Studies in the Scriptures
Zion's Watch Tower
Set a watch, O Lord, before my mouth; keep the door of my lips. Psalm 141:3
THE number of watchmen, or pickets doing duty and standing guard over our actions and words will be fewer in proportion as the picket line guarding our minds, our thoughts, is a strong one. It is here that we need to be especially on the alert. "Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh." This general truth is particularly exemplified in the regenerate, who are more open in their conduct and language, proportionately, than others. Having the right sentiments at heart they are less on their guard in respect to their manner of expression perhaps than previously; but all the more, they need to remember the words of the apostle, "If any man sin not with his lips, the same is a perfect man." --
James 3:2 Z. '04-23
It is the Lord: let Him do what seemeth Him good. 1 Samuel 3:18
WE know not what is for our highest welfare. Sometimes those things which we crave and desire to grasp, considering them to be good, might really be to our disadvantage. Blessed are they who are able by faith to pierce the gloom of every trial and difficulty and perplexity, and to realize that "The Lord knoweth them that are His," and that He is causing all things to work together for their good.
We are to wait patiently for the Lord, and to take patiently such experiences as His providences may mark out for us, questioning not the wisdom, the love and the power of Him with whom we have to do.
Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak. Matthew 26:41
SOME make the mistake of praying without watching; others make the mistake of watching without praying; but the safe and only proper method is that which our Lord directed, to combine the two. We are to watch, and to be on our guard against the encroachments of the world, the flesh and the devil. We are to watch for all the encouragements of the Lord's Word, the evidence of their fulfilment, the signs that betoken His presence and the great changes of dispensations just at hand. We are to watch for everything that will strengthen us in faith and hope and loyalty and love; and while watching we are to pray without ceasing. We are to pray together as the Lord's people; we are to pray in our homes, as families; we are to pray in secret, in private.
He made Himself of no reputation, and took upon Him the form of a servant. Philippians 2:7
AS no man is able to serve two masters and satisfy both, and do justice to both, their interests conflicting, no more can we serve God and righteousness, and at the same time be pleasing and acceptable to the adversary and those who are in harmony with him who now rules in this present dispensation, the "prince of this world." All of the Lord's consecrated people, those who would lay up treasures in heaven and be rich toward God, must be willing to become of no reputation amongst those who are not consecrated, and who, whatever their professions, are really serving Mammon, selfishness, and the present life, and not sacrificing these interests to the attainment of the heavenly Kingdom.
Having an High Priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith. Hebrews 10:21,22
LET us remember that He who has begun the good work changes never, and that if our hearts are still in harmony with Him, if our faith is still clear and firm in the great atonement, if our consecration is still full and complete, so that we seek not our own wills but His will to be done in our affairs, then we may indeed have the full assurance of faith, because knowing that God is unchangeable, and knowing that we are still in line with His promises and arrangements, we know that all of His gracious providences are still being exercised on our behalf. This is full assurance of faith--full confidence in the Lord.
I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. Romans 12:1
TO render all we have to the Lord's service is not only a reasonable thing, but an offering far too small --far less than what we would like to render to Him who has manifested such compassion and grace toward us. And we should feel thus, even if there were no rewards attached to such a consecration of ourselves. But inasmuch as God has attached great rewards and blessings, we should feel not only that a refusal to accept would be an indication of non-appreciation of divine mercy but an indication also of weakness of mind, of judgment, which is unable to balance the trifling and transitory pleasures of self-will for a few short years, with an eternity of joy and blessing and glory, in harmony with the Lord.
And I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the Word of God. Revelation 20:4
ALTHOUGH this beheading is figurative and not literal, it nevertheless has a deep significance.... It signifies, not only death to
, but also to be cut off from all other heads, governments and law-givers, and to recognize no "head" but Jesus, whom God hath appointed to be the Head of the church, which is His body....It means, not only to be
from institutional heads and authorities, but also to cease to have heads and wills of our own, and to accept, instead, the headship, the will, of our Lord Jesus. It is the same thought that is drawn to our attention by the apostle in Romans 6:3, where he declares that we are baptized into the
of Christ, as members of that body, under the one Head, Christ, by being baptized into His death,--a full consecration of our wills, and ultimately a full laying down of our lives, faithfully unto death.
Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain. Exodus 20:7
ALTHOUGH this commandment was not given to spiritual Israel we can readily see how the spirit of it comes to us....We have taken the name of Christ as our name. We are counted as members of the body of Christ. The holy name of the Head belongs to all the members of the body. The honored name of the Bridegroom belongs to His espoused. What carefulness the thought of this should give us, and how appropriately we should say to ourselves:--"I must see to it that I have not taken the Lord's name in
,--that I appreciate the honor, dignity and responsibility of my position as His representative and ambassador in the world. I will walk circumspectly, seeking as far as possible to bring no dishonor to that name, but contrariwise to honor it in every thought and word and deed."
The flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would. Galatians 5:17
HERE is the great and continual battle, for although the new will asserts itself and puts the body under and compels its subjection to the new mind, nevertheless the mortal body, not being actually dead, is continually coming in contact with the world and the adversary and is continually being stimulated by these and reinvigorated with earthly cares, ambitions, methods, strivings, conflicts and insubordination to our new will. No saint is without experiences of this kind-- fightings without and within. It must be a fight to the finish or the great prize for which we fight will not be gained. For although the New Creature masters the mortal body by the Lord's grace and strength repreatedly, nevertheless until death there can be no cessation of the conflict.
Love....rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the Truth. 1 Corinthians 13:6
ARE the principles of right and wrong so firmly fixed in my mind, and am I so thoroughly in accord with the right and so opposed to the wrong that I would not encourage the wrong, but must condemn it, even if it brought advantage to me? Am I so in accord with right, with truth, that I could not avoid rejoicing in the Truth and in its prosperity, even to the upsetting of some of my preconceived opinions, or to the disadvantage of some of my earthly interests? The love of God, which the apostle is here describing as the spirit of the Lord's people, is a love which is far above selfishness, and is based upon fixed principles which should, day by day, be more and more distinctly discerned, and always firmly adhered to at any cost.
Giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue. (fortitude). 2 Peter 1:5
ONE great difficulty with the Lord's people is that, even when determined for a right course and thus resisting the temptation, they do not take sufficiently positive action. Many say to the tempter, I have concluded not to yield at this time. Thus they leave in their own minds an opportunity open by which the tempter may return. Our Lord's course was the proper one: we should dismiss the tempter once and forever. We should take our stand so firmly that even the adversary would not think it worth while to come back at us along that line; "Leave me, adversary-- I will worship and serve my God alone."
Be not faithless, but believing. John 20:27
IT is impossible for us to come near to the Lord except as we shall exercise faith and trust in Him, in His goodness, in His power, in His wisdom, in His love.... Faith is a matter of cultivation, of development. The same apostles who cried out in terror when the storm was upon the Sea of Galilee gradually grew stronger and stronger in faith until, as the records show, they could and did trust the Lord in His absence and where they could not trace Him. Similarly it should be a part of our daily lesson to cultivate trust in the Lord, and to think of the experiences in the past in our lives and all of these lessons in His Word, that thus our faith in Him may become rooted and grounded.
Your Father knoweth what things ye have need of. Matthew 6:8
OUR petitions, our requests, our cries to the Lord, therefore, should be for the holiness of heart, for the filling of His Spirit, for the spiritual food, refreshment, strength; and as for the natural things, He knoweth the way we take and what would be to our best interests as New Creatures. We are to leave this to Him: He would not be pleased to see us importuning Him for things which He did not give us, for to do so would not be an exemplification of faith in Him, but the reverse--an exemplification of doubt, a manifestation of fear that he was forgetting or neglecting His promise to give us the things needful.
Take heed unto yourselves,...[for] grievous wolves shall enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them. Acts 20:28-30
IT is necessary for the discipline, trial and final proving of the church of God that they should be subjected to these adverse influences; for to him that
them is the promise of the great reward. If we would reign with Christ, we must prove our worthiness to reign by the same tests of loyalty to God, of faith in His Word, of zeal for the Truth, of patient endurance of reproach and persecution, even unto death, and of unwavering trust in the power and purpose of God to deliver and exalt His church in due time. To such faithful ones are the blessed consolations of Psalm 91.
He that saith he abideth in Him ought himself also so to walk, even as He walked. 1 John 2:6
HE is to walk as our Lord walked, in His general deportment and relationship to everything that is good and correspondingly to avoid everything that is evil. He is to walk as nearly as possible in the footsteps of Jesus. This, however, does not mean that he either should or could, in an imperfect body, walk up to all the perfection of his Lord, who even in His flesh was perfect. It means just what it says, that we should walk as He walked--in the same way, in the same direction, toward the same mark and standard that He recognized and established.
