Reflections

The Only Certainty in all our uncertainties.

Jesus said: “All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out.” (John 6:37)

I wonder if you have ever considered these remarkable words of Jesus? “All that the Father gives me will come to me”. Jesus does not say that they may come, or that they might come if they are good enough, but that they will come. It is a certainty.

Jesus says in this same chapter: “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day.” (v44) and again “This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by the Father.”

As we read through John’s good news account of Jesus we are struck by this over and over again, the work of God’s Holy Spirit in the hearts of spiritually dead people to awaken faith within, to awaken a new desire, a new passion for Jesus – people who now see his worth and attraction, his beauty and his power.

Friends, God is seated on His throne. He is unshaken by all that shakes us. He is not anxious or troubled by Coronavirus (as we are), rather He is working all things together for the good of His people. He is drawing people away from hopelessness toward the sure and certain hope found in Jesus Christ alone.

We have already been told in chapter 3 that “God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”

The Certainty in our all our uncertainty only comes through trust in the One who is seated on the throne: King JESUS Himself. The One who faced death in our place for all our wrongdoing, all our sin in order to bring us into His eternal kingdom without sin and sickness, without trouble or anxiety, free from worry and fear.

Jesus says: “All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out.”

Maybe like no other time before in our lifetime have we been so forced to see the uncertainty of our world and all that we are tempted to put our hope into. Could the mercy of God in this be found, that we are being drawn away from all that does not last and is vain to hope in – in order that we might hear HIS voice and see the Beauty of His Face in His Son, our King Jesus.

Jesus says to to those who eyes to see and ears to hear:

“My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. I and the Father are one.” (John 10:27-30)

Jesus is the Only Certainty in all our uncertainties.

Friends, put your trust in Him in Whom is all certainty, all goodness and delight.

Reflections

Anxiety, Fear? Or Peace and Rest?

“Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.” (Psalm 23:4)

Fear is defined as “a distressing emotion aroused by impending danger, evil, pain, etc., whether the threat is real or imagined; the feeling or condition of being afraid.”

To say we live in a world of fear is a great understatement. But nothing is new under the sun. Fears heighten and fears dissipate as threats (real or not) begin and conclude time and time again.

So, what gave the Psalmist here the ability then not to fear? What brought in peace where anxiety had breathed its deadly poison?

“I will fear no evil, for you are with me” says David the Psalmist. What was it? The LORD. My Shepherd. YOU are with me. YOUR rod and YOUR staff. In the temptation to fear the real evil, the real threat of death surrounding David, his hope was found not within himself, and not by ultimately escaping every valley of the shadow of death – rather it was found in relationship with the One who stands above and beyond even death: The LORD over death itself.

And JESUS, the LORD over death itself, said: “I am the RESURRECTION and THE LIFE. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die.” (John 11:25-26).

Friends, in Jesus we find the only Good Shepherd who brings His people to green pastures, who leads us beside still waters (‘waters of rest’), who restores our souls.

Because the sting of death in sin has been defeated by Jesus on the cross for all who put their trust in Him. So, then we do not need to fear even death itself…

“For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:38-39).

Friends, we need what our world needs more than ever, to place our trust in Him, who took the punishment for all our sin.

In Him alone who can replace our fears with peace – in the certainty of His eternal love.

Reflections

in Good Hands.

Reflection on John 10:27-30
[Jesus said]…“My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. I and the Father are one.”

I think these are some of the most encouraging words for us. Jesus is using the image here of Himself as the Good Shepherd and his people, his disciples, his followers as His sheep. These are the ones that Jesus loves and cares for.

So, there’s a pretty important question that comes from this then, ‘how do I know if I am one of His sheep?’ Well, Jesus points to at least two things here. First, His sheep ‘hear’ (or listen) to His voice and second they ‘follow’ Him.

Listening to Jesus and following Jesus go hand in hand. We cannot say that we know Him and not do what He says.
1 John 2:4 says “Whoever says “I know him” but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him”. If we do not have joy in following Him, we do not know Him.

To ‘hear’ Jesus is to understand who He is. It is to hear him properly; it is to see him properly – to realise who He is.
For following Jesus, the disciples faced all kinds of suffering and trouble, even death itself. It could only be the weight, and value and beauty of Jesus that would allow them to hear His voice and to follow Him even in the face of the complete opposition and rejection that they faced.

Jesus gives His sheep here absolute confidence to face opposition. He says, “I know them’, “I give them eternal life” “they will never perish” “no one will snatch out of my hand” or “out of the Father’s hand” – Jesus and the Father are One.

