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This is the day the Lord has made;
We will rejoice and be glad in it.
Do you ever feel like you don’t know what day it is? You think it’s Tuesday but it’s really Wednesday. That’s because we do the same things over and over again every day. So much so, that the days start to blend into each other. We may think that today won’t be any different, it will be the same old hum-drum day we always have. But God has a plan for today and He can take a seemingly ordinary day and turn it into a reason to rejoice. He can change the entire course of our lives or someone else’s with a chance meeting at the right time. God is a master at creating these “chance” encounters and they are never just a coincidence. Or God can use our ordinary day to show us His amazing grace and mercy by touching our hearts in a special and unexpected way. No matter what happens today, God is in control of our day and He has given us a reason to rejoice and be glad in it.
We’ve been talking a lot about context at church lately and looking at how it pertains to some of the most often quoted verses of the Bible. Our verse for today, Psalm 118:24 is one of these often quoted verses. It talks about the day the Lord has made and rejoicing in it. But to get the whole picture of what God is telling us, we should also read the verses just before and just after our verse. There are a couple of things to examine within the context of this passage of scripture.
The verses just before ours says…
The stone which the builders rejected
Has become the chief cornerstone.
This was the Lord’s doing;
It is marvelous in our eyes.
You probably already know this verse by heart because it is also quoted often and is used as a popular memory verse. We know that Jesus is the chief cornerstone talked about here and He quoted this verse Himself in Matthew 21:42. Within the context of our verse, we can see exactly what the Lord has given us to rejoice about.
During the time of David, the people were eagerly awaiting the arrival of the promised Messiah and the sacrifice that He would provide for their sins. This day that they were looking forward to, would be a perfect day, a day of celebration and rejoicing. But when Jesus arrived the Jewish leaders rejected Him. But even though the chief cornerstone was rejected by these leaders it was God’s doing. We can look back now on this part of history and see how God’s truth and prophesy was fulfilled by the coming of the Messiah and His death on a cross. It was a day to rejoice in, then and now!
In the verses just after ours, we can see the promise of another day of great rejoicing.
Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!
We have blessed you from the house of the Lord.
These are the words that the crowd shouted as Jesus entered Jerusalem in Matthew 21:9. They praised God and rejoiced in the fulfillment of His promise. When Jesus was rejected and crucified, the Old Testament prophesy was fulfilled. But Jesus said these same words again in Matthew 23:39 referring to ascension into heaven and giving us something else to look forward to, His second coming. This is the day that we are eagerly awaiting right now! Then it will be our turn to shout “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” What a glorious day it will be when Jesus takes His rightful place and rules over this earth! It will be a perfect day, a day to rejoice and praise our Savior.
Yes, we should rejoice today, because God has given us another day to sing His praises. But we can look back on that day when Jesus died on a cross and rejoice that our sins are forgiven. And we can look forward to the day when Jesus will come again, knowing that it will be a reason to rejoice!
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We like to compare ourselves to the people from the Bible. But it’s usually the strong, noble ones that we look to for inspiration. Like Esther and her unwavering faith in the face of adversity, or Paul’s resolute attitude about his imprisonment. They did amazing things for the kingdom of God. And sometimes we are like them, empowered and ready to fight the good fight. But other times we are more like the paralyzed man in Matthew 9 who had to be carried to Jesus. At first glance his story seems like a sad one and not someone we would want to be like. But God’s word is clear that this man and his friends had faith in Jesus and what He could do.
Then behold, they brought to Him a paralytic lying on a bed. When Jesus saw their faith, He said to the paralytic, “Son, be of good cheer, your sins are forgiven you.”
And at once some of the scribes said within themselves, “This Man blasphemes!”
But Jesus, knowing what was in their thoughts, said, “Why do think evil in your hearts? For which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven you,’ or to say ‘Arise and walk’? But that you may know that the Son of Man has power on earth to forgive sins”- then He said to the paralytic, “Arise, take up your bed, and go to your house.” And he arose and departed to his house.
Now when the multitudes saw it, they marveled and glorified God, who had given such power to men.
Jesus is the goal of every believer. And to experience His healing touch when we are weak is what we need most. Within this story, I see two ways for us to get to Him.
