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nChrist
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« on: October 04, 2009, 04:37:43 PM »

The Saving Power of Hope
by George H. Morrison - 1866-1928

We are saved by hope -- Romans 8:24

It is not difficult as one looks out on life to recognize the saving power of hope. One thinks, for instance, to what a large extent it is hope which saves humanity from idleness. When a student faces an examination, it is his uncertainty that makes him toil. Were he perfectly sure that he would fail or pass, that would take all the zest out of his studies. Hope is the kindly instrument of God for rescuing mankind from inactivity, and inactivity is sister to stagnation. It is in hope that the writer wields his pen; it is in hope that the sower casts his seed. Search deep enough into the springs of action -- you always catch the whispering of hope. In a large sense, we are saved by hope from the tragedy of doing nothing in a world where there is everything to do.

Hope Rescues Us from Giving In

Akin to that is the great fact of life that we are saved by hope from giving in. For the great multitude of men hope lies at the back of perseverance. That may not be true of elect natures. It was not true of Marcus Aurelius, for instance. Never was there a more hopeless man than he, yet how magnificently he persevered. But for the rank and file of ordinary mortals on whom the Gospel always keeps its eye, hope is essential to holding on. One thinks of the story of the little lame boy who was "hoping to have wings some day." He could not race nor leap like other boys, but he was hoping to have wings some day. It was that hope which helped him to endure and taught him to bear the burden of his lameness, and so it is largely in this life of ours. From giving in when things are very difficult, from breaking down just at breaking point, from losing heart when all the lights are dim and the clouds return after the rain, in deep senses we are saved by hope.

Hope Saves Us from Losing Faith

Equally true is it of life, that we are often saved by hope from losing faith. Think, for instance, how often that is true of our Christian hope of personal survival. When his friend Arthur Hallam died, Tennyson was plunged into the depths. It seemed as if the foundations were destroyed and the moral universe had fallen in ruins. And then, as one may read  In Memoriam, morning broke with the singing of the birds through the shining Christian hope of immortality. Nothing could be more dreary than the inscriptions on old pagan tombs, but pass to the catacombs and everything is different: they are radiant with trust in God. What millions have been saved from loss of faith in the hour when the heart was desolate and empty by the burning hope of a blessed immortality. "My soul, hope thou in God." His name is love, and love demands forever. "Forever" is engraven on the heart of love as Calais was engraven on the heart of Mary. When life is desolated by the hand of death so that faith in Fatherhood is very difficult, multitudes have been upheld and comforted by the saving power of hope.

Christ Inspired Hope

Now, it is very beautiful to notice how our Savior utilized that saving energy. Think how often He began His treatment by kindling the flame of hope within the breast. One might take the instance of Zacchaeus, that outcast from the commonwealth of Israel. He had been taught there was no hope for him, and he believed it till the Lord came by. And then, like the dawn, there came the quivering hope that his tomorrow might differ from his yesterday, and in that new hope the saving work began. Often hope is subsequent to faith. The Scripture order is "faith, hope, charity." But it is equally true, in the movements of the soul, that hope may be the forerunner of faith. And our Lord, bent on evoking faith, that personal trust in Him which alone saves, began by kindling hope within the breast. That is how He often begins still. He does not begin by saying, "Trust in Me." He begins by kindling these hopes of better things that are lying crushed in every human heart. Despair is deadly. It is blind. It cannot see the arm outstretched to help. Our Lord begins with the quickening of hope.

Christ Kept Hope Alive

One reads, too, in the Gospel story, of the pains He took just to keep hope alive. That, I think, is most exquisitely evident in His handling of Simon Peter. One would gather that Peter had a nature very prone to access of despair. He was the kind of man to climb the mountaintop and then swiftly to drop into the valley; and the pains, the endless pains that Jesus took to keep hope alive in Peter's breast, is one of the most beautiful things in history. One day he had to call him Satan. What darkness and anguish that must have brought to Peter! He would move through the crowding duties of the day saying despairingly, "The Master called me Satan." And then, within a week, when our Lord went up the Mount of Transfiguration, He said, "Peter, I want you to go with Me." It was not Peter's faith that needed strengthening. Peter trusted the Lord with all his heart. It was Peter's hope that needed to be strengthened, crushed by that terrific name of Satan. And then one remembers how on resurrection morning after the black hour of the denial, the angel (commissioned by the Lord) commanded, "Go, tell the disciples and Peter." The Lord had to wrestle with the despair of Peter. He had a mighty work to keep his hope alive. He had that same work with Luther and with Bunyan and perhaps with many a one who reads these lines. All of whom, rescued from despair by the divine hopefulness of Christ, understand what the apostle meant when he wrote that we are saved by hope.
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« Reply #1 on: October 04, 2009, 04:39:13 PM »

