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nChrist
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« Reply #45 on: April 20, 2008, 02:57:25 AM »

______________________________
Devotional Commentary On The Gospels
by Favell Lee Mortimer ( 1802 - 1878 )
______________________________

April 20
By Thy Spirit

"Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, saith Jehovah of hosts" (Zechariah 4:6).

My way led up a hill, and right at the foot I saw a boy on a bicycle. He was pedalling up hill against the wind, and evidently found it a tremendously hard work. Just as he was working most strenuously and doing his best painfully, there came a trolley car going in the same direction -- up the hill.

It was not going too fast for the boy to get behind it, and with one hand to lay hold of the bar at the back. Then you know what happened. He went up that hill like a bird. Then it flashed upon me:

"Why, I am like that boy on the bicycle in my weariness and weakness. I am pedalling up hill against all kinds of opposition, and am almost worn out with the task. But here at hand is a great available power, the strength of the Lord Jesus.

"I have only to get in touch with Him and to maintain communication with Him, though it may be only one little finger of faith, and that will be enough to make His power mine for the doing of this bit of service that just now seems too much for me." And I was helped to dismiss my weariness and to realize this truth.  -- The Life of Fuller Purpose

ABANDONED

Utterly abandoned to the Holy Ghost!
Seeking all His fulness at whatever cost;
Cutting all the shore-lines, launching in the deep
Of His mighty power -- strong to save and keep.

Utterly abandoned to the Holy Ghost!
Oh! the sinking, sinking, until self is lost!
Until the emptied vessel lies broken at His feet;
Waiting till His filling shall make the work complete.

Utterly abandoned to the will of God;
Seeking for no other path than my Master trod;
Leaving ease and pleasure, making Him my choice,
Waiting for His guidance, listening for His voice.

Utterly abandoned! no will of my own;
For time and for eternity, His, and His alone;
All my plans and purposes lost in His sweet will,
Having nothing, yet in Him all things possessing still.

Utterly abandoned! 'tis so sweet to be
Captive in His bonds of love, yet so wondrous free;
Free from sin's entanglements, free from doubt and fear,
Free from every worry, burden, grief or care.

Utterly abandoned! oh, the rest is sweet,
As I tarry, waiting, at His blessed feet;
Waiting for the coming of the Guest divine,
Who my inmost being shall perfectly refine.

Lo! He comes and fills me, Holy Spirit sweet!
I, in Him, am satisfied! I, in Him, complete!
And the light within my soul shall nevermore grow dim
While I keep my covenant -- abandoned unto Him!

 -- Author Unknown
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« Reply #46 on: April 20, 2008, 02:59:47 AM »

______________________________
Devotional Commentary On The Gospels
by Favell Lee Mortimer ( 1802 - 1878 )
______________________________

April 21
Abundantly Able

"And being absolutely certain that whatever promise He is bound by, He is able to make good" (Romans 4:20).

We are told that Abraham could look at his own body and consider it as good as dead without being discouraged, because he was not looking at himself but at the Almighty One.

He did not stagger at the promise, but stood straight up unbending beneath his mighty load of blessing; and instead of growing weak he waxed strong in the faith, grew more robust, the more difficulties became apparent, glorifying God through His very sufficiency and being "fully persuaded" (as the Greek expresses it) "that he who had promised was," not merely able, but as it literally means "abundantly able," munificently able, able with an infinite surplus of resources, infinitely able "to perform."

He is the God of boundless resources. The only limit is in us. Our asking, our thinking, our praying are too small; our expectations are too limited. He is trying to lift us up to a higher conception, and lure us on to a mightier expectation and appropriation. Oh, shall we put Him in derision? There is no limit to what we may ask and expect of our glorious El-Shaddai; and there is but one measure here given for His blessing, and that is "according to the power that worketh in us."  -- A. B. Simpson

"Climb to the treasure house of blessing on the ladder made of divine promises. By a promise as by a key open the door to the riches of God's grace and favor."
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« Reply #47 on: April 20, 2008, 03:01:58 AM »

______________________________
Devotional Commentary On The Gospels
by Favell Lee Mortimer ( 1802 - 1878 )
______________________________

April 22
God Knows

"He knoweth the way that I take" (Job 23:10).

Believer! What a glorious assurance! This way of thine -- this, it may be, a crooked, mysterious, tangled way -- this way of trial and tears. "He knoweth it." The furnace seven times heated -- He lighted it. There is an Almighty Guide knowing and directing our footsteps, whether it be to the bitter Marah pool, or to the joy and refreshment of Elim.

That way, dark to the Egyptians, has its pillar of cloud and fire for His own Israel. The furnace is hot; but not only can we trust the hand that kindles it, but we have the assurance that the fires are lighted not to consume, but to refine; and that when the refining process is completed (no sooner -- no later) He brings His people forth as gold.

When they think Him least near, He is often nearest. "When my spirit was overwhelmed, then thou knewest my path."

Do we know of ONE brighter than the brightest radiance of the visible sun, visiting our chamber with the first waking beam of the morning; an eye of infinite tenderness and compassion following us throughout the day, knowing the way that we take?

The world, in its cold vocabulary in the hour of adversity, speaks of "Providence" -- "the will of Providence" -- "the strokes of Providence." PROVIDENCE! what is that?

Why dethrone a living, directing God from the sovereignty of His own earth? Why substitute an inanimate, death-like abstraction, in place of an acting, controlling, personal Jehovah?