First, we are like the paralytic man who needed to be carried to Jesus. He had faith that Jesus could heal him if only he could find a way to get to Him. But he couldn’t do it on his own, so his friends carried him to Jesus. Just like this man, we all have times of weakness. It may be a physical, emotional, mental or spiritual pain. Whatever the cause, we need a friend to carry us to the Savior, because we are not strong enough to get to Jesus on our own. In our pain, they are the light that leads us to Jesus, the only One who can heal us of our hurt.
Second, we are like the friends of the paralytic man. They too had faith that Jesus could heal their friend. So, they made a plan, put their friend on a bed and carried him to Jesus to be healed. Sometimes, the roles are reversed and our loved ones are weak and need us to carry them to Jesus. It’s our turn to be the light pointing the way to Jesus. As much as we may want to fix whatever is hurting them, the best thing we can do, is to be a friend who will take them to Jesus so that He can heal their pain.
We are not always strong, sometimes we’re weak. But that’s okay. Because Jesus said, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” 2 Corinthians 12:9 If we are willing to accept that God can use us even in our weakness, then a whole new world of opportunity opens up for us to serve in God’s kingdom. We can display the same kind of faith that the paralytic man and his friends showed by taking our hurts to Jesus. Then, when we allow Jesus to work through us, even when we are weak, we are strong. The next time we find that we are weak or that a friend is in need, let’s remember that Jesus is the only One who can truly heal us. Carry or be carried, either way, just get to Jesus and be healed by His grace and power!
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Does God seem far away from you? Do you feel like your prayers aren’t being heard? Is your heart overwhelmed by sadness and pain? We’ve all felt like the closeness we long to have with God is elusive. But we’re in good company because even David, a man after God’s own heart, felt the same way we do.
Hear my cry, O God; Attend to my prayer. From the end of the earth I will cry to You, When my heart is overwhelmed; Lead me to the rock that is higher than I.
There will be times in our lives when God seems far away. We may be discouraged and feel that God has abandoned us in our time of need. But David’s psalm is a reminder to all believers that in our despair God is faithful. So, let’s dig deeper into what God has to say to us today.
Hear my cry… Attend to my prayer…
David’s longing to hear from God is echoed in our own lives. He asked God to hear his prayer and to answer him. But for some reason, David didn’t feel like God was listening. I have experienced times in my life, where it seemed like God was very silent. During these silent times I want more than anything to hear from God. I pray “just tell me what to do and I’ll do it”, and the response I get back is crickets. The silence is deafening and seems to go on forever. But we can rest assured that God will not remain silent forever. We are His children and our pain does not go unnoticed. He hears us when we pray and He sees us when we cry.
Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you.
From the end of the earth…
David may have been a little overly dramatic when he wrote these words, but haven’t we all stretched the truth a time or two. I think we can all relate to David feeling like God was far away from him at the end of the earth. Sometimes it feels like God’s just out of our reach and no matter how far we travel we can’t get to Him. We wonder where He has gone to and why He has left us all alone. But God has not moved and He has not changed. He is exactly the same as He was when we felt the closest to Him. Our perception of our closeness with God is the only thing that has changed. But our emotions can play tricks on us. They can cause us to twist the truth in our minds to fit what we are feeling at the time. Just because we don’t “feel” close to God doesn’t mean that we aren’t. Thankfully God has given us insight, through His word, into who He is and the promise that He will never change and He will never leave us. When we feel like God is far away from us, all we have to do is read His word. If we search for Him, we will find Him.
And you will seek Me, and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart.
When my heart is overwhelmed…
When my mom died, I learned what it means to be truly heartbroken. She was not only my mom but also my best friend. David described this feeling perfectly when he said his heart was overwhelmed. It’s a feeling of total hopelessness and grief, that nothing will ever be okay again. It completely consumes you from the inside out leaving you empty. For a while after my mom’s death, I was so overcome by emotion that I didn’t know what to do with it all. The flood of tears from deep down inside of me just wouldn’t stop. The grief left me feeling overwhelmed and worn down. Have you felt this way too? Maybe you’ve lost a loved one, or you’re in the midst of a crisis that seems impossible to get through. If your heart is broken and overwhelmed, here is God’s promise to you.