She hath done what she could. Mark 14:8
IT is not our privilege to come into personal contact with our dear Redeemer, but it is our privilege to anoint the Lord's "brethren" with the sweet perfume of love, sympathy, joy and peace, and the more costly this may be as respects our self-denials, the more precious it will be in the estimation of our Elder Brother, who declared that in proportion as we do or do not unto His brethren, we do or do not unto Him. ....Our alabaster boxes are our hearts, which should be full of the richest and sweetest perfumes of good wishes, kindness and love toward all, but especially toward the Christ--toward the Head, our Lord Jesus, and toward all the members of His body, the church; and especially on our part toward the feet members who are now with us, and on whom we now have the privilege of pouring out the sweet odors of love and devotion in the name of the Lord, because we are His.
He shall give his angels [messengers] charge concerning thee, to guard thee in all thy ways. Psalm 91:11
THAT is, God will raise up some faithful pastors and teachers who will "watch for your souls as they that must give an account." True, there shall arise false teachers, perverting the Word of the Lord and seeking by cunning sophistries to subvert your souls; but if in simplicity of heart God's children require a "Thus saith the Lord" for every element of their faith, and carefully prove all things by the Word, they will be able to distinguish readily the true from the false. And having done so, the Apostle Paul (
) counsels us to have confidence. The Lord, our Shepherd, will care for the true sheep.
The angel of the Lord encampeth round about them that fear Him, and delivereth them. Psalm 34:7
HOW it enlarges the confidence of a Christian to realize that whilst earthly powers may be in opposition, and whilst he may be really of himself powerless to resist adversaries, and whilst in addition to the flesh and blood adversaries he may realize that he battles also with spiritual wickedness in exalted places --against Satan and his minions of darkness--yet that, on the other hand, "greater is He that is on our part than all that be against us," and that all the heavenly hosts are subject to the divine will and may be employed for the advancement of the divine cause according to divine wisdom.
Let us watch and be sober. 1 Thessalonians 5:6
LET us watch in the sense of taking careful notice of all the directions which the Lord our God has given us, respecting what would be acceptable service to Him. Let us watch ourselves, striving to walk as nearly as possible in the footsteps of the great High Priest....Let us be sober in the sense that we will not be frivolous; that while happy, joyous in the Lord, free from the anxious cares that are upon many others through misapprehension of our Father's character and plan, we may, nevertheless, be sober in the sense of earnest appreciation of present opportunities and privileges in connection with the Lord's service;-- not thoughtlessly negligent, letting opportunities and privileges slip through our hands to be afterwards regretted.
If ye do these things, ye shall never fall. 2 Peter 1:10
THE contingency is not in the doing of these things
, and regardless of the righteousness of Christ to cover our transgressions and compensate for our daily shortcomings; but if,
to our faith in the imputed righteousness of Christ, we have cultivated all these graces
to the extent of our ability
, we shall not fall. When we have done all that we can do, we are still unprofitable servants, not daring to trust in our own righeousness, but in the ample robe which is ours by faith in Christ, while, with consistent "diligence," we work out our own salvation with fear and trembling, knowing that the righteousness of Christ is only applied to such as desire to forsake sin and pursue that "holiness without which no man shall see the Lord."
My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations. James 1:2
ALL wish frequently, no doubt, that the testings were all over and that we were accepted to a place amongst the overcomers; but patience and faith and trust are to do a refining work in our hearts, making us mellow, willing and obedient to the Lord. Let the good work go on. Let us rejoice if our trials have brought us lessons of any kind that are profitable to us;--that have tended to make us stronger in character, more firm for truth and righteousness, more aware of our own weaknesses, and more on guard against the same. Even those conflicts which have resulted in only partial victories have possibly been to our advantage....Even on points in which there may have been absolute failure, the result may be a strengthening of character, a crystallization of determination for greater zeal in that direction again, and a humility of heart before the Lord in prayer.
The zeal of Thine house hath consumed me. Psalm 69:9
COLD, calculating people may have other good qualities, but there is no room for coldness or even lukewarmness on the part of those who have once tasted that the Lord is gracious. With such, the love enkindled should lead to a consuming zeal. It was thus with our Lord Jesus, and this was one of the reasons why He was beloved of the Father....Let all who desire to be pleasing in the Lord's sight become so filled with the same spirit of zeal for righteousness and truth that it will consume them as sacrifices upon the Lord's altar. Thus they will be most pleasing and acceptable to Him through Jesus our Lord.
Ye have need of patience, [cheerful endurance, constancy] that, after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise. Hebrews 10:36
HERE we see that it is not merely to do the will of God that is the test, but that after having attained to that point, that mark of character in our hearts, in our wills (if only partially in the flesh) we should, by
, establish God's righteous will as the law of our hearts, the rule of life under all circumstances and conditions. Then, and not until then, will we be in the heart condition of fitness for the Kingdom. The Apostle James says, "The trying of your faith worketh patience [
"]; that is to say, if our faith stand the trial it will work this character of patient endurance. Of course, on the other hand, if we do not attain to patient endurance, it will mean that our faith has not stood the test satisfactorily, that we are not fit for the Kingdom.
