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Author Topic: George H. Morrison's Old And Beautiful Devotions  (Read 63284 times)
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« Reply #120 on: February 25, 2006, 09:01:50 AM »

The Net Mender - Page 3
by George H. Morrison


It Is Distressing for It Misses What Is at Hand

But not only is it a vital loss. It is a peculiarly distressing loss, for this reason. The loss of the rent net entails the missing of riches that are at hand on every side. If one of our whalers were to be wrecked off Orkney, it would lose a harvest that was far away. There are a thousand miles between the whaling ground and the wild cliffs and stormy seas of Orkney. But when a net was rent upon the sea of Galilee, it meant not the loss of a far-distant harvest, it meant the loss of what was just at hand. There were the shoals of fish in the blue waters. They were in the very depths where the boats lay. They were not far away in other seas; they were where Peter was, and John and James. And that was the pity of the useless net, that all that was precious was so near at hand, and yet, for all the power to take it, might have been a thousand miles away. My brother, the God of grace will mend your nets. He will give you the wealth that is lying at your hand. He will mend your nets, not for some distant fishing, but for the fishing where your bark is tonight. He will redeem for you your opportunities, and show you new meanings in your daily task, and give you the wealth that is on every hand although it may be you have never dreamed of it. Home will be different from what it has ever been; it will be so full of peace and happiness. Work will be different from what it has ever been, for it will all be done with new ideals. And on every hand, all unsuspected once, will be opportunities of doing good, and of helping someone who has need of help, although you never saw that need before. The God of grace will make you perfect. The God of grace will mend your nets for you. He will sweep into your poor barren life the riches that are there just for the taking. For the gladdest things are never far away, nor hidden in distant oceans, inaccessible, but they are here where you and I are living, and where eyes of love answer to our own.

The Work of Net Mending Requires Skill

And so we come to the work itself of net mending, and I ask in closing what kind of work is that? Well, in the first place, you will agree with me that it is a work that calls for very perfect skill. Have you never been amazed at the deft fingers of some rough old fisherman upon the Clyde? Those hands of his, so brawny and so powerful—they could hoist any sail and manage any sheet. But the beautiful thing is that these very hands, all rough and seamed and hardened with the weather, will work as delicately as a woman's hands in the fine work of mending nets. Were you and I to try it—what a failure! What a hopeless tangle we should make of things! We have our own bit of work that we can do, but the one thing we could never do is that. Yet he, with hands as deft as any woman's, and with an eye that sees right through the tangle, makes his gear ready for the deeps. I have often thought that God's hands were like those hands. They too are powerful, and can grasp tremendously, when the wind is high and when the waves are raging. But they, too, with a delicacy infinite, and with a tenderness surpassing that of women, can mend the broken net upon life's shore. The hand of Christ was mighty to command. When it was lifted up, the devils trembled. Yet that same hand, with what unerring skill did it ply its task upon the brokenhearted! It touched the weary, and they took heart again, and it was laid on the hopeless, and their hope was kindled, and it fell with a healing that was irresistible on lives that shrank from every other touch. That was the ministry of Christ on earth. That ever since has been His ministry. When wisdom has failed, and learning been inoperative, Christ has succeeded, and is succeeding still. For He knoweth our frame, and remembereth we are dust, and He is infinitely strong and gentle; and He alone, if we but trust Him, can mend the broken net and make it perfect.

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« Reply #121 on: February 25, 2006, 09:03:25 AM »

The Net Mender - Page 4
by George H. Morrison


It Also Requires Patience

But it is not only a work that calls for skill, it is a work that calls for patience also. There are tasks you can hurry through, and get them done, but you can never hurry the mending of the net. That is indeed a recognized distinction between a first-rate fisher and a bad one. The one, impatient, will patch his nets up anyhow, that he may have leisure for the public house. But the other makes it a leisurely affair, and settles down to it, and is deliberate—so deliberate sometimes that you and I are inclined to be irritated at his slowness. But the man is not working for our shallow praise. He is working with a higher thought than that. For he loves that net of his with a strange love that you and I could never understand. So with a leisureliness that is old-fashioned now, in this age of fast motion, he works at the mending through the summer morning, There is a patience that is born of cowardice, and there is a patience that is born of love. The one is the patience of a broken-spirited people who have been crushed for ages by some tyrant. But the other is the patience of our fishermen, and it is also the patience of our God, who through length of days, as Newman sings, elaborates a people to His praise. If you and I are ever to be perfect, it will take infinite patience to achieve it. We are so backward—so ready to forget—such foolish scholars in the school of heaven. Blessed be God, that love which gave a Savior will never weary in its appointed task, till that hath been made perfect which concerneth us.

It Involves Hope

And then, in closing, this work of net-mending, is it not a work that involves hope? There would be little use in mending any net if there were no hope of a harvest of the sea. Sometimes around the coasts of Scotland fish take what the fishermen call a flight. One year they are there in plenty, then unaccountably they disappear. And I know little towns upon our northern coasts where that has happened, and where hope was killed, and where the nets, so finely mended once, have hung upon the shore until they rotted. Always, when a net is mended, it means that there is hope for coming days. And always, when a life is mended, it means there is a harvest yet in store. And that is why, when a man yields up his will, and gives himself into the hand of God, hopes that were quenched begin to shine again, and the heart thrills with what is yet to be. We have sinned, and we have sinned exceedingly. We have done our very best to spoil our lives. We have wasted time, and squandered opportunity, and been unloving and utterly unworthy. Thanks be to God, in spite of all that, and of things that may be far darker than that, the broken net is going to be mended. He forgives us even to the uttermost. He is pledged to save us even to the uttermost. Deeper than our deepest need are the infinite depths of His compassion. It is in such a faith that we give Him our lives which are so rent and ragged, assured that His grace will be sufficient for us, and His strength made perfect in our weakness.

