Graham Snow - 2005

Hymn 330

Philemon 2:12 "Wherefore my beloved .... work out your own salvation with fear and trembling."  That doesn't mean by using our own ideas, thoughts and opinions, but in fear and trembling. At convention, we hear good counsel and advice, to inspire and encourage us; to chasten and correct us; and to heal us. I am amazed that God still speaks to my heart, after having said SO much. He continues to speak as we're sitting and listening, and pondering and praying. Now the time has come to put it all into practice. One translation reads "Work AT your salvation with fear and trembling."  There is lots to do- an eternal work in our hearts and lives. It is up to us to work at it with a definite plan and thoughts in our minds. The best way to start is on our knees - in God's presence. A young child was gifted with an ability to play the piano, but he didn't work at it day by day and week by week and so nothing ever came of it - he never developed his gift to his full potential. God has given gifts - His Spirit and Word and talents, but we could lose them all if we don't work at it. Have a work plan - especially hard. Become strong in all points in the battle of truth and faith. A man, a builder, was getting on in years and was finding it hard work to go to work.  He spoke to his boss about retiring, as it was becoming too much for him.  His boss agreed, but asked him first just to build one more house. He would have his choice of materials, plan, etc., and was to build it on a block of land. He was keen to retire, so took a lot of shortcuts - made it small and used cheaper materials. The day came when it was completed and he went and told the boss, who presented him with a key to the front door of the house, it was his retirement gift. He was full of regrets then. If he had known it was to be his house, he would have taken no short cuts and put the best into it. Work at our building- it is for us that we are labouring and struggling and sacrificing. How sad to be disappointed on eternity's shore.

2 Corinthians 5 - An house eternal in the heavens, an house not made with hands. Our eternal salvation will be built not with hands, there will be nothing human in our work of salvation- no human element, but of God.  All done in life and through life for our eternal building won't be done with any human element - no human thoughts or reasonings or ideas. David desired to bring back the Ark of the covenant - the presence of God, the Grace and Truth of God. He put in an effort to bring the Ark back, He built a cart - the best - to bring back the presence of God. One of the men bringing it back put out his hand to stop the Ark from failing off and God smote him. God doesn't need the hand of man to hold His Truth and Righteousness upright. The human dare not enter into it - what is eternal is not made with hands. David made a mistake. He had a good thought, but it was not God's manner or God's Way. The Ark was only to be carried on the shoulders of the Levites, those who were separated unto God's service. It was to be carried by two, one at the front and one at the back, that was God's Way to carry God's presence to the world, it is to be carried on the lives of sanctified people, lives that are set apart unto the service of God. David looked in the word of God and found out that he had made a mistake, he had used the human. God had promised a son to Abraham. God doesn't lie, He always tells the Truth. And He had promised that it would happen without the hand of man. As time went on, and the promise wasn't fulfilled, Abraham and Sarah thought, "God needs a bit of help here!"  They brought in human reasoning and it only brought trouble and strife and upsets because of Ishmael. Paul, in Acts 9, heard a voice and saw no man and was conscious, "This is from God."  The human plays no part in the gospel, it's not appealing to the human/carnal side. David, in the cave, and in a position to slay Saul. Others encouraged him, "Here's your chance, a God-given chance."  It seemed to be of God, but through the Spirit we can see that it's only the hand of man. We need to fight against the human factor - human elements, methods, and means. Working. God spoke unto Noah and Noah believed, he didn't doubt or question. He knew, "God has spoken and it will be."  If he remained just believing, he would have perished - He had to work at the ark for years and build it for his salvation. What Noah was building, others saw it and would have thought, "It's the most worthless thing in the whole world. A big ship on dry land. There's no purpose for it, it's a waster of time."  The time came when that most worthless thing was the most valuable thing in the whole world. When the door was shut and the waters rose, it was the most precious thing - the only way to be saved. We build for eternity because we realise it's valuable. For an example, it you were given the choice of a golden cup or the water it was filled with, you would say, "Throw away the water and give me the cup., I can get water anywhere."  The gold cup would have the most value. But if the situation was changed and you were in a desert and lost and your life was ebbing away and someone offered you the same choice, you would choose the water and throw the cup away - water would be more valuable then. Oh, to see things now as we'll one day see. Noah would have been so grateful to be able to work on his salvation. He had a family and needed to provide for them, perhaps the temptation was there to become richer and buy more land, etc., but then he would have thought, "What's the use, in a few years it will all be destroyed.  There is no purpose in expanding my natural wealth."  Days of prosperity are a danger - have we worked at our salvation?!! Noah was conscious, "I'm here to work at my salvation."  Do we feel "I'm here to put God first?  Noah was told to use a certain type of tree - and just that. He would have used that which was closest to home first and in time would have had to go further to find the same trees. It would have become a journey, a distance to travel, as the years went on. Every year he had to go further. A temptation could have come in to use other wood that was closer, but later when aware, "We are saved!"  He would be so thankful he had gone the long distance to obey the word of God. He didn't let human thoughts or reasonings influence his salvation. Do we realise "Last year's sacrifice isn't sufficient for this year, I must go further each year."  If we paid a visit to Noah, we would see lots of tree stumps where trees had been fallen for use in building the ark.  Evidence of lots of falling. For us to work at our salvation, there needs to be lots of falling humbling ourselves, taking the lowly place and becoming humble in the sight of God, there is no comparison to true humility. There is no salvation without humility. If the trees stood, there would be no material for the ark. Often, when failing, trees fall against other trees and get stuck, and it takes an effort to get them down. There are no beams or planks until the tree is on the ground. True humility of heart - get right down to ground level.

Matthew 13 - treasure hid in a field. The man paid the highest price possible, he sold all that he had a complete surrender, nothing kept back.  "Here is my life."  It seemed so unreasonable, but he saw the treasure in the field, not just the field. See the treasure in every experience, test, heart, examination, disappointment. There is treasure in every field, every experience, in every will of God. Is the treasure still in the field? We are foolish if we have done nothing to extract the treasure from the filed, to possess it in our heart and life. The treasure in earthen vessels - in our heart and soul. Take it into our hearts as it is worked from the fields.  What is the treasure in the field? It is the dirty old earth. We can't grow wheat in precious stones. If there is no earth, there is no life. We can live without precious stones, but not without earth. We need earth to work, plant, till, and harvest to have bread. In an area, they cut down all the trees and used them for fuel, and tropical rains came and washed the earth away and left just bare old rock. There is no earth, and so they are living in poverty and misery and hunger. Our hearts are our earth. Let the word of God be sown to bring forth fruit of His Spirit, The two houses built - one on the rock and one on the sand. Maybe there was a whole city. The storm came and only one was standing, the others swept away and demolished. The one standing - the one who is hearing HIS words and doing them. A thought that comforts me, "There is no storm strong enough to bring our house down as we hear and do the words of Jesus."  Not a disappointment, a storm, a suffering, an experience can move us if we build on the rock. Good to question ourselves. "Will our house stand the storm?"  Work at our salvation. The difference in those endings was the foundation. We are only as strong as our foundation. We are not stronger than what we are in the secret place.
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