English: Moses Speaks to Pharaoh, c. 1896-1902...

English: Moses Speaks to Pharaoh, c. 1896-1902, by James Jacques Joseph Tissot (French, 1836-1902), gouache on board, 7 7/16 x 11 1/4 in. (18.9 x 28.6 cm), at the Jewish Museum, New York (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Dealing with Discouragement

December 23, 2013

Moses reported this to the Israelites, but they did not listen to him because of their discouragement and harsh labor.” — Exodus 6:9

The Torah portion for this week is Va’eira, which means “and I appeared,” from Exodus 6:2–9:35, and the Haftorah is from Ezekiel 28:25–29:21.

If you’re like the rest of us, no doubt you have experienced discouragement, maybe even today. It could be a goal you never seem to reach or an expectation that didn’t come to fruition. Sometimes it seems like things will never get better and it’s all too easy to give up and despair.

This week’s Torah reading picks up the story of Israel’s redemption. Just a few verses earlier, the process had already gotten underway. Moses accepted God’s mission to free the people and went to speak to Pharaoh. However, Pharaoh’s response was less than encouraging. Not only did he answer Moses’ plea to “Let my people go” with an emphatic “no,” Pharaoh also made the Israelites’ conditions even harsher and impossibly demanding.

At that point, Moses was extremely discouraged. He said to God: “Ever since I went to Pharaoh … he has brought trouble on this people, and you have not rescued your people …” (Exodus 5:23). In other words, things are only getting worse, God! Last week’s reading ended with God encouraging Moses with the promise that everything would work out in the end.

This week’s reading begins with an encouraged Moses who returned to the Israelites to tell them that redemption is near. However, “they did not listen to him because of their discouragement and harsh labor.” Once again, Moses was left feeling deflated and discouraged.

What a disheartening section. However, within this tale of discouragement, we can find a cure for the ailment of despair.

First, let’s start with the cause. The verse tells us the source of the people’s inability to embrace hope. The cause, which is translated from Hebrew as “discouragement and harsh labor,” literally means “short spirit and hard work.” In other words, the Israelites suffered from a crushed spirit because of how hard life had been. In addition, they suffered from physical exhaustion due to overworking. Both of these factors kept them mired in despair.

However, there is a way out. The first step is to rest. When our bodies are physically strong, our spirits are stronger. We need to take care of our bodies with proper nutrition and sleep. The second step is to believe in God’s promises for the future. God reiterated His promises to Moses, but in time, Moses had to learn, and we all have to model, how to remember God’s promises and trust them on our own. We can reinforce our faith through daily prayer and study.

Once we nurture our bodies and spirits, we can leave despair behind – and turn our discouragement into the courage to persevere and be redeemed.

With prayers for shalom, peace, Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein Founder and President






“But who may abide the day of his coming?” Malachi 3:2

His first coming was without external pomp or show of power, and yet in truth there were few who could abide its testing might. Herod and all Jerusalem with him were stirred at the news of the wondrous birth. Those who supposed themselves to be waiting for him, showed the fallacy of their professions by rejecting him when he came. His life on earth was a winnowing fan, which tried the great heap of religious profession, and few enough could abide the process. But what will his second advent be? What sinner can endure to think of it? “He shall smite the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips shall he slay the wicked.” When in his humiliation he did but say to the soldiers, “I am he,” they fell backward; what will be the terror of his enemies when he shall more fully reveal himself as the “I am?” His death shook earth and darkened heaven, what shall be the dreadful splendour of that day in which as the living Saviour, he shall summon the quick and dead before him? O that the terrors of the Lord would persuade men to forsake their sins and kiss the Son lest he be angry! Though a lamb, he is yet the lion of the tribe of Judah, rending the prey in pieces; and though he breaks not the bruised reed, yet will he break his enemies with a rod of iron, and dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel. None of his foes shall bear up before the tempest of his wrath, or hide themselves from the sweeping hail of his indignation; but his beloved blood washed people look for his appearing with joy, and hope to abide it without fear: to them he sits as a refiner even now, and when he has tried them they shall come forth as gold. Let us search ourselves this morning and make our calling and election sure, so that the coming of the Lord may cause no dark forebodings in our mind. O for grace to cast away all hypocrisy, and to be found of him sincere and without rebuke in the day of his appearing.


Father, You Always Said...

Father, You Always Said…


“But the firstling of an ass thou shalt redeem with a lamb: and if thou redeem him not, then shalt thou break his neck.” Exodus 34:20

Every firstborn creature must be the Lord’s, but since the ass was unclean, it could not be presented in sacrifice. What then? Should it be allowed to go free from the universal law? By no means. God admits of no exceptions. The ass is his due, but he will not accept it; he will not abate the claim, but yet he cannot be pleased with the victim. No way of escape remained but redemption–the creature must be saved by the substitution of a lamb in its place; or if not redeemed, it must die. My soul, here is a lesson for thee. That unclean animal is thyself; thou art justly the property of the Lord who made thee and preserves thee, but thou art so sinful that God will not, cannot, accept thee; and it has come to this, the Lamb of God must stand in thy stead, or thou must die eternally. Let all the world know of thy gratitude to that spotless Lamb who has already bled for thee, and so redeemed thee from the fatal curse of the law. Must it not sometimes have been a question with the Israelite which should die, the ass or the lamb? Would not the good man pause to estimate and compare? Assuredly there was no comparison between the value of the soul of man and the life of the Lord Jesus, and yet the Lamb dies, and man the ass is spared. My soul, admire the boundless love of God to thee and others of the human race. Worms are bought with the blood of the Son of the Highest! Dust and ashes redeemed with a price far above silver and gold! What a doom had been mine had not plenteous redemption been found! The breaking of the neck of the ass was but a momentary penalty, but who shall measure the wrath to come to which no limit can be imagined? Inestimably dear is the glorious Lamb who has redeemed us from such a doom.

All rights belong to the collection of Charles Spurgeon(C)


Be A Bearean Acts 17:11-Now the Berean Jews were of more noble character than those in Thessalonica, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true.

