Friday, 25 January 2013


"Come unto me, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; and ye shall find rest to your souls -MATT.11:28-29

REST for the soul: Such was the first promise with which the Saviour sought to win the heavy-laden sinner. Simple though it appears, the promise is indeed as large and comprehensive as can be found. Rest for the soul--does it not imply deliverance from every fear, the supply of every want, the fulfilment of every desire? And now nothing less than this is the prize with which the Saviour woos back the wandering one--who is mourning that the rest has not been so abiding or so full as it had hoped--to come back and abide in Him. Nothing but this was the reason that the rest has either not been found, or, if found, has been disturbed or lost again: you did not abide with, you did not abide in Him.

Have you ever noticed how, in the original invitation of the Saviour to come to Him, the promise of rest was repeated twice, with such a variation in the conditions as might have suggested that abiding rest could only be found in abiding nearness. First the Saviour says, "Come unto me, and I will give you rest"; the very moment you come, and believe, I will give you rest--the rest of pardon and acceptance--the rest in my love. But we know that all that God bestows needs time to become fully our own; it must be held fast, and appropriated, and assimilated into our inmost being; without this not even Christ's giving can make it our very own, in full experience and enjoyment. And so the Saviour repeats His promise, in words which clearly speak not so much of the initial rest with which He welcomes the weary one who comes, but of the deeper and personally appropriated rest of the soul that abides with Him. He now not only says, "Come unto me," but "Take my yoke upon you and learn of me"; become my scholars, yield ourselves to my training, submit in all things to my will, let your whole life be one with mine--in other words, Abide in me. And then He adds, not only, "I will give," but "ye shall find rest to your souls." The rest He gave at coming will become something you have really found and made your very own--the deeper the abiding rest which comes from longer acquaintance and closer fellowship, from entire surrender and deeper sympathy. "Take my yoke, and learn of me," "Abide in me"--this is the path to abiding rest.

Do not these words of the Saviour discover what you have perhaps often sought in vain to know, how it is that the rest you at times enjoy is so often lost. It must have been this: you had not understood how entire surrender to Jesus is the secret of perfect rest. Giving up one's whole life to Him, for Him alone to rule and order it; taking up His yoke, and submitting to be led and taught, to learn of Him; abiding in Him, to be and do only what He wills--these are the conditions of discipleship without which there can be no thought of maintaining the rest that was bestowed on first coming to Christ. The rest is in Christ, and not something He gives apart from Himself, and so it is only in having Him that the rest can really be kept and enjoyed.

It is because so many a young believer fails to lay hold of this truth that the rest so speedily passes away. With some it is that they really did not know; they were never taught how Jesus claims the undivided allegiance of the whole heart and life; how there is not a spot in the whole of life over which He does not wish to reign; how in the very least things His disciples must only seek to please Him. They did not know how entire the consecration was that Jesus claimed. With others, who had some idea of what a very holy life a Christian ought to lead, the mistake was a different one: they could not believe such a life to be a possible attainment. Taking, and bearing, and never for a moment laying aside the yoke of Jesus, appeared to them to require such a strain of effort, and such an amount of goodness, as to be altogether beyond their reach. The very idea of always, all the day, abiding in Jesus, was too high--something they might attain to after a life of holiness and growth, but certainly not what a feeble beginner was to start with. They did not know how, when Jesus said, "My yoke is easy," He spoke the truth; how just the yoke gives the rest, because the moment the soul yields itself to obey, the Lord Himself gives the strength and joy to do it. They did not notice how, when He said, "Learn of me," He added, "I am meek and lowly in heart," to assure them that His gentleness would meet their every need, and bear them as a mother bears her feeble child. Oh, they did not know that when He said, "Abide in me," He only asked the surrender to Himself, His almighty love would hold them fast, and keep and bless them. And so, as some had erred from the want of full consecration, so these failed because they did not fully trust. These two, consecration and faith, are the essential elements of the Christian life--the giving up all to Jesus, the receiving all from Jesus. They are implied in each other; they are united in the one word--surrender. A full surrender is to obey as well as to trust, to trust as well as to obey.

With such misunderstanding at the outset, it is no wonder that the disciple life was not one of such joy or strength as had been hoped. In some things you were led into sin without knowing it, because you had not learned how wholly Jesus wanted to rule you, and how you could not keep right for a moment unless you had Him very near you. In other things you knew what sin was, but had not the power to conquer, because you did not know or believe how entirely Jesus would take charge of you to keep and to help you. Either way, it was not long before the bright joy of your first love was lost, and your path, instead of being like the path of the just, shining more and more unto the perfect day, became like Israel's wandering in the desert--ever on the way, never very far, and yet always coming short of the promised rest. Weary soul, since so many years driven to and fro like the panting hart, O come and learn this day the lesson that there is a spot where safety and victory, where peace and rest, are always sure, and that that spot is always open to thee--the heart of Jesus.

