Leroy Lerwick - Our Lot in Life - Cape Town Convention - 2012

That hymn that we were singing speaks about where our lot might be cast. All of us have a lot in life and that's the condition under which we live. Some of it is out of our control, where we were born, how we were raised, conditions of the country we live in, the nature we were born with. But part of our lot is the result of choices we have made and that sometimes bring conditions that we have to accept because it is part of our lives. Then there are some things we might have to live with that are the result of the choices of others. Even the failures of others, they can affect us. Then this all comes together and that is our lot in life and it might not be what we wish to have. My thoughts in the last few weeks have been about people that certainly can be blamed, that we have to share the lot they have in life. Yet those are the people that most inspire us from the scriptures. You can think of a few, think of Joseph, sold by his brethren. You could think of Jeremiah, the prophet of God, and they wouldn't listen to him. Put in with a difficult situation and that was his lot. Then we think of Daniel, a young man probably not guilty of any of the sins of Israel that caused the Lord to have to take them into captivity. There he was separated from those he loved, maybe. Maybe his family had perished. That was his lot. There is one verse where we read about this, what your lot is, and that is in the last chapter of Daniel. The Lord showed Daniel some very special things and at the end of one of these visions the Lord spoke to him but he said, "I heard but I understood not," and that is true of all of us. The Lord tells us some things that He wants us to understand, and then He tells us some things that He knows we will understand but we just go our way. Or we don't understand that He just wants us to trust in God and we go our way, till the time at the end where the last verse says, "Go thou thy way till the end before thou shalt rest and stand in thy lot at the end of the days."

 

The word 'lot' is used in the Bible where they cast lots to decide…like we heard about who was to replace Judas. It had to be someone who was an eyewitness of the resurrection. That verse is used by religious people in this world to justify that it is not necessary to follow the commandments of the Apostles. It wasn't a prerequisite or a requirement to be an Apostle to see the resurrection. The twelve apostles were apostles before the resurrection and so were the seventy; they were apostles before the resurrection. It was one of the requirements to replace Judas. They didn't know which one it should be so they had a way of casting lots. I don't know how they did it but they had a way. Some people throw a coin in the air but it was just like taking it out of their hands and putting it in the hands of God - how it falls. The lines of the division of the country were set by God and those that received it didn't accept it as from the man that told them it was their lot. He didn't choose it for them, God chose it for them. It is good for us to understand that. Whatever our lot in life is, it may not all be just, and we could think of reasons where it could have been better. Maybe we made choices that could have limited our lot in life or even choices that others have made. Well, that's our lot, and the Lord would like to say the same to us today, that we could just go our way, live our life trusting God and we can stand in our lot at the end of our days. So, really, there are two lots. There is the lot we have now and how we live it and how we accept it will determine what our lot will be in eternity. Those who have suffered the most injustice and the most misunderstanding and have been persecuted because of their faith and maybe suffered because of the faults of others, they will most likely be the richest and have the best lot in the end of days. That is very encouraging to me and I hope it is encouraging to you. As you think about your lot, sure there are things you'd like to change, but what I understood from reading about some of these people is that God's blessing in our lives is not limited by our lot. It is not limited because of where we were born, it is not limited by who we are, what country we live in, because of the conditions in our country. It is not limited by whom you are married to and it is not even limited by some of your mistakes. There are consequences, for sure, but forgiveness is complete. When the Lord forgives, it is as if we had never sinned, as far as God is concerned. That may not be true for the way others look upon it but the Lord has His people, a people redeemed, a people forgiven as if they had never sinned. So our blessing is not limited by our lot in life; Daniel is an example of that.