I don’t know of any truth that holds my heart in greater care than the truth that my Shepherd Jesus saves me, holds me, keeps me, and watches over me and will never let me go.

Jesus says: “I am the Good Shepherd. The Good Shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.” (John 10:11).

Friends, Jesus our Good Shepherd went to the cross and paid for all our wrong, all our sin and shame. He took it on Himself. He suffered and died for it. And He rose again from it.

If you hear His beautiful voice, if you follow Him – the assurance we have is that He and the Father (who are One) hold us, and that no one is able to snatch us from their Hand.

Eternally we will not perish but have eternal life in pastures green by still waters (Psalm 23) because our Good Shepherd loves us and gave Himself for us. Enjoy that friends!

Reflections

The King over fear.

Reflection on Mark 5:35-36
35 While he was still speaking, there came from the ruler’s house some who said, “Your daughter is dead. Why trouble the Teacher any further?” 36 But overhearing what they said, Jesus said to the ruler of the synagogue, “Do not fear, only believe.”

Our world is a place of constant fearfulness. We live in the 24-hour news cycle of stories that cause us heart ache, despair and to be filled with fear.

Stories of death and disease, stories of disaster and despair if we are not careful will give way to a despair in our own hearts and minds and we will be overwhelmed by, and overcome by… fear.

So, what can quell our fears? What can alleviate our worries and drown our despair? When our hearts are overwhelmed, anxious, troubled, fear filled… what can dispel the storm of fear?

Jesus says to this father who has just been told that his daughter has died not to fear but rather to believe. Jesus shortly after this raises his 12-year-old daughter back to life. Fear is overcome with “amazement” in these parents’ hearts.

Truth be told we live in a fearful world; we live in a place where brokenness surrounds us and indwells us and we are tempted to give way to fear. And we can come up with all sorts of phrases to seek to drive out these fears but in the end our fears can still dominate, and they can still become reality no matter how positive we try to be.

The Only Hope we have is the One who is the King over our fears. Jesus came to give us a glimpse into what His kingdom will be like: a place without death and disease, a place without disaster and despair… a place without fear.

Jesus came to destroy the one who has the power of death (the devil) and to deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery (Hebrews 2:14). Jesus did this when He went to the cross and took on our all our sins, all our wrongdoings – He suffered for us, in our place to make us right with God, to take away our fear of judgement.

To trust in Jesus does not mean we will not suffer, even deeply so, but it does mean that we do not need to give way to fear like the world because Jesus has conquered our greatest fear, our greatest enemy: even death itself. And by trusting in Jesus we will enjoy eternal fearlessness in His love and freedom forever.

The King has triumphed over all fear.

Reflections

Do you long to be fearless and without worry?

Reflection on Jeremiah 17:5-10
This is what the LORD says: The man who trusts in mankind, who makes human flesh his strength and turns his heart from the LORD is cursed. He will be like a juniper in the Arabah; he cannot see when good comes but dwells in the parched places in the wilderness, in a salt land where no one lives. The man who trusts in the LORD, whose confidence indeed is the LORD, is blessed. He will be like a tree planted by water: it sends its roots out toward a stream, it doesn’t fear when heat comes, and its foliage remains green. It will not worry in a year of drought or cease producing fruit…”

Do you long to be fearless and without worry?
Then trust in the LORD.

When we look to ourselves and others for our ultimate sense of strength, of value, of worth, of hope… we will always be ultimately disappointed.

People were not made to fill the place that only God can take. We were made to trust in Him. And so, when we look to other things to find what only God can truly provide for us we are left fruitless, hopeless, and anxious.

But there is another option, there is another choice for us to make. The one who trusts in the LORD, whose confidence indeed is the LORD, is blessed. That person will be like a tree planted by water, sending out its roots and fearless of heat or drought, why? Because God is their supply. He is their source. He is the LORD. The Creator. The Sustainer. The Redeemer.

I am as tempted as the next person to look within, to look to others for my sense of strength and provision that only the LORD can truly provide…

So this call is for me, and for you, and for all people. To look to the LORD, the maker of heaven and earth, the One who in sending His Only Son to die for our sins and on the third day to rise again – I am called to look to, and to trust in Him.

He has provided for my ultimate needs, forgiveness and transformation through Jesus Christ. And He has promised that soon will come the day when my strength will never run out, when my hope will never fade away, when my faith will be sight in the presence of Him, my God, and my King.

