Alf Clark walks the city streets looking for Zacchaeus. Well, not the actual one in the Bible—Jesus already found him. Alf and some friends who serve with an urban ministry do what Jesus did in Luke 19. They go purposefully through town to meet with and help those in need.
Alf walks house to house in his neighborhood, knocking on doors and saying to whoever peeks out, “Hi, I’m Alf. Do you have any needs I can pray for?” It’s his way of opening up communication and—like Jesus did with tax-collector Zacchaeus—seeking to supply needed counsel and spiritual life and hope.
Notice what Jesus did. Luke simply says that Jesus “passed through” Jericho (Luke 19:1). Of course, a crowd gathered, as usually occurred when Jesus came to town. Zacchaeus, being “height challenged,” climbed a tree. Jesus, while passing through, walked right over to his tree and told him He had to visit at his house. That day salvation came to Zacchaeus’s house. Jesus had “come to seek and to save that which was lost” (v.10).
Do we look for Zacchaeus? He is everywhere, needing Jesus. In what ways can we share Christ’s love with people who need the Savior?
God, guide our steps toward and not away from those who need You. Then guide our words and our actions so that we can be purposeful in our encounters with others.
God’s good news is too good to keep to ourselves.
When Zacchaeus said he would “restore fourfold” (v.8), he followed the highest pattern rather than the one required under Jewish law. While fourfold restoration was required for sheep stealing (see Ex. 22:1 and David’s response to Nathan, 2 Sam. 12:5-6), the restitution for normal theft was a return of the principal plus an extra 20 percent.
On a plateau high above the Atacama Desert in Chile, one of the world’s largest radio telescopes is giving astronomers a view of the universe never seen before. In an Associated Press article, Luis Andres Henao spoke of scientists from many countries “looking for clues about the dawn of the cosmos—from the coldest gases and dust where galaxies are formed and stars are born to the energy produced by the Big Bang.”
The Bible celebrates the mighty power and infinite understanding of God who “counts the number of the stars” and “calls them all by name” (Ps. 147:4). Yet the Creator of the universe is not a remote, uncaring force, but a loving heavenly Father who “heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds” (v.3). “The Lord lifts up the humble” (v.6) and “takes pleasure in those who fear Him, in those who hope in His mercy” (v.11).
He loves us so much that “He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16).
British author J. B. Phillips called Earth “the visited planet,” where the Prince of Glory is still working out His plan.
Our hope for today and forever lies in the loving mercy of God who calls each star by name.
The God who made the firmament, Who made the deepest sea, The God who put the stars in place Is the God who cares for me. —Berg
God, who knows the name of every star, knows all our names as well.
The book of Psalms concludes with five hymns of praise (Psalms 146–150) that begin and end with the refrain, “Praise the Lord!” (Hebrew, Hallelujah). In Psalm 147, the psalmist calls for grateful worship (vv.1,7) as he reflects on the goodness of God to Israel (vv.2-3,6) and on His greatness in creation (vv.4-5,8-9). The psalmist celebrates God’s loving faithfulness in caring and blessing His chosen people individually (vv.2-3,7) and in displaying His mighty power in creating and sustaining His creation generally (vv.4-5,8-9). Focusing not only on God’s greatness but also on His closeness, goodness, and kindness, the psalmist affirms that it is God alone who provides security and prosperity (vv.13-14).
Recently, while watching a video of a church service held in South America, I noticed something I had never seen before in church. As the pastor passionately called his flock to yield their lives to Jesus, one of the parishioners took a white hankie out of his pocket and started waving it in the air. Then another, and another. With tears running down their cheeks, they were expressing full surrender to Christ.
But I wonder if there was more to the moment than the flags of surrender. I think they were waving flags of love to God. When God told His people to “love the Lord your God” (Deut. 6:5), it was in the context of His urging them to surrender their lives to Him.
From God’s point of view, life with Him is far more than just trying to be good. It is always about relationship—relationship in which surrender is the way we express our grateful love to Him. Jesus, in amazing love for us, surrendered Himself on the cross to rescue us from our helpless bondage to sin and set us on a journey to all that is good and glorious.
We don’t have enough words to tell God how much we love Him! So, let’s show Him our love by surrendering our hearts and lives to follow Him.
Lord, take my life and make it wholly Thine; Fill my poor heart with Thy great love divine. Take all my will, my passion, self, and pride; I now surrender, Lord—in me abide. —Orr
Surrender is God’s love language.
Deuteronomy 6:4 contains the Shema (or Shema Yisrael). This affirmation of the oneness of God (“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one!”) is the centerpiece of the morning and evening prayers of observant Jews. The title Shema comes from the Hebrew term for the first word in the verse, hear.