The last verse of hymn 48 in the leaflet, if everyone came with that prayer in our hearts, there will be blessing in these meetings for us. The writer of the hymn, Sam Jones, must have had a yearning in his heart about this word of God and confidence as to the result if he was willing to obey. It speaks about, give me the Bible. It is like a prayer. Then he realised all heaven was interested in what he would do about this matter. All heaven is pleading and I thought of that cloud of witnesses that is watching even us today to see how we are handling these precious privileges.
Then it goes on to say, that we might know the counsel of God and obey. That is the reason why we would be gathered here today, the reason why we should read the Bible often. It is that we might know the counsel of God that we might obey it. If this is our condition of heart today, we will know what it means to be sheltering under the blood of Christ. We will know His redemption, His cleansing, and His forgiveness for anything that has been displeasing to God in the past. It is a wonderful thought and assurance for the future if that is our purpose, to obey what God reveals to us. I have been thinking of the first time the word of God was written - it was when God called Moses into the mountain and gave him the law.
Then when he came back and told the people what God had said, they said they were willing to obey and he wrote those words in a book and read it out to them and their reaction was wonderful. They were willing to obey all the Lord had said and be obedient and you would read then Moses sprinkled the blood from the sacrifice over those people. They were sheltering under the blood there. Then I thought of us, all they had was the law written out and read to them. They had no privilege of handling that writing when they wanted to, they had to wait until it was read to them but they were willing for what they remembered.
I was thinking of what we remember from meetings like this. There are things we will remember that are written on our hearts, things that will be forgotten; these people would be like that as they listened to the Word of God. There would be things they would vividly remember, other things they would forget. They didn't have any words in their hands like we have it now. Then I thought of the time when the Lord said there would be a king over them. He said that king must write out the words from this book that Moses had written, things that applied to himself. To write it all the days of his life that he might know how to be a true king and this was the responsibility upon them, they were to continually write it, every day, so that the kings would know what they should be, but that didn't continue.
There was a time came when they must have forgotten this; the book was forgotten, the book was lost, the kings weren't doing what it said they must do. It was a sad case but the time came when Josiah reigned that he saw to it the temple of God was repaired, things were put back in their place and the service of God was begun again as it should have been all along and at that time they found the book of the law. This book that had been lost that should have been in their hands continually. I don't think we lose a thing that we value like that.
When we are using it continually, we know where to put our hands on them. When we are using the word of God in that way, we find we know where we have left our Bible, where to put our hands on it, it is something we are handling continually. When the book was found, it was read to the king. I like the attitude of heart the king showed. He was made conscious that he had failed in doing what that book said. He had come short and the people had come short too, but there was true repentance.
He was doing things in ignorance because he didn't know the word of God. We can make excuses for him when he did but now he was willing to do what that word said. It is something we can appreciate, this God of Heaven understands and often in the weakness of human flesh there are times when we fail. But I wonder what we do when the Word of God convicts us of our standing before God and is there true repentance, putting right of the things we have been convicted of? Or are we trying to make excuses for ourselves, trying to evade the issue, trying to get around it so we don't need to obey?
There is only one way to blessing. That is, being willing to obey. Then I thought of the time when Nehemiah was in Jerusalem after the captivity. This was later on when those people got settled in their homes and towns. It speaks of the people asking that the Book of the Law would be read. This was a wonderful condition of heart those people were in. They were eager to hear the Word of God. This is the way the Lord will give us a keen appetite for the Word of God, when we have that desire to hear and when that Word of God was read to them. First, it encouraged them to feed on it, to eat the fat and drink the sweet and pass on to others what they had heard and they were happy in seeking to do this. On the second day, there was something they were convicted of they should have been doing, but they were not doing. To keep the feast of the tabernacle, to make their homes temporary homes for themselves out of boughs of trees, just a temporary dwelling which was fading as those seven days passed. You would see there was nothing lasting in that home.
This world is not our home and they were encouraged through that experience to look to something that would be more lasting and if that is the experience we have as we seek to obey the Word of God. There will be blessing in this meeting for us. We would get our vision lifted from the things that are only of this life. Things that could seem important to us perhaps, but they are things that will only fade, that are of no value at the end of life.
When we think of natural riches and treasures of this world, what will they mean to us when the end of life comes and even before it comes? Sometimes, it won't be ours any longer. We will have no pleasure in them, we have to leave it behind one day but if we have grasped that eternal treasure, that which is lasting. We will have something that will be ours for all eternity. They did this that they were convicted of, what had been missing, they did it. This is the way blessing comes to any of us.
Then I went on thinking of the New Testament. Up till now, they only had the Law of Moses written in that book but when we get to the time Jesus was on the earth and the disciples and apostles. We see they have a little more, they had the Old Testament Scripture and Jesus often quoted from the prophets and there was the matter of them knowing the law and the prophets, they could read it.
When Jesus went into the temple, He took up the Book and turned to the page in Isaiah that applied to Himself and you often see the old prophets quoted as they spoke the gospel. Even the apostles and disciples were using parts of the Old Testament that they knew and it concerned themselves. But then, when we think of our day, we have the New Testament as well, the teachings of Jesus and the letters the apostles wrote. We have it all. We don't need to wait for it to be read to us. We have the book in our hands and the privilege of reading it as we would.
I wonder if we make the most of it when we read the Bible. It is the good counsel of God. What does God require of us? How does God expect us to live? What is the purpose that we are in His family? We can find all these answers in the Word of God.
When we think of our daily home life, that which is written in the Word of God tells us how we should behave and act towards one another. There is enough to tell us how to worship Him. The condition of heart we need to be in as we worship. We read about what we should be in the business world. In our actions with others, honest, straight forward, above board in all our dealings. Then when we come to think of our part in the Kingdom of God and what we should be to one another, even in a practical way we would be willing to help when the need would arise.
Then I have been thinking of our attitude towards those outside, those less privileged than ourselves. Even how we should act towards a weaker brother or sister, someone who has failed and come short in this Way of God and I thought of these things I thought of something that was mentioned in our meeting Thursday night.
God has brought us so far, He has made so much provision but now we are left within walking distance of Heaven and it is for us to do that. These things are written for us, they are written to help us know how to walk in this way that leads to Heaven, to know what steps to take, how to behave ourselves, putting God first and other things in their rightful place, having the right spirit towards one another. All these things come into counsel of God and it says to obey.
We get nowhere unless we are willing to obey, whether early in our experience or later in the journey, we still need the counsel of God. As we are willing to obey the counsel, we would hear as the spoken Word, or read as the written word. It is a matter of what are we going to do when God reveals these things to us? If we are willing to obey, the sacrifice of Jesus will avail for us, the sacrifice that is to redeem us from the hand of the enemy. That sacrifice that will cleanse us from all sin as we are willing to put it away, that sacrifice that will take away even the stain of sin. We can be free from anything that would keep us separated from God and hinder us from being with Him through a never ending eternity.
I feel even these past months the Word of God has meant more to me. I seem to have got a clearer vision of the purpose of God and the wonderful love of God and it has helped us to be more grateful for the privilege that is ours of having the Word of God preserved for us down through those ages. Even since it was written, that we can have the benefit of learning the counsel of God for us and I hope we will realise all it could lead on to as we read the Scripture. Not for the sake of knowing how to argue, nor to know what other folk should be doing but what we should be doing ourselves, as individuals. As we are willing for this, the blessing of God will be upon our lives now and right to the end of the journey. For His Sake!