His Calling Is Positive


The Calling is PositiveLord Howe Island snorkeling - Double headed wr...

In every situation and at all times the calling is positive. That heavenly calling is never negative, never neutral, never passive, but always positive. You may not have very much in your daily life to make the calling seem positive. It may be you go to business in the morning and fulfil your daily work, the trivial round, the common task, as we say, with very little variety entering into it. It is the same round day after day, week after week, month after month; the same people, the same surroundings, the same activities very largely. Only on the rarest occasion does something specially interesting come into the daily course. It would be so easy in a situation like that to say: Well, in my sphere of life there is not much of the glamour of a heavenly calling! My work is plain and simple. I have just to get on with it every day, and I see very little else beyond it. Remember that at all times, in all circumstances, the calling is positive.

Every day will provide some opportunity for you to learn spiritual ascendency; some occasion for you to bring in the value of your relationship with the Lord; to put to the test the resources which you have in Christ; to grow in grace; to know victories. How do you know but that in that very uninteresting, perhaps unpromising sphere of life you are on test on some of those great matters, such as faith, patience, or patient endurance.

It would be interesting to know exactly what the throne of the Lord is made of. When we come to that throne, I wonder whether we shall find a throne of gold in a literal sense, or whether we shall find it made up of many things? When we come to analyze the throne we may find that it is made up of patience, faith, endurance, and all such moral elements, and that these elements constitute the power by which He governs. It is sharing the patience of Jesus Christ which is sharing the throne. There is something mighty in the ultimate outworking of the patience of Jesus, the faith of Jesus Christ, the endurance. These are the constituents of His throne.

He is working throne elements into us now in the drab, uninteresting life day by day. You may be on test for the throne. for we are all expected to conform to the image of Christ. There may be bound up with the least interesting course of life some very, very real intention of the Lord. Let us remember that the heavenly calling is always positive, in all circumstances, in all places. We are on test for the throne, as to whether it shall function through us both here and hereafter.

May you be endowed with the mind and patience of Christ.

An Assault on Fellowship


There are few matters which go to the heart of the Lord’s testimony more than the matter of fellowship between the Lord’s people, and especially where there is particular responsibility for His testimony. The drive of the enemy and all his subtle and diabolical wit, as well as his pressure and his misrepresentations, will be directed toward destroying that relationship of fellowship. He will seek somehow to divide believers, and get in between. And if you are not careful you will resolve all such matters into merely natural problems and say: Well, it is incompatibility of temper! So-and-so is made this way, and the other person is made that way; you can never blend people who are so different in temperament and outlook! If you allow a conclusion of that kind your testimony is gone; you may as well abandon your position in the Lord and go and scour the world for people who in everything see eye to eye. Does it mean that the Lord’s work, as entrusted to two or three or more together in one place, can only continue in so far as these children of His are able at all times to get on with one another on a natural basis? The Lord help His work if that is what is required. We have to look deeper than that.

This drive on fellowships and relationships is Satanic. There may be ground, there may be human elements, but those concerned should take this attitude toward one another: The Lord’s testimony is bound up with our oneness; the Devil will do everything he can to destroy that, and to strike a blow, therefore, at the testimony! You and I are going to be one in the name of the Lord, and stand our ground against the enemy! There we have something altogether different from the attempt to get on with one another on a natural basis, we have a dynamic for fellowship. We have to get on with one another in the name of the Lord, or else the Lord’s testimony is not established.

There is something much bigger than a natural or human situation to be dealt with, and when we realise that back of what may truly be natural difficulties there is always something else at work, and that therefore we must keep these natural things in the place of the Cross, and stand together against the enemy, we will get through; but we will never do so by spending a lot of time trying to adjust ourselves to one another, and seeing how far we can work together. Standing shoulder to shoulder against the enemy who is assailing fellowship, we will find the way of triumphant fellowship. Come down on the natural level, and the enemy will soon make terrible havoc of the whole relationship.

