Transformed

2015.06.30

“And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.”

(2 Corinthians 3:18)

Reflection:
It was Jesus great criticism of the religious leaders that

“You diligently study the Scriptures because you think that by them you possess eternal life. These are the Scriptures that testify about me, yet you refuse to come to me to have life.” (John 5:39-40)

Their minds and understanding were veiled and dulled with prejudice and self-centred human reasoning. However, Paul teaches,

“whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away.” (2 Corinthians 3:16)

It is when we turn to the Lord with open hearts and minds, to receive Him and from Him, that change really begins to take place. Unhindered by legalism and prejudice, by false image and selfish desires, we begin to see the Lord as He is. As this happens, and His Light to an ever-increasing degree enters into us, so we begin to change.

As this relationship with the Lord continues and deepens we become more like Him and less like the worldly person we were. We may not always perceive this change as it does not always happen in the ways that we would choose. We may find ourselves battling with some issues and short-comings that distress us – and as we focus on them we may fail to perceive what God is doing in other areas of our lives and characters.

One thing is certain. God is at work in our lives with the intention of transforming us into the likeness of Christ with ‘ever-increasing glory.’ It is a process – something that He does as we journey with Him and He with us. There will be hills and valleys, darkness and light, sin and forgiveness, but the glorious truth 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)

Response:
“Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding;” (Proverbs 3:5)

Prayer:

Lord God, help me to keep my focus and thoughts on You as I walk through life – and to trust You to work Your will in me at all times. Amen.

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Incomparable

2015.06.29

“Who is like you—
majestic in holiness, awesome in glory,
working wonders?

(Exodus 15:11)

Reflections:
On a certain day in history the Lord God Almighty parted the sea waters and led the Israelites through them to safety. He then brought the waters together again and destroyed the pursuing Egyptian army, ending the Hebrew bondage. Years later He was to part the waters of the Jordan to allow them to leave the desert behind them and enter into the Promised Land.

On another day in history, more than a thousand years later, this same God was to tear apart the curtain of separation in the Temple – as His Son died upon the cross outside of the city. On the third day His Son rose from the bondage of death and stepped into the freedom of eternal life on His way back to the Father. The power of death had been destroyed once and for all.

On yet another day in history this same God sent the Holy Spirit to live within those who believed in Jesus Christ – and those who would believe in Him in the future. He would not only bring to them new life, special gifts and spiritual fruit but would also be the seal and guarantee of their eternal life with God in Jesus Christ.

And on still another day in history the Lord Jesus Christ will come again in all of His divine glory ……

Who, indeed, is like our great God – ‘majestic in holiness, awesome in glory, working wonders.’

Response:
Make God an every moment part of your journey. Dedicate everything to His honour and glory.

Prayer:

Father please help me to trust You fully, to walk closely with You and to devote every moment of my life to You. Amen.

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Glory!

2015.06.24

“From the ends of the earth we hear singing:
“Glory to the Righteous One.”

(Isaiah 24:16)

Reflection:
Through this verse God reminded me this morning of a wonderful truth.

Already in heaven His praises are being sung for the full and final triumph that He has achieved. For those who will hear it this glorious worship and thanksgiving is coming towards us. It reaches out to us down the roadway of time to inspire and encourage us onwards – in our journey towards an end that is already certain.

On the one hand our ‘life is now hidden with Christ in God’ (Colossians 3:3) whilst on the other we are on the way to our final fulfilment in Him. As Christians our eternal future is secure in the Lord even whilst our earthly journey has still to be completed.

God is being glorified even now for what He has done in our lives – yours and mine – and in the lives and life of His creation. Whatever our present circumstances, and whatever may happen in the future, God’s victory is permanent and His planned purposes secure. His will will be done on earth even as it has been done in heaven.

Even over the scenes of desolation being described by the prophet a song of praise breaks out – it is the new song of the Revelation – the song of the redeemed. We are a part of that song – even now.

Response:
Take a moment to be encouraged and to join in the worship of the Lord in whose hands both you and your future are secure – and glorious – in His love and power.

Prayer:

Yes Father, Yours is the Kingdom, the Power and the Glory – in my life today and forever. Help me to trust You and believe in You as I journey forward with You and to You. Amen.

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My Delight

2015.06.23

“Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers. But his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night.”

(Psalm 1:1-2)

Reflection:
In this world it is vital to have a Godly wisdom and values as our guide and our yardstick – against which we can measure and assess everything and everyone else. Without being aware of it we soak in many of the values and practices of the world, and through any association with ‘the wicked’ or ‘sinners’ we may find our lives and values corrupted by them.

To ‘delight in the law of the Lord’ is to realise that it contains the revelation and directives of God – and gives us not only a set of standards but help as well from day to day. The gospels and the letters are essential food for us as Christians – and the Old Testament provides us with a background of wisdom and understanding of God’s faithfulness, commitment and love.

