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Author Topic: George H. Morrison's Old And Beautiful Devotions  (Read 67062 times)
nChrist
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« Reply #195 on: April 01, 2006, 05:57:12 PM »

How to Be Rid of Contempt - Page 2
by George H. Morrison


Christ Was Also Despised

And let me say in passing that we must bear that in mind if we would really know the beauty of Christ's character. The wonder of it is deepened a thousandfold for me, when I remember that He was despised. If it is hard for you to hold fast to lovely and lowly things, if it is difficult to be good and to be tender, when in the eyes that look on you, you see contempt, you may be sure it was not less hard for Jesus. Nay, on the contrary, it was far harder; for Jesus was far more sensitive than you. We have all been dulled and coarsened by our sin; Jesus alone knew nothing of that coarsening. In looks that we could never have interpreted, in words whose sting we never should have felt, Christ felt in its bitterness that He was despised: yet what can match the beauty of His character? Had it been only antagonism that confronted Him, I think I could understand Christ Jesus better. For a man is often roused by fierce antagonism till all his slumbering powers take the field. But that Jesus of Nazareth should have wakened every morning and said to His heart, I shall be despised today; that He should have gone every evening to His rest saying to His heart, Today I was despised; and that in spite of that He should have moved on to the cross, brave, tender, loving—that is the great mystery for me. May it not have been because our Lord knew to its uttermost the temptations of the soul that is despised, that He spoke so strongly on not despising others?

Spirit of Contempt Rooted in Lack of Understanding

Now what are the sources of this contemptuous spirit? Why is it we are so ready to despise? Well, I take it that contempt has two main roots, and the first of them is want of understanding. There is a great text in Job of which I often think; it occurs where Elihu is justifying God to men. And he says, "God is mighty and despiseth not any; He is great in strength of understanding." Now Elihu was not a very brilliant person; one can hardly imagine even patient Job listening patiently to Elihu's preaching. But I could forgive Elihu a whole volume of commonplace for this one thought that flashed on his poor brain. For Elihu means that just because God is great, and knows each separate heart with perfect knowledge, and reads, without an error in one syllable, the intricate story of the worst and weakest, because of that, God is a God of pity: "He is mighty and despiseth not any." That means that if we knew our brother as God knows him, we should never dare to despise him anymore. In the last analysis man may be a sinner, but in the last analysis—thank God—man is not despicable. If only we knew what the weakest and worst had borne, if only we understood how they were tempted, if we could read the story of their secret battle, could fathom their wretchedness, could hear their cry; if only we realised that under that dull exterior there are heaven, hell, loneliness, cravings, love, I think we should cease despising in that hour. God understands all that, and therefore despises no one. We despise because we do not know.

Contempt Rooted in Lack of Love

And then the other root is want of love. Where love is, there can be no contempt. A man may have twenty despicable traits, but to the one who loves him he is still a hero. And that is why, in the love of Christian homes, men who are not thought much of in the city are sometimes wonderfully good and gentle. They are not hypocrites. It is the absence of even the suspicion of contempt at home that brings out all that is best and brightest in them. I have seen a deformed or crippled little boy or girl sadly despised in the playground and the street. They have had to stand many a bitter jest—for children can be terribly cruel. But though all those in the playground despise the shrunken limbs, and make very merry at the arrested brain, there is one at home who would sooner lie down in her grave, than think of despising that little shattered frame. Where a mother's love is, there is no contempt. It is want of love, then, and want of understanding, that lie at the roots of most of our despising. And the question I wish to ask in closing is this: How does the Gospel of Jesus combat that? Christ never says do this, and leaves us there. When He commands, He gives the power to fulfil. And I wish to ask what are these powers, that have been called into action by the Christian Gospel, to banish the contemptuous spirit from the kingdom?

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« Reply #196 on: April 01, 2006, 05:58:44 PM »

How to Be Rid of Contempt - Page 3
by George H. Morrison


The Christian Ideal

First, then, there is the height of the ideal that dawns on a man when he becomes a Christian. In his new standards of the measurements of things, there is less difference between him and others than he thought. A little green hillock of some thirty feet high might well despise the molehill in the field. But place them both under the shadow of Ben Nevis, and there is little room for boasting or contempt. The schoolboy who has mastered Caesar despises his junior still struggling with the rudiments. But in the presence of a ripe Latin scholar there is not so much difference between the brothers after all. Just so when a man sees little higher than himself, it is tolerably easy to despise. But when the ideal is lifted into the glory of Christ our superiority has a strange trick of vanishing. It was the Pharisee, whose standard of all things was the Pharisee, who thanked God that he was not as other men. But the poor publican, with his God-touched conscience, and his vision of the splendour and purity of heaven, could only cry, "God be merciful to me the sinner." With such heights to scale, and with such depths to loathe, it was impossible to despise the sorriest brother. And every man who has been wakened to the eternal has been wakened to the sight of heights and depths like that. It is that heightening and deepening that comes through Christ that robs a man of shallow self-content. And to rob a man of shallow self-content is a sure way to guard him from despising.

