Friday, November 27, 2015

Homesickness of the Soul

George H. Morrison - Devotional Sermons

      Homesickness of the Soul
      And when he came to himself, he said, "How many hired servants of my father's have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger!'--Luk 15:17
      A Little Light on a Dark Subject
      A very fresh and delightful American writer, John Burroughs--a man who often reminds us of our own Richard Jefferies--has given us in one of his books a most illuminative and suggestive paper on Carlyle. Mr. Burroughs visited Carlyle in London--his essay is called "A Sunday in Cheyne Row"--and with great tenderness, and wisdom, and literary skill he has recorded his impressions of the visit. Now I am not going to speak of Mr. Burroughs, nor am I going to preach about Carlyle; but there was one phrase in that essay that seemed to me very memorable: "homesickness of the soul." "A kind of homesickness of the soul was on Carlyle,'' says Mr. Burroughs, "and it deepened with age."
      That, then, is the topic on which I wish to speak. My subject is the homesickness of the soul. I want to take the thought that the soul is homesick, and use it to shed a little light on dark places. Perhaps we shall proceed more comfortably together if I divide what I have to say under two heads. (1) Under this light we may view the unrest of sin. (2) Under this light we may view the craving for God.
      Under This Light We May View the Unrest of Sin
      It is notable that it was in this light that Jesus viewed it, in the crowning parable from which we have taken our text. The prodigal was an exile; he was in a far country. It was the memory of his home that filled his heart. There are conceptions of the awakened sinner that make him the prey of an angry and threatening conscience. And I know that sometimes, when a man comes to himself, he can see nothing and hear nothing in the universe but the terrors and judgments of a sovereign God. But it was not terror that smote the prodigal deep. It was home, home, home, for which his poor soul was crying. He saw the farm, bosomed among the hills, and the weary oxen coming home at eventide, and the happy circle gathered round the fire, and his father crying to heaven for the wanderer. His sorrow's crown of sorrows was remembering happier things. He came to himself, and he was homesick.
      Now I think that Jesus would have us learn from that that wickedness is not the homeland of the soul, and that all the unrest and the dissatisfaction of the wicked is just the craving of his heart for home. We were not fashioned to be at home in sin. We bear the image of God, and God is goodness. The native air of this mysterious heart is the love and purity and joy of heaven. So when a man deliberately sins, and all the time hungers for better things, it is not the hunger for an impossible ideal; it is the hunger of his soul for home. Ah! do not forget that you can satisfy that hunger instantly. Now, out of the furthest country, in a single instant of time, you may come home. We are not like the emigrant in the far west of Canada longing for Highland hills he will not see for years. God waits. Christ says, "Return this very hour." "Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow."
      In that very fascinating little volume by Charlotte Yonge, in which she narrates the history of the Moors in Spain, there are few pages more enthralling than those in which she tells the story of Abderraman. Abderraman was the first Moorish Khalif in Spain. He was an Eastern, bred by the Euphrates. There was no great beauty in the scenes where he spent his childhood. And his Spanish home, in the old city of Cordova, seems to have been a fairy palace of delight. Yet among all the groves and towers and fountains of fair Cordova, Abderraman was miserable--it was banishment. And when he got a palm tree from his Syrian home, and planted it in his Spanish garden, one of the old ballads of the Arabs tells us that he could never look at it without tears. Do you not think that the children of Cordova would mock at that? It was their home, and they were very happy. They could not understand this Oriental, unhappy and restless among the garden groves. And my point is that you will never understand the soul's unrest, amid the exquisite delights of sense and sin, unless it is hungering for another country, as Abderraman hungered for his Syrian dwelling. It is not facts, it is mysteries, that keep me from materialism. I believe in the cravings of the human heart, and they overturn a score of demonstrations. If I were a creature of a few nerves and fibbers only, I should be very happy in my Cordova. But we were made in goodness, and we were made for goodness; and the native air of the soul is love and truth; and we shall always be dissatisfied, always be homesick, if we are trying to live in any other land.

Making Straight the Crooked

By Mrs. Charles E. Cowman

      "Consider the work of God: for who can make that straight, which he hath made crooked" (Eccles. 7:13).

Often God seems to place His children in positions of profound difficulty, leading them into a wedge from which there is no escape; contriving a situation which no human judgment would have permitted, had it been previously consulted. The very cloud conducts them thither. You may be thus involved at this very hour.

It does seem perplexing and very serious to the last degree, but it is perfectly right. The issue will more than justify Him who has brought you hither. It is a platform for the display of His almighty grace and power.

He will not only deliver you; but in doing so, He will give you a lesson that you will never forget, and to which, in many a psalm and song, in after days, you will revert. You will never be able to thank God enough for having done just as He has. --Selected

"We may wait till He explains,
Because we know that Jesus reigns."

It puzzles me; but, Lord, Thou understandest,
And wilt one day explain this crooked thing.
Meanwhile, I know that it has worked out Thy best--
Its very crookedness taught me to cling.

Thou hast fenced up my ways, made my paths crooked,
To keep my wand'ring eyes fixed on Thee;
To make me what I was not, humble, patient;
To draw my heart from earthly love to Thee.

So I will thank and praise Thee for this puzzle,
And trust where I cannot understand.
Rejoicing Thou dost hold me worth such testing,
I cling the closer to Thy guiding hand.

Gladdened to Gladden

The Lesson of Love: Chapter 14 - Gladdened to Gladden

By J.R. Miller

Perhaps we do not think often enough of the responsibility of JOY. When God makes us glad the gladness is not to end with ourselves--we are to pass it on. The Lord said two things to Abraham: "I will bless you," and "You will be a blessing." The blessing was not merely for Abraham's own sake, nor was it to terminate in him. He was the custodian of this gift of God, that he in turn might give its benefits to others.

So we may ask ourselves the question, after receiving any favor or blessing from God, "What did you do for others--when you were blessed?" When we have experienced any pure, sweet joy--we need to put this question to ourselves, "What enrichment of life did you receive from your joy? What new, sweet song did you learn to sing when you were happy? What blessings of cheer did you pass to others when your heart was glad?"

For one thing, we ought to be better when God has given us joy. The joy should add to the charm and power of our personality, the strength and beauty and depth of our character. If we are not richer-hearted after God has given us some new, sweet gladness--we have failed to receive his gift aright or to get from it what he meant us to get. Whenever we have a day of radiant joy or sweet peace or blessed vision, and are not better therefor, we have missed the real object of the blessing which God intended us to get.

Our mountain-top days are not merely experiences to be enjoyed by us; the radiance should become part of our life thereafter, and the light should shine from us upon others. The object of living is not merely to be happy ourselves--but to make others happy; not only to have blessings--but to grow into lives of deeper, sweeter blessedness.

But besides being enriched ourselves by the blessings that God sends to us, besides getting new faith and hope and joy from the glimpses of heavenly beauty God gives to us along the way--these experiences should fit us to be more largely helpful to others. It goes without saying, that our faces should show it. Not many of the people one meets have really joyous faces. Too many show traces of worry and discontent. But if we have the joy of Christ in our hearts it ought to shine out. This is one of the ways we may let our light shine before men. We should remember that we are responsible for what our faces say to people. We have no right to show in our features doubt, fear, discontent, unhappiness, fretfulness, bitterness. We are not witnessing worthily for Christ--unless we are witnessing in our faces to the joy and blessing of his love.

One says that the world is a looking-glass which reflects our looks, whether they be sweet or sour. Joy in our faces, breaking into smiles--starts smiles on other faces. There is many a face which is a blessed evangel because of the love, peace, and joy which illumine it. When we sit for our picture, the photographer says, "Now look pleasant." That is well. We cannot get a picture which we will want our friends to see--unless we wear a face that is bright, cheerful, and sunny when we are sitting before the camera. Of course we want a pleasant face in a photograph. But we have no right to wear an unhappy or a clouded face anywhere. Wherever we go, if we know the love of Christ, there is a voice bidding us look pleasant. We represent Christ, and Christ's face was always a blessing. He never made anyone's burden heavier, or anyone's heart sadder, by a gloomy face. Our faces should shine with the joy of Christ, which is in our hearts.

Johnny Cash - "Ain't No Grave"

Am I My Brother’s Keeper? - Oswald Chambers

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"Am I My Brother’s Keeper?"

None of us lives to himself . . .

—Romans 14:7

Has it ever dawned on you that you are responsible spiritually to God for other people? For instance, if I allow any turning away from God in my private life, everyone around me suffers. We "sit together in the heavenly places . . ." ( Ephesians 2:6 ). "If one member suffers, all the members suffer with it . . ." ( 1 Corinthians 12:26 ). If you allow physical selfishness, mental carelessness, moral insensitivity, or spiritual weakness, everyone in contact with you will suffer. But you ask, "Who is sufficient to be able to live up to such a lofty standard?" "Our sufficiency is from God . . ." and God alone ( 2 Corinthians 3:5 ).

"You shall be witnesses to Me . . ." ( Acts 1:8 ). How many of us are willing to spend every bit of our nervous, mental, moral, and spiritual energy for Jesus Christ? That is what God means when He uses the word witness. But it takes time, so be patient with yourself. Why has God left us on the earth? Is it simply to be saved and sanctified? No, it is to be at work in service to Him.

Am I willing to be broken bread and poured-out wine for Him? Am I willing to be of no value to this age or this life except for one purpose and one alone— to be used to disciple men and women to the Lord Jesus Christ. My life of service to God is the way I say "thank you" to Him for His inexpressibly wonderful salvation. Remember, it is quite possible for God to set any of us aside if we refuse to be of service to Him— ". . . lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified" ( 1 Corinthians 9:27 ).

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And of His Fulness have all we received by C. Spurgeon

John 1:16

These words tell us that there is a fulness in Christ.

 There is a fulness of essential Deity, for in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead. 

There is a fulness of perfect manhood, for in him, bodily, that Godhead was revealed. 

There is a fulness of atoning efficacy in his blood, for the blood of Jesus Christ, his Son, cleanseth us from all sin. 

There is a fulness of justifying righteousness in his life, for there is therefore now no condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus. 

There is a fulness of divine prevalence in his plea, for He is able to save to the uttermost them that come unto God by him; seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them. 

There is a fulness of victory in his death, for through death he destroyed him that had the power of death, that is the devil. 

There is a fulness of efficacy in his resurrection from the dead, for by it we are begotten again unto a lively hope. 

There is a fulness of triumph in his ascension, for when he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and received gifts for men. 

There is a fulness of blessings of every sort and shape; a fulness of grace to pardon, of grace to regenerate, of grace to sanctify, of grace to preserve, and of grace to perfect. 

There is a fulness at all times; a fulness of comfort in affliction; a fulness of guidance in prosperity. 

A fulness of every divine attribute, of wisdom, of power, of love; a fulness which it were impossible to survey, much less to explore. It pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell. 

Oh, what a fulness must this be of which all receive! 

Fulness, indeed, must there be when the stream is always flowing, and yet the well springs up as free, as rich, as full as ever. Come, believer, and get all thy need supplied; ask largely, and thou shalt receive largely, for this fulness is inexhaustible, and is treasured up where all the needy may reach it, even in Jesus, Immanuel--God with us.

Crucified to the Religious World

“But far be it from me to glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world hath been crucified unto me, and I unto the world”.

It is interesting to notice the particular way in which the apostle speaks of the world here. That term is a very comprehensive term, and includes a very great deal. Here Paul gets right down to the spirit of the thing. You notice the context. It is well for us to take account of it. “For not even they who receive circumcision do themselves keep the law; but they desire to have you circumcised, that they may glory in your flesh” (verse 13).

What does the apostle mean? They want to say, See how many proselytes we are making! See how many followers and disciples we are getting! See how successful our movement is! See what a power we are becoming in the world! See all the marks of divine blessing resting upon us! The apostle says, That is worldliness in principle and spirit; that is the world. He sets over against this his own clear spiritual position. Do I seek glory of men? Do I seek to be well-pleasing to men? No! The world is crucified to me and I to the world. All that sort of thing does not weigh with me. What weighs with me is not whether my movement is successful, whether I am getting a lot of followers, whether there are all the manifestations outwardly of success; what weighs with me is the measure of Christ in those with whom I have to do. It is wonderful how this at the end of the letter comes right back upon these Galatians, and the whole object of the letter. We recall the words in which that object is summed up. “My little children, for whom I am again in travail, until Christ be formed in you”.

Christ formed in you, that is my concern, he says, that is what weighs with me, not extensiveness, not bigness, not popularity, not keeping in with the world so that it is said that this is a successful ministry, and a successful movement. That is worldliness. I am dead to all that. I am crucified with Christ to all that. The thing that matters is Christ, the measure of Christ in you.