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George H. Morrison Devotions

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« Reply #122 on: March 05, 2006, 01:11:04 AM »

February 26

Our Daily Bread - Page 1
by George H. Morrison


Give us this day our daily bread— Mat_6:11

Every Harvest Is Prophecy

Once more in the kindly providence of God we have reached the season of the harvest. The reaper has been busy in the fields, and sower and reaper have rejoiced together. Many a day in the past summer season we wondered if the corn would ever ripen. There was such rain, so pitiless and ceaseless. There was such absence of sunshine and of warmth. Yet in spite of everything harvest has arrived, and the fields have been heavy with their happy burden, and in the teeth of clenched antagonisms the promises of God have been fulfilled. Every harvest is a prophecy. It is the shadow of an inward mystery. It cries to us, as with a golden trumpet, "With God all things are possible." And so in days when all the world is dreary, and excellence seems farther off than ever, the wise man will pluck up heart again, as not despairing of his harvest home. Well, now I want to take our text and set it in the light of harvest. I want to look upon our daily bread against the background of the harvest field. A thing seems very different, does it not, according to the light in which you view it? Suppose then that in this light we look for a little at these familiar words.

First then in that light let us think of what the answer to this prayer involves.

The Tiniest Petitions

Now when you read it unimaginatively, this seems an almost trifling petition. It almost looks like an intruder here, and men have often spoken of it so. On the one side of it there is the will of God, reaching out into the height of heaven. On the other side of it there are our sins, reaching down into unfathomed depths. And then, between these two infinities, spanning the distance from cherubim to Satan, there is "Give us this day our daily bread." Our sin runs back to an uncharted past, but in this petition there is no thought of yesterday. The will of God shall be for evermore, but in this petition there is no tomorrow. Give us this day our daily bread—supply us with a little food today—feed us tilt we go to rest tonight. As if a tiny cockleshell should be sailing between two mighty galleons, as if some hill that a child could climb should be set down between two mighty Alps, so seems this prayer for our daily bread between the will of the eternal God, and the cry for pardon for our sins whose roots go down into the depths of hell.

But now suppose you take this prayer and set it in the light of harvest. Give us this day our daily bread—can you tell me what is involved when it is answered? Why, if you but realized it, and caught the infinite range of its relationships, never again would it be insignificant. For all the ministry of spring is in it, and all the warmth and glory of the summer. And night and day, and heat and cold, and frost, and all the falling of the rain. And light that has come from distances unthinkable, and breezes that have blown from far away, and powers of nourishment that for a million years have been preparing in the mother earth. Give us this day our daily bread. Is it a little thing to get a piece of bread? Is it so little that it is out of place here where we are moving in the heights and depths? Not if you set it in the light of harvest, and think that not a crust can be bestowed unless the sun has shone, and the rain fallen, and the earth been quietly busy for millenniums.

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« Reply #123 on: March 05, 2006, 01:12:33 AM »

Our Daily Bread - Page 2
by George H. Morrison


I think then there is a lesson here about the greatness of the things we pray for. Our tiniest petitions might seem large, if we only knew what the answer would involve. There are things which you ask for which seem little things. They are peculiar and personal and private. They are not plainly vast like some petitions, as when we pray for the conversion of the world. Yet could you follow out that prayer of yours, that little private prayer, you might find it calling for the power of heaven as mightily as the conversion of the nations. "Thou art coming to a King, large petitions with thee bring." Only remember that a large petition is not always measured by the compass of it. It may be small and yet it may be large. It may be trifling and be tremendous, for all the days beyond recall may somehow be implicated in the answer. You are lonely, and you pray to God that He would send a friend into your life. And then some day to you there comes that friend, perhaps in the most casual of meetings. Yet who shall tell the countless prearrangements, before there was that footfall on the threshold which has made all the difference in the world to you? Give us this day our daily bread, and the sunshine and the storm are in the answer. Give us a friend, and perhaps there was no answer saving for omniscience and omnipotence. Now we know in part and see in part, but when we know even as we are known we shall discover all that was involved in the answer to our humblest prayers.

The Toil It Cost

In the second place, in the light of harvest think of the toil that lies behind the gift.

There are some gifts which we shall always value because of the love which has suggested them. There are others which mean much to us because of the thoughtfulness which they reveal. But now and then a gift is given us which touches us in a peculiar way, because we recognize the toil it cost. It may be given us by a child perhaps, or it may be given us by some poor woman. And it is not beautiful, nor is it costly, nor would it fetch a shilling in the market. And yet to us who know the story of it, and how the hands were busied in the making, it may be beautiful as any diadem. It was not purchased with an easy purse. The purses that I am thinking of are lean. It was not ordered from a foreign market. Love is not fond of trafficking in markets. In that small workshop where your boy is busy, in that small room where the poor sufferer lives, it was designed and fashioned and completed. Such gifts are often sorry to the eye. Such gifts are never sorry to the heart. Poor may they be and insignificant, yet never to us can they be insignificant. We know what they have cost, and knowing that we recognize an unsuspected value. We know the toil that is behind the gift.