The Gospel Teaches Human Brotherhood

And then the Gospel insists on human brotherhood. "Our Father which art in heaven" is its prayer. Did the cultured Greek look down on the barbarian? Did the elect and covenanted Jew despise the Gentile? Did the free man look with an infinite disdain upon the slave? Clear as a trumpet, strong as the voice of God, there rang this message on a dying world: there is neither Jew nor Greek, barbarian, Scythian, bond nor free, but all are one in Christ. Yes, and when that word of command was obeyed, and the Gospel of Jesus was carried to the heathen, and when the peace and hope and joy and comfort of it was offered in all its fulness to the slave, slowly, like a dark cloud, the contemptuous spirit of paganism scattered, and the star of brotherhood rose in the sky. It is our kinship in Christ, then, that is blotting out contempt. It is our brotherhood that has lightened that burden of despising. God meant us to be like that tiny lass in Edinburgh who was carrying a strapping infant in her arms, and when a stranger said, "Why, what a burden for you," she answered, "Please, sir, he's not a burden, he's my brother."

Who Can Despise Someone for Whom Christ Died?

But the greatest power of all has still to be named. It is the life and death of our Saviour Jesus Christ. No man can struggle to be true to that ideal, nor feel the love that brought Him to the cross, without the contemptuous spirit we are all so prone to, taking to itself wings and flying away. I ask you to trace the story of that life, and tell me if you find a trace of despising there. The fact is, Christ was despised for not despising: the Jew could never understand His charity. Did He despise the woman of Samaria though all her village held her in contempt? Did He despise the publican, the harlot? Did He ever look with disdain on the little children? Christ saw the worst as you have never seen it—felt all the loathsomeness and guilt of sin—yet for the worst all things were yet possible; there was some chord still capable of music. The sorriest sinner was good enough to live for. The sorriest sinner was good enough to die for. A man may be poor, unsuccessful, vulgar, very dull; but if he can say "Christ Jesus died for me," I do not think I shall despise that man again.

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« Reply #197 on: April 03, 2006, 06:37:21 AM »

April 2

When the Child-Spirit Dies - Page 1
by George H. Morrison


Of such is the kingdom of heaven— Mat_19:14

Christlikeness Is Childlikeness

It is a beautiful thought, of such are the kingdom of heaven. It is a beautiful conception, daring and fresh as it is beautiful, that the one attribute of all citizens of God must be the possession of the childlike heart. We need not be learned, though it is sweet to be learned; we need not be gifted, though God be thanked for gifts. But we must be childlike; that is the one necessity. Christ takes an unalterable stand on that.

Childlikeness Is Not Childishness

Now of course to be childlike is one thing; and it is quite another to be childish. I sometimes fear we have so confused the two, that a certain contempt has touched the nobler of them—we use our common words so carelessly, and treat that magnificent instrument of speech so lightly. To be childlike is to have the spirit of the child, to have the touch of the divine about us still. It is to live freshly in a glad, fresh world, with a thousand avenues into the everywhere out of this dull spot that we call now. But to be childish is to be immature; to have no grip of things, never to face facts squarely; and he is a poor Christian who lives so. In understanding, says the apostle, I would have you men. It is one distinguishing glory of our Lord that He looked the worst in the face, and called it bad. But the guileless heart, and the soul that can serve and sing, because there is love and home and fatherland about it—all that is childlike—like the children—and of such is the kingdom of heaven.

Childlikeness Is a Sign of Greatness

There can be little doubt, too, that in claiming the child-spirit Jesus was reaching up to the very highest in man. "Wisdom," says Wordsworth in his own quiet way—so helpful in these noisy days—"Wisdom is ofttimes nearer when we stoop, than when we soar," and Jesus, stooping to the little children, was really rising to the crown of life. Show me the greatest men in human history—the men who were morally and nobly great—and I shall show you in every one of them tokens and traces of the childlike heart. It is the middle-men, the worldly middle-men, the men of one talent who bury it in the napkin, it is these who are locked into their prison-house, and have lost the happy daring of the child. Great souls, with the ten talents flaming into genius, live in a world so full of God, that men say they are imprudent, careless; and Jesus sees that they are little children. Who was it that defined a genius as a man who keeps unsullied through the stern teaching of the years the spirit of the child? I think that Christ would have liked that definition. There is genius in childhood; there is childhood in genius too. "He hath put down the mighty from their seats, and exalted them of low degree."

Christ Possessed the Spirit of Childlikeness

And you cannot read the story of Jesus Christ without feeling that to the very close of it the child-spirit was alive in Him. "A little child shall lead them," said the prophet; do you think it was only a poetic fancy? The Bible is too terribly in earnest to have any margin for poetic fancies. When I study the records of the life of Jesus, and stumble on some unfathomable mystery, immediately I find my heart responding, "This is the Son of God." And when I find Him healing the Syrophoenician's daughter, raising the widow's son, or weeping in infinite pity by the grave—"This is the Son of Man." But when I light on these passages about the lilies; about the sparrow falling, and the raven who toiled not; then, in a thousand touches such as these, fresh, penetrating, wonderful, I feel that, after all, the prophet was right—a little child shall lead them. No scoffing hardened Him. No disappointment soured Him. No pain dulled the keen edge of His love. He still believed, in spite of Iscariot. He still had a Father, in spite of Calvary. And that sweet spirit, as of a little child, has been the dew of heaven to the world.

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« Reply #198 on: April 03, 2006, 06:38:42 AM »

When the Child-Spirit Dies - Page 2
by George H. Morrison


The Loss of Childlikeness May Creep on Us Slowly

The spirit of the child, then, never died in Jesus. I wonder if it has died in you? It dies away so slowly and so gradually, under the pressure of a worldly city, that we hardly notice how far we have drifted. But the greatest losses are the losses we never observe; the crumblings in secret till this or that is ruined; the stealing away of the dearest in the dark; and there is no loss more tragic for a soul than the loss of that spirit of the child.

