1 THESSALONIANS 5:16-18 – Prayer – The “Oxygen” for the New Creature in Christ.

 

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“Let my prayer be set forth before thee as incense.” Psalm 141:2

This is the same thought elsewhere expressed in the Bible—that the prayers of God’s people rise up before him as a sweet perfume (Revelation 5:8).

The incense of old, which typified the prayers of the saints (Revelation 8:3), was composed of a rare mixture of spices, giving forth a peculiarly sweet odor and nobody was allowed to make that incense except the priests who were to offer it (Exodus 30:34-38; 37:29).

Aaron, brother of Moses and the first High Priest of Israel

Thus again the Lord shows us that the privilege of prayer, of approaching him in an acceptable manner, and praying directly to the Heavenly Father through Christ, is confined to the anti-typical priests, called by Apostle Peter the “royal priesthood” (1 Peter 2:9).

“Only those of the Lord’s people who have consecrated their lives to him, even unto death, are thus represented as members of the sacrificing priesthood, to whom the Apostle wrote, saying, ‘I beseech you, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, and your reasonable service’ (Romans 12:1). The Lord has pledged to this particular class that he will hear them… he will answer them—not necessarily according to their natural preferences, but he will heed the spirit of their cry and give to them, according to his wisdom, the experiences and blessings most helpful” (R5692).

Luke 18:1 reads “And he spake a parable unto them to this end, that men ought always to pray, and not to faint.”

Prayer is the attempt to gain access to the presence of God, and to hold communion with him, and thus, prayer prepares the way for divine blessing and superlative joys (Volume 6, Studies in the Scriptures, p. 679).

“In thy presence is fullness of joy; at thy right hand are pleasures forevermore,” declares the prophet (Psalm 16:11).

We must not grow disheartened and discouraged because of the delay in the answer to our prayers.

“Consider Jesus lest ye be weary and faint in your minds,” “for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not” (Hebrew 12:3; Galatians 6:9).

The Motive Behind our Prayers

The Apostle James speaks of some who offer improper petitions. He says, “Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts (James 4:3).

The word lusts here signifies desires.

“We are not to ask to gratify fleshly desires. An example of this, could be praying to the Heavenly Father to send us a million dollars, telling Him that we knew what to do with the money, and how to use it in His work. The Lord probably would not give it—for we would probably be asking amiss. But it might be that we would think that we were asking wisely.

“Whenever we ask anything from the Lord, we should scrutinize our motives to see if there is any personality connected with the matter. In our own case we should ask ourselves: Do we want that million dollars in order that we may shine in the use of it? If so, such a prayer would be a grossly improper prayer. We might offer such a prayer at the beginning of our Christian experience, and the Father would not chide us for it. We would excuse a child for doing what we would not excuse in one of adult years.

“In respect to this matter of prayer our Lord gives us a cue. It is this:

“If ye abide in Me and My Words abide in you, ye may ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you” (John 15:7).

“For God’s Word to abide in us implies that we have a knowledge of God’s Word. This necessitates the studying of the Word of God, that we may know what to pray for… We should consider what the Word of God teaches on this subject, and if any one has become well acquainted with the Word of God, he should know whether or not he has met the conditions which will sanctify his prayer. It is only after he has come to this position that he may continue to make his request, nothing doubting. But very likely he will then find that he has not a very large list of petitions that he can present” (R5311).

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The New Creature’s Greatest Need

In order to pray properly, the child of God should know what he may pray for. The things that the heavenly Father is pleased to give to his children are heavenly things.

1. THE HOLY SPIRIT.jpg

“The new creature is on trial for the new nature—for glory, honor, immortality. And he can receive these only as he is worthy. The terms on which he is received into spiritual relationship with the Father are that he shall mortify, deaden, the earthly impulses and seek to have the spiritual impulses quickened (R5311).

With persistence in our petitions to God we will know what is proper to pray for by studying the words of Jesus and the apostles and the prophets of old. The spirit-begotten ones may thus understand what are the rights and privileges of sons of God. To these the Heavenly Father is more willing to give the holy Spirit than earthly parents are willing to give good gifts to their children (Matthew 7:11).

