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Saturday, May 19, 2018

JESUS PROVIDES SALVATION AND MAKES IT KNOWN

JESUS PROVIDES THE GOD DESIRED SALVATION FOR MEN


"His right hand and His holy arm hath wrought salvation for Him. Jehovah hath made known His salvation" Psa. 98:1, 2

The theme is the same in these last Psalms, that of the reign of Jehovah. This song opens and closes in almost the same words as in Psa. 96. Here the central matter for which praise is offered is the salvation which results from the reign of this God. It moves in three measures; first, the salvation of God's people Israel, and that in righteousness; second, the consequent discovery of His Kingship by all the earth; and third, the gladness of Nature as it expresses the greatness of God. In these words at the beginning of the song two great truths concerning human salvation emerge. The first statement is that salvation is God's work; His right hand, and. His holy arm, hath wrought "salvation for Him." The idea is that salvation was in HIS PURPOSE; He desired it; He willed it. That being so it was imperative that He should provide. Whatever needed to be done, He must do. The singer rejoiced that Jehovah had provided what He desired. Here the heart of truth concerning salvation, in all the Gospel fullness of the term, is revealed. GOD DESIRED THE SALVATION OF MEN. MEN COULD NOT PROVIDE SALVATION. Then He wrought in a mystery of love and holiness and power; and so salvation is made possible. The second statement is that HE HAS MADE KNOWN His salvation. He has REVEALED it to men, and in its victories He makes it known more and more perfectly. Thus this Hebrew singer celebrated a truth the full value of which he hardly recognized. Here we have in the first statement, a declaration concerning those profound activities within the Deity, out of which human salvation is possible; and in the second, a declaration which covers the ground of the life and death and resurrection of Jesus. In Phil. 2:5-11, we find the New Testament light on this passage.

Friday, May 18, 2018

THREE TYPES OF FAITH

THREE TYPES OF FAITH


"And he removed from thence, and dug another well" Gen. 26:22


In these words we have a revelation of the character of Isaac, and an indication of the nature of his faith. He was a quiet, placid man, not given to making any great ventures, not given to restlessness. His was the pastoral habit that loved to dwell peaceably, DIGGING WELLS and so providing for the needs of those of his people and his cattle who were dependent upon him as the head of his tribe. But he was a man of persistence. He would not engage in strife with those who stole his wells, but he would quietly go on digging until they were tired of stealing. When his persistence found its reward in a well which his enemies did not appropriate, he called it Rehoboth, and attributed his victory to Jehovah, saying: "Jehovah hath made room for us, and we shall be fruitful in the land." All this is very valuable, as it helps us to see that faith expresses itself in different ways, according to differing temperaments. The faith of Abraham was forever of the high, adventurous order, and was the means by which God could lead him to great experiences. The faith of Jacob was always that of restlessness, but it was faith, and so was the vantage ground which God found for the perfecting of the man, and for using him. That of Isaac was restful, persistent devotion to immediate duty, and it was the principle which made it possible for God to give room in the land to the people He had chosen. God needs, and will honor and use, the ADVENTUROUS FAITH of Abraham, the RESTLESS FAITH of Jacob, and the PATIENT, PERSISTENT FAITH of Isaac.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

DYING EMPTY OR FULL

DYING EMPTY OR FULL



"Abraham gave up the ghost, and died in a good old age, an old man, and full" Gen. 25:8


That is a great word, especially if we leave it as it is in the Hebrew Bible, without the addition of the words, “of years." Abraham died FULL, not of years only, or principally, but of life, of experience, of all the great things. By faith he had abandoned much, but he had gained far more. He had come to know God; to walk with Him, to talk with Him; to enter into a true fellowship with Him in all the great processes of His heart. "He was called the friend of God" (James 2:23). Such life is FULL, whatever it seems to lack. The man whose vision is bounded by the things of time and sense might well say that Abraham died singularly EMPTY. As the writer of the letter to the Hebrews said he "died in faith, not having received the promises" (Heb. 11:13). For a hundred years he had dwelled in a land given to him in a covenant, but he had not possessed it according to the standards of human possession. Surely he had little of earthly gain in which to boast, and he had given up very much when he left Ur of the Chaldees. Nevertheless he died FULL, for in his fellowship with God, he had learned, to measure time by eternity, to value the things of sense by those of spirit. To such a man death is but passing on to wait the accomplishment of the Divine purposes, and the fulfillment of the promises of God on the other side. So the FULLNESS of Abraham was that of a wealth which death could not touch. The FULLNESS which men gain who live by sight and not by faith, is a FULLNESS of which they are EMPTIED in death. They leave their possessions behind them. The men of faith carry their FULLNESS with them. It is a great thing thus to die—FULL.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

