“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.

Friday, February 03, 2012

Pride against preparation

“But he that received the seed into stony places, the same is he that heareth the word, and anon with joy receiveth it;
Yet hath he not root in himself, but dureth for a while: for when tribulation or persecution ariseth because of the word, by and by he is offended.” (Matt. 13:20,21).

“For which of you, intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it?
Lest haply, after he hath laid the foundation, and is not able to finish it, all that behold it begin to mock him,
Saying, This man began to build, and was not able to finish.
Or what king, going to make war against another king, sitteth not down first, and consulteth whether he be able with ten thousand to meet him that cometh against him with twenty thousand?
Or else, while the other is yet a great way off, he sendeth an ambassage, and desireth conditions of peace.” (Lk. 14:28-32).

Which of us would hear the good news and immediately rush out to convert all the atheists and skeptics of the world? Would this be a wise thing to do? Is this a lesson in these parables? It takes time to “count the cost” and to “consult” with advisors, during which time we must “sit…down first” (vs. 28,31).

The spiritual common sense message here is a lesson of humility. We should not trust in ourselves. We should not assume that we need not examine ourselves, our motive, our stance with Christ, dispensing with verifying our relationship with Him to see if we are actually in the faith or to “see if there be any wicked way in me,” (Ps. 139:24), to check if we really have the strength from Christ, to see if we may arrogantly speed along on strength we have generated of ourselves. It means we run into disaster when we are so hurried about the work of the Lord that we have no time to spend consulting with the Lord of the work.

The stony-ground hearer was not a believer, although he thought he was. He may have been on the verge of trusting God; he saw the goodly land at a distance filled with the goodness of God, but he was no closer to surrender than was the rich, young, ruler who ran and fell at Jesus’ feet, begging for help. Going through the motions is no indications of a change of heart and nature.

Satan has not yet relinquished control of the stony-ground hearer. This hearer does not yet have even the tiny mustard seed grain of faith and love. If he did, he would not run away from Jesus and be left totally defenseless against Satan’s hosts. If we have that very small seed in our heart, we will be kept under the wings of the Lord, and underneath will be the everlasting arms. “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me:
And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of My hand.
My Father, which gave them Me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of My Father’s hand.” (Jn. 10:27-29).

But, instead, this kind of person operates on some feeling of ecstasy, rather than the principle of love which the Holy Spirit wants to put in him through surrender to God’s mercy and truth. Under the power of the enemy, before he could allow himself to take hold of eternal life residing in the love of God, he let himself get sidetracked into some great adventure for God.

This effort was really to exalt himself for what he could do for God; it was Cain’s gift of great effort—an effort that he produced without love to God in response to the love from God to him. He ran off before the message of God’s love could take root in his heart. Without the acceptance of God’s love, we naturally get busy and stay busy, unable to stop and rest like a babe enfolded in the arms of infinite love, unable to be His beloved child “filled with all the fulness of God.” (Eph. 3:19). This makes God angry because Satan has yet again frustrated His efforts to save His beloved children.

So long as Satan maintains his hold on the soul—because the will and the heart have not surrendered to Jesus—we are driven to work and stay busy and rattle on like Simon Peter on the mount of transfiguration. Without love to control the mind, giving it peace, and settling it, the soul short circuits, running on its own accord, and eventually avalanches into a meltdown.

“Not … the spirit of fear,” is the result of salvation through accepting the love of God by faith, but “power, and … love, and … a sound mind.” (2Tim. 1:7). Our redemption is the last thing Satan would want, so he keeps our minds busy, occupied with something—a good work or a bad—either will be his tool; he can use any work to prevent salvation and thus bring another soul to destruction. This is why justification must be without works. We don’t have the personal resources to do any good work until we have sat down first and counted the cost of our salvation to our Father in heaven and to His Son. So the Master Teacher keeps it doable—saved by faith in His love, only. Once saved, then He can introduce work; and He will.

But even though He will lead us to do a good work for Him, He will first establish us in faith. That will take time alone with us—and how precious that time alone with Jesus is! But we have to be willing to sit with Mary Magdalene “at Jesus’ feet, and [hear] His word.” (Lk. 10:39). And we will hear in our soul the beautiful word from our Deliverer as He defends our sitting and not working like the unsaved who stay busy and are “careful and troubled about many things.” “But one thing is needful: and Mary [and every newborn babe in Christ] hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her.” (vs. 41,42). And Satan won’t be able to take it away from us either.

But, the unwary, those who are not sober and vigilant, the “fool” of Proverbs whose heart never aches for God’s presence and thus never becomes wise through the love of Christ’s righteousness, is taken into the devil’s snare much more often than not. Without realizing why he can’t love to do the Lord’s will, he rushes on in some moral or immoral action, some apparently holy or criminal work.

“For thus saith the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel; in returning and rest shall ye be saved; in quietness and in confidence shall be your strength: and ye would not. But ye said, No.” (Is. 30:15,16).

