Let Me In

“Here I am! I stand at the door and knock.
If anyone hears my voice and opens the door,
I will come in and eat with him, and he with me.”
(Revelation 3:20)

Reflection:
From the beginning of His life on earth Jesus was excluded. He was excluded from an acceptable room and born in a stable, He was excluded by the leaders of His people and faith, and He was excluded from a normal death and burial. He was cast out to die as one cursed and then buried in another’s tomb. Significantly He was given someone else’s room at His death which no one gave Him at His birth. John puts it simply and movingly,

“He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him.”(John 1:10-11)

He is still looking for a place where He is welcomed and wanted. Apart from the glorious and meaningful invitations recorded in the Gospels, we have this major call to us after His ascension. He is affirming to us that He is still with us, knocking at the doors of our individual and corporate lives, and asking to be allowed to enter.

“Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in”

Wherever you are today when you read this, whatever state you might be in, and where you are battling with a particular issue, He is knocking at your door – or at a new inner door – asking you to open that door and let Him in so that He can deepen His relationship with you and make a difference in your life.

Come – open the door!

  • For he says, “In the time of my favour I heard you, and in the day of salvation I helped you.” I tell you, now is the time of God’s favour, now is the day of salvation” (2 Corinthians 6:2 NIV)
  • “God reminds us, I heard your call in the nick of time; The day you needed me, I was there to help. Well, now is the right time to listen, the day to be helped”  ( 2 Corinthians 6:2 MSG)

Response:
Today is the day to respond – don’t wait any longer.

Prayer:

Lord Jesus I open this door right now. Stepping back to make space I invite You in. Please come in. And now, as I close the door again help me to know that you are inside with me, never to leave. Please help me to open up to You and to walk with You into our future together. Amen.

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Beginning of Wisdom

“The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom;
all who follow his precepts have good understanding.
To him belongs eternal praise”
(Psalm 111:10)

Reflection:
True wisdom is only to be found in God and comes from Him.

He is the one, true God – of unapproachable holiness, absolute power and authority, and unquestionable love and grace. He conceived and created all things and sustains them by the power of His word. He has a plan and a purpose that He is working out and which He will achieve just as He intended – despite the efforts of man and Satan to take control.

He alone knows and understands all things – for all things are His creation and point towards Him. His are the natural and spiritual laws which govern His creation. What He has done will never be undone. What He will still do will stand forever.

Against God alone has humankind sinned – and in God alone is the forgiveness of sins and the salvation of sinners.

“If you, O LORD, kept a record of sins, O Lord, who could stand? But with you there is forgiveness; therefore you are feared” (Psalm 130:3-4)

Any wisdom that does not acknowledge God or submit to Him is, at the very best, incomplete. It would amount to a collection of truths that fail to discern the Truth. That Truth is not a concept or an understanding but a Person – Jesus Himself. He criticised the Pharisees for having searched he Scriptures and for having failed to perceive that they pointed to Him.

Solomon’s great wisdom was given to him by God – and James tells us that if we lack wisdom we should ask God for it. For, as Proverbs tells us,

“The LORD gives wisdom, and from his mouth come knowledge and understanding” (Proverbs 2:6)

    All this makes the Scriptures of great importance for they contain the story and directives of God’s dealings with His people. And as David proclaimed these directives are of great value.

“Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path. I have taken an oath and confirmed it, that I will follow your righteous laws” (Psalm 119:105-106)

Response:
Stand in holy awe of God and of the value of His guidelines for living

Prayer:

Holy and Eternal Father, please give to me the wisdom to turn to You and to seek Your will and ways for my life and living, and the discernment to recognise them. Amen.

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Listen for Me

“Blessed the man, blessed the woman, who listens to me,
awake and ready for me each morning,
alert and responsive as I start my day’s work”
(Proverbs 8:34 MSG)

Reflection:
There are three voices that speak to me at the beginning of every day.

One is my own, telling me of all my needs and wants and fears. The next is the world’s sending a flood of mixed messages – immersing me in the lives, events and traumas around the globe together with an unending stream of advertisements about things that could make my life more worthwhile. And then there is the quiet whisper of the Lord, telling me to slow down as I read His word and to listen for the message that He has for me today.

