Studies in the Scriptures
Zion's Watch Tower
O bless our God, ye people, and make the voice of His praise to be heard: which holdeth our soul in life, and suffereth not our feet to be moved. Psalm 66:8,9
THANKS be to God that His grace has preserved us, "kept us from falling," through another year:--that so many of us are still of one heart and of one mind in respect to His Word and its service! When we remember that the Adversary is to be permitted to bring "strong delusions" upon the Lord's people for the very purpose of sifting out all not truly His (
2 Thessalonians 2:10-12
), it should surely call forth our thanks to God that the opening of another year finds us still standing fast,--appreciating the Truth, and in full accord with all the divine appointments by which He has kept us from falling.
Ye are not your own. For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's. 1 Corinthians 6:19,20
AT the opening of the new year, what lesson could be more important to us than this one, that we are not our own, but belong to another; that we are not therefore, to seek to please ourselves, but to please Him; nor to seek to serve self, but to serve Him; nor to seek to obey self-will, but on the contrary His will? This means holiness in the most absolute and comprehensive sense of the word (not only separation from sin to righteousness, but separation from
to the will of God in Christ).
Pray without ceasing. 1 Thessalonians 5:17
WHATEVER might be our natural inclinations with reference to definiteness and persistency in prayer, we must take our instructions from the Scriptures; and overcoming our natural predilections, we must as "little children" and as "dear children" conform our views and conduct to the instruction which is from above. Let us all, therefore, remember the words, "ask (in My name), and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full."--
. The Heavenly Father has multiplied mercies, blessings and providences in store for His obedient and faithful children
who will ask for them. Z.'96-162
Wait on the Lord: be of good courage, and He shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the Lord. Psalm 27:14
TIME is an important element in all God's plans: we are not, therefore, to be disappointed when the test of endurance is applied while the blessings we crave tarry long. God took time to frame the world and to fit it for human habitation; time to give the world its necessary experience with evil; time to prepare for the advent of Christ as the world's Redeemer; time for the preparation of the Church to share in His glorious reign; and time must be allowed for the shaping and adjusting of the individual affairs of His people. God has not forgotten when the answers to our prayers seem to tarry long. He who heeds the sparrow's fall and numbers the very hairs of our heads is not indifferent to the faintest call or the smallest necessity of His humblest child.
The reproaches of them that reproached Thee fell on Me. Romans 15:3
LET us see to it that we bear the reproaches of Christ as He bore them,--with pity and prayer for the erring and depraved, if perchance God may grant them repentance; and with humble fortitude esteeming it a privilege to prove our devotion to the Lord by enduring hardness in His service as good soldiers. He was not surprised by the exhibitions of human depravity: He knew that He was in an unfriendly world bound by sin and largely under the dominion of the prince of darkness, and therefore He expected reproaches, taunts and persecutions, all of which He endured patiently while His great loving heart, almost unmindful of its own sufferings, was full of pity and loving concern for others.
So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom. Psalm 90:12
THE Christian, in numbering his days, does not do so with a doleful or disconsolate sentiment, although he does so with sobriety. He counts the days as they go as so many blessings, so many privileges, so many opportunities to "show forth the praises of Him who called us out of darkness into His marvelous light," to render assistance to others in the pilgrim journey, and to develop in himself more and more of the character pleasing in the sight of God,--to become more and more a copy of God's dear Son.
Speak evil of no man. Titus 3:2
IF once the soldiers of the cross would get the proper thought, that slander and evil speaking are assassinations of the character of another, and that defamation is robbery of another's good name, the sooner they will see this matter in its truly awful light as it must appear in the Lord's sight; and once seeing the matter from this true, divine standpoint must awaken the new creature to the greatest activity possible in the overcoming of such works of the flesh and of the devil. Each will seek to purge out the old leaven of malice and envy and strife and crookedness and evil speaking, that he may be pure in heart, a copy of the Lord.
See that none render evil for evil unto any man; but ever follow that which is good, both among yourselves, and to all men. 1 Thessalonians 5:15
ACCORDING to the Scriptural standard, the elect church of Christ should be the most polished, the most refined, the most polite, the most generous, the most kind of all the people in the world;--and should be all these in the most absolute sense; not in the mere sense of an outward form and appearance of kindness, gentleness, etc., so common in the world; but a gentleness, a kindness, proceeding from the heart, proceeding from an appreciation of the Lord's spirit and the spirit of the Truth, the spirit of love, and the spirit of justice, also.
