Walk in the light
“You, God, are my God, earnestly I seek you; I thirst for you, my whole being longs for you, in a dry and parched land where there is no water.
I have seen you in the sanctuary and beheld your power and your glory. Because your love is better than life, my lips will glorify you.” Psalm 63:1-3
It was wonderful this week to hear from one of our community who, after spending time in the presence of God on Tuesday night, went home and had the best nights sleep she has had in a long time. More than that, she dreamt again! If you’ve never experienced a drought of dreams or difficulty sleeping; imagine walking out of the prayer meeting where the presence of God was sweet and precious, and then realising that the presence of God has gone with you, not just home but through the night. God is constantly wanting to spend time with us and to speak with us. As the hymn writer said: “waking or sleeping, thy presence my light”.
In this current new season in our lives both personally and corporately, His presence is essential. We see in David’s cry above, that His love is better than life itself and because of that he will earnestly seek his God. In any season but especially now, God is looking for a people that will earnestly and passionately seek His face and take time to rest in His presence.
As we start a new series in the life of our church, where we lean in to the apostle John and understand what it means to walk in the light; God’s desire is that we do this in His presence just as John did. John had the privilege of experiencing some of the greatest miracles and revelations of all the disciples; but they came about because he stayed close to Jesus, every day of his life. When Jesus was here on earth, John was found nearby; even when everyone else had deserted Him. After Jesus ascended, John stayed true to his call and continued to spend time in His presence through the Holy Spirit. His greatest and most expansive revelation came “On the Lord’s day I was in the Spirit…” Rev 1 v10
As a community, God is inviting us to rest in His presence and listen to His leading. Take time today to pause and rest in Him. With heart and ears wide open to His spirit.
1. In the busyness of your day, whether you are just starting it, or right in the middle of it; take a pause and rest in His presence. His presence is not bound by buildings, or groups of people. You can experience Him now, as you focus on Him and allow His Spirit to refresh you.
2. John is often represented as an eagle, because of his revelation and awareness of the divinity of Jesus. Let God bring revelation to your spirit today, ask for something fresh, something new for your heart to rejoice in.
Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” Matthew 4v4
“Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” Psalm 119v105
Yesterday we saw the importance of staying in God’s presence, constantly and consistently. The only place where we find life is in the presence of the one who is eternal life (1 John 1v2). As we rest in His presence we get to ask two important questions:
What does God want to say? And what does God want to do?
These are the two most vital questions for any moment of our lives but especially in this current new season. As a community, we get to lean in to God and listen to Him. In the same way that the Apostle John leant in and rested his head on Jesus’ chest, we get to do the same, and in doing do hear His heartbeat for us.
John had a unique insight into the words, ways and wonders of God. He not only lived and ministered with Jesus for 3 years, but he enjoyed a close relationship with Christ and along with Peter and James, privileged access to some of the more wondrous moments in Jesus’ time on earth. As John helped lead the early church throughout his life, he was able to draw upon his experiences and time with Christ; Jesus’ words and life empowered him as he lead the church through very confusing and difficult times.
Jesus said in Matthew 4 that God’s words were more vital to the human soul than bread is to the body. As a disciple of Jesus, John understood the importance of the word of God and the need to chew on it and digest every part. Remember, John stood with Peter when he said: “Simon Peter answered him, ‘Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.” (John 6v68) John, who lived the longest of all the apostles, had years of remembering Jesus’ words and meditating on every nuance in order to receive guidance for his life and the lives of those around him.
I want to be so close to Jesus that I don’t just hear His words from the bible, but that I feel His heartbeat for me. To allow His words to permeate my heart and soul and spirit to such a degree that they drown out any other sound and distraction. What does God want to say? Lean in and listen… it will be full of eternal life.
1.Lord, remove from me all distractions and interruptions. Rest my ear on your chest that I may hear your voice clearly and feel your heartbeat for my life. Saturate my soul with life and clarity.
2. Meditate on God’s word today, give Him space to speak to you. Take one of the scriptures from today and don’t move past it until you have squeezed every piece of spiritual nutrition from the bread of life.
“And what more shall I say? I do not have time to tell about Gideon, Barak, Samson and Jephthah, about David and Samuel and the prophets, who through faith conquered kingdoms, administered justice,….
…These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised, since God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect.” Hebrews 11 v 32-33, 39-40
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.” Hebrews 12 v 1-2
John the apostle found himself in a strange position. As the only living disciple, he had seen all of his friends and brothers killed at the hands of the Sanhedrin and the Roman Empire. He had watched as they all died, declaring the truth of who Jesus was, whilst forces pressed in on them from outside. In the end, just like the saints in Hebrews 11, they all died martyr’s deaths before they saw the full promise.
Now as John sits in Ephesus, at the heart of Greek multi-faith soceity, he finds that the threats to the early church are no longer just from outside. John hears from trusted brethren that believers from within the church have started to propagate distractions and misleading ideas about Jesus. False teachers were nothing new in Ephesus (read Paul’s instructions in 1 Timothy) however this was different. These people were once well-meaning believers that have allowed the truth of Jesus to be compromised and distorted to the point where John no longer recognises the Lord and Saviour that he knew.
