"The Spirit of the Lord is on Me, because He has anointed
Me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent Me to
proclaim liberty to the captives and recovery of sight to the
blind, to release the oppressed, and proclaim the year of the
Lord’s favour." (Luke 4:18-19)
The New Testament reader very quickly notices that John’s gospel is quite different from the other three in a number of ways. One difference is that John highlights only seven of Jesus’s miracles compared to the 37 we read of in the gospels combined!However, so that we are left in no doubt that there are many more, John tell us that:
Jesus performed many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. (John 20:30)
Over the centuries, people have scratched their heads, puzzling over John’s apparently strange inclusion of the wedding feast at Cana. It just doesn’t seem as relevant compared to Jesus’ miracles of healing, deliverance, walking on water and the multiplication of food! However, if we take a closer look at the gospel, we understand why.
The seven miracles that John chose, demonstrated to his readers, Jesus’ divine identity and his mission on earth. And what better way to open this narrative than recounting a miracle of transformation! Jesus came to seek the lost, save the lost and transform the lost.
Paul explains this in 2 Corinthians 2:18 when he says,
"But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory.”
After the miracle of transformation at Cana, we read of many transformed lives in the New Testament; Mary Magdalen , Matthew, Peter, Paul, Zacchaeus to name but a few.
In his book, Fresh Eyes on Jesus’ Miracles, Doug Newton writes,
“Without even waving a hand… Jesus performed a miracle of radical transformation. Only the God who created the Universe from nothing could have fused the one-time water with carbon and acids and sparkling flavour. If he could do this to water-filled pots, imagine what he can do with worry-filled people.”
Imagine what he can do/has done with the drug addict, the alcoholic, the depressed woman, the suicidal man, the broken hearted parent… you and me! Doesn’t that make us want to shout ‘Hallelujah’? Don’t we want everyone to know this God who takes the blind, the weak, and the oppressed and transforms them into ‘a crown of splendour in the LORD’s hand, a royal diadem in the hand of your God.” (Isaiah 62:3)
This is your God. This is my God. This is what we can expect when we yield our lives wholly to Him. Shall we do this today?
“The Bible was not given for our information but for our transformation.”
This week’s Thought has been written by Peter Hodson.
“Who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this?”
(Esther 4:14 )
With global events as they are today, we might well ask why we are here at this time in history. The truth is that you and I were not born randomly. God had planned our birth, who we are, our personality, our temperament, when and where we were born, before the world was made (Eph1:4). He has a specific and unique purpose for you and me to fulfil.
He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He made us accepted in the Beloved.
It is wonderful and possibly frightening to think that God who created the universe, has a plan and a purpose for you and me as individuals, planned by Him before the world’s foundation, to be conformed to the image of Jesus Christ, and so to bring God glory as his purposes are worked out in the world.
But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. (1 Peter 2:9)
For you are a holy people [set apart] to the Lord your God; and the Lord has chosen you out of all the peoples who are on the earth to be a people for His own possession. (Deuteronomy 14:2)
What a privilege! And what confidence this gives us to completely entrust our lives and all that happens to us, to God and live lives of obedience to Him! Esther was brought unexpectedly into the position of Queen in the kingdom of Persia and her obedience to Mordecai brought about the rescue of the entire Jewish people. We have been brought into a far greater Kingdom and we possibly will never know this side of eternity how our daily obedience to God will affect other lives.
“Esther chose the path of joy and blessing when she agreed to play her role in God’s plan.”
(Go to questions.org/for-such-a-time-as-this)
We each have a high and holy calling. God grant that we may recognise our glorious privilege and respond with joyful obedience and ‘run in the path of His commands’ (Ps 119:32), for we each have indeed been brought into the Kingdom for such a time as this!
Therefore, believers, be all the more diligent to make certain about His calling and choosing you [be sure that your behaviour reflects and confirms your relationship with God]; for by doing these things [actively developing these virtues], you will never stumble.
