Thursday, 16 July 2015

Wedding — Lorena and Renan

On the 11th of July, Elen and I gave away our eldest daughter Lorena in marriage to Renan. Both are believers in fellowship in the assembly here in Pirassununga, and we pray that they may live for the glory of God. Some photos of the wedding:

Saturday, 14 February 2015

Differences between Ezra's and Nehemiah's lists

The table at the end of this post presents, side by side, two lists of the Jews who returned form the Captivity in Babylon during the days of Ezra and Nehemiah, but many discrepancies between the two lists have been pointed out in the past. I have no illusions about explaining authoritatively the reason for these discrepancies, but I intend to:

Tuesday, 27 January 2015

Simplified Time-line of the Old Testament

The historical narrative of the Old Testament is not uniform — sometimes the narrative flies over centuries in a few verses, sometimes it slows down and takes up a whole book to tell us about a period of thirty days. We will reap great benefits in our study of the OT if we understand this fact, and try and perceive the speed of the narrative.

The graphic below presents a global vision of the historical books of the OT (Genesis to Esther) plotted along a time-line that stretches from the Creation of the world to the birth of Messiah, the Lord Jesus Christ. Some key events (the Flood, the Exodus, etc.) are marked in the time-line, but the main purpose of the graphic is to show the period of time occupied by each book, and the chronological relation between the books.

Monday, 5 January 2015

What is God's testimony of me?

If we examine the occurrences of the Greek word martureo (“testify”; Strong’s nº 3140), we will notice that the Holy Spirit presents to us a very interesting picture of God testimony of His servants. The word is used 79 times in the Bible describing men testifying of other men, God testifying of His Son, etc. But only three times is it used in relation to God testifying of a human being. And these three occurrences present to us God’s servants in relation to the past, the present and the future.

Monday, 24 November 2014

Faith’s “Hall of Fame”


Most readers of this blog will be familiar with the list of men and women of faith in Hebrews 11. But many fail to notice that the list is not simply a haphazard collection of names, but a perfectly balanced, symmetrical exposition of acts of faith.

Saturday, 22 November 2014

Man of war and man of rest

David and his son Solomon and described in very different manners. Someone said of David: “A mighty valiant man, and a man of war” (I Sm 16:18), while the Lord Himself said of Solomon: “Behold, a son shall be born to thee, who shall be a man of rest; and I will give him rest from all his enemies round about” (I Ch 22:9). In these two men we have an illustration of our Lord Jesus Christ in two different periods: at the end of the Tribulation (David) and in the Millennium (Solomon).

David, the man of war who freed Israel from all her enemies, reminds us of the Lord Jesus as the one who on the cross, “having spoilt principalities and powers … made a show of them openly, triumphing over them” (Col 2:15), and the one who, at the end of the Tribulation, will be manifested as one who “in righteousness doth judge and make war … And out of His mouth goeth a sharp sword, that with it He should smite the nations” (Rev 19:11-16).

Solomon, the man of rest who received a kingdom without enemies, where peace and justice reigned, reminds us of the Lord Jesus and the kingdom of peace and rest that He will establish on Earth during the Millennium, when “the work of righteousness shall be peace, and the effect of righteousness quietness and assurance for ever. And My people shall dwell in a peaceable habitation, and in sure dwellings, and in quiet resting places” (Isa 32:17-18).

Having received deliverance from our enemies by the greatest Man of war, we await a kingdom of peace and rest under the authority of the greatest Man of rest. To Him be all glory!

© W. J. Watterson

Monday, 5 May 2014

Correction re Neo-Babylonian chronology

Dear readers,

My family's moto, since the 13th century, has been “Veritas vincit omnia” (“Truth conquers all”). What really matters, at the end of the day, is not what I think or what I prefer, but what is right.

In this post I would like to acknowledge that I was wrong in relation to the chronology of the Neo-Babylonian period (626 to 539 B.C.). What I have presented in written and spoken ministry (mostly in Portuguese) was wrong, and even though it is a detail which will only interest a small portion of the small readership of this blog, it is a detail that, to those who mind, really matters.

