“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.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Peace and rest

Often I wake up earl in the morning full of peace. I am so rested that the peace flooding my soul allows Bible verses to come to mind—first one, then another associated with the first one, then another on the same subject. While I’m laying in that dreamy state I get to enjoy a Bible study and sermon and see insights I don’t get when I am fully conscious.

It’s a wonderful experience. My body is rested from its labor from the previous day, my brain is calm from the deep sleep I enjoyed and the Bible truth and grace brings peace to my soul as I trust in God my Creator and Life-giver. All the tensions have fled; no worries harass; no fears alarm. Maybe some religions call this limbo or nirvana. I call it the loving embrace of the Holy Spirit.

I am His child, and “underneath are the everlasting arms.” (Deut. 33:27). “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for Thou art with me; Thy rod and Thy staff they comfort me.” (Ps. 23:4). “He shall cover thee with His feathers, and under His wings shalt thou trust: His truth shall be thy shield and buckler.” (Ps. 91:4).

But often the glory of peace that comes with the thoughts of scripture fades away as the pressures and busyness of the day absorb my full focus. When the Bible thoughts disappear so goes away the life-giving wisdom-providing peace. If only I can have and keep that faith all day long!

Constant scripture and peace is what Enoch had. “Enoch walked with God after he begat Methuselah three hundred years, and begat sons and daughters:
And all the days of Enoch were three hundred sixty and five years:
And Enoch walked with God: and he was not; for God took him.” (Gen. 5:22-24). “Great peace have they which love Thy law: and nothing shall offend them.” (Ps. 119:165).

What an experience! To walk with God moment by moment, non-stop for 300 years! Day and night, in any situation receiving the life and knowledge of God that was needed to perfectly represent the Savior to His acquaintances. Adam must have coveted that kind of relationship Enoch had, as it reminded him of what he had in Eden. It was that walk that permitted God to invite him home early.

Noah also walked with God. “These are the generations of Noah: Noah was a just man and perfect in his generations, and Noah walked with God.” (Gen. 6:9). That union with Christ made him a righteous and holy man, perfect in everything he did. After centuries of communion and primitive godliness, God could trust Noah with the earth-altering, life-changing project that would hurt God more than relieve Him. Noah would be chosen to prepare the corrupted and guilty world, and then cooperate with God in saving the people from the world’s destruction.

Many others have walked with God moment by moment. Everyone whom God chose as His mouthpiece had come to trust Him and work in communion with Him. “For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.” (2Pet. 1:21). It was their love of God’s word and the character of His love and righteousness that it embodied that prepared these men to be called to the gift of prophecy. They already had allowed God to give them a love of the truth that they might be converted and sanctified. Once sanctified, God could glorify them, crowing them with His most precious gift.

But by far the greatest example of walking with God and of perfect peace and rest was the Son of God. Jesus always, from conception, had perfect peace—infinite peace. Thus, He was the Prince of peace, the anointed Messiah. And meditation on the scriptures was His full time amusement. “What saith the scriptures?” was His constant thought. “It is written,” “Thus saith the Lord,” “Whereunto shall we liken the kingdom of God? or with what comparison shall we compare it?” and the spirit of the law were in all His thoughts.

“God was His instructor,” and His Father gave Him blessed rest. Desire of Ages, p. 70. His sleep was ever sweet. The worst storm could not worry Him or disturb His slumber. But He was never in so deep sleep but that a cry of help always snapped Him back to consciousness. Elijah, the great prophet, awoke in fear and consternation; but Jesus never. Through prayer and communion with His Father He could come forth to each busy day refreshed and energetic, healthy in body and mind.

“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). “Thou lovest righteousness, and hatest wickedness: therefore God, Thy God, hath anointed Thee with the oil of gladness above Thy fellows.” (Ps. 45:7).

Rich promises for the poor in spirit

“Sing, O barren, thou that didst not bear; break forth into singing, and cry aloud, thou that didst not travail with child: for more are the children of the desolate than the children of the married wife, saith the Lord.
Enlarge the place of thy tent, and let them stretch forth the curtains of thine habitations: spare not, lengthen thy cords, and strengthen thy stakes;
For thou shalt break forth on the right hand and on the left; and thy seed shall inherit the Gentiles, and make the desolate cities to be inhabited.
Fear not; for thou shalt not be ashamed: neither be thou confounded; for thou shalt not be put to shame: for thou shalt forget the shame of thy youth, and shalt not remember the reproach of thy widowhood any more.
For thy Maker is thine husband; the Lord of hosts is His name; and thy Redeemer the Holy One of Israel; The God of the whole earth shall He be called.
For the Lord hath called thee as a woman forsaken and grieved in spirit, and a wife of youth, when thou wast refused, saith thy God.
For a small moment have I forsaken thee; but with great mercies will I gather thee.
In a little wrath I hid My face from thee for a moment; but with everlasting kindness will I have mercy on thee, saith the Lord thy Redeemer.
For this is as the waters of Noah unto Me: for as I have sworn that the waters of Noah should no more go over the earth; so have I sworn that I would not be wroth with thee, nor rebuke thee.
For the mountains shall depart, and the hills be removed; but My kindness shall not depart from thee, neither shall the covenant of My peace be removed, saith the Lord that hath mercy on thee.
O thou afflicted, tossed with tempest, and not comforted, behold, I will lay thy stones with fair colours, and lay thy foundations with sapphires.
And I will make thy windows of agates, and thy gates of carbuncles, and all thy borders of pleasant stones.
And all thy children shall be taught of the Lord; and great shall be the peace of thy children.
In righteousness shalt thou be established: thou shalt be far from oppression; for thou shalt not fear: and from terror; for it shall not come near thee.
Behold, they shall surely gather together, but not by Me: whosoever shall gather together against thee shall fall for thy sake.
Behold, I have created the smith that bloweth the coals in the fire, and that bringeth forth an instrument for his work; and I have created the waster to destroy.
No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper; and every tongue that shall rise against thee in judgment thou shalt condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord, and their righteousness is of Me, saith the Lord.” (Is. 54:1-17).

These were promises to Israel after God would punish them in Assyria and Babylon. The book of Isaiah is full of both forecasts of the punishment and then of the windfall of blessings that would come to those who saw justice and mercy in the punishment and repented.

“Awake, awake, stand up, O Jerusalem, which hast drunk at the hand of the Lord the cup of his fury; thou hast drunken the dregs of the cup of trembling, and wrung them out.
There is none to guide her among all the sons whom she hath brought forth; neither is there any that taketh her by the hand of all the sons that she hath brought up.
These two things are come unto thee; who shall be sorry for thee? desolation, and destruction, and the famine, and the sword: by whom shall I comfort thee?
Thy sons have fainted, they lie at the head of all the streets, as a wild bull in a net: they are full of the fury of the Lord, the rebuke of thy God.
Therefore hear now this, thou afflicted, and drunken, but not with wine:
Thus saith thy Lord the Lord, and thy God that pleadeth the cause of His people, Behold, I have taken out of thine hand the cup of trembling, even the dregs of the cup of my fury; thou shalt no more drink it again:
But I will put it into the hand of them that afflict thee; which have said to thy soul, Bow down, that we may go over: and thou hast laid thy body as the ground, and as the street, to them that went over.
Awake, awake; put on thy strength, O Zion; put on thy beautiful garments, O Jerusalem, the holy city: for henceforth there shall no more come into thee the uncircumcised and the unclean.
Shake thyself from the dust; arise, and sit down, O Jerusalem: loose thyself from the bands of thy neck, O captive daughter of Zion.
For thus saith the Lord, Ye have sold yourselves for nought; and ye shall be redeemed without money.
For thus saith the Lord God, My people went down aforetime into Egypt to sojourn there; and the Assyrian oppressed them without cause.
Now therefore, what have I here, saith the Lord, that My people is taken away for nought? they that rule over them make them to howl, saith the Lord; and My name continually every day is blasphemed.
Therefore My people shall know My name: therefore they shall know in that day that I am He that doth speak: behold, it is I.
How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings, that publisheth peace; that bringeth good tidings of good, that publisheth salvation; that saith unto Zion, Thy God reigneth!
Thy watchmen shall lift up the voice; with the voice together shall they sing: for they shall see eye to eye, when the Lord shall bring again Zion.
Break forth into joy, sing together, ye waste places of Jerusalem: for the Lord hath comforted His people, He hath redeemed Jerusalem.
The Lord hath made bare His holy arm in the eyes of all the nations; and all the ends of the earth shall see the salvation of our God.
Depart ye, depart ye, go ye out from thence, touch no unclean thing; go ye out of the midst of her; be ye clean, that bear the vessels of the Lord.
For ye shall not go out with haste, nor go by flight: for the Lord will go before you; and the God of Israel will be your rereward.” (Is. 51:17-52:12).

These promises were for the people who returned with Zerubabel and Joshua the High Priest and Zechariah and Haggai the prophets. Then was the even greater revival under Nehemiah and Ezra, “the priest, the scribe of the law of the God of heaven.” (Ezra 7:21).

But the great event of captivity did not end with Babylon. Rather it would span five more centuries and three more pagan empires ruling over them, drawing the Jews away from the great revival under Ezra and Nehemiah, corrupting them and dominating the world. Isaiah’s warning and promises foretold all this.

