God at work in me

“And we know that in all things
God works for the good of those who love him,
who have been called according to his purpose.”
(Romans 8:28)

Reflection:
In this short sentence Paul sets out what for him are five unshakeable convictions. As we look at them we can begin to see their importance as foundations to our own believing, thinking and living.

They are:

  • God is at work in our lives – “God works”.

He is not a passive spectator but an actively involved God Almighty, whether or not we perceive it.

He is with us, in us and around us. As we saw yesterday He began a good work in our lives and will carry it on to completion.

  • God works for our good – “God works for the good”.

It is unthinkable that the God who sacrificed His Son for us would then work to harm His people or ignore them. From whatever happens in our lives God is able to bring a blessing.

  • God works in all things – “in all things God works”.

Not just some things but in all things. Even where we get things wrong and fail miserably God will still be at work – not least in encouraging and helping us to get up and have another go at life! And when we sin, and battle with sin, God is still able to use it as an opportunity to work in something valuable that will amaze us – particularly relating to His love for us.

  • God does this for those who love Him – “for the good of those who love Him.”

This love, as Scripture tells us, is expressed in our obedience to Jesus commands (John 14:21). By doing this we open the door for God to express Himself in and through our lives. Where we don’t we keep Him at a distance. God does not wait for perfection on our part – the first stirrings of love and obedience within us draws God closer, seeking to help, strengthen, comfort and bless us.

  • God works His purpose in our lives – “who have been called according to His purpose.”

He has a purpose for us (Ephesians 2:10) and it fits in with His will being done ‘on earth as it is in heaven.’ In His purposes our lives are planned to be significant. For this He gives us the gift of the Holy Spirit and the spiritual gifts that we will need.

 Wherever we happen to be – physically, mentally, spiritually and emotionally – God is with us. As we turn to Him in the prayer that acknowledges Him, in the love that seeks to live His way and in the faith that might even be as ‘small as a mustard seed’ we open ourselves to His working in and through us. Whatever may be happening around us God is building something in our lives and the lives of His people. Trust Him!

Response:
Learn the verse and the five convictions. Ask God to help you believe and live their truth.

Prayer:

Father Your word ‘will not return to You empty but will accomplish what You desire and achieve the purpose for which You sent it.’ Help me to take this word of Yours into my life, in Jesus name. Amen.

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Invincible Strength

“In your unfailing love, O Lord,
you lead the people whom you have redeemed.
And by your invincible strength
you will guide them to your holy dwelling”
(Exodus 15:13 CW)

Reflection:
This comes from the song of Moses and Miriam after the Lord had brought the Israelites wonderfully through the parted waters and then drowned the pursuing army of Pharaoh.  As they marvelled at the Lord’s great act of power and salvation they prophesied that He was both willing and able to take them safely into the Promised Land.

As we look back at the history of God in the Old Testament and then at the astonishing act of power and salvation in the resurrection of Jesus Christ their message must strike us with the same force. Our God is both willing and able to take us through the journey of life and death and safely into His Promised Home.

Like the Israelites we will have many challenges and experiences along the way. However there is now nothing in all creation able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:39) On top of this “in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”(Romans 8:28)

The important truth for us to remember is that God is in control of our journey. No matter where or how we are at this moment in time He is with us. He will guide and strengthen us as we need it and to the extent that we will allow Him to do so. And He will see us safely home. Our peace and fulfilment may be tasted in this life but it is only a pale foretaste of that which He has in store for us.

Response:
His love for me is unfailing and His strength invincible.

Prayer:

Lord God you are working for good in my life even now. Please help me to trust in Your love and power and to journey faithfully with You. Amen.

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Look beyond me

“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)

Reflection:
To ‘lean on our own understanding’ is to limit everything to the level of our perception.  When life is painful we tend to fear that it will always be that way – or even worse.  A good example of this is the account of the Israelites in the desert after the exodus from Egypt. No matter how much God did for them they never trusted Him for the next challenge.

