It is very good to be here in Athens and I enjoyed Crete also. I find it very serious to speak in a meeting. I ask God to help me to have a sermon. I do not know what happens in Greece but back home you can buy sermons and they are as dead as can be. There is a big difference between a sermon and a living message from heaven. These days, as I prayed and pleaded with God, just one thought kept coming to my mind. I spoke about it one year ago and I think some of you may have heard me.
We read in Psalm 33 about praising God and different types of instruments. We read about an instrument of ten strings. Years ago an old servant of God said, "We are like an instrument of ten strings. The ten strings are two feet, two hands, two eyes, two ears, one tongue and our mind." An instrument that is out of tune is very hard to listen to. We read in Psalm 95 that we would like to make a good noise to the Lord. So each one of us is like a ten-stringed instrument. All these strings have to be in tune with Jesus. Not in tune with any other person except Jesus.
I was thinking about a little story I heard. A man went into a place where they sell watches and clocks and he wanted a new strap on his watch. The man said, "I will do that for you." He did it. He said, "I will set your watch to the correct time." He said, "I have just put my time to the time on your clock in the window." Even the shopkeeper did not have his clock on the right time. When we are born again of the Holy Spirit then we have the main thing in our heart and lives. Then we can start tuning all the strings to the Holy Spirit. If we have not received the Holy Spirit, we cannot start tuning the strings. Those who play a stringed instrument tell us one string out of tune will spoil the whole thing. At convention, we are finding out if the ten strings are in tune with the Holy Spirit.
We can start with our feet, those two strings. When we were teenagers, an old messenger of God told us how we would know if our feet were in tune or not. Are our feet taking us places where Jesus would not go? We were told as young children, "If you were not certain if you should go to certain places, all you need to do is ask yourself the question, 'Would Jesus go there?'" We know if He would go or not. I know nothing about you people, but if we are going anywhere that Jesus would not have gone and these two strings could be very slack and convention would help us tighten up those two strings. Help us make the decision, "I am not going anyplace that Jesus would not approve of."
Our two hands are two more strings. Are we doing things with our hands that Jesus would not approve of? If we are, those two strings are too loose and we need to stop doing those things that would grieve Jesus.
There are two eyes: are we looking at things that Jesus would not have looked at? Are we reading things Jesus would not read? If we are, those strings are far too loose and they need to be tightened. I like what Job said in Job 31:1, ”I made a covenant with my eyes.” This is what we all need to do: make a covenant with our eyes. Make an agreement that I would not look at anything Jesus would not look at. As I said, I know nothing about you but back home we have many problems and it is because people are looking at things they should not look at. One of the greatest problems in the world is the Internet; it is so useful, and you need it for your work and for your school I am sure, but we need to make a covenant with our eyes that we would not look at anything on the Internet that Jesus would not look at.
We have broken marriages and broken families back home and it is because a professing man or a professing woman did not make a covenant with their eyes. They are looking at filthy things on the Internet that are grieving the heart of God. Now they are very sad families and they're coming to us looking for help and all trust is broken and not a lot we can do to help them. Someone said God’s word can be used as a preventative or a cure and God's servants love to use it as a preventative. If you knew these sad families and sad couples, you would not want to start off the way they started - just looking at things that are filthy in the sight of God.
There are two ears: are we listening to things that Jesus would not listen to? There is a lot we can say about these strings. Sometimes on a stringed instrument there is just one slack string and it spoils the whole music. Sometimes there are three or four loose strings and sometimes they are all slack. Sometimes it could have one broken. Many times, I have come to convention and realised all my strings are slack, and I am glad I realised they were slack and the Master helped me to get them tightened up to the right tightness again. We have just sung in the hymn, “I feel the pressure of His hand.” We feel in the meeting He is tightening up the strings.
One string I have not mentioned and that is the tongue. We read about it in James 3 and this string needs a lot of tightening. It seems to be a string that gives a lot of trouble. We read in this chapter that a little fire can kindle something great. If someone went out to this dry field with just a match, it could set fire to the whole area. This tongue with just a few words can start a big problem. It can get so loose, we need it really tightened.
Back home, many of our problems start with loose tongues, mainly the telephone. We had an old messenger of God and he used to remind us we can get onto the telephone and we say, "Did you hear?" and then comes the gossip and most times it is not even accurate and this starts a great Fire of trouble.
We read in the first Epistle of John 3:15 about murderers. Anyone that would kill their brother or sister is a murderer and no way can they enter into eternal life. We can murder each other with our tongue. I have been guilty of murder with my tongue and I am sure others can admit they have murdered with their tongue. It is a very serious sin and unless we repent from it we shall not enter into eternal life. We have to stop murdering others with our tongue. We can also murder others with our spirit. Lately someone tried to murder me with a letter. No murderer shall have eternal life.
