"What is it George? It must be something big to get you so worked up."
"It is big. Come and see."
"What do you want me to see? All I can see is a can of worms you've got in your hand."
"No, no, not those.... this!"
"It's a worm George. So what?"
"Look at it, Martha. Look close. See? It's perfect."
"So? You got yourself a perfect worm. So what?"
"Don't you see? It's not just a worm, it's a perfect worm. It's an incredible worm. It's, it's, just wonderful!"
"It's a worm, George, just a worm."
Saul was head and shoulders above all those he ruled over. But Saul was a runt in comparison to the one everyone looked up to and admired: Goliath. Yet one small boy with a slingshot, who viewed Goliath as nothing but a extra large target brought him down. Goliath proved to be nothing but an oversized worm.
Today, with movies and TV and music, we tend to make marvelous "Stars" of the screen and the vinyl (CD's now). But all too often those heros turn out to be nothing but well decorated common earthworms; bloated and impressive for a moment, then ultimately hanging on the fish hook of societies used-to-be's.
We make a big thing of "Man." Yet Man is nothing but dirt and air and water that walks about for a moment, then fades once more into its elements. The only difference between us and a worm is that we are bigger and carry the fishing rod. Should "evolution" turn the worm into the one with the advantage, you and I will likely find ourselves being dunked on a hook and trying desperately to avoid being food for some trout.
I find it's rather like a kid who steals a candy bar. That first theft causes great pain and guilt. But the more candy bars stolen, and the more he gets away with his crimes, the bigger the crimes grow. Finally the small theft turns so large that when discovered it appears as a huge cancer on the tip of the nose.
Another example that comes to mind is a soldier overseas. The longer he is away from momma and his lady-fair, the more like the "guys" he becomes. He becomes the opposite of the person he imagines himself as being, and the total opposite of the picture he is painting of himself to his mother and sweetheart back home.
Then one day, in the midst of his debauchery, enters his mother and soon-to-be-lost lover. Then dawn breaks. The dynamics of who he has become hits him over the head like a rolling pin wielded by a mother-in-law who never was.
Our first realization of who we truly are is the easy one. It hits us like cold water on our bare back on a hot summer day.
The danger comes when we begin to enter into the "acceptable" zone of righteousness. The closer we come to feeling perfect, the less we feel the tug, and the more self righteous we become, which is just the opposite of Godly righteousness.
It appears to me that many people on the right road, stop far too soon and rest on their belief that they have "arrived." In other studies I have referred to this as standing in the doorway of God's grace.
The nearer we draw to God, the farther we move from our self and our wants and needs. The more we rely on God for our sustenance, the less self-reliant we become. The more Glory we give to God, the less glory we seek or accept for ourself.
Agreeing with someone, especially under strain of pressure and pain, is easy. Following up on that agreement is much more difficult. And the farther we are from the pain, the harder willing obedience becomes. Thus the need for a chain.
As time progresses, and the dog becomes more cooperative, the lighter the leash that is needed. The hope and intention is that the dog will no longer require a leash, but is ever at your side, ready and anxious to obey every command you give it.
Such obedience does not come easy, not for a dog, nor for us humans. And for that obedience to come when cookies are no longer given as a reward for obedience is almost beyond hope.
Yet we have seen this done.
Such a statement as that made by Jesus is not spoken lightly. What do you think He meant by His statement? What does your church say He meant by His statement?
All through the Bible we see Jesus (and God) telling us about the costs for following His will. We have, for our most immediate examples, the Apostles. And we have the early Christians. They counted the costs and followed the Lord without a chain. What did it cost them?
Those are the costs.
I suspect it is because we are not supposed to look at ourselves as special. We are not to be concerned with how we look to others, or even to ourselves. We are to work on the inside of us that no one sees, unless it is God's light of the Spirit we are trying to set ablaze that they see. It is the Spiritual part of us we should be concerned with. We are to be citizens of Heaven sending all our wealth and earthly valuables "back home" to the Father and the family, the Church.
Oh, wouldn't it be nice if that was the way God works?
Of course, you have probably heard it said by knowledgeable people that this is exactly what God does: Take away our desires and make us a "New Man."
I will agree that very often God will take us from a situation that has caused us problems in the past; or He will rescue us from an addiction that we tried hard to create. But once we are released, it is up to us to stay away from that we have a weakness for. We can't go playing close to the line.
I have been experiencing this very thing recently. And the realization of my faulty behavior and thinking is just now becoming clear.
How often has your conscience suddenly been heard loud and clear immediately after you did that which you had over a period of time justified in your mind?
