Thursday, February 25, 2010
Wednesday, February 17, 2010
Monday, February 8, 2010
Saturday, February 6, 2010
“The Lord releases the prisoners.”
“How you have fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning . . .
who opened not the house of his prisoners.”
Isaiah 14:12, 15-17
God is not a beggar. He and His ministers do not beg for money, and they do not beg for praise or for followers. “Whosoever will” means that those who want to follow Jesus are allowed to, but it also means that all who do not want to follow Jesus are allowed to follow their own heart instead. Jesus makes us so free that we cannot escape the liberty he has given to us.
Long ago, Jesus taught me to be like him and never put pressure on people to be a part of my ministry if their hearts were not in it. Consequently, I have never gone out looking for “members” or by any means attempted to persuade anyone to join in this ministry. Nor have I ever put pressure on the people God sent to be a part of this ministry to stay once they were here. Nor yet have I ever pursued after anyone who chose to no longer associate with me and my work. I leave all that up to God, and I thank Him for every one He sends to help, and for every one He takes away. Every person now associated with me in my work knows that if he or she chooses to leave, I will not ever chase after them, trying to change their minds. They know they are perfectly free to do what is in their hearts to do. I would not have it any other way.
In fact, decades ago, the Lord told me to offer a “money-back guarantee” to any person who became a partner here with me, but who – for any reason whatsoever – afterward regretted supporting this ministry with their tithes and offerings. God and His ministers are not beggars. And I have imitated my heavenly Father in making sure that every person working with me is doing so only because they truly want to, by making sure that they know (1) they are free to leave at any time and (2) if they want their money back, they can have it. (For obvious tax reasons, this refund can only apply to money given within the most recent fiscal year.)
The freedom with which the Son makes us free is so real and so all-encompassing that it can be frightening to consider. God is so much a God of liberty that He will have no unwilling servants. Of course, there will be dire consequences for unfaithfulness because every one of us will reap what we sow; still, God has determined that we be free to choose not to serve our Lord if we don’t want to. He will make real promises, but He will not manipulate; He will warn, but He will not threaten; and He will plead, but He will not hound those who turn from Him and go another way. God’s wayward children may be dearly loved and sorely missed, but when Jesus makes us “free indeed”, part of that gift of ultimate freedom is the freedom to cease from serving him if love for the world enters in. He will let us go if we insist on it. After all, he makes us “free indeed”, if we are not free to choose disobedience and rebellion, then we are not free to choose love and faithfulness. If we cannot turn from him and embrace eternal death, we are not free at all.
God willingly releases His prisoners if they want to escape from Him. He loves us too much to hold us against our will. He forces no one to serve Him, and if you feel discontent with Him, He would rather you feel content with someone else than to keep you bound in discontentment to Him. Only God really wants you to be free to live the way your heart wants to live.
Friday, February 5, 2010
So then, my dearly loved brothers,
be steadfast, unmoveable, abounding in the work of the Lord always.
Thoughts inspired by chapter 7 of the book, God Had a Son Before Mary Did
In order for Satan to be able to move someone, to influence a person’s choices, that person must hold in his heart a wrong idea about God. Satan cannot deceive, intimidate, or influence anyone who possesses the true knowledge of God. When Paul prayed that the saints would be “unmoveable”and “rooted and grounded” (Eph. 3:17), what he was praying for is simply that they would attain to the knowledge of their heavenly Father. When Jesus said that the truth would make us free (Jn. 8:31-32), he meant that the knowledge of God would make us free from the power of darkness to influence our feelings, our thoughts, and our choices.
The Lord showed me in August, 1981, that the biggest enemy of His people is not the devil; rather, our biggest enemy is what we still don’t know about God. He said through Hosea, “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge.” Satan knows how to use our ignorance against us. He works in places we don’t yet understand. He maneuvers in those spiritual areas where we are ignorant. He cannot work in the light, for in the light, he is exposed for what he really is. Jesus promised that all who trust in him will have the “light of life” (Jn. 8:12), which means that if we trust Jesus, he will lead us to a spiritual place where Satan has no more influence on our spirits because we provide him no place to hide.
