Bible Students Forum

Greetings,  forum

We have added a small forum to the site, for those who which to discuss the Scriptures, various features of the Divine Plan, Bible Student history, or just wish to fellowship. Some may remember in the past we had a very popular forum that proved to be a blessing to many, and there were many lively discussions. Unfortunately the  forum was hacked and destroyed and all the content was lost.

Some have requested a new forum be installed to continue these lively discussions, and after prayerful consideration, have installed a small forum and see where the Lord takes it.

To join just go to the link and create a simple account:

Bible Students Forum

The forum is still a work in process, so please be patient.





Staying Awake


I guess for most of us there have been times in our lives when we have wanted to stay awake all night. It might be because we wanted to read or study, maybe because we were excited about something happening the next day or because we were on a long journey and travelling at night was more convenient. It may have been because we had to work. Whatever the reason, it was sufficiently necessary or interesting to keep us awake. Yet as the night draws on, tiredness sets in and often we awaken in the morning with a book fallen to the floor or if driving we need to pull over and sleep. I have not worked or travelled at night very often, but have found that the hardest time was 3-4 am when my eyes wanted to close and concentration was at its worst.

I am sure we all remember the parable Jesus told about the 10 virgins, five who were wise and five who were foolish. All of whom fell asleep waiting for the bridegroom to arrive. Though they all fell asleep the wise had at least prepared for the bridegroom coming, they had tried to remain alert and prepared before sleep overwhelmed them.

Our primary goal in life must be to keep our eyes firmly fixed upon God’s Kingdom and the things that we so dearly believe in. Indeed the cry “Here is the bridegroom come out to meet him!”  has come(Matthew 25:6) Now Jesus said that upon his return, the angels would go out to gather the elect from the four corners of the earth. That gathering continues till this day, although in smaller number. What will our reaction then be? Will we be alert and prepared? Shall we have thoughts of this life and what we are leaving behind, or shall we go with fear?

Let us daily fix our eyes upon his coming Kingdom, for it will generate zeal to stay alert. It will generate a willingness to make the effort to develop a character pleasing to the Lord Jesus. It has been a long night, the ‘bridegroom’ has tarried long and it is now almost dawn. It is well worth considering and meditating upon what is to come, for it will help us remain awake. The Master has come, our hope is certain; as we read “Your eyes will see the King in his beauty and view a land that stretches far” Isaiah 33:17. At that time when the earth is ruled by a righteous King, there shall at last be peace. God’s righteous and just law shall go forth from Jerusalem, we read that:

“In the last days the mountain of the LORD’s temple will be established as chief among the mountains; it will be raised above the hills, and peoples will stream to it. Many nations will come and say, “Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob. He will teach us his ways, so that we may walk in his paths.” The law will go out from Zion, the word of the LORD from Jerusalem. He will judge between many peoples and will settle disputes for strong nations far and wide. They will beat their swords into ploughshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war any more. Every man will sit under his own vine and under his own fig-tree, and no-one will make them afraid, for the LORD Almighty has spoken. All the nations may walk in the name of their gods; we will walk in the name of the LORD our God for ever and ever.” Micah 4:1-5.

With this wonderful vision of the kingdom to come, a time when the nations will be ruled by God’s just law, is our resolve to “walk in the name of the Lord our God”? We have been called to know the one true God, our Creator, what an immense privilege! This calling is something we do not deserve and do not merit. It is a calling based upon the great mercy of our Father in heaven. So, how much does that coming Kingdom mean to us? Is it valuable enough to us, that we consider it worth staying awake for? Jesus frequently tells us throughout the gospel records to be watching and if we truly value and love our Lord and Master, we will obey this command.

But surely this obedience is not something we would find onerous. It is for our ultimate good, it is a command born out of love. It should be a joy to follow the Lord Jesus and his example. To encourage us we have a glorious view in the scriptures of the earth at that time when the Kingdom is established. In Isaiah we have many word pictures of the Kingdom age. For example:

“Strengthen the feeble hands, steady the knees that give way; say to those with fearful hearts, “Be strong, do not fear; your God will come, he will come with vengeance; with divine retribution he will come to save you.” Isa 35:4

That is our trust, that is our hope, God will indeed save us. Therefore let us be strong, let us hold fast to the end, for God’s word will never fail! The chapter continues

“Then will the eyes of the blind be opened and the ears of the deaf unstopped. Then will the lame leap like a deer, and the mute tongue shout for joy. Water will gush forth in the wilderness and streams in the desert. The burning sand will become a pool, the thirsty ground bubbling springs. “ Isa 35:5-7

No need for a national health service, no need to fear disability. No more will the earth be desolate and famine strike. But apply this to spiritual matters and the vision becomes even more thrilling. No more will mankind stumble around, groping as a blind man to find some meaning to life, limping along striving to make some sense out of the world and the many troubles that beset us all. No, the eyes of the spiritually blind will be open; the knowledge of God’s ways will set man truly free. The tongue shall be full of praise for our Creator and joy will fill the heart. Sorrow and sighing will flee away and this spiritually parched desert of life will be full of bubbling fresh springs of the water of life.