Be A Bearean
Acts 17:11-Now the Berean Jews were of more noble character than those in Thessalonica, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true.

August 19, 2013
Turning Point
Judges 2:1-5

The angel of the LORD went up from Gilgal to Bokim and said to the Israelites, “I brought you out of Egypt into this land that I swore to give your ancestors, and I said I would never break my covenant with you. For your part, you were not to make any covenants with the people living in this land; instead, you were to destroy their altars. But you disobeyed my command. Why did you do this? So now I declare that I will no longer drive out the people living in your land. They will be thorns in your sides, and their gods will be a constant temptation to you.”

When the angel of the LORD finished speaking to all the Israelites, the people wept loudly. So they called the place Bokim (which means “weeping”), and they offered sacrifices there to the LORD. (Judges 2:1-5)


This event marks a significant shift in Israel’s relationship with God. At Mount Sinai, God made a sacred and binding agreement with the Israelites called a covenant (Exodus 19:5-8). God’s part was to make Israel a special nation (Genesis 12:1-3), to protect them, and to give them unique blessings for following him. Israel’s part was to love God and obey his laws. Because they rejected and disobeyed God, however, they would face severe consequences related to their disobedience. This was just what God had promised would happen (Deuteronomy 28:15ff).

But God wasn’t going to abandon his people. His promise remained valid: He would continue to make Israel a nation through whom the whole world would be blessed—fulfilled in the Messiah’s coming. God still wanted the Israelites to be a holy people, and he often used oppression to bring them back to him, just as he warned he would do (Leviticus 26; Deuteronomy 28). The book of Judges records a number of instances where God allowed his people to be oppressed so that they would repent of their sins and return to him.

God invites you to be part of his work in the world, and one big way is by obeying his word and the leading of his Spirit. Jesus was the perfect example of what that kind of life looks like. He accomplished what Israel could not. His life reminds us that we will not always be comfortable or safe from harm, but we will be given new bodies and new lives. And we will be with God forever.


Are you living in harmony with God’s word, his work, and his world? Is there something in your life that you’re still holding onto, afraid to give up, or not wanting to miss out on? Remember God’s promises of what is to come. Take time to read Isaiah 65:17 and think about all you could miss out on by not obeying God


What River Crossing are you at?



River Crossing
Joshua 3:1-17

The priests will carry the Ark of the LORD, the Lord of all the earth. As soon as their feet touch the water, the flow of water will be cut off upstream, and the river will stand up like a wall.”

So the people left their camp to cross the Jordan, and the priests who were carrying the Ark of the Covenant went ahead of them. It was the harvest season, and the Jordan was overflowing its banks. But as soon as the feet of the priests who were carrying the Ark touched the water at the river’s edge, the water above that point began backing up a great distance away at a town called Adam, which is near Zarethan. And the water below that point flowed on to the Dead Sea until the riverbed was dry. Then all the people crossed over near the town of Jericho.

Meanwhile, the priests who were carrying the Ark of the LORD’s Covenant stood on dry ground in the middle of the riverbed as the people passed by. They waited there until the whole nation of Israel had crossed the Jordan on dry ground. (Joshua 3:13-17)


The Israelites were eager to enter the Promised Land, conquer nations, and live peacefully. But first they had to cross the flood-level waters of the Jordan River. God gave them specific instructions: in order to cross, the priests had to step into the water. What if these priests had been afraid to take that first step? Often God provides no solution to our problems until we trust him and move ahead with what we know we should do.

The Israelites crossed the Jordan River in the spring, when it was overflowing its banks. God chose the time when the river was at its highest to demonstrate his power—parting the waters so that the entire nation could cross on dry ground. Some say that God used a natural occurrence (such as a landslide) to stop the waters of the Jordan; others say he did it by a direct miracle. In either case, God showed his great power by working a miracle of timing and location to allow his people to cross the river on dry ground. This exhibition of God’s supernatural power served to encourage the Israelites’ hope in God and to gave them a fearsome reputation among their enemies, who greatly outnumbered them.

God had parted the waters of the Red Sea to let the people out of Egypt (Exodus 14), and here he parted the Jordan River to let them enter Canaan. These miracles showed Israel that God keeps his promises. God’s presence among his people and his faithfulness to them made the entire journey from Egypt to the Promised Land possible. He was with them at the end of their wanderings just as he had been with them at the beginning.


What obstacles are you facing in your life? What is keeping you from moving forward? Is God calling you to take a step of faith? God may clear your path only after you begin to walk forward in faith. Remember how he has been with you in the past, and trust that he will continue to go with you





God has wonderful plans for your life

What’s in store for you?

The Lord will guide you continually, watering your life when you are dry and keeping you healthy, too.

Isaiah 58:11 NLT

Guide me, O Thou great Jehovah,
Pilgrim through this barren land;
I am weak, but Thou art mighty;
Hold me with Thy powerful hand;
Bread of heaven,
Feed me till I want no more,
Feed me till I want no more.


A step at a time


Wouldn’t you like to know now what is in store for you a year from now? God leads us a day a time, a step at a time. No need to worry about distant events. The Welsh hymn writer William Williams compared the Christian life to the Israelite‘s trek through the wilderness. We may not know the route by which God is leading us, but we humbly count on His guidance.

As a college student, Williams prepared for a career in medicine. But one Sunday morning he heard a man preaching in a Welsh churchyard. Williams responded in faith, and his life was radically changed. For forty-three years he preached and sang throughout Wales. “He sang Wales into piety,” said one writer. He was the poet laureate of the Welsh revival. Soon, all of Wales was singing their way to the coal mines and soccer matches. And their favorite hymn was this marching song by one of their own: “Guide me, O Thou Great Jehovah.…Songs of praises I will ever give to Thee.”

