October 9, 2021-Sermon of the Day
In the multitude of my thoughts within me Thy comforts delight my soul. Psalm 94:19 KJV
Growing in Grace through Living by Faith
Behold the proud , his soul is not upright in him; But the just shall live by his faith … For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ , for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes , for the Jew first and also for the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith ; as it is written, "The just shall live by faith ." (Habakkuk 2:4 and Romans 1:16-17)
In our previous devotions about Jesus as our ultimate example, we concluded our series on " humility and grace" and began to consider " faith and grace." If we want to grow in the grace of God , we must live by faith , since faith accesses grace . "We have access by faith into this grace in which we stand" (Romans 5:2).
Our present, initial verse also builds upon our earlier studies about humility , which was repeatedly contrasted with pride. "God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble " (James 4:6). Habakkuk was inspired of the Spirit to state the same truth in this form. "Behold the proud , his soul is not upright in him." James contrasted pride with humility . Here, the prophet concluded his statement by contrasting pride with faith . The proud person is depending upon himself . The humble person is willing to depend upon the Lord . The humble person is the one who will be growing in the grace of God .
This simple proclamation of living by faith is so profound that it is repeated in three strategic epistles in the New Testament. The first mention is in Romans in connection with the gospel of grace. "For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ , for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes , for the Jew first and also for the Greek." Paul was not embarrassed by the good news of the grace of God that was available in Jesus Christ. He knew that it was God’s powerful truth that would save the soul of anyone (Jew or Gentile) who would believe in Christ. That message of grace offered God’s righteousness to all who would believe. "For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith ." The same righteousness that the law demanded; the gospel of grace provided. "But now the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed , being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, even the righteousness of God which is through faith in Jesus Christ to all and on all who believe " (Romans 3:21-22). The righteousness that people need (both for a standing in heaven and for a walk on earth) comes by grace through faith . Yes, initially, and continually, "The just shall live by faith ."
O righteous Lord, I praise You for the gift of Your righteousness, by grace through faith. My heart rejoices that I have a righteous standing before You in heaven above. My heart humbly cries out in faith for a daily impartation of that same righteousness in and through my life for a godly walk on earth below, through the grace of Christ, Amen.
For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: [it is] the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. (Ephesians 2:8-9)
We are saved through the grace of God and only the grace of God. There is no other way for us to get to heaven. If we think the good, we do will earn us a hope in heaven, then we shall be deeply dismayed when Jesus says, “Depart from me, I never knew you.” Let us not take pride in ourselves in thinking that our works will get us into heaven. Let us praise the Lord for His marvelous grace!
In some sense the path to heaven is very safe, but in other respects there is no road so dangerous. It is beset with difficulties. One false step (and how easy it is to take that if grace be absent), and down we go. What a slippery path is that which some of us have to tread! How many times have us to exclaim with the Psalmist, "My feet were almost gone, my steps had well-nigh slipped.”? If we were strong, sure-footed mountaineers, this would not matter so much; but in ourselves, how weak we are ! In the best roads we soon falter, in the smoothest paths we quickly stumble. These feeble knees of ours can scarcely support our tottering weight. A straw may throw us, and a pebble can wound us; we are mere children tremblingly taking our first steps in the walk of faith, our heavenly Father holds us by the arms, or we should soon be down. Oh, if we are kept from falling, how must we bless the patient power which watches over us day by day! Think, how prone we are to sin, how apt to choose danger, how strong our tendency to cast ourselves down, and these reflections will make us sing more sweetly than we have ever done, “Glory be to Him, who is able to keep us from falling.” We have many foes who try to push us down. The road is rough, and we are weak, but in addition to this, enemies lurk in ambush, who rush out when we least expect them, and labor to trip us up, or hurl us down the nearest precipice. Only an Almighty arm can preserve us from these unseen foes, who are seeking to destroy us. Such an arm is engaged for our defense. He is faithful that hath promised, and He is able to keep us from falling, so that with a deep sense of our utter weakness, we may cherish a firm belief in our perfect safety, and say, with joyful confidence,
“Against me earth and hell combine,
But on my side is power divine;
Jesus is all, and He is mine!”