The Lord revealed many things to Daniel but He didn't reveal everything to Daniel. Daniel had to read a book. That is what we read in chapter 9. There were some of God's children, proven, faithful people like Daniel and Ezekiel, in captivity. I'm not sure if they had much opportunity to be together to have fellowship. We read in chapter 9 in the book of Daniel in verse 2, "In the first year of his reign, I, Daniel understood by books, the number of the years whereof the word of the Lord came to Jeremiah the prophet, that He would accomplish seventy years in the desolations of Jerusalem." Jeremiah was in Jerusalem, he didn't go to Babylon but the Lord told Jeremiah. What do we learn from this? It is very important that every one of us has a very personal fellowship with God and some of our understanding has to come from God, but it doesn't all come from God. It is very important that we have fellowship with God. There is no salvation without it, but it is also very important that we have fellowship with one another. The Lord doesn't give it all to us individually. He makes us dependent upon Himself but He also makes us dependent on our brethren. I have been in meetings and I have listened to a testimony that resulted in tears. Some young person beginning to walk in God's way, but I have listened to someone who has been far from the kingdom for years and they've repented and they've come back and we have listened to their testimony with tears. The scriptures have opened up to them. The Lord has used them to teach us when He could have taught us directly, but He makes us dependent one upon another. Jeremiah was in Jerusalem and he wrote a book and here Daniel is reading this book in Babylon. In the Spanish Bible, it says that Daniel was looking intently in the book. How do we read the book? In English, it says he understood by the book. What do we understand by the book? Why it was that he could understand that there would be seventy years in captivity? There were other prophets that were saying that "this captivity is going to be very short and soon we'll go back to Jerusalem." He could have believed that. He would have liked to have believed that. He was a young man; we don't know how old he was. He may not even have been twenty years old yet. Seventy more years, what does that mean? He could have thought he'd probably die there. He could probably never see the Promised Land again. Then someone comes along and says, "No, this is going to be very short." It is much more attractive to believe that. Isn't it like that in the world today? There are those who, in the name of God, speak those messages because that is what people like to hear. So that is what they speak. But what do we understand by the book? So Daniel was reading this book by Jeremiah. He was in Babylon and Jeremiah is back in Jerusalem and so they were in fellowship. They were in fellowship through these writings that Jeremiah was writing. I don't know if Jeremiah read what Daniel wrote but it helps me to understand this fellowship.

It starts between you and God and when that is right then your fellowship with one another can be right. Then you are part of a little church. The way the Lord looks at it every first day of the week, you get up and you do things differently, don't you? You get ready, maybe you start on Saturday afternoon. You leave home and you come to the designated place for the church to gather and you all gather together there. The Lord looks down and He sees the body of His Son, resurrected on the earth. Because of that life in you and all together with one spirit, one body, and that is all the work of redemption because every one of you has listened to the same message. The message of hope, of redemption, of forgiveness, and you believed it and you gave your heart to the Lord. He has given you peace and that is what you bring to the meeting. Every one of you comes with the same spirit of thankfulness. Sinners that have repented and can have fellowship together. That's the way the Lord has planned it and the Lord is watching as the Sunday morning or afternoon, as the case may be, comes and He watches His people gathering together. That is the work of the gospel. Then it goes beyond that. From some churches there comes some for the ministry, called to the harvest field. It happened to the church where Paul was meeting every Sunday and the Spirit said, "You separate these men, Paul and Barnabas, for the work I have called them to," and they went out. They went to other countries. The time came that he could go back to them and share with them all that the Lord had done in those lands and the areas where they had been labouring.

The same thing happened in South Africa where workers have gone to the four corners of the earth and you can have fellowship with them. Then, too, you can have fellowship with ones that you have never met. It is all part of this family and it is a wonderful thing. But it begins between you and God and then between you and the brethren in your little church. Then, if that is right, it helps us to have fellowship with people we don't even know. In prayer, we can remember the work that goes forth all over the world. It also brings us into fellowship with people that have lived and died. We read about it in the scriptures, people that have been dead for hundreds and even thousands of years. We don't think of them as being dead but we think of them as being our brethren. Their life inspires us. When we read about them we have a tendency, and I try to overcome it in my own self, when we read about them the first thing we see is human. If we are not careful then we are sitting on the judgement seat and judging God's faithful people that have been through the fire and the tests and they have overcome. They are sitting before God now and here we talk about their failures. We could learn so much more if we were sitting in the seat of the Disciples, as we were hearing. We can read about God's work in their lives and we can learn from that. Sure, the Lord didn't hide their failures, but why didn't He? So that He could show the same power that worked in them and that worked their redemption and forgiveness. A vision of Christ in those human lives that have the same kind of problems that we have. Then we realise that He can do the same for us. That is why we study the Old Testament and we study about these men and we see what God did in their lives and it inspires us that the Lord can do the same for us. We can see Jesus in them and they are an inspiration for the Lord to work in our lives, also.