How it would take the sting from many a goading trial, to see what Job saw (in his hour of aggravated woe, when every earthly hope lay prostrate at his feet) -- no hand but the Divine. He saw that hand behind the gleaming swords of the Sabeans -- he saw it behind the lightning flash -- he saw it giving wings to the careening tempest -- he saw it in the awful silence of his rifled home.

"The Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord!"

Thus seeing God in everything, his faith reached its climax when this once powerful prince of the desert, seated on his bed of ashes, could say, "Though he slay me, yet will I trust him."  -- Macduff
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« Reply #48 on: April 20, 2008, 03:03:33 AM »

______________________________
Devotional Commentary On The Gospels
by Favell Lee Mortimer ( 1802 - 1878 )
______________________________

April 23
Thou Wilt Revive Me

"Though I walk in the midst of trouble, thou wilt revive me" (Psalms 138:7).

The Hebrew rendering of the above is "go on in the center of trouble." What descriptive words! We have called on God in the day of trouble; we have pleaded His promise of deliverance but no deliverance has been given; the enemy has continued oppressing until we were in the very thick of the fight, in the center of trouble. Why then trouble the Master any further?

When Martha said, "Lord, if thou hadst been here my brother had not died," our Lord met her lack of hope with His further promise, "Thy brother shall rise again." And when we walk "in the center of trouble" and are tempted to think like Martha that the time of deliverance is past, He meets us too with a promise from His Word. "Though I walk in the midst of trouble, thou wilt revive me."

Though His answer has so long delayed, though we may still continue to "go on" in the midst of trouble, "the center of trouble" is the place where He revives, not the place where He fails us.

When in the hopeless place, the continued hopeless place, is the very time when He will stretch forth His hand against the wrath of our enemies and perfect that which concerneth us, the very time when He will make the attack to cease and fail and come to an end. What occasion is there then for fainting?  -- Aphra White

THE EYE OF THE STORM

"Fear not that the whirlwind shall carry thee hence,
Nor wait for its onslaught in breathless suspense,
Nor shrink from the whips of the terrible hail,
But pass through the edge to the heart of the gale,
For there is a shelter, sunlighted and warm,
And Faith sees her God through the eye of the storm.

"The passionate tempest with rush and wild roar
And threatenings of evil may beat on the shore,
The waves may be mountains, the fields battle plains,
And the earth be immersed in a deluge of rains,
Yet, the soul, stayed on God, may sing bravely its psalm,
For the heart of the storm is the center of calm.

"Let hope be not quenched in the blackness of night,
Though the cyclone awhile may have blotted the light,
For behind the great darkness the stars ever shine,
And the light of God's heavens, His love shall make thine,
Let no gloom dim thine eyes, but uplift them on high
To the face of thy God and the blue of His sky.

"The storm is thy shelter from danger and sin,
And God Himself takes thee for safety within;
The tempest with Him passeth into deep calm,
And the roar of the winds is the sound of a psalm.
Be glad and serene when the tempest clouds form;
God smiles on His child in the eye of the storm."
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« Reply #49 on: April 20, 2008, 03:05:13 AM »

______________________________
Devotional Commentary On The Gospels
by Favell Lee Mortimer ( 1802 - 1878 )
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April 24
Commit and Rest

"Faith is...the evidence of things not seen" (Hebrews 11:1).

True faith drops its letter in the post office box, and lets it go. Distrust holds on to a corner of it, and wonders that the answer never comes. I have some letters in my desk that have been written for weeks, but there was some slight uncertainty about the address or the contents, so they are yet unmailed. They have not done either me or anybody else any good yet. They will never accomplish anything until I let them go out of my hands and trust them to the postman and the mail.

This the way with true faith. It hands its case over to God, and then He works. That is a fine verse in the Thirty-seventh Psalm: "Commit thy way unto the Lord, trust also in Him, and He worketh." But He never worketh till we commit. Faith is a receiving or still better, a taking of God's proffered gifts. We may believe, and come, and commit, and rest; but we will not fully realize all our blessing until we begin to receive and come into the attitude of abiding and taking.  -- Days of Heaven upon Earth

Dr. Payson, when a young man, wrote as follows, to an aged mother, burdened with intense anxiety on account of the condition of her son: "You give yourself too much trouble about him. After you have prayed for him, as you have done, and committed him to God, should you not cease to feel anxious respecting him? The command, 'Be careful for nothing,' is unlimited; and so is the expression, 'Casting all your care on him.' If we cast our burdens upon another, can they continue to press upon us? If we bring them away with us from the Throne of Grace, it is evident we do not leave them there. With respect to myself, I have made this one test of my prayers: if after committing anything to God, I can, like Hannah, come away and have my mind no more sad, my heart no more pained or anxious, I look upon it as one proof that I have prayed in faith; but, if I bring away my burden, I conclude that faith was not in exercise."
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« Reply #50 on: April 20, 2008, 03:07:03 AM »

______________________________
Devotional Commentary On The Gospels
by Favell Lee Mortimer ( 1802 - 1878 )
______________________________

April 25
Waiting For Resurrection

"And there was Mary Magdalene and the other Mary, sitting over against the sepulchre"
(Matthew 27:61).

How strangely stupid is grief. It neither learns nor knows nor wishes to learn or know. When the sorrowing sisters sat over against the door of God's sepulchre, did they see the two thousand years that have passed triumphing away? Did they see any thing but this: "Our Christ is gone!"

