“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.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Ongoing analysis of the beautiful film, “Johnny Lingo”

Moki―“He (Johnny Lingo) will get a bargain! He wants a woman to mend his roof, to fix his supper, and doesn’t want to pay more than a three-legged cow for her!”
Moki judges Johnny to have the exact character traits of himself. Moki grumbles and drives Mahana to mend Moki’s roof and milk his cow, and he projects that onto Johnny.
And Mahana believes her father as she overhears his assessment of Johnny. When she thinks of Johnny’s price of a three-legged cow and its reflection on her, she sinks lower in self-worth. Depression settles in while she can’t avoid her father’s constant berating. “You don’t know what it means to have a homely daughter, Mahi.”

Johnny― “It will be remembered that Johnny Lingo paid eight cows for Mahana.”
Johnny’s mindset and way of thinking is far from Mr. Harris’. Mr. Harris thinks Johnny is being vain, only thinking of himself and how he will look to his friends. He even gives Johnny a slight rebuke for it. But, Mr. Harris has completely misjudged Johnny and his motives, believing that Johnny only wants to be seen as a great and powerful man. However, Johnny is thinking of Mahana and how she will appear in the eyes of every other woman on the island. Johnny is building Mahana into a queen; but Mr. Harris thinks Johnny is building himself into a king.
Has Jesus made great claims of Himself? I am the bread of life…I am the light of the world… I am the good shepherd…. “Say ye of Him, whom the Father hath sanctified, and sent into the world, Thou blasphemest; because I said, I am the Son of God?” (John 10:36). Are we put off by what sounds like self-exaltation? In reality His high claims were not for glorifying Himself, but for strengthening our ability to put our trust in Him.

Mahana―“Did you hear them? They laughed. They mocked me.” “He mocked me. You will see. He will not come.” Mahana is not without flaws. She is self-centered and self-pitying, even combative. Those evil traits need to be, and will be, driven from her under the warmth of Johnny’s constant, strong love for her. She has been harassed by her father and everyone else on the island because she partly deserved it. But, she is also open to be loved; and that is her salvation. More than any of the other girls on the island, none more than Mahana had been especially sensitive to love, and also to the lack of receiving it. In all the confusion from inter-personal conflicts arising from Mahana’s and the island people’s character failings, Johnny sees a clear direction for the solution. He has the correct big picture because his heart is filled with love of life, love for others, and especially love for Mahana. He can overlook her flaws because he is confident in his ardor for her and confident that the little, loving girl from the past is still alive in the woman of the present.

This is the exact condition of the church and Jesus’ gentle treatment for our sinful, debilitating self-centeredness.

Johnny Lingo can be fun and joyful, but he can also be serious. In all that he did, it was for the glory of God and the salvation of Mahana. He wouldn’t have been able to convince Mahana to join him in marriage if he had been laughing when he consummated his invitation by extending his hand to her. He was as serious then as the day he bargained eight cows for her. If Johnny had not been serious after delivering the cows, Mahana would have thought he was mocking her ugliness and foolishness, just like everyone else. She would have run from him.

Even at the wedding reception she truly can’t believe that Johnny thinks she is beautiful. She turns away when he puts a flower in her hair. Not an iota of humor escapes Johnny’s communications with her. She is fragile and he treats her with great care.

Cruel boys come up from behind Johnny and Mahana.
“Johnny Lingo had a cow, traded for an ugly wife.
Johnny Lingo married now, he’ll be sorry all his life.”
They sing their jingle and run away while Johnny angrily puts the fear of God in them. But, the damage is done. Mahana is double confirmed in the reality of her unacceptable ugliness in the eyes of the people, which she has lived with all her life.

Johnny―“Don’t cry Mahana.
Mahana―“It’s true! (I am an ugly wife!)”

But Mahana trusts in her husband. No one else treats her tenderly. So must Christs church trust her Lord that she is the dearly beloved of His soul, when the world hates her and says all manner of evil against her falsely.

When Mr. Harris arrives to congratulate the newlyweds, he first sees Moki, who reminds Mr. Harris that he is a rich man. Now that he can have a taste of the good life, he is glad to have Mahana for a daughter. When he directs Mr. Harris to the wedding party, behind him in the dark, he refers to his daughter—for the first and last time—as “my Mahana”. But that title, “my Mahana”, Johnny uses many times until she is confirmed in his love for her. 

Satan has hated and berated the church, but Jesus keeps sending us His message of His loving-kindness and tender mercies. He calls us “the desire of [Mine] eyes” (Eze. 24:16), and “the dearly beloved of My soul” (Jer. 12:7).

Mr. Harris—“How do you like that, Tulo?” [He refers to Johnny’s expensive mirror.]
Tulo—“It’s beautiful. Mahana’s face will crack the glass!”
Tulo’s constant degrading and heckling Mahana and his instigating others in the same creates a character that sits counter to the noble actions and words and love of Johnny. There needs to be a character who works and speaks oppositely from Johnny’s ways and words. This accents the goodness and love of the main character (Johnny Lingo). The same has happened in the great controversy between Christ and Satan. God has allowed the continued harassment of Satan, the accuser of the brethren, so that we can see more vividly the love of Jesus our Comforter, our Shield and our everlasting Reward.