The Separating Power Of Things Present
by George H. Morrison - 1866-1928

Things present -- Romans 8:38

It is notable that in his enumeration of things which might dim the love of God to us, the apostle should make mention of things present, and by things present I take it that he means the events and trials of the present day. Many of us know how things to come may tempt us to doubt the love of God. The anxieties and forebodings of tomorrow often cloud the sunshine of today. But Paul, who knew all that as well as we do, for his apostleship gave no exemptions, knew also the separating power of things present. The task in which we are presently engaged, the thronging duties of the common day, the multitude of things we must get through before we go to bed at night, these, unless we continually watch, are apt to blind us to the great realities and to separate us from the love of God in Christ.

Things Present May Blind Us to the Brilliance of Things Distant

In part that separating power arises from the exceeding nearness of things present. Things which are very near command our vision and often lead to erroneous perspective. When I light the lamp in my quiet study, the moon may be riding through the sky, the stars may be glittering in heavenly brilliance, proclaiming that the hand which made them is divine. But the lamp is near me, at my side, and I read by it and write my letters by it, and most often the stars are quite forgotten. Things present are things near, and near things have a certain blinding power. You can blot the sun out with a penny if you only hold it near enough to the eye. And yet the sun is a majestic creation, beautifier and conserver of the world, and the penny is but a worn and trifling coin. For most of us each day that dawns brings its round of present duties. They absorb us, commanding every energy, and so doing may occasionally blind us. And that is why, in busy crowded lives where near things are so swift to tyrannize, we all require moments of withdrawal. To halt a moment and just to say "God loves me"; to halt a moment and say "God is here"; to take the penny from the eye an instant that we may see the wonder of the sun, that, as the apostle knew so well, is one of the secrets of the saints, to master the separating power of things present.

Things Present Are Difficult to Understand

Another element in that separating power is the difficulty of understanding present things. It is always easier to understand our yesterdays than to grasp the meaning of today. Often in the Highlands it is difficult to see the path just at one's feet. Any bunch of cowberries may hide it or any bush of overarching heather. But when one halts a moment and looks back, generally it is comparatively easy to trace the path as it winds across the moor. So we begin to understand our past, its trials, its disappointments, and its illnesses; but such things are very hard to understand in their actual moment of occurrence, and it is that, the difficulty of reading love in the dark characters of present things, which constitutes their separating power. Many a grown man thanks God for the discipline of early childhood. But as a child it was often quite unfathomable, and he doubted if his mother loved him. And we are all God's children, never in love with the discipline of love, and in that lies the separating power of things present.

Things Present Distract Us

Another element of that separating power is found in the distraction of things present. "Life isn't a little bundle of big things: it's a big bundle of little things. "I read somewhere of a ship's captain who reported that a lighthouse was not shining. Inquiries were made, and it was found that the light was burning brightly all the night. What dimmed the light and made it as though it were not to the straining eyes of the captain on the bridge was a cloud of myriads of little flies. "While thy servant was busy here and there, the man was gone." What things escape us in our unending busyness! Peace and joy, and the power of self-control, and the serenity that ought to mark the Christian. And sometimes that is lost, which to lose is the tragedy of tragedies -- the sense and certainty of love divine. Preoccupied, it fades out of our heaven. The comfort and the calm of it are gone. The light is there "forever, ever shining," but the cloud of flies has blotted out the light. Nobody knew better than the apostle did, in the cares that came upon him dally, the separating power of things present.

Through Christ We Overcome the Separating Power of Things Present

Of spiritual victory over present things, the one perfect example is our Lord. It is He who affords to us a perfect picture of untiring labor and unruffled calm. He gained the conquest over things to come. When Calvary was coming, He was joyous. He set His face steadily towards Jerusalem where the bitter cross was waiting Him. But, wonderful though that victory was over everything the future had in store, there was another that was not less wonderful. Never doubting the love of God to Him, certain of it in His darkest hour, through broken days, through never-ending calls when there was not leisure so much as to eat, not only did He master things to come, but He did what is often far more difficult --He mastered the separating power of things present. Do not forget He did all that for us. His victories were all achieved for us. In a deep sense we do not win our victories: we appropriate the victories of Christ. That is why the apostle in another place says, "All things are yours --things present, or things to come -- and ye are Christ's, and Christ is God's."
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« Reply #2 on: October 04, 2009, 04:40:41 PM »