  • “Receive one another just as Christ also received us’ Romans 15” 7
  • “Bless those who persecute you, bless do not curse” Romans12: 14
  • “Let love be without hypocrisy” Romans 12: 9
  • “Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, it is not puffed up, does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, its not provoked nor thinks no evil, does not rejoice in iniquity but rejoices in the truth” 1 Corinthians 13: 4-6
  • “The things which are impossible with men are possible with God” Luke 18: 27
  • “You were bought at a price do not become slaves of men” 1 Corinthians 7: 23

Remember, then, that all these things which sometimes seem to be so natural are in principle deeper down, and the activity of the enemy is behind them in his seeking to circumvent that gain, that advance, that increase, that attaining unto dominion, and he must be withstood in these matters.

Undeveloped Lives (3)


Development Does Not Depend on Time

The question, then, which I desire to ask is this:

What were the forces that Jesus used in this great work? And I wish you to notice, as it were by way of preface, how the historical career of Jesus makes the thought of development independent of the years. We say that the days of our years are threescore years and ten. We get to think that three score years are needed if human life is to come to its fruition. And then we are confronted with the life of Jesus, a life symmetrical, proportioned, perfect, and Jesus of Nazareth died at thirty-three. Most lives are just awaking into power then; but the life of Jesus was perfect in its fullness. Most of us would cry at thirty-three, “It is only now beginning”; but Jesus upon the cross cried, “It is finished.” And the great lesson which that carries for every one of us is that we must not measure development by time. There may be years in which every talent in us is stagnant. We live in a dull and most mechanical way. Then comes an hour of call or inspiration, and our whole being deepens and expands. A crushing sorrow, a crisis, or a joy, develops manhood with wonderful rapidity, and may do the work of twelve months in a week. Let us remember, looking unto Jesus, and noting the shortness of that perfect life, that the scale of development is not the scale of years.

“Love Lifted Me”

What, then, were the great forces Jesus used in developing undeveloped life? The first was His central truth that God is love. He taught men that in heaven was a Father; that the heart that fashioned them and ruled them, also loved them; and in that vision of the love of God, men found a magnificent environment for growth. I think we all know how love develops character. I think most of us have known that in our homes. If in our childhood we were despised or hated, the most expensive schooling could not right things. A mother’s love is the finest education. When a man is afraid he never shows his best. When all the faces around him are indifferent, there is no call to stir upon his talents. But when love comes, then all the depths are opened, and life becomes doubly rich and doubly painful, and every hope is quickened, and every desire enlarged, and common duties become royal services, and common words take a new depth of meaning. We all know how love develops character. That was the first power that Jesus used. He said to a repressed and fearful world, “God loves you.” And if human life has been developing in Christendom into amazing and undreamed-of amplitude, it is primarily a response to that appeal.

To Develop One Must Surrender

Now, there was another power that Jesus used. It was the human instinct of self-surrender. It is the glory of Jesus that He called self-surrender into the service of our self-development.

There was one religion in the ancient world that strove with all its power to make man complete. It was the beautiful religion of the Greeks, and its aim was to make life a thing of beauty. It did not fail; but it slowly passed away. It proved unequal to the terrible strain of life. And one reason of its decadence was just this, it had no place for the grandeur of self-sacrifice. Then rose the philosophy of Stoicism, and it grasped with both hands the truth of self-surrender. It said the first duty of man is to surrender, till he has steeled himself into impregnable manhood. It failed, because life insisted on expansion. It failed, as every philosophy and creed must fail, that says to the God-touched soul, “Thus far thou shalt come and no farther.” It had grasped the vital need of self-surrender, but by self-surrender it had really meant self suppression.

And then came Jesus of Nazareth, Son of God. And He said, “If thine eye offend thee, pluck it out.” Surrender thy sight, if need be; but then why? That the glories of heaven may break upon thy soul. And if thou hast ten talents, give them out; and why? That thou mayst have thine own with usury. And if thou art a rich young ruler, sell all thou hast; and why? That thou mayst enter into the deeper, larger life that comes from the wholehearted following of the Lord. The Greek philosophy had said, “Develop and be happy.” The Stoic had said, “Surrender and be strong.” But Jesus said, “You never shall develop till you have learned the secret of surrendering.” I think, then, that was Jesus’ second power in advancing the development of life. He did not only say, “Take up thy cross.” There were other teachers who might have said that too. But He said, “Take up thy cross that thou mayst follow Me”; and He is life abundant and complete.

