‘Grace and peace to you from him who is, and who was, and who is to come’ Revelation 1.4
This powerful phrase gives us a picture of Jesus in his entirety, not as a King currently enthroned on high but as one who spans all of time – present, past and future. Even more is added to this image: grace and peace flow from the one who stands throughout all time. Let’s make this more relevant for us!
You may be going through anxieties or difficulties at the moment and perhaps there are things you are not even telling those closest to you. The hope for you is that grace and peace can flow from Jesus into your present situation. You also have a past, some of which might bring happiness as you think about it, but some that brings hurt – and perhaps there are even memories that you simply do not want to re-visit. The invitation is that grace and peace can flow into your past. The future is unknown, but sometimes fears about what might lie around the corner can cause anxiety. Again, the hope that you can cling to is that the grace and peace of Jesus will be there.
Grace and peace for your present, past and future flow from Jesus. He is the source and to find him is to find what flows from him. Take a moment to hold your present, past and future before him and whisper his name over them.
“I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so that you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so that you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes, so that you can see.” Revelation 3.18
It can be hard to be honest about our spiritual lives. It is never easy for us to admit that our lives with God are not as good as we think they should be – but honesty is a sign of humility. Today’s verse contains some words of Jesus spoken to the church in Laodicea. He was speaking to people who thought they were doing fine, but in reality they were not. The good news that he shared was that despite their failings there was more; a closer relationship with Jesus, a richer experience of God and a new sense of purity and vision.
So how do we access all this? Jesus indicated the means by sharing a picture of him standing at the door knocking, eager to come in when the door was opened. The starting point is the image of Jesus wanting to come in: he wants more! He is longing for us to let him come in and share a deeper intimacy and friendship with us. Unless we believe that he wants more, perhaps we will not hear him knocking – and even if we do we may not recognise that it is him at the door.
It is a humbling thought that Jesus is seeking a deeper relationship with us simply because he loves us. How does this make you feel and what are you going to do about it?
“Very truly I tell you, my Father will give you whatever you ask in my name.” John 16.23
So many people have probably read this verse and thought something along the lines of – “I wish!” It seems so simple, yet in reality we have to ask whether it really works? We do what we can to pray in the name of Jesus, but if we are honest it doesn’t seem to make any real difference to what happens.
However, Jesus was not talking about a formula for success and there is something about this verse that can be all too easily overlooked; prayer is in the context of relationship. There is a deep relationship between Jesus and his Father that is at work in prayer, and it is this relationship that we need to begin to explore more in order to learn to have increased confidence in our prayers.
The desire of Jesus is that we discover the extent of his Father’s love for us and catch a sense of just how loved we are, just as he experienced it. When we are captivated by his love, we are more naturally going to be able to capture the heart and will of Jesus for those things for which we pray.
This can begin right now! Before you bring anything to God in prayer, begin by spending a little time reflecting on the love that the Father has for you. This is not just something to soften his heart towards you but is because knowing more of his love will affect your prayers for healing and for anything else, as well as being something that will change your life for ever.
“This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.” John 15.8
A question we often ponder is why would God use us? No doubt he has big plans and dreams and as we look back through history, he has raised up great people to bring them about. Could we ever be included in what he wants to do?
By asking such questions, one of the problems is that we are putting the emphasis on ourselves; looking at our own lives and situations. In this verse from John 15, Jesus puts it quite another way – in the context of the glory of God. We are tempted to see God’s ability to use us almost as a result of our good behaviour, whereas he sees it in the context of his glory.
Today God wants to use you to bring glory to him. This is not a matter of you being good enough for this to happen, but rather of you being open. A simple prayer before you do anything is, “Father, use me.” It might be before you go to see someone or even as you leave your front door. What God does with you might not seem very dramatic to you, but even a simple act of kindness to someone else brings glory to him.
“Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me.” John 14.1
Many people can identify with troubled hearts! For the disciples gathered around the table with Jesus, their troubled hearts were trying to make sense of what he was revealing about his departure from them. In other words, their security was being shaken. Perhaps this sometimes happens to you and people or things that you once trusted are now looking shaky? Maybe you are aware that you have no idea what the future really holds for you? Yet having our security shaken need not always be bad. Often it is a means of encouraging us to walk into new opportunities or recognising a fresh call into a new life or a different way of thinking.
Being told not to be anxious is not very helpful – unless we are given an alternative. Jesus does just this: he tells us not to be troubled and that the alternative is to trust. The challenge is not just to trust in the concept of a God who is bigger than us, but in Jesus who enables trust to be personal. The disciples were invited to put their trust in him, the one they had witnessed performing outstanding miracles and whom they had seen reaching out to touch people with such tenderness and love. This is the one in whom they were invited to trust – and so are we.
Whatever new challenges you face, you are invited to turn to the one that you read about in the pages of the New Testament. In the same way that Jesus came to the help of so many people back in those days, you can trust in his help for you now.
“…they exchanged their glorious God for something disgraceful.” Hosea 4.7
When God spoke these words to the priests of the land, he was giving them a glimpse of his vision when he looked at their lives. He was saying that he could see the potential and what could be shining out of them, but they had let it go.
There is probably an element of truth in this for all of us. I don’t think Jesus would want to call us disgraceful, but perhaps he does look at our lives and see that there could be more. There could be more awareness of the Father’s love, more yielding to his grace and more times of turning to him to find his presence. What we do have in common with the priests who were being addressed in this verse is that the decision is ours.
There is always more. The words of Jesus, ‘Come to me’, are a continual refrain urging us to turn and find the ‘more’ that he offers. How much more is there? In any situation you face today, if Jesus was standing in your shoes what could happen? This is how much more there is.
‘As for you, see that what you have heard from the beginning remains in you.’ 1 John 2.24
Sometimes you may wish that you were closer to God or you may look back to times when your relationship with him seemed more intimate than it is now. All relationships change and certainly you may discover new things about prayer as you grow in your faith, but if you feel there should be more than you are currently experiencing, the problem may not be due to God withholding anything but rather that you have let go of things that you once held dear.
The book of Revelation begins with Jesus speaking to a number of churches and to one of them he says these challenging words, ‘You have forsaken the love you had at first.’ (Revelation 2.4). It is not that God had moved or withdrawn his love in any way, but rather that the church had let their enthusiasm for the love of God slip away. This is what John was writing about in his letter; we have a responsibility to hold on to the foundations of our faith and if we neglect them, we will lose something very important.
Today, come back to the foundation of your faith: God loved you so much that he gave Jesus for you, not to judge you but to reach into your life and transform you and show you what he is like.