Arthur Shearer - Belief, Little Things, The Holy Ghost - Dumaresq - 1969

The hymn says, "Our thoughts of days that lie ahead, Are filled with living hope in Him." Without hope, we cannot live. Someone has said that a hopeless person is a defeated person. God wants to put hope into our hearts and to encourage us.

I have been talking to a few old Friends. Some suffer from a little discouragement. Perhaps it is because of the end of the year drawing near and they have been fighting a good fight. Sometimes the adversary of our soul gets in a little upon us, and discouragement can keep us back from enjoying the best God has in store for us. It may be that as we grow older, we have not just got the same bodily strength to fight. You need bodily strength to fight against the opposition that is in the world. Above all, we need the strength that comes from God. God has gathered us together to put strength into us, so we will not suffer from discouragement.

Job could have been greatly discouraged and asked, "Why did God allow this, and why should I suffer like this?" when he was a man who was honouring God, but he never lost his confidence in his God as he went through these trials. He was able to say, "I know what God will do, will He plead against me with His great power? No, but He will put strength into me." If we have this confidence in God, it will carry us a long way.

Paul said, "I know Whom I have believed..." I used to read this and read another little word into it, "I know in Whom..." Then one day I noticed that the word “in” was not there. “I know Whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep that which I have committed unto Him against that day.” He was referring to the day when he was to stand in the presence of His Lord and Master, Jesus Christ. He knew the One whom he believed, and because of that he could trust Him for the future. He could leave things in God’s hands, and be content with what God sent and allowed.

"... and am persuaded that He is able to keep that which I have committed unto Him." The love of God constrained and compelled him to be the man he was. It was not for any worldly benefits. For the love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge (or, if we look at it like this) that is One died for all, then were all dead: and that He died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto Him which died for them, and rose again. That is a reasonable way of looking at things. If Christ had not died for us, we would be without hope in our hearts for this present life, as well as the life which is to come. We would all be dead. Christ has put a new life and hope into our hearts, and because of this we love Him, and because of what we enjoy in the family of God.

I am glad to be here. I look back to the time when I left that old Brothers home and started out in the work of God. It will soon be 45 years. I was very ignorant, and many things I did not know, but I am glad I had a little of the love of God in my heart, and with it there was, perhaps, a little rebellion too. Before I went very far, I found that I had many lessons to learn. God's lessons are not easily learnt, because we learn most of them by experience. We can be told many things, but until we experience things for ourselves, we do not learn, and it's not so easy to learn by experience. Whether easy or hard, we have got to learn them, and if we don’t, we will perish.

I am confident there is no one loves us like our God and our Father. We have all had earthly parents, and I do not think I knew how to appreciate my home life and my father, until I got away from home. My father was rather strict with us, but I found every time he corrected us, it was for our good. If we have earthly parents who chastise us for our good, we can safely trust them. Paul could say, "I know because He was speaking from experience." We know that in all things, not in some things, God works together for good, to them that love Him and are the called according to His purpose. When God called us, He had a purpose for us, and we saw that purpose that God wanted to change our course in life, and make us more Godly, and a little more after the beauty and perfection we would see in Jesus. God wants to do us good. In every experience Paul passed through, flogged, beaten, cast into prison, shipwrecked, all sorts of things. He knew that out of every experience good would come, and because he had experienced all those things he was able to say, "Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?" Who, or what shall separate us from the love of Christ, if we have proved for ourselves the goodness, kindness, and love of God, this wonderful fellowship and sense of security that we enjoy in the family of God.

He enumerated many things, and said none of these things can separate us from the love of Christ. No power on earth could rob him of what he had in Christ. When we see the value of what we have in Christ Jesus, we will think like that. Paul saw what he had, and he kept the goal continually before him, and allowed nothing to come between himself and that, to impair his vision of the prospects that were his in the family of God. "Yea, doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord; for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ, and be found in Him..."

He went on to say more. He had his eye on the goal, had a single eye. He was looking ahead, not looking back. "This one thing I do, forgetting those things that are behind..." That’s a hard thing to do. Some of the experiences we have had in life, sometimes we have been misunderstood and chastened, corrected, but those experiences are behind us and we have learned from them. Forgetting the things which are behind, Paul said, "I press toward the mark for the prize..." He was throwing his whole weight in, going ahead. He had seen the prize, seen the goal, and if we keep that before us, it will keep us going on and prevent us getting discouraged.

