Devotional Week 36 Monday
“’Do not be seized with alarm and struck with fear, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom!’”
Luke 12: 32
“The music of the Shepherd’s voice again! His flock, a little flock, a feeble flock, a fearful flock – but a beloved flock – loved of the Father, enjoying His ‘good pleasure,’ and soon to be a glorified flock - safe in the fold, secure within the kingdom! How does He quiet their fears and misgivings? As they stand panting on the bleak mountainside, He points His crook upwards to the bright and shining gates of glory, and says, ‘It is your Father’s good pleasure to give you these!’ What gentle words! Gracious Savior, Your gentleness has made me great!...Let the melody of the Shepherd’s voice fall gently on your ear, ‘It is your Father’s good pleasure.’ I have given you, He seems to say, the best proof that it is My pleasure. In order to purchase that kingdom – I died for you! ‘I will be like a shepherd looking for his scattered flock. I will find My sheep and rescue them from all the places where they were scattered on that dark and cloudy day.’ Fear not, then, little flock! Though for a while, you are in the bleak mountain and arid wasteland, seeking your way Zionward, it may be ‘ with torn fleeces and bleeding feet;’ for, ‘It is not the will of your Father who is in heaven – that one of these little ones should perish!’”
The Words of Jesus
Today’s Study Text:
“Now the tax collectors and notorious and especially wicked sinners were all coming near to Jesus to listen to Him. And the Pharisees and the Scribes kept muttering and indignantly complaining, saying, ‘This man accepts and receives and welcomes preeminently wicked sinners and eats with them.’”
Luke 15 1, 2
“The Sinner Magnet”
“With infinite love and compassion our Lord understood the human predicament. He had deep empathy with people; He saw their needs, their weaknesses, their desires, and their hurt. He understood and was concerned for people. Every word He spoke was uttered because He saw a need for that word in some human life. His concern was always to uplift and never to tear down, to heal and never hurt, to save and not condemn.”
Charles L. Allen
What does it mean to me to know that Jesus came to earth to redeem a sinner like myself?
“Oh! Look not on the heart I bring –
It is too low and poor;
I would not have thee love a thing
Which I can ill endure.
Nor love me for the sake of what
I would be if I could –
Our peaks as over the marshy flat
Still soars the sky of good.
See, love, afar, the heavenly man
The will of God would make;
The thing I must be when I can,
Love now, for faith’s dear sake.”
“Narrow is the house of my Soul:
Do Thou enlarge it, that it may be able to receive Thee.
It is ruinous:
Do Thou restore it.
That it has within it those things which most offered Thine eyes,
I both confess and know.
Who can cleanse it but Thou?
Therefore do Thou cleanse it
And abide therein for ever.”
Dinner time. A time for fellowship and joy. Dinner time. A time for harmony and sharing. This is what comes to my mind when conversation turns to the enjoyment we receive as we gather together with like-minded friends to eat.
But what if the meal ends up being a chaotic session because of the invited guests.
What if you don’t happen to feel comfortable because of some of the people who were invited to sit by you at mealtime.
Apparently, as Dr. Luke tells the story, one day in the life of Jesus, when it came time to eat, Jesus, we are told, ‘allowed” some of the most despicable individuals to press close to Him. First of all there were the heinous tax collectors who were pawns for the Roman government, cheating their own Jewish neighbors and friends out of money as they skimmed the cream off the top of the tax collection, only to use the funds to enrich themselves. But these weren’t the only group of evil characters Jesus chose to hob-knob with. We find in Luke 15: 2, that “especially wicked sinners,” were welcomed to Jesus side and allowed to mingle with His followers. This was a difficult situation for those on “Team Jesus,” to be sure. Because when the Pharisees and Scribes saw that it was the societal low-life’s that drew close to Jesus, you can only imagine the uproar caused by the holy men. I can hear them asking, “If Jesus was so pure and holy, why in the world would He allow the influence of such gutter-trash to rub off on Him and His disciples?”
While the religious leaders, the Pharisees, with abhorrence shrunk back at the sight of Jesus associating with the criminal element in His world, let’s not forget that if Jesus was on earth today He most likely would draw the most needy and pained individuals in our society to His side, also. As Biblical commentator Matthew Henry points our: the Pharisees and Scribes who were watching the “rakes” of society and the “worst sinners” come to Jesus, this activity only served to “bring reproach on Jesus Christ. This man receiveth sinners and eateth with them,” was the way the Pharisees tried to demean the Savior of the world. “They thought it a disparagement to Christ, and inconsistent with the dignity of His character, to make Himself familiar with such sort of people…they could not, for shame, condemn Him for preaching to them, though that was the thing they were most enraged at, therefore they reproached Him for eating with the outcasts.”
It may be that in your own life, there’s been a time when you have felt like an outcast – pushed to the outside and left alone. If so, I encourage you today with these words of hope:
“When you feel unlovable, unworthy and unclean, when you think no one can heal you:
Remember, Jesus can.
When you think you are unforgiveable for your guilt and your shame:
Remember, Jesus can forgive you and wash away your guilt.
When you have reached the bottom and you think no one can hear your cry:
Remember, Jesus can hear you.
And when you think that no one can love the real person deep inside of you:
Remember, Jesus does – He really loves you.”
“O God, take all our sorrows and use them to show us the nature of Your joy. Take all our sins and, forgiving them, use them to show us the ways of true pleasantness and the path of true peace. Take all our broken purposes and disappointed hopes and use them to make Your perfect rainbow arch. Take all our clouds of sadness and calamity and from them make Your sunset glories. Take our night and make it bright with stars. Take our ill-health and pain until they accomplish in Your purpose as much as health could achieve. Take us as we are with impulses, strivings, longings so often frustrated and thwarted, and even with what is broken and imperfect, make Your dreams come true, through Him who made of human life a sacrament, of thorns a crown, of a cross a throne, even through Jesus Christ our Lord.”
Leslie G. Weatherhead
The Sinner’s Friend
“O Thou, the contrite sinner’s Friend,
Who loving, lovest them to the end,
On this alone my hopes depend,
That Thou wilt plead for me.
When, weary in the pilgrim race,
Far-off appears my resting-place,
And fainting, I mistrust Thy grace –
Then, Saviour plead for me!
When I have erred and gone astray
Afar from Thine and Wisdom’s way,
And see no glimmering guiding ray –
Still, Saviour, plead for me!
When Satan, by my sins made bold,
Strives from Thy cross to loose my hold,
Then with Thy pitying arms enfold,
And plead, oh, plead for me!
And when my dying hour draws near,
Darkened with anguish, guilt, and fear,
Then to my fainting sight appear,
Pleading in Heaven for me.
When the full light of Heavenly day
Reveals my sins in dread array,
Say, Thou hast washed them all away;
Oh, say, Thou pleadest for me!”
Dorothy Valcàrcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus