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Advent: December 24

1 Peter 4:8-9

Most important of all, you must sincerely love each other, because love wipes away many sins. Welcome people into your home and don't grumble about it.

You’ll probably be busy today, so our last reflection will be a little shorter.

I like Peter’s, or at least the translator’s down-to-earth nature. Peter has been there, and done it, and now he expresses everything within the context of love. Show some love this Christmas, but remember that love is not just for Christmas.

Who could you invite to your home? Not sure? Then pray about it.

How will you celebrate Christ’s birth at home?

Father God, because of Jesus You now welcome me into your family as an adopted child, with all the riches of inheritance offered to me. Prompt me to share this amazing gift with those I meet. Amen.

Scripture taken from the Contemporary English Version © 1991, 1992, 1995 by American Bible Society, Used by Permission.

 

If you’d like to spend a little more time in reflection, then you may like to read the passage from the opening of John’s Gospel, verses 1 to 14. As you read, remember that this is an opening to a Gospel that is very different from the openings of the other three. Mark goes to John the Prophet, Luke and Matthew include Jesus’ birth.

Matthew considers it important to place Jesus’ earthly heritage on record, writing a long list of forebears, but John tells us of Jesus’ heavenly status, and gives us this wonderful passage.

You may know the old version of it if you’ve done a few Nine Lessons services over the years, but I would recommend reading it out of that context and in a different translation. Here are some links to versions as found on BibleGateway.com, and there are plenty of other translations to find there:

The Message Bible

Good News Bible

The Voice

The Passion Translation

New Living Translation

Paul

Advent: December 23

Revelation 19:6-10

Then I heard what seemed to be a large crowd that sounded like a roaring flood and loud thunder all mixed together. They were saying, "Praise the Lord! Our Lord God All-Powerful now rules as king. So we will be glad and happy and give him praise. The wedding day of the Lamb is here, and his bride is ready. She will be given a wedding dress made of pure and shining linen. This linen stands for the good things God's people have done."

Then the angel told me, "Put this in writing. God will bless everyone who is invited to the wedding feast of the Lamb." The angel also said, "These things that God has said are true."

I knelt at the feet of the angel and began to worship him. But the angel said, "Don't do that! I am a servant, just like you and everyone else who tells about Jesus. Don't worship anyone but God. Everyone who tells about Jesus does it by the power of the Spirit."

So this is what heaven is like. No nooks, no quiet rooms, no denominations, no clubs (and you may as well forget the golf clubs, too!). I’m sure we have an ideal of what we’d like heaven to be. At a recent funeral I conducted the young grandsons told the assembled mourners that Grandad would be having a quiet cigarette and a whisky – to them that would be heaven.

The difficulty I have in describing heaven is that it is beyond my imagination, and certainly beyond words, as any reader of the Book of Revelation will confess. Think of something amazing – heaven will be better than that. Think of the best meal you’ve ever had, and Grandma’s apple pie – heaven will be better than that, and there’ll be no gluttony or indigestion. Think of the best loving relationships – the host will know us better than anyone has ever known us, and we’ll also know him better, and everyone else at the feast, too. Think of the best holiday experience you’ve had. Heaven beats any of them.

And so on, and so on, into eternity…

The marriage feast, the wedding supper of the Lamb is the best act of hospitality ever. God has prepared an eternal feast for his Son, Christ Jesus, the Lamb of God. It’s a wedding feast, better than that at Cana, better than the earthly feasts in Jesus’ parables which are all hinting at this feast to end all feasts. Jesus is the Bridegroom, and the Church is the Bride.

The Church is the gathering of all believers from across the world over the centuries. It consists of all those who have committed themselves to Christ as a bride does to her groom (and vice versa) on her wedding-day. We will come together to celebrate this union.

This is not a private function. All are invited. Remember, however, the parable of the bridesmaids. All were invited, but half of them had not prepared themselves. The door was shut to them.

How do I get tickets for my as yet uninvited friends?

Who will invite those who haven’t yet heard?

Will we remember in heaven the ones who did not make the feast?

How do I tell others about it?

Father God, I cannot get my created head around Your eternity. An eternal marriage supper is way beyond my comprehension, but You know that. Would You reveal through your Holy Spirit a better understanding of all these things and inspire in me a deep desire to see my family, my friends, my colleagues and those You bring me into contact with come into a true faith in Your love shown in Christ Jesus. In his name. Amen.

Scripture taken from the Contemporary English Version © 1991, 1992, 1995 by American Bible Society, Used by Permission.