Thursday, 30 May 2013

A Still, Small Voice

Based on I Kings 19:11-18

The wind swooped down on aching wings,
Spreading forth its ageless fears,
Grasping rocks as one who clings
To hopeless dreams of bygone years;
    Anguished, screaming wind…
    But God was not in the wind.

And then an angry, swelling roar;
The Earth was trembling, raging
Like a stallion who no more
Can call the winds and take them racing;
    I felt my strength begin to shake,
    But God was not in the earthquake.

A fire next, burning hot,
Strong and proud as one who claims
To know each person’s hope and lot,
Spitting out its stubborn flames,
    Reaching up, higher and higher…
    But God was not in the fire.

And then a still, small voice;
“What doest thou here?” “I, Lord…”
“No, Elijah” (still a gentle voice!)
“I; I have kept my faithful word,
    Not by might, nor by power,
    But by My Spirit
. That is power!

Oh, Lord! How often do we scream,
And strain, and burn with human power;
Our lives, at times, would scarcely seem
To be depending on Thy power.
    Teach us, Lord, to cease our noise,
    And hear thy still and gentle voice.


© W. J. Watterson — 08/94

Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Grandma

A little poem written when Grandma Maxwell died, over twenty four years ago.


Oh Lord, how happy Thou must be
To have her now so close to Thee;
To see her bow before Thy throne
And give Thee fruits of all she’s sown.

Oh Lord, how happy she must be
To know Thee in Thy majesty,
To praise Thy name with rapturous song,
A special voice amidst that throng.

Oh Lord, how happy we should be
To see her leave, but not to flee;
We know she’s waiting for that day
When Thou shalt bring us home to stay.

Oh Lord, how happy then we’ll be,
United with herself and Thee;
We long to praise Thy name so blest,
And join her in her blissful rest.

(19/12/88)

Sunday, 13 May 2012

The only wise God

Three times in the Bible God is called "the only wise God", forming a little chiasmus:

A. Rom 16:25-27: Glory to the only wise God, who is powerful to stablish (confirm) us;

     B. I Tim 1:17: Glory to the only wise God;

A. Jude vs. 24-25: Glory to the only wise God, who is powerful to keep us.

There is definite progression in these three references:

i) To God is ascribed "glory" in Romans, "honour and glory" in I Timothy, "glory and majesty, dominion and power" in Jude;

ii) This praise to God is, literally, "unto the ages" in Romans, unto "the ages of the ages" in I Timothy, and "now, and unto all the ages" in Jude.

May we render praise, glory and honour, majesty, dominion and power to the only wise God, now, and unto all the ages. Amen.

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Which side is your heart?

Right, left, or centre?

I don’t care what the anatomists will say about the position of my heart; all I ask of the Lord is that my heart might be at my right hand, for “a wise man’s heart is at his right hand; but a fool’s heart at his left” (Ec 10:2).

May I realize the importance of my heart, and keep it with all diligence (Pr 4:23), giving it the place of honour, power and exaltation. Even if I lose health, wealth, friends and life, may I be found with my heart at my right hand.

Thursday, 10 November 2011

Loved, and gave Himself

To wrap up this little trilogy on the love of our Lord (see posts one and two), consider the only three times in the NT that we read of His love linked to the phrase “and gave Himself”:

  • In Ephesians 5:25 we read that He “loved the Church, and gave Himself for it”. His Bride and Body, bought with His life.
  • But His love was not just toward a collective entity; He also loved the individual believers that make up that Church. In v. 2 of the same chapter we read: “Christ also hath loved us, and hath given Himself for us”.
  • Ah, but read this: “The Son of God, who loved me, and gave Himself for me” (Galatians 2:20)! Can you get closer to the heart of God than that? Can you find a more amazing truth in the whole Universe?

It is glorious to think of His sacrificial love for His Bride, and precious to think that that love reached out to each individual in that Church. But my heart thrills with these precious, powerful, and personal words: He (the Son of God) loved me (poor, worthless me), and gave Himself for me!

The old hymn captures the sentiment beautifully:

Was it for me, for me alone,
The Saviour left His glorious throne,
The dazzling splendours of the sky?
Was it for me He came to die?