Maintaining the Glow
by George H. Morrison - 1866-1928

Maintaining the spiritual glow -- Romans 12:11 (Moffatt)

All of us have hours in the interior life when we are conscious of the glowing spirit. Our hearts burn within us as we journey. Sometimes these hours reach us unexpectedly; sometimes after periods of prayer. The wind bloweth where it listeth, and so is every one born of the Spirit. But when such hours come, the inward life grows radiant, and in the light of heaven we see light. In such hours we learn a great deal more than we ever gained from unillumined study. In such hours heaven is very near. In such hours, as by unseen fingers, the veil is taken from the face of Scripture, and the Word, that was marred more than any man, now shines on us as altogether lovely. We have caught the spiritual glow. We are in heavenly places with Christ Jesus. There steals on our ear the distant triumph song. We behold Satan as lightning fall from heaven. Such glowing hours of spiritual warmth and radiance come with greater or with lesser frequency to everybody who is stepping heavenward.

Maintaining the Spiritual Glow

But the great difficulty in the interior life is to maintain that spiritual glow. The problem is not to catch it, but to keep it. Seasons come when we are overwrought and when the keepers of the house do tremble. We may have over-driven "our brother the ass," as St. Francis used to call his body. Or it may be, in the providence of God, that for long days we have to take our journey through a dry land where no water is. It is easy to lose the glow in such experiences. It fades into the light of common day. The Bible loses its fragrance and dew. Heaven recedes; we miss the golden ladder. And yet the divine command is laid on us, poor unstable mortals though we be, that our duty is to maintain the spiritual glow. It can be ours in spite of feeble health. It can be ours whatever be our temperament. It is not given for rare or precious moments. It is meant for every mile of the long journey. And just there the difficulty lies, of maintaining, through dark and dreary days, the radiance and the warmth of hours of insight. He who does that is victor. Having done all, he stands. He "makes a sunshine in a shady place." In weakness he is strong. And we may be certain that when God commands a thing, He never mocks us with impossibilities. When He commands, He gives the power to do.

The Spiritual Glow Is Not a Luxury but a Necessity

For what we must always bear in mind is this, that the spiritual glow is not a luxury. If it were that and nothing else than that, it would never reach us as a divine command. There are tasks that no man will accomplish unless he be gifted with a glowing spirit. There are victories that call for radiance. They never can be accomplished in cold blood. To come victorious out of this present life, unembittered by its tears and tragedies, is beyond the compass of the stoic heart. "No virtue is pure that is not passionate." The song of the Lord must sound above the sacrifice. For the campaign of life we need the song just as surely as we need the sword. Those who have conquered and  are robed in white do not flash the glittering sword in heaven. They sing the song of Moses and the Lamb. That is why the inspired volume bids us to maintain the spiritual glow. It is not that we may be happy all the time. It is that we may be triumphant all the time. There are valleys we shall never cross unscathed, and there are temptations we shall never master without a certain glow within the soul.

To Love the Lord Gives the Glow

Now it is just there that we thank God afresh for the unspeakable gift of the Lord Jesus. To love Him gives the glow. Nobody ever has a glowing heart because he is ordered to do certain things. Paul never found that his big heart was glowing when he struggled to obey the ten commandments. But when the ten commandments are incarnate in a living Lord whom we can love, then obedience is set to music. Love is the fulfilling of the law. Love is law translated into melody. Love laughs at difficulties, just as it is said to laugh at locksmiths. And when, right at the center of our being, there is real love for Him who died for us, cold and heavy obedience is gone -- it is replaced by the spiritual glow. Thus to continue glowing is to continue in the love of Christ. It is to live in the experience of His great love for us and in continual response to that experience. The one way to maintain the spiritual glow is to maintain fellowship with Christ, and that is possible for everybody. Every day we may open our hearts anew to receive anew the Holy Spirit. We may begin each day, however dark and dreary, by saying, "Even so, come, Lord Jesus." So maintaining, through heavenly supply, our loving personal fellowship with Him, we maintain (and yet not we) the glowing heart.
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« Reply #3 on: October 04, 2009, 04:42:00 PM »

