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Bittersweet Refinements: A Warning Of Sorts

Posted by Jerry E Beuterbaugh Labels: ,


A Warning of Sorts
And the voice which I heard from heaven, I heard again speaking with me, and saying, “Go, take the book which is open in the hand of the angel who stands on the sea and on the land.”  And I went to the angel, telling him to give me the little book.  And he said to me, “Take it, and eat it; and it will make your stomach bitter, but in your mouth it will be sweet as honey.”  And I took the book out of the angel’s hand and ate it, and it was in my mouth sweet as honey; and when I had eaten it, my stomach was made bitter.  And they said to me, “You must prophesy again concerning many peoples and nations and tongues and kings.” [Revelation 10:8-11 NAS]

Be forewarned that there is much about what I have been given to say that the more devoutly religious will undoubtedly find quite bitter.  For it is meant to help refine what was started with the Reformation, and it calls into question many of the things that far too many want to have great faith in.
Nonetheless, be assured that there is also much about what I have been given to say that those who hunger and thirst for something more will find oh so very sweet.  For it is also meant to help clear up much of the confusion that now exists concerning our Heavenly Father and the righteousness of all of His most awesome ways, and it provides answers to many questions—especially in regards to what this world and our existences are really all about.

In other words, this is meant to help clear away much of the “stuff” that makes it impossible to truly have a very close and personal relationship with our Heavenly Father.  For what He actually says is absolutely true about Himself and the righteousness of all of His most awesome ways is quite contrary to what far too many have been led to believe.
No, this is not meant for everyone at this time.  For it all depends upon what our Heavenly Father wants to accomplish in and through someone that determines when (and to what extent) He will allow and enable them to enter into His absolute Truth.

It is meant for a great many more than are willing to accept it, however.  For there is a big difference between knowing about someone and actually knowing them, and the absolute truth of the matter truly is that most who openly profess to know our Heavenly Father well enough merely have a semblance of knowledge about Him, which is not nearly enough to satisfy His desire.

Yes, it may all be just some more incoherent ranting and raving from another self-anointed apostle of Christ Jesus.  For similar things have been said by others who will ultimately come to nothing.

On the other hand, does this not present you with a unique opportunity to serve even if that is true?  For how can anyone honestly believe that they are being guided by the love of God if they could not care less about the spiritual welfare of someone so obviously deceived?

“And to the angel of the church in Laodicea write: The Amen, the faithful and true Witness, the Beginning of the creation of God, says this: I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot; I would that you were cold or hot.  So because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of My mouth.  Because you say, “I am rich, and have become wealthy, and have need of nothing,” and you do not know that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked, I advise you to buy from Me gold refined by fire, that you may become rich, and white garments, that you may clothe yourself, and that the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed; and eye salve to anoint your eyes, that you may see.  Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline; be zealous therefore, and repent.  Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him, and will dine with him, and he with Me.  He who overcomes, I will grant to him to sit down with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne.  He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”


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Bittersweet Refinements: Chapter I

Posted by Jerry E Beuterbaugh Labels: ,

Chapter I
In the Beginning
IN THE beginning God created the heavens and the earth.

No, it is not that there is a whole lot of confusion in the Christian community about where everything has come from.  For aside from there being a few debates on just how He actually did certain things, there is little disagreement over our Heavenly Father truly being the Creator of all that exists apart from Himself [Colossians 1:16].

It is a different story in regards to what happened in the days soon after He placed Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, however.  For almost all of the doctrines of almost all of the major Christian denominations are based (in one way or another) upon the premise that our Heavenly Father’s great plan went terribly awry in paradise—especially in regards to sin entering into this world [Genesis 3:1-19].

No, there are not many sermons to be found on the subject.  That is, at least not expressed in as many words.

Nonetheless, what is implied should be all too painfully clear to those who have been given ears to hear [John 6:63-65].  For it has been widely taught that it is the result of sin entering into this world that much of what has happened down through the ages was never meant to be [2 Timothy 4:2-4].

Shamefully, this even tarnishes the glory of the sacrifice that our Heavenly Father made for us.  For if sin was never meant to enter into this world, the paying of the price in full that was required for our sins was just the partial righting of what had gone wrong in the Garden of Eden instead of something that He had planned on doing since long before He created us [Revelation 13:8]!  For there would have not been any price to pay if sin had of never entered into this world [Romans 6:23].

Yes, it is good that our Creator would want to clean up His own mess.  That is, if there was one to clean up, of course [Job 34:10-15].

