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 THOUGHTS TO GROW IN GRACE AND KNOWLEDGE

    "But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.            To him be glory both now and for ever."  2 Peter 3:18 (KJV)

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 "FINALLY, BE ALL OF ONE MIND."
“See that none render evil for evil unto any man; but ever follow that which is good, both among yourselves, and to all men.” 1 Thessalonians 5:15
 
According to the Scriptural standard, the elect church of Christ should be the most polished, the most refined, the most polite, the most generous, the most kind of all the people in the world, -- and should be all these in the absoulte sense; not in the mere sense of an outward form and appearance of kindness, gentleness, etc., so common in the world; but a gentleness, a kindness, proceeding from the heart, proceeding from an appreciation of the Lord's spirit and the spirit of the Truth, the spirit of love, and the spirit of justice, also.
 

 

THE ROYAL PRIESTHOOD
"All that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution." 2 Timothy 3:12
 

OPPOSITION is to be expected, and will, doubtless, continue until we finish our course in death. To submit patiently to this opposition is to sacrifice our own natural preferences for the friendship and the pleasures of the present life, and to endure hardness as good soldiers for the Truth's sake, in whatever shape that hardness may come, in our effort to do the Lord's will and work of advancing the interests of His Kingdom. To be really in the Lord's service involves, first, the careful and continual study of God's plan; second, the imbibing of its spirit; leading, thirdly, to an enthusiastic zeal for its accomplishment, and to activity to the extent of ability in its service, at whatever cost or sacrifice it may require.

"THE PEACE OF GOD"
"And the peace of God, which asset passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus." Philippines 4:7 
 

THERE is nothing that puts the Christian at greater disadvantage in the presence of his foes than for him to let go, even temporarily, his grip upon the anchor of faith. Let him do so for a moment, and of necessity darkness begins to gather round him: he cannot see the brightness of his Father's face, for "without faith it is impossible to please God;" and while he grapples again for the anchor, the powers of darkness fiercely assail him with doubts and fears, based generally upon his human imperfections, which he should ever bear in mind are covered by the robe of Christ's righteousness. If we would have the peace of God reign in our hearts, we must never let go our anchor, "nor suffer Satan's deadliest strife to beat our courage down." The language of our hearts should always be, "Though he slay me, yet will I trust Him."

                                                  APOSTOLIC ADVICE TO A YOUNG CHRISTIAN
"God hath not given us the spirit of fear, but of power and of love, and of a sound mind."   2 Timothy 1:7
 
The spirit of the Lord imparted to His people is not a spirit of fear, but on the contrary a spirit of power, energy, zeal awakened by love;--loving devotion to God, and a desire to please and serve Him; loving devotion to the Truth, and a loving devotion to God's people and a desire to build them up in holy things, and to do good unto all men as we have opportunity,... a spirit of a "sound mind;" a mind that is fortified and strengthened by the Word of the Lord on every subject, and hence, while thoroughly fearless of man, is wise in judging of times, seasons and methods for using the energy of love which burns as a fire within the consecrated heart.
 
 

OUR YEAR TEXT 
"Great peace have they which love Thy law; and nothing shall offend them." Psalm 119:165
 

Our requests should be, increasingly, for grace and wisdom and the fruits of the Spirit and opportunities for serving the Lord and the brethren, and for growing more and more into the likeness of God's dear Son. Under these conditions who can doubt that the promised "peace of God beyond all understanding" would "guard" such "hearts" and their "thoughts?" This peace would of itself dispel one of the great evils that afflict the hearts of many. Selfishness and ambition would find little room in a heart so filled. Divine peace can dwell in our hearts, and rule in them, so as to keep out the worry and turmoil of the world, even when we are surrounded by these disadvantageous conditions--even when the adversary himself is besetting us through deceived agents.

 

 

HE who redeemed us, or bought us with the sacrifice of His own life, gives us, as our Prophet or Teacher, wis-dom by His Gospel, to see our fallen state and Himself as our helper; as our Priest, He first justifies us and then sanctifies or consecrates us, as His under priest-hood; and finally, as King, He will fully deliver the faithful from the dominion of sin and death, to the glo-ry, honor and immortality of the divine nature;--for "God will raise up [from the dead] us also, by Jesus." "Hallelujah! What a Savior!" Truly He is able and will-ing to save to the uttermost all that come unto God by Him.

