Monthly Archives: December 2012

JESUS AS KING

JESUS AS KING
“Pilate therefore said unto Him, Art Thou a King, then? Jesus answered, Thou sayest that I am a King.”– Joh_18:37.

OUR LORD’S Royalty is suggested by the opening paragraphs of St. Matthew’s Gospel, which emphasizes His descent from David; the wise men asked for Him who is born King of the Jews, and Herod feared His rivalry. All through the Gospel narrative, stress is constantly laid on the fact that He was King of the Jews and King of Israel, and it ends with the regal claim that all power and authority in heaven and earth had been entrusted to Him.
Jesus never abated His claim to Kingship, but always made it clear that His ideal was very different from that which was current among the Jews. His conception of Royalty was borrowed from Psa_72:4, where the King is said to judge the poor of the people, and save the children of the needy. It was the collision between His idea of Kingship and that of the Pharisees, which brought Him to the Cross.
For us the lesson is clear. We must begin with the recognition of the royal claims of Christ to our homage and obedience. He only becomes Saviour, in the fullest meaning of the word, when He has been enthroned as King in our hearts. With invariable precision He is described, first as Prince, then as Saviour, and that order cannot be altered without injury to our soul-life (Act_5:31; Rom_10:9; Heb_7:2). The whole content of the New Testament is altered when we view the Royalty of Christ as the chief cornerstone, not only of that structure, but of the edifice of character.
Let us not be afraid of Christ as King. He is meek and lowly, and full of understanding of the problems of our life. He shared our life, and was so poor that He had to trust in the kind offices of a friend to supply His physical needs, and in the palm branches of the peasant crowd for His palfrey and the carpeting of His royal procession; but as we watch it pass, the lowly triumph swells in proportions until it represents the whole race of mankind; and the generations that preceded His advent, and those that follow, sweep down the Ages of human history, proclaiming and acclaiming Christ as King. (Rev_15:3-4, R.V).

PRAYER
O God, may our hearts indite good matter, that our mouth may speak of our King. Whilst we adore Him as Wonderful may He become to us the Prince of Peace. Enable us to put the government of our lives upon His shoulder, and of His government and of our peace let there be no end. AMEN.

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Merry Christmas

The Hopes and Fears of All the Years

“And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger. And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child. And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds.” (Luk_2:16-18)

Phillips Brooks, Rector of Philadelphia, wrote the words to O Little Town of Bethlehem in 1868, following a pilgrimage to the Holy Land. He was inspired by the view of Bethlehem from the hills of Palestine especially at night time; hence the lyrics.

His church organist, Lewis Redner, wrote the melody for the Sunday school children’s choir.

There is a line from the first verse that almost gets lost in the bigger picture of the song. “The hopes and fears of all the years are met in thee tonight.” Hopes and Fears represent the polar ends of a wide range of feelings.

As we gaze back into that historic moment laid out before us in the Gospels, there we see a most remarkable assortment of figures gathering round about this infant boy. And unknowingly they unite to send a singular message down through the Ages.

We can come together in the presence of Christ.

This is the message of Christmas — kings and shepherds, angels and men, rich and poor, foreigner and citizen, influential and powerless — all ALIKE in one unforgettable moment of Community in the presence of the infant Christ.

Now consider — if the Babe in the Manger was orbed with such compelling influence that He could bring together those who otherwise would have nothing to do with one another, how much more so is this possible now that He is crowned King of Kings and Lord of Lords!

The hopes and fears of all the years were once gathered and resolved in a sacred evening long ago. O Lord, do it again in our world today — for night has fallen upon us, and we need Your light to show us the way.

May the full blessings of that first Christmas be yours on this blessed day, and everyday hereafter through the remaining days of your journey!

MERRY CHRISTMAS!!

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FIDELITY TO OUR PLEDGES

FIDELITY TO OUR PLEDGES
“For Thou, O God, hast heard my vows: Thou hast given me the heritage of those that fear Thy Name.” “I will pay my vows unto the Lord now in the presence of His people.”– Psa_61:5; Psa_116:18.

