TruthInvestigate

“Oh, the unspeakable greatness of that exchange,—the Sinless One is condemned, and he who is guilty goes free; the Blessing bears the curse, and the cursed is brought into blessing; the Life dies, and the dead live; the Glory is whelmed in darkness, and he who knew nothing but confusion of face is clothed with glory.” Trailady

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A person God turned around many times.

Monday, July 31, 2006

Grace

“Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone; but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit. He that loveth His life shall lose it; and He that hateth His life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal. If any man serve Me, let him follow Me....now is My soul troubled; and what shall I say? Father, save Me from this hour: but for this cause came I unto this hour. Father, glorify Thy name.” Jn. 12:24-28.

Spoken six days before the Passover when Christ would suffer on His cross, we sense the determination in His voice. So often He had said to His listeners, “Whosoever will come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.” Mk. 8:35. Now Christ is speaking to Himself, never allowing any doubt from Satan or even from those who loved Him, to turn Him from the natural and supernatural agony and death He was about to pass through.

Should Jesus bear the cross alone and let the world go free? He did bear the cross alone, the cross of His Father’s displeasure. And “of the people, there was none with Him.” “The reproaches of them that reproached thee fell on Me.” Rom. 15:3. Now, for everyone who sees that abundant grace toward them for their sins, a new principle is born in the heart that governs the new life. Grace is so wonderful and amazing that all who know it toward themselves will want to personally give it to others.

When we know the grace of God toward us, that fact reconciles us to Him. We might have learned this young, or it may have taken decades for the Holy Spirit to finally get through to us, but reconciliation or being made right with God is what justification is all about. And when we are reconciled and justified before God, the following is always the case: 1) “We have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,” 2) “We glory in tribulations.” Rom. 5:1-3. There is no other response to God’s love and grace. His grace is so good that nothing else matters. When we get a taste of God’s goodness toward us we can easily say, “Seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto” me, and if they aren’t added to me and I don’t financially prosper in this life, its OK because God is my portion and His mercy and love are all that I need. His grace is sufficient. I can live or die, just don’t let the sense of His grace ever leave me.

If we want to teach others about God’s grace, it must be more than just a theory. They have to experience it in order to know it. Therefore, in order to be qualified as a teacher of God’s grace, we must suffer at the hand of our students, even as our Father has suffered at the hands of His children. This is because grace has not existed unless there has been pain and suffering. It’s only because we hurt God and that He loved us anyway, that He has had grace toward us, and when we knew what He had suffered, then we could comprehend His grace toward us. Therefore, we will have to be hurt in order to forgive, and in forgiving we will teach grace to those around us.

I don’t mean to sound like a glutton for punishment, or a pacifist, or a fanatic. But for too long now, the church has accepted the idea, the theory of God’s grace, and never actually experienced it. So, are you crossed? Are you falsely accused? Is someone gossiping about you? It’s the perfect opportunity to teach them about grace. You will never have a better chance. So forgive them, love them, and act like their trespass never happened. Stun them by your silence and love and acceptance of them. This may require much prayer, but it must be done. And it must be done over and over again. 70 times 7! The more you’ve been taken advantage of, the deeper the lesson will go in their hearts when the Holy Spirit finally decides its time for you to make them aware of their infringements. Only God’s grace in your soul will propel you through difficult times.

If a professed Christian doesn’t want to suffer from others or at least get down to business with Jesus to find out why he doesn’t want to suffer, then its only evidence that grace from God has never covered that professed Christian’s sins or that he has fallen from grace and he is not in good standing with Christ. Here is the big test to indicate who is God’s and who is just acting the part. Are we willing to lay down our life for our brother? If not, our religion is false, it is dross and empty chaff and our name isn’t written in the Lamb’s book of life. “Now the axe is laid to the root of the trees: every tree therefore which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.” Lk. 3:9.

“Now therefore there is utterly a fault among you, because ye go to law one with another. Why do ye not rather take wrong? Why do ye not rather suffer yourselves to be defrauded?” 1Cor 6:7. The Corinthian brethren and sisters seemed not to have learned what self-sacrifice meant. It makes one wonder why they were admitted into the fellowship of believers. But Paul knew that Christ allows for latitude in everyone coming to Him. Peter fell down and worshiped Jesus at the beginning of his discipleship, but then was up and down in his imitating his Master. But so long as he stayed with Jesus, Jesus could patiently teach him to give up on self. He finally learned the lesson on the very last day of school. Even so with the Corinthians, they loved what Paul presented to them in the good news of Jesus, so he accepted them as saints, even with all their flaws.

