How Dwelleth the Love of God in Him
By Billie Marie Zal
(From the August, 1995 Wingspread)
“But whosoever hath this world’s good,
And seeth his brother have need, and
Shutteth up his compassions from him,
How dwelleth the love of God in him?
(I John 3:17)
With these words from our God’s Holy Spirit, we are judged. And, in the evening of our lives, it has been said, we are judged by LOVE.
Week after week, year after year, Christians flock to buildings to hear their pastor teach and preach and admonish them. Their shouts of “AMEN” disappear as soon as they hit the restaurants after the meetings are over.
How do I know? Because this is all that I ever knew about Christian living until that frigid January night in Chicago when I was born of God’s Spirit and washed in His blood. I had been considered a “good” Christian. I joined a group of young adults who visited Cook County Hospital and I felt pretty good about myself as I gave what I thought was “generously” when the collection plate was passed around. I often sang a solo, and I was a choir member. But I was not a Christian, and had I died I would have gone to hell.
Then the “Sweet Son of God” came to me, and never again did I have that dullness of mind which blots out the reality of the resurrected life! I began to learn HOW TO GIVE.
Take the story of the widow’s cruse of oil (I Kings 17:8-16). The prophet Elijah was told by God’s Spirit to go to the city of Zarephath and there a widow would feed him. When he arrived this widow was gathering sticks as she was preparing the last meal for her and her son. Elijah had asked her to fetch him a drink of water. That immediate response to his request gave Elijah the confidence that he had met the woman of whom God spoke. She was going to use the last bit of meal in a barrel, and the last of the oil, to make two cakes of bread, feed herself and her son, and die. The famine had taken it’s toll and she had come to the end of her resources.
Then he asked her for another thing. Elijah said to her, “Make me a little cake first. . .” Was God asking the impossible? Was the prophet selfishly indulging himself at the expense of her son’s life? She didn’t think so. Her obedience to this command indicated that she had always been a woman of prayer and of faith in her God. She did his bidding, reasonable or not!
So she made the prophet a little cake, and then what happened?
Every believer I have ever heard speak on this story assumed that after she gave her all, the oil miraculously appeared daily, and the meal in the barrel, too. But as I read this Word, something else comes to
me. God knows those that are His, and because she obeyed His Word, God gave her favor with those in the city who had oil and meal stashed away! As she used it up daily, she asked and received enough from them to keep herself and her son alive.
People love miracles. I read recently in George Williams’ Commentary that when believers are still in their infancy - no matter how long they have been saved - they will believe in miracles when they won’t believe in the God of the miracles. They need God AND MIRACLES to trust Him.
And who doesn’t love a miracle? It is exciting to see in our mind’s eye a huge cruse of oil, and a big barrel of meal, just continually being filled from nowhere! And God could have done this. Anyone who has an intimate relationship with Him and is well acquainted with the Word, and read and believed the 38th through the 42nd chapter of the book of Job, knows beyond a doubt that God can do anything.
But it is more to the glory of God to touch and change a stingy hearted people who had built up a store for themselves, than to make oil and meal just appear out of nowhere. Jesus made this clear when He said it was harder to change a heart than to heal a body. He knew that people sought Him for miracles of health, or for a food supply, more than they would seek Him for redemption and cleansing. But what a glory to His Name when people seek Him for HIMSELF.
This is what the widow did. She knew God. She gave herself and her son to Him, and then He gave her favor with those who had more than they needed. One of the most difficult things for a Christian to do is to open his purse and give and give and give in spite of the knowledge that what he has might not last.
Then there is the story of the widow’s mite. Jesus was observing the treasury pot in the Temple and He took notice of HOW they gave. I heard a preacher once teach that this little widow gave “out of her want,” which means that she wanted something from God and that’s why she gave. She gave her mite, because she loved God more than she loved herself and she wanted to give Him something. Her story is told by Jesus in His Word. That is her reward. It we give to God because we want something back, forget it! You have your reward if you get it back.
I am also reminded of the parable of the talents (Matthew 25:25). A Master who had servants had to travel to a far country and before he left he called his servants to him, and gave each a responsibility to perform while he was away. In New Testament days a talent was made in silver, and was worth about $240.00. The one servant who had the most gave back to his master with interest. So did the second servant who had a little less. He, too, gave back with interest. But the third servant who had the least hid his, fearing that when the master returned he would have lost the talent and received heavy punishment.
Sometimes I wonder if the lesson is this: Money is not the question. Out lives are ours while our Master Jesus is in the far country (Heaven). He gives to each, severally, as HE WILLS. It would have been far greater glory to the Master for the third servant, who had been given very little, to come up with the most at His return. The third servant had a miserly heart, filled with fear, not trusting the master to reward him at all. He would have coveted that talent and never let it go. That was his mind set.