I had the privilege of nursing my mother the last two and a half years of her life. She had bone cancer and no medication would kill the pain. The more morphine she got, the more she wanted. Quite often, we thought she was going to die and when we thought she was going to die, we would telephone all her relations and tell them, "We think she is going to die," and they would all come to see her. One evening, they all arrived and she was lying in bed shaking with pain and her eyelids were shaking and we spoke to her and she could not answer. She had wonderful hearing. We had brought her bed downstairs to a nice little room that was close to the living room so she would not feel so cut off.
When the relatives tried to speak to her, she could not answer and they all went to the living room and in low voices they were chatting. One man amongst the crowd who loves gossip, he just loves the latest gossip and he was telling the group of people of the latest gossip and my mother was alone in her room. All of a sudden, we heard a strong voice and it was my mother and she said, “I think it is time you changed the subject.” My dying mother had to correct a whole roomful of people and they were all ashamed and got up and went home. I was glad, even on her deathbed, she was able to correct a large group of people. This string, the tongue, needs to be tightened.
The other string is our mind. We have heard about our thoughts and we heard about what we should be thinking about. It starts off by saying whatever things are true. There are a lot of things that are true, but they are not lovely and are not pure. So we don’t want to spend all our time thinking about those things that are true.
Here we have the ten strings and we need to get them all tightened up by the Master. I like what someone told us just because an instrument has a broken string, it doesn’t mean to say it is useless. So we could fix one of our strings that are broken and we can ask the Master to fix it and He will fix it. Maybe we feel all our strings are slack and in a bad way but the good news is the Master can tighten them all up. He knows exactly how tight to tighten them. It is bad to tighten them too tight. If a string is tightened too tight, it could snap. All these strings we have spoken about could be too tight.
We had a great old brother worker back home and he said he loved to read the newspaper every day. But he kept Himself real disciplined and he didn’t feel it was right to spend hours reading the newspaper and wasting time where he could be doing something more useful. But for 30 minutes, he would read it and he would teach all his young companions to read for 30 minutes and he said, "I want to know exactly what is going on in this world so I can pray more earnestly for God’s children who are out in it every day."
We went to visit an old lady and she was a good old lady, but the strings of her eyes were too tight. She did not believe you should read newspapers and she never went out of her house except to the shop or for the meetings and she was always finding fault with those who had to go to work and school every day, her strings were too tight. She had no understanding whatsoever what it was like to live in this world and it was very sad and there was not a joyful noise coming from her instrument. Because her strings were too tight. We know we are to live separated from this world as much as we can, but there is a balance in this.
When we have gospel meetings in the friends’ homes and we go around giving out invitations and we ask, "Do you know Mr. and Mrs. So-and-so?" Yes, we do know them and if there is any trouble, they are the first to help us and they are miles away from our house. We were in another area giving out cards and we said, "Do you know Mr. and Mrs. So-and-so?" "Mr. and Mrs. So-and-so are the oddest people we have ever met in our lives." They never ever stop to speak to us, that couple felt you should live completely separated from this world and not one person came to the gospel meeting. Their strings are far too tight.
We used to visit a very nice couple and they would gather the children around the piano and sing hymns together and every time before we would start the young woman would say, "We keep meaning to get the piano tuned." This became a joke and she said this for years and it would be very sad if that was the way we would be with our instrument. We would keep saying, "I intend to get my instrument tuned," and we come to convention and realise some of my strings are loose. "There is not a joyful noise coming from my instrument and I have to get the strings tightened up," but we never get around to it. I am speaking for myself, "Maybe my feet and my hands, I am having trouble with them and I have made a covenant with my eyes. I want to keep the covenant and I would not look at anything Jesus would not look at. I am working with this tongue that gives me terrible trouble and I am glad God is helping me tighten that string."
One time, a person was going to play a stringed instrument for us and they were tuning it first. I said to them, "Do you have to tune it often?" They said, "We tune it every time we go to use it." They said, "If you do it often, it is easier to keep it in tune." That is very encouraging for us, you do not just tune your instrument at convention, but in all the little meetings we feel the Master telling us that string there is far too slack and maybe that one is far too tight. The more often we tighten the strings, the better. The purpose of the whole thing is that we make a joyful noise unto the Lord.
I am sure you have heard a stringed instrument play out of tune and it is an awful noise and if some of our strings are not tuned and as far as the Lord is concerned, we are making an awful noise. I am working at it and I have proved that the Master can help me and I hope I can get victory.