May 2006

“PROVIDENCE”

Part Five

 

The Lord told Peter, When you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will gird you, and carry you where you do not want to go. Jesus said this to show by what death Peter would glorify God!” Peter’s spirit may have been blessed to learn that his death would glorify God, but his flesh had to be unnerved by this news; for when he turned and saw John, He asked Jesus, “Lord, what about this man?” Like a child singled out for discipline, Peter tries to divert attention from himself to someone else; but Christ reproves him,What is that to you? Y-O-U follow Me! (Jn 21:21–22) This is the heart of the matter! How God deals in others’ lives is not our business; we are to remain focused on His dealings in our own life! Peter would not have concerned himself with John’s place in God’s plan if he had not “turned from the Lord. This distraction made him lose sight of his own calling!
             If one man is a carpenter, and another man is a stone mason; they may work to build the same house, but each works in a different capacity! Each job requires different training and artistry. One man’s vision is to build a strong foundation; the other’s vision is to erect a sturdy framework. Both parts of the house are necessary, yet require dissimilar preparation and execution. The work of one accommodates and compliment the other; so there is no competition between the two! So God sees his created ones. Every son of Adam is a part of the whole man; and each is designed to be inhabited by Christ’s Presence to the glory of God! But this is a very personal and private process!
             God did not create trees to mature simultaneously. Jer 1:11 says the almond tree blooms early at winter’s end; but this doesn’t make the other trees envious and impatient to grow! The oak, in Scripture, typifies strength and long life, but that does not mean other trees are weak and useless! Each tree has its time and purpose in creation to display its beauty, though not all produce flowers; and while not all bear fruit, they all yield seed for new life! In the same way, God did not create men to mature in the spirit at the same time; some are early bloomers, while others- in human terms- are late bloomers. The Holy Spirit quickens to life as His Plan predestined. Some folks are born-again as children; some experience salvation in advanced years; others do not meet their Savior till they pass through the veil of natural death; but all are promised: “As in Adam all die, even so, in Christ, all shall be made alive; but every man in his own *order!” (1 Co 15:22-23) *Gk 5001 for order, is: “Something orderly in arrangement; a troop; a series or succession; from 5021, To assign or dispose in a certain position or lot; to appoint, determine, ordain or set.”
            
God exhibits perfect patience in His willingness to wait for each man in “his own order”; as His Tree of Life bears its Fruit (“Love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and self-control” Ga 5:22) in their lives! But why amongst these peaceable-sounding “Fruits of the Spirit” do we see the (seeming) “sour apple” of longsuffering? Who wants such a harsh-sounding fruit growing in his garden? God does, beloved! He knows it is the critical catalyst that develops all the other fruit! Gk 3115 defines longsuffering as Patience and longanimity![Dict. root for longanimity is lit. long soul-life which is defined “forbearance and a disposition to endure afflictions patiently!”

Every N.T. usage of the word “soul” comes from Gk 5590 psuche, which also happens to be the reference given for the word “life” in passages like these: He that finds his (soul) life shall lose it: and he that loses his (soul) life for My sake shall find it! (Mt 10:39) Also,Whoever will save his (soul) life shall lose it: and whoever will lose his (soul) life for My sake shall find it. For shall it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul (life)? What would a man trade for his own soul (life)?(Mt 16:25-26) The Son of man did not come to be ministered to, but to minister, and give His (soul) life as a ransom for many. (Mt 20:28)

READ NOW: Mt 6:25-34 (KJV); and Jn 10:14-20 (KJV); and
Jn 13:36-38; and Jn 15:11-16; and 1 Jn 3:14-16 (KJV & AV)

1

Heb 10:36 says to God’s people, “You have need of patience, so that after you have done the Will of God, you may receive His promise (eternal Life)!” God’s promise is only our if we are “Doers of God’s Word, not just hearers who deceive themselves! For anyone who is just a hearer and not a doer of the Word, is like a man looking at his natural face in a glass: for he only sees himself, and goes his own way, forgetting at once what sort of (sinful) man he was! But he that looks continuously into the perfect law of liberty, is not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work; and that man will be blessed in his deeds!” (Jas 1:22-25) God says here to keep looking into the perfect law of liberty! What does this mean? Jesus says, “You shall know the Truth (Himself), and the Truth will make you FREE...and whom the Son makes FREE is FREE indeed!” (Jn 8:32, 36) Gk 1659 defines free: “To be liberated, delivered from mortal liability (bondage to death); from 1658, “Unrestrained, go at pleasure (as a citizen, not a slave); exempt from obligation or liability, free to come and go; and to be at liberty!” For “Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty!” (2 Co 3:17) Jesus read in the synagogue, The Spirit of the Lord is upon me and has anointed Me ... to set at liberty all that are bruised (lit. crushed...!” (Lu 4:18) This phrase, set at liberty is a definition from Gk 649 which is a root for apostolos: Apostle; messenger, he that is sent forth!” God’s people can’t be “sent forth” as “apostles or messengers”- much less sons- till they have been liberated by the Spirit of Truth from our bondage to sin; the tyranny of death; and the consequences of hell! There is a poignant line in the movie, Ben Hur, where Prince Judah frees the slave daughter of his steward, who says, “It’s funny, when I was a slave, I hardly felt like a slave; but now that I’m free, I hardly feel free!” Being born enslaved to a sin nature, it is normal to sin; so we don’t feel like slaves! We even boast of a “free will”- a contradiction in terms! But all who give themselves to their sin nature, find they are powerless against their evil tendencies, a grim discovery! But then when the day dawns that Christ’s truth sets us free, our new liberty comes so gradual, we hardly feel free! Our new joy makes it seem normal to seek to please God in every possible way. And the more we give ourselves to His Divine Nature, we find that we, too, are powerless to resist His powerful Love, or to defy His sovereign Will! It is then that our flesh wages his final fight for survival! And of course, we are the battlefield for this spiritual Armegeddon!
            
