Hymn 283, “Strong in the Strength”
When I was very early in the work the man that wrote that hymn came to spend a few days with my companion and myself. My companion knew him well as he had been his companion in Canada. The companion who wrote this hymn would often go to the piano and play this hymn and one thing that has remained with me since, “You keep the Master at the Helm.” The helm is a very small part of the boat, if the Master is directing it is all that really matters. Is the Master at the helm/hear Him whisper, “Peace be still.” We had a brother come our way a few years ago and he made a statement I have never forgotten, and perhaps you have heard it as well. He said this, “Life is like a coin. We can spend it however we want but we only spend it once.” He said this a number of times on the convention rounds he was on and it has never left us and really we pass this way just once. We want to make the best of the time we have got. We get the feeling that you folk are spending your days carefully in the will of God otherwise you would not be able to share with us some of the things you share. We appreciate the fellowship and what we have in the Kingdom of God.
Recently, I have enjoyed reading about the Apostles and particularly about Peter. Peter was one of the first Apostles that Jesus saw and He was beside the Sea of Galilee. He called Peter and John and they were fishing. He called them, “Come and follow Me.” They rowed the boat to shore and left it and followed the Master. It was not because they did not know how to fish. Your Servants of God are Servants not because they do not know how to do anything else. Servants of God are taken for every walk of life. Jesus said to them, “I will make you to become fishers of men.” They were not that. They knew how to fish for fish, but they did not know how to fish for men. That was a total new experience for them and the same for any who offer their life to God in this Work. Now He called Peter and John then James and Andrew and the others some were fishermen, some business and do not know what the rest were. But He made them become fishers of men. We love the privilege that we have to just go. Just go with this gospel to feed those that are hungry and seeking. If you know anything about fishing, you can drop bait in front of a fish and if he is not hungry, he will pay no attention to it at all and go right by. But if he is hungry, that is a different story. And that is how it is with the Gospel and those going with the Gospel. It is a story we can tell and will mean life to your soul, but if there is no hunger, no need it will not appeal at all. I know people and so would you who were raised under the influence of the Truth and something that appeals so much to some members of the family does not appeal to them at all. No hunger, no need just does not appeal. This man Peter knew he was going to live to be an old man. You and I do not know that but Peter knew he was going to live to be an old man. I wonder if we were told and convinced that we were going to live to be old, what would we do? Would we just drift along and then when we were old straighten up and do the right thing? Would we be just close to the limit kind of in us by nature? This man Peter never did that. He wanted to keep close to the Master and he knew the Master had exactly what he needed and he knew the Master could guide his life. Even though I am going to live to an old man I need the guidance of the Lord Jesus. Jesus said one time to some that were hampering Him He said, ”Who [does] man say that I am? What are people saying about Me?” “Some say, ‘You’re a Prophet.’ Some say, ‘You’re John the Baptist,’ and people say all kinds of things.” Then He said, “What about you folk? Who do you say that I am?” Then Peter spoke up and said, “Thou are the Son of Christ of the Living God.” A clear revelation of who Jesus really was. At the convention we were at we heard about the man Zacchaeus and we have heard about Zacchaeus all our lives. That was the man he was a little man who ran ahead and he wanted to see Jesus and he climbed a sycamore tree. He did not want to just see Jesus; Jesus was no different to any other man. Jesus was not handsome and the Bible tells us that there was nothing that would draw your attention to Jesus and He did not have long flowing blonde hair like you see in some of those pictures we see. He was no different than the other men. What was it that Zacchaeus wanted to see? He wanted to see Jesus in real life, see some of the qualities that Jesus had, see the love that He had, the mercy He had, the care He had, the self denial He had and the willingness to die to self that was some of the things Jesus possessed. That is how Jesus lived and that is what Zacchaeus wanted to see.
