I do not count my life of any value to myself

There are many, many moments when I question God’s direction in my life when it comes to the furtherance of my education.  For some strange reason He has found His glory in my lack of education.  On the other hand, Paul, fully and completely educated, tried hard every day to ensure his life did not matter at all – he only wanted to make sure every person would have the opportunity of hearing the good news of God’s grace.

In light of that vision, nothing moved Paul, even the countless times he almost lost his life.  Even at his last trip to Jerusalem where he knew he would end his missionary journeys, his hope was in the Gospel, and the ministry of the word.  His faith was strong, he had no fear and he did not alter his purpose and knew he was completing his design.

There may have been even a sense of happiness that he was finishing his course well. He did not need an extra day or week to do more – his satisfaction and joy was in what he had done.  I am sure he was tired of the warfare in his journey and was looking towards the comfort he knew would be found being with Jesus.

So this message of grace, this message Paul preached everyday, what can we say about it? I found a sermon from Spurgeon on this and thought it might add some great thoughts..

Spurgeon in his sermon on this passage declared…

I shall try to proclaim that word, “GRACE,” so that those who know its joyful sound shall be glad, and those who despise it shall be cut to the heart! Grace is the essence of the Gospel! Grace is the one hope for this fallen world! Grace is the sole comfort of saints looking forward to Heaven!…Let me try to explain in a brief manner how the Gospel is the good news of Grace. The Gospel is an announcement that God is prepared to deal with guilty man on the ground of free favor and pure mercy. There would be no good news in saying that God is just, for, in the first place, that is not even news—we know that God is just. The natural conscience teaches man that. That God will punish sin and reward righteousness is not news at all and, if it were news, yet it would not be good news, for we have all sinned—and upon the ground of justice we must perish. But it is news and news of the best kind, that the Judge of all is prepared to pardon transgression and to justify the ungodly! It is good news to the sinful that the Lord will blot out sin, cover the sinner with righteousness and receive him into His favor—and that not on account of anything he has done, or will do—but out of Sovereign Grace!

Though we are all guilty without exception and all most justly condemned for our sins, yet God is ready to take us from under the curse of His Law and give us all the blessedness of righteous men as an act of pure mercy! Remember how David saw this and spoke of it in the 32nd Psalm—“Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. Blessed is the man unto whom the Lord imputes not iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no guile.” This is a message worth dying for, that through the Covenant of Grace, God can be just and yet the Justifier of him that believes in Jesus! That He can be the righteous Judge of men and yet believing men can be freely justified by His Grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus! That God is merciful and gracious—and is ready to bless the most unworthy—is a wonderful piece of news, worth a man’s spending a hundred lives to tell! My heart leaps within me as I repeat it in this Hall and tell the penitent, the desponding and the despairing that, though their sins deserve Hell, yet Grace can give them Heaven and make them fit for it—and that as a sovereign act of love—altogether independent of their character or what they deserve! Because the Lord has said, “I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion,” there is hope for the most hopeless! Since “it is not of him that wills, nor of him that runs, but of God that shows mercy,” (Rom. 9:16), there is an open door of hope for those who otherwise might despair!…

The Gospel message is of Grace because it is directed to those whose only claim is their need. (A Gospel Worth Dying For)

 But I do not count my life of any value to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the good news of God’s grace. – Acts 20:24

Have mercy on me

Jesus pretty much stayed in the boundaries of Israel, and even so, Israel hosted many travelers from other countries and neighbouring regions so that His fame went well past the physical boundaries of travel.

When He did travel to Tyre and Sidon, He did so for the direct purpose of finding rest, a place where they did not know Him. Unfortunately that rest did not come. The mother of a demoniac daughter was hoping that Jesus would come to her home and He had.

When she approached Jesus, He did not insult her nor was He insensitive in His rejection.  He was both sensitive to her need as well as His desire to teach something to His disciples.  He used well known household imagery in which to create an opportunity to lead the woman to a maturity in her faith, a more precise hope.  He also was wanting the disciples to see their role and their privilege in ministering to a needy, faith-filled heart. For both her and the disciples He showed that the greater the test comes greater faith in God. 

