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Meditations Contents
Series Theme:   Walking with God Meditations

Part No. THREE

Meditation Title: Overview

Part ONE





Gen 3:8

In the Cool of the Evening


Gen 5:22,23

Daily Walking


Gen 16:7,8

Running Away


Gen 21:14

Wandering in the Desert


Gen 18:16

Walking in God's Classroom


Gen 22:6

The Walk of Death


Gen 37:15

Wandering before Upheaval


Ex 3:3

The Walk of Investigation


Ex 19:3

The Walk of Separation


Josh 1:3

The Walk of Ownership


Josh 5:13 ,14

The Walk of Assessment


Josh 6:15

The Walk of Victory


Ruth 1:1,2

Walking into Oblivion


1 Sam 1:2

The Walk of Heart-Ache


1 Sam 3:6

The Walk of Response to God


1 Sam 14:6

The Walk of Adventure


1 Sam 16:7

The Walk of Disclosure


1 Sam 17:45

The Walk of Confidence


1 Sam 20:1

The Walk of Confusion


1 Sam 24:4-6

The Walk of Rebellion


Part TWO


1 Sam 28:8

The Walk of Rebellion (2)


2 Sam 6:7

The Walk of Carelessness


2 Sam 6:14,15

The Walk of Joy


2 Sam 12:7

The Walk of Rebuke


2 Sam 18:33

The Walk of Grief


2 Sam 24:11,12

The Walk of Judgement


1 Kings 3:3

The Walk of Imperfection


1 Kings 3:14

Walking in the Ways of God


1 Kings 9:4

Walking in Integrity of Heart


1 Kings 10:1

The Walk of Investigation (2)


1 Kings 11:1

The Walk of Folly


1 Kings 11:38

The Walk of Potential


1 Kings 12:28 ,29

The Walk of Imitation


1 Kings 14:27 ,28

The Walk of Shame


1 Kings 15:26

Walking in the Sins of the Past


1 Kings 17:6

Walking in Unusual Provision


1 Kings 17:15 ,16

Walking in Miraculous Provision


1 Kings 18:43

The Walk of Anticipation


1 Kings 19:3,4

The Walk of Despair


Ezra 1:5

The Walk to Restoration



Neh 2:11,12

The Walk of Assessment (2)


Psa 23:4

The Walk in the valley of the shadow of death


Esther 4:12-14

The Walk of Faith Provocation


Esther 5:2

The Walk of Wisdom


Isa 30:21

The Walk of Security


Isa 35:8

Walking in the Way of Holiness


Isa 40:31

Walking without Fainting


Jer 6:16

Walking in the Ancient Ways


Dan 1:3

Walking into Triumphant Slavery


Dan 4:37

Walking in Humility


Matt 9:5,6

Walking Freed & Forgiven


Matt 14:29

Walking on Water


Lk 24:15

The Walk of Communion


2 Cor 6:16

Walking with God in the Midst


Col 3:7-10

Walking Renewed


1 Jn 1:7

Walking in the Light


1 Jn 2:6

Walking as Jesus did


2 Jn 1:6

Walking in Obedience


2 Jn 1:6

Walking in Love


3 Jn 1:3

Walking in the Truth





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Meditations Contents
Series Theme:   Walking with God Meditations

Meditation No. 1

Meditation Title: The Walk of Assessment (2)


Neh 2:11,12 I went to Jerusalem , and after staying there three days I set out during the night with a few men. I had not told anyone what my God had put in my heart to do for Jerusalem .


Earlier on in this series we considered a walk of assessment in the light of Joshua's encounter with the commander of the Lord's army, but the ‘assessment' that we now consider is very different. With Ezra's people we considered the significance of the restoration of the Temple , the place of encounter with God. Years have passed and another phase of restoration is in the Lord's mind, the restoration of the city of Jerusalem, or to be more precise, its walls.


When Nehemiah had heard of the state of Jerusalem he had felt anguish and had wept (Neh 1:4). Subsequently he prayed (Neh 1:5-11) and then petitioned the king (Neh 2:1-8) and gained his approval to return to Jerusalem to restore the city. The only problem was the presence in Samaria of Sanballat the governor and his Ammonite associate, Tobiah, who were opposed to the Jews returning and re-establishing themselves. They seem to have had a lot of say in what went on in this far flung tiny province of the empire. First of all he checks in with the ‘governors of Trans-Euphrates' (2:9), those in overall charge of the whole area, under whom he will work as governor of Judah. Next he makes his way to Jerusalem and, note, he has so far kept the true purpose of his arrival from anyone in the locality, because he is aware of the political setup and doesn't want to antagonise anyone and create opposition to his plan to rebuild the city walls.


After he has been there three days, he quietly goes out at night to survey the walls. So far he has shown no interest in them, but if he is to do anything about them he has to see the extent of the task. Initially this was a mounted ride but it appears that because of the rubble he probably had to dismount and it turns into a walk of assessment. Now what is significant about this particular walk, why are we considering it at all? Well the Temple was the sign of the permanent establishing of a place of encounter with God, but for there to be encounter and for there to be Temple service, there needs to be people. For there to be people there needs to be a community and for there to be a community there needs to be security – walls and gates! The significance of Nehemiah being there is that he is there to establish a secure community of God's people in the place of encounter with God. Walls also delineate the edge of the city and the beginning of the world outside. They establish the size and shape of the community. What Nehemiah is doing is assessing the present state of the security of the community so as to be able to formulate a strategy for restoring it. This is all about restoring and establishing the people of God. Yes, they have been there a number of years since Cyrus sent the first ones back to restore the Temple , but no one has taken the trouble of establishing the security of the community.


How can this possibly have any application to us in the twenty first century? Well the people of God, and that may include my own family, are still in a world where there is a spiritual war going on and where Satan seeks to deceive and pull down. There is still a question of security that is both individual and corporate. Ask the question first of all, “How secure am I?” Well first of all am I secure in the certainty of God's love for me? For I am convinced that (nothing!) will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord(Rom 8:38,39). Paul was so sure that with God being for us ( 8:31 ) then no one and nothing can snatch us out of God's hand. But there is another aspect to this. Remember Jesus told a parable of two house builders (Mt 7:24 -27), the point of which is that you will only stand firm if you obey and do what Jesus says. Oh yes, God will do everything to protect us and make us secure, but our role is to obey all that Jesus says to us through his word and his Spirit.


How about my family? What do we do to ensure they know the Lord and are secure in Him? This is about teaching our children the truths of God's word, being an example for them, encouraging them into the life of the church where they can encounter that living truth? What about our church? Are we a Bible-based, Spirit-led community of God's people? It is only as we are fed with the word of God and allow the Holy Spirit to lead us and fill us, will we be secure in God. Are we the community of love that Jesus commanded (Jn 13:34 etc.)? Is there such a bond of love between us that it builds us together so that we are secure? If it is so, if one member is attacked the others will be there for them.


Part of our walk with God is to be a walk of awareness – a walk aware of the enemy, our vulnerability and our resources in Christ. But a part of our walk is to be a walk of assessment, to ‘check the walls of security' to ensure we are doing all we can to be established and secure in Him. Have you walked that walk of assessment recently, have you checked yourself out, you family and your church? Check it out.





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Series Theme:  Walking with God Meditations


Meditation No. 2

Meditation Title: The Walk in the Shadow of Death


Psa 23:3   Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me;


Life in this Fallen World is a complete mix. There are mixes of people. There are some who are incredibly rich and have everything the rest of us could dream of. There are some who are poor and don't know how they will make it from one day to the next. But there are also varieties of experience within an individual life. There are times when we are healthy and everything seems to be going well, times when we are happy and contented with not a worry in the world. Then there are times when our health deteriorates and we feel low and every step of life seems hard and difficult. And then it gets worse and before we know it we are walking in the shadow of death. Illnesses and accidents occur and what makes it worse, they come with no warning. It would be so much easier if we received a letter from heaven that said, “In two weeks time we have seen that you will be having a serious accident but don't worry you will be over it in a month.” But we don't and so we didn't expect it and we don't know how it will work out or how long it will take. The absence of those things makes serious illnesses or serious accidents such harrowing experiences. The walk through the valley of the shadow of death is not a pleasant one!


The description of this experience that we have just used, and which David uses in this psalm, is very graphic. A valley by definition is a low place with high sides where you can feel shut in. In a valley sometimes the sun is shut out and so there are shadows so that part of it seems in semi-darkness. David speaks of the shadow of death, a shadow of darkness that seems to hang over you, threatening to completely obliterate the light from your life, when death comes.


You may find in your Bible a note next to the phrase, valley of death , indicating an alternative rendering, through the darkest valley . It may not be death that threatens; it may be a variety of other things. In our nation we live in confusing times. The news recently was of a couple who were falsely accused of child abuse and for two years their children were wrongly taken from them. For two years they walked through a very dark valley, a valley filled with the darkness of frustration, anger, fear, anguish and so on. It was a horrible time. A woman can accuse a man of assault at work and before he knows what has happened he is suspended pending an investigation which may take months. Whereas we once had a society where you were innocent until proved guilty, there is now, in these sorts of cases, implied guilt until innocence has been proved, and those waiting times are times of immense darkness.


It may be that we have fallen and society is not forgiving. We have done something wrong, sincerely regretted it, asked forgiveness of offended parties, but still the Law is going to take its long, slow process, and while it does, we walk through a very dark valley. We wonder how we could have been so stupid, we wish it had never been found it, we wonder what will happen to us, and we wonder is there any hope of being ever able to walk an ordinary, good life again? These are some of the dark valleys that we find ourselves walking in, and in them we even despair of life itself. What help is there?


David had one hope, one help, you are with me.” The presence of the Lord, the knowledge of His love, those were the things that kept David going. The concept behind the whole psalm was what upheld David – The Lord is my shepherd . David saw that in life, it was the Lord who led him and therefore if, in their walk together, it involved walking through a very dark valley, David would not worry because his shepherd was there looking after him, guiding him, providing for him, protecting him. As one of God's sheep he knew the security that, although the place or circumstances of the walk may be temporarily dark, it was temporary and even while they walked it, it was as they walked it together. He was not alone and the One who walked it with him was much bigger than the circumstances and would see him through them.


