Prayer-mental, Not Judgmental

A religion without love is an abomination to God. The church needs to learn that God desires love and compassion, not merely an adherence to ritual and sacrifice. Thus, Jesus said His Father’s house would be a “house of prayer for all the nations” (Mark 11:17). True prayer is born of love and comes in the midst of sin and need. It comes not to condemn, but to cover.

All nations sin. All cultures have seasons of moral decline and spiritual malaise. Yet these periods can become turning points if, in times of distress, intercessors cry to God for mercy. Thus, Christlike prayer brings redemption out of disaster.

The church is created not to fulfill God’s wrath, but to complete His mercy. Remember, we are called to be a “house of prayer for all…nations.” Consider passionately this phrase: “prayer for.” Jesus taught His disciples to “pray for” those who would persecute or mistreat them (Matt.5:44). When Job “prayed for” his friends, God fully restored him (Job 42:10). We are to “pray for the peace of Jerusalem” (Ps. 122:6), and “pray for” each other so that we may be healed (James 5:16). Paul wrote that God desires all men to be saved (1 Tim. 2:4). Therefore, he urged “that entreaties and prayers…be made on behalf of all men, for kings and all who are in authority” (vv. 1-2).

“But,” you argue, “my country (or city) is a modern manifestation of ancient Babylon.”fr

I don’t think so. But even if it were, when the Lord exiled Israel to Babylon, He didn’t order His people to judge and criticize their new cities. Rather, He commanded, “Seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you…and pray to the Lord on its behalf; for in its welfare you will have welfare” (Jer. 29:7). Time after time the scriptural command is to pray for, not against; to pray mercifully, not vindictively. God’s call is for prayer moved by compassion, not condemnation. Indeed, at its very essence, the nature of intercession is to appeal to God for forgiveness, and then redemption, to come to sinful people.

We have studied what is wrong with our society and can prove, with charts and surveys, the trends of iniquity, yet we have failed to appreciate the influence of the intercessions of Christ. We consider ourselves experts on the nature and cause of sin, but deny the nature and cause of Christ, which is redemption. My friends, being informed by the news media is in no way the same thing as being transformed into the nature of the Savior.

The media sees what is wrong with the world and exposes it; Christ saw what was wrong and died for it. Study Isaiah 53. It reveals in wondrous detail the Savior’s nature: Christ numbered Himself with the sinners (v. 12). He interceded for the transgressors (v. 12). He is “with us” and “for us” (Matt. 1:23; Rom. 8:31), even when He is speaking to us of our iniquity.

God does not want us to be judgmental; He wants us prayer-mental. As instinctively as we have judged people, we should pray for them instead.

Article written by: Francis Frangipane

www.frangipane.org

A Word to the Women of God

Before I begin this message, let me provide a short disclaimer: although I do encourage women to move freely within the order provided by God in their local churches, my goal is to exalt and celebrate a primary grace that God has placed specifically within women, which the Lord Himself has used in past times to release revival.

The Genesis Distinctions When the Lord created humankind, He placed unique graces in man and separate but equally unique graces in woman. He told Adam to name the species of life on earth “and whatever the man called a living creature, that was its name” (Gen. 2:19). This “naming” was much more than calling the dog “Spot.” Adam was created with an organizational, administrative capacity that enabled him to identify and define the world around him. By naming the living things, Adam not only brought them into his consciousness, but he introduced order and structure to the human experience. Adam did not create the world, of course, but by defining the things God brought to him, he helped establish reality.

Within the genetics of this original man, there also existed the powerful, but dormant, qualities of the woman. While Adam slept the Spirit took from the man a rib. Fashioning it into a woman, the Lord created for Adam a companion. Not only was she suitable for him, but she powerfully expanded man’s creative capacities. Indeed, the woman brought many new graces into Adam’s world that did not formerly exist—the foremost of which was the power to conceive and give birth.

It is important to remember: God created male and female in His image, according to His likeness (Gen 1:26). Of course, in certain ways, both Adam and Eve as individuals possessed reflections of the divine nature. They each could think, speak, dream and create. However, it was in the union of Adam and Eve, in their mutual respect of one another’s strengths and graces, that mankind would possess a more perfect expression of the fuller nature of God.

As Adam beheld this first female, he said, “This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man” (Gen 2:23). The term woman was a delineation used by Adam, identifying her as a unique variation in the species of man. My wife says, “Think of her as the upgrade.” In some ways, she is right, for the nature of the woman was twice refined. Adam was created of earth; the woman emerged not from the earth but from the man. She is both more complex and emotionally sophisticated.

Soon Adam began to understand the greatest power of his counterpart: her ability to conceive and bring life into the world. Recognizing this quality, Adam named her Eve, which meant “life.” Eve would play an integral part in the unfolding of life’s new beginnings. “She was the mother of all the living” (Gen. 3:20).

The Power of a Woman’s Prayer The Lord gave Adam a primary ability to name and establish reality; He gave to woman the unique capacity to conceive and then birth reality. The primary strength of each gender is that man establishes, woman births. Remember, these qualities are not merely “human”: they are reflections of the divine. Man’s ability to bring order to one’s world, to take what was random and give it definition and structure, is a divine facility. Woman’s ability to conceive and incubate life, and then deliver life through birth, is also an aspect of the divine nature.

Note also that Adam named the woman Eve (or “Life”) before they had children. God gave the woman an ability not just to have babies but to release life in a variety of its expressions. In fact, one translation says that Eve means to “enliven.” Alone, Adam had been downcast; it was not good that Adam was alone. Eve enlivened Adam in ways no other creature on earth could. Adam could build a house; Eve made it a home. When Adam named Eve “Life,” he was not only speaking prophetically of the first mother, but he was speaking out of his own experience: Eve brought life into the structure of Adam’s world.

