The key note of all our work for God should be FAITH. In all my life I have never seen men or women disappointed in receiving answers to their prayers, if those persons were full of faith, and had good grounds for their, faith. Of course we must have a warrant in Scripture for what we expect. I am sure we have a good warrant in coming together to pray for a blessing on our friends and on our neighbours.
Unbelief is as much an enemy to the Christian as it is to the unconverted. It will keep back the blessing now as much as it did in the days of Christ. We read that in one place Christ could not do many mighty works because of their unbelief. If Christ could not do this, how can we expect to accomplish anything if the people of God are unbelieving? I contend that Gods children are alone able to hinder Gods work. Infidels,, atheists, and sceptics cannot do it. Where there is union, strong faith, and expectation among Christians, a mighty work is always done.
In Hebrews we read that without faith it is impossible to please God. For he that cometh to God must believe that He is, and that He is a Rewarder of them that diligently seek Him. That is addressed to us who are Christians as much as to those who are seeking God for the first time. We are all of us seeking a blessing on our friends. We want God to revive us, and also that the outlying masses may be reached. We read in this passage that God blesses those who diligently seek Him. Let us diligently seek Him to-day; let us have great faith; and let our expectation be from God.
I remember when I was a boy, in the spring of the year, when
the snow had melted away on the
In the eleventh chapter of the Epistle to the Hebrews the writer brings up one worthy after another, and each of them was a man or a woman of faith; they made the world better by living in it. Listen to this description of what was accomplished, by these men and women of faith: Who through faith subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, waxed valiant in fight, turned to flight the armies of the aliens. Women received their dead raised to life again; and others were tortured, not accepting deliverance; that they might obtain a better resurrection: and others had trial of cruel mockings and scourgings yea, moreover, of bonds and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain with the sword: they wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, tormented (of whom the world was not worthy): they wandered in deserts, and in mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth. And these all, having obtained a good report through faith, received not the promise: God having provided some better thing for us, that they without us should not be made perfect.
Surely no child of God can read these words without being stirred. It is said that women received their dead. raised to life again. Many of you have children who have gone far astray, and have been taken captive by strong drink, or led away by their lusts and passions; and you have become greatly discouraged about them. But if you have faith in God they may be raised up as from the, dead, and brought back again. The wanderers may be reclaimed; the drunkards and the harlots may be reached and saved. There is no man or woman, however low he or she may have sunk, but can be reached.
We ought in these days to have far more faith than Abel, or Enoch, or Abraham had. They lived away on the other side of the Cross. We talk about the faith of Elijah, and the Patriarchs and Prophets; but they lived in the dim light of the past, while we are in the full blaze of Calvary, and the Resurrection [of Messiah]. When we look back and think of what Christ did, how He poured out His blood that men might be saved, we ought, to go forth in His strength and conquer the world. Our God is able to do great and mighty things.
You remember that the Roman Centurion sent for Christ to heal his servant; when the Saviour drew near, the Centurion sent to Him to say that He need not take the trouble to come into his house; all, that was needed was that He should speak the word and his servant would live. Probably he thought if Christ had the power to create worlds, to say Let there be light, and there was light, to make the sea and the earth bring forth abundantly, He could easily say the word and raise up his sick servant. We are told that when Christ received the Roman soldiers message He marvelled at his faith. Dear friends, let us have faith at this moment that God will do great things in our midst.
Caleb and Joshua were men of faith. They were worth more to
After they had been gone some thirty days they came back with what we might call a minority and a majority report. All the twelve admitted that the land was a good land, but the ten said, We are not able to take it. We saw giants there - the sons of Anak. You can see these ten spies in camp the night they tuned; great crowds are gathered around them listening to their reports. Probably there were gathered to hear Caleb and Joshua. It really seems sometimes that people are much more ready to believe a lie than to believe the truth. So these unbelieving men gathered around the ten spies. One of them is describing the giants in the land, and he says: Why, I had to look right up in order to see their faces; they made the earth tremble at their tread. The mountains and valleys are full of them. Then we saw great walled cities. We are not able to take the land.
But Caleb and Joshua had quite a different story tell. Those mighty giants seemed to be as hoppers in
their sight. These men of faith
remembered how God had delivered them out of the hand of Pharaoh and brought
them through the
What do we see in the
It way be some sainted weak woman, some bed-ridden one who is not able to attend the meetings, who will bring down the blessing. In the day when every mans work is tested, it may be, seen that some hidden one who honoured God by a simple faith was the one who caused such a blessing to descend upon our cities as shall shake the land from end to end.
