Softly, Spoke the River

The Light of Christ


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Share the Blessing

“On the last and greatest day of the Feast, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.”
(John 7:37-38)

Reflection:
The Holy Spirit is not given to us as our own private possession and only for our own blessing. God always has a greater vision than that. His vision encompasses the whole world.

In the Sermon on the Mount Jesus also taught His disciples that they were the ‘light of the world’ a description that had been given to Him. It is clear that it is the light of Christ within us that is to shine out and be a source of hope and life to those around us.

The picture of ‘streams of living water’ is extremely attractive – particularly to thirsty and footsore travellers. Jesus invitation, commencing with the word ‘anyone’ makes it clear that there is no exclusivity involved. The gift is for all ‘whoever’ will believe.

It is important that we remember that whatever situation we may encounter today, and whatever rooms we may walk into, the Holy Spirit is looking for an opportunity to flow out and touch someone’s life. We should be prepared to open the ‘gates’ to allow it to happen. It starts with silently praying for those we meet and then taking whatever loving action is prompted by the Spirit. We all can be the vehicle of a blessing today.

And as the Spirit flows from us He also flows in a fresh stream into us.

Response:
Look with God-directed eyes, pray with God-prompted hearts, reach out with God-empowered words and hands.

Prayer:

Holy Spirit please fill me with this ‘living water’ of Your presence – and flow from me into the lives of those around me who so need Your blessing. Amen.

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Thirsty for God

“As the deer pants for streams of water,
so my soul pants for you, O God.
My soul thirsts for God, for the living God”
(Psalm 42:1-2)

 

Reflection:
So many of the problems and dissatisfactions of life come down to this – we are drinking from the wrong sources and they do not satisfy us. Our souls long for something more, something deeper and something more satisfying and helpful. When we don’t find it we are tempted to try new drinks and involvements to find if they might help. But they don’t except through their novelty.

Every one of us has this deep craving which more knowledge, more meetings, more experiments and more relationships don’t satisfy. It is a craving for God Himself – not just any god, the ones we conjure up or the one’s the world produces but – the God of Love who made us for Himself and understands us and all of our needs.  It’s not even more church or more Bible Study, although they should help, it’s more of God Himself.

David put his finger on it when he wrote “my soul pants for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.” Jesus affirmed it when He said to the woman at the well,

“If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water …. a spring of water welling up to eternal life”
(John 4:10 & 14)

Eugene Peterson with his flair for the poetic puts it wonderfully this way in The Message,

“A white-tailed deer drinks from the creek;
I want to drink God, deep draughts of God.
I’m thirsty for God–alive.”
(Psalm 42:1-2)

He interprets Paul like this,

“Don’t drink too much wine.
That cheapens your life.
Drink the Spirit of God,
huge draughts of him.”
(Ephesians 5:18)

Response:
Keep asking God for (more of) the Holy Spirit. Ask God to show you His works during the day. Ask Him to show you His love and reality in Scripture as you read it. Be expectant.

Prayer:

Please open the eyes of my spirit Lord that I may see more of the Lord Jesus in my life. Amen.

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Find Your Treasure

“You will show me the path of life.
 In your presence is fullness of joy.
In your right hand there are pleasures forevermore”
(Psalm 16:11)

 

Reflection:
The Bible is full of treasures that speak to us in particular ways at different times. This one has always been a great friend that seems to keep appearing before me.

It reminds me that God is involved in my life. As the Good Shepherd, and as the Lord, He always goes before me and tells me to follow Him. In this way He will show me the way to go. It will not be merely a good way, or just a pleasant way, or even the easiest way. It will always be the best way for me in any situation. It will be the way of life now that is a part of the Way of Life that brings me fully and finally into His eternal presence and love.

But I may also know the reality of His presence even now – today and every day. Jesus promised to be with us always (Matthew 28:20) and the Holy Spirit whom He has given us resides within us. This means too that I may know the pleasure of this presence. In fact it is far more than pleasure, it is joy – and joy to the fullest possible extent known to humans. Jesus said to us that

“I have told you this so that my joy may be in you
and that your joy may be complete”
(John 15:11)

The final promise always raises a picture for me that comes from my childhood. My father would come home and sometimes hold out his closed right hand to me to indicate that there was a gift inside. I would take his great hand in my own small one and try to peel open his fingers so that I could access the treasure within. Whenever we are in God’s presence He has a gift for us that is either relevant to our need of the moment or is just a love token from our Father of great love. It is there for us to find and grasp.