Herein do I exercise myself, to have always a conscience void of offense toward God, and toward man. Acts 24:16
OUR consciences require regulating, as do all the other features of our fallen nature. If our consciences are to be regulated we must have some standard by which to set and regulate them. The conscience is like a watch whose dial is properly marked with the hours, but whose correctness as a time-keeper depends upon the proper regulating of its mainspring, so that it may point out the hours truthfully: so our consciences are ready to indicate right and wrong to us, but they can only be relied upon to tell us truly what is right and what is wrong after being regulated in connection with the new mainspring, the new heart, the pure will, brought into full harmony with the law of love, as presented to us in the Word of God.
Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth He any man. James 1:13
THERE is a difference between temptations which the Father considers proper and the temptations which come from the adversary. The former are tests of loyalty to God and to the principles of righteousness, and are intended to be a blessing and a help to all those who withstand them, and who thus demonstrate their loyalty to righteousness. The temptations of Satan, on the contrary, are in the nature of pitfalls and snares in evil and wrongdoing, temptations to make right appear wrong and wrong appear right, putting light for darkness and darkness for light. In this sense of misrepresentation and ensnarements in evil, God tempteth no man.
And the Lord said unto Moses, What is that in thine hand? Exodus 4:2
IF any man would be more abundantly used of the Lord in His blessed service, let him seek first to be fitted for it more and more. Let him imitate that beloved and honored servant, Moses, in meekness, humility, energy and untiring zeal and self-sacrificing service of the Lord. But the wise steward will seek always to cultivate along the lines of his natural abilities, and not expect the Lord to work a miracle for his advancement, and so waste valuable time seeking to develop that which he does not by nature possess.
Let us each, therefore, seek by humility, by zeal, by love for the Lord and for His cause, by faith in His power, to be in that condition of heart and mind which will make us ready to be used, and useful in any department of the divine service to which the Lord may be pleased to call us.
Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance. Ephesians 6:18
WE are to have the spirit of prayer in all that we say and do: that is to say, our hearts should be going out continually to the lord for guidance in all of life's affairs, that we may do with our might what our hands find to do, in a manner that will be acceptable to Him, and that we may be shielded by Him from temptation that would otherwise be beyond our endurance, and that we may be ultimately delivered from the evil one and have a place in our Lord's Kingdom. Brethren and sisters, let us more and more remember and put in practice these words of our Lord, "Watch and pray, lest ye enter into temptation."
When He giveth quietness, who then can make trouble? Job 34:29
WHO but He, the 'God of all comfort,' can give quietness in the midst of tumults which rise upon the soul like sudden storms upon the sea? Like ocean mariners in peril, we cry unto Him, and He bringeth us to the desired haven--blessed haven--of quietness and peace in God. What is the cry which brings this answer of peace? It is not a prayer that all occasion for disturbance shall be removed, for it is not always the divine will to bring peace to the human spirit in that way; it is not always the best way. But there is a cry which never fails to bring the quietness in which none can 'make trouble.' It is the prayer for sweet, trustful loving acquiescence in the will of God."
Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; for He is faithful that promised. Hebrews 10:23
GOD'S promise is the foundation upon which all that we hope for, either of character or coming glory, is built. Let us prize this truth so that we will not compromise it in any sense or in any degree; let us not only hold the Truth in the letter but in the spirit;-- in the love of it, because it is true, as well as because it is beautiful and grand. And let us ever remember the importance of
, that we may not only cultivate the Christian graces, and practice them, but that we may take joyfully the trials, persecutions or difficulties which our Lord may see proper to permit to come upon us for our testing and for the development of this character which He explains to us is of paramount importance, and without which perfect love could neither be attained nor maintained.
Lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the age. Mattthew 28:20
SURELY He who was careful to supervise the sowing work is not less interested and careful in respect to the reaping. Let us then thrust in the sickle of Truth with energy and courage, remembering that we serve the Lord Christ, remembering that we are not responsible for the harvest but merely for our energy in gathering what ripe "wheat" we can find. If the labor be great for the finding of a few grains of ripe wheat we are to rejoice the more in those we do find, and learn to love and appreciate that which is scarce and precious. Let us remember, too, while using all the wisdom we can in this service, that the Lord's object in giving us a share in His work is not so much what we can accomplish as in the blessing that the labor will bring upon us.