God working in me

“It is God who works in you to will and to act
according to his good purpose”
(Philippians 2:13)

Reflection:
The full extent of the love and grace and majesty of God is awe-inspiring.

He has a purpose and plan for His creation which very much includes us. He has been working towards the fulfillment of this plan from the beginning and has elected to do so by involving the people whom He has chosen. Notwithstanding the fact that they – and we – have at times gone horribly astray and got things terribly wrong He has nevertheless worked in them for good.

As He calls us into relationship with Him we become an active part of the outworking of His purpose. To enable us to take our proper place He gives us, through the Holy Spirit, the particular gifts that we will need and that He wants to see at work in our situations. These are not haphazard but carefully chosen and endowed. With them, and also through the Holy Spirit, He gives us the guidance and strength we need to be a part of His ministry.

Because we remain a work in progress we very often continue to get things wrong and to complicate everything with our own desires and agendas – both individually and corporately and as the Church. But God – our loving, forgiving and  patient God – keeps on working with us and is able in time to change our wills and the Church’s will, and to re-direct our actions and the Church’s actions, until His purpose has been achieved.

And because it is God’s purpose that is being worked out we have the confidence of knowing that is will be achieved in all its fullness. Whether through our human frailty,  obstinacies or inadequacies, or through the active opposition of others, there is no obstruction of barrier that will fatally impede of impair this work.

My contribution might seem to be completely insignificant and not worth the effort. However in God’s eyes it is of great value – which is why He built it and me into His great vision and design. And this is true of each and every me who reads this.

Response:
I have a significant purpose in this year and in this life – and an eternal position in the next.

Prayer:

Lord God You have called me – help me please to will and to act according to Your good purpose. Amen.

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With God’s Help

“I can do everything
through Him who gives me strength”
(Philippians 4:13)

Reflection:
Towards the end of a journey that incorporated many trials and much temptation, suffering and rejection, Paul could say with confidence that, “I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.” (Philippians 4:11) This had come about because of his faith and trust in Christ, and the knowledge of the God who was with him at all times. He was certain that God would never abandon him or lose control of his situations. This was the peace that passes understanding. He was in God’s hands and nothing could snatch him away from God’s great hold on him – whatever the world might do.

Now in prison he could affirm that he had been, and was still, able to do everything that God wanted of him – whatever that might be and whatever challenges that might lead him into. God was with him and would give him whatever was needed in a particular situation – wisdom, words, faith, courage, perseverance.

As you and I look ahead these words come to us, both to inspire us and to build our faith. Whatever the trials and challenges are that we might face this year we can meet them, live through them and come through them in the strength and with the help that God will give us. In anything and everything, from the traffic, to health and work, family and relationship issues, to failures and financial difficulties, to insecurities, rejection and abuse, national and international turmoil, God is with us. Whatever else He might do, He will strengthen and guide us as we look to and trust in Him. He is not merely an observer but a participant in our life.

Response:
Give God your situation and the road ahead. Pray particularly for the difficulties that you foresee and the people involved. Ask God for guidance, strength and an awareness of His presence. Keep praying and listening. Memorise and keep saying today’s scripture.

Prayer:

Heavenly Father, please help me to face every day in the confidence that, with Your help, I can face and do all the things that You want me to. Please help me to commit everything to You and to seek Your guidance and strength. Thank You for always being with me. Amen.

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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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Don’t Give Up

“I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me….Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”
(Philippians 3:12-14)

Reflection:
We have been called into a special relationship with God – to be His daughters and sons. We are also called to join Christ in His ministry to others and to the world. Paul knew that Jesus had taken hold of him with both aims in mind, and he was not going to give up on either of them. Insofar as Jesus had a purpose for his life he was going to do his best to see that it was completed.

Every athlete, particularly the long distance runners, will know all about the times when it would just be so much easier to give up. Those times when each muscle and every emotion is crying out, ‘no more of this; no more pain, no more loneliness; give up!’ Some carry on though and go through the pain barrier, find a ‘second wind’ and press on to the finishing line. Sometimes they will be out there alone, with no one to support them, but they persevere.

Life, including the Christian life, has many challenges, temptations and trials. However, the Christian has Someone running with them all the time, encouraging them, strengthening them, helping them up when they fall, reminding them of who they are and helping them to keep the goal in mind. You too can press on with Him until the time comes to say with deep satisfaction, “It is finished!”

In the world as it is where many have turned away, many have become luke-warm and many focus only on themselves – press on. Keep your eyes on the Lord, keep in His Way, keep the faith and remain one of His faithful ones’

“I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith.” (Ephesians 3:16)

Response:
Whatever your pain barrier of the moment – ask God for help, for strength and for encouragement. Keep going with what is right. Trust Him, He will see you through. If in doubt about the direction to take – ask Him, and wait for Him to show you. He will.

Prayer:

Lord Jesus, please help me not to give up on you, or on myself. Please continue to call me forward, guide me, strengthen me and encourage me.

“I can do everything through him who gives me strength.”
(Philippians 4:13)

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Establishing Priorities

“But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven,
where moth and rust do not destroy,
and where thieves do not break in and steal.”
(Matthew 6:20)

 

Reflection:
My eldest daughter once brought me a copy of a magazine from my old school. I was sitting there quietly looking at it and saying, “I remember him – and him – and him.” Intrigued, she peered over my shoulder and then cried out, “Mom, Dad’s reading the obituaries!”

