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Most of the articles on these WebPages have been written by godly men with a central belief in the Lord Jesus Christ. However as with most of us, they may have different beliefs concerning some particular doctrines. These articles have been made available for the purpose of “gleaning the good” where good can be found. I do not necessarily endorse all that is written by others, anymore than I expect others to endorse all that I write.

   Morning Thoughts by Elder Philip Conley

Isaiah 55:6-7, "Seek ye the LORD while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near: Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the LORD, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon."

This morning, God is perceived by many professing belief in God and Christ as one-sided. They see and proclaim a loving God that is full of mercy, pardon, forgiveness, and love. While this is undoubtedly true, God is depicted in the Bible in other ways than that, and assuredly He is so immense and vast that even looking at the Scriptural pages of His character does not fully encapsulate His being. (Romans 11:33-34) Therefore, while God is described in loving terms, the Scriptures also depict Him as just, abhorring wickedness, and not forbearing indefinitely. (Deuteronomy 32:4) In keeping with these other facets of God's being, we find the Scriptures also detail for us a certain "time element" or scope for them. While our eternal standing with Him is never in jeopardy - come what may in life - we do find other aspects of our daily walk where our fellowship with Him can be in jeopardy. Eternally, there is never such a thing as "too late" with God, for He has made the provisions necessary. Since He made the provisions, they are just right, as He is always "right on time." However, we can find ourselves in positions in life where it is "too late" for us here in some aspect or another.

The prophet writes that we need to seek the LORD "while he may be found." By simple inference of language, we can see that there are times when He may not be found. Again, it can never be stressed enough that God will never look at His own blood-bought sheep and say, "I never knew you." (Matthew 7:23) Yet, He may look at us here and say, "I know you not." (Matthew 25:12) One sense of knowledge is relational like a father to a son. That knowledge (relationship) never changes, but the other is knowledge of honour and delight. That does change for our actions and behaviour do not always bring delight and honour to our Father in heaven. Sometimes, our foolish conduct leaves us without from His appearings and fellowship, for He does not recognize (know or honour) our behaviour.

So, the Lord does not abide indefinitely in fellowship with us. While He seeks those to worship Him in spirit and in truth (John 4:22-24), there are times when it is too late for us to find Him. The prophet uses the example of the wicked man forsaking his wickedness and utilizing the plow of righteousness in servitude to God. By doing so, this wicked person returns unto the Lord. After returning, the Lord has mercy and pardons the wickedness. What is interesting to note about the language of verse 7 is that the prophet says the wicked person will "return" unto the Lord, and he does not say that this is the first time he has come to the Lord. If it were decidedly so that all men shortly after the new birth would come to the Lord and not depart from Him in some degree of obedience and chaste, holy behaviour, there would never be cause to "return unto the Lord." Further still, departing from the Lord in this sense shows that God's own can leave (acting as a wicked person), and possibly not find their way back into fellowship (the Lord not being found at a later time).

This all begs the question, "What is the time frame for finding the Lord when He has departed from us for wickedness and transgression?" This is a fair question, and let us see what Holy Writ has to say about this matter for a few, select circumstances. One overarching principle that should be utilized is to seek Him as quickly and earnestly as possible. Delay in seeking Him will never be a wise decision, but there are times when delay is necessary in performing some of our obligations of service to Him as we seek Him (which we will delve into more deeply). Therefore, if it is called today, let us seek Him out of a pure heart fervently. (Hebrews 3:13, I Peter 1:22)

When it comes to our individual, daily walk with God, our fellowship with Him is dependent on how much we know about Him. Would it be reasonable for a little child, freshly born of the Spirit to be able to walk with God thanking Him for His Son's sacrifice, eternal security, and the blessings of the church? No, the new-born babe has not the detailed knowledge of these things, although the babe does know God and love God. (Jeremiah 31) So, since there is a correlation between knowledge and fellowship - with more knowledge being a potential for greater fellowship - there would reasonably be expected to be a correlation between knowledge and the time frame of seeking the Lord. Our Saviour declares that more knowledge requires more service and more diligent repentance. (Luke 12:48) Therefore, if someone has known and tasted from the sweet rivers of Canaan's land, sat under the majestic glory of God during the heralding of the gospel, offered up heart-felt yearnings of praise in song, and coupled this with diligent reading, study, and prayer, that same person has much required of them to refrain from evil (more quickly) and seek repentance for wrongdoing.

