Numbers 26-27; Mark 8:1-21
It was a bit unusual, but three times in one day I heard the same song. In the early afternoon, I attended a hymnsing at a home for the elderly. As part of her prayer at the end of our time together, Willie, one of the residents, said, “Sing with me, ‘Jesus Loves Me.’” In the evening, I attended a gathering with young people who sang it while pounding out the beat with their hands and feet. Later that evening, I received a text message on my phone with an audio recording of my 2 1/2-year-old grandniece with a sweet little voice, singing, “I am weak, but He is strong.” People in their nineties, teenagers, and a toddler all sang that song that day.
After hearing that simple song three times, I began to think the Lord might be telling me something. Actually, He gave us all this message long ago: “I love you.” We read in John 19 that He allowed people to put a crown of thorns on His head, mock Him, strike Him, strip Him, and crucify Him (vv.1-6). He had the power to stop them, but He said very little (v.11). He did it all for love’s sake to pay for our sins and to rescue us from punishment.
How much does God love us? Jesus spread out His arms and was nailed to the cross. He died for us, then rose again. That’s a precious fact for young and old.
For the Bible tells me so;
Little ones to Him belong;
They are weak but He is strong. —Warner
Have you ever felt the pain, inflicted by the Lord, at the very center of your being, deep down in the most sensitive area of your life? The devil never inflicts pain there, and neither can sin nor human emotions. Nothing can cut through to that part of our being but the Word of God. “Peter was grieved because He said to him the third time, ’Do you love Me?’ ” Yet he was awakened to the fact that at the center of his personal life he was devoted to Jesus. And then he began to see what Jesus’ patient questioning meant. There was not the slightest bit of doubt left in Peter’s mind; he could never be deceived again. And there was no need for an impassioned response; no need for immediate action or an emotional display. It was a revelation to him to realize how much he did love the Lord, and with amazement he simply said, “Lord, You know all things . . . .” Peter began to see how very much he did love Jesus, and there was no need to say, “Look at this or that as proof of my love.” Peter was beginning to discover within himself just how much he really did love the Lord. He discovered that his eyes were so fixed on Jesus Christ that he saw no one else in heaven above or on the earth below. But he did not know it until the probing, hurting questions of the Lord were asked. The Lord’s questions always reveal the true me to myself.
Oh, the wonder of the patient directness and skill of Jesus Christ with Peter! Our Lord never asks questions until the perfect time. Rarely, but probably once in each of our lives, He will back us into a corner where He will hurt us with His piercing questions. Then we will realize that we do love Him far more deeply than our words can ever say.
|Scurrying or Seated?
“She had a sister called Mary, who was seated at the Lord’s feet, listening to His word. But Martha was distracted with all her preparations.” Luke 10:39-40 (NASB)
I glanced at the clock on the wall. How was it 11:45 already? Where had the time gone? It was nearly noon and I wasn’t even halfway through my to-do list for the morning.
My day had started hours earlier when I had bounded out of bed with a goal of knocking off a bevy of tasks around the house, on the computer and in my little hometown. Scrawled out on a baby-blue legal pad, my plan included things to cook, calls to make and errands to run.
I’d started whittling down my list as soon as my family left for school and work. Now at mid-day, I still had four or five items left undone and no way to accomplish them before my 1 p.m. dentist appointment to get a crown on my tooth.
My spirit sank. What’s my problem? I wondered. Did I underestimate how long each task would take? Or did I overestimate my ability to execute them quickly? Or, perhaps, it was a little bit of both.
I also hadn’t factored in the interruptions. A text from my daughter needing help on a tax form. An email from a friend wanting a recipe for company coming over later that day. A neighbor whose computer was on the blink and needed to borrow ours to make an order online. More distractions and delays.
A little nervous about my dentist appointment, I called my friend Mary to ask for prayer. As we visited, I shared the details of my frustrating morning, and asked how her day was going. She replied that she hadn’t completed what she’d hoped to either, concluding, “But I had a good long time alone with God this morning praying and reading my Bible which is what I needed most, so it’s okay.”
My heart sank as I realized my problem: I hadn’t taken time for the most important detail of the day. Spending time with God wasn’t even on my radar. Maybe if I had spent time with the Lord I wouldn’t have felt so much frustration at my lack of productivity.
Our key verse today tells of another woman who put chores ahead of spending time with Jesus. The story in Luke 10 tells of two sisters and how they spent their time when Jesus came to visit. Martha was busy scurrying to get to the end of her “to-do list,” but Mary chose a different path. She settled herself at Jesus’ feet, soaking in His words and His presence.
Later on we read that when Martha complained to the Lord that Mary wasn’t helping her, He replied, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and bothered about so many things; but only one thing is necessary, for Mary has chosen the good part, which shall not be taken away from her” (Luke 10:41-42, NASB).
There’s no doubt Martha’s sister Mary also had things to do. So did my friend Mary. But in the case of each Mary, they chose to do the best thing first: position themselves where they could clearly hear from the Lord.
Perhaps today we can set aside our to-do lists until we’ve mimicked the Marys. Let’s vow to meet with God before we attempt to meet the challenges of the day. Yes, maybe that’s the key. Let’s stop scurrying and be seated instead.
There is always plenty of room at His feet.
Dear Lord, help me to take time today to meet with You before I try to tackle the tasks of the day. Give me the perspective that You are more important than my never-ending list of tasks. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Be ready in the morning, and come… present thyself there to me in the top of the mount. And no man shall come up with thee (Exod. 34:2-3).
The morning watch is essential. You must not face the day until you have faced God, nor look into the face of others until you have looked into His. You cannot expect to be victorious, if the day begins only in your own strength.
Face the work of every day with the influence of a few thoughtful, quiet moments with your heart and God. Do not meet other people, even those of your own home, until you have first met the great Guest and honored Companion of your life–Jesus Christ.
Meet Him alone. Meet Him regularly. Meet Him with His open Book of counsel before you; and face the regular and the irregular duties of each day with the influence of His personality definitely controlling your every act.
Begin the day with God!
He is thy Sun and Day!
His is the radiance of thy dawn;
To Him address thy lay.
Sing a new song at morn!
Join the glad woods and hills;
Join the fresh winds and seas and plains,
Join the bright flowers and rills.
Sing thy first song to God!
Not to thy fellow men;
Not to the creatures of His hand,
But to the glorious One.
Take thy first walk with God!
Let Him go forth with thee;
By stream, or sea, or mountain path,
Seek still His company.
Thy first transaction be
With God Himself above;
So shall thy business prosper well,
And all the day be love.
The men who have done the most for God in this world have been early upon their knees. Matthew Henry used to be in his study at four, and remain there till eight; then, after breakfast and family prayer, he used to be there again till noon; after dinner, he resumed his book or pen till four, and spent the rest of the day in visiting his friends.
Doddridge himself alludes to his “Family Expositor” as an example of the difference of rising between five and seven, which, in forty years, is nearly equivalent to ten years more of life.
Dr. Adam Clark’s “Commentary” was chiefly prepared very early in the morning. Barnes’ popular and useful “Commentary” has been also the fruit of “early morning hours.”
Simeon’s “Sketches” were chiefly worked out between four and eight.