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Isaiah 53:1-3 God’s Servant Will be Despised Part 2 of 5

The second stanza in this servant song deals with the attitude of the nation of Israel towards God’s servant when He came. We can consider it in three parts:

1. How they responded to Him: 53:1

Who has believed our report? And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?” Many of the Jewish prophets might have felt that way about their ministry, but twice in the New Testament this text is quoted with reference to the Jews’ response to the Lord Jesus.

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Some Thoughts on Congregational Singing

Some time ago I was asked to write an article about singing in the church. Before I do, let me quickly give you some personal background, so you will know from what perspective I am writing. I became Christian at age 19, and for the first 20 years after my salvation attended a lively non-denominational church, where I also functioned as piano/bass player, choir director, and where at times I would lead congregational singing. Most songs we sang were contemporary choruses, many of which contained much scripture. From there my family moved on to a more traditional church, where the majority of the songs consisted of hymns, many written during the 18th and 19thcenturies. Here I also directed a choir, and have been frequently involved in worship and song-leading.

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What is the meaning of the Heart in the Scriptures?

When David Livingston died on May 1, 1873 his heart was removed and buried in the African soil. He was so beloved that the Africans wanted his heart to remain in their land. His body was prepared and shipped back to England. There he was interned in Westminster Abbey.

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A devotional Study of Boaz and Ruth at Harvest time

The story of the Book of Ruth is well known. It tells the story of the experiences of Ruth the Moabitess and how she came to rest under the blessings of the God of Israel.

The story starts at a time of severe famine in Bethlehem-Judah, (1:1), and is about couple named Elimelech and his wife Naomi. They had decided to flee from their hometown to the country of Moab, and this they did, taking their two boys, Mahlon and Chilion, with them. However, their sojourn there was not a happy one. Although finding sustenance for their physical needs there, Elimilech died. The boys then each married Moabitish girls. This was not strictly forbidden, but probably not encouraged. About ten years later, the two young men died as well, (1:5). This further tragedy left Naomi and her daughters-in-law Ruth and Orpah bereft. Wisely, Naomi decided the best thing to do would be to return to Bethlehem-Judah. On the way she persuaded Orpah to return home to Moab but she was not able to dissuade Ruth from continuing with her on the journey. We well recall the emotional and stirring words of Ruth when she said, ‘Entreat me not to leave thee, or to return from following after thee: for whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge: thy people shall be my people, and thy God, my God: where thou diest, will I die, and there will I be buried: the Lord do so to me, and more also, if aught but death part thee and me’, (1:16-17).

When they reached Bethlehem-Judah it was the beginning of the barley harvest and while a welcome awaited them they had, nevertheless, to live in poverty. Naomi explained to friends that she ‘went out full, and the Lord hath brought me home again empty’. In order to survive Ruth had to go and glean in the fields so she and her mother-in law would not go hungry. The message I want to bring to you starts at that particular point.

Sometimes when things go wrong in our lives we ask, ‘Why me?’ Yet we do not see the need to ask the same question when things go right. When Boaz first encountered Ruth in the field and spoke with her she said, ‘Why have I found grace in thine eyes?’, (2:10). The pecking order at harvest time was as follows: at the top was the landowner, in this case Boaz; second, was a supervisor, (2:6); next, were the skilled reapers; in turn, these were followed by sheaf binders; finally, gleaners were allowed to forage for themselves around the edges and in the corners of the fields, as well as picking up fallen ears anywhere in the field. Harvest was a seriously busy time and not much opportunity was available for conversation, yet here the landowner makes time to speak at some length with a lowly gleaner. Ruth was young, a widow, a stranger, living on the breadline, and therefore extremely vulnerable. Yet, he noticed her and spoke to her, and her reaction was as we have seen, ‘Why me?’

We shall pursue the circumstances described in chapter 2 verse 14 and our application under the following headings: Invitation; Participation; Fellowship; Appreciation; Satisfaction; Reflection.

Invitation

Somewhat surprisingly Boaz invited Ruth with these words, ‘At mealtime come thou hither’. I imagine that normally the gleaners would have eaten what little they had in a sheltered corner of the field whereas here was an invitation, indeed a command, to come into the house to eat with the chief men of the harvest. Ruth must have been overwhelmed by such a thought. It was of course all of grace. We too have, as believers in the Lord Jesus Christ, been summoned by Him to attend a mealtime that He has instituted for our blessing and to facilitate worship. We are invited to the Lord’s Supper and it is significant that the invite is personal. The Lord says, ‘At the Supper, I want you there’. It is by grace that such an invitation is given and we must be ready to respond positively on each first day of the week.

Participation

While it would have been a blessed thing just to attend and respond, Boaz is concerned that she should participate in the bread and the vinegar. This was apparently a sweet and refreshing drink concocted from wine vinegar mixed with oil and eaten accompanied by bread. On a hot harvest day this provision would be most welcome to all the workers and strengthen their resolve to continue the work into the afternoon, and evening. At the Lord’s Supper of course bread and wine are provided as emblems of remembrance and it is the Lord’s will that all who attend should participate in this sacred ordinance. It is sad to accept the invitation but not participate, as that is a great loss. It is His desire that all should participate in the bread and wine so all should do whatever has to be done to facilitate this privilege. So, blessed and encouraged, we continue in the field until the work is done.