(2 Peter 1:10)
“When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.” (Isaiah 43:2)
Recently I came across a beautifully produced video of CeCe Winans singing “The Goodness of God"*. In it we see her singing this song, alongside another video where she is looking back over the happiest times of her life projected onto a screen. It’s truly heartwarming, and you feel her gratefulness to God as she sings ‘of the goodness of God.”
Having watched the video, I realised that she has focussed on one side of a two sided coin. God’s goodness to her in the happiest times in her life, the highlights of life, is depicted but not the other the side of the coin, life’s lowlights. These are reflected in the second verse of the song:
I love Your voice
You have led me through the fire
In the darkest night
You are close like no other
God is good to us during the happy times, but His goodness somehow shines even more brightly and powerfully in the darkness.
I am reminded of a conversation between Brother Andrew (God’s Smuggler) and Corrie ten Boom, the woman who, along with her family, rescued Jews in Holland who were to be sent to concentration camps and almost certain death. Many years after her arrest and concentration camp experience (her father and sister lost their lives at that time), Brother Andrew is in Corries’s comfortable flat. Looking round the apartment, he comments to her, ‘God has been good to you.’ Corrie’s reply was ‘Andrew, He was good to me in the concentration camp also.” Brother Andrew felt suitably reprimanded.
Too often, we speak of God’s goodness to us in terms of the provision of material possessions, promotions work, relationships etc. If we think that way, we miss recognising and acknowledging the goodness of God when “You have led me through the fire.In the darkest night, You are close like no other.”
Shall we take time this week to mediate on the many times that God has led us safely through the waters, rivers and flames? Let us acknowledge this side of His character as we ‘singing of the goodness of God'.
Happy moments, PRAISE GOD
Difficult moments, SEEK GOD
Quiet moments, WORSHIP GOD
Painful moments, TRUST GOD
Every moment, THANK GOD
"Not my will, but Thine be done." (Luke 23:42)
There are two stories in the New Testament that leave us hanging on the edge and, if, like me, you have an inquisitive mind, you will have wondered what happened next. The first is the parable of the Lost Son in Luke 16.
This well known parable recounts the homecoming of a penitent, wayward son whose loving and forgiving father holds a lavish ‘welcome home’ banquet for him where everyone will rejoice with him….except the older brother! We read that he “became angry and refused to go in”. Complaining to his father, he says:
'Look! All these years I've been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders. Yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends. But when this son of yours who has squandered your property with prostitutes comes home, you kill the fattened calf for him!' (Luke 16:29-30)
Graciously, his father responds:
“My son… you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.” (Luke 16:31-32)
End of story!
But wait, what happened to the older brother? Did he lay aside his pride, jealousy and resentment? Did he go in and welcome his estranged brother? Or was this the beginning of a lifelong bitterness? We just don’t know. Jesus told only what was sufficient for his purposes but I can’t help wondering what the ending would have been.
The second cliffhanger story is sadly a true story, not a parable. It’s the story of a rich young man who came to Jesus asking him what he must do to inhert eternal life. It was a good question he asked and, to the ears of bystanders would possibly have sounded genuine and sincere. When Jesus pointed him to certain commandments, the young man replied,
“All these I have kept since I was a boy." (Luke 18:21)
Jesus then told him clearly that he needed to sell all that he had, give it to the poor then follow Jesus. Unfortunately, this wasn’t good news to the young man. We read that,
“When he heard this, he became very sad, because he was very wealthy.” (Luke 18:23)
How often I have wondered what happened to this young man! Luke never tells us, probably because he didn’t know the answer himself. As Christians, we are are familiar with choices. We chose daily to act/react in certain ways that will either demonstrate our allegiance to Christ or our rejection of Him.
Here we have read of two men who struggled when faced with righteous choices. Some who read this will be facing similar circumstances. You too have a choice. What will it be?
“There are only two kinds of people in the end:those who say to God, ‘Thy will be done’, and those to whom God says, in the end, ‘Thy will be done’.” C.S.Lewis
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