Because such a thing is so common to the human experience, it is quite possible that you are going through a ‘dark valley' time. Key questions! Do you know that you are one of God's sheep, one of His children? Do you know Him as your shepherd who is there for you, looking after you in the midst of the circumstances, providing for you and protecting you? It is this knowledge that enabled Paul to instruct, give thanks in all circumstances (1 Thess 5:18 ), but note what he says. It is not give thanks for all circumstances but give thanks in all circumstances. You can give thanks that God is there with you and as you put your life in His hands He will provide all you need in that valley to bring you through until you come out the other end. There will be an end, and until you get there, remember, you are not alone, The Shepherd is there with you in it.






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Series Theme:  Walking with God Meditations

Meditation No. 3

Meditation Title: The Walk of Faith Provocation


Esther 4:12-14 When Esther's words were reported to Mordecai, he sent back this answer: "Do not think that because you are in the king's house you alone of all the Jews will escape. For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father's family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to royal position for such a time as this?"


Left to ourselves we would potter through life untouched by anything that would upset the balance of peace in our lives. It is always nicer to walk the quieter path in life that avoids disturbance of any kind. ‘Leave me alone', would be our motto if we had our way. However, over the years I have often said that God loves us just like we are and He loves us so much that He won't leave us like we are – because He has something better for us than we have at present. Thus He is in the process of changing us (2 Cor 3:18 ). When we understand what the Bible is, we read, All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness.” (2 Tim 3:16) which suggests that every time we come to it with open hearts, it teaches us and possibly rebukes and corrects us. Of course it is the Holy Spirit within us who takes it and uses it to convict us so that we do something to change. Thus it is as Christians that we are never left to simply live a placid, untouched life, never changing, never being disturbed, because all of these processes we've just referred to, disturb us.


Our verses today from the book of Esther come at a point in history when the Jews were in exile and one of them, Esther, has been made queen, and she has an uncle, Mordecai. One of the king's counsellors, Haman, hates the Jews and has got the king to foolishly make a decree that later in the year all the Jews will be destroyed. (The king has forgotten or does not know that Esther is a Jew!) Mordecai's response to this edict was to put on sackcloth and ashes and to fast and pray in the streets as a public demonstration against what had happened. Esther is told what he is doing and so sends clothes out to him – which he refuses to take. Eventually Esther is told about the edict but her response is basically, ‘so what can I do about it?' She has a legitimate cause for saying this: All the king's officials and the people of the royal provinces know that for any man or woman who approaches the king in the inner court without being summoned the king has but one law: that he be put to death. The only exception to this is for the king to extend the gold scepter to him and spare his life. But thirty days have passed since I was called to go to the king.” (Es 4:11). In other words, unless I get called in, I can't go, otherwise the king in his anger might have me executed!


It is at that point we have our verses for today. Mordecai is walking the path of faith provocation and Esther is on the end of it. What is Mordecai saying? He is saying, you won't avoid this disaster by staying quiet, you're going to have to risk it, for who knows, this may be the very reason that God has allowed you to be king. Mordecai is challenging Esther's preference for peace, and her desire not to be disturbed, which brings us back to what we were saying earlier about our own desire for peace and tranquility. He is challenging her to come into a place of faith. If we had been Esther, we too would have preferred to keep quiet and hope it would work out all right without our intervention. Perhaps someone else will do something might be our hope. That, so often, is our escape clause, or at least the one we use – perhaps someone else will step in and do something, it doesn't need me.


The only trouble is that it does need you. Someone has said something like, “Evil men prevail only when good men stay quiet.” We are called to be salt and light in our world (Mt 5:13 -16) and we do that passively (living by example) and actively (by speaking out). It's not one or the other; it's both. Esther's fears were laid down as she said she would do it, but only if Mordecai and the other Jews would fast and, by implication, pray for her. Very often we stay quiet because we fear an outcome and so we would do well to follow Esther's example and pray about it AND , if it is possible, get others to pray about it as well. We need to seek wisdom from God to know what to say, how to say it and when to say it, and we can also ask the Lord to prepare the heart of the one to whom we go to speak. It may be something at home, at school or college, at work or in the community. We know the right thing would be to speak out, yet fear of consequence stops us. If that is so, check it out. Like Esther, this may be your time, the time appointed by God and you are the one chosen by Him to bring change. Seek Him for wisdom, seek others who will pray with and for you. For such a time as this?”






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Meditation No. 4

Meditation Title: The Walk of Wisdom


Esther 5:2 When he saw Queen Esther standing in the court, he was pleased with her and held out to her the gold scepter that was in his hand. So Esther approached and touched the tip of the scepter.


Yesterday we considered the walk of provocation of faith, of Mordecai nudging Esther to speak out, even in a potentially dangerous situation. We also suggested that we too need nudging to step out in faith, but stepping out in faith is not sufficient on its own, we need something else to go with it, so often, because faith is just the starting point of action. It took faith, a belief in God's leading, to help Esther step out and go to seek the king, but once there that's when the difficulties start. Esther needs wisdom, she needs to know how to act, what to do and what to say. To catch the full import of this, let's look at her situation.


The first thing about her situation is that she is married to a king who is incredibly powerful, is known to act hastily and without thought, is self-centred and doesn't give too much thought to his wife. Now how can we say all this? Well the opening verses of Esther tell us about his might and power, ruler over 127 provinces and having a banquet lasting seven days. At that banquet he had got drunk and boasted about his queen who he casually sent for to show her off. When she refused to come to such a bidding, he allowed his wise men to persuade him to get rid of the queen. It was after this that Esther was made queen. Later on the king had honoured Haman the Agagite (Agagites, descendants of king Agag – see 1 Sam 15 – were traditionally enemies of Israel) and given him a great deal of power. Moreover, just recently the king had not asked for Esther for thirty days, and this was not a king you just turned up on. So, going into his presence without an invite was definitely a hazardous exercise!


If going into his presence wasn't bad enough, knowing how to broach the subject of the Jews in front of Haman was doubly so. This was definitely going to have to be a walk of wisdom. There are many times in life when we need this knowledge of ‘how-to', in fact I think it is the thing we need more than anything else. The good news is that God is very willing to give us wisdom when we ask for it: If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.” (Jas 1:5). However there is a condition to asking, But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.” (v.6). In other words, there is no point asking unless you really believe God is there, that He is for you and will do what His word says.


So what does Esther do? First of all she dresses up in her royal robes (Es 5:1). If she's going into a formal throne room, she needs to be dressed up accordingly. Do you want to impress the world? Well, after you have prayed, dress up to their level. The king welcomes her in (v.2) and asks her what she wants. Obviously the fact that she has come without invitation means she has something on her mind that she wants to communicate. It is at this point she needs tact. She's asked for wisdom and she gets it. She knows the kind likes his food and likes ‘big events' so she invites him, together with Haman to a special banquet she wants to put on for him. This makes him feel good. At this special intimate banquet again the king asks her what is on her mind. Still she senses the time is not yet ripe for speaking of the edict. She simply asks the king to extend his grace by coming the next day again to a special banquet. He's enjoyed this one, so why not. Again he turns up next day and again he anticipates it will be a good experience, but in between the two banquets two things have happened. First, Haman has shown his hand by having a gallows built and has been speaking about having Mordecai hanged on it. The second thing is that the king slept badly and, waking in the night, he feels he needs picking up, and so sends for the books that record what has happened during his reign. There he reads of Mordecai's saving his life earlier in his reign and realizes he hasn't rewarded him. Thus next day when he comes to the banquet he comes feeling good towards Esther and towards Mordecai. Thus it is that the circumstances have so changed and we are left wondering how much of this has been of the Lord. So it is that when Esther does share the situation the king is open to her and responds well. This has been one of the classic examples of the exercise of wisdom.


What have we seen? We have seen Esther gaining prayer support, choosing her way of entry carefully, being in no rush to present her petition, doing things that will win over the king's heart and giving God space to move to make the circumstances even more favourable. Consider your own life. Do you walk a walk of wisdom, seeking the Lord and getting from Him the knowledge how to proceed through life? The request for wisdom is a request that the wise make regularly. Do you?







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Meditation No. 5

Meditation Title: The Walk of Security


Isa 30:21 Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, "This is the way; walk in it."


The whole subject of guidance is one that perplexes many Christians yet, even as our verse above indicates, it is surprisingly easy. We really need to see this verse in the wider context of the chapter in which it appears. As is obvious, it is part of a prophecy. The chapter starts off with a chiding: Woe to the obstinate children," declares the LORD, "to those who carry out plans that are not mine, forming an alliance, but not by my Spirit, heaping sin upon sin; who go down to Egypt without consulting me.” (v.1,2) The first thing to note about guidance is that the Lord expects His children to follow Him and listen to Him, and not go off to others for their wisdom. Israel had turned in their time of need to Egypt , and not to the Lord. It is sad to hear of Christians going off to secular counselors and others providing guidance, instead of going to the God-appointed leaders that He raises us for His people.


A bit later the prophecy continues: They say to the seers, "See no more visions!" and to the prophets, "Give us no more visions of what is right! Tell us pleasant things, Prophesy illusions.” (v.10) The full extent of this rejection is seen and its reason. They were saying to those who brought God's word, we don't want to hear it anymore. How hungry to hear God's word are God's people today? This is a primary means of God speaking. But Israel didn't want to hear because the words that were coming were corrective. God's word has to be corrective when His people have strayed. No, tell us nice things, was what they were saying. Isn't that sometimes how it is today: entertain us, tell us nice stories, don't upset us with correction. See what next follows in this prophecy: Leave this way, get off this path, and stop confronting us with the Holy One of Israel!" (v.11). “We want a peaceful walk with God, so stop putting the Lord and His word in front of us.” Do you see this? They were saying, we want a form of religion but we don't want the Lord to continually upset us. That is part of the deception that comes when we stray from the right path. We move into a path that is counterfeit or deception, where the Lord no longer is, and we do that because we have a wrong view of the Lord.


