His Way Is Best

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“All things shall work together for good to them that love God…” (Romans 8:28).

Just how this statement can be true
Perhaps has often puzzled you.
You’ve wondered how that “all things” could
Work out for your eternal good;
How trouble, sorrow, and unrest
Could work together for the best.
How this could be, you did not know,
And yet, you felt it must be so.

Now “all things” mean both good and bad,
Yes, things that really make you sad.
It means your sickness and your health,
Your poverty as well as wealth.
Of trouble you will have your share
While in this world of toil and care.
But rest assured, you have a Friend
Who knows your life from start to end.

Should God permit dark clouds some day
To cast a gloom across your way,
Just take it as your Father’s will.
You’re in His care–He loves you still.
Be not alarmed, nor be cast down,
“Tis through these trials you win a crown.
All earthly sorrow soon shall cease,
While joys eternal shall increase.

There’s much we do not understand,
But “all things” are within His hand.
Remember God’s mysterious plan
Cannot be solved by mortal man;
But when we reach the land of rest,
We then shall see that He knew best.
The things we had not understood,
We’ll then realize were for our good.

A poem from “Poem of the Way.”

 

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STUDY 5: The Camp. The Israelites.

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The Camp Arrangement

The set-up of the Israelites’ camp is described in the first three chapters of Numbers. Numbers 1:1­-4 describes how God asked Moses to divide up the Israelites and take a census of the Israelites a little over a year after the Exodus. (The date of the Exodus is discussed in Study 2 of the “Beauties of the Tabernacle” Series.)

And the Lord spake unto Moses in the wilderness of Sinai, in the tabernacle of the congregation, on the first day of the second month, in the second year after they were come out of the land of Egypt, saying, Take ye the sum of all the congregation of the children of Israel, after their families, by the house of their fathers, with the number of their names, every male by their polls; From twenty years old and upward, all that are able to go forth to war in Israel: thou and Aaron shall number them by their armies. And with you there shall be a man of every tribe; every one head of the house of his fathers.”

[NOTE: the first day of the second month, in the second year” was 1st Iyyar, 1444bc, one month after the Tabernacle was set up. The Tabernacle was first set up on 1st Abib, 1444bc—see Exodus 40:2, 17.]

The camp was arranged into east, south, west, and north sides as documented in the diagram below.

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God arranged that Moses, Aaron, and his sons (the Priests) would camp “in front of” (i.e. closest to) the Tent of Meeting (Numbers 3:38). God also instructed that the Levite camps be adjacent to the tent on the 3 other sides (South, West, and North), while those of the other Israelites were to be “far off” (Numbers 2:2).

WHO DO THE ISRAELITES REPRESENT?

In the Tabernacle arrangement, Israel consisted of 4 categories of Israelites:

(1) the High Priest (Aaron) represented Jesus, our “high priest.”

We read in Hebrews 4:14-16,

“14 Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession. 15 For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. 16 Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.”

Also, Hebrews 6:19-20:

“19 Which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and stedfast, and which entereth into that within the veil; 20 Whither the forerunner is for us entered, even Jesus, made an high priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec.”

The symbolic meaning of the actors in the next 3 categories of Israelites depends upon the passage of Scripture at hand. The meaning is contextually sensitive.

(2) the under priests (Aaron’ sons) Refer to Study 7 of the Beauties of the Tabernacle section, titled “The Priests. The Day of Atonement.”

(3) the tribe of Levi, (not including the Priests) Refer to Study 6 of Beauties of the Tabernacle, titled “The Levites.”

(4) the Israelites (not including the Tribe of Levi) — Let us examine this here.

There are two groups of such Israelites represented in the Tabernacle type, which do not consist of the Priests (who only came from the Tribe of Levi) and the remaining (non-Priest) Levites:-

(a) the non-believers in Christ amongst the world of mankind These are represented in the Israelites who are outside the court, in the camp area. Such individuals do not believe in Jesus and do not consider the Bible as the glorious, divinely inspired words of God, just as the Tabernacle’s outer-most covering may have looked unattractive to the Israelites in the camp. We discuss this further below, in the following Study. (See also Study 9 of Beauties of the Tabernacle, titled “Tabernacle Coverings.”) As the burnt offerings were a stench to Camp of the Israelites, so the message of God’s Truth is a stench to non-believers in today’s world and considered “foolishness” (1 Corinthians 1:18; 2:14; 3:19).

(b) the non-spirit begotten believers in Christ amongst the world of mankindThese are represented in the Israelites inside the court area who enter the “gate” (which represents Christ, see John 10:9; 14:6). See Study 4 of Beauties of the Tabernacle, titled “The Court (Holy Place).” These are believers in Christ but non-spirit begotten individuals, who have not fully consecrated their lives in following Christ and doing God’s will.

Let us now consider what an Israelite represents in relation to the Gospel Age and the future Millennium Age:-

  • During the Gospel Age

During the Gospel Age (33 ad until the completion of the 6000 years of Permission of Evil) an Israelite coming to make an offering typifies “the Church of the Firstborn whose names are written in heaven” (Hebrews 12:23) — those who have consecrated their lives to the God. These develop as Christ’s body members, sharing in the sufferings of Christ (2 Timothy 2:12), and “by persistence in doing good, seek glory, honor and immortality” (Romans 2:7). Such are promised a “first resurrection” and spiritual, “incorruptible bodies” as Divine beings (1 Corinthians 15, Revelation 20:5). After the present time of sacrificing, these are to be kings and priests unto God, and to reign on the earth (Revelation 5:10).

The Laodicean (7th) Messenger to the seventh Gospel Age Church, Brother Charles Russell, in his later years, came to see that full justification applied to only the spirit begotten, rather than to those who are believers but not consecrated. Please refer to Reprints from the Original Watch Tower 4546:4, 4427:6, 5972:6.

  • During the Millennial Age

As the type also pertains to the Millennial Age, the Israelites represent the world of mankind in the near future who will choose to walk up the Highway of Holiness. The term an “Israelite indeed” (as Nathanael was labelled by Jesus in John 1:47) is an expression that applies to anyone who adheres to the principles of Godliness, the golden standard in the Kingdom, the only standard by which one will be able to have eternal life. (Isaiah 26:9, Proverbs 2:21­­­­–22, Hebrews 12:22, Revelation 21:1.) For further reading, refer to the post “Will All Mankind Need to Become “Israelite Indeed”?”

Hence when considering the Day of Atonement, the Israelites (not including the Priests) represented the world of mankind. The sin offering sacrifices made for the Israelites only, represent the “better sacrifices” and atonement made on behalf of the whole world by Jesus (“head”, Colossians 1:18) and the Church (the “body” of Christ members, 1 Corinthians 12:27, Colossians 1:18, Romans 12:5) — who God has permitted to share in the antitypical sin offering. The sufferings of the Church count as sin offerings sacrifices, in that the present sufferings of the Church prepare them to assist the world during the Millennium to be purged from the propensity for sin much as the sufferings of Christ prepared him to be our high priest, to purge from us the propensity for sin (2 Corinthians 1:3-7, 2 Timothy 2:12).

The Apostle Paul beautifully explains this through his words in Colossians 1:23-24:

23 I Paul am made a minister;  24 Who now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh for his body’s sake, which is the church…”

In 1 John 2:2 we read that Jesus “is a propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.” In the future, the saints are permitted the privilege of assisting Jesus to free the world from their sins, through the priestly work they will share with Christ during the Millennial Age of Christ’s Reign with his 144,000 (Bride) body members.

What could be seen from out in the camp looking toward the Tabernacle arrangement?

The Tabernacle was in the middle of the camp in the desert.

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Looking at the Tabernacle from the outside, an ordinary Israelite only saw the gate kept by the cherubim, perhaps the top part of the first 5 pillars of the Holy; perhaps some parts of the top of the posts and fencing equipment; the pillar of cloud of God’s presence, and the smoke of the perpetual offering rising from the altar in the Court because the white fine twined linen curtain surrounding the court was 5 cubits (2.29 metres; 7 1/2 feet) high all around. That is how we human beings perceive others and sometimes even God himself. Yet the Lord teaches Samuel the prophet and us, “man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7).