But, alas! I hear someone say, it is just this abiding in Jesus, always bearing His yoke, to learn of Him, that is so difficult, and the very effort to attain to this often disturbs the rest even more than sin or the world. What a mistake to speak thus, and yet how often the words are heard! Does it weary the traveller to rest in the house or on the bed where he seeks repose from his fatigue? Or is it a labour to a little child to rest in its mother's arms? Is it not the house that keeps the traveller within its shelter? do not the arms of the mother sustain and keep the little one? And so it is with Jesus. The soul has but to yield itself to Him, to be still and rest in the confidence that His love has undertaken, and that His faithfulness will perform, the work of keeping it safe in the shelter of His bosom. Oh, it is because the blessing is so great that our little hearts cannot rise to apprehend it; it is as if we cannot believe that Christ, the Almighty One, will in very deed teach and keep us all the day. And yet this is just what He has promised, for without this He cannot really give us rest. It is as our heart takes in this truth that, when He says, "Abide in me," "Learn of me," He really means it, and that it is His own work to keep us abiding when we yield ourselves to Him, that we shall venture to cast ourselves into the arms of His love, and abandon ourselves to His blessed keeping. It is not the yoke, but resistance to the yoke, that makes the difficulty; the whole-hearted surrender to Jesus, as at once our Master and our Keeper, finds and secures the rest.

Come, my brother, and let us this very day commence to accept the word of Jesus in all simplicity. It is a distinct command this: "Take my yoke, and learn of me, " "Abide in me. " A command has to be obeyed. The obedient scholar asks no questions about possibilities or results; he accepts every order in the confidence that his teacher has provided for all that is needed. The power and the perseverance to abide in the rest, and the blessing in abiding--it belongs to the Saviour to see to this; 'tis mine to obey, 'tis His to provide. Let us this day in immediate obedience accept the command, and answer boldly, "Saviour, I abide in Thee. At Thy bidding I take Thy yoke; I undertake the duty without delay; I abide in Thee." Let each consciousness of failure only give new urgency to the command, and teach us to listen more earnestly than ever till the Spirit again give us to hear the voice of Jesus saying, with a love and authority that inspire both hope and obedience, "Child, abide in me." That word, listened to as coming from Himself, will be an end of all doubting--a divine promise of what shall surely be granted. And with ever-increasing simplicity its meaning will be interpreted. Abiding in Jesus is nothing but the giving up of oneself to be ruled and taught and led, and so resting in the arms of Everlasting Love.

Blessed rest! the fruit and the foretaste and the fellowship of God's own rest! found of them who thus come to Jesus to abide in Him. It is the peace of God, the great calm of the eternal world, that passeth all understanding, and that keeps the heart and mind. With this grace secured, we have strength for every duty, courage for every struggle, a blessing in every cross, and the joy of life eternal in death itself.

O my Saviour! if ever my heart should doubt or fear again, as if the blessing were too great to expect, or too high to attain, let me hear Thy voice to quicken my faith and obedience: "Abide in me"; "Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; ye shall find rest to your souls."

Tuesday, 22 January 2013


This piece of writing is from the pen of the South African Andrew Murray who was one of the greatest spiritual writers of the last 200 years (9 May 1828 – 18 January 1917).It is taken from the preface of his book of daily readings entitled 'Abide in me'.AK

"Come unto me."--MATT.11:28

"Abide in me."--JOHN 15:4

IT IS to you who have heard and hearkened to the call, "Come unto me," that this new invitation comes, "Abide in me." The message comes from the same loving Saviour. You doubtless have never regretted having come at His call. You experienced that His word was truth; all His promises He fulfilled; He made you partakers of the blessings and the joy of His love. Was not His welcome most hearty, His pardon full and free, His love most sweet and precious? You more than once, at your first coming to Him, had reason to say, "The half was not told me."

And yet you have had to complain of disappointment: as time went on, your expectations were not realized. The blessings you once enjoyed were lost; the love and joy of your first meeting with your Saviour, instead of deepening, have become faint and feeble. And often you have wondered what the reason could be, that with such a Saviour, so mighty and so loving, your experience of salvation should not have been a fuller one.

