What a Blessing

“I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened
in order that you may know ..
the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints,
and his incomparably great power for us who believe.”
(Ephesians 1:18-19)

Reflection:
Paul’s prayer for us is not that we may know of certain things but that we may know them as true for ourselves. So He prayed that

  • We might know God better
  • We might know the Hope to which God has called us

Now he goes on to pray that we might know

  • The riches of His glorious inheritance in the saints
  • His incomparably great power for us who believe

His inheritance for us is that final inheritance of which the Holy Spirit is the guarantee (v14). Peter describes it as ‘imperishable, undefiled and unfading kept in heaven for you.’ (1 Peter 1:4) Paul also calls it both rich and glorious – finding words to describe that which is beyond our present capacity to see, to hear or to imagine.

As God children we are God’s heirs and fellow heirs with Christ. (Romans 8:17) One day by His grace this inheritance will be ours and it will include everything that God has and has planned and prepared for his beloved children – us. Transformed into the likeness of the Lord Jesus we will be enabled to see and worship God as He really is, in all His glory, majesty, power and love  – and to live in His presence forever, freed from the imperfections, pain and burdens of this fallen life.

Only God’s power can fulfil the expectations which belongs to His call, and bring us safely to the riches of the glory of the final inheritance He will give us. So Paul writes of

  • His incomparably great power for us who believe
  • The working of His mighty strength

The resurrection and the ascension were a decisive demonstration of this divine power. There are two powers man cannot control and which hold him in bondage – death and evil. In Christ God has conquered both – and so is more than able to protect, rescue, liberate and transform us too.

Lord God,
enlighten the eyes of my heart
so that I may know
the riches of our glorious inheritance
in the saints
and Your incomparably great power
for us who believe.

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From darkness to Light

“I have seen the Lord!”
(John 20:18)

Reflection:
Mary Magdalene’s breathless and breathtaking revelation to the disciples was beyond imagination. Suddenly the cross and the grave were to become not huge symbols of sadness and defeat but essential milestones on Jesus journey to glory. We are not called to always remember Him as a twisted, bleeding body on a cross, nor as an invisible sadness behind a gravestone. Instead there is now an empty tomb – and we are called to engage with Him as the glorious living victor over sin, death and evil.

Jesus had once called Lazarus out from the tomb and into life, and told those with Him to remove the grave clothes, setting him free from the embrace of death. Now He was calling His disciples out of the death they had suffered through His death, away from a fixation on His grave, out of the spiritual and emotional wrappings of grief and into the new life that He had prepared and won for them. As important as His death was, and still is for us, it is only fully understood in the context of His resurrection. He died for our sins and to remove the barrier between us and God – and rose to give us life.

Jesus calls each and every one of us today to come to Him. To come out of the dark tombs in which we find ourselves, away from the graves of love and hope, up from the sepulchres of sadness and sin, deserting the vaults of failure and despair. Not only has His stone been rolled away. The stones of our physical, mental, emotional and spiritual crypts have been removed as well. It is the risen Christ now who calls to us. He does not call us to leave our prisons behind us to seek a new existence, He calls us to come to Him so that He, and He alone, can give us life – a life that is not found with or through any other person or thing.

We do not seek Christ now at His death. We do not weep at His grave. We find Him in the everyday gardens of our lives, in the rooms in which we live and the roads along which we travel. Christ is with us always.

Prayer:

Lord Jesus, a new journey has begun in Your death and resurrection. Help me to live out the freedom of Your forgiveness, the beauty of Your light and the depths of Your love – to the wonder of Your glory. Amen.

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Life Now and Then

2017-01-12

“I am the resurrection and the life.
He who believes in me will live, even though he dies”
(John 11:25)

Reflection:
This is one of the key statements made by our Lord Jesus. Our hope of any resurrection and of eternal life with God is in Jesus and comes from Him. It rests in no one and in nothing else.

He revealed His authority over death in His resurrection of Lazerus and others. Their gift of life was, at that stage, only temporary for Jesus had not yet completed His mission. His great and life-giving expression of His power for the resurrection to eternal life came in His own resurrection from the dead. Here the power of death was defeated as He rose never to die again.

“I lay down my life–only to take it up again.” (John 10:17)

Those who are united with Him by faith in His death and resurrection have nothing to fear from the death that lies in front of everyone. It is merely a door through which we pass with Him into the new life that He has promised us. So Paul could say,

“I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far” (Philippians 1:23)

The love and power of God – the eternal Father, the glorious Son and the wonderful Spirit – is such that nothing and no one can stand in the way of its expression. God is so Almighty that it is both unthinkable and impossible for His commitment and promises to fail. His will has been expressed and it will be done. He has committed Himself to it and to us. And He has founded it upon the great sacrifice and resurrection of His Son. Paul expresses it this way.