You Cease to Be Childlike…When You Cease to Be Receptive

You ask me why? I think there are three reasons; there are three penalties that follow when the child-spirit dies, and the first is, that we cease to be receptive. The joy of childhood is its receptivity. The greatest duty of it is to receive. The child knows nothing of a haunting past yet, and it is not yet anxious about the future. Its time is now, and now is God's time too, do not forget. But you and I have so overlaid this present with yesterday's sin and with tomorrow's project, that we have little heart for today's message. We are not receptive as the little child is, we do not welcome impressions and angels now. And so we grow very commonplace and dull; there is plenty of dust about us, and no dew. Let the dead past bury its dead! Do not be living in a quenched yesterday. And take no anxious thought about tomorrow. Consider the lilies; be a child again. To feel the eternal in this passing moment, to catch the rustle of God's garment now, not to be burdened with a vain regret, not to be peering forward through the curtain; all that, with the open eye and feeling heart, is to be childlike. And of such is the kingdom of heaven.

When You Cease to Live in Your Own World

No doubt it is that very receptivity that makes the little children dwell apart. I have long thought that the aloofness of the Christian, his isolation in the busiest life, was closely akin to the aloofness of the child. You talk of loneliness?—I tell you there are few such lonely creatures as little children. And they are lonely not because of sorrow; and not, thank God, because their lives are empty. They dwell apart, because they live in their own world, bright, wonderful, with its own visions and voices, and you and I never touch even with our finger-tips these ivory gates and golden. What I suggest is that the isolation of the saint is like the isolation of the child. For the Christian also dwells apart, but not in the solitude of emptiness. He has his world, just as the children have; old things have passed away from him in Christ. And in that new creation where the Saviour reigns, and which the worldly heart has never seen, there is a peopled isolation like that of the little children, for of such is the kingdom of heaven.

When the Simplicity of Faith Is Gone

Once more, when the child-spirit dies, then the simplicity of faith is gone. There is an exquisite purity about the faith of children; sometimes they make us blush—they trust us so. Intensely eager, inquisitively curious; why? why? from sunrise, to sunset—but all the time how they are trusting us! Ah, if we had only trusted God like that! It is something to be trusted, if only by a helpless babe, and even God is happier when we trust Him. But better than to be trusted, is to trust; to walk by faith and not by sight; and when the spirit of the child dies out, it is not possible to walk that way again. For when we cease to be childlike we grow worldly, and to be worldly is always to be faithless; and one great danger of this commercial city is to develop faithless, worldly men. I have no doubt you call me an idle dreamer because I plead for the child-spirit in the city. But it is better to be a dreamer than a coward, and woe is me if I preach not the Gospel. "Of such is the kingdom of heaven"—minister! "Of such is the kingdom of heaven" — merchant ! "Of such is the kingdom of heaven"-schoolmaster, doctor, workman, servant! Are you of such? It is not my question. I only pass it on from Jesus Christ!

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« Reply #199 on: April 03, 2006, 06:40:00 AM »

When the Child-Spirit Dies - Page 3
by George H. Morrison


When the Feeling of Wonder Disappears

Lastly, when the child-spirit dies, then the feeling of wonder disappears. For the child is above all else a wonderer, and is set in the center of a wonderful world. There is nothing common or unclean for children; all things are big with wonder for him. The rolling of the wagon in the street, and the gathering banks of cloud down by the sunset; and the opening flower, and the father's morning kindness, and the mother's stories, and the birthday joy—the little magicians so trick them out with glory, that they make the pomp of emperors ridiculous. Childhood, as one of our poets sang, is "The hour of glory in the grass, of splendour in the flower."

What a poor thing is life when the wonder of it all passes away! I remember a magnificent sermon by John Ker, that master in the great art of spiritual preaching, and this is the title of it, "God's Word suited to man's sense of wonder." And Ruskin said, "I had rather live in a cottage and wonder at everything, than live in Warwick Castle and wonder at nothing." You have all felt the trials of existence, I want you to feel the wonder of it now; and the great wonder that the Lord should be your Shepherd, and should have died upon Calvary for you. His name shall be called Wonderful—become a child again, and feel it so. For except ye be born again, ye cannot see the kingdom; and of such is the kingdom of heaven.

____________________

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 #200 on: April 03, 2006, 06:41:27 AM »

April 3

The Labourers in the Vineyard - Page 1
By George H. Morrison


The kingdom of heaven is like unto a man that is an householder, which went out early in the morning to hire labourers into his vineyard— Mat_20:1

The Divine Plan in the Ordering of Scripture Chapters

As we move through chapter nineteen of Matthew's Gospel, we seem to breathe a different atmosphere than that of the twentieth. Yet the two chapters, though seemingly separated, stand in the closest connection with each other. In the former we meet with the rich young ruler and witness his sorrowful departure from the face of Christ; we hear, too, the question of Peter, "we have forsaken all, and followed thee; what shall we have therefore?" (Mat_19:27). It is then that Jesus begins speaking about rewards of service. It is then, as if summing up the visible contrast between the rich young ruler and His poor disciples, that He says, "Many that are first shall be last; and the last shall be first" (Mat_19:30). And then, as though to show forth in a picture some of the mysteries He has been dealing with, He speaks the parable of the Labourers in the Vineyard.

