I Saw Jesus

I saw Jesus

“What is that you express in your eyes? It seems to me more than all the print I have read in my life.”  ― Walt Whitman

I saw Jesus. I was dressed in smart casual clothes, I wore an apron and my mind was filled with a million little thoughts about both the present moment and future plans.

I saw Him more than once. He looked different each day, a different skin tone, stature and dress. I served Him a fried breakfast complete with fried bread and cooked tomatoes. I offered Him a hot drink and made sure to ask if He wanted sugar and milk. He seemed grateful for the food, grateful but weary.

I watched Him as He ate. He sat silently eating, sometimes looking around in a daze at those around Him, lost in His own world. Sometimes He was agitated and irritable, annoyed with His life and the hand He had been dealt. Sometimes He made conversation, shared parts of His life story and the intricacies of how He came to be seen by me.

I listened and tried to show the empathy I felt filling my heart. I wished I could alleviate His painful past, His disappointing present and the long road ahead that was His future.

At times the stench from Him was awful, at others barely noticeable. I showed Him where the showers and laundry rooms were, helped Him fill out an application form and laughed at His jokes… I was relieved He still found some joy in humour.

I admired His tenacity of spirit, knowing I would probably not have half as much were I to walk the same road as Him.

His language was rough and honest but polite when around me. I hoped He didn’t think I was judging Him. I hoped He knew that I believed in Him, that I could see the gifts and goodness within Him. I wanted Him to know I had hope for Him.

‘He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to Him, nothing in His appearance that we should desire Him. He was despised and rejected by others, a man of suffering, and familiar with pain. Like one from whom people hide their faces. He was despised and we held Him in low esteem.’- Isaiah 53

I was not the only one who saw Jesus. Many others did, and many others served Him, although I am not sure they recognised who He was.

I saw Jesus in a day centre for the homeless and vulnerable. It was an honour.

‘Then the King will say to those on His right, “come, you who are blessed by My Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave Me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave Me something to drink…”’- Matthew 25

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Monday Prayers

 

 

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Father God,
You are full of grace
Even when we omit to do
The good we desire to do.
In our inner being
In our core
We long to be like You.
We delight in You
We delight in Your ways
The war is waging against our hearts and our minds
We feel like prisoners
To our own selves.
We feel wretched before You
Lacking in grace.
But You are Grace
You will rescue us from these bodies of death
Thank you Father
We are redeemed through Jesus Christ
Our Lord.
Amen.
Romans 7 v 14- 25

Dropping the Defences

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“A man, to be greatly good, must imagine intensely and comprehensively; he must put himself in the place of another and many others; the pains and pleasures of his species must become his own. The great instrument of moral good is the imagination.”
― Percy Bysshe Shelley

It would be wonderful if we could drop our defences completely with one another. Be free to bare our souls, our cracks, our joys unhindered by fear or experiences of reproach. It takes a lot of mental energy to maintain those defences, valuable energy which wastes away in the process, forfeiting the opportunity to channel itself into something holy and beautiful.

Jesus had no defences; He was led as a lamb to the slaughter and breathed not one word of justification. Jesus knew what was in man, He had no need for anyone to remind Him of the fickleness of human nature, yet He lived His life boldly in the face of exposure to mockery, jealous backlashes and the attention of hungry crowds.

Maybe we could let down our defences and let ourselves be seen as God sees us. When we live before Him we live transparently regardless of our attempts to be otherwise. God sees past our defences and loves us deeper still.

Why do we need to justify our stories? Every person’s encounter with Christ looks different. Every person’s experience of God is different. Every person’s understanding of how He moves in our lives is different.

Yes, there are always fundamental principles and truths… but no set of fingerprints are the same, no snowflake that falls replicates another.

If we laid down our defences I am convinced others would more clearly see Christ formed in us. If we uncovered the treasure within these earthen vessels and admitted once and for all that it’s Christ in us who is our hope of glory.

How liberatingly beautiful it would be to join Paul, to be unafraid and unashamed to say:

‘My experience of the law is that when I want to do good, only evil is within my reach. For I am in hearty agreement with God’s law so far as my inner self is concerned. But then I find another law in my bodily members, which is in continual conflict with the law which my mind approves, and makes me a prisoner to the law of sin which is inherent in my mortal body. For left to myself, I serve the law of God with my mind, but in my unspiritual nature I serve the law of sin. It is an agonising situation, and who can set me free from the prison of this mortal body? I thank God there is a way out through Jesus Christ our Lord. – Romans 7 v 21-25

Maybe it is no coincidence that Paul was one of the most influential men in the early church. He was aware of himself, but better still- he was acutely aware of God.

Monday Prayers

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Father God,

Empower us to love one another

For love comes from You

You are love in every form

When we love we are truly born of You

When we love

We are conformed and transformed

Into Your image

We honour You for how You showed Your love to us

For sending Your one and only Son

To this wicked and desperate Earth

That we might live through Him

This is love

Not that we loved You

But that You loved us

And made a way out of sin

Into wholeness and righteousness

Help us to love each other until we see Christ

Until His love is made complete in us

Let Your perfect love drive out fear

Make us perfect in the knowledge of Your love

We can love

Because You first loved us

We long to know and rely

On the love You have for us

Amen.

