Morning & Evening

March 1
Morning
“Awake, O north wind; and come, thou south; blow upon my garden, that the spices thereof may flow out.” — Son_4:16
Anything is better than the dead calm of indifference. Our souls may wisely desire the north wind of trouble if that alone can be sanctified to the drawing forth of the perfume of our graces. So long as it cannot be said, “The Lord was not in the wind,” we will not shrink from the most wintry blast that ever blew upon plants of grace. Did not the spouse in this verse humbly submit herself to the reproofs of her Beloved; only entreating him to send forth his grace in some form, and making no stipulation as to the peculiar manner in which it should come? Did she not, like ourselves, become so utterly weary of deadness and unholy calm that she sighed for any visitation which would brace her to action? Yet she desires the warm south wind of comfort, too, the smiles of divine love, the joy of the Redeemer’s presence; these are often mightily effectual to arouse our sluggish life. She desires either one or the other, or both; so that she may but be able to delight her Beloved with the spices of her garden. She cannot endure to be unprofitable, nor can we. How cheering a thought that Jesus can find comfort in our poor feeble graces. Can it be? It seems far too good to be true. Well may we court trial or even death itself if we shall thereby be aided to make glad Immanuel’s heart. O that our heart were crushed to atoms if only by such bruising our sweet Lord Jesus could be glorified. Graces unexercised are as sweet perfumes slumbering in the cups of the flowers: the wisdom of the great Husbandman overrules diverse and opposite causes to produce the one desired result, and makes both affliction and consolation draw forth the grateful odours of faith, love, patience, hope, resignation, joy, and the other fair flowers of the garden. May we know by sweet experience, what this means.
Evening
“He is precious.” — 1Pe_2:7
As all the rivers run into the sea, so all delights centre in our Beloved. The glances of his eyes outshine the sun: the beauties of his face are fairer than the choicest flowers: no fragrance is like the breath of his mouth. Gems of the mine, and pearls from the sea, are worthless things when measured by his preciousness. Peter tells us that Jesus is precious, but he did not and could not tell us how precious, nor could any of us compute the value of God’s unspeakable gift. Words cannot set forth the preciousness of the Lord Jesus to his people, nor fully tell how essential he is to their satisfaction and happiness. Believer, have you not found in the midst of plenty a sore famine if your Lord has been absent? The sun was shining, but Christ had hidden himself, and all the world was black to you; or it was night, and since the bright and morning star was gone, no other star could yield you so much as a ray of light. What a howling wilderness is this world without our Lord! If once he hideth himself from us, withered are the flowers of our garden; our pleasant fruits decay; the birds suspend their songs, and a tempest overturns our hopes. All earth’s candles cannot make daylight if the Sun of Righteousness be eclipsed. He is the soul of our soul, the light of our light, the life of our life. Dear reader, what wouldst thou do in the world without him, when thou wakest up and lookest forward to the day’s battle? What wouldst thou do at night, when thou comest home jaded and weary, if there were no door of fellowship between thee and Christ? Blessed be his name, he will not suffer us to try our lot without him, for Jesus never forsakes his own. Yet, let the thought of what life would be without him enhance his preciousness.

