Address Chelmsford by William Guindi – 18 January 2020 – Christ Needed for Every Situation

Ecclesiastes 9:13-18

The poor wise man who delivered the city – Like Jesus the Deliverer, and he is forgotten.  Think of how He did it – Alone He bore the cross.  

Exodus 15:22-26

The bitter waters of Marah (still the same word in Arabic).  They needed wood – the humanity of Jesus.

2 Kings 4:38-44

Jesus talked a lot about food.  Here we have death in the pot – cured by Christ (meal).  Result food to eat. 

 

Fellowship Meeting Keynsham 16 September 2019 Peter Mutton

 

Fellowship Meeting Reading – Peter Mutton

Keynsham (Bristol)

John 10:7-11,

Psalm 23 (whole Psalm)

Having life abundantly – the Shepherd

Apologies for poor quality audio

Ruth 1:1-11,14-22

Recovery

Fellowship Meeting Stawell Australia David Crozier 12 October 2019

Introduction

My wife and I were privileged to be at a fellowship meeting in Stawell Australia in October 2019.

As many will know Australia has suffered much through the activities of unspiritual persons in an area so much affected by the ‘Exclusive System’ now known as the PBCC.  Paul said to the Ephesian elders ‘I know this, that there will come in amongst you after my departure grievous wolves, not sparing the flock; and from among your own selves shall rise up men speaking perverted things to draw away the disciples after them‘ (Acts 20:29-30).

There were about 25 present, and I know that some overcame much to be there.  This account has been published as much for the prayers of all concerned as for the content.

Reading – Joy in Luke 15 – the Shepherd, the Woman and the Father’s House

Luke 15 (whole chapter)


Address – Divine Resources

2 Kings 4:1-7 – the woman with the pot of oil (the Holy Spirit)

Luke 10:29-36 – the Samaritan – oil, wine and two denarii

2 Cor 12:15 – what God had given Paul, who was prepared to spend and be utterly spent

Lord’s Day Reading – The Glory of God seen

Ex 3:1-6  – A great sight – the bush not burnt

John 1:14-18 – The Word dwelling among us

2 Cor 3:17-18, 4:5-7 – We all looking on the glory of the Lord: collective

 

Preaching Phil Gasston – A Work has been completed; God has been glorified, and we are indelibly registered

John 17:4

Rom 8:31-32

Heb 12:23 (middle)


Brothers taking part included:

Peter Alexander Dorking, England
Ken Clark Stawell Vic
Brian Cox Moe Vic
David Crozier (Sr) Warrenpoint, Northern Ireland
Phil Gasston Auckland, New Zealand
Ross Grace Melbourne Vic
Fayez Nour Sydney NSW
Terry Pert Ballarat Vic
Daniel Roberts Gillingham, England
Graham Sutherland Stawell Vic

 

Fellowship Meeting Malvern Stuart Bodman 13 July 2019

Reading – The Lord Jesus as Head

Colossians 1:18

Colossians 2:18-19

Colossians 3:12-13

Ephesians 4:4 ‘ There is one body’

 


Address – God’s Delight in Obedience and Attention

1 Samuel 15:22

Psalm 6:6

Better Things – Simple Things

Issue No 4

Adapted for Publication from an Address by Jim Macfarlane at Warrenpoinnt, N Ireland, 2 July 2017

 

For me to live [is] Christ, and to die gain; but if to live in flesh [is my lot], this is for me worth the while: and what I shall choose I cannot tell.  But I am pressed by both, having the desire for departure and being with Christ, [for] [it is] very much better, but remaining in the flesh [is] more necessary for your sakes. . .

Philippians 1:21-24

ThoughIhave [my] trust even in flesh; if any other think to trust in flesh, Irather: as to circumcision, [I received it] the eighth day; of [the] race of Israel, of [the] tribe of Benjamin, Hebrew of Hebrews; as to [the] law, a Pharisee; as to zeal, persecuting the assembly; as to righteousness which [is] in [the] law, found blameless;but what things were gain to me these I counted, on account of Christ, loss. But surely I count also all things to be loss on account of the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, on account of whom I have suffered the loss of all, and count them to be filth, that I may gain Christ; and that I may be found in him, not having my righteousness, which [would be] on the principle of law, but that which is by faith of Christ, the righteousness which [is] of God through faith  of Christ, the righteousness which [is] of God through faith, to know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being conformed to his death, if any way I arrive at the resurrection from among [the] dead.

Philippians 3:11

Brethren, I do not count to have got possession myself; but one thing — forgetting the things behind, and stretching out to the things before, I pursue, [looking] towards [the] goal, for the prize of the calling on high of God in Christ Jesus. 

Philippians 3:13-14

 For this Melchisedec, King of Salem, priest of the most high God, who met Abraham returning from smiting the kings, and blessed him; to whom Abraham gave also the tenth portion of all; first being interpreted King of righteousness, and then also King of Salem, which is King of peace; without father, without mother, without genealogy; having neither beginning of days nor end of life, but assimilated to the Son of God, abides a priest continually.  Now consider how great this [personage] was, to whom [even] the patriarch Abraham gave a tenth out of the spoils. And they indeed from among the sons of Levi, who receive the priesthood, have commandment to take tithes from the people according to the law, that is from their brethren, though these are come out of the loins of Abraham: but he who has no genealogy from them has tithed Abraham, and blessed him who had the promises.

Hebrews 7:1-6

 For it is borne witness, Thouart a priest for ever according to the order of Melchisedec.  For there is a setting aside of the commandment going before for its weakness and unprofitableness, (for the law perfected nothing,) and the introduction of a better hope by which we draw nigh to God.  And by how much [it was] not without the swearing of an oath; (for they are become priests without the swearing of an oath, but he with the swearing of an oath, by him who said, as to him, The Lord has sworn, and will not repent [of it], Thou[art] priest for ever [according to the order of Melchisedec];) by so much Jesus became surety of a better covenant.  And they have been many priests, on account of being hindered from continuing by death; but he, because of his continuing for ever, has the priesthood unchangeable. Whence also he is able to save completely those who approach by him to God, always living to intercede for them.  For such a high priest became us, holy, harmless, undefiled, separated from sinners, and become higher than the heavens: who has not day by day need, as the high priests, first to offer up sacrifices for his own sins, then [for] those of the people; for this he did once for all [in] having offered up himself. For the law constitutes men high priests, having infirmity; but the word of the swearing of the oath which [is] after the law, a Son perfected for ever.

Hebrews 7:17-26

Now a summary of the things of which we are speaking [is], We have such a one high priest who has sat down on [the] right hand of the throne of the greatness in the heavens; minister of the holy places and of the true tabernacle, which the Lord has pitched, [and] not man.

Hebrews 8:1-2

 But now he has got a more excellent ministry, by so much as he is mediator of a better covenant, which is established on the footing of better promises.  For if that first was faultless, place had not been sought for a second.

Hebrews 8: 6-7

But Christ being come high priest of the good things to come, by the better and more perfect tabernacle not made with hand, (that is, not of this creation,) nor by blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood, has entered in once for all into the [holy of] holies, having found an eternal redemption.

