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A Christmas question

 

 

For unto us a child is born, unto us a Son is given.   Isaiah 9:6

Suggested Further Reading: Luke 2:8-20

Why are we sad? I am looking upon faces just now that appear the very reverse of gloomy, but maybe the smile covers an aching heart. Brother and sister, why are we sad this morning, if unto us a child is born, if unto us a Son is given? Listen to the cry! It is “Harvest home! Harvest home!” See the maidens as they dance, and the young men as they make merry. And why is this mirth? Because they are storing the precious fruits of the earth, they are gathering together into their barns wheat which will soon be consumed. And what, brothers and sisters, have we the bread which endureth to eternal life and are we unhappy? Does the worldling rejoice when his corn is increased, and do we not rejoice when,  Unto us a child is born, and unto us a Son is given?” Listen yonder! What means the firing of the Tower guns? Why all this ringing of bells in the church steeples, as if all London were mad with joy? There is a prince born; therefore there is this salute, and therefore are the bells ringing. Ah, Christians, ring the bells of your hearts, fire the salute of your most joyous songs, For unto us a child is born, unto us a Son is given  Dance, O my heart, and ring out peals of gladness! Ye drops of blood within my veins, dance every one of you! Oh! All my nerves become harp strings, and let gratitude touch you with angelic fingers! And thou, my tongue, shout—shout to his praise, who hath said to you:  Unto you a child is born, unto you a Son is given.  Wipe that tear away! Come, stop that sighing! Hush your murmuring. What matters your poverty?  Unto you a child is born.  What matters your sickness?   Unto you a Son is given.  What matters your sin? For this child shall take the sin away, and this Son shall wash and make you fit for heaven.

For meditation: God sent his only begotten Son to be born as a child, so that sinners could be born again and become the children of God. The deepest sadness belongs to all who still refuse to trust in the Lord Jesus Christ as their Saviour (John 1:12-13).

Sermon no. 291 25 December (1859)

All rights belong to the collections of Charles Spurgeon

MARY’ SONG

Mary’s song

 

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And Mary said, My soul doth magnify the Lord, and my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour

Luke 1:4617

Suggested Further Reading: Matthew 2:1-12

When we meet with our kinsfolk and acquaintances, let it be our prayer to God that our communion may be not only pleasant, but profitable; that we may not merely pass away time and spend a pleasant hour, but may advance a day’s march nearer heaven, and acquire greater fitness for our eternal rest. Observe the sacred joy of Mary that you may imitate it. This is a season when all men expect us to be joyous. We compliment each other with the desire that we may have a Merry Christmas. Some Christians who are a little squeamish, do not like the word merry.  It is a right good old Saxon word, having the joy of childhood and the mirth of manhood in it; it brings before one’s mind the old song of the waits, and the midnight peal of bells, the holly and the blazing log. This is the season when we are expected to be happy; and my heart’s desire is, that in the highest and best sense, you who are believers may be merry.  Mary’s heart was merry within her; but here was the mark of her joy, it was all holy merriment, it was every drop of it sacred mirth. It was not such merriment as worldlings will revel in today and tomorrow, but such merriment as the angels have around the throne, where they sing, Glory to God in the highest, while we sing On earth peace, good will toward men. Such merry hearts have a continual feast. I want you, children of the bride-chamber, to possess today and tomorrow, and all your days, the high and consecrated bliss of Mary, that you may not only read her words, but use them for yourselves, ever experiencing their meaning: My soul doth magnify the Lord, and my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour.

For meditation: The reasons why Mary’s soul magnified the Lord were God’s might and majesty (Luke 1:49), God’s mercy (Luke 1:50) and God’s memory (Luke 1:54-55). Such holy mirth is good for the soul (2 Chronicles 7:10; Proverbs 15:13,15; 17:22; James 5:13) and makes for a truly Merry Christmas.

Sermon no. 606 25 December (1864)

All rights belong to the collection of Charles Spurgeon(C)



 

Compel them to come in

Compel them to come in

THE THIRD TEMPLE

Compel them to come in.  Luke 14:23

Suggested Further Reading: John 3:31-36

I beseech you by him that liveth and was dead, and is alive for evermore, consider my master’s message which he instructs me now to address you. But do you spurn it? Do you still refuse it? Then I must change my tone a minute. I will not merely tell you the message, and invite you as I do with all earnestness, and sincere affection—I will go further. Sinner, in God’s name, I command you to repent and believe. Do you ask me my authority? I am an ambassador of heaven. My credentials, some of them secret, and in my own heart; and others of them open before you this day in the seals of my ministry, sitting and standing in this hall, where God has given me many souls for my hire. As God the everlasting one has given me a commission to preach his gospel, I command you to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ; not on my own authority, but on the authority of him who said, “Go ye into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature;” and then he annexed this solemn sanction, “He that believeth and is baptised shall be saved, but he that believeth not shall be damned.” Reject my message, and remember “He that despised Moses’ law died without mercy under two or three witnesses: of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God.” An ambassador is not to stand below the man with whom he deals, for we stand higher. If the minister chooses to take his proper rank, girded with the omnipotence of God, and anointed with his holy unction, he is to command men, and speak with all authority compelling them to come in: “command, exhort, rebuke with all longsuffering.”

