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Sunday, May 3, 2009


J. Grant Swank, Jr.

". . .and fulfill all the good pleasure of his goodness. . ." II Thessalonians 2:22

Why are we here? We are here to bring pleasure to the heart of God. All else will disappear. There is nothing that will outlast our providing for the ". . .good pleasure. . ." of God.

Yet we spend most of our spiritual energies attempting to get blessings from heaven. By following Jesus, what can it get me? How can I be healed? How can God give me money to pay the bills? How can I pray long and hard enough to find another job?

And when we do not get our way, we get depressed. We privately complain to our souls that God has forgotten us, is too severe on us, doesn't know what He is doing with us. So we have spent out Christian commitment on ourselves. We have taken the message of the cross and prostituted it for what deity can provide us.

The problem obviously is that we have forgotten why we are here on the earth. How easily our priorities can tumble from God's expectations to our self-lust.

Look at Jesus on Calvary's tree. There you find the Son pleasing the Father. ". .
.obedient even to the death of the cross."

Son saw through Father's will to the close, not reneging, not second-guessing, not whimpering. Jesus knew that He was on this planet for one chief purpose--to fulfill redemption's plan set in place before the world was set in motion. That would fulfill all the good pleasure of Father's goodness.

So it is that we are here to satisfy the Father--". . .fulfill all the good pleasure of his goodness. . ." It is not our goodness for which we are planted. It is for His goodness--His good pleasure.

The believer then finds the cross easy to carry when he turns his aching heart away from his present plight to take in Son upon Calvary and Father upon heaven's throne. In that combined scenario one discovers what Jesus meant when He challenged His own to ". . .seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness. . ." In other words,
put as first priority your making God glad.

We look upward to heaven to see there our Sinless Sacrifice. In that is our pleasure. In that is our thanksgiving to Him. In that is our opportunity to make heaven happy.

Concentrate less upon your needs and more upon the happiness you can bring to God. Let go of your list of worries and turn your mind toward what God offered you upon Calvary's tree. Do not fret about tomorrow but look back to Redemption upon Golgotha. Contemplate the cross as it relates to you personally.

The more you take in the price heaven paid in order to set you on the heaven course, the more you will discover that you are here to praise heaven. Thank God. Lift high the name of Jesus. Tell Him now what His provision means to you. Adore Jesus, not your blessings. Worship Jesus, not what He can give you. Bow down before Jesus, not setting yourself up for the next request shot upward.

In this you will come upon ". . .the good pleasure of his goodness. . ."


J. Grant Swank, Jr.

". . .Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels." II Thessalonians l:7

As you plow the gospel cross daily, remember that the age becomes increasingly dark according to prophecy.

Better to have the cross way assuredly practiced as a lifestyle now than to be caught weak in the troublesome times.

The cross enables the spirit to muscle up. It is the means by which we are kept trim. When we finally come to the realization that we are here to adore Jesus, worship Jesus, live for Jesus--chiefly because of His sacrifice for us upon Calvary--then we home down at the cross without complaint. It becomes our honor; we would not regard it as anything less.

Therefore, the cross becomes our dwelling place night and day, thereby strengthening us for the end times.

It was with such delight that Paul wrote that he anticipated the coming of Jesus from heaven with ". . .his mighty angels."

Look up. See Jesus approaching. He is not alone. There are the redeemed of all time with Him. There is a company of loyal angels in His entourage as well. He is mighty, garbed in power to established the judgment reign.

Jesus once came as a little baby; He will come again as the Monarch of time and space.

As you carry the cross, picture yourself with this King Jesus now and then. Recognize that this world has turned so utterly foolish as to live for any other goal than to be in His company. How shallow is the worldly play. Yet how totally spent are its devotees. Therefore, you and I will commit ourselves to yield all powers to the approaching realm.

See your cross then as that ladder reaching upward to heaven. It is that upright timber that latches onto the coming Hope. You are already symbolizing by your cross carrying that your eyes are gazing heavenward, your allegiance is beyond this world, your sights are upon the Personage of all history, indeed the Ruler of eternity.

He will come with the robe dipped in blood, reminding us of His sacrificial blood spilled from the holy tree. You now carry upon your soul shoulders the cross bearing His blood for your sins. They are canceled, remembered not against you ever, as if you never committed those wrongs. He has forgiven and forgotten, blotted out your transgressions.

Even now in anticipation of His approaching, you climb the mount with the stain of His offering upon your commitment. It is your guarantee now of what is yet to be--the advent of your Savior Christ.


J. Grant Swank, Jr.

"Comfort your hearts and stablish you in every good word and work." II Thessalonians 2:l7

The greatest comfort you can give another believer is not to take the cross from his shoulders but to share in the cross journey.

Sometimes we see a friend in trouble of soul and so we immediately start to play God the healer. We attempt every means possible to get that person out of pain.

