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Sunday, September 23, 2018

HOW TO REBUKE EVIL EFFECTIVELY

HOW TO REBUKE EVIL EFFECTIVELY 


"They who have believed God may be careful to maintain good works” Titus 3:8


The alternative reading suggested in the Revised Version, "careful to profess honest occupations," helps us to understand what was in the mind of the Apostle when he wrote these words. The whole chapter reveals the kind of world in the midst of which these Cretan Christians were living. It was characterized by INSUBORDINATION TO AUTHORITY, BY LAZINESS, BY DISAFFECTION AND CONTENTION, AND BY EVERY FORM OF EVIL EXCESS. Moreover, it was intellectually a world of wrangling and disputes over all sorts of things. In the midst of such conditions the Christians stood fundamentally as those who believed God. To believe God is to believe His Word, His revelation of the true order of life. Those who stood on that belief could testify to the power of it in no better way than that of GOOD WORKS, that is, by following a quiet and diligent life of DEVOTION TO DUTY, in CALLINGS which in themselves were HONEST. And that is always so. THERE IS NO MORE POWERFUL FORCE FOR REBUKING ALL EVIL THINGS, WHETHER OF CONDUCT OR OF OPINION, THAN THAT OF THE QUIET, STRONG, PERSISTENT LIFE OF MAN OR WOMAN WHO GOES ON FROM DAY TO DAY DOING THE DUTIES OF THE DAY WELL, CHEERFULLY, AND WITH JOY. It is not easy; and that is recognized in the very verb employed. They are "to be careful"; that is, they are to MAKE IT A STUDY, TO TAKE THOUGHT ABOUT IT. It is not easy, but it is worthwhile as well as effective.

Friday, September 21, 2018

STARVED - HOMELESS - DESPAIRING

STARVED - HOMELESS - DESPAIRING 


"This also is vanity and a striving after wind" Eccles. 2:26


These words occur at the close of a section of the debate, and are a refrain already often repeated. In the first movement, after stating in general terms his conclusion, the Debater elaborated his statement by describing vividly his consciousness of the grind of the material universe (1:4-11). Then he began to mass his evidence in support of his contention that ALL IS VANITY. He first gave his own experience in personal life. He tried KNOWLEDGE, giving himself up to, and a STUDY of “all that is done under heaven”. The result was that he "perceived that this also was a striving after wind" (1:12-18). He gave himself up to PLEASURE, to fun, and found "this also was vanity" (2:1-3). He devoted himself to the AMASSING OF WEALTH and this with conspicuous success, only to look on everything and to discover that "all was vanity and a striving after wind" (2:4-11). He then contemplated life in the light of these disappointments, and came to the material conclusion that "there is nothing better for a man than that he should eat and drink"; and yet he was forced to admit that "This also is vanity, and a striving after wind." This is indeed graphic literature. It shows us a man, richly endowed in himself, living in the midst of marvelous things, of KNOWLEDGE, of FUN, of WEALTH, of LIFE; giving himself to these things with all the powers of his being—and yet finding nothing in them. He is STARVED, HOMELESS, DESPAIRING. There is a side to life which he is not counting on, or considering. It is the side which is SPIRITUAL, the completion of the sphere OVER THE SUN, above the MATERIAL. Forgetting that, everything is vanity. This is as modern as the weariness of every human soul which seeks KNOWLEDGE, LAUGHTER, WEALTH, and LIFE—AND FORGETS GOD.

