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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, May 12, 2017

Now I know I am loved

“And ye have forgotten the exhortation which speaketh unto you as unto children…” (Heb. 12:5). “My son, despise not the chastening of the LORD; neither be weary of His correction: for whom the LORD loveth He correcteth; even as a father the son in whom he delighteth.” (Prov. 3:11,12).

It isn’t until we have been chastened and corrected that we know God loves us individually. Being chastened is much different than reading a Bible verse that makes promises to the whole world. I used to read promises of God’s forgiveness, and found them unsatisfying. For instance: “I, even I, am He that blotteth out thy transgressions for Mine own sake, and will not remember thy sins.” (Isa. 43:25). A beautiful verse, and a beautiful promise from Jesus. But, no matter how much I tried to gain some solace for my aching heart, I got no comfort from the Comforter. I couldn’t believe. I couldn’t believe Him. I couldn’t believe it (the promise). Therefore it gave me no life, as Paul promised it would. Neither did it give me the Spirit, as Paul also promised. And it certainly didn’t give me eternal life (i.e. conversion and reconciliation with God, unending peace and happiness from above, abundant life, etc.). So, I muddled along, a flunky in spiritual things and a miserable wretch.

Eventually, I abandoned the Unknown God and went my merry way, an emotional wreck and a socially challenged recluse. Instead of eternal life I had eternal anxiety, a living death. I didn’t want anxiety but I lived in it.

Eventually, the troubles of life mounted. Finally, the mountain of trouble got so big and harassing that I needed to try Jesus again. Somehow a clue came to me that Jesus would be my friend, since no one else would be. After years of being heart sick, my first prayer was answered. But, my prayer was not to Jesus, but to a friend named Mark. I asked him, “Mark, Do you think the Lord will ever take us back again?” His answer was, “Probably.” That was my answer from above, and it was good enough to encourage me. And even though it came from human lips, Jesus honored it.

Soon enough my problems crescendoed, and I dropped to my knees and prayed like I never could under the stress of lesser troubles. “Lord, help me! Change me!” And He immediately did just as I pled to Him. A strange tingly sensation affected the top of my head and moved down my body to the floor. I didn’t spend any time analyzing the strange sensation, or thinking anything more of it. All I knew was I was heard and my heart was changed. No more doubts that Jesus wasn’t my friend! I was loved again! That was all I wanted—to be accepted, to be taken back. My first desire was to have a Bible. Immediately I plunged into it and drank every word that proceeded from the mouth of Jesus, from Genesis 1:1 to Revelation 22:22 (which in my Bible was “The End”). Anything that had to do with Jesus I was all for: Sabbath School, Sermons, prayer meetings, Bible study first thing of every morning, fellowship with other Christians of all denominational flavors, talking to non-believers to encourage them to have faith, passing out literature, ad infinitum… I hated what I used to love, and vice versa. The Sabbath was a delight, and the holy of the Lord was honorable. I had victories that everyone around me envied.

What made the difference between me, the flunky, and them, the masters of life? The difference was that I had surrendered my whole heart to Jesus and they hadn’t. They didn’t know how to, neither did most of them want to know. So, they spent their existence in a constant battle to get to the minimum standard of Christianity. They had no real life, no real joy, no spiritual discernment, no love of the Bible, really no reason to be a Christian. They had no testimony, no witness to the goodness of God, no love of the Sabbath. They couldn’t call themselves a Christian. To them the Sabbath was to be in the church by 9:30 a.m. and out the door by 12, never to be seen or heard from again until the next week at 9:30. I often thought, What’s the reason to come to church, if that is all the Sabbath is about?

I had surrendered to Jesus and He had anointed me with a new heart and new mind and new character. I had what I had wanted in my early adult life, but had never come to me. All I knew was religious existence, moral existence, faking the Christian life but earnestly desiring to have the real thing. And what made the difference between my earnest desire then and my earnest desire this time? The big difference was the extra heaping of troubles and no end of it in sight. It was years without hope to be loved, and only a hopeless future. No more joy, but only misery cursing my life. No light at the end of a long, dark tunnel.

Looking back on my life after reading a lot in the word of God, I see an exact replica of my experience with what Jesus gave to Israel. The only thing that could fix their rebellion and hopeless disconnect from their God, the only true God, was trouble, abundant trouble, overwhelming trouble.

“I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evilH7451: I the LORD do all these things.” (Isa. 45:7). H7451 doesn’t mean Jesus would do anything evil, as in wickedness. Jesus would never create wickedness. According to the Strong’s Concordance, H7451 means: “adversity”, affliction”, “calamity”, “distress”, “harm”, “hurt”, “ill”, “mischief”, “misery”, “noisome [pestilence]”, “sore”, “sorrow”, “trouble”, “vex”, “worse”, “wretchedness”. This does sound like what the Lord brought upon Israel time and time again. But, that is the only way He could get through to their blindness and stubborn rebellion. And it was the only way to keep the Israelites back from sacrificing their babies to Moloch (Satan).

