Softly, Spoke the River

The Light of Christ


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God our Saviour

“After he had provided purification for sins,
He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven”
(Hebrews 1:3)

Reflection:
We have looked at Jesus Christ as the pinnacle of God’s revelation, as the Lord of Creation and as the Son of the Father. Now we move on to see this Divine Son as the Saviour of sinners as well.

Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners from the wrath of God and from everlasting separation.

  • “For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” (Matthew 9:13)
  • ‘Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners” (1 Timothy 1:15)
  • “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8)

Jesus was not an angel who had volunteered or one of the heavenly host forced to sacrifice himself, nor was He an arbitrary human selected by God because of some nearly perfect characteristic. He was and is God the Son.

  • “Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness” (Philippians 2:6-7)

And now, having achieved the purpose for which He was sent, He sits in glory, majesty and power at the right hand of God the Father Almighty. And in this position He has not abandoned us but continues to pray for us.

  • “He is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them” (Hebrews 7:25)

Jesus Christ is totally committed to us and to our salvation. We see it in His coming amongst us in human likeness, in his death upon the cross on our behalf, in His ongoing dedication of Himself to prayer and in His presence within us through the Holy Spirit.  This same Lord Jesus is coming again.

Response:
Jesus is God my Saviour and my Lord

Prayer:

Lord Jesus I owe You both my present and my future life. Thank You for Your total commitment to me through yesterday, today and tomorrow, and for being both my beginning and my destination. Amen.

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God with us

“In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets
at many times and in various ways,
but in these last days
he has spoken to us by his Son”
 (Hebrews 1:1-2)

Revelation:
Next Sunday the Christian Church begins the season of Advent. It marks the start of the Church’s year as it prepares to celebrate the birth amongst us of Jesus Christ the Son of God. We will start our journey today, and begin this week to look at Jesus Christ as the Divine Son.

This Jesus Christ, about to be born into the world, is the pinnacle of God’s revelation of Himself and of His purpose.  Throughout history as recorded in the Old Testament God has revealed Himself and His will through His chosen and appointed prophets. However this revelation was both partial and progressive as He began to unfold His will before His people and respond to their attitude towards Him.

In Jesus Christ His revelation of Himself is both complete and final. The Christ becomes God’s last word to His world for there is nothing more to be added in terms of Himself, His purpose and His love. Jesus Himself would put it this way,

“Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father”
(John 14:9)

The Majesty of Genesis 1, the Intimacy of Genesis 2 and the Forgiveness hinted at in Genesis 3 are all found in Jesus Christ.  He controls the powers of nature and exercises His will with a word, offers life and purpose to those around Him, and extends forgiveness to the fallen sinners.

To understand more of the Father we study and follow His Son Jesus.

Response:
 Contemplate the wonder of the Son of God being born amongst us. This is Immanuel – God with us. (Matthew 1:23)

Prayer:

Lord open my eyes to the truth and wonder found in the person and revelation of the Lord Jesus Christ – and help me to receive Him more fully into my own life. Amen.

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Such Love

“Then Jesus told them this parable: “Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Does he not leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbours together and says, `Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’ I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.”
(Luke 15:3-7)

Reflection:
The depth and extent of God’s love stands in striking contrast to the legalistic attitudes of the world.

The Pharisees and the teachers of the law were very critical of Jesus association with those whom they deemed to be sinners. Their regulations laid down that they were to have no dealings with such people. In fact, according to William Barclay, the strict Jews had the view that ‘there will be joy in heaven over one sinner who is obliterated before God.’

Jesus view was diametrically opposed to this – and in fact He would teach that

“the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost.”
(Luke 19:10)

This is borne out in the parable where Jesus shows that He will track down the lost – seeking to find them and to bring them safely back to their home and relationship with God. And, in each case, He tells us there will be great ‘rejoicing in heaven.’ This gives us another indication of just how special we are to God! This same Jesus is with us always through the Holy Spirit and, if we do go astray, will come after us to find and recover us.

No matter how close we are to the Lord there may yet be areas of our lives that are still ‘lost’ to Him. Rooms within us where He is knocking on the door, asking to be allowed in so that He may bring light, forgiveness, healing and restoration. His love for us is such that He cannot bear to stand by and watch us hobble along spiritually. And what joy it brings to Him when He is permitted to enter and know the blessing that it brings to us and, through us, to others.

Response:
Ask God to show you where He is knocking – and deliberately invite Him in to be Saviour and Lord in that area as well.

Prayer:

Lord God thank You so much that You tracked me down and saved me. Please help me to allow You more fully into my life so that I may be more completely a part of Yours. 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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See Me there

“The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth,
whatever you did for one of the least
of these brothers and sisters of mine,
you did for me”
(Matthew 25:40)

 

Reflection:
Marcus Borg wrote that

“The principal suffering of the poor
is shame and disgrace”

For so many of them everything about their lives speaks of failure and inadequacy. And whilst handouts may alleviate an immediate need it may make them feel even worse about themselves if done dismissively – to get rid of them! It doesn’t do us any good either!

