“When the Lord restored the fortunes of Zion, we were like those who dream. Our mouths were filled with laughter then, and our tongues with shouts of joy. Then they said among the nations, “The Lord has done great things for them.” The Lord had done great things for us; we were joyful.
Restore our fortunes, Lord, like watercourses in the Negev. Those who sow in tears will reap with shouts of joy. Though one goes along weeping, carrying the bag of seed, he will surely come back with shouts of joy, carrying his sheaves.”
The Israelites had several experiences where they were in bondage, away from their home. Each time they were in sorrow and each time God was faithful in delivering them. When they returned, they were joyful and were again reminded of God’s faithfulness to them. They had reason to shout “The Lord has done great things.”
We go through seasons where we weep, where we sow in tears. There are seasons where we struggle in depression and hurt. But God is faithful, there will come a time when we will “reap with shouts of joy”. God will deliver us through to the other side. And we will shout out “The Lord has done great things for us.” This week let us encourage one another with these words. Let us remember God’s faithfulness in those seasons when we sow in tears and be grateful when reaping with shouts of joy.
“Now some Greeks were among those who went up to worship at the festival. So they came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, and requested of him, “Sir, we want to see Jesus.”
Philip went and told Andrew; then Andrew and Philip went and told Jesus.” (John 12:20-22)
These verses in the book of John take place right after the entry of Jesus into Jerusalem on the week leading up to his death. People from all around were coming into Jerusalem. This included some Greeks which these verses mention. These Greeks had heard all about Jesus and the works He had done. And they wanted to see Jesus.
They went to Philip, one of Jesus’ disciples and asked Him. Then He told Andrew (maybe in excitement, maybe in bewilderment that Greeks wanted to see Jesus) and then the two of them went to tell Jesus.
There are some people today that hear about Jesus and come to us. They want to know about Jesus. This should bring us joy and encourage us to point them to Jesus. There are times when we are going out to fulfill the Great Commission that people will come to us. They will find out that we are followers of Jesus and like Philip ask us “We want to see Jesus.”
This week, let us as we go point people to Jesus and hopefully we have an encounter like Philip and Andrew had where they come to us wanting to see and know Jesus.
“Therefore remember that at one time you Gentiles in the flesh, called “the uncircumcision” by what is called the circumcision, which is made in the flesh by hands— remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostilityby abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility. And he came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near. For through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father.” (Ephesians 2:11-18)
Paul, in this letter to the church in Ephesus, like many of his letters to various churches wanted to encourage and exhort his fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. Here he wanted to remind them of what brings us all together and that’s Jesus Christ and what He did on the cross. At one time the Gentiles (non Jews or the “uncircumcision”) were far away from God and the promises that God gives to His people. There was no hope. However because of Jesus Christ and what He has done, He made a way not just the Jews but the Gentiles as well.
Because of Jesus Christ, we can not only be reconciled to the Father but we can be reconciled with one another as well. Jesus brings peace to those who were “far off” and to those who were “near”. All have the opportunity to be reconciled and to be at peace.
This week, let us be reminded of this great news. We are not left without hope. We have hope in Jesus Christ. We are not left without peace. We have peace through Jesus Christ. And we get to share that message with the world to everyone.
“Give thanks to Yahweh, call on His name; proclaim His deeds among the peoples. Sing to Him, sing praise to Him; tell about all His wonderful works! Honor His holy name; let the hearts of those who seek Yahweh rejoice. Search for the Lord and for His strength; seek His face always.” (Psalm 105:1-4)
One of the great things about Psalms is the reminder of God’s goodness and His faithfulness. There are many psalms throughout the book that sing of these attributes. Not only that, they call us to remember them daily. These verses are a part of just such a psalm.
We have so much to be thankful for that God has given to us. We can rejoice and be glad. But we are not just to keep it to ourselves. We are to share them with everyone around us. We are to “proclaim His deeds among the people.” It should just burst forth because we have been blessed so much to share that with others.
The other key part in these verses is the psalmist says we should seek God’s face always. We should always be pursing being before God. So this week, let us be thankful, let us be sharing and let us be seeking. Let us be thankful for all that God has given us. Let us be sharing with others about what God has done. And let us be seeking the Lord every day.
“Now the end of all things is near; therefore, be serious and disciplined for prayer. Above all, maintain an intense love for each other, since love covers a multitude of sins. Be hospitable to one another without complaining. Based on the gift each one has received, use it to serve others, as good managers of the varied grace of God. If anyone speaks, it should be as one who speaks God’s words; if anyone serves, it should be from the strength God provides, so that God may be glorified through Jesus Christ in everything. To Him belong the glory and the power forever and ever. Amen.” (1 Peter 4:7-11)
Peter wrote these words to fellow believers in one of his letters to the churches. These verses are a part of the end of the letter as he is beginning to wrap up his thoughts.
There are many passages that deal with how to handle the “end times”. Some of them are prophetic of the actual “day of the Lord” and some are more of the times that are to signal the “day of the Lord”. This is one of those passages that’s the latter. Peter is telling the readers (and in turn telling us) that we should be prepared for when the Lord returns.
How are we to prepare? First, we need to be all about prayer. Praying to God giving thanks, praying for strength to endure, praying for others and their needs. We need to be praying. Second, we need to show love to one another. Peter says to “maintain an intense love”. In the world right now we see hate permeate. But we know that God is love and when we are connected to Him then we are able to love one another better. Third, our words and actions should reflect the Father. We are here to advance the Kingdom of God and proclaim the Good News. Our words and actions should be all about that.
In these times now more than ever, let us be about praying, let us be about loving, let us be about serving and let us be about sharing the Good news of Jesus.
This week’s “Thursday Quote Day” features a quote from missionary Amy Carmichael:
“But God is the God of the waves and the billows, and they are still His when they come over us; and again and again we have proved that the overwhelming thing does not overwhelm. Once more by His interposition deliverance came. We were cast down, but not destroyed.” (Amy Carmichael)