It was for me, yes, all for me,
O love of God, so great, so free,
O wondrous love, I'll shout and sing,
He died for me, my Lord and King!

Was it for me, sweet angel strains
Came floating o'er Judea's plains
That starlit night so long ago?
Was it for me God planned it so?

Was it for me the Saviour said:
"Pillow thy weary, aching head
Trustingly on thy Saviour's breast"?
Was it for me? Can I thus rest?

Was it for me He wept and prayed,
My load of sin before Him laid,
That night within Gethsemane?
Was it for me, that agony?

Was it for me He bowed His head
Upon the cross and freely shed
His precious blood, that crimson tide?
Was it for me the Saviour died?

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

The love of Christ

Having considered the love of our Lord Jesus, look with me now at the three times the NT uses the expression “the love of Christ”. All three are in the epistles, and the use of the name “Christ” emphasizes His deity:

  • Our security in Christ. In Romans 8:35 we learn that a Christian can be eternally sure that nothing, and no one, can ever separate him from the love of Christ. How can I think of losing my salvation if the Saviour loves me? A Christian is eternally sure of his salvation because he rests in the eternal love of Christ.
  • Our service for Christ. In II Corinthians 5:14 the emphasis is on our responsibility to proclaim the “ministry of reconciliation” (v. 18), because “the love of Christ constraineth us”. How can I not live for Him, if He died for me (v. 15)? How can I not talk about such love? The Christian is compelled to preach the ministry of reconciliation, because the love of Christ constrains him.
  • Our satisfaction in Christ. In Ephesians 3:19 the apostle speaks about the need to know the love of Christ in a personal, practical way. If we be strengthened with might by His Spirit (v. 16), and if by faith Christ dwell in our hearts (v. 17), we will know the love of Christ, which passeth all understanding. The Christian should desire, down here, to know the love of Christ.

The love of Christ is what gives me present and eternal security, stimulates me to dedicated and constant service, and satisfies the deepest aspirations of my heart.

Friday, 14 October 2011

Jesus loved …

Consider with me, briefly, the three different contexts in the New Testament where we read of the love of our Lord for individuals, in all of which He is called by the name “Jesus”.

  • An unquestionable love (John 11:3, 5). We read that “Jesus loved Martha, and her sister, and Lazarus”, and the recipients of that love had no doubt of it. How touching is their message to Him: “Lord, behold, he whom Thou lovest is sick”. The Lord loved them, and they knew it!
  • An unchanging love (John 13:23; 19:26; 20:2; 21:17, 20). Five times in his gospel John describes himself as the disciple “whom Jesus loved”. Not that John was the only one, nor even the special one — he simply appropriates for himself what was true of them all. But read the five passages, and notice how the circumstances are different one from the other. Whether the Lord is at the Supper or at Calvary, whether He looks on John at the foot of the cross, or away fishing with the others; no matter what the circumstances, no matter where John was, he was always “the disciple whom Jesus loved”. The Lord loved him, and loved him to the end!
  • An unmerited love (Mark 10:21). Here we have a different situation; a young man who loves his riches more than he loves the Lord Jesus. How tragically sad! Yet Mark tells us that “Jesus, beholding him, loved him”. What gracious, merciful, divine love!

He loved us when we had no merit, deserving only eternal condemnation. He loves us today with an eternal, unchanging love. May we rest in that love, secure in the knowledge that nothing can “separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:39).

Friday, 22 July 2011

Three foreign words

The Bible was mostly written in Hebrew (the Old Testament) and Greek (the New Testament) — although there are some exceptions to that rule. When we read from the King James, or a similiar version, these different languages are translated for us into English; except for some stray words (usually place-names) which the translators decided to transliterate (“write using the closest corresponding letters in another language”) rather than translate (“express the sense in another language”).

Consider three examples of foreign words that were not translated in our English Bible. They outline a life lived in fellowship with God.

The past: Ebenezer (“stone of help”, I Sam 7:12). Samuel said: “Hitherto [thus far] hath the Lord helped us”. The name given to the stone was a testimony to the faithfulness of God in helping His people.