God's Kingdom Is Like a Vineyard

Note first, then, God's kingdom is like a vineyard. It is an excellent exercise for all of us to recall the things that the Kingdom of God is like. It is equally good for us to gather together some of the Bible references to the vine. The vines of Palestine were famous for their growth, and for the immense clusters of grapes which they produced. We all remember that splendid bunch that the spies bore on the staff from the valley of Eshcol (Num_13:23). We cannot wonder, then, to find the vine and the vineyard among the most precious of the Bible metaphors. Israel is a vine brought out of Egypt, and planted in the Land of Promise by the Lord (Psa_80:8-10). To dwell under the vine is the choice emblem of domestic happiness (1Ki_4:25). It is a vine which Jesus selects to typify the union between His disciples and Himself (Joh_15:1-6). And the vineyard becomes the figure of God's kingdom. Long centuries before, Jeremiah had cried, "Many pastors have destroyed my vineyard" (Jer_12:10); and now our Lord, who had very profoundly studied Jeremiah, presses the same emblem into His service. Can we give two or three of the clear likenesses that would make this metaphor a favourite with Jesus?

As the Vineyard Needs Workers, So Does God

Again, observe God's anxiety for workers. Above the door of the tramway office in a certain city there is written just now, "No men wanted: none need apply." All posts are full; there is no call for hands; men may be very poor and very hungry, but there is no help for them there. But the householder whom we read of in our story had no such notice on his vineyard gate. His great concern was not to keep workers out, but somehow or anyhow to get them in. So we find him early in the morning going out to the marketplace to hire his men—how different a scene from the London Docks, for instance, where early in the morning the men are clamouring at the gates, and only a few out of the crowd are hired! And then at nine o'clock he is out again, and then in the height of noon, and then at three. These hours were the great hours of prayer in Jewry: was not this householder's work a kind of prayer? And he has not done yet: he will make one more effort—an hour before sunset he is out again. It is clear that the great passion of the man is to get the idlers set to honest work. May we not say, with reverence and gratitude, that that is the passion of the Father of Jesus Christ? He has service for all, and He wants all to come and serve Him. His finger never wrote, "No men need apply." Whenever any of our young people,, then, get the opportunity of doing something kind, when the hour comes that they can make some little sacrifice, and help in any way the cause of Jesus, let them not say, "Bother!" or do it with a grudge; but just let them think that the Lord of the vineyard has come with this very bit of work for them to do.

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« Reply #201 on: April 03, 2006, 06:42:43 AM »

The Labourers in the Vineyard - Page 2
By George H. Morrison


Labourers Are Rewarded in God's Vineyard

Note once more that God rewards all service. In the old times of feudal law in Scotland, there was many a man who laboured all his days, and never got a penny of reward. In the Southern states, while slavery existed, the men and the women who did all the work dreamed often of the lash, but never of a wage. And in many a campaign, written of in our histories, the soldiers never saw their hire. But this householder was so careful of his word, that he began with the last comers in making account; and none of his men got less than they expected, while the great majority of them got far more. All of which, I take it, is meant to teach us this—that all our service for Christ shall be rewarded. No worker shall ever get less than was agreed on; and the great multitude, to their own sweet surprise, shall be given more than they could ask or think. Now if it should seem to any of my readers that this is a mercenary view of spiritual things, I would bid them remember that even the choicest parable can only rudely embody the things of God. The reward of plucking grapes may be a penny—there is a kind of gulf between the two. But, spiritually, the wage of service is new power to serve; and the reward of love is ever-deepening capacity of loving; and the hire for all honest effort to know Jesus, is to know Him at last as the chiefest among ten thousand.

God's Measures of Rewards Differ from Ours

Lastly, observe God's measures are not ours. Do not think that this parable is meant to teach us that the self-same reward is to be given to all. If that were so, what about the talents? It so happens that all the workers get the penny; but it is not on this that the stress of the story lies. Had the latest comers chanced to begin at dawn, we feel that the householder would have given them sixpence. He was delighted with them because of their earnest spirit. They came at once; they did not stop to haggle. He saw that their whole heart was in their work, and he really paid them according to their heart. Do we not learn, then, that God does not measure service by length of time or anything external? God measures service by the motive of it, by the spirit that prompts it, by the secret heart. An hour with the heart in it for Jesus Christ is better and worthier than a heartless day. We really have not been serving well, if the first thing we do at sunset is to murmur (Mat_20:11). "My son, give me thine heart?' "Yes, Lord, we give it, and all these questions of the pence we leave with Thee!"

____________________

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 #202 on: April 05, 2006, 02:38:39 PM »

April 4

The Eleventh-Hour Man - Page 1
by George H. Morrison


And about the eleventh hour he went out, and found others standing idle— Mat_20:6

Staying outside the Kingdom to the Last

By the eleventh-hour man I mean the man who at five o'clock is still outside the Kingdom, and one would notice first that in the parable there is no hint of this man being bad. There was another eleventh-hour man, who had taken to evil courses on the highway. He had left home, and broken his mother's heart, and we see him at last hanging on a cross. But this first man was a much more usual type, haunting the marketplace in search of work, not forgetful of his wife and children. If you want the prodigal, go to the far country. If you want the brigand, take the road to Jericho. Our Lord, in that most masterly way of His, has always a fitting background for His characters. And this man, against the back ground of the market-place, stands for the ordinary, well-intentioned person—yet at the eleventh hour he is still outside the Kingdom.