As the new Mahana carries out Johnny’s request for water, she is happy as long as she keeps her eyes and mind on Johnny. She is happy because she is owned by someone who only loves her and she has come to know that he will always treat her with dignity. The souls who make up the church will find the same staying power in the love that Jesus has for them. They can forget the depressing, harsh looks and words of the world when they see and hear the words of Jesus their Lord. “Nothing of the world can make them sad when Jesus makes them glad by His presence.” Desire of Ages, p. 331.

Their sights are on Jesus, who has proven Himself to be faithful. No more dependence on the world and its desolating assessments of them. Jesus will speak the truth and correct the dearly beloved members of His church, but He will never correct them carelessly, as the world does. He is the truth; but He is also the grace. This is because He is full of grace and truth. It is because He comes with the holiness of the God of love.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

The voice of God

“And they said unto Moses, Speak thou with us, and we will hear: but let not God speak with us, lest we die.” (Ex. 20:19).

This was a famous turning point in the history of Israel. It was a time of great honesty, but also of great rejection of the Spirit of truth. Here is the context. (Please forgive me for the long quotations. It is prose and story, so they are quick reads.)

“In the third month, when the children of Israel were gone forth out of the land of Egypt, the same day came they into the wilderness of Sinai.
For they were departed from Rephidim, and were come to the desert of Sinai, and had pitched in the wilderness; and there Israel camped before the mount.
And Moses went up unto God, and the LORD called unto Him out of the mountain, saying, Thus shalt thou say to the house of Jacob, and tell the children of Israel;
Ye have seen what I did unto the Egyptians, and how I bare you on eagles’ wings, and brought you unto Myself.
Now therefore, if ye will obey My voice indeed, and keep My covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto Me above all people: for all the earth is Mine:
And ye shall be unto Me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation. These are the words which thou shalt speak unto the children of Israel.
And Moses came and called for the elders of the people, and laid before their faces all these words which the LORD commanded him.
And all the people answered together, and said, All that the LORD hath spoken we will do. And Moses returned the words of the people unto the LORD.” (Ex. 19:1-8).

Did they really know what they were agreeing to? Did they read the fine print before signing their name on the dotted line? Did they really know their weaknesses? Did each know his true personal resources, and lack thereof? In forty days they would find out (i.e. Exodus 32).

“And the LORD said unto Moses, Lo, I come unto thee in a thick cloud, that the people may hear when I speak with thee, and believe thee for ever. And Moses told the words of the people unto the LORD.
And the LORD said unto Moses, Go unto the people, and sanctify them to day and to morrow, and let them wash their clothes,
And be ready against the third day: for the third day the LORD will come down in the sight of all the people upon Mount Sinai.
And thou shalt set bounds unto the people round about, saying, Take heed to yourselves, that ye go not up into the mount, or touch the border of it: whosoever toucheth the mount shall be surely put to death:
There shall not an hand touch it, but he shall surely be stoned, or shot through; whether it be beast or man, it shall not live: when the trumpet soundeth long, they shall come up to the mount.
And Moses went down from the mount unto the people, and sanctified the people; and they washed their clothes.
And he said unto the people, Be ready against the third day: come not at your wives.” (Ex. 19:9-15).

In three days the children of Israel would meet the God with whom they had made a perpetual agreement. He and His terms would not be what they had ever conceptualized. His voice would send a message they never thought God should ever use with His privileged people. They saw a God who meant what He said and said what He meant. He was serious to the nth degree about their fidelity to Him and their total renunciation of everything pagan.

“And it came to pass on the third day in the morning, that there were thunders and lightnings, and a thick cloud upon the mount, and the voice of the trumpet exceeding loud; so that all the people that was in the camp trembled. And Moses brought forth the people out of the camp to meet with God; and they stood at the nether part of the mount. And Mount Sinai was altogether on a smoke, because the LORD descended upon it in fire: and the smoke thereof ascended as the smoke of a furnace, and the whole mount quaked greatly. And … the voice of the trumpet sounded long, and waxed louder and louder....” (Ex. 19:16-19).

“And when the voice of the trumpet sounded long, and waxed louder and louder, Moses spake, and God answered him by a voice.
And the LORD came down upon mount Sinai, on the top of the mount: and the LORD called Moses up to the top of the mount; and Moses went up.
And the LORD said unto Moses, Go down, charge the people, lest they break through unto the LORD to gaze, and many of them perish.
And let the priests also, which come near to the LORD, sanctify themselves, lest the LORD break forth upon them.
And Moses said unto the LORD, The people cannot come up to mount Sinai: for Thou chargedst us, saying, Set bounds about the mount, and sanctify it.
And the LORD said unto him, Away, get thee down, and thou shalt come up, thou, and Aaron with thee: but let not the priests and the people break through to come up unto the LORD, lest He break forth upon them.
So Moses went down unto the people, and spake unto them.
And God spake all these words, saying,
I am the LORD thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.
Thou shalt have no other gods before Me.” (Ex. 19:19-20:3).

And the rest is history. The Ten Commandments issued from the mouth of Jesus, the Commander of heaven, “who is over all, God blessed for ever” (Rom. 9:5):











In between each commandment was a long pause so that His words could roll through the earth and roll around in their heads. And when the Lord finished the ten aspects of the base line of His covenant with them, their heads were spinning with the words that were still rolling around in them. Who is this that we’ve covenanted with? This isn’t the person we thought we were marrying! Uh oh!!! What have we done???!!! It was like Jacob waking up with a very pleased Leah, cuddled up next to him. This wasn’t the beautiful idolater Jacob had loved. This was her sister who had he loathed and constantly ignored. But, it was too late for the Israelites to undo the consummation. With the children of Jacob at the base of Sinai, they had just committed themselves to One with “no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see Him, there is no beauty that we should desire Him.” (Isa. 53:2), who had been “despised and rejected and we hid as it were our faces from Him; He was despised, and we esteemed Him not.” (Isa. 53:3). Yet their loathing of God—and our loathing of Him—left Him “a [God] of sorrows, and acquainted with grief” (Isa. 53:3).