On the other hand, there is another little matter to consider.  For if it was possible for things to go so very wrong before—who is to say that it could not happen again?

Subsequently, if it is possible for things to go wrong again—just how secure can eternity really be for any of us [Numbers 11:23]?  So, I would think that we would desperately want to believe everything truly has been in accordance to the plan that our Heavenly Father set into motion long before He created us [Romans 11:32-36].

Of course, we could just depend upon ourselves to make the difference—right?  For it is written: This is what the LORD says: "Cursed is the one who trusts in man, who depends on flesh for his strength and whose heart turns away from the LORD.  He will be like a bush in the wastelands; he will not see prosperity when it comes.  He will dwell in the parched places of the desert, in a salt land where no one lives.  But blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD, whose confidence is in him.  He will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream.  It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green.  It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit."  The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure.  Who can understand it?  "I the LORD search the heart and examine the mind, to reward a man according to his conduct, according to what his deeds deserve." [Jeremiah 17:5-10 NIV]


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Bittersweet Refinements: Chapter II

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Chapter II
Introductions Are In Order
“Remember this, fix it in mind, take it to heart, you rebels.  Remember the former things, those of long ago; I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me.  I make known the end from the beginning, from ancient times, what is still to come.  I say: My purpose will stand, and I will do all that I please.  From the east I summon a bird of prey; from a far-off land, a man to fulfill my purpose.  What I have said, that will I bring about; what I have planned, that will I do.  Listen to me, you stubborn-hearted, you who are far from righteousness.  I am bringing my righteousness near, it is not far away; and my salvation will not be delayed.  I will grant salvation to Zion, my splendor to Israel.” [Isaiah 46:8-13 NIV]

Several years ago, our Heavenly Father spoke to me in an audible voice [Job 33:14-18].  He said, “Introduce Me [2 Corinthians 5:20].”
Oh yes, introductions are most certainly in order [Colossians 2:2-4].  For our Heavenly Father truly is the Lord God Almighty [Exodus 6:2-3], who is all-powerful (Omnipotent) [Psalms 33:6-11], all-knowing (Omniscient) [Psalms 94:11], always-present (Omnipresent) [Psalms 139:7-12] and perfect in all of His most awesome ways (Holy and Righteous) [Psalms 18:30-31].

Are not the contradictions with the way He has been so often portrayed obvious?  For with our Heavenly Father truly being all-powerful, no one could ever do anything without Him allowing and enabling them to [Job 12:13-25].  Therefore, how could Adam and Eve have eaten of the forbidden fruit in the Garden of Eden without Him letting them?

As if that was not enough, with Him truly being all-knowing, He would know all about everything that anyone would ever want to do long before they did [Isaiah 46:10].  Therefore, He would have known all about Lucifer wanting to tempt Eve to eat of the forbidden fruit long before the insidious thought ever crossed his mind.

Then there is the reality of Him actually being everywhere—all of the time [Matthew 28:18-20].  Therefore, He was actually there when it all happened.

Lastly, there is the part about Him truly being perfect in all of His most awesome ways [Deuteronomy 32:4], which brings us to the greatest contradiction of them all.  For He could not possibly be perfect in all of His most awesome ways if things really did go so terribly wrong in the beginning.

Yes, it has been widely taught that it is because of their freewill that prevented our Heavenly Father from interfering with the choice that Adam and Eve made, but was it not Him who gave them their freewill to begin with?  So, was this another mistake that He made?


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Bittersweet Refinements: Chapter III

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Chapter III
A Term of Endearment
For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship.  And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.”  The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.

Before proceeding any further, please let me explain that when I make some reference to our Heavenly Father, I am referring to not only the Lord God Almighty, but to His only begotten Son [John 1:14-18], who truly is the Lord Jesus Christ [Matthew 3:13-17], as well as His Holy Spirit [1 John 5:8].  For I most certainly do not want to add anymore to the confusion, myself.
Yes, I have been made well aware of the absolute truth of the matter truly being that they are three distinct individuals.  Well, at least in a natural sense to the extent of my understanding [John 14:20], but in a spiritual sense, our Heavenly Father is also One [Deuteronomy 6:4] and the Same [Genesis 1:26] with His only begotten Son and His Holy Spirit.

No, I cannot explain how that is possible—certainly not physiological terms.  I just know that it is indeed true through the witness of His Holy Spirit [John 16:13], and it is because of how much more intimate it is to me to refer to Him and Christ Jesus as also being my Heavenly Father that I do so.

