Studies in the Scriptures
Zion's Watch Tower
I will take heed to my ways, that I sin not with my tongue: I will keep my mouth with a bridle while the wicked is before me. Psalm 39:1
PROBABLY every person of experience will fully agree with the statement that the tongue is potent in its influence beyond any other member of the body, for either good or evil. Experience teaches also that with the vast majority it is easier to control any other organ than the tongue. So skillful a servant is it that every ambition and passion and inclination of the fallen nature seeks to use it as a servant or channel for evil. It requires, therefore, on the part of the Christian, increased vigilance, wisdom and care so as to govern this member of his body and bring it into subjection to the new mind in Christ, that it shall be, not a hindrance to himself or to others, but, on the contrary, a help in the narrow way.
Forgetting those things which are behind. Philippians 3:13
WE forget the things that are behind, because it is right that we should do so. Because God forgets them, and declares that He has cast all of our imperfections behind His back; that our imperfections are all covered from His sight, by the merit of Him who loved us and who died for us, and whom we love, and in whom we are trusting, and in whose steps we are seeking to walk with more or less imperfection according to the defects we have inherited in the flesh. We are not meaning to suggest that slips or failures should be lightly esteemed or quickly forgotten; they should be rectified to the extent of our ability, and divine forgiveness should be sought for these defects daily.
Great peace have they which love Thy law; and nothing shall offend them. Psalm 119:165
OUR requests should be, increasingly, for grace and wisdom and the fruits of the Spirit and opportunities for serving the Lord and the brethren, and for growing more and more into the likeness of God's dear Son. Under these conditions who can doubt that the promised "peace of God beyond all understanding" would "guard" such "hearts" and their "thoughts?" This peace would of itself dispel one of the great evils that afflict the hearts of many. Selfishness and ambition would find little room in a heart so filled. Divine peace can dwell in our hearts, and rule in them, so as to keep out the worry and turmoil of the world, even when we are surrounded by these disadvantageous conditions--even when the adversary himself is besetting us through deceived agents.
Jesus saith unto them, Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men. Matthew 4:19
ALL of life's affairs will teach us lessons profitable throughout its future, if we will receive them. Perhaps there was something peculiarly helpful in the fishing business--something peculiarly like the great work in which the apostles were to engage the remainder of their lives. Our Lord intimates this in His call. Fishing requires energy, tact, proper bait and that the fisherman keep himself out of sight. And these four things are requisites in the spiritual fishing in which the Lord privileges us to engage. We are to remember that as fish are easily alarmed when they find that any one wishes to take them, so humanity is shy of being captured by anything--especially if they have the least suspicion that they may lose their liberties: and thus consecration appears to the world.
Consider Him who endured such contradiction of sinners against Himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds. Hebrews 12:3
ALAS, how many of God's true children become weary and faint in their minds, and are in danger of losing the chief prize because they have failed to think upon, to study out, to comprehend, to
the Lord and what He faithfully endured of opposition. As they would
His perfection and how, as represented in Him, the light shined in darkness and was not appreciated, so they would expect that the light shining from them would not be appreciated either. As they would
how the Lord suffered in every sense unjustly and for righteousness' sake, and then would reflect that their own conduct, even though well meant, is imperfect, it would strengthen them to endure hardness as good soldiers, and not to be weary in well doing, and not to faint under opposition.
Ye know not what manner of spirit ye are of: the Son of man came not to destroy men's lives but to save them. Luke 9:55,56
SO with all of the Lord's disciples: their continual study should be to avoid that hypercritical disposition to sentence and to destroy other people while desiring mercy for themselves. The rule which the Lord establishes is that we must expect from Him mercy only in proportion as we shall exercise this grace toward others....The fault-finding disposition that is ready to accuse and condemn everybody, indicates a wrong condition of heart--one which all the Lord's people should be on guard against....Mercy, goodness, love, are the elements of character which He desires to see in the spiritual Israelites, and without which we cannot long continue to be His children.
