Jumat, 30 Januari 2015

Ask of Me

This word was last posted 11/2/2012. We typically do not repost articles so soon; however, with lawlessness increasing, republishing this post was appropriate.

Ask of Me
(En Español)
The Great Revolt
As though Jesus were reading a news summary of recent years, His prophecies of two thousand years ago clearly describe our times. Thus, we are compelled to discern accurately the significant era in which we live. Indeed, of the many prophetic fulfillments of our day, one in particular rises with undimmed candor. I am speaking of what the Bible calls the "apostasy." Recall Paul's warning:
"Let no one in any way deceive you, for [the day of the Lord] will not come unless the apostasy comes first" (2 Thess. 2:3).
The apostasy has traditionally been described as a time of deception and massive falling away from authentic faith in Christ. Depending upon your specific view, sometime before or after the apostasy the rapture of the church will occur. However, the concept of apostasy as merely "a falling away" is incomplete. The original Greek word for apostasy, apostasia, when used in classical Greek literature, meant "a political revolt." From this we understand that the end-time apostasy is not just a time of sinfulness or large scale backsliding; it is actually a time of open defiance and warlike aggression against godliness in general. In other words, the apostasia is a political insurrection against the laws of God.
This interpretation of the apostasy is not an isolated view. The New International Version, Revised Standard Version, Phillips Translation, and New English Bible all render apostasia as "the rebellion." The Living Bible interprets the apostasy as the "great rebellion," while the Jerusalem Bible assigns a proper name to this era: "The Great Revolt."
As we consider the fulfillment of so many other prophecies, let us carefully observe: mankind has entered an era of open revolt and outright rebellion -- an apostasy -- against the moral standards of God.
Today, we are witnessing a large-scale rebellion against traditional moral values. Indeed, this brazen attitude has had a name for itself since the 1960s: the sexual revolution. And "revolution" is exactly what it is. Our moral standards have not only been challenged, they have been replaced by a nonstandard. Indeed, the great rebellion seeks to legitimize and then mainstream every perversity known to man!
There is much to say on behalf of those trapped in perversity and who hate sin's affect on their lives. We must be compassionate toward them and not strident; many are sitting in our churches afraid to even speak of their need lest they be disowned. I am not speaking with reference to the victims of this advance, but of those who are engaged in a mutiny against the sway of God in our nation. They argue the only standard Americans have is the standard of individual freedom. In their view, freedom itself is the "god" ruling America, with self-indulgence sitting as prime minister.
Yet the God of Heaven desires the nations of the world. Though the apostasy will certainly intensify, we must remember it is only one of many prophecies unfolding in our day. The same divine Word that warned of the Great Rebellion also assures us that ultimately God's kingdom shall crush the demonic influences in our world (Dan. 2:44).
Yes, evil shall mature into full rebellion, but good is also ripening into full Christlikeness! (See Matt. 13:40-43; John 17:22-23.) True, the apostasy shall reveal the nature of Satan, but the true church shall manifest the nature of Christ! Our King is not only coming in the skies, 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). What seems to be Satan's hour, full of darkness and rebellion, is simply the opportunity for grace to abound to the glory of God in the church!
Seated with Christ!
The Second Psalm, perhaps more then any other Bible text, accurately portrays the spirit of our time. Indeed, it also proclaims our correct response to Satan's bold advance. Although it was quoted by the early church (Acts 4:25-26), God has set its full realization for the end of this age.
"Why are the nations in an uproar and the peoples devising a vain thing? The kings of the earth take their stand and the rulers take counsel together against the Lord and against His Anointed, saying, ‘Let us tear their fetters apart and cast away their cords from us!'" (Ps. 2:1-3).
