"At evening time it shall be light."
Oftentimes we look forward with forebodings to the time of old age, forgetful that at eventide it shall be light. To many saints, old age is the choicest season in their lives. A balmier air fans the mariner's cheek as he nears the shore of immortality, fewer waves ruffle his sea, quiet reigns, deep, still and solemn. From the altar of age the flashes of the fire of youth are gone, but the more real flame of earnest feeling remains. The pilgrims have reached the land Beulah, that happy country, whose days are as the days of heaven upon earth. Angels visit it, celestial gales blow over it, flowers of paradise grow in it, and the air is filled with seraphic music. Some dwell here for years, and others come to it but a few hours before their departure, but it is an Eden on earth. We may well long for the time when we shall recline in its shady groves and be satisfied with hope until the time of fruition comes. The setting sun seems larger than when aloft in the sky, and a splendour of glory tinges all the clouds which surround his going down. Pain breaks not the calm of the sweet twilight of age, for strength made perfect in weakness bears up with patience under it all. Ripe fruits of choice experience are gathered as the rare repast of life's evening, and the soul prepares itself for rest.
The Lord's people shall also enjoy light in the hour of death. Unbelief laments; the shadows fall, the night is coming, existence is ending. Ah no, crieth faith, the night is far spent, the true day is at hand. Light is come, the light of immortality, the light of a Father's countenance. Gather up thy feet in the bed, see the waiting bands of spirits! Angels waft thee away. Farewell, beloved one, thou art gone, thou wavest thine hand. Ah, now it is light. The pearly gates are open, the golden streets shine in the jasper light. We cover our eyes, but thou beholdest the unseen; adieu, brother, thou hast light at even-tide, such as we have not yet.
"If any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous."
1 John 2:1
"If any man sin, we have an advocate." Yes, though we sin, we have him still. John does not say, "If any man sin he has forfeited his advocate," but "we have an advocate," sinners though we are. All the sin that a believer ever did, or can be allowed to commit, cannot destroy his interest in the Lord Jesus Christ, as his advocate. The name here given to our Lord is suggestive. "Jesus." Ah! then he is an advocate such as we need, for Jesus is the name of one whose business and delight it is to save. "They shall call his name Jesus, for he shall save his people from their sins." His sweetest name implies his success. Next, it is "Jesus Christ"--Christos, the anointed. This shows his authority to plead. The Christ has a right to plead, for he is the Father's own appointed advocate and elected priest. If he were of our choosing he might fail, but if God hath laid help upon one that is mighty, we may safely lay our trouble where God has laid his help. He is Christ, and therefore authorized; he is Christ, and therefore qualified, for the anointing has fully fitted him for his work. He can plead so as to move the heart of God and prevail. What words of tenderness, what sentences of persuasion will the anointed use when he stands up to plead for me! One more letter of his name remains, "Jesus Christ the righteous." This is not only his character but his plea. It is his character, and if the Righteous One be my advocate, then my cause is good, or he would not have espoused it. It is his plea, for he meets the charge of unrighteousness against me by the plea that he is righteous. He declares himself my substitute and puts his obedience to my account. My soul, thou hast a friend well fitted to be thine advocate, he cannot but succeed; leave thyself entirely in his hands.
Today's reading: Isaiah 20-22, Ephesians 6 (NIV)View today's reading on Bible Gateway
Today's Old Testament reading: Isaiah 20-22
A Prophecy Against Egypt and Cush
1 In the year that the supreme commander, sent by Sargon king of Assyria, came to Ashdod and attacked and captured it— 2 at that time the LORD spoke through Isaiah son of Amoz. He said to him, “Take off the sackcloth from your body and the sandals from your feet.” And he did so, going around stripped and barefoot.
3 Then the LORD said, “Just as my servant Isaiah has gone stripped and barefoot for three years, as a sign and portent against Egypt and Cush, 4 so the king of Assyria will lead away stripped and barefoot the Egyptian captives and Cushite exiles, young and old, with buttocks bared—to Egypt’s shame. 5Those who trusted in Cush and boasted in Egypt will be dismayed and put to shame. 6 In that day the people who live on this coast will say, ‘See what has happened to those we relied on, those we fled to for help and deliverance from the king of Assyria! How then can we escape?’”