Thursday, September 20, 2018

SHINING LIGHT TO A DARK WORLD

SHINING LIGHT TO A DARK WORLD 


"Lights in the world, holding forth the word of life" Phil. 2:15, 16


That is a very beautiful figure of thy mission in the world of those who are "blameless and harmless, children of God without blemish." The marginal reading substitutes the word "luminaries” for "lights." I do not think this helps us much, except as we remember that the word "luminaries" refers to the heavenly bodies, and mainly to the sun and moon. The idea is not that of the lamp stand, but of the light itself. The Greek word only occurs twice in the New Testament, here and in Rev. 21:11, where, speaking of the holy city, the seer declared: "Her light was like unto a stone most precious!” There the reference was not to the light the city diffused, except in a secondary sense. It was to the light she received and reflected which is directly after described in the words: "The lamp thereof is the Lamb, and the nations shall walk amidst the light thereof" (vs. 23, 24). What then, the Lamb is to be; in FINAL GLORY, to the City of God, the children of God are to the world today. This function of SHEDDING TRUE LIGHT upon the darkness of the world will be fulfilled as the "Word of life" is held forth in the life. To live by the Word, is to SHINE and REFLECT THE WORD in such a way that those who are in darkness may have GUIDANCE AND HELP. The conception fills us with a sense of our weakness, and that the more, when we ponder the conditions already quoted, viz., that we are to be "blameless and harmless, children of God without blemish." Yet, thank God, these words follow the glorious declaration that it is ours to "work out with fear and trembling" what God works WITHIN of His good pleasure.

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

RECOVERY THROUGH JUDGES

RECOVERY THROUGH JUDGES 


"Jehovah raised up judges" Judges 2:16


This brief sentence records THE METHOD OF GOD DURING THIS PERIOD. It was a METHOD MADE NECESSARY by the REPEATED FAILURE OF THE PEOPLE. That should be clearly understood. These men were not judges in our sense of the word. Neither were they appointed to rule in the normal way. The nation was a THEOCRACY, having GOD AS KING. Its life was conditioned by His law, and His will was made known through His worship, and the teaching of the priests. The first sentences of the previous chapter reveal the nation inquiring of Jehovah on a matter of national importance. The answer was direct. It was sought and obtained by the use of Urim and Thummin by the priest (Exod. 28:30). The people had no need of any other administrators in times of obedience. When through DISOBEDIENCE they passed into circumstances of DIFFICULTY AND SUFFERING, GOD RAISED UP JUDGES WHO BECAME THE INSTRUMENTS OF DIVINE DELIVERANCE. The Hebrew word Shophetim is derived from a word meaning TO PUT RIGHT, AND SO TO RULE, and this is exactly what these men did. In the earlier cases, when they had accomplished deliverance they retired again into private life. Gradually they came to retain office. Samuel judged Israel forty years. THE NEED FOR THEM AROSE OUT OF HUMAN FAILURE: THE PROVISION WAS OF DIVINE GRACE. This principle runs through all the history of man. Man persistently fails, but God persistently overcomes man's failure in order to man's well-being. PRIESTS, JUDGES, KINGS, PROPHETS, ARE ALL MEANS BY WHICH GOD STOOPS TO MAN'S LEVEL IN ORDER TO RECOVER HIM.

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

HOSPITALITY OF GOD

HOSPITALITY OF GOD
 

"Worthily of God" 3 John 6

 
If in his second letter John dealt specially with the subject of those to whom NO HOSPITALITY should be extended, but in this he commends HOSPITALITY, and shows what its nature should be. There were those who "for the sake of the Name went forth, taking nothing of the Gentiles." These were to be received and welcomed, and "set forward on their journey worthily of God." Two interpretations have been given of this phrase. One is that these men were to be treated as the VERY MESSENGERS OF GOD, and so worthily of that fact. The other is that those who tendered them hospitality were to do it AS GOD WOULD DO IT, "worthily (commendably) of God." Most prob­ably both views are correct, both ideas being involved. In harmony with the whole spirit of the letter the 2nd is the more obvious. What a PATTERN AND TEST is here of HOSPITALITY! What kind of a host is God? How does He treat His guests? When we have answered those questions, we shall have discov­ered the NATURE of the hospitality we ought to extend to all those who go forth for the sake of the Name. To those who receive the hospitality of God, He gives of His best, He gives lavishly: He gives of pure delight. His concern is forever for the HIGHEST WELL-BEING of His guests. He opens His home to them; He spreads His table before them; He admits them to famil­iar conversation with Himself; He places at their disposal all His knowledge, and all the riches of His grace. If we are to ENTERTAIN "worthily of God" these are the lines upon which our HOSPITALITY must proceed. It is one of the things which CONSTANTLY CHEER AND HELP those who go forth for the sake of the Name.

