“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, April 24, 2015

The Conviction Catcher

“Likewise, thou son of man, set thy face against the daughters of thy people, which prophesy out of their own heart; and prophesy thou against them,
And say, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Woe to the women that sew pillows to all armholes, and make kerchiefs upon the head of every stature to hunt souls! Will ye hunt the souls of My people, and will ye save the souls alive that come unto you?
And will ye pollute Me among My people for handfuls of barley and for pieces of bread, to slay the souls that should not die, and to save the souls alive that should not live, by your lying to My people that hear your lies?
Wherefore thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I am against your pillows, wherewith ye there hunt the souls to make them fly, and I will tear them from your arms, and will let the souls go, even the souls that ye hunt to make them fly.
Your kerchiefs also will I tear, and deliver My people out of your hand, and they shall be no more in your hand to be hunted; and ye shall know that I am the LORD.” (Eze. 13:17-21).
The pagans had some elaborate gimmicks—all to catch the eye and imagination, but also to pass over the conscience and avoid conviction from the God of love who is trying to get through to them. Their promises from Baal to the Jews were more than heart could wish. They were a dream come true. Just pay the soothsayer some barley and bread, and they would send the spirits after your enemies. They would hunt them down and never grow tired until those hated, evil people were destroyed!
Then there are the “good” witches, who give you what you want and make all your dreams come true. Just pay them the barley and bread, and they will give you a dream catcher, to pray to the wind and have those dream catchers strain out all the bad, nightmarish things from the winds of fate, and keep only the good, day-dreamy things of fate.
But, all this superstition has always been the counterfeit for the truth. It’s for people who want to wear on their sleeve what needs to be in their heart, in a heart made new. The truth is that righteousness exalts a nation, a society, a church, a family, an individual. Yes, old-fashioned righteousness. And love is what righteousness is all about. Self-sacrifice, self-sacrificing love. Self-denial, self-abnegation, self-forgetfulness.
Jesus said it right, “Whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for My sake shall find it.” (Matt. 16:25).
“Then said Jesus unto His disciples, If any man will come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.” (Matt 16:24). Self-sacrifice, the renunciation of pride, is the first step in having all your dreams come true. And the clearest presentation of self-sacrificing humility is the Bible.
“Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful.
But his delight is in the Law of the LORD; and in His law doth he meditate day and night.
And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.” (Ps. 1:1-3).
If anyone wants to prosper, follow the high standard of the Bible.
1) Let’s fortify our minds with the Bible. And let us find or stay with others who have wonderful faith; let us admire and copy the lives of God’s soldiers of the good fight of faith. “But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them; and that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.” (2Tim. 3:14,15). “When I call to remembrance the unfeigned faith that is in thee, which dwelt first in thy grandmother Lois, and thy mother Eunice; and I am persuaded that in thee also.” (2Tim. 1:5). The Bible is special in that by simply putting its words in our minds, it begins to change our thinking and make a way for Jesus to stay with us. “He that hath My commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth Me: and he that loveth Me shall be loved of My Father, and I will love him, and will manifest Myself to him.” (John 14:21). That’s exciting!
2) Repent and be converted. Now that is a standard that no witch would want, no matter how “good” she is. The priests and vestal virgins of Baal, anciently or presently, fled/flee from the new birth. But, to have something good to offer people means to walk with Jesus. And the more in step we are with Him, the more open we are to His Spirit. “Can two walk together, except they be agreed?” (Mic. 3:3). To have a new heart toward humility and self-denial and abstinence is something essential to have Jesus in close confines with us, though not desired by the fallen human nature. “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked.” (Jer. 17:9). We desperately need a new heart. I need one each day. And Jesus promises to give it to me as I seek Him in His word. “A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh.” (Eze. 36:26). A heart of flesh, just what I want!
3) Let’s follow after godliness, and see the salvation of the Lord. “Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord.” (Heb. 12:14). “Let us therefore follow after the things which make for peace, and things wherewith one may edify another.” (Rom. 14:19). Let us build each other up. Let us be servants to each other, and not think we need to be the master over others.
