Sunday, August 20, 2017
Thirteen year-old Ralph rode his horse home from school on some very dark nights. One murky evening young Ralph approached a flooded stream and his horse refused to enter the swirling waters. Just then, a neighbor opened his farmhouse door, somewhere out there in the darkness on the other side of the stream. That open door laid a gleam of hope across the stream that rushed across Ralph’s pathway so rapidly; it allowed the hesitant Horse and the cautious rider to enter the stream with renewed confidence and make the crossing safely.
Years later; that distinguished radio minister, Dr. Ralph Sockman, recalled that significant incident from his boyhood. He confidently proclaimed that Christ opened the door on the other side of death’s sullen stream, that Christ “brought life and immortality to light,” that God broke in upon our world with the light of Easter. I’ve told this story before, but it speaks to me where I live today.
God wants us to find our way out of this great darkness that engulfs us. Some experience Easter only as a time of offense because the minister fails to recognize them from one year to the next. Others, like Sockman, discover in Easter an experience that offers life mends broken lives. The light of Easter exposes a gleam of hope that nurtures people through dog days, dreary events, and hopeless times. It promises an equal opportunity occasion for nurturing new life, accompanied by the living Christ. It offers me the hope of eternal life with a living Heavenly Father as I await the soon departure of my spouse of 70.5 years.
In walking with this Christ we/I find forgiveness for past sins. In His continuing presence, she and I find promises of abundant life and ultimate victory over personal defeats. This God that was in Christ invites us to lay aside our spiritual uncertainties, walk with Him, and be liberated from the chains of doubt.
Easter brings His invitation for us to accompany Him on this grace-filled trip, free from the onslaughts of death, devastation, and defeat. Easter marks the ultimate turning point of faith by celebrating the true and certain defeat of death and darkness. Easter reveals the further promise of life unparalleled in victorious grace, mercy, and light. Easter offers this life on a 365-day-a-year basis rather than an annual spring holiday.
Walking with Our Lord, we (now) live on rich dividends that result from His companionship. In seeking first His Kingdom, his companionship becomes our primary objective. As we pursue this ongoing journey, we await His future return with unabated eagerness, all the while welcoming any-and-all that will willingly accompany us.
On one hand, we no longer await some unknown future when Christ "will" bind Satan and cast him into the fiery pit. In reality, we live with him "now" in his victorious presence and we “celebrate” His faithful counsel and comforting presence.
Shortly after the liberation of Rome during World War Two, an Army Chaplain prepared to participate in a special Memorial Service. Taking note of the circumstances, a young American GI begged the Chaplain to announce the soldier’s presence in the service. He explained that he left Italy ten years before and moved to America. He had not seen his mother during that time, but he knew she would be present in this service.
The Chaplain not being in charge of the service, could not honor the request. He agreed, however, and instructed the young GI: “When I am introduced you stand beside me. I am sure your mother will recognize you.”
Carefully following the Chaplain’s instructions, the anxious soldier stood beside the Chaplain in silence. A cry of recognition was heard buy all as a tiny woman in the audience jumped up and ran down the aisle toward the platform. Their mutual belief in the God of Easter dramatically reunited this elderly mother and her emigrant son after ten years of being separated by war and distance.
That which appeared in Bethlehem as a gleam of hope became a vision of reality when the God of history revealed himself through the resurrected and eternal Christ. In His Company, Tommie and I find God’s best for each one of us--both here and hereafter. The promises of the prophets became a living presence in Jesus. The Easter event reveals the unending victory we experience today. It is a day in which Satan has no tomorrow.
From Warner’s World of 8-20-2017,
I am walkingwithwarner.blogspot.com___
Monday, August 7, 2017
Church of God Historian, Dr. Merle Strege has written an excellent analysis detailing Anderson University’s first century of Christian service to its Church of God sponsor, its local community where it carries a vital role, and to the cause of Christian Higher Education... After spending time with Merle at our annual June Historical Society, followed by personal conversation, I eagerly anticipated reading his historical critique. I completed that reading recently and I offer the following personal response to this well-written newest volume of Church of God historical literature.
I excerpt the author's own words:
"James Edwards retired as Anderson University laid plans to celebrate its centennial. A tiny denominational Bible school had evolved in ways unimagined by the boldest dreamers among its founders. Once comprised almost exclusively of students and faculty drawn from the Church of God, one hundred years later AU has become intentionally pluralistic.
“And yet its identity rests in ties to its sponsoring church. From a sectarian Bible school and young college, the institution has stepped into a wider religious world as it continues to mature into a complex university. Anderson University defies simple categorization. Unashamed of its Christian character, it prides itself in not imposing faith statements or creeds as a condition of employment; instead the institution asks applicants for a testimony of their Christian pilgrimage.
“Formally tied to the Church of God, AU celebrates the freedom of 'academic and Christian discovery.' The sponsoring church and its oldest university have undergone substantial growth and change over the course of Anderson's lifetime, but at the end of the day, university leaders insist on belonging to the church that has given Anderson University its distinctive shape”
…"At one hundred years of age, the stated mission of Anderson University is '...to educate for a life of faith and service to church and society.' ... Since the days of Morrison and Olt, the development of such lives has been at Anderson's heart. The goal remains the gift and burden of each generation ... Signs abound that the latest faculty generation has taken up the task. In the words of one of its members, 'Our "unifying theme" is a life of faith and service ...set free by VERITAS, ...empowered ... by FIDELITAS, and naturally manifested through UTILITAS. Here I suggest is the common language AU must strive to protect, and our unifying theme.' John Morrison would smile" (pp 414-415).
