Monday, March 27, 2017

Stones That Cry Out


[Photo of picking up rocks]

When he came near the place where the road goes
down the Mount of Olives, the whole crowd of
disciples began joyfully to praise God in loud
voices for all the miracles they had seen:…
Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to
Jesus, “Teacher, rebuke your disciples!”
“I tell you,” he replied, “if they keep
quiet, the stones will cry out.”
—Luke 19:37-39

I don’t know about you, but I don’t do a lot of thinking about stones. At this time of year, when I was growing up on the farm, my dad would scour the fields for stones and pile them in his barn wagon. He cleared them because of the damage they often do to the farm equipment.

But, as to the uses and symbolism of stones in the Scriptures, I have largely ignored them. Upon reading a devotional by the great 19th century preacher, Charles Haddon Spurgeon, I took another look.

Spurgeon points out that stones could testify to the wisdom and power of their Maker, who through the eons of time, brought about the beauty in them of His handiwork.

[Photo of desert hills]

The stones could cry out about the way in which His Word breaks our hearts for Him. As our Breaker, Jeremiah 23:29 reminds us:

“Is not my word like fire,” declares the Lord,” and like a hammer that breaks a rock in pieces?”

Spurgeon reminds us that the stones would cry out in praise for the way in which God as Builder polishes us as stones for a palace and puts us in place in His holy temple. Ephesians 2:22 tells us:

And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.

The stones might also cry out as memorials, as pillars of remembrance, as the early tribe of Israel did, recorded in 1 Samuel 7:12:

Then Samuel took a stone and set it up between Mizpah and Shen. He named it Ebenezer, saying, “Thus far has the Lord helped us.”

Indeed, the greatest stone to cry out may well be the stone that had been rolled in front of the tomb where they laid the body of Jesus after His crucifixion. Here, we rejoice over the stone of victory, for Jesus never let the grave hold Him. On Easter morning, He resurrected from death and lives to promise us the same living future, if we accept His gift of salvation.

Spurgeon concludes:1

Stones might well cry out, but we will not let them: we will hush their noise with ours; we will break forth into sacred song, and bless the majesty of the Most High, all our days glorifying Him who is called by Jacob the Shepherd and Stone of Israel.


1 Spurgeon, Charles Haddon, Morning and Evening. McLean, Virginia: MacDonald Publishing Company, Public Domain. p. 167.



Monday, March 20, 2017

Eyes in the Back of Your Head


[Black and White Photo of a 1950s teacher and her students]

“Therefore let him who thinks he
stands take heed lest he fall.”
—1 Corinthians 10:12 NKJV

When I entered first grade at age five, I sat in awe of my teacher, my very first. I adored her, I believed everything she told us, and I hung on her every word. From the day she told us that she had eyes in the back of her head, I watched and looked and speculated as to how that could possibly be.

It took me years to understand that we had rascals among us. And, this false assertion became her way of dealing with them. Nevertheless, it has given me a perfect example of the word “circumspect.” Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary states that word means, “look around,” or “be cautious.”

I believe Scripture uses this idea often. God wants us to “watch where we are going,” to “guard our feet.” The book of Proverbs often uses the word, “guard” to indicate our need for circumspection against sin and watchfulness against the Enemy who would hurt us.

Proverbs 4:23, tells us:

Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.

Or, read Philippians 1:9-11, from The Message, and take note of what Paul wrote to these early Christians:

So this is my prayer: that your love will flourish and that you will not only love much but well. Learn to love appropriately. You need to use your head and test your feelings so that your love is sincere and intelligent, not sentimental gush. Live a lover’s life, circumspect and exemplary, a life Jesus will be proud of: bountiful in fruits from the soul, making Jesus Christ attractive to all, getting everyone involved in the glory and praise of God.

God wants us to look around and live a life totally aware of sin that may have invaded our lives, so that we may propely deal with such sin and live as an example of Christ’s holiness to a needy world. As we move forward in our walk with Christ, pretend that you have eyes in the back of your head!



Monday, March 13, 2017

Hannah’s Gethsemane


[Photo of clasped hands]

“In bitterness of soul Hannah wept much and prayed
to the Lord… Then she went her way and ate
something, and her face was no longer downcast.”
—1 Samuel 1:10, 18

This story of Hannah in 1 Samuel tells us of a wife in a shameful position. She had no child. Not only that, but her husband had another wife who had given him sons and daughters and who tormented her with accusations. Hannah and her husband, Elkanah, made an annual trip to the tabernacle in Shiloh to offer sacrifices to the Lord.

