The cross“I Do Not Remember”

How little we understand of eternal redemption! How many times will God forgive you? If you have truly set your heart to follow Him, He will cancel your sins as often as you ask. Will He forgive you of the worst sin you can think of? Yes! You may have to live with the consequences of your misdeed, but God can use your repentance and newly found humility to inspire others. As for the sin itself, if you sincerely repent of it, not only will God forgive you, He will blot it out of His memory.

Let me share an experience. A certain man of God had been gifted with revelatory insight into people’s lives. During an evening service he ministered to a Presbyterian pastor and his wife. By the gift of the Spirit, he revealed the couple’s past, uncovered their present situation, and then disclosed to them what was to come. This work of God greatly impressed the couple, and as the prophecies were fulfilled, one month later the Presbyterian minister brought two other pastors, each with their wives, to another service for personal ministry.

The word of knowledge was exceptionally sure that night, and the second minister and his wife marveled at the accuracy and truth in the prophetic word. The third couple stepped forward for ministry, and again the word of knowledge was present. The prophet spoke to the husband, revealing his past, present, and insight into his future. Then the man of God turned to this third minister’s wife. As he began to speak of her past, suddenly he paused, then said, “There was a very serious sin in your past,” he said. The woman, with her worst fear upon her, turned pale and closed her eyes. The congregation hushed and moved to the edge of their seats.

The prophet continued, “And I asked the Lord, ‘What was this sin that she committed?’ And the Lord answered, ‘I do not remember!'”

The Lord had been faithful to His covenant promise: “I will not remember your sins” (Isa. 43:25). Although many times this minister’s wife had asked for cleansing, still she could not believe the depth of God’s forgiveness. Christ had placed her sin in the sea of His forgetfulness. He removed it “as far as the east is from the west” (Ps. 103:12). From everywhere but the prison of her own mind, her sin had been paid for and removed. And now, in His great mercy, He removed it from there as well!

Oh, what burdens we carry, what guilt and limitations surround us because we do not accept God’s total and perfect forgiveness. In Isaiah we read, “I, even I, am the one who wipes out your transgressions for My own sake; and I will not remember your sins” (Isa. 43:25).

How great is the God we serve. How wonderful is His love toward us. He is our Redeemer, our Savior! If you are willing to forgive others and will but ask Him to forgive you, He will pardon your debts as often as you contritely turn to Him. He promises He will remember your sins no more

Written by:

Francis Frangipane

http://francisfrangipanemessages.blogspot.ca/2014/01/the-holy-obsession.html

 

imagesCAU48C1PThe Holy Obsession

To be in love is to be obsessed with one’s beloved; it is “to think continually about the same thing.” In this sense, the Father is obsessed with love for His Son, Jesus Christ. Indeed, beginning with eternity past, revealing the Firstborn in the womb of time, and then continuing with the transformation of the church, the Father’s ultimate goal is for all creation to be summed up in Christ (Eph. 1:10). Our goal is to participate in this “summing up” until all that we are — our loves, our passions, our dreams and our character — is conformed to Christ.

Now, if the Father is obsessed with His Son, let us also surrender to this divine obsession. For such is the prayer of Christ Himself for His followers. He prayed,

“I have made Your name known to them, and will make it known, so that the love with which You loved Me may be in them, and I in them” (John 17:26).

Jesus prayed that the very “love with which” the Father loved the Son — His obsession — would be in His disciples. Lord, lift us higher! We can receive and be flooded with the very same quality of love that the Father has for His Son. We can be obsessed with God’s love for Jesus.

Therefore, let us give ourselves to the supreme focus of God: to see creation, starting with ourselves, summed up in Christ. For it is here, in the transformation of our lives, that we discover and fulfill the wondrous obsession of God: the unveiling of His Son in the church. It is here that we discover the power that one life surrendered fully to Christ has upon the heart of God.

Father, let my heart become as obsessed with Your Son as You are. Let the fullness of my absorption with Jesus displace all my other pursuits until, at the mere glimpse of Your Son, my being is flooded with the inexhaustible pleasure that You Yourself feel.

Written by:

Pastor Francis Frangipane

http://francisfrangipanemessages.blogspot.ca/2014/01/the-holy-obsession.html

imagesCAGNSZJY1

 

At the Threshold of Glory, Part 2

The God of Glory

Nearly every Christian I know believes we are in the closing hours of this age. How close to the end, no one knows; and when Jesus will return, none presume a guess. If our hope has truly come from Heaven, then the praying, hungering church of Jesus Christ is about to enter a season of extraordinary manifestations of God’s glory. We are about to engage in what Bible scholars call a dispensational move of God’s Spirit. During such times, the Lord has always manifested Himself in glory.

It is true that no one has seen the Father’s glory, but God the Son has manifested Himself in glory numerous times in the past. Abraham saw Christ’s glory while he was in Mesopotamia. Isaiah beheld Him in the year King Uzziah died. Ezekiel fell before the Living One by the river Chebar. Daniel, David, Habakkuk, Solomon, Zachariah, and Haggai all saw the glory of the Lord. In truth, the Bible was written by people who had seen God’s glory!

Moses beheld God, then Aaron, Nadab, Abihu, and the seventy Hebrew elders as well. Exodus tells us these men “saw the God of Israel; and under His feet there appeared to be a pavement of sapphire, as clear as the sky itself” (Ex. 24:10). Of their encounter with the Almighty, we read, “and they saw God, and they ate and drank” (v. 11).

