VALLEYS TO MOUNTAINTOPS

SITTING WITH CHRIST

7/23/2016

screen-shot-2016-10-21-at-12-52-18-pmWhile researching “the Sabbath,” I came upon a writer who, after presenting many facts, began to wax eloquently about spending time with CHRIST. It was as if his heart took over his pen.

I’ve heard the phrase, “swimming in the ocean of GOD’s love” as a description for fellowship with GOD, but since I’m afraid of water, it’s not a word-picture that calms my soul.

I am always searching for word-pictures to help my mind grasp a concept and William Law’s words have done that for me. This is the quote that carried me back to a serene scene in my past:

“Heaven is one ocean of repose. No billow heaves. No storm affrights. No foe can enter. No change can cloud the calm expanse of the unruffled sky. But what is heaven, but to see Christ, as He is—to gaze forever on His unveiled beauty—to sit with Him—…Heaven is heaven, because it is an eternal Sabbath by the side of Jesus” Henry Law (ref#214).

How often I have attempted to find a simile that describes a get together with CHRIST—some thought of a scene that would place me in His presence. This quote has reminded me of one and it is one that is real; it comes out of my past.

It was the summer I signed up for a graduate class from a university far away from my residence. It required rising at 4:30AM but I felt it doable until I was thrust into an interim position as a YWCA camp director that required evening meetings with camp counselors until as late at midnight.

Our cabins sat high on a bluff above Lake Eire. And I knew the responsibility of camp director plus the lack of sleep was wearing me out when the white noise of the waves interrupted my sleep.

When the camp’s swimming classes for the day ended and I had a moment free I would walk down the makeshift stairs to the water’s edge. It was the only place I knew that offered solitude. The most exhilarating time there came when the lake was calm. How no noise soothed my fragmented, frazzled mind.

“Heaven if one ocean of repose. No billow heaves” Henry Law (ref#214). This is my word-picture safe-place! This is the vision I will bring to my mind when I sit with CHRIST. For me sitting in the arms of CHRIST overlooking an endless calm sea conjures up a snippet of my eternal Sabbath.

SABBATH

CONCLUSIONS

“Man imitates the pattern of God’s work and rest in the sabbath cycle of days (Ex. 20:8-11) and years (Leviticus 25). The sabbath points forward to the rest that Christ achieved with his resurrection and ascension (Heb. 10:12-13), and which will be fully manifested in the consummation (Rev. 22:4-5)” ESV Study Bible (ref#125, p2635, “History of Salvation in the Old Testament: Preparing the Way for Christ” [Gen. 2:3]).

“So instead of wasting time on that endless quest for life, you have been invited to enter God’s rest for the rest of your life. Rest in your identity as his child. Rest in his eternal love. Rest in his powerful grace. Rest in his constant presence and faithful provision. Rest in his patience and forgiveness. Rest” Paul David Tripp (ref#190, Dec. 8th).

“…the Sabbath is a way of remembering and expressing the truth that God is our creator and deliverer and sanctifier….our work neither creates, nor saves, nor sanctifies….All things are from him and through him and to him. Lest we ever forget this and begin to take our strength and thought and work too seriously, we should keep one day in seven to cease from our labors and focus on God as the source of all blessing” John Piper (ref#169).

“If you keep your feet from breaking the Sabbath and from doing as you please on my holy day, if you call the Sabbath a delight and the Lord’s holy day honorable, and if you honor it by not going your own way and not doing as you please or speaking idle words, then you will find your joy in the Lord, and I will cause you to ride in triumph on the heights of the land…” (Isa 58:13-14 NIV).

“Is it going too far to say, that if our nation repented of its sin in this matter and returned to the old path of Sabbath observance, we would again become the leading nation of the world? In the light of this promise of Isaiah, I believe that great blessing would follow, blessing far beyond our expectations. But though the nation does not return, let us as individuals, and as a church, put this promise to the test and we shall find the Lord faithful” C.E. Hunter (ref#171).

SUPPLICATION

NON CHRISTIAN Resisters

[We all have friends and family that do not want anything to do with Christianity so it is up to us to pray for their salvation. Here’s an opportunity to pray for them. Fill their name in the blanks.]

