“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.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Myriads of starless worlds

(The above picture is, of course, an artist’s conception and not an astronomical photogragh.)

Please come with me as we reference two internet articles: the first on starless planets and the second on a description of Neptune, the eighth planet of our solar system.

Please read

“Free Worlds: Billions of Extra-Stellar Planetary Bodies May Be Adrift in the Galaxy.”

I say this is a wonderful finding! Rogue planets can explain the Genesis creation account in great details which Moses couldn’t find words or concepts for, but was in perfect agreement with! We see infallible inspiration which is complimented with science as scientific discovery unfolds!
“Astronomers believe Neptune has an inner rocky core that is surrounded by a vast ocean of water mixed with rocky material. From the inner core, this ocean extends upward until it meets a gaseous atmosphere of hydrogen, helium, and trace amounts of methane.

“Astronomers believe that Neptune has a solid core no larger than Earth (Earth's diameter is 12,756 km/7,926 mi) and that this core is composed primarily of iron and silicon. Neptune’s core may be small because most of the rock composing the planet remains mixed with the vast ocean that extends upward from the core to the atmosphere.

“Neptune’s vast body of liquid accounts for most of its volume. Scientists think this ocean is composed mostly of water as well as molecules of methane and ammonia. Neptune’s ocean is extremely hot (about 4700° C/about 8500° F). The ocean remains liquid at this temperature instead of evaporating because the pressure deep in Neptune is several million times higher than the atmospheric pressure on Earth. Higher pressure holds molecules in liquid closer together and prevents them from spreading apart to form vapor.”

What can we conclude from these articles compared with Genesis chapter 1? Could it be possible that our Creator came to one of these sunless planets, like Neptune, and began His creation work?

What we read from Moses’ concepts of the “Earth” was not of a planetary object in space, as we think of Earth today. Moses understood earth to be simply land, as he wrote of the Creator’s work, “And God called the dry land Earth.” (Gen. 1:10).

With that definition of “earth” let’s return to the Genesis account of creation and see how it overlays the new scientific conclusion of a week ago concerning planets without a sun.

“In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.” (Gen. 1:1). The grand, opening sentence of our beginning. This verse gives no details yet, but is perfectly situated as an overview of the following explanations. One thing we do know, a Person was the cause of life on this once sunless planet.

“And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.” (vs. 2). The land did not exist in this gaseous orb of only H2O. Probably like Neptune, our dark planet had a rock and metallic core, but its surface was of water—like Neptune, very dense at the bottom and growing less dense as it extended to the limit of its vaporous atmosphere. As the above article described Neptune, the dense atmosphere of Earth was a “vast ocean”, “and the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters”.

“And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.
And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness.
And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And the evening and the morning were the first day.” (Vs. 3-5). Our Creator appeared with His angelic hosts, “the morning stars” who “sang together” and “all the sons of God” who “shouted for joy” (Job 38:7).

“And God said, Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters.
And God made the firmament, and divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament: and it was so.
And God called the firmament Heaven. And the evening and the morning were the second day.” (Gen. 1:6-8). Our Creator called to the water vapor to rise and condense above, this leaving the heavier, already condensed water wrapping the planet in a world-wide flood of pure water. “He spake, and it was done.” (Ps. 33:9).

“And God said, Let the waters under the heaven be gathered together unto one place, and let the dry land appear: and it was so.” (Gen. 1:9,10). “He commanded, and it stood fast.” (Ps. 33:9).

Mighty cataclysmic eruptions moved the tectonic plates that were deep beneath the liquid ocean floor. Plates collided and buckled, uplifting the bottom of the ocean above its surface. As the water drained, rivers formed, and a water-based ecology was born.

“And God called the dry land Earth; and the gathering together of the waters called He Seas: and God saw that it was good.” (Gen. 1:9,10). The continents (Earth) appeared, surrounded by a vast ocean. There was much water, much more than land. The remaining water left on the uplifted tectonic plates existed in pockets as lakes, small and great. Thus, with water under the firmament canopy covering the majority of Earth’s surface, the land was inundated with water vapor wafting over it; and, thus there was no need for rain.

“And God said, Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb yielding seed, and the fruit tree yielding fruit after his kind, whose seed is in itself, upon the earth: and it was so.
And the earth brought forth grass, and herb yielding seed after his kind, and the tree yielding fruit, whose seed was in itself, after his kind: and God saw that it was good. And the evening and the morning were the third day.” (vs. 11-13).

“And God said, Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years:
And let them be for lights in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth: and it was so.
And God made two great lights; the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night.” (vs. 14-16).

For three days the Creator has been the new creation’s Life-giver. Now He finally provides it with a host star, at just the right distance for this sunless planet to soak in the life-giving light and heat, without our planet being over- or under-exposed. To our sun He delegated the role of sustaining the life that He gave the planet. He has brought a pallid, lifeless world to life and glory.

“He made the stars also.” (Vs. 16).

This could mean that our galaxy, the Milky Way, did not exist until the fourth day of creation. But, it seems more likely that it existed, but not where the proto-Earth sphere was located. This planet, like an unfertilized egg, without life and a hosting star, didn’t even have a galactic home in which to harbor itself. Our dark orb sat suspended in the blackness of a phenomenally gigantic void between galaxies. Either Earth was brought to its star and moon, or they were brought to this Earth in progress.

“And God set them [the sun and moon] in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth,
And to rule over the day and over the night, and to divide the light from the darkness: and God saw that it was good.
And the evening and the morning were the fourth day.” (Vs. 17-19).

Our Creator situated the Moon at a unique distance from Earth (but not coincidentally), just so that its size appeared to be the same as the Sun—which was 400 times larger, yet 400 times more distant than the Moon. So, to Adam and Eve the two heavenly objects looked the same size, and the two earthbound, intelligent and inquisitive, beings could look up and relate the two in many ways, learning more about the great Creators whose name was in plural, “Elohim”.

They could deduce from the brightness of one shining orb compared to the other that One Creator was greater than the other One. Even as Jesus later said, “Why callest thou Me good? there is none good but one, that is, God.” (Matt. 19:17). “My Father is greater than I.” (John 14:28). The Father, later because of sin, had to set Himself off to the side, and His Son thus sacrificed His existence to undo the case Lucifer had sought to destroy the Father and His kingdom. “And when all things shall be subdued unto Him, then shall the Son also Himself be subject unto Him that put all things under Him, that God may be all in all.” (1Cor. 15:28).

And the holy pair saw that the Milky Way represented all the myriads of  “watchers...and...holy ones.” (Dan. 4:17). As David and Paul wrote of Christ and His hosts, “Thou hast loved righteousness, and hated iniquity; therefore God, even Thy God, hath anointed Thee with the oil of gladness above Thy fellows.” (Heb. 1:9). The angels would be the teachers of Adam and Eve, and the new intelligent beings would enjoy their time “under tutors and governors until the time appointed of the Father.” (Gal. 4:2).

So a world was born, populated with fish and birds and animals, and finally, personally and delicately, with humans. “And God [Elohim] saw every thing that He had made, and, behold, it was very good. And the evening and the morning were the sixth day.” (Gen. 1:31). In six days it all came together by Christ’s voice; and in the case of Adam and Eve, by His hands and breath.

“For by Him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by Him, and for Him:
And He is before all things, and by Him all things consist….
For it pleased the Father that in Him should all fulness dwell.” (Col. 1:16,17,19).

Then, on the seventh day, He rested from His nice work, and He rested with Adam and Eve. He led them in song and in lessons derived from His creation. He gave them a personal, guided tour of their garden home. He rejoiced in the holy couple as they rejoiced. A simple home, He gave them all that joy and life require.

“Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them. And on the seventh day God ended His work which He had made; and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had made. And God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it: because that in it He had rested from all His work which God created and made.” (Gen. 2:1-3).

Long before there was a Jew or an Israelite; long before the Law of Moses, the Sabbath—the Lord’s day—existed. In contrast to Israel’s ceremonial laws which looked forward to Christ’s redemption, “having a shadow of good things to come,” through the weekly Sabbath, God’s people looked back to creation. (Heb. 10:1). The seventh day Sabbath has, since the beginning, been a memorial of Creation week.