The present: Mizpah (“watchtower”, Gen 31:49). Laban and Jacob recognized that the Lord would be continually watching over them and between them (neither of them trusted the other).

The future: Maranatha (“Come, Lord!”, I Cor 16:22). The epistle ends the same way as the Bible ends, with our blessed Lord’s coming as our hope, and His grace as our portion.

As we survey the past we can trace the faithfulness of a caring, loving Father carrying us in the arms of a wonderful Saviour through the power of the Holy Spirit. Granted, it hasn’t always been easy sailing! Many have been the difficulties, deep have been the valleys, frightening have been the storms, lonely have been the deserts; but Ebenezer! Thus far hath the Lord helped us! See Psa 34:19.

As we look around us today, may we never forget that the Lord is watching over us. Think of the grace and the glory involved in this. Consider the security and the solemnity of being under His constant gaze! Let your moderation be known unto all men, but be not bowed down with care for the morrow (Phil 4:5-6). Remember Mizpah — the Lord is watching!

As we try to pierce the darkness that lies ahead, all we see is this glorious hope, shinning in all the fresh beauty that only eternal truths possess: Maranatha! The Lord is coming! “Amen! Even so, come, Lord Jesus!” (Rev 22:20).

Ebenezer: He has brought me to this day; Mizpah: He will carry me through; Maranatha: He is coming to take me home!

Note: the examples above are transliterated in versions like the KJV, Darby, ASV, NASB, but translated in modern versions.

Tuesday, 4 January 2011

"Woman, …"

Only seven times in the Gospels do we read of the Lord Jesus calling a woman by this title. In various other occasions He uses the word “woman” in a general sense, but only seven times does He directly address a woman in this manner.

In four of these occasions the Lord is speaking to sinners; in the other three, He speaks to saved women. The first group of women present to us a picture of human nature in its relationship to God; the second group gives more emphasis to the virtues of the Lord in His relationship with us.

We in relation to God

a) Great perplexity and confusion (John 4:21), linked to our spirit. The natural man or woman does not know how to worship or serve God.
b) Great bondage and captivity (Luke 13:12), linked to the soul. Satan has humanity in his claws.
c) Great sin and guilt (John 8:10), linked to the body.
d) Great persistence and confidence (Matthew 15:28), resulting in salvation. What a precious example in this woman!

The Lord in relation to us

a) His purpose (John 2:4). His hour was not yet come; He came for the cross.
b) His provision (John 19:26). Even on the cross He had time, strength and interest enough to take car of the woman who had cared for Him during His infancy.
c) His care (John 20:15) in relation to a beloved disciple. Certainly He cares for us today also.

Thursday, 5 August 2010

Afflicted in our afflictions

“In all their affliction He was afflicted” (Is 63:9).

In days of affliction and pain, we tend to think that the Lord has forgotten us. When the days turn into weeks, and the weeks become months, and still the pain remains, our flesh becomes bolder. After eight or nine hours of intense, uninterrupted pain, we hear the tempter whisper: “Where is your God now?” (Ps 42:3).

During the last months I have experienced a little of this. So you can imagine my joy at reading these words this morning: “In all their affliction He was afflicted”. I am not alone in my pain. The Lord is near, and knows, because he suffers with me. Only He can truly say: “I know thy tribulation” (Rv 2:9).

Wednesday, 5 May 2010

I will guide thee with Mine eye

“I will instruct thee and teach thee in the way which thou shalt go: I will guide thee with Mine eye. Be ye not as the horse, or as the mule, which have no understanding: whose mouth must be held in with bit and bridle, lest they come near unto thee” (Ps 32:8-9).

Psaml 32, one of the seven penitential Psalms, portrays the blessing of walking in fellowship with the Lord. We can divide the Psalm in five beatitudes (five, in the Bible, is the number of grace):

a) the blessing of conversion to God (vs. 1-2);
b) the blessing of confession to God (vs. 3-5);
c) the blessing of care from God (vs. 6-7);
d) the blessing of God’s course (vs. 8-9);
e) the blessing of confidence in God (vs. 10-11).