I was indeed – and was surprised at how many of my school acquaintances had died at what was a relatively young age. For them the journey of life was over and everything they may have hoped for or achieved or accumulated was left behind them. All that remained was their final meeting with our Lord and God.

It is very easy to get caught up with our wants and needs, our passions and fears, our occupations and past-times, our treasures and joys, and all the things into which the world tries to seduce us. No matter how important they are now, and how necessary and worth-while they may seem, they have one great thing in common – they will all be left behind us when we go. Some of them may even have been lost, stolen or turned to ashes before then.

Jesus encourages us to keep a proper balance and not to become obsessed with the things of this world, nor to strive to obtain, experience, accumulate and hoard its treasures. There are other things, He tells us, which have a greater and eternal value – things that cannot be measured in monetary or emotional terms.

Essentially our one and only treasure – incorruptible, unstealable and unbreakable – is Jesus Himself. He is our Life. He is our Righteousness. His is the Relationship which makes us known to God as His eternal sons and daughters. If Jesus is our supreme treasure everything else will begin to fall into place. If He is not we may well be serving something other than Him.

We cannot take anything with us when, sooner or later, we leave this world and go onto the next. All we will have is what we have become in our relationship with the Lord and the fruit developed in us by the Holy Spirit.

Live for the Lord – He is our Way, our Truth and our Life. He is our Light, our Love and our Joy. He is our Beauty and our Peace. He is our Purpose and our Fulfillment. He is our Today and our Eternal Tomorrow. He is our God, our Saviour and our Friend. He is our Everything.

Response:
Keep responding to His call. Never give up no matter how many times you fall. Trust Him always.

Prayer:

Lord Jesus, in the midst of the worries, concerns and temptations of this life, please help me to focus on You in all things and at all times. Amen.

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Mary and Gabriel

“In the sixth month, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth,
a town in Galilee,
to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph,
a descendant of David.
The virgin’s name was Mary”

(Luke 1:26-27)

Reflection:
After four hundred years of silence God spoke twice within the space of a few months. The first was to Zechariah and the second to Mary. In both cases the message was delivered not by a prophet but by the angel Gabriel – underlining its huge importance and implication. They both concerned the birth of a child – firstly John the Baptist and then Jesus.

The message to Mary contained three important elements.  Firstly ‘you are to give Him the name Jesus’ – which indicated that His mission would be to save.

Secondly, ‘He will be great’ – for He would also be called ‘the Son of the Most High.’ – This was an acknowledged messianic title and Mary would have understood it that way.

Thirdly, ‘He will reign over the house of Jacob forever; His kingdom will never end.’ –  Here was a fulfillment of prophecy.

Gabriel painted for Mary a picture of a child who would be Saviour, Son of God and King – three stunning titles. Mary was both ‘greatly troubled’ and obviously mystified by the message that Gabriel delivered – and would have been overawed when He explained further,

“The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God … For nothing is impossible with God.” (Luke 1:35-37)

Both from the message and the manner of His conception Mary would have known that this would be no normal child.

We can only imagine what it must have been like for her to come through such an experience, to face up to telling Joseph – her husband to be – and see his initial hurting reaction , and to inform her family as well. And then, when she had the time to let it sink in and  to reflect on it all, to come to terms with the growing realisation and understanding that for all eternity she would be the Mother of the Lord Jesus Christ.

The challenge to us to not just to believe in this marvellous happening some two thousand years ago. It is also to realise that as Jesus was born through Mary into her world by the Holy Spirit, so He should be born through us into our own worlds by that same Holy Spirit. Our ministry is to allow Him to make Himself real through us.

Question:
Can I give the same answer that Mary gave?

Response:
“I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May it be to me as you have said” (Luke 1:38)

Prayer:

Lord You have chosen to come and live within me. Please help me to believe and know that reality – and to allow You to shine through me into the world in which I live. Amen.

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He’ll fetch me

“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)

Reflection:
The Lord Jesus is not only ministering His blessing into our lives and needs today. He is also preparing for our eternal future with Him.

  • “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” (John 14:2)
  • “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him” (1 Corinthians 2:9)

There will come a time when the Lord will put an end to time and history as we know and experience it now. He will come again in His eternal power and glory to finally establish His rule and authority, do away with all evil, and usher in the new age which He has planned.

  • “Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” (Revelation 21:1-4)

We live in the in-between times – after the Lord’s first coming and before His promised second coming.

  • “After he said this, he was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight. They were looking intently up into the sky as he was going, when suddenly two men dressed in white stood beside them. “Men of Galilee,” they said, “why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.” (Acts 1:9-11)

We do not know when this will happen. It could take place during our life-time or in the years to come. However of one thing we can be sure – it will take place. Until it does we are called to live for the Lord in faith and trust, honouring Him in all we think and say and do. We are on a journey with a Divine presence and a Divine destination. And it is all centred on Christ, the wonder of whose human birth we are about to celebrate.

Response:

“So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” (2 Corinthians 4:18)

Prayer:

Bless me Lord with faith in You and the future that You have planned for me and for all believers. Amen.

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