But notice how Paul turned them around. He showed them the grief they had given him. He showed how much danger he had faced in working for their salvation. Suffering because of others doesn’t mean we must keep quiet about it. People need to know when they have done wrong. But notice that you never hear Paul complaining about their abuse of him. Yes, he faces them down; but his love for them is evident throughout both of his letters to them. He doesn’t exalt himself when he delineates all that he did for them. His one purpose is the hope that they will turn to him in sorrow and humility. Then he can forgive them, thus allowing him once again to bring them to see the grace of heaven. He comes on very strong, like a father to disobedient children; but he also comes across as humble and willing to suffer more and more for them if need be. And he uses this as the perfect opportunity to teach them to suffer personal grievances and to take being defrauded. The self-preservation has to go! Self must be laid in the dust.

Jesus went to the beatings without a word. “He was oppressed, and He was afflicted, yet He opened not His mouth: He is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so He openeth not His mouth.” Is. 53:7. “Who did no sin, neither was guile found in His mouth: who, when He was reviled, reviled not again; when He suffered, He threatened not; but committed Himself to Him that judgeth righteously: who His own self bare our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed.” “Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow His steps.” 1Pet. 2:22-24, 21.

Do you want to be a worker for Jesus? Do you want to fulfill the Great Commission to teach all nations all things that Jesus commanded us? Nothing gets the attention quicker or brings conviction deeper, than when we get hurt by someone and we treat that person kindly in return. This is what Christian martyrdom was all about. It may be the only chance unbelievers ever have to learn of God’s grace.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Bent Nails

This may seem like the most boring blog post you ever read, but it is necessary to make a point.

I used to be a framing carpenter. But after a career of 7 years, I ended it all on a pretty sour note. I was working for a low budget carpentry company and, with another person, was assigned to finish a set of townhouse units. When we got there we couldn’t find any nails to do the work. When we asked the supervisor about it, we were told to pick up all the nails we had bent during the erection of the building, straighten them and use them. We pulled nails out of boards, scoured the grounds, foraging, grazing, for nails.

Over the years as a carpenter, out of necessity I learned how to drive a bent nail. There is no avoiding it, when you drive thousands of them in a year. (At least back in the day when pneumatic nail guns weren’t so popular.) Driving a bent nail just becomes second nature.

Sometimes we even bent them on purpose to send the nail to a particular place in the pieces of wood we were nailing together. We would drive the nail a little, give it a little bent, drive it a little further, and bend it a little more, repeating the process until the nail did a curved motion in the wood. This was necessary if the spot needing to be nailed was located in real tight quarters without any room to swing the hammer and the nail needed to go in at a certain angle.

Along the way, I would straighten used nails when new nails were too far away and I was too tired to get them. If only a few was all I needed, I would find them on the floor and reuse them. They were plenty strong and worked nicely.

So I have my PhD in driving nails. Some people have difficulty driving a new nail, much less one that was previously bent. They might think it’s impossible to reuse nails, but it’s not hard with a little finesse. To straighten a nail, first of all you lay it down on a hard surface with your finger on the end furthest from the bend. (So you don’t hit your finger!) Roll the nail so that the bend is up. Then hammer the crown down until the nail is straight. (I hope I didn’t just insult anyone’s intelligence.)

Next, analyze the nail for potential problems during the driving phase, i.e. the weakened bend spot, a tilted head on the top of the nail, any lack of straightness that will cause a new bend, etc. Since the nail will likely rebend at the previous bend spot, its best if during straightening you take the bend a little further than straight, so that the bend is now a little bent in the opposite direction from the original bend. This lets the weakened spot be supported by the unweakened side. Working together all the torsion on the nail shaft bypasses the weaker side and it’s stronger neighbor takes the brunt of the driving force.

Now, drive the nail carefully, watching for a rebend, and taking into account a not-so-perpendicular nail head that will cause the hammer head to glance off and create a new bend. Try to hit the head of the nail a little off center, closer to the edge on the side where you overbent the nail when you were straightening it in order to utilize the stronger side of the nail shaft.

Today, I am helping my parents do a little carpentry at their house. It started to look like we didn’t buy enough nails, and in order to be able to finish the job, once again, I found myself straightening and reusing bent nails. It felt like a throw-back to 21 years in the past, but I found I hadn’t lost the know-how.

The job was an outdoors job, so the nails were galvanized─yes, soft nails. But as I patiently worked to drive in the old nails, I found that they went in. It took tender care to make those old, soft nails to go in the wood. After straightening one pretty good, I would carefully drive it in the wood until it began to bend. Then I would use my hammer claw to bend it back up again. Then I carefully drove it again until it bent. It might go in the wood ¼ inch before bending, but after repeated rebendings, with exception of one nail, each made it all the way in the wood. Each nail ended up very nicely holding down the deck boards to the joists. And I was glad to be able to reuse them.

