The Place of Freedom

Dear Ones:

Tyranny is a wretched thing, for not only does it deprive us of all rights and privileges, but exposes us to its consequences of suffering  which are immeasurable.  These tyrants of destruction are sin, self, the world (the system), and Satan.  David, when he was given the choice of “consequences” for a wrong course of action he took, chose not to “fall into the hands of men.”  Why?  Because of the tyranny of the fallen nature, and what that nature could inflict upon him from his enemy.  Paul declares that the “wages of sin is death.”  What a solemn realization of “sin’s” dominating effect.  “The world,” the system, with its pride, lust, and covetousness, is passing away (another way of saying that it will be destroyed), all being under the domination of Satan.  What a list of tyrants, whose end is destruction…and waste!!  BUT, there is good news, even wonderfully GREAT news.  The Cross of Christ is the declaration of our freedom from these tyrants…for on that cross, Christ conquered them ALL, breaking their hold, and control on us.  How then does this work?  What is the practical out working of such knowledge?

Jesus said in Matthew 16:25, “For whosoever will save his life shall lose it; and whosoever will lose his life for My sake shall find it.”  How can a person “lose” his life, and yet still exist?  It is when we realize, as Paul did, that the believer has “…been (and IS) crucified with Christ..,” that he can truly live.  All that pertains to a life outside of Christ, especially the pernicious preoccupation with, and subservience to “self”, is dealt a deadly blow at the cross.  The person who truly wants to know his freedom must come to grips that he DIED in Christ to that old self, in order to live unto God.  He has been made free from the domination of “his self-centered life.”  He has “lost” his life, that he might live another, according to the fact of a new creation, new beginning, new principles.  It was Jim Elliot who penned the following, inciteful words:  “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.”  The cross is the declaration of God, of Christ, that the tyrannical hold of self, the world, sin, and the devil, has been broken.

Jesus makes it very clear that if we are to follow Him, we must “deny ourselves, take up our cross (daily), and follow Him.”  We are called to believe God concerning Christ’s work on the cross, and to enter into it BY FAITH.  God cannot lie, and the work is more certain than the sunrise.  And so, we HAVE, by the Holy Spirit, the power and authority to “ignore, and forget” ourselves, our lives, “take up the cross,” embracing fully the reality of our death with Christ to live unto Him, and then to “follow Him,”  setting the Lord before us always, and running this race looking unto Jesus.

One last word…The One that enables us every day to take such a position of faith, where we have lost our lives to live unto Him, by Him, and for Him, is Christ by His Spirit.  He pours His power into “strengthless souls,” and enables them to lay hold upon the eternal truths that govern our lives on this earth.  We have been called to freedom from the tyrants of God’s enemies, a freedom that has been won for us, and that beckons us to enter into the full realization of it.  So, today, may we trust Him for grace to look nowhere but unto Christ for all, believing Him for the full out working of His purpose and will in our lives, rejoicing in the FACT that He is with us, to reveal Himself to the heart, mind, soul, and body.  And that through us, His life will be known.  Why would we ever want to hold on to our lives, and not live wholly, only unto Him?

Love, Dad

 

 

 

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Four Lepers And A Promise

Dear Ones:

In the book of 1st Kings: 7:1-8:6, we have an amazing story of how the Lord deals with His people, to show His mercy, and to win their hearts.  The Syrians had laid siege to Israel, and had cut off food the food supply. With famine facing the Israelites, God would intervene through Elisha to give the people an amazing word of hope, one so extraordinary that it was difficult to believe.  The Lord would promise abundance of food and provision in such large quantity, and this by “tomorrow,” that only those who truly believed in the Lord, and in Elisha as his faithful messenger, would believe it.  The Lord would intervene in a most extraordinary way, the city would be saved, and most certainly, a good many people would be drawn back to God.

Four people who played an essential role in the “blessing and provision” of God in this story would be lepers.  Condemned by their country men, and pursued by a deadly debilitating disease,  they cast caution to the wind, and decided that it was best to go to the host of the Syrians (the enemy) for help rather than waste away outside the city gate.  It will be by twilight that they will rise up and go to the camp of the enemy, only to find it deserted, and yet, filled with all the belongings and provisions of the Syrian army.  They would be the unlikely first witnesses to the grace and goodness of God towards Israel.  They would go on to share the good news of God’s promised provision to the people.  God still uses the least of us to declare His glory!!!  He has not changed.