But Jesus, our Master, expects those of us who have been given the least to glorify Him by giving the most! I remember two old gentlemen, retarded and unloved by their family, coming to me one day while I was
shopping for groceries. They wore shabby overalls, and they just stood there, smiling at me. What could I do? I thought of their need, so I bought them groceries and drove them home. They lived in a terrible shanty about nine miles out of town, and the southern part of Arkansas was fiercely hot. When I turned on the air conditioner they were like two little kids, excited about the good, cold air. They had body odor. But it did not matter. Jesus had brought them to me. And by loving them, I loved Him.
As the years passed by they informed me of their birthdays and happily waited for their cakes. At Thanksgiving and Christmas I almost bought out the store - food that would last, good things like ham and stuff. They got a radio and batteries because they had no electricity. When I finally moved away, they were the only ones who cried. I took a photo of them, standing there in front of that little shack, tears coursing down their faces. I could never have forgotten them, and I didn’t.
Recently I saw on TV a minister who was talking about his blessings. He said he had thousands of church members and forty million dollars in assets. Everyone cheered. I did not cheer. I wondered how any believer in the Lord Jesus could ever accrue forty million dollars? How can it be?
I was schooled in the true meaning of faith in God. It was hard school, and it still is. But faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. And we must live it if we are ever to know God intimately. In my beginning years of the new life I needed a car. My old one was totally disabled, and one day it came to a shuddering halt in my driveway and breathed its last breath.
What was I to do? I could not ask people to help. God had told me that He was my trust and my supply. I had not been ashamed of that old car; it had upholstery that hung in strips, and a hole in the floorboard. When I drove into the parking lots of fancy churches where I ministered, people laughed. But after the service they didn’t laugh anymore. Jesus had visited them in a broken down old car, and given them hope in His Love.
I did not know HOW God would give me a car that worked, but I knew that He would. One day a country preacher drove up and asked how we were doing. I said fine. Then he noticed the old car sitting there, and he asked if it was working okay. I replied, “No. . . it won’t go anymore.”
He then said, “Well, then, there is only one thing to do. We’ve gotta ask God to send you another one.” He threw off his hat and he began to rend the heavens with his prayers. I never heard anyone pray like that. He said, “GOD, YOU KNOW THIS DAUGHTER OF YOUR’S HAS TO HAVE A CAR TO GET TO THOSE PEOPLE YOU SEND HER TO. NOW WE ARE EXPECTING YOU TO DO IT.”
After he left I thought maybe some rich Christian would “hear of my need” and get me a car. But I had to look to my cruse of oil and barrel of meal, instead. What did I have personally that God could use? My mind pictured a beautiful ring that had been sent to me from India. It was made of heavy gold, and it was encrusted with nine diamonds and five rubies, shaped into the form of a crown. I had not been able to wear it to the little churches where I spoke. It seemed inconsistent somehow, to bedeck myself so I had pushed it back in a corner of a drawer.
I realized then that God wanted my ring. It was my cruse of oil and barrel of meal . . . and I gave it. I sold the ring and bought another used car, which wasn’t much, but it got me to those places where God’s Love
wanted to go. There was no miracle at all - except the miracle of God’s Love changing my heart and granting me grace to let go of that which I had.
The day could come, of course, when there would be more than we need. But until then we obey Him and receive the joy of knowing that the great God of all creation, and who created everything that is, knows us personally and trusts us to give as He commands.
May each of you, in your own way, look to Him and check out your cruse of oil and your barrel of meal. You might just have more than you think you have! And in the giving of what you have you will find joy unspeakable and full of glory.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Margaret & Rodney's Hosta bed
Brian & Gail's Hostas & the path leading up to our house
It’s spring time on the mountain again, and everyone has been busy with yard work, pulling weeds, cutting grass, raking leaves, and trying to get flowers started. It’s still a little early for most of the flowers, but everything else is starting to get green, as you can see from the pictures. The pollen is all over our decks and cars and everyone is sneezing and coughing, but not really sick.
Eddie is having a test done tomorrow to see if he can have a surgery to clear out the arteries in his legs. If they okay him for the procedure it would hopefully mean that something could be done to help him walk better. He and Shirley are doing well. Age is catching up with all eight of us here, so please remember to keep our health in prayer.
Someone is planning to put in an auto salvage yard on the land which borders our property to the west. They had just cleaned up the place and had it looking nice, and now they want to put another “junk pile” there. Along with neighbors across the highway, we plan to attend the County Planning Board meeting later this week and voice our opposition. So pray about this, as well, that the Board will deny their request.
A few weeks ago we sent out a general letter to all of our prisoners asking for prayer and understanding regarding our current ordeal, a matter of much concern to us all. The replies to this letter were, for the most part, very encouraging. The love and concern was evident in your letters, and no doubt such words were precious to God, and a real comfort to us. We thank each of you.
There is a subject I have hesitated to write about, but the replies, or lack thereof, from a very few of you, leads me to feel that this is a good time for this lesson.