We are bent; we have a bent─a bent to sin and selfishness. This doesn’t take rocket science to figure out. When God needs humans to do a particular job, He doesn’t get a 50 lbs. box of nice, new, shiny nails. He gets rejects, old, bent, rusted, lackluster used-up nails. We don’t have much to offer Him; but this doesn’t faze Him a bit. He is used to impossible tasks; His patience is everlasting; His mercy and kindness toward us endure for ever. He knows how to use us with our weaknesses and bent to evil. He uses us until we bend at our weak spot; then He straightens us up by His grace and puts us back into His service....until we bend again. With loving patience does He bend over us and straighten us up, all mangled but still usable in His estimation, and He recommissions us into His service. No sin, no undesirable character traits, no fallen nature, is too much for Him to deal with and make straight and functional for His purposes.

He is the Master craftsman. It is God who has made us, and not we ourselves. He knows how we tick. He knows the circumstances we have come from and the habits we have unintentionally cultivated or subliminally adopted, or even inherited. We are the nails in His nail pouch, all bent out of shape, and fallen short of His glory. Alluding to His carpenter days of Nazareth, Jesus’ motto became, “My Father worketh hitherto, and I work.” Jn. 5:17. My Father works like this, so that’s why I do it that way. If you’ve seen the Son, you’ve seen the Father. If the Son is eternally patient, so must the Father be. The Father is the great Master craftsman, whom the Son reflects in every detail. Sin is no match for the grace of God. If our desire for reconciliation with God will allow Jesus to remove the clamoring of self, no amount of misfitness can cause us to be lost. That was guaranteed at the cross. If we will go there we will begin to see the Godhead working out every solution for a sin-marinated human race. If we desire His companionship, we need only request it. “The gifts and calling of God are without repentance.” Rom. 11:29.

Let us never despair that the Father doesn’t want us with Him. His concern over one lost soul exceeds a mother’s worry over her endangered child. Our Father must maintain the justice and authority of His government in heaven, but He will make sure we get every advantage and we are assured salvation and a place by His side, so long as we keep coming to Him to receive those advantages.

Keep in mind, though, that pride has no place in heaven. It’s got to go. But Jesus doesn’t just yank it from us, He works and works, and then works some more, to get us to let go of pride and self-sufficiency. During the process of getting us ready for a place next to the infinite righteousness of His Father, there will necessarily be some straightening of our natural bent to sin. The heavenly Orthodontist has a big job to do with getting us all straightened out. There will be correction, maybe even some drastic measures that we don’t like. But there will also be much encouragement and acceptance and tender mercy all along the way. Because, in Him “mercy and truth are met together; righteousness and peace have kissed each other.” Ps. 85:10. And this is only right; this plan alone we can trust in. The only reason anyone misses out on heaven is by their own choice to not allow God to straighten us.

“I will bring the blind by a way that they knew not; I will lead them in paths that they have not known: I will make darkness light before them, and crooked things straight. These things will I do unto them, and not forsake them.” Is. 42:16. “Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make His paths straight. Every valley shall be filled, and every mountain and hill shall be brought low; and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough places shall be made smooth.” Lk. 3:5. “And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together: for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it.” Is. 40:5.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Justified

When we look desperately to heaven for love and help; when we’ve seen a glimmer of hope that Jesus loves to be the guest of sinners (Lk. 19:7) and we hope His love can be for us too, we will surely find it to be a fact. When God works surrender into our heart, when the gift of God is implanted, then we receive the faith that strengthens us to acknowledge our new standing. We are doing what was impossible before the change, we are on the Lord’s side. We are justified.

Justification is a work wholly supernatural; only God could accomplish this. It was His initiative, by coming to us in our self-centered, miserable existence in sin, and His making the offer of a new covenant. It was His effort, daily, year by year, patiently working to draw our attention from what we deemed important and pleasing here in this temporary life, and to find Him and His everlasting kingdom of much more enduring importance and joy. He called us and chose us; it was not us going on the initiative to choose Him. (Jn. 15:16) If we ever get to know God, its not because we began the process. We love Him because He first loved us. When His love is painted for us in a panoramic mural across the firmament, then we respond. Then we say with David, “Lo, I come: in the volume of the book it is written of me, I delight to do Thy will, O my God: yea Thy law is within my heart.” (Ps. 40:7, 8)