Hebrews 9:11-12

And the tabernacle too and all the vessels of service he sprinkled in like manner with blood; and almost all things are purified with blood according to the law, and without blood-shedding there is no remission.  [It was] necessary then that the figurative representations of the things in the heavens should be purified with these; but the heavenly things themselves with sacrifices better than these. For the Christ is not entered into holy places made with hand, figures of the true, but into heaven itself, now to appear before the face of God for us: since he had [then] been obliged often to suffer from the foundation of the world.

Hebrews 9:21-26

Having therefore, brethren, boldness for entering into the [holy of] holies by the blood of Jesus, the new and living way which he has dedicated for us through the veil, that is, his flesh, and [having] a great priest over the house of God, let us approach with a true heart, in full assurance of faith, sprinkled as to our hearts from a wicked conscience, and washed as to our body with pure water. Let us hold fast the confession of the hope unwavering, (for he [is] faithful who has promised;) and let us consider one another for provoking to love and good works; not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the custom [is] with some; but encouraging [one another], and by so much the more as ye see the day drawing near.

Hebrews 10:19-24

 

 

A short time ago, one of our elderly sisters in Dundee[*]was taken to be with the Lord Jesus.  In the epistle to the Philippians Paul speaks about transforming our ‘body of humiliation into conformity to His body of glory’ (Philippians 3:21). This dear feeble sister, almost 91 years old, had a body of humiliation; it was physically feeble, and it was a merciful release for her.  Although she found it very difficult to communicate, in the days just before the Lord Jesus took her to be with Himself, her husband had occasion to refer to this well-known passage in Philippians 1 which we read first. Our brother said to her, ‘… having the desire for departure and being with Christ…’.  In spite of having communicated nothing coherent for quite some time, she added, with total clarity, ‘which is far better’ (v. 23KJV). He was very encouraged by that.   Now if she was as feeble as that, one might say that would not be difficult, but I do not think that was the kind of comparison that the apostle was intending to make here.

I’d like to engage us with ‘Better Things’.   My desire is that we might be able to get some impression of the access we have in Christianity to those better things.

Another comparison we might make is with the apostle’s circumstances. Paul was a prisoner of the Roman Empire at this time. This must have been a very unpleasant experience, so the prospect of ‘being with Christ, for it is very much better’ might be compared with that; but I don’t think that is the comparison he had in mind either.   Paul said in chapter 4, ‘I have strength for all things in Him that gives me power’ (v. 13), and a little further down: ‘I have all things in full supply and abound’(v.18). That doesn’t sound like someone miserable, sitting chained in the prison in Rome.  What Paul referred to were good things, and if the apostle was saying that being with Christ was very much better than those, it must be very good indeed!

A characteristic expression in the Epistle to the Hebrews is ‘better things’(ch. 6:9,  12:24etc.).  Later we will also consider Hebrews as the ‘book of the opened heavens’.

I would like to digress and say a little bit about the Jewish law, because it is the background to the Epistle to the Hebrews.  The epistle was written to Jewish believers whose background was the Jewish law.  I think that it is fair to say that the law that was given to the Jews was a mark of God’s favour to them. It may have made demands, but it was a system by which a man could establish himself as righteous before God.  In principle, the Jewish law was a good thing, but Hebrews is about what is better than that.  Indeed Paul said that the law was more than ‘holy, and just, and good’: it was spiritual (see Romans 7:12-14).

Galatians 6:7tells us, ‘whatever a man shall sow, that also shall he reap’ .  This shows that there are moral consequences to all of our actions.  Any person who does right or wrong will reap accordingly: it is a law of the moral universe.  In the New Testament, I don’t think that it is retributive.

So, in the physical universe: if you apply a force to a moveable object, it will start to move in the direction of the force and accelerate until an opposite force slows it down.  That always happens: the acceleration is a consequence of the force. In the same way, reaping what one sows is morally inevitable.   A Jew knew that: the law was in the inspired Word of God, and he must give consideration to it in all his actions.   That was in his favour.

We read in Philippians 3because it speaks of the transformation which the apostle Paul experienced.   As Saul of Tarsus, he had been proud of his national and social distinctions: ‘of the race of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, Hebrew of Hebrews, as to the law, a Pharisee. As to righteousness which is in the law, found blameless’(v.5-6).  He had reckoned that his compliance with the requirements of the law had given him personal distinction.  However, after his encounter with Jesus, he had a completely different view. ‘I have suffered the loss of all, and count them to be filth, that I may gain Christ’(v. 8).  Included in what Paul counted filth was his pride in his blamelessness as to the requirements of the law. (Of course, the law itself could not be counted loss and filth).

Paul was proud of being a Pharisee. The Pharisees advertised, at every turn, their strict conformity to what Moses had indicated.  For example, they made broad their phylacteries[†],  and could quote the law to justify their actions. The Lord Jesus was hard on the Pharisees, but gracious to the moral wrecks.

At one point He condemned them for advertising the fact that they tithed everything, even ‘mint and rue and every herb’(Luke 11:42). That is just like saying that a tenth of the salt and pepper that you put on your meal was set aside and dedicated to the temple system. They were as fastidious as that. But the Lord Jesus, when speaking to them in respect of this, said they were ‘teaching as their teachings commandments of men’ (Mark 7:7). I find it interesting to look at the original in the prophet Isaiah and see how he phrases it, ‘Your fear of me is a commandment taught of men’(Isaiah 29:13).

Their contention would have been that this was part of their Jewish tradition. There was the law that was given by Moses, but over the centuries, up to the point when Isaiah was prophesying, they had added a vast superstructure of additional regulations built on top the law that Moses had given. At that time, it was generally regarded as the ‘oral law’, handed down by those who were initiated, scribes (doctors of the law) and Pharisees. Later this was to be codified into writings such as the Talmudand the Midrash.  They had taken the law and manipulated it, setting out many further requirements, claiming the same authority as the Torah, God’s law given by Moses.  Moses’ law was relatively straightforward, and necessarily so, because everybody, however simple and uneducated, had to be able to understand what God required.  But these people had dedicated the whole of their lives, not only to what Moses commanded, but to the great edifice of additional doctrinal interpretation.  The Lord referred to this in the ‘traditional teaching’ when he referred to the washing of vessels (still practiced by many Jews), and the reference to ‘corban’ negating God’s commandment (See Matthew 15:3and Mark 7:10-13).   This traditional teaching was ultimately used to contradict the Lord Jesus, the only one who glorified God by fulfilling the law in its letter and spirit.

