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I hear the voice of the Spirit calling us home, to Jesus. The sovereign Lord desires that we would rest …

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What Are You Becoming?

By Francis Frangipane
(En Español)

It is insightful to me that when Luke listed the twelve apostles, when he came to Judas Iscariot, he identified him as the apostle “who became a traitor” (Luke 6:16).

Let me start with a question, a sincere question that may be the most important question you can ask yourself: What are you becoming? Judas Iscariot was an apostle “who became a traitor.” This was a man who had been used mightily by the Lord to “heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers [and] cast out demons” (Matt. 10:8). Judas knew the excitement, joy and power of personally walking with Jesus. He saw miracles, signs and wonders.

Yet Judas had a serious character flaw, a moral weakness. The Scripture reveals that, despite the fact that God was using him, Judas “was a thief” (John 12:6). He used to pilfer the money box. It is significant, my friend, that Jesus allowed a thief to carry the money box. Sometimes we think the Lord is going to challenge us on every issue, but there are times when His silence about our repeated sin is His rebuke. Judas knew what he was doing was wrong, but since Jesus didn’t directly confront him, Judas minimized the severity of his iniquity. Perhaps he rationalized that if pilfering was truly bad, God would not still be using him to work miracles.

How a little leaven leavens the whole lump! A relatively minor sin that we do not attend to can lead to a major sin that destroys our lives. The Bible says that Judas “became a traitor.” He started out in ministry loyal to Jesus, but then he began lying about the finances until his deceitful exterior completely hid a very corrupt and darkened heart. Judas was a thief who became a traitor, eventually taking his own life. His compromise with sin went from bad to worse and it destroyed him.

Today Christians look at the world and see injustice, immorality and corruption. The anger we feel because of these things is not only understandable, it’s justified. Why shouldn’t we be angry at what we see? Indeed, in many instances we are actually watching hell manifest itself through people and situations in the world!

Knowing we would grieve over the evil in the world, God’s Word tells us, “Be angry, and yet do not sin” (Eph. 4:26). We must discern at what point anger degrades into sin. Paul continues, “Do not let the sun go down on your anger.” We can be legitimately angry about things that are truly wrong, but our indignation must find a more noble, redemptive attitude of expression.

I do not mean we shrink into passive indifference; I mean we rise into aggressive intercession. We feel the same passions against unrighteousness, but we learn how to pray the mercy prayer: “Father, forgive them.”

I’m thinking of Stephen who while being stoned to death saw Jesus and prayed, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them” (Acts 7:60). Every time we face an injustice may God give us a fresh revelation of Jesus, that we would not pray for judgment, but for mercy. Out of Stephen’s prayer for mercy, grace was released. It tracked down Saul until Saul too saw Jesus.

You see, when we don’t deal with the anger we feel, if we don’t respond to injustice with mercy and intercession, we soon find ourselves becoming something we never intended. Let me say it again: Judas became a traitor.

Judas mutated from an apostle doing miracles into living a double life. Our anger, left unattended, will do the same to us. It causes us to degenerate into something we never planned on becoming: “Christian Pharisees.” Paul warned about letting the sun set on our anger as though we had just 24 hours at most to deal with issues. I must admit, there are issues in life that have taken me months of wrestling with them before my indignation was lifted and transformed into intercession. So stay with the struggle until you heart is not embittered, but empowered.

Today America is overstocked with angry Christians. What can we do? We must turn indignation into intercession. We must make our heartache work for us, aligning ourselves with Christ in the prayer of redemption – actually praying for those who persecute us.

Thank God, Jesus didn’t look down from the cross at the Pharisees and say, “You need to be taught a lesson. It’s the principle.” No. He prayed, “Father, forgive them.” And then, amazingly, He covered their sin, saying, “They know not what they do.”

The sense of Christian indignation infiltrating the church has not come from Heaven. Don’t dismiss your anger as a little sin; it disqualified Moses from entering the Promised Land! You see, there are things at stake that are bigger than our indignation about right and wrong. The world is watching how we relate to those who are morally wrong, even when we are biblically right. And they are watching to see if we sound like the Savior or like the Pharisees.

Yet there is one thing more crucial than how the world sees us, and that is how Christ sees us. He is watching what is happening to our hearts. He asks each of us a simple question: Do you know what you’re becoming?

Adapted from Francis Frangipane’s book, The Power of One Christlike Life, available atwww.arrowbookstore.com

We Need Thee Lord 

Each and every hour of every day we need you Lord. Lord let us seek to have pure hearts. Lord we repent of our sins.  Father we pray for wisdom. We ask you for guidance and direction. Draw us to you Jesus. To your word. Restore us Lord. Give us ears that will hear your call on our hearts Holy Spirit. Have mercy on us  Lord. Call your people to prayer and show us what to pray for. That we would be effective in reaching people for you and responding to those around us that need you.  Jesus we have need of you all the time. Give us your heart. 