The answer is very simple. You wandered from Him. The blessings He bestows are all connected with His "Come to ME," and are only to be enjoyed in close fellowship with Himself. You either did not fully understand, or did not rightly remember, that the call meant, "Come to me to stay with me." And yet this was in very deed His object and purpose when first He called you to Himself. It was not to refresh you for a few short hours after your conversion with the joy of His love and deliverance, and then to send you forth to wander in sadness and sin. He had destined you to something better than a short-lived blessedness, to be enjoyed only in times of special earnestness and prayer, and then to pass away, as you had to return to those duties in which far the greater part of life has to be spent. No, indeed; He had prepared for you an abiding dwelling with Himself, where your whole life and every moment of it might be spent, where the work of your daily life might be done, and where all the while you might be enjoying unbroken communion with Himself. It was even this He meant when to that first word, "Come to me," He added this, "Abide in me." As earnest and faithful, as loving and tender, as the compassion that breathed in that blessed "Come," was the grace that added this no less blessed "Abide." As mighty as the attraction with which that first word drew you, were the bonds with which this second, had you but listened to it, would have kept you. And as great as were the blessings with which that coming was rewarded, so large, yea, and much greater, were the treasures to which that abiding would have given you access.

And observe especially, it was not that He said, "Come to me and abide with me," but, "Abide in me." The intercourse was not only to be unbroken, but most intimate and complete. He opened His arms, to press you to His bosom; He opened His heart, to welcome you there; He opened up all His divine fulness of life and love, and offered to take you up into its fellowship, to make you wholly one with Himself. There was a depth of meaning you cannot yet realize in His words: "Abide IN ME."

And with no less earnestness than He had cried, "Come to me," did He plead, had you but noticed it, "Abide in me." By every motive that had induced you to come, did He beseech you to abide. Was it the fear of sin and its curse that first drew you? the pardon you received on first coming could, with all the blessings flowing from it, only be confirmed and fully enjoyed on abiding in Him. Was it the longing to know and enjoy the Infinite Love that was calling you? the first coming gave but single drops to taste--'tis only the abiding that can really satisfy the thirsty soul, and give to drink of the rivers of pleasure that are at His right hand. Was it the weary longing to be made free from the bondage of sin, to become pure and holy, and so to find rest, the rest of God for the soul? this too can only be realized as you abide in Him--only abiding in Jesus gives rest in Him. Or if it was the hope of an inheritance in glory, and an everlasting home in the presence of the Infinite One: the true preparation for this,as well as its blessed foretaste in this life, are granted only to those who abide in Him. In very truth, there is nothing that moved you to come, that does not plead with thousandfold greater force: "Abide in Him." You did well to come; you do better to abide. Who would, after seeking the King's palace, be content to stand in the door, when he is invited in to dwell in the King's presence, and share with Him in all the glory of His royal life? Oh, let us enter in and abide, and enjoy to the full all the rich supply His wondrous love hath prepared for us!

And yet I fear that there are many who have indeed come to Jesus, and who yet have mournfully to confess that they know but little of this blessed abiding in Him. With some the reason is, that they never fully understood that this was the meaning of the Saviour's call. With others, that though they heard the word, they did not know that such a life of abiding fellowship was possible, and indeed within their reach. Others will say that, though they did believe that such a life was possible, and seek after it, they have never yet succeeded discovering the secret of its attainment. And others, again, alas! will confess that it is their own unfaithfulness that has kept them from the enjoyment of the blessing. When the Saviour would have kept them, they were not found ready to stay; they were not prepared to give up everything, and always, only, wholly to abide in Jesus.

To all such I come now in the name of Jesus, their Redeemer and mine, with the blessed message: "Abide in me." In His name I invite them to come, and for a season meditate with me daily on its meaning, its lessons, its claims, and its promises. I know how many, and, to the young believer, how difficult, the questions are which suggest themselves in connection with it. There is especially the question, with its various aspects, to the possibility, in the midst of wearying work and continual distraction, of keeping up, or rather being kept in, the abiding communion. I do not undertake to remove all difficulties; this Jesus Christ Himself alone must do by His Holy Spirit. But what I would fain by the grace of God be permitted to do is, to repeat day by day the Master's blessed command, "Abide in me," until it enter the heart and find a place there, no more to be forgotten or neglected. I would fain that in the light of Holy Scripture we should Meditate on its meaning, until the understanding, that gate to the heart, opens to apprehend something of what it offers and expects. So we shall discover the means of its attainment, and learn to know what keeps us from it, and what can help us to it. So we shall feel its claims, and be compelled to acknowledge that there can be no true allegiance to our King without simply and heartily accepting this one, too, of His commands. So we shall gaze on its blessedness, until desire be inflamed, and the will with all its energies be roused to claim and possess the unspeakable blessing.

