Stephen Stivers - One More Mile - Menomonie, Wisconsin - 1970

There have been a few thoughts on my mind at this convention from Matthew 5, 6, and 7. Hymn 395 tells us to watch ‘one little hour with Him,’ and oh, so much can depend on us watching the one little hour with Him. Read this hymn over sometime and you will see what it says about us watching one little hour with God.

The 5th, 6th, and 7th chapters of Matthew speak of the foundation of Jesus and the crown of His teaching. I always thought these chapters were the first sermons of Jesus because they are found at the beginning of the New Testament, but then I noticed the last part of chapter 4, that says, “And there followed Him great multitudes of people from Galilee, and from Decapolis, and from Jerusalem, and from Judaea, and from beyond Jordan.” It seems these were the different places that Jesus had been before He gave that sermon on the mount. The multitudes, which were following Him, were weary from the journey, for they had come a long ways. In their hearts, I feel they believed in Jesus and wanted to hear and learn more about Him. His teachings would have guided them for the rest of their lives, yet they were weary. If only they had gone the extra mile with Him, oh, what wonderful truths they would have heard! I think Jesus had spoken these truths to them before, in some way or another, for it says He looked at the multitude before He went up the mountain and before His disciples went to where He was. I could just picture those people all gathered on the plain below waiting for Him, yet if they had climbed the mountain with Him, what wonderful truths they would have heard that could have encouraged them to their dying day. It would have prepared them to face the unseen battles and experiences that still lay head of them. So often we miss these opportunities because we are not prepared to go that extra mile with Jesus. The multitude that day missed those wonderful teachings of Jesus because they were weary. If they had travelled that extra mile with Him, they would have heard truths that would fit them for all Eternity. I just continued thinking about this foundation and crown of Jesus’ teachings today. It we knew how to put these things into our lives, they would better prepare us to see the Lord and help us enter into His kingdom. To enter His kingdom, everyone must be tested and tried. Jesus was testing that multitude that day to see whether they would follow Him.

We read of others in the Bible who got weary on the journey too, yet they faced the enemy anyway. If we are to get that victory, that wonderful gracious victory and worthwhile crown, we must put forth an effort. We might get tired at times and even a little bit discouraged— you know how it is— yet we see the prize ahead of us. Even in the face of discouragement, can we not be faithful for just one more hour? I thought of one or two people in my lifetime who fought a losing battle and they fell down. Life didn’t last very long for them after that. Had they only been faithful for just another hour, another mile, oh, what rejoicing their portion would be today; instead, everything they had labored for was completely lost!

In Matthew 5:2, it says, “.... He opened His mouth, and taught them”. What gracious words were spoken, words that met the needs of all who were discouraged. I wonder what kind of words we speak sometimes; do they help and encourage another or do they discourage our brother?

Verse 3, “Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” Verse 4, “Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.” There are many different reasons why we mourn—perhaps it’s for the loss of a loved one, and that is all right, but I don’t think there is any reward in that. We may mourn because of our foolishness in days gone by, but there’s not much reward in that either. I looked into the Scriptures and found an example of that woman who mourned in her spirit, and she was comforted. We find that example in 1st Samuel 1:10 - “Now Hannah, she spake in her heart; only her lips moved, but her voice was not heard:” She was mourning. I see a picture here of God’s people at that time, and of Eli and his sons, who were supposed to be a guide to God’s people, yet they were unfaithful. Eli and his sons should have been guiding the Lord’s people, but instead, we see them as wicked men, the men of Belial. The feeling Hannah had in her heart was, “If only I could do something for the people of God, as the time is coming when no one will guide them." Perhaps she thought she wasn’t called to lead those people, but the prayer of her heart was for a son, who could be a leader, a guide, and a servant of God, and would take the place of Eli and his sons. She went up into the temple and prayed, and Eli saw her. He had very little discernment of truth and righteousness, for when he saw Hannah pour out her heart to God, he thought she was drunk, and he told her so, but Hannah replied, “No, my lord, I am a woman of a sorrowful spirit: I have drunk neither wine nor strong drink, but have poured out my soul before the Lord,” and Eli responded in this spirit, “Go in peace: and the God of Israel grant thee thy petition that thou hast asked of Him.” Hannah knew then what the condition of God’s kingdom was. Verse 20 says, “Wherefore it came to pass, when the time was come about after Hannah had conceived, that she bare a son, and called his name Samuel, saying, 'Because I have asked him of the Lord.'” She gave birth to a son, and gave him back to God. Then we read that Hannah had a song. She had done what she could.

This is a wonderful picture of someone who mourned for the kingdom of God, when the kingdom was suffering loss. We look out into the world today and see souls perishing, and the great need in God’s harvest field. Maybe it’s not possible for you to go out yet you can have a prayer in your heart, like Hannah. You can raise up to God an honest prayer, like she did, and be comforted too. The mother of Timothy did the same thing; we read very little about her but we’re told that Timothy had a faithful mother and grandmother. His father was a Greek, and we don’t think he had much time for God. I have tried to picture Timothy’s mother teaching him in his early years and then the time coming when he made that supreme sacrifice. It doesn’t say she mourned, because she saw the need in the world.