Monday, September 17, 2018

SORROW CAUSED BY THE ISSUE OF SIN

SORROW CAUSED BY THE ISSUE OF SIN 


"How does the city sit solitary" Lam. 1:1


In this book there are five songs of SORROW. They were doubtless composed by Jeremiah after the fall of Jerusalem. In them the man Jeremiah is wonderfully revealed. That which he had foretold had come to pass. The city of the great King lay in HOPELESS RUINS. The people of God were scattered far and wide. The outlook on circumstances was one of COMPLETE DESOLATION. The prophet indulged in no exultation. He was consumed with SORROW FOR THE CONDITION OF THE CITY AND THE SORROWS OF THE PEOPLE. These five songs in this book constitute the outpouring of his soul. In the first two, he contemplated the situation. In the third, the central one of the collection, HE IDENTIFIED HIMSELF COMPLETELY WITH THE PEOPLE. The last two are concerned with the DESOLATION, and the CONSEQUENT APPEAL TO JEHOVAH. Three of these, the first, the second, and the fourth, that is those of contemplation, begin with the word "How." The word (in the Hebrew, Aichah) gives the title to the book in the Hebrew Bible. This is significant. "How" expresses the whole fact of which the song so begun, attempts a DESCRIPTION. It is EXCLAMATORY, and suggests the impossibility of description. In this first song there are two movements: The first is the language of an onlooker (vs. 1-11); in the second the city personified, speaks herself of her desolation (vs. 12-22). In each, the cause of her sorrow is confessed (compare vs. 8 and 18). When the prophet personified the city he began with an appeal; "Is it nothing to you, all ye that pass by?" He saw that the SORROWS OF THE PEOPLE OF GOD HAD THEIR MESSAGE TO ALL OTHER PEOPLES. This is the true meaning of this probe. When we use it of Christ, let us not forget this. The appeal is not one for PITY but rather that men should know THE ISSUE OF SIN.

Sunday, September 16, 2018

LIFE GIVING RIVERS OF WATER

LIFE GIVING RIVERS OF WATER  


 "In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink. He that believes on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water." John 7: 37-38


John has recorded incidents in the first year of our Lord's ministry. We now come to a comparatively brief section in which he records happenings in the central and crowded two years. He arrived in Jerusalem at the feast of Tabernacles. His fame had spread, and there was discussion concerning Him there. Having arrived, He taught in the Temple precincts. In doing so He rebuked their attitude, and referred to the miracle wrought on an earlier occasion in the Bethesda porches. On the last day of the feast He stood and made His great utterance concerning the FLOWING OF THE RIVERS, claiming that He was able to satisfy thirst, and, moreover, that those who received such satisfaction from Him SHOULD BECOME CHANNELS through whom the overflowing RIVERS should pass. The religious authorities had sent officers to arrest Him, but owing unquestionably to the wonder of His speech they were unable so to do, for they said when they were asked why they had failed, "Never man so spake." One voice was raised at this point in His defense, the VOICE OF NICODEMUS who listened to His rivers of grace shared with the teacher of Israel. At the close of the day "every man went to his own house."
The greatest Person Who ever walked this earth was actively speaking TRUTH AND WISDOM that men were unable to discover themselves. He was on a mission of sharing Truth (John 7:29, 33). Men were making their hatred for truth through their comments and actions known. He here spoke of the coming ability of men to discover from His words life giving thoughts of Christ that could be SHARED AND PROVIDE BLESSINGS to those that would hear those words. LIFE GIVING RIVERS FLOW from the inner core of a human because of repentance. The plan of God from eternity past was being unfolded before their ears and hearts. All words shared by Him at this point were PURE GRACE. Later He would state to His disciples of His being the Master Teacher and Lord of this earth in John 13:13, the Despot Who has the sole right to declare Truth as His brother declared concerning Him in Jude 4.
Men today either receive His words as grace from above or hate the actual sharing and speaking of His close friends who declare to others what the Holy Spirit has led them to understand and flow from their mouths. They are easy to make righteous judgments concerning their reaction to those words shared from above. Thank God for Jesus opening His mouth while here and having them recorded in the BOOK OF LIFE GIVING RIVERS OF WATER.