Reflection… Peace : The Holy Spirit

“Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace.”

The Hebrew word “Shalom” conveys the greater meaning of God’s peace: completeness, wholeness, health, peace, safety, soundness, welfare, tranquillity, prosperity, perfectness, fullness, rest, harmony. Shalom comes from the root verb shalom meaning to be complete, perfect and full. In modern Hebrew the related word Shulam means to be fully paid.

Although we are physically separated from our Heavenly Father right now, we have unity with Him through the third person of the Trinity, the Holy Spirit; the “deposit guaranteeing our inheritance”. Because He lives in us, we can cry “Abba! Father!” knowing we are forgiven, redeemed and accepted by the blood of Jesus. The peace of God is lived out in our lives, producing the visible fruit of the Spirit and this is how we become salt and light to the world.

Spend some time giving thanks and worshiping the Father in Spirit and Truth, knowing that His shalom is available in every area of our lives – health, wholeness, provision, protection, rest; and makes us complete in Him. Receive it because Jesus fully paid for it at the cross!


Reflection… Grace : Jesus, the Son

“The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have
seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from
the Father, full of grace and truth.”

The meaning of grace (χάρις/charis in the original Greek) is more than just the “graciousness of God” – it is the active application of the wholly undeserved favour of God; His absolute loving kindness, made visible to man in the person of Jesus Christ. Jesus was not “gracious” but FULL of grace, the very presence of God living in the midst of humankind. Grace IS the person of Jesus – the human representation of God’s goodness and perfection! Scripture says the Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. (Col 1:15) Jesus said, “Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father.” (Jn 14:9) To know Jesus personally is to experience the fullness of God’s grace.

Spend some time thanking Jesus that He is the very representation of God the Father to us and, through Him, the relationship with our Heavenly Father is restored. Jesus’ work is finished and we are forgiven and made righteous by His blood. In His broken body He has redeemed us from the curse and purchased our healing. Cast all your cares, your fears, your impossible problems onto Him, because He is the God of the impossible, the “Saviour of the world”. To depend on Jesus is to give Him His rightful place as Lord, and the glory and honour He deserves.

Reflection… Love : The Father

“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.”

It was not only Jesus who suffered for mankind… God, the Father, had to abandon His beloved Son to the evil of this world. Imagine how you would feel, having to send your own son to be tortured and executed in order to save people who neither knew who he was, nor cared. The people Jesus had lived amongst professed to love God but most could not even recognise His own Son.

The world was filled with evil but, for righteousness’ sake, justice must be served and only a spotless, sinless sacrifice could satisfy the demands of God’s holy law. So, at the height of His suffering, as all the sin, all the darkness and even death, were poured upon Him, the Father turned away from Jesus because He SO loved the world. There was no other choice; the Father’s love for us is so immense, so passionate, so all consuming and unconditional that He gave up what He treasured the most to restore our broken relationship.

Spend some time thanking the Father for His kindness, for His love, in sending Jesus to be our substitute. Tell Him what it means to you, how it has changed you. Sit in His presence and receive His love. Let it wash over you, soften the hard places in your heart and heal your wounds.

Prodigal Rap

Tried so hard to get it right,
But in this world it’s hard to trust.
Thought my parents’ lives were so solid…
Until everything went bust!

Thought my friends were so cool and clever
And poppin’ pills was really fun,
But it all left me feelin’ empty.
Couldn’t stand it – had to run.

And who could I turn to
When it’s all gone so bad, hey?
Then you said, “Don’t wanna be a weekend father,
I wanna be your Dad every day.

I wanna love you in the bad times,
Not only in the good.
I wanna tell you that you’re worth it
The way a proper father would.

Don’t think of me as distant –
Please won’t you come home, son?
I’ve watched and waited for so very long…
Don’t be ashamed to come.”

And then you said you’d never leave me
If I chose to be your son;
How much you longed to be my father
And forgive all the bad things that I’d done.

And those words, they hit me like a bullet.
No escape. Don’t even wanna try.
Can’t go on like this, man, I can’t go on
Just feelin’ like I wanna die.

Help me, God! Oh, help me God!
And then I heard me say,
“Yeah, I really wanna be your son.
Will you be my Dad? Every day.”

My friends are all dying to know you

My friends are all dying to know You.
It’s just that they don’t know it yet.
They know You’re my friend
And that church I attend,
But they’d rather be surfing the net.

My friends are all dying to know You.
I wonder how I can explain
To a bunch of teenagers
(All into new-age)
That You sacrificed all for their gain.

My friends are all dying to know You.
They think I’m a bit of a geek!
They say it’s absurd
To believe in Your Word
Based on old texts in Hebrew and Greek.

My friends are all dying to know You.
I feel I don’t really belong.
But I just can’t conform
To what they think’s the “norm”
When I know what they’re doing is wrong.

My friends are all dying to know You.
They think halloween’s really neat.
But it isn’t a joke
To frighten old folk
With that sick joke they call “trick or treat”.

My friends are all dying to know You.
They don’t know they’ve been so deceived.
The truth is so near,
But they can’t see or hear.
If they had, then they might have believed.