I want you then to take that thought and to apply it to your daily bread. It is a gift, and yet behind that gift do you remember all the toil there is? I could understand a man despising manna, even though manna was the bread of angels. It came so easily, and was so lightly gotten, and was so lavishly and freely given. But daily bread is more divine than manna, for it like manna is the gift of heaven, and yet we get it not till arms are weary and sweat has broken on the human brow. I think of the ploughman with his steaming horses driving his furrow in the heavy field. I think of the sower going forth to sow. I think of the stir and movement of the harvest. I think of the clanking of the threshing mill, and of the dusty grinding of the corn, and of all those who in our bakeries are toiling in the night when we are sleeping. Give us this day our daily bread—then it is a gift, that daily bread. It comes to us from God, in His great bounty, and in His compassion for His hungry children. And yet it does not always come through an opened heaven, But more often than not, it comes through the sweat and labor of humanity, through men and women who are often weary after bearing the heat and burden of the day.

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« Reply #124 on: March 05, 2006, 01:14:28 AM »

Our Daily Bread - Page 3
by George H. Morrison


And is it not generally in such ways that our most precious gifts are given us? Every good and perfect gift is from above, yet is there something of heart-blood on them all. A noble painting is a precious gift. It is a thing of beauty and a joy forever. Look at it, how calm and beautiful it is. There is not a trace of struggle in its beauty. But had you lived in communion with the artist, and had you been with him when he was painting that, what strain and agony you would have seen! So is it with every noble poem; so with our civil and religious liberty. They are all gifts to us; they come from God; they are ours to cherish and enjoy. Yet every one of them is wet with tears, and charactered with human toil and pain, and oftentimes, like the Messiah's garment, dipped in the final ministry of blood. Into that fellowship of lofty gifts I want you, then, to put your daily bread. It is not little, nor is it insignificant when you remember all that lies behind it. And do you not wonder now to find it here between the will of God and our transgressions, though the one rises to the height of glory and the other tangles in the pit of hell.

By Lowly Hands

Lastly, in the light of harvest think of the hands through which the gift is given. Give us this day our daily bread we pray, and then through certain hands it is bestowed. Whose hands? Are they the hands of God? "No man hath seen God at any time." Are they, then, the hands of the illustrious, or of those whose names are famous in the world? All of you know as well as I do that it is not thus our bread is ministered; it reaches us by the hands of lowly men. Out of his cottage does the reaper come, and back to his cottage does he go at evening. And we halt a moment, and we watch him toiling under the autumn sunshine in the field. But what his name is, or where he had his birth, or what are his hopes and what his tragedies, of that we know absolutely nothing. So was it with the sower in the spring. So is it with the harvester in autumn. They have no chronicle, nor any luster, nor any greatness in the eyes of man. And what I want you to realize is this, that when God answers this universal prayer it is such hands as these that he employs. Once in Scotland we had a different case. We had a genius at the plough. And he saw visions there and he dreamed dreams until his field was as a lawn of paradise. But for that one, who has his crown of amaranth, are there not tens of thousands who are nameless, toiling, sorrowing, rejoicing, dying, and never raising a ripple on the sea? Give us this day our daily bread—it is by such hands that the prayer is answered. It is by these that the Almighty Father shows that He is hearkening to His children. It is His recognition of obscurity, and of lives that are uncheered by human voices, and of days that pass in silence and in shadow into the silence and shadow of the grave.

Now have you ever quietly thought of what we owe to ministries like that? One of the deepest debts we owe is to those who are sleeping in unregarded graves. It is not the rare flower which makes the meadow beautiful. It is the flower that blossoms by the thousand there. It is not the aurora which gives the sky its glory. It is the radiance of the common day. And so with life; perhaps we shall never know how it is beautified and raised and glorified by those who toil in undistinguished fashion. Such men may never write great poems, but it is they who make great poems possible. Such may never do heroic things, but they are the soil in which the seed is sown. Such men will not redeem the world. It takes the incarnate Son of God for that. But they—the peasants and the fishermen—will carry forth the music to humanity. Give us this day our daily bread. Are there not multitudes who are praying so? And you, you have no genius, no gifts? You are an obscure and ordinary person ? But if there is any meaning in our text, set in the light of sowing and of harvest, it is that the answer to that daily prayer will be vouchsafed through lowly folk like you.

____________________

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 #125 on: March 05, 2006, 01:33:19 AM »

February 27

The Two Worlds - Page 1
by George H. Morrison


Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts— Mat_6:11-12

Acceptance of the Material World

When our Lord bids us pray for daily bread He accepts the visible world of space and time. He reveals to us our right relationship to the material world with which we are surrounded. Only if a man accepts that world is it possible for him to live. He must receive and assimilate the nourishment it offers him if his bodily life is to continue. He does not create his own material nourishment. He finds it in the world around him, and, finding it, draws it within himself. Our true attitude to that outward world lies in receiving what it has to offer us. We need bread, and it comes to us with bread. We need water, and it brings us water. Not out of the stores of our own being, but out of the vast largesse of the world do we secure our bodily existence. All this is implied when we are taught to pray, "Give us this day our daily bread." Our Lord is not setting the bounty of His Father over against the world in which we live. He is teaching us what He profoundly felt, that the material things which make our being possible are the free gifts of a loving Father's hand.

