Your life in me

“I am the vine; you are the branches.
If a man remains in me and I in him,
he will bear much fruit;
apart from me you can do nothing”
(John 15:5)

Reflection:
Time and again I return to Jesus teaching of the Vine. It is the first passage of Scripture that I intentionally studied and it still continues to inspire, refresh and delight me. It is filled with the grace and love of the Lord.

The key to life is our relationship with the Lord Jesus. If we are ‘connected’ to Him then His life flows into us. We also have access to our new identity and to the spiritual blessings that God has given to us in Christ.

As His life impacts ours and His Spirit flows into and through us then He brings transformation and new fruit – different to that which we produced through our old fallen nature. What a joy to know that this fruit is a product of His life touching our lives and not the work of our own stress and strain. His fruit is real and comes from within – it is not a display of glossy and artificial baubles hanging on our exterior like a Christmas tree and hiding the lack of true life inside. And whilst His work in me flourishes best with my prayerful co-operation it remains His work and not mine.

The most important part of our relationship is that I stay close to Him, focussed on Him, loving, listening and responding to Him and trusting Him. His life then flows more freely into mine, His fruit appears and His things happen in and through me.

Response:
“Be still – and know that I am God”

Prayer:

Thank You Lord Jesus for being the Vine to my branch. Thank You for Your life that flows into me, Your Spirit touching mine and Your fruit growing out. Thank You for Your beauty and love, gentleness and power, glory and majesty in me. Amen.

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Lord Jesus

“Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”
(Philippians 2:9-11)

 

Reflection:
The earliest, shortest and simplest of all the Christian creeds are the words “Jesus is Lord.” Those who made this confession in the early church were baptised and welcomed into the Christian community.

Paul also wrote that

  • “if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” (Romans 10:9)
  • “no one can say, “Jesus is Lord,” except by the Holy Spirit.” (1 Corinthians 12:3)

The statement ‘Jesus is Lord’ signifies both a conviction and a commitment on the part of the speaker. The conviction is that Jesus is truly Lord, and Lord of all, and that there is no other. The commitment is that Jesus is and will be Lord in all aspects and dimensions of the speaker’s life.

This is what salvation is all about, and it happens as the Holy Spirit leads us to both the acknowledgement and commitment involved. The rest of our life here is to increasingly reflect and live Jesus as Lord at all times and in all ways – and this not in our own strength but under the guidance and empowerment of the Holy Spirit Himself.

Response:
Look to your life. Ask God to help you in the areas where you still struggle and resist Him.

Prayer:

Lord Jesus You are Lord and always will be. Help me to trust You more completely as the Lord of my Life and to live in Your love and under Your direction. Amen.

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My Life

“I love you, O LORD, my strength.”
(Psalm 18:1)

Reflection:
 “I Love You” –is a constant reminder of our decision and need to place God first at every moment and in every situation that we face. Our choice, and in response to the Great Commandment, is to have Him as the first priority in our lives. It also reminds us that we love Him because ‘He first loved us!’ We are His priority – and there is no clearer indication of this than the great statement of our Lord’s – and note that little word ‘so!’

“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)

“O Lord” – is the expression of our love and service. He is God Almighty – the Trinity of God the Eternal Father, God the Son our Saviour and God the Holy Spirit who is with us and within us always. He is the God who had no beginning and has no end, the glorious and supreme Majesty who has desired us and sacrificed Himself for us so that we might receive, enjoy and respond to His Love. Our lives and work become an offering to Him.

‘My strength” – is our acknowledgement that without God we have nothing and cannot achieve anything of any great value. It is God in us who equips, empowers and enables us to live the life to which He has called us, and to do so in a fallen and unbelieving world. He gives us the love, the faith, the strength and the perseverance that we need – and from Him too comes the peace that passes understanding and the joy that is beyond any momentary happiness of the world.

Response:
Write the words into your diary (or somewhere that you will see them often). Learn them, say them, pray them through the week – and let them guide your thoughts, words and actions. Live them.

Prayer:

Lord God, please help me to love You more and to have you as my first priority, to do everything as an offering to You, and to look to You for all that I will need every day this week. Thank You so much for Your great love for me. Amen.

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Run towards the end

“Therefore, since we are surrounded
by such a great cloud of witnesses,
let us throw off everything that hinders
and the sin that so easily entangles,
and let us run with perseverance
the race marked out for us”
(Hebrews 12:1)

Reflection:
Firstly, there are spectators. There to watch, to support, to encourage and to applaud, they are keenly interested in and supportive of our Christian lives and ministries. This should also make us pause if we are tempted into something which is unhealthy, unhelpful and unholy!

Secondly, there is the training involved. We cannot possibly merely drift along in the great race of the Christian life. Like all serious athletes we should be looking at a regular and healthy balance in our life-style as well as discarding surplus weights and activities. Some of these may not be wrong in themselves but may hinder us in our particular journey. Others may well be directly detrimental to our spiritual and physical lives and efforts. Through it all we are expected to practice our own particular ‘disciplines’ or gifts and be aware and concerned about our fellow travellers.

Thirdly, there is the finishing line. The race of life is all about how and where we are going. This involves recognising and avoiding distractions and keeping our focus and attention on the Lord at all times so that we continually end up in the right place at the right time.

