Our dear All,
We have now completed the notes for the Barcelona Convention which is now being sent and you should now have all three Convention notes: Portugal, Madrid, and this one. If anyone has not received them, please let me know so I can send them to you.
One thing that has been made very clear during these conventions, and I have taken to heart, is that parable that Dan Henry spoke of in Luke 19:12-27.
When Jesus returned to heaven after his resurrection, it was to go and receive a kingdom which he now has from his father that he might return crowned one day, and so we regard him today as being crowned. The time of the Nobleman’s absence represents our life whether it be short or long, a time to be preparing for a far greater experience. The King returned and commended and rewarded his faithful servants for Jesus shares his kingdom with those who have been faithful to him in his poverty, it is they who enter into his joy. He delayed his coming but they continued their labours. They were not trifling their time in idleness or wasting it in sin, nor opportunities neglected.
The parable of the pounds and, speaking of them being like a God given opportunity we have all been given, who have begun to serve the Lord. We are stewards and not proprietors of this pound, and stewardship involves responsibility to another. Instead of a spirit of self seeking, having a spirit of love and service for him, it is honorable service. This service involves our whole life, keeping our eyes open and looking for opportunities to trade. There were two classes who did not love their Lord, the one who said they hated him and would not serve him, and the other who said he was an austere man and so hid his pound. When we love our Lord, we will want to do with our opportunities what will please him. All who refuse his loving, righteous reign now do so, at their own peril, for the only way to live life, is by submission to him. We are either an enemy of his or a servant.
It has been made so clear to us just what the pound represents. It was not a large amount, considering the nobleman would have been very wealthy, but it was enough to be able to show their faithfulness rather than their success in trading. It was something that all could be faithful in for if we are faithful in a little we will also be faithful in much. The emphasis was not in making money as the king is wealthy, the emphasis is on faithfulness. The emphasis was to be on occupy, on occupation and it is what we do with what we have been given that determines our joy when the King returns. It means to use this opportunity we have been given. The pound is to work with and not to play with.
The three areas we have been given an opportunity in is as follows. Firstly in ministering to the growth of our spiritual life by sanctification, being filled with grace, by being diligent in reading, meditation, and praying we develop our pound. Secondly, in self sacrifice, in enlightening others by influencing them for good, and in our service in his cause, being a help to others in being a blessing to them. Thirdly in how much we are magnifying the name of the one who is our King in this world. All is to be done for Him, and for His sake, doing all as unto the Lord.
When the King returned with his kingdom which he already has now, he rewarded all according to their devotion and faithfulness. The more devoted and faithful service on earth the more reward and broader the sphere of responsibility in the heavenly kingdom.
The negligent, slothful servant had no excuse, he was not an atheist, a criminal or wicked person but a person who made nothing of his life by neglect, did not realize the responsibility of his God given opportunity. He withheld his powers from the service of God and we can do this by not occupying our lives in the greatest cause.
The pound that was taken off the one who had not used it and given to the one who had gained 10 pounds, what we use will be multiplied, the more we do the more will be given to us. This is the law of spiritual increase, the more we are doing the more will be entrusted to us. The man who has gold that he is not using might as well not have it, but the man who uses it you can say he has it because of the use he is making of it. By using our talents, our opportunities we can say we have them by having increased usefulness.
All good wishes and love,
Ann and Bram
CONVENTION BARCELONA SPAIN 2005
Hymn: Nothing matters but salvation. Where we have been labouring this last year we have been observing a lot of road works, great works, a lot of excavation going on to make a highway. The thing that has impressed me has been that they have been deep works and how good when the work that God does in us is a deep work. We have seen bridges being made, have seen the strong pillars that the bridge stands on, these pillars are well into the rock. We have also seen some tunnels being dug out, some short tunnels, and some long tunnels. In our lives as we walk in the way, the new and living way we have also come across some tunnels, some short tunnels, some long, some very dark tunnels and we are so thankful for the help of God in these experiences. I have known some long tunnels, when I had to be away from the work for 5 years taking care of my family, it was a long dark tunnel and am so grateful for those who have helped me through these dark experiences.
Hymn: Nearer still nearer. John 20. Why was Mary going early to the Sepulchre when it was still dark? Why not wait till the day dawns? Why risk going in the dark? Why go in the cold of the morning? She could have waited till the sunlight would heat the day. Why not wait? The answer is simple: she could not stay any more at home. Yes, it was cold. Yes, it was dark. Yes, it was dangerous but her heart, her mind, her spirit could not sleep any longer. She could not think of anything else but think of Jesus, her Saviour, her friend, her brother and this is the feeling we have as we come to convention. We cannot wait another day more because this is our all. We cannot sleep, for we seek for Jesus. We want to find Him again, to see, to hear again and to know again close fellowship with Him. It seems impossible to us to be able to touch Him, seemed impossible for Mary as He was dead. He was crucified but her spirit could not stay at home. In speaking to one of the young men in Haiti, 28 years of age, he has seen this year the dangers, seen the kidnapping, the violence, the deaths. His father said to him, "It will be too dangerous to have convention this year." He said, "No, Dad, we cannot live without conventions." This is our feeling, it is more important than life or food. Mary had this feeling, "I cannot stay away anymore," so she went and she saw an open sepulchre and this is our feeling these days. John 4: Jesus was waiting, the disciples had gone into the village to buy bread but Jesus sat on the well. Jesus was tired and hungry, weary but there was something else in his heart. He was waiting for this woman, he knew she would come and he wanted to speak to her. Jesus is sitting and waiting for us to tell us, to give to us beautiful gifts, fountains of living water. Mary came to the sepulchre and she looked to the brothers. They came running, they had zeal, were able to run faster. Peter entered the sepulchre, had no fear. He went to seek, to find something of his Lord but it was empty. They saw where he had laid, they saw the napkin, it was all in order.
When Jesus fed the multitude they had to sit down and be quiet. When they were on the sea, waves were high, sea was furious, just one word from Jesus, peace and there was peace, he was able to bring order. The disciples saw this and they could say, "Our Lord." As we have come, Jesus is going to come to bring order to our lives where there is maybe disorder. The disciples went home but Mary stayed. Why, why not accompany the workers? She appreciated their company and conversation, she stayed alone. Why? It is the same answer as before: she could not do anything else. She was there in the place where she could receive something so special.
We see the disciples doing things and they couldn’t do anything else. Joseph of Arimathea was found at the foot of the cross bringing down the body of Jesus. There was also Nicodemus there. They could have looked at one another and said, "What are you doing here?" They knew each other before as they were both in the Sanhedrin. They were in the great council meeting in Jerusalem where all the big leaders met. Why were they both there at the cross? The answer is simple. They could not do anything else, this consumed their living. They did not allow anything else to hinder them, they took down the body of Jesus from the cross. Both their lives were changed completely; they both had a past but now a new beginning with Jesus.
Mary was waiting and we have all come here. We are waiting, waiting quietly, and this touches the heart of Jesus. Mary's waiting and crying touched the heart of Jesus. He drew near to her. We want to try in our spirit to touch the heart of Jesus, to encourage him to come to our help, to come nearer still nearer, to be assured of his deep love for us. In our convention meeting to meeting, hymn to hymn, prayer to prayer, conversation to conversation, all is helping us to draw nearer, still nearer. We will never have him near in life till he is our desire, he is our ambition. It was like that with Mary: she was crying, wanting to be near, and she could not rest till she saw Jesus. Jesus spoke to her and she thought he was the gardener. She said, "If you have taken him away tell me where he is, where is his body?" Jesus just said her name, "Mary," and this changed everything. We have experiences in life like this. We cry and cry, have water in our eyes. This flood makes it that we are not able to see, we are blind at that moment. The prayer of my heart these days is that Jesus will call us by name in the meetings which will assure us, that he will touch us, when we know that he knows our name. It is like what the Samaritan woman found. Jesus offered her something so precious, a fountain of living water. This is what we want to understand that Jesus is offering us, something that we need in the journey. The Samaritan man saw a man wounded, all his body was marked, all alone. He stopped to help him, poured out the wine and the oil into his wounds. He was on a journey. I can see more than ever before: this world is full of people who have been wounded, young people suffering. What do we have to help them? It is not so much preaching at them, not having the message of doctrine. Words that may be very correct, we may not have time to prepare, but I want to have be prepared every instant, be prepared to make them know that I have love in my heart for them. The love of Christ, the love of the spirit that will make alive, that will heal and encourage. This is something we have in Christ and we have when Christ is in us. Something that we can pour out, this love that is sincere and honest, the love of God. We want to make them understand the love that Jesus has for them. The two other men just passed over, the Priest and the Levite. They were on the same way, at the same point, the same opportunity, not knowing it is a privilege to help and show to them the love of God. They just passed by, we don’t know why. Maybe they were in such a hurry, maybe so worried, maybe the two of them were going to a meeting. Let us learn how to help others. We have all come here tired and empty, feeling our need. God can fill us. There are vessels of oil and wine. We can leave again and go to work with more love in our hearts for others, ready to stop what we are doing, to stop our lives, and give a hand to be a help. Jesus sat with the Samaritan woman. At the moment He met with her, He had the oil and the wine, the fountain of living water, a sincere love, He always had this fountain in his heart. She had no husband, she was not living correctly, she knew she was a sinner, that she was not true. Jesus offered her the fountain of the word of life, the love of God to drink from. Jesus, these days, will do the same for us. As we believe in Him, He will make an effort to reach us so that we can leave with this fountain like never before.
