Purified

“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)

 

Reflection:
Sin separates. It separates us from God, it separates us from others, it separates us from ourselves, and it separates us from who we could be. Sin destroys peace.

Most importantly sin is an offence against God. It needs, firstly, to be acknowledged and dealt with at that level. Until it is there will be no peace or sense of intimacy with Him. He is the only one who is able to forgive, cleanse and heal our spirits in a way that makes a difference and sets us free.

Jesus cried out upon the cross, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing

He did not wish His crucifiers to be condemned to bear the burden of sin and guilt forever. In fact, the purpose of God is to forgive and to set us free so that we might live life to the full. Sin is indeed terrible, none more so than this, but Jesus came to set us free, not to enslave us.

God is both willing and able to forgive us – and that means He will remove the guilty stain from our spirits completely, whatever the worldly consequences might be or have been. He can do this, not because sin does not matter, but because Jesus stood in for us, and has carried these sins, your sins and mine, with Him to the cross. What is required is a sincere repentance, acknowledgement of Jesus death for my sins, and a prayerful resolve to turn away from such sins in the future. Whilst there may be a number of failures along the way God will be there with us to help us up again and to carry on with Him. With the knowledge of God’s forgiveness we may also forgive ourselves.

He has given us an awesome and life-changing gift. We need to accept it and the new life that it brings. Why not?

Response:
Be still for a moment – allow God to bring to mind areas in your life that need forgiveness and liberation. Then ask Him. Start the new year free from the stains of the past.

Prayer:

Father, I confess that I have sinned in these ways…….. please forgive me. I acknowledge that I battle in the following areas….. please forgive and strengthen me. Please help me to accept your forgiveness and cleansing and, empowered by the Holy Spirit, to walk with You, and to know that You walk with me. And no matter how many times I fall please help me to always get up again and go on with You. Thank You so much for giving me this wonderful gift of new life.Amen.

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The Right Way

“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 only way to God the Father. He was quite clear about this.

  • “No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6)

The full implications of that statement might surprise us. However, what is clear is that without the ministry, death, resurrection and ascension of Jesus Christ no one in all of creation would be able to enter into the presence of God and enjoy eternal life with Him. The way to God that was closed through sin would remain closed for all eternity.

Not only has Jesus opened the way to God once again but He and He alone is that Way – as well as being all the Truth that we will ever need and the Life for which we long.

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

This is highlighted elsewhere in Scripture as it shows very clearly that our salvation is through faith in the Lord Jesus and not though any efforts of our own.

  • “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)
  • 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)
  • Jesus answered, “The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.”(John 6:29)

The work that God sent His Son – the Word made flesh – to do was completed during His earthly ministry.

  • “so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it” (Isaiah 55:11)
  • “Jesus said, “It is finished.” With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit” (John 19:30)

Jesus Christ is our life, our new life and our eternal life.

  • “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of men” (John 1:1-4)
  • “The Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29)
  • “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die” (John 11:25-26)
  • “In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am” (John 14:2-3)

Prayer Response:

Lord Jesus, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!”  (Mark 9:24) – and to live in belief every day. Amen.

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Real Man

“The Word became flesh
and made his dwelling among us”
(John 1:14)

Reflection:
Jesus was both fully God and fully Man.

  • He was born to a human mother through the Holy Spirit
    • Matthew 1:18; Luke 1:35
  • His human ancestry reaches back to David, Abraham and Adam
    • Matthew 1: 1 – 17; Luke 3: 23 – 38
  • He grew and learned as a human, obeying His human parents
    • Luke 2:51-52
  • He grew hungry and needed to eat (Matthew 4:22) and thirsty and in need of drink (John 4:7). He was weary after travelling (John 4:6) and He needed sleep and refreshment (Matthew 8:24).
  • He endured Satan’s temptation
    • Luke 4:1-13
  • He had the normal human emotions of love and compassion (Matthew 9:36), anger (Matthew 21:13, Mark 3:5), He wept (John 11:35) and experienced inner agony (John 12:27).
  • He died and was buried like all humans
    • Luke 23:44-56

It is because Jesus was fully human that He could represent us on the cross and die on our behalf. And it is because of it that He is also enabled to fully understand and sympathise with us, recognise the power of temptation and minister God’s love and mercy to us as the “High Priest forever.”