Do you remember the parable of the talents that Jesus told (Mt 25:14-30) where the master gave out 5, 2 and 1 talent to three servants and the men with 5 and 2 doubled it but the man with 1 hid it away because ‘I knew that you are a hard man' (v.24)? It's really a parable all about relationship or freedom of spirit. The man with 5 talents knew his master and had freedom in his spirit to be able to reach out, risk it and make five more. The man with 1 talent was fearful and unable to move in faith and so was eventually cast out of the kingdom. Faith is expected in God's kingdom and that faith comes out of relationship with the loving, compassionate, all-powerful God who we worship.


Where there is this fear because of absence of relationship then comes this clear instruction: In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength (v.15). We need to come in repentance back into a place of peace where we trust the Lord for all of our lives. Trusting in God is at the heart of the walk that He intends for us to have as His children saved by the work of Jesus.


Despite this, Israel still wanted to run away, yet the grace and mercy of God was still there: Yet the LORD longs to be gracious to you; he rises to show you compassion .” (v.18) and How gracious he will be when you cry for help! As soon as he hears, he will answer you.” (v.19) Despite our folly, He is there, waiting for us to turn to Him and as soon as we do, He answers. When we come back into this place with Him, then Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, "This is the way; walk in it.” That is the amazing simplicity of the walk with the Lord. It is also a walk of security because as soon as we stray off the right path planned by God, we'll hear a gentle voice just behind us saying, no, back here, this way.


So how does it work? We've referred to it in the previous meditations. This straying off the path that is being referred to here is not a willful turning away but a casual, perhaps careless, wandering off. We are still seeking the Lord, we still intend to have a living relationship with Him and so we'll still be reading His word, we'll still be praying, we'll still be worshipping and we'll still be fellowshipping. Through each of these things the Lord can communicate His gentle correction. Over and above each of these we may have that general sense that all is not well. We refer to it as a disquiet. Something is not quite right, and we check ourselves out with Him and find we've strayed off the planned path. But it may be as we read His word that something stands out which suggests to us that we need to make an adjustment to our lives. As we pray or worship we may catch a sense that all is not quite right. As we fellowship with others, someone may say something that challenges us. In each of these ways it is the quiet voice of the Lord coming to say , “This is the way; walk in it.” It sounds simple doesn't it, and it is when our heart is inclined towards Him and our ears are open to Him. Those are the criteria for guidance. It's a heart thing, not a technique thing. If your heart is all for God, then guidance is easy. If it's not, then it's hard and confusing. Check out your heart.







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Meditation No. 6

Meditation Title: Walking in the Way of Holiness


Isa 35:8 And a highway will be there; it will be called the Way of Holiness. The unclean will not journey on it; it will be for those who walk in that Way; wicked fools will not go about on it.


If there is one word that seems to make Christians feel unsettled it is the word ‘holiness', or even perhaps, ‘holy'. Holiness is, of course, the state of being holy. Sometimes you may hear a Christian saying, “Oh, don't call me holy, I'm just an ordinary Christian.” Well actually holiness is the state of every Christian, ordinary or not. Holy is a descriptive word, e.g. Holy Spirit, holy place, holy people, holy ground, and it means whole or complete, perfect, pure as of God, from God.


The first thing we are to note is that God is holy – whole, complete, perfect, pure. I am the LORD your God; consecrate yourselves and be holy, because I am holy. Do not make yourselves unclean…... I am the LORD who brought you up out of Egypt to be your God; therefore be holy, because I am holy.” (Lev 11:44,45). What then follows is that everything that touches God is either destroyed or becomes holy. We've considered Moses at the burning bush previously: Do not come any closer," God said. "Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy ground.” (Ex 3:5) Because God was there, the ground was holy. There was also a sense that because it was holy it was set apart to God: For seven days make atonement for the altar and consecrate it. Then the altar will be most holy, and whatever touches it will be holy.” (Ex 29:37) It was as if God took the altar for His use and therefore anything that touched it would similarly be set apart as for Him. It was as if, because His Presence was holy, whatever encountered that Presence took it on and thus became holy. To use a material analogy, a cloud is made up of water droplets. If you encounter a cloud you become wet. Thus it is the cloud is like God's Holy Presence. If you touch Him you become holy.


But, we said earlier, if you touch Him you either die or are made holy. When Israel first really encountered the Lord at Sinai, this sense was conveyed to them: And the LORD said to Moses, "Go to the people and consecrate them today and tomorrow. Have them wash their clothes and be ready by the third day, because on that day the LORD will come down on Mount Sinai in the sight of all the people. Put limits for the people around the mountain and tell them, `Be careful that you do not go up the mountain or touch the foot of it. Whoever touches the mountain shall surely be put to death.” (Ex 19:10 -12) Thus the people had a) to cleanse themselves even to come near the mountain where God was making His presence known and b) they were not even to touch the mountain otherwise they would die.


So if this is true, how can we possibly encounter God, how can we possibly become holy; why aren't we destroyed? The answer is because Jesus has died to take all of our sin, all of our imperfection, all of our impurity so, as far as God is concerned, when we have surrendered to Him and received the work of Christ on the Cross, we are pure vessels in which His Holy Spirit can abide. That of course is what happens when we become Christians, He places His own Holy Spirit with in us: Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God?” (1 Cor 6:19 ). So it is we come to the Old Testament prophecy from Isaiah that tells us about a Way of Holiness , a walk of holiness, which is what every Christian walks. Now there are two aspects of this to note.


First we ARE holy because God has made us so. he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight.” (Eph 1:4) And Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless.” (Eph 5:25-27) so Paul could write to the holy and faithful brothers in Christ at Colosse ( Col 1:2). So first we ARE holy, because that is the STATE we are in because God has made us so.


But there is a second aspect: we are to behave or act or live in a holy manner as befits holy people. This is us exercising our free will to conform our daily lives to what he has made us : “Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.” (Col 3:12). Paul gives a big list of expressions of the Christian life that are expressions of holiness. As he said to the Thessalonians, For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life (1 Thess 4:7). Peter takes us round the full circle: But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: " Be holy, because I am holy.” (1 Pet 1:15,16).


So here we are, walking with God and because it is with God it is a Way of Holiness. It may be that in the light of this, you may want to check out some of your attitudes or actions which may not quite fit the description.






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Meditation No. 7

Meditation Title: Walking Without Fainting


Isa 40:31 those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.


In the Western world of the twenty first century, tiredness is a very common complaint, because tiredness comes with busyness and with stress and there is plenty of both. Over the last twenty or thirty years, it seems, the pace of life has built up and so, whether it is parents rushing around taking their children to activities every evening, or simply the pressures of work, the level of tiredness in many people, including Christians seems to have increased considerably. The walk through life for many seems to have become a run and doing that all the time is exhausting. For a number, this claim to exhaustion is the reason why their level of participation in church life has fallen. And therein is a trap. Instead of going to the place where there should be refreshment and restoration they stay at home because, “I'm too tired to go out” and so they remain tired out and isolated. It should not be.


A little earlier in this prophecy from Isaiah, he has been comparing God with the idols people make. God is so much bigger and all-powerful, in contrast to idols that are small, hand-made and can do nothing. Eventually he comes to a complaint of the people: Why do you say, O Jacob, and complain, O Israel, "My way is hidden from the LORD; my cause is disregarded by my God"?” (v.27). That is the subtle cry which is thought, but rarely voiced, by the wearied people of the twenty first century. What they think is, I'm tired out. Why doesn't God turn up and do something for me? Is He too busy and too tired to bother with me? Isaiah's response to this is: The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom (v.28) i.e. God is so big that He doesn't get tired and His understanding is so great that you won't be able to work out what He's doing.


Oh no, he continues, He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak” (v.29). No, God doesn't suffer from tiredness; in fact He helps those who are tired. Oh yes, he goes on, Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall;” i.e. even those you would think would have sufficient energy are prone to getting tired out. It is part of the human condition, is what he implies. Then he comes to our verse today: but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength”. Notice the ‘but' which we didn't include at the top. ‘But' always shows an alternative. The human condition, he has been saying, is prone to tiredness but, in sharp contrast, those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength and will walk a strong walk where they will not faint.


We need to examine this more fully. Older version talk about ‘waiting' on the Lord rather than ‘hoping', but both speak about a future thing. When you are waiting on God you are in expectation that sometime He is going to turn up with what you need. When you hope for something, you are in expectation of something in the future. What Isaiah is describing here is an attitude or complete way of thinking. This isn't something that someone just does occasionally, this is a constant way of thinking. Trusting in God for our resources is the way of the Christian.


The Hebrew word for ‘renew' is a word that is used elsewhere to mean ‘exchange' or ‘change' as in changing clothes. So, those who trust in God, that He will turn up and provide the necessary resources (“Give us our daily bread” – Mt 6:11 ) will find that God gives them strength in exchange for their tiredness. The crucial words, I believe, are Those who hope in the Lord.” If you have not set your heart on God, if you have not turned your hopes and expectations on Him, you are not going to receive His resources. To use a simple human analogy, if someone holds out a gift for you, you cannot receive it if you are pointing away from them. Even more if you have your mind full of other things and are not expecting them to provide something for you, you may be completely oblivious to their words and their outstretched hand offering you something. No wonder you don't receive it!


We recently mentioned the ‘hard man mentality' of Jesus' parable of the talents. Not only do many Christians not expect God to provide for them, they expect any provision that might come their way to be ‘hard', to require much effort to receive, but Isaiah's picture is quite the opposite. Look at the picture that he gives – of eagles soaring. There is no great effort in that; it is something an eagle does. It has wings made to enable it to soar and catch the thermal currents. All it has to do is put its wings out and go with the current, almost effortlessly. Surely there is a picture implied here of the Christian's life in the Spirit – catching the flow of the Spirit and flowing with Him. When He leads, when He provides, it is effortless and we are not exhausted. Indeed as we soar it is a joyful thing, a thing that refreshes us. We are restored even as we fly, because this is the way He has designed it to be. Set you heart on Him, know His love and His provision, be restored and fly!







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Meditation No. 8

Meditation Title:


Meditations on the “Walking with God”: 8 : Walking in the Ancient Ways


Jer 6:16 This is what the LORD says: "Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls.


