“And when he hath found it, he layeth it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he cometh home, he calleth together his friends and neighbours, saying unto them, Rejoice with me; for I have found my sheep which was lost” (Luke 15:5-6).
A shepherd writes: Walking through my field on a wintery morning, I met with a lamb I thought was dead, but taking it up, I found it barely alive; the cruel mother had almost starved it to death. I put it into my arms and brought it into my house. There I rubbed its starved limbs, warmed it by the fireside, and fed it with warm milk. Soon it revived. First it feared me, but afterwards it thoroughly loved me. I fed it with my own hand, so it followed me wherever I went, bleating after me whenever it saw me, and was always happy when it could frisk around me, but never so pleased as when I would carry it in my arms. Jesus is a shepherd, the Shepherd of souls, and of Him it is said, “He shall feed His flock like a shepherd: He shall gather the lambs with His arm, and carry them in His bosom, and shall gently lead those that are with young” (Isaiah 40:11).
For many of us, when we flip the calendar to the month of September it seems like summer is over, vacation behind us, and it’s time to get serious about life again. Time to settle down and get ready to go back to school, maybe a new job, perhaps even a move to a new location. Sometimes it can be a little overwhelming and frightening.
Whatever changes September brings, remember, the Lord is with you. David had lots of changes and scary experiences in his life, too. On one occasion he prayed: “When my heart is overwhelmed: lead me to the Rock that is higher than I” (Psalm 61:2). He also prayed, “Preserve me, O God: for in Thee do I put my trust” (Psalm 16:1). In fact, David uses the expression “preserve me” six times in the Psalms, and the word “preserve” in other contexts many times. He felt the need of the preservation of His God, and often prayed that he would be “preserved.”
“Christ Jesus…humbled Himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross” (Philippians 2:5,8).
“Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree” (Galatians 3:13).
Many people in the history of man have been willing to give their lives for a noble cause, or for the protection of their country, or for their friends or family. But Christ gave His life voluntarily for His enemies. And not only that, but He willingly submitted to death by crucifixion—a long, slow, painful and extremely shamefully humiliating death.
The cross is despised and mocked by those who have no love for the Lord Jesus. “For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness” (1 Corinthians 1:18). However the rest of the verse says: “But unto us which are saved it is the power of God.” No wonder Paul said, “God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Galatians 6:14).
Among most people there is a liking for those things which are homemade. This is quite understandable in most things, for there is the personal skill and touch involved which imparts flavor and quality to them. There is a tremendous danger though, if we try to apply this to the soul’s salvation. Soul sickness will never respond to any human treatment. No home remedy will ever put away sin!
How sad it is that men still prefer homemade recipes to heaven-sent remedies. The bitten Israelites had but to look at the serpent of brass to live.
So today, there is no need for, nor accomplishment and value in, self treatment, for God says, “Look unto Me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth” (Isaiah 45:22). What more can the poor guilty sinner need than to know the experience of the Psalmist, who declared of the Lord, “Who forgiveth all thine iniquities; who healeth all thy diseases” (Psalm 103:3).
Q. Why is it so hard to pray, and what can we do to be more consistent with our prayer-life?
A. The enemy, Satan, does not want us to express our dependence and confidence in God our Father and the Lord Jesus, which is what we do when we pray. He knows that a prayerless life is a powerless life.
Another thing that can rob us of time spent in prayer is the busy pace of life. We need to discipline our prayer life, like Daniel. “He kneeled upon his knees three times a day, and prayed” (Daniel 6:10). Daily, consistent prayer was the habit of his life.
Something else that will keep us from prayer is sin and a bad conscience. When we allow sin in our life it breaks communion and we don’t feel comfortable to come and speak to Him. Just like a difficulty coming between you and a friend, so it is with the “Friend that sticketh closer than a brother” (Proverbs 18:24).
It takes constancy and “purpose of heart” to keep up our prayer life. The Lord said to His followers, “Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation” (Matthew 26:41).
“Who knoweth,” said Mordecai to Esther, “whether thou art come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” (Esther 4:14).
Perhaps today some daunting, difficult task is facing you, or will suddenly be presented to you. What will be your reaction? There is a very natural tendency to say, “I can’t do that.” If however, we are made aware that this is God’s purpose for us, then we ought to attempt it.
I remember once reading these words, “When God has told you what to do, He has already equipped you for what you can do.”
It is an honor, a privilege, and a solemn responsibility to be called to serve God in any way, whether great or small. We may always count upon power to do what we are commanded of God to do. “Moses stretched out his hand over the sea: and the Lord caused the sea to go back” (Exodus 14:21). God works through means, and maybe today He means to work through you.
“And Hezekiah received the letter of the hand of the messengers, and read it: and Hezekiah went up into the house of the Lord, and spread it before the Lord” (2 Kings 19:14).
This was the wisest thing Hezekiah could have done. He had received a threatening letter from a mighty king. In 2 Chronicles 32:17 we read that this king, Sennacherib, “wrote also letters to rail on the Lord God of Israel.”
Here we have a picture of Hezekiah asking God to read his correspondence and help him reply. How often have we been at a loss to know how to answer a letter, an email or any other form of correspondence? Surely here in this incident we are encouraged to bring everything to God in prayer.
If you read the whole story in 2 Kings 19 you will see how God took the whole matter into His own hands, and sent Isaiah the prophet with a most reassuring answer.
Perhaps today you are saying, “I don’t know the answer to this correspondence.” Show it to the Lord, and ask Him to help you.
Yesterday we noticed how the Lord Jesus completely and fully glorified God here on planet earth. Now the believer is left here to do the same thing. The Lord prayed, “And all Mine are Thine, and Thine are Mine; and I am glorified in them. And now I am no more in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to Thee. Holy Father, keep through Thine own name those whom Thou hast given Me, that they may be one, as we are” (John 17:10-11).
Just as the Lord glorified God on the earth, so we are to reflect the glories of Christ from day to day. We can only do this as we are occupied with the Lord and His glories. That is simply what the Apostle Paul was saying when he wrote: “But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord” (2 Corinthians 3:18). How much will this be true of you this week? Will others see Christ reflected in your life?