Doug Morse - Boyden, Australia Convention - Thursday Afternoon, 2009

Hymn 299, "Approved of God, what more could we desire?"


The worthiness of Christ I liked reading in I Kings, chapter 21:23, "And of Jezebel also spake the Lord saying, 'The dogs shall eat Jezebel by the wall of Jezreel.'" And that is exactly what happened. Jezebel was cast from the tower onto the cobblestones below, and the dogs came and ate her and lapped up her blood. I've been walking along the roads on the property here the last few days and getting acquainted with some of the neighbours dogs. Dogs are like people, as they all have personalities; they have a common nature, a dog nature. That nature of a dog is it likes to bark at, or chase anything that is moving. That is a pretty general rule, and I know there are some dogs that seemingly get victory over that.


Another thing about the dog nature is that they will pretty much eat anything. As indicated in Kings, they ate Jezebel. I was raised on a farm and we had a boxer dog. That dog would eat just about anything, but it would not eat peas. My father used to try and get the dog to eat them, kind of fool the dog. He was served up some leftovers and put some gravy in there, and sneaked five or six peas in there. The dog would eat the meal quickly, and 10 minutes later you would check the bowl, it was spotless, but in the centre there would be five peas sitting there. One day, my dad thought he would take it a step further. He sliced some roast beef very thinly, then he took a pea and wrapped it very tightly inside it. He called the dog in and gave him this little package. The dog just went gulp, like they do; it was gone and a few seconds later up comes the little pea. I could never figure out how that dog did that. I knew that I could not dare try that with my vegetables; I would not get away with it.

 

I liked thinking about three dogs found in the Bible: the starving dog, a dead dog and a runaway dog. Before that, we will look at a donkey, and even before that, we will look at a lamb. We will go to the fifth chapter of Revelation. This is a chapter about worthiness and unworthiness. Unworthiness has a place; it has a place in our experience and our walk. If it gets too big or out of its place, it casts a shadow on worthiness. John was getting a revelation. He saw sitting on the right hand of the throne and he saw a book sealed with seven seals. And then a strong Angel proclaimed with a loud voice, "Who is worthy to open the book and loosen the seals thereof?" No man in heaven, no man on earth or no man under the earth was able to open the book to look thereon. John wept much for no man was worthy to open the book. One of the elders spoke up and said, "John, weep not; behold the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, hath prevailed to open the book, and to loose the seven seals thereof." And I beheld, and, lo, in the midst of the throne of the four beasts, and in the midst of the elders, stood a Lamb as it had been slain. And He came and took the book out of the right hand of Him that sat upon the throne. When He had taken the book, the four and twenty elders fell down before Lamb and they sung a new song, "Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof; for Thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by Thy blood." We have this book; it was sealed. It represents the mind of God, the mysteries, the secrets of God and even pertaining to the eternal salvation of humanity. No man was worthy to open it. John wept just because there was no one worthy to open it. But the angel said to John to focus on the One that is worthy, that our course is Christ. Consider Him because He is worthy. I think salvation will be withheld from a number of people, not so much because of their unworthiness but because they fail to acknowledge the worthiness of Christ. Unworthiness amongst the Lord's people can cast a shadow over the One that is worthy. We can get like John and weep over unworthiness. It can diminish in our own self the worthiness of the Lamb, take away His worthiness.

 

John the Baptist was a man sent by God and he was a man that was chosen and called with a very special calling, the forerunner of Christ. He was to prepare the way for the Lord, make His paths straight, and I like to think about that. It reminds me of a runway at an airport. A big jumbo jet coming in needs a big, straight runway. Jumbo jets need a couple of miles; they are not meant to go around obstacles, go around corners or go over things. Often people want Christ to land in their lives but they say, "Can't we leave this on the runway, can't go around it or maybe turn a little at the end of the runway?" We have to have the right pathway for the Lord to land into our lives; all He wants is to land in our lives and if we don’t allow this, He will abort us.