We are speaking in generalities here, but when we observe the spiritual realm, we see this same divine encoding replicated in the ministries of men and women. Jesus laid the foundation of the church with twelve men whom He called to be apostles. This didn’t mean there would never be women in leadership, but that one of the better skills given man from God was the ability to bring order and structure. By the same token, prior to Christ’s birth we find Anna, a prophetess, engaged in much prayer and fasting. In my opinion, it is quite possible that this woman was not alone in her intercession, but the leader of a prophetic prayer ministry that lived in anticipation of her times. Women excel in intercession, in spiritual sensitivity and the release of new beginnings. Note: this does not excuse men from prayer! Actually, some of the Bible’s best examples of intercessors are men! We are speaking in generalities in reference to the spiritual tendencies of both genders. Neither distinction is more important than the other. Both are absolutely vital for the unfolding of God’s will upon the earth.

Today, we are fighting the advance of Satan in many arenas. Whether the topic is wars and terrorist attacks or the ever-increasing expansion of iniquity in our world, we need revival. To possess a national awakening, the “birthing” power God has placed in women must be released. All the efforts of man to establish laws and govern righteously will not truly transform our culture. We need something greater; we need the presence of God poured out. I believe the Holy Spirit is raising up a prayer army of women who are rising in power on behalf of their families and nations.

My Mother’s Prayers I personally know the power of a woman’s prayer—my mother. In the late sixties, I was a very lost young man living in sin and rebellion. Judging from my appearance, I looked hopeless. Yet in spite of my outward condition, my dear Catholic mother stood before God for me. Resist as I did, divine power, uniquely born of her prayers, began to hunt me down. Her cries were relentless and unceasing; often she would pray through the night for me. She was pregnant with prayer for her son. In 1970 God finally answered, and during the Jesus Movement revival, I came to Christ.

Years later I asked the Lord about this revival. As you may know, it has been part of my assignment to help engender citywide unity and establish prayer, things that precede revival. Yet, to my knowledge, no citywide unity or organized prayer fueled the Jesus Movement. So I asked the Lord how revival could occur without a prayer movement at its source. The Lord quickly corrected me, saying that there was a great prayer movement: He had heard the prayers of a million praying mothers, each crying to Him for their children.

From all denominations, in a “unity of desperation,” God heard the cries of believing mothers. His heart was touched, and as a result, multitudes of sinful kids found repentance and salvation in Jesus Christ. This is the army God desires to release again today, but now with more vision, more power from the Holy Spirit, and with the support of men as well!

Women of God, the fact is, Heaven needs you! You have been created by the Almighty to birth breakthroughs on planet Earth! God has uniquely designed you with a latent ability to release life through your intercession. Together with you, we men can build and establish, and we are learning to pray, but you have a special grace to release new spiritual beginnings. Whether your prayer focus is for your husband or church leadership, whether you are interceding for your children, city or nation, you possess in your spirit the seed-realities that, through prayer, can release God’s life into the world.

Yes, indeed, there is a battle; there still exists “enmity between [the serpent] and the woman” (Gen. 3:15). Satan especially hates you because it was your seed that bruised the serpent’s head. It is amazing to me that God chose to bring His Son into the world, not through the heavens nor even through a woman impregnated by man, but through a woman made pregnant by God! God Himself came to earth through the woman’s power to give birth!

Today the Lord is giving women a new grace, a new confidence against the powers of hell. Out of their oneness with Christ, these godly women will prayer-birth powerful ministries on earth, both male and female. They will release new beginnings to the body of Christ.

I also want to commend and personally thank the many women’s ministries and prayer groups that have stood with me, interceding for my life, my family and my ministry. Many, many times I have suddenly experienced divinely protection or unexpected spiritual breakthroughs. When I questioned the Lord, He’s said, I’m answering the prayers of [such-and-such] ministry. To each of you, I say a special thank-you. In a unique way, you have been a mother to me. May the Lord multiply His grace toward you and give you the desires of your hearts!

Finally, Revelations 12 speaks of a “woman clothed with the sun.” This word is not only talking about Israel or the church. It also reveals how the Most High sees spiritual women: They are honored and crowned with distinction; pure and clothed with the glory of God. With confidence, they tread upon the powers of night. Dear army of praying women, it is your inherent destiny to birth that which shall rule the nations.

 

A service of Frangipane Ministries, Inc. Copyright (c) 2012 All rights reserved. Unless otherwise stated, all Scripture quotations were taken from the NASB.

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This Day We Fight!

 Scripture says that the Lord left nations in the promised land “to test Israel by them (that is, all who had not experienced any of the wars of Canaan); only in order that the generations of the sons of Israel might be taught war” (Judg. 3:1-2).

 To complete our spiritual maturity, the Lord must “test” us with enemies; like Israel, we must be “taught war.”

 I realize that most of us prefer peace. Yes, as much as it depends on us, we should live at peace with all men (Rom. 12:18). Our fight is not against flesh and blood, but we are in a worldwide conflict with principalities and powers (see Eph. 6:12). You see, there is a “time for war” (Eccl. 3:8). As Christians, we must accept and adjust to this truth.

 To stand victorious, we need to expand our understanding of who Jesus Christ is. The Bible says Christ “will go forth like a warrior, He will arouse His zeal like a man of war. He will utter a shout, yes, He will raise a war cry. He will prevail against His enemies” (Isa. 42:13).

 Even the rapture must be understood in military terms: “For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first” (1 Thess. 4:16).

 The imagery of the Lord’s coming is explosive: He comes with a “shout” (or “cry of command,” a “war cry”). He’s followed by the stunning “voice of the “archangel,” then a blast of the “trumpet of God,” so loud, so undeniable that the powers of the heavens are confronted and collapse! Finally, the very “dead in Christ” begin to rise! The whole operation is fiercely militant in nature.

 One may argue, yes the Lord is coming to war, but His first goal is to rescue us. Well, I am certainly not against being rescued, having been rescued many times by the Lord! But the picture of the church is also one of militancy. Remember, Jesus said, “I will build My church; and the gates of Hades will not overpower it” (Matt. 16:18). Consider again the imagery: it is the church that is advancing against the gates of hell, and it is hell that is not prevailing!

 The Need for War

Truly, I am for peace, but I recognize that I cannot have peace unless I am first trained for war. It is my training for war that secures my ability to have peace. Indeed, it was during the times of warfare – of struggle and battle – when I have grown the most in courage, in faith, in sacrifice, and in love. The battle stretched me beyond the boundaries of my spirituality. Yes, when I was fighting for my family, church or community, it was the fight itself that defined and established my spiritual growth.

 Indeed, as I have grown older, I have come to understand that every generation is ordained to confront and defeat the enemies of its era. In the last hundred years, men and women fought in WWI; then came the Great Depression, and poverty and fear were conquered. WWII began, and again a generation rose and saved the world from unspeakable tyranny. Next, America rose to stand against the spread of godless Soviet communism.

 You see, every generation, at some point, will face a war that must be won. In that fight we learn lessons of courage. Do we see this generational warfare? Thus, we cannot interpret the fallen conditions of our world and assume the end of the world is upon us. No! What we are seeing in our world is the battleground of our war against the godless enemies of our times.

 Remember, I believe in the rapture; I also believe we are in the season of the end. But I cannot excuse myself from facing the giants of today’s wars. As our forefathers had to succeed on the battlefield against great and highly trained enemies, so we too must overcome the radical agenda of those who seek to mainstream perversion into our society. Some of us have fought in the physical wars of Iraq and Afghanistan – and we must pray righteous conclusions for these wars as well. Others are fighting to see our nation returned to Christ. I know some are weary, yet it is time that we too “might be taught war.”

 Regardless of the battle before us, no matter how dark the spiritual atmosphere becomes, we must fight for the purposes of God in the earth. We cannot relax our intercession nor surrender our vision for our nation’s future. We have not entered the day of irreversible darkness.

 You are no doubt familiar with the Lord of the Rings trilogy written by J.R.R. Tolkien. Tolkien, an Englishman, denied that his work mirrored the realities of World War II. Yet much of his manuscript was written during the height of that great conflict, when entire kingdoms were at war. He was clearly influenced by his time. His book is a metaphor for all times and conflicts, especially highlighting the role of common men to attain uncommon levels of valor and victory against forces of evil.

 In a scene from the third Lord of the Rings movies, The Return of the King, King Aragorn seeks to inspire his outnumbered men to fight in spite of what seems like sure defeat: Hell’s swarming legions have amassed before them and the courage of Aragorn’s fighters is weakening. Riding along the front lines of his gathered, but lowly army, he shouts:

 I see in your eyes the same fear that would take the heart of me. A day may come when the courage of men fails, when we forsake our friends and break all bonds of fellowship. But it is not this day. . . . This day we fight! By all that you hold dear on this good earth, I bid you stand, men of the West!

 Let us also put aside our fears and especially the burden of a passive, prayerless existence. Let us take up the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God. And let us fight for all we hold dear in our times and culture. Yes, a day may come when the world will fully succumb, for a sprinkling of years, to the forces of evil. But it is not this day. This day we fight!

 —Adapted from Francis’ book, This Day We Fight!

A service of Frangipane Ministries, Inc.

Copyright (c) 2012

All rights reserved.

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

 

  

 

To Attain the Fullness of Christ

There is a new stirring from the Holy Spirit. The Lord’s goal is for us is to abide in Jesus. John taught, “The one who says he abides in Him ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked” (1 John 2:6). If we truly abide in Him, we will walk even “as He walked.”

 The first-century saints had the words of Jesus and they had the Spirit of Jesus. In that simplicity the church enjoyed unsurpassed greatness and power. We also are becoming true disciples, seeking to walk even as Jesus walked. This is the singular essential requirement in unifying the church: we each desire for Christ’s image to be established in our hearts.

 Is this possible? Are we being reasonable? Listen to what Jesus taught. He said, “He who believes in Me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go to the Father” (John 14:12). Again, He taught, “If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it shall be done for you” (John 15:7). When we are aligned correctly to God’s will, we will indeed have the life of God manifest in our lives.

 Here is the vision and prayer of Paul for those in pursuit of Christlikeness. He wrote:

 “That you may have the power and be strong to apprehend and grasp with all the saints [God’s devoted people, the experience of that love] what is the breadth and length and height and depth [of it]; [That you may really come] to know [practically, through experience for yourselves] the love of Christ, which far surpasses mere knowledge [without experience]; that you may be filled [through all your being] unto all the fullness of God [may have the richest measure of the divine Presence, and become a body wholly filled and flooded with God Himself]!” (Eph. 3:18-19 Amplified Bible).

 Beloved, this is not New Age religion or false manifest sons theology; it is the truth of God proclaimed in the Sacred Scriptures. It is God’s will that we, Christ’s church, be filled through all our being unto all the fullness of God, that we each become a body “wholly filled and flooded with God Himself!”

 Let this become both our immediate and our long-term goal: to see Jesus Christ revealed in His fullness in the church!

 —Adapted from Francis’ book, When the Many Are One

A service of Frangipane Ministries, Inc.

Copyright (c) 2012

All rights reserved.

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

 

 

 

 

 

The Greatest in God’s Kingdom

Of all virtues, Jesus elevated meekness above the rest. Why humility? It is the door opener to grace, and no virtue enters our lives except that humility acknowledges our need and requests virtue to come. Without humility, we see no reason to change or appropriate future grace.

Yet, humility not only hosts the other virtues, it is also the life essence that sustains them. It is humility that recognizes when love is growing cold and humility that confesses our need for greater purity. Without humility, our virtues harden into lifeless statues; we are outwardly religious, but inwardly unable to change.

Humility is the taproot of true nobility. For it provides increase to wholeness, and life and maturity to all other virtues. It is the antidote to Phariseeism and the cure for a Jezebelian attitude.

A Child

Consider: when Jesus was asked by His disciples, “Who then is the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven?” He put a child in their midst. He said, “Whoever then humbles himself as this child, he is the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven” (Matt. 18:1,4).