“The holy Spirit is the one thing which the new creature needs” (R.5310).

Thus, the most important thing that the New Creature in Christ is to pray for, is for the holy Spiritthe spirit of holiness, the Spirit of God, the Spirit of Christ, the Spirit of the Truth, the spirit of a sound mind, the spirit of love. The Master’s words are, “If ye, then, being evil, know how to give good (earthly) gifts unto your children, how much more shall your heavenly Father give the holy Spirit to them that ask him?” (Luke 11:13).

God is particularly willing to give us the holy Spirit, and especially pleased that we ask for it.

This does not mean that earthly interests will be ignored, since our Heavenly Father knows perfectly what things of an earthly character we have need of, just as He knows what we have need of for our spiritual welfare (R5311).

The child of God should feel that it is a privilege to have the Lord’s approval of every thought, every act, and every word (R5310).

“What we do is God’s work, not ours… Today the Lord may be leading us by the still waters and in green pastures… Tomorrow the pathway may be thorny and through rough places. Thus day by day we grow in knowledge and grow in love, and we should be ready for whatever experiences may come to us: ‘Content whatever lot I see, Since ‘tis God’s hand that leadeth me’ ” (R5312).

The prayer of one who asks only in harmony with the Lord’s Word is certain to be answered.

“It is best not to use any set form of words in prayer, but merely to think in advance what you desire of the Spirit—more faith, more patience, more meekness, more love.

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Praying For Wisdom

In James 1:5, we are encouraged to pray for wisdom. “If any of you lack wisdom let him ask of God, that giveth to all liberally and upbraideth not.” 

By this wisdom we may be enabled to speak and act in a way that will be helpful to others.

“In order to have the holy Spirit in large measure, we must keep near to the Lord… The illumination of the Spirit will… become brighter in proportion to our realization of our own imperfections and to the degree of our consecration to the Lord. This we manifest by the zeal with which we study his will as expressed in his Word, and with which we practice that will in the affairs of life. These are the means by which we may supply the oil to keep our light burning brightly. But while we are endeavoring to do this, we must see to it that we do not come into contact with anything which will tend to extinguish the flame of sacred love in our hearts.

“The world, the flesh and the devil are all in opposition to the light of the holy Spirit. To whatever extent they are brought into contact with the light, to that extent they smother itt. We should ever be on our guard lest we allow anything to dim or to extinguish our love for the Lord, for the truth or for holiness and Christ- likeness” (R5129, R5130).

What else should be prayed for and what are the effects of this?

Here are suggestions of what we are to pray for.

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Our affections must be upon the spiritual food—upon the bread which came down from heaven and upon all the precious promises of God of which Christ is the center and substance. These we must seek, these we must appropriate; and for these, therefore, the substance of our prayers will be. Thus our watching, praying and daily seeking will be in full accord. Moreover, thanksgiving must largely take the place of requests, from the time that we learn of the lengths and breadths and heights and depths of the divine provision, for both the New Creation and for our dear ones according to the flesh, and for all the families of the earth. What could we ask for more or better than God has already promised?

Daily breadBut is not this something for the flesh?  This is a necessity, and the Lord has warranted us in praying for our necessities.

“We are to use our judgment the best we may; yet we are not to trust to our own efforts alone, but to the Lord’s supervising care. If, therefore, the temporal supply be scant, we are to learn the lesson of frugality and care of what we have.

“We should learn very early in life not to be wasteful. When Jesus fed the multitude with the loaves and fishes, and then instructed his disciples to take up the remainder of these in their baskets, he illustrated his economy.

“We are to eat with thankfulness what we have, if it is merely bread and water, or potatoes and salt. There is nothing to indicate that we are to ask for pie or cake or ice-cream, but for the necessities. If in God’s providence He furnishes the necessities and withholds the luxuries, then we are to be satisfied, to be thankful (R5311).