John the Baptist preached that in Matthew 3, he seemed to have a little problem with that. When Jesus asked him to baptize Him, John said that he forbade Him. That is a powerful word; it  means to utterly prohibit. But Jesus said, "You are to baptize Me." When we come to a door, we often stop and say, "You go through first," that is politeness. I don't think this was politeness; John was digging his heels in, he was not ready to baptize Jesus. Maybe not all the words said were recorded. Johns ministry was so spotless, so perfect to the point everything was so right. Jesus just conveyed to him, "This situation is not how you feel; this is about My willingness and the worthiness of God's will, His righteousness. Are you telling Me I am to leave these waters without being baptized, that you won't do it because you feel unworthy?" John saw that shadow was cast because of his unworthiness on the worthiness of the Lamb. And yes of course, he baptized Him. Yes, we understand that we are unworthy; it's a necessary part of our testimony.


II Corinthians 7:10, "For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world worketh death." We accept we are undeserving, we have not earned any of these benefits or blessings, we are not worthy. These gifts that have touched our lives, we are not worthy of, we do not deserve them but we have to accept them and move deeper into the will of God. We have to do it to not cast a shadow. The elder in that chapter in Revelation 5 was worried about the focus that John had. Wasn't it wonderful to take his focus and say look at the Lamb and what a positive future he had and not being negative? When we dwell on our unworthiness that is negative; when we look at the worthiness of Christ, that is positive and that will work very well for us. Let's go back to Revelation 5:10, "And hath made us unto our God kings and priests and we shall reign on the Earth." You know, we've been promoted, promoted to kings and priests. We are reflecting the light of Christ. We've been asked to carry Christ into our communities, schools, and workplaces. We take the ministry into different areas by the gospel.

 

The donkeys in Matthew 21:2, it was a place where the colt was tied where two ways met. Jesus sent His disciples to get that donkey. That donkey was going to carry Christ into Jerusalem, which it did. The reason that that particular donkey had that privilege was firstly, he was chosen; he was available and he was willing. So Christ used that little animal to enter into Jerusalem. No creature on earth is worthy to carry Jesus. We are not worthy to carry Christ, but we have been chosen and we want to be available and willing. How do we become chosen? It says many are called but few are chosen. Maybe everyone is called, and maybe everyone is chosen concerning the ordained plan of God. There is room for everyone to have the privilege to enter the kingdom of God, but individually, it is a matter of choice. We choose to be chosen.


Faith is a gift from God. If faith is a gift from God, how do we get it, if we can't get it of ourselves? Faith is given for those who desire to believe; God gives you the gift of faith. A young couple wanted a child for their family. They decided they would adopt, so went to the orphanage. They spent the day there going from dormitory to dormitory. They made up their minds before they went they wanted a little blue-eyed boy. As they went through the rooms, they were meeting children. They kept going past a crib where there was a little brown-eyed girl. She would crawl up to the edge of the crib and put her arms out towards them, pleading, "Take me, take me." At the end of the day they went home, it was not a little blue-eyed boy, but the little brown-eyed girl they took with them. Why did they take her? It was because she chose to be chosen. She made it very clear she wanted to go and she did not worry about being unworthy. She made it very clear she was desperate to be taken home. And we know Christ is like that. We feel so badly for humanity. If only they would reach out their arms, He would take them home for all eternity. But they will not reach out, and we feel sad for them. Donkeys are not very glamorous creatures; there are not many things you can say are appealing about them but the donkey that day was blessed. There is a poem called "The Donkey's Load." It tells about the lowly beast of burden, the donkey. This donkey got to carry the most precious treasure that day and it felt so blessed.

 

The three dogs, the first one is Matthew 15:25. "Then came she and worshipped him, saying, 'Lord, help me.' But He answered and said, 'It is not meet to take the children’s bread, and to cast it to the dogs.' And she said, 'Truth, Lord; yet the dogs eat of the crumbs which fall from their masters table.'" She was referred to as a dog; she was a Gentile. She was not offended. Why, because Jesus said her faith was great, she had an appetite for the bread of life. She had a deep need and she was not going to be put off being fed.