Who maketh thee to differ from another? And what hast thou that thou didst not receive? 1 Corinthians 4:7
ALL of the Lord's consecrated people should realize that they have come into the present grace and truth, not by their own wisdom nor by the wisdom of others, but through the wisdom and grace of the Lord. The same thought should be entertained by all who serve the Church of God as ministers, servants in any department, in any manner responsible to the Lord for their position in the household of faith, and their opportunities to serve as the Lord's mouthpieces should be felt and confessed. But failure to confess it implies a failure rightly to appreciate it.
Take, my brethren, the prophets, who have spoken in the name of the Lord, for an example of suffering affliction, and of patience. James 5:10
THE right path is still the "narrow path" of
-denial--the path of meekness and humility: and it will require as much effort and grace to walk it this year as last, or possibly more; for the more we grow in grace and knowledge, the stronger will be the temptations to be boastful, puffed up, heady, high-minded; and the higher we climb in faith and hope and love and activity in the Lord's service, the more the great Adversary will oppose our progress, and the more his emissaries will slander, backbite, and generally seek to injure us.
His Word was in mine heart as a burning fire shut up in my bones, and I was weary with forbearing, and I could not stay. Jeremiah 20:9
LET us who are privileged to remain to this time of favor, blessing and enlightenment give glory to the Lord, and see to it that the loving disposition of John is manifested in us, and also his energy, his zeal; for while he is called the loving disciple we are to remember also that he was, because of his impetuous zeal, styled, with his brother, Boanerges--son of thunder. Let us be full of energy, full of sacrifices which love prompts, that we may glorify the Lord in our bodies and spirits which are His.
Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted. Galatians 6:1
LET us learn well this lesson of reproving others very gently, very considerately, kindly, by a hint rather than a direct charge and detail of the wrong-- by an inquiry respecting the
condition of their hearts rather than respecting a
condition, in which we know they have erred. We are to be less careful for the punishments that will follow wrongdoings than for the recovery of the erring one out of the error of his way. We are not to attempt to judge and punish one another for misdeeds, but rather to remember that all this is in the hands of the Lord;--we are not in any sense of the word to avenge ourselves or to give chastisement or recompense for evil.
My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. 1 John 2:1
IF we find that through lack of faith or weakness of the flesh a wrong step has been taken, contrary to the Lord's will and our best spiritual interests, no time should be lost in retracing the steps and in calling upon the Lord. We have an altar consecrated with the precious blood of Christ, far superior every way to that which Abraham consecrated with the blood of typical animals, and the apostle exhorts us, "Let us come boldly [courageously--full of faith] to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in every time of need."--
Hebrews 4:16 Z.'01-233
I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air. 1 Corinthians 9:26
IT will be found a great help to the weaknesses of the fallen nature to have understandingly made a full consecration of the will,--a full enlistment of every power and talent of mind and of body. He who takes this proper view of his consecration to the Lord and enlistment in the Lord's army, realizes that he has nothing more to give to the Lord, and hence, whatever struggle of the will he may have is all ended when he has finally decided--"As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord." How important it is, therefore, that all the soldiers realize that the term of the enlistment is until death, and that there is no room for even considering any suggestion to withdraw from the battle and cease even for an hour to fight the good fight of faith.
What doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God? Micah 6:8
THAT these are very reasonable requirements will be conceded by all. That God could not require less from those whom He is educating for the future judging of the world, is evident: and yet, all three of these qualities specified through the prophet, are comprehended in the one word Love. Love requires that we shall deal justly with our neighbors, with the brethren, with our families, with ourselves; that we shall seek to cultivate our appreciation of the rights of others,--their physical rights, their moral and intellectual rights, their liberties; and that, appreciating these, we shall in no sense of the word seek to abridge or deny them.
Instant in prayer. Romans 12:12
WHAT a blessed privilege, dear fellow-disciples of the Lord, is ours, to be instant in prayer, to pray always-- to lift up our hearts and minds to God at any time and in any place and to realize thus daily and hourly that the Father and our dear Lord Jesus continually abide with us. And then, when the active duties of the day have been performed under His eye and supervision, or at any time when the soul realizes its necessity, how precious is the privilege of entering into our closets and there, alone with God, unburdening our hearts.