Not without Excuse

One notes, too, that he was not without excuse. It is so like our Lord to touch on that. When the man was asked why he was standing there, he could truly say that nobody had hired him. That this excuse was not entirely valid is, I think, embodied in the parable. For at the third hour and at the sixth and ninth hours the householder had been out looking for workers. Now had this man been tremendously in earnest he would have thrown himself in the employer's way; but there is not a hint that he did that. Probably at nine o'clock he was in bed; men out of work are prone to oversleep. At twelve o'clock he would be having dinner, and at three enjoying his siesta. But the beautiful thing is that, though this be true, the Master sees, and is at pains to show us, that this man was not without excuse. There are men outside at the eleventh hour who are utterly without excuse. Deaf to every call, they have resisted the inviting Spirit. But there are others who are different from that, and one of the charming things about our Lord is that He finds room for that suggestion in His story. Such may have sat under a sapless ministry, or had the Gospel presented in repellent ways. They may have been plunged, when little more than boys, into dubious or soul-destroying businesses. Someone they loved, who made a great profession, may have proved (long years ago) a whited sepulchre—and at the eleventh hour they are still outside the Kingdom.

The Lord Still Calls at the Eleventh Hour

Now the wonderfully hopeful thing is this, that this man was called at the eleventh hour, for the eleventh hour (as Bible students know) is an hour when nothing ever happens. With the exception of this single parable I am not aware that the eleventh hour is mentioned from the Book of Genesis to Revelation. The third hour is a great hour of Scripture, for then (according to St. Mark) our Lord was crucified. And the sixth and ninth are both great hours of Scripture, and all three are Jewish hours of prayer. But the eleventh hour is an hour unchronicled—it is an hour when nothing ever happens— and it was just then that this man was called. Nobody had ever heard of such a thing. Nobody ever expected such a thing. The oldest frequenter of the market-place had never known anyone to call at five o'clock. And yet that is what happened in the story and our blessed Lord would never have told the story if it could not happen now—and to you.

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« Reply #203 on: April 05, 2006, 02:40:10 PM »

The Eleventh-Hour Man - Page 2
by George H. Morrison


God Is an Extraordinary Employer

For this employer is an extraordinary person. It is that which Jesus is eager to impress on us. Had the employer been thinking of nothing but his grapes, he would never have acted in this amazing fashion. What! to hire men when the work day is closing, and to pay them with an insane extravagance? Whoever heard of a businessman like that! Such conduct in an employer is unthinkable. And then our Lord would smile, and flash a glance at them, and say, "Children, that is exactly what I am driving at, for remember that My householder is God." "My ways are not your ways, neither are My thoughts your thoughts." This is an extraordinary householder because God is an extraordinary God, giving His only begotten Son to die for us, waiting and watching and yearning for the prodigal, putting a ring on his hand and shoes upon his feet, when in the evening he comes home.

He Got More Than He Ever Dreamed Of

And then this eleventh-hour man got far more than he had ever dreamed of. It was almost incredible, but it was true. The men who came at break of day were bargainers. They began by driving a bargain with the master. They said, "Let us settle the wages question first," and he settled it, and gave them what they bargained for. But the eleventh-hour man did not drive a bargain; filled with gratitude, he left things to the Master, and he got more than he had ever dreamed of. That is the kind of faith which God delights in, not the conditional faith that drives a bargain, not the faith that says, "If Thou wilt do so-and-so for me, I will do so-and-so for Thee"; but the faith, born of a wondering gratitude that leaves all issues in the Master's hands, perfectly certain that His name is Love. Think of the amazement of the eleventh-hour man when the whole penny was lying in his hand. "What! all this for me? All this for me?" Yes: "eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love Him" (1Co_2:9).

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« Reply #204 on: April 05, 2006, 02:42:25 PM »

April 5

The Ambitious Disciples - Page 1
by George H. Morrison


And he said unto her, What wilt thou? She saith unto him, Grant that these my two sons may sit, the one on thy right hand, and the other on the left, in thy kingdom— Mat_20:21

A Promise Misunderstood

The disciples had been pondering deeply, we may be sure, on the great promise Jesus had lately made to them—"When the Son of man shall sit in the throne of his glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel" (Mat_19:28). So strongly had these words impressed James and John, that from the hour they heard them they could think of little else. And gradually, as they dwelt upon that future, new ambitions began to mount within them; they began to dream of holding the most coveted seats, on the right hand and the left hand of the King. But they remembered how Jesus had rebuked them when once before they had striven for precedence. They dreaded such another rebuke, should they venture to broach the same subject again. So they made their mother the petitioner, they entreated Jesus through their mother's love, and it is the story of that entreaty that forms this lesson. Do you know what their mother's name was? It was Salome (cp. Mat_27:56 with Mar_15:40). Do you know what Salome means? It means perfect. I believe that Salome is perfect now, though she was very far from being perfect then. And do you know where we meet with her again? Once at the cross, where she stands far off and watches (Mar_15:40); and then in the early morning at the sepulchre, where she has gone to anoint the body of Jesus (Mar_16:1).

It Happened Shortly before the Crucifixion

Let us note, too, that all this happened little more than a week before the crucifixion. The shadow of the cross lay on the path of Jesus, His soul was filled with the thought of the approaching agony, and He had begun to talk very plainly of it to His own—and all the time His own were dreaming their own dreams, and happy in the golden thought of thrones. They thought that the kingdom was to be realised at once; were they not travelling to Jerusalem for that very end? But Jesus saw the darkness of Calvary before Him, and on either side (not seated upon thrones) a thief. Do you mark the gulf between the thoughts of Jesus and the thoughts of those who were nearest and dearest to Him? On the one side ambition and dominion; on the other, renunciation and the grave. Surely, in the next year or two, some mighty power must have been at work to bring round the disciples to the mind of Jesus. Just think how the cross found them, as their hearts are revealed in this incident, then think what in the after-days they became, and it is impossible not to feel the action, and detect the presence of a risen Lord.

