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“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, December 19, 2014

Time, distance, shielding

Some people work in nuclear reactor plants. They learn the life-saving lesson of protection from the lethal radiation that always fills the reactor and also leaks out of it. The three word motto of their life is time, distance, and shielding.
 
In other words, the longer a person remains in the presence of radiation, or the closer he lives to the source of radiation, or the less material he has blocking the radiation, and the more damage done to his body. And on the contrary, the less time he stays in the vicinity of the deadly rays, or the farther away he stays, or the more material he has to shield his body, then less damage, if any, will occur.
 
But, in one situation I heard of an eating facility that was right next to a reactor. There must be a lot of shielding between that eating space and the reactor.
 
If we are ever to be spared the ravaging effects of Satan’s presence in our weakened body and soul, we need the same three methods of protection. The less time thinking like him and doing things like him, the more distance we put between ourselves and his temptations, and the better we can be shielded from temptation and the evil habits that we’ve already learned, the healthier and happier we will be.
 
But, because of the fall of the human race into sin, our hearts are evil and we cannot change them. It’s open season with us for Satan. We must have help in order to distance ourselves from sin and temptation. Deliverance will take our time and a continuous, lifetime dedication. Yet, these alone cannot give successful disconnection and victory over sin and its destructive nature. We need more than we can provide. Of ourselves, we are not bullet proof or temptation proof. We need shielding, plenty of shielding. We need “the word of truth, …the power of God, …the armour of righteousness on the right hand and on the left.” (2Cor. 6:7).
 
We need the Stone, the ragged Stone that was cut out of another world that will become a Mountain and fill our world. “And a Man shall be as an hiding place from the wind, and a covert from the tempest; as rivers of water in a dry place, as the shadow of a great rock in a weary land.” (Isa. 32:2).
 
“From the end of the earth will I cry unto Thee, when my heart is overwhelmed: lead me to the Rock that is higher than I. For Thou hast been a shelter for me, and a strong tower from the enemy.” (Ps. 61:2,3).
 
With Jesus, the word of truth and the Spirit of truth, comes the whole armor of God. He tells us, “I am thy shield, and thy exceeding great reward.” (Gen. 15:1). Walking with Him by our side, Him in us and us in Him, we can get a great distance from sin, inherited and cultivated; and we can stay miles away from temptation. With our thoughts in Him and His thoughts in us, temptation will flee over the horizon and out of range, out of sight and out of mind. With Jesus we will cut off every avenue for the tempter to get a word in edgewise. Not trusting in self to do battle with our seasoned warrior enemy, we will let Jesus fight those battles for us.
 
But, we must fight the fight of faith; we must battle to get to Jesus and stay with Him; we must labor to enter into His rest (Hebrews 4:11). We must let Him grow on us. We must spend the time letting the Bible remove the scales from the eyes of our mind so that we can see Him. We must heed the admonitions of the Bible that will facilitate the scale removal. Perverted diet, dehydration, overwork, laziness, disregard of warning signs, keeping away from our Creator’s beautiful world of nature, resisting the pull of His Spirit, all will destroy our ability to have Jesus for our time, distance, and shielding from the enemy of souls. Therefore, all of those transgressions of God’s laws of health must be substituted for something better. This is not legalism, this is survival!
 
These idols will destroy every effort to get with Jesus. Idolatry has ever been the obstacle and stumbling stone that has prevented God from dwelling with His people. Self-indulgence, in whatever form, has meant death, immediately or ultimately, one way or another. Many desiring to be saved never obtain salvation because of the idols they choose to not let go of. A feeling and a hope to have Jesus, but no diligent, everything-it-takes effort to have Him, will mean eternal ruin. You will have to pick up the cross if you really want to find Him (Matt. 16:24-26). Satan will not loosen a pinky-hold without our determined rebuke to his corrupting grip.
 
