Willie Pollock - Keeping a Keen Spirit - Glencoe - 1989

I Samuel 13:17-32, this speaks of the Children of Israel having only farm implements and in verse 22, “So it came to pass in the day of battle, that there was neither sword nor spear found in the hand of any of the people that were with Saul and Jonathan...” If we had to speak to impress you we would be worried, but if we could inspire you to be true and to finish right, to take another step in the right direction, then we would be content. It is not a competition. In the world people compete, and all don’t share in the success. We are not competing, we are sharing. All the secrets of success will be shared so that others may have the same blessing and success.

“A good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth good things.” Convention is good with men and women coming together and sharing their good treasure. A treasure is something that is real to us, something that we have kept. If we don’t keep it, it is not our treasure.

I have been listening to your testimonies in Australia for the first time, and it is as it is in other countries. I have met Workers and Friends I have not met before. We are not asked any questions nor briefed on anything we should say. Your testimonies blend in with the testimonies of God’s people everywhere. It is just like that unity we were singing about. If we have the likeness of Christ, the family likeness, we can blend with God’s people on earth and in Heaven. It’s quite an experience coming to this country, meeting so many we have never heard of before, and to hear truth being confirmed, with not one contradiction. God’s Spirit unites His people.

Some of you, in years gone by, have received letters about Cuba. I didn’t send them, but I found out who did. There was an investigation in that Island, on our Friends, one by one, a man alone and then his wife alone. Written down was what religion, when they professed, and so on. The investigator said to us, “I have the testimonies of all your Friends here and I cannot find any books, literature, or buildings. All answered the same thing, and they all believe the same thing, and there is something holding them together. I don’t understand what it is, but they all know one another and all look alike.” You people here all look alike, too. We are very thankful that the spirit of God is holding us together. The love of God brings a unity and we want to keep that before the world. We have a united Ministry, a united front, and there is no contradiction of truth.

This investigator said, “There is one thing missing. I have not been able to find a membership book.” I said, “You won’t find it.” He said, “Is there one?” “Yes.” “Don’t you have it?” “No.” “Who has it?” “God has it.” “I would like to see it.” “So would I, to see if my name is on it.” We explained to him that man counts the heads but God counts the hearts and has His Book of Life for those who have life from God. As a result of that investigation, we were counted out. The verdict was, “You are rejected. You don’t qualify for a religion or a party.” Our work was no longer legal so we went underground. We went out on the street with no Workers, no Conventions, no meetings. That was the finish. When thinking of, “You don’t qualify as a religion,” a joy came into my heart, and I thanked God that we don’t qualify as a religion, and I hope we never will. “You are rejected.” That was a comfort. It is like the Master, the stone that was rejected by the builders.

For thirty years those people have had no Convention, no fellowship meetings, special meetings, or Workers. The door is closing, but one door cannot be closed, the door of the secret place. God is doing more listening these days to that country because our Friends are praying more to make up for what is lacking. There is no liberty to have fellowship. Our Friends said, “Would you make us a study list? We cannot meet together but we can study at home, and just to think all Mexico and central America are studying the same chapter or subject this week, it should concentrate our thoughts on the Workers and Friends. It draws us into fellowship in meditation.” They cannot have fellowship in legal meetings, but they have fellowship. Friends, we can have fellowship without meetings and meetings without fellowship if conditions are not right. I hope we would not take for granted the liberty we have.

Matthew 13:16, “But blessed are your eyes, for they see: and your ears, for they hear.... many prophets and righteous men have desired to see those things which ye see, and have not seen them; and to hear those things which ye hear, and have not heard them.” Why did they not see them? It was because they died before Jesus was born. Jesus wanted the disciples to see that they had a privilege others didn’t have. What we have today, many would desire to have. May we appreciate it and be grateful for all we enjoy.

I Samuel 13:17, “Now there was no smith in Israel.” The enemy had taken everything. There was no place to sharpen the coulter, axe, or mattock. There were only two swords in all the land of Israel and the day of battle came. The enemy has disarmed God’s people and they could not resist. That is the purpose of the enemy:  to disarm and break down. God wants to build up. There was no way to repair or restore anything. God is as great a restorer as He was a Creator. He created the world once and He restores it every day. He saved us once and restores us every day.

