In God's Tabernacle

By Francis Frangipane

Jesus warned of the deception which would occur at the end of the age. When we consider His words, we instinctively think of false teachers and prophets; and these will, indeed, mislead many (see Matthew 24). But there is another dimension to the enemy's tactics that is, perhaps, even more dangerous. For we may actually know the truth, but be too preoccupied and distracted to obey it. If this is the case, greater judgment will fall on us than upon him who did not know God's will at all.

Jesus warned, "Be on guard, that your hearts may not be weighted down with dissipation and drunkenness and the worries of life, and that day come on you suddenly like a trap" (Luke 21:34).

To dissipate means "to fritter away; employ aimlessly; squander; be wasteful." Besides giving us His grace, the second most important gift Christ has given us is time. If we do not have time, we cannot develop spiritually in any of God's other gifts or resources. If we fail to make time for the service of God, we will be unprepared for this day which, Jesus said, "will come upon all those who dwell on the face of all the earth" (Luke 21:35). The day of the Lord will not be an occasion of joy; it will come upon the distracted like a trap.

Over and again the Lord warned that those who put Him off now will be put off by Him later (see Matt. 24:36 - 25:46; Luke 13:24 - 30; John 12:47 - 48). They will seek His protection, but He will not provide it. Why? It takes time to grow in the ways, knowledge and grace of God, and it is this very growth which creates within us the spiritual shelter of the Most High. Today is the day to prepare for tomorrow; to wait for tomorrow to ready ourselves will be too late.

In the Inner Court
In the book of Revelation there is a marvel. John writes, "And there was given me a measuring rod like a staff; and someone said, 'Rise and measure the temple of God, and the altar, and those who worship in it' " (Rev. 11:1). John was commanded to measure the "temple of God." When John's vision came, it should be noted that the physical temple in Jerusalem had been reduced to rubble for over twenty years. Thus, the apostle was not commanded to measure the physical temple but the spiritual temple. The church is the spiritual temple.

He was told to measure the altar and those who worship in it. In other words, he was commanded to measure those who have presented themselves as living sacrifices to God. These are the souls who have poured out their lives upon the altar of sacrifice (Phil. 2:17); they have learned the secret of abiding in the holy place with God.

Yet John also was told, "Leave out the court which is outside the temple, and do not measure it, for it has been given to the nations; and they will tread under foot the holy city for forty-two months" (Rev. 11:2).

There are three distinct groups identified to John in this vision: those who worship at God's altar, those immediately outside the temple, and the nations that will tread underfoot the holy city for 3 1/2 years. The "nations," in this context, represent those who shall persecute the unprepared church, which was in the court "outside the temple." Those who worship at the altar are those who, through love and perseverance, dwell in the secret place with God at the end of the age.

Neither Male Nor Female, But Christ
The court that was outside the temple was actually part of the temple grounds and was contained within the wall surrounding the entire temple enclosure. It was called the "court of women and gentiles." Only the priests, who were male in gender, could serve in the inner courts of God.

This does not mean that, today, women cannot enter the Holy Place; it means women must become "sons." To be a son of God is to ascend beyond the boundaries of gender until we attain the character of the living Christ. Women must crucify reliance upon the flesh with its seductions, manipulations, fears and jealousies; men must put to death rebellion and spiritual irresponsibility; competition, ambition, pride and intimidation must likewise die. All the works of the flesh must die at the cross, that God's one Son, Christ, might come forth in each surrendered, transformed soul.

A "son," Paul says, "is neither male nor female" (Gal. 3:28). God's sons are individuals who have literally "clothed [themselves] with Christ" (v. 27). They are fully submitted to Him as their source of identification. They are bold, yet meek; free yet slaves; uncompromising in vision, yet tolerant toward the weak. To leave the "court of women and gentiles," regardless of one's gender, we all must leave the deception of our flesh nature and press into the Presence of the Living God. In our spirits, we must become "a holy temple in the Lord . . . a dwelling of God in the Spirit" (Eph. 2:21 - 22).