Why were there seventy years? Was there a reason? After Daniel read that, it says, "I understood by the book, the number of years and I set my face unto the Lord God to seek by prayer and supplication with fasting in sackcloth and ashes." How does our reading affect us? If we're understanding by the book and what we should understand, it will move us to pray like Daniel prayed. That's not something that happens when we first realise that we have made a mistake and we're very repentant and we pray that the Lord will forgive us. The spirit of repentance is how we get right but keeping the spirit of repentance is how we keep right. It is not something we gradually come up with and then all we do is teach it to others. We, as servants of God, have to remember that. The only way that we can help others to have the spirit of repentance, is when they see the spirit of repentance in us. Remember what Jesus said when He broke bread and shared the cup with His disciples? When He instituted the bread and the cup, we read of it in two different places and we have two different details of it. We read of it in Matthew 26, "Verily I say unto you that one of you shall betray me." So what did they say? They were exceeding sorrowful and began, every one of them, to say unto Him, "Lord, is it I?"

The other verse is in Luke, "'This is the cup of the testament. This is My body and this is My blood which is shed for you. Behold the hand of him that betrayeth Me is with Me on the table. Surely the Son of man goeth as it was determined, but woe unto the man by whom He is betrayed.' They began to enquire among themselves which of them it was that should do this thing and there was also a strife among them which of them should be accounted the greatest." So, I believe both are true. I believe that at first when they heard that, because this is the way it is with us, they began to examine one another. Each one was trying to figure out which one it is. What did that cause? Strife? Justification? I don't know if they were actually saying, "I think it is you." Maybe they were saying to one another, "I think it is Peter." But then they began to question themselves. What are we supposed to do when we partake of the bread and the cup? We are supposed to examine ourselves and that is something that we should do every Sunday morning. In fact we should do it every day, not just on a Sunday morning. It is a matter of asking the question when we think about the week and we're sharing the bread with one another and passing the cup to our brethren. It means that we are in fellowship and there is nothing between us that hinders that fellowship. No spirit of jealousy, no unforgiveness, no lack of confidence, but, "Is it I?" That is the question. When we think about the week, maybe we had a disagreement, maybe we answered hastily. When we were provoked to wrath maybe we did something that was unbecoming for a child of God. Maybe at work before unbelievers, maybe at home with our own family, maybe with our companion. May He help us to say, 'Was it I?" Maybe the answer is, "No," but we have to ask the question. That is examining ourselves. But if we partake of these emblems without examining ourselves we could be eating or drinking condemnation to ourselves. So let us say, "Is it I?" Maybe the answer is, "No," but in Matthew it says they all said, "Is it I?" And finally Judas also had to say, "Is it I?" We don't want to be the last one to ask the question. If everyone in the fellowship meeting asked that question, there are so many problems that could be so easily solved.

We have some concerns in our field; we don't have any problems, fortunately. Most of our friends are new in Ecuador and they are so zealous but sometimes there is a problem. There is a young couple that need to be reconciled. There has been some unfaithfulness. The one that was unfaithful is the guilty one, right? But the response of the other one was to be unfaithful, too. Reconciliation hasn't come because one is saying the other one is guilty and there won't be any reconciliation until both say, "I have sinned." Is it I? One was first, yes, but the human response was a sin, too.

Why do we need the Spirit of God in our lives? The most perfect person who ever lives, who could maybe read all of the ten commandments and say, "I have never been guilty of any of them," still needs the Spirit of God. Why? If it were possible that someone could live all their life without sinning, they still need the Spirit of Christ to be saved. Why? Because in spite of all they did, can they react correctly to the sins of others? So, I would ask this question. When you forgive, do you forget? Someone offends you someday, will you forget it? Do you remember if anyone offended you? We all do. Can we remember when we offended somebody? I hope we can remember that, too. Forgiveness doesn't wipe it out of our memory, but it changes the way we remember. When there is no forgiveness the memory brings up bitterness, resentfulness, the desire to avenge, the desire to hurt. If it does it could lead us to defend but when there is forgiveness, we remember the very same facts, the very same occasion, but it is with thankfulness and tenderness and gratefulness to God. The desire would be to do something that would be an encouragement to the person that offended. So, no, we don't forget but it changes the way we remember. We can be reminded of things that are past and we have an enemy that invites us to remember them, but we have a defence, the blood of Christ. When we are forgiven, as far as God is concerned, it is as if we had never sinned. It may not always be that way with other people's attitude to our sin, but we just accept that.

