Friday, 29 June 2018
By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who received the promise was offering up his only begotten son. Heb. 11.17
This is amazing! Abraham was promised a son by God. In faith Abraham believed for his son, and he held on. His faith led him beyond all possible hope in the natural. But his faith was not in the natural. Abraham had faith, he believed, in a supernatural God. And Abraham’s God could do anything. Indeed, God gave Abraham his son, at a time when both he and Sarah were well beyond the age of procreating.
Then a most catastrophic happening occurred. God asked Abraham for his son back! He asked Abraham to sacrifice Isaac. How can the seed of Abraham possibly be germinated if the sower (the son) is removed? This is, indeed, a most remarkable turn of events. Then, believe it or not, an even more remarkable thing happens – Abraham actually proceeds to obey God and to give up his son. What is going on?
I have thought often of Abraham’s predicament in being asked to surrender his son. I have translated the situation into my own life. How would I feel if God asked me to give up my precious daughter? O, the agony of merely thinking about it. Could I do it? Would I do it?
This is an extremely difficult scenario in which to imagine oneself. I have thought about it, felt the pangs of love for my daughter tug at every part of my heart, and wondered!
Yet, in reading this passage again today I am aware of another perspective, and one that could cause equal difficulty and turmoil. It is an interpretation that stands adjacent but separate to the fact that Abraham was asked to give up his beloved son.
God had made Abraham a promise. It was a promise that simply could not be fulfilled in the natural. If this promise was to be believed, it required the utmost faith. Abraham demonstrated faith. Despite the totality of negative evidence that confronted him, Abraham had faith to believe that God would honour His promise. And, in time, a long time in fact, God did fulfil His promise. The son was born.
The son grew, and Abraham grew to love him more and more. Isaac was the realisation of his greatest dream. More importantly, he was the fulfilment of God’s promise.
Then God asks for him back. But what about the promise?“You promised, Lord. You said, and You did. But now You’re undoing. I’m losing what You promised me.” Abraham could well have responded to God in this way. He did not. He chose rather to obey God and he did so believing that God would still restore his son.
O Abraham, I feel so small when I read, and more so realise, the potency of your mighty faith. To believe for the promise required giant faith. But to see the promise threatened and still believe for it, creates in my mind a measure of faith that makes me gasp. I am struck by the enormity of faith. I am envious, yes, I admit it. O, that I might know such a faith!
I receive today a new perspective on what it is to be of the seed of Abraham. I declare, with gravity and humility, the privilege it is for me to come from such beginnings.
I want to live by faith. I want to walk in faith. Yes, I do want faith like these heroes I read of in this wonderful letter to the Hebrews. I want their kind of faith, in full measure.
I want to please You, Lord. I know that I cannot do this without faith (Heb. 11.6) I want to please You, and I want the faith, great faith, to do so.
Hear this cry of my heart. May it touch Your heart, and move You to release more faith into me. I ask this in Jesus’ name. Amen.
Tuesday, 26 June 2018
“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." 2 Cor. 12.5
With these words, God makes it abundantly clear to me that His grace is all I need – nothing more is necessary! I need to do nothing other than open myself up to His will, to be willing to let Him have His way in me. This has been my ardent desire for some time now.
I have heard grace described as: the overflowing favour of God. I believe, with the words of God quoted above, that He is inviting me to live, fully and permanently, in His overflowing favour. He tells me clearly that His grace is sufficient for me. What does this mean if not that I need nothing else? As I look to Him, and as I give myself, willingly and freely to Him, so He will provide for me, He will lead and guide me, He will protect, equip and enable me and, I dare to think, He will lead me into the fulfilment of His will for me.
Today I begin the next phase of chemotherapy treatment. Yesterday I discovered that it is likely to be more regular than I had previously envisaged. I have been feeling amazingly well and positive to this time. Of course, I have experienced some challenges and minor irritations (such as sleep upheaval and deprivation) but my chief attitude and response has been one of optimism and a positive outlook. I am not able to seriously consider cancer in me. My thinking is, rather, that there was a tumour in my brain, but it is no longer there! It is gone – and I can get on with living.