In the last moments of this age, there will be those who, although they live on earth, consciously dwell in the tabernacle of God in heaven. They have made the Person of Christ their treasure, and where their treasure is, there their heart is also (Matt. 6:21).

In contrast to those who abide with Christ, there will be those who profess Christianity, but have never truly taken Christ's commandments, promises and warnings seriously. When the times of judgment come, they will be found unprepared for God.

I would fail in my service to Christ if I did not warn you of the Master's return and the purity and preparation He requires of His church. Yet, He also gives us His unfailing promise: a place of protection, high and secure, full of spiritual authority and graced with power. The Stronghold of God is the manifest dwelling place of those who abide at His altar and worship in it.

Lord, how easily distracted I am, how dissipated by the things of this age. Master, I want one thing: to dwell in Your house all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord and meditate in Your temple. This day I choose to ascend in worship to Your throne.

This day I determine to live in view of Your glory. Joyfully, I enter the Place of Immunity with You. Amen.


Adapted from Francis Frangipane's book, "The Stronghold of God" now released under a new name, "The Shelter of the Most High" available at www.arrowbookstore.com.

Conformed to the Redeemer

By Francis Frangipane

As Christians, we spend too much time battling basic, elementary battles: "Am I truly saved?" "Am I really forgiven?" "Is there really a heaven?" God has so much more for us. He seeks to form in our thought-life the very mind of Christ. The Holy Spirit comes, not just to give us goose bumps and chills, but to restructure our attitudes and perceptions until we think with the thoughts of Jesus Himself.

Paul wrote, "My little children, with whom I am again in labor until Christ is formed in you." Our goal is not merely to be saved and go to heaven, but for Christ to be formed in us on earth. We are not just to have a religion about what Jesus did; we are to possess the very life substance of the Messiah Himself. Yes, it means we indeed will go to heaven; but it is more: Christ now comes again to earth and, through our yieldedness to Him, is given flesh and blood access to this world. Yes, we face conflicts, but it's to bring forth Christ within us; indeed, we face persecution, but it's only so Christ will shine.

"For we who live are constantly being delivered over to death for Jesus' sake, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh" (2 Cor 4:11).

What does it mean to have the mind of Christ or that the "life of Jesus . . . may be manifested in our mortal flesh"? Does that mean we walk on the water or do great signs? Miracles are indeed part, but just a footnote on the page of His life. There is something to attain that is higher than performing miracles: Christ's mind is the thought-life of God. It is to possess the motives of heaven in unfailing pursuit of redemption.

Our fleshly motives instinctively alternate between self-preservation and self-gratification; Jesus' motives are passions born of loving self-surrender and the obsession to gratify the mercy quest of God. To acquire the mind of Christ is to learn to think, not as a prosecutor searches to find the guilty, but from a Savior's view to redeem the fallen.

We cannot bring our carnal, judgmental minds into Christianity and expect to succeed in becoming Christlike. To become like Him is to be conformed to the One Who ever lives to make intercession for the saints. To have the mind of Christ is to have the mind of Him who died to redeem the world.

It is a great offense to God when Christians become judgmental. Judgmentalism is the antithesis of the nature of Christ. Thus, Paul tells the church, "Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself" (Phil 2:5-8).

Don't sell your salvation short: You can have the mind of the Messiah. Jesus saw the world in its sin and then died for it. Right now, you can begin to actually think like Jesus thought! If you accept that you do not have to live trapped in your carnal thoughts, but can think the redemptive thoughts of God, your whole life will change. But we must choose the mind of Christ and pursue the attitude of our Redeemer. 

When Money Becomes Our Servant

By Francis Frangipane

Many ministers hate discussing finances; others are obsessed with it and teach about it all the time. Because Jesus Himself referenced it, we must put the issue of personal wealth into perspective. In the great overview of topics the Lord desires we learn, He has both promises and warnings concerning the issue of money.

The fact is, in Jesus' teaching there isn't a subject Jesus used more often than that of money or wealth. He compared heaven itself to a treasure in a field and and He said if we would be generous in our giving, whatever we gave would be multiplied and returned, "pressed down, shaken together [and] running over" (Matt 13; Lk 6). He warned it was easier for a camel to pass through a needle's eye than for a rich man to enter heaven, yet He promised that "There is no one who has left house or wife or brothers or parents or children, for the sake of the kingdom of God, who shall not receive many times as much at this time . . ." (Lk 18:29-30). We are not to lust for wealth, but Jesus also promises that those who give all, that they will gain much more than they give.

God measures our character by the integrity we possess concerning money. Jesus said, "He who is faithful in a very little thing is faithful also in much; and he who is unrighteous in a very little thing is unrighteous also in much. If therefore you have not been faithful in the {use of} unrighteous mammon, who will entrust the true riches to you?" (Lk 16:10-11).

Who knows, but that God has powerful spiritual gifts awaiting many. However, He is waiting for them to prove themselves trustworthy in the "very little thing" as use of finances.

The world today worships wealth and reverences it as a god. Thus, Jesus also warned us "No servant can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one, and love the other, or else he will hold to one, and despise the other." He emphatically concluded, "You cannot serve God and mammon" (Lk 16:13). At various times, I have heard Christians rail against the greed of the wealthy, only to discover later that some of these very Christians do not tithe. They themselves were just as bound to the control of Mammon, only on a smaller scale; their anger was not born of righteousness, but jealousy.

Jesus Himself Needs Us To Give
I know when we picture the Son of God, it is almost inconceivable that He would need us for anything, especially finances. We are aware when He paid taxes, that He sent Peter fishing. In the mouth of that first fish, Jesus said there would be a coin for the taxes. Yes, if Jesus needed money, it would come supernaturally. However, this is not the full extent of how Jesus' ministry functioned. It was within the wisdom and plan of the Father that faithful people helped meet the financial needs of Christ's ministry. Luke speaks of this very thing:

"And it came about soon afterwards, that He began going about from one city and village to another, proclaiming and preaching the kingdom of God; and the twelve were with Him, and also some women who had been healed of evil spirits and sicknesses: Mary who was called Magdalene, from whom seven demons had gone out, and Joanna the wife of Chuza, Herod's steward, and Susanna, and many others who were contributing to their support out of their private means" (Lk 8:1-3).

Many of the people that were taught, healed and delivered by Jesus, in response, supported His cause with finances. True redemption always comes with a price. As it was then, so it is today: God does not spare us the responsibility of giving, whether it is of ourselves or our funds, to the cause of redemption. In spite of my personal needs, each month I make it a point to faithfully give to others: My home church; local parachurch ministries; various national leaders; foreign evangelists and, of course, the poor. Additionally, to help keep us from becoming self-absorbed, our church takes one offering a week and gives it to support another ministry somewhere.

Each of us should seek God concerning how much He desires we give and to whom. I know a number of very honorable ministries that struggle to fulfill God's assignment because of financial lack. However, I also know of several ministries that have an unrighteous affection for wealth; a few regularly receive our mailing. If you are personally lusting for wealth, let me remind you that Jesus' most frequent and pointed rebukes were aimed at religious leaders' inordinate quest for money. He charged them with the sin of robbing widows (Matt 23:14) and of swearing by the offering on the altar, rather than the altar itself (Matt 23:16-18). Boldly, He confronted those who were outwardly righteous, but inwardly "full of robbery and self-indulgence" (Matt 23:25).

Jesus called the manipulation of people to get their money "robbery." He accused religious leaders of being motivated by "self-indulgence." Beloved, God is going to expose this spirit of self-indulgence in the body of Christ, wherever it manifests. Yet, let us not be quick to condemn other people; rather let us carefully examine our own hearts. Even if all we have is a little, the Lord desires us to be joyfully generous, so that He will have for His church an "abundance for every good work." Let us not be selfish or deceived by money. In a real sense, money is not a blessing; it's a test.

At "In Christ's Image"
Every Christian organization should have a governing principle concerning finances. Our standard at ICI comes from Jesus, who taught, "Freely you received, freely give." (Matt 10:8). Thus, nearly all our materials, in one form or another, are freely available via weekly email, video and audio messages; chapters from books and booklets are also frequently used for our message as well.