We live in a day when ‘new' is expected. We have new houses, new offices, new technology, new clothes different from last season's, new records, new music, new films, new TV programmes. Politicians come up with new policies, planners come up with new schemes and managers come up with new strategies. We tend to be constantly looking forwards to the future. The past is consigned to history and we sometimes despise the past because we now know more than we did then. Science, technology and learning all tell us the same thing: we know more today that we did yesterday, so today is better than yesterday. Which is a bit difficult when we come to today's verse where the Lord tells us to look for the ancient paths.


In the bulk of this chapter, the Lord is chiding Judah and especially Jerusalem for their unfaithfulness. Jeremiah was the last major prophet before the Exile and the destruction of Jerusalem. Thus he was constantly warning Judah and Benjamin, the two remaining tribes, to return to the Lord. In verse 13 we find: From the least to the greatest, all are greedy for gain; prophets and priests alike, all practice deceit.” i.e. those who were supposed to be spiritual leaders were only concerned for themselves and were doing nothing to bring the people back to God. The result was that the people were far from the Lord even though they had a form of religion. Because they had the Temple in Jerusalem they thought they were secure (Jer 7:4). The Temple was supposed to be God's dwelling place on earth and they assumed that if that was so, they would be safe – despite whatever lifestyles they followed. Today in parts of the church we have those who hold a form of religion but who deny the power of it (2 Tim 3:5). We have people, leaders, who hardly give any credence to the Bible, the word of God, and because of this they allow, permit or even encourage people who live lifestyles that are far from the holy, pure lives portrayed as for Christians in the Bible. In a variety of ways, their religion is far from that revealed by Jesus. It is in the face of this that Jeremiah's word comes.


Stand at the crossroads and look. Israel were at a crossroads with God. He had been calling and calling and calling to them to return to Him. Now they were at the crossroads of history. They could either return to the Lord in repentance and be restored, or they could go ahead, continuing to live godless lives that had a form of religion, and be destroyed. The choice was theirs, and they chose the latter course and so Jerusalem was destroyed and they went into exile. So Jeremiah's word comes to them. It is a graphic picture of a traveller who comes to a crossroad and has to ask the way. They didn't realise their predicament so he brings this word: imagine yourselves at a cross road (for they were!) and ask where the good way is. The implication from this is that every path is NOT a good way. They may think they are on a good path, a secure path, but there is only one path that is good, one that is secure. It is the ancient path. If they had known the Scriptures that they had, if they had received the teaching of the Torah, they would have known the word that Moses spoke: Remember the days of old; consider the generations long past. Ask your father and he will tell you, your elders, and they will explain to you.” (Deut 32:7). In that passage in Deuteronomy, Moses reminded them of their past, their deliverance out of Egypt , and their encounter with God at Sinai where there were constituted a holy nation.


What were the ancient paths ? They were the walk with God that came about by God's deliverance and involved God leading His people from now on as a holy people. The ancient paths have not changed, just the means of getting onto the path, though in reality it has always been the same. The means of getting onto this path is Jesus. He alone is the Way (Jn 14:6). Nothing has changed. There is no other way of getting onto the good path. And once on it? Again, nothing has changed. There are only two criteria: obedience to the word of God, the Scriptures, and to the leading of the Holy Spirit. If we reject either, we have strayed off the path and are on a byway to destruction. The ancient path is salvation through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ and the walk we have with God through him.


We considered yesterday the tiredness that assails so many today. Here again we are told that if you walk this walk you will receive rest for your souls. Any other path is tiring and wearisome. This path is a path of peace and restoration and provides a rest for that which is deep within us. On any other path there is a deep disquiet which many assume is just a natural part of life, but the truth is that we can have rest in our souls, rest and peace and tranquility deep within us, as we walk the walk of the ancient paths. This is His way, and it must be ours. Don't accept any counterfeits.








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Meditation No. 9

Meditation Title: Walking in Triumphant Slavery


Dan 1:3 Then the king ordered Ashpenaz, chief of his court officials, to bring in some of the Israelites from the royal family and the nobility


“Everything that glitters is not gold” is a simple proverb that we sometimes use to suggest you need to look at things more carefully, otherwise you might be deceived. There are a number of similar proverbs or sayings about ‘seeing'. Another one would be, “Every picture tells a story.” Now we say this because at first sight, our verse today looks uninteresting, if not depressing if you know its context. If you don't, it will be meaningless. The two verses before it give us the context. Nebuchadnezzar had taken Jerusalem and carried off most of the people. Up to this point that is all the information we have to play with. In the verses that immediately follow we find that the king was giving orders that the top people who had been taken were to be indoctrinated (brainwashed we might say) into the ways of this land.


Perhaps the nearest we could get to this would be to think of us living in England, and Europe being at war with Russia, say, and Russia overruns England and takes many of us to Russia and we're told, “Now you will become Russians in every way possible.” In the case of our verse above, one of the young men taken happens to go by the name of Daniel. If we had been an alien watcher at that time, observing all that was happening, we might feel sorry for these Israelites and have no particular feelings for Daniel, who just appears one among many. That is where we would be wrong, because it would only be when we watched until the end of Daniel's life that we would realise his significance. Observing the history of that time from above, we might note that God has three men on the ground in the midst of all the tumult, rather like modern day reporters reporting on different aspects of what was happening, except they are reporting God's viewpoint! From Israel 's point of view this is a totally disastrous time when the nation is apparently being destroyed and taken into captivity. From Babylon 's point of view it is a great time of triumph and of world domination. From God's point of view it is just another stage in His plan for His people and there is lots more to happen yet.


If this was a stage play, the opening of it might be these Israelite slaves coming on stage, beaten down and miserable, and we might think that they are just background players to the main theme of the play – but they're not, they're main players. Back in Jerusalem God has Jeremiah prophesying, over by the Kebar river in Babylonia , God has Ezekiel prophesying to the ordinary captives (Ezek 1:1). Here in the main city, the Lord is lining up Daniel to be His main voice to this mighty people with a mighty king. This meditation is slightly different from usual in that there is no reference to a walk, but I am using the idea of walking through life with God in this passage about Daniel. From these Israelites' point of view their walk with God seems to have come to an end. They are about to be indoctrinated to lose their Israelite identity and become Babylonians. The other thing about this meditation is that to get the full impact of it you are going to have to read the first six chapters of Daniel. If you do that you will see the following.


First you will see Daniel determining not to lose his identity and with three friends he gets the wisdom as to how to achieve that (1:8-20), and comes out of the process ten times better than the rest. Determining not to get sucked into the world's way is a necessary starting point (1 Jn 2:15-17). In chapter 2 Nebuchadnezzar starts having dreams and only Daniel is able to interpret them. For this Nebuchadnezzar promotes him ( 2:48 ). In chapter four God gives the king more dreams, Daniel interprets them and the king goes into a period of insanity. When he was restored he worshipped God. The next king, Belshazzar, (chapter 5) sees writing appearing on the wall and only Daniel can read it, a judgement on the king. The next king, Darius, promoted Daniel which upset some of the other leaders (chapter 6) and Daniel had to pass through the lions' den before he was triumphant and God was glorified. Daniel was still there when Cyrus became king ( 6:28 ) and although it is not stated, it is likely that Daniel was the cause of Cyrus sending the Jews back to Jerusalem (Ezra 1:1). The story of Daniel is amazing. It is a walk of faith and of obedience to God and it is also a walk of amazing triumph. Daniel walked in integrity in the midst of that pagan world and prophesied to at least 3 if not 4 pagan kings, determining their future and probably the future of Israel .


You may feel you walk in the midst of a pagan world. How do you view that? Do you feel despondent about all you see and hear around you, or do you view it as an opportunity to be salt and a light for God in it. Our tendency might be to withdraw from the world and isolate ourselves. That wasn't Jesus' way and it shouldn't be ours. Daniel shows us that, as we remain faithful to God, we can be God's mouthpiece to this world. His walk through that pagan world was a walk of triumph, even if he was still a slave in an alien land. Locked into that world, he may have been, but with God, the world ended up bowing to him. Amazing! May it be so for us too!









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Meditation No. 10

Meditation Title: Walking in Humility


Dan 4:37 Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and exalt and glorify the King of heaven, because everything he does is right and all his ways are just. And those who walk in pride he is able to humble.


We mentioned Nebuchadnezzar in passing yesterday. He was a mighty and powerful king, but the problem with such men is that they are prone to pride. The problem with pride is that it is a false and an unrealistic assessment of self that elevates a person in their thinking beyond what they really are. Nebuchadnezzar had a statue made of himself, ninety foot high (Dan 3:1) and required all his subjects to bow down before it and worship it. This was an indication of the depth that the folly of pride will lead us into. God doesn't accept competitors because, in reality, there is no competition. Men sometimes have to be brought to their senses for the good of everyone else, so God gave Nebuchadnezzar worrying dreams. Daniel interpreted these dreams and warned the king   that he would be driven out to live with the animals unless he repented of his sin.


Of course he didn't and so twelve months later (Dan 4:29 ) Nebuchadnezzar lost his sanity just as he was boasting of his greatness. Having lost all his authority he was driven out of the palace and lived as a wild animal until eventually the Lord gave him back his sanity, at which point he praised and worshipped the Lord. What was the purpose of all this? To restore Nebuchadnezzar's sense of perspective: You will be driven away from people and will live with the wild animals; you will eat grass like cattle. Seven times will pass by for you until you acknowledge that the Most High is sovereign over the kingdoms of men and gives them to anyone he wishes.” (Dan 4:32). Nebuchadnezzar thought he was the great ruler of the earth, but that was pride, that was a false and an unrealistic assessment of who he was. Oh no, he had to learn that God is the supreme ruler of the earth.


Micah prophesied , “He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” (Mic 6:8). That is the call to the occupants of this earth, to walk humbly with God. Humility is the exact opposite of pride. It is a right and realistic assessment of self that helps us have a submissive attitude towards God. Humility comes when we realise what we are like and the help we really need in life, from God.


The whole of the Christian faith is built on this. Jesus said of himself, I am gentle and humble in heart” (Mt 11:29 ). Jesus was humble because he knew who he was, and he knew his Father in heaven. That right perspective made him able to say, I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing.” (Jn 5:19). The process of being brought to humility is called humiliation: So I have caused you to be despised and humiliated before all the people, because you have not followed my ways but have shown partiality in matters of the law.” (Mal 2:9) Note the similarity in the two words. When we are humiliated we are brought down to a place of right assessment about ourselves, we are humbled.