These Children of God, the Bride of God, were told time after time, to stay away from the sins of the Canaanites and other worshipers of false gods. Over and over the Israelites succumbed to their own selfish nature and backslided Each time they turned again to their old ways God let them do their own thing, until they fell, and then He lifted them to a safe place and once again gave them a warning.
David was lifted up, and fell.
Solomon the same.
Even Abraham failed to live fully according to faith at times and had to be reprimanded.
In other words, we are to prove ourselves created in "God's Image" and do as He does with us. An example of this forgiveness is illustrated in the servant who was forgiven much, then refused to forgive someone who owed him a little. He received punishment for his un-Godlike behavior in spite of the fact that he had already been forgiven his debt. His forgiveness was lost when he proved himself unworthy of forgiveness.
"Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors" is the way Jesus taught us to pray. That little word "as" has a very big meaning that is commonly overlooked. The word as means "in like manner, as soon as." What do you suppose would happen if we refuse to forgive? What do you suppose will happen to the forgiveness we received from Jesus' sacrifice?
"Seeing they (we) crucify the Son of God afresh." That means we become one of those who stood at the foot of the cross and spit on Jesus, blaspheming His Name and His purposes.
Our sins that we commit, as Christians, are no longer the little things they were when we were part of the World: they are now showing a willful, uncaring attitude toward God and His sacrifice for us. And who, may I ask, could do such a thing without great inner turmoil and a desperate desire to be rid of such behavior and thoughts? And wouldn't you say this is especially so if we have received the Holy Spirit at baptism as we supposedly have?
How about you? Are you distressed when you sin, realizing that you are putting Jesus back on the cross and are a part of the rabble who abused Him? Do you consider yourself a "saved" Christian if you can do such a thing without experiencing torment and a desperate need for delivery and forgiveness?
We are taught, the Fundamental Protestants and the modern churches in particular, that all sins, past and future, are forgiven and no longer exist because of Jesus' completed work on the cross. This smacks very close to the "Everybody will be Saved" message that is becoming more and more prevalent in these Apostate times. If you are resting on such a doctrine as this, or anything near such a doctrine, I think you had better take stock of the fact that you are serving a god other than the One who demands of you your total and complete love and obedience.
Just a thought.
As I listened, it occurred to me. This music, and the words, and the spirit behind the words - it's just too pretty not to be true.
But, how many times have you read those words in the Bible? And when you do read the words, are you hearing what the Bible has to tell you, or are you hearing the song?
Music is a prime example of this process. Another example is the words spoken from the pulpit. We either do not listen to what is said, or we pick out the words that please us. Whether in song, or in preaching, we turn the meaning into something pleasing, beautiful, and that suits us where we are, as we are, at the present.
Three times a year all the male Jews, regardless of where they lived or the distance that had to be traversed, were to come to Jerusalem to make sacrifice. They had the distance to contend with, the long stay, and of course the expense and the trouble of providing a sacrifice to present to the Lord.
These feasts, in spite of their complexity, were but moments taken out of the daily life of a Jew. I equate these occasions with the modern day version the Christian churches offer: that is a trip to church services once a week. And if a person is really dedicated, a prayer meeting and a Bible study thrown into the mix as an "offering" unto the Lord.
The Jews, although they fulfilled their "duty" to the Lord, did what they chose to do with the rest of their time. Often what they chose to do was fulfill their lusts and offer sacrifices to Baal or whatever god happened to be the fashion of the day. As a "reward" for the people of God following their own desires God destroyed them and kicked them off His land.
God said He wants our full heart, our total sacrifice, our soul if you please. He does not just want a jab here and poke there at Holiness. We are to be Holy as He is Holy. And just how Holy do you think God is?
It's kind of like, I would say, being a "good boy" all year, asking the right thing of the right person, and making out your Christmas list and sending it to the North Pole before Santa packs his bag of goodies.
I am not a wisher, but a doer. That is not brag, that is fact. Along with being a doer, I am a facilitator. When someone says: "If only I had such-and-such, I could....", if at all possible, I provide what they say will allow them to do that which they say they most want to do. When they have what they say they need, usually they do not take advantage of it.
I hear: "Thank you so much." I tell them: "I haven't done you any favors. Now you have to do what you said you would do. I've taken away your excuse."
Usually after I've taken away a person's excuse they learn not to tell me what they wish they had.
Of course this piece is not about me giving to others. But my story is just a lead-in to what I want to say.
God, I believe, is a facilitator also. He gives us what we say we want or need, and watches us squirm (or fall away) when our excuse has been obliterated.
