by W.B. Screws

The Pilgrim's Messenger

"Have a pattern of sound words which you hear from me, in faith and love
which are in Christ Jesus."--11 Timothy 1:13
Published Monthly By W. B. SCREWS, Glennville, Georgia
Twenty-five Cents a Year

Volume XXXI

December, 1951

Number 5

Entered at the postoffice at Glennville, Ga., as second-class matter.

This issue may not reach the readers until after January 1. Nevertheless, the title of this article will be appropriate, even if it is delayed.

The year 1951 was a good year to me. In it I have more positive proof of the care and love, and responsiveness of God, than I have ever had before. True, I had trials, but in them I have learned by experience, the fact that, "Faithful is God, who, will be leaving you to be tried above what you are able, but, together with the trial, will be making the sequel also, to enable you to undergo it", I Cor. 10:13.

Before Paul wrote the words that I have quoted, he said, "For I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, that our fathers all were under the cloud, and all passed through the sea, and all are baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea, and all ate the same spiritual food, and all drank the same spiritual drink, for they drank of the spiritual Rock following the food. Now the Rock was Christ. But not in the majority of them was the delight of God, for they were strewn along in the wilderness. Now these things became types of us, for us not to be lusters after evil things, according as they also lust. Nor yet be becoming idolaters according as some of them, even as it is written, 'Seated are the people to eat and drink, and they rise to sport'. Nor yet may we be committing prostitution, according as some of them commit prostitution, and fall in one day, twenty-three thousand. Nor yet may we be putting the Lord on trial, according as some of them put Him on trial, and perished by serpents. Nor yet be murmuring even as some of them murmur, and perished by the exterminator. Now all this befalls them typically. Yet it is written for our admonition to whom the accomplishment of the eons have attained. So that, let him who is supposing that he stands, beware that he should not be falling. No trial has taken you, except what is human".

Much of this is figurative. The record in Exodus and the books following, does not mention baptism. The people were not immersed in either the cloud or the sea. Quite the contrary. Paul recognized no literal baptism. The thing Paul was talking about is, the people were identified with Moses and became part of the work that he was doing. So are we baptized in spirit, and become identified with Christ and His work. The point is, we may have an experience with God, and still, later, act in a way that does not delight God---in a way that brings harm to our self. In this passage we are warned against it.

As an excuse for any waywardness on our part, we may plead that we were put on trial. So we are, but God is faithful, and sees to it that we have no trial except what is human, and also that it is not more than we are able to bear. By faith we can see the sequel, even while experiencing the trial, and thus we are able to bear it.

We must remember that a consciousness of the presence of God, and of His interest in us, is necessary to keep us from falling. We must not be boastful about it. We must recognize our dependence on Him.

Another thing we learn from the long quotation that I have made, is, Long before the birth of Mary, the mother of Jesus, the Christ was functioning. He did not have to exist in a form that could be recognized as a Man, in order to do His word of leading, helping, guiding, and teaching man. In the early chapters of Genesis He is known as the Lord God. He is mentioned immediately after man is created. To a man of Babylon  He appears as the Son of God. In the prophetic writing He is called God's fellow. In one of the "Old Testament" books God calls Him "Mine Elect". In fact, there has been no time since man came to be on earth, when He was not available.

While the narrative tells that the people ate literal food and drank water from an actual rock, Paul, with His fine discernment, says they ate spiritual food, and drank spiritual drink from Christ. Thus there has been no period when those who were in spiritual touch with God were denied the comfort, strength and helpfulness that come from Christ.

It has always been the case that to experience the benefits that Christ provides, or that the Father provides through Him, one must have a consciousness of Him. Whatever blessings God has for us, we have an experience of them only through this consciousness.

I know that, during the year I have been drinking from Christ. And the Water that he gives is a spring in me that gushes up for the life of the ages. It provides a richness that cannot be expressed fully in any human language.

For several months, while my wife is recovering from her stroke, I have been alone a great deal. She goes to bed early in the evening, and I have several hours when my only companion is my Father. No one can enjoy the companionship of another, unless the two have something in common. I have had to make a diligent search to become fully conscious of the things that I have in common with God. Not only is He my Creator; He made me out of Himself. All is out of Him, says Paul. He made me in His image and as His likeness. This must be in reference to spirit. In body I am not in His image. He has no shape. He is Spirit. My spirit is the image of His. I have the spirit of Christ, His Son. As my Father, He is over me, and in me. My life comes from Him. He loves me and I love Him.

One of the outstanding things taught in the Bible is the fact that He is responsive to me. He cares what happens to me. It is worth much to know that He is thus interested. I speak His language. I know that I have access to Him in one spirit, through Christ. I am His child.

Thus we have enough in common that I can enjoy having Him as my Companion. I deeply appreciate having Him talk to my spirit. As for His responsiveness, there is not a day in which I am not aware of this.