When we turn back to God we are justified. When we are justified, we are enabled to easily stand on the Lord’s side. (Ex. 32:26) We are not justified by repentance; we are justified by faith. Repentance came; by the gift of God repentance came, but faith followed in hot pursuit. Sorrow for sin gave the initial great adjustment in our thinking, but it’s faith in God’s goodness that maintains that adjustment. Now He is our Father and friend. (Is. 9:6; Jn. 15:13-15) Faith has taken hold of us and claims all the good things in the scriptures. (Rom. 15:4) The word, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased,” (Matt. 3:17) is God’s acceptance and approval of me, too. The gentle touch of Jesus on those He healed, I also feel—the impression of His fingers on my eyes as He put on the clay made of His spittle and dirt, I gladly feel, and I hear His full, confident, and calm voice telling me to go wash my eyes. (Jn. 9:6) It’s me sitting at His feet, soaking in His deep wisdom and His love for me. (Lk. 10:39) I am next to that leper, who came to Jesus, blind to the crowds falling away in stark terror of his loathsome appearance; we don’t hear their cries regarding our ugliness, we only see Jesus. I am with the young John, absorbed in the greatness of Jesus’ character and acceptance of me, until I can find no words to express it except to invite others to come and see for themselves!!! (1Jn. 3:1;4:18,19; Jn. 1:39;Rev. 22:17) I yield myself as His servant to obey Him and His righteousness. (Rom. 6:16-22) Because He loves me, I will serve Him forever! (Ex. 21:5,6) Faith procures all the promises it finds.

All that’s in the Holy Bible, I’m there, and I conform to all that God put in the Book because Jesus is there. I’m there because Jesus is there; I want to be wherever He is. His Law, His judgments, His requirements, are no longer hard to obey. “O how love I Thy law! It is my meditation all the day.” (Ps. 119:97) In fact I find wisdom in them that I never noticed before. As simple as they are, they contain the panacea of this world’s ills. I want everyone to know this wonderful secret! I want them to know Jesus. If they can just catch that same glimmer of hope that led me down this wonderful path, they too will be drawn from the pull of this world and be attracted to Jesus, and from Jesus to His Father and His Father’s kingdom of righteousness.

Health

I love to talk about health. My wife suffers from bad kidneys and often says that if she had health she would have everything. Jesus once said something very insightful, “What doth it profit a man if he gain the whole world and lose his own soul? What shall a man give in exchange for his soul?” That is so profound. And we can easily modify this, “What does it profit a man if he gain the whole world and lose his own health? What shall a man give in exchange for his health?” So many of the world’s wealthy and powerful people suffer horribly at the end of their life, despite having great affluence and the world’s best health care.

Today’s health care system is not interested in our health. It is interested in maintaining itself. We keep hearing in the news about how the government needs to do something to pump billions of dollars into our health care system or it will collapse. Why feed a bottomless pit that cannot sustain itself? Today’s medical profession is not interested in disease prevention. They prefer disease cure rather than prevention because that keeps money flowing into the coffers and wallets of well paid professionals. Disease prevention would upset the whole thing.

God’s method to health vastly differs from this world’s. Our “health care system” if truth in advertising can really allow us to call it that, with its concoctions and elixirs and surgeries, are all founded on ancient Egyptian practices; except that Egyptian elixirs were of a little different materials, i.e. bat wings, horse dung, etc. But all that man comes up with to fix his problems, rather than going to the God of Israel, is solidly based on the goal of exalting man and his great genius, and much to Satan’s glee, blotting our Creator completely out of our thoughts and needs. All will result in partial healing and dependence on man instead of our loving Father in heaven.

If we would learn and use the natural remedies God has put in His creation, we would find that disease would be healed one cell at a time, slowly bringing health and vitality back, disease removed without a scar, and totally gone without remission. “And the Lord alone shall be exalted in that day.” Is. 2:11. God is exalted because He created the healing properties in nature. Man was simply the recipient, and nothing more—a hard pill for the philosophical sinner to swallow.

The Bible gives examples of the use of natural remedies. Isaiah was counseled to take a lump of figs for king Hezekiah’s lethal boil (Is. 38:21); Moses was commanded to throw a branch into undrinkable water in the desert and it healed the poisonous water (Ex. 15:23); Christ, who often healed by His word alone, at one time spat onto the ground and made clay for a blind man’s eyes to teach about natural healing (Jn. 9:6); Elijah, Elisha, and Paul laid on the body of dead or close to death children to bring them back to health. (1Ki.17:21;2Ki. 4:34;Acts 20:9,10). No doubt, these practices require much faith, but nothing is impossible for God if we have faith in Him and His natural and simple remedies.