In asking for mercy for herself and healing for her daughter to the “son of David” she knew of the Jewish hope in the Messiah, as did the woman at Jacob’s well.  She hoped for, and expected to share in that Messianic blessing.

Just then a Canaanite woman from that region came out and started shouting, “Have mercy on me, Lord, Son of David; my daughter is tormented by a demon.”  But he did not answer her at all. And his disciples came and urged him, saying, “Send her away, for she keeps shouting after us.”  He answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” But she came and knelt before him, saying, “Lord, help me.”  He answered, “It is not fair to take the children’s food and throw it to the dogs.”  She said, “Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table.”  Then Jesus answered her, “Woman, great is your faith! Let it be done for you as you wish.” And her daughter was healed instantly. – Matthew 15:22-28

Left with hope and confidence

When the ten lepers were considering their approach to Jesus, it would seem by their cry for mercy, that they were filled with expectant faith.  And when Jesus asked them to go and show themselves to the priests before He healed them, I believe they left Jesus with rising hopes and confidence. Knowing how we think, I wonder how long into their journey did they talk about looking foolish in front of the priests.

We are not told too much about how they responded or engaged in conversation after meeting Jesus.  But when hope is on the line and there is absolutely nothing to lose, the tendency is that you will do what you have to do.  Worse, when your self-talk goes from being silent and contained to being verbal and spoken out loud and that self-talk comes from an unhealthy source, you find ways to fail, to lose.  One can only pray and hope that someone will stay focused and remind every one – “I don’t know, but we must obey.”

The only hope of healing is Jesus Christ and God’s mercy

On the way to Jerusalem Jesus was going through the region between Samaria and Galilee.  As he entered a village, ten lepers approached him. Keeping their distance,  they called out, saying, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!”  When he saw them, he said to them, “Go and show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went, they were made clean. Then one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice.  He prostrated himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him. And he was a Samaritan.  Then Jesus asked, “Were not ten made clean? But the other nine, where are they?  Was none of them found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?”  Then he said to him, “Get up and go on your way; your faith has made you well.” – Luke 17:11-19

The Everlasting God

helenkeller1

Hebrews 11:1

The Blessed (Hope) Confidence

NOTHING CAN BE DONE WITHOUT HOPE AND CONFIDENCE

The Eleven Major Differences That Hope and Confidence Create

Faith, Trust, Hope, Confidence, Love, Attitude. What’s the difference? 

 

Gives you a future

If I emphasize God’s mercy, I can emphasize my own sinfulness and in the same spirit, hoped for cleansing.  It is not healthy to dwell on your own sinfulness, God takes it in His hand and for those of us who have sinned and have been forgiven know how much we appreciate His mercy.

Our times of crisis ultimately become our times of opportunity.  As we commit ourselves to God, we find our faith in ourselves, in others and in God deepening.

Now to Him who is able to [carry out His purpose and] do superabundantly more than all that we dare ask or think [infinitely beyond our greatest prayers, hopes, or dreams], according to His power that is at work within us – Ephesians 3:20

For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope. – Jeremiah 29:11

Be strong, be courageous,
    all you that hope in the Lord. – Psalm 31:24

 For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all,[a] training us to renounce impiety and worldly passions, and in the present age to live lives that are self-controlled, upright, and godly, while we wait for the blessed hope and the manifestation of the glory of our great God and Savior,[b] Jesus Christ.  He it is who gave himself for us that he might redeem us from all iniquity and purify for himself a people of his own who are zealous for good deeds. – Titus 2:11-14

Why would we reject God’s mercy, our only hope of salvation?

Truly the eye of the Lord is on those who fear him,
    on those who hope in his steadfast love – Psalm 33:18

Our hope is in the resurrected Jesus Christ.

But you do see! Indeed you note trouble and grief, that you may take it into your hands; the helpless commit themselves to you; you have been the helper of the orphan. – Psalm 10:14

Be still, my soul: thy God doth undertake
To guide the future, as He has the past.
Thy hope, thy confidence let nothing shake;
All now mysterious shall be bright at last.

BE STILL MY SOUL by Katharina A. von Schlegel
Music: Jean Sibelius
(Be Still My Soul by Selah)
(Violin version of Be Still My Soul)