Come, my brethren, and let us day by day set ourselves at His feet, and meditate on this word of His, with an eye fixed on Him alone. Let us set ourselves in quiet trust before Him, waiting to hear His holy voice--the still small voice that is mightier than the storm that rends the rocks--breathing its quickening spirit within us, as He speaks: "Abide in me." The soul that truly hears Jesus Himself speak the word, receives with the word the power to accept and to hold the blessing He offers.

And it may please Thee, blessed Saviour, indeed, to speak to us; let each of us hear Thy blessed voice. May the feeling of our deep need, and the faith of Thy wondrous love, combined with the sight of the wonderfully blessed life Thou art waiting to bestow upon us, constrain us to listen and to obey, as often as Thou speakest: "Abide in me." Let day by day the answer from our heart be clearer and fuller: "Blessed Saviour, I do abide in Thee. "

Rev. Andrew Murray

Monday, 7 January 2013

The Greatest Carol Of All! But what does ‘Hark the herald angels sing’ actually mean?

The carol known as ‘Hark the herald angels sing’ though originally written by Charles Wesley and published in 1739 about a year after his conversion experience arrived in its current form only after changes were made to it by at least for people including the famous George Whitfield. It was also the hymn which I think was significant, sung at the end of the great Christmas movie ‘It’s a wonderful life’. Remember when all George Baily’s friends came in at the end to bail him out as he had bailed out many before him. Here in this hymn we see God’s rescue plan to redeem and bail out all of humankind.

Like all Wesley’s hymns they are all theological based having important truths in them that can feed our souls and give us spiritual life. The hymn is based round the story of the Angels who spoke to the shepherds while they were looking after their sheep from the wolves and predators that would have inhabited the countryside. Their words were

“Don't be afraid! I am here with good news for you, which will bring great joy to all the people. 11 This very day in David's town your Savior was born—Christ the Lord! 12 And this is what will prove it to you: you will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”13 Suddenly a great army of heaven's angels appeared with the angel, singing praises to God:14 “Glory to God in the highest heaven,and peace on earth to those with whom he is pleased

Hence Wesley in the hymn writes :

'Hark! The herald angels sing',
Hark means to ‘listen up’ or ‘hearke’n to what they are saying. Or in Belfast Will ya listen ta me!

When it says the ‘herald angels’ it simply means the angels who are proclaiming or heralding the message of good news.Which was “Glory to the newborn King’ , but it was not just an ordinary king but a very special one.
Now when it says ‘
Peace on earth, and mercy mild,
God and sinners reconciled!”
It means there is the potential for this for peace and mercy. Christ’s death does not automatically bring peace and mercy for all and make God and sinners reconciled. As the angel declares later ‘ peace on earth to those whom he is pleased. That is those who respond to the new born Messiah and follow his ways.

As Paul wrote to the Romans Christians some forty years after this event on the Judean countryside
Now that we have been put right with God through faith, we have[a] peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. 2 He has brought us by faith into this experience of God's grace, in which we now live.

And again

For when we were still helpless, Christ died for the wicked at the time that God chose. 7 It is a difficult thing for someone to die for a righteous person. It may even be that someone might dare to die for a good person. 8 But God has shown us how much he loves us—it was while we were still sinners that Christ died for us! 9 By his blood[d] we are now put right with God; how much more, then, will we be saved by him from God's anger! 10 We were God's enemies, but he made us his friends through the death of his Son. Now that we are God's friends, how much more will we be saved by Christ's life! 11 But that is not all; we rejoice because of what God has done through our Lord Jesus Christ, who has now made us God's friends.

The angels here are proclaiming what the new born King can do if we are wise and follow him - if we put our faith in him. The message was in fact not only for the shepherds or the Jews but all the nations, as the writer joyfully invites all nations to join with him:

Joyful, all ye nations rise,

Join the triumph of the skies;

With th’angelic host proclaim,

“Christ is born in Bethlehem

The second verse then speaks of Christ being the eternal or everlasting Lord. He didn’t just appear two thousand years ago but has existed before time in eternity having no beginning or end! Christ was not merely an angel but was

‘by highest Heav’n adored he was

Christ the everlasting Lord;

He was the Lord God.Yet as the Lord of glory he left that glorious home to come to earth. AS another hymn states:

He held the highest place above,

Adored by all the sons of flame,

Yet such His self-denying love,

He laid aside His crown and came

To seek the lost,

And at the cost

Of heavenly rank and earthly fame

He sought me -- Blessed be His name!

