Healing Song (Isaiah 53:5, Mark 7:26-28)
Healing Song (Isaiah 53:5, Mark 7:26-28)
We love because God first loved us. 1 JOHN 4:19
Untethered by time, he sees us all. From the backwoods of Virginia to the business district of London; from the Vikings to the astronauts, from the cave-dwellers to the kings. From the hut-builders to the finger-pointers to the rock-stackers, he sees us. Vagabonds and ragamuffins all, he saw us before we were born.
And he loves what he sees. Flooded by emotion. Overcome by pride, the Starmaker turns to us, one by one, and says, “You are my child. I love you dearly. I’m aware that someday you’ll turn from me and walk away. But I want you to know, I’ve already provided you a way back.”
In the Grip of Grace
In our desire to impact people around us, we often look to the example of individuals who have positively influenced our own lives. Many of us have known men or women who created a hunger in our soul to know God better. Seeing what a difference they made in our life, we may wonder if we could ever have that kind of influence on others.
The answer is yes, because God’s Spirit indwells every believer, making it possible for any of us to be effective in significant ways. One way is by simply speaking words of kindness. When you notice that someone is depressed or deeply troubled over circumstances in his or her life, you have the opportunity to say, “I just want you to know that I love you and appreciate you. I know things look black right now, but I’m lifting you in prayer. You are going to make it.” It may not sound eloquent or profound, but just imagine yourself receiving such encouragement in a time of need. Then you’ll get an idea of how meaningful such comments can be.
Another way to make a significant impact is through the church that you attend. Every week, when you contribute to the ministry of Jesus Christ in that fellowship, the Lord utilizes your offering in ways you’ll never be able to measure. He knows how to multiply your gift so it goes much further than you realize.
Because God wants all believers to have impact for His kingdom, He expects you to use the abilities and opportunities He has given you. Where do you begin? Right where you are—start by brightening the corner where you live.
“Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation . . .” (Jude 1:3)
The description of our salvation as “common” does not mean that salvation is “ordinary” or “normal,” but rather that salvation is available to anyone who wants it. The term is translated “unclean” several times in passages that speak of items that are accessible to everyone, rather than specialized foods or ceremonies available to just a few (Acts 11:8; Romans 14:14; etc.).
Right after Pentecost, the Jerusalem church experienced a quick growth in converts, many of whom were poor and needed practical help. The bond of the new church was so strong that “the multitude of them that believed were of one heart and of one soul: neither said any of them that ought of the things which he possessed was his own; but they had all things common” (Acts 4:32). That is the sense in which Jude speaks of a “common” salvation.
The salvation is available to all. “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth” (Romans 1:16). None are excluded from the possibility of salvation—except those who refuse to believe what God has provided through the substitutionary death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ (1 John 2:2).
But this salvation is also necessary for all. “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved” (Acts 4:12). It has become popular today to couch the gospel message in moderate terms, making the message appear optional or a “personal” belief system. No, it is the only salvation, even if it is “common.” “Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me” (John 14:6). HMM III
“But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ.” (Phil.3:7.)
WHEN they buried the blind preacher, George Matheson, they lined his grave with red roses in memory of his love-life of sacrifice. And it was this man, so beautifully and significantly honored, who wrote,
“O Love that wilt not let me go,
I rest my weary soul in Thee,
I give Thee back the life I owe,
That in thine ocean depths its flow
May richer, fuller be.
“O Light that followest all my way,
I yield my flickering torch to Thee,
My heart restores its borrowed ray,
That in Thy sunshine’s blaze its day
May brighter, fairer be.
“O Joy that seekest me through pain,
I cannot close my heart to Thee,
I trace the rainbow through the rain,
And feel the promise is not vain,
That morn shall tearless be.
“O Cross that liftest up my head,
I dare not ask to fly from Thee,
I lay in dust life’s glory dead,
And from the ground there blossoms red,
Life that shall endless be.”
There is a legend of an artist who had found the secret of a wonderful red which no other artist could imitate. The secret of his color died with him. But after his death an old wound was discovered over his heart. This revealed the source of the matchless hue in his pictures. The legend teaches that no great achievement can be made, no lofty attainment reached, nothing of much value to the world done, save at the cost of heart’s blood.
“And ye shall be witnesses unto Me.” Acts 1:8
In order to learn how to discharge your duty as a witness for Christ, look at His example. He is always witnessing: by the well of Samaria, or in the Temple of Jerusalem: by the lake of Gennesaret, or on the mountain’s brow. He is witnessing night and day; His mighty prayers are as vocal to God as His daily services. He witnesses under all circumstances; Scribes and Pharisees cannot shut His mouth; even before Pilate He witnesses a good confession. He witnesses so clearly, and distinctly that there is no mistake in Him. Christian, make your life a clear testimony.
Be you as the brook wherein you may see every stone at the bottom—not as the muddy creek, of which you only see the surface—but clear and transparent, so that your heart’s love to God and man may be visible to all. You need not say, “I am true:” be true. Boast not of integrity, but be upright. So shall your testimony be such that men cannot help seeing it. Never, for fear of feeble man, restrain your witness. Your lips have been warmed with a coal from off the altar; let them speak as like heaven-touched lips should do. “In the morning sow thy seed, and in the evening withhold not thine hand.”
Watch not the clouds, consult not the wind—in season and out of season witness for the Saviour, and if it shall come to pass that for Christ’s sake and the gospel’s you shall endure suffering in any shape, shrink not, but rejoice in the honour thus conferred upon you, that you are counted worthy to suffer with your Lord; and joy also in this—that your sufferings, your losses, and persecutions shall make you a platform, from which the more vigorously and with greater power you shall witness for Christ Jesus. Study your great Exemplar, and be filled with His Spirit. Remember that you need much teaching, much upholding, much grace, and much humility, if your witnessing is to be to your Master’s glory.
“Behold, I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands.” Isaiah 49:16
No doubt a part of the wonder which is concentrated in the word “Behold,” is excited by the unbelieving lamentation of the preceding sentence. Zion said, “The Lord hath forsaken me, and my God hath forgotten me.” How amazed the divine mind seems to be at this wicked unbelief! What can be more astounding than the unfounded doubts and fears of God’s favoured people? The Lord’s loving word of rebuke should make us blush; He cries, “How can I have forgotten thee, when I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands? How darest thou doubt my constant remembrance, when the memorial is set upon my very flesh?” O unbelief, how strange a marvel thou art!
We know not which most to wonder at, the faithfulness of God or the unbelief of His people. He keeps His promise a thousand times, and yet the next trial makes us doubt Him. He never faileth; He is never a dry well; He is never as a setting sun, a passing meteor, or a melting vapour; and yet we are as continually vexed with anxieties, molested with suspicions, and disturbed with fears, as if our God were the mirage of the desert. “Behold,” is a word intended to excite admiration. Here, indeed, we have a theme for marvelling.
Heaven and earth may well be astonished that rebels should obtain so great a nearness to the heart of infinite love as to be written upon the palms of His hands. “I have graven thee.”It does not say, “Thy name.” The name is there, but that is not all: “I have graven thee.” See the fulness of this! I have graven thy person, thine image, thy case, thy circumstances, thy sins, thy temptations, thy weaknesses, thy wants, thy works; I have graven thee, everything about thee, all that concerns thee; I have put thee altogether there. Wilt thou ever say again that thy God hath forsaken thee when He has graven thee upon His own palms?