Our Life Shall Go on Developing Forever

Lastly, and this is the crowning inspiration, our Lord expanded life into eternity. Our life shall go on developing forever, under the sunshine and in the love of God. “I go to prepare a place for you,” He said. The environment of heaven shall be perfect. Love is at work making things ready for us that we may ripen in the light forevermore. I know no thought more depressing than the thought that all effort is to be crushed at death. It hangs like a weight of lead upon the will, when a man would launch into some new endeavor. But if death is an incident and not an end, if every baffled striving shall be crowned, if “All I could never be, All men ignored in me,” is to expand into actuality when I awake, I can renew my struggle after every failure. It is that knowledge, given us by Jesus, that has inspired the development of Christendom. I affectionately plead with you to make it yours.

Undeveloped Lives (2)


The Pain of God in Seeing Undeveloped Lives

Now there is one thing that I should like to say in passing. It is that in the light of undeveloped lives there must be infinite pain in the omniscience of God. Do you remember how Robert Browning sang, “All I could never be, All men ignored in me, This, I was worth to God”? God recognizes the value and the power of the possibilities we never even see. We take men as we see them, for the most part. We do not trouble about hidden talents. If our eyes were opened in the city street to the undeveloped love and gifts and character in the crowd, what a new sense of hopelessness would strike us! But the hungering of love we never dream of, and the craving of hearts, and the gifts that cannot blossom, all these are clear as a star to the Eternal, and that is one sorrow of divine omniscience.

Christ’s Influence in Developing Lives

Now one of the first things to humble me in Christ Jesus is His influence in developing the lives He touches. It is as if God, in that sorrow of omniscience, had charged His Son to call forth all possibilities. I doubt not there were other publicans with gifts as good as Matthew’s, and that there were other doctors quite as sincere as Luke; but under the influence of Jesus Christ the gifts of these men so developed that they have made all Christendom their debtors, while the rest are sleeping in unrecorded graves. When Simon Peter first steps upon the scene, he is a rash, impulsive, and impetuous man. One recognizes the slumbering greatness in him; but one feels the boundless possibilities of evil. So Jesus takes him and uses him as a master musician might use his beloved instrument, till the chords are wakened into such glorious music that the centuries are ringing with it still.

Jesus touched nothing which He did not adorn. And He adorned, not as we decorate our streets, but as God adorns the lilies of the field. He drew from the worst their unsuspected best. He kindled the love and pity that were sleeping. He roused into most effectual exercise whatsoever gift or talent was concealed.

And if today the aggregate life of Christendom is infinitely deeper, fuller, and more complex than any life the world has ever known, we largely owe it to the influence of Jesus in the development of human life, the development of  our and others talent, the development and revealing  of infinite possibilities

This is our assignment, our resolve, our ultimate task as a true child of God.

Undeveloped Lives – Undeveloped Talent (1)


English: A corn field in Liechtenstein. Keywor...

English: A corn field in Liechtenstein. Keywords: Field, corn, Liechtenstein, Mountains, Alps, Vaduz, sky, clouds, landscape. Español: Una plantación de maíz en Liechtenstein. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone — Joh_12:24

Waste in Nature

In the summer, when the world is at its fairest, one thing that impresses us very strongly is what I might call the prodigality of nature. Every flower is busy fashioning its seeds; there are trees with thousands of seed pods on them; and we know that of all these millions of seeds being formed, not one in ten thousand will ever come to anything. Now, I am not going to speak of the problems suggested by that wastefulness. I wish rather to say a word or two upon the subject of undeveloped lives. In every corn of wheat that finds no congenial soil, there are undeveloped possibilities of harvest; and that suggests to me the question that often confronts us, is the question of undeveloped lives.

