STEEL AND CONCRETE, February 2001
THE STEEL AND CONCRETE
MISSION FIELD NEWSLETTER
~ GOOD NEWS ~
by Bro. Gregory Wamsley
One of the most difficult things in life was having to face a judge in the court of law. I am often approached by people who have such pride in themselves for "having never have committed a crime against society" nor having to face "society's judge in a court of law." I recently appeared in front of my original sentencing judge after 16 years. Time, in the physical sense, seemed to have stood still. My victims, their family and friends, as well as my family and friends, had to relive the past as the state's attorney narrated my sins and crimes for all to hear. I can't put into words the degree of remorse, sorrow, and humiliation I felt that day. The judge confirmed what may be my mortal fate as he gave his answer that my sentence wouldn't be reduced. Needless to say, enduring that ordeal wasn't pleasant, and I can think of no one who would want to face the same.
Upon return to the institution and my cell, I began to reflect on the day's earlier event. Soon, my thoughts switched from self to sympathy for others. I am so thankful to God that my appearances before society's courts will be the only punishment from judges I'll ever have to see. Often, people live "good lives" in that they remain crime-free and acceptable in society's eyes. For the most part, people go about their lives unaware of the greater crimes they have actually committed, unaware of the greater Judge they will face, and a far more serious court date and death sentence already set for them. Trust me, society's judgment (man-given judgment) is bad enough, but I tell you that "THE JUDGMENT" (God's judgment for the unsaved) will be far worse! What if, before my sentencing judge that day, everyone I had ever hated, wished ill against, or hurt, were permitted to take the bench and administer their own personal verdict upon me? No doubt that would have been worse than what I faced in front of that one man. The Bible says that God the Son paid the price for all sin and crime, past, present and future, with his holy blood. That makes our ultimate victim God himself.
David said: "Against You, You only, have I sinned, And done this evil in Your sight – That You may be found just when You speak, And blameless when You judge" (Psalm 51:4), and "Let the heavens declare His righteousness, For God Himself is Judge. Selah" (Psalm 50:6).
Also in the Bible, Abraham calls the Lord, ". . . The Judge of all the earth . . ." (Genesis 18:25).
I went seeking the judge's favor, but the Word of God says: "Many seek the ruler's favor, But justice for man comes from the Lord" (Proverbs 29:26), and "For the Father judges no one, but has committed all judgment to the Son, that all should honor the Son just as they honor the Father. He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent Him" (John 5:22).
Many people fear the human judges of this world and yet ignore "THE JUDGE" (Jesus), whom they'll all face one day. God's Word goes on to say: "And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment, so Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many. To those who eagerly wait for Him He will appear a second time, apart from sin, for salvation" (Hebrews 9:27-28).
In the book of Revelation, chapter 20, verses 10-15, it speaks of the Great White Throne Judgment that all unsaved people will face. People talk about sins and crimes, but there is no greater sin or crime in God's eyes than refusing to accept his own Son's death as the propitiation (penalty replacement) for all our sins, since Christ died for every sin anyone ever committed, be it in the past, present, or the future. Imagine knowing that your sins sent Christ to the cross and imagine having to face Him, looking upon His nail-scarred body, while awaiting the judgment and verdict for the death of God's only Son. The Bible tells us that if you are not saved that is exactly what will happen one day. I personally never want to have to face Christ as my Judge.
Man can sentence a man to the rest of his physical life in prison, but upon the death of the criminal, the sentence ends. "For the wages of sin is death. . ." (Romans 6:23). However, if one dies unsaved in their sins, the wages of that act will be an eternal death sentence. That sentence, called the "second death," is eternal separation from God, without end in the lake of fire, forever and ever. (See Revelation 20:10-15).
I'm very thankful for God's gift of His very own Son's death on the cross. His death and the blood He shed paid the price for all my sins and all the crimes I ever committed. For the unsaved, Jesus will be a judge. For the saved, He will be our defense: "But the Lord has been my defense, And my God the rock of my refuge" (Psalm 94:22).
On my recent court day, I was thankful most of all for the opportunity to witness and testify for Christ and to have ". . .confessed the good confession in the presence of many witnesses" (1 Timothy 6:12b).
All who wish to never appear before Judge Jesus in the "Great White Throne" day of judgment for all the sins and/or crimes they have committed need only to heed the words of Christ himself:
"Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life" (John 5:24).
God's Word is very clear. Come that day when you enter into the heavens, will you be there to greet Christ your Savior and Defense, or will you be there to face Christ, "The Judge?"
