Monday, December 17, 2007

Coming Out For Unity

The apostle Paul said, “I appeal to you, brothers, through the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all speak the same thing and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same understanding and in the same judgment” (1Cor. 1:10). Just hours before his arrest and crucifixion, Jesus earnestly prayed for those who would believe in him, that “they all might be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they may also be one in us, so that the world might believe that you sent me (Jn. 17:21).

The unity of His children is a matter of the highest concern to our heavenly Father. And His will in this matter is why we have come out of all sectarian religion. Just look around, and you will see that every religion that is of man on the earth is hopelessly divided. And for God’s dear children to join any of the sects within these religious systems, including the one called Christianity, automatically separates that believer from God’s other children who join other sects. Supporting one sect’s doctrine and traditions is to oppose the efforts of other believers who support the doctrines and traditions of other sects. We are opposing each other as long as we belong to sects with conflicting doctrines and rituals.

Since God’s will is for His children to be one, as He and His Son are one (Jn. 17:20-23), then it must be His will for all us who believe in Jesus to forsake all that divides us. He can heal us! But this healing can never happen as long as we cling to our preferred sect.

We, and others like us around the world, are badly misunderstood, and we have been criticized severely for refusing to participate in anything that would divide us from God’s dear people, but I maintain that what we have done is the only reasonable course for the children of God to take. We live in this country, and are divided by geography from most of God’s people in other lands. But we can do nothing about those kinds of differences. But we can do something about our choice to join or not join a denomination and sect. We have been shown by Christ Jesus to love our fellow believers too much to do that.

Admittedly, it will require a mighty miracle for God to unite us, even if we all do His will and abandon the sects which we have joined, but should we not at least make ourselves available to our Father in hope that He might at least possibly do that miracle? In just six days, God created this entire universe out of nothing. Think of what he might do for us if we would just co-operate with Him and give Him a chance! On the other hand, please consider this: If we refuse our Father’s call and cling to the sects and denominations we have chosen, there is no possibility that we will ever be one, as the Father and the Son are united. Is that what we really want?

If we love fervently one another, and if we love our heavenly Father with all our hearts, then surely we will feel compelled to come out of all that divides us and to pray, as one, that Jesus will show us truth that will heal the breaches in our fellowship. Does it make any difference how impossible it seems now? Our God is mighty! He can unite us, we believe, if we will but co-operate with Him. Oh, let’s trust our heavenly Father to help us be what He has always wanted us to be! He can make it possible that we “speak the same thing and have no divisions among you, but be united in the same understanding and in the same judgment.”

The apostle Paul told the saints in Philippi that he wanted them to have the same love, one for another (Phip. 2:1-4). I, and others I know, hold you so dear to our hearts that we have forsaken everything under our control that would divide us from you. Now, how much do you love us?

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Happy Is The man Whom God Corrects

From Sister Ashley.

Lately, it has been stressed that we need to know why we are here, and know that this way of life is what we want. Of course, this makes you go through a period where you "check" yourself. Asking God how you're doing, if anything needs fixing, etc. A friend of mine had the best testimony the other week, and in it she was saying she had been going through a time like that. She was wondering if in her heart she was 100% for God’s way of life. And she said the Spirit reminded her of everything she has gone through in the past year or so, and how she gave up something that she'd always wanted, marriage and a family, because the man she was married to didn't want God anymore and was very abusive, physically and mentally. But she didn't have to keep loving God. He was showing her that she did have a heart to do what is right, and that she showed it by the life she chose to continue living.

