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Third Sunday after Pentecost: Genesis 12:1-9; Psalm 33:1-12 or Hosea 5:15-6:6; Psalm 50:7-15; Romans 4:13-25; Matthew 9:9-13, 18-26

God comes to us with grace and power. Let us rejoice in His faithfulness.

This is a divine Story, carried forward by God’s grace and power.
God’s very great promises (Genesis 12:1-3) find their ultimate fulfilment in the coming of God’s eternal Kingdom (Revelation 21:10).
We have not reached our heavenly destination. We are still caught in the tension between obedience (Genesis 12:4) and disobedience (Genesis 12:11-13).
We are conscious of our human failure, yet we rejoice in the divine faithfulness.
We read of Abraham’s sin (Genesis 12:10-20), yet we look beyond this to God's salvation.
This is not simply the story of Abraham. It is the Story of Abraham's God.
This becomes clear in the change of name.
Abram (‘exalted father’) draws attention to the man. Abraham (‘Father of Many’) points to God’s purpose (Genesis 17:5).
Like Abraham, we are to worship God (Genesis 12:7-8). We are to say, ‘He is exalted.’ We are to say, ‘Christ must increase, and I must decrease’ (John 3:30).

We have plenty of good reasons for rejoicing in the Lord.

‘Rejoice in the Lord, O you righteous’ (Psalm 33:1).
We have plenty of good reasons for rejoicing in the Lord.
* He opens His heart to us, making known ‘the thoughts of His heart to all generations’ (Psalm 33:11).
* In His heart, there is love for us - ‘the earth is full of the steadfast love of the Lord’ (Psalm 33:5).
* He speaks to us of His love. Listening to His voice of love, our joy increases as we learn to trust in His Word - ‘the Word of the Lord is right and true’- and rest in His faithfulness - ‘He is faithful in all He does’ (Psalm 33:4).
We have good cause to say, ‘Our heart is glad in Him’ (Psalm 33:20).
Think of God’s love - His heart of love, His purpose of love, His Word of love.
Let His love touch your heart and change your life. May His love cause each of us to pray from the heart: ‘May Your unfailing love rest upon us, O Lord’ (Psalm 33:22).

We rejoice in the Lord’s wonderful love. Let us love Him with a ‘steadfast love.’
We are to leave the old way of sinful disobedience and follow the new way of faith and obedience: ‘Come, let us return to the Lord... Let us press on to know the Lord’.
As we return to the Lord, pressing on to know Him, His blessing returns to us. He leads us in the way of fruitfulness: ‘He will come to us as the showers, as the spring rains that water the earth’ (Hosea 6:1, 3).
We must not be like those who react to God’s Word with ‘pride’: ‘They do not return to the Lord their God’. God longs to ‘redeem’ them, yet they ‘rebel against’ Him: ‘They do not turn to the Most High God’ (Hosea 7:10, 13, 16).
Our ‘love’ for God is not to be ‘like the early dew that disappears’. Let us ‘acknowledge our guilt and seek His face’. Let us love Him with a ‘steadfast love’ (Hosea 5:15; 6:4, 6).

God comes to us. He speaks to us. Treasure His presence. Listen to His voice.
‘Our God comes, He does not keep silence’ (Psalm 50:3).
God does not keep His distance. He comes near to us. He does not keep His silence. He speaks to us - ‘God the Lord speaks’ (Psalm 50:1).
* How does God come near to us? How does He speak to us?
He comes near to us in Jesus Christ. He speaks to us through Jesus Christ.
In John 1:1, we have this tremendous description of Jesus Christ: ‘In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.’ Jesus Christ is the Word. God is speaking to us through Jesus Christ.
* How does God speak to us through Jesus Christ?
He speaks to us by drawing near to us - ‘the Word became flesh and dwelt among us’. Jesus Christ is God’s Word. He is God, speaking to us. He is God, coming near to us. He is God, ‘full of grace and truth’ (John 1:14).

We come to God’s throne of grace. We give thanks for the Word of His grace.
Salvation is not a ‘reward’ to be ‘earned.’ It is God’s ‘gift’ (Romans 4:4-5). Salvation comes from the Lord.
‘God so loved the world that He gave His only Son’ (John 3:16): Without the love of God, the gift of God, the Son of God, there can be no salvation. The way of salvation does not begin with the word ‘I.’ Jesus Christ is the Way. He is the Saviour. Salvation is in Him (John 14:6; Matthew 1:21; Acts 4:12).
Looking to ‘Jesus our Lord’, crucified and raised for our salvation, we are saved and we give ‘glory to God’ (Romans 4:20-25). We rejoice in ‘God our Saviour’ - ‘He saved us, not because of deeds done by us in righteousness, but in virtue of His own mercy...’ (Titus 3:4-7).
Looking away from ourselves to Christ, we learn the truth of God’s Word: ‘it is on the basis of faith that it may rest on grace’ (Romans 4:16). This is Good News!

The Lord has done great things for us. Let us do great things for Him.
Christ demonstrates His power over nature (Matthew 8:23), demons (Matthew 8:28-34) and sickness (Matthew 9:1-8).
Following such mighty works of power, the next verse seems so ordinary - Jesus said, ‘Follow me’. Matthew ‘rose and followed Him’ (Matthew 9:9).
Matthew’s conversion may seem so unspectacular, but it is no less a mighty work of God than the great miracles which preceded it.
Where does the desire to follow Christ come from? Does it come from our own sinful hearts? No! It comes from the Word of Christ, spoken in power and love - ‘He drew me and I followed on, charmed to confess the Voice Divine’ (Mission Praise, 499).
In the human heart there is resistance - we say, ‘I am “righteous.” “I have no need”of a Saviour’ (Matthew 9:12-13). This resistance is broken down by Christ when ‘new wine is put into fresh wineskins’ (Matthew 9:17).
In Jesus’ miracles, we see His triumph over sin, death and hell.
As well as healing, there is forgiveness (Matthew 9:5-6), the raising of the dead (Matthew 9:18, 24-25) and the casting out of demons (Matthew 9:33).
The Pharisees (Jewish religious leaders) did not like what was happening, and they came up with their own explanation - ‘He casts out demons by the prince of demons’ (Matthew 9:34).
Jesus gives us another, better, explanation: ‘The Spirit of the Lord is upon me...’ (Luke 4:18-19).
Jesus was sent to preach the Gospel. We are to bring the Gospel to other people.
Jesus was 'teaching... preaching... and healing' (Matthew 9:35).
What opportunities there are to bring the healing power of Christ into many hearts and homes! These opportunities will be missed if ‘the labourers’ remain ‘few’ (Matthew 9:37). Many are ‘harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd’ (Matthew 9:36). We must not fail them!


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