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MARCH 12 2017 CONVERGENCE

Convergence

 

A rich man was in the habit of giving his wife an expensive piece of jewelry every year on her birthday. One year he might phone the jeweler and say, “Send me your finest pearl necklace, along with your bill.” Or, “Send me your finest diamond pendant, along with your bill.” Or the finest emerald bracelet or ruby ring. Each time, the jeweler did as the rich man asked, dispatching a messenger to the rich man’s mansion to deliver the jewelry piece in a box along with his bill.

But every year the rich man would play a game with the jeweler. He would send the messenger back to the jeweler along with the original box, a note, and a check. The check was always written in the amount of several thousand dollars less than the price on the jeweler’s bill. The note would say, “Sir, I like the jewelry piece, but I do not like the price. If you will accept the enclosed check for a reduced amount, then please return the jewelry box with the seal unbroken.”

For years the jeweler put up with the rich man’s game, accepting the reduced check, and returning the box with the seal unbroken. He still made a profit on the jewelry, even if it was a lower profit than he liked—and at least he was able to keep the rich man’s trade year after year. In time, however, the jeweler began to tire of this charade.

Finally the day came when the rich man placed an order for a lavish diamond necklace, and the jeweler decided he would not get clipped again. As usual, the jeweler sent the necklace in a box, along with his bill. Again, as usual, the box was returned with a reduced check for payment and a note.

Enough was enough! The jeweler refused the check, kept the box, and sent the messenger away in disgust. When he opened the box to reclaim the necklace, he found that the necklace had been removed. In its place was a check for the entire amount of the jeweler’s bill.

For years, the rich man had been sending the entire asking price of each jewelry piece—hidden inside the sealed jewelry box. In all that time, the jeweler had accepted thousands of dollars less than he could have received—because he didn’t open the box and look inside.

 

The jeweler had some blessings during his dealings with rich man. He still made a profit over each piece of jewelry that he had sold. But there were more blessings available to him if he had just looked in the box. This is the way many Christians are. We are already receiving more blessings than we deserve and we ought to be grateful for the many we have. Yet, there are more waiting for us. We do not receive them because we are not “looking in the box.” The box is God’s word. If we would but look and receive what is there for us then we would have the blessings that wait.

 

How many do not want any more blessings for God? Raise your hand. Those of you who did not raise your hand – this message is for you.

 

Turn to Deuteronomy 28:1-6.  Also read 28:11-12.

This principle of receiving blessings because of obedience to God’s commandments was not restricted to just the Israelites as they left Egypt and were seeking to enter the Promised Land. It continued throughout the Old Testament period. Solomon writes:

 

A faithful man will abound with blessings,

But whoever hastens to be rich will not go unpunished.

(Proverbs 28:20)

 

For whom do blessings abound? For the person who is faithful to the Lord. Obeying God is contrasted with seeking to be rich. Prosperity is like happiness. If you seek happiness you either don’t find it or, if you find it, it is only fleeting. But if you seek God’s righteousness you not only get it but you get happiness too.

 

For the child of God, if you seek to be rich you either fail to find riches or, if you find them, they are fleeting. But if you seek God’s righteousness you not only get it but you get riches, too. They will not always be monetary riches (although they may be), but you will be rich in the things that matter the most.

 

The faithful person will abound with blessings!

 

This principle is not negated under the new covenant. It is continued. After Paul encourages the Corinthians to be faithful, he writes:

 

He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness. You will be enriched in every way to be generous in every way, which through us will produce thanksgiving to God. (2 Cor. 9:10-11)

 

Jesus Himself confirmed this truth.

 

“Give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you.” (Luke 6:38)

 

[I] If you desire blessing then seek to obey the Lord’s commandments. Those who have committed their lives to follow Jesus already have a desire to obey the Lord’s commands. Why is it then that we seem to lack blessings? It is quite simple. It is very simple. We are not obeying the Lords directives. We may think we are. But, if the blessings are meager then our obedience is meager.

 

Why do I say that our obedience is meager? Take the Greatest Commandment.  “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” (Matthew 22:37)

 

We do love the Lord with our hearts, with our souls, and with our minds. But few of us love him with all our hearts, all our souls, and all our minds. Our affections are divided. Proof of this is found in how we spend our money. It is an amazing fact that money is a measuring rod. Money measures your affections. Money cannot buy love. But love buys money. Love “buys” money in the sense that we spend money on what we love. Money measures our love.

