Home Awaits

“I will set out and go back to my father and say to him:
 Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you”
(Luke 15:18)

 

Reflection:
We may call Jesus Saviour and Lord but that does not mean that all areas of our lives are in submission to Him. This becomes a process that takes place over time as we journey with Him. We may be aware of some of these areas whilst others may appear on the way and take us by surprise. As long as they remain independent they will hinder our life with the Lord and prevent us from enjoying the fullness of the life that He has for us.

The prodigal son’s whole life had imploded on him and this is what eventually brought him to his senses. In his spiritual shame and isolation he did the only thing left open to him – he went home. There to his astonishment and delight he was welcomed, embraced and celebrated. The healing had begun.

When we realise that there are parts of our own lives that are distant from the Lord the most important response is for us to pick them up and take them back to God. This is where they belong and this is where the healing and restoration can happen. The longer we try and cope or fix them by ourselves the more difficult it may become.  As we take them to God we meet His love, His acceptance of us, His embracing and supporting arms, and His strength and help.

It might happen that in parts of our lives we keep wandering off again – pursuing some pleasure or giving in to some weakness. If this is the case and as soon as we are aware of it we need to go back with it to the Lord and ask Him for His forgiveness, healing and strength. Keep going home until you never leave again. This is not an invitation to become casual in our life with the Lord but an acknowledgement that some battles are harder and longer than others, for a whole variety of reasons.

Your home is in the Lord. Your forgiveness and healing is in the Lord. Your life and fulfilment is in the Lord. Bring all of yourself to Him all of the time – He will never reject you.

And now realise too that you are surrounded by people whose lives, or a part of whose lives, are distant from God. Some of them will feel isolated from Him whilst others will have no sense of Him at all. Inside each one of them somewhere is a lonely son or daughter who also needs love and encouragement as well as help. It might be that you are their only link at this time. Ask God to point out to you the one/s He wishes to reach and start by holding them faithfully in your prayers – asking for God’s light and blessing in their lives.

Response:
Have I any desert areas? Take them to the Lord now.

Prayer:

Lord Jesus I come to You as I am and ask You particularly to forgive, heal and set me free in these  areas of my life ……  Please accept them and bring them under Your Lordship and authority, for Your glory.  Amen.

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Found it!

“Or suppose a woman has ten silver coins and loses one. Does she not light a lamp, sweep the house and search carefully until she finds it? And when she finds it, she calls her friends and neighbours together and says, `Rejoice with me; I have found my lost coin.’ In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”
(Luke 15:8-10)

Reflection:
A great Jewish scholar reportedly said that the one absolutely new thing which Jesus taught people about God was that He actually searched for people. (William Barclay). And we see it so clearly in these two parables of the lost sheep and the lost coin.

It may be that this coin was one of ten that made up the woman’s wedding headdress and would be almost the equivalent of a wedding ring. To lose one would be like losing a diamond today from such a ring and the missing jewel would be a constant source of shame and pain.

There are similar examples in Scripture. On Aaron’s priestly breastplate there were twelve precious stones, each one engraved with the name of one of the twelve tribes. If one had been lost it would have been seen as a disaster. Much later Paul talks of the Thessalonians as being the crown in which he will glory in the presence of the Lord. (1 Thessalonians 2:19) If they were lost to the Lord Paul would have almost felt as if his value had disappeared.

Not only does God search for people but He values them as highly as a woman does her wedding ring, a high priest one of the twelve tribe he represents before the Lord, and an apostle his crowning achievement.

As we begin to recognise our great worth in the eyes of God so it should open our eyes to the value in His sight of those around us. They might seem to us, at best, like unpolished stones living dull, empty and valueless lives – but what a difference if they were properly cut and polished so that their potential beauty and value could shine forth. And that again is where we come in. As we discover our own true worth before the Lord can we fail to help others to discern the beauty and value they thought had been lost and to find it also in God?

