A Gentle Rebuke

Having prayed for the Father’s will to be done, rather than His own, Jesus arose from prayer. Mark 14:37-42 tells us what happened next: “And He cometh, and findeth them sleeping, and saith unto Peter, Simon, sleepest thou? Couldest not thou watch one hour? Watch ye and pray, lest ye enter into temptation. The spirit truly (is) ready, but the flesh (is) weak. And again He went away, and prayed, and spake the same words. And when He returned, he found them asleep again, (for their eyes were heavy), neither wist they what to answer Him. And He cometh the third time, and saith unto them, Sleep on now, and take your rest: it is enough, the hour is come; behold, the Son of man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. Rise up, let us go; lo, he that betrayeth me is at hand.” Jesus longed to have His disciples unite with Him in prayer. For whatever reason, they fell iasleep and Jesus prayed alone. Eventually, He roused them from sleep, chided them for being unable to pray one hour, and admonished them: “Watch ye and pray, lest ye enter into temptation. The spirit truly (is) ready, but the flesh (is) weak.” He went to pray again, by Himself, and returned to find them asleep once more. He again prayed alone! In words that probably never were heard, He sadly said, “Sleep on!” Somewhat after that, He awakened them and announced that His betrayal was at hand. Meditate on these stanzas from, “Alone, a hymn by Ben H. Price: “It was alone the Savior prayed in dark Gethsemane; alone He drained the bitter cup and suffered there for me. Alone upon the cross He hung that others He might save; forsaken then by God and man, alone, His life He gave. Can you reject such matchless love?  Can you His claim disown? Come, give your all in gratitude, nor leave Him thus alone. Alone, alone, He bore it all alone;  He gave Himself to save His own,  He suffered, bled and died alone, alone.” Selah! In our human ability, we are unable to truly pray. We can go through the motions (and even fall asleep) but real prayer is only possible by drawing on our Spiritual resources. Quality, not quantity, must define our prayer lives. Sometimes prayer will be brief; sometimes extended, but let’s be sure to offer quality prayer, in His strength.   Ron

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Incomprehensible Agony!

It had come very near. A horrible death was about to be inflicted on Jesus. He was born to die! He lived His thirty plus years with the awareness of the impending Cross. None of us can even begin to understand what agony of soul He suffered. There would be horrible physical pain and misery but also something far worse. He did the only thing that made it possible to go through with it; He prayed! We read about it in Mark 14:32-36. It was a time of intense prayer: “And they came to a place which was named Gethsemane: and He saith to his disciples, Sit ye here, while I shall pray. And He taketh with him Peter and James and  John, and began to be sore amazed, and to be very heavy; and saith unto them, My soul is exceeding sorrowful unto death: tarry ye here, and watch. And He went forward a little, and fell on the ground, and prayed that, if it were possible, the hour might pass from Him. And He said, Abba, Father, all things are possible unto Thee; take away this cup from Me: nevertheless not what I will, but what Thou wilt.” What He agonized over was way beyond the physical torture! He agonized over having to bear, on His Holy, pure Person, all the staggering evil and corruption of all of human sin, for the entire human race, for all of time! If He didn’t do this, the entire race would be forever separated from God! Your sin(s), my sin(s) were piled upon His being and He took the punishment that would have been ours! May our grateful determination match that of Jennie E. Hussey’s, in her hymn, “Lead Me to Calvary,” She wrote: King of my life, I crown Thee now, Thine shall the glory be: lest I forget Thy thorn crowned brow, lead me to Calvary. Lest I forget Gethsemane; lest I forget Thine agony; lest I forget Thy love for me, lead me to Calvary. Selah! May we give ourselves over to Him, Who loved us so! May we crown Him King of our lives!   Ron

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The Certain Failure of the Flesh

Peter “felt” that He would not fail to be faithful to Jesus. Even with personal danger to himself, he would stand firm; he would not flee in fear or fail to stand up for his Lord. In Mark 14:29-31, we have the record of conversation between Jesus and Peter: “But Peter said unto Him, (Jesus) Although all shall be offended, yet (will) not I. And Jesus saith unto him, Verily I say unto thee, That this day, even in this night, before the cock crow twice, thou shalt deny Me thrice. But he spake the more vehemently, If I should die with Thee, I will not deny Thee in any wise. Likewise also said they all.” They were confident in their own strength to maintain loyalty to Jesus. They soon discovered that what they thought and what they did were two different things. Only as we grow in faith, learn not to trust our human, fleshly ability and come to rely on God’s imparted strength, can we expect to stand firm in trials. God alone can provide the strength to enable us to be faithful even unto death. We don’t have that kind of strength from any human source! John E. Bode, in his hymn, “O Jesus, I Have Promised,” provides valuable insights on how to draw on God’s strength: “O Jesus, I have promised to serve Thee to the end; be Thou forever near me, my Master and my Friend; I shall not fear the battle if Thou art by my side, nor wander from the pathway if Thou wilt be my Guide. Oh, let me hear Thee speaking in accents clear and still, I dare not trust my judgment: Thy way shall be my will; Oh, speak to reassure me, to hasten or control; Oh, speak, and help me listen, Thou Guardian of my soul.  Oh, let me see Thy footprints, and in them plant mine own; my hope to follow duly is in Thy strength alone; Oh, guide me, call me, draw me, uphold me to the end; and then in Heav’n receive me, my Savior and my Friend. Selah! If God strengthens me, He receives the glory; if I try in my own strength, who do you suppose that I want to have the glory?    Ron

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Soon, Now!

Jesus’ time on earth at His first coming was almost over and He was preparing His disciples for what was about to develop. Jesus was soon to be arrested, brutally treated and killed! Mark 14:25-28 records His conversation: “Verily I say unto you, I will drink no more of the fruit of the vine, until that day that I drink it new in the kingdom of God. And when they had sung an hymn, they went out into the mount of Olives. And Jesus saith unto them, All ye shall be offended because of Me this night: for it is written, I will smite the shepherd, and the sheep shall be scattered. But after that I am risen, I will go before you into Galilee.” Jesus holds out the promise of a future time when they again will share a sacred communion supper together on the victory side of the coming sorrow. They had a hymn of praise and then left for the mount of Olives. He applied this prophecy to Himself; He, their Shepherd, was going to be smitten and they, His sheep, were going to be scattered! Those tragic hours had begun to unfold. In sharing this with His men, He pointed to a future thrilling time to come. He will return to life and greet them in Galilee. In those few words their minds are guided from tragic hours to triumphant accomplishments! Robert Lowry’s hymn, “Low in the Grave He Lay,” moves our minds and hearts from the grave to the glory: “Low in the grave He lay, Jesus my Savior, waiting the coming day, Jesus my Lord! Vainly they watch his bed, Jesus my Savior, vainly they seal the dead, Jesus my Lord! Death cannot keep its prey, Jesus my Savior; He tore the bars away, Jesus my Lord! Up from the grave He arose; with a mighty triumph o’er His foes; He arose a victor from the dark domain, and He lives forever, with His saints to reign. He arose! He arose! Hallelujah! Christ arose!” Selah! The reality of that triumph is the indwelling legacy of His victory, that has been given to all who have been born again!   Ron

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A Solemn Evening

In that upper room, Jesus shared a solemn supper with His disciples. Mark 14:22-24 gives us the record: “And as they did eat, Jesus took bread, and blessed, and brake (it,) and gave to them, and said, Take, eat: this is My body. And He took the cup, and when He had given thanks, He gave (it) to them: and they all drank of it.  And He said unto them, This is My blood of the new testament, which is shed for many.” As they took bread, Jesus used that food to represent His body being broken. He was soon to be horribly wounded for our sin(s). He was letting them know that it was going to be done. When they drank from their cups, He pointed out that it represented the pouring out, the shedding, of His precious blood to atone for sin(s). He then added that His very blood was the price of the new testament (covenant, contract, guarantee). His holy blood sealed the covenant. The price was paid; the covenant was then in force, forever! Jesus’ sacrifice provided forgiveness, cleansing, redemption, adoption, relationship, fellowship, and more. It was the ultimate, infinite, only sufficient means for our salvation. In the hymn, “When Jesus Died on Calvary, When Jesus Died,” by C. S. Hamilton, we have some of the most challenging thoughts on this sacrifice found anywhere in all of our hymns: “When on the Cross, those cruel nails gave me a Christ that never fails, a Christ from Whose wounds there came a flow that saves from sin, how much I owe! How much I owe for love divine, how much I owe that Christ is mine? But what He did for me I know I cannot tell how much I owe!” Selah! Praise God! Thanks be unto God: “The blood of Jesus reaches deeper than the stain of sin has gone!” (Source unknown).   Ron

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The Exposure

A place to meet, a large upper room, was made available to Jesus and His disciples. We have the record in Mark 14:18-21. “And as they sat and did eat, Jesus said, Verily I say unto you, One of you which eateth with Me shall betray Me. And they began to be sorrowful, and to say unto Him one by one, (Is) it I? and another (said, Is) it I? And He answered and said unto them, (It is) one of the twelve, that dippeth with Me in the dish. The Son of man indeed goeth, as it is written of Him: but woe to that man by whom the Son of man is betrayed! good were it for that man if he had never been born.” In that special private place, Jesus made a startling statement, “One of you which eateth with Me shall betray Me.” One by one, they asked Jesus if they were the one. Having cleverly concealed his treacherous heart, Judas was the only one who knew who the traitor was! These words of Jesus, “woe to that man by whom the Son of man is betrayed! good were it for that man if he had never been born,” must have struck Judas with an intense guilt! His eternal fate was sealed! What can we take from this account? It is that we can be identified with Jesus, be around Him, learn about Him, listen to Him, talk the talk, be engaged in His work and have our hearts far from Him! The “wheat and tares” look alike until the time of harvest. Let’s give Jesus our whole heart! James G. Small understood. This is clear from his hymn, “I’ve Found a Friend.” He wrote: “I’ve found a friend, O such a friend! (Christ) He loved me ere I knew Him. He drew me with the cords of love, and thus He bound me to Him; and round my heart still closely twine those ties which naught can sever, for I am His, and (Christ) He is mine, forever and forever. I’ve found a friend, O such a friend!  He bled, He died to save me; and not alone the gift of life, but His own self He gave me; naught that I have my own I call,  I hold it for the Giver; my heart, my strength, my life, my all are His, and His forever. I’ve found a friend, O such a friend! all pow’r to Him is given, to guard me on my onward course, and bring me safe to Heaven: th’eternal glories gleam afar to nerve my faint endeavor;  So now to watch, to work, to war, and then to rest forever. I’ve found a friend, O such a friend!  So kind and true and tender, so wise a counselor and guide, so mighty a defender! From Him who loves me now so well what pow’r my soul can sever? Shall life or death or earth or Hell? No, I am His forever.” Selah! Anything less than loving Him unconditionally renders us liable to betraying Him. The more time that we talk with Him and truly listen to Him, the more we will love Him!   Ron

 

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Nearing the End

Events are heating up. The end is very close! Jesus instructed His disciples to prepare a place where He could spend a little more time with them. They needed to have some idea of what was happening. Mark described this preparation in these words: “And the first day of unleavened bread, when they killed the passover, His disciples said unto Him, Where wilt Thou that we go and prepare that thou mayest eat the passover? And He sendeth forth two of His disciples, and saith unto them, Go ye into the city, and there shall meet you a man bearing a pitcher of water: follow him. And wheresoever he shall go in, say ye to the goodman of the house, The Master saith, Where is the guestchamber, where I shall eat the passover with My disciples? And he will shew you a large upper room furnished and prepared: there make ready for us. And His disciples went forth, and came into the city, and found as He had said unto them: and they made ready the passover. And in the evening He cometh with the twelve” (Mark 14:12-17). He and His were alone together and He revealed some profound Truth to them. Today, when we get alone with Him in a quiet, private place, He continues to reveal precious and important Truths from His Word. It is an unfailing reservoir of Living Water that never runs dry! Who knows how much we will learn when closeted with Him? “When storms of life are round me beating, when rough the path that I have trod, within my closet door retreating, I love to be alone with God. What though the clouds have gathered o’er me? What though I’ve passed beneath the rod? God’s perfect will there lies before me, when I am thus alone with God. ’Tis there I find new strength for duty, as o’er the sands of time I plod; I see the king in all His beauty, and when I see the moment nearing when I shall sleep beneath the sod, when time with me is disappearing, I want to be alone with God. While resting there alone with God. Alone with God, the world forbidden, alone with God, O blest retreat! Alone with God, and in Him hidden, to hold with Him communion sweet.” (From: “Alone with God” by Johnson Oatman). Selah! Only with God can we wisely live today; only with God can we be ready for tomorrow.   Ron

Questions? E-Mail me at knowingtheway1@gmail.com