When we were in France, and working in a conference center, I remember there being an old water pot that rested on the stove of the kitchen.  It was quite old, battered, certainly not something that would draw our attention because of its appearance.  But that water pot probably had served more people than any one thing, any one person, at that conference center, and that for a good many years.  It was simply a vessel that could be filled up, and poured out, a most unlikely vessel to give water to so many….but it did.  And so will we be, if we are in the hands of the Master, resting in Him, receiving from Him, all that He desires to give for the sake of others.  How MUCH MORE could He accomplish in and through us if we were just available, receptive, rejoicingly expectant of His blessing, as we love and serve others.  He remains that one who is able to do “the exceeding abundantly above all that we can ask or think.” Can we trust the God of Elisha, the God of Israel and four lepers, to do the same today?

Love, Dad

The Indispensable Revelation

Dear Ones:

There is an inseparable bond and unity between the objective word, the Bible, and the living Word, the Lord Jesus Christ.  In essence, John brings them together in his gospel by declaring:  “And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us…(and we beheld His glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.” (John 1:14)  Why is it so important that we consider Christ as the Living Word, and then, to turn to the Bible as the word of God, of Christ?  Certainly part of the answer has to do with the essence of Christ as the creator, and the expression of His power and authority in speaking.  “And God said, ‘Let there be light.'” (Gen. 1:3)  The objective word of God, the inspired Scriptures, are the expression of the One who is full of grace and TRUTH.  It is this distinguishing attribute that makes the Bible stand forth as the objective basis of true faith.  It is for this reason that God has miraculously designed it, preserved it, and confirmed it , so that all can truly, honestly see and grasp the Divine, that which is of heaven.

Why did God say to Joshua, “…This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein?” (Joshua 1:8)  It is because God’s word is the indispensable truth revelation of God , and takes precedence over all the thoughts, philosophies, and imaginations, of man.  “For My thoughts are NOT your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” saith the Lord.” (Is. 55:8)  Herein is the great divide, the separation between that which is of God and that which is of man.  The difference….one is from heaven. The other is from the heart and mind of sinful, fallen man.  There are promises that come with the Word of God, promises of success, profitableness…the certainty that God is IN His word, and that He will use that word to accomplish His purposes.  “So shall My word be that goeth forth out of My mouth; it shall not return unto me void, but is SHALL ACCOMPLISH that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.” (Is. 55:11)  God works ACCORDING to His word, and through His declared word.

How many people have picked up a Gideon Bible which was placed in a hotel, read a portion of it, and come to a saving knowledge of Christ?  How is this so?  Paul writes, “Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” (Rom. 10:17)  It is as God takes the inspired objective words of the Bible, and speaks to our hearts, that faith is born.  It is true that God speaks to us through His creation.  But the shortest path to know Him is through the written word, believing Him to speak.  “Speak and make me listen, Thou Guardian of my soul.”

One of the greatest blessings of our lives is the wonderful knowledge and conviction, that God is speaking to us through His word…and He will always ACT according to what He declares.  The one who “delights in the law of the Lord, …and meditates in it day and night,” shall be like a tree…bearing fruit, and “whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.” (Ps. 1:3)  Why?  Because God speaks through His word to the heart, and this, to create faith.  O Father, give us a hunger and thirst after Thee, and the purpose to seek Thee, and find Thee in Thy word.

Love, Dad

 

The Charge

Dear Ones:

In our days of democracy and freedom, we are apt almost never to use the term “charge” in our conversation, except as it might apply to a purchase or a sentencing for a crime.  This does not negate the fact that a “charge” from a Biblical standpoint is a most important consideration, for it carries with it not only the meaning of a challenge, but of a grasping of the responsibility before God, and men.