Paul describes people that have experienced these rich and good things in Hebrews 6:4-6. These people were not just born-again sheep, but they had tasted, enjoyed, partaken, and delighted in days' past in the glory of God, power of the world to come, and His Spirit. Yet, what is their case now? Paul's language ought to stir our blood and soul to renewed service of vigor, for these previously blessed people were in a state "impossible to renew them again unto repentance." Now, they are not beyond God's ability to stir them, but Paul's language shows that anyone's effort from the preacher, mom and dad, etc, will not persuade them out of their present course. It is indeed too late for them to enjoy those things again that they once enjoyed. The Lord could no longer be found by/for them in fellowship to walk as they once walked.

Therefore, in our individual service, the knowledge that we possess is necessarily tied to our "time" to seek the Lord and Him be found. While we are not given an exact time in days, let us be diligent every day to seek Him and honour Him for His excellent majesty with thanksgiving for His tender mercy. In so doing, may we put away our own wickedness, "pet sins," and renew our service to Him thankful for His pardon and mercy in our lives.

Moving to another aspect of individual service, how long should we forbear with those that are blights and spots in our feasts of charity? How long should we bear with those that departed from the truth, and how long should we suffer those that seek our hurt and/or death? An argument has been posed in days' past that we should forbear with these things indefinitely and suffer them unceasingly as God is full of forgiveness and longsuffering. Therefore, argue they, we should be full of forgiveness and longsuffering as well. Again, that is only looking at one facet of God's being, for indeed He is longsuffering, forgiving, and forbearing. But, that will not last indefinitely. There is a day coming when that longsuffering will end as the world burns and we are caught up to Him. (II Peter 3) Here in this life, He does not forbear certain things indefinitely as His judgments against Sodom and Gomorrah, the world in the flood, Israel and Judah in captivity, Jerusalem in AD 70, and many others show.

The argument, therefore, that we should unceasingly suffer these things will not stand up on that ground, but God has also given us ways to deal with these things. If someone has departed from the truth, we should labour with them through two admonitions and then reject them. (Titus 3:10) What happens if we continue forbearing a heretick, welcoming him into bonds of fellowship, even have him preach for us, etc. By not honouring God's command to us, we may find ourselves too late to seek and find him for not leaving off our unrighteous conduct. Further still, the Lord's departure from us may yield a departure in our own soundness of Biblical theology as we become like those we fellowship and defend, as history has sadly so often shown.

Paul did not tell Timothy and Rome to forbear profane and vain babblings and their teachers, but rather to shun and avoid them. (II Timothy 2:16, Romans 16:17) And, if someone is seeking our hurt or death for what we believe about God, we should be peaceable with them as much as possible, but we should also seek to avoid them as well. Paul's prayer was to be delivered away from wicked and unreasonable men not "to them." (II Timothy 3:2) If we find ourselves in the company of men that slap us on the cheek, offend us, and despitefully use us, we should offer them the other cheek, forgive them up to 490 times in a day if necessary, and pray for them. (Matthew 5:39, Matthew 18:21-22, Matthew 5:44) Yet, as a preacher friend of mine likes to say, "For goodness sake, try to stay away from them." By continuing to keep company with them, we invite mocking with our pearls being cast before swine. (Matthew 7:6)

What about in a church sense? As the church should have much knowledge, much is required of her. Christ instructs one such church - Ephesus - to repent lest He come "quickly" to remove the candlestick out of its place. (Revelation 2:5) If the church is in the midst of error, we should seek to quickly leave the wickedness, for He has claimed His actions on this matter as quickly coming to remove that church's very light of existence. As He often states in that address to the seven churches of Asia (Revelation 2-3), His work endures. If He shuts, no man will open. If He opens, no man will shut. If He removes the candlestick, so go the ears as well to hear what the Spirit sayeth unto the churches. What if the church is having problems with morality? Paul says to remove such a one from among you. (I Corinthians 5) What if the church is having problems with false doctrine? Paul gives the pattern for admonitions and rejection.

Whether speaking of a church, individual, or even a nation, the Lord may be absented from us for prolonged disobedience and wickedness. While this subject should never be used as a "scare tactic" among men, we need to know of this truth to better persuade men (those of us that know the terror of the Lord). (II Corinthians 5:11) May we root out our own gall of bitterness, weeds of unbelief, and thorns and cares of life. May we do them as swiftly as we can, falling upon our knees in humble obedience and sincere repentance that He would renew within us a right spirit. (Psalm 51:10) By doing these things as often as necessary and quickly as possible, He has promised when we find Him that we will find that mercy and pardon that is the sweet peace of the soul.

In Hope,

Bro Philip