God working in me

“It is God who works in you to will and to act
according to his good purpose”
(Philippians 2:13)

Reflection:
The full extent of the love and grace and majesty of God is awe-inspiring.

He has a purpose and plan for His creation which very much includes us. He has been working towards the fulfillment of this plan from the beginning and has elected to do so by involving the people whom He has chosen. Notwithstanding the fact that they – and we – have at times gone horribly astray and got things terribly wrong He has nevertheless worked in them for good.

As He calls us into relationship with Him we become an active part of the outworking of His purpose. To enable us to take our proper place He gives us, through the Holy Spirit, the particular gifts that we will need and that He wants to see at work in our situations. These are not haphazard but carefully chosen and endowed. With them, and also through the Holy Spirit, He gives us the guidance and strength we need to be a part of His ministry.

Because we remain a work in progress we very often continue to get things wrong and to complicate everything with our own desires and agendas – both individually and corporately and as the Church. But God – our loving, forgiving and  patient God – keeps on working with us and is able in time to change our wills and the Church’s will, and to re-direct our actions and the Church’s actions, until His purpose has been achieved.

And because it is God’s purpose that is being worked out we have the confidence of knowing that is will be achieved in all its fullness. Whether through our human frailty,  obstinacies or inadequacies, or through the active opposition of others, there is no obstruction of barrier that will fatally impede of impair this work.

My contribution might seem to be completely insignificant and not worth the effort. However in God’s eyes it is of great value – which is why He built it and me into His great vision and design. And this is true of each and every me who reads this.

Response:
I have a significant purpose in this year and in this life – and an eternal position in the next.

Prayer:

Lord God You have called me – help me please to will and to act according to Your good purpose. Amen.

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Make Room For Him

 

“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 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.

However there is a key point 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 pushed out by the affairs of the 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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Dreamed a dream

“An angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.”
(Matthew 1:20-21)

 

Reflection:
In all that God was doing He did not for a moment forget a man called Joseph, whose life also was to be changed forever. When he found out that Mary was pregnant Joseph could have publicly broken off the proposed marriage and exposed Mary not only to shame and ridicule but to the harsh provisions of the law. Because he did not want to do this he considered divorcing her quietly.

It was probably too much to expect that Joseph would unquestioningly accept Mary’s account of what had happened. It had never occurred before in the history of the world and would undoubtedly never happen again. He must have been bitterly disappointed and hurt at what he saw to be a terrible betrayal of their relationship and a rejection of their planned future.

God did not hold this against him but instead sent an angel to him in a dream. So vivid was the experience and so real the message that Joseph, on waking, seems not to have hesitated but to have believed and obeyed God immediately. We can read these words very easily – but perhaps need to ask ourselves what sort of a dream would cause us to both change our minds and our planned course of action so dramatically. The question would arise again when we ask what sort of a dream would cause us to wake the next morning and immediately set about taking our family to live in Egypt – as Joseph was to do later.

God was working powerfully and specifically, and was ensuring that His word was received, understood and obeyed. He had also chosen His man very carefully. Joseph and Abraham are just two examples of people who heard and obeyed the word of God. The fruit of their obedience would turn out to be far greater and more important than they could have imagined at the time. Each one of us is also called to the same commitment and obedience. We may not all receive such startling and consequential messages but there is more than enough of God’s direction in the Gospels and Epistles for us to be getting on with in our daily lives.

He does call each of us to a particular ministry and work and equips us with specific gifts suitable for this ministry. We too will find our fulfilment and joy in doing what God calls us to do, and not in asking Him to help us in what we might want to do! The ministry starts right where we are, with our accepting and trusting God’s call and word.

Question:
How open are we to God’s call on our lives?

Response:
What will be my legacy?

Prayer:

Father it is difficult to say at times but – Your will be done on earth (in my life) as it is in heaven, Amen.

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His eye on me

“She gave this name to the LORD who spoke to her:
“You are the God who sees me,”
(Genesis 16:13)

Reflection:
Hagar was Sarai’s Egyptian servant. 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 Sarai 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 Sarai and then shared with her something of what the Lord would do for her son whom 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 and understands them and their pain.  The truth is that God does care and that He has a plan and purpose for our lives – even when we feel that we are outside of His main plans and purpose.

