"I am that bread of life."-Joh 6:48
Jesus said "Man shall not live by bread alone," and yet he said he is "the bread of life."-This may seem like a contradiction, but the first bread mentioned is made with hands, baked in an oven, to feed our bodies. The second bread of lifeí is a picture of our Savior, and Christians are said to be feeding on his Word. Everyone filled with this bread will live forever.
"The LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul."-Ge 2:7
This wonderful verse tells us exactly how God made the first human being, Adam. He made his flesh and bones out of the dust of the ground. That body could not move; it was not alive. Then God caused air to go into Adamís nostrils, and he was alive. Adam was not given a soul; he became a living soul.
"He stretcheth out the north over the empty place, and hangeth the earth upon nothing."-Job 26:7
Science proves the Bible; and here is a good example. Job told us long ago that the earth hangs upon nothing, which describes the earth in orbit around the sun. The Bible tells of scientific things, rather than explaining them. It is descriptive and poetic, and in that sense, incredibly beautiful.
"Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow."-Mt 6:28
Take a flower in your hand. Note its lovely shape, its delicate perfume and color. God gave us hundreds of beautiful flowers, with a variety of fragrances and hues. He gives us more than we can think of or ask for. We have nothing to offer in return for his love but our hearts and reverence, and he lovingly accepts these.
"That which befalleth (happens to) the sons of man befalleth beasts: ... as the one dieth, so dieth the other .... All go unto one place; all are of the dust, and all turn to dust again."-Ec 3:19,20
So far as this present life is concerned, man has no advantage over the animals. "All is vanity [unsatisfactory, Strongs]," and all die and return to dust. But man does have a great advantage over the animals because Jesus gave his life a ransom for all mankind, and so we are assured of an awakening from death.
"Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed."-2Ti 2:15
We study the Bible to learn the many things we need to know in order to serve God. It is a privilege to look for his will and to do it to the best of our ability. The word workman suggests the thought of being engaged in service. One way we can do this is to tell others of Godís loving plan for all the world of mankind, to be brought about in due time.
"Study to show thyself approved unto God, ... rightly dividing the Word of truth."-2Ti 2:15
In the Bible there are many things which were true long ago (history), others that are true now, and still others that will be true at a later date (prophecy). We need to be able to understand which time period is being mentioned, in order to understand the messages God gives us in the Scriptures.
Jesus "was the true light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world."-Joh 1:9
Jesus himself said, "I am the light of the world."-He also said to his disciples, "Ye are the light of the world."-The only true light shines forth from God through our Saviorís teachings and example. Though only some are enlightened by a knowledge of Godís plans now, in the kingdom of Christ, the light of truth will shine on, or reach, everyone.
"The fear [reverence] of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom."-Ps 111:10
Strongís Concordance gives the meaning for fear as Ďreverence, which means Ďto regard with deep respectí. When we regard our Heavenly Father with awe and esteem, he will begin to work in our lives, revealing himself and his purposes for the perfection of all mankind. This is the true wisdom we should seek: the understanding of Godís character, plan and teachings.
"Without faun it is impossible to please him (God); for he that cometh to God must believe that he is."-He 11:6
God asks us to look around at his marvelous creation. All this: the earth, the universe, all of what we call nature, was made by our Heavenly Father, Jehovah.
God "is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him."-He 11:6
Diligently means Ďcarefullyí. If anyone earnestly looks for God and his troth, God will see that he or she finds him. People who are satisfied with errors about Godís character and plans will be left with these errors; they will not find the truth.
"Seek ye out of the Book of the LORD and read."-Isa 34:16
We learn Godís plan by studying the Bible by topics. Only in this way will Godís Word be harmonious and logical. God has given us several objects for studying the Bible: so he will approve of us and we will know what work he wants us to do; so when asked, we may give a reason for the hope that is in us; and so we may understand his plans and purposes.
"God is faithful."-1Co 1:9
Godís promises always come true; he never fails. Sometimes we have to wait a long time before we can see clearly what his will for us may be, but he never forgets us. The delay may only mean it is best for us to wait, learning lessons of patience and trust.
"In the morning sow thy seed, and in the evening withhold not throe hand: for thou knowest not whether shall prosper, either this or that, or whether they both shall be alike good."-Ec 11:6
Telling others about Godís loving plan for blessing all the families of the earth is pictured as sowing our seed. We have no way of knowing whether or not those to whom we witness will want to learn more, so we should be prompt to use every opportunity to share the good news and leave the results to the LORD.
"To everything there is a season."-Ec 3:1
Just as we see there are times for the different seasons of nature, and a time for work as well as a time for play, we also realize God has put this principle into practice on an even greater scale. Now is the time for his human family to learn about the results of evil and of living without Godís laws of righteousness.
"There is ... a time to every purpose under the heaven."-Ec 3:1
The time for all people to learn of Godís true character of wisdom, justice, love and power, and about his loving plan for blessing all mankind, will be when Christís kingdom is reigning on earth.
"See, with he [God], that thou make all things according to the pattern shown to thee."-He 8:5
God commanded the people to build a Tabernacle in the wilderness, and he directed all the details. Everything had to be performed exactly as he instructed, down to the very smallest item. This was because the Tabernacle and its services pictured greater and more important things-the Divine plan of the ages!
"The eyes of the LORD are over the righteous, and his ears are open unto their prayers."-1Pe 3:12
Believing in Jesus as our Redeem, and giving our hearts to God brings us the privilege of going to our Heavenly Father in prayer, knowing he will always hear us. Jesusí followers are called righteous because Jesus covens their imperfections with his righteousness. Although God does not promise to remove every unpleasant situation in our lives, he will be with us and give us the necessary strength to endure.
"I will both lay me down in peace and sleep; for thou, LORD, only makest me to dwell in safety."-Ps 4:8
When we trust in God and do his will as best we can, we can go to sleep each night, knowing he will not let anything happen to us which is not for our good. This is a wonderful blessing to have, and how loving God is to care for us in the way he tees.
"The peace of God, which passeth all understanding shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus."-Php 4:7
By our belief in his Son we become precious to God, and his watch-care and keeping are greater than that of any other power or person. Knowing the Almighty Creator is with us, protecting us when we have need, is a comfort. This peace is in our hearts, and comes from leaning not on ourselves, but on God. It keeps us free from worry and fear.
"Redeeming the time, because the days are evil."-Eph 5:16
To redeem means Ďto rescue from lossí. We are to use our time wisely, and not waste it. There are so many ways we can spend our time, and after we have spent it, it is gone. One question we can ask ourselves is: "Will I be better off if I apply my time in this way, or is there a better way I could put it to use?"
"For this cause came I [Jesus] into the world."-Joh 18:37
The first judgment day was in Eden when Adam was tested and failed to be obedient. His punishment was death. Ever since, the human family has all been dying, as part of that penalty. Jesus came to earth and gave his life to release all from that punishment.
"The grass withereth, the flower fadeth; but the Word of our God shall stand forever."-Isa 40:8
We see the beautiful grass and flowers come up in the spring and die in the winter. This happens every year as the seasons change. But the words God has given us in his Book, the Bible, will never die or vary. God has always been the same: wise, loving, just, and strong -and he will be that way forever.
"Moses. .. said Who is on the LORDíS side? ... And all the sons of Levi gathered themselves together unto him."-Ex 32:26
God must have been pleased to have the tribe of Levi step forward and say they were on his side. He is pleased in this age when a person steps forward and dedicates his or her life to serving him. This is called consecration.
"There is a way that seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death."-Pr 16:25
We cannot know by ourselves what is right and what is wrong. We must look to God for guidance. As we know how long an inch is by holding it up to a ruler to measure, so we know which are Godís ways and which are Satanís by measuring them with Jesusí examples and the teachings from the Bible.
"Many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame arid everlasting contempt."-Da 12:2
Over and over in the Bible there ate refer to a resurrection from death. Jesus pictured this when he brought a few individuals back to life during his first presence. In the kingdom, all who have died will come to life again. For the first time, without Satanís influence, they will have a chance to learn Godís ways.
"What is man? ... Thou modest him to have dominion over the works of thy hands. "-Ps 8:4,6
At his creation man was made king over the earth. He had dominion over the lower animals. All this was lost when he was disobedient in Eden. But in Christís kingdom, all the good things God planned will come about: there will be no dangerous animals then, and, even more importantly, all people will learn to trust and love one another.
"The fool bath said in his heart, There is no God."-Ps 14:1
From the standpoint of reason alone, when we see the immensity of creation, its beauty, order, harmony, balance, proportion, and diversity, can we doubt there is a Creator? Effects are produced by causes. How shortsighted are those who boast of human skill and intelligence while attributing to mere chance the uniformity and harmony of nature. The proof of Godís workmanship is all around us.
"As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts higher than your thoughts."-Isa 55:9
Godís thoughts are better than ours-they are always clear, reasonable, just, loving, and wise. Because of this, we can trust him at all times. We know that although God is much greater than we are, he loves us, and is always ready to listen to our prayers, through which he gives us the strength we need to endure our experiences.
"Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof."-Mt 6:34
We should take no anxious, worried thought about tomorrow. If we do what we can for ourselves and any who are dependent upon us, trusting in the LORD to provide the things needful, we will have no cause to worry. Anxiety about tomorrow will only add to todayís burden.
"Remember now thy Creator in the days of thy youth."-Ec 12:1
No matter how young we may be, we can start developing our relationship with God. We can praise and thank him for our blessings-for the beauty we see around us everywhere. In our prays we can tell him we love him. We can study his Word at home and in meetings with others who also love God. If we do these things, our lives will be blessed.
"Be ye holy."-1Pe 1:16
To be holy is to be godlike, to have a disposition or character like Godís. Holiness is not something we achieve; it is only the presence of God in our lives which can make us holy. Thus, the more we allow our minds and affections to be filled with Godís goodness, the more his presence in our lives makes us holy.
"To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life which is in the midst of the paradise of God."-Re 2:7
In the first book of the Bible we learn that Adam and Eve were put out of the Garden of Eon because of their disobedience to Godís will. In the last book of the Bible, we learn these will come a time when those who are obedient will be able to eat from the tree of life, and the earth will then be a paradise.
"We shall not find any occasion against this Daniel, except we find it against him concerning the law of his God.-Da 6:5
What an example Daniel was! The only fault his fellowman could find in him was the way in which he served God How wonderful it would be if our friends and neighbors could say this about us, that our greatest fault would be that we tried to please God at all times.
"Moses said unto the people, Fear ye not, stand still and see the salvation of the LORD, which he will show to you today."-Ex 14:13
When we have tiled our best to solve the problems that come up, or to make decisions which are required, sometimes we must learn to stop-stand still and look to the Heavenly Father for his answers. His wisdom is so much greater than ours.
"I [Jesus], if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me."-Joh 12:32
As a result of our Lordís having been lifted up to his death on the cross, and later resurrected, he will eventually draw all mankind to himself. This drawing means that all will be given a knowledge of the LORD and his purposes. Jesus does not exercise this drawing power now, for those who come to him in this age are drawn by the Father.
"Saith the LORD, I will put my Law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts."-Jer 31:33
The Law given to the Israelites by God through Moses at Mount Sinai was written down for the people to learn. But they were not able to keep it perfectly because they were imperfect. In the kingdom, God will make a New Covenant with Israel; Christ will be the king. Then all will be able to carry out Godís perfect law, for they will have become perfect, and will gain everlasting life.
"The Law [is] a shadow of good things to come."-He 10:1
A shadow is a picture of its owner; it reflects what its possessor is doing. Godís Ďshadowsí are illustrations of what he intends to do at a later date. For instance, the Law Covenant was a shadow, or picture, of what Christ and the church will accomplish in the Millennial Age.
"Our Father, which art in heaven."-Lu 11:2
Jesusí disciples had asked him to teach them to pray. He gave them this simple prayer as an example. First we must remember that God is our loving Father in heaven, whose name is holy, and whom we always think of with respect and reverence.
"Hallowed be thy name."-Lu 11:2
Godís name is holy and we should have reverence, respect, love, and awe for him. The Bible says Jesus showed us the glory of God, and we should do this also. We honor him as our Creator and Father when we tell others about his glorious charter and loving plan he has for blessing all who will live according to his laws.
"Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, as in heaven, so in earth."-Lu 11:2
At the present time, Godís will is not being done on earth. But Jesus said w pray for the kingdom, when God will be obeyed on earth as he now is in heaven. Many verses in the Bible tell of this kingdom-the time when God will wipe away everyoneís tsars, and sighing and crying will pass away, ark all will know God and serve him together.
"Give us this day our daily bread."-Mt 6:11
When we pray that our Heavenly Father will provide for us our daily bread, we donít mean we just want food for our bodies. We also want food for our hearts and minds. And we know we can obtain this spiritual food from the Bible, the Word of God. Jesus said he was the bread that came down from heaven; his words and example are the spiritual food we seek.
"Forgive us our sins: for we also forgive everyone that is indebted to us."-Lu 11:4
As we want Godís forgiveness when we have done wrong, we must also be forgiving of othersí wrongdoing toward us. Holding a grudge from the past puts a barrier between us and God.
"Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil."-Lu 11:4
Our Father will never test us beyond that which we are able to bear. We have this assurance that he will be with us in every time of need; we are never alone if we have given our hearts to him. It is a comfort to know the Creator of the universe cares for us and has promised to be with us always.
"1 press toward tile mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus."-Php 3:14
The Bible says Christians are running a race, and the mark toward which we aim is perfect love. We are to love God and his righteousness; we are to love our fellowrunners; and finally, we are to love even our enemies. If we can do this we will receive the prize of the high calling, sharing in Jesusí glory and work.
"Delight thyself also in the LORD; and he shall give thee the desires of throe heart."-Ps 37:4
It isnít enough to do what is right because we have to; we are to be happy doing it, to delight in doing it! The heart that is constantly looking for Divine direction is always in the attitude of prayer. If what we ask for is in harmony with Godís will for us, our desires will be granted.
"He shall cover thee with his feathers."-Ps 91:4
Have you ever watched a mother hen with her brood of chicks? She watches over each one with such wader care, and at the first sign of danger, sends out a call to them. They quickly run to her and feel safe under the protection of her wings. What a lovely illustration this is of the protecting care of our LORD. We are safe from all danger, while wider his wings.
"There shall be showers of blessing."-Eze 34:26
Often the love of our family and friends, food to eat, the shelter of home, the rain and sunshine, and the comfort of Godís Word are blessings we take for granted. In this age, many have few of such advantages. In the Millennial Age, God will send these favors abundantly to all, including, eventually, the blessing of life to all who are willing and obedient.
"Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness."-Mt 6:33
Because God knows the things of this world give us only temporary pleasure, he instructs us to spend our time, energy, and effort on things concerned with the kingdom of God. It is more important to build a Christian character than to have a lot of worldly possessions.
"The earth abideth forever."-Ec 1:4
God has assured us that our planet Earth will always be here. It will never be blown up, burned up, or completely destroyed in any manner. Since God prepared the earth as a home for mankind, in due time it will be brought to a condition of perfection, and perfected mankind will live on it forever.
"blow great are his signs! And how mighty are his wonders! His kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and his dominion is from generation to generation."-Da 4:3
As the explanation to King Nebuchadnezzarís vision, God told Daniel that four successive universal kingdoms would be set up to rule. Each of them would fall, until God established the next worldwide kingdom, which would never be destroyed. This final one will be Godís kingdom.
"The eyes of the LORD are in every place, beholding the evil and the good.í!-Pr 15:3
God, our Creator, is a great and powerful spirit being. His angels are called watchers, and holy ones, and through them God is aware of all people and all things. He knows not only our words and actions, but even our thoughts. When Ananias and Saphira thought to deceive him, he was not deceived, and they were punished.
"God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness."-Ge l:26
Man was created in the image of God, which means that man, like God, has a mind, a memory, and ability to plan and to reason. It also includes the fact that Adam had rulership or dominion over the earth, as God has oven the universe. He lost this right as king, but it will be restored in the Millennial Age.
"Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father and from our Lord Jesus Christ."-1Co 1:3
The apostles often expressed this wish ~ prayer when they wrote to members of the churches. Grace means Ďfavorí, and sometimes Ďgraciousnessí. When the Apostle Paul prayed that Godís gracious favor and blessing of peace would be granted to the Christians at Corinth, his wards showed how much he loved his fellow-Christians.
"Bring me an offering of every man that giveth it willingly with his heart."-Ex 25:2
The Israelites had few worldly goods while they were slaves in Egypt. But when God asked them to give what they had to build the Tabernacle, including the valuable gold and jewels the Egyptians had given them when they left Egypt, they willingly gave more than was needed. Eventually God asked them to bring no more! What a good example for us to follow!
"Think on these things."-Php 4:8
The Apostle Paul tells us to think about what is true, honest, just, pure, lovely, and of good report. We think of God and our dear Lord, Jesus who are all of these things. As we consider their love for us, and the wonderful plan of salvation, our hearts respond with love and praise.
"These six things doth the LORD hate; yea, seven are an abomination unto him: A proud look."-Pr 6:16,17
Everything we have comes from the LORD; without him we would not exist. Even when we do what is right, we are only doing what we should be doing out of thankfulness to our God who gave us life. The opposite of pride is humility. There is no reason for a proud look when we humbly realize how good Christ was, and how much less we do than we ought.
God doth hate "a lying tongue. "-Pr 6:16,17
How carefully we should guard our mouths, lest words slip out that are not true. When we hear ourselves saying things that are exaggerations, or wholly false, we should correct them immediately. We may need to do this many times before we are able to keep from exaggerating, or saying untrue things.
God doth hate "hands that shed innocent blood."-Pr 6:16,17
None of us would be guilty of this action, which is an abomination and hateful to God. However, there is another way in which we might be guilty of causing great injury to people. Talking about othersí faults can damage their reputation. Anything harmful to others is best not talked about.
God doth hate a "heart that deviseth [plans] wicked imaginations."-Pr 6:16-18
Some people often seem to be stirring up trouble and are never happier than when others are upset. Elsewhere in the Bible we are told it is not good to be a busybody, speaking things which we ought not. But there are a few unhappy individuals who spend time planning to do things of which they would be ashamed if they were revealed.
God doth hate "feet that be swift in running to mischief."-Pr 6:16-18
Even if no one fords out about our mischief, there is nothing that can be hidden from God. Nothing can really be done in secret, for the Bible says we are a spectacle to the angels. They are watching us, and God and Jesus know what we are doing and saying. A clear conscience is a lovely thing to have.
God doth hate "a false witness that speaketh lies."-Pr 6:16-19
We may get attention, and feel important, by telling something about another person which is not exactly true. Perhaps it is only a bit of an exaggeration, not an outright lie. Actually, if it is not wholly the truth, it is a lie! The little bit of notice we receive by telling some gossip, or reporting something in a slanted way, is in no way worth the hours of guilty feelings we have, and the knowledge that what we said was wrong.
God doth hate him "that soweth discord (disagreement) among brethren."-Pr 6:16-19
This scripture could apply to our brethren in the church, or in our families. To sow discord, which causes fighting and unhappiness, is displeasing to God. It is best to spend our time with those who are looking for good in others, and being an example of love, rather than pointing out othersí faults.
"After that John was put in prison, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the Gospel of the kingdom of God, and saying .... The kingdom of God is at hand, repent ye and believe the Gospel."-Mr 1:14,15
Johnís mission was to prepare the people of Israel to receive their Savior. When John was imprisoned, Jesus began his ministry, which was to preach the Gospel of the coming kingdom of God, and open the way to the high calling, or heavenly reward.
"He ordained twelve, that they should be with him, and that he might send them forth to preach."-Mr 3:14
The twelve men chosen to be Jesusí apostles were: Simon Peter, James, John, Andrew, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Thomas, James, Thaddaeus, Simon the Canaanite, and Judas Iscariot. Later Paul was chosen by God to replace unworthy Judas. There were never any more substitutions, nor did others take their places when these apostles died.
"See that ye walk circumspectly (carefully) ... understanding what the will of the LORD is."-Eph 5:15,17
Understanding Godís will for us takes continual study of his Word, and good mental perception under the control of a heart in full harmony with truth and righteousness. We should seek Godís help through prayer when we strive to know the difference between truth and error, right and wrong.
"Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life."-Pr 4:23
Since the heart is the center of life, both natural and spiritual, if it ceases to work, death will follow. The heart pictures our will and affections. We should try to be active in love, and cultivate thoughts and sentiments in agreement with Godís will. The issues of life, respecting our words and deeds, are guarded and influenced by the heart.
"I am the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and ending, saith the LORD."-Re 1:8
Alpha is the first letter of the Greek alphabet, and Omega is the last. The only direct creation of our Heavenly Father was the Logos-Jesus in his pre-human existence. After God created him, then the Logos created all things through the power of the Heavenly Father.
"All things were made by him [the Logos]; and without him was not anything made that was made."-Joh 1:3
Almighty God had the Word, or the Logos, help in the creation of all things. It is like an architect and a builder: the architect-God-made the plans and had the power needed; Jesus, the Logos, was the builder. Using Godís plans and power, he did the work of creating all things that are in heaven and in earth.
Jesus "saith unto them, Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men. "Mt 4:19
Fishing makes a very appropriate picture, since it requires energy, the proper bait, an understanding of fish, and that the fisherman keep himself out of sight. To interest people in the Bible, we must try to keep ourselves Ďout of sightí while giving them the encouraging message of the goodness and righteousness of Jesus, and the harmony and reasonableness of Godís plan.
"Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him."-1Jo 2:15
This may seem contradictory to Joh 3:16,17, but the love of God spoken of there is a benevolent love, which is very proper for us to have for the world also. "Do good unto all men."-The love we are not to have for this present world is the desire for its fellowship, its pursuits, and its methods, which are contrary to God and his Spirit.
"A just man falleth seven times, and riseth up again."-Pr 24:16
If we are not successful in achieving a goal we should not be discouraged. Many people fail at first, but they do not give up. They keep on trying, and with Godís help, they reach their goals. God will raise us up when we fall if our aims are in harmony with his will for us.
"In the morning, rising up a great while before day he (Jesus) went out, and departed into a solitary place, and there prayed."-Mr 1:35
Jesus felt the need to commune with his Father-that is, to pray to him and feel his loving care. So it is with us; we need a time to worship our Heavenly Father, to thank him for his blessings, and to ask for his help and guidance every day. Jesus prayed often, and this is a good example for us to follow.
John said, "I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance."-Mt 3:11
When John baptized the Jews who had neglected to keep the Jewish Law, it was as though their sins against it were washed away. Johnís baptism was not for Gentiles for they were not under the Law of Moses, and could not sin against it. Johnís baptism was not for Christians; their baptism is for a very different purpose, and is not to wash away their sins against the Law.
"This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye him."-Mt 17:5
When God spoke these words they referred to Jesus, his beloved Son. What a wonderful tribute this was to Jesusí faithfulness to his Father! We, too, want to be pleasing to God. God knows that we are imperfect, but he is looking at our heartsí intentions and not at the imperfections of our flesh.
"Jacob was left alone, and there wrestled a man [an angel] with him until the breaking of the day .... And he blessed him there. "-Ge 32:24,29
We are not to suppose God did not want to give Jacob the blessing he desired. The thought is, rather, the blessing would be all the more valuable to him if it were withheld for a time so as to have a greater influence upon his heart. And so it is with our prayers; we should not lose interest in the things we request if they are in harmony with Godís will.
"The sheep follow him; for they know his voice."-Joh 10:4
Just as sheep know the voice of their shepherd and follow him, so we know the voice of our shepherd, Jesus, and follow him. And, as the shepherd cares for and protects his sheep, so Jesus cares for and protects those who follow him. "No good thing will he withhold from those that walk uprightly."-
"If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar; for he that loveth not his brother whom he bath seen, how can he love God whom he bath not seen?"-1Jo 4:20
It is easy to say we love those we seldom or never see. The more difficult thing is to act out our love in caring, considerate acts for people we are with constantly. Love is not a feeling. Love is doing. The reality of love is in our behavior, not in our words. Part of loving God is loving those whom he loves.
"Many of the Jews ... had seen the things which Jesus did ...[ and] believed on him."-Joh 11:45
The miracle of Jesus awakening Lazarus from death was well timed, for many saw and believed However, the religious leaders were afraid people would believe in Jesus instead of in them. From this time on, they began to seek his death.
"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with [the] God and the Word was [a] god."-Joh 1:1,2
If you have an Emphatic Diaglott, you might look at this scripture in the interlineary, or left-hand side of the page. You will find there the extra words that make this scripture understandable. Jesus was not the Almighty God, but he was a mighty one, a god. Just as an earthly father and son are two separate individuals, so also are God and Jesus; they are, however, united, one, in purpose."-Joh 17:21
"The Word was made flesh and dwelt among us."-Joh 1:14
Jesus had lived in heaven with his Father, Jehovah, long before he came to earth as the babe in Bethlehem. In heaven he had been called the Logos, which means Ďwordí or Ďspeechí. In olden times, kings often had a special person who spoke to the people for them. Jesus was Godís special spokesman, the one who gave to others the messages from God.
"He went down with them, and came to Nazareth, and was subject unto them."-Lu 2:51
Jesus was eager to begin his ministry at the earliest possible moment. Upon learning that under the Law he could not do so until thirty years of age, he went home with his parents. Jesus was only twelve years old at the time, and is an example to us that children can ask questions, and in so doing, may suggest wonderful and powerful answers.
"Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man."-Lu 2:52
After the manner of Jewish boys, Jesus attended the synagogue and heard the Scriptures read every Sabbath. When he was twelve years old, the teachers of the Law were astonished at his understanding and answers. He had a perfect memory and active mind, for he was unblemished by sin, and he spent his time studying and learning all he could about his Heavenly Fatherís plans and purposes.
"My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me."-Joh 10:27
These were the words of Jesus when speaking concerning his disciples, his followers. He was like a good shepherd and his disciples recognized and followed him just as sheep follow their leader. We love to think of Jesus as our shepherd, and try to follow him as sheep do their shepherd
"I the LORD thy God am a jealous God."-De 5:9
When the LORD calls himself a jealous God, he means he wants all of our affections, confidence, and trust. He wants us to let his will be all-important in our lives. This is not selfish on his part, because letting his will govern our lives brings us the most happiness and peace in all our affairs, and prepares us best for the blessings he has for those who love him.
"It is given to you (the disciples) to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them (the crowds) it is not given."-Mt 13:10,11
Why did Jesus preach in ways that kept many from understanding his message? At that time, and throughout this age, only those whose eyes have been opened by God can comprehend his plan for the salvation of the world. But in the next age, the kingdom of Christ, everyone will have an opportunity to understand.
"Jesus saith unto him, The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests: but the Son of man bath not where to lay his head."-Mt 8:20
Jesus had no place to call his home. Because he traveled around the country of Israel teaching the people and doing good, he did not seek his own comfort, but wanted to do those things which would bring honor to God. In this he was a wonderful example to all.
"The Son of man is delivered into the hands of men, and they shall kill him; and after that he is killed, he shall rise the third day."-Mr 9:31
Jesus knew at which Passover he would be put to math, for he understood the prophecies of the Bible. Each year at Passover he taught a lesson about the meaning of it. This time 1e told his disciples he would be put to death and be brought back to life on the third day.
"What shall be the signs of thy coming [presence] and of the end of the world (age)?"-Mt 24:3
The word translated coming, in this verse, is the Greek word parousia, which means Ďpresenceí. So, the question is, What would be the sign of the Lordís presence? This indicates that it will not be clear to everyone that he has returned, because they will need signs to know for certain. Jesus goes on in this chapter to tell what these many signs are.
"All the promises of God in him are yea, and in him Amen, unto the glory of God."-2Co 1:20
The Greek word translated yea means Ďa strong yesí,í trulyí,í surelyí. The word Amen means Ďfirmí or Ďtrustworthyí,í surelyí, or Ďso be ití. These are two strong words which tell us that Godís promises are absolutely true, and firm, and sure of fulfillment-not wavering nor uncertain. This means we can have full confidence in him at all times.
"The heavens declare the glory of God."-Ps 19:1
The heavenly bodies declare the glory of God by their countless numbers, orderly grouping in the constellations, continual yet never conflicting movements, perfect harmony, and marvelous size. All these speak of an intelligent designer. The wonderful display in the heavens both day and night should inspire in our hearts holy and reverent devotion to the great God of the universe.