There is an example in the Old Testament, of someone who was able to say, "Is it I?" I have appreciated reading about David. When David was fleeing from Saul and he wanted to kill him. He was his enemy and he was seeking for him and he had 3,000 men to help him and David was fleeing. In 1 Samuel 24, he was looking for David. He didn't see David as the Lord sees him. He was looking on the 'rock of the wild goats' but he couldn't find him there because that wasn't where David was. It says that he came to the sheep cotes, by the way and there was a cave there and he went into that cave. David and his men were in that cave, He couldn't find him with the 'wild goats' because there was nothing about that nature expressed in the life of David. He couldn't find him there but David found him by the 'sheep cote.' David could have done him harm, but Saul couldn't find David because that's where he was. That is what he was, he was a shepherd, he had the spirit of a lamb and he found safety by the sheep cote. David's men said that the Lord has delivered your enemy into your hand and you can slay him. He cut off a piece of his skirt and it says that his heart smote him. After that there was a dialogue between them and David bowed to him and said, "My lord, the king." He had respect for him because he was the Lord's anointed - not because of who Saul was, in spite of what he had done he respected him because he was the Lord's anointed. He said, "The Lord be the judge between me and thee. He has pleaded my cause and delivered me out of thy hand." So Saul said, "Is this thy voice, my son, David?" Then he lifted up his voice and wept and he said, "You are more righteous than I." If Saul had found David in that cave, he would have killed him, that was his righteousness. He knew that David could have killed him, but he didn't.

How do we get people to come to the conviction of sin? It is the Spirit that convicts people of sin. How can we help that? We help that by manifesting the righteousness of Christ. To manifest the righteousness of Christ sometimes we have to be mistreated. Sometimes we have to give in. Sometimes others have to despise us or not treat us fairly. Our human reaction is that people should be righteous and treat us right. In this world very few people have the righteousness of Christ and it is not there for us to expect that our neighbour, our business partner, or anyone else is going to be righteous. They are not able to be that, but we are, and we can show that righteousness in returning good for evil and forgiving. That is all that we read in Matthew 5, 6, and 7, that is the true righteousness. Jesus wasn't introducing new doctrine or new righteousness. Those that had the spirit of Christ and lived under the law, they lived by what Jesus taught. That's the righteousness that saves and He said our righteousness should exceed the righteousness of the Scribes and Pharisees. What is their righteousness? The righteousness that "I don't do this and I don't do that" but it didn't save their souls. Those that have the spirit of Christ are they that love their enemies. David, loving his enemy and he said, "You are more righteous than I."

The next time that he had an encounter, Saul was asleep and Abner and all his men. They were to protect him but they were all asleep. So David goes down and takes his water cruse and his spear and calls to Abner. "Abner, you are supposed to be protecting the king, you are guilty of death. You should be more diligent, it's your job." Then David said to the king ,"I pray thee, hear the words of your servant. If the Lord has stirred thee up against me, let Him accept an offering." Now this is David and he is speaking to a man that wants to kill him. He has the attitude, "Is it I?" Maybe I am to blame and I am willing to make a sacrifice to make it right. That is the spirit of a true child of God. "Lord, is it I?" No, it wasn't, but he asked the question and he was willing to make a sacrifice to make it right. The effect on Saul was that he said, "I have sinned." Those are good instructions. We like to try to help people. Sometimes we think we need them to know that they are sinners and point out their sins to them, but that is not the way. That's not the way for us to work. It is not the way for you with your family and children, but to manifest the righteousness. Love your enemy even if you're not the guilty one. Are you willing to take the blame? Is it I? That is what will speak and get the response, "You are more righteous than I." Then the spirit can convict of sin. Here is a man who was willing to take the blame, and there was the man who took the blame for us and that was Jesus. He took upon Himself the sins of all the world and that is why we can have fellowship with God. That's why we can have fellowship with one another.