Couched in the bosom of His Ten Commandments, the Lord God set the Sabbath commandment surrounded by supporting nine other principles, the Sabbath personifying God as He sits surrounded by His hosts of heaven which continually worship before Him who “inhabitest the praises of Israel.” (Ps. 22:3). The other commandments come on strongly, demanding obedience. The fourth, the Sabbath commandment, is an invitation that begins with “Remember the Sabbath day…”

Its stipulations easily understood, it is clear as a bell which day of the week God calls His Sabbath, “The seventh day is the sabbath of the LORD thy God” (Ex. 20:10). While it was an invitation, it was a rather loud one from Mount Sinai, with great fanfare. Lightning and thunder, a trumpet blasting louder and louder, God’s voice booming out the invitation. Said Moses to the trembling people, “God is come to prove you, and that His fear may be before your faces, that ye sin not.” (Vs. 20).

Have we lost His fear and forgotten His day to remember His great work as Creator and Deliverer from sin? Have we forgotten that this planet was nothing at one time, and now it is full of life and beauty, curiosity and challenge? Have we walked away from our great Benefactor after all that He has given us? Will we return and remember Him on His special day of fellowship with us, while we spend time with Him in His holy Bible and in the lessons that the angelic hosts will still teach us from nature?

He created to rest; He labored to rest. He looked forward to the time He would have with the holy pair, bequeathing the abundant world to His beloved Adam and Eve. “Let us labour therefore to enter into that rest.” (Heb. 4:11). “There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God. For he that is entered into His rest, he also hath ceased from his own works, as God did from His.” (Heb. 4:9,10). He still looks forward to time spent together with us.

The two pillars of divine love

God’s love has been expressed in His justice no less than in His mercy. Justice is the foundation of His throne, and the fruit of His love. It had been Satan’s purpose to divorce mercy from truth and justice. He sought to prove that the righteousness of God’s law is an enemy to peace. But Christ shows that in God’s plan they are indissolubly joined together; the one cannot exist without the other. “Mercy and truth are met together; righteousness and peace have kissed each other.” Psalm 85:10.

By His life and His death, Christ proved that God’s justice did not destroy His mercy, but that sin could be forgiven, and that the law is righteous, and can be perfectly obeyed. Satan’s charges were refuted. God had given man unmistakable evidence of His love.

Another deception was now to be brought forward. Satan declared that mercy destroyed justice, that the death of Christ abrogated the Father’s law. Had it been possible for the law to be changed or abrogated, then Christ need not have died. But to abrogate the law would be to immortalize transgression, and place the world under Satan’s control. It was because the law was changeless, because man could be saved only through obedience to its precepts, that Jesus was lifted up on the cross. Yet the very means by which Christ established the law Satan represented as destroying it. Here will come the last conflict of the great controversy between Christ and Satan.
Desire of Ages, p. 762.

The two pillars of love are the same but different. They appear opposites, yet are compliments. Justice and mercy appear again and again throughout God’s word because the two make up the essential constitution of His government in His throne and throughout His creation.

Though it is far from comprehensive, the following is a list of the two pillars:

Christ’s mercy and truth Ps. 85:10;100:5;115:1; Mic. 7:20
His righteousness and peace Ps. 85:10
His protection and truth Ps. 91:4,5
His Judgment and redemption Ps. 111:7,9
His servanthood and loosing us from bondage Ps. 116:16
His merciful kindness and truth Ps. 114:2; 138:2
His gracious granting of the Law Ps. 119:29
His liberty and the precepts Ps. 119:45
Weeping during the night and joy in the morning Ps. 30:5
Wrestling with the Savior all night and assurance of salvation at daybreak Gen. 32:24,26
Beauty for ashes Is. 61:3
Garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness Is. 61:3
Oil of joy for mourning Is. 61:3
Jesus calling sinners to repentance Matt. 9:13

The two juxtaposed and counterbalancing aspects of love are blended so indivisibly as to appear as one homogenous whole, and so tightly intertwined that when we taste of His hatefulness of sin that we sense His gracious protection for us; and when we taste of His goodness we immediately sense His reproof. And round and round it goes. Is this confusion? Does this make for bipolar fanatical psychotics?

No, not at all. It provides the psychological environment for balance and peace. There is no confusion in God’s architecture; any confusion must be the product of our inborn rebellion toward His faithful reproofs.

The ever presence of justice and mercy both have one purpose, source, and end—love—an infinitely deep love, a healing, purifying love, which Satan detests. He can’t live with love for a moment. In it’s presence he must flee to one or the other extreme—drunken self-indulgent presumption on God’s grace, or ascetic, self-pitiful, morose wailing toward His condemnation.

The Son of God loves His Father’s stern rebuke and painful sorrow for all things less impeccably perfect than He is. I wonder if the bleached pure God of all creation even has wrath toward His Son. But the Son bears up under the inferno of infinite condemnation because He discerns the unspeakable grief in His Father, the supra-epitome “MAN OF SORROWS.” And this satisfies the Almighty, the “One” who “sat on the throne” “in heaven.” (Rev. 4:2).

The Son’s condemnation comes from His mediation for all His creation, which, apart from Him, would be imperfect to the Father. “Behold, He putteth no trust in His saints; yea, the heavens are not clean in His sight.” (Job 15:15). By His Father’s standard, His Son’s divine perfection appears to be tarnished by His association with His beloved created works. But the Most High God looks beyond the apparent dishonor on His holy Son to His Son’s infinite love and labor pains for His creation. The Ancient of Days sees that His Son retains His own inherent lightning-clean impeccability, and He justifies His Son because of His Son’s divine infinite faith and love.

None but the Prince receives the King’s admiration and blessing, “In Him I am well pleased. Let all the angels worship Him.” But all creation receives divine approval through the Son’s approbation before God. In the Prince they are accepted by the great King of heaven. The Son basks in His Father’s zero tolerance for sin, and shines forth His own acceptance and fear of God to all creation in a continuous flow of atonement, as all creation disseminates, from the higher order of beings to the lower, the Son’s grace and His suffering for their imperfection in the King’s judgment.

There’s a wideness in God’s mercy,
Like the wideness of the sea;
There’s a kindness in His justice,
Which is more than liberty.

The two pillars manifest themselves in different forms. But in looking at their varying manifestations we get a fullness of the breadth and length and depth of the love of God.

God’s commandments and delight Ps. 119:143
His close friendship and truth Ps. 119:151
His precepts and loving-kindness Ps. 119:159
His righteousness and joy Ps. 132:9
His terrible acts and goodness Ps. 145:6,7
His faithfulness and truth Is. 25:1
His peace and truth Is. 39:8; Jer. 33:6; Zech 8:16,19; Eph 6:14,15
His gentleness and judgment Is. 42:3
His righteousness and blessing Jer. 4:2
His truth and intimacy Jer. 9:3
His truth and rest Jer. 9:5
His truth and life Jer. 10:10
His truth, judgment and mercy, compassion Zech. 7:9
His peace and equity Mal. 2:6
His wrath and mercy Hab. 3:2; Rom. 9:22,23
His grace and truth Jn. 1:14,17; Co. 1:6
His spirit and truth Jn. 4:24; 2Thess. 2:13; 1Pet. 1:22
His Spirit of comfort and truth Jn. 14:16,17
His offer to abide with Him and His purging Jn. 15:2,4
His goodness and severity Rom. 11:22
Sincerity and truth 1Cor. 5:8
Kindness and rejoicing not in iniquity 1Cor. 13:4,6
Truth and His boasting of us 2Cor. 7:14
His truth and forbearance 2Cor. 12:6
His convicting signs and enduring patience 2Cor. 12:12
Truth and surrender Gal. 2:5
Requirements of His Law and the word of faith Gal. 3:1
Blessedness and truth. Gal. 4:15,16
His truth and accepting mistreatment Gal. 4:16
The Spirit and righteousness Gal. 5:5
Truth and admonition Gal. 5:8
Truth and loving-kindness Eph. 4:15
Truth as it is in Jesus Eph. 4:21
The Spirit’s goodness and righteousness Eph. 5:9
Truth and entreaty Phil. 4:3
Justice and loveliness Phil. 4:8
Life and truth 1Thess. 1:9
Truth and desire to save. 1Tim. 2:4
Wisdom and peace, gentleness Jas. 3:17
Truth through the Spirit unto pure, fervent love 1Pet. 1:22
Truth and fruitful knowledge of Jesus 2Pet. 1:8
Truth and affection 2Jn. 1; 3Jn. 1
Rejoicing and truth 3Jn. 4
Faithful and true witness Rev. 3:14;19:11;21:5;22:6
Judgment and blessing Is. 30:18
The Lord waiting to be gracious Is. 30:18
Provoking unto love Heb. 10:24; Lk. 10:39,40
The rebuke that is love Acts of the Apostles p. 516
The blow that wounds to heal Acts of the Apostles p. 516
The warning that speaks hope Acts of the Apostles p. 516
Provoking to jealousy Rom. 10:19
Provoking to emulation Rom. 11:14
Provoking to zeal 2Cor. 9:12
Nurture and admonition Gal. 6:4
Condemnation and promise Gal. 3:23
Faithful wounds of a friend Prov. 27:6

A picture is worth a thousand words

“A picture is worth a thousand words.” This age-old proverb has stood the test of time. Isn’t it true of a picture? You go to an art museum and look at the Van Gogh's and the DaVinci’s and Michelangelo’s. Each stroke of the brush says so much. In each brushstroke of the painter dwells a paragraph of the artist’s thoughts.