Let’s look to Him, and so be truly blessed in Christ forever.

Reflections

“I am a great sinner and Christ is a great Savior.”

Reflection on Psalm 25:5-9

Lead me in your truth and teach me, for you are the God of my salvation; for you I wait all the day long. Remember your mercy, O LORD, and your steadfast love, for they have been from of old. Remember not the sins of my youth or my transgressions; according to your steadfast love remember me, for the sake of your goodness, O LORD! Good and upright is the LORD; therefore he instructs sinners in the way. He leads the humble in what is right, and teaches the humble his way.

David knew the sins of his youth were something that left to himself he could not cover up or deal with. The truth is that God sees all and knows all. This leaves us in a terrible predicament left to ourselves because we cannot do anything to erase our past, we cannot do anything to cover up those times we have hurt others and hurt God.

But David did not rely on what he could do to cover it up – in fact he did the very opposite, he confessed his sins (see also Psalm 51), he asked God to show him mercy, to pour out His steadfast love.

David turned the God who ‘instructs sinners in the way’, the God who ‘leads the humble’ and teaches ‘the humble his way’ – David turned to the God who does not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities.’… but instead …’as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us.’ (Psalm 103:10-12).

Here’s the bottom line then. God is not looking for the pretender. He is not looking for the one who can put on the best show outwardly that they are good – but rather the one who admits they are not. And the one who in that turns to Him, to His mercy and His love – who turns to God alone to rescue them, to forgive them, to guide them, to save them.

John Newton the hymn writer who wrote the famous hymn ‘Amazing Grace’ put it beautifully when he said: “Although my memory’s fading, I remember two things very clearly: I am a great sinner and Christ is a great Savior.”

For the person who puts their trust in Jesus’ death on the cross as payment for their sin – their remains no more payment for sin, but total forgiveness and everlasting life with God as their Father – there is no other truth worth living for, and no other joy that arms us to face all our days. Oh, what a God! Oh, what a Saviour!

Reflections

Teach us to sit at our Lord’s feet, listening to His teaching.

A reflection on Luke 10:38-42

38 Now as they went on their way, Jesus entered a village. And a woman named Martha welcomed him into her house. 39 And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to his teaching. 40 But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.” 41 But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, 42 but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.”

Wouldn’t it be a shame if we were distracted by things that were lest than what life is all about? Wouldn’t it be a shame to gain the whole world, or even some of it and lose our eternal soul?

Jesus said: “And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.” (John 17:3). True life, eternal life and joy comes through a relationship with the Eternal God through Jesus Christ. Don’t miss that in your life!

But here’s probably the heart of the passage from Luke and where it strikes me time and time again: Martha was ‘distracted’ with ‘much serving’. In fact, she was serving the Lord Jesus Christ. You can only imagine if Jesus was in your house and you were the host that you would want to put on a pretty good spread!

Here’s the thing: In all her serving Him, she was distracted from the most necessary thing, the most joyous thing, the most important daily need of the disciple: to sit at our Lord’s feet and listen to His teaching.

Here’s where I am challenged: Do I go into my day to get done all those things that are even good things and even help others and neglect the relationship that should drive all I do?

Do I miss out on sitting with my Lord daily in His word where my anxieties and troubles seem so small in the light of His glory and grace? Is sitting at His feet my priority, my joy, my delight – is it my daily need, the one thing necessary, that ‘good portion’?

Because I am reminded often that it is when I neglect this daily need – even by being very busy and distracted with much serving that in fact I find myself anxious and troubled by many things.

Oh Father, teach us to sit at our Lord’s feet, listening to His teaching. Thank you for your Word where our anxieties and troubles are lifted in the peace that only comes from You – from knowing You.

You are the God we were made for – to know You.

Help us not to miss that, but rather to sit in peace at Your feet.

Reflections

“Listen to Him!”

A reading and reflection on Matthew 16:28-17:8

28 I tell you the truth, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom.” 17:1 After six days Jesus took with him Peter, James and John the brother of James, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. 2 There he was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as the light. 3 Just then there appeared before them Moses and Elijah, talking with Jesus. 4 Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good for us to be here. If you wish, I will put up three shelters–one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.” 5 While he was still speaking, a bright cloud enveloped them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased. Listen to him!” 6 When the disciples heard this, they fell face down to the ground, terrified. 7 But Jesus came and touched them. “Get up,” he said. “Don’t be afraid.” 8 When they looked up, they saw no-one except Jesus.

