Dean Affleck - Warmth and Coldness - Brisbane, Queensland, Australia Convention - 2016

I count it a privilege to be here today and share this meeting with you. We just expect the meeting to go well. I see it is a miracle that we can enjoy something that is the same, no matter where we go and sit down together and enjoy fellowship and it is a small taste of what it will be one day to sit down with those that have come from the four corners of the earth. Sit down together, never having met before, and enjoying the same things together, not that one would be sitting higher than another and there would be one powerful denominator and that would be love. There are many things that divide, there are many subjects that divide, there are many cultures that divide there is one thing that unites the love of God and the spirit of God. I enjoyed the hymns 21 and 26 and they are asking questions. "If we but knew, if we but knew the cost; if we but knew the sorrow, if we but knew the lonely hours and if we knew the joy, we would not resist." Hymn 26 ask a question, "What have I given, long years were spent for me and have I spent one for Thee? Great gifts Thou broughtest me."

Ephesians 6:11-12, “Put on the whole armour of God that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against the ritual wickedness in high places. Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day and having done all to stand.” This warfare of serving God is not like we go around with an hammer or with a cannon. One thing in this world outside, there is coldness and when we come here, we feel inspired to make promises and say things, and we see things that we need to do and we see things we need to do to be right with God spiritually. Today it is warm outside, but spiritually it is cold. When we come and sit in the meeting and it is quiet and we sing together and we hear each other’s testimonies and we feel warm and we listen and we even feel warmer. When we leave, we feel warm inside and we go out and we feel warm when we think about things we have heard and we may even share them with others who have not been here.

It is so easy to get cold. There was a story I read about climbers who climbed Mount Everest. When they climb Mount Everest, they are putting their lives at great risk and they have to work together, they walk together, watch out for each other and one of their greatest enemies is the cold and storms. Many people have died on the mountain because of storms and because of the cold, because of the wind. The story I read was about a climber from New Zealand and he climbed with another group and with great effort and risk, they made it to the top. A storm hit and the temperature went down and the climber from New Zealand realised he was not going to make it off the mountain, he had got so cold that all desire left him, any feeling of concern left him. Nothing seemed to matter to him anymore and he sat down in the snow and he called with his telephone, his wife in New Zealand. They had just recently given birth to their first child and he said goodbye to them and he was very cold to her and that was not normal. When he got so cold, all concern left him.

Spiritually we live in a cold place and the Lord has put us there may be at work it gets very cold and where ever we are it could be cold and we cannot underestimate how important it is to come to a warm place and to bring even our children to a warm place and that is the meetings, Sunday morning and Wednesday night and also the gospel meetings. In the meeting, there is warmth and life and we are fighting against a bitter enemy who works quietly and we do not even notice we are getting cold. Concern just leaves us, concern about our own soul, concern about our spiritual welfare, concern about others leaves when we get cold. It is a big privilege to be a worker and we so often get into a warm place.

Hebrews 12:1, “Wherefore seeing we are compassed around with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight and the sin which doth so easily beset us and let us run with patience the race that is set before us.” It is so easy to get beset, it is so easy to get weary. It is in our mind where we get beset. When we get weary, we become confused and we were talking about storms, and it is cold in the world and there are also storms that arise. Sometimes, we are personally affected by storms that happen inside of our heart, and sometimes in the heart of our brothers and sisters and sometimes the church and we can be badly affected by those storms.

We will go back to the armour and helmet is something you put on to save your head from getting a big bang and if you ride a motorcycle, you wear a helmet. In many circumstances, we need a helmet and if you get a big bang on your head, you can’t think straight. Sometimes that happens, big bangs in our lives, so to speak. Our salvation is something that can help us survive a big bang or a big thump. There are a couple I know well and she wrote one time and she said this about her three children, "My husband and I feel sorry and we feel grieved by the choices our children have made that had led them outside the kingdom of heaven. But my husband and I feel that it is not affecting our joy of salvation and the joy of our salvation is continuing to increase," and I really thought that was so nice. In spite of sadness, not in the absence of sadness, but in spite of sadness, they continue to find joy in their own salvation personally and that helps them to continue to walk and to be protected from enemies.

Another piece of armour and it speaks about the breastplate of righteousness, and a breastplate is something you would wear over your chest. There is also a shield, a shield of faith. A shield is something you would use to defend yourself against something you see is coming. Just because you have a shield there is no reason not to wear any other kind of armour. Sometimes, things come and we do not expect them. We are glad for everything we hear in meetings and reading God’s Word and it is like a protection to us and we come and we feel warm and we feel exposed to the spirit of God and gives us happiness and it gives us strength and really it does protect us against disappointments, and it protects us against coldness and against false doctrines and also against all kind of enemies. That is a kind of war we are fighting.