More importantly, this is something that our Heavenly Father wants.  For we were created to have a very close and personal relationship with Him [Matthew 11:28-30], and rigid formalities get in the way of this—even when they are well intended [1 Peter 5:7].  Alas, I know that many see nothing wrong with calling their own earthly parents by their actual names when speaking to them, but does this not suggest that they consider them as being no different than everyone else?

Of course, there is something far more serious that gets in the way of us wanting to truly have a very close and personal relationship with our Heavenly Father instead of just with His only begotten Son.  For it has been widely taught that Christ Jesus stands between us and the wrath of the Lord God Almighty [Romans 1:18].

No, this is not to deny that [Isaiah 53:1-12], but the whole absolute truth of the matter truly is that Christ Jesus IS the Lord God Almighty [John 10:30]!  Furthermore, it is written: And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.  For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.  And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.  What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us?  He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?  Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies.  Who is he that condemns? Christ Jesus, who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us.  Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?  As it is written: "For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered."  No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.  For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. [Romans 8:28-39 NIV]

In other words, the wrath of the Lord God Almighty is also the wrath of the Lord Jesus Christ and His Holy Spirit.  Furthermore, the grace afforded us through the Lord Jesus Christ and His Holy Spirit is also the grace of the Lord God Almighty [Ephesians 2:8-9].

Tragically, our Heavenly Father’s Holy Spirit is generally left out of most equations.  For He is usually presented as being nothing more than merely a helper to us by those who do openly recognize His existence, but He is never considered as truly being on the same level as Christ Jesus and our Heavenly Father by most in the Christian community.

Yes, it is indeed a very great tragedy.  In fact, it will lead to the eternal doom of far too many [Matthew 12:36-37].  For it is written: “He who is not with me is against me, and he who does not gather with me scatters.  And so I tell you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven men, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven.  Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but anyone who speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come.” [Matthew 12:30-32 NIV]

It is to miss the point of truly having a very close and personal relationship with our Heavenly Father to think in terms of punishment, however.  For it is written: We have come to know and have believed the love which God has for us God is love, and the one who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.  By this, love is perfected with us, so that we may have confidence in the day of judgment; because as He is, so also are we in this world.  There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love.  We love, because He first loved us [1 John 4:16-19 NAS].


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Bittersweet Refinements: Chapter IV

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Chapter IV
A Matter of Image
Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock; over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.”  So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.

It is, above all else, because of Adam and Eve being created by our Heavenly Father that makes Him ultimately responsible for their actions—be assured..  For it would be different if He was just a superior being that came upon them after they reached sentience, and then took it upon Himself to show them and their descendants how to reach a higher plane of existence.
Many in the Christian community would argue that I have missed a critical point about our creation that changes everything.  For it is because of us being created IN HIS IMAGE that we are fully responsible for our own actions.

Methinks that they may have missed a point or two, themselves.  For a long, hard look in a mirror should serve as sufficient proof in and of itself that the image we were all created in is but a poor reflection of our Heavenly Father’s glory [1 Corinthians 3:11-12].  For who from among us (in the entire history of mankind) could have ever honestly said that they were all-powerful, or all-knowing, or always-present—let alone perfect in all of their own most awesome ways [Psalms 14:1-3]?

The counter to that is that it was not until after they had sinned that Adam and Eve’s image became tarnished, and there appears to be Biblical evidence to support this.  For it is true that our Heavenly Father considered everything He had created in the beginning as being VERY GOOD [Genesis 1:31], and we have been given written confirmation that only God is good.  For it is written: And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good except God alone.” [Mark 10:18 NAS]

However, if Adam and Eve had of been created as good as our Heavenly Father truly is, they would not have eaten of the forbidden fruit—now, would they?  For our Heavenly Father is not tempted by sin [James 1:13]!

On a related note, far too many have been led to believe just the opposite of that.  For it has been widely taught (in one way or another) that Christ Jesus was not so unlike we naturally are when He walked upon the face of this world in the flesh [John 1:14].

