Reading: Colossians 3:1-17
Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. Colossians 3:1-4 (NIV)
The old me is dead. I “died with Christ” (Colossians 2:20), and then three days later, I was “raised with Christ” (Colossians 3:1). This happened at a specific moment in history nearly 2,000 years ago, but I got to “share in it” when I made my own personal decision to accept Jesus as my Lord, and be baptised. With that burial and resurrection, I became a brand new person, a “new creation”. Home is no longer where it was. My new permanent address is now “hidden with Christ in God”.
But with this monumental shift in the spiritual realm comes the realisation that all my old settings need to be re calibrated – the way I think, the way I respond, my priorities, my focus, the things I pursue – everything.
Calibrate: Correlate the readings (of an instrument) with those of a standard in order to check the instrument's accuracy; adjust to take external factors into account; carefully assess, set or adjust.
It's still happening, this Re-calibration. In fact, the more time goes by, the more I discover in my heart and mind that doesn't correlate with those of the 'Standard'. As I read my Bible, I keep becoming aware of things in me that don't line up with the way that Jesus is, or his expectations of me.
Yet I don't feel guilt. Rather I feel hunger. I find that I am wearing some old attitude that I suddenly, desperately want to get rid of. I see a standard of faith that I fall woefully short of, and I desperately want my faith to grow to meet that new standard. I discover once again that God desires intimacy with me, and I long to go deeper in my relationship with him.
What a wonderful privilege to have the Spirit of God doing this work in me. He really is re-calibrating me. It's as I turn my heart and my thoughts toward him that he truly can have full reign to do his work. Coming before him as I read my Bible, setting aside time to walk and talk with him, and choosing in all my decisions to honour my declared devotion to him – these things open the way for God to reset and restore everything in my life that needs putting right. How good is that!
Holy Spirit, I offer myself into your hands, and say, “Have your way.” Please re-calibrate me so that I might be like Jesus. I want to love like him, and be pure in every thought and motivation. Jesus, I thank you that my future is now in your hands, and for the privilege of being able to walk with you now, and every day. Come, Lord Jesus!
Reading: Luke 5:1-16
While Jesus was in one of the towns, a man came along who was covered with leprosy. When he saw Jesus, he fell with his face to the ground and begged him, “Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean.” Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man. “I am willing,” he said. “Be clean!” And immediately the leprosy left him. Luke 5:12-13 (NIV)
The law of Moses contained various rules and regulations about skin diseases, and how these affected a person's “cleanness”. (See Leviticus 13). Being ceremonially unclean meant a person could neither touch nor be touched by another person, or that person would also become unclean. Neither could they “touch” God, because nothing unholy can stand in the presence of our holy God. Effectively, to be unclean meant to be cut off.
The picture was really a representation of the effect of sin in my life: it makes me unclean, and it cuts me off from the presence of God. Like an infectious disease, sin taints and infects everything it comes into contact with.
But in this story of the man with leprosy, something wonderful happens. Everything gets reversed! Jesus touches the man (that would have been a surprise in itself), but his holiness is not tainted. And instead of the unclean man making Jesus unclean, he himself is made clean by Jesus! Holiness has come, and the power of his uncleanness has been broken.
No longer is sin flowing out from me and causing damage. Instead, grace is flowing into me bringing holiness and restoration. In fact, everything is flowing in a new direction, and all because Jesus has reached out and touched me. The power of my uncleanness has been broken. Instead of being cut off, I am free now to enter and enjoy the very presence of God. I need to do this! I need every day to open my life to him to receive all that he has for me.
I am also free to reach out and touch others! God's grace flows not just to me but also through me. I need to open the penstocks and freely share with others the goodness that is flowing my way. The more that flows through, the more capacity I will develop to be able to share God's grace.
Jesus, thank you for your incredible gift. Thank you that everything now is flowing in a new direction – from you to me to others. Help me to know more of your grace, and to share it generously with those you bring across my path.
Reading: Isaiah 60 and 61
I delight greatly in the Lord; my soul rejoices in my God. For he has clothed me with garments of salvation and arrayed me in a robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom adorns his head like a priest, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.
For as the soil makes the sprout come up and a garden causes seeds to grow, so the Sovereign Lord will make righteousness and praise spring up before all nations. Isaiah 61:10-11 (NIV)
It is God who is the source of all righteousness. He makes it spring up. He speaks and it happens. He creates the conditions which cause righteousness to grow. When I see righteousness in my life, it is evidence that God is at work. The willingness that allows this to happen – even that is a gift from God, and faith, hope and love, those eternal qualities which increasingly characterise my life, they all have their source in God.
