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Tuesday, March 28, 2017

The Piercing of Jesus' Side

The Piercing of Jesus' Side

"One of the soldiers pierced Jesus' side with a spear, bringing a sudden flow of blood and water!" (John 19:34).

One tree has been the channel of all the evil that is to be found in the world.

Another tree has been the channel of all the good that is to be found in the world.

From the fruit of the tree of which Eve partook, has arisen ...

all the sin,
all the care,
all the sorrow,
all the disease, and
all the death that are to be seen on every side.

From the fruit of another tree, that on which Jesus bore our sins, has arisen ....

all the grace,
all the holiness,
all the hope,
all the consolation,
which the redeemed have received from above.

Oh, that we might gaze upon that Cross, and in faith behold Him who hung there! O blessed Redeemer, grant us the Spirit of grace and supplication that we may look upon You whom our sins have pierced, and mourn; that we may again look upon You, and rejoice in such a loving Saviour, in such a blood-bought salvation!

Reader, go near to that Cross! As John and the faithful women stood beneath its shadow - so you likewise go and behold the Lamb of God slain for sinners!

Behold that head, lately anointed with fragrant spikenard - now encircled with a chaplet of sharp thorns!

Behold that face, fairer than the children of men, upon which angels delighted to gaze - covered with mingled blood and spittle!

Behold those eyes, which beheld the city with such compassion, which shed tears over it, as at the tomb of Bethany - now growing dim in death!

Behold those ears, which never in vain heard the cry of sorrow or distress - now greeted with bitter mockings and reproaches!

Behold those lips,  which spoke as never man spoke, which said to the widow, "Weep not," and to the waves, "Peace, be still" - now swollen with blows and parched with thirst!

Behold those hands, which healed the leper by their touch, which lifted up the daughter of Jairus and restored her to life - now torn by nails!

Behold those feet, which ever went about doing good, which trod the waves of Gennesaret - now sore wounded, and painfully transfixed to the cruel wood!

Behold that body, so holy, so chaste, so pure - suffering unknown agonies!

And now behold the heart of Jesus, so tender and true, so kind and loving - pierced with the soldier's spear!

Ah, it was a savage,cruel hand that inflicted this last wound on the body of our Lord! There was no need for it. The spirit of the Redeemer had fled. His enemies had done their worst. He could no longer suffer pain or grief. But that spear-wound was, as it were, a mark of the hatred which still existed against the Crucified. Deeply too must that wide gash from which flowed forth blood and water, have reached to the heart of John and the godly women who yet stood by.

What does that spear, that pierced side, tell of man's sin in all periods of the world's history?

Let every Christian look at his own sin, and see how it has wounded his Lord. Surely it has been as the scourge, the nail, the spear. It has increased the burden of guilt which He bore; it has added to the sufferings which He endured. How utterly should we loath and forsake the sin that wrought the sufferings and death of our best Friend!

An American Indian was persuaded,sorely against his will, to murder a dear friend. After he had done the deed, a terrible remorse seized him. He took the knife which he had used,and having dug a deep hole on the north side of a tree, he threw it in that he might never more see it, and that it might lie beneath a spot upon which the sun would never shine.

Let me ever thus regard my sin! My sin is that which has wounded the One who bore me nothing but good will, and who ever sought my peace. My sin is that which has slain my Friend, my Saviour, my Redeemer! May I ever regard it as an accursed thing! May I never more look upon it with favor, but with the utmost abhorrence. May I keep far away, shrinking from its very touch, as the deadliest pollution!

How utterly we should loathe and forsake the sin that wrought the sufferings and death of our best Friend!

Ah, give me, Lord, the tender heart
That trembles at the approach of sin.
A godly fear of sin impart,
Implant and root it deep within;
That I may fear Your gracious power,
And never dare to offend You more.

But what does that spear-wound tell of divine mercy, grace,and salvation?

Here in the riven side of Christ, is the cleft of the rock, the safe hiding place, where the sinner may flee and find rest and safety. In every accusation of conscience abide here, for "there is no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus." In every season of doubt or anxiety, you may repose here, for Christ has said, "In Me you shall have peace." In all the storms of affliction that may fall upon you, in the burning heat of noon, in the wearing toil and hurry of life's work - you may in a moment find consolation by turning to the Saviour; for it is written, "A man shall be as a hiding-place from the wind, and a covert from the tempest; as rivers of water in a dry place; as the shadow of a great rock in a weary land."

Whenever the adversary tempts or affrights you, whenever you experience unkindness or injurious treatment at the hands of others - flee again and again to Christ as the refuge of your soul.

A story is told of a dove pursued by a hawk that flew into the bosom of one who was walking over a field. He looked tenderly upon the bird fluttering with terror, and said to it, "I will not give you up to your enemy, since you come to me for sanctuary." Even so may the persecutions of the world - flee straight to the Friend of sinners with the prayer, "O deliver not the soul of Your dove unto the multitude of the enemies."

But John tells us that from the side of Christ, there flowed water and blood. It affords a testimony to the accuracy of the narrative, for we are told that long-continued agony such as Jesus had suffered has a tendency to produce a quantity of water around the heart.

It affords also an illustration of those streams of salvation that come to us through the Saviour's crucifixion. It shadows forth the blessings that follow from His death.

It tells of the blood that cleanses from all sin. It tells of the fountain open, and open for you.

Are you just waking from the sleep of sin, from a life-time of indifference to the service of God? The message is for you: "Wash, and be clean!"

