Let It Flow

“On the last and greatest day of the Feast, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.”
(John 7:37-38)

Reflection:
The Holy Spirit is not given to us as our own private possession and only for our own blessing. God always has a greater vision than that. His vision encompasses the whole world.

In the Sermon on the Mount Jesus also taught His disciples that they were the ‘light of the world’ a description that had been given to Him. It is clear that it is the light of Christ within us that is to shine out and be a source of hope and life to those around us.

The picture of ‘streams of living water’ is extremely attractive – particularly to thirsty and footsore travellers. Jesus invitation, commencing with the word ‘anyone’ makes it clear that there is no exclusivity involved. The gift is for all ‘whoever’ will believe.

It is important that we remember that whatever situation we may encounter today, and whatever rooms we may walk into, the Holy Spirit is looking for an opportunity to flow out and touch someone’s life. We should be prepared to open the ‘gates’ to allow it to happen. It starts with silently praying for those we meet and then taking whatever loving action is prompted by the Spirit. We all can be the vehicle of a blessing today.

And as the Spirit flows from us He also flows in a fresh stream into us.

Response:
Look with God-directed eyes, pray with God-prompted hearts, reach out with God-empowered words and hands.

Prayer:

Holy Spirit please fill me with this ‘living water’ of Your presence – and flow from me into the lives of those around me who so need Your blessing. Amen.

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Spirit of Truth

“But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes,
he will guide you into all truth”
(John 16:13)

 

Reflection:
The Spirit of God has to be the Spirit of Truth. There can be no untruth in God at all and so Jesus described Himself as “ ..the Truth..” (John 14:6)
As a first priority the Spirit will focus on Jesus Christ in whose birth and baptism, life and ministry He was so involved.

  • “He will testify about Me” (John 15:26)
  • “He will bring glory to Me” (John 16:14)

The Holy Spirit will also act to do something that the world and humankind is incapable of achieving.

  • “When he comes, he will convict the world of guilt in regard to sin and righteousness and judgment: (John 16:8)

He will convict the world not only of sin itself but of the greatest sin which is that “men do not believe in Me.” – the Me being Jesus Christ and God’s greatest gift.

He will convict the world of righteousness – the rightness of Jesus Christ as the Lord and Saviour of the World and the only Way to God.

He will convict the world of judgement – in that Jesus Christ has supreme authority over all of creation and He will come again in great power and glory to judge the living and the dead. In this regard the ‘prince of this world now stands condemned’ through the glorious revelation of Jesus Christ.

Both the Church and the world have gone very soft in all of these areas. This means that today the first focus of the Holy Spirit must be to glorify the Lord Jesus, and do His work of convicting, within the Church itself and the individual lives of its members. The world will not be convinced or convicted until the truth and life of the Spirit is revealed in those who believe.  Therefore those who know the Lord must take sin seriously before those who don’t know Him will do the same. When that happens our glorious message will ring out and be heard as we

  • “go on before the Lord to prepare the way for him, to give his people the knowledge of salvation through the forgiveness of their sins” (Luke 1:76-77)

Response:
It starts with me

Prayer:

Holy Spirit of God please help me to open myself to You so that You may glorify the Lord Jesus within me and lead me into the knowledge of the Truth in Jesus Christ my Lord. Amen.

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God accepts me

“Then Jesus declared,
 “I who speak to you am he”
(John 4:26)

 

Reflection:
Yesterday we looked at the account of Hagar who met ‘The God who sees me.’

Today we recall another meeting between a lonely and rejected woman and God. This was a Samaritan woman who, after five failed marriages, was living with a man who was not her husband. She left her town to draw water at an outside well. The inference is clear – the local woman who met to talk and draw water at the well in the town square wanted nothing to do with her.

When she reached the well she found Jesus waiting for her. Not only did He surprise her by talking to her – for Jewish men would not talk to Samaritan women – He also asked her for help. He wanted her to give Him a drink of the water she drew from the well. He went on to talk to her about her life, showing just how much He knew about her, and then revealed His real identity. Amazed she ran back into the town and told everyone about her encounter with the man who could be the Messiah. As a result many of the townspeople became believers. Suddenly and unexpectedly her life had changed. And if she had been asked to give Him a name she might well have called Him ‘The God who accepts me.’