If you have never accepted Jesus Christ as your Savior and Lord, in prayer plead the Gospel truth that you cannot save yourself and you must confess to Him that you are a sinner and are in need of a Savior. Accept him into your heart as Savior and Lord. Christ commands that one must repent from their sins. Read his word (the Bible) and learn of the NEW BIRTH you'll be given in Christ Jesus. "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved. . ." (Acts 16:31).
"PUSHING AGAINST THE ROCK"
Submitted by Sister Phyllis Freburger
There was a man who was asleep one night in his cabin when suddenly his room was filled with light and the savior appeared. The Lord told the man he had work for him to do, and showed him a large rock in front of his cabin. The Lord explained that the man was to push against the rock with all his might. The man did, day after day. For many years he toiled from sun up to sun down, his shoulders set squarely against the cold, massive surface of the unmoving rock pushing with all his might. Each night the man returned to his cabin sore and worn out, feeling that his whole day had been spent in vain.
Seeing that the man was showing signs of discouragement, Satan decided to enter the picture placing thoughts into the man's mind such as;"You have been pushing against that rock for a long time and it hasn't budged. Why kill yourself over this? You are never going to move it? etc." Thus, giving the man the impression that the task was impossible and that he was a failure.
These thoughts discouraged and disheartened the man even more. "Why kill myself over this?" he thought. "I'll just put in my time, giving just the minimum of effort and that will be good enough." And that he planned to do until one day he decided to make it a matter of prayer and take his troubled thoughts to the Lord. "Lord" he said, "I have labored long and hard in your service, putting all of my strength to do that which you have asked. Yet, after all of this time, I have not even budged that rock a half a millimeter. What is wrong? Why am I failing?"
To this the Lord responded compassionately, "My friend, when long ago I asked you to serve me and you accepted, I told you that your task was to push against the rock with all of your strength, which you have done. Never once did I mention to you that I expected you to move it. Your task was to push. And now you come to me, your strength spent, thinking that you have failed. But, is that really so? Look at yourself. Your arms are strong and muscled, your back sinewed and brown, your hands are calloused from constant pressure, and your legs have become massive and hard. Through opposition you have grown much and your abilities now surpass that which you used to have. Yet you haven't moved the rock. But your calling was to be obedient and to push and to exercise your faith and trust in my wisdom. This you have done. I, my friend, will now move the rock."
"FINAL THOUGHT BY BROTHER GREGORY"
In our lives there are many different rocks. Sometimes, Christ and the issue of Salvation if the rock people struggle to move on their own behalf, all to no avail. Often, in the Christian's life, the rock is of a more personal nature. It nay be financial, or dealing with a large sentence, or even a relationship that's not going the way we would expect. As in the story above, the rock, "our obstacle," is there for a reason. Christ never said, "Move it." Just labor in it, take your concerns to Him in prayer, and wait upon the Lord until HE moves the rock!
"MY BELOVED ENEMY"
by Bill Britton
from the Internet: http://www.geocities.com/Athens/Delphi/7580/belovedenemy.html
Submitted by Sister Phyllis Freburger
You are not really my enemies at all . . . in reality you are some of the best friends I have. You who have lied about me, and about this ministry, who have tried to destroy people's faith and confidence in me, who have spread false and damaging rumors about my life and teachings . . . through your efforts there has been a work of grace wrought in this heart of mine that could never have happened without you.
My friends have been many, and loyal, and faithful to stand with me in many hours of trial and need. They have been strength to my weakness, added joy to my heart in time of sorrow, and have girded up my faith amidst raging doubts. They have brought me before the throne of grace innumerable times in their seasons of prayer. I could not have continued long in this spiritual conflict without these wonderful friends.
But, believe me, I speak in sincerity and truth; there can be no perfection in the lives of God's elect without the chastising work of a real enemy. For when a bitter, vicious person begins to do all they can to destroy me and my work for God, then there is a work done that brings out all the wrong and evil attitudes and spirits that lie hidden and deeply rooted in my heart. When a friend extols all my good virtues and praises me from their heart of true friendship, I feel nothing but love for them. But, when I hear of an enemy who has unjustly brought shame upon me, there rises up a spirit of defending myself, and a spirit of "righteous indignation" to refute the enemy. It is then that the precious Holy Spirit does His office work and reveals to me the wrongness of my own spirit. I see in me then, the things I did not know were there before. With repenting and sorrow of heart I cry to God, and He delivers me from that which I have seen in my life. It was hidden, lying dormant, until you, my beloved enemy, brought it to light with your crucifying process. The prophets of old would never have had the glory of being stoned for the Word of God--and no martyr's crowns could ever have been won by the early Christians without real enemies.