All these things are very precious for the Christian; but I’ll only emphasise the secret to knowing the blessing of the course God has charted for His children. The Psalm shows that God desires to guide us, not like a horse or mule is driven, with bit and bridle — He desires to guide us with His eye! He wants us to be in such a close fellowship with Him, so well instructed and taught by Him, that there will be no need for bit nor bridle, for whip nor rod. He wants us to be able to discern the direction He desires, without needing to force and drive us like animals “which have no understanding”. He doesn’t want us to follow blindly the rein in His hand, but that we may look in His eyes, discerning there His heart and his desire!

What a precious picture! But how can we know this way and this course, unless we look in His eyes? May we learn with the psalmist: “The secret of the Lord is with them that fear Him … Mine eyes are ever toward the Lord” (Ps 25:14-15).

May we look ever to Him, so that we may know the blessing of the course He has charted.

Monday, 12 April 2010

Watch and pray

“Nevertheless we made our prayer unto our God, and set a watch against them day and night” (Ne 4:9).

Some Christians think that to properly trust in God we need to sit back and expect Him to do everything. But it is important to remember the words of our Lord to His disciples: “Watch and pray” (Mat 26:41). Not “pray and rest”, but “watch and pray”!

We should understand that God deals with us as He dealt with Israel in the case of Balaam; if we trust in Him, He will preserve us from those things that are beyond our power (as He did not allow Balaam to curse Israel, Deut 23:5), but He expects us to be on our guard against those things which are within our power (as He did allow Balaam to cause Israel to stumble through sensual immorality, Num 31:16).

May we follow the example of Nehemiah, praying to God to preserve and protect us, but also watching carefully, lest we fall prey to the enemy.

Pray always; never stop watching.

Monday, 5 April 2010

No other way but through

I have just come across a lovely poem by Annie Johnson Flint (1866-1932), entitle “A Red Sea Place”; a place where “there is no way out, there is no way back, there is no other way but through”. It’s beautiful, and refreshingly encouraging.

See for yourself:

A Red Sea Place

Have you come to the Red Sea place in your life,
Where in spite of all you can do,
There is no way out, there is no way back,
There is no other way but through?
Then wait on the Lord with a trust serene
Till the night of your fear is gone;
He will send the wind, He will heap the floods,
When He says to your soul "Go on."

And His hand will lead you through - clear through –
Ere the watery walls roll down,
No foe can reach you, no wave can touch,
No mightiest sea can drown;
The tossing billows may rear their crests,
Their foam at your feet may break,
But over their bed you shall walk dryshod
In the path that your Lord will make.

In the morning watch, ‘neath the lifted cloud,
You shall see but the Lord alone,
When He leads you on from the place of the sea,
To a land that you have not known;
And your fears shall pass as your foes have passed,
You shall no more be afraid;
You shall sing His praise in a better place,
A place that His hand has made.

Annie Johnson Flint

Monday, 29 March 2010

Powerful, Gentle Shepherd

“He shall feed his flock like a shepherd: He shall gather the lambs with His arm, and carry them in His bosom, and shall gently lead those that are with young” (Isaiah 40:11).

Sometimes (like here) the Bible surprises us. The Holy Spirit inserts an unexpected word or phrase, which doesn’t seem to have any link to the context. But the contrast makes the beauty of God’s Word shine even brighter.

Notice the context of this verse. Chapter 40 of Isaiah presents the awesome and amazing power of God. Note the richness of the poetical language, the beauty of the comparisons which portray the power of a God to whom the nations are as a drop of a bucket, and are counted as the small dust of the balance, a very little thing. All nations before Him are as nothing; and they are counted to Him less than nothing, and vanity. He calleth all the stars by their names and, sitting upon the circle of the Earth, He fainteth not, neither is weary.

There are not many portions of the Bible that describe in such richness of detail the power of God. But how does the section begin? With the thunder of His awesome power? No; with the gentleness of a Shepherd who gathers the lambs in His arms, and gently leads those that are with young! The same arms that manifest the great power of God, carry the little lambs gently.

How precious to rest in the arms of this Gentle, Powerful Shepherd and God!

Thursday, 18 March 2010

Much more than this ...