Jesus "was led by the Spirit into the wilderness, being forty days tempted of the Devil."-Lu 4:1,2
After Jesus received the Holy Spirit, he could under- stand clearly Godís purpose in sending him to earth. Satan tempted him to use the power of God for selfish purposes: to satisfy his hunger, to rule the world without having to die, and to use a dramatic way of showing people he was Godís Son. Jesusí faith was thoroughly tested, but he remained obedient to God, and the Devil left him. He 2:8
When Jesus "had sent the multitudes away, he went up into a mountain apart to pray."-Mt 14:23
Jesus arranged for the crowd of people to be given food, and afterward went alone to a quiet place to pray to his Heavenly Father. Jesus loved his Father dearly, and often prayed to him; and God loved Jesus very much, and called him his beloved Son. God gave him strength and power to heal and teach the people. The LORD also gives us strength and guidance in answer to our prayers.
Jesus said to his apostles, "Come ye yourselves apart into a desert place, and rest awhile."-Mr 6:31
The apostles had been specially chosen to tell the good news of the kingdom in all the villages of Israel, teaching the people and helping them. Jesus knew they were tired, so he told them to go to a quiet place to rest. How kind and thoughtful Jesus was! We all need rest in order that we will be able to do whatever God wants, as we try to follow Jesusí example of kindness and thoughtfulness to others.
"Behold the Lamb of God!"-Joh 1:36
God uses picture language throughout the Bible. Here he calls Jesus a lamb. Lambs are obedient, and they look to their shepherds to lead and care for them. Let us try to live our lives in the way Jesus would, as nearly as possible. We take our lessons from what he said and did, and learn from the instructions he gave us through the apostlesí writings, trying to call attention to Jesus, and not to ourselves.
"Since by man (Adam) came death, by man [Jesus] came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive."-1Co 15:21,22
Sin and death came to the human race because of the disobedience of Adam. Death is an enemy, not a friend. Because of the ransom sacrifice given by Jesus, our Savior, all people will be raised from death in due time.
"The LORD bath sought him a man [David] after his [Godís] own heart."-1Sa 13:14
Although David had weaknesses and imperfections of character, his heartís desire was to serve and glorify God. When he made some very serious mistakes, he was sorry for them, repented with his whole heart, and tried to live up to Godís high ideals. David wrote many of the Psalmss, and among his words are, "The LORD is my shepherd," and, "The heavens declare the glory of God."-
"I have glorified [honored] thee on earth: I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do."-Joh 17:4
Jesus showed Godís power and goodness to the people in miracles and in truth. He had gathered a few hundred to himself, witnessing to them of Godís greatness. Then he knew it was time to give his human life as an equal, or corresponding price, a ransom to buy back the perfect life Adam had lost in the Garden of Eden.
"Fear not ye: for I know that ye seek Jesus, which was crucified. He is not here: for he is risen, as he said."-Mt 28:5,6
Although Jesus had told his disciples and friends in different ways that he would die and then be resurrected, they did not understand, for they expected him to become the ruler of the Jews at that time. They did not yet understand Godís plan, nor the fact that Jesus had come to earth for this very purpose: to buy back the perfect life Adam lost through disobedience.
"I have no pleasure in the death of him that dieth saith the LORD God: wherefore, turn yourselves, and live ye."-Eze 18:32
God wants all people to live! That is why he sent Jesus, and why he has planned a resurrection from the dead. At that time, the requirements will be a renewed heart, a right spirit toward God, full obedience to him; and the assistance from him to accomplish this will be available to all.
"If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again."-Joh 14:3
Jesus told his disciples he would return to heaven to be with his Father, but he would come again to prepare for his kingdom. This does not mean he would become a man again, because he gave his flesh, or human life, for the world He will forever be a spirit being, and as such will carry out all his Fatherís plans.
"Consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds."-He 12:3
Let us think carefully about Jesus, the Son of God, who, though perfect, was opposed and insulted by many evil people. Yet he was always kind and generous to those who opposed him. He never tired of well-doing and patience. What an example to us!
May they all "be one; as thou, Father; art in me, and 1 in thee."-Joh 17:21
Jesus prayed that his followers might all be of the same spirit, working for the same goals, with the same heartsí desires he and his Father shared. This scripture clearly indicates Jesus is Godís dear Son, and not that he is God. The idea of the text is clearer if we substitute the word alike for one. As God and Jesus are alike in spirit and purpose, we are to be like them.
Jesus "arose and rebuked the wind, and said unto the sea, Peace, be still. And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm."-Mr 4:39
Jesus and his disciples were on a ship crossing the Sea of Galilee, where storms blow up quite suddenly at times. The disciples became frightened. Jesus told the wind and the sea to become calm, and they obeyed him! This pictures his coming kingdom, when Jesus will bring all trouble to an end-there will be no more wars, no more sickness, nor sorrow.
"Hosanna: Blessed is the king of Israel that cometh in the name of the LORD."-Joh 12:13
A great number of Jews rejoiced that Jesus would be their king! But they did not understand he must die first, and be raised from death, nor that his kingdom of peace would not come for many centuries. However, all will rejoice in their hearts when Jesus is indeed king-not only the Jews, but all peoples of earth. This is why Christians pray, "Thy kingdom come."
"Whatsoever a man soweth [plants], that shall he also reap [gather in]."-Ga 6:7
In this age, every thought, word, or deed of a consecrated Christian has a bearing on whether or not he will receive a heavenly reward of everlasting life. A loving character, or a petty one, reaped -a kind character, or an envious one, reaped-etc., will be the same character as has been sown by the individual during the trial period of his lifetime.
"If 1 then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet; ye also ought to wash one anotherís feet. For I have given you an example."-Joh 13:14,1 5
In the days of the apostles it was considered hospitable to wash a guestís feet, since most people wore sandals and traveled on foot. Servants usually performed this service. Jesus used this custom to teach us a lesson in humility. We should consider it a privilege to serve our brethren in even the most humble affairs of life.
"O Father, glorify thou me with throe own self with the glory which 1 had with thee before the world was."-Joh 17:5
As the Logos, Jesus was with the Father even before the earth was created. They had enjoyed a wonderful, personal relationship. Jesus asked to be restored to that same close relationship, knowing that God had promised him great additional glories.
"The Son of man shall be betrayed into the hands of men: and they shall kill him, and the third day he shall be raised again."-Mt 17:22,23
When Jesus was killed, his disciples were shocked and afraid although Jesus had told them many times he would be killed and then raised to life on the third day. Afterward, they were able, by the power of the Holy Spirit of God, to understand why Jesus had to die as a ransom for Adam and all mankind.
"Christ our Passover is sacrificed (offered) for us."-1Co 5:7
Jesus took the wine and unleavened bread, and said, "This do in remembrance of me."-And he took the bread and broke it, and said, "This is to remind you of my body which will be offered in death for you."-And he took the cup of wine and said, "This is to remind you of my blood which will be shed for you."-This is why Jesusí followers partake of the Lordís Supper each year to remember.
"Greater love bath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends."-Joh 15:13
Jesusí friends were all the human race. Jesus agreed with God to lay aside all that he had in heaven, and to have his life-principle transferred to the baby born in Bethlehem. He consented to become a human being and to willingly give up that perfect human life to pay the price for the life Adam lost through disobedience in the Garden of Eden.
"Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered."-He 5:8
In his pre-human life, Jesus had always been obedient, "daily his Fatherís delight."-(Pr 8:30) But now he was to learn what it meant to be obedient under adverse conditions, and he proved his loyalty to the Fatherís will by complete obedience in spite of the opposition of his enemies. His sufferings did not come to him because he was a sinner, but as a test of loyalty.
"There is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved. "Ac 4:12
Jesus is the one who provides salvation; but what are we saved from? Some have the thought that we are saved from eternal torment in a burning hell. By understanding that God is a god of wisdom, justice, love, and power, we realize we are saved from the result of sin: death! Jesus, our Savior, has made it possible for all people to inherit everlasting life.
"Christ .... being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit."-1Pe 3:18
In our text, the words by the are not found in the oldest manuscripts. Jesus was put to death as a human being, but was brought back to life a spirit being. The earthly body of flesh suffered death, sacrificed on behalf of the world. "My flesh I give for the life of the world."-(Joh 6:51) As a divine spirit being, he is higher and greater than even the angels, and will remain so forever.
"Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time."-1Ti 2:6
Godís law is very exact: an eye for an eye; a tooth for a tooth; a life for a life. (De 19:21) A perfect human being had to be given in exchange for Adam, who disobeyed God. This life could not be that of a sinner, or anyone who makes mistakes, as you and I do. This life could not be that of an angel. It had to be a perfect man, as Adam was before he sinned. Jesus was this perfect man.
"Thou wilt not leave my soul in hell."-Ac 2:27,31
The Prophet David wrote these words about the resurrection of Jesus. What do they mean? Jesusí Ďsoulí means his life, his being; and the Bible Ďhellí means the grave, or the state of death. Jesus was not to remain in the grave, but was to be awakened in three days from the state of death.
"God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life."-Joh 3:16
God showed his great love for the people of the world by sending his dearly loved Son to be their Redeemer or Savior. Christians believe in Jesus now, and do their best to follow his example. In the coming Millennial Age, the thousand-year kingdom, the whole world will have the opportunity to believe in him, and so gain everlasting life.
"They were all filled with the Holy Ghost (Spirit) and began to speak with other tongues."-Ac 2:1-4
When Jesus sent the Holy Spirit to the disciples, they were able to speak foreign languages in order to preach to people from many lands. They also came to understand more clearly many things Jesus had taught them. Some things must be spiritually understood and this required their receiving the Holy Spirit to enlighten their minds.
"We ought to obey God rather than men."-Ac 5:29
The High Priest, and leaders of the Jews, had forbidden the apostles to preach any more in the name of Jesus. But Peter and the other apostles knew it was Godís will they should tell as many people as possible about the fact that Jesus had given his life so they and all people could have life in the kingdom. So the apostles bravely told the Jewish leaders they would continue to obey God. They were not afraid to do what they knew to be right.
"Lo, l am with you alway, even unto the end of the world (age)."-Mt 28:20
The disciples were very distressed and sad when their dear Master had been put to death on the cross. At first they did not realize this was part of the plan of God for the redemption of the world of mankind. They thought they had lost him forever. But then h-, came to them after his resurrection and gave them this wonderful promise. We are living in the end of the age, and this promise also applies to us.
"Fear not, little flock; for it is your Fatherís good pleasure to give you the kingdom."-Lu 12:32
Jesus called his disciples a little flock because his followers, the true Christians, are few in number. Why should the little flock not be afraid? Because their loving Heavenly Father has a wonderful plan for them, and is al- ways ready to help them. If they serve him faithfully now, they will share with Jesus in the work of the kingdom, which will be to bring back all of earthís millions from the death condition.
"To them who by patient continuance in well doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, eternal life."-Ro 2:7
Some are patiently seeking immortality-which shows it is something which can be sought and won, but that we do not now have it. It is interesting to note the phrase Ďimmortal soulí does not appear anywhere in the Bible. Re 3:21 says, "To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne."-That is indeed glory and honor!
"The soul that sinneth, it shall die."-Eze 18:4
When God created Adamís body from the elements of the earth, it was perfect, but not alive-unable to feel or move until God breathed the breath of life into his nostrils. The body was thus animated, and Adam became a living soul! It is this combination of the body and the breath of life which makes a soul. The separation of the breath of life from the body causes the soul to die.
"My son, give me throe heart, and let throe eyes observe my ways."-Pr 23:26
The heart is the center and symbol of love. The eyes are called the windows of the mind. After we give our hearts and affections to God, the enlightening of the Holy Spirit through the study of the Bible enables us to see, or understand, his directions for making our lives over in ways more Christlike and pleasing to him.
"Cast thy burden upon the LORD, and he shall sustain (provide for) thee."-Ps 55:22
While each one is expected to carry his own proper burden, the LORD will help us with burdens we cannot bear. Most loads are lighter when carrying is shared by two, and this is what is promised us. God will help us when our load of care may be greater than our strength.
"Cornelius, a centurian, ... a devout man, and one that feared (reverenced) trod with all his house (family) ... and prayed to God always."-Ac 10:1,2
Cornelius was the first Gentile, or non-Jew, who was invited to become a Christian. Before that time, the invitation was given only to Jews. But from the time of Cornelius, the same offer went out to the Gentiles as well. Cornelius prayed to God always; Jesus often prayed to God; and we also need to pray, and love to do so!
"I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content."-Php 4:11
The Apostle Paul wrote these words while he was in prison in Rome, awaiting trial. In whatever condition or circumstance he found himself, he was content that God would care for him. We often seem to want more of the good things of life, even though we have all we need. If we would take a few minutes to write down our many blessings, we would be surprised at the length of the list!
"One thing I know, that, whereas I was blind, now I see."-Joh 9:25
Jesus, as in his other miracles, gave sight to the blind man as evidence of Godís healing power which will eventually be used for the blessing of all mankind. At present, seeing eyes picture opening the mindís eye, or the spiritual understanding of Jesusí followers. In the coming kingdom, they picture healing literal blindness, as well as opening the unseeing, spiritually blind eyes of all people.
"The LORD is good, a stronghold ... and he knoweth them that trust in him."-Na 1:7
If we do trust in God, he will give us strength, and he will know us very personally. The more we let him into our lives, centering our thoughts and activities around him, the more he will be concerned and take charge of every little thing, because we want him to. But first, we must let him!
"How can we know the way?"-Joh 14:5
The Scriptures tell us Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life, and no man can come to God but by Jesus. This means Jesus died on the cross to pay the ransom price for Adam. Adam committed the sin of disobedience to Godís command. Jesus opened up a new way so we can be pleasing to God. We are always to pray in Jesusí name. "Ask and ye shall receive, seek and ye shall find, knock and it shall be opened to you."-Search the Scriptures, and find the way.
"Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness."-Ro 4:3
Abraham lived many centuries before Jesus came to earth. He was a man of great faith, and to God that faith was very precious. So it is with us. We are not perfect; we make mistakes, and sometimes do wrong things for which we are very sorry. But true Christians have complete trust and faith in our Heavenly Father, and know he loves us and will always be with us.
"Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses."-He 12:1
These witnesses were men and women who had faith in God and were led by the Holy Spirit: Abraham, Sarah, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Rahab, Moses, David, Daniel, and many more. They wanted to do Godís will, and are known as the Ancient Worthies. As imperfect as they were, God did use them in many ways for examples, and types or pictures, so we can understand his plan better.
"Jesus said, Suffer [permit] little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven."-Mt 19:14
Those who desire to be part of the kingdom must be as loving, trusting, teachable, and obedient as little children who love, trust, and obey their parents. Jesus had time for the children, notwithstanding the weight of work which was upon him and the fact that his earthly life was nearly finished.
"Whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant."-Mt 20:27
The Christian church is not like worldly organizations, with one leader and the rest doing all the work. In the church, the one who leads is to lead by doing the work, helping the others with their studies and their daily lives. Each one in the church is to be ready to assist his fellow members whenever there is a need to do so.
"Why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brotherís eye, but eonsiderest not the beam that is in thine own eye? "-Mt 7:3
We must first recognize our own faults and try to Overcome them, instead of criticizing our brother for his. A mote is a tiny speck, while a beam is a piece of timber, illustrating the possibility that our own faults may be much more serious than those we fend in others.
"Make a joyful noise unto the LORD!"-Ps 100:1
We can make a joyful noise with our hearts as well as with our voices, having happy, cheerful faces! We rejoice in our LORD for all the lessons and blessings he gives us each day. We rejoice in the bitter and the sweet, in the rain and in the sunshine, remembering he knows best what we have need of. "He careth for you."-1Pe 5:7
"There bath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it."-1Co 10:13
Christians are not guaranteed they will not have similar experiences as all mankind. But we do have Godís promise that, if we trust him fully, he will provide Ďa way outí, so we can come through the ordeal victoriously!
"Whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God."-Jas 4:4
This present world is out of harmony with Godís ways. Therefore, to have friendship with those in power suggests we are in sympathy with their materialistic ways. Godís people are spoken of as pilgrims here on earth, having their citizenship in heaven. If our loyalty is to God, we are more or less strangers here, and, in some ways, do not fit in.
"Speaking the truth in love [we] may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ."-Eph 4:15
As we study and grow in our Christian lives, we are able to understand more and more of the Bible and its wonderful truth. But, we must use what we learn in our lives, building our characters so we can be more like Christ. The Bible pictures Christ as the head, and the church as his body, to help us realize their close relationship.
"When it pleased God ... to reveal his Son in [by] me, that 1 might preach him among the heathen; immediately I conferred not with flesh and blood."-Ga 1:15,16
God revealed to Paul that Jesus was indeed his beloved Son, and that Paul was commissioned to preach the Gospel to the Gentiles. Paul wasted no time; he went immediately to Arabia to prepare himself for teaching as God had authorized him to do.
1 will "go in unto the king, which is not according to the law: and if I perish, I perish."-Es 4:16
Queen Esther was very brave, for she risked her life by approaching the king without having been asked to do so. But the king indicated to Esther that she was free to state her request. She pleaded for her people, Israel, who were all to be executed on a certain date. Her story is a lesson of faithfulness in dangerous circumstances, as well as to watch for opportunities while we pray. Then we must leave the outcome with the LORD.
"Come now, and let us reason together saith the LORD."-Isa 1:18
The truth is always reasonable. Each part of the Bible is in harmony with the rest. Some portions of Godís plan are more difficult to understand than others because they are stated in picture language. Others, in a very literal sense, mean just what they say. The Scriptures become clearer when we read and think about them in harmony with other verses we have read previously.
"The earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD."-Hab 2:14
As we study the Scriptures, we see this theme repeated. Our Heavenly Father desires that everyone understand that he is the great Creator of all things in heaven and earth. To see the wonders of nature makes us, as Christians, marvel at the one who designed them-being rightfully in awe of Jehovah! We are glad that in the millennium, all people will know and praise God!
"Men ought always to pray, and not to faint [become discouraged]."-Lu 18:1
If our prayers are proper ones, we can be sure they will be answered. The Bible gives many instructions on how to pray. The one in this text suggests our prayers may require some time before they are answered. And the Lordís Prayer says, "Thy will be done," which points out that we must always seek Godís will in our lives, rather than our own.
"Whom the LORD loveth he chasteneth."-He 12:6
Neither God, nor Jesus, nor the holy angels, make mistakes. But everyone else who has ever lived here on earth has made mistakes. People who love the LORD are sorry when they do wrong things, and they keep trying to do better. But no matter how hard we try, we are all still imperfect and need the LORDíS help and forgiveness, which is always there when we pray for it and do our very best.
"Be filled with the [Holy] Spirit."-Eph 5:18
The only way for us to be filled with Godís Holy Spirit is first to be emptied of ourselves. That is, we are to try to center our minds on the Scriptures, and especially Jesusí example and teachings. In this way we are occupied with these thoughts and prayers, and there is less time for the more worldly things which are natural to human minds, but not helpful in building a Christlike character.
"Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever thou hadst formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, thou art God."-Ps 90:2
Moses, in this Psalms, tells us God always existed; he had no beginning. This is not easy to understand, because we are used to all things beginning at some time. Human minds cannot really understand that time has no begin- ning or end, just as space has no end. We do know, for certain, that God always existed, and that the Logos was the first being God created. Isa 57:15
"Such an high priest became us (meets our needs), who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and made higher than the heavens."-He 7:26
Jesus was absolutely perfect, absolutely holy. We know he was a perfect spirit being before he came to earth, and he was a perfect man while on earth. When he returned to his Father in heaven, he continued to be perfect.
"Our help is in the name of the LORD, who made heaven and earth. "-Ps 124:8
Not only did God create the sun, moon, stars, and planets, but he and his Son, the Logos, created the majestic angels in heaven, as well as Adam and Eve here on our world. He arranged that this first pair would have a family of sons and daughters, who, in turn, would have their own children. So, in time, the earth would be the home of the great human family of many millions.
"Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil."-Ge 3:22
The ways in which we learn are through information, experience, and observation. Experience is by far the most effective method. For six thousand years God has been teaching the world the exceedingly bitter results of sin, by permitting evil to prosper. In the kingdom, when righteousness is the rule, the contrast between the consequences of good, and evil, will be very clear to all, so people can make a proper choice.
"Why died I not from the womb? ... For now should I have lain still and been quiet, I should have slept; then had I been at rest."-Job 3:11,13
Jobís loyalty to God had been greatly tested. He had lost his family and his livestock, and was very sick with boils over all his body. In these verses Job shows that death is not a state of life on a different plane, but it is as sleep, or rest, until resurrection.
"Blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed."-Joh 20:29
It was very important that the disciples believe Jesus had been raised from the dead, and so Jesus made his resurrection known. Those disciples who had much faith recognized him by his tone of voice, or his manner of breaking bread. But he made certain those with less faith would also be convinced he was alive. Thomas became a firm believer when he saw Jesus as he appeared at his crucifixion.
"Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God."-1Co 10:31
The origin of our food and drink is not as important as what we do with the strength we receive from them. The food we eat, and the spiritual nourishment we derive in the study of the Word of God strengthen us for the task of developing our Christian characters.
"If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me."-Mt 16:24
Jesus spent his life on earth being an example for and serving others. It led to a cruel death, even requiring him to carry the cross on which he was crucified. We carry our crosses by giving our lives in the service of our Master, sacrificing our self-interests. When our Master says, "Follow me," we can trust him, for he leads us in the right direction-to the Heavenly Father.
"Take us the foxes, the little foxes, that spoil the vines; for our vines have tender grapes."-So 2:15
These little foxes represent the small faults we some- times display: a mean look, words that hurt others, little acts of selfishness, etc. Although little foxes are beautiful animals and seem very innocent, they are capable of do- ing much damage, eating the tender grapes and destroy- ing them. These grapes represent our characters; how careful we should be of little faults which spoil our characters.
"All wept, and bewailed her: but he said, Weep nor; she is not dead, but sleepeth."-Lu 8:52
Because Jesus gave his life as a ransom-price to buy back the life forfeited by Adamís disobedience, all those who sleep in death will awaken in the resurrection. Jesus woke this little girl from death as a picture of the general resurrection of all mankind in the coming kingdom.
"He is not here, but is risen."-Lu 24:6
When some of the women disciples of Jesus visited his tomb early on the third day following his crucifixion, they were met by two angels who gave them the wonderful message that Jesus had been raised to life! The women hurried to tell the good news to the apostles. Although Jesus had been raised a spirit being, he appeared in human form so his disciples could see him and know he had been resurrected.
"In the day that thou eatest thereof (margin, dying) thou shall surely die."-Ge 2:17
Adam and Eve did not drop dead within the twenty-four hour period after they ate the forbidden fruit, but the dying process did begin immediately. After they were sent out of the Garden of Eden, away from the perfect conditions which sustained their perfect lives, they lived for many hundreds of years, although losing vitality all during that time.
"Speak evil of no man."-Ti 3:2
Speaking evil of a person is very much like stealing, because it robs him of his good name and reputation, which are more precious than treasure. Gold and silver can be earned again if stolen, but it is almost impossible to regain a good reputation when someone has ruined it. Once an evil report has been spoken, there is no way to take it back. But thinking before speaking gives us time to decide if our words would be helpful and encouraging, or better left unspoken.
"Now may be made known ... the much diversified wisdom of God according to a plan of the ages."-Eph 3:11, Diaglott
As some might ignorantly misjudge the skill and wisdom of a great architect by his unfinished work, so some may misjudge God by his unfinished plan. But, in due time, all will know Godís great plan of the ages has indeed been proceeding on schedule. This plan, of which God is the Architect, began with manís creation and reaches into the limitless future.
"Be of good courage, and he shall strengthen your heart, all ye that hope in the LORD."-Ps 31:24
In the Bible are many examples of courage. Daniel had the courage to face lions; David had the courage to face the giant, Goliath; the disciples showed courage as they went about establishing the Early Church; Jesus showed courage when he deliberately went to Jerusalem, knowing he would be crucified. And we too, as well as they, can show courage because all our trust is in God who strengthens our hearts.
"See that none render evil for evil unto any man."-2Th 5:15
It does not improve a bad situation to take revenge on someone who has done evil to you. With Godís help it is possible to return good for evil. Sometimes the person doing the harmful deed is ashamed of his actions when an act of kindness and forgiveness is shown toward him. Jesus was a good example to us: he had pity, forgiveness, and love in his heart for those who injured him.
"Wait on the LORD."-Ps 27:14
Job is a good example of patience. God allowed Satan to test him, to prove he would remain faithful even though Satan smote Job with boils, and he suffered many losses. His patient waiting on the LORD was rewarded by more blessings than he had before. Just as with our earthly parents, our Heavenly Father does not always give us exactly what we want just when we want it, but will work out what is best for us if we love and trust him.
"Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God."-Jas 1:13
The temptation to do things we should not do is one of the weakest of human traits. It is our own human weakness that tempts us, not God. Temptation to do wrong should be fought against from the moment it enters our minds.
"What doth the LORD require of thee but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God."-Mic 6:8
We are to be fair, kind, and humble. If we have a great deal of love, these three attitudes will be easy. If we have love for all, we will deal fairly with them. If we have love, we will be kind and show mercy. And if we have love, we will show humility in our dealings with others, and before God.
"In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth."-Ge l:1
Geologists say the earth was formed many millions of years ago. The Bible tells us nothing about when the earth was formed just that it was already in existence when God began to prepare it for man to live upon. There is no conflict between true science and the Bible.
"Ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God."-Col 3:3
Because everyone is under the death sentence which came upon mankind when Adam was disobedient, God considers all of us dead, or dying. But those who belong to Christ are counted by God as having a new life-the beginning of a life which will eventually be born as a spirit being in heaven.
"Pray without ceasing!"-1Th 5:17
Daniel was a good example to us of persistence in praying. With his windows open for all to see, he knelt in prayer to God three times a day, although it caused his enemies to have him thrown into the lionsí den. God delivered Daniel from the teeth of the lions because of his great trust. Jesus said, "Watch and pray that ye enter not into temptation."-The strength he gained in prayer enabled him to resist temptation and to be faithful unto death.
"Thou art an holy people unto the LORD thy God: the LORD thy God hath chosen thee to be a special people unto himself above all people."-De 7:6
God chose the nation of Israel to be his special people, and dealt with them as such from the time of the death of Jacob until three and one-half years after the crucifixion of Jesus. God chose Israel to deal with as an example to the rest of the world. When they obeyed and trusted him, they did well. When they were disobedient, they suffered misfortune.
"The fear (reverence) of the LORD is the instruction of wisdom and before honor is humility."-Pr 15:33
It is hard not to think more highly of ourselves than we ought. Thinking about and doing for others first will keep us humble. Jesusí obedience to the Heavenly Father showed his true humility; he gave his life to save the world from eternal death. First he was humble-then he was honored.
"Lord, how oft shall ... I forgive? ... Jesus saith.... Until seventy times seven."-Mt 18:21,22
Jesus gave a parable concerning a servant whose master forgave him a huge debt, but he turned around and refused to forgive a small amount owed to him. His master was very angry and had him put in prison. This lesson was to help us realize how much God has forgiven us, and we should forgive others also.
"All the Law is fulfilled in ... this; Thou shaft love thy neighbor as thyself."-Ga 5:14
Jesus gave us a new commandment to obey-one which included all Godís laws-that we should love others as we love ourselves. We should always think of the needs and wishes of others, just as if they were our own needs and wishes. As we learn to really care about other people, it becomes easier to grow in this love. And God will help us, and be very pleased with our efforts.
"Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world."-Col 2:8
As we study the plan of the ages, we need to carefully search Godís Word to make sure our understanding of each part agrees with the entire Bible. At first, some false teachings sound Scripturally correct, which later prove to be wrong. By checking, searching, and comparing, we can see the difference between truth and error.
"Precept must be upon precept ... line upon line ... here a little, there a little."-Isa 28:10
Just as we learn mathematics, or chemistry, or any other subject step by step, so the truth is learned in this way also. First we build a foundation of knowledge, and then we add to it as we continue to study.
"Thou shall call and I will answer thee: thou wilt have a desire to the work of throe hands."-Job 14:15
In the millennial kingdom, at the call of the Christ as Godís agency, all will come forth from the grave. The LORDíS desire is to have perfect people living in obedience on this earth; they are his workmanship.
"God himself formed the earth .... He created it not in vain, he formed it to be inhabited."-Isa 45:18
We know God had a plan in mind when he created the earth-he made it to be inhabited by the human race. In the thousand-year kingdom of Christ, the resurrected world will be blessed by Jesus and his bride, the true Christians of this Gospel Age. Although they will be unseen spirit beings, all will recognize their blessings and be very happy w receive them.
"God ... bath in these last days spoken to us by his Son."-He 1:1,2
Before Jesus came w earth, God had sent angels as messengers to men. The prophets were inspired to record their messages so others could read them. God caused the writers of the New Testament to recount the words and actions of Jesus and the apostles, ending the need for angelic messages. Now we have both written down to teach us all that is necessary for us to know about Godís plan.
"Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path. "-Ps 119:105
Since the Bible is Godís Word, the Psalms quoted tells us this Book is our lamp. It enlightens our minds, just as an ordinary lamp lights up a room, or a path on a dark night. From the Bible we learn about God and his plans. It is truly a magnificent lamp!
7 will instruct thee and teach thee in the way which thou shah go: I will guide thee with mine eye."-Ps 32:8
The Bible tells us the eye is the symbol of wisdom: God guides us with his wisdom. An obedient child looks to his parent, and when he detects a look of displeasure in his parentís eyes, he responds with the appropriate change of behavior. So it is with us. We do not need to be reprimanded by God, but look to him for guidance and behave accordingly.
"There shall be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and the unjust."-Ac 24:15
The Apostle Paul told Felix, governor of Judea, that God planned to resurrect, or raise to life again at a certain time, all dead people whether good or bad. This promise has been a very great comfort to millions of people. We are very fortunate to know something of our Heavenly Fatherís loving plans for mankind.
"He shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways."-Ps 91:11
In the Bible we are told that human beings were created a little lower than the angels. The word angel means Ďmessengerí, so angels are Godís messengers. God gives them work to do. Sometimes these tasks have to do with helping Godís human children. Christians are happy to know there are heavenly angels, whose special work is to help them do what is right.
"This Gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come."-Mt 24:14
Christians are to witness to all the world, sharing the good news of Jesusí ransom sacrifice and the coming kingdom. Elsewhere he states that at his second coming there would be a time of trouble such as never was before. This clearly indicates that the world in general would not be converted to him as soon as he returned.
"Of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shaft not eat of it."-Ge 2:17
When God commanded Adam and Eve not to eat of the fruit of this special tree, he was testing their obedience. The fruit itself did not miraculously teach them good or evil; but it was the act of disobeying God by eating what they had been forbidden to eat which opened their eyes to evil and its results.
"Do ye not know that the saints shall judge the world?"-1Co 6:2
The Apostle Paul reminded the disciples at Corinth that during the Millennial Age the faithful Christians of this Gospel Age will be associated with Christ in judging and blessing the world. The thousand-year Judgment Day will be a time of learning and joy. All people will come to know Godís loving character, and enjoy the happiness which comes firm obedience to his perfect laws.
"I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people."-Jer 31:33
In the kingdom, through experience, example, and correction, Godís law will become part of each personís character. Living in harmony with Godís laws will be the natural and desired way of life. The world will be filled with people who say in their hearts, "I delight to do thy will, O my God!"
The desert shall rejoice, and blossom as the rose."-Isa 35:1
This beautiful scripture speaks of the kingdom of Christ and forever afterwards, when the earth will produce perfect and abundant food and flowers. Not only the people, but also the earth and all which is in it, will be perfect.
"God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away."-Re 21:4
Think how glorious that will be! In the eternity beyond the Millennial Age there will be a perfect earth populated by perfect people, with nothing to cause unhappiness. The whole human race will always honor Jesus as their Savior, Redeemer, and Deliverer.
"Satan himself is transformed into (or disguised as) an angel of light."-2Co 11:14
Satan uses many different ways to deceive people, and to lead them away from God. One method he employs is to pretend he represents God, bringing truth and light from God In reality, he brings error and darkness.
"Be perfect."-2Co 13:11
One meaning of the word perfect is Ďmatureí. We become more mature as Christians through study, encouraging one another, and increasing our love for God and for Jesus. Our goal of maturity is that mark of perfect love, when we are able to love even our enemies.
"God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace (or favor) to the humble."-1Pe 5:5
Proud people think they do not need God; they feel they can do everything by themselves. Humble individuals trust God rather than themselves. In the desire to do important things, pride often pushes others out of the way, and takes charge. God resists this attitude, and favors, instead, those who turn to him for direction and leading.
"Thou shah love thy neighbor as thyself."-Mt 19:19
When we love others as much as we love ourselves, we are happy with their joys, and sympathize with their sorrows. By obeying this commandment to love God with all our hearts, and our neighbors as ourselves, we find these two laws are enough-in obeying them we would never deliberately hurt others.
"Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you."-1Pe 4:12
Difficult experiences help us learn to trust in God, to look to him for strength and guidance, and to realize that no one can care for us or satisfy us as he does. They also prove our love and loyalty to the LORD, and strengthen our character.
"What doth the LORD require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?"-Mic 6:8
These qualities are required of everyone who would have any standing with the LORD, and they are a summary of the Law. This statement was made only to Israel, and in it the LORD included all the commandments. The entire world of mankind will be required to live up to the same standard by the end of the Millennial Age.
"They received the Word with all readiness of mind, and searched the Scriptures daily, [to see] whether those things were so."-Ac 17:11
The brethren at Berea were wise to study the Scriptures daily, making sure that Paul and Silas were teaching them the truth. This is an example to us. We are to accept as truth only what God has said about each subject, by verifying it with the Bible.
"Casting all your care upon him, for he careth for you."-1Pe 5:7
How wonderful to have this promise, and to know that God cares for us. He is willing for us to bring all our worries and problems to him in prayer, and to become more reliant each day on his care and guidance.
"Resist the devil, and he will flee from you."-Jas 4:7
When the devil tempted him, Jesus quickly said, "Get thee behind me."-It is very important that Christians follow this example, making a positive and prompt decision to resist the suggestion of evil.
"Our friend Lazarus sleepeth; but I go, that I may awake him out of sleep."-Joh 11:11-14
Jesus was telling his friends that death is somewhat like sleeping. Just as we expect to awaken the next morning when we go to sleep at night, so we expect to awaken from the sleep of death in the morning of the Millennial Age. In due time all will awake from the sleep of death because Jesus gave his life as a corresponding price for the life Adam lost through disobedience.
"Thy Word have 1 hid in mine heart, that 1 might not sin against thee."-Ps 119:11
Godís Word is necessary as a guide to a knowledge of him. More than this, it is necessary that the truth of the Scriptures fill our hearts. Thus we can know God, appreciate his glorious character, and apply these lessons in our lives.
"Whom the LORD loveth he correcteth."-Pr 3:12
Good parents correct their children when they do wrong, and teach them what is right. God loves his children too, and so he corrects us and shows us, and helps us to do what is right. When we do wrong, we often bring trouble to ourselves and sometimes to others.
A man shall "leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto (or be joined with) his wife: and they shall be one flesh."-Ge 2:24
It was Godís design that when a man and a woman love each other they would leave their childhood homes and make a new home together, loving and serving each other for the rest of their lives. Jesus loves his church in the same way a husband loves his bride-he keeps her safe and cares for her well-being.
"A fool uttereth (or tells) all his mind: but a wise man keepeth it in till afterwards."-Pr 29:11
We often speak before we take time to carefully consider the matter, and the thoughts we express are really quite foolish at times. With more careful consideration, our words might be more helpful. Abraham Lincoln said: "It is better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak up and remove all doubt."-
"He that bath no rule over his own spirit is like a city that is broken down, and without walls."-Pr 25:28
Long ago, a city without walls was easy to break into and conquer. If we have no self-control nor good moral values to guide our lives, it is as though we have no walls. Then it is easy for selfish and destructive thoughts and actions to enter and control our lives.
"Now it is , high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we first] believed."-Ro 13:11
Godís invitation to serve him, and live with him in heaven, will never be repeated; and this age of opportunity is rapidly ending. If we have been lazy, or have put off making a decision to dedicate our lives to serving God, now is the time to make that decision.
"The hope which is laid up for you in heaven, whereof ye heard before in the Word of the truth of the Gospel."-Col 1:5
This hope of a resurrection to life in heaven has been promised to Jesusí followers many times in the Bible. This is the hope Christians hold so dear-that they might spend eternity with the Heavenly Father and his dear Son, sharing in the wonderful work of making this earth a paradise, and helping the people on it to reach perfection.
"I perceive that God is no respecter of persons."-Ac 10:34
God is perfect in love, justice, wisdom, and power. He will give everyone a full, fair chance to know and worship him. He is not partial to some people over others -all people are precious in his sight!
"Ye thought evil against me, but God meant it unto good."-Ge 50:20
Josephís brothers spoke of killing him, but instead they sold him as a slave, and told their father a wild ani- mal had killed him. Many years later, when they met Joseph again, he was neither angry nor bitter with them, especially when he learned how sorry they were for what they had done. He knew God had sent him to Egypt to collect the grain that would save many lives, including his brothers and his father.
"The fruit of the Spirit is love."-Ga 5:22
Jesus compared himself to a vine and his people to the branches which are expected to bring forth fruit the development of heart and character. One of these fruits is love. The Greek word here translated love is agape. This is the highest kind of love-love that does not have to be earned, and is unconditional. We love others as God loves us.
"The fruit of the Spirit is ... joy."-Ga 5:22
Joy is cheerfulness, gladness, calm delight. To know God cares for us, to be able to go to him in prayer and be strengthened, guided, and comforted by him, should surely give us this joy.
"The fruit of the Spirit is. .. peace."-Ga 5:22
Peace is quietness or rest. Knowing God is working out the plan he formed from the beginning of time to make this world a garden paradise for all people, gives us peace of mind-peace which should last even when events in our lives are unhappy. If we have dedicated our lives to God, we are assured that even these unpleasant times are developing our Christian characters.
"The fruit of the Spirit is ... longsuffering (patience)."-Ga 5:22
Some of our hardest lessons come in learning to wait patiently; human nature wants what it wants when it wants it! While looking for God to direct our lives, we need to learn patience, waiting to see what opportunities and experiences he has in store for us before making up our minds as to our course of action.
"The fruit of the Spirit is ... gentleness."-Ga 5:22
Everyone enjoys being around kind, gentle people who are considerate of the feelings of others, and sympathetic to their needs. Gentleness is an important aspect of the love mentioned in this verse-the agape, or unconditional, love.
"The fruit of the Spirit is ... goodness."-Ga 5:22
One dictionary gives the meaning for the word goodness as Ďthe best partí. That is a good definition of the goodness Christians must develop-the best part of themselves. Meanness, bitterness, impatience, etc., will become less and less an ingredient in their characters, as the best part increases.
"The fruit of the Spirit ... is faith."-Ga 5:22
Prophecies God caused to be written so long ago have come true at the exact times foretold; only menís expectations of times and methods of fulfillment have erred. Therefore, as we are assured of his control over world events of the future also, our faith does increase.
"My son, give me throe heart, and let throe eyes observe my ways."-Pr 23:26
When we give our hearts to God, we hold nothing back. We give him all we have and all we are, in joyful service. We learn of his great plan and the attributes of his character from the study of his Word. Thus our love for him increases, as well as our desire for more wisdom and understanding. Each depends on the other.
"Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the LORD."-Ro 12:19
We are not to retaliate when someone injures us, but to leave to the LORD the rendering of justice in his own time. Vengeance has the thought of carrying out justice, and we are incapable of doing this.
"Delight thyself also in the LORDS and he shall dive thee the desires of throe heart."-Ps 37:4
To delight in the LORD would mean his will is the very center of our affections-that we look for his will and direction in every phase of our lives. Because his will is our will, the desires of our hearts will be harmonious with his plan and his purposes for us, and he is pleased to grant them.
"Jesus wept."-Joh 11:35
When Jesusí dear friend, Lazarus, died, his sisters, Mary and Martha, wept. Jesus was filled with sympathy for them, and he wept also. Then, as an illustration of the time when all who have died will be resurrected, Jesus awakened Lazarus from the sleep of death. No wonder, on the night Jesus was born, the angel spoke of good tidings of great joy!
"I have given them (Jesusí followers) thy (Godís) Word; and the world hath hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world."-Joh 17:14
Many people of his day disliked Jesus because his goodness exposed their lack of obedience to Godís principles. Jesus knew his followers would find this to be true in their lives also.
"Be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess."-Eph 5:18
Some drink alcohol so they can temporarily forget their problems. Instead of solving difficulties, drinking alcohol makes many of them worse and causes other problems. As Christians, let us bring every power and talent of mind and body into full subjection to the will of God, rejecting the excessive use of alcohol as a detriment to developing our characters.
"I say unto you, That it shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the Day of Judgment, than for thee."-Mt 11:24
The people of Capernaum were privileged in that they had seen Jesusí mighty works and had heard his sermons. In spite of all this, they did not repent The Sodomites, on the other hand, were not as responsible for their sins since they had been destroyed without having heard the Gospel or having had an opportunity to repent.
"A book of remembrance was written before him for them that feared (reverenced) the LORD, and that thought upon his name."-Mal 3:16
In describing the things he does, God uses terms we can understand. Whether or not God has an actual book naming those who love him, the thought is that he is aware of all who are trying to please him, and who spend time seeking to do his will.
"We henceforth (from now on] be no more children."-Eph 4:14
When we first begin to study Godís Word, we are as little children and can only understand the simplest of things. As time passes, and as we continue to study, we will grow and become strong. We will not be misled by false doctrines nor people who would lead us away from God and the truth.
"The steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD; and he delighteth in his way."-Ps 37:23
No experience can be considered as -uckyí or Ďunluckyí if God is directing our lives, for he is shaping all of our circumstances. We are free to make our own decisions, but when they are based on principles given in his Holy Word, we know they will eventually work out for our good.
"One is your Master, even Christ."-Mt 23:10
Jesus was truly the Master, Teacher, Leader; and those who were being taught or trained by him were called disciples, or followers. Jesus was greater by far than any ordinary teacher, because he was the Son of God, and he was perfect.
"Enter ye in at the strait (narrow) gate for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction."-Mt 7:13
A wide gate is easy to enter. This pictures living for our own pleasure and self-satisfaction, and the rewards are temporary. We need Jesus as our Savior before we can enter the narrow gate leading to the lasting blessings God has in store for us.
"We glory in tribulations also, knowing that tribulation worketh patience."-Ro 5:3
How can we be happy to have problems and trials? Only by knowing that as we endure, or solve our problems in Christlike ways, we develop Christian character. A plaque we often see reads, "LORD, give me patience, and give it to me right now!" This sounds as if patience were a gift. However, for most of us, it is developed by years of trusting in God through our many experiences.
"Mary bath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her. Ď~-Lu 10:42
Jesus spoke these words to Martha when she complained that Mary was not helping her serve the food, but was sitting at Jesusí feet, learning from him. This verse shows us that we need to take whatever opportunities we have to learn of Jesus-that this is more important than the cares of daily living.