The Lord is near to those who have a broken heart…
Lead me to the rock that is higher than I…
Trying to get from one side of a raging river to the other side all alone is an impossible task. You just can’t do it by yourself. The waters are too strong and you will be pulled under in no time at all. So, you have to look for something to help you cross the river, like a huge rock to stand on. Every day, we are faced with a world full of metaphorical raging rivers to cross. And just like we can’t face a real river on our own, we can’t face life’s rivers alone either. God is our rock and firm ground. He is our safe place to stand when life becomes too much to handle. He will get us through the raging waters ahead.
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; And through the rivers, they will not overflow you…
We will have struggles and disappointments in life and sometimes God may seem far away. But He is exactly where He has always been, right next to us, listening to our prayers, comforting us in our grief and helping us through the raging rivers of life. Seek Him with your whole heart and you will find Him.
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I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep. John 10:11
Recently, I was asked the question, "Why is Jesus called the good shepherd?" Truthfully, I never gave it much thought. I simply accepted what I was taught as a child. But it’s an intriguing and important question, so I did a little research.
In John 10, Jesus calls Himself the good shepherd many times. Today I'd like to explore four of the different aspects of what Jesus was talking about.
#1 Jesus is the door.
Most assuredly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. John 10:7
I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture. John 10:9
In ancient times, the shepherd kept the sheep safe at night by laying down to sleep in front of the door of the sheep's pin. He did this to keep the sheep safely inside of the pin and to keep predators out.
Jesus is the door that we must enter through, if we want to see God the Father. Jesus said in John 14:6 "No one comes to the Father except through Me." When we accept Jesus as our Savior, the door is opened to the Father. Then Jesus becomes not only “the Good Shepherd” but our shepherd. He keeps us safely in the fold and protects us from the predators of a Christian life.
#2 Jesus is the Leader
...and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. And when he brings out his own sheep, he goes before them: and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice. John 10:3-4
A shepherd doesn't follow his sheep, he leads them. The shepherd would go out in the front of the fold and the sheep would follow behind their shepherd.
Jesus has lead the way for us. His life is the example for us to follow. Everything He did and everything He said was to teach us how to live. Our path is to follow the example set by our leader and shepherd, Jesus.
#3 Jesus is the One We Know
Yet they will by no means follow a stranger, but will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers. John 10:5
I am the good shepherd, and I know My sheep, and am known by My own. John 10:14
When the shepherd called to his sheep, they could easily recognize his voice and they would come to him. But sheep are timid and scared animals and they will run and hide from someone they don't know. Sheep may be timid, but they are smart enough to tell the difference between a stranger’s voice and the voice of their shepherd. They would never follow a stranger even if the stranger called to them the same way that their shepherd would call.
We can recognize our shepherd too. Because we have accepted Jesus as our Savior and because we have an intimate and personal relationship with Him, we can easily recognize His voice. There are many competing voices out there in the world and they all want our attention. But just like the sheep, we shouldn't listen to or follow anyone other than our shepherd, Jesus.
#4 Jesus is the Savior
I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives his life for the sheep. John 10:11
Therefore My Father loves Me, because I lay down My life that I may take it again. No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of Myself. I have the power to lay it down, and I have the power take it again. John 10:17-18
A shepherd takes care of and protects his sheep no matter what the cost. If just one sheep goes missing, he will go out to find that missing sheep. And the shepherd will put his own life at risk to find his sheep and bring it back into the fold.
How fortunate we are, that we have a Savior and Shepherd who died for us! Jesus willingly gave up His life as a sacrifice for us. Then He took it back up three days later because He has the power to do so!
Jesus is the Good Shepherd because He is our door and way to the Father. He is our leader and example. He is the voice that we know. And above all else He is our Savior.
Do you have a story to tell about how Jesus has been the Good Shepherd in your life? Please leave a comment below.
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Connie Rowland is the Artist and Blogger behind Master's Hand Collection, a series of Christian artwork that depicts God's hand in our lives. Each picture features an inspirational word spelled out in American Sign Language with a corresponding Bible verse. Check out the About page for more info on Master's Hand Collection and Connie.
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