Today’s Text and Thoughts of Encouragement:
“While they were conversing and discussing together, Jesus Himself caught up with them and was already accompanying them. But their eyes were held, so that they did not recognize Him.”
“They did not know it was Jesus, but it is a blessed fact, which is full of comfort to you and me, that He knew them. His presence was not conditional or their consciousness of the fact…Whether we recognize Him or not, He recognizes us. Whether we have a strong faith, or are full of doubts and unbelief, are strong or weak, are joyful or sad, the ‘Elder Brother’ never leaves one of His children who has left all to follow Him; the Shepherd carries the sheep, even when the sheep does not know that underneath are the ‘Everlasting Arms.’”
Abbott E. Kittredge
“Like a morning dream life becomes more and more bright the longer we live, and the reason of everything becomes more clear. What has puzzled us before seems less mysterious, and the crooked path looks straighter as we approach the end.”
Jean Paul Richter
Today’s Study Text:
“For the Lord knoweth the way of the righteous; but the way of the ungodly shall perish.”
Psalm 1 Part 21
“As long as we have peace with this world, we are at war with God.”
Antony of Egypt
Have I ever found myself on a path of wrong because I wandered away from my Father’s love?
“Sin is not a thing; it is not a moral stain or blemish, it is a damage to a relationship, a rejection of love. It is a gap, a chasm, and those who have chosen to be far off must be brought close.”
“God doesn’t deprive of His heavenly kingdom sinners who don’t repent. They themselves simply can’t bear its light – any more than you can bear the light of the sun.”
Innocent of Alaska
Sometimes it is easy to overlook the setting of some of Jesus’ words, especially when He was talking with His disciples. This is the case with a story found in Matthew 18. We find that this chapter in Scripture begins with this question posed to Jesus by His disciples, “Who then is really the greatest in the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 18: 1)? Jesus’ answer was to call a young child to His side and it is during this interaction where we find one of the most touching stories Jesus ever told. In fact, it is most likely that the basis for Jesus words were borne out of a real-life experience for Shepherds and sheep were frequently seen on the hillsides of Palestine.
The experience of the “one lost sheep,” is told in Matthew 18: 11-14:
“For the Son of man is come to save that which was lost. How think ye? If a man have an hundred sheep, and one of them be gone astray, doth he not leave the ninety and nine, and goeth into the mountains, and seeketh that which is gone astray? And if so be that he find it, verily I say unto you, he rejoiceth more of that sheep, than of the ninety and nine which went not astray. Even so it is not the will of your Father which is in heaven, that one of these little ones should perish.”
The point Jesus was making underlines the fact that no matter the age, no matter the number that was being sought, even if it was only one little child or one lost sheep, every effort should be expended to rescue the perishing. It’s notable that in both Psalm 1 and in the story of the Shepherd who would exert all his energy to even find a lost sheep, the word “perishing” appears. In fact, this word appears repeatedly in both the Old and New Testaments which got me to thinking about the choice of using the word perish. I checked on the Hebrew meaning of perish which is to “lose one’s self” or “to wander away.” No wonder Jesus chose to use the word “perish” in His story about the Shepherd who persisted in hunting into the night to find the one sheep who, as the Greek meaning enlightens us, got “separated” from the 99 sheep that made it safely home. As the words to the favorite hymn, “The Ninety and Nine” written by Elizabeth Clephane tell the touching story:
“There were ninety and nine that safely
lay in the shelter of the fold,
But one was out on the hills away,
Far from the gates of gold,
Away on the mountains wild and bare,
Away from the tender Shepherd’s care.
Lord, Thou hast here Thy ninety and nine,
Are they not enough for Thee?
But the Shepherd made answer, ‘This of
mine has wandered away from Me,’
And although the road be rough and steep,
I go to the desert to find My sheep.
But none of the ransomed ever knew
How deep were the waters crossed,
Nor how dark was the night that the
Lord passed through
‘Ere He found His sheep that was lost
Out in the desert He heard its cry
Sick and helpless and ready to die.
Lord whence are those blood drops all the way,
That mark out the mountain’s track
They were shed for one who had gone
astray ‘ere the Shepherd could bring Him back,
Lord whence are Thy hands so rent and torn?
They’re pierced tonight by many a thorn.
But all through the mountains thunder riven,
And up from the rocky steep.
There arose a glad cry to the gate of heaven,
‘Rejoice I have found my sheep!’
And the angels echoed around the throne,
‘Rejoice for the Lord brings back His own.”
When we read the Psalmist's words, "but the way of the ungodly shall perish," we need to focus on the fact that the words say, "the way of the ungodly". The problem with the ungodly is the way that they choose to take. It is not God's way. It is a pathway that leads us away from the fold of our Father. The challenge of a life with God is one that walks with our Lord on the path He has marked out for us. We don't just walk wherever we decide we would like to go. Sometimes this can be very difficult for when God's way becomes dark and difficult, it is easy to think, "I must be on the wrong path," when in fact, our Master is taking us through a time and on a way that will only increase our faith and trust in Him.
We must never forget that the Bible tells us that our Shepherd is not willing that any should perish. Every effort in our own lives should be expended to stay on our Master's path and to also help rescue the perishing around us. The same energy that Christ put into the search for you and me is the same effort we should put into helping to assist those around us walk on the way of our Lord. In the powerful words penned by Fanny Crosby: "Rescue the perishing, care for the dying, snatch them in pity, from sin and the grave; weep over the erring one, lift up the fallen, tell them of Jesus, mighty to save." In the words of Jesus, shared by Dr. Luke, "Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled" (Luke14: 23, K.J.V.)
“There is no one so far lost that Jesus cannot find her and cannot save her.”
“O God of the journey, lift me up, press me against Your cheek. Let Your great love hold me and create a deep trust in me. Then God of the journey; take my hand in Yours, and guide me ever so gently across the territory of my life.”
“O Shepherd divine, I know Thou art mine,
Thy search in the night was for me.
This bleak world is cold, but warm is Thy fold;
My Shepherd, I follow Thee.
Thy beautiful lamp shineth bright over my way,
Thy glorious light unto Thy perfect day.
Through pastures serene,
Through valleys of green,
My Shepherd, I follow Thee.”
Dorothy Valcárcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
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