The Treasures of Darkness – Self

And I will give thee the treasures of darkness, and hidden riches of secret places, that thou mayest know that I, the LORD, which call thee by thy name, am the God of Israel. (Isaiah 45:3)

Have you ever wondered about what good can be gleaned in the “dark” or  perplexing phases of life? Has the thought ever occurred to you that some of life’s most valuable and eternally enduring things can only be birthed in difficult circumstances? If not, let’s travel this road together because God’s Word has something to tell us about this.

A Painting That Was Not Quite Right

First there is a story to tell. Years ago there was an oil painting hanging on a conference room wall of a lake cove and shoreline. The artist’s intent was to capture a driving wind that invaded the tranquility of a normally calm lake cove with vibrant blue, green and white brush strokes. The scene was colorful and detailed. But, there was just something missing. Something didn’t “register” or captivate the viewer. Instead of drawing one’s attention in towards the painting, the opposite effect occurred.  Upon looking at the picture you seemed to take a glance and then abruptly turn to look somewhere else in the room. What was it?  What was missing in the scene that the artist failed to capture?

Then one day after visiting this room many times the thought occurred: “I see it. This painting has no shadows”. The scene was shallow and uninteresting. Why? The painting lacked dimension and depth because the light source upon the lake was not clearly defined.  The artist failed to master one of the hardest skills essential in painting – the proper handling of light and darkness. The painting was simply devoid of the contrasts between light and dark, differentiation between the shadows, dark areas and bright reflections of light on the objects being painted.

The objective here is not to disparage the artist’s honest effort, but to make a point. Life without shadows and darkness is shallow and one might say …. “lifeless”.

I once was lost, but now am found
T’was blind but now I see   …………….. Amazing Grace

I think you “get the picture”.

As the opening scripture states there is a reason and purpose for dark seasons and difficult places in life. For it is here where God will give you some of life’s real treasures and riches.

Treasures of Self, Souls & The Savior

In our investigation into these treasures of darkness, we will look into three areas: Treasures of Self, Treasures of Souls and Treasures of the Savior. For it is in these three areas of our life that the Lord specifically commanded our attention and fulfill His greatest commandment:

And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment. 
And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these.  Mark 12:30-31

Treasures of Self – Repentance, Redemption & Revelation

One cannot possibly “save” someone from sin unless they are first saved themselves. The first treasure from God has to start with ourselves – The Treasure of Self. What are  these treasures the Lord has for us? Whether we like to admit it or not, as indicated in the opening scripture, they originate in our own darkness, the darkness of our own personal sin.

Before we begin, can we be candid here for a moment? God is not easily impressed. In fact, God is not impressed at all about us. And how can he be? After all He does know everything does he not? So, how can a God who has all power, presence and understanding be taken off-guard by anything we might say, do or think? If this statement holds water, then what can we possibly give to Him? What do we possess that God might take and do something with? One thing. Our brokenness, brokenness from the effects of sin. God can take and use the darkness of our brokenness and give us something better:

He healeth the broken in heart, and bindeth up their wounds. (Psalms 147:3)

The LORD is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart; and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit. (Psalms 34:18)

The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise. (Psalms 51:17)

And what is the treasure to be mined from our brokenness? It is called repentance. Repentance must always precede our receiving deeper treasures available to us from Jesus. Of course, people have talents, gifts, personalities and endearing traits which the Lord will use for his kingdom. But, the bedrock of salvation must be founded upon this first treasure – Repentance.

Treasures of Repentance

John the Baptist was the forerunner of Jesus Christ. John’s sermon notes were not complicated and did not change from Sunday thru Saturday. John had one message to preach. Repentance.

John did baptize in the wilderness, and preach the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins.(Mark 1:4)

In those days came John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judaea,
And saying, Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. (Matthew 3:1-2)

The message of repentance did not stop with John. Jesus took John’s message and carried it onward:

From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.(Matthew 4:17)

I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.(Luke 13:3)

And the early church continued with its importance as a requirement in God’s  salvation plan for mankind:

Then Peter said unto them, Repent ….  (Acts 2:38)

The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. (2 Peter 3:9)

Repentance of sin is the first step in positioning ourselves for the great things of God – to receive deeper treasures He has for his church. And one never graduates from it because classes at the University of Self and Mt. Saint Flesh College are always in session. Furthermore, repentance cleanses our heart and mind in preparation to be a vessel where God can place his name. How does that happen? Through baptism in the name of Jesus Christ.