Sometimes it is hard to remember that the God of the ages, the Lord God Almighty, wishes to talk with this little being, one of the smallest grains of sand on the vast beaches of humanity. At other times it is almost inconceivable that the Saviour who hears the cries of those caught up in the latest natural and man-made tragedies should come to ‘sit awhile with me’ in the quiet stillness of the early hours. And yet He is always ‘there’ – always with me, always listening and attentive, always with a response, even if it is just the special silence of companionship.

Time and again He has something for me, some word of encouragement or direction, some insight or inspiration, some reminder of His great love and provision. And the notebook that is my almost constant companion is filled with these snippets of love and life. Some are words for the day. However others are treasures that have become foundational to the future as well.

Blessed indeed are those who listen for God and to Him – in His Word, in prayer, in creation and through the day. For they will come to know the joy of His voice and presence.

Response:
Don’t fret or strain – practice listening at all times

Prayer:

“Speak Lord, for your servant is listening.” And like Samuel help me Father to hear You as You speak to me and to learn to recognise Your voice more and more. Amen.”

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Don’t waste it

“Mark a life of discipline and live wisely;
don’t squander your precious life”
(Proverbs 8:33 MSG)

Reflection:
I was very struck by these words this morning. As I reflected on them so I was reminded that life is precious. My life is precious. The minutes and hours go by in a steady pace and, once having passed, there is no bringing them back again or changing the way in which we filled or did not fill them.

Each one of us lives in a different context and with different pressures, challenges, burdens and opportunities. It does not help us to moan about our situations, to wish that we were like somebody else, or to pass the time with private day-dreams. At this moment in time we are who we are in a very real situation and in very real relationships.

It is also not merely a question of filling our time with activities or passing pleasures. Somehow these things often provide us with only a temporary satisfaction or sense of achievement. Often they leave us with an urgent need for more.

“The psalmist underlines our deepest need for us when he exclaims,

“As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God”  (Psalm 42:1)

In turn Jesus answer Him when He calls out,

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest”  (Matthew 11:28)

This rest that He talks about is not primarily a rest for our bodies or minds. It is the deep rest of the spirit that transforms everything else. It is the rest of being in His presence, trusting His love and depending upon His power to carry us through the hills and valleys of life and bring us safely home again. It is the belief that no matter how we see things at any moment in time He will achieve His purpose in and through us and make good our short-comings.

Then, as we let go of the pressure to make our lives count in terms of the world’s ways, we can focus instead on how God may be wanting us to live, and on what He may be calling us to do, right where we are and how we are. He invariably amazes us with what He can do with us, in us and through us when we let Him in more intentionally.

Response:
Spend time with God- He is with you right now. Talk to Him about you and give Him space to talk to you about Himself.

Prayer:

Dear Father, forgive me for my deep yearnings and dissatisfactions with myself and my life and living. Help me to find my purpose and value not in worldly achievements and involvements but in You and in the things that You have prepared for me. Amen.

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Live up to your Life

“Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. Everyone who has this hope in him purifies himself, just as he is pure.”
(1 John 3:2-3)

 

Reflection:
We are not just lifeless pieces of clay in the process of transformation. In fact we have a part to play in which we both co-operate with and facilitate the work and ministry of the Holy Spirit.

The Christians who have focussed their hope and expectation on the glorious return of Christ will want to both prepare for it and move towards it. Our desire should increasingly be to purify ourselves – to leave the sin and depravity of the world behind – and become more and more like Christ. This is our response to the love that God has lavished upon us in Christ and to our eternal salvation and life. It is both gratitude and an awareness of the need to honour God in the way we live out our new life. Although only His blood “purifies us from all sin” (1 John 1:7) we play our part in purifying ourselves from its influence.

  • “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)
  • “Keep yourself pure.” (1 Timothy 5:22)
  • “Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.” (James 4:7-8)
  • “Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for your brothers, love one another deeply, from the heart.” (1 Peter 1:22)

Peter gives us a wonderful hint here, that a key part of this journey involves the move from selfishness to selflessness.