The coming treatment is a reminder to me that more work is necessary before I can consider myself to be disease-free.
So, what can I do? I can turn to God, and open myself completely to Him. I can expect, and receive, His grace, His overflowing favour. And I can be satisfied that this is all I need.
Lord, Mighty God,
I feel strong. I open myself to the wonder and power of Your grace. I know this is all I need. I rest in Your grace. I am at peace. I thank You, in love. Amen.
Sunday, 24 June 2018
By faith Abel … Heb. 11.4
By faith Enoch… Heb. 11.5
By faith Noah… Heb. 11.7
Hebrews chapter 11 is the most wonderful writing on faith. In it, we read of the great men and women of faith and their demonstration of faith – assurance of things hoped for and a certainty, a conviction, of things unseen.
We see faith in action.
In Abel we see how faith makes death the path to life.
In Enoch we see how faith conquers death.
In Noah we see how faith saves others from death by the work it does for them.
Faith sees what the world cannot see. Faith sees everything, the future too, in the light of God.
I live in the present. I want to live in the present, but I want to do so with faith. I want an assurance of the future and the unseen. I want to see what the world cannot see. I want to see everything – past, present and future – in the light of God.
I thank You for this writing and for the wonderful examples and encouragement of these godly men.
I do not aspire to be Abel. I dare not aspire to be Enoch (though I would very much like to know the experiences he knew). I cannot aspire to be Noah. Nor, indeed, do I need to! For I am me. You created me to be me, and not Abel, Enoch or Noah.
I thank You that You created me, me! I like me. I enjoy me. But I am not satisfied with me. I want to be more like Jesus. Like Jesus, I want to live my life totally to the fulfilment of Your will. I want to see everything in the light of God. I want to live in faith – filled with faith. Would You help me, Lord? I’m asking in the precious name of Jesus. Amen.
Thursday, 21 June 2018
I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. Gal. 2.20
Jesus invited me into relationship with Himself, and I responded in the affirmative. I allow Him to draw me to the Father. He says, “Come, follow me.” I give myself to this, and I seek – as best I am able – to live in the Father’s will.
Today, perhaps as much as any time in history – and certainly more than in my earlier years – we live in the age of the ego! Individuals are out for themselves, seeking to satisfy their own wants and desires, and often not giving the slightest thought to others and their needs.
This is not God’s way! God demands that we put Him first: You shall have no other gods before me. (Exod. 20.3) How often, indeed, do we see others, even Christians, put another “god” (wealth, prosperity, health, popularity) before the Lord God.
This is not what Jesus intended when He said, “Come, follow me.”Jesus lived the whole of His earthly life in compliance with the Father’s will for Him (Luke 22.42). He was obedient to the point of death (Phil. 2.8). He spoke only what the Father would have Him speak (John 12.49.50).
Jesus gave us the perfect example (John 13.15).
He issues us with a new command that we are to follow: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. (John 13.34)He expects us to do this.
There are times when I experience great difficulty in following Jesus. I cannot love as He would have me love. At these times, I cry out to Him, “Lord, I find it difficult to love this person. Please show me them as You see them.” He does so, and it changes me.
Jesus is ever there to help me, and lead me in that change that makes me, truly, a child of God.
Loving God,I give myself wholeheartedly to being Your child. I seek to follow Jesus into the fullness of Your will for me. Lead me through this day, and every day, to Your praise and glory. Amen.
Monday, 18 June 2018
And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him. Heb. 11.6
I was created to please God. Through Adam I was denied the opportunity to be directly pleasing to Him. Jesus has restored me. It is none of my doing. It is fully the atoning work of God given freely for me.