So there is no room at all for pride – just gratitude and joy and praise. No wonder that “I delight greatly in the Lord, and that my soul rejoices in my God, for he has clothed me with garments of salvation, and arrayed me in a robe of righteousness.” And if God has clothed me, I can expect to look pretty darn good!
It's Spring! All sorts of plants are popping up in my garden, many of which I haven't even planted! It's the same in me. God is causing righteousness to 'pop up' and grow, in me. I don't need to strain to be righteous. I just need to give the Holy Spirit free reign to do his work in me, and up righteousness comes! It's not my doing. Rather, it's all his – his purpose and his delight. I just need to be willing and obedient, and then I will enjoy the fruit of righteousness in my life. This is what salvation by faith in Jesus is all about.
It is such a privilege Lord to be at the receiving end of your good plans and purposes. May you cause righteousness and praise to spring up in me, and may it be visible to all as a testimony to your goodness and love.
Reading: Joshua 1
Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. Joshua 1:8 (NIV)
Joshua was about to lead several million people into a land that God had promised to his ancestors hundreds of years earlier. After all this time, he was the one to realise the promise. This would require military leadership as well as civil governance responsibilities.
Joshua had done his apprenticeship under Moses for 40 years or so. He knew what it was to be in God's presence, having spent much time with God in the Tent of Meeting. Yet now, prosperity and success depended on this one thing – that his mind and his heart be so filled with the Book of the Law that he would unswervingly live by God's Word. He was to think it, speak it, and live by it.
The same applies to me, yet so much differently because of God's promise which is now fulfilled: “I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people.” Jeremiah 31:33 No longer must I try my hardest to internalise his Word, hoping thereby to obey it and somehow reach his required standard. Instead, God's Word is already within me, written on my heart, and his Spirit is now helping me to externalise or live out that Word.
The pressure now comes right off, because God himself is doing this work in me. “So is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.” Isaiah 55:11. Now as I read God's Word, I am transformed by it because the Spirit is doing this work in me. Now as I 'marinate' in the words of the Word, it's flavour can soak right through me. In effect, the Word is being fulfilled in my life, not because of my own efforts, but because God is doing it. Mine is simply to submit myself into his hands, cooperating with him and trusting him for everything.
God, you are so good. Thank you for your precious Word. Thank you for opening your heart to me so that I can know you and enjoy your promises. And thank you Jesus for your sacrifice that has made all this possible. Holy Spirit, have you way in me now, and may all your plans and purposes for me be fulfilled.
For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Jeremiah 29:11
Reading: Exodus 39:1-32
The craftsmen made beautiful sacred garments of blue, purple, and scarlet cloth—clothing for Aaron to wear while ministering in the Holy Place, just as the Lord had commanded Moses. Exodus 39:1 (NLT)
Nothing unholy can stand in the presence of our holy God. In order to serve in God's presence, Aaron needed to be made holy; “sanctified” or set apart for holy service. Sacrifices needed to be made on his behalf. Not only that, Aaron's garments needed to be made holy by the appropriate ceremony and sacrifice. In keeping with that need for holiness, the garments were crafted from the finest fabric, colourful and richly adorned to reflect the beauty that holiness brings.
I too need to be adorned in holiness if am to enter the presence of my holy God. My old clothes are spoiled by sin and shame. Fortunately, I have some new ones! I delight greatly in the Lord; my soul rejoices in my God. For he has clothed me with garments of salvation and arrayed me in a robe of righteousness. Isaiah 61:10
My new clothes come to me at great price. For Jesus, who bought them for me, was stripped of his at the cross, his garments of holiness replaced by my filthy rags in the sight of both God and man, so that I might be dressed and ready to be welcomed into the very presence of God.
I find it interesting that although his seamless “woven in one piece” undergarment was stripped from him, it was considered too valuable to be cut in pieces: “Let’s not tear it,” they said to one another. “Let’s decide by lot who will get it.” John 19:24a In the same way, Jesus' own holiness was not blemished or tainted at the cross. Rather, it became a precious gift, one that has somehow made its way into my hands, and into the hands of all who would humble themselves to receive it.
Thank you Jesus for your incredible gift of holiness, for these precious clothes which now adorn me and qualify me to come into the presence of God my Father. Help me Jesus to wear them as they should be worn, to live in holiness and to carry myself in such a way that the giver of that holiness is recognised, praised and acknowledged as the source of everything that is holy and good.