The Christian Shepherd: 2001

Table of Contents

1. "A Lamb for a House"
2. Acting in Faith
3. Alone With Leprosy
4. Answers to Last Month's Bible Challenger: 2000 - (l)
5. Answers to Last Month's Bible Challenger: 2001 - (a)
6. Answers to Last Month's Bible Challenger: 2001 - (b)
7. Answers to Last Month's Bible Challenger: 2001 - (c)
8. Answers to Last Month's Bible Challenger: 2001 - (d)
9. Answers to Last Month's Bible Challenger: 2001 - (e)
10. Answers to Last Month's Bible Challenger: 2001 - (f)
11. Answers to Last Month's Bible Challenger: 2001 - (g)
12. Answers to Last Month's Bible Challenger: 2001 - (h)
13. Answers to Last Month's Bible Challenger: 2001 - (i)
14. Answers to Last Month's Bible Challenger: 2001 - (j)
15. Answers to Last Month's Bible Challenger: 2001 - (k)
16. Attraction to Christ
17. Beginning the Song Now
18. Believing God's Word
19. Bible Challenger: 2001 - (a)
20. Bible Challenger: 2001 - (b)
21. Bible Challenger: 2001 - (c)
22. Bible Challenger: 2001 - (d)
23. Bible Challenger: 2001 - (e)
24. Bible Challenger: 2001 - (f)
25. Bible Challenger: 2001 - (g)
26. Bible Challenger: 2001 - (h)
27. Bible Challenger: 2001 - (i)
28. Bible Challenger: 2001 - (j)
29. Bible Challenger: 2001 - (k)
30. Bible Challenger: 2001 - (l)
31. Breaking the Vase of Clay
32. Christ - The Preeminent One
33. Christ's Yesterday
34. Come!
35. Communion and Confidence
36. Devotedness
37. The Dignity of His Person
38. Discouraging or Stilling?
39. Do It
40. "Do It Heartily"
41. Does God Forget Sins?
42. Ed. Note
43. Editorial: Appearances
44. Editorial: Boxed-in or Secure?
45. Editorial: "Eat Slowly and Enjoy Your Food"
46. Editorial: "Give Me to Drink"
47. Editorial: "Know Any Christian Apple Packers?"
48. Editorial: "Let Not Your Heart Be Troubled"
49. Editorial: "No Tolerance"
50. Editorial: Questions
51. Editorial: "See That Ye Fall Not Out by the Way"
52. Editorial: "Take the Young Child"
53. Editorial: The Father's Delight
54. Editorial: "You Bet I Do!"
55. Extract
56. Extract
57. "Feed the Flock": "Do It Heartily"
58. "Feed the Flock": "Doing Good"
59. "Feed the Flock": "Gypsies Can't Be Saved!"
60. "Feed the Flock": His Way in the Storm (Nahum 1:3)
61. "Feed the Flock": Irreparable Damage
62. "Feed the Flock": It Works!
63. "Feed the Flock": "Something to Make Me Happy"
64. "Feed the Flock": Tears of Disappointment and Gratitude
65. "Feed the Flock": The Kitten and the Bucket
66. "Feed the Flock": The Reluctant Prisoner
67. "Feed the Flock": The Slingshot, the Duck and the Slave
68. "Feed the Flock": The Unremembered Soldier
69. Fellowship With Jesus
70. First Love
71. A Foretaste of Heaven
72. Forsaken
73. Fragment
74. Fragment
75. Fragment
76. Fragment
77. Fragment
78. Fragment
79. Fragment
80. Fragment
81. Fragment
82. Fragment
83. Fragment
84. Fragment
85. Fragment
86. Fragment
87. Fragment
88. Fragment
89. Fragment
90. Fragment
91. Fragment
92. Fragment
93. Fragment
94. Fragment
95. Fragment
96. Fragment
97. Fragment
98. Fragment
99. Fragment
100. Fragment
101. Fragment
102. Fragment
103. Fragment
104. Fragment
105. Fragment
106. Fragment
107. Fragments
108. A Fresh Taste of Christ
109. Frightening Thought
110. "Gathering up the Fragments"
111. "Gathering up the Fragments"
112. "Gathering up the Fragments": Light Bearers in a Dark World
113. Giving Up Self
114. The Glorified Man
115. Great Spoil
116. He Is Everything to Me
117. Hearing Him - Morning by Morning
118. Himusi
119. His Blood - My Walk
120. His Own Supper
121. The Holy Scriptures
122. The Holy Scriptures
123. The Holy Scriptures
124. The Hope
125. I'd Rather Have Christ
126. "Jesus Only"
127. The Judgment Seat of Christ
128. Just to Be Happy in Jesus
129. Keep Climbing
130. "Keep Thyself Pure"
131. The Last Fortress
132. "Laying on of Hands"
133. The Little Ones
134. "Looking Upon Jesus As He Walked": Luke 11:21-30
135. "Looking Upon Jesus as He Walked": Luke 11:31-54
136. "Looking Upon Jesus As He Walked": Luke 12
137. "Looking Upon Jesus As He Walked": Luke 18:15-43
138. "Looking Upon Jesus As He Walked": Luke 20:21-26
139. "Looking Upon Jesus As He Walked": Luke 22:39-53
140. "Looking Upon Jesus As He Walked": Luke 22:54-71
141. "Looking Upon Jesus As He Walked": Luke 23
142. "Looking Upon Jesus As He Walked": Luke 24
143. The Lord's Strength
144. Love Can't Wait
145. A Loving Word to Parents
146. Man and God
147. "Master, Where Dwellest Thou?"
148. Meditation on the Church
149. Meditations on Musical Worship
150. Meditations on the Lord's Garments
151. Meditations on the Lord's Prayer
152. Musings on "Free-Will"
153. My Little Boy's Bible
154. My Neighbor's Bible
155. My Pain - Worth My Eternal Gain
156. "Occupy Till I Come"
157. On Prayer - 4 Nails - 4 Principles - 1 Shepherd
158. On Praying and the Prayer Meeting
159. "One Sacrifice for Sins"
160. Our High Priest
161. Partaking of the Lord's Supper Worthily
162. Practical Hints on the Prayer Meeting
163. Practical Reflections on Acts - 11:1-17
164. Practical Reflections on Acts - 11:18-28
165. Practical Reflections on Acts - 11:29-12:12
166. Practical Reflections on Acts - 13:13-26
167. Practical Reflections on Acts - 13:27-39
168. Practical Reflections on Acts - 9:32-10:4
169. Practical Reflections on Acts: Acts 10:28-48
170. Practical Reflections on Acts: Acts 10:5-27
171. Practical Reflections on Acts: Acts 12:13-13:1
172. Practical Reflections on Acts: Acts 13:2-12
173. Practical Reflections on Acts: Acts 8:36-9:14
174. Practical Reflections on Acts: Acts 9:15-31
175. A Question About the "Reproach of Egypt"
176. A Question on Worship
177. Remembering "the Way": A Farmer Remembers Africa and Italy
178. Remembering "the Way": A German Soldier Remembers
179. Remembering "the Way": A Medic Remembers Europe
180. Remembering "the Way": A Merchant Marine Sailor Remembers
181. Remembering "the Way": A Royal Canadian Army Medic Remembers
182. Remembering "the Way": A Sailor Remembers Pearl Harbor
183. Remembering "the Way": Memories From Holand - A Sailor Remembers - A Machinist Remembers
184. Remembering "the Way": Memories From the Other Side
185. Remembering "the Way": Memories From the "Other Side" (Continued)
186. Remembering "the Way": One of Seven Brothers Remembers
187. "Rivers of Living Water"
188. Sacrifices - Acceptable and Unacceptable
189. The School of God
190. The Shepherd's Joy
191. The Standard and Source of Truth
192. Strength and Courage
193. Studying Scripture
194. Submission and Rest
195. A "Thanksgiving" Poem
196. Thoughts on Being a Father
197. Thoughts on Depression
198. Thoughts on Feet-Washing
199. Thoughts on Hebrews 4
200. Thoughts on Marriage Relationships
201. Thoughts on Raising Children
202. Thoughts on Sanctification
203. Thoughts on the "Camp" and the "House"
204. Thoughts on the New Cart
205. Thoughts on the Woman's Place
206. Thoughts on Worship
207. "Understanding of the Times"
208. The Unity of the Spirit
209. Walking With God
210. "We Have Seen the Lord"
211. "What Saith the Scripture?"
212. Which Inn?
213. A Word on "Born Again"
214. A Word on Prayer
215. A Word to Children
216. A Word to Fathers
217. A Word to Young Men
218. The Young Christian

"A Lamb for a House"

“If the household be too little for the lamb, let him and his neighbor next unto his house take it according to the number of the souls; every man according to his eating shall make your count for the lamb” (Ex. 12:4).
A man’s first responsibility was to his own family in providing a passover lamb—to his own household. He was not to share the lamb with others unless he had first shared it with his own family.
Dear fathers and mothers, you may be very much concerned that your children have nice clothes to wear, that they have a good education, that they’re well fed and that they have proper medical care. All these things are right, but oh! never forget that your first responsibility to your dear children is the welfare of their souls.
It is their souls that are going to live forever, and your first responsibility, dear parents, is to speak to them about God’s Lamb. Are you speaking often to your own children about the Lord Jesus, God’s Lamb? Do you speak His blessed name often in their ears? Oh! be sure that they are under the shelter of the blood and that they are feeding upon Christ. The household was to feed on the lamb before it was shared with a neighbor.
No doubt the little ones didn’t eat as much as the grown-ups could eat. Sometimes when we have a family Bible reading—a time when we are feeding on the Lamb—we might talk in such a way that the children don’t understand at all what we are saying.
Each “according to his eating.” We see here that thought was to be given as to how old each one in the household was and what they were capable of eating—what they needed according to their age. Some needed less, some needed more. So we read in Hebrews 5:14, “Strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age.”
It’s nice when parents talk to their children and try to make the truths of God’s precious Word simple and understandable for them. Let us never forget that even little boys and girls can know and love the Lord Jesus as Saviour and, too, can enjoy what He has done for them on the cross.
“With many such parables spake He the word unto them, as they were able to hear” (Mark 4:33).
“They  .  .  .  so spake, that a great multitude .  .  . believed” (Acts 14:1).
“Suffer the little children to come unto Me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God” (Mark 10:14).
G. H. Hayhoe (adapted)

Acting in Faith

Esther 8:4-12
4. “Then the king held out the golden scepter toward Esther.” King Ahasuerus again assures Esther of his delight in her and of her place of favor in his presence (see chapter 5:2).
Those redeemed with the precious blood of Christ stand before One infinitely greater than Ahasuerus. There each finds the golden scepter of divine love and eternal acceptance held out to them.
4, 6. “So Esther arose, and stood before the king, and said  .  .  .  how can I endure to see the evil  .  .  .  or how can I endure to see the destruction of my kindred?” Assured of her acceptance, Esther pours out her heart for her people before the only one with power and authority to help. Though personally safe, her heart is fully engaged with those still facing destruction from Haman’s wicked scheme.
Let’s go with this same earnestness before “the throne of grace”—assured of our welcome—there to petition for those “out of the way” or under special attack of Satan.
7-8. “Then the king Ahasuerus said  .  .  .  write ye also for the Jews, as it liketh you, in the king’s name, and seal it with the king’s ring: for the writing which is written in the king’s name, and sealed with the king’s ring, may no man reverse.”
Is not this lovely? Esther is assured that her desires will be done according to the king’s authority and majesty. Our Saviour said: “Whatsoever ye shall ask in My name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son” (John 14:13). Here is the divine completion of Ahasuerus’ promise—yet infinitely fuller. He promises each who avail themselves of this resource the power and authority of His name, the assurance of His love, and the pledge of an answer glorifying to the Father.
11. “Wherein the king granted the Jews  .  .  .  to stand for their life  .  .  .  to cause to perish, all the power  .  .  .  that would assault them, both little ones and women.”
How tragic if those previously marked for death, now given hope for life, had received the king’s word but not acted on it! There was a way of escape for the Jews. But if they were to live, they had to stand for their life. Unthinkable that any father—any Jewish man—would refuse to take advantage of the king’s word and defend his family and his people!
Are you concerned for your children or other loved ones, or burdened about difficulties in the assembly? As believers, we have abundant divine, delivering power promised to us (1 John 4:4). But we must not be satisfied to just know that the Lord is ready to “help in time of need.” Faith works. It puts on the “armor of God” and stands “against the wiles of the devil” in an “evil day” (Eph. 6:11,13).
As Satan seeks to destroy believers’ lives, families, marriages— even assemblies—will we, like the Jews in Esther’s day, take action and stand for our lives and “the little ones and women”?

Alone With Leprosy

An evangelist, visiting a leper colony in one of the Caribbean Islands, described meeting the youngest resident of that place. There, on the front porch of a small cottage, sitting alone, staring dejectedly into space with a forlorn look on his face, sat a little eight-year-old boy named George. His arms and legs were wrapped to the elbows and knees in bandages due to the ravages of that dread disease. Not long before this, because of his disease, George had been taken by medical authorities from his father and mother—from the loving security of family and home—and had been placed in the leper colony, evidently never to see them again.
What a solemn picture of dear children, brought up in the bosom of Christian homes—having heard from their earliest years of the love of the Lord Jesus Christ and of a free and full salvation—yet still refusing God’s offer of salvation. How solemn their end, should the Lord Jesus come before they are saved. “Surely I come quickly” (Rev. 22:20). It is to be forever in a lost eternity alone in the blackness of darkness—forever separated from parents who loved them, daily read the Bible to them, and prayed for them—forever separated from God.
Twelve years later, the evangelist again visited that same island. While there, he was allowed to preach the gospel in a small school. As he left, he shook hands with its young headmaster—a happy Christian man named George. The miracle of modern medicine had provided a drug that had cured the dreaded leprosy that years before seemed to have condemned George to a hopeless life in the colony.
Much better still, while confined in the colony, an elderly Christian faithfully preached the gospel to George, and, by the grace of God, he believed and was saved. Oh! may we be faithful in living and preaching the gospel—specially to our own house (Luke 8:39).

Answers to Last Month's Bible Challenger: 2000 - (l)

1. W orship Acts 8:27
2. I dol 1 Kings 15:13
3. S pices 1 Kings 10:10
4. D eliciously Rev. 18:7
5. O btained favor Esther 5:2
6. M y people Esther 7:3
“The queen of the south shall rise up in the judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it: for she came from the uttermost parts of the earth to hear the WISDOM of Solomon; and, behold, a greater than Solomon is here” (Matt. 12:42).

Answers to Last Month's Bible Challenger: 2001 - (a)

1. J oyous Isa. 32:13-14
2. A ll other places Phil. 1:13
3. C orner stones Psa. 144:11-12
4. I n peace Luke 11:21
5. N ehemiah Neh. 1:12; 2:7-8
6. T ibni 1 Kings 16:21-22
7. H ewed 1 Kings 7:9-12
“The foundations of the wall of the city were garnished with all manner of precious stones. The first foundation was jasper; the second, sapphire; the third, a chalcedony; the fourth, an emerald; the fifth, sardonyx; the sixth, sardius; the seventh, chrysolyte; the eight, beryl; the ninth, a topaz; the tenth, a chrysoprasus; the eleventh, a JACINTH; the twelfth, an amethyst” (Rev. 21:19-20).

Answers to Last Month's Bible Challenger: 2001 - (b)

1. F athers Prov. 17:6
2. O rnament of grace Prov. 4:79
3. R ighteousness Prov. 16:31
4. S pirit of judgment Isa. 28:16
5. A ngels Heb. 2:9
6. K ing Jer. 13:18
7. E lders 1 Peter 5:14
8. N ot in heart 1 Thess. 2:1720
“The Gentiles shall see thy righteousness, and all kings thy glory: and thou shalt be called by a new name, which the mouth of the Lord shall name. Thou shalt also be a crown of glory in the hand of the Lord, and a royal diadem in the hand of thy God. Thou shalt no more be termed FORSAKEN; neither shall thy land any more be termed Desolate: but thou shalt be called Hephzibah, and thy land Beulah: for the Lord delighteth in thee, and thy land shall be married” (Isa. 62:2-4).

Answers to Last Month's Bible Challenger: 2001 - (c)

1. F ather’s sheep 1 Sam. 17:34-35
2. A ngel Dan. 6:22
3. I was delivered 2 Tim. 4:17
4. T wo legs Amos 3:12
5. H orns of the unicorns Psa. 22:21
“Who through FAITH subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions” (Heb. 11:33).

Answers to Last Month's Bible Challenger: 2001 - (d)

1. T ruth 2 John 2
2. A nother Comforter John 14:16-17
3. B urned 1 Cor. 3:15-16
4. E unice 2 Tim. 1:5
5. R ichly in all wisdom Col. 3:16
6. N o good thing Rom. 7:18
7. A ngel of the church in Pergamos Rev. 2:12
8. C hrist Eph. 3:17
9. L ove of God 1 John 3:17
10. E ateth My flesh, and drinketh My John 6:56
“I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the TABERNACLE of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself shall be with them, and be their God. And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away” (Rev. 21:34).

Answers to Last Month's Bible Challenger: 2001 - (e)

1. F inished John 17:4
2. A s Thou hast loved Me John 17:23
3. T hat they may be one John 17:22
4. H ated them John 17:14
5. E ternal life John 17:2
6. R eceived them John 17:8
“These words spake Jesus, and lifted up His eyes to heaven, and said, FATHER  .  .  .  now they have known that all things whatsoever Thou hast given Me are of Thee” (John 17:1,7).

Answers to Last Month's Bible Challenger: 2001 - (f)

1. T o shivers Rev. 2:26-27
2. R eceive his sight Acts 9:12,15
3. E ndured with much longsuffering Rom. 9:22
4. A s seemed good to the potter Jer. 18:4
5. S anctification and honor 1 Thess. 4:4
6. U nto dishonor Rom. 9:21
7. R iches of His glory Rom. 9:23
8. E very good work 2 Tim. 2:21
“God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. But we have this TREASURE in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us” (2 Cor. 4:6-7).
J. Short
“Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved” (Acts 16:31).

Answers to Last Month's Bible Challenger: 2001 - (g)

1. P artakers of Christ’s sufferings 1 Peter 4:12-13
2. A ffliction 2 Cor. 8:2
3. T hrough faith Heb. 11:39
4. I have overcome the world John 16:33
5. E xceeding joyful 2 Cor. 7:45
6. N ow for a season 1 Peter 1:36
7. C onquerors Rom. 8:35-39
8. E nter into the kingdom of God Acts 14:22
“We glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh PATIENCE” (Rom. 5:3).
Grace and truth came by Jesus Christ—but grace comes first.
Spiritual Gems for the Path of Faith

Answers to Last Month's Bible Challenger: 2001 - (h)

1. H ouse of merchandise John 2:16
2. A bated Gen. 8:11
3. R est Psa. 55:6
4. M ourning Eze. 7:16
5. L et me see thy countenance, Song of Sol. 2:14
let me hear thy voice
6. E yes Song of Sol. 1:15; 4:1; 5:12
7. S illy dove without heart Hos. 7:11
8. S pirit of God Matt. 3:16
“Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and HARMLESS as doves” (Matt. 10:16).

Answers to Last Month's Bible Challenger: 2001 - (i)

1. S hadow of death Isa. 9:2
2. I nheritance of the saints in light Col. 1:1213
3. N ight Rom. 13:12
4. G entiles Acts 26:1718
5. L ittle while John 12:35
6. E xcelleth Eccl. 2:13
“The light of the body is the eye: therefore when thine eye is SINGLE, thy whole body also is full of light; but when thine eye is evil, thy body also is full of darkness.  .  .  .  If thy whole body therefore be full of light, having no part dark, the whole shall be full of light, as when the bright shining of a candle doth give thee light” (Luke 11:34,36).

Answers to Last Month's Bible Challenger: 2001 - (j)

1. P ride Ezek. 16:49
2. E lements of the world Gal. 4:35
3. R udiments of the world Col. 2:8
4. F illed Eph. 3:19
5. E arth 1 Cor. 10:26
6. C hrist Eph. 1:10
7. T hy presence Psa. 16:11
“Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a PERFECT man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ: that we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness whereby they lie in wait to deceive” (Eph. 4:13-14).

Answers to Last Month's Bible Challenger: 2001 - (k)

1. U nsearchable Rom. 11:33
2. N ame Prov. 22:1
3. C hrist in you Col. 1:27
4. E arth Psa. 104:24
5. R edemption Eph. 1:7
6. T reasures in Egypt Heb. 11:26
7. A ll your need Phil. 4:19
8. I n mercy Eph. 2:46
9. N othing Prov. 13:7
“Charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not high-minded, nor trust in UNCERTAIN riches, but in the living God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy” (1 Tim. 6:17).

Attraction to Christ

Rebecca was drawn to Isaac by love (Gen. 24:58). Abigail was drawn to David by grace (1 Sam. 25:39-40). The queen of Sheba was drawn to Solomon by wisdom (1 Kings 10:1-10).
But a divine Person has captivated our hearts by who and what He is. And though it is but a glimpse we have of Him now, yet our longing hearts yearn, with joyful anticipation, for that moment when we shall gaze with rapture on His lovely face for the ages of eternity (1 Cor. 13:12). On Him our faith rests. “They shall see His face” (Rev. 22:4). “Even so, come, Lord Jesus” (Rev. 22:20).
N. Berry

Beginning the Song Now

When the Lord Jesus reveals Himself and is seen by John as the Lamb, which had been slain yet lives, all of heaven rejoices! The redeemed sing a new song: “Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for Thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by Thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation; and hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign [over] the earth” (Rev. 5:9-10).
Because of the presence of the One who is worthy, heaven itself becomes a place of rejoicing. But it does not begin in heaven. Tomorrow morning (Lord’s Day) I look forward to being assembled together in one place with other believers with the wonderful promise that He is there in the midst. The emblems before us on the table—the bread and the cup—will be reminders to us of His body given for us and of His blood shed for us—the symbols of His love! May it cause our hearts to overflow with praise and worship and adoration even now down here, before He takes us into that heavenly scene.
On earth the song begins;
In heaven more sweet and loud:
“To Him that cleansed our sins
By His atoning blood;
To Him,” we sing in joyful strain,
“Be honor, power and praise. Amen.”
(Little Flock Hymnbook, #80)
D. Martens

Believing God's Word

It is wonderful to see our Lord’s recourse to the Word of God. In Matthew, after He was baptized by John, His Father said, “This is My beloved Son” (ch. 3:17). The devil (or tempter) is soon found saying to Him, “If Thou be the Son of God.” Our Lord replies, “Man shall  .  .  .  live  .  .  .  by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.”
God has declared Him to be His Son. The devil questions Him as to this, and the Lord simply reclines upon those words from His Father, “This is My beloved Son.”
He, of course, knew who He was, but now as a man, being tested, He simply rests upon the Word of His Father. To allow a questioning of His person now was to question the wonderful declaration of the Father. The Father’s word was enough—no need to prove it. God had said it. To seek by means of other evidence would be to put a slight upon the Word of God at this time, and He had no word from His Father to do so.
How we need to do this too. Sometimes the tempter, in the form of accuser, comes to us questioning our relationship with our God and Father. Oh! to simply accept what our Father has told us in His Word as to the relationships His grace has brought us into! We can trust the Word of God, even when outward circumstances of life may cause us to doubt. We may at times feel the hunger (for us, spiritual hunger) and conclude that if such is the case, we must not be sons of God.
What a disarming effect it has on the tempter’s effort to cause us to doubt, if we can simply say, “I may not feel like a son of God, and it may not yet appear that I am, but He has said, ‘Beloved, now are we the sons of God’ (1 John 3:2).” Oh! the preserving effect of believing His Word in spite of the circumstances of life He may lead us through!
H. Short

Bible Challenger: 2001 - (a)

The first letter of the answers to the following questions forms the answer to this riddle: “If the tenth is chrysoprasus and the twelfth is amethyst, what is the eleventh?” [1] The number in the brackets indicates the number of words in each answer.
1. A word that is used to describe the city that was later to become a place where thorns and briers would come up, where the palaces would be forsaken and the forts and towers would become dens. [1]
2. The case of a bold prisoner was known throughout a palace and beyond. To what extent was the nature of his imprisonment known? [3]
3. When delivered from those who are characterized by vanity and falsehood, the result will be apparent in our children. To what could our daughters be compared? [2]
4. When a strong man is able to defend his palace, this phrase describes his goods. [2]
5. The name of a man who, though in a palace, was concerned for another palace and city, far away in his homeland. [1]
6. One half of Israel followed this man for a short time. His predecessor perished in a burning palace for his sins, after reigning for only one week. [1]
7. A word that describes how the costly stones Solomon used in several houses that he built were formed. [1]
Answers to these questions will be found, Lord willing, in the next issue of Christian Shepherd.
J. Short

Bible Challenger: 2001 - (b)

The first letters of the following responses form a term that will no longer apply to God’s people when they are given a new name and become a crown of glory and a royal diadem in the hand of their God. [1] The number in brackets indicates the number of words in each answer.
1. If grandchildren are the crown of old men, who are the glory of children? [1]
2. When given the proper place in our priorities, what will wisdom and understanding give to our head in connection with a crown of glory? [3]
3. A hoary or gray head is a crown of glory if the one who wears it also is found in this way. [1]
4. In order for the Lord of hosts to be displayed as a crown of glory and a diadem of beauty, the crown of pride must be cast down. In what character will the Lord show Himself to one who sits as a judge in that day? [3]
5. The one who once tasted death for every man is now crowned with glory and honor. What was He made lower than for the suffering of death? [1]
6. Who was addressed (along with the queen) with an exhortation to humble themselves, since the crown of their glory was to come down? [1]
7. To whom will the Chief Shepherd present a crown of glory for willingly leading and feeding His flock? [1]
8. How did Paul describe his separation in presence from the believers who were his hope, joy, crown of rejoicing and glory? [3]

Bible Challenger: 2001 - (c)

The first letter of the following responses answers the question, “What does it take to stop the mouths of lions?” [1] The number in brackets indicates the number of words in each answer.
1. What was a youth keeping when he delivered a lamb from the mouth of a lion? [2]
2. Who was sent to shut the lions’ mouths so they would not hurt a man of prayer? [1]
3. What could a preacher to the Gentiles say of his experience in the mouth of the lion? [3]
4. What might a shepherd remove from the lion’s mouth, besides a piece of an ear, an illustration of judgment to come? [2]
5. From where was one, who described himself as “a worm,” heard when he cried for deliverance from the lion’s mouth? [4]

Bible Challenger: 2001 - (d)

The first letter of each of the following responses forms a word that indicates what God will take up with men in the day that He dwells among His people, wipes away all tears from their eyes, and there is no more death, sorrow, crying or pain. [1] The number in brackets indicates the number of words in each answer.
1. What is spoken of as that which “dwelleth in us, and shall be with us forever”? [1]
2. A gift from the Father, unknown to the world, but known to those with whom He dwells and abides forever. [2]
3. Being the dwelling-place of the Spirit of God, a believer will never perish. However, what may happen to his work, causing him to suffer loss? [1]
4. The name of a mother who had unfeigned faith dwelling within. [1]
5. The manner in which the word of Christ should dwell in us. [4]
6. What can be found dwelling in us, that is our flesh, displayed by our inability to do good? [3]
7. Who was addressed as one who dwelt where Satan’s seat was? [6]
8. What is it, if found dwelling in our hearts by faith, that will enable us to comprehend something of inestimable dimensions and know that which passes knowledge? [1]
9. What should dwell in us that would prevent us from being uncompassionate to a brother, when we have what would supply his need? [3]
10. Jesus said that one who does this “dwelleth in Me, and I in him.” [7]
Answers to these questions will be found in the next issue of Christian Shepherd.
J. Short

Bible Challenger: 2001 - (e)

The first letters of the following responses reveal the one who was addressed with the words, “All things whatsoever Thou hast given Me are of Thee.” [1] The number in brackets indicates the number of words in each answer.
1. In what state did the Lord Jesus leave the work that was given Him to do? [1]
2. The words that Jesus used when speaking of the extent of the love that the Father had towards those whom He had given His Son. [5]
3. To what intent do believers share in the glory which the Father gave the Son? [5]
4. How has the world responded to those who have been given the Word of God? [2]
5. Having been given power over all flesh, what does the Lord Jesus give to His own? [2]
6. The Lord Jesus has given to His own the words that came from the Father Himself. What have those who have a sure knowledge of where the Son came from and who sent Him done with these words? [2]
Answers to these questions will be found in the next issue of Christian Shepherd.
J. Short

Bible Challenger: 2001 - (f)

The first letter of the responses to the following questions answer this question: A believer, though confined by a mortal body, has the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in his heart, revealed through Jesus Christ. This is compared to having what in earthen vessels? [1] The number in brackets indicates the number of words in each answer.
1. Nations are compared to a potter’s vessels. They will be broken in a day when the overcomers rule with a rod of iron. What phrase is used to describe the extent to which they will be broken? [2]
2. A man referred to as a chosen vessel saw, in a vision, a man coming to him. What was he going to experience as a result of the visit? [3]
3. What has God done toward vessels of wrath, fitted for destruction, before finally displaying His power in judgment? [4]
4. When a clay vessel was marred in a potter’s hands, what form did it take when he remade it again? [6]
5. In what way should every believer possess his vessel or body? [3]
6. The potter’s prerogative is to make one vessel unto honor while another, from the same lump of clay, is what? [2]
7. What is it that God desires to make known towards vessels of mercy? [4]
8. For what is a sanctified vessel unto honor prepared for? [3]

Bible Challenger: 2001 - (g)

The first letters of the following responses tell what tribulations ought to produce in a believer, causing him to glory in them. [1] The number in the brackets indicates the number of words in each answer.
1. A believer passing through fiery trials and bearing reproach for the name of Christ should not consider that strange. What does one become in these trials, which ought to cause rejoicing? [4]
2. A word used to describe the great trial through which some believers passed, which, though they were in deep poverty, only served to magnify their joy and generosity. [1]
3. How is it that many have received a good report after enduring extreme trials such as mocking, scourging, imprisonment, torture and even death, not even having received the promise for which they hoped? [2]
4. Though followers of Jesus have been promised tribulation in this world, what has He told us that should bring us good cheer? [5]
5. Although experiencing fightings without and fears within, what words describe the mood of an apostle in the midst of trial? [2]
6. What is the time period in which those who have an inheritance reserved in heaven may be in heaviness, due to many trials and temptations? [4]
7. Neither tribulation, distress, persecution nor anything else can separate Christ’s own from His love. In all these things they are able to be this and more through Him that loves them. [1]
8. When some disciples were exhorted to continue in the faith, what were they told must be done through much tribulation? [6]
Answers to these questions will be found, Lord willing, in the next issue of Christian Shepherd.
J. Short

Bible Challenger: 2001 - (h)

The first letters of the following responses identify which characteristic, typical of a dove, Christ’s disciples were to emulate. [1] The number in brackets indicates the number of words in each answer.
1. Jesus warned those that sold doves in the temple not to make his Father’s house what? [3]
2. When the dove returned to Noah with an olive leaf in her mouth, after being sent from the ark, he knew the floodwaters were what? [1]
3. What was an oppressed one longing for when he wished for wings like a dove? [1]
4. What is the universal occupation upon the mountains of those characterized as doves of the valley? [1]
5. The longing desire of one who compared his listener to a dove in the clefts of the rock. [10]
6. What feature of a dove is repeatedly compared to those of a beloved one? [1]
7. To what sort of dove is one compared who turned to others, rather than the Lord, for help? [4]
8. What descended like a dove from the opened heavens? [3]

Bible Challenger: 2001 - (i)

The first letters of the following responses form the answer to the following question: How is the eye described when the condition of the body is portrayed as “full of light, having no part dark”? [1] The number in brackets indicates the number of words in each answer.
1. What phrase is used to depict the land of a people who walked in darkness but who were to see a great light? [3]
2. Those who have been delivered from the power of darkness are worthy partakers of what? [6]
3. What will soon pass away, which should cause us to cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light? [1]
4. From whom was a minister of the gospel delivered, but then sent to, in order to open their eyes and turn them from darkness to light? [1]
5. How long was the light going to be with those who were told to walk while they had the light, lest darkness came upon them? [2]
6. How do wisdom and light rank when compared with folly and darkness respectively? [1]

Bible Challenger: 2001 - (j)

The first letters of the following responses form a word that is used to describe a mature Christian, who has entered into the fullness of Christ and is, therefore, not swayed by deceitful doctrines. [1] The number in the brackets indicates the number of words in each answer.
1. An iniquity attributed to a wicked city in addition to fullness of bread and abundance of idleness. [1]
2. Under what were children in bondage, prior to God sending His Son, in the fullness of time, to redeem them? [4]
3. Though all the fullness of the Godhead dwells in Christ bodily, what can a careless believer adopt, by following after philosophy, vain deceit and such traditions of men? [4]
4. A word that expresses the degree to which a believer may be made partaker of all the fullness of God. [1]
5. Something spoken of as being the Lord’s along with the fullness thereof. [1]
6. In whom will all things in heaven and earth be gathered in the fullness of times? [1]
7. In what place is fullness of joy found? [2]

Bible Challenger: 2001 - (k)

The first letter of the following responses form a word that describes the kind of riches which should not be trusted in, but rather in the living God who gives us richly all things to enjoy. [1] The number in brackets indicates the number of words in each answer.
1. When extolling the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God, one used this word to describe God’s judgments. [1]
2. Something to be chosen over great riches, if it’s a good one. [1]
3. The riches of the glory of a mystery, hidden for generations, God has now made known to His saints. The mystery is briefly but profoundly summarized in these words. [3]
4. Something spoken of as being full of the riches of the Lord. [1]
5. Something believers have through the blood of Christ, according to the riches of His grace. [1]
6. A faithful one of old esteemed the reproach of Christ greater riches than what? [3]
7. Something God has promised to supply for a believer according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus. [3]
8. In what way was God’s richness manifest to those who were dead in sins, raising them to the heights of heaven to sit with Christ? [2]
9. What does one have who makes himself rich in contrast to one who makes himself poor, yet has great riches? [1]

Bible Challenger: 2001 - (l)

The first letters of the following responses form the answer to this question: Where will the Lord write His laws in a day when there will be no need for one to teach his neighbor to know the Lord, since everyone will know Him? [1] The number in brackets indicates the number of words in each answer.
1. What was it that might be too little for the passover lamb, in which case the lamb should be shared with a neighbor? [1]
2. What motive should every one of us have in pleasing our neighbor, rather than ourselves? [1]
3. The extent to which we are told to love our neighbor, thereby fulfilling the law. [2]
4. Something the Hebrew women were told to borrow from their neighbors before leaving Egypt. [1]
5. What should every man speak with his neighbor, having put away lying? [1]
6. One who, though on a journey, found opportunity to be a neighbor by showing mercy to a destitute man. [1]
Ed. Note: Regarding the last sentence of the July 2001 editorial, it is well to remember that our Lord Jesus, through His work at Calvary, has redeemed us to God (Isa. 53:46; Rev. 5:9).

Breaking the Vase of Clay

Crushed by an adverse world of sin,
Dull grief, and heavy care;
Thus glows the treasury within,
Celestial, bright and fair.
From shaken flowers sweet odors fly,
When tempests sweep the dell,
And the rich, purple Tyrian dye
Drops from a bruised shell.
O God! how wondrous is Thy way!
The wisdom surely Thine!
’Tis from a breaking vase of clay,
That rays of glory shine.
Found in G. W. Heney’s Bible

Christ - The Preeminent One

“They saw no man any more, save Jesus only with themselves” (Mark 9:8).
Christ is the key to the puzzle of this world. May God give us to be anything or nothing, so that the Lord Jesus may be everything. The magnet always turns towards the pole; the needle always trembles a little when the storm and tempest roar, but its direction doesn’t change. The needle of the Christian heart always points towards Christ.
The only thing which can be true blessing to our brethren—so precious because they belong to Him—is that which we reproduce of Him. It is in Christ that all our thoughts are adjusted, set right, judged and purified.
The infiniteness of God Himself staggers the littleness of the heart of man when Christ does not give him a sure support. [Thus] it is in Him that we appreciate what He is. If He is the life, all which that life does has Him for its end and object.
Everything relates to Him: We do not eat [or drink] without Him (how can we when He is our very life?); what we say, what we do, is said and done in the name of the Lord Jesus. The most eminent Christian is one of whom no one has ever heard speak, some poor laborer or servant, whose all is Christ, and who does all for His eye, and His alone.
Jesus is the fountain of all blessedness, sent to poor, weak, wretched sinners, that they may have abundance of comfort, of peace and of enjoyment. We must find everything (but Christ) nothing. No trial can touch a person who has Christ for his all. He may have lost this or lost that, but if he has Christ he has that which he cannot lose.
It is not the quantity we do that makes spirituality, but the measure of presenting Christ that is the value of our service in a world where there is nothing of God. It is not always in the correction of the failures which come before us that sources of unhappiness are healed; they disappear when souls are nourished upon the riches which are in Christ.
We must think of this. We must, while ourselves feeding upon Christ—and He gives us to feed on Him without stint—cause others to breathe a new atmosphere, where Christ is. He has purchased a peculiar people, to be zealous of good works (Titus 2:14). He has brought you to Himself, to have your whole heart wrapped up in His interests, your thoughts, actions, everything for Him.
Are we living enough out of the world (not merely out of its pleasures, but its cares) and enough with Christ for Him to have a large place in the daily thoughts of our hearts? Have we the consciousness, from the time we get up in the morning till we go to bed at night, that our hearts are with Christ—a consciousness that He is in us, and we identified with Him?
J. N. Darby

Christ's Yesterday

Christ’s yesterday was the accomplishment of redemption. His tomorrow is having His church with Himself in glory. But He is a living Christ for today. He cannot light a single spark in the heart of an individual, without that little tiny spark being for God. He gives the light and has ordained that every ray of it is to reflect something for God. You may have very little light, but the glimmer of the glowworm shines brightly on a dark night.
G. V. Wigram


There is a great difference between the rapture and the kingdom. His appearing for the church is the expression of His peculiar love to His people. His kingdom is the expression of His power.
He knows His people as one with Himself, and He will come and fetch His bride first (1 Thess. 4:13-18). He went to take the kingdom without her. Looking at the Lord’s love to us in this way, we see it to be quite distinctive and separate from all other grace that He ever will or can show.
He will not show forth the kingdom till He has come to get a heavenly people. Israel has an earthly kingdom. But such external power would not do for a Christian. I am part of the bride; the Lord has given Himself to her (Eph. 5:25). It is He Himself for whom I wait (Rev. 22:20).
The authority of the Lord Jesus in that day (the kingdom) will extend to, and take in, the range of everything. Those now associated with Him in sorrow will reign with Him.
The thought of being a king and a priest is beautiful for glory and dominion, but ah! it does not touch that blessed thought of relationship—the Lord Jesus is the Firstborn among many brethren—and our hearts’ affections for Him as His bride.
The Christ who looked down on Stephen (Acts 7:55-56) is the Christ to whom we say, “Come!” But you cannot be ready for that without a personal love to Him. May each redeemed, as part of the bride, a pilgrim and stranger down here, say, “Come!”
G. V. Wigram (adapted)

Communion and Confidence

“The Lord shall be thy confidence” (Prov. 3:26).
Communion with God always gives confidence in His power. Do we know God’s presence as the practical home of our hearts? Oh what joy is there in this! Of one thing be sure: Coming to Him in the name of Jesus, you will find it to be the real, blessed, secure home of your hearts. We are not to be weary in well doing, for in due time we shall reap if we faint not. The principle of Matthew 20 is, “Whatsoever is right I will give you,” so he went and worked and trusted. Trusting Christ is a great matter. I should have very little to show for my work. I feel it sometimes—but if I only have His approval, how content I should be!
J. N. Darby


Christian devotedness founded on the truth and produced by the power of the Spirit: I believe it to be of the utmost importance for saints and for the testimony of God. Surely, doctrine is of deep importance. But the expression of the power of [doctrine] in the heart will manifest itself in devotedness.
As a general rule, Christians (apart from a special call of God) should abide in the same calling wherein they are called (1 Cor. 7:20). It is here that the motives and character of our walk are summed up in one word—Christ. “To me,” says the Apostle, “to live is Christ.” He is both the life and the motive of life, giving character to our walk.
The spring and source of all true devotedness is divine love filling and operating in our hearts. Paul says “the love of Christ constraineth us” (2 Cor. 5:14). Christian devotedness casts away what does not glorify Christ.
J. N. Darby (from Collected Writings, Vol. 16)

The Dignity of His Person

“So also Christ glorified not Himself to be made a high priest; but He that said unto him, Thou art My Son, today have I begotten Thee” (Heb. 5:5).
Observe the dignity of the Person called to this office—“Thou art My Son.” The glory of His person is owned in order to [show the perfect competency of] His priesthood. “This day have I begotten Thee” (vs. 5). He was as really a man as any, but without the sinful part (Heb. 4:15).
Yet He was like neither Adam nor us exactly, for Adam had no “knowledge of good and evil”; Christ had—God has. But now men have the knowledge of good and evil, and with that knowledge, sin.
Christ was born of a woman, but in a miraculous way. The spring of [His humanity] was sinless, and yet He had the knowledge of good and evil.
J. N. Darby

Discouraging or Stilling?

“Wherefore discourage ye the heart of the children of Israel from going over into the land which the Lord hath given them?” (Num. 32:7).
“Caleb stilled the people before Moses, and said, Let us go up at once, and possess it; for we are well able to overcome it” (Num. 13:30).
There is a blessed contrast between these two verses, from which we learn vitally important lessons. I believe we underestimate the effect we have on our brethren. Moses charges the tribes who wanted to settle down without crossing Jordan with discouraging their brethren from going over and taking possession of the land of promise. Was this because of something they said? I believe it was their action which discouraged. We may not say discouraging things, but our actions speak loudly.
How nice, then, when the people were disheartened by the words of the other ten spies, to read that “Caleb stilled the people.” May the Lord grant us to be stillers, not discouragers, of His beloved people.
R. K. Gorgas

Do It

“Whatsoever He saith unto you, do it” (John 2:5).
This was the instruction from the mother of Jesus to the servants at the wedding feast. How often we want to understand something before we do what the Lord tells us. Here it was simple obedience that was important. We may hesitate because there is a question within ourselves whether we have understood Him properly (see Acts 9:13-17). But once it is clear, there is only one path for faith—pure, simple obedience, leaving the results with Him. The servants might have thought it quite futile to fill those containers with that much water when what they needed was wine. However, they obeyed and took it to the governor of the feast. The result was sweeter—better—than anyone could have imagined.
“If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them” (John 13:17).
R. Thonney

"Do It Heartily"

“In every work that he undertook in the service of the house of God, and in the law, and in the commandments, to seek his God, he did it with all his heart and prospered” (2 Chron. 31:21 JND).
In my daily reading this morning, my attention was called to this verse. I wondered why what I do sometimes does not prosper. How instructive! Hezekiah did it with all his heart.
How often our efforts are perfunctory-halfhearted. May the Lord stir us with the example of this dear man who did so much to restore Judah (and some from throughout all Israel) to the worship of Jehovah.
I was struck, too, with Hezekiah’s gracious prayer of intercession for the people. He prayed for them, saying, “Jehovah, who is good, forgive everyone that has directed his heart to seek God, Jehovah the God of his fathers, although not according to the purification of the sanctuary. And Jehovah hearkened to Hezekiah, and healed the people” (2 Chron. 30:18-20 JND).
Twice over, the Scriptures say of Hezekiah that “he spoke consolingly” to the people (2 Chron. 30:22; 32:6). What an example for us!
R. K. Gorgas

Does God Forget Sins?

Question: Does God forget our sins?
Answer: Had I been asked this twenty-five years ago, my answer would have been a firm “Yes!” while I would have privately doubted your orthodoxy for asking such a question.
However, some years ago, a dear servant of Christ—now home with the Lord Jesus—pointed out something that has stuck with me and has been a real blessing to my soul over the years. He suggested that God forgets nothing. If He did, we could never have total peace concerning our sins. There would always be the possibility that what God forgot He might someday remember.
He illustrated it this way. Suppose I owe you a hundred dollars. You might, over the years, forget that I owe you that money. But if I never paid that debt, I could never enjoy real peace in your presence, because I’d always wonder if something might trigger your memory, causing you to remember my unpaid obligation.
But God, as a sovereign act of His own will and on a righteous basis, chooses not to remember our sins and iniquities, declaring “their sins and iniquities will I remember no more” (Heb. 10:17). In other words, God declares that He will not remember my sins—but He has not said that He will forget them. What settled peace this gives my soul! What joy and peace it ought to give each redeemed soul whose sins have been washed away in the precious blood of the Lord Jesus Christ—though God is not forgetful, He has chosen not to remember our sins.
“He hath not dealt with us after our sins; nor rewarded us according to our iniquities. For as the heaven is high above the earth, so great is His mercy toward them that fear Him. As far as the east is from the west, so far hath He removed our transgressions from us.  .  .  .  But the mercy of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting upon them that fear Him” (Psa. 103:10-12,17).
R. K. Gorgas (adapted)

Ed. Note

With this issue of the Christian Shepherd a change has taken place in the Bible Challenger. Our beloved brother Ralph Erisman, who has written this series for many years, has decided to retire his Bible Challenger pen.
Many have expressed appreciation for the Bible quizzes that our brother has created over the years. We are thankful to our Lord for this labor of love (Heb. 6:10) he has undertaken for our enjoyment and learning of the Bible.
Another dear brother has consented to take over its writing. Feeling that such a series is profitable for believers, helping them to become better acquainted with the precious Word of God, we plan, Lord willing, to continue the Bible Challenger series.

Editorial: Appearances

“Abstain from all appearance of evil” (1 Thess. 5:22).
It was lunchtime as the UPS (United Parcel Service) delivery truck pulled into the parking lot of a local sports bar. The driver, though hungry, had another reason for stopping. His favorite college basketball team was competing in the NCAA post-season basketball tournament and the game was being televised there.
Entering the bar, Joe (not his real name) spent his lunch break watching the game, though he didn’t consume any alcoholic beverage. When his break was over, Joe returned to his truck.
There he was met by his immediate supervisor.
“Joe, I’m suspending you from work for five days.”
“But why?” Joe protested. “I just finished my lunch break. I wasn’t doing anything wrong.”
“We received a call from someone who said they observed a UPS delivery man entering a bar.”
“Hey, I didn’t order or drink any alcohol; I just watched the game. I follow the company rules.”
“I believe you, Joe. But when you wear a UPS uniform and drive a UPS truck, you represent UPS. The public’s opinion of UPS is based on the actions of its employees. Stopping in a bar, even to watch a game, isn’t consistent with the image of dependability UPS wants to project to our customers.”
Who and What Do Christians Represent?
For Christians, this true story strikingly illustrates the importance of obeying 1 Thessalonians 5:22 (quoted above).
Too often, those who profess to be Christians assume they represent a particular denomination with certain ecclesiastical rules. But such thinking sets aside the real meaning of Christian—one who follows Christ and, we may add, one who represents Christ and His interests in this world. “Ye are our epistle  .  .  .  known and read of all men” (2 Cor. 3:2).
Saints are not called to defend man-made theologies and doctrines. But as members of the one body of Christ, the assembly, which is “the pillar and the base of the truth” (JND), we are to hold fast the “form of sound words” (2 Tim. 1:13).
Paul exhorts believers in 2 Corinthians 4:2 not to walk in deceit, but by our actions manifest “the truth commending ourselves to every conscience of men before God” (JND). John had joy to find that his beloved children were walking in truth (2 John 4; 3 John 4).
However, defending the word of truth, the gospel of our salvation (Eph. 1:13), requires action and talk.
“When a man’s ways please the Lord, He maketh even his enemies to be at peace with him” (Prov. 16:7).
The world says, “Actions speak louder than words.” Scripture gives us the moral truth: “By their fruits ye shall know them” (Matt. 7:16, 20). How important that we who have trusted the Lord Jesus be careful that our actions and ways would reflect His meekness, holiness, love and grace!
The Lord Jesus said to those Pharisees who tried to find fault with Him, “The works which the Father hath given Me to finish, the same works that I do, bear witness of Me” (John 5:36; 10:25). Later, the blessed Saviour challenged their wicked heart of unbelief, saying, “Believe Me that I am in the Father, and the Father in Me: or else believe Me for the very works’ sake” (John 14:11). How perfectly and powerfully His works testified to His divine Person!
In an earlier day Joseph’s works, whether in Potiphar’s house or in Pharaoh’s prison, were prosperous (see Gen. 39). In a later day, Solomon’s servants bear powerful testimony to the Queen of Sheba by their works (see 1 Kings 10:4-5; 2 Chron. 9:3-4). Later yet, Daniel rebuked King Darius from the lion’s den concerning his actions: “My God hath sent His angel, and hath shut the lions’ mouths, that they have not hurt me: forasmuch as before Him innocency was found in me; and also before thee, O king, have I done no hurt” (Dan. 6:22).
May our actions as believers not only speak louder than words, but may they support our words and glorify our blessed Lord.
“It came to pass in Iconium, that they went both together into the synagogue of the Jews, and so spake, that a great multitude both of the Jews and also of the Greeks believed” (Acts 14:1).
What we say as believers is also vitally important.
The words spoken by Paul and Barnabas not only carried moral power, but were spoken in a way which brought many souls to salvation. We learn from Exodus 28 that the holy garments of glory and beauty Aaron was to wear included a robe whose hem had alternating golden bells and pomegranates (Ex. 28:34). Aaron’s priestly work (pomegranates) was to be equally balanced with his words (golden bells).
A person whose words are not supported or balanced by his work has a lifeless faith (James 2:20,26), even as one whose work shows no direction or light from the divine Word has an ignorant faith.
Words and Works
As holy priests, believers worship (words) offering up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ. As royal priests we serve (work), showing “forth the praises of Him who hath called you out of darkness into His marvelous light” (1 Peter 2:9).
The blessed Lord Jesus Christ is our perfect example. When asked by the unbelieving Jews, “Who art Thou,” His answer shines with moral beauty and perfection. “Altogether that which I also say to you” (John 8:25 JND). His words and His works were always perfectly balanced—divinely consistent.
May it be so with us who wear a uniform—one of infinitely more responsibility and privilege than the UPS delivery man—the uniform of Christ.
Let us as children of God be found faithfully shinning as lights in the world, while earnestly holding forth the word of life to the lost and perishing (Phil. 2:1516 JND).
Oh! that we would have grace, by our actions, to “adorn the doctrine of God our Saviour in all things” (Titus 2:10).