Treasures of Redemption

Now moving out of the darkness of our sin through repentance we can receive another treasure in our lives – the name of Jesus Christ. A bride takes on the name of her husband. The church being the bride of Christ can now receive the treasure of the name of Jesus:

Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready. (Revelation 19:7)

The Lord always places His name and blesses the centers of worship of His choosing. In the Old Testament, the Lord chose the Tabernacle as a center for worship. He placed his name there and blessed it:

And Moses took the tabernacle, and pitched it without the camp, afar off from the camp, and called it the Tabernacle of the congregation. And it came to pass, that every one which sought the LORD went out unto the tabernacle of the congregation, which was without the camp. (Exodus 33:7)

And Moses and Aaron went into the tabernacle of the congregation, and came out, and blessed the people: and the glory of the LORD appeared unto all the people. (Leviticus 9:23)

The Lord also chose the Temple as a center for worship. He placed his name there and blessed it:

And the LORD said unto him, I have heard thy prayer and thy supplication, that thou hast made before me: I have hallowed this house, which thou hast built, to put my name there for ever; and mine eyes and mine heart shall be there perpetually.(1 Kings 9:3)

The Lord did the same for the city of Jerusalem. And he blessed it and put His name there (I Kings 11:36, II Chron 6:6). In the New Testament, the Lord no longer put his name over cities or buildings of worship, but over people – His spiritual body, His church:

Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins ……  (Acts 2:38)

The name of the Lord is placed over one’s life when they are baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. As one writer penned it, “Jesus did not say in Matthew 28:19 to baptism believers in his words (Father, Son and Holy Ghost), but in his name.”

And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence. (Colossians 1:18)

For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body. (Ephesians 5:23)

For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ. (1 Corinthians 12:12)

Through baptism, one’s life is now a place of worship where God places his name upon and blesses:

And he commanded the chariot to stand still: and they went down both into the water, both Philip and the eunuch; and he baptized him.
And when they were come up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord caught away Philip, that the eunuch saw him no more: and he went on his way rejoicing. (Acts 8:38-39)

When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.
And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Ghost came on them; and they spake with tongues, and prophesied. (Acts 19:5-6)

Another Treasure of Self available for the believer is the gift of the Holy Ghost.  Having come through the cleansing waters of repentance (tears & remorse) and baptism (water immersion), the infilling of God’s spiritual waters is now available to you (John 7:37-39) to complete the cycle:

And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. And ye are witnesses of these things.
And, behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you: but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high. (Luke 24:47-49)

But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth. (Acts 1:8)

Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. (Acts 2:38)

The treasure of God’s Holy Spirit is the sealing of your soul over the power of sin and a down payment of the future promises awaiting you in Heaven:

In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise,
Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory. (Ephesians 1:13-14)

Treasures of Revelation

For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. (2 Corinthians 4:6)

The God who spoke light into the darkness as recorded in the Book of Genesis is the same God who gives the knowledge of His glory through the revelation of Jesus Christ.

What revelation? The revelation of who Jesus is. The Book of Revelation was written by the Apostle John around 96 A.D. Notice the book is entitled “Revelation” and not “Revelations”. There is only one revelation, the revelation of the Mighty God in Christ (Rev. 1:1; 4:2, 10-11;5:1; 14:14; 20:11 & 21:5).

Why is revelation important? It is one thing to know someone’s name. It is another thing to know the person behind their name. Now having a heart purged of darkness (repentance), the washing of sin and the name of Jesus (baptism), the power of the Spirit (infilling of the Holy Ghost) and the revelation of Jesus in your life, you can pray, witness and live with authority and power:

Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life. John 8:12  

God has some profound treasures to give us only available from the depths of our brokenness and darkness. And there are more to come. Be Blessed!