Although "the rebellion" reveals itself worldwide in many ways, in America many of our leaders have certainly been counseling together "against the Lord" in their decisions. We see it in the efforts to mainstream perversion and give shelter to satanic rock music. Again, our anti-censorship laws, like armor plating, in many ways now defend sin against the Lord. The virulent cry of those in rebellion hammers relentlessly upon the fetters of moral restraint!
This railing against God has not gone unnoticed in Heaven. Is the Almighty confounded? Has fear concerning recent developments gripped the Lord's heart? No. The Psalm continues:
"He who sits in the heavens laughs, the Lord scoffs at them. Then He will speak to them in His anger and terrify them in His fury" (Ps. 2:4-5).
The Lord laughs at the foolishness of those in full revolt, as they imagine God's judgments cannot reach them. Why then, you ask, does the Lord delay His full judgment? In part, the Lord waits for us, His church. For while the world shall demand, and receive, the reign of hell, the goal of the praying church shall be for the reign of Heaven.
You see, all prophecies shall be fulfilled: not only those concerning evil but also those concerning righteousness. The Lord has purposed to have a "bride without spot or wrinkle" and a "kingdom" of wheat without tares. The transformation of the church will be fulfilled as surely as every other prophecy occurring before the Lord's return.
Thus, with great fear and holy trembling, we must review what God has promised concerning us. Let us remember, the Lord is not alone in the heavens. According to His Word, He has "seated us with Him in the heavenly places" (Eph. 2:6). It is time for our identity as Christians to shift. Our nationalities only define our ambassador status; our true citizenship is in Heaven (Phil. 3:20). And if God is laughing at the mocking of those in the rebellion, let us also, as His subjects, share His confidence!
Thus, He commands us to sit with Him in the completeness of His purpose. He requires us not only to live without fear but to stand in prayer for these very nations that defy Him!
Listen again to this Second Psalm, for in the very context of worldwide rebellion against the Lord, it records the most remarkable discourse: "Ask of Me," the Father says to the Son, "and I will surely give the nations as Your inheritance, and the very ends of the earth as Your possession" (Ps. 2:8).
When I first came to Christ in 1970, churches in America were deeply divided and rather cold in organized prayer. Today, leaders of denominations are working together, and it is estimated that more than a quarter of a million American churches are moving toward deeper unity and increased prayer for this nation. Jesus has asked the Father for the United States, and in response, the prayer movement has been born!
As Christ's church, we do not deserve a national revival, but Jesus does! As His representatives, in His name and virtue, we ask of the Father for America! We stand in prayer for the church to become one, filled with Christ followers from every ethnic background! Our prayer is not only an act of faith, it is an act of obedience: we are commanded to ask God for the nations!
Therefore, while the perverse strive toward complete rejection of God, even as their mocking words fill the air, the Almighty's unchangeable promise to His Son (and by extension, His church as Christ's body) is "Ask of Me, and I will surely give the nations!''
As violence, New Age religions and witchcraft flourish in our schools, ask God for this nation. While all restraint is removed from the entertainment industry, ask God for this nation! While perversity dresses in normalcy, ask God for America! While abortion remains protected by laws, ask God with confidence, with boldness, and with faith for our land! Where you see injustice in any form, ask God for His kingdom to manifest on earth!
"He who sits in the heavens laughs."
Put away fear and discouragement; repent of fretting. The more we accept our place in the divine plan, the more we shall laugh at the enemy's plans. The faith that relentlessly asks God, pleases God. Now, as the fullness of the times unfolds, as the world around us clothes itself in prophetic fulfillments, let us put away unbelief; let us repent for withdrawal. It is a time to boldly ask of God. As He has promised: He will give the nations as an inheritance to Christ!
Let's pray: Lord Jesus, how blessed we are that as evil matures into full rebellion, Your church matures into full Christlikeness. Teach me to pray for my inheritance, my nation. Use me to stand in the gap until my people become Your people.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

