Freshen Up

“Be filled with the Spirit”
(Ephesians 5:18)

 

Reflection:
We have a large swimming pool. It looks marvellously attractive and appealing when clear and sparkling. However that does not just happen. It needs a deal of maintenance –part of which involves clearing out the debris of old leaves and other things that end up there, as well as regular topping up. It surprises me just how much water is lost to daily evaporation.

Like this pool of water we also need regular clearing out and filling up again – to keep us fresh, clean and alive rather than stale and sluggish.  On the one hand we require a fresh release of the Holy Spirit – because as D.L Moody says “we leak.” On the other we cannot avoid becoming clogged now and then by the dirt of the world in which we live. We will need forgiveness when (not if) we sin, and healing of the pains and hurts that we have encountered on the journey.

Paul is writing in the continuous present tense which means that this ‘being filled with the Spirit’ is not a once off event but an ongoing process. Rather like the branch of a vine keeps drawing its sustenance and life from the vine all the time, so we cannot stop drawing on God. Another picture would be a river flowing into a pool of water – it cannot stop if the pool is to remain clear and alive.    

Response:

As I need to keep breathing the air of life so I need to keep receiving the Spirit of Life

Prayer:

Father thank You for the wonderful gift of the Holy Spirit. Holy Spirit please keep filling my life – cleansing me and setting me free from the sins and stains of the past and bringing me into the fullness of the life that You have for me in Jesus Christ my Lord and Saviour. Amen.

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New identity 3

“Having believed,
 you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit,
who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance
until the redemption of those who are God’s possession–
to the praise of his glory”
(Ephesians 1:13-14)

Reflection:
Our new identity in Jesus Christ is not merely a matter of words on a page, or of a promise of something to come – it is a present reality for believers.

Jesus promised that the Holy Spirit would come to us in a new way – in a relationship that was even closer to the one that His disciples enjoyed with Him. For whilst He was with them the Holy Spirit would be in them – and in us too.

“But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you”  (John 14:17)

Furthermore, Paul tells us now that He will be to us the ‘seal’ of God. That is a sign of ownership from God, indicating that we belong to Him in a new and unbreakable relationship. It is also a sign and a guarantee that we are under and within the power and protection of God Almighty. Lastly the Holy Spirit represents a deposit, or first payment, of our inheritance from God. The remainder of the blessings that God has provided for us are eternally secure and we will enter into and receive them in the fullness of time.

Paul underlines this new identity for us again when he writes,

“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)

Very clearly something remarkable has taken place. We are no longer the people of the world. We are no longer the products of our past with all its influences and allegiances. Our new and primary identity now is as the people of God – even more, as the children of God, His daughters and sons, both now and through all eternity. And as such

nothing “in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:39)

This is what we are called to live out with Him.

Response:
As a believer I have received the Holy Spirit – I am a precious daughter/son of God – He is my eternal Father

Prayer:

Holy Spirit I am so glad that You are a part of my life. Please fill every part of me with Your presence and light, cleansing, healing and growing me, and filling me with the Father’s great love. Amen.

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Holy Belts

“Stand firm then
with the belt of truth
buckled around your waist”
(Ephesians 6:14)

 

Reflection:
Paul is describing the armour of God to be worn by all God’s people. The first piece of equipment to be put on is the belt of truth. Buckled around our waists it is central to our life and living –and so much else will depend upon it.

There are two complementary strands to this belt of truth. The first is the revelation of God in Jesus Christ and in Scripture. Day and night we need to be clothed with the Word of God to keep us safe from the lies of the enemy, to feed and strengthen our faith and to guide us in the way we live.

The second strand is that of our own sincerity and integrity. As people of the Truth we are called to be those who live truthfully and honestly at all times and in all areas.

There may be times in life when we need to ‘tighten our belts’ as we face some particular challenge. This would mean holding on to a central truth – rather like Paul when he said that,

“I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified” (1 Corinthians 2:2)

This belt of truth worn at the centre of our being reminds us that we are to

“Count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus” (Romans 6:11)

Response:
Is my belt secure and strong – or are there holes in it?

Prayer:

Lord God, as Your redeemed and beloved child, help me to embrace the truth with delight, and seek to make it a part of my everyday life to You honour and glory. Amen.

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Love of God 20

“But because of his great love for us,
God, who is rich in mercy,
 made us alive with Christ
even when we were dead in transgressions–
it is by grace you have been saved”
(Ephesians 2:4-5)

Reflection:
God is a God of Love.

LOVE

Love bade me welcome: yet my soul drew back,
Guilty of dust and sin.
But quick-eyed Love, observing me grow slack
From my first entrance in,
Drew nearer to me, sweetly questioning
If I lacked anything.

“A guest,” I answered, “worthy to be here”:
Love said, “You shall be he.”
“I, the unkind, ungrateful? Ah, my dear,
I cannot look on thee.”
Love took my hand, and smiling did reply,
“Who made the eyes but I?”

