Thoughts from Buttonwillow, California I Convention - 2018

Hymn 314. 

What does it take to yield?  Not ability or brains or talents—just yield.  Collectively and individually, we come and say, “In Thy strong hands, I lay me down, so shall the work be done.” 

Isaiah 64:6–8, iniquities have taken us away—distractions, self-will, resistance, hard spots.  But now we are the clay, and God is the potter. 

Matthew 13, when leaven has been added to bread dough, it works throughout.  We don’t find a flat place in the middle of the finished loaf of bread where it refused to be leavened.  There are no “stop” signs when God is working.  We can’t say, “So far and no more.”  

Ecclesiastes 11:4, don’t wait for all on the outside to be right.  Be faithful in making what’s on the inside be right.  Circumstances may be beyond our control, but, like the farmer who endured a year of drought and then a year of flooding that prevented sowing, we’re in it for the long haul. 

Isaiah 53:2,  Jesus grew up in dry ground, and it only got drier, but still the tender plant grew from what was on the inside.  What we put into our spiritual life (or convention) is what we’ll get out.  It’s the law of the harvest. 

Psalms 126:5, we may sow in tears but reap in joy.  It’s better to pay the price to sow, even if it’s costly, or we may end up with nothing to reap.  Parts of us may be like fallow ground.  There may be good reasons or not so good, but there won’t be a harvest if the field is not sown.  The field has to be plowed, or turned over.  It’s not pleasant when the plow goes through, but it brings results later — the hope of a harvest. 

I Kings 19,  Elijah was in a dark experience.  He saw only clouds.  He wanted to die.  He was told to arise and eat.  Then, in the cave, the question came twice, "What doest thou here?"  God wasn’t in the events Elijah had no control over — wind, earthquake, and fire.  Then there came a still small voice, or “a sound of gentle stillness,” in a different translation. Our situation doesn’t depend on events going on in the Kingdom.  We are only responsible for what is in our own heart. 

Hymn 349 makes me think of Elijah.  “Darkened clouds hang low . . . One who cares for me . . . whispers of defeat . . .”  God wants to still the voice of our adversary.

The leaven hid in 3 measures of meal is like yeast, a living thing.  Yeast breaks down the sugar found in flour.  It totally consumes it and produces carbon dioxide, which forms air bubbles, and alcohol, which gives it flavor.  The word of God, like leaven, is a living thing when we know it is speaking to us.  It can change the negative condition we’re in — disappointed, discouraged, hopeless, and bring us joy, peace, and thankfulness. 

What do you want God to do for you?  I want to be connected to the source of strength that will not fail.  Fight to the end against the enemy who wants to destroy the precious things in our hearts — a willing spirit, a clean heart, the joy of God’s salvation.

Hymn 43.

Life is about pleasing God.  This is what brings honor and glory to God.  The book of Esther is a story of a king, a kingdom, and people in a kingdom.  The underlying theme is, “If it please the king.”  Life, death, prosperity, and poverty all had to do with pleasing the king.  John 8:29, “He that sent me is with me . . . I do always those things that please Him.”  We need to know what pleases God, be willing for it, and then let our lives be a reflection of what pleases God.  

Lambs are feisty — they have lots of life.  It’s hard to catch them.  But once they’re under the control of the shepherd, they put up no resistance, and they don’t complain.  Jesus submitted to God’s will in Luke 22:42 and John 18:11.  He was not submitted because he had no choice but because he kept himself under the control of the Father.  

After the fires in Santa Rosa, the homeowners found nothing left but what had already been through the fire — several pieces of pottery.

The old meaning of “Lord” is “keeper and dispenser of bread.”  Satan told Jesus to make something dead into bread.  Jesus answered with the importance of the word of God.

3 measures of meal that need to be leavened could be private life, home life, and public life.

Deny yourself and take up your cross.  The cross can mean, “Earth submits and Heaven reigns.”  We take up the cross — it’s not put upon us.  It becomes a wonderful strength to us.  An old hymn says, “O cross, that lifteth up my head.”  We’ll never have to hang our heads when we take up our cross.