We miss out on so much if we dash in and out of the presence of God. There do need to be times when we soak in His presence and His Word – allowing Him to draw closer and to give us more of Himself.

Response:
Ask Him to open these words to you – and for you.

Prayer:

Father help me to enter more fully into Your presence and allow You to choose how to bless me today. Amen.

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Divine Artist

“Where morning dawns and evening fades
you call forth songs of joy”
(Psalm 65:8)

 

Reflection:
I have loved and still love God’s great gifts of morning and evening, sunrise and sunset, dawn and dusk. And I understand fully the translation which proclaims,

“The gates of the morning and evening
sing Your praise.”

I have been fortunate enough to know times when I could sleep next to the ocean with curtains wide. And, as the sun began to show its golden rim above the distant horizon, I have sprung from my bed and gone out to greet the dawn.  There with the surging and whispering sea I have welcomed the morning with wonder and praise. Every part of me has thrilled to the sense of God as He has ushered in another opportunity to know and enjoy His love and life.

At other times I have stood knee-deep in the swirling surf and watched in awe as the sun went down in a sky-wide blaze of glorious colour. And as I gazed in speechless and almost tearful wonder the Artist produced another range of colours from His palette. With gentle hand and loving touch He painted the silent clouds again and again with ever-softening hues – turning often to watch my face and smile.

Eugene Peterson translates it like this.

‘Dawn and dusk take turns
calling ‘come and worship’

It is a message for all to see and hear – if only we will. For a glorious moment it lifts our eyes and our spirits from the obsessions, the pain and the burdens of the moment. It offers us an injection of cleansing beauty, of enlightening truth and of blessed hope. It’s a space in which to pause and say’, ‘Of course; Thank You,’ and to be still. For silence also is praise to You, our great God of love.

Response:
Make time to look and wonder at the God of creation.

Prayer:

Lord help me to hear the voice of Your creation as it reaches out to me in love and blessing. Amen.

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Be filled with the Spirit.”
(Ephesians 5:18)

 

Reflection:
There are certain truths we need to grasp about what Paul is saying to us.

The first is that it is written in the imperative mood – that is it is not a suggestion or some spiritual advice but an authoritative command addressed to us by an apostle of Jesus Christ writing under the inspiration of the same Holy Spirit. It becomes, therefore, a responsibility that we are not at liberty to avoid. To be filled with the Holy Spirit is not optional but necessary for all followers of the Lord Jesus.

Secondly, Paul is addressing himself to the whole Christian community – made up of each individual. All of us, singly and together, are to be filled with the Holy Spirit. This fullness is not something reserved for an elite few but is available to, and required of, every individual.

“Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good.” (1 Corinthians 12:7)

Thirdly, it is written in the passive voice and is interpreted in the New English Bible as ‘Let the Holy Spirit fill you.’  As the Holy Spirit comes to us as the gift of the Father and the Son He is not something that we earn but on the contrary are not to avoid, block or hinder. In fact we are to seek more of His presence and fullness and open ourselves to Him at all times.

Fourthly, Paul is writing in the present imperative tense, the meaning of which is to go on being filled. The gift of the Holy Spirit is not a once-off experience but ‘a privilege to be renewed continuously by continuous believing and obedient appropriation.’ We need to be filled with the Spirit and go on being filled every moment of every day. In this way our relationship with the Lord will deepen and develop.

“If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” (Luke 11:13)

We can ask God every day to continue to fill us, we can turn to the Spirit for guidance, wisdom and strength, and we can soak ourselves in the Scriptures – particularly the New Testament. The Spirit cannot be separated from the Word that He inspired and will never act or have us act contrary to that Word. By a regular and prayerful reading of Scripture we open ourselves to God and allow the Spirit to both inform and form us in the process.

The Holy Spirit is God within us – seeking to transform us more and more into the living reality of the sons and daughters of God.