“Truth, Lord; but I have marred them; let my shame
Go where it doth deserve.”
“And know you not,” says Love, “who bore the blame?”
“My dear, then I will serve.”
“You must sit down,” says Love, “and taste my meat.”
So I did sit and eat.

(George Herbert  1593 – 1633)

 

Response:
His love is a gift – not to be earned but to be received. We cannot serve God unless we allow Him to first serve us.

Prayer:

Lord I come to You because You have come to me. Amen.

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What I am

“For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus”
(Ephesians 2:10)

Reflection:
 I am not what the world has made of me. I am who and what God created me to be, and into which He is leading me and expressing through me.

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

However, this newness is not something or someone that God has recently dreamed up. My true identity and nature goes back into the mists before our time began. And God is restoring me into that image which has all the beauty of something new and untarnished – a someone I have never seen or even imagined.

“For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will”
(Ephesians 1:4-5)

George Appleton, in his beautiful and deeply insightful prayer, expressed it like this,

“Give me a candle of the Spirit,
O God,
as I go down into the depths of my being.
Show me the hidden things,
the creatures of my dreams,
the storehouse of forgotten memories
and hurts.
Take me down
to the spring of my life,
and tell me my nature and my name.
Give me freedom to grow,
so that I may become that self,
the seed of which  You planted in me at my making.”

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Live Higher

“Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling
and slander, along with every form of malice”
(Ephesians 4:31)

Reflection:
As we saw at the beginning of the week Paul encourages us to

“purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit,
perfecting holiness out of reverence for God”
( 2 Corinthians 7:1)

This is not just another requirement that is laid upon us but a call to increasingly see God as He really is and to see ourselves as He has recreated us and is transforming us to be.

He is the Lord God Almighty – the God of majesty, power, purity and holiness – and deserves to be revered and honoured, worshipped and glorified. And we now are not merely a bunch of graceless sinners but the daughters and sons of the great and glorious Lord and God. So just as He is wondrously holy we too are called to be holy – allowing His image to shine in and through us.

It is in this context and for these reasons that Paul calls us to look to our lives and to live out and up to our great calling by our glorious God. So just as we do not see bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander and malice in the character and life of God – and would be alarmed if we did – they should not be seen in our own lives and emotions. And instead of embracing or allowing them as natural reactions we should be recognising that they do not belong – and that we do not wish for them to be a part of our redeemed lives – because we are now different and wanting to live to our higher calling and identity.

Response:
Be the new you – and keep asking the Lord to fill you with His healing and love

Prayer:

Father God, please help me to want to be more like You and to live it out – and please continue to pour Your love into my heart by the Holy Spirit whom You have given to us. Amen

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God’s Revelation

“I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ,
the glorious Father,
may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation,
so that you may know him better”
(Ephesians 1:17)

 

Reflection:
Paul has been talking about our new life in Jesus Christ. He refers to our not being with Christ but, far more intimately, ‘in Christ.’ This expression and variations on it occur 164 times in his letters.

To be in Christ is to become a part of His life and living right where we are, how we are and who we are, at this moment in time – and to continue in that Way. It is to be personally and vitally united to Christ – as branches are to the vine and members to the body. It is to come to know the Lord Jesus as a personal and living reality – and to know that in some mysterious and spiritual way He lives within us. ‘It is this personal relationship with Christ that is the distinctive mark of His authentic followers’ (Stott)

Paul now reveals that a part of his prayers is that God will “give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better.” This immediately gives us the insight that is should be a part of our own prayers as well. Note that he is not praying that we will know more about God – as in the accumulation of knowledge – but that we will get to know Him more and more as the Person that He is and in so doing deepen our relationship with Him as well as our knowledge of Him.

This knowing God better and knowing more of Him comes not through study alone but through God’s revelation of Himself to us. Elsewhere Paul would write that

  • You … may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ” (Ephesians 3:18)
  • “God (will) fill you with the knowledge of his will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding” (Colossians 1:9)
  • “your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight” (Philippians 1:9)

 Adolphe Monod wrote that “Philosophy taking man for its centre says know thyself; only the inspired word which proceeds from God has been able to say know God.” That is both our calling and God’s desire for us. He wishes us to have and to enjoy a personal and deepening relationship with Him – both now and throughout eternity. And it is only through coming to know God as our Creator and Redeemer that we have any possibility of really coming to know ourselves – both as we are and as He intends us to be.

Response:
Ask the Lord to reveal Himself to you – and look out for Him in His Word and in your prayer life and living.

Prayer:

Father God, please bless me with Your Spirit of wisdom and revelation so that I may know You better. And please help me to be aware of Your reaching out to me, to recognise it and treasure it. as You draw me into a more meaningful relationship with you. Amen.

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