“And all the people saw the thunderings, and the lightnings, and the noise of the trumpet, and the mountain smoking: and when the people saw it, they removed, and stood afar off. And they said unto Moses, Speak thou with us, and we will hear: but let not God speak with us, lest we die. And Moses said unto the people, Fear not: for God is come to prove you, and that His fear may be before your faces, that ye sin not. And the people stood afar off, and Moses drew near unto the thick darkness where God was.” (Ex. 20:18-21).
The people didn’t want to die. Wasn’t this reasonable? Not at all.

“Withhold not correction from the child: for if thou beatest him with the rod, thou shalt beat him with the rod, and shalt deliver his soul from hell.” (Prov. 23:13,14). “He shall not die” but he will think he’ll die. The loving parent would never kill his child, but in love he will need to bring his child to believe that life is over. The child will need to see the utter hatred of the disobedience that his child involved himself with, but, all the while the parent must look for signs of sorrow and fear of rejection from his parent. And the death of self in the parent’s child will also create death in the loving parent.

The Israelites thought they were going to die, and that is exactly the response the Lord wanted them to have. “God is come to prove you, and that His fear may be before your faces” (vs. 20). The death of self was for their own good, “that ye sin not” (Ibid.). Without the loud voice forever rolling around in their heads they would eventually apostatize into Satan worship; and the God of love would have to destroy them.

“Behold, all souls are Mine; as the soul of the father, so also the soul of the son is Mine: the soul that sinneth, it shall die…. For I have no pleasure in the death of him that dieth, saith the Lord GOD: wherefore turn yourselves, and live ye.” (Eze. 18:4,32). “Eze 33:11  Say unto them, As I live, saith the Lord GOD, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live: turn ye, turn ye from your evil ways; for why will ye die, O house of Israel?
” (). The Lord meant business. He was dead serious.

Moses had had to learn the truth about God. He had launched his own revival for his nation that was captive in Egypt. For 40 years he had to live with the memory that God was not with him, as he thought He was. During his whole stay in the wilderness the prince of Egypt was constantly reminded of his huge failure and of His God’s disappearance when he thought God would support his plan to deliver his people with their help. Moses lived in humiliation and shame and guilt, in self-reproach by his misrepresentation of the great God who he wanted to please, and in the reality that he was not a great leader, after all. After forty years Moses saw himself as nothing, a nobody, a worm. He had to bear the thought of multitudes who remembered his foolishness. Constantly plagued by embarrassment, he could not hope in God. Moses, “standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner.” (Luke 18:13). During forty years of regret he remembered what his mother had taught him about Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, about Joseph and Judah and his father Levi, and of the Lord’s cooperation with their efforts.

“Our fathers trusted in Thee: they trusted, and Thou didst deliver them.
They cried unto Thee, and were delivered: they trusted in Thee, and were not confounded.
But I am a worm, and no man; a reproach of men, and despised of the people.
All they that see me laugh me to scorn: they shoot out the lip, they shake the head….” (Ps. 22:4-7). “Poor vain fool! What was he thinking?! Ha! Some people’s children!! What an idiot!” “He trusted on the LORD that He would deliver him: let Him deliver him, seeing He delighted in him.” (Ps. 22:8).

Hounded by his egregious error, over and over again Moses remembered the scene and the words, “Behold, two men of the Hebrews strove together: and he said to him that did the wrong, Wherefore smitest thou thy fellow? And he said, Who made thee a prince and a judge over us? intendest thou to kill me, as thou killedst the Egyptian?” (Ex. 2:13,14). Forty years of repenting finally boiled away all his pride. Now God could use Moses to lead a nation of proud, self-exalted, self-willed, self-indulgent people to pass through the same, harsh training, this time for all their pride to be boiled away, and to receive the heart and spirit that was blessing Moses. The Lord is a Man of war, for His children’s sake.

“Wisdom hath builded her house, she hath hewn out her seven pillars.…
Reprove not a scorner, lest he hate thee: rebuke a wise man, and he will love thee.
Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be yet wiser: teach a just man, and he will increase in learning.
The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the Holy is understanding.
For by Me thy days shall be multiplied, and the years of thy life shall be increased” (Prov. 9:1,8-11).

What makes a wise man? Humility. He can be rebuked. He can be corrected without immediately throwing up a wall of self-preservation, a wall of scorn upon the truth and upon bearer of the correction. He will not be able to deny the truth about his weaknesses. He will bear up under the death of self. It might take years and even decades, but he will bend his will to fixing his personal lack of character. He will learn and be wiser. He is “a just man” (vs. 9); he has repented of his huge incongruity toward the way that life demands him to be. And the God of mercy always rewards the penitent soul with forgiveness and justification and the Spirit.