“If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames,
but have not love, I gain nothing”

(1 Corinthians 13:3)

On the other hand help, whether short-term or long-term, offered in the right spirit can carry with it the message that they are valuable. Then both the body and the spirit are blessed.

Jesus reminded us that even those who occupy the very lowest rungs on the social ladder are precious in His sight – so precious that He identified Himself with them completely.

“For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me”
(Matthew 25:35-36)

Not all of the poor are beggars. There are many who are desperately trying to make ends meet, and have little or no room in their lives for anything except worry and fear. If we become aware of them then we could make a difference in their lives – directly or anonymously.

Jesus showed us that He was not just a ‘man for others.’ As Greg Boyle makes clear He was primarily a ‘man with others.’ He did not merely act as their champion, He became one of them – He became the outcast, the homeless, the prisoner and the crucified one. In fact in real terms He became one with me – for without Him I too was an outcast from God, homeless from heaven, a prisoner to sin and with no hope in my life.

Response:
“Love one another as I have loved you”

Prayer:

Lord Jesus, lead me into the love that sees, that cares and that acts –as You have done for me. Amen.

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Gentle Grace

“Let your conversation be always full of grace,
seasoned with salt,
so that you may know how to answer everyone.”
(Colossians 4:6)

Reflection:
We have something so valuable to contribute when we are with others. As people of grace, loved, called and saved by the Lord, we can share aspects of His love and beauty with them.

There is no call for us to enter into conversations of destructive gossip or negativity. With the salvation and hope that we have in Jesus Christ we are the ones to share hope, affirmation and understanding instead.  We have been accepted by God, we do not therefore have to look for acceptance from others by joining them in what they are doing.

As the light of the world and the salt of the earth our contribution in any situation should be positive and uplifting, particularly in what we say and the way in which we say it. Accordingly we must be very careful to avoid deliberate, or careless, criticism or slander of anyone else. Bad language, swearing and blasphemy should not be a part of our speech on any occasion, no matter how great the provocation. If any of this is happening around us, and we do not feel able to challenge it, then we need to consider walking away from it. Failing even that, we can keep silent and pray!

Throughout the day most of us will meet with a variety of people. Some we will know well, others casually and some will be strangers to us. In every case there is the opportunity, in the way that we speak and in what we say, to leave a positive impression. It is often so easy to bring a smile to someone’s face by a deliberate appreciation of something that they have done, even by an acknowledgement of their name and presence. And remember that if someone is angry or critical towards us, either with or without cause, there is no reason for us to become angry and abusive in return. We can choose our response remembering that,

“A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger” (Proverbs 15:1)

If we set out in the morning with the intention of speaking love and encouragement into people’s lives, we will end the day having made a marked difference in many of them. For some it may have completely transformed their day and attitude. Not a bad result!

Response:
Just do it!

Prayer:

Father, I know what a difference it makes in my life to receive affirmation, encouragement and compliments. Help me to be a Love-giver into the lives of those around me – for Jesus sake, Amen.

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Soul’s Anchor

“We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure.
It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain,
where Jesus, who went before us, has entered on our behalf.”
(Hebrews 6:19-20)

 

Reflection:
In the ancient world the anchor was the symbol of hope. Wisdom, great-heartedness and courage were seen as anchors that few storms could shake. However the writer to the Hebrews insists that the Christian possesses the strongest anchor as the greatest hope in the world.

Our hope is in Jesus Christ. In Him it is now anchored in the very presence of God Himself.

In the Temple the Holy of Holies was the most sacred place of all. It was here that God was believed to dwell. Separated from the remainder of the Temple by a heavy curtain, only the High Priest was allowed to enter. This was once a year on the Day of Atonement. Now, the writer tells us, Jesus has entered into that Holy Presence on our behalf. In doing so He has opened the way to God for every person at any time. No barrier now separates us from the Almighty Father. It was torn apart as Jesus died on the Cross.

Jesus is our immovable anchor in the presence of God Himself. We are bound to Him by the unbreakable chain of faith. Jesus is also the anchor in our spirits. Here the love and acceptance of God is eternally secured within us through the Holy Spirit.

Although we are called to a new way of life and living we no longer have to strive for acceptance. As Christians we belong. We may enter into the presence of God, into His heart of love, into His arms of acceptance, whenever we wish. Which is why He can say to us,

“In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength.” (Isaiah 30:15)

Response:
Put your faith and trust in our great Lord. Imagine the unbreakable bond that secures you to Him, and Him to you.

Prayer:

O Yes Lord Jesus! I believe – help my unbelief. Thank You so much that 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) Amen.

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