SONS OF THUNDER Ye Know Not What Manner of Spirit Ye Are Of C. Doug Blair, 2012
He doesnâ€™t seem to hurry. Yet He has told us that many villages must be visited during his allotted time. Allotted? Does that mean that he foresees some abrupt end to this marvelous circuit? He leaves us most nights, from hospitable quaint home or makeshift roadside camp. It would seem that prayer is so very much more important to him than sleep. But the following day no signs of lagging or fatigue. The crowds never let up. They press in smiling; straining to hear or watch. Becoming almost rude in their eagerness At the most unpredictable times he will step off to the side, seat himself upon a wagon or boulder and tell one of his stories. Straight out of where they live. Challenging them to forgive, to share, to seek no haughty posture, to approach the Almighty as a father, involved and merciful and in the commonplace. 1
He knows the prophets, but does not swing such knowledge around as a hammer of condemnation or of authority. The bunch of us try to clear the way for him, village to village. To organize the people into manageable audiences. To keep the children’s noise at a distance. But he will not countenance the splitting off of the little ones; neither does he have any reservation that his messages are beyond them. They scramble for place in his lap, at his feet, within reach of those hands of comfort and healing, under that gaze so approving and hopeful. There have been times when we have felt the need to apply a firm hand. He is worthy of great respect, but so often he demonstrates that it is the farthest thing from his mind. Not like any of the other rabbis. Strangely, in such a posture, he tells all that the Kingdom of God has come. Not like a thunderstorm; rather like the early morning dew. Thunder. I had my day on that one. I can hardly understand what came over me and my brother. Something ignorant, imperious and indignant. Back there, one of the villages of the Samaritans. Completely rejected our offer to visit. Imagine! Making light of the Master, the God-sent mission , the Good News! At that moment, seemed like time for the rod. Like time for vindication and reprisal. Like time for fire from heaven upon the contemptuous. A short while earlier, three of us had been up on the Mount, dazed by the visit of holy men of old, hearing in our stupour the voice of God Himself, “My beloved Son. Hear him”. I still don’t know what it all meant. Jesus had called James and me the Sons of Thunder. He had said that our outburst was of a spirit completely different from His. We felt His disappointment. What can be done? What are our chances? He is so far beyond us.
Letâ€™s Put the Best Spin On It
"What is the best possible spin on the facts in your face?" That's a paraphrase of a portion of the love chapter (1 Corinthians 13:5). 5(Charity) Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; We have all heard ourselves or friends saying things like the following: "I think he has it in for me." "Was she trying to ridicule me with that remark?" "I think he misunderstood completely what I was trying to say." "Seems as if my input was ignored completely." In this world of push and shove it is apparent that we try too hard to get inside other people's heads. We are concerned about our appearance, our influence, our due respect. We remind ourselves that we have been told to be "wise as serpents and harmless as doves." But with little effort the serpent aspect takes over and we are fostering all kinds of suspicious and un-Christian thoughts. We call it "discernment" when in fact it is much more like common nastiness, posturing and slander. Down the road, in most of these situations, we will discover that there were facts unknown to us which explained away most of the difficulty. The worry and the adrenaline were wasted. It would have been wiser to "put the best possible spin on the facts in your face." To regard the other person's situation or intent charitably, sympathetically. "Love never fails." 3
The struggle, after all, is motivated by that dark horse called pride. He whispers in one's ear, "You shouldn't have to put up with this. You deserve better. Don't let him get the upper hand. The nerve of him, after all!"
Dry Spell Ended
Night wind; Leaves talking In excitement. Sheet lightning Registering Silently on the sheers. Then grumblings Like sixteen gauge Steel shaken. The perfunctory Light. The arresting clap Almost immediately Behind. God shouting Gloriously, â€œYou see, Anytime I want, This happens.â€? Then hours of Quenching hiss. As greening returns. Robins hit the lawns. Farmers stand out 4
In the drench. Hot City sighs.
