Life eternal

“I am the resurrection and the life.
He who believes in me will live, even though he dies;
and whoever lives and believes in me will never die”
(John 11:25-26)

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 Christ and comes from Him. It rests in no one and in nothing else. No quality of life can earn it – and once received no one is able to remove it.

He revealed His authority over death in His resurrection of Lazarus 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 life-giving 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 too. 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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Law and Grace

“Then Moses said to the people,
 “Commemorate this day, the day you came out of Egypt,
out of the land of slavery,
because the LORD brought you out of it with a mighty hand”
(Exodus 13:3)

Reflection:
The Lord God rescued the Hebrews from their slavery in Egypt and their bondage to Pharaoh. He brought them to Himself at Sinai where He gave them the choice of becoming His special people. From there He led them to the Promised Land – the land He had promised to Abraham, Isaac and to Jacob whom He renamed Israel.

This Exodus from Egypt which commenced the formation of the nation as the people of God prefigures our own spiritual journeys as God calls us out of our human bondage and slavery to sin – into which we were born as the sons and daughters of Adam.

Their passing through the waters of the sea under the pillar of cloud became known as their baptism into Moses, foreshadowing our baptism into Christ by water and the Spirit. In both cases the old life is to be left behind and the new life embraced.

  • “They were all baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea” (1 Corinthians 10:2)
  • “Jesus answered, “I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit” (John 3:5)

At Sinai the people were given the Law which was to govern their relationship with God and was their contribution to His Covenant.

  • “Now if you obey me fully and keep my covenant, then out of all nations you will be my treasured possession. Although the whole earth is mine, you will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.” (Exodus 19:5-6)

Not only were they completely unable to keep the provisions of the Law but we know that we are too. There is no pass mark under the Law other that 100% and only Jesus was able to achieve that. So the Law shows us our weaknesses and prepares us to acknowledge our desperate need for a Saviour. In truth we will never fully appreciate and value Grace until we have battled and fallen before the Law.

  • “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23)

Our journey with God, therefor, brings us to a different mountain-top, the one crowned with a cross. And here we meet the end of the Law and the establishment of the New Covenant of Grace. Jesus spells it out for us –

  • “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)
  • “Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God– children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God” (John 1:12-13)
  • Jesus answered, “The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.” (John 6:29)

And when the Israelites came to the Promised Land for the second time they entered not on the basis of their works but because they believed. And when we turn to the Lord we enter into His salvation not because we have earned it but because we believe in the love and provision and the wonderful grace of our Lord. What an amazing God is this!

Question:

Am I saved only by grace through faith – or am I trying to earn it?

Prayer:

“Lord I believe – help my unbelief.” Amen

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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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One, narrow gate

“O LORD …. please grant success
to the journey on which I have come.”
(Genesis 24:42)

Reflection:
Life is a journey – a journey with a beginning, a middle and an end. We had no say in its beginning and have little, if any, say in its certain end. However we do live in a vital part of it – the middle that joins the two.

God initiated our journey. He purposed and planned to give life to each one of us – you and me. We were each a part of His plan from all eternity. He chose to give us life, and chose also where and when that life should begin.

“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you”(Jeremiah 1:5)

God desires to be a part of our journey. He has not made us and abandoned us – in fact He is with us. We may ignore and forsake Him but He never turns away from us.

  • “Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there” (Psalm 139:7-8)
  • “The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you” (Deuteronomy 31:8)
  • “And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (Matthew 28:20)

God knows the right way. The ways of the world are not the ways of God. He calls us to a different path, a higher and less obvious way and to the narrow gate that leads to Life. It is the way that He has laid out for us and along which He Himself will guide us.

  • “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it” (Matthew 7:13)
  • “I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved” (John 10:9)
  • “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6)

Only God can promise success to our journey of life. The world cannot deliver what it appears to promise. God’s ways and life will deliver what He promises. And, of supreme importance, only God’s Way will lead us home – home to God and the place and life that He has prepared for us.

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

And on this journey the one work to which me must devote our primary effort is this,

  • “Jesus answered, “The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent” (John 6:29)
  • “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight” (Proverbs 3:5-6)

Response:
Walk close to the Lord, and in His ways, all day.