Keep yourselves in the love of God. Jude 21
WE may daily and hourly keep ourselves in the Lord's love by obedience to, and a growing love for, the principles of righteousness. And we are to rejoice in every experience of life,--its trials, difficulties, sorrows, disappointments, etc., no less than in its pleasures, if by any or all of these means the Lord shall instruct us and give us clearer insight into our own deficiencies, and a still clearer insight into that perfect law of liberty and love which He has established, and to which He requires our full and loyal heart-submission.
Not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord. Romans 12:11
LET all who would run the race successfully look well to their zeal and activity in the Lord's work. If we bury our one or many talents under a weight of worldly cares and encumbrances which might be avoided or set aside; if we bury them under worldly ambitions for either self or family--whether this be by wasting consecrated time upon science, philosophy, music or art, or upon business, politics or pleasures, or in pampering pride and appetite--then as unfaithful servants we will sooner or later go into outer darkness.
O how love I Thy law! it is my meditation all the day. Psalm 119:97
IT is a great privilege for Christians to study the Lord's Word, yet a great deal of study is done to no purpose. Study which is not put into
is worse than a waste of time....Every reasonable opportunity should be used by the Lord's people to obtain a knowledge of the divine plan--even to the extent of sacrificing; but the child of the Lord will be particular to see that it is his
conveniences and comforts that he is sacrificing, and not chiefly the conveniences and comforts of others. The Bible study which is done merely at the expense of others is a sign of selfishness rather than a sign of a rich indwelling of the Lord's spirit of love.
If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the Father chasteneth not? Hebrews 12:7
CHARACTER cannot be developed wholly without trial. It is like a plant: at first it is very tender; it needs an abundance of the sunshine of God's love; frequent watering with the showers of His grace; much cultivating through the applied knowledge of His character as a good foundation for faith and inspiration to obedience; and then when thus developed under these favorable conditions, it is ready for the pruning hand of discipline, and is also able to endure some hardness. And, little by little, as strength of character is developed, the tests applied to it serve only to develop more strength, beauty and grace, until it is finally fixed, developed, established, perfected --through suffering.
If any man will come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. Matthew 16:24
CROSS-BEARING is closely related to self-denial, and yet a distinction between them may be noted. Self-denial relates more particularly to passive obedience and endurance for the Lord's sake; cross-bearing has to do more especially with activities in the Lord's service, which we find to be contrary to our natural inclinations. Faithfulness in self-denial means courage and zeal; cross-bearing means victory, overcoming. Our self-denials may be victories in our own hearts, of which others may know nothing, and of which they should know nothing, if we desire to have the fullness of the Lord's blessing. Our cross-bearing, however, may be seen to some extent at least, by those who are in close contact with us, and especially by those who are walking in the same "narrow way."
Be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart, all ye that hope in the Lord. Psalm 31:24
IT would seem as though the Adversary at times attempted to discourage us by making us think that the trials and difficulties of the "narrow way" of sacrifice will be unavailing anyhow, and that we might as well give up....And what course should we pursue at such a time? We should follow the example of our Lord, and seek the Father's face, anxious to know whether or not our interests are all right with Him; anxious for some assurances that while the world may hate us, and say all manner of evil against us falsely, we still have His approval; anxious for some fresh assurance that it will be well with us, that the Lord will grant us a part in the better resurrection to life eternal.
Brethren, let every man, wherein he is called, therein abide with God. 1 Corinthians 7:24
DUTIES may at times seem to conflict, but they do not really do so. A Christian's first duty is his hearty acknowledgment of his Creator and Lord, in all his ways. His second duty, if he be a husband and father, is toward his wife and children; or if she be a wife and mother, it is toward her husband and children.... The marriage contract, by divine arrangement, comes in as a first mortgage upon every husband's time and upon every wife's time--the demands of this mortgage must be reasonably met before anything can be properly done to or for outsiders.