This is the amazing truth of the love and grace of God. Because of Jesus Christ no one has become too unacceptable to God. Anyone who looks to Jesus Christ and puts their faith and trust in Him as their Saviour and their Lord becomes acceptable to God –no matter what their past has been like. In a glorious and wonderful moment of transformation we become forgiven and cleansed and reborn as the daughter or son of God.

He is the God who accepts you and accepts me right this moment– as we are and with all out past and baggage – and draws us into His great, transforming and eternal love.

Response:
In Jesus Christ you are an accepted one – believe it and live it.

Prayer:

O my wonderful Father, my precious Lord Jesus, and life-renewing Holy Spirit, thank You so much for making me acceptable to You – and rejoicing over me. Help me to believe, receive and rejoice in this wonderful truth. Amen.

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Peace

“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)

Reflection:
Our world is characterised by a lack of peace. Where there is no active warfare between nations there is a general distrust, if not an active opposition. Within nations there is turmoil of one sort or another, be it political, economic, social, moral, gender or age related. Within many people there is fear, anxiety, stress, unhappiness, self-rejection and emotional turmoil.

In some ways the world in which Jesus moved was not that dissimilar. However, into the current situation that they faced, and into the situations He knew would arise in the future, He said purposefully,

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)

‘In this world you will have trouble.’ ‘In Me you may have peace.’ Note the two small words – ‘will’ and ‘may.’ The former is a reality about which they, and we, could do little or nothing. The latter is the reality of a gift that He offers to us. The former was external and of man, the latter internal and of the Spirit. Some people will be in turmoil even where there is a human peace all around them. Others will know God’s peace both in calm times and in times of trouble. The difference is simple. God is not of the world – but He is in those who believe and trust in Him. And, as with any gift, this one needs to be acknowledged, accepted and practised.

No matter who you are or where you are – physically, mentally, spiritually, emotionally, financially or relationally – no matter how you feel about yourself, what’s happened to you in the past or what will happen to you in the future, no matter what you may have done or not done, Jesus Christ offers you this peace. It is the peace of God Almighty, a Father of true and wonderful love, the peace of a Saviour who died and rose for you to deal with your sin, and the peace of the Holy Spirit forever within the people of God. It is an inner peace, independent of circumstances, that comes from our union with God. It is to be acknowledged as we refuse to let inner turmoil and fear control us and pray for God’s strength and peace instead. He effectively says to us,

My child, you are wonderfully special to Me, I love you, I know you, I understand you, I forgive you, I accept you – as you are and where you are – I am with you, I will never leave you, I will bless you, and I will see you through all the troubles, loneliness and pain of this life. Trust Me, and let My love, presence and promise be your peace. Hold on to Me; I will hold on to you.

“Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me”
(John 14:1)

Response:
Practice holding on to the presence of God – in thought and prayer – all the time, especially when ‘wobbles’ threaten. Talk to Him through the day. Practice believing Him. Trust His word.

Prayer:

Lord Jesus it’s so very hard sometimes – when everything within me screams, ‘what about me!?” Please help me to accept your word and promise, and to trust You and Your love for the journey ahead. Amen.

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My Work

“If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love,
just as I have obeyed my Father’s commands
and remain in his love.
I have told you this so that my joy may be in you
and that your joy may be complete”
(John 15:10-11)

Reflection:
Jesus, so unlike the elder brother in the story of the Prodigal Son, does not want to hold anything back from us. Whatever He enjoys Himself He wishes us to have as well, and to the same degree. Not only does He want our joy to ‘be complete’, but His prayer to the Father, shortly before His arrest, was

“That they may have the full measure of My joy
within them.”

(John 17: 13)

This takes it to a level that cannot be surpassed. So, with the blessing of forgiveness, abundant and eternal life, and a Godly purpose, comes this blessing of Christ-like joy. And, in fulfilment of His desire, we find that it is a part of the fruit of the Spirit produced in our lives and following straight after love – which is its proper place.

We must then begin to look at our relationship with God in a new light and at a deeper level. For it is not a question of what God wants from us, but of what God wants for us! He wants us in His image, and completely so. He wants us to have eternal life and an abundant life. He wants us to have a purposeful and effective life. He wants us to be filled with His love (Romans 5:5). He wants us to have the ‘full measure’ of the joy of Christ within us. In short, He wants us to have what Christ has and enjoys – and so we become ‘co-heirs with Christ’ (Romans 8:17) He knows the way for this to become a reality – it is through His guiding our lives and our trusting Him.