Let’s say, we want to learn to play the guitar. Just to explain how to hold the chord hand would take a page of writing, not to mention the words to explain the hand that picks strings. But you get a book and it shows you photos of the places on the neck that make certain chords, and which strings and what frets to use. An illustrated guitar book is a thousand times better than a book with only words.

But if a picture is worth a thousand words, a moving picture is worth a million words. On a DVD you see the hand actually move from one chord to the other, the slight adjustments up and down the neck. You see the fingers picking or strumming at the exact timing of the chord hand to produce the correct coordination for making beautiful music. You can learn much faster with a moving picture than still photos because you have a living example to watch.

Yet there is an even better teacher than just the written word, or a picture or even a motion picture. That is having a living person right in front of you, a private teacher to coach you just when you make a mistake. This person can answer questions, on the spot, as they come to your mind. This mentor encourages you and compliments you, which someone who was taped on a DVD can’t do, because the DVD person doesn’t know you. What more can you ask for? Learning will be very rapid now!

Yet there is a better situation to learn from. What if you have a living person who is your best friend, who loves to be with you and you love to be with that friend. This isn’t just any teacher or mentor, even if your friend and a generic guitar teacher know the guitar equally well. The added element of love, close friendship brings in a whole new dimension to learning.

Paul’s letter to the Roman Christians says something similar in regard to learning to be good. He said we are all born bad, real bad. Rom. 3:19 says the world stands guilty and mute before God. In Rom. 7:14 we hear Paul—Saint Paul—saying that he is carnal and sold under sin. We inherited and have all our life indulged a fallen nature. We are as guilty of what we have become as our parents and grandparents and great grandparents—all the way back to Adam and Eve.

The nature we were born with is totally unholy. It doesn’t naturally desire to be like Jesus or to obey God’s law. Our first birth was greatly flawed, which is why we desperately need what God had provided—another birth. The second birth gives us a divine nature from the Holy Spirit that loves to obey Gods’ law and it wants to be just like Jesus.

Rom. 8:3 says that the written words of God’s law couldn’t give us obedience, even though they were designed to. Gal. 3:21 says that righteousness—being good, perfect and loving under all circumstances—should be the product of hearing the Law’s instructions that describe the holy life, how to live as a Christian. It should have been enough and would have been if we had had the willingness to accept correction.

But anyone who still has the fallen human nature quickly finds out that an inborn rebellion rises up at the thought of being told to conform to the lifestyle of angelic perfection. “Nobody tells me what to do! I’m my own boss!” Pure pride rules the fallen human nature at its deepest levels—Satan’s gift to mankind.

But God, in His infinite mercy, because He wants to have us back and to live with us for the rest of eternity has provided an alternative method to His holy Law. He gave pictures in nature that make it easier to accept the lessons of righteousness, as trees, rocks, birds and bees minister to the life of other creatures. Nature should have been enough to teach us about self-sacrificing love. But we failed to study it and see the spiritual lessons there.

Then He sent prophets, living examples of the holiness He wanted us to see and receive into the heart. He sent real people with the same infirmities as we have, and who suffered at the hands of the people they came to teach perfect surrender and obedience. But even they weren’t enough to convince us to submit the heart to God.

So last of all God gave us the perfect teacher—One who loved us because He had personally formed our first father from the ground and bent over him, breathing life into his nostrils. His every act was love—every touch, every look, every work of encouragement. He befriended people, and then introduced precepts of His Father’s law. Everything was encapsulated in love.

This living example of love by the Son of God was absolutely the best that God could give us. He sent Him who was the joy of the angelic hosts. He sent all heaven in one gift to this desperately corrupt world, in the very territory claimed by His ferocious adversary. This is enough—Christ is the best teacher if we are ever going to learn to be holy.

“All that the Father giveth Me shall come to Me ; and him that cometh to Me I will in no wise cast out.” (Jn. 6:37). If we will look at Him, study Him, let Him do a miracle with our hearts thru this Holy Spirit, then He will lead us into such a surrender to Him that in doing His will we will be fulfilling our own. He has become our mediator for the Law’s condemning disposition to our imperfections. But He will also lead us up higher and higher to His character, which is the goal of the Law. He will lead us to living fountains of water. His rod and His staff will be a comfort to us.

If we fail with the Master Teacher there is no provision left to bring us to godliness and love. Let us go to Him and seek His influence over us from studying His Bible, through talking with Him, and sharing with others what good things we’ve learned of Him and that He has done for us.

Rest or unrest?

Rest or unrest? The choice is ours.

“For thus saith the Lord GOD, the Holy One of Israel; In returning and rest shall ye be saved; in quietness and in confidence shall be your strength: and ye would not.” (Is. 30:15)

When Mary sat at Jesus’ feet, opening her heart to Him, did Jesus know her sister Martha’s temper was boiling along with the potatoes, as she cooked alone? John 2:24,25 says that Jesus knew what was on everyone’s heart and mind. So, if He knew Martha was getting close to boiling over, why did He continue letting Mary sit and listen to Him instead of telling her to get to work?

The lesson was twofold. Mary needed all the face time she could get with the Lord of glory while she was open to Him and not running the streets. And Martha needed to see what was in her. She was the person who had never done anything wrong, “righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless” “perfect and upright, ... that feared God, and eschewed evil.” (Lk. 1:6;Job 1:1)

Yet if righteousness were graded by our behavior and talents, Martha would have really had something to boast about—but not before God. And so the Lord drew her into a test so that she could see that, despite her outward personal charm and ability, she still had a fallen nature, and an unrepentant heart. So He provoked her.

Christ did to Martha just what he had been doing to the Jewish nation on a larger scale. His offer to Israel was salvation through returning and resting in the laws of Moses, and strength through quietness and confidence in His Spirit. But they weren’t interested in a covenant with those terms.

So He let them get embroiled in a mess of their own making, striving in vain to stave off their pagan enemies. Finally, all their resources drained, they had only had the strength to wave a white flag that read, “We give up.” Is. 30:15-17.

He is a God of judgment because our experiencing the consequences of our not coming to Him for rest and quietness is the only way we will learn surrender and a vital relationship with Him which leads to real obedience to His laws. “Behold, is it not of the Lord of hosts that the people shall labour in the very fire, and the people shall weary themselves for very vanity?” (Hab. 2:13).

Mary had the special privilege of sitting and resting spirit, soul, and body because she accepted Jesus’ love. Martha didn’t see much need in His offer of friendship and was left to slave away doing her own works. How did Mary get to the place that she made the right choice, which Jesus vowed would not be taken from her? How is it that Martha ended up cool toward Jesus until He provoked her to love?

Having no written documentation of their childhood, but being observant of children today, I would say that they developed their characters through childhood, starting from conception. We come into this world with certain predispositions and then life begins to reinforce those dispositions. Environment and inheritance; nurture and nature. And if I were an atheist, I would say that is all that makes us what we turn out to be as adults.

But having seen the providences of God and knowing what the Spirit of God can do in the heart, I can testify that the atheists, even if they have a Ph.D in psychology, don’t see the whole picture in the development of the mind, the character, and personality. There is the constant work of the Holy Spirit to bend our natural direction of life toward holiness and love, rather than Satan’s end of selfishness and hardness of heart.

We have millions of choices to either pity others or pity ourselves, to save others or to save ourselves in a myriad of insignificant circumstances. No matter what side of the tracks on which we were born and grew up; whether we were born with a silver spoon in our mouth or we go dumpster diving, we all face the exact same battery of Providence’s life’s tests. We may be well-dressed or wear clothes from the pawn shop, it doesn’t matter. Without realizing the long-term consequences of our choices during childhoood, we turn out to have a good or bad character—open to love or mocking it, susceptible to spiritual things or to atheism.

