This is the Sunday before the Fourth of July. It doesn’t
seem possible that we have progressed thus far into what is much more than the beginning of the new year of 2021. Let’s continue to place our nation in the Lord’s hands and commend all institutions and persons into God’s keeping.
Today we continue our present Bible Study series, “Ezekiel on Steroids” at 9:45 a.m. followed by JoyfulWorship at 11:00 a.m. – “Live” in the HCLC sanctuary!The Scriptures
“…because of the Lord’s great love, we are not consumed, for His compassions never fail…they are new every morning, great is thy faithfulness…I say to myself, ‘The Lord is myportion, therefore I will wait for Him…” (Lamentations 3:22-24)
“…for His anger lasts only a moment…but His favor lasts a lifetime…weeping may remain for a night…but rejoicing comes in the morning…”(Psalm 30:5)
“…and they didn’t do as we had expected, but they gave themselvesto the Lord, and then to us in keeping with God’s will…” (2 Corinthians 8:5)
“…when she heard about Jesus, she came up behind Him in the crowd, and touched His cloak, because she thought, ‘If I just touch His clothes, I will be healed.’ Immediately her bleeding stopped and she felt in herbody that she was freed from her suffering…” (Mark 5:27-29)
Would you kindly join me in prayer this morning?
Dear Lord, once again, in the beauty of worship this morning, we askthat your Holy Spirit would so move us to love, and compassion, and service that we may be the “hands and feet” of the Lord Jesus in ourcommunity, our fellowship of faith, and our home. Teach us to prayaright, to reflect upon your ways, and come to know and live lives ofblessing for all in our midst, and also afar. We pray this in Jesus’precious name. Amen.
Grace and peace to you! As the sun shines brightly overhead this morning, may the Son of God shine profoundly deep inside each and every heart. What a privilege to share the thoughtful wisdom and the uplifting message of the Holy Bible on this great day! Maythe Lord Jesus Christ dwell richly in you as you begin the day!
The Scriptures this morning are truly remarkable.
I’d like to take the time to share a few insights in passing as we gravitate toward the “heart of the matter” in the Lord’s teaching for us today.
The historical background of the Old Testament passage has beena huge surprise to many. The passage includes the following phrases,
“…because of the Lord’s great love, we are not consumed…”
…and… “His compassions never fail”
“great is your faithfulness”…
These words definitely affirm the Prophet Jeremiah’s trust in the Lord God of Israel. The surprise lies in the fact that Jeremiah makes this affirmation during the total destruction of Jerusalem in 586 BC by King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon. The Prophet is present. He sees Solomon’s temple destroyed, the temple priests being slaughtered on the altar, children being eaten by their parents because of terrible starvation. It was a horrible experience. It was the most disastrous event in the history of God’s relationship with Israel, with the exception of the death of Christ on the cross.
I remember singing the wonderful hymn, “Great Is Thy Faithfulness”and receiving inspiration from the words taken from the Scriptures…but for decades, I didn’t understand the circumstances Jeremiah faced when making that affirmation. When I realized what wasbehind these phrases, the background, I realized my understanding of faith needed to be enlarged. Two verses from the New Testament helped me to make that amplification of my faith life…
“…and we know that in all things God works for the good of thosewho love Him and are called according to His purpose…”(Romans 8:28)
“…Rejoice in the Lord always, and again I say, Rejoice…let your gentleness be evident to all…the Lord is near…Do not be anxiousabout anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, withthanksgiving, present your requests to God…and the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your heartsand your minds in Christ Jesus…”(Philippians 4:4-7)
Before that, I praised God for the things that pleased me andmade me feel happy, affirmed, and satisfied. On the other hand,when I was displeased, disappointed, and left out in the cold,I would mumble under my breath and curse my situation. I wouldfeel abandoned by God…and of course…deny it. After all, whywould God ever allow bad things to happen, especially to me.In my own way, I would literally chew God out, and question Hislove for me. After all, why do bad things happen to good people!
