Alive Forever

“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. Do you believe this?”
(John 11:25-26)

 

Reflection:
Jesus said these startling words to Martha soon before He raised her brother Lazarus from the dead.

He does not say that He will be the resurrection and the life, or that He will bring them about, but that He is the Resurrection and the Life. It is one of the great “I AM” statements of Jesus in which His divinity is clearly claimed. This means that for those who have entered into a relationship with Jesus as Lord and Saviour the new life to which the resurrection leads is already an imperishable reality.

In saying that whoever believes in Him will never die He is not talking conceptually but of a spiritual reality. Whilst our physical body will die and disintegrate our true and spiritual selves will neither die now sleep – but are already a part of the new life in Jesus Christ and enlivened by the Holy Spirit of God.

Paul affirms this understanding, both in his longing to depart and ‘be with the Lord’ and in his letters – for example

  • “Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God.” (Colossians 3:1)
  • “We are confident, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord” (2 Corinthians 5:8)

Jesus is the Resurrection and the Life. As we become a part of His life they become a reality in our own lives.

Response:

“Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?” (1 Corinthians 15:55)

Prayer:

Lord Jesus in You I am alive with an eternal life. Please help me to believe it, receive it and live in it in peace and trust. Amen.

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God Now

“Do you believe this?”
(John 11:26)

Reflection:
Lazarus had died and Jesus was talking to Martha. Through His probing it became clear that Martha had a belief in the God of the future. What she needed was to recognise the God of today. And Jesus drew her gently towards that. After getting her to acknowledge that she believed her brother would rise again in the resurrection at the last day, He said to her,

“I am the resurrection and the life”
(John 11:25)

In an earlier meeting, when Martha was annoyed that her sister Mary was sitting listening to Jesus instead of helping Martha with the preparations, she had effectively indicated that God should give way to the need of the day. Now the situation was about to be reversed. And the needs of the day would give way to God. Jesus went out and raised Lazarus from the dead.

To have a belief only in the God of tomorrow is to miss out on the wonder and reality of a personal and intimate relationship with the God of today. He is prepared to reveal Himself to us, and to enter into our everyday lives and living, today. Indeed He is trying to do so.

“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)

And so Paul would write,

“I tell you, now is the time of God’s favour,
now is the day of salvation”
(2 Corinthians 6:2)

Response:
God is the God of Today – involve Him in your todays

Prayer:

Lord help me to know and trust in You as the God of today – and to trust You in all my todays. Amen.

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I Believe so I Obey

“Through him and for his name’s sake,
we received grace and apostleship
to call people from among all the Gentiles
to the obedience that comes from faith”
(Romans 1:5)

Reflection:
Salvation is by faith and not by works.

  • “Jesus answered, “The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent” (John 6:29)
  • “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith-and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God- not by works, so that no-one can boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9)

Obedience is the response that is expected to arise from our faith and out of our love for the Lord.

  • “The obedience that comes from faith” (Romans 1:5)
  • “Jesus replied, “If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching” (John 14:23)

In the Great Commission Jesus sets it out clearly. First we are to bring people to faith in the Lord and then teach them to obey His teaching.

  • “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations …. teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you” (Matthew 28:19-20)

Obedience is the expression of our faith and love. To disobey the Lord would be to reject Him and walk away from Him.

  • “If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father’s commands and remain in his love” (John 15:10)

This is what we pray for in the prayer Jesus taught us – which is really the Believer’s Prayer

Our Father in Heaven
Hallowed be Your Name
Your Kingdom come
Your will be done
On earth as in heaven

Response:
Live out your faith in, and love for, our Lord

Prayer:

Father God, please build my faith and  pour Your love into my heart by the Holy Spirit – so that my greatest desire will be to walk with You in Your ways all the days of my life. Amen.

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Belonging

 

“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 1:3-4)

Reflection:
This is God’s world.

He made it and then He made us to fit into it. Or alternatively – He made it as a place suitable and prepared for us, the people whom He intended to make. Whichever way we look at it this world and human beings were made by God for each other. They were a part of His plan and purpose in the beginning.

This world and all the created order belong to God. They are His. He made them, and He redeemed them in and through Jesus Christ His Son. We all belong to God – everyone and everything. We are all subject to His majesty, power and authority – whether we acknowledge it or not. He is God over us all – there is no other. Some may ignore Him – but it does not change Him. Nor does it diminish Him in any way. It is the freedom of choice that He gave to us in the beginning.

God made us for His purposes and for the revelation of His glory and love.

“In love He predestined us to be adopted as His sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with His pleasure and will- to the praise of His glorious grace, which He has freely given us in the One He loves …. for the praise of His glory” (Ephesians 1:4-6, 12)

This life is not all about me. It is about God – and His relationship with me, and mine with Him. I am very special to Him. Jesus shows us just how much. The closer I come to Him the more I will know it.

Response:
Keep your eyes on Him – even when its ‘cloudy’

Prayer:

Father God I belong to You. In Jesus You have given Yourself to me. Now by Your Holy Spirit knit us together Lord. Amen.

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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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