Merle's fundamental unifying theme seems accurate in every sense of the word. Moreover, it reassures me as I look back across the span of and my personal relationship with the adolescent Movement, beginning as ABTS/AC and was but ten years old at my birth. Later, I would spend several decades serving that Family of Faith (Movement) in pastoring several of its newer (and some older) congregations from coast to coast, and I candidly admit Merle’s documented insistence that TRUTH, FAITH, and SERVICE have been the net result of AU's century-long educational contribution to the mission of the Movement coincides with my experience. But also: he gives me insight and better understanding into issues I might otherwise question.
I have had some very good and some very bad experiences with AC, both as a student and as a parent of students. I have one deeply serious issue with “my friend” Bob Reardon that came about during my years of being the parent of a student. That in my view still remains a problem John Pistole must correct and improve but that is outside the purview of this review. Some may not agree with the perceived liberalization and/or the academic freedom students have today. Not all will support the "progressive" view Dr. Strege puts forth. Some will reject various trends that differ in varying degree with our original manner of identifying ourselves as a Movement, et al. Still others would be more comfortable for AC/AU to be more dogmatic and less diplomatic while others would be more comfortable if our church/Movement was more sectarian, more doctrinal, and somewhat less experiential and pietistic. And that’s OKAY.
SOME might even like Professor Strege to be less academic and more assertive about this or that issue, according to the interest of the particular person or congregation. At the end of day, however, I know of no one better able to gauge this assessment of our cooperative investment in Anderson University. Our investments of time, money, and energy have paid off in dividends both excellent and highly profitable (valuable).
I salute our friend and my fellow alum from WPC for this most recent of his several "significant historical assessments." Merle understands and can assess with considerable accuracy who we are as a people, what we have achieved through our efforts, and where we are headed in our future of uncertain times
This is walkingwithwarner.blogspot.com asking that you
“Be blessed!” as you thoughtfully read your copy of THE DESK AS ALTAR / Strege/AU Press/2016
Thursday, August 3, 2017
PART THREE -- The Work of the Holy Spirit
-Wayne M. Warner-
Life is always a probation. The will is free . . . the holiest saint on earth may, if he chooses, sin and go to hell. Everything hangs upon the choice. Thank God we need not fall. Falling is possible, but not necessary.
Byron J. Rees,
The Wesleyan Advocate
A wretched stench confronted Chuck Swindoll’s family when they returned home from their midsummer vacation. Chuck described their non-humorous dilemma of finding their house filled with the indescribable aroma of a dead possum in the attic over the bedroom.
Racing to find the best solution in the shortest time, they found a product guaranteed to rid their house of the offensive odor of decaying flesh---”Anti-Icky Pooh.”
The Church, like the Swindoll family, sometimes faces offensive odors. Decadent TV ministries leave a bad smell. Churches that tolerate unacceptable beliefs and congregations that allow members to live in Sodom while hobnobbing with the city elders, leaves a poor witness.
Paul described such behaviors as holding to a form of godliness, while denying its power (2 Timothy 3:5). The antidote for this anemic spirituality is the Holy Spirit, a true Anti-Icky-Pooh product guaranteed to fulfill true righteousness.
There is power beyond the norm practiced by many in today’s church. There is life under the administration of the Holy Spirit, but this truth frequently finds itself effectively wedged between ineffective teaching and misunderstood practice.
From the age of Genesis, Judaism taught the unity of God within one-God (monotheism): Let us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness (1:26 NASV, emphasis added).
The Old Testament consistently shows God (the Father) at the center of all moral authority---the prime mover toward the human rescue. Yet, piercing through the fog ever so dimly, we see the mission of the Son manifesting the visible God to human eyes, to instruct the world, and finally to atone for mankind’s sin through His own death.
It is the Holy Spirit who administers God’s Department of Grace; applying and distributing what originated through the joint High Command. He revives recollection of Jesus. He quickens the conscience, renews the mind, and attests acceptance with God in practical living.
He sanctifies one’s whole being. He takes possession of a purified temple, makes the heart His home and converts it into a sanctuary of unending comfort. He expands it into a fruit-bearing garden that produces love, peace, and joy.
Pentecost simply served as the Installation Service that brought about the transfer in the command of power. Although people sometimes find themselves drunk on the sensual and sensational, thus void of reality, God’s people throughout the ages have enjoyed the Holy Spirit’s power and presence in several ways.
First, the office of the Holy Spirit is to awaken and arrest one’s attention, to excite the feelings, and produce conviction for sin (cf. John 16:8). Lacking power to rouse themselves, and shake off the stupor, people left to their own devices pass through this life, meet death, and enter eternity with their sleep uninterrupted.
Second, the work of the Holy Spirit is to renew (cf. Titus; John 3:5). Chaos, corruption, and death begin in the carnal mind. Carnality estranges the soul from God and dismantles the divine in humanity.
