The LORD says, "I will restore what you lost to the stripping locusts, the cutting locusts, the swarming locusts, and the hopping locusts. It was I who sent this great destroying army against you!" Joel 2:25
It is God who says, "I will restore." Only the divine hand can do it. Christ is the restorer, for he has made atonement for us.
Wherever there is a Christian who is hurt by sin or sorrow—the face of the Christ on the cross, beams on it with healing in its beams. "By his stripes—we are healed." By his wounding—our wounds are cured. His visage was marred—that the marring of sin in our faces might be changed to beauty. By his sorrows—our sorrows are comforted.
"Then he said, "Take the arrows," and the king took them. Elisha told him, "Strike the ground." He struck it three times and stopped. The man of God was angry with him and said, "You should have struck the ground five or six times; then you would have defeated Aram and completely destroyed it. But now you will defeat it only three times." 2 Kings 13:18-19
Character comes out in little things. It seemed a small matter, there in the prophet's dying chamber, whether the king shot three arrows or six—yet the future successes of his army depended on it. Unconsciously, he was undergoing a critical test. His lack of energy in shooting the arrows, betrayed a fatal weakness of character. And when the test was over the measure of his success in life was unalterably fixed. No doubt he would have given large sums for a repetition of the testing, now that, he knew what depended on it; but it was too late.
Every life is full of just such testing. Destinies are forever turning on events too trivial for record. Our characters are ever being put to proof in the smallest things, and the result settles important matters for our future. He who improves his one talent, receives more. He who is faithful in things that are least, is entrusted with greater things. On the other hand, unfaithfulness in the smallest things, is forever keeping men out of greater trusts. The picking up of a pin in a merchant's office, has made a great destiny for a boy. There is not a lad who may not make or unmake his fortune any day, by some unconscious acts.
God also is continually putting us to the test to see how we do this or that little thing; and he determines thereby whether or not he can entrust great things to us.
"He has put a new song in my mouth!" Psalm 40:3
The ancient statue of Memnon was fabled to become musical, when the sun rose, and the beams of morning light fell upon it. Just so, when the light of the gospel falls upon a darkened heart, it begins to sing. No wonder salvation gives joy! Only think of what we are saved from—the horrible pit of sin; and of what we are saved to—childship in God's family. Can we but rejoice if we realize our full deliverance?
Every Christian should be a singer. If we cannot acquire the vocal art, we should at least sing and make melody in our heart unto the Lord. God wants to put a song into the mouth of every child of his. Our song should be one that nothing can check. Paul sang in prison with his feet fast in the stocks, and his back gashed with stripes. No trouble or pain should have power to hush the song in a Christian's heart.
Then, our lives themselves should be songs. We cannot all be poets, to write glad hymns of praise for others to sing; or singers, to thrill hearts by the sweetness of our voice; but we can live hymns and songs, and that is just as pleasing to God!
"For seven days they celebrated with joy the Feast of Unleavened Bread, because the LORD had filled them with joy." Ezra 6:21-22
The Lord is always doing things to make us joyful, if only we will accept the love he sends us in them and rejoice. Christian life ought to be one of joy. Christ said he wished his disciples to have his joy in them and wished their joy to be full. There are a great many reasons why we should be joyous Christians. The greatest is that we are saved from sin and are in God's family. Our privileges, blessings, and hopes—are enough to fill our hearts with gladness.
We ought to show our joy in gratitude. Some people take all God gives them, accept all he does for them, and yet go through life grumbling and complaining all the time! Every little trial or care counts for more with them, than all the multitude of God's goodness. There is never any sunshine in their faces, for they can always find something that is not satisfactory, to make a cloud of, and to give them excuse for being unhappy. This is a poor, miserable way to live. These people are neither joyful themselves, nor do they help to make the world brighter. We ought to be ashamed to live so unworthily and unbeautifully. God wants us to be burning and shining lights, and to scatter happiness and good cheer wherever we go. Instead of being croakers, he wants us to be sweet singers. It is a sin not to live cheerfully!
"Praise be to the Lord! Not one word has failed, of all the wonderful promises He gave!" 1 Kings 8:56
It is nearly three thousand years since Solomon uttered this testimony; but we can say now, just as confidently as the king did that day, that in all these centuries since not one word of all God's good promise has failed any one of his people. No one has ever trusted a promise of God—and had that word fail of fulfillment.
The most real and sure things in this world—are the words of God. In every one of them, God's own almighty hand is gloved. We clutch them—and find ourselves clutched in turn by divinity, out of whose clasp we never can fall, nor be torn away. We lean upon these words—and find ourselves encircled and upborne by the everlasting arms. We pillow our head in weariness or sorrow upon God's words of love and comfort—and find ourselves drawn close to our Father's heart, held in his warm bosom, and soothed by his tenderness, which is gentler than a mother's.
So, all through life, in every experience, we may trust the promises of God, and commit all our interests to them, and be assured in our heart that not one of them will ever fail us. We may trust them, too, in death, and we shall find everything just as God has said: the divine presence with us in the valley, dying but a going to be at home, absent from the body at home with the Lord, in eternal blessedness. Not one Word of God can fail.
"This became a great sin!" 1 Kings 12:30
The king's plan was successful. The people did not go back to the temple at Jerusalem—but bowed down before the calves. The separation was thus made complete. Not only so—but the false leading of the king, turned the ten tribes into a path that took them farther and farther away from God.
Twenty times the Scripture records that "Jeroboam made Israel to sin." The name of Jeroboam is held up to execration through all the after history—as a man who made others sin!
Sin grows from small beginnings—until it attains giant proportions. The man who starts an error, knows not what moral ruin will come from it. To teach one child falsely, may be to blight thousands of lives. Those who begin new enterprises set in motion streams of influence, good or bad, which may continue to flow forever. Jeroboam gave character to this new kingdom, and all the nineteen kings who followed him walked in his wicked steps.
There is a story of an abbot who coveted a piece of ground. The owner consented to lease it to the abbot for one crop only. The abbot sowed acorns, a crop which took three hundred years to ripen. Jeroboam's one sowing of sin, burdened the new kingdom with evil through all its history. Satan begs for one crop only, and then sows seeds whose harvest will fill all the life to the end. We do not know what we are doing—when we start a wrong thing.
"Whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a well of water welling up to eternal life!" John 4:14
If you are a true believer in Christ, your new life will become a spring of water in you. Wherever you go, into the driest desert, into the hottest plain, far away from the means of grace and from spiritual privileges, into the dark paths of sorrow—your life shall not waste nor fail, for its fountain is within you. It is not fed from without, nor is it dependent upon ordinances and 'means of grace' as sources of nourishment along the way. The fountain of your life, your comfort, your joy, your strength—is fed from the mountains of heaven, from the fullness of Christ; hence it can never waste. Thus, from this well of water in the heart of the Christian, flows out a perpetual stream of life, with blessing for the world.
If you can be only a little spring, with but water enough to fill a pilgrim's cup, do not be discouraged; be the sweet blessing that you can be, and thank God for the privilege. Yet Jesus says that "rivers of living water" shall flow from this well in him who believes—not a mere trickling rill—but large rivers, to bless a whole community. We should not be satisfied with any small measure of usefulness. We should seek to bear much fruit. We should always abound in the work of the Lord. We should seek to be the largest blessing we can be.