Well, this man Peter that was called to be an Apostle loved what he saw in the Master and he had a clear understanding that this Man that is amongst us is the Son of God, the Christ the One who will give His life so we can live. He prompted Jesus all the way He trusted Him with his life. There was a day when they were on the sea, it was windy high waves, and Peter was used to that. Then they saw someone coming walking on the water. They decided that it must be the Lord Jesus. Peter sung [shouted] out to Him, “If it be Thou bid me to come to you on the water.” Jesus simply said come and Peter trusted his life into the hands of Jesus. First of all they thought it was a phantom, then they understood, “No, this is Jesus.” Peter actually got out of the boat in the midst of the wind and the waves. He got out of the boat and walked on the water. He put his whole life into the hands of the Master, and the word the Master spoke He said, “Come,” and Peter got out of the boat a seasoned fisherman. He gets out of the boat in the midst of the wind and the storm. He had faith to believe without a shadow of a doubt this is the Son of God. It is true that eventually he got looking around and he got the feeling, “This is no place for me in the midst of a storm and walking on the water,” and he began to sink. But he cried out for help and Jesus stretched for his hand and took him back to the boat. This is a picture of a man putting his whole life into the hand of the Master. There are so many things about Peter’s relationship with Jesus and it is a relationship we would like to have ourselves. After he had called out in Matthew 17, you remember that was the chapter that Jesus invited Peter, John, and James to go up the mountain apart and He was transfigured before them. His face shone as the sun and His raiment was a white as a light and there appeared unto them Moses and Elias. Peter said, “It is good for us to be here.” In one of the Gospels it says Peter said to Jesus, “If Thou wilt let us build three tabernacles.” I really like that and do really believe that was the way it was. That Peter did not want to be out of the will of the Master, not at all. We will do it. We will build three tabernacles but it must be in your will. You must feel that it is all right and if it is not we will not do it. And it was not alright. That did not offend Peter at all. He left there with profound respect because they heard the voice from Heaven that this is My beloved Son, hear Him. They saw Moses and Elias talking with Jesus talking about the deceased. It would have been interesting to hear all that was said. But there is not much written about what they spoke about the deceased. You can imagine that Moses and Elias would be encouraging Jesus to go all the way. Go all the way to the cross, you must shed your blood for the remission of sins, or everything we have told the people and have lived ourselves will be in vain. Can imagine them encouraging Jesus to go all the way and die and fulfill what had been prophesied, do not give up, go all the way. It says that a cloud came down and separated them from their sight and then the voice came down and said, “Hear Him.” When Moses and Elias had gone back to heaven and Jesus stood there alone with those four men. That made such an impression on Peter in his second letter to the friends he mentioned that we saw Him transfigured before us and we heard His voice from Heaven and it just removed all doubt. The voice from Heaven just said, “This is My beloved Son.” I do not think they had any intention of not listening to Jesus as they knew what He said was true and right, He was not selfish He was living for others. There was every reason to trust what He said and this experience was one the Lord’s men never forgot. Probably you have had experiences in the way of God and have left you know without a shadow of a doubt that this is the Way and Will of God.
There was a man who came to our convention and he had never been to Convention before. He was raised Catholic but I do not think he attended church much and he married a girl that was married in the Truth. After her family spoke with her after some years she felt she must get back to the meetings and do something for herself. She came back to the meetings and professed. He is not against her very much the other way. He is anxious she gets to meetings and she takes her little family with her. He brought her to convention and that was one place he could maybe help her a little bit. He was in some of the meetings and missed some but he wanted to have a visit and in this visit he made this statement, “These people all seem so content and happy.” They were not laughing all the time and carrying on, but he could just see that they were content. That is something people observe when people look at your life. You’re content, happy, and satisfied.