Again, in these Bible histories we find that faith is always
followed by COURAGE. Caleb and Joshua were full of courage, because
they were men of faith. Those who have
been greatly used of God in all ages have been men of courage. If we are full of faith we shall not be full
of fear, distrusting God all the while. That
is the trouble with the
In the second book of Chronicles we read that King Asa had to go right against his father and mother; it took a good deal of courage to do that. He removed his mother from being queen, and cut down the idols and burnt them. There are times when we have to go against those who ought to be our best friends. Is it not time for us to launch out into the deep? I have never seen people go out into the lanes and alleys the hedges and highways, and try to bring the people in, but the Lord gave His blessing. If a man has the courage to go right to his neighbour and speak to him about his soul, God is sure to smile upon the effort. The person who is spoken to may wake up cross, but that is not always a bad sign. He may write o letter next day and apologize. At any rate it is better to wake him up in this way than that he should continue to slumber on to death and ruin.
You notice when God was about to deliver
The Lord said: Gideon, you have too many men yet. Take your men down to the brook and try them once more. All those who take the water up in their hands and drink as they pass by can stay; those who stoop down to drink can go back. Again he gave the word, and nine thousand seven hundred wheeled out of line and went to the rear, so that Gideon was left with three hundred, men. But this handful of men whose hearts beat true to the God of heaven, and who were ready to go forward in His name, were worth more than all the others who were all the time sowing seeds of discontent and predicting defeat. Nothing will discourage an army like that. Nothing is more discouraging in a Church than to have a number of the people all the time expecting disaster and saying: We do not think this effort will amount to anything; it is according to our ideas.
It would be a good thing for the
Before Moses went up the mountain he did all he could to encourage,
Joshua, to strengthen and cheer him.
There was no sign of jealousy in the heart of Moses, although he was not
permitted to go into the land. He went
up to the top of Pisgah and saw that it was a good land; and he tried to encourage Joshua to go forward and take possession of
it. After Moses had gone, we read that three times
in one chapter God said to Joshua: Be of good courage. God cheered his servant; There shall
not any man be able to stand before thee all the days of thy life. Soon after that he took a walk around the
So you will find all through the Scriptures that God uses those who have courage, and not those who are looking for defeat.
Another thought: I never knew a case where God used a discouraged man or woman to accomplish any great thing for Him. Let a minister go into the pulpit in a discouraged frame of mind and it becomes contagious. It will soon reach the pews, and the whole church will become discouraged. So with a Sunday school teacher; I never knew a worker of any kind who was full of discouragement and who met with success the Lords work. It seems as if God cannot make use of such a man.
I remember a man telling me he preached for a number of years without any result. He used to say to his wife as they went to church that he knew the people would not believe anything he said; and there was no blessing. At last, he saw his error; he asked God to help him, and took courage, and then the blessing came. According to your faith it shall be unto you. This man had expected nothing and he got just what he expected. Dear friends, let us expect that God is going to use us. Let us have courage and go forward, looking to God to do great things.
When Peter denied his Master he was a very different man from what he was on the day of Pentecost. He got out of communion with his Lord, and the word of a servant nearly frightened him out of his life. He denied his Master with oaths and cursing. How terribly a man falls when he loses faith and courage.
But he was restored; look at him on the day of Pentecost. If that maid whose question made him tremble had been present, and heard him preach the marvellous sermon recorded in the Acts. I can imagine she would be the most amazed person in all Jerusalem, Why, she says, I saw him a few days ago, and he was terribly alarmed at being culled a disciple of Christ; now he stands up boldly for this same Christ; he has no shame now. God used him mightily on the day of Pentecost, as he preached to that Congregation, some of whom were the very murderers of his Lord and Master. But he could not use Peter till he had repented of his cowardice and had been restored to faith and courage. So when any man whois working for Christ loses heart and gets discouraged, Lord has to lay him aside.
I remember a number of years ago I got cast down for a good many weeks. One Sunday in particular I had preached and there did not seem to be any result. On the Monday I was very much cast down. I was sitting in my study and was looking at myself, brooding over my want of success. A young man called upon me, who had a Bible class of 100 adults in the Sunday-school which I conducted. As he came in I could see he was away upon the mountain top, while I was down in the valley. Said he to me, What kind of a day did you have yesterday? Very poor; I had no success, and I feel quite cast down. How did you get on? Oh, grandly; I never had a better day. What was your subject? I had the life and character of Noah. Did you ever preach on Noah? Did you ever study up his life? Well, no; I do not know as ever I made it a special study. I thought I know pretty well all there was about him in the Bible; you know all that is told us about him is contained in a few verses. If you never studied it before, you had better do it now. It will do you good. Noah was a wonderful character.
When the young man went out I got my
Bible and some other books, and read all I could find about Noah. I had not been reading long before the
thought came stealing over me: Here was a man who toiled on for a hundred and twenty years and never had a single convert
outside of his own family. Yet he
did not get discouraged. I closed up my
Bible; the cloud, had gone; I started out and went to the noon prayer-meeting. I had not been there long when a man got up
and said he had come from a little town in
Then in a little while a man who sat right behind me stood up. His hand was on the seat, and I felt it shake; I could realise that the man was trembling. He said: I wish you would pray for me; I would like to become a Christian. Thought I to myself: I wonder what Noah would have given if he had heard that. He never heard a single soul asking God for mercy, yet he did not get discouraged. I have never hung my harp on the willows since that day. Let us ask God to take away the clouds of fear and unbelief; let us get out of Doubting Castle; let us move forward courageously in the name of our God and expect to see results.
