|Volume 14, No 3||May 1, 2007|
by C. A. Coates
It is of great importance to the welfare of your soul that you should have,and cultivate an appetite for the Word of God. But everything depends upon the spirit and attitude in which we approach the Scriptures. It is possible to study the Bible in academic fashion, and to learn spiritual things just as people learn geology or botany. I do not want to encourage you to do that; there is already too much of that. We are not only told that the Bereans "searched the Scriptures," but we are told why they searched. They heard the preaching of Paul and Silas, and "received the Word with readiness of mind, and searched the Scriptures daily, whether those things were so"(Acts 17:11). Wonderful things were brought to their ears, and they were not skeptical or indifferent, but they received it with all readiness of mind.
Searching the Scriptures Daily
The more important a thing is, the more anxious people are to be sure about it. The Bereans esteemed the divine things of God to be of great importance for they searched them out daily with great readiness of mind. I think where there is carelessness as to the Word of God, there is also in those persons little appreciation as to the greatness and the richness that is contained in Scripture. If it was otherwise, we would find a greater eagerness and interest in the study of Holy Scripture. There is a carelessness among the people of God as to the Scriptures which has no parallel in the ordinary affairs of life. If a man buys an estate he does not content himself with the bare word of the realtor; he will have the property deeds searched with the utmost care to be quite sure the title is good. I am surprised that Christians who have listened for years—apparently with interest and attention—to the teaching of the Word of God who know so little of spiritual things. I believe that we profit most when our souls are intimately concerned in certain spiritual questions and we turn to the Scriptures to search whether these things are so.
We must remember that the Bereans searched the word "Daily!" I press upon every Christian the necessity for the daily study of the Word of God. The habit of searching the Scriptures stirs within us a greater desire to give ourselves more and more to the Scriptures. I have heard some Christians say: I wish I enjoyed the Word of God more. But when I read the Bible I don't get the blessing that some people do. I like to ask such persons, how often do your read the Word of God? One a week? Or once a month? The one who reads his Bible most is the one who enjoys it most, and who turns to it with the greatest delight. You must make a point to be in the company of the Bible every day. You will get very little blessing for your soul, and you will make little spiritual progress even by reading daily unless you are watching daily at wisdom's gates.
Daily Watching At Wisdom's Gates
"Blessed is the man that heareth me, watching daily at my gates, waiting at the posts of my doors. For whosoever findeth me findeth life and shall obtain favour of the Lord" (Prov. 8:34-35).
The great central figure of Scripture must be the object of your affections or you will read Scripture with little profit. In short, Christ must be before your heart, or you will miss the kernel of every truth in Scripture. The glorious person who has been from eternity, the delight of the heart of God, has set his love upon us. He has revealed Himself to us as the One who has found His delight in us. Is that person also holding your heart—are you delighting in Him—that your whole life consists in hearing Him, in watching daily at His gates, and waiting at the posts of his doors? The grand secret of spiritual freshness and soul-prosperity is to have the Person of Christ so before the heart the we are attracted to Himself with longing to know Him better. The great defect of modern Chistianity is that there is so little love for Christ. Many hear what is called the "clear gospel," and trusting in the blood and work of Christ they get the assurance of the Word of God that they will never perish, and this seems to satisfy them and they settle down upon it and go to sleep. There is not the earnest longing after Himself; watching daily at His gates. Did it ever occur to you that Christ values your affections? You belong to Him; you are the object of His love; you are "His own." Your heart is Christ's property: is it his dwelling place?
If you read some of the works of the old divines you would be amazed to see how their hearts thirsted after Christ; they were absorbed with His Person; He was the "Object bright and fair" after which their hearts longed. Oh, that it might be more so with ourselves.
Daily Prayer - "I Cry Unto Thee Daily ..." (Ps. 86:3)
There was never a man upon the earth who was so continually in the spirit of prayer as the blessed Lord, for there never was one whose heart was so devoted to God. It was the very excellence of His devoteness to God that made Him so entirely dependent—so pre-eminently the Man of prayer. A true man of prayer is one whose heart is devoted to Christ. The more our hearts are set upon Christ in glory, and the more we are devoted to His interests here, the more do we feel our weakness and dependence. When we feel that everything here is against us; and when we are conscious of the opposition without and within, it is then that we become more and more genuine men and women of prayer.
Allow me to give you a few practical words as to praying. Keep clear of the unprofitable habit of "saying your prayers." It is a very great loss to the soul to get into the habit of repeating substantially the same words in prayer every day. It is not real prayer at all. We read, "in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God" (Phil. 4:6). How can you do that if your are using the same form of words day after day and week after week? Today is not like yesterday, and tomorrow shall not be like today. If you are really in fellowship with God you will be sensitive to the fresh needs of each day. God delights to have our confidence for every need and care. Then let us cultivate a child's confidence and a child's simplicity when we come to Him in prayer. Bring the trying circumstances of today and the expected difficulties of tomorrow to the blessed God who tells you to cast all your cares upon Him for He cares for you. Be simple: give up the long preface, don't feel it necessary to quote a dozen Scriptures—ask as a needy and confiding child would ask its parent.
