Waiting To Cheer

In his very first Little League baseball game, a young player on the team I was coaching got hit in the face with a ball. He was not hurt but was understandably shaken. For the rest of the season, he was afraid of the ball. Game after game, he bravely tried, but he just couldn’t seem to hit the ball.

In our final game, we were hopelessly behind, with nothing to cheer about.Then that young man stepped up to take his turn.Thwack!To everyone’s surprise, he hit the ball sharply!His teammates went wild; his parents and his teammates’ parents cheered loudly. Even though we were still losing the game, I was jumping up and down! We all loved this kid and cheered him on.

I imagine that the Lord cheers us on in our lives as well. He loves us deeply and desires that we “may be able to comprehend . . . what is the width and length and depth and height—to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge” (Eph. 3:18-19).

Some think of the Lord as unloving and waiting for us to slip up so He can punish us. So we have the privilege of telling them of His deep love for them. Imagine their joy when they hear about the God who loves them so much that He sent His only Son to die on the cross for their sin and who wants to cheer them on!

Help us, heavenly Father, to see the many
ways You love and encourage us; then help
us to love and encourage those around
us so that they can see You in us.

The nail-pierced hands of Jesus reveal the love-filled heart of God.

Faith Meets Grace

Let us come near to God with a sincere heart and a sure faith, because we have been made free from a guilty conscience.… HEBREWS 10:22

Faith is not born at the negotiating table where we barter our gifts in exchange for God’s goodness. Faith is not an award given to the most learned. It’s not a prize given to the most disciplined. It’s not a title bequeathed to the most religious.

Faith is a desperate dive out of the sinking boat of human effort and a prayer that God will be there to pull us out of the water. The apostle Paul wrote about this kind of faith:

“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast” (Eph. 2:8–9).

The supreme force in salvation is God’s grace.

In the Eye of the Storm

The Father’s Love for the Son

“And lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” (Matthew 3:17)

In this remarkable verse, God the Father, speaking from heaven itself, introduces His beloved Son to the world. This is the first New Testament reference to “love,” just as the Father’s love for the Son was the first love that ever existed. As Christ prayed in the upper room, “For thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world” (John 17:24).

There are many other references to the Father’s love for the Son, including two to the voice at His baptism (Mark 1:11; Luke 3:22) and two more in the upper room prayer (John 17:23,26). One great reason for that love is the following: “Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life” (John 10:17).

The extent of the Father’s love for His blessed Son was all-encompassing. “The Father loveth the Son, and hath given all things into his hand” (John 3:35). Furthermore, “the Father loveth the Son, and showeth Him all things that Himself doeth” (John 5:20).

God also spoke of His “beloved Son” on the Mount of Transfiguration, as cited four times (Matthew 17:5; Mark 9:7; Luke 9:35; 2 Peter 1:17). Thus there are seven references in the New Testament to the Father’s heavenly testimony to His beloved Son. Similarly there are seven passages where the Son Himself testifies of that Fatherly love. In addition to the six cited above, Christ said, “As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you” (John 15:9).

Seven testimonies from the Father and seven from the Son! Surely the Father loved the Son with a perfect love. And yet–“Herein is love . . . that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins” (1 John 4:10). Such love for unworthy sinners merits nothing less than total thanksgiving from us. HMM

I had fainted unless…!

“I had fainted unless…!” (Psalm 27:13.)

“FAINT NOT!”

HOW great is the temptation at this point! How the soul sinks, the heart grows sick, and the faith staggers under the keen trials and testings which come into our lives in times of special bereavement and suffering.

“I cannot bear up any longer, I am fainting under this providence. What shall I do? God tells me not to faint. But what can one do when he is fainting?” What do you do when you are about to faint physically? You cannot do anything. You cease from your own doings. In your faintness, you fall upon the shoulder of some strong loved one. You lean hard. You rest. You lie still and trust.