Adapted from The One Year Book of Bible Prayers (Tyndale House) entry for January 12


Content is derived from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation and other publications of Tyndale Publishing House


July 6, 2013 God’s Word

JOHN 1:1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

JOHN 1:1
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

July 6, 2013
Strained Devotion
Deuteronomy 1:6-18

“When we were at Mount Sinai, the LORD our God said to us, ‘You have stayed at this mountain long enough. It is time to break camp and move on. Go to the hill country of the Amorites and to all the neighboring regions—the Jordan Valley, the hill country, the western foothills, the Negev, and the coastal plain. Go to the land of the Canaanites and to Lebanon, and all the way to the great Euphrates River. Look, I am giving all this land to you! Go in and occupy it, for it is the land the LORD swore to give to your ancestors Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and to all their descendants.'”

Moses continued, “At that time I told you, ‘You are too great a burden for me to carry all by myself. The LORD your God has increased your population, making you as numerous as the stars! And may the LORD, the God of your ancestors, multiply you a thousand times more and bless you as he promised! But you are such a heavy load to carry! How can I deal with all your problems and bickering? Choose some well-respected men from each tribe who are known for their wisdom and understanding, and I will appoint them as your leaders.'” (Deuteronomy 1:6-13)


As Moses looked back on Israel‘s history, his summary of their 40-year journey begins at Mount Sinai, not in Egypt. Why did Moses leave out the first part of the Exodus? Moses was not giving an itinerary—he was summarizing the nation’s development. In Moses’ mind the nation of Israel began at Mount Sinai when God gave his covenant to the people (Exodus 19–20).

Along with this covenant came knowledge and responsibility for Israel. After choosing to follow God, they had to know how to follow him. God, therefore, gave them a comprehensive set of laws and guidelines that stated how he wanted them to live: These instructions are written in Exodus, Leviticus, and Numbers. The people could no longer say they didn’t know the difference between right and wrong. Now that the people had promised to follow God and knew how to follow him, they had a responsibility to do it.

Like Israel, we too have a knowledge and a responsibility. We don’t just have God’s law, we also have God’s Spirit. But God has given us his own Spirit for knowing and responding to him. Together with the Bible, God’s Spirit will lead us into all truth (John 14:17). It’s our responsibility to listen to and obey the Spirit’s leading (Galatians 5:25).


If you feel like it’s hard to hear and know God’s Spirit, be confident that God’s Spirit is in harmony with God’s Word. If you are looking for a way to tune in to what God is saying, you can start by really listening to and obeying the Bible. As you do, you’ll develop an ear for the voice of God in your life.





June 9, 2013
Got Your Back
Leviticus 25:35-55

“If one of your fellow Israelites falls into poverty and cannot support himself, support him as you would a foreigner or a temporary resident and allow him to live with you. Do not charge interest or make a profit at his expense. Instead, show your fear of God by letting him live with you as your relative. Remember, do not charge interest on money you lend him or make a profit on food you sell him. I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt to give you the land of Canaan and to be your God.” (Leviticus 25:35-38)


The Bible places great emphasis on assisting the poor and helpless, especially orphans, widows, and the handicapped. In Israelite society, no paid work was available to women; thus, a widow and her children had no livelihood. Neither was work available for the seriously handicapped in this nation of farmers and shepherds. The poor were to be helped without charging any interest. God said that neglecting the poor was a sin. Permanent poverty was not allowed in Israel. Financially secure families were responsible to help and house those in need.

Many times we do nothing, not because we lack compassion, but because the size of the problem overwhelms us and we don’t know where to begin. God doesn’t expect you to eliminate poverty, nor does he expect you to neglect your family while providing for others. He does, however, expect that when you see an individual in need, you will reach out with whatever help you can offer, including hospitality.


Ask God to open your eyes to the desperate needs of people in your world. Consider what you can do to help alleviate those needs, to show compassion in Christ‘s name. Then pray for the courage and wisdom to respond to the needs you see.


ISAIAH 52:12

But you will not leave in haste or go in flight; for the LORD will go before you, the God of Israel will be your rear guard.




Feast Of Trumpets

Speak unto the children of Israel, saying,
In the seventh month, in the first day of the month,
shall ye have a sabbath, a memorial of blowing of trumpets,
an holy convocation.
Lev 23:24

The shofar was used for many purposes such as:

  • To summon Moses to the top of the mountain to receive the Commandments (Exodus19:19-20).
  • To give a signal during time of war (Judges 3:27).
  • To proclaim the start of the Jubilee year (Lev. 25:9).
  • To anoint a new king during coronation service (1 Kings 1:34).
  • To regather the outcasts of Israel (Isa. 27:13).
  • To warn the people of danger (Amos 3:6).
  • To declare the arrival of the Messiah (Zech. 9:14).


Sofar calls

Shofar sounding the Tekiah: the “blast,” one long blast with a clear tone.

Shofar sounding the Shevarim: a “broken,” sighing sound of three short calls.

The Teruah: the “alarm,” a rapid series of nine or more very short notes.

The Tekiah Gedolah: “the great Tekiah,” a single unbroken blast, held as long as possible.

A combination of Tekiah, Shevarim, Teruah, ending with a Tekiah Gedolah.

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God will fight for you

Have you had a “Jericho” experience?

Be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.

Joshua 1:9 NLT

Taking Jericho

Imagine this scene for a minute. You’re a captain in Joshua’s army camped a few miles outside the city of Jericho. You’ve seen the thick, double-layered stone walls surrounding the city and armed soldiers guarding every entrance. You’ve heard tales of the fierce Canaanite army and their ability to hold their ground in battle.

In the midst of all of this, an edict comes down from the upper ranks. Israel is planning to take Jericho. Actually, what the message says is that Israel has already taken Jericho, but Jericho just doesn’t know it yet. The battle plan is really no plan at all. You’re supposed to get your troops together and conduct a victory march around the city. Just once — for six days in a row. Then on the seventh day you’re to march seven times around the city. That’s when your soldiers can march in and take possession.

The next day you’re marching around the city, and you can’t help but hear the taunts coming from inside the walls. You know how silly this all looks, but you keep marching just the same. Because you know that God is on your side, and you’ve seen what he can do.

