Devotional Week 15 Thursday
Today’s Texts and Thoughts of Encouragement
“Be firm in faith…rooted, established, strong, immovable, and determined, knowing that the same (identical) sufferings are appointed to the whole body of Christians throughout the world. And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, Who imparts all blessing and favor, Who has called you to His own eternal glory in Christ Jesus, will Himself complete and make you what you ought to be, established and ground you securely, and strengthen and settle you.”
I Peter 5: 9, 10
“O believer…may your character not be a writing upon the sand, but an inscription upon the rock!
May your faith be no ‘baseless fabric of a vision,’ but may it be builded of material able to endure…May you be rooted and grounded in love. May your convictions be deep, your love real, your desires earnest. May your whole life be so settled and established, that all the blasts of hell, and all the storms of earth shall never be able to remove you…It is no use (however) to hope that we shall be well rooted if no rough winds pass over us. Those old gnarlings on the root of the oak tree, and those strange twistings of the branches, all tell of the many storms that have swept over it, and they are also indicators of the depth into which the roots have forced their way. So the Christian is made strong, and firmly rooted by all the trials and storms of life. Shrink not then from the tempestuous winds of trial, but take comfort, believing that by their rough disciplines God is fulfilling (His) benediction to you.”
Charles Haddon Spurgeon
Today’s Study Text:
“Then Jesus went with them (His disciples) to a place called Gethsemane, and He told His disciples, ‘sit down here while I go over yonder and pray.’”
Matthew 26: 36
“Lest I Forget” – Part 2
“Lest I Forget Gethsemane”
“All those who journey, soon or late,
Must pass within the garden’s gate;
Must kneel alone in darkness there,
And battle with some fierce despair.
God pity those who cannot say:
‘Let this cup pass,’ and cannot see
The purpose of Gethsemane.”
Ella Wheeler Wilcox
Have I found a “Gethsemane” moment in my life?
How is my Saviour showing me the purpose of the “Gethsemane” He has asked me to enter with Him?
“Sweet Eden was the arbor of delight,
Yet in its honey flowers our poison blew;
Sad Gethsemane, the bower of baleful night,
Where Christ a health of poison for us drew,
Yet all our honey in that poison grew;
So we, from sweetest flower, could suck our bane,
And Christ, from bitter venom, could again
Extract life out of death, and pleasure out of pain.”
“Jesus was in a garden, not of delights as the first Adam, in which he destroyed himself and the whole human race, but in one of agony, in which (Christ) saved the whole human race.”
“Lest I Forget Gethsemane”
The Passover meal was over. The discourse Jesus was having with His disciples was ended. As the Apostle John tells us, “Having said these things, Jesus went out with His disciples across the winter torrent of the Kidron in the ravine. There was a garden there, which He and His disciples entered.” (John 18: 1, Amplified Bible).
I’ve always been drawn to gardens. Likely it is because my grandma had a beautiful flower and vegetable garden in her back yard. I can recall as a young girl going out to pick sweet peas off her well-laid out lattice work. Grandma’s garden for me was such a relaxing place, full of beauty. Maybe you too understand the allure of a well-tended garden. I think that the reason we are somehow pulled, as with a magnet, into garden areas has to do with the fact that a “Garden” is where we were initially “planted.” In our first earthly home, where God’s children had untold joy and perfection, we find Adam and Eve tending their lush garden. That is until the blight of sin tainted that perfect home where Adam and Eve lived in peace, under the boughs of fruit-laden trees with a cushion of green foliage as the rug under their feet.
Thus, it shouldn’t surprise us to find that when Jesus came to earth to fulfill heaven’s redemptive plan, He often turned for rest and repose to a garden haven called Gethsemane.
When my husband Jim was just 21 years old, he was able to take a once-in-a-lifetime trip to the Holy Land. He saved his money for quite some time because as a young man, his spiritual desire was to see where Jesus walked. Of all the pictures, actually slides, he has shown me through the years, none made such an impression on my mind and heart as the place that today is still called Gethsemane. True, there is an iron fence and locked gate surrounding the olive trees which inhabit the region but, there’s enough of the familiar to help even a distant observer like myself, get an idea of what this treasured respite must have been like for Jesus and His closest friends.
