I have an old United Methodist hymnal in my office. Sometimes I get it out and read through it in my devotional time. Today I was reminded of this old Fanny Crosby (1820-1915) song:
“Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine! O what a foretaste of glory divine!
Heir of salvation, purchase of God, born of His Spirit, washed in His blood.
This is my story, this is my song, Praising my Savior all the day long;
This is my story, this is my song, praising my Savior all the day long.”
Sometimes we need to remember what our story really is. I fondly reflect back on the time the Lord arrested me in my lonely apartment and forgave my sin. But, the cares of this world soon bound me up again, and I was too weak to stand for Jesus.
So the Lord visited me again 9 months later and filled me with His Spirit. That’s the day that my story really began to take shape. Christ has been my story ever since. What’s your story?
Jesus had just made some amazing predictions of what would transpire in the last days in Luke 21. To emphasize the value of these predictions, Jesus said, “Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away” (Luke 21:33). I wonder if “My words” is referring to this prophecy, or if He was referring to everything He said when on the earth. We could interpret it either way.
But, if we believe that Jesus’s words were life-giving in nature, then we can interpret it that everything He said has life. I believe everything He said may not be referring to you or I in our current situation. However, I also believe there is life in those words for each of us. So, words He spoke back then can explode with life to us today as the Spirit interprets them.
Therefore, I believe the life principles His words give are effective life words today. I read the red looking between the lines, and in context, to receive hope from my Savior. And He rarely lets me down. Spend a couple of minutes today reading something from the gospels and see how His ancient words speak life to your problems today.
Jesus had an encounter with a demon-possessed man in a synagogue. He ordered the demon out and the man was delivered. It apparently was a dramatic deliverance because of what followed next:
“All the people were amazed and said to each other, ‘What is this teaching? With authority and power He gives orders to evil spirits and they come out!’ And the news about Him spread throughout the surrounding area” (Luke 4:36-37).
Notice that the thing that captured people’s amazement was the mystery behind this Jesus. No one ever figured out the answers to these questions. People are still asking the same questions about Him.
The disciples asked a similar question when Jesus calmed the storm: “What manner of man is this, that the winds and waves obey Him?”
The mystery of Jesus can never be resolved because He is beyond finding out. He will always remain a mystery. And we will continue to search Him out, learning one little aspect of Him at a time (at a time of God’s choosing).
“All spoke well of Him and were amazed at the gracious words that came from His lips. ‘Isn’t this Joseph’s son?’ they asked…All the people in the synagogue were furious when they heard this. They got up, drove Him out of the town, and took Him to the brow of the hill on which the town was built, in order to throw Him down the cliff” (Luke 4:22, 28-29).
How quickly people change their minds. First all spoke well of Him. Then, after just a few comments, all were furious. Its kind of like public opinion of a President. If the President tells people what they like, we all love him. But if he acts what we don’t like, we’ll be furious with him.
Jesus didn’t pull any punches. He said it like it was. He could’ve left well enough alone, but He had to push a little deeper, go a little further, press a little harder. Jesus will never be happy just leaving us where we are. He’s on a rescue mission for your soul. When He gets close to the wound, we begin to squirm.
But He doesn’t do this to hurt us, but to heal us. Trust His gentle touch.
David Paul Tripp, in his book Dangerous Calling: Confronting the Unique Challenges of Pastoral Ministry, recounts a story from the early days of his pastoring a church in Scranton, Pennsylvania. Seminary had prepared him for the academics of preaching, but not the emotional struggles that ministry offers. Discouraged and disillusioned, he announced his resignation from ministry to pursue a teaching career.
On his way out the door that Sunday, he was met by the oldest man in the church. He approached and asked if they could talk. “Paul,” he said, “we know that you’re a bit immature and need to grow up. We know you are a man with weaknesses, but where is the church going to get mature pastors if immature pastors leave?”
He repented and stayed on in that church. Where are the old men and women with that level of maturity today? Let’s encourage the weak (immature) instead of judging them. Growth takes time.
Several days ago ISIS terrorists in Libya beheaded 21 Coptic Christians. At least they let the cameras role while doing the grisly act, and allowed them to cry out their testimony: “Oh, Jesus.” The terrorists dedicated the beheadings to “The Nations of the Cross”.
What should our response be? In America we have two choices, we can stick our heads in the ground and hope that if we ignore them they’ll go away. Or, we can take the hint and rise up as Christians and stand up for the cross. I’ve decided that this is a wake-up call from God. I’m going back into my box at home and digging out my cross on a chain and my cross lapel pin. I’ve decided that I will exhibit the cross for all to see. That’s one way I can stand up and honor the martyrs whose lives were extinguished because of their faith.
Come and join me in the rebellion. Dig out those crosses and stand up for what you believe.
Here’s another refrigerator verse to remember: “As for you, because of the blood of my covenant with you, I will free your prisoners from the waterless pit. Return to your fortress, you prisoners of hope; even now I announce that I will restore twice as much to you” (Zechariah 9:12).
Here’s another name for believers: “Prisoners of Hope“. Its what we call ourselves after we’ve been delivered from the waterless pit. Its a name He gives to those who are under the blood of the cross.
And he announces that whatever the enemy has stolen away, he will restore double as he did with Job.
You can’t get away from the Hope He has placed within you. You are bound to that Hope that is in Jesus Christ.