“And now, saith the Lord that formed me from the womb to be his servant, to bring Jacob again to him, Though Israel be not gathered, yet shall I be glorious in the eyes of the Lord, and my God shall be my strength.
And He said, It is a light thing that thou shouldest be My servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob, and to restore the preserved of Israel: I will also give thee for a light to the Gentiles, that thou mayest be My salvation unto the end of the earth.
Thus saith the Lord, the Redeemer of Israel, and his Holy One, to him whom man despiseth, to him whom the nation abhorreth, to a servant of rulers, Kings shall see and arise, princes also shall worship, because of the Lord that is faithful, and the Holy One of Israel, and He shall choose thee.
Thus saith the Lord, In an acceptable time have I heard thee, and in a day of salvation have I helped thee: and I will preserve thee, and give thee for a covenant of the people, to establish the earth, to cause to inherit the desolate heritages;
That thou mayest say to the prisoners, Go forth; to them that are in darkness, Shew yourselves. They shall feed in the ways, and their pastures shall be in all high places.
They shall not hunger nor thirst; neither shall the heat nor sun smite them: for He that hath mercy on them shall lead them, even by the springs of water shall He guide them.
And I will make all my mountains a way, and my highways shall be exalted.
Behold, these shall come from far: and, lo, these from the north and from the west; and these from the land of Sinim.
Sing, O heavens; and be joyful, O earth; and break forth into singing, O mountains: for the Lord hath comforted His people, and will have mercy upon His afflicted.
But Zion said, The Lord hath forsaken me, and my Lord hath forgotten me.
Can a woman forget her sucking child, that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb? yea, they may forget, yet will I not forget thee.
Behold, I have graven thee upon the palms of My hands; thy walls are continually before Me.
Thy children shall make haste; thy destroyers and they that made thee waste shall go forth of thee.
Lift up thine eyes round about, and behold: all these gather themselves together, and come to thee. As I live, saith the Lord, thou shalt surely clothe thee with them all, as with an ornament, and bind them on thee, as a bride doeth.
For thy waste and thy desolate places, and the land of thy destruction, shall even now be too narrow by reason of the inhabitants, and they that swallowed thee up shall be far away.
The children which thou shalt have, after thou hast lost the other, shall say again in thine ears, The place is too strait for me: give place to me that I may dwell.
Then shalt thou say in thine heart, Who hath begotten me these, seeing I have lost my children, and am desolate, a captive, and removing to and fro? and who hath brought up these? Behold, I was left alone; these, where had they been?
Thus saith the Lord God, Behold, I will lift up Mine hand to the Gentiles, and set up My standard to the people: and they shall bring thy sons in their arms, and thy daughters shall be carried upon their shoulders.
And kings shall be thy nursing fathers, and their queens thy nursing mothers: they shall bow down to thee with their face toward the earth, and lick up the dust of thy feet; and thou shalt know that I am the Lord: for they shall not be ashamed that wait for Me.
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.
And I will feed them that oppress thee with their own flesh; and they shall be drunken with their own blood, as with sweet wine: and all flesh shall know that I the Lord am thy Saviour and thy Redeemer, the mighty One of Jacob.” (Is. 49:5-26).

“And He said, Go, and tell this people, Hear ye indeed, but understand not; and see ye indeed, but perceive not.
Make the heart of this people fat, and make their ears heavy, and shut their eyes; lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and convert, and be healed.
Then said I, Lord, how long? And He answered, Until the cities be wasted without inhabitant, and the houses without man, and the land be utterly desolate,
And the Lord have removed men far away, and there be a great forsaking in the midst of the land.
But yet in it shall be a tenth, and it shall return, and shall be eaten: as a teil tree, and as an oak, whose substance is in them, when they cast their leaves: so the holy seed shall be the substance thereof.” (Is. 6:9-13).

“And He shall be for a sanctuary; but for a stone of stumbling and for a rock of offence to both the houses of Israel, for a gin and for a snare to the inhabitants of Jerusalem.
And many among them shall stumble, and fall, and be broken, and be snared, and be taken.
Bind up the testimony, seal the law among My disciples.
And I will wait upon the Lord, that hideth His face from the house of Jacob, and I will look for Him.
Behold, I and the children whom the Lord hath given me are for signs and for wonders in Israel from the Lord of hosts, which dwelleth in mount Zion.
And when they shall say unto you, Seek unto them that have familiar spirits, and unto wizards that peep, and that mutter: should not a people seek unto their God? for the living to the dead?
To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.
And they shall pass through it, hardly bestead and hungry: and it shall come to pass, that when they shall be hungry, they shall fret themselves, and curse their king and their God, and look upward.
And they shall look unto the earth; and behold trouble and darkness, dimness of anguish; and they shall be driven to darkness.
Nevertheless the dimness shall not be such as was in her vexation, when at the first He lightly afflicted the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, and afterward did more grievously afflict her by the way of the sea, beyond Jordan, in Galilee of the nations.
The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light: they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined.
Thou hast multiplied the nation, and not increased the joy: they joy before thee according to the joy in harvest, and as men rejoice when they divide the spoil.
For Thou hast broken the yoke of his burden, and the staff of his shoulder, the rod of his oppressor, as in the day of Midian.
For every battle of the warrior is with confused noise, and garments rolled in blood; but this shall be with burning and fuel of fire.
For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given: and the government shall be upon His shoulder: and His name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.
Of the increase of His government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon His kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this.” (Is. 8:14-9:7).

These last verses are quoted by Matthew, “That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Esaias the prophet, saying,
The land of Zabulon, and the land of Nephthalim, by the way of the sea, beyond Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles;
The people which sat in darkness saw great light; and to them which sat in the region and shadow of death light is sprung up.…
And Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all manner of sickness and all manner of disease among the people.
And His fame went throughout all Syria: and they brought unto Him all sick people that were taken with divers diseases and torments, and those which were possessed with devils, and those which were lunatick, and those that had the palsy; and He healed them.
And there followed Him great multitudes of people from Galilee, and from Decapolis, and from Jerusalem, and from Judaea, and from beyond Jordan.” (Matt. 4:14-25). And Matthew applied them to the marvelous revival of John and Christ.

We can say that Paul finished the revival by bringing the gospel to the Gentiles. He quotes Isaiah 52:7 when speaking of the Early Rain of the Holy Spirit and the missionary work resulting from it. “For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon Him.
For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.
How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?
And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!” (Rom. 10:12-15). Glad tidings means gospel.

And there is another application to Isaiah’s dual message. It has apocalyptic aspects also; it is for our day.

“My righteousness is near; My salvation is gone forth, and Mine arms shall judge the people; the isles shall wait upon Me, and on Mine arm shall they trust.
Lift up your eyes to the heavens, and look upon the earth beneath: for the heavens shall vanish away like smoke, and the earth shall wax old like a garment, and they that dwell therein shall die in like manner: but My salvation shall be for ever, and My righteousness shall not be abolished.
Hearken unto Me, ye that know righteousness, the people in whose heart is My law; fear ye not the reproach of men, neither be ye afraid of their revilings.
For the moth shall eat them up like a garment, and the worm shall eat them like wool: but My righteousness shall be for ever, and My salvation from generation to generation.
Awake, awake, put on strength, O arm of the Lord; awake, as in the ancient days, in the generations of old. Art thou not it that hath cut Rahab, and wounded the dragon?
Art thou not it which hath dried the sea, the waters of the great deep; that hath made the depths of the sea a way for the ransomed to pass over?
Therefore the redeemed of the Lord shall return, and come with singing unto Zion; and everlasting joy shall be upon their head: they shall obtain gladness and joy; and sorrow and mourning shall flee away.” (Is. 51:5-11).

“The burden of Babylon, which Isaiah the son of Amoz did see.
Lift you up a banner upon the high mountain, exalt the voice unto them, shake the hand, that they may go into the gates of the nobles.
I have commanded My sanctified ones, I have also called My mighty ones for Mine anger, even them that rejoice in My highness.
The noise of a multitude in the mountains, like as of a great people; a tumultuous noise of the kingdoms of nations gathered together: the Lord of hosts mustereth the host of the battle.
They come from a far country, from the end of heaven, even the Lord, and the weapons of His indignation, to destroy the whole land.
Howl ye; for the day of the Lord is at hand; it shall come as a destruction from the Almighty.
Therefore shall all hands be faint, and every man’s heart shall melt:
And they shall be afraid: pangs and sorrows shall take hold of them; they shall be in pain as a woman that travaileth: they shall be amazed one at another; their faces shall be as flames.
Behold, the day of the Lord cometh, cruel both with wrath and fierce anger, to lay the land desolate: and He shall destroy the sinners thereof out of it.
For the stars of heaven and the constellations thereof shall not give their light: the sun shall be darkened in his going forth, and the moon shall not cause her light to shine.
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.
Therefore I will shake the heavens, and the earth shall remove out of her place, in the wrath of the Lord of hosts, and in the day of His fierce anger.
And it shall be as the chased roe, and as a sheep that no man taketh up: they shall every man turn to his own people, and flee every one into his own land.” (Is. 13:1-14).

In light of this, these prophecies of Daniel are very significant.

“Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city, to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most Holy.” (Dan. 9:24).