God gave us our profitless mind of flesh as a “serpent” (called: man of sin, deceiver, liar, son of perdition, lawless one, spirit of error, antichrist, and firebrand of our fallen nature), to be a perfect contrast and conflict for His Christ to overcome! By making us be the absolute worst, He could reveal His absolute Best!! For what man could know the magnitude of God’s mercy without first seeing a deadly demonstration of total unbelief in Eden’s garden! And who could imagine the fullness of Christ’s forgiveness without first witnessing the unimaginable scope of sin that could crucify one’s own Creator! And who could know the latitude of Christ’s Love without first seeing His bowed and bloodied head speak His dying words, Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do!” Only an all-wise God could devise such negatives to prove such a positive!
             Throughout history, man’s flesh has vaunted its “self-lovingand “self-receiving nature in God’s face! His lust made a blank refusal to acknowledge Divine Provision as total sufficiency! To crave more than divine provision is not only ungrateful, but is an unholy judgment against God!
             It implies that our All-knowing, All-wise, All-powerful God does not know, want, or do what is best for us! But He tells us plainly, “Your iniquities have turned away these things, and your sins have withheld good things from you!” (Jer 5:25) The illusion of autonomy and invincibility has always made man hate being “one-upped” by anyone...even God! But came the day he was finally brought face to face with the Cross where he was “checkmated” once and for all! That inglorious event signaled that he was living on borrowed time, as it were! The most he could do was make loud, vain posturings in a world-now-redeemed from sin and death! He could incite men’s lust for wealth, fame and possessions; and make them covetous of others; but the ultimate battle for men’s souls was forever lost to him- because it was blood-bought by Christ’s supreme act of “self-giving!

“Behold, O God our shield, and look upon the face of Your Anointed (Christ-in-me). For a day in Your courts is better than a thousand. I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God, than to inhabit the tents of wickedness. For the Lord God is a Sun and Shield: the Lord will give grace and glory: and He shall withhold no good thing from them that walk uprightly. O Lord of hosts, so blessed is the man that trusts in You.” (Ps 84:9-12)

2

When the beauty of Christ fills our souls, all else pales in comparison. As a chorus says, “Turn your eyes upon Jesus; look full in His wonderful face; and the things of earth will grow strangely dim in the Light of His Glory and Grace!We can discern the degree of our vision of God’s grace and life, by how great is our attraction to this world of sin and death! Heb 12:1-2 says, “As we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses (who have borne testimony to the Truth), let us strip off and throw aside every encumbrance (unnecessary weight) and the sin that so easily (readily and cleverly) clings to and entangles us; and let us run the appointed course of the race that is set before us, with patient endurance, and steady active persistence, looking away (from all that will distract) to Jesus, the Author (Origin) of our faith (giving the first incentive for belief); and Finisher (bringing faith to maturity and perfection); Who, for the joy (of obtaining the Prize) that was set before Him, endured the cross, despising and ignoring the shame, and is now seated at the right hand of the Throne of God.”
             Our self-will cannot conceive, believe, or receive Christ’s Gospel of self-denial! 1 Co 1:18 says, “The preaching of the Cross is foolishness to them that perish!” The flesh cannot willingly crucify itself, so Christ must inspire and empower the soulish man to relinquish his earthly domain in return for God’s heavenly domain! In order for Christ to give us His All, He must require us to give Him our all! A full cup can receive nothing! Our cup of soulish life must be drained dry before it can be refilled with Christ’s Life of spirit. Holiness is not just a religious doctrine that can be added to a list of do’s and don’ts. Holiness is a way of life. It is The Way to purest Godliness! If any man be holy, it is only because He has the Presence of the Holy Spirit residing in his temple!
            There is no holiness apart from Jesus Christ! Many worldly religions call their clerics “holy men;but, in doing so, they are “taking the Name of the Lord in vain!” (Ex 20:7)
             The mind of flesh regards itself as a surrogate providence! The Dict. root for the word, surrogate, means “Choose in place of another, a substitute; to put in the place of another.” This is amazingly close to the definition of antichrist: “Anything put instead of, and opposed to Christ!” Carnal man loves to meddle in other people’s lives; but seeking to interfere in God’s Perfect Plan is an exercise in futility- for nothing can alter His immutable Will! He may allow us to impose our will on another man to temporarily eclipse his spiritual vision, but this shift of focus from spirit to flesh has some purpose! Being a “busybody” is a chronic ailment for those who are deeply discontented. When they can’t improve their own unpleasant state, they turn to observe someone else’s situation. One’s own sense of powerlessness can be temporarily alleviated by assuming influence over others because it is the nearest thing to godliness we can experience. When we see someone suffering, our immediate soulish thought is, “I must do something to relieve him.” But without first seeking God’s Will, we might cause confusion or chaos! And when our best efforts fail, God will say to us, What was that to you?”
            