“For surely it is not angels he helps, but Abraham’s descendants. For this reason he had to be made like his brothers in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people. Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted” (Hebrews 2:16-18)

God is not an impassive observer of our little lives. He became as one of us, associating fully with us in His baptism, walking our roads, breathing our air, working our work, touching our lives and allowing us to touch His. In becoming fully man He becomes more fully real – so that John could write,

“That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched–this we proclaim concerning the Word of life. The life appeared; we have seen it and testify to it, and we proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and has appeared to us. We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ. We write this to make our joy complete” (1 John 1:1-4)

Response:
He knows me because He has been me

Prayer:

Lord Jesus You understand who I am, the way that I feel and the joys and agonies of my life. Please touch my life with Your life and help me to receive all that You are and all that You have done for me. Amen.

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My Lord and My God

“In the beginning was the Word,
and the Word was with God,
and the Word was God”
(John 1:1)

Reflection:
Jesus Christ is God. He is not a man or an angel with extraordinary powers. He is God. Scripture is clear on it and so was He.

  • “We wait for the blessed hope–the glorious appearing of our great God and Saviour, Jesus Christ” (Titus 2:13)
  • “Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life” (1 John 5:20)
  • “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” (John 1:1)
  • “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)

Jesus Christ Himself was clear about it.

  • “I and the Father are one” (John 10:30)
  • “The high priest said to him, “I charge you under oath by the living God: Tell us if you are the Christ, the Son of God.” “Yes, it is as you say,” Jesus replied” (Matthew 26:63-64)
    • The religious leaders understood quite clearly that Jesus was claiming equality with God. To do so was considered blasphemy and was punishable with death.

Jesus Christ exercised the authority and prerogatives and power that are God’s alone.

  • He forgave sins on His own authority –
    • “But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins….” He said to the paralytic, “I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home.” (Mark 2:10-11)
  • He raised the dead
    • “Jesus called in a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!”(\John 11:43)
  • He demonstrated His power over nature
    • He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!” Then the wind died down and it was completely calm” (Mark 4:39)
    • He turned water into wine (John 2:7-11)

Jesus Christ was in all ways and at all times fully God – however He became also fully man as we shall see. For today we acknowledge that He is in truth God and, as His name Immanuel reveals, He is “God with us” This is the wonder of the Incarnation.  This Jesus Christ who came to seek, to save and to give us new and eternal life is indeed God.

“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)

Response:
My Saviour is “My Lord and my God!”(John 20:28)

Prayer:

Lord Jesus as I acknowledge Your humanity help me to acknowledge too Your divinity and to be silent in wonder, love and praise. Amen.

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One Life, One Truth

 

“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:
“What is truth?” Pilate asked Jesus. We might well hear that question being asked today.

One recent headline stated that ‘We are not living in a ‘post-truth’ world, we are living lies.’ Another tells us that a prominent politician is known for the lies that he tells. A further article states that a purpose of some international activity is not to promote an alternative truth but to so confuse us that we are not able to identify truth at all. Add to this the different beliefs and philosophies that are current and many will end up thinking that the only truth is that there is no truth.

Jesus didn’t answer Pilate’s question with words but with a definitive action. He walked into a suffering and death that He could have avoided. In so doing He underlined with His blood the revelation that He had given to His disciples – making it stand out in a way that could not be missed.

“I am the way and the truth and the life”

In a world on the verge of darkness He proclaimed Himself as the way forward. In a time when power was the ultimate authority He revealed Himself as the truth that would live through death and into eternity. In an age when life was cheap He stood out as the one and only life-giver and life-sustainer. And when they closed the door on His life in this world He opened the door into life in the next.

Truth is not a statement but a Person. We find the truth about ourselves and the truth about the way forward and the truth concerning the questions of life in Him – and Him alone. Anything else is a passing shadow.

Where others tell us what to believe – He asks us to ‘believe in Me’. Where others direct us along human paths He calls us to ‘follow Me.’ And where others tells us to grin and bear it – He invites us to ‘come to Me.”  These truths are not for this life only for in the same breath He tells us that

“No one comes to the Father except through me”

Jesus Christ is our Way through this life and our Way to the Father. He is the Truth about this life and of the life to come. And He is Life itself – the wonderful gift of eternal life that begins in this life and carries on into the endless future in the creative and glorious love of God.