Hymn: Jesus is passing this way. Mark 9.2: We read that Jesus took his disciples up to a high mountain and we are all gathered here on a mountain apart. They saw what they had never seen before and Jesus told them not to tell anyone of the vision that they saw. After the resurrection they remembered what they had heard and seen of Jesus, then they believed and it helped them to increase their faith. God wants to show us something these days that we have never seen before: a new vision, a help for the future, experiences to increase our faith. They saw Jesus had raiment as white as snow and they knew that no one on earth could do something like that. This is God's work and this is what we are going to see: a new vision, God's power and His work, something that no man can do that is similar. (Luke 9.29) Jesus prayed when this vision happened and it is very important for us these days to be in the place of prayer, so that through this gate God can open up things to us. They saw Moses and Elias encouraging Jesus to go on to do God's will, this that was so hard for his nature. They encouraged him to go forward. This is what we are going to hear here: God wants to help us to go forward in his will for only in this will we have the blessing of life. Peter said, "It is good to stay here, let us build three tabernacles." He said it because he was afraid, he was afraid because God's presence is there, something serious. We feel that way here, His presence is here, His power is here. We want to have a respectful attitude, a sensitive attitude. In Exodus 3, we read that an angel appeared to Moses and told him not to draw near, but take off his shoes. Why was that? It was because the presence of God was there, this was holy ground, a respect for God, a reverence, being sensitive. Joshua 5: We also read that an angel appeared. It also said to loose off his shoes for Jericho was going to be destroyed. It was cursed, this ground was not holy because of its surroundings but it was holy because the presence of God was there. God spoke a message to Joshua: He said, "Be ready to hear." We need to be careful when in God's presence. We do not want to present the sacrifice of fools for this will not profit us or anybody else. We need to be respectful. A cloud overshadowed the disciples and a voice spoke, "This is My beloved son, hear Him." This is God’s message to us today: Hear Him and follow Him.
We are thankful that we are sitting under an open heaven, and that Jesus has opened heaven to us. We have a way opened to us that we have never seen before. (Luke 9.62) No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God. This is a test for those who are going into the work. When I was 13, my mother left us with our father. We were 5 children, 2 were younger than me and so they were both cared for by me. When I went into the work, it was very hard to leave them. A plough is a tool for only going forward and so, when my tears were dried, I was happy to go to the station to where my companion was waiting for me. Now the way was opened up to me. My young sister was like my own daughter but God saw me. He heard my silent cry and then, in Him, I found comfort. Yes, Jesus is the one who can bring comfort. I can say that God is good and I am so thankful the gospel came to me. Now I can see why the foreign workers left their countries and came to Japan. I see more the sacrifice, the effort and the love. Some people ask me, "Why choose this kind of work?" I reply to them, "It is because I am so thankful." In this way, I can express my thanks to God by going in the work. Because of what God has meant to me, he can mean the same to others also.
Hymn: The still voice of Jesus speaks to my heart each day. God knows the need of our hearts and there is no need that he cannot meet. There are things that he would like to correct, to correct our attitude. Hebrews 12 tells us of the Lord's discipline and correction. Wherefore lift up the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees, and make straight paths for your feet, lest that which is lame be turned out of the way. Someone has said that one of the greatest comforts God can give to us is when he corrects us. When we felt the correction of God, there is no need to be sad, but good to have a right attitude to correction. God wants to correct us because he loves us. Thinking of the church at Laodicea, it is hardly possible to arrive at a sadder condition than this: here is Jesus at the door and calling. Imagine this, a church gathering Sunday after Sunday, all content, all going fine but where is God? On the outside, God not amongst them, God at the door and not able to enter, just having to leave. Maybe we could even get to the place where we allow him to enter once in a while, but God wants to dwell with his people. We could arrive at the place where we are insensitive to the spirit of God, that we do not know where God is when we meet together, that the spirit of God would not be working in our lives the same as this church. Not having Christ in us and not feeling the lack of it, arriving at the place where we are insensitive to the spirit of God, to what the spirit says and guiding us, for we want to respond to the teachings of the spirit of God in us and through us.
Jesus spoke of the need of forgiveness. When we pray we need to forgive others so that we can have the forgiveness of God. Jesus said this in his sample prayer and then at the end of the prayer Jesus said it again. If you do not forgive others, then My heavenly Father will not forgive you. We could be in the meeting today and taking part and yet not forgiving others, we cannot then have the forgiveness of God. This is so serious, for if we do not have the forgiveness of God then we do not have salvation. The spirit of God will always teach us to put things right, having the spirit of love and forgiveness, teaching us how to forgive one another, it is a very great thing. When God forgives he does not remember it again and the proof that we have forgiven others is that we do not bring it up. Sometimes we hear of someone saying that they can forgive but they cannot forget and it is because they continue thinking of the hurt, they continue to speak of it. We need to have the help of the spirit to forgive and to forget, to not speak of it again. If our hand offends us we need to cut it off, if our eye offends us we need to pluck it out, and if we are not willing to forgive and forget, it could cost us our salvation, to cut off the memory that comes, keep cutting it off each time the memory comes to us so we come to the time there is no remembrance. Praying and forgetting: our prayers are effective if we have the spirit of forgiving and forgetting. Easy to have a form of praying, for it is not our words, it is not our position of praying, whether we kneel or not but it is the spirit in our hearts. God helps us when He sees we have the spirit of prayer. Jesus showed His disciples to pray saying, "Our Father," not a vain repetition of saying, "Our Father," for it should be what we feel in the depth of our heart and from the heart. Someone asked how long we should pray, and there is no law, there is no limit, we cannot pray in a few minutes for if we do we are deceiving ourselves. Jesus said to enter into your closet, and how long does it take to become quiet, no more thoughts but just to be quiet, for our praying is not all us speaking but also listening, we are opening our hearts to God. We do not keep speaking when we are in the presence of a king; we need to wait to receive the voice of God’s spirit. We do not want to live by the opinions of others, or follow the current thoughts of others but to seek the guidance of His spirit, to keep sensitive to God. God wants a noble people, nobility in the world is associated with rich people but the quality of the spirit has nothing to do with natural riches. If we look in the dictionary we will read of a noble metal, metal that is not affected by air, or by water, or gas, it is a noble metal. Our spirits are to be noble, that is pure, sincere, bowed to the spirit of God, only being guided by him.
Hymn: Cease not to praise God for all he has done. Juanita is dying of cancer and so was able to lie in bed, in a room in the home of the convention where a speaker was set up for her to be able to hear all the speakers and the testimonies of the friends which meant much to her. She chose this hymn to be sung.
Hymn: Steady and true. The past with its victories and failures has flown, the past has gone with all its victories and failures. This has been the way of it for many of us, like someone mentioned at the workers meeting, the times when we were ready to give up and we came to convention and God changed things. No matter what the failures of the past have been, we are now in a place where God can help us. Hannah and her husband went every year to sacrifice. You would expect this to be a happy time of the year but for Hannah it was not a happy time, for many years she returned from Shiloh sad. Then the time came when she really prayed and poured out her heart unto the Lord and she went home different. Many of us can look back to a convention when it was more critical than any year. It leaves us with no doubt that God sees us and that He wants us in His family. How many different countries are represented here? All are happy to be here for it is like heaven and God wants to get one family out of all the countries in the world to be in heaven, to have perfect harmony. We enjoy being at convention, we have some burdens and worries but they are pushed into the background when here. They are still trying to take from our joy. Nice to think of heaven, every person that God chooses to be in heaven will be there without any worries.