This is why God reminded Joshua time and again to “be strong and courageous.” God has a way of working that tends to fall outside the norm, and he needs people who trust him enough to go the distance, no matter how bizarre the game plan. Courage is important to God because courage is a natural byproduct of trust. And the greater we trust, the braver we become. As long as God leads the battle, we can march in confidence, knowing that we’ve already won. God gave Jericho to Israel on the seventh day, just as he said he would. So,…what wall does he have you marching around?

from Embracing Eternity by Tim LaHaye, Jerry Jenkins and Frank M. Martin, Tyndale House Publishers (2004), p 76


Are We Being The Branches That ARE Bearing Fruit?

Jesus is the Vine



Sermon #3248 Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit 1
Volume 57 1
NO. 3248



“You eat of the vineyards and olive groves which you did not plant.”
Joshua 24:13.

[Other “Olive” Sermons by C. H. Spurgeon are as follows—#1569, Volume 26—THE GOLDEN LAMP AND ITS GOODLY LESSONS; #3176, Volume 55—THE BEAUTY OF
THE OLIVE TREE; #3175, Volume 55—“PEACE! PERFECT PEACE!”; #3190, Volume 56—CHRIST IN GETHSEMANE; #3208, Volume 56—THE FAITHFUL TREE and
#3226, Volume 56—FIGS AND OLIVES—Read/download all these sermons free of charge at ]

THE Israelites, when they came into Canaan, entered into possession of a country which was thoroughly prepared
for their occupation. There were walled cities and houses exactly adapted for their use and in habitable repair. The vineyards were in full bearing and the hills terraced ready for cultivation. They were not like emigrants to the wild west
who have to clear forests and turn over prairies! They had not even to take possession of ruined cities and to rebuild
them! For the most part, everything stood waiting for them, “houses full of all good things,” and even “the old corn of
the land” stored up for their immediate use! Moses had promised them that it would be so and Joshua reminded them of
the promise when it had become a fact.
As the Holy Spirit shall help us, let us first learn from the text as it referred to Israel. And then, taking the general
principle here mentioned, let us learn from their case to consider our own, for we also enjoy that which we have neither
produced nor earned.
I. First, then, LET US LEARN FROM THE TEXT AS IT REFERRED TO ISRAEL. They entered into possession
of wells which they had not dug, cities which they had not built, olive trees and vineyards which they had not planted.
In the first place, this was a fulfillment of the ancient Covenant. Although all the details of these blessings to Israel
were not mentioned in the Covenant made with Abraham, yet they were virtually included—and Moses mentioned them
very particularly in the 6th Chapter of Deuteronomy when he told the people to beware lest they should forget the Lord
who brought them out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. So that every time an Israelite walked out into
his olive garden and especially when he beat the tree to bring down its fruit, he could say to himself, “Here is the fulfillment of the promise made to our fathers.” If he was a truly devout Jew, he would never gather the grapes from his vineyard, nor drink of the milk, nor taste the honey which abounded in the land without recognizing that as the Lord had
spoken, so the Lord had done! Jehovah had not fallen short of His promise in any respect—He had brought His people
into just such a country as He had aforetime covenanted to bestow upon them! Now, Beloved, are not we also in very much the same position as Israel was with regard to many things around us?  Why, even in temporals it is so! No good thing have we lacked, though we have sometimes feared that we would. As our days, our strength has been—and we can truly say that the Lord has been mindful of His Covenant and that not one of His promises has failed. This is especially the case as we recollect the answers God has given to our prayers. He long ago gave the promise, “Before they call, I will answer; and while they are yet speaking, I will hear.” And I, for one, have proved its truthfulness and desire to bear my testimony to the faithfulness of the Covenant-keeping God! Cannot you do the same, dear Friends? Why, I think you can hardly go into any room in your house—you cannot go to your beds, you cannot sit down at the table, you cannot walk along the street and I know that many of you cannot come to your pews in this place without thinking—“Here are the tokens of my Lord’s faithfulness,goodness and truth!” You who have lived to see 60 or 70 summers have witnessed great varieties of weather, but you can bear your testimony that according to 2 Gathering Without Planting Sermon #3248

2 Volume 57
God’s Covenant, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, and day and night have not ceased! The outside world is hung with testimonies to the faithfulness of God—
“His Covenant with the earth He keeps!
My tongue, His goodness sing.
Summer and Winter know their time,
His harvest crowns the Spring.”
But, dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ, when we come to think of what the Lord has done within us, can we look
anywhere in our hearts, or to any faculty of our minds without perceiving evidences that the Lord is keeping His Covenant? He said, “A new heart also will I give you”—has He not given it to us? What is that heart that sorrows over conscious imperfection—what is that heart that longs after fellowship with God—what is it but that new heart that He has
given to us? The Lord also said, “A new spirit will I put within you”—and what is that spirit of adoption whereby we
cry, “Abba, Father”? What is that spirit which exults with delight in the Presence of God but that new spirit which He
has put within us? Has He not kept His promise? Has He not given to us a sense of pardon, a consciousness of justification
through faith in His dear Son? All the work of the Holy Spirit within the heart, if I were to speak upon it in detail,
would only be a testimony that the Lord keeps the Covenant of His Grace which He made with us in the Person of Jesus
Christ, His Son, even as He kept with Israel that ancient Covenant which He made with Abraham, with Isaac, and with
“Firm as the lasting hills,
This Covenant shall endure,
Whose potent shalls and wills
Make every blessing sure!
When ruin shakes all Nature’s frame,
Its jots and tittles stand the same.”
But, secondly, these blessings were to Israel pledges of all the rest of the Words of God. In that 6th Chapter of Deuteronomy where Moses speaks of the people having houses full of all good things which they did not fill, and wells which they did not dig, and vineyards and olive trees which they did not plant, he also commanded them to keep the Words of the Lord in their hearts, to teach them to their children, to talk of them as they sat in the house or walked by the way, to bind them upon their hands and as frontlets between their eyes and to write them upon the posts and gates of their houses. Do you see what was the drift of the argument of Moses? Was it not just this—If God’s Words of promise have Been so rich and so weighty that they have brought Israel into the possession of the land flowing with milk and honey, should not Israel now guard most jealously all the Words of God? I know how the children of God learn to prize His promises. Their soul has lived by the month together upon a single promise, and it has been enough to feast their spirits. In another time of distress they have rested upon another promise and in this way, through their experience, the promises have become exceedingly precious to them!

