Real Wisdom

2016.07.29

“But with you there is forgiveness;
therefore you are feared.”
(Psalm 130:4)

 

Reflection:
The Psalmist gives as the reason for his statement the fact that forgiveness of sins is found with God, and with God alone. The whole of Scripture supports his view, and would therefore agree that God should be treated with the greatest reverence and respect. The writer of Proverbs tells us clearly that,

“The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom” (Proverbs 9:10)

Anyone who treats God casually, lightly, disrespectfully and without the deepest reverence has clearly no idea of the majesty and holiness of God – nor of just how much we need and depend upon Him for this life and the next. More than one writer has expressed the conviction that our proper place would be on our faces before Him – something that is brought out dramatically in Revelations.

Although God would certainly strike terror into the heart of an unbeliever or unrepentant sinner it is not terror that the writers have in mind – for the love of God casts out fear.  It is instead a deep and awe-filled reverence, a hushed acknowledgement of His absolute power, majesty, authority and holiness, and a willing obedience to His slightest wish and command.

Coupled with this now would be the dumb-struck awe of His love, His grace, His sacrifice and His humility – as He stoops down to reach out to us, to cleanse us, to take our sins upon Himself to the cross and the grave, and to rise again in glory so as to bless us with new and eternal life.

This would bring us to a tear-filled joy that the God of holiness unsullied could love a sin-sodden wastrel, and wish to transform him and her to a child of pure and transparent beauty in whom the image of the Almighty Father is clearly evident.

God is to be treated with reverence for who He is and because He holds our lives in His hands –hands that are scarred with our salvation. Indeed,

“He was pierced for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon Him, and by His wounds we are healed.” (Isaiah 53:5)

Response:

Think on these things – and how you look at God.

Prayer:

“Our Father in heaven, hallowed be Your Name..”  Amen

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Come In

2016.07.28

“When Jesus reached the spot, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, come down immediately.
I must stay at your house today.”
(Luke 19:5)

Reflection:
Zacchaeus wanted to see who Jesus was. Because of the crowd and his being short he climbed a tree. However Jesus walked up to Him and said these words.

Watching Jesus as a spectator and so keeping Him at arm’s length is neither enough nor acceptable to the Lord. He is looking for a completely different and a much closer relationship. So He said to Zacchaeus, “I must stay at your house today.”

Notice the words ‘immediately’ and ‘must.’ They convey an urgency and importance. Jesus is passing on and this moment and opportunity might never occur again.

  • “Seek the LORD while he may be found; call on him while he is near” (Isaiah 55:6)
  • “I tell you, now is the time of God’s favor, now is the day of salvation” (2 Corinthians 6:2)

There are moments in all our lives when it seems that the Lord stands in front of us and we are very aware of Him. These may be moments of His first call to us. There may also be other moments when He is challenging and inviting us to draw closer to Him, open up more to Him and be more focussed upon Him.

C.S. Lewis had one of those moments when he paused in his investigation of Christianity knowing that to go on would be to commit himself entirely. Then he realised that not to go on would be not a pause but a rejection. Zacchaeus faced the same truth and took the step.

Response:
Where is the Lord calling you today ….

Prayer:

Lord as You open my eyes open my heart to You as well –and let me draw closer and closer to You. Amen.

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The Light of the world – Holman Hunt
Keble College, Oxford

Open Eyes

2016.07.27

“Lord, I want to see”
(Luke 18:41)

Reflection:
A blind beggar was sitting at the roadside begging when Jesus passed by. He called out to Him and when asked what he wanted said “Lord, I want to see.”

The truth is that all of us are ‘blind’ in one way or another. We can fail to see what is really going on in our own lives, in the lives of those around us and in the affairs of our community, nation and the world at large. So caught up in our own concerns it sometimes takes a major event to shock us into awareness.

It might also be true that some do not want to look too closely into the lives of others in case they get involved – and do not want to open up about their own lives because of the pain and shame that might result. So we close our eyes to these situations.

Yet if we carry on like this we will live as strangers amongst strangers, even within our families, and as strangers to ourselves.

If we look carefully at those closest to us could we really describe who they are, what they are and where they are as individual personalities? Can we discern what it is for which they long, what it is that they fear and what would bring them the greatest and deepest joy? And could we answer those questions for ourselves?

Response:
How well do I actually see!

Prayer:

Lord, please open my eyes – to You, to those nearest to me, and to myself – so that Your light, love and life may become more of a reality to us. Amen.

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Precious Tears

2016.07.26

“As she stood behind him at his feet weeping,
she began to wet his feet with her tears.
Then she wiped them with her hair,
kissed them and poured perfume on them”
(Luke 7:38)

Reflection:
Sometimes all that we have to offer Jesus is our tears. But they can be the most precious gift of all.