4) Let us get all the fruits and gifts of the Spirit. “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.” (Gal. 5:22,23).
“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.” (2Pet. 1:5-7).
“And He gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers… till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ: that we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; but speaking the truth in love, may grow up into Him in all things, which is the head, even Christ.” (Eph. 4:11,13-15). 
“And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues. Are all apostles? are all prophets? are all teachers? are all workers of miracles?
Have all the gifts of healing? do all speak with tongues? do all interpret? But covet earnestly the best gifts: and yet shew I unto you a more excellent way. Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing.” (1Cor. 12:28-13:2).
Just as all the fruits of the spirit from Peter and Paul begin and end in charity or άγἀπη, so do the gifts. Love is the fulfilling of not only the Law, but also of the fruits and the gifts. Love to God and to man is the only way to all three, obedience, fruit, and gifts. All three hang on agapē.
The interconnecting elements of love are the only true dream catcher. That’s because they are the true conviction catcher. No stick bent in a circle with strings tied together can ever amount to anything except decoration. If decorations or being in vogue is all a person cares about, then so be it. But, if we could catch the convictions of the very Spirit of God, we could be effective ministers in civilian clothes. We could see the beginning of the Latter Rain. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to preach the perfect message? Wouldn’t it be great to teach the perfect Bible study to a person or group that gives people promises from God above to anyone who will hear? Wouldn’t that be a dream come true?! But, to depend on tangible objects for hope dismisses the issues of the heart, and end in disappointment.
“All true obedience comes from the heart. It was heart work with Christ. And if we consent, He will so identify Himself with our thoughts and aims, so blend our hearts and minds into conformity to His will, that when obeying Him we shall be but carrying out our own impulses. The will, refined and sanctified, will find its highest delight in doing His service. When we know God as it is our privilege to know Him, our life will be a life of continual obedience. Through an appreciation of the character of Christ, through communion with God, sin will become hateful to us.” Desire of Ages, p. 668.
When sin is hateful to us, and Jesus is altogether lovely, then everything we do will prosper.
Do we want to speak like angels? Do we want to preach like Paul? Do we want to have something good to say that helps people? Do we want to see depressed, distressing, hopeless people perk up with hope and faith? If so, then what we need is a conviction catcher.
We need the Bible and we need a conscience. We need the Bible to get into our conscience. That’s how the sealing happens. Then the Spirit of God through the principles of the Bible will untangle all of our misconceptions and distrust. It will strengthen the connections between our correct conceptions of God’s love that have taken root and are spreading out to meet each other. The Spirit from Christ will create a network of interconnecting fruits of the Spirit, lessons learned from the Bible stories, Old Testament statutes, and New Testament principles.
That way, as the wind of the Holy Spirit blows through our soul, it can quicken all of the spiritual nodes and anodes, nerves and memory cores in our conscience, so that our conscience’s web will be 1,000 times stronger than steel. The more intricate the web grows, the more constant our communion will be with Jesus, the more our web will pick up the swishing of the Spirit’s passage through the conscience. (I use physical terms to represent the conscience because I don’t know how the conscience works, and I don’t think anyone else does either. For our sake, I believe Jesus would do the same.)
 But, the Spirit won’t blow so hard as to destroy our growing web. He has already promised, “For thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy; I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones. For I will not contend for ever, neither will I be always wroth: for the spirit should fail before Me, and the souls which I have made.” (Isa. 57:15,16). But, He will strengthen the interconnections so to be able to take greater and greater force of blasts. He will use the hosts of wickedness also to strengthen our conscience. In small crises today and the fiercest blasts of the great times of trouble in the up-coming future, our patience in difficulty will keep testing our development.
“For the great day of [Jesus’] wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand? And after these things I saw four angels standing on the four corners of the earth, holding the four winds of the earth, that the wind should not blow on the earth, nor on the sea, nor on any tree. And I saw another angel ascending from the east, having the seal of the living God: and he cried with a loud voice to the four angels, to whom it was given to hurt the earth and the sea, Saying, Hurt not the earth, neither the sea, nor the trees, till we have sealed the servants of our God in their foreheads.” (Rev. 6:17-7:3). By accepting the mercy of Jesus, His followers will be sealed in their forehead. They will have the fortitude to stand when Jesus returns, and not flee with the faithless, tormented wicked. In the end, we will be perfectly sealed in our foreheads; our spiderweb of spiritual things will be able to stand before God as His 144,000 elite.
