Morning and Evening by Charles SpurgeonDecember 27: Morning
"Can the rush grow up without mire?" - Job 8:11
The rush is spongy and hollow, and even so is a hypocrite; there is no substance or stability in him. It is shaken to and fro in every wind just as formalists yield to every influence; for this reason the rush is not broken by the tempest, neither are hypocrites troubled with persecution. I would not willingly be a deceiver or be deceived; perhaps the text for this day may help me to try myself whether I be a hypocrite or no. The rush by nature lives in water, and owes its very existence to the mire and moisture wherein it has taken root; let the mire become dry, and the rush withers very quickly. Its greenness is absolutely dependent upon circumstances, a present abundance of water makes it flourish, and a drought destroys it at once. Is this my case? Do I only serve God when I am in good company, or when religion is profitable and respectable? Do I love the Lord only when temporal comforts are received from his hands? If so I am a base hypocrite, and like the withering rush, I shall perish when death deprives me of outward joys. But can I honestly assert that when bodily comforts have been few, and my surroundings have been rather adverse to grace than at all helpful to it, I have still held fast my integrity? Then have I hope that there is genuine vital godliness in me. The rush cannot grow without mire, but plants of the Lord's right hand planting can and do flourish even in the year of drought. A godly man often grows best when his worldly circumstances decay. He who follows Christ for his bag is a Judas; they who follow for loaves and fishes are children of the devil; but they who attend him out of love to himself are his own beloved ones. Lord, let me find my life in thee, and not in the mire of this world's favour or gain.
"And the Lord shall guide thee continually." - Isaiah 58:11
"The Lord shall guide thee." Not an angel, but Jehovah shall guide thee. He said he would not go through the wilderness before his people, an angel should go before them to lead them in the way; but Moses said, "If thy presence go not with me, carry us not up hence." Christian, God has not left you in your earthly pilgrimage to an angel's guidance: he himself leads the van. You may not see the cloudy, fiery pillar, but Jehovah will never forsake you. Notice the word shall--"The Lord shall guide thee." How certain this makes it! How sure it is that God will not forsake us! His precious "shalls" and "wills" are better than men's oaths. "I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee." Then observe the adverb continually. We are not merely to be guided sometimes, but we are to have a perpetual monitor; not occasionally to be left to our own understanding, and so to wander, but we are continually to hear the guiding voice of the Great Shepherd; and if we follow close at his heels, we shall not err, but be led by a right way to a city to dwell in. If you have to change your position in life; if you have to emigrate to distant shores; if it should happen that you are cast into poverty, or uplifted suddenly into a more responsible position than the one you now occupy; if you are thrown among strangers, or cast among foes, yet tremble not, for "the Lord shall guide thee continually." There are no dilemmas out of which you shall not be delivered if you live near to God, and your heart be kept warm with holy love. He goes not amiss who goes in the company of God. Like Enoch, walk with God, and you cannot mistake your road. You have infallible wisdom to direct you, immutable love to comfort you, and eternal power to defend you. "Jehovah"--mark the word--"Jehovah shall guide thee continually."
WOMAN WITH ISSUE OF BLOOD
The Woman Who Was Healed by a Touch
Scripture Reference: Matthew 9:20-22; Mark 5:25-34; Luke 8:43-48
This sick, anonymous woman must have been emaciated after a hemorrhage lasting for twelve years, which rendered her legally unclean. She could not throw herself, therefore, at the feet of Christ and state her complaint. Her modesty, humility, uncleanness and pressure of the crowd made close contact well-nigh impossible, hence her eagerness to touch in some unnoticed way the hem of His garment. Who was this woman of faith? The primitive church, feeling she was entitled to a name, called her Veronica, who lived in Caesarea Philippi, but in the gospels she is enrolled in the list of anonymous female divines. There are several aspects of her cure worthy of note-
She Was Cured After Many Failures
What this poor woman really endured at the hands of the medical men of the time is left to the imagination. What a touch of reality is given to her story by the knowledge that she had suffered many things of many physicians and was no better but rather "grew worse." Where men failed, Christ succeeded. Down the ages men and women which no agency could reclaim have been restored by Christ. What is not possible with men is blessedly possible with God. Her disease was of long standing yet she was swiftly healed, for as soon as she touched the hem of His garment, "straight-way the fountain of her blood was dried up." If a person suffers for a while from a complaint and seeks no medical advice, but in the end goes to the doctor, he invariably says, "You should have come to me sooner." But it is the glory of Christ that He can heal those who come late to Him.