Proper diet, pure water, fresh air, labor and rest, sunlight, self-denial, trust in divine power, are the eight laws of success in the Christian life. They are the antithesis of idolatry, and the narrow road and narrow entrance to real life here and eternity. They will naturally bring us to salvation. How can a person be saved from selfishness while he focuses his will to please himself? How can we have a clear mind without plenty of pure water and fresh air? How can we follow Jesus if we refuse to suffer for His sake on the issues that are closest to us and are the most easily dealt with? How can we love the things of Christ, things of holiness if we won’t abstain from wrong thoughts and words and practices?
 
From a widely read author: “But what do we give up, when we give all? A sin-polluted heart, for Jesus to purify, to cleanse by His own blood, and to save by His matchless love. And yet men think it hard to give up all! I am ashamed to hear it spoken of, ashamed to write it.” Steps to Christ, p. 46.
 
It will take our deciding which we want the most. Love for others, or love for self. Jesus or Satan. Is it really a hard choice? Clearer perceptions of truth and grace, or that bowl of ice cream and cake. An hour with the Bible, or three hours of televised sports. We can’t have them both; no man can serve God and mammon. A walk in the woods or around the neighborhood, or six half-hour increments of sitcoms and soap operas. It won’t be an easy choice, especially at first. But, whatever we do not overcome will overcome us.

Multitudes want salvation. Multitudes desire eternal life. Multitudes want heaven, but most will not let go of their idols. “Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision: for the day of the LORD is near in the valley of decision.” (Joel 3:14). It can take a long time to move completely away from Babylon. But, it is certain that if we parley with Babylon’s temptations we will never come out. The longer we handle and hold the sin, going over and over whether or not we should give it up, the less and less we can let it go. And the less and less likely we will ever be saved.
 
We don’t readily have both Christ’s loathing of sin and the poisoned mind of those who minister sin. “Having eyes full of adultery, and that cannot cease from sin; beguiling unstable souls: an heart they have exercised with covetous practices; cursed children.” (2Pet. 2:14). “But [Jesus] turned, and said unto Peter, Get thee behind Me, Satan: thou art an offence unto Me: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men.” (Matt. 16:23). This should be our goal, our target. It was Christ’s purity and austere conscience that wrestled in the Garden of Gethsemane, recoiling from the presence of Satan, to not handle humanity’s lust for sin and self-indulgence, and to reap sin’s dread effects. But, that awful day He must taste the total disgust and separation from God that sin has caused, causes, and will cause the great King by every member of His beloved human race.
 
Like cockroaches we revel in the detestable world of sin. It’s been our home since our conception. Our filthy character and separation from God doesn’t bother us that much. But, only because the grace of God spares us, do we not immediate reap suffering and death. We savor excitement and open rebellion, empty and deleterious. But, God keeps us alive in the hope that we will turn from our ways and really live in Him.
 
Jesus suffered under our iniquitous lives. All the grace of God that has paid for our continued existence has been taken from our Saviour (Matt. 8:16,17). The abundant life from the Father for which we can never reimburse Him, Jesus had to lose from His life. The separation from His Father sent distress throughout His whole internal organs, killing Him body, spirit, and soul. Before He even left the Garden, “from the sole of the foot even unto the head there is no soundness in it; but wounds, and bruises, and putrifying sores: they [were] not been closed, neither bound up, neither mollified with ointment.” (Isa. 1:6).
 
This is the Jesus the world claims to want, but knows nothing about. And most don’t want to know because they fear the responsibility that comes with that knowledge. “Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth Him not, neither knoweth Him.” (John 14:17). Yet, in spite of the pervasive failure to surrender to Jesus, it’s not hard. It is actually very doable.
 
He spoke differently toward His friends. “But ye know Him; for He dwelleth with you, and shall be in you.” “I will pray the Father, and He shall give you another Comforter, that He may abide with you for ever.” (John 14:16,17). These closest associates of Jesus’ weren’t special, naturally holy men. They were fishermen, publicans, and otherwise sinners. But, notwithstanding their weakness and evil passions, they stayed with Jesus through thick and thin. They constantly witnessed His cold rejection of their sins, but  simultaneously His warm acceptance of them. They stayed with Him, even when He punished them with a storm at sea in the pitch blackness of night, when facing demoniacs, and though often chased from city to city by enflamed religious fanatics and reaping the suspicions of the leaders all because they had Jesus for their teacher. Nevertheless, they found something in Jesus that met a need they didn’t know they had until they saw the way He was. They discovered in His indefatigable righteousness a boon to their mental, emotional, spiritual, and physical health.
 
