THE CLOAK OF HUMANITY

Jesus took Peter, James, and John with him, and he began to be very sad and troubled. MARK 14:33

“While Jesus lived on earth, he prayed to God and asked God for help. He prayed with loud cries and tears to the One who could save him from death” (Hebrews 5:7). My, what a portrait! Jesus is in pain. Jesus is on the stage of fear. Jesus is cloaked, not in sainthood, but in humanity.

The next time the fog finds you, you might do well to remember Jesus in the garden. The next time you think that no one understands, reread the fourteenth chapter of Mark. The next time your self-pity convinces you that no one cares, pay a visit to Gethsemane. And the next time you wonder if God really perceives the pain that prevails on this dusty planet, listen to him pleading among the twisted trees.

from NO WONDER THEY CALL HIM THE SAVIOR

Listen for His Voice

Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you. HEBREWS 13:5 NIV

Let me state something important. There is never a time during which Jesus is not speaking. Never. There is never a place in which Jesus is not present. Never. There is never a room so dark … a lounge so sensual … an office so sophisticated … that the ever-present, ever-pursuing, relentlessly tender Friend in not there, tapping gently on the doors of our hearts—waiting to be invited in.

Few hear his voice. Fewer still open the door.

But never interpret our numbness as his absence. For amidst the fleeting promises of pleasure is the timeless promise of his presence.

“Surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (Matt. 28:20 NIV).…

There is no chorus so loud that the voice of God cannot be heard … if we will but listen.

In the Eye of the Storm

The Winds of the World

“The wind goeth toward the south, and turneth about unto the north; it whirleth about continually, and the wind returneth again according to his circuits.” (Ecclesiastes 1:6)

This is one of the Bible’s many scientific insights, written long before such a process was discovered in the modern science of meteorology. The basic circulation of the atmosphere (which generates the winds of the world) is “toward the south” near the ground, which then “turneth about unto the north” aloft. The heated air near the equator expands and rises, then flows north to replace the colder, heavier air which has descended to the ground in the polar regions.

This simple north-south-north cycle is complicated, however, by the earth’s rotation. Further complexities are introduced by the different topographical features of the surface (oceans, mountains, etc.), but the end result is a general circulation of the whole atmosphere, which “whirleth about continually, and . . . returneth again according to his circuits.”

None of this was understood at all until very modern times, but this ancient verse in Ecclesiastes corresponds beautifully to modern science. In fact, it was not even known until recent times that air had weight, but the patriarch Job had noted about 4,000 years ago that “He . . . seeth under the whole heaven; To make the weight for the winds” (Job 28:24-25), and this fact is essential to the atmospheric circulation.

This is only one of many scientific principles implied in the Bible ages before men discovered them in their scientific research. In contrast, there are no demonstrable scientific errors in the Bible. This is not really surprising, for the same God who wrote the Word made the world! In Jesus Christ “are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” (Colossians 2:3). HMM

Story of Gwen

“For our profit.” (Heb. 12:10.)

IN one of Ralph Connor’s books he tells a story of Gwen. Gwen was a wild, wilful lassie and one who had always been accustomed to haying her own way. Then one day she met with a terrible accident which crippled her for life. She became very rebellious and in the murmuring state she was visited by the Sky Pilot, as the missionary among the mountaineers was termed.

He told her the parable of the canyon. “At first there were no canyons, but only the broad, open prairie. One day the Master of the Prairie, walking over his great lawns, where were only grasses, asked the Prairie, ‘Where are your flowers?’ and the Prairie said, ‘Master I have no seeds.’

“Then he spoke to the birds, and they carried seeds of every kind of flower and strewed them far and wide, and soon the prairie bloomed with crocuses and roses and buffalo beans and the yellow crowfoot and the wild sunflowers and the red lilies all summer long. Then the Master came and was well pleased; but he missed the flowers he loved best of all, and he said to the Prairie: ‘Where are the clematis and the columbine, the sweet violets and wind-flowers, and all the ferns and flowering shrubs?’

“And again he spoke to the birds, and again they carried all the seeds and scattered them far and wide. But, again, when the Master came he could not find the flowers he loved best of all, and he said:

“‘Where are those my sweetest flowers?’ and the Prairie cried sorrowfully:

“‘Oh, Master, I cannot keep the flowers, for the winds sweep fiercely, and the sun beats upon my breast, and they wither up and fly away.’

“Then the Master spoke to the Lightning, and with one swift blow the Lightning cleft the Prairie to the heart. And the Prairie rocked and groaned in agony, and for many a day moaned bitterly over the black, jagged, gaping wound.

