Immanuel

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Case Dismissed

“Jesus straightened up and asked her,
“Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”
“No one, sir,” she said.
“Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared.
“Go now and leave your life of sin.”
(John 8:10-11)

Reflection:
“The God who sees me” sees everything.

The teachers of the law and Pharisees brought to Jesus a woman caught in the act of adultery. The Law given by God through Moses stated that she should be stoned to death. They now confronted Jesus with the question, “What do You say?”

Jesus saw the woman and He saw her sin. Jesus also saw the religious leaders and knew that they were really trying to trap Him into an action or statement that they could then turn against Him – using it as a basis for putting Him to death. So He confounded them by acknowledging and supporting the Law but challenging them with their own sinfulness – “If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.”

Of course there was no one there who could claim to be without sin, and particularly not in His presence. So one by one they slipped quietly away. Left alone with the woman Jesus turned and looked at her once more. In the absence of the ‘two or three witnesses’ required by the Law He would not judge or condemn her – even although they both knew her to be guilty.

But even more, Jesus saw in front of Him just such a person whom He had some to save – and for whose sins He would die. So again He would not condemn her but would die in her place instead.

  • “I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” (Mark 2:17)
  • “For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him” (John 3:17)

When Jesus looks at you He does not see a sinner to be condemned, but rather one to be saved.

Response:
Let Him have your sins and weaknesses – and accept his forgiveness and life.

You might like to watch this: https://youtu.be/rFyymEvM6Dw

Prayer:

Lord Jesus I hold out my hands to You. Please forgive me for all that offends You and keeps me from being the person whom I was created to be. Please cleanse, heal and strengthen me and help me to stay close to Your side. Amen.

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Never Lost

“Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them.
Does he not leave the ninety-nine in the open country
and go after the lost sheep until he finds it?”
(Luke 15:4)

Reflection:
‘The God who sees me’ is also the God who sees me when I am not where I should be.

In the case of the Lost Sheep He notices who it is that is missing and goes off to see where it is. And, having found it, He brings it back to its proper place with joy in His heart. This is wonderful news for us because, like sheep, we have a tendency to wander off on our own and can end up in strange places. There we may have no sense of how to return and even if such a return is possible.

There is another lovely illustration in Scripture. Jesus on coming to Bethany, after being called back as Lazarus was sick, arrives after his death and burial. He is met by Martha but, we are told, “Mary stayed at home.”  Jesus obviously noticed that the sister who had once sat at His feet was not present for when Martha returned to the house she told Mary that “The Teacher is here and is asking for you.” Whatever it was that had caused Mary to hang back was dealt with and “she got up quickly and went to Him.”

The moment that we are not where we should be in terms of our relationship with the Lord He is immediately aware of it. He sees us where we are – physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually – and reaches out to us. This is what Love does!

We may feel lonely and isolated, wretched and despairing, condemned and abandoned – but He is with us. He has already found us and is reaching out to us – because that is what Love does!

And, if we feel that He is not speaking to us at the moment, it is far more likely that we are not listening to Him but are instead listening to ourselves.

Response:
Wherever you are feeling lost or hesitant before the Lord, ask Him to find you and to lead you onward.

Prayer:

Lord God, please come into the dark and lonely areas of my life with Your Light and Love – confirm Your presence to me and lead me forward. Amen.

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His eye on me

“She gave this name to the LORD who spoke to her:
“You are the God who sees me,”
(Genesis 16:13)

Reflection:
Hagar was Sarai’s Egyptian servant. When Sarah could not fall pregnant she told her husband Abram to “sleep with my maidservant, perhaps I can build a family through her.” Abram did so and Hagar became pregnant. She then began to despise Sarai who treated her so badly that “she fled from her.”

The ‘angel of the Lord’ found her and came to her as she sat near a spring in the desert. He asked her where she had come from and where she was going. When she replied that she had run away he told her to go back to Sarai and then shared with her something of what the Lord would do for her son whom she was to call Ishmael.

Hagar called the Lord “You are the God who sees me.”

It is a wonderfully encouraging episode for us all – and in particular for anyone who feels that like Hagar they are in a lonely and desert period in their life with no one who cares and understands them and their pain.  The truth is that God does care and that He has a plan and purpose for our lives – even when we feel that we are outside of His main plans and purpose.

Hagar could tell Him where she had come from but not where she was going. God then gave her the directions she needed and, to her credit, she heard and obeyed Him. God always has a plan, purpose and direction for our lives.

“I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go;
I will counsel you and watch over you”
(Psalm 32:8)

Wherever we are physically, emotionally and spiritually the Lord sees us. He sees us in our completeness, in our yesterdays, our todays and our tomorrows. He sees and knows the lonely outcast in us for whom He cares.  And, He has a word for us – a word of direction and of encouragement – even if it is, like with Hagar – to remain where we have been for the time being.