The Things That Make for Peace 1 of 2
by George H. Morrison - 1866-1928

Let us therefore follow after the things that make for peace -- Romans 14:19

Peace! There is a benediction in the word! It is one of the fairest words in human speech. All that is brightest and happiest in life is associated with peace. There is a substance known as ambergris which is found floating in the ocean. Absolutely odorless itself, its use is to enrich the scent of odors. And peace has a quality like ambergris; it heightens and enriches every blessing. What is a congregation without peace; what without peace a home? It may have money, art, refinement, luxury, but if peace is wanting everything is wanting. All that wealth can give is but a mockery, all that art can furnish but a show, without the beatitude of peace. It was of peace the angels sang when Christ was born in Bethlehem. It was a message of peace that was first breathed from the lips of the risen Savior. And the sum and substance of all Gospel blessings, wrought out for sinful man by the Redeemer, is the peace of God that passes understanding. No wonder then that our Lord pronounced His blessing on the peacemakers. No wonder that the Scripture urges us to seek peace and ensue it. No wonder that this great apostle, who had known the havoc of dissension, cannot close his letter without this: "Follow after the things that make for peace."

Social Peace Is a Goal To Be Striven For

You will notice in our text that social peace is pictured as a goal. It is a thing to be followed after. It is a thing to be lived for, to be striven for, to be followed through ill report and good report. It is the end, not the beginning, of endeavor. That is in keeping with the peculiar form which our Lord gave to His beatitude. He did not say, "Blessed are the peaceable" -- He said, "Blessed are the peacemakers." Social peace was a thing that must be made. There are some blessings that we do not make. They are freely given us by God. We do not make the sunshine or the grass or the summer evening or the sea. But in all the greatest spiritual blessings, you and I are workers with the Infinite. They are bestowed, and yet we have to make them. It is so with love, so with every talent, so with the nobility of Christian character. We are saints from the hour of our electing mercy, and yet to the end, a thousand leagues from sainthood. And as it is in all these highest blessings which make life strong and beautiful and rich, so it is with peace. We do not start with social peace; in a fallen world like this we start with enmity. To the seeing eye this world is all a battlefield, and every living creature is in arms. And then there falls the blessing of the peacemaker, and we see that peace is something to be striven for; the goal, the difficult and distant goal, of the struggle and the anguish of the ages. Remember that when there is not peace at home. Remember it when there is war in the world. We have not really lost what once was ours. We have failed to achieve the infinitely difficult. Social peace is a thing we follow after. It is not the beginning but the end, the long last goal that we are making for, through Nazareth and the desert and Gethsemane.

Peace Is a Goal Attainable by All

I remark in passing that this is an end that everybody can set before himself. The Master's blessing on the peacemaker is a blessing within the reach of all. I remember a sentence in Dr. Bonar's diary to this effect. "God has not called me," he writes, "as He calls Dr. Chalmers, to do great service for Him: He calls me to walk three or four miles today to be a peacemaker in a disunited family." My Christian friend, God may not have called you to follow the things that make for power. And only rarely amid life's multitudes does He call men to follow the things that make for fame. But there is nobody, whether old or young, whether mother or business man or child, but is called to follow the things that make for peace. For social peace, one of the choicest blessings, can be ruined by the most trifling of causes. It is like a delicate and jeweled watch that is disordered by a single hair. A word will do it, or a fit of temper, or a suspicion, or the discovery of falsehood -- how great a matter a little fire kindleth! You may destroy the lute by breaking it in two, and there are hearts and homes that lose their peace that way. But a little crack within the lute makes all the music mute. And it is just because the things that make for peace lie so largely among life's common elements that this is a calling that everyone can share.