Coming Up: Treasures of Souls & Treasures of the Savior

Easter – The Perfection Of God’s Power

And when they were come to the place, which is called Calvary, there they crucified him, and the malefactors, one on the right hand, and the other on the left. Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do. And they parted his raiment, and cast lots. Luke 23:33-34

Ask yourself these questions: “Is it possible for God to lack completion in anything? Can God possibly be not fully perfected in any aspect of His being? Is there something that God had left unfinished?”

Yes He could and yes there was.

A preposterous comment to make? It is not when you consider the story how God resolved this quandary because it IS the reason for that first ‘Easter’. Just hold on because this gets interesting.

It Is About Perfected Power

Where or what could the God of Glory possibly be lacking or not perfected?

In one thing – Strength or Power.

According to God’s standard and God’s economy ‘perfect’ strength can only come one way and God up to this point in the realm of eternity had not yet attained it. There is reason why. Because God’s strength is made complete or ‘perfect’ in weakness:

And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 2 Corinthians 12:9

The word “strength” in this verse is the Greek word (δύναμις) ‘dunamis’; translated to mean force or miraculous power. God is all-powerful and occupies the heavenly glories. But, that power was not perfected because there was one dimension, an enemy in God’s created universe not yet defeated. The enemy was death, the byproduct and offspring conceived by the operation of sin:

Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned: Romans 5:12

Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death. James 1:15

And God in heaven with all power and strength could not contain it. Why? First of all the power to defeat sin and death demanded perfected strength that only perfected weakness could produce.

Weakness does not reside in the heavenly dimension. Heaven occupies eternity along with its storehouses of God’s glory, grandeur, and splendor. This source of weakness must be found elsewhere.

Life Is In The Blood

The remedy or antidote for what destroys life (sin) can only come from that which gives or sustains life – blood:

For the life of the flesh is in the blood: and I have given it to you upon the altar to make an atonement for your souls: for it is the blood that maketh an atonement for the soul. Leviticus 17:11

And almost all things are by the law purged with blood; and without shedding of blood is no remission. Hebrews 9:22

According to God’s commandment only blood can remit and eradicate the root of sin. Since blood and weakness are not “naturally occurring substances” in the heavenly realm, they would have to come from another source.

Sin’s Solution – The ‘Living Word’ Of God

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth. John 1:1, 14

The Lord had the sin solution all figured out “before the foundation of the world”. God zinged a split-fingered, 101 mile-an-hour fastball right past a swinging, spinning devil who thought his pretty little game (pre-fixed mind you by his bookie agent named ‘Death’) was airtight. Wrong.

God performed the perfect union on earth for everything He needed to produce the perfected strength to conquer death, hell and the grave through weakness and blood:

And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn. Luke 2:6-7

The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world. John 1:29

Jesus Christ as the living, breathing, Word of God was both weak and life-energized:

For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: Romans 8:3

The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly. I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep. John 10:10-11

Infinite Weakness Produces Infinite Power

Jesus Christ in the process of becoming infinitely weak through the crucifixion as the Son of God became infinitely strong or powerful. There has never been nor will there ever be an act of earthly weakness so profound. God in flesh, the Creator of all living, placed Himself into the hands of His Creation. It was the crime of all ages. The ‘Creator’ mercilessly killed by the hands of the ‘Created’. The thought is mind-boggling, sobering and paradoxical.

One writer penned it this way: “God’s involvement with shame has spun a web of mystery too intriguing for the human mind to let alone.” The crucifixion was so earth-shattering that the planet would no longer revolve around an axis between the North and South poles. After Calvary the earth would now spin on the vertical axis of Jesus’ cross spanning the heaven and the earth.

The same writer had this to say: “The cross stands at the center of everything. There is not a person born or unborn, there is not a decision that anyone has made or will make that the stark naked cross does not stand a witness to and a judge of.”

Someone recently made a commitment (regarding the Christian walk) as to “Why crucify the flesh? What advantage can possibly result in living a cross-bearing, crucified life before God?”. This is why. It is said ministry is “flow”, the flow of God’s spirit through broken vessels of clay. Something miraculous will result when that flow operates unhindered from fleshly motivations and carnal thinking. Yes, we are not perfect, but that does not preclude the miraculous from happening “through us”. And when it does, nothing and no one can take credit for it, for it belongs to God and God “gets the Glory” for it.