“God hath sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father.” (Gal. 4:6). And “But of Him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom…. That, according as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord.” (1Cor. 1:30,31). This was the experience of Moses, “Moses the servant of God” (Rev. 15:3). It was a battle of wills between his heavenly Parent’s will and Moses’. Moses conceded to Almighty God; and in the end, Moses was a very wise man.  But, what made him wise? The fruit of the Spirit of Christ in Moses’ character, the hope of glory.  “Love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts.” (Gal. 5:22-24). “Now the man Moses was very meek, above all the men which were upon the face of the earth.” (Num. 12:3). “Moreover the man Moses was very great … in the sight of the people.” (Ex. 11:3).

But, would the whole nation successfully endure the death to self that Moses had suffered during forty long years of repenting?

“These words the LORD spake unto all your assembly in the mount out of the midst of the fire, of the cloud, and of the thick darkness, with a great voice: and He added no more. And He wrote them in two tables of stone, and delivered them unto me.
And it came to pass, when ye heard the voice out of the midst of the darkness, (for the mountain did burn with fire,) that ye came near unto me, even all the heads of your tribes, and your elders;
And ye said, Behold, the LORD our God hath shewed us His glory and His greatness, and we have heard His voice out of the midst of the fire: we have seen this day that God doth talk with man, and he liveth.
Now therefore why should we die? For this great fire will consume us: if we hear the voice of the LORD our God any more, then we shall die.
For who is there of all flesh, that hath heard the voice of the living God speaking out of the midst of the fire, as we have, and lived?
Go thou near, and hear all that the LORD our God shall say: and speak thou unto us all that the LORD our God shall speak unto thee; and we will hear it, and do it.” (Deut. 5:22-27).

Did they listen to Moses? No. They would not. They said they would listen if someone spoke to them in less than the death booms of God’s voice. But, they detracted from that agreement constantly for the next 40 years.

“And the LORD heard the voice of your words, when ye spake unto me; and the LORD said unto me, I have heard the voice of the words of this people, which they have spoken unto thee: they have well said all that they have spoken.
O that there were such an heart in them, that they would fear Me, and keep all My commandments always, that it might be well with them, and with their children for ever!
Go say to them, Get you into your tents again.
But as for thee, stand thou here by Me, and I will speak unto thee all the commandments, and the statutes, and the judgments, which thou shalt teach them, that they may do them in the land which I give them to possess it.
Ye shall observe to do therefore as the LORD your God hath commanded you: ye shall not turn aside to the right hand or to the left.
Ye shall walk in all the ways which the LORD your God hath commanded you, that ye may live, and that it may be well with you, and that ye may prolong your days in the land which ye shall possess.” (Deut. 5:28-33).

Yet, though the nation rejected the fearful thunders in their consciences, the Lord would provide another voice to their untrained hearts and proud souls. He would give them a sanctuary system by which through visible objects and actions, they might gain the faculty of spiritual sight and hearing, and receive the susceptibility to holy things that the Lord needed them to have if they would remain His privileged people.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Piece work or “a piece of work”

The Wikipedia definition of piece work

“Piece work (or piecework) is any type of employment in which a worker is paid a fixed piece rate for each unit produced or action performed regardless of time….

When paying a worker, employers can use various methods and combinations of tactics. Some of the most prevalent methods are:
1) paid a wage by the hour (known as ‘time work’);
2) paid an annual salary;
3) salary plus commission (common in sales jobs);
4) base salary or hourly wages plus gratuities (common in service industries);
5) salary plus a possible bonus (used for some managerial or executive positions);
6) salary plus stock options (used for some executives and in start-ups and some high tech firms);
7) salary pool systems; gainsharing (also known as ‘profit sharing’);
8) paid by the piece – the number of things they make, or tasks they complete (known as ‘output work’).

Some internet definitions of the phrase, “a piece of work”:

“(Idiomatic, often derogatory) A person who has a strong and unusual personality, especially one with seriously unpleasant character flaws (e.g. a nasty piece of work). 

A complicated, difficult, or eccentric person.

Someone who -- although often interesting -- is difficult to get along with on an every day basis. They often make simple things overly complex, or argue points ad infinitum. 

Someone who is unusually unpleasant or behaves unusually badly. Someone who is cruel and unkind.

We all are the work of Christ’s hands.

“Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings hast Thou ordained strength because of Thine enemies, that Thou mightest still the enemy and the avenger.
When I consider Thy heavens, the work of Thy fingers, the moon and the stars, which Thou hast ordained;
What is man, that Thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that Thou visitest him?
For Thou hast made him a little lower than the angels, and hast crowned him with glory and honour.” (Ps. 8:2-5).

“But now, O LORD, Thou art our Father; we are the clay, and Thou our Potter; and we all are the work of Thy hand.” (Isa. 64:8).

“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. 9:20,21).

Most hands-on, production-type workers prefer piecework. Usually the other option is work by the hour, or hourly wages. Hourly wages usually amount to the worker barely being able to pay his bills. But, piecework is the best way to make money for the quick-thinking, self-starter, smart worker. The fast-paced, engaged worker can build, assemble, accomplish good quality products quickly, and thus make more money than an hourly wage because his/her pay is based on how much he/she produces. But, for the slow and lazy, half-hearted worker hourly pay is preferred because it is dependable, consistent, and has much less pressure with regard to the work.

Can God sanctify us quickly? Can He easily mold us like clay? Can He efficiently build Himself a church? Yes, He can. He has done it in the past.

“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…. And what is the exceeding greatness of His power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of His mighty power.” (Eph. 1:11,19).

“For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them….
Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God;
And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief corner stone;
In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord:
In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit.” (Eph. 2:10-22).