Realization of the Spiritual World

But to our Lord there was another world, and that other world not far away. The moment He teaches us to ask forgiveness He has stepped from the one into the other. In the material world pardon is unknown, just because sin is non-existent there. The effects of sin darken and disorder it, but it is not the sin of any bird or beast. These, guided by instinct, ignorant of evil, untouched by the glory of responsibility, have never felt the shamefulness of sin. The moment our Savior speaks about forgiveness He has passed into another world. It is not the world which bears the golden corn, nor is its music the music of the river. And the wonderful thing is how our blessed Lord, in a single breath, if I might put it so, moves over from the one world to the other. When He bids us pray, Give us our daily bread, He is thinking of the sower and the reaper. When He bids us pray for pardon, He has moved into the realm of spirit. And quite evidently, from His swift transition, the latter was not a world of distant frontiers. It was closer than breathing, nearer than hands and feet.

Both Material and Spiritual Gifts Are Derived from Outside of Ourselves

Now it seems to me that this rich collocation has a profound significance for all of us. It means that to these two different worlds our attitude is meant to be identical. We crave for bread, and the one world gives us bread. We thirst for water, and it gives us water. If we are to maintain our bodily existence we must receive what we cannot create. And in the same way our deeper life, to which we give the name of spiritual, must be sustained by constant receptivity. We do not win bread out of our inward stores. We get it from the bounty of the world. It is scattered across a thousand fields, and from these fields we wrest it and assimilate it. And all the nurture of our deeper life, to which our Savior gives the name of bread, has got to be received in the same way. It is not within our power to create pardon, anymore than it is in our power to create corn. Both are gifts and miracles of mercy, to be humbly accepted from God's hand. Give us our daily bread; forgive us: God's gifts are diverse; man's attitude is one.

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« Reply #126 on: March 05, 2006, 01:34:58 AM »

The Two Worlds - Page 2
by George H. Morrison


Man's Craving Not Satisfied with Bread Only

One feels, too, that in this collocation there is a powerful encouragement to faith. It reminds us of our Savior's graciousness in comparing faith to a grain of mustard-seed. I crave for bread, and the one world comes to me crying, Child, I have got bread for you. I have got satisfaction for that hunger in the loving fore-ordering of God. And I cannot believe that in the world of sense God would make ample provision for our cravings, and mock them in the other world of spirit. You do not exhaust the hungering of man when you satisfy the hunger of his body. The craving for truth and love and light is as real as the craving for the loaf. And that God in His merciful provision should give the loaf and deny the spiritual bread, to the thoughtful mind is utterly incredible. To do that would be to mock us. It would force us back to the level of the beast. To give the lower and refuse the higher would be the deathknell of the hopes of man. And how unthinkable that would have been to Jesus is evident from the one simple fact that His hopes for man are boundless. To Him the bounty of the world of sense was a pledge of the bounty of the other world. If from the one realm we get the gift of bread, shall we not from the other get the gift of pardon? Every field ripening to the harvest, and every fountain with its bubbling waters, was to Him a sacrament of the world unseen where are the water and the bread of life.

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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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(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 #127 on: March 05, 2006, 01:36:55 AM »

February 28

The Wonder and Bloom of the World - Page 1
by George H. Morrison


Consider the lilies of the field— Mat_6:28

Jesus Keenly Alive to the Message of Nature

During the glorious days of June, when the world is so full of light and joy, it is an unspeakable satisfaction to remember that our Lord was keenly alive to the message of nature. It is part of the undying charm of the Gospel story that while it sounds all the deeps of the human spirit, it never forgets that we are living in a world where the grass is green and where the birds are singing. There are poets whose gift is that of interpreting nature. There are others whose genius works at its noblest in interpreting the strange story of mankind. But the sublimest masters are endowed with both these gifts—they interpret nature and they interpret man. Now Jesus Christ was far more than a poet; He was inspired as no poet ever was. Yet the twofold gift of interpreting nature and man, the gift that is the glory of our masterpieces, shines out most cloudlessly upon the Gospel page. It is there we read of the Samaritan woman. It is there we read of the denial of Peter. But the mustard-seed and the birds and the lilies are there too.

Love of Nature Was a Hebrew Tradition

Now no doubt this love of nature which was so strong in Jesus sprang partly from the circumstances of His birth. He was a Hebrew with a Hebrew lineage, after the flesh, and nature was eloquent with voices to the Hebrew. You can often tell what a people gives its heart to by the richness and copiousness of its vocabulary. Where a nation's interests have been long and deeply engaged, there it soon wins for itself a wealth of terms. Well, in the Hebrew language there are some ten words for rain, and to the understanding heart that is significant. Into that heritage, then, Jesus of Nazareth entered. He was the child of a race that had lived with open eyes. And if the glory of the world lights up the Gospel story—if there are sermons in stones, and books in running brooks, there, we owe it in some measure to God's ordering, when He cradles Emmanuel in a Hebrew home.

From Fear of Nature to Love of It

But between the Hebrew outlook on nature in the Old Testament, and the outlook of Jesus as we find it in the Gospels, there is one marked difference that we cannot note too closely. There is one contrast which no one can fail to remark, who reads the prophets and the Psalms and then turns to the Gospels. In the Psalms the world is magnificent and terrible. It is a mighty pageant of grand and mysterious forces. We see the sun there rejoicing like a strong man to run his race; we hear the rush of the storm as it shatters the cedars of Lebanon. The sea is angry, its waves mount up to heaven. There is the roll of thunder; there is the flash of lightning. You feel that clouds and darkness are never far away. It is a vast and glorious world—hardly a kindly one. Now turn to the Gospels, and do you note the change? Consider the lilies of the field, the fowls of the air. Behold the sower goes forth to sow in the spring morning. The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard-seed. It is not that vast and magnificent things are disregarded, and the beauty of the small things recognized. That is not what gives us the sense of contrast between the nature of the psalmist and of Jesus. It is rather that the world is a much kindlier place; there is less menace in its terrific powers. It is still as full of mystery as ever; but it is the mystery of love now, not of fear.