While Satan would contest every inch of Christ’s advance in redeeming a race of people from sin, the promise is that the vision of Satan’s continuous harassment and devouring of God’s people during the Christian era-would end with the final end of sin. For the next 2,500 years there would be warfare between Christ and Satan with the rise of the “vile person” of Daniel 11:21 and the adversary’s establishment of the abomination of desolation. “But tidings out of the east and out of the north” would bring and end to Satan’s unyielding domination. (Dan. 11:44).

The key to receiving the last revival is revealed in Dan. 12:5-7. Again the question is asked, “how long?” And the answer comes, “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.” (Dan. 12:7).

Laying verses 6 and 7 over Rev. 10:5-7 we see that Daniel’s visions of the great controversy—the mystery of God—would end at the sounding of the 7th trumpet in Rev. 11:15. Just preceding this we see the Latter Rain revival in verses 11-13 that follows another conquest and subjugation by Satan over God’s people.

But notice what Daniel heard. “When he shall have accomplished to scatter the power of the holy people, all these things shall be finished.” (Dan. 12:7). This scattering of our power is the key to our reception of the Latter Rain. It’s all in God’s hands and He is doing it now while we live in this modern Babylon and it will intensify as Christian America continues to grow more and more oppressive around the world and increasingly dictatorial to its own people.

When we have nothing left in ourselves to depend on and all of our own power to fight our sins and the tempter is finally cleansed and Christ alone is our strength, then He will have His church fully looking to His righteousness and reflecting His character perfectly.

It’s the same scenario that has played out through the ages, each time Christ raising the bar for the sanctification of His people with Moses, David, Ezra, and finally the Son of God Himself.

In Ellen White’s Review and Herald, January 12, 1869 vision of the Adventists on the path to the holy city, she saw the intense pressure that full dependence on God caused His people.

My husband was just before me. The large drops of sweat were falling from his brow. The veins in his neck and temples were increased to double their usual size, and suppressed, agonizing groans came from his lips. The sweat was dropping from my face, and I felt such anguish as I had never felt before. A fearful struggle was before us. If we failed here, all the difficulties of our journey had been experienced for naught. Before us, on the other side of the chasm, was a beautiful field of green grass, about six inches high. I could not see the sun, but bright, soft beams of light, resembling fine gold and silver, were resting on this field. Nothing I had seen upon earth could compare in beauty and glory with this field.
But could we succeed in reaching it? was the anxious inquiry. Should the cord break, we must perish. Again, in whispered anguish, the words were breathed, “What holds this cord?” For a moment we hesitated to venture. Then we exclaimed, “Our only hope is to trust wholly to the cord. It has been our dependence all the difficult way. It will not fail us now.” Still we were hesitating and distressed. The words were then spoken, “God holds the cord. We need not fear.” These words were then repeated by those behind us, accompanied with, “He will not fail us now. He has brought us thus far safely.”

That describes the good work that the scattering of our power will produce on us. When it is over we will rest in an eternal Sabbath. “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.
Let us labour therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief.” (Heb. 4:9-11). We will know Christ’s example, “The Son can do nothing of himself, but what He seeth the Father do: for what things soever He doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise.
For the Father loveth the Son, and sheweth Him all things that Himself doeth.” (Jn. 5:19,20). “Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in Me.
I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in Me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without Me ye can do nothing.” (Jn. 15:4,5).

God's impressive expressive artwork

Sorrow and love come mingled down

“Can a woman forget her sucking child, that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb? yea, they may forget, yet will I not forget thee.
Behold, I have graven thee upon the palms of My hands; thy walls are continually before Me.” (Is. 49:15,16).

Study the images captured in the photo above. Study it long. Study it hard and intensely. I’ve looked upon artists’ paintings that try to perfectly represent the love of God. Yet they fall so short because they are made by man; they lack the power, the natural force that come from God’s paintings when the brush strokes of His providences result from the crucible of human suffering.

What do we see in the moment of climax due to the end of separation brought upon this mother and her baby? What do we hear from the finale of perhaps a year since they were together? What regrets are in their minds, especially of the parent?

Her daughter was much smaller, possibly just starting to toddle and talk, when she left for her unaccompanied tour in Iraq. How she has grown! So much was missed in her development; so much precious time is lost forever! So many missed opportunities to pray with her little one before she went to sleep at night and instill in her little girl trust in her Saviour and protector! So many chances to comfort a hurt and to weld hearts in an eternal bond.

Her sorrow and love come mingled down.

And what of the little girl? What about her regrets? Her little heart grieved the loss of Mommy. O how she wanted to feel her mother’s touch and to cuddle in her embrace! O how she needed Mommy’s visible presence to know for sure Mommy was really alive and well!

Behold God’s exquisite, beautiful art. The paintings of the infinite One. We see them every day evoked from the suffering of separation and even in the permanent separation by death. We see His imaging in the pain, both physically from disease and mishaps, and mentally and emotionally from sorrow and guilt. “Death reigned” has been His mighty signature on every picture He has ever painted for us. (Rom. 5:14).

“Thou turnest man to destruction; and sayest, Return, ye children of men.…
Thou carriest them away as with a flood; they are as a sleep: in the morning they are like grass which groweth up.…
The days of our years are threescore years and ten; and if by reason of strength they be fourscore years, yet is their strength labour and sorrow; for it is soon cut off, and we fly away.” (Ps. 90:3,5,10).

Yet the halos behind the objects of His paintings reveal a glory we could not otherwise attain without His wrath upon us.

His sorrow and love must come mingled down.

“So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom.…
O satisfy us early with Thy mercy; that we may rejoice and be glad all our days.
Make us glad according to the days wherein Thou hast afflicted us, and the years wherein we have seen evil.
Let Thy work appear unto Thy servants, and Thy glory unto their children.
And let the beauty of the Lord our God be upon us: and establish Thou the work of our hands upon us; yea, the work of our hands establish Thou it.” (Ps. 90:12,14-17).

The end product of God’s artistry is His character indelibly imprinted upon ours. Though the going will be rough, the freedoms and privileges of His likeness will more than compensate us. “Behold, we count them happy which endure. Ye have heard of the patience of Job, and have seen the end of the Lord; that the Lord is very pitiful, and of tender mercy.” (Jas. 5:11). “Now the end of the commandment is charity out of a pure heart, and of a good conscience, and of faith unfeigned.” (1Tim. 1:5).

It is only in the clash and hardship that the heart can be cleansed of self-love and self-exaltation. Difficulty brings out the genuine image of God that He desires to develop in us. The ripening, the loosing from the bonds of Satan, the liberation of feigned faith and dissimulation, only come out of difficulty and pain and sorrow.

We see it in the faith of “Gideon…Barak…Samson, and of Jephthae…Samuel…of the prophets,” and all the great men and women throughout history who faced trouble and overcame it through the power of the Holy Spirit, “who through faith subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, waxed valiant in fight, turned to flight the armies of the aliens. Women received their dead raised to life again: and others were tortured, not accepting deliverance; that they might obtain a better resurrection: and others had trial of cruel mockings and scourgings, yea, moreover of bonds and imprisonment: they were stoned, they were sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain with the sword: they wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins; being destitute, afflicted, tormented.” (Heb. 11:32-37).

In so many God has brought out sorrow and love that come mingled down.

The furnace of affliction forged in them the seal of the living God in their foreheads, as He eked out of them unpretentious selflessness which alone projects Himself to Satan’s kingdom of this world.

God’s servants go out in a blaze of glory with the most powerful, convicting expressions of honesty and faith and submission. Paul, writing from death row— “For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand.
I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith:
Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love His appearing.” (2Tim. 4:6-8). Samson, sacrificing his life—“‘Let me die with the Philistines.’ And he bowed himself with all his might; and the house fell upon the lords, and upon all the people that were therein…at his death.” (Jdg. 16:30). Jacob, tortured by a dislocated hip, crying out, “I will not let Thee go, except Thou bless me.” (Gen. 32:26). Rachel, with desperate courage in fatal birthpains—“As her soul was in departing, (for she died) that she called his name Benoni (son of my sorrow).” (Gen. 35:18). Aaron, offering his life to save his beloved people from the wrath of the Lord, people who had so many times angrily tried to stone him, “ran into the midst of the congregation; and, behold, the plague was begun among the people: and he put on incense, and made an atonement for the people. And he stood between the dead and the living...” (Num. 16:47,48).We see this in the life of Abel at the hands of his lethal brother; in David who said, “Yea, for Thy sake are we killed all the day long; we are counted as sheep for the slaughter.” We see it in Moses who laid down his own eternal life for people who only wanted to stone him

We see God’s glory in Moses and Aaron, both of whom walked submissively up their respective last mountain, each knowing they would not descend.

We see it in every animal in the wild hit by a moving vehicle or taken down by a hungry predator, as they cry out the deepest yearnings of their souls. We see it in the grief from monetary loss and possible bankruptcy when a fraudster in our civilized world victimizes an innocent knave.

But best of all we see the deepest of sentiments most freely and openly and without inhibition expressed in the whole life of the Son of God who was a living soul, a walking, talking vessel of God’s freedom of love and freedom of expression. And we hear the climax of that yearning freedom on the cross, oblivious of onlookers and speaking only to God. “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?...My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?” (Matt. 27:46). “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.” (Lk. 23:34).

When He saw His mother, He spoke only to her, “Woman, behold thy Son!” Then to John, “Behold thy mother!” And from that day that disciple took her into his own home. (Jn. 19:26,27).