Are you a backslider? Have you turned away from Christ? Do you feel as if such sin could never be forgiven? Yet despair not. True you have brought dishonor upon His name; you have said in fact to those around you, "I have tried the world, and I have tried Christ - and the world is the best master." Yet once again turn back to Him. He will pardon. "Wash, and be clean."

Are you a believer clinging only to Jesus - and yet distressed on account of your manifold sins and infirmities? Here is your safety, here is your comfort - a continual resort to the open fountain. By it is the only place on earth where every sin withers and dies - and where grace and holiness and love thrive and grow.

For with the efficacy of His blood to cleanse, does Jesus ever join the power of the Spirit, the living water - to renew and sanctify. You cannot separate them. "The water and the blood" will ever flow on together. Both are given through Christ's meritorious suffering and death on the Cross. And He gives not one without the other. Grace to forgive, and grace to sanctify - both or neither will Jesus bestow.

As you look to Him daily to wash you from your sins in His own blood - so likewise look to Him every hour for fresh supplies of His quickening, sanctifying Spirit.

Flow, my tears, flow still faster,
Thus my guilt and sin bemoan;
Mourn, my heart, in deeper anguish,
Over sorrows not your own!

See a spotless Lamb draw nigh,
To Jerusalem, to die
For your sins, the sinless One.
Think! ah, think! what you have done!

Can we view the Saviour given
To the smiter's hands for us?
Can we all unmoved, unhumbled,
See Him mocked and slighted thus?

View the thorny chaplet made
For His meek and silent head,
Hear the loud and angry din,
And not tremble for our sin?

Must I, Jesus, thus behold Thee
In Your toil and sorrow here?
Can I nothing better yield Thee
Than my unavailing tear?

Lamb of God! I weep for Thee!
Weep, Your cruel Cross to see -
Weep, for death that death destroys!
Weep,for grief that brings me joys!

Poor is all that I can offer,
Soul and body while I live;
Take it, O my Saviour, take it -
I have nothing more to give.

Come, and in this heart remain,
Let each enemy be slain -
Let me live and die with Thee;
To Your Kingdom, welcome me.

~George Everard~

(The End)

Friday, March 24, 2017

The Love of the Holy Spirit

The Love of the Holy Spirit

"Now I urge you, brethren, by our Lord Jesus Christ and by the love of the Spirit, to strive together with me in your prayers to God for me" (Romans 15:30).

"The love of the Spirit" is here set before us as a motive for earnest and sincere prayer. And it may well strengthen us in this blessed privilege. For in His love, He will aid us in our prayers. He will remove our hindrances. He will quicken our hearts, that our prayers may be real and true.

"The love of the Spirit!" Do we not often forget this? We think often, it may be, of the love of the Father and of the love of the Son, nor can we think too much of either. But let us not forget to ponder the love of the blessed Spirit, the Comforter, the Friend who takes the place of the Lord Jesus, the One who has so much to do with the peace and salvation of every child of God.

But how may we see clearly His great love toward us?

Look at it in this light: Suppose there were one for whom you had never cared. You never wished to have his company. You never desired him to visit you in your home. You did many things that pained and grieved Him - and yet all the while He was thinking of you in kindness, and giving proofs of His affection. One day He sent you a most valuable book, one so full of wise counsel and advice that while you followed it, you could never fail to take the best path in life. But more than this. Your friend watched your life, and saw dangers before you that you could not see, and so again and again He sent you a special message or direction, and whenever you followed it you found you had done right.

Does not this give us one view of the love of the Spirit of God? It tells us of His love to His people - even before we loved Him.

For what a book of love and wisdom is that which He inspired holy men of God to write! It is He who has especially given us this book. Every part of it is from Him, and every part of it is calculated to guide and direct us.

It gives plain direction how to avoid sin.
It points out every peril that lies in your path.
It reveals the way of peace and of life everlasting.

And what thousands of hearts have been upheld and comforted in days of sorrow and distress, by the promises here given to us! Shall we not see in this the love of the Spirit, as also in the inward suggestions and warnings and monitions of conscience which He stirs up to lead men to a better life?

But still more do we trace the Spirit's love in His giving life to dead souls, and thus drawing them into fellowship with God. Nothing is a greater proof of love in a servant of Christ, than in his going on day by day seeking the salvation of another who returns only evil for good, and whose spirit and conduct cause him nothing but sorrow. And does not the Spirit find in each of us at first the very same thing? Does He not find our rebellious will utterly opposed to the will of God? Does He not find our heart hard, and cold, and dead to spiritual things? Yet does that gentle, patient Spirit come near, and work in men's hearts a consciousness of their sin, and of the grace and power of the Lord Jesus. What love is there in every gentle drawing of the heart, in every cause of unbelief removed, in every fresh view of Christ's willingness and faithfulness to save!

Nor less do we see the love of the Spirit in His willingness to take up His abode in the mean cottage of the believer's heart. If one of noble birth and pure tastes were in kindness to make his home with one in whom their was much that pained him, only that he might raise and elevate his character - we would reckon it the very essence of self-sacrificing love. And yet does not the Holy Spirit make His temple within the soul where still abides much corruption and evil? What unbelief, forgetfulness, murmuring, unthankfullness, waywardness, and backsliding arise from time to time in those who have been born of God,and who have learned that in Christ alone is their help and salvation!

Perhaps most clearly of all may we see the love of the Spirit in His shedding abroad in the heart the love of the Father and the Son.

As the Spirit of love, He would have us know in all its fullness the love which God has shown to us in redemption. He brings home to us the Fatherliness of God. He teaches us the love of the Cross, as seen not only in its purpose and accomplishments, but in those last words there spoken by the Son of Man. He unveils the love seen in each office of the Lord Jesus, and in each gracious promise that He has spoken for our comfort. Much more I might add. But never shall we know how much we are indebted to the love of the Spirit until, perfected in Christ's likeness and found without spot and blemish - we see that it is His work, and wrought solely for us through His great and abiding love.

