Meet the Truth

“Come,” He replied,
“and you will see.”
(John 1:38-39)

Reflection:
It would have been so easy for Jesus to answer the question ‘Where are you staying?’ by responding ‘at Peter’s house.’ But He didn’t because He was concerned with far more than information.

Jesus is concerned with truth and life. So His response was both an invitation to see where He lived as well as one to see how He lived. In other words to meet with His reality. Jesus lived out what He spoke – unlike the Pharisees whom He accused of saying one thing and living another. Jesus’ whole life was a revelation of Truth, which is why He could rightly claim to be the Truth.

As we turn to Jesus today His call to us is still to “Come” to Him and to “Follow” Him, for in doing so “you will see” the truth of who and what He is. It is a call both to listen to His words as well as to listen to His being – His living and His life.

All His words are in fact a call not just to obey the Master but to meet with the Master!

Our starting point is in the Gospels, as we watch and listen to what He does and what He teaches. With this, however, is the personal invitation to “Come … and …. see” It is as we turn to Him and walk with Him – in prayer, trust and obedience – that we begin to discover the thrilling and chilling reality that we are with God and He is with us…. and ‘it is very good.’ As the Psalmist put it so well,

“Taste and see that the LORD is good;
blessed is the man who takes refuge in him”
(Psalm 34:8)

In the process He will give us a new view on our own lives and contexts, and the way in which He can make a difference.

Response:
Today  – turn (again) to the Lord and ask Him to reveal more of Himself to you as you follow Him.

Prayer:

Lord Jesus, I turn to You (again). Please help me to draw closer to You so that You can draw closer to me. Open my eyes, my ears and my heart Lord to the wonder of Your life, love and presence. Amen.

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Make a Difference

“Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult,
but with blessing,
 because to this you were called
so that you may inherit a blessing.”
(1 Peter 3:9)

Reflection:
Jesus tells us to forgive, not to judge, to love our enemies, to turn the other cheek, to give. He even sets the standard at the level of God’s forgiveness and indicates that if we set a different level it can act as a barrier to our receiving from God. He takes His own teaching to the cross where He prays repeatedly for those who are crucifying Him, ‘Father forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” (Lk 23:34)

Peter is picking up on that, having himself experienced the fullness of Christ’s forgiveness after the agony of his betrayal. Instead of being castigated, and cast off, he was forgiven and reinstated. Not only was he healed and restored, but he was taken to another level of love and acceptance in the process.

Just as Christ came to reconcile us to the Father, so He has given to us the ministry of reconciliation. (2 Corinthians 5:18). An important aspect of this ministry will be found in our attitude and reaction to other people. We are called to repay insult and evil with a blessing – in fact, in all things to bless and at all times to be a blessing. On occasion it may be extremely difficult – and we may need to own the pain inside us as our pain and not seek to inflict it back onto the other. Vengeance belongs to God not to us.

We are the Good News people, and it is possible because we have been blessed. The more we understand and receive the blessing and love of God, the more we will be free to pass it on to others. Having the security of God’s love and blessing we will not need to seek it from anyone else. This was the security that Jesus had and which was affirmed at His baptism.

“You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.” (Luke 3:22)

It is also the blessing that we have – if we will believe it!

“We love because he first loved us”  (1 John 4:19)

Response:

Ask God to make you aware of His blessing in your life. Look to where you need to bless others, especially those close to you.

Prayer:

Father, Please help me to be a blessing this weekend – in all that I think and say and do. Amen.

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Walk the Light

“The darkness is passing
and the true light is already shining”
(1 John 2:8)

Reflection:
At the beginning of his Gospel John wrote that ‘the true light that gives light to every man was coming into the world.’ Now he says quite clearly and with absolute certainty that

“the true light is already shining”

This is of enormous importance and significance to us. The Light which is Jesus Christ is here, in our darkness, burning with an inextinguishable flame and bringing the light of truth, revelation, life and hope into the lives of people who are able to see and receive it. Because He is here with His Light shining two things are happening to the darkness.

Firstly the darkness is beginning to pass. Take note of that tiny word ‘is’. It is not ‘might’ or ‘maybe’ but ‘is’. By virtue of the Light that has come amongst us the darkness has begun to give way. And the more brightly the Light is enabled to shine the more the darkness will have to retreat. This is both a physical law and a spiritual one.

Secondly, the Light enables us to see the darkness more clearly. We will both perceive that it is darkness and realise the nature of it. Whilst we might fear that the darkness is increasing it may also be true that we are enabled to see and recognise this darkness more clearly – which means that the Light is shining with increasing strength and clarity. What before was hidden is now progressively being revealed in greater detail. God is at work.

Whatever the state of your world hold onto the truth that the true light is already shining there. God is with us, and always will be.

Response:
The Light of Christ is in my world – let me see and walk in His Light.

Prayer:

Lord Jesus thank You that Your light is revealing the darkness in me and around me. Please help me to surrender my darkness to You and to avoid the darkness of the world – and please shine Your light through my thoughts, words and deeds.  Amen.

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Clear my darkness

“The light shines in the darkness,
but the darkness has not understood it”
(John 1:5)

Reflection:
In His earthly ministry Jesus was like a light in the darkness. He continues to shine into the world and through the lives of His faithful followers.

The Light is not fluttering feebly like a candle about to go out or a torch where its batteries are exhausted. The full Light of the fullness of Christ is shining from Him. It does not have to be cranked up to a higher pitch.  The problem is the darkness.