“But the river poured its waters through the cleft, and carried down deep black mould, and once more the birds carried seeds and strewed them in the canyon. And after a long time the rough rocks were decked out with soft mosses and trailing vines, and all the nooks were hung with clematis and columbine, and great elms lifted their huge tops high up into the sunlight, and down about their feet clustered the low cedars and balsams, and everywhere the violets and wind-flower and maiden-hair grew and bloomed, till the canyon became the Master’s favorite place for rest and peace and joy.”

Then the Sky Pilot read to her: “The fruit—I’ll read ‘flowers’—of the Spirit are love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness—and some of these grow only in the canyon.”

“Which are the canyon flowers?” asked Gwen softly, and the Pilot answered: “Gentleness, meekness, longsuffering; but though the others, love, joy, peace, bloom in the open, yet never with so rich a bloom and so sweet a perfume as in the canyon.”

For a long time Gwen lay quite still, and then said wistfully, while her lips trembled: “There are no flowers in my canyon, but only ragged rocks.”

“Some day they will bloom, Gwen dear; the Master will find them, and we, too, shall see them.” Beloved, when you come to your canyon, remember!

Bridle sin

“Keep back Thy servant also from presumptuous sins.” Psalm 19:13

Such was the prayer of the “man after God’s own heart.” Did holy David need to pray thus? How needful, then, must such a prayer be for us babes in grace! It is as if he said, “Keep me back, or I shall rush headlong over the precipice of sin.”

Our evil nature, like an ill-tempered horse, is apt to run away. May the grace of God put the bridle upon it, and hold it in, that it rush not into mischief. What might not the best of us do if it were not for the checks which the Lord sets upon us both in providence and in grace! The psalmist’s prayer is directed against the worst form of sin—that which is done with deliberation and wilfulness. Even the holiest need to be “kept back” from the vilest transgressions.

It is a solemn thing to find the apostle Paul warning saints against the most loathsome sins. “Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry.” What! do saints want warning against such sins as these? Yes, they do. The whitest robes, unless their purity be preserved by divine grace, will be defiled by the blackest spots. Experienced Christian, boast not in your experience; you will trip yet if you look away from Him who is able to keep you from falling. Ye whose love is fervent, whose faith is constant, whose hopes are bright, say not, “We shall never sin,” but rather cry, “Lead us not into temptation.”

There is enough tinder in the heart of the best of men to light a fire that shall burn to the lowest hell, unless God shall quench the sparks as they fall. Who would have dreamed that righteous Lot could be found drunken, and committing uncleanness? Hazael said, “Is Thy servant a dog, that he should do this thing?” and we are very apt to use the same self-righteous question. May infinite wisdom cure us of the madness of self-confidence.

I walk through this sinful world as a pilgrim in a foreign country

“I am a stranger with thee.” Psalm 39:12

Yes, O Lord, with Thee, but not to Thee. All my natural alienation from Thee, Thy grace has effectually removed; and now, in fellowship with Thyself, I walk through this sinful world as a pilgrim in a foreign country. Thou art a stranger in Thine own world. Man forgets Thee, dishonours Thee, sets up new laws and alien customs, and knows Thee not. When Thy dear Son came unto His own, His own received Him not. He was in the world, and the world was made by Him, and the world knew Him not.

Never was foreigner so speckled a bird among the denizens of any land as Thy beloved Son among His mother’s brethren. It is no marvel, then, if I who live the life of Jesus, should be unknown and a stranger here below. Lord, I would not be a citizen where Jesus was an alien.

His pierced hand has loosened the cords which once bound my soul to earth, and now I find myself a stranger in the land. My speech seems to these Babylonians among whom I dwell an outlandish tongue, my manners are singular, and my actions are strange. A Tartar would be more at home in Cheapside than I could ever be in the haunts of sinners.

But here is the sweetness of my lot: I am a stranger with Thee. Thou art my fellow-sufferer, my fellow-pilgrim. Oh, what joy to wander in such blessed society! My heart burns within me by the way when thou dost speak to me, and though I be a sojourner, I am far more blest than those who sit on thrones, and far more at home than those who dwell in their ceiled houses.

“To me remains nor place, nor time:
My country is in every clime;
I can be calm and free from care
On any shore, since God is there.

While place we seek, or place we shun,
The soul finds happiness in none:
But with a God to guide our way,
‘Tis equal joy to go or stay.”