For meditation: Do we regard the Gospel as a take-it or leave-it option? The opposite of trusting in Christ is disobedience (Romans 1:5 and 16:26).

Sermon no. 227 5 December (1858)

All rights belong to the collections of Charles Spurgeon(C)

 

A Burden We Gladly Bare

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April 5th — Morning Reading

“On Him they laid the cross, that He might bear it after Jesus.”— Luke 23:26

We see in Simon’s carrying the cross a picture of the work of the Church throughout all generations; she is the cross-bearer after Jesus. Mark then, Christian, Jesus does not suffer so as to exclude your suffering. He bears a cross, not that you may escape it, but that you may endure it. Christ exempts you from sin, but not from sorrow. Remember that, and expect to suffer.

But let us comfort ourselves with this thought, that in our case, as in Simon’s, it is not our cross, but Christ’s cross which we carry. When you are molested for your piety; when your religion brings the trial of cruel mockings upon you, then remember it is not your cross, it is Christ’s cross; and how delightful is it to carry the cross of our Lord Jesus!

You carry the cross after Him. You have blessed company; your path is marked with the footprints of your Lord. The mark of His blood-red shoulder is upon that heavy burden. ‘TisHis cross, and He goes before you as a shepherd goes before his sheep. Take up your cross daily, and follow Him.

Do not forget, also, that you bear this cross in partnership. It is the opinion of some that Simon only carried one end of the cross, and not the whole of it. That is very possible; Christ may have carried the heavier part, against the transverse beam, and Simon may have borne the lighter end. Certainly it is so with you; you do but carry the light end of the cross, Christ bore the heavier end.

And remember, though Simon had to bear the cross for a very little while, it gave him lasting honour. Even so the cross we carry is only for a little while at most, and then we shall receive the crown, the glory. Surely we should love the cross, and, instead of shrinking from it, count it very dear, when it works out for us “a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.”

All rights belong to the collection of Charles Spurgeon(C)

 

MAY 27, 2013 DELAYED PRAYER IS NOT ALWAYS DENIAL

Elisabeth

The Woman Who Bore a Son in Her Old Age

Scripture Reference—Luke 1:5-80

Name Meaning—Elisabeth means “God is my oath” that is, “a worshiper of God.” In his hymn of praise, uttered soon after the birth of his son John, Zacharias alludes to the significance of his wife’s name when he said, “the oath which God swore to Abraham.” The son was called John by divine command, and means “the mercy or favor of God.”

Family Connections—Luke describes Elisabeth as “one of the daughters of Aaron” which means she came of an honored priestly line (Exodus 6:23). She was the wife of a priest, Zacharias, of the course of Abia, that is one of the sets of priests who ministered in the Temple from Sabbath to Sabbath (1 Chronicles 24:10). There was thus a priestly descent on both sides. Priests were allowed to marry pious women (Leviticus 21:7). Elisabeth became the mother of John the Baptist, the forerunner of Jesus Christ. Assessing the life and character of Elisabeth we know that she was prominent as—

A Godly Woman

It is said of both Elisabeth and Zacharias that they were “righteous before God, walking in all the commandments of the Lord blameless.” What a coveted commendation! The priestly wife was a woman of unusual piety, strong faith and spiritual gifts. All through her life she preserved the blessed traditions of Aaron and his descendants.

A Childless Woman

Righteous toward God and most faithful to her husband we yet have five words containing a world of heartbreak and disappointment, “And they had no child.” For years they had both prayed and longed for a child; now they were both well-stricken in years and the prospect of natural childbearing was past. A childless state, more so for the daughter of a priest and the wife of a priest, was humiliating, for in Israel it was the dream of every woman that it might be her privilege to be the mother of the Messiah, promised to Eve, earth’s first mother.

A Privileged Woman

For this beloved wife with a pious heart and cultivated intellect, God performed a miracle, as He did for Mary her cousin. “She conceived a son in her old age.” It was while Zacharias was exercising his holy office in the sanctuary that the angelic messenger appeared and said, “Thy prayer is heard; and thy wife Elisabeth shall bear thee a son, and thou shalt call his name John.” Although beyond the age when the birth of a child was possible, did Zacharias and his wife believe that God was able to do the impossible, and even at their advanced age remove their “reproach among men”? Well, the miracle happened. God gave Elisabeth conception, and after six months of her pregnancy, another miracle happened when without cohabitation Mary conceived by the Holy Spirit.

Zacharias, who had been struck dumb as a sign that God would fulfill His word and grant him a son, had his speech restored when John was born. He hailed John’s birth with a God-glorifying song in which he said of the God-given child, “Thou shalt be called the prophet of the highest.” This famous son, who came to prepare the way of the Lord, was privileged to have such godly parents to teach him ineffaceable lessons. But John was also directly nurtured by God in the deserts where he lived “till the day of his shewing unto Israel.” Thus, as Donald Davidson reminds us in Mothers of the Bible—

It was not at his mother’s knee that John learned the mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven, but out on the lonely desert where in the silence and the solitude he found close fellowship with God, and came to know the secrets of His will.