But God does not leave us in such a pit when we made decisions we could not have been fully conscious of. He does not hold us fully accountable for choices made before we had a conscience. He is certainly at a disadvantage with the devil who had a big head start in the race for possession of each soul on earth. But, as, energetic and unflappable as Satan is, the Creator and Redeemer can quickly, or eventually, surpass His adversary. Spread out before us He leaves His miraculously undeniable works of nature and the cosmos, and improves upon any person’s interest in the things of God.

He is at another disadvantage—He cannot lie; but Satan does constantly. God can’t force our obedience to Him, but Satan lives to force us into submission. Nevertheless, all who see the beauty in holiness and the great benefit of rest will be ushered into that which their soul longs for. “All that the Father giveth Me shall come to Me; and him that cometh to Me I will in no wise cast out.” (Jn. 6:37).

In the end, because in this fallen world sin was easier than self-sacrificing love, the majority that chose self-indulgence and self-exaltation, were only grabbing for a good seat on a sinking ship. This Babylon in which we live will fall before the Spirit of the Lord.

“Thus saith the Lord of hosts; The broad walls of Babylon shall be utterly broken, and her high gates shall be burned with fire; and the people shall labour in vain, and the folk in the fire, and they shall be weary.” “Thus shall Babylon sink, and shall not rise from the evil that I will bring upon her: and they shall be weary.” (Jer. 51:58,64). “But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.” (Is. 40:31).

We are evil

Hi sister,

Please don’t hurt me too much for saying you had inherited and cultivated tendencies to evil. :) Acually, yes you do have tendencies to evil! But, we all have inherited and cultivated evil tendencies. Jesus said, “If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask Him?” (Lk. 11:13). We are utterly evil through and through. We all stink pretty badly, “All our righteousnesses are like reaking filthy [diapers].” (Is. 64:6). (All of His righteousnesses are selfless and lovely. “Behold, He putteth no trust in His saints; yea, the heavens are not clean in His sight.” (Job 15:15). That was spoken of God the Father. Even the angels are not clean to Him, much less all His created works. And much, much less us sinners. But we have Jesus to help us evil people to stand before our God, whom Jesus said we can call our Father. Really good news.

Can we accept the truth about our wretched condition? That is the question for everyone who wants to be saved. On this one point teeters the beginning step for being saved or lost. If we fail here, there is no further steps toward salvation until the Holy Spirit can change our attitude on this point. And most will choose to be lost rather than be told they are evil. When I first read Lk. 11:13 (quoted above) I felt pretty insulted. I didn’t appreciate it. But then later I read Jesus saying, “But go ye and learn what that meaneth, I will have mercy (a hospital of sinners), and not sacrifice (great ostentatious worship, or, a museum of saints): for I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” (Matt. 9:13). Now, as long as He is willing to call me, I don’t mind what He calls me! And repentance is as much a gift as much as forgiveness is. (Acts 5:31).

Every false religion says that humans are basically good. Do you believe humans are basically good and just need a little behavior modification? Even Dr. Phil believes that. But the Bible teaches us that we need a complete makeover. Until Jesus comes again and changes us, we will retain our fallen, stinking human nature. He will justify us because we are humbled and sorry for and hate our sin, and that is all God needs to treat us as if we have never, ever sinned. He can treat us like Adam and Eve before they fell. So that’s pretty good treatment—like kings and queens. He will also sanctify us and start cleaning us up. This will be ongoing for the rest of our life. But not until He glorifies us will our evil tendencies finally go away.

I love you sister, and would never intentionally hurt you.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Traditions (Part II)

So Satan has false traditions within the church which God calls His own. Not that God put the false traditions there; they crept in without people suspecting it.

Paul writes of this. “That because of false brethren unawares brought in, who came in privily to spy out our liberty which we have in Christ Jesus, that they might bring us into bondage.” (Gal. 2:4). And John also relayed to us from Jesus, “I know thy works, and tribulation, and poverty, (but thou art rich) and I know the blasphemy of them which say they are Jews, and are not, but are the synagogue of Satan.” (Rev. 2:9).

Moses saw it happening to the Israelites in his day: “For I know that after my death ye will utterly corrupt yourselves, and turn aside from the way which I have commanded you.” (Deut. 31:29). Peter expected it. “But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction.
And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of.” (2Pet. 2:1,2).

Daniel saw it in vision happening to the future Christian church. “And he shall speak great words against the most High, and shall wear out the saints of the most High, and think to change times and laws.” (Dan. 7:25). “And he shall destroy wonderfully, and shall prosper, and practise, and shall destroy the mighty and the holy people.
And through his policy also he shall cause craft to prosper in his hand;…and by peace shall destroy many.” (Dan. 8:24-25).

“And in his estate shall stand up a vile person, to whom they shall not give the honour of the kingdom: but he shall come in peaceably, and obtain the kingdom by flatteries.
And with the arms of a flood shall they be overflown from before him, and shall be broken….
And after the league made with him he shall work deceitfully: for he shall come up, and shall become strong with a small people.
He shall enter peaceably even upon the fattest places of the province; and he shall do that which his fathers have not done, nor his fathers’ fathers; he shall scatter among them the prey, and spoil, and riches.…
He shall … have indignation against the holy covenant:…and have intelligence with them that forsake the holy covenant.
And arms shall stand on his part, and they shall pollute the sanctuary of strength, and shall take away the daily sacrifice, and they shall place the abomination that maketh desolate.” (Dan. 11:21-24,30,31). And only those who “know their God” and “understand” can discern the replacement of a false religion for the true, while “the wicked” who “forsook the holy covenant” shall not understand. “The wicked shall do wickedly: and none of the wicked shall understand.” (Dan. 12:10).

This very ruse of false religion Jesus brought to light. “He answered and said unto them, Why do ye also transgress the commandment of God by your tradition? …
But in vain they do worship Me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.” (Matt. 15:3,9). How subtle the serpent is! But, to the heart yearning for God’s love, living in a loveless, Christless religion, and finally finding Christ and His love, how obvious the lie of false religion! Even those ignorant in the details of theology, who have come to know the love of Jesus, see the fallacious façade and boldly say to the reigning doctors of the law, “Will ye also be His disciples?” (Jn. 9:27).

Not only in religion and theology, but the scripture speaks of other forms of false traditions elsewhere. “Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.” (Col. 2:8). “O Timothy, keep that which is committed to thy trust, avoiding profane and vain babblings, and oppositions of science falsely so called. Which some professing have erred concerning the faith.” (1Tim. 6:20,21).

This counsel concerned philosophy, secular and even spiritualistic traditions. Philosophy and science attempt to explain nature, “to know, and to search, and to seek out…the reason of things.” (Ecc. 7:25). This is not forbidden in the Bible. They want to find the meaning of life, and the causes of natural forces, results we detect with our senses. But, divorced from the Bible, excluding its evidence, only leads away from truth. All that philosophy and science did for Solomon was provide a wisdom that led into “madness and folly.” (Ecc. 2:12). It drove him to “vanity and vexation of spirit, and…no profit under the sun.” (Verse 11). It ended in his total “confusion of face.” (Ezra 9:7).

Without the true understanding of the character of God and faith in Him, the human mind will never decipher the cause and meaning of life. Curiosity and inquisitiveness alone are not sufficient resources to comprehend life because of the influence of limited human understandings and explanations we’ve been taught all of our lives. Ignorant of God, this world and life will remain an incomprehensible and spirit-deadening chaos. Human philosophy is good as far as it goes, until it stops short of glorifying God and His law; then it immediately begins a descent into darkness and confusion.

“Behold, they are all vanity; their works are nothing: their molten images are wind and confusion.” (Isa. 41:29). “They shall be ashamed, and also confounded, all of them: they shall go to confusion together that are makers of idols.” (Isa. 45:16).

Idols of opinion within human philosophy do no differently. Only God in Christ can deliver us from the confusion Satan and his agents use to leach faith and hope from the human soul.

Egypt was the home of the most ancient atheism, rebellion, and philosophy. Egypt spread these aspects of paganism into Greece. God in vain tried to warn Israel away from any further association with them. “Therefore shall the strength of Pharaoh be your shame, and the trust in the shadow of Egypt your confusion.” (Isa. 30:3). “Do they provoke Me to anger? saith the LORD: do they not provoke themselves to the confusion of their own faces?” (Jer. 7:19).

All the atheism and bold worldliness and promiscuity of Egypt led, and its modern counterpart in secularism today will lead, to one inescapable end. A totally reprobate mind, devoid of balance and mental health, and a reckless life careening to its own destruction. Without the truth of God’s character, atheistic philosophy and science are simply extensions of spiritualism. It is spiritualism disguised as natural law and it covertly dooms it adherents to perpetual depression; it blights the mind with darkness, stealing from it any remaining childhood innocence, joy, and friendship. “And they shall look unto the earth; and behold trouble and darkness, dimness of anguish; and they shall be driven to darkness.” (Isa. 8:22).

Another form of false traditions is what the Bible calls, vain conversation. “Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers.” (1Pet. 1:18). This form of evil looks safe because we learned it from our parents; and since everyone does it, it seems very natural and normal. It’s the home-grown jokes, the ribbing, teasing, horse laughter, the gossip, the cool friendships, the jesting, and the stubbornness in advancing higher in character. These may seem innocuous to life, yet they were absent in Christ’s character and are foreign to the Holy Ghost and the angelic hosts. All Jesus knew was excellence, which He saw in His infinitely pure and holy Father.

We learn these traditions from our environment, our family, extended family, neighborhood, our work place. Even the media, through the TV and radio and internet, urge us along in these deeply rooted “natural” habits and practices. It is the general acceptance and norms which train us in the use of crude speech, crudeness in thinking and in a careless attitude toward responsibilities entrusted to us.

These traditions’ daring braggadocio declares publicly that the traditions held by such a person are unchangeable, which it inherited from his parents and family, and such an individual refuses thus to even try to reform.

The fathers’ traditions appear in the game of cut-downs on a person’s weaknesses, instead of selflessly working to lift them up and helping them overcome their weaknesses. So self-exaltation and cruelty and prejudice have a part in “traditions of the fathers.”

Other traditions of our fathers permit the human to cross into open transgression while seeming right and feigning innocence. We see these traditions in the little white lies, the stealing for “survival”; its about carelessness toward bringing glory to our Creator, the love of popularity and making the local set of taboos the standard instead of the law of God—the source of natural law. It answers to the Psalmist’s verse, “It is time for Thee, Lord, to work: for they have made void Thy law.” (Ps. 119:126).

Followers of natural law would have fled from all these traditions of the fathers because it would have discerned an absence of trust and love, which childlikeness thrives on.

The Holy Spirit directly guides all those in whom natural law dwells. “For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves:
Which shew the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the mean while accusing or else excusing one another.” (Rom. 2:14,15). These, who have natural law but don’t have the Bible, will be the first to recognize its holiness and great worth, and will accept it joyfully. They have faith; and though their faith in God needs more definition and instruction, they have peace and grace. They even have experience in God’s providence in their behalf.

They are Gentiles, as the churched people would judge them. Yet they have more divine wisdom than many church folks. They have put the unknown God to the test and He came through for them because of their faith. Examples of this are Jephthah, the half-breed; the wise men from the east who knew more about the Messiah than the Jews did, and had the faith to act on that knowledge; the shepherds feeding their flocks near Bethlehem and largely ignorant of the Old Testament scriptures, yet rehearsing their hopes in the Messiah.

“Thus saith the Lord, Keep ye judgment, and do justice: for My salvation is near to come, and My righteousness to be revealed.
Blessed is the man that doeth this, and the son of man that layeth hold on it; that keepeth the sabbath from polluting it, and keepeth his hand from doing any evil.
Neither let the son of the stranger, that hath joined himself to the Lord, speak, saying, The Lord hath utterly separated me from His people: neither let the eunuch say, Behold, I am a dry tree.
For thus saith the Lord unto the eunuchs that keep My sabbaths, and choose the things that please Me, and take hold of My covenant;
Even unto them will I give in Mine house and within My walls a place and a name better than of sons and of daughters: I will give them an everlasting name, that shall not be cut off.
Also the sons of the stranger, that join themselves to the Lord, to serve Him, and to love the name of the Lord, to be His servants, every one that keepeth the sabbath from polluting it, and taketh hold of My covenant;
Even them will I bring to My holy mountain, and make them joyful in My house of prayer: their burnt offerings and their sacrifices shall be accepted upon Mine altar; for Mine house shall be called an house of prayer for all people.
The Lord God which gathereth the outcasts of Israel saith, Yet will I gather others to him, beside those that are gathered unto him.” (Isa. 56:1-8).

All the traditions from Satan dissolve away when we enlist ourselves with Jesus and abide in the Beloved, “under whose wings thou art come to trust.” (Ruth 2:12). “Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep His commandments: for this is the whole duty of man.” (Ecc. 12:13). “Fear God, and give glory to Him; for the hour of His judgment is come: and worship Him that made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters.” (Rev. 14:7).

Traditions (Part I)

The word of God defines traditions in two main categories: specific doctrines of His overall law or truth; and, false doctrines of Satan’s overall lie. God’s traditions or doctrines or statutes are based on “charity out of a pure heart, and of a good conscience, and of faith unfeigned.” (1Tim. 1:5).

Satan’s traditions are based on his own hatred and lust from an impure and hardened heart, his evil conscience, and his faked proud profession of faith, which he tries to pass to us as truth.

Satan is ever in the work of redefining what God calls the truth. God speaks, and it is; and our spiritual and intellectual makeup sees the validity in God’s truth. His law of love rings true; His principles of trust, grace, discipline, and punishment strike a chord of harmony deep in our hearts, and brings us peace. God’s law of love, then, is a law of peace. Even as He is the God of peace. “The very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (1Thess. 5:23).

God’s law of peace agrees with Natural law, a concept which John Locke in the 17th century, developed and became greatly influential in British and American law. Natural law simply states that a practice that brings about good between neighbors and produces peace and tranquility in the land; if it is seen in healthy, happy minds unbiased by ideas and traditions that contradict a selfless spirit, then that practice is honorable, beneficial, and worthy of our adherence and immitation.

Natural law can be seen most clearly in young children or in a small segment of adults who have retained their childlike heart. In toddlers and pre-schoolers we see love and compassion, mercy and fellowship, desire for relationship and reconciliation. We see physical touch, pure and holy brotherly and sisterly love, and unity of heart. Natural law can be summed up in Paul’s statement, “There is no law against love, joy, peace, patience, gentleness, goodness, meekness, and faith.” (Gal. 5:23). (My version).

We see it in what David and Jonathan had. “And it came to pass, when he had made an end of speaking unto Saul, that the soul of Jonathan was knit with the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul….
Then Jonathan and David made a covenant, because he loved him as his own soul.
And Jonathan stripped himself of the robe that was upon him, and gave it to David, and his garments, even to his sword, and to his bow....” (1Sam. 18:1-4). Friendship, simple and deep, inspired by the Spirit of God. In those young men we see the fruits of natural law—cleaving to one another in heart and soul—“all that is within me.” (Ps. 103:1). We see the giving away of personal belongings, we see compact-making—not for the selfish gaining of some united political power or networking, but as an expression of commitment, lest time and distance separate and end the love that brought such natural joy and life to each soul.

Paul expressed natural love, the fruit of natural law, when he wrote to the Roman Christians. “For I long to see you, that I may impart unto you some spiritual gift, to the end ye may be established; that is, that I may be comforted together with you by the mutual faith both of you and me.” (Rom. 1:11,12). A longing to meet in person, the giving of the spiritual gifts of love and hope in God, the unselfish uplifting and strengthening of their faith, a union and communion together, and a mutual expression of faith in Christ. These are all the fruits of natural love and law.

Paul certainly was a father to the Gentile churches. Several times in scripture we see believers feeling perfectly unafraid to embrace, not only what he was saying, but his person also. “Howbeit certain men clave unto him, and believed: among the which was Dionysius the Areopagite, and a woman named Damaris, and others with them.” (Acts 17:34). “They all wept sore, and fell on Paul's neck, and kissed him, sorrowing most of all for the words which he spake, that they should see his face no more. And they accompanied him unto the ship.” (Acts 20:37,38).

John Locke saw the beauty of natural law, but believed it possible to originate from the natural man. This however is a fallacy. Our natures have been poisoned by sin and separated from our Creator, the sole source of natural love. The only reason natural law could have worked in Britain and America was because God had given them Protestantism as His means to infuse their hearts with His grace and divine love.

