ABSURDITIES AND IRONIES

“Father, I give you my life.” After Jesus said this, he died. LUKE 23:46

As Christ gave his final breath, the earth gave a sudden stir. A rock rolled, and a soldier stumbled. Then, as suddenly as the silence was broken, the silence returned. And now all is quiet. The mocking has ceased.

There is no one to mock.

The soldiers are busy with the business of cleaning up the dead. Two men have come. Dressed well and meaning well, they are given the body of Jesus.

And we are left with the relics of his death.

Three nails in a bin.

Three cross-shaped shadows.

A braided crown with scarlet tips.

Bizarre, isn’t it? The thought that this blood is not man’s blood but God’s?

Crazy, isn’t it? To think that these nails held your sins to a cross? …

Absurdities and ironies. The hill of Calvary is nothing if not both.

from HE CHOSE THE NAILS

Grace Teaches Us

He gave himself for us so he might pay the price to free us from all evil and to make us pure people who belong only to him. TITUS 2:14

Do we ever compromise tonight, knowing we’ll confess tomorrow?

It’s easy to be like the fellow visiting Las Vegas who called the preacher, wanting to know the hours of the Sunday service. The preacher was impressed. “Most people who come to Las Vegas don’t do so to go to church.”

“Oh, I’m not coming for the church. I’m coming for the gambling and parties and wild women. If I have half as much fun as I intend to, I’ll need a church come Sunday morning.”

Is that the intent of grace? Is God’s goal to promote disobedience? Hardly. “Grace … teaches us not to live against God nor to do the evil things the world wants us to do. Instead, that grace teaches us to live now in a wise and right way and in a way that shows we serve God” (Titus 2:11–12). God’s grace has released us from selfishness. Why return?

In the Grip of Grace

When to Pray

“Continue in prayer, and watch in the same with thanksgiving.” (Colossians 4:2)

There is no set time to pray, for it is always appropriate. Our text tells us to “continue” in prayer, and this is the same word as in Romans 12:12, which urges us to be “instant in” prayer. In fact, the admonition of 1 Thessalonians 5:17 is to “pray without ceasing.”

Children should pray, as did little Samuel. When the Lord called him, he could answer: “Speak; for thy servant heareth” (1 Samuel 3:10). Young people should pray, as Timothy, who was exhorted by Paul to make “supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks . . . for all men” (1 Timothy 2:1). Adult men should pray, as did Paul himself, who could say to the Christians of Philippi that he was “always in every prayer of mine for you all making request with joy” (Philippians 1:4). Old men should pray, like Simeon, and old women, like Anna, who “served God with fastings and prayers night and day” (Luke 2:25, 36-37). And even dying men should pray, as did Stephen who, as he was being stoned to death, was also “calling upon God, and saying, Lord Jesus, receive my spirit” (Acts 7:59).

We can pray at dawn like David, who said: “My voice shalt thou hear in the morning, O LORD; in the morning will I direct my prayer unto thee, and will look up” (Psalm 5:3). In a Philippian prison, “at midnight Paul and Silas prayed, and sang praises unto God” (Acts 16:25). Daniel “kneeled upon his knees three times a day, and prayed” (Daniel 6:10). There is no time that is not a good time for prayer. One should pray in times of sorrow and also in times of joy, as did Hannah in both circumstances (1 Samuel 1:15; 2:1).

It is a most marvelous privilege that we have through Christ, that we are able to speak to the infinite God in prayer, and to know that He hears, and cares! Therefore, pray! HMM

Men ought always to pray, and not to faint

“He spake a parable unto them… that men ought always to pray, and not to faint.” (Luke 18:1.)

NO temptation in the life of intercession is more common than this of failure to persevere. We begin to pray for a certain thing; we put up our petitions for a day, a week, a month; and then, receiving as yet no definite answer, straightway we faint, and cease altogether from prayer concerning it.

This is a deadly fault. It is simply the snare of many beginnings with no completions. It is ruinous in all spheres of life.

The man who forms the habit of beginning without finishing has simply formed the habit of failure. The man who begins to pray about a thing and does not pray it through to a successful issue of answer has formed the same habit in prayer.

To faint is to fail; then defeat begets disheartenment, and unfaith in the reality of prayer, which is fatal to all success.