 
BECAUSE the tongue is the index of the heart, because "out of the fullness of the heart the mouth speaketh," therefore the unbridled tongue, speaking selfishly, enviously, bitterly, boastfully, slanderously, proves that the heart from whose fullness these overflow is unsanctified, unholy, grievously lacking of the spirit of Christ--hence, whatever religion it may have attained is thus far vain, as that heart is not saved, nor in a salvable condition....The Good Physician has pointed out antidotes for soul-poisoning--medicines which, if properly taken according to directions, will sweeten the bitter heart.

 

"REJOICE  IN THE LORD ALWAY."

"Let you moderation be known unto all men."  Philippines 4:5

 

THE Greek word here rendered "moderation" seems to carry with it the thought of reasonableness, and of not exacting our rights too rigorously. Mercy and leniency are certainly qualities required of all who would be members of the body of the Anointed. Faithfulness in the performance, as far as possible, of all that justice would require of us, and mercifulness in respect to all our requirements of justice from others should be our rule: so shall we be the children of our Father which is in heaven, for He is kind and merciful to the unthankful.

 

THE PRIVILEGE AND POWER OF PRAYER.
“Instant in prayer.” Romans 12:12

WHAT a blessed privilege, dear fellow-disciples of the Lord, is ours, to be instant in prayer, to pray always--to lift up our hearts and minds to God at any time and in any place and to realize thus daily and hourly that the Father and our dear Lord Jesus continually abide with us. And then, when the active duties of the day have been performed under His eye and supervision, or at any time when the soul realizes its necessity, how pre-cious is the privilege of entering into our closets and there, alone with God, unburdening our hearts.
 "IN THE LAST DAYS PERIOUS TIMES"
"In the last days perilous times shall come.  Men shall be traitors, heady...lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God."  2 Timothy 3:1, 4

The true Christian is not "heady", on the contrary, his consecration to the Lord lifgureatively decapitated him.  He lost his head, renouced his own will and self-rule, and submitted himself as a member of the body of Christ, to the absolute control of Jesus, the Head... the true Christian, therefore, in every affair of life, -- appeals to his Head for direction, to know how and what to do or say-- yea, to have even the very thoughts of his mind in full conformity to the will of God in Christ.

DISCIPLES OF CHRIST
“If ye continue in My Word, then are ye My disciples indeed; and ye shall know the Truth, and the Truth shall make you free.” John 8:31,32

DIVINE truth is never found except in the divinely appointed channels: and those channels are the Lord and the apos-tles and prophets. To continue in the doctrine set forth in their inspired writings, to study and meditate upon them, to trust implicitly in them, and faithfully to conform our characters to them, is what is implied in continuing in the Word of the Lord. If we thus continue in the Word of the Lord, as earnest and sincere disciples, we shall indeed "know the Truth," we shall be "firm in the faith," and "able to give a reason for the hope that is in us," to "earnestly contend for the faith once delivered to the saints," to "war a good warfare," to "witness a good confession," and firmly to "endure hardship as good soldiers of Jesus Christ," even unto the end of our course.

IF we are positive in our rejection of temptation it increases our strength of character, not only for that time, but also for subsequent temptations; and it disconcerts to some extent our adversary, who, noting our positiveness, knows well that it is useless to discuss the matter with persons of strong convictions and positive characters; whereas if the question were parleyed over, the result would surely be an advancing of further reasons and arguments on the adversary's part, and a danger on our part that we would be overmatched in argument, for, as the apostle declares, the Devil is a wily adversary, and "we are not ignorant of his devices." Prompt and positive obedience to the Word and Spirit of the Lord is the only safe course for any of the "brethren".

"BECAUSE THE DAYS ARE EVIL."

                                                   “Love thinketh no evil.” 1 Corinthians 13:5

 

WHOEVER neglects the Lord's commands along this line of "evil surmisings" weaves a web for his own ensnarement, however "circumspectly" he may walk as respects other matters; for a heart impregnated with doubt and suspicion toward fellow creatures is more than half prepared to doubt God: the spirit of sourness and bitterness is at war with the spirit of the Lord, the spirit of love. Either the one or the other will conquer. The wrong spirit must be gotten rid of, or it will defile the new creature and make of him a "castaway." On the contrary, if the new nature conquer, as an "overcomer," it will be along this line: if evil surmisings are overcome, half the battle against present difficulties and besetments is won.