There was Daniel and he was in that difficult lot. That day he was praying and the way he read the book determined how he prayed. You can read that prayer but he didn't say anything about, "I'm a victim because our victors and their king were all wicked men and because of their sins, here I am, taken away from my people and I have to serve this unlovable king. Maybe even deprived of having a family and so on." But nothing, nothing - all he said was, "We have sinned." He included himself. "We didn't hearken to Your servants the prophets. To us belongs confusion, neither did we obey the voice of the Lord our God." I am not going to read all of it, but you can read this and think about it. If the way we read the scriptures can move us to pray like Daniel prayed. He said, "We are not presenting our supplications for our righteousness but for Thy great mercy. Dear Lord, forgive." While he was praying, it says that Gabriel came and said that as soon as he had started to pray he was sent to him. That had moved the heart of God and the Lord came and He showed him even more. He showed him things into the future even to the coming of the Messiah.

So, why was it seventy years? There had to be a reason. The Lord said that there was to be a day of rest for man every seventh day. They rested from their labours in the field, and so on. But there was also a rest for the land every seventh year; they had to let the land rest. Probably Daniel was also reading in Leviticus where it tells about it and promising that if they didn't obey He would scatter them among the heathen and then the land would have a rest. More or less nine hundred years from when the children of Israel entered the Promised Land until the captivity in Babylon. There was a Sabbath rest every seven years. Seventy years they were there. Four hundred and ninety years had passed without them letting the land rest. The Lord was patient; He was patient with many things that they were doing. He sent His prophets early and without ceasing and they abused them and He waited. How did it begin? Somewhere along the way, I can't say when it was but I can suggest that for the first four hundred and fifty years they did, but what happened? The Lord was faithful, every 6 years He gave a harvest that would serve for three years. For the sixth year, for the seventh year that they wouldn't plant, and for the first year of the next cycle so that they could have food until the harvest came. What might have happened is this. After all those years of doing this according to the plan of God, somebody could have planted on the seventh year and he had a neighbour. The neighbour could have watched, awestruck, this man is breaking the law. They maybe thought he would surely have been struck dead with a bolt of lightning, but nothing happened. He harvested and he got a good harvest. They would have said, "It's not fair." They didn't get a harvest and he did so, the next seventh year, he also planted. He also had a neighbour and so it went and after a while everyone was doing it and nothing happened. Every sixth year, although there were famines, I believe that God was always faithful. If one sixth year they hadn't had had a good crop, they would have felt justified in not keeping the sabbath year. Why do we mention this? It is easy to misunderstand the patience of God and interpret the patience of God as approval. That's what happens in the religious world. Men can serve God according to their own will and way for centuries and nothing happens but there will be a day when their destiny comes. There are many examples of that in the scriptures but Daniel understood by the book and how it applied to him. "It just means that I would be away from my people for the rest of my life." That was his lot and he would have chosen something else, but can we understand that God's blessing in our lives is not limited by our lot. It is not limited by the things that we cannot change. It is not even limited by the things that are the consequences of our own sins, if they're forgiven.

There is an example of that in David, too. David had to flee from his own son and David was forgiven. He committed a sin that carried the death penalty and he didn't die, but somebody did die. Today people commit the same sin that David did and they don't die, in most countries. But it doesn't mean it is less serious. Why don't we die today? It is because somebody else died in our place. When David saw that it was his own innocent child that was dying in his place, he understood what it was going to cost the God of Heaven to bring redemption to the world. Jesus was the innocent child who died for every one of us, whether we commit that sin or any sin. He didn't commit anything and he died at thirty three and a half years of age and He was just as innocent on the day He died as the day he was born. That was the price. We could think that a grown person dies, but a child? An innocent child? That was the price. Then the Lord gave David another child and that was Solomon. He sent the same messenger and He said, "The Lord loves this child and this child will rule. He will be king after you." That is what the Lord gives us too, when we accept the price of our redemption. That humbles us, it breaks us, it moves us to tears and to obedience, if we understand that. Then David was forgiven like he had never sinned but he had to flee from his own son and there were people that dared to throw it up to him. "You're a bloody man." Throwing dust at him and he didn't respond. We would like to be like the man who could say we are innocent. None of us are innocent, NONE OF US, but those who are forgiven they have the opportunity to show the spirit of the lamb. He did and he said, "Maybe the Lord has sent him to curse me this day and maybe the Lord will give me a blessing because of this cursing." That is the peace that we can have when there is true forgiveness. If we don't forgive those that the Lord has forgiven, then that's a sin. That is why we need the spirit of Christ. Even if we COULD have lived without ever sinning, we would be totally incapable of not sinning when we have served this sin to others.