“They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength.”
HUMAN strength is of many kinds, but in any form it will spend itself in due time. God can lend to men immense physical force, but though a man had the strength of a lion and an ox combined, he would one day fail. The force of flesh must fade like the grass to which it is likened. Samson sometimes becomes exhausted and he is likely to die of thirst, though he has slain a thousand men! Yes, more, he must ultimately die and his mighty and tremendous muscles must yield to the worm and return to the dust of death. Since even granite and iron yield to constant wear and tear, assuredly man’s frail body cannot long be a thing of strength–
“Our days a transient period run,
And change with every circling sun.
And while to lengthened years we trust,
Before the moth we sink to dust.”
Mental strength is a noble possession, but it also fails its owner, for at best it is a finite power. The wisest of men, byand-by, feel the infirmities of age creeping upon them and frequently present the sad spectacle of second childhood. Death pays no regard to science or eloquence. The fool dies and as surely dies the senator, the philosopher, the Divine. When you take up the skull of a sage, you find no weight of wisdom there, nor trace of all the curious movements of a potent brain. Knowledge, genius, imagination, prophetic fire all depart–even before death they often fail. Baffled by mysteries; balked by prejudice; blinded by pride, the man of great understanding may yet be driven to his wit’s end.
So far as even spiritual strength is of the man, himself–so far as you can conceive of it apart from the immediate operation of the Holy Spirit–it, also, cannot be depended on. The most devout may grow lukewarm, the strongest Believer may doubt, the most sanctified may backslide! It is a heavenly strength, but so far as it is transfused into our humanity and becomes a part of ourselves, it, also, may wax weak, though, blessed be God, it can never utterly die! Every form of human strength must of necessity spend itself, for the world of which it forms a part decays and, by-and-by, like a worn-out vesture, the heavens and the earth shall be rolled up and put away.
Some signs of age, the creatures show already, but the time will come when their strength shall utterly fail. The reason is that all strength apart from God is derived strength and is, consequently, measurable. Yes, apart from God it is not strength at all and, consequently, must come to an end. The river runs on and the brook fails not because they come from fountains that are not affected by drought–but cisterns are dried and reservoirs fail because they have no springing well at the bottom of them–and if the pipes which supply them cease to flow, they are soon left dry as a threshingfloor. Pools which are not self-supplied are always liable to be exhausted as the water is drained from them. Let every man know, therefore, that whatever his strength may be, of body, mind, or spirit–if it is his own, it will one day fail him.
Let him see to it, therefore, that he does not trust it–especially that he does not trust it with eternal hazards or rest upon it for his soul’s safety–for which it never can be equal. It will be a horrible thing to be leaning and to find your staff fail you when you are on the edge of a measureless precipice! It will be terrible to be building and to find your foundation washed from under you and all your handiwork carried away by the flood! Yet so it must be if we are depending upon anything that comes of ourselves. Our own righteousness, our own thoughts, our own religiousness, our own prayers, resolves, attainments, achievements–everything that is of ourselves must sooner or later prove themselves to be but human–and over all things human it is best to write, “Vanity of vanities, all is vanity!”
Mingled with all things human there are portions of that all-dissolving acid which fell upon man’s nature when Infinite Justice said, “Dust you are, and unto dust shall you return.” On the other hand, what a contrast there is as to Divine strength! That never fails! It seems almost a superfluity to say as much as that–it abides in joyous fullness, never in the least diminished. With God there are no years to make Him decline with age, no labors to tax His powers. With God our lives are but as the swing of the pendulum. A thousand years in His sight are passed away as a watch in the night! Millions of ages are nothing to Him. He was God when as yet this sun, moon and all these stars slept in His thoughts like unborn forests in an acorn! And He will be God when all this brief creation shall melt back to nothing as a moment’s foam dissolves into the wave that bore it and is lost forever.
God changes not in any degree whatever–the fountain of His almightiness still overflows. He made this world–no doubt He has made thousands more and has still an undiminished power to create! All the worlds that we can see revolving in yonder sky are, perhaps, as a single chamber in the mansion of creation–they occupy an insignificant corner behind the door–compared to other and vaster worlds that He has made. But the glorious Lord is just as ready to make more! He is still the same forever and forever. In your dire necessity you may draw largely upon Him, but you cannot exhaust Him. You may bring your boundless needs and have them all supplied, but you shall no more diminish His allsufficiency than when an infant dips his cup into the sea and leaves the sea brimming over upon 10,000 leagues of shore!