In the last moments of torment from His Father’s apparent forsaking Him, and His dehydrated body crying out for water, they gave Him pain-deadening wine, which He feared to drink and refused. Then He roared out His deepest want and constant purpose in a lion’s victory cry over humanity’s enslavement to Satan, “It is finished!” And He bowed His head, and gave up the ghost. (Jn. 19:30). Every death previous and since have pointed to this greatest of all ages passion from the depth of the human soul.

His acceptance to suffering evoked glory to God from His very betrayer, “I have sinned in that I have betrayed the innocent blood.” (Matt. 27:4). His humble submission drew from His persecutors, the chief priests, scribes and elders, the highest accolade ever awarded Him, “He saved others; Himself He cannot save.” (vs. 42). And from the most honest man witnessing the crucifixion, though a battle-hardened pagan, “Truly this was the Son of God.” (vs. 54). All from this most exquisite artistry by the Master Painter, our Father in heaven, with His Son as the most superb model.

At every witness of sorrow and love let us study and be changed into the same image. Within all of it let us see the heart and character of the God of truth and grace and suffering.

Sorrow and love come mingled down.

When I survey the wondrous cross
On which the Prince of glory died,
My richest gain I count but loss,
And pour contempt on all my pride.

See, from His head, His hand,
His feet, sorrow and love flow mingled down;
Did e’er such love and sorrow meet,
Or thorns compose so rich a crown?
—Isaac Watts

A new paradigm

“Therefore He hath poured upon him the fury of His anger, and the strength of battle: and it hath set him on fire round about, yet he knew not; and it burned him, yet he laid it not to heart.” (Is. 42:25).

There is a lot of talk today attempting to unmask the robbers of American’s wealth. The talk comes on all levels—TV radio, internet, and grassroots conversation. They have all the causes figured out—corporations’ criminal manipulation of the market, congress paid off by international bankers, the intentional unlimited draining of our government’s credit card and borrowing from other countries.

But there is a root cause that as yet no one has discovered; neither has anyone given recommendations for its solution. That root cause is found in the Bible. The true cause of America’s crumbling condition is described in detail in a book no one puts any stock in; therefore everyone will continue in the same vain—and certainly fighting a phantom in vain. They will never put their finger on the real robbers or fully solve the puzzle.

What they need to solve the riddle is a paradigm shift. They need to begin seeing themselves differently; not as just Americans, but as Protestants. Until they do this, they will never unwrap the mystery.

The explanation goes like this: we are the descendents of the Reformation. Whether or not we want to admit to it. And Protestantism had and still has a tenacious unforgiving foe. That mighty adversary has sworn to destroy its one major enemy—Protestantism. To destroy Protestantism means to destroy its people, body, mind and soul. It means to destroy its strong middle class and divinely inherited strong economic machine. It means to rob its many caches of wealth that made it invulnerable and unconquerable. It means to offer every kind of temptation imaginable to ruin its moral fiber. It means to destroy its families, its wealth, its ecology, its civil military, its innocence, its faith in God.

To destroy Protestantism means to bring the nation to irrecoverable ruin. But who is this unrelenting, indefatigable foe of Protestantism? Rome. The Vatican who has claimed, “we have no God but Satan.” For the sake of its own preservation against the reproofs of the Reformation for its improvement and reconnection with the “only true God” (Jn. 17:3), the Papacy sold its soul when it turned to silence its divinely commissioned accusers, the Reformers, and sought to totally quench their light. And since then Satan has taken full control of the Vatican, infilling them with his enmity against God and His people.

When the Vatican turned out the Jesuits to destroy Protestants, it followed the same example of Cain against Abel, Balaam against Israel at Baal-peor, and the Jews to Stephen. They showed heaven and earth that they had no king but Caesar. As it was in Christ’s day with the Jews, today’s enemy of God’s people has no god but Satan. And without this new paradigm, Protestants will remain in confusion with regard to its trouble. And they will remain paralyzed to do the necessary remedy—repent for their departure from God.

“The sinners in Zion are afraid; fearfulness hath surprised the hypocrites. Who among us shall dwell with the devouring fire? who among us shall dwell with everlasting burnings?” (Is. 33:14).

The Protestant Americans’ only solution is to admit that we’ve left God and despised His covenant in the Law and gospel. So He has lifted His protection for Protestantism after giving us a long period of grace. In 1849 the denominations fully rejected their Savior, and Jesus had to loose Satan upon them, as shown in Rev. 9:1-21.

The plague from the bottomless pit is wrapping the world in his final deception. It will not be retrieved until America and the world under America’s guardianship fully divides into two groups: an angry, brutal, and wicked group beyond redemption that will comprise the vast majority of the world; and a humbled, contrite, obedient, faithful, submissive remnant that keep the commandments of God and have the faith of Jesus.

“And I heard the Man clothed in linen, which was upon the waters of the river, when He held up His right hand and His left hand unto heaven, and sware by Him that liveth for ever that 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.” (Dan. 12:7).

When “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,” then “the day of the Lord of hosts shall be upon every one that is proud and lofty, and upon every one that is lifted up; and he shall be brought low.” (Is. 2:11,12).

Therefore America is on the cusp of a mammoth humbling. Some will see God’s hand in the catastrophes ahead and will respond to the appeal of divine love. Most will fight it and continue to claim their rights to the good life of the old America. They will be so addicted to the easy lifestyle of the 20th century, Protestants will be so rooted in the world, that they will be unable to reconcile with the loss of it all. The whole world is about to be humbled in the dust. Will you allow yourself to be humbled? Will you take to heart the lord’s injunction to Protestants today?

“The Lord is well pleased for His righteousness’ sake; He will magnify the law, and make it honourable.
But this is a people robbed and spoiled; they are all of them snared in holes, and they are hid in prison houses: they are for a prey, and none delivereth; for a spoil, and none saith, Restore.
Who among you will give ear to this? who will hearken and hear for the time to come?
Who gave Jacob for a spoil, and Israel to the robbers? did not the Lord, He against whom we have sinned? for they would not walk in His ways, neither were they obedient unto His law.
Therefore He hath poured upon him the fury of His anger, and the strength of battle: and it hath set him on fire round about, yet he knew not; and it burned him, yet he laid it not to heart.” (Is. 42:21-25).

Leviticus 26 says that if one tragedy didn’t humble us then our God will bring on tragedies 7 times worse. If that wouldn’t turn our hearts to repentance, then the almighty would bring us 7 times worse disasters. Poverty, starvation, captivity and slavery, and death will be our lot until we finally admit our departure from our redeemer and bow to His discipline.

“If they shall confess their iniquity, and the iniquity of their fathers, with their trespass which they trespassed against Me, and that also they have walked contrary unto Me;
And that I also have walked contrary unto them, and have brought them into the land of their enemies; if then their uncircumcised hearts be humbled, and they then accept of the punishment of their iniquity:
Then will I remember My covenant with Jacob, and also My covenant with Isaac, and also My covenant with Abraham will I remember; and I will remember the land.” (Lev. 26:40-42).

I realize this is a new concept for everyone, but it is the reality we are experiencing today.

There is no turning back the clock. We are on an express train that will not stop until the Latter Rain is received and the gospel is preached for a witness to the whole world, then WWIII and a time of trouble, and in the end Jesus returns to deliver those people who chose humility and repentance toward God and faith toward Jesus’ grace. Everyone else will receive the falling stars as billions of asteroids pummel the Earth into a desolate wilderness and punish the rejectors of Gods’ justice and mercy.

“For My name’s sake will I defer Mine anger, and for My praise will I refrain for thee, that I cut thee not off.
Behold, I have refined thee, but not with silver; I have chosen thee in the furnace of affliction.
For Mine own sake, even for Mine own sake, will I do it: for how should My name be polluted? and I will not give My glory unto another.
Hearken unto My, O Jacob and Israel, My called; I am He; I am the first, I also am the last.
Mine hand also hath laid the foundation of the earth, and My right hand hath spanned the heavens: when I call unto them, they stand up together.
All ye, assemble yourselves, and hear; which among them hath declared these things? The Lord hath loved him: He will do His pleasure on Babylon, and His arm shall be on the Chaldeans.” (Is. 48:9-14).

God's will

“And all the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing: and He doeth according to His will in the army of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth: and none can stay His hand, or say unto Him, What doest Thou?
At the same time my reason returned unto me; and for the glory of my kingdom, mine honour and brightness returned unto me; and my counsellors and my lords sought unto me; and I was established in my kingdom, and excellent majesty was added unto me.
Now I Nebuchadnezzar praise and extol and honour the King of heaven, all whose works are truth, and His ways judgment: and those that walk in pride He is able to abase.” (Dan. 4:35-37).

“For of Him, and through Him, and to Him, are all things: to whom be glory for ever. Amen.” (Rom. 11:36). “In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of Him who worketh all things after the counsel of His own will.” (Eph. 1:11).

God’s purposes stand and we have no say in the matter. “Thou wilt say then unto me, Why doth He yet find fault? For who hath resisted His will?
Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus?
Hath not the potter power over the clay.” (Rom. 9:19-21).

God is not arbitrary but He is certainly sovereign in heaven and earth. We can cooperate with Him and be rewarded in the establishing of His kingdom of purity, love and unselfishness. Or we can fight against Him and lose out on everything.