“And Amaziah said to the man of God, But what shall we do for the hundred talents …? And the man of God answered, The Lord is able to give thee much more than this” (II Chronicles 25:5-13).

King Amaziah had to chose: obey the clear order of the Lord and lose one hundred talents of silver, or keep what he had purchased and disobey God. Amaziah made the right decision, even though it brought him short-term loss: he lost the silver, lost the friendship of his brethren from Ephraim (v. 10), lost various cities, three thousand lives, and “much spoil” (v. 13). What a loss! There is no doubt, however, that God was pleased with his obedience. His infidelity in latter years doesn’t annul the promise of God through the prophet: “The Lord is able to give thee much more than this”.

What would I have done in a similar situation? Would I move to another town to be useful to God, even if it meant a lower wage at the end of the month? Would I do something the Lord told me to do in His word, knowing that my obedience would cost me the friendship of some of my brethren? Would I obey God, whatever the cost?

May God help us to understand that the Lord is able to give us much more than anything we lose for Him. If we suffer loss to do His will, we will be amply rewarded. Maybe not today, maybe not in this life; but through all eternity we will rejoice over the “loss” we suffered here on Earth, remembering how much, much more the Lord gave us!

Monday, 15 March 2010

There were good things

When Rehoboam, son of Solomon, forsake the Lord, God brought upon him the Egyptians. But the sacred text tells us: “And when he humbled himself, the anger of Jehovah turned away from him, that he would not destroy him altogether; and also in Judah there were good things” (II Ch 12:12, Darby’s translation).

Judah wasn’t totally destroyed on that occasion not only because Rehoboam humbled himself, but also because there were “good things” in Judah. What were these good things? Who were they? How many? We don’t know; but we do know that anonymous servants, serving God faithfully, preserved Judah in that day.

Brother or sister, remember that “if one member suffer, all the members suffer with it; and if one member be glorified, all the members rejoice with it” (I Co 12:26). Note that this is not an exhortation (“if one member suffer, all the members should suffer with it”), but a declaration: what happens with one member of the body will affect the whole, for better or for worse.

What a solemn truth! With what care should I walk, so as not to bring loss to the assembly where God has put me!

What a glorious truth! If I, by the grace of God, can be a “good thing” before Him, I can influence the whole assembly!

Even if no one sees what I do, and I be one of God’s many anonymous servants, may He be pleased by my walk in this world. Thus I will be bringing glory to His name and, maybe, helping to preserve other of my brethren! Amen!

Friday, 30 October 2009

A small demonstration of God’s great power (Mt 26:1-5)

In my daily reading this morning I came across this passage, which I’ve appreciated for years. Two days before the Passover, the Lord tells His disciples that He would be crucified on the day of the feast. In the next verse we are told how the authorities in Jerusalem (“the chief priests, and the scribes, and the elders of the people, unto the palace of the high priest, who was called Caiaphas”) arrived at an opposite conclusion: “Not on the feast day”!

The human authorities make their decision, without knowing that God has already decided the exact opposite. Time is short: only two days to prepare the capture and death of the Messiah — only two days for the authorities to change their mind, and act. Is it possible? Whose will shall prevail? Who will be victorious?

We hardly need to be reminded that the decision of the authorities was abandoned, and the word spoken by our Lord Jesus Christ was fulfilled. After all, He had said short time before: “Heaven and earth shall pass away, but My words shall not pass away” (Mt 24:35).

Explaining my silence

At the end of 2007 I had some health problems. Nothing serious, just some little difficulties that bothered me until August of 2008. After spending 17 days in hospital, when I saw how small is my faith (and I used to think it was quite strong!), God granted me a complete recovery.

During the year of 2008, due to these health problems, I only posted three little meditations to this blog (actually, three parts of one meditation). For a long time I’ve been wondering whether I should restart, or abandon this little occupation. I believe, however, that the effort to maintain these meditations is profitable for my spiritual life. If it be of help to anyone else, so much the better.

I make no promises regarding frequency of posts. This blog will only be updated when I have time (i.e., not often), and when I have something to say (i.e., rarely :-)

Your brother, Billy.