So here we are urged to lift our eyes, to change our focus and enlarge our vision.  The one who loves us and has called us to Himself is the Lord God Almighty. He is the all-powerful one; He is the one who is called ‘Love’; He is the one who at huge personal cost has invited us to become His daughters and His sons; He is the one who in Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit has promised to be with us always. He is also the one who in any and every situation and circumstance knows the best way forward –

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”  (Romans 8:28)

In every road on which we find ourselves, in every challenge we face, in every situation that threatens us, in every task we undertake, in every relationship in which we are involved  – in fact ‘in all our ways’ – we need the Lord. Our first step is to acknowledge Him with His love and His power, and then to ask Him for His guidance, help and strength. The answer is then certain – He will become involved and He will take us forward and He will bless us.

The sooner we start with involving the Lord in our everyday lives, decisions and responses the more natural it will become if and when things get really challenging.

Response:
Whatever you do, feel or think today – ask the Lord to guide and help you.

Prayer:

Lord God my life is in Your hands and any merits that I might appear to have are in fact Your mercies. Please be with me and guide and help me through the light and the darkness, the days and the nights of my life – and help me to stay very close to You at all times. Amen.

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Too weak for power

“Do you refuse to speak to me?” Pilate said.
“Don’t you realize I have power either to free you or to crucify you?”
(John 19:10)

Reflection:
Again with Pilate Jesus answered some of his direct questions but did not respond to the accusations brought against Him. He was not going to fight the process ordained by God nor to squabble with the religious leaders.

Pilate was afraid of the anger of the chief priests, officials and the crowd. He was alarmed by reports that Jesus was said to be the King of the Jews and startled by the accusations that He ‘claimed to be the Son of God.’

However when he said that he ‘found no basis for a charge against him’ he was shouted down and even threatened by the crowd.

“Pilate tried to set Jesus free, but the Jews kept shouting, “If you let this man go, you are no friend of Caesar. Anyone who claims to be a king opposes Caesar”  (John 19:12)

In some frustration he confronted Jesus with the above questions, amazed that He did nothing to try and secure His release. Jesus knew that in fact Pilate was not strong enough to exercise this authority in His favour. Nevertheless He responded,

“You would have no power over me if it were not given to you from above”  (John 19:11)

Pilate was like a mouse caught in a glass cage. Twisting and turning he sought a way out as the serpentine coils of the crowd curled tighter and tighter around his space. Eventually he would give up to save himself – just as many still do.

In each of us there may be something of Pilate, something of the crowd, something of the religious leaders – until the love and grace and Spirit of the Lord transforms us. But how would they have felt on that day and afterwards?  Is the Poet Stanislaw Jerzy Lee correct when he says,

“No snowflake in an avalanche ever feels responsible”?

There was certainly an avalanche of inflamed hostility against Jesus that day.

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Alone and Silent

“Then the detachment of soldiers with its commander and the Jewish officials arrested Jesus. They bound him and brought him first to Annas, who was the father-in-law of Caiaphas, the high priest that year. Caiaphas was the one who had advised the Jews that it would be good if one man died for the people”
(John 18:12-14)

Reflection:
Having won the battle and overcome temptation Jesus now walked calmly into His future. Matthew makes this clear as He records Jesus words to the disciple with a sword.

“Put your sword back in its place,” Jesus said to him, “for all who draw the sword will die by the sword. Do you think I cannot call on my Father, and he will at once put at my disposal more than twelve legions of angels? But how then would the Scriptures be fulfilled that say it must happen in this way?”  (Matthew 26:52-54)

With that He was led away. His disciples deserted Him there and fled. They fled into the darkness of their own fear.

Twelve legions of angels armed and ready. But He did not call for them. Later on the cross He was taunted by the chief priests, but He did not respond to them.

“The chief priests, the teachers of the law and the elders mocked him. “He saved others,” they said, “but he can’t save himself! He’s the King of Israel! Let him come down now from the cross, and we will believe in him” (Matthew 27:41-42)

Jesus let God’s will play itself out around and through Him. He needed no defence for being on the right path. He would do nothing to avoid it.

