Devotional

May 1
Morning
“His cheeks are as a bed of spices, as sweet flowers.” — Son_5:13
Lo, the flowery month is come! March winds and April showers have done their work, and the earth is all bedecked with beauty. Come my soul, put on thine holiday attire and go forth to gather garlands of heavenly thoughts. Thou knowest whither to betake thyself, for to thee “the beds of spices” are well known, and thou hast so often smelt the perfume of “the sweet flowers,” that thou wilt go at once to thy well-beloved and find all loveliness, all joy in him. That cheek once so rudely smitten with a rod, oft bedewed with tears of sympathy and then defiled with spittle-that cheek as it smiles with mercy is as fragrant aromatic to my heart. Thou didst not hide thy face from shame and spitting, O Lord Jesus, and therefore I will find my dearest delight in praising thee. Those cheeks were furrowed by the plough of grief, and crimsoned with red lines of blood from thy thorn-crowned temples; such marks of love unbounded cannot but charm my soul far more than “pillars of perfume.” If I may not see the whole of his face I would behold his cheeks, for the least glimpse of him is exceedingly refreshing to my spiritual sense and yields a variety of delights. In Jesus I find not only fragrance, but a bed of spices; not one flower, but all manner of sweet flowers. He is to me my rose and my lily, my heart’s-ease and my cluster of camphire. When he is with me it is May all the year round, and my soul goes forth to wash her happy face in the morning-dew of his grace, and to solace herself with the singing of the birds of his promises. Precious Lord Jesus, let me in very deed know the blessedness which dwells in abiding, unbroken fellowship with thee. I am a poor worthless one, whose cheek thou hast deigned to kiss! O let me kiss thee in return with the kisses of my lips.
Evening
“I am the rose of Sharon.” — Son_2:1
Whatever there may be of beauty in the material world, Jesus Christ possesses all that in the spiritual world in a tenfold degree. Amongst flowers the rose is deemed the sweetest, but Jesus is infinitely more beautiful in the garden of the soul than the rose can be in the gardens of earth. He takes the first place as the fairest among ten thousand. He is the sun, and all others are the stars; the heavens and the day are dark in comparison with him, for the King in his beauty transcends all. “I am the rose of Sharon.” This was the best and rarest of roses. Jesus is not “the rose” alone, he is “the rose of Sharon,” just as he calls his righteousness “gold,” and then adds, “the gold of Ophir”-the best of the best. He is positively lovely, and superlatively the loveliest. There is variety in his charms. The rose is delightful to the eye, and its scent is pleasant and refreshing; so each of the senses of the soul, whether it be the taste or feeling, the hearing, the sight, or the spiritual smell, finds appropriate gratification in Jesus. Even the recollection of his love is sweet. Take the rose of Sharon, and pull it leaf from leaf, and lay by the leaves in the jar of memory, and you shall find each leaf fragrant long afterwards, filling the house with perfume. Christ satisfies the highest taste of the most educated spirit to the very full. The greatest amateur in perfumes is quite satisfied with the rose: and when the soul has arrived at her highest pitch of true taste, she shall still be content with Christ, nay, she shall be the better able to appreciate him. Heaven itself possesses nothing which excels the rose of Sharon. What emblem can fully set forth his beauty? Human speech and earth-born things fail to tell of him. Earth’s choicest charms commingled, feebly picture his abounding preciousness. Blessed rose, bloom in my heart for ever!

From The Sword Study Bible

Rylisms

May 1
The Unstoppable Life
And Jesus went about all Galilee — preaching the gospel of the kingdom.” (Mat_4:23)
At the very moment when wicked Herod imprisoned faithful John, Jesus stepped forward and raised the torch of truth even higher. Herod should have left well enough alone!
Once Jesus settled in at Capernaum, establishing a base of operations, He then launched a campaign of conquest that will never be rivaled. For He did not seek lands or titles; His was not an egotistical desire for fame or wealth, or for power and honor. No; rather He came to conquer the heart of mankind; conquer and convert it back to its original passion — a full, free, and fantastic friendship with God Almighty!
Centuries earlier the prophet Isaiah had looked forward by faith and spoke concerning the Lord Jesus, who was yet to come, saying, “Of the increase of His government and peace there shall be no end…from henceforth even forever.” (Isa_9:7).
This great prophecy emboldens our belief that good will most certainly triumph over evil, despite the many things which seem to suggest the exact opposite in these violent days. Tune into any news channel and see how inundated we are with unbridled passion, unimaginable decadence, and unbelievable cruelty. Nevertheless, when evil sits upon the throne and the streets of nations are filled with foolhardy acts of immorality and injustice — we take heart in knowing there is a Kingdom which is greater than these fleeting empires. It is the Kingdom of our God, and of His Christ.
And — for any heart that has received this King into its multiple compartments — a promise is made that of the increase of His government and peace there shall be no end. Government is what Christ brings to our discarded souls, and Peace is what results when He reigns in our lives. Would you know this peace of which I speak? Then yield your heart to the government of Christ over your affections, appetites, ambitions, aspirations, and aggravations.
Yes, Old King Herod should have left John alone! For, as it stood, he was merely a voice in the desert preaching to those who came out to see him. But this Jesus fellow was now going all over the place — bringing the Gospel into the very heart of the Nation. Matthew tells us that Jesus “went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the Kingdom of God, and healing all manner of diseases among the people” (Mat_4:23). And get this — what Christ did in those days, He is still doing in these days — in an ever increasing circle of conquest. Furthermore, He has never stopped, and He never will!
This, then, is our heritage, as well as our mission. We are not merely subjects in this Kingdom; we are royal ambassadors, empowered by our King with the credentials that give us the clout necessary to cast down devils and call out the redeemed of the Lord.
This King, to whom we have sworn allegiance, told us to “go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature” (Mar_16:15). John was in the desert; Jesus went round about Galilee; and now we have been thrust forth into all the world — the unstoppable Life has now been unleashed, and the world will never be as it was before!