The more your heart is set for Christ, the more you will be characterized by humility and dependence, which will find their expression in daily prayer.
Daily Bread - "Give us this day our daily bread" - Matt. 6:11
One of the great principles of God's ways is that He "satisfieth the longing soul," and "fills the hungry with good things." The food of which I speak is the gracious supply of God that meets the needs of our hearts. When the children of Israel were in the wilderness—the place of no human resources—the Lord sent manna to sustain them daily. How often our hearts have refused the lessons of the wilderness, and sought to find a more pleasant path where daily exercise of faith is avoided. In the desert of Sinai, as Israel journeyed by faith, God provided every day. There is One in the glory who knows every bit of the wilderness journey, and He graciously supplies all that is needed. Because Israel had new hunger every day, the Lord sent fresh food every day. The manna that sustained you through yesterday's experience will not do for today. You must have daily bread. You must have fresh grace from the Lord in glory for every hour of trial and difficulty. You cannot get on, as a Christian, on your own resources. Your only strength lies in "the grace which is in Christ Jesus," through Him you receive spiritual food for your soul every day and every hour. The walk of faith preserves us from the ruts and formalities in the Christian life, so that nothing is humdrum or mechanical about our lives. Every day brings fresh experiences of grace, and this sense of His interest in us knits our hearts more and more to Himself. May the Lord preserve us from becoming insensible to our daily need, or indifferent to the present grace that His love delights to supply as our daily bread!
Daily Cross - "If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me" (Luke 9:23).
It is feeding on the daily bread that enables us to sustain the daily cross. It is when you have learned that all your supplies come from Him, that you are willing to go forth to Him in the place of shame and reproach, which answers to the daily cross of Luke 9. You take up a path that exposes you to shame and contempt every day. When a man was seen bearing his cross everybody knew that he had no more to do with this world. To bear the cross is to accept the reproach of being connected with that which is lowly and despicable in the eyes. of men. A crucified man was inconceivably despicable in the eyes of both the Jew and Greek. We must not forget that though the cross is so hightly honored now in name, it is not really one bit more acceptable by men today. Christians who are true to the Lord are still targets for the taunts and the scorn of the world. The daily cross is not the bodily affliction or the ordinary trials of life, as so many suppose, for these things are not unique to Christians, they are common to all people. The daily cross is the acceptance day by day of a path which so far as this world is concerned is one of dishonor and reproach.
You must never forget that it will never be easy for the flesh to follow Christ and to bear his reproach. If we are true to Christ it will involve the surrender of much that we naturally esteem—the praise of men, and the honors of "life in this world." When our eye loses sight of Christ, we shirk the cross and try to smooth its corners to avoid the scorn and the sneers of the world. Your can be sure that every bit of real testimony for Christ will cost you something.
The child of God walking in the Spirit does not dread the cross, he longs for it. Like Moses, he esteems the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt, for he has respect unto the recompense of the reward. As you take up the daily cross you will have a present reward in the sense of the Lord's approval. May the Lord encourage all our hearts in this matter!
Daily Encouragement -"Exhort one another daily" (Heb. 3:13).
There is immense need for such an exhortation as this, for there is a constant tendency in our hearts to be discouraged because of the way." I am afraid that many souls backslide and drift away simply because we are not near enough to the Lord, and have not sufficient affection to give them a word of encouragement. It is no use trying to set the old man down; you may lecture and hammer at him with all your might, and he can stand all the blows that you give him. Your must keep your eye on that which is of God in the saints and lay yourself out to encourage that. There is something which is of God in every saint; it may be very weak an small, but we must build on that—we must encourage that. There is no other way to help one another.
Let none of us think that this is only for teachers and ministers of the Word; we are to "encourage one another." This applies to every one of us in our individual contact with each other. I have often been encouraged by simply meeting a brother in the street. A kindly word of interest and of cheer often goes a long way. A hearty grip of the hand is in itself an encouragement; when the Holy Spirit says, "Salute one another with a holy kiss," He refers to the common salutation of the country which answers to our shake of the hand. We might have thought the reference to such a thing beneath the dignity of Christianity, but not so the Holy Spirit. There are a thousand ways in which we can "encourage one another" if we are near to the Lord ourselves.
And remember, this is to go on "daily." We are not to be erratic. It is an easy thing to make a flash like a meteor, but if we are to be fixed stars shining with a steady light from day to day for the encouragement of others we must ourselves daily abide in Christ, and walk in the Spirit. Then, instead of there being a falling off as to this, we should be "encouraging one another, and so much more as you see the day approaching," (Heb. 10:25).
May God write these things on our hearts that we may shine more brightly for Christ as we wait for His coming! Amen.
C. A. Coates (1862-1945) of Teignmouth, Devon was a beloved expositor and commentator of Scripture from England. This article has been edited and abridged however every effort has been made of retain the original intent of the author. Excerpted from Daily, C. A. Coates, Fundamenal Truth Series, Kingston Bible Trust, Sussex
"One can see the
Bereans sitting in
with sacred scrolls
in their hands,
listening eagerly to
the apostle, with
on their faces.
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from one passage
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