There are many reasons why I am happy to be in this place this evening. One reason, above all others, is that over fifty years ago, I heard the Gospel in this district. Since coming here, I have been reminded over and over again of that precious time in my life’s experience when I sat under the sound of the Gospel. At first I was a person who was very, very far away from God, just living for self with no thought of God in my mind. I do not know yet why I went to that first meeting. I cannot remember anything that was said or sung, but something there made me feel, “I would like to come back again.” I felt it was God drawing me until He could deal with my soul, until He could deal with my heart.
Before that time, there was a foolish thought in my mind that while I was not as bad as some, I was not as good as others, and that there may be a middle way for the likes of me. I had to learn through the Gospel that that was not so, that I was thinking wrong. We often have to be brought to the place where we realize that our thoughts are wrong and need to be changed. Many times since then God has dealt with me and has spoken to me that my thoughts might be changed and brought into the right channel.
It’s a wonderful thing to think that God has brought us all here, and as far as we know in our own hearts, we would not be in any other place but just here at this Convention. We have all come with expectancy, longing to be healed and blessed by God, and I don’t think we will go away disappointed, because as the hymn says, “God is faithful.” He longs to bless us, but that blessing cannot come to us except there are favourable conditions in our hearts, minds, and spirits as we come into His presence.
We sang, “In the name of Jesus gathering…. one in heart and mind and spirit, weaned from this vain world away.” If that is true of every one of us, I don’t think any of us will go away without the blessing of God. We also sang, “Speak and make me blest indeed.” We have been asking God to bless us, but we have our part to do. There is a verse that says, “The curse causeless shall not come, and the blessings causeless do not come either.” Blessing only comes where there are favourable conditions in our hearts.
With this thought in mind, I looked up some psalms that begin with those who are blessed ones, and the conditions necessary for this blessing to come. The first psalm says, “Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful.” Those three conditions are very necessary and most of our lives are made up of walking, standing, and sitting, and there is a way to do it if we are to be blest by God. To walk not in the counsel of the ungodly just means to walk in the counsel of the Godly. Many people would like to counsel us, but no counsel that is not absolutely in line with what Jesus lived and taught is Godly counsel.
God at one time had to give His people over to their own heart’s lusts, and they walked in their own counsel. Yet we know we are advised not at any time to lean unto our own understanding, because it is not in man that walketh to direct his steps. Our own counsel is no use to us and ungodly counsel is no use to us. I hope we are in the condition of heart where, as God would speak and give us counsel during these days together, that we will take it to our hearts and just live by it. I was going to say, go out and live by it, but there is no need to wait until we go from this place, but here and now is the time to start and as God makes known His mind and will for us, let us do it.
“Nor standeth in the way of sinners…” It tells us we are not to be found standing in the way of sinners, that is wrong company. “Nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful.” God has brought us together and is longing for us to sit down in heavenly places. This can be that to every individual here, and that is what God wants it to be. We are not sitting in the seat of the scornful, nor in any class of people opposed to the mind and will of God, as seen in the life and teachings of His beloved Son. It means sometimes sitting alone. My choice through the Gospel brought me into places where I had to sit alone many a time in my own home and in the place where I worked, but nevertheless, it is the best place to be. In Psalm 26:4 we read, “I have not sat with vain persons, neither will I go in with dissemblers.” God’s hand upon us will just cause us to sit in heavenly places with Him and His, companions of all those that fear the Lord.
Psalm 1:2, “But his delight is in the law of the LORD and, in his law, doth he meditate day and night.” That will bring great blessing. To delight in a thing is to make it your very life. Confucius said that those who know the truth are not equal to those who live the truth, and those who live the truth are not equal to those who delight in the truth. We might know and live the truth, but do we delight in it? Is it our very life? David said in his first psalm that these things would bring the blessing of God upon us all.