The joy of which Jesus speaks is not a joy dependent upon external circumstances – such as a good income, a peaceful context, or public acclaim. Like the peace that passes understanding, this joy is a gift that comes out of our relationship with God – a relationship that is eternal, is secure in His hands, and is founded on love. Our joy is in God Himself and in the wonder of His love and our relationship with Him.

How does this joy become a part of our life experience?  Well, Christ knew the way of it. He knew that the way of life, and the way to life and joy, was to trust in the love, wisdom, guidance and promises of the one God Almighty, and not to be dragged down by the passing problems of the world. So He did:

“I love the Father and ..I do exactly
what My Father has commanded Me”

(John 14:31)

He becomes ‘the Way’, the only way and, wonderfully, the known way for us. He gives us His teachings so that we can know the joy that is ‘complete.’ If we walk His way of love, we will know and remain in the love of God, from which comes the joy that He has for us. The more we realise the love that the Father has for us, and allow ourselves to become a part of that love, the more this joy will enter into our hearts and lives.

It is God’s desire for us.

Response:
There is one way, and one way only, to life, love and joy. It is Christ. He is the Way – the road to walk, the way onto that road, and the way to walk along that road. He is safe, sure and salvation.

Prayer:

Lord Jesus, I deeply want what You long to give me. Please help me to come to You, walk with You, and let You bless me. Amen.

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Life!

“I have come that they may have life,
and have it to the full”
(John 10:10)

 

Reflection:
When we look into it we find an exciting and inspiring statement, filled with hope and certainty.

 At one level it picks up on the great promise of John 3:16 – “that whoever believes in Him shall….have eternal life.” The fullness of life is to be found in the new and eternal life that God gives to us in Christ. Its final fulfilment will be known and experienced after His second coming, when we join Him in the presence of the Father.

 However, there is much more here. For the believer, and even for the seeker, there is the wonderful news that “I have come.”  This contains within it more than just the purpose that follows. It signifies also that the waiting is over, the Messiah has arrived, and God’s purpose is being unfolded and revealed in a new way. The Son of God has taken His place in history. In terms of presence He will never leave again. As He said to His disciples, “I am with you always.” (Matt 28:20)

 For us today the good news is, therefore, that ‘I am here!’ God is with us, today and every day. Whatever our situation, whatever the challenges that we face, ‘The Lord is here. His Spirit is with us.’ We are not, and will not be, alone. His very presence is a help. And, just as He reached out and touched the lives of people when He was present physically, so He will make a difference in our lives when invited and allowed to do so. He is here to walk with us, every step of the way. This is life with a difference!

When the true significance hits us it is as if the sun has come through on a dark day.

 Response:
Practice reminding yourself that He is with you. Chat to Him throughout the day. Try to do everything with Him in mind.

Prayer:

Lord Jesus, I do want what You have to give. Please open me to Your presence, Your life and Your love, in all my situations. Amen.

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Sixth Word

“When he had received the drink,
Jesus said,
“It is finished”
(John 19:30)

Lent 31

Reflection:
Jesus had seen His mission and ministry through to the end. The Father’s commission and purpose were now fulfilled. He had taken upon Himself the sins of the world and would take them with Him to the grave. The penalty had been paid on our behalf by the only one who could – the spotless and sinless Lamb of God, the Son Himself.

Significantly, now, something had happened. As the end approached it was not an agonising and tragic failure. It was instead a glorious and triumphant victory. The man on the cross was not sinking into oblivion but rising to cross the finishing line. It was in so many ways His finest moment.

‘It is finished’ was not the exhausted mumble of a defeated man but the cry of conquest. Matthew and Mark have it ‘in a loud voice.’ Jesus was not the victim but the conqueror. He had come for a purpose. He had seen that purpose through to the end. He had taken and absorbed both the sin of the world and its consequences. He had suffered for them and had overcome the very powers of evil on the cross. He, the Living Word, had seen the Father’s will through to its final completion which, at last, was now upon Him.