This kind of experience should teach us the preciousness of the Word of God as a whole so that we would not part
with a single letter of it and would not give up even the dot of an i or the cross of a t! I always deprecate the spirit which
tries to tamper with the Word of God. I admire them who have sufficient knowledge of the ancient manuscripts of the
Scriptures to tell us, as nearly as they can ascertain them, what were the original Hebrew and Greek words, but I dearly
deplore that kind of spirit which, after the style of a destructive parrot, seeks to tear the Scriptures to pieces and to rob
the children of God of their priceless possession! Why, even a solitary Divine precept is so precious that if all the saints in
the world were burnt at one stake for the defense of it—it would be well worth the holocaust! If the whole of us went to
prison and to death for the preservation of a single sentence of Scripture, we would be fully justified in making such a
sacrifice. If I were to ask some of the broad school of the present day whether there is any Doctrine in the Bible that
would justify a person in being a martyr for it, I believe they would be compelled to answer, “No. The whole thing is a
mere matter of opinion to us.” But it is not a matter of opinion to us! The Word of God is to us an Infallible Revelation
of the Eternal Truth of God and that part of it which has already been proved to be true to us is the seal and pledge that
the whole of it is true and precious! When the Israelite walked in the olive groves and vineyard that he had not, himself,
planted—and when he ate the olives and grapes, he would see in them pledges that all the Words of God would be fulfilled as surely as that one promise had been! Sermon #3248 Gathering Without Planting 3
Volume 57 3
Thirdly, these people, in entering into possession of vineyards and olive groves which they had not planted, must
naturally have regarded them as reminders of God’s judgments upon sin.” “I sit under this olive tree,” mused the devout
Israelite, “and I eat of its fruit. I walk in this vineyard, gather the grapes and eat them. I did not plant these trees and
vines, yet they are mine—how came I by them? Where are their original owners? They were slain by Joshua at the command of God because of the shameful abominations with which they filled the land.” And the lesson that a gracious man would learn from this would be, “I must, therefore, cleave closely to the one living and true God and must not set up
idols in His place. And I must diligently seek to know His will and to do it, so that I may not offend the great Jehovah
whose wrath is so terrible against evil of every kind.”

There is something, dear Friends, in your position and mine, which is analogous to this. We live in a land of many
privileges, yet we must not forget that other inhabitants were here before us—and that druidic and other abominations
were swept away! And even since we have flourished as a nation, other nations have been destroyed. Let them be warnings to us and let us not continue to grieve the Most High by national sins which might well bring down upon us the
righteous judgments of God! Especially do we need to be on our guard against the Popery that is seeking again to enslave
and degrade this fair land of ours—and at all costs to defend that faith for which our forefathers suffered and died!
Then, next, these vineyards and olive groves, possessed by those who had not planted them, were claims upon them
for service. They were commanded by Moses to love with all their heart, and soul, and might that God who had given
them the land flowing with milk and honey and all the blessings that they found in it. All He asked of them was that they
should worship Him, alone, dedicate to Him the tenth of all their substance and seek to make the whole land to be holiness unto the Lord. Because He had brought them up out of Egypt and settled them in Canaan, they were bound to be
His faithful servants. And, Beloved, how many voices are calling upon us who have been spiritually brought up out of
Egypt into the place of Covenant privileges to serve the living God! Let others serve whomever they will—we are bound
to the Lord by the cords of a man and the bands of love! If you, my Brother, forsook the service of the Most High, whose
service could you enter? Where could you find a king or prince worthy of your homage and devotion? There are some of
us here to whom it is our very life to serve our God! His love has won us and will hold us fast forever! If the Israelite, sitting under his olives and vines, felt that He was so deeply indebted to God that He must serve Him, much more should
you and I, sitting under the Tree of Life which bears all manner of fruits, feel that we are not our own, but are bought
with a price and that, therefore, we will henceforth serve Him who has given to us such priceless blessings! Do you not
feel thus, Beloved? I trust that the Holy Spirit will press this Truth of God home upon your hearts that it may be worked
out in your lives.
II. Now, having spoken thus concerning the children of Israel, and somewhat also concerning ourselves, I want to
First as the Israelites ate the fruit of the tree which they had not planted, we have many similar blessings which impose corresponding obligations upon us. It would be impossible for me to go over the full list of the things which we have
which are like cities which we did not build, like houses which we did not furnish, like trees which we did not plant and
garden plots which we did not till. The great hulk of the things that we have—and certainly all the best things—are
pure gifts of God’s Grace bestowed upon us freely out of the goodness and love of His heart!
In the very forefront we must put the great blessings of the Covenant. We had nothing to do with our own election
unto Eternal Life. He who chose us, chose us according to His own good pleasure. He knows why He chose us, but that
reason is not known to us and certainly cannot be found in ourselves! I never met with anybody who ever thought that he deserved to be chosen unto salvation—the very fact of the choice proves that it must have been all of Grace. Then as to the blessed redemption which is in Christ Jesus, we have been washed in a Fountain that we never filled and we are this day clothed in a righteousness that we did not weave! No, we did not even arrange one thread of that spotless robe! The blood and righteousness of Christ become ours purely by an act of His Grace. It would be a most monstrous thing for
anybody to say that he deserved that Christ should die for him—such a Sacrifice as He offered on Calvary’s Cross must
have been one of pure unmingled Grace! It would be a mistake in language, a contradiction in thought even to suggest
that there was some measure of deserving about any of those sinners for whom Christ died! Oh, no! This good olive tree is
one that we did not plant! This vine is of the Lord’s own right-hand planting—and the oil and the wine that flow from
them are the gifts of God’s Grace! What I have said about election and redemption applies equally to adoption, sanctifi-4 Gathering Without Planting Sermon #3248
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cation and all the other blessings of the Covenant. These are fruits from a tree that we did not plant—God has given
them to us freely of His Grace.
This general principle also applies very specially to the record of these priceless gifts of Grace, that Book of God
which has been well called, “the God of books.” Every leaf of that Book is of more value than a bank-note for millions of
pounds! Every line is more precious than diamonds and every letter is worth more than the costliest gems. You know well enough, dear Friends, that you and I never wrote even a single letter of that blessed record—it is as much as we can do to understand it—and even that is not possible without the teaching of the Holy Spirit! We can scarcely calculate how
much we owe to those “holy men of old” who, under the Spirit’s guidance, planted this vineyard from which we are continually gathering such rich clusters! Think, too, how much we are indebted, under God, to those who were the means of preserving this record and handing it down to us, often at the cost of their own lives. Every page of this Bible is, as it
were, splattered with the blood of the martyrs, yet we have not had to pay that price for it—we draw the life-giving water out of wells that we did not dig and eat the fruit of the sacred tree that we did not plant!
Then, Beloved, think of the ministry of the Word by which the Scriptures are opened up to us. How is it that we have
the Gospel preached today in this land without let or hindrance? We owe it largely to the humble men and women, tailors, weavers and the like, yes, and to faithful ministers and even bishops who would not give up the Truth of God in the dark days of our country’s past history. That “candle” of which brave Hugh Latimer spoke to Bishop Ridley is still
alight in England, but we did not light it, nor have we had to suffer as they and thousands of others did to keep it alight!
We scarcely realize how much we owe to those true heroes of the faith of whom Foxe tells us in his martyrology, and to
the many others whose names are unknown to us—and whose praises are unsung by men! When we talk of our open Bible, and of this free England of ours, and when we observe the ordinances of our holy religion as they were instituted by Christ, Himself, let us never forget that these are like the vineyards and olive groves of Canaan which the Israelites did
not plant, but of which they enjoyed the fruit!