Psalm 32:1-2, “Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered.” The greatest gift that God gives to any of us is the blessing of sins forgiven, but that blessing cannot come to us without a repentant heart. Repentance is our part, forgiveness is God’s part. Verse 2 is another thing I thought of as being our part, “in whose spirit there is no guile.” It is a very important part of our service, our spirit. We are told to have rule over our spirit, and he that hath no rule over his spirit is like a city that is broken down and without walls. We need to take heed to our spirit, that is our part. Even after we have failed and God has forgiven us, we must still be very careful about that. If any man hath not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his and they that are led by the spirit of God, they are the sons of God. We are blessed indeed if we have a spirit in whom there is no guile.
Psalm 41:1, “Blessed is he that considereth the poor.” It goes on to say what the Lord will do for such a person. For poor the margin says, “Weak or sick.” We might be inclined to get impatient with the weak, but in God’s family there are many types of people. I Thessalonians 14 speaks of different types of people in God’s family, and the attitude of heart we should have towards them. Warn them that are unruly, suggesting there were going to be those, even amongst that good church, who would be hard to manage at times. Isn’t that what unruly means? It would be sad if any of us made it hard for God to manage us, that we don’t want to come under His control, unruly children in God’s family.
“Comfort the feeble minded, support the weak, be patient to all men.” This verse suggests the attitude we should have toward the many types of people who are, and will be, in God’s family. Blessed are they that remember the weak, that consider the weak. One young Worker wrote to me once asking, “Don’t despise me when I am weakest for that is when I need your help the most.” Don’t despise anyone in their weak moments, we have them ourselves. They need our help and our prayers. Paul wrote, “We then that are strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak, and not to put a stumbling block in the way of a weak Brother, but to receive him and not to doubtful disputations.” In all our ways, we must consider the effects of what we say and do on our weak Brother, the one for whom Christ died. Christ died for our weak Brothers and Sisters, even as He died for every one of His children.
Psalm 119:1, “Blessed are the undefiled in the way, who walk in the law of the LORD. Blessed are they that keep His testimonies and that seek Him with their whole heart.” God’s blessing comes upon those who are undefiled in the way. In hymn 295 (now 356), every verse begins with the words, “How blessed are the undefiled.” One verse says, “Who walk God’s lowly way of life, led by a loving Father’s hand.” This will be the condition that will bring a blessing. Judas was in the way. Luke in Acts says, “He was numbered with us and had part in the ministry.”
He was in the way but not undefiled in the way. He was defiled in the way, and that was what took him out of the way with such terrible results. Who can we look to for our example if we want to be undefiled in the way? It is Jesus, whom God has given us for an example. He has blessed Him above all. God said, “This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased.” Jesus life and ministry was sealed by the Father, and we can look to Him as our example, to help us keep undefiled in the way. Nothing defiled Him. He lived above every experience that came in His way, no matter how hard to bear, and He was not affected by any of His surroundings.
We are sometimes inclined to excuse ourselves because of the places we find ourselves in. It never came into the heart of Jesus to excuse Himself because of the place He was in, but every day it was in His heart to keep undefiled as He walked in the way, and it is possible for us to keep undefiled in heart and purpose by the grace and power of God, as we look to the One that loved us and gave Himself for us.
Psalm 119:2, “Blessed are they that keep His testimonies, and that seek Him with the whole heart.” It means loving the Lord with all, with our whole heart.
We sing in hymn 195 [now 321], “Every other source is failing, nought can satisfaction bring, but a true whole hearted service, unto Thee my Lord and King.”
Nothing but a wholehearted service brings any joy to God. Lukewarm hearts God does not cherish. A divided heart causes people to be faulty towards Him. Hosea 10:2 says, “Their heart is divided; now shall they be found faulty.” A divided heart, a half-hearted service is no good to God. He wants our whole heart.
A leader once gave good advice to his nation. Anyone who can be satisfied with a half hearted service, it is just an outward evidence of an inward decadence, and a national collapse is sure to follow. If we are not giving God a wholehearted service, there is something wrong somewhere. We have come together here, longing to be healed and blessed. We will need to make it possible for God to do that for us. We need to do our part so that God can do His part.