Every one that heareth these sayings of Mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand. Matthew 7:26
THE hopes built upon the Lord's promises and unaccompanied by works are hopes built upon the sand. It is only a question of time until the great testing time shall come and such hopes will be shown to be worse than useless. They will be shown to have deceived their possessor, who thought himself safe in his assurances of a share in the Kingdom....On the contrary, those who build with obedience, their hearts as well as their tongues confessing and honoring the Lord, their deeds corroborating their faith, and their fruits bearing testimony of their vital relationship with the Lord--these shall pass through all the storms of life and shall never be moved, never be shaken, because they are on the foundation.
Be not deceived,...he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting. Galatians 6:7,8
WE sow to the flesh every time we allow the fleshly, selfish, unjust, unrighteous desires of the flesh to have sway in our hearts and lives, and each sowing makes easier the additional sowing and makes more sure the end of that way which is death--Second Death. On the contrary, each sowing to the Spirit, each resistance to the desires of the flesh toward selfishness, etc., and each exercise of the new mind, of the new will, in spiritual directions toward the things that are pure, the things that are noble, the things that are good, the things that are true, is a sowing to the Spirit, which will bring forth additional fruits of the Spirit, graces of the Spirit, and which, if persevered in, will ultimately bring us in accord with the Lord's gracious promises and arrangements--everlasting life and the Kingdom.
Why are ye fearful, O ye of little faith? Matthew 8:26
EACH experience should be helpful to us. If at first we were fearful and cried aloud, by and by we received the succor, with perhaps the reprimand, "O thou of little faith!" but as lesson after lesson has come to us, the Master will expect--and we should expect of ourselves--greater faith, greater trust, greater peace, greater joy in the Lord, greater confidence in His presence with us and His care over us, and in His power to deliver us from the adversary and from every evil thing, and to bring us eventually in safety to the port we seek--the heavenly Kingdom.
Ye have put off the old man with his deeds, and have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of Him that created him. Colossians 3:9,10
ONLY in our minds, in our wills, have the old things passed away and all things become new. Actually, this change will be accomplished when this mortal shall have put on immortality, when this corruptible shall be raised in incorruption--raised in glory, in power, spirit beings. But meantime, in order to be counted worthy of a share in the First Resurrection, it is required of us that we shall demonstrate our willingness of mind, our earnest desire to be all that the Lord would have us be; and in no way can this be better demonstrated to the Lord and to ourselves, or prove more helpful, than by keeping a strict surveillance of our hearts and of our thoughts.
Be ye clean, that bear the vessels of the Lord. Isaiah 52:11
THE divine method seems to be to make a clear separation between the servants of God and the servants of evil. The privilege of testifying for God or being ambassadors for the Truth is a favor reserved for the Lord's own people. He seeketh not the evil one nor the fallen demons nor evil men or women to be heralds of the good tidings. The Lord's people should note this matter carefully, and resent the services of any who do not give evidence of being in heart-union with the Lord. "Unto the wicked God saith, What hast thou to do to take My covenant into thy mouth? Seeing thou hatest instruction, and casteth My words behind thee."--
Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow. Matthew 6:28
OUR Lord calls attention to how such simple things in nature should be studied, be
. The lessons to be learned in connection with all the affairs of life will be helpful to such as approach the study from the right standpoint, of faith in the Creator, and a realization that He is necessarily the embodiment and representative of the very highest and very noblest qualities of which the human mind could conceive;-- that He is perfect in Justice, perfect in Wisdom, perfect in Power, perfect in Love....The heart that thus
makes progress, grows in grace, in knowledge, in love. The heart that fails to
the little things fails to be able to appreciate the larger things, and thus is hindered from a proper consideration of God and from a proper appreciation of His plan, and thus from a proper appreciation of His character.