Back to Hebrews and feeling weary and feeling beset. Sometimes, we get into situations and we can feel overwhelmed. The time 5 thousand people came and Jesus fed them. Jesus said to Philip, "What are we going to do and where will we find enough bread for all these people?" Jesus did not ask that question because He did not know, He just wanted Philip to see what He was going to do. Then we read about the wedding feast and Jesus said to fill the barrels with water as the wine was lacking. There would be nothing that would put a greater need in the heart of those servants, because it seemed so impossible. Jesus did that so the disciples would see better the miracles. We sang that hymn if we but knew the cost at which He came. I believe anything God asks us to do, it is not to make us poor but to give us a way to measure how much more Jesus did for us. The boy came along with two fishes and a few loaves of bread, and it was nowhere near enough and Jesus just asked them to sit and He gave thanks and there was more than enough. The little boy couldn’t take any glory to himself, but at the same time he would have been so happy that he gave them, and he gave them for the others and there is a satisfaction in giving. There is a satisfaction in giving and seeing that someone else is satisfied in being helped and fed.

There is a story you all know in Genesis 22:1-4, “And it to pass after these things, that God did tempt Abraham and said unto him, 'Abraham;' and he said, 'Behold, here I am.' And He said, 'Take now thy son, thy only son Isaac, whom thou lovest and get thee into the land of Moriah and offer him there for a burnt offering unto one of the mountains which I will tell thee of.' And Abraham rose up early in the morning and saddled his ass, and took two of his young men with him, and Isaac his son, and clave the wood for the burnt offering, and rose up and went into the place of which God had told him. Then on the third day Abraham lifted up his eyes and saw the place of far off.” So we see Abraham got up early, he took some fire, split some wood and he loaded it all up and took two servants with him and they began to walk. And it took them three days to walk and on the third day, they could see the place. What a thing to ask, what a terrible thing to ask. Abraham could have said what a terrible thing to ask and yet there was something in him because of his love for God, because he was warm inside and he just did what God asked him to do. I tried to imagine him splitting that wood and this is what is going to make the offering for my son and taking the fire. Every step he would take along the way and they would have had fire with them, and maybe he could feel the heat of the fire and he would be reminded this is for my son. The anguish in his heart, who could imagine it three days long. Feeling the feelings he would have felt, three whole days and three whole nights.

Verses 10-12, “And Abraham stretched forth his hand, and took the knife to slay his son. And the angel of the Lord called unto him out of heaven and said, 'Abraham, Abraham;' and he said, 'Here am I.' And he said, 'Lay not thine hand upon the lad, neither do thou anything unto him, for now I know that thou fearest God, seeing thou has not withheld thy son, thine only son from Me.'” Abraham spoke to God and told him not to harm the child, then Abraham turned around and saw the ram caught in the thicket. He had not gone right to there he would never have seen a greater provision and a greater sacrifice that was planned from the beginning of the creation of the world. You cannot imagine the feelings in the heart of God. And even from Moses' day, there would be sacrifices of lambs and lambs would be slain for the burnt offerings for sin all through those years. Knowing that someday it would be His own Son and all those years God spent preparing.

What God asked Abraham, it lasted three days and it was nothing compared to what God is willing, and what God had planned and had set about to do. Abraham would have come down the mountain with so much gladness in his heart, because he had seen the provision of God. Perhaps there would not be many people in the world that God could ask to do such a thing. He asked someone who was willing and when he was willing and he saw that much more of the provision of God. In that hymn, it says, "If we but knew," and really the more we are willing for in the way of God, and simply do what God asked us to do, the more we will see the provision of God. The more we will identify with the love of God and when we are willing to sacrifice, we are able to identify much more, and we will be able to measure that much better the magnitude of the sacrifice of God. There is something about reading the Bible and the more we read and live the more the Bible is revealed. It is a very simple principle.

Matthew 18:23-24, “Therefore is the kingdom of heaven likened unto a certain king which would take account of his servants. And when he began to reckon, one was bought unto him which owed him 10,000 talents.” We could feel so focused on our own sacrifice and so focused on ourselves, we would forget the feelings of others and the feelings of God. This servant owed 10,000 talents and it was forgiven. He turned around and found a friend who owed him 100 pence, just a small fraction he himself had owed. This seemed like when we get forgiveness it is so easy to forget that we have been forgiven. It may be so easy to feel the desperation we felt of ourselves who needed forgiving. Sometimes it is so difficult to focus, so easy to focus on some little thing that someone else owes us. You focused on that and forget all we have been forgiven for. When we are willing to forgive and maybe even at a great cost and it may cost us a lot to forgive and it only shows us in a very small measure what Jesus was willing to forgive, those that did Him wrong.