The preceding teaching was adapted from a chapter in Pastor Frangipane's book, The Days of His Presence. This book can be ordered from Arrow Publications at www.arrowbookstore.com.

Kamis, 29 Januari 2015

The Best Marital Advice I Ever Received

The Best Marital Advice I Ever Received

There is no shortage of leadership advice and suggestions in the world today.  Matter of fact, you get a lot on this website.  However, in 1990 I was given the best leadership advice I ever received.
My church was conducting a revival.  For those of you who are unfamiliar with this term, a revival was week-long time in the life of a church with its purpose being spiritual renewal for those in attendance.  Revivals also have a guest speaker who was each evening’s communicator.
The communicator for this particular week was Manley Beasley Jr.  One evening he was speaking on the subject of marriage when he gave the best leadership advice I ever heard.  When a husband and wife are in a disagreement or argument, the husband should always back down, apologize, and let the wife win – especially when he is RIGHT and has nothing to apologize for! 
This has already been modeled for us.  This is what Jesus did on the cross.  Jesus was absolutely right in everything He did and said.  He did nothing wrong.  Jesus was perfect and without error.  Yet He took all the blame, all the abuse, all the embarrassment, and paid the ultimate price of death on a cross so the relationship with His bride, the church, could be restored.
Nothing has helped my marriage more over the years than applying this principle.  Men, we have a gift for naturally messing up and saying the wrong things.  Just say the words, “I’m sorry.”  The funny thing is you do not shed any new light to your wife or those closest to you.  They already know you have messed up.
Men, when you are in a hole stop digging.  Some of you need reading this post right now need to apologize.  Even if you think you’re right (and you very well may be), remember what Jesus did on the cross.  Then the pain and embarrassment you will feel will not seem so bad.
If you practice this type of servant leadership, you may have a marriage that stands the test of time.

Minggu, 25 Januari 2015

Shout Grace!

Shout Grace!
(En Español)
We sing "Amazing Grace," but I don't think we realize how amazing grace actually is. Grace is God's power, motivated by His mercy, working to fulfill His compassion. What culminates in a "day of salvation" experience is actually months and even years of divine grace quietly, yet powerfully, working in our hearts.
Recall, Jesus said, "No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him" (John 6:44a). Do you remember that drawing power? Before we knew God, His power was drawing us to Christ. Yet let me take the miracle of grace further. For after Jesus spoke of the Father's drawing power, He then said, "and I will raise him up on the last day" (John 6:44b). This is the power and commitment of our Father's love: from our utterly helpless beginnings to our utterly helpless end, from being dead in sin to being dead in the grave, grace carries us to the arms of God.
Unlocking the Power of Grace
"But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God" (Eph. 2:4-8).
Paul says that grace saved us "through faith." Faith unlocks the power of grace and releases it to function in our world -- and faith itself is another gift of God. The difference between both gifts is, the grace-gift must be activated by the faith-gift. We must believe that God is "rich in mercy." We must accept as true that God loves us with "great love." We must not doubt He atoned for "our transgressions." We must be confident we are "alive together with Christ."
Grace works through faith. Believing the words of grace unlocks the power of grace; the power of grace to fully transform us comes through faith. As it is written, "For of His fullness we have all received, and grace upon grace" (John 1:16). The true stride of a Christian's walk is "grace upon grace." The same grace that turned our hearts toward Christ continues to work in us, transforming even our sufferings and trials into virtue and power. Are you in a battle? Are you struggling with finances, health, righteousness or relationships? Your grace-miracle has already been created. But you must believe that not only has God created a grace-provision for you, but Christ is motivated by love and actually desires to show you favor.
You may feel like a loser, a sinner, a person others routinely reject -- and perhaps you are! The purpose of redemption was so that, in the ages to come, God might display through us "the surpassing riches of His grace." You may be poor in this world, but you can become rich in the transforming grace of God. Believe Him. A day will come in the future world of God when He will point to you and I, once fallen and depraved, filthy and isolated creatures, and display us before Heaven and Earth as radiant, transformed beings -- a glory to His workmanship and love. And it will come to pass because we believed in the grace of God to change us.
Who cares what other people think of you? God says He loves you! Indeed, His grace is working to set you free. God knows you have been struggling with desperate issues; that's one reason why He has inspired this message. His grace is reaching to you to deliver you. The means to your victory is not more prayer or more Bible study, but faith-activated grace. Of course I strongly believe in both prayer and study, but the power to release each of us is a free gift of grace. Don't postpone your breakthrough. Believe that God's grace is here to release you!
What We Cannot Do On Our Own
We've been taught that grace is God's unmerited favor, which of course, it is. Yet unmerited favor is only one aspect of grace. In reality, grace is God's promise to do for us what we cannot do for ourselves.
The Bible says that "Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness" (Rom. 4:3). It doesn't mean that Abraham believed there was a God. No. Demons believe in one God and tremble! When Abraham "believed God," it meant that he believed what God had promised would come to pass. God promised to do for Abraham what Abraham and Sarah could not fulfill on their own. The Lord had promised Abraham he'd be a father of many nations. This is the glory of God's grace: it accomplishes what is otherwise impossible for us. You see, grace not only chooses us, saves us eternally and blankets our lives with mercy, but grace also works in us realities unattainable without divine help.
Consider Zechariah and the story about Zerubbabel, who was governor of Israel. The Jews had been held in Babylonian captivity for seventy years. Now they were being restored to Jerusalem. It was Zerubbabel's task to oversee the restoration of the city. In the struggle of the battle, weariness settled on the governor. So the Lord gave Zechariah a promise for Zerubbabel. He said, "‘Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,' says the Lord of hosts" (Zech. 4:6).
God was saying, in effect, "You have labored, your enemies are many and they are strong, but this work I've set before you isn't about your abilities; it's about what I can do working through you." Likewise, our salvation isn't about our works or power. It's about believing in the Holy Spirit's power and the grace of God.
Then the Lord gave Zerubbabel an important word. He said, "What are you, O great mountain? Before Zerubbabel you will become a plain; and he will bring forth the top stone with shouts of ‘Grace, grace to it!'" (Zech. 4:7).
Zerubbabel had mountains in his life that were too much for him. He had a task that was beyond his abilities. Yet God promised His Spirit would help, and when it was done, multitudes would be shouting "Grace, grace" at the finished work.
Listen, my friends, don't run from the mountains in your life; face them with faith -- and then shout "Grace, grace" to them. God's unmerited favor has been poured out upon you; now speak to that mountain of discouragement, sickness or financial need -- GRACE, GRACE!
Blessed God, You have drawn me to Yourself and have sheltered my life in the impenetrable stronghold of Your grace. Forgive me for drifting back into trusting in my works or abilities. Lord, I believe in Your grace! I shout "Grace, grace!" to the mountains that stand before me! In Jesus' name!
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Sabtu, 24 Januari 2015

