"I will strengthen thee."
God has a strong reserve with which to discharge this engagement; for he is able to do all things. Believer, till thou canst drain dry the ocean of omnipotence, till thou canst break into pieces the towering mountains of almighty strength, thou never needest to fear. Think not that the strength of man shall ever be able to overcome the power of God. Whilst the earth's huge pillars stand, thou hast enough reason to abide firm in thy faith. The same God who directs the earth in its orbit, who feeds the burning furnace of the sun, and trims the lamps of heaven, has promised to supply thee with daily strength. While he is able to uphold the universe, dream not that he will prove unable to fulfil his own promises. Remember what he did in the days of old, in the former generations. Remember how he spake and it was done; how he commanded, and it stood fast. Shall he that created the world grow weary? He hangeth the world upon nothing; shall he who doth this be unable to support his children? Shall he be unfaithful to his word for want of power? Who is it that restrains the tempest? Doth not he ride upon the wings of the wind, and make the clouds his chariots, and hold the ocean in the hollow of his hand? How can he fail thee? When he has put such a faithful promise as this on record, wilt thou for a moment indulge the thought that he has outpromised himself, and gone beyond his power to fulfil? Ah, no! Thou canst doubt no longer.
O thou who art my God and my strength, I can believe that this promise shall be fulfilled, for the boundless reservoir of thy grace can never be exhausted, and the overflowing storehouse of thy strength can never be emptied by thy friends or rifled by thine enemies.
"Now let the feeble all be strong,
And make Jehovah's arm their song."
"The spot of his children."
What is the secret spot which infallibly betokens the child of God? It were vain presumption to decide this upon our own judgment; but God's word reveals it to us, and we may tread surely where we have revelation to be our guide. Now, we are told concerning our Lord, "to as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to as many as believed on his name." Then, if I have received Christ Jesus into my heart, I am a child of God. That reception is described in the same verse as believing on the name of Jesus Christ. If, then, I believe on Jesus Christ's name--that is, simply from my heart trust myself with the crucified, but now exalted, Redeemer, I am a member of the family of the Most High. Whatever else I may not have, if I have this, I have the privilege to become a child of God. Our Lord Jesus puts it in another shape. "My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me." Here is the matter in a nutshell. Christ appears as a shepherd to his own sheep, not to others. As soon as he appears, his own sheep perceive him--they trust him, they are prepared to follow him; he knows them, and they know him--there is a mutual knowledge--there is a constant connection between them. Thus the one mark, the sure mark, the infallible mark of regeneration and adoption is a hearty faith in the appointed Redeemer. Reader, are you in doubt, are you uncertain whether you bear the secret mark of God's children? Then let not an hour pass over your head till you have said, "Search me, O God, and know my heart." Trifle not here, I adjure you! If you must trifle anywhere, let it be about some secondary matter: your health, if you will, or the title deeds of your estate; but about your soul, your never-dying soul and its eternal destinies, I beseech you to be in earnest. Make sure work for eternity.
Today's reading: Micah 6-7, Revelation 13 (NIV)View today's reading on Bible Gateway
Today's Old Testament reading: Micah 6-7
The LORD’s Case Against Israel
1 Listen to what the LORD says:
“Stand up, plead my case before the mountains;
let the hills hear what you have to say.
2 “Hear, you mountains, the LORD’s accusation;
listen, you everlasting foundations of the earth.
For the LORD has a case against his people;
he is lodging a charge against Israel.
3 “My people, what have I done to you?
How have I burdened you? Answer me.
4 I brought you up out of Egypt
and redeemed you from the land of slavery.
I sent Moses to lead you,
also Aaron and Miriam.
5 My people, remember
what Balak king of Moab plotted
and what Balaam son of Beor answered.
Remember your journey from Shittim to Gilgal,
that you may know the righteous acts of the LORD....”
Today's New Testament reading: Revelation 13
The Beast out of the Sea
1 The dragon stood on the shore of the sea. And I saw a beast coming out of the sea. It had ten horns and seven heads, with ten crowns on its horns, and on each head a blasphemous name. 2 The beast I saw resembled a leopard, but had feet like those of a bear and a mouth like that of a lion. The dragon gave the beast his power and his throne and great authority. 3 One of the heads of the beast seemed to have had a fatal wound, but the fatal wound had been healed. The whole world was filled with wonder and followed the beast. 4 People worshiped the dragon because he had given authority to the beast, and they also worshiped the beast and asked, “Who is like the beast? Who can wage war against it?”
Solomon [Sŏl'omon]—peace orpeaceable. The tenth son of David, and second by Bath-sheba, and the third king of Israel who reigned for forty years (2 Sam. 5:14; 12:24 ). Solomon was also known as Jedidiah meaning, “beloved of the Lord.”
The Man Who Was Full Yet Failed
We know little of the early life of Solomon. The name given him by Nathan, but not repeated because of its sacredness, implies David’s restoration to divine favor (2 Sam. 12:25). Loved of the Lord suggests the bestowal of unusual gifts ( 2 Sam. 12:24,25). It is also evident that young Solomon was greatly influenced both by his mother and Nathan (1 Kings 1:11, 12).
