Love Lavished

“How great is the love the Father has lavished on us,
that we should be called children of God!
And that is what we are!”
(1 John 3:1)

 

Reflection:
God has made a covenant with us. No one made Him do it – He committed Himself because He wished to. He reached out because He wanted us – you, and me and them. This was not the craving of acquisition and hoarding – it was and is His great desire founded upon His deep and everlasting love. So powerful is this love that He does two amazing things.

  • He removes the barrier between Him and us in the great sacrifice for sin of Jesus Christ
  • He offers us the freedom to become His sons and daughters – not just second-rate children but ‘co-heirs with Christ’ of all that He has.

It is small wonder then that John, the beloved apostle, should marvel as he does,

“How great is the love the Father has lavished on us,
that we should be called children of God!
And that is what we are!”

There can be no possible doubt about this for at the beginning of his gospel John proclaims,

“Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God– children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.”
(John 1:12-13)

To be a child of God – His son, His daughter – what an amazing privilege, what an unsought and unimaginable blessing, what an enormous and incalculable sacrifice – what love!

Response:
Take time today and through the weekend to contemplate, unpack and savour these great truths for yourself. Begin to own them.

Prayer:

Lord open my spirit and my heart to the wonders of Your great love – for me and for all humankind. Help me “ to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge–that (I) may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.” (Ephesians 3:18-19)

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Add some yeast

“The kingdom of heaven is like yeast
that a woman took and mixed into a large amount of flour
until it worked all through the dough.”
(Matthew 13:33)

Reflection:
So often Jesus used everyday activities as the source from which He drew His parables.

Bread without yeast can be hard, dry, unappetising and uninteresting. The introduction of yeast makes it soft, porous and spongy, tasty and good to eat. My aunt used to make bread and often when we were at her house there would be a line of small boys waiting to get their hands on thick, warm slices after it came from the oven.

Like the yeast, once it is added to the dough, the Kingdom of God may appear to be invisible. This is particularly true of the world in which we live. However it does not mean that God is inactive. I have been particularly aware recently not only of God at work in my own life but of His involvement and blessings in the lives of others. This is so often the way that He operates. He enters into and transforms the lives of those of His people who are open to it – so that they in turn may bless and influence the lives and situations around them. In this way it becomes visible through its effect.

Just as we have needs – for acknowledgement, encouragement, love, healing, understanding and assistance, to name but a few – so do those around us. We will begin to see it if we look at people instead of past them. We all have within us the ability and capability to spread ‘a bit of yeast’ into someone else’s life every day. In this way the Kingdom begins to spread and grow.

Response:
Let the yeast of God’s love, revealed through His Word and His Spirit, work its transformation in your own life – and through you.

Prayer:

 Lord help me to embrace Your love, soak in Your Word, be enlivened by Your Spirit, and bless those around me.  Amen.

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Light Feet

“The Sovereign LORD is my strength;
he makes my feet like the feet of a deer,
he enables me to go on the heights.”
(Habakkuk 3:19)

Reflection:
Try as we might there are some things that we cannot do – things that are beyond our power and ability. We are mortally human. We are still greatly influenced by the things of the world as well as the actions, reactions and imperfections of others and ourselves. And the peace and joy that come from the world are very fragile and can be shattered within a moment.

The Sovereign Lord is my strength. He is Almighty and none can stand in His way when He chooses to act and to bless. The closer I am to Him the closer He is to me and the more His presence sustains and uplifts me – no matter what the world may be throwing at me at that particular moment. My vulnerability becomes the opportunity for His love and strength to bless me. My aloneness is the gap which opens the way for His presence to become more real and wonderful.

I cannot dance in the spirit unless His Spirit inspires my spirit and gives life and lightness to my feet. Only He can take me to the heights, only in Him am I enabled to mount up on wings like eagles – to soar, even for a moment, up into a new atmosphere, to new heights from which I can gain another perspective, and in which I am strengthened to go back into the valleys again with a new hope, faith and purpose.

God is my everything. In Him I live and move and have my being. He is my life, my light and my love. He is both the healing and the blessing of my yesterdays; He is the strength and the joy of my todays; and He is the hope and the fulfilment of my tomorrows.

And if I allow Him to embrace and feed me in the light I will know that He is still there in the passing darkness.

Response:
Choose to be in God’s presence today and to rest in Him.

Prayer:

Father, help me to draw closer to You so that You can draw closer to me. I put my hope and trust in You. Amen.

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My Dad and me

“Jesus said, “Do not hold on to me,
for I have not yet returned to the Father.
Go instead to my brothers and tell them,
`I am returning to my Father and your Father,
to my God and your God.'”

(John 20:17)

Reflection:
There is a most wonderful and meaningful progression in the way that Jesus refers to His disciples. In the story of The Vine we see the first progression when He tells them that

“I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you” (John 15:15)

Originally they would have been His servants. Now they have been elevated to the position of friends – which would have been very significant and a great honour. But more was to come and this could only happen after He had dealt with their sins on the Cross and brought them into a completely new relationship with God as their eternal Father. Now He could, and indeed did, refer to them as “My brothers”.

This was their, and is now our, true and complete relationship with God. We are His eternal sons and daughters and Jesus is our eternal brother. So complete is this adoption that we have now become joint heirs with Christ of all that God is and has.

“For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs–heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory” (Romans 8:15-17)

This must affect the way in which we think about God and relate to Him in our thoughts and prayers. I am no longer on the outside – looking hopefully in through the window. I am now forever entitled to be in His presence, freely and welcomed, honoured and blessed. I am the son/daughter of the Living God and His Son is my Brother.