 

Paul

Advent: December 22

Luke 16:19-31

There was once a rich man who wore expensive clothes and every day ate the best food. But a poor beggar named Lazarus was brought to the gate of the rich man's house. He was happy just to eat the scraps that fell from the rich man's table. His body was covered with sores, and dogs kept coming up to lick them. The poor man died, and angels took him to the place of honour next to Abraham.

The rich man also died and was buried. He went to hell and was suffering terribly. When he looked up and saw Abraham far off and Lazarus at his side, he said to Abraham, "Have pity on me! Send Lazarus to dip his finger in water and touch my tongue. I'm suffering terribly in this fire."

Abraham answered, "My friend, remember that while you lived, you had everything good, and Lazarus had everything bad. Now he is happy, and you are in pain. And besides, there is a deep ditch between us, and no one from either side can cross over." But the rich man said, "Abraham, then please send Lazarus to my father's home. Let him warn my five brothers, so they won't come to this horrible place."

Abraham answered, "Your brothers can read what Moses and the prophets wrote. They should pay attention to that." Then the rich man said, "No, that's not enough! If only someone from the dead would go to them, they would listen and turn to God." So Abraham said, "If they won't pay attention to Moses and the prophets, they won't listen even to someone who comes back from the dead."

The rich man showed no respect to the laws of hospitality – he may have feasted with those like him, or with his family, but he ignored the plight of the poor. The poor man Lazarus made no fuss, and presumably saw being able to eat some scraps that fell from the rich man’s table – perhaps it’s a form of gleaning. He even put up with the dogs.

Obviously, this is a story Jesus made up, though in our world there are millions like Lazarus and many like the rich man. We have to go back to Isaiah 58 to remember what God said about people in need:

I'll tell you what it really means to worship the LORD. Remove the chains of prisoners who are chained unjustly. Free those who are abused! Share your food with everyone who is hungry; share your home with the poor and homeless.

The demands of this verse are great. Read each part and ask yourself if you are doing what God has told us we should do. We should feel uncomfortable if we do not respond in any way. God will not be ready to accept any hands or voices raised up in worship from those who care only about themselves. I do not want to turn up to a worship meeting and be all cosy with God when I’m ignoring injustice in the real world.

Will there be fire and suffering for the ungodly? All I know is this – there’s none where I’m going, and, rather than argue about what hell is like with those who think it’s a myth and a joke, I’m simply proclaiming the higher place. Accentuate the positive.

What should we, individually or through our churches and fellowships, be saying to our government regarding justice?

We are being made aware of the sexual abuse carried out by priests and others in churches. Should I care if it wasn’t in my denomination?

How do I respond to the (ever-present – Matthew 26:11) poor, the homeless, those unable to cope, the fatherless, the widows, the orphans, the abused, the prisoners, the oppressed? Where do I start? Do those “at home” deserve my charity more?

Father God, the door to heaven is open to all those who call on the Name of Jesus. I might now sit down and do nothing else, but You call me to be part of your work of salvation. Use me, Lord, for your purposes, as an ambassador of Christ Jesus in this fallen world. Amen.

Scripture taken from the Contemporary English Version © 1991, 1992, 1995 by American Bible Society, Used by Permission.

Paul

Advent: December 21

Luke 15:11-32

Jesus also told them another story: Once a man had two sons. The younger son said to his father, "Give me my share of the property." So the father divided his property between his two sons. Not long after that, the younger son packed up everything he owned and left for a foreign country, where he wasted all his money in wild living. He had spent everything, when a bad famine spread through that whole land. Soon he had nothing to eat. He went to work for a man in that country, and the man sent him out to take care of his pigs. He would have been glad to eat what the pigs were eating, but no one gave him a thing. Finally, he came to his senses and said, "My father's workers have plenty to eat, and here I am, starving to death! I will go to my father and say to him, 'Father, I have sinned against God in heaven and against you. I am no longer good enough to be called your son. Treat me like one of your workers.' "

The younger son got up and started back to his father. But when he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt sorry for him. He ran to his son and hugged and kissed him. The son said, "Father, I have sinned against God in heaven and against you. I am no longer good enough to be called your son." But his father said to the servants, "Hurry and bring the best clothes and put them on him. Give him a ring for his finger and sandals for his feet. Get the best calf and prepare it, so we can eat and celebrate. This son of mine was dead, but has now come back to life. He was lost and has now been found."