Think, also, how much we owe to those who struggled and suffered to obtain for us the civil and religious liberty
which is our heritage today. There are some of our old sanctuaries still standing where our godly ancestors met to worship God five miles away from the nearest market town lest their minister should be fined or imprisoned for daring to
speak publicly in God’s name! Whenever I visit such places, the tears come into my eyes as I think of those good men still
standing fast in poverty and disgrace—and proclaiming that Gospel which they have handed down to us! In the gracious
Providence of God, we enjoy liberty which I fear we do not value half as much as we ought. So, tonight, as we sit in these
olive groves and vineyards which we did not plant, and as we eat the comforting and refreshing fruit, let us bless the Lord
for the happy lot which has been so graciously prepared for us!
I have thus mentioned a few of the many blessings that make up our goodly heritage. And you can, each one, apply
the general principle to your own case. I need, in closing, to remind you of the obligations imposed upon us by these
blessings which have been provided for us. I think that our first obligation is to humility. What have you there, worthy
Israelite? “A good crop of olives.” But how did you get those olive trees? You certainly did not plant them and you did
not build that fine house, nor lay out the vines that are growing all round it. Oh, no! You drove out the old owner and
God gave it to you for your own possession! You are living in a city that is enclosed by solid walls composed of massive
stones, but you did not build it—you would not even know how to move the stones and set them so firmly one upon
another. Ah, there were giants or giant-like men in those old days who did all that for you—and you are now virtually
living in an almshouse which the great God of Canaan had allowed others to fit up for your reception!
And that is very much the condition of every one of us. As for myself, I am a gentleman commoner dependent upon
the daily bounty of God—and I suspect that most of you who are now present are in a similar position. Whenever we
begin to grow proud because we are getting on in the world, how foolish we are—and the proudest man is the biggest
fool! We are all fools when we are proud at all—and as we increase in pride, we increase in folly. Have you, my Friend,
ten talents entrusted to you? What an anxiety it must be to you to use them aright for your Master! I am almost sorry for
you that you have such a responsibility. Yet you are proud of it—then I am still more sorry for you. There is nothing to
be proud of in being in debt—and you are in debt to your Lord for those ten talents, for He only lent them to you and
He will expect to receive from you an account of how you have put them out to interest on His behalf! The more we have, Sermon #3248 Gathering Without Planting 5
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the more we are indebted to God—so, in proportion as His mercy to us rises, let us sink in our own esteem and lie at His
feet in adoring humility!
Our next obligation is to gratitude. When the Israelites came out of Egypt, they brought very little with them. A
miracle was continually being worked so that their clothes waxed not old during their long wandering in the wilderness.
Their food dropped daily from Heaven and water to quench their thirst poured out from the smitten Rock—they were a
company of paupers grandly sustained by their God! And when they entered into possession of the promised land, where
were their title-deeds? They could not trace their ownership through a long line of ancestors, but every conveyance contained just one sentence, “The Lord your God gave you this land.” They owed everything to the goodness of God and,
therefore, they were bound to be grateful to Him! And we who realize that every good thing that we have received has
come to us by the free favor of our God, are bound to be grateful to Him. I hope we are in a measure grateful to Him, but
when we contrast our gratitude with the blessings which God has given us, we thank Him for what we feel, but we mourn
that there is so little of it. May He give us Grace to feel far more grateful than we have ever yet been!—
“Oh let my house a temple be,
That I and mine may sing
Hosanna to God’s majesty,
And praise our heavenly King!”
Our next obligation is to faithfulness. When a man receives an inheritance to which he has contributed nothing
whatever, he is at least bound to keep up the estate. I have already reminded you that we have come into the possession of a Bible that we did not write, a Gospel that we could never have invented and the ministration of the Word has been
maintained in this land by those who have gone before us, so that we have come into this glorious inheritance like the
heirs to a family estate! Now, the very least thing that we can do is to keep up the estate. Others died to preserve it intact
for us, so let us not allow it to suffer as long as we have the care of it. If I had been one of the Israelites in Canaan, I think
I would have said to myself, “I will keep this place with the utmost care, so that it shall not be injured while it is in my
charge. I have only a life interest in it, so I will pass it on to my successor in as good a condition as when I entered into
possession of it.” So, Beloved, let not the Gospel suffer any loss by you. The Church of God is put in trust with it, so let
not future generations have to say concerning this period in which we are living, “There was a sad degeneration at that
particular time. Christians were not steadfast, then—they trifled with Truth of God—they wanted something new.
Worldlings called them fools and they began to think they were. They ran after this philosophy and that, and left the
grand old Gospel of the Grace of God, or adulterated it with the so-called wisdom of men, which is foolishness in the
sight of God.” I pray that this may not be the case, but that God will raise up a great host of those who will maintain the
Truth, unsullied, and hand it down to posterity uninjured. You did not plant the vines and olive trees, so do not cut
them down! You did not dig the well from which you are drawing water, so do not let anybody fill it up. Be faithful to
God at all times—contend earnestly for the faith once delivered to the saints—and let it never suffer at your hands.
There is also our obligation of service to coming generations. Who planted those vines and olive trees? Those who
came before us. Then let us plant more for those who will come after us. Other people maintained the Truth in years gone
by and taught it to their children—and their children taught it to us—so let us teach it to our children that in due
course they may also teach it to their children! We do not believe in oral tradition as an authority in the Church of God,
but we do believe in oral instruction as a most important agency in propagating the Truth of God. Books are too often
left unread—we need living men to speak the Living Word! Do not any of you imagine because your children can get
good books, that you are exonerated from speaking to them personally about their souls! Mother, you are the best instructor that your child can have. Father, your loving, gracious talk with your boy will have more effect upon him than
any book you can give him. Even the Bible itself he may leave unread when he leaves home—but if you have spoken earnestly and affectionately to him and prayed with him while he was under your roof, he will not be able to forget that! The teaching of the children is the very bulwark of Christianity and Protestantism—and the teaching should be given to
them by their own parents if they are Christians, or in our Sunday schools and Ragged schools if the parents are not
themselves qualified to give it. Why, if we neglect the rising generation, surely our fathers’ blessings upon us will curdle
into curses! They taught us and prayed with us—and their parents taught them and prayed with them—and therefore
there is a godly seed still in the land! 6 Gathering Without Planting Sermon #3248
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So shall we now neglect to train our own children, or shall our Sunday schools lack teachers, as is so often the case? I
pray that it may not be so with you, my Brothers and Sisters in Christ. In whatever part of London or anywhere else that
you dwell, search out the schools where teachers are needed and offer your services. I speak especially to you who have
ripe experience, for it is not right that this important service should be left to boys and girls. God bless the young people
who are doing their part of the work so well—but why should not middle life with its vigor, and even old age with its
sweetness and maturity, be found in the Sunday school? We have inherited from our ancestry what we are bound to pass
on to our posterity! If I could, I would be a blessing to all succeeding ages as well as to the one in which I am living. So,
Brothers and Sisters in Christ, do all the good you can while you live—and leave a gracious memory behind you when
you are no longer here. Plant as many vines and olive trees as you can, for though you may not be spared to gather the
fruit from them, somebody will reap the benefit when you have been called to higher service! I like that kind of benevolence which does not always ask to see those whom it blesses, but which finds satisfaction in doing good simply for the Glory of God. Try to be disinterested—do not say, “I must see something for my money.” Oh, no, no! Your wondrous inheritance of innumerable blessings, for which you never toiled, came to you from the unseen source of Divine, Eternal Beneficence, so seek to catch something of that same spirit by building cities, digging wells, furnishing houses and planting vineyards and olive groves for those whom you will never see until, by Grace, you meet them in the general assembly and Church of the First-Born in your Father’s House on high!
2 PETER 1:9-21.