Much of this is based upon a misunderstanding of such passages as: But we do see Him who was made for a little while lower than the angels, namely, Jesus, because of the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor, so that by the grace of God He might taste death for everyone.  For it was fitting for Him, for whom are all things, and through whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to perfect the author of their salvation through sufferings.  For both He who sanctifies and those who are sanctified are all from one Father; for which reason He is not ashamed to call them brethren, saying, “I WILL PROCLAIM YOUR NAME TO MY BRETHREN, IN THE MIDST OF THE CONGREGATION I WILL SING YOUR PRAISE.”  And again, “I WILL PUT MY TRUST IN HIM.”  And again, “BEHOLD, I AND THE CHILDREN WHOM GOD HAS GIVEN ME.”  Therefore, since the children share in flesh and blood, He Himself likewise also partook of the same, that through death He might render powerless him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, and might free those who through fear of death were subject to slavery all their lives.  For assuredly He does not give help to angels, but He gives help to the descendant of Abraham.  Therefore, He had to be made like His brethren in all things, so that He might become a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people.  For since He Himself was tempted in that which He has suffered, He is able to come to the aid of those who are tempted. [Hebrews 2:9-18 NAS]

Yes, that does make it sound like Christ Jesus was just like we naturally are before His resurrection [Luke 24:1-8], but who from among us can honestly say that we are without sin?  For it is written: This is the message we have heard from Him and announce to you, that God is Light, and in Him there is no darkness at all.  If we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth; but if we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin.  If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us.  If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.  If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar and His word is not in us. [1 John 1:5-10 NAS]
Therefore, how can it be believed that Christ Jesus was not so unlike we naturally are?  For He was indeed completely without sin [2 Corinthians 5:18]!


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Bittersweet Refinements: Chapter V

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Chapter V
The Fall
For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.

According to religious traditions, Adam and Eve fell from our Heavenly Father’s grace when they sinned in the Garden of Eden, and it is as a result of this that we are all physically born into a fallen state of grace.  Hence, the fall of mankind.

In theological terms, the fall of mankind is called the Doctrine of Original Sin.  For it is written: Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned. [Romans 5:12 KJV]

Be assured that our Heavenly Father calls the Doctrine of Original Sin an abomination.  That is, at least in regards to the way it is presented [Jeremiah 5:21-31].  For He has made it quite clear that there is a difference between falling short of His glory and falling from His grace [Romans 5:6-11].

No, it cannot be denied that there were immediate consequences for Adam’s sin.  For it is written: To the woman he said, “I will greatly increase your pains in childbearing; with pain you will give birth to children.  Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you.”  To Adam, he said, “Because you listened to your wife and ate from the tree about which I commanded you, ‘You must not eat of it,’ “Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat of it all the days of your life.  It will produce thorns and thistles for you, and you will eat the plants of the field.  By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return.” [Genesis 3:16-19 NIV]

Neither can it be denied that there are consequences for our own sins—even when there appears to be none.  For it is written: For he who does wrong will receive the consequence of the wrong, which he has done, and that without partiality. [Colossians 3:25 NAS]

Nonetheless, has it not been made abundantly clear that Adam and Eve were still under His grace?  For it is written: The Lord God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife and clothed them. [Genesis 3:21 NIV]

Moreover, has it not been also made abundantly clear that we are all under His grace?  For it is written: For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, that no one should boast.  For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. [Ephesians 2:8-10 NAS]

No, this is not about Christian Universalism, which basically teaches that all will eventually be saved from eternal damnation.  For the grace that can be found in Christ Jesus must be actually accepted by each individual [John 3:16], but who can do that without the grace of our Heavenly Father to begin with [John 6:44-45]?

Yes, Romans 5:12 needs to be addressed before we move along.  For instead of it saying that it is through the sin of Adam in the Garden of Eden [Genesis 2:16-17] that all are automatically subject to the penalty for that sin, which is spiritual death [Romans 6:23], it is saying that spiritual death first entered into this world through his sin, which was the original one.


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Bittersweet Refinements: Chapter VI

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Chapter VI
Hide…
Truly you are a God who hides himself,
O God and Savior of Israel. [Isaiah 45:15 NIV]

It is also in accordance to religious traditions that our Heavenly Father had to remove Himself from this world after sin entered into it.  The premise for this is that He is too holy and righteous to be in the presence of sin.
Yes, that naturally makes a whole lot of sense.  For who from among us does not really mind being around someone who almost always does what is absolutely disgusting to them if they do not have to be around them for some reason or another?

