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« Reply #105 on: February 23, 2006, 06:37:27 AM »

February 20

The Wise Men and the Star - Page 1
by George H. Morrison


There came wise men from the east to Jerusalem, saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him— Mat_2:1-2

God Speaks Our Language

One of the first lessons of this passage is that God speaks to men in ways they can understand. These Chaldeans had been stargazers from childhood; the study of the nightly heavens was their passion. They had watched the stars with a patience and an accuracy such as are never suffered to go unrewarded. And now by the aid of the stars they loved so well and on which they had meditated with such unwearied devotion, they are brought to the feet of the Infant in the manger. The shepherds were not Chaldeans, they were Jews. They had been trained in the doctrines of the angels. I dare say they never went out to the pasture at night without hoping to see some shimmer of angel's wings. So it was by the long expected voice of angels that the shepherds received the tidings of the Christ. But the Chaldeans had not learned the lore of angels; it was the lore of stars they were familiar with; God spake to the separate companies in separate voices, but the voices were those that each could understand. That is always true. His voice is as the sound of many waters. He is a Father, and you never heard of a father who took his children on his knee and answered their questions in Latin or in Greek. We shall never understand the Bible truly, nor shall we ever value aright all that we learned in childhood, until we have grasped this simple yet profound truth, that God speaks to men in ways they can understand.

People Led to Christ in Unlikely Ways

Another lesson of this passage is the unlikely ways in which men may be led to Jesus. We know that the prophets pointed to Jesus; so did the law—Christ was the end of the law. So did the sacrifices on the Jewish altars, and the stern summons to repentance of the Baptist. All these things were intended and adapted to guide men into the presence of Messiah, and multitudes journeyed to His presence so. But a star—do you think that was a likely leader? Is that the duty and the function of a star? Yet by a star, as surely as by the angels, were men conducted to Bethlehem. Let us be taught, then, that by unlooked-for ways men may be led to light and love and liberty. Let us never limit the power of the Almighty in opening up avenues to Jesus' feet. There are men who have heard a thousand sermons, and been deaf to the whole range of evangelical appeal, who have yet been won for Christ by a stray word in passing, or by some act of self-sacrificing kindness. There are women whom all the praise of the sanctuary has not moved, but who have been turned to God by the ceasing of childish laughter. The star is a type of the strange and unlooked-for ways in which men are led to the feet of Jesus Christ.

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« Reply #106 on: February 23, 2006, 06:39:02 AM »

The Wise Men and the Star - Page 2
by George H. Morrison


The Intense Curiosity of the Wise Men

A third lesson of this passage is the intense curiosity of these men about the King. Nothing would satisfy them but that they must leave home and kindred, and set out on a long and toilsome journey, and brave a hundred dangers on the road, all for the sake of worshipping Christ. Had it been a king of the whole East who had been promised them, I could have better understood their curiosity. For there is a strong desire in the heart of a loyal subject to get a glimpse of his own future sovereign. But it was not a king of Chaldea they were seeking—"Where is He that is called King of the Jews?" And when I think of that passionate inquiry for the unknown monarch of an alien race, and how they traveled hundreds of miles to see Him—and how they troubled Jerusalem about Him, and would not be baffled nor beaten in the search, I am amazed at the mysterious interest excited by the new-born Savior. The strange thing is that from that hour to this, that curiosity has never died away. In the whole of history Jesus is the supremely fascinating figure. More thoughts are directed to Jesus in one day than to Caesar or Napoleon in ten years. More books are written about Jesus now than about any hundred of earth's greatest men. There is an inexplicable mystery and charm about that simple Galilean figure; and the world is still as curious about Him as were the wise men when they saw His star.

Anxious Inquiries by Those Far Away

Again, the most anxious inquirers about Jesus were men who were very far away from Him. I wish you to compare these pilgrims from the East with the men gathered in the inn at Bethlehem. The Chaldeans were many a long mile away, and the company in the inn were at the manger. Yet it was not the latter band, it was the former, who were eager about the newborn Savior.

There were ninety-and-nine that safely lay
In the shelter of the fold,
But some were out on the hills away,
Far off from the gates of gold.
Away on the mountains wild and bare,
Away from the tender shepherd's care—

yet who were the nearest to Jesus Christ that night—was it not those who were so far away? That is a parable of what often happens. At home, in the bosom of a Christian country, we are always in danger of careless unconcern. We are exposed to that worst indifference that springs from the dying of the sense of wonder. Meantime, from distant countries like Chaldea, come tidings of the kingdom being taken by violence. Once again the most anxious seekers are men whom we should say were far away.

The Apparent Insignificance of What They Found

Lastly, let us not fail to observe the apparent insignificance of what they found. When the Queen of Sheba set out from Arabia, and entered with her fine retinue into Jerusalem, she saw such lavish glory there that her heart sank under the wonder of it. But when the wise men from the East came to the inn, expecting perhaps some sight of royal majesty, they found in happy innocence—a Child. I wonder if they felt a touch of disappointment? Was it worthwhile to make that tedious journey, and this—this little Babe—the end of it? We know now that it was well worthwhile; that Infant of days was the eternal Lord. So there come times to everyone of us when we are tempted to ask, "Is all our effort worthwhile?" We pray and serve and struggle through the darkness, and the end of it all seems (as it were) a manger. But for us, too, the eternal dawn is coming when the King in His beauty shall meet us with a welcome; and I think we shall find then, like the wise men from the East, that the journey to Bethlehem was well worthwhile.