[This is concluded from Sermon #3245, Volume 57—OUR POSITION AND OUR PURPOSE—
Read/download the entire sermon free of charge at

9. But he that lacks these things is blind, and cannot see afar off. He is short-sighted. He has some light, and some
physical sight, but he cannot see at a distance. Spiritually, he is blind.
9. And has forgotten that he was purged from his old sins. It is a great mercy not merely to see men as trees walking,
but to have clear spiritual vision. There is a great deal of dust that gets into our eyes—and there is no way of clearing
out that dust and becoming long-sighted, getting a sight that can see to Heaven—except by getting that spiritual life
which manifests itself in faith, virtue, knowledge, temperance, patience, godliness, brotherly kindness and love.
10. Therefore, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if you do these things you shall
never fall. This is the second time that Peter writes about giving diligence. We are told not to be slothful in business and
this matter of which Peter write is the most important of all business! To prosper in this world may bring some advantages, but to prosper in heavenly things is infinitely better! “Give diligence to make your calling and election sure”—
that you may be sure of it and that others may be sure of it, too. Let it not continue a subject of question with you, “Am I
the Lord’s, or am I not? Am I called by Grace, am I chosen by God, or am I not?” Make these things sure beyond all
11. For so an entrance shall be supplied unto you abundantly into the everlasting Kingdom of our Lord and Savior
Jesus Christ. [See Sermon #123, Volume 3—PARTICULAR ELECTION—Read/download the entire sermon, free of charge, at You
shall get far into the Kingdom—you shall know the innermost joys of it! You shall get near the King and you shall became like the King—and when you come to die, you shall not be tugged into the harbor like a dismasted, water-logged
vessel, but you shall go in like a full-rigged ship with all sails set! And so you shall have an abundant entrance into the
fair haven of Eternal Happiness. May God grant us this unspeakable blessedness, so that we shall not “be saved, yet so as
by fire” but that we shall find our Heaven begun below—and go from Heaven below to Heaven above scarcely knowing
any change at all! There have been saints who have found the stream of Christ’s love running so strongly and carrying
them down to the great ocean of Eternal Life, that they have scarcely known where the river and the ocean have met!
12. Therefore I will not be negligent to put you always in remembrance of these things. He who exhorts others to be
diligent must not himself be negligent. And Peter most appropriately writes, “Therefore I will not be negligent to put
you always in remembrance of these things.” Sermon #3248 Gathering Without Planting 7
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12. Though you know them, and are established in the present truth. We need to preach the Truth of God continually, for even those who know it need to be reminded of it again and again. Truth unpublished is like seed laid up in a florist’s shop—it does not produce any result. We need to have the Truth constantly sown in our hearts and watered by the
Holy Spirit that it may grow and bring forth fruit.
13. Yes, I think it meet, as long as I am in this tabernacle, to stir you up by putting you in remembrance. When
people are as they should be, it is worthwhile to stir them up. You do not want to stir up dirty water, but you may stir
that which is pure and sweet as much as you like. And a good fire sometimes becomes a better one by a little stirring up.
14. Knowing that shortly I must put off this, my tabernacle, even as our Lord Jesus Christ has showed me. The Lord
had told Peter how he was to die. He had told him that he would die by crucifixion—“When you shall be old, you shall
stretch forth your hands, and another shall gird you and carry you where you would not.” He knew that the day of his
martyrdom was approaching and so, being Divinely warned, he was the more earnest to preach as a dying man to dying
men! I have sometimes heard, as a criticism of that expression of Baxter’s about a dying man preaching to dying men, the remark that it would be better as living men, to preach to living men. It is quite true that we must throw all our life into our preaching, but, as a rule, living men are never more truly alive than when they are under a due sense that they are also dying men! When we realize that eternity is very near us and we are consciously drawing near to the Great Judgment Seat of Christ, than all our faculties are fully awakened and our whole being is bent on doing the Master’s work with the utmost vigor and earnestness!