“Behold, I will create new heavens and a new earth. The former things will not be remembered, nor will they come to mind. But be glad and rejoice for ever in what I will create, for I will create Jerusalem to be a delight and its people a joy. I will rejoice over Jerusalem and take delight in my people; the sound of weeping and of crying will be heard in it no more. “Never again will there be in it an infant who lives but a few days, or an old man who does not live out his years; he who dies at a hundred will be thought a mere youth; he who fails to reach a hundred will be considered accursed. Isaiah 65v17-20

Such will be the contrast between the peace of the Kingdom age and life now, that our trials and sorrows will be but as a bad dream that vanishes when we awaken, vanishing like the morning mist when the sun shines. It will be a time of renewal, a time of refreshing and we will indeed sing for joy at the wonder of the new creation. Once again, the difference will be seen between the righteous and the unrighteous, the godly and the ungodly. God always hears the prayer of faith; He will bring peace and salvation.

“…they will be a people blessed by the LORD, they and their descendants with them. Before they call I will answer; while they are still speaking I will hear. The wolf and the lamb will feed together, and the lion will eat straw like the ox, but dust will be the serpent’s food. They will neither harm nor destroy on all my holy mountain,” says the LORD.” Isa 65:23-25

No, there shall be no harm in that glorious age for sorrow and sighing shall flee away. The great Prince of Peace will rule in righteousness and we shall be with him! Regarding the wisdom as righteousness of Christ Isaiah records:

“A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from his roots a Branch will bear fruit. The Spirit of the LORD will rest on him—the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding, the Spirit of counsel and of power, the Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD— and he will delight in the fear of the LORD. He will not judge by what he sees with his eyes, or decide by what he hears with his ears; but with righteousness he will judge the needy, with justice he will give decisions for the poor of the earth. He will strike the earth with the rod of his mouth; with the breath of his lips he will slay the wicked. Righteousness will be his belt and faithfulness the sash round his waist.

Creation itself shall be at peace and at rest:

“The wolf will live with the lamb, the leopard will lie down with the goat, the calf and the lion and the yearling together; and a little child will lead them. The cow will feed with the bear, their young will lie down together, and the lion will eat straw like the ox. The infant will play near the hole of the cobra, and the young child put his hand into the viper’s nest. They will neither harm nor destroy on all my holy mountain, for the earth will be full of the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea.” Isaiah 11:1-9

Peace will only come when the world is full of the knowledge of the Lord our God and mankind obeys His righteous and just law. His name alone shall be honoured.

We have been called according to God’s mercy to be part of that nation of kings and priests, to honour Him and reflect His glory. Of that city we are destined by God’s grace to inherit, we read:

“You have come to mount Zion, to the heavenly Jerusalem, the city of the living God. You have come to thousands upon thousands of angels in joyful assembly, to the church of the first born, who’s names are written in heaven. You have come to God, the judge of all men, to the spirits of righteous men made perfect, to Jesus the mediator of a new covenant” Hebrews 12:22.

Thus we shall be privileged to join in with that mighty throng singing “The song of Moses, the servant of God and the song of the Lamb” Rev 15:3. We have so much encouragement to keep us awake and striving to please our heavenly Father. We deserve nothing, yet have been offered everything! Surely as the scripture say’s “Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb” Rev 19:9.

This life is full of much sorrow and much sadness. But, and it’s a big BUT, we have so much to look forward too. We are called, as the scriptures say’s to be FIRST BORN SONS of the LIVING GOD! What a privilege, what a hope!

It is our Lord who has made all these things possible, he who has redeemed us by his own great sacrifice. John writes “This is how God showed his love among us, he sent his one and only son into the world that we might live through him”. John 4:9 Of Jesus it is written “Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends”. If we obey his commandments, we remain his friends.

Therefore, let us keep AWAKE! For if God loved us while we were yet sinners, how much more will we not be loved now we are reconciled to him through Christ. Let us then diligently, watch and pray for his coming, confessing our sin’s before him and resolving to do his will. Let us always keep in our mind’s eye that wonderful and exhilarating view of the Kingdom age, for it will spur us on, keeping us spiritually alert and filled with the oil of the word of our heavenly Father.