In Proverbs 30:24-28, it speaks of four little things, not strong, feeble, but they have done great things. God has seen fit to turn our minds to these little things. We like to think about big things, but it's good to think about little, insignificant things. A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump. A little of the wrong thing: hardness, carelessness, bitterness, or indifference can spoil our lives and rob us of our eternal goal. I have seen a Brother or a Sister allow a little bitterness to creep in and remain there, and after years, it has spoilt the life of that person. A little of the right leaven will likewise enrich our lives. Jesus spoke of leaven which a woman took and hid in three measures of meal till the whole was leavened. It was a very small beginning we had with God. I knew very little, but I knew I wanted to be right with God, and that early conviction I had remained with me and made it possible for me to enjoy the place I have among the people of God, and I can speak with some confidence and assurance of what God has done in my life.

I was thinking of God referring to an ant, such a tiny creature. Almost every day you put your foot on an ant or two or more. The ants are a people not strong, yet they prepare their meat in the summer. They work while they have opportunity. They do not wait for winter to come, or for the ground to be flooded with water. Then they would only die of starvation, but when the weather is good, they forage and go in different directions, sometimes singly, but you will always find there is another ant and not very far away. They are in communication. You might see one ant not fifty yards from the next ant, perhaps dragging the wing of a fly. He leaves it and goes to another ant, just touches him and he comes and helps. Sometimes it may take twenty ants to drag a beetle to the nest, and then they can’t get it down until they break it up and take it down little by little, and there it is preserved and kept. Go to the ant thou sluggard; consider her ways and be wise.

Sometimes we are foolish, but God wants to make us wise. "Which having no guide, overseer, or ruler, provideth her meat in the summer and gathereth her food in the harvest, when things are favourable." They seem to be guided by instinct. They have no ruler. We all like to be rulers and overseers, but someone has to take the place of a servant. The one who gets the greatest place in the home is the greatest servant, and I leave you to decide who is the greatest servant in the home. The ants work together, pull together, and live together. It is great if we can pull together and labour together. Look not every man on his own things but also on the things of others.

"The conies are a feeble folk, yet make their houses in the rocks." Why? It is because they know they are secure and safe there. The cony is a creature like a rabbit and we all have seen rabbits here. Rabbits never get very far from their home. For about sixty or seventy yards, they are the fastest creatures on earth. It does not pay them to get far from home. They make their burrows in the rocks, and feed near home, but when danger comes, they have tracks back to their home, and they get back to their security as fast as they can.

Is our security in this old world, in the investments we make, insurance policies? These things give us security for a little time but our greatest security and hope is in God. Our safety is in Him. We don't want to get too far separated from Him, live close to Him so we can flee to Him for refuge. "The LORD is my refuge and my strength." David was hunted for his life, but he knew he had a strong refuge in God. Through all he suffered, and the misunderstandings, he never lost his faith and hope in God, because he knew his security was in Him. God's people generally do not feel very strong. There is a lot of opposition, much that opposes us, but I have often loved reading and thinking over the times that Jesus spent with His disciples recorded in John 14, 15, 16, and 17. John was close to Jesus and he must have written what he wrote with God upon his hand. History tells us that the gospels were not written for many years after the death of Jesus. There were no notebooks or fountain pens like we have today. John had it in his mind and in his heart, that is the place for us to get the Word of God written.

John 13, "Having loved His own that were in the world, He loved them to the end." If that were written after the death of Jesus, it was a nice thought for a man to keep in his mind. It would keep his heart soft. Jesus never let His disciples down. He loved them with an unchanging love. That is the love He has for you and me. John calls himself the disciple who Jesus loved. Jesus was not partial. He loved all the disciples, but perhaps John was a little more conscious than the other disciples. We can be conscious of certain things, and perhaps sometimes unconscious of the goodness and love of God that comes through His people.

Psalm 27:13, "I had fainted..." He could not have kept going, "Unless I had believed to see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living," right here and now. Unsaved people talk about the goodness of God they are going to see on the other side when they pass from time into eternity. If we do not see the goodness of God in this day, we will be disappointed then. The Psalmist knew it was that that kept him going, "unless I had believed to see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living, I had fainted." John saw the love of Christ and never forgot.