Let us also ask ourselves daily: Did we waste anything today? Did we eat too much today—twice as much as we had need for? “If so, the Lord will probably teach you some lesson, and it will be for your good as a New Creature. But if you have used wisdom and economy, He will provide the things needful. As the Prophet says, “Bread shall be given him; his waters shall be sure” (R5311).

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Deliverance from the Evil One—which should lead us to see that there is an Evil One, and that we are not sufficient of ourselves to resist his attacks successfully. We need the Lord’s help at all times, and we need to pray continually and not to faint (R5311).

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Forgiveness of our trespasses daily—which are the result of our fleshly imperfections. “Our trespasses of the flesh today should be a great deal less than similar trespasses with us ten years ago or five years or even one year ago” (R5311).

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God’s Kingdom to come—By praying without doubting it, we are strengthening in our faith more and more.

“Let our affections be set on things above, and not on things beneath—upon the robe of Christ’s righteousness and our future glorious apparel, when we shall be like our Lord and see him as he is, rather than on earthly apparel” (R5311).

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Express thanks for Divine care and to request a continuance of the same.

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Prayer and praise should always go up to heaven arm in arm, like twin angels walking up Jacob’s ladder, or like kindred aspirations soaring up to the Most High” (Spurgeon).

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“The prayers recorded in the Bible are generally not lengthy. God accepts as our prayers all the good thoughts and sentiments of our minds, as well as those expressed by our tongues” (R5311).

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Pray for each otherIn relation to this point, “the Editor” in the Reprints (R2576) of the Original Watchtower and Herald of Christ’s Presence, writes an encouraging comment in relation to a letter received from a Brother in Christ (i.e. Br. W. E. Vanamburgh from South Dakota, USA):

“We cannot express in words our deep appreciation of the love of the brethren so often expressed in their letters… We assure these dear brethren and all that their love is most heartily reciprocated. We love the brethren and take pleasure in laying down our life in their service. We are glad to know that you remember us and the Lord’s ‘harvest work,’ which he as been pleased to center here in Allegheny, in your prayers. If we may judge from the letters received, thousands of prayers ascend daily on our behalf. We cannot tell you how deeply we appreciate this: it keeps us humble as we remember our needs, and it strengthens us as we remember the Lord’s sufficiency and his willingness to pour out his blessings in answer to your prayers and ours.

These prayers and the divine power to which they are attached are to our hearts a bulwark against the many Satan-blinded foes who beset you and us continually because of our loyalty to the Lord and his Word.”

“The Scriptures not only encourage public and audible prayers amongst the Lord’s people, but point out, also, that he who prays should remember his audience in connection with his ministry, and perform the service so that he who hears may be able to say ‘Amen,’ whether audibly or in his heart” (1 Corinthians 14:13-17) (Volume 6, Studies in the Scriptures, page 688).

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Pray for the peace of Jerusalem“They shall prosper that love thee” (Psalm 122:6).

These words are as true of the Heavenly Jerusalem (government of peace) and her children of peace, as they are of the earthly Jerusalem—which now is, and is in bondage with her children (Galatians 4:25).

“But the Jerusalem above is free, and she is our mother” (Galatians 4:26).

“Those who are praying the Lord’s blessing upon his cause are seeking to serve it and are proportionately blessed. Those who are indifferent to the welfare of Zion and the Lord’s cause now, are standing in a slippery place and are in great danger of falling” (R2071).

“The true worshipers shall worship the Father in Spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him. God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship in spirit and in truth” (John 4:23-24).

Worship “in spirit and in truth” does not apply simply to prayer, praise, supplication and thanks giving. It goes deeper than all these. It takes hold upon the affections, upon the heart, and hence signifies not an act of worship but rather a life of worshipa life in which, through the begetting of the spirit and the knowledge of the divine plan, the individual becomes so at-one with God and all the features of the plan of God that it is, in the words of our Lord, his meat and his drink to do the Father’s will. This is worship in spirit and in truth. It will find its expression… also in all the acts and words of life (R2071).

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Pray for God’s will to be done. 

“We are not to tell God what to do for we have no means of knowing what is His will in matters in general.