The Possibilities of Life Often Overwhelm Us

There are some seasons when we feel this more acutely. Allow me to recall some of these times to you. One is the hour when we are brought into contact with a strong and radiant personality. There is something very stimulating in such company, but often there is something strangely depressing too. Most of us have felt some sinking of the heart in the presence of exuberant vitality. I do not mean that we are repressed or chilled; it is not the great souls, it is the little souls, that chill us. But I mean that the possibilities of life so overwhelm us, in the splendid outflow of a radiant nature, that we feel immediately, perhaps to the point of heart-sinking, how undeveloped our own life must be.

Again, we feel it in these rarer moments that come to us all sometimes, we know not how—moments when life ceases to be a tangle, and flashes up into a glorious unity. In such hours it is a joy to be alive; thought is intense; things quiver with significance. There is a passing expansion of every power and faculty, touched by mysterious influences we cannot gauge. I think that for Jesus every hour was like that. For us, such hours are like angels’ visits. But when they come they bring such visions of the possible, that we feel bitterly how poor are our common days. If this is our measure we are not living to scale. If this is our waking, is not our life a sleep? It is in the rarer and loftier moments, then, that we apprehend the meaning of undeveloped life.

Early Death Brings Sorrow of Undeveloped Lives

But perhaps it is in the presence of early death that the thought reaches us with its full pressure. For the tragedy of early death is not its suffering; it is the blighted promise and the hope that is never crowned. I scarcely wonder that in well-nigh every cemetery you shall see a broken column as a monument. It is hardly Christian, but it is very human, and I do not think God will be hard on what is human. Wherever death is, you have mystery. But in the death of the young the mystery is doubled. And where there were high gifts of heart and intellect, the mystery is deepened a thousand fold. Why all this promise? Why this noble overture? Why, when the pattern is just beginning to show comes the blind fury with the abhorred shears and slits the thin-spun life? The great mystery of the early grave is the sorrow of undeveloped lives.

(to be continued..)

Whose Will (11)


 

Fellowship Rests on the Will

Think of the relationship of will to fellowship—man’s spiritual fellowship with his Redeemer. That friendship is not based on kindred feeling; it is based, according to Christ, on kindred-will. “Behold, thy mother and thy brethren without seek for thee”; and Jesus answered, “Who is my brother? He that doeth the will of my Father in heaven, the same is my mother, my brother, and my sister.” It is not a question, then, of what you know, if you are to be a brother or sister of the Lord. It is not a matter of excited feeling nor of any glowing or ecstatic rapture. He that does the will—though it might be often sore and though the way might be dark and though the wind be chill—he that does the will of My Father which is in heaven, the same is My sister and My brother. That means that all fellowship with Jesus Christ depends on dedication of the will.

We must say, “Take my will, and make it Thine,” if we are to be numbered in His company. And if fellowship with Him be true religion—the truest and purest the world has ever known—you see how it does not rest on thought or feeling, but has its wellspring in the surrendered will.

Surrender of the Will

And in the life of Christ this is the crowning glory—a will in perfect conformity with God’s. He is our Savior and our great exam-pie because of that unfailing dedication. Look at Him as He is tempted in the wilderness—is there not there a terrible reality of choice? Does there not rise before Him the alternative of self, to be instantly and magnificently spurned?

Think on these things – Christ who was also one with God, left His throne and Majesty, left His glory and splendor and took on the human state, the nature of mere men. He had the power to unleash legions of angels to clear the road, heal every sick man and triumph into Jerusalem, but every action, every thought, has to be the will of His Father in Heaven, (I must do the will of Him that sent me and finish it). And ever through the progress of His years, He left what He was and could do behind, only and fully focused on one goal which was His meat is to do the will of God who sent Him; until at last, upon the cross of Calvary, the dedication is perfected and crowned.
May we  all, young or old, shepherds and ministers, ever remember that the will is the very citadel of manhood.

To be a true Christian that must be yielded up. Everything else, (personality, fame, charisma, tongues, gifts, eloquence, wealth and riches)  without it aligning with the perfect will of God for us for this time is in vain.