Is the Holy Spirit so full of love toward you? Then do not grieve Him or refuse to hear His voice. Never a kinder or more faithful guest than the Comforter will be to you - if only you give heed to Him and follow His guidance. Ask Him to come and dwell within you.

"Gentle, awesome, Holy Guest,
Make Your temple in each breast;
There supreme to reign and rest,
Comforter Divine.

And watch, lest by willful misdoing you quench His grace and drive Him from you. Strife, deceit, impurity, lightness in holy things, evil tempers - He abhors, and cannot stay where they are cherished. But humility, and faith,and heavenly thoughts, and deeds of love are His delight. Therefore choose that which pleases Him, and put away that which He hates. So will He abide with you an ever-increasing power, and His light, and presence, and joy shall make perpetual sunshine in your soul.

~George Everard~

(The End)

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Much Fruit # 4

Much Fruit # 4

So too should every other power become fruitful in the Lord's Service. There is none who need be idle. There is not a gift you possess, but may in some way be utilized in Christ's cause.

We need, too, more and more careful efforts to train the young of all classes in Divine truth. One of the most appalling calamities of the last few years was the trampling down of about two hundred little children in a public building at Sunderland. But to my mind there is something far worse even than this. It is the multitudes of little children in our land, who are in danger of being trampled down beneath the hoof of a cruel unbelief which will rob them of all the hope of a happy, holy, and useful life.

In our churches and in our mission rooms, in tents and in the open air, in workshops and by the wayside, by printed messages and by the spoken word, let us carry everywhere the Master's message, and while the door stands open, do our best to save the souls of our fellow-men.

Hence will arise fruit, the fruit of gathered sheaves, that we shall be able to bring to our Lord in the day of His appearing.

"Herein is My Father glorified, that you bear much fruit." But how has it been with you?

What fruit has there been in the years that have passed?
What victories over old sins and temptations?
What breathings of true prayer?
What growth in the Divine life?
What increase of faith, hope, and charity?
What gifts laid upon the Lord's altar, which have cost you some actual sacrifice?
What earnest intercessions on behalf of friends or neighbors?
What deeds of kindness and tramplings upon self-will and self-indulgence in your own home?
What acts of thoughtful benevolence done for the sick or sorrowful?
What habits of evil broken off?
What new habits of good by grace formed?
What resolutions made and fulfilled?
What souls brought back to the fold of the good Shepherd?

Then what about the future? If this present year is your last for fruit-bearing on earth - will it bring its testimony on your behalf? Shall it be the best and holiest your have ever spent, because begun and continued in lowly dependence on the great Helper?

When the book of your life is closed, never to be reopened until the great white throne is set - what will be its witness as to your profession of being a follower of Christ?

Among all the pictures in the Royal Academy of 1883 there was one home-scene that spoke most to my heart. It was called "The Last Look." A widow with her five children were gathered around an open coffin. For the last time they were looking upon the face of the one so dear to them all. No more will that sorrowing widow look on her husband's face, no more will those little ones look upon a father's countenance - until that great day when the grave shall give up its dead.

But unless Christ comes soon, the same position will be yours and mine, before many months or years have come. And when it is, when those who have dearly loved you gather around your coffin to take their last look of you - what witness will your life have left behind? Among any who have spiritual discernment, will there be a blessed certainty that you had indeed truly followed the Master? Will the remembrance of your whole course, be fragrant with a thousand evidences of the reality of your faith and love? Shall you leave behind in many a heart, a life-long witness in the truths they have heard from your lips? Will the whole spirit of your daily walk, be remembered as an unmistakable proof that your life was hid with Christ in God?

Shall you still live on ...
in the good you have done,
the souls you have evangelized,
the prayers you have offered, and
the blessings you have scattered around you?

As in the sight of that open coffin in which lies your own flame when the pulse has ceased to beat, and "Finis!" is written upon all you have ever purposed or performed - be honest with yourself, and be honest with God. Am I ...
living for self - or for God,
fruitful - or unfruitful,
a champion in the Lord's army - or a lukewarm follower,
a diligent worker - or a drone in the hive,
a little spring of living water - or a spot of barren sand?

What are you?
What will you be?

Settle the question now, and walk worthy of your Christian name.

"Lord, let me live for Christ, and to His praise,
Spend and be spent for Him through all my days;
Oh, let each power of body and of mind
Some sweet employment, in His service find.

Oh, to be given wholly unto Him
Whose life-blood flowed the guilty to redeem!
Bought with so costly, with so rich a price,
My all should be His willing sacrifice."

~George Everard~

(The End)

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Much Fruit # 3

Much Fruit # 3

If it is any supreme desire to be fruitful, I must not repine at the gardener's pruning knife. The branch that bears fruit needs pruning, that it may bring forth more fruit. And very various in this respect may be the dealings of the gardener with the different trees, or branches, or fruit-producers in his garden. Unsparingly he may cut away the runners on his strawberry bed; or an whole armful of shoots he may cut away from the vine growing on the wall. While from other trees he may take away a portion of the new wood, or cut out a large branch to give air or room. or possibly dig around one of luxuriant growth and lop off some of its roots. But in wisdom and ripe experience, he deals with each as it needs.

So the great Gardener acts in His Church. The most precious of His trees and the most fruitful branches, often receive the most of His care, and the chastening may seem more frequent and severe. From some of His people, the little ones are taken away,and the domestic hearth left desolate - that out of the sore trial, the parents' hearts may learn more of Divine love.

