The Miracle of Belief

My speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of human wisdom . . . —1 Corinthians 2:4

Paul was a scholar and an orator of the highest degree; he was not speaking here out of a deep sense of humility, but was saying that when he preached the gospel, he would veil the power of God if he impressed people with the excellency of his speech. Belief in Jesus is a miracle produced only by the effectiveness of redemption, not by impressive speech, nor by wooing and persuading, but only by the sheer unaided power of God. The creative power of redemption comes through the preaching of the gospel, but never because of the personality of the preacher.

Real and effective fasting by a preacher is not fasting from food, but fasting from eloquence, from impressive diction, and from everything else that might hinder the gospel of God being presented. The preacher is there as the representative of God— “. . . as though God were pleading through us . . .” (2 Corinthians 5:20). He is there to present the gospel of God. If it is only because of my preaching that people desire to be better, they will never get close to Jesus Christ. Anything that flatters me in my preaching of the gospel will result in making me a traitor to Jesus, and I prevent the creative power of His redemption from doing its work.

“And I, if I am lifted up. . . , will draw all peoples to Myself” (John 12:32).

by Oswald Chambers

Dealing With Discouragement

Nehemiah 1:1-11

Discouragement can feel like a big weight upon our shoulders. It slows our steps, makes work more difficult, and diminishes our enjoyment of life.

When people regard our best efforts as unsatisfactory, their displeasure often drags us down. Constant criticism from a family member, neighbor, or coworker can affect how we feel about ourselves.

Dissatisfaction with our own performance can also prove discouraging. Perhaps this relates to a personal weakness we can’t overcome or a high personal expectation we have failed to meet. Either reason can cause dejection.

In addition, past disappointments at times cause us to feel little hope about the future. And financial pressures, declining health, and painful relationships can also take an emotional toll on us.

The life of Nehemiah teaches an important lesson about handling discouragement. He was a Hebrew living in Persia and serving as cupbearer to the king. When he received a report about the poor condition of Jerusalem and the plight of the Jewish remnant living there, he was deeply affected. In his dismay over their situation, Nehemiah turned to the Lord in prayer. He knew that only his great God could change the situation. Likewise, when we are discouraged, our first priority should be to cry out to our heavenly Father.

In his prayer, Nehemiah praised God’s awesome character, confessed his sins and the sins of others, recalled divine promises, and presented his petition. Let’s follow Nehemiah’s example and take our disappointments to the Lord in prayer.

Wonderful Things to Come

“But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.” (1 Corinthians 2:9)

This fantastic promise refers back to another great promise given by God to His people: “For since the beginning of the world men have not heard, nor perceived by the ear, neither hath the eye seen, O God, beside thee, what he hath prepared for him that waiteth for him” (Isaiah 64:4).

The Old Testament promise applied primarily to the nation of Israel, but its New Testament extension incorporates it in a global promise to all who love the Lord of glory, “crucified” by “the princes of this world” (1 Corinthians 2:8), the One who was also the Savior of the world.

Comparison of the two prophetic promises yields three vital truths. These things that God has prepared for His loved ones have been in view “since the beginning of the world,” and have been revealed in part by the prophets, who have been speaking also “since the world began” (Luke 1:70).

Secondly, those who “wait for him” in the Old Testament are synonymous with those who “love him” in the New. The apostle Paul joins both themes together when he says: “Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness . . . and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing” (2 Timothy 4:8).

Finally, we cannot even begin to comprehend the glorious things God has prepared for those who love Him and wait for Him. In some measure, the Spirit later revealed them in part through John’s eyes and ears when he saw “the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven” and heard “a great voice out of heaven saying . . . God himself shall be with them, and be their God” (Revelation 21:2-3). Then our eyes shall fully see, and our ears hear, and our hearts understand, the fullness of God’s love in Christ. HMM

Trust ye in the Lord forever: for in the Lord Jehovah is everlasting strength

Trust ye in the Lord forever: for in the Lord Jehovah is everlasting strength.—Isaiah 26:4.

COME, children, let us go!
Our Father is our guide,
And when the way grows steep and dark,
He journeys at our side.
Our spirits He would cheer,
The sunshine of His love
Revives and helps us as we rove,
Ah, blest our lot e’en here!
GERHARD TERSTEEGEN.

WE are living out these lives of ours too much apart from God. We toil on dismally, as if the making or the marring of our destinies rested wholly with ourselves. It is not so. We are not the lonely, orphaned creatures we let ourselves suppose ourselves to he. The earth, rolling on its way through space, Joes not go unattended. The Maker and Controller of it is with it, and around it, and upon it. He is with us here and now. He knows us infinitely more thoroughly than we know ourselves. He loves us better than we have ever dared to believe could be possible. WILLIAM R. HUNTINGTON.

Some of us believe that God is all mighty, and may do all; and that He is all wisdom, and can do all; but that He is all love, and will do all, there we fail. JULIANA.

Sanctification of the Spirit

Sanctification of the Spirit. 2 Thessalonians 2:13

Awake, O north wind; and come, thou south; blow upon my garden, that the spices thereof may flow out.

Behold this selfsame thing, that ye sorrowed after a godly sort, what carefulness it wrought in you, yea, what clearing of yourselves, yea, what indignation, yea, what fear, yea, what vehement desire, yea, what zeal, yea, what revenge! — Fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness and righteousness and truth: proving what is acceptable unto the Lord.

The Comforter is the Holy Ghost. — The love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.

The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace.

In a great trial of affliction the abundance of their joy and their deep poverty abounded unto the riches of their liberality.

All these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will.

Song of Songs 4:16. 2 Corinthians 7:11. Ephesians 5:9,10. John 14:16. Romans 5:5. Galatians 5:22. 2 Corinthians 8:2. 1 Corinthians 12:11.

Thou art a gracious God, and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repentest thee of the evil

Thou art a gracious God, and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repentest thee of the evil. Jonah 4:2

I beseech thee, let the power of my Lord be great, according as thou hast spoken, saying, The LORD is longsuffering, and of great mercy, forgiving iniquity and transgression, and by no means clearing the guilty; visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation.

O remember not against us former iniquities: let thy tender mercies speedily prevent us. Help us, O God of our salvaton, for the glory of thy name: and deliver us, and purge away our sins, for thy name’s sake. — LORD, though our iniquities testify against us, do thou it for thy name’s sake: for our backslidings are many; we have sinned against thee. — We acknowledge, O LORD, our wickedness, and the iniquity of our fathers: for we have sinned against thee.

If thou, LORD, shouldest mark iniquities, O LORD, who shall stand? But there is forgiveness with thee, that thou mayest be feared.

Numbers 14:7,18. Psalm 79:8,9. Jeremiah 14:7. Jeremiah 14:20. Psalm 130:3,4.