Difficult Times

tough-times-aheadThere is no doubt that we are living in the last days. Many of the faithful have lived in difficult times, but these times in which we live grow ever more evil. The age is materialistic and centered around self and self seeking. The solid foundations of the Truth are questioned in some quarters and zeal is something considered somewhat archaic. The words of Paul to Timothy come to mind:

“But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God — having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with them.” 2Timothy 3:1-5

Now if we stayed with verses 1-4 the description is very apt for the world in general but verse 4 applies it to those nominally disciples of Christ who have a ‘form of godliness’. In other words having the outward appearance of godliness, but not having a true desire in the heart to seek the Truth. Of this ilk are those who will say:

“Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation.”

Under these circumstances what can those who seek to be righteous do?

The answer to this question applies equally as much to those from any age who sincerely desire to love the Lord their God. We must hold fast to the solid foundation of scripture neither adding to it, nor taking from it, rightly dividing the word of Truth and being very clear in ones mind about what is believed and what is to be rejected. This is exactly what the faithful of old did and it is exactly what we must do in our day and age.

There is a need to be definite and uncompromising in ones stand for the Truth and sound doctrine. Do not follow the crowd, but be willing to stand up for what is right just as did Daniel in his day.

But how should we speak of the true gospel message and the sound teaching of scripture? Well, by speaking the words of scripture, not embellishing scripture overly with personal feelings and experiences, but speaking the Truth in its purity and simplicity. Proverbs says:

“In the multitude of words there wanteth not sin: but he that refraineth his lips is wise.” Prov 10:19

And Ecclesiates:

“The more the words, the less the meaning, and how does that profit anyone?” Eccl 6:11

These thoughts apply to all that we do, be it proclaiming the Truth, giving an exhortation or giving a sermon. The whole objective must be to speak the words of God, not propound our own ‘crotchets and quavers.’

How can we then prepare ourselves for speaking the sound words of scripture? Well only by knowing the word of God! Do not be content with the elementary things of the Truth but rather try to understand some of the deeper things. Bible study is essential, but not all are for example inclined towards wanting to study the meanings of Hebrew and Greek words, understanding the ‘signs of the times’, working out the relationships between scriptural characters, knowing the history of the nations and kings or gaining a deep understanding of the furnishings and ritual of the Tabernacle or Temple. These things undoubtedly have their place, but we each have different interests and abilities. Equally of interest and of great importance is to study the life of Christ, comprehend his teachings, understand and develop the fruits of the spirit that Paul speaks of, learn the proverbs and how to apply them in our lives or study the profound subject of prayer. What ever our level of knowledge, interest, or ability every single one of us will benefit from reading the scriptures daily by following the Bible Companion or other method that ensures we read the totality of the Bible regularly. There is no substitute for regular reading, yet not just merely reading, but also thinking about what we read and then putting it into practice. These two aspects cannot be emphasized enough, think and put into practice.

Who would go to college from work to learn more about their job and not then use what they had learned? Nobody would go to that effort and not make use of knowledge gained. How then can the Truth be any different? No, we should the more so act upon it.

Finally we must always remember that we need a balance in all that we do, think and say. Do not discourage by thinking only upon the hardships of the way but consider also to the joys that lie ahead.

The hardships are there, the need for warning always present because of our human nature, but we also very much need the encouragement to persevere and there is indeed great joy ahead. There are promises from God so wondrous in their scope, that they are beyond our full comprehension and appreciation. Paul writes that we shall be made to be like the Lord Jesus Christ:

“If we have been united with him like this in his death, we will certainly also be united with him in his resurrection.” Rom 6:5

”…who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.” Phil 3:21

Finally by way of encouragement we can think of these words penned by John:

“How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.” 1John 3:2

What manner of love indeed Yahweh has shown to us that we who are but dust are called to be His children. Should we be discouraged by the need for separation and hardship along the way? Should we be discouraged when we fail and come short? No, not at all! These things that befall the faithful are cause for perseverance, joy and encouragement. The trials confirm that we are called of God, that He treats us as His children and that He is merciful. This is the response of faith:

“Everyone who has this hope in him purifies himself, just as he is pure. “ 1John 3:3

“To whom shall we go?”

to-whom-shall-we-goThese were the words of Simon Peter as recorded by John. Following the miraculous sign of the feeding of the five thousand Jesus had spoken at length of the significance of this sign. He had compared and contrasted the provision he would make with the giving of manna in the wilderness. “I am the bread of life. Your fathers did eat the manna in the wilderness, and they died. This is the bread which cometh down out of heaven, that a man may eat thereof, and not die … yea and the bread which I will give is my flesh, for the life of the world” (John 6. 48-51 RV).

This caused confusion among his listeners but instead of explaining what he meant he followed up with more “hard sayings”. Even his disciples began to grumble amongst themselves: “This is a hard teaching. Who can accept it?” (v.60 NIV). Jesus, of course, was aware of this but still made no attempt to explain his words. As a result: “From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him” (v.66). When Jesus spoke to the twelve, asking them if they also were going to forsake him, Peter replied: “Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life. And we believe and are sure that thou art that Christ, the Son of the living God” (vv.68,69).