Your Christ and my Christ came from their loss; Myriad mourning hearts have had resurrection in the midst of their grief; and yet the sorrowing watchers looked at the seed-form of this result, and saw nothing. What they regarded as the end of life was the very preparation for coronation; for Christ was silent that He might live again in tenfold power.

They saw it not. They mourned, they wept, and went away, and came again, driven by their hearts to the sepulchre. Still it was a sepulchre, unprophetic, voiceless, lusterless.

So with us. Every man sits over against the sepulchre in his garden, in the first instance, and says, "This woe is irremediable. I see no benefit in it. I will take no comfort in it." And yet, right in our deepest and worst mishaps, often, our Christ is lying, waiting for resurrection.

Where our death seems to be, there our Saviour is. Where the end of hope is, there is the brightest beginning of fruition. Where the darkness is thickest, there the bright beaming light that never is set is about to emerge. When the whole experience is consummated, then we find that a garden is not disfigured by a sepulchre. Our joys are made better if there be sorrow in the midst of them. And our sorrows are made bright by the joys that God has planted around about them. The flowers may not be pleasing to us, they may not be such as we are fond of plucking, but they are heart-flowers, love, hope, faith, joy, peace -- these are flowers which are planted around about every grave that is sunk in the Christian heart.

"'Twas by a path of sorrows drear
Christ entered into rest;
And shall I look for roses here,
Or think that earth is blessed?
Heaven's whitest lilies blow
From earth's sharp crown of woe.
Who here his cross can meekly bear,
Shall wear the kingly purple there."
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« Reply #51 on: April 28, 2008, 01:32:06 PM »

______________________________
Devotional Commentary On The Gospels
by Favell Lee Mortimer ( 1802 - 1878 )
______________________________

April 26

He directs them with whom to abide during their journey

Mat_10:7-15

Before the twelve disciples set out on their journey, their Master gave them many directions respecting their conduct. He desired them to make no provision for their wants, to take no money in their purses or girdles, no food in their scrips or bags, and no new clothes to supply the place of the old when worn out. How then were they to be supported during their travels? Jesus appointed that the people to whom they preached should supply their wants; for "The workman," he said, "is worthy of his meat." Pious people would consider it a privilege to supply the wants of their teachers. The apostles, by accepting their gifts, would imitate the humility of their Master, who, though he could have turned stones into bread, and did turn water into wine, chose rather to accept the gifts of his pious followers. How many of God's most devoted servants in all ages have been placed in circumstances of dependence! But God has never forgotten his children when reduced to deep poverty. He has always put it into the hearts of some charitable people to help them in their need, or by some other means He has supplied their necessities.

It is recorded of an excellent minister, who lived nearly two hundred years ago, that once when obliged by persecution to leave his family, he set out without any money in his pocket, and not knowing where to go. He suffered his horse to take its own course, and towards evening he found himself at the door of a small farm-house. He requested the mistress to allow him to take shelter beneath her roof, but frankly told her he had no money with which to reward her hospitality. Both she and her husband kindly entertained him. In the course of conversation they inquired after a minister, named Oliver Heywood, whom, they had heard, was persecuted with great bitterness. After some time, the traveler acknowledged that he was the very person they spoke of. Great was the joy of his pious hosts. They called their neighbors in, requested their honored guest to speak to them from the word of God, and afterwards made a small collection to help him on his way.

In this manner God has often unexpectedly relieved his suffering servants. No doubt the apostles, during the course of their journey, experienced the same providential care.

But though the Lord promised to provide for their wants, he warned them against indulging a covetous disposition—"Freely you have received, freely give." He forbade their making a gain of their power to heal. They might easily have amassed large fortunes by their cures; but riches so acquired by ministers of his word would have been a curse.

Jesus directs his apostles to whom to go in each city—"To the most worthy." They were to make inquiries respecting the character of the inhabitants of each place they visited. Probably the neighbors would speak most highly of the most upright and benevolent inhabitants of the village. In general, it would be found that the person who bore the best character was also the most godly. What a blessing he would enjoy who would obtain the company of the apostles, and have the opportunity of hearing their instructions! It is considered an honor to entertain princes; but it is a far higher honor to receive the servants of God. When they have departed, the remembrance of their words, and of their spirit, leaves a holy fragrance on the mind. But sometimes the apostles would enter the door of an unworthy host, perhaps of some hypocritical Pharisee, who had succeeded in establishing a good reputation among men. Still they were to pronounce the blessing of peace upon the house. But that blessing would not descend upon an unworthy head. No! it would return into the bosom of those who uttered it. Thus we perceive, that if we are deceived in the characters of others, and bless those whom God has determined not to bless, yet still the blessing shall not be lost.

The Lord prepared his apostles to find some who would refuse to hear their message. It would be their duty solemnly to warn these despisers of the dreadful guilt they incurred. The sin of rejecting the gospel is far greater than any sin that the heathens can commit. Men may think that the idolater who leaves his aged parents to starve, or who cruelly slaughters the innocent children of his enemies, is the most wicked of the human race. But the Bible declares that the man who refuses to accept the merciful offers of the Son of God, is far worse than any of the heathen, and that he shall suffer the hottest wrath of his insulted Redeemer. Shall God speak, and man refuse to listen? Shall God stretch out his hands in merciful entreaty, and shall man turn away and despise the gracious invitation? How dreadful is the threatening denounced against such scorners. "I will also laugh at your calamity; I will mock when your fear comes." (Pro_1:26.)
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« Reply #52 on: April 28, 2008, 01:33:47 PM »

______________________________
Devotional Commentary On The Gospels
by Favell Lee Mortimer ( 1802 - 1878 )
______________________________

April 27

He prepares them for persecution
Mat_10:16-26

Our Savior fully prepared his disciples for the treatment they would receive from the world. He compared ungodly men to wolves, and his apostles to sheep, He described the manner in which these wolves would treat his sheep—in thought, word, and deed. The thoughts of ungodly men towards the apostles would be thoughts of hatred. Jesus said, "You shall be hated of all men." (verse 22.)