This is something that I think we have to consider, because it has not happened only in Judaism: it has happened in Christianity as well.  We can all, I am sure, relate to this

I would like to speak briefly about one of the leaders in the Reformation, Guillaume Farel (1489-1565)[‡]a Frenchman.  He was very significant in the reformer community in Geneva.  If you go to Geneva, to the Reformation Wall, there are four statues of men who were central to the Reformation.  Farel is one of them, along with Calvin, Knox and Beza.  Farel undertook a translation of the scriptures from Latin into French.  The religious authorities of the day objected to this, because if the people knew what was really said in the scriptures, their control would be diminished.  However, the bishop of Meaux, near Paris, was favourable to Farel’s activity. One day Farel and the bishop’s conversation turned to the vast system of complexity that had been built up around the Roman Mass. The bishop’s comment to Farel was that these things were added, one at a time, for the best of reasons.  Farel’s reply to him was that when Peter said to the Lord, ‘Be it far from thee, Lord: this shall not be unto thee’ (Matthew 16:22KJV), he said it with the best of intentions but the Lord’s reply was, ‘Get thee behind me, Satan’ (v.23) I just leave this little anecdote with the brethren, because I think it’s something that we need to consider.  Christianity is a simple matter and it must be within the scope of everyone: what comes within everyone’s scope are better things! Better things are simple things.

To return to Hebrews, those addressed were from the same background as Paul– institutional Judaism.  Hebrews is an interesting book, quite different from most other books of the Bible.  For example, the author’s name is not given – that is not surprising, because the force of its introduction is that the one who speaks is God. ‘God having spoken in many parts and in many ways formerly to the fathers in the prophets, at the end of these days has spoken to us in [the person of the] Son’ (Hebrews 1:1-2). That’s who the speaker is: God in the Person of the Son.

The writer of Hebrews told his readers in Chapter 1that he was going to be speaking about better things, starting with the One whowas ‘[the] effulgence of his glory and [the] expression of his [i.e. God’s]substance, and upholding all things by the word of his power, having made [by himself] the purification of sins, set himself down on the right hand of the greatness on high, taking a place by so much better than the angels, as he inherits a name more excellent than they’(Hebrews 1:3-4).  He was going to take up the system with which the Jews were familiar and show that the real spiritual heavenly substance of them was in what God had established in Christ.   They would get the profit and benefit of better things, for their blessing.

As we read Hebrews, we are introduced to better things.  We understand them because of our direct connection with God, revealed in Jesus Christ. Laying hold of these better things, we ultimately become true worshippers.

The Lord Jesus told the poor woman at the well that God was looking for true worshippers – those that worship in spirit and truth (See John 4:24). So the writer begins with another priesthood.  In this connection, I draw  your attention to Hebrews 7:25, ‘Whence also he is able to save completely those who approach by him to God, always living to intercede for them’.   This makes the purpose of the new priesthood clear: to lead those who have received salvation in their approach to God by Him.

It’s an interesting development that the writer gave in these earlier verses. Basically, he said that Aaron’s priesthood had been superseded. Aaron’s priesthood was represented in the person of Abraham, Aaron being in Abraham’s loins (see ch. 7:5).  Normally, in the Jewish system, tithes were paid to the priests, that is to Levi and the system of priesthood represented by him.  But Abraham paid a tithe to Melchisedec, one who was representative of the Lord Jesus in a new system of priesthood. In other words, the old Aaronic system has been superseded.

The other function of the priest, is to sustain us in infirmity.  We need that service all the time.  It says of this new Priest according to the order of Melchisedec, ‘For we have not a high priest not able to sympathise with our infirmities, but tempted in all things in like manner, sin apart’ (Hebrews 4:15).  What distinction lies upon those who are served by Him! ‘Such a high priest became us, holy, harmless, undefiled, separated from sinners, and become higher than the heavens.’ (Ch. 7:26)

The other characteristic of the Epistle to the Hebrews is its being the book of the opened heavens[§].  So there is a new priest and, in the summary given in the opening  verses of chapter 8, we learn that the new Priest has ‘sat down on the right hand of the throne of the greatness in the heavens’ (Hebrews 8:1).   Not only is the Lord Jesus the new High Priest who goes in to God and sustains those who are there with Him, but He is mediator – the one who acts for God towards men. He is ‘mediator of a better covenant, which is established on the footing of better promises’(v. 6) – two ‘betters’ in the same verse!

Chapter 9begins by setting out the Jewish thought of a sanctuary, ‘a worldly one’(ch. 9:1). The material things of the old system were a figurative representation of the things in the heavens. Both the material and the heavenly sanctuaries had to be purified by blood, but ‘the heavenly things themselves [were purified] with sacrifices better than these’(v. 23). Figuratively, the holy of holies was the place of the presence of God: it was not accessible.  The ark of the covenant was there, and access to it was permitted only once a year, by the high priest alone, ‘with blood not his own’ (v. 25).  In the new arrangement, ‘Christ being come high priest of the good things to come, by the better and more perfect tabernacle not made with hand, . . . has entered in once for all into the [holy of holies], having found an eternal redemption’ (v. 11-12).   So access was not just once a year, with an offering which was repeated each time, but He, our Great High Priest, has gone in once for all in the efficacy of His own blood.   Hence we have access with boldness into the holy of holies, where the sense of the presence of God compels worship.

The new worshippers are introduced in Chapter 10.  The Lord has gone in: now there is a worshipping company that can also go into the presence of God in total suitability.  As we enter in as worshippers, we are sustained the Great High Priest.

I conclude by reading briefly from the end of Chapter 6, referring to the blessing of Abraham, as an introduction, in its reference to Melchisedec, to the four chapters with which we have been engaged : ‘Wherein God, willing to show more abundantly to the heirs of the promise the unchangeableness of his purpose, intervened by an oath, that by two unchangeable things, in which it was impossible that God should lie, we might have a strong encouragement, who have fled for refuge to lay hold on the hope set before us, which we have as anchor for the soul, both secure and firm, and entering into that within the veil, wherein Jesus is entered as forerunner for us, become for ever a high priest according to the order of Melchisedec” (Hebrews 6:17-20).

These are inspiring words: may everybody here have some sense of the enormous elevation, privilege, and blessing, of having this confidence referred to in these last few verses of Chapter 6.

May it be so, for His Name’s sake.

 

Warrenpoint
2ndJuly 2017

Edited by: Daniel Roberts, Strood, Kent  (daniel@adayofsmallthings.com)

 

[*]Mrs Isobel Strachan (1926-2017)

 

[†]Phylacteries consisted of a small leather boxes containing the four passages in which frontlets are mentioned (Exodus 13:2-16Deuteronomy 6:4-9Deuteronomy 11:13-22), written on four slips of parchment.  These were fastened with leather straps, with one box on the heart and the other on the brow. They were worn commonly during the act of prayer (hence the Hebrew name tephillin– prayers).  The Pharisees, in their ostentatious show of piety, made either the box or the straps wider than the common size (Matthew 23:5), and wore them as they walked to and fro in the streets, or prayed standing (Matthew 6:5), that people might see and admire them. (From Ellicott)

 

[‡]For more on Farel see Wikipedia

 

[§]Ministry of J Taylor Vol 44 p.166

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Abide in Me

Issue No 2B

 

Address by Paul Burton Warrenpoint Northern Ireland – 7 October 2017

I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman. As to] every branch in me not bearing fruit, he takes it away; and [as to] every one bearing fruit, he purges it that it may bring forth more fruit.  Ye are already clean by reason of the word which I have spoken to you. Abide in me and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abide in the vine, thus neither [can] ye unless ye abide in me. I am the vine, ye [are] the branches. He that abides in me and I in him, hebears much fruit; for without me ye can do nothing. Unless any one abide in me he is cast out as the branch, and is dried up; and they gather them and cast them into the fire, and they are burned. 