Third, the Holy Spirit restores and enlightens spiritual perception; penetrating the soul, repairing vision, revealing truth. He renews vision with perspective. Sin obscures vision, leaving us drifting on an ocean of error in a moral fog, void of true relationships.
Fourth, the Holy Spirit implants and nourishes the seeds of character-producing grace. Regeneration clears the soul of poisonous weeds and the bitter root of sin. It allows God’s Spirit of Truth to become the foundation of right principles, true virtues, and correct practices.
The Holy Spirit, moreover, acts upon these plantings, like the quickening rays of warm sun on spring flowers. He conditions the greenhouse of our heart, producing lovely bedding plants for beautifying the yards of our lives.
Fifth, the Holy Spirit assures us of our acceptance by God, reaffirming our justified relationship to Him (cf. Romans 8:6; Galatians 4:6). Although greater things were reserved for the gospel era, these functions are normal to the Holy Spirit.
Immersed in clouds of worldliness, today’s church sometimes finds itself debilitated and sickly, in spite of John the Baptist’s introduction of Jesus. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire, John announced (Matthew 3:11 NASV, emphasis added).
By introducing Jesus as the King, John also introduced God’s Kingdom. In proclaiming the arrival of the Promised Child, whose presence brought the power of the Savior-Sanctifier, John called for fruit worthy of repentance. He declared Israel already axed, rather than resurrected (cf. Matthew 3:10). He proclaimed the cleansing baptism of the Holy Spirit, rather than legalizing water baptism.
Believing in Jesus requires us to accept a Trinitarian view of God. Thereby, it acknowledges the era of the Holy Spirit. In doing so, we learn there is life that comes to us from beyond mere human discipline.
Without explicit preaching and solid testimony we may fail to understand this truth, which is the fulcrum on which the lever of the Spirit rests.
Faith provides the conveyor belt that carries salvation, but the Holy Spirit provides the power that creates the cleansing, quickening, and beautifying we all need.
When the Pharisees questioned Jesus about His coming kingdom, He told them it’s neither here nor there, but within you (cf. Luke 17:21). There is a level of life to discover beyond mere discipline, an internal power far beyond the norm practiced.
This is walkingwithwarner.blogspot.com reaffirming the Biblical truth that there is a Sanctifier beyond the Savior, and Jesus himself insisted that among His disciples if anyone loves Me, he will keep My Word (John 14:23a NASV).
Wednesday, August 2, 2017
THE COST OF DISCIPLESHIP
-- A Relational Faith -
-Wayne M. Warner-
“We Lutherans” wrote Dietrich Bonhoeffer, “ have gathered like eagles round the carcass of cheap grace, and there we have drunk of the poison which has killed the life of following Christ”
In California I heard a humorous story about a Valley Farmer who shingled his roof six feet out into space. Allegedly, that was before he discovered he was off the roof.
Much teaching about the person and presence of the Holy Spirit leaves Christians in a fogbank as thick as those Tulle fogs that regularly rolled into the California valleys and waterways from the waters of the Pacific. Confusion about the third person of the Trinity leaves many living in a spiritual fog.
Christians in most quarters of the Church of God readily define themselves as Trinitarians and that is because they believe in The Creator God as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
If we accept Jesus as part of the Godhead, we somewhat automatically fall into the camp of those who believe in the Trinity. Some, however, reject the third person of the Trinity and we know them as Unitarians.
As Trinitarians, we find that we face differing viewpoints regarding the work of the Holy Spirit. The reformers of the Protestant Reformation generally agreed in emphasizing solid scriptural authority. They believed everything must be measured in strict biblical terms.
However, preacher-scholars like James Arminius and John Wesley came to see great value in personal experience that gave a place to the ongoing presence of the Holy Spirit in the life of the believer. They believed in a strong biblical authority, but they also recognized an important relational aspect in the Christian faith.
They insisted belief and behavior must maintain a proper balance. Thus, they believed that Christianity is as much about relationship with God as it is believing the correct creed. Some of the conflicting ideas between Wesleyan Holiness Christians and Pentecostal Christians come at the point of properly defining the right balance between Scriptural authority and the authority of personal experience.
The Church of God has always taught the ultimate authority of Scripture, while continuing to give an important place to personal experience (the experiential) and private interpretation.
Thus Don Neace issued his small volume he called A Challenge For Clarity, which offers a renewed emphasis on biblical truth about the Holy Spirit. Urging believers to hold to basic biblical principles and doctrines, Neace urges avoiding over-emphasis on the experiential as expressed through personal and private phenomenon such as speaking in tongues and being slain in the Spirit (Neace/A Challenge For Clarity/Reformation Publishers/2004).
Going back to one of the first century‘s strongest churches, we find it came into existence because the Apostle Paul worked in Ephesus for three years to build a solid foundation. Here was a church known for its good works, patience, sound doctrine, church discipline, and its hatred of evil.
The church at Ephesus reflects the upward beckoning to discipleship that Paul stressed. In reading his or her story, we discover a need every believer has, a discipleship every believer can enhance, and devotion every disciple needs to fulfill.
The rest of the story depends on how we interpret the events at Ephesus and how we personally answer Paul’s question to the believers in Ephesus, “what baptism did you receive?”