The way to eternal life is simple. All we have to do is walk in the light of the Spirit that God has given us, and the light of the Spirit is the knowledge of God. That is why Jesus once defined eternal life as simply knowing the Father and the Son (Jn. 17:3). If we possess that life, that true knowledge of God that comes through the Spirit, we will be unmoveable, free from the influences of every ungodly spirit, whether human or otherwise.
Thoughts inspired by chapter 7 of the book, God Had a Son Before Mary Did
Ezekiel said that Satan was “full of wisdom”(Ezek. 28:12). With this information, we can understand that when Satan doubted righteous Job’s strength to remain faithful to God in adverse conditions, he was not being simple-minded. He was basing that opinion on many years of careful observation of human behavior. Satan had no doubt seen many righteous people over the centuries become discouraged and turn from righteousness when hard times came. Other heavenly creatures probably felt just as Satan did; that is, if God caused Job to suffer, then Job would turn from righteousness and “curse God to his face.”
In the Old Testament, Satan is depicted as having the disposition of an unbending prosecutor. He regularly acted in God’s court as the accuser of those who did wrong; as in the case of a high priest in Israel named Joshua (Zech. 3:1-2), and even with Judas (Ps. 109:4-6; Acts 1:20). Satan is called “the accuser of the brethren”, but what most people miss is the fact that, in the Old Testament time, what he accused people of, they had usually actually done! Satan was unrelenting in his determination to see to it that transgressors of God’s law were tried and punished to the fullest extent. But he was proud, and unlike God, he did not rejoice in showing mercy to those who turned from sin and repented.
When Jesus condemned certain rulers in Israel as “sons of the devil”, he was condemning them most of all for being like the devil in their attitude toward sinners. Those highly respected elders in Israel demanded, with merciless vehemence, strict obedience to their law and their traditions, and they did not rejoice in mercy. They were, indeed, exactly what Jesus said they were: physical representatives of the invisible personality of Satan.
In one case, those elders brought to Jesus a woman caught in the very act of adultery. They quoted Moses’ law, which condemned her to death for such a sin, and they demanded that Jesus concur with their condemnation of the hapless woman. Ironically, Jesus did agree with them, and with the law they claimed to stand for, which held that the fallen woman was worthy of death. But Jesus went beyond that. He didn’t merely agree with the law God gave to Moses; he agreed with God, and he did so by reminding those elders that those who execute God’s righteous judgments must themselves be righteous. When Jesus did that, he rested his case, and left the defenseless woman to her cruel accusers. But her accusers, elders in Israel and prosecutors of the law, were condemned by their own conscience and drifted out, one by one, leaving Jesus alone with the adulteress.
The humiliated, humble woman stood there, silent, amazed that she had not been dragged out to be stoned. Jesus gently spoke to her and mercifully sent her home, with this one commandment: “Go, and sin no more.” What love! What mercy! That is something Satan has never felt to say to anyone. Prosecutors don’t do that.
God does demand obedience, and He warns us of the dangers of disobedience. But He is not proud. He is merciful, “not willing that any should perish.” He can be stern, and He will certainly condemn the guilty if they do not repent, but His heart is more like that of a defender than a prosecutor. His first choice is always that sinners turn from sin. And if any sinner does repent and begin to do what is right, God has promised that his past sins will never be mentioned against him again (Ezek. 33:14-16).
Satan, on the other hand, and those who are like him, cannot stop talking about the past sins of people. He is obsessed with prosecution. He is proud and cold-hearted, able only to live by the letter of the law, the same “letter” that Paul says kills men. Satan cannot feel as God does toward the fallen because he is proud of how right he is. He judges by the book, and he knows it well, but he cannot judge by the holy Spirit of God because God is more concerned with being good than he is with being right.
Every wise person takes advantage of the mercy that God offers those who have done wrong. They, like God, rejoice in mercy, but they rejoice not only in receiving it, but they also rejoice, as God does, in showing it to others.