Peacemaking Requires a Watchful and Charitable Silence

One of the first things that makes for social peace is a watchful and a charitable silence. No man or woman can ever be a peacemaker who has not learned to put a bridle on his lips. Every student of Christ must have observed the tremendous emphasis He puts on words. Of every idle word, He tells us, in the day of judgment we are to give account. And if you want to understand aright the passion and the depth of that, you will remember the beatitude, "Blessed are the peacemakers." Think of the infinite harm that can be wrought by a malicious or a thoughtless tongue; think of the countless hearts it lacerates; think of the happy friendships which it chills. And sometimes there is not even malice in it- only the foolish desire to be speaking, for evil is wrought by want of thought as well as want of heart. There is no more difficult task in life than to repeat exactly what someone else has said. Alter the playful tone, you alter everything. Subtract the smile, and you subtract the spirit. And yet how often do we all repeat things that are almost incapable of repetition and so give pain that never was intended. You can say good-bye in such a tone that it will carry the breaking of a heart. You can say it in such a tone that it is a dismissal of contempt. And yet how seldom do we think of tone, of voice, of eye, of smile, of personality when we pass on the word which we have heard. There are times that call for all outspokenness. No man ever denounced like Christ. "Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees." "Go, tell that fox." All that I know, and yet the fact remains that as we move along life's common ways, one of the mightiest things that makes for social peace is a wise and charitable silence. Not to believe everything we hear, not to repeat everything we hear, or else believing it to bury it unless we are called by conscience to proclaim it, that is a thing that makes for social peace, a thing within our power today, and it may be along that silent road lies our "Blessed are the peacemakers."
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« Reply #4 on: October 04, 2009, 04:43:12 PM »

The Things That Make for Peace 2 of 2
by George H. Morrison - 1866-1928

Peace Comes as a Result of a Happy Conscience

Another thing that makes for social peace is the possession of a happy conscience. Conscience not only makes cowards of us all: it overshadows our society. He who walks with an uneasy conscience because he is unworthy or unfaithful is an unfailing source of social upheaval. I need not remind you how the Gospel insists upon wholeheartedness. Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, it says, do it with all thy might. And it insists on this not only because all honest labor makes the doer happy, but because -- so interwoven are our lives -- it brings happiness and peace to others too. Here is a man, for instance, who comes home at evening after a day of honest, manly toil. He has done his work, faced his difficulties, resisted temptation when it met him. Such a man, when evening falls, not only enjoys serenity himself; he also spreads serenity around him. He feels a kinship with the children's merriment. There is that in him which augments the merriment. His wife has been toiling patiently all day --there is nothing to reproach him there. His happy conscience is a source of peace not only to himself, but to everyone with whom he comes in contact. Contrast with him another man who has squandered the precious hours of the day, who has not faced his work as a man should, who has yielded weakly to soliciting: such a man when he goes home at evening is not only unhappy in himself, he is also a source of unhappiness to others. He is almost certain to be irritable. He is very likely to be quarrelsome. On bad terms with himself, he is ready to be on bad terms with everybody. Like those widening ripples on the lake which the stone makes when cast into its stillness are the outward goings of the heart. None is so ready to foment a quarrel as he who has a quarrel with his conscience. None is so angry with the innocent as the man who is angry with himself. Half of those brutalities which shock us when the drunken ruffian beats his wife are but the outward sign of that dumb rage which the poor wretch feels against himself.

Happy People Are Rarely Quarrelsome

It therefore needs to be very clearly said, and it needs to be constantly remembered, that one of the things that makes for social peace is the possession of a happy conscience. Happy people are very rarely quarrelsome. They are not often abettors of turmoil. How often have I seen some newborn happiness act like magic on a bitter tongue. And there is no happiness in life more real, none that is more deserving of the name, than that of the task that is well done, of the cross that is well borne. Let any man so live his life then, and he shall not miss the blessing of the peacemaker. He may never know it. He may never dream of it. He may never interfere in any quarrel. Yet all the time in that brave way of his, he may be spreading the sunshine as he goes, and that is one of the things that makes for peace.

Righteousness Makes for Social Peace

Then there is another thing that makes for social peace on a larger and a grander scale. It is righteousness. It is the passion, the long endeavor, on the part of the individual or the nation, to be unfalteringly true to what is right. Very often to a hasty judgment it is the opposite that seems the truth. There is not one of us here but has been tempted to secure peace at the expense of righteousness, and many succumb to that temptation. There is indeed one temperament which is peculiarly exposed to that temptation -- not the temperament of the hero, but that of many most delightful people -- the temperament that loves all human kindliness --is courteous, deferential, genial --that shrinks from struggle and from contradiction. To such a temperament, a text like ours may come as a positive temptation. It is tempted to follow the things that make for peace at the expense of things more glorious than peace. Yet is it not alone in being tempted so. When a child is tempted to a lie rather than confess and bear its punishment, when a mother is tempted to wink at disobedience rather than have the sorrow of chastising, when a man dishonors his convictions, when a nation takes refuge in neutrality, then righteousness and peace seem far apart. My Christian friend, they are not far apart. They are eternally, inextricably one. Freedom from pain and struggle is not peace. Freedom from struggle may be the devil's peace. That momentary calm, that short escaping, that lull that is possible where truth is forfeited, is but a travesty of peace as we have learned it from the lips of Christ. Do you think that child knows anything of peace that has secured exemption by a lie? Do you think that mother knows anything of peace who has secured it by being false to duty? Do you think that land knows anything of peace that has taken refuge in a base neutrality when the voice of the feeble which is the voice of Christ is crying out for protection in its ears? That is not peace. That is ignoble quiet. That is the stillness which betokens death. That is not the peace of Him who followed it through Gethsemane and Calvary. He knew -- He had a right to know- that the world of His Father is founded upon righteousness, and that neither for man or nation is there peace unless it be broad-based on that. My Christian friend, lay it to your heart that cowardice can never make for peace, neither can lying, whether in man or nation, neither can neutrality. Such peace is but the quivering of moonlight. Such peace is but a sleep and a forgetting. Such peace is a dream from which a man awakes to find he has lost the angels and the stars.