GOD DISCRIMINATES

GOD DISCRIMINATES


"I cannot do anything till thou become thither" Gen. 19:22


In these words we find the carrying out to the uttermost of the principle for which Abraham had contended in his communing with God. They reveal to us the fact that it is impossible for God to be untrue to His own character of righteousness. His judgments can never be inconsistent with His justice. All this is emphasized when, reading this whole account, we see the reluctance of Lot. He was a righteous man, vexed with the lawless deeds of the men of Sodom (2 Peter 2:7, 8); but his associations with the city, and doubtless his possessions therein, were such that he lingered, and could hardly be persuaded to leave. While he was there God could not do anything, because to do so would have been to destroy that man, righteous, though reluctant to leave; and that would have been to deny Himself, and to undermine the very foundations upon which His throne is built. That is the truth which gives us confidence at all times. However terrible the judgments of God are, they are always DISCRIMINATIVE; and even when to our limited vision it may appear that the righteous are involved with the wicked; we know it is not so. Amos had that conviction when he said: “I will sift the house of Israel among all the nations, like as grain is sifted in a sieve, yet shall not the least kernel fall upon the earth" (Amos 9:9). This does not mean that the righteous never suffer as the result of the sin of others. They may suffer, and even die; it does mean that such suffering and death have another meaning.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

WALKING PERFECTLY

WALKING PERFECTLY



"I am God Almighty; walk before Me, and be thou perfect" Gen. 17:1



In this word Jehovah revealed Himself in a new way to Abram, and called him to a yet more complete devotion. The name or title, EL-SHADDAI is peculiarly suggestive, meaning quite literally, “The mighty One of Resource or Sufficiency”. We miss much of its beauty by our rendering God Almighty. The idea of Almightiness is present, but it is fully, expressed by the word El. The word Shaddai goes further, and suggests perfect supply, and perfect comfort. We should reach the idea better by rendering God All-bountiful, or even better still, God All-sufficient. This was the new revelation, and it was in connection with its making that Abram was called to walk before this God, and to be perfect. This is ever God's way with His own. He reveals the perfection of their resources in Himself, and then calls them to a walk which is made possible by these very resources. WHO CAN WALK BEFORE GOD AND BE PERFECT IN HIS OWN WISDOM OR STRENGTH? Surely none! But, on the other hand, who need fail to do so, if depending upon Him for all He, in tender and mighty strength, is able and willing to supply. To gather sustenance and consolation from the bosom of God, is to be made strong for all the pilgrimage, however long the march, or difficult the route. For us, the revelation of this truth about God is perfected in our Lord, for "The only begotten Son, Who is in the bosom of the Father, He hath declared Him." (John 1:18) And more; "Of His fullness we all received, and grace for grace." (John 1:16)

Monday, May 14, 2018

FAITH ACTS REASONABLY

ACTING REASONABLY



"Thou shalt go unto my country, and to my kindred, and take a wife for my son Isaac" Gen. 24:4



On the part of Abraham this sending of his servant to seek a wife for Isaac was an act of obedient and intelligent faith. He was now about a hundred and forty years old, and Isaac was forty. The record declares that "Jeho­vah had blessed Abraham in all things" (vs. 1); and the chief blessing granted was this son. Through him the promises made to Abraham were to be fulfilled; the promised Seed was to come. The certainty of this promise made it incumbent upon Abraham to co-operate with God intelligently. Therefore he took this method of securing the seed of his son from CONTAMINATION with the people of the land. It was an activity of faith. This is seen in the answer Abraham gave to his servant when he suggested that the woman he might find might not be willing to follow him. He declared that Jehovah would send His angel before him. The sequel shows how wonderfully this man was guided through the ordinary circumstances of everyday life. The principle suggested and illustrated by this whole story is that FAITH IS TO ACT REASONABLY. To believe in the promises of God is to act in accordance with them, in the sense of intelligent co-operation. Faith does not sit down and say: God has promised, therefore I have nothing to do. It rather says: God has promised, therefore I must do everything in the line of His promise; and so far as in me lies, see to it that nothing interferes with His purpose.