And in seeking the lost he became a human baby

'If GOD became man THEN what would He be like?" Or "Did Jesus possess the attributes of GOD? To begin to answer this question we must first answer another question, namely, why would GOD become man? We will use an ant illustration. Imagine you are watching a farmer plow a field. You notice an ant hill will be plowed under by the farmer on his next time around. Because you are an ant lover, you run to the ant hill to warn them. First you shout to them the impending danger, but they continue with their work. You then try sign language and finally resort to everything you can think of, but nothing works. Why? Because you are not communicating with them. What is the best way to communicate with them? Only by becoming an ant can you communicate with them so they will understand. '

Now, if GOD wanted to communicate with us, what would be the best way? We see that in order for Him to communicate with us, He could best do so by becoming a man and thus, reach us directly.

In the third verse the writer notes :

'Late in time, behold Him come,'
As far back as the beginning of the Bible in Genesis 3.15 it was prophesied that Eve’s seed would come and defeat Satan even though Satan would bruise her seed with her seed being Christ. This was speaking of Satan’s defeat on the cross and the suffering that Christ would undergo.

15 I will make you and the woman hate each other; her offspring and yours will always be enemies. Her offspring will crush your head, and you will bite her offspring's[heel.”

Then the writer speaks of the babe’s supernatural birth. The child was not born the normal way between a male and a female but as Luke records ‘ the power of the most high would overshadowed the virgin Mary :it would indeed be an

Offspring of a virgin’s womb.

and Veiled in flesh (which was the little babe)we would the Godhead see;

Then we have the triumphant praise:

Hail th’incarnate Deity, Which means praise to God who has come in flesh He was both God and man. The new born was deity in humanity.
He was not forced to come by his Father but he was pleased with us in flesh to dwell, ( he became human and could now sympathise with our weakness

 Jesus our Emmanuel. means 'God with us'

The Son of God did not stay in the safe immunity of his heaven, remote from human sin and tragedy. He actually entered our world. He emptied himself of his glory and humbled himself to serve. He took our nature, lived our life, endured our temptations, experienced our sorrows, felt our hurts, bore our sins and died our death. He penetrated deeply into our humanness. He never stayed aloof from the people he might have been expected to avoid. He made friends with the dropouts of society. He even touched untouchables. He could not have become more one with us than he did. It was the total identification of love. John Stott

The final verse is one of praise

Hail the heav’nly Prince of Peace!

Hail the Sun of Righteousness!

To hail is to cheer, salute, or greet; welcome. to acclaim or approve enthusiastically

Prince of peace is first mentioned in Isaiah and as one who would bring peace between God and man and grant peace in the hearts who those who put their trust in Christ.

The Sun of Righteousness is mentioned in Malachi and speaks of Jesus being like the ‘sun’ from which all light and life comes.

Hail the heav’nly Prince of Peace!

Hail the Sun of Righteousness!

From that Sun

Light and life to all He brings,

As the natural sunlight brings healing to physical wounds and many depressed states so exposure to Jesus the Sun of Righteousness can bring healing and life to the wounded soul.

As the writer declares

Risen with healing in His wings.

Then the hymn speaks of how Jesus didn’t make a fuss of leaving aside his glory by first becoming baby , then a child, then a man and finally an the sin sacrifice for us all

Mild He lays His glory by,

Why ?

Born that man no more may die. – because of his birth we would not have to undergo spiritual or eternal death he would take away the sting of spiritual death because as Hebrews states ‘ he came to destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil"

Born to raise the sons of earth,

I like this ‘born to raise the sons of earth.’ It could refer to the resurrection though should not be limited to it. In experience I have seen people who have come to faith being raised in different ways including spiritually, emotionally, physically, materially and even intellectually. By becoming children of God this would not be uncommon as Jesus declared: ‘I have come that you might have life and life in all its fullness.’

Charles and John Wesley would have also seen this in their ministries as they reached out to the very poor working classes. He makes us better people with the goal of making us like Christ.
The line :
Born to give them second birth speaks of the new birth, the new life that he can give us by his spirit. A clean slate where we become babes in Christ and start to grow spiritually with Christ.

This is a great hymn at Christmas but actually there are a few more verses that never made it into many of the hymn books but are really very good and full of great theological truth which I’ll read now.

Speaking to Christ the writer then prays for all of us that God will bring about his work in our lives

Come, Desire of nations, come,

Fix in us Thy humble home;

Rise, the woman’s conqu’ring Seed,

Bruise in us the serpent’s head.

Now display Thy saving power,

Ruined nature now restore;

Now in mystic union join

Thine to ours, and ours to Thine.

Adam’s likeness, Lord, remove,

Stamp Thine image in its place:

Second Adam from above,

Reinstate us in Thy love.

Let us Thee, though lost, regain,

Thee, the Life, the inner man:

O, to all Thyself impart,

Formed in each believing heart.