In Matthew 5:6, Jesus said, "Blessed are they that hunger and thirst after righteousness for they shall be fed." Dogs will eat crumbs off the floor even though they are small. They have good eyesight and you would wonder if it is worth the effort to lick those crumbs up. Is it worth it? If you put enough crumbs together, if you’re persistent, you will get a slice of bread, and then more and you will get a loaf of bread.

 

This woman was persistent. She started with crumbs, and that would lead to a slice of bread, and it would lead to a loaf. Great was her faith and great was her appetite. There was a couple we visited with, a few years ago now. On our first visit, they were telling us all they did. They were of a different denomination; he was the elder of the committee and she was a treasurer of the committee and she finally said to us, "We tell you all the things we do in a week; we are very, very busy, but you know what, there is no bread there for our souls, nothing for us spiritually." She was a starving dog. They were very honest and they came to meetings. The very first meeting they got a few crumbs, and they just kept coming and before long they had the loaf - all because of honesty and a desire to be fed.

 

Another dog I was thinking about is the dead dog. It is in II Samuel 9. I was thinking of Mephibosheth, the son of Jonathan. King David came to him, in this chapter, and all this son could say was, "Why are you coming to me? I am a dead dog." There is nothing more useless than a dead dog. When you look at his life, you realize things had not gone well. His grandfather, Saul, had been an embarrassment and a complete failure as King over Israel. His own father died on the battlefield. He had lost his inheritance, lost his lambs and he was a cripple. It says that he and his family lived at Lodebar, which means a barren place. That man had been crushed, he felt like the dead dog. And David came to him and said, "I'm going to show you kindness and I will invite you to my table, and you will feast there forever more as a King's son." When life deals a person a bad hand of cards, so to speak, often they are so crushed and feel so unworthy and so undeserving of anything better and they would say, "I am not going to trust it; I don't believe it." Or sometimes they get bitter. This man had every reason to get bitter but he did not respond that way; he saw something different, he saw an opportunity, he saw a privilege that could be his and his family’s: out of a barren place to a King's table. His son would not have to be raised in a barren place; he could come to the Kings Table. He saw it and embraced it.


Maybe it is a little like me when I came to meetings; maybe that is my testimony, really, when I came to meetings. I was not raised in the Truth; I had an adopted grandmother in the Fellowship. I went back to this certain city to finish my studies in college; I was studying television and broadcasting and had another six months to go. I told my grandmother I had a car and I would take her to some of those meetings she has asked me to attend. I was a teenager and living in her basement. After about seven meetings, she said the sisters would like to have a visit and would I like to come over to her suite, and I thought, "What have I got in common with those two missionary ladies?" So I went over there. The older sister was very direct; she just said, "We are very glad to see you, Doug, in our meetings, you really do listen well. Are you reading?" I said, "Yes, Grandma has given me a Bible; I am learning some things," and she said, "That is good. Have you ever thought about becoming a Christian yourself and becoming part of your grandmothers Fellowship?" I said, "No, I am not ready yet. I'm just starting to read the Bible and it could be two or three years before I'm ready." She said, "I have been reading the Bible for 40 years and I feel I have only scratched the surface." She said, "The Bible is revealed as we walk with God, so you don't have to worry about that." She asked, "Is there anything else?" I said, "I am not religious; I’ve never gone to a church in my life." She said, "That is actually in your favour; if you are a little religious and have man's doctrine, you have to unburden that before you can learn the right things. You’ve got a clean slate as far as that goes." "Well," I said, "I am not like my grandmother or my grandmother's people; I come from the world; I have been at places and done things for years I am too ashamed to even tell you about. The truth of the matter is you probably wouldn't want me in this Fellowship." And she smiled and asked, "Have you got to the place in the Bible where it says Jesus came to help, not to save the righteous, but He came to save the sinners? You know what you are; Christ can help you." That was the end of the conversation, as far as the elder sister.