Think of it: “They saw God!” Is there not a jealousy within you for that experience — to actually gaze upon the glory of God? To behold the Lord’s glory is not only scriptural, but it’s also typical during dispensational moves of God. The fact is, over three million Israelites saw God’s glory on Mount Sinai. Young men, old women, and little children — people of every age and physical condition — all saw “the glory of the Lord [as it] rested on Mount Sinai” (Ex. 24:16)!

Yet that unveiling of glory did not stop at Sinai. The entire Hebrew nation followed a cloud of glory by day and was illuminated by a blazing pillar of fire-like glory at night. This happened not just once or twice but every day for forty years! How much more shall the Lord of glory manifest Himself to us at the end of the age?

Jesus said that he who is least in His kingdom is greater than those under the old covenant (Matt. 11:11). In what ways are Christ’s followers “greater”? Those in the Old Testament saw His glory from a distance, but He has chosen to reveal His glory in and through the church! Is it not written, He is coming to be “glorified in His saints on that day, and to be marveled at among all who have believed” (2 Thess. 1:10)?

Indeed, Jesus has not only given us His name and His words (John 17:6, 14), but He has also granted us to partake of His radiant splendor! The very glory that was manifest in the Old Testament He now has deposited in the spirits of those washed in His blood. He said, “The glory which You have given Me I have given to them” (John 17:22).

Yes, God will again reveal His glory at the end of the age. The unsaved world will receive one last, legitimate opportunity to choose, not merely between the church and the sin, but between the radiance of Heaven and the horrors of hell. In truth, at the end of the age, both realms will be manifested in fullness on earth.

written by: Francis Frangipane

At the Threshold of Glory, Part 1

Before Jesus comes to be glorified in the Earth, He is coming to be glorified in the church.

Our salvation grants us more than just church membership and a conservative perspective. We have, in truth, become one with Christ. The Lord Jesus is our head; we are His body. He is our husband; we are His bride. He is the true vine from which we, His branches, draw our life and virtue. These images, and many more, speak openly and passionately of our eternal union with the Son of God.

Yet on a personal scale, only in brief flashes have we glimpsed God’s mighty power working with us as it did with Christ, especially in these latter years. We pray, we ask, we travail; but we give birth, as it were, “only to wind” (Isa. 26:18). Miracles manifest, but they are rare. On a national scale, only during the heights of spiritual awakenings has the church truly seen society significantly transformed.

However, as we see the day of Christ’s return draw near, this seeming absence of power is in the process of dramatic change. Indeed, the promise of the Father to the Son, which shall be fulfilled on the highest level prior to the Lord’s return, is that God’s people “will volunteer freely in the day of Your power” (Ps. 110:3a). There is a “day of [God’s] power,” and it is rapidly drawing near!

Yet not only this, but accompanying this time of power will be a glorious holiness, a radiance that will also appear upon God’s people: “In holy array, from the womb of the dawn, Your youth are to You as the dew” (Ps. 110:3b). As the day of the Lord draws near, we shall shine like the dew lit by the first rays of the millennial morning.

At the end of the age, the world will see the Lord Jesus Christ leading His church in ever-increasing displays of glory. Great power from God shall rest upon those who are humbling themselves before Him. Without hype or self-promotion, the Gospel of the Kingdom shall again be preached with power as a witness to all the world, and then the end shall come (Matt. 24:14).

written by: Francis Fragipane

http://francisfrangipanemessages.blogspot.ca/

 

 

 

Army of Worshipers

When the Scriptures refer to the “heavenly host,” we usually think of “choirs of angels.” The word “host” in the Bible meant “army” (Josh. 5:13-14). It is an important truth: the hosts of Heaven are worshiping armies. Indeed, no one can do warfare who is not first a worshiper of God.

The Central Issue in Tribulation: Worship

One does not have to penetrate deeply into the Revelation of John to discover that both God and the devil are seeking worshipers (see Rev. 7:11; 13:4; 14:7, 11). Time and time again the line is drawn between those who “worship the beast and his image” and those who worship God.

In the last great battle before Jesus returns, the outcome of every man’s life shall be weighed upon a scale of worship: In the midst of warfare and conflict to whom will we bow, God or Satan?

Yet, while this warfare shall culminate in the establishment of the Lord’s kingdom on earth (see Rev. 11:15), we must realize the essence of this battle is the central issue in our warfare today. Will we faithfully worship God during satanic assault and temptation? True worship must emerge in the context of our lives now. For no man will worship through the great battles of tomorrow who complains in the mere skirmishes of today.

You will remember that the Lord’s call to the Israelites was a call to worship and serve Him in the wilderness (see Exod. 7:16). Indeed, when Moses first spoke of God’s loving concern, we read that the Hebrews “bowed low and worshiped” (Exod. 4:31). But when trials and pressures came, they fell quickly into murmuring, complaining and blatant rebellion. Their worship was superficial, self-serving and conditional — an outer form without an inner heart of worship.

This same condition of shallow worship prevails in much of Christianity today. If a message is given that speaks of the Lord’s great care for His people, with eagerness do we bow low and worship. But as soon as the pressures of daily living arise or temptations come, how quickly we rebel against God and resist His dealings! The enemy has easy access to the soul that is not protected by true worship of the Almighty! Indeed, the Lord’s purpose with Israel in the wilderness was to perfect true worship, which is based upon the reality of God, not circumstances. The Lord knows that the heart that will worship Him in the wilderness of affliction will continue to worship in the promised land of plenty.