"The Son of man (Jesus) is come to seek and to save that which was lost."-Lu 19:10
What was lost? When he disobeyed God, Adam lost his life as well as human perfection and a paradise home here on earth. These will be restored during, and by, the millennial reign of Christ, for they have been purchased back-saved-by our Redeemer.
"Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped."-Isa 35:5; 29:18
When Christís kingdom is in operation on earth, no one will be blind, nor deaf, nor handicapped in any other way. Everyone will be able to understand Godís laws of righteousness and goodness, to which so many are blindí and Ďdeaf now, because they cannot understand.
"Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over .... With the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again."-Lu 6:38
Picture a cup of flour which, when first filled, is truly full. But if you shake it down, press it down, and pile more on top, you can get even more flour into the cup. Since God has blessed us with so many good things, let us be generous and share what we have with others liberally.
"Unto Timothy, my own son in the faith: Grace, mercy and peace, from God our Father and Jesus Christ our Lord."-1Ti 1:2
Paul loved Timothy as a son and a brother, for they shared a deep faith in God and Jesus. In this letter Paul prayed that Timothy would have Godís favor, and that God would deal kindly with him, giving him the peace that comes only from serving God to the best of our ability, knowing he is working in our lives.
"This is the day which the LORD hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it."-Ps 118:24
Each day is a gift from God. Let us thank him for the opportunities to learn from the experiences he has permitted for us in our daily lives. We know it is only through these lessons we can have lasting happiness.
"How much better it is to get wisdom than gold! and to get understanding rather ... than silver!"-Pr 16:16
Obtaining a knowledge of Godís perfect character of wisdom, justice, love, and power, and his plan for all the world of mankind, is far more important than gaining much money.
"When the Son of man [Jesus] cometh, shall he find faith on the earth? "-Lu 18:8
The fact that few people in the world today believe in the Bible is no surprise! Jesus foresaw this very condition and foretold it. Christians were told to witness in all the world, but they were not told that their witnessing would convert the world to Christianity. That will happen in the kingdom, when God will write his laws in the hearts of the people.
"If thou LORD, should mark (count) iniquities, 0 LORD, who shall stand? But there is forgiveness with thee, that thou mayest be feared [reverenced]."-Ps 130:3,4
We are grateful to have the LORDíS assurance that if our hearts are in the right condition, and if we daily ask for forgiveness of our shortcomings, he will not count our failures against us.
"I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ."-Ro 1:16
The Gospel of Christ-the truths about Godís love for mankind, and his plans for them-is so wonderful the Apostle Paul was very glad to tell it to all who would listen. He was not ashamed to do so because Gospel means Ďgood newsí. Nothing we could give to or do for our friends would be as good as sharing this good news.
"Thou shaft love the LORD thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind."-Mt 22:37
Jesus said this is the greatest of the commandments. If we love God more than everything else, we will want to do those things that please him. We will try to be unselfish, help and care for others, study and share his Word, and try to live our lives as nearly as possible as Jesus lived his.
"Who is so faithful among all thy servants as David?"-1Sa 22:14
It is said that David was a man after Godís own heart. If you read the Book of Psalmss, you will understand why. David often wrote words of praise and love for God and his wonderful creation. David appreciated Godís greatness, giving him glory, honor, and praise.
"He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love."-1Jo 4:8
The Greek word used here for love is agape. This kind of love is unconditional; it does not have to be deserved. God loves because it is part of his character to do so. There are other words used in the Bible which mean other kinds of love-duty love; love for a friend; or romantic love. But agape is the best; you just love, no matter what the other person does.
"Now abideth faith, hope, charity [love], these three; but the greatest of these is charity."-1Co 13:13
The word used here for love is the same as in yesterdayís text: it is undeserved love, unconditional, agape love. Although faith in God and hope in his promises are essential, without love they would be of little benefit.
Jesus "with unto them [his disciples], How many loaves have ye? Go and see. And when they knew, they say, Five, and two fishes."-Mr 6:38
Jesusí miracles always pictured the blessings to come in his kingdom when he will feed and satisfy the needs of all the people on earth. A miracle is an act that could only be performed by the power of God. How else could they feed five thousand men, women and children with only five loaves of bread and two fish?
"If we suffer [with Christ], we shall also reign with him."-2Ti 2:12
If it is our earnest desire to reign with Christ in his kingdom, we know we must prove our faithfulness by being tested. These testings are intended to help us develop character, and to prove our love for and obedience to our Heavenly Father and his Son, Jesus.
"Ye are my witnesses, saith the LORD, that 1 am God."-Isa 43:12
God gave many promises to Israel, some of which have already been fulfilled, and others yet to come. One set of promises which has been fulfilled during this twentieth century is that the Jews would return to their land and once more become a nation. Israel has truly become a witness to Godís faithfulness in fulfilling promises -proving that he is God.
"Keep yourselves in the love of God."-Jude 21
This suggests two thoughts: Godís love for us, and our love for him. We keep ourselves in his love and show our appreciation of his love for us by studying his Word, praying to him, and trying to please him in everything we do or say. He showed his love for us by the gift of his beloved Son.
"Cause me to hear thy lovingkindness in the morning; for in thee do I trust: cause me to know the way wherein I should walk; for I lift up my soul unto thee."-Ps 143:3
Let us start each day by thinking of Godís goodness, asking him to show us what is right. We will then be able to give thanks to him for all that happens to us and for the lessons we learn. At the close of the day we will feel that we tried to do our best with his help.
"He bath showed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the LORD require of thee, but to do justly and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God."-Mic 6:8
To do justly: doing to others as we would they should do to us. To love mercy: showing compassion, kindness, and understanding to others. To walk humbly with thy God: keeping our minds teachable, recognizing the greatness of God and our own littleness.
"Behold, we count them happy which endure [or hold out]. Ye have heard of the patience of Job .... that the LORD is very pitiful, and of tender mercy."-Jas 5:11
The prophets of the LORD are examples of patient suffering. Job continued to trust in God even though he had great trouble and sorrow. God let Satan test Jobís faithfulness by taking away everything except his life. Eventually his health was restored, and he regained even more than he had lost.
"Put them in mind to be subject to principalities and powers, to obey magistrates, to be ready to every good work."-Ti 3:1
Unless the laws of our government are against the laws of God, we are to obey them. As Christians we are not to take part in civil disobedience or rioting, but are to go quietly about the work God has given us to do: witnessing to his truth and making over our lives to be as nearly like Jesus as possible.
"7t is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure [or purpose]."-Php 2:13
From the time we give up to God the doing of things our own way and accept his direction and way of doing things as our own, our lives should begin to reflect these changes. Then we will be able to develop characters more like Christís and we can share in working out Godís wonderful plan.
Lu 11:2; Job 30:31
"Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth as it is in heaven."-Mt 6:1
At no time has Godís will been done on earth by all people, so we know the kingdom for which Jesus taught us to pray is still future. Godís prophecies for the past have all been fulfilled, and we know this one, too, will come to pass.
"Give us this day our daily bread."-Mt 6:11
Jesus told Satan, "Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God."-The spiritual food with which we feed our minds is more important to a Christian than the food with which we feed our bodies.
"Forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors."-Mt 6:12
These debts or trespasses are our daily personal sins and shortcomings, not the Adamic sin which resulted in death for him and all his posterity. Let us be as quick to forgive others, as we wish forgiveness for ourselves.
"Bind them (Godís commandments) upon thy fingers, write them upon the table (tablet) of throe heart."-Pr 7:3
With Godís commandments at our fingertips, our hands would busy themselves doing all they could to further Godís plan. With them written on our hearts, having them clearly and prominently in our minds and affections, how could there be any bitterness or evil in our lives?
"No man can come to me except the Father which bath sent me draw him."-Joh 6:44
The LORD opens our hearts to receive the truth, but first we must have certain qualities so the Father can draw us. We must be teachable and seeking for him with faith and an open mind; we must have humility and honesty. The love of God touches our hearts so we cannot refrain from praising him at every opportunity.
"He shall send Jesus Christ, which before was preached unto you."-Ac 3:20
Jesus went away after his first advent to prepare a place where his followers could be with him. Now he has returned, and although we cannot see him, he is fulfilling the signs of his presence given to us in Matthew, chapter twenty-four.
God "shall send Jesus Christ ... whom the heavens must receive (retain) until the times of restitution of all things, which God bath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began."-Ac 3:21
David wrote that God would send forth his Spirit and renew the face of the earth. Isaiah wrote the ransomed of the LORD would return. Jeremiah wrote God would bring his people again to their land and cause them to dwell safely. This same message-the dead will be restored to life-is related many times in the Bible.
"Praise ye the LORD!"-Ps 146:1
During the Millennial Age, no one will ask another, "Do you know the LORD?" At that time all will know him, from the least to the greatest. When this is true, everyone will praise Godís goodness, appreciating the loving plan he and his Son have carried out for the blessing of all people.
"My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me."-Joh 10:27
Sheep are stubborn creatures; they do not like to be driven, but they will follow where their shepherd leads. So it is with our Good Shepherd, Jesus. He gently leads us, and we love and trust him. We have learned to know his voice or teachings, and to follow him; we will not follow the voice of any other. Our Good Shepherd gave his life for his sheep.
"Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and today, and forever."-He 13:8
What did our Lord Jesus do for us in the past? He came to earth, suffering and dying to redeem us from sin and death. He gave his life a ransom for all. Today? He is our friend and guide, if we love him and try to do his will. Forever? He will be the righteous ruler who will bless all the families of the earth, ending all sin, sorrow, and death.
"One thing I know, that, whereas 1 was blind, now I can see."-Joh 9:25
Human eyes need light in order to see, so God gives us this picture of being able to understand spiritual things. In using the examples and teachings of Jesus for our light, we are able to see or understand spiritual things -our lack of understanding, or blindness, is taken away.
"The LORD bath done great things for us; whereof we are glad."-Ps 126:3
Has the LORD done great things for you? It is good to sit quietly and think of all these great things. One may be to have given you the desire to learn of him, to love him and his wonderful plan of salvation at an early age. This will grow as you grow, until with all your heart you will want to follow in the footsteps of Jesus, doing only what is pleasing to him to the best of your ability.
"Being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ."-Ro 5:1
To be justified means to be Ďmade rightí, or Ďcounted as rightí. Because of Jesusí actual righteousness, and our faith in him, God counts us as being righteous. Nothing we could do on our own would accomplish this; it is only because we have Jesus as our savior that we are counted right in Godís eyes.
"God hash not given us Ďthe spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind."-2Ti 1:7
Christians need not be afraid, nor lack courage, because God gives them experiences which develop qualities of strength, a loving disposition, and a balanced mind. It takes time for these characteristics to develop.
"As for me and my house, we will serve the LORD"-Jos 24:15
Joshua had been reminding the Jewish people of many good things God had done for them in the past, and of his decision that he and his family would serve the true God. We cannot force others to serve God, but parents can take the opportunity to set an example and to teach their children about their faith in God and his promises while the children are still young and living in their parentsí home.
"Whither thou goest, I will go."-Ru 1:16
Ruth was from Moab, where they worshiped idols, while her mother-in-law, Naomi, was a Judean who worshiped the true God. When their husbands died, Ruthís decision to accept Naomiís God and to go to Judea with her, was so positive and permanent it becomes an example of those who decide to follow Christ. God blessed her faithfulness, and she became great-grandmother to King David, an ancestor of Jesus.
"God said, Let the earth bring forth the living creatures after his kind."-Ge 1:24
No instance is known where one species or kind has changed into another. You can mix black dogs with white dogs; but you cannot mix dogs with cats. Surely, if nature were the creator, or evolver, she would continue the process: species would be constantly changing, not remaining fixed, as they are. The theory of evolution is contrary to human reason, as well as to the Bible.
"As by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin, and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned."-Ro 5:12
Death entered the world as the result of Adamís disobedience. Death is not a friend, but an enemy. Only Jesus could satisfy justice on our behalf by giving his perfect life as a corresponding, or equal price for Adamís forfeited life, bringing hope for the future.
"If any man offend not in word, the same is a perfect man."-Jas 3:2
It is hard to control the words which come out of our mouths. Controlling our words will be a battle lasting our whole lifetime, and can only be won with Godís help and our sincerest efforts.
"The fathers have eaten sour grapes, and the childrenís teeth are set on edge. "- Eze 18:2
When Adam disobeyed God, he ate the sour grape of sin and he was sentenced to death-his teeth were set on edge. By heredity, all of his posterity have also been subject to death, no matter how good or well-intentioned they are. In the Millennial Age, each person will be on trial for his own behavior, Adamís sentence to death no longer being in operation.
"The living know that they shall die: but the dead know not anything."-Ec 9:5
When people die they do not know anything, because it is as though they are asleep. They are not alive nor conscious to suffer in a place of torment. It is comforting to have this knowledge.
"They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain."-Isa 11:9
Through healing of illnesses and casting out demons, Jesus and the apostles illustrated the coming time when all illness will be healed, and tears wiped from every face. God sometimes used the word mountain to picture a kingdom. This scripture refers to the kingdom of Christ as a holy mountain.
"The earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea."-Isa 11:9
At no time in the past has true knowledge of the LORD, Jehovah God, covered the earth. So far, men have had a multitude of religions. For this reason we know this verse applies to a future time.
"Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh."-Mt 12:34
Our thoughts are often spoken of as coming from our hearts, the center of our affections. Our minds are filled with whatever we expose them to each day. When we fill them with gossip or trivia, this is what comes out in our words. We are to constantly battle to overcome undesirable character traits, and enlarge on the finer, more uplifting qualities.
"Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God."-Ro 10:17
God has arranged a wonderful network to spread his Word to the people. Each one who understands Godís plans and purposes has a responsibility to share this knowledge with others. It is never to be an imposition on others, however. And we are to leave it with God as to whether or not the message prospers.
"When Daniel knew that the writing [of the law] was signed, he went into his house; and ... kneeled upon his knees three times a day, and prayed."-Da 6:10
Daniel served King Darius faithfully and loyally, because that was his job. In any matter where allegiance to the king would interfere with his obedience to Godís commandments, Daniel chose the latter, regardless of the penalties imposed.
Satan said, "I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the Most High (God)."-Isa 14:14
Satan attempted to set up a kingdom to rival Godís future kingdom. When Satan tried to persuade Jesus to worship him, Jesus answered with the scripture: "Thou shah worship the LORD thy God, and him only shaft thou serve."-We, too, must be quick to turn to God when false gods try to win our affection and worship.