The true value of Scripture is not just in reading it and knowing the words and the stories. It is not merely a seeking after a new set of laws. As we ‘meditate’ upon it – think about it, ponder it, pray it through and wrestle with it, and seek its relevance in our lives and living – we discover three things.

• Firstly we develop a deeper understanding of its essential message and personal meaning.
• Secondly, and because it is the word of God, it draws us closer to Him at a personal level – for Scripture is not an end in itself but a personal introduction to the Living Lord.
• Thirdly, and ‘delightfully’ there is the awe and wonder as we discover God speaking personally and directly into our lives – the Almighty Father talking to His beloved child.

Response:
Soak yourself in a Gospel – like John – and in a letter – like the glorious Ephesians. Make them your best friends.

Prayer:

Father please open Your Word to me, and me to Your Word, in new and deeper ways – so that I may be drawn closer to You. Amen.

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Holy Lord

2015.06.22

“Holy, holy, holy is the LORD Almighty;
the whole earth is full of his glory.”

(Isaiah 6:3)

Reflection:
The life-changing moment for Isaiah was that of his great vision of the Lord. It was through this clearer understanding of the absolute holiness of God that he saw the truth about his own sins and sinfulness far more clearly. Overcome by God’s glory, majesty and holiness he cried out –

“Woe to me!” .. “I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the LORD Almighty.” (Isaiah 6:5)

But God was ready for him. In response to this great cry of acknowledgement and need a seraph came and ministered to him with the words ‘your guilt is taken away and your sin atoned for.’ Forgiven and cleansed he was ready to be God’s spokesman – to speak of His glory, majesty and power as well as His love, intimacy and forgiveness.

He prophesied and proclaimed the great truths about God and His relationship with His chosen people.

God is One – there is no other. Where the idols who were worshipped could not even move themselves about ‘the Holy One of Israel’ can lift and carry His people. As God declared ‘apart from Me there is no God.’
God is Sovereign over both creation and history – His will and purpose will be achieved. ‘The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth.’ ..‘He brings princes to naught and reduces the rulers of this world to nothing.’
God is Holy – sin cannot be condoned or allowed into His presence. He is not human but totally different. The ‘Holy, Holy, Holy’ of the vision, the word repeated three times, underlines God’s separateness, absolute purity and total power.
God is Judge – He, and He alone, will judge humankind according to His standards and His perfect knowledge. All people and all nations are accountable to Him.
God is Redeemer – there is no other with such power and love. He called upon His Servant to take His message of redemption to all people. This Servant would delight in God – and in his eternal kingdom righteousness and peace would prevail. He would be the one who would suffer and die willingly, and then experience the victory beyond death, the victory of the redemption of humankind – for whoever would believe.

This is our great and wonderful God who is totally beyond our comprehension in holiness, majesty and power. Yet out of His great love for us He has revealed Himself to us, taken His righteous judgement of us upon Himself and committed Himself to us for all eternity. And He has invited us to approach Him freely in prayer.

Response:
Keep looking and praying for your vision of God to grow in truth.

Prayer:

Lord God, please increasingly open my eyes and understanding to the wonder of Your majesty, holiness and love. In Jesus name, Amen.

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God’s Strength

2015.06.19

“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power”

(Ephesians 6:10)

Reflection:
We have been called to

“Live a life worthy of the calling you have received.” (Ephesians 4:1)
• “Live as children of light” (Ephesians 5:8)
• “Be imitators of God” (Ephesians 5:1)

This is clearly beyond our human powers, even without any spiritual opposition. So Paul reminds us that we can only live out our Christian calling in the strength that the Lord makes available to us, and under the victory that Christ has already achieved. We easily forget this and so it was Paul’s prayer both at the beginning of the letter and later.

“I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and his incomparably great power for us who believe.” (Ephesians 1:17-19)

“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 3:16-17)

The Lord does not call us to the impossible in our own strength but in His all-powerful and victorious strength. And His promise through the prophet still stands for us today.

“He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” (Isaiah 40:29-31)

Response:
Ask Him for the strength you need at the beginning of each day and whenever you are conscious of your need. Use these prayers of Paul’s as well.

Prayer:

Father Your power is mighty indeed. Strengthen me for the battles I face within myself and in the world around me. Help me to trust in Your great promises and love as I walk in Your calling – in Jesus name. Amen.

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Like God

2015.06.18

“Be imitators of God, therefore,
as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.”

(Ephesians 5:1-2)

Reflection:
Paul has been leading us towards the supreme vision for our lives. Created in the image of God, with Jesus Christ as our example, and with the Holy Spirit as our strength and guide, we are called to live out the revelation of God.

Because ‘God is love’ our lives are to be characterized by love. We are ‘dearly loved children’ into whose hearts the love of God has been poured, is being poured and will be poured. (Romans 5:5) The model of Christ is love from beginning to end and His directives to us were all concerned with love. The fruit of the Holy Spirit, who lives within the children of God, is evidenced by, and based upon, love. (Galatians 5:22)

It is this love, said Jesus, that would be the greatest witness to the world – because it is so unlike the world.