Of course depending on where one stood, the top of the Tabernacle could also be seen from the camp, since it was twice the curtain’s height. It would have appeared dark since it was made of the skin of sea cows (manatee or dugong) skins, (mistranslated badger skins). Because this dark skin was not attractive to the eye, perhaps a foreigner could never imagine that this was the house of the Creator of the Universe. Who would imagine there was so much gold inside?

“What you see and what you hear depends a great deal on where you are standing” (C. S. Lewis).

Here are parts of an excerpt from “Approaching God,” by Br. Regis Liberda  in The Herald of Christ’s Kingdom, Nov.- Dec. 2002:

As the Tabernacle as seen from outside was not attractive, God knew it had to be this way for the camp in the desert where the Tabernacle is set represents the world. God does not attract anyone by apparent riches. We do not come to God because of the majesty and beauty of some building. Our reasons are not visible.

Many think that the Truth is as unattractive as the outer skin covering of the Tabernacle. Many think a Christian life is sad and dark; they do not know that for Christians the exterior has no value. Inside there is light, joy, richness, and peace.

Some are interested to know more. They suppose that this tent contains something more, and they draw closer. The closer they get, the greater appears the building, but they cannot see what is inside the Court since the linen hanging is too high. They can only see the top of the Tabernacle or tent. When they are very close, they can only see what resembles a white wall; the Tabernacle itself has disappeared. They know there is something beyond the wall but they cannot enter into the Court because of that wall. It is the white linen. Linen represents the justice of God; white represents purity and holiness: “Fine linen is the righteousness of saints” (Revelation 19:8).

In front of that white wall, one understands he is a sinner. If he circles the wall trying to enter the Court, he continues to be stopped by this justice. When he finally recognizes his situation as a sinner, a unique door appears on the eastern side.

The sun arises in the east at the beginning of a new day. Likewise when someone reaches the door of the Court, a new day or a new life starts for him. He is now walking in the light.

Outside the Camp

Through Moses, God instituted a Law for all Israelites to adhere to which entailed the exclusion of lepers out of the camp in the wilderness, and out of the cities in Judea. We read about this in Leviticus 13:46, 46 All the days wherein the plague shall be in him he shall be defiled; he is unclean: he shall dwell alone; without the camp shall his habitation be. 47 The garment also that the plague of leprosy is in, whether it be a woollen garment, or a linen garment.”

In Numbers 5:2-3 we read, “Command the children of Israel, that they put out of the camp every leper, and every one that hath an issue, and whosoever is unclean by the dead; both male and female shall ye put out, without the camp shall ye put them; that they defile not their camp, in the midst whereof I dwell.”

Leprosy is a picture of sin, and its cleansing represents the cleansing of the consecrated and spirit begotten believers in Christ now, during the Gospel Age, and the cleansing of the world later in the Millennial Kingdom Age, under the righteous rulership of Christ with his Bride of 144,000 Elect members.

The camp, the dwelling place of God, throughout which God would “walk” just as in the garden of Eden (Genesis 3:8), was to be holy. We are explain about this in Deuteronomy 23:14, “For the LORD thy God walketh in the midst of thy camp, to deliver thee, and to give up thine enemies before thee; therefore shall thy camp be holy: that he see no unclean thing in thee, and turn away from thee.”

Its holiness was to be achieved by the keeping of the ordinances of cleanliness, by the cleansing received from sacrifices, and by removing those who threatened its cleanliness. Offenders would be stoned outside the camp. (Leviticus 24:14) The remains of the offenders who died inside the camp were taken outside such as was the case of the two sons of Aaron, Nadab and Abihu (Leviticus 10:4).

There was a ceremonially clean place outside the camp (Numbers 19:9) where the ashes of the sacrifices whose blood was carried into the sanctuary, were thrown and a wood fire on this ash heap was where, for instance, the remains of the sin offering’s bull were to be burned up as explained in Leviticus 4:11-12. The ashes of the red heifer were gathered up by a “clean” Israelite and placed in this ceremonially clean, which according to Numbers 19:9-10 were used “in the water of cleansing”. The water from a jar containing the red heifer’s ashes would be sprinkled over any one or any thing classified as “unclean” to purify (Numbers 19:9-22).

—–

Hebrews 13:13 (KJV) — “Let us go forth therefore unto him without [“outside,” ESV] the camp, bearing his reproach.”

The following extract is from: Souvenir Notes, Bible Students’ Conventions 1913 – Question Meeting Conducted by Br. Charles T. Russell (in the Bible Students Library CD) Question 4  “Together with Him without the camp” — does this mean to go out in the second camp, or are there two camps?

Answer —

The Apostle says, “Let us go to Him without the camp.” In the English of today we would
say, “Let us go to Him outside the camp.” We do not use the word “without” the camp in that same way today. Let us go to Him outside the camp — what does that mean?

Well the camp would represent that condition of things which claimed to be in harmony with God.

Look back in Jesus’ day:

Jesus went outside the camp. Was it the Gentile camp? No. What was the camp with Him? The camp in Jesus’ time was composed of all those who professed to be God’s people, holy people — all the Jewish people who professed to be in harmony with the Lord. What would it mean that He went outside the camp? He was pledged in his faithfulness and loyalty to God to take His stand which took Him outside of the sympathy and fellowship of those who were not fully Israelites indeed — all the Jews that were Israelites indeed in whom was no guile could appreciate it, and they, like the disciples, were in the attitude of the Levites that were approaching the Holy and drawing near to the Lord, and were, like the Levites, ministering in the Court. This would represent the attitude of all believers inside of that white curtain, but those who constituted the camp at that time were nominal professors who did not appreciate fully, and Jesus in order to be faithful to God and His message was obliged to stand for the truth, for that which is right, and that brought Him out of sympathy and out of accord with the great nominal mass of the Jewish people.

Now the Apostle says, “Let us go to Him outside the camp.” What does this mean?

It meant to the Apostles’ of old that they should also take the same stand toward the law that Jesus took toward the law; the same stand toward the pharisees and scribes and the doctors of the law that Jesus took. Then to those afterwards who became associated with the Gentiles, as, for instance, Paul, Silas and Barnabas, who ministered to the Gentiles, we think outside the camp meant outside the synagogue of the Jews and all of those who professed to be in harmony with God that were living in Rome, or wherever they might be — whoever stood for and claimed to be God’s people constituted the camp.

What does it mean today?

The camp today means all of Christendom, all the dear people who claim that they are spiritual Israelites, that is God’s campAnd all of God’s people who are sincerely following in the footsteps of Jesus will find that they will not be appreciated by the general camp. In other words, the nominal church will not generally appreciate the spirit of the Lord and the teachings of the Lord, and therefore all who would he faithful to Jesus and walk in His steps will find themselves today just as much out of accord with the camp of today as Jesus and the Apostles found themselves out of accord with the camp of their clay. To go to Him without the camp today means that we will take up our cross, whatever sacrifice it might mean to you and me, the breaking of tender ties with dear fellow Christians who are Methodists, or Presbyterians, etc., willing to go to the Lord and be faithful and loyal to Him at any cost, no matter how others may view it.

And as a matter of fact it was those of the camp that persecuted Jesus and the Apostles: and it is those of the camp who have persecuted the Church which is the Body of Christ from that day to this.

References

Br. Charles Russell: “Tabernacle Shadows,” “The Tabernacle and Its Teachings” — Supplement to Feb. “Zion’s Watch Tower,” Pittsburgh, PA, 1882, Volume 6 — “Studies in the Scriptures,” Reprints of the Watch Tower.

Br. Anton Frey: “Notes on the Tabernacle,” “Wilderness Wanderings.”

Br. Regis Liberda: An article titled “Approaching God”, The Herald of Christ’s Kingdom Magazine, Nov.- Dec. 2002.

