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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The Way There

“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 Way. This says two things to us.

Firstly He is the direction and the road that we should travel. Only He knows the way to the Father and only He can take us there. There is no other way.

Secondly He is the manner in which we should travel that road. He is the Way in which we should live upon the Way.

He calls us to Himself with the words “Follow Me” and then instructs us to “Stay with Me.” As we do so we learn from Him directly and from the way in which He lived His life.

  • There was a time for learning – and He spent many years learning and applying His faith and His trade, and observing and learning about people.
  • There was a time for prayer – and He would spend much time in individual prayer.
  • There was a time for laying the foundations of life – and he went into the desert to establish His and affirm His core values
  • There was a time for listening – so He could teach that He only said and did what the Father instructed.
  • There was a time for action – and He stepped out into ministry, teaching and caring for people.
  • There was a time for rest – and He would withdraw from the crowds to lonely places.
  • There was a time for discipleship – and He would teach and develop key followers.
  • There was a time for submission – and He would be quiet and allow God’s will to unfold.
  • There was a time to stay and a time to move on.
  • There was a time to leave.

He was never in a hurry. He was not dependent upon the opinions of others. He did not seek the crowds and was content with whoever was near. He possessed very little yet gave more than any other person. He had a vision and a purpose yet lived each day at a time. When His world exploded into rejection and pain He entrusted Himself to God. He trusted God at all times. He is remembered for His love, His peace and His integrity.

Response:
Wherever and however we are – He is the Way of the present and the future – today and tomorrow.

Whatever our problems and concerns He is the Way through them and onward.

Prayer:

Lord Jesus help me to learn from You. Please be my Guide and my Shepherd at all times and help me to trust You in all the circumstances, challenges and opportunities of this life. Amen.

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Then and Now

“Isaac spoke up and said to his father Abraham, “Father?”
 “Yes, my son?” Abraham replied.
“The fire and wood are here,” Isaac said,
“but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?”
(Genesis 22:7)

Reflection:
In response to God’s command Abraham was on his way to Moriah to sacrifice his son Isaac. One cannot imagine his feelings both with regard to the sacrifice of his only son as well as the fact that it was through this son that God had promised to fulfil His covenant promise to Abraham. Nevertheless his response to Isaac was the response of faith in his God. “God Himself will provide the lamb.”

As it turned out God stopped Abraham from sacrificing Isaac and provided a ram for sacrifice instead. Now both Isaac and Abraham speak of a lamb – which is quite different from the ram that appeared. It was not that a ram was as good a sacrifice as a lamb but that God had something else planned. This becomes clear years later when John the Baptist looking up and seeing Jesus said to his disciples

“Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!”
(John 1:29)

Here was the lamb provided by God – the one who would suffer death as the sacrifice for the sins of the world. In this way the prophetic incident with Abraham and Isaac is linked to the real event involving God and His Son. The great difference of course is that there was no one to stop the hand of this Son’s executioners.

It is also believed by many commentators that this mountain of Moriah is in fact the same mountain on which Jerusalem is built (New Bible Dictionary). And it was there that Jesus was crucified.

God’s purpose and plan was not in response to the fall and sin of man. It pre-dated creation itself. There is one purpose and plan of God that remains unchanged and that He is working out and will bring to fulfilment. Again and again what we see in the New Testament has its beginnings in the Old. And what God started before Jesus appeared has its fulfilment and explanation in His life, death, resurrection and ascension.

Response:
‘Your will be done on earth as in heaven’’

Prayer:

Lord God thank You so much for the scale and detail of Your purpose and plan – which are being worked out in ways that we can see and at which we marvel and rejoice. What a mighty God we serve!

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With you always

“The one who is in you is greater
than the one who is in the world.”
(1 John 4:4)

Reflection:
Jesus Christ has not left us alone. He has sent to us the Holy Spirit Himself.

This is the same Holy Spirit Who was involved in creation, Who brought about the baby Son of God within Mary, Who came upon and into Jesus at His Baptism, Who formed the Christian Church and transformed the lives of the disciples on the Day of Pentecost. He is the same Holy Spirit promised to all believers (note the word all). In fact you cannot be a child of God without the Holy Spirit.