An obvious need
(Acts 10:1-7; 19:1-3).
When he found it was time to leave Corinth, Paul gathered together the offer-ing he was collecting along the way for the distressed believers in Jerusalem. He headed for Jerusalem, by way of Ephesus, with Ephesus a likely objective from early on.
As a result, Paul seeded the soil of this East-coast center by reasoning daily in the synagogue and promising to return if and when possible.
Archaeological digs reveal a great city in Ephesus. Several miles of walls surrounded the shops, colonnades, and commercial buildings. One outstanding architectural feature of Ephesus was the Temple of Artemis, which measured 163 by 342 feet, and sat on a slab 234 feet by 418 feet. A Shopping Center surrounded the city’s 360-foot rectangular market place. Later, Paul made his way into the 24,000 seat theater where Demetrius incited a riot. (Acts 18:18-21).
Apollos relocated from Ephesus and further pursued his vision elsewhere, after Priscilla and Aquila more fully discipled him (18:24-28). In the meantime, Paul recognized an obvious need; thus, his inquiry: “What baptism did you receive?”
The Ephesians admitted they knew of the baptism of John but they candidly confessed they knew nothing about this alleged third person of the Trinity. For Paul, this pointed to an obvious need.
An enhancing discipleship
(Acts 19:4-7). The limited teachings of Apollos left the church at Ephesus with a partial and incomplete gospel. The spiritually perceptive Paul diagnosed their need and proclaimed the fullness of the gospel to them. In giving them the whole gospel, Paul reminds us that we cannot follow Jesus very far relationally without moving beyond belief to behavior, from proclamation to practice.
At some point, the gospel always calls us to move beyond merely repenting, challenging us to go on to spiritual maturity. It calls us from a creed to an experiential relationship (cf. Hebrews 6:1; John 14:12, 22-23; 15:26-27; 16:7-11).
When we repent but lack spiritual anointing, it may be because we may lack adequate knowledge of Jesus. Insufficient knowledge of the indwelling Holy Spirit, who transforms followers into prescriptions of peace and joy for a troubled world, often fails to recognize the Jesus who anoints worshippers with joy, and guides the hurting, while empowering learners with effective witness.
When we fail to recognize-and-serve the Jesus who transforms takers into givers, we fail to experience changed lives. Through the Holy Spirit, God reorganizes believers’ lives and converts the passive from a level of non-involvement into a relationship of responsible accountability.
The enhancement of the Holy Spirit brings wholeness to the individual believer, complete with consecration and moral cleansing (cf. Romans 12:1-2; Ephesians 5:25-26). Entered experientially by faith, this enhancement grows progressively as
A devotion to fulfill
Spiritual enhancement both allowed and enabled the church at Ephesus to be-come a gospel center for the province of Asia. The gospel went forth from Ephesus in spite of adversity (I Corinthians 16:9). When opposition increased, evangelism multiplied (I Corinthians 19:8-9). While the people heard something new, God did something extraordinary (19:10-11).
False witnesses failed to disrupt church ministries (19:13-17). Passive believers became practicing believers and involved participants. The church filled with “discipled-believers” as converts were taught and learners became doers.
Moreover, false practices were relinquished, allowing the people to truly become the church, the Body of Christ (19:18-20).
Eventually, Paul moved on, compelled by the Holy Spirit. First, however, the church had to first become the church. No longer was the church simply Paul’s mission and ministry. Now properly administered by spiritual leaders, the church at Ephesus dieted properly, fed adequately by God’s word. Moreover, the church exercised properly, utilizing faithful saints who took the gospel everywhere to everyone within reach (Ephesians 1:1, 15-19a).
The Holy Spirit transforms and assimilates groups of disciples into Christ’s Body, without leaving spare limbs and unusable parts to exist outside the body. As God’s church in Ephesus, Timothy and John gave spiritual leadership. As a result, the people ab-sorbed the gospel, and Ephesus became an exemplary stronghold.
Later in his life, John saw Ephesus still orthodox and persistent in service, and strong in discipline although somewhat abated in love (Revelation 2:1-7).
As Paul Harvey loves to say, “Now you know the rest of the story!” But, what will our story reveal? Will the Church of God be strong because we repented of our shortfalls and pushed forward in the maturity of The Holy Spirit? Will we be God’s church? Will non-believers find faith as the Holy Spirit enhances our lives with his sanctifying presence?
How will your story read? And mine? Have you confessed your sins and accepted Jesus? Have you placed yourself on the altar and let The Sanctifier cleanse you of spiritual impurities and sanctify you for His service?
This is walkingwithwarner.blogspot.com –
While life launches at Calvary. It is through the baptizing presence of the Holy Spirit that life deliver its fullest expression of spiritual abundance.
Sunday, July 30, 2017
Living Out of the Overflow
Charles V. Weber
The most common inquiry coming from the discussion about living out of the overflow is “how can I live it?” There is no doubt that “how” is an important word, and it ought to be repeated by a minister over and over as he prepares to preach. As I look back on my ministry, I can see that I spent much time telling people what they ought to do. I really didn’t help them much because they already knew what they ought to do.
What they really wanted was to be told how to do it. Telling people what they ought to do when they already know is like clubbing a person. It is a form of nagging. I want to put some techniques into your hands, which will show you how to live abundantly.