Response:
Look for the beauty and potential in others – and encourage it.

Prayer:

Lord You are enabling me to find my true life and fulfilment in You – please help me to be a blessing to others in the same way. Amen.

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Here’s another!

“Then Jesus told them this parable: “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? And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbours together and says, `Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’ I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.”
(Luke 15:3-7)

Reflection:
The Pharisees and the teachers of the law were very critical of Jesus association with those whom they deemed to be sinners. Their regulations laid down that they were to have no dealings with such people. In fact, according to William Barclay, the strict Jews had the view that ‘there will be joy in heaven over one sinner who is obliterated before God.’

Jesus view was diametrically opposed to this – and in fact He would teach that

“the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost.”
(Luke 19:10)

This is borne out in the parable where Jesus shows that He will track down the lost – seeking to find them and to bring them safely back to their home and relationship with God. And, in each case, He tells us there will be great ‘rejoicing in heaven.’ This gives us another indication of just how special we are to God! This Jesus is with us always through the Holy Spirit and, if we do go astray, will come after us to find and recover us.

This then also tells us something of what our own attitude should be to those around us. For we are surrounded by people, so many of whom are lost in terms of their relationship with God and drifting further and further away. They may be alive to the world but they are actually dead to God. Our calling also, in terms of the Great Commission, to seek and to save what is lost.

Response:
Ask God to show you whom He is pointing you towards. Start by praying for them each day – praying that God will touch them in a way that will open them to Him.

Prayer:

Lord God thank You so much that You tracked me down and saved me. Please help  me to be a part of Your reaching out to those around me – and show me who it is for whom I should pray. Amen.

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Words from God

“The seed is the word of God”
(Luke 8:11)

Reflection:
The parable of the sower is one of such amazing good news. To see it we must make it personal.

Jesus is the Sower – He is also the one who said that He would be with us always. The field that belongs to Him is the world but, making it personal, it is our particular world. It is into our personal lives that He is sowing His seed – day in and day out, sunshine and rain, daylight and night-time. As the Word and Revelation of God He is speaking to us one way or the other all the time. And into every area of our lives.

He speaks into the hard and insensitive areas of our lives. And although His words might quickly disappear and have no apparent effect they are nevertheless there in our history. One day we might remember them in awe.

He speaks into the shallow areas of our lives – where the boulders of sin and selfishness sit firmly entrenched. And although His words attract us they cannot establish themselves because our desires are elsewhere. But they are there – and one day we will remember in awe.

He sows His word into the frantic and stressful areas of our lives – where there is so much clamouring for our attention. However the urgent calls of the world distract us and we fail to remember them amongst the weeds. But they are there even although choked out for the time being. One day we will notice them and remember in awe.

And of course He continues also to sow into any areas where we will notice, receive and attend to His word and presence now.

God is sowing into our lives every moment of every day. And this without our specific intention or invitation, but just because He is God and through His great love for each one of us. He sows through the wonder of His creation – if we would pause to look and listen. He sows through His Scriptures – if we would pause to read and reflect. He sows into our prayer life – if we choose to include Him. He sows though the good times and the hard times, the joy and the pain, the busyness and the quiet, the social pleasures and the lonely times.

God sows because He cares and longs to produce blessing in our lives.

Response:
Keep asking God what He is saying to you – He knows what you need to hear.

Prayer:

Lord Jesus You are speaking and teaching into my life. Please help me to practice being aware of You,  to still myself to listen for Your word, to recognise and receive Your word, and to trust and respond to Your word. Amen.

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Who Cares?

“Go and do likewise.”
(Luke 10:37)

Reflection:
A teacher of the law had tried to test Jesus with the question, “Who is my neighbour?” In response Jesus had told the story of The Good Samaritan where a man on his way to Jericho had been attacked by robbers and left bleeding and naked on the road. A priest and a Levite had come along and both had ignored him. Instead it was a despised Samaritan who stopped and helped the man.

