July 30, 2017
Today’s Text and Thought of Encouragement:
“You are my refuge and my shield,
I have put my hope in Your word…
Sustain me according to your promise,
and I will live;
do not let my hopes be dashed.
Uphold me, and I will be delivered.”
Commitment to Hope
“Loving God, I bring my life to You.
Help me live as You would choose.
Creative God, I present my gifts to You.
Help me work to bring beauty to the world.
Compassionate God, I open my heart to You.
Help me feel the needs of others.
Ever-present God, I entrust my soul to You.
Help me commit to justice and peace.
Healing God, I give You my wounds.
Help me grow in Your love.
Empowering God, I seek Your strength.
Help me strive to become like You.
Nurturing God, I need Your truth.
Help me live as one with hope.”
Louise Margaret Granahan
Today’s Study Texts:
“Then (Jesus) said, ‘Everything I told you while I was with you comes to this: All the things written about Me in the Law of Moses, in the Prophets, and in the Psalms have to be fulfilled.’”
“The Lens Through Which We Look”
“The human life of Jesus, brief and broken as it was, has realized, once and for all, the truths of eternity. Jesus of Nazareth gave us by life and teaching, by death and resurrection, the moral and spiritual principles which rule the universe of God.”
H. Wheeler Robinson
How has Jesus’ life on earth helped me to understand my heavenly Father in a clearer manner?
“The sages and heroes of history are receding from us, and history contracts the record of their deeds into a narrow page. But time has no power over the name and deeds and words of Jesus Christ.”
“We do not need Christ to tell us that the world is full of trouble. But we do need His experience of history if its troubles are not to be meaningless. In His life, death and resurrection, history comes to focus.”
Eugene H. Peterson
Not long ago, I saw a bird in the juniper tree in my front yard which had bright plumage but was not something I recognized. The vibrant yellow, interspersed with radiant red feathers made the fine fellow impossible to miss. However, in order to correctly identify the bird, I quickly grabbed my binoculars which I try to keep close at hand for occasions just like this one.
Much to my surprise, when I put the binoculars up to my eyes, I couldn’t see anything well. After doing a little research, I uncovered the fact that my dear husband Jim had been using the equipment to help him check out some birds he found interesting. And since he needs a much stronger adjustment to get the lens in focus than I do, the visual aid was set for his sight not mine.
With a quick twist of the knob, I soon had a clear picture focused in on the gorgeous Western Tanager who was enjoying the habitat around our house.
As I shared with you yesterday, before returning to our Old Testament studies, I felt impressed to take some time to look at not only the events which transpired just before Jesus left earth, but also the special advice He chose to leave with His followers – especially the individuals who He had called to bear witness to His life of loving ministry.
To help us gain a fuller understanding of Jesus’ teachings to those who would give a personal testimony about His life, we need to go to the end of the book of Luke.
While I’ve read this book before, it is within the context of our studies here in Transformation Garden that I was provided with a completely new insight. Through God’s providential leading and in answer to my simple prayer regarding where our studies should lead us, I found my answer as to why we need to more fully examine Jesus’ words and actions just before He left this earth. And to do this, I needed to adjust the lens through which I was looking. Why? So that when we returned to our Old Testament devotionals, we would do so by following the template of Jesus’ words – His instructions that the messages left by Moses and the Prophets as well as the Psalms were written to point to the monumental day when Emmanuel, “God With Us” would come to earth. As John Taylor so thoughtfully writes, “We call Mary’s child ‘Emmanuel’ because we see in Him the God who has always been with us, always in the midst. There is no need for Him to intervene as a stranger from the outside world. He is already here.” As we study Jesus’ life and begin to comprehend the truths in the words He spoke, all Scripture, from Genesis1 to the very last words found in Revelation 22 helps us develop a clarity not present before. It’s as if we turned the knob on our binoculars and all of a sudden, what was blurry, becomes clear. What we could not comprehend before becomes understood. In her book The Vision of His Glory, Anne Graham Lotz makes this very point when she writes, “God has revealed Himself to us through Jesus Christ, and Jesus is revealed to us through the Bible. Therefore, one of the greatest treasures to be derived from Bible-reading is knowing God through focusing on the attributes of Christ – attributes that then become a rich source for our praise.”
Just for a few moments, put yourself in the presence of Jesus along with His earthly followers. As you do, listen to Jesus’ own words – recorded for you and me:
1. “Jesus eventually came to His hometown, Nazareth, and did there what He had done elsewhere in Galilee – entered the synagogue and stood up to read from the Hebrew Scriptures. The synagogue attendant gave Him the scroll of the prophet Isaiah, and Jesus unrolled it to the place where Isaiah had written these words: ‘The Spirit of the Lord the Eternal One is on Me. Why: Because the Eternal designated Me to be His representative to the poor, to preach good news to them. He sent Me to tell those who are held captive that they can now be set free, and to tell the blind that they can now see. He sent Me to liberate those held down by oppression. In short, the Spirit is upon Me to proclaim that now is the time; this is the jubilee season of the Eternal One’s grace.’”
The Voice Bible
2. “Jesus – I’ve been telling you all along, that everything written about Me in the Hebrew Scriptures must be fulfilled – everything from the Law of Moses to the Prophets to the Psalms. Then He opens their minds so they can comprehend the meaning of the Hebrew Scriptures.”
The Voice Bible
Throughout Jesus’ time on earth, it’s as if He is saying to His followers, “You need to keep the words of Scripture, which you have heard read in the past, the books of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms in focus through the lens of the life you are witnessing…the life in your presence.” For as Jesus told His disciples, “If you have seen Me, you have seen the Father.” I love the way poet Wendy Ross-Barker helps us get our view in focus when she writes about how we more clearly see God through the life of Jesus.
“Down to earth Jesus, in You God is known,
By Your teaching and healing, His love You have shown,
By words that speak truth and by challenging wrong,
The powerless find hope and the weak are made strong.
Down to earth Jesus, now hidden from view,
Your voice is unheard and no hand can touch You,
And yet, through all those who still follow Your way,
You live and reach out to the world of today.
Down to earth Jesus, who prayed for us then,
Come and join us with You and the Father again.”
“Welcome, all wonders in one sight!
Eternity shut in a span.
Summer in winter. Day in night.
Heaven in earth, and God in man.
Great little One! Whose all-embracing birth
Lifts earth to heaven, and stoops heaven to earth.”
Jesus Is All The World to Me
“Jesus is all the world to me,
My life, my joy, my all;
He is my strength from day to day,
Without Him I would fall.
When I am sad to Him I go,
No other one can cheer me so;
When I am sad He makes me glad,
He’s my Friend.
Jesus is all the world to me,
I want no better friend;
I trust Him now, I’ll trust Him when
Life’s fleeting days shall end.
Beautiful life with such a Friend;
Beautiful life that has no end;
Eternal life, eternal joy,
He’s my Friend.”
Dorothy Valcárcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
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