Editorial: Boxed-in or Secure?

The calm of the ocean surface was momentarily disturbed by a large splash marking where the scuba diver had plunged overboard. Air bubbles trailing from oxygen tanks marked his descent into the beautiful marine world which appeared so peaceful and inviting. Suspended in pristine depths, gravity exerted noticeably less influence on him, producing a pleasant sense of freedom from its restrictive grip.
As he took photographs, a school of small, beautifully colored, inquisitive fish circled nearby. All was peaceful and serene. Then, as if responding to an unseen warning alarm, the school of fish suddenly disappeared. Though the noise of hissing air bubbles remained constant, the sudden disappearance of the fish seemed to trigger an ominous silence, more sensed than heard, in the undersea world.
The source of these sinister changes became all too apparent as a large, menacing shadow rapidly approached the scuba diver. Materializing into the form of a 9-foot tiger shark, the creature’s intention was obvious, as it swam in ever-decreasing circles around him, its vicious mouth agape.
Without warning, it struck. Then with increasing fury, it struck again and again. Yet during these violent attacks, the diver calmly continued to photograph the event, safe and unharmed. The reason for his safety from these deadly assaults was that he remained in a box. Knowing that he was diving in shark-infested waters, he had entered a specially constructed box made of strong metal bars. As long as he remained inside the diving cage, he was safe from vicious outside attacks of undersea predators such as the tiger shark.
Would we not think it very strange—indeed, would it not be the height of folly—if the diver were to have refused the safety of that box? How senseless, for the sake of feeling liberated, to give up its safe, confined environs, willingly exposing himself to life-threatening dangers outside its fortification.
Old Testament Examples
The wisdom of believers remaining in a morally safe atmosphere is seen continually throughout the Word of God, in principle. Let us briefly consider some examples “for our learning” (Rom. 15:4).
What awful folly—what sinful folly, we may say—it would have been, had Noah and his family refused to enter the confining spaces of that box. The ark was meant to protect them from the judgment that fell upon the anti-deluvian world (Gen. 6). When the fountains of the great deep were broken up and the windows of heaven were opened (Gen. 7:11), who then was truly free and liberated? Those inside or those outside?
What would have happened to the infant Moses if his parents had reasoned that their child’s freedom and liberty was more important than the restricting influences of that little box—the ark—which his mother faithfully prepared (Ex. 2:3)?
Let us ask further if the Israelites displayed a complaining spirit regarding the confining limits of that dry path through the Red Sea with its towering walls of water rising around and above them, as they escaped from the pursuing Egyptian army? Consider again this solemn question as we view—along with the children of Israel—the bodies of the Egyptian soldiers lying dead on the seashore: Who were the truly free and liberated ones (Ex. 14:30)?
In 1 Kings 2 we see the tragic result of one who refused to remain in the safety of a restricted atmosphere. Shimei, who had wickedly cursed David when he fled from Absalom (2 Sam. 16:5), was shown great grace and forgiveness by the king (1 Kings 2:8).
But Shimei’s life depended on his remaining in what might have seemed a very confining environment, for Solomon instructed him, “Build thee an house in Jerusalem, and dwell there, and go not forth thence any whither. For it shall be, that on the day thou goest out, and passest over the brook Kidron, thou shalt know for certain that thou shalt surely die” (1 Kings 2:36-37).
Sadly, self-willed Shimei disregarded the king’s warning, and he died as a result of his refusal to remain inside the safety of Jerusalem’s walls—for him truly a city of refuge (1 Kings 2:46).
New Testament Examples
We find similar examples in the New Testament. Ponder the account of Paul’s voyage to Rome in Acts 27. He had warned the centurion who was responsible for the safe conduct of the prisoners to Italy not to leave the safe though unappealing harbor of Fair Havens (vss. 8-11). Sadly, the master and the owner of the vessel—as well as the rest on board the ship—agreed that Phenice was a more liberated and pleasant place in which to pass the dull dreariness of the approaching winter. So, disregarding Paul’s warnings, they left the confined safety of Fair Havens desiring greater freedom. In a very short time, however, the coveted liberty was swept away by the violent “tempestuous wind, called Euroclydon” (Acts 27:14).
No doubt the much desired freedom and liberty they attempted to gain were esteemed of little worth when, after many days “neither sun nor stars .  .  . appeared, and no small tempest lay on us, all hope that we should be saved was then taken away” (Acts 27:20). We can well imagine that those on board would then have gladly exchanged their stormy search for freedom, for Fair Havens’ security.
The Assembly As a “Box”
In Luke 22 the Lord gathered His beloved disciples in the large upper room (Mark 14:15; Luke 22:12) where He instituted His remembrance feast. Only those inside heard those precious words: “With desire I have desired to eat this passover with you before I suffer.  .  .  .  This is My body which is given for you: this do in remembrance of Me.  .  .  .  This cup is the new testament in My blood, which is shed for you.”
Later, after His resurrection, the disciples, motivated by fear, met together within another room—one with the doors shut (John 20:19). Yet when He came within among them, all fear was removed, for He showed them His hands and His side. It was then they found joy and peace inside that enclosed room—a freedom and liberty that Thomas could not enjoy until he too was gathered inside.
Today the Spirit gathers believers to the name of the Lord Jesus, where He promises to be in their midst (Matt. 18:20). What a scene of joy—to be gathered together in Christ’s blessed presence! What a place of safety—to be within where the Spirit of God has liberty to present divine truth—truth that preserves from the subtle traps of Satan and the stormy shipwrecks of life.
The Little City and the Inn
Within that besieged little city was a poor, wise man who by his wisdom delivered those few that remained with him inside its walls (Eccl. 9:15). Inside was peace and safety; outside, certain death.
Oh! that we may remain inside (the assembly)—with however few there may be—never forgetting that that blessed poor, wise man, our Lord Jesus Christ, who “loved the church [assembly], and gave Himself for it” (Eph. 5:25), is there in the midst. He who has done nothing amiss is the Son who has made us free indeed. True freedom can’t be found elsewhere.
If, as the disciples of old, looking round about we see no man any more, save Jesus only with ourselves (Mark 9:8), then that which to natural sight appears as a restricted, unappealing box will in reality be found a safe, sweet inn providing wonderful liberty, joy, peace, care and healing for our souls.

Editorial: "Eat Slowly and Enjoy Your Food"

This expression has been, for as long as I can remember, one of my mom’s favorite and most quoted pieces of advice. Before enjoying one of her delicious Lord’s Day dinners or a special birthday or holiday banquet, we knew that as soon as prayer ended, her home-cooked feast would be prefaced with her homespun admonition.
She’s always taken her own advice. At 93 years of age, an every-other-day diuretic pill and an aspirin are the only medicine she takes. Though living in a nursing home, she’s still—for an elderly person—reasonably alert and healthy.
In reality, Mom’s advice is based on sound medical principles. The human body derives much greater benefit and enjoyment from slowly, carefully chewed food than from hurriedly gulped food.
Good Advice - but Are We Listening?
We’ve heard similar advice all our lives.
We know that eating slowly is physically healthy—it helps the body properly digest what is eaten.
We know that pausing between bites is emotionally healthy—it gives us time to enjoy what we eat. And pausing—letting food settle for a while—helps ensure against overeating.
But, we know more than we practice.
We eat more food while gaining less nutrition.
We take larger portions while allowing smaller amounts of time to enjoy the taste.
Society has a fast-food mentality. This unhealthy lifestyle is part of the cost of living in a fast-paced, high-tech world where time is measured in nanoseconds. Continually grasping for new experiences and greater satisfactions, people are forced to give up the one thing necessary to savor them—time.
The World’s Example
Western cultures have become gobblers—not only of food—but of life in general. People today have forgotten how (or are unwilling) to take time to “smell the roses.” Sadly, this chaotic rush of modern life has had its detrimental effect on the lives and habits of Christians.
Most of us must admit to being guilty of feeding on the Word of God in the same hurried way we tend to feed on our daily food—speeding at the same frantic pace at which we move through daily life.
Yet time to feed and meditate on the Word is vitally important in today’s moral darkness—both individually and collectively. But we must admit in sorrow that our failure to find such time is not so much the fault of the world around us, as it is the result of our own refusal to make time each day.
The world has coined a saying that appropriately characterizes our hurried spiritual eating habits: “We have met the enemy, and he is us!” Oh! that we might search our hearts in these things, and confessing our failure, learn to follow the ways of the perfect Man—our Lord Jesus Christ—as He faced this same dark and confusing world, and did so in perfection, ever glorifying His God and Father.
Our Lord’s Example
What a conversation those two on the way to Emmaus must have enjoyed with the Lord Jesus! That walk, according to some calculations, would have taken well over two hours—time enough for the Son of God to open to them “in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself.” What food He gave them!
And did our blessed Saviour minister in a way that those two discouraged souls had ample time to digest what He said? Yes indeed He did! Hear their testimony: “Was not our heart burning in us as He spoke to us on the way, and as He opened the scriptures to us?” (Luke 24:32 JND).
Notice, too, an earlier time in our Lord’s pathway when, speaking in the synagogue in Nazareth, He read from Isaiah 61 and then ministered briefly to the people. Did His divine ministry allow them time to slowly and thoughtfully consider what was said? Again hear the answer of Scripture: “And all bare Him witness, and wondered at the gracious words which proceeded out of His mouth” (Luke 4:22).
The Lord Jesus never gave more to the hungry than they were capable of eating. Yet He always provided an abundance for any who could eat more. “Jesus took the loaves, and having given thanks, distributed .  .  . in like manner of the small fishes as much as they would” (John 6:11 JND).
Taking Time for Tasting
As a boy, a plate of good, nutritious food, including vegetables, was often placed in front of me at meal times. Unfortunately, I didn’t always like the taste. But I was expected to eat that food, so I learned to swallow the food quickly with water—no chewing required, and thus no taste resulted. I didn’t realize that eating food that way made me the real loser.
In Psalm 119:103 we read, “How sweet are Thy words unto my taste! yea, sweeter than honey to my mouth!” If we do not give ourselves adequate time to taste the sweetness of God’s Word—if we do not chew (that is, meditate on what is read) those precious, divine precepts—what spiritual losers we become!
The word selah is found seventy-six times in the KJV Bible—most often in Psalms. Though its meaning is obscure, most reliable Biblical scholars suggest its thought is to pause and consider what has been written. In view of the frenzied pace of life today, we need to form the habit of slow and thoughtful meditation and enjoyment of the Word—both in our private reading and collectively in the assembly.
Allowing Time for Enjoying
We lovingly beseech all who take part in public ministry among God’s beloved people: Allow enough time that those who are being fed ministry are able to enjoy the food. Another has said, “The more gifted a brother, the more his quiet waiting on the Lord edifies the saints to whom he ministers.” Let us all serve spiritual food—both to our families and the brethren—with great diligence and care.
“Thy words were found, and I did eat them, and Thy words were unto me the joy and rejoicing of my heart” (Jer. 15:16 JND).

Editorial: "Give Me to Drink"

“Now Jacob’s well was there. Jesus therefore, being wearied with His journey, sat thus on the well: and it was about the sixth hour. There cometh a woman of Samaria to draw water: Jesus saith unto her, Give Me to drink” (John 4:6-7).
What an amazing request! Here, the eternal Son of God—come in flesh—is found weary with His journey. Was He feeling this only as Man? He surely did feel that which we feel—hunger, thirst, loneliness and sorrow. But this weariness was more than merely human, for, as the eternal Son of God, He had come unto His own only to find rejection. The light of His personal glory had shone into the moral darkness of this world—a darkness so great that the world had not comprehended it.
The One full of grace and truth walked in lowly submission among the “all things” that were made by Him. And what did He find? All was ruined by sin. He was in the world, but it knew Him not.
The Pharisees—religious leaders of His beloved earthly people—rejected Him too. They sought, in jealous hatred, to turn the people that they were responsible to guide to Jehovah against Him. Oh! we say again, how weary with His journey the blessed Man of Sorrows must have been, as He sat at that well!
Jacob’s Fountain and the Divine Fountain
What a picture we see in Sychar’s well. That fountain, where Jacob found refreshment for himself, his children and his cattle, now hosts its divine antitype—“Jesus  .  .  .  sat thus on the well” (John 4:6). The true Fountain of living water replaces Jacob’s fountain with that which is eternal.
The Thirsty Saviour
How wearying to the Lord’s holy soul was the unbelief that He met! But if those of His own would not have Him, He then must needs go through Samaria. If the lips of His beloved earthly people are silent, the Lord will have praise of stones (Luke 19:40). His loving heart, if not refreshed by the Jews, will find its joy in meeting the need of a thirsty, outcast sinner.
He who became poor that we through His poverty might be rich thus perfectly fulfills Jacob’s prophecy. He is that “fruitful bough, even a fruitful bough by a well; whose branches run over the wall” (Gen. 49:22).
Thus the God of Jacob, having taken upon Himself the form of a Servant, sits there—“just as He was” (JND)—humble, weary, rejected, the divine fountain of living water—the source springing up into everlasting life—and He requests of the outcast Samaritan woman, “Give Me to drink.”
The Thirsty Sinner
Who was this one of whom the Creator condescends to make such a request? A despised, moral castaway because of her lifestyle and belonging to a race of spiritual outcasts (Samaritans). Thus does she blindly claim what is not hers: “Our father Jacob, which gave us the well.” In principle she is “without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world” (Eph. 2:12). What a hopeless condition!
She who had drunk at this world’s well five times and was yet seeking to quench her thirst in a futile sixth attempt is about to receive the true water of eternal life. Finding this seventh time the living water she has longed for, she then must immediately share her discovery with those very men who knew her best. “Come, see a man, which told me all things that ever I did: is not this the Christ?”
The Satisfied Saviour
The disciples, oblivious to the desires of their Lord, were gone away into the city to buy meat for Him. But He had meat to eat which they knew nothing about (John 4:34). When they come back to Him with this world’s food, saying, “Master, eat,” He tells them of that which has fully satisfied His heart—to do the will of God.
The woman came back with something better than the meat offered by the disciples. She brought the men of the city—those whose spiritual needs provided the eternal Giver’s heart joy as they too drew from the Fountain of eternal life (John 4:30).
A Drink for Him From the Redeemed
Oh! that we too may respond to the expressed desire of His blessed heart—“give Me to drink”—as did David’s mighty men who brought their beloved king water from Bethlehem’s well. Let each redeemed soul give Him daily a refreshing drink of love, worship and devotion. What a high and holy service—what a privilege belongs to the redeemed—to be able to give Him that which He desires in a world that only knows how to take for itself.
A Drink for Him From the World
Let us never forget the final, awful insult this world rendered to our blessed Lord Jesus Christ. There, hanging on the cross after those six long hours of mockery and agony and those three awful hours of forsaking of holy God, knowing that all things were now accomplished, He said, “I thirst.” Was there any sympathy, pity or compassion shown that innocent Victim’s request? Ah! they offer the Lord of glory water made bitter with sour wine (vinegar) to satisfy His thirst (John 19:29).
May we be stirred to ever give that peerless, glorified Man the desire of His blessed heart—a refreshing drink, suitable and acceptable to Himself.
“Let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to His name” (Heb. 13:15).

Editorial: "Know Any Christian Apple Packers?"

“A hypocrite with his mouth destroyeth his neighbor” (Prov. 11:9). “Do not ye after their works: for they say, and do not” (Matt. 23:3). “I will show thee my faith by my works” (James 2:18).
Recently, when visiting dear brethren who operate an apple orchard and packing facility, I was told of an apple grower who, having been routinely cheated by dishonest packers, asked the above question while seeking a new packer.
Because apple growers are paid according to the quality of their fruit, an unscrupulous packer, by purposely under-grading the produce, pays less than fair market value, while pocketing the extra money.
Though not a Christian himself, the grower had some sense that if he could find a packer known to be Christian, he could expect to be treated honestly.
He obviously identified Christianity—not with words—but with high moral standards of conduct.
Though the Bible contains many examples of saints whose lives, being above reproach, rendered bright testimony to the holiness of God, let us reverently and with hearts bowed in worship consider some of the testimony rendered by the only perfect Man who lived on this earth—our Lord Jesus Christ. “Behold My servant, whom I have chosen; My beloved, in whom My soul is well pleased” (Matt. 12:18). “And were beyond measure astonished, saying, He hath done all things well” (Mark 7:37). “All bare Him witness, and wondered at the gracious words which proceeded out of His mouth” (Luke 4:22). “The officers answered, Never man spake like this man” (John 7:46). What a glorious pattern for us to follow! May we take heed to the admonitions given us by the Spirit through the Apostle Paul: “Walk as children of light  .  .  .  proving what is agreeable to the Lord  .  .  .  and do not have fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather also reprove them.  .  .  .  See therefore how ye walk” (Eph. 5:8,10-11,15 JND).
“That they may adorn the doctrine of God our Saviour in all things” (Titus 2:10).

Editorial: "Let Not Your Heart Be Troubled"

“Then the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled for fear of the Jews, came Jesus and stood in the midst, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you” (John 20:19).
In a day when there seems to be so much weakness and discouragement in assemblies, this verse contains great comfort for the two or three gathered together to His name. Christ’s assembly, and its local expression, is ever a target of Satan’s unrelenting attacks and religious men’s ridicule. Yet, in the midst of this spiritual conflict, the Holy Spirit has provided this precious verse that He might “comfort your hearts, and stablish you in every good word and work” (2 Thess. 2:17).
Let’s briefly consider, for our solace, a few of the sparkling gems it contains, relative to the assembly.
First: “The same day at evening.” The event recorded here happened on the first day of the week—the Lord’s Day, the day which saw our Saviour rise triumphant over death and the grave, after finishing—once and forever—the work of redemption. The glorious resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ from among the dead is the foundation of all blessing. In Christ’s death, God has been forever satisfied about sin. In Christ’s resurrection, God has given proof of His eternal satisfaction (Eph. 1:20).
“He is not here: for He is risen” (Matt. 28:6). How glorious are these blessed words of Scripture! The grave could not hold Him, corruption could not touch Him, and death could not overpower Him. Now He who died is “risen again, who is even at the right hand of God” (Rom. 8:34). Thus believers by faith look up and see “Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honor” (Heb. 2:9).
Is it any wonder then that the first day of the week—the Lord’s Day—is connected with the gathering together of His own (the assembly) to remember Him in His death (Acts 20:7)?
Second: “Where the disciples were assembled.” How wonderful that today there is still a place where His own can, as gathered by the Spirit, enjoy collective fellowship with Himself. The Lord gave principles regarding that place when He sent His disciples to find the “large upper room furnished” (Luke 22:12), where they were to make ready the passover feast. There is room enough for every redeemed child of God to gather around Himself, in the place of His appointment. It is a large upper room and all that is needed to be able to enjoy His blessed presence has been furnished.
Third: “The doors were shut.” The room where the disciples assembled had doors that could be shut to keep out the adversary. The disciples had good reason to fear the Jews, for those inveterate enemies of the Lord Jesus and His followers would stop at nothing to stamp out the truth, which they could not deny. Today the assembly still needs strong doors—doors closed against false teaching and wicked doctrine, which the religious world seeks to bring into the very midst of Christ’s assembly.
The assembly must be on constant guard against evil men who, as in Jude’s day, had crept in unawares into its very bosom. By their invidious presence, wicked ways and false doctrines, they corrupt the pure, divine truth—the faith which was once delivered unto the saints.
Fourth: “Came Jesus.” What wonderful words of comfort and assurance! The disciples who gathered in that room with the doors shut had the joy of being in the presence of a Person. They weren’t gathered to a set of religious rules, a particular manner of life, or with some deeply spiritual group. They weren’t gathered on the basis of their goodness, intelligence or faithfulness. They were there because they loved the Lord Jesus Christ. And into their presence He came—in Person.
Remember, dear fellow-believer, He has said, “There am I” (Matt. 18:20), and it is to this blessed Person we gather. His promised, personal presence leaves no room for dogmas, sects, man-made standards of conduct or any other such thing. When believers are so gathered to Himself, by the Holy Spirit, He is collectively in the midst—even as He was bodily in the midst of the disciples that Lord’s Day evening.
Fifth: “In the midst.” This is where Jehovah wanted to be with His beloved earthly people after He had delivered them out of Egypt. Moses received divine directions to build the tabernacle—a place where the Lord might dwell in holiness in the midst.
Is it not sweet to think that, in like manner, we gather—not to a place—but around a divine Person. He is there in the midst as He has promised, equally accessible to all who are gathered there with Him. In a coming day in glory, our blessed Saviour will sing “in the midst of the assembly” (Heb. 2:12 JND). Should it not be our joy to sing to Him now in the midst of the two or three?
Sixth: “And saith unto them.” Can there be any more precious sound (now heard by faith) to the ear of a redeemed soul than the voice of the Lord Jesus? Nothing can compare with the words of the Son of God who loved me and gave Himself for me. It is the sheep who hear the Shepherd’s voice and follow Him (John 10:27). No other voice will they follow. All others are strange voices and they know to flee from such. How precious for an individual sheep of Christ to follow, trust and rest in the utterances of His blessed voice. And, too, how vitally important that the assembly receive direction from and submit to no other voice than that of the Chief Shepherd!
Seventh: “Peace be unto you.” What precious words to hear our blessed Saviour utter. Isaiah, by divine inspiration, twice tells us that “there is no peace, saith my God, to the wicked.” But the Prince of Peace has come and, standing in the breach, is our peace, has made our peace (through the blood of His cross—Col. 1:20), and has preached peace to those otherwise who could never possess and enjoy peace with God (Eph. 2).
The foundation on which the Lord Jesus came to them with the message of peace is found in John 20:20: “When He had so said, He showed unto them His hands and His side. Then were the disciples glad, when they saw the Lord.” We too will be glad when, gathered in His blessed presence, we see Him by faith and realize, in our measure, what it cost Him to redeem us to Himself.
There from His head, His hands, His feet,
Sorrow and love flowed mingled down;
Did e’er such love and sorrow meet,
Or thorns compose so rich a crown?
(Little Flock Hymnbook, #283)

Editorial: "No Tolerance"

Highway speed limit signs present one of the most common sights seen when traveling. There is, however, another common speed limit standard observed among many drivers—an unwritten, unofficial “rule” sometimes referred to as “10 over.” I once read a news article quoting an Iowa Highway Patrolman as saying that he and his colleagues allowed speeds to exceed the posted highway speed limit by 10 mph—but no more—before drivers were issued a citation for speeding.
I had always assumed that this “unwritten rule” was observed in most every state and province—until we recently drove through Oklahoma.
There, underneath each posted speed limit sign was another sign I’ve never seen before. It contained just two words. In bold, black letters it proclaimed, “No Tolerance.” The message was clear: Don’t expect the “10 over” rule to be observed in Oklahoma. If you speed—even one mile over the limit—you pay. Traffic moved very circumspectly there!
While Christians ought always to obey, it seems rather hypocritical to enforce such a rule in these lands which tolerate so many other kinds of perverted, lawless and godless philosophies and deeds.
Cain must have had very little realization (if he thought of such things at all) of the depths to which his descendants would fall, when he turned his back and went out from the presence of Jehovah (Gen. 4:16). No doubt the city, which he built and named after his son, was a pleasant-appearing place—one which must have initially satisfied all who settled there. Perhaps it was in this city that the spirit and parameters of human tolerance were first established.
The resulting moral darkness marking the world today bears sad evidence to the effects of Cain’s efforts to find happiness apart from God.
Consider, for example, that no tolerance is shown to the Bible or Christianity in public schools or government. Yet those who promote perverted morality, satanic lifestyles and godless habits are tolerated under the banner of multi-cultural diversity.
No tolerance is shown by public or commercial institutions to those seeking to spread the gospel, while those who distribute pornography and violence as entertainment are tolerated under the banner of freedom of speech.
No tolerance is shown Christian parents who use physical discipline when necessary. Yet the world demands tolerance be shown to those who have ravaged, brutalized or even murdered others.
No tolerance is given any who destroy “endangered wildlife.” But those who murder human infants still in their mothers’ wombs are tolerated under the humanistic principle of freedom of choice.
But, for those who have been called to the fellowship of His Son (1 Cor. 1:9), spiritual intolerance is far more harmful to the Christian pathway.
Of course, in this day of spiritual coldness and apostasy, faithfulness to Christ is as vitally important as it is rare to find. But still, there is a vast difference between this kind of faithfulness and intolerance.
True faithfulness to Christ will never tolerate anything that dishonors His peerless name (John 5:23) or that denies or detracts from the divine, unchanging truth of God. We certainly need faithful men to whom the truth has been committed, who will teach others that same pure, unchanging truth (2 Tim. 2:2).
However, spiritual intolerance—labeling as unspiritual or unintelligent conduct which runs contrary to one’s personal thoughts—comes from spiritual pride. The Pharisees, who lived a very strict, religious lifestyle, were intolerant of any who did not measure up to their standards—Jew or Gentile. But the Lord, who looks on the heart, pronounced a solemn woe on them for their hypocritical ways (Matt. 23:27).
Even His disciples showed intolerance in criticizing a simple soul’s worship. But the Lord defends her: “Let her alone.  .  .  .  She hath wrought a good work.  .  .  . She hath done what she could” (Mark 14:6,8).
Spiritual intolerance also undermines that vital character which ought to mark all the children of God—peacemakers (Matt. 5:9). We desperately need peacemakers and a peacemaking spirit today (2 Cor. 13:11; James 3:18) if assemblies are to be preserved.
Those who, in the name of spirituality, become intolerant of behavior differing from their own act in the same sad spirit as the disciples who forbade one from casting out devils because he “followeth not us” (Mark 9:38)! While ever remaining intolerant of evil, let each seek in divine love—as much as lies in us—to be tolerant of each one purchased with the precious blood of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Editorial: Questions

A striking specimen of young manhood, he came from an illustrious family abundantly blessed with wealth and fame. They were part of the most spiritually and materially privileged nation in the world. In his early years the young man evidently was obedient, diligent, upright and even gave indication of spiritual stirrings. Besides all this, the nation’s highest position of honor and power was presented to him.
Years later he committed suicide.
Shortly before that awful act, he probably witnessed the death of three of his sons, slain in a battle he was leading. He left a legacy of pride, covetousness, anger, deceit, violence and spiritual corruption. Most horrible of all, he left this world seemingly without any proof or display of faith in God.
We would do well to consider why Saul, king of Israel, came to such an awful end. But, for Christian parents, we feel it is even more important to question how he began such a disastrous course.
Saul’s family background and his character as a youth are described in two verses found in 1 Samuel 9:12. “Now there was a man of Benjamin, whose name was Kish, the son of Abiel, the son of Zeror, the son of Bechorath, the son of Aphiah, a Benjamite, a mighty man of power. And he had a son, whose name was Saul, a choice young man, and a goodly: and there was not among the children of Israel a goodlier person than he: from his shoulders and upward he was higher than any of the people.” What blessings are described here!
But, Christian fathers, you have been given far greater spiritual blessings than all the material wealth, prominence and physical presence that belonged to Kish and his son Saul.
Are you making use of them in order that your dear family might be profited, now and for eternity?
Your children know.
Modeling Grace
Saul was of the tribe of Benjamin whose population, under the righteous judgment of God, was almost completely destroyed many years before. Yet one of those men mentioned in Saul’s lineage was living during that very time. Only six hundred men out of many thousands of the tribe of Benjamin lived (Judg. 20:47-48), and one of those whose life was spared was Saul’s ancestor. Kish and his family owed their very existence to the sovereign grace of God.
So do you, dear dad and mom.
Consider where you might be today but for the sovereign grace of God. Is such free, divine grace having its practical effect in your life so that it might be said of you, “Ye were ensamples [models (JND)] to all that believe  .  .  .  also in every place your faith to God-ward is spread abroad; so that we need not to speak anything” (1 Thess. 1:7-8)?
Are you being a model of grace and faith to those precious treasures God has entrusted to you?
Your children know.
Claiming Promises
Saul’s father Kish was a “mighty man of power [or wealth (JND)],” and thus Saul had no need in his youth.
Your Father, dear parents, is infinitely more wealthy—infinitely more powerful. It is He who has made exceeding great and precious promises to you through His beloved Son, Jesus Christ.
Have you familiarized yourself with them? Have you diligently claimed them—walked in and enjoyed them—for yourself first, and then for your family? Or do you think that the world’s careers, hobbies, interests and expectations hold promise of more satisfaction than your loving Father will give you?
Your children know.
Investing Talents
Saul was personally blessed with health, strength and vigor. But what God had given him for the benefit of His dear people was eventually used—wasted—seeking his own honor and glory.
Dear parents! How are you using all the good things—the exceeding abundance of physical and mental health—which He has given you?
Many who read this periodical live in affluent, well-favored Western lands. Has such liberty and abundance been used to draw your beloved little flock closer to the Lord Jesus? Or have you allowed their hearts (and yours) to be stolen by this present evil world, ruled by the wicked angel of light?
What have you done with those talents which have been given you for the blessing of your family? Have they been invested in light of eternity, that they might be returned with interest to the One who entrusted them to you?
Are the years of healthy vigor and strength that the Lord has granted you—while your children’s lives are molded—being spent wisely? Have you expended some of that energy to have personal time alone with your Lord—learning to know Him better and to follow Him more closely?
Your children know.
Proper Priorities
“The asses of Kish Saul’s father were lost. And Kish said to Saul his son  .  .  .  arise, go seek the asses. And he passed through the land  .  .  .  but they found them not.  .  .  .  Saul said to his servant  .  .  .  Come, and let us return; lest my father leave caring for the asses, and take thought for us” (1 Sam. 9:3-5).
While Kish had everything a man of his day could desire, what he didn’t have caused tragic consequences in the life of his son Saul.
Kish didn’t have his priorities straight.
“Asses” (donkeys—an unclean animal to the Jew) were more important to him for the wealth and prestige they represented than his own son.
How about your priorities, dads and moms? Do you esteem “the words of His mouth more than my necessary food” (Job 23:12)? Do you take time to sit at Jesus’ feet and hear His words (Luke 10:39), finding them to be “sweeter than honey [nature’s sweetness] to my mouth” (Psa. 119:103)?
And what about your children? Have the material things of this fleeting life—career expectations, wealth, attainment and respectability—become more important than the family which God has entrusted to you?
Your children watch and learn by example. If the asses (the things of this world) are most important in your life, be assured they will also become the most important objects of your children’s lives—becoming more important than fellowship with the Lord Jesus, more important than reading and prayer, and more important than family and assembly.
What are your priorities in life?
Your children know.
Wanted: Fathers and Mothers
One of Saul’s most heartbreaking comments recorded is this: “Come, and let us return; lest my father leave caring for the asses, and take thought for us.”
Saul knew he took second place to the asses. He knew he couldn’t find or provide for his father what was most important to the heart of Kish.
Parents, consider carefully these sad words—spoken by a youth who was being molded by his father into a self-seeking, proud, violent, faithless man who would eventually take his own life: “And take thought for us.” Saul realized that he was no more important to his father than a servant—else he would have said, “Take thought for me.”
Dads and moms, are you displaying your love for the Lord Jesus as well as the love and grace of the Lord Jesus to your precious children?
They know.

Editorial: "See That Ye Fall Not Out by the Way"

Why did Joseph utter this solemn warning to his brethren, so recently restored to full and happy fellowship? He knew their hearts and knew well the spirit of jealousy and pride which had motivated their treatment of him. In spite of their restoration, Joseph realized that that same wicked spirit—in spite of all their blessings—could break out against each other during the journey to Goshen.
A Sad History
They had hated Joseph—but he loved them.
They were jealous of him—he sought their welfare.
They conspired to kill him—he spared their lives.
They sold him as a slave—he freely restored their liberty, giving them food, money and clothing.
They took from him the beautiful coat that his father had made for him—he gave them Goshen, the best of the land of Egypt.
They sat down to eat and take their ease—he suffered thirst and grief in the pit and the prison.
They lied to their father about their awful deed—he confessed them as his brethren before Pharaoh.
The brothers took—Joseph gave.
There could only be one appropriate response to such kindness—walking together in love and unity.
A Stern Warning
Now they are about to leave Joseph’s presence to bring their father Jacob and their families down to him in Egypt. Joseph provided them the power to come (Pharaoh’s wagons), full provisions for the way (clothing, silver, food and asses laden with good things), and a promise of the best of Egypt awaiting them (the good of the land). All this make his last words of warning to them very solemn: “See that ye fall not out by the way.”
What Kind of Journey?
The brothers had a very serious decision to make. They could decide to enjoy Joseph’s bountiful and gracious gifts—they could choose to speak of his love while enjoying happy fellowship together, or they could decide to argue about which of them was most guilty or most repentant. They could choose to spend their journey trying to set each other right and, in doing so, lose harmony and peace.
The Word of God does not record what choice they made. But the tender meeting between Jacob and his beloved Joseph (Gen. 46:29) seems to suggest that they made that trip without fighting.
“Written for Our Learning”
This account has been “written for our learning” (Rom. 15:4), that we—Christ’s brethren (Heb. 2:12)—might walk together in love, enjoying peace on our way to the Father’s house (John 14:14).
Is such a thing possible? The Bible answers. “Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children; and walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given Himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweetsmelling savor” (Eph. 5:12).
Divine Provisions for Christians
None have been given more than the children of God. “His divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness” (2 Peter 1:3).
No other people have been more blessed. “The God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ” (Eph. 1:3; see also Rom. 6:23; 8:32; Eph. 3:20; 1 Peter 4:11).
No other people are more loved. “As the Father hath loved Me, so have I loved you: continue ye in My love” (John 15:9; see also John 17:23; Rom. 5:5; Gal. 2:20; Eph. 5:25).
No other people have access to greater power. “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me” (Phil. 4:13). “Strengthened with all might, according to His glorious power” (Col. 1:11; see also Heb. 4:16; Phil. 3:10; Col. 2:10; 2 Tim. 1:7).
No other people have recourse to such unlimited wealth. “But my God shall abundantly supply all your need according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 4:19 JND; see also Eph. 2:7; 3:8; Col. 1:27). Having provided all these blessings, God has faithfully warned His dear children, like Joseph’s brethren of old: “See that ye fall not out by the way.”
A Right Thing - a Wrong Spirit
What has been the response of the church to His command to walk in love and peace with one another? For the past 2000 years it has been torn by pride, bitterness and contention—far more than any mere earthly society, nation or government.
With angry spirits, believers, in the name of faithfulness to Christ, have waged war with each other, rather than waging war with the enemy.
With chafed spirits, the truth of God has been defended—rather than spoken “in love” (Eph. 4:15).
With demanding spirits, the Word of God has been used as a sword against the weak brother “for whom Christ died” (1 Cor. 8:11) rather than being used as “the sword of the Spirit” against “spiritual power of wickedness in the heavenlies” (Eph. 6:12-17 JND).
Though frequently warned that a right thing can be done in a wrong spirit, we sadly must admit that this very thing has repeatedly happened. While rightly desiring to never give up the divine truth which we have received (Prov. 23:23; 1 Tim. 3:15; Rev. 3:11), let us never excuse an ungracious, provoked spirit towards our brethren by pleading faithfulness to Christ.
Bearing and Forbearing
Whatever spiritual circumstances may exist, divine testimony is clear. The Lord desires that love, forbearance and grace be shown, even as we seek to hold fast and support the precious truth of God.
The Lord Jesus Christ personally bore in grace with every kind of insult, unbelief and mockery, yet “when He was reviled, reviled not again; when He suffered, He threatened not; but committed Himself to Him that judgeth righteously” (1 Peter 2:23). He who maintained the truth of God in perfection, when hanging on that awful cross, cries out, “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34). Those who wanted to cast Him over the hill also wondered at the gracious words which proceeded out of the mouth (Luke 4:22) of Him who was “full of grace and truth.”
Paul taught the Romans to “follow after the things which make for peace.” He told the Corinthians that God has “called us to peace.” He reminded the Galatians that peace, long-suffering and gentleness are some of the blessed fruits of the Spirit. He besought two sisters—Euodias and Syntyche—to “be of the same mind in the Lord.” He directed the Thessalonians to “be at peace among” themselves. How this dear servant of Christ—who faithfully defended the truth he taught—longed that brethren might dwell together in the unity, love and peace of that truth!
“Ye Know Not What Manner of Spirit Ye Are of”
When the tribe of Benjamin defended and protected the wicked deed of the men of Gibeah, the holiness of Jehovah demanded vindication. But Israel’s angry spirit against their erring brother’s wickedness (“Which of us shall go up first to the battle against the children of Benjamin?”—Judg. 20:18) was solemnly and painfully dealt with first (see Judg. 19-21).
May we take to heart the rebuke our blessed Lord Jesus gave to His dear disciples in Luke 9:55. Oh! that we might always deal with our brethren in Christ with a soft spirit and in godly fear and trembling. Let us not fall out by the way with each other.
“Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!” (Psa. 133:1).

Editorial: "Take the Young Child"

“When they [the wise men] were departed, behold, the angel of the Lord appeareth to Joseph in a dream, saying, Arise, and take the young child and His mother, and flee into Egypt, and be thou there until I bring thee word: for Herod will seek the young child to destroy Him. When he arose, he took the young child and His mother by night, and departed into Egypt” (Matt. 2:13-14).
These two verses present sweet comfort for parents who are raising children in this dark world. The principles it contains are priceless—divine wisdom for guiding and preserving them. However, the time that parents have to hide their little children is exceedingly short—just a few precious years. Oh! that we all might pray earnestly for needed strength, wisdom and courage for parents.
Headship and Nurturing
“The angel of the Lord appeareth to Joseph in a dream, saying, Arise, and take the young child and His mother.”
It is to Joseph as head of his house that the angel of the Lord gives instructions concerning his family. While it was through a dream in Joseph’s day, today such instruction will be received by daily prayer, reading of God’s Word, and walking in fellowship with the Father.
If a father doesn’t fulfill his God-given place of spiritual leadership, the mother may feel pressured to assume that role while also trying to maintain her place in the home as nurturer. Though the Lord surely appreciates and blesses personal faithfulness, such failure on the father’s part may lead to sad results in the lives of the dear children.
In verse 11 we read that when the wise men were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary His mother. This is the divine and lovely pattern for families—a mother found nurturing and caring for her child in the house, while it is to Joseph—the head of the house—that the angel comes with instructions for the care and protecting of his family.
Flee or Fight?
“And flee.”
Joseph was to flee from Herod the destroyer, not stand up and fight against him. Today believers are becoming increasingly engaged in organized conflicts against evil. Christians feel tremendous pressure to “return our country to Christian values” through various social, political and religious movements. But the word to Joseph was to flee from the murderous Herod, not to try to change his mind. We will be far more effective (and feel far more persecution too) if we simply and faithfully live our Christianity in the fear of God, each day.
Fleeing Into Egypt
“Into Egypt.”
Though it may seem strange that the Lord Jesus was to be taken into Egypt to escape Herod’s wrath, we must remember that these divine, unerring instructions have been recorded for our learning.
It was to Egypt that Joseph called his father Jacob and his brethren, that he might preserve them from famine. It is not the Lord’s will that we go out of the world in seeking to preserve our families, for He prayed to the Father, “I pray not that Thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that Thou shouldest keep them from the evil” (John 17:15). Thus Christian parents can find a place to flee, using this world as a hiding place (though not abusing it; 1 Cor. 7:31).
Those who raised families in past generations used means which may not be available to or wise for families to use today. Public education, for example, had far more Christian character. It was provided in relatively safe, stable environments and was family oriented. Parents sent children to public school with some confidence that their Christian values would not be purposely undermined.
Today, however, many find that the flood of violence, corruption and godlessness in public schools in many communities is part of an active subversion of Christianity—making it a dangerous place for our children.
Seeking a right path for our little ones today requires fresh, deep soul exercise before the Lord.
Hiding Is Not Attaching or Promoting
Let us also remember that the things of the world used to hide children must never be allowed to become more important than our blessed Lord Jesus Christ. There are multitudes of beneficial enjoyments and activities—but never are they to become substitutes for Christ and that satisfaction which is found alone in Him. Now Christ alone can satisfy.
Remember, dear dads and moms, the key word is hide. Whatever means is used in this world to hide your children from the destroyer will have a separating influence. It will certainly not be that which promotes them in, displays their talents to, or attaches their hearts with this present evil world.
Egypt Is Not Our Final Destination
“And be thou there until I bring thee word.”
The time would come when Joseph would be told by the Lord to bring his family out of Egypt. But attached hearts cannot be easily or willingly taken from an object which has captured them. Ever impress on your dear children that this world is but a temporary place for those who look “for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God” (Heb. 11:10).
Many have read The Hiding Place, the incredible World War II story by Corrie ten Boom. It tells how her family hid Jews from their enemies in secret compartments built inside their house. As long as those Jews who fled to the ten Boom’s house for refuge remained hidden out of sight, they were safe from the destroyer. But we are sure that none of those hidden there became attached in heart to the tiny, stifling spaces where they lived in such fear those long, dreary months. How strange, after the war, when the Jews were again free to enjoy the full freedom of that land, to have found one who wanted to go back to those dark, secret rooms in the ten Boom house and live there the rest of his life!
While this world, in God’s mercy, is available as a temporary place to hide our little ones—it is only until the Lord brings word to leave. Never allow a hiding place to become a final destination. The Lord commanded Lot to leave Sodom and escape to the mountain for safety. But his wife and children (except for two unmarried daughters) would not go and were destroyed in that solemn judgment.
Who Is the Enemy?
“Herod will seek the young child to destroy Him.”
Satan is the god and prince of this world (2 Cor. 4:4). Be very clear about this, dear parents: The enemy is seeking nothing less than the destruction of your children. Never underestimate his hatred of you, your marriage and your children—even as he hates all that is of God. Never underestimate the trouble he will take to destroy those precious things. Be faithful and diligent, remembering that greater is He that is in you than he that is in the world.
Fleeing Immediately and at Night
“When he arose, he took the young child and His mother by night, and departed.”
Immediate obedience to the Lord’s Word is so vitally important—immediate, unquestioned obedience. “To obey is better than sacrifice” (1 Sam. 15:22).
Fleeing must be done by night—that very time when it is most difficult to see. To flee with your family requires faith. Parents may not always be able to see immediate results, nor will they be able to see all the dangers. But faith obeys, trusting God for the results, even when all is dark. “By faith Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house” (Heb. 11:7).
No Excuses Needed
Night also suggests that fleeing shouldn’t be made a matter of public display. Paul escaped at night (Acts 9:25) so that he would not have to meet those who sought to kill him. Parents needn’t justify their actions of faith and obedience to a world that spit in the blessed face of God’s well-beloved Son! In observing this energy of faith in Christian parents, the world, which has none, will only seek to hinder and turn aside these vitally important exercises.
Our children have God-given talents and abilities. The world recognizes this too and will actively seek to steal them if allowed to see them. But those things have been given for the blessing of God’s dear people, not the advancement of this wicked world. Hide their talents from the robberat night—even as you hide themselves from the destroyer.
And ever remember that the Lord Jesus spent His childhood, teen and young adult years hidden and virtually unknown except to those in the little village of Nazareth. Yet He was God the Son—Creator of all!
May God grant the energy of faith to dear parents—that they will arise and flee to hide their little ones so that they may be preserved for Christ.

Editorial: The Father's Delight

“Then I was by Him, as one brought up with Him: and I was daily His delight” (Prov. 8:30).
“Behold, a voice out of the heavens saying, This is My beloved Son, in whom I have found My delight” (Matt. 3:17 JND).
“Unto the Son He saith, Thy throne, O God, is forever and ever” (Heb. 1:8).
“Looking upon Jesus as He walked, he saith, Behold the Lamb of God!” (John 1:36).
The Lord Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, today and forever, ever was in past eternity, is now, and forever will be the supreme Object of delight of the Father’s heart. Oh! that He may be that supreme Object of delight to each redeemed soul!
So delighted with Him is our God that He has given us four inspired accounts of His beloved Son, each shedding a different light and view of His glories—providing innumerable reasons for the delight which the Father has in the Son of His love.
But long before the gospels were completed, God’s delight in His Son was hidden in the Old Testament. Indeed, Christ is there found everywhere, for the Lord Himself has said of those Scriptures that they are they which testify of Him (John 5:39).
In the familiar and lovely story of Joseph we see pictured the glories that are fulfilled in the gospels. There, too, we find a most precious reason for searching out and finding our pleasure and occupation in learning more of the glories of Christ.
The Son of God - the Gospel of John
“Now Israel loved Joseph more than all his children, because he was the son of his old age: and he made him a coat of many colors” (Gen. 37:3).
When Moses gave instructions for building the tabernacle, specific colors and materials are mentioned—such as blue, purple, scarlet and fine twined linen. Each pictures in some way the person and work of the Christ. They present to us, we may say, His glories which we as men are capable of understanding.
But when Jacob made his beloved Joseph a coat of many colors, none of the colors are mentioned. May we not learn from this that there are glories belonging to the Son which only the Father can value—glories infinitely beyond our finite understanding, for they speak of One who dwells in “the light which no man can approach unto; whom no man hath seen, nor can see” (1 Tim. 6:16).
What a solemn course, then, man has taken against His Creator. He who came clothed in such glories (“we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father”) was stripped of them by wicked man, and that unspeakably beautiful garment of glories was, as it were, sent back to the Father covered in the blood of His beloved Son.
In the Gospel of John we find those glories specially revealed which particularly display the eternal, only begotten Son who is in the bosom of the Father (John 1:18). What unspeakable privilege to be called to view, in worship and adoration, that One who was the Word “made flesh, and dwelt among us  .  .  .  full of grace and truth” (John 1:14).
The Messiah - the Gospel of Matthew
“Israel said to Joseph  .  .  .  Come, that I may send thee.  .  .  .  And he said to him, Go, I pray thee, see after the welfare of thy brethren, and after the welfare of the flock; and bring me word again” (Gen. 37:13-14 JND).
Here it is not Jacob as father sending Joseph, his beloved son, clothed in a garment displaying his delight in Joseph. It is Israel who sends Joseph, as we may say, in an official capacity and with a specific purpose—“see after the welfare of thy brethren.” Does this not remind our hearts of how the Lord Jesus is presented to us in Matthew—revealed there as the son of David. It is the Lord Jesus clothed in His official glory as the Messiah, sent by God to His beloved earthly people and sent to them to see after their welfare. What times of refreshing would they have immediately enjoyed had they received Him!
Oh! that today we would willingly and happily bow before our Lord Jesus, owning and confessing Him as Lord—Lord of our life and Lord over all (Rom. 14:11; Phil. 2:10-11)—He who has been sent to see after our welfare.
The Son of Man - the Gospel of Luke
“Joseph was brought down to Egypt.  .  .  .  And the Lord was with Joseph, and he was a prosperous man” (Gen. 39:12).
How humbling it must have been for dear Joseph, upon leaving the love and fellowship of his father’s house, to end as a slave in Egypt. Yet in such adverse circumstances the moral glory of Joseph shines brightly. He is called a prosperous man, whether in Potiphar’s house or Pharaoh’s prison. He maintains himself always in moral purity, fleeing from the wicked seductress who sought to entice him into sin. Indeed, in every step of Joseph’s life in Egypt as recorded by the Spirit, we see a wonderfully bright display of moral glory.
Yet illustrious as his life was, it fades to insignificance when compared with the path of the peerless Son of Man. Every step of the Lord’s life here (who came to do God’s will; Heb. 10:7) was perfectly pleasing, for He alone could say, “I do always those things that please Him” (John 8:29). What beautiful moral glories shine out of His path as Son of Man—His life the perfect example of all man should be for God! Ah! may we ever dig deeply into the treasure chest of His glories as found in the Gospel of Luke.
The Perfect Servant - the Gospel of Mark
“Pharaoh took off his ring from his hand, and put it upon Joseph’s hand, and arrayed him in vestures of fine linen, and put a gold chain about his neck  .  .  .  and they cried before him, Bow the knee: and he made him ruler over all the land of Egypt” (Gen. 41:42-43).
What glories Joseph acquired by faithfulness to God and obedience to those he served. Here we see the display of those acquired glories—the glories of a forgotten and hidden servant (Gen. 40:14; 41:9).
How this would turn our hearts to think upon that perfect Servant who came only to carry out in perfection the will of the One who sent Him.
Unnoticed, the glories of His Person veiled, the Lord Jesus was the One who “hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see Him, there is no beauty that we should desire Him” (Isa. 53:2). Yet only this Servant could—in word and deed—say in divine perfection, “I love my master, my wife, and my children; I will not go out free” (Ex. 21:5). What glories He has rightfully acquired, in His path of service here—glories that along with all others that are His will be fully displayed before wondering worlds in that day. Is not this the One of whom we read, “Behold My servant, whom I uphold; Mine elect, in whom My soul delighteth” (Isa. 42:1).
His Glories - Seeing and Telling Them
“Ye shall tell my father of all my glory in Egypt, and of all that ye have seen” (Gen. 45:13).
As we enjoy, in some little measure, the infinite glories of our Lord Jesus Christ, let us remember that there is something far more important than the delight they afford us. Think of the delight it is to the Father’s heart to hear His children tell Him of the glories they have seen in His beloved Son!
Surely we see pictured in Joseph’s command to his brethren the desire of our Saviour that we tell the Father of all that we have seen of His glory. There is no limit to His glories we see here, and all eternity will be too short to exhaust them there. May His glories cause us—with hearts of praise, full and overflowing—to be eager worshippers of the blessed God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Editorial: "You Bet I Do!"