Peter still did not understand; Jesus still did not explain. But Peter refused to go away, he refused to follow those who had turned away. He gave two reasons for this refusal: (1) There was nowhere else to go, and (2) Whatever the difficulties, they had sufficient positive evidence to convince them that, come what may, they had to maintain their faith in Jesus. Their faith was so strong that it amounted to certain knowledge. “We believe and are sure that thou art that Christ, the Son of the living God”. It was unthinkable that they should turn away from him. To go away was to go nowhere. With all the positive evidence they had, the last thing they thought of doing was to indulge in negative thinking, allow doubts to enter in and then turn away.

The disciples could not understand Jesus’ sayings; Jesus did not attempt to explain them or enlarge upon them. Whatever the difficulties, he expected them to trust him and maintain their confidence in him.

It has not been unusual for God’s servants to have difficulty in understanding God’s ways: how He was working in their own lives or the lives of others. The Psalmist was puzzled by the apparent prosperity of the wicked and was tempted to say: “Verily I have cleansed my heart in vain, and washed my hands in innocency. For all the day long have I been plagued, and chastened every morning.” It was only when he “went into the sanctuary of God” and considered the “end” of the wicked that he found the answer to his problem (Psalm 73. 1-17). Jeremiah had a similar difficulty (Jer. 12.1,2). David could not understand why, when it was he who had sinned in numbering God’s people, it was the people who suffered.(1 Chron. 21.17) The prophet Habakkuk had two problems. First he could not understand why God did not punish His people for their wickedness (Hab. 1.1-4). Then, when God said He had already planned such a punishment and would be using the Babylonians to execute it, the prophet found it hard to accept that God should use such an evil nation to carry out His work. “Thou that art of purer eyes than to behold evil, and that canst not look on perverseness, wherefore lookest thou upon them that deal treacherously, and boldest thy peace when the wicked swalloweth up the man that is more righteous than he” (Hab. 1.13 RV).

Perhaps the clearest illustration of this problem is to be found in the experiences of Job. We know how greatly he suffered. At first, despite the extremity of his sufferings, he accepted them without question. “Naked came I out of my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return thither: the Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.” Even when provoked by his wife he stood firm: “What? shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil?” (Job 1.21; 2.10). Sadly, provoked by the glib “explanations” and totally false accusations of his so-called friends. Job eventually went too far in questioning God’s ways and, in the end, God Himself challenged him. “Brace yourself like a man; I will question you, and you shall answer me. Would you discredit my justice? Would you condemn me to justify yourself?” Job had to admit the justice of God’s reproof: “I know that you can do all things; no plan of yours can be thwarted …. Surely I spoke of things I did not understand, things too wonderful for me to know” (Job 40.7,8;42.2,3 NIV).

God did not offer Job or his friends any explanation of the way He was working in Job’s life. By word and by the manifestation of His power in a great storm He impressed on Job the fact that He was the great creator and sustainer of all things, of infinite power and wisdom, in full control of every part of His creation. Job was compelled to confess that all he could do was to accept God’s will and God’s ways without questioning them. “I am unworthy—how can I reply to you? I put my hand over my mouth. I spoke once, but I have no answer—twice, but I will say no more” (Job 40.4,5 NIV).

We must expect to have to face tests of a similar kind; to: have experiences which we cannot understand, which are hard for us to accept. Sometimes, in the mercy of God, over a period of time we begin to discern a purpose in those experiences, but not always. We have to learn to simply accept. This surely is one of the greatest tests of our faith and our trust in God; to accept where we cannot understand; to accept that our God is in full control of our lives and is of infinite wisdom; more than this, that He is our loving heavenly Father and that in all His dealings with us He is expressing His love—and never more so than in our severest trials. (Heb. 12.4-13).

That was true of the experiences of His only begotten Son. His supreme sacrifice on the cross, when, for a moment, even the Son felt forsaken by his Father, was God’s greatest expression of His love for His creation. It is no good thinking we can understand this or explain it in coldly logical terms; we cannot. So it is sometimes in our lives. We have to learn to accept, to let go— let go our doubts, our anxieties, our mistrust. We once heard a speaker coin the expression: “Let go! Let God!”—let God take over completely. This is never going to be easy, but this confident faith and implicit trust in Him and submission to His will is surely what He is looking for above all else. We have to be prepared for our loving heavenly Father to take extreme measures if He judges them to be necessary to help us to develop and manifest these qualities.

The alternative is unthinkable. “Lord, to whom shall we go?” To turn away as some of those early disciples of Jesus did is to admit failure; to say, in effect, that God has tried us beyond what we are able to bear, and the inspired apostle has assured us that He will never do that (1 Cor. 10.13). But we must allow God to decide what we are able to bear. He has promised that He will be with us in all our trials, that He will never leave us nor forsake us (Heb. 13.5).