THOMAS – SEEING IS BELIEVING

screen-shot-2016-10-21-at-11-59-13-am…FATHER, ones who believe without seeing, JESUS called blessed. But, to Thomas the doubter, CHRIST showed His nail-pierced hands and then asked him to believe (John 20:27-29). This passage makes me conclude that You, FATHER, in Your great abandon love, will show Yourself to ____ who may not believe without seeing.

Let me muse on the heavenly Solomon and how willing He is to show Himself to His bride the church—to ones in His church and ones who have yet to come. “My sister, my spouse, He calls them” (Song 4:12). I pray ____ is a (brother-to-be/sister-to-be) to CHRIST; I pray CHRIST has watched ____ from (his/her) earliest infancy. I pray He understands (his/her) nature and that He knows just how (he/she) feels, and sympathies with (him/her) (Heb 4:15). I pray ____ become His spouse—His sweet companion—part of His own self (Gal 2:20).

FATHER, enlighten ____’s eyes, show (him/her) Your Son’s nail-pierced hands, as You did for Thomas. Give (him/her) a spirit of wisdom—insight into Your mysteries and secrets—an understanding into the deep and intimate knowledge of JESUS (Eph 1:18,17). May Your kindness lead (him/her) to repentance (Rom 2:4).

You, FATHER, have sent JESUS to proclaim liberty to the captives and to give freedom to the prisoner (Isa 61:1).   LORD, soon, please, reveal JESUS in a way ____ may come to a saving knowledge of Him. Oh, that (he/she) might see clearly the immeasurable and unlimited and surpassing greatness of You, LORD (Eph 1:19).

THANKSGIVING

PATIENCE IN FULFILLING YOUR PROMISES

screen-shot-2016-10-21-at-11-53-13-am“Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever you had formed the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God.  For a thousand years in your sight are like yesterday when it is past, or like a watch in the night” (Ps 90:2,4 NRSV). “…with the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like one day” (2 Peter 3:8 NRSV).

FATHER, I, who am stuck in a world of time, marvel at Your patience in bringing Your promises to fulfillment. I thank You, FATHER, for setting in ink Your activities, the things that You will not leave undone (Isa 42:16) so people down through history can read about those activities.

You call forth and guide the destinies of generations from the beginning. You are the first—existing before history began, and continue to be with the last. You are “I AM,” the ever-present, unchanging GOD (Isa 41:4).

You recorded, through Isaiah, prophecies 800 years before You fulfilled them. Your prediction, so long ago, of Your Son coming to set up His kingdom of righteousness, allows me to see how You obligate Yourself to watch over Your children. I feel Your love as I read Your Word.

“…I am God, and there is no one like me, declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things not yet done, saying, ‘My purpose shall stand, and I will fulfill my intention,’ …I have spoken, and I will bring it to pass; I have planned, and I will do it” (Isa 46:9-11 NRSV).

FATHER, I marvel at Your plans that You drop into a time-locked world so I, who live on this earth, may marvel at the revealing and then the summation of Your promises. Thank You for giving me what I need.

SUPPLICATION

HOW GOD GUIDES

screen-shot-2016-10-21-at-11-38-02-am“Many failures and much waste and confusion…are due to men’s coming to work, instead of being sent out to work” Watchman Nee (ref#101, p42).

FATHER, I know what my head says is from You because You have a quiet persistence about Your words of guidance. Keep me from considering pros and cons that bring about debating and doubt. This mental activity does not indicate Your presence (ref#7, March 28th).

“Doubt and reflection take the place of spontaneous obedience…Only the devil has an answer for our moral difficulties, and he says, ‘Keep on posing problems, and you will escape the necessity of obedience’” Dietrich Bonhoeffer (ref#10, p73).

FATHER, when You say it is better to obey than sacrifice, You are addressing my human nature in me. This self-serving, self-glorifying part of me wants to sacrifice itself by doing what it considers great and wonderful acts for You. This sacrificing is the “counterfeit of obedience” Oswald Chambers (ref#7, June 8th).

“Obedience is perfected not in doing something you want to do but in doing the last thing in the world you want to do” Michael Card (ref#137, p152).

ADORATION

SWEET AND TOUGH LOVE

screen-shot-2016-10-21-at-11-33-05-amI give thanks to You, CARING FATHER, for Your steadfast love endures forever (1 Chron 16:34). Let Your love come to me, for You have promised (Ps 119:41).