We face many challenges in our lives, every day. Generally, the world in which we live is tense and stress-filled. Not only marriages but all relationships are under pressure, many people are finding it increasingly difficult to either maintain a standard of living, or to just survive. Numbers are not sure how they will be able to cope. Every day seems to bring news of fresh tragedies, disasters, corruption, violence and pain. In our own strength it is possible to despair, and to join the millions who seek relief in escapist activities and fantasies.

But God! God is alive and active. And the same God who did the amazing things recorded in Scripture– the God of ‘the mighty hand and the outstretched arm’ – is the God who is with His sons and daughters right now; invisible but real. In these times, more than ever, He is not only who and what we need, He is the One for whom our spirits long and without whom they will not be comforted or satisfied. Whether or not He changes our situations He will reach out to change us within our situations.

Jesus invitation should to ring in our ears as a clarion call. Are you battling in some way? Then,

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”  (Matthew 11:28)

In fact, this is more than an invitation, it is a firm directive! And the promise is definite, “I will give you rest!” The Shepherd wishes to be involved in the challenges facing His sheep. The Saviour and Lord wishes to be involved in the pain and suffering of His people. If He does not take it away He will take us through, and enable us to find relief and blessing on the way. Remember – the way that things are today is not the way they will be forever.

Jesus is the Way – that means that He is going somewhere and taking us with Him – and nothing can stop Him!

Response:

Take action:

  1. Remind yourself that God is with you – breathe Him in.
  2. Ask Him to calm and help you.
  3. Read or say Psalm 23 slowly.
  4. Pray the Lord’s Prayer slowly.
  5. Take another step forward.
  6. Talk to Him all the time

Prayer:

Father I need help. Please help me. Please comfort me, encourage me, strengthen me and increase my faith in You. Amen.

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(Picture © Catherine Bondonno)

He is near

“Surely the arm of the LORD is not too short to save,
nor his ear too dull to hear”
(Isaiah 59:1)

Reflection:
The reality of the Easter message is that the Lord is neither too weak nor to deaf to hear and respond to our needs. In fact He has come to us not just with His arm and His hand but with His whole being.

The prophet went on to say,

“But your iniquities have separated you from your God;
your sins have hidden his face from you,
so that he will not hear”
(Isaiah 59:2)

However he had already revealed that God had Himself arranged a solution to the seemingly insurmountable problem of our sin.

“Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows,
yet we considered him stricken by God,
smitten by him, and afflicted.
But he was pierced for our transgressions,
he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was upon him,
and by his wounds we are healed”
(Isaiah 53:4-5)

The reality is that we still sin. However that sin has already been dealt with on the cross by the Lord. This is the reason that John can tell us that,

  • “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:8-9)
  • “My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have one who speaks to the Father in our defence -Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world” (1 John 2:1-2)

Wherever and however we are at this moment the truth is that God is with us. If we feel separated from Him it may be an emotional condition or it may be that there is a sin or sins that are getting in the way. We can ask Him to reveal anything that needs to be confessed or dealt with in our life and then bring it to Him in prayer.

As the cross show clearly shows us, His desire is to forgive and heal us into a new relationship with Him – no matter where we have been in our lives.

Response:
Every day spend a few minutes with the Lord as you ask Him to show you anything that needs to be dealt with from that day. Confess it to Him and allow Him to ‘wash your feet’ of this dirt you have picked up on the day’s journey.

Prayer:

Father as I wash my body of the dirt of the day please help me also to allow You to cleanse me from the spiritual dirt I have picked up as well, in Jesus name, Amen.

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Stop Doubting!

“A week later his disciples were in the house again,
and Thomas was with them.
Though the doors were locked,
Jesus came and stood among them and said,
“Peace be with you!”
(John 20:26)

Reflection:
The first time that Jesus appeared to the disciples, after His resurrection, Thomas was not with them.