Rylisms e-Sword Study Bible

March 1
The Gateway to the Kingdom
“Go ye therefore into all the world and preach the Gospel to every creature.” (Mar_16:15).
At the west end of Monumental Park stood a huge archway called The Gateway to the Kingdom. Inscribed in the Arch were these words: “Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear” (Heb_12:28)
We supposed that by passing through this Gateway we would be taken from glory to glory; you know, like Ezekiel caught up in the Spirit and transported to realms beyond our imagination. So we were quite shocked when we stepped through the Gateway and saw that it actually brought right back to where we had at first started our journey to a place called Grace!
It was as if we had not moved from there at all.
That’s when it struck us profoundly – all we had seen and experienced during this long journey to a place nearby, had actually happened inside us as we stood in that one location! “Iti Swhe Reyo Uare,” I thought to myself. A whisper then came into my ear, “Be still and know that I am God – right where you are.”
Then we all heard the voice of the Lord say, “What I have done to you, I will now do through you.”
In that moment we looked and saw a series of roads that went out in all directions — over hill and dale, across rivers and oceans, to places far and wide.
And there was a River. Seeing it reminded me most vividly of the vision Ezekiel told of a river that flowed from the Temple. It measured ankle deep at the start, and then incrementally deepened – knee deep, waist deep, and then a mighty river which was over our heads.
Then Ezekiel saw that this great river flowed into the Dead Sea! And as its living waters enter into the stagnant pool of this fallen world, a miraculous transformation occurred. “And it shall be,” said the Lord, “that every living thing that moves, wherever the rivers go, will live. There will be a very great multitude of fish, because these waters go there; for they will be healed, and everything will live wherever the river goes.” (Eze_47:9)
Paul stood at the Gateway, together with Peter, James and John, Timothy, Apollos and several others, and called out to us, saying, “We then, as workers together with him, beseech you also that ye receive not the grace of God in vain.” (2Co_6:1).
“You are that River,” Paul said. “It’s time for you to flow forth into all the world, bringing the redeeming power of God’s Grace to all you meet – as you go. It would be a sad thing indeed if you saw, and heard, and experienced all of this Grace for no purpose; if it all flowed into you only to be held in an empty place in your souls.
“I beseech you, therefore, my brethren; you must not hear this truth with no intention of doing anything about it. That would be directly opposed to God’s will. We all are with you in this as workers together! Please do NOT receive the grace of God in vain. Do not hear this message and dismiss it without thought. Do not see this truth and then close your eyes to its wonder and potential in and through your life. And do not keep it from others.”
Then Peter spoke up, “Remember how I told you to be stewards of the manifold grace of God? To take the many gifts he has blessed you with, and minister the same to others all around you? Well, if I may use one of my familiar quotes, ‘This is that!’ Freely you have received; freely give!”
Suddenly we realized that our journey to a place called Grace was in fact a recruiting trip to the mission field! And we were more than ready to go!!
And all those who had hosted us in a place called Grace called out once more in one voice, saying, “The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.” (Rev_22:21)