Hagar could tell Him where she had come from but not 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, like with Hagar – to remain where we have been for the time being.

We will know that He is with us and that our lives and times are within 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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Slim Down

“Let us throw off everything that hinders”
 (Hebrews 12:1)

Reflection:
Everyone who has ever been on a long hike will understand the handicap of trying to carry too much baggage – as will any athlete. So it is with our Christian walk – our journey with Christ.

There will be things that we have accumulated over the years – attitudes, habits, associations and indulgences – that weigh us down and distract us.  They will even prevent us from experiencing to the full the love and intimacy of the Lord, and fulfilling His desire for us.

Some things are easy to lay aside when we recognise them. Others may be more difficult. Some we may not wish to lose. Yet Jesus made it clear that He is offering us a choice that does not involve ‘both – and.’ He taught that we cannot have two Masters – we need to choose one. He affirmed in the Great Commandment that we cannot have two Lovers. And He did not come to offer us two lives, but one eternal life starting here and now. Until we make the choice, and invest our lives in the One great Love, we will be our own worst enemy, juggling our way through two lives – the one focussed on us and the other on the Lord. Neither will prove to be satisfying.

As we fill our lives with more of the Lord in all that we think and say and do we will have less space and time for other things and can begin to let them go. We will also recognise what is hindering us and dragging us off course and can look at pruning them away. There is One Lord who is the One Way, the One Truth and the One Life – and that is all there needs to be.

Response:
Make/Affirm your choice. Tackle your excess baggage one piece at a time. Pray for guidance and help. Keep at it.

Prayer:

Lord, please help me to recognise and lay aside the things that weigh me down and distract me in my journey with You. May You increasingly become my all in all and my great eternal Love. Amen.

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Get it right

“Do not be wise in your own eyes;
fear the LORD and shun evil.”
(Proverbs 3:7)

Reflection:
The only one with complete knowledge and total understanding is God. He is also the only one who has total and absolute power and authority.

As Christians therefore our starting point must always be with God and in our having a very healthy respect for Him. As the Psalmist says,

“The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom” (Psalm 111:10)

It follows then that whatever the Lord says needs to be taken seriously. What He calls evil is, therefore, evil and should be shunned. What He calls good is good, and should be embraced. God does not adjust His opinions and values on the basis of our debates, desires and decrees. The Gospels and Epistles have some very clear teaching on Christian living to which we need to adapt our living. They are there for our guidance and to prevent us from falling into the trap of our own reasoning and desires.

The Message puts it very helpfully his way.

“Don’t assume that you know it all. Run to GOD! Run from evil!”

Response:
Do a faith check this weekend to see where you might be casual, ignorant or worldly in your attitude to life and to the Lord.

Prayer:

Holy Spirit please lead me deeper into the truth – and draw me closer to the Lord in thought, word and deed. Amen.

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Always Two Choices

“Now choose life, so that you and your children may live
and that you may love the LORD your God, listen to his voice,
and hold fast to him. For the LORD is your life”
 (Deuteronomy 30:19-20)

Reflection:
Very clearly were the two options set out before the Israelites. They could choose to go their own way or that of the Lord. God’s way came with His promise of His presence and blessing – whilst the other way would inevitably lead to death and destruction.

Every day we are faced again with the same choice. Do I walk God’s way or the way of the world – for it is very clear that much of the world had chosen another path.

God calls us to love and honour Him, to listen to what He says and to obey Him, to hold on to Him and never let go – in fact to walk in intimacy and trust with the majestic God of all creation. In doing so the nation was promised that His blessings would flow to both them and their children – a most wonderful bequest.

Depending upon where we are in life it can sometimes be a lonely decision – but individually we need to decide and to trust the Lord for His strength and protection. For indeed He is our life and there is no life without Him.

Response:
Choose God at every step of the way – it is much easier than trying to recover lost ground.

Prayer:

Lord God I do choose You, and I  Know that you have chosen me. Please help me to remain true to You as You will always be true to me. Amen.

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