Melodies from the Heart
A cherished song can be a whisper from the Lord. Have you ever heard a song that brought you back to a certain moment in time? For me, it’s Ave Maria. It was one my mom’s favorites; it will always remind me of her.
One of my fondest memories is when she was in the hospital after she fell and broke her hip. After multiple surgeries, she ended up on a respirator for about a week. She began to regain her consciousness and was moved out of ICU. My brother Tony and I followed her into her new room.
Once her nurses left the room, Tony started to sing Ave Maria to Mom. As his tender, yet powerful voice reached the notes as only he could do, tears trickled down my face as mom acknowledged his presence.
When I went to the bathroom to dry my eyes, I was surprised to see one of the housekeepers standing there. With tears welling up, she mumbled, “Who—who is that singing? His voice, …it’s so beautiful.”
I told her that it was my younger brother Tony. As she continued to wipe her eyes, she said, “God knew that I needed to hear him today. I’m not usually on this floor,” she informed me, “but my supervisor sent me up here to clean this room today.”
You see, Beloved, when we exercise the gifts that God places within us, He touches people we may never know. Tony had no idea that he was ministering to one of the gals in the hospital. He just did what was natural to him.
Sometimes we think we are not qualified to do what God has called us to do. But whether it’s speaking or singing or teaching, or whatever He has called us to do, either to a crowd of thousands or to an audience of one, He just wants us to respond and He will do the rest.
Let us catch a glimpse of this from 1 Samuel. The Lord was calling the young boy Samuel, “Then the Lord called Samuel. And the boy answered, “Speak, for your servant is listening” 1 Samuel 3:10 NIV. But backing up just a few verses, we read that Samuel heard the voice three different times. He thought it was the prophet, Eli who was calling him. When he approached Eli, Eli answered that it was not him, and he told Samuel to go back and lie down.
I love verse eight when Samuel hears the voice the third time and approached Eli; listen to what happens: “A third time the Lord called, “Samuel!” And Samuel got up and went to Eli and said, ‘Here I am; you called me’ Then Eli realized that the Lord was calling the boy. So, Eli told Samuel, “Go and lie down, and if he calls you, say, ‘Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.’ So, Samuel went and lay down in his place.” 1 Samuel 3:8-9 NIV
Is He calling you? Has God given a special gift to you and has He been calling you to use it for His glory?
Just as my brother was gifted with a voice to sing, God has placed a special gift inside of you too. So, as the Lord called Samuel, He calls you. He calls me. The question is, how will we respond to His calling?
Think about it. Is there something that He is asking you to do? If so, then let us respond today as young Samuel did, “Speak, for your servant is listening.”
By Debbie Holloway, crosswalk.com
“Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death – even death on a cross!” – Philippians 2:5
It is nigh impossible to be wholly truthful and also be universally liked. It is very difficult to believe strange things and be popular. It is unlikely that one who lives as a servant will draw fame and admiration from people in high places.
Thankfully, Jesus calls us neither to be universally liked, popular, famous, or admirable in the eyes of wealthy men.
But hold it – we can’t just stop there. Beware, lest we swagger with pride in the knowledge that being disliked, unpopular, and obscure will place us in high standing with our Lord. God has a distinct mission for us: to reach the world with the Gospel (that is, John 3:16). He has also set a distinct example for us to follow as we live and try to proclaim that gospel through our words and actions. All too often, however, we fall short of his example and become entirely unapproachable to the exact people we should be loving and reaching with God’s truth and love.
Was Jesus unapproachable? Did his firm stances on God’s truth leave others afraid to challenge him, ask questions, or be imperfect in his presence? Let’s look to Scripture.
1. People were also bringing babies to Jesus to have him touch them. When the disciples saw this, they rebuked them. But Jesus called the children to him and said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these” (Luke 18:15).
Not only does this infer that children were at ease in the presence of Christ, but that parents were comfortable handing their infants to this man to hold and bless! If you are a parent, you understand the implications of these verses. If not, then know: it’s a big deal to give someone your kid. Jesus lived in such a way that not only did children trust him, but parents trusted him with their children.