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« Reply #205 on: April 05, 2006, 02:44:10 PM »

The Ambitious Disciples - Page 2
by George H. Morrison


We Must Drink the Cup If We Would Wear the Crown

This passage again teaches very clearly that we must drink the cup If we would wear the crown. When Jesus spoke about His cup, He was using a familiar Bible figure. Sometimes it is a Scripture image for joy: "My cup runneth over" (Psa_23:5); "I will take the cup of salvation" (Psa_116:13). Sometimes, as here, it is the emblem of sorrow: "If this cup may not pass away from me, except I drink it, thy will be done" (Mat_26:42). Now, when Jesus says to His two disciples, Can ye drink My cup? Can ye suffer My baptism? He is not merely questioning their power to suffer—He is hinting that that is the one way to the throne. "Ah, James and John," says Jesus, with infinite gentleness, "your eyes have been dazzled with that promised throne; but I tell you that the only road to that, lies through suffering and the death of self. I am not a tyrant who can dispense these honours even to the favourite who has lain upon My bosom; they shall be granted by God in perfect justice to those who have trodden most worthily the way of the cross." There must be the cup before the crown, says Jesus. There must be the baptism before the throne. And the strange thing is, that that truth was never more nobly illustrated than in the after experience of James and John. One of the two was the first of the apostles to drink the cup, and to be baptized with the baptism of blood (Act_12:1). The other had the longest experience among them all of bitter trial and persecution. And so Salome, after all, has had a royal answer to her prayer. But truly she did not know what she was asking.

Jesus Can Bring Light out of Darkness

Another suggestion arises from our theme—how wonderfully Jesus could bring light from darkness. When the ten heard what the two had asked, we read that they were moved with indignation. I take it that the one spirit was in them all, and that the ten were as selfish in their irritation, as the two had shown themselves in their ambition. They were all heated, envious, and hasty. It was like an hour of the Prince of darkness. This, too, after all that had come and gone between them—the wonder is, it did not break Christ's heart. But Jesus, with perfect patience, begins to teach them. The simple lessons must be gone over again. So step by step He leads them onward and inward, till they are face to face with the mystery of His death (Mat_20:28). Now, is not that a notable example of the power of Jesus to bring light out of darkness? Do you not feel as you read the story that moments of difficulty were His opportunity? How easy to have denounced James and John! How easy to have lost heart with all the twelve! I am almost certain we should have done that. But Jesus so redeemed that hour of bitterness, that we can thank God the ten were ever angry. And He has left us an example, that we should follow in His steps.

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« Reply #206 on: April 10, 2006, 05:54:24 AM »

April 10

Mistaken Magnitudes - Page 1
By George H. Morrison


Ye blind guides, which strain at a gnat, and swallow a camel— Mat_23:24

The Evil of Not Seeing Things in Their True Proportion

It was one great complaint of our Lord against the Pharisees, that they had lost the relative magnitude of things. They were very much in earnest about the Jewish law; but for all that, they had sadly misinterpreted the law. They laid great stress upon the infinitely little, until the weightier matters of it passed out of sight. They magnified trifles—paid so much attention to their rushlights till they forgot that the stars were in the sky. It is that spirit which Jesus is rebuking in the familiar proverb of our text. Ye blind guides, cannot you see that some things are great and some are little? If there are larger and lesser lights in the great heavens, will there not be kindred differences in God's other firmaments? It is the evil of not seeing things in true proportion that is present to the mind of Jesus Christ.

Worthy Living Is Seeing Things in Their Relative Importance

Now it is on that subject that I wish to speak, for one of the great arts of worthy living is to see things in their relative importance. I have known so many who failed in what was worthiest, not because they were weaker than their neighbours—for the strongest of us is pitifully weak—they failed not because they were weaker than the others, but because they never seemed able to grasp the difference between things that were really great and really little. Mr. Froude, in his Spanish Story of the Armada, makes a significant remark about the Spanish king. Showing the incompetence of Philip II, he says, "the smallest thing and the largest seemed to occupy him equally." That was one mark of Philip the Second's incompetence. That gave the worst of all possible starts to the Armada. And for the equipping of nobler vessels than these galleons, and the fighting of sterner battles than they fought, that spirit spells incompetency still. It is a great thing to know a trifle when you meet it. It is a great thing to know that gossamer is gossamer. It is equally great, when the decisive moment comes, to seize it and use it with every power of manhood. It is such swift distinguishing between the great and little, such vision of the relative magnitude of things, that is one secret of a quiet and conquering life.