Lord we mourn for those that were lost and hurt. Those left behind in pain. Father we are sad and are confused as to how so  much turmoil can surround us. We cannot fix it unless we turn to you. 

Lord restore the soul’s  of those who lost loved ones. Their pain is deep. Keep your hand upon them Lord Bring  them comforters to help them Lord.

Blessings Tom 

 

Unoffendable, Part 2: False Expectations

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Unoffendable, Part 2: False Expectations

By Francis Frangipane
(En Español)

“Then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another. . . . And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold” (Matt. 24:10-12 KJV).

The Sequence That Leads to Apostasy

In our last teaching we looked at offenses and examined the lethal effect an offended spirit could have upon our lives. We discussed how the only way to not be permanently offended was to attain the unoffendable heart of Jesus Christ.

Attaining Christ’s heart is not a minor issue. Remember, Jesus warned that in the last days “many” would be offended.

A wounded spirit is not the same thing as an offended spirit. We may have experienced a cutting remark or slander from someone that wounds us. As the wave of this event rolls over our thoughts, it is right at this moment that we must determine the outcome, that with God’s help we will make this work for us. It is at this juncture that we must process our wounds in a Christlike manner. If we fail to respond rightly we will begin to fake our Christianity.

Indeed, an offended spirit, left unattended and brooding in our minds, will soon manifest as betrayal, hatred and cold love. Jesus said offenses would be the ultimate cause that leads many to fall away from the faith. Listen well: in the above verse, Jesus linked the real cause of apostasy not only to wrong doctrines, but wrong reactions.

Isn’t it important that our doctrines are correct? Of course, but we can have right information and still have a wrong response. Doctrinal information can always be upgraded and refined, but Proverbs warns that someone “offended is harder to be won than a strong city,” and “contentions” between people “are like the bars of a castle” (Prov. 18:19). Yes, beware of false leaders, but more deceitful than false prophets or teachers are our own hearts when they are offended (Jer. 17:9).

Are you living with an offended heart? If so, you are gradually slipping away from true Christianity, which is known for its agape love.

Thus, dealing with an offended heart is vital in maintaining ongoing spiritual maturity. For this reason, we need to look again at the things that offend us.

Expectations
The unrealistic expectations we sometimes put on others will, at some point, cause people to fall short and offend us. For instance, I know married couples that expect their spouse will meet their every need — and yes, they will meet some of our needs. However, at the deepest level, our souls were created to find security in God, not man. When the Almighty truly becomes our source of peace and provision, our well-being is defined by our awareness of God’s love. As we put our confidence in God, we can live more comfortably with the people around us.

Still, the very strength of our expectations can choke out the sweetness of a personal relationship. Suppose that, instead of burdening people with our expectations, we simply learned to appreciate them for themselves — no strings attached. What if we approach family and friends with gratitude for who they are rather than disappointment for what they failed to do?

Suppose that a husband, instead of expecting a full-course dinner from his wife each night, learned to appreciate whatever she was able to offer him? Then instead of his failed expectation degrading into an offense, there would be a living, sincere appreciation for the food his wife prepared. I know we have arrangements by common consent, but in reality, a wife is under no obligation to cook special meals or do housekeeping. You did not marry her to be your housekeeper, but to become one with her.

Or imagine a husband who works a long, tiring job. However, his wife expects that he will work another two hours at home or go shopping with her or listen attentively about her problems. What if instead she welcomed him at the door and sincerely thanked him for daily giving himself to support their family? What if she met him not with demands but with appreciation? Perhaps she might even massage his shoulders and, because of love, have his favorite meal prepared.

You see, expectations can seem like legitimate aspects of a relationship, but false or unrealistic expectations can also cause us to be disappointed and offended when people fall short. I have known situations in the past where my expectations actually blinded me to the efforts being made by a loved one. They were trying to improve in an area I was unaware of because my focus was preset upon a different expectation. I should have been grateful and encouraging, but instead all I thought about was having my expectation fulfilled.

Of course, today I discuss my expectations with those close to me. But the greatest expectation I have is that my heavenly Father will help me to respond like Christ to all situations. I put a premium upon enjoying the uniqueness of others, sincerely thanking God for their contribution to my life.

Unoffendable

Unoffendable

By Francis Frangipane
(En Español)

“I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh” (Ezek. 36:26).

God has a new heart for us that cannot be offended, an “unoffendable” heart. Beloved, possessing an unoffendable heart is not an option or a luxury; it’s not a little thing. An offended heart is endanger of becoming a “heart of stone.”

Consider: Jesus warns that, as we near the end of the age, a majority of people will be offended to such a degree that they fall away from the faith. Listen carefully to His warning:

“Then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another . . . and because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold” (Matt. 24:10-12 KJV).