Now can we explain that deep and striking change? It is quite clear that nature will not explain it. Had Jesus lived under a sunnier sky or amid fairer pastures than the old Hebrew psalmists, we might think that the change was due to change of scene. But the same stars looked down on Jesus of Nazareth as touched into music the craving heart of David; and the same wild storms leapt out of the blue heaven as have given the fire and rush to Hebrew melody. And the hills and the streams and the gleaming of the sea far off, these were the same. It is clear, then, that there is no explanation there.

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« Reply #128 on: March 05, 2006, 01:38:38 AM »

The Wonder and Bloom of the World - Page 2
by George H. Morrison


Nature Was Not Kinder to Jesus

Nor is there any—I speak with loving reverence of One to whom I owe so much—nor is there any explanation in the change of persons. I mean that had the lot of Jesus been a kindly lot, I could have fathomed His kindly view of nature. Has not Tennyson sung very wisely and very well—

Gently comes the world to those
That are cast in gentle mould?

And had the life of Jesus been a life of ease and tenderness, I think I could explain His view of nature. But did He not come unto His own and they received Him not? Was He not despised and rejected of men? Were there no drops of sweat like blood in lone Gethsemane? Was there no cup to drink, no cross to bear and die on?' I do not think that bitter sorrows like these make a man ready to consider the lilies. In my own tragedies the world grows tragic. I understand the storm when I am storm-tossed. But to Jesus, misunderstood, cross-burdened, Man of Sorrows, nature was genial, kindly, homelike, to the end.

Man's Attitude toward Nature Changes as a Result of Inward Change—God Not a Mere Creator but a Father

Here is the explanation of that contrast. It is not change of scene, nor change of circumstance. It is the changed thought of God that is the secret. To prophet and psalmist, no less than to Jesus, the world was alive and quivering with God. But to prophet and psalmist God was Jehovah; to Jesus of Nazareth God was Father. Twelve times over in this sixth chapter of Matthew Christ speaks of the Creator as "your Father." I have read of the child of a distinguished English judge who was rebuked for prattling beside the judge's knee. And the child answered: "Why should I not? He may be your judge, but he's my father." So when the thought of the Creator, infinite in majesty, was deepened and softened and glorified in Fatherhood, the mystery of fear was swept out of the world, and the gentle mystery of love came in. It was a Father who had reared the mountains. There was a Father's hand upon the storm. At the back of the thunder, no less than in the lilies, there was a Father's heart, a Father's love. It was that glorious truth filling the heart of Jesus that made all nature what it was for Him. Perfect love had cast out fear.

In the city of Florence there is an old building now used as a museum. Six hundred years ago it was a palace, and on the altar wall of its chapel, sometime about 1390, Giotto painted a portrait of the poet Dante. This portrait, the only one painted during the poet's lifetime, is of inestimable value. But the building fell upon evil days; it was turned into a jail for common criminals; its walls were coated with whitewash. And for centuries under this covering the face of Dante was hidden, until its existence was well-nigh forgotten. But in 1840 three gentlemen, one of them an Englishman, set to work and discovered the lost likeness. And now the old prison wall is full of glory because the lineaments of the great poet shine out there. Ah, yes, if a common wall is quite transfigured when the likeness of Dante is discovered on it, no wonder that a common flower is glorified when it reveals—as it did to Christ—the Father. It is a great thing to be alive to beauty; but men were alive to beauty before Jesus lived. It is a great thing to feel the mystery of nature; but men had felt all that in paganism. What Jesus did was to take the truth of Fatherhood, and touch every bird and every lily with it, till beauty deepened into brotherhood, and we and the world were mystically kin. "When I consider the heavens," said the psalmist, "what is man, that thou art mindful of him?" But Jesus, just to reassure us of God's mindfulness, says, "Consider the lilies of the field."

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« Reply #129 on: March 05, 2006, 01:40:15 AM »

The Wonder and Bloom of the World - Page 3
by George H. Morrison


Jesus Used Nature in the Interest of Morals

Such, then, was the secret of nature for our Lord. And now I have a word to say upon one other point. I want you to observe how constantly and simply our Lord used nature in the interests of morals. Our outlook on nature is very largely emotional. We make it a mirror to reflect our moods. If we are happy, then all the world is happy. But if we are sad, then even "the banks and braes O' bonny doon 'mind me O' departed joys, departed—never to return." Now all that is very natural, I doubt not; and it is a witness to the grandeur of our human story that we make every stream and every sunset echo it. But in the life of Jesus there is little of that; it is the moral helpfulness of nature that He seizes. Burns wondered how the flowers could bloom when he was so weary. That is the emotional outlook on the world. Tennyson said: "Flower in the crannied wall, could I but understand thee, I should know what God and man is." That is the intellectual outlook on the world. But Jesus said: "Why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field," and that is neither emotional nor intellectual; it is moral. I do not mean that Jesus was blind to the other aspects; but I do mean that He centered His thought on that. For the soul and the life and the individual character—these things were so transcendently important to Christ Jesus, that everything else must be impressed into their service. In the glorious days of June we are apt to grow a little dull to what is highest. Just to be alive is such a sweet thing at such a time, that the hope and the resolve of sterner moods take to themselves wings and fly away. Do not forget the earnestness of Christ. Do not forget that out in the summer fields this was His aim—to fashion noble, trustful, reverent disciples. We must have room for the lilies of the field no less than for Gethsemane; we must remember the birds not less than the bread and wine, if the whole ministry of Christ is to be operative in winning us to some likeness of Himself.