It is possible to be deceived by our enemy. We read in Matthew 7: "Enter ye in at the strait gate, for wide is the gate and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat. Because strait is the gate and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life and few there be that find it." Jesus is saying that there will be few that will find this gate. Maybe we think of the gospel meetings, and suppose this refers to making our choice in the beginning, and that is very true but it is much more than that. There is more than making one choice to be in heaven. When God spoke to Jacob in the Old Testament, He showed him a ladder. There were angels coming up and going down and at the top was God. This ladder started on earth, so if we see a ladder and we want to get to the top we know we have to climb. The first step is the first choice, as we are willing for the way of God these steps will cost a lot for us but when we take the first step we taste peace for the first time. Then for a time the devil does not have so much power over us but then after while he works again. He tells me some things that are true, that now you have started in the way of God all is well and you will be in heaven. Jacob saw other steps, the devil wants to try to make us relax and not worry anymore. The devil wants to give us the impression that instead of seeing a ladder we see a lift: you are in a lift now so sit back and relax and you will arrive in heaven but this is not the way of God. Jesus spoke of the narrow gate and few there be that find it. It is true lots of people do not find the way to take the first step on the ladder but then after we have started there are other steps to take. Like Hannah, she was amongst the people of God but now there was a crisis in her life. She had no joy and it was a number of years before she found how to get in touch with God. She was in Shiloh and after she had eaten and drunk, this was the most visible part of the feast, but this was not the part that mattered most to her. In the meetings here is the visible part but really if we want the blessing of God there is another part, it is our heart. It can be that we are with some good friends here but it is in the heart that is hidden where God wants to speak to us, for God knows the needs that are in this place and God is able to move on the hearts of his servants and people to meet the different needs. I am glad that God saw my need and that God has heard my prayer for God is here. A question that has arisen, how do we know that this is the true way of God? When I was younger I used to say, "You read in the bible that people met together in homes and that is what we do, also Jesus sent his disciples out two by two and this is what we do." With time I understand this differently. What is the greatest confirmation to me is this: that when in my desperation I cried to God, other people in the family of God who had no way of knowing my question, God caused those people to speak on the verses that made this question very clear to me. I know that God is guiding all this. Jesus said, "In the world ye shall have tribulation, but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world." We know that Jesus was tested to the limit but we can be of good cheer because Jesus has overcome. We need to be careful of our desires, and we need to ask ourselves will this please God. If our desire is to do what pleases God, we will not fear what happens in the world because the same God that helped Jesus will help us to overcome. He not only can help us but He wants to help us to overcome. We have nothing to fear, even our human nature sometimes is costly to overcome. This human nature exaggerates sometimes, for we see the step that God shows us to take, the right step and when we have taken it we find it is not really that costly as we imagine. A few days ago we stopped at a toll road, at the barrier, all the cars had to stop and pay some money, not much but if we did not pay the barrier would be there. We decide that we want to be in heaven and make the decision to obey God so we walk in God’s way for awhile. We come to the pay station and God shows us that if we continue walking with Him, this is what pleases Him. I have delayed quite a bit when I analyse my own situation, and question am I still walking with God or have I stopped. Maybe sometimes I have got into the lift that is going up and not realised that it is a ladder and there is another step to take. We can say that it is too much and not take a step more but we will not be walking with God anymore, we have stopped. Some steps that God wants us to take, it could be possible that we are not aware of them for quite awhile so we need to be sensitive to the spirit. Hope God will help us to be in this condition to show me what he wants of my life. The world, flesh, and devil sometimes have loud voices and the voice of God is not so easily heard. Sometimes travelling around, we go to areas that we have not been to before. We have to ask directions and people explain to us, "You go left and then you come to a cross road and then you see a big yellow house and so on. Then they say, you can’t miss it." I have often missed the road and I have thought that my enemy tells me the same sort of thing, just keep going along with the people of God and you will not miss the way. I also know that there are few that will find it. Terrible if God wants to show us his way and we are so busy with lots of natural cares and we keep moving with the current and we could go past and not realise that God wants us to take a turn. In heaven people will not tell us you can’t miss it. They will be saying, "I could have easily missed it and we realise we need to be praying to God to show us the way." We have been reading of Balaam and God spoke to him. In the beginning, he did not go with the men who came but they kept asking so he asked God again, "Can I go?" After awhile, God let him go. Balaam did not realise that was the moment he stopped walking in the way of God, later he was killed with the enemy of the people of God. I fear lest any voice would tell me that all is all right for the safest way to live is to think of what is pleasing to God, Your wish is my command. Sometimes we know that God would be happy if we did more for Him but then we think that we are doing as much as anyone else. I have already started to serve God and I am still in the family of God. If we stop obeying God at any point in the ladder, it is no point is us saying, "I did those last five steps very well, going so far and no further." We cannot serve God and mammon, we cannot serve two masters. There are two possibilities for every decision, either we choose what pleases God, or choose what we think is enough. No one will arrive in heaven saying, "I chose what was just enough." Jesus went before us, we know how much it cost Him to live in the will of God, He prayed to God so earnestly. I feel that Jesus was afraid He could miss the way to heaven, as that is how I felt also one time. We need to pray to ask God to make us willing to do what please Him. In my experience, when I have prayed like this, God has given me the strength to take the next step on the ladder and I have found it did not cost so much, really. I feel that I try God’s patience a lot. God created us, He knows our limitations, and God is so patient with us. It is our desire to all be in heaven one day.
Hymn: Mine the privilege to labour. 2 Corinthians 4.7. "But we have this treasure in earthen vessels that the Excellency may be of God and not of us." The treasure is God's gift to us, the gift is His son, it is eternal, and the gift of His son is eternal life. Jesus said He was the light and when we walk in the light we will not walk in darkness. These bodies of ours are earthen vessels but in these vessels we can carry such a precious treasure. Earthen vessels do not have any glaze on them to make them beautiful, they have the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, and this is quite acceptable with God. Earthen vessels are corruptible, they will decay. They can be used for awhile but they will return to the dust from which they came. The gift of God is the Christ life, it is incorruptible, it does not decay, it does not return to the dust, absolute security. Jesus said not to lay up treasure on the earth for if we do moths will pierce it, rust will decay it, thieves will steal it, there will be nothing left. If we lay up treasure in heaven no moths will pierce it, no rust will decay it and there is no thief strong enough to steal it, absolute security. One time there was a big fire in a market place in Korea, in the arcade where all the expensive shops were, the fire turned everything to ashes. The next morning we saw a picture in the paper, merchants weeping and wailing, sifting through the ashes and there was nothing left. The merchants who were jewellers were sifting through their ashes and were able to retrieve the pieces of gold and precious stones and were able to start again. We have this precious treasure for God has made His son Jesus heir of all things, and Jesus has made us fellow heirs with Him, all things that are eternal we have a share in. Before I left Korea, one of the brother workers had tests in the hospital and found cancer was advanced. It was impossible to visit but I could talk to him on the phone. He said to me, "Gwen, I’m so thankful that I am in the work, that I do not have a wife, I am so thankful that I am in the work so that I do not have any children, so thankful that I am in the work so that I do not have any house." Then he said, "Gwen, I am so thankful I am in the work," and the emphasis was on the work. I felt so thankful for the treasures he is enjoying for he passed away three weeks ago. At his funeral all that was left was ashes, the earthen vessel but all that was in the earthen vessel was his, will be his for all eternity. I wish the same for us all.
Hymn: Not beyond the love of Jesus. 1 John 3.20, "For if our heart condemn us, God is greater than our heart, and knoweth all things. Beloved, if our heart condemn us not, then have we confidence toward God." This verse has given me such comfort knowing that God is greater than my heart, greater than the things that are in my heart that are not of God. Several years ago I was at a convention with Gladys Jackson and she told us about the work of the gospel in Spain, spoke of the testimonies of the people of Spain. These people have been delivered from great darkness and now God is delivering them from the darkness in their hearts. This met my need at the time and has come back to me while being here. 2 Corinthians 4.6, "For God who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ." This is a great privilege to have the glorious gospel shine and we can know of his glory in us. I never dreamed that I would have the privilege of being in Spain. God is greater than our heart and greater than our experience, greater than our need. Joseph proved in the many experiences he went through that God was greater than his experience, for in every experience Joseph prospered. God was with Joseph in the pit experience, with him in Potiphars house, with him in the prison experience and then with him in the palace experience. Genesis 41.51, "And Joseph called the name of the firstborn Manasseh and the name of the second called he Ephraim, these were the names of his two sons." This made me realise that God was in the experiences of the past and also made him forget his father’s house and now was fruitful in the place of his affliction. Joseph told his brothers that they meant it for evil towards him but God meant it for good. Many things in his life were not good but God was able to work it for good for Joseph proved God was greater than his experiences. In Romans 8 we read that all things work together for good for God is greater than our need. In John 11, we read that Mary and Martha lost their brother Lazarus and Jesus said to them that this sickness is not unto death but to the glory of God. Jesus waited 2 days before he came. When he came, Mary and Martha hoped Jesus would perform a miracle but in this experience He showed a greater miracle, the resurrection. During this winter at home, it was my privilege to be with my father in his last days and God showed us a greater experience. Jesus showed Peter that He was greater than His heart. John 14.12, "He that believeth on me, the works that I do he shall do also, and greater works than these shall he do, because I go unto my father." Peter denied Jesus, he had good intentions but when the test came he failed. Then later Jesus spoke to Peter again, the message was the same but there had been a change in Peter's heart. Jesus lifted up Peter's heart in the experience and in the early Acts we see that Peter received a full measure of the spirit of God. He had been willing for repentance in his own life, he could now teach others about repentance, he could show that God was greater than his heart for God is greater.