Perfect Will of the Almighty God comes when we humbly go to Him everyday and everytime for direction and guidance, not repeat methodology, because “it worked perfectly yesterday” or “that principle is what we used last year” or as some say “this is how it is done”. Don’t forget the strategy for parting the red seas, was different from the conquering of Jericho, and that was different from other battles that confronted the people of Israel, when you search the scriptures, you discover that every time the Israelites go into battle without consulting the Lord, failure and death awaits them. The Almighty God is unique in His ways and dealings with us as a Nation and as an individual.  “It is not for man to direct His ways, the Lord orders our steps” and He does this every single day, that is why His blessings and mercies are NEW every day.

Religion founded on feeling is unstable. A religion of intellect is cold and hard and doomed for failure

Our ultimate goal is to be conformed to the image of Christ our saviour. Total surrender is what Christ did and demands, and in it lies the secret of all peace. You may have the best idea, most tenderest feelings but if you habour an un-surrendered will, your righteousness is but a  filthy rag before the Almighty God.

So I urge you to pay attention to these words..“And do not be conformed to this world (and its system of things), but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God” Romans 12: 2

Think on these things.

Rebecca Ajibola

 

Twelve Hours In A Day


Are there not twelve hours in the day? If any man walk in the day, he stumbles not, because he sees the light of this world. But if a man walk in the night, he stumbles, because there is no light in him — Joh_11:9-10

The Confidence of Christ

These words are the recoil of Jesus from the fearfulness of the disciples. They had just told Him that if He went into Judaea, He did it at the peril of His life. To that, the answer of their Lord was, “Are there not twelve hours in the day? Is not My life planned out for Me by God? Are not My times in His hand? Till the appointed hour strikes, ten thousand may fall at My right hand, but it shall not (and it cannot) come near Me.” It was this confidence, not in a dark fate, but in the perfect ordering of love, that kept our Savior undismayed and tranquil when fear was on every hand. There were twelve hours in His day, and till the sands of the twelfth hour had run, His enemies were powerless to touch Him.

In View of the Glory of the Cross

Now this was spoken by our Lord when He knew that Calvary was not far away. The miracle He was about to work on Lazarus was to prove to be the crisis of His life. When St. John speaks of the Savior being “glorified,” he is almost always thinking of the cross. That lifting up of Jesus was His glory: the cross was His crown. And when our Lord says here that the sickness of Lazarus was for the glorifying of the Son of God (Joh_11:4), He knew that the impending miracle was to lead Him straight to the bitter way of Calvary. There were twelve hours in His day—with what swiftness these winged hours had fled! It seemed but yesterday since He had played at Nazareth, and now the sun was setting. What deep thoughts of life and opportunity and of the flying shuttle on the loom of time must have occupied the heart of Jesus as, deliberately, He moved onward to Judaea! Must He die just then? Might He not prolong His life a little? It was a sweet, glad thing to be alive—could He not postpone the agony a season? If He was tempted in all points like as we are, surely He was tempted, thus when He went forward to raise Lazarus—and to die (Joh_11:53).

Heavenly Light on the Pathway of Life as Long as It Lasts

And then out of these deep and solemn musings come these wonderful words that stir the heart—”But if a man walk in the night, he stumbles.” The figure is, that as long as daylight lasts the traveler has the light of heaven to guide him. But let him push on into the falling darkness, and he stumbles, for the light is gone. And Christ fought back the insidious temptation to escape death and to live a little longer by that awful thought of stumbling in the night. Just as long as His twelve hours endured He had the promise and certainty of light. Led by His Father, He would be kept from stumbling, however hard and perilous the way. But let Him push on, past the appointed time, into the service of a thirteenth hour, and His feet, which had been beautiful upon the mountains, would stumble in the bewilderment of night. In other words, He must not shun the cross. To escape it would only lead to tragedy. A year gained by avoidance of the agony would be a year bereft of the shining of God’s face. So He set His face steadfastly towards Jerusalem and refused the aid of the legions of angels and cried with a loud voice, “It is finished.”