Verse 5, “Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth. Meekness is not cowardliness; a meek person is a brave person, one with a backbone. There are many types of people in this world, yet the people of God must have a backbone. I looked into the scripture and found an example of Moses, a very meek person. We’re told he was the meekest man in the earth. Then I looked at some of the examples in his life and I see a very meek man. He went up into the mount and received the commandments from God, and he was there for 40 days and 40 nights. We see how the children of Israel went out eagerly toward the promised land in the beginning. I believe Moses was praying for all them who waited at the foot of the mount. I believe he prayed for the captains by name, beseeching his God to guide them through the wilderness, to the promised land, those captains of hundreds and captains of thousands, and he asked God that they be given wisdom and understanding, as temptations and trials awaited them in the wilderness. Moses would have poured out his heart to God, asking Him to favor them. What did he find when he came from the mountain? These people were questioning “Where is this man, Moses? We don’t know where he is.” They had encouraged Aaron to make a golden calf to go before them. Sometimes we overlook the little things and feel it won’t make much difference. I remember one woman, a Jehovah Witness, when it was mentioned to her that ladies’ hair should be long, she said, “That is just a little thing.” Many little things will become a big thing. The golden calf was just a little thing, not the great big cow that was worshipped in Egypt, but the little calf was the pattern of it. People sometimes say, “No, I won’t have a great big drink and get intoxicated, I will only have a little one," but others can pattern themselves after that. The little calf was just the small pattern of the worship in Egypt.

We visited a woman once, who in many ways was very zealous and faithful, but she had an altar in her home – not a large altar, only a small one. My companion explained to her why we didn’t have such things. In the scripture it tells us that the children of Israel worshipped the little calf they made. Here was Moses up on the mountain, crying to God in favor for the children of Israel. Exodus 32:7-10 says, “And the Lord said unto Moses, 'Go, get thee down; for thy people, which thou broughtest out of the land of Egypt, have corrupted themselves: They have turned aside quickly out of the way which I commanded them: they have made them a molten calf, and have worshipped it, and have sacrificed thereunto, and said, 'These be thy gods, O Israel, which have brought thee up out of the land of Egypt.'' And the Lord said unto Moses, 'I have seen this people, and, behold, it is a stiffnecked people: Now therefore let Me alone, that My wrath may wax hot against them, and I may consume them: and I will make of thee a great nation.'” Moses said, “Don’t make a great nation of me.” He was interested only in the children of Israel, and he didn’t want God’s wrath poured out on them. It says in verse 12, “Wherefore should the Egyptians speak, and say, 'For mischief did he bring them out, to slay them in the mountains, and to consume them from the face of the earth? Turn from thy fierce wrath, and repent of this evil against thy people....'” verse 14 – “And the Lord repented of the evil which He thought to do unto His people.”

Moses might have doubted that these people would do such a thing. I can just picture him going down the side of the mount and seeing the children of Israel bowing down before that golden calf. Moses prayed for them – those who weren’t following and doing what he left them to do. That is another sign of his meekness—Moses praying for his enemies.

Remember that time Aaron and Miriam got their heads together and said, “Hath the Lord indeed spoken only by Moses? Hath he not spoken also by us? And the Lord heard it.” Numbers 12:5, “And the Lord came down in the pillar of the cloud, and stood in the door of the tabernacle, and called Aaron and Miriam; and they both came forth.” I have tried to picture what was in the heart of Miriam then. You will remember God’s conversation with them and the cloud lifting off the tabernacle, and Miriam being leprous, and white as snow. Both cried out to Moses, saying, “Alas, my lord, I beseech thee, lay not the sin upon us, wherein we have done foolishly, and wherein we have sinned.” Moses could have thought, "If only I had been a better brother, she wouldn’t have erred." This is another sign of his spirit of meekness – to see his brother fail and say, "I should have had a different spirit toward them."

David was another meek person we read about. Remember how he showed that mark of meekness in his life when he was planning to build the temple and God said, “No,” and then God gave him the reason why. How would you feel in his place after sacrificing so much to build it and what would you have done? His human nature could have destroyed all the material he had gathered, but David didn’t do that; he did everything in his power to help Solomon build the temple. This is just another example of meekness.

For 40 years, Moses prayed and sacrificed so he could lead the children of Israel to the Promised Land; perhaps it was even 80 years. It was his hope to take them there after years of laboring, praying and suffering to do it. It would be a big disappointment for him to hear, "Moses, you can’t go." What would you do in that circumstance? Moses prayed to God that He would give him someone that would take these people into the Promised Land. Joshua was given that opportunity and Moses did everything in his power to encourage him to do what he couldn’t do himself. We should be encouraging each other for it is the sign of meekness. Many people who are not on the battlefront encourage those who are. It is a wonderful sign of meekness. If these marks are found in you, they will prepare you to be a citizen in God’s kingdom. Put your best into those things that pay best when life is over.