He Remembers It All and Loves Isaiah 43: 1But now thus saith the LORD that created thee, O Jacob, and he that formed thee, O Israel, Fear not: for I have redeemed thee, I have called thee by thy name; thou art mine. 2When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee. 3For I am the LORD thy God, the Holy One of Israel, thy Saviour: I gave Egypt for thy ransom, Ethiopia and Seba for thee. My wife got this scripture with particular force recently. It has always comforted us to see how God remembers the man as "cheat" and as "prevailing prince", for these are the meanings of the two names Jacob and Israel. Could it be that the Lord foresaw the patriarch in both of these dispositions. First as the scheming manipulator who robbed his brother Esau of rights of primogeniture, and robbed his future father-in-law Laban of flocks. Next He saw the vulnerable man wrestling with the angel 'til break of day and refusing to let go until the angel had given his name and visit's purpose and personal blessing.
God now speaks of both men, the same man, in endearing terms of love and support. Past shortcomings are not mentioned. It is the future...the future, which matters. The true Israel of God. A new man inherits this future. He takes with him thankfully a remembrance in his limping leg, the leg wounded by the angel in the night of his change. In a fallen world the Lord cannot guarantee an easy ride. There will be, however, a "coming through". Galatians 6: 15For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature. 16And as many as walk according to this rule, peace be on them, and mercy, and upon the Israel of God.
Settle the Account A work of wickedness I wrought In yesterdayâ€™s weak hour. Oh Lord, I thought the blood had bought My life from sinâ€™s rank power! The test had come quite suddenly, When I was tired and strained From toil of day and working-place And thoughts of you had waned. A bitter word cut to my heart And ruffled up my pride; 6
Retorting with a hateful tongue, I grieved Christ crucified. I have no peace within my soul. Can such a one be saved? I have to let the flesh-fire go, For Lord, ‘tis you I crave. Yes, something festers deep within, The pain of sin concealed. The foul infection of my wrong Must now be lanced and healed. I thought that life could just go on, And time would mend the wrong; But in my quiet hours alone The guilt is just prolonged. And so, I come to you in prayer, To settle these arrears. To find your sweet forgiveness there, But first, the salt and tears… Then with a sense of grace renewed, The Spirit’s job well done. I’ll seek the brother once aggrieved, And magnify your Son. Yes, to the one whom Satan used, So each misunderstood, I will repair and make amends And heal the hurt with good. I sense from this experience Of sin, and of reunion, 7
The blessings of confession’s work To maintain sweet communion. I know not if that sin had meant A threat to my salvation. I only know your smile removed Was hellish condemnation! And this must be an aspect of One’s walking in the Spirit. To sense each act that grieves you, Lord, Then instantly to clear it. ‘Tis not as if I have to sin A little more each day. In fact, you bring more antidote Directly, as I pray. But prayer can only please you, Lord, If bathed in Jesus’ blood. And thus, the crimson power proves My ever-cleansing flood.
Such Relief Psalm 32 1 Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. 2 Blessed is the man unto whom the Lord imputeth not iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no guile. 3 When I kept silence, my bones waxed old through my roaring all the day long. 4 For day and night thy hand was heavy upon me: my moisture is turned into the drought of summer. Selah. 5 I acknowledge my sin unto thee, and mine iniquity have I not hid. I said, I will confess my transgressions unto the Lord; and thou forgavest the iniquity of my sin. Selah. This is called a maschil or teaching psalm. David has learned the lesson of repentance and of his God’s readiness to forgive. He desires to share this liberating principle with all listeners. You cannot pull one over on God. He knows all. He will apply the mercy of conviction. Yes, I called it a mercy. For a significant period of time David had hidden the truth about his sorry and illegitimate relationship with Bathsheba; the conspiracy to kill her husband; the hasty marriage; the birth of the illegitimate child. These were no small sins committed by the “sweet singer of Israel”. The prophet Nathan finally blew the whistle on this deception. The tearful words of Psalm 51 followed, and now David wishes to share the joy of relief and reconciliation with Jehovah. Note that he finds it possible to say that in his spirit there is no longer any guile (deception, duplicity, pretension).
At the beginning he speaks of the sin being “covered”. (Propitiation had been taught by Moses as sacrificial blood was used to cover the instruments of the tabernacle and the priests.) In consequence the Lord did not impute, reckon or calculate the iniquity to his account. Free indeed by the process of breaking, heartfelt repentance and blood. This is the experience of every person who bows at the foot of Calvary’s cross, reverencing the shed blood of Jesus and confessing personal unworthiness to a most holy and most merciful God.