Seventh Sunday after Pentecost: Genesis 24:34-38, 42-49, 58-67; Psalm 45:10-17 or Song of Solomon 2:8-13 (or Zechariah 9:9-12); Psalm 145:8-14; Romans 7:15-25a; Matthew 11:16-19, 25-30
Rejoicing in God’s love and faithfulness, let us seek His guidance and blessing.
The detailed account of Isaac's marriage highlights the guidance of God.
He directs the life of His people. This is our testimony - ‘the Lord... has led me on the right road’ (Genesis 24:48).
The great lessons of this story are stated in Genesis 24:27.
(a) the ‘steadfast love’ of the Lord;
(b) the ‘faithfulness’ of God;
(c) the guidance of God - ‘the Lord has led me’;
(d) worshipping the Lord - ‘Blessed be the Lord...’
We are to seek God’s guidance, rejoicing in His love and trusting in His faithfulness. Looking to Christ, who went to the Cross for us, we are to say, with Him, ‘I have come to do Thy will, O God’, ‘I will praise Thee’, ‘I will put my trust in Him’, ‘Here am I, and the children God has given Me’ (Hebrews 10:7; 2:12-13).
To those who do His will, praising Him and trusting Him, God will give much blessing - ‘an overflowing blessing’ (Malachi 3:10).
In Genesis 24:60, we read of the blessing of God upon Rebekah - ‘Our sister, may you increase to thousands upon thousands; may your offspring possess the gates of their enemies’.
This refers to the long-term fulfilment of God’s promise to Abraham. Through the death of Christ, the Lamb of God, ‘a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation,’ will sing the song of salvation, ‘Salvation belongs to our God ...and to the Lamb’ (Revelation 7:9-10).
This is what we must pray for in our own community. In homes where Christ has not been honoured, there will be transformation.
The Lord’s messengers will be received - ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!’ - and the Lord’s Name will be praised - ‘Hosanna in the highest!’ (Matthew 21:9).
Such blessing will be given to those who spend time with God (Genesis 24:63; Joshua 1:8).
Rejoicing in God’s love and faithfulness, let us praise our Saviour, Jesus Christ.
Jesus Christ is ‘the most excellent of men’ (Psalm 45:2). He is more than that. He is God.
In Psalm 45:6, we read these words - ‘Your throne, O God, will last for ever and ever’. We read them again in Hebrews 1:8. They are the words which God the Father speaks to His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ.
* How does the Word of God describe Jesus Christ? - ‘He is your Lord’.
* How are we to respond to Him? - We are to approach Him with ‘reverence’. We are to ‘honour’ Him. We are to ‘bow down’ and ‘worship’ Him. We are to ‘obey’ Him (Psalm 45:11).
Think of the “Good News’ of our Lord Jesus Christ - ‘the Son of God loved me and gave Himself for me’.
Let your heart overflow with praise to the Lord Jesus Christ - What a wonderful Saviour He is (Psalm 45:1; Galatians 2:20)!
Let us celebrate His Name in this generation. Let Him be praised for ever and ever’ (Psalm 45:17).
‘Great is the Lord and greatly to be praised. His greatness is beyond understanding.’ Let us worship our great God: ‘I will exalt You, my God the King. I will praise Your Name for ever and ever. Every day I will praise You and extol Your Name for ever and ever’ (Psalm 145:1-3).
The God whom we worship is so much greater than the worship we bring to Him. Our worship is to be a ‘joyful celebration’.
* We celebrate His great love: ‘The Lord is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and rich in love’.
* We rejoice in His great faithfulness: ‘The Lord is faithful to all His promises’.
Here on earth, we have only begun to worship our great God. Our worship will continue in His ‘everlasting Kingdom’.
There, we will ‘praise His Name for ever and ever’ (Psalm 145:7-8, 13, 21).
Christ comes to us in love. Let us receive His love. Let us give Him our love.
Christ comes to us in love: ‘The Voice of my Beloved! Look! Here He comes...’ (Song of Solomon 2:8).
He calls us to come to Him: ‘My Beloved speaks and says to me, “Arise, my love, my beautiful one, and come away”’ (Song of Solomon 2:10).
He calls us to belong to Him: ‘My Beloved is mine and I am His’ (Song of Solomon 2:16).
* Let us come to Jesus and experience His love: ‘Jesus, how lovely You are! You are so gentle, so pure and kind...’
* Let us come to Jesus and give Him our love: ‘Jesus, I love You, love You more and more each day; Jesus, I love You, Your gentle touch renews my heart. It’s really no wonder why no other love can satisfy; Jesus, I love You, You’ve won this heart of mine!’
* Let us come to Jesus and receive His joy: ‘Jesus, I am resting, resting, in the joy of what Thou art; I am finding out the greatness of Thy loving heart’ (Mission Praise, 361, 363, 362).
‘...See your King comes to you... gentle and riding on a donkey...’ (Zechariah 9:9). These words point us to our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ. Jesus is our King. Jesus comes to us.
How are we to welcome our King? We are to welcome Him with joyful praise - ‘Blessed is He who comes in the Name of the Lord’ (Matthew 21:1-9; John 12:12-16).
* Jesus our King has come to us from God the Father: ‘When the time had fully come, God sent His Son...’
* Jesus our King has come to us to be our Saviour: ‘Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners’ (Galatians 4:4; 1 Timothy 1:15).
* Christ will come again - ‘with power and great glory’.
‘Come, Lord Jesus’ (Matthew 24:30; Revelation 22:20).
Through our Saviour, Jesus Christ, God is leading us in the way of victory.
God’s purpose is not easily fulfilled in us. Our battle with sin is extremely intense. There is a great conflict going on within us.
‘The Spirit’ and ‘the flesh’ are at war with each other (Galatians 5:17). God has given us His Spirit - ‘we serve... in the new life of the Spirit’ (Romans 7:6). We are still sinners - ‘I am carnal, a slave to sin’ (Romans 7:14). These are two sides of the one coin. The Spirit is within us yet we remain sinners.
Honestly confessing our sin, we say, ‘Wretched man that I am!’. Gladly rejoicing in our Saviour, we say, ‘Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!’ (Romans 7:24-25).
Despite our many defeats, we say, ‘Nothing will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord’ (Romans 8:39).
Wait for ‘the final result’: ‘God gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ’ (1 Corinthians 15:57).
The ministry of John the Baptist had one great purpose. It was to draw attention to Jesus the Saviour.
Jesus is superior to John. He is the One to whom John pointed.
There are two responses to Jesus.
* We can take offence at Him: ‘Blessed is he who takes no offence at Me’ (Matthew 11:6).
* We can hear what He says, receiving Him with faith: ‘He who has ears to hear, let him hear’ (Matthew 11:15).
In His time, Jesus asked the question, ‘To whom shall I compare this generation?’, giving the answer, ‘We played the flute for you, and you did not dance; we sang a dirge, and you did not mourn’ (Matthew 11:16-17).
* The promise of the Gospel is preached, yet many will not rejoice.
* The warning of the Gospel is preached, yet many will not repent.
This is the story of our generation.
May God help us to lead people of this generation to Christ, the ‘Friend of sinners’ (Matthew 11:19).
In John 16:8-11, Jesus speaks of the work of the Holy Spirit, convicting the world of sin, righteousness and judgment.
* Before there can be conversion, there needs to be conviction of sin.
None of us can come to the Saviour of sinners without first seeing ourselves as sinners who need the Saviour. God uses the warning of judgment to send us to the Saviour - there ‘will be...judgment’, so make sure that you ‘come’ to Christ for salvation (Matthew 11:24, 28; Luke 3:7-8; Hebrews 2:3; 3:7-15).
* Before there can be growth in grace, there needs to be conversion.
If we are to live a righteous life, we must learn from Christ (Matthew 11:29; 1 Peter 1:15-16), coming to Him for rest and being declared righteous by Him (Matthew 11:28; Romans 4:5-8).
In Christ, we have salvation, set free from judgment - ‘no condemnation’- and set free for righteousness - ‘living according to the Spirit’ (Romans 8:1).