Well, last week, I was going through the same thing, asking God if I really had a heart for him, and the same thing happened. I started remembering everything that I have gone through this past year. I lost my father, brother, and my mother to this world, but I hung in there, by the grace of God. And then He blessed me beyond what I could have imagined. During this past year, I have been scourged to the bone by God, and I was thinking about that, and I was reminded of a conversation with Token a few months back. I was very sick, and she came to see me. She was rubbing my head and said "God sure does love you." I looked at her, kind of wondering where that came from, and she reminded me of the scriptures in the bible referring to God chastening those He loves. And when you think of that, what love it is! Not that it feels good to be chastened at the time,but afterwards, the cleanness and the love in it overwhelm the rest. Here are the scriptures that I found referring to the love of God's chastisement, from such great men as John, Paul, Job, and David (you can tell that they had their share, but loved God for it):

Behold, happy is the man whom God correcteth: therefore despise not thou the chastening of the Almighty: (Job 5:17)

Blessed is the man whom thou chastenest, O LORD, and teachest him out of thy law; (Psalm 94:12)

The Lord hath chastened me sore: but he hath not given me over unto death. (Psalm 118:18)

For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. (Hebrews 12:6)

Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby. (Hebrews 12:11)

But when we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world. (1 Corinthians 11:32)

As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent. (Revelation 3:19)

Saturday, December 8, 2007

The Road To Salvation

Good afternoon Bro John,

I drew near to the Lord this morning, and this is what I heard.

If you are overtaken in a fault, you do not need to repent of the fault, you need to repent of the road you are on, the road that had the fault on it. There is no sin on the road to salvation. This road, the road of the Spirit, leads home to Christ and it knows the way perfectly. Sin is not on this road.

On this road, a living road, God is always communicating with His children. Like a shipmaster constantly guiding. He never stops tweeking the wheel. God is a living voice in our inner ear, and if we follow, then we are being led by the Spirit, and that makes us sons of God, according to the scriptures.

We need to seek to learn the voice of God, knowing that it leads to salvation, and follow it perfectly. We should expect for it to tell us things that we would not have thought of. Or give us instruction that we would not have chosen on our own. If we were doing all the things that it told us already, we would have no need for it.

Sometimes, it might tell us to do something that we may not especially want to do. Or tell us to refrain from something that we see no harm in or might enjoy. God may give us such instruction with no further insight into it. Our place is to obey, not asking why before we do it. Asking our Father why we should do something is the lesser attempting to qualify the motive of the greater. To ask why is to say "Let me see if your reason is good enough for me to carry this out." That is what children are doing when they ask why before following the instruction of their parent, and it is not good in the sight of the Lord. If left to grow in children, it will produce an adult defiant to authority and unable to obey God without some painful reconditioning.

Men should obey the Lord with complete submission, knowing that everything He does is for our good, even when it hurts. And by that, we are made fit to be followed by our wives in the same manner and then we can, with all confidence, require our children to follow us both.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Feeding the Lambs

It is the tendency of the human fleshly nature to shirk its responsibilities. A person “walking in the flesh”, as Paul would put it, will be inclined to escape duty, sometimes by making another feel that the duty is his. And this can happen among believers as well as those of the world.

It is a father’s responsibility to lead his family in the ways of Christ. It is not a pastor’s responsibility to teach anyone else’s children about Jesus and the truth of the gospel. The flesh would have a parent to take the children to religious gatherings and be content with that for their education, but there is nothing that can ever take the place of godly instruction from the parents, at home, especially instruction from the father.

It is the shepherd’s responsibility to feed the sheep, but it is the ewe’s responsibility to feed her lambs. The sheep know the shepherd’s voice; the lambs do not. The little ones follow their parents wherever they go, and they trust their parents. It is the parents’ responsibility to know who they are following.

It can be flattering to a minister when the congregation begins to laud him and lean on him and look to him for spiritual guidance for their whole families. It can puff up a man to think that he can actually feed the whole families of other men, but to try to do that is a self-destructive trap. To labor to supply others’ families the spiritual meat which the head of each house alone is ordained by God to supply is too much of a burden for any man. It is to spend one’s strength doing what is another’s responsibility to do, and no man is capable of bearing that burden for long.

Fathers, guide your own children, whom God has placed in your care, “in the fear and admonition of the Lord.” No one can replace you in your children’s eyes. Mothers, diligently do your part in teaching your children of the ways of God. No one else can do that for them as you can. Everyone in the body has a part in the life of everyone else in the body. But no one in the body can play the part of anyone else, for “God has set the members, each one of them, in the body just as He wanted. But if one member were everything, where would the body be?” (1Cor. 12:18-19).