There is no power strong enough to reform human lives but the power of the Gospel of the Son of God. And there is no book that tells about this Gospel but the Bible. Therefore, the great object in all our work has been to get this Book into the hands and hearts of all.
This great thought led up to our Bible band.
The object of the organization is: First, To study and commit to memory the word of God for our own edification and comfort. Second, To teach it to others. Third, To supply the destitute with Bibles, and if possible to get every man, woman and child who can read to own a Bible. No organization would be required, if it were not that by this method we can get more persons to study the Bible, and also to better help and encourage each other.
ARTICLE 1. It shall be the duty of each member of the Band to read or hear read a chapter, or part of a chapter each day and commit to memory three new verses each week. Those who are young and quick to learn should memorize one verse each day. If you have the paper HOPE it is expected that you will read the daily lesson given in that paper.
ARTICLE 2. It shall be the duty of the members to read the Bible to the sick or those who cannot read, as often as opportunity affords; also to seek opportunities.
ARTICLE 3. It shall be the duty of the members to do all in their power to supply the destitute with Bibles, and to use their influence to get every man, woman and child to own and read the Bible.
ARTICLE 4. It shall be the duty of the members to carry with them a Bible when they go on a visit, or to church, or any meeting. It is also a good plan to keep a little Testament in our pockets while at work, so we can read at leisure moments.
ARTICLE 5. It shall be the duty of the members to meet once a week and make reports of study and Bible work done. If members live too far away or other duties prevent they should send written reports as often as possible. Persons can belong to the Band if they cannot read, if they will promise to have some one read to them.
ARTICLE 6. The officers of the society shall be: president, vice-president, secretary, and treasurer. The duty of said officers to be the same as in any other society.
There is seldom any use for the office of treasurer, because when we find one who cannot buy a Bible, the member that finds such an individual gets him a Bible if she is able, and reports it at the next meeting and a record is kept of the fact in the minutes. If she is not able she reports it and some one or more who are able provides the Bible. I would be glad to get a report of each Band from the secretary at the close of each month, telling at least these three facts: Number who read regularly (this will include old and young, sinners and Christians, for all can belong to the Band), number found without a Bible, and number supplied with a Bible. I may be able to get Bibles for those you cannot supply. But, of course, you want to have the blessing of giving them yourself if you can, for Jesus says, "It is more blessed to give than to receive."?Acts 20:35.
The above is the plan that has been found valuable in the study of the Bible in Louisiana and many other states. When you form your Band you may make some changes if you think best, but do not lose sight of the great object of the Band. Some may object to carrying a Bible with them, others may say they cannot help to get Bibles for the destitute and some may make other objections. But get all to join who will promise for themselves to read the Bible daily and commit to memory at least three verses a week.
There is no danger of your taking too much time, or being too zealous about the study of God's word. Such ignorance of Bible truth as we find in every church, should make every Christian shed bitter tears of shame and sorrow. Jesus says: "In vain do you worship me teaching for doctrine the commandments of men."--Matt. 15:9. We want to find what God says and obey Him. He is the only one that has a right to make laws for His children. If there is a rule in the church or the home which I cannot prove by the Bible, then I need not obey that rule. There is a blessing promised to those who "delight in the law of the Lord and meditate therein day and night." They will be fresh and fruit-bearing all the year long. Everything they do will prosper. If you do not believe it, read Psalms 1:2, 3. But remember you must delight in the Bible, enjoy it, love it, admire it, obey it, honor it, trust it. That is what "delight" means. You can claim the promise if you delight in the Bible.
We hope all will read the daily lessons given in HOPE. It is a great inspiration to know that all are reading the same portion of Scripture each in his own home.
My blessed Bible Band pupils, blessed because you delight in the law of the Lord and in His law do you meditate day and night. Ps. 1:2. You are the hope of the Christian church. Hitherto the people have so often "erred or gone wrong, not knowing the Scriptures nor the power of God." Matt. 22:29. The power of God is the Holy Spirit (Acts 1 :8), that same Holy Spirit with whom so many of you are filled. Glory to his name! Then you study the Bible daily. Acts 17:11. The Bible gives you a knowledge of God's word and the Holy Spirit gives you power to obey it.
It matters not if the officers of the Band are not your choice, nor if the regular meetings are stopped. Keep on with your daily study, do not omit a single day. But strive hard to get the meeting started again. Your Band would be a regular, profitable one if only two meet once a week in a private house to review the lessons, provided two are all you can interest. But do not, I beseech you, let personal jealousy or quarrels destroy the fellowship of the members, who should be, like Mary, humble, and meekly "sitting at Jesus' feet to hear his word." Luke 10:39.