But in both nations Protestantism lost its first love for the relationship with Jesus and loving obedience. In not striving to keep righteousness by faith they lost their garment from the loom of heaven. Their time and effort were drawn away from the relationship with Jesus and driven to the fight against Satan and sin. This was their undoing, because Satan always wins in a fight. After that England and the United States both forfeited their pure Constitutions and sold themselves to the church of Rome, the home of institutionalized righteousness without faith or dependence on Jesus, and of brutal dictatorial government.

Only the Law of God can be trusted as the source of natural law. It is truly the one great treatise for peace on earth, if it comes through faith in its Redeemer. I say, its Redeemer, not in the sense that the Law needs to be redeemed; but in the sense that the Law “was weak through the flesh,” that is, it had no flesh. (Rom. 8:3). Because we saw no gracious Person behind it, the fullness of love revealed in the Law was lost to our understanding and to our expression. Our sin left us atheists and incapable of trusting in a loving God; thus, our view of the Law was devoid of a God of love behind it. Now, through the act of God in His Son’s sacrificial life and death, His law of natural love can and must be viewed through Christ, the heavenly Child, the little One from God, in order to correctly interpret the letter and spirit of His Law.

Religion can remain free of corruption only as Christ is uplifted and exalted. He is the standard for our character. His unselfish, self-sacrificing love, His gentleness and meekness, His inclusiveness and touch, best define the original law of God. But Satan had used God’s religion to redefine and alter, and then, overthrow it. Judaism was the perfect crime because it had the outward emblems of the ancient Hebrew religion from Abraham and Moses, but was completely void of the natural love of these patriarchs which they expressed to the people living in their day.

It was truly Satan’s synagogue riding on the back of the God’s original religion of love, sucking all the life from its host and controlling its reins and the hearts of the people. And the sin-loving multitudes were right at home with that kind of arrangement. “The prophets prophesy falsely, and the priests bear rule by their means; and My people love to have it so: and what will ye do in the end thereof?” (Jer. 5:31). Few questions, few cries out to God for evidence of His acceptance. Idolatry has their heart, and they are captives of Satan while their religion bears the right name. No wonder John said he marveled at the genius of false religion. (Rev. 17:6).

And false traditions go deep into the psyche, forming a world view that redefines God’s expectations. Paul, writing of his career as a Pharisee, said he “profited in the Jews’ religion above many my equals in mine own nation, being more exceedingly zealous of the traditions of my fathers.” (Gal. 1:14). He wasn’t looking for an excuse for idolatry; he genuinely wanted truth and believed he had it. But when his destructiveness, passion and self-gratuity came to light in the convicting presence of Jesus, he turned away from his old world view to the true world view in Christ. But it took the power of heaven to stop him in his tracks and to redirect him in the right tradition. And he confessed, “The grace of our Lord was exceeding abundant with faith and love which is in Christ Jesus.” (1Tim. 1:14). He finally understood that God wounds to heal; he saw what David meant, “Thy gentleness hath made me great.” (Ps. 18:35).

We can thank Jesus for staying with us in our driven, natural bent to kill and maim our “enemies of God” until He can teach us what “His custom was,” “ destroy men’s lives, but to save them.” (Lk. 4:16;9:56).

“He shall not fail nor be discouraged, till He have set judgment in the earth: and the isles shall wait for His law.” (Isa. 42:4).

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Ichabod, the taking of the glorious ark

“And she said, The glory is departed from Israel: for the ark of God is taken.” (1Sam. 4:22).

The context of this statement really begins around a sentiment of the children of Israel. “Men abhorred the offering of the Lord.” (1Sam. 2:17). Spirituality had taken a nose dive among the Israelites, and even the priests were leading out in it in Shiloh where the tabernacle of the congregation was located at the time. Eli, the high priest and father of the two priests, Hophni and Phinehas, had no moral conviction to punish his sons. Eli had turned a blind eye to God’s authority and chose to acknowledge only His grace, until he became like his mental icon of God and lost his own ability to discipline authoritatively.

So God became the object of Satan’s delightful mockery. Jehovah waited and waited for the dreadful condition of the temple worship to be corrected. “If we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged.” (1Cor. 11:31). Wise words. The Lord allowed time for Eli and his sons to heed the voice of the Holy Spirit. “Yet they tempted and provoked the most high God, and kept not His testimonies: but turned back, and dealt unfaithfully like their fathers: they were turned aside like a deceitful bow.” (Ps. 78:56,57). When the Lord saw that they and the people would not police themselves, He brought His judgment to bear against them.
“When God heard this, He was wroth, and greatly abhorred Israel: so that He forsook the tabernacle of Shiloh, the tent which He placed among men; and delivered His strength into captivity, and His glory into the enemy’s hand.” (Ps. 78:59-61). The most High gave up His own sanctuary of strength.

“And when the people were come into the camp, the elders of Israel said, Wherefore hath the Lord smitten us to day before the Philistines? Let us fetch the ark of the covenant of the Lord out of Shiloh unto us, that, when it cometh among us, it may save us out of the hand of our enemies.
So the people sent to Shiloh, that they might bring from thence the ark of the covenant of the Lord of hosts, which dwelleth between the cherubims: and the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, were there with the ark of the covenant of God.
…And the Philistines fought, and Israel was smitten, and they fled every man into his tent: and there was a very great slaughter; for there fell of Israel thirty thousand footmen.
And the ark of God was taken; and the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, were slain.” (1Sam. 4:3,4,10,11).

Rather than remembering the Lord’s covenant with them and His redemptive provision to forgive them and cleanse their heart, Israel forgot God and trusted in the empty articles of the sanctuary service. Because they loved the golden furniture and not the God of love to whom a study of that furniture would have pointed, He gave up His sacred implements to their enemies. In order to regain the loving faith and salvation of His children, He handed His precious ark over to the possession of Satan.

Four hundred years later, king Hezekiah had to do the same. “He…brake in pieces the brasen serpent that Moses had made: for unto those days the children of Israel did burn incense to it.” (2Ki. 18:4). Even in Gideon’s day they displayed the tendency to worship worship and the items of worship. “Gideon made [a golden] ephod thereof, and put it in his city, even in Ophrah: and all Israel went thither a whoring after it: which thing became a snare unto Gideon, and to his house.” (Jdg 8:27).

Five hundred years after Eli a similar occurrence was replayed. Solomon’s temple had replaced the tent tabernacle which Moses had erected. But the people again forsook their heavenly Father. For centuries throughout the period of the kings He looked for them to take hold of His strength that they might make peace with Him. But their love of provocative idolatry created a lack of desire for His quiet grace, which left them sinking continuously lower into heathen paganism and depravity. Finally, He raised up Babylon to quench their rebellious pride.

Jeremiah’s message to them reveals the same condition of spiritual things in Israel as 500 years in the past. He stood in the door of the sanctuary edifice and called to them under divine inspiration, “Hear the word of the Lord, all ye of Judah, that enter in at these gates to worship the Lord.…
Trust ye not in lying words, saying, The temple of the Lord, The temple of the Lord, The temple of the Lord.… Behold, ye trust in lying words, that cannot profit.
Will ye steal, murder, and commit adultery, and swear falsely, and burn incense unto Baal, and walk after other gods whom ye know not;
And come and stand before Me in this house, which is called by My name, and say, We are delivered to do all these abominations?
Is this house, which is called by My name, become a den of robbers in your eyes? Behold, even I have seen it, saith the Lord.” (Jer. 7:2,4,8-11).

Then he reminded them of what happened in Eli’s day and how the Lord gave away His holy things and would give up His temple because of their mingling of paganism and His pure worship. “But go ye now unto My place which was in Shiloh, where I set My name at the first, and see what I did to it for the wickedness of My people Israel.
And now, because ye have done all these works, saith the Lord, and I spake unto you, rising up early and speaking, but ye heard not; and I called you, but ye answered not;
Therefore will I do unto this house, which is called by My name, wherein ye trust, and unto the place which I gave to you and to your fathers, as I have done to Shiloh.
And I will cast you out of My sight, as I have cast out all your brethren, even the whole seed of Ephraim.” (Jer. 7:12-15).

They trusted in the temple and used it as a heathen lucky charm, as their fathers had done to the ark.

Even after two desolating conquests by Nebuchadnezzar, as long as the temple stood, unfaithful Judah still believed God was with them. They could not be persuaded by Ezekiel that they had done so terribly wickedly and that all their calamities were punishment from heaven, until Nebuchadnezzar finally razed their magnificent holy building to the ground.