As they left that night, I went down to the car and opened the door to the younger sister who had not said anything all night. She was in her second year in the work. She turned around and she said, "Can I ask you something?" She said, "I was never in the world. I professed when I was eight, baptized at twelve and offered when I was eighteen and went out when I was twenty and I have never tasted the world." She said, "Let me tell you what is out there, and you correct me if I am wrong." She said, "Is it fun out there?" "Yes," I said, "We have lots of fun." She said, "Lots of good times?" "Yes, good times; we call them that." She said, "And parties?" I said, "Yes, I've done a lot of that." She said, "I will tell you now what is not out there; there is no true joy there in the world and that is what you're missing. You want to look at your grandmother real close before you walk away from it." She closed the door. That was the icing on the cake for me. When I went to college, I had never used the word joy and my friends never used that word, either. We don't use it because we don't have it; that is why we don't use it. That must be what I am missing in life. I just said, "God, if You could give me peace and joy, I will serve You and do whatever You would ask of me."

 

Joy is not smiling and laughing and being happy all the time. Joy is air. It is air in the tires. You know why people put air in the tires; it is just to smooth the ride. When you drive along the gravel roads with the pot holes, you still hit the potholes; it does not stop the potholes, but you don't feel them as much. You get through it okay. And that is what joy is to me. We know we have joy if we are not easily offended. That is a good indication we have joy. Our happiness is not based on what other people do or say to us, it's about our relationship with God. We will have joy if we are content. One the biggest struggles that God's people have in our generation is being tempted to live for things that we should only live with. The world lives for material success, Christmas to Christmas, more money, more things. The Lord's people live for peace with their God. So we learn to live with these things, not for them like the world. Another thing that indicates if we have joy is if we're not discouraged easily. It is a sin to be discouraged.


You may have heard of the story of Satan having a garage sale. He had a table with all his different tools laid on it and on the middle of the table there was this little wedge and it had the highest price on it. He said, "That is my special tool; if I can get that into a person's life, into their heart, I can use any other tool as long as I can get in the door with a tool of discouragement."

 

Luke 15 is the story of the runaway dog. We know the story of the prodigal son who came back as a whipped dog, with this tail between his legs, just slinking back home, condemned. His father received him with open arms. And all he wanted was a place in the home, and he could've offended his father, he could have cast a shadow on the whole thing. If he had said, "I'm going to live in the servants quarters," he would've offended his father. There would have been no reason for a feast if he had brought the same attitude that he had left with - I will not fit in with my father's will - that is why he left. Here he is coming back. There would have been no one rejoicing; the only one rejoicing would've been the elder son and the fatted calf. But he brought the attitude of "I will fit in."

 

I will tell you a story about a man raised in the truth, rebelled as a teenager, went into the world big time, a long way away. He was thirty, and he was going to an auction in the country. He had a rough night the night before and he had to park a long way away. He was walking towards the auction, some people were already there, and here comes a familiar face from the past, and it was a servant. He will not know me. This servant, which was his habit, just smiled at him and asked, "How is your day going today?" That man said that was the turning point for him. He was convicted that very moment; that man has peace with God and joy with God; that man is where God wants him to be. And he said, "I've got to head back home, too." I do not know if that servant ever knew that was the turning point. That man went back; he wanted peace, he wanted security, he wanted it on God's terms, not his own terms.

 

Next week when we leave here, we will go to a Sunday morning meeting and we will gather around the emblems, the emblems of the slain Lamb. What thought will be foremost in your mind as you are sitting there, only one week past convention? Will you be consumed with the failures we already had with the first week after convention? Will you be feeling like a hypocrite, so unworthy? Feeling unworthy is necessary; it helps us with humility and thankfulness, but above all other feelings, when we look upon the emblems, we need to be focused on the worthiness of the Lamb. I do not want to offend God this year by casting a shadow on the worthiness of Christ with my own unworthiness. God wants to do things in us and for us at this convention this year. We need to turn all our focus on the One that is worthy. His worthiness will wash over us like the tide in the ocean, cleansing us, inspiring us, encouraging us and that will help perfect our joy and our peace. One  other thing it will do is to perfect our spirit. We will become more and more like Him as we allow His worthiness to wash over our own unworthiness.