Hymn: Jesus lives in me. Jesus came so we could be sons, so we could receive the spirit of his son in our hearts, so we could cry, "Abba Father." It is a great privilege to be called the sons of God. We can only be called this if God has first given us of His spirit for the spirit of God gives liberty. Galatians 5:1, "Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free." Our liberty is defined in this way, we have a faith that works by love and if we are called into liberty we are not to use our liberty for an occasion to the flesh but by love serve one another. Sometimes I try to talk to myself out loud and I say this, "Our faith worketh by love," that is a definition of our belief. Often people ask us, "What do we believe? What church do we go to?" We cannot tell them we go to a church building for all we have is our life, our life must speak. Faith must work by love. 1 John 4:2, "Hereby we know the spirit of God, every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God." It is speaking here about the spirit confessing, not man confessing, not you and me. Our spirit confesses it whether Jesus has come in the flesh or not. We have such a responsibility for Jesus told us so definitely that we must be born again, born of His spirit, for we confess by our spirit that Jesus has come in the flesh. 1 John 3:18, "My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue, but in deed and in truth." The way we know if we are really in the truth is when our love is shown by our spirit. We can talk about love, we can pray about love, but do we live in the spirit of love this is so important for a child of God? This is the way we tell people that Christ is come in the flesh, when he is living in our flesh. 4:7, "Beloved let us love one another, for love is of God, and everyone that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God." People in the world tell us that God is love and so God should accept everything and all. This seems to be their thought but it is not to be our thought. We have been born of the spirit if the love of God is in us, in our spirit. Maybe this will be clearer if I tell a story. Some time ago we were busy, lots of things to attend to, and we all work together, the same in the work as in a family, all working together. I noticed the person by my side wanted to work with me but after a little time I was glad to liberate her from what she was helping me with because of her spirit. I then continued on to finish what I was doing. Later I saw her doing what she wanted to do from the time she got up in the morning. She saw that time was going and all she could think of is what she wanted to do. We are all members of a body, and every member has a place and we must all work together in love, love suffers long, love is patient, love doesn’t seek its own. This was not the spirit of that person that day when she came to help me. I don’t want to accuse that person but I did not feel the spirit of love that day because her spirit was seeking its own. We need to understand that we are not to love in word or in tongue for it is not our deeds, or our life, but our spirit that speaks. All the members in the body are necessary, we can’t say that one member is not necessary. Our spirit of love will never say that for we understand that the member that is more feeble is more necessary, those whom we consider are less honourable are so necessary. Notice that Paul says, what we think is not necessary; remember that is only me thinking. God is love and does not think like that. If I have the love of God in my heart, I will not think like that. We will have the same love as God. Our faith works by love testifying to the world that Jesus is alive, confessing to all that Jesus has come in the flesh.
Spoke of the hymn, may my daily walk and words and actions prove to all that Jesus lives in me. Speaking of Abraham who proved this in his life, in every experience, showed by his works of faith.
Maria Luisa Ruiz
Heaven has been opened up to us. Hebrews 10:19, "Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus." His part is done and now we are able to draw near to Him with a pure heart, to walk in His ways, walking to get closer to Him, closer to His ways. In this way, we will be able to receive the blessing God has for us. The way of repentance, like the two men who went to the temple to pray, one received mercy and the other did not. We need to walk in this way so that we will receive the forgiveness of God. Jesus spoke of the fig tree, and there He shows the way of intercession. He received His help and I feel the need in my heart to walk in this way. Another way is the way of faith, in getting close to God. Another way is giving thanks for all things, to walk in this way. Mary encouraged Jesus to go further, she was so thankful and grateful for Christ had done in her life.
Hymn: Seeking for a better country. We sang in this hymn that we are going to bear His image when He comes to reign. How is this going to happen? Genesis 1: In the first 5 words we see the answer, in the beginning God created. If we do not believe the first 5 words, we must throw the bible out because everything comes from when God created. Everything was without form, there was a darkness over the deep and the spirit of God moved upon the waters and the voice of God spoke, "Let there be." I remember in my young days when this was very real to me, realising that in creation God was making something out of nothing. Man invents and needs material to work with, but God did not need material. This was a special thought to me, and then thought that if I am willing to be the nothing, He can make something of me. God has been working on this thought. If not, I would not be here today. I can remember the first time God spoke to me. I was 12 years old, a little girl there asked me a question, "What church do you belong to?" For the first time, I realised I did not belong to anything. I was raised in this faith, went to the meetings all my life, I belonged to the meetings but suddenly I thought, "I don’t belong." It brought a fear to my heart that I am not ready and that was a beginning for me. Verse 26, "Let Us make man in Our image," then in 27, "So God created man in His own image, in the image of God created He Him, male & female created He them." God had created all other things before, the fish, the animals, the birds, a certain form for all and then He created man in a certain form, not like the fish, the beasts, and the birds. A human being has a certain form and then He gave it breath, He gave it life. God made man after His image and we immediately think that God was a man but I do not believe this is the image God is talking about here, it was the inward image He had in mind. Romans 8:29, "For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren." This was the image God had in mind, after the inward image of his Son, a predetermined plan for eternity, to have a family to have fellowship with. God gave to man when He formed him things that He did not give to any other part of his creation. Firstly the right and privilege to choose, secondly the ability to love and the thirdly, the ability to hate. The sun, moon and stars cannot choose, plant life cannot choose, fish, animals, fowls, none of these have the ability to love and hate. God made a plan to make us after His image through Christ, becoming a new creature, a new nature. God did not offer to any other part of His creation a new nature, only to man and it comes through His son. John 3:16, "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life." We must hear the gospel and believe it, these are promises made to us if we believe, the promise of everlasting life. This has not been promised to the sun and the moon, not to the birds and the fish, only to you and me. John 1:12, "But as many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His name." This is beautiful, listening, believing and receiving, receiving a power, power is life, is to be born again, not of blood. This is a new birth, new life, new nature. This is what Jesus tells us that is necessary, to be born again, that to receive new life, this new nature that comes from God alone. 1 Corinthians 15:46, "Howbeit that was not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural, and afterward that which is spiritual." God created first a natural person with a human nature. All this part goes back to the dust, but He had a plan. As we have been born the image of the earthy, we can also bear the image of the heavenly. Think of the wonderful promise God has given to us in receiving His son, having a new nature in us.
Think of an experience we had at one time showing the difference between what man teaches us and what God teaches us. A lady came to the meetings and believed and made her choice. She was having a struggle with the outward things that belong to the world. There was someone who thought it was their responsibility to help this lady to change, so she kept trying to change her. My companion said to this person, "Did you go to visit that person?" "Yes, I said this and this." My companion said, "When you tell my brother or sister about the things that have to change, can you give her a desire to do it? No, can you give her a power to do it? No, can you give her any joy if she does it? No. Can you give her any blessing having done it? No. The Holy Spirit can do all this for her so we will let the Holy Spirit work." We need to allow the Holy Spirit to work in our brethren, and in our lives, bringing glory to God. It brings joy and peace and blessing to others. There are the different natures in each thing God has created, the fowls, the fish, the animals, all have a different nature. One time we were in a situation. A brother worker had something in his pocket to show us: it was a pair of chicken glasses. He said that the nature of a chicken is this: it sees a speck on another chicken and so it pecks at it. It will peck at it till blood comes. When the blood comes, often all the hens start pecking at it and then can kill the chicken. The farmer has learned to put glasses on the chickens, so these are chicken glasses. He had them in his pocket and showed them to us, showed us how you put them on the beak of the chicken, glasses with two little red lenses. When the chicken looks through the lenses, the blood on the other chicken looks white. If you look through red to red it becomes white. I have tried this with the red letters on the corn flakes box. So we all tried the chicken glasses. When we look at our brothers and sisters through the blood of Christ, we do not see their spots, all look white. It is wonderful to realise the nature of a chicken but God gives us a new nature. We see others through the blood of Christ, He has paid such a great price. May we be willing to hear and believe and receive power.