“Our Lord Jesus did not pray in a mandatory fashion. With his petitions, he said, “Not My will, but Thine, be done”—I have no will of my own; for I have given up my will and I desire to have Thy will done. This is a prayer of full submission. It did not mean that our Lord did not pray in faith, nor that he would not get what he desired. It meant that he desired to learn the Father’s will; and he learned that the Father willed that he should drink the cup of suffering to the very dregs” (R5203).

Results of Prayer

It is the privilege of the Lord’s people to ask in order that they may have fullness of joy and the “peace of God, which passeth all understanding,” rejoicing greatly in hope of the glorious things which the Father has in store for us and which the holy Spirit reveals through the Word.

“The joyful Christian is the thankful Christian. The thankful Christian is the one who is making the best use of his life. By reason of having exercised thankfulness of heart, he will be the better prepared for the kingdom” (R5203).

It is truly an enormous privilege to have access to the presence of God, entering by faith into the Most Holy.

“Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:16).

Acknowledgment

Br. Charles T. Russell—The content of this post is derived from a combination of various Reprints of the Original Watchtower and Herald of Christ’s Presence.

Suggested Further Reading

The Privilege and Power of Prayer by Irwin Doran. The Herald of Christ’s Kingdom.
http://www.heraldmag.org/literature/pray_7.htm

Effectual Prayer by Francis Earl. The Herald of Christ’s Kingdom.
Prayer – Effectual Prayer

Thanksgiving in our Hearts. Adapted, David Steindl-Rast. Beauties of the Truthhttp://www.beautiesofthetruth.org/Archive/Library/Doctrine/Mags/Bot/90s/2003nov.pdf

Let This Cup Pass From Me by Jerry Leslie. Beauties of the Truth.
http://www.beautiesofthetruth.org/Archive/Library/Doctrine/Mags/Bot/90s/BOTAUG99.PDF

Hezekiah’s Song of Trust by Carl Hagensick, and Pray Without Ceasing by Peter the Damascene. The Beauties of the Truth. http://www.beautiesofthetruth.org/Archive/Library/Doctrine/Mags/Bot/90s/BOTNOV04.pdf

What Is the Purpose and Intent of Prayer; What are its Privileges and Its Limits? BIBLE Students DAILY.
https://biblestudentsdaily.com/2016/03/15/what-is-the-purpose-and-intent-of-prayer-what-are-its-privileges-and-its-limits/

The Joy of the Lord Is Your Strength. BIBLE Students DAILY. https://biblestudentsdaily.com/2016/12/20/nehemiah-810-the-joy-of-the-lord-is-your-strength/

 

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The Agony In Gethsemane

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As we consider the solemn scenes of this lesson, let it be with reverence and deep gratitude, remembering it was our load the Master bore, that it was the chastisement of our peace that was upon him, and that with his stripes we are healed.

The narrative, so familiar to every Christian, is one full of precious lessons, especially to those who, by his grace, are endeavoring to follow in the Lord’s footsteps.

We observe:

(1) that when the Master realized that his hour of betrayal and fierce temptation was close at hand, having first comforted, counselled, and prayed for and with his disciples, his next strong impulse was to seek a solitary place for prayer and communion with God, that he might find grace to help in time of need.

(2) We note also his love for his disciples, and his desire for their love and sympathy in return. “Having loved his own, he loved them to the end.” And because he loved them, and knew that they loved him, he permitted them to accompany him to the place of prayer, that they might watch and pray with him.

Leaving all but Peter and James and John at the entrance of the garden, as a sort of outer guard against the sudden intrusion of his betrayer upon his last hour of prayer, he advanced with the three—the three in whose ardent natures he seemed to find the most active and consoling sympathy—and, with an earnest appeal to them to watch and pray, he left them and went about a stone’s throw beyond.

Three times did he rise from prayer and return to them in anguish of soul to feel the touch of human sympathy, saying, “My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death.” It was a sorrow, an agony, which, of itself, would have worn him out shortly—an intense mental and nervous strain which caused him to sweat great drops of blood.