The darkness into which this Light shines has not understood it. Alternative translations say that the darkness had not apprehended it, comprehended it, overcome it or put it out. In whatever way the darkness has failed to receive it or react to it the Light is still the same and is still present and shining.

We can sometimes identify those who dwell in the darkness of sin and despair and have failed to recognise and receive the Light. We may also discern that those who reject the Light and argue that it does not exist have failed to extinguish the Light. In both cases the Light shines on unimpaired.

What is not so easy for us to appreciate is that we ourselves have areas of darkness within us where we have not responded adequately to the Light – and been bathed in its healing and life-giving properties. Much of the world in which we live and the context in which we were raised has affected us more than we appreciate. This is one of the reasons why Jesus told us not to be so quickly critical of the speck we see in the eyes of others when we still have a whole plank in our own eyes!

It is important for us to hold on to the fact that the Light of Christ is fully available to those who seek Him and His fullness in their lives. No matter how thick or extensive the darkness may seem at times it will never extinguish or control that Light – for two reasons. One is that Christ Himself is the Light and He has conquered death and the powers of evil. The second is that Christ is God and will simply not allow it.

Therefore the first question for each one of us is whether and to what extent we are walking in the Light and/or in the darkness. We do not have to find the Light – He is there all the time, wanting and waiting to enter more fully into all the rooms and areas of our lives.

Response:
Wherever I am with God I could be much closer

Prayer:

Lord help me to draw closer to You so that You may draw closer to me. May I be more open to You every day. Shine Your Light into me Lord in new ways to illuminate and clear away the cobwebs and the areas of darkness. Amen.

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Light in my life

 “I am the light of the world.
Whoever follows Me will never walk in darkness,
but will have the light of life.”
(John 8:12)

Reflection:
This is one of the great “I ams ” of Jesus. It relates directly to the announcement by God of His Name to Moses – “I am.” It is a name that reveals absolute glory, majesty, power and authority. In it God is saying that He is without limit and can reveal Himself however He wishes. And here Jesus refers to Himself as ‘the Light of the world.”

It is significant that as God began to create – as the Holy Spirit was brooding over the darkness – the first thing for which He called was light. And so too in our lives, when darkness settles over the spirits of the individual and the community, our primary need is for the Light. On the one hand this is so that we will recognise the darkness that is stifling and subduing and slowly suffocating the life from us – and also begin to appreciate what it is and from whence it comes. However this is not enough. We also need to ‘see the Light’ that will reveal the way forward, free us from this bondage to decay and allow us to begin to truly live once more.

This solution is not more words, suggestions or encouraging advice. As wise as these may be there are nevertheless many areas and conditions in life from which we cannot or will not escape in our own strength. We all know this. This light that sets us free is in fact a Person – the Person and Presence in our lives and situations of the Lord Jesus Himself. That is why His great call is so encouraging and filled with hope. It is the call, not of a prophet, but of God Himself.

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

Each one of us will be lugging forward a whole cluster of things that we would rather, or should rather, do without. We will also still be living within a context that did not magically change for the better with the new year. Now is the time to turn to the one Person who not only can make a difference but who says that He will.

He does not say that He will merely tell us what to do. He undertakes to give us ‘rest’. It is His strength that will bring this about – not ours. Our action is to turn to Him and trust in Him.

“This is what the Sovereign LORD, the Holy One of Israel, says:
“In repentance and rest is your salvation,
 in quietness and trust is your strength”
(Isaiah 30:15)

Response:
I need the Lord.

Prayer:

Lord Jesus I need You. I need more of Your Light and Your Life for myself, those I love and my community. I come to You as best I can – and I will keep coming to You throughout the year ahead – looking to You as the Light in my life. Bless me Lord for I sorely need You. Amen.

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Love Five

“God is love.
Whoever lives in love lives in God,
and God in him”
(1 John 4:16)

Reflection:
Core Values in our lives – God, The Word, Prayer, Holy Living and, now, Love.

Love has to be the flame that burns within us, the source that feeds out spirits, minds, deeds and emotions. For God is Love – and if we are in His image then it should be love that characterises us as well. And so Scripture tells us that love is essential to us.

  • “If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 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 13:1-3)
  • “God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us” (Romans 5:5)
  • “`Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it:
  • “Love your neighbour as yourself” (Matthew 22:37-39)
  • “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” (Matthew 5:44)
  • “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another” (John 13:34)
  • “And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity” (Colossians 3:14)
  • “But the fruit of the Spirit is love..” (Galatians 5:22)

This love is not a product of our own efforts but comes from God and through God. It is a consequence of the love that He has for us and which He has revealed to us.

  • “We love because he first loved us” (1 John 4:19)

We may decide to love because we know that it is right – but it only becomes real and true, and not a legalism, when the love of God flows into us and through us. The greater our awareness of God’s love for us the more we are prepared and enabled to love those people and things that He loves. As we receive the fullness of His blessing for ourselves so it overflows from us – because love cannot be contained. So Paul’s prayer becomes ours as well;

  • “And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge–that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God”  (Ephesians 3:17-19)

Five Core Values for which to pray and keep on praying – through the sunshine and the darkness – and which to allow the Holy Spirit to live out within us and through us as we trust and follow  His guidance.

Prayer:

Heavenly Father as the moon reflects the light and the glory of the sun, so may I shine with Your love and truth in the darkness of the world around me – and may You be honoured and glorified in it all. Amen.

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