As the moon is glorious when it fully reflects the sun and is not partly hidden by the earth, so are we when the Son is more fully revealed in us.

Response:
Ask God where you need to start and step up from there.

Prayer:

Father, please help me to truly desire to become more and more like Jesus. Please continue to pour Your love into my heart by the Holy Spirit. (Romans 5:5). In Jesus name I pray, Amen.

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My Refuge

“I have made the Sovereign LORD my refuge”
(Psalm 73:28)

Reflection:
We cannot earn God’s love. It is His free gift to us to be accepted and trusted.

He does have certain expectations of us but He also is well aware of our weaknesses and frailty. As the Psalmist put it,

“As a father has compassion on his children, so the LORD has compassion on those who fear him; for he knows how we are formed, he remembers that we are dust” (Psalm 103:13-14)

We do well to remember these things when our personal world trembles and threatens to fall apart. Sometimes it will be through no fault of our own but very often we will be well aware of our own contribution through what we have done or failed to do. Then too as we discover our own lack of victorious faith as Christians.

In what seems to be a desolate darkness we may feel as if we have nowhere to turn except inwards and downwards – and certainly with no right to ask for help from Him. And yet even when we feel that we have failed Him and ourselves again and again He stands firmly in front of us – and what seems at first to be confrontation turns out to be rescue.

There have been times in my life when I have not felt either worthy of Him or ready even for His expressed love. All I have longed for has been to be in His presence and to rest there whilst I ‘lick my wounds’ and allow some recovery to happen. In an extension of the picture of the desperate woman who reached out to touch the hem of Jesus robe I have wanted to lift that hem, crawl beneath it like a wounded puppy and lie there hidden in the awareness of His silent, allowing and accepting presence. And His quiet stillness has worked its own healing and restoration within me until I am ready to look at Him and talk with Him again. Again and again I have discovered that  – even when I am not even convinced of my own sincerity –

“A broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise” (Psalm 51:17)

The Lord is indeed our refuge and our ‘hiding place’ – even when we need to hide from ourselves!

Response:
Learn to take refuge in the Lord  – He will always be there for us.

Prayer:

Lord Jesus, thank You for coming to seek me and to find me. Thank You too for Your promise that nothing can separate me from Your love. Help me Lord to trust Your love and to never fail to seek and find it when I am in need. Amen.

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New Life

“Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life.
No one comes to the Father except through me.”
(John 14:6)

 

Reflection:
Jesus is the life. As John put it at the beginning of His Gospel “In Him was life.”  This says three things to us:

Firstly, there is no life without Jesus. If Jesus, the Creator and Sustainer, was to turn away for us all life would cease – human, animal and plant. We are only alive because He gives life to us. If He had not done so we would be like statues – lifeless.

Secondly, Jesus gives us new life. It is through Him and His great sacrifice that we are reborn as the eternal sons and daughters of the living God. This life that He gives us is eternal.

“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)

Thirdly, every quality of life – the completeness and enjoyment of life – is found in Jesus. Without Him everything else will leave us with a sense of it being incomplete and passing. It is only with Him that we begin to taste the beauty, loveliness and completeness of true life. This life enters into us first at the level of the spirit and through the Holy Spirit Himself.

As through the Holy Spirit within us He ministers to our bruised and battered souls we can experience the joy and hope of the budding and blossoming new life which comes from Him and includes Him. The source of this life is in Him and we become a part of it as we are united to Him – rather like a branch grafted in to the eternal Vine.

Response:
Draw continually closer to the Lord Jesus. Let Him be your first and foremost desire.

Prayer:

Lord Jesus be my Way, Truth and Life. As You live within me help me to blossom and bloom, cleansed by Your Living Water, and drawing from You the fullness of life without end. Amen.

