Today’s Text and Thought of Encouragement:
1. “Let not the water flood overflow me, neither let the deep swallow me up, and let not the pit shut her mouth upon me.”
2. “But I am poor and needy; yet the Lord thinketh upon me; Thou art my help and my deliverer; make no tarrying, O my God.”
Looking Upwards in a Storm
“God of my life to thee I call,
Afflicted at thy feet I fall;
When the great water-floods prevail,
Leave not my trembling heart to fail!
Friend of the friendless, and the saint!
Where should I lodge my deep complaint?
Where but with thee, whose open door,
Invites the helpless and the poor!
Did ever mourner plead with thee,
And thou refuse that mourner’s plea?
Does not the word still fix’d remain,
That none shall seek thy face in vain?
That were a grief I could not bear,
Didst thou not hear and answer pray’r
But a pray’r-hearing, answ’ring God,
Supports me under ev’ry load.
Fair is the lot that’s cast for me!
I have an advocate with thee;
They whom the world caresses most,
Have no such privilege to boast.
Poor tho’ I am, despis’d, forgot,
Yet God, my God forgets me not;
And he is safe and must succeed,
For whom the Lord vouchsafes to plead.”
Today’s Study Text:
“For God loved the world so much that He gave His only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him may not die but have eternal life.”
Good News Bible
“Our Father’s Gift”
“To say that God is love is to say that God is the living, active, dynamic, ceaselessly desiring reality who will not let go until He has won the free response of His creation.”
What does it mean to me, personally, to know that God would have sent Jesus to earth to seek and save me if I had been the one and only “lost lamb”?
How would I describe God’s love for me?
How can I pass on God’s love to those I meet each day?
“Love divine, all loves excelling
Joy of heaven to earth come down,
Fix in us Thy humble dwelling,
All Thy faithful mercies crown.
Jesus, Thou art all compassion,
Pure unbounded love Thou art;
Visit us with Thy salvation,
Enter every trembling heart.”
“The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some (people) count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.”
Just imagine for a moment that you were one of the women (or men) who chose to follow Jesus when He was living on earth. Every day you could sit at the feet of Jesus and listen to His words. What would this be like? How would it affect your life and mine?
For the next few days we are going to probe the life of Jesus, by looking at one particular day in His ministry here on earth. On this day Jesus began to tell a story about a shepherd who dearly loved his sheep – every one of them. If this sounds familiar, it is for we find this very example, in the words of Jesus contained in Matthew 18: 11-14.
“For the Son of man is come to save that which was lost. How think ye? If a man have an hundred sheep, and one of them be gone astray, doth he not leave the ninety and nine, and goeth into the mountains, and seeketh that which is gone astray? And if so be that he find it, verily I say unto you, he rejoiceth more of that sheep, than of the ninety and nine which went not astray. Even so it is not the will of your Father which is in heaven, that one of these little ones should perish.”
How would you feel if you knew in your heart, as Jesus told this loving story, that you were the one lost lamb that God’s precious Son risked His own life to save. And closer to home, how do you and I feel today knowing that God sent His Son to rescue us from certain death?
As I have thoughtfully and prayerfully read some of the stories about Jesus’ love and care for His children here on earth, I kept returning to the familiar text, John 3: 16. After reading this passage in many different versions of the Bible, I want to share this passage with you as it appears in The Message Bible, and I’m going to add verse 17 also:
“This is how much God loved the world; He gave His Son His one and only Son. And this is why: so that no one need be destroyed. By believing in Him, anyone can have a whole and lasting life. God didn’t go to all the trouble of sending His Son merely to point an accusing finger, telling the world how bad it was. He came to help, to put the world right again.”
The Message Bible
Isn’t this beautiful? Isn’t this a life-changing message for your heart and mine? As I thought about God’s unparalleled gift, and the extreme cost of Jesus’ coming to this earth, I began to think about how I would have reacted to a gift so grand – so infinite – so unselfish!
Would I have followed Jesus? Would I have chosen to walk the narrow way? Would I have been willing to “take up the cross”?
These are the questions we should ask ourselves in the quiet time of our study. For you see, each one of us, individually, are like that one little lost sheep that the shepherd, Jesus, talked about and put His life on-the-line to save. Yes, you and I are the ones who were on the outside. And instead of letting us stand out in the cold, lost and alone, our Saviour, Jesus Christ, was sent to do for us what we had no power to do for ourselves. He came and saved us.
We find that after the toxin of sin and disobedience had destroyed the perfection found in Eden’s perfect home, instead of turning His back on His rebellious children, the Lord God came to Adam and Eve with a promise so wonderful it makes me shout with joy as I write these words where God declared to the serpent, the purveyor of evil, the devil:
“I’m declaring war between you and the Woman, between your offspring and hers. He’ll wound your head, you’ll wound his heel.”
God had a plan, formed from the foundation of the earth. And when the unthinkable happened – our Father of love was prepared. As Jesus tells us about His Father “He loved you so much, He sent Me, to bring a gift to you, to bring you home if you will only believe in Me.”
This is the great love the Father bestowed on you and me for when Jesus came to earth to redeem us -- to find those little lost lambs who had wandered from the safety of the fold, -- what a day of rejoicing in the universe that was!
There’s an old-time hymn I just love called “The Ninety and Nine.” The words were penned as a poem by Elizabeth Clephane and as you read, I pray that the message of our Saviour’s undying love and eternal longing to bring us home will fill our hearts today:
“There were ninety and nine that safely lay
In the shelter of the fold,
But one was out on the hills away,
Far off from the gates of gold;
Away on the mountains wild and bare,
Away from the tender Shepherd’s care.
‘Lord, thou hast here Thy ninety and nine;
Are they not enough for Thee?’
But the Shepherd made answer
‘One of mine has wandered away from me.
And although the road be rough and steep
I go to the desert to find my sheep.’
But none of the ransomed ever knew
how deep were the waters crossed;
Nor how dark was the night that the Lord
passed through, ere He found the sheep that was lost.
Out in the desert He heard its cry,
sick and helpless and ready to die.
‘Lord, whence are those blooddrops all the way
that mark out the mountain’s track?’
‘They were shed for one who had gone astray,
ere the Shepherd could bring (her) back.’
‘Lord, why are Thy hands so rent and torn?’
‘They are pierced tonight by many a thorn.’
But all through the mountains, thunder-riven,
And up from the rocky steep,
There rose a cry to the gate of heaven,
‘Rejoice, I have found my sheep!’
And the angels sang around the throne,
‘Rejoice for the Lord brings back His own!’”
For encouragement, take a listen to the “Grace Thrillers,” one of Jamaica’s most celebrated gospel singing groups sing the song “Ninety and Nine”.
O The Deep, Deep Love of Jesus
“O the deep, deep love of Jesus!
Vast, unmeasured, boundless, free:
Rolling as a mighty ocean
In its fullness over me.
Underneath me, all around me,
Is the current of thy love:
Leading onward, leading homeward,
To thy glorious rest above…
…O, the deep, deep love of Jesus!
Love of ev’ry love the best:
‘Tis an ocean vast of blessing,
‘Tis a haven sweet of rest
O the deep, deep love of Jesus!
‘Tis a heaven of heavens to me;
And it lifts me up to glory,
For it lifts me up to Thee.”
Samuel Trevor Francis
Dorothy Valcárcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
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