One word jumped out at me today from a very familiar passage of scripture. It is a passage, and even a word, I’ve read many times before. I even have this passage memorized, and I’d bet you might, too.
“He“. But not just any “he”. It is the third “he” in the sentence below that jumped off the page.
“He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he restores my soul.”
It isn’t the nap in the lush green pastures that restores my soul. It isn’t the drink of refreshingly cool quiet waters that restores my soul. HE restores my soul. Nothing else can do that.
No doubt he works through the pastures and the waters. I would be a fool to not obey him and lie down or drink deeply. But a nap alone won’t restore my soul. A beverage alone, no matter how quenching, won’t restore my soul.
Only by resting in and drinking in my Shepherd will my soul be restored. HE restores my soul.
I saw this sign at a local convenience store…
“Welcome”? Really?! What about this sign is supposed to make me feel welcomed? Does this sign really communicate the message that people can come on in?
And then I started thinking about Jesus. He seems to have been a pretty welcoming guy. Search for the word “crowd” in the Gospels on BibleGateway and it will find 125 instances. (See the results here.) While not every instance has to do with how many people were following Jesus, clearly many of them do.
That leads me to a question. What was it about Jesus that made people feel so welcome? I have a couple thoughts of my own, but I’d love to hear your thoughts, first. So let me hear you. In your opinion…
What was it about Jesus that made people feel welcome?
I get several of these a month. I expect you do, too. Think for a minute about the guy whose job it was to make something that looked just like a check. He must have spent at least a couple hours, even if he was a good graphic artist. To get this laid out just right. To make sure you have all the elements – date, “Pay To The Order Of:”, fake routing number bar code (imagine if they accidentally used a real one)… The attention to detail has to be there.
And then some marketing guy (or more likely, legal) said they need to put the words “THIS IS NOT A CHECK” in big, bold, ugly letters right across the front! All that effort to make it look like the real deal, just to be exposed as a phony with no value whatsoever.
Then it hit me – this is a picture of my life. I put way too much effort into giving the appearance of having it all together. I know the words to say and facial expressions to use to be very believable. Am I the only one who spends more time trying to LOOK real than to actually BE real?
And every now and then my sin comes along and slaps the words “Andy Is Not _____________” right across my life for everyone to see. “Andy Is Not near as good as he tries to let on.” “Andy Is Not as patient at home as he is in public.” “Andy Is Not as disciplined as he tells other people they should be.”
Thank goodness my value isn’t defined by the words my sin slaps across my life, but by the Name God has written on my heart!
Juxtaposition – (n) – an act or instance of placing close together or side by side, esp. for comparison or contrast.
I was skipping through Rich Mullins on my iPod today (as I do many days) and somehow played “Nothing is Beyond You” and “You Did Not Have a Home” back to back. Think about that…
“Nothing is beyond You
You stand beyond the reach
Of our vain imaginations
Our misguided piety
The heavens stretch to hold You
And deep cries out to deep
Singing that nothing is beyond You
Nothing is beyond You”
And then follow that up with…
“Birds have nests, foxes have dens
But the hope of the whole world rests
On the shoulders of a homeless man
You had the shoulders of a homeless man
You did not have a home”
I’m amazed that our God – Whom the heavens can’t contain – came to this place to be a homeless man!
Which truth (God’s bigness or Jesus’ homelessness) is more meaningful to you right now? Why?
I just need to write out my devotions for the past two days – I’m blown away at how amazing God is. I hope you’ll read through and humor me.
Yesterday I read Job 25, and verse 2 really popped at me – “Dominion and awe belong to God.” Then the New Testament reading was the betrayal and arrest and trial of Jesus. What a contrast! The sovereign, awesome, powerful God allowing Himself to be betrayed and arrested.
Today, in Job 26:2, Job thanks his friend for the reminder of God’s dominion with these words – “How you have helped the powerless! How you have saved the arm that is feeble!” I know Job was thanking his friend, but I don’t think I’m out of line to apply those words to God Himself. Is it not energizing to remember that “Dominion and awe belong to God”? Thank you, God, for being The Almighty!
And the New Testament reading? You guessed it: the crucifixion and resurrection. How appropriate! Jesus’ death and resurrection is the very thing that helps the powerless and saves the feeble. I think my favorite symbolism in the whole Bible is in Mark 15:37-38 – “With a loud cry, Jesus breathed his last. The curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom.” With Jesus’ death, God removed the curtain and all who believe have unrestricted access to God Almighty – the One who (Job 25) possesses dominion and awe…the One who (Job 26) helps and saves the powerless and feeble…the One who (Mark 15) gave us access to the His Holy Self…the One who (Mark 16) defeated the power of death!
As Rich Mullins says, “How can I keep myself from singing…Hallelujah!”
Which of those verses hits you the most today? What did you need to hear and remember?