Let not mercy and truth forsake thee: bind them about thy neck; write them upon the table of thine heart. Proverbs 3:3
WHILE justice is the first feature of the commandment of love, it is not the end of its requirements: it requires that, going beyond strict justice, our love shall prompt us to the exercise of mercy and forgiveness. And in thus exercising mercy we are again but copying divine love....Hence, in our dealings with others who, like ourselves, are fallen and imperfect, we are to remember this feature and not only be just toward them but, additionally, to be merciful, generous, kind, even to the unthankful,--that thus we may be children of our Father in heaven.
Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Matthew 6:34
OUR Lord assures us that if the main thought of our hearts is His service and the promotion of righteousness and an attainment of the Kingdom which God has promised to them that love Him, then we need carry no anxious cares respecting the future. As His disciples we will have trials and tribulations enough, day by day, and will need daily to lean upon the Bridegroom's arm as we seek to walk the narrow way. Sufficient for each day will be the evil of itself: and thanks be to God also, we have the promise that daily His grace shall be sufficient for us.
When ye fast, be not, as the hypocrites, of a sad countenance. Matthew 6:16
FASTING is specially commendable to the Lord's people at times when they find themselves lacking in spirituality and exposed to severe temptations from the world, the flesh and the devil; for by impoverishing the physical force and vitality, it may assist the full-blooded and impulsive to self-control in every direction. We believe that a majority of Christians would be helped by occasional fasting--a very plain diet for a season, if not total abstinence. But fastings, to be seen and known of men or to be conjured up in our own minds as marks of piety on our part, would be injurious indeed, and lead to spiritual pride and hypocrisy, which would far outweigh their advantages to us in the way of self-restraint.
Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life. Proverbs 4:23
IT is not sufficient that we acknowledge sin in its various forms to be evil, and that we resolve that we will strive against it because it is under the Lord's ban. In addition to this we are to root out of our hearts every
for everything not thoroughly approved by the Lord. Oh, what a cleansing this would mean in the hearts and lives, and especially in the thoughts, of many who have named the name of Christ! Many who fail to note this point find themselves continually beset by temptations, because, while outwardly avoiding gross immoralities, they secretly harbor sympathies for things condemned --
that they might have them, if only they were not forbidden.
He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before My Father, and before His angels. Revelation 3:5
THE faithful overcomers watch and keep their garments unspotted from the world...."They have not defiled their garments," they have "kept their garments unspotted from the world." They have not been willing to permit sin to contaminate them and to separate them from the Lord, but have quickly applied for and obtained the precious blood to remove every stain. They are so heartily opposed to sin and so earnest about the keeping of this garment unspotted that the Adversary gets no hold upon them--"the wicked one catcheth them not." All this indicates a full submission of their wills to the will of Christ-- they are "dead with Him," and hence could not willingly practice sin.
The fear [reverence] of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. Psalm 111:10
THIS is the only proper attitude of the creature toward the Creator, the Author of our being, and the Creator, Preserver and Lord of the whole universe. When He speaks, therefore, our ears should be reverently attentive to His voice, and every power alert to do His bidding. Our safety, our happiness, and that nobility of character which prompts to love and gratitude, and which promptly and wisely heeds instruction and advances in knowledge and wisdom, all depend primarily upon our supreme reverence for the Lord. And therefore the Lord would foster and cultivate in us that becoming, filial reverence that is due to His name.
Jesus spake a parable unto them to this end, that men ought always to pray, and not to faint. Luke 18:1
IN coming to God we need have no fear that He is too busy with other matters of greater importance, or that He is weary of our coming to Him repeatedly with things of small importance. It was to assure us against this very thing that our Lord spoke the parable of the importunate widow, who was heard and answered on account of her importunity. In so doing we evince both the earnestness of our desires and our faith that our prayers will be answered, if we faint not from lack of faith or zeal when the answer is delayed, as often it must necessarily be, since time is an important element in all God's work.
The meek will He guide in judgment; and the meek will He teach His way. Psalm 25:9
SUCH a disposition is essential to those who would receive the wisdom which cometh from above. They must have a humble appreciation of their own deficiencies and lack of wisdom, else they cannot receive freely, heartily, the wisdom which God is pleased to grant in the present time only to those who are in the attitude of heart to receive it. And it will be seen also that this humility of mind is essential as a basis for the spirit of a sound mind--for who is in a proper condition to think justly, reasonably, impartially, except first of all he have a humble disposition? Hence we must agree that humility is a primary element in the disposition or mind of Christ.