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Bible Reading--Matthew 16.
The Pharisees and Sadducees had been tempting Jesus to show them a sign from heaven. He showed them that they could discern the signs that appeared on the face of the sky, and yet could not discern the signs of the times. He would give them no sign to satisfy their unbelieving curiosity, remarking that a wicked and adulterous generation sought after a sign, and that no sign would be given to them, but the sign of the prophet Jonah. A wicked and adulterous generation stumbles over the story of Jonah, but faith can see in that story a wonderful picture of the death, burial and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ.
After Jesus had departed from the Pharisees, and had come to the other side of the lake, He said to His disciples, “Take heed, and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees.” The disciples began to reason among themselves; and all they could think of was that they had taken no bread. What were they to do? Then Jesus uttered these words, “O ye of little faith!” He had been so long with them, and yet they were still a great disappointment to Him, because of their lack of comprehension and of faith. They could not grasp the profound spiritual truth He was bringing to them, and could only think about having brought no bread. “O ye of little faith! Do ye not yet understand, neither remember the five loaves of the five thousand, and how many baskets ye took up? Neither the seven loaves of the four thousand, and how many baskets ye took up?”
At one time Jesus said to Peter, “What thinkest thou, Simon? of whom do the kings of the earth take custom or tribute? of their own children or of strangers?” Peter said, “Of strangers.” Then Jesus said, “Then are the children free. Nevertheless, lest we should offend them, go thou to the sea, and cast a hook, and take up the fish that first cometh up; and when thou hast opened his mouth, thou shalt find a piece of money; take that, and give unto them, for me and thee.” Peter had been at the fishing business all his life, but he never had caught a fish with any silver in its mouth. But the Master does not want us to reason things out--for carnal reasoning will always land us in a bog of unbelief--but just to obey. “This is a hard job,” Peter may have said, as he put the bait on his hook, “but since You told me to do it, I'll try;” and he cast his line into the sea. There were millions of fish in the sea, but every fish had to stand aside and leave that bait alone, and let that fish with the piece of money in his mouth come up and take it.
A woman came to me in Cardiff, Wales, who was filled with ulceration. She had fallen in the streets twice through this trouble. She came to the meeting and it seemed as if the evil power within her purposed to kill her right there, for she fell, and the power of the devil was rending her sore. She was helpless, and it seemed as if she had expired. I cried, “O God, help this woman.” Then I rebuked the evil power in the name of Jesus, and instantly the Lord healed her. She rose up and made a great to-do. She felt the power of God in her body and wanted to testify all the time. After three days she went to another place and began to testify about the Lord's power to heal. She came to me and said, “I want to tell everyone about the Lord's healing power. Have you no tracts on this subject?” I handed her my Bible and said, “Matthew, Mark, Luke, John--they are the best tracts on healing. They are full of incidents about the power of Jesus. They will never fail to accomplish the work of God if people will believe them.”
There is where men lack. All lack of faith is due to not feeding on God's Word. You need it every day. How can you enter into a life of faith? Feed on the living Christ of whom this Word is full. As you get taken up with the glorious fact and the wondrous presence of the living Christ, the faith of God will spring up within you. “Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God.” Rom. 10:17.
Jesus asked His disciples what men were saying about Him. They told Him, “Some say that thou art John the Baptist; some, Elias; and others, Jeremias, or one of the prophets.” Then He put the question, to see what they thought about it, “But whom say ye that I am?” Peter answered, “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.” And Jesus said to him, “Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-Jona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven.” It is simple. Who do you say He is? Who is He? Do you say with Peter, “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God”? How can you know this? He is to be revealed. Flesh and blood does not reveal this. It is an inward revelation. God wants to reveal His Son within us and make us conscious of an inward presence. Then you can cry, “I know He is mine! He is mine! He is mine!” “Neither knoweth any man the Father, save the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son will reveal Him.” Seek God until you get from Him a mighty revelation of the Son, until that inward revelation moves you on to the place where you are always steadfast, unmoveable, and always abounding in the work of the Lord.
There is a wonderful power in this revelation. “Upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven; and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth, shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” Was Peter the rock? No. A few minutes later he was so full of the devil that Christ had to say to him, “Get thee behind me, satan; thou art an offense unto me.” This rock was Christ. He is the Rock and there are many scriptures to confirm this. And to everyone who knows that He is the Christ He gives the key of faith, the power to bind and the power to loose. Stablish your hearts with this fact.