The word, busybody, is in the N.T. three times. The first says, “We hear that some of you are walking disorderly- not working in faith, but being *busybodies- busy in other people’s affairs instead of your own. [*The word, busybody, from Gk 4020 means, “One who works all around, who bustles about meddling;” from 2038 & 4012, “Excessively toil and labor for, be engaged in, minister about.”] Now we exhort such people, by our Lord Jesus Christ, to work in quietness, and eat their own bread! But you, my brethren, do not tire in well doing; and if any man does not obey our word in this epistle, observe that man and have no company with him, so he may be ashamed! All the same, do not regard him as an enemy, rather admonish him as a brother!” (2 Th 3:11-15)
             The second use of the word says, “Do not support younger widows; their sexual passions will overcome their dedication to Christ, so they marry and bring condemnation on themselves as they cast off their first faith. They grow idle, roaming from house to house; and being idle of mind they become gossips and *busybodies, saying things they shouldn’t. [*The word, busybody, here from Gk 4021 means, “To work all around, meddle and work in curious arts like magic);” from 2041 & 4012, “Excessively work, toil and labor.”] So I counsel these younger women to marry; bear children, and run a house, so the adversary can’t reproach them as widows who are already turned aside to follow Satan!” (1 Ti 5:11-13) The third reference says, “If you are reproached for the Name of Christ, be happy; the Spirit of Glory and the Spirit of God are resting on you; and if He is evil spoken of because of their deeds, He will be glorified in you! But let none of you suffer as a murderer, or thief, or evildoer, or *busybody in other men’s affairs. [*The word, busybody, here has another root, Gk 244, meaning, “To oversee another’s affairs; to meddle in other’s matters;” from 245 & 1985, “To act as an overseer or bishop of others and not one’s own.”] But if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed; rather glorify God for this,” (1 Pet 4:14-16 )

