God loves us. He comes to us, He calls us to come to Him.
The call of Samuel is a vivid example of what God can do in the lives of children. Samuel’s early response to God set in motion a whole process of events leading Samuel to become ‘a prophet of the Lord’ through whom ‘the Word of the Lord... came to all Israel’ (1 Samuel 3:10, 19-4:1). Let us ground our children in Christ, encouraging them to have great expectations of what God can do in and with their lives as they grow up, loving Him. The people of Israel were ‘defeated’ by the Philistines. The greatest tragedy of this defeat was the ‘capture’ of ‘the ark of God’: ‘The glory has departed from Israel, for the ark of God has been captured’ (1 Samuel 4:10-11, 22). We may lose ‘goods, honour, children, wife’ (Church Hymnary, 406). The glory of God among His people - We must not lose this!
God loves us. He leads us in the way everlasting.
Through Christ our Saviour, we are led ‘in the way everlasting’: ‘God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son’ (Psalm 139:24; 1 John 5:11). God’s great purpose of eternal salvation seems ‘too wonderful’ - ‘too good to be true’! ‘It is a thing most wonderful, almost too wonderful to be, that God’s own Son should come from heaven and die to save a child like me, and yet I know that it is true...’ (Psalm 139:6; Church Hymnary, 385). God has a glorious future planned for us. We can hardly even begin to take it in: ‘Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain.’ We know that ‘no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love Him’ yet we rejoice in this: ‘God has revealed it to us by His Spirit’ (Psalm 139:6; 1 Corinthians 2:9-10). ‘Lead me in the way everlasting!’ (Psalm 139:24).
God loves us. His love for us inspires our love for Him.
Obedience is grounded in salvation. The Ten Commandments (Deuteronomy 5:7-21) are preceded by the divine declaration: ‘I am the Lord your God’who brought you... out of the house of bondage’ (Deuteronomy 5:6). He has redeemed us. We are to live for Him. The Word of God was spoken to Moses before it was spoken by him (Deuteronomy 5:27). We cannot begin to live for the Lord until we begin to listen to Him. The way of obedience is the way of blessing. Our obedience is to be offered in a spirit of gratitude to God for His gracious salvation. Never imagine it is because of our obedience that God loves us. His love for us is always prior to our love for Him. Remember what the Lord has done for you, and your love for Him will grow stronger. Forget, and you love will grow weaker. Loved by God, let us love Him - more!
God loves us. He calls us to worship Him with joy.
God calls us to worship Him with joy - ‘Sing aloud to God our strength; shout for joy to the God of Jacob!’ (Psalm 81:1). He has blessed us with His salvation - ‘I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt.’ He will continue to bless us, as we keep on looking to Him for blessing - ‘Open your mouth wide, and I will fill it’ (Psalm 81:10). God wants to bless us. He wants us to seek His blessing - ‘O that my people would listen to me, that Israel would walk in My ways! ... I would feed you with the finest of wheat, and with honey from the rock I would satisfy you’ (Psalm 81:13, 16). Far too often, we can’t be bothered with God and are not really interested in seeking His blessing - ‘My people did not listen to My voice; Israel would have none of me’ (Psalm 81:11). ‘You will seek Me and find Me; when you seek Me with all your heart’ (Jeremiah 29:13).
God loves us. He calls us to be saved by Him and to serve Him.
God has called us to salvation - ‘God has shone in our hearts…’ (2 Corinthians 4:6). He has called us to service - ‘having this ministry by the mercy of God’ (2 Corinthians 4:1). We receive salvation through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ: ‘Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved’ (Acts 16:31). We are not to keep our faith to ourselves. We ‘believe.’ We are to ‘speak.’ This is God’s way of reaching ‘more and more people’ with His ‘grace’ (2 Corinthians 4:13-15). Our experience of salvation and our empowering for service are both grounded in one great gift from God: ‘God… has given us the Spirit’ (2 Corinthians 5:5). We fail our Lord often. Our faith is weak. Our witness seems so ineffective. When you feel such a failure, remember the Spirit. He will not fail you. He is our ‘guarantee of heavenly and eternal glory’ (2 Corinthians 4:16-5:5).
God loves us. He makes us a new creation in Christ.
Jesus changes people. Levi became Matthew (Mark 2:14). He became ‘a new creation’ (2 Corinthians 5:17). The change of name marked his new birth (John 3:6). To be changed by Jesus you must recognize yourself as a sinner (17). There is a world of difference between legal obedience - ‘old wine’ - and Gospel obedience - ‘new wine’ (Mark2:21-22). There is an eternity of difference between belonging to God’s Kingdom and remaining outside of His Kingdom (John 3:3, 5, 7). The religion of the Pharisees was legalistic. The obedience of Jesus was spiritual. Will we follow Jesus, or will we be like these ‘religious’ men who planned ‘to destroy Him’ (Mark 3:6)? It is sadly possible to participate in ‘religion’, professing faith in ‘the Son of God’, in an ‘unclean spirit’ (Mark 3:11). Prompted by the Holy Spirit, let us truly confess that ‘Jesus is Lord’ (1 Corinthians 12:3).
The Bible Readings are taken from the Revised Common Lectionary - Year B.