My mind has been on Exodus 12, and have thought that the Passover is a life and death matter. Our faith is a life and death matter, and we could not be too serious about it. There were only two kinds of people, those outside of the door and those inside the door. Those on the inside believed in the blood that was shed and the others did not believe. There was no in between being outside or inside. In the days of Noah, it was the same. The man going down to Jericho fell amongst thieves and was wounded and left half dead. There are lots of people in the world that are half dead and not only in the world but we who are professing. It is possible that we could be half dead. The church at Sardis had a name that they were living but they were dead. We like to apply these warnings to ourselves, too. They had works so why were they dead? It was because they ignored the work of the spirit, for of His fullness have all we received, not half but His fullness. The fullness of the spirit is the sign of the life of Jesus in us. Artificial flowers look real from a distance. If you put water on, put them in the sunshine, there is no change. We do not want to be an artificial flower but a living thing. In thinking of our meeting, I was thinking of the Sunday morning meeting in our home. We were the only professing people in that district. We had no example in another friend to know how to live and how to do. Looking back, the workers had a lot of patience in guiding us. In three months all professed, my father and the four of us. My older brother professed a year before and married in the truth. We were all babes in one family, from the eldest, a 54 year old father to an 8 year old girl. We all prayed to our father in heaven and asked God to guide us. It was a real struggle. We fell down often too because we were all just babes There were no experienced or mature friends among us anyway. Four years ago I received a phone call regarding my father, "Your 93 year-old father has passed away." I returned for the funeral service and saw him lying in the coffin, and was so thankful that the gospel came to our home. The next day was the funeral service. One of the workers spoke in the meeting, things about my father that I did not know. He spoke how when my mother left, there were 5 children. At a time when we needed a mother most, he suffered so much with a hard heart and a hard spirit. Luke 11:4, "Forgive us our sins, for we also forgive everyone that is indebted to us." After a few years, he at last got the victory over an unforgiving spirit. We did not know anything about his feelings because he had not told us but he told the workers that day, "I have tried to forgive my ex-wife but have failed." When later he got the victory, when he knew the forgiveness by Jesus, only then, "I felt that I am able to forgive my ex-wife." Forgiveness is a very important part with our connection with God. Jesus was so thankful to be able to set us free from that, and we too should be so thankful to never forget in our hearts so that we would not have any hard feelings towards anyone, nothing between God and ourselves. So thankful for the price Jesus paid on our behalf for this life.
Hymn: How sweet is the rest of God. When I am agitated, it is because I do not have the rest of God in my heart. It also disturbs the rest of others who are around me. This cruel self, oh, how it struggles in me. Jesus shows us that, when we are burdened, we need to come to Him. He will give us rest, not do anything about the burden ourselves, just leave the burden with Jesus. When we take his yoke upon us, we find rest for our souls. This is the burden that Jesus wants to put on us. It is a lot lighter burden than the one I have and it gives us rest. Noah, his name means comfort and rest. God walked with Noah. He had a rest in God. There was a place of rest in the ark, for it is rest to know and do God’s will, this gives us rest. Ruth and Naomi went back to Bethlehem and Orpah also went with them for a little way, Naomi told both to go back to find rest in the house of a husband. Ruth had observed the life of Naomi, and she knew that she would not find rest by returning to the place where she came from, so she went forward. Later in the story we find that Naomi wanted to find rest for Ruth, a place for her, and so she gave her good advice. Our rest is found in Him.
Hymn: From every stain made clean. I believe that we all love Sunday morning. 1 Corinthians 11:26, "For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord’s death till He come." These verses are very serious, they are no joking matter, they are matters of life and death. Means we will either spend eternity with God or know eternal death without God. The Sunday morning meeting is a time that is very serious and we could not be serious enough for it is our eternal salvation. It speaks here of the order of the meeting, after the prayers, after the testimonies, after the hymns there is a small table. On that table is the bread and the wine, all showing respect for what Jesus has done, showing the body and the blood of Jesus. When the Apostles went to the open grave, they saw where the body had been laid, the actual body rolled in a white cloth. Sunday morning we are before the symbol that speaks of Jesus' body but it is more than a funeral for Jesus, who is very much alive. All this was done to leave us an example, until today and till the day that Jesus returns. Today in all parts of the world this memorial will be taking place. Some are asleep still right now but later they will get up, another language but the same spirit, brethren walking to a humble home, a roof on the house, a clean floor and in the middle of the room a table showing respect for Jesus, seeing the symbol of the body of Jesus, and then participating. Participating is what we are doing, as it says here, to shew the Lord's death till He comes. It is possible to meet together to speak and to sing and partake without observing the symbol, not be touched by the symbol by the work of the spirit, not see Jesus, not see the spiritual miracle. Paul worried about the possibility of people sleeping in the church. It is so easy to sleep for there are things that can make us sleep, not thinking, not doing, not knowing the reality of these things. God wants to waken us today to make us more servants to Jesus, to give our adoration to Him, for He is our life. All the world feeds on things that feed the mind, but we feed on what feeds our spirit. When we partake of the bread in our hand, it is not really the food that feeds us. The same as when we partake of the wine, it is not the wine we are drinking but the life and spirit of Christ. This family is in Christ, all who we meet with are our brethren. We all are partaking of the body of Christ and saying as we partake, "This is my life, this is the food that feeds me each day, my food and my blood." The wine is the symbol, it is in our hands but it brings conviction in the heart, it is saying until death I will be faithful, I can die in this family, giving my life for the people of God. We don’t want this to be a form, just be sleeping. Each one of us should examine himself, not only in the minute before partaking, but examining himself in the spirit all the time for if we examine ourselves before God we will not be judged and thrown out. May God help us to see ourselves, our heart in this family so that we can be secure for all eternity. The biggest problem we have is to see ourselves, to judge ourselves. This is the mystery of iniquity, when we don’t see ourselves. We see the iniquity in others but not in ourselves, a deep problem this mystery. May the Lord help us to see what I am and what I need so that God can help me, far better than seeing the faults in others. When some are thinking of making a workers' list, praying before making a list for it is so important for the field. My father is a peaceful man, a serious man and each year he makes a list for himself. Later he compares the list with the elders. He never lets anyone see his list. If it was your job to make the list, how would you do it? Jesus had to choose two by two. If you were there, who would you put with Judas, who would be his companion? We do not need to go into that but I have thought his companion was Nathaniel, it does not say but there are indications that it could have been so. It tells us in John 1 that Nathaniel was one in whom there was no guile; he would not see any defect in Judas, a man who had no guile. We need to let God do his work and not be deceived ourselves, to see what is in ourselves, to search ourselves. 2 Corinthians 3:18, "But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the spirit of the Lord." We can see into the mirror and can be changed to what we see in Christ. This is like a magic mirror that could change a person. If a man could invent a mirror like that, he would be the richest man in the world, richer than Bill Gates. Girls and boys looking into the mirror and be changed, from black to white, etc. This mirror is not like that. It is not magic but Paul gave the secret to having a change: we look to the open face. In the meeting, we look into the mirror of his words, of His life, the vision of Christ with an open face, open to all that the spirit is saying to us. A sister worker looked into a mirror and said, "This is not me." We could be looking into the word and into the spirit of Christ and say, "This is not me." It is far better to admit that this is us and be willing to change. May God help us to reflect the life of Jesus, seeing clearly not ourselves but see the perfection of Christ and by His grace be able to reflect his glory. We read of the blood of Christ in Hebrews that purified heaven, also purifies our conscience from dead works. The blood of animals purified all things in the tabernacle in the desert but the blood of Jesus is to purify heavenly things. The question is, "Is there something in heaven that is not pure, something near God that is not pure, that is corrupted?" It tells us here that his blood purifies the heavenly things. In heaven will there be there be any flesh to corrupt heaven? No. God created the flesh, but he put it the furthest he could from his house. It will not be in heaven, it only belongs to the earth. Will there be dust in heaven? No. God is a spirit and heaven is full of the spirit. There was a time when in heaven there was a corrupted spirit, a spirit that was impure, filled with pride, rebellion, and disobedience. In heaven there will be the spirit of thankfulness, not any dirty or unclean spirit. There was a war in heaven and Satan and his angels were cast out of heaven. Hebrews 9:14, "How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God." Jesus purified heaven with the eternal spirit, in true love he offered himself. A young couple bought an old house and then went about painting it, cleaning it. It was very dirty for the people who were there before smoked. Now, they showed it to us all so clean and so perfect for this couple to live in. In heaven the spirit of pride is put out, the spirit of thinking that it is unreasonable to serve God for Jesus by His eternal spirit offered Himself by His perfect love. Satan says that it is unreasonable to serve God, saying it is reasonable to live for me, Satan thinks that this is my life. Jesus shows it is better to live for God and we can see that Heaven has been purified by his blood, washing us also from dead works. From the beginning two brothers offered to God a sacrifice. One was dead works and the other was a living offering. Religion is just offering a dead work, a dead offering. We have been purified from dead works and the two brothers manifested something. The one said, "I believe in God and I am showing that I love God." This manifested in his sacrifice, this was all in his conscience and God sees what is there. The other brother did not love his brother, saying, "I am not responsible for my brother." This is how he offered to God. The same thing that we can do, go to the meetings, give my testimony and yet not love my brother. They are just dead works and God cannot accept that. In the meeting God can wash us and purify our conscience from dead works, saying, "I cannot live like that, I can’t pretend to serve God and not love my brother." When we partake of the bread, it is a part of my body, a part of my family that means that his life is my life also, we are both living in the one body of Christ. Paul spoke of those who seek their own, seeking to possess what is in the world and not living for this body, the body of Christ. When we partake we are saying, "This is my food and I am never again going to live in this way." This is the example that Jesus taught amongst us by his life. People speak of fasting, not partaking of any food, no breakfast till dinner time but this is not the true fast Jesus was speaking about, this is just hypocrisy. Isaiah tells us the correct way of fasting: to give bread to my brother and to those who are hungry, to give my life for others, that is the true fasting. To give my life, give my time; give my strength for the body of Christ in the world today. In Psalm 22, David was sensitive to what he saw in Christ coming and dying, David himself knew how Jesus would feel on the cross, he knew how it felt, he knew what he was going through, how he suffered. "My God, My God, why hast thou forsaken me?" Here David in his spirit is so knowing, long before Jesus ever came, even before he died, he felt it all. He could say, "I am a worm and no man." Jesus felt like a worm, a tender, humble man, this was Jesus in His heart, moments when He was alone with God. In front of the multitude, in His body he was there, this was what he felt in his heart, all would see Him and laugh Him to scorn and this is exactly what David saw. The pain, not moving His lips, big men making Jesus so little, and David felt that, the feelings of Jesus. Let him deliver Him, seeing he delighted in Him, he understood what the Pharisees were saying but David knew. He could not save Himself because He wanted to save us, His tender spirit. It was not the power of the nails that kept Him on the cross, just the power of love for He could have taken Himself off the cross, but He stayed there dying for you and me. To be poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint, this pain in His heart, bones separated by the weight of His body, David felt that by the spirit. My tongue cleaves to my jaws, I thirst, and David entered into the feelings of Jesus and had the same thirst. What do we feel, what touches our hearts on Sunday morning when we see the emblems before us? For dogs have compassed me, and the Romans left the bodies on the cross till they fell and then the dogs would eat the body. David, by the spirit, could see this so what do we see? What contemplation in our lives? Let us more and more be spiritual, feeding this spirit to the end.