THE PSALMIST had been brought very low by the sorrows of death, but God had mercifully intervened to deliver him in answer to his cry, and he now walked before Him in the land of the living. It seemed as though the cup of salvation had been put into his hand, overflowing with blessing. He tells us that God had loosed his bonds, as though he had been some wild creature of the woods, who had been entrapped, but was now set free and able to realise its former glad buoyancy of life.
Under such circumstances, it is natural to ask, “What shall I render to the Lord for all His mercies toward me?” The first and most reasonable thing is to pay the vows which we promised when we were in trouble. Nothing so deadens the heart as to vow and not to pay.
We ought to fulfil our vows for many reasons. First, because it is dishonouring to God to play fast and loose with Him; second, it deteriorates character to resolve and not to do, for such failures render the next resolutions still more brittle; third, it is a great hindrance to those who may have heard us make our vows, when we go back on them; fourth, the vow which is not kept shows that we have failed, both in vowing and performing, to rely on the grace and power of the Holy Spirit. When a deed, from the inception of the first thought to its ultimate performance, is wrought in God, there can be no fear that it will not become permanent (Joh_3:21).
If you have vowed to be God’s servant, see that you are as you have vowed; if you have promised service, money, gifts, amendment, or lifelong devotion, be sure that your promise is kept. What a glorious affirmation is in Psa_116:16 : “O Lord, truly I am Thy servant.” The reduplication of the sentence is very significant, especially when joined to Psa_118:27. Do we not need to be tied by the cords of faith and hope and love of the mercies of God, and by the keeping grace of the Holy Spirit? Our own resolutions and pledges are so frail and uncertain, but God’s grace is sufficient to make us what we long to be in our best moments (Rom_12:1-2).

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QUIET RESTING PLACES

QUIET RESTING PLACES
“My people shall dwell in a peaceable habitation, and in sure dwellings, and in quiet resting places.”– Isa_32:18.

ISAIAH’S CONCEPTION of these quiet spots in our lives is set forth in Isa_32:2 of this chapter, as also by the Psalmist in the Psa_23:1-6. It is scorching noon. The glare from the limestone rocks is almost unbearable. The sunbeams strike like sword-blades. Every living creature has fled for shelter from the pitiless heat, with the exception of the little green lizards that dart to and fro in play, or searching for food. The shepherd has led his panting flock down into the valley, where great rocks cast dark shadows. Listen to the musical ripple of the brown-hued brook, as it glides lazily between the mossy banks, and breaks against the little pebbles that line its bed! These are the green pastures and the water of rest!
Have they not their counterpart in our lives? The happy days of childhood, when as yet we hardly knew temptation, and had not felt the unceasing strain of life’s tasks; perhaps it is the Sunday rest, with its blessed pause from the fever of activity, the calm and restful atmosphere of the House of God, the quiet stillness of worship and meditation; perhaps a period of convalescence after long illness, when we come slowly back to health and strength; or, it may be the annual holiday, when we spend long happy days by the sea, or in the country, amid the Alps or on the Broads. For physical, mental, and spiritual well-being we need days and weeks when the machinery of life has time to cool, and the water to drop its silt.
But if we would have an entrance to this peaceful habitation, we must fulfil the conditions. We must make Jesus our King, and put the sceptre of our life absolutely into His hands. We must hide under the shadow of the crucified Man of Nazareth, who offers Himself as a hiding-place from the scorching sirocco, and a coven from the tropical tempest (Isa_32:1, Isa_32:2). Isaiah says this quietness and confidence rest on Righteousness and Justice. They are not the gift of caprice or arbitrary choice. “God is faithful and just to forgive us our sins,” because in the Person of His Son all possible claims have been met (Rom_5:1).

PRAYER
O God, may there be a pause in the busy rush of daily life, not only in outward seeming, but in our inward temper. May our anxieties and cares be borne by Thyself on whom we cast them, that there may be nothing to break the repose and serenity of our hearts. Ordain peace for us, because Thou hast also wrought all our works in us. AMEN.

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THE QUEST FOR THE ETERNAL

THE QUEST FOR THE ETERNAL
“O God, Thou art my God; early will I seek Thee: my soul thirsteth for Thee; my flesh longeth for Thee in a dry and thirsty land, where no water is.”– Psa_63:1.