    “Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart” (Hebrews 12:2-3)

It is small wonder the fruit of the Spirit includes self-control. If we are to run our particular race faithfully and to the end – there to receive not just the applause of the spectators but the ‘Well done, good and faithful servant’ from a smiling Lord Jesus – we will need the self-discipline required to make the journey less of a trial and more of a joy.

Response:
I have been chosen – let me own and finish my race

Prayer:

Lord Jesus, You have chosen me to be a member of Your team. Help me to run my part of the race faithfully, and with commitment and self-control, living at all times to Your honour and glory. Amen.

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Knocking at your door

 

“Here I am! I stand at the door and knock.
If anyone hears my voice and opens the door,
I will come in and eat with him, and he with me.”
(Revelation 3:20)

Reflection:
From the beginning of His life on earth Jesus was excluded. He was excluded from an acceptable room and born in a stable, He was excluded by the leaders of His people and faith, and He was excluded from a normal death and burial. He was cast out to die as one cursed and then buried in another’s tomb. Significantly He was given someone else’s room at His death which no one gave Him at His birth. John puts it simply and movingly,

“He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him.”(John 1:10-11)

He is still looking for a place where He is welcomed and wanted. Apart from the glorious and meaningful invitations recorded in the Gospels, we have this major call to us after His ascension. He is affirming to us that He is still with us, knocking at the doors of our individual and corporate lives, and asking to be allowed to enter.

“Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in”

Wherever you are today when you read this, whatever state you might be in, and where you are battling with a particular issue, He is knocking at your door – or at a new inner door – asking you to open that door and let Him in so that He can deepen His relationship with you and make a difference in your life.

Come – open the door!

  • For he says, “In the time of my favour I heard you, and in the day of salvation I helped you.” I tell you, now is the time of God’s favour, now is the day of salvation” (2 Corinthians 6:2 NIV)
  • “God reminds us, I heard your call in the nick of time; The day you needed me, I was there to help. Well, now is the right time to listen, the day to be helped”  ( 2 Corinthians 6:2 MSG)

Response:
Today is the day to respond – don’t wait any longer.

Prayer:

Lord Jesus I open this door right now. Stepping back to make space I invite You in. Please come in. And now, as I close the door again help me to know that you are inside with me, never to leave. Please help me to open up to You and to walk with You into our future together. Amen.

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This is Life

“Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life.
No one comes to the Father except through me.”
(John 14:6)

 

Reflection:
Jesus is the life. As John put it at the beginning of His Gospel “In Him was life.”  This says three things to us:

Firstly, there is no life without Jesus. If Jesus, the Creator and Sustainer, was to turn away for us all life would cease – human, animal and plant. We are only alive because He gives life to us. If He had not done so we would be like statues – lifeless.

Secondly, Jesus gives us new life. It is through Him and His great sacrifice that we are reborn as the eternal sons and daughters of the living God. This life that He gives us is eternal.

“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)

Thirdly, every quality of life – the completeness and enjoyment of life – is found in Jesus. Without Him everything else will leave us with a sense of it being incomplete and passing. It is only with Him that we begin to taste the beauty, loveliness and completeness of true life. This life enters into us first at the level of the spirit and through the Holy Spirit Himself.

As through the Holy Spirit within us He ministers to our bruised and battered souls we can experience the joy and hope of the budding and blossoming new life which comes from Him and includes Him. The source of this life is in Him and we become a part of it as we are united to Him – rather like a branch grafted in to the eternal Vine.

Response:
Draw continually closer to the Lord Jesus. Let Him be your first and foremost desire.

Prayer:

Lord Jesus be my Way, Truth and Life. As You live within me help me to blossom and bloom, cleansed by Your Living Water, and drawing from You the fullness of life without end. Amen.

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Lift your hearts

“May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father,
who loved us and by his grace gave us
eternal encouragement and good hope,
encourage your hearts and strengthen you
in every good deed and word.”

(2 Thessalonians 2:16-17)

Reflection:
Paul never thought that God was a disinterested spectator in the affairs of the world, of His Church and of His people individually. His learning and his experience taught him otherwise. His encounter with the living Jesus, his experience of the Holy Spirit and the way God opened his eyes to the Scriptures convinced him of God’s presence, purpose and commitment. He lived his life accordingly.

Christian life and ministry can, at times, be very lonely and insecure. We may wonder where God is and if what we are about has any significance or value in the greater scale of things. We need to remember that Jesus gave His life, and His ongoing commitment, to the people who would believe in Him and continue His work and ministry. Every aspect of it, whether thought, word or deed is of importance and, if of God, contributes towards the building and extension of His Kingdom. Each one of us does indeed have a Circle of Influence, far wider in today’s world than we would at first imagine. God encourages us to use that influence to bless others and bring glory to Him.

If God desires something to happen, whether on an international or personal front, then He will support and empower it. If God wishes you or me to lead a particular type of life – a holy life – then He will support, empower and encourage it. Because He wants us to reflect Him in our world He will inspire and strengthen us. He will also stand with us when the enemy attacks us and attempts to scare us into inactivity or lead us astray. He will be both our strength and our refuge.

Jesus great promise is to be with us always. He undertook also that the Holy Spirit would be within us and be the one to  bring God’s love into our hearts. We are not alone – God is at work within and around us even when we are blind to His presence.

Response:

Remind yourself of Jesus’ presence. Involve Him in everything.

Prayer:

Lord Jesus do help me to remember that  You are with me always. Please help me to acknowledge You and  to think, speak and act in ways that honour You – and strengthen and encourage me every step of the Way. Amen

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