“How much more valuable you are than birds.” – Luke 12:24
Our value to God shines through the pages of the Bible. The care that God took over creation, the individuals he raised up to call people back to him. The love for us that was demonstrated in the giving of Jesus.
Many people know all this – but the question they have is along these lines – but what about me? Am I really of value to God?
It is the work of the Holy Spirit to write these truths in our hearts. We can argue about it until we are blue on the face! But on an individual level, we need to give the Spirit the space to speak to us, and then we have to co-operate with what he does.
Simply begin by sitting quietly – and ask Jesus through the Holy Spirit to show you your value to him. Be aware of any thought that comes to you, it may be in the form of a picture or a verse from the Bible. Write down anything that comes – and then choose to believe it.
God is longing for us to accept his love, for what that will do to us, for the joy it will bring him, and for the way it affects how we are with other people.
“If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” – Luke 11:19
Perhaps it is not stretching it to paraphrase this verse along these lines – there is no conceivable situation in which you could ask for the Holy Spirit, and your loving Abba Father will not joyfully give him to you.
Is it really as easy as that? The answer is probably yes and no! It is as easy as pausing to ask, but we often simply don’t do that simple task. We battle on, relying on our own efforts, trying our hardest, and often not getting very far at all – when it might be as simple as stopping to ask. The next small catch is to take a moment to receive – to let him speak to us, infuse us, or whatever we need from him.
He is only a prayer away – that is quite a long way away if we don’t actually pray, but quite a short space if we do.
“Choose life” – Deuteronomy 30:19
Throughout each day every one of us has to make choices. Some choices are easy, and probably not very important. Other may be on a different level, and much may depend on the outcome of those decisions.
What is the governing factor that determines what we choose? Deuteronomy has this beautiful advice for us as we look to make some of the more important choices before us – “choose life”.
What does this mean? How do we put it into practice?
To choose life is to take the course of action which aligns us to the heart of the one who said “I am the life.” It may not be the easiest choice, or the one which is most advantageous to us personally, but it will be the one that spreads peace in our hearts.
It starts with deciding there is an option. We are not forced into making wrong choices, choosing life begins with choosing to believe there is an option. Secondly, choose to weigh up the options, which of them will bring us that peace in our hearts that nothing else can give. Making that choice is to choose hope.
Finally act on the choice, and enjoy the peace that follows.
“Rejoice that your names are written in heaven.” – Luke 10:20
The disciples have just returned from a time of ministering to other people, something they have done without Jesus accompanying them. They return joyfully recounting all the wonderful things they have seen, and after sharing in their joy – Jesus says these words – “Rejoice that your names are written in heaven.” What do those words mean for us?
The essence of what he is saying is this – we are always in God’s presence. Our names are not simply the words that our parents gave to identify us, our names are everything about us, our history, our hopes and our dreams. These names are written in heaven, a beautiful picture of everything about us being held before God’s loving presence.
The full wonder of this is that in the inevitable mundane moment of daily life – or in the moments when we seem to forget about God – the reality is that actually we are always in his presence, whether we perceive it or not, so to find his presence should not be a great struggle for us, but simply a tuning into a different existing reality – we are there already, our names are continually before him.
That, he said, is something in which we can really rejoice.
“(Jesus) spoke to them about the kingdom of God, and healed those who needed healing.” – Luke 9:11
There is something incredibly simple about this description of the activity of Jesus. Evidently from what happens next (the feeding of the 5000), this process took time, but people seemed willing to spend time listening to him, and receiving his ministry. Because of this we can presume that his speaking was such that people genuinely wanted to listen, and it was not filled with judgemental or harsh statements. As his speaking seemed to lead directly into ministry, he must have been speaking about God’s desire to be kind and to bless, and the availability of God’s mercy for their particular needs.
What is God’s kingdom desire for our lives, and the needs we have. It is likely to be all about freedom. Freedom from the chains that unforgiveness wraps around us, freedom from the crushing weight of guilt of sins committed, freedom from the need to push others down so that we can succeed, and freedom from the sicknesses that we carry, about which we can do so little – but he could do so much.
As we sit with Jesus, let him speak to us about the kingdom of God in our lives, and how different it could look.
“When God heard them, he was very angry; he rejected Israel completely.” – Psalm 78:59
The disobedience of the Israelites and their subsequent rejection by God is a tragic story. It is sometimes tempting to think that we are similarly rejected and far from his favour.
There Is a beautiful line in The Message translation of Luke 7:16 where it says: “God is back, looking to the needs of his people!” In Jesus, that is the glorious truth – God has come back to us, he has not rejected us, and he is aware of our needs.
This is not to say that looking after our needs is God’s sole concern, but in his desire to reveal the Fathers heart, and to reflect him fully, Jesus demonstrated God’s transforming power amongst those with whom he dwelt.
As Jesus approached the end of his earthly ministry and looked to the future – he had every expectation that a similar transforming power would be available to the church. In John 14:12 he proclaims that ‘anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing’. Far from these works ending with his departure, his leaving would actually be the reason for such works continuing – ‘because I am going to the Father’.
If we find ourselves in moments of desparation – God has not rejected us. In fact he is aware of them, and through Jesus has given the means of transforming help.
“Jesus travelled about from one town to another, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom of God” – Luke 8: 1
The kingdom is meant to be good news! In fact if you look a little later on in this chapter at the ‘Parable of the Sower’, we read of those for whom the Word of God is choked by riches and pleasures (Luke 8: 14). This certainly implies that the things that God gives are meant to be even better than the other riches and pleasure that we experience. But is that true for us?
So often our faith is boiled down to what we are not allowed to do, negative commandments and the discipline of the Lord. Where is the good news?
As we read through more of Luke 8, the good news seems to be, at least in part, the transforming presence of Jesus with people. We read of Jesus stilling a storm, lifting chronic oppression from one man, healing a woman who has been suffering for twelve years, and giving a family back their dead daughter. That is good news.
Take a moment to sit in the presence of Jesus, as you sit, ask yourself this question – where is he for you right now. As you begin to find him, speak to him about the transforming touch you need upon your life.