What a sublime wonder! In Heaven, the height of greatness is measured by the depth of one’s humility.

Consider Wuest’s Expanded Translation of Jesus’ statement:

“Therefore, he who is of such a nature as to humble himself like this little child, esteeming himself small inasmuch as he is so, thus thinking truly, and because truly, therefore humbly of himself, this person is the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven.”

Jesus came to establish Heaven in the lives of His followers. Thus, He introduces the realm of God to His disciples with the words, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven” (Matt 5:3).

Beloved, the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to the “poor in spirit.” Who are these poor? They are people who “know their need” (Goodspeed Translation). Beloved, there are people in Heaven who were sinners on Earth. The streets of God’s kingdom are filled with people who, at some time or another, failed and fell short. There are adulterers who’ve been washed and cleansed by Christ’s blood, ex-drug dealers and prostitutes whose hearts are filled with praise to God – all who came face to face with their need, repented and found forgiveness of their sins.

But there is not one proud individual in Heaven. There are no self-righteous beings in Heaven.

Here on earth we see the strutting pride – the air of self-importance – manifest in leaders and celebrities. Again, we behold the air of false superiority in our cultural prejudices. We see unrepentant pride in the conflicts that lead to divorce and the offspring of pride – envy and jealousy – in the inordinate desire of men to be glorified before other men.

Jesus said the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to the poor in spirit! Not the perfect, but the poor. Yes, we are called to standards of perfection, and strive we must toward that upward call. Yet, perfection in Heaven is measured, not in degrees of self-sufficiency, but in degrees of dependency and surrender. We can search for an eternity and we will observe truly: there dwells not one proud soul in all of Heaven.

Today, we cry for revival and pray for breakthroughs, and persevere we must. Yet the Lord’s eyes are upon a certain individual. He says,

“For thus says the high and exalted One Who lives forever, whose name is Holy, ‘I dwell on a high and holy place, and also with the contrite and lowly of spirit in order to revive the spirit of the lowly and to revive the heart of the contrite'” (Isa.57:15).

The disciples were arguing about who is greatest in the Kingdom. Jesus placed a child in their midst. This is greatness in the Kingdom of Heaven: to possess a humble heart.

 

A service of Frangipane Ministries, Inc.

Copyright (c) 2012

All rights reserved.

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

 

 

 

 

 

Prayer Changed the Mind of God

The visible glory of God descended, then manifested on the top of Mt. Sinai. As many as six million Israelites heard the audible voice of God speaking to them from the majestic fire. The entire nation quaked and trembled in holy fear. In response, Israel’s leaders begged Moses that no further words be spoken to them by God. Moses agreed, then turned and ascended the mountaintop and entered this frightening holy blaze where He remained for forty days. (See Exodus 19:17-20:19; 24:18.)

Incredibly, when Moses delayed his return, the Israelites began to rebel, making for themselves an idol, a golden calf, similar to the idols of Egypt. They did this in full view of the glory of God, defying His glory with their outrageous idolatry. (See Exodus 31:1-8.)

Nothing angers the living God more than man’s idolatry, and this brazen act was enough to have destroyed all Israel, both the sinners and also those who saw their sin and did nothing to stop it. In response, the Lord said to Moses, “I have seen this people, and behold, they are an obstinate people. Now then let Me alone, that My anger may burn against them, and that I may destroy them; and I will make of you a great nation” (Exod. 32:9-10).

This is an amazing verse. It reveals something of the inner workings of the divine mind. I am thinking in particular of the Lord’s statement: “Let Me alone.” The implication is that if the Lord is “alone”—that is, without an intercessor to appeal to His mercy—divine wrath can be fully expressed. Conversely, the opposite is also true: wrath can be restrained if we, as intercessors, do not withdraw our entreaty. As long as Moses does not withdraw from prayer, there is a mercy opportunity that is being made possible.

The goal of an intercessor is to remain in prayer; i.e., to “not let God alone.” This is not to imply that we are more merciful or forgiving than God. That would be quite untrue. What is true, though, is that some measure of divine grace and forgiveness – an unreasonable measure – is reserved in God’s heart and only escorted to earth by human intercession. God’s holiness demands that sin be punished; His mercy, however, triumphs over judgment and can be enlisted by prayer.

Our quest is to unite in oneness with the mercy of God. Conversely, the devil’s goal is to create the opposite relationship between us and God where we accuse people for their sins and failures. Satan seeks to embitter us against our loved ones and associates, neighbors and nation so that our desires are not redemptive but accusatory and judgmental.

Peter tells husbands to not be embittered against their wives so that their “prayers will not be hindered” (1 Pet. 3:7). Underline this truth: bitterness hinders intercession. The Lord desires we climb into His very thought-processes in extending mercy to earth. In this, the mercy-oriented intercessor attracts the full attention of God.

“Let Me alone,” the Lord said. Yet Moses refused. Instead, he reminds the Lord of His promises for Israel as well as His relationship with Israel’s forefathers: Abraham, Isaac and Jacob (Ex. 32:11-13). Too many intercessors misinterpret the Lord’s initial pushback and report, erroneously, that God has exhausted His mercy. He has not. In fact, His mercies are new every morning. Moses’ response to the pushback was to prevail upon God’s love. He reminds the Lord of His purpose, repeats the Lord’s promise, and he does not stop praying for Israel.

Moses became a mature intercessor. He stayed close to God, prevailing in prayer. Even though the Lord said He would make of Moses a great nation, Moses ignored the prospect. He knew all people would have times of sin and failure. Moses had come too far to start over. This journey was about a covenant that was made with Israel’s forefathers.

Remember, the assignment is to bring an imperfect people with a promise from God into fulfillment. The intercessor’s role is to pray from the beginning of that journey, through the valleys of sin and setbacks, and continue praying until the promise from God is obtained.

You may be a pastor of a church or an intercessor or a parent. Regardless, whoever you are praying for, you must have this attitude: “Lord, I am not letting You alone concerning my loved one.”