In the end it is our faith which will win through; our faith in God, our faith in His love, our faith in His promises. “Thou hast the words of eternal life.” By the grace of God there will come a day when we shall know even as we are known, when we shall understand all things, when we shall be able to look back and see a pattern in our lives wrought in love and wisdom by our God to lead us to perfection.

Your Reasonable Service

living-sacrificesPaul wrote “I beseech you therefore brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, which is your reasonable service” Rom12:1

We would do well to constantly keep in mind those words of encouragement and exhortation. That word reasonable means rational. Based upon what we know, based upon the hope set before us, based upon the ultimate sacrifice that was made on our behalf, to live our lives, as a living sacrifice is indeed the rational outcome. We are no longer our own, we have been purchased at a great price. More than this we were dead and are alive in Christ. Our past life should be gone, the old man must be crucified and the new man grow in the image of Christ. Paul wrote:

“Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:” Phil 2:5

Paul was uncompromising in what he wrote. There are no if’s and but’s, no could or might, but a definite this is what you should do! There is a tendency in our day and age to avoid confrontation, to avoid directness and sometimes the result can be a dilution of the message. Paul however makes a very clear declaration as to what our correct attitude of mind must be.

Now this concept of our lives being living sacrifices is further expanded in verse 2, ‘be not conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind’. Now conformed means to be in harmony, to be in submission. That is something we plainly cannot be for there is no harmony with, and no submission to the world and its ways. There are no halfway measures, no compromise. Yet conformity and compromise is what we naturally tend towards. Our human nature tends towards the world and all it holds, for such things are natural to us.

On the other hand our minds need to be transformed, changed and remodelled. This is a process as Paul states by the renewing of our minds. The antagonism between what is natural and this renewal process is the inner battle that we all face daily. Paul wrote eloquently of that inner dialogue in Romans 7:14-25. Paul writes:

I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. Rom 7:14-19

O how we can all echo those sentiments! What we know to be right, what we want to do, we do not do. What we know to be wrong, what we desire not to do, those things we do.

Wretched indeed is our state, unless we offer our lives as a living sacrifice, unless we are transformed in our thinking and attitude. There is no mystery as to how we do this; there is no mystical way it will happen. The manner of our renewal is perfectly clear, put on the mind of Christ! To do this takes effort. As we read the scriptures, as we understand and learn, as we grow in love for our Master, that transforming process will take place.

On the other hand if we conform to the thinking and ways of the world, we shall be ‘still born’. The transformation will not take place and our lives will have been lived in vanity.

The principles of scripture are directly opposite to the conformity to human nature. Paul writes:

“I say (through the grace given unto me) to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think.”

Now conformity to the world teaches self-elevation, ambition, self-assertion, self-reliance and self-confidence. The transformation by taking on the mind of Christ teaches, humility, trust, faith, self-effacement and service. It is an attitude of mind that carries out honest self-examination and weighs self against the example of Christ. Nevertheless, this is only the beginning of the process, for self-examination must then lead to action by making the necessary adjustments to change our disposition to be more Christ like.

In other words we must “think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith.” No matter what we consider to be our abilities, skills, knowledge or status in a worldly sense, we have come to Christ and a measure of faith in spite of these, not because of them. Further, in a spiritual sense, we have no abilities, skills, knowledge, or duty that has not been given to us! What we most certainly do not have is status!

It is well within the capacity of every single brother or sister, no matter what his or her abilities, to keep the Truth bright, alive and shining in their lives. It lies within the capacity of all to have a living faith. That living faith will be an example to those about them, both within the Truth and without. A living faith manifested by giving that ‘reasonable service’ Paul speaks about will be demonstrated by the works of faith. James states quite plainly that faith without works is dead!

Our Heavenly Father is just; He has not called us to failure, but rather to inherit eternal life. He has seen fit to extend His mercy towards us, to call us out to have a part in His purpose. He will not test us beyond that which we can bear, He is not willing that any should perish. The only source of failure is us! Yet we all have the potential to be transformed from something ignoble, into a vessel fit for use.

Now we need to be clear that to live a life as a ‘living sacrifice’ does not imply a disregard for temporal things, for indeed diligence in daily life is part of our reasonable service. Indeed Paul tells us “to provide things honest in the sight of all men.” We need to provide for families, for work in the Truth and for all the many things needed in service to the Lord. But we do these things recognising that ultimately it is God that provides and in all things giving thanks unto Him. In all that we undertake, we must act as ‘ambassadors’ of the Truth setting an example for those about us, but at the same time maintaining a distance from conformity to the world.