Being Reconciled to God Leads to Peace

I close by suggesting in a word -- I should be false to my calling if I omitted it -- I close by suggesting that there is one thing more that contributes most wonderfully to social peace. It is the experience of being reconciled to God. And so pervasive is the eternal spirit, so really does it determine everything, that so long as man is out of touch with God, he cannot be in perfect touch with anything. Then through the Spirit of the Lord Jesus Christ, a man is reconciled to God. All the love that has been waiting for him flows in a tide into his life. And then at last, in harmony with God, he feels himself in harmony with everything, with bird and beast, with sunset and with hill, with every brother-man and sister-woman. There is no experience in life that makes for peace so steadily as that. Drawn into loving unity with God, we are drawn to a new brotherhood with everybody. That is how our Savior is our Peace. That is how He, Himself, has been the peacemaker. And that is how every man who really knows Him follows after the things that make for peace.
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« Reply #5 on: October 04, 2009, 04:57:30 PM »

Joy and Peace in Believing
by George H. Morrison - 1866-1928

Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing -- Romans 15:13

It is a question we ought to ask ourselves, in our quiet hours of meditation, whether we really know the joy and peace which are the benediction of our text. It is a great thing to be resigned amid the various buffetings of life. Resignation is better than rebellion. But resignation, however good it is, is not peculiarly a Christian virtue; it marks the stoic rather than the Christian. The Christian attitude towards the ills of life is something more triumphant than acceptance. It has an exultant note that resignation lacks. It is acceptance with a song in it. It is such a reaction to experience as suggests the certainty of victory -- the victory that overcomes the world. It is a searching question for us all, then, whether we truly know this joy and peace. Does it characterize our spiritual life? Is it evident in our discipleship? And that not only on the Lord's day and in the sanctuary, but in our routine dealings with the world.

Joy and Peace in Daily Life

Contrast, for instance, joy and peace in believing with joy and peace in working. Many who read this are happily familiar with joy and peace in working. It is true that work may be very uncongenial; there are those who hate the work they are engaged in. There are seasons, too, for many of us, when our strength may be unequal to the task. But speaking generally, what a good deal of joy and peace flow into the lives of men and women in prosecuting their appointed task. Again, think of joy and peace in loving; how evident is that in many a home. What a peaceful and happy place a home becomes when love lies at the basis of it all. The splendid attitude of children, their gladness that makes others glad, spring not only from the heart of childhood, but from the love that encircles them at home. Now Paul does not speak of joy and peace in working, nor does he speak of joy and peace in loving. His theme here is different from these: it is joy and peace in believing. And the question is, do we, who know these other things, know this in our experience of life and amid the jangling of our days.

The Joy and Peace of God Is for Every Christian

Think for a moment of the men and women to whom St. Paul originally wrote these words. Their cares and sorrows were just as real to them as our cares and sorrows are to us. They were called to be saints, and yet they were not saints. They were very far from being saints. Some were slaves, and some were city shopkeepers, and some were mothers in undistinguished homes. Yet Paul, when he writes to them, makes no exceptions. This blessing was for everyone of them. It never occurs to him that there might be anybody incapacitated for this joy and peace. We are so apt to think that an inward state of mind like this can never be possible for us. We have anxieties we cannot banish; we have temperaments we cannot alter. But just as Paul never dreamed there were exceptions in the various temperaments he was addressing, so the Holy Spirit who inspired the words never dreams there are exceptions now. This is for me. It is for you. It is for everybody who knows and loves the Lord. Not rebellion -- not even resignation when life is hard and difficult and sorrowful- but something with the note of triumph in it, a song like that which Paul and Silas sang, a peace that the world can never give -- and cannot take away.