This parable of Jesus’ is a masterpiece. It tells of Father’s ridiculous love for a wasteful wretch. We may be left feeling a little aggrieved at how the younger son’s wasteful behaviour has actually brought shame to his family, or how the other son’s inheritance (for Father has given away half of his property and possessions on the waster) is now being spent on the returned waster. We may even feel that the older son won’t have the same inheritance as his younger brother as there’d be nothing left.

If we feel this way then we are missing the meaning behind the parable, and are taking it too literally. For a start, our Father God has limitless resources. He is aware that we might waste them, or, like the older son, not even avail ourselves of them. After all, didn’t Apostle Paul say that if a man does not work he should not eat?! Does not that set the tone of our relationship with God?

Yes, we can be miserable if we want – if we ask for nothing we will get nothing, and that’s as good as God can give us. Nothing, even when blessed by being pressed down and filled to the brim, still amounts to nothing. What if we start asking for something that we think, in our misguided humility, is more than we deserve? What if we ask God to bless us, to favour us in our work, our leisure, our skills, our income? He’d love to do that, but could we ask?

Father God restores me when I have wasted my inheritance. It’s not automatic. I must return, like the younger son, and confess, knowing that my desire is to be back with the God I abandoned. While I at times may consider myself not to be God’s son because I’m not worthy, God himself does not know any relationship with me other than as Father. I really know that I am a child of God by adoption when I return to the One whose love, demonstrated to me through the blood of His Son Jesus, pulls me back with open arms though I deserve nothing. I cannot express in words how much my Father God loves me. Every time I repent of anything Father God sets out a feast.

Do you stand tall in your Father’s house?

Do you live in the inheritance of God’s riches?

Do you dare not ask God for things, for fear of being seen to be greedy?

Do you know complete forgiveness in God through Jesus’ blood?

Do you know how much it cost God to give you free forgiveness?

Do you keep repenting the same thing each week? Why?

What are you still concealing from God?

Father God, you are more generous that I could ever ask or imagine. Teach me that your most generous gift, rich beyond measure,  has already been poured out when Jesus died for me. Nothing compares with this. Thank you, Father. Amen.

Scripture taken from the Contemporary English Version © 1991, 1992, 1995 by American Bible Society, Used by Permission.

Paul

Advent: December 20

Matthew 15:29-38

From there, Jesus went along Lake Galilee. Then he climbed a hill and sat down. Large crowds came and brought many people who were crippled or blind or lame or unable to talk. They placed them, and many others, in front of Jesus, and he healed them all. Everyone was amazed at what they saw and heard. People who had never spoken could now speak. The lame were healed, the crippled could walk, and the blind were able to see. Everyone was praising the God of Israel.

Jesus called his disciples together and told them, "I feel sorry for these people. They have been with me for three days, and they don't have anything to eat. I don't want to send them away hungry. They might faint on their way home." His disciples said, "This place is like a desert. Where can we find enough food to feed such a crowd?" Jesus asked them how much food they had. They replied, "Seven small loaves of bread and a few little fish."

After Jesus had told the people to sit down, he took the seven loaves of bread and the fish and gave thanks. He then broke them and handed them to his disciples, who passed them around to the crowds. Everyone ate all they wanted, and the leftovers filled seven large baskets. There were four thousand men who ate, not counting the women and children.

We are familiar with the story of the five thousand hungry people. This is another one. What was the miracle? That four thousand people have been fed? There’s a far greater thing going on – large crowds had brought many people who were crippled, blind, lame or dumb. Jesus healed every single one of them. People were restored to mobility, blind eyes could see and deaf ears were opened.

Food was probably not on the minds of the crowds. They had seen this amazing man Jesus heal a son, a father, a mother, a friend. They had seen crippled limbs return to full functionality. Blind people were seeing. Deaf people were beginning to figure out what language and speech are all about. They were all praising God.

Jesus expresses concern about the people’s welfare. They would be getting hungry. The disciples have some rations. I’m not sure I’d want to eat fish or bread that has been in a bag for three days in a desert place. Both would be rather dry. You wouldn’t see a miracle like this today if food safety officers had turned up on the scene. From these meagre rations Jesus provided food enough to feed four thousand men and their wives and families. A lesser miracle than feeding five thousand? I’d rejoice if I could feed twenty people from those rations!

Jesus takes rough and tired elements and turns them into a feast. Again we see Jesus’ extravagance and lavish hospitality as seven baskets of leftover pieces are collected – I’d love to know what they were going to do with those basketfuls!

As to the question I posed yesterday: Lord, don’t you care that we’re going to drown? (Mark4:38)

Could we see this miracle today?