"Be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods."-Da 3:17,18
The three Hebrews were thrown into the fiery furnace for their refusal to worship a god other than Jehovah. They were sure their God was able to save them, but even if he did not, they would still be his faithful servants, worshiping him alone. Such faith and courage! We do not expect that in every case God will deliver us, but we will trust him even when we cannot trace his actions.
"To Titus, mine own son after the common faith: Grace, mercy, and peace, from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ our Savior."-Ti 1:4
Thus was the son of Gentile parents. Possibly Paul introduced him to Christianity, and loved him as a son. Thus was courageous, resourceful, and completely dedicated to the common faith-the faith shared by all of Jesusí followers.
"Before it came to pass 1 showed it [to] thee: lest thou shouldest say, Mine idol bath done them, and my graven image, and my molten image, bath commanded them."-Isa 48:5
So the events of history could not be considered happenstance, God often foretold them to his people. When they came to pass they could see God had foreknown them. In this way, false means of prophecy such as astrology or idols, etc., could not be credited for the acts.
"What if some did not believe? Shall their unbelief make the faith of God without effect? "-Ro 3:3
Even though many do not believe in God, it does not mean his plan is not being carried out. God knows the end from the beginning. Nothing can prevent the church from being completed and the kingdom of Christ from being established, bringing blessings to all the families of the earth.
"Take heed that ye do not your alms facts of righteousness] before men, to be seen of them .... Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. "-Mt 6:1,2
If we do good deeds in order to bring praise and glory to ourselves, then they are not being done to please God. The praise we get from others is all the reward we will get for them: God will not reward us further.
"It shall come to pass, that before they call, I will answer; and while they are yet speaking, I will hear."-Isa 65:24
God remembers all his people who come to him with humble and repentant hearts. He is merely waiting for us to call out to him for help in our times of difficulty and need, with willing hearts to accept his provisions for us, knowing they are in our best interest.
"Lead me in thy truth, and teach me: for thou art the God of my salvation. "- Ps 25:5
In this age, God is leading only a little flock into the truth, offering them salvation through the ransom paid by his dear Son. In the Millennial Age, through Christ and his little flock, God will have all men to be saved and come to a knowledge of the truth.
"Jesus being full of the Holy Ghost [Spirit] returned from Jordan, and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness."-Lu 4:1
The word ghost in the text is from the Greek word pneuma. A better translation would be Ďspirití or Ďvital principleí. Jesus was filled with Godís Holy Spirit at Jordan. He went into the mountains, away from every distraction, for forty days, to study, to pray, and to meditate on Godís Word.
"7 am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live."-Joh 11:25
Since Adamís transgression and sentence, God considers the human race as dead, or dying. What human being ever lived who did not eventually die? And yet, through faith in Jesusí ransom sacrifice, we have the opportunity for everlasting life. So, although we are considered dead, we can all have life through Christ.
"The meek will he guide in judgment: and the meek will he teach his way."-Ps 25:9
People who are meek are not proud, but are humble and patient. Such are ready to learn; they are the ones whom God is ready to teach. Jesus was meek. He was the Son of God, yet he was not proud.
"God commendeth (or proves) his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us."-Ro 5:8
God knows no one is without sin, yet he showed his love for us by sending Jesus, who was obedient unto death, to make possible the opportunity for life to all in due time.
"Watch ye and pray, lest ye enter into temptation. The spirit truly is ready, but the flesh is weak."-Mr 14:38
We do not know in advance what temptations will come to us. As we study and pray we will be better prepared to recognize them when they do come, and stronger to overcome them.
"The words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life."-Joh 6:63
Jesusí words show us the Spirit of God. The miracles he worked demonstrate the power of God. His words were Ďwords of lifeí in that they brought to us the terms upon which we may have everlasting life.
"Blessed are your eyes, for they see: and your ears, for they hear."-Mt 13:16
Jesusí disciples were very fortunate because they could understand, see, and hear, what he was teaching. Some people heard his words but did not understand what he meant. Jesus knew those who understood received a blessing, and so he said his followersí eyes and ears were blessed.
"The Holy Ghost (Spirit), ... shall teach you all things."-Joh 14:26
The men who translated the Bible into English believed the Holy Spirit was a spirit being, or person, so they used the word Ďheí when they should have used Ďití. After Jesus died, God used his power to enable the disciples to remember and understand Jesusí teachings. The Holy Spirit is not a person, but is the power or influence of God.
"Be sober, be vigilant (watchful); because your adversary (enemy) the devil (Satan), as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour."-1Pe 5:8
A lion roars when it is ready to attack its prey, frightening the other animal so much it cannot move; then the lion springs on its victim. Satan, too, is very cunning, but he is more subtle and does not attack us with a roar. We need to be watchful so as not to be led away from God.
"Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect."-Mt 5:48
According to Strongís Concordance, the word perfect means Ďcompleteí.í Thereforeí refers back to the preceding verses, which tell us in what way we can be complete. Just as God gives blessings to the wicked as well as to the good, we are to love our enemies as well as our friends.
"He laid hold on ... Satan, and bound him a thousand years."-Re 20:2
The object of the Millennial Age is to give all mankind a full, fair opportunity to learn of Godís plans and purposes. With Satan bound and powerless, deceptions, superstitions, and ignorance will disappear. At the end of the thousand years he will be loosed for a time, allowing him to bring a final test of heart-loyalty to God upon mankind.
"Behold, I create new heavens and a new earth."-Isa 65:17
In the kingdom, Christ and the glorified church will be the new heavens, or spiritual control, over the earth. Earthís society will be reorganized under this government on the basis of love and justice, instead of selfishness and oppression.
"The former shall not be remembered, nor come into mind."-Isa 65:17
After mankind has been regenerated, or brought to life again, there will be a new arrangement of things-a complete change from present disorder and sin. People will still be able to remember those former things, but will discard them as not to be compared favorably with the wonderful earthly arrangements of the kingdom!
"Let not mercy and truth forsake thee."-Pr 3:3
Mercy and truth are parts of Godís character, and they are to become essential parts of ours. Truth indicates sincerity and honesty in all our affairs; mercy indicates the same considerate treatment for other peopleís failings and sufferings as we would wish for our own.
"Everyone that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand."-Mt 7:26
Godís teachings in the Bible are the foundation upon which we build our lives; they are true and never change. But sand shifts, and strong winds can destroy anything built upon it. Let us base our lives on the firm foundation of Godís Word, rather than on the creeds and traditions of men.
Jesus "gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time (the proper time)."-1Ti 2:6
Adam was created with a perfect human life. But when he disobeyed God his sentence of death passed on to all people. Because Jesus lived in obedience to God, he was able to give the value of his perfect human life as a ransom, or corresponding price, for the perfect life Adam had forfeited. The due time for all to know this is during Christís kingdom, and it will then be made clear to every-one.
"Peace 1 leave with you, my peace 1 give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid."-Joh 14:27
Knowing God has a plan for all mankind which will eventually bring peace and joy to the world, and knowing that a burning hell is nowhere taught in the Bible-these are the things that bring us peace of mind and confidence in God. Worldly pleasures cannot give perfect peace, but the promises of God are sure, and they do bring us peace.
"I must work the works of him that sent me."-Joh 9:4
Jesus knew there were many prophecies he must fulfill before he could successfully ransom mankind back from death caused by Adamís disobedience. He was faithful in all things, and God was pleased with him.
"Thou art my hope, O LORD God: thou art my trust from my youth."-Ps 71:5
No doubts or fears can overwhelm us if we trust and lean upon the LORD. He has said he will never leave nor forsake us, so we may boldly say, The LORD is my helper, and I will not fear what men shall do unto me! It is a great blessing to know and love the LORD while we are still young.
Jesus said, "I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life."-Joh 8:12
As a beam of light shows a path on a dark night, so Jesusí teachings pictorially enlighten the path a Christian takes in life. Darkness suggests ignorance and evil deeds. If we walk in the light of our Lordís teachings, reflecting this light continually, it will be an example to those in darkness.
Jesus said, "If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples."-Joh 8:31
If we do things by fits and starts we shall not make much progress. Jesus knew this, and so he advised his disciples to continually think and live according to his teachings. By so doing, they prove they are truly his disciples, followers whose chief desire is to learn from him.
"Unto you that fear (reverence) my name shall the Sun of righteousness arise with healing in his wings (beams)."-Mal 4:2
Those who truly reverence Jesus, the Sun of righteousness, will be able to appreciate the beginning, or dawning, of the day when the Messiah will heal, console, forgive, and instruct all the families of the earth, putting an end to sin, pain, sorrow, and death.
† " The LORD disciplines him whom he loves and chastens every son whom he receives."-He 12:6, RSV
God disciplines those who follow in Jesusí footsteps, because he cares about them. He knows these chastenings will help us to develop patience, faith, obedience, loyalty, etc. Just as earthly parents do with their children, he teaches and corrects us as his children.
"Lord, teach us to pray."-Lu 11:1
Prayer is a wonderful privilege. It is important to pray in the right manner; thus the disciples made this request of Jesus. We can come to God with loving hearts and tell him of our desires and hopes, always leaving the results with him. He knows what is best for us, and sometimes says, No, to our requests. We do not ask for earthly blessings, but rather for those things which will help us to develop our characters.
"It came to pass at the end of the forty days, that Noah opened the window of the ark which he had made."-Ge 8:6
Two interesting phrases in the King Jamesí Translation are: Ďit came to passí, and Ďit shall come to passí. Prophecies were given by God to show historyís events were known to him from the beginning, and to have our faith increased. When we read these phrases, we are reading of the fulfillment of that which God had already foretold.
"He that denieth me before men shall be denied before the angels of God.í-Lu 12:9
Any who say they are disciples of Christ, but ignore, misrepresent, or deny his teachings, are those to whom this scripture refers. One would not be denying him in this sense, if they had not first claimed to know him and his teachings.
"Walk in wisdom toward them that are without (outside the faith), redeeming (buying back) the time."- Col 4:5
We are to use our time carefully, saving as much as we can for prayer and study, which are necessary for growth in our relationship with God. Time is like money-it can be spent only once. Those outside the Christian faith could take up so much of our time with earthly endeavors that none would be left for the things which are so important to a Christian.
"Whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the LORD, and not unto men."-Col 3:23
If we lack the opportunity to spend our lives teaching others about God, we can still serve him by giving our time and energy to help our brethren in Christ. We can write cheerful, encouraging letters to them; visit those who are sick or isolated; and find other ways to be helpful to them. When we give up things we enjoy doing in order to spend time helping others, God accepts this as our offering to him.
"The angel of the LORD appeareth to Joseph in a dream, saying, Arise, and take the young child and his mother, and flee into Egypt."-Mt 2:13
When King Herod learned that a child had been born who was to become king of the Jews, he tried to destroy Jesus by ordering all children two years old and younger to be killed. Godís plan for Jesus to be the Savior of the world could not be hindered, and he was taken safely out of the wicked kingís reach.
"Men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God."-2Pe 1:21, RSV
God influenced the minds of the prophets to write of things to come. Some prophecies have already been fulfilled, and many others are for a later time. For example: prophecies that the Jews were to be scattered throughout many countries and then return to Israel have had fulfillment; but prophecies that wars will cease are still future. The prophecies of the Bible are fulfilled at the right time.
"In thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed."-Ge 22:18
An angel gave Abraham this message from God. Who is meant by the seed of Abraham? The Apostle Paul tells us it refers to Christ, and includes those who are his faithful followers in the Gospel Age. The word nations is sometimes translated Ďfamiliesí, assuring us that, in due time, all people will be blessed by Christ and his church.
"We know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose."-Ro 8:28
At present God is dealing only with those who are called according to his purpose-which is the development of the church. So long as they are faithful, the experiences of their lives will be overruled by God to develop in them characters more like our example, Jesus. In Christís kingdom, all things will work together for everyoneís good!
"When I am weak, then am I strong."-2Co 12:10
Being weak means recognizing our imperfections and shortcomings. When we are fully loyal to the LORD, we feel these weaknesses keenly. Our strength comes from relying upon God and his dear Son for help and guidance.
"Children, obey your parents in the LORD: for this is right."-Eph 6:1
Since children need care, guidance, and protection until they are mature enough to have homes of their own, God established families. Parents are not automatically perfect, but most of them care for the needs of their children the best they can. Jesus, also, was subject to his parents while he was growing up.
"Ye shall know them by their fruits."-Mt 7:16
In the same way that you can tell a tree by the kind of fruit it bears, you can tell what kind of person someone is from the life he leads. As we see how he spends his time and energy, we see whether his life is being spent in the service of God, or in seeking human pleasures.
"Worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness."-Ps 29:2
To worship the LORD means to love and praise him, to bow before him with reverence. Holiness is purity and goodness: so we do praise his goodness from our hearts, for we have learned of the beauty of his character.
"When ye pray, say, Our Father which art in heaven."-Lu 11:2
Jesus is not telling us we should use these exact words, but rather, to pray Ďin this mannerí. We acknowledge God, the Heavenly Father, at the start of each prayer, coming to him with earnest hearts, with thanksgiving, keeping our requests simple and in accordance with his plans and purposes.
"Except ye be converted [changed], and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven."-Mt 18:3
Children are candid and open, and live in a world of wonder. As a child trusts his parents, we need to trust God. In this way mature people can have childlike minds, receiving the LORDíS words readily and with simplicity of heart.
"Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God."-Jas 1:13
Many think their problems come from God. Often our difficulties are of our own making, resulting from pride, weakness, lack of faith, or other shortcomings. When asked, God will help us to overcome evil, or forgive us when we cannot triumph over it, but he does not send evil to us.
"Who maketh thee to differ from another, and what bast thou that thou didst not receive?"-1Co 4:7
We all have different talents-some have very special ones, and some quite ordinary. Because of this we differ greatly one from another. We realize we have received these blessings, not by our own wisdom or work, but by the grace of God. We appreciate whatever talents we have, acknowledging that they are from our Heavenly Father.
"If ye walk in my statutes, and keep my commandments, ... I will walk among you, and will be your God and ye shall be my people."-Le 26:3,12
When parents begin raising a family, one of the first things they do is set down some rules so the children will know what is expected of them. That way, everyone will be working together. God gave rules, or laws, to the people of Israel. The most important ones are called the Ten Commandments, but there were many others.