“For He will finish the work, and cut it short in righteousness: because a short work will the Lord make upon the earth.” (Rom. 9:28).

Can He do miracles in our work of sanctification today? If not, why not? Must He take a lifetime to give us victory of one sin? Is the real question, How willing or unwilling are we? Are we piecework, or “a piece of work”?

Working with wood or stone or electronics or some aspect of building construction is similar but not exactly the same as the Lord’s work with hearts for their salvation. The earthly items make a good object lesson for spiritual things, yet they come far short of comparing perfectly with the greater, higher work of Christ for saving our soul. His work involves objects that have a mind of their own--us. We have a will of our own, and we must give permission for His work to continue in us. Even building robots doesn’t run into the kinds of problems that come with working with the human being because of our God-given freedom to choose. And, God has always limited His work to our choice of whether to cooperate or oppose His work in us and for us. God made us especially in His image, and He will never abrogate our freedom of choice. All of his work in us and for us has always been predicated on our willingness to cooperate with Him. Satan strives to work outside of our choice through his temptations and delusion; but God forces him to stay within the bounds of the law of our choice. We are all left free to choose for or against God’s work in our eternal interest.

“In the work of redemption there is no compulsion. No external force is employed. Under the influence of the Spirit of God, man is left free to choose whom he will serve.” Desire of Ages, p. 466.

But, how quickly do we let God work in us? Are we piecework? Do we cherish His chipping away our undesirable characteristics? He will never rip our idols from our hearts. Do we relish His work of perfecting us? Do we love to suffer for His sake because we anticipate that we will reap the mighty rewards of surrender to His will, of a union with God, and the indomitable peace that comes from that union.

“Forasmuch then as Christ hath suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves likewise with the same mind: for he that hath suffered in the flesh hath ceased from sin.” (1Pet. 4:1).

Are we arming ourselves with the precious promises that make us accessible to Christ’s powerful character? Or, do we arm ourselves with the things of this world that keep us under the control of our fallen human nature?

“According as His divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him that hath called us to glory and virtue: 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.” (2Pet. 1:3,4).

Are we willing piecework in the hands of the Spirit of Christ or are we a resistant piece of work? Are we easily fashioned in hands of Jesus, or are we hard to get along with? Do we love His carving away our flesh and worldliness; and are we grateful to be rid of that awful, dead part of our character? Do we thank Him for His sanctifying work or do we complain? Is our profession of godliness only for pleasing people, or the Father? How firmly are we rooted in the self-sacrificing life of Christ?

Does our Christian experience waver back and forth, obedient and then disobedient, victorious and then backsliding? Are we lackadaisical, ho-hum, half-hearted in response to Him who gave up all for our salvation?

“Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:
Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God:
But made Himself of no reputation, and took upon Him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men:
And being found in fashion as a man, He humbled Himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.” (Phil. 2:5-8).

What is the reward for total surrender to the self-sacrificing Spirit of the Son?

“In the change that takes place when the soul surrenders to Christ, there is the highest sense of freedom. The expulsion of sin is the act of the soul itself. True, we have no power to free ourselves from Satan’s control; but when we desire to be set free from sin, and in our great need cry out for a power out of and above ourselves, the powers of the soul are imbued with the divine energy of the Holy Spirit, and they obey the dictates of the will in fulfilling the will of God.” Desire of Ages, p. 466.

Does freedom sound good? Freedom to do God’s will? Freely expressed righteousness does sound good because so often we feel pressured and stressed to do God’s will. But, when it is Christ’s righteousness, constrained by love for His wonderful love toward us all, then our hearts melt and righteousness flows from us freely. Yet, that freedom didn’t come free. There was a cost; but, every effort of ours was duly rewarded. Only they will receive the freedom that God promises who actually take up the offer of God and trust His word that their rewards will greatly out-weigh their personal investment.

“And He said unto me, It is done. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give unto him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely. He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God and he shall be My son.” (Rev. 21:6,7).

Freedom of spirit means no more captivity to self. 

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He hath anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor; He hath sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, to preach the acceptable year of the Lord.” (Luke 4:18,19).

Are we enslaved to a vice? Do we fear our lost power of choice when it comes to that vice?

“Jesus answered them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin. And the servant abideth not in the house for ever: but the Son abideth ever. If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.” (John 8:34-36).

Isn’t it so much better to serve a good Master than a dogmatic tyrant? Christ promises, “My yoke is easy, and My burden is light.” (Matt. 11:30). Jesus’ new lifestyle is easy because love makes everything easy and every burden light. He promises rest from the forced demands brought upon us by sin and self-indulgence. But, to have His rest we need to yoke up with Him. He will give us eyesalve to find Him revealed all around us everywhere. We will see the precious Son of God in every precious heifer and bullock, in every precious lamb and kid goat, in every precious baby squirrel and sparrow and fawn, every precious young one of the animal kingdom and every precious toddler of our human race. All the little babes and sucklings in the world testify of the precious meek and lowly One sent from God. We need to learn that He is meek and lowly, and then trust His invitation to our hearts, which He has promised in all meekness and lowliness.

“Come unto Me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you, and learn of Me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.” (Matt. 11:28,29).

“Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings Thou hast perfected praise” (Matt. 21:16).