Do I believe this? Most certainly I do. I have faith, abundant faith to believe for this. I believe God is. I must believe that I can please Him. I need faith for this. I need faith to also believe that God will reward me as I seek Him. No, surely I know this. I know this for I have indeed experienced it. As I have sought God, I have been rewarded. He has drawn me close; He has spoken to me; and He has shared wonderful promises and insights with me.
Do I have faith? Yes, I do, but I want more!
I thank You for the faith that I have, for I believe it came from You. I thank You for it but I ask for more.
I want to please You. My desire is to be totally pleasing to You in all that I am and in all that I do.
I want to come to You and live with You. I pray earnestly and sincerely that I might work in the closest cooperation with You.
Yes, Lord, I want to live with You and work with You, and relax with You and rest with You.
Thank You for my faith,
please increase it,
in Jesus’ name I ask. Amen.
Saturday, 16 June 2018
For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God, you may receive what was promised. Heb. 10.36
There are many temptations that seek to come against the Christian and lead him away from the promise. The world is in constant conflict with the work of salvation and sanctification in the Christian. And the world’s way is at hand! It is tangible and visible. It is beguiling and enticing. It is natural, easy and unceasing. And the Christian can so readily fall.
Yet the Christian has taste of the other, an infinitely more worthy way. This is the way of eternal life. This way will satisfy forever. But this way is not as obvious as the worldly way. This is where we need faith. This is where we need patience. In our faith, we exercise boldness!
We have already been exhorted to hold fast to our boldness for Christ’s faithfulness (3.6). We are encouraged to draw near with boldness to the throne of grace (4.16), and we are assured of boldness to enter into the Holiest through the blood of Jesus (10.19).
All of these things we know yet, somehow, they do not stand up overwhelmingly against the enticements of the world. This is when we need faith. We need faith to enable us to live in the future. We need faith to enable us to live, right now, in the power of eternity. We need faith to enable us to live in the power of Him who is Eternity.
The understanding of my heart and my mind is quite clear today. I am in need of endurance, of faith and of patience to live the life that I want to live, a life committed to doing Your will, a life devoted to doing Your will.
I believe I must stand in boldness, and I do. I stand in the boldness that my Lord Jesus has given me. I stand in the boldness of His faithfulness. I draw near with boldness to the throne of grace. I enter with boldnessinto the Holiest place, the presence of Almighty God.
My desire is to live in the Holiest place. I have faith for this, yet I know I need more faith. I need faith to know I can be strong against every temptation. I need faith to hold on to the assurance of my salvation. And I seek faith to believe that signs and wonders and miracles will manifest in my ministry through the fullness of the Holy Spirit.
With boldness I ask for patience, and all the enabling that patience requires. Let me resist and overcome. Let me wait, expectantly, upon the good things of the Lord and upon the promise. Let me live, daily, in the fullness of the will of God.
I love you, Great One, and I want to serve You with all of my being. Help me do so, in Jesus’ name I ask. Amen.
Thursday, 14 June 2018
It is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God. Heb. 10.31
We are saved by the blood of Jesus. His sacrifice was no small work. God is gracious and will forgive the sins of the truly repentant and receive them back in relationship.
Yet we must beware of wilful sin. There is nowhere a clear definition of this, therefore our preferred action is to beware of all sin; this will surely keep us from wilful sin.
For the wilful sinner there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins but, in its place, a “terrifying expectation of judgment”.
Let me be truly aware of the snare of sin and let me be ever vigilant and alert against it. But there is more. What of my worldly brothers and sisters who perpetuate sin without thought to the redemption hard won for them and, I’m sure, quite without a real awareness or acceptance of the judgment that awaits them?
For we know Him who said, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay.” And again, “The Lord will judge his people.”(Heb. 10.30)
Where grace abounds, justice will surely also be greater.
I want to help those who live, unwittingly perhaps, in the ways of the world and out of the Way of God. I don’t feel confident in myself. This is good. I can look to God and ask Him to lead me, to guide me, to work through me.
I ask You to help me to understand the trap of sin and to guard myself against it. I surrender completely to you. Lead me, by Your Holy Spirit.