Without true worship of God, there can be no victory in warfare. For what we bleed when we are wounded by satanic assault or difficult circumstances is the true measure of our worship. You see, what comes out of our hearts during times of pressure is in us, but it is hidden during times of ease. If you are a true worshiper, your spirit will exude worship to God no matter what battle you are fighting. In warfare, worship creates a wall of fire around the soul.

Worship: The Purpose of Creation

We were created for God’s pleasure. We were not created to live for ourselves but for Him. And while the Lord desires that we enjoy His gifts and His people, He would have us know we were created first for His pleasure. In these closing moments of this age, the Lord will have a people whose purpose for living is to please God with their lives. In them, God finds His own reward for creating man. They are His worshipers. They are on earth only to please God, and when He is pleased, they also are pleased.

The Lord takes them further and through more pain and conflicts than other men. Outwardly, they often seem “smitten of God, and afflicted” (Isa. 53:4). Yet to God, they are His beloved. When they are crushed, like the petals of a flower, they exude a worship, the fragrance of which is so beautiful and rare that angels weep in quiet awe at their surrender. They are the Lord’s purpose for creation.

One would think that God would protect them, guarding them in such a way that they would not be marred. Instead, they are marred more than others. Indeed, the Lord seems pleased to crush them, putting them to grief. For in the midst of their physical and emotional pain, their loyalty to Christ grows pure and perfect. And in the face of persecutions, their love and worship toward God become all-consuming.

Would that all Christ’s servants were so perfectly surrendered. Yet God finds His pleasure in us all. But as the days of the Kingdom draw near and the warfare at the end of this age increases, those who have been created solely for the worship of God will come forth in the power and glory of the Son. With the high praises of God in their mouth, they will execute upon His enemies the judgment written (see Ps. 149). They will lead as generals in the Lord’s army of worshipers.

 

Written by:

Francis Frangipane

This word was taken from Pastor Frangipane’s book, The Three Battlegrounds, available in our bookstore.

http://francisfrangipanemessages.blogspot.ca/

 

 

 

The Stronghold of the Godly: Humility

Satan fears virtue. He is terrified of humility; he hates it. He sees a humble person and it sends chills down his back. His hair stands up when Christians kneel down, for humility is the surrender of the soul to God. The devil trembles before the meek because in the very areas where he once had access, there stands the Lord, and Satan is terrified of Jesus Christ.

Who Truly Are You Fighting?

You will remember that, at the fall of man in the Garden of Eden, the judgment of God against the devil was that he should eat dust (Gen. 3:14). Remember also that God said of man, “you are dust” (v.19). The essence of our carnal nature — of all that is carnal in nature — is dust. We need to see the connection here: Satan feeds upon our earthly, carnal nature of “dust.” Satan dines on what we withhold from God.

Therefore, we need to recognize that the immediate source of many of our problems and oppressions is not demonic but fleshly in nature. We must contend with the fact that one aspect of our lives, our flesh nature, will always be targeted by the devil. These fleshly areas supply Satan with a ready avenue of access to undermine our prayers and neutralize our walk with God.

It is only our exaggerated sense of self-righteousness that prevents us from looking honestly at ourselves. As Christians, we know the Holy Spirit dwells within us, but we must also become aware of where we are tolerating sin if we will be successful in our war against the devil. Therefore, be specific when you submit yourself to God. Do not rationalize your sins and failures. The sacrifice of Jesus Christ is a perfect shelter of grace enabling all men to look honestly at their needs. Accordingly, be honest with God. He will not be horrified or shocked by your sins. God loved you without restraint even when sin was rampant within you; how much more will He continue to love you as you seek His grace to be free from iniquity?

Before we launch out in aggressive warfare, we must realize that many of our battles are merely the consequences of our own actions. To war effectively, we must separate what is of the flesh from what is of the devil.

Allow me to give you an example. My wife and I once lived in an area where a beautiful red cardinal kept its nest. Cardinals are very territorial and will fight off intruding cardinals zealously. At that time, we owned a van which had large side mirrors and chrome bumpers. Occasionally, the cardinal would attack the bumpers or mirrors, thinking his reflection was another bird. One day, as I watched the cardinal assail the mirror, I thought, “What a foolish creature; his enemy is merely the reflection of himself.” Immediately the Lord spoke to my heart, “And so also are many of your enemies the reflection of yourself.”

Before we have any strategy for attacking Satan, we must make sure that the real enemy is not our own carnal nature. We must ask ourselves, Are the things oppressing us today the harvest of what we planted yesterday?

Agree with Thine Adversary

You will remember that Jesus taught:

“Agree with thine adversary quickly, whiles thou art in the way with him; lest at any time the adversary deliver thee to the judge, and the judge deliver thee to the officer, and thou be cast into prison. Verily I say unto thee, Thou shalt by no means come out thence, till thou hast paid the uttermost farthing” (Matt. 5:25-26 KJV).

Jesus is speaking here of more than avoiding lawsuits. In fact, He speaks in such a way as to indicate that, in regards to this particular adversary and this particular judge, we will always lose our case and end up in prison.

This parable explains God’s view of human righteousness. In the narrative, the adversary is the devil and the Judge is God. Satan, as our adversary, stands as the accuser of the brethren before God, the Judge of all. The truth Christ wants us to see is that when we approach God on the basis of our own righteousness, the adversary will always have legal grounds to “cast [us] into prison,” for our righteousness is “as filthy rags” (Isa. 64:6 KJV).

When Jesus says, “Agree with thine adversary quickly,” He does not mean obey the devil. He is saying that when Satan accuses you of some sin or flaw, if the devil is even minutely right, it is to your advantage to agree with him about your unrighteousness. If he accuses you of being impure or not loving or praying enough, he is right. The key is not to argue with the devil about your own righteousness because, before God, your righteousness is unacceptable. No matter how much you defend or justify yourself, you know inwardly that often the accusations of the devil have morsels of truth in them.