Oh, the glory of the strength of God! I cannot speak of it. I will not contrast it with the strength of man. What then? These two things seem very far away–man with his faintness, his strength gradually drying up–God with His eternity and inexhaustible Omnipotence! If we can bring these two together; if by an act of faith you that are human can be linked with the Divine, what a wondrous thing will happen! Then the sacred Words of the text will be fulfilled and your strength will be renewed! Apt as it is to dry up, it will be renovated, freshened, filled up, increased, established! From the eternal deep that lies under–that deep of which Moses said that it, “couches beneath”–from that measureless fountain shall you draw strength which all eternity will not exhaust!
You are weakness itself, but it you are united to the Divine strength, you shall be infinitely strong. The cipher is nothing, but with a unit before it, becomes ten! A man is nothing, but with God in him, he makes Hell tremble! Now that is just my text, “They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength.” If they are apart from God, their strength will die out. But when they are linked to God and wait upon God for everything–casting their nothingness upon His Omnipotence–then shall they find their strength renewed. With God in him, though the man were dead, yet shall he live! Job says, “My bow was renewed in my hand.” Grass cut down shall grow again when Heaven’s dew shall quicken it. The brook that was ready to dry up shall flow again when Heaven remembers it and unseals its treasures! The skies that burned like brass shall be cooled, again, with clouds when the Lord thinks upon them. When the heart drinks life from the heart of God and man is at one with his Maker, then all is well–
“From God, the overflowing spring,
Our souls shall drink a flesh supply;
While those who trust their native strength
Shall melt away and droop and die.”
I have now to speak from my text, first, upon how a true Church may be described. “They that wait upon the Lord."Secondly, upon what such a Church needs to renew its strength. And thirdly, how such a Church may renew its strength–by waiting upon the Lord. That which serves as a description of true Believers serves, also, as a direction to true Believers–They that wait upon the Lord are the men who may most hopefully be encouraged, still, to wait upon the Lord that their strength may be renewed.
- First, then, here WE SEE HOW A TRUE CHURCH MAY BE DESCRIBED–“They that wait upon the Lord.” A Church such as a Church ought to be, consists of men who depend only upon the Lord, for waiting signifies dependence. Their hope is in God. They rest in God’s righteousness as their righteousness and they receive the great Sacrifice provided by God to be their atonement and their acceptance. No man is really a Christian who finds his hope and confidence within himself–he must be looking out of himself to God in Christ Jesus. It is absolutely essential that it should be so. He that is God’s beloved is a Believer in God, that is to say, a truster in God, waiter upon God. His one sole confidence is in God His Savior. This being so with each individual, the whole Church can sing–
“Our spirits look to God alone,
In all our fears, in all our straits
Our soul on His salvation waits.”
If Christians are what they ought to be, they depend upon God alone in their Church capacity. God’s Word is their only creed–they do not add to it anything whatever–no, not a sentence, a gloss, or a thought. They have greatly erred who look upon anything as the authoritative standard of faith but God’s own Word. I hear you say, “Do you not respect the Thirty-Nine Articles?” However much or little I may respect them, it makes no difference to the fact that the Church of God is not bound to any faith but that which God Himself has revealed! “But the Westminster Assembly’s Confession?” It must be treated in the same manner. That summary of doctrine is very admirable, but human creeds, as such, have nothing on earth to do with me!
The point I have to make is this, What does God say? What does His Word say? Within the covers of the Bible you find all theology. Nothing outside of this Book is binding on a Christian man as doctrine in the least degree whatever! The Bible and only the Bible is the religion of Christians! “To the Law and to the Testimony! If they speak not according to this Word, it is because there is no light in them.” This Word has life within it which rules in the souls of the Lord’s elect. Blessed be the Spirit of God who dictated it! We yield implicit faith to all that He has revealed and to nothing else. A true Church of God will say, “We wait upon the Lord for teaching–this Word of the Lord is to us our Infallible source of doctrine–and that alone.”
Those who wait upon the Lord for their creed shall never need to give up their faith for something better, but they shall renew their strength. Faithful to her Lord in doctrine, a true Church also waits upon the Lord for Grace and has faith in the Doctrines of Grace as the testimony with which she is to work. What am I to teach to my people if I am a Christian minister? If a Church is rightly constituted, it says to the pastor, “Teach what God has taught. Preach Christ Crucified! Preach not your own thoughts, nor notions of your own inventing, but what is revealed by God! Preach that, for it shall be the power of God unto salvation.” I am always sorry when, in order to promote a revival, false doctrine is preached. I will preach no false doctrine if I know it–no, not to save the world!
