Jim Ratcliffe - Walking - Harare, Zimbabwe Combined Meeting - November 3, 1993

Uncle Jim gave out the hymn 106, "While the pages of life are turning and silently pass from our view." Before we sing this hymn, I want to say a few words about it. As I have grown older and especially over the last few months, I have been more conscious than ever that the pages of life are turning and that they are passing from our view. Each day is like a page; we know how many have passed but we have no idea how many are left. What is written on the pages of life cannot be erased.

I have thought of the chapters that those pages make up. First there is the chapter of our childhood, there's not much that we do to influence what is written in that chapter. Then comes the chapter after we got to know about God's way, or got to understand what God expects of us and we don't do anything about it. There's a chapter in my life that I wish was not there, and I cannot erase those pages. My only hope is that God will write "Forgiven" across them. We will not be forgiven unless we do the will of God.

Once we make our choice to serve God, that's the start of another chapter. Each day, we start with a clean white page. At the end of the day, something will be written on it and we cannot erase it. Jesus paid the price for us, to make provision so that God can write "forgiven" on the pages, when we have displeased Him and only once we have repented.

Now let's sing that hymn.

After a few short prayers, uncle Jim spoke to us again.

I don't have a subject for tonight. You may have heard of the two women who were talking about their Husbands' good points. One said, "My husband is so well read that he can talk on any subject for an hour without any problem." The other one said, "My husband can talk for an hour without any subject." I don't know if I am going to be able to talk for an hour without a subject tonight.

ONE OF THE THINGS I HAVE THOUGHT ABOUT RECENTLY IS THAT IT IS POSSIBLE TO WALK WITH THE PEOPLE OF GOD AND NOT WALK WITH GOD. I fear that. The only ones who can walk with God are those who are led by His Spirit every day and every hour You remember the parable Jesus told His Disciples. He told them about the ten virgins, five were foolish because they were walking with the other five and not with God. They did not have the Spirit of God. When Jesus was about to depart, He told His disciples, "I will not leave you comfortless;" John 14:16-18. The French bible says, "I will not leave you orphans." His Spirit will guide you. Jesus prayed that the Spirit of God would go with His disciples.

God wants us to be a Sacrifice. Jesus was a sacrifice. Paul said, "I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service." Romans 12:1 If we only do our duty, it is not enough. God wants our affection rather than perfection. You may have heard about the shepherdess in South America... The man she worked for said she could have the twin lamb which the mother had rejected. She reared it and it became a sheep. It went everywhere with her. She went to Convention and there she offered the sheep for a sacrifice to feed the people. Later when she gave her testimony, she mentioned that she had given her sheep as a sacrifice and now she wanted to be a sacrifice herself. She is in the work today. Jesus said, "If anyone compels you to go a mile, go with him two."

One must understand the setting. The law was that a Roman soldier could compel a Jew to carry his load for one mile. That would be their duty, Jesus said, "Go two." To go just one mile would be no different from anyone else, the Roman soldiers would hardly have been able to understand it if anyone had offered to carry their burden further than they had to. It is only when we go further than what is our duty that we get a reward. There is a little story about a little girl and a little boy. Mother said to the little girl, "Come and set the table." The little girl said, "Yes, Mamma." When she had finished, she said, "Mamma, is there anything I can do?" She was going the second mile. The little boy was asked to come and sweep the floor. He said, "Ah no, I swept it yesterday." He eventually did it unwillingly and left the broom and dustpan where it shouldn't be.

I was thinking, "Where in the world is the Truth of God preserved?" We have the word of God but it doesn't save us. God sent messengers with His truth. We see it in the home life in His people.

Timothy's Grandmother was faithful and his Mother was faithful and Timothy was faithful in preserving the Truth of God in their generations. Some Grandmothers help the children and others spoil the grandchildren. The worst thing is to give a child it's own way. A General was asked what one should teach a son to make him a good soldier, he said, "Teach him to deny himself." That will lead to obedience.

We were in a home once where there were children. Before we arrived, the father in the home spoke to the children and told them that the workers were coming for a visit and he said, "I don't want any noise. You can come and sit on the carpet and listen if you wish; we want to have a visit." The father never had to raise his voice, the children knew that he meant what he said. There was another home where there was a small child, smaller than a toddler, a crawler. The child crawled towards a table with a bowl of flowers on it, the father said, "Don't touch." The child stopped and hesitated then crawled further. It was told again, "Don't touch." Eventually, the child reached the table and looked around at the father... it got the victory ... it didn't touch. It had learned obedience very early. Some parents say, "When the child gets a little older, old enough to understand, we'll teach it." It's too late then.

When they start to serve the Lord, some say, "It's good enough. At least, they are trying." Don't say it. They must understand that they must give their best. Acts 20:35, Jesus said, "It is better (more blessed) to give than to receive." God gave the best that He had. Jesus went from village to village. Luke 8:1, "He went through every city and village preaching and showing the glad tidings of the kingdom of God and the twelve were with Him." Jesus sent His disciples in the same way. Luke 9:52 They were to go forth to sow the seed. We have a friend in West Africa who planted some seed. They were bean seeds and he had a good crop that year. We arrived there and we saw a bean vine hanging up all dried out full of bean pods. We asked him about it and he had it hanging there just to be able to look at and enjoy it. We said, "When you are finished with it, can we have it?" One day, he came over to our room and brought the vine in a packet. When he left, my companion and I crushed it all up to separate the beans from the chaff and once we had done that, we started to count the beans. My companion counted two hundred and I counted two hundred and my companion counted two hundred and I counted 199. I said, "Maybe we have dropped one." So we looked on the floor and we found one more. 800 beans from one seed. God is a giver even in the sense of nature. If we have our roots in the world, it leads to selfishness. A little boy was handed an apple and he held out his hand, another apple was handed to him and he held out his other hand. He was handed a third one to see what he would do and he opened his mouth. That is human nature, just keep on taking what we are given.

General Eisenhower was once asked what quality would make a man a good officer, he answered, "Selflessness." A good officer has to forget about himself and think about others and his country. 'Tis loving and giving that makes life worth living, 'Tis loving and giving that makes life a song.

I thought recently a little about the sayings of Jesus. It would make quite a good study for anyone to look up all the sayings of Jesus. The one I thought about was the one, "Men ought always to pray and not faint." There was a young worker once staying in a home where a man was dying slowly. He and his companion stayed there to help the wife all they could. The man died and the young worker had started to grow attached... he had grown careless in his prayer life. He gave up the work and later married that woman, and later stopped coming to meetings. Years went by and later he came back to the meetings, he was asked what it was that caused him to do that. He just said, "I failed to pray."

One person once said, "I am ashamed at how little time I spend on my knees." Another said, "I am ashamed at how much time I waste on my knees." I sometimes say we have two little dogs, "Hurry" and "Worry." When we get on our knees, Hurry is always around. If Hurry is not around, then Worry is around. They prevent us from giving the time we should. Jesus said, "I have given you an example." When Jesus went to be alone to pray, Peter and John lost their opportunity. God doesn't want our ability, He wants our willingness. My ability has often hindered me because I haven't felt a need. Ability in God's way can hinder us.