From The Sword Study Bible

 

Devotional Sermons

May 1
Where They Found Him
And when they had found him — Mar_1:37
Lost and Found—Sinner and Savior!
Meditating on the Gospel story, one of the most enriching of all studies, one notes the great variety of places in which men and women found the Savior. There are people of whom we say admiringly, that you always know where you will find them. At any hour of any given day, you know where they are to be met with. But I venture to say, with the most perfect reverence, no one ever could say that of Christ—that was one of the wonders of His life. Appointments may be precious, but what a charm there is in unexpected meetings, when suddenly in the crowd we see a face, and then the sun shines out even in December. People were always finding Christ like that, suddenly, in very diverse places, and it is of one or two of these I wish to write.
In the Special or Striking Place
First, let us take the wise men from the East. They found Him in a manger. It was the unlikeliest place in all the world for One who had been heralded by stars. I remember, many years ago, going down a coal mine with a friend. We stumbled along a mile of tunnel, and there came on a man working in a hollow. And my guide, who was the local minister, pointing to the stooping figure, said, “That is the brightest Christian in my parish.” Then I thought of the wise men from the East finding Christ in that unlikely manger. I thought of the rowers upon the Lake of Galilee finding Him upon the stormy sea. I thought of the penitent thief upon the cross, finding the desire of all the nations amid the shames and agonies of Calvary. That is one of the wonders of the Lord. He is found in the unlikeliest places, in lives where one would never think to light on Him, and in the most unpromising of circumstances. He is found in India and in Manchuria, and among the hills and glens in Livingstonia, and in the savage islands of the Pacific Ocean. How often, studying the Old Testament, is the Lord found in the unlikeliest places—not in the royal splendors of Isaiah, but in seemingly desolate and barren tracts. So the magi, dreaming of kingly furnishings, and of cradles wrought with curious art, found Him a little babe among the beasts.
In the Sacred Place
Then, passing on a little, one remembers how His parents found Him in the Temple. It is a story familiar to us all. The wisest sages of the land were there, but Mary and Joseph never heeded them. The courts were echoing with music, but I question if Mary ever heard it. Like a morning of sunshine after a night of weeping was the sight of Jesus to His mother’s eyes, and she and Joseph found Him in the church. Not in the streets where rolled the tide of traffic; not amid the chaffering of bazaars; but in the beautiful place where God was worshipped, with its altar and its mercy seat. And to this hour, wherever folk are gathered to worship God in singleness of heart, the Lord still reveals Himself as present. Through song and prayer, or when the word is preached, or in mystical ways the mind can never fathom, how many become conscious of that presence which makes all the difference in the world? What new meaning does it give to churchgoing if we practice it in quiet assurance that we shall meet the chiefest among ten thousand there?
In the Solitary Place
Then, again, one recalls how His disciples found Him in the solitary place. To me that is of infinite suggestiveness. All the evening before He had been busy, healing sicknesses and working miracles. Virtue had been passing out of Him, for when He gave a cure He gave Himself. Then in the morning, long before the sunrise, He had risen and stolen quietly away—and they found Him in the solitary place. All alone, nobody beside Him, round Him the infinite solitude of nature—and to me there is a parable in that. To many a young man there comes the day when his spirit is thrilled by Emerson or Shakespeare. But Shakespeare and Emerson do not stand alone; there are other essayists and other poets. You find them moving in a glorious company, and you look at them, and call them men of genius; but you find Christ in the solitary place. Genius is a thing of less or more. It has its chosen child in every century. Genius may be an all-subduing flame, or it may only be a tiny spark. But the one thing you can never do with Christ is to regard Him as belonging to a class; you find Him in the solitary place. In the unconditional obedience He calls for, in His unparalleled and stupendous claims, in His immediate knowledge of the Father, in His total sinlessness, Christ stands alone, confronting every one of us. We find Him in the solitary place.
The Standard Places – Along the “Highway of Life”
Lastly, one recalls that there were those who found Him on the common highway. Who does not know the matchless story of the two who found Him on the Emmaus road. There rolled the wagon. There the chariot dashed. There marched the legions of the empire. There was the merchant travelling on business; there the prodigal returning home. It was the common highway, free to everybody, open to the beggar and to the emperor, and there the two disciples found the Lord. Sometimes that common road is very dusty. The heart faints and the feet grow weary on it. We wonder if we shall have strength to travel it, till in the hour of evening we win home. But what a difference it makes, what a blessed and amazing difference, when like the two going to Emmaus, we find Him on the common road! He makes so much of our worrying ridiculous. We forget it all in company with Him. He is so radiant, so full of loving hopefulness, so absolutely sure of God. In that companionship life blossoms. We have courage for the darkest mile. We recapture, even when the shadows fall, the burning of the heart.

From The Sord Study Bible