On one occasion, Hannah could bear her pain no longer. As she wept and prayed, Eli the priest heard her and blessed her with the promise of a son. As a result of this promise, Hannah agreed to wean the baby and then bring him back to forever serve the Lord in the tabernacle.

Here’s what Beth Moore says about this story:

God had a plan. A marvelous plan. He allowed Hannah to be childless so that she would petition God for a child… He also allowed Hannah to be deeply desirous of a child so she would dedicate him entirely to the Lord. He sovereignly planned for His word to come through Eli at the temple so that she would return him to the exact place where she made the vow. Why? Because God had a plan for Samuel that was far more significant than even the most loving set of parents could devise.1

Now, how does this correspond to Jesus’ prayer in Gethsemane? I see it this way.

Most often the battle over submission to God’s will comes before the actual sacrifice such submission requires. Look at Jesus in the garden. Matthew 26:37-39 tells us:

He took Peter and the two sons of Zebedee along with him, and he began to be sorrowful and troubled...going a little further, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.”

We read that Jesus left His disciples three times and went to pray the same prayer. He struggled with the enormous sacrifice and pain He knew was coming.

After a time of extended prayer, it appears that Jesus had found peace with regard to His submission that He made to the Father. Notice what He says in Matthew 26:45-46:

“Look, the hour is near, and the Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. Rise, let us go! Here comes my betrayer.”

We see in both stories of submission to God’s perfect will the battle and the peaceful outcome. God moved on Hannah’s heart so that her love for God eclipsed her desire to hold on to her son. God moved on Jesus’ heart so that His love for God, and for us, eclipsed His fear of the pain. In both cases, God enabled them to do His will. The struggle took place long before the sacrifice.

Has God spoken to you about something He wants you to do for Him? Do you yet struggle with the difficult decision you must make to obey? Has He promised you something if you will give it back to Him—not holding onto it for your own pleasure?

For you, like Hannah and like Jesus Himself, God promises you His amazing peace and will give you all the strength and help you will need to follow whatever He asks of you. God bless you, as you submit to His wonderful plan!


1 Moore, Beth. Portraits of Devotion. Nashville:B&H Publishing Group, 2014. p. 8.



Monday, March 6, 2017

Dead Flies


[Photo of a mosaic jar]

“Dead flies putrefy the perfumer’s ointment,
and cause it to give off a foul odor.”
—Ecclesiastes 10:1 NKJV

Something ruined! And, it was something with such an intentional, pleasure-causing purpose as an expensive perfume. Now it’s ruined! And, by what? A stray fly coming in through the palace window into the boudoir of a wealthy maiden. The perfume, created with such skill by a talented apothecary expert, totally spoiled by the ugly presence of a filthy, common fly.

When compared to the witness of a fine Christian, we are reminded that even this witness can be spoiled by the entrance of a foul, habitual sin. I love the way that Charles Haddon Spurgeon puts it:

No matter though the vase be alabaster, and the perfume the most delicate, dead flies would destroy the precious nard, and even so minor faults will spoil a fine character. Rudeness, irritability, levity, parsimony [stinginess], egotism, and a thousand other injurious flies have often turned the exquisite perfume of a Christian’s life into a pestilent odor to those who were around him.1

In comparison, the Apostle Paul, in 2 Corinthians 2:14-15, expresses God’s intent for us to live in such a way so that those around us effectively “smell” the sweet aroma of Christ. He puts it like this:

But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumphal procession in Christ and through us spreads everywhere the fragrance of the knowledge of him. For we are to God the aroma of Christ among those who are perishing.

God’s intention for us, to live in such a way that we spread His Presence like a fine perfume, can be ruined by the entrance of our sinful sloppiness, as though we left the lid off the bottle of perfume and flies entered. We can only remedy this by coming to Him with confession and repentance—to receive His restoration and forgiveness—so that we can have a new start under the power of His Holy Spirit.

During this time of Lent, let us examine our lives for those “dead flies” that mix in the stench of sin with the life-giving perfume of Christ that He created us to exhibit.

May He spread abroad His love through the fragrance of our lives, purified by His precious blood.


1 Spurgeon, Charles Haddon. Spurgeon’s Devotional Bible. Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1964. p. 325.

—Posted: Monday, March 6, 2017