With others, financial means are lessened, and losses in business come thickly - but the treasures in Heaven are rapidly increasing.

Then others know the burden of sorrow about an afflicted partner, or the anxiety to find work, or the lack of strength to do the work which lies ready at hand.

Ah, there is a great deal of root-pruning in the Lord's vineyard! Every fiber of the heart cries out in its misery and anguish - yet all the while He who wounds, waits to heal. Not joyous, but grievous is the trial: "No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it!" (Hebrews 12:11). "He is the LORD - let Him do what is good in His eyes." (1 Samuel 3:18).

Would I be very faithful? Then I must watch against the enemies that would rob me of the fruit!

If I forget to cover the peach blossoms, a frosty night may do mischief beyond remedy. The birds may nip off the young buds of the fruit bushes. Insects may quietly mar and destroy the toil of many days. So that care and skill are needed to counteract these crafty little foes.

Just so in my service of Christ - there are perils round about me against which I need constantly to watch.

The chilling blast of a worldly spirit,
the frost of doubt and unbelief,
sloth and self-will,
selfishness and self-indulgence,
the lust of the flesh,
the lust of the eye,
the pride of life,
fretfulness and murmuring under trials,
over-anxiety about the future,
irritability and hastiness of temper, 
love of man's praise - or fear of his displeasure -
any or all of these may come like the birds and insects in the garden and may spoil my pleasant fruits!

"From the byways of temptation,
Keep us, Saviour, lest we stray;
Oh preserve us from the evil
Ever lurking round our way!
Let our path grow brighter, clearer,
Until it ends in perfect day!"

I must aim at using well each instrumentality of fruit-bearing. Each ability, each talent, must be carefully employed in the Lord's service.

And here one great principle comes in. The secret and hidden fruits, the virtues and graces that have their seat in the heart - are far the most precious in the sight of God!

"Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it are the issues of life." When Christ speaks, in the Sermon on the Mount, of those fruits which bring with them such blessedness - how does He describe them? He refers mainly to those which have their root within. Blessed are "the poor in spirit", "the meek", the pure in heart", those who hunger and thirst after righteousness," etc. And when Paul describes the fruit which marks the followers of Christ, it is mainly that which only the eye of God can fully discern. The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control." (Galatians 3:22-23).

Let these secret graces be most fervently sought and diligently cultivated. Let each believer long for the blessed Spirit, the Comforter, to work mightily within him, and to manifest His power in such a spirit of love, faith, meekness, holiness, patience and zeal - that he may be filled with all the fullness of God. For this let him wait and pray perpetually. Where this is granted, the fruit in God's sight will abound. Besides, all else will be sure to follow. No true fruit will be lacking, where the heart is as a garden watered by the Lord.

Then with this, every other gift is to be exercised. There is no doubt the inward and the outward life act and react one upon the other. Just as the trees are nourished in part by that which is taken in through the foliage - so the inner graces are strengthened by those good works which manifest them.

There must be the fruit of the eye. How mighty a power is this for strengthening and manifesting Divine grace? The books we read may greatly help us. Then the eye may convey a look of reproof that may check sin, or a look of kindness that may comfort one ready to faint. It may take in the need of a poor brother or sister, and thus a heavy burden may be removed.

There must be the fruit of the lips.  Sweet in God's ear is the voice of prayer, praise, adoration, intercession. Precious in His sight is the faithful testimony borne to His truth, the pleading with sinners to turn from their evil ways, the tender considerateness which utters words of honey - healing balm, to soothe an anxious heart or guide a troubled one to Christ, the Fountain of life and peace.

There must be the fruit of the hand. It is no lost labor to perform deeds of self-denying toil, to work for those who cannot work for themselves, to ply the needle in making garments for the sick, to do a bit of household work to spare one whose health is weak.

Let the hand be stretched out in free, liberal, substantial gifts to the Lord's treasury. It was well said to some who were studying the anatomy of the hand, "The most beautiful hand, is the hand that gives." What endless good might be done, what waste places might be reclaimed both at home and abroad - if all Christians gave of their income a fair proportion of that which God has given them. Look down the lists of the annual report of any congregation - and what a slender, pitiful measure of help to Christian objects of the greatest importance is often rendered by those who could give ten times the amount without feeling it. Where the heart is warmed with the love of God and man - the hand and the purse will be open when the calls when the calls on every side are so great and urgent.

~George Everard~

(continued with # 4)

Monday, March 13, 2017

Much Fruit # 2

Much Fruit # 2

A young person seeks all her happiness in the world. The theater, the society of the light and frivolous, the world in its various forms, is her idol - and there is no room for God, no room for Christ, no room for true, earnest piety.

But conscience demands a "salve". So certain religious services are attended, and often Holy Communion is received; but all the time the door is locked against the Saviour, and spiritual worship is utterly disregarded.

If I would bear fruit, it must be thus with me - my religion must go heart-deep. Christ must be all my salvation and all my desire.

"Lord, let me live in Christ by saving faith,
Let me be His for yes, in life or death;
Oh, be it mine, as time's swift chariot flies,
Clearer to read my title to the skies!
Fully to follow You, from grace to grace,
Until You have made me meet to see Your face."

In bearing fruit, the first essential is to be in living union with Christ. And from this, follows the second, which is the constant, daily, hourly abiding in this union.

I would urge this upon myself and upon every believer. I must abide in Christ. I must not begin with Christ - and then trust in good resolutions. I must not take Christ as my Righteousness and my Atoning sacrifice - and then hope to become holy or fruitful in my own strength. I must not aim at doing anything whatever by my own natural abilities.