In Our Hurriedness We Fail to Distinguish True Magnitudes

Now I think that this gift of seeing things in their true magnitude is very difficult to exercise today. We live in such a hurried fashion now, that we have little leisure to take these moral measurements. When I am travelling sixty miles an hour in the express, I have very hazy thoughts about the country. Villages, towns, meadows, woods, go flashing by, but the speed is too fierce for accurate observing. So with our lives today; they hurry forward so. The morning paper has hardly been unfolded, when the children are selling the evening paper in the streets. The wide world's news comes crowding in on us; we are spectators of an endless panorama. And all this change, and movement, and variety, while it makes men more eager, more intense and responsive, is not conducive to a well-balanced judgment. We are a great deal sharper now than men were once. I do not think we are a great deal deeper. It is the still waters that run deep, and stillness is hardly a characteristic of the city. I have often been humbled, when I lived among them, at the wise judgment of one Highland shepherd. The man was not clever; he read little but his Bible; his brilliant son was home with his prizes from college, and I dare say, in the eyes of his brilliant son, the father was fifty years behind the times. But you get the shepherd on to moral questions, on to the relative magnitude of things, and in spite of all the Greek and Latin of the prize-winner—and the father is infinitely proud of these bright eyes—in spite of the Greek and Latin of the son, you recognise the father as the greater man. Something has come to him amid the silent hills; the spirit of the lonely moor has touched him; he has wrestled with a few great truths, a few great sorrows, alone, amid the rolling miles of heather. And it is that discipline of thoughtful quietude, controlling and purifying the moral judgment, that puts the keenest intellect to shame.

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« Reply #207 on: April 10, 2006, 05:55:51 AM »

Mistaken Magnitudes - Page 2
By George H. Morrison


Grievances Distort Our Vision

This failure to see things in their true proportions is often seen in relation to our grievances. When a man has a grievance—and many men have them—he is almost certain to have distorted vision. You can block out the sun by the smallest coin if you hold the coin near enough to the eye. And we have a way of dwelling on our grievances, till we lose sight of the blue heaven above us. How ready we are to brood on petty insults! How we take them home with us and nurse and fondle them! How we are stung by trifling neglects! A little discourtesy, and our soul begins to fester! And though hearts are just as warm to us today as they were yesterday when we responded to them, and though the great tides of the deep love of God rise to their flood, still, on every shore, it is strange how a man will be blind to all the glory, when a little bitterness is rankling within. We are all adepts at counting up our grievances. Open a new column and count your mercies now. It is supremely important to see things in their magnitudes, and perhaps you have never learned that lesson yet. The man who suspects is always judging wrongly. A jealous woman sees everything out of focus. If there be any virtue, if there be any praise, think on these things, says the apostle.

Fatigue Causes You to See Things out of Proportion

Of course I am aware that the failure to see things in their true proportions has sometimes got physical and not moral roots. There come days when the grasshopper proves itself a burden, and the simple reason is that we are weary. Let a man be vigorous, and strong, and well, and he can take the measurement of his worries very easily. But when he is exhausted with the winter toil of a great city we know what alarming proportions trifles take. It is well that a man should remember in such moments that this is the body of our humiliation. Christ understood that matter thoroughly—"Come ye apart," He said, "and rest awhile." The disciples were overstrung and overwrought, and the tact and tenderness of Jesus dealt with that. What the men wanted was a little rest. Never accept the verdict of your weariness. Never judge anything when you are tired. We are so apt to be jaundiced and think bitter things, when all that we want is a little rest and sunshine. All that will come; the birds will sing again; the dew of May morning will sparkle on the grass. We shall see things in their true proportions then. Meantime trust thou in God, and be the person God intends you to be.

Sleep Helps You See Things in Their Proper Proportions

In this connection, too, I find a gleam of glory in the beneficent effects of sleep. Of all the secondary ministries of God for helping us to see things as they are, there is none quite so wonderful as sleep. We go to rest troubled, perplexed, despondent. We cannot see how we shall get through at all. But when we waken, how different things are! Sleep has knit up the ravelled sleeve of care. Now, Jesus loved to speak of death as sleep. He seems to have kept that word death in reserve, as the name for something darker and more terrible. Tennyson talks of "the death that cannot die," and I think that is what Jesus meant by death. Our "death," for Christ, was sleep, and sleep is the passage to a glad awaking. Shall not that sleep do for us what tonight's will do, and help us to see things truly in the morning? Then we shall know even as we are known. There will be no mistaken magnitudes in heaven. There will be no errors in proportion there. We shall no longer be blind to the relative importance of things that confused us when we fell asleep. The love at home that we despised down here, and the selfishness that made those whom we loved unhappy, and the work we tried to do with so much failure, and the exquisite joys, and the bitterness of tears—all these we shall see at last in their true magnitudes when we awaken in the eternal morning.

What Makes a Man See Things As They Are?

Meantime we are on this side of the grave. There are heavy mists lying along the valley. I want to ask, then, what are the Gospel powers that help a man to see things as they are?

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« Reply #208 on: April 10, 2006, 05:57:19 AM »

Mistaken Magnitudes - Page 3
By George H. Morrison


Love

First, then, remember that the Gospel which we preach puts love at the very center of our life. It makes all the difference what you put first and foremost, and the Gospel of Jesus Christ puts love there. That was the tragedy of these poor Pharisees. It is always a tragedy when love dies out. When anything other than love is at the center, the gnats and the camels are certain to get mixed. For love alone sees purely, clearly, deeply. Love always seeks the best interpretation. Love never makes the most of petty faults. The windows of love are of the finest glass. And it is that spirit of loving interpretation that helps a Christian to see things as they are. If without love I never can know God, then without love I never can know anything. For every blackthorn that breaks into snow-white blossom, and every bird that is winging its way from Africa, and every human heart, however vile, has something of the Creator in its being. Take away God, and things are chaos to me. And without love, I never can know God. You understand, then, the wisdom of Jesus Christ in putting love at the center of our life. It focuses everything. It links the little and the great with the Creator, and brings things to their relative importance.