The bridegroom at a wedding we recently attended was asked the traditional question. Did he intend to take the young woman standing by him as his lawfully wedded wife, loving her faithfully at all times and in all circumstances?
His sweet answer was not the traditional “I do.”
His immediate and joyful response—“You bet I do”—rang out to the delight of all there.
He intended no humor by his words. They were uttered with eager and happy certainty. None had the slightest doubt as to the reality and commitment of his love and desire for the one who became his wife that day.
The Bridegroom’s Desire
We see a similar spirit of such eager, joyful delight in the Song of Songs. Reading this lovely book ought to produce a stirring in our hearts as we realize how very much our blessed Saviour desires a like response from each of His own.
In chapter 2:10-11 the bridegroom says to His beloved, “Rise up, my love, my fair one, and come away. For, lo, the winter is past.” His words were meant to stir her heart. He could never be satisfied to have her affections for him characterized by winter—a time when there is no display of life or warmth. Thus he stirs her heart: The springtime of their love, with all its life, beauty and joy, was come.
He wants a response from her heart, one that will blossom and produce its own wonderful and beautiful fruit. Then, filled with joy and expectation at receiving that from her, the bridegroom repeats, “Arise, my love, my fair one, and come away.”
But he senses a hesitation in her response—some little coldness in her affections for him. So he further seeks to arouse her. “O my dove, that art in the clefts of the rock, in the secret places of the stairs, let me see thy countenance, let me hear thy voice; for sweet is thy voice, and thy countenance is comely” (ch. 2:14).
To know that his beloved dwelt safely (in the clefts of the rock) was not enough to satisfy the bridegroom’s heart, for he must see her and hear her. But for that she must be near him so that she might fully enjoy his company and respond to his love.
The Bride’s Response
At the wedding previously mentioned, when the bride was asked the same question, she replied with the traditional “I do.” But her radiant face and soft voice spoke volumes to the bridegroom and the rest of us. The young man watched his beloved’s face as she answered, and her countenance and voice (as well as her answer) brought a glad smile to his face.
The bride in the Song of Songs also responds to her beloved. In chapter 2:16 she affirms that “my beloved is mine.” Later, longing for her bridegroom who has likened her to a beautiful, private garden blooming in the spring (ch. 4:12-15), she finds it the delight of her heart to be able to satisfy his. She says, “Let my beloved come into his garden, and eat his pleasant fruits” (ch. 4:16).
After additional exercise and stirring of heart, she gladly tells others that “my beloved is  .  .  .  the chiefest among ten thousand” (ch. 5:10). She further meditates on his loveliness while describing with delight his glories and beauties that have won her heart. The bride then concludes by saying that to her “he is altogether lovely” (vs. 16).
Near the end of this book, the bride sums up those affections of her heart that have been drawn out by the patient love and tender desire of the bridegroom. She says, “I am my beloved’s, and his desire is toward me” (ch. 7:10). This is more than she had said earlier in chapter 2:16. There she was content to know that her beloved was hers as she was his. But now, with freshly stirred affections she revels in the fact that not only is he hers, but his love and desire are to her—and she is the one who alone can satisfy his heart.
Oh! dear Christian, think how infinitely more the blessed Lord Jesus is looking for, yea, yearning for a heart response of love from each of His own. Are we satisfied just to know that we have been bought with a price? His blessed heart cannot be satisfied with that. He is infinitely worthy of a much greater response. May it be the longing of our hearts to think on His loveliness and glory and to give Him what He so desires, the overflowing love of our hearts (Rev. 3:20).
“Think on me when it shall be well with thee” (Gen. 40:14). “With desire I have desired to eat  .  .  . with you” (Luke 22:15). “Lovest thou Me?” (John 21:15-17).


“That ye may stand perfect and complete in all the will of God” (Col. 4:12). This desire takes in both moral and doctrinal exercise. A brother once said, “Mr. ___ is a very godly man, and I would happily fellowship with him. But as to his doctrine, I would have nothing of it!” How sad—supporting moral uprightness, while disregarding the importance of doctrinal truth. “Beloved  .  .  .  earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints” (Jude 3). The word earnestly suggests that we contend for the truth in a right spirit and in sincerity.
M. Priestly (from a letter)


Recently I’ve read that taking notes “is one of the finest ways to enrich one’s mind and store up expressions and ideas that can be used to profit later on. Notebooks have long memories.”
So, the next time you attend a Bible conference, I would recommend that you bring along pen and paper. Why come away with less when you can come away with more?
A young believer

"Feed the Flock": "Do It Heartily"

A naval vessel patrolling in the South Pacific during World War II one hot, August night became engaged in a fierce battle. At midnight, an exhausted nineteen-year-old signalman finished his watch, and, placing his standard issue rubber life belt next to him, lay down still wearing his uniform. Two hours later a loud explosion awakened the sailor. Strapping on his life belt he rushed on deck. There, in the chaos and destruction of the raging battle, he received wounds to his legs. As he painfully made his way towards a gun turret, another explosion blew him off the ship and into the dark waters of the shark-infested ocean.
Thankfully his life belt immediately inflated and kept him afloat until, four agonizing hours later, another American warship rescued him. Before long the sailor, with his legs bandaged, was back on board his own ship. However, the vessel was so badly damaged that it could not be saved. The “abandon ship” order was given and once more the young sailor found himself, with his life belt, in the ocean.
Eventually another American warship picked him up—one of just a few survivors from his sunken ship. He was issued a clean uniform and later was sent stateside on leave. Though his old uniform was discarded, because the rubber life belt had been manufactured by a tire company in the very town in which he lived, the young man kept it as a souvenir.
Sometime later, he was sitting at the kitchen table in his home, telling his mother about the terrible battle. During their talk, she mentioned that she had gotten a wartime job at the local tire plant. Hearing this, the surprised sailor went to get his “souvenir.”
Placing it on the table, he said, “Look at that, Mom. My life belt was made right here at your factory.”
Taking the rubber belt in her hands, she studied the label. It was now her turn to be surprised. Looking at her son with tears, she whispered, “I work as an inspector, checking these very belts. This one is stamped with my inspector’s number!”
Let’s remember that in every area of life, Christians have a far greater reason for living faithfully, diligently and virtuously than this mother who toiled in that factory so many years ago.
We are to “do all to the glory of God” (1 Cor. 10:31), while carrying out “all in the name of the Lord Jesus” (Col. 3:17), and to “do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men” (Col. 3:23).
A day is coming when all that we have done in this life will be reviewed, and each thing that has pleased our blessed Saviour will receive His approval (2 Cor. 5:10)—an infinitely better reward than the joy that mother’s heart received when seeing the result of her diligent faithfulness.

"Feed the Flock": "Doing Good"

Shortly after beginning his daily patrol on the freeways in a large metropolitan area, a policeman received an alert code signaling that not far away an infant or small child was choking. Acknowledging the message, he switched on his warning lights and began speeding by traffic. Seconds were precious—the difference between life and death.
Little more than two miles down the freeway the officer neared an exit ramp—the only one that would get him to the address in time. But it had just been closed and was blocked by construction equipment. Skidding to a stop, he jumped out of the car to see if there were any way he could get down to the residential street below. But there was none—and valuable seconds were ticking away.
“Hey officer, can I help you?”
He looked up to see the operator of a huge earthmover talking to him. In a few short words he yelled, “Choking baby. I need to get to that street.”
“Follow me! I’ll make you a road down to it,” shouted the young man.
The officer followed the immense bulldozer as it carved a path to the bottom of the embankment. Once again free and speeding down the street, he was soon turning into the driveway of the home. A frantic, sobbing young woman ran to his car, shouting, “My baby’s choking and blue.  .  .  .  He’s in there.”
The officer ran to the house to find a tiny choking form. Quickly catching the baby and holding it upside down, he firmly thumped its back. Immediately something popped out of its mouth and bounced on the floor—a small blue button.
His face now returning to a healthy red, the infant thanked the officer by screaming angrily between gulps of air. Handing him back to his trembling mother, he said, “He should be fine now.”
The next day, the officer, again patrolling the same freeway, stopped at the construction site. He intended to thank the young man and tell him that his quick action had saved a tiny life. The operator, seeing him, stopped his bulldozer, jumped down, and came running towards him, waving excitedly.
Surprised by these actions, the patrolman began to tell him, “Yesterday  .  .  .  that little baby   .  .  .  ” But he got no further, for the young workman broke in breathlessly: “I know, I know! That was my son!”
Who knows what the present and eternal consequences of an act of kindness may bring? “As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith” (Gal. 6:10). However, because of the flood of corruption and violence today, we must be wise as serpents, seeking our God’s direction and guidance, as we go about looking to do good.
We live in a world full of immense needs that can only be met through the glorious light of the knowledge of God and His love. May that light shine brightly in the lives of the redeemed (Phil. 2:15).
“But ye, brethren, be not weary in well doing” (2 Thess. 3:13).

"Feed the Flock": "Gypsies Can't Be Saved!"

The following account—summarized from the notes of a missionary—took place recently.
“Gypsies can’t be saved!”
“Why not?”
“Because one must change their ways if they are to be saved, and gypsies can never change.”
Such was the rather prejudiced and wrong conclusion drawn during a conversation between a Romanian Christian and an American missionary. Many gypsies live in this former satellite of the old Soviet Union. Since the collapse of Communism, the gospel has largely had free access into Romania.
But like this Romanian Christian, many believe that a person must make an effort to change in order to be saved. The gypsy reputation of cunning, thievery, violence, begging and fortune-telling are seen as traits impossible for him to change—thus making his salvation impossible!
But in a gypsy village named Barbulesti—a place previously so violent that even the police feared to enter it—the light of the gospel has shone, and many gypsies have been saved. Most of the gypsy believers are very, very poor, with few clothes and little to eat. This is because, after they are saved, they have no jobs. Before they became Christians, they stole to take care of their needs. But when they accepted Christ as Saviour, the stealing stopped.
Now, very few of them can find honest employment, because most Romanians still insist that gypsies cannot change even if they profess to be Christians. Because of the mistaken perception of their countrymen, believers in Barbulesti live in great affliction, poverty and persecution.
On a recent Lord’s Day, the missionary went to visit the Christians there. He had to drive in a downpour which turned the road into mud and he was soon stuck. Some gypsies, walking from the train station to their homes, passed. Though they saw his trouble, none would stop to help. Passing by the missionary’s window, one laughingly shouted at him, “Don’t worry! Your brothers will help you!”
Sure enough, a few minutes later he saw a crowd of over 40 men running toward him through the downpour. Though all were dressed in the best clothing they owned—clothing only worn on the Lord’s Day—without hesitation they waded into the mud and pushed the van free.
Let us who live in these affluent Western lands allow our hearts to be deeply exercised about redeeming the time. Oh! that we might both live and preach the glorious gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ!
“If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new” (2 Cor. 5:17).
“Faith without works is dead” (James 2:20,26).
“That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world; holding forth the word of life” (Phil. 2:15-16).

"Feed the Flock": His Way in the Storm (Nahum 1:3)

A story is told about a shipwreck that occurred during a violent storm, many years ago. Only one man survived the terrible disaster. Having been washed up on a small, deserted island, the man, a Christian, earnestly prayed daily that God would send rescuers to find him. Each day, he eagerly scanned the horizon hoping to see a ship. But each day ended in growing disappointment.
The lonely survivor eventually managed to build a hut out of some of the driftwood that had floated ashore from his sunken ship. Though very small and crude, the little shanty gave some protection from the elements and served as a storage place for the few possessions that he had been able to save. A tiny tin containing a few waterproof matches which He had allowed him to build a campfire.
Each morning the weary man would arise to begin another day of searching for food and water while collecting firewood. Late one afternoon he arrived back at his hut to find that a spark from the smoldering campfire had ignited the shelter. Now engulfed in flames, with smoke billowing into the clear sky, the fire consumed the hut and everything in it.
The man, filled with hopeless despair, cried out in angry desperation, “God, why did You do this to me?” There was no answer, nor did the grief-stricken castaway any longer have faith to expect one.
That night he fell into a fitful slumber only to be awakened early the next morning by a strange yet familiar sound. Staring out into the ocean, the castaway saw a large ship anchored in the bay. From it, a small rowboat was approaching the land.
When his rescuers reached shore, the dumbfounded man excitedly stuttered, “But, how did you know I was here?”
“Why,” came the puzzled answer, “we saw your smoke signal!”
All too often, when praying earnestly for a special burden, concern or need, the answer does not come in the way we expected. Then discouragement sets in and we begin to doubt our Lord’s love, His ability or His wisdom in ordering the events of our lives.
Perhaps there are times when the more earnestly we pray, the darker and more difficult our circumstances seem to become. Then, in the words of Acts 27:20, we may feel that indeed “all hope that we should be saved was  .  .  .  taken away.”
Dear Job certainly found it so during the heavy trials through which he passed. He cries, “The terrors of God do set themselves in array against me.” Later he complains that God “breaketh me with a tempest, and multiplieth my wounds without cause.” But one (Elihu) faithfully reminded Job that “all these things worketh God oftentimes with man, to bring back his soul from the pit.”
Finally, the Lord Himself spoke to Job out of “the whirlwind.” Job listened, repented and was greatly blessed after he confessed his self-righteousness and judged it as sin. (See Job 42:10.) “If God be for us, who can be against us?” (Rom. 8:31).

"Feed the Flock": Irreparable Damage

The great potter, Josiah Wedgwood, received a visitor at his factory one day. A nobleman had come to see his rare and costly pieces of work. A fifteen-year-old pottery apprentice took the nobleman on a tour of the factory, explaining all the pottery processes.
The nobleman—though very brilliant—was an infidel who used vile language and made mockery of sacred subjects. At first his apprentice-guide was very shocked at the nobleman’s wicked language, but after a little while the youth began to laugh at the man’s remarks. Mr. Wedgwood, who had followed them on the tour and had heard much of the conversation, was grieved and indignant at the way in which the nobleman spoke before the boy.
When back at his office, Mr. Wedgwood picked up a specially beautiful vase. Holding it, he told the nobleman the great effort and care with which it had been made. The nobleman, charmed with the beautiful shape, color and design of the vase, reached out to take it. But just as he did, its creator let it fall, smashing it to pieces on the ground.
The angry nobleman cried, “I wanted that one for myself, but you’ve ruined it by your carelessness!”
“My lord,” said the old potter quietly, “there are things far more precious than this vase—things which, when ruined, can never be restored. I can make another vase like this for you, but you can never give back to the boy, who has just left, the innocent faith and pure heart which you have destroyed by making light of sacred things and by using impure words in his presence.”
Regarding the tender minds and hearts of those young in faith and years, let us remember the solemn warning spoken by the One who said, “Suffer the little children to come unto Me.” “But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in Me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea” (Matt. 18:6). How fragile are the hearts and minds of children—how easily marred!
Let’s always remember that “evil communications corrupt good manners” (1 Cor. 15:33) as we seek to bear testimony to Christ “in all holy conversation and godliness” (2 Peter 3:11). Our blessed Lord was “holy, harmless, undefiled.” How important to walk before those we love and before the world in that way. “That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world” (Phil. 2:15).

"Feed the Flock": It Works!

Many years ago, Edward, a rowdy, willful young Englishman joined the Army. But the strict discipline of military life didn’t change his disobedient ways, and before long he had amassed a long list of “misconduct” demerits. Finally, he was told that if he appeared in military court again, he would be court-martialed. This sobered the wild, young man, and during that time, God in sovereign mercy caused the young rebel to hear and believe the gospel.
Several years later, he was sent to serve in a foreign outpost. The nights were bitterly cold on the mountain where he was stationed. Since there was no indoor place to hold prayer and Bible readings with other Christian soldiers, Edward was selected to go to the commanding officer and request the use of a barracks classroom one evening a week. But that officer—a highly disciplined and respected military leader—was violently opposed to religion.
The Colonel was curt and the meeting short. He summarily refused Edward’s request. Then, just as he was about to dismiss Edward, the Colonel snapped challengingly, “Soldier, what has your religion ever done for you?”
Without hesitation, Edward replied, “Sir, will you please look at my misconduct record? It will speak better than my words.”
An orderly was summoned and quickly produced the record. Mentioning a specific date he said, “Sir, please look at the entries made before that date and the entries made after it.” A long list of offences and insubordinations were listed before the date—one of the worst records the Colonel had ever seen. After the date, however, there was not one single entry found.
“How did this change come to pass?” enquired the puzzled Colonel.
“That date is the day I was saved, sir.”
The Colonel again studied the record. Then, looking at the young soldier, he said, “You shall have a classroom for two nights each week!”
“Thank you, sir. We will provide oil for the lamps.”
“No you won’t” was the terse reply. “The oil will be charged on the canteen funds.”
Later, the Colonel further agreed to allow the room to be used for a Sunday evening gospel service. Then, after many more soldiers were saved, he allowed them to build—at their own labor and expense—a room that was always to be kept open.
What a blessing a believer who lives what he believes is to others! Living a blameless and harmless life lays the necessary foundation to effective preaching (“holding forth”) of the Word of life.
Let’s not forget that true Christianity always works—first being demonstrated in our lives, and then by preaching, while the Holy Spirit is the One who brings eternal blessing to souls (1 Cor. 6:11).
“That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world; holding forth the word of life” (Phil. 2:15-16).

"Feed the Flock": "Something to Make Me Happy"

It had finally come—the day Becky had been waiting for—her promised birthday shopping trip. She had received a gift of money from her uncle to spend on a birthday present, and now, finally, she and her parents were on their way to the mall.
In the toy store she stopped and picked up a doll. After careful deliberation, holding out her hand which clutched the folded bills, she asked, “Do I have enough for this?” Assured that she did, she put the doll down and, finding another, repeated the question. While Becky was thus occupied, she happened to notice a little boy about her age and his dad enter the store. Though the boy was clean and neatly dressed, his clothes were shabby and worn.
Unlike Becky, he knew exactly what he wanted. Picking up a model airplane kit he turned to his dad with a questioning, pleading look. The man sadly but resolutely shook his head. “Sorry, Jake, but I told you we can’t afford that. Let’s go get the baseball.”
Observing this, Becky became quiet as if lost in thought. Then, running to the shelf, she picked up the model, turned to her parents and said, “I’m ready.”
Though quite puzzled, they followed her to the checkout counter. There, as Becky held out her money she whispered something to the clerk. Giving her a surprised smile and thanking her, the clerk placed the box under the counter.
Soon, the little boy and his dad came to the counter. As Becky and her parents stood watching, the clerk announced to the disconsolate little boy, “Congratulations! You’re my twenty-fifth customer today and you win a prize!” His eyes widened in surprised delight as she handed him the model airplane.
“Oh wow!” he exclaimed to his dad excitedly. “That’s just what I wanted!”
After they had left the store, Becky’s mom turned to her and asked, “Honey, why did you do that?”
“Didn’t Uncle Steve tell me to buy something for my birthday that would make me happy?”
Her dad and mom nodded in agreement.
With a glowing face, Becky replied, “Well, that made me happy!”
“Remember the words of the Lord Jesus  .  .  .  It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35).
“The liberal soul shall be made fat: and he that watereth shall be watered also himself” (Prov. 11:25).
It is infinitely more than mere money or material goods that believers have received as a free gift. No people on the earth are more blessed—richer—than we who know the Lord Jesus as Saviour, for each redeemed one can with joy say, “The Son of God, who loved me, and gave Himself for me” (Gal. 2:20). Having received eternal life, a free gift of God (Rom. 6:23), and all things that pertain to life and godliness (2 Peter 1:3), we now have the highest motive for following the command of our blessed Lord, “Freely ye have received, freely give” (Matt. 10:8).
Oh that it might be our daily joy to give to others from that boundless, divine treasure chest those true riches we possess in our Lord Jesus Christ!

"Feed the Flock": Tears of Disappointment and Gratitude

At the beginning of the 1900s a Scottish man longed to immigrate to the United States with his wife and nine children. Finally, after years of hard work and self-denial, the family had saved enough money to book passage on a ship to the U.S. Passports and other necessary papers were quickly completed, and the whole family excitedly waited for the day when they would start their voyage to a new life.
However, a few days before they were to sail, their youngest son was badly hurt in an attack by a stray dog he had been playing with. After stitching up his wounds, the doctor, due to fear of rabies, placed the family under a 14-day travel quarantine. So ended their dreams of going to America. On the day they were to have sailed, the father, angry at God as well as his boy, stood on the dock weeping as he watched the ship depart. He cursed his circumstances, reminding God how unjust all this was.
A few days later, tragic news spread throughout Scotland. Hundreds of lives had been lost when the mighty, unsinkable Titanic—the very ship he had booked passage on—had sunk in the Atlantic. Hearing this news at his work, the man ran home. Throwing his arms around his son and covering him with kisses and tears, he fell on his knees weeping and thanked God for His mercy to their family.
The blessed Lord Jesus Christ told His disciples, “What I do thou knowest not now; but thou shalt know hereafter” (John 13:7). It is oftentimes the same in our lives with many things which perhaps cause questioning of His perfect love and wisdom. Yet He has promised “to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think.” Someday, during this life or in that bright day to come, all will be made plain—and then we shall glorify and praise Him for His perfect ways of love in every detail of our lives.
At the end of Job’s time of trials and testings, when his eyes were opened to the infinite perfection and greatness of Jehovah (and his own littleness), he said, “I know that Thou canst do everything  .  .  .  things too wonderful for me, which I knew not.  .  .  .  I have heard of Thee by the hearing of the ear: but now mine eye seeth Thee” (Job 42:25).
Oh! for hearts to simply trust Him more—our blessed God and all wise and loving Father who has told us, “My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts” (Isa. 55:89).

"Feed the Flock": The Kitten and the Bucket

The brick wall of a well dug by a farmer ended in a narrow ledge many feet below ground level, just above the water line. One day he heard the pitiful cries of a little kitten that had fallen into the well. It was clinging to the ledge, unable to climb up the sheer brick wall and unwilling to release its claws’ tenuous, desperate grip on the slippery bricks.
The farmer got a bucket and gently lowered it into the well, beneath the kitten. The frightened little creature, seeing the empty, dry bucket hanging just below where it stood, fearfully and tentatively reached out its little paw, only to quickly draw back.
While continuing its heart-rending cries, the kitten stubbornly refused to release its hold on the ledge and trust the bucket. But finally, after a long time—exhausted and about to slip back into the water—it hesitantly ventured closer to the bucket. There was a soft bump, and by the weight of the bucket the farmer knew the kitten had committed itself to its safety. Moments later the little creature was set free from the gloomy depths of the well.
Perhaps most who have read this little account can easily put themselves in the place of the little kitten. One finds that it is very easy to talk about faith but hard to let go of natural reasonings and trust God when things look bleak.
Hebrews 11 is a wonderful confirmation of the blessings and rewards of faith. There we learn how Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham and so many others acted by faith in dark and confusing times. We are also reminded of Hezekiah, whose life of faith—recorded three times in the Bible (2 Kings 18; 2 Chron. 29; Isa. 36)—is not mentioned in Hebrews 11.
This godly king experienced attacks from enemies, rejection and insults from brethren, and serious illness. Though there was failure, we also see times in his life which shine as bright examples of simple faith and confidence in Jehovah.
One of Hezekiah’s greatest tests of faith came when all appeared hopeless. Jerusalem was surrounded by an implacable enemy—the army of the Assyrian, Sennacherib. Though Hezekiah tried to placate the wicked monarch by giving in to his greedy demands, the Assyrian was still not satisfied. Hezekiah found himself, as it were, about to slip off the ledge into the dark waters of destruction.
But the king’s faith held firm. Admitting their dire straits (2 Kings 19), he says to the prophet, “There is not strength to bring forth.  .  .  .  Lift up thy prayer for the remnant.” Dear Hezekiah and his people found safety in the bucket that was provided by Jehovah for their rescue. The answer comes back in these words, “Be not afraid.” A bit later, the Lord tells Hezekiah, “I will defend this city, to save it, for Mine own sake.” Let us put into practice the thoughts of the little hymn we often sing, “We’ll praise Him for all that is past, and trust Him for all that’s to come” (Little Flock Hymnbook, #23).
“Commit thy way unto the Lord; trust also in Him; and He shall bring it to pass” (Psa. 37:5).
Ed. (adapted from Gems From My Reading)

"Feed the Flock": The Reluctant Prisoner

“If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed” (John 8:36).
As we pulled into our garage, I saw something gray and furry in our cat’s eating and sleeping quarters. Our cat is black, so I knew right away this was an “uninvited visitor” who had used the two-way entrance door to make itself right at home. I climbed out of the van for a closer look and found myself looking into the masked face of a raccoon!
The inviting smell of cat food evidently had lured him into his new surroundings where he was contentedly eating what belonged to another. But the striped thief soon found his happiness replaced by fear. He wasn’t expecting or wanting company!
But there was a way of escape for him. He was standing right by the special two-way door which led to freedom and his home in the trees! All he had to do was push against it to gain his freedom.
But there was a big problem.
I was on the outside of that door.
Trying to shoo him into escaping, I began banging on the cage, which didn’t help matters.
The furry intruder became increasingly afraid. Realizing that he was no match for the human being who was so noisily thumping on his prison, he curled up into a trembling ball, perhaps trying to hide or maybe trying to pretend that I wasn’t there at all.
He didn’t know how much I wanted him out of my garage—not because I loved him, but because I wanted my cat to have his home back. I tried different ways to get him to leave—poking him, banging on the cage and making all sorts of noise.
The raccoon responded by curling into a tighter ball and, from time to time, peeking to see if I was still there. Finally, using a stick, I pushed open the special door by which he had originally entered his little prison. Still the raccoon didn’t seem to want to leave. Eventually, and rather reluctantly, he crawled out the door. Once outside and realizing he really was free, he quickly ran away into the woods.
Many people have been lured into Satan’s world by what looks so good, so exciting and so tasty. But they soon find themselves trapped—enslaved by the prince of this world (see John 12:31), the Devil.
Though the Lord Jesus is still near, offering true freedom to whosoever will (Rev. 22:17)—just like the escape door in the raccoon’s prison—people trapped in their sins are fearful, unhappy, not knowing, not believing or not caring that the Son of God offers them freedom, salvation and joy.
God’s wonderful freedom happens when a sinner believes that He raised Jesus from the dead and confesses Jesus as Lord with the mouth (Rom. 10:9).
Let’s not be like that raccoon, getting ourselves into bondage and neglecting the true freedom that is offered us by the Lord Jesus. He has every happiness and blessing to offer, and it’s right there, waiting for anyone—whosoever—to receive it from Him.
“Come unto Me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matt. 11:28).
R. Short (adapted)

"Feed the Flock": The Slingshot, the Duck and the Slave

The story is told of little Johnny who, when visiting his grandparents, went to the woods to target practice with his new slingshot—with little success. Returning to the house for lunch, he spied Grandma’s pet duck and on a sudden impulse, let fly with the slingshot. The duck, hit squarely in the head, dropped dead. Johnny was shocked and frightened.
Trying to cover his deed, he hid Grandma’s dead pet in the woodpile. Finishing, he looked up to see his sister Sally watching. Without a word, she turned and walked away. But after lunch, when Grandma said, “Sally, let’s wash the dishes,” she answered, “Grandma, Johnny told me he wanted to help.” Then she leaned next to her little brother and whispered, “Remember the duck.” Johnny did the dishes.
Later, Grandpa decided to take the kids fishing at the pond. But Grandma said, “I’m sorry, Sally, but you need to help me make supper.” Sally again replied, “Grandma, Johnny told me he wanted to help.” And again she whispered to her brother, “Remember the duck.” Johnny stayed to help—Sally went fishing.
This went on for several days until finally Johnny, tired and frustrated with doing his sister’s chores as well as his own, came to his Grandma and confessed what he had done.
Grandma knelt down and hugged her sobbing grandson. “I knew you did it, sweetheart. I was standing at the kitchen window and saw the whole thing. I also knew you didn’t mean to hurt my duck and I forgave you. But I was just waiting to see how long you would let Sally make a slave of you.”
This little parable provides an excellent illustration of Proverbs 28:13, “He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy.” The only way to prosper in our Christian life is to keep short accounts—to be ever ready to confess our sins, enjoying the sweet assurance of His forgiveness.
Adam and Eve were the first to experience the sorrow of trying to cover their sin. They found no joy hiding from their Creator among the trees of the garden, covered with the fig leaves they had sewed together. Yet, when all was brought into the open, God graciously made provision for them. “Unto Adam also and to his wife did the Lord God make coats of skins, and clothed them” (Gen. 3:21).
Achan, too, sought to cover his sin. The results for him and his family were tragic and solemn (Joshua 7)! How good it would have been if he had immediately confessed what he had done. Surely there would have been mercy for him and his family.
David also, a man after God’s own heart (1 Sam. 13:14; Acts 13:22), went to much effort trying to hide his sin with Bathsheba—all to no avail. Only when he made confession—“Against Thee, Thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in Thy sight”—was he restored to fellowship with the Lord (Psa. 51).
Let’s not try to hide our failures. Rather, like the prodigal in Luke 15, may we run quickly to our loving God saying, “Father, I have sinned.”
Y. P. Forum (adapted)

"Feed the Flock": The Unremembered Soldier

It was 1946 and Hank, back from the war, had just hitchhiked home, eagerly looking forward to a family reunion. But the joy of that happy time was soon overshadowed by his mom’s serious illness and hospitalization. Two days later, her kidneys began to fail. Desperately ill, the doctors said she couldn’t live out the night without a blood transfusion. But her blood type was a very rare kind—AB.
There were no family members whose blood matched, and there were no blood bank supplies available. There was no hope. The grieving family began to gather around their dying loved one to say a final good-bye. Leaving the hospital, Hank was driving to bring a brother to the hospital when he passed a soldier in uniform who also was hitchhiking home. Lost in his private world of grief, Hank felt no inclination to stop and give the soldier a ride.
But at that moment it seemed as though something made him pull over. Though Hank was too overcome with grief to even say “hello” to the hitchhiking soldier, the young man immediately noticed Hank’s tears and asked what was wrong. Hank explained his dying mom’s serious condition, her rare blood type, and the hopelessness of getting the blood needed.
For a moment it was very quiet in the car. Then the soldier suddenly said, “Get me to that hospital quick!” Hank looked at him questioningly. Without speaking, the soldier simply held up his dog tags. Hank could clearly read the information—AB!
Hank’s mother received the necessary transfusion and lived almost fifty more years. Yet to this day, neither Hank nor anyone else in his family is able to remember the soldier’s name whose blood saved his mom’s life.
Though it may be hard to imagine such a thing, we have similar examples recorded in the Bible.
The butler who was treated so kindly by Joseph quickly forgot his benefactor. What is even sadder is to read of Joseph’s plea to the butler: “Think on me when it shall be well with thee, and show kindness, I pray thee, unto me, and make mention of me unto Pharaoh, and bring me out of this house” (Gen. 40:14). How sad to read a little later, “Yet did not the chief butler remember Joseph, but forgat him” (vs. 23).
King Saul, the haughty leader of the children of Israel is another of example of one who was mightily blessed, yet without knowing his benefactor. He and all his army had trembled and fled from before the Philistine enemy, Goliath. In the strength of faith in the God of Israel, David slew the giant. Though David had rendered such a service, hear Saul’s words: “He said unto  .  .  .  the captain of the host, Abner, whose son is this youth? And Abner said, As thy soul liveth, O king, I cannot tell” (1 Sam. 17:55).
In Ecclesiastes 9:15 we read of the poor, wise man who delivered a city besieged by a mighty king, yet was remembered by no one. All of these accounts remind us of the Person and work of our Lord Jesus Christ. Do we remember Him as He has asked us to do?
“This do in remembrance of Me” (Luke 22:19).

Fellowship With Jesus

That which I desire for you is fellowship with Jesus in that which distinguished Him so preeminently above His fellows—repose of character. How blessed and how unearthly the calm, quiet, unruffled composure of the course! There was no haste, no hurry, because though on earth, yet still He was in heaven: His mind and His heart were deeply buried in His Father’s love. And may we not thus abide in Christ, and Christ in us?
G. V. Wigram (Gems From My Reading)

First Love

“Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love” (Rev. 2:4).
What is first love? It is absorbing love that finds full and complete satisfaction of heart in its object.
There was a time when Christ was all in all to the assembly at Ephesus. He satisfied their hearts, absorbed their thoughts and engrossed their energies. But that early freshness had passed, though they had not ceased to labor for Christ nor to love and suffer for Him. But all had now lost its early freshness—they had left their first love.
What had satisfied and absorbed them in the early days? Was it not the realization of Christ’s love for them? The love that passes knowledge—the love of Christ for His assembly—had been set before them. But as time passed, they had lost in measure the sense of His great love, and He can never be satisfied with such a condition.
H. Smith

A Foretaste of Heaven

Heaven - Believers’ Future Abode
Many believers want to know more of our heavenly abode—our destined heritage. The Holy Scriptures, of course, is the only place where light on this subject is to be found. Of those passages we all have personally appropriated over the years, the Apostle Paul’s brief reference in Philippians is perhaps the most widely repeated.
“To be with Christ; which is far better” (Phil. 1:23). In addition, we have David’s: “In Thy presence is fullness of joy; at Thy right hand there are pleasures forevermore” (Psa. 16:11). Isaiah informs us that heaven is a thrice-holy place. The attending angels were heard to say, “Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord of hosts: the whole earth is full of His glory” (Isa. 6:3).
In Acts 7:55-56, Stephen also saw heaven opened, and his testimony was that he saw the heavens opened and “the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God.” The Apostle Paul tells of his vision caught up to the third heaven. There he heard unspeakable words, “which it is not lawful [possible]  .  .  .  to utter” (2 Cor. 12:24). And, finally, the Apostle John tells of his experience to “come up hither.” He saw a throne set in heaven in the midst of a rainbow and the one sitting on the throne likened to the beauty of precious stones. Surrounding the throne were twenty-four elders clothed in white raiment with crowns of gold on their heads (Rev. 4).
From these references, we conclude that to be in heaven is to feel the presence of the great I AM of eternity and to spontaneously adore and revere Him. We (Christians) will also be with and like Christ in that holy habitation where the brightness of His eternal glory spreads an effulgence of light to which no mere mortal being would dare approach (1 Tim. 6:16). It is there that we will see the Lord Jesus Christ exalted, having been given a name which is above every name—“Lord of lords, and King of kings.” At that proclamation every one in His presence bows the knee in humble praise and worship. Every eye is focused on the imposing throne and its majestic Occupant. Every voice ascribes blessing and honor and glory and power unto Him that sits upon the throne. There follows a universal and spontaneous outcry of “Alleluia.”
Days of Heaven Upon the Earth
Some might ask, “Is there any place on earth where a foretaste of this wonderful and glorious heaven can be found?” It certainly won’t be found in the institutions of higher learning or in government planning rooms. Even the court rooms, where justice and righteousness should be on display, have turned from God. Is there, then, no such place here? Happily, God’s Word does provide an affirmative answer. “Where two or three are gathered together in My name, there am I in the midst of them” (Matt. 18:20). “God is greatly to be feared in the assembly of the saints, and to be had in reverence of all them that are about Him” (Psa. 89:7).
A foretaste of heaven can be found where Christians are directed by the indwelling Holy Spirit to gather together in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. There—in a holy, righteous manner—will be praise and worship with reverential fear directed to the eternal God for His marvelous plan of salvation in pardoning and justifying guilty sinners. Hymns will be sung, Scripture references cited and prayers of thanksgiving offered for the distinct purpose of exalting the Lord Jesus Christ and remembering Him in His death. There will be joy in an assembly so occupied. And in heaven itself Jesus, the Author and Finisher of faith, will view the firstfruits of that joy which He anticipated when He endured the cross at such a great cost.
Such an experience is the proper, Biblical hope of every Christian from every kindred and tongue and people and nation. May the joyful expectation of faith giving way to sight cause our voices to unite in a mighty chorus, “Even so, come, Lord Jesus.”
R. Erisman


“About the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? that is to say, My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?” (Matt. 27:46).
Out of the darkness comes that solemn cry,
“Eli, lama sabachthani”;
What language can this be that from the cross
Tells out the Saviour’s agony and loss?
By God forsaken on that awful tree,
He bore the judgment that was due to me;
My sins were added to His heavy load;
Because of me He bore the wrath of God.
There God forsook Thee, precious Lord, for me;
There God, Thy God, must turn His back on Thee;
So in the light of glory I can stand,
Joined by the ransomed host, a heavenly band.
Who knows the answer to that dreadful cry,
Wrung from the lips of Him who came to die?
A willing sacrifice, for He alone
Could for the sins of this poor world atone.
My God, my God, Thy grace has set me free,
Because of Him who suffered there for me;
He was forsaken; for my sins He died,
And now with Him I’m risen and glorified.
E I. (July 1999)
“He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life” (1 John 5:12).


Watch a mother serve her husband and children. She is a slave to them, yet free because of the bonds of love. True love makes slaves of each believer.
Spiritual Gems for the Path of Faith


His plans for us are surpassingly wonderful—and if Christ says, “I am in My Father, and ye in Me, and I in you” (John 14:20), how can one who believes this blessed fact turn to anything of the flesh (Rom. 7:18)?
While I am realizing that I am in Christ and living Christ, all the affections of my heart will be set on Him, and I shall have the ability to do things that, apart from Him, I would not even think about!
Knowing the love of God is the result of the soul having a right view of the blessed place into which that love has brought it (1 John 4:16).
G. V. Wigram


Do you want a happy Christian life? Knowledge won’t give it to you. What will give it to you? The enjoyment of Christ in your life.
H. E. Hayhoe


“Endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” is seeking to carry out publicly—in spirit and in a gracious manner—that which is essentially and always true in the unity of the body in Christ.
J. N. Darby


When we get home to glory and have a backward look over our history, we will find that He was doing the best He could for us each day of our lives, according to the state of our soul.
H. E. Hayhoe


We need more than religious education. The root for the word education means “to draw out.” How can you draw holiness out of a heart that is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked?
Spiritual Gems for the Path of Faith


If you read history, you will find that the Christians who did most for this present world were precisely those who thought most of the next. It is since Christians have largely ceased to think of that world that they have become so ineffective in this.
Spiritual Gems for the Path of Faith


“He that sat was to look upon like a jasper and a sardine stone: and there was a rainbow round about the throne, in sight like unto an emerald” (Rev. 4:3).
That One sits upon the throne in the rainbow. He is the faithful judge remembering His covenant of mercy. It is like an “emerald” (green), for it is ever fresh before Him. The bow in the cloud tells us that God has smelled a sweet savor (Gen. 8:18-21). Abel’s sacrifice is personal acceptance, while Noah’s is blessing for creation—the double aspect and bearing of the sacrifice of Christ.
W. Potter


Whatever profession the Lord leads us in or we find ourselves in, it would be nice if it could be said of each one what was said of Luke—“the beloved physician”—such as the beloved farmer or the beloved plumber, because of the way in which we carry out our duties!
M. Payette


Whether we see beneficial results in this life or not, we are still called upon to trust God that in His love He wills what is best for us and in His wisdom He knows how to bring it about.
With God behind us and His arms beneath us, we can face whatever lies before us.
Spiritual Gems for the Path of Faith


When a young child, Queen Elizabeth of England was attending a function at Buckingham Palace. As she wandered about amidst grown-ups, pointing to a painting depicting the Lord Jesus on the cross, she said, “That’s the Man my papa says is really king.”


“Be thou faithful” (Rev. 2:10).
Israel in the wilderness praised Abraham and persecuted Moses. In the days of the kings, they praised Moses and persecuted the prophets. In the days of Christ, they praised the prophets and persecuted the Saviour. In the days of the popes, they praised the Saviour and persecuted His devoted followers. Multitudes now applaud the courage and fortitude of the patriarchs and prophets, the apostles and martyrs, but condemn as stubbornness and foolishness anything like faithfulness to the truth of God today.
From the Web site


We are often guided by circumstances; the Lord Jesus was always guided by His Father’s will.
Spiritual Gems for the Path of Faith


“When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, He said, It is finished: and He bowed His head, and gave up the ghost” (John 19:30).
We find that blessed, divine expression—“It is finished”—in the Gospel of John rather than the Gospel of Mark. The Servant, perfect though He be, never takes it upon Himself to pronounce the work that His Master has given Him to do as finished. It is the eternal Son—He who had said, “The cup which My Father hath given Me, shall I not drink it?”—who in all the glory and dignity of that Person announces that the work is forever, perfectly finished.


“I will give unto him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely” (Rev. 21:6).
“In My thirst they gave Me vinegar to drink” (Psa. 69:21).
What a striking example of the heart of God and of the heart of man! Oh! If the world would so heartlessly give the Creator such a drink, let us—redeemed by His precious blood—offer that drink of water which will bring Him refreshment.
May we be as David’s mighty men of old (2 Sam. 23:15), rendering to our blessed Lord Jesus that worship which will refresh His blessed heart.


What shall we take into heaven? A glorified body, fit for the presence of Christ. But we have to keep ourselves unspotted down here too. We have to walk through the world as men who are clad in white robes—robes that ought not to have a spot on them. A person walking with defiled robes will not care if they become more defiled—more spotted. But one who has on a spotless robe will walk carefully and not allow it to get the least spot or mark to defile its purity.
G. V. Wigram


At the crucifixion of the Lord Jesus, His accusation was written in Hebrew and Greek and Latin, to show that the whole world had a part in it: Hebrew tells of the religious world, Greek tells of the literary and scientific world, and Latin (representing Rome) tells of the government and power of this world. All had their part. And so Paul says: “God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world” (Gal. 6:14).
G. C. Willis


Believe God’s Word and power more than you believe your own feelings and experiences. Your Rock is Christ, and it is not the Rock which ebbs and flows, but rather your sea.
S. Rutherford


It is a deeply solemn thing to learn truth, for there is not a principle that we profess to have learned that we shall not have to prove practically.
Gems From My Reading


In Abraham, as being the depositary of the promises of God to the patriarchs, we find the fundamental principles of the believer. Having offered up his son Isaac and having received him back gives us the type of the resurrection of Jesus. He becomes, like Isaac, heir of all the goods of His Father. Rebekah, type of the church, is called to be the bride of a risen Isaac.
In Abraham we have the principle of man’s relationship with God—pure grace without law. Hagar is a figure of the law, while Isaac, raised from the dead in figure, shows us Christ, the Head, having accomplished His work. He is now in the position to maintain all the results of the divine counsels.
The Christian Friend, 1874


If brethren are devoted and unworldly, then there is a testimony. Mere knowledge of truth does not bring [blessing].
The great thing is to be constantly near Christ where the soul is kept in peace. When it is thus, and the sense of love, then our service may flow from this dwelling with Him and carry the stamp of it. How did Christ reveal the Father? “The only-begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He hath declared Him.” He declared Him and could declare Him, as in the present sense of the love of which He was the object and which He enjoyed in His bosom. He was perfect, and we are failing servants, but that is the only way of all carrying the unction of His presence.
J. N. Darby


Christ’s life, as God’s standard, spoke against us; Christ’s death, as God’s salvation, speaks for us.
Spiritual Gems for the Path of Faith


The sufferings of the cross are divided. During the first three hours, God allowed man to display his heart. The Lord felt them, but there is no atonement in them. In the second three hours, the sword is drawn: “All thy waves and Thy billows are gone over Me.” It is then the mighty work of atonement is wrought in those infinite sufferings.
W. Potter


It is wonderful to see the veil viewed as rent before the death of our Lord in Luke’s gospel. There we see the perfect Man, that Holy Thing “who needeth not daily, as those high priests, to offer up sacrifice, first for his own sins, and then for the people’s” (Heb. 7:27). In Luke, the testimony to His holy, perfect manhood is rendered, both by the veil rent prior to His death and then by those words which could be truly spoken only of Him: “Certainly this was a righteous Man.”
There, too, we see the peace and meal offerings, sweet savor offerings, having their fulfillment in our blessed Lord Jesus Christ. The veil must come down, and that, as it says only in Luke, being rent “in the midst” (not from the top to the bottom). Nothing about this Man would prevent Him from going into the presence of His Father, without an offering for Himself! Blessed Saviour, may our hearts go forth to Thee in worship!
H. Short


If Joseph’s brethren are to be in his company for the satisfaction of his heart, they must be there without fear, regret or care. “Come near to me”; “be not grieved”; “he kissed all his brethren.” What joy for the brethren! What satisfaction for Joseph!
H. Smith (adapted)


Peace in the pathway results from a will that is fully subjected to God’s will.
Spiritual Gems for the Path of Faith


Christ will be manifested to all men only as we have before us the living Christ in the glory as our Object.
H. Smith


Are you a mother? Do not be satisfied to tell your children the way of salvation. Tell them about the beauties of Christ. Give the wisdom of the Word, and seek to guide their footprints through this world into that faith and faithfulness that should characterize the family of God (see 2 Timothy 1:5).
H. E. Hayhoe


As God’s assembly is made up of individuals, it is impossible to be right with God in a corporate sense unless we are so individually. An assembly gathered to the Lord’s name will always manifest the moral qualities of those who comprise it individually. Here again Scripture reminds us that “by much slothfulness the building decayeth; and through idleness of the hands the house droppeth through” (Eccl. 10:18).
H. H. Snell


Fruit requires showers as well as sunshine. The best wood for musical instruments grows on the wind-swept, storm-scarred northern slopes.