If you cannot engage in any active
work yourselves you can do a good deal by cheering on others. Some people not only do nothing, but they are
all the time throwing discouragement on others, in every forward step they
take. If you meet with them they seem to
chill you through, and through. I think
I would as soon face the east wind in
Let us not give heed to these gloomy and discouraging remarks. In the name of our great Commander let us march on to battle and to victory. There are generals whose name alone is worth more than a whole army of ten thousand men. In our army in the Civil War there were some whose presence sent a cheer all along the line. As they passed on cheer upon cheer went up. The men knew who was going to lead them, and they were sure of having success. The boys liked to fight under such generals as that. Let us encourage ourselves in the Lord, and encourage each other; then we shall have good success.
We read in the book of First Chronicles that Joab cheered on those who were helping him in warfare. Be of good courage, and let us behave
ourselves valiantly for our people and for the cities of our God; and let the
Lord do that which is good in His sight. Let us go forward
in this spirit, and the Lord will make us to triumph over our foes. If we cannot be in the battle ourselves let us not seek to discourage others. A
A friend of mine was telling me that a worker came to him very much cast down. Everything was going wrong, and he was greatly depressed. My friend turned upon him and said: Do you have any doubt about the final result of things? Is Jesus Christ going, to set up His Kingdom, and reign from the rivers to the ends of the earth? Is He going to succeed or not? The man said that of course Christ was going to triumph; he had never thought of it in that light, if people would sometimes take a look into the future and remember the promises, they would not be cast down. Dear friends, Christ is going to reign. Let us go out and do the work He has given us to do. If it happens to be dark round about us, let us remember it is light somewhere else. If we are not succeeding just as we would like, others, it may be, are succeeding better.
Think of the opportunities we have, compared with the early Christians. Look at the mighty obstacles they had to encounter - how they had often to seal their testimony with their blood. See what Peter had to fight against on the day of Pentecost, when the people looked on him with scorn. The disciples in those days had no committee to put up large buildings for their use, in which they could preach. They had no band of ministers sitting near by, to pray for them, and help them and cheer them on. Yet look at the wonderful results of Peters preaching on the day of Pentecost.
Lock at the dense darkness that surrounded Martin Luther in
I believe if our forefathers who lived in the last century
could come back to this world in the flesh, they would be amazed to see the
wonderful opportunities that we have. We
have a great many advantages they did not possess, and probably did not dream
of. We live in a grand and glorious day.
It took John Wesley months to cross the
It may be that some are old and feeble, and are saying to themselves: I wish I were young again; I would like to go out into the thick of the battle. But any one, young or old, can go into the homes of the people and invite them to come out to the meetings. There are large halls everywhere with plenty of room; there are many who will help sing the Gospel. The Gospel will also be preached, and there are many people who might be induced to come, who will not go out to the regular places of worship.
If you are not able to go and invite the people, as I have said, you can give a word of cheer to others, and wish them Godspeed. Many a time when I have come down from the pulpit, some old man, trembling on the very verge of another world, living perhaps on borrowed time, has caught hold of my hand, and in a quavering voice said, God bless you! How the words have cheered and helped me. Many of you can speak, a word of encouragement to the younger friends, if you are too feeble to work yourselves.
Then again, you can pray that God will bless the words that are spoken and the efforts that are made, It is very easy to preach when others are all the time praying for you and sympathizing with you, instead, of criticising and finding fault.
You have heard the story, I suppose, of the child who was rescued from the fire that was raging in a house away up in the fourth story. The child came to the window, and as the flames were shooting up higher and higher it cried out for help. A fireman started up the ladder of the fire-escape to rescue the child from its dangerous position. The wind swept the flames near him and it was getting so hot that he wavered, and it looked as if he would have to return without the child. Thousands looked on, and their hearts quaked at the thought of the child having to perish in the fire, as it must do if the fireman did not reach it. Some one in the crowd cried, Give him a cheer! Cheer after cheer went up, and as the man heard them he gathered fresh courage. Up he went into the midst of the smoke and the fire and brought down the child in safety. If you cannot go and rescue the perishing yourselves, you can, at least pray for those who do, and cheer them on. If you do, the Lord will bless the effort.
They helped every one his neighbour; and everyone said to his brother, Be of good courage.
We are living, we are dwelling
In a grand and awful time,
In an age on ages telling-
To be living is sublime.
Oh, let all the soul within you
For the truths sake go abroad!
Strike! let every nerve and sinew
Tell on ages - tell for God!