Some people say that Christ did away with God’s plan for our health. They say that the laws of health were nailed to the cross. Thus the dietary laws of Leviticus 11 were abrogated and useless because now we can do whatever we want, as Christians, and God will bless us! They take Bible verses out of context and definitely out of the context of the whole Bible, and claim them as promises from God, which He never intended. This is such foolery!

Grace doesn’t destroy law, it aids its accomplishment. When Paul preached of God’s grace to us, he never intended us to discard God’s laws. Its true that God’s mercy is more than enough to cover our past guilt and sinfulness and His love endures all that our obstreperous rebellion can bring against His will. This is the cornerstone of the church of God. No other foundation can be laid to sufficiently answer all our uncertainty with God and all the accusations of the tempter.

We have a Friend in the heavens. The mighty argument of the cross will forever answer all our doubts about how far love will go to bring about our reconciliation and restoration. But let us be reminded that our reconciliation to God also reconciles us to His will and His character and to His law which is the transcript of His character.

“For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of His Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.” Rom 5:10. So our reconciliation to God through Christ is just the beginning. It’s the beginning of a new life reconciled to God and to His genuine laws. Christ declared His Father’s mercy and strong desire to heal the people of all their diseases and sorrows, all the while He ever maintained reverence for the truth His Father had inspired in all the law and the prophets.

This is what gave His ministry so much power and authority. The people first trusted in His beneficence toward them in their suffering, and then they saw His faithfulness to uphold a law that was higher than what they had ever been taught. This led some to trust in Him so implicitly that they never veered from their faith in Him, even in His claim to be the Son of God. To them the words came with a thrill to their hearts, “Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill.” But He had to clarify what He meant, “For I say unto you, that except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and the Pharisees ye shall in no case inter into the kingdom of heaven.” Matt. 5:17-20.

It was Satan’s intention to destroy the authority of God’s genuine, original law on earth and he used the religious leaders to affect his plans. They professed scrupulous reverence to the law, yet destroyed it by destroying the spirit of it (Matt. 23:23;Mk. 12:24; Lk.11:46). They weren’t reconciled to God, therefore they weren’t reconciled to His law and they rejected His Son who came redefining the true spirit and true letter of His Father’s Law. After centuries of inching farther and farther from the true principles of God’s law, substituting human definitions of God’s will, the Jewish leaders ended up wholly ignorant of God’s character. So by the time the Messiah came it could be said again, “I have written to him (Israel) the great things of My law, but they were counted as a strange thing.” Hos. 8:12.

Yet the waves of Christ’s love continued to beat against the quay walls those religious leaders had constructed in their hearts. Jesus used every method possible, sending every healed leper for the priest’s inspection and approval. Many rejected every loving word and gesture and look from Christ in His reproofs toward them. But some began to warm up. Slowly He entreated them back from the precipice which the unbelieving Sanhedrin was pulling them over. Later these recovered priests cast their lot with the apostles of the newborn church. With converted hearts, they received new insight and saw the true relation of God’s law and His grace. Their vision now revealed the dangers of presumption, and the Spirit of God fortified them to redeem lost time and rectify their life.

Paul writes that the law is good if it is used lawfully. But many who wanted to teach the law were using it unlawfully. Because they didn’t know God’s grace, they had a destructive one-sided view of God’s will and character and law. But Paul, who had reconciled with God through Jesus found the result of the work of God’s commandments to be love from a pure heart and a good conscience and unpretended trust in God. “From which some having swerved have turned aside unto vain jangling.” 1Tim. 1:5-8. Sound doctrine cries out that we be obedient to law. God’s laws are nothing to afraid of. His standards are high, but they are only for our good, and He has our best interests in mind by making them known to our understanding.

His laws encompass every facet of our life and claim kingship over our total being. This includes the spiritual, intellectual, and physical components that make us a living soul (Gen. 2:7). Since all three faculties are so intimately intertwined, the Lord cannot ignore any of the three. Our bodies are the temple of our minds, our minds the temple of our conscience, our conscience the temple of the Holy Spirit; thus, overall, our bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit. But for those who have not surrendered to the love of God, the body is largely the temple of Satan and is subject to his will.

The laws of health given in the scripture are current. Man’s body has not changed since creation, except to get weaker; human nature hasn’t improved over the millennia; God certainly hasn’t changed in any way (Mal. 3:6; Heb. 13:8); and lastly Satan has not changed his desire to destroy us and to tempt us to disobey God. Thus the Old Testament dietary laws are still valid and thus disobedience will have decided repercussions. “Be not deceived, God is not mocked; whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.” Gal. 6:7. (An noteworthy warning from Paul in his epistle on law and grace.)