Our salvation is not based upon what we do but upon who Jesus becomes to us. Christ Himself is our righteousness. We have been justified by faith; our peace with God comes through our Lord Jesus Christ (Rom. 5:1). When Satan comes against you, he tries to deceive you by focusing your attention upon your own righteousness. The more we recognize that Jesus alone is our righteousness, the less the adversary can assault us in the arena of our failings.

Thus, when the accuser comes seeking to condemn you for not having enough love, your response should be, “That is true, I do not have enough love. But the Son of God died for all my sins, even the sin of imperfect love.” Step out from the shadow of satanic assault and stand in the brightness of your Father’s love. Submit yourself to God and ask for Christ’s love and forgiveness to replace your weak and imperfect love.

When Satan seeks to condemn you for impatience, again your response should be, “Yes, in my flesh I am very impatient. But since I have been born again, Jesus is my righteousness and through His blood I am forgiven and cleansed.” Turn again to God. Use the accusation as a reminder that you are not standing before an angry God but rather a throne of grace which enables you to boldly draw near to God for help (Heb. 4:16).

A vital key, therefore, to overcoming the devil is humility. To humble yourself is to refuse to defend your image: you are corrupt and full of sin in your old nature. Yet we have a new nature that has been created in the likeness of Christ (Eph. 4:24), so we can agree with our adversary about the condition of our flesh.

But do not limit this principle of humbling yourself to only when you are involved in spiritual warfare. This precept is applicable in other situations as well. The strength of humility is that it builds a spiritual defense around your soul, prohibiting strife, competition and many of life’s irritations from stealing your peace.

A wonderful place to practice this is in your family relationships. As a husband, your wife may criticize you for being insensitive. A fleshly response could easily escalate the conversation into a conflict. The alternative is to simply humble yourself and agree with your wife. You probably were insensitive. Then pray together and ask God for a more tender love.

As a wife, perhaps your husband accuses you of not understanding the pressures he has at work. More than likely he is right, you do not know the things he must face. Instead of responding with a counter-charge, humble yourself and agree with him. Pray together, asking God to give you an understanding heart. If we remain humble in heart, we will receive abundant grace from God; Satan will be disarmed on many fronts.

Remember, Satan fears virtue. He is terrified of humility; he hates it because humility is the surrender of the soul to the Lord, and the devil is terrified of Jesus Christ.

 

Written by Pastor Frangipane

 

This word was taken from Pastor Frangipane’s book, The Three Battlegrounds, available in our bookstore. It is currently part of a three-book offer that also includes This Day We Fight! and The Shelter of the Most High. All three books sold separately are $39.85, but this week only they are available as a package for just $19.85 (plus shipping and handling).

http://francisfrangipanemessages.blogspot.ca/

 

An Unguarded Heart

I know a few will regard the following remarks as coming from “the deep end.” Others will take what I’m presenting and exaggerate it beyond its legitimate boundaries. But I want to focus on one reason why some leaders have serious moral failures. I want to offer an insight into how all of us, as Christians, can protect ourselves from a similar failure.

The idea that a leader whom we’ve known and loved should suddenly be exposed in a devastating scandal seems incomprehensible. Certainly these who have taught others could teach themselves. Is there not resident within them saving knowledge that would protect them from worldly passions?

What is it then that can worm into an individual’s thought-life, burrow into his heart, and then grow so compelling that a leader is willing to risk everything he’s loved and attained for a mere fulfillment of the flesh? Is it just sin? Or is there something deeper — a lack of spiritual discernment — that left the heart of that leader vulnerable to demonic manipulation?

Their heart was unguarded to the exploitation of hell.

 An Unparalleled Warfare

Please note that I am not blaming the devil for every sin we commit. The fact is, selfishness and self-indulgence, which produce sin, are basic instincts of our fallen nature. At the same time, let us also discern the unique warfare of our times. Our world has been flooded with hyper-sexuality and excess. The “red-light district” has moved from the city and entered our homes via the Internet, movies and television. We deceive ourselves if we think we can accommodate an immoral imagination and it not contaminate how we act out our lives.

You see, an unguarded mind that willfully harbors darkness will have spiritual predators cultivating and probing our moral weaknesses. Indeed, through modern technology, an alternate reality — a fantasy world created by our mind’s imagination — can be created and accessed by the demonic realm. We don’t just watch movies; we are absorbed by them. We actually have sports “fantasy leagues” and computer games and apps that guarantee their programs will be addicting.

There is much within the fallen human nature that can be exploited and plundered for evil. When we do not guard our hearts and avoid what is sinful, this fantasy realm unfolds into darkness, leaving our thought-processes open and unprotected against demons that build strongholds in the human soul.

Listen well: what entertains us actually enters us. If you are entertained by pornography or sexual fantasy, perverse or corrupting thoughts, you are opening your soul to hell. You must confront this battle honestly, repent of sin, and set a guard over your heart. If you don’t, your battle will advance from temptation to serious, hidden sexual bondage, which in turn will advance to secret attempts to openly fulfill your heightened passions.

 People of Destiny, Take Heed

Jesus reveals that a major source of this sexual manipulation is the Jezebel spirit (Rev. 2:20). The rampant immorality we see manifested in Western culture underscores the increasing influence of this ruler of darkness. Indeed, compare our world today with cultural standards of just fifty years ago and it’s easy to see that Western civilization is under siege. Too many Christians have their defenses down, and many otherwise good people have slipped into bondage.