Look at Things in the Context of Eternity

And then the Gospel takes our threescore years and ten and lays them against the background of eternity. And a life is like a painting in this respect, a great deal depends upon the background. You have been charged with making your colouring too strong. Men say it is a beautiful and powerful picture, but the hill, and the sunset, and the breaking waves, were never so intense and vivid as that. The likelihood is that they are far more vivid; but the hills and the sunsets are not flamed, in nature. Your canvas has got to end abruptly; but nothing in nature ever ends like that. Things stretch away into infinite distances there. There is not a tree and there is not a wave but is part of the one grand colour-scheme of God. And it is because you have to isolate a little part, and take it out of its setting in the expanse, that men will tell you sometimes it is exaggerated. Do you not think the same charges will be made when we isolate our threescore years and ten? The colours will always be too bright, too dark, unless we remember the eternal setting. And it is because Christ has brought immortality to light that the Christian sees things in their true proportions. I bid you remember that eternal prospect. The efforts and strivings of our threescore and ten years are not adjusted to the scale of seventy, they are adjusted to the scale of immortality. This life is not the opera, it is the overture. It is not the whole book, it is the first chapter of the book. A man must be wakeful to his eternal destiny if he would know the magnitude of things.

Take Your Measurements from Jesus

And then the Gospel brings us into fellowship with Christ, and that is our last great lesson in proportion. The heart that takes its measurements from Jesus is likely to be pretty near the truth. A great deal depends on the kind of company you keep, as to what things are to be important to you, and what not. It is one of the hardest tasks of every earnest man quietly to scorn the measurements of the world, and in that task we are mightily helped by Christ. His comradeship reinforces the true standards. There is a scale of worth in the teaching of Christ Jesus to which the spirit instantly responds. Cherish that comradeship. Live in that glorious presence. Take your measure of the worth of things from the Redeemer. And when the journey is over, and the hill is climbed, and you look back out of the cloudless dawn, I think you will find that in the fellowship of Christ you have been saved from many a mistaken magnitude.

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George H. Morrison Devotions

Dist. Worldwide in the Great Freeware Bible Study package called
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Software to every country on earth in their own language FREE
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« Reply #209 on: April 18, 2006, 04:49:21 PM »

April 13

The Ten Virgins - Page 1
by George H. Morrison


Then shall the kingdom of heaven be likened unto ten virgins, which took their lamps, and went forth to meet the bridegroom. And five of them were wise, and five were foolish— Mat_25:1-2

The Tradition of a Jewish Wedding

The ceremonies at a marriage in the East were very different from those we are accustomed to, and the more clearly we can picture one of these Eastern weddings, the better we shall understand this parable. There was no religious service, as with us; no priest or minister was present. The essential thing was that the bridegroom should lead his bride from her father's house to his own. Hence the old phrase, "to take a wife," was literally true in Eastern countries, and we know that to this day, among the Arabs, the bride is taken as if she were an enemy—captured after some show of violence, and removed as a prisoner to her husband's home. Among the Jews, the bridegroom, with his friends (Joh_3:23), went to the home of his bride in the late evening. It was dark, and lights were needed for the procession—such lights among the Greeks and Romans (as the boys who are reading Latin poetry know) were generally torches; but among the Jews were more commonly lamps. The bride was waiting for the bridegroom there, in a white dress, decked out in all her jewels; and John would recall many a village scene when he wrote that the wife of the Lamb was arrayed in fine linen, clean and white (Rev_19:8), and that the New Jerusalem came down from heaven prepared as a bride adorned for her husband (Rev_21:2). Then the bridegroom led his bride into the street, with her maiden friends bearing her company, amid music and a score of flashing lights. And as the procession made its way back to the bridegroom's home, through the crowds who had poured out to see the bridal party, a little group of maidens at this corner, and a few more who had been waiting in the court, joined the happy company, and went with it to share in the marriage feast.

Five Were Not Prepared for a Delay

This, then, was the scene that Jesus transfigured in this exquisite parable, and the ten virgins, who take the chief place in it, may either (as many have thought) have been attending the bride in her own home that evening, or they may have formed one of those little bands that waited for the return of the procession. Will the reader please observe that number ten ? It is a favourite number in the Bible. When Abraham's servant went on his great journey, he took ten of the camels of his master (Gen_24:10). When the kinsman of Ruth desired to deal with Boaz, he took ten men of the elders of the city (Rth_4:2). The dragon in Revelation had ten horns (Rev_12:3).There were ten lepers who were cleansed by Jesus (Luk_17:12). The commandments were ten, and the talents and pounds were ten, and here our Lord says there were ten virgins. Now we are not told that these ten were good and bad; but we are told that five were wise and five were foolish, and we recall another parable where we read of a wise and of a foolish builder (Mat_7:24-27). The strange thing is that the foolish as well as the wise, here, each had her lamp, and it was burning merrily. The sad thing is that the foolish were not prepared for a quite possible, and indeed quite common, delay. The night deepened, and still there was no bridegroom. The wisest of them nodded off into sleep. Then at midnight there rang the cry, "Behold the bridegroom!" and in a twinkling every eye was open. No lamp was out, but all were going out (read verse 8 in the Revised Version). The wick even of the wise was sputtering. But then the wise had little flasks of oil with them; it was the work of a moment to trim their lamps. But the foolish had no oil, and there was none to borrow, and when they hurried out to buy it at the merchant's—can you not hear the jesting of the crows? And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came; and they that were ready went in with him to the marriage, and the door was shut.

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