I ask You also to equip and enable me to reach the lost, to touch them for You, to be able to give them the message clearly and with a relevance to their lives. I ask You to help me to lead them to You. I ask these things in Jesus’ name. Amen.
Tuesday, 12 June 2018
Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. Heb. 10.23
There is a connection between faith and hope. In the next chapter of this wonderful writing we shall read that faith is the assurance of things hoped for. Faith and hope go together. In faith we receive the promise of a thing and in hope we go forward expecting the promise to become reality.
The entry into the Holiest may be seen as the beginning of the true Christian life. It is a life we enter in faith that we will, constantly and continually, receive everything that we need from God. It is a life where we believe, in faith, God’s working to be all in all. He will do all that is needed, in everything.
This faith is upheld by hope. In a life of faith we look not to ourselves but to God. We look to Him in faith, and we place our hope in Him for the reality of the outcome of that faith in our lives.
Our hope is strengthened by our confession of it. In our utterance, from our utterances, come clarity and reality. Our confession glorifies God. Our confession helps and encourages those around us. Our confession affirms our commitment. The epistle writer is filled with encouragement for his leaders: Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering. O, Yes! Let me, in faith, believe. Let my faith move forward in hope. Let me be ever willing to confess my hope, to hold it fast without wavering. O, Yes, Yes! Let me do this.
And, as I do so, let me be further encouraged to know that the one who promised me is faithful. He is faithful to each and every one of His promises, and His promises are marvellous and amazing. The promises of the Lord God to me are more, far more than I could ever imagine possible. And He is faithful. He will faithfully keep all His promises to me.
I hold fast the confession of my hope without wavering, and I thank the Lord, Mighty God.
I believe You have many promises for me, and I have faith to look for the fulfilment of each and every one of them. I know You have much to share with me. I know You have much for me to do. But, more than this, I know You have a special relationship for me to enjoy with You. I know these things. I have faith for them, and I wait, in the fullness of hope, for the realisation of them all. I confess, I freely confess my hope in the many and wonderful things that You have for me.
I lay before you my hopes and dreams, for I believe they are Yours. I surrender to You the desires of my heart for I think You put them there. I look to You, only to You, for the fulfilment of Your plans and purposes in my life. Take me, use me, in Jesus’ name I ask. Amen.
Sunday, 10 June 2018
let us draw near to God … having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience. Heb. 10.22
Our hearts are sprinkled by the blood of Christ. His blood cleanses our hearts and, through our hearts, our whole being.
Verse 19 has already reminded us that we have boldness, through the blood, to enter the Most Holy Place. This is a place of sweet purity, of God’s righteousness. Christ’s blood cleanses me to enter fully into God’s presence.
Chapter nine tells us of the twofold effect of the sprinkling of Christ’s blood. Firstly, (v12) having obtained eternal redemption, Jesus entered the Most Holy Place by His own blood. Furthermore, His blood cleanses me (v14) from acts that lead to death, so that we (I) may serve the living God!
Some Christians accept the redeeming death of Christ at Calvary but know little of His heavenly life, or near access to God, or service for others. Then there are others, called to be priests, to live in the service of God and their fellow men. They know more of the power of the blood, setting them apart for service, yet they still live outside the veil.
Then there are those who know and understand what Christ’s entering with His blood implies and procures. These experience the application of the blood in such power by the Holy Spirit that it brings them to the fullness of life in the inner sanctuary, and the full and abiding joy of God’s presence.
I seek a greater revelation of the blood of Jesus, of what it has done in heaven, of what it can do in my heart and the power that it can release in me. I ask You for this revelation. I feel that I have received it in my mind. I seek it in my heart and in my spirit. I ask You, by Your Holy Spirit to lead me into the full awareness of the blood of Jesus, and into the power that it brings into my life.
I seek the fullness of life that the blood gives. I ask for an outward sprinkling, and in inward infilling. Let me drink of the blood, and be cleansed, released and empowered.