If we daily contemplate the mercy and blessings that our Creator has graciously bestowed upon us, being thankful for each new day of life and opportunity, then that transformation of mind will gradually take place. Our perspectives will change, our values will change and our aspirations will change. We will live each day of our lives as ‘living sacrifices’ to the Lord our God.

The effort required now, will pale into insignificance when compared the eternal joy of being invited to take a place in that glorious Kingdom to come. When we are permitted to see the Masters smiling face and “to see the King in all his beauty and view that land that stretches afar” it will be all worthwhile.

Therefore despite our frailty and weakness let us all hold fast, continuing instant in prayer and striving to be faithful in all things, for great indeed is the life set before us. Life as it was meant to be. Life in harmony with our Creator, life in harmony with His great purpose, life in harmony with creation. When we consider how undeserving we are, O how we are moved to say with Paul:

“O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out! For who hath known the mind of the Lord? or who hath been his counsellor? Or who hath first given to him, and it shall be recompensed unto him again? For of him, and through him, and to him, are all things: to whom be glory for ever. Amen.” Rom 8:33-36

The Wolf

images8ekhpq2pIn the New Testament the wolf is a common symbol of the Apostasy. The wolf attacks the flock, killing the sheep, but bears and lions also do this. Why are these two animals not chosen to symbolize the Apostasy? The Apostle Paul writes “I know that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock ” (Acts 20:29) Here we see that the Apostasy would develop after Paul’s death. The Apostasy was to disguise itself, pretending to be the true church. “Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves.” (Matt 7:15)

The Apostasy existed in the day of Jesus, for Luke 10:3 says “Go your ways; behold, I send you out as lambs in the midst of wolves..” Paid overseers of the Church abandon the sheep when they see the wolf coming. John 10:12 says; “He who is a hireling, and not a shepherd, who is not the owner of the sheep, beholds the wolf coming, and leaves the sheep, and flees, and the wolf snatches them, and scatters them.” Let us go back to the original question: why is the Apostasy symbolized by a wolf and not a bear or a lion? To answer this question, we must look at what a wolf meant to all the people of the first century. According to ancient tradition, a wolf raised twins called Romulus and Remus, who were said to be the founders of Rome.

The Bible’s wolf in sheep’s clothing is Rome pretending to be Christian. The great Apostasy is none other than the Roman Catholic Church! We are warned by Jesus and Paul of this wolf-like Apostasy. This warning is as valid today as it was in the first century. Let us avoid the Roman wolf and stand apart from him.

The Struggle Between Truth and Error

untitledOne of the results of the fall of Adam and Eve was a struggle which began between truth and error. Those who do evil are called the offspring of the serpent, while those who do good are called the offspring of the woman. Genesis 3:15 says, “From now on you (the serpent) and the woman will be enemies and your offspring and her offspring will be enemies.”

Jesus spoke of the struggle between good and evil several times. “When the world hates you, remember it hated me before it hated you. The world would love you if you belonged to it, but you don’t. I chose you to come out of the world, and so it hates you.” (John 15:18-19)

In the Sermon on the Mount Jesus said, “God blesses you when you are mocked and persecuted and lied about because you are my followers. Be happy about it! Be very glad… And remember, the ancient prophets were persecuted too.” (Matthew 5:11-12)

Hebrews 11 lists the things faithful believers have endured in the past. In part it says, “But others die rather than turn from God and be free… Some were mocked, and their backs were cut open with whips. Others were chained in dungeons.” (Hebrews 11:35-36)

The book of Revelation is largely about the struggle between truth and error. “I saw under the altar the souls of all who had been martyred for the word of God and for being faithful in their witness.” (Revelation 6:9)

The struggle between truth and error began with the serpent’s temptation of Eve resulting in the fall of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden.

God’s Witnesses

witnessesIsaiah says, “You are My witnesses declares the LORD.” (Isaiah 43:10) The rest of Isaiah 43 shows that God’s witnesses are the Jews. For example, verse 22 says, “Yet you have not called on Me, O Jacob; but you have become weary of Me, O Israel.” The Jews are the unwilling witnesses to the truth of the Bible since their unusual history was mapped out in advance in its pages.  The Bible says the Jews will be hated everywhere. “I will make them a terror and an evil for all kingdoms of the earth, as a reproach and a proverb, a taunt and a curse in all places where I will scatter them.” (Jeremiah 24:9)

They would be scattered to every nation. The Bible says, “Moreover, the LORD will scatter you among all the peoples, from one end of the earth to the other…” (Deuteronomy 28:64; see also Ezekiel 20:23)

It would seem obvious that if the Jews were spread thin over all the earth, they would disappear marrying the Gentiles and blending in with them, but God said this would not happen. “‘For I am with you,’ declares the LORD, ‘to save you; for I will destroy completely all the nations where I have scattered you, only I will not destroy you completely.’“ (Jeremiah 30:11)

Seventy years after the Jews went into captivity in Babylon they returned to the Holy Land under Ezra and Nehemiah just as Jeremiah 29:10 predicted.