If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will and it shall come to pass to you. In this is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit, and ye shall become disciples of mine. 

As the Father has loved me, I also have loved you: abide in my love. If ye shall keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love, as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. I have spoken these things to you that my joy may be in you, and your joy be full.  This is my commandment, that ye love one another, as I have loved you.No one has greater love than this, that one should lay down his life for his friends. Ye are my friends if ye practise whatever I command you. I call you no longer bondmen, for the bondman does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things which I have heard of my Father I have made known to you. Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and have set you that ye should go and [that] ye should bear fruit, and [that] your fruit should abide, that whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name he may give you. These things I command you, that ye love one another.

John 15:1-17

 

One thing that is absolutely fundamental to your Christian life and to mine, defining us as believers – is our personal relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ.   I am not minimising or belittling other blessings, because they are very precious, but I believe that if you strip away everything else, our relationship with Him is that which defines and forms us as believers.  All other blessings and the promises of God flow from that.  Of course, we do not stop there, but if we haven’t started there, or if in some way we have moved away, or lost that fundamental link with Christ, I think we will have missed the point of true Christianity.   We may well be carrying on an outward form, but with no living reality.  Without a personal, individual relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ, what is our life?What arrested me in this passage is that the Lord says in John 15:5, ‘Without me ye can do nothing’.This whole passage speaks of that vital intimacy of our relationship with the Lord Jesus.  As we challenge our hearts and minds as to the relationship we have with Lord Jesus Christ, we realise that if our relationship is broken, everything else becomes meaningless.

I want to start at Verse 1because the chapter does not start with us, it starts with Christ: ‘I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman’.  John presents things in a very lovely way. The bible finishes with Revelation, and the scriptures are beautifully and personally signed by the Lord with the words, ‘I Jesus’ (Rev 22:16). I think perhaps John’s gospel was the last scripture to be written.   It seems to me, in its personal presentation of Christ, to be morally the final testimony of the Word of God to us.  If Revelation gives us the Lord’s signature perhaps we can think of John’s gospel as the signature block.  When you receive a letter or email, you get the writer’s name and job title at the end, followed by his or her professional qualifications.   Often the qualifications contain more letters than the name!

John gives us titles of the Lord, such as, the Word, and, the Lamb of God, that are not developed elsewhere in scripture.  But in the ‘I am’s’ of this gospel, we have His great qualification and skill to be working in His ‘Father’s business’.

In ch. 6 you have hungry and famished persons. Jesus says, ‘I am the bread of life(v. 35). In John 9, if you get a man who is blind and cannot see, Jesus says, ‘I am the light of the world’(v.5). There were persons who said that they were not blind, and the Lord had to say to them, ‘If ye were blind ye would not have sin; but now ye say, We see, your sin remains’(v.41). They needed a Saviour, so He goes on to say, ‘I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep’(John 10:11). To disciples in need of instruction He is ‘the Lord and the Teacher’ (John 13:14) and to a confused person like Thomas Jesus says, ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life’ (John 14:6).

So we find that the Lord has the resources to meet every need.  When He says, ‘I am the true vine’,  (ch. 15:1),He is saying, ‘I am the resource that will answer that barrenness, emptiness and drought in your heart as you walk through a spiritually lifeless scene.’  There are times I feel like that. I may have been occupied (sometimes necessarily so) with things that are not fruitful, things that have not brought life, peace or satisfaction.  The Lord Jesus would say to us ’I am the True Vine’ so that we may be revived and refreshed again.

But how do we get the blessing of the Lord as the True Vine?  The Lord answers that in three simple words, ‘Abide in me’(v. 4). Now If I were to sum up what I said earlier on as to our personal, individual relationships with the Lord Jesus Christ, they would be the three words, ‘Abide in Me’.  That is not a difficult thing.  It does not need a whole course of doctrine and theology.  Just, ‘Abide in Me’.

If I broke off a branch or a stem from a plant or tree, and thought that I could just connect it back to the main plant every now and again and it would keep alive, you would tell me that I was being very foolish.  The moment you break the connection, the source of life is gone, and that part of the plant or tree will die. Perhaps sometimes we think we can equate Christianity with modern technology.  We think it’s like recharging a mobile phone battery.  We plug ourselves in once a week, get a spiritual charge, then unplug ourselves, go away, and then come back next week and plug in again. Christianity does not work that way.

Abide in Me.  Not once a week, not once a day, but every minute of every hour of every day of every year.  You may ask, how do I abide in Him?  I am not going to try and give you a step-by-step guide because I don’t think that’s the way Christianity works.  God does not give us a process or a set of instructions to follow, in order to abide in Christ.

We might become like the Pharisee in Luke 18.   He thought he was doing what God wanted him to do: ‘I fast twice in the week, I tithe everything I gain’(v. 12).  Somebody had given him an instruction manual for walking with God, and he thought by following it, he would be justified before God.  But it would appear that this man had no real link with God at all. Then there is something even more solemn.  The Lord speaks of those of whom it is said, ‘Many shall say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied through thy name, and through thy name cast out demons, and through thy name done many works of power? and then will I avow unto them, I never knew you. Depart from me, workers of lawlessness’ (Matthew 7:22-23).   There are persons today who maintain that you have to have done these things in order to prove that you are a Christian and have the Spirit but the persons the Lord was referring to were clearly not abiding in Christ.   I would also say as a warning, let us be very careful what we attach the Lord’s name to.

All I can say about abiding in Him is this, that you need to have your own relationship with the Lord Jesus.  Make it real, and make it constant.  You will say, ‘How can I possibly do that?  Are you saying that you want me to sit in a room all day, read my bible, kneel on my knees and pray, in order to be able to say that I’m abiding in Christ?  I have to work or do my studies at school, how can I always abide in Him?’

My answer is that you have been given the blessed Holy Spirit who will help you.  You can abide in Christ while doing the most mundane things in secular life.  The Holy Spirit is a divine Person living in you, and it is He who gives you that abiding link with Christ.  You don’t have to be talking to the Lord Jesus, or thinking about the scriptures every minute of the day to be abiding in Him.  What it does mean is that you have a spiritual power linking you livingly with Christ every moment of the day. We have to learn to listen to Him and understand the promptings of the Spirit of God in us.

What comes out of this is our walk, and scripture speaks a lot about our walk.  There is a close connection between walking and abiding.  We see this in1 John 2:6, ‘He that says he abides in him ought, even as he walked, himself also so to walk.’  So even if I can’t tell you how to abide in Him because you have to come to that yourself, I can tell you that evidence of your abiding in Christ will be seen in your walk.   Your walk is very important, and you learn to walk as a consequence of abiding in Jesus.

We have many mothers here. A mother will have been used to putting her very young baby down knowing it will stay exactly where it was put, because it has not learnt to move yet.  Then there comes a point in the infant’s development when you put it down and it no longer stays in the place you have put it.  It begins to learn to move for itself and life is never quite the same again.  A new element of watchfulness has to enter into the care of a little one.  The Christian life is a bit like that, before you could ever learn to walk as a believer, you were in Christ.