Frequently people tell how they have struggled to live victoriously. If trying should be the measure by which they lived, they would rate high, but they feel defeated and know that they don’t rate very far up the scale.
It will help us to remember that we never can succeed by struggle. We can’t lift ourselves by our bootstraps. Some people try. They see a higher level of life and they begin to struggle to lift themselves to that higher level.
Paul wrote, “God . . . hath quickened us together with Christ (by grace are ye saved) and hath raised us up together and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 2:5-6, emphasis added). We do not raise ourselves; we are raised by the grace of God.
We must forget this idea of struggle in connection with religious experience. Some people have the idea that if they can do perfectly enough in time, they may become the children of God. This is putting the cart ahead of the horse. We become by the gift of God and not by doing. We do according to the nature of a Son of God. It all sums up to this: We must put action as the expression of Christian stewardship instead of a struggle to be God-like. We are not God-like because of struggle, but because of the divine gift of God.
For years I tried to be holy. I carefully watched every act of my life and struggled a great deal with my thoughts. I never experienced any lasting satisfaction from the results I obtained. I struggled and strained but usually sensed defeat. One day I realized that if I could be holy by the process of effort it would be a humanistic holiness. It would be my own righteousness, which, at the best, would be the filthy rags of self-righteousness.
Religion is not my own self-righteousness, but the righteousness of God in me. It is His gift to me. Holiness does not come out of effort, but through a divine endowment.
Instead of struggling and straining to be good, then, we should surrender and give up to God to receive His goodness. Surrender is the word that will lead us to abundance through God. Usually that is the hardest thing we have to do. The world lives by the rule of “preserve self” not “surrender self.” Automatically, people flee to save self whenever anything occurs to disturb the status quo and there is an instinctive basis for it. However, such a course of action leads to a false security and will cheat them of life.
Jesus spoke an important truth after He rebuked Peter for insisting that they would not let Him die. He said, “Thou savourest (understandeth) not the things that be of God, but those that be of men . . . If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it” (Matthew 16:24-24, emphasis added).
Peter understood the way of men. It was to save self, so he quickly insisted the Master should save Himself. But Jesus knew the secret that brings life, and it was the way of God. The secret was the way of surrender. He that will “save his life shall lose it” and he that will “lose his life for my sake shall find it.”
It is hard for the worldly-minded to see this secret. It is too paradoxical to seem reasonable. It is foolish to believe the way to have a thing is to give it up. The whole world believes that to have a thing you must get it in your possession and hold on to it. They believe the way to get is to grab. But that is the worldly-minded idea of possession. It is false.
The only things which are really yours are those which will be yours forever. You may hold some things in your possession now or hold legal title to them, but some day you will relinquish them because they are not really yours. The things that are really yours are those that you give up.
For many years I used the Promise “Ask and it shall be given you” as the law by which to receive the things I desired. But now I have found a higher law of receiving. It is “give and it shall be given unto you.”
It is a purging law because when you give up a thing you are cleansed from selfishness. It is the law of the overflow because He said, “Give and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom” (Luke 6:38, emphasis added). You receive more than you give.
Despite the superficial conclusion of the worldly-minded, the way to abundant life is by the surrender of self and all of the things of life. “He that will lose his life for my sake shall find life.”
Jesus clearly teaches this, and we find it in the Beatitudes. “Blessed are the poor in spirit,” blessed are they that mourn” and “blessed are the meek” are three, which will illustrate what I mean.
The “poor in spirit” refers to those who have surrendered the material things of life. Stanley Jones suggests the “renounced in spirit” and another writer puts it in the “detached in spirit.” It doesn’t mean you have sold your home and business. You may have them in your possession, but you are detached from them.
You are not enslaved by them. Some people are slaves to their homes. Some are slaves to their business or their jobs. Jesus said those who have surrendered the material things to God are happy.
“They that mourn” does not refer to a sad faced religious experience as some have thought because Jesus teaches us that the Gospel is good news. It refers to those who are living for others--they that are carrying the burdens of others. They have a soul-burden that is a type of heavy foreboding.
The meek are those who are detached from self. They do not consider themselves very important. They no doubt have rights but they do not consider them important enough to make an issue be-cause of them. They have surrendered self.
Jesus said those who surrendered things, self, and lived for others, would receive. What? “Theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven.” They shall be comforted.” “They shall inherit the earth.” In other words, when we make a complete unconditional surrender to God we receive the realm above (Kingdom of Heaven) the realm within (comforted) and the realm without (inherit the earth.”)
The richest people on earth are not those who have the most money but those who have received this secret of life. “All things are yours . . .and ye are Christ’s and Christ is God’s (I Corinthians 3:21, 23).
When you are frustrated, beaten, discouraged, and hungry, you will find complete release in full surrender to God.
When you give up to God and all struggle ceases, the surrender makes you receptive for the gift of God. The first thing that comes then is a sense of relief, and the second thing is a feeling of wholeness.
Suddenly you feel an abundance as if a dam has gone out and the water is rushing over you. Usually in such an experience God becomes very real to you.