I found something Billie wrote in September, 1994: “I am thankful that I have a God who does not degrade Himself by begging me to ‘receive Him.’ We don’t receive Him, He receives us, if we are of the elect! The doctrine of election is never preached, except by Dr. Gene Scott, and it is common thinking that anyone can make it to heaven. Anyone cannot. Some are foreordained to heaven, some are foreordained to hell. I don’t know why, and God has not told me, but it is a truth that will be manifested at the end of time, as we know it.”
We don’t teach anything that is not in the Bible. I need proof in God’s Word before I believe anything. So here are some scriptures that will show the truth of this doctrine:
Acts 13:48 - “And as many as were ordained to eternal life believed.”
John 6:65 - “Therefore said I unto you that no man can come unto me except it were given unto him of my Father.”
Titus 1:1 - “Paul a servant of God, and an apostle of Jesus Christ, according to faith of God’s elect.”
Matthew 24:31 - “. . . and they shall gather together His elect.”
John 15:16 - “Ye have not chosen Me but I have chosen you. . .”
Ephesians 1:4 - “According as He hath chosen us in Him before the foundation of the world. . . having predestined us unto the adoption to the good pleasure of His will.”
There are too many scriptures of proof for me to write them all here. But it is evident that we are chosen, elected and ordained to salvation, or we aren’t.
This is not an easy subject and I understand why it is so rarely talked about. And it’s true that God is “not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance” (II Peter 3:9). God gave us all a free will. He did not want to inhabit heaven with a bunch of puppets. God obviously loves variety. Just look at nature, the colors, shapes, sizes, and even personalities of birds and animals. All are different.
Why He chose some of us and not others is a mystery, which is beyond any of us to completely understand. If there is an answer that we can understand, it must be that He knew in His foreknowledge who would want Him and who would not.
As a result of being chosen, we receive the grace to repent. That grace (unmerited favor) makes us helpless to save ourselves. We would much rather save ourselves by good deeds, good works, and just trying to be all that we can be. Surely God will look with favor on a person doing their best? I’m afraid not. We all fall short of God’s perfection, without exception.
Everyone who is truly saved, born again by the spirit of God, has at some time been totally and completely sick of themselves. Not sick of their family, their surroundings, or their circumstances, but sick and tired of who they are and what they are. That is the first step toward God. From then on He works. He enters in and works a work in your life that you could not do yourself. And from then on you are dependent upon Him alone. This is really the key to all these questions about election, etc.
We have a free will given to us by God, and it’s something He won’t tamper with. He is helpless to save us until we know we need saving. The humbling (humiliation, if you will) is possibly the answer to why some are elected, or chosen, and others are not. It is so hard to know and admit that we can’t save ourselves.
Some of you will live a life trying to be good enough for heaven, and it can’t be done. God wants a people that will trust Him, not in their own resources. You don’t trust Him when you are trying to make it by your own behavior. What you are doing is making the redemptive work of Christ null and void, saying by your acts that it was totally unnecessary for Jesus to die in your place, because you’re good enough to redeem yourself.
The bible book stores of today are full of “self-help” books, and a false doctrine of fixing ourselves has entered all churches. The flesh cannot be fixed, and if you believe that it can you may be a person who is not of the elect. And you are not of the elect and chosen because God knew your pride or self important image would keep you from crying out to Him for help.
God is a spirit. We can never please Him in the flesh. “There is no condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8;1). We are accepted by God when He sees our faith and trust in Jesus Christ’ atoning work on our behalf.
For Robert Heffernan, Grady, Arkansas, for his health, and that he’ll be able to walk on his own soon.
For Randal Smith, Okmulgee, Oklahoma, for his health, and that he gets approved for Social Security disability soon. Randal just discharged from prison last month.
For Anthony Grayson at Fallsburg, New York, who is working on his appeal.
For Rudy Sisneros, Buena Vista, Colorado, that the Colorado Innocence Project will take his case.
For Jerry Herring at Huntsville, Texas, who is awaiting the parole board’s decision. He now has a place to parole to.
For Jimmy Huff, Colorado City, Texas, who needs a new car.
For Timothy Bufford’s children, that he will hear from them soon. Timothy is at Florence, Arizona.
For everyone at the Oklahoma State Penitentiary, and that conditions will improve there soon.
For Freddie Lee Lott, Galesburg, Illinois, that his lung cancer stays in remission.
For our neighbor, Sandra Beckam, who continues to fight cancer.
For Juan Cervante’s friend, Hope, who is learning how to walk again after major surgery. Juan is at Lexington, Oklahoma.
For Willie Harper at Joliet, Illinois, who is about to undergo stomach surgery.
For Cody Campbell, a new brother from Florence, Arizona.
For Willie Clark, Iowa Park, Texas, that he will be transferred closer to Houston soon.
For Ken Hogan, McAlester, Oklahoma, for a shoulder injury he suffered playing handball.
For Pastor Melissa Scott & her ministry in Los Angeles.
For Sister Ann & all the Carmelite Nuns in Little Rock.
For all of us at Wingspread.
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