Americans are highly blessed. We have too much for our own good. Like small children with too many toys, we do not appreciate what we have, nor do we take care of it, nor share it with others. We build huge houses ("barns" in the Bible) in which to store our "stuff" that we do not need, nor do we use.
We, above all people, are without excuse.
Their confusion is what I harp on. It's that when ministers of the Word see conflict, they choose to follow the doctrine of the church rather than what the Holy Spirit is trying to tell them. By doing this they become "intentionally blind," and lead their flock into wrong pastures.
"Hold on, dogface, you ain't prepared for nothin' til you takes your basic trainin' and learns what soldierin' is all about."
"Slow yourself down fella. Til you been to war you ain't got nothin' comin' to you of no kind."
"No such a thing, bud. I see here on your records that you ain't a citizen of this here country. Sorry, but all you has done is for nought. Can't give you no awards nor discharge if you ain't a duly sworn citizen."
"Nope, no can do sonny. There's no way you can ever become the Prince, no matter how hard you try."
"Why not? It's not fair. I've done everything I was required to do, and I passed every one of my tests with flying colors. I fought on the front lines of battle at risk of my very life. I am a full-fledged citizen of this country, so why am I being cheated out of my rightful place as Prince?"
"It's very simple, young man. Regardless of what you have been told, it takes more than being a good citizen and soldier to be Prince of this or any other country. There's no works you can perform, nor is there credits you can obtain that will cause you to be declared royalty. There is only one thing in this world that will make you qualified to be a King's son. You have to have the same blood coursing through your veins as does the King."
I will give you some examples.
If you are a Catholic, then you believe that regardless how much faith a Protestant may have that he or she is going to Heaven, you don't believe it, and would say so.
If you are a Protestant, then you believe anyone who is part of what you consider a cult is wasting their time, even though you are a couch potato and the Cultist spends every moment of his or her time studying the Word and evangelizing at risk of their life in foreign lands.
If you are part of the World system and have no religion, you believe that anyone who believes in an afterlife is deceived, regardless of how much a faith the religious person may be.
Another phrase that has taken the place of Faith is "Positive Thinking." Positive thinking prescribes that if you think something will occur, it will do so, regardless if you work toward that thing or not. Many churches use this positive thinking to whittle the pocket books of their followers. It's not as often called positive thinking, but rather is often called: "Seed Faith," or "give, and receive ten fold what you give" (Sounds like stock brokers and con men, doesn't it?)
Although you do not believe any of these mentioned will profit by their faith, believing their faith is unfounded; you do believe that faith will win out in the end. How can this be so? that is that Faith will save, and yet will not save. You believe that your belief will save you, and that those who believe just as you do, and live up to your standards will be saved as well.
Beggar was a happy pup, ever present at the feet of either Mr or Mrs Jones, ready and anxious to please them. Beggar was an appreciative soul as well, seeming to realize the fate from which he had been rescued.
As time grew on, Beggar grew as well. Being larger, Beggar's appetite increased overwhelmingly. And while Beggar became an intensifying hardship on Mr and Mrs Jones, he was inclined to become more and more forgetful of the state from whence he was rescued.
Beggar's appetite became more and more finicky, insisting on only the best of rations. No longer content with his mat in the corner of the room, he insisted on the Master's chair, caring not that the Master was now relegated to the guest's sofa. Where as a pup Beggar had been delighted with the simplest of toys, he now snubbed anything less than the very best and the most expensive amusements, and was never content even with these.
Beggar had become complacent. No longer the meek and needy soul he once was, he now expected others, even his masters, to focus their attention on his wants and desires.
Even more: are you perhaps one who has fallen into complacency and become unappreciative toward the One who has given His all for you?
These faithful and believing people, when they saw Jesus feeding multitudes with but a handful of food, casting out demons, giving sight to the blind, and raising the dead, had every reason to believe He was their Messiah.
Yet many, especially those with most reason to do so, did not believe.
But when Jesus said things like: "Eat my flesh and drink my blood," this turned their stomach, and they turned away from Him.
Yet we "Believe."
Eventually I hope to formulate an Index of subjects with which to help alleviate this problem; and even better, combine all the pieces into their own categories. But with the hundreds of studies I have in the works at this time, I can not see any of this happening until I retire from writing (maybe at age 120). In the meantime, I can only hope that as anyone reads what I have written they either stumble upon that which they needed to hear, or that the Lord directs them to what they need to clarify what they seek, or have found of interest.
Clear enough? I hope so.