for he will be great in the sight of the Lord. He shall never take wine or strong drink, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit even from his mother's womb.
1. ONE TAKING HIGH RANK WITH GOD. "Great in the sight of the Lord." By faith in Jesus Christ our child may become a "son of God" in a sense not only true but high (see John 1:12). "And if children, then heirs, heirs of God" (Romans 8:17). Obedience will ensure the friendship of God (see John 14:23; John 15:14). Earnestness will make him a fellow-laborer with God (1 Corinthians 2:9; 2 Corinthians 6:1). The acceptance of all Christian privilege will make him a "king and priest unto God" (Revelation 1:6). Who can compute how much better it is to be thus "great in the sight of the Lord" than to be honored and even idolized by men?
II. ONE IN WHOM GOD HIMSELF DWELLS. "He shall be filled with the Holy Ghost." God desires to dwell with and in every one of his human children; and if there be purity of heart and prayerfulness of spirit, he will dwell in them continually (Luke 11:13; John 14:17; 1 Corinthians 3:16; 1 Corinthians 6:19; Revelation 3:20).
III. ONE THAT IS MASTER OF HIMSELF. "He shall drink neither wine," etc. By right example and wise discipline any man's child may be trained to control his own appetites, to regulate his tastes, to form temperate and pure habits, to wield the worthiest of all scepters - mastery of himself.
IV. ONE IN WHOM THE BEST AND NOBLEST LIVES AGAIN. "He shall go in the spirit and power of Elijah." In John the Baptist there lived again the great Prophet Elijah - a man of self-denying habit; of dauntless courage, that feared the face of no man, and that rebuked kings without flinching; of strong and scathing utterance; of devoted and heroic life. In any one of our children there may live again that One who "in all things in which John was great and noble, was greater and nobler than he." In the little child who is trained in the truth and led into the love of Christ there may dwell the mind and spirit of the Son of God himself (Romans 8:9; Philippians 2:5).
V. ONE THAT LIVES A LIFE OF HOLY USEFULNESS. What nobler ambition can we cherish for our children than that, in their sphere, they should do as John did in his - spend their life in the service of their kind? Like him, they may:
1. Make many a home holier and happier than it would have been.
2. Prepare the way for others to follow with their higher wisdom and larger influence.
3. Be instrumental in turning disobedient hearts from the way of folly to the path of wisdom.
4. Earn the benediction of" many" whom they have blessed (verse 14). To ensure all this, there must be:
1. Parental example in righteousness and wisdom.
2. Parental training as well as teaching.
3. Parental intercession. - C.
For he shall be great in the sight of the Lord.
1. He who wins this greatness does not attain it at the expense of others.
2. We may win this greatness anywhere.
3. This greatness is satisfying to its possessor.The highest commendation one can earn is this — "He hath done what he could;" and the noblest life-record is that which comes nearest to His of whom it was said that "He went about doing good." That is fame, though no earthly herald may trumpet it abroad, for Christ shall proclaim it on the day of days before the assembled universe.
(Dr. W. M. Taylor.)
(A. M. Fairbairn, D. D.)
(Archdeacon Farrar.)versus the Spirit! The disease was not drunkenness. The drunkenness was a casual episode. The souls of these men had an empty chamber which must be filled. Their legitimate food was God. This was rejected or neglected. But the void remained. That could not be neglected. It must be filled with God or with a substitute. We may choose this substitute for ourselves, but we cannot not-choose it, for nature abhors a vacuum. The Ephesians had made their choice — it was wine. This was what Paul saw. To cure it how was he to proceed? He could not enjoin abstinence. The problem was not the drink, but the vacuum. He must make some proposal, therefore, about the vacuum. "Fill yourselves," he says, "with the Spirit of God." There is a valid relation between the stimulus of intoxicants and the stimulus of religion. Either, so far, will carry out the law of filling the vacuum. But merely to adjure a man not to be filled with wine is to command an impossibility. You must give him another stimulus equally absorbing, intenser, richer, and when the sensual passion is high and strong your substitute must be supreme. There is only one thing which will absorb it quite — the more abundant life of God.
(Professor Drummond.)The choice is not between God and an empty heart. Man is like a house situated between two winds. On the one side comes the wind from a dreary, bleak desert, laden with fog and disease, blowing across things foul and rotten. The other side of the house fronts the sunlight, and winds that blow from the wide, fresh sea, and over gardens, orchards, and blooming fields. Every one must decide to which side he is going to open. Both doors cannot be shut. You can only get the dismal, fatal door shut by opening wide the door that looks to the sea of eternity, and the sunshine of God. The wind blowing in through this open door keeps that door of ruin shut.
(Dr. Joseph Leckie.)I. To be "children of Israel" not necessarily equivalent to being spiritually "sons of Abraham" (John 8:39).
II. As a historical fact the children of Israel over and over again turned from the Lord, and at the beginning of the Baptist's ministry nearly the whole nation had sunk into religious formalism.
III. But repentance was still possible to Israel after ages of unfaithfulness. Still they might turn to the Lord their God. John's message was "Repent!" and his preaching produced the effects here foretold (see Luke 3:7-14).
IV. "He shall turn." Recognition of human instrumentality in the doing of the work which only the Spirit of God can do — the production of conviction leading to conversion.
(J. R. Bailey.)
(Henry R. Burton.)
Christian Chronicle.When General Grant was in command of the army before Vicksburg, a number of officers were gathered at his headquarters. One of them invited the party to join in a social glass; all but one accepted. He asked to be excused, saying that he "never drank." The hour passed, and each went his way to his respective command. A few days after this the officer who declined to drink received a note from General Grant to report at headquarters. He obeyed the order, and Grant said to him, "You are the officer, I believe, who remarked the other day that you never drank?" The officer modestly answered that he was. "Then," continued the General, "you are the man I have been looking for to take charge of the Commissary Department, and I order that you be detailed to that duty." He served all through the war in that responsible department, and afterwards, when General Grant became President, the officer who never drank was again in request. The President, needing a man on whom he could rely for some important business, gave him the appointment.
(Canon Basil Wilberforce.)tantrums," as he called them. Thus when a sinner parleys with his Saviour he would fain have a little of the honour of his salvation, he would save alive some favourite sin, he would fain amend the humbling terms of grace; but there is no help for it, Jesus will be all in all, and the sinner must be nothing at all. The surrender must be complete, there must be no tantrums, but the heart must without reserve submit to the sovereignty of the Redeemer.
(C. H. Spurgeon.)
(W. M. Punshon, D,D.)
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