Good memories flooded my mind as I sat in a concert. The group’s leader had just introduced the song they were about to sing: “Just As I Am.” I remembered how years ago at the end of his sermons my pastor would ask people to come forward while we sang that song, indicating they would like to receive the forgiveness Christ offers for their sins.
But the leader of the musical group at the concert suggested another occasion when we might sing this song. He commented that he likes to think that when he dies and goes to meet the Lord one day, he will sing in thanks to Him:
Just as I am, without one plea
But that Thy blood was shed for me,
And that Thou bidd’st me come to Thee,
O Lamb of God, I come!
Years before writing this song, Charlotte Elliott asked a minister how she might find the Lord. He told her, “Just come to Him as you are.” She did, and later during a discouraging time of illness, she wrote this hymn about the day she came to Christ and He forgave her sin.
In His Word, the Lord encourages us to seek Him: “Seek the Lord while He may be found, call upon Him while He is near” (Isa. 55:6). He calls to our hearts: “Ho! Everyone who thirsts, come to the waters . . . . Incline your ear, and come to Me. Hear, and your soul shall live” (vv.1,3).
Because of Jesus’ death and resurrection, we can come to Him right now and will one day go into eternity to be with Him forever. Just as I am . . . I come!
Let him who thirsts come. Whoever desires, let him take the water of life freely. —Revelation 22:17
Isaiah 55 has rich words of hope for us in its first seven verses. Arguably, however, the chapter’s most familiar words are found in the next two verses: “‘For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,’ says the Lord. ‘For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts’” (vv.8-9). These verses offer hope and assurance. God is in control and sees the big picture.
The Aran Islands, off the west coast of Ireland, are known for their beautiful sweaters. Patterns are woven into the fabric using sheep’s wool to craft the garments. Many of them relate to the culture and folklore of these small islands, but some are more personal. Each family on the islands has its own trademark pattern, which is so distinctive that if a fisherman were to drown it is said that he could be identified simply by examining his sweater for the family trademark.
In John’s first letter, the apostle describes things that are to be trademarks of those who are members of God’s family. In 1 John 3:1, John affirms that we are indeed part of God’s family by saying, “Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God!” He then describes the trademarks of those who are the children of God, including, “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God” (4:7).
Because “love is of God,” the chief way to reflect the heart of the Father is by displaying the love that characterizes Him. May we allow His love to reach out to others through us—for love is one of our family trademarks.
Father, teach me to love with the love of Christ that others might see Your love reflected in my care and concern for them. May Your love drive and dominate my responses to life and to others.
Love is the family resemblance the world should see in followers of Christ.
In 1 John 4:9, John’s words parallel those of Paul in Romans 5:8, which reads: “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Notice that with both Paul and John the emphasis is on how God’s love has been proven through the sending of His Son to us. Paul’s perspective, however, is rooted in our unworthiness while John’s focus is on the gift of life in Christ.
Mont Saint-Michel is a tidal island located about a half-mile off the coast of Normandy, France. For centuries it has been the site of an abbey and monastery that has attracted religious pilgrims. Until the construction of a causeway, it was notorious for its dangerous access that resulted in the death of some pilgrims. At low tide it is encompassed by sand banks, and at high tide it is surrounded by water. Accessing the island was a cause for fear.
Access to God for Old Testament Jews was also a cause for fear. When God thundered on Mt. Sinai, the people feared approaching Him (Ex. 19:10-16). And when access to God was granted through the high priest, specific instructions had to be followed (Lev. 16:1-34). Accidentally touching the ark of the covenant, which represented the holy presence of God, would result in death (see 2 Sam. 6:7-8).
But because of Jesus’ death and resurrection, we can now approach God without fear. God’s penalty for sin has been satisfied, and we are invited into God’s presence: “Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace” (Heb. 4:16).
Because of Jesus we can come to God through prayer anywhere, anytime.
Then boldly let our faith address God’s throne of grace and power, There to obtain delivering grace In every needy hour. —Watts
Through prayer, we have instant access to our Father.
For Jesus to be able to identify with and to save sinful humanity, it was necessary for Him to be fully human. Earlier, the writer of Hebrews affirmed that Jesus was fully “flesh and blood” like us (2:14 niv). Here in verse 15, he further affirmed that because He has been through suffering and temptation, Jesus knows what it is like when we suffer and are tempted. Jesus is therefore qualified and able to help us (Heb. 2:17-18; 5:1-2). But in order for Him to make propitiation for sins, Jesus had to be “without sin” (v.15, also 2 Cor. 5:21; Heb. 7:26-27; 1 John 3:5).