3

Every life has more than enough to pray about; so we each need to tend to our own spiritual well-being! God classifies busybodies in the same league as: murderers, thieves and evildoer!” That should give every gossiper room for pause! It is only in Christ we find strength not to meddle in other peoples’ lives. To counsel contrary to God’s Will can “murder” someone’s faith in God; and “steal” their hope in God; and that surely qualifies as being an “evildoer”! God betimes gives wisdom and grace to intercede on behalf of others, but only to lift their hearts to Christ! He does not need our help to reveal Himself, He communicates directly with His people by His Holy Spirit. Still, as we nurture our relationship with Christ, His Life will flow through us to benefit others! But our natural man lives only at the level of human awareness; while our spiritual man lives at a higher level of divine awareness. The degree to which we serve and devote ourselves to God reveals our spiritual maturity. While we consciously make a concerted effort to serve Him, we are not yet living the fullest possible Christian life! True spiritual maturity is imparted on a deeper, unconscious level! As we utterly yield to Him, we are more aware of His holy Presence than of being used as a vessel! While we remain at this conscious awareness of being God’s broken bread and poured-out wine, we have yet a higher level of spirituality to attain! It is where all mindfulness of self, and the way God uses our life, is totally eliminated! A true saint is not consciously a saint—he is only aware of his total dependence on God! While our vision remains divided betwixt spirit and flesh, we are not yet fully transformed into His Divine Nature! That should be our greatest concern!
             God predestines a perfect life for every man--His Own! This is revealed in His intervention of Abraham’s sacrificing of his son, Isaac, on an altar. At this desperate crisis of self-denial, God provided Himself as the perfect Substitute Sacrifice! (Ge 22:8-14) We must be utterly divested of our noxious self-will, before we fully receive our True Life that is hid with Christ in God!” (Col 3:3) Genuine self-sacrifice is not an act of self doing anything; rather it is just the opposite; it is the act of denying self altogether! It is letting God be God! It is being led by the Holy Spirit to an undisclosed altar where we lay down our self-life once and all! It is then “clothing ourselves with the Life of the Lord Jesus Christ; making no more provision for indulging the flesh; putting a stop to thinking about evil cravings of our physical nature, that gratify its lustful desires!” (Ro 13:14)
             The world has long languished under the unstable influence of a “mixed gospel” which is offered by men’s organized religions. Their offering of wine mixed with water produces wine that tastes weak, and water that tastes sour. Such wine loses full power to enflame the soul with passion for Christ; and such water loses full power to refresh the body. Both are in effective! Pure water of the Word is health-giving; fit for washing and drinking by spiritually mature and immature alike. Pure wine of the Word is stimulating and invigorating, however, its intoxicating agent makes it fit only for the spiritually mature! The Christ life is progressive, as surely as is the human life! There is a “going on to perfection” that is either not preached at all in today’s organized religions; or it is taught as being reserved till “after death”. Such doctrines have stunted the growth of the church!!! But the Truth is revealed in Jesus Christ’s first miracle at the “marriage feast” at Cana (Jn 2:1-11) where He asked that “six stone barrels” be filled with water, then turned the water into wine!” The number, 6, in Scripture, represents “Sin, man’s flesh nature, and satan!” There are 6 days of Creation; and on the seventh day [7 = perfection] God rested! Those 6 stony barrels symbolized the first Adamic existence of man when his stony heart of sin (outwardly) rules over his life! But then when Jesus Christ, at last, is revealed in our hearts, He institutes His 7th Day of rest wherein our imperfect lives of flesh are utterly transformed into His perfect life of spirit! Thus, the governor of that wedding reception marveled at how “the best wine was saved for the last!” Our eternal union with Christ as our Bridegroom is seen as the glorious “marriage feast” in Rev 19:5-9,

“A voice came from the throne saying, Praise our God, all you His servants, and you that fear Him, both small and great. Then I heard, as it were, the voice of a great multitude, also, the voice of many waters, and the voice of mighty thunderings, saying, Alleluia: for the Lord God omnipotent reigns! Let us be glad, rejoice and give Him honor: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his bride (individually- man’s soul, corporately- the Church) has made herself ready. She was permitted to be arrayed in clean, white, fine linen- for the fine linen represents the righteousness of saints. Then He said to me, Write these words: Blessed are they who are called to the marriage supper of the Lamb!”

[TO BE CONTINUED]
HAVE A HEART!

(Author Unknown)


"Tomorrow morning," the surgeon told the boy, "I'll open up your heart..."
"You'll find Jesus there," the boy interrupted.
The surgeon looked up, annoyed and continued, "I'll cut your heart open to see how much damage has been done.."
"But when you open up my heart, you'll find Jesus in there," said the boy.
The surgeon looked to the boy’s parents, who sat quietly. He continued telling the boy, "When I see how much damage has been done, I'll sew your heart and chest back up, then I'll plan what to do next."
"You'll find Jesus in my heart,” said the boy. “The Bible says He lives there and the hymns all say He lives there too; so you'll find Him in my heart.”
The surgeon had enough. "I'll tell you what I'll find in your heart. I'll find damaged muscle, low blood supply, and weakened vessels. And then I'll find out if I can make you well."
"You'll find Jesus there too. He lives there."
With that the surgeon left.
Later the surgeon sat in his office recording his notes from the surgery, "...damaged aorta, damaged pulmonary vein, widespread muscle degeneration. No hope for transplant, no hope for cure. Therapy: painkillers and bed rest. Prognosis:," here he paused, "death within one year!"
He stopped the recorder but he kept on talking. "Why?" he asked aloud. "Why did You do this, God? You've put him here; You've put him in this pain; and You've cursed him to an early death. Why?"
The Lord answered, "This boy is My lamb that was not meant for your flock for long, for he is, and will forever be, a part of My flock. Here, in My flock, he will feel no pain, and will be comforted as you cannot imagine. His parents will one day join him here, and they, too, will know peace, and My flock will continue to grow."
The surgeon's angry tears were hot. "You created that boy, and his heart. But he'll be dead in months. Why?"
The Lord answered, "The boy who is My lamb, shall return to My flock, for He has done his duty: I did not put this lamb in your flock be lost, but to retrieve another lost lamb."
Later the surgeon sat beside the boy's bed weeping, as the parents sat across from him. The boy awoke and whispered, "Did you cut open my heart?"
"Yes," said the surgeon softly.
"What did you find?" asked the boy.
The surgeon smiled through his tears and said, "I found Jesus there!"

=============================================


Abraham Lincoln said, “If you look for the worst in a man,
you will surely find it! But if you look for the best in a man, you will not be disappointed!”

 
 

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