Studies in the Scriptures
Zion's Watch Tower
He that hath My commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth Me: and he that loveth Me shall be loved of My Father, and I will love him, and will manifest Myself to him. John 14:21
MAY this intimate communion and fellowship with Christ impart to us each more and more of His own Spirit, so that the world may take knowledge of us, that we have "been with Jesus;" and let the prayer of each be, "Lord Jesus, make Thyself to me A living, bright reality! More real to faith's vision keen, Than any earthly object seen; More dear, more intimately nigh, Than e'en the sweetest earthly tie."
I am determined not to know anything among you, save Jesus Christ, and Him crucified. 1 Cor. 2:2
OUR observation of those consecrated ones who have permitted other themes than "this gospel" to engross time and attention leads us to advise such to be very jealous in husbanding time and talent for the ministry of the gospel, leaving all other subjects, however interesting, to others now, and to the future life for ourselves, when all knowledge shall be ours. Those who for any avoidable cause turn aside from the ministry of the true and only gospel, we have invariably observed, are quickly turned out of the way or greatly hindered in their course toward "the prize of our high calling."
The heavens declare the glory of God, and the firmament showeth His handiwork. Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night showeth knowledge. There is no speech, there are no words, their voice is not heard; but their melody extendeth through all the earth, and to the end of the world their words. Psalm 19:1-4
THE magnificent pageantry of the heavens daily and nightly should elicit our praise and adoration, and should inspire in our hearts holy and reverent devotion. Let the noiseless activity, the perfect obedience to divine law, and the blessed shining of the heavenly hosts, impress their wholesome lessons upon us--of zealous activity without commotion or ostentation; of perfect obedience to the will of Him who doeth all things well, who is too wise to err and too good to be unkind; and of letting the glory of the Lord which has illuminated us shine from us in turn upon every beholder.
That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honor and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ. 1 Peter 1:7
IT is your faith that is on trial now. In the calmer days, when the sun of favor shone brightly upon you, you were quietly laying the foundation of a knowledge of the Truth, and rearing the superstructure of Christian character. Now you are in the furnace to be proved: summon therefore all your courage; fortify your patience; nerve yourself to endurance; hold fast to your hope; call to mind the promises, they are still yours; and "cast not away your confidence, which hath great recompense of reward." "In quietness and confidence shall be your strength." "Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for Him," and faith has gained her victory.
In Thee, O Lord, do I put my trust. Psalm 31:1
THERE is nothing that puts the Christian at greater disadvantage in the presence of his foes than for him to let go, even temporarily, his grip upon the anchor of faith. Let him do so for a moment, and of necessity darkness begins to gather round him: he cannot see the brightness of his Father's face, for "without faith it is impossible to please God;" and while he grapples again for the anchor, the powers of darkness fiercely assail him with doubts and fears, based generally upon his human imperfections, which he should ever bear in mind are covered by the robe of Christ's righteousness. If we would have the peace of God reign in our hearts, we must never let go our anchor, "nor suffer Satan's deadliest strife to beat our courage down." The language of our hearts should always be, "Though he slay me, yet will I trust Him."
Take heed to yourselves, lest at any time your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting, and drunkenness, and cares of this life. Luke 21:34
WHAT a work we realize to be before us, and what necessity for sobriety, vigilance, steadfastness! It is a life work, a life battle against a mighty foe entrenched in our flesh. The powers without are strong indeed, but the civil war within is by far the most to be dreaded. If we become in any measure intoxicated with the spirit of the world;--if we give way to self-gratification, love of ease, pleasure, a little indulgence of any of the old dispositions of envy, malice, pride, vain-glory, vaunting of self, headiness, highmindedness, wrath, strife, or any such thing--even a little, Oh, how great is the peril to which we are exposed!
The God of all grace, who hath called us unto His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you. 1 Peter 5:10
IT is only through endurance of hardness as good soldiers of Christ that this desirable condition can be attained--viz., perfect self-control and ability to resist evil, established faith, patience and virtue, settled, abiding rest in Christ, and hope through His word of promise. This undoubtedly was the apostle's own experience as he grew old in the Master's service, and so may it be ours. Let each departing year find us nearer the glorious summit of perfection!
He which converteth the sinner from the error of his way shall save a soul from death, and shall hide a multitude of sins. James 5:20
WHEN we see others walking in forbidden paths, in the way of transgressors, we are not to follow them there in order to help them out; but to show them the right path by keeping in it and calling to them. When we see some confusing themselves with doctrines and teachings of men, which we know are
wrong, we are not to wade through those doctrines in order to help them out; but we are to remind them that the study of any doctrine which will not square with the
is not only a misuse of consecrated time, but that all trifling with that which we know to be error is wrong and dangerous, as all violations of conscience and principle are dangerous.