Would you climb a hill to see Jesus?

Would you stay three days (that’s longer than Mary stayed with Jesus)?

Would you dare to take a disabled person with you, with an expectation of healing?

Father God, teach me how to trust in your abundant, extravagant and lavish provision for me and those I love. For too long I have held back, refusing any more than my imperfect human mind and my weak faith considers to be sufficient and not wasteful. Amen.

Scripture taken from the Contemporary English Version © 1991, 1992, 1995 by American Bible Society, Used by Permission.

Paul

Advent: December 19

Luke 10:38-42

The Lord and his disciples were traveling along and came to a village. When they got there, a woman named Martha welcomed him into her home. She had a sister named Mary, who sat down in front of the Lord and was listening to what he said. Martha was worried about all that had to be done.

Finally, she went to Jesus and said, "Lord, doesn't it bother you that my sister has left me to do all the work by myself? Tell her to come and help me!" The Lord answered, "Martha, Martha! You are worried and upset about so many things, but only one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen what is best, and it will not be taken away from her."

We all know this story, perhaps so well that we may forget to dwell on it. If your response to hearing or reading a passage of scripture is to say, “I’ve already heard that one”, then you are in danger of seriously missing out. The Holy Spirit releases truth as we delve into scripture, reading it, reciting it, hearing it. The more we do these things, the more the Holy Spirit reveals the truth that lies behind the words. At first reading it may seem that Mary’s good, and Martha’s the wrong ‘un, but we will still feel a little uneasy about it because we’re probably on Martha’s side!

Perhaps we accept that Martha may have stepped out of line, and that we should all be sitting at Jesus’ feet, because Jesus told Martha that Mary had done the better thing. But the question still remains: can a potato peel itself?

Martha knew the ancient law of hospitality. It wasn’t only Jesus who turned up that day – his disciples were there, too. I don’t suppose they’d brought any food with them, or stopped off at the take-away on the way over. Here was a crowd that needed feeding, and over in the kitchen (in the possibly one-roomed house!) was Martha doing what she knew was the right and proper thing.

She was overwhelmed. I don’t think she was overwhelmed with anger with her sister or with Jesus, but she was being swallowed up in the waves of duty, trying to do the work of two. She may be feeling a little self-righteous – she addresses Jesus and not her sister. (Where else do we hear people speaking like this to Jesus?) If Mary had walked away from her duty of hospitality, why not speak to her directly? It’s never a good idea to address Jesus from the position of your own self-righteousness.

Jesus speaks kindly to her – he would never abuse his host, and he simply tells Martha the truth – Mary has done the better thing.

Many Christians will describe themselves as a Martha, identifying with the pull of duty and the shame of failing to provide, rather than as a Mary. Anyone presenting as a Mary in your fellowship may not be universally accepted by the Martha faction. Can the church flowers arrange themselves?

What would have happened if both sisters came to Jesus’ feet?

What would have happened if both sisters got on with the cooking?

Was Mary the one who knew better in all things?

What is the one thing that Jesus says is necessary?

Father God, so often I chose the busy thing, the duty thing, or in fact anything that will keep me from coming into your presence and sitting at your feet. Warm my heart, Lord. Amen.

Scripture taken from the Contemporary English Version © 1991, 1992, 1995 by American Bible Society, Used by Permission.

Paul

Advent: December 18

Romans 12:13-21

Take care of God's needy people and welcome strangers into your home. Ask God to bless everyone who mistreats you. Ask him to bless them and not to curse them. When others are happy, be happy with them, and when they are sad, be sad. Be friendly with everyone. Don't be proud and feel that you are smarter than others. Make friends with ordinary people. Don't mistreat someone who has mistreated you. But try to earn the respect of others, and do your best to live at peace with everyone.

Dear friends, don't try to get even. Let God take revenge. In the Scriptures the Lord says, "I am the one to take revenge and pay them back." The Scriptures also say, "If your enemies are hungry, give them something to eat. And if they are thirsty, give them something to drink. This will be the same as piling burning coals on their heads." Don't let evil defeat you, but defeat evil with good.

Paul encourages his listeners to consider the needy, especially the needy of the new congregations of the “followers of The Way”, as Christians were described in the early days. Some congregations were very poor, and Paul encouraged the other congregations to support them.

Paul echoes that which has been drummed into him from an early age – welcome strangers. I’d say that Paul spent quite a high proportion of his time in urban situations, unlike Abraham, but the rule of hospitality is still to be kept.