I learned through the affirmation of the Prophet Jeremiah to praiseGod, not only in the “feel good” moments, but also, when I thoughtI was at the end of my rope…when I would normally “take the lowerroad” like everybody else, without a substantial faith principle, to speak to my situation. When things are seemingly good and alsopleasant I’ve learned to praise and thank the Lord. When thingsare seemingly bad, foreboding, and unpleasant, I still praise andthank the Lord. The reason for this is…I can’t often see the largerpicture involved. As a person of faith, I trust that the Lord allowswhat happens as part of His perfect plan for my life and those around me, indeed, those that I pray for. I have learned that thereis no failure with God. His wisdom is more than remarkable.
In accord with this understanding of genuine faith, not mere religion,mind you, I’m often reminded by Psalm 30:5b, that:
“…weeping may remain for a night…but rejoicing cometh in the morning…”
Without a firm, tested faith life — that is trying out this conceptof what it means to live spiritually while participating fully in thereality of our daily lives — we ride the “roller-coaster” of lifeemotionally that so many millions do, who, reject faith, living ignorantly in self-imposed darkness, or being confused about the difference between the trappings of religion, and then, genuine faith.
We note something in passing…
Carrying this spiritual notion a bit further, the Apostle Paulexpresses surprise regarding the Macedonian Christianswho didn’t do what he had expected (that is, falling short ofwhat would be his way), but rather, gave themselves to placethe Lord first in their lives and then to serve Paul and thosewho accompanied him. What an important consideration forthose of us who follow Christ to place Jesus first, above all.For several of us this would be a frightening challenge…tosurprise our sisters and brothers of faith by our priority ofpleasing Christ before all else. Imagine…
…astounding our neighbors by our successful attempts toserve them, beyond the neighborly thing to do…
…sharing with others the story of our faith journey to arriveat a personal relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ…couldwe do that without sounding like a religious fanatic or likesomebody who was mentally unbalanced…
…a truly frightening thing to consider…inviting our neighborsand friends to come to church with us…(God forbid!!!)…Is itpossible in 2021 that we could develop a knack for doing this…
…keeping our church building and property in such greatcondition that all who pass by are greatly impressed bythis expression of our respect for the Lord…(this is nota “dig” upon any particular congregation or property)…
…giving a tenth of our income to our local church andworking as John Wesley used to do with each passing year to increase the percentage…(this is the real solid test to any person moving from “nominal participation” to the faith principle of the Scriptures)…
I hear the question being asked…How can we grow ourchurch fellowship? The answer from one of the greatestchurch stewardship leaders was…invite the people you think would be great, effective members of your church to supper at your home…
[…such frightening thoughts…]
Go ahead, church people…surprise your church leaders…!!!
I am captivated by the heart-rending narrative by the Gospel writer Mark (5:25-34) regarding the woman suffering with bleeding for twelve years. She was convinced that if she could touch His clothes she’d be healed. I’ve known souls who thought such of contemporary faith healers we see on television. I can understand the pitfall of folks who deeply desire personal healing, and then, when they think they are trusting God, they become disappointed. When healing doesn’t come, they go on their way. I prefer those who accept their circumstances and proceed to know that God is good and, if He so chooses, they will recover from infirmity. If they must go the route of suffering, and its eventuality, they do so willingly. The story of suffering and pain is still theultimate mystery for me after all these years of pastoral service.
Nonetheless, I am totally moved by the healing of this woman.I’m amazed at her conviction that Jesus would heal her, and thenconsidering the masses around Jesus, all she’d need to do is totouch His garment to be healed. As mentioned before, I am captivated by the narrative. There’s not a bone in my body that doesn’t believe that this encounter took place. I get a powerfulfeeling from reading this passage that encourages me in mywalk and opens my mind and heart to accept the healing powerof Jesus to heal that part of each of us that needs wholeness.
Jesus’ comment, when she does so, haunts me…with all thethousands crowding around Him…He asks…
“Who touched me?”
The text relates in regard to this awareness:
“…at once Jesus realized that power had gone out from Him…”
What a statement by Mark…
“Immediately her bleeding stopped and she felt in her bodythat she was freed from her suffering…”
I love that sentence.
It’s so good to be uplifted by the power of the Word. May Jesusheal each one of us this day and those following.
Great is Thy faithfulness!
May the Lord bless each of us to know that there is a healing power in the Lord that goes beyond all reason and understanding. Trust in Him. He is worthy.