This does not contradict his counsel to Timothy, “In the latter times some shall depart from the faith…commanding to abstain from meats, which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving of them which believe and know the truth. For every creature of God is good, and nothing to be refused,…for it is sanctified by the Word.” 1Tim. 4:1-5. That Word of Scripture Paul referred to was Leviticus chapter 11 which delineates what animals we could and could not eat. He also directly refers to Deuteronomy, “Notwithstanding thou mayest kill and eat flesh in all thy gates, whatsoever thy soul lusteth after, according to the blessing of the Lord thy God which He hath given thee: the unclean and the clean may eat thereof, as of the roebuck and as of the hart.” Deut. 12:15. Realize that although Moses said they could eat any flesh they lusted after, it was assumed that they lust after only those prescribed in Leviticus 11.This same assumption was in Paul’s mind, as well as the early church, “…sanctified by the Word.” This does not eliminate the warning against apostate, extremist or legalistic religion which became and continues to be such a scourge against faith and dependence on Jesus. But faith and obedience work together. Without obedience faith isn't faith. It transforms into presumption, and there is no true love for God while presuming on His love for us. This was the very temptation Satan brought against Christ in the wilderness—to expect God to do for us what we can do and He has showed us how to do for ourselves. Presumption tempts God, it does not love Him or abide in His love for us.

The following “8 doctors” will prevent and cure all diseases: 1) Our diet has everything to do with whether or not we will be healthy; whole grain, whole food products is the goal we must strive for. Lose the refined food diet and refined sugar, as quickly as possible! 2) Plenty of pure water, inside the body and outside, is also a must. For this, a good rule to follow is to take your body weight in pounds, divide it in half and drink that much water in fluid ounces, daily. Water will help our bodies remove toxins which build up and become the cause of cancer. 3) Physical exercise in some form is necessary, i.e. a minimum of 20 minutes of aerobic exercise, 3 times a week. Manual labor works for this. But remember to breathe! 4) 15 minutes of sunlight each day. 5) Remember to abstain from harmful substances and moderate the consumption of the things that are good. 6) Plenty of rest is such an overlooked part of the standard American lifestyle. 7) Lots of fresh air, taking deep drafts of clean, fresh air, and throwing open your bedroom windows at night. And lastly, 8) trust in divine power; to concentrate on all the previous necessities for health but to neglect trust in God, is to allow stress to continue and to undo all the benefits of the first seven principles.

Thank you for reading about the importance of maintaining your health. It’s only in love for us that God commands us to “keep under our body, and bring it into subjection.” (1Cor. 9:27).

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Crack the Whip

When I was a kid, and maybe you have done this, a favorite game to play was called, Crack the Whip. We would line up, alternating our placement, so that we weren’t all facing the same direction. This gave us the strongest grip as we double-clasped each others wrists. The long line formed, we would all follow the person on the end that we deemed to lead the line, always with glee from the very last person, the caboose of the human train. It was always best if the biggest kids were at the front because they could provide the most power and speed, although care was taken that the last person wasn’t too small and fragile, for obvious reasons!

Then we’d begin. The leader would slowly get the speed of the train up and then begin to move off course doubling the line of kids back on itself. As the doubled-back chain of children passed each other and approached the end of the line, their speed accelerated until the last child felt the full velocity caused by the total change of two directions of speed, and the torque created was always too great for the strength of the grip of the last person, who would be forced to let go and be flung away from the group, spinning, and landing on the ground, everyone laughing. Then the second to the last person became the last person of the line, and, Oh wonderful thought! The next victim of Crack the Whip!

Lion trainers, horse teamsters, and many other trades have used the whip for centuries. They used it not necessarily to hurt the animals, but to scare them. The crack created by the whip is like a stabbing pain to the wild beasts who survive by fight or flight.

Likewise, God uses His whip. His whip is the life in this world. He knows how to manipulate life to save those whose hearts are yearning to be free from the wicked master they and their parents have chosen for them, the adversary who “smote the people in wrath with a continual stroke.” Is. 14:6. But Christ, the God of the New and Old Testaments, doesn’t do like the devil. “Though He cause grief, yet will He have compassion according to the multitude of His mercies. For He doth not afflict willingly nor grieve the children of men.” Lam. 3:32, 33.