To their surprise, the day of the Lord was not a day for their victory. “Woe unto you that desire the day of the Lord! to what end is it for you? the day of the Lord is darkness, and not light….
Shall not the day of the Lord be darkness, and not light? even very dark, and no brightness in it?
I hate, I despise your feast days, and I will not smell in your solemn assemblies.” (Amos 5:18,20,21). They finally understood God “was wroth, and greatly abhorred Israel.” (Ps. 78:59).

“Now in the fifth month, in the tenth day of the month, which was the nineteenth year of Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon, came Nebuzaradan, captain of the guard, which served the king of Babylon, into Jerusalem, and burned the house of the Lord, and the king’s house; and all the houses of Jerusalem, and all the houses of the great men, burned he with fire.” (Jer. 52:12,13).

Daniel wasn’t present when the temple was torn down and burnt. But he was given a vision that seemed to replay that terrible event. His chapter 8 vision showed a horn that came in and desolated the faith of God’s people and then brought an end to the daily sacrifice and stomped on the heavenly sanctuary. See Dan. 8:9-12.

In Daniel’s more extensive Chapter 11 vision Gabriel told him, “He [the little horn power] shall be grieved, and return, and have indignation against the holy covenant: so shall he do; he shall even return, and have intelligence with them that forsake the holy covenant.
And arms shall stand on his part, and they shall pollute the sanctuary of strength, and shall take away the daily sacrifice, and they shall place the abomination that maketh desolate.
And such as do wickedly against the covenant shall he corrupt by flatteries.” (Dan. 11:30-32).

To this the question was asked by another angel in Daniel’s hearing, “How long shall it be to the end of these wonders?” (Dan. 12:6). And the answer came back from Christ with determined force, “It shall be for a time, times, and an half; and when He shall have accomplished to scatter the power of the holy people, all these things shall be finished.” (vs. 7).

This long prophetic period, mentioned once before in Dan. 7:25, is a Christian Dispensation event, for it is again repeated many times in Revelation. See Rev. 11:3;12:6,14;13:5. And it was spoken in the future tense. This is a long period because prophetic time is determined on a day-for-year principle of calculation. See Ezekiel 4:6 and Numbers 14:34. For 1,260 years the gospel and knowledge of Christ’s work for us in this Father’s sanctuary presence was taken away from our knowledge and given to Satan for his disposal. He cast it to the ground and trampled it under his evil feet. God handed over to the devil His vehicle for our redemption, as it was stated, “to give both the sanctuary and the host to be trodden under foot.” (Dan. 8:13). This blasphemy was seen in the Roman Papacy of Dark Ages infamy, which reigned from 538 to 1798.

But the question we need to ask is, Why did He do this? Was His church somehow culpable for the demolition of His gospel work? Would He permit this to happen arbitrarily? Satan is not stronger than God. So, is there a human cause, a failure of His church that called for such a disastrous measure? In short, was the ungodly and brutal Roman Catholic hierarchy punishment due to the short-coming of the church on a very significant issue?

I believe the answer is spelled out in the message to the apostolic church shortly after the passing of all John’s fellow apostles. “I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love.
Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent.” (Rev. 2:4,5). The good works were alive and well, still running on the momentum and strong memories of Paul and Peter, et al. But it was empty momentum, because surrender and total heart to heart connection, and seeking and preaching Jesus the Son of God was quickly disappearing from the souls of the church.

They felt that their good works were sufficient to depend on. It was obvious to them that God was with them. Christ was almost ready to come again for His church! There was no need to return to the old paths, rehearsing the bitter failures of Israel, and looking for the grace of Jesus. They trusted in their growing numbers. The church was safe from Satan…

So, after Christianity’s 400-some years of gradual, but continuous, backsliding into Egyptian asceticism and Roman Mithraism, “the Lord...delivered them into the hands of spoilers that spoiled them, and He sold them into the hands of their enemies round about, so that they could not any longer stand before their enemies.” (Judg. 2:14).

Peter warned them, “But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction.” (2Pet. 2:1).
And Paul did as well, “Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which He hath purchased with His own blood. For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock.” (Acts 20:28,29).

We deserve what we get and a million times worse

A friend helped me buy a new truck, my first new truck. I was not overwhelmed by it; I looked upon it as a gift, even though I was going to have to pay for it. I felt so undeserving that I was almost intimidated by it. I promised myself to forever take perfect care of it. That first consecration to the truck went so deep, that I still have it to this day. Today its old and inefficient, I’ve wrecked it and it’s seen a few other problems generated by me, but I can’t say good-bye to it. It’s a part of me.

We are undeserving of every good thing that we receive. And if we have life, if we woke up this morning, we have received at least one good thing, we have much for which to be thankful. God has been very gracious to us. And if we really thought about it, we receive many, many good things. Yet, we are undeserving of them all. But, how many don’t look at their life that way? How many feel they deserve all the benefits that they are loaded with? Many, many do.

Are you the type of person, who if you received $1 million, would be so humble to feel obligated to guard it as a gift and spend it extremely carefully? Or, would you blow it all on foolishness and self-indulgence? The first takes humility to effect and the second comes out of proud, boastful arrogance. “I got $1 million and spent it all in two years!”

Do we deserve death? Most would readily cry, NO! But, really, don’t we deserve death? Don’t we deserve eternal death? How much misery would the world be spared if we ceased to exist? Of course, it may be that we can be humbled and become a service to this world. But, honestly, how often does this happen and does it compensate for the misery we bring?

Shouldn’t we rather be asking God to kill us? That may sound foolish, but if we had a view of ourselves, a view by perfect eye-sight, wouldn’t each one of us say to God, “I deserve hell. Please, Sir, give it to me now”? I believe that very thing will be said on judgment day, when everyone, including Satan will see with unbiased vision what they did during the period of their existence. The Bible says that even Satan will bow his knee and confess that God was right all along and that he deserves hell.

We don’t know what we deserve. That’s why grace means so little to so many. Receiving something we don’t deserve is a non-issue to multitudes. Many don’t attach unmerited favor to anything. They work for their reward; they get what they feel they deserve. It’s as simple as that. No thank-you’s to their Creator and Benefactor; but, rather, a disgust toward anyone proposing the idea of gratitude!

On another idea, how much ingratitude there is from people who speak of God, but who see their wants as needs? What we consider as necessities to life, really are non-necessities which have been programmed into us because we exposed ourselves to the media: the TV, the radio, the internet, the billboards. It’s inevitable that opening our senses to the devil’s media will pervert our sense of what we really need the most, a self-denying life.

Christ’s media exposes our senses to a whole different rendition of needs. The Bible, nature, serving the worthy poor, uplifting the prisoners of vice and self-inflicted bad habits, sharing the love of God to a world of skeptics; all of this inspires us with appreciation of what we get, and even of the grace of our God for His infinite, unmerited blessings.

Monday, May 09, 2011

The law of His mouth is truth and grace

Hi sister,
I saw J____ last night and he mentioned you and the others. So, I decided to give you a buzz. The Lord is good and His mercy endureth forever, especially to those who call on Him. Which I’m sure you do.
Did you hear any of the Righteousness By Faith messages given by S____? How were they? Is A_____ still playing the piano. I bet she is getting better all the time. Are you still enjoying living in ____? I really miss it. Down here we have flat, flat, flattttttt everywhere. The only ups and downs are the interstate overpasses. :)
The Lord is good to us. I was thinking of Jesus’ truth and grace. EGW wrote of it in Desire of Ages:

In every gentle and submissive way, Jesus tried to please those with whom He came in contact. Because He was so gentle and unobtrusive, the scribes and elders supposed that He would be easily influenced by their teaching. They urged Him to receive the maxims and traditions that had been handed down from the ancient rabbis, but He asked for their authority in Holy Writ. Desire of Ages, p. 85.

His brothers felt that His influence went far to counteract theirs. He possessed a tact which none of them had, or desired to have. Desire of Ages, p.87.

Thus in an unobtrusive way He worked for the people from His very childhood. Desire of Ages, p. 92.

“He shall grow up before Him as a tender plant.” (Is. 53:2). And He always retained His childlike spirit, even when shouldering the weight of His Father’s gospel business. “Thou art fairer than the children of men: grace is poured into Thy lips: therefore God hath blessed Thee for ever.” (Ps. 45:2). “Thy people shall be willing in the day of Thy power, in the beauties of holiness from the womb of the morning: Thou hast the dew of Thy youth.” (Ps. 110:3). “We beheld His glory, the glory as of the only Begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.” (Jn. 1:14).