THIS PSALM has a special fascination for those who can no longer gather with the assemblies of God’s people. David was in flight from Absalom, wandering in the wilderness. The land around is waterless and weary, and his enemies are on his track. But all this seems secondary to his longing for God. Weary and thirsty though he is, his most agonizing desire is for God, the living God, as he had seen and known Him in the tent, which he had reared on Zion for His worship. The barren wilderness, seemed to reflect the craving of his soul for God.
In many hearts and lives his mood is reflected to-day. Our soul thirsts and pines for the vision of the power and glory of God, for the communion of saints. Perhaps David lays greater emphasis on the Sanctuary than we do on our places of worship. We must remember that the Glory of the Shekinah shone between the Cherubim in that hallowed Shrine.
In Psa_63:5-7, the longing soul seems satisfied. As we long for God, we find Him. As we seek, we possess (Isa_41:17-18). As we remember Him, we break into song. The fact is that our yearnings after God are the response of our hearts to the beat of His heart and to the knock of His hand. Prayer is the response of our nature to the circulation of His lifeblood within us. When we seek His face, it is in answer to His own summons. “When Thou saidst, Seek ye My face; my heart said unto Thee, Thy face, Lord, will I seek.” As one has stated it: “Our desires and aspirations are responses to the outflowings of the Holy Spirit in silent or expressed communion.”
The climax of the Psalm is reached in Psa_63:8. Notice the three-fold steps: my soul thirsts; my soul is satisfied; my soul followeth hard after Thee. Remember Him upon thy bed! Meditate on Him through the night-watches! Hide thyself under the shadow of His wings! Keep step with His purposes! Follow close behind Him! Whosoever follows hard on God’s track, trusting in Him, rejoicing in His companionship, reaching out toward Him, will feel his own outstretched hand enclosed in a strong and tender grasp, steadying against weariness and failure, and making His own footsteps a way for our feet.

PRAYER
Bestow upon me also, O Lord my God, understanding to know Thee, diligence to seek Thee, wisdom to find Thee, and a faithfulness that may finally embrace Thee. AMEN.

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LIGHT IN DARKNESS

LIGHT IN DARKNESS
“The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light: they that dwelt in the land of deep darkness, upon them hath the light shined.”– Isa_9:2 (R.V. marg.).

AS EVERY one is affected by the first man, Adam, so every one has a direct claim upon Jesus Christ, the second Man, whose Death and Resurrection and Ascension affect us all. He is the Light who has shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. Because Christ lay upon Mary’s breast, and was cradled in her arms, we have been delivered from darkness, and it is possible for us to climb, by the staircase of His Cross, over angels, principalities, and powers, to be seated with Him on His Throne of Glory.
“Unto us a Child is born!” He is Wonderful, because in Him the most marvellous extremes meet. He is the Babe just born, but He is the Ancient of Days who fills space. He grows in knowledge, but in Him are stored the riches of eternal wisdom. He hangs in mortal agony upon the Cross, but He gives life to uncounted myriads. He is laid in a borrowed tomb, but He lives for evermore, and death hath no power over Him!
He is Counsellor. Tell Him thy heart’s problems. Ask His counsel, and He will not mislead thee. He is the Prince of Peace, and “of the increase of His government” over new regions of the inner life, over new departments of the soul, over new openings, out of your existence, the increase deepening, heightening, widening, of the increase of His government as the years pass, there shall be no end, because the soul of man is infinite, and it will take eternity to bring out all the meaning of the Empire of Christ over our nature.
What is your reply to the claim of Christ? I urge you to-day to humbly put the government of everything that concerns your life upon the shoulders of Christ, and then you will find the joy and peace will increase. Such joy as thou hast never known! Such peace as has never before uttered its benison upon thy heart (Isa_9:3).

PRAYER
We thank Thee, O God, for the Son of Thy Love; for all that He has done for us, and will do; for all that He has been to us, and will be. We know that He holds us in His strong hand, that He loves us with a love that cannot let us go, that we are one with Him in a union which nothing can break. AMEN.

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JESUS, THE LIGHT OF THE WORLD

JESUS, THE LIGHT OF THE WORLD
“I am the Light of the world: he that followeth Me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.”– Joh_8:12.