We will see the young One sent from heaven to carry an infinitely weighty mission to win our hearts back to God by His youthful love and need for attachment. We will see the beauty of the precious Babe torn from the bosom of God. We will see Him who displayed the eternal joy and purity during His life here, joyfully living under the constant love of His Father. We will see that the precious Son truly “is altogether lovely” (Song 5:16). Can our hearts say of Jesus that “this is my beloved, and this is my friend” (Song 5:16)? Can our hearts believe that He would say the same about us? There is infinite, unending life in the Son’s abundant, irrepressible love.

“This is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life. These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God.” (1Jn. 5:11-13).

Will we keep looking unto this Jesus, the Author and Finisher of our redemption? Will we leave off the half-hearted, indolent seeking for the Saviour from sin, and search for Him with all our heart?

Will we be like Paul and the apostles who were easily worked by the mighty Cleaver of truth, letting the great Physician do His wonderful work of anesthetizing their diseased characters by His beauty and grace, and then quietly cutting away their spiritual cancers and tumors?

Or, will we be seriously unpleasant with the Spirit of the Lord? Will we be complicated and difficult? Will we be difficult to get along with God on an every day basis. Will we allow the devil to make simple, divine things overly complex, or will we argue our self-preserving opinions before God ad infinitum. Will we be rebellious and test God’s patience to the limit? Will we “frustrate the grace of God” (Gal. 2:21), or will we do “despite unto the Spirit of grace?” (Heb. 10:29). Will we grumble and complain like the children of Israel did in the wilderness?

Will we be piecework, pleasant and quick to respond to our lessons, for the happiness of our Creator? Or, will we be a rebellious piece of work remaining under the control of the destroyer?

Saturday, July 08, 2017

The Voice

“In the beginning was the WordG3056, and the WordG3056 was with God, and the WordG3056 was God.
The same was in the beginning with God.
All things were made by Him; and without Him was not any thing made that was made.
In Him was life; and the life was the light of men.
And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.…
That was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world.
He was in the world, and the world was made by Him, and the world knew Him not.
He came unto His own, and His own received Him not.
But as many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His name:
Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.” (John 1:1-5,9-14).

G3056 logos From G3004; something said (including the thought); by implication a topic (subject of discourse), also reasoning (the mental faculty) or motive; by extension a computation; specifically (with the article in John) the Divine Expression (that is, Christ): - account, cause, communication, X concerning, doctrine, fame X have to do, intent, matter, mouth preaching, question, reason, + reckon, remove, say (-ing), shew, X speaker, speech talk, thing, + none of these tings move me, tidings, treatise, utterance, Voice, work.
Strong’s Hebrew and Greek Dictionaries

Just recently I have understood “the Word” as a concept, a thought, or a written/chiseled communication. But, now I see that the Word rather as the spoken Word, a Voice. How wonderful! Why? Because a voice contains more information about the speaker than a concept or thought, and a written or chiseled word. The vocal Voice contains the intonation of the communication and the poetry of melody. The voice makes the word living. The voice brings to the word power to obey!

So, John 1:1-4, 14 should read like thus:
“In the beginning was the Voice, and the Voice was with God, and the Voice was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by Him; and without Him was not any thing made that was made. In Him was life; and the life was the light of men.… And the Voice was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.” (John 1:1-4,14).

Wonderful! Jesus’ voice spoken since the beginning! The voice of God’s blessed Son! The voice that so many faithful souls had heard throughout the Old Testament times was the voice of Jesus, calling them to repentance. “They that be whole need not a physician, but they that are sick. But go ye and learn what that meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice: for I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” (Matt. 9:12,13).

The voice gives life to the word. Jesus, the Voice, is the One all of His sheep have heard and followed.

“But He that entereth in by the door is the Shepherd of the sheep. To Him the porter openeth; and the sheep hear His voice: and He calleth His own sheep by name, and leadeth them out. And when He putteth forth His own sheep, He goeth before them, and the sheep follow Him: for they know His voice. And a stranger will they not follow, but will flee from him: for they know not the voice of strangers.” (John 10:2-5).

 “My son, keep thy father’s commandment, and forsake not the law of thy mother: bind them continually upon thine heart, and tie them about thy neck. When thou goest, it shall lead thee; when thou sleepest, it shall keep thee; and when thou awakest, it shall talk with thee.” (Prov. 6:20-22).

“And though the Lord give you the bread of adversity, and the water of affliction, yet shall not thy teachers be removed into a corner any more, but thine eyes shall see thy teachers: and thine ears shall hear a word behind thee, saying, This is the way, walk ye in it, when ye turn to the right hand, and when ye turn to the left.” (Isa. 30:20,21).

“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.” (Ps. 16:7,8).

For the redeemed, the Lord’s presence has always been their great delight. His counsel in their thoughts comes coupled with peace. Their heart and nerves rest in His Spirit, His very presence. Not concepts empty of love, but lessons from His very mouth, His voice. Like the memory upon which Matthew loved to reminisce, “And seeing the multitudes, He went up into a mountain: and when He was set, His disciples came unto Him: and He opened His mouth, and taught them, saying,….” (Matt. 5:1-3).

The Voice has been His voice, “with the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven” (1Pet. 1:12). To those, all through the ages, who had surrendered to His call and guidance, the living word of God came. It was the Voice, filled with instruction in righteousness, comfort, and leadership; the Voice had been their mainstay. Not stale, not leaden, not boring, not just dull letters and words, that give no evidence that God accepts the reader, but the Voice came with pathos and personality, gentleness and lovingkindness, winning their hearts to the righteousness of His Father’s Law. The Voice, quickening the truth, gave faith something to respond to, the mind something to alertly grapple with, and the body to act on with all its strength. This is what David daily experienced.

