August 6, 2017
Today’s Text and Thought of Encouragement:
“Are you tired? Worn out?,,,Come to Me. Get away with Me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with Me and work with Me – watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with Me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”
Rest In Him
“He who hath led will lead
All through the wilderness;
He who hath fed will feed;
He who hath blessed will bless;
He who hath heard thy cry
Will never close His ear;
He who hath marked thy faintest sigh
Will not forget thy tear.
He loveth always, faileth never;
So rest on Him today, forever.”
Frances Ridley Havergal
Today’s Study Texts:
“He then led them out of the city over to Bethany. Raising His hands He blessed them, and while blessing them, took His leave, being carried up to heaven.”
The Message Bible
“Use Even Me”
“God delights to increase the faith of His children. We ought, instead of wanting no trials before victory, no exercise for patience, to be willing to take them from God’s hand as a means. Trials, obstacles, difficulties, and sometimes defeats, are the very food of faith.”
Have there been times in my life when the road I was walking seemed so very long and trying?
In what ways have I witnessed God’s blessings poured out upon my life?
“I exhort you and beseech you in the compassion of Christ, faint not, weary not. There is a great necessity of heaven; you must have it. Think it is not easy; for it is a steep ascent to eternal glory.”
“Keep yourself as a pilgrim and a stranger here in this world, as one to whom the world’s business counts but little. Keep your heart free, and always lift it up to God.”
Thomas á Kempis
I have to believe that as Jesus led His followers toward Bethany, their steps may have slowed a little and the conversation been a little muted. The disciples must have had an idea that their time on earth with Jesus was coming to a close.
As Dr. Luke touchingly shares, Jesus didn’t leave without giving His closest followers another sign of His tender care. In Luke 24: 50, we read that Jesus “lifted up His hands, and blessed them.” I checked the Greek meaning of the word “blessed” as used in this passage of Scripture and here’s what I found. The word êulôgêõ means to speak well of, to praise and invoke a benediction of thanks. Interestingly, this Greek word is where we get our English word, “eulogy” which means a laudatory or a praise worthy tribute either oral or written.
Probably many of us think of the word “eulogy” and relate it to part of a memorial or funeral service. Often a close friend is asked to “eulogize” the person who has died. The fact is, as a person who has done a great deal of writing in my life, when my father died, my family asked me to write his “eulogy.” I called it a “Tribute to Daddy-Boy,” my personal name for my father. It took someone who was close to my dad to give the hundreds gathered at his funeral a closer insight into what my dad was all about. So I wrote about some of the moments in his life that no one but the closest would have experienced.
Just for a moment, let your mind wander to Bethany and let’s listen to the blessing or eulogy Jesus bestowed upon His followers. I’ll tell you what we won’t hear. Unlike what we sometimes find spoken – cruel and harsh words and unkind remarks about others, Jesus didn’t bring up to Peter the fact of his denial. He didn’t tell Thomas to get a hold of himself and not be such a doubting person. He didn’t remind Peter, James and John that they fell asleep in Gethsemane when He asked them to pray for Him. You might be wondering why I share these faults. The reason is very simple. Sometimes it is easy for us to be blinded by our own faults – our lack of faith, our unkind spirit, and our inability to persevere in the toughest of times. Unfortunately, when we become focused on what we are lacking, we can become blinded to the blessings Jesus wants to pour out upon our lives. We are deaf to His words of thanks that we were willing to hang on even when the road was rough. If we only think of how incapable we are to carry out the ministry of service Jesus has entrusted us with, we may too easily forget that His final blessing included the promise of power, unlike anything we have seen before.
So there in Bethany as Jesus raised His hands in blessing over His followers, if we will listen carefully, I believe we will hear loving words filled with gratitude to those who chose to walk with Him. We will hear Jesus’ inspiring promise that all the power in Christ will be bestowed upon His children down through time. We will not wonder how we will accomplish all that Christ has planned for our lives for we will be empowered by Jesus’ command, “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you” (Matthew 28: 20, K.J.V.). This is an impressive blessing left upon the lives of the disciples as well as upon your life and mine.
However, there’s more that Jesus told His followers and to me these are some of the most comforting words Jesus spoke because this promise reaches down, right into the lives of all God’s children throughout time – even today in Transformation Garden, “Surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” This is one of those times when the contemporary language of The Message Bible really strikes a cord in my heart: “I’ll be with you as you do this, day after day after day, right up to the end of the age”(Matthew 28: 20).
We can all relate to those times in our lives when the road is long and “day after day after day” as we press forward on our individual journey through life, we may struggle to feel the “Hand” that guides or to see the “Footsteps” ahead of us. Let us never forget this promise, a blessing shared by Jesus, “I will be with you, not just today, but down to the last day.” As commentator Matthew Henry explains, “Jesus assures (His followers) that they will have His spiritual presence continued to them without intermission. Wherever we are Christ is near us.”
In the words of Washington Gladden:
“O Master, let me walk with Thee
In lowly paths of service free;
Tell me Thy secret; help me bear
The strain of toil, the fret of care…
Teach me Thy patience; still with
Thee in closer, dearer company,
In work that keeps faith sweet and strong,
In trust that triumphs over wrong;
In hope that sends a shining ray
Far down the future’s broadening way;
In peace that only Thou canst give, -
With Thee, O Master, let me live!”
Use Even Me
“Lord, speak to me, that I may speak
In living echoes of Thy tone,
As Thou hast sought, so let me seek
Thy erring children lost and lone…
O strengthen me, that while I stand
Firm on the Rock, and strong in Thee,
I may stretch out a loving hand
To wrestlers with the troubled sea.
O teach me, Lord, that I may teach
The precious things Thou dest impart;
And wing my words, that they may reach
The hidden depths of many a heart…
O fill me with Thy fullness, Lord,
Until my very heart overflows
In kindling thought and glowing word,
Thy love to tell, Thy praise to show.
O use me, Lord, use even me
Just as Thou wilt and when, and where;
Until Thy blessed face I see,
Thy rest, Thy joy, Thy glory share.”
Frances Ridley Havergal
Dorothy Valcárcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
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