There was no place in Israel to repair or restore. We are not looking on an exhibition of a finished work, but we are in God’s workshop and God wants to repair us. Things happen, disappointments come, and confidence is broken. In Hebrews 10:35 we read, “Cast not away your confidence.” Sometimes communication breaks down and we get out of touch. God wants to restore the communication. Sometimes promises are broken and need to be restored or the spirit is wounded and needs to be healed. The fact that we are here does not mean that everything is right with us, but we are in the right place. God wants to restore some to the place they have loved and lost, and others need to be restored in a place because they have got out of their place.

David didn’t lose his place, but he lost his joy and God had to restore Him in his place. The prodigal son lost his place and was restored back to his place. He left home taking things into his own hands, feeling resentment for home conditions. Would the father have thought, “My ungrateful boy, rebellious boy?” I don’t think so. “My son is not bad, he has bad habits but a good heart. Bad habits will take Him far away, but a good heart will bring him back some day.” But a good heart is not a guarantee.

God does not crush us, but has a good, gentle way of dismantling us. As a young man, I had plans for my future but God dismantled my plans and gave me other plans, and they are better every time. God wants to dismantle our rebellion, bitterness, pride, and starts to build up from there. He wants to take away the things that will do us harm, and give us the things that will do us good.

In I Samuel 13:17, the spoilers were going out in every direction, and every day they are going out. There are things that would like to spoil our testimony, spirit, fellowship and they are the spoilers. They went out in three directions, covering the whole land. The Children of Israel were at their mercy and could not resist. God wants to build up our resistance to resist the spoilers in any form they come. Colossians 2:8, “Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy or vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.” They would spoil you with other doctrines, their own ideas. Resist the spoilers, beware the danger. A man said to us once, “Jesus was just one more philosopher amongst others,” and he told us of many. We said, “Yes, but the only philosopher who rose from the dead was Jesus, and He is now sitting at the right hand of God.”

Resist the spoilers. It will spoil our fellowship The Philistine spoilers went all over the land. Jesus spoke about the tares spoiling the sowing and He spoke of cares, riches, pleasures, spoiling and choking the cares of life. Martha had the cares of the kitchen. She didn’t hear the meeting that day and was not in the meeting. Mary was Godly but Martha was earthly, too tied to the things of earth. There is nothing wrong with that, but it can spoil us. Spoilers can be the love of pleasures or even riches in our country.

There are seven small countries in Central America and they all love their Sundays for market days and sports days. There are crowds going to the markets and to the football fields, spoiling their day and life. There was the man who bought oxen that Jesus spoke about, and those oxen spoiled his opportunity. Another had a farm and another a wife. Things can come in to spoil what we have. God wants to arm us against the spoilers.

Ecclesiastes 10:10, “If the iron be blunt, and he do not whet the edge, then must he put to more strength.” That is the thought, that when the axe is blunt, you don’t throw it away, you sharpen it. We could lose our edge. You don’t throw away the knife that through use, becomes blunt. God does not send away His people because they fail. If you try to cut meat with a blunt knife the meat wobbles all over the place. It is nice to slice it with a sharp knife. A blunt knife is like unwillingness and a sharp knife represents willingness. A mother called, “John, are you there?” He called out, “Yes, Mother, I am here.” That is blunt. He didn’t go because of unwillingness. If he had gone running that would be willingness. “I am here,” is location. “Here am I” is offering yourself to serve.

Isaiah was asked, “Who will go?” and he answered, “Here am I, send me.” Someone had to die for the sins of the world, and you might say, Jesus said, “I am willing.” God’s work goes on by willingness. We might lose our willingness that is so vital. God wants to bring the edge back sharper on our willingness.

A newspaper reporter came to Convention and was going to find out what he could. He went to an elder Sister in the kitchen and asked her, “How much do you get for doing this work?” She told him, “I don’t get paid.” He went to another and got the same answer. He could not believe that and thought, “These people are too smart.” He went outside to a little boy and asked, “How much are you paid?” The boy said, “Paid! You are lucky to get a job here.” We see a lot of willingness at Convention and would like to take that willingness with us.

A man comes to a door, wants to get in, but he can’t find the key. Inside is everything he needs. It is like a man standing at the door of the Kingdom. Willingness is the key to the Kingdom. If you can’t find willingness in your heart, you won’t get into the Kingdom of God. Friends had gone to visit a hospital and, when we Workers came home, there was no key. We made enquiries after looking around and were told, “The key is under the door mat.” We were standing on that mat. The key was not far away. There is not much difference between willingness and unwillingness. God wants to bring the edge back on our willingness.