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George H. Morrison Devotions

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« Reply #107 on: February 23, 2006, 06:50:20 AM »

February 21

They Found What They Diligently Sought - Page 1
by George H. Morrison


When they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother— Mat_2:11

At Last They Reached Their Goal

I notice first of all that these wise men from the East came to the house at last. They had had a long and toilsome and perhaps a perilous journey; they had crossed the desert and they had forded rivers; yet in spite of all hardship and difficulty and obstruction, here they were at their desired haven. There had been days when their journey seemed a failure, when they were tempted to renounce it altogether; they had knocked at door after door in Jerusalem seeking news, yet for a long time they had knocked in vain. They had thought to have found Jerusalem rejoicing—illuminated, maybe, because its King was born; and men were at business and little children were playing, as if nothing remarkable had happened. They had said to each other as they battled across the desert, "Our difficulties will be over when we reach Judaea. The roads will be thronged with pilgrims travelling kingwards, and we will join ourselves to one of these singing companies." But the roads were empty, and listen as they might, the wise men could not catch one burst of song. There were a thousand things to dishearten or discourage them. It was almost impossible that they should be successful. Their Chaldean neighbors had told them it was folly when they set out a week or two before. But with magnificent enthusiasm they persevered—nothing could baffle them or daunt them or dismay them—and all that story of heroism is in these opening words, "when they were come into the house."

A Great Effort May Be behind a Few Common Words

What a stirring and great history may lie under half a dozen commonplace words! A few quiet sentences, when the time of utterance comes, may cover the effort and the pain of years. It is not always in impassioned declamation that the deepest concerns of the human heart are spoken. There may be hardly the lifting of the voice, yet the words may tell of the tragedy of years. A young man may quietly say, "I cannot do that," and to the unobservant ear that may mean little; yet struggle and failure and repentance and prayer and promise may all be hidden in that quiet refusal. There is more heroism in a smiling face sometimes than in half of the deeds that are chronicled in battle. There may be more self-mastery in the doing of quiet duty than in the scourging of a whole calendar of saints. A world of effort and of hope deferred and of resolute uplifting of a man's brow again—all this may be hidden in such a simple sentence as "when they were come into the house."

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« Reply #108 on: February 23, 2006, 06:52:00 AM »

They Found What They Diligently Sought - Page 2
by George H. Morrison


The Secret of Their Perseverance: They Followed a Star

The secret of the perseverance of these wise men is not hard to find. It sprang from this, that they were following a star. Had they been guided by anything less than that, they would have sunk down wearied long ago. Do you think, now, if they had read about this King in some of their Chaldean or Babylonian libraries—do you think that that literary discovery would have buoyed them up and carried them at last into the manger? It needed more than earth to carry them through; it needed the bright and beckoning radiance of the sky. They were strong because their guidance was a star. They looked to the lamp of heaven and not to earth's taper. And if they battled bravely, and journeyed with zeal unquenchable, and if nothing could turn them from their unheard-of quest, it was because they followed, not a light of earth, but a light that was hung aloft by God.

God behind Great Human Enthusiasms

You may make up your mind that all the great enthusiasms have had at the heart of them something religious. When a man can follow a great purpose steadily, through ridicule and insult and obstruction, there is more than strength of will in it—there is God. He who sees no star never can be stable. He wanders vainly in a trackless wilderness. Conflicting voices reach him; he is perplexed; he cannot tell whither he is moving. But when above all mists our eyes have seen the light, when we can say, "Come night or agony, God reigneth," when we believe that no effort is in vain, and that there is not a pang but has a meaning in it, then life is filled with such a quiet purpose that like the wise men we come to the house at last.

The Variety of Motives That Brought People to Bethlehem

We should never forget the variety of motives that brought men under that roof at Bethlehem. The house was an inn or caravanserai, and we know that at that season it was very full; the wise men from the East had varied company when they came into the house that nightfall. Merchants were there, and all manner of wayfarers, and men who had gathered in Bethlehem for the taxing. And they began to eat and they chatted by the fire and they rehearsed their adventures by the way; but not a man of them dreamed that in that very building the Christ of God was born into the world. They came into the house and saw the Child, and they said, This is no place for a tender child like that. They came into the house and saw the Child, and they said, God have mercy on that poor mother there! But the wise men came, and when they saw they worshipped, and presented gold and frankincense and myrrh.

Most of us Cannot See the unusual in the Common

How blind most of us are! How little we know what is going on! We rise and journey and eat and go to rest and we know not what is being transacted at our door. Tragedies happen, lives are altered in an hour, heroical deeds are done or are attempted, and you and I, living within a stone's throw, may never hear one whisper of it all. The isolation of a great city is pitiable. Who lives in that house a few doors off? We do not know. But one day the blinds are drawn, someone is dead; and there have been tears and watching and breaking hearts within it; yet all the time we were happy with our children and could not have told you so much as our neighbor's name. Many a husband goes cheerily to business, in total ignorance of what his wife is suffering. Many a father would be amazed tonight if he knew the thoughts that were stirring in his daughter's heart. The greatest things are never obtrusive things. They are never clamorous or noisy or spectacular. How many are in the inn where Christ is born, yet they know nothing of the glory.