I want to draw near to You with a true heart, a heart fully sprinkled. I place my inmost being entirely and unceasingly under the heavenly power of the blood. Hallelujah! Praise the Lord. Amen.
Thursday, 7 June 2018
“And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father. You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.” John 14.13,14
Jesus offers both an invitation and a promise: “Ask in my name ... and I will do it.” But what is He really saying? I do not believe for one moment that He is inviting us to present our materialistic and hedonistic desires to him with the rider, “I ask these things in Jesus’ name.” No, this is not what I hear Him saying.
What Jesus is saying – loudly and clearly to me – and what He continues to encourage me in, is to seek God’s will in all that I am and do, and to give myself to the outworking of that will, just as Jesus did when He walked this earth. This, I truly believe, is what Jesus wants of me, as I ask in His name.
Jesus lived on earth with the sole purpose of fulfilling the Father’s will for His life. He lived a totally perfect life, fulfilling the Father’s will for His life in every respect. He lived a perfect life, totally sinless, and obedient in every way – to the point of death.
Jesus invites me to follow Him. I know I will not achieve the perfection that is Him. Yet I can give myself to the best of my ability. I see the Father, waiting and expectant of my giving of myself to Him, and He is ready and eager to fulfil in me the things that I am unable to achieve in myself.
I feel myself drawn into the most wonderful partnership. I am a co-worker with Almighty God. But there is more. I join with Him in sweet relationship which powers me to live and work to His praise and glory. This most precious relationship is the basis of all, it is fundamental to the whole of life for me. It determines who I am and what I do. And this is all God’s doing. His love for me is so great that He came to earth in human form, lived a perfect life, and then gave that life in payment for my sins, in redemption of my soul – allowing me to present myself sinless before Him. This is the love He has for me.
Will I ever truly take hold of Your love for me? And how can I possibly respond and return love to You? Let me live in the name of Jesus. Let me follow Him even though my being and doing may be imperfect. Help me, please, in Jesus’ name I ask. Amen.
Tuesday, 5 June 2018
Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed – not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence – continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling. Phil. 2.12
Paul congratulates the Philippian believers on their obedience. He refers to their compliance with his teachings, and this whether he is with them or absent from them. This begs the question of me: Am I always obedient to the will of God? I know I want to be, and I really try to be, but I do not always succeed. So, what might I do to live more fully in the Father’s will?
I think the first point to take hold of is that it is His will. He is the creator and the originator of what He – and only He – desires. Furthermore, God has drawn me into that will through the wonder and miracle of salvation. Again, this is God’s work and His ownership: Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb. (Rev. 7.10) Salvation is God’s, but He graciously and generously bestows it on me. With it comes the gift of His will and, as always, a choice for me – to accept his will or not.
When I say “Yes” to God and open myself to live in His will, I do not need to ponder what that will might be. It is His will, and my prime task is to open myself in obedience to it. God places His will in me. He knows what He has for me and what He wants of me. There is no debate about this. The required action by me is to work out the will that God has worked into me.
As I write this, it sounds so simple. Again, like other aspects of living in God, it appears simple, but not easy to fulfil. How, then, can I best give myself to fulfil God’s will in my life? Yet again I refer to the writer of the letter to the Hebrews, and I follow his advice: Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfector of our faith.” (Heb. 12.2)
I came to faith through Jesus. He will lead me through to perfection. Hallelujah!
Wonderful Lord Jesus,
I look to You – in all things! I know You are the way, and I give myself into the way that is You. Lead me, please, into the fullness of the Father’s will. Walk with me, into the perfection that is You. Thank You. Amen.
Sunday, 3 June 2018
The LORD confides in those who fear him;
he makes his covenant known to them. Ps. 25.14
I believe the psalmist is talking about friendship with God. This is intimate relationship, a connection between two individuals that allows them to share – deeply, honestly, and lovingly. Friendship deepens with time and with application; friendship allows confidences to be shared. I remember the adage from the Road to Emmaus programme: To have a friend you must be a friend.