It is good to know that He is interested in my every-day life---my securing of food and clothing and other necessities.

I do not become nearly as lonely as one might think. And when I retire for the night I say to Him, "I will lay me down in peace and sleep, for Thou, Lord, makest me to dwell in safety". I go to sleep wondering what good think He has in store to make known to me in the morning. I am full of expectancy. My expectation is from Him.

A friend said to me this week, "You have had a bad time". "Not nearly so bad as some people have had", I replied. As a matter of fact, there is good that comes into my life each day. There is certainly no reason to complain. God still gives me time to do much service, by personal visits as well as by public ministry. A lady comes at eight o'clock and stays until four o'clock each day, and will stay longer when it is necessary. This enables me to get out and respond to most of the calls that come to me. Each Sunday I have the privilege of attending meetings where I minister publicly. People visit me in the home frequently. All my children live at a distance from me---the nearest one is in Valdosta, Georgia, a hundred thirty miles from here. Another lives in Macon, Georgia. One is at Hampton, Virginia; one at Corpus Christi, Texas; and one at Los Angeles, California. A grand daughter lives in Waynesboro, Georgia. Naturally, they cannot come often, but the people visit the home. Everybody is good to me. No one would do me harm.

I face the New Year with calmness, and with confidence in God and His people. The year will bring me many pleasures. I am expecting good. God is good, and His purpose is to be carried out. We need not fear Him.

As a matter of fact, the worst thing we have to fear is fear. It is a very devastating emotion. We are to exercise prudence, caution. We are not to rush into dangers unnecessarily. But, since He is taking care of us, and is always responsive to our needs, we do Him a dishonor when we spend our days in fear, as if we were orphans and did not have a Father Who is all-powerful and all-loving.

There is less faith than one might suppose. If we want something that is in line with the universal good, we should ask God for it. But let us ask without doubting, fearing, apprehensiveness. It is a contradiction of terms to say we hope God will bless us, but we fear He won't. Hope is expectation with desire. If we expect something and do not desire it, this is not hope; it is fear. If we desire a thing and do not expect it, this is doubt, which is one form of fear.

The Bible abounds in statements as to the beauty of faith. It takes in the whole field of recognition of God---consciousness of His all-power, His everywhere-presence, and His all-wisdom. Theology has words for these---omnipotence, omnipresence, and omniscience. Faith recognizes these. It is only as we recognize that Go has all power, is everywhere present, and Knows all, that we are in a frame mind to pray. Without a recognition of these qualities in God, prayer becomes a cry of distress---a hopeless pleading without any real expectation that God will respond to us.

Not always do we ask for that which is best. Here we must grant to God the privilege of withholding what we ask for, and giving us something better. Many times we pray in the face of seemingly insurmountable circumstances. It is then that we must be confident that God can do what seems, to us, impossible. When we become sorry for our self---pity our self---we are apt to think of God as being too far away to reach Him. Then we need to have the consciousness that He is present, and, therefore, instantly available.

All fear vanished when God spoke to Joshua and told him to fear not. He had been appointed to lead the people into the land that had been promised. This was an impossibility, if Joshua had to reply on his own wisdom and strength. But God told Him, "Be staunch and of good courage. Be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed. For the Lord thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest". As I have said, all fear vanished, and Joshua said to the people, "Let us go". No task was more hopeless, if it depended on man. Yet none was more gloriously successful, with Israel depending on God.

We are told in the Hebrew letter that Moses, who was the leader when the journey first started, was courageous as if he were seeing the invisible. This was the secret of His success, for it is always the invisible that accomplishes things. God is the invisible One. He is spirit. He does not fall.

Too often we think our experiences must be repeated over and over. Thus we judge the future by what we have seen in the past. This is a mistake. Much of our past experiences were what they were, because we did not take God into account. With our dependence fixed upon Him, and our faith in His promises, our future experiences may well be quite the opposite fo what they have been in the days agone.

Over and over, in the year that is ahead, I shall be face to face with situations that defy the wisdom of man to solve, tasks that no man can accomplish alone. If I forget to depend on my Father, I shall fail. But if I can remember that God is present, that He knows all, and that no task can defy Him, the coming year will be one that is gloriously fruitful. It is no wonder that so much is said about faith!

Paul says that God richly gives us all things for our enjoyment. Life is one of the things that He gives us. There is no reason why we should carry on a living death---a life that is devoid of enjoyment. Not only is it better now to enjoy life, but in keeping with what happens when gifts are not used, we may reach the point where we cannot enjoy it if we despise the gift of God. When we live apprehensively, in a worried state, always expecting the worst, it may bring on a sickness that will make it impossible to live a joyous life. "A merry heart does good like a medicine", says the wise man. If we do not maintain a merry heart, we may reach the point where we will need medicine. It is dishonoring to God to go about with a long face and a drawn-out manner of speaking that indicates that life is not worth living.

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