Souvenir Notes, Bible Students’ Conventions 1913 — Question Meeting Conducted by Br. Charles T. Russell — in the Bible Students Library CD
Bookstore

Suggested Further Reading

STUDY 1: An Introduction To The Tabernacle And It’s Purpose
https://biblestudentsdaily.com/2016/09/02/study-1-an-introduction-to-the-tabernacle-and-its-purpose/

STUDY 2: The Pillar of Cloud By Day And The Pillar of Smoke By Night  https://biblestudentsdaily.com/2016/09/09/study-2-the-pillar-of-cloud-by-day-and-the-pillar-of-smoke-by-night/

STUDY 3: The Tabernacle Construction: The Holy and The Most Holy  https://biblestudentsdaily.com/2016/09/14/study-3-the-tabernacle-construction-the-holy-the-most-holy/

STUDY 4: The Court (“Holy Place”)
https://biblestudentsdaily.com/2016/09/20/study-4-the-court-holy-place/

STUDY 6: The Levites
https://biblestudentsdaily.com/2016/11/18/study-6-the-levites/

STUDY 7: The Priests. The Day of Atonement.
https://biblestudentsdaily.com/2016/12/10/study-7-the-priests-the-day-of-atonement/

STUDY 8: The Tabernacle Coverings
https://biblestudentsdaily.com/2017/01/02/study-8-the-tabernacle-coverings/

STUDY 9: The Gate. The Door. The Vail.
https://biblestudentsdaily.com/2017/03/01/study-9-the-gate-the-door-the-vail/

“Going Outside the Camp.” Reprint 4607 – from the Original Watch Tower and Herald of Christ’s Presence.http://www.htdbv8.com/1910/r4607.htm

 

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Pastor Charles Russell’s Last Days

Excerpts from the Reprints of the Original Watchtower and Herald of Christ’s Presence, pages 6001-6006, by Brother Menta Sturgeon (1867-1935):-

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On Monday afternoon, October 16th, 1916 at 5 pm, Brother Russell left the Bethel home for the last time.

At the noon hour he informed the dearest family to him on earth that he expected to be absent from them for a short time, and expressed for them the hope that during his absence they might be happy and prosperous under the blessings of the Lord. He also said that he expected that he and the one accompanying him would enjoy themselves in the Lord’s service. Then, while he and the family stood at their places, he offered a solemn prayer, beginning with the words:

“O Lord, Thy promised grace impart, And fill each consecrated heart!”

Brother Russell afterwards, wrote out nine letters — giving instructions to various ones respecting their duties. At the appointed hour he went forth, never more to return, saying “goodbye” to the friends in the hall as he passed out and started for the station.

When the Lehigh Valley train pulled out of Jersey City at 6 pm, it carried away our precious Brother on his last pilgrim journey, which was to end in Heaven. Having held public meetings at Providence and Fall River the day previous, he was tired to start with, and consequently did not dictate on the train that evening, as was his custom. In fact, he retired earlier than usual, saying “Good-night” as he did so.

In the morning, in answer to the question as to how he rested, he gave his usual answer during his recent trips, “On both sides,” meaning, of course, that he changed sides frequently during the night.

He often told us of late that he scarcely slept at all, was awake every hour of the night, and thought pretty much day and night. He had the care of all the churches upon his heart, and his physical ailments would not permit much rest. He always ate sparingly, and would carefully note the effect of everything he ate or drank.

He had a beautiful way of making the one who traveled with him feel at ease, and not consider himself merely as a servant, by handing him enough money at the beginning of the journey to cover all his incidental expenses during the trip. He would then arrange that we pay each other’s expenses alternately; he paying all expenses for both one day, and his companion paying all expenses for both the next day, and so on during the entire trip.

DIFFICULTIES ON THE WAY

The wreckage of a freight train during the night had caused the delay, we were informed, and a detour of fifty miles would be necessary to enable us to reach our destination. There was no dining car on the train, and neither could we secure anything to eat on account of uncertainties. It was at this point that a box of peanut butter sandwiches, which had been given to us by a thoughtful friend in Brooklyn, came in just right…. It was at Chicago that his physical endurance was taxed to the limit. Circumstances made it necessary for us to walk several miles, until the writer was growing weary and was sure that Brother Russell must be worn out also, although no remarks of the kind passed between us. All of this occurred after a few hours’ rest during the previous night and with but little to eat.

How many times have I heard Pastor Russell ask people on the trains, in the stations, hotels, everywhere, “Are you consecrated?” He nearly always brought this in. He had many opportunities; for people recognized him everywhere and desired to speak or have a few words with him…Many a time people came to me on the train and inquired, “Is that not Pastor Russell?” and would say, “I knew him by his picture in the paper,” or “I heard him lecture at such and such a place.” Sometimes they would inquire just after he had walked through the train, “Who is that distinguished gentleman with you?” In this way we were able to send out many First Volumes and other printed matter of the Society.

At Kansas City on Thursday morning we encountered so many difficulties in purchasing tickets for the West that it became necessary that I make a trip up into the city through the rain, and with such delay that Brother Russell did here what we had never before known him to do; viz., run to catch a train. We are saying these things to show how different this trip was from anything that had ever preceded it, and how his trials increased as he proceeded on his journey.

We reached Wichita Thursday afternoon in time for an afternoon meeting; but it, with other work in Wichita, was more or less interfered with by the loss of Brother Russell’s valise.

BROTHER RUSSELL’S LAST MEAL

Traveling all night then and reaching the home of Sister Frost Tuesday morning, it was not surprising to find him in much physical pain. His labors were telling on him more than ever. His overworked body began to break at its weakest point. Cystitis was becoming acute. We secured various things for him that morning–in fact, everything he wished, and he seemed to know exactly what to get and do. He worked faithfully on his case all morning; and although we had gone to see a doctor who was somewhat interested in the Truth and who would gladly have called to see him, yet it was not his wish. He appreciated the kind offer, but indicated that he would not need a physician’s services.

Conditions were getting serious. Brother Russell signed a few letters we had written, gave us to understand that we were doing a more important work than we realized and then had us substitute for him at the 11 am meeting at the Hall. Sister Frost generously placed her car at our disposal, so that we could easily and quickly go to and fro. He went to dinner with us, talked pleasantly to everyone, and was as humorous as usual; but he ate nothing…After the meal we went upstairs together arm in arm to his room; and after talking for awhile, he asked us to take the consecration service at the Hall at 3 pm. This we did and returned immediately to his room.

HIS LAST PUBLIC DISCOURSE

The night was drawing on. I was seated on the low window sill close by his side, my hands rested upon his knee and my face was turned up toward his. Love like electricity was flowing from face to face and heart to heart. We talked in whispered tones; and he said during the quiet, lovely conversation, “Dear brother, please remain close tonight and be ready to pick up the thread of thought where I drop it.”

The evening lecture was given in the largest and best theater in San Antonio. It is indeed a beautiful structure. We have never seen a meeting more beautiful. The lecture on the subject of “The World on Fire” was begun under the most favorable conditions.

I was seated at his right, behind the screen, and could see every motion he made. All went well for about 45 minutes, when I thought I could see that he was going to leave the platform. Without any sign of suffering, with perfect self-poise, quietly did he walk off the rostrum, while I endeavored to walk on just as orderly and quietly, and, without a word of explanation, “picked up the thread where he had dropped it.” I continued for about five minutes…

EN ROUTE TO CALIFORNIA

It was just after leaving San Antonio that I had the privilege and pleasure of untying and removing his shoes for the first time. Hitherto he would not permit this, although I had several times made the offer; but now he acquiesced readily, and said, in his gracious manner, “Thank you!”

The next morning he was a sick man, although he was not ready to admit it. He kept to his bed all day Wednesday. While he lay there in his berth, I took a seat on the couch, near him. I watched every move he made, stroked his head, and thought what a stupendous amount of work that brain had done! Taking his soft, gentle right hand and letting it rest in the palm of my left hand, I gently stroked it with my right; and thinking of his lecture at San Antonio the previous night and of the many times I had seen him use that hand so graciously when exposing the errors of the creeds of men as contrasted with the Word of God, I said to him, “That is the greatest creed-smashing hand I ever saw! He replied that he did not think it would smash any more creeds.