It is so when we are tempted to faint under affliction. God’s message to us is not, “Be strong and of good courage,” for He knows our strength and courage have fled away. But it is that sweet word, “Be still, and know that I am God.”

Hudson Taylor was so feeble in the closing months of his life that he wrote a dear friend: “I am so weak I cannot write; I cannot read my Bible; I cannot even pray. I can only lie still in God’s arms like a little child, and trust.”

This wondrous man of God with all his spiritual power came to a place of physical suffering and weakness where he could only lie still and trust.

And that is all God asks of you, His dear child, when you grow faint in the fierce fires of affliction. Do not try to be strong. Just be still and know that He is God, and will sustain you, and bring you through.

“God keeps His choicest cordials for our deepest faintings.”

“Stay firm and let thine heart take courage.” (Psa. 27:14—After Osterwald.)

Stay firm, He has not failed thee
In all the past,
And will He go and leave thee
To sink at last?
Nay, He said He will hide thee
Beneath His wing;
And sweetly there in safety
Thou mayest sing.
—Selected.

The only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth

“The only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.” John 1:14

Believer, YOU can bear your testimony that Christ is the only begotten of the Father, as well as the first begotten from the dead. You can say, “He is divine to me, if He be human to all the world beside. He has done that for me which none but a God could do. He has subdued my stubborn will, melted a heart of adamant, opened gates of brass, and snapped bars of iron. He hath turned for me my mourning into laughter, and my desolation into joy; He hath led my captivity captive, and made my heart rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory.

Let others think as they will of Him, to me He must be the only begotten of the Father: blessed be His name. And He is full of grace. Ah! had He not been I should never have been saved. He drew me when I struggled to escape from His grace; and when at last I came all trembling like a condemned culprit to His mercy-seat He said, ‘Thy sins which are many are all forgiven thee: be of good cheer.’ And He is full of truth. True have His promises been, not one has failed.

I bear witness that never servant had such a master as I have; never brother such a kinsman as He has been to me; never spouse such a husband as Christ has been to my soul; never sinner a better Saviour; never mourner a better comforter than Christ hath been to my spirit. I want none beside Him. In life He is my life, and in death He shall be the death of death; in poverty Christ is my riches; in sickness He makes my bed; in darkness He is my star, and in brightness He is my sun; He is the manna of the camp in the wilderness, and He shall be the new corn of the host when they come to Canaan.

Jesus is to me all grace and no wrath, all truth and no falsehood: and of truth and grace He is full, infinitely full. My soul, this night, bless with all thy might ‘the only Begotten

Now Christ is risen from the dead

“But now is Christ risen from the dead.” 1 Corinthians 15:20

The whole system of Christianity rests upon the fact that “Christ is risen from the dead;” for, “If Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain: ye are yet in your sins.” The divinity of Christ finds its surest proof in His resurrection, since He was “Declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead.” It would not be unreasonable to doubt His Deity if He had not risen.

Moreover, Christ’s sovereignty depends upon His resurrection, “For to this end Christ both died, and rose, and revived, that He might be Lord both of the dead and living.” Again, our justification, that choice blessing of the covenant, is linked with Christ’s triumphant victory over death and the grave; for “He was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification.” Nay, more, our very regeneration is connected with His resurrection, for we are “Begotten again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.” And most certainly our ultimate resurrection rests here, for, “If the Spirit of Him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, He that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by His Spirit that dwelleth in you.” If Christ be not risen, then shall we not rise; but if He be risen then they who are asleep in Christ have not perished, but in their flesh shall surely behold their God.

Thus, the silver thread of resurrection runs through all the believer’s blessings, from his regeneration onwards to his eternal glory, and binds them together. How important then will this glorious fact be in his estimation, and how will he rejoice that beyond a doubt it is established, that “now is Christ risen from the dead.”

“The promise is fulfill’d,
Redemption’s work is done,
Justice with mercy’s reconciled,
For God has raised His Son.”