Loving the Truth

Loving the Truth
(En Español)
"No lie was found in their mouth; they are blameless" (Rev. 14:5). To become blameless is to be free from falsehood; it is to be delivered from sin and the deception that protects sin.
Yet this process of deliverance is not attained if we are only casually committed to the Lord Jesus. We must be dedicated to the way of truth. Indeed, each of us has been conditioned by decades of unbelief, fear, and an unbridled thought-life, which has reinforced deception.
Christians who tend to automatically assume they are the "chosen of God," have reassured themselves that they could not possibly be deceived. The very thought, "I cannot be deceived" is itself a deception! Let us stay humble and not presume that the calling of God and the choosing of God are alike. "Many are called," Jesus taught, "but few are chosen" (Matt. 22:14). Many tests await the called before they are equipped by God and become His chosen; not the least of these tests is becoming free from deception.
You see, our natural minds were fashioned in a world where the concept of honesty must be enforced by laws. Within our world the bias of our communications media intentionally distorts the facts, advertisers promise the impossible, and people are held spellbound in the fantasy worlds of movies and books. The lie is everywhere and somewhat in everything, and we must accept the possibility that even in those things of which we are sure, there still might be elements of deception.
We do not realize it, but we need revelation to know the truth. People who may appear kind, nice or flattering have proven unkind, cruel and deceitful. And we must admit that we often attempt to appear better than we are as well.
This effort to appear one way while inwardly being another has created a world in which the truth is not apparent, where things that are plainly seen by one can be invisible to another. Deception and confusion so fill this world that in order for us to discern what is right, Scriptures command us to "seek" for, "love," and "buy truth" (Prov. 2:1-5; 2 Thess. 2:10; Prov. 23:23).
Jesus prayed, "[Father] sanctify them in the truth; Your word is truth" (John 17:17). He was saying, "Father, purify them of the lies and illusions of this age through Your penetrating Word." In Ephesians, Paul tells us that Christ sanctifies the church by cleansing her "by the washing of water with the word . . . that she would be holy and blameless" (Eph. 5:26-27).
This then, embracing the Spirit of Truth and allowing the Word of truth to break the patterns of falsehood and deception in our lives is the process through which we become Christlike -- and this process begins in earnest when we not only hear the truth, but when we love it.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
The preceding teaching was adapted from a chapter in Pastor Frangipane's book, Holiness Truth and the Presence of God. This book is currently on sale and can be ordered from Arrow Publications at www.arrowbookstore.com.