That may not be what is needed at that time. What may be needed is comfort on the cross way rather than removing the cross on the way.

The cross way has already taught you how to draw closer to your Yoke-fellow. So it is in most believers' lives. They too are learning from Him. "Learn of Me."
Therefore, to interrupt Jesus' lesson giving by your comforting unwisely is not helpful.

God knows when to bring pain release. Then it may be that you are to let God be God.

What you can do in providing solace is to relate what you yourself have learned in carrying the daily cross. That will mean more than you shifting the cross off your friend's shoulders onto the ground.

Explain how you at first bulked at the cross, came to embrace it, now would not desert it for any other loyalty. Tell how you have come to realize that the cross is indeed a grace gift provided for the maturing of the spirit.

Then let the Spirit work through your God-inspired words rather than your fleshly words taking over to bring immediate aid to another believer.

In this age when so much accent is placed on reaching out to help someone--and within the church there is such a surge of counseling and psychological this and that--it often occurs that well-meaning individuals take the cross from disciple's shoulders instead of leaving the cross there for further mentoring. Jesus may have another chapter in the text to reveal to that believer; you then must not close the book on that chapter.

"Comfort your hearts. . ." is written within a letter in which Paul gives forth with plenty of pain sharing rather than pain relieving. Paul learned early how to do that for Paul knew the value of the daily cross. He would not then want to take away the cross in order to appear as an instant healer.

And neither would you.


J. Grant Swank, Jr.

". . .God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification. . ." II Thessalonians 2:l3

God did not foreordain before the world's start certain souls to heaven and certain
souls to hell. That would present a monster deity.

God did foreordain from the beginning a chosen people for salvation; however, each individual soul would then choose whether or not to take advantage of that divine salvation plan. Each person would conclude whether or not to be a part of that foreordination. The ultimate choice would lay with the human being, not deity.

The majority, sadly, would decide for self-absorption rather than servantship to the Lord Jesus Christ. The minority, however, would decide for bondship to God rather than self-lust. It would all rest in the power of each individual's free will decision making.

"God so loved the world. . ." The divine love has been extended to every living human being, not just to a select elect. Jesus died on the cross in order that "whosoever will" could be saved from sins, guilt and hell.

This is the democracy of grace at the base of Calvary's tree. There is no prejudice with deity. He does not favor one person over another; all are precious in His sight.

God has an election by grace. However, only those who choose to come under the love slavery to Jesus Christ choose thereby to be elect. Each mortal makes his own decision as to whether or not he will be accounted in the election of grace. The final choice is human, not divine.

The Holy Spirit has come to this globe to convict the world of sin, according to Jesus' statement prior to His ascension. Therefore, the Spirit is always seeking souls for salvation, poking about humanity's avenues in hopes of coming upon a tender, sensitive spirit.

However, only a small number care to answer the Spirit's conviction by revealing their sorrow for those sins. The majority close their soul ears to the convicting pleadings of the Spirit; the minority, on the other hand, do listen to the Spirit's love call and thereby respond with repentance, confession and submission to the grace offered.

When a believer takes up his daily cross, he signifies to heaven that he is going to decide upon the Jesus Way. It is then that he becomes one of the elect, choosing to be chosen.

God predestined that all should be saved; but not all choose to be saved. It is the hope of God that all would be redeemed; but only a few conclude to be redeemed.

The crucifixion of Jesus shows graphically the extent to which heaven is willing to provide the perfect sacrifice whereby any human being can find saving mercy. Therefore, indeed such a Holy Sacrifice would spill His blood for all, not just a select number decided upon prior to planet's spinning upon its axis.

The sovereignty of God is in the Sinless Sacrifice offered. No one nor any thing can match nor top that. Yet it is in His sovereignty that God chose to plant within human the power of free will by which to reject or receive that Sinless Sacrifice. If such is not so, then all humans are nothing but robots and the salvation plea from the Spirit is nothing but wasted energy.


J. Grant Swank, Jr.

". . .the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit." Galatians 6:l8

We say that there are majors and minors regarding our decision making.

Actually there is only one major and all the rest are minors. The major decision is whether or not to come under "the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ."

All else is minor.

All else is minor because all else will vanish. Only that which has been placed under the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ will outlast time. That's the sum of it. That surely does define "minor" in its clearest sense.

Yet this life consumes us with minors. In fact, we hardly know whether to determine whether a choice is major or minor. We deliberate, seek counsel, fret and wind ourselves into knots over decision making.

The cross bearer understands, however, that once one has made the choice to place all of existence under "the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ," He makes the choices from that point on. The major decision to place one's life under the Lordship of Jesus makes all other turns in the road to be governed by God.

If you have heeded the gospel call to put yourself as a bondservant to the Master, then Master decides everything for you. You have made the crucial choice; it is the major baseline of your biography.