“Many” will “be offended.” The result? The love of “many” will grow cold. My prayer is that we will hear His words with holy fear.

When we allow an offense to remain in our hearts, it causes serious spiritual consequences. In the above verse Jesus named three dangerous results: betrayal, hatred and cold love. When we are offended with someone, even someone we care for, we must go to them. If we do not talk to them, we will begin to talk about them. We betray that relationship, whispering maliciously behind their back to others, exposing their weaknesses and sins. We may mask our betrayal by saying we are just looking for advice or counsel, but when we look back, we see we have spoken negatively to far too many people. Our real goal was not to get spiritual help for ourselves but to seek revenge toward the one who offended us. How is such action not a manifestation of hatred? For an offended soul, cold love, betrayal and hatred are a walk into darkness.

People don’t stumble over boulders; they stumble over stones, relatively small things. It may be that the personality of someone in authority bothers us, and soon we are offended. Or, a friend or family member fails to meet our expectations, and we take an offense into our soul. Beloved, if we will “endure to the end,” we will have to confront the things that bother us.

When Jesus warns that we need endurance, He is saying that it is easier to begin the race than finish it. Between now and the day you die, there will be major times of offense that you will need to overcome. You might be in such a time right now. Do not minimize the danger of harboring an offense!

No one plans on falling away; no one ever says, “Today, I think I’ll try to develop a hardened heart of stone.” Such things enter our souls through stealth. It is only naiveté that assumes it couldn’t happen to us. I know many people who consistently become offended about one thing or another. Instead of dealing with the offenses, praying about them and turning the issue over to God, they carry the offense in their soul until its weight disables their walk with God. You may be doing fine today, but I guarantee you, tomorrow something will happen that will inevitably disappoint or wound you; some injustice will strike you, demanding you retaliate in the flesh. Will you find more love, and hence, continue your growth toward Christlikeness? Or will you allow that offense to consume your spiritual life?

The Root Of Offense
An offense can strike at our virtues or sins, our values or our pride. It can penetrate and wound any dimension of the soul, both good and evil. I once brought a series of messages about gossip. Most people saw their sin and repented, but a core group of gossips were greatly offended and ultimately left the church. When the Holy Spirit exposes sin in someone’s soul, if we refuse the opportunity to repent, we often become offended at the person who brought the teaching. Instead of humbling our hearts, we are outraged at the person who exposed us. Truthfully, most of the time, I have no idea who specifically needs to hear what I’m teaching, but God knows.

Paul told Timothy to “reprove, rebuke, exhort” (see 2 Tim. 4:2). He didn’t say, “exhort, exhort, exhort,” but exhortation is what we receive in most churches. Certainly, we need to be encouraged, but there are also times, beloved, when we need to be reproved and rebuked. Today, there are preachers who are afraid to preach truth for fear people will react and leave the church. The end result is a church of easily offended people who cannot grow beyond their inability to accept correction.

People don’t change by exhortation alone. There are areas in all of us that need to be confronted and disciplined. The pastor who refuses to discipline and correct those in sin is in disobedience to God. He is unable to lead people into any truly transforming changes in their lives; they will not “endure to the end” if they cannot be corrected (see Matt. 24).

We need to become a people who say, “Lord, show me what needs to change in me.” I’m talking about growing up. A wise man will receive a rebuke and he will prosper. But a fool rejects his father’s discipline (see Prov. 15:5).

Personal Offense
It is often our pride that suffers offense most easily. Pride leads us to expect more than we deserve. Pride is a form of self-worship. God must destroy our pride, and to do so, He will allow offenses to expose what we lack in humility. It is not wrong to expect encouragement for our good works, but we cannot be offended when it doesn’t happen in the timing we are expecting.

Years ago when I was a young pastor, I attended a conference where the main leader decided to personally greet each minister and spouse. He greeted the couple on our right and then turned to his staff to ask a question. A moment later he returned, but passed us by and went to the couple on our left. Everyone around us saw we were bypassed. We were embarrassed and offended. But my wife wisely observed that we could allow this thing to hurt us or we could see it as an investment in sensitivity toward other people’s feelings. The offense taught us how others feel when they are ignored. Do you see this? You must make that offense become an opportunity to become more Christlike.

The occasions for taking offense are practically endless. Indeed, we are daily given the opportunity to either be offended by something or to possess an unoffendable heart. The Lord’s promise is that He’s given us a new heart – a soft, entreatable heart that can be filled with His Spirit and abound with His love.

Lord, forgive me for being so easily offended and for carrying offenses. Father, my heart is foolish and weak. Grant me the unoffendable heart of Jesus Christ. Amen.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

This vital message from Pastor Frangipane was adapted from a lesson in his online school, In Christ’s Image Training. This course has touched and inspired thousands of believers from over one hundred twenty-one nations and territories and all fifty U.S. states. Learn more about In Christ’s Image Training, atwww.icitc.org.

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