Of this I am assured–if the Truth of God will not save a man, a lie will not! If the bare unaltered Truth of God will not break a man’s heart, then it certainly will not break it when it is rounded and toned down and made to look pretty so as to suit the prevailing taste! No, a Church that waits upon the Lord uses only the Doctrines of Scripture as its battle-ax and weapons of war. A Church that is waiting upon the Lord always knows where its strength lies, namely, in its God. What is the power with which men are to be converted? Some say eloquence. The Church of God says, “Not so! Not by might, nor by power, but by the Spirit of the Lord!”
I solemnly believe that so much of human oratory as there is in a sermon, so much there is of the weakness of the flesh–for all the power must be of God working with the Truth of God through the Holy Spirit. Therefore we should use great plainness of speech and never speak for the sake of the language, but always for the sake of the Truth of God we have to say, that God may bless it to the hearts of men. No man in this world was ever converted except by the Holy Spirit and never will any man be truly converted by any other power. Bang your drums, Brother, and blow your brass instruments, if you like, but neither cornet, flute, harp, sackbut, psaltery, dulcimer, nor any other kind of music will ever save a soul!
Deck your altar out as prettily as you like and burn your most fragrant incense, but no soul ever finds Heaven by the light of candles nor by the scent of censers! The Gospel has salvation in it when the Holy Spirit works by it–and no other doctrine can save. The Spirit of the Lord, alone, must bless the Truth of God, and He will bless only the Truth of God. This is the Church’s sole power with souls. Now, you Christian people that are trying to do good and glorify God, I pray you wait upon the Lord and resolve that you will only go to God’s work armed with God’s Truth and backed up by God’s Spirit. Many in these days think that we need a great deal besides the Spirit of God, but they are in error. They think that the world is not to be converted and men saved in the old-fashioned way of preaching the Word of God with the Holy Spirit sent down from Heaven. But let me assure you that it is to be converted in that way and in no other!
Human agriculture is capable of daily improvement, but as the plans of the great Husbandman are perfect from the first, you may be sure that there will be no change in them! You may go through the world ranting and raving, or you may go arguing and discussing, but you cannot touch a dead heart to make it alive either by excitement or by philosophy. You cannot breathe into the nostrils of a dead soul eternal life, though your winds should blow hot with fanaticism, or chill with rationalism! Spiritual life can only come in God’s way and it is God’s way by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe! From the Gospel pulpit believing preachers work more miracles than your learned men will ever believe. God’s Word will not return to Him void, but man’s word is void when it goes forth–and void it remains to the end of the chapter! The magicians and their enchantments cannot compare with the rod of Moses. One Word of the Lord is stronger than all the rage of Hell or the enmity of the world. We mean to, whatever others do, keep to “waiting upon the Lord,” going to work in the Lord’s way and depending upon the Lord’s power and upon Him alone!
But waiting upon God means something more than dependence upon God, so I go a step farther–if we depend upon God, our expectation is from Him. We wait upon God as the birds in the nest wait upon the parent bird, expecting from her their food. Before she comes, you hear their cries, but when she comes, if you look into the nest, you will see nothing but so many gaping mouths, all waiting, expecting to be filled by the mother bird. Now, that is just what a Church of God ought to be–a company of wide-opened mouths waiting to be filled only by the Lord! “Open your mouth wide, and I will fill it,” says the Lord. Do you not think that some Churches and some Christians, with very small expectations, have scarcely learned to open their months at all?
If the Lord were to convert a soul, now and then, they would be pleased and express a grateful surprise! But do they expect to hear of hundreds added to the Church at a time, or of thousands in a year brought to Christ? No, they think this may be done in some extraordinary instances in very large places, but they do not expect it in their gatherings. Oh, Friends, let us expect more of God and we shall receive more! Does He not always come up to our expectations? Does He not amaze us with the blessings of His goodness? Is He not able to do exceedingly above all that we ask or even think? I find it such a blessing to have expecting people about me, for they make a flourishing Church. Some Brothers and Sisters here at this Tabernacle are men and women of great expectations, for even now while I am preaching, they are planning whereabouts they will be in the aisle to talk with folk going out–they know that some will be converted by the Word of God and they are on the look-out to pick them up!