The Marriage of Joy and Peace

Lest anyone should misread this inward attitude that is the peculiar possession of believers, note how here, as elsewhere in the Scripture, joy and peace are linked together. There is a joy that has no peace in it. It is feverish, tumultuous, unsettled. It is too aggressive to be the friend of rest; too wild to have any kinship with repose. Its true companionship is with excitement, and, like other passions, it grows by what it feeds on, ever demanding a more powerful stimulus and at last demanding it in vain. There is a peace that has no joy in it. "They make a solitude and call it peace." It is like a dull and sluggish river moving through an uninteresting country. But the beautiful thing is that on the page of Scripture as in the experience of the trusting soul, joy and peace are linked in closest union. The Kingdom of Heaven is not meat and drink; it is righteousness and joy and peace. The fruit of the Spirit is not love and joy alone; it is love and joy and peace. And our Lord in His last great discourse, when He declares His legacy of peace, closes with the triumphant note of joy. "These things have I spoken unto you" (and He had been speaking of His peace) "that your joy might be full." Whom God hath joined together, let not man put asunder. There is a joy that has no peace in it. There is a peace that is dull and dead and joyless. But the mark of the followers of the Lord is the mystical marriage union of the two. It is joy and peace in believing.

And how eminently fitted is the Gospel message to sustain this fine reaction on experience. The Gospel is good news; it is the most joyful news that ever broke upon the ear of man. Sweet is the message of returning spring after the cold and dreariness of winter. Sweet is the message of the morning light after a night of restlessness or pain. But a thousand times sweeter, a thousand times more wonderful, is the message which has been ours since we were children and which will be ours when the last shadows fall. Do we believe it? That is the vital question. Do we hold to it through the shadows and the buffetings ? Do we swing it like a lamp which God has lit over the darkest mile our feet have got to tread? Then, like joy and peace in working and in loving (with which we are all perfectly familiar), we shall experience with all the saints joy and peace in believing.
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« Reply #6 on: October 04, 2009, 04:58:56 PM »

The God of Hope
by George H. Morrison - 1866-1928

Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost -- Romans 15:13

In the Hebrew language, as scholars know, there are several different words for rain. From which we gather that in Hebrew life rain was something of very great importance. It is the same, though in the realm of spirit, with the names of God in the letters of St. Paul. The variety of divine names there betrays the deepest heart of the apostle. Think, for instance, of the names one lights on in this fifteenth chapter of the Romans, all of them occurring incidentally. He is the God of patience and of consolation (Romans 15:5). I trust my readers have all found Him that. He is the God of peace (Romans 15:33), keeping in perfect peace every one whose mind is stayed on Him. He is the God of hope (Romans 15:13), touching with radiant hopefulness everything that He has made, from the mustard seed to the children of mankind.

The Hopefulness of God in Nature

Think, for instance, how beautifully evident is the hopefulness of God in nature. Our Lord was very keenly alive to that. There is much in nature one cannot understand, and no loving communion will interpret it. There is a seeming waste and cruelty in nature that often lies heavy on the heart. But just as everything is beautiful in nature that the hand of man had never tampered with, so what a glorious hopefulness she breathes! Every seed, cast into the soil, is big with hopefulness of coming harvest. Every sparrow, in the winter ivy, is hopeful of the nest and of the younglings. Every streamlet, rising in the hills and brawling over the granite in the valley, is hopeful of its union with the sea. Winter comes with iciness and misery, but in the heart of winter is the hope of spring. Spring comes tripping across the meadow, but in the heart of spring there is the hope of summer. Summer comes garlanded with beauty, but in the heart of summer is the hope of autumn when sower and reaper shall rejoice together. Paul talks of the whole creation groaning and travailing in pain together. But a woman in travail is not a hopeless woman. Her heart is "speaking softly of a hope." The very word nature is the witness of language to that hopeful travail -- it means something going to be born. If, then, this beautiful world of nature is the garment of God by which we see Him, if His Kingdom be in the mustard seed, and not a sparrow can fall without His knowledge, how evident it is that He in whom we trust, who has never left Himself without a witness, is the God of hope.