You see, I cannot crucify myself, and friends will not do it. So it takes you, my enemy, to bring me to the cross. And to the cross I must come, if ever I am to come to the glory of perfection. But I have much progress yet to make before coming to the image of my lovely Jesus. There is so much I must yet learn. And, my enemy, you are teaching me. I have learned that the road to glory is by way of the cross. Without you, I would not have found the way. Someone had to crucify my Jesus. Not his friends, not his disciples, and He could not do it Himself. So Satan and the princes of this world stirred up hatred in the hearts of His enemies, and the work was done. Had they known that they were bringing Him into His glory, and bringing about the salvation of lost mankind, they would not have done it. And I'm sure that if you knew the good your efforts are working out in my life, you would not want to help me so much. But the work is being done, and I have learned to love you because of it. "Love thy enemies," He said; and I wondered how I could do it. But you have taught me. For because of you I have grown in God, increased in His Grace, and partaken of His divine nature.
COMMENT BY THE WEBMASTER
Ah, but we CAN crucify ourselves. We MUST crucify ourselves. We must die to sin.
"Then Jesus said to His disciples, "If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me" (Matthew 16:24). Taking up your cross does not mean living through the troubles of this world. Jesus took up his cross and carried it to the place of his death. We must do the same. The place of our death is not a physical death, but a death to our sins.
". . . who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness ~ by whose stripes you were healed" (1 Peter 2:24).
Paul said: "I affirm, by the boasting in you which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, I die daily" (1 Corinthians 15:31).
~ POEM PAGE ~
"SALVATION IS OF THE LORD"
Submitted by Brother Tom Horvat
(This following poem is dedicated to my brothers in the Chapel of the Repentant Thief, to encourage them to persevere as good soldiers of Jesus Christ.
"As ye have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in Him" (Colossians 2:6).
As light was commanded to shine in the dark,
So God called my soul into light.
That enables me His glory to see,
In the face of His Son, Jesus Christ.
Now as through a glass,
I see dimly His glory shine,
A pilgrim who groans in agony,
To be so dull and so blind.
My heart at times lays fast,
Bound in the dungeon of Giant Despair,
Felling hopeless with no one around
To give me release or care.
I can no more change my thought,
Or of my own will turn from sin,
Than a leopard can change his spots,
Or an Ethiopian his skin.
Salvation is of thee, O Lord,
I pray, O quicken me!
Then, according to Thy gracious Word,
I rise and follow thee.
by Sister Emily Matthews
At times life's path seems filled with things
That make the going rough,
And we wish there were a smoother road,
For we feel we've had enough.
But if we pause a moment
And remember who's in charge,
The hills that loom ahead of us
No longer seem so large.
Yes, every rock before us,
When we know we're not alone,
Becomes not just a stumbling block,
But one more stepping stone.
"VISION AND DARKNESS"
by Oswald Chambers
for January 19, 2001
from "My Utmost For His Highest"
Submitted by Dr. Clay Norton
"When the sun was going down, a deep sleep fell upon Abram; and behold, horror and great darkness fell upon him" (Genesis 15:12).
Whenever God gives a vision to a Christian, it is as if He puts him in "the shadow of His hand" (Isaiah 49:2). The saint's duty is to be still and listen. There is a "darkness" that comes from too much light-that is the time to listen. The story of Abram and Hagar in Genesis 16 is an excellent example of listening to so-called good advice during a time of darkness, rather than waiting for God to send the light. When God gives you a vision and darkness follows, wait. God will bring the vision He has given you to reality in your life if you will wait on His timing. Never try to help God fulfill His word. Abram went through thirteen years of silence, but in those years all of his self-sufficiency was destroyed. He grew past the point of relying on his own common sense. Those years of silence were a time of discipline, not a period of God's displeasure. There is never any need to pretend that your life is filled with joy and confidence; just wait upon God and be grounded in Him (see Isaiah 50:10-11).
Do I trust at all in the flesh? Or have I learned to go beyond all confidence in myself and other people of God? Do I trust in books and prayers or other joys in my life? Or have I placed my confidence in God Himself, not in His blessings? "I am Almighty God . . ."—El-Shaddai, the All-Powerful God (Genesis 17:1). The reason we are all being disciplined is that we will know God is real. As soon as God becomes real to us, people pale by comparison, becoming shadows of reality. Nothing that other saints do or say can ever upset the one who is built on God.
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