She Was Cured With the Utmost Rapidity
Mark's favorite word, "straightway," which he uses 27 times in his gospel, is in most cases related to Christ's rapid cures. How swift He was in His relief for the suffering! As at creation, so in His miracles of healing, "He spake and it was done." Spiritual parallels of His instantaneous power can be seen in the conversions of Matthew, Paul and the dying thief. Many of us, too, can testify to the fact that He can transform character in a moment of time. The term Jesus used in addressing the nameless sufferer suggests that she was still young, though wasted and faded by her malady which made her look older than she was. But the nature of her disease and the age of the one afflicted made no difference to Him in healing the sick and saving the lost. As Jesus passed by the withered fingers of the woman brushed the border of Christ's sacred dress, and all at once her thin body felt the painless health of her girlhood return. A strength she had not known for 12 years renewed her being, and she knew that Christ had made her whole.
She Acknowledged Receipt of the Benefit Bestowed
As soon as the woman touched Christ's garment, He felt that "virtue had gone out of Him," and turned about and said, "Who touched me?" The disciples mildly rebuked Jesus by saying, "Thou seest the multitude thronging thee, and sayest thou, Who touched me?" Perhaps her touch had been unnoticed by the eyes of those around, and she must have been one of many who touched the Master that day as he proceeded on His errand of love, but a touch of faith could not be hidden from Him. Quickly the Physician saw the patient, and trembling with self-consciousness but too glad and grateful to falter, she confessed to her touch of His robe. "She told him all the truth." She experienced that open confession is good for the soul. What a glow of gratitude her countenance must have had, as she publicly stated that her burden for twelve years had rolled away!
She Was Commended for Her Faith
The crowd who listened to her confession also heard the Saviour's benediction, "Daughter, be of good comfort; thy faith hath saved thee; go in peace." As a true daughter of Abraham (Luke 13:16), her faith is crowned by the Master. Hers was not faith without a touch, or a touch without faith. Believing, she appropriated and was healed. "Daughter," was an endearing term for Jesus to use. Some tender insight of His own must have prompted Him to use it. As Theron Brown puts it so beautifully-
The restored sufferer would never forget the friendly benignity that assailed her with one indulgent epithet or the sympathy in that endearing term by which the Messiah of Israel recognized her as His own.... She cherished her debt to the Man of Galilee.
She Has a Place in Legend
It is said that this woman who was healed of her plague walked with Jesus as He went to His cross, and that seeing His blood and sweat, she drew out her handkerchief and wiped His brow. Later on, as she reverently caressed the piece of linen, she found the image of the blood-stained face of Jesus imprinted on it. Face cloths for the Roman catacombs alleged to hold the impress of His features were called Veronicas. About a.d. 320, Eusebius, Bishop of Caesarea and a dependable historian records that when he visited Caesarea Philippi, he heard that the woman healed of her issue of blood out of gratitude for her cure had erected two brazen figures at the gate of her house, one representing a woman bending on her knee in supplication - the other, fashioned in the likeness of Jesus, holding out His hand to help her. The figure had a double cloak of brass. Eusebius adds this explicit statement as to these figures, "They were in existence even in our day and we saw them with our own eyes when we stayed in the city." The well-known Sankey gospel hymn recalls and applies the story of the nameless woman whom Jesus healed-
She only touched the hem of His garment,
As to His side she stole,
Amid the crowd that gathered around Him,
And straightway she was whole.
It is encouraging to know that His saving power this very hour can give new life to all who by faith take hold of His skirt (Zechariah 8:23).
Elimelech[Ĕlĭm'elĕch] - god is king.
The husband of Naomi and father of Mahlon and Chilion, Ephrathites of Bethlehem-judah (Ruth 1:2, 3; Ruth 2:1, 3; Ruth 4:3-9; 1 Sam. 17:12).