We will know that He is with us and that our lives and times are within His hands.

Response:
Give the Lord some moments during your day. Tell Him where you are and how you feel. Ask Him for His help, strength and direction. Then spend some moments in a quiet stillness trusting His presence.

Prayer:

Lord God You see me and everything about me. Help me please Lord for I need Your love, Your direction and Your healing in my life. Amen.

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Belonging and Believing

“Therefore, as God’s chosen people,
holy and dearly loved”
(Colossians 3:12-14)

 

Reflection:
The foundation of our new life in Christ is that we are “God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved.”

That truth must lie at the heart of our lives. We are chosen, we are set apart and, of paramount importance, we are dearly loved by the Lord God Almighty Himself.

In this love of God, and within our relationship with Him, is our healing, fulfilment and completion. It is because of this that we can bear with pain, suffering and rejection – and even the hurt caused by other Christians. God, in Christ, is our Life. From this centre we grow and move out in relationship to others and in witness to the world.

Because of our security in God’s great love we can then clothe ourselves with the fruit of His character and change our way of acting and re-acting to others. So the passage continues

“clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.”

These are not legal requirements but an appropriation and expression of the love and grace of God in which we now live. We will begin to discover that from the love that is deepening within us we will forgive and bless because we want to – not just because we have to. We will have discovered a new depth to love.

Response:
Look to the Lord, not to yourself

 Prayer:

Jesus, be the centre
Be my source, be my light
Jesus

Jesus, be the centre
Be my hope, be my song
Jesus

(Chorus)

Be the fire in my heart
Be the wind in these sails
Be the reason that I live
Jesus, Jesus

(Vineyard)

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Do it well

“Isn’t this the carpenter?”
(Mark 6:3)

 

Reflection:
There is something both simple and wonderful in the picture of the Son of God working with wood in the carpenter’s shop – to see Him holding something that He had made, or repaired, up to the light and saying to Himself with a quiet smile, “That’s good, very good.” It would be difficult to imagine Him turning out anything that was shoddy or designed to last only for a short period. This was the Man who had eternity as His focus, this is the maker of the world – and the One who washed feet.

Jesus gives a beauty and a dignity to all kinds of labour – a mother caring for her child, a gardener working with flowers and plants, an architect designing a building, the man who lays the bricks, a grandmother sweeping a station platform, a student puzzling over her textbooks, a window cleaner  and a father washing the dishes. Whatever there is to be done can be made into something special, and completed with the words ‘that’s good!” It becomes an offering to God.

Whatever we are called to do today can be done as an offering to God. And if we feel that it is useless or beneath us let us prove faithful in these things and trust our God of grace and love for the future. As He tells us through the Psalmist,

“Trust in the LORD and do good; ….
 Delight yourself in the LORD
and he will give you the desires of your heart.
Commit your way to the LORD;
trust in him and he will do this:
He will make your righteousness shine like the dawn,
the justice of your cause like the noonday sun.
Be still before the LORD
and wait patiently for him;”

(Psalm 37:3-7)

Response:
I do it for God

Prayer:

Father, please help me to make everything I do an offering to You. Amen.

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(Background Picture – Holman Hunt- The shadow of death – Manchester Art Gallery)

Somebody Cares

2016.08.22
“Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you.”
(1 Peter 5:7)

Reflection:
Christians are not just ordinary people – even if they once were. They are now extraordinary and need to see themselves in a new light.

We are not called to some spiritual mediocrity or to a sense that God is not that concerned about us or our condition. On the contrary the Bible makes it clear that God knows us intimately and that through Christ He wants to extend His authority over every part of our lives. That is not to make us unwilling puppets but willing and trusting expressions of His great love.

No part of our lives and being are omitted – nothing is outside of His concern. Indeed, because sin has affected and discoloured every area of life, and of our lives, His great desire is to remove that stain everywhere. He is not just a God of our Sundays but of our every moment. He is not only concerned about our Sunday liturgies but about every second and aspect of our daily lives. He is not a God of compartments but of everywhere and everything.

Our (re-) starting point is to remind ourselves of this. Then, using the picture of our lives as the houses in which we live, to keep inviting Him into each and every room, even the ones we keep most tightly closed because of the darkness, pain or fear within them. As we do we can ask Him – the Lord who died and rose again for us – to fill them with His Light, Life and Love, and to cleanse and heal them and make them a part of His eternal Kingdom.

“I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” (John 10:10)

Response:
Don’t stay as you are – ask God to heal, help and hold you.

Prayer:

Lord Jesus you stand and knock at all the doors in my life. Please come in and fill them with Your light, life and love. Amen.

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