Prolongation of Physical Life at Spiritual Detriment

And for us the lesson is just this—and there are times when we all need to learn it—that we may purchase a few years of added life at far too great a spiritual cost. When a believer, in times of persecution, lengthens his years by being false to Christ;  when a minister shuns the sickbed of infection lest he catch the infection himself and perhaps die; when a physician flees at the approach of plague; when anyone evades or shirks the cross, he is prolonging his life into the night. I do not think I have known a single young fellow who got exemption in the war to save his skin whose character has not deteriorated steadily. Life thus lengthened is always un- illumined. There is no sunshine in the thirteenth hour. To shirk one’s duty that life may be prolonged is to gain years that are not worth the living. And yet how often gentle, kindly hearts beg us to take care and not run risks, just as Peter did when he heard about the cross. We are immortal till our work is done. There are twelve hours in the day. Possibly by shirking dangerous duty a man might add to his day a thirteenth hour. But if he does, says Jesus, no birds will sing for him nor will the light of the glad sun direct his feet— he will walk in the night and he will stumble.

Think on these things my friend especially in these perilous times; when it’s not popular to be a Christian or do your Christian virtue.

But think seriously too, because we all must give account of that which has been entrusted into our ours.

Our time here is for us to fulfill an assigned task from our Maker, as an ambassador when our time is up, its up; right now we have but twelve hours in a day.

The Good Shepherd


 

Good Shepherd

Good Shepherd (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

I am the door of the sheep— Joh_10:7

 

The Man Born Blind and the Good Shepherd

 

Chapter nine of John’s Gospel tells about the man born blind. Then in the following one is the lesson of the Good Shepherd. And I dare say it seems at first as if there were no link between the two. But if it is hard for us to find a link, it was all plain as daylight to the man born blind. He hid in the crowd and drank in every word that Jesus said; and as he heard that wonderful talk about the shepherd, he said to himself, “Every syllable of that is meant for me.” Had not the Pharisees excommunicated him? Had they not slammed the door of blessing in his face? “I am the door,” says the Lord Jesus. Had not the Pharisees been mad with rage that he, a poor lost sheep, should dare to teach them, the shepherds of the people? “I am the good shepherd,” said Jesus. Christ knew what had happened. He knew the treatment His beggar-friend had gotten. It stirred His heart into this noble eloquence. And as the sunflower springs from its seed, so all the wealth and beauty of our chapter spring from the healing of the man born blind.

 

Many Were Called the Shepherd of the People

 

Of course, when Jesus calls Himself a shepherd, He is far from being first to use that figure. The originality of Jesus does not lie in saying things that were never said before. Old Homer (whom I hope many of my readers love) is fond of calling his heroes shepherds of men. It had been used of Cyrus in Isaiah; of rulers and prophets in Jeremiah and Ezekiel. It is the name given to the teacher of wisdom in Ecclesiastes. It comes to full bloom in the twenty-third Psalm. I wonder, too, if you have ever thought how many of God’s great leaders had been shepherds. Abraham and Jacob both had to do with sheep. Moses was keeping Jethro’s flock when God spake in the burning bush. When Samuel came to seek a king, the king, a ruddy lad, was shepherding. Amos the prophet was a simple herdsman. And Jeremiah, the prophet most similar to the Lord, would seem to have been a shepherd too. Did not Christ know all that? Had He not brooded deep upon these shepherds, as He wandered among the hills of Nazareth? Now, at the touch of need and under the impulse of a great compassion, He glorifies and crowns that ancient image by making it the express image of Himself.