At certain mileposts in this great controversy He has prepared His holy nation to unite with Him in the advancement of truth against Satan’s regime on earth. Slowly through the eons the refugee King of creation has labored for His reestablishment to His rightful throne. Inch by inch He has wrested the kingdom back from Lucifer through the choice and willing obedience of key, loyal human subjects and others who have followed them. As Isaiah so aptly said it, “Behold, I and the children whom the Lord hath given me.” (Is. 8:18).

Satan has untiringly situated his seed among God’s loyal ones and sought to enthrone his own key players at the head of God’s work in order to derail it and forestall his eventual destruction. And God, in His infinite wisdom has allowed this. He has planned His goals well enough in advance (in fact, from eternity) to let Satan’s subjects play out their attempts to exalt themselves and sabotage God’s advances.

We all get our chance to take part in this great conflict. Will we end up sanctified by continued, unswerving faith in Christ, our pride finally laid in the dust? Or will we find the truth to be too blinding and our pride swelling more and more so we resist conviction and fight against it until the light of the Holy Spirit finally departs from our conscience, leaving us in total darkness? “And the Lord said, My spirit shall not always strive with man, for that he also is flesh.” (Gen. 6:3).

When God has needed a strong-will enforcer of His law He imbues the natural gifts with supernatural virtue and raises up that person to accomplish His will. Afterward, that the servant must choose to give God the glory and continue safely serving God and rejoicing in His purity, or he can choose to take the glory to himself as did king Saul, Jehu, Jeroboam, and others, and end up another statistic and example to all future generations showing what happened to those who will squander the privileges given from heaven.

When God has had need of a person of wisdom, “He spake, and it was done; He commanded, and it stood fast.” (Ps. 33:9). He endows a Solomon. When, in primitive circumstances, its time for one of great physical strength, He endows a Samson. When His people need the guidance of a prophet He develops a Daniel or a Samuel.

By the early efforts to faithfulness to God they largely succeed in His work or fail. So that a nobody becomes a David or a Saul, a priest ends up a Samuel or an Eli, a quick wit turns out to be a Paul of Tarsus or a Judas Iscariot, a zealous youth finishes the race as a John Mark and a Timothy or a Demas. If God needs a missionary to reach thieves, a Zacchaeus or a Matthew receives Jesus or a Barabbas or a rich, young ruler rejects Him. If He needs to begin a holy dispensation based on patriarchy, a usurper Jacob surrenders to God or a galant Esau never does, a Levi and Judah rise up out of their murderous ways or a Rueben remains stuck in his. “Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.
For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.” (Gal. 6:7,8). What would we have done in their circumstances? Everything depends on the right action of the will.

In God’s work, our freedom of choice is never suspended, nor is salvation ever a guaranteed diploma in our hands until we breathe our last breath faithful in God’s service. From the first day we unite with Him to the last we can turn away, but when we do the warning comes in trumpet tones to us, “Now the just shall live by faith: but if any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him.” (Heb. 10:38). We must burst through that divinely situated barrier to depart from God. But, when we are solidly determined to leave, it sickens His heart to do so, but He must let us go—and by our choice, permanently. By our choice we have bruised the conscience so badly that it becomes unable to sense the Spirit of God and is subject to the spirit of Satan.

Many shipwrecks have strewn the path as those whom God brought in close to His side. He turns no one down who desires to pick up the cross of God. But, many whom He has privileged to do His work have turned Him down repeatedly and He has resorted to a neighbor theirs who was better than them. Then they see the work once offered them given to another, and too often the transfer of heaven’s blessing confirms them in pride and locks them in rebellion permanently.

William Foy and Hazen Foss both lost their great prophetic privilege to young, sickly Ellen Harmon and they died lost men. This need not to have occurred; but God’s will must prevail on earth. The hour of His judgment had come and a prophet must lead, to their exceeding great reward if they cooperate, or to their exceeding detriment if they reject.

A.T. Jones and E. J. Waggoner received the great privilege as worker with Christ at another crucial juncture in the last days before the Day of Judgment. But neither one could accept the guidance of the Judge’s prophet. While D. M. Canright chose to steel his pride against her counsels and correction and instruction, Joseph Bates received her reproof and rejoiced in the Spirit of God. Elder Bates lived a life of unrivaled activity into hisi ‘70’s and died a happy man; Elder Canright ended his life a miserable wretch of a man, sighing a crying the woes of his loss of God’s voice and eternal life. He passed his days living damnation before his had perished. He that hath not the Son hath eternal death; he is dead even while he liveth. He was a living walking testament of warning of what happens when a soul strives for too long against his Maker and his Maker’s human representative.

However, those who take hold of Christ that he might make peace with Him joyfully hear this testimony by faith, “Let [Christ’s] apparel and horse be delivered to the hand of one of the King's most noble princes, that they may array the man withal whom the King delighteth to honour, and bring him on horseback through the street of the city [of New Jerusalem], and proclaim before him, Thus shall it be done to the man whom the King delighteth to honour.” (Est. 6:9).

Idle words

“But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment.” (Matt. 12:36).

Idle words profit nothing. They are salt that has lost its savor—altogether good for nothing. They are worthless because they never advance the kingdom of God. If no progress is made toward God, then regression is inevitably made toward the devil and his control. We are all accountable to everyone with whom we come in contact. We influence our acquaintances and friends for good or for evil.

This is unavoidable. Our influence is automatic; and the results are always dire or full of hope. We may believe our idle words and pat phrases and gestures that Satan has taught the whole world are helpful, but they are chaff instead of the wholesome, life-giving wheat.

The empty clichés and usages say nothing of Jesus or of righteousness. They are void of faith in God and add nothing to the effort of soul-sinning; and is there any other consideration to put above winning souls to God? Aren’t we close enough to His coming that we should be preparing people for judgment day? Isn’t it time we fear God and give Him glory?

Everyone not anointed by the Holy Spirit is to cease and desist speaking for God. “Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour.” (Ex. 20:16). “And when they [the apostatized northern Israelites] entered unto the heathen, whither they went, they profaned My holy name, when they said to them, These are the people of the Lord, and are gone forth out of His land. But I had pity for Mine holy name, which the house of Israel had profaned among the heathen, whither they went.” (Ez. 36:20,21). “And Jesus rebuked him, saying, Hold thy peace, and come out of him.…And He healed many that were sick of divers diseases, and cast out many devils; and suffered not the devils to speak, because they knew Him.” (Mk. 1:25,34).

It is the emptiness of the hollow, trite phrases that brings the Lord displeasure. They imitate freedom of self-expression and they pretend to propagate truth. But in reality hollow, trite phrases do neither. The comedy they often promote and the laughter and light heartedness they evoke actually substitute for the joy God longs to give all of the children of Adam—the water of life. “He that believeth on Me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water.” (Jn. 7:38). But, rather, the world’s laughter is empty of faith and love and true happiness. It spits in God’s face.

It has moved into the denominations and into the Advent movement of God. From the pulpit we hear the leader or preacher making use of idleness to wake up the glazed minds of the congregation. It all mocks the God of Protestantism and the soul that is sick of sin. In the joking sermons, those dozing hearers have received nothing on which to feed—the rich, full truth flowing with milk and honey.

In every prophet and apostle, and infinitely more so with the Son of God, it could be said, “Thou art fairer than the children of men: grace is poured into Thy lips: therefore God hath blessed Thee for ever.” (Ps. 45:2). Because these faithful men and women spoke from full faith in heaven they projected faith and transferred faith into the hearts of the people listening. As we saw with the mighty revival of faith in the days of Ezra, “So they read in the book in the law of God distinctly, and gave the sense, and caused them to understand the reading. And Nehemiah, which is the Tirshatha, and Ezra the priest the scribe, and the Levites that taught the people, said unto all the people, This day is holy unto the Lord your God; mourn not, nor weep. For all the people wept, when they heard the words of the law.” (Neh. 8:8,9) The hearers were convicted of truth and were filled with all the fullness of God. How true it is that “a word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver”! (Prov. 25:11). By their right arrangement of sacred scripture and use of words, truth made perfect sense.

Likewise, it was with the apostles. “Therefore seeing we have this ministry, as we have received mercy, we faint not; but have renounced the hidden things of dishonesty, not walking in craftiness, nor handling the word of God deceitfully; but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man's conscience in the sight of God.” (2Cor. 4:1,2).

Truth made perfect sense and the people wept because it had been so long, if ever, since they had fed on the durable principles of God’s law, rather than the empty husks of Babylon and Egypt. Thus it happened by a few that listened to Paul on Mars’ hill, “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).

Personal obedience prepares us to speak the truth. “Now the end of the commandment is charity out of a pure heart, and of a good conscience, and of faith unfeigned.” (1Tim. 1:5). But because none of the people of God have settled into the truth—all of the truth —we have all been speaking tasteless, Christless, faithless verbiage. We have had no power to preach to every kindred, tongue and nation. All of our expressions of religion have been “vain jangling.” (vs. 6). And our religious vain jangling is no different from the atheist’s and the hedonist’s idle talk. “Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain; for the Lord will not hold him guiltless that taketh His name in vain.” (Ex. 20:7). Simply having religious overtones to words empty of faith will never grant Christ’s approval, and it has brought us the disfavor of the secular world. We have not the first reason for self-congratulation. “Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man.” (Lk. 2:52). Even at a young age, Christ was sanctified by the truth of the holy scriptures. But, empty letters of the law leads us to idle talk and can leave no one sanctified.