But someone says, “How long shall we pray? Do we not come to a place where we may cease from our petitions and rest the matter in God’s hands?”

There is but one answer. Pray until the thing you pray for has actually been granted, or until you have the assurance in your heart that it will be.

Only at one of these two places dare we stay our importunity, for prayer is not only a calling upon God, but also a conflict with Satan. And inasmuch as God is using our intercession as a mighty factor of victory in that conflict, He alone, and not we, must decide when we dare cease from our petitioning. So we dare not stay our prayer until the answer itself has come, or until we receive the assurance that it will come.

In the first case we stop because we see. In the other, we stop because we believe, and the faith of our heart is just as sure as the sight of our eyes; for it is faith from, yes, the faith of God, within us.

More and more, as we live the prayer life, shall we come to experience and recognize this Godgiven assurance, and know when to rest quietly in it, or when to continue our petitioning until we receive it.—The Practice of Prayer.

Tarry at the promise till God meets you there. He always returns by way of His promises.—Selected

Rise, take up thy bed, and walk

“Jesus saith unto him, Rise, take up thy bed, and walk.” John 5:8

Like many others, the impotent man had been waiting for a wonder to be wrought, and a sign to be given. Wearily did he watch the I pool, but no angel came, or came not for him; yet, thinking it to be his only chance, he waited still, and knew not that there was One near him whose word could heal him in a moment. Many are in the same plight: they are waiting for some singular emotion, remarkable impression, or celestial vision; they wait in vain and watch for nought. Even supposing that, in a few cases, remarkable signs are seen, yet these are rare, and no man has a right to look for them in his own case; no man especially who feels his impotency to avail himself of the moving of the water even if it came.

It is a very sad reflection that tens of thousands are now waiting in the use of means, and ordinances, and vows, and resolutions, and have so waited time out of mind, in vain, utterly in vain. Meanwhile these poor souls forget the present Saviour, who bids them look unto Him and be saved. He could heal them at once, but they prefer to wait for an angel and a wonder.

To trust Him is the sure way to every blessing, and He is worthy of the most implicit confidence; but unbelief makes them prefer the cold porches of Bethesda to the warm bosom of His love. O that the Lord may turn His eye upon the multitudes who are in this case to-night; may He forgive the slights which they put upon His divine power, and call them by that sweet constraining voice, to rise from the bed of despair, and in the energy of faith take up their bed and walk.

O Lord, hear our prayer for all such at this calm hour of sunset, and ere the day breaketh may they look and live.

Courteous reader, is there anything in this portion for you?

Great multitudes followed Him and were healed

“Great multitudes followed Him, and He healed them all.” Matthew 12:15

What a mass of hideous sickness must have thrust itself under the eye of Jesus! Yet we read not that He was disgusted, but patiently waited on every case. What a singular variety of evils must have met at His feet! What sickening ulcers and putrefying sores! Yet He was ready for every new shape of the monster evil, and was victor over it in every form. Let the arrow fly from what quarter it might, He quenched its fiery power. The heat of fever, or the cold of dropsy; the lethargy of palsy, or the rage of madness; the filth of leprosy, or the darkness of ophthalmia—all knew the power of His word, and fled at His command.

In every corner of the field He was triumphant over evil, and received the homage of delivered captives. He came, He saw, He conquered everywhere. It is even so this morning. Whatever my own case may be, the beloved Physician can heal me; and whatever may be the state of others whom I may remember at this moment in prayer, I may have hope in Jesus that He will be able to heal them of their sins. My child, my friend, my dearest one, I can have hope for each, for all, when I remember the healing power of my Lord; and on my own account, however severe my struggle with sins and infirmities, I may yet be of good cheer. He who on earth walked the hospitals, still dispenses His grace, and works wonders among the sons of men: let me go to Him at once in right earnest.

Let me praise Him, this morning, as I remember how He wrought His spiritual cures, which bring Him most renown. It was by taking upon Himself our sicknesses. “By His stripes we are healed.” The Church on earth is full of souls healed by our beloved Physician; and the inhabitants of heaven itself confess that “He healed them all.” Come, then, my soul, publish abroad the virtue of His grace, and let it be “to the Lord for a name, for an everlasting sign which shall not be cut off.”