 

As a Shepherd, Christ Knows His Sheep

 

Now you will note that Jesus knows His sheep. That thought was clearly before the mind of Christ. There was not a Pharisee who knew the blind beggar although they had passed his begging-place for years. But beggar or prince, it is all one to Jesus; as the Father knows Him, He knows His own. Mr. Moody used to tell about a girl who was very ill, and her mother sang to her and spoke to her and shifted her, but the little patient still tossed and fretted. And then her mother stooped down and took her in her arms, and the child whispered, “Ah, mother, that’s what I want!” You see that even a mother, for all her love, can never be sure what her little one is wanting. But every want and every need, and every trial and every hope, of every separate boy or girl who trusts Him—it is all known to Jesus. The day is coming when Christ shall say to some people, “Depart from Me, I never knew you! “But that same Jesus is saying today, “I am the Good Shepherd, and know My sheep.”

 

The Sheep Know Their Shepherd

 

Note once again that the sheep know their shepherd. There is a story of a Scottish traveler in Palestine who thought he would try an experiment upon the sheep. He had been reading this chapter of St. John, and he was eager to put it to the test. So he got a shepherd to change clothes with him; and the tourist wrapped himself in the shepherd’s mantle, and the shepherd donned the tourist’s garb, and then both called to the flock of sheep to follow (in the East the shepherd goes before his flock). And the sheep followed the voice and not the dress. It was the voice and not the dress they knew. So you see that every sheep in the flock has got an earmark—it can tell the voice of the shepherd from a stranger’s. And every sheep in the flock has got a foot mark—they follow the shepherd because they know his voice. Have you been branded on the ear and foot? Are these two marks of ownership on you? Samuel was but a child when he cried out, “Speak, Lord, for thy servant heareth!” The Shepherd called him and he heard the voice.

 

The Good Shepherd Lays His Life Down for the Sheep

 

We never think of a shepherd as a hero. But in the East there is never a day that dawns but may reveal the hero or the hireling in the shepherd. Tonight there may spring a lion on the flock. Or who can tell but that yon swirling dust betokens the galloping of Bedouin sheep-stealers? If that be so—come, trusty blade! It must be battle now! For all my watching and my watering shall be vain unless I am ready to combat to the death! So is the Eastern shepherd faced with death. Serving amid fierce beasts and fiercer bandits, he may be called to die for his sheep tonight. And I am the Good Shepherd, says Jesus, and the Good Shepherd gives

 

Church of the Good Shepherd - explore front pa...

Church of the Good Shepherd – explore front page 🙂 (Photo credit: Adam Foster | Codefor)

 

His life for the sheep. Learn, then, that the cross is Jesus’ noblest deed. It is not an accident; it is an act. It is the crowning service of the Shepherd to the sheep, whom He loves too deeply ever to let them go.

 

There Is Only One Fold

 

Then, lastly, mark that the shepherd has sheep outside our fold. In the early Church there was a fiery saint, some of whose books our students study yet. And this “fierce Tertullian,” as one of our poets calls him, said, “The sheep He saves, the goats He doth not save.” But in the very days when Tertullian was writing, there were humble Christians hiding in the catacombs. And they loved to draw the figure of the Good Shepherd, and many of their rude drawings are there still—and often the Good Shepherd is carrying on His shoulders, not a lamb, but a kid of the goats. To the Jew there was but one fold—it was Israel. Jesus had other sheep outside that fold. And whenever we send a missionary to China, whenever we pray for the savage tribes of Africa, we do it because the Good Shepherd has said this: “Them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice, and there shall be one fold and one shepherd.”

 

 

The Man Who Does No Miracle


Tomb of St. John the Baptist at a Coptic monas...

Tomb of St. John the Baptist at a Coptic monastery in Lower Egypt. The bones of St. John the Baptist were said to have been found here. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

John did no miracle: but all things that John spake of this man were true— Joh_10:41

The Brilliant and the Average

The kind of man who does no miracle is the kind we are meeting every day. He is the man who never makes us marvel. There are men like Shakespeare who cannot take up a pen without enriching us with miracles of wisdom. There are women who delight us with miracles of song. But the average man is different from that. One can reckon on the thing that he will do. It is the sort of thing that we can do ourselves. Now, brilliance may be perilous; but mediocrity also has perils. Remember that in the Master’s story it was the man of the one talent who made shipwreck. So it may help us to consider briefly what Scripture has to teach about a man who never did a miracle.