When I pray, I never pray for divine wrath to fall; I always pray for mercy and grace. I agree with God that wrath is justified because of man’s sin, yet I plead with God for mercy and correction.

The Result

The result of Moses’ intercession is utterly amazing: “So the Lord changed His mind about the harm which He said He would do to His people” (Exod. 32:14).

May this be a revelation to us all! Moses’ prayer changed God’s mind!

Much of how God relates to the future of a nation is based upon how the people in that society pray. The Spirit has made one truth plain to me: The future of a society does not belong to sinners; it belongs to those who pray. Thus, Jesus tells His disciples that whatever two of them agree on “about anything that they may ask” (Matt. 18:19), it will be granted by the heavenly Father. Two or three servants of God who refuse to abandon their faithfulness in prayer can release the mercy of God into their world.

For Moses and the Israelites, the outcome was profound: “the Lord changed His mind about the harm which He said He would do to His people” (Exod. 32:14).

Think of it: prayer changed the mind of God.

Lord, thank You for always remaining open to our cries. Help me to persevere, to give You no rest, until You fulfill Your highest purposes with my family, church and nation. Thank You that one voice is not too feeble that You cannot hear it. Master, I stand in the gap for those I love. Reveal Your mercy to them.

 

—adapted from a chapter in Francis’ book,

The Power of One Christlike Life

 

 A service of Frangipane Ministries, Inc.

Copyright (c) 2012

All rights reserved.

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

 www.frangipane.org

Where a Desolate Soul Finds God

In spite of breakthroughs in several regions, many Christians have grown weary. Their love is growing cold; their passions, lukewarm. The prophet Daniel warned of a time when the enemy would “…wear down the saints of the Highest One” (Dan. 7:25). To emerge victorious in this day, we must climb into the reality given to us by God in Psalm 91. There is a place of replenishing life, a fountain of light, wherein we can abide. The Bible calls this place the shelter of the Most High.

 Elijah: A Man Like Us

Elijah was a man with passions like ours, and he fought in a spiritual war similar to ours. In his battle for the soul of Israel, he stood against the wiles of Jezebel and her husband, King Ahab. Yet his most intense battle was not against visible foes but against personal discouragement.

 As bold as Elijah was, he lived as a fugitive moving in and out of caves and places of hiding. Jezebel had murdered nearly all of the Lord’s prophets, replacing their godly influence with the dark, satanic oppression accompanying the priests of Baal and the Asherah. A new initiative, however, had come from the Lord: Both Elijah and the prophets of Baal were to build altars, each to the deity they each served. The God who answered with fire would be acknowledged as Lord over the nation.

 King Ahab and all Israel came to the confrontation. Try as they may, the priests of Baal could draw no response from their demonic idol, Baal. In dramatic contrast, at Elijah’s prayer, fire immediately fell from heaven and consumed his sacrifice. This was Elijah’s greatest victory. And when the Israelites saw the display of God’s power, they bowed to the ground saying, “The Lord, He is God; the Lord, He is God” (1 Kings 18:39).

 But the Lord was not finished. After Elijah had the priests of Baal executed, he went to the top of Mount Carmel and, kneeling face down, he prayed seven times for rain until the Lord brought a great downpour that ended a devastating three-year drought. On this one day, both fire and rain miraculously fell from heaven!

 Perhaps if this tremendous day had occurred at any other time in Israel’s history, the nation would have repented, but it did not. Baal worship should have ended, but it continued. In fact, nothing changed. Instead of the revival that Elijah envisioned, the opposite occurred: an enraged Jezebel vowed to kill the Lord’s prophet, spurring Elijah to flee into the wilderness. There Elijah collapsed, exhausted and despondent, beneath a juniper tree. “It is enough; now O Lord,” the weary prophet prayed, “take my life, for I am not better than my fathers” (1 Kings 19:4).

 Elijah had offered the Lord his very best effort. This day had been the culminating event of his life. Elijah had prayed that Israel would know the Lord was their God and that, in response, the Lord would turn Israel’s “heart back again” (1 Kings 18:37). Yet, like the prophets before him, Elijah could not trigger revival for Israel.

 Discouragement overwhelmed him. He had had enough.

 Have you been to the point of spiritual or emotional exhaustion where you too have said, “It is enough”? Perhaps you were frustrated by your own inability to effect positive change in your family; or, you’ve fasted and prayed for your church or society but no visible change occurred. You gave your all but found little success. Disheartened and weary like Elijah, all your resources were spent.

 Elijah lay down and slept. As he did, an angel touched him and said, “Arise, eat” (1 Kings 19:5). At his head were bread and water. Elijah, weary with life itself, ate and withdrew back into sleep.

 Once more the angel touched him. “Arise,” he said. “Eat, because the journey is too great for you” (v. 7). For all our visions, plans, and programs, the journey before each of us is also “too great.” Indeed our journey will always, at various points, be too great for us. For life is so constructed to drive us closer to God.

 Back to Our Foundations

“So [Elijah] arose and ate and drank, and went in the strength of that food forty days and forty nights to Horeb, the mountain of God” (1 Kings 19:8).

 The Lord gave Elijah strength, not to send him back to battle but to bring him back to basics. If we become more consumed with our task than we are with our love for God, our lives will eventually become brittle and desolate. To restore our souls, the Lord brings us back to the essentials of our faith. Indeed, He might even stop our labors completely and direct us to the simpler realities of prayer, time in the Word, and worship. He reminds us that, of all He calls us to accomplish, His greatest commandment is to love Him with “all our heart” (Mark 12:30). Without this focus, we lose touch with God’s presence; we are outside the shelter of the Most High.

 The Lord brought Elijah to “Horeb, the mountain of God.” In Hebrew, Horeb means “desolation.” The barren environment mirrored Elijah’s soul. Yet to God, Horeb was actually a place where the issues of a man’s heart were flushed to the surface. There is no theater at Horeb, no acting. It is the place of unembellished honesty and core-to-surface transparency.

 How Did You Get Here?