Like a lion, their God would tear them to pieces for their idolatrous sins. But, after His tearing and scattering, the Israelites had a new respect for their Father in the heavens.

“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.” (Hos. 6:1).

There are people I know who are wrestling under the very same emotional quagmire that tormented me, and I tell them that they need to fall on the Stone and break like I had to. But, they won’t earnestly seek the Lord for that panacea of life. If they would seek out the stumbling and seek out the Stone who can cause us to fall and be broken, He would bring them to their resting place.

Surrender, stumbling and being broken, is the one true boon to life. It is the straight gate that most do not ever find (see Matthew 7:14). It requires patient endurance with the Lord. Their minds and hearts are closed to the work that He so desires to do to them. Our hearts take time to soften for His entrance; His peace can take time to give us. What He did for me He wants to do to everyone. I’m not special; and He does not play favoritism. There is no respect of persons with the King. We all so desperately need to surrender first to the condemnation and curse of God; and then we can surrender to the self-sacrifice of the Son of God. But, surrender starts with the strong sounding Schoolmaster, God the great Judge.

But, who will let Him correct them? Who will say in desperate honesty, “God, I am wrong and You are right.” Who will let Him punish them? Who will let Him use pain to bring us to need the Saviour? Who will surrender to the offense of both the Law and the cross, without which no man shall see the Lord? Who will endure the years of confusion about God’s promise to save? Who will endure decades of confusion? It took Moses 40 years. Jacob, probably the same. Abraham, probably the same, but at least 25 years. Because it can take so long for the sinner to surrender his heart and self-will, it behooves us to start the process at a young age. “I love them that love Me; and those that seek Me early shall find Me.” (Prov. 8:17).

Us sinners need all the offense we can get. And God stands by with His painful “chastisement of our peace” (Isa. 53:5), looking for the first signs of our relenting in the war against His will. When we begin looking heaven-ward, then He fine-tunes our dilemma in order to save us. And no sooner do we repent and confess our sinfulness and wretchedness than He musters more angels to bring us to Christ.

“Wherefore the Law was our Schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith.” (Gal. 3:24). “All that the Father giveth Me shall come to Me.” (John 6:37).  After all the evil we have suffered, once surrendered to the Law of God, we (led by our nursing angels) make a bee line to Jesus for new birth. They help us see His willingness to save and not to destroy. We comprehend the mercy of God in His provision of a Saviour for fallen man. We are primed and ready to give our whole heart to Jesus and His Father. We hear Jesus add, “…and him that cometh to Me I will in no wise cast out” (John 6:37), and that’s the last straw. Nothing can hold back our whole heart’s surrender and full trust in Him. Ahh! Lord Jesus, You love me, despite my wicked and irresponsible past. I want to serve You forever. I needed that life of pain and suffering. .Praise the Lord! Thank You for wisely bringing me all the calamity You did. It’s all behind me now. Peace is all I know. Oh, the bliss! Never spare me pain to keep me near You. What a blessing trouble from You is. What a mercy!

“The LORD is a man of war: the LORD is His name.” (Ex. 15:3). “And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and He that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He doth judge and make war.” (Rev. 19:11).

“He that despised Moses’ law died without mercy under two or three witnesses: of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith He was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace? For we know Him that hath said, Vengeance belongeth unto Me, I will recompense, saith the Lord. And again, The Lord shall judge His people. It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.” (Heb. 10:28-31).

“For 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? But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye [illegitimate], and not sons.” (Heb. 12:6-8).

“He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.” (John 3:36).

The wrath of God on the unbeliever is huge. We can never chastise ourselves enough or self-flagellate enough to lead ourselves to surrender. We need a God-size chastisement of peace. We need no light at the end of a long punishment. And He gives His chastisement to everyone, and for their eternal good. But they try to make the misery go away by drowning that chastisement in alcohol, drugs, or some other addiction and vice. And vices are not all socially unacceptable. The high and the low, the rich and the poor, the free and the bond, all have some version of Satan’s analgesic for their God-proffered torments. Even intertainment is and analgesic. Hobbies, curiosities, interests in this world, games, toys, creature comfort and ease, luxury foods, getaways, hideaways, stock market tuckaways, vacations, retirement, self-exaltation, self-indulgence, selfishness, self-righteousness. “For all nations have drunk of the wine of the wrath of her [Babylon, Satan’s bride] fornication, and the kings of the earth have committed fornication with her, and the merchants of the earth are waxed rich through the abundance of her delicacies.” (Rev. 18:3).