In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world. John 16:33
THERE was no reward of earthly prosperity for the Lord's faithfulness, but the reverse--privation and persecution were realized, even unto death....He was a "man of sorrows and acquainted with grief;" the reproaches of them that reproached God fell upon Him; though He was rich, for our sakes He became poor; so poor that He said, "The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man hath not where to lay His head."...And the servant is not above his Lord: if they have persecuted Him they will persecute us also; and the reproaches of them that reproached Him will also fall upon us. The only present reward for which the followers of Christ may look is the heartfelt manifestation of the Lord's love and approval.
Lord, teach us to pray. Luke 11:1
IN brief, our prayers, to be acceptable to God, must express confident faith, loving esteem and reverence, full sympathy with the divine plan and submission to the divine will, childlike dependence upon God, acknowledgment of sins and shortcomings and desire for forgiveness, with humble craving for the divine guidance and protection. These may not always all be expressed in words, but such must at least be the attitude of the soul.
"Prayer is the soul's sincere desire, uttered or unexpressed."
Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended. Phil. 3:13
IF any man consider that he has attained a satisfactory spiritual state, from that moment he may date the beginning of his spiritual decline. No present attainments can be satisfactory to a sincere follower of Christ who studiously endeavors to copy the perfect pattern. It is only when we turn our eyes away from Christ that self-complacency can be exercised; for in full view of the pattern our shortcomings are ever manifest. And if in pride of heart we do lose sight of them ourselves, they only become the more manifest to others. Only in the realization of a continual growth into the likeness of Christ should the Christian find satisfaction.
This one thing I do. Philippians 3:13
WE observe the Apostle's singleness of purpose-- "This
I do." He did not try to do several things: if he had, he would surely have failed. He devoted his life to the one purpose to which he was called, and to that end dropped every other aim in life. He did it, too, in view of the fact that all through the present life his chosen course would bring certain loss, privation, toil, care, persecution and continual reproach. In this singleness of purpose he was relieved of many temptations to turn aside to enjoy some of the good things of this present life, or to pursue some of its illusive bubbles.
I shall be satisfied, when I awake, with Thy likeness. Psalm 17:15
"Now let our thoughts on wings sublime Rise from the trivial cares of time, Draw back the parting veil, and see The glories of eternity."
LET thoughts of God and Christ and the worthy saints of the past and present, of the heavenly inheritance, of the blessedness of our future work in co-operation with Christ, of the magnitude and benevolence of the divine plan, and of the glory and blessedness of our gathering together unto Christ when our work of the present life is finished, fill our minds and inspire our hearts. And to these contemplations let us also receive the additional comfort and blessedness of personal communion and fellowship with God through prayer and study of the Word and the assembling of ourselves together for worship and praise.
God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble. 1 Peter 5:5
ABOVE almost everything else, beloved, let us guard well our humility. It is only when we are little in our own eyes that God can use us with safety to ourselves. And yet He does not shield us from every test of fidelity. If therefore the Lord give you a little exaltation today, a little encouragement of success in His service, receive it humbly, meekly, remembering your own unworthiness and insufficiency except as God is pleased to work through you; and be just as ready to receive the humiliations of tomorrow as necessary for your discipline and the proper balancing of your character. If the success of yesterday make you fret under the humiliation of today, beware! You are not as roundly developed spiritually as you should be.
And I will make an everlasting covenant with you, even the sure mercies of David. Isaiah 55:3
ALL who hunger and thirst after righteousness, whose souls thirst after God as the hart for the water-brook, and who, having found Him, have consecrated themselves to Him and received the anointing of the Holy Spirit, witnessing with their spirits that they are the sons of God, and who as anointed sons can discover in themselves the worthy traits of true sons,-- loyalty, faithfulness, zeal, energy, courage, discretion, etc.,--these constitute the class with whom the Lord has made an everlasting covenant and to whom belong "the sure mercies of David."
No chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby. Hebrews 12:11
IT is under such discipline that the soul is mellowed to a loving submission that calmly says, I can do all things, bear all things, through Christ who strengtheneth me. As gradually the dross of the old nature is consumed, and the gold becomes more and more manifest, these precious souls become ever dearer to their loving Lord. So dear are they to Him that in every affliction He is near with His grace to sustain and His presence to cheer; and the deepest shades of sorrow become memory's most hallowed resting places, where the Day Star shines the brightest.