Mothers who have little children, sick ones, and those who have work to do at the hour of meeting are full members, and should just as carefully study the lesson daily as if they were able to attend.
The devil does not care how much time you spend in prayer as long as you will not read the Bible. Because without the Bible you do not know how to pray an acceptable prayer.
I have never known a Christian to backslide who continued the daily, prayerful study of the Bible.
Satan hates the Bible. It was the sword in Jesus' hands that conquered him nineteen hundred years ago. Matt. 4: 1-11.?Eph. 6:17.
Surely all Christians of every name should sit down together to read their Father's letter.
HOW BIBLE BANDS GREW.
For example, I had the following in my paper: "Sister Mary, you must forgive Sister Jane, though she has wronged you. Jesus loved you and died for you while you were sinning against Him, and Jesus says you must forgive Jane or he will not forgive you. If you do not believe me read Eph. 4:32." But Mary does not know where to find Ephesians, so she hastens to her neighbor, who knows as little as Mary about the Bible; but before night a visitor calls who reads from her Bible these words: "And be ye kind one to another, tender-hearted, forgiving one another even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you." Eph. 4:32. Mary asked the visitor if she would not come and help her study the lessons, which she did, and thus they helped each other; and once a week all met in a private house or church to review. Hundreds have learned to read with the help of neighbors or their own children. Let me state another fact. Those who study HOPE must have a Bible. I noticed our Sunday school quarterlies had nearly turned the Bible out of the school by giving the Bible text so the pupil did not need the Bible. In our paper we only give book, chapter, and verse. This compels the reader to get a Bible before he can understand the explanation. HOPE created a great demand for Bibles. I prepared the Constitution for Bible Bands, which we have given you. You ask, did not the people have the Bible before your HOPE was born? Yes, some did. There were school books before you learned to read, but you needed a teacher. When the teacher came you got the books. HOPE has been the teacher that led many to buy a Bible and others to use the one that lay covered with dust.
I see by my record that in 1888 we had ninety Bands, with 1,683 members, who claimed to read daily the Bible lessons. The work continued with unabated interest, so that in 1889 we had, through visits and correspondence, gotten the work established in ten associations; there were only twelve in the state. I had visited all these places repeatedly and conducted many Bible readings. That year we had reports from one hundred and fifteen bands. The reports included a statement of number in Bands; number who read daily at home; number of persons who read the lesson to neighbors; number of texts memorized. These were the principal facts.
I give you the following report from one Band as a sample: Number in Band, 49; number who read daily, 26; number of families visited with Bible and prayer, 84; number of verses memorized, 1,995. This is a report for four months. I gave the people the following
RULES FOR READING THE BIBLE.
1. If I am a saved sinner, I should stop at every promise for a Christian, and ask if I believe it, and rest my soul upon it; and at every command, and ask if I obey it cheerfully. Luke 6:46; John 14:15 and 15:14.
2. If I am an unsaved sinner, I should stop at every invitation of mercy, and ask my own heart why I do not accept it, and remember that God will accept no service or work at my hands till I receive the pardon for my sins that Jesus bought with his own blood. I have only to accept and believe His promise, and then I am a saved sinner and ready for work on earth and a home in heaven. Acts 16:30, 31; Acts 2:38-39.
3. I should remember that all the Bible stories, and all its histories of individuals and nations, have been written for my warning or my encouragement or learning, and I should stop as I read, till I get the lesson for my own heart. 1 Cor. 10:5-13.
4. I should meditate or think about what I have read in the Bible and talk about it to others. Josh. 1:8; Ps. 1:2.
5. When I read the Bible I should get a dictionary and find the meaning of every word, or ask some one to explain what I do not understand. I should get a reference Bible and a Concordance and learn how to use them and use them in the study of the Bible. Acts 8:30-31.
6. God talks to me when I read the Bible. I talk to God when I pray. We should let God do the most of the talking.
7. When we read the Bible we must expect that the Holy Spirit will be our teacher. John 14:26. The Holy Spirit wrote the Bible. 2 Peter 1:21. The natural man cannot understand God. 1 Cor. 2:9-16.
BIBLE BAND PRAYER.
Oh, God, help me to remember that thou art talking to me when I read the Bible, and may I believe every word thou sayest. May the Holy Spirit shine in my heart, and make the meaning plain; and make me willing to obey all thy commands for Jesus' sake. Amen.
God was in this work and many hearts learned to delight in the law of the Lord. My leaving Louisiana soon after this resulted in an abatement in the interest, because all Christian work requires human instrumentality.
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