Genuine seekers who as yet have not obtained the blessing, may take comfort from the story before us. The Savior did not at once bestow the blessing, even though the woman had great faith in Him. He intended to give it, but He waited awhile. “He answered her not a word.” We are not her prayers good? Never better in the world. Was not her case needy? Sorrowfully needy. Did she not feel her need sufficiently? She felt it overwhelmingly. Was she not earnest enough? She was intensely so. Had she no faith? She had such a high degree of it that even Jesus wondered, and said, “O woman, great is thy faith.” See then, although it is true that faith brings peace, yet it does not always bring it instantaneously. There may be certain reasons calling for the trial of faith, rather than the reward of faith. Genuine faith may be in the soul like a hidden seed, but as yet it may not have budded and blossomed into joy and peace. A painful silence from the Savior is the grievous trial of many a seeking soul, but heavier still is the affliction of a harsh cutting reply such as this, “It is not meet to take the children’s bread, and to cast it to dogs.” Many in waiting upon the Lord find immediate delight, but this is not the case with all. Some, like the jailer, are in a moment turned from darkness to light, but others are plants of slower growth. A deeper sense of sin may be given to you instead of a sense of pardon, and in such a case you will have need of patience to bear the heavy blow. Ah! poor heart, though Christ beat and bruise thee, or even slay thee, trust Him; though He should give thee an angry word, believe in the love of His heart. Do not, I beseech thee, give up seeking or trusting my Master, because thou hast not yet obtained the conscious joy for which thou longest. Cast thyself on Him, and perseveringly depend even where thou canst not rejoicingly hope.
“Therefore will the Lord wait, that he may be gracious unto you” ( Isa_30:18 ).
Where showers fall most, there the grass is greenest. I suppose the fogs and mists of Ireland make it “the Emerald Isle”; and whenever you find great fogs of trouble, and mists of sorrow, you always find emerald green hearts; full of the beautiful verdure of the comfort and love of God. O Christian, do not thou be saying, “Where are the swallows gone? They are gone; they are dead.” They are not dead; they have skimmed the purple sea, and gone to a far-off land; but they will be back again by and by. Child of God, say not the flowers are dead; say not the winter has killed them, and they are gone. Ah, no! though winter hath coated them with the ermine of its snow; they will put up their heads again, and will be alive very soon. Say not, child of God, that the sun is quenched, because the cloud hath hidden it. Ah, no; he is behind there, brewing summer for thee; for when he cometh out again, he will have made the clouds fit to drop in April showers, all of them mothers of the sweet May flowers. And oh! above all, when thy God hides His face, say not that He hath forgotten thee. He is but tarrying a little while to make thee love Him better; and when He cometh, thou shalt have joy in the Lord, and shalt rejoice with joy unspeakable. Waiting exercises our grace; waiting tries our faith; therefore, wait on in hope; for though the promise tarry, it can never come too late. – C. H. Spurgeon
"Oh, every year hath its winter,
And every year hath its rain–
But a day is always coming
When the birds go north again.
"When new leaves swell in the forest,
And grass springs green on the plain,
And alders ’’ veins turn crimson–
And the birds go north again.
"Oh, every heart hath its sorrow,
And every heart hath its pain–
But a day is always coming
When the birds go north again.
"’tis the sweetest thing to remember,
If courage be on the wane,
When the cold, dark days are over–
Why, the birds go north again."
THE HURTING POINT Gen_13:5-11; Gen_14:14-16
The heart that responds to God always responds to another’s need to the hurting point , if need be. There’s a helping others that has little, if any, of the God-spirit in it. It’s the thing to do; others do it; it’s popular. The touchstone of the real thing is the willingness to do when it costs or hurts. It cost Abraham to help Lot. It cost Jesus to be our Saviour. It will cost to be a real Jesus-helper to others.
“The Lord said unto Cain, Where is Abel thy brother? And he said: I know not: Am I my brother’s keeper?” — Gen_4:9.
“He that hateth his brother is in darkness, and walketh in darkness.” — 1Jn_2:11.
