Overshadowed

The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you. —Luke 1:35

The assassination of US President John F. Kennedy stunned people around the globe 50 years ago today. The day after the shooting, an article in The Times (London) spoke of the reverberations being felt throughout world financial markets. It carried the headline, “All Other Events Overshadowed by US Tragedy.”

There are times in our lives when a death, a tragedy, or a sudden turn of events eclipses everything else. It happened to an unmarried young woman who was told that she would become the mother of the promised Messiah, God’s Son (Luke 1:26-33). When she asked how this could happen, the angel Gabriel said, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you” (v.35).

The impossibility in Mary’s life was overshadowed not by darkness but by the brightness of God’s glory and power. Her response continues to leave us in awe: “Let it be to me according to your word” (v.38).

In the coming weeks, as we read again the Christmas story and consider the birth of Jesus into our world, it’s worth pondering the word overshadowed. It speaks so powerfully of the Lord’s presence in our hearts and His ability to outshine the darkest moments. by David C. McCasland

I’m overshadowed by His mighty love,
Love eternal, changeless, pure,
Overshadowed by His mighty love,
Rest is mine, serene, secure. —Ironside

In every situation, we are overshadowed by God’s mighty love and power.

The Unknown Creator

“He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not.” (John 1:10)

This verse is surely one of the saddest, most poignant verses in all the Word of God. In the Lord Jesus Christ, our Creator/Redeemer, “we live, and move, and have our being” (Acts 17:28). The atoms of our bodies are sustained by Him (Colossians 1:17), yet multitudes ignore Him, ridicule Him, and take His name in vain. What presumption! What foolishness!

Once He even entered visibly into the world He had created so that people actually could hear His words of life and see His works of love. But they willfully refused to acknowledge Him, and then hung Him on a cross to die.

The height of irony and the depth of foolishness are reached when those whose very minds and bodies were created by Christ refuse even to admit the fact of creation. In effect, they turn Psalm 100:3 upside down and claim: “It is not he that hath made us—it is we ourselves!” Not only do modern men deny His creation, they also reject His salvation, thinking they can save themselves.

It is important to note that John 1:10 specifically refers to the refusal of the “world” to know Him as its Creator. It was made by Him, but would not acknowledge His work of creation. How then could the world ever “receive” Him as its Savior (v. 11)? Only its Creator could ever become its Savior, since no one else in all creation was both deserving and capable of such a mission.

Even more inexcusable than those who rejected Him when He was here in the world are those who reject Him today. With all the marvelous evidences of creative design in nature as revealed by modern science, plus the unanswerable evidences of His own bodily resurrection from the dead, it is wicked foolishness for modern men and women still to reject Him as their Creator and Savior. HMM

When Facing Life’s Mountains

Zechariah 4:1-14

In the vision God gave to Zechariah, the mountain is an illustration of a barrier or hindrance. We might wonder what the prophet’s strange dreams can teach us today. While the imagery is foreign, the principles are repeated throughout the Bible.

Zerubbabel, leader of Judah, and a group of 50,000 captives had been released by the Babylonians to return to Jerusalem. There, they began to rebuild the temple walls but were attacked by hostile neighbors. As a result, God’s people were discouraged and on the verge of giving up. In verse six, God reminded Zerubbabel through Zechariah that progress is made “not by might nor by power but by My Spirit.” In other words, when God calls us to a task, He Himself assumes responsibility for removing hindrances. The Lord went on to ask, “What are you, O great mountain?” Nothing but flatland would remain once He worked through Zerubbabel.

God never intended for us to face seemingly insurmountable tasks in our own strength. Instead, we’re to rely on the Holy Spirit’s power within us. We are like the lampstand (v. 2) that was to be kept constantly burning in the temple. In Zechariah’s dream, the olive trees on each side of the lampstand were pouring oil directly into its bowl, with no help from the priests (v. 12). Like those olive trees, the Holy Spirit was God’s promise of continual help to the weary people. We, too, can trust the Lord to pour His Spirit into our lives for help when we’re facing a “mountain” of an obstacle.

Believe ye that I am able to do this?