But, God will bring trouble and conviction in order to save us from them all.

“For thus saith the LORD; We have heard a voice of trembling, of fear, and not of peace. Ask ye now, and see whether a man doth travail with child? wherefore do I see every man with his hands on his loins, as a woman in travail, and all faces are turned into paleness?  Alas! for that day is great, so that none is like it: it is even the time of Jacob’s trouble; but he shall be saved out of it…. Therefore fear thou not, O my servant Jacob, saith the LORD; neither be dismayed, O Israel: for, lo, I will save thee from afar, and thy seed from the land of their captivity; and Jacob shall return, and shall be in rest, and be quiet, and none shall make him afraid.” (Jer. 30:5-7,10). We will be saved because of, through the Lord’s gift of trouble. Nothing else will give us faith in Him than for our jealous Father to cut us off from trusting in anything man has come up with for his spiritual band-aids for abundant soul cancer.

“For thus saith the LORD, Thy bruise is incurable, and thy wound is grievous.
There is none to plead thy cause, that thou mayest be bound up: thou hast no healing medicines.
All thy lovers have forgotten thee; they seek thee not; for I have wounded thee with the wound of an enemy, with the chastisement of a cruel one, for the multitude of thine iniquity; because thy sins were increased.
Why criest thou for thine affliction? thy sorrow is incurable for the multitude of thine iniquity: because thy sins were increased, I have done these things unto thee.
Behold, the whirlwind of the LORD goeth forth with fury, a continuing whirlwind: it shall fall with pain upon the head of the wicked.
The fierce anger of the LORD shall not return, until He have done it, and until He have performed the intents of His heart: in the latter days ye shall consider it.” (Jer. 30:12-15,23,24).

Yet, in His love, He keeps us encouraged by His words of hope. For all who hear His voice there is glory at the end of the dark tunnel, even if the glory is so far away that it is only a pinhole of light.

“For I will restore health unto thee, and I will heal thee of thy wounds, saith the LORD; because they called thee an Outcast, saying, This is Zion, whom no man seeketh after.
Thus saith the LORD; Behold, I will bring again the captivity of Jacob’s tents, and have mercy on his dwellingplaces; and the city shall be builded upon her own heap, and the palace shall remain after the manner thereof.
And out of them shall proceed thanksgiving and the voice of them that make merry: and I will multiply them, and they shall not be few; I will also glorify them, and they shall not be small.
Their children also shall be as aforetime, and their congregation shall be established before me, and I will punish all that oppress them.
And their nobles shall be of themselves, and their governor shall proceed from the midst of them; and I will cause him to draw near, and he shall approach unto me: for who is this that engaged his heart to approach unto Me? saith the LORD.
And ye shall be My people, and I will be your God.” (Jer. 30:17-22).

“Thus saith the LORD, The people which were left of the sword found grace in the wilderness; even Israel, when I went to cause him to rest.
The LORD hath appeared of old unto me, saying, Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee.
Again I will build thee, and thou shalt be built, O virgin of Israel: thou shalt again be adorned with thy tabrets, and shalt go forth in the dances of them that make merry.
Thou shalt yet plant vines upon the mountains of Samaria: the planters shall plant, and shall eat them as common things.
For there shall be a day, that the watchmen upon the mount Ephraim shall cry, Arise ye, and let us go up to Zion unto the LORD our God.
For thus saith the LORD; Sing with gladness for Jacob, and shout among the chief of the nations: publish ye, praise ye, and say, O LORD, save thy people, the remnant of Israel.
Behold, I will bring them from the north country, and gather them from the coasts of the earth, and with them the blind and the lame, the woman with child and her that travaileth with child together: a great company shall return thither.
They shall come with weeping, and with supplications will I lead them: I will cause them to walk by the rivers of waters in a straight way, wherein they shall not stumble: for I am a father to Israel, and Ephraim is My firstborn.
Hear the word of the LORD, O ye nations, and declare it in the isles afar off, and say, He that scattered Israel will gather him, and keep him, as a shepherd doth his flock….
And I will satiate the soul of the priests with fatness, and My people shall be satisfied with My goodness, saith the LORD.
Thus saith the LORD; A voice was heard in Ramah, lamentation, and bitter weeping; Rahel weeping for her children refused to be comforted for her children, because they were not.
Thus saith the LORD; Refrain thy voice from weeping, and thine eyes from tears: for thy work shall be rewarded, saith the LORD; and they shall come again from the land of the enemy.
And there is hope in thine end, saith the LORD, that thy children shall come again to their own border.
I have surely heard Ephraim bemoaning himself thus; Thou hast chastised me, and I was chastised, as a bullock unaccustomed to the yoke: turn Thou me, and I shall be turned; for Thou art the LORD my God.
Surely after that I was turned, I repented; and after that I was instructed, I smote upon my thigh: I was ashamed, yea, even confounded, because I did bear the reproach of my youth.
Is Ephraim My dear son? is he a pleasant child? for since I spake against him, I do earnestly remember him still: therefore My bowels are troubled for him; I will surely have mercy upon him, saith the LORD….
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….
And it shall come to pass, that like as I have watched over them, to pluck up, and to break down, and to throw down, and to destroy, and to afflict; so will I watch over them, to build, and to plant, saith the LORD.…
Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah:
Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; which My covenant they brake, although I was an husband unto them, saith the LORD:
But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the LORD, I will put My Law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be My people.
And they shall teach no more every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the LORD: for they shall all know Me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the LORD: for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.” (Jer. 31:2-10, 14-20, 25,26,28, 31-34).

