BY-WAYS 4/11/46 - Lenten Thoughts

Greetings, friends!

During this lenten season I can offer you no thought of my own so fine as that given in a sermon by Dr. Clarence E. McCartney of the First Presbyterian Church, Pittsburgh, Pa. My good friend Ella Elliott Hudson, passed the little booklet on to me in the hope that I might share it with you. I do thank her for the fine contribution. These gifts that feed the spirit are like a lifelong trust fund, from which you may draw at will. The simplicity and beauty of the text of Dr. McCartney's sermon - from St. John 13:1 is at once appealing: "He loved them to the end." "John ought to know," said our good minister, "for he was that disciple whom Jesus loved, and leaned on His breast at the Supper." Rather than fill up the page with quotes and unquotes, I'll just gather excerpts from this fine sermon, and, in most cases, condense them. More than one-third of St. John"s gospel is taken up with the last twenty-four hours of the life of Jesus. Therein comes that golden sentence, "Having loved His own, He loved them to the end." Christ seeks friends, and He delights in the token of affection. There were those who wrote for Him, fought for Him, and died for Him; but the one act for which Christ promised an immortality of fame was an act of affection. "Wherever My gospel shall be preached," He said of the woman who anointed His head and feet, "This that this woman hath done shall be spoken of as a memorial for her."

There are friends who do harm. They are like the ivy which stains and decays the wall which it embraces. Samson had the wrong kind of friendships with women, and the wreck and ruin of a life was the consequence. Herod Antipas heard John preach gladly, and seemed to have faith and repentance, but his friendship for Herodias ruined him. "For her sake," the record is, Herod gave the order for John to be beheaded. Christ evokes the good that is in us. Certain people strike the chords of the nobler life within your soul. That is supremely true of this Eternal friend. HE IS A FRIEND WHO TELLS US OF OUR FAULTS. Other friends will tell our faults to others. Our enemies will tell us our weaknesses at the point of the sword; but Christ is the Friend, who, as a Friend, shows us our faults. The supreme example of how Christ shows His Friends their faults, and warns them, was His dealing with Peter, warm hearted, impetuous, loving, but terribly sinning Peter. In the presence of all the disciples Christ warned him of this danger, saying, "Simon, Simon, Satan hath desired to have thee that he may sift thee as wheat." Then He assures Peter that no matter what happens to him, he can count on Christ's prayers and friendship to the last. "But I have prayed for thee that thy faith fail not." HE IS A FRIEND IN ADVERSITY. It is written, "A friend loveth at all times, and like a brother, is born for adversity." But there are a great many friendships which are not born for adversity. Adversity is the wind or fan which separates the chaff of flattery from the grain of solid friendship. The person who has met with trouble and disaster needs the ministry of his friends. There are two beautiful examples of that in the Bible. When David's fortunes were at lowest ebb, when his own hope was sinking and his faith declining, then that faithful friend, Jonathan, went to him at night in the Wood of Ziph, and strengthened his hand in God.

When Paul was in prison in Rome, and bound in chains, his faithful friend, Onesiphorus, came to visit him. At that time it was dangerous for Paul's friends to be known as such - and many so-called friends gave him the go-by. But here was one who "sought me diligently and found me." ... "He was not ashamed of my chains." The worst kind of adversity is transgression and sin. Yet Jesus loves us in spite of our sins. Think of how freely He forgave Peter, who denied Jesus in His darkest hour. Jesus is truly the "friend of sinners." HE IS THE FRIEND WHO DIED FOR YOU. "Greater love hath no man than this that a man should lay down his life for his friends." And now, my friends, I must close for this week.

Florence B. Taylor

Next - 4/11/46 - Visit to the eye specialist and lunch
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