To come to Christ we have to be humiliated, we have to be brought down to a place of right assessment of ourselves where we see that we are lost in sin and condemned for eternity and need Christ's saving work. You cannot be a Christian until you come to this place of humility, surrendering your life to God and receiving His way of salvation through the death of Jesus on the Cross at Calvary . If you still think, like Nebuchadnezzar, that you are great and self-sufficient, you will never come to God and can never receive His salvation. Being born again (Jn 3:3) is an act of God (Jn 1:12 ,13) that occurs only when we come to Him in total humility accepting the truth about ourselves – we are lost and helpless and hopeless unless He saves us.


James wrote, Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show it by his good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom.” (Jas 3:13). Wisdom here is insight as to who we are and what we are and recognizes our need of God's work in our lives. When we have received that work, we then live a life of humility and the things we do and the way we encounter people, are done in humility that comes with this insight, this awareness. The whole of our walk with God is to be a walk of humility, not thinking more of ourselves than we should do. As Paul said, “I can do everything through him who gives me strength.(Phil 4:13), and Jesus said, “ apart from me you can do nothing” (Jn 15:9). Have you come to that awareness or are you still under the delusion that you can do it on your own? If you still think that, watch out, humiliation is on the way. Of course you can take steps and do that yourself: Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.” (Jas 4:10). Bring yourself to that place of right assessment and once you do, life is no longer a strain. The walk of humility is a walk of blessing. Walk it.






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Meditation No. 11

Meditation Title: Walking Freed & Forgiven


Matt 9:5,6 Which is easier: to say, `Your sins are forgiven,' or to say, `Get up and walk'? But so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins. . . ." Then he said to the paralytic, "Get up, take your mat and go home."


Our problem, sometimes as Christians, is that we divide our lives up into spiritual and secular or even spiritual and material, and in our minds the secular or the material come second, at least in our thinking. In reality we struggle in a secular, materialistic world and often find ourselves conforming to that world rather than the kingdom of God . For us, it seems, it is often one or the other, but for Jesus it was never like that. He and his Father created this material world (see Prov 8:27-30) and so for him it was never a case of spiritual or material, for in his eyes they were inextricably bound together.


While he was teaching in a house one day, his teaching was interrupted by a hole being pushed open in the roof above him and four men lowered another down on a stretcher to be healed by him (for more detail of this read Lk 5:18-26). These men likewise had no division between spiritual and material. Jesus may have been a teacher of spiritual principles but they also believed that he had power over material bodies, and could therefore heal their paralytic friend.


Now the thing that upset some of the religious bystanders was rather than simply heal the man straight away, Jesus declared forgiveness for him. Now there is a whole lot wrapped up in that because the record says, When Jesus saw their faith , he said to the paralytic, "Take heart, son; your sins are forgiven." (v.2). Does Jesus pronounce forgiveness over every person? No, the way is open for every person to receive God's forgiveness because of what Jesus has done on the Cross, but forgiveness is granted to those who repent of their sins, those who come believing to God. Faith, the Bible says, comes from hearing (Rom 10:17), and somehow these men had heard God speaking into their lives (consciously or subconsciously) and came to belief in Jesus – including the paralysed man on the stretcher. Because they had thus come to belief they were now in a position to receive forgiveness. Of course we aren't told what the cause of the paralysis was. It may have had a sin background and knowing that Jesus knows this man, who has come to faith, who has come to Jesus knowing that his past might be exposed, the man will have come with a heart wide open for correction or whatever else he might receive at Jesus' hands. Jesus knows all this and basically is saying, “It's all right, I see it all, I know, and I know your heart and so I declare the forgiveness you need.”


Now there are some important principles behind this healing. Understand that it wasn't just a story that the Gospel writers made up to illustrate a point. It happened in time-space history. Jesus actually forgave and healed the man, but the picture of what took place also reveals certain truths, which we would do well to understand. Because of the clear link in what Jesus does between healing and forgiveness, it is likely that the two things were tied together. Sometimes the absence of forgiveness can be the cause of a sickness or infirmity. If we are holding onto unforgiveness, holding on to a bad attitude about another person, even when they have abused or offended us, that can make us vulnerable to sickness or create stress within which, if not dealt with, will itself bring on affliction. We may have an illness or an affliction and we may also have guilt and, even though our heart is now fully turned to God, that guilt may quench faith so that we cannot came to God asking for healing, or we cannot believe He can heal a guilty person, and so we actually need to hear forgiveness pronounced over us, as this man did.


Those, if you like, are practical spiritual applications within what happened, but the picture of the paralysed man is also a picture of what happens to us spiritually sometimes. In what we've just described as possible ways the absence of forgiveness can impact us, it is as if it actually paralyses our lives. When we are guilty and when we feel guilty, that guilt has a paralysing effect upon us and stops us growing as Christians and stops us living and serving as Christians should be able to live and serve. Such guilt inhibits us and stops us living out the life of faith that God has opened up for us through the death of Christ on the Cross. Some times we need a friend or friends to pray for us and it is like they bring us to Christ like the four men did, into a place where we can receive the declaration of forgiveness which opens the way up for us to be released from that paralysis so that we may walk a life of freedom and forgiveness. Jesus said, "If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (Jn 8:31,32).


As we receive the truth about Jesus life, death and resurrection we will realize that he came to bring us freedom from sin, guilt and shame, and we will be free! At the Last Supper, Jesus said, This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.” (Mt 26:28) That was why Jesus came, to bring forgiveness of sins. John the apostle later wrote, If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness (1 Jn 1:9). If we have our hearts inclined fully to God through Jesus, then the promise is quite clear. When we fail Him, repent and ask for forgiveness, it IS given through the work of Jesus on the Cross. You ARE freed to live out for Him, free from guilt and shame. Be blessed, be forgiven, be freed!






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Meditation No. 12

Meditation Title: The Walk that is Humanly Impossible


Matt 14:29 Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus.


The atheist says there is no God and therefore there is only the material world and nothing can happen outside the world of nature and the laws of science. The agnostic is not sure about God but similarly is unlikely to believe anything is possible outside of nature and the laws of science. Many world religions would, in reality, side with the agnostic and not expect anything outside the realm of nature and scientific laws. The Christian is supposed to be quite different yet I wonder how many of us truly live in the spirit of Christ where, with God, anything is possible (Mt 19:26, Mk 9:23, 10:27, Lk 18:27). Why is that so? Because God is God and theologians talk about God being omnipotent, all-powerful, and so the One who created this world and sustains this world (Heb 1:2,3) can step into it and change it and work against so-called nature and the so-called laws of science to do whatever fits in with His will.


This intervention against the normal run of the world is seen again and again in the Old Testament which is full of the intervention of God bringing changes to what was going on. When God stepped fully into the human arena in the form of His Son, Jesus Christ, we see that he is constantly doing things that go against the laws of nature. (In passing, please note that we do not use a capital N for nature which is what many atheists do, trying to bring a personal sense to the otherwise meaningless actions of the weather and the world generally.) Every time Christ spoke and someone was healed or raised from the dead, he was changing ‘nature'. When he changed water into wine, spread a few loaves and fishes among thousands, stilled storms and so on, he was altering nature, altering what is in the material world to bring blessing into the spiritual world.


Peter's walking on water is probably the classic walk in the Bible. To remind you of this famous passage, the disciples have been sent by Jesus across the lake (it's a big lake!) and as so often happened a wind blew up so that they were getting nowhere. Suddenly in the middle of the lake, in the middle of the night, they see Jesus walking across the water towards them. They are naturally terrified thinking they must be seeing a ghost. The ‘ghost' hails them and tells them not to be afraid and so Peter, always the one for speaking out first, finds himself calling out to this ‘ghost', Lord, if it's you, tell me to come to you on the water.” Jesus speaks one word, “Come” and Peter is over the side, walking on the water to Jesus.


Now let's keep this very simple. Peter is doing what is humanly impossible. This is a walk of the humanly impossible. Now you may be a nice Christian who goes to church once a week and you listen to and join in the ‘service'. You may even go to a Prayer Meeting or Bible Study and go through the process but, in reality, you don't expect anything to change close to you. It's all very well to pray for big nations changing or people on the other side of the world changing or missionaries changing, but change in my own personal life and in the circumstances surrounding my life, well that's another thing. No it's not! If you have any belief in the Bible then you must realize that your Faith is one that involves the divinely supernatural which means “God on the move!”


Our walk with God is supposed to be one that allows God to be God and so what He wants to do through you which, in line with the examples we've spoken about already, means changing things and even going against the course of nature when He wills that. No more clearly is this seen than in Jesus' words at the Last Supper when he told his followers, I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing.” (Jn 14:12) Not sure about what Jesus did? Listen to his answer to John's disciples: Go back and report to John what you hear and see: The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is preached to the poor.” (Mt 11:4,5). There are six things there and five of them are naturally impossible, but Jesus did them – because he is the Son of God. And the truth is that his Spirit lives in you and he wants to continue doing those sorts of things.


I wonder why most of us don't believe this? Is it, perhaps, that if we'd been Peter, when Jesus said, “Come,” we'd have stood there rationalizing and explaining to Jesus why it's not possible. Perhaps it's time to confess our unbelief (Mk 9:24). People who deny the so-called gifts of the Spirit, deny the power of God, and deny that Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” (Heb 13:8). If he is, then the only thing stopping him doing what he did when he walked on the earth in a single human body, is our unbelief. It's time to change! It's time to become a people of faith. It's time to walk on water. Look around the circumstances of your life, and note the things where nothing seems to be changing, but which seem to go against what you feel God would want. Start talking to Him about this, and get ready to climb out of the security of the boat, when He speaks the word to come and do what is humanly foreign to you at the present. Get ready to ‘walk on water'.