Jumat, 23 Januari 2015

Righteous Judgment

Righteous Judgment
(En Español)
In my various writings and public speaking, I have urged the born-again church to resist the trends of self-righteous anger and bitter cynicism that exist in our world. Instead, let us seek to possess the "higher . . . thoughts" of Christ (Isa. 55:9).
In truth, our calling is to serve God as ambassadors of Christ (Eph. 6:20). A true ambassador is not only pledged to represent his or her leader; the ambassador is one who knows what that ruler actually thinks and what he would say. He receives regular communication with that leader and is current on his leader's short-term and long-term goals. Should the ambassador be ignorant of the ruler's view, he is trained to not offer his own opinions; he is to wait until he hears from the one he represents. The world doesn't want to know what we think. There are some seven billion opinions in the world today; what the nations need is not to hear our opinion, but to hear the One we represent: our King, Jesus Christ.
I have also endeavored to put a roadblock in front of false discernment. We must avoid the self-righteous, religious approach of the Pharisees. When I urge people to not be judgmental, I am not saying don't discern. Spiritual discernment is an art form, while judging by outer appearance is an instinct of the flesh. I am saying we must learn how to wait, listen and, in meekness, discern the higher way of Christ.
Judgment That Is Righteous
Yet inevitably there are still questions. What about the Lord's admonition calling us to "not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment" (John 7:24)? What is righteous judgment?
In discussing this with others, I've noticed that the words righteous and judgment seem to be all that some see in the verse. However, the first part of the verse explains, at least partially, the second half: righteous judgment is that which is "not . . . according to appearance." Righteous judgment comes from another source, that which is higher than the instincts of the flesh.
You see, there is a difference between discerning a need that you are determined to pray for and, in contrast, simply finding fault which often degrades into gossip and slander. God does not call a person into a "ministry of judging others" just because one has always been fearless to "tell it as it is." Faultfinding is not a gift of the Spirit.
If your judgment is truly from God, it will not be an isolated gift. You will also have humility from God, love, and lowliness of mind as well.
Righteous judgment proves itself genuine by the virtues that support and present it.
All the virtues of the Spirit -- love, joy, peace, gentleness, etc. -- should be functionally evident in your character. If so, you will have been known to be gentle, loving, lowly of mind and wise. When you bring a righteous judgment, your character affirms that your judgment is not an emotional reaction, but you come as one sent from God - like Christ, you are typically full of grace and truth. You speak as an individual who is seriously concerned with bettering the life of others.
As John wrote,
"By this, love is perfected with us, so that we may have confidence in the day of judgment; because as He is, so also are we in this world" (1 John 4:17).
Yes, the day of judgment is coming. Our goal should be that "love is perfected with us." In the seasons of judgment, we are called to a life of perfect love, for "as He is, so also are we in this world."
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
The preceding excerpt is adapted from the book Spiritual Discernment and the Mind of Christ by Pastor Frangipane. This book and other resources available at www.arrowbookstore.com.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~


"I love you, O Lord, my strength. The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge. He is my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold."
- Psalm 18:1-2

