Summer Months

. Seemingly, this is a welcome topic after the passing of the harsh winter months and after being spoiled by the signs of spring. But, before you bring to your mind's eye the fanciful visions of summer and all the activities it affords, let me explain my purpose in choosing this topic. I do not care to engage in a discussion of the weather or the recreation that summer affords us. Rather, I want to approach this topic from a different point of view. I choose this subject out of concern. It is not that I am concerned whether we will utilize these months of summer to our advantage and delight. I know we will do this. But my concern is a spiritual one. We often have a combined society get-together at the beginning of the season. Then we are admonished with regard to our duties to attend society and faithfully prepare from the Word of God. Sometimes I am afraid that the admonition comes at the wrong end of the society and catechism season. The months of fall and winter are conducive to study and spiritual meditation. The weather is not conducive to the outdoors. We almost naturally turn to the reading of a book, learning of a lesson, or meditating quietly upon spiritual things. Summer months are different. 

It is with delight that we bring the society and catechism season to a close and welcome the reprieve of the weekly or biweekly grind that the summer gives us. This is not only the feeling and anticipation of our children who eagerly ask the preacher from time to time how many lessons are remaining. But this is the feeling for all of us, including preachers, as I must confess. Yet, there is always something rather bothersome and restless in my soul at the last of these meetings. I suppose it is that a minister (and I am sure that the people feel much the same) has this feeling because he knows that the communion of these will be missed. But, back to my concern. It is more than this. Society and catechism meetings force us to have some kind of a systematic study and instruction in the Scriptures. We then habitually pick up the Bible and study those things that will be discussed in class or society. And knowing our own nature, it is good for us to have such a schedule to encourage us in the way of study and meditation. For we and our children often take the way of least resistance. To our shame, we do this even when we know we ought to prepare for our lesson. But I am afraid this happens much more when societies and catechism come to an end. For many of us, with the exception of our family devotions, have little or no occasion to study the Word of God except for society preparation or catechism studies. This ought not to be so. Part of the feeling of concern in my soul at the end of the season is always a wondering how often these Bibles, through which we page diligently to find answers in society, will see the light of day. It is this concern that usually prompts me to address a few words to my catechumens to the effect that they ought not to forget their Bibles or neglect their personal devotions and prayer time with God! 

I am reminded of Psalm 119: "O how love I thy law! it is my meditation all the day." (verse 97) This is the theme of the entire 119th Psalm. Not only does he meditate upon the Law, in the narrow sense of the decalogue of the ten commandments, but his delight is in God's Word as he everywhere testifies. This Word of God is a light upon his pathway and a lamp unto his feet. This is also the place that the Word of God must hold in our life. Our path is no different from that of the Poet of old. We too are pilgrims and strangers. We too have enemies that threaten our spiritual life and well-being; and therefore we too need the guidance and counsel of the Word of God to lead us and guide us in the way everlasting. But the Word does not speak through its covers! And as a light, it cannot shine unopened upon the shelf! The Word of God cannot be our counselor in the midst of life's difficulties and trials except we make it our trusted companion and friend as we traverse this pilgrim's journey. The point is that unless we continually, from day to day, consult the road map of the Scriptures, we become hopelessly lost as we try to make our way through this life. For it is the commandments of God that make us wiser than our enemies and give us more understanding than all our teachers. Such wisdom and understanding in the way of searching the Scriptures and taking time to read them and study them. 

During the season that societies are meeting we systematically study and discuss the Word of God. In this way we commune with God's Word on a regular basis. But at this time of year societies and catechisms discontinue meeting, and I am afraid that more often than not this means that we retire our personal Bible for the months of vacation. We ought to know that the Devil and the world gives us no reprieve during these months. In fact, one could make a case for the fact that the carnal temptations of the flesh are stepped up and increased for the child of God. The tendency is for our spiritual life to become relaxed and drowsy. It is good for us to be aware of this and attempt to combat it.

How shall we do this? When the leisure months of summer give time for everything we must also let it give time for being alone with the Scriptures. We might enjoy the systematic reading through the Psalms or the practical wisdom of the preacher. Oftentimes we do not understand what we read. It helps to reflect with a good concordance Bible, seeing what meanings various words in Scripture have. Maybe meditation upon a passage, with the aid of a good commentary to deepen and enrich our thoughts, is of benefit. There is a wealth of reading material that we ourselves publish in addition to the Standard Bearer and Beacon Lights.These meditations have chapters that are ideal short intervals of study early in the morning or before bedtime at night. The important thing is simply to make time in the business of our schedule for communion and fellowship with our God. We must seek the instruction of His Word and precepts that they may shed light upon our path and guide our feet. Then we shall walk in His fear!

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