Yet Jezebel’s arsenal includes more than lust; there is also witchcraft, which attacks and works to disarm the conscience. Remember Jehu’s words? “What peace, so long as the harlotries of your mother Jezebel and her witchcrafts are so many?” (2 Kings 9:22).

We are fighting the harlotries” and “witchcrafts” of Jezebel. Those who have been defeated by this spirit often feel they were drugged by their own passions. They did things that were flagrantly sinful, almost daring God (or the devil) to expose them. I am talking about the war against church leaders. How many more must fall before we realize the need for repentance and discernment?

 The Subtle Attack

The Jezebel spirit is a “man whisperer.” Its approach typically is not bold but enticing — seducing and stimulating the degrading thoughts of human flesh. Its quiet power overwhelms and then disarms the human conscience. In your desire to walk upright before the Lord, what you may actually be fighting is Jezebel — in particular, her many “witchcrafts.”

One may argue, “My battle is just sin, not warfare.” Perhaps that is true for you, but for others it is a spiritual attack on an unguarded heart. Its power may be aimed at Christians in general, but its specific target is church leaders and those called to places of authority in God’s kingdom.

There are times when I think the world has greater discernment than the church. Consider these select words from the old Frank Sinatra song, “Witchcraft”:

Those fingers in my hair

That sly come-hither stare

That strips my conscience bare

It’s witchcraft

And I’ve got no defense for it

The heat is too intense for it

What good would common sense for it do?

’cause it’s witchcraft, wicked witchcraft

And although I know it’s strictly taboo

When you arouse the need in me

My heart says “Yes, indeed” in me

“Proceed with what you’re leading me to”

—C. Leigh, C. Coleman

 

The song did, in fact, reveal characteristics about the effect of witchcraft. The composers wrote, “[It] strips my conscience bare.” It continues, “I’ve got no defense for it/The heat is too intense for it/What good would common sense for it do?” And then, “When you arouse the need in me/My heart says, ‘Yes, indeed’ in me/’Proceed with what you’re leading me to.’ ”

Of course, we do have a defense for it in Christ, but that defense begins with guarding our hearts from the opportunities and deceptions of the Jezebel spirit.

 Set a Guard

I don’t want to make too much of the possibility of witchcraft, for becoming overly focused on this type of warfare can itself become a swamp of darkness. Let’s keep things in perspective. However, this article is from a book on discernment, and we need to be aware of the spiritual realm around us. Whether witchcraft is what you are fighting or just natural weaknesses of the flesh, you need to close the door to the hyper-sexuality of our world. Indeed, the world has “no defense for it.”

However, for those in the kingdom of God, “the weapons of our warfare are … divinely powerful” (2 Cor. 10:4). Our weapons and defenses are mighty, but we must use them. Scripture commands: “Watch over your heart with all diligence, for from it flow the springs of life” (Prov. 4:23). The NIV says it this way: “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.”

A guard is one armed and trained to recognize an enemy and turn away that enemy’s attack. We are in war and must stay militant in attitude throughout our lives. We cannot be casual with sin or temptation. When you use the Internet, use a filtering software program as a guard. Be accountable. Don’t feed your sexual appetites, for these kinds of addictions only go from bad to worse (Rom. 1:24–28).

If you are currently in bondage to sin, as powerful as the sin seems, the enemy will also work to isolate your battle from others. The efforts we spend hiding sin are the very tools Satan uses to entrap us in it; so, talk to someone (Eph. 5:11–13). If you have a history of sin, then begin a process of cleansing, of washing your “robes … in the blood of the Lamb” (Rev. 7:14). Confess your sins one by one to God and one another.

Now would be a good time to build yourself up spiritually. Take the next step in your spiritual journey. Get back in the Word, for the sword of the Spirit is the Word of God. Use the authority of God’s Word to defend your heart against spiritual attacks.

The most important thing you can do is to return wholeheartedly to God. The Lord promises, “Because he has loved Me, therefore I will deliver him; I will set him securely on high, because he has known My name” (Ps. 91:14).

Beloved, it is time to set a guard over your heart.

 Lord God, this day I humble myself before Your throne. You see my heart and the battle I have faced. I ask that You restore me; make me wiser. Let not my enemy triumph over me. Fill me with Your Holy Spirit and grant me the grace to walk with a pure heart, a guarded heart, before You. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

A service of Frangipane Ministries, Inc.

Copyright (c) 2013

All rights reserved.

 

Unless otherwise stated, all Scripture quotations were taken from the NASB.

http://www.frangipane.org/

 

When the Crop Permits

Certainly, the period prior to Christ’s return will be both difficult and perilous. Scripture warns that God’s voice will shake all things, things in the heavens and things upon the earth. Everything that can be shaken, will be shaken and removed (Heb. 12:27).

Yet there is more on the calendar of God than increasing judgments and the Rapture. There will also be the advance and a significant, though still partial, re-establishing of God’s kingdom (Dan.2:44; Matt. 24:14; Matt. 13). A spiritually mature people will serve as the vanguard of His kingdom. Before the Lord is glorified in the earth, He shall be glorified in the church (see Isa. 60:1-3; Eph. 5:27). Indeed, the attainment of Christlike maturity in those who pursue the Lord shall not be a mere sidebar on the scroll of end-time events; it will be the main attraction.