This led me to inquire, “Who will smite the River Jordan?” To this he responded, “Someone else can do that.” “But how about the payment of the penny?” I asked. He hesitated for a moment and said, “I don’t know.” Brother Russell was evidently perplexed.

We then talked about his physical condition. What he said about his sufferings was this:

“I always thought I should have some severe sufferings before I finished my course, but thought when I had the trouble in Pittsburgh, that was it. But if the Lord wants to add this also, it is all right.”

DETAINED AT DEL RIO

We learned that a bridge ahead of us had been burned during the night and that we would likely be held up for some time….the weather was hot down there. But never one word of complaint did Brother Russell make.

The diner was three Pullmans ahead of us. Consequently we had to walk that distance for every little thing needed. After one full day’s delay we pulled out of Del Rio on Thursday morning, and were the first ones to pass over the rebuilt bridge. By that time we were over, whereupon we remarked, “Brother Russell, we have often heard you speak about the time when we shall pass over the river; and now, at last, we are over.” A sweet smile came over his face, but he said not a word. We began to think that he might pass over, but surely not very soon. It was October, and it occurred to us that as we were delayed one day before passing over the river in southern Texas, so he might tarry with us one prophetic day and pass over by October, 1917. With these thoughts running through our mind, we were doing our best to serve our dear, patient, uncomplaining, appreciative Brother Russell in every way we could.

All day Saturday, under severe pain, in great weakness, with obstructions piling up before him every moment, he struggled with business propositions like a giant. We have never seen or heard of anything to equal his heroism. Friends had disappointed him, and he wondered if the Lord were not against him in some things. His trials thickened and deepened. Not a murmur or complaint did he utter. He had promised the Lord that he would not, and he kept his promise. He was so great that I nearly always hesitated about drawing near to him.

TO LOS ANGELES

He would not yet admit that he was really sick. By 10 am we had reached the hotel, and I asked him if I could not get him something to eat. He said he was not hungry and asked me to suggest something…Upon bringing it to him, he asked if I had had my breakfast; and when I answered, no, he wanted to know why. I told him that it was because I wanted him to have his first. He said he would not eat his until I had first had my breakfast.

This was just like Brother Russell. He was always so considerate of others. Whenever he would ask me to do anything for him, he would say “Please”; and when it was done he would invariably say, “Thank you.”

BROTHER RUSSELL’S LAST ADDRESS TO THE CHURCH

He cautioned the brethren against exposing his physical condition by saying, “Don’t give me away, Brethren.”

You know that our dear Brother was so considerate of the feelings of others that he never drew much on the sympathy of the friends–so considerate was he, that but few knew that he had been a physical sufferer for thirty years.

On one occasion recently he sent word to the Bethel Family that he would not be down to breakfast; and afterwards he told me that it was on account of the family that he did not come–that they had such deep sympathy for him that he did not like to draw on their vitality. He had learned to lean on the Strong Arm alone! He did not need us particularly, but we needed him.

When he stepped to the front of the platform to begin to speak, out of consideration for the splendid audience before him he said, “I regret that I am not able to speak with force or power,” and then beckoned to the Chairman to remove the stand and bring a chair. As he sat down, he said, “Pardon me for sitting down, please.” In deep humility, in great suffering and in the most solemn manner, he spoke for about 45 minutes, and then answered questions for a short period.

THE RETURN JOURNEY BEGUN

He had me place various articles that he would need during the night in convenient places–under the covers, under his pillows, on the window-sills, so that he could reach them without disturbing me.

We were aroused from slumber by his knocking and calling us by name–it was probably a couple of hours. But we went to him quickly, did what was required, heard him say again “Thank you,” and again lay down. This time, however, we did so with the thought that we would not sleep so soundly. In another hour he knocked and called again; and we were at his side, and soon discovered that another chill was coming on. He had had his first one two nights before. We put five Pullman blankets upon him and tucked them in close on every side; but still he shook. We gave him what was required, and was glad when the rigors ceased. We remained by his side, lying down at times on the couch beside him.

PREPARATIONS FOR DEATH

… It was then that he stood again and said, “Please make me a Roman toga.” I said, “Brother Russell, I do not understand what you mean.” He said, “I will show you.” He had me take a clean sheet and turn it down twelve inches from the top; and then a second one the same. Placing his left hand on his right shoulder, he said, “Fasten them together here.” He stood erect before me for a moment without saying a word, then lay down on the couch on his back, closed his eyes, and lay there before me as in a shroud, a perfect picture of death.

The toga was worn by Roman officials and sometimes by priests, and sometimes symbolized victory and peace, and at other times that the one wearing it had fulfilled his vows. To the writer’s mind all these things are meant. He had fulfilled his vows! he had gained the victory! he was at peace! Thenceforth there was laid up for him a Crown of Righteousness, which the Lord would shortly place upon his noble brow.

CONCERNING THE SEVENTH VOLUME

…With thoughts of the end running through my mind, it was only natural for me to say to myself, Had you not better ask Brother Russell concerning some things? It was in this mood and in this connection that we inquired respecting the Seventh Volume (of “Studies In The Scriptures”), and received his answer, “Some one else can write that”…

… I was just about to sink into sleep when I thought I heard the words, “Brother Sturgeon.” As I came to him, the experiences of Samuel came into my mind. I leaned over him and said, “Brother Russell, did you call me?” He answered “Yes,” and gave me some little thing to do, after which I lay down the second time. Ere long I thought I heard my name called again. I inquired as before, bent over close to him and heard him whisper, “I am trying to find something for you to do.” From this I inferred, “Brother Russell wants me to stay awake tonight”; and it proved to be so.

DEATH DRAWING NEAR

I kept doing many little, necessary things in harmony with his words or signs until another chill (the third one) came on. I folded blanket after blanket over him, tucked them in close to him; but still he shook. I therefore lay on him and pressed my face to his until I felt the warmth returning to his body. The fact that this was the third chill in four nights deepened the impression in my mind that the end was drawing near.

About midnight a great change came over him. He no longer cared for any of his medicine, and did not even seem to thirst for water as heretofore. Some things almost ceased. His pain settled deeper in. He could no longer lie straight in bed as formerly….. When he could no longer make his wishes known by words, he would do so by signs. …I looked to the Lord, and steeled myself, saying, “I will stay with him to the finish.”

The most wonderful thing about this most wonderful man was that, during all his sufferings, trials, inconveniences and perplexities, he spoke not a word of complaint, he heaved not a sigh; he uttered not a moan; he shed not a tear. He had resolved that he would not murmur nor complain, and he kept his resolution to the end. He literally died in doing the Father’s will, and thus fulfilled his vow.

“Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on” (Revelation 14:13)     

The Author–Brother Menta Sturgeon (1867-1935)

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URL: https://biblestudentsdaily.com/2016/10/23/pastor-charles-russells-last-days/

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2 Corinthians 5:20 – What Does Being “Ambassadors for Christ” Mean ?

2 COR. 5, 20

What is an ambassador ?

According to Wikipedia, an ambassador is :

“an official envoy, especially a highest ranking diplomat who represents a state and is usually accredited to another sovereign state, or to an international organization as the resident representative of their own government or sovereign or appointed for a special and often temporary diplomatic assignment… They are stationed in a foreign country and they as well as the embassy staff are granted diplomatic immunity and personal safety while living abroad.”

Apostle Paul made it clear to us that those who are accepted of God and begotten of the holy spirit are ambassadors of another country:

“For our citizenship is in heaven; whence also we wait for a Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ” (Philippians 3:20, ASV).

“For he has delivered us out of the dominion of the darkness, and transplanted us into the kingdom of his dear Son” (Colossians 11:13).

The Apostle Paul

Apostle Paul referred to himself as an “ambassador in chains” (Ephesians 6:20). This is hardly the view we take of diplomatic ambassadors today. But Paul does not say this to elicit pity. Rather he tells the Church not to lose heart over what he is suffering because it is for the Church’s glory.

Truly Apostle Paul was a great ambassador!