“For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:38-39)

We need to remember too that His promise of life is not only for some future date but for our present lives as well. So many people are living within their own darkness and exist where there appears to be no light or life. Jesus speaks into these situations as well. As He did when He walked amongst us He is able to bring a resurrection life into these areas as well. His ‘Come to Me’ means bring your life to Me now so that I may bring Mine to you.

Response:
Ask God to bring His life into yours wherever and however you are – and keep asking and believing.

Prayer:

Lord God, You are my strength and my song, and You have become my salvation. Please come with Your light and life into the dark and lost areas of my life so that I too may find new life in You. Amen.

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The Time is Now

2016-12-23

“But when the time had fully come,
God sent his Son”
(Galatians 4:4)

Reflection:
It was some 2000 years after God called Abraham and promised through him to bless all the families of the world.  Now, Paul tells us, this was the right time. We do not know the full answer but there are certain factors that made this time suitable from a human perspective.

Firstly, there was a general peace in the Roman empire. The legions were everywhere keeping law and order and protecting travellers both on land and at sea.

Secondly, the common language of the empire was Greek – and the Old Testament in Greek, the Septuagint, was available.

Thirdly, there was an increasing spiritual hunger. The Roman gods had lost their attraction and the so-called mystery religions had a more personal appeal.

Finally, there were the outsiders who were attracted to the idea of the Jewish God and the high ethical standards that were a part of their faith.

Within this context Paul was able to minister effectively and during a short period of ten years was able to see the church established in the four Roman provinces of Galatia, Macedonia, Achaia and Asia.

Certainly God had chosen a good time – and may even have been influential in bringing it about! And how blessed we are that some 2000 years later we can look back on it and enjoy the fullness of its meaning.

Question:
Has the Lord become fully a part of my life?

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

Prayer:

Today Lord Jesus, enter more fully into my life to rule and reign there in the fullness of your light, life and love. Amen.

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Lift your eyes

2016.06.10

“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 14:3)

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.

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 a vision of You and the future that You have planned for me and for all believers. Amen.

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(Photo: (c) Catherine Bondonno )

Giver of Life

2016.05.10

 “The Spirit gives life”
(2 Corinthians 3:6)

Reflection:
The Nicene Creed refers to the Holy Spirit as ‘the Lord the giver of life.” That’s exactly what He does and has been doing since the beginning of the history recorded in the Scriptures. He has given life to God’s will and word as well as to God’s creation and creatures.

He is also the One who brings us into the new life offered to us through Jesus Christ. He reveals the truth of the Lord and Saviour to us, enables us to receive and respond to that truth and blesses our spirits with the eternal reality of that new life. For as Jesus taught Nicodemus,

“I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit” (John 3:5-6)

As He takes His place within us as a part of our new birth and life He begins to add to our lives certain qualities and gifts that flow from Himself as God.

  • “the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control” (Galatians 5:22-23)
  • “There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but the same God works all of them in all men. Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. .. All these (gifts) are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he gives them to each one, just as he determines.” (1 Corinthians 12:4-11)

As these are allowed to develop and grow they add value and loveliness to our characters and a new, empowered purpose to our living.

“For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do” (Ephesians 2:10)

Response:
God’s desire is to make us a part of His life – not for Him to be only a part of ours.

Prayer:

Holy Spirit please lead me more fully into the new life which is in Christ Jesus our Lord and help me to open myself completely  to You. Amen.

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New Life

2016.05.09

“Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit”
says the LORD Almighty.”
(Zechariah 4:6)

Reflection:
Next Sunday the Christian Church celebrates the Day of Pentecost. It commemorates how on a real day, in a real room, in a real city, real men and real women, received a real blessing and a real experience that impacted and changed their lives in a real way.

In fulfilment of the promise of both Jesus Christ and the Father, and as prophesied by John the Baptist, the Holy Spirit entered into the lives of the believers. It was at once the final act of the saving ministry of the Lord Jesus (before His second coming) as well as the inauguration of the new era of the Holy Spirit.

It marks another crucial moment in the history of humankind. For without it, without the presence and ministry of the Holy Spirit, the life, death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus would no longer have any real and personal relevance in the lives of people today.

Nothing of significance happens without the Holy Spirit. He was present and involved in all of the great acts of God, as evidenced in the accounts of

  • the Creation [Genesis. 1:2]
  • the Annunciation [Luke. 1:32]
  • the Baptism of Jesus [Luke. 3:21-22]
  • the Pentecost transformation [Acts 2:1-4]
  • the new birth of believers [John 3:5]

We see the Holy Spirit repeatedly engaged in His activity of making the will and word of God into a reality. He is the One who continues to do so today and our lives as Christians are blessed, enriched and given a new purpose and worth through His ministry.

Response:

Blessed are You, creator God,
to You be praise and glory for ever.
As Your Spirit moved over the face of the waters
bringing light and life to Your creation,
pour out Your Spirit on us today
that we may walk as children of light
and by Your grace reveal Your presence.
Amen.

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