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” (John 13:34-35)

The vision of imitating God is not a new legalism thought up by Paul, but a realisation of what is possible once we have grasped and entered into the reality of His love. It is not a seeking to be God but to live as closely as possible to the revelation of His love and holiness that we have received. Paul knew it for himself, which is how he could pray for others –

“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. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge–that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.
Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.” (Ephesians 3:16-21)

Response:
God has a vision for you – to be more like Him and less like the world.

Prayer:

Father help me to open myself to the reality of Your love and open myself to let it flow out to others as well. Amen.

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Live Light

2015.06.17

“For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord.
Live as children of light”

(Ephesians 5:8)

Reflection:
After urging us to ‘live a life worthy of the calling you have received’ Paul continues. His tone becomes more urgent.

“So I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking.” (Ephesians 4:17)

He talks of this secular world being ‘darkened in their understanding’ and ‘separated from the life of God’, being ignorant due to the hardening of their hearts. He describes them as having given themselves over to sensuality, indulging every kind of impurity and lusting for more.

We however, have been taught

“with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.” (Ephesians 4:22-24)

Jesus, as the true Light of the world, gave us also the vision of being the light of the world, (Matthew 5:14) with His light shining in us and through us. So Paul urges us not to lose the vision but to ‘live as children of light” – for the glory of the Lord, for the sake of His gospel and for the establishment of His Kingdom in our midst. It is indeed a glorious vision and a wonderful privilege – as well as a Spirit-empowered ministry.

Response:
Be a blessing somewhere today – to someone

Prayer:

Lord help me to see the vision that You have held out to us and to walk in it. Please continually fill me with Your Spirit and enable me to live to Your glory and honour, and in Your great love. Amen.

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Worthy Living

2015.06.16

“live a life worthy of the calling you have received.”

(Ephesians 4:1)

Reflection:
Paul is very insistent that, as Christians, we don’t just drift along in the ways of the world. A number of times in this letter he either urges or insists that we recognise and live out our new identity in Christ.

Here he urges (‘begs’ or ‘beseeches’ in other translations) that we identify the incredible privilege and nature of the new life into which Christ has called us and that we express it in our daily living. Jesus Himself taught that we did not choose Him but that He chose us – and that we have a God-given purpose in life.

“For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will” (Ephesians 1:4-5)

• “In him we were also chosen .. in order that we .. might be for the praise of his glory.” (Ephesians 1:11-12)

• “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)

God has formed a new society – the Body of Christ – which is to be characterised by its unity and its difference to the old, especially in its purity. We are members of that new order. Instead of walking around with its name written on the backs of our jackets we are urged to be identified by the different light that shines from us and through us – in all that we think and say and do.

Response:
Keep reminding yourself of your true identity in Christ

Prayer:

Lord by Your Spirit help me to walk through the day as Your child and with Your Light within me. Amen.

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Be Encouraged

2015.06.15

“May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father,
who loved us and by his grace gave us
eternal encouragement and good hope,
encourage your hearts and strengthen you
in every good deed and word.”

(2 Thessalonians 2:16-17)

Reflection:
Paul had no doubt that God was not a disinterested spectator in the affairs of the world, of His Church and of His people individually. His learning and his experience taught him otherwise. His encounter with the living Jesus, his experience of the Holy Spirit and the way God opened his eyes to the Scriptures convinced him of God’s presence, purpose and commitment. He lived his life accordingly.

Paul’s prayer request here is an acknowledgement of the personal presence and involvement of God. He does not prayer that messengers will be sent to us but that God Himself will reach into our lives to encourage and strengthen us. His own experience would have been of the truth of such blessing by God and of its value and importance.
Christian life and ministry can, at times, be very lonely and insecure. We may wonder where God is and if what we are about has any significance or value in the greater scale of things. We may even become confused by what appears to be contradictory teaching by different churches, by different ministers within the same denomination, and even by the ridicule levelled at Christianity by others.

We need to remember that Jesus gave His life, and His ongoing commitment, to the people who would believe in Him and continue His work and ministry. Every aspect of it, whether thought, word or deed is of importance and, if of God, contributes towards the building and extension of His Kingdom. Each one of us does indeed have a Circle of Influence, far wider in today’s world than we would at first imagine.

If God desires something to happen, whether on an international or personal front, then He will support and empower it. If God wishes you or me to lead a particular type of life – a holy life – then He will support, empower and encourage it. He will also stand with us when the enemy attacks us and attempts to scare us into inactivity or lead us astray.
We may ask and receive – and step out in that confidence.

Response:
Remind yourself of Jesus promise to be with you always, and act accordingly.

Prayer:

Lord Jesus please help me to remember that I am not alone, but that You are with me always. Please help me to think, speak and act in a way that honours You – and strengthen and encourage me every step of the Way. Amen

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