Should we not also represent our head, Christ Jesus and SHINE like stars in the sky, being blameless and pure, “children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation”? (Philippians 2:15)

YES we MUST do so… not tomorrow… BUT NOWright NOW… the High Calling of the Gospel Age is soon to end and Christ’s Bride composed of 144,000 members, shall hath made herself ready!

Dear Brethren, we will not miss out for the chance of eternal eternities and forevermore to belong to the BODY of Christ… to be counted worthy of the prize of the High Calling… of bringing our Heavenly Father grandest JOY and who shall present the Bride as the most righteous gift to Christ!

Let us “trim our lamps” as the “wise virgins” (Matthew 25:7) and stay separate from this world (2 Corinthians 6:17); and be “peculiar people” renouncing the world and its evil desires!

“14 Do all things without murmurings and disputings:15 That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world…” (Philippians 2:14-15).

Prepare yourselves through strict training and discipline to belong to the ONE BRIDEGROOM ONLYlet JESUS BE YOUR HEAD–SEEK him; SEARCH for him; COPY him; make him proud; REPRESENT him in spite of ALL RIDICULE and SUFFERING in this world.

“24 Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it.
25 Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable.
26 So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air.
27 But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified” (1 Corinthians 9:24-27, ESV).

The Apostle Paul encourages us: “Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God” (2 Corinthians 5:20, KJV).

Qualifications of an Ambassador

As ambassadors of Christ, how should we conduct ourselves? What is our role?
Let’s consider the following characteristics of an ideal ambassador:

  1. PATIENCE

An ambassador listens carefully to the citizens of the countries he is involved in helping to understand their needs and situation so that any conflicts or disagreements can be resolved in peace. The Apostle Paul was so patient through his experiences as a prisoner and in his dealings with rulers he sought to bring about mutual understanding concerning the Truth.

  1. WISDOM

An ambassador uses his knowledge of people to (as far as possible) resolve conflicts between any parties involved. We have an example of this by the Apostle Paul–when question by rulers and confronted by hostile Jews and Greeks, he used Godly wisdom to answer.

“Now when Paul perceived that one part were Sadducees and the other Pharisees, he cried out in the council, “Brothers, I am a Pharisee, a son of Pharisees. It is with respect to the hope and the resurrection of the dead that I am on trial” (Acts 23:6, ESV).

  1. GRACIOUS SPEECH

As a spokesperson for his country, an ambassador is one who encourages and entreats with his words rather than causing any offence or hostility, as well as seeking the good of all. We see this in Apostle Paul’s conduct here:

“32Give none offence, neither to the Jews, nor to the Gentiles, nor to the church of God: 33Even as I please all men in all things, not seeking mine own profit, but the profit of many, that they may be saved” (1 Corinthians 10:32-33, KJV).

Apostle Peter explains: 11Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul; 12Having your conversation honest among the Gentiles: that, whereas they speak against you as evildoers, they may by your good works, which they shall behold, glorify God in the day of visitation” (1 Peter 2:11-12, KJV).

  1. GENEROUSAn ambassador will use his time and talents to help others, especially as it promotes the interests of his home government, even at personal sacrifice and we note how Apostle Paul laid down his life for kingdom interests  in Philippians 2:4:-

Phil. 2, 4.jpg

  1. REASONABLENESS

An ambassador will try to help those in his host country and persuade them to appreciate the benefit of his counsel. Paul continually appealed to others to accept his counsel concerning Christ’s kingdom and the blessing it will be to all.

  1. HONESTY

An ambassador tells the truth and uses facts to persuade others. He neither deceives nor exaggerates to achieve his way. Paul was forthright, even on occasion calling the attention of Peter and others to what appeared to be a misleading example.

11 But when Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned. 12 For before certain men came from James, he was eating with the Gentiles; but when they came he drew back and separated himself, fearing the circumcision party.13 And the rest of the Jews acted hypocritically along with him, so that even Barnabas was led astray by their hypocrisy. 14 But when I saw that their conduct was not in step with the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas before them all, “If you, though a Jew, live like a Gentile and not like a Jew, how can you force the Gentiles to live like Jews?” (Galatians 2:11-14, ESV).

  1. UNDER READINESS OF MIND

An ambassador is ever alert to represent and promote the interest of his government even at the risk of personal benefit or gain.

Apostle Paul did not let opportunities slip by him, to regret latter. He embraced his appointed service with diligence. As Jesus, “for the joy set before him” endured ALL manner of rebuff and persecution, so Apostle Paul followed the example of Jesus (1 Corinthians 4:11-13).

  1. HUMILITY

An ambassador recognizes that he has no personal authority apart from the country he represents. Further, as he provides instruction and direction, he explains the laws of his home country.

Though Apostle Paul was a leading light in the early church, he considered himself the “least of the apostles” (1 Corinthians 15:9, Ephesians 3:8).

“If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable” (1 Corinthians 15:9).

“To me, though I am the very least of all the saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ (Ephesians 3:8, ESV).

Philippians-2-3.jpg

If we as Christians could keep these thoughts always prominent before our minds, what a dignity it would add to our character! What a transforming power it would be!

What an assistance to the new nature in its battle with the low and grovelling tendencies of the old nature now disowned by us and reckoned dead!

Dear friends, let us remember that “our citizenship is in heaven” (Philippians 3:20).

While still living in the world, we are not of it but have transferred our allegiance and citizenship to the Kingdom. And now, as appointees of our Kingdom, while still living in the world among aliens and strangers, we as representatives and ambassadors should feel both the dignity and the honor of the position and the weighty responsibilities and keep in memory the Apostle’s words,

Whatsoever ye do in word or deed do all in the name of the Lord Jesus(Colossians 3:23).

(Refer to Reprints of the Original Watch Tower page 3329 for a lovely article titled “Do All in the Name of the Lord Jesus.“)

We can learn by Apostle Paul’s wonderful example of ambassadorship and demonstrate, as he did, a ministry of reconciliation now.

Our Christ-like behavior in this world brings a certain amount of help and healing to a world that needs deliverance.

“A wicked messenger falleth into unhappiness; but a faithful ambassador bringeth healing
(Proverbs 13:17, Leeser).

This will prepare us well for the greater reconciliation of all mankind in which we will participate, no longer as ambassadors, but rather as kings and priests with Jesus.

What a hope is ours!

May we do ALL in our power to glorify our Heavenly Father Jehovah through Jesus Christ, GOD’s Son–in our bodies and our spirit which belong to our Head—Jesus CHRIST.

Reference:

Special thanks to Br. David Stein for source material from the article Paul the Ambassador“, The Herald of Christ’s Kingdom, August/September 2011.

 

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Give In … (and Know That I am GOD)

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“Be still, and know that I am GOD. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!”
Psalm 46:10  

I only wish to teach you right,
Why do you ignore the light?
You have to kick against the goads,
Clinging to your heavy load.
 

Will you not accept his way?
And praise him ever–all your days;
It truly is, son, for the best,
And then you would be really blessed.
 

You must give in and don’t fight GOD,
Yes, tread the way the Master trod;
Be submissive–do his will,
With JOY-your days He’ll fill.
 

He says “Give in, please do not fight,
To serve me you must know is right;
I am your Master, I am the LORD,
The one who bears the mighty sword.”

 
And soon will come the reign of peace,
The will to struggle–it will cease;
For everyone shall know my name,
The reason why–Christ Jesus came.
 

For soon the iron rod will rule,
So listen please, don’t be a fool;
For Jesus loves you–serve him now,
For soon to him all knees will bow.

 A poem from “Where Eagles Gather” by Sr. Rosemary Page of Blackpool, England

 

The URL for this post:
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PHILIPPIANS 2:14 – How to Stop Murmuring & Reap Blessings

1 THES. 5, 16-18 & PHIL. 2, 14 - FINAL2.jpgHow do we find true JOY in living a life that would please God?

Answer: Getting rid of murmuring and complaining.

——-

YOU CAN CHOOSE to be bitter or better.

YOU CAN CHOOSE to repay unkindness with kindness.

YOU CAN CHOOSE to  accept God’s will (Romans 8:28).