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Meditation No. 13

Meditation Title: Walk of Communion


Luke 24:15 As they talked and discussed these things with each other, Jesus himself came up and walked along with them;


There is a very simple but profound truth that I have observed a number of times. It is that God is an initiator. From the very beginning God initiated this world. God initiated the Garden of Eden. God initiated a relationship with Abram. God initiated the Exodus at the burning bush with Moses. And so on. There's a very real reason for this: He is God and He sees all that is going on and He has a plan and He is working it out. Thus for every new phase of it He appears to initiate something. He did it with you and me when we became Christians. Sometimes people say, “I found Christ.” No you didn't; he found you. He came to you and started convicting you by his Spirit. He drew you to himself. He was the one taking the initiative.


Often when Jesus took the initiative it was obvious by the outcome what he was doing, but there are times in Scripture when, I confess, I am still left wondering. I wonder about the incident that our meditation focuses upon today. Jesus has been crucified and buried and has now been resurrected. He has been seen fleetingly by a number of people. It is now late in the day and two unnamed disciples are walking to Emmaus, presumably to their home. Do you notice already the language I am having to use – unnamed, presumably? We are told very little about the ‘who' and the ‘why' of this encounter. Why did Jesus walk all the way to Emmaus? Did he walk there or did his new body get transported there? Why did he not encounter them earlier and save having to go there? Questions without answers! The Bible is a bit like that sometimes. Perhaps God will give us all the answers when we get to heaven, but for now, just accept it happened like that.


So these two disciples walking home presumably, find a stranger joining them and joining in their conversation as they walked. There is a communion or sharing between these three as they speak about the recent events in Jerusalem . The two men only have the facts of what had happened, and it is left to the third figure to tell them why it had all happened. Did not the Christ have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?" And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself.” (v.26,27). They didn't realize it until a bit later, but the stranger was Jesus himself. Perhaps their minds were so convinced that he had died and perhaps they were still in shock, but whatever the reason, for the moment they did not recognize him.


Now it seems to me, that in this walk of ours through life with God, there are times when His presence is very real and He is saying to us things that we're hearing in our mind, yet we neither realize He is there nor that He is actually speaking to us. There are times when we are actually communing with God but without realizing it. I am convinced God speaks a great deal of the time to all of us. Some of us hear the thoughts and because we neither realize their source nor their import we reject them. This is the problem. If we realized the source of our thoughts we might take a great deal more notice of them! Communion with the unseen God is difficult in that respect.


The writer of the proverbs has ‘Wisdom' speaking, Blessed is the man who listens to me, watching daily at my doors, waiting at my doorway.” (Prov 8:34). Do we listen to God's voice? Do we listen for God's voice? Are we sensitive to His Presence when He draws near to us? God is a God of communication and so often He it is who initiates a conversation. Often it is less a conversation, more a simple monologue as He speaks into our hearts and minds. If you are like me, you mind is probably full of concerns of your life, constantly buzzing. It seems, sometimes, that the concerns of life seem to drown out the quiet voice of the Lord – for He never seems to shout! It seems that sometimes the only way to ‘hear' Him is to sit quietly for a prolonged period of time, laying down each of the concerns in my mind before Him until they are exhausted and my mind is stilled, focusing towards Him, but even then, He speaks when He chooses.


Yes, He doesn't shout, but there are times, I find, perhaps when I've just woken up and perhaps my mind hasn't wound itself up, that He speaks something directly and clearly to me. There have been times when I've been relaxing in a bath (and I've heard of others who this has happened to) when suddenly the Lord speaks. Because of the people that we are, communion with the Lord is not an easy thing. Indeed it is not something we can initiate, because He is the initiator. Yes, we can purpose to be in a place, in an attitude of mind, where we walk in purposeful communion with Him – if He will join us. Ah, but here is the truth. He's with us all the time, but are we with Him? That's the way it is.


Walking in communion with God? Perhaps, and perhaps we don't realize it. Perhaps we have to put ourselves in a place where He can be heard by us. Perhaps we're missing out? Perhaps we need to do something about it?






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Meditation No. 14


Meditation Title: Walking with God in the Midst


2 Cor 6:16 What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols? For we are the temple of the living God. As God has said: "I will live with them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be my people."


This series of meditations has been all about walking with God and we have tended to focus on the attitudes and experiences that we have in this walk, some good, some not so good. However, there is a fact about walking with God that seems so obvious that I think we have probably missed it until now: to walk with God means that He walks with us. A walk together means just that; it requires two people.


Paul's quote above comes first from the midst of the Law in Leviticus: I will put my dwelling place among you, and I will not abhor you. I will walk among you and be your God, and you will be my people.” (Lev 26:11,12). From the outset, with Israel , God declared His intention to be in the midst of His people. Speaking of their future, through Ezekiel, the Lord reiterated, My dwelling place will be with them; I will be their God, and they will be my people. Then the nations will know that I the LORD make Israel holy, when my sanctuary is among them forever.” (Ezek 37:27,28) What was the purpose of Him doing this? It was so that the rest of the world would see and know that He was God and that Israel were special because He was in their midst.


But in the quote from Paul above, there is something more of great significance. It is one of the three times that Paul says the same thing in his two letters to the Corinthians. Don't you know that you yourselves are God's temple and that God's Spirit lives in you?” (1 Cor 3:16). Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God?” (1 Cor 6:19). Three times, therefore, Paul seems to cry out, “Don't you know that you are God's temple?” It's a truth that has come to mean a lot to him. It's an amazing truth that many Christians either don't seem to know or don't seem to realize as truth. God's walk with us is so close, even closer than His walk with Israel at some of their finest moments. Then He walked among them, but today His ‘walk' is actually within us. That takes a bit of thinking about. We as individuals, and we as the church collectively, are the temple of God . The Temple in the Old Testament was the place where God came to make His presence manifest to His people. As at the completion of the Tabernacle, so at the completion of the Temple built by Solomon, God's presence filled the place (Ex 40:34,35, 1 Kings 8:10 ,11).


Now Paul links the concept of the Lord coming to His Temple with the Lord's promise of coming and dwelling in the midst of His people, walking among them. Walking among them gives the sense of God moving around. Consider this Temple , which is you. Imagine you are like a cathedral if you like, a building with space in which God can move around. In His walk with you, it is like God also walks around your life. Now that starts getting a bit unnerving for some of us, because we often tend to compartmentalize our lives and shut the door of certain parts of them. But God wants free access to freely walk around His temple. He wants to go into all parts of it and see all of it and have permission to operate in all parts of it.


So here in this corner are your memories. Can God have access to your memories? Are you happy to face your memories with Him? Some of us are fearful of our memories, afraid to confront the pain that is there, but with our loving heavenly Father we can do that as we allow Him to gently unlock and heal up the past. Here over in this other corner are your ambitions. How many of us have tried to keep God away from this corner? How many of us are uncertain about our future walk with Him because we're not sure that what we are doing is the thing on God's heart for us? Dare we invite the Lord over to this corner to look at it and tell us what He thinks about it? Perhaps the fear we had here was groundless. Perhaps He would like to remove that fear from you by opening up a whole new area of life that is so much for fulfilling for you – if you let Him into that corner. Now here's an interesting corner; it's the corner of desires. There are some things here that some of us have been hiding away in the darkness because we know that these things run contrary to His word. Perhaps it's time to invite Him in here to shed His light into this area to banish that thing that has been troubling you for so long. It just needs His light shining on it for it to be seen for what it is – powerless.


Yes, in our walk with God through life, it also means allowing Him to walk around our lives and giving Him access to every area of them. As we mentioned above, He is just waiting for your permission because, although He knows already what is there, He allows it to continue untouched until you exercise your will and invite Him into that area. Will you let Him, your loving, gentle, caring, understanding Father, in to every area of your life? If you do, all you will get is His blessing.






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Meditation No. 15


Meditation Title: Walking Renewed


Col 3:7-10 You used to walk in these ways , in the life you once lived. But now you must rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator.


Life changes are a normal and natural part of all of our lives, whether we realise it or not. As we grow every year older, we change. Then there are big events that bring even more change – school changes, college changes, job changes, getting married, having children, more job changes, and retiring – changes are part of life, and we take them for granted. However the biggest change that any person can make, is the change of being ‘born again' (Jn 3:3), of becoming a Christian. There are three aspects of this particular change.


The first one is that it is a change brought about by God. We have commented on it before but it bears repeating; being born again is a work of God: to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God-- children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband's will, but born of God.” (Jn 1:12,13). God's Holy Spirit drew us and convicted us of our need and brought us to the place of surrender, and it was God's Holy Spirit, as we saw yesterday, who came into us to empower us. We literally became a new being, a flesh and Holy Spirit being, whereas before we had been only flesh. Yes we had a spirit but now our spirit has been occupied by His Spirit.


The second aspect to consider is that there is an old life to be left behind. We have been thinking of our lives as Christians as a walk with God. Paul, in the verses above, uses the same analogy, but of the way we used to live: You used to walk in these ways It wasn't that every now and again these things ‘popped into our lives'. Oh no, we walked in them, they were part of our everyday experience. Yes, sometimes they were more prevalent than others, but they under girded our lives because they were expressions of the self-centred basis by which we lived. Look at the things listed. The first two are unbridled hostility towards others. The next four things are bad uses of our mouths. They are all expressions of self-centred living and because they are self-centred, they are not only unrighteous but they are also godless. These were the characteristics that prevailed in our old lives.


The third aspect to consider, is that we are no longer to live in those ways, because we have put those things away and have put on a new life. Paul uses this sort of language a lot. Writing to the Romans he said, We died to sin,” (Rom 6:2) – a fact – and because of that fact he tells us, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus. Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body (Rom 6:11 ,12). Did you see those two things we are to DO? First count or consider ourselves dead to sin so it has no influence over us and second, don't let it reign in us, resist it. In the earlier verses here in Colossians he says, “Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed.” (v.5) There is in this the realization that we have a part to play. Because the power of sin over us has been put to death, now our role is to actively ensure we get rid of the things of the past and don't let them remain in our lives. But it's not just a negative thing. Did you note in the Romans quote above it included counting ourselves alive to God in Christ Jesus. We're dead to sin but alive or open to God to receive His power. Our verses for today conclude with, have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator” which, again, is the positive side to all this. We have been given a new self by God's Spirit coming into us and He is renewing or changing us as He teaches us and shows us God's design for us with Jesus as our example.