Response:
Read the New Testament (again) praying that He will speak to you personally as You read.

Prayer:

Heavenly Father, please fill me and continue to fill me with the wonderful gift of Your Holy Spirit –and help me to recognise and to be attentive to Him. Amen.

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Information or Formation

“God has revealed it to us by his Spirit.”
(1 Corinthians 2:10)

Reflection:
The living truths of God cannot be established and received without the Holy Spirit. It is the Spirit who reveals and gives life to these truths within us at a spiritual level. There they become not just knowledge but life-changing and liberating reality.

The Scriptures were inspired by the Holy Spirit.

  • “All Scripture is God-breathed” (2 Timothy 3:16)

The Bible can be read and studied as historic literature in the same way as any other and certain truths may be identified and established. However the danger is that they remain a store of knowledge to be used and abused as it suits us. Jesus challenged the religious leaders on this when He exclaimed,

  • “You diligently study the Scriptures because you think that by them you possess eternal life. These are the Scriptures that testify about me, yet you refuse to come to me to have life” (John 5:39-40)

As we read these same Scripture under the guidance and revelation of the Spirit, who inspired them in the first place, we discover that they are both a revelation of God and a revelation within us from God. They are not meant to be merely an historical record and a list of do’s and don’ts – they are meant to be God  speaking His eternal love, light and life into our individual and corporate lives today and every day. We need God’s help because

  • “The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned” (1 Corinthians 2:14)

The Scriptures both invite and demand a response from us – for throughout them the message rings out calling us back to the Living God and into His love, forgiveness and grace. It is a call to abandon the ways of a fallen world and to embrace the Way of Christ. It is an invitation for us to leave the world’s darkness and to enter into the glorious Light. It is an assurance that we no longer have to search for love but to receive Love. It is the comfort of knowing that when we can’t God says simply “I can.” It is the liberating wonder of knowing, when we fear that we will never be good enough for Him, that He is good enough for us!  For

  • “We have not received the spirit of the world but the Spirit who is from God, that we may understand what God has freely given us”  (1 Corinthians 2:12)

Response:
Keep asking the Holy Spirit for guidance and understanding

Prayer:

Almighty Father pour out Your Spirit on us today that we might walk in Your light, life and love and by Your grace know Your presence. Amen.

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He Comes as Truth

“But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes,
he will guide you into all truth”
(John 16:13)

 

Reflection:
The Spirit of God has to be the Spirit of Truth. There can be no untruth in God at all and so Jesus described Himself as “ ..the Truth..” (John 14:6)
As a first priority the Spirit will focus on Jesus Christ in whose birth and baptism, life and ministry He was so involved.

  • “He will testify about Me” (John 15:26)
  • “He will bring glory to Me” (John 16:14)

The Holy Spirit will also act to do something that the world and humankind is incapable of achieving.

  • “When he comes, he will convict the world of guilt in regard to sin and righteousness and judgment: (John 16:8)

He will convict the world not only of sin itself but of the greatest sin which is that “men do not believe in Me.” – the Me being Jesus Christ and God’s greatest gift.

He will convict the world of righteousness – the rightness of Jesus Christ as the Lord and Saviour of the World and the only Way to God.

He will convict the world of judgement – in that Jesus Christ has supreme authority over all of creation and He will come again in great power and glory to judge the living and the dead. In this regard the ‘prince of this world now stands condemned’ through the glorious revelation of Jesus Christ.

Both the Church and the world have gone very soft in all of these areas. This means that today the first focus of the Holy Spirit must be to glorify the Lord Jesus, and do His work of convicting, within the Church itself and the individual lives of its members. The world will not be convinced or convicted until the truth and life of the Spirit is revealed in those who believe.  Therefore those who know the Lord must take sin seriously before those who don’t know Him will do the same. When that happens our glorious message will ring out and be heard as we

  • “go on before the Lord to prepare the way for him, to give his people the knowledge of salvation through the forgiveness of their sins” (Luke 1:76-77)

Response:
It starts with me

Prayer:

Holy Spirit of God please help me to open myself to You so that You may glorify the Lord Jesus within me and lead me into the knowledge of the Truth in Jesus Christ my Lord. Amen.

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