The world has ever hated the children of God. There is nothing more painful to our feelings than the ill-will of our fellow-creatures. No abundance of possessions can make amends for hatred; while love can console in the midst of trials. Jesus therefore warned his disciples against being turned back from him by the hatred of the world, saying, "He who endures to the end (in spite of these trials) shall be saved."

The hatred men felt in their hearts would lead them to utter hateful words against the disciples of Jesus. They had called the Lord Jesus himself Beelzebub. Ought his disciples to expect better treatment? Was it not enough if the servant was not worse treated than his Lord?

Christians have always been slandered; they have been accused of hypocrisy, as well as of secret crimes. Jesus comforts his disciples under their accusations by this assurance in verse 26—"There is nothing covered that shall not be revealed; nor hidden, that shall not be known." Would it not comfort those who are falsely accused, to know that the day is coming when the truth would be made known? Such comfort all Christians possess, when slandered by their enemies.

Men would not only speak words against the disciples, but would commit cruel actions against them. They would imprison them and scourge them, and even cause them to be put to death. Yes, parents would turn against their own children, and persecute them in the most unnatural manner.

All these trials did not come upon the disciples during their first journey; but as Jesus knew they would come upon them after his ascension, he directed them how to behave under these trials. They were to do everything to avoid persecution, except concealing the truth. In their characters they were to resemble serpents and doves; serpents in caution and prudence, doves in gentleness and inoffensiveness—they were not to be malicious as serpents, or silly as doves, but wise as serpents, and harmless as doves. Yet notwithstanding all their endeavors, they would be persecuted for preaching the gospel.

One great advantage would arise from their being brought before kings and judges; they would have an opportunity of declaring the truth to those high personages; as Paul did to Felix, who trembled on his judgment-seat. Jesus bade his disciples take no thought what they should speak when examined by their judges. Though they could not foresee what perplexing questions would be put to them, they were not to be disturbed with the fear lest they should not be able to answer well; for God would assist them with his Spirit.

Peter and John were the first among the apostles who were brought before rulers for their Master's sake. It is written, that when Peter was called upon to defend his conduct in healing the lame man, he "was filled with the Holy Spirit." He spoke with such power, that his judges could make no reply. "When they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived they were unlearned and ignorant men, they marveled." (Act_4:13.)

In later days many poor uneducated men have been questioned by learned judges, and have been able to give answers which have quite confounded their enemies. In Foxe's Book of Martyrs, there are accounts of many such men who suffered death in this country, because they would not worship the Virgin Mary and the saints, or profess to believe Roman Catholic errors. And it has been remarked, that some of the least learned of the martyrs spoke with the greatest power; because they relied most simply upon the help of God, and appealed only to his Word.

Though we may never be called upon to stand before an earthly judgment-seat, yet we must be willing to confess our faith whenever an opportunity occurs. It is written in the first Epistle of Peter, "' Be ready always to give an answer to every man that asks you a reason of the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear." We may trust in God to teach us on such occasions how to reply. Let us lift up our hearts to Him before we speak, and our answer may be made the means of converting the unbelieving inquirer.
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« Reply #53 on: April 28, 2008, 01:35:56 PM »

______________________________
Devotional Commentary On The Gospels
by Favell Lee Mortimer ( 1802 - 1878 )
______________________________

April 28

Jesus encourages them to be faithful
Mat_10:27-39

The Lord Jesus had declared that his disciples would be exposed to great sufferings through preaching the gospel—that they would be scourged, imprisoned, and even put to death. Would not this prospect be a great temptation to conceal the truth? Yes, it would; therefore Jesus taught them by commands, warnings, and promises, to preach the gospel openly.

First, he gave them a command. He said, "What I tell you in darkness, that speak you in light; what you hear in the ear, that preach you in the housetops." He had told his disciples many doctrines privately, that they were to preach publicly. How anxious Paul afterwards was that he might open his mouth boldly, and speak the gospel as he ought to speak it, concealing no part of the truth, however men might dislike to hear it!

Jesus not only gave a command, he added warnings, reminding his disciples that God was able to kill both their bodies and souls in hell; declaring that he would deny them before his Father, if they denied him before men; and asserting that "he who finds his life shall lose it;" that is, that he who saves his life by forsaking Christ, shall perish. But perhaps some may ask, "Did not Peter deny Christ? Will Christ deny him before his Father?" Assuredly not; for Peter repented of his sin, and obtained mercy, and no sin repented of and forgiven, shall be punished at the last day.

Christ also gave promises to his disciples to encourage them to preach his gospel. He told them that their hairs were all numbered, and that they themselves were of more value in God's sight than many sparrows. He did not promise that his disciples should be preserved from sufferings or from death by their heavenly Father; but he assured them that their trials were all appointed by a loving parent. The ungodly will sometimes say in trouble, "It is all for the best;" but it is not all for the best with those who do not desire to please God; sufferings only add to the guilt of those who do not repent of their sins. The children of God alone may feel assured that all that befalls them is for the best; sickness and health, riches and poverty, life and death, are all made to promote their everlasting welfare. "We know," says the apostle Paul, "that all things work together for good to them that love God." (Rom_8:28.)