I will show thee my faith by my works. James 2:18
WHILE the Lord's people of the present age are not to be judged by their works but by their faith, nevertheless, works will be required. By our works we demonstrate our faith, and, thank God, imperfect works can demonstrate to Him the loyalty of our intentions, our wills....If our works demonstrate to the Lord the sincerity of our faith, that faith will be acceptable to Him and we will be counted perfect and be granted a share in the Kingdom, and all the great and precious things which the Lord has in reservation for those who love Him--not merely in word but also in deed--for those who strive by the deeds of life to show forth, to demonstrate, their love.
To do justice and judgment is more acceptable to the Lord than sacrifice. Proverbs 21:3
WE are to grow in love, and love is the principal thing; but before we can make much development in the cultivation of love, we must learn to be just, right, righteous....It is a proper presentation of the matter that is given in the proverb, that a man should be just before he is generous. It behooves the Lord's people, therefore, the New Creation, that they study this subject of justice continually and daily put into practice the lessons inculcated in the divine Word.... Such as get this proper foundation of character before they begin to build love will find that they are making progress properly. All love that is founded upon injustice or wrong ideas of righteousness is delusive, is not the love which the Lord will require as the test of discipleship.
Have faith in God. Mark 11:22
OUR daily experiences since we became the Lord's followers have been guided and guarded apparently by the power unseen, to the intent that as pupils in the school of Christ, we may all be taught of Him and develop more and more of the graces of the Spirit, and particularly more faith. How important this item of faith is we probably cannot fully appreciate now. It seems to be the one thing that the Lord specially seeks for in those now called to be followers. ...So according to our faith will we be able to rejoice even in tribulation. We cannot enjoy the sufferings; we can enjoy the thought which faith attaches to them, namely, that these are but light afflictions working out for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.
He maketh the storm a calm. Psalm 107:29
WE of today represent the Lord's cause in the midst of the raging elements of human passions, oppositions, etc.,...and our hearts would be at times dismayed except as faith is able to see the Lord with us in the ship, and able to grasp the thought of His mighty power in His own time and way to speak peace to the world....It must not surprise us, however, if a dark hour is before us--if the time shall come when the stormy winds will be so fierce that many will cry out in fear and trembling. Let us learn well the precious experiences of the present time, so that then our faith shall not fail us--so that in the darkest hour we shall be able to sing and to rejoice in Him who loved us and bought us with His own precious blood, and to sing the song of Moses and the Lamb.
He shall cover thee with His feathers, and under His wings shalt thou trust. Psalm 91:4
SO close to His heart does Jehovah gather His loyal and faithful children that they feel the warmth of His love, and the responsive language of their hearts is, "I will abide in Thy tabernacle"--under Thy protection-- "forever:" "I will trust in the covert of Thy wings; for Thou hast been a shelter for me and a strong tower from the enemy; for Thou hast heard my vows"-- my consecration--"Thou hast given me the heritage of those that fear Thy name."
"I will sing of Thy power: yea, I will sing aloud of Thy mercy in the morning: for Thou hast been my defense and refuge in the day of my trouble."--
He that is slothful in his work is brother to him that is a great waster. Proverbs 18:9
WE cannot see wastefulness in any of the Lord's consecrated people without feeling that, however great progress they have made in understanding the mind of the Lord in some respects, they are still deficient in this particular. An appreciation of the gift and respect for the Giver implies carefulness and a stewardship in respect to all that comes to us from our heavenly Father--things temporal and things spiritual. According to our Lord's parables He is measuring our love and zeal in a considerable degree by our use or abuse of the talents, opportunities, blessings, temporal and spiritual, now bestowed upon us.
Freely ye have received, freely give. Matthew 10:8
LET us be on the alert to give to all who are hungering and thirsting the blessed food which has so greatly refreshed and strengthened us. If they do not get it they will faint by the way as they go looking for other provisions. We have the very thing which all of the household of faith need; without it they cannot maintain their standing, they cannot press on, they shall surely become discouraged....Whatever we may have of financial means for sending forth the bread of life to others, or whatever we may have of knowledge of the Truth, is neither to be selfishly hoarded nor selfishly partaken of by ourselves. It is to be consecrated to the Lord, and out of that consecration the Lord will bring blessing to others and increased blessings upon our own heads and hearts.