Hymn: Help me Lord to be wholehearted. Psalms 92:12, "The righteous shall flourish like the palm tree; he shall grow like a cedar in Lebanon." 2 Corinthians 4:16, "For which cause we faint not, but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day." This last year in the south we had a very cold winter. We saw the palm trees that seem to dry up in a park as we passed by. There are many palm trees there and it was sad to see that. We had to wait till the heat of the sun was able to renew them again. It is that the palm tree grows from within; other trees grow on the outside like lemon trees. The palm tree renews on the inside when the heat returned and we could see the new green leaves. The gardener cuts off the old dead palm and you could see the new growth. It is because the root is very deep and, in spite of suffering much cold, they still lived. Thinking of the outward man perishing and the provision there is to be renewed each day, being renewed so that we can grow. Peter writes to grow in grace. This is my desire to grow in grace, for the more we get to know Jesus we grow similar to him, grow abundant in love, have more of his divine love that covers all our sins. We look at others through the eyes of love, and have more hope of seeing them grow to be like Jesus. No one bore more fruit than Jesus, none were so humble, none had so much the spirit of a child. We need this to allow us to become more like Jesus, to know better how to develop in the virtues of Christ.
Hymn: So strange it seems & wondrous. Matthew 26:39, "And he went a little further, and fell on his face, and prayed, saying, 'O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me, nevertheless not as I will but as thou wilt.'" We sang in the hymn, "Help me to keep on going." In Ireland I was travelling alone at night, going to a special meeting. I was not certain of the way so I asked a man. He said, "Yes, you are going in the right way but you need to go further." I was getting tired and I thought, "Do I have to keep going?" In these meetings, God is giving us a certainty that we are in the right way. No one is left in any doubt that this is the way that Jesus left us but we just need to go forward. To go a little further, and go a little deeper in the way of God, where we will find more joy. Maybe we have felt tired of the daily struggles but we want to go forward and come what may. Jesus here struggled but He went a little further. He felt if it was possible for the cup to pass from Him and we wonder what would have happened if Jesus had not gone a little further. We often read of Jesus praying going deeper and getting strength to do what God wanted of Him. He went further this time in prayer. In the more difficult experiences in our life, we want to go deeper into prayer. At times we lose by not going further. A farmer was hunting for wild animals. He waited for awhile but did not wait long enough. Instead of waiting long enough, he only got a rabbit. We need to wait long enough in prayer. We need to go forward in prayer. We need to go forward in loving, as Jesus taught us how to love, to love our neighbour. It is not too hard to love those who love us but to love those who are our enemies, to love those who are against us. Maybe we feel alone but we need to go a little deeper, to go a little further. The greatness of the love of Jesus was seen on the cross: what He went through for us. True love does not just say, but true love does. It goes deeper and further. May we go deeper into that love.
My niece, when a little girl, would travel with her family in the car. They liked to sing together, they sang hymns. My brother and his wife taught them to sing hymns. One day, my niece said, "Mummy, let us sing the dollar song." She did not know what that would be. She said, "You know, it pays to serve Jesus." We know it does pay to serve Jesus and we have a lot to learn of making investments. The greatest investment parents can make is in their children. Proverbs 22:6, "Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old, he will not depart from it." I have been thinking about parents training up their children and it is wonderful to come to convention to see some of all ages, to also see the parents with their little children. There were parents on the old testament who saw the value of investing much in their children. There were Amram and Jochebed in Exodus 2, when Moses was born to them they saw he was a proper child. We can say that all children born are proper children, they are very special. When God gives men and women children, they are not toys, not something to play with, for they all have a soul that will live for all eternity. It is very important what parents put into the children, as they have a tremendous lot to do with their destiny. These parents put all into Moses while they had him, they hid him. Wonderful when parents hide their children from things of the world, not throw them into the stream of this world and just let them go, but do all that they can to protect them from the world. They made a little ark for him, they did not want the water of this world to get in to destroy their little boy, and these parents were investing. In the New Testament in Hebrews 11, we now read of Moses and what he did. He applied what we read in Proverbs, when he is old he shall not depart from it. This investing paid off for Moses' parents, for what they put into him when he was very little. He learned from his parents how to choose, he learned what to refuse and what to choose. Moses became a man that God could use. God used him mightily and his testimony still helps us today. You and I have no idea how far an influence can go. Moses' parents put into him the love and the fear of God and this still helps us today, thousands of years later. What you put into your child today may help someone thousands of years from today. Mr. and Mrs. Manoah, have you ever met them? You read of them in the Judges. I like their attitude. They were promised a son and then they questioned the angel, "Teach us what to do with the boy. How to order the child, how to do unto him?" Wonderful that we can go to the Lord and ask the same questions, how to teach the children as we do. They did their best and the Lord told them what to do, not to partake of any strong drink. Perhaps the best way to teach our children is what you are before them, what you partake of and not partake of that will be a help to them. Wine distorts the vision, it clouds the mind, hinders the walk, it makes lives unclean. If the children see the right thing, see the right walk, you see that you don’t go in the wrong direction yourself by being an example to the child. Teaching the children from very young how to love God. Deuteronomy 6:7, "To teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up." That they would be willing to do all the Lord's commandments all through life, with all their hearts and all their souls, to put all they had into it and in this way they would teach their children. I am very glad for my father's teaching, for I have very sweet memories of when we were children. My father before going to bed would gather us in the living room and read the bible to us, have us all kneel down in front of the couch and one by one teach us how to pray. He would also do the same thing at the table in giving thanks, for it put into my heart and mind, when small, a love and a respect for God. I loved the meetings and wanted to go to the meetings. If someone was sick, it would worry me for it is amazing what little children pick up in the meeting. There are three places in the New Testament where parents wanted to bring children to Jesus. He wanted to touch them and to bless them, He touched them in each case. The disciples rebuked them and hindered them from bringing their little ones to Jesus. Jesus rebuked his disciples for it and said to them, "Let them come for of such is the kingdom of heaven." In children we see the spirit of a child, which is so important. There are three classes for children: infants, little children, and young children spoken about. Some feel that babies disturb the meeting and do not take them, sometimes there is a young child involved and the parents do not bring them, but Jesus wanted them all to come. What happens to a child when they come under the atmosphere of a meeting, it brings a peace, contentment. Something happens in a child, it calms them down, they sit quiet. All children love convention. They don’t worry that they have to sit still on hard benches, they like the atmosphere, they feel safe. This is the way we all feel for we know it is what God has planned, to be trained in the way we should go, and this training follows us all our life. There is a couple in California who are training up their child in the way they should go. The man wanted to be in the work. He started at preps but he did not have the nerve strength to continue. His heart was in the work, he had heart strength but not health strength. He married and had 5 children, 2 boys and 3 girls. They did not have all that they wanted, were poor, but that father saw the importance of investing something into those children. He taught them the love of God and the fear of God, to love his word and love his will. He put all his heart into bringing up those children. Today, there are 3 of the children in the work. One is married and the other was killed in an accident. This man rejoices much in the investment he has made. He sees the investment for himself and for others also. One more thought is this: we who are in the work can also make investments in our children, by loving your children, and spending time with them, for this meant a lot to me when I was a little girl. I have special friends today who still write to me as I took an interest in them when they were young. Investments in children, is very, very worthwhile. I would like to do my part.