MAN’S FALL, whatever else it may have been, resulted in a complete change of the centre of his being. He was made in the likeness of God, and God’s nature is absolutely selfless. God’s will and purpose was the one rule of man’s existence until the moment came when our first parents substituted the gratification of self for the will and law of God. From that hour the self-life became the dominant principle of mankind, and the world is what it is because the essence of life is the service of self.
We do not know what really caused the difference in the disposition of Cain and Abel. There are hints and suggestions, but the fundamental reason why these two brothers differed so is veiled in mystery, though the like of it still shows itself in our homes. St. John gives us the clue in his first Epistle, where he says that Cain slew his brother, because his own works were evil, and his brother’s righteous.
God remonstrated with Cain and warned him that sin was lying at the door of his heart, waiting to enter. He exhorted him to watch and not allow it to intrude. When the dreadful deed was done, Cain found that all nature was in arms against him, and he became an outcast. The blood of Abel cried against Cain, for all sin cries to God, and He is the Avenger and Vindicator of wronged ones who in simplicity and faith have cast themselves upon Him. Thank God, also, there is a cry louder than that of Abel’s, which pleads not for judgment but for mercy (Heb_12:24).
This world is full of envy, jealousy, strife, and murder, because men keep themselves instead of keeping their brothers; because our own instead of another’s welfare revolves round the pivot of “I”. The first Epistle of St. John is the antipode of this story in Genesis, and contains its corrective, for it is when we love God first and best that we love our brother, and as we open our whole soul to the tidal wave of God’s love, we are lifted above the jagged rocks of the self-life into the broad full ocean of life which is life indeed (1Jn_3:14-17).
Our Father! Help us to consider the interests of others, and to act generously towards them, because we are Thy children, and Thy infinite resources are at our commands. AMEN.
Social Consequences of Individual Faith
Wherefore, sirs, be of good cheer, for I believe God — Act_27:25
What You Believe Affects the Lives of Others
It might seem as if what a man believed were no concern to anybody else. That is his own affair and his alone. Let a man be honest, industrious, and straight, and it does not socially matter what his creed is. Others are not the better for his faith nor the worse for his want of it. One hears frequent expression of that view, and sometimes it is buttressed by the text, “Hast thou faith? Have it for thyself.” As a matter of fact, what a man believes has profound and pervasive social consequence. It affects the lives of all he comes in contact with. It inspires or depresses them. And all this is more beautifully illustrated in the story of the shipwreck of St. Paul than perhaps in any other piece of Scripture.
Doing and Being
We note, for instance, how the faith of Paul made him intensely and practically useful One is reminded of the exclamation “What practical fellows these great mystics are.” We could well imagine somebody dilating on the compelling preaching of St. Paul, but quite certain that in storm and shipwreck he would be altogether useless. And yet in such an hour, when things were darkest, Paul was the most useful man on board, and he was so because he believed God. The same thing is profoundly true of Jesus who lived in a perfect and unwavering faith. That did not make Him an ineffectual dreamer; it made Him intensely and socially useful. It filled the nets, and fed the hungry folk, and restored the withered arm to service, and brought joy and singing to the home at Bethany.
Paul’s Faith Brought Hope to All Aboard
We help people by what we do. Perhaps we help them more by what we are. We prove ourselves useful when we give our money. We are still more useful when we give ourselves. And no man has his whole self to give, in all the expansion of his possibilities, until he has aligned himself with God.
We note again how the faith of the apostle brought new hope to everyone on board. These despairing souls were saved by hope. One moment there was not a star in all their sky. They were drifting on to certain death. The best of them would be crying to their gods; the worst would fail to cursing and blaspheming. And then, like the first faint flushing of the dawn, hope came stealing into every heart because there was one on board who believed God. Things were just as dark as they had been before. There was no cessation of the raging storm. They were still drifting on to an iron shore, their ship the sport and plaything of the elements. But one man believed God and because of that was radiant and serene, and it brought hope into the heart of everybody. What does it not matter what you believe? Is faith entirely devoid of social consequence? It mattered supremely for these despairing sailors. It matters every time. Have faith in God— have it for yourself— be strong and quiet and confident because of it, and everybody on shipboard is affected.
