Morning and Evening by Charles SpurgeonDecember 30: Morning
"Better is the end of a thing than the beginning thereof." - Ecclesiastes 7:8
Look at David's Lord and Master; see his beginning. He was despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. Would you see the end? He sits at his Father's right hand, expecting until his enemies be made his footstool. "As he is, so are we also in this world." You must bear the cross, or you shall never wear the crown; you must wade through the mire, or you shall never walk the golden pavement. Cheer up, then, poor Christian. "Better is the end of a thing than the beginning thereof." See that creeping worm, how contemptible its appearance! It is the beginning of a thing. Mark that insect with gorgeous wings, playing in the sunbeams, sipping at the flower bells, full of happiness and life; that is the end thereof. That caterpillar is yourself, until you are wrapped up in the chrysalis of death; but when Christ shall appear you shall be like him, for you shall see him as he is. Be content to be like him, a worm and no man, that like him you may be satisfied when you wake up in his likeness. That rough-looking diamond is put upon the wheel of the lapidary. He cuts it on all sides. It loses much--much that seemed costly to itself. The king is crowned; the diadem is put upon the monarch's head with trumpet's joyful sound. A glittering ray flashes from that coronet, and it beams from that very diamond which was just now so sorely vexed by the lapidary. You may venture to compare yourself to such a diamond, for you are one of God's people; and this is the time of the cutting process. Let faith and patience have their perfect work, for in the day when the crown shall be set upon the head of the King, Eternal, Immortal, Invisible, one ray of glory shall stream from you. "They shall be mine," saith the Lord, "in the day when I make up my jewels." "Better is the end of a thing than the beginning thereof."
"Knowest thou not that it will be bitterness in the latter end?" - 2 Samuel 2:26
If, O my reader! thou art merely a professor, and not a possessor of the faith that is in Christ Jesus, the following lines are a true ketch of thine end.
You are a respectable attendant at a place of worship; you go because others go, not because your heart is right with God. This is your beginning. I will suppose that for the next twenty or thirty years you will be spared to go on as you do now, professing religion by an outward attendance upon the means of grace, but having no heart in the matter. Tread softly, for I must show you the deathbed of such a one as yourself. Let us gaze upon him gently. A clammy sweat is on his brow, and he wakes up crying, "O God, it is hard to die. Did you send for my minister?" "Yes, he is coming." The minister comes. "Sir, I fear that I am dying!" "Have you any hope?" "I cannot say that I have. I fear to stand before my God; oh! pray for me." The prayer is offered for him with sincere earnestness, and the way of salvation is for the ten-thousandth time put before him, but before he has grasped the rope, I see him sink. I may put my finger upon those cold eyelids, for they will never see anything here again. But where is the man, and where are the man's true eyes? It is written, "In hell he lifted up his eyes, being in torment." Ah! why did he not lift up his eyes before? Because he was so accustomed to hear the gospel that his soul slept under it. Alas! if you should lift up your eyes there, how bitter will be your wailings. Let the Saviour's own words reveal the woe: "Father Abraham, send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue, for I am tormented in this flame." There is a frightful meaning in those words. May you never have to spell it out by the red light of Jehovah's wrath!
Azaria[Ăzarī'ah] - jehovah is keeper or hath helped.
The fact that there are almost thirty men bearing the name of Azariah is proof that it was a common name in Hebrew, especially in the family of Eleazar, whose name has a similar meaning, and is almost identical with Ezra, Zerahiah and Seraiah. See also Azariahu and Zacharias.
1. The son of Zadok and a descendant of David's high priest (1 Kings 4:2).
2. The son of Nathan, ruler of Solomon's officers (1 Kings 4:5).
3. The son of Amaziah, who was made king of Judah after his father (2 Kings 14:21; 2 Kings 15:1-27; 1 Chron. 3:12).
4. A man of Judah, of the family of Zerah and of the house of Ethan (1 Chron. 2:8).
5. The son of Jehu and grandson of Obed, a Judahite (1 Chron. 2:38, 39).
6. A son of Ahimaz and grandson of Zadok (1 Chron. 6:9).
7. A son of Johanan and grandson of No. 6 who served in Solomon's time (1 Chron. 6:10, 11).
8. A son of Hilkiah, and father of Seraiah the high priest in Josiah's reign (1 Chron. 6:13, 14; 1 Chron. 9:11; Ezra 7:1).
9. A Levite of the family of Kohath and an ancestor of Samuel the prophet (1 Chron. 6:36).
10. A prophet, son of Obed, he encouraged Asa to persevere in his national religious revival (2 Chron. 15:1).
11. A son of king Jehoshaphat (2 Chron. 21:2).
12. Another son of the above (2 Chron. 21:2).
13. Son of Jehoram (2 Chron. 22:6).
14. The son of Jehoram and a captain who assisted in the overthrow of Athaliah and the elevation of Joash to the throne of Judah (2 Chron. 23:1).
