"Friend, go up higher."
When first the life of grace begins in the soul, we do indeed draw near to God, but it is with great fear and trembling. The soul conscious of guilt, and humbled thereby, is overawed with the solemnity of its position; it is cast to the earth by a sense of the grandeur of Jehovah, in whose presence it stands. With unfeigned bashfulness it takes the lowest room.
But, in after life, as the Christian grows in grace, although he will never forget the solemnity of his position, and will never lose that holy awe which must encompass a gracious man when he is in the presence of the God who can create or can destroy; yet his fear has all its terror taken out of it; it becomes a holy reverence, and no more an overshadowing dread. He is called up higher, to greater access to God in Christ Jesus. Then the man of God, walking amid the splendours of Deity, and veiling his face like the glorious cherubim, with those twin wings, the blood and righteousness of Jesus Christ, will, reverent and bowed in spirit, approach the throne; and seeing there a God of love, of goodness, and of mercy, he will realize rather the covenant character of God than his absolute Deity. He will see in God rather his goodness than his greatness, and more of his love than of his majesty. Then will the soul, bowing still as humbly as aforetime, enjoy a more sacred liberty of intercession; for while prostrate before the glory of the Infinite God, it will be sustained by the refreshing consciousness of being in the presence of boundless mercy and infinite love, and by the realization of acceptance "in the Beloved." Thus the believer is bidden to come up higher, and is enabled to exercise the privilege of rejoicing in God, and drawing near to him in holy confidence, saying, "Abba, Father."
"So may we go from strength to strength,
And daily grow in grace,
Till in thine image raised at length,
We see thee face to face."
"The night also is thine."
Yes, Lord, thou dost not abdicate thy throne when the sun goeth down, nor dost thou leave the world all through these long wintry nights to be the prey of evil; thine eyes watch us as the stars, and thine arms surround us as the zodiac belts the sky. The dews of kindly sleep and all the influences of the moon are in thy hand, and the alarms and solemnities of night are equally with thee. This is very sweet to me when watching through the midnight hours, or tossing to and fro in anguish. There are precious fruits put forth by the moon as well as by the sun: may my Lord make me to be a favoured partaker in them.
The night of affliction is as much under the arrangement and control of the Lord of Love as the bright summer days when all is bliss. Jesus is in the tempest. His love wraps the night about itself as a mantle, but to the eye of faith the sable robe is scarce a disguise. From the first watch of the night even unto the break of day the eternal Watcher observes his saints, and overrules the shades and dews of midnight for his people's highest good. We believe in no rival deities of good and evil contending for the mastery, but we hear the voice of Jehovah saying, "I create light and I create darkness; I, the Lord, do all these things."
Gloomy seasons of religious indifference and social sin are not exempted from the divine purpose. When the altars of truth are defiled, and the ways of God forsaken, the Lord's servants weep with bitter sorrow, but they may not despair, for the darkest eras are governed by the Lord, and shall come to their end at his bidding. What may seem defeat to us may be victory to him.
"Though enwrapt in gloomy night,
We perceive no ray of light;
Since the Lord himself is here,
'Tis not meet that we should fear."
Today's reading: Nahum 1-3, Revelation 14 (NIV)View today's reading on Bible Gateway
Today's Old Testament reading: Nahum 1-3
1 A prophecy concerning Nineveh. The book of the vision of Nahum the Elkoshite.
The LORD’s Anger Against Nineveh
2 The LORD is a jealous and avenging God;
the LORD takes vengeance and is filled with wrath.
The LORD takes vengeance on his foes
and vents his wrath against his enemies.
3 The LORD is slow to anger but great in power;
the LORD will not leave the guilty unpunished.
His way is in the whirlwind and the storm,
and clouds are the dust of his feet.
4 He rebukes the sea and dries it up;
he makes all the rivers run dry.
Bashan and Carmel wither
and the blossoms of Lebanon fade.
5 The mountains quake before him
and the hills melt away.
The earth trembles at his presence,
the world and all who live in it.
6 Who can withstand his indignation?
Who can endure his fierce anger?
His wrath is poured out like fire;
the rocks are shattered before him....
Today's New Testament reading: Revelation 14
The Lamb and the 144,000
1 Then I looked, and there before me was the Lamb, standing on Mount Zion, and with him 144,000 who had his name and his Father’s name written on their foreheads. 2 And I heard a sound from heaven like the roar of rushing waters and like a loud peal of thunder. The sound I heard was like that of harpists playing their harps. 3 And they sang a new song before the throne and before the four living creatures and the elders. No one could learn the song except the 144,000 who had been redeemed from the earth. 4 These are those who did not defile themselves with women, for they remained virgins. They follow the Lamb wherever he goes. They were purchased from among mankind and offered as firstfruits to God and the Lamb. 5 No lie was found in their mouths; they are blameless....
Ahio [Ăhī'ō]—fraternal or his brother.
- A son of Abinadab and brother of Uzzah. It was in Abinadab’s house that the Ark of God rested for twenty years after its return by the Philistines (2 Sam. 6:3, 4; 1 Chron. 13:7).
- A son of Elpaal, a Benjamite (1 Chron. 8:14).
- A son of Jehiel by his wife Maachah and an ancestor of Saul (1 Chron. 8:31; 9:37).
That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched-this we proclaim concerning the Word of life. The life appeared; we have seen it and testify to it, and we proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and has appeared to us. - 1 John 1:1-2
Beginning. The Beginning. How much we all want to know about the beginning of all things, in order to understand the now of all things, and to pursue the way things are supposed to be in our lives today. The original design must be the ideal, the way things ought to be. The Bible's opening words: "In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth," delineate between a time in which there was only God, and a new time in which his magnificent creation began (Gen. 1:1).
The opening words of the Gospel of John place the Son of God right there-at the beginning: "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God" (John 1:1).
Unlike any other birth, the birth of Jesus was not the beginning of a new life. Rather, one who was there in The Beginning, appeared among his creation through his birth. "The life appeared; we have seen it and testify to it, and we proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and has appeared to us" (1 John 1:1-2). This appearance was no dream or vision or apparition, it was an extended visitation, a flood of revelation, an appearance of the Everlasting in terrestrial form, a real life.
"The life appeared." It was heard; it was seen; it was felt. Bethlehem was not the beginning of the life of Christ, and that's why his life can change our lives. Jesus said: "Before Abraham was born, I AM."
"I AM": I always was, I am now, and I will always be. That is why he can connect us with our original purpose.
God reached out to the human race in a new way in Bethlehem. Whereas in the past God spoke through the words of prophets, a new channel of God's communication was opened in Bethlehem. God "has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom he made the universe. The Son is the radiance of God's glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word" (Heb. 1:2-3).
So Christmas is about the good beginning (Genesis 1), and it is about the rescue of the now (John 1). That means that Jesus will help us regain everything that a human life was supposed to be in the first place-a real relationship with God, real wisdom, real character, real virtue. He intends to restore the image of God in our humanness.
Prayer for today:
Lord, I acknowledge that you are the only one who can begin something new in my life. Thank you for the appearance of Jesus, "the life." Help me to be a true disciple.