Faith Radiates the Atmosphere of Hope
For that is always one of the fruits of faith. Faith radiates the atmosphere of hope. The presence of a strong and living faith calls out the music of a thousand hearts. A son may be a prodigal, and everybody may think him past redemption. But his mother never thinks him past redemption because of the faith in her big mother-heart. And because of the faith in the heart of the Lord Jesus, hope has dawned on twice ten thousand people who, like these shipwrecked sailors, were despairing It is a great thing to give weary people hope. It is like sowing grass on a parched and arid land. And in all our weakness, one sure way to do it is the old sweet way of Jesus and of Paul. Have faith in God. Live it out in storms. Be strong and quiet when others cry in terror. And in mysterious ways we cannot trace hope will dawn upon the hearts of men.
Paul’s Faith Brought Good Cheer to Others
Not only did the faith of Paul give hope; it also gave the blessing of good cheer. It brought the comfort of a happy confidence to every desponding heart on board. I have read somewhere of an ocean liner caught in the fury of a terrific storm. Men were panic-stricken— women screamed— and then the captain smiled. And the faith that lay behind that smile, that the ship he knew so well would weather through, brought good cheer to every soul on board. So was it with St. Paul. He believed God and he could smile. When others were terror-stricken and beside themselves, he could give thanks and quietly take his breakfast. And men, seeing it, forgot their fears and plucked up heart again and became cheerful— and all because one person believed God. It is a fine thing to do kindly, helpful deeds. It is one of the very finest in the world. But there is something finer than the helpful hand; it is the helpful heart. To be brave and radiant when things are darkest has an impact upon everybody, and for that one must believe God. My dear reader, longing to cheer others, begin by having faith in God. Fix the one point of your compass there, and let the other sweep as widely as you will. A strong faith is the secret of all helpfulness. Nothing can ever take the place of that. This is the victory that overcomes the world— even your faith.
The Unflappable Champion
“He gathered up His courage and steeled Himself for the journey … ” (Luk_9:51)
There are some things that require little effort, and yield small results. Many people content themselves to spend their days in just such trivial pursuit. Will you settle for being one of them?
F. W. Boreham wrote, “There is no intellectual stimulant so intoxicating as the formation of a noble purpose, the conception of a sudden resolve, the making of a great decision.”
Friends, we are partakers of an upward call, and so we strain constantly against the downward pull of lesser things. “I am doing a great work,” Nehemiah said, “why should the work stop while I come down to you?” (Neh_6:3). Thus did he silence those who tempted him to ease off from his quest.
The truly heroic moments in life demand something far more than a casual commitment. Christ Himself set his face to Jerusalem, and resolved to go the full length of God’s will. He gathered up His courage and steeled Himself for the journey. He was, and forever will be the Unflappable Champion. And we have been called to follow in His steps.
There is talk these days of vision. But vision is much more than a good idea that stirs the soul to temporary endeavors. Vision is the ability to see it, the faith to believe it, the courage to do it, and the hope to endure until it happens. Take any of these components away and vision fails. Each is vital, and indispensable.
has a way of summoning our hearts to rise to the calling God has placed on our lives. It also supplies us with the grace to pace ourselves to go the full distance, regardless of the difficulties that await us. Courage is the mental and moral strength to venture, persevere, and withstand danger, fear or difficulty.
The journey we have undertaken as followers of Christ demands all the courage we possess. It requires of us a steely, unwavering resolve to meet whatever seeks to delay us, defeat us, detour us, or deny us – to meet such things with a faith that says, “Nevertheless!” Courage is one of the distinguishing marks of true faith.
God’s Spirit has given us an ingrained capacity to face the strain and stress of faithfulness with fortitude, patience, and joy. Thus did Jesus walk up Calvary’s mountain one dreadful morn, and there face unflinching the dark trinity of Satan, Sin, and Death. And there, on a hill far away, our Lord did win a resounding victory. And, be sure of this one fact – He did it for you!
That victory is now yours. Lay claim to it by faith, and you, like Jesus, can gather up your courage and steel yourself for the journey of a lifetime.