“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

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).


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