Most everyone has had experiences of abundance when they realized wholeness, which they knew, was the gift of God. Then in their thinking they have wished that life could be like that all the time. Frequently, however, these experiences have been far apart and the gaps between have been filled with spiritual dryness and a feeling of inadequacy. The question is how can we narrow these gaps so abundant living can be a continuous experience in our lives.
I think obedience is the word that will help us on that point. When we surrender, the next step is obedience. The analogy of the vine and the branch in the fifteenth chapter of John indicates the fact that the nature of God will be in us if we “abide in Him.” He said, “If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love” (emphasis added).
We receive living water by surrender but we find a continuous stream of it by obedience. Our obedience to God keeps the stream flowing. If there were immediate obedience in every instance the flow would hardly be interrupted. Usually our lives are made up of one struggle after another over this matter of obedience.
There is a thing we need to do but it seems difficult so we seek a way of escape from it. After a prolonged period of struggling to escape, we see we cannot find a way out so we rather grudgingly surrender and obey. The trouble is the period of resistance served to choke the channel until even our obedience failed to renew our abundance.
Instant obedience to God becomes an important factor in living out of the overflow.
PRACTICING THE PRESENCE
The man who is conscious of the presence of God will always feel adequate. It is when we lose the “presence” that we are forced to fall back on human resources. Actually living out of the overflow means to live in God’s presence.
Practice taking God with you wherever you go.
Think of Him helping you decide every question.
Thank Him for His help.
Turn to Him when you are tempted or weak.
Seek Him when you stumble or sin.
Live as if God is your very breath of life.
If you will do this, you will be living out of the overflow. Life will be lifted to a higher level and you will find a marvelous victory. You can live abundantly. You can be victorious despite handicaps.
This is walkingwithwarner.blogspot.com
asking God to lift you to a higher level where you too can experience victorious living in spite of the handicaps.
Chapter Two -- RELIGION IS AN OVERFLOW – Charles V. Weber
We will need to change our thought patterns from the form that religion is something we “get and keep” to religion is something we “receive and share” before we’ll learn the secret of living out of the overflow.
Of course, there is a process of cleansing and endowing, which must take place in our lives if we are to be partakers of the divine nature of God. I am not talking about an experience that takes place in the air and has no foundation. Abundant life comes from God and every fundamental event, which was necessary for its accessibility, must not be ignored.
Actually, two things happen to us in the divine process of redemption. We get rid of the man-made image of sin and we put on the image of God. It is a double-action process. One is a cleansing, purging experience; the other is a divine endowment or impartation.
I think you can see that before we can be filled with the fullness of God we must be cleansed of all impurity. Suppose you should ask me to bring you a glass of water and I hold up two glasses to you--one is clean and polished, the other is dirty with grease marks and debris in it. I say to you, “Which glass shall I put the water in?”
You would answer, "The clean glass of course.” When God fills us He will choose the cleansed vessel every time. The first action in the divine process is cleansing, the emptying out of everything which is foreign to God.
But cleansing is not enough. There must be an infilling. After we are cleansed, unless we invite the person of the Holy Spirit to possess our whole being we become subjects of deception. I think I can illustrate this from the teachings of Christ in Matthew 12:43-45.
“When the unclean spirit is gone out of a man, he walketh through dry
places, seeking rest and findeth none. Then he saith, I will return into my
house from whence I came out; and when he is come, he findeth it empty,
swept and garnished. Then goeth he and taketh with himself seven other
spirits more wicked than himself and they enter in and dwell there; and
the last state of that man is worse than the first” (Emphasis added).
Here is the picture of a man who has quit his sin business and been converted. He doesn’t swear any more, he has left off his vices; he has broken loose from the old ties and associations, which ensnared him. But he doesn’t permit the full process of divine action to take place.
After a time the old spirit that has gone out of him comes back and finds him cleansed-but-empty so, he goes and gets other spirits. One spirit whispers in his ear like this: “You remember how extravagant you were in sin. You never considered the value of a dollar. You wasted your money for sinful things. Now that you’ve got religion you ought to be different. You should hold on to every dollar. Don’t spend any unless you have to.” So a covetous devil moves in and this fellow becomes miserly, covetous and stingy.
Then another spirit whispers in his ear and says; “you remember how it was when you were in sin how frivolous you were. You never had a serious moment. you joked and laughed and were always teasing. Now that you’ve got religion you ought to be different. You should be sober and serious. You should act very holy and religious.” So a self-pious devil moves in, and this fellow begins to feel very righteous, much holier even than all the rest.
Another spirit speaks to him and says: “You remember how it was when you were in sin. You patted everybody on the back and told them they were good fellows. You never saw anything wrong with anybody. Now that you’ve got religion you should be different. You should pick out the flaws and weaknesses of people. Find their weak spots. Look for everything that you thing ought to be different.” A criticizing devil moves in and this fellow begins to criticize everybody.
Still another spirit whispers in his ear and says: “When you were in sin, not only did you insist that everybody was a good fellow, but you felt it was none of your business what other people did and it was not for you to judge. Since you’ve got religion you should be different. You should not only look for the flaws in people but you should tell them about them. So a judging devil moves in and this fellow feels he is in a position to decide the right and wrong of every issue. He becomes judge of his church.
One by one these spirits take up their abode within this man until seven other spirits, more wicked than the first, has come in. The scripture says the last state is worse than the first. Why? Because in the first state the man was a lost sinner and he knew it. Now he has a profession of religion, thinks he is more righteous than all the rest, but is deceived by all these unclean spirits.