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« Reply #109 on: February 23, 2006, 06:53:38 AM »

They Found What They Diligently Sought - Page 3
by George H. Morrison


They Saw and Knew Him Whom They Were Seeking

Do you observe why the wise men saw the King when all the others that night at Bethlehem were blind to Him? The simple reason is that they were seeking Him, and just because they were seeking Him, they saw. Where is He that is born King of the Jews—they had troubled all Jerusalem with their questions. They were more than stargazers, they were anxious searchers not to be beaten off in their endeavor. And so where others saw nothing but a child, they saw, because they had searched for Him, a King. We read that Caesar came and saw and conquered; but these three wise men came and saw and worshipped; and to worship is sometimes better than to conquer, if they be not identical before the Throne. That is an exquisite title which John Bunyan gives to the church. You remember that he calls it the House Beautiful. When you are come into the House Beautiful which is the church the supreme question is, what do you see? It all depends on what you come to see. It all depends on what you have been seeking. If you seek to find fault you shall find it very easily, for neither preaching nor singing nor prayer is ever perfect. If you seek the fellowship of men and women you shall get it, for in the sanctuary men and women gather. But if you seek for more than that, if you seek light and guidance, if you seek power to live well, and power to die well, then poor though the worship may be, never a service shall pass, but you shall be blessed by seeing what you sought.

First They Saw the Young Child

In closing will you notice this, that the wise men saw the young Child and His mother. First the young Child—it was a child-and-mother picture, not mother-and-child, as the catalogues describe it. There are those who cannot see the Child, they are so taken up with gazing on the mother; but the wise men saw the Child, and then in that very glance they saw beautiful and peerless motherhood. They had found all they looked for and a little more, for they could never forget the look in Mary's face. It is always so when a man sees God for himself. We see the young Child and—something more. Motherhood, fatherhood, duty and trial and burden—all are lit with a new radiance from that hour. Then like the wise men we go home again, but like them, warned of God, we go another way; for the old ways and the old days are done and dead, when once we have seen God in Jesus Christ.

____________________

George H. Morrison Devotions

Dist. Worldwide in the Great Freeware Bible Study package called
e-Sword by Rick Meyer: http://www.e-sword.net/downloads.html
Full Featured - Outstanding - Completely FREE - No Strings Attached

(The goal of Rick Meyer is to distribute excellent Bible Study
Software to every country on earth in their own language FREE
of charge, and that goal gets closer by the day.)
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« Reply #110 on: February 23, 2006, 06:55:20 AM »

February 22

Consecration - Page 1
by George H. Morrison


Then cometh Jesus from Galilee to Jordan unto John, to be baptized of him— Mat_3:13

The Baptism of Jesus Was Surrender to Vocation

The baptism of our Lord was His self-consecration to His lifework. It was His dedication to His public ministry. When others were baptized in Jordan, it was a symbol of their need of cleansing. Awakened to the guilt of sin, they were promising amendment of their lives. But when our Savior was baptized, He had no sin to be repented of. His baptism was surrender to vocation. Hitherto He had been preparing for it. He had been, if one might put it so, at college. In the secret fidelities of home God had been training Him to be the faithful witness (Rev_1:5). Now He was entering on His public ministry, and for that He was set apart and consecrated by this open and voluntary action. In what, then, did that dedication issue? What were its spiritual and immediate consequences? It is not wasted time to meditate on these things.

Clearer Vision Followed Full Surrender

First, then, it issued in a clearer vision, for we read that the heavens were opened unto Him. That does not point to a material sky, but to a vision breaking on His soul. When Peter was praying on the housetop, he, too, saw the heavens opened. In that great moment there was revealed to him the spiritual equality of Jew and Gentile. So our Lord, when the heavens were opened to Him, won a larger and a clearer vision, and won it because in full surrender He had dedicated Himself to God. That always follows personal dedication. To see, we must surrender. It is when we give ourselves with our whole heart to anything that it breaks out into a wealth of meaning. It is when we give ourselves with our whole heart to God that, like our Lord, we see the heavens opened, and new vision dawns upon the soul.

Personal Dedication Brings New Endowment

Again, this personal dedication brought with it at once a new endowment, for we read that as He left the river, the Holy Spirit descended upon Him. When God bestows His Spirit on a child, He gives it up to the capacity of childhood. God does not pour into a little cup what it would take a flagon to contain. So then the Spirit of God filled the holy Child, it was not that He might be a perfect man: it was that He might be a perfect child. As a child He was a perfect child, and as a youth He was a perfect youth. All that was needed for those quiet years was given without measure. But now these sheltered years were over, with their lowly tasks, and happiness of home, and He was launching out into the deep. Before Him lay the highway of Messiahship, the proclamation of the Kingdom, the long conflict with the powers of darkness, the crucifixion on the tree. And for that He needed an equipment which He had never needed as a child, nor in the lowly duties of the home. That is what God gave Him at the Jordan, when the Holy Spirit descended on Him there—grace for His unparalleled vocation as the one Savior of mankind. The full surrender of the baptism was owned and honored by a full equipment—and so it is with every believer.

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« Reply #111 on: February 23, 2006, 06:56:56 AM »

Consecration - Page 2
by George H. Morrison


A Sense of Filial Intimacy

Again, the dedication of the baptism issued in a new sense of filial intimacy, for immediately there was a voice from heaven, saying, "This is my beloved Son." We know that even from His childhood Jesus had dwelt in the fatherhood of God. The presence of God as a loving heavenly Father had been His through all the silent years. But never, till the hour of baptism, had this deep sense been verified and owned by audible witness from the other side. There came a voice now, carrying in its utterance intense and irresistible conviction. There came the glorious and immediate certainty of One who never had been far away. And all this when He came up from Jordan, and when, for life and agony and death, He had yielded Himself up a living sacrifice. Not when He was a happy child at Nazareth, wandering and playing in the fields there; not when He was a lad of twelve, intensely and spiritually eager; but when He gave Himself, yielded up Himself, immersed Himself in the baptism of sinners, did He have the divine assurance of the voice of the Father.