Jesus is the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. He is the lamb at the beginning and still is the lamb. He wants to teach us over and over again the same thought in a different way, in the hope that we will learn. John 17, "Jesus said, 'I sanctify myself, that they also might be sanctified through the truth.'' Before that, Jesus asked his father, "Sanctify them by Your truth, for Thy word is truth." We know that Jesus is the word and that He is also the truth. The reason for this is: He continually sanctified Himself so that we could be sanctified. Why do we need to be sanctified? It is so that we can do the work of God, so that we can do the will of God, and so teach the will of God. Jesus was a great teacher. He taught by his life and we teach by our life. Exodus 29:29, "And the holy garments of Aaron shall be his sons after him to be anointed therein, and to be consecrated in them." These garments were sanctified after they were anointed. They were most holy and whatsoever touches them becomes holy. They were sanctified so that they would be holy and be able to go into the holiest of holies where God's presence was. Where is God's presence today? It is present in this meeting. He is here with his spirit and we have felt it in these meetings. If we are the temple of the living God, we have to remember that we must be holy. That is beyond us but Jesus sanctified Himself so that we could be holy. That is the truth. We are going away from convention and facing new experiences. They might be like the old experiences but they will come in a different way. God wants to teach us something and he wants to help us. Colossians 2:11, "In whom also ye are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ." I have sometimes wondered what the circumcision of Christ is and here it does tell us. For putting off the body, the sins of the flesh is the only way that we can be sanctified ourselves and become holy, the same as in the old testament whatever touched the altar, was holy. We touch the life of Jesus, we hear about Him here. We long to be like Him, so He touches our lives and cleanses us and sanctifies us. We want to apply that to our spirit and heart. It is our responsibility as we go out that others are going to touch our lives, not by finger or touch, but others are going to be affected by us. We do not live for ourselves and we do not die to ourselves, so our lives, our choices have an affect on others, so we need to be careful how we live. Some live with no thought of the circumcision of Christ, that is, putting off from the body the sin of the flesh. I remember a brother at a convention speaking of wisdom, the different kinds of wisdom, spoke of the wisdom that does not come from above, that is earthly, sensual, devilish. He said that we can use the word of God to justify being worldly, we can find something in the word of God to give us license to give in to our flesh. We could find something in the word of God to justify having a wrong spirit but this is not the wisdom from above. Jesus had the wisdom from above, He was tempted in temptations we know nothing about, He was tempted in every point as we are and so many more. The Devil tempted Jesus in the wilderness and then he went away for a little while. The Devil used the word of God and it would have given Jesus every right to do what he said. Jesus sanctified himself by the truth of God. He knew what the word of God said and He was fulfilling the word. "Except you eat my flesh and drink my blood." This means the word of God becoming our flesh for everything Jesus said was life. It was a part of him, it was living when he spoke and it should be living when we speak for our words have an effect. What we say and do has an affect on others. How good when others become more holy and come closer to God. If we start to listen to the wisdom that is not from above, it will affect our living and will affect our help to others. For some reason I have thought of a happening many years ago before I was in the work. A very wealthy woman in Montreal made a desperate cry to get in touch with the workers and I remember her saying this. She was raised in the truth and at age 16 went away and cut every tie from her home and the truth. She then married and later came to an end of herself and wanted to take her own life. A hand stopped her and then she remembered the only positive thing that she had heard in the meetings. An old lady would often say, "The Lord is my shepherd." It was this that made her return and get in touch again. The only thing positive that she had heard was what this sister had often said. We don’t want to just leave one positive thing in our life in the mind of others but that our total life would be positive, showing why we love to serve Jesus, why we want to follow Jesus so that others will remember this. Peter wrote, "Forasmuch then as Christ hath suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves likewise with the same mind, for he that hath suffered in the flesh hath ceased from sin." Let us go away from convention armed like this, that as Christ suffered he got further and further away from sin. When he was reviled he reviled not again, he got away from sin, keeping himself sanctified, ceasing from all sin and suffering in the flesh will also help us to cease from sin. I remember praying some years ago, "If it is I that must take the blame, give me the grace to take the blame." Someone has to take the blame; Jesus took all the blame. In taking all the blame, did he make you suffer? No. It is free and this is the way we want to arm ourselves. Whatever comes in suffering, we want to cease from anything in our flesh and in our human minds, anything in our human actions so that we would set others free. The gospel is a call to liberty and we love the liberty that is in Christ. Suffering in prayer to take the blame, feeling this way" "Father, help me, so that I will not make anyone suffer like that." If the Lord gives me victory in that I realise it is not in me, for there is a desire in my heart that these verses will be fulfilled in me and want to go armed in this way.
Hymn: Is there no light, some anxious soul is asking. This is a cry. Matthew 4:16, "The people which sat in darkness saw great light, and to them which sat in the region and shadow of death light is sprung up." Matthew 5:16, "Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven." This is God's will for his children. I do not have a memory of total darkness as a child as I grew up in a family who lived this way. Not long ago the cry of my heart was, "Show me the light. Where is the light?" I believe I was depending too much on humans. I had a cry to get a reassurance from God, for there was a darkness I felt. I came to a convention a year ago in England. In the first meeting, there was a message of hope for me. There was a background to that, for in that area there was one young man who was a prodigal who expressed that he wanted to be back in God's way. I felt that this was for me as well, and today we have here a message of hope. Two or three years ago, we were north of Stockholm. For me it was the first time to spend a whole winter in the north. There we had the midnight sun. Sometimes it would not get dark at all, but in the winter there were parts that would not get light. Where I was the days were very short. I can remember how much the spring meant to me that year, to see every sign of life coming. My companion and I were struggling that year. We came into the home of a family and the mother would get the children to sing that hymn to us. It was just like a message for us to keep going on, it was like turning the light on. John 3:16, the message of Gods love is a message of hope to us. He came not to condemn us but to be our light, to show us the way. This is the condemnation: that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. I will tell you a story of a little boy who saw his mother put the cookie jar on the top shelf in the kitchen. The boy was looking longingly at the cookies so when everyone had gone to bed, all was quiet. The mother heard something in the kitchen so wondered what that could be. She came down and turned on the light. There was the little boy on the counter with the cookies. He said, "Mummy, please put out the light." We may think this is a joke but it is how I have felt many times, that the light has been a condemnation to me. The life was the light of men and God's life in those around us is a light. Lighthouses save many lives because they stay in one place. I have got a lot of help from people who are steady in their place. At times I have felt condemnation because of people being steady in their place. I want to remember the light comes so that I will not be in the shadow of death. Jesus came so that we would not perish. He wants to turn on the light wherever he finds us, and may we not say turn out the light. Sometimes I have been found in not a very good place, but the light shined into my heart. Peter denied Jesus and the Lord looked at him. Jesus had warned him and he was not looking to say, "I told you not to do this." He looked as a light, the light of truth. Peter felt condemned. Let us come to the light for there is hope. Let us repent and change.
Hymn: Lord Jesus teach me how to choose. 1 Chronicles 4:9, "And Jabez was more honourable than his brethren, and his mother called his name Jabez, saying, 'Because, I bare him in sorrow.' And Jabez called on the God of Israel, saying, 'Oh that thou wouldest bless me indeed, and enlarge my coast, and that thine hand might be with me, and that thou wouldest keep me from evil, that it may not grieve me,' and God granted him that which he requested." Ecclesiastes 11:9, "Rejoice, o young man in thy youth, and let thy heart cheer thee in the days of thy youth, and walk in the ways of thine heart, and in the sight of thine eyes, but know thou, that for all these things God will bring thee into judgement. Therefore remove sorrow from thy heart, and put away evil from thy flesh, for childhood and youth are vanity." When we read of Jabez's mother that she bore him in sorrow, why give him a name that means trouble? I wonder if you see this in the world we live in, filled with sorrow, sadness, suffocating, distressing, and where is there any hope? Only God can help. Jabez started to talk right away when he was young, for man may not live long, man is born for trouble and for a few days. The world offers lots of fun but it is by sorrow, it promises joy but gives sorrow, it promises happiness but gives sadness, lot of laughter but it is superficial for under this there is heaviness, for all that in the world that glitters is not gold. God only can make the change. Solomon could say that a young man may grow up and find many things to do, many things would be lovely, he could look at it, walk in his ways but remember this: God is going to bring you into judgement for it all. One thing to do and that is to remove sorrow from your heart, to seek God and do his will, then you will have no regrets for all your choices. Jabez must have accepted this advice for he earnestly prayed to God and God heard his request and answered him. He was able to live a life with no regrets for God was helping him in all his choices. Samuel's situation was the same. Before he was born there was sorrow in the home, his mother sorrowed in her spirit and the only way to change was to seek for Gods help. She did that and God answered her prayer and gave that couple a son. That meant that God heard Elkanah and Hannah. They had the privilege of having a son and they were united in their purpose for him. Hannah said that she would not take him down to Shiloh till she had weaned him and Elkanah said to do that and all according to God's will. When Samuel was weaned and no longer totally dependent on his mother then take and give him to God. The father and mother were determined to bring him up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord, never at any time did the father provoke his son to anger, but in the fear of the Lord raised him up to God. One thing he taught him that was special, when he was called he knew the proper way to answer. He was called and answered, "Here am I," then, later when God called, he knew how to answer God also. Timothy’s home was different for his father was a Greek. His grandmother and mother had an unfeigned faith, a pure faith, no pretence. Timothy grew up in that home and by the help of God knew the will of God, the only way to have no sorrow in his life. We are living in a suffocating, stifling world and our only hope is in God. It doesn’t matter what situation we are in, our only hope is God.
