Thursday, November 27, 2014

Devotion Requires Endurance / "Baptism"

God promises to draw near to all who desire to draw close to Him.
James 4:8 reads;
"Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded."
James includes within that verse, what is required along with our desire.
To "wash our hands" and "purify our hearts". This refers to bringing our deeds into conformity to the teachings of Christ, and doing so from the heart, which is a condition we can ask God for (Ps.51:10; 24:4; Eze.36:26; Deut.30:6; Luke10:27).
God is the refiner of hearts (Prov.17:3; Mal.3:3; Zech.13:9), and can make it pure with His spirit (Rom.2:29; Col.2:11; Phil.3:3).
But note what we must contribute in this regard.
James refers to it when he says, "you double-minded".
This refers to the first command, which tells us that we must love God with our whole soul, strength, and mind (Mark12:29,30).
We all start out from a place where we have other loves, which compete with our love of God (1John2:15; Matt.6:24)...keeping our devotion to God, ambivalent (Luke9:62; Phil.3:13). Our devotion to God is then divided.... "double-minded".
As Jesus told us, if something within our heart is holding us back, it is better to cut it out, then to lose out on life (Matt.18:9).

This is the meaning of baptism (1Pet.3:21). It is for repentance of your former course...a symbol of being washed clean of it, and leaving your former life and desires, behind (1Pet.1:14,15; Eph.4:22,23; Acts22:16; 1John3:9; 5:18).
Coming up from the water is a symbol of starting a new life (Acts5:20; Rom.6:4)...
a life lived for Christ and the Will of God (1Pet.4:2; 2Cor.5:15; Matt.28:19,20; 1John2:17).
This life never ends (John11:26; 6:47; 8:51), but is generated from Holy Spirit (Rom.8:11; John5:21; Gal.6:8), which gives life within our mortal bodies, and eternity to our souls (John6:63; Rom.8:2,11; 1Pet.1:23; Luke8:11).
The actual baptismal "water" which washes us, and the "seed" which gives us life, is the Word of God (Eph.5:26; John15:3; 17:17; James1:18).
We accept God's Truths into our heart as the good ground accepts fine seed (James1:21; Luke8:15), and we cultivate it within us, daily striving to care for and water it. We feel it grow stronger, until we reach the full stature of Christ (Matt.13:8; John12:24; 1Cor.15:36; Col.3:3,5; Rom.8:13; Gal.4:19; Eph.4:13; Phil.1:6).

This means eternal life to all... both chosen and not.
This is the essence of baptism, which is only a physical symbol.
John the Baptist performed it in symbol of repentance among the Jews (Mark1:4).
Jesus commanded it as a symbol of salvation from the crooked and twisted generation, attained by means of his commands, centrally being, to love (Matt.28:19,20; John13:34).
Remember that John the Baptist told those he baptized...
"I baptize you with water, but he who follows me will baptize with spirit and fire." (Luke3:16)
This baptism by the anointing "oil" of God's spirit (Luke4:18; Acts10:38)
and of a purifying crucible of torment, persecution and affliction (1Pet.4:1; Isa.48:10; Mal.3:2,3);
(as well as the purification by God's Word -Jer.23:29; John15:3)
is for those elected to be heirs, but Luke3:16 points to whose baptism has more force.
If we are on a path that imitates Christ in these two "baptisms", this is our new life... and it is not about physical water.

God does not reproach a sincere heart (James1:5; Isa.42:3; 2Chron.16:9 A).
He has His eye upon those of complete heart, and has a purpose for them. We let Him guide us on the road of life. Be sensitive to His spirit, and let go of your own goals. Obey His direction, and become like a child who trusts his father. Let Him lead the way. He loves you more than we humans can imagine.
Shake off the dead dust of false prophets from off you, and go forward to greater light. Do not be anxious. Persevere toward the Kingdom, free of the past. God is coming with retribution for those who exploited and tormented those searching for the way. Be comforted.

Often... God's undeserved kindness is sufficient for us (2Cor.12:9,10; 1Cor.10:13). During this time of test, we may not receive all we wish from Him, because it is a time of testing by Satan.
Remember that Jesus asked, while on the torture stake, "My God, my God, Why have you abandoned me?" (Matt.27:46)
This teaches us, that it may seem as if God is not with us. This is not true, just as it was not true of Jesus. The reason we may feel this way, is because God knows that we must reach a point where we are faithful by our own choice, integrity, and resolve. Satan demands it, just as he did with Job (Job 1:8,9,10,11,12; Rev.12:10-11; 1John2:13-14).
Can you see that if God carried us through our testing period, it would be cheating?
So do not feel that God is not answering your own prayers. He hears them. He is protecting us from more than we can deal with (1Cor.10:13).
The rest, is now up to each of us.
If we look at Rev.19:8, we learn that we must prove faithful on our own merit. At the same time, we give all glory to God for our endurance. It is due to His training, that we become firm and strong (1Pet.5:10; James1:3). Only those called ones who finish the "race" with their tested integrity intact, will inherit the blessings God has promised (2Cor.4:17; 2Pet.1:3; 1Cor.1:7,8,9; 1Thess.2:12; Heb.6:11,12; Prov.12:24; Mark 13:13; Isa.65:22).

When this is all over, God will be free to lavish upon us, blessings beyond our imagination (1Cor.2:9).
For now, we are in a spiritual wilderness, with all it's perils (Matt.4:1; Luke22:31). But we are not alone (Matt.28:20; 18:20). There is God's "pillar" of "fire" and "cloud" (Ps.68:7; 105:39; Neh.9:12; Jer.23:29; Rev.19:13,14; 1:7; Heb.12:1; Isa.4:5,6; Rev.14:1). God, through his Temple, will guide us (1Cor.3:16; Rom.8:4,14; Gal.5:16,25; Rev.22:2; Eze.36:8; 17:23), and we also have each other (1Thess.5:11). That is a lot... enough to be successful (Prov.3:6; Josh.1:8; Deut.6:6,8).
...successful enough to make it home (Heb.13:14; 11:10,16; 2Pet.3:13; Ps.37:29; Phil.3:14).
(Rev.14:12; Heb.6:12) (holy-city)

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