Fellowship

Scripture records that Ruth ‘sat beside the reapers’. She would be conscious that she was the least of all who were there, yet here she was in fellowship with them enjoying what had been provided. The bread, as well as speaking of the body given, also reminds us of the unity of the believers whatever their position in life or where they come from. At the table all are equal and are treated as such. The hymn writer, George Goodman, penned the words, ‘The bread and wine are spread upon the board; the guests are here invited by the Lord’.

Appreciation

Our verse tell us that during the meal Boaz ‘reached her parched corn’. This was possibly ‘hard grains of wheat not yet fully dry, roasted in a pan or on a plate’, Robinson. This was apparently most palatable. For Ruth it was something special from the hand of the landowner. While it is true that the Lord’s Supper is a place where we give something to Him, it would be a poor feast if we did not receive some special thought or blessing from Him. Please note too that He reached it to her. He was close beside her, within easy touching distance of him when he chose to come and sit a while with her. So too at the Lord’s Supper today, He sits close by and we may feel His gracious touch of love as the feast progresses. We appreciate the closeness and the love… And so, too, does He.

Satisfaction

It is recorded that Ruth ‘did eat, and was sufficed, and left’. She thoroughly enjoyed the special parched corn and so, satisfied, she left the house and returned to the field and, subsequently, well provisioned to her mother-in-law. She had experienced strange and moving things that day. As we attend the Supper and sit close to Him and receive special blessings from Him we too are deeply moved. We experience feelings of joy and satisfaction that warm our hearts and encourage us to continue in His service. Some words from Henry Bennett‘s hymn are, ‘Taken up with Thee Lord Jesus I would be; finding joy and satisfaction all in Thee’; Thou the nearest, and the dearest, unto me‘.

Reflection

When Ruth returned to Naomi she faced two separate questions, v. 19, ‘Where hast thou gleaned today?’ and, ‘Where wroughtest thou?’ Understandably, Naomi, worried for her welfare and wondered where she had been. To this double question Ruth provides a strange and single answer, ‘The man’s name . . . is Boaz’. Ruth was not interested in the place but only in the person. Her heart and mind was full of him. It seems she hardly heard the question and could speak only of him. She was falling in love with him and he already loved her. And so is our relationship with our Lord. The place diminishes in importance and the Person fills our hearts and minds so that we speak only of Him. We recall the Lord’s word that ‘where two or three are gathered together… there am I in the midst’.

Conclusion

Therefore, let us attend the feast as requested and expected, participate and enjoy closeness to the Lord and the fellowship of the saints, and be prepared to speak more of the Person rather than the place; of the Who rather than the where.

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Priests and the Priesthood

Priests and the Priesthood

In Exodus chapter 19 the children of Israel find themselves encamped in the Wilderness of Sinai. Moses ascended the mountain, and God gave him a message for the people. He said, ‘Now therefore, if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant…. ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation.’ Exodus 19:5-6. God indicated that His ideal was for the entire nation of Israel to be priests, subject to the conditions being observed. It is well known that Israel did not ‘obey His voice and keep His covenant,’ and that the priesthood was confined to Aaron and his sons. This continued throughout the dispensation of law until Christ came. However, now that Christ has made His once-and- for-all sacrifice, all of the terms and conditions of law and its priesthood have been set aside in this Dispensation of Grace. God has now realized His original ideal in the Church, by bestowing upon all believers the honour and privilege of priesthood. It is the purpose of this article, to show how the priesthood functions in a personal and collective way.

PERSONAL ACTIVITY OF THE PRIEST
Every son of Aaron was a priest by birth, and once he attained the age of 30 years, he was able to take up the responsibilities of priesthood, which primarily involved worship, in the presentation of sacrifices. Positionally, he was a priest the day he was born, but practical function required maturity and experience. It should be noted that some of the activities of the priest involved things that could be exercised personally, and others which required that his activities, should be coordinated in conjunction with other priests, and we will address the latter, later in the study.

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True Wisdom

True Wisdom is in leaning

On Jesus Christ, our Lord;

True wisdom is in trusting

His own life-giving word;

True wisdom is in living

Near Jesus every day;

True wisdom is in walking

Where He shall lead the way.

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Resting

 

Once my hands were always trying,

Trying hard to do my best;

Now my heart is sweetly trusting,

And my soul is all at rest.

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Editorial: Am I A Lukewarm Christian?

The only time the word “lukewarm” is used in the New Testament is in Revelation 3:16. It is found in the Lord’s description of the church at Laodicea. Lukewarm describes the nauseating effect this church had on our Lord. He said, “So then, because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.” In light of the seriousness of this condition, it is worth asking, ‘Am I a lukewarm Christian?’

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Paradox

When Thou hast mastered me,

Then shall I be victor;

When Thou hast enslaved me,

Then shall I be free.

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Epaphras, A Man of Prayer: Colossians 1:7-8, 4:12-13, Philemon 23

Real men of prayer are not often found, especially in this busy, fast-moving, “jetomic” age, which age an anonymous wit has summed up as follows: “Hurry, worry, and bury.” Yet, in every period of man’s hectic history, God has always had those who have spent much time in secret communion with Him, even to this very hour. Apart from such prayer warriors the Church of Jesus Christ would be virtually powerless. If we but knew what we owe as believers to the ceaseless intercession of our Great High Priest, the Lord Jesus Christ, coupled with the faithful intercession of men and women of God, surely we would afresh be driven to our knees in true praise and thankfulness to our Lord, at the same time availing ourselves more often of the priceless privilege of prayer.

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