Listen carefully to what Jesus taught. He said,

“The kingdom of God is like a man who casts seed upon the soil; and he goes to bed at night and gets up by day, and the seed sprouts and grows — how, he himself does not know. The soil produces crops by itself; first the blade, then the head, then the mature grain in the head. But when the crop permits, he immediately puts in the sickle, because the harvest has come” (Mark 4:26-29).

Jesus likened the kingdom of God to a farmer waiting for the maturing of His crops. During the harvest season, farmers are concerned about two primary things: the quantity and quality of the harvest. I lived in eastern Iowa. Some corn and soybean fields, which may have started strong, fail or are stunted due to unusually high or low temperatures or lack of rain. As a result, farmers plow under their fields because their crops did not reach maturity. There was no “mature grain in the head.”

Just as the farmer will not harvest without the grain becoming mature, so God is seeking a crop of Christ-followers that have reached spiritual maturity. God is after full stature not just full numbers. Take note: Jesus said, “when the crop permits,” God puts in the sickle. The return of Christ isn’t about a certain “day or hour,” for it is the spiritual stature of the harvest that triggers the great unfolding of end-time events. You see, God is not looking at His watch; He’s looking at His crop.

What does spiritual maturity look like? Recall Paul’s words. He wrote, “We are ready to punish all disobedience, whenever your obedience is complete” (2 Cor. 10:6). What does complete obedience look like? It looks like Christians taking “every thought captive to the obedience of Christ” (2 Cor. 10:5). Again, God is looking for Christlikeness to ripen within us as we approach the end of the age. Indeed, our maturing can actually hasten the coming of the day of the Lord (2 Peter 3:12).

“Man…in the image of God” is the seed-idea purposed by the Almighty from before time began (Gen. 1:27). The release of divine wrath is not the Father’s highest priority. It does not in any way mean we think we are gods or that we take Christ’s place; it means Christ has truly taken our place (Gal. 2:20). This is what the “mature head in the grain” looks like: mature Christlikeness.

For too long we have assumed that only the numeric size of the harvest was the focus of the Father. Certainly, the number of people saved is pivotal: “the fullness of the gentiles” must come into the kingdom (Rom. 11:25). However, the Almighty does not just want numbers; He wants spiritual maturity.

Thus, the Lord is not looking at a calendar thinking, “Oh, it’s the year 2013 (or 2020, etc.). I have to destroy the world on that date.” No. A farmer does not reap his crops without first walking his fields, holding samples of the grain, and studying the moisture and integrity of the seed head before he begins his harvest. Again, the maturity of the crop determines the day of the harvest.

So many Christians are frozen in spiritual immaturity. They are easily offended, often distracted and without prayer or spiritual discipline. We think God is requiring of us simply to hang on, yet the Lord is looking for more. Paul says the goal of God in the church is that “we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ” (Eph. 4:13).

Even now, believers around the world are becoming increasingly more Christlike. They live in India and China, Africa and South America, Europe and North America, and places beyond. Yes, they are comparatively a little flock, yet “with unveiled face,” they are “beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord” and “are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory” (2 Cor. 3:18). When this crop permits, the Father shall put in His sickle, for the harvest has come.

Let’s pray: Lord Jesus, as You continue looking for spiritual completeness in the harvest, help me to grow to full stature, that I may truly represent a planting which has grown up into Your likeness.

A service of Frangipane Ministries, Inc.

Copyright (c) 2013

All rights reserved.

 

Unless otherwise stated, all Scripture quotations were taken from the NASB.

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One of You Is a Gossip

A perverse man spreads strife, and a slanderer separates intimate friends. –Proverbs 16:28

Jesus made a remarkable statement concerning Judas: “‘Did I Myself not choose you, the twelve, and yet one of you is a devil?’ Now He meant Judas the son of Simon Iscariot, for he, one of the twelve, was going to betray Him” (John 6:70-71).

To what was Jesus referring when He identified Judas Iscariot as “a devil”? Was He speaking figuratively or factually? Is Jesus saying that a human being could not only have an evil spirit living in his soul, but that a person could actually become a demon?

Some teach that Judas had become so perfectly possessed by Satan that he actually lost his humanity. Before we accept this interpretation, let us remember that after this fallen apostle delivered Jesus up, he felt such remorse for betraying Christ that he committed suicide. Could a demon feel such remorse for sin? I do not think so.

What I believe Jesus is identifying in Judas Iscariot as a “devil” is something that, today, exists unchecked among many Christians: slander. In the New Testament the Greek word diabolos, which is translated “devil” in this text, is translated impersonally elsewhere as a “false accuser,” “slanderer” or “malicious gossip.” In fact, 1 Timothy 3:11 and 2 Timothy 3:3 both translate diabolos (Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible, #1228) as “malicious gossip(s).”

In other words, Jesus is not saying “one of you is a devil” in an organic or theological sense, but that one of you is “a slanderer, a malicious gossip.” So while the disciples were almost bragging about their loyalty to Christ, Jesus corrected them, in effect saying, “Yes, I chose you, but even among you there is one who is a malicious gossip, whose words will eventually betray Me to My enemies.”

Gossip in the Last Days

This problem of gossip in the Church, Paul tells us, will continue right into the end of the age. Listen carefully to what Paul wrote to Timothy about the last days: “Men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips” (2 Tim. 3:2-3), and the list goes on. In the midst of this list of great sins of the apostasy, the apostle includes “malicious gossips.” This is the exact same word translated “devil” in John 6:70.

Perhaps you know people who always have something negative to say about others, who always bring negative information about people into their conversations. I pray that the Holy Spirit will reveal to us how “malicious gossip” is kin to the nature of Satan himself!