II Corinthians 3:14, “But their minds were blinded: for until this day remaineth the same veil untaken away in the reading of the Old Testament: which vail is done away in Christ.” In Spanish, it means that the understanding is blinded. If we don’t feed ourselves, our understanding will lose its edge. God wants to bring the edge back. If we don’t read and pray and exercise ourselves to Godliness, our understanding can lose that edge. If we turn away from God, we lose some of our understanding, lose the edge to it. That is why Jonah ran away. The Workers’ list came out and he went the other way. How could any prophet escape from God and get away? He would have to come back and face it as Jonah did. He went into a ship, bought a ticket, a single ticket because he didn’t intend to come back. His understanding was blunted. God said, “He is a good man, but stubborn. If we can get the stubbornness out of him, he will be a good man.”

A man will learn more from a good fright than from good advice. Do you think he prayed before he went to sleep? He could not pray. He didn’t want God to know where he was. Have you ever been in such a spirit that you cannot bend your knee? God sent the storm, then the fish to swallow Jonah. Jonah had neglected the secret place and God put him there in that fish, alone with Him, and the door was shut. That was the mouth of the fish that was shut. Jonah was away from everybody, alone with God, and he started to pray. That is what God wanted. The edge was coming back. Jonah said, “They that observe lying vanities forsake their own mercy.” This came back on himself. Rebellion comes back on ourselves. When the prodigal came home, he didn’t come home to punishment, but to forgiveness. Sin will punish. Jonah said, “I will pay my vow.” God was sharpening him as a grinding stone.

Back to Samuel. They had a file just to file, just to file the mattocks and so on, but they had no grinding stones. Nothing is like a grinding stone. Through the year, you can file. God was grinding Jonah and the edge was coming back. God spoke to the fish and he brought Jonah back to the shore and he went on his mission. He came back free though he had paid the fare to go. If we turn away from God, our understanding will be blunted but we don’t lose it. It is nice to come together and God can bring back our understanding.

Our testimony can lose its edge because of defeat, but victory will bring the edge back. If our testimony is blunted, that is not the end, because there is a smith in Israel, a grinding stone. The victories of others, some long gone, we can enjoy, and they can inspire us, but only our own victories can save us. We will not be saved by the victories of others. David lost a victory and his testimony lost its edge, but there was a smith in Israel; a remedy, a way to get it back. Psalm 51, “Restore unto me the joy of Thy salvation; create in me a clean heart and renew a right spirit within me.” David lost his joy, not his place.

We can go on in God’s way without joy but we can’t have joy and peace without going on. David lost his song but he never lost his cry. He never came to the place where he was too big to stoop down and cry to God. He was a man after God’s own heart. “Take not thy Holy Spirit from me.” He had gone almost too far, but his testimony was brought back. Pride will dull our humility and we lose that edge on our humility. God wants to dismantle that pride because that will go against us.

Faith can be dulled by doubt. Faith is of God but doubt is of the devil. We could doubt our salvation and think, “I know God’s people have forgiven me but I don’t know if God has forgiven me.” That is a doubt of the devil that takes the edge off your faith. “Maybe I don’t have the Spirit of God, perhaps I preferred to please someone else.” We may not doubt God’s Way, but we could doubt ourselves. God can crush these doubts.

I thought about our spirit. Jesus said to James and John, “You don’t know what spirit ye are of.” They wanted to bring fire down from Heaven on those who wouldn’t listen to the Gospel. The spirit had lost its edge because it got human thoughts of destruction. Man looks on that which is lost, but God looks on that which is left. If there is faith, hope and love left, God will work on that. Jesus worked on Peter. He didn’t say, “Why did you deny Me?” but He did say, “Do you love Me?” Peter’s love had lost its edge, but there was a smith in Israel and He touched up his love again. Peter failed but his life was not a failure, but a great success. Judas failed and was a failure. Peter in his latter days was a true servant of God.

Our zeal, referred to in Spanish as animity, is like encouragement. We can lose our zeal or enthusiasm, thinking of failures in others and in ourselves, difficulties and faults. Nothing will take the edge off our zeal and enthusiasm as will thinking of those things. That is loss so we need to let it go. God is looking at that which is left.

Paul and Barnabus quarreled over Mark. Barnabus was Mark’s uncle and he wanted to take him with them. There was quite a discussion between them, so much so that they divided and went different ways. I would say they were both right and it was only a question of time. There is a smith in Israel and because of failures, that is not the end. If we are not honest in our service to God, we cannot have a deep love. I hope that we will follow closely in the footsteps of Jesus. Many things will come, but there is a smith in Israel so things can be put right, and that’s why we are here.