The Dove Gave Him a Certainty of Sacrifice

Lastly, the dedication of the baptism issued in the certainty of sacrifice, for we read that when the heavens were opened, He saw the Spirit descending like a dove. Now the dove is a very gentle bird, and you and I have a very gentle Savior. As we read the story of His life, we are often reminded of the dove. But the first thing which the Holy Spirit did was to drive Him out into the wilderness, and that is scarcely significant of gentleness. Something more than gentleness is here, and every Jew could tell you what it was. For the dove was the one and only bird that was ever sacrificed upon a Jewish altar. And do you not think that when in that high hour the Holy Spirit descended like a dove, our blessed Savior would see the meaning of it? Just as the dove was laid upon the altar, so He was going to be laid upon the altar. Just as the dove was sacrificed for sin, so He was going to be sacrificed for sin. In that great moment of perfect dedication, when He identified Himself with sinful man, there was revealed the necessity of Calvary.

____________________

George H. Morrison Devotions

Dist. Worldwide in the Great Freeware Bible Study package called
e-Sword by Rick Meyer: http://www.e-sword.net/downloads.html
Full Featured - Outstanding - Completely FREE - No Strings Attached

(The goal of Rick Meyer is to distribute excellent Bible Study
Software to every country on earth in their own language FREE
of charge, and that goal gets closer by the day.)
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« Reply #112 on: February 23, 2006, 06:59:06 AM »

February 23

The Temptation of Jesus - Page 1
by George H. Morrison


Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil— Mat_4:1

Christ's Temptation: It Was Real

Whatever view we take of the temptation—whether it was an inward struggle or an actual scene—the one thing to remember is its intense reality. Prayerfully and reverently we must strive to realize that the temptations of Jesus were unutterably severe! It is not difficult to realize Christ's brotherhood in suffering. It is very difficult to do so in temptation. And one great reason of that is, that in our temptations, we are so conscious of sinful impulses within. But when we remember that our temptations sometimes touch not what is worst, but what is noblest in us; when we think that without the sorest and fiercest trial, the thought of sinlessness has little meaning, then we dimly perceive how intense temptation might be to a spotless and holy Savior. There is nothing more heavenly than a mother's love, yet sometimes a mother is tempted most severely just because she loves her children so. If men were always tempted at their weakest, we could hardly understand a tempted Jesus. If our temptations only lit where we were worst, Christ (who had no worst) could not have been tempted. But when we see (and time and again we see it) that the sorest onset may be on the saintliest side, then we know that the temptations of Jesus may have been unutterably sore, since Jesus was unutterably good.

Truth Was His Nature, Not His Pursuit

One of the shining features of the life of Jesus is His great and glorious fidelity. In the largest compass of the words He came to bear witness to the truth, He was supremely true to His brethren of mankind—He was as a brother born for adversity. He was supremely true to Himself and to the moving of His heart of love. He was supremely true to His heavenly Father, in whose unbroken fellowship He lived, and in whose will He found His motive and His peace! One never gets the impression from His life that He was passionately— struggling to be true.

Yet Victory Was an Achievement

There is a largeness and a liberty about Him that tell of a heart which has arrived. One feels that the battle has been fought, that the great determination has been made, before He opened the roll in the synagogue of Nazareth. Now that does not mean that this supreme fidelity was an innate equipment of the Savior. Like His sinlessness it was a vast achievement, wrought out in conflict with temptation. (Editor's note: The Lord Jesus was, however, unlike any other human in that He was born sinless. But His victory over temptation was not an empty one. His practical sinlessness was an achievement. In a similar manner, when we become children of God through our new birth we become positionally sinless in Christ, but practically we are still "sinners saved by grace." Temptation is real and therefore victory against temptation is a practical achievement. We do not acquire sinlessness by our practical victories against temptation but through the sinless Christ who became our substitute on the cross.) And of that conflict we have the vivid history, before His public ministry began, in the narrative of the temptation in the wilderness. There He was tempted, and very really tempted, to be untrue to His brethren of mankind. There He was tempted to be untrue to God and to all that was deepest in Himself. When we view the temptation in that light we catch a glimpse of the terrific struggle that preceded the perfect fidelity of Jesus.

The Time of Its Occurrence on the Threshold of His Glorious Career

With such thoughts we may approach the scene; and if we would hope to understand it, we must remember the time of its occurrence. The place of its occurrence matters less though to a heart filled with the loveliness of Galilee the grimness of the desert would be awful. But the time of the temptation matters much, for the tempter is a master in his choice of hours. Jesus, then, had been baptized in Jordan. He had been endowed with gifts from heaven for His ministry. All He had dimly seen upon the hills of Nazareth now rose before Him as His mission to mankind. In such tumultuous hours men crave for solitude. In such an hour the Spirit drove Jesus to the desert. It was, then, on the threshold of His ministry, and facing His lifework with its infinite issues, that the tempter came to Him. It is in the light of His service and His sacrifice that we shall reach the inward molding of the scene. These are the dark hours through which Jesus passed on the threshold of His glorious career.