——-

How To Stop Murmuring and Complaining

Let’s begin with the words from the Book of Jude, verses 12‑16 (KJV):

“(12) These are spots in your feasts of charity, when they feast with you, feeding themselves without fear: clouds they are without water, carried about of winds; trees whose fruit withereth, without fruit, twice dead, plucked up by the roots; (13) Raging waves of the sea, foaming out their own shame; wandering stars, to whom is reserved the blackness of darkness for ever. (14) And Enoch also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of these, saying, Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints, (15) To execute judgment upon all, and to convince all that are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have ungodly committed, and of all their hard speeches which ungodly sinners have spoken against him. (16) These are murmurers, complainers, walking after their own lusts; and their mouth speaketh great swelling words, having men’s persons in admiration because of advantage.”

The Apostle Jude warned of concerns rising in his day (i.e. the gnostic heresy, which undercut the foundation of Christ), and each of us can look within ourselves to see that inclinations in this direction within ourselves are rooted out. But we need not suppose that all the things Jude spoke about must be found among brethren of our fellowship. In our own Bible Student classes of today, the same things will not be so manifest. Yet we all need to take care of course.

The Apostle Paul also warned the elders at Ephesus that after Paul’s parting, “Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them” (Acts 20:30).

The Apostle Peter similarly warned brethren of his day, that as there were false prophets among the Israelites, so some would appear teaching Christian principles and contrary to the sweet teachings of Christ. These influences would be harmful to the New Creature ways, and lead to the Truth being evil spoken of.

These words of warning from three apostles induce us to watch and pray.

BE HOLY STILL

Revelation 22:11 says, “He that is unjust, let him be unjust still: and he which is filthy, let him be filthy still: and he that is righteous, let him be righteous still: and he that is holy, let him be holy still.”

GOD allows experiences to manifest the heart attitude of every child of GOD. It is for us to follow Christian principles in each experience, and thus “be righteous still, and … holy still.”

Revelation 1:12‑15 pictures the “feet” members of the body of Christ as “fine copper.” The Apostle John saw the “Son of Man” (Jesus) clothed with a garment down to the feet, but saw the bright shining feet, suggesting the character of God’s people.

Copper represents perfect or justified human nature. This copper appeared “as if they burned in a furnace” (Revelation 1:15). It calls to mind the prophecy of Malachi 4:1, “The day … shall burn as an oven.” In a prophetic sense, we have been in that day since the return of Christ (his invisible presence, Parousia) in 1874. Thus “the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God” (1 Peter 4:17).

In the present ending period of the Gospel Age, God allows trials to purge us, as a furnace of affliction, so that the copper of our justification may shine resplendent in the light of faithful and tested loyalty to GOD.

As Jude suggests, we are not to be surprised if there be murmurers, seeking more or less to have their own will confirmed. Could this include us also?!

— If we are guilty of murmuring, then let us ask God to change us. —

Sin can be a gangrenous growth, like a little bit of leaven that makes the whole bread sour. So murmuring can become a habit, and how easy is it to change a habit?

—– It requires prayer, petitioning to the throne of Grace. —–

But with GOD all things are possible — He can mold us for change (Luke 1:37).

The more degraded one may become, the MORE WORK is required to reverse the damage.

Wishing to change won’t get us anywhere.

We MUST DO AND ACT, while continuously seeking, knocking and asking God, for His help.

WHAT IS MURMURING?

Murmuring is “to utter complaints in a low, half‑articulate voice; to feel or express dissatisfaction or discontent; to grumble; often with, at or against” (Webster’s Online Dictionary).

Murmuring indicates we are out of harmony with our lot. First it expresses dissatisfaction; then perhaps pride and covetousness, leading us to rebel against God’s providence. As roots of bitterness lodge in our hearts and minds, disappointment and dissatisfaction with our environment and our circumstances of life allowed by GOD in His love and mercy, will spring up and growth to DISASTER, in our spiritual life.

Have we been guilty of complaining in regards to the Lord’s providential leadings?

Dear friends, if that very circumstance had not been the very best the loving heart of our Heavenly Father could devise for our edification and upbuilding in Christ Jesus, He would not have permitted that circumstance to occur. Shall not the God of all the earth do right? Of course He will.

“Content whatever lot I see, since ’tis God’s hand that leadeth me.”

We are ALL guilty to some degree to having failed to measure up to the Lord’s standard in this respect.

In Philippians 2:14, Paul relates murmuring even with activity in the Lord’s service.

DO all things without murmurings and disputings“.

The word “do” here is one of the smallest words, but one of the most forceful! It is not that we are to do some things that are hard and murmur about the rest; it is not to be satisfied with some things and be dissatisfied with others.

DOING “all things without murmuring is the test of our own hearts and minds!

Complaining is being ungrateful! If we complain we are wordly!

The murmuring ‘domino effect’ will continue until a break is made, and a change is effected. Once this weakness of character becomes a strength of character, it means the test has been overcome. (2 Corinthians 12:9).

1 Corinthians 10, 10.jpg
ANALOGY

Suppose we see a man carrying a corpse along the street, making a public display of it, we’d be mortified! Perhaps we’d ask him the reason and probably someone would phone the Police! Suppose this man replies that he must, day after day, carry this corpse with him, with all its loathsomeness. Would we not think him insane? But do some of us do this metaphorically?

In Colossians 3:3 the Apostle Paul says, YOU HAVE DIED, and your life has been hidden with Christ in God.”

Yet we hear the corpse complaining and murmuring every day, dissatisfied. What a peculiar corpse it would be from a natural standpoint, if after it was ready for burial we continued to preserve it, and it had the ability to murmur and complain against its condition!

Dear friends, if we bury the dead (and that is what we are to do with our fleshly interests, desires, wants, and preferences), then we must put it out of sight, put it in the tomb, bury it, and every time the “old man” complains, throw another shovel of dirt on him.

Live ABOVE the circumstances of your life.
“Set your affection on things above” (Colossians 3:2).

Then any temptation to murmur about the things below will be minimized by far!

EXAMPLES OF MURMURING IN THE BIBLE

We have many illustrations about murmuring in both the Old and New Testaments.

EXAMPLE 1.

The Old Testament book of Numbers could easily be renamed The Grumbler Chronicles. The Children of Israel grumbled against Moses, Aaron, and God.

In Numbers 12:1 we read, “And Miriam and Aaron spoke against Moses because of the Ethiopian woman whom he married.”

Miriam and Aaron were displeased that Moses had married at all, and that he was foolish enough to marry without consulting the wishes of the family, and in addition, that he had been foolish enough to marry an Ethiopian woman. Yet the real reason for their murmuring was due to pride and selfish ambitions of their own hearts.

In verse 2 we read them murmuring, Hath the Lord indeed spoken only by Moses? hath he not spoken also by us? And the Lord heard it.” We can rest assured that the Lord will hear and regard every attitude of dissatisfaction with his plans and purposes that may manifest itself in our hearts and lives; it is to be indeed charged up against us!

Notice the results of murmuringMiriam became leprous. Leprosy is a type of sin. Miriam perhaps represents a certain class, leaders in this rebellion against the Lord, and murmuring against his plans and purposes. Miriam’s seven days of punishment is a picture of the eternal punishment (i.e. second death, Revelation 20:6-15) for those who will lead in rebellion against the Lord and his arrangements (Jude 1:13). Miriam represents such who fail to recognize Christ as the leader of spiritual Israel and who fail to honor those whom he uses as his mouthpieces and servants. R4037:5 In this type, Aaron reflects those who are busy-bodying in other men’s matters. R3061:4 A weak character; as shown on this occasion and when he made the golden calf. R5308:3

God probably favored this marriage so the Jews would not choose Moses’ children as his successors; they were supposed to look to the Lord as their leader. R3061:4 Of an alien race, she replaced Miriam as first lady, arousing Miriam’s jealousy on religious grounds. R5308:1 Zipporah, typifying the Bride of Christ. R1651:6 Perhaps Moses’ first wife had died, and Zipporah was his second wife. R5308:1

[NOTE: R – denotes Reprints from the Watch Tower which can be read at http://www.htdbv8.com or Google: “Harvest Truth Data Base” for the latest version.]