Jesus prepared his disciples for occasioning a great deal of confusion by the preaching of the gospel. He said, "Do not think that I am come to send peace on earth." It was natural that the disciples should suppose that he came to send peace. Isaiah had called him the Prince of Peace. At his birth angels had sung, "Glory to God in the highest, on earth peace." He did, indeed, come to bring peace in the end, but persecution and confusion first. It would be wicked men who would create this confusion by their hatred of the Savior. How many families have been divided by the gospel! one member has become religious, has turned to God in earnest, and the rest have turned against him. But should these trials prevent any from coming to Christ? O no! we ought to love the Savior better than our dearest relations—better than father or mother, son or daughter. Nor must we in anything disobey him, in order to please a dear friend, or connection. There are many children who are unkindly treated by their parents on account of their religion, and there are many parents who are despised by their children for the same reason. It is a great temptation to an affectionate parent to indulge children by allowing them to taste pleasures which are forbidden in the holy Scriptures. But to do this is to be unfaithful to God. We should always remember that Jesus is nearer to us than parent or child can be. He is our God. The Lord said to Abraham in ancient days, "I will be a GOD unto you." This is more than if He had said, "I will be a Father unto you." David said unto the Lord, "You are my God!" (Psa_140:6.) When any who are near and dear to us would entice us to forsake Him, let us remember that He is our God.
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« Reply #54 on: April 28, 2008, 01:37:41 PM »

______________________________
Devotional Commentary On The Gospels
by Favell Lee Mortimer ( 1802 - 1878 )
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April 29

He pronounces blessings on those who show kindness to his disciples
Mat_10:40-42; Mat_11:1

The Lord Jesus had forbidden his apostles to take anything with them in their journey, either bag, (that is, bag of provisions,) or money in their purses; and He had desired them to go to the house of the most worthy person in each town, though that person might also be the poorest. It must have been a great comfort to the apostles to know that a rich blessing would rest upon those who received them into their houses, and that their kindness would be repaid at the resurrection of the just.

Paul felt this comfort when the Philippians sent gifts to him in prison. He could not repay them, but he said, "My God will supply all your need according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus." (Php_4:19.)

But is it not possible that a wicked man might receive a servant of Christ and treat him kindly? Yes, doubtless it is possible. Would he receive a heavenly reward? We must consider the motive of every action, before we can pronounce it to be good or bad. It is only those who receive a prophet in the name of a prophet, (that is, because he is a prophet,) who shall receive a prophet's reward. He who receives a prophet because he is an admired preacher, or an amiable man, or an old acquaintance, he will not receive a prophet's reward for his hospitality. The motive in receiving him must be, because he is a servant of Christ. If that is the motive, all faithful prophets will be treated with kindness, and not only some favorite prophet. The blessing, we perceive, is pronounced not only on those who receive prophets, but also on those who receive righteous men who are not prophets; and also on those who are kind to Christ's little ones, or to the weakest believers.

In these days it is often difficult to discover whether any kindness we show to God's people proceeds from the right motive. It is now so easy a duty, that many practice it, who would not incur any danger, or make any sacrifice for the sake of Christ and his people. In former days the case was different. Then it was often dangerous to show kindness to true Christians. Those who visited them in prison, or who harbored them in their houses, drew upon themselves persecution. Even in this country, at the time people were beginning to turn from popery, both men and women were often put to the rack to induce them to confess the names of those who had been kind to them. If a person were known to have sent money to a poor prisoner, or if he were seen giving him a loaf through the prison bars, the enemies of the truth would send to apprehend him. It was not an easy duty in those days to befriend the people of God. Few, if any, would do it who did not love Christ sincerely.

But even in these happier days, some of the saints are held in general contempt. If we countenance and encourage all those who serve our Master, we also shall be despised. But if we would be faithful to Christ, we must not consider to what sect or party men belong, but only, "Do they serve our Lord?" and if they do, we ought to receive them, and help them; we ought to defend their characters when aspersed, to bear with their infirmities, and to forgive their offences. This will be a sign that we should not have despised the Lord Jesus, if we had lived when he was upon earth. The feelings of the true believer are well expressed by a Christian poet, in the following lines—

Your people by the world abhorred,
I for my people take,
And serve the servants of my Lord,
For their dear Master's sake.
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« Reply #55 on: April 28, 2008, 01:39:07 PM »

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Devotional Commentary On The Gospels
by Favell Lee Mortimer ( 1802 - 1878 )
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April 30

The death of John the Baptist
Mar_6:12-29

Very little is related concerning the events that happened while the apostles were absent from their Lord. This however we know—Jesus continued to preach, and to perform miracles. His fame was so great that it reached the ears of Herod, the governor. It may appear surprising that Herod had not heard before of his miracles; but the great are often ignorant of the things passing around them among the poor; and sometimes they do not even know the names of the most eminent of God's servants.

When Herod heard of the miracles of the Lord, he supposed that John the Baptist was risen from the dead; and though John in his lifetime had performed no miracles, he imagined that if risen from the dead, he could do mighty works. Amid all his splendor and his power the wicked monarch could not forget his faithful reprover. He had silenced the prophet long ago by committing him to prison; but he could not silence his own conscience, which upbraided him with the murder of the holy man. If before sin was perpetrated, it could be known what would be the state of mind afterwards, many would tremble to do the deed.