He can orchestrate events in this world; He moves people here and there in spite of Satan’s objections. If a soul looks heavenward, even deep in the thick walls of a prison made by his own wickedness, Christ, “this same Jesus whom ye saw go into heaven,” (Acts 1:11) works His providences to reward that honest soul. He honors our power of choice, much to the chagrin and altercation of the devil. It’s Christ who enforces the law of freedom of the will and conscience, against Satan’s gross trampling of it all, his threats and rage all to scare us away from looking to heaven, and his arguments and blasphemy toward the court of heaven in our hearing. Christ respectfully but rightfully ignores all the accusation of unfairness by the devil and commands His angels to continue working the events around the life of that earnest seeker for truth and deliverance from sin. (Lam. 3:35;Rom. 3:26;Jude 9;Matt. 8:8,9).

Shall the prey be taken from the mighty, or the lawful captive delivered? But thus saith the Lord, Even the captives of the mighty shall be taken away, and the prey of the terrible shall be delivered: for I will contend with him that contendeth with thee, and I will save thy children. Is. 49:24, 25.

But our freedom from the adversary does not come without a cost. After all that heaven has expended to deliver us, the result will be permanent, deeply felt, and never forgotten. When Christ has allowed Satan to take us far away, and then He moves to bring us back, the train of events and the forces of nature doubling back against all that Satan can muster to keep us; when Christ must dispense more than an equal but opposite reaction to the momentum Satan has created in our habits and tastes, the snap-back of our focus might seem like we will end up in traction. But our conscience is convicted, our attention to God arrested, our willfullness corrected, the current of life moving safely and smoothly in the opposite direction from before, we are humbled and happy again.

Definitely, at that point we know that God doesn’t fool around if His services have been requested. Then we realize that we are but dust. When we see the power of God, we soberly ask, “What is man, that Thou art mindful of him?” What is man, “whose breath is in his nostrils, …wherein is he to be accounted of?” Ps. 8:4; Is. 2:22. Learning human weakness, we acknowledge, “All flesh is grass, and all the goodliness thereof is as the flower of the field; the grass withereth, the flower fadeth: because the Spirit of the Lord bloweth upon it: surely the people is grass. The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: but, we humbly confess with new assurance, the word of our God shall stand for ever.” Is. 40:6-8.

Although God knows how much stress we can take, the removal of Satan’s grip on our heart will require more from us than we can do for ourselves, and it will “shiver our timbers.” But when the storm is over, when Satan has conceded his lost captive and Christ has imprisoned a new heart in His love and care, then we may look back, and be thankful for the bigger than life-size Crack the Whip that certainly was no game, but a battle in the cosmic controversy between Christ and Satan, a matter of eternal life or death.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Wonderful Grace of God

God has His work on earth, which He has entrusted to men and women: His gospel to give to the world. It’s the everlasting gospel (Rev. 14:6). Having begun by the twelve apostles, and then carried forward by the church to this day, it will continue to do its work until He comes again, as He promised.

Yet we look at the church, in all it’s division and denominations, with faulty people, all its misunderstandings and erroneous doctrines, all its inner fighting and backslidden condition, and we might wonder, How does He keep this dysfunctional organism around any longer? Why hasn’t He swept it off the map and started all over again?

It’s because He has a plan, and also because His mercy endureth forever. Was there ever a time when His church was faultless? Were His band of twelve free from misconceptions of scripture and of His work, or from grievous personal flaws? No; yet He stayed with them, corrected their flaws and misconceptions. He would remain with them so long as they were drawn to Him and to His love and grace for them. Never before had they known the kind of acceptance He offered them and everyone else He met. And never before had they seen such a determination in anyone to lead friends up to a more and more perfect character, to lead by example and to teach patiently, even going over lessons again and again, as long as it need take. If the student were content to stay with Him, He was happy to receive all whom the Father sent to Him. He rejected none.

Following some preliminary training, He sent His disciples out to preach and to heal and to minister. They came back with exciting stories of devils being subject to their command in Christ’s name; yet they still needed correction and more training, which He entered into at a retreat in the wilderness. Away from the multitudes who pressed on Christ so much that He found it difficult to find time to eat, He invited His closest group, “Come ye yourselves apart, and rest a while.” There, in that quiet environment of Christ’s full attention, they found heaven to draw near to earth, and the lessons He taught, the imperfections of character He revealed and the corrections He brought out, His students readily received. To them He could say, “Ye are now clean through the word which I have spoken unto you.” Jn. 15:3.

In Christ, the Word of God, who lightens every man that cometh into the world, in Him “mercy and truth are met together; righteousness and peace have kissed each other.” Ps. 85:10. He cannot dispense mercy alone; it must be mingled with truth. In all His dealings with His children, peace is never expressed without tenderly working righteousness into it, thus the glory of God blazes forth in all that Christ did and said. Thus the gospel is “the power of God unto salvation.” Rom. 1:16.