These Brethren are grieved and surprised if, after a service, they do not meet with one or two enquirers or convicted sinners, that they may join with them in tearful prayer! They are believers in the power of the Gospel and they act accordingly. When I fire the gun, they are on the alert to pick up the birds, for they believe in the killing power of the Word of God! They could not be content with ineffectual preaching–they expect that the Word will be fruitful and so they bring their basket to put the fruit in! Oh, if a Church would but wait upon God in this sense of expecting great things from Him, it should have them! He will never allow His people to complain that He has been a wilderness to them. He will never raise their hopes to dash them to the ground.
Is there any man alive who has believed in the Lord too largely, and expected too confidingly? Brother ministers, let us begin to expect more–not from our ministry because it is powerful, for it is nothing of the kind by itself–but from God’s ministry through us, for if He speaks by us, why should not men yield to His voice though they will not yield to ours? If He is with us, can He not make us hammers that shall break the rocks in pieces? Can He not use even us to be as a fire to melt the iron hearts of men? So then, a true Church depends upon God and expects from God–and in this sense answers to the description– “They that wait upon the Lord.”
To make up waiting, I think there is a third thing, and that is patience–to hold out and wait the Lord’s time and will. The three together–dependence, expectation, patience–make up waiting upon the Lord. This “patience” is, to the uttermost, desirable in a thousand matters, that we may endure affliction, persevere in holiness, continue in hope and abide in our integrity. Patience is the long life of virtue and sets on its head the crown of experience. It is no child’s play to continue to suffer affliction with joyfulness and to remain, for years, perfectly acquiescent in the will of the Lord. But let that be what it may. It needs the eyes of faith to see God in the dark, to believe in His love when He is angry and to rest in His promise when it tarries long. That little word, WAIT, is a word fit for a father in Christ and comes not out of the mouth of a babe in Grace. Let us ask for Grace to pronounce it aright–
“Wait, my Soul, upon the Lord, to His gracious promise flee,
Laying hold upon His Word, ‘As your day, your strength shall be.’”
Some of my dear Brothers in Christ are ardent followers of Christ, but they do not seem to have learned the meaning of that word, “patience.” They are working for Christ and they are depending upon the Lord. And they are looking for results–but when they do not quite see them immediately–they are at once offended and depressed. They are in such a hurry that they seem half inclined to cry, “Why should I wait for the Lord any longer?” I daresay that you were much the same when you were children–you wanted everything at once, and waiting was dismal work to you. We are all impatient as long as we are imperfect. It is the mark of the child that he is in a violent hurry where men are steady.
Perhaps our father gave us some seed and we hurried to sow it. We put in a little mustard and cress one morning and then we thought that we would eat it with tea, but as we saw no sign of green, we went and turned over the earth to see if the seed was sprouting! We were greatly surprised to find that it had not grown up green and ready to cut–we did not understand that the farmer waits. We had a little apple tree and we put it in the ground. The planting of that tree was a grand affair and we reckoned upon many puddings being made out of the apples gathered from it next year. We were sadly surprised to see that the apples did not come. Yes, that is the spirit of children–their name is Passion–not Patience! They live in the present hour and have no power to extend themselves into days to come.
The Lord sometimes sends us speedy results to our labors. It happens at times that the moment we speak, conversions are worked–but at other times it is not so–the Truth of God works slowly and surely and effects all the more precious results. We must wait for seed to grow and for fruit to ripen. If we really wait upon the Lord, we shall just keep on, resolved to abide in duty, determined to remain in prayer, undaunted in confidence, unmoved in expectation. We shall not fly into a passion with the Lord and refuse to believe Him any more. Neither shall we run off to novelties and fall into the fads and crazes of the day–to try this and to try that–because God’s own way, we think, is a failure! No, by God’s Grace we shall say, “I have done what God bade me. I have done it in dependence upon His Spirit and I believe that good will come of it. Therefore I shall wait and watch. I shall be found moving when God moves, or sitting still when the Lord tarries. I am sure that He will not fail the soul that waits upon Him–all will be well–the blessing will come.”