EXAMPLE 2.

Matthew 20:1‑16 ‑ In his parable of the vineyard workers, Jesus noted of disciples how those who worked from the first hour, having “borne the burden and heat of the day,” murmured because they received the same wages as those who worked only the last hour. Jesus declared that such labourers in the Lord’s vineyard who murmur over what seems to them are life’s inequities, actually are murmuring “against the goodman of the house.” (Matthew 20:11).

The goodness of the Lord is attested to in so many ways—mansions await!so let us not allow any ungrateful thought to creep into the mind!

EXAMPLE 3

In the latter portion of Jesus’ ministry he began to be more direct. He declared that he was to be the true bread which came down from heaven, of which if any man would eat he would live forever; that God would raise him up at the last day. His hearers began to murmur inquiring, “Is not this the son of Joseph, the Nazarene, whom we know? Have we not been acquainted with him since the days of his youth? And he says he came down from heaven.” 

Oh, they murmured!

As Jesus continued to say that unless they ate his flesh and drank his blood they had no part or lot in the matter; others turned back saying, “This is a hard saying, who can bear it? This is difficult, hard to comprehend. Who can bear it? Look at the reproaches it will bring; look at the disturbances it will make in our life”. They do not like the reproach of the cross of Christ nor to bear the shame or to be made of no reputation. Recall the exhortation of Apostle Paul, “Let us go forth to him without the camp, bearing his reproach.” (Hebrews 13:13)

They said Jesus had a devil and was mad. His course was contrary to the world, and the world began to berate the Apostles, and they declared, “Lord we have left all and followed thee, what do we get in return? Others are turning away, what remains for us?” (Mat. 19:27) Jesus said, “Doth it also offend you?”(John 6: 61) Here, those who had followed Jesus closely began to be offended at him, and murmured.

The same spirit of pride and rebellion, discontent, eating at their very hearts, began to manifest itself under the severity of the tests that were coming on them. As it is written, “There are some of you who believe not.” (John 6:64) At one point Jesus turned longingly and lovingly to them, and said, “Will ye also go away?” Apostle Peter replied, “Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life” (John 6:68).

Indeed, to whom would he go? To whom will you go, if you go out of the Truth? If you are dissatisfied, discontented, with God’s plan and providential leadings, if you turn aside, unto whom will you go? And what is the remedy for murmuring?

With God’s help through prayer and petition, here are some helpful tools in regards to :

HOW DO WE STOP MURMURING?

Here are 6 suggestions:-

1. REALIZE THAT COMPLAINING IS A DANGEROUS SIN.

We know the enemy of our souls doesn’t want us to fulfill God’s intended purpose for our lives. If he can’t derail me, or you, because of lust or immorality in our private lives, then the devil will seek a different bait for his trap. For many of us, that snare is the temptation to gripe, grumble, and complain against God (1 Corinthians 9:24-10:13).

Murmuring is a sin. Here are 10 reasons why :

1.It is questioning God’s capacity, in the face of all God’s assurances to us in the Bible to display that He does care about us (Romans 8 :28, 1 Corinthians 15:22).

2. It is a rebellion against’s God’s will, (Job 23:2) and thus, dis-satisfaction with what God sees as the perfect experiences for us and in His perfect time (Ecclesiastes 3:1). Joshua and Caleb urged the murmuring Israelites not to “rebel against the Lord” (Numbers 14: 9). But rather than listen to reason, the Israelites were ready to elect new leaders who would oversee their rebellious plans.

3. It is another form of mocking God’s plan of salvation, where despite acknowledging God, one criticizes His ways by wanting things to be done in our ways, even though our ways are much lower ways. (Isaiah 55:8).

4. It ignores God’s potential. The report of the ten spies (see Numbers 13) reflected a godless perspective. God had opened the sea to save the Israelites, the heavens to feed them, and the rocks to provide water for them. He had defeated mighty armies throughout their wilderness trek. He had freed them from perhaps the most powerful nation on the planet (the Egyptians). Certainly He could deal with any problems the new land might present.

5. Murmuring leads to self-pity. “Would that we had died in the land of Egypt! Or would that we had died in this wilderness!” (Numbers 14: 2).

Murmurers often feel sorry for themselves and focus on how they have been mistreated, misused, and let down.

6. Murmuring is born in the context of bad report. Sins of the tongue that spread negative reports (beguilement, gossip, slander, false witness) create an environment in which murmuring can thrive.

Are we such complainers?

7. Murmuring also drains us from the energy we need to RUN the race of the High Calling set before us and energy to carry our cross. The cross can only “be light” as Jesus promised us in Matthew 11:30 if we do not carry the extra unnecessary and dangerous baggage of sin: “Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us…” (Hebrews 12:1, ESV)

8. Murmuring distorts good judgment. The murmurer misinterprets and misrepresents reality. For instance, after God gloriously delivered them from Egypt, the Israelites began to speak of their former life in Egypt as better, saying, “Yahweh delivered us out of Egypt only to kill us and our children in the desert. This Yahweh is no redeemer; he is more cruel than Pharaoh himself.” Here we see the utter inability to interpret reality correctly. And eventually these murmurers tried to stone Moses and return to Egyptian bondage, like a dog returning to its own vomit.

When people murmur, their hearts become darkened and they become incapable of interpreting reality correctly. Thus, good is evil, and evil is good: autonomy is good, and the Lordship of Christ is bad; worldly friends are good, parents and other authorities are bad. The sons of Eliab told Moses, “Isn’t it enough that you have brought us up out of a land flowing with milk and honey to kill us in the desert? And now you also want to lord it over us?” (Numbers 16:13).

9. A murmuring spirit is quick to jump to the wrong conclusion. Just like the Israelites wanted to return back to Egypt.

10. Murmuring thrives in an atmosphere of fear. Twice Joshua and Caleb exhorted the people not to be afraid (Numbers 14:9). But the Israelites’ fear of the unknown fanned the sparks of grumbling in their midst. They were in a situation beyond their control, and they felt threatened and insecure. Their faith disappeared as their fear increased.

2. TRUST THAT GOD KNOWS WHAT HE IS DOING –

GOD KNOWS WHAT HE IS DOING! So let us let God be in charge of what He sees must be our experiences if we have given up our wills to do His.

Look at Joseph – He was thrown into a pit by his brothers, sold by them into slavery, unjustly accused of fooling around with Potiphar’s wife, thrown into prison forgotten by a friend he had helped – and yet Scripture does not record even a single complaint!

Joseph could have become bitter against his brothers…
Joseph could have smashed his fist against the prison walls and complained that his circumstances were unjust...

But did he do that?

No. He surrendered to God’s power. He had TRUST IN GOD.

Let us not forget, through Joseph, to look unto Jesus, who suffered being tempted, yet without sin; who was slandered, and persecuted, and …“He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth. (Isaiah 53:7)

What was the secret of Joseph’s complaint-free life?

The answer is in Genesis 45:5-8 where we find Joseph, now the Governor of Egypt, addressing his starving brothers,

(5) Now therefore be not grieved, nor angry with yourselves, that ye sold me hither: for God did send me before you to preserve life. (6) For these two years hath the famine been in the land: and yet there are five years, in the which there shall neither be earing nor harvest. (7) And God sent me before you to preserve you a posterity in the earth, and to save your lives by a great deliverance. (8) So now it was not you that sent me hither, but God: and he hath made me a father to Pharaoh, and lord of all his house, and a ruler throughout all the land of Egypt.

Three times in four verses Joseph says – “God sent me here”. Talk about perspective that comes as a result of an uncommon faith in an Omnipotent God. Joseph grasped the truth that God is in control, and that He knows what He is doing.

3. “GIVE THANKS IN ALL THINGS – 1 Thessalonians 5:18.

4. FOCUS ON OUR BLESSINGS we receive from the Lord, such as:

  • That our sins can be forgiven thanks to Jesus’s precious blood paid as the Ransom price to free all mankind from the prison house of death.
  • The assurance that God and Jesus are with us (Matthew 9:2; Hebrews 13:5).