Death’s Resurrection Exalts Jesus To God’s Right Hand Of Power

The Easter story is God’s act of love to confront and forever eradicate the curse of sin. Jesus was the perfect Lamb of God, the only living creature or being that ever lived who was totally “sinless”. What did John the Baptist say upon seeing Jesus for the first time? (John 1:29 Behold the Lamb of God …)

God needed perfected strength to conquer this last enemy death. To accomplish this God had to become perfectly weak so that He might become perfectly strong.

What did this “perfected strength” grant the Son (Flesh) of God? This:

For he must reign (the Sonship, the Son of God), till he hath put all enemies under his feet. The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death. I Corinthians 15:25-26

For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. 1 Corinthians 15:21

All things which include sin, death and Satan are now subject to the authority of Jesus. The victory of Jesus over “all things” through the sacrifice as the perfect Lamb of God at Calvary, Jesus’ resurrection and the resurrection of his church marks the end of the Sonship. Jesus delivers the Kingdom of God to the Father, sits on the ‘right hand’ in heaven’s throne , crowned King of Kings and Lord of Lords:

Then cometh the end, when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when he shall have put down all rule and all authority and power. 1 Corinthians 15:24  

Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. Hebrews 12:2

I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty. Revelation 1:8

Easter – The Message of Love and Hope

Creation has never witnessed nor will it ever witness a weakness so profound, so perplexing or so magnificent then what was displayed on the cross at Calvary 2,000 years ago. God sacrificing his own life for lost humanity:

I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine. As the Father knoweth me, even so know I the Father: and I lay down my life for the sheep. John 10:14-15

Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. John 15:13

When we ever get a grip and clear understanding of Calvary’s Love, we will be forever eternally changed. When you think about it, there are only two principal driving forces in life: love and hate. They both result in action (read the news about the latter).

Jesus came to this world to set the record straight regarding the most powerful and constructive life force on earth: love. Love is the reason for Easter.

It is said the great preacher Jonathan Edwards on July 8, 1741 in Enfield, Connecticut preached a famous message entitled “Sinners In The Hands of an Angry God”. It is recorded the message was so energized and powerful one could almost feel the heat of hell and smell the acrid scent of burning flesh.

Unfortunately, when it comes to God and faith, fear will only take you so far. And if by perchance it happens to take you all the way on your journey home to heaven, it will be a most joyless, sad and burdensome one to say the least.

If Mr. Edwards were alive today the Lord just may alter his title and its content. The impact of his message and its response if preached with the same zeal and passion may bring the same results in this day and age if focused on another aspect of salvation.

There is no question the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom and we are to “work out” our salvation with “fear and trembling”. We definitely need to fear God and reverence Him. But, there is a flip-side to this equation. What is it? It is God’s love.

But, who has yet to speak with lips of clay the whole essence and total expression of what Calvary’s love really means? If they ever do, it will eternally change the souls of those who might hear the truth concerning the love of God as the Savior of the world – Christ Jesus.

It could be that what the generations of people living on earth today who are inundated with fear, hatred, sexual immorality, heartbreak, brokenness  and weariness from the pressures of life need to hear something else.

What this world needs and the one thing the church has at its fingertips is an inundation and heart-transforming message of “Good News” – the gospel of Jesus Christ: (I Corinthians 15:1-4).

And He himself antedates all things, and all things in Him cohere. And He himself is the Head of His Body, the Church. He is the originator, the firstborn out from among the dead, in order that He might become in all things himself the One who is pre-eminent, because in Him was well pleased that all the fullness be permanently at home. And through His agency to reconcile all things to himself, having concluded peace through the blood of His Cross, through Him, whether the things upon the earth or the things in the heavens. Colossians 1:17-20 (Wuest)

It is high time for a resurrection. God is calling His church and the world to be resurrected from the graveyards of past mistakes, failures and SHAME! God is calling for His Creation to sing again.

Happy Easter 2018!

Clean

Washed in the blood of your sacrifice
Your blood flowed red and made me white

My dirty rags are purified
I am clean, I am clean.