With reference to the character and reign of Solomon, we cannot but agree with Alexander Whyte that, “The shipwreck of Solomon is surely the most terrible tragedy in all the world. For if ever there was a shining type of Christ in the Old Testament church, it was Solomon ... but everyday sensuality made him in the end a castaway.” Taking him all in all, Solomon stands out as a disappointing figure of Hebrew history. Think of the advantages he began with! There were the almost undisputed possession of David’s throne, immense stores of wealth laid up by his father, exceptional divinely imparted mental abilities, the love and high hopes of the people. Solomon’s start like the cloudless dawn of a summer’s morning, might have been beautiful all his life through, but it ended in gloom because he wandered into God-forbidden paths. Thus a life beginning magnificently ended miserably. The man who penned and preached a thousand wise things failed to practice the wisdom he taught.
The work of Solomon was the development of his father’s ideas of a consolidated kingdom, and what marvelous success crowned his efforts. Exercising the power of an oriental despot, he gave Israel a glory, prestige and splendor unsurpassed in the world’s history. On the whole, however, Solomon seemed to rule for his own aggrandizement and not for the welfare of the people. Doubtless Solomon’s artistic and literary gifts provided the masses with beneficial instruction, but the glory of Solomon brought the common people tears and groans. The great wealth provided by David for the building of a Temple speedily disappeared under Solomon’s lavish spending, and the people had to pay heavily by taxation and poverty for his magnificent whims. Yet Jesus said that the lilies of the field had greater glory than all the gaudy pomp and pride of Solomon.
Solomon’s ambition in the morning of his life was most commendable. His dream was a natural expression of this ambition, and his God-imparted wisdom an evidence of it (1 Kings 3 ). Then his sacrifice at Gibeon indicates that Solomon desired religion to be associated with all external magnificence. Solomon’s remarkable prayer also breathes the atmosphere of true piety and of his delight in the full recognition of God. Alas, however, Solomon came to the end of his days minus popularity and piety!
This first great naturalist the world ever saw, who wrote one thousand and five songs, three thousand proverbs and who had sagacity beyond compare, took his first step downward when he went to Egypt for his queen. A daughter of Pharaoh, sitting on the throne of David, must have shocked and saddened the godly elect of Israel. With this strange wife came her strange gods.
Then came the harem of outlandish women who caused Solomon to sin (Neh. 13:26). His wives—seven hundred of them and three hundred concubines—whom Solomon clave unto in love, turned him into an idolater ( 1 Kings 11:1-8). Polygamy on such a vast scale and concession for his wives to worship their own heathen gods was bad enough, but to share in such sacrilegious worship in sight of the Temple Solomon himself had built, was nauseating to God.
Thus sensuality and pride of wealth brought about Solomon’s deterioration. In the Book of Ecclesiastes which the king wrote, he surely depicted his own dissatisfaction with even life itself. All rivers ran into Solomon’s sea: wisdom and knowledge, wine and women, wealth and fame, music and songs; he tried them all, but all was vanity and vexation of spirit simply because God had been left out.
Of Solomon’s actual end little is known. He is described as an “old man” at sixty years of age. Whether Solomon repented and returned to God was a question warmly debated by the Early Fathers. There is no record of his repentance. He never wrote a penitential psalm like his father before him (Ps. 51 ). We have his remorse, discontent, disgust, self-contempt, “bitterer to drink than blood,” but no sobs for his sin, no plea for pardon. Thus, with such a tragic failure before us, let us take to heart the fact that Solomon’s wisdom did not teach him self-control, and that the only legacy of his violated home life was a son “ample in foolishness and lacking in understanding,” as C. W. Emmet expresses it.
For my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the sight of all people, a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to your people Israel. - Luke 2:30-32
The winter solstice on December 21, the darkest day of the year, means for many of us who live halfway between the equator and the North Pole, that we have breakfast when it is still dark outside, and that by supper, the sun has long set. That slide toward the shortest day of the year seems like sinking into a black hole. No wonder people in ancient cultures celebrated the days when the sun began to return. The prophet Malachi spoke of the healing power of light: "The sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its wings" (Malachi 4:2).
Eight days after Jesus' birth, when Mary and Joseph had taken him to the temple as the law required, a man named Simeon saw him, and his eyes were opened to the reality of Jesus' identity. His eyes saw God's salvation. There, in human form. At the right place at the right time. Brought to earth not by royalty, but by an ordinary couple. He saw in Jesus a brilliant light that would show the way to salvation, not just for Israel, but also for all nations.
Days were dark then. It was hard to know when deliverance from the heavy grip of the Romans might come. Roman taxation was heavy; the sight of soldiers in the streets was a constant insult; war was always just a rumor away. The occupiers built unfamiliar buildings. It was difficult to settle into a normal pattern of living, when on a whim, an emperor in a faraway land could demand a census that sent you packing your bags.
Days are dark now. Not just because it is late December, but also because today, more and more generations are turning their back on faith, because wars rage on, because so many families are losing their homes and their jobs, because every day the evening news brings more stories of murder, disaster, rape and abuse.
But even in so much darkness, the light will never be forgotten. Light is not an illusion; in fact, darkness has no real substance. It is nothing more than the absence of light.
We need to see salvation as Simeon did-here and now. We need to use this Christmas to look at the One who has been "prepared in the sight of all people" (Lk. 2:31). The public Savior; the beacon for the world; the light for revelation.
Prayer for today:
Lord, open my eyes as Simeon's eyes were opened to the Lord Jesus. Help me to see your light that I may live in truth and comfort in this dark world. And help me reflect your light to the many needy people around me.