THE STAR Sirius is so far away from our little earth, that its light, travelling at the rate of 186,000 miles per second, has to travel for eight long years before it can reach our eyes; and yet it is so bright that, when its ray shines down the telescope, the eye of the astronomer is dazzled as though by the sun. But if the light of a single created world is thus in the physical sphere, what shall we say of Him of whom we are told “God is Light, and in Him is no darkness at all?” Yet we may live and work in that search-light, and have fellowship with Him!
Present-tense cleansing. Years ago in my congregation there was a sweep who was a friend of mine. On Sundays he sang in our choir, and his face shone with the love of God. But if I happened to call at his home close on his return from work, his face was begrimed as to be almost unrecognizable! Yet even then there was one part as clear and bright as on the Sunday! The pupils of his eyes set in pearly white! It seemed as though these were impervious to the soiling-touch of the smoke-dust. And why! Because Nature, which is the glove on the hand of God, has provided eyelids, eye-lashes, and above all, tear-water, so that whatever be our environment, the eye is kept washed and clean. Is not this an illustration of what the Apostle meant by the “Blood of Jesus Christ cleansing from all sin?” It is the same truth as our Lord taught, when, having washed the disciples’ feet, He said that he who had bathed in the morning needed only to wash his feet.
The ultimate purpose of the soul, therefore, should be to walk in the Light as He is in the Light. God covers Himself with light as with a garment. It is an emblem of purity and love and joy. And our life is meant to be like that, even when we are compelled to spend the hours of the day in the company of those who know not God, and perhaps blaspheme His Name. That Light may shine in heart and face, and fall on those around. That fellowship and communion with Him may be unbroken! The song of the Lord may rise in our hearts without a jarring note! It seems incredible and impossible, especially when one is conscious of so much sin and failure! Nay, it is not impossible, if once we have learnt the secret of this present tense—”the blood of Jesus Christ cleanseth from all sin.”

PRAYER
Fill me with Thy light and joy, O Lord, that I may have wherewith to give to my home and friends, and to the dark world around me. Keep me from hiding my light under the bushel of my own anxieties. AMEN.

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WALKING IN THE LIGHT

WALKING IN THE LIGHT
“God said, Let there be Light; and there was Light.”— Gen_1:3.
“Ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: Walk as children of Light.”– Eph_5:8.

ST. PAUL makes use of this passage in Genesis, when He says, that “God who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.” He seems to go back in his experience to that remarkable vision on the road to Damascus, when the light shone, and he saw the face of the Lord Jesus. It was as though he had passed through the experience of chaos, while kicking against the goad of conviction, and at that moment, which he could never forget, God said: “Let there be light.” Looking up, he saw the light of the glory of God reflected in that dear Face that looked down on him with ineffable love. It was life out of death; light replaced darkness, and peace chased away the last vestige of storm.
This is ever the result and climax of the work in our hearts wrought by the Holy Spirit. He leads us out of darkness; He takes of the things of Christ and shows them unto us. His one aim is to glorify our Saviour, and to make Him the Alpha and Omega of our faith, as we walk in the light.
When I was in Tasmania, I was shown a great mountain range on which was a vast lake, fifty-two miles in circumference. The overflow yielded a perennial waterfall of a thousand feet, the force of which was translated into electricity which made light and power cheap for great factories and for domestic needs. It seemed to me, as I thought about it, that the great sheet of water resembled the Love of God, in its longing to help mankind; that the descending waterfall might be taken to illustrate the Incarnation of our Saviour, who was the Sent-One of the Eternal Trinity; and that the electric current, invisible but mighty, was typical of the Holy Spirit, who brings to our hearts the Light and Power of the Divine Nature. The lesson is obvious, that as the manufacturer or the scientist invents machinery to meet the conditions on which alone the electric current can do its work, so must we learn to adapt ourselves to receive and transmit the power and light of God, which comes to us through our union with Jesus.

PRAYER
May the Holy Spirit keep us ever walking in the light of Thy countenance. May He fill our hearts with the sense of Thy nearness and loving fellowship. Order our steps in Thy way, and then walk with us, for in Thee is no darkness at all. AMEN.

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