The germ of wheat is contained in a hull that has to die.  We call it germinating, not dying.  In order to release the eternal life contained in Jesus' body, He had to die.  Jesus settled it in Gethsemane that the hull would die and release the life it was holding within.  God was satisfied with the anguish of Jesus’ soul (Isaiah 53:11) as the redemption price that was paid.  

I Peter 5“Yea, let all be subject one to another.”  Every member of the body is subject to the other members of the body.  Sometimes we don’t like to appear to be in subjection.  We may say to ourselves, “I’ll wait  5 minutes before helping out so it looks like I did it on my own.”  But no member of the body waits before helping out.  If a member of the body waited just 5 seconds before moving, the whole body would become uncoordinated.  Everything has to work instantaneously.  Messages aren’t sent from one member of the body to another.  A message of injury goes from the injured part to the head, and the head sends a message to the part that will help out.  

We win spiritual battles by fleeing to the stronghold.  We need to find the place of humility in the midst of the battle, and that gives victory.  At death, we pass through a sieve, and many things get sieved out — whether we were old or young, the wife or the husband, etc.  All that remains is what was perfected in us by submitting.  We have no excuse to not submit because the one we have to submit to is not perfect.  God teaches us to submit to keep order and to help us with humility.  

Grace is everything God does that is a spiritual miracle.  Mercy is the fact that He chooses to extend grace to us.  We’re sinners.  We can’t pay for grace by ourselves.  

Hebrews 4 gives steps for coming to the throne of grace.  The word of God is planted in our hearts.  The shoot that comes up is faith.  Rain softens the soil and sunshine warms the soil.  We can accept or reject the softening process.  Softened soil lets the seed enter, and warmth and moisture let it sprout.  We obey God by ceasing from what doesn’t please Him and entering into what does please Him.  A deep cleaning process begins after the shoot comes up.  A sword pierces deeper than our thoughts down to our intents.  It divides between right and wrong, true and false, good and bad, and light and darkness.  On Judgment Day, there will be no scoffers.  The only judge is the mind of God.  We need to be transformed ahead of time to think, feel and know the differences between right and wrong, etc.  Jesus got through to the throne of grace — our stronghold — before us.  We need to meet Jesus before we meet God.  He shed his blood and gave his life for our sins.  He is touched by the feeling of our infirmities.  We can come boldly before God through faith in our intercessor. 

Hymn 169.

Isaiah 5:1-3 spoke of a vineyard that produced wild grapes.  Originally “wild grapes” had the meaning of “poisonous berries.”  This is what we produce by nature.  It’s not about looking like we have the right fruit but it’s about having the right fruit. 

John 15,  “I am the vine, and my Father is the husbandman.”  God does all He can every day to keep and encourage us.  It’s not just feel-good stuff like nice days at convention, sunshine, and a gentle rain.  It may mean storms and pruning — things that don’t feel so good.  If we are choosing how we die and deny ourselves, that’s not really dying.  We need to let God choose.  Jesus let God choose everything for Him.  He wasn’t the husbandman of His own life.  When I try to be my own husbandman, I allow more things and prune less.  There’s gradual indulgence.  God’s will is right and safe.  

Galatians 5, temperance is the last aspect listed of the fruit of the Spirit.  It comes from going through the fire — facing the contrast of hot and cold.  It leads to endurance.

Joseph and Mary offered turtle doves when Jesus was born.  Turtle doves have small heads, a small song, and are committed to each other for life.  Doves don’t feed on flesh but on seeds.

I Corinthians 13, we need faith, hope and charity now, but only charity will last through eternity.  Faith gives way to sight.  Full vision comes at the dawn of eternal day.  Hope gives way to fruit.  Harvest time has come, and the storehouse of Heaven is filled with the souls of men redeemed by Jesus’ blood.  All efforts have been realized, and the end product is fruit.  Charity remains – love without end.  At the end of it all, when we stand in the presence of God, if someone asks us how we got there, the answer will be, “I followed your Son, Jesus.” 