But, the Lord’s wonderful dreams are over and it’s back into His troubles again! Down under the waves of depression, baptized in our life of sin! “All Thy waves and Thy billows are gone over me” (Ps. 42:7). His troubles upon us are not as horrendous as the national troubles brought on by a wholly sinful nation. But our troubles are all that we can bear.

“How is the gold become dim! how is the most fine gold changed! the stones of the sanctuary are poured out in the top of every street.
The precious sons of Zion, comparable to fine gold, how are they esteemed as earthen pitchers, the work of the hands of the potter!
Even the sea monsters draw out the breast, they give suck to their young ones: the daughter of my people is become cruel, like the ostriches in the wilderness.
The tongue of the sucking child cleaveth to the roof of his mouth for thirst: the young children ask bread, and no man breaketh it unto them.
They that did feed delicately are desolate in the streets: they that were brought up in scarlet embrace dunghills.
For the punishment of the iniquity of the daughter of my people is greater than the punishment of the sin of Sodom, that was overthrown as in a moment, and no hands stayed on her.
Her Nazarites were purer than snow, they were whiter than milk, they were more ruddy in body than rubies, their polishing was of sapphire:
Their visage is blacker than a coal; they are not known in the streets: their skin cleaveth to their bones; it is withered, it is become like a stick.
They that be slain with the sword are better than they that be slain with hunger: for these pine away, stricken through for want of the fruits of the field.
The hands of the pitiful women have sodden their own children: they were their meat in the destruction of the daughter of my people.
The LORD hath accomplished His fury; He hath poured out His fierce anger, and hath kindled a fire in Zion, and it hath devoured the foundations thereof.
The kings of the earth, and all the inhabitants of the world, would not have believed that the adversary and the enemy should have entered into the gates of Jerusalem.
For the sins of her prophets, and the iniquities of her priests, that have shed the blood of the just in the midst of her,
They have wandered as blind men in the streets, they have polluted themselves with blood, so that men could not touch their garments.
They cried unto them, Depart ye; it is unclean; depart, depart, touch not: when they fled away and wandered, they said among the heathen, They shall no more sojourn there.
The anger of the LORD hath divided them; He will no more regard them: they respected not the persons of the priests, they favoured not the elders.
As for us, our eyes as yet failed for our vain help: in our watching we have watched for a nation that could not save us.
They hunt our steps, that we cannot go in our streets: our end is near, our days are fulfilled; for our end is come.
Our persecutors are swifter than the eagles of the heaven: they pursued us upon the mountains, they laid wait for us in the wilderness.
The breath of our nostrils, the anointed of the LORD, was taken in their pits, of whom we said, Under His shadow we shall live among the heathen.
Rejoice and be glad, O daughter of Edom, that dwellest in the land of Uz; the cup also shall pass through unto thee: thou shalt be drunken, and shalt make thyself naked.
The punishment of thine iniquity is accomplished, O daughter of Zion; he will no more carry thee away into captivity: he will visit thine iniquity, O daughter of Edom; he will discover thy sins.” (Lamentations 4).

But, soon enough we are washed of our self-dependence and our need-of-nothing, self-sufficient, secret braggadocio. The after-shocks are trying, but with a new and patient friend in Jesus, who is our shield from the worst of our God-permitted wrath of Satan, all the after-shocks are doable.

“We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed; always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body.” (2Cor. 4:8-10).

“For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.” (2Cor. 4:17,18).

“And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; and patience, experience; and experience, hope: and hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.” (Rom. 5:3-5).

“This shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the LORD, I will put My law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be My people.” (Jer. 31:33).

“Here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus.” (Rev. 14:12).

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