Deuteronomy says a nation symbolized by an eagle would fight against the Jews. (Deuteronomy 28:49-50) The standard of the Roman Empire was the eagle.

The Jews would be, “led captive into all nations” until the end times (Luke 21:24)

They would return to Israel gradually. (Ezekiel 37:1-10) It was 51 years from the first Zionist conference until Israel became a nation in 1948.

They were to become one nation and not two, like they had been before. (Ezekiel 37:21-22)

This was an unusual prophesy happening to the Jews alone. Truly they are God’s witnesses.

Believing in the True Doctrine

doctrineIt is in fashion at this time to believe it does not matter what you believe as long as you believe Christ is your Savior, and lead a good life. People who believe this ignore the fact that the reason Eve sinned was she believed a lie! It is important to believe the truth because false doctrine leads to sin.

Solomon knew this because he said, “Zeal without knowledge is not good; a person who moves too quickly may go the wrong way.” (Proverbs 19:2)

The New Testament also says false doctrine leads to sin. I Timothy 6:4 says, “Anyone who teaches anything different is both conceited and ignorant. Such a person has an unhealthy desire to quibble over the meaning of words. This stirs up arguments ending in jealousy, fighting, slander, and evil suspicions.” Paul tells us we must avoid having, “…lustful passions as the Pagans do in their ignorance of God and his ways.” (I Thessalonians 4:5)

Not only does the Bible tell us that lies lead to sin, it also tells us that Truth leads to righteousness. Paul said, “This same Good News…is changing lives everywhere. Just as it changed yours…” (Colossians 1:6) This is why Jesus said, “You are truly my disciples if you keep obeying my teachings, and you will know the Truth, and the Truth will set you free.” (John 8:31-32)

It is common these days to say right living is important: right doctrine is unimportant. This view ignores the fact that sin entered the world because Eve believed a lie. False doctrine leads to false practice as untruth leads to sin – thus it is important, not only to avoid false doctrine, but also to learn and to practice the teachings of Jesus.

Christian Meditation

meditationMeditation is becoming popular among everyday Americans. People have taken religion out of the picture and have turned it into an academic program known as “mindfulness studies.” For many people, meditation conjures up thoughts of someone with a shaved head or wearing a brightly colored robe moaning and humming aimlessly for hours on end. But what is meditation, really?

What is Meditation?

Meditation is a purposeful act. It means to think about, reflect or ponder. Meditation isn’t a complex practice; it simply means to think deeply and intently.

What does the Bible say we should meditate about? Consider King David’s example in Psalm 1:2: “But his delight is in the law of the Lord; and in his law doth he meditate day and night.” Everybody with a functioning brain meditates daily; however, the content meditated on is up to the individual.

God gives a blueprint of what we should think about in Philippians 4:8: “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.” If we think more and more on the things of God, it enables Him to build within us a mind like His.

The Apostle Paul continued in verse 9: “Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you.” God will be with us if we follow the instruction in verse 8. By meditating on what we learn, we are more likely to apply it.

Distractions are the main obstacle to meditation. It is easy to be distracted. But meditation requires us to put away all distractions and seek to capture deep thought. We must resist distractions if we want to think more like God.

To grow spiritually, it is important to combine our Bible study and prayer with deep, rock-solid meditation. A good parallel is the digestion of physical food. What we eat isn’t immediately usable to the body. The nutrients in our food must be digested and distributed throughout the body in order to benefit it. The same applies spiritually. The spiritual food we eat (through Bible study) must be digested and absorbed (through application in our life).

Meditation is a powerful tool. It doesn’t require any fancy pose or specific regimen. A person can meditate on just about anything—it doesn’t have to be a spiritual topic. While it isn’t exclusive to your spiritual life or your faith, meditation is a key spiritual tool. The goal of spiritual meditation is to develop a stronger relationship with God as you learn to think more like Him. So use meditation to aid your Bible study and prayer. Try it out—think on the things of God!

Why Meditation?

Why should Christians meditate? Taking time out of your day to do what at first impression seems like staring off into space just doesn’t seem right. However, there are countless benefits to meditation.

What we feed our minds with is what we produce, in the form of our thoughts, words or actions. Jesus Christ Himself said that, “out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh” (Matthew 12:34).

Your mind is like your stomach: It constantly needs to be fed. It is up to us to feed it a proper diet. Just as a healthy diet produces wonderful physical benefits, so a proper diet of meditation does bring wonderful mental and spiritual benefits.

