Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Surrendering To God's Authority

There are some words that used to be included frequently within the confines of a Sunday morning or evening sermon or even a Wednesday night teaching session that we rarely hear our Pastors use anymore.   Consider if you will how long it's been since your Pastor preached on one of these topics:  surrendering your will to God; disobeying God is known as rebellion and also as SIN; as people who have chosen to follow Jesus Christ, we are commanded by Jesus, himself, to pick up our cross, and follow Him.  In case you haven't figured it out yet; that means that we are to walk the road to our own personal death on that cross that we are to carry.   People who really want to be followers of Jesus are required to die to their own wants and live their lives submitting themselves to HIS wants.  Their wants are no longer part of the equation...what God wants is what is most important.

I personally can't remember when my Pastor preached a sermon like that, or even when, or if, he has ever preached about the fact that Jesus is coming back to judge the world.  If he has, I must have been absent that day. 

These things are all true, my friend and are a very real aspect of christianity, or to be more exact, what it means to be a follower of Jesus Christ. 

I believe I first read Bill Britton's essay entitled "The Harness of the Lord" about three or four years ago when Joseph Herrin referred to it in his blog, Parablesblog.  I found it to be one of those things that changes one's perspective entirely, and for that reason, I am going to reprint it in full here.  I hope you like it and that Jesus will use it to help you to see, and understand, or hear and be transformed.

The Harness of The Lord


by Bill Britton

On a dirt road in the middle of a wide field stood the King's carriage, edged in gold, with beautifully carved

accoutrements. It was pulled by six large horses, two in the lead, two in the middle, and two in the rear. But the

horses were not moving; they were not pulling the carriage, and I wondered why. Then I saw the driver

underneath the carriage, on the ground on his back, just behind the last two horses' hooves, working on

something between the front wheels of the carriage. I thought, "My, he's in a dangerous place. If one of the

horses kicks, or steps back, it could kill him. Or if they decided to go forward, or got frightened somehow, they

could pull the carriage right over him."

But he didn't seem afraid, for he knew that the horses were disciplined and would not move until he told them to

move. The horses were neither stamping their hooves, nor acting restless. There were bells on their hooves, but

they were not tinkling. There were pom-poms on their heads, but the pom-poms were not moving. They were

simply standing still and quiet, waiting for the voice of the King.

As I watched the harnessed horses, I noticed two young colts coming out onto the open field next to the dirt

road. They approached the carriage and seemed to say to the King's horses: "Come and play with us. We have

many fine games. We will race with you. Come catch us . . .
And, with that, the colts kicked up their hooves,

flicked their tails, and raced across the open field. But when they looked back and saw the harnessed horses

were not following, they were puzzled. Again, the colts called to them: "Why do you stand so in the hot sun?

Come over here in the shade. See how green the grass is? You must be hungry. Come and feed with us. It is so

abundant, so green and so good. You look thirsty. Come drink from one of the many streams of cool water."

But the horses didn't reply or respond in any way. The colts knew nothing of harnesses, and could not

understand why these horses did not respond. The colts again called to the horses, but they did not answer.

Neither did they stamp their feet or toss their head in response. They stood quiet and still, waiting for the voice

of their King.

The scene changed. I saw lariats fall around the necks of the two colts, and they were led off to the King's corral

for training and discipline. How sad they were as the lovely green fields disappeared, and they were put into the

confinement of the corral with its brown dirt and high fence. The colts ran from fence to fence, seeking freedom,

but found that they were confined to this place of training. And then the Trainer began to work with them, with

his whip and his bridle. How difficult, for those who had been accustomed to such "freedom" all their lives.

The colts could not understand the reason for this "torture" and discipline. What great crime had they done to

deserve this? Little did they know of the responsibility that was to be theirs when they had submitted to the

discipline and finished their training, learning to perfectly obey their Trainer. All they knew was that this

training was the most horrible thing they had ever known.