I want to take you back, if I can, to that moment that you trusted Him. That you knew you had that personal relationship with the Lord Jesus – that you were His.  When you could just settle down in His arms and all those worries and fears are gone.  Did you ever want it to go away?  You were abiding in Him and what better place is there than in the Saviour’s arms?

I know that this scripture I am about to refer to is in a different context, but in the Song of Songs, the lover said, ‘When I found him whom my soul loveth: I held him, and would not let him go’ (Song of Songs 3:4).Did you not feel like that when you found Him at the start of your Christian pathway?  Christ’s love embraced you, and it was so precious to you that you held Him and you would not let Him go. Go back to that moment, and remember what Christ meant to you. He meant everything to you, didn’t He?  Such was the joy of having Him.

But then life goes on. Things have to be worked out in your responsibilities here. You can’t just sit there in the embrace of the love of Christ and ignore everything going on around you. The Lord has not asked us to do that.

Let us return to the analogy of the little child.  There becomes a point in time when they are not just content just to be left where you put it. It begins to explore; first crawling, then walking.  Generally, a child learns to walk from the arms of the parents.  Have you ever taught a child to walk by standing it up, and physically moving one leg and then the other? There is a beautiful verse in the prophet Hosea where God speaks of this as though He was a parent with a child; ‘And I it was that taught Ephraim to walk, — He took them upon his arms, — but they knew not that I healed them’(Hosea 11:3). I remember a brother saying that it’s like a real father holding a tottering child as it begins to find its legs.  He goes behind with outstretched arms while they take the first two or three tottering steps and then collapse in a heap into his arms. Thus is the loving, patient care of our Lord and Saviour as we learn to walk.  How gracious He is!  He doesn’t teach us in a mechanical way; He doesn’t give us the manual and say, ‘Put forward one foot and then the next, then the next”.  You learn through the experience of life with Him.  You learn to walk as a believer and God is very gracious, even when we fall.  How often we fall into those arms that gently pick us up and teach us to walk again!

Our child begins to walk, but it still doesn’t have any real awareness of its surroundings. If you left the gate open unsupervised, it would run right out into the road.  As a young believer you begin your Christian walk, but you don’t understand the dangers around you.  God is very gracious and protects you.  He may use your Christian parents to provide you with an environment of care and protection, even though you may kick against such restraints.

Then as you develop, you begin to walk independently.  You don’t see many teenagers on reins, though those of us who are parents may sometimes wish we could still keep them; but we have to leave them to develop their own responsibilities in life.

Now young believer, you have developed your link with Christ.  You are beginning to exercise the walk of faith. God has given you faith, and he’s asked you to walk, as an individual, responsibly in faith, before the Lord.  You do that by developing your abiding link in Christ.  You do not have to rely on someone telling you what to do.  You have the privilege and joy of walking here in faith, with Christ; but it is also a responsibility.  You belong to Christ and you have to prove that walk of faith yourself.  But remember, it is never to be outside of that exhortation; ‘Abide in me’.

In that walk of faith you will find company with other believers, John’s writings tell us that.  If we abide in Him, we will walk as He walked; ‘if we walk as He walked we shall walk in the light; if we walk in the light, as He is in the light we have fellowship with one another’(1 John 1:7).  The fellowship is a very precious blessing, but it does not remove my individual responsibility of abiding in Him.  We cannot rely on the mere structure of theChristian company for our spiritual life. We cannot find our abiding merely through the company of others.  It is rather our individual, personal relationships with the Lord Jesus Christ that are the source of our life in a Christian fellowship.  If those ‘abide in me’ relationships are maintained, what joy and vitality there will be!  But if they are not maintained, there will be no lasting life.   Please don’t just rely on others links with Christ to maintain the life of the company. Your personal, maintained committal to Christ, abiding in Him, is vital to your spiritual life, and also the encouragement and joy of those you have the blessing to walk with.

The scripture goes on to say, ‘Abide in my love’(v. 10). I am not going into that subject now.  I am just leaving you with the words, ‘Abide in me’.  That is your responsibility, privilege and joy as a believer, and it is mine too.  It is the bedrock and foundation of your individual Christian life individually and as worked out with others.  ‘Abide in me’.  Do just that, for His name’s sake!

 

Edited by: Daniel Roberts, Strood, Kent  (daniel@adayofsmallthings.com)

Revised by Paul Burton and checked by others

December 2017

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Follow Thou Me

Issue No 5

Address by Paul Burton at Malvern, 26 May 2018

When therefore they had dined, Jesus says to Simon Peter, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me more than these? He says to him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I am attached to thee. He says to him, Feed my lambs. He says to him again a second time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? He says to him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I am attached to thee. He says to him, Shepherd my sheep. He says to him the third time, Simon, son of Jonas, art thou attached to me? Peter was grieved because he said to him the third time, Art thou attached to me? and said to him, Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I am attached to thee. Jesus says to him, Feed my sheep. Verily, verily, I say to thee, When thou wast young, thou girdedst thyself, and walkedst where thou desiredst; but when thou shalt be old, thou shalt stretch forth thy hands, and another shall gird thee, and bring thee where thou dost not desire. But he said this signifying by what death he should glorify God. And having said this, he says to him, Follow me. Peter, turning round, sees the disciple whom Jesus loved following, who also leaned at supper on his breast, and said, Lord, who is it that delivers thee up? Peter, seeing him, says to Jesus, Lord, and what of this man? Jesus says to him, If I will that he abide until I come, what is that to thee? Follow thou me.
The reading this morning focused on two words: ‘Hear him’ (Matthew17:5). In this occasion, we have three words: ‘Follow thou me’. 
I do not believe that God intends that there should be anything complicated about Christianity. It is profound and inscrutable, beyond our human minds to comprehend in its fullness – but it is simple to the eyes of faith.
Each gospel writer leaves us with different words of the Lord Jesus. The Lord’s last words recorded in John’s gospel are ‘Follow thou me’. This is a simple statement comprising:
  • A verb – the action ‘Follow
  • The subject – who does it ‘Thou’ – that is you and I, as well as Peter
  • The object ‘Me’ – that is Jesus.
This is really the essence of Christian life. The Lord Jesus in His wondrous grace and saving power has called us to follow Him. It is no more complicated than that. Of course, we have the epistles. They were written before these words were written, but not before they were said. In the epistles there are long words and deep thoughts. The thoughts of God and His blessing for us are immense. That is one of the reasons we have reading meetings so that, with the Holy Spirit’s help, we can understand God’s wonderful thoughts for us. But God does not want us to merely understand His thoughts, He wants us to experience and enjoy His blessings as well. The questions are:
  • How are we going to enjoy what God in His love has purposed and prepared for us?
  • Why do we struggle, and why do we find following Jesus so difficult?
For a start, we experience and enjoy them by simply following Christ.
Imagine a local assembly filled with persons who follow Christ and hear and do His word; then imagine the church as a whole, and even the whole world following and obeying Him. This wonderful world of peace, order and joy will be seen in a coming day. It speaks of ‘these are they who follow the Lamb wheresoever it goes’ (Revelation 14:4). Now, let us now look around our Christian companies: and we have to humbly admit that things are not as they should be. It cannot be because the Lord has asked us to do something complicated or unclear. The simple word is ‘Follow thou me’.
 