1. Meditation nourishes our conversion.

When we meditate properly, it aids our conversion process. Conversion requires a change of heart and mind. Think about this in terms of what fills our mind. That is why the Apostle Paul told Christians to think on the things that please God the carnal thoughts of man (Philippians 4:8). Meditation reveals to God a lot about our hearts. God knows all that we think about (1 Chronicles 28:9). Knowing that God is aware of our every thought can be a pretty humbling fact. Our thoughts show God how committed we are to obeying Him and how much we try to emulate Him and live His way of life.

2. Meditate on godly things.

Meditation opens up our mind for God to fill us with His thoughts and desires. This helps us to think like He does (Philippians 2:5).

Filling your mind with godly things and keeping it focused on the goal of becoming more like God helps you to keep from falling back into the ways of the world. If we open our minds for God to fill, He will provide us with deeper understanding that we can use to the fullest in our lives.

3. Meditation fortifies prayer and study.

We should pause, once in a while, and meditate, and let God talk to us in prayer. When we pray we talk to God. When we study, God teaches us. But when we meditate, God is able to put His thoughts into our mind. Through meditation, we give God the ability to let His words of life sink into us. It is important that we take time to listen to God and think upon the meaning of those words for us and how they can be applied.

4. Meditation protects our mind.

Meditation is an effective tool to ensure that we put the right thoughts into our mind. Sometimes the ability to maintain deep, continuous and constructive thought can be a challenge. This struggle occurs when we allow our minds to stagnate. Meditation can combat a stagnant mind.

Our environment, our daily interactions with others, and our own problems and difficulties can be some of our greatest distractions. They can occupy our mind, preventing it from growing spiritually. Our daily responsibilities can keep our minds occupied from the moment we wake up to the moment we go to sleep.

Meditation can keep us from falling into a meaningless rut, and it promotes an active mind that engages in constructive thought. Don’t allow your daily cares to consume all of your attention; meditate to embed right and meaningful thoughts into your mind.

How to Meditate?

True meditation requires us to fill our mind with God and His Word. There are several steps we can take that will help us to really learn how to establish effective meditation. Below are some points to help you improve your meditation.

1. Meditate after you study.

Meditation can enhance your study by helping you remember what you have studied. It is important to turn over and over in your mind what you study as you study. Don’t just study as a routine—study to remember. Apply what we learn in our studies—meditation will enable you to do that. The more you think about something after you have studied it, the deeper will be your desire to apply what you have learned (Psalm 1:2). By thinking deeply about what you study, you engrave God’s Word and truth into your mind. Meditate on your Bible study. Adding meditation to your Bible study routine will help you to remember and do.

2. Couple meditation with prayer.

Another great benefit of meditation is that it allows you to enhance your prayer life. While meditation allows God to talk to you, it also can improve your interaction with Him on your knees. We can make our prayer life more dynamic by pausing to think from time to time during our prayers. This will make your connection with God more real. Pause and focus on God. Focus on who He is and what He does. Doing so can bring great energy to your prayer closet.

3. Follow King David’s example of daily meditation.

Look to the example of King David to learn how to meditate. His life provided a clear example on how to meditate. “I remember the days of old; I meditate on all thy works; I muse on the work of thy hands” (Psalm 143:5). David made spiritual meditation a habit.

Meditation shouldn’t be a once-in-awhile activity that you check off your to-do list after your weekly stroll through the park. David meditated daily.

God desires that we draw closer to Him through meditation each and every day. David was a man after God’s own heart who knew how to meditate. It helped him build a strong relationship with God. To effectively build strong meditation habits, meditation must become a daily exercise. It will become more natural the more frequent you do it. Begin building this habit by meditating each day after your morning prayers.

4. Meditate day and night.

David said in Psalm 1:2 that he meditated “day and night.” Meditation is a constant practice—it is a part of your daily life. Once you develop meditation as a daily custom, work on setting aside time both in the morning and at night to muse on the things of God. A good way to instill this day-and-night habit is to meditate after you pray on your knees in the morning and in the evening.

5. Make it constant.

The more you practice meditation, the easier it will be to develop it into a perpetual habit. Meditating every day, day and night, will help you eventually to develop this constant habit of meditation. Pause every once in a while throughout the day and think deeply about your work, decisions, conversations and even those beautiful views as you enjoy your drive to and from work. Strive to make meditation a constant as you go about your day-to-day activities.

This is just a progression to build on to enhance our meditation. Start with the basics: Work on making meditation a daily habit. Then work on setting aside time to meditate day and night. Eventually, if you stick with it, it becomes a habit. Then work to incorporate meditation throughout your day. Meditate constantly to help fill your mind with thinking that is in line with God’s.

Remember, meditation is about ridding Satan’s influence from our thinking and filling our minds with the things of God. Follow David’s example on how to meditate and you will more effectively serve God just as he did.

"But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and [be] ready always to [give] an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear" – 1 Peter 3:15