Be ye wise as serpents, and harmless as doves. Matthew 10:16
OH, that all of the Lord's dear people could learn the value of wisdom in connection with their endeavors to serve the Truth! Our Lord not only taught us to be wise as serpents and harmless as doves, but He exemplified this lesson in His own course, saying on another occasion to the apostles, "I have many things to tell you, but ye cannot bear them now." We, too, should learn that there are opportune and inopportune times for mentioning certain truths, and that there are wise and unwise methods of presenting them. It is not enough that we do not speak untruths; it is not enough that we speak the truth; additonally we should see to it that we speak the truth in love, and love that is trained uses wisdom that it may accomplish more good.
Our Father which art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name. Luke 11:2
THIS expresses adoration, appreciation of divine goodness and greatness, and a corresponding reverence. In addressing our petition to the Lord our first thought is to be, not a selfish one respecting ourselves, nor a thought respecting the interests of others precious to us, but God is to be first in all of our thoughts and aims and calculations. We are to pray for nothing that would not be in accord with the honor of our heavenly Father's name; we are to wish for nothing for ourselves, or for our dear ones, that He would not fully approve and commission us to pray for. Perhaps no quality of heart is in greater danger of being blotted out amongst professing Christians than this thought of reverence for God.
Are ye able to drink of the cup that I shall drink of? Matthew 20:22
THE courage of our Lord in the narrow way fills us with admiration. What a strong character was His! He had no thought of turning back; He was intent upon accomplishing His Father's will--upon sacrificing Himself in the interest of others. A noble pattern the apostles saw before them--greatness in humility, victory through service. It is well that we should have clearly before our minds that unless we partake of His cup and are immersed into His death, we can have no share in His Kingdom of glory. Let us then count all things else as loss and dross to obtain this necessary experience. As it comes to us let us not be fearful, nor think strange of the fiery trials that shall try us, as though some strange thing had happened unto us. On the contrary, even hereunto were we called, that we might now suffer with the Lord and by and by be glorified together with Him.
Whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant. Matthew 20:27
AMONGST the Gentiles the rulers are lords, who do no serving but are served, but among the followers of Jesus the rule is to be reversed; he who would serve most was to be esteemed most highly. What a beauty there is in the divine order of things! How thoroughly all who are right minded can sympathize with the principles here laid down! How reasonable they are and how contrary to the spirit of the world. Truly, the Lord's followers will in this sense of the word be a peculiar people in their zeal for good works --for serving one another and for doing good unto all men as they have opportunity.
And as they led Him away, they laid hold upon one Simon,...and on him they laid the cross, that he might bear it after Jesus. Luke 23:26
WE HAVE often wondered, where were Peter and John and James that they did not see the Master's burden and run to proffer assistance? If disposed to envy Simon his privilege of assisting the Master in the bearing of the cross, let us reflect that many of the Lord's brethren are daily bearing symbolic crosses, and that it is our privilege to assist them, and that the Lord agrees to reckon any service done to His faithful followers as though it were rendered to His own person....As the wooden cross was not our Lord's heaviest burden, so, too, His followers have crosses which the world sees not, but which the "brethren" should understand. "Bear ye one another's burdens and thus fulfill the law of Christ."
Deal courageously, and the Lord shall be with the good. 2 Chronicles 19:11
WHOEVER has a duty to perform let him not fear, and while seeking to do unpleasant tasks in a kindly manner, both justly and lovingly, let us fear not man, but rather fear the Lord and be intent on pleasing Him. Let the world fight its fight: the Lord will supervise and the results will be glorious eventually. Let us who belong to the new nation, to the new Kingdom that is not of this world, use no carnal weapons, but the sword of the Spirit--let us fight the good fight of faith, lay hold upon the glorious things set before us, and not only stand ourselves, but help all those begotten of the same Spirit and members of the same heavenly army corps to stand, complete in Him who is the Head of the body, the Captain of our Salvation.
