~~Alexander Hamilton to John Laurens, August 15, 1782
"Behold, I send My messenger,
And he will prepare the way before Me.
And the LORD, whom you seek,
Will suddenly come to His temple,
Even the Messenger of the covenant,
In whom you delight.
Behold, He is coming,"
Says the LORD of hosts.
"But who can endure the day of His coming?
And who can stand when He appears?
For He is like a refiner's fire
And like launderers' soap.
He will sit as a refiner and a purifier of silver;
He will purify the sons of Levi,
And purge them as gold and silver,
That they may offer to the LORD
An offering in righteousness.
Then the offering of Judah and Jerusalem
Will be pleasant to the LORD,
As in the days of old,
As in former years."
... "Your words have been harsh against Me,"
Says the LORD,
"Yet you say,
'What have we spoken against You?'
You have said,
'It is useless to serve God;
What profit is it that we have kept His ordinance,
And that we have walked as mourners
Before the LORD of hosts?
So now we call the proud blessed,
For those who do wickedness are raise up;
They even tempt God and go free.'"
Malachi 3:1-4, 13-15
"‘And it shall come to pass in all the land,’ says the LORD, ‘that two thirds in it shall be cut off and die, but one third shall be left in it: I will bring the one-third through fire, will refine them as silver is refined, and test them as gold is tested. They will call on My name, and I will answer them. I will say, "This is My people," and each one will say "The LORD is my God.’"
Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
For consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself, lest you become weary and discouraged in your souls. You have not yet resisted to bloodshed, striving against sin. And You have forgotten the exhortation which speaks to you as to sons:
"My son, do not despise the chastening of the LORD,
Nor be discouraged when you are rebuked by Him;
For whom the LORD loves He chastens,
And scourges every son whom He receives."
If you endure chastening, God deals with you as with sons for what son is there whom a father does not chasten? But if you are without chastening, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate and not sons. Furthermore, we have had human fathers who corrected us, and we paid them respect. Shall we not much more readily be in subjection tot the Father of spirits and live?
For indeed for a few days they chastened us as seemed best to them, but He for our profit, that we may be partakers of His holiness. Now no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but painful; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.
Therefore strengthen the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees, and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be dislocated, but rather be healed. Pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord: looking carefully lest anyone fall short of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up cause trouble, and by this many become defiles; lest there be any fornicator or profane person like Esau, who for one morsel of food sold his birthright. For you know that afterward, when he wanted to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no place for repentance, though he sought it diligently with tears.
You have dealt well with Your servant,
O LORD, according to Your word.
Teach me good judgment and knowledge,
For I believe Your commandments.
Before I was afflicted I went astray,
But now I keep Your word.
You are good, and do good;
Teach me Your statutes.
The proud have forged a lie against me,
But I will keep Your precepts with my whole heart.
Their heart is as fat as grease,
But I delight in Your law.
It is good for me that I have been afflicted,
That I may learn Your statutes.
The law of Your mouth is better to me
Than thousands of coins of gold and silver.
"Then those who feared the LORD spoke to one another,
And the LORD listened and heard them;
So a book of remembrance was written before Him
For those who fear the LORD
And who meditate on His name.
'They shall be Mine,' says the LORD of hosts,
'On the day that I make them My jewels.
And I will spare them
As a man spares his own son who serves him."
Then you shall again discern
Between the righteous and the wicked,
Between the one who serves God
And one who does not serve Him.
For those of you who may have taken the time (about 30 minutes) to watch the video I posted a while back ago, you may remember that I pointed out that one of the speakers heard from was Paris Reidhead, who in his younger years, served as a missionary to the African nation of Sudan, in the early half of the 20th century. The selection in the video (which is called "The Revival Hymn") was from his most famous sermon "Ten Shekels and a Shirt," preached in the mid-1960s at Bethany Fellowship Summer Conference. He himself described how he was led to preach what he preached:
I remember praying, "This morning I am utterly cast upon You because I am not really prepared." In my heart I seemed to hear His response, "Well is that so bad, already" (being from New York City it was given in a idiom I would understand.)I would encourage you to listen to the full audio of this sermon, or to read the text. He preached it forty years ago, but it is still all too relevant today. God is speaking to the Church of Christ in America today -- by and large, it is the message that He gave to the Church in Laodicea -- and His message hasn't changed.
I delivered the message and gave an invitation. Shortly the altar across the front of the auditorium was filled with broken people seeking God.
The summer conference was soon over and I returned to New York City and the ministry there.
About ten years later, one of the Bethany Fellowship staff was in Washington, D.C., where we had moved and from where we still minister. His word was, "Paris, I want to tell you that God has repeatedly used your messages, but the exact message itself was preached only that once.
A week or two later Harry Conn from Rockford, Illinois was in Washington. He invited me to have dinner with him. In the course of the meal he said, "I buy that message of yours 'Ten Shekels and a Shirt' by the dozen to give people. God is really using it in lives." My response was that if you have a copy, I would like to have it sent to me so that I can find out what it is I have said. In a few days the cassette arrived.
Since I don't have a tape player in my office, I put the tape into the Sony dictating machine on my desk and listened through the little playback on the hand-held microphone. The element of distance in terms of time, and the distorted sound through the miniature speaker, let me listen to the message with no real awareness of who was speaking. From time to time I felt like exclaiming, "That's right! I wish I had said that!"
Then it dawned on me that it was my voice, but God was speaking through me. I realized that on a Tuesday morning during a summer conference, God had been able to get His message across because of my utter and complete helplessness. Here it is, just as the Lord gave it.
Paris Reidhead (How Ten Shekels and a Shirt Came to Be)
And to the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write,The history of Laodicea sheds considerable light on this passage. It was one of the most wealthy and prosperous cities in the Lycus Valley of Asia Minor (Turkey). The prosperous trades of banking, textile manufactures, and eye salve had made the city dwellers feel secure in their wealth and prosperity. The Church in Laodicea had also settled into the apethy of momentary material security, as this letter to the church indicates. How notable it is, that of the seven churches whom Jesus addressed in this first portion of Revelation, Laodicea receives no praise from Christ in any way. They had become so secure in their wealth, and so distracted by pleasure, that Christ no longer meant anything to them, other than as a religious appendage to their lives.
"These things says the Amen, the Faithful and True Witness, the Beginning of the creation of God:
'I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I could wish you were cold or hot. So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth. Because you say, "I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing' -- and you do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked -- I counsel you to buy from Me gold refined in the fire, that you may be rich; and while garments, that you may be clothed, that the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed; and anoint your eyes with eye salve, that you may see.
As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Therefore be zealous and repent. Behold, I stand at the door and knock.If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me.
To him who overcomes I will grant to sit with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches."
While not all churches in America fall under this description, many American "Christians" do. It is the only thing that can account for the fact that 86% of the American population professes Christianity (only an 13% difference from the profession of the American population in 1776) but our country has become a byword among other nations for its flagrant immorality.
Now don't get me wrong. Material prosperity is not evil. The tendency of human nature to worship blessings and not the Giver is where the sin lies. However, we Christians have no excuse. First of all, as Christians, we are supposed to be saved from our sinful nature, by the blood of Jesus, and by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. Second of all, we have all of human history behind us to give us repeated warning of the dangers of such complacency. But we have ignored the Holy Spirit and history in our churches for so long.
Perhaps it is not too late, but God must refine us like silver.
(See my next post for Scriptures which apply).