To the Very End Nature Appealed to Jesus

It is notable, too, that as Jesus' life advanced, and as the shadows upon His path grew darker, we find no trace that Jesus outgrew nature, or passed beyond the power of its reaching. I think most of us have had hours when nature seemed to desert us. She became dumb and had no healing for us. It may have been the hour of a great sorrow, or a great crisis in our life's career. And I think that most of us have had moods and feelings which we thought that nature was powerless to interpret. She could not enter into our weary problems. So as our life goes on we drift away from nature, and nature silently drifts away from us. But what I want you to note is that though that happens with us, there is no trace that it ever happened with Jesus. Here on the hillside He is speaking of providence, and He says, "Consider the lilies of the field." Then follows the preaching of the kingdom throughout Galilee, and "the kingdom of heaven is like a mustard-seed." Then the shadow of Calvary falls, and the awful death that is coming—can nature interpret and illuminate that darkness? "Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone." And where did Christ agonize? Was it in the upper room? He went into a place where there was a garden. And in the exultant joy of resurrection morning, did He hasten away into the city? He waited till Mary supposed He was the gardener. Right on, then, through the wealth of all His teaching, right on through His suffering and death and rising, the voices of the natural world appealed to Jesus. Nature may seem to fail us before the end, but it never deserted Jesus Christ.

In Perfect Touch with His Father's World

And the reason is not very far to seek. "I come…to do thy will, O God" (Heb_10:7). It was the childlike heart, absolutely true, never swerving by a hairbreadth from the line of duty; it was His perfect obedience to a Father's will that kept Jesus in perfect touch with His Father's world. Do you remember how Wadsworth, speaking of the man who does his duty, says:

Flowers laugh before thee in their beds
And fragrance in thy footing treads?

He means that nature ceases to be musical when we are anywhere else than on the path of duty. Here, then, is the secret of a happy summer, in which all the world and you shall be in comradeship. It is to be patient, brave, unselfish, kind, and loyal. It is to accept the cross. It is to be true. To see the beautiful, you must be dutiful. It is a most strange world. "Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God"—even in the lilies of the field.

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« Reply #130 on: March 05, 2006, 01:42:44 AM »

March 1

A Sermon for Springtide - Page 1
by George H. Morrison


Consider the lilies of the field— Mat_6:28

The Ministry of Nature

At the sweet and hopeful season of Spring, when freshness and beauty surround us, I am sure there are few of us whose thoughts do not go forth to the wonder and the glory of the world. After the deadness of our northern February springtide comes tingling with the surprise of joy, and that is indeed one of our compensations for the stern and desolate winter of our land. Of all our poets who "build the lofty rhyme," there is none more thoroughly English than the poet Chaucer. As we read his musical and vivid verse, it is always the sound of a brother's voice we hear. And in nothing is he more truly English than in this, that he stirs at the call of the sweet voice of April, and casting his books aside, longs to become a child of his warm and beautiful and gladsome world. In some measure all of us feel that; nor is there aught unworthy in that restlessness. Rightly used, it may be a means of grace, drawing us nearer to the feet of Christ. And therefore I like at this season of the year to speak sometimes on the ministry of nature, and to discover what that meant for Jesus.

Christ at Home in the Country; Paul at Home in the City

Now in this matter there is one thing which strikes me, and that is the contrast between Christ and Paul. You never feel that Paul is at home in the country. You always feel that Paul is at home in the city. Country life did not appeal to Paul; it did not flash into spiritual suggestion as he viewed it. He heard the groans of a travailing creation, but he did not love it to its minutest feature. It was the city which appealed to Paul, with its great and crying problems of humanity, with its pageantry and its murmuring and its stir, with its crowds that would gather when one began to preach. The kingdom of heaven is not like a seed to Paul; the kingdom of heaven is like some noble building. When he would illustrate the things of grace, he does not turn to the vine or the lily. He turns to the soldier polishing his Armour; to the gladiator fighting before ten thousand eyes; to the freeborn citizen whose civic charter had been won in the senate of imperial Rome. I hardly need to indicate to you how different this is from Christ's procedure. Not in the city did Jesus find His parables, save when He saw the children in the marketplace. He found them in the clustering of the vine. He found them in the springing of the corn. He found them in the lake where boats were rocking, and in the glow of sunset and of sunrise. He found them in the birds that wheeled above Him—in the fig tree—in the fowl of the farmyard. He found them in the lily of the field, with which even Solomon could not compare.