Today, the Spirit of Christ will make our conviction catcher strings glow with heavenly light and vibrate to the frequency of God’s glory. He will attend our thoughts and He will attend the minds of people we talk to. More than stocks and stones can bring us to the gate of God. The Law and the gospel together will spiritually raise us up to “sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus” (Eph. 2:6) and make us vessels worthy of the Spirit’s use here.

But, if we don’t make it our full time goal and purpose to have a conviction catcher, then what spirituality we might gain by the grace of God will be knotted up, choked, and fade away. What we had was only remade by divine software, anyway. It won’t be permanently hardwired until we are literally translated and glorified. So until then, we must treat our convictions and faith, our fruits and gifts, as borrowed; they are on loan from the Lord. We must be faithful stewards of His vaporous blessings.
Ellen White had a dream to this effect:
“My guide now opened the door, and we both passed out. He bade me take up again all the things I had left without. This done, he handed me a green cord coiled up closely. This he directed me to place next my heart, and when I wished to see Jesus, take from my bosom and stretch it to the utmost. He cautioned me not to let it remain coiled for any length of time, lest it should become knotted and difficult to straighten. I placed the cord near my heart and joyfully descended the narrow stairs, praising the Lord and joyfully telling all whom I met where they could find Jesus. This dream gave me hope. The green cord represented faith to my mind, and the beauty and simplicity of trusting in God began to dawn upon my benighted soul.” Early Writings, p. 81.
Not only is it best for us to keep our heart unknotted and in tune, but it is utterly essential. “For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence stedfast unto the end.” (Heb. 3:14). It’s possible to lose our fear of God and our convictions. “Therefore we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard, lest at any time we should let them slip.” (Heb. 2:1). Our faith needs maintenance, daily, moment by moment. Keeping everlasting life is not a hobby. Its not an avocation. Eternal life is a full-time vocation. “I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called.” (Eph. 4:1). It’s a job and an adventure; it’s a reward all day long. It’s like one of those rare jobs that people can’t believe they’re getting paid to do.
One last note. Everything Jesus has to offer will come in exchange for something the devil offered us. We can’t have both. We can’t serve God and mammon; our choice is God or mammon. So there must be a necessary breaking off of the earthly curse for receiving the heavenly blessing. This means self-sacrifice, self-denial, abstinence. It’s the strait gate and narrow path that hardly anybody travels. In fact, its traffic is so minimal because people almost never noticed the gate. “Strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.” (Matt. 7:14). But, it is evident that giving up idols is not a popular practice. Out of the whole antediluvian world, only eight went through the narrow gate, and one of the eight became a devil. Ham lost his conviction catcher, and he became the perpetuator of the pre-flood apostasy. By keeping his seal until the danger was past, and letting his guard down to sin, Satan wooed Ham to become the father of idolatry, paganism, the occult, despotic empires and enslavement, corruption of the human race to the same condition it had before the flood.
Let’s keep our eye single to the goal— getting and keeping a conviction catcher in our forehead so that we can hear Jesus reveal the blessed lessons of the Bible. Then we will find real purpose in life. Our thoughts will be filled with promises from Jesus. Our mouths will be filled with His words. Others’ ears will be filled with the promises and good counsel from our mouths. And their hearts will also become filled with the promises of Jesus.
“The LORD is the portion of mine inheritance and of my cup: Thou maintainest my lot.
The lines are fallen unto me in pleasant places; yea, I have a goodly heritage.
I will bless the LORD, who hath given me counsel: my reins also instruct me in the night seasons.
I have set the LORD always before me: because He is at my right hand, I shall not be moved.
Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoiceth: my flesh also shall rest in hope.
For Thou wilt not leave my soul in hell; neither wilt Thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption.
Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in Thy presence is fulness of joy; at Thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.” (Ps. 16:5-11).


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