It is much worse to be lost and not know it than to be lost and know it. In one, the sins are in the conscious and we know of them, but in the other the sins are in the unconscious and we do not acknowledge them because we are unaware of them.
Every person who is cleansed from his old sins but who is not filled with all the fullness of God becomes liable to deception. We need to be filled with all the fullness of God. We are going to be filled with something, either good or evil. “A good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is evil: for of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaketh” (Luke 6:45, emphasis added).
This whole idea of religion is built around the experience of receiving the gift of God’s righteousness, which becomes a stream or spring flowing out of our lives. We are channels of the redemptive stream of God.
This channel must not be dammed or choked. If it is the stream stops flowing and we lose the freshness of religion. Out in the Great Utah Basin is the Great Salt Lake. For centuries the melting snows in the surrounding mountains have formed rivers which have plunged down the canyons into this basin to form the lake.
There is no outlet so the water has a strong concentrate of minerals, particularly salt. The minerals are picked up in the canyons and carried in solution by the water. Evaporation keeps removing the water, and the mineral content continues to increase. It is not a fresh water lake because there is no outlet.
We cannot continue to have an experience of abundant life if the channel is closed and we have no outlet. It takes the overflow to keep the current moving and fresh supplies coming in.
Homer Rodeheaver tells the story of a union prayer meeting that he attended in Kentucky. They were having a testimony meeting. A Holiness sister stood up to speak and told about her experience. She said, “Thirty-five years ago I was saved and sanctified and God filled my cup full and running over” and jumped and shouted praises to God. “Thank God through the years he has kept me, and tonight my cup‘s full and running over.”
When she sat down a good old Methodist brother stood up and said, “Thank the Lord, thirty years ago God saved me. And like it was with the sister my cup was full and ran over. I shouted praises to God. Since then sometimes my cup has been half full and sometimes it’s been empty and I’ve been backslidden, but thank God tonight my cup’s full.” And he sat down.
A Presbyterian brother stood up and said, “The Lord saved me thirty-five years ago and when he did he filled my cup two-thirds full. It’s been two-thirds full ever since and it’s two-thirds full tonight.” And he sat down.
An old backslider in the back of the building stood up, pulled a dollar bill out of his pocket and said, “I betcha a dollar bill that cup of yours has wiggle-tails in it.”
There is one thing sure if our religious experience doesn’t have an outlet it will soon lose its freshness and there will be creeping things in our life of which we’ll be ashamed. We won’t dare look inside. We need an overflowing experience to keep the freshness and radiance of God’s presence in our lives. Some people’s experience went stale on them twenty years ago. They are sour and critical! They are also unfruitful and unhappy.
THREE KINDS OF PROFESSORS
Out in Southern California near my home is found one of the largest oil fields in the world. This great cluster of wells and derricks is situated just south of Whittier and is known as the Sante Fe Oil Fields. They tell me there are three kinds of wells there.
In some instances they drilled down several thousand feet and didn’t find a trace of oil. They pulled their machinery, capped the casing, and moved on be-cause it was what they called a “dry hole.” In other instances they drilled down several hundred feet and struck sand, which contains oil, and by the installation of pumping machinery they pumped the oil to the surface from which it was piped to the storage tank.
In still other instances they drilled down until they struck shale or stone. When they broke through the thickness of it the pressure of gas and oil was so great that it gushed up to the surface and flood-ed the ground. It was another “gusher.”
I think these kinds of wells illustrate the kinds of professors of religion that we find in the world. There are those who profess to be Christians but there cannot be found a trace of the grace of God. Their lives are empty professions.
There are others who profess to be Christians and they have some of the grace of God in their lives, but it has to be primed and pumped to be seen. Then there are others who have found a “gusher” experience. They are living out of the overflow of God’s abundance.
I am convinced that abundant living is the kind of life God has planned for us. The scriptures bear this out. The twenty-third Psalm is a picture of the “overflow life.” The Lord is My Shepherd I shall not want,” is an expression which indicates God has satisfied our needs.
“He maketh me to lie down in green pastures” indicates that the sheep ate until he was full and there was more green pasture left. “Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemy’s” shows that the man of God prospers despite ill wishes of those who hate him. “My cup runneth over is a picture of overflow.”
Malachi gives us the picture also,
“Bring ye the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food
in my house, and prove me now herewith, saith Jehovah of Hosts, if I will
not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that
there shall not be room enough to receive it” (Malachi 3:10, emphasis added).
The indication here is that we’ll receive a blessing that there shall not be enough
(room) to receive which simply means some will spill, over the top. There will be an overflow.
Then Jesus makes it plain when he said, “He that believeth on me as the scripture saith, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water “ (John 7:38, emphasis added).
This clinches the fact. Flowing out of the heart of God and into the life of man is God’s stream of living water.
Man is the channel and the river of living water flows out to bless and bring life to others. We live out of the overflow.
We need the experience first of all for personal victory. The temptations, battles, problems of life are so great that the only way we can be sure of personal victory is through the grace of God. The way to face all of these difficulties is by the grace that God has so freely given us.’