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« Reply #113 on: February 23, 2006, 07:00:59 AM »

The Temptation of Jesus - Page 2
by George H. Morrison


The First Temptation Proved Him Faithful to Humanity

The first temptation seems a simple one. "If thou be the Son of God," says the tempter, "command that these stones may be made bread." Jesus had been fasting forty days; now He was in the dire pangs of hunger. What possible harm or danger could there be in satisfying the pangs of hunger so? Had not God rained down manna in the desert? Had not Elijah been miraculously fed by ravens? The real temptation lay in using for Himself the powers that had been given Him to use for man. He was baptized in Jordan that He might show His brotherhood. He did not stand above John on the bank; He went and stood beside John in the river. At His baptism He had gone down into the water—He had stood where sinful man was standing—He had identified Himself with sinful man, as at the end He did upon the Cross. And if here, in the agony of hunger, He had miraculously created bread He would have cut the tie that bound Him to His brethren. When He fed the thousands with the loaves and fishes He was using His divine prerogative for others. That was His God-appointed mission: He was sent to satisfy our need. But had He used these powers for Himself, in an experience common to humanity, He would have broken His brotherhood with man. How could the poor ever have said again that they had a real brother in the Lord? How could the famishing ever had been certain of the perfect understanding of the Savior? Had He miraculously turned these stones to bread, and left His brethren to sweat and toil for bread, no longer would He have been the Son of Man. And when a man is tempted to a selfish life, or to use for himself alone the graces and the means that have been given him in trust for others, then is the tempter whispering to him, as he spake to Jesus in the wilderness. And whenever a man denies himself, and sacrifices something for a brother, he is sharing in the victory of Christ.

The Second Temptation Proved Him Faithful to Himself

As in the first temptation He is true to others, in the second He is true to His own self. That is why He scornfully refused to fling Himself on the astonished populace. It was the common expectation of that populace that the Messiah would appear in sudden splendor. Suddenly He would flash upon their eyes in an epiphany dramatic and divine. But our Lord Jesus, intimate with heaven, knew that epiphanies were not like that, nor were these the signals of His coming. He knew that the Kingdom must grow as does a mustard-seed, nor does it ever come with observation.) He knew that when men say "Lo, here!" it is not the real Christ whom they are hailing. (So, resisting the very real temptation to manifest Himself in splendor to the populace, He was supremely true to His own self) He came by quiet ways, and as the light cometh when the day is breaking. He came as the leaven which does not burst the loaf, but works in secret till the whole be leavened. In the first temptation He fought His lonely way to a perfect fidelity to man. From the second He emerged in triumph perfectly faithful to Himself.

The Third Temptation Proved Him Faithful to His Father

And then the third temptation shows our Savior perfectly faithful to His Father. "All these kingdoms will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me." We are tempted along the line of our desires, and our Lord was tempted in all points like as we are. He had been dreaming, in the days at Nazareth, of a worldwide and universal reign. And now the devil comes and whispers to Him, "Renounce God and ally yourself with me, and I shall give you the longing of your heart." What a magnificent temptation, tribute to a magnificent Redeemer. What a fierce temptation, when we bear in mind that these kingdoms were the yearning of His being. But our Lord in an instant recognized the treachery, and recoiled from it in an infinite abhorrence, and emerged triumphant because true to God, He took the long, long road which is the road of heaven—the road that was wet with sorrows and with tears—the road that led, through loving human service, to the crown of thorns and to the pierced hands. My meat is to do the will of Him who sent Me. I come to do Thy will, O God. Supremely true to His brethren and Himself, here He is supremely true to God.

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« Reply #114 on: February 25, 2006, 08:47:07 AM »

February 24

Christ's Temptation—How and When? - Page 1
by George H. Morrison


Then was Jesus led up of the spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil— Mat_4:1

Jesus, as a Man, Was Tempted in Order to Show That No One Can Escape Temptation
If our blessed Savior had to be the very Son of Man, it was, of course, inevitable that He should be tempted, because that is the one experience nobody ever escapes; it is the touch of nature—one of the touches of nature—that makes us all akin. A man may escape great calamity, a man may escape overpowering illness, a man may escape the perils of being very poor and the perils of being very rich; but there is one thing that nobody escapes, from the king on his throne to the beggar on the highway, that is, the experience of being tempted. And therefore, if our Lord was to be the perfect Son of Man, it was quite inevitable He should be tempted. The man who is never tempted has either sunk to the level of the beast, or risen to the level of angels. Is there anybody who is never tempted, just because evil has already gotten complete control of him—anybody who can do things with unconcern that twenty years ago would have made him halt a moment? I don't think there is any prayer for such a man except just, "Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me." Of course, if we were all tempted on our worst side, our blessed Savior could never have been tempted, because His nature was that of heaven—while yours and mine has much of hell in it. But I think you will see how, in our common life, we are very often tempted not on the side of what is bad, but just on the side of what is good. Here is a mother, and how she loves her son; it is the finest thing about her. She used to be a careless girl, and now she is a self-sacrificing woman. How often mothers are just tempted not on the side of what is bad, but just in that beautiful love for their children. Or here is a man very, very fond of his wife and children—someone once said that whenever the devil tempts an Englishman he always does it in the guise of wife and children—here is a man very fond of his wife and children; it is the most beautiful thing about him; in business he has got rather a shady character, but he is almost perfect in his home. How often a man is tempted, perhaps, just to do things that conscience does not agree to because of his dear care for wife and children. You see, you and I are very often tempted not on the side of what is bad, but on the side of what is good; and if you follow out that thought a little, don't you come to see it was possible that our Lord was tempted, even though His nature was pure? I think sometimes we are very apt to misconceive the sinlessness of Christ, as if it was a garment given to Him by God, and He could not put it off even if He tried. It was not a garment, it was a victory. It was not an endowment, it was an achievement. Every hour the Lord was tempted, and every hour He put it from Him, until at last His sinlessness was final, and He cried, "It is finished." And if you regard that as the sinlessness of Jesus, wrought out every moment, every moment tempted, every moment obedient to God until the end, you begin to see He was tempted just as you and I are.

