Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,
says Yahweh of Hosts. Zechariah 4:6
Lift up your heads, O gates, and be lifted up, O ancient doors,
That the King of Glory may come in! Who is this King of Glory?
Yahweh of Hosts: He is the King of Glory. Psalm 24:9-10
"I made haste, and did not delay to keep your commandments."
A superficial conviction brings with it a sense of duty but not the compelling force needed to move us. Men stand around reasoning and doubting instead of making haste. But a sound conviction sweeps away all excuses and delays. No time will be lost between the making and performing of resolutions. Indeed, in a matter of life and death -- of eternal life and eternal death -- the call is too clear for debate, and there is no room for delay. Many a precious soul has been lost by waiting for "a more convenient season." But it is a time that will probably never arrive; and the willful neglect of present opportunity provokes God to put it far away. Today is God's time. Waiting until tomorrow ruins thousands. Tomorrow is another world. "Today if you will hear his voice," make haste and do not delay.
Resolutions however sincere, and convictions however serious, will pass away as the morning cloud and as the early dew, unless they are carefully cherished and instantly improved. The bonds of iniquity will soon prove too strong for the bonds of our own resolutions. If conviction is left to chance to grow, it will in the first hour of temptation prove as powerless as the seven fresh bowstrings used to bind the strong man Samson. If ever delays are dangerous, much more are they when eternity is involved. Therefore, when convictions begin to work, instantly yield to their influence. When any worldly or sinful desire is brought to light, let this be the moment for its crucifixion. When any affection is kindled towards the Savior, give immediate expression to its voice. When any grace is reviving, let it be called forth into instant duty. This is the best -- the only -- expedient to fix and detain the motion of the Spirit now striving in the heart. And who knows but that the improvement of this present advantage may be the moment of victory over difficulties thus far found insuperable, and may open the path to heaven with less struggling and more steady progress.
Why is it that convictions ebb and flow so long before they settle in a sound conversion? Because we are remiss in responding to them quickly. It is indeed the instant movement -- making haste and delaying not -- that marks the principle of the spiritual life. No sooner was the prodigal's resolution formed than it was put into action. He said, "I will arise and go to my father." Then "he arose and came to his father." When Matthew heard the voice call "Follow me," we read that "he left all, rose up and followed him." When Jesus called to Zaccheus, "Make haste and come down, for today I must stay at your house," he "made haste, and came down, and received him joyfully."
If you hold dear a hope for eternity, if you wish to flee from the coming wrath, then beware of smothering early convictions. They may prove the first dawn of eternal day upon your soul, the first visit of the quickening Spirit to the heart. Guard them with unceasing watchfulness, nourish them with believing prayer, exercise them unto practical godliness. Above all, do not quench the Spirit nor let the spark be extinguished by the enticement of the world. Do not let it die out for lack of the fuel of grace. Do not let it lie dormant or inactive. Rather, "Stir up the gift of God which is in you." You will find that every exercise and every motion will add grace to grace, increasing its vigor, health, and fruitfulness. The more we do, the more we find we can do. The withered hand, whenever stretched forth in obedience to the Savior's word and in dependence on his grace, will never fail to be supplied with spiritual strength. Each successive act strengthens the inclination until it is transformed into a willing and active habit of godliness.
Professor! If you were conscious of eternity, would you hover as you do between heaven and hell? No, indeed. If you were truly alive and awake there would be no motion of yours swift enough to satisfy your desire to flee from the coming wrath and to lay hold on Jesus Christ. If ever God should touch your heart to feel the heavenly sweetness of communion with him, will you not regret that you did not seek and enjoy the privilege sooner? Will you not say, "Had I only taken a hearty interest in the ways of God earlier, how much more knowledge, experience, and comfort should I have attained, how much more honor should I have brought to God, and how much more profit to my fellow-sinners!" Remember, every day of carnal pleasure or lukewarm formality is a day lost to God, to your own happiness, and to eternity.
A word now to the believer. Have you any doubts to clear up, any peace to regain in the ways of the Lord? Make haste to set your heart to the work. Make haste to the blood of atonement. Be on the alert to hear the Shepherd's voice, even if it be the voice of reproof. Promptness is a most important exercise in the habit of faith, and delay will only bring a sense of guilt. Do not let the blessing of conviction, the comforting sense of acceptance, and the freedom of the Lord's service be sacrificed to sloth and procrastination. The work that is hard today will be harder still tomorrow by the resistance of this day's convictions. The result of delay will be a greater cost of self-denial, a heavier burden of sorrow, and an increasing unfitness for the service of God. Therefore, be constantly looking for some beam of light to descend and some influence of grace to flow upon you from your exalted Head. A simple and vigorous faith will quickly enliven you with love, delight, rejoicing in the Lord, readiness to work, and cheerfulness to suffer, which will once again make the ways of God pleasantness and peace to your soul.
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