Protestantism’s deadness in faith has crossed a new threshold. Demonic “holy” laughter is men’s invention to jumpstart their spirit, long dead in spiritualism. The hearts of the adherents of the Charismatic and New Age movements are so empty of life and the true Spirit of God that they must force laughter out of their heart and mind, lest they die of depression. True, “A merry heart doeth good like a medicine: but a broken spirit drieth the bones,” but repentance for the separation from God is the only remedy for depression and a broken spirit. (Prov. 17:22).

“For I acknowledge my transgressions: and my sin is ever before me.…
Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean: wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
Make me to hear joy and gladness; that the bones which thou hast broken may rejoice.” (Ps. 51:3,7,8).

A new look at Jesus as detailed through the Old Testament laws in the words and characteristics of those ancient Israelites whom He empowered to represent Him to the nation. If Christians today will look for Jesus in the Old Testament and in the epistles of the New they will meet the true Savior through the power of the Holy Ghost. “Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost.” (Rom. 15:13). But all that are too proud to admit failure and wrong doctrine and unbiblical practice, will be locked in deception and continue the never-satisfying worship of antichrist, the Christ-imposter who thrives on the world’s worship of himself.

When are we going to say, “Then said I, Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts.” (Is. 6:5).

Thank God for His mercy on us.

Monday, January 30, 2012

The blessed humbling

We are happiest when we are humblest. Self is no longer exalted before our eyes. No more self-oriented concerns get the highest billing. We happily go to the back of the bus. When we gladly abdicate the pilot’s seat and assume the role as co-pilot, then we excitedly proclaim, “God is my pilot because I cannot do the job!” This is other-worldly language, but we cannot prevent our lips from forming the glad tidings.

As undesirable as this condition may seem to the unconverted mind, and even horrific and foolishness, only God can get us to the humbling. We can never remove our pride and humble ourselves without the omnipotent power of God exercised against the coalition of us and Satan. Only God can humble us, and humbling the proud sinner has been His work since Adam fell and received pride as a reward for serving the serpent.

God wants to make us happy and He knows that to do this is to convince us to relinquish our hold on our self-importance. He sees hope in the whole human race, rich and poor, free and bond, male and female, Christian or not. And it’s His determined purpose to act in our behalf to get us happiness. Its messy work and we suffer in the process, but God suffers more than we do.

Because it brings us to true happiness and rest, it is God’s glory to humble His people. Humility is the narrow path to life and joy. “And thou shalt remember all the way which the Lord thy God led thee these forty years in the wilderness, to humble thee, and to prove thee, to know what was in thine heart, whether thou wouldest keep His commandments, or no. Who fed thee in the wilderness with manna, which thy fathers knew not, that He might humble thee, and that He might prove thee, to do thee good at thy latter end.” (Deut. 8:2,16). Beautiful, just beautiful!

It is the motive of love that leads God to humble His people. “Now the end of the commandment is charity out of a pure heart, and of a good conscience, and of faith unfeigned.” (1Tim. 1:5). His one desire is not to destroy our lives but to save them. He sees that purity, a healthy conscience, and honesty bring us the perfect joy we desire.

So He smites the impudent, hard heart. “Thou hast played the whore also with the Assyrians, because thou wast unsatiable; yea, thou hast played the harlot with them, and yet couldest not be satisfied.
Thou hast moreover multiplied thy fornication in the land of Canaan unto Chaldea; and yet thou wast not satisfied herewith.
How weak is thine heart, saith the Lord God, seeing thou doest all these things, the work of an imperious whorish woman.” (Ez. 16:28-30). “For they are impudent children and stiffhearted. I do send thee unto them.” (Ez. 2:4). “But the house of Israel will not hearken unto thee; for they will not hearken unto Me: for all the house of Israel are impudent and hardhearted.” (Ez. 3:7). And He wipes the imperious look off of our face. Then when we have accepted that arrangement He restores His comfort to our soul.

“He regarded their affliction, when He heard their cry:
And He remembered for them His covenant, and repented according to the multitude of His mercies.
He made them also to be pitied of all those that carried them captives.
Save us, O Lord our God, and gather us from among the heathen, to give thanks unto Thy holy name, and to triumph in Thy praise.” (Ps. 106:44-47).

“When I said, My foot slippeth; Thy mercy, O Lord, held me up.
In the multitude of my thoughts within me Thy comforts delight my soul.” (Ps. 94:18,19). His end is not to leave us reeling in abandonment and hopelessness. But in His wisdom He must wait until His consequences have fully done their perfect work in us.

“Then will I pluck them up by the roots out of My land which I have given them; and this house, which I have sanctified for My name, will I cast out of My sight, and will make it to be a proverb and a byword among all nations.” “If they shall confess their iniquity, and the iniquity of their fathers, with their trespass which they trespassed against Me, and that also they have walked contrary unto Me;
And that I also have walked contrary unto them, and have brought them into the land of their enemies; if then their uncircumcised hearts be humbled, and they then accept of the punishment of their iniquity…” (2Chron. 7:20;Lev. 26:40,41). The humbling brings with it conversion, and we stop fighting.

The Lord looks highly on the lowly—even to His most disobedient if they humble themselves and repent. “The word of the Lord came to Elijah the Tishbite, saying,
Seest thou how Ahab humbleth himself before Me? Because he humbleth himself before Me, I will not bring the evil in his days: but in his son’s days will I bring the evil upon his house.” (1Ki 21:28,29).

See how quickly the Lord relents—as soon as He heard Ahab’s cry. It happens as soon as the stubborn heart repents in humility. Ahab was spared because his heart was humbled. Only the Holy Spirit, with the combined effort of the Father’s providences, can accomplish humility in those who look to Him for the help of His countenance.

“Because thine heart was tender, and thou hast humbled thyself before the Lord, when thou heardest what I spake against this place, and against the inhabitants thereof, that they should become a desolation and a curse, and hast rent thy clothes, and wept before Me; I also have heard thee, saith the Lord.” (2Ki. 22:19). One element of a humbled heart is tenderness toward God. When the soul knows God has won the battle, the heart is made tender. The meek heart never blames God for the trouble it suffered in the process of being humbled.

The Lord raised up Egypt against Rehoboam’s and Israel’s pride, and no sooner did they concede to the Lord’s sovereignty over them, than the Lord protected them and greatly limited Shishak’s damages on them. But note: the Lord did permit some damage. “Whom the Lord loveth He chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom He receiveth.
If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the Father chasteneth not?” (Heb. 12:6-7).

But at least lives were spared. “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 shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.” (1Cor. 3:11-13,15). Rehoboam was doubly humbled after looking at the inferior shields of brass instead of Solomon’s gold shields, and his hard heart became more tender and the Lord prospered his reign. The whole time, that’s all the Lord wants in His humbling! Submission to His righteousness and prosperity. That’s what He desires for us! “Behold, we count them happy which endure. Ye have heard of the patience of Job, and have seen the end of the Lord; that the Lord is very pitiful, and of tender mercy.” (Jas. 5:11).

“Nevertheless divers of Asher and Manasseh and of Zebulun humbled themselves, and came to Jerusalem.” (2Chron. 30:11). At this time, those of the northern kingdom who humbled themselves received new hearts of faith and great joy at knowing God still loved them. They returned to be the same blessing Christ was in that very same Galilee 750 years later. In all of His humiliating, He just wants us to be blessed by being able to be a blessing. “Thou hast multiplied the nation, and not increased the joy: they joy before Thee according to the joy in harvest, and as men rejoice when they divide the spoil.” (Is. 9:3). When Hezekiah became sick to death, because he humbled his proud heard God, without hesitating, healed him. Immediately, He ordered Isaiah to do a U-turn and go straight back to give the divine pronouncement of the king’s healing. “As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent.” (Rev. 3:19).

When his son Manasseh grew destructively proud and the Lord brought calamity upon him, he relented his pride. “And when he was in affliction, he besought the Lord his God, and humbled himself greatly before the God of his fathers,
And prayed unto Him: and He was intreated of him, and heard his supplication, and brought him again to Jerusalem into his kingdom. Then Manasseh knew that the Lord He was God.” (2Chron. 33:12,13). “Despisest thou the riches of His goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance?” (Rom. 2:4).

Nothing could make the new Manasseh happier, and nothing could make the Son of God happier. He uses justice for His merciful purposes; He wounds to heal. Manasseh’s epithet read, “His prayer also, and how God was intreated of him, and all his sin, and his trespass, and the places wherein he built high places, and set up groves and graven images, before he was humbled: behold, they are written among the sayings of the seers.” (2Chron. 33:19). Wouldn’t you like that on your tombstone for all your succeeding generations to read? But his son would not read of his father’s conversion. Amon “humbled not himself before the Lord, as Manasseh his father had humbled himself; but Amon trespassed more and more. And his servants conspired against him, and slew him in his own house.” (2Chron. 33:23,24). You just don’t disregard the honest souls in whom God has worked to accomplish humility and repentance. You honor Him and His works with praises.