In Christ I must begin,
in Christ I must continue,
in Christ I must complete all that I undertake.

On Him I must exercise entire, unlimited, perpetual dependence!

I must rely upon Him for daily mercy, daily grace, daily keeping, daily upholding, daily power to think and will and work as I ought in His service.

I suppose Paul was one of the greatest fruit-bearers, perhaps the greatest, that the Church of Christ has ever seen. And what was the secret of his abundant work and labor of love? He rested upon the word of promise, "My grace is sufficient for you; for My strength is made perfect in weakness" (2 Corinthians 12:9). He drank in motive and zeal and perseverance in toil - from Christ Himself. "I live by the faith in the Son of God, who loved me, and gave Himself for me!" (Galatians 2:20).

Here was the keynote of his whole life. From first to last, he lived on Christ by faith. He ....

fed continually on the Living Bread,
drank evermore from the Living Fountain,
abode in the love of Christ, and
dwelt beneath the shadow of the Rock of Ages.

Nor can we otherwise be fruitful branches. We must ever by faith abide in Christ, and receive out of His fullness.

To maintain and strengthen this dependence, I must abide in Christ's Word. Each promise, each precept, each revelation of Himself or the Father, of sin or the world - I must reverently ponder.

I must abide in His LOVE. I must not hide away from its bright beams in some dark chamber or cavern of world-hunting, or money-hunting, or pleasure-hunting. I must not let other things come in and make me forget that love which is the spring of all the peace that I enjoy. I must dwell upon it more and more until I can comprehend something of its height and depth and breadth and length!

I must keep Christ's SAYINGS, and surrender my will entirely to His. He must be my Head of direction, as my Head of supply. I must obey Him implicitly, as well as trust Him to the uttermost. Anything of reserve or disobedience, or of rebellion against His will, or of grudging service - must interrupt the sweet harmony of faith and love, and hinder the closeness of fellowship with Him.

But while the main essential as to abundant fruitfulness is abiding in Christ, there are other practical hints which ought to be remembered. Here is one.

The richest fruit is often found on low ground. The vines do not grow on the Alpine heights - but in the fruitful valleys that lie beneath.

In the fruitage of Christ's kingdom, the parallel is always true. You find the full supply, not on the hill-tops of pride and self-sufficiency, on the lofty summits of souls that glory in their own gifts or powers - but on such as have learned to be nothing and to glory only in the love and grace of the Redeemer. Where there is much humility - there will be much grace, and where there is much grace - there will be much fruit.

This fruit may be hidden from the eye of man. It may be a life of patient submission to the will of God in a very quiet sphere. It may be the meek endurance of pain during a long and wearisome illness. It may be a constant effort to do good in some difficult position, where few are the least aware of it. But wherever the Christian course is run in lowliness and humble dependence upon God - the Father's eye discerns the fruit, and He will not be slow to accept and own it.

This leads us to another point. The Christian must be well content to let the fruit he bears, be according to the will of God. I must not choose my own position, or murmur because my lot may be ordered of God very contrary to my own will. I might wish the fruit to be of a more showy kind. I might wish to occupy a prominent position, like a branch in a royal vinery or a wide-spreading mulberry tree, or to build a Church, or to do something which would attract the world's attention. But God's will puts me aside - out of sight, as it were, in the back garden, in some quiet nook, unnoticed by the busy throng - and yet able there to be useful and to do something or be something which will not be without effect in the great battle between God and the devil.

~George Everard~

(continued with # 3)

Friday, March 10, 2017

Much Fruit # 1

Much Fruit # 1

"I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing!" (John 15:5).

Not bearing evil fruit as a corrupt tree; not covered with leaves, but having no fruit, as the barren fig tree; not bringing forth unto himself,as Ephraim (Hosea 10:1); not a bough with a handful of fruit or a single specimen, only enough to show the character of the tree.

No, not such should the Christian be - but as a branch laden with good fruit, weighed down with ripened clusters, sweetened by the glorious sunshine, and gladdening the heart of the Great Gardener, as He sees in it a rich reward for His toil and pains!

It is worth striving for. It is the noblest aim the Christian can cherish. Listen to the words of Christ, "My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be My disciples." (John 15:8). That they should bear abundant fruit, is one great purpose of all God's dealings with His people. He wills not simply that they should be forgiven and saved, but that they should glorify Him by being fruitful in every good word and work. No created being can rise higher in aim and spirit than this. To bring glory to the name of Jehovah is the very highest object of angel and archangel before the throne.

To bring forth much fruit is, moreover, a sure pledge of discipleship. If the Christian does this there can be no room for doubt as to his hope in Christ. It will be manifest both to himself and to others that Christ is in him of a truth.

Nor should we forget that all true fruit is seed. In most cases the fruit but encloses and guards the seed which it carries within. This is true in the natural world,and it is no less so in the spiritual realm. That which we look at as fruit today, tomorrow will prove to be a seed of further fruit yet to be brought forth. Stephen's prayer for his enemies, "Lord, lay not this sin to their charge!" was the most precious fruit of Divine grace in the soul, reflecting the very spirit of His Master; but it became also a precious seed, bringing salvation to Saul of Tarsus and affording a blessed example to persecuted believers in all ages of the Church's history.

And there is still one further encouragement to Christians as to their fruitfulness. "Much fruit" brings "much" reward. A large and abundant recompense invariably follows. The soul is open to receive more of Heaven's richest treasures. It is gladdened by the ingathering of those who might otherwise have been left to perish. It has in the future the promise of a bright crown and of a more glorious inheritance!

