Set loose by earthly things

Photo by Chris Combe

“Man … is of few days, and full of trouble.”
Job 14:1

It may be of great service to us, before we fall asleep, to remember this mournful fact, for it may lead us to set loose by earthly things. There is nothing very pleasant in the recollection that we are not above the shafts of adversity, but it may humble us and prevent our boasting like the Psalmist in our morning’s portion. “My mountain standeth firm: I shall never be moved.” (Psalm 30:6) It may stay us from taking too deep root in this soil from which we are so soon to be transplanted into the heavenly garden. Let us recollect the frail tenure upon which we hold our temporal mercies. If we would remember that all the trees of earth are marked for the woodman’s axe, we should not be so ready to build our nests in them. We should love, but we should love with the love which expects death, and which reckons upon separations. Our dear relations are but loaned to us, and the hour when we must return them to the lender’s hand may be even at the door. The like is certainly true of our worldly goods. Do not riches take to themselves wings and fly away? Our health is equally precarious. Frail flowers of the field, we must not reckon upon blooming forever. There is a time appointed for weakness and sickness, when we shall have to glorify God by suffering, and not by earnest activity. There is no single point in which we can hope to escape from the sharp arrows of affliction; out of our few days there is not one secure from sorrow. Man’s life is a cask full of bitter wine; he who looks for joy in it had better seek for honey in an ocean of brine. Beloved reader, set not your affections upon things of earth: but seek those things which are above, for here the moth devoureth, and the thief breaketh through, but there all joys are perpetual and eternal. The path of trouble is the way home. Lord, make this thought a pillow for many a weary head!

Charles H. Spurgeon
Morning and Evening Devotional

4 Responses to Set loose by earthly things

  1. These are very welcome thoughts – peaceful, really.

    • Chris says:

      Indeed, Marianne. Mr. Spurgeon had a very good understanding of truth, I think. He was also gifted in his way with words, something I know you would appreciate even if you weren’t a linguist.

  2. Professor Marianne Skanland says:

    Palm Sunday 2020

    It is very quiet. Because of the corona pandemic, there are strong restrictions here on groups coming together, on touching and on travel. Schools, universities and kindergartens are closed.

    There is not the usual congregational church going, but they have arranged services on Sundays, without congregations!, services which are held in churches but directed especially to tv and radio watchers / listeners. Today on Palm Sunday there was a service in the city of Tromsø, far up north. In the church itself there were no more than a dozen people altogether: two ministers, three musicians, two or three people assisting at the service, one young couple allowed to come to church, with twins who were baptised and a daughter who dried the twins’ heads of the water. (I am positive the minister who baptised them had washed his hands very thoroughly beforehand. This is one of the major ways of preventing the spreading of the virus and most people are conscientious about it. Regarding this virus danger, I do not think we can invent measures individually which can compete with what the authorities say. They are being quite good about it, and there are daily news broadcasts and press conferences where they include medical authorities who are well informed and keep us up to date about what is being done in the way of the prevention of infection spread, in the way of research, systematic treatment trials, and care for the sick.)

    The minister who preached the sermon was very good; she included a very good account about the background: what the Jews were expecting: a new king at the Passover celebration – and He came, but he did not arrive like a proud, avenging war-lord to throw the Romans out. The other minister also said a few words in Sami (Lappish).

    The ordinary hymns we heard were nothing unusual, but the very first piece before the service began was something by Handel, and the very last something from Bach’s Easter Oratorium, and do you know, the musicians turned out to be beautifully able; Bach is not always easy (Baroque music often isn’t) but they honoured that Palm Sunday service with a performance which was really moving, I thought. The violinist had a German-sounding name but looked a bit East Asiatic, the organist the same, and with the name Hijoo Moon, which is certainly not Norwegian. (She could of course still be settled here.) There is not enough teaching of organ players in Norway up to a good level, so I believe there are quite a few foreigners who assist that way in Norwegian churches. Germany is of course the greatest country of all for professional classical music.

    The whole service took an hour (plus a couple of minutes), and if you are interested, you can find the Bach piece from about 57:45. The baptism is from 14:10. The mother’s dress is not a very usual Norwegian national costume and I have not found out yet where it comes from.

    Our Father in heaven bless you all in America, bless all of us now at this difficult time.


    • Chris says:

      Thank you for your kind words, Marianne, and for sharing this service with us.

      Churches across America are doing the same things that Norwegians are doing. Services are being held and recorded and shared via the same media you have mentioned. Most of the ones I am watching and listening to are on the internet. I really need to post a sermon that mentions the state of affairs we face at this time. I listened to one by Alistair Begg yesterday and I may put that one up.

      There are a few odd ducks here who refuse to close their services. One particular “preacher” seems to want attention in my opinion. He certainly isn’t thinking of his congregation.

      I did go to the two places you mentioned in the service you shared with us. The music was wonderful and the church setting reminded me of the Lutheran churches I grew up in. I am busy today but if I get the time I will go back and watch the entire service. I will skip the sermon if it is in Norwegian but the content sounds like it was very appropriate.

      My family is being very careful because of this virus. My daughter, Hannah, had a kidney transplant nine years ago (I’m sure I’ve already told you this at some time), and her immune system is compromised because of the medications she has to take. Her aggressive form of FSGS (Focal segmental glomerulosclerosis) is in remission but there is always the chance it could return.

      One thing that is still open are the free water faucets that bring Hot Springs water (that is still hot) from far beneath our city. I did stop there for water the other day. There was only one other man there so I waited until he was finished to get some of this wonderful water. He was wearing a glove. When he left, I put on a mask and wore a glove as well. I am also always carrying hand sanitizer these days.
      My wife is shopping via the internet and today she went to pick up the groceries and the store was kind enough to put the groceries in her trunk for her. She sprays the truck with Lysol and she only brings the perishables in when she gets home. I think she sprays them as well.

      There are only nine states in the U.S. that have not ordered “stay at home” orders and Arkansas is one of them. We are hoping that this strategy does not come back to bite us. As I write this we have 875 cases which is somewhat reasonable but our cases seem to be doubling every couple of days. Americans are so used to going wherever they wish that even people in “stay at home” states don’t always take the proper care needed.

      Like you we are having daily press conferences. The governor is speaking as I write this and just announced that schools will be closed for the rest of the year. My wife has not taught for a couple of weeks now but she is still making AMI (Alternative Methods of Instruction) lessons to send via email and regular mail to her students. She is putting in 40 hours a week at home and is documenting all of the time she is working.
      The president is also speaking and answering questions daily. He must have answered questions for an hour the other day.

      There are so many words of comfort afforded us during these types of situations. I’ll share just one:

      Psalm 46

      1 God is our refuge and strength,
      A very present help in trouble.
      2 Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change
      And though the mountains slip into the heart of the sea;
      3 Though its waters roar and foam,
      Though the mountains quake at its swelling pride. Selah.

      4 There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
      The holy dwelling places of the Most High.
      5 God is in the midst of her, she will not be moved;
      God will help her when morning dawns.
      6 The nations made an uproar, the kingdoms tottered;
      He raised His voice, the earth melted.
      7 The Lord of hosts is with us
      The God of Jacob is our stronghold. Selah.

      8 Come, behold the works of the Lord,
      Who has wrought desolations in the earth.
      9 He makes wars to cease to the end of the earth;
      He breaks the bow and cuts the spear in two;
      He burns the chariots with fire.
      10 “Cease striving and know that I am God;
      I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”
      11 The Lord of hosts is with us;
      The God of Jacob is our stronghold. Selah.

      May our Father in heaven bless you all in Norway as well. You are in my prayers.

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