One of the great themes of the Bible, since the fall of man, has been that of “all flesh is as grass…but the Word of God abides forever.”  In the context of this reality, the Apostle Paul writes to Timothy, his son in the faith, and in essence prepares him for the passing of the torch, and the responsibility which that entails.  It is quite a study in his letters to Timothy, to discover the specific issues that he addresses, to enable Timothy to carry on in the work of the Gospel and Kingdom, after he has gone to be with the Lord.  Simply put, he “charges” Timothy, both with a vision of what he must be, and the basis upon which he is to be it, but also, with regard to what he specifically must do.  For example, he writes Timothy:  “This charge I commit unto thee, son Timothy, according to the prophecies which went before on thee, that thou by them mightest war a good warfare; holding faith and a good conscience…” (1 Tim. 1:18-19)  Paul brings to bear upon the heart and mind of Timothy not only a vision of what he must be, and what God will be to him, but what he must do, accept, embrace.  The vision, the promises, carry with them that same responsibility that Elisha knew when he reached down to pick up the mantle of Elijah, who had just been taken into heaven.  That mantle was the acceptance of the charge, all that it meant, and all that he would have to be according to the promises of God.

In 1 Timothy 5:21, Paul writes to Timothy:  “I charge thee before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, and the elect angels, that thou observe these things without preferring one before another, doing nothing by partiality.”  Again, Timothy is faced with a Divine commitment of responsibility, which will require the reaching down and picking up of the mantle.  It is a singular and definite, quiet commitment of oneself wholly to God for the realization of his calling.  But with it comes the promise of God, that “faithful is He who calls you who also will do it.”  (1 Thess. 5:24)

When Joshua the high priest was restored to his fellowship with God by the cleansing of his sin, the Lord gave him a “charge.”  “If thou will walk in My ways, and if thou wilt keep my CHARGE, then thou shalt also judge my house, and shalt also keep my courts.” (Zech. 3:7)  Do we realize that we all have a charge, a commission, and that God’s gifts and calling by the Holy Spirit are sufficient for the answering that challenge.  The “charge” of God to the heart of the individual is the magnificent call to profound fellowship with Him.  He is our great reward.   And He reveals Himself to the heart and mind of those who will respond to His call and charge.  There is no higher experience in life, than to know Christ, and this, by responding to His charge.

Love, Dad

Becoming What We Are

Dear Ones:

Throughout history, and even up to our present time, folks are looking for their identity.  The thought is that in finding out the identity, this will ensue meaning and purpose.  One will be more secure “in one’s skin,” because the identity in one sense is the anchor of the soul.  But to find that identity, it is not enough to go back a generation or two in our family tree.  If the answer to our existence, and our identity in that existence is to be found, it is imperative that we go back to the beginning, the very beginning.  For there we shall find out what the Creator gave  us as an identity and purpose.

In Genesis 1:27, we read:  “So God created man in His image, in the image of God created He him, male and female created them.”  Immediately we discover that our “identity” began by the design, purpose, and intervention of God.  Our identity is Divine in its origin and its effect.  Secondly, we discover that the design is specific, and caters to the very nature, disposition, and will of God.  “God created man IN HIS IMAGE…” is one of the most extraordinary, powerful statements in Scripture, for in that phrase is revealed what we were created TO BE.  Paul brings this before us so very clearly in his letter to the Romans:  “For whom He did foreknow, He also did predestinate TO BE CONFORMED TO THE IMAGE OF HIS SON…” (8:29)  When Adam and Eve sinned, man, in great measure, ceased to BE in the image of God…for though the “likeness” remained to some extent, yet it was a Life-less shell, hence the words to Nicodemus:  “…Ye must be BORN again,”  born of the Spirit, to live BY the Spirit.  For it will only be as man, born again and living by the faith of Christ, that the Spirit will reveal increasingly the indwelling Life and nature of God in the heart.  At that point one will again begin to rise to the measure of the calling, and identity, for which we were created.