The last couple of days we have seen the need to rely on both the presence of God and the words of Jesus. John understood this and whilst all this was unfolding with the potential to destroy the church, John enquired of God and did the only thing that he was able to do. He fixed his eyes on Jesus, the author, pioneer and architect of faith itself and the only one that would perfect, finish and complete his faith.
1 John 1 v 1-3 isn’t a nice, poetic opening to a letter, designed to grab attention. It is a passionate declaration that John remembers the presence and words of Jesus and the impact they had on his life. Jesus isn’t just a nice, prophetic leader of a religion. He is the resurrected Son of the Living God and He is my Lord!
1. Lord, forgive for any distortion of you that I have allowed in my life. Restore to me the clarity and majesty of the risen saviour. Fill me again with the knowledge of your love and make my joy complete in You
2. Meditate on 1 John 1 v 1-3. Allow God to remind you of Jesus and His voice and touch. Let that memory become your present reality again as you fix your eyes on Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of your faith.
”That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched – this we proclaim concerning the Word of life.” 1 John 1v1
“Who is the liar? It is whoever denies that Jesus is the Christ.” 1 John 2v22
What would you do? What would you say if people around you began to reduce your best friend, the one who was the saviour of the world to just another Rabbi or prophet? The book of 1 John is the Apostle’s response to members of the church, not outsiders, treating Jesus like He was just another teacher. Another voice in a multi-opinion world. The new teaching highlighted that Jesus was special and anointed but it took away the most important thing.
Jesus Christ was, is and is to come, the Son of Living God. Without this, Jesus had no authority, without this His words were just considered opinion, without this He was not worth dying for. John was not prepared to allow Jesus to be pushed aside from the centre of His church. John was not prepared to allow false testimony to rise up and take Jesus’ place of the throne. The calm, wise old beloved apostle was put to one side and the young Boanerges (Mark 3v17) rose up to lead the early church with both clarity and instructions in his latter years.
When I was younger, in my late teens, the christian band Delirious were starting to tour and get popular. This was a significant time, because I had made a decision to commit fully to Christ at university and this festival was the beginning of that journey for me. I’l never forget hearing their song: “I’m not ashamed of the gospel; I’m not ashamed of the one I love.”
This crystallised my resolve to follow Jesus come what may, and also the reason. I’m not a christian because I like the worldview, I’m not a follower of a religion or an ideology. I am a disciple of Jesus, because of Him. Because of the Son of God, coming and dying for my sins and then rising from the dead for all to see.
I have seen Him; I have heard His voice; I have felt His gentle touch on my heart. He is the Word of life.
1.Lord, resurrect in me passion for you. Lord set a fire that burns deep within but then bursts forth like thunder in glory to your name. Let me be like John and speak truth wherever there are lies about you; and to speak life wherever there is death.
2.Reflect on the times that you have felt or seen or heard Jesus. Don’t let distractions rob them from you. What is it that stole your heart for Him? What is undeniable for you in your testimony? Thank God for those times today and rest in His presence as you remember.
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” John 1v1-5
As we’ve seen over the last few days, John’s desire was for the church to place Jesus in the rightful place. Downgrading Him or reducing His authority was never an option for John. There is but one Son of God and his name is Jesus; He was with God in the beginning and through Him all things were made.
So as a 21st century church, do we think that we would ever do the same? We have access to more versions of the bible than John or the early church could have ever imagined. We have more teachers in the church today than they probably had church members. Would it ever be possible that we could downgrade or misrepresent Jesus from His position as Son of God.
I don’t believe we will ever do that, but we should be on guard against such teaching. But I think that we are in danger of the same outcomes that John feared. Think it through, whilst none of us would ever say that Jesus isn’t the Son of God, many of us in many different ways don’t treat Him as Lord.
There are areas of my life and I’m sure I’m not the only one, where Jesus’ words carry less weight than in others. There are some things that I am wholehearted about and yet there are others where I am half-hearted. Life brings its distractions, circumstances or busyness take over and before we realise, the throne of our life has become busy, crowded with all sorts of consuming factors. We wouldn’t ever remove Jesus as Lord; but He often gets drowned out by the voices of the other lords in our life.
John is reminding us that Jesus as the Living Son of God must have precedence in our lives. If He is God then He is Lord. Nothing else matters and nothing else should be able to distract us from trusting Him as Lord.
John’s final words in the letter are as apt now as ever before: “Dear children, keep away from anything that might take God’s place in your hearts.” 1 John 5v21 (NLT)
1. Jesus is Lord! Nothing will ever change that in this world, however He is a gentle, gracious Lord who gives us permissions to love Him or not love Him; to trust Him or not; to serve Him or not. Recommit your life today and place Jesus on the throne of your life, no equals, no distractions.
2. Reflect on the opening verses of the gospel of John. Jesus is the Word of life and that life is the light of all mankind. open your heart to allow the light of life to shine in and bring warmth and clarity to every area of your soul.
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