And Joshua said unto the people, Sanctify yourselves: for tomorrow the LORD will do wonders among you. – Joshua 3:5
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Joshua is leading them into the freedom of the Promised Land.
Jesus, which translates as Joshua, leads to an even greater Promised Land.
Are we sanctified? Are we following?
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To whom I further say, altho’ there is a Time wherein the Lord waits to be gracious, in which Time he often expresses his Willingness to save Men from their Sins, and to gather them to himself; as Christ said to Jerusalem, O Jerusalem, Jerusalem! thou that killest the Prophets, and stonest them that were sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy Children together, even as a Hen gathereth her Chickens under her Wings! but ye would not. Again, the Lord complains, All the Day long have I stretched forth my Hands to a disobedient, and gain-saying People. And thus the Lord expresses his Kindness towards all Men, in stretching forth his Arm to save them, even as a Man stretches forth his Arms to swim, by sending his Son unto them, to knock at the Door of their Hearts, to see if they will open to him, that he and his Father may come in, and take up their Abode with them. (Elizabeth Bathurst, 1655?-1685)
If ye had known me, ye should have known my Father also: and from henceforth ye shall know him, and have seen him. – John 14:7
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A chip off the old block, right? “He has his father’s eyes.” “He has his father’s smile.” “He has his father’s sense of humor.”
Oh, but he has his mother’s …
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But right blessed are they that are prevailed upon by the Strivings of the good Spirit of the Lord, in the Day of their Visitation, to know and mind the Things that concern their everlasting Peace, before they are hid from their Eyes. (Elizabeth Bathurst, 1655?-1685)
The LORD will work for us. – 1 Samuel 14:6
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Suppose God sent out bills? You open the mail and there it is, itemized like Visa. “You owe me everything you have. Plus a lot more.” Uh-huh. Example: “On Monday, you were depressed. I sent the waitress to your table at lunch. She lifted your spirits, remember? And you didn’t even leave her a decent tip. As for me . . .” I can hear you, even now, arguing on His 800 number: “Even so, Lord, I don’t think it’s fair to make us pay up for everything you’ve given us. I mean, I didn’t even use most of it. I think I should only have to pay for what I accepted, not everything I’ve rejected . . .” Of course, he does send out bills. Quietly, He asks for our service. Our devotion. Our love. Sometimes his bills are causes. Sometimes they are callings. Consider the parable of the talents: we are to invest on His behalf. How do you repay such a debt? What currency do you use? How do we send it? HOLY OBEDIENCE! (Pay back with love. Pay back with thanksgiving.) Pay back in those real bills, the ones we put at the bottom of the pile . . . the ones we save to pay off with “a little something” once the more pressing bills – taxes, utilities, insurance, mortgage, and car – are taken care of. Whatever is left. As if He saves His resources for us in the same manner. As if He checks with Accounting to see if we’re paid up before He answers our prayers! Tithing is one way of acknowledging that debt. Early Friends objected to the tithe. They paid in other ways. With their lives. With prison terms. With their witness. It has been said that the reason the early Nantucket Island settlers turned to the Society of Friends was that, being free of hireling ministry, it was cheaper than the alternatives. Little did they know! Sometimes the hour of silence can seem a burden – a high price for us to bear. And then we break through the barriers of our own making and come into His presence, and feel our souls filled with singing and thanksgiving – and realize there is no other way. Early Friends knew how much other brothers and sisters earned. There was no fear of disclosure. They established funds to support those suffering for their witness – and to assist those traveling in the free Gospel ministry. George Fox established the Kendall Fund. The scriptures call for stewardship – and helping the poor and downtrodden. The scriptures call for a drastic redistribution of wealth every fifty years; the Jubilee concept leaves both capitalism and Marxist socialism in the dust. It recognizes the freedom of human enterprise while adjusting for the differences of productive gifts.
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And this is the Day of the Lord’s making bare his saving Arm, and revealing his Power, even that Time wherein he lets in Light into the Soul; which not only discovers to Man his Sin, that leads down to the Chambers of Death, but also shews him the Way of Holiness, which leads to everlasting Life. (Elizabeth Bathurst, 1655?-1685)
Rejoice evermore. … In every thing give thanks. – 1 Thessalonians 5:16 and 18
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Thanksgiving, indeed. Right where you are.
And as you gather, remember:
“Look, I am standing at the door, knocking. If one of you hears me calling and opens the door, I will come in to share a meal at that person’s side. Anyone who proves victorious I will allow to share my throne.” – Revelation: 3:20-21 (NJB)
That’s not just the seat at the head of the table, mind you, but the throne!
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Man may be saved if he will; for they know right well, ‘Tis not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth; but in God that sheweth Mercy; for we are not able of ourselves, so much as to think a good Thought, but all our Sufficiency is of God, who worketh in us both to will and to do of his own good Pleasure. (Elizabeth Bathurst, 1655?-1685)
The word of the Lord came to me, saying, Before I formed thee in the belly, I knew thee. – Jeremiah 1:4
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Is it only prophets that God knows from before their conception? Or is it all people?
Is it only prophets who listen? Are they the only ones who obey?
All the same, this is incredibly intimate, this relationship. More than a parent and a child. More akin to what lovers might aspire to.
