(February 25, 2018) Brian Bell challenges…

One of my favourite songs contains a chorus which includes the phrase ‘It always makes a difference when Jesus passes by…’

The message of the song is derived from specific instances in the life of Jesus. The brief meditation I share here is based on one – with suggestions as to how he made a difference and how we may try to follow his example.

Our daughter was married back in 2002 and I well remember the effort we made and (to be honest) the money spent to try to ensure the wedding guests were comfortable and would enjoy their meal.

Remember the incident of the wedding in Cana of Galilee (John chapter 2)? Let’s recall how the presence of Jesus ensured the guests Cana guests were able to continue enjoying the wedding.

The guests were not unhappy with the wine they had been served and nor did they expect better; however part way through the celebration it was discovered the wine had run out.

Jesus was approached and on his direction several large water pots were filled with water – which he then instructed be drawn and taken to the master of ceremonies.

This was the first of Jesus’ many miracles (verse 11) and the emcee was to taste not water but the best of wines!

No wonder he commented in surprise, ‘Usually a host serves the best wine first and then when everyone is full (drunk) and doesn’t care he brings out the least expensive wines but you have kept the best wine until now’ (verse 10).

Even today we hear that phrase ‘keeping the best wine until last’ but for most people it’s referring to this instance of Jesus changing water into wine – however I suggest the real central truth has to do with the presence of Jesus making a difference.

In this miracle Jesus gave above the expectations of those who asked him, however I believe the incident goes beyond even expectations Jesus turned emptiness into fullness – this speaks to me about purpose.

Even with all the abundance of wealth in the developed world in which we are privileged to live, many people are discontented and empty.

It is true of course that in order to live, if we are able bodied and of working age, we are expected to earn a living and pay our way and it is easy at times to think that all we seem to do is work to pay bills! Perhaps that is why for so many a windfall on a lottery seems to be the answer.

Where does this emptiness come from? Why is it that even with material prosperity our lives can run on empty? If we try to live beyond our financial means that can certainly lead to financial emptiness but the struggle to deal with the consequences also affects the emotions.

Only Jesus can give us real purpose in life!

Periods of emptiness may occur at times because the pressures or problems of life (from which believers are not exempted) leave us drained. I know family members and friends who have been unfortunate to experience marital difficulties that have led them through a period of emptiness.

The story of the first miracle of Jesus reminds me that even with the very best preparation we may come against a situation for which we are not prepared and it may result in emptiness.

Speaking of himself Jesus said, ‘I am come that they might have life and that they might have it more abundantly’ (John 10:10).

The term ‘more abundantly’ speaks to me about fullness and I believe it applies more to the quality of our inner (Spirit) life than the material, physical or financial elements of life.

The water pots Jesus used had been set aside for a specific purpose: they were meant to hold water.

We are meant to hold the life, the fullness of Christ and his Holy Spirit within… all with eternal purpose and to be shared!

As we do so, periods of emptiness will turn to periods of adventure in Christ!

God’s word reminds me I am not the product of some big bang or millions of years of evolution! Genesis 2: 7 says, ‘The Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath (spirit) of life and man became a living soul.’

We are a unique creation: God created us with the purpose of having his life within us! But, sadly, we like to go our own way and yet our own efforts do not lead to the fullness of purpose God has for us.

For those who have entered into a personal walk of faith knowing we are saved by grace, we know how the presence of Jesus through the Holy Spirit makes a difference in our lives – even and especially in those times when, as the hymn writer says, ‘problems of life my spirit may assail.’

But note…

  • This difference is not a matter of sinless perfection.
  • Our standing before the Lord is only in Christ’s perfection!
  • We don’t set ourselves above those who don’t share our faith or principles.
  • We live from day to day doing what Jesus asks us to with the aid of the Holy Spirit.
  • We’re determined to make a difference in the world among those with whom we live and work.

This strongly challenges me to have a different perspective! For me this means trying to see life from God’s view and by having a different…

  • Attitude to others  (for me this means trying to walk in love)
  • Respect for others (for me this means trying to live with a ‘servant heart’ towards others).

Personally I find this is a daily work. I have to say I don’t always get it right – but I believe with the enabling of the Holy Spirit I need to keep trying to make a difference.

We all need to do so… this too is Reachout… reaching out to others and making a difference in 2018! Let’s endeavour to be ‘Jesus passing by’ – blessing others in our neighbour, in our world.

Brian Bell is a diaconate member of Christ Church (Congregational) Abbots Cross, Northern Ireland. He describes himself as ‘grateful for the privilege and opportunity given me to serve my Lord.’ Brian is also a volunteer with Disabled Christians Fellowship Ireland. Link:

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