So today, I'd like to take you on a walk out of Jerusalem toward the Mount of Olives. The path we will traverse descends from Mount Zion, across the Valley of Jehoshaphat. There the Kidron, black brook as it was called in the time of Jesus, flows. Most likely, at the time of year when Jesus and His close band of followers walked this path, they were met by swollen waters rushing through the rocky gorge. It was late at night and as Biblical scholars tell us, the time was most likely somewhere between eleven or twelve o'clock.
The words of author and pastor J.R. Macduff, about Gethsemane call out to us today: “We approach now – let it be with reverent steps the most deeply sacred of all the memories of Olivet.” And then in words which reflect his beautiful prose, author Macduff continues, “If no other spot on the Mt of Olives gathered hallowed memories, Gethsemane alone would have given Olivet peerless and undying sacredness. No locality is visited with intenser interest by the traveler in Palestine, than the cluster of venerable olive trees, with ‘their gnarled trunks and scanty foliage’ – the reputed relics of earth’s most sanctified scene of anguish and suffering.” As one German scholar penned, “Gethsemane becomes to us an Eden, and is transformed with its horrors into a peaceful retreat. Within its circuit we are safe from the judicial inquiry, ‘Adam where are you?’ In this garden, Gethsemane, flows the never-failing river of God which waters (our) new Paradise.” PRAISE GOD for the gift of our Savior, Christ Jesus, to our sin-sick world.
Just for a moment in your busy day, I invite you to walk with Jesus, step-by-step, into the darkness of Gethsemane. Kneel with Him as He prays. And most of all, tell Him how grateful you are that He entered the portal of Gethsemane to battle the prince of evil – taking your place and mine so that we too can obtain victory.
I want to share the words of an old hymn penned by James Montgomery in 1920, “Go to Dark Gethsemane”:
“Go to dark Gethsemane,
Ye that feel the tempter’s power;
Your Redeemer’s conflict see;
Watch with Him one bitter hour;
Turn not from His griefs away;
Learn of Jesus Christ to pray.”
May we never hesitate from our Saviour’s call to join Him in our own Gethsemane, no matter the suffering or pain. In the words of poet Godfrey Fox Bradby:
“Not for one hour, so much the daily task
Absorbs us, and the world fills all our mind,
Leaving no room for that which Thou dost ask:
Too busy to be indolent, to find
The path that leads to Olivet, or spare
No, not one hour; save when our heads are bowed
With our own sorrow: when the heart’s sore need
Craves comfort from Thy presence and the cloud
Hangs dark and heavy over us; then, indeed,
Oh, Saviour of the world, we turn to Thee,
To watch with us in our Gethsemane.”
“The Lord God planted a garden
In the first white days of the world,
And He set there an Angel warden
In a garment of light enfurled.
So near to the peace of Heaven
The hawk might nest with the wren,
For there in the cool of the even
God walked with the first of men
And I dream that these garden closes
With their shade and their sun-flecked sod,
And their lilies and bowers of roses
Were laid by the hand of God.
The kiss of the sun for pardon,
The song of the birds for mirth
One is nearer God’s heart in a garden
Than anywhere else on earth.
For He broke it for us in a garden
Under the olive trees
Where the angel of strength was the warden
And the soul of the world found ease.”
Dorothy Frances Gurney
The song I have chosen today is one of my favorites, written by poet and hymn-writer, Sidney Lanier. It is most familiar by the title, “Into the Woods.” But my favorite title for this beloved hymn is “The Ballad of the Trees.”
“Into the woods my Master went,
Clean forspent, forspent,
Into the woods my Master came,
Forspent with love and shame.
But the olive trees they were not blind to Him
The thorn tree had a mind to Him,
When into the woods He came.
Out of the woods my Master came
And He was well content,
Out of the woods my Master came,
Content with death and shame.
When death and shame would woo Him last,
From under the trees they drew Him last,
‘Twas on a tree they slew Him – last,
When out of the woods He came.”
Dorothy Valcárcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus