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Morning and Evening
By Charles Spurgeon
Hendrickson Publishers Marketing, LLCCopyright © 2011 Hendrickson Publishers Marketing, LLC
All rights reserved.
"That year they ate of the produce of Canaan."
— Joshua 5:12
Israel's weary wanderings were all over; they had reached their promised rest. No more moving tents, fiery serpents, fierce Amalekites, and howling wildernesses. They came to the land which flowed with milk and honey and ate the old corn of the land. Perhaps this year, dear Christian reader, this may be your case or mine. The prospect is exciting. If we exercise our faith, it will yield pure joy. To be with Jesus in the rest which is waiting for the people of God is a cheerful hope indeed; to expect this glory sooner than later is double bliss. Unbelief shudders at the Jordan which still rolls between us and the heavenly land, but let's rest assured that we have already experienced more harm than death at its worst can cause us. Let's banish every fearful thought, and rejoice with exceedingly great joy in the prospect that this year we shall begin to be "forever with the Lord."
A part of the host will stay on earth this year to serve their Lord. If this should be our lot, there is no reason why the New Year's text shouldn't still be true. "We who have believed enter that rest." The Holy Spirit is the promise guaranteeing our inheritance; He gives us "glory begun below." In heaven they are secure, and we are preserved in Christ Jesus also; there they triumph over their enemies, and we have victories, too. Celestial spirits enjoy communion with their Lord, and so do we; they rest in His love, and we have perfect peace in Him; they sing His praise, and it is our privilege to bless Him, too. During this year we will gather a heavenly harvest on earthly ground, where faith and hope turn a desert into the garden of the Lord. Humanity ate angels' food long ago, and why can't we now? O for grace to feed on Jesus, and so to eat of the produce of the land of Canaan this year!
"We rejoice and delight in you."
— Song of Songs 1:4
We rejoice and delight in You. We will not open the gates of the year to the dolorous notes of the lyre but to the sweet strains of the harp of joy and the high-sounding cymbals of gladness. "Come, let us sing for joy to the LORD; let us shout aloud to the Rock of our salvation." We, the called, faithful, and chosen, will drive away our griefs and set up our banners of confidence in the name of God. Let others lament over their troubles; we who have the sweetening tree to cast into Marah's bitter pool will joyfully magnify the Lord. Eternal Spirit, our effectual Comforter, we who are the temples in which You dwell will never cease from adoring and blessing the name of Jesus. We WILL, we are resolved about it, Jesus must have the crown of our heart's delight; we will not dishonor our Bridegroom by mourning in His presence. We are ordained to be the minstrels of the skies. Let's rehearse our everlasting anthem before we sing it in the halls of the New Jerusalem. We will REJOICE AND DELIGHT: two words with one sense, double bliss, blessedness upon blessedness. Need there be any limit to our rejoicing in the Lord even now? Don't people of grace find their Lord to be camphor and spikenard, calamus and cinnamon even now, and what better fragrance do they have in heaven itself? We will rejoice and delight IN YOU. That last word is the meat in the dish, the kernel of the nut, the soul of the text. What heavens are laid up in Jesus! What rivers of infinite bliss have their source and, yes, every drop of their fullness in Him! Since, O sweet Lord Jesus, You are the present portion of Your people. Favor us this year with such a sense of your preciousness that, from its first to its last day, we may rejoice and delight in You. Let January open with joy in the Lord, and December close with gladness in Jesus.
"Devote yourselves to prayer."
— Colossians 4:2
It is interesting to notice how many pages of Sacred Writ are taken up with the subject of prayer, either by providing examples, enforcing precepts, or pronouncing promises. We can scarcely begin reading the Bible before encountering a phrase such as "At that time men began to call on the name of the LORD;" and, just as we are about to complete our reading, the "Amen" of an earnest supplication meets our ear. There are numerous examples of this. Here we find a wrestling Jacob — there a Daniel who prayed three times a day — and a David who, with all his heart, called upon his God. On the mountain we see Elias; in the dungeon Paul and Silas. We have multitudes of commands and myriads of promises. What do these examples teach us? Specifically, the sacred importance and necessity of prayer! We may be certain that whatever stands out prominently in God's Word is intended to be observable in our lives. If He has said a great deal about prayer, it is because He knows we have great need of it. Our necessities are so deep that, until we are in heaven, we mustn't stop praying. Don't you lack anything? Then, I am afraid you do not know the extent of your poverty. Don't you have some mercy to ask of God? Then, may the Lord's mercy show you your misery! A prayerless soul is a Christless soul. Prayer is the lisping of the believing infant, the shout of the fighting believer, the requiem of the dying saint falling asleep in Jesus. It is the breath, the watchword, the comfort, the strength, the honor of a Christian. If you are a child of God, you will seek your Father's face and live in your Father's love. Pray that this year you may be holy, humble, zealous, and patient; have closer communion with Christ, and enter more often into the banqueting house of His love. Pray that you may be an example and a blessing to others, and that you may live more to the glory of your Master. The motto for this year must be: "Devote yourselves to prayer."