And note that Jesus puts us on the same level as Himself when He refers to “My Father and your Father, to My God and your God.” We are not second class family members we are there at the top with our Lord Jesus – from the moment that we give our lives to Him as our Saviour and Lord.

Response:
Let the truth sink in  – and thank and praise God for the wonder of it.

Prayer:

Father, my Father, my Abba, my Dad – thank You so very much for loving me back into life and bringing me home to You. You are so amazingly wonderful!

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Journey of Faith

“Remember the wonders he has done,
his miracles, and the judgments he pronounced”
(1 Chronicles 16:12)

Reflection:
God’s people have been called to remember the great things that He has done for them. Some of these are recalled in the great feasts of the Israelites that celebrate, amongst others, the Passover, the Exodus and the Giving of the Law of the Covenant at Sinai.

The Christian Church celebrates the Birth of Jesus, His Death, Resurrection and Ascension, and the Day of Pentecost as major events that need to be remembered and for which we honour God. In addition, when He celebrated the Last Supper with His disciples, Jesus made it clear that they were to continue to remember Him the same way.

In each of our lives there will be moments where God has intervened and/or revealed Himself or a new truth to us. These are incredibly special and personal events that must not be forgotten or taken for granted. Our great God has recognised and loved us as individuals. When we remember them and rejoice over them again our faith is strengthened and our relationship with the Lord affirmed.

We benefit ourselves so much when we remember our own journey of faith with God. Go back as far as you can in your life and journey slowly forward again – making notes as you do. Ask and allow Him to remind you of the special times when He has reached out to you or responded to you or drawn your attention to something that He has done. Recall the Scripture verses that have been special and helpful, relive the moments of beauty and wonder, recognise His hand in the pain and fear, and acknowledge where He has saved, helped, forgiven and blessed you – in fact everything that He has done.

Response:
“What is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him?” (Psalm 8:4)

Prayer:

Dear God, thank You so  much for being a part of my life – for loving and caring for me every step of the way – and for the way that You have revealed Yourself and Your beauty to me. As little as I can I want to say ‘I love and trust You Father’. Bless You. Amen.

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Love Lavished on us

“The grace of our Lord was poured out on me abundantly,
along with the faith and love
that are in Christ Jesus.”
(1 Timothy 1:14)

Reflection:
If there are three words that characterize God’s relationship with us they are these – Grace, Faith and Love.

God’s love is the foundation.

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)

God’s grace is the fruit of His great and boundless love. It is by this grace that our salvation became possible and a living reality in Jesus Christ.

“for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.” (Romans 3:23-24)

God’s faith is His gift to us so that we might believe and be saved into an eternal and living relationship with Him.

“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith–and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God– not by works, so that no one can boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9)

All three are God’s gifts to us and, as Paul says, they are poured out ‘abundantly.’ John puts it slightly differently but uses another word that overflows with meaning.

“How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!” (1 John 3:1)

The only limit that is placed upon this abundant and lavish outpouring of God’s love is our preparedness to  receive, respond and rejoice in an ever increasing and deepening way. They are not gifts that we receive like medals and pin to the outside of our lives. They are spiritual gifts given by the Holy Spirit to our spirits – there to grow and bear fruit from deep within us, and to influence every aspect and part of our life and living.

But we can restrict and impede their development. We do this by our refusal to respond and by our persistence in focussing on our problems and the pleasures, values and provisions of the world. We do it also by limiting Him to the level of the understandings of our minds. As a result we miss out terribly on the joy and potential of our relationship with the Lord, and on who we could be as His living sons and daughters.

Response:
Ask God in –  practice walking and talking with Him through the days – and breathe in His love

Prayer:

Lord, please help me in allowing You to become a greater part of my life – and my becoming a greater part of Yours. Amen.

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Just Grace

“But he said to me,
“My grace is sufficient for you,
for my power is made perfect in weakness.”
(2 Corinthians 12:9)

Reflection:
All my life I have lived in an environment of work and rewards, failure and consequences. A poor self-image did not help, and left me vulnerable to either fearing the worst or willing to believe the tempter’s whispers that I was not good enough. Any success or popularity surprised me and I could imagine that it would not last. Always there was the thought that I had not done enough to earn or retain God’s love. Sin devastated me – not just because of what it was, but because I felt that I might now be cast off by God. Why should He love me, and continue to love me, when I knew how unlovable I was, and how unworthy.

Slowly I began to learn that it was not all about me. It was about God. It was not a question of what I was like but of what God is like. It was not a test to see how much I loved God, but a revelation of how much He loves me. It was not even a matter of how much I achieved for Him, but of what He can achieve for me and through me and around me. That’s the trouble with insecurity and sin, it makes us the centre. The wonder of love is that someone else is the centre.

God’s grace at work – not telling us that sin does not matter; not telling us that our weaknesses are good. Just loving us, accepting the tiny amount of love for Him and faith that we have, and pouring out His smiling, laughing, thrilling, loving and forgiving Grace all the time. And, calling us always forward and closer to Him into the life that is truly Life, the way that is the only Way, the Truth that is beyond all truths.

Hear these words:

  • “I have loved you with an everlasting love”  (Jer 31:3)
  • “It is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast” (Eph 2:10)
  • “My grace is sufficient for you” (2 Cor 12:9)
  • Nothing “in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom 8:39)

Response:
Just trust Him – His love, His sacrifice and His grace. Ask Him to help you. Stop looking at yourself – look at Him instead.

Prayer:

Father, Thank You for a love and grace that is beyond understanding. Please help me to allow You to fill me with Your love and grace and to live in their reality. Amen.

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