His Temptation Makes Us Consider Him Our Brother

The thought I wanted to follow out was this. I wanted to ask, Along what lines did the tempter come to Christ? Because if we discover that, then we begin to understand that He was tempted just as we are. You know it is very difficult to feel that Christ is really our Brother. There is so much in Him that is different—His power, His nature is so unlike yours and mine, that it is a kind of relief to discover a touch of brotherhood. That is why we love to hear that He was weary—perhaps some of you are weary now; that is why we love to hear that He was hungry—there are people that have known hunger; that is why we love to hear that He was tempted—it draws Him near us. And if we discover the tempter came to Him very much as he comes to you and me, you have got a brother born for adversity. There is nothing in life like that.

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« Reply #115 on: February 25, 2006, 08:50:35 AM »

Christ's Temptation—How and When? - Page 2
by George H. Morrison


Three Times When Temptation Strikes

I want you to note, first, how the tempter came to Him at the very beginning of His task, before He had wrought a single miracle, before He had said a single word. I suppose that in these forty days in the wilderness our Lord was meditating on the future. I don't think there was a single incident that ever came to Him that our Lord had not anticipated in these forty days. He was looking forward to all that was coming, and it was just then the devil tempted Him.

I think there are three times in every great task when one is peculiarly liable to be tempted. The first is the start, when things are looming up before him. The second is when he is halfway through, the arrow that flieth at midday, when he has lost the glow and glory of the morning. The third is at the end, when he is tempted to think it has all been just a failure: like Lord Kelvin: near the end of his career he said he could only describe his life as a failure. I think it would be easy to show that our Lord was tempted at these times—right in the middle when the first enthusiasm had died away, right at the end when He had to turn to Peter and say, "Get thee behind me, Satan," and here, just at the beginning. There is a curious correspondence in many details at the end of His life with the details of the start, and I sometimes think that out in the desert here there had been something of Gethsemane, "Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me." It was going to be an awful cup, awful, bitter as gall. And then, just in an instant, "Nevertheless not what I will, but what thou wilt."

Tempted at the Start of His Ministry

Just at the start our blessed Lord was tempted. There may be someone who is starting a new task, perhaps in the Church, perhaps in the city, called to it by your duty. Well, if you are a lightweight, one of these jaunty people, of course it won't trouble you. My experience is that these kind of jaunty people never get there. But if you are deep and serious, and take life earnestly, when the thing looms up before you, then you are tempted to despair. I remember an eminent man in this city, called to a great task, telling me how the first thing he did (he was not commonly afraid) was to bow his head down in his hands and say to a friend, "It can't be me." Whenever you have these temptations, is not it a great thing that you are sure the Lord knows it? He has been there. He understands; you can get His fellowship even in that. A young writer once wrote to Sir Walter Scott, and he said, "Sir, I don't know how it is, but just when I am beginning a new book my heart sinks, formless fears surge up." And Scott, that gallant heart, wrote back, "My dear fellow, I feel it just as much as you do." You have got to think how that young writer was encouraged by the sympathy of that great soul, and you and I have got the sympathy of Someone infinitely greater.

Or again, there may be somebody who is starting a far more difficult task, and that is the task of taking up your cross, the task of bearing a great sorrow. By and by it will get a little easier. Time is a great healer; time rubs the edges off the boldest granite on the Arran hills. Men picture time with a scythe; I picture time with a vial of balm that it just pours into your gaping wounds. But at the very outset, is it not difficult? A few weeks ago, a month ago, you lost somebody very dear; now you are called to a task that is going to last through life; that is, bearing your cross of sorrow. At the very beginning are you not tempted, tempted to wonder if God is love, tempted to wonder if God cares, tempted to be dull and heartless when other lives are dependent on your brightness? It is a great thing to think that in an hour of that kind you have the sympathy, the understanding of the Lord Jesus. His task was not to manage a business. His task was to bear a cross: "Behold, and see if there be any sorrow like unto my sorrow." And at the very start, to Him, just as to you, comes the devil, tempting you to doubt the Father, and to wonder if there is any love in heaven. "In every pang that rends the heart, the Man of Sorrows had a part."

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« Reply #116 on: February 25, 2006, 08:52:35 AM »

Christ's Temptation—How and When? - Page 3
by George H. Morrison


Tempted in the Hour of Reaction

Again, I think it must occur to you that our Lord was tempted in the hour of reaction. I suppose you all know what reaction is? It is the recoil after a time of stress and excitement. Our Lord was subtly tempted in the hour of reaction. Well now, consider. I suppose the hour of the baptism of Christ, which just preceded, was an hour of the most terrific strain. You have got to try and picture it. It lies there quietly upon the Gospel page, but when you get to its meaning what an hour of strain it was—the old now gone, the quiet and beauty of Nazareth, the love of His mother. "Woman, what have I to do with thee?" was just coming, and then all the future of blood and sorrow, and all that; the cleavage of it, the baptism, and then identified with sinful man, and then equipped by the Holy Ghost for all His ministry, and then heaven opening and a voice speaking to Him—try and think of the tremendous strain of it. Mark tells us that He was driven to the wilderness. I wonder no great painter has ever painted that. The Lord, bowed and driven by what was uncontrollable to get alone to think it all out, and then for forty clays so wrapped in it that He quite forgot to eat. And then, suddenly, spent in every power, and wearied to His fingertips, then the devil comes—is not he subtle? Then the devil comes, in the very hour of reaction. Not when the candle of God is shining on His head, not when all the lights are burning, not when He is strong and quivering with life, but in that awful hour of weakness and reaction. Brother, sister, is it not so still? The devil leaves us when we are happy, and comes back when the tide is at the ebb. I want you to remember in these hours when there is no music, when all the lights are burning dim, when you are so weary you can hardly face your task, when after some time of spiritual intensity you are tempted, that the Lord knows it. He was just so tempted; He has just come through it. He holds out His hand and calls you brother.