Herod was a miserable man; for he had a guilty conscience and an impenitent heart. His crimes were so flagrant, and so presumptuous, that they haunted him in his palace. But they were not followed by repentance. If Herod had really lamented his wickedness, he would have desired to acknowledge it to him, whom he supposed to be the murdered prophet. He would have found in him the only being who could take away his guilt, and give peace to his conscience. But when at last he did see Jesus, it was to insult him, and to array him, just before his crucifixion, with a gorgeous robe, that ill-became his wounded, bleeding form.

And by what steps did Herod sink into this depth of depravity? Once he had heard John the Baptist gladly, and had attended to his words, and had reformed many parts of his conduct. But he had indulged one darling sin; he had refused to part with Herodias, his brother Philip's wife; and had imprisoned the man who rebuked his wickedness. This act hardened his heart, and prepared him for greater crimes. While the prophet languished in a gloomy prison, the unfeeling tyrant reveled in his palace. The elegant dancing of Salome enticed him to make an imprudent promise. He intended not to murder the prophet; perhaps he intended some day to release him from prison; at all events, he was reluctant to shed his blood. But having made an oath, he feared lest his guests should despise him if he broke it. He dreaded their scornful smile more than the angry frown of an offended God. But he soon experienced that it is an dreadful thing to provoke the Almighty. We learn from history, that Herod, with his idolized Herodias, was at length expelled his kingdom, and that he died in banishment and disgrace.

For a moment it seemed as if the devices of a malicious woman had prevailed against God's faithful servant. But was not early death a welcome boon to the holy Baptist? Was not the executioner an acceptable visitant in his prison? The messenger who fetched Joseph from his dungeon to the presence of Pharaoh, was not so welcome as the executioner who removed John from his prison to the presence of his God. He had done the work which was appointed for him to do; he had announced the coming Savior to rebellious men. The servants of God have various posts assigned to them. Each has some commission to perform, and when it is executed, he is recalled. It may appear that he has died in the midst of his work; but this cannot really be the case. God will raise up others to carry on his labors; even as He appointed the apostles to continue to preach that gospel, which John the Baptist had begun to proclaim.

The disciples of the martyred prophet were permitted to enjoy the melancholy satisfaction of burying his headless corpse; for Herod, who would gladly have spared his life, did not withhold his body from them. They must have viewed the early, sudden, and cruel death of their revered Master, as a mysterious event. To lose a friend by the hand of violence is far more bitter than to lose him through disease or accident; for it is more difficult to see God's hand in the loss when man's cruelty has had a share in it. With bursting hearts, these bereaved disciples went and told Jesus of their trouble, (Mat_6:12.)

He could have explained the dark perplexing event. He knew that John was taken away from the evil to come, and was spared the sight of his own ignominious death. But we do not know what He said to comfort these mourners. None can sympathize with the sorrowful as the Son of God can. He came "to comfort all that mourn." His sympathy is not only tender; it is powerful. He is not only touched with the feeling of our infirmities, he can support us when tempted. He can pour consolation into the heart. No wound was ever really healed, except by His touch. He declares, "I wound and I heal." Though the death of John the Baptist was his appointment, yet He alone could comfort the bereaved disciples. Israel in her distress applied to a foreign king. But did she obtain relief? God said, "Yet could he not heal you, or cure you of your wounds." (Hos_5:13.) But the saints can say, "He heals the broken in heart, and binds up their wounds." (Psa_147:3.)
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« Reply #56 on: May 03, 2008, 04:02:06 AM »

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Devotional Commentary On The Gospels
by Favell Lee Mortimer ( 1802 - 1878 )
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May 1

Christ feeds five thousand with five loaves and two fish
Mark 6:30-44

Behold another instance of the compassion of our Lord. See how ready he was to sacrifice his own ease and comfort that he might promote ours.

It appears that he longed to rest awhile with his disciples, and to hear them relate the things that had befallen them during their travels; and that for this purpose he crossed the lake, intending to land at some desert place; but the multitude, who saw him embark, ran round the lake, and were waiting to receive him at the place where he landed. Was he provoked by this interruption? No! he was moved with compassion for the destitute state of their souls. He regarded them as sheep without a shepherd, because their public teachers were ignorant of God. There is no outward deprivation which he pities so much as the want of a faithful ministry, and there is none which we should lament so much. A famine of the word of the Lord, is far worse than a famine of bread.

When evening came, the apostles wished to send the people away; but the people were willing to remain without food rather than to leave Jesus. They were rewarded for their anxiety to be with him by obtaining nourishment both for their bodies and souls.

Before Jesus broke the bread, he looked up to heaven. He knew whence every good gift came. Have we not often eaten our food without thinking of the Giver, and without considering his kindness in supplying our daily need?

Christ did not distribute the food himself, but employed the apostles in that service. This bread was an emblem of his own flesh, which he gave for the life of the world. The apostles were appointed to proclaim the crucified Savior to perishing sinners. It was necessary that they should believe that He could save by his death the souls of all believers. They now saw with their own eyes that He could make a little bread sustain a vast multitude. They would remember this in future days, when preaching his name to assembled thousands. This simple truth, that Jesus gave his flesh for the life of the world, has fed innumerable souls, and will feed innumerable more until the multitude without number are gathered around the throne; and then the Lamb himself will feed them through eternity with food which we know not of.