In Him was life like they had never known. His painful hatred of sin was all over His face; He couldn’t hide it. No wonder that to see Him was to be struck with lightning bolts of conviction. No one, no one was ever the same again after meeting Jesus. But, His love for the sinner was equally apparent. High and low, rich and poor, free and bond, it didn’t matter who. Even His enemies were disarmed because He loved them, too. God had given Him to the world, and He sent His Son filled to the brim with His undaunted love for them. Everyone knew that God loved them by the encouragement and help Jesus gave them. If Jesus had stayed, He would have turned the world back to His Father in His lifetime.
 
But, there would have been a problem. The Spirit of truth, the Spirit of God would have remained limited. It would have remained “with” them, but not “in” them. Jesus had to reconcile His Father to the great controversy. That could only happen when the great King of infinite perfection could see a man live the perfect life (by His infinite standards) to the last waking thought before death, all the while under the wildest barrage of wickedness heaped on him by the adversarial hosts of the rebellion.
 
Once Jesus accomplished that, He satisfied the infinite grief of His Father. Thus, His Father glorified Him. As an evidence of that, He deluged the lonely, praying 120 disciples with a tornado of His joy.
 
Looking unto Jesus, turning away from the idolatrous life of this world is very doable. When we are looking at Jesus, handling the Son instead of handling sin, the things of this world grow strangely dim. And, like the disciples, we will have much to say about Him. “That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the Word of life; (for the life was manifested, and we have seen it, and bear witness, and shew unto you that eternal life, which was with the Father, and was manifested unto us;) that which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ.” (1Jn. 1:1-3).
 
We must stay in the dining room instead of in the deadly reactor. Let us eat, drink, and be merry eating in His presence. Let’s enjoy Him in perfect fear and obedience, like the leaders of Israel.
 
“Then went up Moses, and Aaron, Nadab, and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel: and they saw the God of Israel: and there was under His feet as it were a paved work of a sapphire stone, and as it were the body of heaven in His clearness. And upon the nobles of the children of Israel He laid not His hand: also they saw God, and did eat and drink.” (Ex. 24:9-11)
 
Let us follow Him away from our idols. And let’s ask, seek, and knock for His robe of protecting righteousness, holding out our arms until He puts it on us. Then we will find in that robe a divine nature that makes sins and temptation fall off of our old human nature like the fleas off of my dog’s back when he takes his medication for them. Receiving our protective shielding, Jesus will throw around the whole host of darkness hip and thigh, and put the armies of the aliens to everlasting reproach.
 
Let’s not wait another moment to indulge in the pure word of God. “Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.” (2Cor. 6:2). Let’s choose to get nearer and nearer to Jesus and His love. And let us accept His loving Spirit when that privilege comes to us. Then we will have His shield, distance, and time away from sin. And it’s doable because we are only going for the gold that He has already promised —that is, the riches of His love and faithfulness. “I counsel thee to buy of Me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see.” (Rev. 3:18).
 
And for every child of Adam, each one made in God’s image, love is always the strongest  of incentives.
 
 “Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters, and he that hath no money; come ye, buy, and eat; yea, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price.
Wherefore do ye spend money for that which is not bread? and your labour for that which satisfieth not? hearken diligently unto Me, and eat ye that which is good, and let your soul delight itself in fatness.
Incline your ear, and come unto Me: hear, and your soul shall live; and I will make an everlasting covenant with you, even the sure mercies of David….
Seek ye the LORD while He may be found, call ye upon Him while He is near:
Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the LORD, and He will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon….
For ye shall go out with joy, and be led forth with peace: the mountains and the hills shall break forth before you into singing, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.
Instead of the thorn shall come up the fir tree, and instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle tree: and it shall be to the LORD for a name, for an everlasting sign that shall not be cut off.” (Isa. 55:1-3,6,7,12,13).

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