15. Moreover I will endeavor that you may be able, after my decease, to have these things always in remembrance.
When we are gone from the earth, we want the Truth of God that we have spoken to live on after us. We want, even from
our graves, to continue to speak for Christ. Therefore it was that Peter kept on repeating the same Truth over and over
again. He hit this nail on the head many times and sought to clinch it—so that when he was gone, it would not move
from its place, but would remain firmly fixed.
16. For we have not followed cunningly devised fables. He had no retractions to make as he came towards the close
of his ministry. He did not have to say that, after all, he had been greatly mistaken—there had been an advance in theology since Jesus Christ had died and he was sorry to say that he had preached a good deal when he was young which he would like to unsay now that he was old. Oh, no! Peter held fast to what he had previously preached because he knew
that it was the very Truth of God! And the other Apostles had done the same, so that Peter could write, “We have not
followed cunningly devised fables”—
16. When we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of His
majesty. Peter was one of the three who saw the Lord Jesus Christ in His Glory upon the Mount of Transfiguration—
and he recalls this.
17, 18. For He received from God the Father, honor and Glory when there came such a Voice to Him from the excellent Glory, this is My Beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. And this Voice which came from Heaven, we heard,
when we were with Him on the holy mount. Peter was not deceived about that matter! At the time, he and his fellow
Apostles had been overcome by the too-transporting sight, but they all knew that it was no vision, or dream, or delusion,
so Peter here speaks very positively concerning it. Why can we not receive the testimony of true witnesses such as Peter
and the other Apostles who sealed with their life’s blood the witness which they bore to their Lord and His Truth?
19. We have also a more sure Word of prophecy. Can anything be more sure than that which an eyewitness sees?
Well, Peter says that this prophetic Book, in which Holy Scripture is stored up is better to us than if we had even seen
Christ Himself! If any one thing is more sure than another, it is this blessed book—the Revelation of the Christ of God!
19, 20. Whereunto you do well that you take heed, as unto a light that shines in a dark place, until the day dawns,
and the day star arises in your hearts: knowing this first, that no prophecy of the Scripture is of any private interpretation. It is not to be kept by any man to himself. God spoke to Jacob at Bethel and we read concerning it, in Hosea 12:4,
“there He spoke with us.” With regard to the children of Israel rejoicing at the Red Sea, we read, in the 66th Psalm,
“There did we rejoice in Him.” The promises God made to this believing man or that, He makes to all believing men!
You remember that text, “He has said I will never leave you, nor forsake you”? That promise was first of all spoken to
Joshua, yet Paul quoted it in writing the Epistle to the Hebrews, as if it was spoken to every Believer—and so, indeed, it
is! No Apostle, no Prophet could hedge up a promise and say, “This was mine and nobody else’s.” It is a common herit-8 Gathering Without Planting Sermon #3248
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age of all the saints! Every promise is within the boundary of the Covenant of Grace, and all who are in that Covenant
are heirs of all the promises, to whomever they were made!
21. For prophecy never came by the will of man: but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.
This is the foundation of our faith—that this Book is Divinely Inspired! Allow nobody to make you doubt concerning
this matter, for you must give up Christianity, itself, if you give up the Inspiration of this Book! You have nothing else to fall back upon but this Book—and your own personal verification of it by the work of the Holy Spirit in your own soul!
To tamper with Inspiration is to tamper with the heart of true religion! The least doubt upon that matter is fatal. I mean
what I say and I know how desperately this mischief is working in these days in which we live. Men used to say, with the
famous Chillingworth, “The Bible and the Bible, alone, is the religion of Protestants.” And so it once was. Yet now it
seems to me that anything but the Bible is coming to be their religion but, as for us, we accept as authoritative nothing
that contradicts these Truths of God which are written in this Book! We mean to stand fast by these Truths, God helping
us. We can do no other, come what may in this evil age. “Holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.”
—Adapted from The C. H. Spurgeon Collection, Ages Software, 1.800.297.4307