Paul now takes things to a higher level – we are to bless people who curse us. That’s a far cry from God’s promise to Abraham that He would bless those who blessed him, but curse those who cursed him. Now we see a positive change. A curse is on God’s table, ready for delivery to those who curse us, but we may ask God to turn this round to a blessing. Imagine sending a blessing to someone who hates you. Imagine asking God to give them success in work, in life, in family after what they’ve done for you. But perhaps this is an odd form of hospitality. You break the cycle of retribution, giving to that person a blessing and receiving blessing from God.

Paul tells us to turn the other cheek, not because we like suffering, or consider it a religious duty. Neither of these attitudes will bring any blessing at all to you or the person who wronged you. In turning the other cheek we offer unconditional love to a person – it may be costly for us – but returning when we can an insult with a blessing will be part of a process that leads to the venom being drawn.

If your enemy at a disadvantage, don’t take the advantage. If they’re down, don’t kick them – pick them up! If he or she is hungry, then offer food. Crazy hospitality, but it will work! Your enemy will eventually be in debt to you, and that’s as painful as having a shovelful of hot coals in their hat!

Defeat evil with good. What other way can evil be defeated? It’s what Jesus did.

What can you do to welcome strangers, by yourself or with others?

Read 1 Corinthians 16:1-4. Do you know where does your church’s money go?

Read 2 Corinthians 8:1-5. How does your church compare with the Macedonian Church?

Father God, I pray that you will protect your people from harm, and that, as we pray for the nation in which we live, you will grant us a quiet life. For those churches in other countries where there is state or religious oppression, I pray that we who are comfortable remember those who are not. May my church be like the Macedonian church in giving and supporting. Give strength and grace to all those who suffer for their faith. Amen.

Scripture taken from the Contemporary English Version © 1991, 1992, 1995 by American Bible Society, Used by Permission.

Paul

Reflecting upon Christmas

This reflection was offered at our Carol Services. It is based on the traditional last reading from the Nine Lessons and Carols service, which is the opening of the Gospel of St John:

In the beginning the Word existed. He was with God at the beginning…

John’s Gospel is not the easiest to understand. It would be best read when you have time and space to read a bit and then ponder on it for a bit. Perhaps by yourself in a deckchair in the garden on a warm summer’s day when all the domestic chores are done and the day is yours.

John explains to us in words something that is almost impossible to understand – that God became Man. But we start at the beginning, but of course there is no beginning, for God lives in eternity and eternity has no beginning and no ending. As far as mere mortals can express time unknown, or that which existed before time itself existed, it’s probably simplest to call this the beginning.

He, the Word, Jesus, was there with God. There was never a moment (and here we have to talk about time again!) when the Word did not exist. The Word was not Jesus – Jesus was not born, but that’s who He became as He came from Heaven to our little planet, embodying Father’s love and charged to carry out Father’s plan. Since the time of Adam, Man had fallen away from God. To bring Man back to God, God came, The Word came, in human form, to live a human life, to be like us.

This is the most amazing and distinctive miracle that separates our faith from any other – God became Man. He who spoke everything, absolutely everything into existence – light, the cosmos, life – came to us like one of his own creation, like one of us, to live like us, to demonstrate His Father’s love to us, the bring us God’s Kingdom and to take us back into His family.

As the hymn puts it – I cannot tell why He, whom angels worship, should set his love upon the sons of men.

But that’s what he did. He came, in human form, as a baby who was named Jesus, born of a mother, who lived like us, and who knew that before he grew old he would suffer and die to pay the price of our sins so that we may be brought back to Father God as his adopted Children.

The carols we’ve sung speak of the birth, the Incarnation, of God taking on flesh. Christmas is not about the baby – it’s about God’s inestimable love and about the greatest man who ever lived.

Advent: December 17

Matthew 25:31-36

When the Son of Man comes in his glory with all of his angels, he will sit on his royal throne. The people of all nations will be brought before him, and he will separate them, as shepherds separate their sheep from their goats. He will place the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.

Then the king will say to those on his right, "My father has blessed you! Come and receive the kingdom that was prepared for you before the world was created. When I was hungry, you gave me something to eat, and when I was thirsty, you gave me something to drink. When I was a stranger, you welcomed me, and when I was naked, you gave me clothes to wear. When I was sick, you took care of me, and when I was in jail, you visited me."

I’m sure you know the script on this one. Those who are standing on the right are baffled that Jesus has said that they had looked after him. Jesus replies that in doing such things for any of God’s people they had done it for him. The ones standing on the left are somewhat aggrieved that they get the opposite treatment – you did not visit me, etc. But they had done nothing for anyone.