Devotional Sermons

March 1
A Sermon for Springtide
Consider the lilies of the field — Mat_6:28
The Ministry of Nature
At the sweet and hopeful season of Spring, when freshness and beauty surround us, I am sure there are few of us whose thoughts do not go forth to the wonder and the glory of the world. After the deadness of our northern February springtide comes tingling with the surprise of joy, and that is indeed one of our compensations for the stern and desolate winter of our land. Of all our poets who “build the lofty rhyme,” there is none more thoroughly English than the poet Chaucer. As we read his musical and vivid verse, it is always the sound of a brother’s voice we hear. And in nothing is he more truly English than in this, that he stirs at the call of the sweet voice of April, and casting his books aside, longs to become a child of his warm and beautiful and gladsome world. In some measure all of us feel that; nor is there aught unworthy in that restlessness. Rightly used, it may be a means of grace, drawing us nearer to the feet of Christ. And therefore I like at this season of the year to speak sometimes on the ministry of nature, and to discover what that meant for Jesus.
Christ at Home in the Country; Paul at Home in the City
Now in this matter there is one thing which strikes me, and that is the contrast between Christ and Paul. You never feel that Paul is at home in the country. You always feel that Paul is at home in the city. Country life did not appeal to Paul; it did not flash into spiritual suggestion as he viewed it. He heard the groans of a travailing creation, but he did not love it to its minutest feature. It was the city which appealed to Paul, with its great and crying problems of humanity, with its pageantry and its murmuring and its stir, with its crowds that would gather when one began to preach. The kingdom of heaven is not like a seed to Paul; the kingdom of heaven is like some noble building. When he would illustrate the things of grace, he does not turn to the vine or the lily. He turns to the soldier polishing his Armour; to the gladiator fighting before ten thousand eyes; to the freeborn citizen whose civic charter had been won in the senate of imperial Rome. I hardly need to indicate to you how different this is from Christ’s procedure. Not in the city did Jesus find His parables, save when He saw the children in the marketplace. He found them in the clustering of the vine. He found them in the springing of the corn. He found them in the lake where boats were rocking, and in the glow of sunset and of sunrise. He found them in the birds that wheeled above Him—in the fig tree—in the fowl of the farmyard. He found them in the lily of the field, with which even Solomon could not compare.
Jesus of Nazareth and Paul of Tarsus
It is for that reason that when the springtime comes I always thank God that Christ was bred at Nazareth. We owe far more to that quiet home at Nazareth than some of us may be ready to acknowledge. Paul was a native of Tarsus—no mean city. It was a place like Glasgow, the seat of a wide commerce. Paul was a city boy, bred among city streets, familiar with crowds since he had eyes to see. And though the gardens of a Roman city were very beautiful in their arrangement, yet gardens and fountains are a sorry substitute for the lone glen and the silence of the hills. But in the providence of God, Christ was a country child. There was no “Please keep off the grass” at Nazareth. Trespassers were never prosecuted on the hills there, as they ought never to be in any country. And it was there that Jesus spent His boyhood—keen-eyed, quick-hearted, loving all God’s creatures, moving, as if at home, where all was beautiful, and praying best because He loved it all. That is the note which you detect at once when you come to the public ministry of Jesus. Other teachers elaborate their parables; but with Christ they come welling up out of the heart. They were His heritage from the quiet days of Nazareth when He had watched and loved and understood. It was His manhood recalling in the strife the music that had charmed Him as a child.
As a Jew Jesus Admired the Greatness of Nature
Again, if Christ is different from Paul in this matter, He is equally distinguished from His Jewish ancestry. The fact is that in His attitude towards nature you can never historically account for Jesus. I believe that sometimes we misrepresent the Jews here. We contrast them too dogmatically with the Greeks. We think of the Jews as so intensely spiritual that they were blind to the beauty of the world. But no one who has studied his Old Testament dare make a sharp distinction such as that, for the Old Testament that is afire with God is redolent from the first to last of nature. The truth is that Jew no less than Greek looked with intensest interest on nature. Both felt the abiding magic of its power; both bowed before its ever-changing mystery. But to the Greek the world was just the world, gladsome and fair, a thing to be desired; while to the Jew the world was always wonderful, because it was instinct and aflame with God. Into that heritage Jesus Christ was born.
Jesus Involved Man with Nature
And now let me say one thing more, which helps to illuminate the mind of Christ. It is how often, when He speaks of nature, He deliberately brings man upon the scene. There are painters who delight in picturing still life, and who never introduce the human figure. They have no interest in the play of character; their genius seeks no other scope than nature. But Jesus is no painter of still life. He loves to have living forms upon the scene. He does not regard man as an intrusion, but always as the completion of the picture. Think of the day when He stood by the Temple gate, and looked up at the vine that was sculptured there. That vine was an artist’s study in still life, and it was very beautiful and perfect. But “I am the vine,” said Christ, “ye are the branches,” and the husbandman appears with his sharp pruning knife. The sculpture was insufficient for the Master, till it flashed into full significance in man. In the same way when He walked abroad, He saw more than the lights and shadows of the fields. “Behold the sower,”—somehow He could not rest till he had brought a living man into the picture. And so when He wandered by the sea of Galilee, and watched the waters, and listened to the waves, all that, however beautiful, could not content Him until the fishermen and their nets were in the picture. He could not listen to the chattering sparrows but He saw the human hands that bought and sold them. He could not look at the lilies of the field but He saw Solomon in all his glory. And it all means that while the love of nature was one of the deepest passions in Christ’s heart, it was not a love that led to isolation, but found its crowning in the love of man. My brother, there is a way of loving nature that chills a little the feeling for mankind. There is a passion for beauty that may be a snare, for it weakens the ties that bind us to humanity. But when a man loves nature as Jesus Christ loved nature, it will deepen and purify the springs of brotherhood, and issue in service that is not less loyal because the music of hill and dale is in it.