“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. 16:9-11).

In the days of the patriarchs, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, Joseph and Judah their relationship with the Lord kept them open to the Voice. But later, their descendants involved themselves in heathen worship, and their spiritual senses grew so blunted that the people of God could no longer hear the voice of Jesus. Nevertheless, Jesus kept working with them so they could regain their spiritual ears, and hear the fatherly love for them in His oral Law from heaven. Eventually, the wine of Babylonian idolatry caused them spiritual deafness. But before He left them, the Voice moved the prophets to write down everything He was trying to teach the deafened nation.

His instruction for them was still available, but only for those who sought out His written words. Yet, as much a blessing those precious writings were, they lacked the special keys to fully understand the messages from heaven. The written words lacked the fullness of intonation of His gentleness, of faithfulness, of caring selflessness. A veil was upon their ears, and thus upon their minds. Heaven ceased to speak to them directly. But, to those who would search for Him with all their heart, they would find Him in His voice again. They would suck the honey of His sound from the lifeless, chiseled stone.

“Who also hath made us able ministers of the new testament; not of the letter, but of the spirit: for the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life.
But if the ministration of death, written and engraven in stones, was glorious, so that the children of Israel could not stedfastly behold the face of Moses for the glory of his countenance; which glory was to be done away:
How shall not the ministration of the spirit be rather glorious?
For if the ministration of condemnation be glory, much more doth the ministration of righteousness exceed in glory.
For even that which was made glorious had no glory in this respect, by reason of the glory that excelleth.” (2Cor. 3:6-10).

The glory was not seen by the eye. Half of the work of sight happens in the brain, in the mind. Half of what we see comes through only the brain. It’s the brain that takes the normally upside down images from the eye and turns them right side up for the true reality. But, glory uses none of the eye. It is all spiritual. It is the Spirit of God moving upon the mind, the conscience, the human spirit, which allows us to recognize glory. And that recognition comes through the faculty of faith. Our spirit comes from our faith reacting on a promise that we know comes from God. therefore. Therefore, because physiological, mechanical sight is not part of receiving glory, then glory that “lighteth every man that cometh into the world” can come in more forms than those that mimic “sight” in order to brighten the mind/the spirit/faith. Glory can also come through the form that mimics sound—His Voice.

The old covenant glory came from both sight and sound. But they were not open to the glory.

“But their minds were blinded: for until this day remaineth the same vail untaken away in the reading of the Old Testament; which vail is done away in Christ. But even unto this day, when Moses is read, the vail is upon their heart.” (2Cor. 3:14,15).

What they needed to revive from their spiritual dearth was to hear the Voice again. They needed to hear the Voice of Christ, His Spirit, His oral doctrine, the Spirit of truth.

“Nevertheless when it shall turn to the Lord, the vail shall be taken away. Now the Lord is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.” (2Cor. 3:16,17).

From His presence would come life and liberty.

“Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth My word, and believeth on Him that sent Me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life. Verily, verily, I say unto you, The hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God: and they that hear shall live…. Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear His voice, and shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation.” (John 5:24,25,28,29).

“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. 2:9-16).

Do we love the words of Jesus? Do we love His voice in our spirit that comes from the whole Bible? Does our faculty of faith hear His voice in every line? The voice makes all the difference in the Law.

“More about Jesus; in His Word,
Holding communion with my Lord;
Hearing His voice in every line,
Making each faithful saying mine.”
Eliza E. Hewitt, More about Jesus

“For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.” (John 1:17).

The Spirit of the new covenant didn’t take away the letter or destroy the Law of the old covenant; it didn’t destroy the letter of the Law. Jesus didn’t destroy the Old Testament scriptures. “Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.” (Mat 5:17,18).

Neither did the apostles destroy the Hebrew scriptures. “Then the twelve called the multitude of the disciples unto them, and said, It is not reason that we should leave the word of God, and serve tables. Wherefore, brethren, look ye out among you seven men of honest report, full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business. But we will give ourselves continually to prayer, and to the ministry of the word.” (Acts 6:2-4). Even the thirteenth apostle didn’t destroy the word of God in his day, the Jewish scrolls. “All [Old Testament] scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: that the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.” (2Tim. 3:16,17).

“In [the scriptures] ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of Me. And ye will not come to Me, that ye might have life.” (John 5:39,40). Israel had been missing something. In the scrolls they thought they had all that Jehovah gave them to know His will. But, in their scrolls they had been holding only half of what Jesus had been wanting to give them. He had wanted to give them Himself, through His verbal instructions, with which Moses had been privileged. “When Moses was gone into the tabernacle of the congregation to speak with Him, then he heard the voice of One speaking unto him from off the mercy seat that was upon the ark of testimony, from between the two cherubims: and he spake unto Him.” (Num. 7:89). And Abraham, “And the Angel of the Lord called unto him out of heaven, and said, Abraham, Abraham: And he said, Here am I.” (Gen. 22:11. 

But, like Cain refusing the drawing of Jesus through the sacrificed lambs, many Jews chose to keep at arm’s length the Person speaking from their Bible.

“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. His eyes were as a flame of fire, and on His head were many crowns; and He had a name written, that no man knew, but He Himself. And He was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and His name is called The Word of God.” (Rev. 19:11-13).