Perhaps Elijah’s greatest virtue was his zeal. Indeed, twice in his communication with God, Elijah speaks of having been “very zealous” for the Lord. But zeal unattended by wisdom eventually becomes its own god. It compels us toward expectations that are unrealistic and outside the timing and anointing of God.

 To remain balanced, zeal must be reined in and harnessed by strategic encounters with the living God. Otherwise we become frustrated with people and discouraged with delays. We step outside our place of strength and spiritual protection.

 Elijah had come to Horeb and lodged there in a cave. Soon the Word of the Lord came to him: “What are you doing here, Elijah?” (v. 9). This is one of the most important questions God will ever ask us. His question probes the reality of our spiritual state: “How did your service to Me become dry and desolate?” God wants us to know that when we fail to esteem Him as our first love, we will always find a desert awaiting us.

 Our primary purpose in life must be to abide in Christ. Otherwise we can become so consumed with the deteriorating condition of the world that we fail to see the deteriorating condition of our own soul. In His love, the Lord stops us and forces us to look honestly at our heart: Is this existence that I now live the abundant life promised me from Christ?

 Let’s speak candidly. We have nothing to prove and no need to pretend. We can abandon the internal mechanisms of defensiveness and pride. If we are disappointed, we are free to express it; if frustrated, we can admit it. We must simply and truthfully evaluate, without rationalization, our true spiritual condition.

 Transparency is the outer garment of humility; and, humility draws the grace of God to our hearts. Is not intimacy with God the very thing we most neglect? And is not the Lord alone our source of strength in battle? If the enemy can distract us from our time alone with God, he will isolate us from the help that comes from God alone.

 Let us approach the living God without any garment, but with transparency.

 A Fresh Anointing

As the pressures of this age escalate, we will soon discover that yesterday’s anointing will not suffice for today’s battles. The Lord brought a new beginning to Elijah’s life at Horeb—one that would ultimately release a “double portion” of power to Elijah’s successor, Elisha. Under this new anointing, Jezebel would be destroyed, Baal worship abolished, and the only period of revival the northern tribes ever experienced would begin.

 To reach a similar place of breakthrough, it will take more than the momentum of our own zeal. We should not be surprised if God calls us to pass through our own Horeb.

 How will we recognize this place? Horeb is the voice of personal desolation; it is the desperate compelling of our heart to possess more of God. We must now listen carefully to the voice of God. For it is at Horeb that He brings us deeper into Himself. It is here, under the canopy of His compassion, that we discover the purpose of our brokenness: our desolation is in fact a time of preparation.

 The Lord is about to bring a new beginning to you. When you return to the battle, you shall war from the shelter of the Most High.

 Lord Jesus, apart from You, my life is dry and desolate. Forgive me for trying to do Your will without abiding in Your presence. I desperately need You, Lord. This day, I commit my heart to return to my first love. Teach me, Lord, to consider intimacy with You the greatest measure of my success. Let me see Your glory; reveal to me Your goodness. Guide me, Oh Holy Spirit, into the spiritual fortress of the presence of God. Amen.

 

—adapted from a chapter in Francis’ book, The Shelter of the Most High

published by Charisma House

A service of Frangipane Ministries, Inc.

Copyright (c) 2012

All rights reserved.

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

www.frangipane.org

 

Even Sodom!

It is not God who hinders the healing of our land. Rather it is our apathy, our own unbelief, that keeps us from grasping the potential offered in the Gospel of Christ! Do not marvel when I say entire cities can be saved. The Scripture tells us that nations will come to our light and kings to the brightness of our rising! (Isaiah 60:1-3)

All We Lack is Christlikeness!

“He then began to denounce the cities in which most of His miracles were done, because they did not repent” (Matt. 11:20). Jesus has a word to say, not only to us as individuals, but to entire cities as well. In anger He rebuked Chorazin, Bethsaida and Capernaum (Matt. 11:21); with tears, He cried out to Jerusalem (Luke 13:34). If He expected cities to repent in the first century, He expects cities today to repent as well.

It was in this very context of reproving cities, however, that Jesus made a statement which unveiled the scope of God’s redemptive power. Listen to His rebuke, but also to its hidden promise. He said, “For if the miracles had occurred in Tyre and Sidon which occurred in you, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes” (Matt. 11:21).

Tyre and Sidon were Gentile cities known for their debauchery and sin. Yet, Jesus said that His life, revealed in power, can bring even the vilest of cities, places which ought to be destroyed, to “sackcloth and ashes.” The strategy, therefore, to win our cities is for the church to reveal Christ’s life in power. Yes, the revelation of Christ in us as individuals, and the power of Christ displayed corporately through us, can turn our worst cities back toward God!

Today, many cities are ripe for revival. What hinders the turning of the people’s hearts? Part of the answer lies with the church, with our sins of self-righteousness, indifference and unbelief. The Lord said if His people would humble themselves and pray, seek His face and turn from evil, He would then heal their land (see 2 Chron. 7:14). The future does not belong to the world; it belongs to the transformed church. Indeed, let us never forget: God “desires all men to be saved” (1 Tim. 2:4). With this in mind, Paul taught that entreaties and prayers should be made on behalf of all men, “for kings and all who are in authority” (1 Tim. 2:1-4). The sacrifice of Christ provides for the salvation of all men. Heaven waits only for the church to act.

One may say, “But, that was then. Our cities are worse. They are beyond redemption.” Not so. Jesus continued His rebuke of cities, saying, “If the miracles had occurred in Sodom which occurred in you, it would have remained to this day” (Matt. 11:23). Amazingly, when Christ is manifested in power, Jesus said even Sodom could find repentance!

I have heard many ministers compare Los Angeles or New York to Sodom. Good. These cities have seen hell, now let the church show them heaven. They need to see Jesus revealed in His church. The promise of Christ is that even Sodom could repent in the atmosphere and revelation of Christ’s power. If there is hope for Sodom, there is hope for your city as well!