“If thou seekest her as silver, and searchest for her as for hid treasures; then shalt thou understand the fear of the Lord, and find the knowledge of God” (Prov. 2:45).
Years ago in Bolivia a man discovered a huge ingot of silver that had been buried in a flash flood. When that news spread, people came from everywhere with picks and shovels. They willingly set to earnest, diligent work, which resulted in quite a few more ingots being discovered in that same area.
If we used that kind of diligence in seeking for wisdom from God’s Word, would it not show? Our lives would prove that wisdom to be worth far more than the greatest earthly treasure that could be possessed.
R. Thonney (adapted)


God doesn’t promise to keep us from trouble, but to keep us in trouble.
Spiritual Gems for the Path of Faith


“Take ye no thought how or what thing ye shall answer, or what ye shall say: for the Holy Ghost shall teach you in the same hour what ye ought to say” (Luke 12:11-12).
The true secret of ministry is spiritual power. It is not man’s genius or man’s intellect or man’s energy. A ministry which flows from abiding dependence upon the Holy Spirit can never become barren.
If a man is drawing upon his own resources, he will soon run dry. It matters not what his powers may be or how extensive his reading or how vast his stores of information; if the Holy Spirit be not the spring and power of his ministry, it must, sooner or later, lose its freshness and its effectiveness.
From Gems From My Reading


It may often be seen that those who complain most about lack of appreciation do not themselves know how to love. Those who complain of inadequate pay do not know how to work. Those who complain about their rights being abused do not know how to give, and those who complain about not being heard do not know how to listen.


The love which we are to manifest to one another is that love which is above all weaknesses and shortcomings. Otherwise it degenerates into mere feelings and preferences (John 15:12).
In reading the Scriptures, look for Christ, not yourself. When you find Him, you will find that you are in Him there too.
One cause of so much head knowledge is that there is so little meditation. Divine things float through the mind and become intellectual, whereas they were meant for our joy.
Spiritual Gems for the Path of Faith

A Fresh Taste of Christ

Can we say of any when going into their house, “That person brings me Christ”? If one had paid a visit to Paul, would not one have come away with a fresh taste of Christ?
I have often come out of the house of a poor bedridden person feeling, “Oh, how I wish my soul were like that!” Oh, that that pulse of Christ were throbbing in every part of the body! How I want, how I long, to see it so in all who are His.

Frightening Thought

“As he thinketh in his heart, so is he” (Prov. 23:7). We are what we think about. Therefore it is vitally important to control our thinking about everything, making sure it conforms to God’s thoughts. It is quite striking how the secular press has affected the thinking of Americans in general.
It seems as though it is not necessary for a person to do their own thinking any more. You can simply pick up a newspaper or listen to the newscast and they will do all thinking for you—frightening thought for the Christian. We are exhorted to bring every thought into the “obedience of Christ.” Therefore we need to reflect on everything we let into our minds. May the Word of God be the only filter used to test everything.
R. Thonney

"Gathering up the Fragments"

“In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also, after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise, which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of His glory” (Eph. 1:13-14).
Suppose you decided to buy a piece of property. It is a normal practice that the buyer puts down earnest money toward the sale before the sale is consummated. This down payment is the proof of the buyer’s sincerity and his intention to complete the purchase. Normally earnest money is but a small portion of the agreed-on purchase price. But, still, it proves the reality of the buyer’s purpose to complete the purchase. Sometimes, however, the buyer cannot, for various reasons, complete the sale. Usually he will lose the earnest money he put down, and, of course, he does not buy the property after all.
The Spirit of God indwells each one who has believed in the Lord Jesus Christ and His finished work at Calvary. That sealing is the proof that someday we will inherit with Christ in glory all that is His. He has bought us, and the Spirit is the earnest of that purchase.
But now suppose that a buyer purchases a piece of property and, as earnest money, puts down twice as much as the agreed purchase price. “Ah,” you say, “surely there can be not the smallest doubt of the intentions of the buyer. He has put down twice as much money as the property is worth. No one can doubt that he intends to make good his promise to purchase the property.”
Think what our loving God has given as the earnest of our inheritance! The Spirit of God Himself. Could there be any doubt of our salvation? Can any doubt possibly remain concerning the blessings that are ours in Christ? Should a redeemed saint of God allow the enemy of our souls to plant seeds of doubt regarding the love, goodness and faithfulness of God? What a blessed and sure hope is ours in our Lord Jesus Christ!
G. H. Hayhoe (adapted)

"Gathering up the Fragments"

“Be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you” (Eph. 4:32).
The very essence of the gospel of the grace of God is divine tenderness. Without tenderness and gentleness of spirit even the most strict religious life is a misrepresentation of the true life of Christ.
Tenderness of spirit is preeminently divine. It is the fountain of God’s love within. True Christ-like tenderness overflows all mental faculties, saturating with its own sweetness the manners, expressions, words and tone of voice.
True Christ-like tenderness mellows the will, softens the judgments, melts the affections, refines the manners, and molds the whole being after the image of Him who was meek and lowly in spirit.
Such tenderness cannot be borrowed or put on for special occasions.
Lord Jesus, salvation’s source,
May we more Thy nature know;
Then more kindness and compassion
To Thy dear saints shall we show.
May the grace Thou hast imparted,
In relieving our complaints,
Make us kind and tenderhearted
To the feeblest of Thy saints.
“Let us run with patience the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Heb. 12:12).
The winner of the marathon had been declared almost an hour earlier. But then, out of the cold and early evening darkness, one last Olympic runner entered the far end of the stadium. Though exhausted and in obvious pain, hobbling with one leg wrapped in a bloody bandage, on he ran with stoic determination, never faltering till he had crossed the finish line.
A reporter asked him why, seeing he had no chance of winning, he had not retired from the race and saved himself so much suffering. Puzzled by the question, the athlete paused a moment and then quietly answered, “My country did not send me here to start the race. They sent me to finish.”
Let us run our course in this same steadfast spirit. Our precious Saviour set His face like a flint, never wavering, never turning aside from the path marked out for Him by the will of His Father (Isa. 50:7). His perfect devotion has left us an example that we “should follow in His steps” (1 Peter 2:21 JND).
In His sovereign will, our blessed God has chosen that we should walk by faith during a very dark, obstacle-strewn day. Moral and spiritual corruption abound and the enemy constantly casts stumbling-blocks in our way. But we are to press on, ever looking unto Him who has completed the course.
Our blessed Lord Jesus—“the leader and completer of faith” (JND)—now in glory, has His eye fixed upon each dear child, His hands uplifted in support and blessing. He is ever ready to grant the needed “grace to help in time of need” (Heb. 4:16).
We have been given (2 Peter 1:3) all that is needed to “run with endurance” (Heb. 12:1 JND) the race lying before us. And, too, there is the sweet assurance for one who walks by faith that God desires His dear child to enjoy an abundantly furnished entrance into the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ (2 Peter 1:11).
It’s not time to give up or turn aside from the race we run by faith. Let’s so run that each may obtain the prize (1 Cor. 9:24). “I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 3:14).

"Gathering up the Fragments": Light Bearers in a Dark World

Our Lord said, “Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hid” (Matt. 5:14). It is encouraging to consider the thoughts of dear Habakkuk, in a day of great need and ruin. “Although the fig tree shall not blossom, neither shall fruit be in the vines; the labor of the olive shall fail, and the fields shall yield no meat; the flock shall be cut off from the fold, and there shall be no herd in the stalls: yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation. The Lord God is my strength, and He will make my feet like hinds’ feet, and He will make me to walk upon mine high places” (Hab. 3:17-19). Oh! we need not be discouraged, for the Lord is our resource. Though all seems so dark, we can still be that light upon a hill; our high places cannot be taken from faith. That is the message that dear Habakkuk received from the Lord and acted upon. “The just shall live by his faith” (Hab. 2:4). What a great cloud of witnesses has compassed us about. May we follow their faith (Heb. 11:12-13).
Great Multitudes and Individual Need
In reading Matthew’s gospel recently, I was impressed with the expressions, “Seeing the multitudes, He went up into a mountain.” Then, “When He was come down from the mountain, great multitudes followed Him.” And, “Now when Jesus saw great multitudes about Him, He gave commandment to depart unto the other side” (Matt. 5:1; 8:1; 8:18). Our hearts would desire to be identified with “great multitudes,” but the Lord saw the need of separating from them, in order to have His own with Himself or to be alone with someone who had a need of Him. We delight in numbers. The Lord was content to meet the needs of individuals—even when they were found in their loneliness and isolation from the crowds.
The woman at the well, Bartimeus, Nicodemus and others were alone with the Lord. May we be encouraged by this and be content to be occupied with individuals, one here or one there, those individuals whom the Lord may bring into our lives.
Power and Persecution
In Matthew 10 the Lord calls the twelve apostles to Himself and prepares them to go out to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. Though they had been given power against unclean spirits and power to heal all manner of sickness and disease, He tells them they would be as sheep among wolves. They were to be wise but harmless, for they would be brought before kings. But they were to prepare no messages, for those would be supplied at the time of need.
They would be persecuted in this city (Jerusalem), and it was intimated to them that men would kill their bodies. Yet they followed their Lord. We would like to have power but draw back from persecution. Their power was to heal and do good in spite of the persecution. Oh! what an example the apostles have left us. Paul could say, “Being defamed, we entreat: we are made as the filth of the world, and are the offscouring of all things unto this day” (1 Cor. 4). These dear men were told that “he that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for My sake shall find it.” May we seek by grace to follow their faith.
H. Short

Giving Up Self

Now is the time to give up self. Christ’s presence will be the place in which giving up of self is owned.

The Glorified Man

The Spirit had revealed the God of glory in the Babe of Bethlehem. Now, when all power and grace is ministered from heaven, the shedding forth of the Holy Spirit, the healing of sinners, the promise of days of refreshing and restitution—all are declared to be in and from the Man glorified in heaven.
“Whom do men say that I the Son of Man am?” was the inquiry of the Lord in the day of His humiliation. The only right answer was, “Thou art the Christ the Son of the living God.” But later, when the apostles are called to give answer as to the power in which they acted, it was, “By the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom ye crucified.” He fills all things.
J. G. Bellett (from The Son of God)

Great Spoil

“I rejoice at Thy word, as one that findeth great spoil” (Psa. 119:162).
This well-known verse is often interpreted giving the sense of “treasure” to the word “spoil.” Assuredly, the Word of God is an incomparable treasure, but the word spoil has a more precise meaning. Spoil speaks of that which is precious. Yet it means more than a treasure. It is the result of conquest (Deut. 20:14), effort and deep research. This meaning gives us to understand that the treasures of God’s Word are only accessible through expended effort.
In nature, the treasures of the earth are only accessible after digging deep and searching diligently—as with gold or other precious metals or stones. Pearls also are buried—in the depths of the ocean. The ground and the sea only yield their riches after toil and energy are spent.
It is so with the things of God. Eternal salvation is freely accessible and offered to all (being received by simple faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and His finished work on the cross). But, in contrast, the infinite depths of the revelation of God cannot be sounded in any measure save by the Spirit (1 Cor. 2:10) and by diligence of spirit. The spoil is there, waiting to reveal its secret treasures to those who so desire it that they are willing to search diligently for it (Matt. 7:8).
M. Payette

He Is Everything to Me

Some call Him a Saviour, in word,
But mix their own works with His plan,
And hope He His help will afford
When they have done all that they can;
If doing proved rather too light
(A little they own they may fail),
They purpose to make up full weight
By casting His name in the scale.
Some style Him the Pearl of great price,
And say He is the fountain of joys,
Yet feed upon folly and vice,
And cleave to the world and its toys -
Like Judas, the Saviour they kiss,
And, while they salute Him, betray -
Ah, what will profession like this
Avail in His terrible day!
If asked what of Jesus I think,
Though all my best thoughts are but poor,
I say, He’s my meat and my drink,
My life, and my strength, and my store;
My Shepherd, my Husband, my Friend,
My Saviour from sin and from thrall,
My hope from beginning to end,
My portion, my Lord and my All.
J. G. Bellett
Jesus said: “Come unto Me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28).

Hearing Him - Morning by Morning

“The Lord God hath given me the tongue of the learned, that I should know how to speak a word in season to him that is weary: He wakeneth morning by morning, He wakeneth mine ear to hear as the learned” (Isa. 50:4).
A Word to Young People
Dear young folks, do you do that—do you awake each morning with an ear to hear what the Lord has to say? Do you read your Bible in the morning and ask God’s will for you for your day? Do you desire and willingly take instruction from God each day? Are you dependent, or do you just get out of bed in the morning and get ready for the day’s work without first getting on your knees in prayer and spending time reading the Scripture?
Oh dear young folks! Are you stronger than the blessed Son of God? When He was here as Man, He waited upon God morning by morning.
A Word to Parents
You dear young married folks and young families—do you have the reading of God’s Word in your home every day? Is the family gathered together each day to hear that precious Word read—are your children being brought up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord?
When your children leave the sacred precincts of your home, will they be able down through the years of their lives, if left here, to look back upon that precious time in their life’s history when they knelt with father and mother in prayer in the safety of their home? Will they have the joy of remembering their father commending them to the grace and guidance of God each day? Oh dear fathers! Will that be one of the memories in the lives of your children? What a sacred heritage to pass on to your children!
A Word to All
“When He had sent the multitudes away, He went up into a mountain apart to pray.  .  .  .  He was there alone” (Matt. 14:23).
How important it is to get away from the crowds for a while. Our blessed Lord did that—He did that as the dependent Man. It’s a good thing, dear parents, to get the family away in separation from the world—to take yourself individually and your children away from it to pray.
Are you neglecting that feature in your Christian life? Are you, fathers and mothers, neglecting that in your family life? It is through prayer that we make contact with the infinite power of God—when we kneel before Him in prayer. Just as the lights in this room would not turn on without power, so we have to be connected with the powerhouse if we are going to have power and victory in our spiritual life. Be sure, dear parents and dear young folks, that daily you get in touch with the infinite God. There must be personal contact, or else we will not have power to live—and remember too that sin always breaks that contact. “Take us the foxes, the little foxes, that spoil the vines” (Song of Sol. 2:15).
C. H. Brown (adapted)


Though the above word may appear to be Biblical in origin, it is neither Hebrew nor Greek. Rather, it is a word coined from three English pronouns—Him, us and I. The thought it expresses is taken from Philippians 2:3: “Let nothing be done through strife [party spirit; faction] or vainglory.”
The Lord Jesus is the “Him” who must always have the first place. Next the “us”: Collective concerns and matters are to be considered. Then lastly comes the “I,” our own personal interests. A party spirit (as eritheia, the Greek word for strife, suggests) is the putting forward of “us” rather than Him. But vainglory is the putting forward of me—“I” taking the place that belongs alone to Him.
In Colossians 1:18 the Spirit of God shows that He is to have the first place in all things (JND). Sadly, Philippians 2:21 shows how believers can get these priorities out of order. But if through grace and humility each gives Christ the place of preeminence, next esteems other better than himself, while putting individual interests last (Rom. 15:3), then we will manifest, in a measure, the character and the mind of the One described in Philippians 2:58. For us, may it never be USIHIM or IUSHIM or any other order than HIMUSI!
M. Payette (adapted)

His Blood - My Walk

“The priest shall take  .  .  .  of the blood of the trespass offering, and  .  .  .  put it upon the tip of the right ear of him that is to be cleansed, and upon the thumb of his right hand, and upon the great toe of his right foot” (Lev. 14:14).
What must the leper who was to be cleansed from that dread disease have thought as he, with blood on his right ear, looked upon the blood that stained his right thumb and toe? Earlier, in Leviticus 13:45-46, we read the solemn results of that dread condition: “His clothes shall be rent, and his head bare, and he shall put a covering upon his upper lip, and shall cry, Unclean, unclean. All the days wherein the plague shall be in him he shall be defiled; he is unclean: he shall dwell alone; without the camp shall his habitation be.”
But now the happy day of cleansing had come—cleansing which included the application of blood from a slain lamb. From that time the blood was, in figure, to have its proper moral effect on all he heard, all he did and on every step he took.
How good if each considered, “If I could see that precious blood staining my foot, would I continue in the way I presently walk? If I could observe the stain of His precious blood upon my thumb, would I, in good conscience, continue what I am doing? Knowing that my ear is stained with the blood of my Saviour, can I comfortably continue listening to what I hear?” Oh! May our hearts be ever tender as to the infinite price He has paid to wash our sins away!
A. C. Hayhoe (adapted)

His Own Supper

Luke 22:7-20
The Lord institutes His own supper. He did not eat of this. He merely gave it to them. He could not take of it. He does not need redemption—purchase by blood. He says, “This do in remembrance of Me.” There is a deep and blessed secret in these words. That which in other days was anticipative is now retrospective.
The passover table anticipated the coming of the Lord to die. The Lord’s supper is a memorial. What has occasioned the change? “This is My body.” The Son from the bosom of the Father took a body: “A body hast Thou prepared Me.” Now we come in on the principle that sin has been remitted—put away; it is there  no more.
Now He has spread a table at which I remember that I was once in my sins, but that sin has been put away. The body prepared of God has been broken (although a bone of Him was not broken—see John 19:36) on the accursed tree. Now sin is put away forever. The whole character of the feast turns on the victim and we see how the thoughts of all are on death. So are the Lord’s, but with this difference. They were thinking of Him as a martyr; He was thinking of a sacrifice—the victim character He was about to fulfill. The Lord died in two characters: a martyr at the hands of man and a victim at the hand of God. Yet in all this how sad to see the disciples now thinking of their own pride, rather than His death.
J. G. Bellett (from Notes on the Gospel of Luke)

The Holy Scriptures

It is needful in these dark days to have the Holy Scriptures constantly before us. “Lay up these My words in your heart and in your soul, and bind them for a sign upon your hand, that they may be as frontlets between your eyes” (Deut. 11:18).
While the world is ever learning yet never coming to a knowledge of the truth, we have a sure resource in the Bible. May we heed Paul’s words: “Continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them; and that from a child thou hast known the holy Scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works” (2 Tim. 3:14-17).
Efforts to Hinder God’s Word
At one time the immense cost of producing books limited access to the Bible for most. Today we are deluged with books, nearly all so occupying our minds and time that we have little left for reading and meditating on Scripture.
The enemy also seeks to undermine the authenticity of the Scriptures. If failing in that, he seeks to revise and paraphrase its words to suit men’s minds that are at enmity with God. How careful we must be in handling the Holy Scriptures. “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God” (2 Tim. 3:16). “The prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost” (2 Peter 1:21).
Studying the Bible
In this humanistic age, freedom of thought encourages each to come to a personal interpretation of Scripture. But the Bible says: “Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the Scripture is of any private interpretation” (2 Peter 1:20). We are to “have an outline of sound words, which words thou hast heard of me, in faith and love which are in Christ Jesus” (2 Tim. 1:13 JND) and to “rightly [divide] the word of truth” (2 Tim. 2:15).
The Word of God can’t be studied in an intellectual way, for “the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned” (1 Cor. 2:14). Though a babe in Christ has, by the Spirit, an understanding of the Scriptures, none can plumb its infinite depths.
Major Divisions of the Bible
The Scriptures are divided in two—the Old and New Testaments. There is a gap of some four hundred years between the last book of the Old Testament and the birth of Christ, which marks the beginning of the New.
The language of the Old Testament is Hebraic, excepting Ezra 4:8; 6:18, 7:12-26, Jeremiah 10:11 and Daniel 2:4; 7:28, which were written in Aramaic. The New Testament was written in Greek.
The arrangement and titles for the books of the Old Testament follow that of the Septuagint (a Greek translation of the Old Testament dating from 280 B.C.). First, the five books of Moses, second, the historical books (Joshua through Esther), third, the poetical books (Job through the Song of Songs), and fourth, the prophetical books (Isaiah through Malachi). Within each group, the books generally are ordered chronologically—though the Minor Prophets (so-called) are grouped together after Daniel.
In the Hebrew Scriptures, the books of the Old Testament are divided into three groups. This arrangement is referred to by the Lord Jesus: “These are the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning Me” (Luke 24:44). Both arrangements contain the same books.
Christ and that which concerns Himself form the grand theme of all Scripture. Another has written, “He is the center of all revelation and the burden of all Scripture.” “Search the Scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of Me” (John 5:39).
N. Simon
Ed. Note: In future issues we intend, Lord willing, to provide a very brief overview of the grand theme of each book of the Bible.

The Holy Scriptures

Genesis, the first book of the law of Moses, is the book of beginnings. The time covered by this book, excluding the period left unspecified in the first two verses, is some 2,316 years. This exceeds the total time period covered by the remaining portion of Scripture—both Old and New Testaments. The book may be divided into five distinct periods:
1. In the beginning (ch. 1:12). 2. From the Adamic creation to the fall (ch. 1:33). 3. From the fall to the flood (ch. 47). 4. From the flood to the call of Abraham (ch. 811). 5. The lives of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob (ch. 12-50).
Genesis 1:2 tells us that the earth was “without form [waste], and void,” and yet in Isaiah 45:18 we find that “God  .  .  .  created it not in vain [waste]” —exactly the same word in the original as that found in Genesis 1:2. The time that transpired from the creation of the heavens and the earth until we find it waste and void is not specified, and neither are we told what transpired during that time.
Within the pages of this wonderful book we find all the great principles of God’s relationship with man. Here lie the great foundations for the remainder of Scripture. It is no wonder that Satan would attempt to undermine the contents of this book, throwing doubts upon its authenticity.
If we consider the ages of the patriarchs, we find some interesting points for our consideration. Adam lived 930 years (Gen. 5:5). During his lifetime he would have had opportunity to commune with Enoch, Methuselah and Lamech. Noah, the son of Lamech and a contemporary of Methuselah, lived for 950 years, 350 years of that after the flood (Gen. 9:28-29). During this period he may have talked with Nahor and Terah, Abraham’s grandfather and father.
It was by eyewitness account that the knowledge of God, of His creation, the fall, His remedy, and His judgment were passed down. How solemn to read: “When they knew God, they glorified Him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened.  .  .  .  Who, knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them” (Rom. 1:21, 32).
Genesis closes with the children of Israel and their households in the land of Egypt and Joseph’s words of faith: “God will surely visit you, and ye shall carry up my bones from hence” (Gen. 50:25).
His words are fulfilled in Exodus when the children of Israel are brought up out of the land of Egypt, through the Red Sea and into the wilderness. (Numbers covers the remaining thirty-eight years of their forty years’ wandering in the wilderness, bringing them to the Jordan, while Deuteronomy records the last words of Moses before they entered the land of Canaan.)
While the record of these events is historic, we would lose very much if that were all we saw. The Old Testament is full of vitally important moral instruction for believers today. These Scriptures were a “shadow of good things to come” (Heb. 10:1), examples or types for us (1 Cor. 10:6), “written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come” (1 Cor. 10:11).
In Exodus we have redemption and, as a result, relationship to Jehovah, the Redeemer. In Genesis we read of Elohim, the Creator (Gen. 1:1). God introduces Himself to Abraham as El Shaddai, God Almighty (Gen. 17:1). But in Exodus we have, “I AM THAT I AM” (Ex. 3:14). This is Jehovah, the eternally existing One—speaking of relationship—and it was by this name that Israel was to know God. “I will take you to Me for a people.  .  .  .  Ye shall know that I, Jehovah your God, am He who bringeth you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians” (Ex. 6:67 JND).
Exodus may be divided as follows: 1. Israel in Egypt (ch. 16). 2. The ten plagues of Egypt (ch. 7-12). 3. The exodus: The passover to the Red Sea (ch. 12-14). 4. The song of redemption (ch. 15). 5. The Red Sea to Mt. Sinai (ch. 16-19). 6. The law and the pattern for the tabernacle (ch. 20-40).
In the passover we see the blood of the lamb meeting the claims of God as judge. “When I see the blood, I will pass over you” (Ex. 12:13). In the Red Sea we see that salvation is not merely safety from wrath to come, but a complete victory over the power of sin (Ex. 14:30). The lamb is a type of Christ (1 Cor. 5:7), and the blood is the foundation of everything.
N. Simon

The Holy Scriptures

In Leviticus Jehovah is dwelling in the midst of His redeemed people. Here we have instruction as to how a redeemed people may approach God. It provides beautiful pictures of the sacrificial and priestly work of our Lord Jesus Christ.
As the children of Israel journeyed through the wilderness, the tabernacle formed the center of their encampments (Numbers 2). Constructed according to the pattern given to Moses on Mt. Sinai, it consisted first of a court, and then within the court the tabernacle itself.
The tabernacle (or tent of meeting) was divided in two: the Holy place and, separated by a veil, the Holy of Holies, where was the Ark of the Covenant. It was from within the Holy of Holies that Jehovah was looked upon as dwelling in the midst of His redeemed people. Approach to God was to be in the directed way, in a suited state, and through one of God’s appointed priests.
In considering this book, it’s good to remember the contrasts drawn in the book of Hebrews: “The law having a shadow of good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with those sacrifices which they offered year by year continually make the comers thereunto perfect” (Heb. 10:1).
The Hebrew title of this book, “In the Desert,” appropriately summarizes its historic content. The book takes us from Mt. Sinai to the plains of Moab by the Jordan River. Service and walk characterize Numbers.
It is important to note that worship (Leviticus) follows redemption (Exodus) and must have its due place before service (Numbers). Through unbelief, all those twenty years old and upward among the nation of Israel perished in the wilderness, except Joshua and Caleb (Num. 14:29-30). These two faithful men, numbered among the twelve spies, alone stood for Jehovah and His truth.
Though in the wilderness, the Promised Land was always to be before the children of Israel. A ribbon of blue was to fringe the borders of their garments (Num. 15:38), as it should ours figuratively, reminding us that we are a heavenly people. God would not have us in Egypt—the world. He would not have us in the wilderness either—the world as it appears to the eye of faith.
The Greek title that we have retained from the Septuagint means “the second law” or “the law repeated.” However, this does not correctly describe the contents of this book. It would be a serious mistake to consider this book a mere repetition of what has gone before. The Hebrew title derives from the first verse and means “words.”
Unlike Exodus or Numbers, which have a large historic content, Deuteronomy is almost entirely the words of Moses, which he rehearsed in the ears of the people before they entered the land. Whereas Leviticus is addressed to the priests, Deuteronomy is addressed to the people. It was eleven days’ journey from Horeb to Kadesh-barnea (Deut. 1:2), but now some forty years later, a new generation (except Joshua and Caleb) is about to enter the land. Thus, Moses begins in the first three chapters rehearsing a brief summary of God’s ways with them.
What lessons He had taught them in the wilderness, not only of their own weakness, but also of the infinite holiness, patience, grace and love of Jehovah! Statutes and ordinances to be observed in the land are then presented. Deuteronomy supposes them in the land, and, sadly, it presupposes their failure.
It is interesting to note that it is Deuteronomy which is most frequently quoted in the New Testament. Though the children of Israel did indeed fail, we see in beautiful contrast the One that did always the will of the Father. The three quotes used by our Saviour in answering the tempter are taken from this book (Matt. 4:1-11; Luke 4:1-13).
N. Simon

The Hope

There is a world beyond this world of sight,
No eye has seen nor heart of man conceived,
For those who in the Saviour have believed:
A home of everlasting love and light.
A day of joy that ends the long, dark night;
A rich reward for those who suffered loss;
The Lord’s “well done” for those
who bore their cross;
The victor’s crown for those who fought the fight.
Then art thou faint and weary by the way?
Lift up thy head and hear the master say,
“I am the Morning Star, the hope of dawn;
I quickly come to call on high My own,
From shades of night into the cloudless morn,
To see Me face to face and know as known.”
“By grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God” (Ephesians 2:8).

I'd Rather Have Christ

“I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us” (Rom. 8:18).
Is it not worth suffering a little while now, if we’re going to be forever with our Lord and Saviour? Even if the Christian had nothing ahead but the joy and blessing he gets right now from having Christ, it would be a wonderfully fine investment.
But it isn’t confined to this. Dear young believer, I want to tell you that the Christian path is a happy path. Scripture says the path of the just is as a shining light that shines more and more unto the perfect day. That’s well worth having. I’d rather have my soul filled with Christ, even if I had no shirt on my back, than to be well off in the world without Him.
Wouldn’t you rather be filled with eternal life and joy that you know nothing can take away from you? I want to tell you, I say again, I’d rather remain in the depths of poverty with Christ than to have all the wealth of this world to roll in without Him.
I tell you this too—after having gone on with Him for more than 50 years—He hasn’t got tired of me yet! And I certainly know that I’ll never get tired of Him, for He is so wonderful! Oh, if I could only tell you how wonderful He is to my soul—how He fills up the days and the nights with Himself! Yes, if the light of God’s countenance is lifted up on us, we can let everything else go. Just as long as you have Christ and you have the blessing of God with you—never mind anything else.
C. Kohler (adapted)

"Jesus Only"

“Suddenly, when they had looked round about, they saw no man any more, save Jesus only with themselves” (Mark 9:8).
Word came Tuesday evening that our beloved brother Norman Berry was called into the presence of the Lord Jesus Christ. A servant of the Lord, a soldier of Jesus Christ, and a beloved spiritual father has been removed from among us. Though our brother would have warned against speaking of the servant rather than the Master, we do feel the loss of his ministry. It is good to remember those “who have spoken unto you the word of God” and to follow their faith, “considering the end of their conversation” (Heb. 13:7). Many benefited from our brother’s fathering spirit, shepherding care and evangelical gift.
Years ago I received a letter from Mr. Berry. In it he recalled the time when the object and purpose of his life and service was made clear to his heart. Reading one day in Mark 9, he wrote that “two words” especially impressed him: “Jesus only” (vs. 8).
While many of us watched our beloved brother grow old in years, we also observed that his love for the Lord Jesus and desire to serve Him remained ever fresh. May our blessed Saviour be always the delight, joy and object of our hearts—that we too may see “no man  .  .  .  save Jesus only.”
Note: This was written shortly after the home-call of our brother on May 8, 2001. Due to preparing manuscripts ahead of publication date, it could not be included until this issue.

The Judgment Seat of Christ

For believers, it is not people that are on trial, but their works. It is like the judge at a county fair. He is judging what people have made or done, not the person—even though it is the person who receives the reward. The judgment seat of Christ for the believer will never be a question of being judged for sin. That was all taken care of at the cross (Heb. 10:14).
In the New Testament the judgment seat of Christ for believers is taken up in four different ways.
1. “Wherefore we labor, that, whether present or absent, we may be accepted of Him” (2 Cor. 5:9). Here our whole life is brought into review, suggested by verse 10, “The things done in his body.” Everything will be manifested in the light of His presence.
2. In 1 Corinthians 3:8-15, the judgment seat is in connection with our service“laborers together with God.” We (believers) have the privilege of building on the foundation which has already been laid—the truth of God’s Word. “If any man’s work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward.”
3. “Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord come, who both will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will make manifest the counsels of the hearts: and then shall every man have praise of God” (1 Cor. 4:5). Here it is a question of motive. We sometimes say that we cannot judge motives. But the Lord can and will. He “will make manifest the counsels of the hearts.” Our God wants us to not only do the proper thing, but to do it with the right motive as well.
4. In Romans 14:7-12 we have the spirit in which we do things taken up. Our actions affect others, and God wants us not only to do the right thing with the right motive, but He also wants it done in the right spirit, or with the right attitude. (See Psalm 32:2 and Caleb in Numbers 14:24.)
Of course, we will all cast our crowns (rewards) back at His blessed feet—He who alone is worthy (Rev. 4)—realizing the full import of that verse, “It is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of His good pleasure” (Phil. 2:13).
J. Hyland

Just to Be Happy in Jesus

Just to be happy in Jesus,
And meet every fear with faith’s song;
This is my daily commission,
Though everything seems to go wrong.
Just to be restful in Jesus,
Though often with thorns I am tried;
Quietly in Him confiding,
Content, since with Him I abide.
Just to be hopeful in Jesus,
When sorrows and troubles abound;
Sharing with others the gladness,
The joy in the Lord I have found.
Just to be thankful for all things,
This is the Father’s sweet will;
Knowing that all works together,
God’s purpose in me to fulfill.
A young believer
“God commendeth His love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8).

Keep Climbing

“Ye, beloved, building up yourselves on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Ghost” (Jude 20).
The last bit of the hill is the steepest. But never mind, climb anyway, and “as thy days, so shall thy strength be” (Deut. 33:25).
The days in which we live are perilous times, but the Lord is just as sufficient for perilous times as any other time. The power of the Spirit is always accompanied by a sense of weakness and difficulty, and therefore the need of mercy.
“Looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life” (Jude 21). Here we have the mercy needed along all the path, mercy reaching to the end and carrying us into everlasting life.
J. N. Darby

"Keep Thyself Pure"

The world in which we live makes immorality appear normal and acceptable. And, sadly, even some Christians treat this sin lightly. But it is a solemn act of sin before God and may leave lifelong scars.
In 1 Cor. 6:18-19 we read, “Flee fornication. Every sin that a man doeth is without the body; but he that committeth fornication sinneth against his own body. What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?” Sexual immorality (fornication) is a sin against the temple of the Holy Spirit! Joseph understood the seriousness of this when tempted by Potiphar’s wife. “How then can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?” (Gen. 39:9).
In 2 Samuel 11 we read of David’s sin with Bathsheba. In chapter 12 David repents and is pardoned. (Psalm 51 is David’s expression of repentance.) But was that the end? Sadly no, for we read that God allowed the son born to them as a result of this sin to die (2 Sam. 12:15-19). While God promises to forgive sin that is truly confessed to Him (1 John 1:9), our ways bring upon us His governmental dealings. Their sin was not forgotten, for we read in the lineage of our Lord Jesus Christ in Matthew 1:6, “David the king begat Solomon of her that had been the wife of Urias.”
In Galatians 2:20 we read, “The Son of God, who loved me, and gave Himself for me.” Do we believe this? Paul wrote, “I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ” (2 Cor. 11:2). We are the bride of Christ! Someday soon we will be united with Him at “the marriage of the Lamb.” In that day we will be “arrayed in fine linen, clean and white” (Rev. 19:7-8). Will we keep ourselves pure for Him now, in view of that wonderful coming time?
“This is the will of God, even your sanctification, that ye should abstain from fornication” (1 Thess. 4:3). “Ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s” (1 Cor. 6:20). It is the will of the One to whom we belong that we abstain from fornication. Don’t let the abominable morals of this “present evil world” harden your hearts to His Word!
Consider the result of fornication. Paul wrote to the Corinthians, “What? know ye not that he which is joined to a harlot is one body? for two, saith He, shall be one flesh” (1 Cor. 6:16). The reference here takes us back to Adam and Eve in Genesis 2. “Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh” (Gen. 2:24). The intimate physical relationship between a husband and his wife is one of the natural joys of marriage. Those who indulge in this relationship outside of marriage still become one flesh.
Dear young believer, fornication is not some passing pleasure, but a sin which can bring a lifetime reproach! Keep yourself pure, beloved young Christian. Our blessed Lord and Saviour loves you, and He deserves your love and fidelity. “If ye love Me, keep My commandments” (John 14:15).
K. Heslop

The Last Fortress

“When thou buildest a new house, then thou shalt make a battlement for thy roof, that thou bring not blood upon thine house” (Deut. 22:8).
In view of the moral darkness which has enveloped every part of Cain’s world, especially in these so-called Christian lands, it is well to be reminded afresh of the unique—and we may say, indispensable—role which the Christian home plays in protecting and preserving our children.
God has provided this place of safety and the necessary principles for guiding it according to His mind. The account of the ark that Noah was commanded to build contains, for example, much wisdom for parents. Satan seeks to destroy our children now, even as the flood destroyed all not sheltered in the ark then. May God grant purpose of heart and energy of faith to build a safe shelter in the bosom of the home.
That place of safety—the ark—was built by Noah in obedience to a direct command of God (Gen. 6:14). Fathers are commanded in Ephesians 6:4 to bring their children up “in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.” Mothers are commanded by God to “guide the house” (1 Tim. 5:14).
Christian homes are the primary (perhaps the only) place in which parents may exercise full control over everything which would exert influence over their children. Zealous parental vigilance—as faithful shepherds watch over their flocks by night (Luke 2:8)—is needed to discern the subtle dangers seeking to gain entrance into the home. “Be thou diligent to know the state of thy flocks, and look well to thy herds” (Prov. 27:23).
We recently read the story of a man who, when visiting a shepherd in Scotland, found him very sad. With tears, the shepherd explained that wolves had gotten into his flock the previous night and destroyed sixty-five of his best lambs. The visitor sympathetically asked, “How many of the sheep did they destroy?” With a look of surprise the old shepherd said, “None. Don’t you know that a wolf will never take an old sheep if it can get a young lamb?”
Today Satan tries to enter our homes under the guise of an angel of light, masquerading his godless corruptions and filth under an almost infinite variety of harmless-looking disguises—seeking to introduce them into the midst of this Christian fortress. Only diligent, prayerful watchfulness on the part of parents will provide the needed wisdom to discern the precious from the vile. As in the days of Nehemiah, parents today, acting in the energy of faith, must rebuild the walls that have been burned. The doors, locks and bars too must be set up, that the home be secured against the wicked one.
The day in which we live finds professing Christianity hurrying towards its awful, apostate end. The spirit of this day is found in Jude, where we read, “It was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints. For there are certain men crept in unawares  .  .  .  ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness” (Jude 34). In our day, danger lies more in wickedness which creeps in unawares, rather than by open assault, which, by its very character, gives parents warning of the attack.
When Noah, warned of God, moved with fear and built the ark, he prepared it without to protect against the flood of judgment (Gen. 6:14), while he placed within all that was needed to sustain and preserve its occupants (Gen. 6:21). Let parents move in the same spirit of godly fear and obedience, preparing their home against the attacks of the enemy. See to it that your home has strong battlements, walls, locks and doors.

"Laying on of Hands"

“This is the law of the sin offering: In the place where the burnt offering is killed shall the sin offering be killed before the Lord: it is most holy” (Lev. 6:25).
Both types—the sin offering and the burnt offering-point to the Lord Jesus Christ, but in contrasted aspects of His work. In the burnt offering, Christ is seen meeting the divine affections; in the sin offering, He is seen meeting the depths of human need. In the former, we are taught the preciousness of the Sacrifice; in the latter, the hatefulness of sin.
Let us, for a moment, consider the typical act of “laying on of hands.” This was common to both offerings. In the case of the burnt offering, it identified the offerer with an unblemished sacrifice. In the case of the sin offering, it involved the transfer of the sin of the offerer to the head of the offering.
What, then, is the doctrine set forth in the laying on of hands? It is that Christ was made “sin for us  .  .  . that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Cor. 5:21). He took our position with all its consequences, in order that we might get His position with all its consequences.
Our Lord Jesus was treated as sin upon the cross, that we might be treated as righteousness in the presence of infinite holiness. He endured the hiding of God’s countenance, that we might bask in the light of that countenance. He had to pass through three hours of darkness, that we might walk in everlasting light. He was forsaken of God for a time, that we might enjoy His presence forever.
All that was due us as ruined sinners was laid upon Him, in order that all that was due to Him as the Accomplisher of redemption might be ours. There was everything against Him when He hung upon the cursed tree, in order that there might be nothing against us. He drank the cup of wrath, that we might drink the cup of salvation—the cup of infinite favor. He was treated according to our desserts, that we might be treated according to His.
Such is the wonderful truth illustrated by the ceremonial act of imposition of hands. When the worshipper had laid his hand upon the head of the burnt offering, it ceased to be a question as to what he was or what he deserved and became entirely a question of what the offering was in the judgment of Jehovah. If the offering was without blemish, so was the offerer. If the offering was accepted, so was the offerer. The two were perfectly identified. The act of laying on of hands constituted them one in the view of God. He looked at the offerer through the medium of the offering.
But in the sin offering, when the offerer had laid his hand upon the head of the offering, it became a question of what the offerer was and what he deserved. The offering was treated according to the desserts of the offerer. They too were perfectly identified. The act of laying on of hands constituted them one in the judgment of God.
The sin of the offerer was dealt with in the sin offering, while the person of the offerer was accepted in the burnt offering. What a vast difference this makes! Hence, though the act of laying on of hands was common to both offerings and was expressive of identification in each case, yet the consequences were as different as possible. The just was treated as the unjust; the unjust was accepted in the just.
C. H. Mackintosh (adapted)

The Little Ones

A careful man I ought to be,
For my little children follow me;
I do not dare to go astray,
For fear they’ll go the selfsame way.
Not once can I escape their eyes;
Whate’er they see me do, they’ll try;
Like me, they say, they’re going to be,
Those little ones who follow me.
I must remember as I go,
Through summer sun and winter snow,
I’m molding for the years to be -
Those little ones who follow me.
From Gems From My Readings, anon. (adapted)
“Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it” (Prov. 22:6).
“Make his paths straight” (Luke 3:4).
“Ye fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and admonition of the Lord” (Eph. 6:4 JND).
“God sent not His Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through Him might be saved” (John 3:17).

"Looking Upon Jesus As He Walked": Luke 11:21-30

In chapter 11:21 the Lord indites the parable of the strong man to show that it was by the finger of God He cast out devils. The strong man only gets his house rifled by a stronger than himself. God alone is stronger than Satan. We have already been conquered and made slaves by the devil, so that when we get him bound in this world, God alone has done it, for no child of man could. If I see anyone stronger than Satan in this world, I have a witness that God is here.
The Lord shows that what Satan is doing, he is doing in collision with God—that his bruiser has appeared. That is what He taught Satan in the wilderness. Satan is not afraid of us, but he has more than his match in the Son of God. He is bold as a lion when he comes to you and me, but he trembles in the presence of Christ.
In chapter 11:23 the Lord Jesus draws a very solemn conclusion. The battle is proclaimed and there is no neutrality. God has made the world the scene of the conflict in which the question between Himself and Satan is to be decided, the fruit of which is to occupy eternity.
The voice goes forth: “He that is not with Me is against Me.” Then when the Lord had thus solemnly sounded the voice of the trumpet across the field—the blast of the silver trumpet proclaiming war in verse 24—He sketches a very solemn sight.
It is an awful picture—one which has already been illustrated in Israel, and which, I believe, will be illustrated in Christendom too. The besom (broom) of Babylon may have swept the house of Israel, and to this day they may abominate idols, but a clean house may be just as fit for Satan as an unclean one. So it is with Christendom. Reformation will not do.
We are thankful for the privilege of meeting together in peace, but mere Protestantism will not do. The Lord teaches us that the swept and garnished house may be worse than before. What has taken the place of idols in reformed Christendom? Is it the knowledge of Jesus? Yes, in His own elect, but human vanities have conducted man in Christendom by the same path as the Jew. It is only hurrying on to a matured form of apostate iniquity.
Then He turns to those requiring a sign, telling them such should not be given (vs. 29). Worldliness dictated their desire for a sign from heaven. They wanted a Christ that would astonish the world. The Lord would not and could not answer that. If you and I could not accept our Jesus in rejection, we shall never have Him in glory.
Shall I think to see my Lord glorified in a defiled world, in the midst of such moral elements as fill it? He will give no sign here. If He is accepted, it must be under the sign of the prophet Jonas—not with a crown of glory on His head, but a crown of thorns. He was buffeted and spit upon, rather than worshipped and adored. Instead of giving a sign from heaven, He gives one from the bowels of the earth, in death and humiliation.
J. G. Bellett (adapted from Notes on the Gospel of Luke)

"Looking Upon Jesus as He Walked": Luke 11:31-54

In Luke 11, the Lord Jesus gives the beautiful instance of the Queen of Sheba. Her conscience and affections were stirred when hearing that Solomon had the knowledge of God. “When the queen of Sheba heard of the fame of Solomon concerning the name of the Lord” (1 Kings 10:1), she took the long journey to Jerusalem, just to find out God.
What stirred the conscience of the men of Nineveh? Jonah’s words. “Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown” (Jonah 3:4). The result of this was that the king clothed himself with sackcloth. Even the horses and sheep were so clothed. What a ridiculous thing to put animals in sackcloth! Yet, who can measure the agony and impulses of an awakened conscience? Analyzing and criticizing can give no account of such soul work. It is blessed to see, as in the stricken cases today, that the convicted conscience cannot stand upon measure. Send us a sign, they said. No, says the Lord. You must believe on Me with your conscience.
While the Lord was about to answer the second of these questions (vss. 15-16), there was a woman in the company whose affection was stirred. Human affections are often stirred under the cross. The daughters of Jerusalem took their places apart from the prosecutors. While I do not trust this excitement of nature, I do not treat it as vile. There may have been a crop for Jesus in it—a blessing in the cluster.
You may be prepared for a variety of moral activities nowadays, but the Lord says, as it were, to this poor woman, “There is a mistake in your judgment, because, rather, blessed are they that hear the Word of God and keep it.”
Connection with Christ is to be spiritual and not fleshly, divine and not human. Do you not delight to know that nothing less than your necessity as a sinner is to form the link between you and Jesus? Anything else would snap asunder like the withes that bound Samson.
J. G. Bellett (adapted from Notes on the Gospel of Luke)

"Looking Upon Jesus As He Walked": Luke 12

Chapter 12 is the appendix to the scene in the Pharisee’s house. The Lord Jesus speaks to the multitude and warns them against the hypocrisy of which He had just been the victim. What a fine style the Lord can use when He chooses! For the slander against Him, softly whispered in the ear, the day shall come when the angel of the Lord shall proclaim it on the housetop. That answers the insinuations which go abroad in a well-ordered society.
We next have the subject of fear—the fear of man—and see how beautifully the Lord discusses it. The words of Jesus would give you a well-regulated mind, but your mind must first own its relationship to God as its great paramount circumstance.
He tells you to fear God rather than man. He shows you that if you fear Him, you need not do so as a slave, but as a son—not servilely, but with confiding reverence. Would you stand in fear before a Friend who has numbered the hairs of your head?
Then in verses 8-9 the Lord Jesus goes on to say, as it were, “Now you who confess Me, do not fear the Pharisees. Confess Me, for the day is coming when I will confess you.” Could anything be more perfectly suited to extract fear? If you confess Him before perishing men, He will confess you before the indestructible glory of God.
The Lord then goes on: “Unto him that blasphemeth against the Holy Ghost it shall not be forgiven.” We are vessels of the Holy Spirit. A personal insult to the Son of Man might be forgiven, but refusal of that which the church carries is without remedy.
Next, He takes up the subject of worldliness (ch. 12:13-21). “One of the company said unto Him, Master, speak to my brother, that he divide the inheritance with me.” But the Lord answers, as it were, “Do you not understand Me? Is it My business to make a man richer in this world?”
The Lord has promised deep peace to His people, but never honor or wealth. This man mistook His mission, so He now preached a sermon on covetousness. In doing so, the Lord Jesus gives a striking parable. There is nothing evil about the plentiful bringing forth of a good harvest. Plentifulness is a mercy, but I will tell you what is in it—not evil, but danger. And so it proved with the man in the parable, for he began to turn it to account of his earthly mind, rather than to the account of the Lord of the soil.
If people are in a thriving way of life, very right, I say, to employ their hands and skill, and it is a mercy if the crop be plentiful. But still, there is danger in it.
J. G. Bellett (adapted from Notes on the Gospel of Luke)

"Looking Upon Jesus As He Walked": Luke 18:15-43

We begin in Luke 18 with the case of those who brought young children to Him that He might touch them. But the disciples rebuke them. Here we must determine between the strangers and the disciples. We see (in the disciples) that those who are more familiar with the things of Christ may be less intimate. These strangers had a better understanding of the Lord’s mind than did the disciples.
And we also see that the Lord is better to us than our expectations. The strangers had said touch the little ones, but the Saviour took them into His arms and blessed them (Mark 10:16). How He exceeds all our thoughts!
Next, with the rich young ruler we have one with an uneasy conscience. He said, “What shall I do to inherit eternal life?” He saw that the Lord was a good Man, as we speak, and having no peace, seeing the life of the Lord Jesus so displayed, he had no doubt that this Man must have the secret of peace. The Lord beautifully answers Him by asking him another question: “Why callest thou Me good?” You have no right to call Jesus good unless He is God over all.
The Lord tells the young man, “Sell all that thou hast  .  .  .  and come, follow Me.” He is saying, “If you put yourself in the track of Christ, you must be like Christ.” The Lord gave up everything and, as an emptied man, served others. If the young man were to be perfect, he must go and do likewise.
Alas, the young man could not give up everything for Christ and thus was unfit for the kingdom. Ah! worldliness and selfishness have no power to breathe the atmosphere of the kingdom of God.
Then the Lord is seen coming nigh to Jericho where there is a collision between the blind beggar and the multitude, and the Lord comes in to decide between the two. Are we not pleased with the decision He makes!
The blind man had called, “Jesus, Thou Son of David, have mercy on me.” He knew Him in His personal glory and in the boundlessness of His grace. “We beheld His glory  .  .  .  full of grace and truth” (John 1:14). If we do not recognize the glory of His person, the grace of His work is worth nothing. We must connect His grace and His glory.
The confession of the blind beggar showed an apprehension of these two things. He did not submit to the rebuke of the crowd but “cried so much the more.” In beautiful dignity, the Lord stops on His way at the bidding of a poor, blind beggar. Joshua once bade the sun and moon to stand still—but here the Lord of the sun and moon and heavens stands still at the bidding of a blind beggar! That is the gospel—the glorious, gracious One dispensing the grace of eternal healings to meet our degradation. Do we not admire the determination of Bartimeus (even as we admire Jacob laying hold on the divine Stranger; Genesis 32:24)? He would not hold his tongue but cried out till Jesus stood and said, “What wilt thou that I shall do unto thee?”
J. G. Bellett (adapted from Notes on the Gospel of Luke)