“Who may abide the day of His coming? and who shall stand when He appeareth? for He is like a refiner’s fire, and like fullers’ soap:
And He shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver: and He shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the LORD an offering in righteousness.
Then shall the offering of Judah and Jerusalem be pleasant unto the LORD, as in the days of old, and as in former years.
And I will come near to you to judgment; and I will be a swift witness against the sorcerers, and against the adulterers, and against false swearers, and against those that oppress the hireling in his wages, the widow, and the fatherless, and that turn aside the stranger from his right, and fear not Me, saith the LORD of hosts.” (Mal. 3:2-5).

The Voice, Him who is Faithful and True, was full of not only grace, but also truth; and truth can cause discomfort. Therefore, many will not submit to the truth. But, for the desperate, longing, humbled, surrendered soul truth is perfectly fair. To them God can have His say concerning their character. And therefore, with the new heart by which He rewards them for their surrender, the Bible isn’t only for a one-way conversation from the Son of God to us. For them, Bible study is for two-way conversation, “of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God” (Rom. 2:29), “the voice of One speaking unto him [the meekest man in the earth] from off the mercy seat… and he spake unto Him”.

The Spirit (the voice of Jesus in the soul) and the letter of the Law are not antithetical. They agree perfectly, working together to the same end—the salvation of our soul. “But now we are delivered from the Law[, without the Spirit], that being dead wherein we were held; that we should serve in newness of spirit, and not in the oldness of the letter [alone]. What shall we say then? Is the Law sin? God forbid. Nay, I had not known sin, but by the Law: for I had not known lust, except the Law had said, Thou shalt not covet.” (Rom. 7:6,7).
“For I through the Law am dead to the Law[, which was without the Spirit of Jesus], that I might live unto God [through the Spirit of Jesus].” (Gal. 2:19).

The new addition of Christ’s Spirit has restored voice to the letter; it added the wonderful voice of Jesus back into lifeless letters and words and abstract concepts, all of which aligned exactly with atheistic heathen religion, and led to dead works. But, the dead letters of the Law came to life through the personal presence of Jesus. By the resurrected Spirit of Christ, “sent forth into all the earth” (Rev. 5:6) scripture became the living word of grace and truth again, and brought life to a dying humanity.

But, watch out! The new, living voice of Christ is powerful. “Beware of Him, and obey His voice, provoke Him not; for He will not pardon your [presumptuous] transgressions.” (Ex. 23:21). His voice will make you or break you. He will make us humbled and poor in spirit, so that the soul falls before the Voice and is needfully broken for his salvation. Or, the soul will resent the conviction of His truth, as the scribes and Pharisees did, and stumble into rebellion so that the Voice will fall on the hardened soul and “grind him to powder” (Matt. 21:44). They were as Stephen declared, “stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears,” “always resist[ing] the Holy Ghost....” And when they heart these things, “they were cut to the heart.... Then they cried with a loud voice and stopped their ears, and an upon him with one accord....” (Acts 7: 51,54,57). 

“For the word of God is quick [like a dentist needle, ‘lively’], and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.
Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in His sight: but all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of Him with whom we have to do.
Seeing then that we have a great High Priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession.
For we have not an High Priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.
Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.” (Heb. 4:12-16).

Will we, or will we not, surrender to the Law as Paul did and eventually be led to surrender to the Spirit of the Son? “The commandment, which was ordained to life, I found to be unto death…. Wherefore the Law [and the entire word of God] is holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good.” (Rom. 7:10,12).

“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?” (Heb. 12:6,7). “Like as a father pitieth his children, so the LORD pitieth them that fear Him.” (Ps. 103:13).

“Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever.” (1Pet. 1:23).

Sunday, July 02, 2017

An email

Hello brother D_______.
  I’m glad to hear from you. It’s true that many have never known true surrender, yet believe they have. But, Jesus’ prayer, “Father forgive them, for they know not what they do” must be the result of this lack of true experience in repentance and surrender. So, we must carefully and tenderly treat the pervasive misconceptions of real experiential religion, since true surrender is a mystery to everyone until they stumble into it.

“God that made the world and all things therein, ...hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation; that they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after Him, and find Him, though He be not far from every one of us: for in Him we live, and move, and have our being.” (Acts 17:24-28).

  But, because the chances of having real repentance and surrender and conversion are greater to those who have access to the Law of God, which is God’s schoolmaster to give us a need for a Saviour from sin, then those with access to the greater sources of light in the Law, the Bible, and the Spirit of Prophecy counsels, have less of an excuse for missing the experience of repentance and surrender and conversion. The Judge of all the earth is weighing everyone’s lack of conversion in relation to their access to light. SDAs have the gravest situation before God. Protestants are next, then Catholic people, and the heathen nations, and lastly the animists.

  But, when the SDAs wake up and join with the awakened Protestants to give the gospel to the whole world for a witness to all nations, then everyone will have access to the light, and salvation will no longer be a mystery. They will have to make their decisions to accept the condemnation of sin, wrestling with that condemnation, then repentance, surrender, and conversion.

  And until the Latter Rain, the Lord will be merciful and gracious. Amen!

“The LORD is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and plenteous in mercy.
He will not always chide: neither will He keep His anger for ever.
He hath not dealt with us after our sins; nor rewarded us according to our iniquities.
For as the heaven is high above the earth, so great is His mercy toward them that fear him.
As far as the east is from the west, so far hath He removed our transgressions from us.
Like as a father pitieth his children, so the LORD pitieth them that fear Him.
For He knoweth our frame; He remembereth that we are dust.” (Ps. 103:8-14).