The Obstruction to Revival: Complacency

When we picture cities, we tend to see skylines and factories, streets and schools. Jesus, however, sees people. He beholds husbands arguing with wives while their children tremble in fear. He sees drugs being sold on playgrounds and teenagers having abortions. He suffers at the bedside of the infirm. The heart of Christ grieves with the loneliness of the elderly and identifies with the struggles of the handicapped.

Yes, the eyes of the Lord probe the spirit and humanity of the city. From His eternal perspective, He also beholds the most terrible event known to man. He sees the overwhelming horror, the utter despair an unsaved person experiences as he realizes he is, indeed, dead and going to hell. And, in the midst of it all, He sees the church—His church, purchased at the cost of His own precious blood—sitting comfortably and amused, remote control in hand, watching television.

Jesus does not have a problem with the hot or cold dimensions of life. It is the lukewarm that He will spew from His mouth (Rev. 3:15-16). What stopped the cities of Chorazin, Bethsaida and Capernaum—communities that already had the blessing of Christ’s healing—from embracing ongoing renewal? They assumed Christ’s love was given only to enrich them. All they saw were the rewards of Christ without understanding His requirements.

The church today is frighteningly similar in attitude to these ancient cities. The majority of the first century saints gave their lives to Christ with the full knowledge they would face persecution, suffering and, possibly, death for their faith. Such was the character and vision of the church in the first century.

The main emphasis of much of our Christianity, however, is to help believers become “normal.” So much of our contemporary teaching keeps alive the very nature Jesus calls us to crucify! We need to reevaluate our preaching. Are we preaching the cross and the call to follow Jesus? What are we training our people to become?

Please hear me, the Father’s goal is not merely to bless us, but to transform us into the image of His Son! He desires to use us to turn our cities back to Him. But God has made no provision for the healing of our land apart from us becoming Christ like! Once we realize this vital truth, we shall return to the source of New Testament Christianity, and our cities will have hope for redemption. When the church demonstrates the love and power of Christ, repentance and revival can occur even in a place like Sodom.

Lord, forgive us for our unbelief and apathy. You have promised that even Sodom would come to You at the revelation of Your character and power. Transform us, Lord Jesus, for the sake of your glory and the renewal of our cities.

A service of Frangipane Ministries, Inc.

Copyright (c) 2011

All rights reserved.

http://www.frangipane.org/

 

Bitterness in the Garden of Our Hearts

“See to it that no one comes short of the grace of God; that no root of bitterness springing up causes trouble, and by it many be defiled” (Heb. 12:15).

It is impossible to pass through this world without being struck by injustice or heartache. Unless we process our struggles in Christ, a single wounding of our soul can create a deep bitterness within us, poisoning our very existence. In my forty-plus years of ministry, I have known far too many Christians who have perfected the art of looking polite, while living inwardly with an angry, cynical or resentful spirit. They have swallowed the poison of bitterness and they are dying spiritually because of it. The problem is that, as Christians, we know it is wrong to react with open anger toward people. However, rather than truly forgiving and surrendering that injustice to God, we suppress our anger. Anger is a result of perceived injustice. Suppressed anger always degrades into bitterness, which is, in reality, unfulfilled revenge.

Embittered People
The Bible not only provides the biographies of heroes of our faith, but it also documents the lives of common people, individuals who experienced the same kind of heartaches as we do. Some overcame wounding or loss and subsequent bitterness, while others became examples to avoid.

Consider Naomi from the book of Ruth. A famine in Israel led Naomi’s family to migrate to Moab. Without family or friends to support her, as aliens in a foreign land, Naomi then suffered the loss of her husband; his death was followed by the death of her two grown sons. When Naomi returned to Israel with Ruth, her daughter-in-law, she announced to those who knew her, “Do not call me Naomi; call me Mara [bitter], for the Almighty has dealt very bitterly with me” (Ruth 1:20).

The name Naomi means “pleasant.” We can imagine that when Naomi was dedicated to God as an infant, her parents prayed that her name would forecast her future. Now, however, the very opposite had occurred. Naomi was deeply embittered by her loss, to the extreme of blaming “the Almighty” for dealing “very bitterly” with her.

If you have ever listened to a bitter person, there is nothing “pleasant” about them. Yes, we should weep with those who weep, yet a bitter soul is a spirit trapped in a time warp; they live in the memory of their pain. Several years ago I met a woman who had suffered a difficult divorce. I talked with her every six months or so for two years, and each time we talked she said exactly the same negative things about her ex-husband. Although she was divorced from him, she was now married to a bitter spirit that held her captive to her heartache.

An embittered soul is one that continually blames someone else for their situation. For Naomi, her bitterness was actually focused towards God. She was angry that He allowed hardship and loss in her life. “The Lord has brought me back empty” (Ruth 1:21). In effect she was saying, My sorrow is God’s fault.

Contrast her life with that of Job’s first encounter with loss (Job 1:1-22). Job lost his children and possessions, yet he bowed and worshiped: “The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away. Blessed be the name of the Lord” (Job 1:21).

How we handle sorrow reveals the depth of our worship of God. When life cuts us, do we bleed bitterness or worship? Job bowed and drew close to God. Naomi withdrew and talked about the Lord with her back to Him. I have dear friends who lost their only son when he was a teenager. In the midst of their heartache, they have become examples to everyone of true worship. Over the years, their pain actually purified and deepened their worship; their suffering made them more compassionate toward the suffering of others (See 2 Cor. 1:3-4). I also know others who have suffered the sudden loss of a loved one and, within weeks, withdrew from God and became embittered. Adversity does not perfect character; it reveals character. It exposes what is happening inside of us.

Poisoned
In ancient times mankind experimented with vegetation, seeking to learn which plants were edible and which were poisonous. In his search, he discovered that, generally speaking, if a plant or fruit was sweet, it was usually safe to eat; bitter plants, man discovered, would either sicken or kill. Likewise, the bitter experiences of life, if we ingest them into our spirits, can become a spiritual poison that destroys our hopeful expectations and attitudes. Such an experience may enter your soul via a relational wound or injustice; it can begin through a major disappointment or loss. However, once bitterness enters the human soul, like ink spreading in a glass of water, it can darken every aspect of our existence.