In the 14th chapter, Jesus had gathered the disciples together, "Let not your heart be troubled. Ye believe in God, believe also in Me." They believed in Him, but He was telling them certain things now that He had not been able to tell them before. In the previous chapter we read where Jesus washed the disciple's feet and taught them a lesson in humility. Peter said, "You will never wash my feet." Jesus said, "If I wash thee not, thou hast no part with Me. What I do, thou knowest not now, but thou shalt know hereafter." They had not learned their lesson at this time. It takes time to learn the lessons God has to teach us, and God is not in a hurry. It was hard on Peter. Any one of them could have taken the place of a servant, but they did not. Jesus took it, "I have left you an example in humility."

Humility is a wonderful quality, just the opposite to pride, and pride has destroyed some of God's children. Humility will never destroy us. Humility is a stepping stone which always brings us down. Simeon said, “This child is set for the fall and rising again of many in Israel; and for a sign which shall be spoken against.” My experience is that we have to come down more than once. Let each esteem other better than themselves. It takes humility and the love of Christ to enable us to do that. If you esteem the Brother sitting beside you in the church, will you criticize, condemn, or find fault with him? No, you will respect him. If we could give people the respect God would like us to give each other in the family of God, it will enable us to go forward and think the best. Love thinks no evil, so it will enable us to see the best.

Let not you heart be troubled. They were troubled. Jesus Himself had been troubled and said, "Now is My soul troubled," when He was in Gethsemane. His sweat was like great drops of blood as He said, "Not My will but Thine be done." He bowed graciously to the will of His Father, but that did not mean He could not feel. He knew what was ahead of Him. We don’t know what is ahead of us, but He knew every day was a day nearer to the cross and He felt the burden of it. "Who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross..." because He looked beyond it. He thought of what it was going to do for mankind, and of the time when He would be back with His Father. He would be like a victorious man returning from the conflict, and is set down at the right hand of God. The shame that was heaped upon Him was no light thing to bear. He was spoken evil of. He had just a handful of friends but the whole world was against Him, especially the religious world. That was the One who said, "Let not your hearts be troubled..." He had triumphed in His trouble and could impart to them a little of the peace that comes as a result of us getting victory over the things that can disturb and upset us, and perhaps destroy our hope in Christ.

He spoke of the relationship between Himself and the Father. "I will pray the Father and He will send you a Comforter." They were worried, concerned, and troubled because Jesus told them He was leaving them. Thomas said, “We know not whither Thou goest, and how can we know the way?” Jesus gave him a simple answer to put his mind at rest. Jesus wanted to put an assurance and hope into them, a confidence that they would not be left alone. If we have God with us and for us, who can be against us? Lucian Garth once said, "If God is on our side we are in the majority." The hymn says, "Lord we are met together, a weak and helpless flock."

Jesus goes on to tell us more. He was putting assurance into their hearts that they would never be left alone. "I will come to you in the Spirit." The Holy Ghost was the Spirit that was in Jesus and the Father, and is the Spirit God wants to put into you and me and give an assurance that we are not standing alone. Jesus said, "This Comforter would bring all things to your remembrance whatsoever I have spoken unto you." Some of us have a good “forgettory” because it is easier to forget than to remember, but the things of the Spirit, God wants us to keep them. We want them to remain with us. Of the Comforter Jesus said, "He shall glorify Me." Those men were weak. Jesus had said, "Fear not little flock for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom," but in spite of that they must have felt weak and helpless, but that Spirit in them, His presence, would enable them to glorify Him, to make His name glorious.

In John 17, Jesus prayed for His disciples after He had done so much to confirm their faith and put lasting hope into them. "I pray not for the world, but for them... for they are Thine." All Mine are Thine and Thine are Mine. They were more to Him than the whole world. He shed His precious blood for the world, but now He knew this handful of disciples were the hope of the world at this time. "Ye are the light of the world." It was the Spirit of Christ in them. "Ye are the salt of the earth." Food is insipid without salt. Jesus knew it would be a better place as a result of their influences in the world.

He prayed for His disciples and then for others who would believe, right down to us today. We are here as a result of someone else being willing to give their life in the service of God. "That they may be one..." That is what God wants to see in us, one in heart and mind, one goal, one objective, one hope. "The glory which Thou gavest Me I have given them." He was not asking for the impossible. He does not ask the impossible of any of us. He does the impossible if we do the possible. The glory Jesus was giving them and those who believed in Him was nothing short of His presence. The Spirit that was in Jesus and in His Father is in the Spirit He puts into us. It is a little bit of Himself, the consciousness of His presence. If we are conscious of this, it will prevent us from doing anything that would bring dishonour to His name. The presence of Christ will make us one and will keep us together.