After the simple meal was ended, Jesus bade the apostles gather up the remains. By doing this, it was made evident that the hunger of the multitude had been fully satisfied, and the greatness of the miracle was thus proved. But Jesus gave another reason for the command; he said, "Gather up the fragments that remain, that nothing be lost." (John 6:12.) By this command He showed us how precious he esteemed even the least of the works of God, that we might not dare to waste the food that our heavenly Father has provided.

But if earthly bread is too precious to be wantonly trampled under foot, how inestimably precious must heavenly bread be! Every word that comes out of the mouth of God is bread for the soul. Yet how much is permitted to fall to the ground! How carelessly we sometimes read the Scriptures! How many heart-stirring sermons have we heard, and then immediately forgotten! It is not that our memories are too weak to retain them, (for we can recollect the news of the town, or the village,) but it is that our hearts are too indifferent. It would be a blessed custom, after reading or hearing, to gather up the fragments; that is, to recall to our minds what we have heard, and to apply them to our consciences, "that nothing be lost."

It appears that the twelve baskets contained more bread than there was at first, and that the store had been increased by distribution. In the same way, by feeding the hungry we shall often enrich ourselves; for God will bless our earthly substance, as He did in the case of the widow who fed Elijah. But how much more will he bless those who feed souls with the word of God! Those teachers who in a humble spirit search the Scriptures, that they may scatter the crumbs among poor little ignorant children, find rich nourishment for their own souls.
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« Reply #57 on: May 03, 2008, 04:04:06 AM »

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Devotional Commentary On The Gospels
by Favell Lee Mortimer ( 1802 - 1878 )
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May 2

He walks upon the sea
Matthew 14:22-36

This history contains a beautiful instance of the care of our Savior over his people. On another occasion the disciples were alarmed, because Jesus was asleep when a storm arose. How much more alarm they probably felt now that he was absent! Yet it ought to have comforted them to remember that he himself had constrained them to enter into the ship. They were evidently in the path of duty. How then should any evil befall them! It is a great comfort to us when we can feel sure that we are doing the will of God; for whatever trouble may threaten us, we can trust Jesus to bring relief in the storm. On the contrary, when we are acting wilfully, we have reason to be alarmed at every difficulty that occurs, and to be apprehensive that God will punish us for our waywardness.

Yet the faith of the disciples was so weak, that, though they knew they were in the path of duty, they were alarmed by the storm; and when they beheld Jesus walking on the sea, they were still more terrified, thinking that he was a spirit. They knew not that while he was praying on the mountain, he had seen them, "toiling in rowing," and was come in the most wonderful manner to their rescue.

Peter, who possessed a warm, eager disposition, said, "Lord, if it be you, bid me come to you on the water."

Why did Peter make this request? Love suggested it! Did he not affectionately desire to be with his Lord? Faith enabled him to comply with the command, "Come." Yet this love, and this faith, were mixed with self-ignorance and self-confidence. He knew not the weakness of his own heart; he fondly imagined that he loved the Lord more than his brethren loved him, and that his faith was stronger than theirs. Upon the waves he learned a humiliating lesson. His mind was not resting solely upon Christ; he partly gloried in himself, and soon the tumult of the winds and waves shook his faith, and he began to sink. But his faith, weak as it was, did not fail, for he called on the Lord to save him.

If Peter had taken a lesson from this event, he might have been spared the sharp sorrow, as well as dreadful sin, of denying his Lord. Had he learned upon the waves, to distrust his own heart, he had not in the hall experienced its deceitfulness. If we reflect upon the events of Providence, we shall find that God often causes those events to occur in miniature, which happen afterwards upon a larger scale. An act of willfulness in youth is permitted to produce evil results; but the same willfulness at a later period is again displayed, and is followed by worse consequences. The deceit that David practiced at the court of Achish entangled him in many difficulties; but the Lord extricated him from them all. He was guilty of a deeper and fouler deceit in the matter of Uriah, and was entangled in a net from which he was never extricated in this life. It is very profitable to review our past conduct, that we may learn the lessons the Lord would teach us, and avoid the evils we have already experienced.

Are we, like Peter, disposed presumptuously to venture into scenes of temptation, and to desire trials of our faith? Does not past experience show us how weak and foolish we are? It is those who dread temptation, who are supported when exposed to it. It is those who feel their unfitness to occupy important stations, who are strengthened when exalted to them. Let us not rashly ask Jesus to bid us come unto him on the water; but ask him rather to come unto us in the ship. Yet the Lord does not forsake his servants, even when their own temerity and lack of faith have brought them into difficulty. No! even then he hears them when they call. He who stretched out his hand to sinking Peter, will extend his mercy to each of us in every trouble. The cry, "Save me or I perish," touches the Savior's heart, even as the infant's cry awakens the mother's tenderness. Never then let us be discouraged from looking to Christ for help. No past folly of ours can harden his heart against us, when by faith we come to him in our distress.
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« Reply #58 on: May 03, 2008, 04:05:41 AM »

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Devotional Commentary On The Gospels
by Favell Lee Mortimer ( 1802 - 1878 )
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May 3

The multitude seek Jesus from interested motives
John 6:22-29

It must be remembered that when Jesus walked on the sea to his disciples, he left a great multitude on the other side of the lake. These people had been fed by him in the evening; but afterwards many of them had remained near the mountain, to which he had retired to pray. They had seen with pleasure the disciples embark without their Master, in the only ship then upon the sea; and had felt certain of finding him near them in the morning. But what was their consternation, when morning came, at not being able to find him! They were at a loss to imagine how he could have departed.