Even Though John Didn’t Do Any Miracles. He Had a Lofty Character

First, the Baptist did no miracle, yet he had a lofty character. Perhaps we should be aware of that more vividly if the Baptist did not stand so close to Jesus. A flower is apt to blossom unobserved if it be near one that is altogether lovely. And our blessed Lord, in that perfect poise of His, was “altogether lovely.” So that often we are likely to miss, from its very proximity to what was perfect, the grandeur of the character of John. How true he was in every relationship! How wise in the midst of tumultuous excitements! How brave both in the desert and the dungeon! How exquisitely and gloriously humble!—and all this loftiness and moral worth found, not in the child of genius, but in the man who never did a miracle. Character does not demand great gifts. Character can ripen in the commonplace. Men who have no wonder-working genius can “come smiling from the world’s great snare uncaught.” And to do that, when life is difficult, and skies are dark and temptations are insistent is to reach the sunrise and the crown.

John Had a Special Work to Do

Again, the Baptist did no miracle, yet God gave him a special work to do. It was the work of witnessing to Christ, and John fulfilled it in the noblest way. Others dreamed that the Messiah would come in splendor: John witnessed that He was in their midst. Others dreamed that He would appear in sovereignty: John witnessed that He was the Lamb of God. And this great mission, of such supreme importance in the loving purposes of heaven, was given to a man who did no miracle. We are so apt to think that special service is only given to very special people, that great tasks are not for common folk but for men of wonder-working gifts. And the beautiful lesson of our text is this, that though you may have no power to do a miracle, for you, too, there is a special service-something that only you can do; something that won’t be done unless you do it; something the world needs, which you and you only can supply—you, not dowered with any gift of miracle. Business men in a humble way of business, mothers in undistinguished homes, riveters working in the shipyards, clerks and typists in the city offices—such do no miracles and never will save the one miracle of patient drudgery; yet God for each has a special work to do.

John’s Influence

Then the Baptist did no miracle, yet he exercised a deep and lasting influence. It was of that, in part, our Lord was thinking when He said that John was greater than the prophets. In the long history of Israel none were more influential than the prophets. They stirred the conscience; they revived the state; they brought God to bear on daily life. But even greater than that prophetic influence was the influence of John the Baptist—yet John was a man who never did a miracle. Is not that true of human life? Most of us in our journey through the years have met with some who had the gift of miracle—some who could take a common thing and touch it, and it would blossom into a world of beauty. And for all these wonderful gifts we shall be grateful, for every good and perfect gift is from above, but—are these the folk who have influenced us most? Is it not far more often common, humble people, dowered with no extraordinary gifts?—a wife or mother, a wise and faithful friend, a minister whom none would call a genius? It is one of life’s most perfect compensations that influence does not depend on brilliance but comes to those (like John) who do no miracle.

God’s “Well Done” Is for the Faithful Man

Lastly, the Baptist did no miracle, yet he won the highest praise of Christ. “Among them that are born of women there hath not risen a greater than John.” A man may lead a false and rotten life and yet win the praise of men. The acid test of the successful life is this: does it win the praise of Christ? And the fine thing is that to win that praise one does not need to be wonderful or striking: it is given to those who may do no miracle—to those who trust Him when everything is dark; to those who keep their faces towards the morning; to those who, through headache and through heartache, quietly and doggedly do their appointed bit; to those who “endure” with a smile upon their lips; to those who help a brother by the way; to those who look for a city which hath foundations. In this big world there is room for every gift and for every genius who has the power of miracle. But in this big world there is room and power and victory for the great multitude who do no miracle. It is not “Well done, thou good and brilliant servant,” else would there be little hope for millions. It is “Well done, thou good and faithful servant.”

 

Appreciation & Compliments


Without purpose, passion and a sense that we are making a difference,

what meaning does our life really have,

and why should we strive to do our best work?

The beauty of appreciation is that we can each give it to anyone we choose.

It costs nothing except a few moments of our time.

 

Rebecca

%d bloggers like this: