Let them Go
Jesus answered . . . ‘So, if you seek me, let these men go.’
Mark, my soul, the care that Jesus displayed even in His hour of trial toward his precious sheep! The ruling passion is strong in death. He resigns Himself to the enemy, but He interposes a word of power to set His disciples free. As to Himself, like a sheep before her shearers He is dumb and opens not His mouth, but for His disciples’ sake He speaks with almighty energy. Herein is love–constant, self-forgetting, faithful love. But is there not far more here than is immediately apparent? Do we not have the very soul and spirit of the atonement in these words?The Good Shepherd lays down His life for the sheep and pleads that they must therefore go free. The Surety is bound, and justice demands that those for whom He stands as substitute should go free. In the middle of Egypt’s bondage, the voice rang out with power, “Let these men go.” Out of slavery of sin and Satan the redeemed must come. In every cell of the dungeons of Despair, the sound is echoed, “Let these men go,” and out come Despondency and Fearful. Satan hears the well-known voice and lifts his foot from the neck of the fallen; and Death hears it, and the grave opens her gates to let the dead arise.
These men go the way of progress, holiness, triumph, glory, and none shall dare to keep them from it. No lion shall hinder their progress, and no fierce opponent shall prevent them. The Lord Jesus has drawn the cruel hunters upon Himself, making the most timid of His followers to discover perfect peace in His unbounded love. The thundercloud has burst over the cross of Calvary, and the pilgrims of Zion shall never be smitten by the bolts of vengeance. Come, my heart, rejoice in the immunity that your Redeemer has secured for you, and bless His name all day and every day.
Dealing with Debt Romans 13:1-8
Every citizen has the responsibility to submit to governmental authority. Obeying the laws of the land which do
not contradict scriptural commands is an essential part of honoring the Lord. Verse 7 of today’s passage says, “Render to all what is due them.” Just as we are obligated to pay our taxes, we’re also to repay all of our debts (v. 8).
The Lord expects anyone who borrows money to be diligent about making regular repayments. By withholding what is rightfully due, we are guilty of stealing from the lender. Not only that, but we also ruin our testimony for Christ. Since the offense of defaulting on a loan is serious, we need to be diligent about getting ourselves out of debt and staying out.
Perhaps this is hitting close to home. As daunting as the task of debt reduction may seem, you are not alone. God wants you to be financially free, and He will show you the way. However, His method is usually not a fast fix, but a slow and steady approach, which will also effectively train you to avoid future debt. Confess that you haven’t been a good steward of your resources, commit to making some sacrificial changes, and consistently work toward your goal. Then watch the Lord faithfully lead you out of debt.
Does a mountain of debt seem bigger to you than almighty God? If so, your focus is on your own inabilities instead of His faithfulness. For those who turn to the Lord in genuine repentance and surrender, He’ll supply the needed resources as well as the persistence to repay what is owed.
Have I Betrayed Him?
Would you betray the son of man with a kiss?
The kisses of an enemy are deceitful. Let me be on my guard when the world puts on a loving face, for it will, if possible, betray me as it did my Master, with a kiss. Whenever a man is about to stab religion, he usually professes very great reverence for it. Let me beware of sleek-faced hypocrisy, which is assistant to heresy and infidelity. Knowing how easily the unrighteous are deceived, let me be wise as a serpent to detect and avoid the designs of the enemy. The young man, devoid of understanding, was led astray by the kiss of the strange woman: May my soul be so graciously instructed today that the seductive tones of the world may have no effect upon me. Holy Spirit, let me not, a poor frail son of man, be betrayed with a kiss!But what if I should be guilty of the same dreadful sin as Judas, that son of perdition? I have been baptized into the name of the Lord Jesus; I am a member of His visible church; I sit at the Communion table: All these are so many kisses of my lips. Am I sincere in them? If not, I am a base traitor. Do I live in the world as carelessly as others do, and yet make a profession of being a follower of Jesus? Then I am exposing my faith to ridicule and leading men to speak evil of the very name Christian.
Surely if I act inconsistently, I am a Judas, and it were better for me if I had never been born. Dare I hope that I am innocent in this matter? Then, O Lord, keep me so. O Lord, make me sincere and true. Preserve me from every false way. Never let me betray my Savior. I do love You, Lord Jesus, and though I often grieve You, I still desire to remain faithful even unto death. O God, forbid that I should be a high-sounding professor and then fall at last into the lake of fire because I betrayed my Master with a kiss.
Lighting the Fire Again Matthew 22:36-38
Let’s continue looking at the Lord’s warning to the church at Ephesus (Rev. 2:4). The Ephesians are a model of cooled-down faith. Their fervor is gone, though they’re still going through the motions of serving God and even defending the faith.
Christ’s warning to the Ephesians extends to modern-day believers whose hearts have grown cold. He looks at distracted and complacent Christians who are laboring for every reason but the right one, and He cries out, “What I want is not your empty service; I want you!”
The heart cools gradually as a person gives higher priority to other relationships and activities than to the Lord. Our enemy Satan has subtly shaped how the word “idol” is perceived. He’s limited the definition to false gods. The truth is, anything that distracts from God qualifies as an idol. For example, the god of this age is sports. So many believers know more about stats than Scripture and show more passion in the stands than in a worship service.
Returning to a life of passionate service for God begins with repentance. We must assume responsibility for drifting away from our first love. Then, we’re to put Jesus Christ back on the throne of our heart and reconnect with Him through regular prayer and Bible meditation.
God desires an intimate relationship with every believer. So let me ask you a question: Are you excited about Jesus? Our best and purest devotion will be to whatever or whomever we prioritize above all else. If that is not Jesus, repent and let Him rekindle the flame of your first love.
Heard in His Trial
He was heard because of his reverence.
How amazing is this reverence in light of the infernal suggestion that He was utterly forsaken. There may be sterner trials than this, but surely it is one of the worst to be utterly forsaken.“See,” said Satan, “you have a friend nowhere! Your Father has closed the door of His compassion against you. Not an angel in His courts will stretch out his hand to help you. All heaven is alienated from You; You are left alone. The companions from whom You have taken sweet counsel, what are they worth? Son of Mary, see there Your brother James, see there Your loved disciple John, and Your bold apostle Peter, how the cowards sleep when You are in Your sufferings! Look! You have no friend left in heaven or earth. All hell is against You. I have stirred up my infernal den. I have sent my letters throughout all regions summoning every prince of darkness to set upon You this night, and we will spare no arrows–we will use all our infernal might to overwhelm You; and what will You do, You solitary one?” In the face of his cruel trial an angel appears to strengthen Him. “He was heard because of His reverence.” He was no more alone, but heaven was with Him. Perhaps this is the reason why He came three times to His disciples.
Backwards and forwards thrice He ran,
As if He sought some help from man.
He would see for Himself whether it were really true that all men had forsaken Him. He found them all asleep; but perhaps He gained some faint comfort from the thought that they were sleeping not from treachery, but from sorrow; the spirit indeed was willing, but the flesh was weak. In that dark valley He was heard because of His reverence. Jesus was heard in His deepest trial; my soul, you shall be heard also
You will notice that Jesus did not feed the multitude. He created the food and asked his disciples to distribute it. Jesus was the chef, not the waiter at this banquet. Jesus created salvation, the only food that will feed the spiritual hunger of the world; the task of distributing the food is in the hands of his human followers.
The Priority of Relationship Revelation 2:1-7
Ephesus was the home of a tremendous ministry. Despite harsh persecution, the church planted by Paul endured opposition, spread the gospel, and was quick to challenge false prophets. But 30 years after the apostle left, John’s revelation included a stern warning for those believers.
Imagine how the words of Revelation 2 must have struck the Ephesians when they read them. After complimenting their service to the gospel, Christ said, “But I have this against you . . .” That phrase was no doubt extremely disconcerting. The Lord warned them that they had left their first love. In other words, all of their work was being done with wrong motives.
Christ called the Ephesians to remember their love for Him and their delight in His salvation. Service is no substitute for an intimate relationship, but modern believers continue to fall into this subtle trap. The commendable things that we do count for nothing unless they stem from a vibrant personal connection with God. Our work can’t be effective or fruitful unless He is in it.
In fact, God is more interested in you and your personal relationship with Him than in a thousand lifetimes of good works. He desires to be the satisfaction and delight of His children so that their service is a result of loving devotion.
There are plenty of wrong reasons to labor for the kingdom. However, God is satisfied only with service motivated by love for Him. He wants those with selfish intentions to return to their first love. In that way, hearts and minds can be renewed, and service to the Lord will be more fruitful.
His Great Agony
His sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground.
The mental pressure arising from our Lord’s struggle with temptation so forced his frame to an unnatural excitement that his pores sent forth, as it were, great drops of blood, which fell down to the ground. This proves how tremendous must have been the weight of sin, that it was able to crush the Savior to this extent! This demonstrates the mighty power of His love.It is a very helpful observation that the sap, which exudes from the tree without it being cut, is always the best. This precious camphor tree yielded sweet spices when it was wounded by the whips and pierced by the nails on the cross; but consider how it produces its best spice when there is no whip, no nail, no wound.
This presents the voluntariness of Christ’s sufferings, since without a lance the blood flowed freely. No need to put on the leech or apply the knife; it flows spontaneously. No need for the rulers to cry, “Spring up, O well”; of itself it flows in crimson torrents. When men suffer great pain of mind, the blood apparently rushes to the heart. The cheeks are pale; a fainting fit comes on; the blood has gone inward as if to nourish the inner man while passing through its trial. But look at Christ in His agony; he is so utterly oblivious of self that instead of His agony driving His blood to the heart to nourish Himself, it drives it outward falling to the ground. The agony of Christ, inasmuch as it pours Him out upon the ground, pictures the fullness of the offering that He made for men.
Can we fathom how intense the wrestling must have been through which he passed, and will we not hear its voice to us? “In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood.”1 Behold the great Apostle and High Priest of our profession, and sweat even to blood rather than yield to the great tempter of your souls.
Loving God by the Book Psalm 119:105-112The number one reason people give me for not meditating upon Scripture is that they don’t have enough time. I’ve often said that we make time for what’s important to us, and a few years back, I decided to test my theory. I photocopied the book of Philippians, cut it into sections, and taped it over the columns of my local newspaper. It took up just three columns of the front page. In other words, if you’ve read your favorite parts of the newspaper or scanned the headlines on the Internet, you could have read the book of Philippians. So don’t tell me you do not have time!
I challenge you to make time for digging into God’s Word. Open to Philippians and ask the Lord to speak to you. As you read, pray over words that the Holy Spirit draws to your attention, and “listen” for whatever the Lord wants to say to you.
Praying through a book—not verse by verse but as God lifts things off the page and into your heart—elevates spiritual life to a new level. You’ll find yourself wanting to progress past an elementary understanding of the faith, and praying the Scriptures like David, Daniel, and Paul. Moreover, you’ll desire to be obedient to what you’re reading because you are falling deeper in love with the book’s Author.
God blesses believers who keep His commands (John 14:21). The Lord loves all people, and He gives Christians special status as His sons and daughters. But those who choose to live righteously will understand more about Him and His ways. Make time to be among the favored of God
Our Savior’s Prayer
And going a little farther he fell on his face and prayed.
There are several instructive features in our Savior’s prayer in His hour of trial. It was lonely prayer. He withdrew even from His three favored disciples. Believer, be diligent in solitary prayer, especially in times of trial. Family prayer, social prayer, prayer in the church will not be sufficient; these are very precious, but the fragrance of heaven will be sweetest in your private devotions, where no ear hears but God’s.It was humble prayer. Luke says He knelt, but another evangelist says He “fell on His face.” Where, then, must be your place, you humble servant of the great Master? What dust and ashes should cover your head! Humility gives us a good foothold in prayer. There is no hope of prevailing with God unless we abase ourselves, that He may exalt us in due time.
It was filial prayer. “Abba, Father.” You will find it a stronghold in the day of trial to plead your adoption. You have no rights as a subject–you have forfeited them by your treason; but nothing can forfeit a child’s right to a father’s protection. Do not be afraid to say, “My Father, hear my cry.”
Observe that it was persevering prayer. He prayed three times. Do not stop until you prevail. Be like the importunate widow, whose continual coming earned what her first supplication could not win. Continue in prayer with a thankful heart.
Lastly, it was the prayer of resignation. “Nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.” Let it be as God wills, and God will determine for the best. Be content to leave your prayer in His hands, who knows when to give, and how to give, and what to give, and what to withhold. So pleading, earnestly, importunately, yet with humility and resignation, you will surely prevail
The Measure of Our Love John 14:15-24
As I studied today’s verses from John’s gospel, I felt convicted about falling short of Jesus’ expectations. It’s easy to say, “Lord, I adore You,” but there have been times when I’ve used those words while resisting something He was trying to impress upon my heart. The old adage is true: actions do speak louder than words.
The measure of our love is obedience to God’s commands and principles. Following His instructions is so important that Jesus stressed the point three times in today’s Bible passage (vv. 15, 21, 23). This wasn’t a new concept for the disciples either. They would have been familiar with the scriptural connection between love and obedience (Neh. 1:5; Dan. 9:4). In fact, God has always emphasized that the way to show our devotion is by doing what He says (Deut. 8:11; 10:12; 13:3-4).
I could preach a thousand sermons without loving God. Halfhearted commitment can look pretty good to others, but the Lord knows the difference. Believers may lift their hands in worship, serve vigorously, support missionaries, and even say all the right words. But unless we’re following God’s commands from His holy Word, the most we’re showing Him is lukewarm affection. Works don’t prove anything. Loving the Lord means obeying Him.
What I’m about to say might sting: if you do not obey the Word, you do not love God. The Lord told Joshua to meditate on Scripture day and night (Josh. 1:8). I’m in the Bible every day because that is the only way to stay faithful and show the Father my love.
You will be scattered, each to his own home, and will leave me alone.
Few had fellowship with the sorrows of Gethsemane. The majority of the disciples were not sufficiently advanced in grace to be admitted to behold the mysteries of the agony. Occupied with the Passover feast at their own houses, they represent the many who live upon the letter but are mere babes as to the spirit of the Gospel. To twelve, no, to only eleven the privilege was given to enter Gethsemane and see “this great sight.” Out of the eleven, eight were left at a distance; they had fellowship, but not of that intimate sort to which men greatly beloved are admitted. Only three highly favored ones could approach the veil of our Lord’s mysterious sorrow. Within that veil even they must not intrude; they remain a stone’s throw apart. He must tread the winepress alone, and of the people there must be none with Him.Peter and the two sons of Zebedee represent the few eminent, experienced saints who may be written down as “Father”; those doing business on the great waters can in some degree measure the huge Atlantic waves of their Redeemer’s passion. To some selected spirits it is given, for the good of others and to strengthen them for future, special, and tremendous conflict, to enter the inner circle and hear the pleadings of the suffering High Priest; they have fellowship with Him in his sufferings, becoming like Him in His death. Yet even these cannot penetrate the secret places of the Savior’s woe. “Thine unknown sufferings” is the remarkable expression of the Greek liturgy: There was an inner chamber in our Master’s grief, shut out from human knowledge and fellowship. There Jesus is “left alone.” Here Jesus was more than ever an “unspeakable gift!” Is not Watts right when he sings–
And all the unknown joys he gives,
Were bought with agonies unknown
Acquiring Wisdom Proverb 4:20-27
The most obvious source of godly wisdom is the Bible. You cannot think of a question or life circumstance about which God’s Word is silent. His principles for right character, conduct, and conversation apply to every situation and decision confronting human beings.
We’re all able to recall times when we didn’t respond wisely. Those incidents can be traced back to one of two possibilities—either we didn’t know a certain biblical principle or we knew the principle that applied but chose to ignore or violate it. To ensure that we’ are familiar with God’s standards and the importance of following them, we’ve got to dig into His Word.
For example, suppose that you walk into the office and a coworker verbally assaults you with undeserved blame for a costly mistake. Your flesh and the world would have you respond in kind with anger and malice. But Luke 6:27-29 offers a different approach, that might go something like this: “Is there anything else? Thank you for telling me how you feel” (spoken gently).
Knowledge comes from learning biblical principles; wisdom has to do with applying them. The Lord cautions us to keep His Word in our heart and in our heads so that we will heed His instructions (Ps. 119:11; Prov. 8:33).
Wisdom is acquired as we pursue the Christian life—absorbing Scripture, doing what it says, and observing the result, which is for our good even when consequences appear less than favorable. Special classes aren’t required; God simply wants obedient hearts and a willing spirit.
How to Obtain Blessings
. . . Strong in his faith.
Christian, take good care of your faith, for faith is the only way in which you can obtain blessings. If we want blessings from God, nothing can fetch them down but faith. Prayer cannot draw down answers from God’s throne unless it is the earnest prayer of the man who believes. Faith is the angelic messenger between the soul and the Lord Jesus in glory. Let that angel be withdrawn, we can neither send up prayer, nor receive the answers. Faith is the telegraphic wire that links earth and heaven–on which God’s messages of love fly so fast that before we call He answers, and while we are still speaking He hears us. But if that telegraphic wire of faith is snapped, how can we receive the promise? Am I in trouble? I can obtain help for trouble by faith. Am I beaten about by the enemy? My soul leans on God by faith. But take faith away–in vain I call to God. There is no road between my soul and heaven.In the deepest wintertime faith is a road on which the horses of prayer may travel–ay, and all the better for the biting frost; but blockade the road and how can we communicate with the Great King? Faith links me with divinity. Faith clothes me with the power of God. Faith engages on my side the omnipotence of Jehovah. Faith ensures every attribute of God in my defense. It helps me defy the hosts of hell. It makes me march in triumph over my enemies.
But without faith how can I receive anything from the Lord? The one who wavers–who is like a wave of the sea–should not expect to receive anything from God! So, then, Christian, pay attention to your faith; for with it you can win all things, however poor you are, but without it you can obtain nothing. “If you can! All things are possible for one who believes.”1
Pursuing Wisdom Proverb 4:5-10
We live in the “Information Age,” where news pops up on cell phones and college can be attended online. But
I’ve noticed that while there is a lot of knowledge floating around, there isn’t much wisdom. Godly wisdom is the capacity to see things from the Lord’s viewpoint and respond according to scriptural principles. You can’t instantly download that ability, but you can acquire it gradually over time.
In God’s opinion, the most valuable treasure to be had is wisdom (Prov. 8:11). Believers need His perspective and His principles to live the Christian life—that’s why acquiring wisdom is not a suggestion but a command (4:5).
Think back to stories about “Gold Fever” during the 19th-century gold rush. People risked their lives in a single-minded quest for riches. Wisdom is worth so much more than a vein of precious metal. In comparing the two, the Lord calls us to passionately pursue godly knowledge and discernment.
Proverbs 8:17 personifies wisdom, who says, “I love those who love me; and those who diligently seek me will find me.” God will see to it that believers who pursue wisdom acquire it. Moreover, when the desire of our heart is something with lasting value, we receive a bonus—knowledge, prudence, and discretion (Prov. 8:12).
The wisest man of the Bible, King Solomon, wrote that the beginning of wisdom was to acquire it (Prov. 4:7). Determine in your heart to pursue this great treasure. As you study the Word, seek the Lord’s will, and observe His principles in action, God will pour wisdom into your mind and spirit.
All in the Family
For in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith.
The fatherhood of God is common to all His children. Ah, Little-faith, you have often said, “I wish that I had the courage of Great-heart, that I could wield his sword and be as valiant as he! But, alas, I stumble at every straw, and a shadow makes me afraid.” Listen, Little-faith. Great-heart is God’s child, and you are God’s child too; and Great-heart is not one bit more God’s child than you are. Peter and Paul, the highly-favored apostles, were of the family of the Most High; and so are you also. The weak Christian is as much a child of God as the strong one.
This cov’nant stands secure,
Though earth’s old pillars bow;
The strong, the feeble, and the weak,
Are one in Jesus now.
All the names are in the same family register. One may have more grace than another, but God our heavenly Father has the same tender heart toward all. One may do more mighty works and may bring more glory to his Father, but he whose name is the least in the kingdom of heaven is as much the child of God as he who stands among the King’s mighty men. Let this cheer and comfort us when we draw near to God and say, “Our Father.”
Yet, while we are comforted by knowing this, let us not rest contented with weak faith but ask, like the apostles, to have it increased. However feeble our faith may be, if it is real faith in Christ, we shall reach heaven at last, but we shall not honor our Master much on our pilgrimage, neither shall we abound in joy and peace. If then you would live to Christ’s glory and be happy in His service, seek to be filled with the spirit of adoption more and more completely, until perfect love shall cast out fear
Expressions of Praise Psalm 34:1-3
Glorifying the Lord is not limited to worshipping in church. In fact, praise ought to permeate the believer’s life.
One obvious way that we praise the Lord is with our voice. We can either speak or sing our worship. Psalm writers put adoration into words and set their love to music. True worship also flows from the mouths of believers who are focused upon God’s attributes. They desire to honor Him because of who He is, what He has done, and what He has promised for the future.
Genuine worship allows the Lord to fill our hearts and minds with His presence. But praising the Lord with wrong motives is an empty act. For example, if we’re lifting our hands and singing loud only because doing so feels good, then what we’re after is an emotional high. That kind of selfish “praise” falls far short of heaven.
Our God is praised when we serve Him. People are created for the purpose of bringing glory and honor to His name. Therefore, nothing should limit our willingness to work for the King, particularly when we have a chance to share Him with others. Christ is honored when His followers speak boldly about His grace and His work—believers’ testimonies are an amazing form of praise that magnifies God’s name.
Jesus Christ is worth more than any treasure this world offers. Loving Him and understanding what He’s done for you should be all the motivation you need to praise Him with your life. Don’t just sing; serve His kingdom and share the gospel. Help to make God’s throne room ring with worship.
Why Are People Poor?
Remember the poor.
Why does God allow so many of His children to be poor? He could make them all rich if He pleased; He could lay bags of gold at their doors; He could send them a large annual income; or He could scatter around their houses abundance of provisions, as once he made the quails lie in heaps around the camp of Israel and rained bread out of heaven to feed them. There is no necessity that they should be poor, except that He sees it to be best. “The cattle on a thousand hills”1 are His–He could supply them; He could make the rich, the great, and the mighty bring all their power and riches to the feet of His children, for the hearts of all men are in His control.
But He does not choose to do so. He allows them to experience need; He allows them to struggle in poverty and obscurity. Why is this? There are many reasons. One is, to give us, who are favored with enough, an opportunity of showing our love to Jesus. We show our love to Christ when we sing of Him and when we pray to Him; but if there were no needy people in the world, we should lose the sweet privilege of displaying our love by ministering by our gifts to His poorer brethren. He has ordained that in this way we should prove that our love stands not only in word, but in deed and in truth. If we truly love Christ, we will care for those who are loved by Him. Those who are dear to Him will be dear to us. Let us then look upon it not as a duty but as a privilege to relieve the poor of the Lord’s flock, remembering the words of the Lord Jesus, “As you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.”2
Surely this assurance is sweet enough, and this motive strong enough to lead us to help others with a willing hand and a loving heart–recollecting that all we do for His people is graciously accepted by Christ as done to Himself.
1Psalm 50:10 2Matthew 25:40
Praising the Lamb of God Revelation 5
John’s revelation of heaven’s throne room is a striking picture of true praise. The place explodes with worship and adoration for Jesus. Those present—the elders and “myriads of myriads” of angels (v. 11)—are motivated to sing their love of Christ because they know who He is. He is the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world (v. 6; John 1:29). And He is the Lion of Judah (Rev. 5:5), the only one worthy to judge the earth and bring forth its renewal. Jesus is wonderful, and these men and created beings cannot resist saying so.
What motivates you to worship? Shouldn’t the reason for lifting hands and voices be to praise our Savior for who He is? To do that, we must take the time to know Him. Opening the Scriptures only on Sunday and praying sporadically are not enough. We have to commit ourselves to discovering Him through regular Bible study, selfless prayer, and service to His kingdom.
Once a believer has glimpsed a side of Christ’s character that is bigger and more amazing than he realized before, he yearns to know more. He hungers and thirsts for God in His life because only the Lord can satisfy (Matt. 5:6). It is in worship that the Christian’s heart is filled.
Praise is part of a cycle: learn more of God’s character, love Him more deeply, worship and serve Him better, and receive spiritual fulfillment. Amazingly, even as we are satisfied, we crave more of His presence in our life. And so we dig into His Word for more and begin the cycle again.
A Stranger With You
I am a sojourner with you.
Yes, O Lord, with You, but not to You. All my natural alienation from You, Your grace has effectually removed; and now, in fellowship with Yourself, I walk through this sinful world as a pilgrim in a foreign country. You are a stranger in Your own world. Man forgets You, dishonors You, sets up new laws and alien customs, and knows You not. When Your dear Son came unto His own, His own received Him not. He was in the world, and the world was made by Him, and the world did not recognize Him. There was never a foreigner who stood out from the inhabitants of any country as much as your beloved Son among His mother’s brethren. It is no marvel, then, if I who live the life of Jesus should be unknown and a stranger here below.Lord, I would not be a citizen where Jesus was an alien. His pierced hand has loosened the cords that once bound my soul to earth, and now I find myself a stranger in the land. My speech seems to these pagans among whom I dwell a strange tongue; my manners are singular, and my actions are outlandish. A prince would be more at home in the ghetto than I could ever be in the haunts of sinners.
But here is the sweetness of my circumstance: I am a stranger with You. You are my fellow-sufferer, my fellow-pilgrim. Oh, what joy to wander in such blessed company! My heart burns within me on the journey when You speak to me, and though I am a traveler, I am far more blessed than those who sit on thrones, and far more at home than those who live in their comfortable homes.
To me remains nor place, nor time:
My country is in every clime;
I can be calm and free from care
On any shore, since God is there.
While place we seek, or place we shun,
The soul finds happiness in none:
But with a God to guide our way,
‘Tis equal joy to go or stay.