Sunday, May 13, 2018

FOOLISHNESS OF THE GLOBALISM DESIRE

FOOLISHNESS OF THE GLOBALISM DESIRE



"The joy of Jerusalem was heard even afar off” Neh. 12:43



In this chapter we have an account of the commencement of the solemn dedication of the wall. It would seem as though it had been postponed for some considerable time. Differences of opinion exist as to the length of time. Some place this dedication ceremony in immediate relation to that which is recorded in the following chapter, which would place it twelve years after the first coming of Nehemiah. Others say that the account given here has reference to what took place within a few months of the actual completion of the work. It is difficult to decide, and really the matter is of no vital importance. The ceremony, whenever it took place, proceeded in three stages. First, there were two great processionals, in which the appointed singers chanted the praises of God. This was followed by the reading of the Law and the consequent separation of the mixed multitude from the people of God (Ch. 13). The present chapter is principally occupied with the rejoicing, and in this connection the statement is made that "The joy of Jerusalem was heard even afar off." It was a great day, greater even than these people knew. The reformers had sought to bring the remnant, weak and small though it was numerically, back to a recognition of the deepest truth concerning the NATIONAL life that; namely, of its relation to God. Their joy that day was the joy of the Lord, and that was indeed their strength. All the pomp and pageantry and material splendor of the days of the monarchy had passed; but in that devotion to the Law, and to the purposes of God as manifested in the building of the wall, there was more of moral power than the old days had ever known, since the time when in THEIR THOUGHTLESSNESS, the people had CLAMORED FOR A KING LIKE THE NATIONS (GLOBALIZATION OF ISRAEL).

Saturday, May 12, 2018

IMPOVERISHMENT AND MORAL BREAKDOWN WITH NO WORSHIP


IMPOVERISHMENT AND MORAL BREAKDOWN WITH NO WORSHIP


"We will not forsake the house of our God" Neh. 10:39



In this chapter we have some further particulars of the Covenant which the people made with Jehovah following upon the great Day of Humiliation. This Covenant was sealed as represented by the priests (vv. 3-8); by the Levites (9-13); by the rulers (14-27); and to its terms all the people agreed (28). These terms are set forth in general phrases and in some particular applications. Generally, the people promised "to walk in God's law . . . to observe and do all His commandments." Particularly, the Covenant referred to matters in which the people had already failed—those, namely, of inter-marriage with the surrounding idolatrous peoples, of neglect of the Sabbath, of Temple maintenance and arrangement, and of the offering of first-fruits and tithes. It would seem as though Nehemiah laid special emphasis on these later things, and these concluding words give the reason for this stress. He knew the utmost importance of the house of God to the national life, and therefore he said: "We will not forsake the house of our God." The MAINTENANCE OF STRENGTH of the worship of God is of utmost importance, principally for the sake of the worshipers. There is a very true sense in which it may be affirmed that our worship cannot enrich God. But there is yet another sense in which He is ROBBED IF WE CEASE TO WORSHIP, for whenever we do, we suffer IMPOVERISHMENT IN OUR DEEPEST LIFE, and that results in MORAL BREAKDOWN. Therefore let us also forever say, "We will not forsake the house of our God."

Thursday, May 10, 2018

STRENGTH FROM THOSE WHO OBEY THE LAW

STRENGTH FROM THOSE WHO OBEY THE LAW 


"The joy of Jehovah is your strength" Neh. 8:10



The material side of Nehemiah's work being completed, the spiritual and moral work of bringing the people back more intelligently under the influence of the Law, went forward. Ezra now appeared upon the scene, and we have the account of a most interesting and remarkable religious Convention. The first day witnessed the assembling of the people. The phrase "gathered as one man" indicates their unity of purpose. They had assembled to hear the reading of the Law. This was not merely the reading aloud of passages from the Law, or even the reading of the Law. It was reading, accompanied by exposition, which was undertaken by men specially appointed. It would seem as though there were, first, a public reading, and then a breaking up into groups under the direction of selected Levites. Their work was that of translation and interpretation. The Law was written in Hebrew, and the people spoke in Aramaic, hence the need for translation. It was a day of conviction, resulting in great sadness, as THE PEOPLE DISCOVERED HOW SERIOUS THEIR FAILURE HAD BEEN, AND HOW SEVERE WERE THE TERMS OF THE LAW OF THEIR GOD. It was to this state of mind that these words were addressed, and they constitute an interpretation of the real nature and value of the Law. The joy of Jehovah is that which gives Him satisfaction, and that was expressed in His Law. Thus the Law was their strength. Only as they OBEYED it could they be STRONG. This surely was the thought of the Psalmist when he sang: "Thy statutes have been my songs" (Psa. 119:54). Because the LAW OF JEHOVAH IS THE METHOD by which He makes known to men THE WAY OF STRENGTH TO THEM, it is the joy of Jehovah. When we discover that, the statutes which fill us with fear, become our delight, our song. They are indeed our strength.

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

ENEMIES WITHIN THE WALL

ENEMIES WITHIN THE WALL



"For he was a faithful man, and feared God above many" Neh. 7:2



This is a description of the man whom Nehemiah placed in authority over the city of Jerusalem after the WALL WAS COMPLETED. The whole of the arrangements for the safety of the city, as here recorded, were characterized by statesmanlike caution. THROUGH THE ENTIRE COUNTRY ROUND ABOUT THERE WERE ENEMIES, and the position of the partially restored city therefore was one of PERPETUAL PERIL. Nehemiah was conscious of this, and made the most careful provision as to the hour for the opening and closing of the city gates and as to the arrangements for the watchers. No greater mistake can ever be made in connection with work for God in difficult places, than that of lack of caution. Carelessness is never the sign of courage. True bravery prepares for the possibility of attack. The man who had built, sword in hand, to completion, did not imagine that with the swinging of the gates on their hinges, the time for anything like relaxation in watchfulness had come. His choice of the governor was characteristic. He was chosen for two reasons; his fidelity to duty, and his fear of God. If we speak of these as two, they yet are but the two sides of one fact. Faithfulness to duty is the outcome of the fear of God. The fear of God always produces faithfulness. There is no sanction sufficiently strong to produce true loyalty other than that of this holy and loving fear. If a man is UNFAITHFUL IN HIS APPOINTED TASK, while yet declaring his loyalty to God, he lies, and the truth is not in him. The secret of the courage that is cautious, of the caution that is courageous, is always that of a complete fear of God.

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

THE WALL FINISHED


THE WALL FINISHED


"So the wall was finished" Neh. 6:15


The significant word in the statement is the word "so," as it calls us to reconsideration of how the dangerous and difficult work was accomplished. In elusively and exhaustively, we may at once say, the work was of God. That WALL WAS THE OUTWARD AND VISIBLE SYMBOL OF THE INCLUSION AND GUARDING OF THE REMNANT, until the Messiah should come and the Faith should appear. From now until then, this, remnant was to be kept inward. The Law was the custodian to bring them to Christ. The wall was the material expression of that isolation and security. When we turn from that consideration of the building of the wall by the will and through the overruling of God, to the human agencies, we find that the wall was built through the patriotism and high devotion of one man; and through the fact that he was able, by his influence and leadership, to weld the people into a unity of heart and purpose and endeavor which carried the sacred work to completion. The efforts of this man and the people were characterized by caution and courage, and passionate persistence against all opposing forces. Perhaps this latter quality is the most outstanding. By all means the enemies of the work sought to prevent its carrying out. HAVING BEGUN IN CONTEMPT, AND PROCEEDED THROUGH CONSPIRACY, THEY TURNED TO SUBTLETY. Against every, method, Nehemiah and his helpers were proof. Nothing turned them aside until the wall was finished. This strength against opposition was the outcome of a clear sense of the greatness of their task. Thus God's walls are always built, God's work is always done. He leads and guides and compels circumstances to aid His, workers; and they respond in agreement with His purpose, and in resolute refusal to allow anything from without or within to hinder them.