Teaching Your Kids About Racial Harmony

Teaching Your Kids About Racial Harmony

little kids embracing each other
Sometimes the most profound truths are tucked away in Sunday school songs. Kids all over America sing about Jesus loving all the red, brown, yellow, black and white children of the world because they are “precious in His sight.” Though Jesus loves all His children equally, generously and without favoritism, life outside of Sunday school is complicated and confusing. Racial wounds and divisions run deeper than we can wrap our arms (or hearts and minds) around, and too easily the vision of that song is left behind in a dusty closet with the forgotten flannelgraphs of yesteryear.
Candid observations
My 4-year-old, who was born in Uganda, recently asked why our president lives in a “White” house. I assumed that her emerging awareness of skin color was behind this question.
I asked, “What color should his house be?” Without hesitation she declared, “Purple!” Of course purple, because that is her favorite color.
Young children are known for their candid (and innocent) observations about weight, height, hair color, age and skin color. But the way we as parents respond to their observations could introduce pride or shame to these physically identifying features. Though some comments are inappropriate in certain situations, shushing a child who makes a remark about skin color can communicate that there is something wrong or shameful about differences. Of course pointing and “describing” others aloud is being rude or at the very least, socially awkward. But as parents, we need to go beyond the “shush” to respect our child’s observation in a way that dignifies God’s beautiful creation. This might simply mean asking a question:
  • Can you think of someone you love who has [that observed characteristic]?
  • How do the people in our family look the same or different from each other?
  • Why might God have made us look different, not all the same?
Less Talking, More Playing
While discussions with our children are an important part of educating them about life, most of us learn far more from experience. Children learn volumes by watching parents who express negative stereotypes or by being treated poorly themselves because of their color or culture. As we consider guiding our children in paths of racial harmony, we also might need to examine our own hearts, asking God to reveal any beliefs that do not align with His.
Then, we can encourage our kids to develop friendships with children of other ethnic backgrounds so they can see past the surface. “That white boy” is now “my friend Chad” or “that black girl” is now “my friend LaTonya” or “that Latino kid” is now “my best buddy Carlos.” When we move these friends out of the category of “other,” changing the language from “they” to “we,” our children will be less likely to generalize and remain at arm’s length.
Friends Who Don’t Look Like Me?
There are geographic locations that for various reasons don’t have an abundance of racial variety. Even so, the goal of building awareness and acceptance of other ethnic backgrounds can be approached by sharing a rich collection of children’s picture books, young adult novels and films that feature admirable characters of different backgrounds. Families can also make use of local resources, such as galleries displaying diverse artwork, plays in local theaters about other cultures and town events featuring experiences not common to a family's daily life.
As parents, we can begin communicating to our children the important contributions of individuals who do not look like us. As we delight in characters of other races and ask our children to emulate leaders of different ethnic backgrounds, our children will learn a great deal about the value of all people. This exposure also increases our children’s familiarity with other racial experiences, opening the door for them to learn more about individuals through encountering people of diverse backgrounds.
The value of interracial friendship
Interracial harmony is more than a politically correct value of our current age. It was God’s plan from the beginning. He’s building His interracial kingdom here on earth, so one day Christians from every tribe, nation and language will stand before His throne (Revelation 7:9).
Seeking and celebrating friendships outside of our ethnic background gives our children (and us) a delicious taste of God’s kingdom on earth, as it is in heaven. The danger of limiting our exposure to different races and human classes of people is the ease with which stereotyping can occur. Stereotyping assumes what the Bible does not about our identity, that we are mass-produced caricatures rather than uniquely created images of God. The Bible places the root of all of our words, actions and attitudes in our hearts, not in our physical bodies. For this reason, no externally defined characteristics make us more deserving of grace or less in need of God’s mercy.
We know that man looks at the outer appearance but God looks at the heart. Helping our children learn to value the hearts of people as God does is a gift we can give them that will be appreciated not only here on earth, but most gloriously in heaven before God’s throne.
Copyright © 2015 by Jane Gilbert. Published by FocusOnTheFamily.com.