Tempted along the Line of His Desires

There is only one thing more I want to say, and it is this. I want you to notice how our Lord was tempted along the line of His desires, along the line of His ambitions (if I might venture to use that somewhat degraded word). You have that in every one of the temptations; you have it specially in the third. He would go out and preach about the Kingdom—no man worth anything preaches on what he has not given his intense thought to when you were busy at your business—and the Lord had been thinking of the Kingdom in these forty days when He was all alone, I suppose, saying to Himself, "My mother thought the Kingdom was for the Jews; and God, My Father, is showing Me that it is not. The Kingdom is going to include every kingdom in the world." And just then the devil comes to Him, and what does he do? Contradict Him? Never! The devil comes and says, "Sir, that is a most laudable ambition; accept my help; just let me give you a hand and all the kingdoms of the world will become yours." And our Lord said, "Get thee behind me, Satan." Do you see the tactics he uses? That is exactly what happens today. Take for instance, a preacher who is on fire to preach the Gospel; but what is the use of preaching when the church is empty? Of course, his deep desire, though he does not say it to you, is to have his church full. And just then the devil comes to him and—contradicts him? Never. Says, That is a poor kind of ambition? Nothing of the kind. The devil says, "Now I want you to let me help you. Don't preach on such and such things; be modern, just avoid the Cross; sometimes take a risky subject about the eternal triangle; advertise flaming, flashing titles, just have a touch of the music hall about your service, and it will all come right." And the Lord says, "Get thee behind me, Satan."

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« Reply #117 on: February 25, 2006, 08:54:40 AM »

Christ's Temptation—How and When? - Page 4
by George H. Morrison


Take a man whose great ambition is to advance in his field. Men who are content to be failures are not in God's line. Here is a man determined to advance, wanting to progress—and he is perfectly right, and the more of you who get ahead the better. And then Satan comes to him. Does he contradict him? Does he say to him, "Friend, you ought to have higher motives than that"? He says, "Won't you just allow me to help you a little?" The man is tempted to do something that he knows is wrong. The man is tempted to give bribes; to say, Of course everybody gives them, and I have my wife and children to look after. And the Lord was tempted just like that, and the Lord said, "Get thee behind me, Satan." The point is, are you a follower of His? It all comes to that. If you are not, you can do what you like. But what right have you to call yourself a disciple of Christ if in such hours you accept such help as that? None, no more than I would have as a preacher if I advertised flashy titles and had Scotch ditties sung here on my platform. Here is a man who is given to writing books, as so many people have an itch to do. Suppose he wants to be famous, and that is perfectly right. "Fame is the last infirmity of noble minds," says Milton. Mark you, of noble minds. Then the devil comes to him, never contradicts, says, "Friend, I want to help you to have your name on every lip," and tells him the sort of hook to write, so what if some of the Commandments are broken! But the point is that the Lord says, "Get thee behind me, Satan." The singular thing is this, that when the Lord took the long, slow, bloody way, there came into His heart a joy and peace that the world could never give, and has never taken away. And there is coming to Him a triumph ten thousand times greater than if He accepted the advice of Satan:

Jesus shall reign where'er the sun
Does his successive journeys run.

____________________

George H. Morrison Devotions

Dist. Worldwide in the Great Freeware Bible Study package called
e-Sword by Rick Meyer: http://www.e-sword.net/downloads.html
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Software to every country on earth in their own language FREE
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« Reply #118 on: February 25, 2006, 08:57:04 AM »

February 25

The Net Mender - Page 1
by George H. Morrison


He saw other two brethren, James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother.., mending their nets; and he called them— Mat_4:21

The God of all grace…make you perfect— 1Pe_5:10

Peter Called while Mending His Nets

We have all seen fishermen upon a summer morning mending their nets on the seashore. With a patience and a skill that we have envied, we have watched them busy at their task. These bronzed faces, and strong and vigorous frames, tell of many a year upon the deep. We can picture the men handling their boats magnificently when the wind is freshening into angry storm. And now in the quiet of the summer morning, when the waves are idly lapping on the beach, they are busied with the mending of their nets. It was thus that James and John were busied when they received the call that changed their lives. Their boat was rocking in the shallow water, and they were chatting, and working as they chatted. And then came Jesus, and claimed them for Himself, and called them into the service of discipleship, and they left everything and followed Him.