Isaiah 7:15-16, “Butter and honey shall He eat, that He may know to refuse the evil and choose to good. For before the Child shall know to refuse the evil and choose a good, the land that thou abhorrest shall be forsaken of both her kings.” That really talks about abstaining from evil, or putting away evil, or living to avoid evil, avoiding wrong. It says about Jesus eating butter and honey and that’s all He concentrated on. May be more among children and they would choose to have an appetite for good things. You think about Jesus when He was 12 years old, He was with His parents and went up to Jerusalem and after the feast, all by himself, He was speaking with the high priest and other people there. You could wonder what ever possessed Him to do that, but there was something in Him, and it says He was seeking to do the will of His Father. We know the more we give ourselves to walking with God, the more sweetness there is. Maybe you could say there is a certain sacrifice to give ourselves and to be faithful. We could even feel we are excluded from other friendships because we are seeking to be faithful. So there is a price to pay, but there is sweetness.

Luke 19:35-37. Verses 41-42, “And they brought him to Jesus; and they cast their garments upon the colt and they sat Jesus thereon. And as He went, they spread their clothes in the way. And when He was come nigh, even now at the descent of the Mount of Olives, the whole multitude of the disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works that they had seen. And when He was come near, He beheld the city and wept over it, saying, 'If thou hadst known, even thou at least in this thy day, the things which belong unto thy peace! But now they are hid from thine eyes.'” I wonder have we ever tasted of disappointment in ourselves or in our brethren. We have meetings and we set out chairs and sometimes the chairs stay empty and in that sense there is disappointment and do we weep for those people? Have we ever felt those kind of feeling for brethren or for a stranger? Sometimes, strangers get interested in coming to meetings and they come maybe once or twice and then they miss a few times. They do not see how important it is and they come again as though they had not missed. If we have feelings towards those people, it is only a small way to measure how God has feelings towards us and that we would come and taste royal dainties. Any feelings we have had Jesus has felt more, and any sacrifice we have made Jesus has made a bigger sacrifice, anything we have felt we wanted to abstain from and avoid Jesus has done it more. The more we do the more we can know the love of Jesus.

We heard about doctrine this morning and really the doctrine of the kingdom is simple and it is nothing too hard to understand. John 12:24-25, “Verily, verily I say unto you, except the kernel of wheat fall into the ground and die it abideth alone; but if it die it bringeth forth much fruit. He that loveth his life shall lose it; and he that hateth his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal.” It is a principle that is true, and people don’t like talking about it as it is talking about death. There would be a lot of people in this world who have hardly ever been to a funeral and would prefer not to go, but death is part of life. Suffering about dying is beautiful, a corn of wheat is beautiful and when you think about a corn of wheat and it dies and a corn of wheat is a little thing and has life in it. After it dies, it will shoot, than it will get green leaves, than it will get a stalk and then it will get seed, kernels of wheat and it is all preprogramed in that little seed. The only way for it to happen is to go into the ground and to be covered over and let it die. You put it in the ground and you leave it and it starts to grow. If you were to dig it up, you would never find that seed again. It disappears and in its place is something far better and that is a corn of wheat.

Then you think about a young boy and living at home with his parents, and he thinks about himself and no responsibilities and he has his own bedroom and he has his own bicycle and his own sport and he has the things he likes to do and his life is like one seed. As it happens with boys, he may be interested in a girlfriend and then they talk on the phone and his centre of interest changes a bit and he is interested in someone else. Then he learns how to make his bed when she comes over and they mature and they begin to plan a life together and they marry and have children and he has a job and a home and his life changes. I don’t think anyone would say about that boy that as a single seed, he would wish to return to what he was, because his life is so much fuller. In that sense, there is nothing negative about dying to your own self. That is a natural picture.

We can think about receiving the gospel into our heart and we live for ourselves and have our own interests and then the gospel comes and it warms our heart and we hear about Jesus and we hear about all that can be ours in walking with God and accepting Him as our Lord. Even if we have been professing for years, there are changes that come about in our heart and that wonderful seed to grow and continues to grow. We have no desire to return to that initial state because we have received the gospel. If we give ourselves, it is only a little way to measure how much Jesus gave himself for us. May we find joy in giving ourselves more and more. We don’t have to invent the will of God and think of things to do, and all we have to do is look around and see and respond and obey and we will find no greater joy on this earth. For His sake.