It was like, looking back, we walked a dark, self-centred path, and then as we encountered God that path changed into a light, bright, God-centred path of blessing. If you want to slightly change the analogy, we changed paths. As he continues on, Paul clarifies this new path of change as he says, Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.” (v.12) ‘Clothe yourselves' is just another way of saying, ‘put on'. A bit later he actually says it: And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity (v.14). We are to actively bring love into our lives, we're to dress in it. It's to be the thing from which everything else flows. This is the path we are to be walking today. Let's ensure we are walking it.






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Meditation No. 16


Meditation Title: Walking in the Light


1 Jn 1:7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.


We thought yesterday about two paths in life, the path that was your ‘old life', what Paul calls your ‘sinful nature' (e.g. Rom 7:5), and the path after you have been born again and become a Christian and are now empowered by the Holy Spirit. We also observed characteristics of the old and the new. The old we were to get rid of and replace instead with the new characteristics which are, in fact, characteristics of Christ. When we come to the writings of the apostle John we find he uses different language, different analogies, to convey the same thing.


John is strong on light. In the prologue of his Gospel he speaks of Jesus as the light coming into the world, seven times, and in the Gospel as a whole he uses light 24 times.. John realised the significance of Jesus' words which the earlier Gospel writers had missed: I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” (Jn 8:12) and While I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” (Jn 9:5) and I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness.” (Jn 12:46). So it should be no surprise then, that when we come to his letters we find him making similar use of the analogy of light. First of all, God is light; in him there is no darkness at all.” (1 Jn 1:5). Even as Jesus is light, he is because his Father is light. What is he implying? In God and in Jesus there is only utter goodness, utter truth, utter love. (Remember the things yesterday to ‘put on'?) By contrast darkness represents what is bad, what is false, what is hostile and coming out of self-centredness.


Thus we find John referring to the two paths as paths of darkness or light. Our old path was a path of darkness and our new path is a path of light. He is quite clear on this. There are clearly two paths, two ways of walking. He challenges us on it: If we claim to have fellowship with him yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth.” (v.6) and then goes on in our verse today, But if we walk in the light …” There is no question, we either walk in darkness or in the light. In his Gospel John had written, This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what he has done has been done through God.” (Jn 3:19-21). How revealing was that! Jesus had come into the world but the people of the world rejected him because his light was scary and showed them up, showed up their less-than-goodness! It was only a comparatively few whose hearts yearned for something more and dared to allow themselves to be drawn to the light so that that light could come into their lives and transform them. Such were you if you are a Christian.


So, the path we walk is a path of light because Jesus is on it and he is light, and because we walk with God and He is light. When we came on it we gave up all thoughts, and attitudes and actions that could in any way be thought of as darkness. John is quite uncompromising in the way he puts it: Anyone who claims to be in the light but hates his brother is still in the darkness. Whoever loves his brother lives in the light (1 Jn 2:9,10). Now Satan may come and put unloving thoughts in our mind (and that is different) but if you have not love in you for others, you must question the reality of the experience you have. If you actually have hatred for a close relative at least, be under no illusion, you cannot be walking closely with Christ with his light in you! Unfortunately in Christian circles we often seem to come across people who say they are a Christian but certainly offend John's criteria. We cannot be walking in the light if we are harbouring darkness. The two don't go together. Light comes to completely banish darkness. Light comes to remove the darkness that separates us off from one another so if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another. When the light shines in our lives he enables us to come close to one another with deep heart sharing, for that is what true ‘fellowship' is. Coming into the light was what took place when we came to God in surrender and as that happened we found that the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.


Yes, coming to the light means we let him into our lives and our walk changes from darkness to light, so that there is no room for darkness any longer, as God works His salvation in us, cleansing us and forgiving us and transforming us. In this new walk we find we are not alone; we find that there are many others on this same walk, walking in the light, and we find our hearts united in this light. There is no loneliness in the light; that is only the experience of darkness. Enjoy the light!






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Meditation No. 17


Meditation Title: Walking as Jesus did


1 Jn 2:3,6 We know that we have come to know him if we obey his commands…. Whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did.


Imagine two people walking along a path together. One of them is Jesus and the other is you. Imagine Jesus saying, “My son/daughter, there is something I want you to do.” Imagine you breaking in and saying, “Hold on Lord, I'm not really very good at the ‘doing' bit. I'd rather not do whatever it is you have in your mind, if you don't mind.” It's difficult to imagine that conversation because he is the King of kings and Lord of lords and you don't talk like that to such a person, yet in reality I think that is how many Christians do think, even if they think of themselves as Christians.


There are various problems about obedience. The first is that we'd much rather run our own lives and do things that please us, that don't take any effort and don't upset our peace. The second thing about obedience is that it is a faith act. We can't see Jesus or hear Jesus in the way we hear people close to us, and therefore it's an act of faith to respond to what we think he's saying – except when it comes to his written word and it is quite explicit, e.g. love you enemies (Mt 5:44), when we have no excuse! The third thing about obedience is that it requires us to believe that Jesus can do through us what we can't do, because so often, the thing Jesus asks us to do is something that we consider humanly impossible, or at least humanly impossible for me. Therefore to do ‘it' means he is going to have to turn up and do ‘it' through me, and the enemy is always there ready to whisper words of doubt into my mind – which means I have to grab hold of the truth of his word (e.g. Phil 4:13) to build faith to step out and do it.


In this second chapter of his first letter that we are quoting from above, John is pointing out that obedience is a primary requirement if we are to call ourselves Christians, and in these verses he links obedience to Jesus' lifestyle. The writer to the Hebrews understood this: when Christ came into the world, he said: "Sacrifice and offering you did not desire, but a body you prepared for me; with burnt offerings and sin offerings you were not pleased. Then I said, `Here I am--it is written about me in the scroll-- I have come to do your will, O God.' First he said, "Sacrifices and offerings, burnt offerings and sin offerings you did not desire, nor were you pleased with them" (although the law required them to be made). Then he said, "Here I am, I have come to do your will." He sets aside the first to establish the second.” (Heb 10:5-9) He was quoting from Psalm 40 which prophetically has the Messiah speaking. Thus he says , “when Christ came into the world, he said.” Then he sets off against each other, bringing sacrifices and living in a human body. Sacrifices had been part of the old system whereby sinful human beings had been given a means to appease their consciences. Jesus didn't need that, because he was the perfect Son of God. No, he hadn't come to offer sacrifices; he had come to live out God's will in a human body: I have come to do your will.


Jesus came to do God's will. That was his one and only goal in living on the earth! It is clear from the Scriptures that before the foundation of the world, Father, Son & Holy Spirit had decided on the method of salvation for the world (check out Jn 17:24, 1 Pet 1:20, Eph 1:4, Rev 17:8, Rev 13:8 etc.). All it needed now was Jesus to live out what had been planned. What had been planned? For Jesus to come and display the Father's love through three years of wonderful ministry, then dying for the sin of the world and being resurrected as proof of who he was and what he's done. But a similar thing has been done for us: we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” (Eph 2:10) What are these good works ? They are simply the ongoing work of Jesus, reaching out to the world with God's love. When the writer to the Hebrews wrote, Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever,” (Heb 13:8), it followed immediately on from, Remember your leaders, who spoke the word of God to you. Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith.” (v.7). There was a clear implication that their leaders were continuing to live out the life of Christ – which had not changed – and so they were to do the same.


Therefore, our walk with God is a walk imitating Jesus, or rather being led by Jesus and obeying what he says as he speaks to us throguh his word and through his spirit. If you want to know how Jesus walked, read the Gospels. See his love and his grace, see his gentleness and his acceptance of all who came to seek him, despite their backgrounds. See Jesus, and live the same way.







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Meditation No. 18


Meditation Title: Walking in Obedience


2 Jn 6 And this is love: that we walk in obedience to his commands.


Just a minute, you might be saying, didn't we cover this yesterday? Well, yes we did as we considered how Jesus walked with his Father, but it is something that comes up so often we need to take it in once again. Another reason for looking at the subject of obedience once more, is that perhaps nowhere else are we more prone to just speaking the words but missing the practice. It is so easy to think we are doing something, yet in reality not be. All right then, the aspect of walking through life with God that we are specifically thinking about now is the walk of obedience.


We have considered in earlier meditations how God takes the initiative and whenever He does it is because He wants a response from us. That response is simply an act of obedience. For Abram it was to leave his land and go to a place God would show him. For Moses it was to go to Pharaoh and demand he let God's people go. For Jesus' disciples it was a simple call to Come, follow me.” (Mt 4:19) or, if we expand what he was actually saying there, come away and leave what you are doing and come wherever I go. There is a certain similarity in that to the call of Abram, who was also a man of faith. Obedience to God is, of course, always an act of faith. The call of Jesus to each one of us who would be his followers is, separate your mind off from all that you have relied upon in the past, and instead place your reliance entirely upon me. That's what the twelve disciples did. They literally left their present lifestyles and put themselves in Jesus' hands and went where he took them and did what he said.


The problem about this, as we just said, is that obedience is a faith thing. Frequently Jesus doesn't tell us where he is leading us. We just have to trust in his goodness and his desire for our goodness, trusting that wherever he takes us will be for our blessing. Do you remember the time when Jesus had just fed the five thousand? Instead of allowing the disciples to stand around and relish the glory of the miracle, we find, Immediately Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowd.” (Mt 14:22). He didn't tell them what was about to happen, only that he would dismiss the crowd and they were to go across the lake. It was later that night when they were stuck in the middle of the lake that Jesus walked out to them and Peter ended up walking on water. He didn't warn them that they would get into difficulties with the wind. He didn't warn them that he would walk across the water. He didn't warn Peter that he would do the impossible. Why? Perhaps it is because he always wants our responses to him to be spontaneous and genuine, so he can see how our hearts are reacting to the current circumstances and so, afterwards, we too can realize where we are at with him.