This seems to be the true revelation of Christ’s character. He had a caring way to present the convicting truth. He was the original Comforter who had convicted everyone He met, some with scathing rebukes, yet in obvious love.

“The isles shall wait for His law.” (Is. 42:4).
“The law of Thy mouth is better unto me than thousands of gold and silver.” (Ps. 119:72).
“And all bare Him witness, and wondered at the gracious words which proceeded out of His mouth.” (Lk. 4:22).
“And seeing the multitudes, He went up into a mountain: and when He was set, His disciples came unto Him: and He opened His mouth, and taught them...” (Matt. 5:1,2).

Wouldn’t you have loved to sit at His feet and listened to the law of His mouth?

Thursday, May 05, 2011

Our High Priest's fan is in His hand

“Whose fan is in His hand, and He will throughly purge His floor.” (Matt. 3:12).

He will scatter our self-confidence that resulted from His showing His great power in our behalf. Certainly, we must be especially important if the Almighty delivered the Reformation and Adventist forefathers! Right?

“Speak not thou in thine heart, after that the Lord thy God hath cast them out from before thee, saying, For my righteousness the Lord hath brought me in to possess this land…” —we don’t deserve the least credit or merit for what the Lord has done for the Protestant and Advent movements— “…but for the wickedness of these nations the Lord doth drive them out from before thee.
Not for thy righteousness, or for the uprightness of thine heart, dost thou go to possess their land: but for the wickedness of these nations the Lord thy God doth drive them out from before thee…
Understand therefore, that the Lord thy God giveth thee not this good land to possess it for thy righteousness; for thou art a stiffnecked people.” (Deut. 9:4-6).

We see ourselves not as “sinners of the Gentiles,” but rather, “[godly] by nature.” (Gal. 2:15). We, having been “ignorant of God’s righteousness, and going about to establish [our] own righteousness, have not submitted [our]selves unto the righteousness of God.” (Rom. 10:3). So, He is in the process of scattering our morality because we’ve used it to prop up our worthiness before God.

He will scatter our financial prosperity because we’ve used that also for merit. God prospers those who obey Him, right? Protestants must have been obedient. Hasn’t He prospered us; hasn’t God blessed America? Yet, He will scatter our prosperity to the furthest corners of the globe. And our riches will become “like the chaff of the summer threshingfloors; and the wind carried them away, that no place was found for them.” (Dan. 2:35). “I said, I would scatter them into corners, I would make the remembrance of them to cease from among men.” (Deut. 32:26). As we learned from Daniel 12:7 and Revelation 10:7, this threat from Jehovah through Moses wasn’t for ancient Israel only, but has been proclaimed against modern, spiritual Israel—i.e. us, the church.

All of our intelligence and technology, all our science and philosophy, all the talents and genius that people have depended upon for boasting, all our great achievements, all the “imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God,” will be cast down and scattered to the winds. (2Cor. 10:5). “The lofty looks of man shall be humbled, and the haughtiness of men shall be bowed down, and the Lord alone shall be exalted in that day.” (Isa. 2:11). “Though thou exalt thyself as the eagle, and though thou set thy nest among the stars, thence will I bring thee down, saith the Lord.” (Obad. 1:4).

“When He shall have accomplished to scatter the power of the holy people,” “the mystery of God [will] be finished.” (Dan. 12:7;Rev. 10:7). Christ will not cease His scattering work of His church until all hope in self is abandoned by His people, and their every thought is brought into captivity to the obedience of Christ. “For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.
Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble;
Every man’s work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is.
If any man’s work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward.” (1Cor. 3:11-14). Nothing but the pure gold of faith and love will endure. Mercy will stand the great test. “For…mercy rejoiceth against judgment.” (Jas. 2:13). Is the church building on such a foundation which Christ instituted? Or on the vain hopes of the religious, moral, self-exalted inventions of men? It will all be swept away in the coming storm.

Nothing which we’ve used to attach self-importance to will escape the corruption as Babylon continues to rise again. It will all appear in its inherent hideousness; we will see our idolatry plainly, as the grace and truth of Jesus is revealed in the Latter Rain of the Holy Spirit. The self-importance woven into religious conversations and the service to others and the preaching and Bible teaching, will abound in gross caricature. The anti-Christ power will appear, and the straight testimony of the True Witness will expose it completely.

The humble robe of Christ’s righteousness will be unworn by the vast religious multitudes of the world. Jokes will jump start hearts untouched by grace, even crude jokes. Hilarity and wry laughter will replace joy and rejoicing in God.

The supposed “holy” spirit will leave its mark everywhere. The worship to “God” will intensify to bring the Christians into its unrelenting hold. Laughing in the spirit and speaking in tongues will be vents for the stress growing in the psyches of Christendom who refuse to accept the truth about God’s Law and His Son who was born under the Law. They will increasingly need tense cries to “God” for peace, but their “God” is not the true God, he is God’s adversary. Their supposed “God” and “Jesus” have no plan to give any relief to the masses of religionists.

Only forgiveness and the gift of the Holy Spirit can give real peace. Only when the devil’s presence flees as Jesus comes by faith to the heart does peace come to the soul. And Satan’s hosts have no intention of fleeing from the bodies and minds of a whole world of his long-desired victims. After waiting 6000 years to acquire their prize the demonic hosts will never release them again.

Only this horible state of affairs—the plain and painful reality of independence from our Creator and Redeemer—will convince the stubborn human heart that is bent on claiming Job’s position, “I never did anything wrong! I’ve been righteous. I’ve been a good person. I’ve given my all for God. I’m caught up on all my religious duties; I’m all tithed up, all prayed up, all devotioned up, all tracted up. There is no possible way that God can refuse give me a place in His kingdom.”

But they never obeyed His command to rest in Him. His gospel was to them only something to do, and not Someone to know. They never sought Him out until He caught them. He will tell them, “I never knew you.” His fan is in His hand and He will thoroughly purge His floor. He will “gather His wheat into the garner; but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.” (Matt. 3:12).

All who were fearing God with all the light that they had will be able to stand through the final test of humiliation and conviction of sin by the Holy Spirit, and they will be drawn into Christ’s garner and be filled with all the fullness of God. They had spent their days suffering under the reproach by the servants of devils who had thrown themselves with abandon into the latest ecumenical, Charismatic rejection of God’s holy character.

“I will gather them that are sorrowful for the solemn assembly, who are of thee [God’s servants], to whom the reproach of it [the hypocritical solemn assembly] was a burden [a mental grief].
Behold, at that time I will undo all that afflict thee: and I will save her that halteth, and gather her that was driven out; and I will get them praise and fame in every land where they have been put to shame.
At that time will I bring you again, even in the time that I gather you: for I will make you a name and a praise among all people of the earth, when I turn back your captivity before your eyes, saith the Lord.” (Zeph. 3:18-20).

“Then shall the virgin rejoice in the dance, both young men and old together: for I will turn their mourning into joy, and will comfort them, and make them rejoice from their sorrow.
And I will satiate the soul of the priests with fatness, and My people shall be satisfied with My goodness, saith the Lord.” (Jer. 31:13,14).

“I will seek that which was lost, and bring again that which was driven away, and will bind up that which was broken, and will strengthen that which was sick: but I will destroy the fat and the strong; I will feed them with judgment.” (Ez. 34:16).

All who joined the papal Ecumenical and Charismatic movements became drunken fanatics who imbibed the hateful spirit of Satan and sought to harrass and to destroy the true servants of God who feared God and kept His commandments.

“For this is the day of the Lord God of hosts, a day of vengeance, that He may avenge Him of His adversaries: and the sword shall devour, and it shall be satiate and made drunk with their blood.” (Jer. 46:10).

“And I will punish the world for their evil, and the wicked for their iniquity; and I will cause the arrogancy of the proud to cease, and will lay low the haughtiness of the terrible.
I will make a man more precious than fine gold; even a man than the golden wedge of Ophir.” (Isa. 13:11,12).

“Come, and let us return unto the Lord: for He hath torn, and He will heal us; He hath smitten, and He will bind us up.
After two days will He revive us: in the third day He will raise us up, and we shall live in His sight.
Then shall we know, if we follow on to know the Lord: His going forth is prepared as the morning; and He shall come unto us as the rain, as the latter and former rain unto the earth.” (Hos. 6:1-3).