While it’s a simple story, helped by the two balancing scenarios, it states plainly and starkly that we are called to be hospitable. Hospitality is extended to include clothing the naked, caring for the sick and visiting the prisoners. Not all prisoners across this world are in prison for doing bad things.

We love what the Salvation Army does. It might be that we are glad that they’re doing it so we don’t have to. We might not like getting into the sort of places they go or dealing with the sort of people they deal with. We might not like regular commitment as it makes demands on our work, family and social life. Left side or right side – you choose.

Do you feed the hungry or give water to the thirsty? Yes/No

Do you welcome strangers? Yes/No

Do you clothe the naked? Yes/No

Do you care for the sick? Yes/No

Do you visit prisoners? Yes/No

Which of these does your church do?

Father God, I do not want to stand on the wrong side of You. If I or my church is found wanting in the care we offer to others then I confess my personal or our corporate failure before You. Help me put it right. Amen.

Scripture taken from the Contemporary English Version © 1991, 1992, 1995 by American Bible Society, Used by Permission.

Paul

Advent: December 16

John 7:37-44

On the last and most important day of the festival, Jesus stood up and shouted, "If you are thirsty, come to me and drink! Have faith in me, and you will have life-giving water flowing from deep inside you, just as the Scriptures say."

Jesus was talking about the Holy Spirit, who would be given to everyone that had faith in him. The Spirit had not yet been given to anyone, since Jesus had not yet been given his full glory.

When the crowd heard Jesus say this, some of them said, "He must be the Prophet!" Others said, "He is the Messiah!" Others even said, "Can the Messiah come from Galilee? The Scriptures say that the Messiah will come from the family of King David. Doesn't this mean that he will be born in David's hometown of Bethlehem?" The people started taking sides against each other because of Jesus.

Some of them wanted to arrest him, but no one laid a hand on him.

Jesus tells it as it is, and he gets a mixed reaction. There’s no encounter with a person, just a bold statement shouted out. Teachers usually sat to teach, but Jesus stands. It is likely that people listening would not necessarily understand what Jesus meant, but the teachers of the Law would.

Jesus was quoting from Isaiah chapter 55:

If you are thirsty, come and drink water! If you don't have any money, come, eat what you want! Drink wine and milk without paying a penny. Why waste your money on what really isn't food? Why work hard for something that doesn't satisfy? Listen carefully to me, and you will enjoy the very best foods.

And Jesus has claimed this scripture for himself. He has fulfilled it – “Come to me!” Those teachers that realised what Jesus had done would probably have taken a dim view – to their minds this would be blasphemy. It was probably not the best time to arrest Jesus, when emotions and religious fervour were running high on this special festival day.

Jesus is offering the Holy Spirit, symbolised, amongst other things, by running water. It is available to all who call on the name of Jesus as Lord and Saviour. Jesus doesn’t talk about the milk and wine, attractive though they may seem in comparison to bland water, but the gift Jesus is offering is free and unlimited, ever flowing, and it reaches parts milk and wine simply cannot reach, and they will deteriorate rapidly. It is the ultimate quencher of thirst, the thing most needed in a dry and barren land, or in a life of faith that feels like it’s crawling through the desert. An outpouring or an infilling of God’s Holy Spirit refreshes and enables, empowers and emboldens us to do the work Jesus calls us to.

Many Christians live a life of faith but have no experience of the Living Water Jesus offers. They may be dutiful, obedient and attentive to prayer, bible-reading and living according to God’s way for them. However, the prospect of being inundated is something they shy away from, standing at the side of the pool while others swim, or worse, like Pharisees considering those swimming to be irreverent and disorderly. Some may even claim that the source has now dried up. I believe it still to be wide open to anyone who has faith in him.

Jesus is risen, ascended and glorified. That turn of events has opened the floodgates of God’s Holy Spirit. Jesus wants to set his Holy Spirit water-canon on us. He wants us to dive into the sparkling deep spring. He wants this water to flow from deep within us.

Are there areas of your life that still resist the call of Jesus?

Do you have the experience of Living Water?

If not, then who could you talk to?

Father God, You sent Jesus not only to raise us up to be kings and priests before you, but also to fill us to overflowing with your Holy Spirit. Fill me/fill me once more with your Holy Spirit so that I may be the person You have called me to be. Amen.

Scripture taken from the Contemporary English Version © 1991, 1992, 1995 by American Bible Society, Used by Permission.

Paul