One of the colts rebelled under the training, and said, "This is not for me. I like my freedom, my green hills, my

flowing streams of fresh water. I will not take any more of this confinement, this terrible discipline." So he

found a way out, jumped the fence and ran happily back to the meadows of grass. And I was astonished that the

Trainer let him go, and did not go after him. He devoted his attention to the remaining colt. This colt, though he

had the same opportunity to escape, decided to submit his own will, and learn the ways of the Trainer. And the

training got harder than ever. But he was rapidly learning more and more how to obey the slightest wish of the

trainer, and to respond to even the quietness of his voice. And I saw that had there been no training or testing,

there would have been neither submission nor rebellion from either of the colts. For in the field, they did not

have the choice to rebel or submit. But when brought to the place of testing, training, and discipline, it was then

that the obedience of the one and the rebellion of the other were made manifest. And though it seemed safer not

to come to the place of discipline and confinement because of the risk of being found rebellious, yet I saw that

without this there could be no sharing of the abundance of the King.

Finally, the period of training was over. Was the colt now rewarded with his freedom, and sent back to the

fields? No! But an even greater confinement than ever now took place, as a harness dropped about his

shoulders. Now he found there was not even the freedom to run about the small corral, for in the harness he

could only move where and when his Master spoke. And unless the Master spoke, he stood still.

The scene changed, and I saw the other colt standing on the side of a hill, nibbling at some grass. Then across

the fields, down the road came the King's carriage, drawn by six horses. With amazement he saw that in the

lead, on the right side, was his brother colt, now made strong and mature on the good grain in the King's stable.

He saw the lovely pom-poms shaking in the wind, noticed the glittering gold bordered harness about his brother,

heard the beautiful tinkling of the bells on his feet . . . and envy came into his heart. Thus he complained to

himself: "Why has my brother been so honoured, and I am neglected? They have not put bells on my feet, nor

pom-poms on my head. The King has not given me the wonderful responsibility of pulling his carriage, nor put

about me the golden harness. Why have they chosen my brother instead of me?" And by the Spirit the answer

came back to me as I watched. "Because one submitted to the will and discipline of the King, and one rebelled,

thus has one been chosen and the other set aside."

Then I saw a great drought sweep across the land, and the green grass became dead, dry, brown and brittle. The

little streams of water dried up, stopped flowing, and there was only a small muddy puddle here and there. I saw

the little colt (I was amazed that it never seemed to grow or mature) as he ran here and there, across the fields

looking for fresh streams and green pastures, finding none. Still he ran, seemingly in circles, always looking for

something to feed his hunger and quench his thirst. But there was drought and famine in the land, and the rich

green pastures and flowing streams of yesterday were not to be had. And one day the colt stood on the hillside

on weak and wobbly legs, wondering where to go next to find food, and how to get strength to go on. Seemed

like there was no use, for good food and flowing streams were a thing of the past, and all the efforts to find more

only taxed his waning strength. Suddenly, he saw the King's carriage coming down the road, pulled by six great

horses. And he saw his brother, strong, with muscles rippling, sleek and beautiful from much grooming. His

heart was amazed and perplexed, and he cried out: "My brother, where do you find the food to keep you strong

in these days of famine and drought? I have run everywhere in my freedom, searching for food, and I find none.

Where do you, in your awful confinement, find food in this time of drought and famine? Tell me please, for I

must know!" And then came the answer in a voice filled with victory and praise: "In my King's house, there is a

secret place in the confines of His stables where He feeds me by His own hand, and His granaries are never

empty, and His well is never dry!"

And the Lord made me to know that in the day (which is presently near, even at the door) when people are weak

and famished in a time of physical and spiritual famine, that those who have lost their own wills, and have come

into the Secret Place of the Most High, into the confinement of His perfect will, shall have plenty of the bread of

heaven, and a never ending flow of fresh streams of living water and revelation by His Spirit.


Tuesday, January 15, 2013

If I Only...

...had some money...

...had a job...

...had a husband...

...had a wife...

...had a child...

...were pretty...

...were thin...

...were smart...

...were wise...

...had more faith...

...had more strength...

Consider these words of Solomon who is purported to be the wisest and wealthiest man in the Bible.

