the Second Week of Advent
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Charles Spurgeon's "Morning & Evening"
“Let us not sleep as do others.”
The riot at Ephesus had been quelled by the judicious words of the recorder of the city.
Not as a coward did the apostle flee from conflict, but after all danger was over in Ephesus, he carried the war into other regions. See with what affection he bade farewell to the brethren; embracing them as a father does his children.
Acts 20:2 , Acts 20:3
With unwearied energy he laboured to spread the gospel. The words of the historian are few, but we know from the epistles that each day was crowded with work for Jesus.
Paul, having seen his dear Philippian brethren, came over with Luke and joined his seven companions at Troas.
He felt that he should never speak to them again, and, therefore, he prolonged his address.
The place thus became heated, and being very crowded, the air was heavy, and it was not easy for the hearers to keep awake.
Acts 20:9 , Acts 20:10
Remember, if we go to sleep during sermon and die, there are no apostles to restore us. The word of God deserves our wakeful attention.
A quiet lonely walk of twenty miles suited Paul, it would give him space for prayer and meditation, and help him to shake off some of the depression which had gathered over his mind while he waited at Philippi. Those who labour much for the Lord must have their times of retirement for self-examination, prayer, communion with God, and preparation for future efforts.
By these descriptions of Paul’s activity we are taught to be active and energetic for our Lord. We can never do enough for him to whom we owe our all. What are we doing? There is a sphere for each one of us, whether old or young: are we filling it? Are we in earnest, or are we incurring the guilt of unprofitable servants?
Awake, my soul, stretch every nerve,
And press with vigour on;
A heavenly race demands thy zeal,
And an immortal crown.
‘Tis God’s all-animating voice
That calls thee from on high;
‘Tis his own hand presents the prize
To thine aspiring eye.
A cloud of witnesses around
Hold thee in full survey;
Forget the steps already trod,
And onward urge thy way.
“It is more blessed to give than to receive.”
The apostle was hastening to Jerusalem, and as he knew that if he called at Ephesus he would be detained, he chose a ship which did not stop at that port. There happened, however, to be a delay at Miletus, which was twenty or thirty miles from Ephesus.
The apostle’s inmost heart is seen in this touching farewell. His whole care was for the dear ones to whom his ministry had been useful, but whom he must now leave to be sorely tried. He forgot his own troubles in his anxiety for the converts. What a challenge he was able to give to these elders when he bade them bear witness to his labours and his tears! Such an example could not fail to arouse them to diligence; ought it not to stir us up? Are we living in Paul’s fashion? We owe as much to Jesus as he did. What are our returns? May the Lord make us ashamed of ourselves, and lead us to a great amendment in the matter of consecration to his glory.
If the sorrow is so great to part for a while from those whom we love, how much sharper will the pangs be of those who will for ever be parted from their godly friends at the last day! How terrible will it be to be separated eternally! God grant it may not be our lot, for Jesus’ sake.
Come, Christian brethren, ere we part,
Join every voice and every heart;
One solemn hymn to God we raise,
One joyful song of grateful praise.
Perhaps we here may meet no more,
But there is yet a happier shore;
And there, released from toil and pain,
Dear brethren, we shall meet again.