This was a woman who had ‘lived a sinful life’ and was known to the religious community. Here was another outcast who found in Jesus something to live for. Faced with failure, ostracism and shame there was yet one person who did not turn His back on her and shrink away from her touch. And so she wept for who she was and for the hope and acceptance that she found in the Lord.

Jesus was well able to read her tears, and the heart from which they flowed. His warm and generous acceptance of her ministry would have drawn her even further into the healing reality of His love. And whatever the reaction of the religious and secular community might afterwards have been she would always have this to hold onto and treasure within her – Jesus had not turned her away.

Nor will He turn us away when we weep before Him in horrified shame, desperate agony or aching loneliness. His desire is that we should find the wonderful reality of His healing, accepting and reviving love – and receive from Him the reason and strength to live.

Response:

“Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you.”
(1 Peter 5:7)

Prayer:

Lord Jesus You do know my fears and anxieties, my past and my present. Thank You so much for Your wonderful love that continually draws me to You to be cleansed, refreshed and strengthened in new hope. Amen.

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My Priorities

2016.07.25

“Only one thing is needed.
Mary has chosen what is better,
 and it will not be taken away from her.”
(Luke 10:42)

Reflection:
There will always be jobs to be done, houses to be cleaned, meals to be prepared, the endless lists of things needing to be done. One thing is certain – the moment we finish one task there will be another waiting in its place and calling for our attention.

However, we may not always have the opportunity or freedom to spend time with the Lord – in prayer, reading His Word, worshipping or listening to a teacher unpacking the wonders of His truth.

This is Jesus point. He would move on and all Martha would have is another meal to prepare – whilst Mary would have been fed spiritually with the lasting memory of His presence and His words.

If we keep putting Him off for when we have more time it will never happen. However if we make time for Him as a priority we will find that we are still able to do the other important things as well. And what we gain from Him will be of lasting value.

Response;
Be more intentional this week – give the Lord the first of your time, not the last.

Prayer:

Lord God help me to seek You at the beginning of each day and to give You the time in which to be with me, speak to me and listen to me. Amen.

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Holy me!

2016.07.22

“Through him to reconcile to himself all things,
whether things on earth or things in heaven,
by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross”
(Colossians 1:20)

Reflection:
This was our Heavenly Father’s sole initiative and our Lord Jesus Christ’s great and over-riding objective. To heal the breach between God and man. To bridge the gap and restore the relationship. To bring forgiveness, healing and reconciliation to the whole created order. To deal with the sin of the world and all its disastrous consequences. To set us free to enter fully and eternally into the love, grace and presence of God,

‘to present you holy in His sight, without blemish and free from accusation’
(Colossians 1:22)

The medium of reconciliation was the blood of Jesus shed on the cross in that one, great, sufficient and eternal sacrifice. It was the greatest possible act of love, grace and self-sacrifice on the part of God. In fact the Cross is the proof that there is no length to which the love of God will refuse to go in order to win the hearts of men and women.

If the Cross will not waken love in the hearts of people then nothing will – for such love demands an answering love.

Our calling is to look at and acknowledge that great love and sacrifice. Then to receive it in humble gratitude and respond to it with our love. This will be reflected in our seeking to live a life worthy of such an amazing gift – focussed always on our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

Response:
Love the Lord your God with all Your heart, and with all your mind and with all your soul and with all your strength

Prayer:

Holy Spirit please open my spirit, heart and mind to the wonder and reality of the love of God –and pour that love into my heart, in Jesus Name. Amen.

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The Body

2016.07.21

“He is the head of the body, the Church”
 (1:18)

Reflection:
A physical body without a head becomes lifeless. An organisation loses direction and purpose.

Jesus created the Church to be His Body on earth. He made it quite clear that He was the Head and expected to continue in that role for as long as the Church existed. Without Him the Church becomes powerless, unable to think the truth or to properly decide on its direction. Where Jesus sees and understands everything the vision and understanding of Church leaders is obviously limited. Without Him the Church has nothing of real value to offer its members or the world.

What is true for the Body is true for the individual members as well. Whilst we are intimately connected to the Lord as our Head – and in good relationship with each other – we can live properly and effectively. Where we lose contact with the Lord our relationships with the other members deteriorates also and all of our lives are the poorer. This is vividly portrayed in the picture of Jesus as the Vine and His followers as the branches.

It is vital that we are in good relationship and communication with the Lord. We also do need to belong in good relationship to a group of sincere and committed Christians. It is the way that Jesus intended.

Response:
Where am I – where could I be?

