He Knows You

“How do you know me?” Nathanael asked.
Jesus answered, “I saw you
while you were still under the fig tree
before Philip called you.”
(John 1:48)

Reflection:
‘I saw you before I called you’ is what Jesus is saying to  Nathanael. It is what He says to each and every one of us whom He has called into His salvation and life.

This intimate knowledge of us is what David picked up on and in which he found such comfort.

“O LORD, you have searched me and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue you know it completely, O LORD” (Psalm 139:1-4)

There is nothing in our past, present and future that is unknown to the Lord. There is nothing about us that will surprise and shock Him. He knows where we have been, where we are now, and where we will be tomorrow…

Knowing us this intimately He still reaches out to us and invites us to come to Him. He does this not believing that we will earn our new relationship with Him and so justify our selection. He does it because He knows what He will be able to do for us, and in us and through us. He asks us to give Him our lives – such as they are – so that He can give us His life, with all that it is.

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight”  (Ephesians 1:3-4)

This new life is both immediate and a journey of transformation – live it with Him.

“This is what the Sovereign LORD, the Holy One of Israel, says: “In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength” (Isaiah 30:15)

Response:
Come to Him again – and again – and keep coming

Prayer:

Lord Jesus I open myself to You again – do come in and live Your life for me. Amen.

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The Truth

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

 

Reflection:
The truth to which Jesus refers is not merely a concept or peripheral reality. It is central to, and an essential element of, life itself – and in particular the new life that He offers us.

In fact it is so much a part of that life that its true reality and expression is found only in a Living Person – the Lord Jesus Himself. He does not say that He is just the clearest expression of life but that He is that Life – the Source, the Reality and the ongoing Supply of it. We only receive and enter into that Life as we become a part of Him, and of His Life – rather like a branch being grafted into a Vine.

He is the Way to that life and the Way in which it is lived. He is the Truth about the reality and fullness of that Life – of the height, and depth, and breadth and width of that Life with all the love and fruit and joy and peace and fulfilment that it encompasses.  He is the Life that is forever new and unending, forever complete and developing, forever God and forever us.

He is Life – and He reaches out to embrace us within His Life and to fill us with that Life – for He is God with us.

Response:
In Jesus my new life starts now

Prayer:

Lord God, please open my eyes to the Truth who is Jesus – and help me to soak in and take in the New Life that He brings even in this world. Amen.

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Belt of Truth

“Stand firm then
with the belt of truth
buckled around your waist”
(Ephesians 6:14)

 

Reflection:
Paul is describing the armour of God to be worn by all God’s people. The first piece of equipment to be put on is the belt of truth. Buckled around our waists it is central to our life and living –and so much else will depend upon it.

There are two complementary strands to this belt of truth. The first is the revelation of God in Jesus Christ and in Scripture. Day and night we need to be clothed with the Word of God to keep us safe from the lies of the enemy, to feed and strengthen our faith and to guide us in the way we live.

The second strand is that of our own sincerity and integrity. As people of the Truth we are called to be those who live truthfully and honestly at all times and in all areas.

There may be times in life when we need to ‘tighten our belts’ as we face some particular challenge. This would mean holding on to a central truth – rather like Paul when he said that,

“I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified” (1 Corinthians 2:2)

This belt of truth worn at the centre of our being reminds us that we are to

“Count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus” (Romans 6:11)

Response:
Is my belt secure and strong – or are there holes in it?

Prayer:

Lord God, as Your redeemed and beloved child, help me to embrace the truth with delight, and seek to make it a part of my everyday life to You honour and glory. Amen.

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True Me

“Love does not delight in evil
but rejoices with the truth”
(1 Corinthians 13:6)

 

Reflection:
Love cannot rejoice over what is not true – or over what is plainly evil and destructive. It would be a total contradiction of what love is all about.

Love plainly desires what is the best – what is positive, healing, constructive, encouraging and a blessing. All of that has to be based upon truth, for if any of those were found to be merely lies the end result would be counter-productive and very destructive.

If we are prepared to face and admit the truth about ourselves we also discover the real person whom God loves. It is that person to whom He holds out His hand and says ‘Come to Me’ and ‘Come with Me.’

It was his real person that David kept bringing before the Lord and who received the blessing. It was the people who knew the reality of their fallenness who came so sincerely to the Lord and who received His blessing. It was the ‘white-washed tombs’ who missed out by keeping their truth hidden even from themselves.

  • “O LORD, you have searched me and you know me” (Psalm 139:1)
  • “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)
  • “On the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness” (Matthew 23:28)

Jesus is the truth about God – telling us that having seen Him we have seen the Father. When His truth meets our truth there is forgiveness, healing and salvation.

Prayer:

Lord, hidden away inside me is a lonely little person thirsting for love and security. I offer that person to You. Please love them into life. Amen.

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Show your face

“You will know the truth,
and the truth will set you free”
(John 8:32)

 

Reflection:
Lies mislead us and confuse us. If they are a part of our own lives they envelop us in a web of deceit and fear. Many people attempt to hide their true selves behind a mask or false front which becomes its own bondage. Freedom comes only from living a life of truth and openness. The wonder of the Lord God is that He does not take us merely at face value but He knows and understands the testimony of our hearts – that is, the truth about us. We do not have to pretend with Him.

 “Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7)

But whilst that is true, Jesus is talking also about another level of truth – the truth about us as sinners and about God as both Holy and Forgiving, Loving and Merciful, Righteous and Sacrificial. This truth about God is the truth that carries with it the power to set us free from our bondage to sin and death – and enable us to enter into the inheritance that God has provided and prepared for His adopted daughters and sons.