“God takes men as they are, with the human elements in their character, and trains them for His service, if they will be disciplined and learn of Him. They are not chosen because they are perfect, but notwithstanding their imperfections, that through the knowledge and practice of the truth, through the grace of Christ, they may become transformed into His image.” Desire of Ages, p.294.

He loves His followers; He loves His people; He loves His Christian church. In spite of its imperfections, it is His chosen agency for bringing the light of His character to a world won over to Satan. If the church will keep the Bible close, with all the light streaming from its pages of instruction, they will enjoy the blessings that come from obedience to God’s laws and statutes and commandments and judgments. The more they learn, trust, and obey, the more they see the power of His hand; conversely, the less they come to the light, and remain there, looking and learning and practicing, the less they partake of the power of God’s grace and His success in their work. These are His conditions and His test of discipleship.

The church may be full of corruption, and on the verge of the judgment sentence, “Her sins have reached unto heaven, and God hath remembered her iniquities,” (Rev. 18:5); she may crucify her Master afresh and bring Him into open shame; yet He does not abandon her. “He that is not against us is for us,” He says. Lk 9:50. She is the apple of His eye. She performs an important function, faulty as she is. She provides the way back to Eden, even if only a hollow framework for that path. Her ideas of God’s grace may be fraught with a lop-sided view of God’s mercy without justice or His justice without mercy; she may misrepresent His condemnation as overwhelming, and His final judgment against sin with sinners, in eternal torment, may be blasphemously glorifying Satan; then she may present Christ’s reward for the saints at the opposite extreme by disposing of the great investigative judgment and the resurrection, and adopting the pagan ideas of immediate entrance into heaven upon death, thus opening the door to communicating with spirits of darkness in the effort to contact dead loved ones; her literature that she deploys in pubic places may torture God, yet He allows it to continue because it at least provides the minimum of truth and reminds people that hell must be shunned and that heaven is to be won. He will use what she has to offer, and miraculously make the most of it all. It will leave a framework in place until He finally infuses it with truth under the mighty direction of the Holy Spirit in the powerful Latter Rain.

Just as the Old Dispensation, filled with human decrees and requirements, was “decayed and waxen old,” and “ready to vanish away,” (Heb. 8:13); yet Christ could say, “Salvation is of the Jews.” (Jn. 4:22). Wonderful foresight and wisdom of our Savior! He uses whatever He has available and works to improve it. What a wonderful Savior is Jesus my Lord, what a wonderful Savior to me! What hope He brings to all who feel the most worthless and deplorably hopeless!

Paul understood all this as he penned, “Many of the brethren in the Lord, waxing confident by my bonds, are much more bold to speak the word without fear. Some indeed preach Christ even of envy and strife; and some also of good will: the one preach Christ of contention, not sincerely, supposing to add affliction to my bonds: but the other of love, knowing that I am set for the defense of the gospel. What then? Notwithstanding, every way, whether in pretence, or in truth, Christ is preached; and I herein do rejoice, yea, and will rejoice.” Phil. 1:14-18.

How well-balanced, how grand, how optimistic and full of hope! After Christ had revealed the truth of God to Paul, and after years of experience in cooperating with Jesus, nothing could destroy Paul’s faith even while awaiting his execution, the omnipotent hand of God being so clearly understood by him.

So let’s go forth, also knowing that the Lord will bring His church off more than conquerors through the love of our mighty Commander Jesus. Let’s not fear that He doesn’t accept our work for Him. Let’s not limit His ability to mold us into His image.

Hark! The voice of Jesus calling, “Who will go and work today?
Fields are white, the harvest waiting, who will bear the sheaves away?”
Loud and long the Master calleth, rich reward He offers free;
Who will answer, gladly saying, “Here am I, O Lord, send me?”

If you cannot cross the ocean and the heathen lands explore,
You can find the heathen nearer, you can help them at your door;
If you cannot speak like angels, if you cannot preach like Paul,
You can tell the love of Jesus, you can say He died for all.

If you cannot be the watchman, standing high on Zion’s wall,
Pointing out the path to heaven, offering life and peace to all;
With your prayers and with your bounties you can do what Heaven demands;
You can be like faithful Aaron, holding up the prophet’s hands.

While the souls of men are dying, and the Master calls for you,
Let none hear you idly saying, “There is nothing I can do!”
Gladly take the task He gives you, let His work your pleasure be;
Answer quickly when He calleth, “Here am I, O Lord, send me.”

—F. E. Belden