PASTORS' REFLECTIONS

 

                                                

“Jesus’ love exceeds all comprehension, but our love to Him we scarce dare mention; we may weep beneath His cross, but He wept and bled for us.” Hymn 346:  “My Redeemer, Overwhelmed”

Do you know how much Jesus loves you?

A couple of weeks ago I was touched by a hymn that we sang in church called, “My Redeemer, Overwhelmed.” It’s an oldie but goodie, written by Christian Rentas von Zinzendorf, a son of Count Zinzendorf. We sang the hymn in response to Pastor’s Sanette’s sermon on Gethsemane in which she brought to light the fact that when Jesus asked the disciples to keep watch with him during His hour of need, they could not keep their eyes open. The disciples and us might say “but our love to Him we scarce dare mention.” In repentance, we may “weep beneath His cross” but before we even did that “He wept and bled for us.”

Jesus really, really loves us. That He would take on all our sins for us and that He would also pray for us that we would not fall away from our faith (see Luke 22:31-32), is evidence of this. Jesus truly loves us as His children. He’s in heaven, still praying for us. How will you love Him today? How will you serve Him today as you consider all Jesus did and is still doing for your good?

“Give us today our daily bread…” (Matthew 6:11)

In His lesson on prayer to the disciples, Jesus teaches them to make this request to God. He says just before this that in our prayers, we shouldn’t heap up fancy words to make ourselves look good, but instead we should be humble in our prayer, for our “Father knows what [we] need before we ask Him” (verse 8). Elsewhere Jesus says we shouldn’t worry whether or not our Lord will provide our needs:  “If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask Him!” (Matt. 7:11). 

“Give us today our daily bread,” is a humble request to God to supply our needs for the day. It’s also a moment in acknowledge in our hearts that the Lord has done this — that He has kept us fed, and clothed and in one piece day after day, and that as we look at the day ahead we can trust that our Lord’s love for us will be no different. 

“Give us today our daily bread” — it’s a prayer of request, but it’s also a prayer of thanksgiving that I think we should utter each time we see a plate of food in front of us. Each time that we sit down for a meal, whether the plate has steam and mouthwatering aromas rising from it or whether we’re looking at a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, we should pause and acknowledge that the Lord has provided, that He has given us our daily bread, and because of Him, we can sit down and enjoy this meal. Amen.

“When the harvest time approached, he sent his servants to the tenants to collect his fruit. The tenants seized his servants; they beat one, killed another, and stoned a third” (Matthew 21:34-35).

Out of context, these Scripture verses may be a startling way to start your Saturday morning, but in them is a good lesson for us. These verses come from a parable Jesus taught about landowner who rented out his vineyard to some tenants to tend it and produce fruit. As the verses say, when it came time for harvest, the landowner sent servants to collect the produce, but what kind of welcome did those servants meet? The tenants wanted nothing to do with them. In fact, they wanted them out, eliminated. Perhaps to the tenants the servants represented the landowner and the reality that as tenants, they did not own the land. Rather, they were working the land for the landowner. Yet like teenagers whose parents go away for the weekend, they had grown comfortable with a sense of “ownership” of the house.

Likewise, we too get like that. We become possessive of our time, our resources, our life, as if they were ours. Yet this season reminds us that we are not our own, but that we were bought with a price (1 Corinthians 6:20). Singing a hymn like “When I Survey the Wondrous Cross” reminds of the sacrifice Jesus made, the love he gave for us so that we would have life: 

“When I survey the wondrous cross

On which the prince of Glory died, 

My richest gain I count but loss,

And pour contempt on all my pride.”

What has Jesus done for you? The kind of love He gives each of us turns us away from ourselves and to Him. As the hymn says, “Love so amazing, so divine, demands my soul, my life, my all!” Don’t live for yourself today, live for Him!

“It is good to give thanks to the Lord, and to sing praises to Your name, O Most High; to declare Your lovingkindness in the morning, and Your faithfulness every night.” Psalm 92: 1-2                           

As you sit in your home or as you drive home from work, maybe you will notice that the weather this Friday is a little bit different than last Friday’s weather. Today we spot rays of sunlight, perhaps a few flurries as they glisten to the ground and quickly melt in the stillness and peace of the morning. Last week was a different story — gusty winds, rain, sleet, snow blowing across the lawn and into headlights, knocking down tree limbs and knocking out the power. Today is quite different than last Friday. We can give God thanks for that — that He protected us in the storm, that He brought our power back or is working on bringing the power back, and that today the storm has passed. 

Remember to give God thanks today, for the Lord is good and His love endures forever.

“In his pride the wicked man does not seek Him; in all his thoughts there is no room for God.” Psalm 10:4! 

Psalm 10 is a prayer that speaks against a man who has lost touch with God and who has become lost to the cravings of his heart. Others suffer as this man seeks his own satisfaction. In the end of the psalm, God’s Word cries for justice:  “Arise, Lord! Lift up your hand, O God. Do not forget the helpless” (verse 12). The Lord is remembered as the “helper of the fatherless” as “King for ever and ever,” who hears “the desire of the afflicted.” In this cry I hear the cries of those being hurt in our world today, victims of trafficking, people whose rights have been stripped of them.

What are we as believers supposed to be seeking after? This psalm reminds us of what our God stands for and what He stands against and where we should stand. Have we been concerned enough for the things of God? Have we truly committed our lives to the Lord to live for Him each day, to live out of gratitude for what He has done for us and in service to others? Or in our thoughts is there no room for God? 

Let us say “thank you, Jesus,” and live for Him this day. Amen.