This was not the first time that the Lord had asked Peter to follow Him. He had already been following the Lord for a little over three years. Earlier, when Peter did not know Him anything like as well, the Lord had said, ‘Come after me’ (Matthew 4:19) – and Peter had obeyed.  So had Andrew, James, John and the other disciples. Peter had had three years’ experience of the Lord’s love, care and companionship. Many followed the Lord because of what He had done for them: having been cured of blindness, deafness, leprosy or demons. However, the gospels do not suggest that any of the twelve chosen disciples followed the Lord as a result of such miraculous healing. However, there must have been something more than the disciples saw in Jesus.
Matthew is another example. As far as the scripture records, Matthew was sitting doing his job, taking the taxes, counting the money and keeping records. We know nothing of Matthew’s prior experience with or knowledge of the Lord. However, when Jesus just says to him, ‘Follow me’ (Luke 5: 27).
I think that what caused these beloved disciples to leave what they were doing, was that they saw something about that Man that they had never seen before. He had no great outward personality or charisma (Isaiah 53:2) nor did He make promises of outward greatness or power. Here was a Man in outward humility, with no natural distinguishing features that would mark Him out. Yet there was something different which caused these disciples to follow. So what makes us follow the Lord Jesus? We have put our faith and trust in the finished work of our Lord Jesus Christ, as the One who suffered and died for us. That alone would make Him worthy to be followed. He is worthy, but there is something deeper.
If we are going to be enduring, constant, faithful followers of Jesus, we have each for ourselves to answer the question, ‘How much does the Lord Jesus Himself mean to me?’. In John’s gospel, the Man Christ Jesus is the absolute centre: persons like the woman in John 4 were drawn to Him, not just because of what He did but because of what He was. The woman said, ‘Come, see a man’ (Matthew 17:5). Such was the humanity of Jesus: He thrilled the Father’s heart in every step, thought and movement. He also thrilled the hearts of those who followed Him. Peter illustrated this in John 6. The Lord had ministered His word, but there were two completely opposite results. Many of the disciples said, ‘This word is hard. . . and walked no more with him’ (v.68). Peter had found an all-absorbing object in the person of Christ, a kind of Man that he had never come across before. Peter continued following.
At one point, Peter had said, ‘We have left all things and have followed thee; what then shall happen to us?’ (Matthew 19:27). Now Peter was asking what was going to happen to them. The Lord had spoken of receiving a hundredfold.  In (John 21) we see the Lord giving Peter another commission and He re-issues this challenge to follow, for the Lord would be physically here no longer.  What was the Lord offering Peter from a natural perspective? There was nothing for his personal benefit. Jesus said, “I want you to be a shepherd”. Peter might well have answered, “Lord, that is a little bit odd. You took me up to be a fisher of men. I know about fishing, that is in my blood. Now you are telling me to be a shepherd. I do not have any experience of being a shepherd”. In fact, Peter was probably the most qualified person there to be a shepherd having spent three years with the Good Shepherd, observing the greatest, most skilful and wonderful Shepherd there has ever been. The Lord effectively says, “Peter, you are going to have a career change. You are now going to be a shepherd. It is will be hard work: you are going to have to feed My lambs; you are going to have to shepherd My sheep; you are going to have to feed My sheep. Then, when you get old you are going to have your liberty taken away, ending up in prison, and ultimately Peter, you are going to die for Me. But despite all that follow me.”
 
At first, Peter did not get the full point of what the Lord was saying. ‘Peter, seeing him [John], says to Jesus, Lord, and what of this man? Jesus says to him, If I will that he abide until I come, what is that to thee? Follow thou me.’ (John 21:21-22). The Lord is saying to Peter, “Let Me make it absolutely plain and clear to you: ‘Follow thou Me’: nothing else matters”. We must give Peter the credit for honouring His Lord: in the main, he followed his Lord faithfully. His link with Christ and his valuation of that blessed Man kept and preserved him. Peter was a true follower of Jesus Christ, even to martyrdom.
How about each one of us? Your comfort zone or personal choice does not enter into it. The Lord’s word is: ‘Follow thou me’– a very direct command that comes to each of us individually. it is right to value one another, but ultimately our Christian pathway is defined by how we follow Christ personally. As we follow Christ we find that there are others are following Him too: we are all heading towards the same destination because we are following Him, not one anothe.
When we come together we have a single objective, following Christ. That is what unites us. Each one of us will have received the command, ‘Follow thou me’. It is not a complicated command: the big question is, ‘How?’.
We might say that if Jesus were here, it would be easy to follow Him – if He walked out of the door, we could all follow. I think the gospel suggests that it would not make it any easier if Jesus was physically here or not.  The Lord Jesus in His wondrous grace and in His infinite wisdom has given us things to help us. Peter says ‘Christ…leaving you a model that ye should follow in his steps’ (1 Peter 2:21). We have Christ as a model before us, and we can follow in His footprints. In virgin snow, where no one has walked before, a person’s footprints are clear, and we can follow them easily. The Lord has left us clear footprints:
  • There is a footprint of suffering.
  • There is a footprint of wondrous grace.
  • There is a footprint of perfect humility.
  • There is a footprint of utter dependence.
  • There is a footprint of complete trust in God.
  • There is a footprint of prayer.
  • There is a footprint of devotion.
  • There is a footprint of righteous indignation.
All of those things were seen in the life of Jesus here. A follower of Jesus Christ has been given a perfect example in the life and footsteps of the Lord Jesus. Hence we can ‘follow in his steps’.
We cannot see Him physically; we have to use what we call faith. That is the difficult bit, needing concentration and a committal to follow Christ. We cannot set our path automatically like a plane on auto-pilot. There has to be a day-by-day commitment to follow Christ. My scripture for that is Hebrews 12:2, ‘Looking steadfastly on Jesus the leader and completer of faith’. The Spirit will help you. If you still struggle and find it too difficult, put your hand out and Jesus, in His precious, condescending grace, will take it and lead you, if necessary, by the hand. Hebrews tells us that one of the reasons he came into manhood was so that He may take hold of the seed of Abraham by the hand (see Hebrews 2:16). But He will lead us together to a very glorious place, into the greatest and most wondrous privileges that we can ever know. The heart of God is full of blessing and happiness for us. God has called us to be happy. I am not sure how much we believe that what Christ has in mind for us is the very best.
Let us not think that His voice is different in our sphere of responsibility here from our sphere of privilege. Sometimes we divorce the two. It is the same blessed Person who leads us, whether it is in the difficulties of the wilderness path here, or in the joy and privilege of going with Him to the Father and entering into that sphere of praise. The character of the leading might be different, but it is the same Person. The better we know how to follow Him, the greater we will know the blessing.
In summary, we have had two messages in our meetings today:
  • Hear him’,
  • Follow thou me’.
I leave these thoughts with us all, for His Name’s sake.