How simple life then becomes. Heretofore, you lived in such complicated labyrinths. The life mazes left you with more dead end streets than you could emotionally manage.

However, once you learned the meaning of the daily cross, you submitted to its Sinless Sacrifice and thereby became His serf of the invisible realm. That then opened up the eternal possibilities according to the divine wisdom.

Prior you attempted to be wise in your own conceits. You wanted the best for your future but you did not know how to manage that. Therefore, you professed religion while at the same time governed your own destiny.

However, scripturally that cannot be. Either Jesus is Lord and Master or you are
lord and master. If you profess religion apart from Jesus being Governor of your estate, then your religion is trumped.

Paul closed his letter to the Galatians on the high note by reminding them of their major choice: "the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit."

If the believers in Galatia made that choice and so hoisted their crosses above it, then they would forever be led by the Light. Their major choice would have settled all minor choices. In the conclusion of it all, all minor choices would then vanish with the eventual dissolving of planet earth and their own individual biographies.

But it would be the major choice for Jesus that would propel those consecrated spirits into the eternal bliss.


J. Grant Swank, Jr.

". . .I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus." Galatians 6:l7

Paul carried the cross. Paul was eventually crucified on a cross.

While doing his gospel work around the Mediterranean, Paul often was beaten, dragged about, spat upon, derided scornfully, maligned, lied about, jailed.

Paul surely did cross his skin with the marks of the cross. He was justly proud of the surrender of his mortal frame to the work of Jesus. There was no complaint in his final statement in his epistle to the Galatians. It was penned as a matter of faith fact. Paul had acted out in life what he had preached and taught to others.

There are scores of others who have seen through the body scars as Paul experienced them. Most of these warriors we will never meet here. We will not know their names. They are known however to heaven. And that is all that finally matters.

In other words, there are those believers who have taken so seriously the final judgment that they consider any sacrifice on earth worth it. They are envisioning the last day. Their biography conclusions are riveted on the smile of Jesus Christ at the very close of it all on this earth.

When one keeps his eyes on the last moment, then one can live with any cross currents come upon while journeying here below. That is the perspective that is most healthy when picking up the daily cross.

Ask yourself where you will be one hundred years from today. And what will you be doing? And will anyone really know that you once breathed here fifty years after you have disappeared? Will anyone really care to know?

If the hereafter is truly the most important aspect of your on-going existence, then whatever is endured here should relate to that. The pull of that magnet should dominate anything endured here.

What marks do you and I carry in our bodies on behalf of the cross?

We are daily undone emotionally because of some cutting remark. We become depressed over some act of unkindnesses leveled against us. We are torn apart by lies that circulate about our characters.

Are we persons of good integrity? Do we have clean consciences before God? Then what others think and say can take back seat for we have our eyes on the final day. It is what Jesus will say about our lives that must be uppermost now and then.

Let be whatever cruel marks may attach themselves to our bodies and reputations. After the first step in heaven, what will all that really matter? Not a thing.

Then let it really matter nothing now.

Friday, May 1, 2009


J. Grant Swank, Jr.

There are studies “out there” that project that in a year Internet will crash.

Nemertes Research Corp is one of those prowlers. Conclusion: Internet traffic will make cyberspace travel “unable to keep up with the demand.” Bandwidth will call QUITS.

So when that happens, will the price of stamps go down?

In quick time, stamp costs will go up. Soon.

Reason would conclude then that with emails going zip via Internet crash, stamp costs should plummet, rejoicing over the upswing in letter and card flow like when we actually used a pen to write on paper.

I heard this morning on a TV commercial the accent of frugality returning to our lifestyles. It’s because of the tight squeeze on the wallet.

I then thought that lifestyles may return to what it was like when I was a child: pinching pennies and mailing to Grandma those penny postcards.

Also, recall when Gulftane was pumped at 29 cents per gallon?

And penny candy was a penny—really.

Remember when your little body leaned against the candy glass case to pick out your several cents’ worth of bubble gum and Mary Janes?

The other day in the 5 & 10 in North Conway, NH, those eensy yellow-wrapped Mary Janes sold for 10 cents apiece. I about dropped through the case, flopping into an uncontrollable fit.

With worldwide present-tense angst, I actually am looking forward to the future.

I know that swine flu beckons and the Iranian thug head threatens to return his messiah via global smoke streams.

But with stamps reasonably going down in price as well as penny candy returning as the symbol of frugality, it’s going to be okay.

PS: I just heard on TV that Catholics will not be exchanging the peace via hand shakes in Mass due to swine flu. Also, communion wafers are nix.

Thank you, Jesus, for living in my heart. That will have to suffice—as always.

Again, looking up, I anticipate cheaper stamps and candy sales like unto Miss Daisy’s Candy Store on North Market Street, Frederick, MD—where I twisted those Mary Jane taffies round my taste buds.

It was delightful.