There is even Scripture that appears support this [2 Timothy 3:16-17].  For it is written: The Lord is far from the wicked but he hears the prayer of the righteous. [Proverbs 15:29 NIV]

Along with: Surely the arm of the LORD is not too short to save, nor his ear too dull to hear.  But your iniquities have separated you from your God; your sins have hidden his face from you, so that he will not hear. [Isaiah 59:1-2 NIV]

As well as: Therefore, remember that formerly you who are Gentiles by birth and called "uncircumcised" by those who call themselves "the circumcision" (that done in the body by the hands of men)—remember that at that time you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world.  But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ. [Ephesians 2:11-13 NIV]

On the other hand, in order for it to be true that our Heavenly Father had to remove Himself from this world after sin entered into it, it could not be true that He is always-present.  So, could it not be that He has been merely partially hiding Himself from our sight [Romans 1:18-20]?  For it is written: Where can I go from your Spirit?  Where can I flee from your presence?  If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.  If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast.  If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me,” even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you. [Psalms 139:7-12 NIV]

Besides, if it was possible for Satan to enter into our Heavenly Father’s very presence, even while He sat upon His throne in His Kingdom of Heaven, how could it be impossible for Him to be in the presence of sin?  For who could be more of an abomination in His sight than the devil himself [Ezekiel 28:11-19]?

If you are not familiar with the account, check this out: One day the angels came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan also came with them.  The Lord said to Satan, “Where have you come from?”  Satan answered the Lord, “From roaming through the earth and going back and forth in it.”  Then the Lord said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job?  There is no one on earth like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil.”  “Does Job fear God for nothing?” Satan replied.  “Have you not put a hedge around him and his household and everything he has?  You have blessed the work of his hands, so that his flocks and herds are spread throughout the land.  But stretch out your hand and strike everything he has, and he will surely curse you to your face.”  The Lord said to Satan, “Very well, then, everything he has is in your hands, but on the man himself do not lay a finger.”  Then Satan went out from the presence of the Lord. [Job 1:6-12 NIV]
As if that was not enough [Romans 15:4], it happened again: On another day the angels came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan also came with them to present himself before him.  And the Lord said to Satan, “Where have you come from?”  Satan answered the Lord, “From roaming through the earth and going back and forth in it.”  Then the Lord said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job?  There is no one on earth like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil.  And he still maintains his integrity, though you incited me against him to ruin him without any reason.”  “Skin for skin!” Satan replied.  “A man will give all he has for his own life.  But stretch out your hand and strike his flesh and bones, and he will surely curse you to your face.”  The Lord said to Satan, “Very well, then, he is in your hands; but you must spare his life.”  So Satan went out from the presence of the Lord and afflicted Job with painful sores from the soles of his feet to the top of his head. [Job 2:1-7 NIV]

Yes, it is argued that the Old Testament Book of Job is actually nothing more than merely a parable instead of a true account of something that really happened [2 Peter 1:20-2:3], but what about when Satan tempted Christ Jesus in the wilderness?  For it is written: Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted by the devil.  After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry.  The tempter came to him and said, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.”  Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”  Then the devil took him to the holy city and had him stand on the highest point of the temple.  “If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down. For it is written: “‘He will command his angels concerning you, and they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.’”  Jesus answered him, “It is also written: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’”  Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor.  “All this I will give you,” he said, “if you will bow down and worship me.”  Jesus said to him, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.’”  Then the devil left him, and angels came and attended him. [Matthew 4:1-11 NIV]

Of course, it could also be argued that when Satan tempted Him, Christ Jesus was merely a man—not so unlike we naturally are, but who in their right-mind would want to believe that this is indeed true [Matthew 8:23-27]?  For it is written: “If you love me, you will obey what I command.  And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever—the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you.  I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.  Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live.  On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you.” [John 14:15-20 NIV]


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Bittersweet Refinements: Chapter VII

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Chapter VII
And Go Seek
“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.  For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.  Which of you, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone?  Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake?  If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!” [Matthew 7:7-11 NIV]

It is quite natural to think of other things, but be assured that the greatest gift that our Heavenly Father has to offer at this time is a very close and personal relationship with Himself.  For it is written: “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal.  But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.  For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.  The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are good, your whole body will be full of light.  But if your eyes are bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness!  No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money.  Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes?  Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?  Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?  And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin.  Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these.  If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?  So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?’  For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them.  But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.  Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” [Matthew 6:19-34 NIV]

