Love of God 21


“I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live,
but Christ lives in me.
The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God,
who loved me and gave himself for me”
(Galatians 2:20)

God is a God of Love.

And this verse is the most beautiful and clear description of what it is to be a Christian.

  • I have been crucified with Christ – the old me, in bondage under the burden of the law, has gone
  • Christ lives in me – He has entered into and taken possession of His precious property
  • Now I live by faith in the Son of God – He who loved me and gave Himself for me

All this is a continuation of Paul’s opening statements where he says that

“The Lord Jesus Christ gave Himself for our sins
to rescue us from the present evil age,
according to the will of our God and Father”

(Galatians 1:4)

It was always God’s will that we be rescued. It was always God’s will and decision that He would rescue us Himself.  And it was God’s all-surpassing love that made it possible and turned it into a reality in Jesus Christ.

There was no merit in us that drove Him to it. There is no merit in us that keeps our place secure. It is all bound up in the love of God revealed and expressed in Jesus Christ. We are called to put our trust in Him and to keep it there.

“Then they asked him, “What must we do to do the works God requires?”
Jesus answered, “The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.”
(John 6:28-29)

I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me


Lord I do believe! Help my unbelief.  (Mark 9:24)



Personal Pruning and Planting


“Since we have these promises, dear friends,
 let us purify ourselves from everything
that contaminates body and spirit,
perfecting holiness out of reverence for God”
(2 Corinthians 7:1)

After watching Roger Federer win his sixth Australian Open and twentieth Grand Slam titles I listened to some of the post-match comments. One of them struck me as very pertinent. It went something like this.

We enjoy watching Roger in action but we don’t see him during the off-peak times. It is then that the hard work takes place. He is busy preparing himself for the challenges to come – working on his fitness and his game, ironing out the kinks and practicing new skills. Away from the crowds it can be a lonely but a critical time, and without it he would not be the champion that he is. He depends upon himself, more than his small team, to maintain his commitment and dedication. We then enjoy the fruit of that time and effort.

It is very much the same for us as Christians. It is in the personal times, away from our everyday activities, that we prepare ourselves to be the people of God and the expression of His love. It is here that we allow Him to examine us and show us the things that are not good in our lives, the ones that need to be worked on and strengthened and the new areas that should be identified and developed. It is rather like the time that Jesus spent in the desert after His baptism – recognising the main challenges that He would face and identifying a proper and Scriptural response.

Paul writing to the church in Corinth is challenging them and us to look to our own characters and lives, to cleanse them of what should not be there and add in what should. It can take commitment and time to break away from old habits and weaknesses and to establish new skills and strengths. It can be done though because we have the Holy Spirit with us to guide and strengthen us – even when humanly speaking our spirits are weak and lazy.

As we work to purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit and to perfect holiness it is not merely for our own sakes but for the honour and glory of God who has called us, as His children, to ‘be holy for I am holy.’

“As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.” (1 Peter 1:14-16)

As we focus more on what we do to prepare ourselves we will find that we are better able to meet the challenges of our public lives and to bear the fruit that the Lord has begun to develop in us.

The Holy Spirit is your coach – ask Him for guidance and listen to His prompts


Lord help me to train with You for the challenges that I will face and for the opportunities that You will prepare for me, and cleanse and equip me for Your work and glory. Amen.


With God’s Help

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

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.

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.


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.


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)

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)

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.


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)


I believe in

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son,
 that whoever believes in him shall not perish
but have eternal life”
(John 3:16)

Consider these three key statements.

  • “whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life”  (John 3:16)
  • “Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God”  (John 1:12)
  • “Jesus answered, “The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.”  (John 6:29)

It is important to note that we are not told to believe about Jesus but to go much further – to believe in Him. We can believe about something without it impacting our lives. To believe in something – or in this case someone – is to have it as a central core and foundation of our lives. James made this clear when he wrote that even the demons believed about God.

“You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that–and shudder” (James 2:19)

When we celebrate the birth of Christ at this time of the year it is not because it is fun – nor is it because it is a great historical event – nor even because it gives us pleasure, like the warmth of the sun after a cold night. We celebrate the birth of the Saviour of the World, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world, the One who is to die in our place and who rises again to give us new and eternal life. Our lives are to be so closely bound up in and interwoven with Him that His life becomes our life and ours an expression of His.

We are not asked to admire Him as some rare creation preserved and seen through the protective barrier of a glass cage – nor are we to get excited about Him as if he were a great entertainer performing for our delight and amazement on a distant stage. Instead we are expected to come to Him, to engage with Him, to open our live to Him and to invite and allow Him into every part of us – giving to Him the authority to do whatever He wishes and trusting Him that it will all be for the best.

In other words we are asked to place our full trust and faith in Him – believing in Him to such an extent that we can surrender our past to Him, live our present with Him, and entrust our future to Him, no matter what may be happening in our world at the time and in the world around us.

Faith is a decision and not a feeling. And so the great Creed begins with  “I believe in God …”


Lord Jesus I do believe in You – help me to believe in You at all times and in all situations no matter how I may feel at the time. Amen.




My Hope


“Those who hope in the LORD
will renew their strength.”
(Isaiah 40:31)


Depression, despair and dread can rob us of strength and the ability to think. They may cause us to withdraw into ourselves. Whilst the support and encouragement of others does comfort and help us they cannot deal with the issues themselves. These are our problems, concerns and weaknesses. They largely remain so unless something happens within us that enables us to confront and deal with them.

The prophet Isaiah is encouraging the people to remember their God, who and what He is and His great love for them. We need to do the same.

He is the all-powerful Creator of all that is, seen and unseen. He knows us intimately – every thought of our minds, every one of our feelings and exactly who we are and why we are as we are. He cares for us and has given all that He is to make it possible for us to know Him and enter into His love and life.

His words are not just superficial helps. They carry with them the power and truth of the One who spoke them – which is why the centurion could say to the Lord Jesus, ‘just say the word and my servant will be healed!” And it is His Spirit at work within us Who brings new life, light and love into the dark areas of our existence.

Our God is a living, loving and life-giving reality.

As we turn to Him, in whatever situation we find ourselves,
He will respond.

As we look to Him for help and guidance
He will respond.

As we hold out our hands to Him
He will respond.

And we will find our strength renewed

“The LORD is my strength and my song;
he has become my salvation.”
(Psalm 118:14)

When our Lord promised to be with us always He did mean always. And whatever the situation is that might be confronting you at the moment He, and He alone, is your way, your truth and your life. He will guide you and see you through every moment of it. Look to Him and hold on to Him.

Practice being constantly aware of God. Talk to Him. Take ‘deep breaths of Him!’


Father You love me with an everlasting love. Please help me to rely on You in all the circumstances of my life – and to acknowledge Your presence. Amen.



Do it well

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


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)

I do it for God


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


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