As we reflect on His truth and truths under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, and build them into our individual and corporate lives, we will begin to see His hand at work – for these are the ways that God will bless.

“If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples.
Then you will know the truth,
and the truth will set you free.”
(John 8:31-32)

Response:
What is truth? – “I AM!”

Prayer:

Lord Jesus please take my hand – and in every situation of my life lead me along Your Way through Your Truth and into Your Life without end. Amen.

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I believe in

“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)

Reflection:
Consider these three key statements.

  • “whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life”  (John 3:16)
  • “Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God”  (John 1:12)
  • “Jesus answered, “The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.”  (John 6:29)

It is important to note that we are not told to believe about Jesus but to go much further – to believe in Him. We can believe about something without it impacting our lives. To believe in something – or in this case someone – is to have it as a central core and foundation of our lives. James made this clear when he wrote that even the demons believed about God.

“You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that–and shudder” (James 2:19)

When we celebrate the birth of Christ at this time of the year it is not because it is fun – nor is it because it is a great historical event – nor even because it gives us pleasure, like the warmth of the sun after a cold night. We celebrate the birth of the Saviour of the World, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world, the One who is to die in our place and who rises again to give us new and eternal life. Our lives are to be so closely bound up in and interwoven with Him that His life becomes our life and ours an expression of His.

We are not asked to admire Him as some rare creation preserved and seen through the protective barrier of a glass cage – nor are we to get excited about Him as if he were a great entertainer performing for our delight and amazement on a distant stage. Instead we are expected to come to Him, to engage with Him, to open our live to Him and to invite and allow Him into every part of us – giving to Him the authority to do whatever He wishes and trusting Him that it will all be for the best.

In other words we are asked to place our full trust and faith in Him – believing in Him to such an extent that we can surrender our past to Him, live our present with Him, and entrust our future to Him, no matter what may be happening in our world at the time and in the world around us.

Response:
Faith is a decision and not a feeling. And so the great Creed begins with  “I believe in God …”

Prayer:

Lord Jesus I do believe in You – help me to believe in You at all times and in all situations no matter how I may feel at the time. Amen.

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Life eternal

“I am the resurrection and the life.
He who believes in me will live, even though he dies;
and whoever lives and believes in me will never die”
(John 11:25-26)

Reflection:
This is one of the key statements made by our Lord Jesus. Our hope of any resurrection and of eternal life with God is in Jesus Christ and comes from Him. It rests in no one and in nothing else. No quality of life can earn it – and once received no one is able to remove it.

He revealed His authority over death in His resurrection of Lazarus and others. Their gift of life was, at that stage, only temporary for Jesus had not yet completed His mission. His great and life-giving expression of His power for the resurrection to eternal life came in His own resurrection from the dead. Here the power of death was defeated as He rose never to die again.

“I lay down my life–only to take it up again.” (John 10:17)

Those who are united with Him by faith in His death and resurrection have nothing to fear from the death that lies in front of everyone. It is merely a door through which we pass with Him into the new life that He has promised us. So Paul could say,

“I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far” (Philippians 1:23)

The love and power of God – the eternal Father, the glorious Son and the life-giving Spirit – is such that nothing and no one can stand in the way of its expression. God is so Almighty that it is both unthinkable and impossible for His commitment and promises to fail. His will has been expressed and it will be done. He has committed Himself to it and to us. And He has founded it upon the great sacrifice and resurrection of His Son. Paul expresses it this way.

“For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:38-39)

We need to remember too that His promise of life is not only for some future date but for our present lives as well. So many people are living within their own darkness and exist where there appears to be no light or life. Jesus speaks into these situations as well. As He did when He walked amongst us He is able to bring a resurrection life into these areas too. His ‘Come to Me’ means bring your life to Me now so that I may bring Mine to you.

Response:
Ask God to bring His life into yours wherever and however you are – and keep asking and believing

Prayer:

Lord God, You are my strength and my song, and You have become my salvation. Please come with Your light and life into the dark and lost areas of my life so that I too may find new life in You. Amen.

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