15. The son of Obed who also assisted in the above task (2 Chron. 23:1).
16. The high priest who hindered Uzziah from burning incense on the altar (2 Chron. 26:17, 20).
17. The son of Johanan and a chief of the tribe of Ephraim (2 Chron. 28:12).
18. The father of Joel and a Kohathite (2 Chron. 29:12). He assisted in the purification of the Temple in Hezekiah's time.
19. The son of Jehalelel, a Merarite who also assisted in Hezekiah's revival (2 Chron. 29:12).
20. The chief priest of the house of Zadok in King Hezekiah's time (2 Chron. 31:10, 13).
21. The son of Meraioth, and an ancestor of Ezra (Ezra 7:3).
22. The son of Maaseiah, of the family of Ananiah, who repaired a portion of the wall of Jerusalem (Neh. 3:23, 24).
23. An Israelite who returned with Zerubbabel (Neh. 7:7). Name also given as Seraiah.
24. One of the priests who explained the Law to the people as Ezra read it. Perhaps the same person as No. 22 (Neh. 8:7).
25. Another priest who sealed the covenant (Neh. 10:2).
26. A prince of Judah who joined in the procession with Nehemiah (Neh. 12:33).
27. A son of Hoshaiah and an opponent of Jeremiah whom he charged with false prophecies (Jer. 43:2).
28. The Hebrew and original name of Abed-nego, who with Daniel and others was carried away captive to Babylon (Dan. 1:6, 7, 11, 19; Dan. 2:17).
Today's reading: Zechariah 13-14, Revelation 21 (NIV)View today's reading on Bible Gateway
Today's Old Testament reading: Zechariah 13-14
Cleansing From Sin
1 "On that day a fountain will be opened to the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, to cleanse them from sin and impurity.
2 "On that day, I will banish the names of the idols from the land, and they will be remembered no more," declares the LORD Almighty. "I will remove both the prophets and the spirit of impurity from the land. 3 And if anyone still prophesies, his father and mother, to whom he was born, will say to him, 'You must die, because you have told lies in the LORD's name.' When he prophesies, his own parents will stab him.
...read the rest on Bible Gateway
Today's New Testament reading: Revelation 21
The New Jerusalem
1 Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. 2 I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. 3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, "Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. 4 He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away."
...read the rest on Bible Gateway
Reading 18: God's Great Gift of Love
A Pharisee named Nicodemus came at night to ask Jesus who he was. Jesus told Nicodemus why he had come from God and what he was sent to do. Then Jesus told Nicodemus that Nicodemus would have to be "born again" of the Spirit. In a few sentences, Jesus summed up the Good News.
Jesus Teaches Nicodemus
1 Now there was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a member of the Jewish ruling council. 2 He came to Jesus at night and said, "Rabbi, we know you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the miraculous signs you are doing if God were not with him."
3 In reply Jesus declared, "I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again."
4 "How can a man be born when he is old?" Nicodemus asked. "Surely he cannot enter a second time into his mother's womb to be born!"
5 Jesus answered, "I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit. 6 Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. 7 You should not be surprised at my saying, 'You must be born again.' 8 The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit."
9 "How can this be?" Nicodemus asked.
10 "You are Israel's teacher," said Jesus, "and do you not understand these things? 11 I tell you the truth, we speak of what we know, and we testify to what we have seen, but still you people do not accept our testimony. 12 I have spoken to you of earthly things and you do not believe; how then will you believe if I speak of heavenly things? 13 No one has ever gone into heaven except the one who came from heaven--the Son of Man. 14 Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the desert, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, 15 that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life.
16 "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God's one and only Son. 19 This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. 20 Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. 21 But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what he has done has been done through God."
JUST THE FACTS
- What do people have to do in order to have eternal life? (v. 16)
- Why did God send his Son into the world? (v. 17)
- Why do people love the darkness more than the light? (vv. 19 - 20)
- Verse 16 tells us what people have to do to have eternal life. What does it mean to "believe"? Why is this Good News so difficult for some people to understand?
- What do we have to do to live by "the truth"? (v. 21)
- What does living by the truth look like?
The reason Jesus came to earth, lived and taught among people, and died for our sins is because "God so loved the world" (v. 16). Jesus is God's great gift of love to each and every one of us.
POINTS OF INTEREST
3:14 When Jesus talked about Moses lifting up the snake in the desert, he was referring to the time the Israelites complained about the food God had provided for them. God sent poisonous snakes into the camp to punish the people. Some people were saved from death by looking up at a bronze snake that God had told Moses to make and place on a pole.