My friends are all dying to know You.
I’m so sad that it makes me cry
To know they’re still lost
When you’ve paid such a cost.
Oh, Lord, I don’t want them to die.

My friends are all dying to know You.
I know how you long for the day
When they’ll call on your Name
And see life’s not a game.
Lord, please help me to show them the way.

Stand up!

So… in America, a coven of witches gathers publicly to place a hex on a public figure they don’t like. Without getting pulled into a political debate, I think most people would agree that to have a public meeting to curse someone, (as a display of their “religion” – for surely they worship someone?) has got to be looked upon as a hate crime, hasn’t it?

But then most people probably think it’s all just a puff of wind because witches are just fanciful (Disney!) imagination and have no powers to do harm – they’re good really aren’t they? And anyway, in this case, it’s just a way to get publicity and make a protest…

And that is the deception that is so prevalent in our society. Heaven and hell aren’t real; the devil isn’t real; witchcraft isn’t real; …and Jesus isn’t real.

What we believe as Christians is that Jesus IS real, he’s alive today and he is the ONLY way to the Father. The bible warns us in 1 Timothy 4:1

“The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons.”

Halloween will be upon us imminently. There’s no harm in trick or treat, they say. But if you don’t participate, you’re condemned as boring and miserable and can expect an egg on your window or something unsavoury through your letterbox. But it’s all just a bit of fun, isn’t it? You have to let the kids have fun! No! It’s opening a door to the darkness and giving the enemy a legal right to come in.

We are told to stand against the schemes of the enemy. And let’s face it, if you don’t stand for something, you’ll stand for anything!

WAKE UP CHURCH! “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.

Therefore put on the full armour of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.

…And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.”

Come and sit…

As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!” “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”

Good old Martha. She’d opened her home to Jesus and all his disciples and wanted to make them feel welcome. I expect we’ve all done that – invited someone round on the spur of the moment. It seemed like such a good idea at the time, but then we start to worry… is it clean and tidy enough, what will they think, have I got enough food in, what if they don’t eat… (whatever it was you’d planned to make)? Worry, worry, worry!

So, you bustle about, being so busy (and possibly the teeniest bit self-righteous?) preparing everything, while someone else is enjoying your guest’s company – but, oh how you resent it! That’s what you’d really like to be doing… sitting, chatting, and not feeling stressed and cross! Mary, on the other hand, saw Jesus for who he was. She found rest in his presence. She recognised that Jesus had something she needed so she sat and focussed on him and listened intently to every word he said. I wonder which of them made Jesus feel more welcome?

Jesus gave to all who came to him, yet the more he gave, the more he still had within him to give. He said he had come, not to be served, but to serve. Often, we feel we have to give of ourselves all the time, to serve, to be busy… yet Jesus was pleased with Mary for receiving FROM him and said that she had chosen what is better. The thing is, we can’t do anything of worth for long, without receiving from Jesus. He is our reason for being AND doing. Mary rested in Jesus’ presence, she took from him all that he was willing to give. How much more do we need to rest in Jesus today?

When he was scourged and crucified to death, a divine exchange took place. Jesus became as sin for us and we became the righteousness of God in him. All that was unholy in God’s eyes was punished in the body of Jesus and justice was met! We have no righteousness of our own, only that which we receive when we believe on Jesus. When we are saved, we often say we have given our lives to Jesus, but the reverse is actually true – he has given his life to us! That defining moment at Calvary, when Jesus said, “It is finished.” – it was! Court adjourned. We are now free of our orange jumpsuits and dressed in clean white robes!

I know we know all this…

But the enemy’s strategy is to keep us busy. The last thing he wants is for us to sit at Jesus’ feet, gaze into his eyes and listen to his voice..! To KNOW that HE is already defeated because Jesus is victorious over every unholy thing in this world and the whole spiritual realm. He wants us to think we must always be doing and serving, because “that’s what Christians should do”!

And if you’re about to say, but faith without works is dead… you’re right! But they work together. And we cannot expect to do anything to serve the kingdom, without knowing first WHOM we are serving – the King! We must know who he is, what he stands for and what he requires of us.

Eph 2:8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – 9 not by works, so that no one can boast. 10 For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

Our service to the kingdom consists of the works prepared in advance for us to do, not to labour and strive in areas where we are not gifted or able, or be the one who never says no, which causes us to become exhausted and burnt out. We must rest in Jesus, sit at his feet as Mary did and receive from him, so we are equipped to do whatever HE asks of us, then our yoke will be easy and our burden light.

I love this version of psalm 23 from the Complete Jewish Bible, which really speaks to me…

ADONAI is my shepherd; I lack nothing. He has me lie down in grassy pastures, he leads me by quiet water, he restores my inner person. He guides me in right paths for the sake of his own name.

Even if I pass through death-dark ravines, I will fear no disaster; for you are with me;
your rod and staff reassure me. You prepare a table for me – even as my enemies watch;
you anoint my head with oil from an overflowing cup.

Goodness and grace will pursue me every day of my life;
and I will live in the house of ADONAI for years and years to come.

THIS is how to live life resting in the Lord!