Christ Takes Over the Mending of Our Nets, When We Decide to Follow Him
Now you will wonder why, with that Highland scene, I have associated these words of Peter. Well, the reason is a very simple one, although perhaps not lying on the surface. The word that Peter uses here for make you perfect, is the same word as is used for mending of the nets. It is as if Peter had said, The God of grace, whatever else He may do, will mend your nets for you. And when you remember that Peter was a fisherman, and had spent many a day upon the sea of Galilee, it seems impossible that he should have used the word without some recollection of his craft. Our calling, whatever it may be, has a way of coloring the words we use. It influences language with its old associations, and gives it some of the music of the past. So Peter, in the throng and stir of Babylon, writing his letter of comfort to the churches, flashed back in thought again to the old days, when the water was lapping on his boat. The God of grace will make you perfect. The God of grace will mend your nets for you. Our nets are sorely broken in the boat, and the God of grace is the great net-mender. It is on that figure I want to dwell, and to try to discover some of its significance, for that it was often present to the first disciples there cannot be a shadow of a doubt.

How Are Nets Usually Broken?

Now first, how are nets usually broken? That is a question which is worth considering. Well, I was talking to an old fisherman this summer, and the gist of what he said was of this nature.

Sometimes, he told me, nets are broken by the ordinary wear and tear of fishing. They get worn out here, and they get worn out there, through the rough handling of the common day. There is no reason to suspect that they were bad nets. They may have been purchased from the finest maker. Nor have they met with any accident, such as may happen to the most skilful fisherman. But fishing is rough work at the best of it, and the handling of tackle never can be gentle; and so as the days pass—now here, now there—the fisherman comes to find his nets are broken. There are points where the net is very apt to break, but it is not always there the breakage happens. Sometimes in the least expected quarter, unexpectedly; a rent appears. And so, my brother, in these lives of ours is there often a breaking down through wear and tear, and sometimes the breaking is at the very point where you and I might never have expected it. There are men who have never been great sinners, as we put it. They have only had the wear and tear of life—the strain of business and the stress of home. And yet sometimes that very wear and tear has spoiled all that was finest and most beautiful, and the temper is irritable, and the heart is sullen, and the net, so delicately made, is broken.

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« Reply #119 on: February 25, 2006, 09:00:08 AM »

The Net Mender - Page 2
by George H. Morrison


By Obstacles and Objects in the Sea

Again he told me that nets are often broken through the encountering of some jagged obstacle. They are caught by some obstruction in the deeps, and, clearing themselves free of it, are torn. It may be a piece of wreckage in the sea, jagged, and with iron spikes upon it. It may be the sharp edge of some familiar reef, that has been swept clear of its seaweed by the storm. But whatever it is, the net goes dragging over it, and dragging over it is caught and rent, and tearing itself free in desperate effort, it gapes disfigured like some wounded thing. Are there no human lives like that? No nets mystical that are so broken? It may be a hidden and surprising sin that does it; it may be a sudden and overwhelming sorrow; it may be the ruin of a cherished friendship, or the wreckage or a love that meant the world, or some swift insight into another's baseness, where once we dreamed there was sincerity. In such an hour as that the net is rent. There is a tearing of the very heartstrings. And faith is shattered, and God is but a name, and life seems the most shallow of all sophistries. For always, when we lose our faith in man, there falls a shadow on our faith in God, so that the very stars seem masterless, and goodness but the mockery of a dream.

By the Abundance of Catch

And then he told me that nets are sometimes broken through the very wealth of the sea that they enclose. And he did not need to tell me that, for I had read it as a child in Holy Scripture. I remembered a scene on that same sea of Galilee when the disciples had toiled all night and had caught nothing. And then in the morning came the Master—it is always morning when the Master comes. And He bade them cast upon the other side, and casting so, their nets were filled with fishes—filled with such a great abundance of them that the nets, as we read, began to break. My brother, it seems a thing incredible that the gifts of a good God should break the nets. Does it not seem unlike divine compassion that the very wealth of heaven should lead to ruin? Yet are there lives on every hand of us—God grant that yours and mine be not among them—where nets are broken just because God is good. What I mean is, that life has been so easy that all that is best and noblest has decayed. Prosperity has had a hardening influence, and luxury has diminished every sympathy. Endowed with everything that makes life rich—surrounded with all imaginable comforts, how many there are who have never done a hand's turn to leave the world better than they found it!

The Loss of Broken Nets Is Fundamental

So far then on the breaking of the nets. Now will you think of the loss when they are broken? Well, to begin with, remember it is the loss of the most important possession of the fisherman. If his cottage is burned he can still ply his calling, and be out providing for his wife and children. If a blight falls upon his little garden, it is hard, but it is not unbearable. But if his nets are useless all is useless, and his very livelihood is swept away, and other boats shall hoist their sails tonight, but his shall rock idly in the harbor.
There are some losses that are insignificant, and only a foolish man will trouble over them. But there are other losses that are vital, and affect everything, and are determinative. So with a fisherman is a lost net, and so with every man is a lost life, which is not lived to the glory of its Maker, and has never known the joy of doing good. All other losses, matched with that, are comparatively insignificant. The loss of health may be a bitter thing, and the loss of a fortune may be very terrible. But the one loss that cuts down to the quick, and calls for mercy in the heart of heaven is not lost health nor lost prosperity: it is lost life and opportunity. It is a mighty thing to save the soul; but we want to save the life as well as save the soul. We want to have sin conquered, and habits brought to an end, and time redeemed, and something worthy done. And it is just when we are doubtful of all that, and wondering if there be any hope for us, that the Bible comes to us, a seaborn people, and says, The God of grace will mend your nets. He will do it by His pardoning mercy, that forgives everything for Jesus' sake. He will do it by His upholding power, that will never leave us nor forsake us. He will do it perfectly, and do it now, and do it for the weakest and the worst, for the God of all grace will make you perfect.

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