Jesus point was that our neighbour is anyone we meet along the road of life – and the commandment is that we should love them as we love ourselves.

The Lord revealed an important truth to me recently after hearing a sermon on this parable. It was this –

“It is far easier to be the one who helps than the one who needs help.”

It is worth bearing this in mind as we come across people who are in need of assistance.  Not only may they not have the ability to help themselves at that point but they may also be suffering the pain and indignities of their situation. In addition they might be only too aware of the good people who ignore then because they do not wish to become involved or socially contaminated in any way. We would not wish to change places with them.

Response:
Be grateful for being able to help others in some way

Prayer:

Lord, please help me to do what I need to with a generous heart and a willing spirit. Amen.

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Make Ready

“Prepare the way for the Lord,
make straight paths for him.”
 (Luke 3:4)

Reflection:
It was in the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar that John the Baptist appeared in the country around the Jordan – preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. He was the one prophesied by Isaiah who would come to prepare the way for the Lord. In a sense the Christian Church has now taken over that role as it prepares for the second coming of our Lord – this time in all His glory.

The Church is made up of individual Christians and so the role of the Preparer of the Way is now a part of each of our ministries. This is confirmed in the Great Commissions as we read them in the Gospels of Matthew, Luke and John. Our ministry fields are the contexts in which we live, work and play. In one sense it is the reason for our being there – God has been at work without our being aware of it.

Our ministry of preparing the way for the Lord has a number of facets to it. One would be the way that we live and perform our duties. Another would be the ways in which we relate and speak to people. Still another would be the way in which we cope with pressure, trauma and tragedy – whether in our own lives or in the lives of those around us. Do we, in these ways, reveal a relationship with and trust in God.

A significant manner in which we can prepare the way for the Lord is in prayer. The situations which are a part of our everyday lives have within them people who need the Lord, or more of the Lord, in their lives – whether they are aware of it or not. In our homes, during our travelling, at work or anywhere else, we can pray for the Lord to reach out and touch these individual people in a special way. It is something that everyone can do, and keep on doing. As we look around with more awareness we will also begin to pick up the silent ways in which people reveal their need – and we can respond by holding them up to God.

Prayer is one of the most important gifts that we have been given, and it is meant to be used to the full.

Response:
Prepare people for the Lord’s coming by firstly praying for them.

Prayer:

Lord Jesus, thank You that You are coming again in glory. Please help me faithfully to hold those You have given me, and those You point out to me, in prayer for You. And thank You for those who have prayed for me. Amen.

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Take it personally!

“As they talked and discussed these things with each other,
Jesus himself came up and walked along with them”
(Luke 24:15)

Reflection:
On the day of the Resurrection two of the disciples were walking away from Jerusalem and towards the village of Emmaus – a journey of about seven miles. They were discussing ‘everything that had happened’ including the accounts of the empty tomb and the women’s report of ‘a vision of angels, who said He was alive.’ As they proceeded on their way ‘Jesus came up and walked along with them.’

How easy it is to be aware of great events and fail to appreciate their personal significance. Jesus ministry and death were important enough to occupy their thoughts and discussion. They were aware of the empty tomb and the angels report that He was alive. Yet they still walked away from the centre, presumably back to their homes, not appreciating the possible impact upon their lives of one of the most significant events in history. And, when Jesus appeared and walked with them, they did not recognise Him. It was only after He had been revealed to them that they could not wait to return to the others in Jerusalem, bursting with the good news.

We can fall into the same trap and fail to recognise the importance of a personal relationship with the Lord, the personal significance of His life, death and resurrection and the personal reality of His presence in our lives.

The wonder of it is that the risen Jesus comes to find us with the purpose of revealing Himself to us – even when we are walking in the wrong direction.

Response:
Jesus is right with you – be aware of Him.

Prayer:

Lord Jesus please help me to be aware of the reality of Your presence – and not to treat You as an object of interest. Amen.

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