Thursday, December 2, 2010 | By: Zachary Bartels

Christmas Morning (and Evening)

First of all, let me just apologize for not blogging for a full month. I have been giving most of my free time (and my creative energy) to a couple of projects, which lend to this preacher’s mind a sense of Ahhh, that is complete that is ordinarily missing from a life of ministry. I will be talking your ear off about a couple of these projects soon enough. For now, let me talk about Spurgeon.

One of my very favorite preachers of all time, Rev. Charles Haddon Spurgeon, lived from 1834-1892, and pastored the famous New Park Street Chapel in London (called there when he was only 19 years old!). I read at least one Spurgeon sermon each week and am always blown away, inspired, and convicted.

I also appreciate Spurgeon’s devotional book, Morning and Evening, which offers two short devotionals for each day of the year, one intended for reading as the day begins, and one for reading as the day ends. Each devotional entry is short—sometimes, no longer than an article in “Our Daily Bread” (which I often call “Our Daily Crouton”) but the depth and insight contained within are far beyond any modern devotional I’ve ever encountered.

If you are looking to deepen your devotional life in 2011, I highly recommend you get a hold of a copy of Morning and Evening. You can actually access this work online without trouble, and there are even a couple of sites (here and here) that will drop you off right at today's reading, but I prefer the feel of a book in my hands. Along with the Treasury of Daily Prayer, this book has been one of the greatest assets to my devotional life.

To give you a little taste, enjoy the morning and evening entries for Christmas day, which I find to be just as relevant today as they were in the 19th Century when they were first written.


Morning

”Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.”-Isaiah 7:14

Let us to-day go down to Bethlehem, and in company with wondering shepherds and adoring Magi, let us see Him who was born King of the Jews, for we by faith can claim an interest in Him, and can sing, “Unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given.” Jesus is Jehovah incarnate, our Lord and our God, and yet our brother and friend; let us adore and admire. Let us notice at the very first glance His miraculous conception. It was a thing unheard of before, and unparalleled since, that a virgin should conceive and bear a Son. The first promise ran thus, “The seed of the woman,” not the offspring of the man. Since venturous woman led the way in the sin which brought forth Paradise lost, she, and she alone, ushers in the Regainer of Paradise. Our Saviour, although truly man, was as to His human nature the Holy One of God.

Let us reverently bow before the holy Child whose innocence restores to manhood its ancient glory; and let us pray that He may be formed in us, the hope of glory. Fail not to note His humble parentage. His mother has been described simply as “a virgin,” not a princess, or prophetess, nor a matron of large estate. True the blood of kings ran in her veins; nor was her mind a weak and untaught one, for she could sing most sweetly a song of praise; but yet how humble her position, how poor the man to whom she stood affianced, and how miserable the accommodation afforded to the new-born King!

Immanuel, God with us in our nature, in our sorrow, in our lifework, in our punishment, in our grave, and now with us, or rather we with Him, in resurrection, ascension, triumph, and Second Advent splendour.

Evening

“And it was so, when the days of their feasting were gone about, that Job sent and sanctified them, and rose up early in the morning, and offered burnt offerings according to the number of them all: for Job said, It may be that my sons have sinned, and cursed God in their hearts. Thus did Job continually.”-Job 1:5


What the patriarch did early in the morning, after the family festivities, it will be well for the believer to do for himself ere he rests tonight. Amid the cheerfulness of household gatherings it is easy to slide into sinful levities, and to forget our avowed character as Christians. It ought not to be so, but so it is, that our days of feasting are very seldom days of sanctified enjoyment, but too frequently degenerate into unhallowed mirth. There is a way of joy as pure and sanctifying as though one bathed in the rivers of Eden: holy gratitude should be quite as purifying an element as grief. Alas! for our poor hearts, that facts prove that the house of mourning is better than the house of feasting.

Come, believer, in what have you sinned to-day? Have you been forgetful of your high calling? Have you been even as others in idle words and loose speeches? Then confess the sin, and fly to the sacrifice. The sacrifice sanctifies. The precious blood of the Lamb slain removes the guilt, and purges away the defilement of our sins of ignorance and carelessness. This is the best ending of a Christmas-day-to wash anew in the cleansing fountain. Believer, come to this sacrifice continually; if it be so good to-night, it is good every night. To live at the altar is the privilege of the royal priesthood; to them sin, great as it is, is nevertheless no cause for despair, since they draw near yet again to the sin-atoning victim, and their conscience is purged from dead works.

Gladly I close this festive day,
Grasping the altar’s hallow'd horn;
My slips and faults are washed away,
The Lamb has all my trespass borne.


By the way, if you’re intrigued by the evening reading, Spurgeon preached an entire Christmas sermon from that text, which you can read here or listen to here.

Soli Deo Gloria,
Pastor Zach

6 reader comments:

Erin said...

This is very interesting to me, because I find that the time I have the most sinful thoughts and say the most sinful things is when I'm in conversation with friends, even Christian friends, and we're just doing the standard "idle chatter" thing. If I didn't talk to anyone, I would sin far less. The scary thing is, I don't usually notice this. Only if others are being more harsh than I am do I realize what's really going on.

Αναστασία said...

Zach, I'm writing a piece to read for our church's Christmas concert this year, and these thoughts from Spurgeon are incredibly inspirational and helpful.
Thank you so much for sharing!

Cory said...

"Our Daily Crouton." I love it.

Anonymous said...

My husband just brought back that book from London a couple of weeks ago and we're both reading through it. Love it. He got to visit Spurgeon's former church a couple of years ago. (the original building burned down, but another church was built in the same spot)

-Rachel Sawatzky

Steph said...

To Zach: I find it rather adorable what your wife said, about the fact that if she never talked to anyone, she would sin far less. :) I chuckled a bit, even. And, I don't think anyone expects an apology for you not blogging in a month's time, with all that you do, and all that is on your plate. (Though I do enjoy reading when you do.)

To Erin: We are all sinners. Me, maybe even more than the majority. But, I imagine that God looks upon you in the same way that I'm sure most people do. The both of you are amazing. Truth be told, even though I don't know you, I look up to you and Zach. You both are an inspiration to me, as far as what good people are supposed to be like. How husbands and wives are supposed to cherish one another, and what a truly happy family looks like. I honestly believe that the two of you set an example for others.

Xo,
Steph

Erin said...

Thanks, Steph. Those kinds words are truly appreciated.