So, today…let us grasp what we ARE, created in the image of God, to BE like Him.  Is this not what Jesus meant when He said, “Be perfect as your Heavenly Father is perfect?”  That which immediately faces us, being on this side Adam’s sin and curse, is that we have but one MEANS, one WAY to become what we are, and that is by the cleansing by the blood of Christ (today, and from all sin…), and the empowering of the Holy Spirit, as we trust wholly in Him.  What a magnificent calling, vision, identity, and purpose….God intervened sovereignly in the beginning to create man once.  Now He intervenes in our lives, not only to make of us a “new creation” in Christ, but to form Christ in us by the Spirit as we walk by Him.  “Changed from glory to glory….”  God is determined to do this in us, to enable us to become what we truly ARE.   So, let us trust Him for it, believing Him for the full outworking of His purposes and will in our lives.

Love, Dad

The Sword In The Soul

Dear Ones:

The story of the meeting between Simeon, “…a just and devout” man living in Jerusalem, and Mary the mother of Jesus, is a panoramic picture of the grace and mercy of God.  It was when the parents of Jesus brought the baby Jesus into the temple, to present him to the Lord, that the Spirit of God revealed to Simeon that this baby would become, “…Thy salvation, ….a light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of Thy people Israel.” (Luke 2:31, 32)  Now, before we go further, let’s remember briefly the events that have led up to this moment.

Elizabeth, the cousin of Mary, has miraculously given birth to a child, who is the precursor of Christ, the very herald of His coming.  Mary has given birth to the Lord Jesus, a perfect child in every way, even, “…a Savior which is Christ the Lord.” (Luke 2:11)  Now, this child Jesus could not have been to Mary a greater treasure, responsibility, or privilege to have.  The weight of His value cannot be measured.  And the affection of a mother’s heart cannot be greater, than for that child.  So Joseph and Mary bring the baby to Jerusalem to be circumcised the 8th day. They subsequently enter the temple, and there they are found by Simeon, who, being led by the Spirit of God, speaks to them concerning the child.  What he has to say is very significant, as it pertains to rise and fall of peoples and nations.   But then, he addresses the heart of Mary by saying, “…Yea, a sword shall pierce through thy own soul also, that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.” (Luke 2:35)  Why such a declaration?  The answer is very simple.  To such a one who loves most, the pain of loss is greatest.  I dare to say that no mother ever loved a child as did Mary.  And because of this, no mother ever knew such loss as she did.

This is not the end of the story…for she will learn, as will the disciples, that Jesus will rise from the dead.  He WILL come again.  “Sorrow will endure for a night, but joy will come in the morning.”  And so it is…those who love most often suffer loss to the greatest extent.  But, hallelujah for the hope that we have in Christ.  The sword may enter into the soul at present, but indeed, “…joy cometh in the morning.”  Let us never forget it.

Love, Dad

 

Never Forget

Dear Ones:

It is easy to forget that which is essential.  When the Lord Jesus gave to John the  Book of the Revelation, there was one letter that was addressed to the church at Ephesus, a church of impeccable doctrine and zeal.  However, one thing was missing.  The church had “…left its first love.” (Rev. 2:4)  How could such a body of believers, who were so doctrinally sound, and filled with zeal, miss the most important thing?  And, we must ask, “How do you know that it was the most important thing?”  Simply, by the response of the Lord to the situation:  “Repent, and do THE FIRST WORKS; or else I will come unto thee quickly and will remove thy candlestick out of its place, except thou repent.” (v.5)  What is this “first love?”  It is simply the “first” affection, and consequent devotion.  It is that primary, and personal love and devotion to Him who loved us…first.

We all know the story of Daniel and the lion’s den.  What we often fail to grasp is the resolute determination of Daniel to not cease praying three times a day, giving thanks to God and worshiping Him.  Here is a man at the pinnacle of his career, mature, mellow, and master of his responsibilities before King Darius.  And yet, he had grasped well before this moment that the “first thing,”  the most important thing, was the cultivation of his personal, profound love and devotion to Christ, and this by prayer, and the study of His word.  He would not be moved from this, even for the sparing of his own life, or his future.  Why?  He had learned that communion with God was the greatest privilege and responsibility that we have…and it is the highest blessing.

Even Jesus, in the midst of his very demanding schedule during His ministry, would seek the solitude of the mountains, often rising up a great while before day.  Why?  To have fellowship with His Father, to ever cultivate that reality of his presence, power, and love.

