As part of our “Thriving in Uncertainty” resources, we offer to you another guest blog by Don Crellin, a retired American Baptist pastor who’s been part of our Rochester Covenant Church extended family for a number of years. Here’s another condensed version of a devotional Don sent recently to his grandchildren, shared with his permission. This week’s blog fits well with our Scripture text for our message this Sunday about Peter’s need to look into the face of Jesus in the midst of a storm, from Matthew 14:22-33.
SCRIPTURE TEXT: Hebrews 12:2 “We must with resolution run the race of life which we have entered. With our eyes fixed on Jesus, with whom faith depends from start to finish, and we must throw off every sin to which we cling.”
Grandma has been attached to her sewing machine the past few weeks making face masks for our family members so we will not catch the virus. She tried her first mask on m. It did not fit because she said my nose was too big. She went back to her machine and produced the second mask with more material—and my tall big nose still did not fit.
You have heard me say when you were little kids, “When God passed out noses I thought he said ‘roses,’ and I asked for a big red one.” We agreed I will wear a big hospital mask in public.
We wear all kinds of masks for different reasons and season. In Minnesota during the cold winter season we see people walking down the street with all kinds of masks keeping their face warm. In welding factories we see men and women wearing a protected mask to keep their eyes safe and their skin protected. We wear party masks especially at Halloween to disguise ourselves at our fun parties.
There are also emotional and spiritual masks we wear because we do not wish to have other people know who we really are emotionally or spiritually. Some masks are fake. Some masks are happy and healthy. But we should consider having the beautiful, loving and joyful shining face of Jesus on our faces instead—as we keep our eyes fixed on him until we literally see him face to face in heaven.
In the words of the old hymn, “Turn your eyes upon Jesus, / Look full in his wonderful face. / And the things of earth will grow strangely dim, / in the light of his glory and grace.” Jesus never hides his face from us.
Scriptures encourage us to keep our eyes fixed on Jesus Christ, God’s beloved Son, because he is the author and finisher of our faith/life journey.
1). First, we focus on our eyes and heart on the fact that Jesus, God’s Son, died on the cross to cleanse us from all our sin. He has given us a covering robe of his righteousness. Hebrews 11:6 reads: “Without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.” Do you believe and trust Jesus, that he is your Savior who died on the cross and that he has forgiven you and continues to forgive you for every sinful thought or deed you have committed? This is the gift of God’s love which God in Christ has given you. We are saved and forgiven from our sins by the blood of Christ.
2). Secondly, if by faith in Christ we have been forgiven our sins, then we can have the fortitude and strength to walk and talk with Jesus and keep up the race from the beginning to the end. And when we commit a sin, we have the promise: “If we confess our sin, he is able and just to forgive us our sin and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). When you are a son or daughter in God’s family, you will find times when you take your eyes off Jesus and you may trip and fall. But when you fall in any race you get back up on your feet and continue running.
God loves you so much that he says in Hebrews 12:7-8: “God is treating you as sons and daughters….If you escape the discipline which all sons and daughters share, you are not true sons and daughters of God. But because you are a child of God, you may be disciplined for your good…” But God forgives, and you can do all things through Christ who gives you the fortitude to run a victorious Christian race to the finish line. Christ will help you keep your stride and your steps from wavering if you keep your eyes on his face all the way to the finish line.
3). Thirdly, God’s everlasting love shines brightly through the face of Jesus Christ. And his smiling face can be your bright and loving face to all your family and friends—until you see Christ face to face in heaven, your final home. Jesus said he is the bright and shining light in a dark world. But he also said you are the reflection of my light in a dark world.
David sang in Psalm 67:1: “O God in mercy bless us; let your face beam with joy as you look down at us; send us around the world with the news of your saving power and your eternal plan for us.” And Jesus said to a group of fishermen in Matthew 5:16: “You are the world’s light—a city on a hill, glowing in the darkness for all to see. Don’t hide your light; let all your good deeds glow for all to see so they will praise your Heavenly Father.” And Paul says in 2 Corinthians 4:7: “For God who said, ‘Let there be light in the darkness,’ has made us understand that it is the brightness of his glory that is seen in the face of Jesus Christ.”
In closing, I encourage you to sing: “This little light of mine; I’m going to let it shine….Let it shine ‘til Jesus comes; I’m going to let it shine….”
PRAYER: Lord, like the hymn reads, help us to “Turn our eyes upon Jesus, / and look full in his wonderful face; / and the things of earth will grow strangely dim, / in the light of his glory and grace.” Even now we look into your wonderful Word and see Christ’s wonderful face. Help each of us to walk in the light of Christ’s radiant face and your wonderful grace. May your face be in all our hearts, so as we serve our family and friends your glowing love and bright tender care will be shown on our faces. Amen.