Casting all your care upon Him; for He careth for you. 1 Peter 5:7
THIS is a very consoling and encouraging suggestion from the Word. However, the Lord's people are to learn more and more distinctly, as their years of membership in God's family and tutelage in the school of Christ go on, that they are not to ask the Lord to guide their efforts according to their wisdom; that they are not to request that their wills shall be done either on earth or in heaven, but rather, telling the Lord their burdens, great and small, they are to realize and appropriate to themselves His sympathy and love, and to apply to their own hearts as a balm the consoling assurances of His Word, that He is both able and willing to make all of their experiences profitable to them if they abide in Him with confidence and trust.
My times are in Thy hand. Psalm 31:15
ALL of the Lord's consecrated servants devoted their lives to sacrifice when they became followers of the Lamb, and if they could but realize their consecration continually, they would be ready for the sonsummation at any moment at the Lord's pleasure and by whatever means or channel His providences may permit. The Lord's consecrated ones of the Elijah class are to remember that not a hair of their heads could fall without their Father's knowledge and permission, and the attitude of their hearts should be that expressed by our dear Redeemer--the Head of the Elijah body--"The cup which My Father hath poured for me, shall I not drink it?" The language of their hearts should be that expressed by the poet: "Content whatever lot I see, Since 'tis my God that leadeth me."
The Spirit of the Lord God is upon Me; because the LORD hath anointed Me,...to comfort all that mourn, ...to give them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning. Isaiah 61:1,2
OUR commission is to seek out the meek and the mourning ones, who have appreciated their own shortcomings and weaknesses, and who are looking for refuge and deliverance. It is part of our commission to point them to the Lamb of God, who taketh away the sin of the world, to point them to the beauty of the resurrection for the ashes of death, and the glories which the Lord has promised by and by to take the place of the spirit of heaviness and disappointment and sorrow and trouble of this present time. It is our commission to tell such that "Joy cometh in the morning," and to assist them to arise and at once put on the garments of praise, and to begin to walk in newness of life, with a "new song in their mouths-- even the lovingkindness of our God."
We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed; always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus. 2 Corinthians 4:8-10
THOSE who joyfully endure for the Lord's sake, the Truth's sake, the greatest shame, the greatest ignominy, the greatest trials, the greatest persecutions in this present life, and thus have experiences most like those of the Master and Pattern, we may be sure will in proportion to their faithfulness manifested in such sacrifices, have a future great reward;--as the apostle has decared, "star differeth from star in glory."
No man can serve two masters. Matthew 6:24
"YE cannot serve God and Mammon." Experience and observation corroborate this; and hence as a rule we find that people are either cold or hot in spiritual things...We are to "seek first (chiefly) the Kingdom of God." It is to be our chief concern and to receive from us all the time, attention, thought, energy, influence and means we have--the things
for the present life being understood to be excepted; and our love and zeal will be manifested by the proportion of even these which we are willing to sacrifice in the interest of heavenly things.
Because Thy lovingkindness [favor] is better than life, my lips shall praise Thee. Psalm 63:3
THOSE who have tasted of the Lord's grace, those who have come to realize His favor as
better than life
, and who have joyfully laid upon His altar every earthly good thing, and hope and ambition, rejoice to tell the good tidings to others; they rejoice to tell forth the praises of Him who called them out of darkness into His marvelous light. The message is too good to keep; they not only do not require to be hired to tell it, but they are willing that the telling of it, and the enjoying of God's favor in connection with the telling, shall cost them something--cost them trouble, cost them money, cost them the loss of earthly friendship, cost the straining, if not the breaking, of some home ties, cost them the frown of the world and of churchianity.