Whoever invokes a blessing in the land will do so by the God of truth, and whoever takes an oath in the land will swear by the God of truth. For the former troubles will be forgotten and hidden from My sight.
Luke 6:20-26. "The blessedness of those that serve God, and the woeful condition of those that rebel against him, are here set, the one over against the other, that they may serve as a foil to each other."
I. CONTRAST THE TWO KINDS OF LIFE. The man who fears God and sets his heart upon serving him, finds the promises fulfilled - "Verily thou shalt be filled;" "None of them that trust in him shall be desolate." He may take his place in anxious and troublous times, but since he is God's servant, he shall be even as Elijah, fed by ravens, or by poor widows, if need be. The man who fears not God is left to ordinary human devices, and may be left hungry and thirsty and desolate. He holds no guarantee. The Giver of all good is under no covenant-pledge to see that he wants no good thing. "God's servants shall eat and drink; they shall have the bread of life to feed, to feast upon continually, and shall want nothing that is good for them. But those who set their hearts upon the world, and place their happiness in it, shall be hungry and thirsty, always empty, always craving. In communion with God and dependence upon him there is full satisfaction; but in sinful pursuits there is nothing but dissatisfaction and disappointment."
II. CONTRAST THE TWO KINDS OF DISPOSITIONS. Trust in God brings peace and heart-rest. Those who know what soul-rest is, find it easy to sing and give thanks. "The joy of the Lord is their strength." There is good cheer and high hope in their souls. "God's servants shall rejoice and sing for joy of heart; they have constant cause for joy, and there is nothing that may be an occasion of grief to them but may have an allay sufficient for it. But, on the other hand, they that forsake the Lord shut themselves out from all true joy, for they shall be ashamed of their vain confidence in themselves, and their own righteousness, and the hopes they had built thereon. When the expectations of bliss, wherewith they had flattered themselves, are frustrated, oh, what confusion will fill their faces!" (Matthew Henry). "The joy of the world resembles a torrent. As upon a glut of rain, you shall have a torrent come rolling along with noise and violence, overflowing its banks, and bearing all before it; yet it is but muddy and impure water, and it is soon gone and dried up: such is all the joy this world can give. It makes a great noise, it is commonly immoderate, and swells beyond its due bounds; yet it is but a muddy and impure joy; it soon roils away, and leaves nothing behind but a drought in the soul. Now, since the world's joy is but such a poor empty thing as this, it is most gross folly for us to lay out our best love upon that which cannot repay us with the best joy" (Bishop Hopkins). - R.T.
Behold, My servants shall sing.
1. God makes His servants sing for joy of heart. There was once a famous musician who could bring out the most charming music from one string of a violin. Like that violin, many of us have only one string, and that a cracked one; but our God can make it sound forth perfect praise.
2. You may recognize a servant of God by his joyous face. We do not see many joyous faces, except in little children; and only then at odd times. The human race is born to trouble; but God can turn our sorrow into joy. How pleasant to look on a glad and joyous face I Nightingales do not often come so far north as Manchester; but last year one of those birds built its nest outside our city, and dozens of people went out to hear the sweet singer of the night. Letters were written to the newspapers about it, and everybody thought it a remarkable thing. How sweet it was to hear the warble of that bird in the darkness of the night! If the nightingale sang in the day-time, we might not notice it any more than the melody of the lark or the music of the wren; it is delightsome to us because it is a song in the night. Likewise, a joyous face and joyous words are equally remarkable. In this world of dark doubts and fears, let the singing of the joy in your heart be seen in your face and heard in your words.
3. The servants of God are also known by their joyous disposition. Live temperately, be home in good time every evening, rise early; and the joyousness of life shall enter your heart.
4. The servants of God have the joy of knowing Him.
5. There is the joy of pardon.
6. There is the joy of salvation.
7. We have also the joy of faith. How blessed to be able to trust God's care! In the long roads of the East, where people have to travel wearily on foot for many miles, it is the custom of kindly-hearted people to put on the road-side a pitcher of water, so that the thirsty traveller may freely drink. Likewise, God puts blessings and comforts for us on our pathway; and such tokens of His goodness cause us to sing for joy.
8. We have the joy of His presence. One day, when the Grecian army was near the enemy's camp, Alexander the Great slept very peacefully; and when he awoke, one of his friends said — "Alexander, how is it you slept so well?" The king replied, "Slept so well? Of course I can sleep well. Does not Parmenio watch?" Does not God watch over you?
9. There is the joy of His promises. Lord Chatham one day promised his son that when the garden wall was pulled down, he should be present to see it fall. But forgetting has promise, he gave orders for the wall to be taken down in the absence of his son. He remembered it the next day, and at once ordered it to be rebuilt, in order that the promise might be kept. But God never forgets His promise.
10. There is the joy of the future. You may ask, "Is there any joy in death? Yes! One day, a sculptor was near death; pain shot through his frame; and when his wife's tears dropped on his face, he said, "My dear, have patience; this pain is only the chiselling!" So, when death comes to you, you shall have the joy of knowing that your pain is God's kindly hand dealing very gently with you.
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