 

It is also a fact that only 20% of church members nationwide are giving 10% or more of their income back to God. I have been preaching twice each year on giving (and this is not one of those messages) and have reiterated many times that under the new covenant we are not required to tithe, that is, give 10%. But we are required to give and this giving should actually be more than 10% because we have inherited greater privileges than the Old Testament saints and are recipients of greater blessings. Since 80% are giving far less than 10% that 80% show that they love other things more than God. Would we not sacrifice almost anything for our children? Then how much more should we sacrifice for God, for we must love the Father and Christ more than our own children?

 

Take the Second Greatest Commandment. “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” (22:38) Do we? I believe we do love our neighbors – that does not mean just those who live in our neighborhood, it means anyone we come in contact with. But I doubt we love them as we love ourselves. Do you want to go to hell? Raise your hand if you want to go to hell. No! Knowing what Jesus taught about hell, that it is real and that it is terrible beyond imagination, we do not want to end up there. But we seem to have little concern about our coworkers and others that we meet. If we did we would do more to seek their salvation. Few of us love our neighbors the way we love ourselves.

 

Our blessings are meager because our obedience is meager.

 

We all have a desire to obey the Lord, but many times our lives do not seem to match what is in our hearts. We can even find ourselves discouraged because we often know the Lord’s will but find ourselves struggling to live it out.  We may feel that we simply cannot do it. That feeling, if we have it, is a lie. What has God spoken? He has spoken through the apostle John.

 

For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome.  (I John 5:3) We may feel as if his commandments are burdensome at times, but the apostle John says they are not. We live by faith not by feelings. We trust God’s word.

 

Yes, there are times that we know the Lord’s will and we find it difficult to obey. But, as we love God we find that our desire to please him transcends all else. I tell you, the main reason our obedience is often meager is not because of weakness, but because God’s children are ignorant of God’s will. We must know God’s will if we are to obey God’s will!

 

The three ways that we come to know God’s will is by, first and foremost, reading his words – the Bible. Also, by hearing the Scriptures taught – coming to church and listening carefully to the sermon and coming to Sunday school. [Present Evelyn and Suzanne as examples.] And, by reading good Christian books that, likewise, teach eternal truths.

 

One evening a speaker who was visiting the United States wanted to make a telephone call. He entered a phone booth, but found it to be different from those in his own country. It was beginning to get dark, so he had difficulty finding the number in the directory. He noticed that there was a light in the ceiling, but he didn't know how to turn it on. As he tried again to find the number in the fading twilight, a passerby noted his plight and said, "Sir, if you want to turn the light on, you have to shut the door." To the visitor's amazement and satisfaction, when he closed the door, the booth was filled with light. He soon located the number and completed the call.

In a similar way, when we draw aside in a quiet place to read and meditate upon God’s word and to pray, we must block out our busy world and open our hearts to the Father. Our darkened world of disappointments and trials will then be illuminated. We will enter into communion with God, we will sense His presence, and his will shall be revealed to us. Our Lord often went to be alone with the Heavenly Father.

 

The best time to do this is in the morning. In the Bible we find God's servants rising up early in the morning.  Abraham, Jacob, Moses, Joshua, Gideon, Hannah, and many more did this.[1]

God's servants had the habit of dealing with God early in the morning. Every one of them had the habit of waking early in the morning and fellowshipping with God early in the morning. They rose up early in the morning to do many things related to God's business. They also rose up early in the morning to consecrate themselves. Although there is no commandment in the Bible that tells us to get up early, there are sufficient examples in the Bible to show us that all faithful servants of God rise up early. Even the Lord Jesus Himself rose up early. He rose up very early in the morning, while it was still night, and went away to a deserted place to pray (Mark 1:35). When He wanted to appoint the twelve apostles, He called them to Himself early in the morning (Luke 6:13). If the Lord had to rise up early to do these things, how much more do we need to rise up early?

 

How about the servants of God who are not mentioned in the Bible, like George Müller, John Wesley, and many other famous servants of God? They also rose up early in the morning. We can say that almost all the ones we know of or have read about from books, who are of any use in God's hands, pay attention to the matter of rising early. They call this early rising "morning watch.[2]" All servants of God emphasize morning watch. The term morning watch itself tells us that it is done early in the morning. Have you heard of anyone who keeps watch when the sun is already up? Never! One keeps morning watch early in the morning. This is a good habit, and we Christians should cultivate this habit. God's children should not be sloppy people. The church has been practicing this for years. We should maintain this good habit of meeting God early in the morning.

 

Early African converts to Christianity were earnest and regular in private devotions. Each one reportedly had a separate spot in the thicket where he would pour out his heart to God. Over time the paths to these places became well worn. As a result, if one of these believers began to neglect prayer, it was soon apparent to the others. They would kindly remind the negligent one, "Brother, the grass grows on your path."