"All the earth shall be devoured with the fire of my jealousy (zeal). For then will I turn to the people a pure language, that they may ... serve him (God) with one consent."-Zep 3:8,9
There can be no doubt that this is pictorial language, for should the earth be destroyed by literal fire, there would be no people to whom God could turn a pure language. This scripture foretells the destruction of the worldís ungodly institutions. He then will speak plainly and clearly so everyone will know he is God.
"Go to the ant, thou sluggard (idle person); consider her ways, and be wise. "-Pr 6:6
A little ant might seem an odd thing to consider, but Solomon did not think so. Once a man, alone in a ruined building, watched an ant trying to carry a grain of corn up a wall. He counted the efforts made by the ant and saw the grain fall back down sixty-nine times. On the seventieth try, the ant reached the top. This is our lesson: we should never give up trying to do Godís will.
"Let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name."-He 13:15
Long ago the Israelites sacrificed bulls, goats, grain, etc., to show their appreciation of Godís favor. We have a different arrangement, but we still offer sacrifices, and praise is one of them. Praising God shows our appreciation of his greatness, and also acknowledges our need of him.
"Oh that men would praise the LORD for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men!"-Ps 107:8
So many years after this was written, his mercies and blessings are still taken for granted, and few have time to say, "Thank you, LORD."-Since we have learned to know our Heavenly Father and to love him, we want to praise him with all our hearts as we accept many, many blessings from his loving hands.
"0 give thanks unto the LORD; for he is good: for his mercy endureth forever."-Ps 136:1
Many feel they have little for which to be thankful. Indeed, there are those who have almost nothing of this worldís goods, and those who know nothing of a loving God. We are privileged to know that God has provided a Savior for all, and that the time is coming when everyone will be blessed. Then they will recognize his goodness and mercy, and the broadness of his love.
"Faith is the substance of things hoped for."-He 11:1
Faith is the real substance, or mental understanding, which stimulates and clears our mind, . We cannot hold it in our hands, or walk on it with our feet, but it becomes strength to our minds as we progress in the knowledge of God. And, as we gain more understanding of Godís promises through study, fellowship, and prayer, our faith increases.
"Lord, to whom shall we go? Thou bast the words of eternal life."-Joh 6:68
Some of Jesusí followers had left him because they did not understand or appreciate his teachings. When this happened, he asked the apostles if they also would leave him. Peter, realizing Jesus was the Son of God, answered him in the words of our text. We also realize there is nowhere else to turn, and that Jesusí words lead to eternal life.
Aaron "shall be thy spokesman unto the people .... and thou (Moses) shall be to him instead of God."-Ex 4:16
This is another of Godís wonderful pictures for us. Moses here pictures God, and Aaron pictures Jesus. Before he came to earth to be born as a human being, Jesus was the Logos, the ĎWordí. The Logos was Godís mouthpiece, speaking Godís Word to angels and to people, just as Aaron spoke Mosesí words to the people of Israel.
"Christ our passover is sacrificed for us."-1Co 5:7
The Israelites ate the Passover lamb in their homes, and sprinkled their doorposts and lintels with the blood of the lamb so the angel of death would pass over them. This blood pictured Jesus, the Lamb of God, whose blood is pictorially sprinkled in our hearts so that Adamic death Ďpasses overí us.
"We are unprofitable servants: we have done that which was our duty to do."-Lu 17:10
It is our duty to do Godís will, because if he had not created us, we would not exist. None of us is indispensable to God, to do his work, or to bring him glory; someone else could just as well do that which we do. The opportunity to work for God is to our advantage-we are the ones who benefit.
"The liberal soul shall be made fat: and he that watereth shall be watered also himself. "-Pr 11:25
To be liberal is to share what we have with others generously-both spiritual and material favors. The more we give to others, the more we are made Ďfatí, or receive blessings in return. The more we share the messages of truth from the Bible, the more we grow spiritually.
"The steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD: and he delighteth in his (Godís) way."-Ps 37:23
With the LORD by our side, no experience can be considered just lucky or unlucky, because he is directing all the circumstances of our lives. We are free to make our own decisions after seeking his guidance and direction always, as to what his will is for us.
"He that bath no sword, let him sell his garment, and buy one .... Lord, behold, here are two swords."-Lu 22:36,38
Why did Jesus tell the apostles to buy swords? It was necessary for the people to know that his capture was voluntary, not by force, for the apostles could have de- fended him. Jesus came to earth to give his life for the world-it was not taken from him, or forfeited as Adamís was. Jesus knew his time had come, and so he went peaceably with his captors.
"The LORD had prepared a great fish to swallow up Jonah."-Jon 1:17
The story of Jonah is the account of the first submarine ride! It tells us that Jonah prayed to God while in the belly of the fish for three days and three nights. He said, "I will sacrifice unto thee with the voice of thanksgiving," and the LORD saved Jonah.
"Love ye your enemies, and do good, and lend, hoping for nothing again; and your reward shall be great, and ye shall be the children of the Highest: for he is bind unto the unthankful and to the evil."-Lu 6:35
It is easy to love people who love us and are kind to us. But God also wants us to love those who are unkind to us, and to help them whenever we have the opportunity. In this way we will be more like our Heavenly Father, who is kind even to the unthankful.
"Jesus ... saw much people, and was moved with compassion toward them, because they were as sheep not having a shepherd."-Mr 6:34
Sheep without a shepherd can become lost as they wander in search of pasture. They might go in the wrong direction and find no grass or water. Perhaps they would be attacked by wild animals, or bitten by snakes. The sheep need a shepherd, and the people need Jesus to teach them and to help them. Jesus is called our Good Shepherd.
"Whatsoever thy hand fzndeth to do, do it with thy might."-Ec 9:10
When Moses said the Israelites would not believe he was sent by God, the LORD asked him, "What is that in thine hand?" God used the staff in Mosesí hand to work miracles, freeing Israel from Egypt. Much later, a woman named Dorcas used needle and thread in her hands to sew garments for the brethren in the church. God does not expect great miracles of us, but to use what we have at hand in serving him.
"As often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do show the Lordís death till he come."-1Co 11:26
The Lordís Supper is a memorial of his death. When his followers celebrate this memorial they are remembering his death. Jesusí memorial replaced the Passover, which was celebrated annually on the exact date. When annually we celebrate the memorial, we commemorate the giving of his life for the world.
Paul "is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my [Jesus] name before the Gentiles."-Ac 9:15
After Judas killed himself, the remaining apostles chose a replacement so their number would be complete. Their choice was Matthias (Ac 1:23-26), but he is never mentioned again. Paul is spoken of as having been chosen by God, and so we believe it was he who became the twelfth apostle. Each of the other apostles had also been chosen by God, not by men. Jesus spoke of his apostles as having been given him by his Father.
"After the way which they call heresy, so worship I (Paul) the God of my fathers."-Ac 24:14
Heresy is any opinion opposed to official or established and accepted views or doctrines. For those who had been brought up in the traditional Jewish manner, to convert to Christianity meant becoming a heretic-opposed to established religious views. Paul was not ashamed of this. It is no different now; when one differs with established religious groups he may be called a heretic.
"All this power will I (the devil) give thee .... for that is delivered unto me."-Lu 4:6
Jesus called Satan the prince of this world, and Peter called our age Ďthis present evil worldí. Within limits, God is allowing Satan to rule in order to give human beings experiences necessary for them to appreciate righteousness in the kingdom.
"Every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God, ...( but] is that spirit of antichrist."-1Jo 4:3
Some claim that Jesus was divine while here on earth. This denies his humanity, his flesh. It also contradicts the great suffering that was part of his giving his flesh for the life of the world. Had he been of the divine nature, he could not have suffered and died as a human being, the exact equivalent of perfect Adam before he sinned.
"The LORD shall utter his voice before his army."-Joe 2:11
God uses people as his Ďarmyí to carry out his purposes. Many of them are unaware, as they set out their own lifeís scenes, that God is using them in a much larger drama. Sometimes we hear of the "Force."-It is reassuring to know there is a force working for good, and that force is Godís power which will eventually triumph over evil.
"They were baptized, both men and women."-Ac 8:12
We realize that when we are lowered into the water in baptism that it is a picture of having given up our right to perfect earthly life. When we are raised out of the water it symbolizes our being brought to life again as a new creature. Since a baby could never understand the deep meaning of surrendering his earthly life to eventually gain spiritual life in heaven, we realize that infant baptism is inappropriate.
"Death and hell were cast into the lake of fire."-Re 20:14
Fire, meaning destruction in Bible symbology, was one of the most destructive agents known to the ancient world. No one would throw anything into fire to preserve it! The lake of fire is an illustration of complete destruction. When death and hell-the grave-are cast into this lake of fire, they are destroyed forever, and the death that Adam passed on to all his family will be destroyed
"In the world ye shall have tribulation [troubles or trials]."-Joh 16:33
Tribulation is from the Latin word tribulum-a thresher that separates the grain of wheat from the chaff, or waste. Christians are pictured by wheat; and the chaff illustrates the old, useless traits of which we need to rid ourselves. So our troublesome experiences are meant to separate the good, the usable, from that which is worthless.
"The Law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ."-Ga 3:24
The Law Covenant was not made with the whole world, but only with Israel. They, being imperfect, could not keep a perfect Law. Its purpose was to point out their weaknesses, showing them their need for Messiah. At his First Advent, some Jews were prepared to receive him, and for three and a half years after Jesusí death, the Early Church was composed of Jews only.
"looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith."-He 12:2
When Jesus was delivered to be crucified for our offenses, he became the author of our faith. He was the finisher because his perfect life, given for us, covers our imperfections and makes our justification possible. We look to Jesus and away from the afflictions and persecutions that may come as a result of our loyalty to him.
"Yet once more I shake not the earth only, but also heaven."-He 12:26
In the earth, God is picturing mankind. In the heaven, he is picturing religious institutions of our day. God indicates that one last time he will shake society, including the religious institutions, so things not true, not strong enough to stand up under testing, will collapse. In this way he will destroy false religions and harmful systems, making way for a kingdom which cannot be shaken.
"You [Israel] only have 1 known of all the families of the earth."-Am 3:2
Until the call of the church was opened to the Gentiles, Israel was the only nation with whom God dealt. This was because they were a typical nation, picturing the Christian church. Their journey through the wilderness pictured the life of the church on earth until it reaches Canaan-heaven. There are many other pictures in the experiences of the nation of Israel.
"Delight thyself also in the LORD; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart."-Ps 37:4
To delight in the LORD is a step further than trusting in him. This is when our hearts and affections are centered on him, and we continually look to him for divine direction. He grants the desires of our hearts when they are harmonious with his plans and purposes.
"Father .... thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world."-Joh 17:24
Jehovah, and the Logos-Jesus in his prehuman existence-loved one another and did great things together, one of which was the creation of man. When Adam disobeyed, bringing the death sentence to the human family, the Logos willingly came to earth to die so Adam and his posterity could be redeemed from that sentence, and live forever in Godís kingdom.
"Behold, thou shall ... bring forth a son, and shall call his name Jesus; ... and of his kingdom there shall be no end."-Lu 1:30-33
When Godís first creation, the Logos, was willing to be born as a human, God, through an angel, told Mary she would bear this child. In due time Jesus Christ will reign as king over all the earth, and will be recognized as Godís dear Son. Then Godís will shall be done on earth as it is now being done in heaven.
"Bethlehem .... out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel."-Mic 5:2
That Jesus was to be born in Bethlehem was fulfilled in a seemingly accidental manner-because of the taxation decree of Caesar Augustus. Yet this prophecy was written hundreds of years before the birth of Christ, naming the city where he would be born. This is another proof Jesus is the Messiah spoken of in the Old Testament, which God inspired the prophets to write.
"Behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people."-Lu 2:10
No wonder the angels above the fields of Bethlehem sang praises to God! The birth of the Savior had just been announced-the one who would save all people from the, great enemy, death.
"Unto us a child is born, unto us a Son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder."-Isa 9:6
Hundreds of years before the Logos left heaven and came to earth, being born as the babe, Jesus, in Bethlehem, Isaiah wrote the prophecy of our text. Jesus came to be the Savior of the world-of all mankind. In due time he will reign as king and will bring blessings to all the people.
"The Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth."-Joh 1:14
The Logos, the Word, or Jesus, left the spirit plane of existence to become a human being. He did not merely materialize, or appear in human form; nor was he sinful, as are all other human beings. He was a perfect man, and, as such, was full of grace and truth, and able to pay the ransom price for all.
"Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gift."-2Co 9:15
The thought of our Heavenly Father giving his beloved Son is almost too wonderful to understand! We certainly did nothing to deserve it. He gave his Son because he loves his human creation, and wants each one to have a full opportunity to make his life acceptable, and live forever in the paradise home on earth which will be the result of Christís kingdom.
"Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also."-Mt 6:21
Those who accept Godís invitation to be Jesusí followers look forward to being with him in heaven, as that is where their thoughts and desires are-where their treasure is! The rest of the people will, during the kingdom and afterwards, live on the earth; their treasure will be earthly.
"Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning."-Jas 1:17
The world has nothing it can give which is of lasting value. Everything good, and of real beauty and worth, comes from God. Whatever a man discovers and explores in Godís universe always proves the unchangeableness of his laws and plan.
"whey shall be mine, saith the LORD of hosts, in that day when 1 make up my jewels."-Mal 3:17
Those who have reverenced the LORD, whose names are written in Godís book of remembrance, are precious to him. They are compared to jewels. The first of these jewels was Jesus; now others who will be the members of the church are being cut and polished as he was. Cutting and polishing, picturing trials, is necessary for the inner beauty of the jewels to be revealed.
"Thou crownest the year with thy goodness."-Ps 65:11
At the close of each year, and crowning it, let us consider Godís goodness-how loving, kind, generous, and sympathetic he has been. Let us also look back to see what progress we have made in love, in knowledge, in developing a Christlike character, and in serving our Heavenly Father. We can then resolve, with the LORDíS help, to do still better in the New Year!
MY MORNING RESOLVE
The first thing I like to think of in the morning is thanking you for watching over me, and for caring, even when I donít ask.
Each day I will try to be honest with you, and I will try, with your help, to obey your will, and as much as possible, avoid being worldly.
I will try to be myself in front of others, attempt to be unselfish, and think before I speak. I will try to apply these things to my life, no matter what.
Knowing that you are guiding and caring for me, I will not be discouraged with the obstacles of life.
I will not complain about what you allow, because you know what is best for me.