Unless the sinner’s heart trusts in God through the merits and mighty provision of Christ in the poured out sacrifice His beautiful soul, the human heart can hear the gospel loudly and clearly, but Satan will not permit it to lay down its work and busyness. The soul’s answer will always parrot Satan will in a resounding, “No!” to righteousness. This was the cause of the same response from the children of Israel for forty long years after deliverance from Egypt. “So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief.” (Heb. 3:19).

Moses’ message to Pharaoh was that of the gospel. “Thus saith the Lord God of Israel, Let My people go, that they may hold a feast unto Me in the wilderness.” (Ex. 5:1). But Pharaoh, speaking for Satan, exposed our enemy’s strategy to keep us from surrendering and trusting in God. “Pharaoh said, Behold, the people of the land now are many, and ye make them rest from their burdens.
Let there more work be laid upon the men, that they may labour therein; and let them not regard vain words.” (Ex. 5:5,9). Was it a bad work Pharaoh required of the Israelite slaves? Shouldn’t we labor six days and do all our work? Yes, of course, but not when its time to be with God. And Satan has no authority to prevent us from time with God; all he can do is get us sidetracked so that we have no time left over for quality time with Jesus in each 24 hours.

Israel needed to be rescued from this constant work and to come under the healthful, life-giving governance of their Creator, whose motive in their discipline and development was love for them and for their welfare, a motive only of self-sacrificing love. But, they could not be persuaded to choose the peace and love of God over the pagan erotic, exciting service to Satan, even 700 years later. “Forasmuch as this people refuseth the waters of Shiloah that go softly, and rejoice in Rezin and Remaliah’s son....” (Isaiah 8:6). Satan’s only motive is to bring us to ruin and keep us there body, mind, and soul. He is a murderer from the beginning and a thief, robbing Adam’s children of joy in trusting God. Jesus says, “The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.” (Jn. 10:10).

The human heart, disconnected from the power of the Holy Spirit, is fickle and untrustworthy. “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” (Jer. 17:9). Until it has genuinely tasted of the heavenly gift “and continueth therein” (Jas. 1:25) it cannot serve God aright. A doctor doesn’t set a broken leg and immediately tell the patient to walk on it. We don’t take our little ones and put them to work among adult strangers, who could abduct them and destroy them. Never! “If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask Him?” (Matt. 7:11).

Then, neither should we expect God to send us into the fray of spiritual warfare without a time to first grow strong, alone with Him, learning of Jesus and receiving the deepening faith from the Holy Spirit. We see this wisdom in Hannah’s keeping little Samuel for five years before exposing him to the blasphemous lives of the priests. We see it in young Samson spending his childhood in the camp of Dan, trying out his natural gift of brawn from God before entering his role as deliverer of the nation. Likewise, God gave Moses 80 years to prepare for the great wok ahead of him, learning of Jesus and communing with Him (Ex. 7:7). After his conversion, Paul spent three years in the desert of Arabia, drawing close to his Deliverer, healing, and getting grounded in a new perspective of the scriptures.

These men did not rush out to do battle with Satan’s hosts. Love through the Holy Spirit bade them, “Come ye yourselves apart into a desert place, and rest a while.” (Mk. 6:31). The leper to whom Christ commanded to spend his time showing his miracle healing to the priest, had he obeyed would have experienced a completion of the baptism of the Holy Spirit that Jesus had begun in him when He first touched and healed his body. The leper would have become settled and matured. Christ would have been made to him wisdom, as “the love of God” would have “shed abroad in [his] heart by the Holy Ghost.” (Rom. 5:5). He would have developed into a wonderful tool to gather others in to his Savior. But instead, from the outset, he disobeyed his Master and created havoc for Christ, who had to work in the deserted wilderness outside the crowded towns, severely limiting His outreach.

Due to “returning and rest” and “quietness and … confidence” the success stories of the Bible prophets and heroes accomplished the great work God needed for them. (Is. 30:15). But the King Sauls who never allowed themselves the time and effort to “be converted, and become as little children” and to “humble [themselves]as this little child,” (Matt. 18:3,4) are never sanctified by these first works and able to stand though the heavens fall.

“Wherefore (as the Holy Ghost saith, To day if ye will hear His voice,
Harden not your hearts, as in the provocation, in the day of temptation in the wilderness:
When your fathers tempted Me, proved Me, and saw My works forty years.
Wherefore I was grieved with that generation, and said, They do alway err in their heart; and they have not known my ways.
So I sware in My wrath, They shall not enter into my rest.)” (Heb. 3:7-11).

If we find ourselves running but not converted, let us determine to get with Jesus and spend the time with Him “until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts” (2Pet. 1:19). His mercy endureth forever.

“And therefore will the Lord wait, that He may be gracious unto you, and therefore will He be exalted, that He may have mercy upon you: for the Lord is a God of judgment: blessed are all they that wait for Him.” (Is. 30:18).


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