Jesus of Nazareth and Paul of Tarsus

It is for that reason that when the springtime comes I always thank God that Christ was bred at Nazareth. We owe far more to that quiet home at Nazareth than some of us may be ready to acknowledge. Paul was a native of Tarsus—no mean city. It was a place like Glasgow, the seat of a wide commerce. Paul was a city boy, bred among city streets, familiar with crowds since he had eyes to see. And though the gardens of a Roman city were very beautiful in their arrangement, yet gardens and fountains are a sorry substitute for the lone glen and the silence of the hills. But in the providence of God, Christ was a country child. There was no "Please keep off the grass" at Nazareth. Trespassers were never prosecuted on the hills there, as they ought never to be in any country. And it was there that Jesus spent His boyhood—keen-eyed, quick-hearted, loving all God's creatures, moving, as if at home, where all was beautiful, and praying best because He loved it all. That is the note which you detect at once when you come to the public ministry of Jesus. Other teachers elaborate their parables; but with Christ they come welling up out of the heart. They were His heritage from the quiet days of Nazareth when He had watched and loved and understood. It was His manhood recalling in the strife the music that had charmed Him as a child.

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« Reply #131 on: March 05, 2006, 01:44:10 AM »

A Sermon for Springtide - Page 2
by George H. Morrison[/b

As a Jew Jesus Admired the Greatness of Nature

Again, if Christ is different from Paul in this matter, He is equally distinguished from His Jewish ancestry. The fact is that in His attitude towards nature you can never historically account for Jesus. I believe that sometimes we misrepresent the Jews here. We contrast them too dogmatically with the Greeks. We think of the Jews as so intensely spiritual that they were blind to the beauty of the world. But no one who has studied his Old Testament dare make a sharp distinction such as that, for the Old Testament that is afire with God is redolent from the first to last of nature. The truth is that Jew no less than Greek looked with intensest interest on nature. Both felt the abiding magic of its power; both bowed before its ever-changing mystery. But to the Greek the world was just the world, gladsome and fair, a thing to be desired; while to the Jew the world was always wonderful, because it was instinct and aflame with God. Into that heritage Jesus Christ was born.

Jesus Involved Man with Nature

And now let me say one thing more, which helps to illuminate the mind of Christ. It is how often, when He speaks of nature, He deliberately brings man upon the scene. There are painters who delight in picturing still life, and who never introduce the human figure. They have no interest in the play of character; their genius seeks no other scope than nature. But Jesus is no painter of still life. He loves to have living forms upon the scene. He does not regard man as an intrusion, but always as the completion of the picture. Think of the day when He stood by the Temple gate, and looked up at the vine that was sculptured there. That vine was an artist's study in still life, and it was very beautiful and perfect. But "I am the vine," said Christ, "ye are the branches," and the husbandman appears with his sharp pruning knife. The sculpture was insufficient for the Master, till it flashed into full significance in man. In the same way when He walked abroad, He saw more than the lights and shadows of the fields. "Behold the sower,"—somehow He could not rest till he had brought a living man into the picture. And so when He wandered by the sea of Galilee, and watched the waters, and listened to the waves, all that, however beautiful, could not content Him until the fishermen and their nets were in the picture. He could not listen to the chattering sparrows but He saw the human hands that bought and sold them. He could not look at the lilies of the field but He saw Solomon in all his glory. And it all means that while the love of nature was one of the deepest passions in Christ's heart, it was not a love that led to isolation, but found its crowning in the love of man. My brother, there is a way of loving nature that chills a little the feeling for mankind. There is a passion for beauty that may be a snare, for it weakens the ties that bind us to humanity. But when a man loves nature as Jesus Christ loved nature, it will deepen and purify the springs of brotherhood, and issue in service that is not less loyal because the music of hill and dale is in it.

____________________

George H. Morrison Devotions

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« Reply #132 on: March 05, 2006, 01:47:11 AM »

March 2

Putting First Things First - Page 1
by George H. Morrison


Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness— Mat_6:33

Necessity of Order

The more narrowly one looks on life, the more one sees the necessity of order. The quality of life largely depends on the right ordering of its interests. When our Lord said, Seek ye first the kingdom, He was not speaking with contempt of other interests. He who had been the Carpenter of Nazareth knew that man must toil for daily bread. He was enforcing that infinite love of order which Fenelon noted long ago as one of the characteristics of His life. The land of the shadow of death, says Job, is a land of darkness without any order (Job_10:22). In that ineffectual and dreary realm things are tossed and tumbled in confusion. But He who came to give us life abundant insists upon the ordering of our interests, and says to us, Seek ye first the Kingdom. Put first things first, and life is like a melody. Virtue is love's order, says St. Augustine. Put secondary things in the first place, and life goes down into the glen of weeping. It is that condition of victorious living which the Lord is emphasizing in our text.

Putting First Things First

This divine necessity for order might be illustrated from many spheres. One might think, for instance, of the student. When a student enters a class of the humanities there are two ambitions he may set before himself. He may be bent on grasping the spirit of a literature, or he may be bent on the securing of a prize. He may be eager to enrich his being through converse with the immortal dead, or he may covet his name upon the prize list. Now there is nothing mean in seeking to be a prizewinner. It is a perfectly laudable ambition. Even the great apostle of the Gentiles had an eye to the prize of his high calling. But whenever the thought of prizewinning comes first, when it becomes the dominating passion, then the student misses that enriching which is the peculiar gift of the humanities. It is not a case of intellectual failure. It is really a case of moral failure. Putting what should be second in the first place induces a certain blindness of the heart. A man is out of touch with a great literature, as he is out of touch with a great God, when self has the first in his program.