1 John 4 v 7-19

 

 

Monday Prayers

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Father God,

We set our hearts to return to You

Although at times we feel torn to pieces

You will heal us

Although at times we feel injured

You will bind up our wounds

After two days You will revive us

On the third day You will restore us

That we may live in Your presence

May we acknowledge You always Lord

May we press on to acknowledge You

As surely as the sun rises

You will appear

You will come to us like the winter rains

Like the spring rains that water the Earth.

-Hosea 6 v 1-3

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2014 -Simplicity of Heart

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‘One moment your life is a stone in you, and the next, a star.’– Rainer Maria Rilke

As I look back on the year 2013 I see a year filled with opportunity, uncertainty, pain, hard lessons, confusion, misunderstanding, feeling misunderstood and towards the end- being totally blindsided by love.

In the economy of God, a wounded heart coupled with pain and confusion can be swiftly transformed into a heart learning to embrace and enjoy love again. God is simply good to us. He never has an ‘off’ day, never misunderstands our hearts but knows the deep motivations and desires that drive us.

Simplicity is something I plan to focus on this year. I refuse to complicate following Jesus anymore. It is either true that if we believe in our hearts and confess with our mouths that Jesus is Lord then we are saved… or it isn’t. It is either true that the work of God is to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ… or it isn’t. God’s written word and the assurance of His Spirit remind me continually that this is indeed true.

If this is truth, then I want to live according to the simplicity of this Gospel. To not create complexities where there are none, to avoid putting up unnecessary barriers and hoops to jump through for those who would seek to know the living God.

‘But alas for you, you scribes and Pharisees, play actors that you are! You lock the doors of the kingdom of heaven in men’s faces; you will not go in yourselves neither will you allow those at the door to go inside…’– (Matthew 23 v 13)

I believe God loves simplicity, after all, He chooses to reveal His greatest mysteries to the simple over the ones who consider themselves wise (Matthew 11 v 25-26).

My goal this year is to keep my life simple, without unfounded restriction or limitation, without falsehood or show. I desire to love God and others with a simplicity that puts others at ease, makes them feel valued and seen. Cooking meals, showing hospitality, remembering birthdays, remembering to send cards…

Making that phone call to see how friends are, preferring to listen rather than rushing to speak my mind. Honouring God through creativity, building relationships, spending time with the one I love just because…

As God’s eyes roam to and fro about the Earth I don’t want to be found judging others by my own religious standards, or declaring my own criteria for those who are pleasing to God and those who are not. God forbid.

To take a lesson from light; we don’t need to fight the darkness we just shine the light and darkness flees.

I want to be found simply enjoying Jesus; admiring and imitating Him and not anyone else.

I want to be found using the gifts He has given me; doing what I can to spread the fragrance of life which leads to life and extending His kingdom.

I want to be found reading His word and believing it.

Living simply is not a matter of disengaging our brains. It is not a matter of limiting our knowledge or settling into mediocrity. It is a conscious focusing of our minds on what really matters in the grand scheme of life, on what really matters to God.

Living simply for me means not bowing to the expectations of others, resisting the need to please people and checking out my heart with God on a regular basis. We can check our hearts with God without fear as He understands us completely and created us just how He wanted us- He is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love.

You give life, You are love
You bring light to the darkness
You give hope, You restore
Every heart that is broken
Great are You, Lord

It’s Your breath in our lungs
So we pour out our praise
We pour out our praise
It’s Your breath in our lungs
So we pour out our praise to You only

All the earth will shout Your praise
Our hearts will cry, these bones will sing
Great are You, Lord

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2qUOHjnDIFs

Within or Without

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‘Do you see the will of God as outside you, or as in-built? Is it something you are meant to be doing for God, or is it mainly something God is doing in you? ’

I have been mulling over these questions this week. Thinking about how my attitude towards myself, others and God reflects my answers to the questions. The will of God is as big a concept as it is a minute and detailed one. There are two major ways of viewing God’s will; the panoramic view of the will of God encompassing plans for humanity as a whole, the story woven from creation right through to eternity. Or, the individual 20/20 vision of the will of God encompassing our daily decisions and lifestyle choices, how we practically walk out what we perceive to be God’s will for us individually in each moment.

I believe the will of God is not just something worked from without, but a mixture of within and without. It is working with God for God.

If we believe His will is something solely outside of us it is easy for us to become detached and distanced from involvement in it. Our responsibility to see His will worked out in our lives and in our world somehow seems ethereal, a product of Holy Spirit direction and not a collaborative effort with our own co-operation. In this instance, His will is external and aimed at reaching those around us; we take a backseat in the great cosmic plan. We retreat back to the age old refrain ‘the will of God is not about us…’

But, I think the will of God has everything to do with us and everything to do with Him. It is in-built within us from the day we were born. We have an innate desire to not only be with God, in His presence and in His glory, but to serve Him for a purpose much bigger than ourselves. To be creative in how we live out the story of our lives, to be like Him.

To be like Him means that we need to allow God to do something in us. Therefore, His will is not just something we are doing for God; it is something He is doing in us.

The will of God from without;

‘The Lord is not slow in keeping His promise, as some understand slowness. Instead He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.’– 2 Peter 3 v 9

‘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.’– John 3 v 16

The will of God from within;

‘For those God foreknew He also pre-destined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters.’– Romans 8 v 29

‘For it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfil His good purpose.’– Philippians 2 v 13

Within and without, with and for– God is working out His will in our lives.