“He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth” (Isaiah 53:7)

And so He sat quietly in the courtyard of the high priest’s house – and waited. Before another day had passed the pain and the trauma would be over. These were moments of stillness before the guards began to mock and beat Him – relieving their boredom by playing with the Son of God. And still He said nothing.

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Faith in Prayer

2017-02-27

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

Reflection:
Years ago when I was praying one morning the Lord suddenly interrupted me with the words,

“Do not come to me as a beggar, come as a son!”

Apart from startling me His words gave me a lot to think about. A beggar pleads – hoping to persuade. A son asks – confident in a positive response. A beggar does not know what he may or may not request. A son does because He knows his Father.

God has given us a number of promises. One of these is,

“I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go”

When we are in need of direction we can ask the Lord for guidance because of His promise. As His children we can keep on praying until we receive the answer – but not as one begging and trying to stir the Lord into action. After our initial request our prayer can change from asking to believing, for now it is not a question of ‘If’ but ‘When’. Something like this,

Father, you have promised to instruct and teach me in the way that I should go (or act or respond in these circumstances). Help me to recognise and receive Your guidance as it comes.

It keeps the prayer alive – which is good for a number of reasons. It is also a statement of faith to the Lord and a reminder to ourselves. Then we watch and wait for the answer – through Scripture, in a word, through a new understanding, a word of advice etc.

Another promise of God’s is that,

“in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose”
(Romans 8:28)

Here again we need to ask God to do so in some of the situations that worry us. Then we should look to change our request to a positive affirmation. For example,

Lord You have promised to work for our good in all things. As You work a blessing through this situation open my/our eyes to see Your hand at work.

Finally, try praying the other side of the Lord’s Prayer as well, such as,

  • Lord I believe that somehow Your will is being done in me and in my times – please help me to be a part of it.
  • Lord Jesus I believe that behind all this Your Kingdom is being established in a glorious way – help me to be a part of it
  • Lord God Almighty I believe that Your name will be universally honoured above all other names – help me to be one who does so now.

Prayer:

Lord help me to look for You in all the areas that cause me to fret and, holding them and myself before You, trust that You are with me. Amen.

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We Need You

2016-11-28

“I make known the end from the beginning,
from ancient times, what is still to come.
I say: My purpose will stand,
and I will do all that I please.”
 (Isaiah 46:10)


Reflection:
We can so quickly forget what our life and our salvation is all about. So we need to be reminded, to celebrate the wonder of it all, and to honour the God at it centre. This is why the Church has certain seasons and festivals.

The season of Advent is a time of preparation to commemorate the coming of the Saviour Jesus Christ whose birth will be celebrated at Christmas. It is also a time to reflect on why we need a Saviour, to prepare ourselves for His second coming, and for the moment when we will see Him face to face. It is a period within which to focus on reality – our reality, the reality of the world around us, the reality of sin and the reality of the awesome love and power of God. It is to acknowledge that in our present personal, local, national and international situations we really, really need a Saviour.

The world has trivialised God in turning these great celebration into commercial carnivals from which it is slowly removing the name of the Lord. On the other hand we, to whom the Lord has given the grace of faith, need to pause, to look at the true reality of what has taken place and to acknowledge with deep humility and gratitude that it has been done for us. The darkness, strife, violence and abuse that clouds the world and shatters the lives of so many will not prevail. The Light of God is already in the world and will indeed overcome and banish this darkness and all who live by it.

The true wonder of the season is not that a virgin should bear a child. It is that the Lord God Almighty, the Holy, Majestic and Everlasting One, should come amongst us in human form – to live as we live and to suffer and die in our place and for our sins.  Each celebration of this season is a reminder of the great love that God has for each one of us – and how He came to seek and to find us

Question:
Is my life aimless or a journey with a purpose and destination?

Response:
Thank God that you do not walk this life alone, that you have a mighty God to guide, lead and watch over you – God whose purpose and plan will be fulfilled in every way.

Prayer:

Heavenly Father, I thank and praise You for Your great love, Your mighty power and Your wonderful promises that have and will be fulfilled in Jesus – the one true Light of the world. Amen.

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