prayer:

Lord forgive me for holding onto the things and ways of my old world – help me to embrace freely the people and ways of Your new world and to enjoy all that You have prepared for me. Amen.

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Dedicated to God

“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)

 

Reflection:
Jesus had promised to His followers that He would send them the Holy Spirit. He would live with us and be in us. This is the same Spirit of God who descended upon Jesus at His baptism. He is known to us as God the Holy Spirit, the third person of the Holy Trinity.

As a Christian I am a son (child) of God, I am a friend of God, and the temple within which He lives. Paul’s use of the word temple is intentional. It is a place specifically built for and dedicated to God, and within which He is honoured, worshipped and glorified. Nothing foreign to this purpose and intention should be allowed to contaminate it – which is why Jesus was angered by what was taking place within the Jerusalem Temple and the reason for His cleansing it in such a dramatic way.

A friend will want to do what pleases the other which is why Jesus could say “you are my friends if you do what I command.” Not to do so would be a rejection of the relationship. So as temples chosen by God for His glory we should want to reflect His honour and glory both internally and externally – in body, mind and spirit. Not to do so would dishonour Him. When Jesus criticised the religious leaders of His day by calling them ‘white-washed tombs’ He was showing that their outward appearances were not supported by internal attitudes. There was death within them, not Life.

Response:
We have been chosen, called and confirmed to such privilege as the children, friends and temples of God. Humbly own the truth and live it.

Prayer:

Lord open my eyes to the truth of my salvation and my new identity in You.
Help me please to honour You in my life and living.
Amen.

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The New Me

“If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation;
the old has gone, the new has come!”
(2 Corinthians 5:17)

 

Reflection:
 I am a new creation – not physically but spiritually. The essential inner person is radically different – not changed but new. Therefore I am not the same old person any more – no matter my physical appearance. The old has gone – departed, been taken away, with all of its sin and deformity and separation from God. The new has come – is alive and in residence. The new and eternal me.

I have been born again. There are not now two of me, but just the one – the new one – growing to be like Christ. As this new person I am now reconciled to God. My sins have been dealt with and will no longer be counted against me (5:19) I must let go of the old and embrace my newness.

Although I may still sin I am no longer living in a state of sin and separation and death. I am alive with, and in, a new and eternal life – a life bound up in, dependent upon, and in union with Jesus Christ Himself. And God who has begun this new and wonderful work in me will Himself complete it.

“He who began a good work in you
will carry it on to completion
until the day of Christ Jesus”
(Philippians 1:6)

God has, as it were, given us a new heart and a new nature. Anything that remains of the old is like the lifeless twigs on the vine waiting to be pruned away or to wither and die – because the new life of Christ flowing in our veins has no part in them.

Response:
I am a new creation – no more in condemnation – here in the grace of God I stand

Prayer:

Lord help me to let go of the old and embrace the new me – born to eternity in You. Amen

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Smelling Good

“But thanks be to God,
who always leads us in triumphal procession in Christ
and through us spreads everywhere the fragrance
of the knowledge of him.”
(2 Corinthians 2:14)

 

Reflection:
Many years ago, as a young teenager, I was out with the rest of the boys in my form on a class picnic. In those days the only odour that meant anything to me was the delicious smell of a Sunday roast drifting out from the kitchen.  However coming down the side of the mountain I encountered a fragrance that stopped me in my tracks. Try as I might I could not find it again but its exquisite beauty was something that I have never forgotten.

Years later when I was reflecting on my journey of faith the Lord brought that incident to mind. He revealed to me that the fragrance was of Him as He passed by me – His intention being that He could later show me that even then He knew me and was calling me to Him.

Whenever I read the verse above I am reminded of that incredibly special moment. It seems to me that as Christians following in the triumphal footsteps of our great Lord we should bring to those around us a sense of that same beauty. There should be something so special attached to us in our being and our journey of life that it causes them to pause and try to identify what it is.

As disciples of our Lord, children of the heavenly Father and temples of the Holy Spirit there is every opportunity for the beauty of the Lord to colour our lives and to shine through them. It is not that we are special – but that the One who is with us and within us is.

Allow yourself to feed on the beauty of the love and grace of our Lord. Be conscious of Him as you live through your days – and seek to do everything as an offering to Him. Wherever possible leave behind you that gracious sense of peace and blessing which comes from our God who is with you.

Response:
Cover your life and your day with prayer – pray a blessing on each person and situation that you encounter, and on everything that you do.

Prayer:

Father how greatly You have blessed me – help me to be a blessing to others as well. Amen.

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Open up

“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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