GOD GIVES HOPE

I pray that the God who gives hope will fill you with much joy and peace while you trust in him. Then your hope will overflow by the power of the Holy Spirit. ROMANS 15:13

Heaven’s hope does for your world what the sunlight did for my grandmother’s cellar. I owe my love of peach preserves to her. She canned her own and stored them in an underground cellar near her West Texas house. It was a deep hole with wooden steps, plywood walls, and a musty smell. As a youngster I used to climb in, close the door, and see how long I could last in the darkness … I would sit silently, listening to my breath and heartbeats, until I couldn’t take it anymore and then would race up the stairs and throw open the door. Light would avalanche into the cellar. What a change! Moments before I couldn’t see anything—all of a sudden I could see everything.

Just as light poured into the cellar, God’s hope pours into your world. Upon the sick, he shines the ray of healing. To the bereaved, he gives the promise of reunion. To the confused, he offers the light of Scripture.

from TRAVELING LIGHT

The Danger of Bitterness

1 Samuel 18:1-30

King Saul had it all: God’s anointing on him as ruler; the prophet Samuel to guide him; the power and wealth of the kingdom of Israel; the applause of the people. Yet he died a bitter man. What steps led to his downfall?

• Anger. When Goliath was defeated, the crowds praised Saul as a killer of thousands but David as a slayer of tens of thousands. Instead of rejoicing that God had raised up someone to slay the giant, Saul grew angry with David for receiving more praise than he did.

• Wrong thinking. Saul’s flaring temper affected his mind, and he became suspicious of David’s motives. He started thinking that since the Lord was with David, the young man would want to take over the kingdom right away.

• Fear. Saul’s fear led to plotting against David and throwing spears at him.

• Rejection. The king sent David away from his presence.

• Dread. Saul’s fear grew stronger with David’s military success and the people’s growing love for the younger man.

• Deceitful action. Twice the king tried to manipulate David by offering one of his daughters in marriage. Both times he plotted to get David killed by the Philistines, and each attempt failed. Saul’s response was to become David’s enemy for the rest of his days. From then on, bitterness reigned.

Although the details of our lives differ from Saul’s, the steps to bitterness and ruin are the same. What unresolved anger do you allow to fester? Whom do you avoid because of ill will? Won’t you confess your sin, turn to God, and be set free?

Foolish Talking

“Neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor jesting, which are not convenient: but rather giving of thanks.” (Ephesians 5:4)

In the book of Ephesians are included several guidelines for the Christian’s speech—how we should talk and what we should talk about. These are not easy rules to follow, but are necessary if we would please our Savior and be effective in our Christian lives and witness.

As our text indicates, vulgar talk, idle chatter, and coarse jesting should “not be once named among you, as becometh saints” (5:3). “Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers” (4:29).

The same applies to bitter, angry, malicious speech. “Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamor, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice” (4:31). And certainly our communications should be true and trustworthy. “Wherefore putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbor” (4:25).

Thus, our words should not be crude or obscene, idle or foolish, bitter or angry, false or malicious. Instead, they should be good words, true words, gracious words, intended to edify—that is, build up—our hearers in their own Christian lives.

Further, if we would win others to Christ, we must always be “speaking the truth in love” (4:15). What we say to them must be fully in accord with both biblical truth and genuine Christian love. Finally, we should “be filled with the Spirit; Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord; Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ” (5:18-20). Gracious, edifying words can only come from a thankful heart. HMM

In waiting, I waited, for the Lord

“In waiting, I waited, for the Lord.” (Psalm 40:1, margin.)

WAITING is much more difficult than walking. Waiting requires patience, and patience is a rare virtue. It is fine to know that God builds hedges around His people—when the hedge is looked at from the viewpoint of protection. But when the hedge is kept around one until it grows so high that he cannot see over the top, and wonders whether he is ever to get out of the little sphere of influence and service in which he is pent up, it is hard for him sometimes to understand why he may not have a larger environment—hard for him to “brighten the corner” where he is. But God has a purpose in all HIS holdups. “The steps of a good man are ordered of the Lord,” reads Psalm 37:23.