“As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.” (Isaiah 55:10-11)

It was finished. In confirmation God Himself tore the heavy curtain of separation in the Temple from top to bottom. It was no longer needed. The way home to God had been opened by Jesus the Son of God, God the Son.

Prayer:

When I survey the wondrous cross
On which the Prince of glory died,
My richest gain I count but loss,
And pour contempt on all my pride.

Forbid it, Lord, that I should boast,
Save in the death of Christ my God!
All the vain things that charm me most,
I sacrifice them to His blood.

See from His head, His hands, His feet,
Sorrow and love flow mingled down!
Did e’er such love and sorrow meet,
Or thorns compose so rich a crown?

Were the whole realm of nature mine,
That were a present far too small;
Love so amazing, so divine,
Demands my soul, my life, my all.

(Isaac Watts)

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Fifth Word

“Later, knowing that all was now completed,
and so that the Scripture would be fulfilled,
Jesus said, “I am thirsty.”
(John 19:28)

Lent 30

Reflection:
There are deepening levels at which this word from the Cross can be heard and understood.

The first is the affirmation of the very real humanity of Jesus. He was not just God in human flesh – He was in fact fully man and knew what it was to be thirsty. After what He had been through, the beatings and loss of blood, and the way in which He had hung naked and for so long under the heat of the sun, it was a natural condition. The person who responded to the need certainly did not find it strange.

Then, there was still something that Jesus wanted to say – something that was important for those around Him, and His Father, to hear. His parched throat was probably closing and needed to be moistened again. Some will know what it is like to be so dry that it is even impossible to swallow.

There is also the sense in which Jesus now wanted to completely drain the cup that His Father had given Him to drink – the one about which He had prayed in Gethsemane,

“Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me;
yet not my will, but yours be done.”

(Luke 22:42)

Coupled with this would have been the desire that influenced all of Jesus thinking and actions – that His Father be glorified as the one true God, whose righteousness was reflected in the lives of His people. How He longed for that righteousness to be revealed. And He had taught,

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
for they will be filled.”

(Matthew 5:6)

And, finally, going to the depths of His being, Jesus would have ‘thirsted’ for the living waters of the Holy Spirit. He had told the woman at the well that,

“Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”
(John 4:13-14)

That blessing, intimacy and glorious life had been His from before the beginning until His previous agonised cry, as the weight of our sin had taken Him into the desert darkness of separation from God,

“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”
(Matthew 27:46)

At every level of His being Jesus was thirsty – very, very thirsty – and it was all for our salvation!

Prayer:

O God, create in me an undivided heart for You. Fill me with Your Spirit and pour Your love into me that I may truly love You – for Jesus sake. Amen.

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Third Word

“When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to his mother, “Dear woman, here is your son,” and to the disciple, “Here is your mother.” From that time on, this disciple took her into his home.”
(John 19:26-27)

Lent 28

Reflection:
How easy it is, when we are absorbed in matters of consequence, to forget the needs of those nearest to us. Very often too the calls and demands of others take precedence over those of our own families.

Jesus was not just hanging on the cross, like the two other dying men, waiting to die. He was involved in a battle of immense proportions – on the final outcome of which depended the future of all humankind, past, present and future – and the worst was still to come. In the face of such enormous pain and pressure, with the most terrible consequences if He failed, He still found the time and the love from which to care.

Years before, when His mother and Joseph had taken Him into the Temple to ‘present Him to the Lord’, they were met by a faithful man named Simeon who, after blessing them all, concluded by saying to Mary, “And a sword will pierce your own soul too.” How deep and how excruciating must have been the sword that pierced her now as she stood and watched her son’s continued rejection, humiliation and suffering.

This was one pain of His that she could not make go away. But He, out of the midst of that pain and the particular struggle in which He was involved, reached out to her and provided for her as best He could. His beloved John would look after her for Him.

Wherever we are, and whatever our involvement, there will probably be someone who looks to us for love and attention. No matter how much they might understand the demands made upon us it might still sadden them when they feel ignored or taken for granted. It might delight and cheer them if we turn to acknowledge them and love them in some way. If Jesus could do it from the cross there is no excuse whatsoever for us. He just cared so much for this ‘dear woman!’ She had been honoured in His birth, He had honoured her in His first miracle and now He honoured her as He died.

Prayer:

Lord God, please help me to show my love to the special people whom You have placed near me. Amen.

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