FATHER, You loved me before I loved You, but not only that, You showered love on me before I was born—before I took any action toward You one way or another (Rom 9:11). You have saved me not because I have done any good toward You, but You saved me because You are simply infinitely good. And, Your kindness stays true even when I am foolish and disobedient (ref#35, p119). You do not alter Your love for me no matter what I have done, are doing, or will do.

LORD, sometimes You rebuke me, chasten me, hide Your face from me, and smite me. You even will fill me with a sense of Your indignation, yet Your love does not change. These demonstrations proceed from Your love as much as what I call kindnesses from You (ref#35, p121).

I ask, dear FATHER, that You keep me remembering how Your love disciplines me. Has not Your disciplinary events sobered me, put me back in my place, reminded me that above all else, I want a loving relationship with You? Please keep me from falling back into self-love. I need Your love, even the love that doesn’t feel like love, if I’m ever to actually experience Your lovingkindness being better than life (Ps 63:3).

“If you comfort me,

I will bless You;

if You would have me afflicted,

I will bless You just as much” Thomas a’Kempis (ref#147, p154).

VALLEYS TO MOUNTAINTOPS

PRIDE, LOVE OF SELF

6/26/2016

screen-shot-2016-10-21-at-1-58-45-pmMy Sabbath day was going pretty well until 10:00PM. The afternoon was particularly satisfying as I was pulled into a good book—a commentary on the Song of Solomon. So good the reading was that I continued into the evening.

Instead of the usual commentary depicting CHRIST and His church, the writing is an allegory of CHRIST and a single member of His church. It reads so personal that it brought out my own heart’s desire and I pretended I was the “bride” and it was my interaction with CHIRST.

The “bride” in the book was so in love with CHRIST that she followed Him everywhere, satisfied with every stage of their developing relationship. It reminded me of a quote:

“Sometimes there is nothing to obey, the only thing to do it to maintain a vital connection with Jesus Christ…” Oswald Chambers (ref#7, March 25th).

The author of the commentary alluded that obeying commands can be done outwardly—without being changed inwardly, but being in love with JESUS changes everything. Obeying commands are not even thought of, they are followed without any thought.

Being in love with JESUS made the “Bride” think of nothing but her “Bridegroom.” She thought no more about caring for herself; she would not take her eyes off her lover. She died to herself, becoming lost in CHRIST.

I fancied I had obtained that goal in my Christian walk and was happily brushing my teeth before bed when GOD dropped in my conscience a small request that made me recoil. Immediately my dreams of succeeding in my relationship with CHRIST vanished.

I was back with my eyes on myself! I did not want to do what He asked. My resistance not only destroyed my imagined delightful relationship with CHRIST but it put me all the way back to willfully resisting obeying.

Well, after a short amount of thinking I did do what He asked. But that did not restore my thoughts about a good relationship with Him. The “bride” in the Song of Songs did a lot of assuming she was ready for marriage only to find out the “bridegroom” had more to teach her.

So, I end this Sabbath day being further behind in my relationship with CHIRST than I thought. However, His mercy has not let me fall off the foundation He is building in our relationship but He has certainly humbled me by pointing out my pride.

I could be discouraged but His unseen assurance keeps me in pursuit of Him. I am glad for this Sabbath even though I’ve been justly convicted of my love to self, more than love of GOD.

SABBATH

SABBATH BREAKING: WARNINGS FROM NEHEMIAH

The prophet, Nehemiah, was instructed by the LORD to warn the people. “He reasons the case with them… and shows them that Sabbath breaking was one of the sins for which God had brought judgments upon them, and that if they did not take warning, but returned to the same sins again, they had reason to expect further judgments…” Mathew Henry (ref#18, [Neh 13:15-22]).

“At the heart of Sabbath-breaking is idolatry, having other gods before the true God (Exodus 20:3). The basic…spiritual manifestation is…subtle and dangerous. It is putting anything above God: money, a job, a house, or even a spouse! If anything becomes more important than God, idolatry is committed. Thus, if in the weekly observance of the Sabbath we do anything that becomes more important to us than our relationship with God, we have broken the Sabbath and committed idolatry….We must make a very real distinction between the Sabbath and the other days. The Sabbath was ‘made for man,’ as Christ points out (Mark 2:27), but that does not mean mankind has the authority to use it for his own purposes—rather, God made it on man’s behalf, for his benefit. The seventh day still belongs to God, and He shares it with those whom He has called and sanctified. We have a key responsibility in esteeming the Sabbath in our conduct, in our conversations, in our attitudes, and even in our thoughts. By entering into this covenant with God, we have been entrusted with the knowledge and significance of this day, but we have also been warned, as stewards of God’s truth, to be very careful with it” David C. Grabbe (ref#201).