No, this is not to discount the immeasurable value of the gift of eternal spiritual life [Ephesians 2:8-10], but the point that keeps getting missed at best, and ignored at worst [1 Timothy 1:5-11], is the very close and personal relationship that we were all created to have with our Heavenly Father.  For it is written: For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you have need again for someone to teach you the elementary principles of the oracles of God, and you have come to need milk and not solid food.  For everyone who partakes only of milk is not accustomed to the word of righteousness, for he is an infant.  But solid food is for the mature, who because of practice have their senses trained to discern good and evil.  Therefore leaving the elementary teaching about the Christ, let us press on to maturity, not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God, of instruction about washings and laying on of hands, and the resurrection of the dead and eternal judgment.  And this we will do, if God permits. [Hebrews 5:12-6:3 NAS]

Yes, it is true that what we can have in this world is just a foretaste of what it will be like in our Heavenly Father’s Kingdom of Heaven [1 Corinthians 13:9-10], but if it is indeed true that His Holy Spirit truly lives within the hearts and minds of His children by faith, how can we not have so much more than what most have been led to believe [2 Corinthians 1:21-22]?  For it is written: For the love of Christ controls us, having concluded this, that one died for all, therefore all died; and He died for all, that they who live should no longer live for themselves, but for Him who died and rose again on their behalf.  Therefore from now on we recognize no man according to the flesh; even though we have known Christ according to the flesh, yet now, we know Him thus no longer.  Therefore if any man is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come. [2 Corinthians 5:14-17 NAS]

Although it is really nothing new [Ecclesiastes 1:9-11], a lot has been made of seekers lately.  In fact, many churches now advertise that they are seeker friendly.

Oh yes, it sounds oh so very exciting—especially to those who hope to see a great revival sweep across this troubled land [2 Chronicles 7:14], but the trouble with far too many seekers is that this is who they are.  For it is written: If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.  But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.  That man should not think he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all he does. [James 1:5-8 NIV]

In other words, seekers seek, and far too many of them do not have any expectation of ever finding anything.  For if they did, they would no longer be seekers, and it is in this respect that they are actually nothing more than doubters.

Alas, that sounded so very harsh and unrighteous [James 2:12-13], but it still needed to be said.  For it is written: First of all, you must understand that in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires.  They will say, “Where is this 'coming' he promised? Ever since our fathers died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation.”  But they deliberately forget that long ago by God's word the heavens existed and the earth was formed out of water and by water.  By these waters also the world of that time was deluged and destroyed.  By the same word the present heavens and earth are reserved for fire, being kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men.  But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day.  The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.  But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything in it will be laid bare.  Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming.  That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat.  But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, the home of righteousness.  So then, dear friends, since you are looking forward to this, make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with him.  Bear in mind that our Lord's patience means salvation, just as our dear brother Paul also wrote you with the wisdom that God gave him.  He writes the same way in all his letters, speaking in them of these matters. His letters contain some things that are hard to understand, which ignorant and unstable people distort, as they do the other Scriptures, to their own destruction.  Therefore, dear friends, since you already know this, be on your guard so that you may not be carried away by the error of lawless men and fall from your secure position.  But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever! Amen. [2 Peter 3:3-18 NIV]

Yes, it would be different if our Heavenly Father really is rather hard to find, but He is not.  For it is written: “I revealed myself to those who did not ask for me; I was found by those who did not seek me.  To a nation that did not call on my name, I said, ‘Here am I, here am I.’  All day long I have held out my hands to an obstinate people, who walk in ways not good, pursuing their own imaginations.” [Isaiah 65:1-2 NIV]

Be assured that 2 Peter 3:3-18 applies as much to the other side of the seeker coin as it does to those who refuse to “find” our Heavenly Father.  For far too many in the Christian community are quite content with what they think they already have [1 Corinthians 12:27-13:13].

Furthermore, many “Christian” leaders have made a very good living out of encouraging the members of their congregations to be quite content with what they have.  For it is written: But realize this, that in the last days difficult times will come.  For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, haters of good, treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power; and avoid such men as these.  For among them are those who enter into households and captivate weak women weighed down with sins, led on by various impulses, always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth. [2 Timothy 3:1-7 NAS]

No, this is not to deny that when you have Christ Jesus, you have it all.  MAY IT NEVER BE!  For as it was with the Apostle Paul, so is it also with me—even now in this day and age of post-modern sophistication.  For it is written: My purpose is that they may be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.  I tell you this so that no one may deceive you by fine-sounding arguments. [Colossians 2:2-4 NIV]

It is just that far too many in the Christian community do not have any idea what it really means to truly be in Christ.  Do you [Hebrews 12:6]?


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