How might I develop friendship with God? I believe the first move is with Him. He chooses me; He makes me that offer that I would be most foolish to refuse. It is as if He says: “Come to me, come with me and let me change your life into the existence you were created for. You are a most beautiful being but, perhaps, the person you now are has been shaped more by the world than by me. And the world is flawed. I do not want you to be flawed. My desire for you is that you live in the fullness of my plan for you.”
I believe my first move into friendship with God is to hear, and respond to His call. And then I need to listen to Him. Knowing of God’s immense love and His incredible power can easily lead me to present to Him a constant stream of petitions and requests. This would make for an extremely one-sided friendship.
No, true friendship is a partnership. It involves give and take. For my part, I want to give myself fully into God’s will for me. In taking, I look to Him for direction. I position myself to hear what He might say or ask of me. And I commit to follow through in joyful relationship and the fullness of a true and faithful friendship.
And it’s not all about doing. Being comes first. I am a child of God. He has chosen me and drawn me into relationship and the most wonderful friendship.
I give myself wholeheartedly.
Lord, Loving God,
I thank You for Your gracious act of friendship. I give myself fully into relationship with You. I love You and desire to share so much with You.
May we enjoy together some of the secrets of heaven as journey the road of earthly life in relationship. Thank You. Amen.
Saturday, 2 June 2018
Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – his good, pleasing and perfect will. Rom. 12.2
I have just completed the initial radiation and chemotherapy treatment. I have now been encouraged by the hospital staff to enjoy “normal” living for the next four weeks while the effects of the treatment are developing.
This has got me thinking, just what is normal? And what might be normal for a God-lover like me? The word “normal” does not appear in the Bible, but the secular world is quite familiar with it. One dictionary describes normal as: conforming with, adhering to, or constituting a norm, standard, pattern, level, or type; typical. How boring is this? Especially the typical bit! Who wants to be “typical”?
For much of my early life I felt “different”, and it wasn’t a good sort of different. This is no longer the case! Now I feel extremely, and totally, special – and I’m comfortable and very much at home with being special. I also think this is how every believer ought to feel, think and behave. For we are, indeed, special people.
We have been chosen by the Great God Himself to enjoy sweet and intimate relationship with Him. Make no mistake about this. We did not choose. He has chosen us, but He does give us the opportunity and choice to affirm Him. Jesus makes it clear to us what the process is. It could almost look like a conspiracy between the Father and the Son. Yet, I’m sure the Spirit is also in there somewhere. Jesus says, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14.6) He also says: “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him.” (John 6.44) So you see, the matter is entirely between the Godhead. All we can do is receive, receive and be utterly thankful. For He takes us into that most holy place where we share in deepest intimacy with Him. How can we possibly claim to be normal with such blessing and lavish abandonment.
Yes, I use the term abandonment deliberately. Paul tells me that the renewing of my mind will allow me to test and approve God’s will – His good, pleasing and perfect will. I hope you know by now that this is where I want to live – in the very centre of God’s will. Nowhere else will satisfy me. And so, I give myself to “abnormality” and I abandon myself, and embrace wholeheartedly the special nature He has given me.
My hope is that other believers will take hold of the richest gift that we could ever possibly have in the relationship He offers. And if, by chance, you are reading this without this relationship, I urge you to wait on Him – it is His work and His move, but be ready to say “Yes, Lord” when He calls you to choose.
Dear Loving God,
I thank you that I am not normal. I am extremely pleased to be special, and I embrace this, Your “specialness”, with all of my being. I pray for believers everywhere that they may know the exquisite joy of intimacy with You. I pray for non-believers and dare to remind You that it is Your desire that none shall perish. Draw them to Jesus, Lord. Show them the way, the truth and the life. And lead us all forward into love, peace and blessing. I ask these things in Jesus powerful and sweet name. Amen.