I had been preaching on this line in Toronto, endeavoring to show that the moment a man believes with all his heart God puts into him a reality, a substance, a life; yea, God dwells in him, and with the new birth there comes into us a mighty force that is mightier than all the power of the enemy. A man ran out of the meeting, and when I got home that night he was there with a big, fine, tall man. This man said to me, “Three years ago my nerves became shattered. I can't sleep. I have lost my business. I have lost everything. I am not able to sleep at all and my life is one of misery.” I said to him, “Go home and sleep in the name of Jesus.” He turned around and seemed reluctant to go; but I said to him, “Go!” and shoved him out of the door.
The next morning he rang up on the telephone. He said to my host, “Tell him I slept all night. I want to see him at once.” He came and said, “I'm a new man. I feel I have new life. And now can you get me my money back?” I said, “Everything!” He said, “Tell me how.” I said, “Come to the meeting tonight and I'll tell you.” The power of God was mightily present in that evening meeting, and he was greatly under conviction. He made for the altar, but fell before he got there. The Lord changed him and everything in him. He is now a successful businessman. All his past failures had come through a lack of the knowledge of God. No matter what troubles you, God can shake the devil out, and completely transform you. There is none like Him.
One day I was traveling in a railway train where there were two sick people in the car, a mother and her daughter. I said to them, “Look, I've something in this bag that will cure every case in the world. It has never been known to fail.” They became very much interested, and I went on telling them more about this remedy that has never failed to remove disease and sickness. At last they summoned up courage to ask for a dose. So I opened my bag, took out my Bible, and read them that verse, “I am the Lord that healeth thee.” It never fails. He will heal you if you dare believe Him. Men are searching everywhere today for things with which they can heal themselves, and they ignore the fact that the Balm of Gilead is within easy reach. As I talked about this wonderful Physician, the faith of both mother and daughter went out toward Him, and He healed them both, right in the train.
God has made His Word so precious that, if I could not get another copy, I would not part with my Bible for all the world. There is life in the Word. There is virtue in it. I find Christ in it; and He is the One I need for spirit, soul and body. It tells me of the power of His name and of the power of His blood for cleansing. The lions may lack and suffer hunger, but they that seek the Lord shall not want any good thing. Psalm 34:10.
A man came to me at one time, brought by a little woman. I said, “What's up with him?” She said, “He gets situations, but he fails every time. He is a slave to alcohol and nicotine poison. He is a bright, intelligent man in most things, but he goes under to those two things.” I was reminded of the words of the Master, giving us power to bind and loose, and I told him to put out his tongue. In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ I cast out the evil powers that gave him the taste for these things. I said to him, “Man, you are free today.” He was unsaved, but when he realized the power of the Lord in delivering him, he came to the services, publicly acknowledged that he was a sinner, and the Lord saved and baptized him. A few days later I asked, “How are things with you?” He said, “I am delivered.” God has given us the power to bind and the power to loose.
In another place a woman came to me and said, “I have not been able to smell for twenty years; can you do anything for me?” I said, “You shall smell tonight.” Could I give anybody that which had been lost for twenty years? Not of myself, but I remembered the Rock on which God's church is built, the Rock Christ Jesus, and His promise to give to His own the power to bind and loose. We can dare to do anything if we know we have the Word of God behind us. In the name of the Lord Jesus I loosed this woman. She ran all the way home. The table was full of good things, but she would not touch a thing. She said, “I am having a feast of smelling!” Praise the Lord for the fact that He Himself backs up his own Word and proves the truth of it in these days of unbelief and apostasy.
Another person came and said, “What can you do for me? I have had sixteen operations and have had my ear drums taken out.” I said, “God has not forgotten how to make ear drums.” I anointed her and prayed, asking the Lord that the ear drums should be replaced. She was so deaf that I do not think she would have heard had a cannon gone off. She was as deaf afterwards as it was possible to be. But she saw other people getting healed and rejoicing. Has God forgotten to be gracious? Was His power just the same? She came the next night and said, “I have come tonight to believe God.” Take care you do not come in any other way. I prayed for her again and commanded her ears to be loosed in the name of Jesus. She believed, and the moment she believed she heard, she ran and jumped upon a chair and began to preach. Later I let a pin drop and she heard it fall. God can give drums to ears. All things are possible with God. God can save the worst.
Discouraged one, cast your burden on the Lord. He will sustain you. Look unto Him and be lightened. Look unto Him now.