Actually Jesus met temptation through the power of the Holy Spirit. “And Jesus, being full of the Holy Spirit, returned from Jordan, and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness” (Luke 4:1, emphasis added). There you remember Satan tempted him.
After going through a series of tests he “returned in the power of the Spirit into Galilee.” The temptations could not choke the flow of power through the Spirit.
Most of us, after a series of trials like that, would murmur and complain about the terrible time we had been having. The reason is because we have not learned the secret of the overflow. Our lives are like cisterns that hold a certain measure and when that is gone we are stranded. Our lives are channels and the more we need the more we can have as long as we keep the stream flowing.
An old brother testified, saying, “I want religion like a Malley engine. A Malley engine can pull a long loaded freight train up a hard grade and still have enough steam left to blow its whistle. I want religion like that. I want to be able to go through the hardest trial and still have enough grace left after its over to shout “Praise God!”
That is what God plans to do for us. He wants to give us enough for victory and some to spare. Paul said, “That is, we have the grace to conquer but we have more grace than that. We have some to spare. The overflow life is needed for our personal victory. It guarantees sufficient grace for any need that arises.
But we need the overflow for an-other reason. It takes the overflow to win souls. Only that which we can spare will be a blessing to others. When we face a test we use a portion of God’s grace to conquer it. That portion will never do good to anyone else. It has benefited us and us alone. If that is all the grace we have we’ll never be able to help others.
It takes the overflow to provide a surplus to share with others. That is what living out of the overflow means. It means, ‘receiving the Grace of God and sharing with others.’ “Freely have ye received freely give.”
When Peter and John went to the temple to pray, they were stopped by a beggar and asked for alms. Peter didn’t have any money, but he was full of the Holy Ghost so he gave what he had and the man was made whole. Peter had an overflow.
The Malley engine that was mentioned before is a very heavy piece of machinery. I think it weighs over four hundred tons. It takes a lot of power to turn its own wheels and propel its own weight. Suppose it had steam capacity enough to move its own weight but no more.
If that were true, it wouldn’t be worth any more than its weight in scrap iron. But because it has a great surplus of power capacity, it is one of the important aids in the commerce and transportation facilities of our nation. It is the overflow that gives it value.
Religion is an overflow of the redemptive grace of God into our lives. But we must keep it flowing or we lose its benefit. Jesus speaks of going the second mile. Religion is the ability to go beyond that which is required. It is required that we live clean lives, and that we be exemplary in all our conduct. But Christ gives us grace to go beyond that. He helps us to love our enemies, pray for them who persecute us, and do good to them who despitefully treat us. That type of conduct becomes the strongest appeal of the Christian’s religious life.
God is calling us to live out of the overflow of the abundance of His love, grace, joy, and happiness. He is calling us to live an abundant life.
A STRANGE CONDITION
The surprising thing about the whole religious world is the strange absence of the abundant life. Individuals here and there have found the secret, but few groups are living it. Many churches are formal, cold, dry, lifeless, and loveless. Instead of being a place of warm nurture to develop radiant Christians who know how to live victorious lives, the average congregation is like a storage plant designed to keep life in the form of a traditional standard.
The cold. formal churches of today can neither produce nor develop life. It takes a warm incubator to produce growth and development of babies. A refrigerator is used to preserve dead things. It has to be cold to prevent them from spoiling.
This spiritual condition in the churches has cheated many fine people from living the way God planned for them to live. People have had the idea that religion is something you get and keep. They have put the most of their life into trying to keep their experience of religion. They think of it as something, which must be carefully guarded, or it may be lost. Their “grace of God” is measured out carefully lest they run out. Their religion is almost as bad as wartime rationing.
The prophet said He would turn into your hearts “the abundance of the sea.” The picture there is that of an unlimited supply coming like a roaring breaker against the beach. Most of us have lived as if we had to skimp or we would not get by. Actually, we have been just getting by and we have minimized the greatness of the grace of God.
A friend of mine, when he was a boy of twelve went with his family to the seashore in Southern California for the first time. He walked down to the water’s edge and looked across to Catalina Island. After a long minute he turned to his folks and said, “well, it’s pretty big, but it ain’t as big as I thought it was!”
A lot of us have thought of God’s grace like that. We know God is great. We know He has much power, but we are afraid it might run out before the end so we are very careful. The fact my friend overlooked was that a few miles across Catalina Island was some more of the Pacific Ocean.
You can go a thousand miles, another thousand, another thousand and another thousand and you will be getting near to the Hawaii Islands. Then you can go several thousand more and it is still ocean. The Pacific Ocean is much bigger than you might think. So is the love of God. It is an unlimited supply.
One of the sons in the story of the prodigals said, “You never gavest me a kid that I might make merry with my friends.’ A lot of our experiences are similar to this elder son. We have served the Lord many years, but we have never received the sense of son-ship. We have lived with less than God has planned for us. We have fretted against the feeling of frustration and the thought that we are being cheated of something.
We don’t need to be that way, and the answer of the Father to his son reveals why He said, “Son, - - - all that I have is thine.” He could have had a kid any time he wanted it. And we can have the fullness of God any time we want it. Through the abundance of God we can live out of the overflow.
This is walkingwithwarner.blogspot.com
thankful for the abundance of overflowing grace.