Today's New Testament reading: Ephesians 6
1 Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. 2“Honor your father and mother”—which is the first commandment with a promise— 3 “so that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth.”
4 Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.
5 Slaves, obey your earthly masters with respect and fear, and with sincerity of heart, just as you would obey Christ. 6Obey them not only to win their favor when their eye is on you, but as slaves of Christ, doing the will of God from your heart. 7Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not people, 8 because you know that the Lord will reward each one for whatever good they do, whether they are slave or free.
9 And masters, treat your slaves in the same way. Do not threaten them, since you know that he who is both their Master and yours is in heaven, and there is no favoritism with him....
[Nāthăn'a el] - the gift of god. A native of Cana in Galilee whom Jesus called an Israelite in whom there was no guile (John 1:45-49; 21:2).
The Man Who Was Guileless
Nathanael is supposed to be the same as Bartholomew the Apostle. The name of Nathanael occurs in John but in none of the other gospels. He is introduced at the beginning and at the close of Christ's ministry. His doubt of Christ's Messiahship vanished when he met Him, and he was one of the seven to whom the risen Lord manifested Himself at the Lake of Galilee.
It may be that he bore a double name and is referred to as Bartholomew, whom John never mentions, just as the other evangelists never mention Nathanael. The name Bartholomew stands in conjunction with that of Philip. If the rule is accepted that Andrew and Simon are put together because the one led the other to Christ, there is a presumption in favor of Bartholomew of the first three gospels being the same as Nathanael of John's gospel, from the fact recorded by John only, that it was Philip who brought Nathanael to the Saviour. We reject the tradition that he was the bridegroom at the Cana marriage, or one of the two disciples on the Emmaus road.
Profitable aspects to be developed are these:
I. Nathanael owed his introduction to Jesus to a friend. Have you introduced others to Him?
II. Nathanael was prepared to listen to conversation about Christ. He readily received the witness of one who had found the Messiah. Have you found Him, and are you telling others the story?
III. Nathanael's hopes were realized in an unexpected way. Often joy and rest come to us from the least expected quarter.
IV. Nathanael accepted the sure test of truth and the sure cure of prejudice. "Come and see," "Taste and see."
V. Nathanael's faith rejoiced the Master, and secured for him the promise of a growing blessing.
KNOWING GOD FROM THE BOTTOM UP
Martin Luther was adamant that our knowledge of God must be based on a “theology of the cross.” That is, we know God not by ascending to where he is, but by looking upon he who has come to where we are. This Messiah’s message was loudest when he was lifted up on the wooden post. We know God when we know the crucified Jesus.
This is the God who wants us to know him. A cancer patient can know God best in the suffering Jesus. So can a rejected spouse, an orphaned child, a discouraged pastor, an unemployed factory worker, an ashamed addict, a remorseful thief, a convicted felon, a teenage mom.
Just ask them. They want to know a God who is “familiar with suffering,” even “despised” and “rejected” (Isaiah 53:3). Because God is revealed in the suffering Jesus, we can know God at the times in life when we most need to know him. And so can any of us at any time in life under any circumstances. This is what the Bible means by the scandal of the cross. Proud human beings typically shun suffering as weakness, but God said, I will meet you at the crossroads of suffering. At a place of blood you will know me as the sacrificing God that I am.
His voice has gone out. In Christ and in Scripture a detailed record of truth has been etched deeply into the history of God and humanity. Now God does the work of revealing to us the true character of that revelation. God the Holy Spirit works in the center of our lives to shape this knowledge of God. The Holy Spirit inspired prophets and apostles, and now the Holy Spirit illumines us. That is the point of 1 Corinthians 2:7-14:
We speak of God’s secret wisdom, a wisdom that has been hidden and that God destined for our glory before time began…. God has revealed it to us by his Spirit. The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God. For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the man’s spirit within him? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. We have not received the spirit of the world but the Spirit who is from God, that we may understand what God has freely given us. This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, expressing spiritual truths in spiritual words. The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned.
How can we know God? We know him from his heaven-down revelation, which he continues to explain by his Spirit to every individual believer who wants to learn “spiritual truths in spiritual words.”
Excerpt from Putting the Pieces Back Together: How Real Life and Real Faith Connect. Click for more.