“Believe ye that I am able to do this?” (Matt. 9:28.)

GOD deals with impossibilities. It is never too late for Him to do so, when the impossible is brought to Him, in full faith, by the one in whose life and circumstances the impossible must be accomplished if God is to be glorified. If in our own life there have been rebellion, unbelief, sin, and disaster, it is never too late for God to deal triumphantly with these tragic facts if brought to Him in full surrender and trust. It has often been said, and with truth, that Christianity is the only religion that can deal with man’s past. God can “restore… the years that the locust hath eaten” (Joel 2:25); and He will do this when we put the whole situation and ourselves unreservedly and believingly into His hands. Not because of what we are but because of what He is. God forgives and heals and restores. He is “the God of all grace.” Let us praise Him and trust Him.—Sunday School Times.

“Nothing is too hard for Jesus
No man can work like Him.”

“We have a God who delights in impossibilities.” Nothing too hard for Me.—Andrew Murray.

The power of His resurrection

“The power of His resurrection.” Philippians 3:10

The doctrine of a risen Saviour is exceedingly precious. The resurrection is the corner-stone of the entire building of Christianity. It is the key-stone of the arch of our salvation. It would take a volume to set forth all the streams of living water which flow from this one sacred source, the resurrection of our dear Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ; but to know that He has risen, and to have fellowship with Him as such—communing with the risen Saviour by possessing a risen life—seeing Him leave the tomb by leaving the tomb of worldliness ourselves, this is even still more precious.

The doctrine is the basis of the experience, but as the flower is more lovely than the root, so is the experience of fellowship with the risen Saviour more lovely than the doctrine itself. I would have you believe that Christ rose from the dead so as to sing of it, and derive all the consolation which it is possible for you to extract from this well ascertained and well-witnessed fact; but I beseech you, rest not contented even there. Though you cannot, like the disciples, see Him visibly, yet I bid you aspire to see Christ Jesus by the eye of faith; and though, like Mary Magdalene, you may not “touch” Him, yet may you be privileged to converse with Him, and to know that He is risen, you yourselves being risen in Him to newness of life.

To know a crucified Saviour as having crucified all my sins, is a high degree of knowledge; but to know a risen Saviour as having justified me, and to realize that He has bestowed upon me new life, having given me to be a new creature through His own newness of life, this is a noble style of experience: short of it, none ought to rest satisfied. May you both “know Him, and the power of His resurrection.” Why should souls who are quickened with Jesus, wear the grave-clothes of worldliness and unbelief? Rise, for the Lord is risen.

Israel served for a wife, and for a wife he kept sheep

“Israel served for a wife, and for a wife he kept sheep.” Hosea 12:12

Jacob, while expostulating with Laban, thus describes his own toil, “This twenty years have I been with thee. That which was torn of beasts I brought not unto thee: I bare the loss of it; of my hand didst thou require it, whether stolen by day, or stolen by night. Thus I was; in the day the drought consumed me, and the frost by night; and my sleep departed from mine eyes.” Even more toilsome than this was the life of our Saviour here below. He watched over all His sheep till He gave in as His last account, “Of all those whom Thou hast given me I have lost none.” His hair was wet with dew, and His locks with the drops of the night.

Sleep departed from His eyes, for all night He was in prayer wrestling for His people. One night Peter must be pleaded for; anon, another claims His tearful intercession. No shepherd sitting beneath the cold skies, looking up to the stars, could ever utter such complaints because of the hardness of his toil as Jesus Christ might have brought, if He had chosen to do so, because of the sternness of His service in order to procure His spouse—

“Cold mountains and the midnight air,
Witnessed the fervour of His prayer;
The desert His temptations knew,
His conflict and His victory too.”

It is sweet to dwell upon the spiritual parallel of Laban having required all the sheep at Jacob’s hand. If they were torn of beasts, Jacob must make it good; if any of them died, he must stand as surety for the whole. Was not the toil of Jesus for His Church the toil of one who was under suretiship obligations to bring every believing one safe to the hand of Him who had committed them to His charge? Look upon toiling Jacob, and you see a representation of Him of whom we read, “He shall feed His flock like a shepherd.”