Monday, December 04, 2006

"O for Friday! O for Friday"

Today's entry in Mike and Sharon Rusten's, The One Year Book of Christian History is so soul-stirring I'm including it in its entirety. Warning: Nesbit smells with the aroma of a true Christianity.

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"O for Friday! O for Friday! O Lord, give me patience to await thy appointed time!"

His jailers my have shaken their heads in disbelief, for Friday was the day appointed for John Nesbit's execution.

Like many other Scottish Covenanter martyrs, John Nesbit spent the last days of his life in a jail cell. What set the Covenanters apart from other condemned prisoners was how they chose to spend their final days. They worshipped the Christ whom they would soon meet face-to-face and several wrote a Last and Dying Testimony. These are the words Nesbit left for posterity:

Be not afraid at His sweet and lovely and desirable cross. For although I have not been able because of my wounds to lift up or lay down my head, but as I was helped, yet I was never in better case all my life...God has so wonderfully shined on me with the sense of His redeeming, strengthening, assisting, supporting, through-bearing, pardoning and reconciling love, grace and mercy, that my soul doth long to be freed of bodily infirmities and earthly organs, that so I may flee to His Royal palace even the Heavenly habitation of my God, where I am sure of a crown to put on my head, and a new song in my mouth, even the song of Moses and the Lamb, that so I may bless, praise, magnify and extol Him for what He hath done to me and for me. Wherefore I bid farewell to all my fellow-sufferers for the testimony of Jesus...
Farewell, my children, study holiness in all your ways, and praise the Lord for what He hath done for me, and tell all my Christian friends to praise Him on my account. Farewell, sweet Bible, and wanderings and contendings for truth. Welcome, death. Welcome, the city of my God where I shall see Him and be enabled to serve Him eternally with full freedom...But above all, welcome, welcome, welcome, our glorous and alone God, Father, Son and Holy Ghost; into Thy hands I commit my spirit for Thou art worthy. Amen.
John Nesbit's Friday was December 4, 1685. He appraoched the gallows with eyes lifted to heaven, his face shining. Then he jumped up on the scaffold and cried aloud:
My soul doth magnify the Lord! My soul doth magnify the Lord! I have longed sixteen years to seal the precious cause and interest of precious Christ with my blood. And now, now He hath answered and granted my request, and has left me no more ado but to come here and pour forth my last prayers, sing forth my last praise to Him in time on this sweet and desirable scaffold, mount that ladder, and then sing forth the praises of my glorious Redeemer, for evermore world without end.

Most of us spend our lives in denial regarding death. We think of it as something that happens to other people. We grieve when we hear of friends or relatives who have been told they are going to die. Yet we are all going to die; the only question is how soon. We may not face a martyr's death, as did John Nesbit, but unless the Lord Jesus returns first, we will all die. In light of this now is the time to prepare ourselves for death and for standing before our Maker.

You were made from dust, and to the dust you will return. Genesis 3:19

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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I would like to link your sermon with Nathan’s. Psalms 27:14 says: Wait on the Lord; be of good courage and he shall strengthen thine heart; wait I say on the Lord.

I have been around several Christians that seem to think that this means to stand still and do nothing while God works behind us somewhere in the background plugging in all the wires to make things happen. This is not the connotation in olden days. The picture is of a servant standing at the foot of the throne of his Lord – waiting with anxious anticipation to spring into action at the very utterance of his Master. I believe this is part of what Nathan was trying to get across in his message when he said to seek the Lord.

God is not behind us. As you explained, He is out in front of us guiding and preparing our hearts and minds to the moment when the subjective and the objective are merged into one thought. Only then can we receive the blessing of Himself that he has prepared for us in perfect detail.

As far as death, there is only one fear I have. When my works are tried by fire and the smoke clears, what if there is NOTHING there?! I try to live my life so that the pile of precious stones and the crown they compose are so huge, it would take a fork lift or crane to throw the crown at my Lord’s feet as a small testimony to His glory.

I take consolation in the fact that God talks a lot about nothing (120 times). Creation was made from it. But this is the greatest NOTHING of all: At the cross, I killed Jesus with my sin - brutally. Not the Jews or the Romans – ME. And the body they put into the grave is proof that I am a murderer. But on that Easter Sunday, I go to the tomb to witness the effects of my wicked deed. Then I see it – NOTHING! All evidence of my heinous crime is gone. No court in Heaven or Earth can condemn my guilty soul for my unspeakable act. HE IS ALIVE! There is no body to prove what I did and how wicked my heart is. And in that moment, when my soul realizes what has taken place, the subjective and the objective become one in His grace and are sealed in my soul by the Holy Spirit. I haven’t gotten over it yet!

When you are discouraged and you feel you are doing NOTHING for the Lord, take heart my friend. Remember that the Lord can do a lot with nothing!

What can wash away my sin? Nothing but the blood of Jesus!
What can make me whole again? Nothing but the blood of Jesus!
This is all my hope and peace. Nothing but the blood of Jesus!
This is all my righteousness. Nothing but the blood of Jesus!