“Because thou has kept the word of My patience, I also will keep thee from

the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them

that dwell upon the earth.  Revelation 3:10

THIS is special reward of those who are running the race with patient endurance in the present time, in the Laodicean period; while it was not our privilege to escape the hour of temptation, it is our privilege to have a counter-balancing special blessing as a result of hiving the of our Lord's parousia (presence).  We may have His fellowship, His instruction, His dispensing of spiritual food which is now "meat in due season," in a manner and to a degree in which none of the faithful of past periods enjoyed these.  But as we might expect, this greatest favor is correspondingly offset by the subtilty of  the trials and severity of the trials of this hour of temptation coming upon the whole world.  If ever patient endurance was necessary it is necessary now.

PRIZE-FIGHTING COMMENDED

“I keep my body under, and bring it into subjection: lest ...

I myself should be a castaway.”   1 Corinthians 9:27

THERE is a tendency for the body, the flesh, to arise from its condition of reckoned deadness, hence the new nature needs to be continually on the alert to maintain its ascendancy, to fight the good fight of faith and to gain the prize as an overcomer. These battlings of the new mind against the flesh are a good fight in the sense that they are fightings against sins and weaknesses that belong to the fallen nature. They are a fight of faith in the sense that the entire course of the New Creature is a course of faith, as the apostle says, "We walk by faith and not by sight." ... It is a fight of faith in the sense that no one could keep up this battle against his own flesh and its propensities and desires, except as he can exercise faith in the promises and in the Lord as his helper.

TO EVERY MAN ACCORDING TO HIS SEVERAL ABILITY

“Take therefore the talent from him, and give it unto him which hath ten talents.

For unto every one that hath shall be given and he shall have abundance; but from

him that hath not, shall be taken away even that which he hath.  Matthew 25:28,29

 

WHY is the one-talented man chosen as an illustration of these talent-burials?  It is to show the responsibility of those who have least-that the Lord expects even the least of His consecrated people to know of and to use the talents he has in his possession, and that He will not hold guiltless even those who have the smallest ability to serve Him and His brethren and His truth, and who neglect to use it. 

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BLESSING GOD AND CURSING MAN

From his high standpoint of appreciation of the divine law, the advanced Christian sees that in the Lord's sight hatred is murder, slander is assassination, and the destruction of a neighbor's good name is robbery and rapine.  And any of these things done in the church, among the professed people of God, is doubly evil - the assassination and robbery of a brother.  The only exception to this rule, "Speak evil of no man", would come in where the relating of the evil would be contrary to our heart's wishes, and only mentioned because of necessity - because of love for others who, if not informed, might be injured.

LOVE IS THE PRINCIPAL THING

 

“Love....rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the Truth.”--1 Corinthians 13:6

 

ARE the principles of right and wrong so firmly fixed in my mind, and am I so thoroughly in accord

with the right and so opposed to the wrong that I would not encourage the wrong, but must

condemn it, even if it brought advantage to me? Am I so in accord with right, with truth, that

I could not avoid rejoicing in the Truth and in its prosperity, even to the upsetting of some of my preconceived opinions, or to the disadvantage of some of my earthly interests? The love of God,

which the apostle is here describing as the spirit of the Lord's people, is a love which is far above selfishness, and is based upon fixed principles which should, day by day, be more and more

distinctly discerned, and always firmly adhered to at any cost.

 MARK THE PERFECT MAN! BEHOLD THE UPRIGHT!

 

“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. ”--Matthew 4:25-5:12

 

The thought of "pure in heart is not perfection of conduct, nor of word, nor of thought, but perfection of intention as respects all of these.  Our desire and effort must be for perfection-in thought, word and deed.  The standard before us, to which our hearts, wills, must give assent, is the divine standard, "Be ye perfect, as your Father in heaven is perfect."  (Matthew 5:8)  God has set no lower standard than this absolute perfection, but He has provided for us grace, mercy and peace through Christ, if we will walk in His footsteps,.-this purity of heart being one of the essential steps in the narrow way.