"Looking Upon Jesus As He Walked": Luke 20:21-26

We will find that our Lord’s sorrows on the cross were the result of our sins; His sorrows through life, the result of the enmity of our hearts towards Him.
The three great representatives of the Jewish people now confront the Lord. The Herodians were political religionists, the Sadducees were freethinking religionists, while the Pharisees were legal religionists. They now all come to Him with a subtle question: “Is it lawful for us to give tribute unto Cæsar, or no?” They thought they had Him with this subtle, sharp-sighted question. What enmity towards the Lord we see here! But He at once detects the moral of the occasion and says to them, “Why tempt ye Me? Show Me a penny.”
The Lord had no purse. When He wanted to preach on a penny, He had to ask to be shown one. The Lord had the wealthiest purse that anyone ever had in the world. But not a mite of all that was in that purse did He ever use on Himself.
He says to them, “Whose image and superscription hath it?” They answered, “Cæsar’s.” Very well. The Lord was not going to treat Cæsar as a usurper. He was the rod of God’s indignation in the land of Israel. Whether Chaldeans, Persians, Greeks or Romans, they were no usurpers.
So when the Lord saw Cæsar’s coin passing through the land, He saw in it Israel’s shame, not Cæsar’s usurpation. How beautifully He escapes the snare of the fowler! “Render therefore unto Cæsar the things which be Cæsar’s, and unto God the things which be God’s.” That was a golden rule ever since their captivity—the rule of the returned captives.
And so it is to be our rule. Do you treat the powers that are ordained of God as usurpers? Do not confound the rights of Cæsar and the rights of God. If there is a collision between them, say with Peter, “Whether it be right in the sight of God to hearken unto you more than unto God, judge ye.” This short statement is replete with divine wisdom for Israel’s condition at this moment.
J. G. Bellett (adapted from Notes on the Gospel of Luke)

"Looking Upon Jesus As He Walked": Luke 22:39-53

The Lord leaves the supper table and goes to the Mount of Olives. We see the Lord in three conditions—going down the mount, ascending and on the hill. As His royal descent was refused, we see Him making a wearisome ascent, and in Zechariah we find Him again on the Mount, but there it will be split beneath His feet in judgment.
Once there, He leaves the disciples with these words: “Pray that ye enter not into temptation.” His business is now with the Father. And what is He saying? “If Thou be willing, remove this cup from Me.” Surely this was part of His moral perfection. His love made Him a willing victim, but it would have been a blot on the moral beauty of His journey if He did not deprecate such a relative position to God as that He was about to enter into on the cross. Since it cannot be disposed of except He drink it, “not My will, but Thine, be done.”
Then we read, “And there appeared an angel unto Him from heaven, strengthening Him.” He is strengthened for a fresh agony. When He rose, He came to His disciples and found them sleeping. They were His thought, not He theirs! He their thought? They could not watch with Him one hour. So it is now. He ever lives to make intercession for us. Do we live ever to love Him—serve Him? He ever lives for you. Do you ever live for Him?
Then He is plunged into the midst of His enemies. “While He yet spake, behold a multitude, and he that was called Judas  .  .  .  drew near unto Jesus to kiss Him.” One of His disciples makes a mistake—a terrible mistake. It was a mistake arising from a wrong condition of heart. The disciples had not been in Christ’s company as they ought to have been.
Can you imagine, on His way to die—the just for the unjust—to see the ear of a poor sinner touched by a sword! Let us be careful and judge ourselves keenly for such mistakes.
“But this is your hour.” It was the hour of the bruising of the woman’s seed (Gen. 3:15) and He puts Himself into their hands, a willing captive now, as He was a willing victim on the cross.
Did you ever, in light of Scripture, consider what the heart of man is? Look at the priests in the temple in the presence of the rent veil—they plotted a lie. Look at the soldiers in the presence of the rent tomb—they consented to a lie. Now see man in sight of the healed ear. It is in the presence of that that they take Him—they take Him with murderous purpose, while He was performing a wondrous miracle of healing. Tell me what you can do with a heart such as that!
J. G. Bellett (adapted from Notes on the Gospel of Luke)

"Looking Upon Jesus As He Walked": Luke 22:54-71

We now come to the little episode of Peter warming himself. He has sunk down into humanity, becoming, not the companion of Jesus of Gethsemane, but a poor man seeking to warm himself in the outer court of the palace.
There are two things brought to our attention here—the crow and the look. How do we interpret them? They are symbols of two very different things, but two things with which each of us have to do—conscience (the “crow”) and Christ (the “look”).
The crow awakened his conscience; the look placed him with Jesus. I want to have an awakened conscience and an eye by faith directed to Jesus. If we are not all conscious of the cock-crow and the look, we are not yet in the school of God.
My intellectual activity about the things of God will not do. Conscience must be occupied, and faith must be occupied. “Peter went out, and wept bitterly.” But his faith did not fail. He may be sent through sorrow and tears, but his faith does not fail.
Now we come to the council who ask Him, “Art Thou the Christ?” The Lord deals with their condition in answer to their question: “You will not deal with Me righteously, you are set on mischief, and mischief you will have. You are set on My blood, and My blood you will spill.”
Having convicted them, He rises up. “Hereafter shall the Son of Man sit on the right hand of the power of God.” This is the exhibition of Christ in judicial power. Here we see Him in judicial power.
We track Christ to the highest heaven in many characters: Personally as with the Father, His priestly character as making intercession in the sanctuary, and what is presented here—as the One whom earth has sent there. In this character He is waiting until His enemies be made His footstool.
We see here the way in which He was viewed by the Gentiles, by the ecclesiastical and civil powers, that every form of society might be brought in guilty before God. Pilate and Caiaphas might be amiable men, but, as touching God, one and all stand guilty in a common revolted nature.
Do you and I realize that the blessed Lord consented to walk such a path for us? We may well say that such love as that “passeth knowledge.”
J. G. Bellett (from Notes on the Gospel of Luke)

"Looking Upon Jesus As He Walked": Luke 23

What a chapter Luke 23 is! The Lord is closing the old creation. The Sabbath of the old celebrated its perfection; the death of Jesus celebrated its close. The old creation was doomed from the beginning, and if we have not a place in the new creation, touching God, we have nothing.
When the Lord was before the Jews, they brought a charge of making Himself the Son of God. Before the Roman governor, they brought a charge of making Himself a King. He had a right to both of these titles. Both these claims were brought and challenged in a human court. Thus everything [concerning the Lord] was declared untrue, and [in that coming day] everything will be vindicated. We see Him standing as challenged before men; by and by we will find Him vindicated before God.
He avowed Himself a King [in answer to Pilate’s question], but He constantly hid that glory. The Lord Jesus was consciously a vessel of glory, but morally under the necessity of hiding it [before the world].
Before Herod, the Lord Jesus says not a word, for Herod was unmixedly wicked. It is a terrible thing for God to be silent. It is better that he should be speaking to us by chastenings. “Be not silent to me: lest, if Thou be silent to me, I become like them that go down into the pit” (Psa. 28:1).
We are now entering on a moral moment of great solemnity. Why must Pilate “release one” at the Passover? Why, I believe it was just because the Jews would claim from the Roman governor a sign of the dignity that attached to this feast. It was a feast of that time when the Lord of heaven and earth made a great deliverance for them, and in order to keep up the memorial of it, they demanded that one should be delivered unto them.
The question arises then, Will they choose the murderer Barabbas or the Prince of Life? Here we have the deep, full sifting of the heart of man. It tells that his heart in Luke 23 is exactly what it was in Genesis 3. There man preferred the lie of the serpent to the truth of God, while here he prefers a murderer to the Prince of Life. God, the God of life and glory, is given up for a serpent—he who was a “murderer from the beginning.”
Pilate, though still struggling with his conscience, finally succumbs to the Jews’ pressure and condemns the guiltless One.
We pass on to the cross. What do you say about the “spirit” (Luke 23:46)? Have you learned the calm conclusiveness that if the believer’s spirit is now delivered from the body, it is with Jesus? In His own Person the Lord was the first to recognize the spirit’s going to the Father. He was the “firstborn among many brethren”—the firstborn among many spirits.
J. G. Bellett (adapted from Notes on the Gospel of Luke)

"Looking Upon Jesus As He Walked": Luke 24

In Luke 24 we might generally observe that the Lord takes the scene into His own hands. We previously have seen, when He was taken to the garden, that He recognized that moment as the hour of the power of darkness. Man was the principal then; man took Him, and man nailed Him to the tree. This verified the word, “This is your hour.” Man was disposing of the scene as it pleased him.
And so it went on till the three hours of darkness. Then God took it into His hands. That was the time when God bruised Him and made His soul an offering for sin.
It is very desirable that we should see the special characteristic of that moment. All through life, His Father’s countenance was beaming on Him. Was He forsaken of His Father through life? Read His utterance in Psalm 16. But now, according to the prophetic voices, according to the premonitions of John the Baptist, there He was—God’s Lamb.
Then at once He became a conqueror. God did not wait for resurrection to sanction the death of Jesus. He sanctioned it by rending the veil. This was not the public seal, but ere the appointed third day had come for the public seal of resurrection, God put His private seal on it. And the rapidity of it is beautiful. We cannot measure the time between the giving up the ghost and the rending of the veil (Matt. 27:50-51). That was the seal of the satisfaction of the throne.
In two ways He was doing the will of God here. Through life His business here, as at the well of Sychar, was turning darkness into light. That was the will of the Father when He was a living minister. As a dying victim He was doing the will of the throne. The throne where judgment was seated was satisfied when Jesus gave up the ghost. One was doing the will of the Father; the other was doing the will of God in judgment.
After that, having passed through man’s hour and God’s hour, we see Him in resurrection in His own hour. His own hour is eternity. How blessed to be in His company, to enter a bright and intimate eternity with Jesus.
J. G. Bellett (from Notes on the Gospel of Luke)

The Lord's Strength

“The joy of the Lord is your strength” (Neh. 8:10).
O Lord, my strength is small,
But Thou art over all;
Help me to take it all from Thee;
What Thou dost send is best for me.
When I can’t work, ’tis Thou dost teach,
“Don’t dwell on self, but others reach
By letter, or uphold in prayer,
That they may feel My loving care.”
A channel clean, Lord, let me be,
To tell of Thy salvation free;
And when another day is done,
That I may sense a victory won.
Not having yielded to despair,
(Self-pity  .  .  .  Satan’s subtle snare);
Thus Thine the glory well may be,
My strength may fail, but I have Thee!
Thou hast a purpose to leave me thus;
Not understanding, yet help me trust;
I thank Thee for my “lack of strength,”
I might spend to “enjoy myself.”
Whereas at Thy disposal now,
To Thy wise will I gladly bow;
Yielding to Thee, heart-joy I find;
Thou dost keep my spirit, soul and mind.
I have so much  .  .  .  I thank Thee  .  .  .  for
All my needs are met, and more!
“Yes, Lord.” While on Thee my thoughts I turn,
I feel fulfilled, till Thy return.
M. Van Spengen
Jesus said: “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by Me” (John 14:6).

Love Can't Wait

Ed. Note: The following has been adapted from comments of a young brother. We feel they are very timely for our day—fitting for the exercise of all.
The moral lie encompassed in the statement “love can’t wait” is being perpetrated throughout the world today, especially in so-called Christian lands.
Moral corruption is conveyed many ways, especially the media—such as radio, television and movies. Such thinking has affected Christians. We have become hardened to corrupted lifestyles that a few decades ago were considered perverse and immoral. Biblical standards are considered archaic and old-fashioned. Humanism teaches that as we become more sophisticated, we must get in tune with our emotional needs—apart from any godly restraints.
The truth is found in Ecclesiastes 1:9. “The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun.” Further, in Jeremiah 17:9: “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” One can never know the depths of his heart—its lust, greed and all manner of immorality. “He that trusteth in his own heart is a fool” (Prov. 28:26).
A scholar once commented that “history teaches us that man learns nothing from history.” Sadly, Christians often prove this truth spiritually. Rather than heeding the warnings of God’s Word, the flesh is allowed, and a pathway of feeding and acting upon lust is embarked upon. It’s very hard to stop once you begin that road—something like having no brakes in a speeding car approaching a hairpin curve!
Matthew 5:28 is sobering for the conscience. “I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.” I’ve heard all sorts of statements made to nullify its full impact. But man can’t circumvent God’s unchanging truth.
What are we to do? Trust in and rely upon Him! There are, in the Word, wonderful promises of needed strength to stand against this flood of immorality. “God is my strength and power” (2 Sam. 22:33). “The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusted in Him, and I am helped” (Psa. 28:7). “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding” (Prov. 3:5).
Regarding moral temptation, Scripture is very clear—flee (2 Tim. 2:22)! When Potiphar’s wife tried to seduce Joseph, he didn’t stay and reason with her. “She caught him by his garment, saying, Lie with me: and he left his garment in her hand, and fled, and got him out” (Gen. 39:12). The language of verse 10 suggests that he didn’t want to be anywhere near her and her temptations.
Furthermore, Satan’s lies haven’t changed. They are all bright, attractive-appearing packages which often fall into one of three categories.
First, he says, “You can’t trust God.” When Satan entered into conversation with Eve, his first recorded words were, “Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?” (Gen. 3:1). A seed of doubt was planted in her mind and then Satan openly contradicted God: “Ye shall not surely die.”
Next, Satan insinuates that “God is withholding something from you.” “God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil” (Gen. 3:5). He ever seeks to get the believer to question the goodness of God!
Third, Adam is caught—perhaps by the same false reasoning that we hear today: “Everybody’s doing it—you can too!” “She gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat” (Gen. 3:6). First Timothy 2:14 tells us that “Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression.” Adam knew it was wrong; he knew the consequences of disobedience, but he did it anyway. After all, everybody else (Eve) had done it! To use the excuse that “everyone does it” is but to accept Satan’s lie.
May God help each of us to walk in purity and righteousness before our God, for “as He is, so are we in this world” (1 John 4:17). “Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way? by taking heed thereto according to Thy word” (Psa. 119:9).
“Flee fornication. Every sin that a man doeth is without the body; but he that committeth fornication sinneth against his own body” (1 Cor. 6:18).
“Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers  .  .  .  in purity” (1 Tim. 4:12).
A. Scharf (adapted)

A Loving Word to Parents

It is vital that parents gain the ear of their dear children. Of what benefit will the most godly wisdom be to one who won’t hear? Yet we must admit that when our children don’t listen to us, it can’t always be assumed to be their fault. Often we fail to gain their heart’s confidence through love. Then when we warn and instruct them, our directions may meet with unresponsive ears.
This vital principle is clearly seen in Scripture. Consider John 1:29,36-37: “John  .  .  .  saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.  .  .  .  And looking upon Jesus as he walked, he saith, Behold the Lamb of God! And the two disciples heard him speak, and they followed Jesus.” Why did those two disciples hear John speak? Because their hearts had first been won by beholding His perfect display of love and tenderness. They became willing listeners and then followed Jesus.
Earnestly strive in love to win your children’s hearts and confidence, for then they will be eager listeners to your words of instruction.
“Speaking the truth in love” (Eph. 4:15).
Adapted from Parenting Principles for Christians
Ed. Note: On page 157 of the June 2001 issue of Christian Shepherd, in the article entitled “Meditations on Musical Worship,” the comment is made: “The Christian’s clothing is the Lord Jesus Christ (Rom. 13:14), which is called the righteousness of saints (Rev. 19:8).” We would mention that in Revelation 19:8 it is the righteousness of the saints—referring more particularly to the things done in the body by each one who has received eternal life.

Man and God

“Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and prophets” (Matt. 7:12).
The law and the prophets bore testimony as to what man should be, both to men and to God. Christianity bears testimony as to what God is to man.
Then, when this revelation of God, in the Person of His Son becoming Man, is received by grace through faith, we are called to be imitators of God. What a blessed thought! How elevating to the soul, to realize that now, as His children, we have not simply to show what man should be, but now are called to “be  .  .  . imitators of God, as beloved children” (Eph. 5:1 JND).
Oh! to represent Him in light in this scene of darkness, to represent His heart of love in this world of hate. He has declared Himself at Calvary’s cross. Until then, our Lord’s heart was straightened, unable to show Himself in love to man. Until then (Calvary) that great light could not “shine out of darkness” (2 Cor. 4:6). Now He is revealed, in light and in love, and now we represent Him as to what He is. “What hath God wrought” (Num. 23:23).

"Master, Where Dwellest Thou?"

John 1:38-39
John stands with two of his disciples. Someone captivates his attention; an Object fills his soul. He exclaims, “Behold the Lamb of God!” (John 1:36).
How does John’s delight affect his two disciples? As a magnet exerts its irresistible force on nails that are near it, so these two are attracted to this blessed One and they follow Him.
Is that a problem for John? Is he jealous when some of his disciples leave him to follow Jesus? Not in the least. His whole mission is to point souls to Christ. The priests and Levites ask him, “What sayest thou of thyself?” and he answers, “I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness, Make straight the way of the Lord” (John 1:22-23). “He must increase, but I must decrease” (ch. 3:30). John is content to be nothing so that this One, of whom he speaks and to whom he points others, receives all the glory.
When Jesus sees them following Him, He asks them, “What seek ye?” (ch. 1:38). He tests the depth of their reality in leaving their former leader to follow Him.
Their answer is most beautiful. They say to Him, “Rabbi, (which is to say, being interpreted, Master,) where dwellest Thou?” (vs. 38). They address Him as the One supremely worthy to teach them. From now on, they will follow Him.
“Come and See”
How does the Lord reply to their question? Simply three words: “Come and see” (vs. 39). When Ananias is given instructions to visit the young believer Saul, he is told the name of the street in Damascus where Saul is staying (Acts 9:11). Cornelius sees in a vision the command to send for Peter, and he’s told the town, the owner of the guest house, his occupation, and a description of the location of the house (Acts 10:56). Why doesn’t the Lord Jesus give a similar identification? Why does He only respond with “Come and see”?
First, He desires companionship, and that can only be enjoyed by following close to Him. Second, He is the leader, and He desires that His disciples—His followers—stay in constant dependence on Him so that direction for every step comes from Him alone. And third, He wants to teach us that where He dwells—where He abides—is not a question of a physical address, but rather He wants to teach us moral principles that may characterize His people of any age, so that they—we too—might experience the joy of His presence.
What is the response with these two who were formerly John’s disciples? They go and see where He dwells, and they “abode with Him that day” (vs. 39). Those five words—“Behold the Lamb of God!”—are all it takes to completely fix their attention on the Lord Jesus, and their feet eagerly follow Him so that they can be with Him.
“It was about the tenth hour” (vs. 39). The number “ten” in the Scriptures pictures man in his responsibility before God. Here, the reference to the tenth hour—and the implication that they stayed from that point on to the end of the day—suggests that we must come to the realization that man in responsibility has completely failed and that the only place of peace and rest for our souls is found in the Man Christ Jesus.
Let us, then, follow Him, through His Word, and seek to learn something of the moral characteristics of that place where He dwells.
The Majesty of His Person
“Thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy; I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones” (Isa. 57:15).
“Our Lord Jesus Christ: which in His times He shall show, who is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords; who only hath immortality, dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto; whom no man hath seen, nor can see: to whom be honor and power everlasting” (1 Tim. 6:14-16).
We are going to find, as we trace the footsteps of this blessed Man, that He is accessible and intimate. He shares the secrets and feelings of His heart with those who abide with Him. He graciously and tenderly sympathizes with their cares, sorrows and needs.
But we must never forget the majesty of His Person. He is God and man in one inscrutable Person. He is “the Lord of glory” (1 Cor. 2:8). He is “over all, God blessed forever” (Rom. 9:5). “Who being the brightness of His [God’s] glory, and the express image of His person” (Heb. 1:3). He inhabits eternity, and His “name is Holy” (Isa. 57:15). As God, this glorious Person alone possesses—in Himself—immortality and dwells in unapproachable light (1 Tim. 6:16).
Worship and Reverence
This holy One deserves our worship and our reverence. The Apostle John was rebuked for attempting to worship an angel and was told that worship belongs only to God (Rev. 22:8-9), but numerous individuals prostrated themselves before the Son of God when He was on earth. Their worship was always accepted. Surely our first thought, when we are conscious of being in the presence of this blessed Person, ought to be to render honor and worship from the overflow of our hearts for the majesty of who He is.
It well becomes us to follow, in spirit, the instruction given to Moses when he was in God’s presence: “Put off thy shoes from off thy feet, for the place whereon thou standest is holy ground” (Ex. 3:5). Joshua, too, was told to take the same, low place (Josh. 5:15). Isaiah calls it the “contrite and humble spirit” (ch. 57:15). It is a heart that is not occupied with itself at all, but “Christ is everything” (Col. 3:11 JND). On the mount of transfiguration, after Peter’s suggestion was corrected by the voice out of the cloud, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye Him,” the disciples “fell on their face,  .  .  .  and when they had lifted up their eyes, they saw no man, save Jesus only” (Matt. 17:5-8).
Look what He then tells us: “I dwell  .  .  .  with him (Isa. 57:15). He longs for companionship and He vouchsafes it to those who acknowledge the deity of His Person and take their proper place before Him. In eternity He will surround Himself with children—those who are “made nigh by the blood of Christ” (Eph. 2:13)—and He wants us to experience and enjoy the blessing of nearness to Himself right now and all the way home.
He also promises “to revive the spirit  .  .  .  to revive the heart.” What sympathy and comfort we find in the presence of this One. Mary and Martha send for Him when their brother Lazarus is sick, and they take refuge at His side after he dies (John 11). When Peter’s mother-in-law is sick, “they tell Him of her” (Mark 1:30). Not only does He heal sickness and even raise the dead, but He also lifts the fainting heart and boosts the drooping spirit, like the two disappointed, downcast disciples who were going away from Jerusalem toward Emmaus. “They said one to another, Did not our heart burn within us, while He talked with us by the way, and while He opened to us the scriptures?” (Luke 24:32).
What a Saviour! “To the only wise God our Saviour, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever” (Jude 25). “Awaiting the blessed hope and appearing of the glory of our great God and Saviour Jesus Christ” (Titus 2:13 JND).
D. R. Macy

Meditation on the Church

The church, as the bride, is the object of Christ’s love. This love was proved even unto death, when He, the eternal Son of God, bore the wrath and the judgment of God, exhausting all of it, that we might know nothing of those waves and billows. By this He revealed the depth of the divine bosom, while, at the same time, making atonement for sin according to the holiness of God. Language itself is exhausted in telling the suffering of those three hours of darkness when the wrath of God fell upon Him—He, the very One upon whom the heavens opened to declare that He was, and is, the delight of the Father’s heart.
Every moral glory shone out in noonday radiancy at the cross. God was there made known in His holiness. He who dwells “in the light which no man can approach unto” (1 Tim. 6:16) was judging sin according to the true nature of God. At the same time He revealed Himself in love in its fullest measure.
Christ suffered all this so that we might know the divine bosom in all its blessedness as the source from which we have received grace and been made heirs together with Him. Christ in resurrection is the beginning of new creation. The church, His bride, shares His headship over all things.
While we rejoice in the truth that “the Son of God  .  .  .  loved me, and gave Himself for me” (Gal. 2:20), as an individual, let us never forget what the church is to Christ collectively. Everyone that is indwelt of the Spirit now forms part of the body of Christ. How rich the revelation of this blessedness! Paul received it by revelation from Christ in glory (Eph. 3:1-10).
He tells us of the precious expression of it in the breaking of bread, when the unbroken loaf on the table speaks to our hearts of our place as members of His body (1 Cor. 10:17). The broken loaf tells us of His death (1 Cor. 11:24), for “Christ  .  .  .  loved the church, and gave Himself for it” (Eph. 5:25).
How precious to “come together,” as gathered in His name, not as a sect or party, but as members of His body, gathered by His Spirit to give expression to the truth of the “one body” in the breaking of the bread, till He comes to receive His bride.
The church, united to Christ in glory, is absolutely heavenly in calling and hope. We are now gathered to a rejected Christ (John 12:32). At His coming we shall be gathered to a glorified Christ (Eph. 1:10). The life we have received is heavenly in its source (1 John 1:13). The Object of that life is Christ in glory (Phil. 3). The hope of that life is our being “glorified together” with Him (Rom. 8:17).
The church will be the Eve in His paradise, the Queen on His throne, the richest and brightest glory of the inheritance He has won.
When God calls any out of the world, He betroths them to His Son to be one with Him in thought, desire and hope now and eventually to be glorified together with Him in His glory! Oh! Let us not lose in our souls the preciousness of what the church is to Him!
H. E. Hayhoe (excerpted)

Meditations on Musical Worship

Because the law given by Moses was a test of the natural man’s ability to meet God’s holy standards, everything depended upon his doing something. Then—under law—worship and praise were characterized by the five senses: sight, touch, smell, taste and hearing.
1. The Israelites had a magnificent temple built of great, costly stones and covered with pure gold -something they could see.
2. The high priest wore a beautiful robe for glory and beauty. It was made with materials that not only could be seen; they could be felt.
3. The priests burned sweet incense every morning. This sweet fragrance was, among other things, also used to anoint the priest. Its odor could be smelled.
4. The priests, after offering meal-offerings, sin-offerings and peace-offerings were to eat them-something they could taste.
5. Certain Levites were appointed to be singers, accompanied by musical instruments such as cymbals, psalteries and harps - which was for the hearing. This form of praise was heard.
The history of man seeking to please God is one of utter failure. The final proof of it is seen when He sends His well-beloved Son into the world, and the world rejects and casts Him out. Those who have believed are made a new creation in Christ (2 Cor. 5:17 JND). Such a one is able to appreciate that which is spiritual (1 Cor. 2:14).
Today—the day of grace—Christian worship and praise is spiritual rather than physical in character:
1. The Christian himself is part of the temple of God (see Eph. 2:19-22), in which the Holy Spirit dwells. His body, also, is individually the dwelling-place of the Spirit (1 Cor. 6:19). In Ephesians 2:19-22 we learn that the believer is part of that building whose foundation is Christ - a building that is growing, one which cannot be physically seen.
2. The Christian’s clothing is the Lord Jesus Christ (Rom. 13:14), which is called the righteousness of saints (Rev. 19:8) - not a physical garment.
3. The sweet-smelling fragrance offered to God is Christ (Eph. 5:2) - not a physical smell.
4. What the Christian tastes is the graciousness of the Lord (1 Peter 2:3) - not a physical taste.
5. The Christian’s music is an overflowing heart of praise to God (Eph. 5:19) by Christ (Heb. 13:15) - no instruments can be heard.
First Peter 2:5 summarizes this: “Ye also as lively [living] stones, are built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ.”
“Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord” (Eph. 5:19).
S. Klassen (adapted)

Meditations on the Lord's Garments

“All Thy garments smell of myrrh, and aloes, and cassia, out of the ivory palaces, whereby they have made Thee glad” (Psa. 45:8).
The psalmist is speaking prophetically of the Lord Jesus. He is now gone back to heaven and when He comes back to this earth the second time, He’s going to be exalted in glory and majesty. But here we read that all His garments smell of myrrh, aloes and cassia. What lovely, sweet fragrances characterize our blessed Lord Jesus Christ! Let’s consider a few of the garments that He wore as He walked through this world.
The Garment of Humility
“She brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped Him in swaddling clothes, and laid Him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn” (Luke 2:7).
There He lay—the blessed Son of God wrapped in swaddling clothes. The God—Creator—of the universe, who could choose whichever way He wanted to come into this world, chose to come that way. Does that not touch our hearts? How precious it is that the Lord Jesus would empty Himself, come into this world without any fanfare, lie there in a humble manger in the garments of a newborn baby, and all because He loved us so much.
The Garment of Healing
Next we read in Matthew 9:20-21, “Behold, a woman, which was diseased with an issue of blood twelve years, came behind Him, and touched the hem of His garment: for she said within herself, If I may but touch His garment, I shall be whole.”
What a picture of the need of each soul, lost in sin. The Lord Jesus “came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” She touched and was healed, but the disciples couldn’t understand why He would desire to know who touched Him. Oh, the Lord Jesus knows your heart, and He desires that you, too, might in faith reach out and touch His garment. What blessing, joy, healing and liberty will be yours!
The Garment of Service
“He riseth from supper, and laid aside His garments; and took a towel, and girded Himself. After that He poureth water into a basin, and began to wash the disciples’ feet, and to wipe them with the towel wherewith He was girded” (John 13:45).
We see here that the Lord Jesus lays aside His garments in order to serve His beloved disciples. Are we willing to do that for our brethren? He takes the place of a servant, though He is Lord of all, and washes His disciples’ feet. What infinite grace on His part to do that, just before He went to the cross! What a fragrance of myrrh, aloes and cassia!
The Garment of Glory
“After six days Jesus taketh with Him Peter, and James, and John, and leadeth them up into a high mountain apart by themselves: and He was transfigured before them. And His raiment became shining, exceeding white as snow; so as no fuller on earth can white them” (Mark 9:23).
The Lord Jesus has a unique place—a place above every man. Here the disciples have an opportunity to see His Godhead glory being unveiled. When this world sees Him the next time, they’re going to see Him in this character too. But we can by faith see Him “crowned with glory and honor” (Heb. 2:9) even now. What fragrance we enjoy in the measure in which we enjoy His garments of glory.
The Garment of Mockery
“They stripped Him, and put on Him a scarlet robe. And when they had platted a crown of thorns, they put it on His head, and a reed in His right hand: and they bowed the knee before Him, and mocked Him, saying, Hail, King of the Jews! And they spit upon Him, and took the reed, and smote Him on the head” (Matt. 27:28-30).
The heart of man is fully revealed here. They strip the Lord of glory of His garments—those that smell of myrrh, aloes and cassia. How very poor He became that we might be rich (2 Cor. 8:9)! Man wickedly stripped the Lord Jesus of everything—even taking His garments from Him.
Yet how infinitely precious that He was willing to go through all that for us. The day is coming when man must give answer to God for his treatment of His beloved Son. Then He will be clothed with garments of judgment (Rev. 1:13; 19:13). What a solemn day that will be for those who rejected Him as Saviour.
For we, the redeemed, may we daily delight in the sweet fragrance of His garments.
Ralph Klassen (adapted)

Meditations on the Lord's Prayer

John 17
The gracious ministry of our Lord Jesus Christ, before the world, is over. The loving discourses with the disciples are finished. All being closed on earth, the Lord looks heavenward toward that home into which He will so soon enter. The Lord has spoken to the disciples of the Father—now we hear Him speak to the Father concerning His disciples.
The prayer stands alone among all prayers by reason of the glorious Person by whom it is uttered. Who but a divine Person could say, “That they may be one, as We” (John 17:11), and again, “That they also may be one in Us” (vs. 21). Such utterances could never fall from human lips. Deny the deity of His Person, and these words would become the blasphemies of an impostor.
The prayer is alone, too, by reason of its unique character. It has been pointed out by another that “it has no voice of confession  .  .  .  no echo, however distant, of recognition of sin, no tone that is touched with a feeling of demerit or defect  .  .  .  no intimation of inferiority or entreaty for help.”
We are arrested by its comprehensiveness. We listen to One who speaks of an eternity before the foundation of the world, as having had part in that glorious past. We hear Him speak of His perfect pathway upon earth. We are carried on to the apostolic days by One to whom the future is an open book. We listen to words which cover the whole period of the church’s pilgrimage on earth, as we hear the Lord’s desires for those who will believe on Him through the apostles’ words. Finally, we are carried in thought to coming eternity, when we shall be with Christ and like Christ.
As we listen to these heart-breathings of our Lord, we feel that while our passage through this world is still in view, yet we are carried beyond the passing things of time to contemplate the changeless things of eternity. However needful feet-washing, however blessed fruit-bearing, however great the privilege to testify and suffer for Christ, yet such things are hardly in view. Rather, it is those greater things which, while they may be known and enjoyed in time, belong to eternity. Life eternal, the Father’s name, the Father’s words, the Father’s love, the joy of Christ, holiness, unity and glory are eternal things which will abide when time will have forever passed.
Moreover, as we listen to our Lord’s prayer, we learn the desires of His blessed heart, so that the believer can say, “I know the desire of His heart for me.” This must be so, for perfect prayer is the expression of the heart’s desire. Alas! with ourselves, our prayers may often become formal and, as such, only the expression of what we like others to think is the desire of our hearts. No element of formality enters into this divine prayer. All is as perfect as the One who prays.
H. Smith (excerpted)

Musings on "Free-Will"

Free-will changes the whole idea of Christianity and entirely perverts it. If Christ came to save that which is lost, free-will had no more place. God employs all possible motives—everything—to exert influence over the heart of man. Yet this only proves man’s heart to be so corrupt—his will so determined not to submit to God—that man will have none of it (Psa. 14:1,3; John 3:32).
It may be the devil who encourages man in his sin, but nothing can induce him to receive the Lord and forsake his sin. Of course, no one forces man to reject the Lord (John 5:40). But man cannot voluntarily escape from his condition and choose the good, even though he acknowledges it to be good. He has no liberty whatever, for he is not subject to the law, neither indeed can be, so that they that are in the flesh cannot please God (Rom. 8:7-8).
Further, we ask: Is it the old man that is changed, instructed and sanctified, or do we, in order to be saved, receive a new nature? For myself, I see in the Word and recognize in myself the total ruin of man. The cross is the end of all means that God employed to gain the heart of man. Consequently, the cross proves the thing to be impossible. God, as it were, has exhausted all His resources; man has shown that he is wicked beyond recovery; the cross of Christ condemns man—sin in the flesh (Rom. 8:3).
But this condemnation has been expressed in Another’s undergoing it. Thus, for those who believe, it is their absolute salvation. Life has come out of this condemnation in resurrection. We are dead to sin and alive to God in Jesus Christ our Lord (Rom. 6:11). The very word redemption loses its force if we allow these ideas of the old man.
Christianity teaches the death of the old man (Col. 3:3), not an amelioration of or practical deliverance from that moral state. Redemption has been accomplished by Christ. A new life—eternal life—come down in His person is communicated to us when Christ enters into us by the Word.
False doctrines rampant in Christianity today teach that man can choose, and thus the old man is improved—made better—by the thing he has accepted. But this means that the first step is made without grace—an infinitely costly step in this case.
While I believe we ought to keep to the Word of God, philosophically and morally speaking, free-will is a false and absurd theory. Free-will is a state of sin. Man ought not to have to choose, as being outside good. He ought not to have a will—ought not to need to make a choice; he ought to obey and enjoy in peace. But why is he in such a state? If he has to choose good, then he has not got it yet. He is without that which is good in himself, at any rate, since he is not decided.
In fact, the truth is that man is disposed to follow that which is evil. What cruelty to propose the duty to choose good to a man who is already turned to evil (Rom. 3:12)! Furthermore, to make a choice, he must be absolutely indifferent; otherwise, he has already chosen as to his will. Then, if he is indeed absolutely indifferent, what is to decide his choice? A creature must have a motive—yet he has none since he is indifferent. But if he is not indifferent to good and evil, then he has already made his choice.
In fact and in truth, it is not so. Man has a conscience, but he also has a will and lusts (Eph. 2:3), and it is they which lead him. In the paradise of Eden man was truly free—but then it was in his enjoyment of good. Sadly, he made use of his free-will to choose evil, and consequently he is a sinner.
To leave him to his free-will now that he is disposed to only do evil would be cruelty. God has indeed presented to him the choice. But it was to convince his conscience of the fact that, in any case, man would have neither good nor God.
For man to believe that God loves the world is all right. But for man to refuse to believe that he is in himself wicked beyond remedy (and not withstanding the remedy) is very bad (Jer. 17:9; Rom. 7:18). They know not themselves and they know not God. The Lord is coming and the time for the world is passing away. What a blessing! May God find us watching and thinking of only one thing—of Him about whom God thinks—Jesus, our precious Saviour.
J. N. Darby (adapted)
Ed. Note: The original letter written by Mr. Darby on the subject of free-will is available in individual tract format, as well as in the 3volume set of his letters. A few Scripture references have been added as suggesting some of the many scriptures which support this true and vital teaching.

My Little Boy's Bible

“Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against Thee. Blessed art Thou, O Lord: teach me Thy statutes” (Psa. 119:11-12).
My little boy’s first Bible
Is the greatest thrill he’s known;
There’s a sweet, unique excitement
In a Bible all his own!
And yet my heart is smitten
At this touching sight I see;
Has this reverence for that Bible
Depended much on me?
As I see him with his Bible,
I bow my head and pray;
May he always love that Bible
The way he does today.
Then I hear a voice within me
Speak in solemn words and true:
“How he cherishes that Bible
Will depend a lot on you!”
I love my Bible better
Since I’ve seen the beaming joy
This wonderful possession
Has afforded to my boy.
May I seek to give mine daily
A devotion he can see,
For the love he bears his Bible
Will depend a lot on me.
“O taste and see that the Lord is good: blessed is the man that trusteth in Him” (Psalm 34:8).

My Neighbor's Bible

I am my neighbor’s Bible;
He reads me when we meet;
Today he reads me in my home,
Tomorrow in the street.
He may be relative or friend,
Or slight acquaintance be;
He may not even know my name,
Yet he is reading me.
And pray, who is this neighbor
Who reads me day by day,
To learn if I am living right
And walking as I pray?
Oh, he is with me always
To criticize or blame;
So worldly-wise in his own eyes,
And “sinner” is his name.
Dear Christian friends and brethren,
If we could only know
How faithfully the world records
Just what we say and do,
Oh, we would write our record plain
And come in time to see
Our worldly neighbor won to Christ
While reading you and me.
“The Son of Man is come to seek and to save that which was lost” (Luke 19:10).

My Pain - Worth My Eternal Gain

My days are full of grief and sorrow,
But I know the Lord my Saviour
Will bring me a better tomorrow,
Because He loves me dearly,
More than I can comprehend;
He died for me on Calvary’s tree
And shed His precious blood for me.
So now by faith I can draw near
To Jesus who’s a friend so dear;
He’ll help me in my times of fear
And also in my times of cheer.
Now I wait for Him to draw nigh
And come for me in a cloudless sky
To take me to His home on high;
What a moment that will be!
Then I’ll see His precious face,
His visage marred, His body scarred,
And then I’ll think of all my pain
And say it’s worth my eternal gain.
Kyle Brown
Ed. Note: The above poem was written by 13-year-old Kyle after learning that he has diabetes.

"Occupy Till I Come"

“Watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry” (2 Tim. 4:5). “Fix your eyes on those walking thus as you have us for a model” (Phil. 3:17 JND).
A dear brother, 86 years of age, recently went home to be with the Lord. Never married, he felt the small two-room cabin he lived in for much of his life was enough for him. It was more than His Lord had.
He was a true evangelist, often found giving out tracts or preaching the gospel. He once said, “I don’t ask people if they are a Christian or believe in God; rather, ‘Do you know the way to heaven?’  ” Whether they answered “yes” or “no,” he could give them the gospel. Like a good fisherman, he was prepared. His automobile had room for the driver only, due to boxes of gospel literature which filled its empty seats. He was often seen walking the streets of town or waiting outside public events to give out the gospel.
The time came when our brother finally agreed to enter a nursing home. Not long before, he had gone down to the creek below his little cabin to get water. On his way back up the hill he slipped on the icy grass and fell. He could not move his legs, and so he just laid there and “talked with Jesus  .  .  .  and rested.”
Upon admission to the nursing home, a state representative told him he could not preach in his new residence. He promptly informed her he could not go there then. She later relented, and he continued to do as he had always done—preach the gospel to all who would listen.
R. DeWitt (adapted)

On Prayer - 4 Nails - 4 Principles - 1 Shepherd

“Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost” (2 Peter 1:20-21).
“The words of the wise are as goads, and as nails fastened by the masters of assemblies, which are given from one shepherd” (Eccl. 12:11).
When we consider a verse of Scripture, the entire Word of God has to be brought to bear. Scripture was not brought together by man’s will, but holy men of God were moved (carried along) by the Holy Spirit. This is the concept of the inspiration of Scripture.
As an illustration, let’s consider this verse: “Whatsoever ye shall ask in My name, that will I do” (John 14:13). Wonderful promise! It encourages us to pray and it is unqualified. Here, the Shepherd speaks on earth, laying down a principle encouraging us to pray. But some might say, “But there’s nothing which would limit that. All you have to do is ask in His name and the Lord will do it.” Now, without taking away anything from the power of this wonderful scripture, we want to show that no part of Scripture is of private interpretation. You can’t take one scripture in isolation from other scriptures.
“This is the confidence that we have in Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He heareth us” (1 John 5:14). This “nail” was given by the same Shepherd, but now from heaven and with an additional, very important thought. Prayer is not only in His name, but according to His will. Where do we learn His will? Only in the Word of God.
“Ye have not, because ye ask not. Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts” (James 4:23).
Here it is the same Shepherd still speaking from heaven. We learn now that believing faith in prayer is necessary. Believing in praying is a wonderful thing; we all need more of it. What a searching thing when we start to pray. Are we asking for something amiss to consume it on our own lusts?
Then in Psalm 66:18 we have another “nail.” “If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me.” Let us be searched by these words of the one Shepherd. If I come to the Lord with some unjudged sin, I do well to think and consider this Scripture.
“I will therefore, that the men pray everywhere, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting [or reasoning]” (1 Tim. 2:8). This indicates that men (in contrast with women) are to pray everywhere. What an important thing prayer is! What an encouragement that it is the will of God that I should pray.
What is lifting up holy hands? It is hands that have been doing the will of the Lord. How often men tend to reason in praying. How much better to put matters in God’s hands.
The principle we have applied to scriptures about praying applies to everything that God says.
R. K. Gorgas

On Praying and the Prayer Meeting

“Pray one for another.  .  .  .  The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much” (James 5:16).
“They continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers” (Acts 2:42).
If, in this assembly meeting, each heart was set upon the living God, how the power of Christ’s presence would be realized! In prayer, the most important thing is to get to the ear of Him to whom we speak. Waiting on the Lord, in humble and silent acknowledgment of His holy presence and nearness, is the first and best beginning for a prayer meeting.
If, from the very beginning, we are face to face with God and His presence is the controlling power, there will be prayer “in the Spirit.” Then, too, even before prayer is begun, there will be blessing.
Prayers need not be overly long. All the prayers recorded in Scripture are short. One of the shortest is the publican’s in Luke 18:13, while Solomon’s, at the dedication of the temple, is the longest. Yet it can be repeated slowly and deliberately in less than seven minutes. Long, drawn-out prayers can weaken or deaden a prayer meeting. Praying “all night” is wonderful (see Luke 6:12), but perhaps we should do so in our bedrooms. Prayers edify most when brief. Perhaps it would be better to pray twice than “wear out the saints” with lengthy discourses intended for edification or exhortation.
Such a revival in our prayer meetings and in the spirit of our prayers surely would result in greater blessing. Let us pay careful attention to the words of Psalm 62:5, “My soul, wait thou only upon God,” putting this principle to practice by taking time to be still before God when praying.
Finally, in order that the assembly gathered together in prayer might be able to say “Amen,” let each brother who prays do so in a position and a voice which all in attendance may readily hear.
“When Thou saidst, Seek ye My face; my heart said unto Thee, Thy face, Lord, will I seek” (Psa. 27:8).
“Unceasing prayer was made by the assembly to God” (Acts 12:5 JND).
N. Berry

"One Sacrifice for Sins"

“This man, after He had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down on the right hand of God” (Heb. 10:12).
Just one sacrifice for sin paid the debt. And when you and I find ourselves in that holy heaven above, our only title to be there will be based upon what that blessed One accomplished on the cross of Calvary for us. He paid the price; He made the purgation; He purchased our entrance into that holy, happy place, where we can be in the Father’s house forever. What a wonderful thing to be a Christian!
And, too, it is wonderful to give all praise and adoration to the One who opened up the way for us. Apart from Him, we were hopeless, without God and without Christ—poor Gentile dogs! Yet here we are now, enjoying God’s favor, accepted in the Beloved, and brought nigh through the blood of Christ.
“By one offering He hath perfected forever [or, perfected in perpetuity] them that are sanctified” (Heb. 10:14). This is no halfway salvation! There is no trial and error here. Oh, no, we are not on probation; it is a settled thing—it is a finished work (see John 19:30). If you and I have crossed the line, if we have in truth come to Christ and a real work has been wrought in our souls, regardless of what happens, we will never find ourselves in outer darkness with the lost. Never!
It says, “He hath perfected forever them that are sanctified.” Oh, believe it; let your soul rest upon it. There will never be a soul in hell who will be permitted to look up and say to the Lord Jesus, “Once I was safe in your arms.” Never! Those blessed, pierced hands of His have never lost a person. Isn’t that good news?
Have you trusted yourself to Him? Then relax in His arms. You can be sure He is never going to let you be lost. Of course, this is one side of the truth—the other side is the showing of our appreciation for what He has done for us. But first we need to be firmly grounded on the work of Christ—that it is all of Himself—that it is final. There are no questions to be raised about it. He has given us His Word. He has shown His title to do that work. He had His credentials with Him when He came into this world.
C. H. Brown (1963 address; adapted)

Our High Priest

It says of our Lord, “He came to Nazareth, where He had been brought up” (Luke 4:16). Then it says, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He hath anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor; He hath sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised” (Luke 4:18). All of these sad conditions were found in the place where our Lord had been brought up.
How He must have felt those things through His childhood days—to see all of the suffering around Him and yet not to heal or relieve them, it not being yet the time for the Father to have Him do so.
He groaned in spirit at graves and wept with those that wept. He felt all of this and then went into death that in a coming day these things might be forever put away. All of these experiences during the lifetime of our Lord perfected Him for His present service—that of a sympathizing High Priest (Heb. 2:17-18; 4:15-16).
Now it is the privilege of those who love Him to pass through those experiences of groaning and sorrow, too, as we await the redemption of these bodies of humiliation (Rom. 8:23). In trials we experience the comfort of God and gain an experience by which we are enabled to comfort others. “Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God” (2 Cor. 1:4). “Finally, be ye all of one mind, having compassion [sympathizing] one of another” (1 Peter 3:8).
H. Short

Partaking of the Lord's Supper Worthily

“Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: and see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting” (Psa. 139:23-24).
“If a man love Me, he will keep My words: and My Father will love him, and We will come unto him, and make Our abode with him” (John 14:23).
“Let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup. For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body” (1 Cor. 11:28-29).
How precious to realize the desire of our God to have His dear children walking in joy and fellowship with Himself. “Keeping short accounts,” as another has said, is vitally important for each believer, in order that the joy of daily communion and the unhindered joy of fellowship with the Lord when remembering Him in death be maintained.
Even as a pilot of an airplane carefully runs through a checklist to insure that all is well before flying, so it ought to be with believers. “Is there anything about this vessel which would prevent me from enjoying happy fellowship with my Lord?” If so, let it quickly be confessed that fellowship not be hindered. Scripture anticipates that this will occur when it says, “So let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup.”
Let’s consider some things that may hinder happy communion in the remembrance of the Lord.
Sin Is a Hindrance
“If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves. .  .  . If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us” (1 John 1:8-9).
It is not only that the believer may sin, but he becomes defiled by the sin around him. All sin is against the Lord Jesus, so that if a believer comes to the Lord’s table with unconfessed sin, he cannot enjoy happy fellowship with the Host of that table. But once sin is confessed, that fellowship is restored.
Resentment or Bitterness Is a Hindrance
“Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him?  .  .  .  Jesus saith  .  .  .  Until seventy times seven” (Matt. 18:21-22). “Be ye kind  .  .  . tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you” (Eph. 4:32).
How can one child of God enjoy full and happy fellowship with the Lord Jesus at His table, if he harbors a bitter, unforgiving feeling against another child of God—one for whom Christ died?
No father could happily eat a meal with his family, knowing that one of his dear children held a bitter, hateful spirit against his brother or sister. A child with a bitter spirit against a sibling cannot enjoy full, happy fellowship with his parents. And, further, such a bad spirit would negatively affect the spirit of everyone sitting at the father’s table.
Distractions Are a Hindrance
“Martha was cumbered about much serving.  .  .  . Jesus  .  .  .  said unto her, Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things: but one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part” (Luke 10:40-42).
Even serving the Lord can create hindrances to enjoying full and happy fellowship at the Lord’s table. Service, though a blessed thing, ought never to get in the way of true, heartfelt worship of our Lord Jesus. And it ought never to be used as an excuse to keep a believer from partaking of the Lord’s supper. “I have desired to eat  .  .  .  with you” (Luke 22:15).
“Peter said  .  .  .  let us make three tabernacles; one for Thee, and one for Moses, and one for Elias: not knowing what he said.  .  .  .  There came a voice  .  .  .  This is My beloved Son: hear Him” (Luke 9:33-35).
Then, too, other believers—servants of Christ—may hinder happy fellowship if they become more important to us than the Lord Jesus Himself. It is the Lord’s supper and the Lord’s table. He is in the midst. The Holy Spirit gathers believers to Him alone. He is the Object of our worship and praise. Let us seek to lay aside all that would distract from happy fellowship with the Lord. We follow this principle in the common occurrences of everyday life. Before a vacation can be fully enjoyed, thoughts of everyday work responsibilities must be laid aside.
When we sit down to remember our Lord, may we spend a quiet time of reflection about Himself and His worthiness. As we walk in communion with Him, what sweet joy there will be in remembering our Lord Jesus in His death, as He has asked us to do.
D. Lamb (adapted)