On the margin of his Bible at this verse George Mueller had a notation, “And the stops also.” It is a sad mistake for men to break through God’s hedges. It is a vital principle of guidance for a Christian never to move out of the place in which he is sure God has placed him, until the Pillar of Cloud moves. —Sunday School Times.

When we learn to wait for our Lord’s lead in everything, we shall know the strength that finds its climax in an even, steady walk. Many of us are lacking in the strength we so covet. But God gives full power for every task He appoints. Waiting, holding oneself true to His lead—this is the secret of strength. And anything that falls out of the line of obedience is a waste of time and strength. Watch for His leading.—S. D. Gordon.

Must life be a failure for one compelled to stand still in enforced inaction and see the great throbbing tides of life go by? No; victory is then to be gotten by standing still, by quiet waiting. It is a thousand times harder to do this than it was in the active days to rush on in the columns of stirring life. It requires a grander heroism to stand and wait and not lose heart and. not lose hope, to submit to the will of God, to give up work and honors to others, to be quiet, confident and rejoicing, while the happy, busy multitude go on and away. It is the grandest life “having done all, to stand.“—J. R. Miller.

Ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit

“Ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit.” Romans 8:23

Present possession is declared. At this present moment we have the first fruits of the Spirit. We have repentance, that gem of the first water; faith, that priceless pearl; hope, the heavenly emerald; and love, the glorious ruby. We are already made “new creatures in Christ Jesus,” by the effectual working of God the Holy Ghost. This is called the firstfruit because it comes first. As the wave-sheaf was the first of the harvest, so the spiritual life, and all the graces which adorn that life, are the first operations of the Spirit of God in our souls.

The firstfruits were the pledge of the harvest. As soon as the Israelite had plucked the first handful of ripe ears, he looked forward with glad anticipation to the time when the wain should creak beneath the sheaves. So, brethren, when God gives us things which are pure, lovely, and of good report, as the work of the Holy Spirit, these are to us the prognostics of the coming glory. The firstfruits were always holy to the Lord, and our new nature, with all its powers, is a consecrated thing. The new life is not ours that we should ascribe its excellence to our own merit; it is Christ’s image and creation, and is ordained for His glory.

But the firstfruits were not the harvest, and the works of the Spirit in us at this moment are not the consummation—the perfection is yet to come. We must not boast that we have attained, and so reckon the wave-sheaf to be all the produce of the year: we must hunger and thirst after righteousness, and pant for the day of full redemption. Dear reader, this evening open your mouth wide, and God will fill it. Let the boon in present possession excite in you a sacred avarice for more grace. Groan within yourself for higher degrees of consecration, and your Lord will grant them to you, for He is able to do exceeding abundantly above what we ask or even think.

Give unto the Lord the glory due unto His name

“Give unto the Lord the glory due unto His name.” Psalm 29:2

God’s glory is the result of His nature and acts. He is glorious in His character, for there is such a store of everything that is holy, and good, and lovely in God, that He must be glorious. The actions which flow from His character are also glorious; but while He intends that they should manifest to His creatures His goodness, and mercy, and justice, He is equally concerned that the glory associated with them should be given only to Himself. Nor is there aught in ourselves in which we may glory; for who maketh us to differ from another? And what have we that we did not receive from the God of all grace? Then how careful ought we to be to walk humbly before the Lord!

The moment we glorify ourselves, since there is room for one glory only in the universe, we set ourselves up as rivals to the Most High. Shall the insect of an hour glorify itself against the sun which warmed it into life? Shall the potsherd exalt itself above the man who fashioned it upon the wheel? Shall the dust of the desert strive with the whirlwind? Or the drops of the ocean struggle with the tempest? Give unto the Lord, all ye righteous, give unto the Lord glory and strength; give unto Him the honour that is due unto His name. Yet it is, perhaps, one of the hardest struggles of the Christian life to learn this sentence—”Not unto us, not unto us, but unto Thy name be glory.”

It is a lesson which God is ever teaching us, and teaching us sometimes by most painful discipline. Let a Christian begin to boast, “I can do all things,” without adding “through Christ which strengtheneth me,” and before long he will have to groan, “I can do nothing,” and bemoan himself in the dust. When we do anything for the Lord, and He is pleased to accept of our doings, let us lay our crown at His feet, and exclaim, “Not I, but the grace of God which was with me!”