Do we trust the Spirit of God to awaken us morning by morning, first of all, to seek the aloneness of fellowship with Christ in prayer and in His word?  God speaks through His word to the heart, and to the mind.  It is in that place of certain good, where we are alone with God, that He reveals Himself in a very real way to the heart.  What we are in that place, tending to the first thing of “first love,” will determine what we will be out in the world.  It was said of Stephen, the first martyr, “…all that sat in the council looking steadfastly on him saw his face as it had been the face of an angel.” (Acts. 6:15)  Where do you think such a “face” came from?  Simply, from beholding the Lord Jesus in His word, and in prayer.  Stephen was simply reflecting the great reality of the invisible Christ, with whom he had fellowship.

May we never forget to give our utmost attention to developing our fellowship, and love for Christ by the quiet meditation of His word, and by prayer and worship.  If we tend to the first, most important thing, then all else will be clear.

Love, Dad

Difficult Times

Dear Ones:

In the shifting sands of culture and history, finding the “Solid Rock” on which to stand, and rest all of our weight, is a very difficult thing to do.  In one of Paul’s last letters, the second letter to his “son” Timothy,  he writes that in the last days, “…perilous (difficult, hard…) times will come.”  (2 Tim. 3:1) Why?  Because the assault on everything that we know about God, Christ, and the truth, will intensify.  In the 12th chapter of the book of Daniel, the Lord revealed to Daniel the following:  “But thou, O Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book, even to the time of the end: may shall run to and fro, and KNOWLEDGE SHALL BE INCREASED.” (v.4)  Never have the “distractions” of knowledge been so intensely imposed upon mankind.  Though true knowledge is a welcome thing, the flood of the truth mixed with that which is false is so condensed, that at times it is very difficult to “see the forest for the trees.”  The truth, and the knowledge of the living Truth, is hidden under the leaves of our imaginations and suppositions, based on when we see and hear, instead of upon the Word of God.  To neglect the Word of God, at the expense of an overabundance of knowledge is a very “difficult,” perilous danger to be in, for in doing so, we deprive ourselves of the basis of faith.  The objective Word of God is the basis for faith in the subjective (but Truthful) Living Word…the Lord Jesus Christ.

In Matthew 24, in speaking of the days leading up to the return of the Lord Jesus, the Lord says concerning “…wars and rumors of wars, ” “…see that ye be not troubled.” (v.6)  Why does He say this?  For two reasons, the first of which is that we cannot change history…wars will come.  The second reason is that He would not have us distracted and preoccupied with that which would absorb our attention, which would have the result of turning us aside from that which is essential, our purpose of loving Him, and walking with Him, so that He can operate in and through us His purposes and will.

The Lord Jesus, in speaking of the parable of the sower, specifically referencing the “…seed received among the thorns,” (Matt. 13:22), said that this “one,” or “person,” is he that heareth the word; and the care of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful.”  Here we have again emphasized that there are those things which can render us unfruitful, the “cares of the world (turned in on ourselves, overwhelmed with the need without and within),” and the “deceitfulness of riches (…because we are deceived into trusting in them and not God..).  Whether in times of war, peace, prosperity, great knowledge, the great essential is this…KNOW THE OBJECTIVE WORD OF GOD…HOLD TO IT FIRMLY; DO NOT LET IT GO.  It is that means by which we can put our foot down upon the Rock of All Ages, rest all the weight of our existence upon Him, and find the eternal security, and peace of God that passes understanding.

Love, Dad

The Way We Should Go

Dear Ones:

How do we know the “way in which we should go, ” from God’s perspective?  How can we be sure?  What is the seal, and confirmation upon that choice of direction?  How do we know that God is in it?  If there is one thing that we all wrestle with, it is this issue of “direction,” and “assurance.  To start to answer this question, let us be assured of this truth:  God is far more concerned, and committed, to us understanding the way than we could ever be.  This is simply because He is perfect love, and can desire nothing less.