Christianity means Christlike thinking and living.  Religions try to think their way to heaven.  We can know a lot and not really believe.  The reason people don’t act like Christ is because they know but don’t believe. 

“Knowledge puffeth up, but charity edifieth.”   The Old Testament covenant was based on works. 

“All we heard we will do.”  The New Testament covenant is based on grace.  All we heard we will believe.  Christ is seeking believers more than achievers. 

We are present at convention because of God’s mercy, but we are changing and changed because of His grace.  Jesus said, “I need to leave you so that I can send gifts to you.  Once I’m there, I can receive from My Father the gifts you need, and then I can turn around and send them to you.  I’m a sender and also a recipient.”  Jesus procured the gift of eternal life for us. 

In Acts, Peter said, “We know Jesus is with the Father now because He shed forth this“ when they spoke in tongues on Pentecost. 

When Jesus comes again, it’s not to take care of sin.  That’s all been done.  He’s coming to execute righteous judgment. 

John 17, Jesus laid aside the glory, honor and splendor He had in eternity to come to earth and live among men.  God’s will has all been accomplished.  Jesus has regained the qualities He had in eternity. 

The Levitical priesthood and temple rituals were all done standing up.  They were not a finished work.  Today we find fullness in Him who sits at the right hand of God.  The work is finished.  The message that seemed like foolishness and weakness to man is the wisdom and power of God.

At the end of I Chronicles, David was passing on to Solomon all the resources and help to build the temple. 

II Chronicles 5:13“ . . . the glory of the Lord filled the house.”  The pattern was given by God to David.  It worked — no detail was changed.  God would be displeased with any disobedience.  Jesus is our pattern today.  He’s approved of God.  The end result is the presence of God.  You cannot change or add or take away from the pattern.  God wouldn’t be in it.  If we willfully change the pattern, it leads to our destruction.  If while building the temple, things weren’t working together right, it would be clear a mistake had been made.  They would have had to tear out what was built and re-build it.  We may wonder why we have lost our peace or joy.  Go back and make sure our yeses are definite yeses.  Be right with God now and eternally.

II Timothy 2:21,  “ . . . sanctified . . . unto every good use.”  That’s what we want — to be clean so we’re ready for whatever God would ask of us.  There are more clean vessels than unclean on this convention property in the kitchen and dining area.  There are more clean vessels in this meeting tent, too.  How does God use clean vessels? 

John 2, at the wedding feast, they ran out of wine.  The cleanest vessels on the property were the waterpots.  The servants checked them often to be sure nothing contaminated the pure water that filled them.  Some of the vessels were not quite full.  Jesus said, “Fill them to the brim.”  Our responsibility as workers is to fill you who are listening to the brim.  But water alone in the pots was not the answer to the need.  The miracle is when there is something of God to pour out to others. 

Some say at convention, “I felt a change.”  Something inside us may be changed by God alone. 

In both John 12 and Mark 12, spikenard was brought to Jesus.  You would never put spikenard in an unclean vessel.  It was in an alabaster box.  Spikenard had to be obtained from a flower at a very high elevation.  The flower was crushed, and an ointment was created.  People would pay hundreds of dollars per ounce for the ointment.  You’ve all climbed to the mountaintop here at convention.  Maybe you’ve picked a flower and crushed it through prayer.  Is your vessel clean?  The Holy Spirit prompted that woman to break her alabaster box and anoint Jesus with that costly ointment.  At the foot of the cross, the cost of that ointment would seem as nothing. 

Saul of Tarsus didn’t look like a clean vessel.  He was full of pride and false doctrine.  All that repulsed God came bubbling out of him.  God’s people in Damascus were likely afraid when they heard Saul was coming.  God spoke to Ananias.  “Saul is a chosen vessel unto me.”  God did what Ananias couldn’t do.  He shone a light round about Saul.  He called Saul by name.  Saul entered Damascus very differently than he had intended.  He couldn’t see.  He was dependent on others to lead him.  He wasn’t giving orders.  When Ananias arrived, he was praying.  When Ananias touched him, the scales fell off his eyes.  What did Saul see?  He saw Ananias, a man with the holy spirit of God.  We never forget those who touched us and helped us.