Revised by Paul Burton and checked by others.  All scripture quotations are from the Darby translation

October 2018

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Ancient Men, Ancient Landmarks and the Ancient of Days

Issue No 7

Address by Robert White at Bromley, 18 November 2018

And when the builders laid the foundation of the temple of Jehovah, they set the priests in their apparel, with trumpets, and the Levites the sons of Asaph, with cymbals, to praise Jehovah according to the directions of David king of Israel. And they sang alternately together in praising and giving thanks to Jehovah: For he is good, for his loving-kindness endureth for ever toward Israel. And all the people shouted with a great shout to the praise of Jehovah, because the foundation of the house of Jehovah was laid. But many of the priests and Levites and chief fathers, the ancient men that had seen the first house, wept with a loud voice, when the foundation of this house was laid in their sight; and many shouted aloud for joy. And the people could not discern the noise of the shout of joy from the noise of the weeping of the people; for the people shouted with a great shout, and the noise was heard afar off.
Ezra 3:10-13
Remove not the ancient landmark which thy fathers have set.
Proverbs 22:28
I saw in the night visions, and behold, there came with the clouds of heaven one like a son of man, and he came up even to the Ancient of days, and they brought him near before him. And there was given him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve him: his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed.
Daniel 7: 13-14
These scriptures refer to what is ancient: ancient men, ancient landmarks and the Ancient of Days.
As we know, Christianity is not characterised by what is ancient, but what is new. In the Acts and the Epistles, we see how fresh and new everything was. Christianity is based on the perfect work of the Lord Jesus Christ and the presence here of the Holy Spirit of God. Companies of believers are formed on the basis of these great realities, which are still fresh and new in character. Even if people regard Christianity as old and traditional, from the divine standpoint nothing has grown old: this helps to sustain our faith. In spite of what I have just said, my subject is what is ancient. The Lord speaks about the scribe who ‘brings out of his treasure things new and old’ (Matthew 13: 52). That that gives me the liberty to speak about what is old.

 

Ancient Men

 

In Ezra, we read about ancient men. Great things were taking place, and it seems that these ancient men were not really helping at this point. God had stirred up the spirit of Cyrus, the king of Persia, who charged Ezra to lead a remnant of the people of Israel back to Jerusalem and to rebuild the house of Jehovah the God of Israel (see Ezra 1:3). The first thing that they did was to build ‘the altar of the God of Israel, to offer up burnt-offerings on it, as it is written in the law of Moses the man of God . . . and they offered up burnt-offerings on it to Jehovah’ (ch. 3:2-3). Every move of recovery or restoration must be based on the finished sacrificial work of our Lord Jesus Christ.

 

Note that they followed in praise ‘the directions of David, King of Israel’ (ch. 3:10). In times of recovery, when we realise how things have gone wrong, we think that it might be better to proceed differently. However, here they were not re-inventing things: they looked to the directions that David had given. That would remind us that, despite our failure, the principles that govern our conduct in the House of God, or that regulate our gatherings in the light of the truth of the assembly as given by Paul – great truths as established by scripture – do not change. It is not a time for trying new ways of doing things.

 

They commenced rebuilding the Temple of God by laying its foundation. I get the impression that many of those involved in this work were relatively young. It is essential that old and young are mutually supportive in carrying on the testimony. Older ones can bring in the benefit of experience, while the younger people have a freshness of energy and devotion. Here though, I am not sure that these ancient men were fully in tune with the spirit of what was taking place. It says, ‘All the people shouted with a great shout to the praise of Jehovah, because the foundation of the house of Jehovah was laid. But many of the priests and Levites and chief fathers, the ancient men that had seen the first house, wept with a loud voice when the foundation of the house was laid’ (ch. 3:11). It may well be that we older people have had happy experiences in the past, but we also have to face the fact that much has resulted in sorrow and loss, and that we have to accept responsibility in this. So, it does not help if we hark back to those earlier days, if doing so brings discouragement or confusion as to what the Lord may be doing now.

 

Haggai the prophet, who was active around this time said, ‘Who is left among you that saw this house in its former glory? And how do ye see it now? Is it as nothing in your eyes?’ (Haggai 2:3). These were important events. The challenge for those of us who are older is, ‘How do ye see it now?’ Do we recognise what the Lord may be doing currently, and link on and support it? God was in this movement in Jerusalem: had God not intervened there would have been no recovery at all. It did not merit discouraging notes being introduced by these ancient men. Happily, the shout of joy prevailed. My desire is that, in our present circumstances, we might be helped to go on together joyfully, old and young alike, prepared to see what the Lord has in mind for us all.

 

Ancient Landmarks

 

In Proverbs 22: 28 we read about an ancient landmark. These days we have all sorts of maps and navigational aids, but we can understand that, in days gone by, how reassuring a landmark would have been. A landmark would have told you where you were; it would have given you a sense of direction. and perhaps would have helped to keep you safe. A landmark might also have told you who owned the land – this is inferred in next chapter, ‘Remove not the ancient landmark; and enter not into the field of the fatherless’ (Proverbs 23: 10 ). So, for us, what are our landmarks, and where do we find them?

 

Jacob set up landmarks, or pillars as they are called. He set up the first pillar in Bethel and was brought back to the same place later in his life when he had come to a greater knowledge of God. We may have similar experiences, the Lord bringing us back to some point to see His glory in a greater and fuller way. Jacob also set up a pillar at a place called Galeed (see Genesis 31: 48) but that was to mark a place of division from Laban, his mother’s brother: it was a sad kind of landmark. Alas, there may have been landmarks like this in our lives, marking a point of separation from our brethren. We carry the sorrow of such things in our hearts.

 

I think that for us, scripture gives us landmarks which must not be removed. They help us to find where we are, show us where we should be going and define boundaries. A landmark was laid down, for example, when the angel said to Mary, ‘the holy thing also which shall be born shall be called Son of God’ (Luke 1:35). A blessed Person was coming into this world, and no-one like Him had ever been here before, nor would there ever be another like Him. What a landmark was laid when He was crucified – a unique moment in the history of time! Then when He rose from the dead, we have another immovable landmark. At the first preaching, Peter said, ‘Let the whole house of Israel therefore know assuredly that God has made him, this Jesus whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ’ (Acts 2:36). This was another great landmark that cannot be removed. As we go through the scriptures, we find other wonderful landmarks for our instruction, helping to establish us in our souls and in our links with God, whatever stage we may have reached in our lives.

 

What landmarks have you have laid down in your own life? One must be the day in which you came to know the Lord Jesus as your Saviour. There is also the day when you were conscious of having received the gift of the Holy Spirit, and the day when you committed yourself to remember the Lord in the breaking of bread in answer to His request. These are landmarks in your spiritual journey. You may have other landmarks in your life when you heard the Lord speaking through the scriptures or in ministry.