 

Has grass been growing on your path?

 

Our blessings are meager because our obedience is meager.

Our obedience is meager because our knowledge is meager.

Our knowledge is meager because our morning watch is meager.

 

Don’t let grass grow on your path!

 

It is all so good! Obedience is good. Knowledge with humility is good. Morning watch is good. However, obedience is only half the story. God’s love is the other half, the more important half!

 

When our obedience and God’s love converge, when they meet, the windows of heaven are opened up! This is a divine convergence!

 

But wait! Isn’t God’s love always present in the life of a disciple? Yes, it is! If it is always present then why wouldn’t simple obedience be enough? Just like faith, God’s love has to be personal. It must be experienced by those who would know its goodness. It must be realized be each one of us. Otherwise, it is just hanging out there. It is like a young man who has his heart set upon a young lady. He cares about her and so very much wants to get to know her but he is too shy to say anything. Month after month goes by and he can only pine. All the while she loves him too, he just doesn’t know it. If he knew it he would be able to speak with her and experience it!

 

So it is with God’s love. We must know it.

 

[II.] If you desire blessing then know God’s love for you.  Many years ago a friend of mine gave me Christian music CD as a gift. It was entitled, Father’s House, by Brian Doerksen. There is a song on that CD that deeply touches me. The song is Father to Son and communicates the Father’s love to us.  The lyrics are these:

 

Son, you are my treasure, son 

Love beyond measure fills my heart for you 

My son, I want to be your friend

to walk close beside you till all time will end 

REFRAIN:
And every song you hear

Will whisper that my love is near

Golden notes and melodies

Touching you in harmony

Son, your life is precious, so

You need to know this truth will never die

 

Those words beautifully communicate God’s love for you and me. As we understand and believe God’s special and unfailing love for us as individuals (and we should, because it is absolutely true if we belong to Jesus) then the blessings begin to flow. Knowing his love is in itself a blessing of blessings.

 

Knowing his love for you changes your perspective on everything! Every song that you hear whispers that his love is near. Notes and melodies will touch us differently. Your life is precious to the Father!

 

When you embrace God’s love for you then you will start seeing a convergence of small blessings coming to you. Maybe just a dream. Maybe a friend saying something to you that lifts your spirit. Maybe just a sense that God’s favor is upon you. The blessings begin to increase and you enter the flow of grace. The blessings will begin to multiply.

 

I made this statement just a few minutes ago. It is important enough to repeat and emphasize:

 

[III.] When our obedience and God’s love converge, when they meet, the windows of heaven are opened up! This is a divine convergence!

 

If we have these two wonderful things, obedience and God’s love, then we will see a great change in our lives. We will be in the divine convergence where there will be an overflow of blessing (Malachi 3:10). Even those around us will notice it (3:12). It will be delightful!

 

[IV. Conclusion] What are we to do? Remember this:

 

Our blessings are meager because our obedience is meager.

Our obedience is meager because our knowledge is meager.

Our knowledge is meager because our times with the Lord, in his word, are meager.

 

Therefore, we must set aside the time to quiet our minds, rest our souls, and experience the nearness of the Lord. We should make this one of the highest priorities of our lives, not allowing the many distractions of life to pull us away from our quiet time. The best time for this is in the morning, before the day bombards us, before others are awake. But, if that time is not feasible (possibly due to a work schedule), then still set aside a time when you and the Lord are alone and the Scriptures are open.

 

Let me ask you again, has grass been growing on your path? It is time that it stops.

 

Know that he will bless that time and make it full of life. As you see his will in his word you just follow in loving obedience because his commandments are not burdensome and his life is in you.

 

Know his love. Experience the convergence. See the flow of blessing overtake you! It is going to happen!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
  1. [1] Abraham—Gen. 19:27; 21:14; 22:3
  2. Jacob—Gen. 28:18
  3. Moses—Exo. 8:20; 9:13; 24:4; 34:4
  4. Joshua—Josh. 3:1; 6:12; 7:16; 8:10
  5. Gideon—Judg. 6:38
  6. Hannah—1 Sam. 1:19
  7. Samuel—1 Sam. 15:12
  8. David—1 Sam. 17:20
  9. Job—Job 1:5
  10. Mary—Luke 24:22; Mark 16:9; John 20:1
  11. The apostles—Acts 5:21

 

[2] These two paragraphs on morning watch are taken from Watchman Nee in The Collected Works of Watchman Nee, Volume 48, Messages for Building Up New Believers (1).