John 15, God took us and put us in the vine so we would be close to Him.  When branches are grafted into trees, they become so close they are inseparable. 

Matthew 5:48, “Be ye therefore perfect as your Father in heaven is perfect.”  Perfect means complete.  We’re complete if the Father and Son are dwelling in us.  The Romanian Bible translates, “This is My beloved Son in whom I am well pleased, “ as “in whom I find all My pleasure.”  Nothing pleases God but the life of His Son. 

“Blessing” originally had to do with blood being used for sanctification.  Today the blessing of God has to do with Jesus’ blood — something that stains and makes the impure pure.            

Proverbs 10:22, “The blessing of the Lord, it maketh rich, and He addeth no sorrow with it.”  There will never be the sorrow of regret in the blessing of God.  No one will regret they’ve read the Bible, prayed, gone to meeting, said “no” to self. 

You’ll never be sorry for what you’ve invested in God’s way. All we invest in God’s way becomes treasure in Heaven. If you think this comes at great cost to you, take a trip to Calvary. 

If you’re not enjoying serving God, you’re not really serving God.  You’re not giving 100%.  99% submission does not bring 99% peace.  It brings no peace at all.

Genesis 12, “Get thee out of thy country . . . thou shalt be a blessing . . . and in thee shall all families of earth be blessed.”  This is the core, the backbone, the foundation of Christianity.  God does something in us that changes us, and then He makes us a blessing.  The overflow of our life and spirit goes out to others. 

I Chronicles 4:9–10, Jabez means “causing pain.”  He probably had a hard life. 

Hebrews 12, “God of our fathers be the God of their succeeding race.”  Jabez probably heard stories as a child of how God helped Moses and others of his ancestors.  That caused him to call on God also in his time of need.  God’s Spirit can make up for our lack of ability, but our ability cannot make up for a lack of God’s Spirit. 

Revelations 1:3, “Blessed is he that readeth . . .”  So many scriptures seem beyond me, but I have the capability of reading.  Then it says, “hear and keep those things.”  This goes a little deeper, but we can do this, too. 

Hymn “Watch and Pray.”  If we watch, we know what to pray for, and if we pray, we know what to watch for.

When God prunes us, He isn’t making it harder for us.  He’s making it easier.  When we bear fruit, that makes Him happy, and it also makes us happy.

Satan accuses us of not being what we should be, and it’s usually true.  But we can say, “I’m trusting in Jesus, and through Him, I can change.”  Determination can take us a long way, but submission will take us all the way.

Garbage tends to get scattered.  It needs to be gathered up, picked up, and put in containers.  We need to rid ourselves of spiritual garbage.  Be careful not to scatter it with gossip, etc.  Garbage that hasn’t been disposed of properly can hinder others.

God won’t remove what we don’t want to let go of.  Many things require a process to move on from — not a “one and done” thing.  

Convention started with the question, “Why are we here today?”

Acts 26:22, “having therefore obtained the help of God, I continue unto this day.”  Thank you for asking for help this year.  Eternal security is asking for help.  

A diary entry for Jack Carroll in 1931 in Alaska told how he left two other workers to start a mission in a different field, but he himself went on to Sitka to see if he could find any place to have a meeting.  He met an old fisherman, and they were talking.  The fisherman asked him if by any chance he knew Willie Neal in Ireland.  That was on the other side of the world.  Willie’s parents had a convention in Ireland.  The old fisherman recognized this was the same truth he’d known of as a young man.  Once this seed gets in a heart, you can never get away from it.  

A man raised in Truth had never professed when he became a bomber pilot in World War II.  When he was flying over Germany, a hymn came to his mind.  The seed was still alive in his heart.  When he had the opportunity, he responded to the seed and continued in Truth as long as health would allow it.