"Let the nations renew their strength."
— Isaiah 41:1
All things on earth need to be renewed. No created thing continues by itself. "You renew the face of the earth," the Psalmist uttered. Even the trees, which don't wear themselves out with anxious concern, nor shorten their lives with work, must drink the rain of heaven and draw on the hidden treasures of the soil. The cedars of Lebanon, which God has planted, only live because each new day they are full of fresh sap drawn from the earth. Likewise, our lives cannot be sustained without renewal from God. We know the only way to prevent the body from wasting away is to eat meals frequently. It is just as necessary, in order to restore the soul, to feed on the Book of God, listen to the preached Word, and partake of the Lord's table. How diminished our graces become when the means of grace are neglected! What poor starvelings some saints are who live without the diligent use of the Word of God and secret prayer! If our piety can live without God it is not divinely created by God but a fantasy; for if God had begotten it, our piety would wait upon Him as the flowers wait upon the dew. Without constant restoration we are not ready for the perpetual assaults of hell, or the stern afflictions of heaven, or even for the strifes within. When the whirlwind shall be loosed, woe to the tree that has not drawn into itself fresh sap, and grasped the rock with many intertwined roots. When tempests arise, woe to the sailors who have not strengthened their mast, nor cast their anchor, nor sought the haven. If we allow the good to grow weaker, the evil will surely gather strength and struggle desperately for mastery over us; and, because of this situation, a painful desolation and a lamentable disgrace may perhaps follow. Let's move closer to the footstool of divine mercy with our humble appeals; only then shall the promise that "those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength" be fulfilled for us.
"I will make you to be a covenant for the people."
— Isaiah 49:8
Jesus Christ is Himself the sum and substance of the covenant and, as one of its gifts, He is the property of every believer. Can you estimate what you have received in Christ? "In Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form." Consider that word "Deity" and its infinity, and then meditate upon "perfect human being" and all his beauty; for all that Christ, as God and man, ever had, or can have, is yours — out of pure, free kindness, transferred to you to be your inheritance forever. Our blessed Jesus, as God, is omniscient, omnipresent, omnipotent. Doesn't it console you to know that all these great and glorious attributes are entirely yours? Does He have power? That power is yours to support and strengthen you, to overcome your enemies, and to preserve you even to the end. Does He have love? Well, there isn't a drop of love in His heart which isn't yours; you may dive into the immense ocean of His love, and you may say about all of it, "It is mine." Does He have justice? It may seem a stern attribute, but even that is yours for, by His justice, He will see to it that all which is promised to you in the covenant of grace shall be most certainly secured to you. And all that He has as perfect human being is yours. As a perfect human being the Father was delighted with Him. He stood accepted by the Most High. O believer, God's acceptance of Christ is your acceptance. Don't you realize that the love which the Father set on a perfect Christ, He now sets on you? For all that Christ did is yours. That perfect righteousness which Jesus worked out when, through His stainless life, He kept the law and made it honorable, is yours, and is assigned to you. Christ is in the covenant.
"My God, I am thine — what a comfort divine!
What a blessing to know that the Savior is mine!
In the heavenly Lamb thrice happy I am,
And my heart it doth dance at the sound of His name."
"A voice of one calling in the desert, Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him."
— Luke 3:4
The voice crying in the wilderness demanded a way for the Lord, a way prepared, and a way prepared in the desert. I need to pay attention to the Master's proclamation, and open for Him a pathway to my heart, which is caught up with indulgent behaviors through the desert of my nature. The four instructions in the text require my serious attention.
Every valley must be exalted. Low and groveling thoughts of God must be given up; doubting and despairing must be removed; and self-seeking and physical desires must be forsaken. Across these deep valleys a glorious causeway of grace must be raised.
Every mountain and hill shall be laid low. Proud self-sufficiency and boastful self-righteousness must be leveled to make a highway for the King of kings. Divine fellowship is never bestowed on haughty, high-minded sinners. The Lord respects the lowly and visits the contrite in heart, but the lofty are an abomination to Him. My soul, beg the Holy Spirit to set you right in this respect.