Prayer:

Lord Jesus please draw me into a closer and deeper relationship with You. (Please also show me where it is that You wish me to belong). Amen

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(Photo: (c) soaring eagle)

All things

2016.07.20

“By Him all things were created”
(1:16)

Reflection:
The Apostles are quite clear that all things were created by and through Jesus Christ.  They are not concerned with the ‘how,’ only with the ‘Who.’

  • “For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him” (Colossians 1:16)
  • “Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made” (John 1:3)

It is so worthwhile to look around and consider some of the things that are included in the words ‘all things.’ The sky with its clouds and sun; the night sky with its moon and billions of stars; the trees, grasses, shrubs and flowers; the birds with their songs; the rivers and seas, the towering mountains and the deep valleys; the children and the adults; the ones you love and the ones who love you – and on and on.

Then there are the unseen things – our spirits, emotions, consciences, and minds; our own creativity, gifts and skills; our capacity to like and to love.”  All things were created by Him and for Him” Paul teaches. They belong to Him and God took great delight in their creation.

Finally Paul writes that “In Him all things hold together.”  As Creator Jesus put into place the laws that govern and maintain His creation. Everything from the laws of gravity and aerodynamics, to the laws of the seasons and day and night, to the laws that govern the flowering and fruiting of trees, shrubs and plants and to the laws that govern the conception, birth and growth of human beings.

It was because of these laws, which have continued to function over all time, that scientists could aim a rocket carrying men to the place in space where they believed the moon would be when they arrived – and it was.

Response:
Think deeply on these things

Prayer:

Lord Jesus, Your Creation is vast and overwhelming, minute and startling, and invisible and breath-taking. Thank You for allowing me to be a part of it and to discover something more of You through it every day. Amen.

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The First One

2016.07.19

“He is … the firstborn over all creation”
(Colossians 1:15)

Reflection:
In Greek and Hebrew thought the word firstborn has only very indirectly a time significance. In this context there is no suggestion that Jesus Christ was the first person to be created. Instead the term firstborn is used to convey its more important meanings.

Firstborn is a title of honour. The person who holds that title is seen to be the recipient of great blessings – which might include, wealth, power and prestige. Israel as a nation was referred to as the firstborn son of God, meaning that it was the most favoured one – the one whom God had chosen.

“Then say to Pharaoh, `This is what the LORD says: Israel is my firstborn son” (Exodus 4:22)

The term was also used as a title for the promised Messiah – a title conferred upon Him.

“I will also appoint him my firstborn, the most exalted of the kings of the earth” (Psalm 89:27)

Paul is saying that Jesus holds the title of ‘the firstborn’. He is the One who will receive authority, honour and blessing from God – together with all of the created order over which He rules. He is the One who will receive from the Father everything that belongs to the Father. The Father will hold nothing back from Him.

So when in his letter to the Romans Paul says that, as the children of God, we become co-heirs with Christ we can grasp the wonderful truth. It tells us that we will all have a share in all that belongs to the Father – both spiritual and physical. Everything will be shared with us – those to whom God has given the title of His children – His sons and His daughters.

“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)

Yet there is one more thought to hold. What was born from Jesus – through whom all things were made – was born in Him first. In Him was conceived the master plan and purpose of God.

Response:
Jesus is truly Lord of all – our Saviour and our King

Prayer:

“In a loud voice they sang:
“Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain,
to receive power and wealth and wisdom
and strength and honour and glory and praise!”
(Revelation 5:12)

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Revelation of God

2016.07.18

“The image of the invisible God”
(Colossians 1:15)

Reflection:
Paul tells us that Jesus Christ is the image of the invisible God. That means that He is the perfect manifestation and revelation of God. He therefore perfectly represents God to men in a form they can see and know and to which they can relate. In this He is the full revelation of God – nothing is left out.

He is not ‘made in the image of God’ as were men and women – He is the image of God.

Where we were commanded not to make images and worship them – God has given us His perfect image to be honoured, worshipped and obeyed – not just a lifeless, mirror image, but a complete and living revelation. Jesus could therefor in all truth tell His disciples that

“Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father”
(John 14:9)

 The writer to the Hebrews affirms this when he says,

“The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word”
(Hebrews 1:3)

Clearly, we are not talking here of a physical resemblance but of a spiritual one – as God is Spirit. Our recognition and vision of Christ for who and what He is will be within our spirits – a revelation of the Holy Spirit Himself – as we look at the character, life, teaching and ministry of our Lord.

Response:

  • You are the Christ, the Son of the living God” (Matthew 16:16)
  • “My Lord and my God!”(John 20:28)

Prayer:

Lord open the eyes of my spirit so that I may know You as You really are, and love and worship You as You deserve. Amen.

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