1 I said in my heart, "Come now, I will test you with pleasure; enjoy yourself." But behold, this also was vanity. 2 I said of laughter, "It is mad," and of pleasure, "What use is it?" 3 I searched with my heart how to cheer my body with wine--my heart still guiding me with wisdom--and how to lay hold on folly, till I might see what was good for the children of man to do under heaven during the few days of their life. 4 I made great works. I built houses and planted vineyards for myself. 5 I made myself gardens and parks, and planted in them all kinds of fruit trees. 6 I made myself pools from which to water the forest of growing trees. 7 I bought male and female slaves, and had slaves who were born in my house. I had also great possessions of herds and flocks, more than any who had been before me in Jerusalem. 8 I also gathered for myself silver and gold and the treasure of kings and provinces. I got singers, both men and women, and many concubines, the delight of the children of man. 9 So I became great and surpassed all who were before me in Jerusalem. Also my wisdom remained with me. 10 And whatever my eyes desired I did not keep from them. I kept my heart from no pleasure, for my heart found pleasure in all my toil, and this was my reward for all my toil. 11 Then I considered all that my hands had done and the toil I had expended in doing it, and behold, all was vanity and a striving after wind, and there was nothing to be gained under the sun. 12So I turned to consider wisdom and madness and folly. For what can the man do who comes after the king? Only what has already been done. 13 Then I saw that there is more gain in wisdom than in folly, as there is more gain in light than in darkness. 14The wise person has his eyes in his head, but the fool walks in darkness. And yet I perceived that the same event happens to all of them. 15 Then I said in my heart, "What happens to the fool will happen to me also. Why then have I been so very wise?" And I said in my heart that this also is vanity. 16 For of the wise as of the fool there is no enduring remembrance, seeing that in the days to come all will have been long forgotten. How the wise dies just like the fool! 17 So I hated life, because what is done under the sun was grievous to me, for all is vanity and a striving after wind.  
18 I hated all my toil in which I toil under the sun, seeing that I must leave it to the man who will come after me, 19 and who knows whether he will be wise or a fool? Yet he will be master of all for which I toiled and used my wisdom under the sun. This also is vanity. 20 So I turned about and gave my heart up to despair over all the toil of my labors under the sun, 21 because sometimes a person who has toiled with wisdom and knowledge and skill must leave everything to be enjoyed by someone who did not toil for it. This also is vanity and a great evil. 22 What has a man from all the toil and striving of heart with which he toils beneath the sun? 23 For all his days are full of sorrow, and his work is a vexation. Even in the night his heart does not rest. This also is vanity. 24There is nothing better for a person than that he should eat and drink and find enjoyment in his toil. This also, I saw, is from the hand of God, 25 for apart from him who can eat or who can have enjoyment? 26 For to the one who pleases him God has given wisdom and knowledge and joy, but to the sinner he has given the business of gathering and collecting, only to give to one who pleases God. This also is vanity and a striving after wind.

What does the word vanity mean?  We always think of it as "meaningless".   The word "vanity" is the Hebrew word Hebel which is Strong's 1891 and is an adverb which is more accurately rendered as something that is like a vapor or a breath.  It is commonly used to describe something that is transient or evanescent.  I think what King Solomon was telling us is that there is really only one thing that doen't disappear like a vapor and that is God.  God and the knowledge of Him is the only thing that lasts and is worth putting our time and effort towards.  We can enjoy the things of this life, but they only last for what is really only a breath, and then we die.  What happens to us then depends solely on the choice for or against Jesus Christ that we made during the breath of our life.  That, then is a BIG choice.  I choose Jesus.  I pray that you will, too. 

Jesus, I pray that you will send forth your word and your light that it would do that which you intended it to do.   You said that your word would not return void and that it WOULD accomplish your purposes.  I lift up your name today and I praise you for you alone are worthy of praise.  You are good and you are trust worthy.  You are slow to anger and filled with loving kindness.  You loved me at my worst and expect the best from me.  You help me when I need you and you strengthen me when I am weak.  You correct me when I am wrong and love me even then.  You are sweet and precious.  You are strong and mighty.  You are wise and know everything, but you are not a smart-alek or a know-it-all.   You are patient and you are so long suffering.    The greatest thing is that you are God and that you are all these things to all people:   man, woman, and child in all walks of life, all ages, and stages.  You   are   so   worthy   of   all   I   have   to   give AND SO MUCH MORE! 

If only, Lord, the world, the whole, world had you.    I pray in your name...Amen