The crooked shall be made straight. The wavering heart must have a straight path of decision for God and holiness marked out for it. Double-minded people are strangers to the God of truth. My soul, take heed to be honest and true in all things, as in the sight of the heart-searching God.
The rough places shall be made smooth. Obstacles of sin must be removed, and thorns and briers of rebellion must be uprooted. Such an eminent visitor must not find muddy paths and stony places when He comes to honor His favored ones with His company. O that this evening the Lord may find in my heart a highway prepared by His grace, that His progression to the farthest limits of my soul will be triumphal from the beginning of this year to its end.
"Grow in grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ."
— 2 Peter 3:18
Grow in grace" — not in one grace only, but in all grace. Grow in that root of grace, faith. Believe the promises more firmly than you have done. Let faith increase in fullness, constancy, simplicity. Grow also in love. Ask that your love may become extended, more intense, more practical, influencing every thought, word, and deed. Grow likewise in humility. Seek to lie very low and know more of your own nothingness. As you grow downward in humility, seek also to grow upward — having nearer approaches to God in prayer and more intimate fellowship with Jesus. May God the Holy Spirit enable you to "grow in grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ." Those who don't grow in the knowledge of Jesus refuse to be blessed. To know Him is "life eternal," and to advance in the knowledge of Him is to increase in happiness. Those who don't long to know more of Christ know nothing of Him yet. Whoever has sipped this wine will thirst for more for, although Christ does satisfy, yet it is such a satisfaction that the appetite is not cloyed but whetted. If you know the love of Jesus — as the deer pants for streams of water, so will you pant after the deeper depths of His love. If you don't desire to know Him better, then you don't love Him, for love always cries, "Nearer, nearer." Absence from Christ is hell; but the presence of Jesus is heaven. Don't be content to not increase your familiarity with Jesus. Seek to know more of Him in His divine nature, in His human relationship, in His finished work, in His death, in His resurrection, in His present glorious intercession, and in His future royal advent. Live close by the Cross and search the mystery of His wounds. An increase of love for Jesus and a more perfect apprehension of His love for us is one of the best tests of growth in grace.
"Although Joseph recognized his brothers, they did not recognize him."
— Genesis 42:8
This morning our desires were directed toward increasing our familiarity with the Lord Jesus. It may be appropriate tonight to consider a kindred topic, namely, our heavenly Joseph's knowledge of us. This was most blessedly perfect long before we had the slightest knowledge of Him. "Your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in Your book before one of them came to be." Before we had a being in the world we had a being in His heart. When we were enemies to Him, He knew us, our misery, our madness, and our wickedness. When we wept bitterly in despairing repentance, and viewed Him only as a judge and a ruler, He viewed us lovingly as His kin, and His heart yearned towards us. He never mistook His chosen, but always looked on them as objects of His infinite affection. "The Lord knows those who are His," is as true of the prodigals who are feeding swine as of the children who sit at the table.
But, alas! we did not know our royal Brother, and out of this ignorance grew a host of sins. We withheld our hearts from Him and did not allow Him access to our love. We mistrusted Him and gave no credit to His words. We rebelled against Him and paid Him no loving homage. The Sun of Righteousness shone forth, and we couldn't see Him. Heaven came down to earth, and earth perceived it not. Let God be praised, those days are over for us; yet even now we know so little of Jesus compared with what He knows of us. We have just begun to study Him, but He knows us completely. It is a blessed circumstance that this ignorance is not on His side, for then it would be a hopeless case for us. He will not say to us, "I never knew you," but He will confess our names in the day of His appearing and, meanwhile, will make Himself known to us in ways He does not show the world.
"God saw that the light was good, and he separated the light from the darkness."
— Genesis 1:4
Light might well be good since it sprang from that fiat of goodness, "Let there be light." We who enjoy it should be more grateful for it than we are, and see more of God in it and by it. Physical light is said by Solomon to be sweet, but gospel light is infinitely more precious because it reveals eternal things and ministers to our immortal natures. When the Holy Spirit gives us spiritual light, and opens our eyes to behold the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ, we behold sin in its true colors, and ourselves in our real position; we see the Most Holy God as He reveals Himself, the plan of mercy as He propounds it, and the world to come as the Word describes it. Spiritual light has many beams and prismatic colors, but whether they be knowledge, joy, holiness, or life, all are divinely good. If the light received is good in this way, what must the essential light be, and how glorious must be the place where He reveals Himself! O Lord, since light is so good, give us more of it, and more of Yourself, the true light.
Excerpted from Morning and Evening by Charles Spurgeon. Copyright © 2011 Hendrickson Publishers Marketing, LLC. Excerpted by permission of Hendrickson Publishers Marketing, LLC.
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