Practical Hints on the Prayer Meeting

Pray for the prayer meeting, and go to it. Go to pray. Don’t wait to begin praying until it is time to close. Withstand apathy and fatigue. Remember the prophet’s lament in Isaiah 64:7: “There is none that calleth upon Thy name, that stirreth up himself to take hold of Thee; for Thou hast hidden Thy face from us.” Let that not be said about you and me.
If you lead in prayer, pray aloud, don’t whisper, mumble or pray with your face buried in your hands. Such prayer [may raise] the flesh in another straining to hear. Follow righteousness, even when praying, and let all things be done in love.
Pray briefly, considering the young and the weak. It is thoughtless to weary people already wearied from a hard day’s toil by rambling. Dear Mr. Wigram once said to a brother, “You prayed me into a holy frame of mind, and then prayed me out of it again.” The longest audible prayer in the New Testament is the sublime address of the Son to the Father in John 17; it probably occupied about five minutes.
(Ed. Note: In balance, it is good to remember, too, that when our blessed Saviour was in private prayer to His Father, He “continued all night in prayer to God.” But this was private, not public, prayer.)
However imperfectly a brother’s words may express his desire, try and understand what that brother means—the Lord always does (Rom. 8:26-27). Don’t allow a critical spirit while another is praying, nor make a man an offender for a word.
Eschew theological prayers. Mr. Darby spoke of them as a “real iniquity.” If we pray to show off our knowledge, we do not pray to God. How can I pray thus if I feel that I am speaking to Him?
When praying, avoid ventilating grievances, thoughtlessly grieving someone, or praying at a brother or sister. To pray at people is cowardly and hypocritical, for in doing so we pretend to pray to God, whereas we are in reality preaching at man.
When the prayer meeting is over, as you would refrain from poison, so refrain from gossip, scandal or empty talk. Such conversation robs us of all the good we have gained in the prayer meeting. Let us rather talk about what we have been praying about. Remember that the prayer meeting is the pulse—the lifeblood—of the assembly, and hence be concerned about its state and fluctuations. Attendance at the prayer meeting is an indication of the spiritual health and vitality of the assembly.
“He spake  .  .  .  unto them  .  .  .  that men ought always to pray, and not to faint” (Luke 18:1).
“They continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers” (Acts 2:42).
“Peter therefore was kept in prison: but prayer was made without ceasing of the church unto God for him” (Acts 12:5).
Adapted from a tract

Practical Reflections on Acts - 11:1-17

1. “And the apostles and brethren that were in Judea heard that the Gentiles had also received the word of God.”
What a wonderful report! The Gentiles, who by nature had no claims on divine blessing, submitted to and obeyed God’s Word. This is the only hope of blessing for man—total submission to God’s Word.
2-3. “And when Peter was come up to Jerusalem, they that were of the circumcision contended with him, saying, Thou wentest in to men uncircumcised, and didst eat with them.”
Sad spiritual intolerance! To these legalistic Jewish believers, the law given by Moses and Israel’s promised place of blessing as head over the Gentiles were of more importance than the sovereign grace of God. Their religious prejudices caused them to chide Peter rather than rejoice with him.
4. “But Peter rehearsed the matter from the beginning, and expounded it by order unto them, saying.”
The spirit of grace shines beautifully in Peter. He does not rebuke or argue with those who are contentious, nor does the beloved Apostle seek to mollify these legalistic brethren by sharing only the least controversial parts of the account. He expounds in order everything, exactly as it happened.
5-6. “I was in the city of Joppa praying: and in a trance I saw a vision, A certain vessel descend, as it had been a great sheet, let down from heaven by four corners; and it came even to me: upon the which when I had fastened mine eyes, I considered, and saw four-footed beasts of the earth, and wild beasts, and creeping things, and fowls of the air.”
What a wonderful principle! Peter’s account begins with prayer. While in this vitally important attitude of dependence, Peter received divine communication. Though others may misunderstand our lives, we may walk in confidence before God in the measure in which we first kneel before Him in prayer to hear His blessed voice.
7-8. “And I heard a voice saying unto me, Arise, Peter; slay and eat. But I said, Not so, Lord: for nothing common or unclean hath at any time entered into my mouth.”
Peter was not trying to impress his Jewish brethren with his faithfulness. He had acted in the fear of God, seeking to please the Lord in his life, and thus could say with good conscience that nothing unclean had entered his mouth. May we seek to walk daily before our Lord with a good conscience.
9-10. “But the voice answered me again from heaven, What God hath cleansed, that call not thou common. And this was done three times: and all were drawn up again into heaven.”
Hearing this, those opposing Peter ought to have realized that it was God Himself, not the Apostle, with whom they were contending. It was His sovereign will to cleanse the common, giving full witness (three times). How we need to discern His mind in every detail of our lives. Knowing His will makes the path of faith clear and simple.
11-12. “And, behold, immediately there were three men already come unto the house where I was, sent from Cæsarea unto me. And the Spirit bade me go with them, nothing doubting. Moreover these six brethren accompanied me, and we entered into the man’s house.”
When God is working, there is no hesitancy. The seeking Gentiles were immediately at Peter’s dwelling. Peter’s obedience gave him peace (“nothing doubting”) through the Spirit for his pathway.
We then see a most important principle acted upon. Though fully assured by the vision and by the leading of the Spirit, Peter does not go alone. He takes six brethren with him. “In the multitude of counselors there is safety.” How important that the Lord’s servants never set themselves or their service above the counsel and fellowship of their brethren!
13-14. “And he showed us how he had seen an angel in his house, which stood and said unto him, Send men to Joppa, and call for Simon, whose surname is Peter; who shall tell thee words, whereby thou and all thy house shall be saved.”
In the day of grace, the Gentiles, like the Jews, receive direct, divine communications. But, though the assembly had been formed, for the moment God still used His earthly people as the channel of blessing. Cornelius was told, however, to call not for Scribes or Pharisees, but for Peter—one who lived by faith. This strikingly illustrates the principle that without faith it is impossible to please God.
Let us remember that today God and His truth can only be revealed and known through Christianity. What a responsibility and privilege! May the glorious light of God shine ever brightly in our lives. “Let your light so shine before men” (Matt. 5:16).
15. “And as I began to speak, the Holy Ghost fell on them, as on us at the beginning.”
God is no respecter of persons (Acts 10:34)—Peter had realized this when in Cornelius’s house. The Jews’ former place of divine, earthly favor was now no longer in force. What had happened to those 120 Jewish believers at Pentecost now happened to Cornelius and his Gentile company. There was no difference in the way the Spirit came upon them nor in the results of that divine indwelling. “For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon Him” (Rom. 10:12).
16. “Then remembered I the word of the Lord, how that He said, John indeed baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost.”
How sad to see dear believers today still bound to John’s baptism—one which was for the Jews and was to repentance of the sin and failure of God’s earthly people. The Holy Spirit formed an entirely new thing—the body of Christ—by His baptism.
17. “Forasmuch then as God gave them the like gift as He did unto us, who believed on the Lord Jesus Christ; what was I, that I could withstand God?”
Here’s a question with only one possible answer—one which by the Spirit was calculated to touch the hearts of the brethren to whom Peter was speaking.

Practical Reflections on Acts - 11:18-28

18. “When they heard these things, they held their peace, and glorified God, saying, Then hath God also to the Gentiles granted repentance unto life.”
A happy proof of divine life! Even the strong Jewish prejudices of these brethren from Jerusalem were subdued when they realized that the blessing had gone out to the Gentiles, and it was most surely a work of God. Their happy submission to the will and work of God had equally happy results—peace, quietness and praise being offered to God. May we earnestly covet this same spirit with one another!
19. “Now they which were scattered abroad upon the persecution that arose about Stephen traveled as far as Phenice, and Cyprus, and Antioch, preaching the word to none but unto the Jews only.”
Though Peter and the believers at Jerusalem had realized that God had opened the door of blessing to the Gentiles, other believers who had fled there had not heard. They remained faithful to what they knew, so that as godly Jews they preached to the Jews only. God desires that each believer act according to the light they have. In doing so, more light will then be given.
20. “And some of them were men of Cyprus and Cyrene, which, when they were come to Antioch, spake unto the Grecians, preaching the Lord Jesus.”
The gospel of the grace of God cannot be contained. National prejudice, Scriptural ignorance, religious persecution—none of these things can stop the good news from being preached to the lost. In the very place where the first Gentile assembly was established, the gospel is preached. Let us, gathered to the precious name of the Lord Jesus Christ, never give up the precious privilege and the vital importance of preaching the gospel—wherever we live.
21. “And the hand of the Lord was with them: and a great number believed, and turned unto the Lord.”
When the Lord is in the work, great blessing is sure to result. We also learn that believing is not enough. There was an appropriate action which followed their faith in the message they heard—they turned to the Lord. Let us see to it that the reality of our Christian faith is, in like manner, proven by our actions.
22. “Then tidings of these things came unto the ears of the church which was in Jerusalem: and they sent forth Barnabas, that he should go as far as Antioch.”
The brethren at Jerusalem prove the working of the grace of God among them that began with Peter’s visit to Cornelius. Then they had waited until Peter came to them at Jerusalem. When he arrived, he was chided for having contact with Gentiles. But now, upon receiving the happy report of the Spirit’s working among Gentiles in Antioch, they send a brother (who has their moral confidence) to help. Barnabas was not going as an evangelist, for then he, as Philip (see Acts 8), would have moved as guided only by the Spirit of God.
But what happened in Antioch affected the assembly in Jerusalem. Those who administered there sent one of their own with explicit restrictions. Such fellowship and interaction is needed among brethren today when such issues arise.
23. “Who, when he came, and had seen the grace of God, was glad, and exhorted them all, that with purpose of heart they would cleave unto the Lord.”
Barnabas, realizing that God was working, begins shepherding by encouraging and building up the new flock of God. May we never lose sense of the critical value of fatherly care among brethren—whether it be the babes in Christ or mature believers. Encouraging, shepherding ministry is desperately needed today among God’s dear people.
24. “For he was a good man, and full of the Holy Ghost and of faith: and much people was added unto the Lord.”
Here we have the qualifications of one who desires to build up believers and assemblies—and we have the happy result of such service, but not a word about gift. The Spirit of God mightily uses a servant who walks righteously and in faith.
25. “Then departed Barnabas to Tarsus, for to seek Saul.”
This shepherd recognizes that the sheep need more than he had—he was “diligent to know the state of [the] flocks” (Prov. 27:23). Barnabas knows of one who had been raised up of God for this very purpose and immediately leaves to find Saul. His official service for the assembly at Jerusalem in no way impedes his desire to find a vessel that could be used in greater blessing among these new converts. May we display this same sweet spirit—recognizing and using gifts that God has given to others, for the blessing of His beloved sheep.
26. “And when he had found him, he brought him unto Antioch. And it came to pass, that a whole year they assembled themselves with the church, and taught much people. And the disciples were called Christians first in Antioch.”
These two faithful men teach the assembly at Antioch the doctrines of Christianity. Though Saul took the lead, Barnabas gave adequate witness to the truth of his words (2 Cor. 13:1).
27. “And in these days came prophets from Jerusalem unto Antioch.”
The assembly at Jerusalem proves a source of blessing to the new assembly in Antioch. It ought to be so with assemblies today—able to provide the needed blessing and balance lacking in another.
28. “And there stood up one of them named Agabus, and signified by the Spirit that there should be great dearth throughout all the world: which came to pass in the days of Claudius Cæsar.”
Another gift is sent to help the assembly at Antioch—a prophet. As mightily used as Barnabas and Saul had been, they gave place to one who had a ministry from the Lord to fulfill. Are we willing to do the same?

Practical Reflections on Acts - 11:29-12:12

29. “Then the disciples, every man according to his ability, determined to send relief unto the brethren which dwelt in Judea.”
The first Gentile assembly endeavors “to keep the unity of the Spirit” (Eph. 4:3). The believers at Antioch received a message from the Lord through His servant (Agabus; vs. 28). They act in the Spirit and on the principle of the one body by sending financial aid to their brethren in Jerusalem.
None was required to give. The grace of God acting on each heart according as God had prospered (1 Cor. 16:2) each individual was the guide for giving. This is our guide as well.
30. “Which also they did, and sent it to the elders by the hands of Barnabas and Saul.”
All was done “decently and in order.” The elders in Jerusalem, bearing local administrative responsibility, had charge of distributing the funds. Great care must be used in the handling and distribution of funds among brethren. How important that those who carry moral weight (see 1 Tim. 3:813) faithfully fulfill this service. “Giving no offence in anything, that the ministry be not blamed” (2 Cor. 6:3).
Chapter 12
13. “Now about that time Herod the king stretched forth his hands to vex certain of the church. And he killed James the brother of John with the sword. And because he saw it pleased the Jews, he proceeded further to take Peter also. (Then were the days of unleavened bread.)”
Satan had tried in various ways to destroy the early assembly (see Acts 4:14; 5:1-11; 6:17; 8:3 as examples). He now turns his fury on two specially prominent servants—James and Peter. The Lord, in perfect wisdom, allows James, like Stephen, to receive the martyr’s crown. Herod plans the same fate for Peter. Do we earnestly, continually pray for those who have been placed by God in prominent positions in the assembly? How needful to do this, for they are special targets of attack by the enemy.
4. “And when he had apprehended him, he put him in prison, and delivered him to four quaternions of soldiers to keep him; intending after Easter [passover—JND translation] to bring him forth to the people.”
Do we know of a believer—a brother or sister in Christ—under special attack of the enemy? Perhaps circumstances or discouragements have morally placed that one—beloved and redeemed of the Lord—in prison—their having lost that wonderful liberty in Christ (Gal. 5:1) to serve Him. The enemy will use his four quaternions of soldiers to keep such a one in bondage. Faith, however, counts on God’s deliverance, for with Him nothing is impossible.
5. “Peter therefore was kept in prison: but prayer was made without ceasing of the church unto God for him.”
Peter could do nothing about his circumstances. But there was one thing that the assembly could do—engage in instant and earnest prayer. As another has said, “Prayer is a mighty engine.” Oh! the infinite, divine power that is put in motion through effectual, fervent prayer. Let us avail ourselves, individually and collectively, of this divine force. “Pray without ceasing” (1 Thess. 5:17).
6. “And when Herod would have brought him forth, the same night Peter was sleeping between two soldiers, bound with two chains: and the keepers before the door kept the prison.”
Peter is at rest—he has no fear of death, for to him to depart and be with Christ was far better. Only faith can give such peace (Isa. 26:3).
But let us learn from moral warnings found here. There are four conditions which kept this dear servant from carrying out his ministry—the same which may keep any believer from serving Him. (1) He was asleep, (2) soldiers (a picture of the world’s power) were guarding him, (3) he was bound with chains (a picture of the results of disobedience in a believer’s life) and (4) keepers (picturing Satan seeking to deny a believer the joy of his Christian liberty) were guarding the door of the prison.
Of course, there is no hint here of personal failure in dear Peter. But the moral principles contained in this passage are often found when a believer has wandered from the Lord. Peter was beyond human help—but not beyond the power of prayer. Let us never cease to earnestly cry to our God on behalf of those who have strayed away from the Lord.
7. “And, behold, the angel of the Lord came upon him, and a light shined in the prison: and he smote Peter on the side, and raised him up, saying, Arise up quickly. And his chains fell off from his hands.”
It is a wonderful comfort to know that our Lord can go where we cannot. Satan has no power or authority over the One who went to the cross that “He might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil” (Heb. 2:14).
Light marks the beginning of restoration. It was so in Genesis 1:2 when “darkness was upon the face of the deep.” At times we may feel that smiting is necessary to restore an erring one. Let’s leave that to the Lord! Our part is to pray for, not to smite, a wayward saint.
The sleeping prisoner, now aroused and having light, finds that the chains once binding him are no longer holding him captive. What liberty repentance and restoration bring to the child of God!
8. “And the angel said unto him, Gird thyself, and bind on thy sandals. And so he did. And he saith unto him, Cast thy garment about thee, and follow me.”
The Lord takes away the prison garment and restores the garment that had been lost. His instructions to Peter are to gird himself and follow. This is the only safe path for believers—characterized by obedience and submission, our sandals bound on that we no longer stumble in the path of faith.
9. “And he went out, and followed him; and wist not that it was true which was done by the angel; but thought he saw a vision.”
What little value our thoughts have in the Lord’s gracious and faithful dealings with His own. Let us trust His ways of wisdom, not our thoughts.
10. “When they were past the first and the second ward, they came unto the iron gate that leadeth unto the city; which opened to them of his own accord: and they went out, and passed on through one street; and forthwith the angel departed from him.”
Only one way (one street) back to fellowship with the Lord for the prisoner—that is repentance. When it is real, Satan’s iron gate cannot keep a restored child from the happy liberty that is his in Christ.
11. “And when Peter was come to himself, he said, Now I know of a surety, that the Lord hath sent his angel, and hath delivered me out of the hand of Herod, and from all the expectation of the people of the Jews.”
Peter, finished thinking and fully awake, now knows the reality of what the Lord has done for him. He knows that God has delivered him from the enemy. What a joy to say with the psalmist, “This I know; for God is for me” (Psa. 56:9), and with the Apostle, “If God be for us, who can be against us?” (Rom. 8:31). No matter what the failure, a child of God can, with confidence, always say the same.
12. “And when he had considered the thing, he came to the house of Mary the mother of John, whose surname was Mark; where many were gathered together praying.”
Peter, having been set at liberty, goes to his own company—a dependent, praying company. This is always the fruit of true restoration in a soul. There will be a desire to be found in fellowship with those of “like precious faith”—those very brethren who have earnestly prayed (and continue to do so) for the wanderer.

Practical Reflections on Acts - 13:13-26

13. “Now when Paul and his company loosed from Paphos, they came to Perga in Pamphylia: and John departing from them returned to Jerusalem.”
The Lord tests the reality of our desire to serve Him—not to discourage or turn us aside, but to strengthen and purify, while showing us that our “strength is made perfect in weakness” (see Mal. 3:3; 2 Cor. 12:9).
“Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love Him” (James 1:12). John Mark followed Paul and Barnabas as their minister—though he was not specifically called by the Spirit as they. His faith and exercise are tested and do not seem able to endure—to meet the opposition of a Bar-jesus. Happily, he is later restored to useful service (2 Tim. 4:11).
14-15. “But when they departed from Perga, they came to Antioch in Pisidia, and went into the synagogue on the sabbath day, and sat down. And after the reading of the law and the prophets the rulers of the synagogue sent unto them, saying, Ye men and brethren, if ye have any word of exhortation for the people, say on.”
Paul, carrying the gospel to the Jew first, shows a lovely attitude of humility. Though sent on a special mission by the Spirit of God, the beloved Apostle does not force himself on the Jews in the synagogue. He and Barnabas sit down and wait until the Spirit, by moving the rulers to invite them to share a word, gives liberty for them to preach. May we always seek the Spirit’s leading in preaching the gospel and ministering—whether in season or out of season.
16. “Then Paul stood up, and beckoning with his hand said, Men of Israel, and ye that fear God, give audience.”
What Paul was about to share did not come from a casual spirit of indifference. His heart, yearning for his people’s blessing, causes him to express those feelings by reaching out with his hand, imploring, inviting them to listen. Let us, with the same heartfelt longing, preach and live the gospel today.
17. “The God of this people of Israel chose our fathers, and exalted the people when they dwelt as strangers in the land of Egypt, and with a high arm brought He them out of it.”
We find in these verses a wonderful pattern of Christian exhortation (1 Cor. 14:3; 1 Tim. 4:13). First, Paul reminds them of God’s grace shown towards the nation of Israel and then of the power He used on their behalf.
18. “And about the time of forty years suffered He their manners in the wilderness.”
Next, in exhortation, there is remembrance made of human failure and His ceaseless divine patience.
19. “And when He had destroyed seven nations in the land of Chanaan, He divided their land to them by lot.”
Exhortation reminds us that it is His divine strength which gives victory over the enemy and His divine love that gives such wonderful blessings.
Let us be exercised (Heb. 10:25) to allow this pattern to guide our exhortations, that true Christian growth and blessing might result.
20-21. “And after that He gave unto them judges about the space of four hundred and fifty years, until Samuel the prophet. And afterward they desired a king: and God gave unto them Saul the son of Cis, a man of the tribe of Benjamin, by the space of forty years.”
God’s desire for man’s blessing is clearly shown. Having given to His beloved people the land of Canaan, though they failed, Jehovah raised up deliverers (judges), and when they too failed, He raised up Samuel, who as a prophet brought the mind of God to them. Still unthankful, they said, “Now make us a king to judge us like all the nations” (1 Sam. 8:5).
God gave them their request—King Saul—“but sent leanness into their soul” (Psa. 106:15). How solemn to repeatedly reject divine exhortations (no matter who the channel God uses may be), following instead a path of self-will and disobedience.
22. “And when He had removed him, He raised up unto them David to be their king; to whom also He gave testimony, and said, I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after Mine own heart, which shall fulfill all My will.”
Saul (a picture of the flesh) fulfilled his own will in opposition to the will of God. But one man was found who answered to the heart of God. Though there was failure (as we all fail), David’s heart was fully set to do God’s will. David’s life presents a lovely picture of that one perfect Man, Christ Jesus, who alone could say, “I do always those things that please Him” (John 8:29). May we, in our measure, ever be found walking in submission to His perfect will.
23-24. “Of this man’s seed hath God, according to His promise, raised unto Israel a Saviour, Jesus: when John had first preached before His coming the baptism of repentance to all the people of Israel.”
What blessing comes from submission to the will of God! Though David rightly calls Him Lord, Messiah was to come of the royal line of David (see Matt. 22:42-46). We also see what blessing could have resulted in Israel had the leaders repented at John’s preaching. How vitally important is repentance, both for present and eternal blessing!
25-26. “And as John fulfilled his course, he said, Whom think ye that I am? I am not He. But, behold, there cometh one after me, whose shoes of His feet I am not worthy to loose. Men and brethren, children of the stock of Abraham, and whosoever among you feareth God, to you is the word of this salvation sent.”
The one whom the Lord Jesus called the greatest prophet born of women (see Luke 7:28) manifests a morally fitting attitude of humility when referring to Messiah. Today among professing Christians there is a very sad lack of reverence for the Lord Jesus and of holy fear of God. May we become, in our spirits and ways, more like John, who evaluated everything in view of the glorious person of the Son of God.
Paul’s message reaches beyond the bounds of the stock of Abraham to any who feared God. “By humility and the fear of the Lord are riches, and honor, and life” (Prov. 22:4).

Practical Reflections on Acts - 13:27-39

27-28. “For they that dwell at Jerusalem, and their rulers, because they knew Him not, nor yet the voices of the prophets which are read every sabbath day, they have fulfilled them in condemning Him. And though they found no cause of death in Him, yet desired they Pilate that He should be slain.”
What an indictment of mere religious knowledge! Human intelligence in the Word of God, apart from divine faith making personal application of it daily, is dangerous. The Jews were in the right place, had the right leaders, heard the right words, and observed the right days. But rather than receiving the Messiah, they fulfilled the prophetic word they knew so well, giving Him up to Roman crucifixion. Let’s not only read the Word, but in faith and obedience act on it!
29. “And when they had fulfilled all that was written of Him, they took Him down from the tree, and laid Him in a sepulchre.”
Wicked hands crucified the Creator; loving hands buried Him. In their inveterate hatred of the Christ and rebellion against God and His Word, these hardened, religious zealots could but fulfill divine prophecies foretelling their wicked deed. How important to willingly submit, by faith, to God’s will and wisdom. Only in doing that will be found true joy and liberty.
30. “But God raised Him from the dead.”
Whether as an act of hatred (crucifixion) or an act of loving honor (burial), man could do no more to the Saviour than allowed by God. However, God had the final and glorious word. His beloved Son rose victorious from among the dead. Let’s make sure that we ever allow our loving God to have the last word in our lives.
31. “And He was seen many days of them which came up with Him from Galilee to Jerusalem, who are His witnesses unto the people.”
He was seen! Oh! what a glorious word! Our blessed Savior was seen alive after He had risen from the dead—seen of “above five hundred brethren” at one time (1 Cor. 15:6). Faith believes the Word of God and sees Jesus “crowned with glory and honor” at God’s right hand (Heb. 1:3; 2:9). May we witness by our ways and words that our Lord and Saviour is risen.
32-33. “And we declare unto you glad tidings, how that the promise which was made unto the fathers, God hath fulfilled the same unto us their children, in that He hath raised up Jesus again; as it is also written in the second psalm, Thou art My Son, this day have I begotten Thee.”
Paul, directed by the Spirit of God, beautifully uses the Old Testament Scriptures (here especially the psalms of David) to preach the resurrection of Jesus from among the dead. The Lord Himself said, “They are they which testify of Me” (John 5:39).
God “raised up Jesus” that all His promises might be fulfilled in Christ, who was the “only begotten Son” born into this world. Never would they be altered or negated by man’s wicked deed.
How sweet to claim the promises of God given us in the Scriptures—to be able by faith to say, “I have got that thing!” God never makes a promise that He cannot or will not keep.
34. “And as concerning that He raised Him up from the dead, now no more to return to corruption, He said on this wise, I will give you the sure mercies of David.”
Not only was the Lord Jesus raised up to fulfill all the promises of God, but He was raised up from the dead, having no longer ever to say anything to the awful but defeated foe, death, which He conquered at Calvary.
35. “Wherefore He saith also in another psalm, Thou shalt not suffer Thine Holy One to see corruption.”
Another has said, “The Son of God became the Son of Man that the sons of men might become the sons of God.” The Lord Jesus was very God, yet fully man. Our finite minds cannot understand this, but we humbly bow to its majestic truth, knowing that though He died and was buried, yet His blessed body saw no corruption before rising from among the dead. The Lord fully and forever won the victory over death and the grave, and believers now share in wonderful liberty as children of God possessing His very life—eternal life. “O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?” (1 Cor. 15:55).
36-37. “For David, after he had served his own generation by the will of God, fell on sleep, and was laid unto his fathers, and saw corruption: but He, whom God raised again, saw no corruption.”
Those who rejected Jesus of Nazareth (the true Son of David) had immense national pride in David, their glorious warrior king. But he who won mighty victories for the people of God had no power to defeat man’s final foe, death. After fulfilling the will of God in serving his generation, David slept and his body saw corruption.
Yet, the Messiah, great David’s greater Son, whom the Jews had rejected and desired to be crucified, not only held the power over death and hell (hades—the grave), but God, showing His full satisfaction and delight in His beloved Son’s atoning work at Calvary, raised Him from among the dead.
38. “Be it known unto you therefore, men and brethren, that through this man is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins.”
Paul does not say that through the Son of God forgiveness of sins was preached to the Jews, but through this Man—the humble, lowly, rejected Jesus of Nazareth, the Man of Sorrows. This One that they had despised and cast out was the only means of having their sins forgiven.
May we make much of the Man Christ Jesus, honoring Him in all we do and say. “That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world; holding forth the word of life” (Phil. 2:15-16).
39. “And by Him all that believe are justified from all things, from which ye could not be justified by the law of Moses.”
Not only were they intensely proud of David, but they boasted in the law given to them through Moses. Neither had power to give what they so desperately needed—full, free justification before God. “God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Gal. 6:14).

Practical Reflections on Acts - 9:32-10:4

32. “And it came to pass, as Peter passed throughout all quarters, he came down also to the saints which dwelt at Lydda.”
For the time being, Saul passes off the scene, leaving Peter to fulfill the commission given him by the Lord Jesus: “feed My lambs  .  .  .  shepherd My sheep” (JND). He who had been unfaithful to His Lord now faithfully visits the believers of “all quarters.” Lydda (“Lod” in the Hebrew) means “travail; strife.” The work of shepherding among God’s dear people often involves bringing peace where strife exists.
33-34. “And there he found a certain man named Eneas, which had kept his bed eight years, and was sick of the palsy. And Peter said unto him, Eneas, Jesus Christ maketh thee whole: arise, and make thy bed. And he arose immediately.”
Where there is strife among God’s people, there is inability to walk in strength and liberty for God’s glory. What a joy it must have been to dear Eneas to be delivered from his helpless condition! Now, rather than being a servant to his bed, the blessed name of Jesus Christ has caused the former cripple to be an overcomer. Oh! that God’s dear people, overcoming all bitterness and strife, would be found walking in peace one with another (Eph. 4:31-32).
35. “And all that dwelt at Lydda and Saron saw him, and turned to the Lord.”
Again the principle of doing before speaking is presented. It was not what people heard Eneas say, but rather what they saw in his changed life that caused them to turn to the Lord. What wonderful blessing results when brethren endeavor to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace (Eph. 4:3).
36. “Now there was at Joppa a certain disciple named Tabitha, which by interpretation is called Dorcas: this woman was full of good works and almsdeeds which she did.”
Whether viewed by the word (Dorcas) or by the people of God (Tabitha), this disciple was the same—full of good works and almsdeeds. What a sermon her life preached to all who knew her!
Tabitha’s name means “roe.” The gazelle (roe) is mentioned several times in the Old Testament as possessing characteristics that ought to be morally displayed in believers. It is a clean animal (Deut. 14:5 JND). Its walk is graceful (2 Sam. 2:18) and sure (Song of Sol. 2:9). Its appearance is beautiful (Prov. 5:19). It hides itself from danger (Prov. 6:5). It symbolizes undivided affections (Song of Sol. 7:3), and it dwells in separation from the world (Song of Sol. 8:14). Oh that believers—as Tabitha—might be full of good works.
37. “And it came to pass in those days, that she was sick, and died: whom when they had washed, they laid her in an upper chamber.”
The beautiful spirit of loving, gracious care for one another, which Tabitha morally represents, is ever in danger of weakening and dying out among Christians. In a day when the love of many shall wax cold (Matt. 24:12), we must guard against such a thing happening, individually or collectively.
38. “And forasmuch as Lydda was nigh to Joppa, and the disciples had heard that Peter was there, they sent unto him two men, desiring him that he would not delay to come to them.”
How wonderful that those brethren who had suffered such loss were near another assembly that had the means to encourage, comfort and help them. Let us see to it that we are ever close enough to one another to be able to bear one another’s burdens and so fulfill the law of Christ (Gal. 6:2).
39. “Then Peter arose and went with them. When he was come, they brought him into the upper chamber: and all the widows stood by him weeping, and showing the coats and garments which Dorcas made, while she was with them.”
The beneficial results of Dorcas’s ministry, which had provided for the needs of the helpless, is publicly displayed. How wonderful if our service is found to provide garments of comfort for our dear brethren—those whom Christ loves—who are in need. “Wherefore lift up the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees” (Heb. 12:12).
40-41. “But Peter put them all forth, and kneeled down, and prayed; and turning him to the body said, Tabitha, arise. And she opened her eyes: and when she saw Peter, she sat up. And he gave her his hand, and lifted her up, and when he had called the saints and widows, presented her alive.”
Seven beautiful moral principles are found in Tabitha’s restoration to life. The servant discerns the Lord’s will apart from human sentiment (“Peter put them all forth” ), acts in dependence on God (“kneeled down, and prayed” ), speaks the Lord’s mind (“Tabitha, arise” ), provides guidance for the restored (“when she saw Peter, she sat up” ), identifies in personal fellowship with the restored (“gave her his hand” ), strengthens the faith of the restored (“lifted her up” ), and, finally, brings the restored back to the bosom of the assembly (“presented her alive [to the saints and widows]” ).
42-43. “And it was known throughout all Joppa; and many believed in the Lord. And it came to pass, that he tarried many days in Joppa with one Simon a tanner.”
Simon Peter quietly remains in a humble dwelling for many days until His blessed Master again calls him to service. The servant is hidden, while the ministry he was called to continues to reap fruit.
Chapter 10
12. “There was a certain man in Cæsarea called Cornelius, a centurion of the band called the Italian band, a devout man, and one that feared God with all his house, which gave much alms to the people, and prayed to God always.”
Blessing had already gone beyond Jerusalem, reaching into Samaria (Acts 8). Now it goes even further, reaching to a Gentile—one who, like the Ethiopian eunuch, though earnest in heart, had found no lasting peace or blessing in Judaism.
3. “He saw in a vision evidently about the ninth hour of the day an angel of God coming in to him, and saying unto him, Cornelius.”
Cornelius worshipped God from an honest, reverent heart. Yet, like the Ethiopian eunuch, he did not really know that One he worshipped. But now he finds that God knows and cares about him.
4. “And when he looked on him, he was afraid, and said, What is it, Lord? And he said unto him, Thy prayers and thine alms are come up for a memorial before God.”
Though it is not normal for a believer to be afraid of the Lord, until a quickened soul rests fully in the finished work of the Lord Jesus Christ, this is often its experience.

Practical Reflections on Acts: Acts 10:28-48

28. “And he said unto them, Ye know how that it is an unlawful thing for a man that is a Jew to keep company, or come unto one of another nation; but God hath showed me that I should not call any man common or unclean.”
Peter was a faithful, righteous Jew. Nothing could have induced him to defile himself by being found in company of Gentiles—except “God hath showed me.” To God alone Peter submitted. We ought also always to submit to His wisdom, even at times when things naturally seem opposed to His Word.
29. “Therefore came I unto you without gainsaying, as soon as I was sent for: I ask therefore for what intent ye have sent for me?”
The Word of God settled everything with Peter. He didn’t understand what was happening, but God had given him a command, and without hesitation or reasoning, he obeyed. This is the way to blessing in our lives—immediate, unquestioned obedience to God.
30-32. “And Cornelius said, Four days ago I was fasting until this hour; and at the ninth hour I prayed in my house, and behold, a man stood before me in bright clothing, and said, Cornelius, thy prayer is heard, and thine alms are had in remembrance in the sight of God. Send therefore to Joppa, and call hither Simon, whose surname is Peter; he is lodged in the house of one Simon a tanner by the sea side: who, when he cometh, shall speak unto thee.”
Cornelius was an earnest seeker. He was willing to lay aside his natural desires (he fasted and prayed) in order to know the mind of God. God will never disappoint such faith. He sends instructions to Cornelius which will bring the peace he so desires.
33. “Immediately therefore I sent to thee; and thou hast well done that thou art come. Now therefore are we all here present before God, to hear all things that are commanded thee of God.”
Unlike Nebuchadnezzar (Dan. 2) who demanded, upon threat of death, the interpretation of his dream, Cornelius makes no attempt to use his position of power and authority to demand anything of Peter. What a beautiful spirit—“Speak, Lord; for Thy servant heareth”! May we ever have this spirit before Him.
34-35. “Then Peter opened his mouth, and said, Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons: but in every nation he that feareth Him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with Him.”
Peter’s understanding is now opened. Such understanding of God’s ways is the result of obedience to Him. Peter further learns that a true heart walking in the fear of God, not a privileged position, is the key to divine blessing.
36-37. “The word which God sent unto the children of Israel, preaching peace by Jesus Christ: (He is Lord of all:) that word, I say, ye know, which was published throughout all Judea, and began from Galilee, after the baptism which John preached.”
Peter begins his message with the Lord Jesus, giving Him His rightful place as Lord of all. Though it was published in all Judea, the Gentiles well knew its testimony, for they too had heard the message of John the Baptist (see Luke 3:14). Now, years after his death, John’s message is still bearing fruit. How happy when a believer’s life has been such that he “being dead yet speaketh” (Heb. 11:4).
38. “How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power: who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil; for God was with Him.”
That despised name carries infinite power unknown to man. In an earlier day, Nicodemus gave this same testimony: “No man can do these miracles that Thou doest, except God be with Him” (John 3:2). It’s wonderful for mankind to realize that God is with Him—far more precious to know this lowly, blessed Jesus is “Emmanuel  .  .  .  God with us.”
39. “And we are witnesses of all things which He did both in the land of the Jews, and in Jerusalem; whom they slew and hanged on a tree.”
Here is the measure of the awful depth of man’s alienation from God: That One who went about doing good was judged worthy to be slain upon a tree. Oh that we might ever recognize the total moral ruin of sinful man who would willingly slay His Creator who loves him!
40. “Him God raised up the third day, and showed Him openly.”
What an infinitely grand and glorious vindication! The worst man could do to God’s beloved Son is answered in His victorious resurrection from among the dead. For the believer, the Lord’s glorious resurrection has flooded this dark valley of the shadow of death with divine light and joy.
41. “Not to all the people, but unto witnesses chosen before of God, even to us, who did eat and drink with Him after He rose from the dead.”
What an awesome experience! Cornelius, his household and friends, sat in the very presence of a person who had seen, talked to and been with the Lord Jesus after He rose from the dead. Even so, they must believe Peter’s testimony by faith. We have something even better—God’s eternal Word. But it must be received and believed by faith.
42. “And He commanded us to preach unto the people, and to testify that it is He which was ordained of God to be the Judge of quick and dead.”
Peter, preaching a risen Christ to the Gentiles, was being obedient to the Lord’s command. Are we being likewise obedient to our Lord Jesus? “If ye love Me, keep My commandments.”
43-44. “To Him give all the prophets witness, that through His name whosoever believeth in Him shall receive remission of sins. While Peter yet spake these words, the Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the word.”
The Spirit of God acts—confirming the truth of Peter’s words—on those who had come to hear. Unlike those in Matthew 13:13 who heard but did not understand because of unbelief, these Gentiles, because they believed, received the truth they heard.
45. “And they of the circumcision which believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because that on the Gentiles also was poured out the gift of the Holy Ghost.”
The reality of this work astonished the Jewish believers. How much better if it had given them joy.
46-48. “For they heard them speak with tongues, and magnify God. Then answered Peter, Can any man forbid water, that these should not be baptized, which have received the Holy Ghost as well as we? And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord. Then prayed they him to tarry certain days.”
Here is simple proof that baptism is not necessary for salvation. Though these Gentiles were already baptized with the Spirit, we see it is God’s mind that they take the public position of Christianity through water baptism. They desire to learn more of the Lord, as is normal where there is a true work of God.

Practical Reflections on Acts: Acts 10:5-27

5-6. “And now send men to Joppa, and call for one Simon, whose surname is Peter: he lodgeth with one Simon a tanner, whose house is by the seaside: he shall tell thee what thou oughtest to do.”
It is vitally important that we receive ministry, direction and wisdom from God’s Word and through God’s chosen vessels. There were two Simons dwelling in the house at Joppa, but only one was selected of God to tell Cornelius what he was to do.
7-8. “And when the angel which spake unto Cornelius was departed, he called two of his household servants, and a devout soldier of them that waited on him continually; and when he had declared all these things unto them, he sent them to Joppa.”
Cornelius, in the obedience and energy of faith, immediately acts upon the command of the angelic messenger. What beautiful consistency is seen in the centurion. His family life was in keeping with his testimony as a devout man, for there were two of his household (JND) whom he was able to send. His work life was morally consistent too, for his personal piety also had its happy effect on those under his military command.
9. “On the morrow, as they went on their journey, and drew nigh unto the city, Peter went up upon the housetop to pray about the sixth hour.”
The heat of the day would be felt at its greatest intensity at the sixth hour (12 noon). It was at this very time that Peter separated himself (he went up to the housetop) from all the pressing cares of this world to pray—a wonderful pattern for believers!
10. “And he became very hungry, and would have eaten: but while they made ready, he fell into a trance.”
Something was more important than the natural needs of life. This presents a moral pattern of the spirit of fasting—something believers may still do today and with real profit (see Mark 9:29).
11-13. “And saw heaven opened, and a certain vessel descending unto him, as it had been a great sheet knit at the four corners, and let down to the earth: wherein were all manner of four-footed beasts of the earth, and wild beasts, and creeping things, and fowls of the air. And there came a voice to him, Rise, Peter; kill, and eat.”
God graciously provided a full, complete supply for Peter’s need. But involved in that free giving was a vitally important spiritual lesson for him to learn.
14. “But Peter said, Not so, Lord; for I have never eaten anything that is common or unclean.”
The Gentile centurion, though not understanding, immediately obeyed the angelic command. Dear Peter, not understanding, immediately reasons. What a humbling mirror of our own hearts!
15-16. “And the voice spake unto him again the second time, What God hath cleansed, that call not thou common. This was done thrice: and the vessel was received up again into heaven.”
What divine, long-suffering patience is shown to dear troubled Peter. Oh! may we exercise like patience and grace towards others (Heb. 12:28).
17-18. “Now while Peter doubted in himself what this vision which he had seen should mean, behold, the men which were sent from Cornelius had made inquiry for Simon’s house, and stood before the gate, and called, and asked whether Simon, which was surnamed Peter, were lodged there.”
At the very time that Peter was puzzled about the Lord’s message, the answer to his perplexity was standing at the door of the house. “Before they call, I will answer” (Isa. 65:24).
19-20. “While Peter thought on the vision, the Spirit said unto him, Behold, three men seek thee. Arise therefore, and get thee down, and go with them, doubting nothing: for I have sent them.”
Still pondering the vision which troubled him, the Lord graciously gives Peter further instructions. “Arise  .  .  .  get thee down  .  .  .  go with them  .  .  .  doubting nothing.  .  .  .  I have sent them.” Oh that our faith might act according to this beautiful pattern—energy, humility, obedience, confidence and assurance.
21. “Then Peter went down to the men which were sent unto him from Cornelius; and said, Behold, I am he whom ye seek: what is the cause wherefore ye are come?”
Faith obeys without reasoning—Peter meets Cornelius’ servants without knowing why.
22. “And they said, Cornelius the centurion, a just man, and one that feareth God, and of good report among all the nation of the Jews, was warned from God by an holy angel to send for thee into his house, and to hear words of thee.”
What a wonderful letter of commendation these were able to provide for Cornelius! How happy if those who know us best could give such a testimony, as these gave to Peter, concerning our life.
23. “Then called he them in, and lodged them. And on the morrow Peter went away with them, and certain brethren from Joppa accompanied him.”
Here we are presented with a helpful principle for extending fellowship (Peter goes with them) to others—obedience to God’s Word (Peter and Cornelius), a good testimony (Cornelius), and need (Cornelius and his household).
We also see an important principle for the Lord’s servants in visiting among strangers who profess a desire to learn the way of God more perfectly. Peter did not go alone—other brethren went with him.
24. “And the morrow after they entered into Cæsarea. And Cornelius waited for them, and had called together his kinsmen and near friends.”
This is where the evangelical field of a believer ought to begin—with family and friends (Mark 5:19).
25-26. “And as Peter was coming in, Cornelius met him, and fell down at his feet, and worshipped him. But Peter took him up, saying, Stand up; I myself also am a man.”
What grace! A member of God’s beloved earthly people comes to a Gentile who had no claim on God’s blessing. Though an apostle as well as a Jew never defiled with the common or unclean, still Peter was a man, and worship is for God alone.
27. “And as he talked with him, he went in, and found many that were come together.”
One glorious effect of the Lord Jesus’ death at Calvary—breaking down the middle wall of partition between the Jew and Gentile, which under Judaism could never have happened—bears precious fruit here. Peter comes to Cornelius; he talks with him, and then he enters his house.
We also see again the happy effects that Cornelius’ life of godly living, according to the light he had, produced. Would the many that had gathered together in his home have come there, had Cornelius’ life been one of words rather than acts?

Practical Reflections on Acts: Acts 12:13-13:1

13. “And as Peter knocked at the door of the gate, a damsel came to hearken, named Rhoda.”
Rhoda lovingly and faithfully fulfilled a service that the rest might continue in prayer. Are we fulfilling faithfully what the Lord has called us to do, no matter how insignificant it might seem?
14. “And when she knew Peter’s voice, she opened not the gate for gladness, but ran in, and told how Peter stood before the gate.”
We see more lovely qualities in dear Rhoda. She knew Peter’s voice—had evidently listened to his ministry and was familiar with the beloved Apostle.
His voice made her glad, for she had learned to love and appreciate this dear servant of Christ.
She ran to tell the others—carrying out her service heartily as unto the Lord.
She maintained proper submission, not taking it upon herself to open the door, but simply to notify others, leaving that decision to them.
15. “And they said unto her, Thou art mad. But she constantly affirmed that it was even so. Then said they, It is his angel.”
Rhoda’s spirit is as lovely as her energy of service! When rebuked and ridiculed for telling what she knew to be the truth, she does not become discouraged or angry. She continues speaking the truth in love and the result is that they begin to heed her words.
16. “But Peter continued knocking: and when they had opened the door, and saw him, they were astonished.”
Had the unopened door discouraged Peter so that he went away, the unbelief of those who refused Rhoda’s testimony would have been confirmed. So, too, Christians need never fear the results of proclaiming and defending the truth of God.
17. “But he, beckoning unto them with the hand to hold their peace, declared unto them how the Lord had brought him out of the prison. And he said, Go show these things unto James, and to the brethren. And he departed, and went into another place.”
Earlier (vs. 5) the whole assembly had been engaged in earnest prayer for Peter. Here we find that some (James and the brethren) were not present. Yet, individuals still, out of love for Peter and faith in the Lord, continued a household prayer meeting. And it is to them that the joy of seeing Peter restored to liberty is granted. Oh! may we know more of earnest, fervent prayer—individually and collectively!
18-19. “Now as soon as it was day, there was no small stir among the soldiers, what was become of Peter. And when Herod had sought for him, and found him not, he examined the keepers, and commanded that they should be put to death. And he went down from Judea to Cæsarea, and there abode.”
It is the heartless and wicked ruler Herod who is in authority over the Jews—whom the Jews received in place of the Messiah whom they crucified. What awful consequences result when man rejects God’s best!
20. “And Herod was highly displeased with them of Tyre and Sidon: but they came with one accord to him, and, having made Blastus the king’s chamberlain their friend, desired peace; because their country was nourished by the king’s country.”
Fearing the angry despot Herod (with good reason!), those of Tyre and Sidon seek friendship with his closest advisor, Blastus. Their country was nourished by the king’s country. But they feared and were concerned about the wrong king!
The blessed Saviour moved in that very region of Tyre and Sidon. How often He had dispensed blessing, met needs, and healed the sick. But in their fear of Herod, they forgot the One who was God manifest in flesh (1 Tim. 3:16)—that true Friend who sticketh closer than a brother (Prov. 18:24)—as they sought to gain favor with a tyrant.
How is it with us? We who have been redeemed with the precious blood of Christ are eternally blessed. Too often, in principle, we too behave out of fear of the world, seeking to order our lives to gain its approval, rather than to trust our loving God.
21-22. “And upon a set day Herod, arrayed in royal apparel, sat upon his throne, and made an oration unto them. And the people gave a shout, saying, It is the voice of a god, and not of a man.”
We see the sad result of the fear of man. To these frightened people it brought the snare of idolatry.
23. “And immediately the angel of the Lord smote him, because he gave not God the glory: and he was eaten of worms, and gave up the ghost.”
Though it may not always happen so strikingly, God always vindicates His glory and the glory of His well-beloved Son. At the same time, He nullifies man’s haughty pride, using the lowliest of means.
Immediately smitten by God, the oppressor feared by man (but not feared by worms) dies.
24. “But the word of God grew and multiplied.”
While the enemy wasted away in death, the Word that he had tried to stamp out abounded in growth.
25. “And Barnabas and Saul returned from Jerusalem, when they had fulfilled their ministry, and took with them John, whose surname was Mark.”
This verse represents a very important point in the history of the church (assembly) in Acts. Save for one further time in Acts 15, Peter is not again mentioned. The early Jewish character of the assembly in Jerusalem is slowly fading, while its proper Gentile character takes the prominent place.
We will now begin to see, almost exclusively, the work, not of Peter or the other apostles at Jerusalem, but rather the labors of the Apostle Paul as recorded by the Spirit. And, too, we will notice that the Gentile assembly at Antioch becomes much more prominent as the place from which the blessing of the gospel of God’s grace flows out to the Jew and the Gentile.
Chapter 13
1. “Now there were in the church that was at Antioch certain prophets and teachers; as Barnabas, and Simeon that was called Niger, and Lucius of Cyrene, and Manaen, which had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch, and Saul.”
Two spiritual gifts are specifically connected with this first Gentile assembly—prophets and teachers. It is instructive to see their order—prophets first, then teachers. The prophet brings the mind of God to the people of God, applying the truth of God to their special conditions and circumstances. While being taught is important (2 Tim. 2:12), having the mind of God for each circumstance of life is vital.
Oh! the blessing that comes from those who have an “understanding of the times, to know what Israel ought to do” (1 Chron. 12:32)—who, in communion with God, are able to reveal His mind for the present circumstances through which the assembly collectively and the believer individually pass.
May each willingly hear the prophets speak “to edification, and exhortation, and comfort” (1 Cor. 14:3).