Prayer:

Lord Jesus You called us to follow You. Please help me to stay very close to You, to discern Your guidance and to trust and follow Your lead as we journey together. Amen.

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Freely Given

“Be sure to fear the LORD and serve him faithfully with all your heart;
consider what great things he has done for you”

(1 Samuel 12:24)

Reflection:
If we were not so caught up in the modern attitude of self-absorption we might be able to see more clearly and with far more appreciation.

The essential person within each of us is unique and a gift from God. The created order in which we live is a gift from God. Our ability to see it, and appreciate it, and understand it, and work within and with it are gifts from God. Each one of our senses is a gift from God. Our abilities and talents are gifts from God. Our sensitivities and emotions are gifts from God. Our abilities to know, understand and communicate with each other are gifts from God. Love is a gift from God.

Things like electricity, plumbing, computers, television, smartphones, microwaves, medicines, medical equipment, motor vehicles, aeroplanes, ships and so many other things are gifts from God – built into the created order that He has made available to us.

The sun, the moon and the stars are gifts from God. Birds and bird-song, the fish of the seas and the animals of the earth are gifts from God. Plants, grass and crops are a gift from God. Rain and wind are gifts from God. The seasons are gifts from God. The towering mountains and the shaded valleys, the rivers and the seas, the forests and the plains are gifts from God.

God is a gift from God. Jesus Christ is a gift from God. The Holy Spirit is a gift from God. Our relationship to the Father as His sons and daughters is a gift from God. The Holy Bible is a gift from God. The Cross, the Resurrection, the Ascension and the Second Coming are gifts from God. Salvation is a gift from God.

Response:
“Everything comes from you, and we have given you only what comes from your hand.” (1 Chronicles 29:14)

Prayer:

Lord open my eyes that I may see, marvel and be grateful. Amen.

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Everlasting Arms

“The curtain of the temple was torn in two.
Jesus called out with a loud voice,
 “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.”
When he had said this, he breathed his last”
(Luke 23:45-46)

Reflection:
The curtain of the Temple was torn in two – from top to bottom. This was the curtain that hid from view and entrance the Holy of Holies – the place where the presence of God dwelt. Only the High Priest was allowed to enter, and then only once a year on the Day of Atonement. Now, finally, the barrier had been removed through the birth, life and death of the Lord Jesus. The way to God was opened for anyone who would enter through faith in Christ.

Jesus then died with the loveliest of prayers on His lips.  Barclay tells us that this prayer from Psalm 31 was taught by Jewish mothers to their children for them to say as they prepared for sleep. Jesus added just one word to it, the word ‘Father.’ And as He sang it out so He sank gratefully into ‘the everlasting arms.’

“Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.”

Jesus had died.

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He’s done it!

“Jesus said, “It is finished.”
(John 19:30)

Reflection:
Finally it was all over.

Like an exhausted but triumphant long-distance runner Jesus had reached the end of His race. He was breasting through the tape. He had achieved the goal for which He had been sent. He had not given way to temptation, to pain and suffering, to abuse and humiliation. All that He had been given to do and to bear had been achieved – and He had been obedient and faithful to the very end.

Around God the angels must have begun to breathe a sigh of relief and exultation. And we can imagine that there was a quiet smile of love and pride on the still tear-stained face of the Father. For truly,

“You are my Son,
whom I love;
with you I am well pleased.”
(Luke 3:22)

Look at My Son,
Love of My Love,
In whom I delight!

As we look back we can only begin to imagine and grasp just how much hung upon the faithful and persevering achievement of the Man upon the cross. My life and your life and all our lives hung with Him in the balance. For He achieved what none of us could even begin to achieve. And he revealed a love we had not even begun to imagine. And He gained for us a future that was love and light instead of misery and darkness. And as His life ended here ours in eternity really began. For truly

I was there when they crucified my Lord.
I was there when they nailed Him to the tree.
Oh, sometimes it causes me to tremble, tremble, tremble,
For I was there when they crucified my Lord.

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