My youth was influenced by “blue laws”—no shopping, no eating out on Sundays. Our family’s church attendance was so regular that I remember with glee the one Sunday there was a miscommunication with the churchmen and the boiler was not stoked so church had to be called off. Dad never farmed on Sunday even if it was a perfect day to combine the wheat. All these Sunday-only events set the day apart making it perfect for remembering GOD.

“Blue laws, also known as Sunday laws, are designed to restrict or ban some or all Sunday activities for religious reasons, particularly to promote the observance of a day of worship or rest. Most blue laws have been repealed in the United States, although many states still ban the sale of alcoholic beverages or cars on Sundays” Wikipedia (ref#202).

Is there a modern-day prophet who will cry against the repealing of the blue laws?  “This breach of the Sabbath was that which let in upon them al the waters of God’s wrath” Adam Clarke’s Commentary (ref#15, [Jer 17:21]). Is there still time to save our nation, or will we succumb to GOD’s wrath as the Old Testament Jews?

SUPPLICATION

GENERAL TRIBULATION

[We all can think of a Christian sister or brother experiencing so much affliction they may not be able to pray for themselves. Here’s an opportunity to pray for them. Fill their name in the blanks.]

REASONS FOR AFFLICTION–TO OVERCOME

 

screen-shot-2016-10-21-at-9-33-46-am“But as for me, I will look to the LORD; I will wait for the God of my salvation; my God will hear me. Do not rejoice over me, O my enemy; when I fall, I shall rise; when I sit in darkness, the LORD will be a light to me” (Mic 7:7-8 NRSV).

 FATHER, our natural inclination is to be spared from trouble. But, in Your wisdom, You give us troubling situations to deliver us in trouble. No evil can harm us when we’re at one with You no matter what situation You have us in (ref#7, Aug 2nd).

“God does not give us overcoming life: He gives us life as we overcome. The strain is the strength. If there is no strain, there is no strength” Oswald Chambers (ref#7, Aug 2nd).

FATHER, empower ____ to accept the hard situations; compel (him/her), by faith, to defer to Your strength. Even anticipating hard situations wears ____ out physically, but if (he/she) spends (himself/herself) spiritually (he/she) will get more strength. You give strength minute by minute (ref#7, Aug 2nd).

“To deny oneself is to be aware only of Christ and no more of self, to see only him who goes before and no more the road which is too hard…” Dietrich Bonhoeffer (ref#10, p88).

____ will find You, FATHER, when (he/she) overcomes suffering by suffering. JESUS prayed for the cup to pass from Him (Matt 26:39). It did pass—when He drank it. His suffering passed as he accepted it. “The cross is his triumph over suffering” Dietrich Bonhoeffer (ref#10, p92).

FATHER, how vital for ____ to keep communion with You—to draw near You in hard times for if (he/she) removes (his/her) eye from You even for a moment, (he/she) will succumb to “every dark suggestion of the adversary” Octavius Winslow (ref#61, May 30th). Linked with You, (he/she) overcomes—we overcome—You, LORD, overcome for ____.

THANKSGIVING

THANKS FOR TRIBULATION

screen-shot-2016-10-21-at-9-28-07-am“Some of you set sail in big ships; you put to sea to do business in faraway ports. Out at sea you saw God in action, saw his breathtaking ways with the ocean. With a word he called up the wind — an ocean storm, towering waves! You shot high in the sky, then the bottom dropped out; your hearts were stuck in your throats. You were spun like a top, you reeled like a drunk, you didn’t know which end was up. Then you called out to God in your desperate condition; he got you out in the nick of time” (Ps 107:23-28 MSG).

FATHER, I have called to You in my distress and You have answered me. I am not grateful for tragedies themselves, but I would not trade the insight, character, and strength they have procured for me for anything (ref#132, p25). I have to admit that most of what I really need for success in this life and the next come through my most difficult and painful experiences (ref#132, p24).

I thank You for the irreplaceable seasons of personal and spiritual growth through trials. I thank You for Your steadfast love and the wondrous works to me. It’s a joy to extol and praise You to everyone (Ps 107:31-32).