The whole subject begins with the consideration of a “rudder.”  The rudder is that mechanism on a boat which determines the course of the vessel.  In essence, the rudder guides.  The “rudder” in our case is the Lord Himself.  The total reliance upon our Everlasting and Ever-loving “Rudder” must be paramount.  After all, He is sovereign, and all-mighty, for whom NOTHING is impossible or too hard.  The question needs to be asked:  Can we be sure that He will guide us?  The problem with guidance is never from God, but from us.  He has declared through the Apostle Paul, “Faithful is He who calls you who also WILL do it.” (1 Thess. 5:24)  We are the ones who are our greatest problem…for we often get in the way of the Lord, and are an obstacle to Him to lead us.  With our preferences and prejudices, we are so easily led astray to our “own way,” leaning unto our own understanding.  Jesus once said, “If any man is WILLING, he shall know…” (Jn. 7:17)  If God is to BE our rudder, not in just name only, then our wills need to be submitted to Him.  What was it that David Livingstone wrote?  “Lord, send me anywhere, only go with me…”  I once knew a man who, during World War II, was in the hold of a ship which was being fired upon by the enemy.  He told the Lord that if He got him out alive, and gave him four sons, he would serve Him all of his life.  Well, the Lord saved him out of that dangerous situation, and gave him four sons…no daughters.  The man served the Lord all of his life.  Here is commitment, and a willingness to follow…and the proof of God’s faithfulness.

In Psalm 32:8, the Lord promises to instruct us and to teach us in the way we should go.  When we seek Him, His kingdom and the doing of His will, we can be assured that as we trust Him to speak to us through His word, and direct the circumstances of our lives, He will do exactly what He says.  In the process of being “guided” David writes:  “I (God) will guide thee with Mine eye.”  This is wonderful.  His guidance is very personal and real.  As His eye is upon the sparrow, so He is looking upon us.

Lastly, how do we know that He is guiding?  The Spirit of God has been given to us, not only to teach and to guide, but to witness to our spirits, to convince us, to persuade us of the will of God.  The great “seal” of His direction is the peace of God, the very peace of Christ.  If we are willing to see, to know His will, and to follow Him whenever, however, to trust Him for what ever, He is willing to convince us of His open door and direction, confirming all with the gift of His peace….a peace not of this world, but of Him.

Guidance is personal, between God and the individual heart.  And yet, because of the Spirit of God that dwells in believers, He confirms it to other believer’s hearts also who are walking with the Lord.  Herein is another confirmation. “For ye shall not go out with haste, nor go by flight: for the Lord will go before you.” (Is. 52:13)

Love, Dad

Divine Forgiveness

Dear Ones:

What makes forgiving someone so difficult, especially if the offense is so very egregeous?  And what is the difference between “societal” forgiveness, and that which is of God?  There are earth-shattering repercussions in the life, and in society, when one truly understands the answers to these questions.  It becomes a question of slavery to sin and men, and the liberty of the soul by the grace of God.

Let us begin with the issue of sin, for this is the cause of the need of forgiveness.  Sin is an act, and an attitude of rejection, rebellion, refusing of that which is of God, of heaven.  Every time one sins in word or in deed, that person becomes a debtor to God for the offense.  And the debt must be paid to the Creator.  Forgiveness means not only the forgetting of that debt owed, but that the payment for the debt has been applied.  This is the basis of the forgiving of the debt.  The repercussions of the payment of the debt, the forgetting of the debt, the “wiping clean of the slate,” is that the soul knows freedom from the weight of guilt, a bad conscience towards God, and the consequent capacity to forgive oneself, accepting and embracing the reality of God’s authoritative decree, “….He is faithful and just to forgive us, and to cleanse us from ALL (…and thus, thoroughly) sin.”  Only God can cleanse the heart, and restore to a right attitude of mind and heart towards God and men.

Societal forgiveness stands in stark contrast to that which is Divine.  It is never complete, never fully resolved, never cleansing the heart and mind.  It is only a band-aid patch on a problem, and need, that can only be resolved by an act of God, by His Spirit.  How can a debt owed for doing wrong to another individual ever be paid, from a human standpoint, and according to the capacities of men?  Not possible.  When Peter cut off the ear of Malchus, in the garden, when the soldiers came to arrest Jesus, Jesus picked up the ear and put it back on the head of Malchus, and healed him.  Only God can do this.  And so it is with true forgiveness.  Society can never accomplish the work of God.

Love, Dad