 

Ministry forms an important part our instruction. Paul speaks of himself as an elect vessel appointed to ministry (see Acts 9:15 and 1 Timothy 1:12). We do not have the likes of Paul and the other apostles in our time, but the Lord is still active in washing the assembly ‘by the word(Ephesians 5:26). Scripture is the authority, but the Lord has given gifts to draw attention to scriptures and to open them up. Someone with gift may have brought in some fresh and distinctive glory of Christ, and you wonder, “Why didn’t I think of that?” We are not to be drawn to the person who is gifted, but to the blessed One of whom scripture speaks. I commend this thought, so that we may see that all authority in teaching and doctrine must rest on the scriptures and understand that the Lord has given ministry to open up the riches that are in them for our edification and instruction.

 

The Ancient of Days

 

That brings me to the reference to the Ancient of Days in Daniel. Daniel was given an amazing prophetic vision of four great powers that would dominate large parts of the earth (Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece and Rome). In His wisdom, God has allowed men to govern this earth and the nations in it. History tells us of what they made of their responsibilities, and the sorrows brought on mankind through the mismanagement of powerful men. In spite of this of course, we must be grateful to God that there is such a thing as government to keep evil in check (see Romans 13), and we rightly pray for those in authority in accordance with Paul’s injunction (see 1 Timothy 2:1).

 

The Ancient of Days is a remarkable title of God. It implies that God knows all that has happened in every day since creation. Let us think, for example, of the six days of creation. Who but God can comprehend the mighty power that brought about this present earth? There were the days leading up to the flood, when such was the wickedness and violence of men, that God determined to destroy all flesh except for Noah and those with him in the ark, along with the various animal species. Continuing through the Old Testament, we have the days of the Patriarchs, the deliverance from Egypt, the history of the nation of Israel: every day was seen by God.

 

Above all we the life of Jesus here on earth, and we can think of the delight that God had in every day of it. What days those were! The Lord Himself speaks of ‘one of the days of the Son of man’ (Luke 17:22) – every day was distinctive and precious to God. Furthermore, God has seen every day in the history of the assembly since Pentecost, including each day of our own lives and everything that has transpired. There have been joys, sorrows, disappointments and failures, but surely, we can say that each day has brought its own supply of grace from on high. I say again, God has seen every one of those days.

 

Now we read in Daniel 7:13-14, ‘There came with the clouds of heaven one like a son of man, and he came up even to the Ancient of days and they brought him near before him. And there was given to him dominion and glory, and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations and languages should serve him: his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed’. This scripture speaks of the earthly dominion that is to be exercised by the Lord Jesus Christ. In the Father’s timing, this will come to pass, and no power will be able to rise up against Him. It is reassuring for us to understand that nothing in the divine calendar is out of control: no days go astray, so to speak. The Lord said that the Father had placed the times and seasons ‘in his own authority’ (Acts 1:7). There may be summer times and winter times in your life and mine, times of joy and times of sorrow, but all are known to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ: He is over them all. Through grace, we have come to know this glorious Person to whom the dominion and glory have been given. It is His, even if at present, He is not exercising His rule publicly on earth.

 

May our hearts be lifted up in thanksgiving that He knows us and He loves us – John says ‘To him who loves us, and has washed us from our sins in his blood. . . . to him be the glory and the might to the ages of ages’ (Revelation 1:5,6)

 

I commend these simple, scattered thoughts to all, old and young alike. There are those here who are young and fresh in their love for Christ, and there are others of us who are older, but the Lord values everyone who loves Him! May we be helped to go on together, serving and honouring the One to whom universal dominion has been given!

 

Note – Scripture quotations are from the Darby translation.
Revised by Robert White and checked by others
Edited by Daniel Roberts, 29 March 2019 – email daniel@roberts.at

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Fellowship Meeting – Bromley – Robert White – November 2018

Recording not in the public domain at the request of Robert White

Fellowship Meeting Address –  Bromley – Robert White – 10 November 2018

Ancient Men, Ancient landmarks and the Ancient of Days

181110v5 RFW Address Bromley Robert White

Ezra 3 Ancient men
Prov 32 Ancient landmarks
Dan 7 The Ancient of Days
Christianity is it about what is new. Typically ancient people don’t like change. We have to be prepared from what is new even if it is not as impressive.
Landmarks- Jacob had Bethel. We have had them in our lives and in the testimony . The ancient of days God knows every day- Jesus was here once, He is coming again and nothing is out the control in the divine calendar.

 

Fellowship Meeting Warrenpoint Jeff Oberg May 2019

Fellowship Meeting Reading – Warrenpoint – Jeff Oberg – 4 May 2019

The Goodness and Kindness of God

Rom 2:3-4. The goodness of God leads thee to repentance
Rom, 11:16-36 Goodness of God
Titus 3:4-15 Kindness and love to man
Jeremiah 24:1-7 Good figs

God’s goodness – we are here because of it.
Kindness in Titus same word
The unbeliever is to see the goodness of God in us evidence of His mercy – I don’t deserve it
Joy follows repentance
Prayer meeting should be deeper – it would help as to where we are going. Can we hear the marching in the mulberry trees? Not boots on the ground!


Fellowship Meeting Address – Warrenpoint – Jeff Oberg – 4 May 2019

Behold I do a New Thing

Isaiah 43:19 Behold I do a new thing
Proverbs 29:18 Without a vision my people cast off restraint (or perish
Isaiah 10:27 A remnant will return
Then for the scope Isaiah 43:1-44:10

God says that He will do ‘a new thing’ and nobody is going to hinder Him – The question is: Am I ready for that?. It is easy to say what is wrong, but can we be with the Lord in what He is doing?

In Isaiah 43 – we are redeemed, liberated under the power of attraction – that is not casting off restraint – His yoke. We cannot be sure about what is before us, but God has His plans. There may be things which we will need to review, to be serviceable to the Master.


Lord’s Day Reading – Warrenpoint – Jeff Oberg – 5 May 2019

Being Conscious of the Lord’s Presence

Matthew 18:20 two or three gather together in my name I am in the midst
John 20:19-21 Old stood in the midst
Acts 3:19 Times of refreshing from the presence of the lord
2 Chronicles 5:11-14 The glory filled the house of Jehovah
2 Corinthians 3:17-18 Where the Spirit of the Lord is there is liberty.

We are to be conscious of the divine presence. We can deduce from these scriptures that the Lord desires to come to us – we are to be conscious of that – not a technicality, and not linked to any position.
What we can enjoy where we are is because of mercy – by invitation.


Preaching – Warrenpoint – Jeff Oberg – 5 May 2019

Trumpets

Leviticus 25:8-9 The trumpet on the day of atonement
Joshua 6:1-7,20 The trumpet sounding and the walls falling
1 Corinthians 15:51-58 The trumpet will sound
The trumpet announces a year of freedom and joy – the jubilee.
Are you waiting for the last trumpet?


Preaching – Tunbridge Wells – Jeff Oberg – 12 May 2019

We Change; He Changes Not

Mal 3:1 I Jehovah change not
John 9:1-12, 24-38 – Being blind [before], now I see
1 Cor 15:51-53 – We shall be changed.
2 Peter 3:10-14 – We wait for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwells righteousness.

God does not change – We change – we need to be prepared for it: blindness to sight – glory to glory – and to be changed finally.