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True Truth

“Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life.
No one comes to the Father except through me.”
(John 14:6)

Reflection:
Humankind continually searches for new and ultimate truths. The Psalmist recognised this need when he cried,

“Teach me your way, O LORD, and I will walk in your truth” (Psalm 86:11)

Jesus reveals to us that all truth is to be found in Him. He is the source, the revelation, the beginning and the end, and the fullest expression of all that is wonderfully and perfectly true.

As we turn to Jesus today His call to us is still to “Come to Me” and to “Follow Me”, for in doing so “you will see” the truth of who and what He is. It is a call both to listen to His words as well as to listen to what we see in His living and in His life. Our starting point is in the Gospels, as we watch and listen to what He does and what He teaches. With this, however, is the personal invitation to “Come…and..see.” It is as we turn to Him and walk with Him – in prayer, trust and obedience – that we begin to discover the thrilling and chilling reality that we are with God and He is with us…. and ‘it is very good.’ As the Psalmist put it so well,

“Taste and see that the LORD is good; blessed is the man who takes refuge in him.”(Psalm 34:8)

As we spend time with Him He will also reveal to us the truth about ourselves, our situations, our own lives and the way forward – as much as we will let Him. He will use these to reveal to us deeper insights into God’s great love for us, for us in our situations and for us despite our situations.

This journeying with God is important because it is on the Way that we find more of His truth and reality and His love and care for us. He is not merely an academic exercise.

Response:
Let the Truth of God meet the truth of you – and rejoice in humble amazement.

Prayer:

Lord I come – please help me to keep very close to You so that I can listen and see and receive all that You have for me right where and how I am today. Amen.

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This Way Out

“Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life.
No one comes to the Father except through me.”
(John 14:6)

Reflection:
Jesus is the Way. This says two things to us.

Firstly He is the direction and the road that we should travel. Only He knows the way to the Father and only He can take us there. There is no other way.

Secondly He is the manner in which we should travel that road. He is the Way in which we should live upon the Way.

He calls us to Himself with the words “Follow Me” and then instructs us to “Stay with Me.” As we do so we learn from Him directly and from the way in which He lived His life.

  • There was a time for learning – and He spent many years learning and applying His faith and His trade, and observing and learning about people.
  • There was a time for prayer – and He would spend much time in individual prayer.
  • There was a time for laying the foundations of life – and he went into the desert to establish His and affirm His core values
  • There was a time for listening – so He could teach that He only said and did what the Father instructed.
  • There was a time for action – and He stepped out into ministry, teaching and caring for people.
  • There was a time for rest – and He would withdraw from the crowds to lonely places.
  • There was a time for discipleship – and He would teach and develop key followers.
  • There was a time for submission – and He would be quiet and allow God’s will to unfold.
  • There was a time to stay and a time to move on.
  • There was a time to leave.

He was never in a hurry. He was not dependent upon the opinions of others. He did not seek the crowds and was content with whoever was near. He possessed very little yet gave more than any other person. He had a vision and a purpose yet lived each day at a time. When His world exploded into rejection and pain He entrusted Himself to God. He trusted God at all times. He is remembered for His love, His peace and His integrity.

Response:
Wherever and however we are – He is the Way of the present and the future – today and tomorrow.
Whatever our problems and concerns He is the Way through them and onward.

Prayer:

Lord Jesus help me to learn from You. Please be my Guide and my Shepherd at all times and help me to trust You in all the circumstances, challenges and opportunities of this life. Amen.

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Keep on

“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 never thought that God was 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.

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 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. God encourages us to use that influence to bless others and bring glory to Him.

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. Because He wants us to reflect Him in our world He will inspire and strengthen us. He will also stand with us when the enemy attacks us and attempts to scare us into inactivity or lead us astray. He will be both our strength and our refuge.

Jesus great promise is to be with us always. He undertook also that the Holy Spirit would be within us and be the one to  bring God’s love into our hearts. We are not alone – God is at work within and around us even when we are blind to His presence.

Response:

Remind yourself of Jesus’ presence. Involve Him in everything.

Prayer:

Lord Jesus do help me to remember that  You are with me always. Please help me to acknowledge You and  to think, speak and act in ways that honour You – and strengthen and encourage me every step of the Way. Amen

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