The Shepherd’s Voice

A time is coming when all who are in their graves will hear his voice and come out—those who have done good will rise to live.… JOHN 5:28–29 NIV

A day is coming when everyone will hear [Jesus’] voice. A day is coming when all the other voices will be silenced; his voice—and his voice only—will be heard. Some will hear his voice for the very first time. It’s not that he never spoke, it’s just that they never listened. For these, God’s voice will be the voice of a stranger. They will hear it once—and never hear it again.

They will spend eternity fending off the voices they followed on earth. But others will be called from their graves by a familiar voice. For they are sheep who know their shepherd. They are servants who opened the door when Jesus knocked. Now the door will open again. Only this time, it won’t be Jesus who walks into our house; it will be we, who walk into his.


In the Eye of the Storm

A PLEA FOR HELP

My sins have caught me so that I cannot see a way to escape … Please, LORD, save me. Hurry, LORD, to help me. PSALM 40:12–13

“We are punished justly, getting what we deserve for what we did. But this man has done nothing wrong” (Luke 23:41). We are guilty and he is innocent. We are filthy and he is pure. We are wrong and he is right. He is not on that cross for his sins. He is there for ours.

And once the crook understands this, his request seems only natural. As he looks into the eyes of his last hope, he makes the same request any Christian has made: “Remember me when you come into your kingdom” (Luke 23:42).

No stained-glass homilies. No excuses. Just a desperate plea for help.

At this point, Jesus performs the greatest miracle of the cross. Greater than the earthquake. Greater than the tearing of the temple curtain …. He performs the miracle of forgiveness: “Today you will be with me in paradise” (Luke 23:43).

from SIX HOURS ONE FRIDAY

He Gave Himself

“Who gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver us from this present evil world, according to the will of God and our Father.” (Galatians 1:4)

There can never be a greater gift than this. Our Lord Jesus Christ not only has given us forgiveness and salvation and all spiritual blessings, He gave Himself! The pure, glorious Son of God gave Himself, substituting Himself in our place to suffer the righteous judgment of God on our sins.

Six times this wonderful affirmation is found in God’s Word. The first is in our text, assuring us that, when He gave Himself, He paid the price to deliver us from this present evil world into the eternal world to come.

Then, in the next occurrence, this promise is made intensely personal. Christ “loved me, and gave himself for me” (Galatians 2:20). The gift Christ gave is more than the world could ever give.

The supremely sacrificial nature of His gift is then emphasized. “Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God” (Ephesians 5:2). The sacrifice has brought us to Himself, for “Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it. . . . That he might present it to himself a glorious church” (Ephesians 5:25, 27).

The offering was sufficient to pay for the redemption of all sin, as He “gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time” (1 Timothy 2:6). This ransom is not merely to redeem us from the penalty of sin at the judgment, however, but also from the power of sin in our lives, and this is the testimony of the final occurrence of this great declaration. Christ “gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people,zealous of good works” (Titus 2:14). HMM

The contrary wind

‘The wind was contrary.” (Matt. 14:24.)

RUDE and blustering the winds of March often are. Do they not typify the tempestuous seasons of my life? But, indeed, I ought to be glad that I make acquaintance with these seasons. Better it is that the rains descend and the floods come than that I should stay perpetually in the Lotus Land where it seems always afternoon, or in that deep meadowed Valley of Avilion where never wind blows loudly. Storms of temptation appear cruel, but do they not give intenser earnestness to prayer? Do they not compel me to seize the promises with a tighter hand grip? Do they not leave me with a character refined?

Storms of bereavement are keen; but, then, they are one of the Father’s ways of driving me to Himself, that in the secret of His presence His voice may speak to my heart, soft and low. There is a glory of the Master which can be seen only when the wind is contrary and the ship tossed with waves.

“Jesus Christ is no security against storms, but He is perfect security in storms. He has never promised you an easy passage, only a safe landing.”

Oh, set your sail to the heavenly gale,
And then, no matter what winds prevail,
No reef can wreck you, no calm delay;
No mist shall hinder, no storm shall stay;
Though far you wander and long you roam
Through salt sea sprays and o’er white sea foam,
No wind that can blow but shall speed you Home.

—Annie Johnson Flint.

Healed by His Stripes

“With His stripes we are healed.” Isaiah 53:5

Pilate delivered our Lord to the lictors to be scourged. The Roman scourge was a most dreadful instrument of torture. It was made of the sinews of oxen, and sharp bones were inter-twisted every here and there among the sinews; so that every time the lash came down these pieces of bone inflicted fearful laceration, and tore off the flesh from the bone. The Saviour was, no doubt, bound to the column, and thus beaten. He had been beaten before; but this of the Roman lictors was probably the most severe of His flagellations. My soul, stand here and weep over His poor stricken body.

Believer in Jesus, can you gaze upon Him without tears, as He stands before you the mirror of agonizing love? He is at once fair as the lily for innocence, and red as the rose with the crimson of His own blood. As we feel the sure and blessed healing which His stripes have wrought in us, does not our heart melt at once with love and grief? If ever we have loved our Lord Jesus, surely we must feel that affection glowing now within our bosoms.

“See how the patient Jesus stands,
Insulted in His lowest case!
Sinners have bound the Almighty’s hands,
And spit in their Creator’s face.

With thorns His temples gor’d and gash’d
Send streams of blood from every part;
His back’s with knotted scourges lash’d.
But sharper scourges tear His heart.”

We would fain go to our chambers and weep; but since our business calls us away, we will first pray our Beloved to print the image of His bleeding self upon the tablets of our hearts all the day, and at nightfall we will return to commune with Him, and sorrow that our sin should have cost Him so dear.’