It was no sign of weakness in the Master that he thus craved human sympathy. His was no coarse, stoical nature, insensible to pain and shame and loss; nor was it a proud, self-centered nature which stood aloof from human fellowship, although those with whom he associated were so far beneath his glorious perfection. Gracefully he condescended to men of low estate, and esteemed them brethren beloved, of whom he was not ashamed.  His was a refined nature, keenly appreciative of all that is lovely and pure and good, and correspondingly sensitive to pain from everything to the contrary of these.

Human degradation and human woe must continually have borne heavily upon him during all his earthly life. 

But in this awful hour all the griefs and burdens of the whole world were rolled upon his shoulders, and he was to suffer as though he himself were the sinner—to suffer death, extinction of being, trusting alone in the Father’s grace for a resurrection. 

Into this one hour were crowded, not only the mental realization of death and the physical agony and shame, the cruelty and torture of a horrible death, but also the sense of desolation to be experienced when even his beloved disciples, overcome by fear and dismay, should forsake him; and the sorrowful reflections upon the irretrievable loss of Judas, and upon the course of the Jewish nation—”his own” people, who despised him and were about to call down upon their own heads the vengeance of his blood, saying, “His blood be upon us and on our children” (Matthew 27:25). He foresaw the terrible calamities that in consequence must soon overwhelm them. Then the degradation of a whole guilty world, which must continue to groan and travail in pain until by his sacrifice he should gain deliverance for them from sin and death, caused him to feel the burden of responsibility to an extent which we can only approximate, but cannot fully comprehend.

And in addition to all this was his knowledge of the fact that every jot and tittle of the law with reference to the sacrifice must be perfectly fulfilled according to the pattern in the typical sacrifice of the day of atonement.

If he should fail in any part of the work, all would be lost, both for himself and for men.

And yet, though a perfect man, he realized that the flesh, however perfect, was unequal to the task.

How much depended upon our Lord’s fortitude in that awful hour, alone and defenceless in the darkness of overwhelming night, awaiting the certain arrival of his betrayer and the will of his persecutors maddened with hate and full of the energy of Satan!

Oh, how the destinies of the world and of himself seemed to tremble in the balances!

Even the perfect human nature was not equal to such an emergency without divine aid, therefore it was that he offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears unto him who was able to save him from death, by a resurrection.

The necessary comfort was provided through the Prophet Isaiah (42:1,6), by whom Jehovah said,

“Behold my servant whom I uphold, mine elect, in whom my soul delighteth: …I, the Lord, have called thee in righteousness, and will hold thine hand, and will keep thee [from falling or failure], and give thee for a covenant of the people, for a light of the Gentiles… He shall not fail nor be discouraged.

When the fearful ordeal in Gethsemane strained the powers of endurance almost to their utmost tension his prayer was only, “If it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless, not my will, but thine be done.” Then, though the cup might not pass from him, an angel came and ministered to him.  Just how, we know not, but probably by refreshing his mind with the precious promises and prophetic pictures of the coming glory, which none of his disciples had sufficiently comprehended to thus comfort him in this hour when the gloom of thick darkness settled down upon his soul, crowding out hope and bringing a sorrow exceeding great, “even unto death.”  Ah, it was Jehovah’s hand upholding him, blessed by his holy name! according to his promise, that he might not fail nor be discouraged.

 The result of that blessed ministry was a reinforced courage which commands the deepest admiration.  It was not a courage born of stoical indifference to pain and shame and loss, but a courage born of that faith which is anchored fast within the vail of the divine promises and power. With his eye of faith upon the glorious victory of truth and righteousness, when he should see of the travail of his soul and be satisfied—satisfied with:

  • the eternal joy and blessedness of a redeemed world,
  • with the welcome and wealth of the Father’s blessing, and
  • the love and gratitude of every loyal creature in heaven and in earth—yes, comforted and encouraged thus with a realizing sense of the rewards of faith and faithful endurance to the end, he could now calmly and even courageously, go forth to meet the foe.