Josiah, Manasseh’ grandson, did heed his grandfather’s experience. His humility teaches us that to fear God and to give Him glory is to be humbled before Him and to obey Him. “Because thine heart was tender, and thou didst humble thyself before God, when thou heardest His words against this place, and against the inhabitants thereof, and humbledst thyself before Me, and didst rend thy clothes, and weep before Me; I have even heard thee also, saith the Lord.” (2Chron. 34:27). But then through the malfeasance of Josiah’s son Zedekiah, we learn that being humble means to not only believe the Lord, but also to believe His designated representatives, His prophets. “And he did that which was evil in the sight of the Lord his God, and humbled not himself before Jeremiah the prophet speaking from the mouth of the Lord.” (2Chron. 36:12).

Our conversion is concomitant to our humbling. “When He maketh inquisition for blood, He remembereth them: He forgetteth not the cry of the humble.” (Ps. 9:12). “Lord, thou hast heard the desire of the humble: thou wilt prepare their heart, thou wilt cause Thine ear to hear.” (Ps. 10:17). And once the heart is right, the life is right. “The fear of the Lord is the instruction of wisdom; and before honour is humility.” (Prov. 15:33). “Before destruction the heart of man is haughty, and before honour is humility.” (Prov. 18:12). “By humility and the fear of the Lord are riches, and honour, and life.” (Prov. 22:4). “A man’s pride shall bring him low: but honour shall uphold the humble in spirit.” (Prov. 29:23).

But let’s us not think the Judge of the whole earth can’t discern a fake contrition. He calls sin by its right name no matter how it is dressed up.

“The wicked in his pride doth persecute the poor: let them be taken in the devices that they have imagined.
For the wicked boasteth of his heart’s desire, and blesseth the covetous, whom the Lord abhorreth.
The wicked, through the pride of his countenance, will not seek after God: God is not in all his thoughts.…
He croucheth, and humbleth himself, that the poor may fall by his strong ones.
He hath said in his heart, God hath forgotten: He hideth His face; He will never see it.” (Ps. 10:2-4,10,11).

“It came to pass … that the word of the Lord came unto Zechariah … to speak unto the priests which were in the house of the Lord of hosts, and to the prophets, saying, Should I weep in the fifth month, separating myself, as I have done these so many years?
Then came the word of the Lord of hosts unto me, saying,
Speak unto all the people of the land, and to the priests, saying, When ye fasted and mourned in the fifth and seventh month, even those seventy years, did ye at all fast unto Me, even to Me?
And when ye did eat, and when ye did drink, did not ye eat for yourselves, and drink for yourselves?” (Zech. 7:1,3-6).

“And this have ye done again, covering the altar of the Lord with tears, with weeping, and with crying out, insomuch that He regardeth not the offering any more, or receiveth it with good will at your hand.” (Mal. 2:13).

“Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled;
Lest there be any fornicator, or profane person, as Esau, who for one morsel of meat sold his birthright.
For ye know how that afterward, when he would have inherited the blessing, he was rejected: for he found no place of repentance, though he sought it carefully with tears.” (Heb. 12:15-17).

But let us come to Jesus every morning, just as we are and let Him convict us of our ride as we read His words and look upon His life and death, and let Him influence us and get under our proud barriers and mold us in His image. “Thou shalt remember all the way which the Lord thy God led thee … in the wilderness, to humble thee, and to prove thee, to know what was in thine heart, whether thou wouldest keep his commandments, or no.
And He humbled thee.” (Deut. 8:2,3).

The prophet

“The secret things belong unto the Lord our God: but those things which are revealed belong unto us and to our children for ever, that we may do all the words of this law.” (Deut. 29:29).

The secret things are revealed only to those with an eye single to the obedience and glory of God. Only those who have an ear to hear and eyes to see, who have not become trapped in the lure of idolatry and other gods. If we truly have laid everything on the altar to Jehovah, including our own body and mind and heart, then the Lord will make Himself known to us.

“Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.
And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge;
And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness;
And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity.
For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (2Pet. 1:4-8).

The greatest blessing that man can know is the restoration of Eden in the soul—that character of Adam reclaimed for us by Christ, His life and death and His gift of the Holy Spirit. Only thus do we receive the knowledge of God.

“Howbeit we speak wisdom among them that are perfect: yet not the wisdom of this world, nor of the princes of this world, that come to nought:
But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory:
Which none of the princes of this world knew: for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.
But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love Him.
But God hath revealed them unto us by His Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God.
For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God.
Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God.
Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual.
But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.
But he that is spiritual judgeth all things, yet he himself is judged of no man.
For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that He may instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ.” (1Cor. 2:6-16).

Yet, there are deeper mysteries than can be comprehended by the church of Christ, though it be filled with all the fullness of the Spirit. Those mysteries of God’s plans and of His Godhead can only be revealed and communicated by a prophet of God’s choosing, because if we try to delve into those mysteries we run into speculation which is an often used trap of Satan’s.

But when God lays His gift of prophecy on a man or woman, the effect cannot be mistaken. They accept the gift because they have come to love and trust God, and to know His mercy and righteousness. They lose control of themselves as they are caught up in vision. Power far beyond what man can ever produce fills them and drives them to speak of the pure righteousness they have seen in the Bible and longed to have in their nature.

The Holy Ghost—“the power of the Highest” moves them as it did Jesus. (Lk. 1:35). “Immediately the Spirit driveth Him into the wilderness.” (Mk. 1:12). Ezekiel’s experience was similar. “And He said unto me, Son of man, go, get thee unto the house of Israel, and speak with My words unto them.…
Behold, I have made thy face strong against their faces, and thy forehead strong against their foreheads.
As an adamant harder than flint have I made thy forehead: fear them not, neither be dismayed at their looks, though they be a rebellious house.
Moreover He said unto me, Son of man, all My words that I shall speak unto thee receive in thine heart, and hear with thine ears.
And go, get thee to them of the captivity, unto the children of thy people, and speak unto them, and tell them, Thus saith the Lord God; whether they will hear, or whether they will forbear.
Then the Spirit took me up, and I heard behind me a voice of a great rushing, saying, Blessed be the glory of the Lord from His place.
I heard also the noise of the wings of the living creatures that touched one another, and the noise of the wheels over against them, and a noise of a great rushing.
So the Spirit lifted me up, and took me away, and I went in bitterness, in the heat of my spirit; but the hand of the Lord was strong upon me.
Then I came to them of the captivity at Telabib, that dwelt by the river of Chebar, and I sat where they sat, and remained there astonished among them seven days.” (Ez. 3:4,8-15).

Likewise, was Jeremiah’s commission. “Then the Lord put forth His hand, and touched my mouth. And the Lord said unto me, Behold, I have put My words in thy mouth.
See, I have this day set thee over the nations and over the kingdoms, to root out, and to pull down, and to destroy, and to throw down, to build, and to plant.” (Jer. 1:9,10).

The Spirit of God enlightens the mind and empowers the will. “For though I preach the gospel, I have nothing to glory of: for necessity is laid upon me; yea, woe is unto me, if I preach not the gospel!
For if I do this thing willingly, I have a reward: but if against my will, a dispensation of the gospel is committed unto me.” (1Cor. 9:16,17). The prophets know the same experience that each Christian has, only multiplied many times over.

When the soul surrenders itself to Christ, a new power takes possession of the new heart. A change is wrought which man can never accomplish for himself. It is a supernatural work, bringing a supernatural element into human nature. The soul that is yielded to Christ becomes His own fortress, which He holds in a revolted world, and He intends that no authority shall be known in it but His own. A soul thus kept in possession by the heavenly agencies is impregnable to the assaults of Satan. Desire of Ages. p. 324.

But what makes the difference between the false prophet and the true? If fulfilled prophecy is a test of the true prophet, even a true prophet can foretell an event in the distant future, in which case many ages pass before the church can call that prophet legitimate. The 1,260 day prophecy didn’t prove true for 2,400 years later; therefore, technically Daniel and John were false prophets for many hundred years.

So what makes the difference between the false and the true prophet? “Ye shall know them by their fruits.” (Matt. 7:16). EllenWhite had a dream—Christ in the Holy Place surrounded by worshippers, most of whom were careless in their service to Him. Jesus moved into the Most Holy Place and the sincere worshippers followed Him in.

Those who rose up with Jesus would send up their faith to Him in the holiest, and pray, “My Father, give us Thy Spirit.” Then Jesus would breathe upon them the Holy Ghost. In that breath was light, power, and much love, joy, and peace….Satan appeared to be by the throne, trying to carry on the work of God. I saw them look up to the throne, and pray, “Father, give us Thy Spirit.” Satan would then breathe upon them an unholy influence; in it there was light and much power, but no sweet love, joy, and peace. Early Writings, p. 55.

The sweetness of Christ’s character perfumes those of His servants. Jeremiah wept bitterly over the demise of Israel. Samuel trembled to give the Lord’s message to Eli. God chooses His servants who sorrow to give the straight testimony for God. He can’t use anyone who loves to rebuke. They would “steal, and to kill, and to destroy.” (Jn. 10:10). They would work to “destroy men's lives” not “save them.” (Lk. 9:56). “For he shall have judgment without mercy, that hath shewed no mercy; and mercy rejoiceth against judgment.” (Jas. 2:13). He can use only those who feel it painful to rebuke, but obey the Lord because they must obey and trust His judgment.