Shall such then be our aim all through life? Shall it be our great desire to be like Joseph, "a fruitful bough, even a fruitful bough by a well, whose branches run over the wall;" to be such as Paul prayed that the Philippians might be, "filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ, unto glory and praise of God!" (Philippians 1:11).

It should be our effort day by day to bring to the Master, our basket of ripe, fruit, and such as will glorify Him and receive His gracious approval. Shall we persevere in doing this through each successive month and year, so that when life closes we may praise Him for the grace that has made it blessed and useful indeed?

But how may this be? Bearing in mind the hindrances in the way, my own fickleness and proneness to turn aside, the temptations that surround me, the impediments in doing good which meet me at every turn - how may I still succeed in fulfilling the will of Christ, that I should bring forth much fruit?

I must ever remember that it is fruit which God seeks. It is fruit, and not merely toil or work in His service. There is something of a Divine perfection about fruit that is very different from that which comes merely of man's labor. It may be the peach with its exquisite bloom, or the cluster of grapes from the hothouse, or the bunch of berries from the garden. But it is God's own handiwork, and examined even beneath the microscope, it has a rare beauty and perfectness that is quite unlike the finest workmanship of man's hands. Thus is it with all true fruit in the kingdom of God. It is the outcome of the spiritual life which has been granted to the soul. It is the outgrowth of inward spiritual grace. It is an external manifestation of the Spirit of God abiding within.

Hence the main point always to keep steadfastly before me is the absolute necessity of a living union with Christ. It is the branch abiding in living union with the stem and root that alone can bring forth fruit. There is no possibility of any fruit at all without this.

One of the great leading truths of the Gospel is the word of the Saviour, "Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing." (John 15:4-5).

Let there be the least separation between the branch and the stem, let it be but the hundredth part of an inch, and at once the sap ceases to flow into the branch - and there can be nothing but withering leaves, fading bloom, decay and death!

Let us indeed put to our own hearts the following questions:

Am I indeed and in truth one with Christ?
Am I knit to Him in heart and spirit and life?
Am I so joined to Him by a living faith, that I can say, "My Beloved is mine, and I am His?"
Am I exercising a soul-reliance upon Him?
Am I trusting Him for pardon, strength, peace, and grace day by day?
Am I clinging to Him with all "the five fingers of my faith?"
Am I ...
walking in fellowship with Him, conversing with Him by prayer, hearkening to His voice, delighting to be near Him, happy when doing His will?

In fact, is Christ a reality to me - my Saviour, a Friend, my Shepherd, my Refuge, my Everlasting Portion?

Here is the central point in true religion:
In Christ - or out of Christ?
One with Him - or a stranger to Him?
A Christian in His sight - or only such by outward profession?

The true value of ordinances depends entirely upon this. Very precious are they when they are the expression of a living faith which unites me to Him who was once crucified but is now exalted, as my living Head, to the Father's right hand. In this case, they strengthen faith, and draw the believer nearer and nearer to Him he loves.

But very perilous are they when men put them in the place of faith; when men strive to satisfy conscience by the external rite or service - when secretly they know they are living far from Him. It is one of the great dangers of the present day.

~George Everard~

(continued with # 2)

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Major Events Preceding the Second Coming of Christ # 3

Major Events Preceding the Second Coming of Christ # 3

Daniel 9:27 describes the final seven years leading up to the second coming of Christ and divides it into two periods, the first being the three and a half years during which the covenant is observed and the second being the three and a half years when the covenant is broken, resulting in the termination of Jewish sacrifices in their temple. The Jews will make this seven year covenant with the ruler over the ten kingdoms who later becomes the world dictator. Though the term Antichrist is never applied directly to this world ruler, he will be the ultimate fulfillment of predictions of the antichrist (3 John 2:18, 22; 4:3; 2 John 7).

Antichrist is anyone who opposes Christ or who claims to be a substitute for Christ. The apostle John declared that the antichrist is coming, but that there are many antichrists. "Dear children, this is the last hour; and as you have heard that the antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come" (1 John 2:18). John further defines an antichrist, "Who is the liar? It is the man who denies that Jesus is the Christ. Such a man is the antichrist - he denies the Father and the Son" (1 John 2:22). John further describes an antichrist as one who denies that Christ came in the flesh as God in 1 John 4:3, "but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of antichrist, which you have heard is coming and even now is already in the world." The same explanation is given in 2 John 7. The future world ruler who governs ten nations and later becomes dictator over the whole world is the antichrist because he is against Christ and is a substitute for Christ, as the prefix "anti" means.

Three Periods Between the Rapture and the Second Coming

In a study of all the passages that relate to the end time, it becomes clear that there are three major time periods between the Rapture and the Second Coming. The first is the period of preparation, a relatively short period, in which the ten nation kingdom emerges. Its leader rises to conquer first three and then all ten kingdoms. When this leader becomes powerful, because of his backing of the ten kingdoms, he is able to make the covenant with Israel for seven years described in Daniel 9:27. This introduces the second period of time, which covers the first half of the seven years mentioned in the covenant. In the middle of the seven years, however, a dramatic change takes place, and the ruler of the ten kingdoms becomes a world dictator, apparently without a war. This sets the stage for the third period, the last three and a half years leading up to the second coming of Christ. Accordingly, there is first a period of preparation leading up to the seven year period. Then there will be three and a half years of peace, the second period, and this will be followed by the third great trouble and tribulation. The third period will be followed immediately by the Second Coming.

The War with Russia

In Ezekiel 38-39 a strange war is predicted in which a great nation to the north of Israel, a reference to Russia (Ezekiel 36:15; 38:6, 15; 39:2), will be joined by a number of other nations in a sneak attack upon Israel at a time when Israel is at peace (Ezekiel 38:11). Though a number of explanations have been given of the prophecy, it seems that this Soviet invasion will come during the first three and a half years leading up to the second coming of Christ. This would correspond to the time of peace described in Ezekiel 38 (see Thess. 5:3). This war turns out to be a disaster for Russia and her other allies (Ezekiel 39:3-6, 11-20) as they will be annihilated.

The destruction of the invaders will change the world situation, which apparently then will be much like it is now, with Russia and her allies opposed to the rest of the world. With Russia out of the way as a military power because of the destruction of her army, it will be possible for the ruler of the ten kingdoms himself a world dictator, and apparently, there will be no power great enough to oppose him, and a world empire will be born overnight. At the beginning of his world empire the world will ask the question, "Who is like the beast? Who can make war against him?" (Revelation 13:4). And the answer is that no one will be strong enough to deny the ruler of the ten kingdoms the place of a dictatorship over the entire world.

When this takes place and the world empire suddenly emerges, the Middle East ruler will break his covenant with Israel and become her persecutor instead of her protector, and the final three and a half years leading up to the second coming of Christ will be a time of trouble for Israel and for the entire world. The world ruler of the end time will not only claim political rule over all nations but will also claim to be God (Revelation 13:8).

According to Daniel 13:37, the world ruler "will show no regard for the gods of his fathers or for the one desired by women, nor will he regard any god, but will exalt himself above them all." According to Daniel 11:38, he will worship only the power to make war and gain victory, and he will be engaged in warfare toward the end of that last three and a half years.

The Great Tribulation: Armageddon

As indicated to the breaking of the covenant with Israel, the future world ruler will bring on a terrible time of persecution by the government and judgment of God upon the world. This time of trouble is described graphically in Revelation 6:18. This period will include disasters from God as well as persecution of all those who will not recognize the world ruler as deity.

In his vision recorded in Revelation 6, John is introduced to a scroll with seven seals affixed to the side. As the scroll is unrolled, each seal is broken, signaling a great event on the earth. Some of these are great catastrophes. Seal one refers to the world empire that is brought out at the beginning of the three and a half years. This is indicated by the bow without an arrow (Revelation 6:2), the formation of the world empire without a fight.

Seals two and three refer to warfare and starvation, which will affect many. The fourth seal reveals that one-fourth of the earth's population will be destroyed, certainly a time of the wrath of God. The fifth seal recognizes that the world ruler will put to death those who do not recognize him as deity, and they are seen in heaven waiting for the time when the world ruler will be judged. In this period, according to the sixth seal, great disturbances will take place in the earth, with the sun darkened, the moon turning blood red, and stars of heaven falling to earth. There will also be a great earthquake, with every mountain and island removed from its place (Revelation 6:12-14).

Out of the seventh seal will come a second series of sevens called trumpets. As each trumpet is sounded, it signals another tremendous judgment on earth, usually extending to one-third of the earth's area (Revelation 9:7-12), and one-third of the earth's population will be destroyed (Revelation 9:15). Again, there will be great disturbances in nature, and eventually war.

Out of the seventh trumpet will come a third series of sevens called vials, or bowls, of the wrath of God. Each of these introduces another tremendous judgment on earth, usually extending to the entire earth. The first bowl judgment poured out will cause painful sores on people who have been worshiping the world ruler and the idol of him that was set up in the temple (Revelation 16:1-2). The second bowl pictures judgment on the sea so that every living creature in it dies (Revelation 16:3). The third bowl of the wrath of God will corrupt the springs of water, and they will become blood (Revelation 16:4). The fourth bowl will disturb the ordinary course of the sun, and people will be scorched because of the intense heat (Revelation 16:8). The fifth bowl results in the earth's being plunged into darkness, because the heavens will be so disturbed that they do not give their normal light (Revelation 16:10). The sixth bowl will dry up the river Euphrates, which will make it possible for a great army from the East to approach the Holy Land and join in the final great war that is described taking place there. The final bowl of wrath will consist of a great earthquake that destroys the cities of the world, causing mountains and islands to disappear, and apparently the topography of the entire earth will be changed (Revelation 16:17-21).

During the three and a half years of the Great Tribulation, God protected 144,000 Israelites, 12,000 in each tribe, as described in Revelation 7. They were able to go through the great Tribulation unscathed and will be on Mount Zion at the end of the great Tribulation (Revelation 14:1). By contrast, however, Revelation 7:9-17 pictures a great multitude in heaven consisting of those who have been martyred because they would not worship the world ruler and his claim for deity. By putting all these tremendous disasters of the end time together, we are introduced to a world scene where most of the world's population has been destroyed prior to the second coming of Christ, and many of those who did turn to Christ in that day have become martyrs. In the great Tribulation the final form of anti-God religion will consist of the atheistic worship of the world ruler and a denial of the true God. When Christ returns, He will judge the wickedness of the earth, rescue those still living in the earth who are saved and bring them into the millennial kingdom, and bring judgment of physical death on all the others (Matthew 24:30-31; 25:31-45).

~John F. Walvoord~

(The End)

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Major Events Preceding the Second Coming of Christ

Major Events Preceding the Second Coming of Christ

The Second Coming of Christ is preceded by a number of world-shaking events that must occur before Christ can return. This is in contrast to the rapture of the church, which is always presented in Scripture as an imminent event. The Second Coming, however, is a climax of what God is doing with the world to prepare it for Christ's millennial kingdom. Many detailed prophecies relate to this period, and understanding this helps one to analyze current world affairs as shaping up in preparation for these events.

The Revival of the Roman Empire

In Daniel's presentation of the four great empires in chapter 7, the fourth empire, though not named, is clearly to be identified with the Roman government. In the revelation of Daniel 7, the prophet sees four great beasts, the first being a lion, representing Babylon, the second a bear, representing Medo-Persia, and the third a leopard, representing the empire of Alexander. The student of Daniel's prophecies does not have to guess at this because Daniel names the second and third empires as that of Medo-Persia and Greece (Daniel 8:20-21). The fourth beast, which follows the Grecian empire, however,is not named but is described as "terrifying and frightening and very powerful. It had large iron teeth; it crushed and devoured its victims and trampled underfoot whatever was left. It was different from all the former beasts, and it had en horns" (Daniel 7:7). The description here of the fourth empire fits accurately the Roman Empire from God's point of view.

The Roman legion conquered country after country and carried off able-bodied men as slaves and enforced their rule by leaving contingents of soldiers in each country. It literally "devoured its victims and trampled underfoot" each country. In the explanation given to Daniel concerning the four beasts and the ten kingdoms, he was told: "The fourth beast is a fourth kingdom that will appear on earth. It will be different from all the other kingdoms and will devour the whole earth, trampling it down and crushing it. The ten horns are ten kings who will come from this kingdom" (Daniel 7:23-24). The prophecies of the four empires have already been fulfilled in history except that the Roman Empire has never developed into a ten-nation kingdom. Accordingly, many believe that this is a future situation that will take place after the Rapture of the church.

Many prophecies of the Old Testament that deal with the end of the age leap from the first coming of Christ to the second coming of Christ without taking into account the present age. This is true of the feet of the image in Daniel 2, and it is also true of the prophecy concerning the fourth kingdom, which today seemingly has disappeared, but in Scripture will be revived in the ten-nation form preceding the second coming of Christ. As the fourth kingdom is finally terminated by Jesus Christ's coming from heaven (Daniel 7:13-14), it becomes clear that this form of the kingdom will emerge before the second coming of Christ.

The Emergence of Antichrist

In addition to explaining that the empire will consist of ten kingdoms, Daniel was told that there will be an eleventh horn, an individual who will conquer them all. This is stated in Daniel 7:8, "While I was thinking about the horns, there before me was another horn, a little one, which came up among them; and three of the horns were uprooted before it. This horn had eyes like the eyes of a man and a mouth that spoke boastfully." This eleventh horn, obviously, is another king distinct from the ten kings mentioned earlier. At Daniel's request, explanation was given to him about it in Daniel 7:24, "After them another king will arise, different from the earlier ones; he will subdue three kings." As it is also stated in 7:23, he will eventually conquer the entire world, and it seems clear that he gains control of all these ten kingdoms before he rises to become a world dictator.

In Revelation 13:1-10 another prophetic vision was given concerning this fourth beast. Revelation 13:1 states that it has ten horns and ten crowns in the final empire, the beast gathers in all of the preceding empires pictured as a lion, a bear, and a leopard. John writes, "The beast I saw remembered a leopard, but had feet like those of a bear and a mouth like that of a lion" (Revelation 13:2). From Daniel 7 and Revelation 13 it may be concluded that the Bible speaks of a future world empire that will be revival of the Roman Empire that was in existence when Christ was on earth. The extent of the power of this world empire is given in Revelation 13:5-7:

The beast was given a mouth to utter proud words and blasphemies and to exercise his authority for forty-two months. He opened his mouth to blaspheme God, and to slander His name and His dwelling place and those who live in heaven. He was given power to make war against the saints and to conquer them. And he was given authority over every tribe, people, language and nation.

According to the book of Revelation, this ruler will head the world government for forty-two months. This forty-two month period is the last three and a half years prior to the second coming of Christ. In that period there will be a time of unprecedented trouble. This is described in Daniel 12:1, "There will be a time of distress such as has not happened from the beginning of nations until then. But at that time your people - everyone whose name is found written in the book - will be delivered."

Christ also spoke of this time of trouble preceding His second coming when He told some of the disciples, "For then there will be great distress, unequaled from the beginning of the world until now - and never to be equaled again. If those days had not been cut short, no one would survive, but for the sake of the elect those days will be shortened." (Matthew 24:21-22). In Matthew 24:29-30 Christ goes on to explain to His disciples that His second coming will bring this time of trouble to a close.

Immediately after the distress of those days 'the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from the sky, and the heavenly bodies will be shaken.' At that time the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky,and all the nations of the earth will mourn. They will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky, with power and great glory.

The Covenant with Israel

Christ will deal with the world of the Gentiles pictured in the ten-nation group and the world empire that follows, according to Daniel, in the seven-year period leading up to His second coming. This is part of the "seventy times seven" (490) years of God's dealing with the people of Israel (Daniel 9:24-27), beginning with the restoration of the city of Jerusalem in 444 B.C. These 490 years, however, are divided into three periods, with the first two consecutive, but the last seven years will be separated from the preceding period by the present age that intervenes, during which God is calling out His Church. Once the rapture of the Church takes place, however, it will be possible for God to bring about the fulfillment of the last seven years described in Daniel 9:27, "He [the ruler will come, v. 26] will confirm a covenant with many for one 'seven'. In the middle of the 'seven' he will put an end to sacrifice and offering." The last seven years preceding the Second Coming begin when the covenant is made, probably shortly after the Rapture.

~John F. Walvoord~

(Continued with # 2)