There were a lot of experiences that Peter had with the Master and you remember the time they gathered for the last supper. They were going to eat the lamb together and Jesus made a statement that one was going to betray Him and did they all say Judas? No, not at all and they all looked inside their own hearts. And they asked the Master, “Is it I?” They understood if my human nature gets out of control I could do this. It is possible I could do this. Then it says eventually they all asked, “Is it I?” Poor Judas was kind of in a corner. Was he going to say it or not going to say? It will look bad and if he does say it. It will be revealed what was really in his heart. Anyway eventually he said to Jesus, “Is it I?” and Jesus simply said “Thou sayest.” It did not seem to dawn on the rest of the Apostles that it was really Judas that was going to really do it. Then Jesus encouraged Judas to do what he had planned to do. They went out to the garden and that was when Jesus revealed to Peter that he was going to deny Him. That was something Peter could hardly take in. He could not believe that he was going to deny the Master, the One he loved, the One he said, “Even though all may forsake Thee, I never will forsake You,” and he meant that with his whole heart. He really did mean that and he said, “Even if I do death with Thee, I will not deny You.” And Jesus had to tell him, “Peter, tonight before the cock crows, you will deny Me three times.” It was a terrible day, a terrible day for Peter. The Lord Jesus had told him, “I have prayed for you that your faith would not fail.” Satan has desired to have you and sift you as wheat but I have prayed for you, but your faith would not fail. Let us not forget that today Satan is desiring to do the same thing to God’s people, take them and sift them as wheat. To destroy the wheat, the very best thing we have in our hearts. He wants to sift that out and destroy it and we do not want our faith to fail. Peter that day could hardly believe that day the word of the Master was true. Today before the sun sets, I am going to deny my Master and we see that is exactly what happened. You remember what had happened when they had taken Jesus and they had bound Him, and mocked Him, slapped Him, spat on Him and then took Him to the high Priest and Peter followed. In the court, they had made a fire. It was cold and Peter was there with the rest warming himself and the little maid who had invited him in said, “You are one of His disciplines aren’t you?” He said, “No.” Then a cousin of Malchus, the servant of the High Priest, whose right ear was taken off in the garden by Peter’s sword and he really intended to fight to the death they are not going to take the Master. He drew his sword and took the right ear off Malchus. And you remember what Jesus did, don’t you? “Peter, put up your sword this is not the way it is done.” He healed the man’s ear and no one would have ever known that Peter had cut the ear from the side of his head. No, it was completely healed. Now a cousin of his said as they were warming themselves, “You are one of His disciples aren’t you? Didn’t I see you in the garden?” Peter again said, “No.” This fellow would have got a real close look at Peter and knew, “Yes, I did see you in the garden and you had a sword and you fought well.” And eventually the cock crew after the third time. Jesus turned and looked at Peter. Could you imagine how he felt? I cannot really imagine how he felt, but he knew he had denied knowing the Master three times and the cock crew and he wept bitterly. He was so sorry for that but eventually that was all forgiven.
I like the commission Jesus gave to this strong discipline and He asked Peter, “Do you love me?” This was after He was raised from the dead. He was the one who ran to the tomb. John looked in but Peter went in. He saw the grave clothes and they were folded in such a way and what was around His head sat by itself and yes, he was satisfied with what Mary had told him. Yes, Jesus has risen from the dead. Why did it tell us, he saw the napkin and lay by itself and I really think Jesus did that? They knew Jesus and He lived amongst them and they knew Him how He lived and they knew what he would do. We have a brother on our staff and we do not even need to know he is in the area, if we went into the bedroom where he is, everything is just so neat you know that is him. Yes he is here somewhere. I get the feeling that was the way it was with Jesus and Peter saw it yes that is just how Jesus would do it. Then they went fishing and I do not know why they went fishing and I do not want to guess. But they went fishing and Jesus appeared to them. He asked them if they had anything and no they did not but He had meat for them. Then He said to Peter, “Do you love me more than these?” He was not talking about the fish. Of course he loved the Master more than the fish but He was talking about the fish. Peter had said, “If everyone forsake You, I will never forsake you. I love you more than anyone else I know.” “Peter, do you love Me more than these are you going to stand by your word? Do you really mean what you said?” “Yes I love you.” And He said it again, “Do you love me?” “Yes. You know I love You.” “Feed My Lambs and feed My Sheep. Peter do you love Me?” “Yes, Master, You know I love You.” “Feed My Sheep.” He was just telling Peter, “You just keep true right where you are right where you’re placed. You feed the Lambs and feed the Sheep and be true where you are.” Have you ever seen a sheep and they come to the fence and they reach as far as they can to get some green grass while they are standing in green grass? Feed My Lambs and feed My Sheep, just be true where you are asked. And God has placed us where we are and we want to be true in our place. And if you read those two letters Peter wrote, you will understand this is what he taught and this is what he fed the people and nourished them and he told them about Jesus. I have enjoyed all we have heard about Jesus. It is good fodder and good to feed on and we want to be true in our place as well.