Practical Reflections on Acts: Acts 13:2-12

2. “As they ministered to the Lord, and fasted, the Holy Ghost said, Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them.”
No assembly, no group of gifted brethren decided what service Barnabas and Saul should undertake. But fellowship was expressed with those the Spirit of God had called to this special ministry.
The mind of the Lord was not casually found. The five “prophets and teachers” at Antioch were completely occupied with serving the Lord. Do we sometimes wonder at the seeming lack of power in our prayers and blessing in our lives? Perhaps if believers knew a bit more of fasting we would also know more of His blessing in our individual, family and assembly lives.
3. “And when they had fasted and prayed, and laid their hands on them, they sent them away [they let them go—JND].”
Though the servant of the Lord is directly responsible to the One who calls him to service (Rom. 14:4), let’s not lose an important principle found in this passage. Barnabas and Saul did not leave on their appointed mission until there had been fasting and prayer for them and fellowship expressed with them. How happy when a servant of the Lord is the object of such earnest prayers and the fellowship of those who know him well.
The brethren did not send Barnabas and Saul on this service; that was the work of the Spirit of God. But they did submit to the Spirit’s leading and were given liberty of conscience to let them go. There is no suggestion of an independent spirit with them.
4. “So they, being sent forth by the Holy Ghost, departed unto Seleucia; and from thence they sailed to Cyprus.”
All service rendered for Christ, if it is to bear fruit, must be led by the Spirit of God and originate from communion with Christ (John 15:4).
5. “And when they were at Salamis, they preached the word of God in the synagogues of the Jews: and they had also John to their minister.”
At this point, the Word of God is still being preached to the Jew first, and then to the Gentile. Until the church was formed at Pentecost (and for some little time after), the synagogues and the temple represented the places where worship (the temple) could be offered to the true God and the truth of God could be learned (synagogues).
It was fitting that as the apostles first went forth with the gospel, they identified with the places where the true God was known. How careful we must be not to connect divine truth with anything that dishonors our blessed Lord Jesus Christ.
Though not called to preach the gospel, John Mark was to serve the servants! How many things can be done to help those called to preach the gospel or those engaged in other service for Him.
6. “And when they had gone through the isle unto Paphos, they found a certain sorcerer, a false prophet, a Jew, whose name was Bar-jesus.”
The Lord’s work and His servants are immediately opposed by Satan, through one of his servants, Bar-jesus. May the Lord grant us courage to continue our appointed labor in the face of the enemy’s attacks. The particular character of opposition here is striking. There was apparent power (sorcerer), understanding (prophet) of God’s mind, association with God (Jew), and apparent love for Christ (Bar-jesus). But in reality, all was false.
Much that passes as truth today in professing Christianity is, in reality, the work of the enemy of souls. How careful and dependent on the Lord for wisdom and guidance we must be in our service!
7. “Which was with the deputy of the country, Sergius Paulus, a prudent man; who called for Barnabas and Saul, and desired to hear the word of God.”
Sergius Paulus called for the apostles—a proof that their actions and words had made a favorable impact on this upright man. But it was not by the efforts of the apostles that this happy result was accomplished, but by the Spirit working in his heart.
8. “But Elymas the sorcerer (for so is his name by interpretation) withstood them, seeking to turn away the deputy from the faith.”
Bar-jesus (meaning “son of Jesus”) was his name in relation to his seeking to confuse the pure gospel truth of God. Elymas (meaning wise man) was his name in the character of seeking to turn away, by false reasoning, an earnest, seeking soul. Satan uses both today—religion and reason to turn aside souls from the truth of God.
9-10. “Then Saul, (who also is called Paul,) filled with the Holy Ghost, set his eyes on him, and said, O full of all subtlety and all mischief, thou child of the devil, thou enemy of all righteousness, wilt thou not cease to pervert the right ways of the Lord?”
The Spirit records that Saul (“desired”) is henceforth to be known as Paul (“little”). Acceptable service for the Lord Jesus must begin with the realization that the flesh, no matter how desirable, can never please or serve God acceptably (Rom. 8:8).
Humility is vital for discerning the enemy’s attempts to pervert the gospel, as well as for receiving power to overcome such efforts.
11. “And now, behold, the hand of the Lord is upon thee, and thou shalt be blind, not seeing the sun for a season. And immediately there fell on him a mist and a darkness; and he went about seeking some to lead him by the hand.”
The Jewish false prophet comes under God’s governmental judgment of blindness “for a season”—an apt picture of the nation of Israel. Today, those who knowingly, willingly turn away from the light and wisdom of God’s Word will sadly taste the same fate—morally blind—“ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.”
12. “Then the deputy, when he saw what was done, believed, being astonished at the doctrine of the Lord.”
Once again works are connected with words. Sergius Paulus’s amazement at the teaching of the Lord came from the Spirit’s power displayed in the apostles’ actions. May our lives adorn the doctrine of God our Saviour.

Practical Reflections on Acts: Acts 8:36-9:14

Acts 8:36-9:14
36-38. “And as they went on their way, they came unto a certain water: and the eunuch said, See, here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized?  .  .  . And he commanded the chariot to stand still: and they went down both into the water, both Philip and the eunuch; and he baptized him.”
If baptism were necessary for salvation—if it were commanded of a saved soul—the eunuch would never have said, “What doth hinder me?” A person under a command does not use such language. The only command given in this Gentile believer’s baptism is his own command to stop the chariot (see JND translation).
(Verse 37 is not in the most reliable manuscripts.)
39-40. “And when they were come up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord caught away Philip, that the eunuch saw him no more: and he went on his way rejoicing. But Philip was found at Azotus: and passing through he preached in all the cities, till he came to Caesarea.”
The channel God uses for a soul’s blessing is not necessary for the soul’s rejoicing. Believers are to rejoice in the Lord (Phil. 3:1; 4:4). Thus, once Philip has been used to bring the eunuch to Christ, he—not the eunuch’s rejoicing—is caught away.
God directed his servant to a new field of service—evangelizing cities—even as He had previously directed Philip to the wilderness to evangelize one soul. His ways are past finding out (Rom. 11:33)!
Chapter 9
12. “And Saul, yet breathing out threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord, went unto the high priest, and desired of him letters to Damascus to the synagogues, that if he found any of this way, whether they were men or women, he might bring them bound unto Jerusalem.”
In Saul’s conversion, we see a striking picture of that which marks true salvation.
First, we see that Saul was an enemy of God, and he proved to be so by his wicked thoughts and works (Rom. 5:10; Col. 1:21).
Second, for all his religious zeal, Saul lacked love and compassion towards others, whether they were men or women (Rom. 1:31; 2 Tim. 3:3).
Third, Saul—bound by a religion of “do”—actively sought to keep others from being made free by the Son of God (John 8:36).
3. “And as he journeyed, he came near Damascus: and suddenly there shined round about him a light from heaven.”
Fourth, though acting in good conscience, thinking he was doing God service (Acts 23:1; John 16:2), the darkness of unbelief blinded Saul to the truth. True light must come from God (Gen. 1:3; Eph. 5:8).
4. “And he fell to the earth, and heard a voice saying unto him, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou Me?”
Fifth, man—at enmity with God—must fall, humble and repentant, before the One with whom he has to do (Heb. 4:13), realizing that it is against God, “against Thee, Thee only, have I sinned” (Psa. 51:4). Though our sin may often hurt or offend another person, it is first and foremost against God that we have sinned.
5. “And he said, Who art Thou, Lord? And the Lord said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest: it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks.”
Sixth, Saul owns that there is One to whom he is responsible—who has rights over him. Thus he realizes that in persecuting Christians, it is Jesus Himself he has opposed. Repentance is a vitally important part of salvation (Acts 20:21).
6. “And he trembling and astonished said, Lord, what wilt Thou have me to do? And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the city, and it shall be told thee what thou must do.”
Seventh, unlike Judaism in which man spends his life doing in order to gain favor with God, Saul, now having divine life, learns what he is to do to please the One who has become his Saviour God.
7. “And the men which journeyed with him stood speechless, hearing a voice, but seeing no man.”
God’s testimony—the gospel of His grace through the finished work of the Lord Jesus Christ at the cross—is going out in this world. Men may hear it, but apart from a work of the Spirit of God, they do not really see. Faith is necessary to see Jesus (John 12:21; Heb. 2:9).
8-9. “And Saul arose from the earth; and when his eyes were opened, he saw no man: but they led him by the hand, and brought him into Damascus. And he was three days without sight, and neither did eat nor drink.”
Christ now becomes the sole object of Saul’s heart. He, like the disciples of an earlier day, saw no man, save Jesus only (Matt. 17:8).
The work of conversion deepens. We have no divine record of what transpired in the soul of the beloved Apostle, but we may say that he reflected upon the sufferings of Christ during those three days of darkness in a most solemn, real and deep way.
10. “And there was a certain disciple at Damascus, named Ananias; and to him said the Lord in a vision, Ananias. And he said, Behold, I am here, Lord.”
The meaning of Ananias’s name is connected with grace. Earlier, in chapter 5, a believer named Ananias and his wife failed of the grace of God (Heb. 12:15) and were removed under God’s governmental ways. Now the Lord calls another Ananias to a service—one which will both show and require much grace.
How lovely to see the immediate and willing response from this Ananias. “Speak, Lord; for Thy servant heareth” (1 Sam. 3:9) is ever the spirit that those redeemed by His precious blood ought to display.
11. “And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the street which is called Straight, and enquire in the house of Judas for one called Saul, of Tarsus: for, behold, he prayeth.”
The path of service for the Lord Jesus may be difficult—one with trials and testings—but never does He send His servants on a confusing path. Ananias is to follow a straight path to find Saul. May God grant each believer (for each has some service to do for the Lord) to follow the path of His will.
Christian service includes obedience (“arise, and go” ), direction (“a street  .  .  .  called Straight”), and dependence (“he prayeth” ).
12. “And hath seen in a vision a man named Ananias coming in, and putting his hand on him, that he might receive his sight.”
Though the servant of the Lord may not always know why he or she is sent on a service, the Lord who sends His vessel in service is perfect in wisdom and love. At times the servant may ask as Peter did, “I ask therefore for what intent ye have sent for me?” (Acts 10:29), while at other times, as here, the servant has a sense of the reason for his service.
But, whether fully understood or not, may the result of each believer’s service today be that of bringing spiritual sight to one abiding in darkness.
13-14. “Then Ananias answered, Lord, I have heard by many of this man, how much evil he hath done to Thy saints at Jerusalem: and here he hath authority from the chief priests to bind all that call on Thy name.”
Ananias’s spirit is beautiful in its innocent concern. No unbelief is expressed as we see with Zacharias (Luke 1:18-20). Ananias’s expression is one of loving concern for God’s people. Though ignorant of the exceeding abundant grace and ways of the Lord, this dear servant beautifully displays divine, loving concern for God’s dear people. May it ever be so displayed in our service!

Practical Reflections on Acts: Acts 9:15-31

15-16. “But the Lord said unto him, Go thy way: for he is a chosen vessel unto Me, to bear My name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel: for I will show him how great things he must suffer for My name’s sake.”
He who declares the end from the beginning (Isa. 46:10) displays sovereign grace. Saul of Tarsus is a chosen vessel of the One he so zealously persecuted (vs. 4)! The Lord does not speak of great things that Saul would accomplish, but of great things he would suffer. It is the time of conflict, suffering and labor now. The day of rest and glory is coming.
17. “And Ananias went his way, and entered into the house; and putting his hands on him said, Brother Saul, the Lord, even Jesus, that appeared unto thee in the way as thou camest, hath sent me, that thou mightest receive thy sight, and be filled with the Holy Ghost.”
The first words recorded by the Holy Spirit between a fearful follower (see vss. 13-14) and pardoned persecutor are “brother Saul”! What a display of the infinite grace of God towards both. Divine grace gave courage to the obedient servant as it had reached down to pick up the chief of sinners.
18. “And immediately there fell from his eyes as it had been scales: and he received sight forthwith, and arose, and was baptized.”
Saul had been blind to the glory of Christ as he energetically persecuted the assembly, entering into every house (Acts 8:3) and dragging to prison the Lord’s people. But on the way to Damascus he was blinded by the risen Christ of glory.
Earlier he had seen no beauty in Christ; now he sees no one save Jesus only. The result is immediate obedience—he rises, a new vision, we may say, filling his eyesight, and is immediately baptized. Oh! that we would ever walk with the Christ of glory filling our vision in this dark wilderness.
19-20. “And when he had received meat, he was strengthened. Then was Saul certain days with the disciples which were at Damascus. And straightway he preached Christ in the synagogues, that He is the Son of God.”
The newborn believer, like a newborn infant, needs food—the sincere milk of the Word—and fellowship with those of like precious faith.
The moral order of Saul’s conversion is beautiful. He receives sight, is obedient to baptism, is given food, and fellowships with the people of God. Afterwards, he preaches the gospel to the lost—the truth as to the person of Christ. This is, as it were, the normal pattern of true Christian conversion.
21. “But all that heard him were amazed, and said; Is not this he that destroyed them which called on this name in Jerusalem, and came hither for that intent, that he might bring them bound unto the chief priests?”
The grace of God is beyond the understanding of man—His ways are indeed past finding out. The former destroyer has, in Christ, become a new creation. Old things having passed away, all who hear Saul know he is not the Saul who had come to persecute in Damascus.
22. “But Saul increased the more in strength, and confounded the Jews which dwelt at Damascus, proving that this is very Christ.”
While the new believer’s spiritual strength increased, the unbelieving Jews’ confusion increased. To them, void of faith and requiring a sign, Saul’s preaching was a stumblingblock. But the Christ who had saved Saul of Tarsus was, and is, the cornerstone—the foundation of all blessing.
23-25. “And after that many days were fulfilled, the Jews took counsel to kill him: but their laying wait was known of Saul. And they watched the gates day and night to kill him. Then the disciples took him by night, and let him down by the wall in a basket.”
Man’s religious heart is ever at enmity with God (Col. 1:21), who gives testimony of the Messiah to His guilty earthly people—and in matchless grace does so for many days. But their unbelieving hearts will not have the sovereign grace of God, nor will they humble themselves and submit to His truth.
Yet, the eyes of the Lord are in every place, and thus Saul, now a disciple of Christ, is aware of their wicked plans. The once haughty pharisaical enemy of Christ must now taste what it is to be weak. He who wrote, “When I am weak, then am I strong” (2 Cor. 12:10), learns by experience that there are times to flee in a basket at night, even as there will be other times of fighting with beasts at Ephesus. Christ in glory gives strength to do all things.
26. “And when Saul was come to Jerusalem, he assayed to join himself to the disciples: but they were all afraid of him, and believed not that he was a disciple.”
Here was further humbling for the servant of Christ. Rather than a reception of loving hospitality and welcome at Jerusalem, his former deeds of persecution against Christians bear the fruit of fear—what Saul the persecutor had sowed, Saul the believer now reaped.
27. “But Barnabas took him, and brought him to the apostles, and declared unto them how he had seen the Lord in the way, and that He had spoken to him, and how he had preached boldly at Damascus in the name of Jesus.”
How wonderful that there was a Barnabas (the “son of consolation”) who in divine grace stood in the breach, commending the seeking Saul to the fearful assembly. May we be a Barnabas today!
28. “And he was with them coming in and going out at Jerusalem.”
Before Saul began his public ministry there, he was established in public fellowship with the assembly.
29. “And he spake boldly in the name of the Lord Jesus, and disputed against the Grecians: but they went about to slay him.”
Fellowship with the assembly in Jerusalem gave Saul liberty and the name of Jesus gave him authority to preach and reason with the Hellenist Jews.
30. “Which when the brethren knew, they brought him down to Cæsarea, and sent him forth to Tarsus.”
What happy fellowship! The brethren in Jerusalem did not just send Saul away from the danger, but they went with him before sending him on his way.
31. “Then had the churches rest throughout all Judea and Galilee and Samaria, and were edified; and walking in the fear of the Lord, and in the comfort of the Holy Ghost, were multiplied.”
The assemblies were first built up, and then they were found walking in the truth they learned. The result was that the Spirit of God was at liberty to bring comfort and blessing to them by increasing their numbers. Oh! that we too would walk in what we know today!

A Question About the "Reproach of Egypt"

Question: What is the “reproach of Egypt” (Josh. 5:9) being rolled away, in its typical application to Christians?
Answer: Christians are heavenly men, and it is a reproach to such that the ways of Egypt (man in nature and under Satan’s power), out of which they have been taken by redemption, should be seen in them. In Jordan (typically considered) we have our being dead and risen with Christ and introduced into heavenly places in Him.
Circumcision then followed (see Joshua 5), for it never was done in the wilderness, where we may walk in grace and faithfulness. But the moment we are “heavenly” another thing comes in.
Thus it is plainly seen that we are dead and risen with Christ (Col. 3:3) and that we bear the marks of our heavenly citizenship. Every trace of Egyptian bondage has been clean rolled away.
Suppose, then, that you see one who is a Christian running after the world and its fashions and follies. Well, you say, “You may be dead and risen with Christ, but you had better go to Gilgal and have that reproach to His name rolled away by the practical putting to death of your members.”
F. G. Patterson (adapted from Words of Truth)

A Question on Worship

Question: Is there such a thing in [Christianity today] as private or individual worship, or is everything, properly so called, confined to the gathered assembly?
Answer: I remember the same question [about worship] arising in my mind at least thirty years ago when writing (in the French) the tract, “On Worship.” There is one thing which may [help] your inquiry. John’s writings always refer to the individual. Chapter 4 [see verses 20-25] shows that individual worship is recognized. But if [one follows this, intentionally separating] from all saints, it would be [wrong]. Love to all saints is a necessary ingredient in the heart’s going up to God.
Worship together has a distinct and peculiar character, because there is Christ’s promise to be there. “In the midst of the church will I sing praise unto Thee.” But I do not doubt that if I am alone I can worship God alone. Still Scripture is full of joint worship, and so it will be in heaven.
In an assembly I should think it an unhappy thing for one to set himself apart as [somehow] superior to others. Our part is to esteem others better than ourselves (Phil. 2:3). And also, whereto we have already attained, let us mind the same thing (Phil. 3:16).
J. N. Darby (Letters, Vol. 3, adapted)

Remembering "the Way": A Farmer Remembers Africa and Italy

“This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come” (2 Tim. 3:1).
We surely realize that we are in the last days with their perilous times. One would like to encourage the hearts, especially of the young, through the following personal memories of going through World War II as a young man. He who says, “I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee,” did go with each of us who was called to serve in the armed forces in that awful conflict. Yet I feel, as difficult as those days were, my tour of duty during the war was not served in such difficult times as confront believers today.
During the war I realized over and over again that the One who saved my soul was able to save my life, preserve my testimony and redeem my body, as He promised. This was, and is, a great comfort to me.
The day I left home to be inducted into service, the verse on the daily calendar was: “Thus saith the Lord; Refrain thy voice from weeping, and thine eyes from tears: for thy work shall be rewarded, saith the Lord; and they shall come again from the land of the enemy. And there is hope in thine end, saith the Lord, that thy children shall come again to their own border” (Jer. 31:16-17).
What a comfort that was, realizing that my Lord and Saviour wanted my affections and promised to care for me. During my time in the service, He constantly reminded me that I was bought with a price, that the eyes of the Lord were upon me and that His ear was always opened to my cry.
Most of my duty was spent in Africa and Italy working in a hospital ward. But first I was sent to England. While there on guard duty one time, some children came through the area going home from Sunday school. I had a Messages of God’s Love in my pocket and gave it to them. They left but were soon back telling me that I was invited by their parents to their house. But I was unable to get a pass to go, for we were shipped out just two days later.
I always felt safe when traveling, whether by ship or rail, because God was my Father and I was cared for and loved by Him. There were many activities in which I could not become involved as a Christian. I was often alone in my tent in the evenings. But the Lord was always with me and I found these times to be wonderful opportunities to read the Bible and books of ministry such as Footprints for Pilgrims my older sister sent and to pray.
For twenty-three months I worked in a hospital ward, often twelve hours a day, seven days a week. I had to work on many Lord’s Days. As I walked to breakfast at those times, I would enjoy a song from the Little Flock Hymnbook—some hymn that was often sung in the remembrance of the Lord. Though I very much missed the remembrance of the Lord, those hymns gave me much comfort and happiness.
During the forty-two months I was in the service, the Lord was very dear and precious to me and on many occasions spared me from tragedies.
“How good is the God we adore” (Little Flock Hymnbook, #23).
W. Renaud

Remembering "the Way": A German Soldier Remembers

“Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of My righteousness” (Isa. 41:10).
In 1924 my mother and I joined my father in St. Louis where he had immigrated from Germany to seek employment and set up a home for us.
I did not hear or know much about the Lord Jesus until I was six when I started to go to Sunday school. Often I was afraid that the Lord had come and left me. Still, I didn’t accept the Lord Jesus as my Saviour until, when a senior in high school, I was invited by a friend to a gospel meeting and was saved.
My grandparents from Germany visited and wanted me to study mechanical engineering there. I went over in February 1939. A few months later, war was declared and I received notice to report for combat engineering training. It was a distressing time for me and my parents, but the words of a song comforted me: “His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me.”
In October 1941, my unit was shipped towards Lithuania as far as Riga. In January 1942 I learned through the Red Cross that my father had passed away. Soon after I was ordered to report to weapon and ammunition school close to the Polish-German border, but one of the instructors who did not like America at all sent me back to my home base.
Not long after, I was sent to a division which was fighting on the Russian front. In one particular battle, I had to crawl through the grass towards the enemy. Thankfully they surrendered before I got into combat. As they were surrendering I noticed that the bolt of my rifle was open, so I would have been unable to fire the weapon! The Lord was very gracious, for the companies on either side of us had taken heavy casualties, while our company had none. I had never before been in battle. After the battle I became a driver for the company commander, so was spared from ever having to use a weapon.
In early 1945 our troops began pulling back to Hungary. We were slowly making our way towards Slovakia when the war ended. We immediately headed toward the American lines.
We were disarmed and remained in a camp run by the Americans. The camp was in the Russian zone. Before the Americans left, they had to turn us over to the Russians. We were marched into Austria and formed into “work-groups.” I was told that I would be an “electrician.” Later, a Russian soldier in charge of a temporary power plant put me in charge while he went home on leave. I knew nothing about generating and supplying electricity, but I knew the Lord would help me, and He did.
In December 1946, while loading grain into railroad cars, I slipped on ice and broke my arm. My arm was put in a cast, and after six weeks, with the cast crumbling away, the two bones still had not grown together. Nothing more was done, so I got a piece of two-inch wood and strapped it on my arm. Finally in March 1947 I was sent to a recovery camp.
That May several of us were brought to the entrance of the camp and our belongings checked for any valuables. My small New Testament, which was never taken during all the war, was left alone.
We were loaded on a truck, taken to a train depot, loaded into a box car and sent towards Poland. We were going home! Arriving in East Germany, we were taken to a camp and then sent by train to West Germany where we were turned over to the Americans.
What a surprise, one day not long after, to be told to come to the front office because I had a visitor. My dear fiancé, who had received news of my release by telegram, was standing there! Daily, many prayers had been made for my safe return by my loved ones and the saints gathered to His precious name in Detroit, where my mother was in fellowship.
After three operations, the bones in my arm healed and we were married April 10,1948. I have much to be thankful for, and I praise the Lord for all that He has done for me.
“The Lord is righteous in all His ways.  .  .  .  The Lord is nigh unto all them that call upon Him, to all that call upon Him in truth. He will fulfill the desire of them that fear Him: He also will hear their cry, and will save them. The Lord preserveth all them that love Him” (Psa. 145:17-20).
F. Gandras
Ed. Note: These excerpts have been adapted from a longer account which our brother has written for his family about his experiences in World War II.

Remembering "the Way": A Medic Remembers Europe

“And thou shalt remember all the way which the Lord thy God led thee these forty years in the wilderness” (Deut. 8:2).
Almost sixty years ago a horrible conflict broke out which, before it ended in 1945, had involved most of the nations of the world. The daily lives of millions of people were harshly interrupted by this global conflict, and a vast multitude of people—many quite young—left home, never to return alive.
Today, many who are younger are not able to fully relate to the solemn effects of this terrible time and its intrusion into the lives of the young people of that day. What young Christians faced during World War II—as well as the Korean and Viet Nam conflicts—were real, solemn and very difficult tests of faith.
In our affluent and comfortable Western world—a place where young believers rarely have to leave the comfort and security of a Christian home to face the brutal realities of war in foreign fields—it is difficult to appreciate such trials of faith (1 Peter 1:7).
Hearing the experiences of those who, in their late teens and early twenties, were separated from peaceful and safe Christian environments, ushered into the harsh realities of godless and violent atmospheres, can be a source of real blessing.
Dear brethren, still living and known to many today, who faced those dark times as young men, carry many memories of them—times when the reality of their faith was severely tested.
We trust that recounting some of their stories as examples of faith will encourage all, specially those who are younger. Lord willing, beginning this month, we will include reminiscences of some of our dear brethren from their days in service. May each who reads them be blessed and strengthened in the faith.
We encourage other brethren who were caught up in these conflicts to send, as the Lord may give liberty to each, their stories to us.
A “Medic” Remembers Europe (1944-1945)
I was drafted into the army at age 18. The Lord allowed me to be granted the status of “conscientious objector,” and I became a “Medic.” The army world I entered was very wicked and very shocking to one such as myself, coming from a Christian home. The vile language and the efforts of older men to get younger men drunk was particularly upsetting and sad to my heart.
After 6 months of training stateside, we were shipped to England, where I was able to get to the meeting in Taunton for five months. There were two elderly brothers there whose last name was Widgery. But then came DDay and my medical unit was shipped to the front lines in France and, later, Germany. My father had given me a small Bible when I left home, which I carried in my shirt pocket—a true safeguard morally and physically.
The verse in Psalm 91, “A thousand shall fall at thy side, and ten thousand at thy right hand; but it shall not come nigh thee,” was very comforting. This was especially so when enemy bombers were flying overhead and when we became targets of snipers.
One night, huddled in a foxhole, a shell exploded in the trees over us. The shrapnel hit the men on either side of me, but I was spared any injury. Another time, as we were marching along a road with about 15 feet separating each man in our unit, a shell exploded overhead, wounding four men—both in front of and behind me—while I alone was not hit.
One time, the Lord overruled in amazing grace to save my life in a remarkable way. We had to evacuate 276 wounded men and during this operation I hurt my leg and was unable to continue. Because I could no longer help my partner, I had to stay behind, leaving him to drive our jeep. A bit later, the driver of the jeep, and two others with him, were blown up.
War is a terrible thing causing suffering on both sides. On one occasion, I took a wounded German prisoner back to the collecting station. He could talk English and told me he didn’t like the war. He had been drafted just as I had, and he had a family back home in Germany which he longed to go home and see again.
I had the wonderful blessing of having a praying father and mother back home. From time to time I received letters of encouragement, and dear Jimmy Smith’s service newsletter was always enjoyed.
After the war was over in Europe in April 1945, my battalion was shipped back home on furlough. We were to be shipped out again, this time to Japan. But thanks to the Lord, the war ended before my furlough ended.
T. Brown (adapted)

Remembering "the Way": A Merchant Marine Sailor Remembers

I served with the merchant marine sailing on ships that carried cargo and fuel supplies to the troops—as well as supplies for overseas civilians. Sometimes we sailed in convoys; other times we had naval and air protection. But frequently we sailed without escort protection.
While in boot camp, I attended a meeting in Los Angeles at which brother C. H. Brown spoke on Psalm 91. I feel that today I’m a living example of the truth of the psalm, both physically and spiritually.
When in San Francisco getting ready to ship out, I suffered an attack of appendicitis, ending up with a thirty-day sick leave. A year later I learned through a “boot camp” mate that the ship I was scheduled to sail on left port and was never heard from again.
I spent six months in Africa in a group of ten cargo ships supplying the forces fighting against General Rommel. When sailing these waters in the evening, the ships would line up in four assigned columns. One evening, when in line, we had slowed to allow a British ship in ahead of us. The lookout on our ship yelled “torpedo” and we watched the wakes of three torpedoes cross the bow of our ship.
All three torpedoes hit the ship that had pulled in front of us, which immediately exploded and sank within minutes. All hands on that ship were lost.
Later in the war we were carrying cargo during a battle in Sicily. We had anchored in the harbor when the enemy mounted an air attack. Many ships were being bombed by enemy aircraft. A British ship which was anchored less than one hundred yards from us received a direct hit from a bomb. Within fifteen minutes it had sunk with only five of its crew surviving.
That same aircraft dropped a second bomb, which came so close to those of us who were watching from our ship under the “shelter deck” that I could feel its “whoosh” and smell the grease on its shell as it passed by us. It hit the bottom of the harbor (about twenty-eight feet deep) and the resulting explosion and concussion drenched us with about a half ton of ocean water.
“He that dwelleth in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in Him will I trust. Surely He shall deliver thee.  .  .  .  He shall cover thee.  .  .  .  Under His wings shalt thou trust.  .  .  .  Thou shalt not be afraid for the terror by night; nor for the arrow that flieth by day; nor for the pestilence that walketh in darkness; nor for the destruction that wasteth at noonday. A thousand shall fall at thy side, and ten thousand at thy right hand; but it shall not come nigh thee” (Psa. 91:17).
J. Robert (adapted)

Remembering "the Way": A Royal Canadian Army Medic Remembers

On my first night in the army in October 1940, I found myself in a barracks room with about fifty other soldiers. The Lord enabled me to kneel by the side of my cot and seek for strength to confess His name. Much to my surprise, there was no comment made to me from the others.
A dear brother had given me a text reading, “Every knee shall bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord.” By the grace of God it remained at the head of my bed in the barracks for the next four years. In 1944 I was sent overseas with a Canadian General Hospital Unit. I was paired with another Christian and enjoyed sweet times of fellowship with him over the Word of God.
After D-day our hospital acted as a casualty clearing station. Wounded soldiers were brought back from Normandy and sent to us. Generally, five days out of each week, we would receive a convoy of wounded and sick soldiers.
Late one night, I attended a wounded soldier and, as we had to do with each one, asked for his religion. He answered “Christian.” This was a very unusual answer, and so I asked him if he knew the Lord Jesus as his Saviour. What a beautiful smile came over his face in answer, while tears came to my eyes!
The Lord was very good to me in that I was never stationed at any time in a place where I could not get to the remembrance of the Lord in His death. In one of the first Service Newsletters I received from Jimmy Smith, he included a list of all the assemblies in England and their addresses. This enabled me to visit each one when I was given furloughs.
I found early in my tour of duty that it is by far the best to confess the name of the Lord right away. If you put it off, it only becomes more difficult. Most fears concerning confessing His name are groundless and never materialize. How true it is what the Lord said to Abraham, “Fear not  .  .  .  I am thy shield, and thy exceeding great reward” (Gen. 15:1).
“If thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised Him from the dead, thou shalt be saved” (Rom. 10:9).
“These all  .  .  .  confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth” (Heb. 11:13).
L. Judd

Remembering "the Way": A Sailor Remembers Pearl Harbor

“Thou shalt remember all the way which the Lord thy God led thee these forty years in the wilderness” (Deut. 8:2).
A Sailor Remembers Pearl Harbor
“We know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose” (Rom. 8:28).
A dear brother who served in the Navy during World War II shared the following memories. He had been stationed on a destroyer in a naval task force which included the U.S. aircraft carrier Enterprise. They were heading back to Pearl Harbor after spending some time at sea.
Shortly before arriving at base, they ran into a bad storm. During that time, one of the hawsers (a line used to secure one ship to another) used during a refueling operation became entangled around the rudder and propeller of the destroyer he was on.
It became apparent that fixing this would take at least twenty-four hours. The commander of the task force who was on the aircraft carrier ordered the group to stand by until they were free and could continue together. After the delay, they once again got underway, arriving at Pearl Harbor on December 8, 1941—one day after it had been bombed by the Japanese Air Force. The Lord in His mercy had kept their task force—an intended primary target of the attackers—at sea until the attack was over.
A few weeks before this, our brother had been invited to spend an afternoon visiting an unsaved friend on the battleship Arizona. He faithfully gave the gospel to him. Sadly, the sailor refused to receive Christ as Saviour, and he was one of many who died when the Arizona was sunk in the attack.
Our brother also mentioned that months later, when his carrier group was involved in a major battle in the South Pacific, his ship was sunk one night. He and a friend found themselves together in the water, but they were missed by rescue vessels sweeping the area for survivors. The island beach, though still under enemy control, was about two miles distant. Because they were in shark-infested waters, the island seemed safer than facing shark attacks which would begin with the coming of daylight. So they began swimming towards the land.
While swimming in that inky darkness a bright light suddenly blinded them. They did not know if it were from friend or foe. Thankfully, it came from a ship which was making one final search and rescue sweep through the area. Not only was our brother rescued, but the Lord mercifully preserved and brought him home safely, after the war was over.
“Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of My righteousness” (Isa. 41:10).
“I am with thee, and no man shall set on thee to hurt thee” (Acts 18:10).
“He hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee” (Heb. 13:5).

Remembering "the Way": Memories From Holand - A Sailor Remembers - A Machinist Remembers

Ed note: With this issue we bring to a close the series on “Remembering ‘the Way.’  ” We trust that the accounts of those who were, as young people, involved in World War II have caused a fresh appreciation of the peace God allows us to enjoy today, while encouraging our hearts with His matchless, loving care in the darkest of circumstances. May we use the present day of peace and ease to be found “redeeming the time, because the days are evil” (Eph. 5:16).
In this article, we share three short excerpts provided by some dear brethren. May the Lord be pleased to use them for blessing.
Memories From Holland
It was May 23, 1944, in Utrecht, Holland. My mother was expecting me to be born in late July, but an enemy bomb exploded two blocks from our home, frightening her so badly that she went into labor, delivering me two months prematurely.
Because my dad had the measles, no doctor or medical person would enter our home (because they would then be quarantined). So my paternal grandmother and an aunt, neither of whom had any medical experience, successfully (with the Lord’s help) delivered me.
I was so weak and sickly that I was unable to keep down milk. Grandma thought she would try to feed me cooled water from cooked rice. My other grandfather owned a store in Langerak, Holland, and so, to obtain rice, my mother had to ride a bike for 1½ hours (one way) and then cross a body of water by rowboat. Because the enemy shot at the boats, my mother had to lie in the bottom of the rowboat.
By God’s grace, my mom was able to get the rice and the Lord used it to preserve my life. He has kept me for these fifty-seven years, and my prayer is that I may give Him all the praise and thanksgiving and live for Him daily.
K. Van Spengen, Sr.
A Sailor Remembers
Knowing I would be called to military service when I graduated from high school, I asked the Lord to put me in a line of service where I would not have to take another’s life. He graciously answered that prayer, though being separated from my family for the first time was not easy.
I was given a Bible by my grandma and an aunt. My arrival at boot camp showed me how loudly this Book can speak. At the camp we were required to empty our civilian bags of all our personal belongings and were given, in exchange, military gear.
A very rough looking sailor was going through each civilian bag with a curt, harsh manner. He summarily threw many of the new recruits’ personal belongings into a garbage can. When it came my turn, this hardened military veteran saw my Bible on top of my belongings. Picking it up ever so gently and carefully, he laid it aside while examining the rest of my belongings. Then with equal gentleness and care he placed it back, allowing me to keep it.
This incident caused me to value my Bible like never before, and it was a wonderful companion while at sea for the duration of the war.
Though my experiences were not life-threatening like so many other young men experienced, I proved the truth of what a brother used to say: “His protecting care from dangers seen and unseen.”
I remember one time, when our fleet was in operation off the coast of Japan, that we were hit with a sudden and violent three-day typhoon. Psalm 107:2330 well describes that storm. Although there was much damage and loss, the Lord was in control and He made the storm a calm. Military service showed me how fragile is the thread of life—in the prime of life one moment and eternity the next.
L. Campbell
A Machinist Remembers
When I was twenty-one (in 1942), we knew I would be drafted into the Army unless I volunteered. My dad advised me to do that, thinking I would have a better chance to get the kind of work I wanted. When I volunteered, I asked to be put in the Medics because I was determined not to kill. I would rather risk being killed myself than to take another’s life. They said they would see what they could do. But nothing seemed to be happening, for I was still in Combat Engineer training. I went to the chaplain and asked if he could help me. About a week later my name was posted on the bulletin board as going to St. Louis to a machine shop training school. The Lord was wonderfully working things out for me.
After all the training was over, I was sent overseas to a camp near Cairo, Egypt. Although I did have Christian fellowship, I can’t remember meeting any Christians when being shipped over. Our ship was loaded with technical troops who would maintain the equipment used in the war. The enemy would have been happy to have sunk our ship, but the Lord protected us on our thirty-nine-day voyage to Egypt.
One time when out on the desert, several of us had to sleep in a tent. It was crowded, and the language was so bad that I decided to sleep outside on the sand. Another time, a group of soldiers were using such vile, corrupt language that I took my Bible and showed them a particular verse—which quickly made them decide to go elsewhere!
Although I was later transferred to Naples, Italy, while still in Egypt I was allowed to go to Palestine on furlough. It was thrilling for me to think that maybe I was privileged to be in the very place where the Lord agonized in prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane. In all my service life (and since, too), the Lord has been very good to me—far better than I deserved.
E. Sutherland

Remembering "the Way": Memories From the Other Side

As we continue our series of the stories of beloved brethren who were young people during World War II, it is good to be reminded that all Christians did not live only in Allied lands. There were many dear believers who lived in the Axis countries—perhaps most notably in Germany. Our dear brother and sister, Heinz and Brigitte Brinkmann, are one such couple who lived during their childhood and teenage years in Hitler’s Germany. He has provided a most interesting account of those dark years. Due to its length, we plan, Lord willing, to run our brother’s recollections in series in the next few issues of the Christian Shepherd.
Memories From the Other Side
By now everyone is aware of how wicked Hitler’s political system was. He did not look favorably on Christians, especially “brethren” groups and Baptists. In 1937 these groups were forbidden to meet, for the government could not easily oversee and control fellowships like “brethren” who had no organizational structure.
Hitler also knew that the “brethren” groups were not, generally speaking, in favor of his political system. And, of course, they did not share his anti-Semitic views, nor did brethren believe Hitler’s foolish idea that the 3rd Reich would never end.
The pressure was very great on Germans to adopt this same false belief about the 3rd Reich’s permanence. For instance, when a person took a government certification test to examine his technical or professional ability, they would slip in the following question: “What will follow the 3rd Reich?” It had nothing to do with the particular skills or technical trades being tested. But if one answered that question by saying, “The 4th Reich,” he was summarily failed on the whole test—even though he had answered all other questions correctly!
Though most brethren did not agree with Hitler, even among them some were influenced and thought he was a good man. But I remember that as early as 1937, my dad would argue with other young men about Christianity and Nazism. He told them that the two could not be reconciled—they constituted very opposing philosophies. That made quite an impression on me, for my dad, my grandfather and many other brethren in my hometown were strongly opposed to the Nazi system.
One day in 1940, when I was ten years old, I was told to come to school in the afternoon. The purpose was that I was expected to join the “Young Folk.” Children in this group were ten to fourteen years old. When you turned fourteen, you were then expected to join “Hitler Youth.” The “Young Folk” group was nothing more than an introduction into “Hitler Youth.”
My parents did not want my older brother and me to be involved with such an organization, but to refuse to join could cause very great trouble.
H. Brinkmann
Editor’s Note: Lord willing, we will continue with the subject of the “Hitler Youth” movement and how it affected their family next month.

Remembering "the Way": Memories From the "Other Side" (Continued)

Because of Gestapo pressure against any who refused to join “Hitler Youth,” my parents told us to go to the meetings only occasionally, warning us not to get involved. My older brother came under heavy pressure from the Hitler Youth leader. He was suspicious that Dad opposed the group and wanted my brother to agree, which might have meant death or imprisonment for my father.
Around 1940 several “brethren groups” as well as others gave in to pressure from the government to join a formal religious confederation called the “Bund.” It had one national head and several regional heads. This shameful compromise allowed them to legally meet. But what a price had been paid! Those who joined had to agree not to use the blessed name of Jesus publicly. When someone wanted to be received into fellowship, the brethren had to first get permission from the Gestapo! If anyone withdrew from one of the religious fellowships in the “Bund,” they were reported to the Gestapo. When my grandfather found out the details of the confederation that brethren had joined, he and some others left the assembly and began to meet secretly for prayer and Bible study. Had the Gestapo learned what they were doing, he and the others with him would have been in great danger.
Many Christians were drafted into the military and many Christian families lost one or more sons in the horrible conflict. The government did not allow “conscientious objector” status, and refusal to serve often meant death or forced labor camps.
In early April 1945 (when I turned fifteen), we received a mail notice that I was to be at the railroad station on a certain day. Supposedly we were to be taken to the Alps for a ski camp. A Christian friend of our family who had a son my age learned that the invitation was just a cover to take young boys, give them rifles and send them to the Rhine River to fight against the advancing American Army. My dad quickly buried my uniform and I didn’t go.
An Allied bombing raid, which partially destroyed our house, was used of the Lord to keep my father from being sent to fight in a similar situation just before the war ended.
H. Brinkmann (adapted)

Remembering "the Way": One of Seven Brothers Remembers

I’m quite sure that there are many who could relate accounts of the Lord’s goodness and mercy shown them during that dark time [World War II]. The darkness and uncertainty of those war years was the backdrop on which God displayed the exceeding riches of His grace and goodness towards those of us who are in Christ. Many were the occasions where the Lord preserved me while I was in the war. He graciously brought me home from that terrible conflict safe and sound. To Him be all the praise.
Our family was composed of seven boys and one girl, so in the course of World War II, all seven of us boys were drafted into the military service—two in the army and five in the navy. It is easy, perhaps, to imagine what it meant to our parents to see all of their sons leave home for a very uncertain future. There were many times during the war when it seemed like there was no end in sight.
But God works all things according to the counsel of His will. All of us seven brothers were sent overseas, which added to our dear parents’ deep concern and anxiety. I remember well when my mother came by train to Los Angeles to say good-bye as I was being assigned to a ship to be sent overseas. It was very hard for me to say good-bye—but it was even harder for her.
Our parents’ simple faith sustained them during these dark times. We boys were all saved, so we knew that we would all be together in glory if any were killed. But God graciously honored our parents’ faith, and all seven brothers came home safe.
The Lord granted my desire for Christian fellowship as I boarded ship. I was walking up the gangplank, asking the Lord that I might just find a Christian with whom I could have fellowship. Just then I looked up and saw a man with John 3:16 stenciled on his denim jacket! It didn’t take me long to get in touch with him. As a result, we had many happy times together over the Word of God.
This Christian sailor was a Cherokee Indian who had been saved two years prior to being drafted. He was a bright and happy believer and the Lord allowed us to have a year of fellowship together.
It was quite difficult on board ship to find a quiet place where we could read and have a time of Christian fellowship. But in this, as well as all other circumstances, the Lord helped and encouraged us even though we were just two young believers who didn’t know much.
T. Froese
Ed. Note: The purpose of this series is to glorify neither war nor the military. However, World War II, Korea and the Vietnam conflict— awful results of sin—were times when the faith of many young people was severely tested. Whether serving as conscientious objectors, medical staff, or in other areas, the reality of trusting God for preserving care, physically and spiritually, was a daily reality to the young as well as those left at home. May these stories both encourage and stir up all our hearts—especially our dear young brethren!