Who may abide the day of His coming? and who shall stand when He appeareth? for He is like a refiner's fire,...and He shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver. Malachi 3:2,3
THE Great Refiner is watching to see how the precious metal of your character reflects His image. Or, in plain language, in every trial He watches to see what influences control our actions, whether they be influences of present advantage, or worldly policy, or personal friendship, or earthly loves--of husband, or wife, or children, or love of ease, or love of peace at any cost; or whether, on the other hand, we are controlled by the naked principles of truth and righteousness; and whether we will defend these principles with zeal and energy at any cost of labor or suffering, or both, and so fight the good fight of faith to the bitter end-- even unto death.
In Thy presence is fullness of joy; at Thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore. Psalm 16:11
IN the Lord's presence, no matter where we are, is fullness of joy. Let us cultivate the Lord's acquaintance more, drawing near to Him in prayer, in the study of His precious Word, in meditation upon all His goodness, His providential care, the marked manifestations of His grace in our own individual experiences, and His precious promises which are all yea and amen in Christ Jesus. Thus "draw nigh to God, and He will draw nigh to you" (
); He will manifest Himself to you and take up His abode with you. It is indeed the will of God that all His children should be happy in Him, that they should be always rejoicing; and if any one lack this blessing, he is living below his privileges.
Light [Truth] is sown for the righteous, and gladness [the joys of the Truth] for the upright in heart. Psalm 97:11
THE true children of God love the Truth because they have an affinity for it....When they have found the Truth they recognize its value; they prize it, and meditate upon it....They say, It is just like God: it is the manifestation of His glorious goodness, the reflection of His loving, benevolent, wise and just character. And therefore they love the Truth and the God who gave it: they treasure it up in their hearts and con it over again and again; and as they look into it, and admire all its symmetry and beauty, they strive more and more to conform their own characters to the same lines of beauty and seek to commend it by word and conduct to others, that they also may be blessed by it.
Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 1 John 2:15
TO fellowship the world is to walk in harmony with its ideas and to conform to its ways. In this sense we may not love it, but must be apart from it and in opposition to it. The way thus pointed out to us is, in some respects at least, a difficult way, and a lonely way, but it is the only way of peace and happiness. This world with the lust thereof is rapidly passing away: it is hollow and unsatisfying and eventually leads to disaster and ruin; but those who delight in the Lord's way have blessed communion and fellowship with Him. Their joys come from a source which the world cannot comprehend. They live on a higher plane, breathe a purer atmosphere and enjoy a holier, sweeter friendship than the world could ever offer.
Learn of Me; for I am meek and lowly of heart. Matthew 11:29
TRULY, in a meek and quiet spirit is the secret of rest. To be meek is to cultivate the graces of patience; of loving submission to the will of God; of abiding confidence in His love and care and in the wisdom of His guiding counsel and overruling providences; and to persistently pursue this course through evil and through good report, or through favorable or unfavorable circumstances. Let the beloved children of God seek more and more to copy Christ's meek and quiet Spirit, accepting the providences of God and obeying His precepts and leading as He did, armed with the strength which He alone can supply, and will, to those who take His yoke upon them, and learn of Him.
It is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful....Every man according to his several ability. 1 Corinthians 4:2
THE "pound," being the same to all, fitly represents that blessing of divine grace which is common to all God's people--Justification. Other endowments differ in quantity, according to our natural opportunities, and are generally of the Father,--for instance, the Word and the Spirit. Our justification while planned by the Father is a gift from Jesus, because He paid for it with His own precious blood. The one "pound" each places all on a common footing as acceptable servants and permits each to show his zeal by his sacrificings. But the "talents," being distributed according to every man's ability, represent opportunities for the service of God along the lines of such abilities as we possess. They may be talents of education, or money, or influence, or good health, or time, or tact, or genius, with opportunities for their use in God's service.
He that received seed into the good ground is he that heareth the Word, and understandeth it; which also beareth fruit, and bringeth forth, some an hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. Matthew 13:23
THE different measures of fruitage--the thirty, sixty, and hundred-fold, or the ten pounds and the five, mark differences in obstacles to be overcome, etc., rather than unfaithfulness in the use of the means of grace. Some may work long and diligently for small results, while the same effort in others of more resolute will and of greater continuity may accomplish great things. Some by slips and occasional backslidings, from which they subsequently recover, lose time and opportunities which can never be regained, although they are forgiven and generously reinstated in the divine favor, and thenceforth run with diligence and patience to the end.