Monday, May 7, 2018

ANGER MINGLED WITH CONTEMPT FOR THE WALL


CONTEMPT FOR THE WALL


"We made our prayer unto our God, and set a watch" Neh. 4:9



That is always the true attitude of those who are called upon to work for God in face of danger. As the work proceeded, the opposition of the enemies of the people, which first expressed itself in derision, passed to ANGER MINGLED WITH CONTEMPT. Nehemiah was conscious of the menace of this attitude to the work he had in hand, and lifted his heart in prayer to his God. An illuminating sentence in the narrative at this point shows how completely Nehemiah had captured and inspired the people. It declares that "The people had a mind to work." Thus the work went forward, until the wall was raised to half its height. At this point the OPPOSITION BECAME FIERCER, and a determined attempt was made by CONSPIRACY TO STAY ITS PROGRESS. With immediateness, and a keen sense of the necessity created by this fact, Nehemiah says, "We made our prayer unto our God, and set a watch." In this method there was neither foolish independence of God, nor foolhardy neglect of human responsibility and precaution. Everything was done to insure that twofold attitude of complete faith in God, and determined dependence upon personal effort, which always makes for success. How often God's workers fail for lack of one or the other of these important elements!

Sunday, May 6, 2018

WALLS UNIFY


WALLS UNIFY

"Next unto him" Neh. 3:2


This is the first occurrence in this chapter of this phrase. It, or its equivalent, "next unto them," runs on through the first half of it, occurring no fewer than fifteen times. Then another pair of phrases "after him" and "after them" emerges, and one or the other continues to the end, occurring sixteen times. These phrases mark the UNITY of the work. By this linking up of groups of workers the whole wall was built. The description is in itself orderly, and proceeds round the entire enclosure of the city, including all the gates, and the connecting parts of the wall. Beginning at the sheep-gate, which was near the Temple, and through which the sacrifices passed, we pass the fish-gate in the merchant quarter, on by the old gate in the ancient part of the city, and then successively come to the valley-gate, the dung-gate, the gate of the fountain, the water-gate, the horse-gate, the east-gate, the gate Miphkad, until we arrive again at the sheep gate, when the chapter ends. All this is highly interesting in its revelation of method. THE UNIFYING FACT WAS THE WALL. All were inspired by the one desire and intention to see it completed. In order to realization, the work was systematically divided. Each group was UNITED, as to its own workers, in the effort to do the particular portion allotted to them. All the groups were UNITED to each other in the effort to COMPLETE THE WALL. It is a striking picture of the UNITY OF DIVERSITY, and has its lessons for us. There was no sense of separation. Each worked "'next to," or “after" some other; and so the complete union of workers and work was realized.

Saturday, May 5, 2018

TEST FOR FOOLISH THINKING


TEST FOR FOOLISH THINKING

"Seeing thou a man wise in his own conceit? There is more hope of a fool than of him" Prov. 26:12


A man, wise in his own conceit, is a man who is perfectly satisfied with his own judgment, his own opinion. He seeks no light or counsel from without. He holds the views of other men in contempt. No one can teach him anything. In this Proverb, which is one of wisdom as defined, the thought is principally that of a man who does not fear God, who does not seek to be guided by the Divine Will. A FOOL here is simply an ignorant person who knows his own ignorance. Such a one may be helped. However naturally dull of apprehension, he is willing to be taught. His natural foolishness makes it difficult to instruct him, but it is not impossible. This other man, starting with the conviction of his own wisdom, makes it impossible to help him, because he will have no help. The Proverb is not one that needs to be defended when we are looking at others. We see it exemplified so constantly, and however mistaken we know this man to be, we leave him to himself, for we know the hopelessness of trying to show him his ignorance. But the Proverb is one which we may safely use as a searchlight for ourselves. The peril is a very subtle one. We are prone to be wise in our own conceits, without knowing that we are so. A simple test may be employed. WHEN WE FAIL TO SEEK DIVINE GUIDANCE IN ANY UNDERTAKING, IT IS BECAUSE WE DO NOT FEEL OUR NEED OF IT. In other words, we are wise in our own conceit. There is no safer condition of soul, than that self-distrust, that knowledge of ignorance, which drives us persistently to seek for the wisdom which comes from above.

