THE STEEL AND CONCRETE MISSION FIELD NEWSLETTER December 1999
"IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE"
INGRATE HYPOCRITE ~ ME?
by Bro. Gregory Wamsley
This time of year, my mind is filled with many thoughts, two of which are stated in the title above. I have just finished watching the great American movie classic, "It's a Wonderful Life." This movie brings to mind the hedonism and hypocrisy of the world and of myself during this season. This same movie still brings tears to my eyes and is one which I truly enjoy watching over and over again despite its three glaring Biblical errors:
1. Bells ringing have nothing to do with angels getting wings they already have.
2. Angels don't earn their wings; those that have them were created with them.
3. As crucial and enriching as friends are, true joy, happiness, peace and love come only from God.
Outside of these errors, the movie story is still very profound. In all our lives, the similarities exist. We often allow trials and tribulations to be mixed with Satan's lies. Unfortunately, I've entertained those same lies which said, "Life is hard," "I have nothing," "I'm not worth anything," and, to quote George Bailey, "I'm worth more dead than alive." Lies, Lies, LIES! These all come from Satan, the devil, himself, who Christ calls "the Father of Lies" in John 8:44.
Many times I have reached the bottom of the barrel in my life and I can relate to George Bailey. Like him, no doubt my disobedience to God's and man's laws and my own actions have made my "walk" not match my "talk," giving me my self-imposed title of "Ingrate Hypocrite." I know that in "Christian circles," the word hypocrite is looked on as a form of "four-lettered " word. It often strikes an acid-type response from believers. I realize you might think the title phrase, "Ingrate Hypocrite," is one that doesn't fit me. On a closer look, maybe you wouldn't be so sure. The word "Ingrate" simply means ungrateful or unthankful. The word "Hypocrite" is defined as one who "gives the false appearance of qualities and/or beliefs that they don't possess or represent." Hypocrisy can be a pretense of devotion to God.
I put a question mark after the word "Me" because, although I am speaking to you, I'm speaking of myself and my words might apply to someone else as well. In reflection of my walk with Christ this past year, I can only say "Thank God for grace." It's my job to remember that it's Satan's job to keep us from God's will. As long as we die to self and submit to God's will, Satan will be unsuccessful. I've found it easy to justify or minimize my acts of disobedience, but the Word of God speaks of disobedience (Rebellion) as the sin of Witchcraft (1st Samuel 15:23).
There is no big or little rebellion, no big or little disobedience, and no big or little sin. In God's eyes, sin is sin. I ask God to keep me mindful of, and to count the cost, that one can be very "religious" but very lost. Our true nature outside of salvation cannot be changed by changing churches or denominations, but by changing our position in God, putting on Christ's blood with forgiveness and salvation.
God has always given us the gift of wisdom in His written Word (Christ) by His Spirit's leading. Often, if we allow him, Satan will be the static which clouds God's message. "We get the Gift of Dignity when we die to self for Deity." George Bailey learned that lesson the hard way, as have I. God's own Word tells us that sweet and bitter water cannot flow from the same well (James 3:11) and I cannot talk like a Christian on Sunday and curse or lie like a sinner Monday through Saturday. One cannot say "No!" to Satan without saying "Yes!" to God. Play-acting is hypocritical. I never want to be a modern-day Pharisee. In Acts 19:15-16, two professing men were approached by an evil spirit that tested their talk against their walk. They said, "Jesus I know and Paul I know, but who are you?" That evil spirit attacked those men and ran them off naked and wounded. I wonder how my life's walk and talk would have passed that test. Often, I check myself, looking for the manifestation of that "Servant Spirit" Christ spoke of. Christ washed his brothers' feet in an example of servitude. Do I? He fasted and prayed for His enemies. Do I? He died to self and said, "Father, yet not my will but thine will be done." Do we?
While away from family and loved ones,
or even in a prison cell,
God has given us everything we need
and given it well.