HEB 13, 5&6.jpg

  • That situations of stress (from which such murmuring would emerge) are actually THE TESTS we are wanting to pass to develop CHEERFUL patient endurance in ALL things. (Colossians 1:11, Romans 5:4 & 12:12). The sooner we do this, the greater shall be our joy, in turn, in doing the Father’s will (John 4:34, John 15:11, 1 Thessalonians 2:19, John 6:38).

Don’t wish to trade your difficult experiences for anything as this is where all the effects happen — the positive changes in character, in the face of adversity, by God’s help, developing the New Creature in Christ to be fully surrendered to God’s will and delighting in fulfilling God’s will to bring the Heavenly Father greatest joy through cheerful, willing self-denial and self-sacrifice.

Here is a helpful prayer starter:

“Almighty Heavenly Father, could Your will be done in (E.g.) my life concerning … in this experience… in my relationship with …

“Heavenly Father, I do not know what to say … what to do …. Could You please show me. I trust in You. Please put the words in my mouth… Please direct my steps… Please put a seal on my tongue … Please let me not fail you … Please let me be like your Son in character … 

Have the DISCIPLINE to NOT COMPLAIN!
Pray for this DISCIPLINE of CHARACTER.

5. BE OF GOOD CHEER, BE CHEERFUL

“These things I have spoken unto you, that in me you might have peace. In the world you shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33, KJV)

Cheerfulness comes from COURAGE which comes from implicit TRUST in God. TRUST comes from firm FAITH in God – which develops from a life where one ‘walks and talks’ with God. (Proverbs 3:5, Psalm 37:4-6, Romans 8:28, Proverbs 3:6, Joshua 1:9)

Being of good cheer is contagious and in Proverbs 17:22, we are told it is “good medicine”.

6. BE GRATEFUL & CONTENT – for God gives us what we NEED not necessarily what the flesh would at times want, as He knows best what would develop in us greater love towards doing His will, and thus, what would help us BE RIGHTEOUS – without which no one can please God. (Hebrews 12:14)

Hebrews 13:5-6 (KJV) – “Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee. So that we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me.

Other tips for how to be grateful:

  • Begin your prayers with all the “thank you’s” to God.
  • Each morning/day think about (or write out) all the things you are grateful for.
  • Lower your expectations of others, and rather, have implicit TRUST in the Heavenly Father’s precision and perfection of ALL details in your life!
  • Accept the circumstances.
  • Don’t take things personally.
  • Deal with the circumstances by relying upon God’s help through Christ.
  • Do your best.

CONCLUSION

Let us, then, “fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith” (Hebrews 12:2) and follow him all the way to the Heavenly City with singing. Let us give thanks in everything, knowing our Redeemer is with us to keep us from falling. He to whom all authority in heaven and on earth has been given is telling us, “Go into the world of trouble, and I will be with you always, even unto the end of the ages.”

Take encouragement from Paul’s message in Romans 8:35-39:

“(35) Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? (36) As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. (37) Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. (38) For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, (39) Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. We are saved, we are being saved, and we will be saved.”

May God help us not to murmur, but to pray and praise him in the midst of our problems, knowing there is divine design in every trouble he has ordained for us. May we rejoice, knowing that trouble is for our good, to humble us and test us, and may we believe in God’s promises and render him complete obedience, that it may be good for us in the end. Amen.

He Leadeth Me

He leadeth me, O blessed thought!
O words with heav’nly comfort fraught!
Whate’er I do, where’er I be,
Still ’tis God’s hand that leadeth me.

CHORUS

He leadeth me! he leadeth me!
By his own hand he leadeth me.
His faithful foll’wer I would be,
For by his hand he leadeth me.

Sometimes ‘mid scenes of deepest gloom,
Sometimes where Eden’s bowers bloom,
By waters still, o’er troubled sea‑
Still ’tis his hand that leadeth me.

Lord, I would clasp thy hand in mine,
Nor ever murmur or repine‑
Content whatever lot I see,
Since ’tis my God that leadeth me.

And when my task on earth is done,
When by thy grace the vict’ry’s won,
E’en death’s cold wave I will not flee,
Since God thro’ Jordan leadeth me.

URL: https://biblestudentsdaily.com/2016/10/10/philippians-214-how-to-stop-murmuring-reap-blessings/

How is Your Zeal?

eph-3-17-19

Based upon Reprint 1159 (from Zion’s Watch Tower):

AN ALLEGORY

I sat down in my arm-chair, weary with my work; my toil had been severe and protracted. The church wore an aspect of thrift and prosperity; and joy and hope and courage were the prevailing sentiments on every hand. As for myself, I was joyous in my work; my brethren were united; my sermons and exhortations were evidently telling on my hearers; my church was crowded with listeners; the whole community was more or less moved with the prevailing excitement; and so the work went on. I had been led into exhausting labors for its promotion.

Tired with my work, I soon lost myself in a sort of half forgetful state, though I seemed fully aware of my place and surroundings. Seemingly a stranger entered the room, without any preliminary tap, or “Come in.” I saw in his face benignity, intelligence and weight of character; but though he was passably well attired, he carried suspended about his person measures and chemical agents and implements, which gave him a very strange appearance.

The stranger came toward me, and extending his hand said, “How is your zeal?”

I supposed, when he began his question, that the query was to be for my health; but was pleased to hear his final word; for I was quite well pleased with my zeal, and doubted not the stranger would smile when he should know its proportions. Instinctively I conceived of it as a physical quantity, and putting my hand into my bosom, brought it forth and presented it to him for inspection.

He took it, and placing it in his scale, weighed it carefully. I heard him say, “One hundred pounds!”

I could scarce suppress an audible note of satisfaction; but I caught his earnest look as he noted down the weight; and I saw at once that he had drawn no final conclusion, but was intent on pushing his investigation.

He broke the mass to atoms, put it in his crucible, and put the crucible into the fire. When the mass was thoroughly fused, he took it out, and set it down to cool. It congealed in cooling, and when turned out on the hearth, exhibited a series of layers or strata; which all at the touch of the hammer fell apart, and were severally tested and weighed; the stranger making minute notes, as the process went on.

When he had finished, he presented the notes to me, and gave me a look of mingled sorrow and compassion, as, without a word, except, “May God save you!” he left the room.

I opened the note and read as follows:

“Analysis of the zeal of Junius, a candidate for a crown of glory: weight, in mass, 100 lbs., of which, on analysis, there proves to be, viz.:–

Bigotry                                                 –   10 parts
Personal ambition                           –   23     ”
Pride of talent                                   –   14     ”
Love of praise                                   –    19    ”
Pride of denomination                  –    15     ”
Love of authority                            –    12     ”
Love of God                                      –      4     ”
Love of man                                     –      3     ”

I had become troubled at the peculiar manner of the stranger, and especially, at his parting look and words; but when I looked at the figures my heart sank as lead within me. I made a mental effort to dispute the correctness of the record, but was suddenly startled into a more honest mood by an audible sigh, almost a groan, from the stranger, who had paused in the hall, and by a sudden darkness falling upon me, by which the record became at once obscured and nearly illegible. I suddenly cried out, “Lord, save me!”

I knelt down at my chair, with the paper in my hand, and my eyes fixed upon it. At once it became a mirror, and I saw my heart reflected in it:–The record is true!–I saw it; I felt it; I confessed it; I deplored it; and I besought God, with many tears, to save me from myself: and, at length, with a loud and irrepressible cry of anguish, I awoke.–Selected.

* * *

Since all of God’s consecrated saints are his ambassadors, ministers of his truth, and members of the royal priesthood, this allegory may be of profit to all. Love of God and love of our fellow-men are the only elements of real zeal in the above analysis. All the other parts are detestable dross in God’s sight and will be in ours, as we take God’s standpoint of criticism. Let each servant who desires to stand approved of God, examine his own heart, analyze his own zeal, his own motives.

Ephesians 3:14-21 (KJV):-

14 For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
15 Of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named,
16 That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man;
17 That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love,
18 May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height;
19 And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God.
20 Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us,
21 Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen.

 URL: https://biblestudentsdaily.com/2016/10/06/how-is-your-zeal/

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