One time, a friend told me something. I did not like what I heard, speaking of a little family with beautiful little children. There was a difference between the parents. The husband said that the wife never talks to him, he tried all he knew. This friend said to him, "Really, the best thing to do is to move out with the children." Imagine that advice. We sometimes have similar experiences that come along that we struggle with, our eyes are on our little world. We forget what is happening around us. The only solution that we see is to get out, but this is not the solution. An older brother worker said one time, after being 20 years in the work, "When there was a problem, he looked inside the will of God for a solution. Before that, other voices would say, 'Just leave the work.'" This was not the solution and this brother is so helpful today. I am so thankful for what we heard about parents and children yesterday. No doubt there is a great cost in investing in children, separating ourselves from things that are not an investment. I enjoy reading of a couple in Luke 1. It was not easy for them, they had no child, Zechariah and Elizabeth. They were both righteous before God, they walked in all the commandments of the Lord blameless. Only a woman can understand and feel how Elizabeth felt in not having a child. This did not hinder her from serving God, it was costly. Who can know why God planned that way? They both saw the planning of God later, but now they were still doing their best to serve God, they were blameless. Maybe their experience made them more desperate, maybe, more open. Maybe we don’t understand the difficulties within, maybe it does not enter our mind that this is of God and that he wants to accomplish something in our lives. It is never nice to feel weak, but this how they felt, praying, we do not know what they were praying about, perhaps praying for the needs of the kingdom as this was a dark time in the kingdom. An angel came and he talked of having a son that would bring them joy and gladness. Maybe they did not know what it was all about but they knew they were going to like it. The angel did not ask, "Would it be all right if the Lord gave you a child?" No, just that a child is coming and this was the same message to Mary, a child is coming. It wasn’t a mistake where the child was sent to, to open hearts, to open homes that accepted whatever came, were willing for anything. They considered it a privilege and this is how this kingdom works. We do not see all the needs in the kingdom, but we love to be open so that when there is a need, we can open our hearts and open our homes. Zechariah had trouble believing that so the angel said that he would be dumb, not to speak for 9 months. I could hardly see this as a serious punishment for I don’t think that he was being severely punished, for by not speaking it would help him to believe what the angel said would come to pass. Their hearts were a foundation for the work that God would do. If they already had a child, their hearts may not have been so open, maybe not so needy. Sometimes difficulties bring about a need that nothing else can bring. We heard today that we can’t do very much, but it is wonderful that what God is able to do is so great. God asks of us so that we might have joy and gladness for many will rejoice at His birth. He did not say you will get the glory and the recognition. No, he did not say that for the Lord knows that this is not good for us. We have joy and gladness when we have a little part in the kingdom. Wonderful to come to preps, for we get to be a little help and it brings joy and gladness. There is another home in 1st Samuel. Hannah was also barren, this was not an accident, for she suffered and suffered for years, she could not understand why she did not have a child. She suffered also for the cause of the other woman in the home but maybe suffering is not such a bad thing but it is easier to say it than to accept it. This made Hannah serious, desperate and willing, made her look outside of her own world. If she had a child for herself, it would have been a personal fulfilment, but a personal fulfilment is not very much is it? To be a help in the kingdom that is true fulfilment. Hannah prayed for a child and she would give him to the Lord for the whole of his life, have no claims on his life. I wonder what Hannah told Samuel at home. You have to go and serve in the temple, maybe she told him of her own vow. We are thankful for parents who do not have claims on their children, for it is so easy to have claims. It is wonderful to have grand homes, family around. It is normal but there is something in life that brings more joy and satisfaction, to be used by God. Here was a simple home that could offer something wonderful to the Lord; Samuel came from this home to go further than they could go themselves. Each year Hannah brought a little coat to encourage him to continue. It was costly to only see him once a year but she had a great fulfilment; she lent him to the Lord for the whole of his life. Samuel got a vision, the Lord spoke to him, and the Lord told him something terrible of Eli and his family. Samuel had learned something at home, he had learned to obey, how to listen, learned to come when he was called, learned to say, "Here am I." It may seem simple to have learned these lessons, but it is not as easy as that, is it? We have to exercise that, to come when we are called, we are doing a little job and the dinner bell goes. Probably we could finish the job if we just had another 5 minutes more, but we make life so much easier when we come when we are called. We don’t know what else his mother taught him. Many things we were taught that I am thankful for now; one thing was to eat everything that was put on our plate, to like a bit of everything. David learned music when he was a little boy which was so useful to him later. Parents have very much to do with the future of the children. We need to fix our eyes on the future, see all the possibilities that exist. One worker lived on a grain farm, a cattle farm. There were 3 boys that had to take care of the cattle. Once a year, there would be calves. Each night when the boys got home, the father would ask, "What about this or that cow?" The boys were expected to have taken notice of every animal. If they could not remember, they would be asked to go back out to the field and look. These parents were teaching their children responsibility. I wish I had learned as much for this brother worker is so responsible now. You see it in his life, paying attention to all his staff. In the meeting, knowing all who take part, he learned this when young; his parents eyes were lifted up. Hannah and Elkanah had a good marriage. It does not say that Elkanah had the same conviction as Hannah had as he was the man. He could have stopped Hannah giving the child to the Lord. They did this together and that is the foundation home that Samuel came from. This foundation can still be amongst us today, rather than leave when things get rough. May the Lord help us to have our eyes lifted to the possibility that exists so our children can enjoy a future with the Lord and that there can be joy and gladness in our hearts, that others can rejoice.
Hebrews 12, "Let us run with patience the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith." Many years ago, a young girl from home was to take part in the first international competition to run a marathon, this took place in Spain. She did well for a long time but in the end she got so exhausted, she fell. What did she do? She lifted her head to look at the goal and got straight up again and continued. She fell again and again. She lifted her head to see the goal and so got up to go again and again she fell. She fell many times but she did not give in, she reached the goal. It is not important how many times she fell, but she was one of the winners here. She was discounting the many defeats in the day of victory. In Hebrews 11, there are a list of names who all ran in the race. Everyone of them made mistakes, had defeats, all fell but they lifted their heads and looked to the goal. It says of some they saw him who is invisible, others saw a city, they saw the homeland, they saw the reward which is most important, saw Christ who is invisible, saw him who had overcome the world, the flesh, and the Devil. In looking to him, they were encouraged to go on and try again, they reached the goal. This girl who ran in the marathon was on the front page of one of your newspapers here in Spain. There was a photo of her and above the photo was written, “A winner.” She was. There was a list of the results. On the bottom of the list was this girl, but she was still a winner. Everyone who is in the race set before us, if we reach the goal we will be winners. We heard at the beginning of this convention of short tunnels, long tunnels, dark tunnels and less dark tunnels. My home town is in the west of Norway. Our convention is on a farm on the east. There are many mountains between the two places, lots of tunnels. A little girl from our church went to the Convention. As the car came up to the first tunnel, she saw the dark entrance and was scared so cried out, "No, Dad, don’t go in, go on the outside." There was no way on the outside, they had to go through. Then what did she do? She cried and clung to her mother, the one she loved and the one who loved her. She clung to the one who was stronger than her because she wanted to be comforted, to be protected. Every time, they came to a tunnel she did the same thing. We don’t like tunnels short or long, we don’t like the hard experiences of life and we are going to face some of them again in this New Year. These experiences could have the effect on us, to make us cling to the one who is stronger than us, to the one who loves us, the one who wants to protect us, to comfort us. These hard experiences can be valuable to us, can be a blessing. When I was a little child before I went to school, there was in our neighbourhood a painter. He had a small house with many windows and we used to love to visit him, to look at his work on the canvas, see the box of paints, the different colours, and saw the brushes. We used to like it when he painted the greens, the yellow, the blue. We protested when he put the brush into the dark brown, or black, or grey. He took no notice of our protests saying this would spoil the painting. Now when I look at the painting years later, I find it is a beautiful painting. See that those dark colours are necessary, he was the master and we were only children. Perhaps it is hard to see some hard experiences in the past but I know that they have been necessary for today we can see that the dark experiences added something to our soul that is beautiful. Psalm 23: David describes how he felt being with the Lord in green pastures and beside the still waters having sweet fellowship. Then the day came when the shepherd called to go on and he faced a tunnel, a dark tunnel, the valley of the shadow of death and there he clung to his shepherd. He then said, "Thy rod and thy staff, they comfort me." Another long tunnel, the presence of his enemies, and there he again clung to his shepherd. These things are working for us. We need to keep our eyes on the goal and, in the days to come, cling to our master.