Friday, May 4, 2018

THE AGE OF TRUTH AND LIES


THE AGE OF TRUTH AND LIES

"The lip of truth shall be established forever: but a lying tongue is but for a moment" Prov. 12:19



That is a pre-eminently superlative way of stating a fact, and there are some facts which can only be adequately stated so. They do not admit of the comparative. They are positive, but in a superlative sense. Taking the second part first—"A lying tongue is but for a moment"—we are inclined to question its accuracy. A lie lives longer than that. Some have seemed to persist for centuries and millenniums. The Hebrew here literally is: "A lying tongue is but while I wink." How is it possible to believe that? The solution of the apparent problem is found in a consideration of the earlier phrase referring to duration—"forever." That is a phrase of which we often make use, but how seldom do we consider it? We employ it in the sense of time. As a matter of fact it is timeless, because it includes all time. In its presence all mathematical measurements break down. The lying tongue may continue to utter its falsehood for long years by the calendars of men, but when you place those years by the side of the ages of God, they are as a moment, as the winking of the eye, as nothing. Here, then, is comfort. IT IS TRUTH WHICH ABIDES. A LIE MUST PERISH. In a world still largely mastered by lies, it is difficult at times to believe this. Yet to review the history of the race is to have evidence of it. Lies are always perishing. Through the ages we see them shrivel and die however strong their power seemed to be. Truth, oft-times insulted, battered, wronged, never perishes. It has age-abiding life, for it is of God. Let individuals and statesmen observe this, and they will discover the secrets of strength and permanence. TRUTH is a Person and His name is Jesus Christ and He is eternal.

Thursday, May 3, 2018

FORGETTING


FORGETTING

"Yet did not the chief butler remember Joseph, but forget him" Gen. 40:23


There once was a quaint and forceful preacher, Thomas Champness in England, who read this chapter as a Lesson. Through the reading he made no comment, but as he finished this verse he closed his Bible, and said: "And his name isn't always Butler!" It was an unconventional, humorous, almost startling remark, but it left an impression upon all who heard which will never depart. It has helped me often to remember. This forgetfulness on the part of this man cost Joseph two more years of prison. It is perfectly true that he was safe in the will of God, and quietly preserved for the hour when he would be needed to be the deliverer; but that does not excuse the butler. How true the words which we have often quoted are: "Evil is wrought by want of thought, As well as want of heart!"
We bear no malice; we really desire to help; but we forget. Our own good fortune drives out of mind the evil fortunes of those whom we would serve, and sometimes those to whom we have pledged our word. It is wholly wrong. To forget may be as evil in its effects upon others as the doing of some posi­tive harm to them. Good intentions and sincere promises are of no value until they are carried out, fulfilled. There are many things we have done today. Have we forgotten something?

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

ALL SEEING EYES


ALL SEEING EYES

"The eyes of Jehovah are in every place, keeping watch upon the evil and the good" Prov. 15:3


Let us never forget this, or fail to derive from the fact its comfort and its saving strength. The word employed describes a very active and purposeful seeing. The statement is far more than that God sees; it is that He is investigating, observing, or, in the most satisfactory rendering of the Revised, "keeping watch." He is keeping watch upon the evil. It is never out of His sight. It loves the darkness rather than the light, but He sees as well in the darkness as in the light. The endeavor of evil is to accomplish its purpose secretly, before it can be discovered at its work. It is often successful, so far as men are concerned. It is never so, so far as God is concerned. He keeps watch; knows the hour, the place, the method, and the intention. He is keeping watch upon the good. He never fails to see it. Men often do. It struggles behind appearances, and often behind actions which are denials of it. Human eyes fail to detect it. Not so the eyes of Jehovah. They discern it, approve it, and reckon with it. The comfort of this truth is created by the character of God. He is the God of unsullied purity; His watching of evil is always with the intention of limiting it, and ultimately destroying it. He is the God of unfathomable grace; His watching of good is in order to develop it, and make it finally victorious. To remember this truth is to be halted whenever we are tempted to evil. It is to find new courage in all our efforts after the high and noble. He is never deceived as to our badness or our goodness. Therefore to live in His fear is wisdom.