Indeed, not only can bitterness ruin our lives, Hebrews warns that a root of bitterness can “defile many” (Heb. 12:15 NIV). A spiritual root of bitterness is a hidden, unresolved anger that is buried beneath the surface of our lives. Outwardly, we look “properly Christian” until we begin to discuss with others the situation where someone hurt us. As we speak, that root “springs up” and it defiles others. If you haven’t dealt with your bitterness, beware when you speak to others, lest you defile them with your words. If you are listening to an embittered person, take heed that the spirit of bitterness is not being transferred to your life as well!

Neglect
In Genesis we find another bitter soul in Esau, the brother of Jacob. Esau had foolishly bargained away his inheritance when he was young and then lost his father’s blessing when he was old. When Esau discovered he had lost both to his brother Jacob, the Bible tells us he “cried out with an exceedingly great and bitter cry” (Gen. 27:34).

To lose something through our laziness or neglect can create bitterness of soul. Additionally, to have someone deceive us and take what was rightfully ours is equally as destructive. I know people who were lazy and did not esteem their education. Today they are bitter employees working for minimum wage. I also know young, unwed mothers who let deceitful boys steal their virginity, which later also embittered them. Even spiritual people can find themselves suffering with bitterness caused by neglect. I know a pastor who was so devoted to his ministry, he consistently neglected his wife. She finally divorced him. Cry and plead with her as he would, he suffered the bitter loss of his wife, the emotional estrangement of his kids, and the respect of his church.

Esau’s loss made him very bitter. Yet, have we, like Esau, lost the more valuable elements of life because of our neglect? Have others received blessings that were earmarked for us, and has that loss created bitterness within us? May the Lord reveal to us these roots of bitterness that, like time-released poison, are quietly killing us.

God desires to return to us our ability to love and laugh again. Let us, therefore, sincerely approach the throne of God’s grace and ask Him to show us the garden of our hearts. Yes, and let us see if our souls are truly free of the root of bitterness.

 

A service of Frangipane Ministries, Inc.
Copyright (c) 2011
All rights reserved.
Unless otherwise stated, all Scripture quotations
were taken from the
NASB.

 

 

 

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Repairers of the Breach, Part 2

Do Not Criticize the Breach, Repair It!

“Thus says the Lord God, ‘Woe to the foolish prophets who are following their own spirit and have seen nothing. O Israel, your prophets have been like foxes among ruins. You have not gone up into the breaches, nor did you build the wall around the house of Israel to stand in the battle on the day of the Lord'” (Ezek. 13:3-5).

 The Lord is raising up a remnant of true Christ-followers. When they see a need in the church or their community, instead of just finding fault, they go “up into the breaches” and stand in the gap. They are not just critics; they are agents of redemption.

 It is easy to find fault and do nothing. Yet, when we see a battle raging in another congregation, the fact is that all churches are imperfect. The issue is not whether we can see what is wrong, but will we stand in love and prayer until that which is wrong is made right?

 You may be thinking, “You don’t understand; I have revelation of the end-time move of God. These churches barely believe in Jesus.” Even if a church is weak, the Lord’s heart is such that He will not extinguish “a dimly burning wick” (Isa.42:3).

 Even if we consider ourselves more spiritual than other churches, that is not a reason to stand aloof from their need. Hebrews tells us that “without any dispute the lesser is blessed by the greater” (Heb. 7:7). If you are truly “greater,” without a hint of pride you will seek ways to be a blessing to struggling churches. Your Christlike love will help carry them through their battle.

 If we truly have Christ’s heart, we will desire to see the entire body of Christ brought forth, not just our local assemblies. We will respect and appreciate the diversity of ways through which Christ reveals Himself in the church. Remember, there are four Gospels, not just one. Each provides a different angle into the nature of Christ. We need the variety of churches to reach the variety of people in our cities.

 In truth, Jesus said that the greatest among us would become the “servant of all” (Mark 9:35). If a church in your city holds to and confesses Jesus as their Lord and Savior, then that church is needed to complete God’s work in the city. As you join one another for daily or weekly prayer, you will be blessed and surprised by God’s preparation of others. Do not come with an attitude to teach or lead, but to love and serve. In this, God is not looking for leaders but followers of the Lord Jesus Christ.

 If we do not adjust to His will, we will be unable to stand against the enemy. Indeed, the day in which we live is not a day of peace; it is a time of war, and a house divided cannot stand. God is gathering us together not only to Him but also against the spiritual forces of wickedness in every region. Therefore, the breaches between us must be filled, the walls built, and we must learn to stand together in the day of the Lord.

 You Be the People

You do not have to go to Bible college to find fault with the church. In fact, if you remember, you could find fault with the church even before you were a Christian. However, if you want to be like Christ, you will position yourself to see God’s mercy triumph.

 We are called to stand “in the gap.” What is the “gap”? The gap is the distance between the way things are and the way things could be once they are redeemed. God calls us to stand in that space between realities, to cast down the accuser of the brethren and pray for redemption!

 Some of us have cried for years, “Where are those who will lead us into Christ’s fullness?” We have assumed that God had others in mind. What the Lord is saying, however, is, You be the men and women that others are looking for. You be the peacemakers, the sons and daughters of God that bring healing and order and love to His church.

 The responsibility is upon each of us. There is a tremendous job ahead, but the Lord Himself has promised, “Those from among you will rebuild the ancient ruins; you will raise up the age-old foundations; and you will be called the repairer of the breach, the restorer of the streets in which to dwell” (Isa. 58:12).

 Let us lay our lives down in committed faith believing that in our lifetimes, on this earth and in our communities the corporate church of Jesus Christ will be restored, united and made ready as a bride for her Beloved!

 –adapted from The Three Battlegrounds

 A service of Frangipane Ministries, Inc.

Copyright (c) 2011

All rights reserved.

Unless otherwise stated, all Scripture quotations

were taken from the NASB.