While others focus
on all the gifts they didn't get,
I focus instead on the first "Christmas Gift,"
God's only Son, Jesus Christ.
He hasn't failed me yet.
No materialistic gift under your tree can guarantee,
it won't assure you hope, peace, joy,
a faithful spouse or obedient child, you see.
You cannot trade it for a speck of salvation
or a second in heaven for all eternity.
There is, however, that one gift, already mentioned,
that was not wrapped in pretty paper or placed under the tree,
but wrapped in the sin of the world
and hung upon that tree to die for you and me.
This gift, though given by God long ago with glee,
is still offered today for the lost.
If they just accept it, though priceless, it's free.
This year, like those in the past, I'll have no Christmas tree and I won't be allowed to hang a single Christmas light. But that's OK, because in my Spirit God's holy light shines bright. I believe God does not care how much we know until he knows how much we care. May we always go to him with our problems because He is always there. It is a wonderful life, in Christ.
If I never again, as I grow and become old, get another wrapped present, see blinking lights, tinsel, and garlands of silver or gold, I'll not be unthankful for God's perfect gift. I'll not act disobedient or be called an "Ingrate Hypocrite."
The 23rd Psalm ~ An Essay
by Barbara Timm
"The Lord is my shepherd;
I shall not want.
The great "I Am That I Am," who is Alpha and Omega, the creator of the universe, does not consider Himself so grand that He cannot be our Yahweh-Raah (Rohi), "The Lord My Shepherd." He has compassion for us, His creation, and His desire is for us to commune with Him. His love for us is so deep that He left His magnificence in the heavenly places so He could come to earth as a man, to give Himself to us as Yahweh-Jireh, "The Lord Will Provide."
"He maketh me to lie down in green pastures; He leadeth me beside the still waters."
Adonai, our Lord and Master, is Yahweh-Shalom, "The Lord is Peace." He provides a place of rest for us and then bends our knees and lowers our eyelids so we may gratefully sink into His plans for us and rest, undisturbed, in Him. In the middle of a wicked world of lust and hate, of greed and death, He provides us with the still waters of His Word to nourish our souls.
"He restoreth my soul;
He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness
for His name's sake."
The Most High God, El Elyon, is Yahweh-Tsidkenu, "The Lord Our Righteousness." He insists that we be holy as He is holy, but we, carrying the sin nature within our fleshly bodies, are helplessly unable to make ourselves holy. We must rely on Yahweh-Mekaddishkem, "The Lord who Sanctifies You," to accomplish His work in us.
"Yea, though I walk through the
valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil; for Thou art with me:
Thy rod and Thy staff they comfort me."
Yahweh-M'kaddesh, "The Lord Our Light," illumines our way with the knowledge of His Word. No evil can cause us to fear when we walk in the presence of Yahweh-Shammah, "The Lord is There." Not even pondering the deaths of our own fleshly bodies can make us afraid if we are in Him and He is in us. He is Elokim, God and Creator, who has all our tomorrows in His hand. When we trust that He has plotted our destinies, our desire is to follow His commands.
"Thou preparest a table before me
in the presence of mine enemies:
Thou anointest my head with oil;
my cup runneth over."
El Shaddai, Almighty God, displays His power and promise to all who do not worship Him. In the presence of sinners Yahweh-Nissi, "The Lord My Banner," seats His beloved children at banquet tables, under His royal protection, to feast on His peace and joy. As the earthly shepherd anoints His flock to heal their injuries and protect them from insects, Yahweh-Rapha (Rophe), "The Lord Our Healer," anoints us with His love, restoring our child-like faith and innocence.
"Surely goodness and mercy
shall follow me all the days of my life;
and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever."
Our God El Olam, Everlasting God, remains faithful to us. His promises do not change. If we are faithful to the end, we will enjoy the bliss of eternity, forever with our beloved Yahweh-Sabaoth, "The Lord of Hosts."