For all (y)our sins and failings, and the lies we both utter and try to live, God’s love is that much greater. Knowing our potential if He can live within us, loving us enough to want us with Him and willing enough to shoulder the blame and penalty that is ours – He holds out His hand to us through His Son and says simply, “Come.”

Come from darkness into the Light, from death to Life, from the lies of a blind world into the Truth of the God of Love. Come home.

Response:
The false me is limited by my fears – the real me is limited only by the vision of God

Prayer:

Father God, please help me to walk with You – simply and trustingly – believing that even although You know me more intimately than even I know myself, You have and always will love me with Your everlasting love. Amen.

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We Need Truth

“I the LORD
speak the truth,
I declare what is right”
(Isaiah 45:19)

 

Reflection:
“What is truth?” was Pilate’s question to Jesus shortly before he sentenced Him to death. He knew that he was being manipulated by the crowds and religious leaders but allowed it to happen. And today some are saying that we have moved into a ‘Post-Truth’ society.

However we need the truth – for without it there is nothing certain, nothing dependable, only a misty uncertainty. God speaking through the prophet seeks to assure us that what He says is the truth and what is right. If it were not then, in truth, He could not be the Lord God Almighty but a charlatan.

Satan on the other hand is referred to as ‘the father of lies’ and his whole aim is to deceive us and to take us in the wrong direction – away from God and His will for us. So he will tell us lies about God, others, our situations and ourselves. We can see his influence in the world as others follow his example.

When God in the Ten Commandments instructed us not to give false evidence He was underlining the fact that relationships and society need and have to be founded upon the truth. If they are not they will disintegrate.

As the people of God our calling is to believe and trust Him – and then to live as those whose integrity cannot be called into question. It does matter to God and to those around us – even if they are marching to a different tune.

Response:
I believe and trust in God

Prayer:

Lord God, our Father Almighty, help me to receive and to live Your truth in the world – for the sake of Your Name and the blessing of Your people. Amen.

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Trust Him

“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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I am with you

“You will keep in perfect peace
those whose minds are steadfast,
because they trust in you”
(Isaiah 26:3)

Reflection:
In the state of the world in which we live peace is not a natural or normal condition. There is far too much on the personal, national and international stages clamouring for our attention and demanding to be addressed or worried about.

God does not guarantee that there will be peace around us – in fact the Lord tells us that the opposite will often be the case. However God does offer us peace within us – as a gift from Him.

  • “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid” (John 14:27)
  • “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7)

The account of Peter walking on the water and then sinking illustrates the point beautifully. As long as his focus and attention was on the Lord he walked over the sea. It was when he took his eyes off Jesus and focussed on the threat of the wind-whipped waves that he began to sink. Jesus did not calm the storm before calling Peter to walk to Him – He came and called Him in the storm, and only calmed everything once they were back in the boat.

So it is with the storms in our own lives. The Lord comes to us and calls to us from within the storm. As we come to Him by focussing our attention on Him (steadfast minds) He walks with us through the storm to wherever He chooses to take us. The peace that He gives us is of His presence and control. As with Peter He will not walk away from us and, even when we think we are sinking, will be there to reach out and support us.

There will be storms – but there will always be the Lord with us in the midst of them.

Response:
If you have a storm in your life ask the Lord to help you to focus on Him and trust Him

Prayer:

Lord Jesus You will never desert me. Please help me to look to You and to trust You at all times – no matter what might be raging around me and even within me at the time. Amen.

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Thirsty People

“If your enemy .. is  thirsty,
give him something to drink”
(Romans 12:20)

Reflection:
Jesus Christ had a completely different approach to people. He welcomed them all and saw beyond the external attitudes into their hearts.

Henri Nouwen tells of how a week spent in an AIDS clinic with those facing ‘a certain and agonising death’ changed the way that he prayed for people. In that week he heard ‘hints of a thirst for love that had never been quenched.’ From then on he prayed,

“God help me to see others not as my enemies or as ungodly but rather as thirsty people. And give me the courage and compassion to offer Your Living Water, which alone quenches deep thirst.”

All the people around us, including those who offend us in any way, have a thirst at the centre of their lives. It is often unrecognised but it has a marked effect on their thinking and their actions. You will know what it is.

“O God, you are my God, earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you, my body longs for you, in a dry and weary land where there is no water” (Psalm 63:1)

Hold back the ungodly responses that sometimes leap up within. Quietly pray for them instead.

Response:
Affirm your place in God’s love so that you do not need to prove anything

Prayer:

Father You love me with an unfailing and everlasting live. Secure within the strength of Your love may I be free to love those who hurt and offend me. Amen.

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Who am I?

“You are my Son, whom I love”
(Luke 3:22)

 

Reflection:
God spoke these words to Jesus at His baptism in the River Jordan. Immediately afterwards He went into the desert where He faced the three major temptations known to man. All of them had something to do with identity –and it was from the secure foundation of His own identity in God that He was able to recognise and refute them.

We find a similar situation in the very first Psalm which stands as a gateway into the rest of the Psalms.

“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)

The person who is blessed is the one who has established their identity as a man or woman of God. That means that they can recognise and say ‘No!’ to the advice and ways of the world and instead base their lives and living on the word of God.

The need for and reality of this new identity is stressed by Jesus and Paul.

  • “I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again” (John 3:3)
  • “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind”(Romans 12:2)

The key question, therefore, is ‘Who am I ?’ Am I a man or woman of God and living according to His word and ways – or am I still a child of the world and subject to its influence and ways? As Jesus said,

“No one can serve two masters” (Matthew 6:24)

Response:
Who am I?

Prayer:

Lord God I acknowledge You as my Lord and Saviour. Please help me to delight in the revelation of Your love and will in Scripture and to live in Your Way. Amen.

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