Tag Archives: hope

“Our best havings are wantings” by C.S. Lewis

“All joy (as distinct from mere pleasure, still more amusement) emphasizes our pilgrim status: always reminds, beckons, awakes desire.

Our best havings are wantings.”

–C.S. Lewis, Letters of C.S. Lewis, eds. W.H. Lewis and Walter Hooper (New York: Harper, 1966), 565.

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“There are more Simeons in the world than we suppose” by J.C. Ryle

“We have in these verses the history of one whose name is nowhere else mentioned in the New Testament, ‘a just and devout man’ named Simeon. We know nothing of his life before or after the time when Christ was born.

We are only told that he came by the Spirit into the temple, when the child Jesus was brought there by His mother, and that he ‘took him up in his arms and blessed God’ in words which are now well-known all over the world.

We see, in the case of Simeon, how God has a believing people even in the worst of places, and in the darkest times. Religion was at a very low ebb in Israel when Christ was born.

The faith of Abraham was spoiled by the doctrines of Pharisees and Sadducees. The fine gold had become deplorably dim. Yet even then we find in the midst of Jerusalem a man ‘just and devout,’– a man ‘upon whom is the Holy Ghost.’

It is a cheering thought that God never leaves Himself entirely without a witness. Small as His believing church may sometimes be, the gates of hell shall never completely prevail against it.

The true church may be driven into the wilderness, and be a scattered little flock, but it never dies.

There was a Lot in Sodom and an Obadiah in Ahab’s household, a Daniel in Babylon and a Jeremiah in Zedekiah’s court; and in the last days of the Jewish Church, when its iniquity was almost full, there were godly people, like Simeon, even in Jerusalem.

True Christians, in every age, should remember this and take comfort. It is a truth which they are apt to forget, and in consequence to give way to despondency.

‘I only am left,’ said Elijah, ‘and they seek my life to take it away.’ But what said the answer of God to him, ‘Yet have I left me seven thousand in Israel.’ (1 Kings 19:14, 18.)

Let us learn to be more hopeful.

Let us believe that grace can live and flourish, even in the most unfavorable circumstances.

There are more Simeons in the world than we suppose.”

–J.C. Ryle, Expository Thoughts on Luke (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1858/2012), 1: 51-52. Ryle is commenting on Luke 2:25-35.

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“He sent us a Savior” by D.A. Carson

“If God had perceived that our greatest need was economic, He would have sent an economist.

If He had perceived that our greatest need was entertainment, He would have sent us a comedian or an artist.

If God had perceived that our greatest need was political stability, He would have sent us a politician.

If He had perceived that our greatest need was health, He would have sent us a doctor.

But He perceived that our greatest need involved our sin, our alienation from Him, our profound rebellion, our death; and He sent us a Savior.”

–D.A. Carson, Praying With Paul: A Call to Spiritual Reformation (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1992/2015), 88-89.

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“Not afraid but full of delight” by Charles Spurgeon

“What is this fear of God? I answer, first, it is a sense of awe of His greatness. Have you never felt this sacred awe stealing insensibly over your spirit, hushing, and calming you, and bowing you down before the Lord?

It will come, sometimes, in the consideration of the great works of nature. Gazing upon the vast expanse of waters,—looking up to the innumerable stars, examining the wing of an insect, and seeing there the matchless skill of God displayed in the minute; or standing in a thunderstorm, watching, as best you can, the flashes of lightning, and listening to the thunder of Jehovah’s voice, have you not often shrunk into yourself, and said, “Great God, how terrible art Thou!”—not afraid, but full of delight, like a child who rejoices to see his father’s wealth, his father’s wisdom, his father’s power,—happy, and at home, but feeling oh, so little!

When we realize this, we are filled with a holy awe as we think of God’s greatness, and the result of that is that we are moved to fall before Him in reverent adoration.

We turn to the Word of God, and there we see further proofs of His greatness in all His merciful arrangements for the salvation of sinners,—and especially in the matchless redemption wrought out by His well-beloved Son, every part of which is full of the divine glory; and as we gaze upon that glory with exceeding joy, we shrink to nothing before the Eternal, and the result again is lowly adoration.

We bow down, and adore and worship the living God, with a joyful, tender fear, which both lays us low, and lifts us very high, for never do we seem to be nearer to heaven’s golden throne than when our spirit gives itself up to worship Him whom it does not see, but in whose realized presence it trembles with sacred delight.

The fear of God also takes another form, that is, the fear of His Fatherhood which leads us to reverence Him. When divine grace has given us the new birth, we recognize that we have entered into a fresh relationship towards God; namely, that we have become His sons and daughters.

Then we realize that we have received “the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.” (Romans 8:15) Now, we cannot truly cry unto God, “Abba, Father,” without at the same time feeling, “Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God.” (1 John 3:1)

When we recognize that we are “heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ,” (Romans 8:17) children of the Highest, adopted into the family of the Eternal Himself, we feel at once, as the spirit of childhood works within us, that we both love and fear our great Father in heaven, who has loved us with an everlasting love, and has “begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away.” (1 Peter 1:3-5)

In this childlike fear, there is not an atom of that fear which signifies being afraid. We, who believe in Jesus, are not afraid of our Father; God forbid that we ever should be.

The nearer we can get to Him, the happier we are. Our highest wish is to be forever with Him, and to be lost in Him; but, still, we pray that we may not grieve Him; we beseech Him to keep us from turning aside from Him; we ask for His tender pity towards our infirmities, and plead with Him to forgive us and to deal graciously with us for His dear Son’s sake.