The Man Whose Ways Contradicted His Name
It is one thing to have a good name, but a different matter altogether to have a life corresponding to that name. Elimelech's name implies that God is King, an expressive name given him by godly parents when the nation followed the Lord. But Elimelech belied the name he bore, for had he truly believed that God was King, he would have stayed in Bethlehem in spite of the prevailing famine.
But one might argue that it was a wise thing to do to leave a famine-stricken land for another land where there was plenty of food for his family. Surely that was a journey any father would undertake to save his dear ones from starvation. But Elimelech was a Jew and as such had the promise, "In the days of famine ye shall be satisfied." Had he firmly believed in the sovereignty of God, Elimelech would have remained in Bethlehem, knowing that need can never throttle God. Had he not declared that bread and water for His own would be sure? Alas, however, Elimelech did not live up to his wonderful name! In going down to Moab, he stepped out of the will of God, who had forbidden His people to have any association with the Moabites. In Moab, Elimelech and his two sons found graves. Yet such a wrong move was overruled by God, for as the result of it, Ruth the Moabitess returned to Bethlehem with Naomi, who was to become the ancestress of our blessed Lord.
Today's reading: Zechariah 1-4, Revelation 18 (NIV)
View today's reading on Bible Gateway
Today's Old Testament reading: Zechariah 1-4
A Call to Return to the LORD
1 In the eighth month of the second year of Darius, the word of the LORD came to the prophet Zechariah son of Berekiah, the son of Iddo:
2 "The LORD was very angry with your forefathers. 3 Therefore tell the people: This is what the LORD Almighty says: 'Return to me,' declares the LORD Almighty, 'and I will return to you,' says the LORD Almighty....
...read the rest on Bible Gateway
Today's New Testament reading: Revelation 18
The Fall of Babylon
1 After this I saw another angel coming down from heaven. He had great authority, and the earth was illuminated by his splendor. 2 With a mighty voice he shouted:
"Fallen! Fallen is Babylon the Great!...read the rest on Bible Gateway
She has become a home for demons
and a haunt for every evil spirit,
a haunt for every unclean and detestable bird....
Reading 15: The Visit of the Magi
Several months after Jesus was born, Magi (traditionally called wise men) came from the east to Jerusalem asking about a new king. First, they asked King Herod, who was a friend of the Roman rulers, where to find the one they were looking for. Then they traveled another five miles to the town where Jesus lived in order to find him.
The Visit of the Magi
1 After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem 2 and asked, "Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star in the east and have come to worship him."
3 When King Herod heard this he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him. 4 When he had called together all the people's chief priests and teachers of the law, he asked them where the Christ was to be born. 5 "In Bethlehem in Judea," they replied, "for this is what the prophet has written:
6 "'But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,
are by no means least among the rulers of Judah;
for out of you will come a ruler
who will be the shepherd of my people Israel.'"
7 Then Herod called the Magi secretly and found out from them the exact time the star had appeared. 8 He sent them to Bethlehem and said, "Go and make a careful search for the child. As soon as you find him, report to me, so that I too may go and worship him."
9 After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen in the east went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. 10 When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. 11 On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold and of incense and of myrrh. 12 And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route.
JUST THE FACTS
- Whom did the Magi say they were looking for? (v. 2)
- What was the name of the king who was disturbed when he heard of another king being born? (v. 3)
- What did the Magi do when they found Mary with her child? (v. 11)
- Why was King Herod disturbed when he heard that the Messiah had been born? What did he think the Messiah would do?
- Why do you think the Magi didn't go back to King Herod?
The Magi were the first to acknowledge Jesus as a king. This affirmed what the angel had said to Mary: Jesus would receive the throne of David, and his kingdom would have no end (see Luke 1:32 - 33).
POINTS OF INTEREST
2:2 Astronomers have explained that the star of Bethlehem was a comet, a nova or an alignment of Jupiter, Saturn and Mars. But history does not record that anyone besides the Magi saw this star. Apparently the star was a celestial phenomena God created just for this occasion.