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Be it known to you, my Friends and Acquaintance, to whom I write, Man cannot be his own Saviour, if he will not be saved in the Day of the Lord’s Power, he must perish for ever. (Elizabeth Bathurst, 1655?-1685)
Then he said to his disciples: The harvest is abundant, but the laborers few. Beg the master of the harvest to send out laborers to his harvest.” – Matthew 9:37-38 (translated by Richmond Lattimore)
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The human role in establishing the kingdom of heaven is inescapable.
Call it a harvest, if you will, which makes the timing more pressing.
We always have work to do for the master.
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But if People will despise the Day of small Things, and will not believe in this low Appearance of the Light of Jesus in their Hearts; which tho’ it discover to them their Sins, and reproves for them; yet because its Reproofs are soft and mild, and its Voice small and still, they out-clamour the Sound thereof in their Consciences, whereby they reject the Son of God in Spirit, … because he came to them in so mean a Manner, they would not have him to be their Saviour. (Elizabeth Bathurst, 1655?-1685)
Jesus also said: The kingdom of heaven is like what happens when a woman mixes a little yeast into three big batches of flour. Finally, all the dough rises. – Matthew 13:33 (Contemporary English Version)
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I love the implied comparison of yeast, which produces gas (carbon dioxide), to the work of the Holy Spirit, since the word “spirit,” along with “inspiration,” is based on breath. The image, in this case, has the flour being filled with breath to become bread, itself a synonym for the necessities of life.
Now, let’s get back to our kneading.
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Wherefore this Seed is sown in the Hearts of the Children of Men; as was set forth by the Parable of the Sower, and the Beginning, He spake many Things to them in Parables, Behold a Sower went forth to sow; and when he sowed, some Seed fell by the Way-side, &c. some fell among stony Places, &c. and some fell among Thorns. (Elizabeth Bathurst, 1655?-1685)
And he asked them, How many loaves have ye? And they said, Seven.
And he commanded the people to sit down on the ground: and he took the seven loaves, and gave thanks, and brake, and gave to his disciples to set before them; and they did set them before the people.
And they had a few small fishes: and he blessed, and commanded to set them also before them.
So they did eat, and were filled: and they took up of the broken meat that was left seven baskets.
And they that had eaten were about four thousand. – Mark 8:5-9
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Matthew 15:38 adds to this story, “And they that did eat were four thousand men, beside women and children.” In Matthew 16:9-10, Jesus mentions both “five loaves of the five thousand” and “the seven loaves of the four thousand,” which is confusing until looking at Luke 9:14-17: “For they were about five thousand men. And he said to his disciples, Make them sit down by fifties in a company. And they did so, and made them all sit down. Then he took the five loaves and the two fishes, and looking up to heaven, blessed them, and brake, and gave to the disciples to set before the multitude. And they did eat, and were filled: and there was taken up of fragments that remained to them twelve baskets.”
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And in Verses 31, 32. Christ saith, The Kingdom of Heaven is like to a Grain of Mustard-seed, which a Man took and sowed in his Field; which indeed is the least of all Seeds; but when ’tis grown, ‘is the greatest among Herbs, &c. ‘Tis truly so indeed, the Seed, or Grace of God, is small in its first Appearance, even as the Morning Light; but as it is given Heed to, and obeyed, it will encrease in Brightness, till it shine in the Soul, like the Sun in the Firmament at its Noon-day Height. (Elizabeth Bathurst, 1655?-1685)
You do not have, because you do not ask. – James 4:2
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More to the point, because we do not listen.
Still, I’ve always found it difficult to express what’s really going on in my emotions, much less voice my truest desires or most tender losses.
Articulating them at least gets them out in the open, for consideration. They lose their selfish edge, as well. The people closest to me can even reflect on my yearnings and struggle.
As I raise them to the Light, I finally have them. The question now becomes, Do I need to keep them?
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Therefore, right glad are the Hearts of many, that ever they heard this joyful Sound, Retire to the inward Grace; thereby signifying to them, where Help is to be had, who were seeking Salvation from the Hills and from the Mountains, yet laboured but in vain; but in Returning and in Rest, they have found themselves saved, according to the Word of the Lord by the Prophet. (Elizabeth Bathurst, 1655?-1685)
in him we live, and move, and have our being – Acts 17:28
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Yes, thee will get answers in venturing outside of the Plain churches. And often thee will feel the power of the Holy Spirit at work. I believe that anybody who preaches the gospel – the power of Christ Risen – will unleash some of that power, even if they are preaching only a fraction of that gospel. But I also believe that since the time of the early church, few truly desired and attempted to live in the full gospel – the complete new covenant – which is, indeed, a fearful undertaking. The others cling to their hireling pastors, their preplanned services, their pre-Christian and pagan rituals, or their “cultural and ethnic heritage”; they insist on certain “ordinances” that are not scriptural and then totally ignore those that Christ commands; they send their young men off to kill in war and put their faith into the idolatry of nuclear weaponry; they live in the world of television, cosmetics, deodorants, rock music, flashy cars, and so on.
Thee knows the whole list, and is probably already voicing, “Yes, Jnana, and we Friends and Mennonites and Brethren are guilty of this as well.”
So keep thy focus, in all things.
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And you of tender Years, who are void of Worldly Cares, be ye aware of Pleasures, Pride, and Wordly Honours, for these may be your Snares. (Elizabeth Bathurst, 1655?-1685)