As loving children, we feel a holy awe and reverence as we realize our relationship to Him who is our Father in heaven,—a dear, loving, tender, pitiful Father, yet our Heavenly Father, who ‘is greatly to be feared in the assembly of the saints, and to be had in reverence of all them that are about Him.’ (Psalm 89:7)”

–Charles H. Spurgeon, “A Fear to Be Desired,” in The Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit Sermons (vol. 48; London: Passmore & Alabaster, 1902), 48: 496, 497-498.

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“Our prospects are as bright as the promises of God” by Charles Spurgeon

“Our prospects are bright, bright as the promises of God. Hath He not said, ‘I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth’?

God would sooner make the whole earth to quiver with earthquakes, like the leaf of the aspen in the gale, than allow one idol temple to stand fast forever.

He would sooner unbind all the civil compacts of mankind until the human race became disintegrated into separate atoms, than suffer thrones and dominions to prevent the triumph of His church, and the victory of her Lord.”

–Charles H. Spurgeon, “Precious, Honourable, Beloved,” in The Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit Sermons (vol. 16; London: Passmore & Alabaster, 1870), 16: 113.

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“God has life in Himself” by J.I. Packer

“Children sometimes ask, ‘Who made God?’ The clearest answer is that God never needed to be made, because He was always there.

He exists in a different way from us: we, His creatures, exist in a dependent, derived, finite, fragile way, but our Maker exists in an eternal, self-sustaining, necessary way— necessary, that is, in the sense that God does not have it in Him to go out of existence, just as we do not have it in us to live forever.

We necessarily age and die, because it is our present nature to do that; God necessarily continues forever unchanged, because it is His eternal nature to do that. This is one of many contrasts between creature and Creator.

God’s self-existence is a basic truth. At the outset of his presentation of the unknown God to the Athenian idolaters, Paul explained that this God, the world’s Creator, ‘is not served by human hands, as if He needed anything, because He Himself gives all men life and breath and everything else’ (Acts 17:23–25).

Sacrifices offered to idols, in today’s tribal religions as in ancient Athens, are thought of as somehow keeping the god going, but the Creator needs no such support system.

The word aseity, meaning that He has life in Himself and draws His unending energy from Himself (a se in Latin means ‘from Himself’), was coined by theologians to express this truth, which the Bible makes clear (Pss. 90:1–4; 102:25–27; Isa. 40:28–31; John 5:26; Rev. 4:10).

In theology, endless mistakes result from supposing that the conditions, bounds, and limits of our own finite existence apply to God. The doctrine of His aseity stands as a bulwark against such mistakes.

In our life of faith, we easily impoverish ourselves by embracing an idea of God that is too limited and small, and again the doctrine of God’s aseity stands as a bulwark to stop this happening. It is vital for spiritual health to believe that God is great (cf. Ps. 95:1–7), and grasping the truth of His aseity is the first step on the road to doing this.”

–J.I. Packer, Concise Theology: A Guide to Historic Christian Beliefs (Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House, 1993), 26-27.

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“Death may deprive of dear friends, but it can’t deprive us of our best friend” by Jonathan Edwards

“Now, Madam, let us consider what suitable provision God has made for our consolation under all our afflictions in giving us a Redeemer of such glory and such love, especially when it is considered what were the ends of that great manifestation of His beauty and love in His death.

He suffered that we might be delivered. His soul was exceeding sorrowful even unto death, to take away the sting of sorrow and that we might have everlasting consolation.

He was oppressed and afflicted that we might be supported. He was overwhelmed in the darkness of death and of hell, that we might have the light of life.

He was cast into the furnace of God’s wrath, that we might swim in the rivers of pleasure. His heart was overwhelmed in a flood of sorrow and anguish, that our hearts might be filled and overwhelmed with a flood of eternal joy.

And now let it be considered what circumstances our Redeemer now is in. He was dead but is alive, and He lives forevermore.

Death may deprive of dear friends, but it can’t deprive us of this, our best friend. And we have this friend, this mighty Redeemer, to go to under all affliction, who is not one that can’t be touched with the feeling of our afflictions, He having suffered far greater sorrows than we ever have done.

And if we are vitally united to Him, the union can never be broken; it will remain when we die and when heaven and earth are dissolved. Therefore, in this we may be confident, we need not fear though the earth be removed.

In Him we may triumph with everlasting joy; even when storms and tempests arise we may have resort to Him who is a hiding place from the wind and a covert from the tempest.

When we are thirsty, we may come to Him who is as rivers of waters in a dry place.

When we are weary, we may go to Him who is as the shadow of a great rock in a weary land.

Having found Him who is as the apple tree among the trees of the wood, we may sit under His shadow with great delight and His fruit may be sweet to our taste.

Christ told his disciples that in the world they should have trouble, but says He, ‘In Me ye shall have peace.’ If we are united to Him, our souls will be like a tree planted by a river that never dieth.

He will be our light in darkness and our morning star that is a bright harbinger of day. And in a little while, He will arise on our souls as the sun in full glory. And our sun shall no more go down, and there shall be no interposing cloud, no veil on His face or on our hearts, but the Lord shall be our everlasting light and our Redeemer, our glory.

That this glorious Redeemer would manifest his glory and love to you, and apply the little that has been said of these things to your consolation in all your affliction, and abundantly reward your generous favors, as when I was at Kittery, is the fervent prayer of, Madam, your Ladyship’s most obliged and affectionate friend,

And most humble servant,

Jonathan Edwards.”

–Jonathan Edwards, Letters and Personal Writings (ed. George S. Claghorn and Harry S. Stout; Vol. 16; The Works of Jonathan Edwards; New Haven; London: Yale University Press, 1998), 16: 418–419. Edwards wrote this letter from Stockbridge to Lady Pepperrell on November 28, 1751, to console her on the loss of her son.

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