Our Certainty and Hope
If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. (Matthew 6:30-32 NIV)
Unfortunately we live in an uncertain world where so much is unpredictable and unknown. It's easy, and almost expected, for us to succumb to the uncertainty and this is something which easily leads us into fear. Today, I want to remind you that you belong to your Heavenly Father; he created you and knew you before you were formed in your mother's womb. He knows the challenges we face, for, in Isaiah 43 he says "when you pass through the waters, I will be with you". There is a certainty (sadly) of adversity but there is the assurance of his "I WILL BE WITH YOU".
My question for you to consider today is which one of those is bigger? The adversity or his "I will". Isaiah declares the goodness, the greatness and the power of our Father and invites us to trust him rather than allowing the adversity to overwhelm us. His "I will" is always more powerful than the adversity we face.
In fact, as we read through Isaiah 43 we see that the only way to walk through the trials of life is to allow the Father to gather us to himself (verses 5-7). It is there, held in that place of intimacy that we can rest in his protection, provision and his presence. We can swap our anxiety for the gift of Heavenly peace which goes beyond our human understanding.
We read the key to our certainty and hope in Matthew 6 - "Our Heavenly Father knows....." He knows what we are facing and our hope comes from the knowledge of who he is to us. He is a Father to us and so he provides, protects and wraps us in his presence. How then do we enter this certainty? I believe the only way is with a childlike heart. A child does not concern itself with uncertainty, it simply rests in the certainty of knowing its Mum and Dad will provide and look after them. A child can receive, whereas we adults tend to reason and apply logic. We are invited to go beyond that, into the realm of faith where we simply know we have a Father who loves to give us good gifts.
"Call on Me"
'Call to me and I will answer you. I'll tell you marvellous and wondrous things that you could never figure out on your own.' (Jeremiah 33:3 The Message)
What a tremendous promise. In this verse, I believe that Jeremiah is opening up a deep truth for us as we call out to our Father. Our cry is often 'Father, help!' and he will. But there is another cry we can have and that is 'Father, what do you want to say to me?' or 'What do you want to show me?'
When we ask the Father to show us something, we then need to pause and listen. We need to rest and wait, for it is in the stillness and quietness that he reveals the marvellous and wonderful things he wants to show us. Often these revelations come as a whisper, the still small voice speaking to our heart. I am finding that revelation is received slowly as it needs to find its home in our heart. A revelation received too quickly often finds a place in our mind which leads us to try and work out what it means, rather than letting the Spirit grow it within our heart.
The world has become quiet. Can I encourage you to listen to the voice of love which wants to take you to a deeper place of revelation. The Father longs to reveal his heart; for you and for the world around you. He wants to show you more of his nature and personality. He wants you to soak in his love and for your heart to be strengthened and encouraged. He wants to show you things that you could never work out on your own. May I encourage you, allow your heart to listen.
I am the True Vine
“I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. (John 15:1 NIV)
“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. (John 15:5 NIV)
As with last week's verse, Jesus is reminding us that we are connected to him, the source of life. There is life flowing through him into us but sadly some are unable to receive it. In a way, if we are unable to receive life then we are cut-off and separate to the source of life. Others who do receive life are pruned and therefore able to carry, or contain, more life.
The key word in this passage though is 'remain'. Seven times we are encouraged to remain. How easy it is to drift and wander away, back into our own independence and self-sufficiency, yet Jesus constantly says “remain". Remain in him, allow his word to remain in us and for us to remain in his love.
To me this speaks of rest, of being settled and content. It speaks of trust and dependency on someone greater than us. It’s a denial of self and a recognition that fruit does not come from our own effort but from remaining, or abiding, in him. In fact, Jesus says as we remain in him so the fruit we produce will be abundant and lasting. I think that’s something we have strived for but not yet fully seen. We have seen fruit but there are not that many of us that can say it was abundant or lasting.
There is a rest and contentment in him which surpasses our human understanding. It is the peace we find as we rest in him who is our Overcomer (John 16:33).
I am the Way, the Truth and the Life
Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you really know me, you will know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.” (John 14:6-7 NIV)
Here is another very well known saying that Jesus said of himself. He is the way. It’s such a familiar saying that we often forget to delve a little deeper to see what these words really mean. A pathway leads somewhere, the path is not usually the point of the journey, it’s the destination that is really important. Jesus doesn’t leave us in suspense, he tells us that the purpose of our journey is for us to come to the Father. How many of us see that as we read these verses?
Being the Way is not the only thing that Jesus says of himself. He is also the Truth. At the beginning of John's gospel we are told that Jesus, who came from the Father, was full of grace and truth. Absolute truth, as sure as two plus two equals (and always equals) four. Not a relative truth that is prevalent in the world today, where we each define truth according to our viewpoint. What Jesus says is true, correct, right - the only option. What then is the truth we are being told? Firstly, the purpose of Jesus' life is to take us to the Father so we know him as Jesus knows him. And secondly, the only way is through him, no other way, religion or means will get us anywhere near close to the Father. Every other way fails, the only way to the Father is through Jesus.
Finally Jesus tells us that he is the Life. As the eyes of our heart are opened to see the Father, as we have a revelation of who he is and so realise we are loved as Jesus is loved, we will discover life. The enemy comes to kill, steal and destroy but Jesus came that we would have life. Not just a taster, but the fullness of the abundant life in which Jesus himself lived. At the moment there is so much going on that is seeking to destroy our life but we are able to fix our eyes on him. He is our life.
Today I encourage you to let Jesus reveal the Father to you. As he does, you will discover the place that has been made for you in the Father's house.