Faith doesn't come by reasoning out whether something is possible or whether it is good. Faith comes from hearing Jesus voice, in whatever way it comes, and simply responding spontaneously to it. There's no point in reasoning it out. We wouldn't be able to work out how he's going to do it, because that is what is going to have to happen; he's going to enable us to do it or he's going to do it himself through us. At the incident of the feeding of the five thousand, the disciples started reasoning: When Jesus looked up and saw a great crowd coming toward him, he said to Philip, "Where shall we buy bread for these people to eat?" He asked this only to test him, for he already had in mind what he was going to do. Philip answered him, "Eight months' wages would not buy enough bread for each one to have a bite!" Another of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter's brother, spoke up, "Here is a boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish, but how far will they go among so many?” (Jn 6:5-9) You can't help but smile at this. Jesus knows what he wants to do and knows it isn't a case of reasoning out what is humanly impossible, but he leads the disciples to start reasoning it out so they come to a place of realization that humanly it IS impossible! Philip focuses on the enormous size of the crowd and Andrew focused on the smallness of the resources. It was then almost as if Jesus says, “Right, now we've established it is impossible, let's do it!”


When you became a Christian you didn't reason it out. If you did, you only reasoned yourself into a corner of realizing your hopelessness. God's call came to you. You were convicted of your need and you surrendered. You were only conscious of your present need and God's call on you. You didn't ask Him all about the future. If He had told you, you probably wouldn't have responded. Thinking about passing through impossible circumstances is a scary thing, but God takes all of His children through such circumstances as He teaches them to walk the walk of obedience. But you don't have to worry; you will not be alone. Peter spoke of, the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey him.” (Acts 5:32) God gave you His own presence at that first act of obedience, when you surrendered to Him and were born again. From now on you walk together, and so He will be there to encourage you and reassure you, but so often that encouragement and reassurance comes AFTER you have made your initial move of obedience. That's how it works. Obedience is the key to blessing. Be blessed!






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Meditation No. 19


Meditation Title: Walking in Love


2 Jn 6 And this is love: that we walk in obedience to his commands. As you have heard from the beginning, his command is that you walk in love.


There is so much talk and so many songs written about love yet, if some Bible prophecy-watchers are to be believed, we are living in the last times when Jesus warned, Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold.” (Mt 24:12). In observing close up many of the family relationships in our society today, I believe it is fair to say that in many cases relationships exists but to say they are relationships of love would be going too far. To see the true meaning of love we have to come to the Bible. There are two Greek words that are used in the New Testament, phileo and agape . Phileo is brotherly love or the love of close friends, tender affection. Agape is a love of commitment, of selfless giving. If we set up this latter definition against many modern relationships they fail. Indeed if we set this definition against many Christians they fail.


It is the word agape that is used in the ‘love' of our verse above today, and there John gives us an obvious definition of love that fits with the definition we suggested just now. Love for God is expressed through a selfless commitment or obedience to God's commands. If you love someone you want to do that which pleases them. In the case of God it is a wonderful thing because what pleases Him is us living as He's designed us to live, which means for us it is the most fulfilling thing possible. When the creature lives according to the design of the Creator, then obviously that is when the creature will ‘function' best. What commands can we think of to give us understanding of this verse? How about, Jesus replied: `Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: `Love your neighbor as yourself.' All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” (Mt 22:37-40). This is the heart of our faith, loving God, having a relationship with Him that is all based on love. Is it hard to love God? Certainly not! This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.” (1 Jn 5:10) and We love because he first loved us .” (1 Jn 4:19). When we start to appreciate just a little of what God has done for us and how much He loves us we can't help but love in response. But don't forget agape love is committed love so even if we don't feel loving at any point in time, we still nevertheless act love and obey His commands.


In these closing meditations, our understanding of our walk with God seems to rise to a mighty climax where the definition is so clear. Over the past two days we have been considering that this walk is a walk imitating Jesus and it is clear that everything he did was as an act of love for the Father. We said his sole desire was to do his Father's will. Yesterday we opened that up, focusing on the word obedience, seeing how the whole of the Christian life is to be an act of obedience to the initiative of God, calling us to His side. It is an act of faith, because of course we cannot see Him. There is an intermixing of these ideas, these words we have been examining – obedience, faith, love, commitment.


Love is the very life we experience, the life of God in us. John is the apostle of love. He seems gripped by it. In this relatively short letter he uses the word ‘love' over thirty times! Perhaps the most simple and most profound of his statements which should become the very foundation of our lives is, “God is love” (1 Jn 4:8,16). Every thing about God is love. If we can catch this, we will be transformed. Every thought of God, every word of God and every action of God is an expression of love. If you can dare take that in, especially when you come to the Old Testament, your view of the Scriptures will be transformed and your understanding of love itself will be transformed. Don't have any idea that love is a soft and sentimental mushy feeling; it isn't! Love is a strong thing, an utter commitment for the objects of love. So strong was this love that the Godhead agreed to be split, and the Son agreed to leave the incredible wonder and glory of heaven and limit himself to a staggeringly small human body, in which he would be mistreated in the worst way possible, thrown out of his world in absolute agony. Catch the truths in this last sentence and you'll never be the same again.


So often the devil and the old sinful nature will gang up to make us think that “keeping the commandments” is a hard and difficult thing. No it's not, and we can say that for two reasons. The first is that when we catch the truth that we have just been considering, the truth as revealed in the New Testament, we will just be filled with wonder, love and awe. The second thing is that we have been filled with love, because He who is love has come and indwelt us (as we've considered more than once recently). How we take for granted, so often, Paul's words, the fruit of the Spirit is love (Gal 5:22). Because He is love, as He works out His life in us, we both know and express love, and our hearts are filled and filled and filled, and without realizing it, we are “keeping the commands.” Live, love and enjoy the wonder of these things!






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Series Theme:   Walking with God Meditations


Meditation No. 20


Meditation Title: Walking in the Truth


3 Jn 3 It gave me great joy to have some brothers come and tell about your faithfulness to the truth and how you continue to walk in the truth.


As we noted yesterday, as we come to the end of this particular series of meditations on walking with God, it seems that the walk becomes sharper and clearer and sharper and clearer. A word that describes unbelievers is deception, which is all about deceiving and being deceived. This deception makes people think, “I'm all right!” when they are not. This deception makes them try to look good when they are not. This deception tries to convince others of these things about oneself. This deception is about living in a make-believe world, a pretend world, a world without God. What is also sad, is that there seem to be so many Christians who still live in this world, although they would say it is not without God. Indeed the pretence even seems to get worse, trying to conform to Christian expectations, high moral standards and even standards above God's standards sometimes! (That's what the Pharisees of Jesus' day did).


We said yesterday that John had a thing about love. He also has a thing about ‘truth' which he mentions five times in the thirteen verses of this short final letter. Of course John had written, “Jesus said, ‘I am the truth' ” (Jn 14:6) and the Spirit is the truth.” (1 Jn 5:6) so in John's mind the truth is the expression of God Himself. Indeed he had also written, We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.” (Jn 1:14). When we think of ‘the truth' in the same context as God, we mean He is utterly real and there is nothing artificial or false about Him and He is utterly good conforming to His own design of perfection. To use a modern phrase, what you see is what you get, and in God's case, it is good! There is a sense therefore that, in the same way as often the New Testament writers speak about us being “in Christ”, if Jesus is the Truth, we can also be said to be “in the Truth”. Not only that, bearing in mind what we have being saying recently about being indwelt by the Spirit, we can also say “the Truth is in us”.


But in the verse above where John says your faithfulness to the truth there seems to be a sense that he is speaking about us conforming or living according to a body of knowledge that speaks about reality. Reality is another expression of truth. The reality about the Christian Faith, is that we were lost sinners who have been redeemed by God through Christ. This was a work of God and our only part in it was to accept it and receive it. This is the Gospel, the Good News about what God has done for us. When we are living fully in the light of that truth, again we can be said to be “living in the truth.”


But perhaps another aspect of this, is that the Gospel brings us to a place where we have been reconciled to God so that God, by His Spirit, can now work in us and lead us into being the people He designed us to be (we've covered this recently as well). As we live out these lives, being led by His Spirit, the sort of lives, or the nature of these lives, because they are now conforming to God's design or God's will, can be said to be true or real, in as much as they conform to that design.


Now part of that design or will is that we live without pretence or falseness or unreality. For us too, it should be, ‘what you see is what you get'. In that sense truth is equated with honesty and reality. But there is a danger in this. The danger is that we excuse our bad behaviour or our bad attitude by saying, “Well that is how I am. You have to take me as you find me!” and we try to make our bad behaviour seem good, seem a virtue, because “we are being real”. However, the truth at that point is that we are not being real as God is real, because above we said, “what you see is what you get, and in God's case, it is good”. To be real as a Christian is to conform to God's will, to be a Christ-like person, enabled and empowered by His Holy Spirit, free from the ‘old nature'. We are to consider that as dead and where the enemy tries to resurrect it, we're to put it to death (see Paul's language in Romans!).


So ‘being real' isn't just pouring out what we feel on the inside, if what is on the inside hasn't been sanctified and submitted to Christ for him to change. Being real is conforming to Christ. Living in Christ, allowing Christ to change us, and expressing his characteristics, this is being real, this is walking in the truth. However, if we are struggling with the old attitudes and hurts from the past and other issues from the past that have not yet been resolved, it is important that we do not deny all that is going on in us, and even though we have not yet arrived at the point of freedom from those things, living in the truth is acknowledging where we are at – on a walk of truth whereby we become more and more like Jesus.


Now it may be that as you read these last paragraphs you feel confused. You may be thinking, “You said living in the truth isn't being real expressing how we are actually feeling negatively inside, it's being Christ-like, but then you said we need to acknowledge that we are not yet Christ-like and be real in that. It's confusing!” Well let's see it as two levels of truth. The first level is the level of acknowledgement of how we are – less than perfect! Acknowledgement of this truth is walking in the truth, but merely acknowledging that state is not to be the end. God wants us changed. When we came to Christ we had to face the truth about ourselves. At that point we faced the truth and then He came to us and The Truth changed us. In as much as we are aware of things in the past that are still unresolved, we are only partially walking in the truth. We still have something to aim for. In as much as we allow Him to deal with any and every issue of our lives (and this is how it should be; it's not a high-flying impossibility!) we are walking in the truth. Acknowledgement of unresolved stuff in our lives is good, but it's only the start. The Truth has come to wash us, cleanse us, forgive us, and set us free. As we allow Him to do that we will walk in harmony with Him, we will walk in the truth. Walk on and keep walking!