Peter, James and John here are given an amazing experience, almost a peak into the great glory that Jesus will have after His death and resurrection as the King of God’s eternal Kingdom.

But what terrifies them in the experience is the voice that speaks from heaven saying: “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased. Listen to him!”

These are very similar words to when Jesus is baptized, it is God the Father stamping His approval on His Son. His ‘Beloved Son’, the well pleasing Son. Jesus is the Perfect Son. He (unlike all of us) never disobeyed His Father. He was perfectly obedient – even unto death to take the punishment that we (the sinful children deserve).

But these are the words that hit me this week as I read this passage: “Listen to Him!”. I wonder, how are you going with that? It is so easy not to listen to Him.

Let me ask you, are you taking time each day to listen to Jesus speak through the pages of His word? God gave us a book to hear Him speak. Why not join us in reading through Matthew’s gospel here: https://www.facebook.com/Growing-in-Passion-Together-Daily-Devotionals-316385785559843/

Are we stopping in our lives to listen to God’s Son: The True King? We are so very good at listening to every other voice, and especially our own inner voice.

Let us seek to obey God and so be rewarded as we stop and listen to and so seek to follow after the King of kings, the Lord Jesus Christ.

Reflections

The Ruler shepherded by death.

A reading and reflection on Matthew 2:1-6; 16-18

1 Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the east came to Jerusalem, 2 saying, “Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.” 3 When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him; 4 and assembling all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born. 5 They told him, “In Bethlehem of Judea, for so it is written by the prophet: 6 “‘And you, O Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for from you shall come a ruler who will shepherd my people Israel.'” …

16 Then Herod, when he saw that he had been tricked by the wise men, became furious, and he sent and killed all the male children in Bethlehem and in all that region who were two years old or under, according to the time that he had ascertained from the wise men. 17 Then was fulfilled what was spoken by the prophet Jeremiah: 18 “A voice was heard in Ramah, weeping and loud lamentation, Rachel weeping for her children; she refused to be comforted, because they are no more.”

The Ruler has come, the Shepherd of God’s people: Jesus the Christ, the Messiah, the King!

Herod was set to kill him, to wipe out God’s chosen King. So too were Israel’s religious leaders who had Jesus killed.

But God allowed the anger and hatred, their murderous intent to succeed, to fulfil the purpose for which Jesus came: “to save His people from their sins”.

But only in His time. Children were murdered here while the baby Jesus was rescued, but soon He would be murdered so that all God’s children could be rescued. Jesus said: “I am the Good Shepherd. The Good Shepherd lays down His life for the sheep.”

The Ruler shepherded by sacrificing His life in order to save His sheep. The Ruler – King Jesus – I will worship all my days and forevermore!

“Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing!” (Revelation 5:12).

Reflections

God is my portion, Christ is my life.

A reflection on Psalm 39:4-7

“Show me, O LORD, my life’s end and the number of my days; let me know how fleeting is my life. You have made my days a mere handbreadth; the span of my years is as nothing before you. Each man’s life is but a breath. Man is a mere phantom as he goes to and fro: He bustles about, but only in vain; he heaps up wealth, not knowing who will get it. “But now, Lord, what do I look for? My hope is in you.”

A thought has struck me recently… all those who have gone before us are dead.
Sorry to be so dim, but I think it is for good reason. For those who follow the Eternal God – who has ultimately revealed Himself in His Son the Lord Jesus Christ here is the heart of our faith, is it not?

God is my portion, Christ is my life.

God’s word sets forth this certain hope:

“Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.” (Colossians 3:1-4)

Wow! Is this your hope?
It goes well beyond this frail and short life. It is a hope in God that reaches into eternity itself… where God is… the Eternal One… time without end… who keeps His word.

For those who trust in Him, our certain hope is in Him, in Him our God, in Christ our King – who has made God known, who has shown us the Father. It is because of Him that we can face today and tomorrow not without sadness – that will come as you know.

But we can face today and tomorrow with every confidence in the midst of sadness’s and hardships knowing that if our “life is hidden with Christ in God” then “when Christ who is our life appears then we also will appear with Him in glory.”

 The Almighty God has proven His love for us in and through Jesus Christ, in His life and in His death and in His resurrection for us. We need not fear the present, nor the future – because He holds us in His hands, He is always good, and always true and always faithful.

“No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him” (1 Corinthians 2:9).

What a God!

Let us live in light of Him, placing our trust in Him alone.