The Scriptures say that we will be justified or condemned by our words. Yes, our words—even those spoken in secret with a spouse or friend about others—are used by God to measure our obedience to His will. James writes, “If anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man” (James 3:2).

Words have power. Scripture reveals that “death and life are in the power of the tongue” (Prov. 18:21). Our words, expressed as a confession of faith, bring us into salvation; but words without faith can lead us and others with us into destruction and heartache.

James 3:8 warns, “The tongue . . . is a restless evil . . . full of deadly poison.” “The tongue,” he says, “is a fire, the very world of iniquity” (v. 6). And James reveals a most profound thought: “The tongue . . . sets on fire the course of our life, and is set on fire by hell” (v. 6).

Satan gains access to our world, to destroy all that is good and holy in it, through our tongues. The very course of our life, the direction and quality of our earthly existence, is “set on fire by hell” through the words we speak. If we talk negatively about someone or maliciously gossip, the destructive fire of hell itself is released through our words. Lord, help us to understand the power of our words!

I believe God wants to break the power of gossip and negative speaking from the Church. We may have a perfect analysis of what is wrong and why it is evil, yet if all we do is talk about it, we have yet to disavow our allegiance to hell. God calls us to be a house of prayer for all nations—a spiritual community that is mature, fully capable of seeing what is wrong, but positioning itself to release redemption into the world.

If Paul Visited Your Community

Imagine if the apostle Paul came into a typical American city. Do you know what he might say about our divisions? Probably what he told the Corinthians: “I am afraid that perhaps when I come . . . there will be strife, jealousy, angry tempers, disputes, slanders, gossip, arrogance, disturbances” (2 Cor. 12:20).

Does that remind you of any churches anywhere? Strife? Jealousy? Slander and gossip? How can we approach God with these things existing in us? I believe God desires to give the Church a whole new approach. But we cannot lay hold of the future unless we first let go of the past.

Perhaps you are thinking, “So and so should hear this.” Yes, but we must start with ourselves. Pastors must stop talking negatively about people; they need to refrain from “leaking” problems with people into their sermons. Intercessors must stop negative gossip about the people for whom they should be praying. If we discuss what is wrong for ten minutes, let us pray for redemption for twenty.

Judge Not

How do you respond to life’s imperfections? Do you gossip? When you hear of someone’s failure, are you quick to spread the news? If Jesus was looking at the Christians with whom you fellowship, would He say to you what He spoke to His early apostles, that “one of you is a malicious gossip?”

Even if you are not a gossip or slanderer, you must be careful to avoid “fellowship” with gossips. Criticisms incubate. Paul warned that “a little leaven leavens the whole lump” (1 Cor. 5:6). If we walk with the wise, we will become wise, but if we open our hearts to the cynical and critical, then we become like them. That is why Jesus said we were to “take heed” to what we hear. For whatever we intently focus upon, we absorb in abundance (see Mark 4:24).

Thus, we must not even listen to gossip. When God shows us what is wrong in life, it is so we can pray for redemption, not spread the bad news all over town. Prayer has a positive focus. People with Christ’s love have a spiritual vision that causes them to see beyond the imperfections and limitations of the present world into the potential awaiting in the future—and they pray until what they see comes to pass.

Remember: None of us stands perfectly upright. Every time we judge someone, we position ourselves to be judged as well. Indeed, we each continually lean in the direction of our weakness. Only by the grace of God are we kept from falling. The moment we begin to self-righteously judge or gossip about another for their failings, we lean a little closer toward our own fall.

Our actions and words should be motivated by mercy. If we must discuss the situation or individual, let us harbor no malice or ill will. Let redemption be our guide, not revenge. Let us keep ourselves from becoming those who betray the working of Christ on earth. Let us keep ourselves from the realm of the malicious gossip.

Lord, purify my lips with fire from Your holy altar. Father, forgive me for my words that have not always been redemptive. Lord, deliver the Church from the realm of spreading gossip to the work of spreading grace. Help us to be a house of prayer. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

 

A service of Frangipane Ministries, Inc.

Copyright (c) 2012

All rights reserved.

Unless otherwise stated, all Scripture quotations were taken from the NASB.

 

 

A Place for Him to Rest

In the kingdom, there are no great men of God, just humble men whom God has chosen to use greatly. How do we know when we are humble? When God speaks, we tremble. God is looking for a man who trembles at His words. Such a man will find the Spirit of God resting upon him; he will become a dwelling place for the Almighty.

Entering the Sabbath Rest of God

Heaven is My throne, and the earth is My footstool. Where then is a house you could build for Me? And where is a place that I may rest? —Isaiah 66:1

God asks for nothing but ourselves. Our beautiful church buildings, our slick professionalism, all are nearly useless to God. He does not want what we have; He wants who we are. He seeks to create in our hearts a sanctuary for Himself, a place where He may rest.

In the Scriptures this rest is called “a Sabbath rest” (Heb. 4:9). It does not, however, come from keeping the Sabbath, for the Jews kept the Sabbath but never entered God’s rest. The Book of Hebrews is plain: Joshua did not give the Israelites rest (v.v. 7-8). And after so long a period of Sabbath-keeping, Scripture continues, “So there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God” (v. 9).

The question must be asked then, “What is this Sabbath rest?” Let us explore Genesis in pursuit of our answer. “Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because in it He rested from all His work” (Gen. 2:3). Before God rested on the Sabbath, there was nothing special or holy about the seventh day. Had the Lord rested on the third day, then it would have been holy. Rest is not in the Sabbath; it is in God. Rest is a prevailing quality of His completeness.

