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A Crown of Thorns

‘A Crown of Thorns’

Matthew 27 Verse 29

As I lay my head upon my pillow last night I could not help weeping for gratitude that my Lord has seen me safely through yet another difficult day. This week an increase of in my new pain control patches was necessary leaving me on occasions with a great deal of relief while at other times in agony beyond words. There is no quick fix to get the correct dose as a base level and it takes time for the doctors to get it right.

They have been most patient with me and very sympathetic and understanding and if they could, I am sure that they would speed things up, but that is not the way it must be. I slept like a baby last night and the measure of pain relief of body and mind this morning is simply amazing. In fact I cannot remember when I last slept as long as I did! I have often said this, but what a difference a good night’s sleep makes!

It does not matter to me how often I am in prayer throughout a day – and these days I seem to be in a perpetual state of prayer – I must close my day getting right with my God before I allow my body a night’s rest. Last night for some reason as I started to try to draw near to my God I thought of what it would be like to lead the prayer in public again.

There has been such a long time since I have been able to do this that I wondered if my format or my approach to leading others in prayer would be different. Would I have the same intimacy in public that I enjoy in private?

In public I learned to pray by following the example of others. There is no doubt that in our particular culture – in the west Highlands and Islands of Scotland - there is a prayer format that has been delivered down through the generations.  Good men from years gone by have left us a fine legacy in spiritual matters and manners.

A.C.T.S. or Acknowledgement of our Creator God; Confession of our sins; Thanksgiving for His goodness and our Supplications for others. These four ‘elements’ can be found in most public prayers in our part of the world and while my pillow prayer may be different and more personal, I still follow the ACTS format.

More and more I have been shown my own depravity and the greatness of God. Here is the way my mind and meditation opened out last night. I began to think of the numerous, amazing statements that only a ‘Born Again Christian’ can make whether it be in public or in private.

There is no soundness in me. I am corrupt from the crown of my head to the soles of my feet. I sin against You daily, I sin against Light, I am a perpetual sinner yet in spite of that You have loved me with an everlasting love!

You plucked me as a brand from the burning and changed my life forever. You gave the most precious Possession that You had, to die for me! I deserved nothing but eternal damnation and lost-ness, yet in mercy You provided a better way. You gave new life through the sacrifice of Your only Son on the Cross at Calvary.

Never have you let me down and You have never failed to listen to all my complaints and moans.

This way was not of my choosing. I could not save myself. It was planned in Eternity that I was Your child. The Creator God who upholds all things by the word of His power chose me to be part of His family before time began. God planned to save me and He has.

**There may be some who lack the comfort of being assured of their salvation. This itself is a difficult trial for any, yet the God of all grace will save all His own whether they be assured of the fact or not. Where He has begun the good work in you, He will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ. Salvation does not rely upon the strength of our faith. It is not our faith that saves, it is Christ who saves, through faith! Look to Him for your salvation and not to yourself.**

My redemption came at a price. My Creator God had to become man and die the death that I deserved before there could be any union between us. The atonement had to be perfect to satisfy divine justice. Sin, my sin had to be punished and the punishment for my sin was, according to the law – death!

He gave life to the thorns and nourished them until the time that the soldiers cut them and platted them upon His head. He gave strength to the arms that nailed His hands and feet, and power to those who lifted His cross into position. He sustained all those who passed by, and all those who heard His cries from the cross.

He experienced at least two deaths on the cross before saying, ‘It is finished!’ He, that is God manifest in the flesh, gave up the ghost. He died.  The ‘living One’ became ‘the dead One!’ No human being could take His life from Him. He had to give it up! He had to die and He had to endure the wrath and curse of God that was due to me in order that I might live!

Often I have thought of what made Him to sweat great drops of blood on the previous evening. Many have argued that it was the fear of the physical suffering that He was about to endure, but does that hold water? Well, martyrs in various ages have suffered more at the hands of their captives – physically – than Jesus did.

The thought came to me last night that it was because He was going to experience the unthinkable and the unimaginable reality that His Father would – for a time – turn His back upon Him. He would experience for the first and only time what it meant to be forsaken of God.

Am I saying then that God forsook God?

Yes.

I shake my head and wonder how I can ever doubt such Love. When I consider what has been done for me, why I am so reluctant to do anything for Him? What grief I must cause Him when I doubt!

Is there any safer place to be than in the arms of Jesus? Why then do I fear? Why do I allow the burdens of this present world to bother me so much when I am heading to a house of many mansions and the place prepared for me there? If I should live to be a hundred, and suffer all these days, what is that compared to an eternity with Christ?

I thought of what the Lord has been trying to teach me over the last few years, because I am aware of His hand in my life now more than ever before. Two things came to mind.

First – I could know Scripture inside out and repeat all passages and verse word perfect, yet if I do not put what it says into practice each day of my life then what good will it do me? I must put the knowledge of Scripture to use each day and live by faith. I confess here that my knowledge of the Scriptures is poor at best and I confess this to my shame.

The second lesson that I am acutely aware of is the determination of my Saviour for me to have a more intimate relationship with Him. It is one thing to know that He showed his love for me by dying on the cross at Calvary, it is another thing to know that He wants to show and prove His love for me each day. His death bought union, now He desires communion with the members of His family. He is persistent in drawing me into a closer walk with Himself.

‘Prove me now,’ is a word that I hear regularly in my soul. Whatever problems I may face in a day, He challenges me through these words.

‘It was not the prison life with its hard beds or poor food that tried Joseph, it was the word God had spoken into his heart as a lad concerning elevation and honour greater than his brothers were to receive. It was this that was before him, when every step in his career made it seem more and more impossible of fulfilment, until he was there imprisoned, and in all innocence, was left to languish alone.

These were hours that tried his soul, but hours of spiritual growth and development, that, ‘when His word came’ (the word of release), found him fitted for the delicate task of dealing with his wayward brethren, with a love and patience only surpassed by God Himself.’

When God has spoken of His purpose to do and has promised us something, and we find the days go on and on and He does not do it, then it is truly hard; but it is a discipline of faith that will bring us into a knowledge of God which would otherwise be impossible.

I am ashamed to admit that I let my God down daily and in every way possible. He on the other hand deals patiently and in ways that magnify unwarranted love. He is always early to show me mercy. He answers my prayers His own way and in His own time. These same answers always exceed my expectations and I hate myself for the times when I have questioned His delays.

I find myself frustrated now as I seek to commend my Saviour to you the reader. Would to God that I had the language of love that would tell of the tie that binds and of the wounds that wash me clean each day. The blood that cleanses me from all my sins leaves no stains!

When God cleans a sinner, that sinner could not be any cleaner!

Do not trust in your feelings! Trust God.

Men crowned Him with the curse of the ground, and one day He will crown us with His glory. Soon we shall meet face to face, never to be parted. There will be no sin there to corrupt my ways. There will be no more fears, no night, no storms and no more trials.

How the thought of dwelling in Immanuel’s Land lifts my soul!