Because of their old age when their son was born, we can assume that Zacharias and Elisabeth both died years before their godly son was cruelly murdered by Herod.

But Elisabeth was a privileged woman in another way in that she was the first woman to confess Jesus in the flesh. When she was six months with child she was visited by her cousin Mary and as soon as the Virgin entered the home, the babe leaped in Elisabeth’s womb, as if to welcome the One whom Mary was to bear. Both mother and child were affected by the Holy Spirit, and Elisabeth gave Mary the most honorable of names, “The mother of my Lord.” Elisabeth knew the Messiah was come and she prayed to Him and confessed Him. All Messianic hopes were about to be fulfilled for, “There, beneath that woman’s clothes, my Saviour is concealed.” It was her Spirit-filled greeting which prompted Mary to reply in a song called,The Magnificat (Luke 1:46-56; compare 1 Samuel 2:1-10).

For queens and females of all walks of life Elisabeth has been a favorite name, evidenced by the fact that in America alone there are almost two million females bearing such an honored name. If only all who bear this name would be “righteous before God” and blameless in character, what a mighty spiritual force they would be in the life of the nation of which they are a part. The present sovereign of Great Britain is Queen Elizabeth II, who seeks to live a life beyond reproach, and who manifests deep interest in Dr. Billy Graham’s work.

 

KINGDOM OF GOD

Luke 17:20-37

The Coming of the Kingdom of God

20 Once, on being asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, Jesus replied, “The coming of the kingdom of God is not something that can be observed, 21 nor will people say, ‘Here it is,’ or ‘There it is,’ because the kingdom of God is in your midst.”[a]

22 Then he said to his disciples, “The time is coming when you will long to see one of the days of the Son of Man, but you will not see it. 23 People will tell you, ‘There he is!’ or ‘Here he is!’ Do not go running off after them. 24 For the Son of Man in his day[b] will be like the lightning, which flashes and lights up the sky from one end to the other. 25 But first he must suffer many things and be rejected by this generation.

26 “Just as it was in the days of Noah, so also will it be in the days of the Son of Man.27 People were eating, drinking, marrying and being given in marriage up to the day Noah entered the ark. Then the flood came and destroyed them all.

28 “It was the same in the days of Lot. People were eating and drinking, buying and selling, planting and building. 29 But the day Lot left Sodom, fire and sulfur rained down from heaven and destroyed them all.

30 “It will be just like this on the day the Son of Man is revealed. 31 On that day no one who is on the housetop, with possessions inside, should go down to get them. Likewise, no one in the field should go back for anything. 32 Remember Lot’s wife! 33 Whoever tries to keep their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life will preserve it. 34 I tell you, on that night two people will be in one bed; one will be taken and the other left. 35 Two women will be grinding grain together; one will be taken and the other left.” [36] [c]

37 “Where, Lord?” they asked.

He replied, “Where there is a dead body, there the vultures will gather.”

Footnotes:

  1. Luke 17:21 Or is within you
  2. Luke 17:24 Some manuscripts do not have in his day.
  3. Luke 17:36 Some manuscripts include here words similar to Matt. 24:40.

CHRIST OUR REMEEMER

Christ is our Redeemer

Were You There?

As his body was taken away, the women from Galilee followed and saw the tomb where they placed his body. Then they went home and prepared spices and ointments to embalm him. But by the time they were finished it was the Sabbath, so they rested all that day as required by the law.

Luke 23:55-56 NLT

Were you there when they crucified my Lord? Were you there when they crucified my Lord? O! Sometimes it causes me to tremble, tremble, tremble! Were you there when they crucified my Lord?

Were you there when they laid Him in the tomb? Were you there when they laid Him in the tomb? O! Sometimes it causes me to tremble, tremble, tremble! Were you there when they laid Him in the tomb?

Were You There? Traditional spiritual

Experience the “tremble”

This favorite hymn comes from the rich American spiritual tradition, probably developed in the early 1800s by African-American slaves. As in most spirituals, the words are simple, seizing on one central theme or concept.

Spirituals tend to have a lot of emotional appeal. As a result, this hymn, like few others, puts the singer there. We experience the “tremble” as we sing it. And in the triumphant final stanza, we experience the glory of a risen Lord. We are called out of the cold analysis of Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection into the moment of living it. We are called out of the theological debate and into the stark reality. We hear the nails pounded into the cross, we see the onlookers wagging their heads, we smell the burial spices, and we feel the rumble of the stone rolling away. And we tremble… tremble… tremble.

Our Holy Week readings are adapted from The One Year® Book of Hymns by Mark Norton and Robert Brown, Tyndale House Publishers (1995). Today’s is taken from the entry for March 21.

Content is derived from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation and other publications of Tyndale Publishing House