"Rivers of Living Water"

“If any man thirst, let him come unto Me, and drink” (John 7:37).
If the rivers are to flow, we must drink. It cannot be otherwise. If every member of the church were in the power of this, what a very different state of things would exist! Where lies the hindrance? We are not straitened in our blessed Lord. It is His desire to use us, just as He used His disciples. He gathered them round Himself and graciously poured into their hearts the compassion of His own heart. Thus might they feel with Him and morally act for Him. We may always feel assured that where the heart is full of Christ, the power to act will not be lacking.
C. H. Mackintosh (adapted)

Sacrifices - Acceptable and Unacceptable

Three Acceptable Sacrifices
Every believer in the Lord Jesus is a priest (1 Peter 2:5,9; Rev. 1:6) and is called to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God by Him. Let’s consider three.
1. There is the sacrifice of the believer’s body, according to Romans 12:1—a living sacrifice in contrast to dead works and dead beasts offered under the Old Testament covenant of law (Heb. 6:1; 9:14).
2. In Hebrews 13:15 there is the sacrifice of praise. This is offered to God through the Lord Jesus Christ. All praises and prayers go through Him to the Father. As our great High Priest, the One who presents the sacrifice, He takes away any imperfection and presents all according to His own excellency and virtue. The sacrifice of praise, the fruit of our lips confessing His name, is acceptable to God in the measure in which it comes from the heart. From this same source, the lips of His redeemed offer praise.
3. There is the sacrifice of our substance—our physical resources (Heb. 13:16; Phil. 4:18). Scripture teaches us to use our physical and material possessions to do good and to share with those who are in need. God is pleased with such sacrifices that are a practical expression of love. This is the very opposite of accumulating for self.
All that is offered—our bodies, our praise and our goods—must be offered by the Spirit, in a spirit of thanksgiving and appreciation for the one sacrifice offered once for all by the Father and the Son, for “they went both of them together” (Gen. 22:6,8).
Three Unacceptable Sacrifices
1. Cain’s offering was unacceptable because of the nature of his offering. Abel had offered of his flock; he had shed blood. His offering showed that it is by the death of an innocent substitute that we draw near to God. We are accepted in the value of the offering. Hebrews 10:10,14 shows that this offering is Christ.
The fruit of a cursed earth (Gen. 3:17) offered by Cain well represents man’s efforts and good deeds, offered in opposition to the precious blood of Christ, shed at the cross. God cannot accept such.
2. The offering of Nadab and Abihu (Lev. 10) was not acceptable because of the manner in which it was offered. Through natural energy, strange fire was brought to burn incense. This reminds us that the worshippers God desires must not only worship in truth but also in the power and energy of the Spirit (John 4:23). The energy of the flesh is never acceptable to Him.
3. Uzziah’s offering (2 Chron. 26:16) was not acceptable because of who offered it. The king was not a priest—that was presumption on his part. Only the Lord Jesus Christ assumes in His person the two offices of king and priest (Heb. 7).
God looks at what is offered, how it is offered and who offers. The acceptable offering is centered on Christ and offered through the Spirit by a true believer, now a priest (1 Peter 2:5). By one offering we have been perfected forever—Christ offered Himself without spot to God by the eternal Spirit (Heb. 10:14; 9:14).
M. Payette (adapted)

The School of God

The varied classes in the school of God last a lifetime. Each believer receives individualized instruction—public and private. There are exams in the school of God (1 Peter 1:7). They are rarely meant to eliminate, but may necessitate repeating the class. But all will graduate at the same time (Phil. 1:6), appearing completely formed to the perfect likeness of Christ (2 Tim. 3:16; Titus 2:12; Job 36:22; 1 John 3:2; Phil. 3:21)!
M. Payette

The Shepherd's Joy

I recently stood by our window, watching my daughter bringing a stray lamb home again. She had placed the lamb across her shoulders and was holding its feet as she walked towards our house.
I remembered the Lord’s parable in Luke 15:4-6: “What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he lose one of them, doth not leave the ninety and nine in the wilderness, and go after that which is lost, until he find it? And when he hath found it, he layeth it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he cometh home, he calleth together his friends and neighbors, saying unto them, Rejoice with me; for I have found my sheep which was lost.”
What impressed me was the thought that when we stray, we are walking away from the Lord. But when He finds us, He brings us back on His shoulders, holding our feet—those very feet that had taken us away from His loving presence! What a happy position to be in to have the blessed Lord of glory—that Good Shepherd—carrying and holding us so that we might not stray from Him again!
We often think about the Good Shepherd caring for His sheep, but notice what a difference one word makes! “He layeth it on his shoulders, rejoicing.”
Even when we stray, our Lord rejoices to bring us back to Himself again. How great His joy must be when we are brought back into His presence and are content to stay walking by His blessed side!
K. Heslop

The Standard and Source of Truth

“Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Rom. 10:17).
Do we desire [to receive] the truth from God? We have His precious Word to teach us that truth with certainty. It is our joy and the sure means of security to cherish continual and unqualified subjection in our souls to the truth of God as He has revealed it in His Word. Though we may be grateful for helpful thoughts received through others, it is our duty to judge all by the Word (Acts 17:11).
Let us thankfully enjoy whatever of truth the Lord’s servants may minister to us. But such can never be a ground of faith. Whatever may be taught by this one or preached by that one must be brought to the touchstone of Scripture, instead of being taken out of its place and made a test of the truth. The Word of God is not only the great source, but the only standard of the truth.
Ministry in the Word is a blessed help, and it would be both pride and unthankfulness to despise such help (and injurious to our own souls, as well). “They shall be all taught of God’’ (John 6:45) is true of all saints, but it in no way excludes teachers and other ordinary means, though there may be extraordinary instances where they are taught without this or that aid.
W. Kelly (from Gems From My Reading, adapted)

Strength and Courage

“I have no man likeminded, who will naturally care for your state” (Phil. 2:20).
Strength and courage are needed more in a day of decline than when all is going well. Besides contending with the enemy, we may not find that we have the support of our brethren. We may meet with that which chills the heart and fills it with sorrow. But it is here the heart is tested, and it is here we find that God only can sustain.
There is not only conflict with a common enemy, but there is the state of the saints to be borne as a burden on the heart. Will you bear this burden? Will you cleave to the saints in the power of divine love when they turn away from you as all in Asia did from Paul? Will you seek to serve them when you are misunderstood, misrepresented, or even maligned, as Paul said to the Corinthian saints, “I will very gladly spend and be spent for you; though the more abundantly I love you, the less I be loved”?
The state of the saints with whom we have to do will often be the means of testing the state of our own hearts. It is easy to love my brethren when they love me and heap their favors upon me. But do I love them just the same when they turn against me or forsake me? Do I still cling to them when they have given me up? Do I intercede for them night and day when perhaps they are only speaking evil of me?
The real question is, Have I got the heart of Christ about the saints? And do I see Christ’s glory bound up in them? If these things are so, then I shall act toward them according to His heart and seek His glory in connection with their state, regardless of personal rights or present advantage.
A. H. Rule (adapted)

Studying Scripture

It is difficult to tell another the proper method of studying Scripture. The infinite depths of Holy Scripture, like the exhaustless resources that are in God and the moral glories of the Person of Christ, are only unfolded to faith and need. It is not cleverness of intellectual power but the simplicity of a little child that is required. The One who composed the Holy Scriptures will open our understanding if we wait on Him in earnestness of heart.
Further, it is as we act on what we know that our knowledge increases. We may fill our intellect with biblical knowledge, have the doctrines of the Bible and the letter of Scripture at our fingertips, without one bit of spiritual power. Let us go to Scripture as a hungry man goes to a meal—because we cannot do without it. We go, not merely to study, but to feed. The divine nature leads us to the Word of God as the newborn babe desires the milk by which he grows.
Thus we may see how important is the question of how to study Scripture. It is intimately connected with our entire moral and spiritual condition, our daily walk, and our actual habits and ways. God has given us His Word to form our character, to govern our conduct and to shape our course. If the Word has not a formative influence over us, it is folly to think of storing up a quantity of scriptural knowledge.
Trafficking in unfelt truth brings on a heartless indifference, levity of spirit, and insensibility of conscience. The mere profession of truth—truth which does not act on the conscience—is one of the special dangers of the day. Better to know a little in reality and power than to profess a large quantity of truth that lies powerless in the region of the understanding. I would much rather be honestly in Romans 7 than fictitiously in chapter 8. In the former case I am sure to come right, but in the latter there is no telling what I may come to.
As to the question of making use of human writings to help us in the study of Scripture, great caution is needed. No doubt the Lord may and does make use of the writings of His servants, just as He uses their oral ministry for our edification. Indeed, in the present divided condition of the church, it is wonderful to mark the Lord’s rich grace and tender care in feeding His beloved people through the writings of His servants.
But, we repeat, great caution is needed, that so precious a gift may not lead us to trade on borrowed capital. If we are really dependent upon God, He will put the right book into our hands, feeding us with food suitable. Thus we receive it from Himself and hold it in communion with Himself. It is fresh, living, powerful and formative. Thus we grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Precious growth!
Finally, let us remember that Holy Scripture is the voice of God, and the written Word is the transcript of the living Word. It is only by the Holy Spirit’s teaching we can really understand Scripture, as He reveals its living depths to faith and need.
C. H. Mackintosh (adapted)

Submission and Rest

The camel, at the close of day,
Kneels down upon the sandy plain
To have its burden lifted off
And rest to gain.
My soul, thou too shouldst to thy knees
When daylight draweth to a close,
And let thy Master lift the load
And grant repose.
Else how couldst thou tomorrow meet,
With all tomorrow’s work to do,
If thou thy burden all the night
Dost carry through?
The camel kneels at break of day
To have his guide replace his load,
Then rises up anew to take
The desert road.
So thou shouldst kneel at morning’s dawn
That God may give thee daily care,
Assured that He no load too great
Will make thee bear.
“Take My yoke upon you, and learn of Me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For My yoke is easy, and My burden is light” (Matt. 11:29-30).
“Whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved” (Romans 10:13).

A "Thanksgiving" Poem

Thanks be to God for
His wonderful love,
Given to us,
In His gift from above;
Us from our shame
And our sin He did lift,
By giving His Son.
B. A. Thonney
“The blood of Jesus Christ His [God’s] Son cleanseth us from all sin” (1 John 1:7).

Thoughts on Being a Father

As a father, I would like to share some thoughts I have enjoyed in meditating on the first four verses of Isaiah 42. These verses are quoted again in Matthew 12:18-21 where the Spirit of God directly applies them to the Lord Jesus Christ. God, speaking through Isaiah, shares His delight in His Son, the One who, in meekness and grace, effects the blessing of His people.
But in meditating a little on the joy of God the Father in His Son, my thoughts have turned to my role as father in my family. While there is a primary interpretation to a Scripture passage, there is also room for varied applications of that passage, which the Holy Spirit can make according to our needs and at any point in time.
“Thy commandment is exceeding broad” (Psa. 119:96). “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable  .  .  .  for instruction  .  .  .  that the man of God may be perfect [mature or full-grown], thoroughly furnished unto all good works” (2 Tim. 3:16-17).
A Father’s Support and Delight
“Behold My servant, whom I uphold; Mine elect, in whom My soul delighteth” (Isa. 42:1). Isn’t it wonderful to be called God’s servant? He uses that word “My” to inseparably link us with Him. Who else would we rather have to give us our instructions and directions? What more perfect, loving or gracious Master could we find?
Then, too, He upholds us. Not only is He the source of our assignments, but He also supports and sustains us as we attempt to carry out those tasks. “The eternal God is thy refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms” (Deut. 33:27).
Next, He assures us that He delights in us. Now that would be a rather bold assertion to make about us who were wretched sinners, both by our nature and by our actions, if He did not confirm the truth of it elsewhere in the Word of God. But He says He chose “us in Him [Christ] before the foundation of the world” (Eph. 1:4). The Lord Jesus says, “The Father Himself loveth you” (John 16:27). One of my favorite hymns contains the following two stanzas:
So nigh, so very nigh to God,
I cannot nearer be;
For in the person of His Son,
I am as near as He.
So dear, so very dear to God,
More dear I cannot be;
The love wherewith He loves the Son,
Such is His love to me
(Little Flock Hymnbook, Appendix #27)
“I have put My Spirit upon him” (vs. 1). Not only does God encourage us by drawing us close to Himself and describing how He views us, because we have believed on His beloved Son, but He also reminds us of the infinite resource of power given us for the task at hand—the Holy Spirit.
Every true believer has the Holy Spirit living in him, and John’s Gospel describes the various functions that He fulfills for us. He helps us remember (John 14:26), He teaches us (vs. 26), He guides us into all truth (ch. 16:13) and He points our attention to Christ (ch. 15:26). These are all principles that we need as fathers, at both the spiritual level and the natural level of dealing with the daily affairs of our families.
A Father’s Decisions
“He shall bring forth judgment to the Gentiles” (vs. 1). These special privileges—being God’s servants and possessing the constant, unfailing resource of His Spirit—are true of us at every moment. But how do they benefit us fathers? By our bringing forth judgment. I want to apply the word “judgment” in the sense of forming a decision, including the thought of discernment.
How often we feel unable to properly judge and decide the multitude of situations that arise in a day. Left to ourselves, we’d be wholly inadequate. But the wonderful message is that we’re not left to ourselves! We can, in the fear of the Lord, make proper judgments as we learn to sense and lean on the Holy Spirit’s leading.
A Father’s Discipline - Tender and Firm
“He shall not cry, nor lift up, nor cause his voice to be heard in the street” (vs. 2). In applying this passage to our role as fathers, we now have several details of daily living to consider. First, there’s our voice. Do our children respond with loving obedience the first time we speak to them, or is it only after we’ve repeated the request or command several times, each time getting louder, more forceful and more threatening? Our children will respond to whatever pattern we condition them to. We can train them to obey the first time instead of the fifth—with the quiet, soft voice instead of shouting and threats—if we show them through loving, consistent discipline that that is what we expect.
“A bruised reed shall he not break, and the smoking flax shall he not quench” (vs. 3). Second, there’s a need for balance. On the one hand, “a bruised reed” would suggest our children when they’re hurting and helpless; on the other, the “smoking flax” might refer to those times when they are feeling the heat of the Lord’s working with them about something in their lives that needs correction. With the former, we want to use extra care so that we don’t “break” them, but rather give them all the tender sympathy and compassion that they so crave at a time of pain and hurt, whether it be physical or emotional. With the latter, we need to exercise patience and restraint lest any of our words or actions “quench” or lessen or hinder the effect of the Lord’s hand in their hearts and lives.
A Father’s Guidance - the Word of God
“He shall bring forth judgment unto truth” (vs. 3). Third, what is the basis for the judgments that we are constantly called to form with regard to our children? Do we always go back to the Word of God to see what He would show us about each and every situation we face? Are our judgments according to truth—based solely on that solid foundation of absolutes that is only found in the Word of God—or do we rely on our own opinions as well as those of others around us to decide how we should deal with our children in a given situation? Proverbs 3:5-6 is a good motto for every aspect of life: “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct thy paths.”
A Father’s Faithfulness
“He shall not fail [or, faint] nor be discouraged [or, be in haste], till he have set judgment in the earth” (vs. 4). Fourth, aren’t we tempted at times to give up? The task of guiding our households and rearing our children sometimes seems so overwhelming that we faint beneath the load and feel like quitting entirely. But it’s at times like this that our God especially stands by us and encourages us with, “Let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not” (Gal. 6:9). Don’t give up! All the arduous toil of the present will be more than recompensed when we hear the Lord say, as we enter the Father’s house in heaven, “Well done, good and faithful servant  .  .  .  enter thou into the joy of thy lord” (Matt. 25:23).
Fifth, acting in haste is generally not wise when it comes to our fathering responsibilities. There may be times when we have no choice but to make a quick decision. However, often “haste makes waste” and we later regret not having allowed more time to carefully consider a matter or to let a situation manifest itself more clearly and completely before forming a judgment about it. The words of the Lord Jesus are, “In your patience possess ye your souls” (Luke 21:19).
A Father’s Patience
“The isles shall wait for his law” (vs. 4). Perhaps we can understand this phrase in a broad sense and apply it to the results that we will see with our children. As we seek, with God’s help and grace, to fulfill our duties as fathers according to God’s order and instructions, our children will “wait for [our] law.” In other words, they will wait for instruction and direction from us. They will lean on our guidance and help. They will respond with loving support and obedience. Does this seem too idealistic or unattainable? Let’s not forget what the Lord Jesus said: “Without Me ye can do nothing” (John 15:5). But let’s also remember the beautiful complement to this verse: “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me” (Phil. 4:13). Keep looking up—to Christ—for wisdom and help.
D. R. Macy

Thoughts on Depression

In Scripture, depressed means “to be in distress of mind.” Christians often suffer depression related to some physical deficiency or bodily malfunction. In such cases, a physician should be consulted in order that proper medication or a remedy might be found (Matt. 9:12).
I write to help in those cases where depression has resulted from other causes that are not medical in nature.
Depression Need Not Be Shameful
Even our Lord Jesus Christ “began to be sorrowful and deeply depressed” (Matt. 26:37 JND). With our Lord, it was caused by His knowing that He was about to go to the cross and be forsaken by His God for our sins—to be “made  .  .  .  sin for us” (2 Cor. 5:21). The anticipation of this caused the Lord much sorrow and depression, for He was to do with God about the question of sin and our sins (1 Peter 2:24).
What carried our Lord through this deep depression was that He knew the Father’s will had brought Him into these circumstances. This too can help us should we come into times of depression in our lives. The great difference between the depression we may have and the Lord’s depression is that His was from doing His Father’s will. Ours often comes from not doing His will.
But even in our circumstances we can know that while the Father did not lead us into them, He did allow them. We can profit if we see His purpose for us in it all (Heb. 12:11). Let us look at some in the Word of God who experienced sorrow and depression in their lives. Some could not prevent the circumstances that caused it, others could have, and some suffered by entering into the circumstances of others.
Innocent Victims
Man, being fallen and a servant of sin, often takes advantage of those who are weaker, bringing shame and hurt into the lives of their victims. The victimized are often scarred for life and this may lead to periods of deep depression. Think how Amnon sinned against Tamar (2 Sam. 13), devastating her. “Tamar  .  .  .  rent her garment of divers colors that was on her  .  .  .  and went on crying.” She had been violated by a force over which she had no power. Sometimes things happen to children (or to other weaker vessels) where the stronger inflict scars, destroying the beautiful garments of purity and innocence. Such tragic events may have lifelong effects, leading to deep depression in the victims.
Overcoming Hurt
Can such effects be overcome? Consider Timothy. “His father was a Greek.” He had not been circumcised in childhood and was no doubt rejected by his mother’s family, who were Jews. Perhaps even the Greeks looked down on him. Yet Timothy, who had no control over the circumstances of his family life, later followed Paul, who was also rejected.
This dear man of God had his lot cast in a time when Christianity was looked at as “a great house.” It was a house of mixtures, much like the house in which he was raised. Timothy needed to determine which vessels to separate from. He followed the path his grandmother and mother had walked. The confusion of his childhood was similar to conditions he would later minister among.
We can often see that, in the sovereign will of God in our lives, even before we knew Him as our Father, He allowed influences to prepare us to fulfill His purposes for us. Such instances often are the result of other people sinning against us, which require the necessity of our forgiving them from the heart (Matt. 18:35).
When we are able to do this, instead of depressing us, such circumstances can actually become a means by which we learn great principles of Christianity—God’s sovereignty and forgiveness.
When We Are the Cause
Perhaps more common causes of depression are the results of our own sins and failures. These may be more difficult to overcome. What were Peter’s thoughts when he went out and “wept bitterly” (Matt. 26:75)? Was he depressed? We must consider both the sovereignty and forgiveness of God, for later the Lord was going to use Peter to pen these words: “Ye were as sheep going astray; but are now returned unto the Shepherd” (1 Peter 2:25), and, “Whom having not seen, ye love” (1 Peter 1:8).
By means of his fall, Peter learned practically both about the need of “returning” and the realization that he did not love the Lord more than others, as he had thought. From his fall, Peter learned both restoration and humility of mind.
The Lord never can cause or tempt us to sin. But when we do, it is important to go to Him and receive His forgiveness—for ourselves. “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” Cleansing removes the sense of guilt.
Failing Faith and Lost Confidence
The Lord prayed that Peter’s faith fail not and when he was restored to “strengthen thy brethren” (Luke 22:32). When our faith fails, we lose confidence in our Father, and then the “fiery darts of the wicked [one]” are not quenched. The “shield of faith” is missing (Eph. 6), Satan accuses, and we lose faith in God. Let’s believe the Word of God.
He is not only a forgiving God, but a forgiving Father as well. We should never be indifferent to sin. But we ought to see that He has something for us to learn, and that it has been allowed for our good. Accepting His forgiveness for ourselves and seeing His purposes in these things will help to overcome depression when we are to blame for its cause.
When Others Are the Cause
Sometimes a person may become depressed because of others. One that we love—spouse, fiancé or a wayward child—may leave us. Sickness or death may deprive us of a loved one. These things—out of our control—are very painful.
It reminds me of Joseph, who suffered so much in this kind of thing. And in the midst of all, it appeared that the Lord had forgotten him. “Whose feet they hurt with fetters; he was laid in iron:  .  .  .  the Word of the Lord tried him” (Psa. 105). Yet he was able to say, “As for you, ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good.”
Bringing the Lord into our thoughts—learning His thoughts and ways—is very important in overcoming depression. Once the heart trusts Him and sees that He has allowed our circumstances, then the peace of God can be known (Phil. 4).
God must be a living reality in our lives, for, if not, we will often be depressed. May we heed the Word of God in relation to this: “Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind” (1 Peter 1:13).
H. Short
Ed Note: The above excerpts are adapted from a pamphlet available free of charge from the author.

Thoughts on Feet-Washing

Jesus rose “from supper, and laid aside His garments; and took a towel, and girded Himself. After that He poureth water into a basin, and began to wash the disciples’ feet, and to wipe them with the towel wherewith He was girded” (John 13:25).
The necessity for feet-washing is because the disciples will be left in a world where the devil and the flesh combine in deadly hostility to Christ. The flesh, whether in sinner or saint, is the material which the devil ever uses.
When the Lord comes to Peter, he boldly says, “Thou shalt never wash my feet.” In patient grace, the Lord corrects Peter’s impulsiveness by saying, “If I wash thee not, thou hast no part with Me.” From this we learn that feet-washing symbolizes the present service of the Lord whereby He removes from our spirits everything that would hinder part with Him. Thus, too, we learn that feet-washing enables believers on earth to hold communion with Christ in heaven.
When the affections have been chilled, even though there may be nothing to disturb the conscience, there will be a grave hindrance to communion with Christ. At such times the service of feet-washing comes in to remove the hindrance.
In Scripture we find that water is often used as a symbol of the cleansing effect of the Word of God. At conversion the Word is applied by the power of the Spirit, producing a thorough change and imparting a new nature. This entirely alters the thoughts, words and actions of the believer. This change is signified by the Lord’s words, “He that is washed all over needs not to wash save his feet, but is wholly clean” (John 13:10 JND).
There can be no repetition of this great change. Yet those washed all over may often grow dull of spirit. As the travelers’ feet are soiled and wearied by the dust of the road, so the believer, in contact with the daily round, the duties of the home-life and the pressures of business life, as well as the continual conflict with evil, may often be wearied in spirit. Thus, he is hindered from having communion with Christ in His things.
It is not that the believer has done anything that conscience would take account of, calling for confession and the work of the Advocate. Rather, his spirit is wearied and needs to be refreshed. Such refreshment Christ loves to give, if we will but put our feet in His blessed hands. He will refresh our souls by presenting Himself before us, in all His perfections, through the Word.
Thus, too, we are given the privilege of washing one another’s feet—a blessed service, not carried out by seeking to find fault with one another, but by ministering Christ to each other. Only the ministry of Christ will bring refreshment to a weary soul.
The godly widow in 1 Timothy 5:10 was not a rebuker of evil nor a corrector of faults, but rather a refresher of drooping spirits by ministering Christ.
H. Smith (adapted)

Thoughts on Hebrews 4

At the end of Hebrews 4 we have three great principles for going through the wilderness—the Word, the priesthood and the throne.
The Word searches the thoughts and intents of the heart—all that is working in the mind and will.
The priesthood sustains, in grace, in every infirmity, difficulty and trial.
The throne is perfect grace—though it is a throne. It is absolute sovereign power, positive government in grace, according to the character and majesty of Him who sits there. We go there boldly, for all is grace, and the great High Priest is for us with God. I am sure to find mercy and help there, for He who sits there is sovereign goodness and can bless righteously and graciously because of the Priest.
J. N. Darby (from Notes and Comments, Vol. 4)

Thoughts on Marriage Relationships

“Let the husband render unto the wife due benevolence: and likewise also the wife unto the husband. The wife hath not power of her own body, but the husband: and likewise also the husband hath not power of his own body, but the wife” (1 Cor. 7:3-4).
A husband is to shower his wife with affection. God holds him ultimately responsible for the character of the marriage. “Christ  .  .  .  loved the church, and gave Himself for it” (Eph. 5:25). As husbands, we are to love our wives in the same way, giving our all to them and for them. An aged brother, after many happy years of marriage, told me that, in his observation, a wife is like a flower. Given the warmth and light of her husband’s affection, she will bloom and blossom and delight her husband with the sweet fragrance of her love. A husband who selfishly or carelessly neglects to nourish and cherish his wife acts as a killing frost in the garden of affection.
Then the wife is instructed to render the same benevolence (“kindness” or “goodwill”—from the Greek) towards her husband. The one is not conditional on the other, but in the fear of God each of us is to look not on our own things (Phil. 2:4) but to the needs and desires of the one with whom we are “heirs together of the grace of life” (1 Peter 3:7).
The world today makes much of the woman’s right over her own body. God’s Word (in verse 4) instructs us very differently. The wife doesn’t have power (authority) over her own body, but rather her husband. Satan’s lie to the woman since the beginning has been, “Yea, hath God said?” Let us be very careful to not be seduced by his guile and craft, nor to fall in with the wicked and skewed humanistic philosophies of “this present evil world.”
On the other hand, neither does the husband have power over his body. His wife does. He ought not refuse the needs and desires of his wife. He is not to selfishly insist on his own desires being met, while refusing to consider those of his spouse. She is the weaker vessel and is to be treated with gracious and loving honor and consideration by her husband.
Thus we see that neither husband nor wife is to withhold relations of the physical realm from the other. Doing so shows ignorance or indifference to His revealed will and can easily lead to serious difficulties in a marriage. Remember, we are not our own, for we have been “bought with a price.” We are to glorify God with our bodies and with our spirits, which are God’s (1 Cor. 6:20).
Christians are called to walk on earth as “children of light,” always acting towards each other in love. I am to conduct myself towards my wife in the same way that Christ has acted towards the church—His beloved bride. May these things search our hearts.
K. Gorgas (adapted)

Thoughts on Raising Children

“I was a son unto my father, tender and an only one in the sight of my mother.  .  .  .  He taught me, and said  .  .  .  Let thy heart retain my words; keep my commandments and live” (Prov. 4:34 JND).
Children—unlike adults—have not yet their opinions formed. They are empty vessels, and it is our solemn privilege and responsibility to fill them. In John 2 the Lord said to the servants, “Fill the waterpots with water.” They obeyed, and there was great blessing. Your business is to fill your children with the water of the Word, the truth of the gospel, which the Lord can turn into the wine of salvation.
If we do not fill our children, someone else will. The devil is looking out for waterpots, and he will fill them with the poison of violence and corruption. But be aware, dear parents, you will not be able to fill them unless you first are filled. If you read trashy literature or adopt worldly habits, don’t be surprised if your children turn to such folly also.
Feed much upon the sacred Word and make it your chosen Book. Never forget that you must be in personal contact with the Lord. Seek to be like those servants who filled the pots to the brim and then brought them to Jesus. They were incapable of changing the water to wine, and so are you. Still, you must do what they did—bring your children to Jesus. To do this will necessitate wholehearted, fervent prayer (James 5:16). You cannot be successful in doing this unless you are found in constant dependence and prayer before your Lord.
Gems From My Reading (adapted)

Thoughts on Sanctification

Sanctification means “to be set apart to God” and, necessarily then, “from evil.” It is positional—what God has done for us in the work of Christ (as in Heb. 10:10)—and practical—what we are responsible to do in view of that fact (as in Heb. 12:14). (The world holy has the same root).
The Spirit of God works on us with the purpose of setting us apart for God. When we accept the gospel of our salvation, we come into the realization that we no longer belong to ourselves, but to Him who died for us and rose again.
But now we are responsible in view of that to act accordingly, putting it into practice in every aspect of our life. A thing that is sanctified is holy (as in 2 Cor. 7:1).
R. Thonney (from the Y.P. Forum)

Thoughts on the "Camp" and the "House"

A Great House
This term—great house—most closely corresponds with what is called “Christendom.” It is the sphere where the name of the Lord is called upon and with that goes the responsibility to depart from iniquity. But we are never called to come out of Christendom. The only way to come out of that sphere of Christian profession would be to become an apostate to Christianity.
It is within that sphere of profession that we are responsible to depart from iniquity. This means separation even from other believers who refuse to depart from iniquity. We are told, “If a man therefore purge himself from these, he shall be a vessel unto honor, sanctified, and meet for the master’s use, and prepared unto every good work.” A vessel to dishonor is not described, but we are individually to be exercised to be a vessel unto honor.
The Camp
This was that system of religion which man in the flesh could enjoy, including a luxurious building, fine music, robed priests and a visible altar. When our Lord Jesus presented Himself to the builders (Acts 4:11) in that religious system, they in effect said, “There is no place for you here.” So the call to believers, after the death of the Lord Jesus and the subsequent opportunities that God gave to Israel to repent (and they did not), is: “Let us go forth therefore unto Him without the camp, bearing His reproach” (Heb. 13:13). The place where He has promised “there am I in the midst” is surely a place found outside “the camp.”
Many principles of the camp have been incorporated into the religious systems found in the great house. While we do not come out of Christendom, we are to separate from what corresponds to the camp that has been adapted into Christendom.
We (those gathered to His precious name) look at ourselves as outside the camp, yet when it comes to public meetings, we sit mute with no exercise to take part in view of the fact that each believer present is a priest capacitated to offer prayer and praise (1 Peter 2:5). But if we look for another brother to always take part while we are quiet, in practice (though not, perhaps, in doctrine) we embrace what we are to come out of.
What about music? What pleases God now is worship in Spirit and in truth from the heart (John 4:23; Eph. 5:19). Such worship may grate on our ears, but it is pleasing to God. People—moved by the humanistic principles of our culture—are easily persuaded that listening to beautiful music is a form of worshipping God. But music is like honey. It is a natural sweetness that was recommended for man in measure (Prov. 25:16), but it has no place in the sacrifices of God (Lev. 2:11).
Distinguishing Between the “Camp” and the “House”
It is helpful to distinguish between these two things—Christendom and the camp. They are often spoken of as if they were the same, but they are not.
To enjoy individual fellowship with believers who are not collectively in fellowship with us is not necessarily going into the camp. However, at times, these believers may want us to go with them to their religious functions. This is where we need exercise about what characterizes the camp we are to leave.
Individual fellowship with other Christians, with whom we do not meet collectively, can still be a blessing to us, and we ought to be able to be a blessing to them. Yet, dear older brethren often express the importance of care and caution concerning such fellowship, and with good reason—especially for younger believers—for where there is no exercise to distinguish how far such fellowship should go, such individual fellowship can end up with the believer totally involved in the camp—taken up wholly with what is Judaistic in principle.
R. Thonney (adapted from a note to young believers)

Thoughts on the New Cart

2 Samuel 6 and 1 Chronicles 13
“The anger of the Lord was kindled against Uzzah [Uzza]; and God smote him there for his error, and there he died by the ark of God” (2 Sam. 6:7).
This account gives us an important principle for those who, placed in some position of responsibility, may act with zeal, but in ignorance of God’s Word. “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God” (Matt. 4:4). Whether these actions come of ignorance, forgetfulness or willfulness, the effect of disregard for the Word in our service may bring similar, sad results. Though David referred to the Lord on this occasion (see 1 Chron. 13:23), we do not read that he asked the Lord for guidance in moving the ark.
Twenty years earlier (1 Sam. 6:10; 7:2), the Philistines used a cart to return the ark to Israel after it had been lost in battle. God allowing the Philistines to move it in this manner and the Levites’ earlier use of a cart to transport other instruments of the tabernacle while in the wilderness may have suggested a reasonable precedent to David. Were not David’s faith and zeal to reclaim the ark and move it to Jerusalem more important than how it was done? But faith does not depend on precedent.
Regardless of the joy that accompanied the ark’s return, the authority for moving it and directions for how to move it did not rest with David. God only sanctions simple obedience to His Word. Real faith always obeys the Word of God without question.
The result of failing to have God’s mind about the handling of the ark resulted in the death of Uzzah, and David’s joy and singing were replaced by sorrow, displeasure and fear. Jehovah’s mind for carrying the ark and those responsible to do so are given in Exodus 25:12-15, 37:35, Numbers 3:30 and Deuteronomy 10:8. Earlier examples of the ark’s correct transport, on the shoulders of the priests, are in Joshua 3:3 and 6:4. Failure to obey these divine instructions is clearly foretold in Numbers 3:10.
Yet the Lord acted in grace and blessing. We read that “the Lord blessed the house of Obed-edom and all that he had” (1 Chron. 13:14). What carefulness those three months of reflection wrought in David! He instructed the priests to carry the ark to Jerusalem (1 Chron.15:12,15). What followed this happy event was joy and gladness, with David blessing the people and giving praise and thanks to the Lord. Jehovah’s approval of the way in which the ark was moved is seen, too, for we read that “God helped the Levites that bare the ark” (vs. 26). The joy of David’s heart bursts forth in a psalm of praise (1 Chron. 16:7-36), some of which is found repeated in Psalm 105.
Though David failed, there is no doubt he gained appreciation for the Word of God. This was of the highest importance and what was needed then, as it is today. All was used for David and Israel’s benefit, for God was seeking to bring His dear people into greater dependence on Himself and His Word (1 Chron. 15:2). Surely He desires that for His people today, as well. As one in a position of responsibility among God’s people, David learned to obey God’s Word in everything (1 Chron. 16:40).
Even though times and dispensations have changed, we, too, must learn the vital necessity of relying on God’s Word for guidance—never seeking to change or innovate where He has spoken. May we gain blessing such as David’s through diligent reading of and obedience to the precious Word of God.
R. Lee

Thoughts on the Woman's Place

How God views women [as seen in Scripture]  .  .  . as I teach my daughter, is of the utmost importance to me. The women’s liberation movement would encourage women to consider themselves to be the same as men and to compete with them in their sphere. God desires us to move in a different sphere, where we have our own special place in His scheme of things. What can compare with the joy of giving sustenance to the sweet, tiny, helpless baby boy or girl who looks into your eyes from the moment of birth and who will someday call you Mother! What can compare with the safety and peace of a Christian home where you are responsible to guide that realm (1 Tim. 5:14), keeping out all that is in discord with the thoughts of God.
What monetary advantage could ever compare with the privilege of seeing your babies, when grown, walk as God-fearing adults, testifying to the grace of God, because you have, with your husband, sought to bring them up “in the nurture and admonition of the Lord”? Would you want to trade places with a man, dear young sister? Do you desire to “compete” in the man’s sphere, rather than following the wonderful examples of godly women found in Scripture—Lydia, Eunice, Lois, Chloe, Priscilla, Mary, Damaris, Phoebe, Persis, Tryphena, Tryphosa, Nereus’ sister, Barnabas’ aunt, Rufus’ mother, and “chief women not a few” (Acts 17:4)? I wouldn’t!
From a sister’s note to younger sisters

Thoughts on Worship

“By one offering He hath perfected forever them that are sanctified. And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more” (Heb. 10:14,17).
The full assurance of sin put away ministers to a spirit of praise, thankfulness and worship. This, and this alone, is the basis of worship. It produces, not a spirit of self-complacency, but of Christ—complacency—the spirit which has Him as the object and shall characterize the redeemed throughout eternity.
Worship does not lead one to think little of sin, but to think much of the grace which has perfectly pardoned and of the blood which has perfectly cancelled its debt. It is impossible that anyone can gaze on the cross, there by faith seeing the place which Christ took, or meditate upon the sufferings which He endured or ponder those three terrible hours of darkness and still think lightly of sin.
When all these things are entered into in the power of the Holy Spirit, there are two results which must follow:  (1) an abhorrence of sin, and (2) a genuine love of Christ, His people and His cause.
C. H. Mackintosh (from Gems From My Reading, adapted)

"Understanding of the Times"

Editor’s Note: The following excerpt is taken from an editorial in the August 1951 “Christian Truth” magazine. We do not present it in a spirit of criticism, but beseech our readers (especially dear parents) to soberly and prayerfully consider its message. Advances in all areas of video technology—including CD movies, games, Internet and HDTV—make this ministry specially applicable to our day.
We feel constrained to examine the subject of television in the home, especially as it affects the Christian. King Hezekiah was asked by the prophet Isaiah, “What have they seen in thine house?” (2 Kings 20:15). This modern medium of communication will bring an assortment of sights into the home. Will those sights glorify God? Will they occupy the viewers with heavenly things? Will what is seen cause believers to grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ?
Perhaps the greatest challenge of TV concerns the welfare of our children. Dear parents, do you know what your children will see by means of television? It has a special appeal to the young, whose plastic minds are very easily influenced by it. And what are they seeing with such evident delight—folly, madness, crime and moral corruption?
This influence will surely accelerate the coming moral conditions that were found in the days of Noah and of Lot (Luke 17:26-30). You would not think of taking your precious charges from the Lord into the dance halls, theaters and dens of the earth. Shall you then bring such sights into your living room? It may be argued that as they grow up they will have to meet these things. That statement contains some truth. But parents, you also have an exceedingly great responsibility to Him who gave them to you.
Their youth is the only time that is yours to help mold them and instruct them in the ways of the Lord. Shall these fleeting days be lost—while instead of truth they become acquainted with fiction, fable, crime, immorality and horror? You shield their precious bodies from chemical poison: Shall you do less for their impressionable minds?
If the lawless deeds and foul sayings of the Sodomites vexed Lot’s righteous soul from day to day, what did they do to his children? The demoralizing effect on them was great—some were lost in Sodom’s destruction, while others became a shame and disgrace. Lot got into Sodom by degrees, for declension is always gradual. Will not the television scenes of borderline immodesty (and worse), with all the defiling conversation, gradually dull the Christian’s senses until, at length, he accepts that which would shock one with spiritual sensibilities?
Some may contend that this view is one-sided—that there are good things available on television. Oh! think, dear reader—no doubt Sodom had some good things too. Perhaps those good things were that which first attracted Lot’s eye to a place already resting under divine judgment.
By the same token, Cain’s world (Gen. 4) also had some good things. That murderer invested it with commerce, industry, arts and sciences—but could the children of his murdered brother (if there were such) relish anything of Cain and his world?
This world has murdered the Son of God—your Saviour and mine, fellow-Christian. Shall we then relish its so-called harmless attractions? Shall we rearrange our homes to make room for them? Satan is the god and prince of this world—stained with the precious blood of Christ. By these very things he is deceiving men and leading them to destruction.
Bold and self-confident or sadly indifferent must be the Christian who can bring such temptation into the bosom of his home and family without considering the solemn consequences that may well result.
P. Wilson (adapted from Christian Truth)

The Unity of the Spirit

Question: What does it mean to endeavor “to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace”?
Answer: The Holy Spirit personally came down from heaven at Pentecost (Acts 2:1) and indwells each believer individually (1 Cor. 6:19; Eph. 1:13-14). The saints indwelt by the Spirit form God’s habitation on earth where He dwells collectively in the whole assembly (Eph. 2:22).
The Holy Spirit unites each member to the Lord (1 Cor. 6:17), unites each to all other members (1 Cor. 12:13), and all members to Christ the Head. This is the church (assembly) of God, the body of Christ.
This unity remains unsullied by all failures of the assembly. It can’t be destroyed, because it is the Holy Spirit Himself who is the unity of the body of Christ.
The assembly—responsible to maintain the unity of the Spirit in practical, visible oneness—has failed. However, the unity has not. It remains because the Spirit of God remains, and it remains even when public oneness of action is virtually nonexistent.
A person may have a paralyzed limb, but the limb has not ceased to be part of the body. It doesn’t function properly in unity with the rest of the body.
No matter how great the ruin of the visible body of Christ—no matter how unhealthy and confused the state of things—Scripture never suggests the impossibility of walking in the fellowship of the Spirit, maintaining the truth of God. Rather, the Spirit presupposes evil, perilous days and commands us to endeavor “to keep the unity of the Spirit.” He commands nothing that is impossible.
Though we can never restore anything to its original condition, we can walk in obedience to the Word and in company with the Spirit who enables us to hold the Head.
While we are exhorted “to keep the unity of the Spirit,” we are not told to endeavor to keep the unity of the body. To do that would prevent us from separating from any member of the body of Christ, no matter what his practice.
The key to keeping “the unity of the Spirit” is to begin with myself. I must separate myself to Christ and from everything that is contrary to Him (2 Tim. 2:19). When I do this, I find myself in company with the Spirit and with all others who separate thus. It is with these that I am to follow “righteousness, faith, charity, peace” (2 Tim. 2:22).
A walk in entire separation to Christ, practical fellowship of the Spirit, and maintenance of the truth is the truest love that can be shown towards brethren who walk as “endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit.”
Those who do seek to walk in truth and unity will display an earnest desire that their brethren may be won into the truth and fellowship of the Holy Spirit. And though but a feeble remnant, there will be displayed in each personal devotedness to the Lord.
“Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!” (Psa. 133:1).
Words of Truth, Vol. 3 (adapted)
Ed. Note: Brother F. G. Patterson edited the periodical Words of Truth.

Walking With God

Enoch walked with God and “was not; for God took him” (Gen. 5:24). Being taken will be repeated at the rapture for those of us [believers] who are “alive and remain” (1 Thess. 4:15,17). This is a certainty. May it also be said that we walked with our God too.
There is something so wonderful about that expression. It isn’t the same as if it said God walked with Enoch. No, rather it is, “Enoch walked with God.” It was said by Jacob when he returned to Beth-el, “God  .  .  .  was with me in the way which I went” (Gen. 35:3). This refers to those days when Jacob was away from Beth-el, scheming his way through life.
So it is true of us. The Lord will never leave us or forsake us. But that is quite different from our walking with Him. The Lord God came down to walk in the garden, but man hid himself because of sin. May we judge ourselves and value, above all else, the privilege we now have to walk with Him. It is His desire who has called us unto fellowship—with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ.
H. Short

"We Have Seen the Lord"

“The other disciples therefore said unto him, We have seen the Lord” (John 20:25).
These words, spoken to one who had absented himself from the fellowship of that room, were wonderfully calculated to warm him and draw him back to the little company gathered in Jerusalem. This same spirit ought to animate those seeking to warm the heart of one who has grown cold and is absenting himself or herself from the meetings.
Too often our way of seeking to bring a wandering soul back is to rebuke them for being absent. “Why weren’t you out to meeting?” “Where have you been? You know you should have been with us,” and such like expressions. But if our heart is filled with Christ, if we have been enjoying His blessed presence in a personal way, and we carry the sense of that joy with us as we leave the meeting, then our message, too, will be, “We have seen the Lord.” And thus it will be His blessed person—not our rebukes—that draws the soul back to His presence.
Let us remember that it is the Person of Christ, and He alone, that can accomplish this. Do we carry with glowing, joyful faces such a message to the wanderer as we leave the meetings? Can we say in truth, “We have seen the Lord!” What else in this world can compare with that? What other possible motive for gathering together, if not by faith, first and supremely, to see the Lord? “Where two or three are gathered together in My name, there am I in the midst of them” (Matt. 18:20).
E. Wakefield (adapted)

"What Saith the Scripture?"

“The devil  .  .  .  saith unto Him, If Thou be the Son of God, cast Thyself down” (Matt. 4:6).
This was making a move without God—doing something by oneself. Scripture did not say, “Cast Thyself down, because God has given His angels charge concerning Thee, lest Thou dash Thy foot against a stone” (see Psa. 91:11).
The Lord would not turn aside from Scripture because Satan had misused it. He shows us, in the most instructive way, that we are not to be moved from our stronghold because it may be turned against us.
Our Lord does not enter into nice distinctions, nor analyze what Satan had said, but He has given us that which ought to be—the standard mode of dealing for every Christian.
There are those who might have spiritual discernment to see that Satan was perverting the scripture which he quoted, but many might not. The Lord takes a broad ground in dealing with the adversary. He stands upon what each Christian should know and feel, and this is, “It is written again, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God.”
He can appeal to that which is palpable and clear. It will be found that where a person systematically misapplies Scripture, he destroys some fundamental principle of the Word of God. Whatever is false is contrary to some plain passage of Scripture.
Now this is a great mercy, for the believer holds fast to what is sure. He will not quit what he does understand for something that he does not. He may be perplexed by what the adversary is producing, and he may have only a growing suspicion that he is wrong. But he may say to himself, “I never can give up that which is beyond a doubt for that which I do not know.” In other words, he holds the light and refuses the darkness.
W. Kelly (from Gems From My Reading)

Which Inn?

The inn serves as a temporary dwelling while we are away from home. But there was not place for the beloved Son of God when He came into the world. “There was no room for them in the inn” (Luke 2:7).
It does not say that the inn was full (though it may have been), but the Spirit of God says that there was “no room for them.” Was it because Mary and Joseph were the instruments chosen of God to introduce His well-beloved into the world?
There is no place for Him today in this world. If you go somewhere with your best friend and they refuse Him entrance, would you still go in without Him, leaving Him outside? May this exercise each of us about our associations.
We find a second inn in Luke 10:34: “Brought him to an inn, and took care of him.” This inn is a beautiful picture of the assembly, where the Lord brings us, where the innkeeper (a picture of the Comforter) takes care of us, and where He teaches us to care for one another (1 Cor. 12:25). In the first inn (the world) there is no room for Him, though Christians may come in without Him. In the second, the assembly (that inn of the Lord), there is a place for each believer while waiting to take up residence forever in the place the Father has specially prepared (John 14:2). Which inn would you that He find you in?
M. Payette

A Word on "Born Again"

“Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God” (John 3:3).
Believers possess a new life. If God only forgave us our sins, how could we be at rest in His presence? God not only has put away sin righteously (because the Lord Jesus fully met all God’s claims at the cross—“the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanseth us from all sin”), but it is also a blessed truth that when we accept the Lord Jesus Christ as our Saviour, we are born into the family of God. That is, we are brought into a new standing before Him.
Nicodemus accepted the Lord Jesus Christ as a great teacher (even as many in the world today do). But those who only believe He was a great teacher do not see the vital necessity of having a new life before God. So the Lord immediately tells him that unless a person is born again (or “born from above”), he cannot see the kingdom of God.
It is not only necessary that our sins be put away in the precious blood of Christ, but the one who accepts Christ is “born again”—born from above—brought into the family of God by birth with the very nature of God Himself. What a wonderful thing to possess the very life and nature of God Himself.
Water and Spirit
In answer to Nicodemus’ question as to how such a thing could be, the Lord said this new life must be born of water and Spirit.
In Scripture, water is often used as a figure of the Word of God. When one is born again, it is through the operation of the Word of God applied by the Spirit of God. “That He might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word” (Eph. 5:26). “Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth forever” (1 Peter 1:23). “Of His own will begat He us with the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of His creatures” (James 1:18).
New Birth
The Spirit of God applies the Word and in doing so gives new life to a dead soul. This is seen in John 5:25 where we read, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, The hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God: and they that hear shall live.” This verse is not speaking of resurrection, for it says the hour in which the dead hear “now is.” Verse 28 does speak of the resurrection, for there we read, “The hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear His voice.”
The hour now is when a dead sinner hears the voice of God through the Word of God, and the Spirit of God uses that for the quickening or imparting of life to that dead soul. When this happens, that person is born into the family of God.
The New Life Enjoys New Things
The Lord was saying to Nicodemus, “I can’t take you to heaven with the life you were born with in this world. You will have to possess a new life.” How could a man born in sin enjoy the things of God? Fallen nature is corrupt and loves sin. How could such a life enjoy the things of God or please God? “So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God” (Rom. 8:8).
When God imparts that new life, He imparts the very life and nature of God Himself. “This is life eternal, that they might know Thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom Thou hast sent” (John 17:3). “The life was manifested, and we have seen it, and bear witness, and show unto you that eternal life, which was with the Father, and was manifested unto us” (1 John 1:2).
The New Life Bears Fruit for God
“That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit” (John 3:6). Human nature cannot be improved. “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked” (Jer. 17:9). God hasn’t forgiven or improved the old nature we were born with. “God sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh” (Rom. 8:3). If you had a pile of rotten lumber, you wouldn’t try to build a house with it. It could only be condemned. This is what God has done with the old nature.
“Ye must be born again.” There is no other way by which there can be any fruit for God nor is there any other way a person can enter into and enjoy the thoughts of God unless he possesses new life. That is what happens when a person is born again.
G. H. Hayhoe (from an address)

A Word on Prayer

Spontaneous prayer, the lifting up of the eye and the realizing the eye of God continually upon us, is the great secret of spirituality in our dealings with one another. The deeply spiritual mind cannot be a great talker, because such is watching and cherishing the visits of the Spirit, ascending at intervals in all the secret acts of love and praise.

A Word to Children

The wisdom of God is far superior to man’s wisdom. A little boy or girl, however young, can be kept from all the evil that is in the world on the simple principle of submission and obedience to the Bible—the Word of God.
Children, you don’t need to know all the evil that is in the world. You don’t need to plan against some clever enemy. You just walk in obedience to the Word of God and I am sure you are going to be kept. No matter how dark the day, no matter how difficult the path, there is just one simple principle that will keep you faithful to the end, and that is the spirit of obedience.
H. E. Hayhoe

A Word to Fathers

“I go the way of all the earth: be thou strong therefore, and show thyself a man; and keep the charge of the Lord thy God, to walk in His ways, to keep His statutes  .  .  .  that thou mayest prosper in all that thou doest” (1 Kings 2:23).
David’s closing words contain valuable principles for fathers. We need godly, strong, loving and obedient fathers. When the world measures a man, they consider his success and his position in life. When God measures a man, He looks for men who are faithful to God and their families—spiritual heads who love their wives and children and who bear responsibility in assembly life as well as in their employment.
Fathers, how do we measure up? Oh, Christian fathers! Hear God’s Word—obey His voice! And, thereby, teach your families to love and trust Him, depending on Him for everything through prayer.
Gems From My Reading

A Word to Young Men

“I have written unto you, young men, because ye are strong, and the word of God abideth in you, and ye have overcome the wicked one” (1 John 2:14).
All Christ’s thoughts and life were the expression of the Word of God abiding in Him. He was the Word, the living Word.
So what characterizes the young men is having the Word abiding in them. It is not merely recollecting something to say or finding out something in the Word when one wants it, but the Word of God must be the spring of one’s actions.
This is what he means by the Word of God “abiding in you.” A young man does not fly to it just when he wants it, but he lives in it. Thus, God’s words living in his mind, he knows all that is in the world is not of the Father.
J. N. Darby

The Young Christian

I cannot give it up
The little world I know -
The innocent delights of youth,
The things I cherish so!
’Tis true, I love my Lord,
And long to do His will;
But oh, I may enjoy the world
And be a Christian still!
These things belong to youth,
And are its natural right -
My dress, my pastimes and my friends,
The merry and the bright.
My Father’s heart is kind!
He will not count it ill
That my small corner of the world
Should please and hold me still.
And yet - outside “the camp” -
’Twas there my Saviour died!
It was the world that cast Him forth
And saw Him crucified.
Can I take part with those
Who nailed Him to the tree?
And where His name is never praised,
Is that the place for me?
Lord Jesus! let me dwell
Outside “the camp” with Thee!
Since Thou art there, then there alone
Is peace and rest for me.
Thy dear reproach to bear
I’ll count my highest gain,
Till Thou return, rejected One,
To take Thy power and reign!
M. Mauro (excerpted)
“The wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 6:23).