What a sweet thing is the calm leisure of faith!–“He that believes shall not make haste.” Fret and worry, hurry and haste are all slain by the hand of faith! God has plenty of time–no, He fills eternity and, therefore, He can bear with man’s waywardness with much long-suffering! You and I are in feverish haste, but when we get to be linked with God, we also, can wait, even as God waits to be gracious and has patient compassion upon men. That is a description of what a Christian ought to be–“waiting upon the Lord”–depending upon God, expecting from God and patiently waiting for God till He shall give the desired blessing.
II. But now, secondly, we see WHAT THE LORD’S WAITING PEOPLE NEED. They need to renew their strength. Even those saints who wait upon God for everything, may grow faint and require reviving. And that is, first, because they are human. As long as you and I are mortal, we shall be mutable–as the world is full of changes, so are we. Some friends never seem to be either high or low in their feelings–their life has neither hills nor valleys in it, but is comparable to an unbroken plain–they traverse a perpetual level. It is not so with others of us–we are all Alps and Andes. These favored pilgrims march steadily and evenly through the world, always at one pitch and pace, but others of us who mount up into the heavens in burning zeal and holy joy, go low, down very low, into the depths till our soul sinks because of sorrow. The best and bravest of the saints are poor creatures.
Elijah on the top of Carmel, when he has brought fire from Heaven, cries, “Take the prophets of Baal; let not one of them escape.” Hear him, as he pleads with God and unlocks the treasury of the rain! See him gird up his loins and run before the chariot of Ahab! There is a man for you! If ever hero-worship might be tolerated, it is in the case of, “this, my lord, Elijah.” Look not too closely at the champion, for within 24 hours he is afraid of Jezebel and soon he is whining, “O Lord, take away my life; for I am no better than my fathers.” Do you blame him? Do you fail to understand so sad a fall from so great a height? Take heed of censuring a man so greatly approved of God as to be spared the pains of death! If you do as well as Elijah did, perhaps you may hear some nobodies blaming you in your hour of exhaustion!
As for me, I cannot censure him, nor can any man who has ever enjoyed the heavenly delirium of high-strung zeal in the Master’s service–and having been borne aloft on eagle’s wings–at last falls upon the earth in absolute exhaustion. After high excitement, there will come reaction. Creatures whose home is on the earth cannot always live upon the wing–they must feel faint, at times and, therefore, the necessity of this blessed promise–“They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength.” They will rise again! From their deepest depressions they will leap into supreme elevations! They shall dwell on the heights, they shall soar above the clouds! The very depths to which they dive are prophetic of the heights to which they will climb, again, by God’s Grace! The Lord has said, “I will bring, again, from the depths of the sea.”
They need renewing, also, because in addition to being human, they are imperfect. The sin that dwells in us, drags us down. However high we have ascended, when we have walked in the Light of God, still we have needed that the blood of Christ should cleanse us from all sin. Our natural corruption and the imperfection and infirmity of our flesh are still about us. And these bring us down at times till we say with David, “I am this day weak, though anointed king.” What a blessing it is that failing, flagging, fainting, falling spirits, by waiting upon the Lord, shall renew their strength! Even those who actually fall shall be recovered. “Though he falls, he shall not be utterly cast down: for the Lord holds him up with His hands.” Though our sands run very low, God shall fill the glass, again, and the believing man shall again rejoice in the Lord and have confidence in the God of His salvation!
Because we are human and imperfect, we cannot always be at our best. The sky is not always clear; the sea is not always at flood; the year is not always at summer; the sun is not always in the zenith; the moon is not always at her fullest; the tree is not always adorned with fruit; the vineyard does not always flow with wine; roses do not always blush, nor lilies always bloom! Creatures have their rises and their falls and to us, also, there must be times when we need to renew our strength–and we shall renew it, for here the promise comes–“They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength.”
Brothers and Sisters, I will suppose that I am addressing some who have become weak and failing. You must renew your strength. It must be renewed, for otherwise it will decline, still further, and this would be painful, dangerous and dishonoring. The Lord would not have us utterly fail, nor fall prone upon the ground in the heavenly race. Therefore, to those who have no might, He increases strength. We must renew our strength, for it is for our honor, comfort and safety. It is not to a Christian’s credit that he should be weak. The glory of a man is his strength and especially is his spiritual strength his honor. It is not for your comfort to be weak. When a man is feeble, he becomes a burden to himself–his sadness makes him stoop–he is feeble-minded and ready to halt. “A wounded spirit who can bear?”