The Hopefulness of the New Testament

Again, how evident is this attribute in the inspired word of the New Testament. The New Testament, as Dr. Denney used to say, is the most hopeful book in the whole world. I believe that God is everywhere revealed -- in every flower in the crannied wall. But I do not believe that He is everywhere equally revealed anymore than I believe it of myself. There are things I do that show my character far more fully than certain other things -- and God has made me in His image. I see Him in the sparrow and the mustard seed; I see Him in the lilies of the field; but I see more of Him, far more of Him, in the inspired word of the New Testament. And the fine thing to remember is just this, that the New Testament is not a hopeless book. Hope surges in it. Its note is that of victory. There steals on the ear in it the distant triumph song. It closes with the Book of Revelation where the Lamb is upon the throne. And if this be the expression of God's being far more fully than anything in nature, how sure we may be that He is the God of Hope.

Christ, the Gloriously Hopeful One

And then, lastly, we turn to our Lord and Savior. Is not He the most magnificent of optimists? Hope burned in Him (as Lord Morley said of Cromwell) when it had gone out in everybody else. There is an optimism based on ignorance: not such was the good hope of Christ. With an eye that sin had never dulled, He looked in the face all that was dark and terrible. There is an optimism based on moral laxity: not such was the good hope of Christ. He hated sin, although he loved the sinner. Knowing the worst, hating what was evil, treated by men in the most shameful way, Christ was gloriously and sublimely hopeful till death was swallowed up in victory; hopeful for the weakest of us, hopeful for the very worst, hopeful for the future of the world. Now call to mind the word He spake: "He that hath seen me, hath seen the Father. "He that hath seen into that heart of hopefulness hath seen into the heart of the Eternal. Once a man has won that vision though there are many problems that may vex him still, he never can doubt again, through all his years, the amazing hopefulness of God.
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« Reply #7 on: October 04, 2009, 05:00:29 PM »

GOOD NEWS!


John 1:1-5  In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  2  The same was in the beginning with God.  3  All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.  4  In him was life; and the life was the light of men.  5  And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.

John 3:16-18  For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.  17  For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.  18  He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.

Romans 3:10-12  As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one:  11  There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God.  12  They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one.

Romans 3:23  For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;

Romans 5:12  Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned:

Romans 6:23  For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Romans 1:18  For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness;

Romans 3:20  Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin.

Romans 5:8-9  But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.  9  Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him.

Romans 2:4  Or despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance?

Romans 3:21-22  But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets;  22  Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference:

Romans 3:27-28  Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? of works? Nay: but by the law of faith.  28  Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law.

Romans 10:8-10  But what saith it? The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart: that is, the word of faith, which we preach;  9  That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.  10  For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.

Romans 4:21-25  And being fully persuaded that, what he had promised, he was able also to perform.  22  And therefore it was imputed to him for righteousness.  23  Now it was not written for his sake alone, that it was imputed to him;  24  But for us also, to whom it shall be imputed, if we believe on him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead;  25  Who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification.

Romans 5:1-2  Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ:  2  By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.

Romans 10:10-13  For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.  11  For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed.  12  For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him.  13  For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.

2 Corinthians 9:15  Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gift.

Ephesians 2:8-10  For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:  9  Not of works, lest any man should boast.  10  For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.

God's Gift to us was sending Jesus Christ to die for us on the Cross about 2,000 years ago. He was a Perfect and Holy Sacrifice, and it's His Blood that washes our sins away. He arose from the dead on the third day and is our Living Lord and Saviour forever! Won't you stop putting this most important decision of your life off and accept Jesus Christ as your Lord and Saviour? Tomorrow might be too late. Many here will be happy to help you.

If your heart and mind are right, you can be saved right now. You don't have to wait. You might say a simple prayer and mean it from the bottom of your heart. Something like this:  Dear Heavenly Father, I've sinned against you many times, and I know that I'm lost and on my way to hell. I know now that you are the only God and Creator of all. I know that you are God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit - Yet One Almighty God. I know in my heart that you sent your Son to die on the Cross in payment for my sins. I also know in my heart that you raised your Son from the dead on the third day, and His Holy Name is Jesus Christ. Dear God, I beg forgiveness for my sins, and I ask that you send your Holy Spirit to live in my heart as a guide and comforter. Dear God, I know that Jesus Christ loves me enough to die for me, and I want Him to be the Lord and Head over my life. I want to return His Love, and I ask these things in the Precious Name of Jesus Christ, my Lord and Saviour Forever. Amen.

The prayer should be in your own words, and you must mean it from the bottom of your heart. If you do, God will hear you and grant your prayer. Your life will be changed forever from that very moment, and you will be able to say that God has Saved you.
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