Revelation 4:6 describes the throne of God as having before it, as it were, “a sea of glass, like crystal.” A sea of glass is a sea without waves or ripples, a symbol of the imperturbable calm of God. Let us grasp this point: the Sabbath was not a source of rest for God; He was the source of rest for the Sabbath. As it is written, “The Creator of the ends of the earth does not become weary or tired” (Isa. 40:28). And even as the Sabbath became holy when God rested upon it, so we become holy as we put away sin, as the fullness of God settles and rests upon us.

In our study, we are not associating God’s rest merely with the sense of being rebuilt or rejuvenated, which we obviously need and associate with human rest. The rest we seek is not a rejuvenation of our energy; it is the exchange of energy: our life for God’s, through which the vessel of our humanity is filled with the Divine Presence and the all-sufficiency of Christ Himself.

Enveloped and Permeated With God The Hebrew word for rest is nuach; among other things, it means “to rest, remain, be quiet.” It also indicates a “complete envelopment and thus permeation,” as in the spirit of Elijah “resting” on Elisha, or when wisdom “rests in the heart of him who has understanding.” God is not looking for a place where He can merely cease from His labors with men. He seeks a relationship where He can “completely envelop and thus permeate” every dimension of our lives, where He can tabernacle, remain, and be quiet within us.

When God’s rest abides upon us, we live in union with Jesus the same way He lived in union with the Father (John 10:14-15). Christ’s thought-life was “completely enveloped and thus permeated” with the presence of God. He did only those things He saw and heard His Father do. He declared, “The Father abiding in Me does His works” (John 14:10). There is rest because it is Christ working through us. Jesus promises us, “If you ask Me anything in My name, I will do it” (v. 14). How vain we are to think we can do miracles, love our enemies, or do any of the works of God without Christ doing His works through us!

This is why Jesus said, “Come to Me . . . and I will give you rest” (Matt. 11:28). In a storm-tossed boat on the sea of Galilee, Christ’s terrified disciples came to Him. Their cries were the cries of men about to die. Jesus rebuked the tempest, and immediately the wind and sea became “perfectly calm,” even as calm as He was (Matt. 8:26). What program, what degree of ministerial professionalism can compare with the life and power we receive through Him?

You see, our efforts, no matter how much we spend of ourselves, cannot produce the rest or life of God. We must come to Him. Many leaders have worked themselves nearly to exhaustion seeking to serve God. If they spent half their time with Him, in prayer and waiting before Him, they would find His supernatural accompaniment working mightily in their efforts. They would become passengers in the vehicle of His will, a vehicle in which He Himself is both captain and navigator.

Cease Striving, Know, Then Obey To enter God’s rest requires we abide in full surrender to His will, in perfect trust of His power. We learn to rest from our works “as God did from His” (Heb. 4:10). To “rest from our labors” does not mean we have stopped working; it means we have stopped the laborious work of the flesh and sin. It means we have entered the eternal works that He brings forth through us.

The turmoil caused by unbelief is brought to rest by faith. The strife rooted in unforgiveness is removed by love. Our fearful thoughts, He arrests through trust; our many questions are answered by His wisdom. Such is the mind that has entered the rest of God.

The church needs to possess the knowledge of God’s ways, for herein do we enter His rest (Heb. 3:8-12). We gain such knowledge through obedience to God’s Word during conflicts. As we obey God through the testings of life, we learn how to deal with situations as God would. Consequently, it is of the utmost value to hear what God is speaking to us, and especially so when life seems to be a wilderness of hardship and trials.

Therefore, just as the Holy Spirit says, “Today if you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts as when they provoked Me, as in the day of trial in the wilderness. . . . Therefore I was angry with this generation, and said, ‘They always go astray in their heart, and they did not know My ways’; as I swore in My wrath, ‘They shall not enter My rest.'” —Hebrews 3:7-8, 10-11

He says, “They always go astray in their heart . . . they did not know My ways . . . they shall not enter My rest.” Let us understand: knowing God’s ways leads to His rest.

We must see that there is no rest in a hardened heart. There is no rest when we rebel against God. Our rest comes from becoming honest about our needs and allowing Christ to change us.

Thus Jesus said, “Learn from Me . . . and you will find rest for your souls” (Matt. 11:29). Stop fighting with God and learn from Him. Let His Word put to death the torments of the sin nature. Cease struggling, cease wrestling against the Blessed One. Trust Him! For eventually His Word will plunder the defenses of your heart. Be committed to your surrender. In time He shall no longer use adversity to reach your heart, for you shall delight in being vulnerable to Him. Continue your diligent yielding until even His whisper brings sweet trembling to your soul. Far more precious than the men of a hundred nations is one man perfectly given to the Spirit of God. This man is God’s tabernacle, the one to whom God looks . . . and with whom He is well pleased.

He says, “Heaven is My throne and the earth is My footstool. Where then is a house you could build for Me? And where is a place that I may rest? For My hand made all these things, thus all these things came into being” (Isa. 66:1-2). Yet, incredibly, one man with one quality of heart captures the attention and promise of God. “But to this one I will look, to him who is humble and contrite of spirit, and who trembles at My word” (v. 2).

God looks to the man who trembles when He speaks. For in him the holy power of the Most High can, without striving, abide in perfect peace. He has learned the ways of God; he delights in obedience. He has chosen to give God what He asks: nothing less than all he is. In return, this man becomes a place, a holy place, where God Himself can rest.

 

A service of Frangipane Ministries, Inc.

Copyright (c) 2012

All rights reserved.

Unless otherwise stated, all Scripture quotations were taken from the NASB.