So the prophet is filled with the Spirit like the house at Pentecost was filled with the mighty rushing wind. Ezekiel felt that very infilling. “Then the Spirit took me up, and I heard behind me a voice of a great rushing, saying, Blessed be the glory of the Lord from His place.
I heard also the noise of the wings of the living creatures that touched one another, and the noise of the wheels over against them, and a noise of a great rushing.” (Ez. 3:12,13). Jesus had this fullness of the Spirit every day. It was this “Spirit [not] by measure” that propelled Christ to walk a hundred miles in a day and never tire. (Jn. 3:34). It was His Father’s presence that had caused the priests and leaders to daily fear in His presence. And it was the loss of His Father’s Spirit that caused His great weakness in Gethsemane. He was as weak as Samson with his hair cut off.

“And He took with Him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and began to be sorrowful and very heavy.
Then saith He unto them, My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death: tarry ye here, and watch with Me.
And He went a little further, and fell on His face, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from Me: nevertheless not as I will, but as Thou wilt.” (Matt. 26:37-39).

Only the Spirit of God has the power of God—a power that drives us beyond our natural abilities—physically, mentally, and spiritually; swept up and moved with force in the body, soul, and spirit unknown in this mortal life.

My dream for Sunday-keepers

“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).

“Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.
And I will rebuke the devourer for your sakes, and he shall not destroy the fruits of your ground; neither shall your vine cast her fruit before the time in the field, saith the Lord of hosts.
And all nations shall call you blessed: for ye shall be a delightsome land, saith the Lord of hosts.” (Mal. 3:10-12).

“And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions:
And also upon the servants and upon the handmaids in those days will I pour out my spirit.” (Joel 2:28,29).

“And I will make with them a covenant of peace, and will cause the evil beasts to cease out of the land: and they shall dwell safely in the wilderness, and sleep in the woods.
And I will make them and the places round about my hill a blessing; and I will cause the shower to come down in his season; there shall be showers of blessing.” (Ez. 34:25,26).

Yesterday I visited my friend’s Baptist church. I was there just for the bible class because after that I had to meet with friends at some driving distance to have lunch together.

But before getting to my usual class room, I saw another friend from that church. She invited me in to her classroom and we conversed together with her friend. She accidentally called my by a wrong name, which I corrected, and she felt ashamed and apologetic and blamed into her lack of sleep.

She explained that lately she had been tossing and turning in bed and not getting sound sleep. So I gave her some scriptures that could help—promises, precious promises that might bring her peace of mind—Jeremiah 31:26, Isaiah 26:3, 2 Peter 1:4, and Matthew 4:4.

I recommended she read the contexts of these precious promises because the contest is what applies to our loves today. I reminded her that Jesus lived by every word that proceeded from his father’s mouth and he had such sound, peaceful sleep that thunder and lightning couldn’t disturb his slumber. She got really excited about all this.

The word of God is so powerful in the hands of the Holy Spirit. He and the angels crowd around all who are seeking God’s help through his chosen agency—the law of his mouth, the firm, holy wisdom of our wonderful counselor. He inhabits his words and he inhabits the praises of all who partake of his word and praise hi for it. As David said it, “The law of thy mouth is better unto me than thousands of gold and silver.” (Ps. 119:7).

Next was my class of all men. Our topic of study was on trusting God. But the questions the class facilitator laid out for discussion were vague and not pointed. In other words, the discussion wasn’t designed to get to the root of the cause of unbelief and doubts that plague us, and the solution for it. So I tried to inject practical things that I’ve experienced that equip us with the tools to get faith. I compared the fight for faith to things people do that build trust and friendship between themselves—time invested talking in conversation and doing things together. With God we need to lift up our voice in prayer and song, listen for His voice from His holy word, work together with Him inletting others learn of Him and the law of His mouth.

These are practical helps that neglected, end in lack of faith and constant defeat in the Christian life, and unending harassment by the devil. We have no protection by the enemy without the precious, powerful promises and precepts give to us by God. None but those who have fortified the mind with the truths of the Bible will stand through the last great conflict.

God speaks to us in His word. Here we have in clearer lines the revelation of His character, of His dealings with men, and the great work of redemption. Here is open before us the history of patriarchs and prophets and other holy men of old. They were men “subject to like passions as we are.” James 5:17. We see how they struggled through discouragements like our own, how they fell under temptation as we have done, and yet took heart again and conquered through the grace of God; and, beholding, we are encouraged in our striving after righteousness. As we read of the precious experiences granted them, of the light and love and blessing it was theirs to enjoy, and of the work they wrought through the grace given them, the spirit that inspired them kindles a flame of holy emulation in our hearts and a desire to be like them in character—like them to walk with God.
Jesus said of the Old Testament Scriptures, —and how much more is it true of the New, —”They are they which testify of Me,” the Redeemer, Him in whom our hopes of eternal life are centered. John 5:39. Yes, the whole Bible tells of Christ. From the first record of creation—for “without Him was not anything made that was made”—to the closing promise, “Behold, I come quickly,” we are reading of His works and listening to His voice. John 1:3; Revelation 22:12. If you would become acquainted with the Saviour, study the Holy Scriptures.
Fill the whole heart with the words of God. They are the living water, quenching your burning thirst. They are the living bread from heaven. Jesus declares, “Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink His blood, ye have no life in you.” And He explains Himself by saying, “The words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.” John 6:53, 63. Our bodies are built up from what we eat and drink; and as in the natural economy, so in the spiritual economy: it is what we meditate upon that will give tone and strength to our spiritual nature
The theme of redemption is one that the angels desire to look into; it will be the science and the song of the redeemed throughout the ceaseless ages of eternity. Is it not worthy of careful thought and study now? The infinite mercy and love of Jesus, the sacrifice made in our behalf, call for the most serious and solemn reflection. We should dwell upon the character of our dear Redeemer and Intercessor. We should meditate upon the mission of Him who came to save His people from their sins. As we thus contemplate heavenly themes, our faith and love will grow stronger, and our prayers will be more and more acceptable to God, because they will be more and more mixed with faith and love. They will be intelligent and fervent. There will be more constant confidence in Jesus, and a daily, living experience in His power to save to the uttermost all that come unto God by Him.
Steps to Christ, p. 87,88.

“To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.” Isaiah 8:20. The people of God are directed to the Scriptures as their safeguard against the influence of false teachers and the delusive power of spirits of darkness. Satan employs every possible device to prevent men from obtaining a knowledge of the Bible; for its plain utterances reveal his deceptions. At every revival of God’s work the prince of evil is aroused to more intense activity; he is now putting forth his utmost efforts for a final struggle against Christ and His followers. The last great delusion is soon to open before us. Antichrist is to perform his marvelous works in our sight. So closely will the counterfeit resemble the true that it will be impossible to distinguish between them except by the Holy Scriptures. By their testimony every statement and every miracle must be tested.
Those who endeavor to obey all the commandments of God will be opposed and derided. They can stand only in God. In order to endure the trial before them, they must understand the will of God as revealed in His word; they can honor Him only as they have a right conception of His character, government, and purposes, and act in accordance with them. None but those who have fortified the mind with the truths of the Bible will stand through the last great conflict. To every soul will come the searching test: Shall I obey God rather than men? The decisive hour is even now at hand. Are our feet planted on the rock of God’s immutable word? Are we prepared to stand firm in defense of the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus?
Great Controversy, p. 593.

“God speaks to us in His word.” “None but those who have fortified the mind with the truths of the Bible will stand through the last great conflict.”

Finally we closed on the note that we need to keep our relationship with God strong and avoid unbelief. Again, vague and not very helpful—the requirement without the guidance to attain its high demands. So, I interjected after the facilitator ended and offered a powerful force that counteracts the relationship we want with Jesus—“idolatry. Idolatry is in constant competition with our efforts to know God and to trust him.”

There was a moment of silence as that idea sunk in. They knew what idolatry in the new dispensation meant. They knew in our day idols and gods were our life of luxury and affluence—that even food could be an idol. The problem was that during class they had been eating a dish brought by one of the men. It had eggs and meat and much cheese. It was so tempting they could hardly restrain themselves from it. One classmate offered it to me, but the facilitator, knowing I was a vegan said, “No he can’t have that, its got meat in it.” To which I added, “…and lots of cheese.”

The facilitator complimented my thin body and apparent health, to which I remarked, “I want to have a bod for God.” They laughed because that was a catch phrase in their church which their pastor invented for his efforts to promote health and exercise and weight loss top his flock and many other congregations around the country. They saw that I was standing behind their pastor’s program and loyal to his ideals in that.

My hope and dream and prayers have been for an acceptance of the three angels’ message in that Baptist church. It is to see a great revival of faith and spirituality and to have victory over the power of sin and Satan running rampant through that congregation of somewhat well-off, career-bent people, and to see the joy in every victorious face. I would love to see that church become known by the whole of northern Virginia and then by the whole metropolitan D.C. area as the place where God actually comes down and meets with sinners and is actively turning them into saints. And there shall be showers of blessings.

“Thus saith the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel; As yet they shall use this speech in the land of Judah and in the cities thereof, when I shall bring again their captivity; The Lord bless thee, O habitation of justice, and mountain of holiness.
And there shall dwell in Judah itself, and in all the cities thereof together, husbandmen, and they that go forth with flocks.
For I have satiated the weary soul, and I have replenished every sorrowful soul.
Upon this I awaked, and beheld; and my sleep was sweet unto me.” (Jer. 31:23-26).