2. While Jesus was having dinner at Levi’s house, many tax collectors and “sinners” were eating with him and his disciples, for there were many who followed him. When the teachers of the law who were Pharisees saw him eating with the “sinners” and tax collectors, they asked his disciples: “Why does he eat with tax collectors and ‘sinners’?” On hearing this, Jesus said to them, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners” (Mark 2:15).
In this passage Jesus attracts both the wicked and the righteous – neither group seems afraid to approach him. But while the Pharisees consistently attack Jesus with purposes of trapping or confounding him, the sinners and tax collectors love to walk with him, eat with him, drink with him, listen to his words. His sermons don’t scare them away; his words aren’t laced with shame and guilt-trips. Rather, he speaks of how to please God, how to love one another, and he fascinates them by turning old notions of righteousness upside down – all in a way that makes people want to listen to him and follow him. He patiently administers to sinners as a doctor gently aids a sick man.
3. Jesus answered, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” When the young man heard this, he went away sad, because he had great wealth (Matthew 19:21).
It’s true, people did leave Jesus. People rejected him and turned away from what he had to say. But notice in this passage of the rich young ruler, Jesus did not reject him. Jesus did not turn him away – rather the man “sadly” left Jesus because his heart did not truly seek perfection by God’s standards.
Are you regarded with suspicion in the eyes of others? Do sinners keep their distance, knowing you are not a safe place for them to live imperfectly? Do you turn people away because of their reluctance to follow Kingdom standards? If so, you may need to revisit the Jesus of the Gospels.
Justification by grace
By: Charles Spurgeon
“Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.” Romans 3:24
Suggested Further Reading: Hebrews 10:11-18
God demanded of Christ the payment for the sins of all his people; Christ stood forward, and to the utmost farthing paid whate’er his people owed. The sacrifice of Calvary was not a part payment; it was not a partial exoneration, it was a complete and perfect payment, and it obtained a complete and perfect remission of all the debts of all believers that have lived, do live, or shall live, to the very end of time. On that day when Christ hung on the cross, he did not leave a single farthing for us to pay as a satisfaction to God. The whole of the demands of the law were paid down there and then by Jehovah Jesus, the great high priest of all his people. And blessed be his name, he paid it all at once too. So priceless was the ransom, so princely and generous was the price demanded for our souls, one might have thought it would have been marvellous if Christ had paid it by instalments; some of it now, and some of it then. Kings’ ransoms have sometimes been paid part at once, and part in dues afterwards, to run through years. But not so our Saviour: once for all he gave himself a sacrifice; at once he counted down the price, and said, “It is finished,” leaving nothing for him to do, nor for us to accomplish. He did not drivel out a part-payment, and then declare that he would come again to die, or that he would again suffer, or that he would again obey; but down upon the nail, to the utmost farthing, the ransom of all people was paid, and a full receipt given to them, and Christ nailed that receipt to his cross.
For meditation: Those who attempt to complete or repeat a finished piece of work insult its maker and render it useless to themselves (Galatians 5:2).
“He summoned the crowd with His disciples, and said to them, ‘If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me.’” – Mark 8:34 NASB
Crowds gathered to hear Jesus. Convinced He was a wise man, many were eager to hear Him teach, or see Him perform miracles. But how many really believed that He was the Son of God?
Jesus knew many would “fall away,” and stop following (Matthew 26:31). Even His disciples failed to understand. He explained that He would “suffer many things.” He would be rejected and killed, and “after three days rise again” (v. 31). But they didn’t understand. Peter even rebuked Him for this teaching.
But Jesus responded, “Get behind Me, Satan; for you are not setting your mind on God’s interests, but man’s” (v. 33). Then Jesus taught a fundamental truth: No one even could come after Him unless they denied themselves, took up their cross, and followed Him.
Jesus was providing a gateway to growing in faith, understanding spiritual truths, living in victory, and havingba transforming Christian life.
Many say they are Christians but do not pass this test. They assume they can follow Jesus but live like the world. But in every circumstance, Jesus calls us to take the narrow road, to lay everything aside and follow Him, wherever He leads.
God wants you to find meaning and fulfillment. He will take away your fears and worries. He wants you to overflow with joy and live in victory! The path is to deny yourself and take up your cross and follow Him.