A Doctor Should Put His Patients, Not Fees, First

Again, we might illustrate this need of order in our various callings and professions. Take, for instance, the man who is a doctor. The difference between a good and a bad doctor is not that the good one never thinks of fees. If he never thought of fees he would be a fool, for the laborer is worthy of his hire. The difference lies in what the man puts first, in what is primary in his profession, in what is the dominant interest in his calling. Let a doctor put the thought of money first, let his first consideration be his fees, and, for all the brilliance of his gifts, he is unworthy of his high vocation. But let him put his patients in the first place; let his primary ambition be to heal, and then, though he be ignorant of brilliance, he is an honorable member of his calling. The strange thing is that when a doctor puts the fees first, his character invariably degenerates. Probably he is half-conscious of it, but other people are not unconscious of it. Something goes—some-thing is always lost—some touch of what is brotherly and beautiful, and lost through the disorder of his interests. He is not sinning as a drunkard sins. He is only putting first what should be second. He is perfectly entitled to his fees. He is not entitled to give his fees the primacy. And the narrowing that always follows upon that, and the sneer with which common people talk of it, is a tribute to that perfect wisdom which inspires the moral teaching of our Lord.

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« Reply #133 on: March 05, 2006, 01:48:44 AM »

Putting First Things First - Page 2
by George H. Morrison


People, Not Things, Should Be Our First Consideration

I think, too, the world has yet to learn this lesson in our industrial and commercial life. Take, for instance, the case of some great company. Now, the shareholders in that company have a perfect right to get interest on their shares. Many a lonely woman could not live but for the dividends she gets on her investments. But so long as the thought of interest comes first, to the exclusion of all else, we can never hope to have a Christian country. So long as people insist on a high interest and are careless of how the workmen live; so long as they regard these workmen as simply a means to bring them in their interest; so long, though every shareholder be a respected member of the Church, we can never expect to have a Christian land. Men were not just means to Jesus Christ. The poorest and the humblest was an end. The lowliest toiler was of an infinite value to which the wealth of companies is nothing. And until the common, careless, unconcerned shareholder learns to put first the man who makes the interest, the Kingdom of God is never going to come.

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« Reply #134 on: March 05, 2006, 01:50:54 AM »

March 3

The Restfulness of Christ - Page 1
by George H. Morrison


Then he arose, and rebuked the winds and the sea; and there was a great calm— Mat_8:26

People Who Provide an Atmosphere of Restfulness

There are some people we meet who impress us with a sense of restfulness. Such people, not infrequently, are men; more often, if I mistake not, they are women. They are not necessarily brilliant, nor have they any striking or unusual gifts: all we feel is that in their company there is a pleasant atmosphere of restfulness. We are all tempted to strain after effect sometimes, but in the presence of these people we do not think of that. There is no effort to keep up conversation. We are not ashamed even of being silent. Like a breath of evening after the garish day, when coolness and quiet have followed on the sunshine, such natures, often we know not how, enwrap us with a sweet sense of rest.

And you will find, as your survey of life broadens, that people who are weak never create that atmosphere. There may be many vices in the strong, but there is always something unrestful in the weakling. We talk of the restfulness of the calm summer evening, and unhappy is the man who never feels it. But we know now how at the back of that there is the stress of conflict and the strain of battle. And so in the people who are full of restfulness, could we but read the story of their lives, we should find the record of many a hard battle, and the tale of many a well-contested field. I do not mean that they have done great deeds. I do not mean that they have suffered terribly. The greatest victories are not spectacular, nor is there any crowd to cheer the combatant. I only mean that people who are restful are people who have looked facts in the face; who have toiled, when there was not much light to toil by, and carried their crosses in a smiling way. There is never any rest in weakness. To be weak is miserable, doing or suffering, says Milton. The condition of all restfulness is power of the open-eyed and quiet, heroic kind. And probably that is why people who are restful are at the same time delightfully subduing; for there is nothing that so subdues a man as power, save the apotheosis of power, which is love.

The Restfulness of Jesus

Now no man can reasonably doubt that Jesus was pre-eminently restful. Whenever I peruse the Gospel story, I am impressed by the restfulness of Christ. One of the first invitations which He gave was this: "Come unto me…and I will give you rest." One of the last promises before the cross was this: "My peace I give unto you." And though there are depths in the peace of Jesus Christ that reach to the deepest abysses of the soul, yet the words would have been little else than mockery had the Christ not been wonderfully restful. Take a word like that of the Apostle Paul: "The Lord of peace himself give you peace always." Down to the depths of the sin-pardoned soul you are still in the province of the benediction. But there never could have been that benediction unless the Lord, whom the church loved and worshipped, had impressed everyone who ever met Him with the feeling of an infinitude of rest.

Craving for Restfulness

And I cannot help thinking that if men realized that, it would constitute a new appeal for Christ. If I know anything about this present day, there is a craving in its heart for restfulness. Mr. Moody used to tell a story of a little child who was tossing and fretting in some childish fever. And its mother sang to it and told it stories, and the little child tossed and was fretful still. And then the mother stooped down without a word and gathered her little daughter in her arms, whereon the child, in an infinite content, said, "Ah, mother, that's what I wanted." She did not know what she wanted, like many wiser people; but like most of us she knew it when she got it. And so today there are a thousand voices singing to us, and some perhaps telling stories. But it seems to me that the times are a little fevered, that the pulse is not beating steadily like our fathers', and that what we need in modern society is just the shadow and the space of rest. The strenuous life is being overdone. It is a little too strenuous to be strong. It is issuing, not in the dignity of manhood, but in the hustle of the modern market. And wise men everywhere are coming to see that we need a new ideal not less intense, but one that has ampler room within its borders for the fructifying pleasantness of rest.

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