While they were in this state of perplexity, some boats arrived. In these they joyfully embarked, and crossing the lake, soon reached the city of Capernaum. They sought there for Jesus, and found him teaching in the synagogue, (v. 59.) They expressed their surprise at the meeting, saying, "Rabbi, when did you come here?" Jesus, however, did not satisfy their curiosity, by answering their inquiry, but proceeded to unveil their hearts, and to expose the selfish, earthly motives that led them to seek him so earnestly. Could we have supposed that a meal of bread and fish was more valued by them than the precious words of the Savior! Yet this was the case. Though Jesus was the Son of God, and had the most valuable gifts to bestow, the earthly refreshment he had afforded was more prized by the groveling multitude than heaven and all its blessings.

The Savior reproved their earthly-mindedness by saying, "Labor not for the meat which perishes, but for that which endures unto everlasting life." Did he mean to forbid honest labor for our living? By no means. It is commanded that if any will not work, neither should he eat. The expression signifies, "Labor not so much for the meat which perishes, as for that which endures unto everlasting life. Labor not at all for it in COMPARISON with the earnestness with which you labor for heavenly blessings." Do we obey this direction? Are we indeed much more eager and anxious about eternal things than about earthly pleasures, or comforts? What we are most anxious about will be uppermost in our thoughts. What is uppermost in our thoughts? Perhaps we are not as poor as these people were, and are not therefore as anxious as they were about one meal. But if it be wrong to be so much engrossed about necessary food, surely it is much more wrong to be engrossed by unnecessary earthly things - such as pleasures, even harmless pleasures - the favor of men - the increase of our property - or the success of our studies! There is one thing needful - the meat which endures unto everlasting life.

Yet we, helpless, sinful creatures, never could obtain this by our most earnest strivings, were it not entrusted to the Son of God to bestow upon us. God the Father has given eternal life to the Son for us, and sealed the Son. A king places his own seal upon his written commands, that men may know they are his; so God the Father sealed his Son, by enabling him to do miracles, and thus showed men that He had sent him. Our duty is to believe upon this Son, who can give us eternal life.

The people asked, in a self-righteous spirit, "What shall we do that we might work the works of God?" They seemed to think that they could do something to entitle themselves to eternal life. This was impossible. Guilty, polluted creatures can do nothing really good. But there is a Savior to whom they may apply for pardon and grace. Jesus directed them to Himself when he said, "This is the work of God, that you believe on him whom he has sent." He calls believing a work. Yet it is not a work of merit; for it is the beggar coming to the king for alms; it is the criminal suing to the judge for mercy. This is the first work that each of us must perform. There is one who is able to save and to destroy - He is the Son of God. All power is committed unto him. Do we earnestly apply to him for salvation? How foolish only to ask Him for fading flowers, when he could bestow a crown of life! How foolish only to fear the pricking of the thorns and thistles, when the sword of eternal wrath is in his hand! Let us not insult this Savior by seeking his lesser gifts, while we neglect to implore that gift which he bought for us with his blood!
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« Reply #59 on: May 03, 2008, 04:07:12 AM »

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Devotional Commentary On The Gospels
by Favell Lee Mortimer ( 1802 - 1878 )
______________________________

May 4

They ask him to give them bread

John 6:30-34

Our Lord frequently took occasion from circumstances to explain spiritual truths. Once, when sitting by a well, he instructed a woman who came to draw water, and exhorted her to seek for living water. Now Jesus was speaking to people who had shown a great anxiety for bread, and he took the opportunity to direct their attention to the bread that came down from heaven.

There was much unbelief and ignorance displayed by the Jews in this conversation. They pretended that they had not received sufficient proof of his authority, and said, "What sign show you then, that we may see and believe you?" He had already given them a most wonderful sign in the miracle of the loaves, yet they required more evidence; but this was not granted to them. They even ventured to dictate to the Savior what he ought to do, and referred in an insolent way to the miracle of the manna, as if they wished Him to understand that Moses, in giving bread from heaven, had wrought a greater miracle than himself. Jesus took no notice of the bad spirit they displayed, but showed them they were mistaken when they said that Moses had given them bread from heaven. The manna had not come from the heaven of heavens, where God's glory is manifested, but from the lower regions of the skies; besides, Moses did not give that bread; he did not create it - nor was it living bread; it would not give life to the dead, or even preserve the life of the living. But there was a bread that could both give life to the dead, and preserve life for evermore - this bread was the Son of God.

The people understood not what Jesus meant, when he spoke of the "Bread of God;" but ignorantly cried, "Lord, evermore give us this bread." How many have made prayers as ignorant as this, and have received answers that they little expected! The woman of Samaria knew not what she asked when she said, "Give me of this water, that I thirst not, neither come here to draw." But her petition, so blindly offered, was graciously granted, for she soon received the water of the Holy Spirit into her heart. We may also believe that those who ignorantly asked for heavenly bread, were satisfied beyond their expectations. If God did not deal thus graciously with sinners, who could be saved! For we are all found by Him in a state of ignorance and enmity - our first prayers resemble the cry of this people - "Lord, evermore give us this bread." Some of us perhaps can remember our feelings just before we turned to God. We felt the misery of our state, we longed to find something better than we had found; but we knew not what we needed. We had heard that there was help in God; we cried to him, but in such a manner that any Being less gracious than Himself would have disregarded us. But his ways are not as our ways, nor his thoughts as our thoughts. He pitied us in our low estate, and led us by ways that we knew not, to a knowledge of his Son.
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