If children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ, if so be that we suffer with Him, that we may be also glorified together. Romans 8:17
READING the Father's plans for ourselves, in the light of His will exemplified in His dealings with our Master, we may settle it at once that it is not His will to keep us from all pain and trial and sufferings, and to carry us triumphantly to glory on flowery beds of ease. Quite the reverse, indeed, must be our course if we would follow in the footsteps of Him whom God set forth to be, not only a satisfaction for the sins of the whole world, but also a pattern to the church, which is His body. And this much learned of God's plan and will promptly teaches us that we must not expect and should not ask freedom from pain and trouble, which His wisdom has ordained to be the path to glory.
Continue in prayer, and watch in the same with thanksgiving. Colossians 4:2
EVERY trial of faith and patience is an occasion for prayer for the promised succor. Every failure to gain victory is an occasion for a prayer for forgiveness, and as well for divine blessing, that the lesson of our own weakness may be deeply impressed, so that in the next similar trial we may promptly apply for and lay hold upon the "grace to help" promised. Every victory over self is an occasion for prayer that we be not high minded and puffed up, but kept humble and watchful for the next attack from the great adversary. Every service for the Truth becomes an occasion for a prayer of thanks for the privilege of serving the Great King, and mayhap to have suffered something for His cause; and a reason for supplication for further opportunities for service and grace to use them wisely.
Wherefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the Apostle and High Priest of our profession, Christ Jesus. Hebrews 3:1
IT is God's will that every member of the "body of Christ" should be touched with a feeling of the world's infirmities, in order that, when exalted to the Kingdom, they may be very tender, sympathetic and generous, when, as the Royal Priesthood, they shall judge the world. Our Lord and Master, who had none of the imperfections of the fallen race, but was holy, harmless and separate from sinners, needed to take from men their sicknesses and infirmities in order that He might be touched with a feeling of our infirmities and be a faithful High Priest. It would be thoroughly illogical to suppose that the lessons necessary to the preparation of the High Priest for His office and service are not necessary to the underpriests who are called to suffer with Him and to reign with Him.
Now He which stablisheth us with you in Christ, and hath anointed us, is God, who hath also sealed us. 2 Corinthians 1:21,22
THE seal or mark of the New Creature is the possession of the Spirit of Christ. The manifestations of this Holy Spirit are three-fold. (1) Love supreme to God and joyful loyalty to His cause even at the cost of suffering. (2) Love of the brethren--unselfish, noble, pure,--a desire for their welfare, which is always alert to do them good. (3) Love, sympathetic, for the world, prompting to good works, as opportunity may afford, and to a desire and effort always to live peaceably with all men.
Be not wise in thine own eyes: fear the Lord, and depart from evil. Proverbs 3:7
NOTHING is more dangerous to the child of God than self-conceit: it blocks the way to true progress and reformation of heart, and hinders true usefulness to others, and especially usefulness in God's service; for His Word declares, "God resisteth the proud, but showeth favor unto the humble." Instead of self-confidence, Wisdom dictates a distrustfulness of self, remembering its weaknesses and imperfections, and correspondingly the greater reverence for God and reliance upon Him, which more than anything else will strengthen and enable us to depart from the evil of our fallen estate.
Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God. Matthew 5:8
THE thought of "pure in heart" is not perfection of conduct, nor of word, nor of thought, but perfection of intention as respects all of these. Our desire and effort must be for perfection--in thought, word and deed. The standard before us, to which our hearts, wills, must give assent, is the divine standard, "Be ye perfect, as your Father in heaven is perfect." (
) God has set no lower standard than this absolute perfection, but He has provided for us grace, mercy and peace through Christ, if we will walk in His footsteps,--this purity of heart being one of the essential steps in the narrow way.
In the time of harvest, I will say to the reapers, ...Gather the wheat into My barn. Matthew 13:30
THE time is short; the harvest work is great; the laborers are few; our time is consecrated; we must labor while it is called day, knowing that a night cometh wherein no man can work. We have consecrated our lives even unto death; we are commissioned of the great Lord of the harvest to seek for the true "wheat" and to gather it into the barn. What time have we for frivolities or worldliness or the many social amenities? Rather, we must content ourselves with giving very little attention to these things, and must press along the line, engaging heartily in the work given us to do, if we would have the approval of our Master, His "Well done, good and faithful servant."