It is not for your usefulness that you should be weak. What can you do for others when you, yourself, can hardly stand? It is not for your safety that you should be weak, for you will be liable to many attacks and open to many injuries from sin and extremely likely to be overcome by temptation. Blessed is that man who is “strong in the Lord, and in the power of His might.” To him the joy of the Lord is his strength. The Lord Jehovah is his strength and his song! He also has become his salvation. It is for God’s Glory and for our own usefulness that we should be strong–and if we fall into decline and weakness, pray do not let us stop there. Let us try to escape from a spiritual consumption.
If I address Believers who lament that the whole Church with which they are connected is getting weak, I charge them not to suffer it to be so with themselves! Brothers and Sisters, shun a spiritual wasting away! A pining sickness is an awful disease for a Church to die of. Do not linger in such a state. Up with you and cry mightily unto the Lord–and you shall yet be restored, for it is written–“They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength.” At this time I should be very glad if this dear Church, over which the Holy Spirit has made me an overseer, would have its strength renewed. Our ministry needs renewal that it may be more full of power and Grace. How weak it is if God is even a little withdrawn!
Our Sunday school work requires constant renewal. Everything around us needs to be renewed, revived and refreshed! And just at this time I wish that it might be laid on the hearts of the members of the Church to pray that we might renew our strength. Your minister grows old–not very old in natural age, it is true–but 30 years of continuous labor in preaching to so vast a congregation has taken much more out of his strength than almost any other form of service would have done. And therefore he needs to be invigorated again–physically, mentally and spiritually. Many of you are in the same condition and need that your strength be renewed like the eagle’s. This can be done for us all by that great Master, in whose hand the residue of the Spirit abides! He can lay His hands on us and say, “Be strong. Fear not!”
He can strengthen us to a degree of force far beyond our previous experience! The members of the Church and the officers of the Church all desire, I know, that they should renew their strength just now–it is well that such a desire is on them. May this desire for renewal become an insatiable craving with those of you who live near to God and have power in prayer–then through your importunate intercessions the Lord may make good His promise that this waiting congregation may renew its strength! After 30 years of unflagging prosperity we are as weak as ever “apart from God, and need constant renewal of strength.” I see many reasons why it is imperative that we should have it at this present time. Join, I pray you, in fervent prayer for it! It is promised and, therefore, if we do not have it, it is our own fault.
God’s promises are our precepts! What He promises to give, it is our duty to seek! And if He promises that we shall renew our strength, why not let us have the promise fulfilled to our faith? I wish that it might come to pass that my dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ here–men and women who are working for Him and are a little weary and faint–may be encouraged, cheered, refreshed and led to say, “From this time on we will serve our Lord with all our youthful vigor, and with a great deal more. We will labor in the service of the Lord our God with all our might, not slackening our right hand nor withholding the fullness of our strength but giving our all to God.”
O blessed Spirit, awaken Your children to renewed consecration, renewed zeal, renewed delight in holy service and renewed hope of victory!
III. So I close with the third point, which is this–HOW ARE WE TO RENEW OUR STRENGTH? If we are God’s people, we must renew our strength by continually waiting upon God. When a man needs his bodily strength renewed, his purpose may be effected by eating a good meal. He has grown empty through hunger and there is nothing in him. He must be filled up with substantial nourishment and then the human engine will generate fresh force. Oh, you who are weak in spirit, come and feed upon Christ! They that wait upon the Lord in that way, by feeding upon the body and blood of Christ, shall find Him to be meat, indeed, and drink indeed, and so they shall renew their strength!
Sometimes a man may renew his strength by taking a little rest. He has grown weak through stern labor and long fatigue and he must be quiet and repose till he recovers. Oh, you weary, heavy-laden, where is there rest for you except in the Christ of God? Oh, come to God and rest in Him and wait patiently for Him! Then shall your peace be as a river and then shall your strength be restored right speedily. We have known strength to be restored by a bath. A weary one has plunged himself into cool water and he has risen quite another man. Oh, for a Baptism into the Spirit of God! Oh, to plunge into the Godhead’s deepest sea–to throw one’s self into the might and majesty of God–to swim in love, borne up by Grace!