It was to be a long week before his opportunity came, a week in which he might well have felt himself to be rather an outcast. He might have also wondered whether he had forever missed his opportunity. But such was the love and grace of Jesus that He presented Thomas with an occasion in which he could see and feel the reality for himself. Thomas was convinced,

“Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.” Thomas said to him, “My Lord and my God!” (John 20:27-28)

It is always hard for us when others appear to have had dramatic personal experiences of God, or of something miraculous happening in their lives, or of God speaking to them in clear and certain ways – and we don’t. We might also feel like outcasts, excluded from God’s ‘inner circle’, and just not good enough. We can so easily give up or resign ourselves to living on the fringes of Christianity, as second class citizens – tolerated but not loved.

Nothing could be further from the truth! Jesus did make Himself real to Thomas. Thomas was convinced and acknowledged the reality of Jesus person, resurrection and divinity. Jesus would not want any of His disciples, then or now, to be less certain than this. He did, however, indicate that not everyone would have the same visual experience.

“Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” (John 20:29)

There are more ways of ‘seeing’ Jesus than with our eyes. He can reveal Himself to us in many ways. His intention always, though, as it was with Thomas, is that it should be in a way that is meaningful to us. He really does want us to believe and not to doubt. He wishes to establish a personal relationship with each one of His people one in which it is true that ‘My sheep know My voice.”

One of the ministries of the Holy Spirit is to make Jesus real to us. As we soak prayerfully in the Scriptures, open ourselves in prayer, and seek to live His way that will happen. And, of course, we should pray that Jesus will become more real to us – not in terms of a blinding and frightening revelation such as happened to Paul, but in a quiet and deepening inner knowledge that He is indeed both with us and within us – always.

Response:
Trust the word and ask the Holy Spirit to give it life within you.

Prayer:

Come Lord Jesus and live within me, all of me – and help me to know and respond to You. Amen.

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(Picture: Easter Lily)

God’s Peace

“On the evening of that first day of the week,
when the disciples were together,
with the doors locked for fear of the Jews,
Jesus came and stood among them and said,
“Peace be with you!”

(John 20:19)

Reflection:
The disciples were afraid and behind locked doors. Having seen Jesus arrested, tortured and crucified, having themselves fled, they had been living with fear and huge uncertainty for days. Now they had heard that Jesus had risen. This might well have added to their torment.  Where was He, and what would His attitude be towards them – especially in view of their actions?

There are few mental torments greater than those that concern our having failed someone important in our lives, and in a major way. The agony of waiting for the impending confrontation, heightened by our racing imaginations, can tear us apart. We cannot bear the thought of being sent away in despair and humiliation – of being not good enough, having failed to live up to expectations, especially when the person concerned is the Messiah! They would have heard the terrifying teaching that one day the Messiah might well say to certain people,

“I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!” (Matthew 7:23)

Suddenly Jesus was there standing amongst them – notwithstanding the locked doors. We do not know all that He said to them, or what they said to Him. But the words that are recorded tell us all that we need to know both for that meeting and for our own lives.

“Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you!”  (John 20:21)

This really was the peace of God that passes all understanding. It is a peace that has absolutely nothing to do with our deserving or earning it, or of the situation in which we find ourselves – but everything to do with the love, grace and power of our great Father and most wonderful Saviour. The text records that they ‘were overjoyed’ to see Him. It shows us that his love for them and acceptance of them was complete.

We all face fears that we have let Jesus down, that we do not live up to the standards that we believe He requires of us, and that we are like timid mice in the face of the increasing darkness of the world. All of that may be true. However, the most important truth for us to grasp and absorb is this – Jesus love for us is total and unconditional. He is completely committed to us and the work to which He has called us. When we fall or fail, or even think that we have, He is there with us to forgive, heal, empower and raise us up so that we can step out again with Him on the The Road of Love – the Way of Christ. He will work in all things for good and will never leave us or let us be taken from Him. Once we are His we are His forever. We do need to believe it.

Response:
Pray for a deeper belief and trust in the love of God for you.

Prayer:

Holy Spirit, please continue to pour the love of God into my heart –and help me to know it and trust it above everything else in the world. Amen.

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