Yes, this was the victory by which he overcame, even his faith, and so we also are to overcome.

Now commenced the realization of the dreadful forebodings of Gethsemane.

Mark his calm, dignified fortitude, as he addresses Judas and the Roman soldiers, and its effect upon them. They were so overpowered with the grandeur and nobility of this wonderful man that they could not have taken him had he not voluntarily placed himself in their hand. Notice, too, his kind consideration for the bewildered and weary disciples, and his loving excuse for them, “The spirit truly is willing, but the flesh is weak,” and his request to the Roman soldiers at the time of his arrest that they might be permitted to go their way (John 18:8), that so they might escape sharing in his persecutions.

Through all the trial and mocking, and finally the crucifixion, his courage and solicitude for the welfare of others never failed.

 As we thus view our Lord under a trial so crucial, and mark how the hand of Jehovah upheld him, let it strengthen the faith of all who are endeavoring to walk in his footsteps, to whom he says,

Be of good cheer, I have overcome the world: and this is the victory that overcometh, even your faith (John 16:33; 1 John 5:4).

Has not the Lord, Jehovah, commissioned his angels also to bear up the “feet” of the body of Christ, lest at any time they be dashed against a stone (lest some overwhelming trial should prove too much for them)? (Psalm 91:11,12). Yes, as surely as his hand upheld the Head, our Lord Jesus, so surely will he bear up the feet. “Fear not, little flock: it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the Kingdom,” though through much tribulation ye shall enter it.

The angels are all ministering spirits sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation.  Though their ministry is unseen by us, it is not therefore unreal, but potent for good. Our fellow-members, too, in the body of Christ, are all the Lord’s active messengers to each other, thus in turn sharing the privilege of bearing up the feet.

But to have this help in time of need we must invoke it. 

Every day and every hour is indeed a time of need; hence our necessity of living in an atmosphere of prayer—to pray without ceasing. 

And if the Lord needed often to seek retirement from the busy scenes of his active life to be alone with God, to keep the close bond of loving sympathy established, surely we need to do so; and in so doing we shall always find grace to help in time of need.

In seasons of heavy trial the darkness may indeed so deepen upon the soul, as in our dear Lord’s case, as almost to shut out the stars of hope; yet if, like the Lord, we hold on to the omnipotent arm of Jehovah and meekly say,

“Nevertheless, not my will, but thine be done,”

His grace will always be sufficient; and with the Psalmist we can say, Though my flesh and my heart fail, yet God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever (Psalm 73:26); and, with the Lord, our hearts will respond—“The cup which my Father hath given me, shall I not drink it?”

Acknowledgment and References:

Br. Charles Taze Russell – “The Agony of Gethsemane” —from Reprints (R.1801) of the Original Watchtower and Herald of Christ’s Presence.

JUST AS I AM

 

[Note: the same melody of the above song “Just As I Am” (sung by Alan Jackson) is Hymns No. 64 in the Hymns of Dawn hymnal and titled “I Come To Thee.”

I Come To Thee

I come to thee, I come to thee,
Thou precious Lamb who died for me;
I rest confiding in thy Word,
And cast my burden on the Lord.

I come to thee with all my grief,
To find in thee a sweet relief;
Thy blessed name my only plea,
With this, O Lord, I come to thee.

I come to thee, whose sovereign pow’r
Can cheer me in the darkest hour;
I come to thee thru storm and shade,
Since thou hast said, “Be not afraid.”

I come to thee with all my tears,
My pain and sorrow, griefs and fears:
Thou precious Lamb who died for me,
I come to thee, I come to thee.

To thee my trembling spirit flies,
When faith seems weak and comfort dies;
I bow adoring at thy feet,
And hold with thee communion sweet.

O wondrous love! what joy is mine,
To feel that I am truly thine.
Thou precious Lamb who died for me,
I come to thee, I come to thee.

 

Suggested Further Reading:

Gethsemane
https://biblestudentsdaily.com/2017/04/09/gethsemane/

 

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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.

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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).

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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).

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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/