We have known men’s strength renewed by breathing their native air. They have risen out of a hot atmosphere into the cool breeze of the mountainside and the bracing breeze has made them strong again. Oh, to have the breath of the Spirit blowing upon us once again! By Him we were born; by Him we were quickened; by Him we have been revived from former faintness and it is by breathing His Divine life that we shall be filled with life again! Oh, that at this moment we might each one feel the power of the Lord entering into us! In a word, if a Church needs reviving; if saints individually need reviving, they must wait upon God! First in prayer. Oh, what a blessing a day’s prayer might be! When Archbishop Leighton used to go into his room, his servant said that he would remain there for two or three hours, having locked the door and having nothing with him but his Bible and a candle. Yes, then he came out to speak those gracious words which still linger in his works like the echoes of music. His Bible and candle were the only earthly illumination that he needed, for prayer brought him Divine Light!
Get with God, Brothers and Sisters! Be much with God! I am sure that we, none of us, are alone enough with God. But in prayer, laying hold upon the Invisible, we shall win strength for service. Add to that a re-dedication of ourselves to the Lord who bought us. This often helps us to renew our strength. Go over, again, that blessed covenant which has made you one of the covenanted ones with God. You gave yourself years ago wholly up to your Lord and you sometimes sing–
“High Heaven that heard that solemn vow,
That vow renewed shall daily hear.”
Let this day hear the renewal of it–let your covenant be solemnly rehearsed. Consecrate yourself anew to God. Then realize, afresh, your entire dependence upon God. Put yourself into the Lord’s hands whole-heartedly. Be like the sere leaf that is carried by the breath of the storm.
When you have submitted yourself completely and trusted entirely, setting both your strength and your weakness on one side and giving yourself up for God to use you, oh, then you shall renew your strength! Then go forward to renewed action! In renewing your strength, ask the Lord that you may undertake fresh work and that this work may be done to a nobler tune–that you may have more expectancy, more confidence, more faith, more God-reliance. What things are done by men in common life with self-reliance! But with God-reliance we work impossibilities and miracles fly from us like sparks from the anvil of a smith! When a man learns to work with God’s strength and with that, alone, he can do all things. So would I stir my Brothers and Sisters up, one by one, and then as a body, to work for God with renewed energy.
I am almost done. I know that there are some here to whom this appears to have very slight reference. Yet if you are an unconverted man, my dear Friend, after all, this is a lesson for you, for the pith of it all is that if ever you are to be saved you must get away from yourself into God–and your confidence must be in Christ, the Son of God, and not in your own strength. One of my greatest delights is to see how our people die. I have never, for years, visited the deathbed of a single member of this Church in which I have seen a shade of doubt, or the least suspicion as to their triumphant entrance into the Kingdom of God! I have been somewhat astonished to find it always so. I just now sat by the bedside of one of our Brothers who is melting away with consumption–and it was sad to see his wife lying by his side almost equally ill.
When I spoke with him who was so soon to be with God, he said, “As for my faith, dear Sir, it never wavers in the least degree. I have my times of depression of spirit, but I take no notice of that. You have told us not to look to feelings, but simply to trust in the Infallible Word of a faithful God. Fifteen years ago, Sir,” he said, “one Thursday night I dropped into the Tabernacle to hear you preach and, blessed be the day, I looked to Christ and found salvation! I have had plenty of ups and downs, but Jesus has never left me nor forsaken me, and I am not going to think that He will do so now. His Word stands fast forever. My strength is in my God.” He added, “I am not resting upon man in any degree or measure, but wholly upon the faithful promise of God and the precious blood of Christ.”
I wished that I could get into his place and not come here tonight, but just slip off to Heaven as he is doing! It makes one sure of the Gospel when you see men dying so. It gives me courage to come and tell it out, again, to men and women. The Gospel which I preach to you is good to live upon and good to die upon! If you will but trust my Lord, you shall find it a blessed thing to depart out of this world and be forever with the Lord! Death shall lose every air of dread–every ghastly gloom shall be taken from it! It shall be but undressing to go to bed, that you may wake up in the morning in royal robes as a courtier of the King of kings!
Only you must have done with yourself, and commit yourself to Christ! Say today, in life, what you will need to say when you come to die–“Father, into Your hands I commit my spirit.” That is a Gospel prayer! If you are waiting upon the Lord in the sense of complete reliance upon the merit of Jesus, you shall, in dying, renew your strength and leap out of your frail body into the Presence and Glory of God! In due time, also, you shall re-assume your body–but it shall be made like unto Christ’s glorious body–and in its resurrection you shall emphatically renew your strength!
Blessed be His name that He has taught many of us to wait upon the Lord! May He teach you all to do so, for Christ’s sake. Amen.