My more business-minded friends often ask why we do not charge for the weekly message, or set up a subscription for the radio and video resources. Simply, Jesus said that the poor would have the gospel preached to them. We would rather sow the word and trust the Lord than limit who would receive our materials. The fact is, it is a privilege to serve the body of Christ. While we obviously do sell resources, our hope is to continue to offer the weekly email, audio and video messages without charge.

Do we have needs? Who doesn't? Our website needs much upgrading. Our online bookstore needs to become more functional and with less glitches; more resources need to be made available, including tape series and group study materials and supplies to pastors. We also would like to publish materials as eBooks. (Imagine having "Holiness, Truth and the Presence of God" or "The Three Battlegrounds" on your computer, fully available to print out pages and use as Bible study guides).

Additionally, we are planning a forum where people can comment on different topics and connect with each other relationally and geographically. Currently, just my staff and I read your comments. What we have found is that many on our mailing are full of wisdom and spiritual insights that should be shared with others. (Ok, I admit, sometimes I slip your insights into my teachings). My secret's out, but I am jealous for the body of Christ to be edified. Your thoughts, questions and perceptions need to be posted for the benefit of others. Again, all this involves added costs and needs additional people to oversee and develop.

However, while I am expressing our vision/need at ICI, my real priority is to remind you that there are many wonderful ministries, both locally and nationally, that are struggling financially. Consider giving to their needs before ours. Our passion is that the kingdom of God advance in every city and on every level. To do so, we must all be free from the love of money. 

What Are You Becoming

By Francis Frangipane

"And when day came, He called His disciples to Him; and chose twelve of them, whom He also named as apostles: Simon, whom He also named Peter, and Andrew his brother; and James and John; and Philip and Bartholomew; and Matthew and Thomas; James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon who was called the Zealot; Judas the son of James, and Judas Iscariot, who became a traitor." Luke 6:13-16

Judas Iscariot had traveled both with Jesus and His disciples. Along with the others, Judas had been used mightily to "heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers [and] cast out demons" (Matt 10:8). He knew the excitement, joy and power of walking with Jesus. Judas was numbered among the original twelve.

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, and as he had the money box, he used to pilfer what was put into it" (John 12:6).

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, he minimized the severity of his iniquity. Perhaps he rationalized that, if pilfering was truly bad, God would not still use 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. Judas "became a traitor." He started out in ministry loyal to Jesus, but then began lying about the finances until his deceitful exterior completely hid a very corrupt interior. Judas was a thief who became a traitor, eventually taking his own life. His unrepentant compromise 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 festers 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 by sundown our indignation must find a more noble, redemptive attitude of expression. We must reach for forgiveness, intercessory prayer, and a love that covers a multitude of sins. Otherwise, Paul warned, we will "give the devil an opportunity" (Eph 4:27). What happens when we do not allow the Holy Spirit to transform our frustrations? Self-righteousness begins to manifest in our souls. We become embittered and judgmental. We become cynics. The definition of a cynic is "a habitual doubter." Do you know any Christians who are cynical?

The worst thing that happens when we turn angry and cease praying is that we, like Judas, betray Christ. How? When we disown Christ's mission of intercession, redemption, and forgiveness, we turn our backs on sinners destined to hell.

Judas mutated from an apostle into a person he never intended: he became a traitor. Our anger, left unattended, will do the same to us. It causes us to degenerate into something we never planned on becoming: "Christian Pharisees." By allowing self-righteousness and judgmen-talism to grow in the soil of unrepentant anger, we become worse in God's eyes than the evil which offended us.

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. Otherwise, we betray Christ's purpose with our anger.

It's the Principle

I know Christians who refuse to surrender their anger to God concerning President Clinton. They are still offended that he was not removed from office. These are folks who love the country, possess high morals and seek to walk in integrity, yet feel perfectly justified being embittered with the President! Under the guise, "it's the principle," they feel completely unalarmed by their unchristlike attitudes.

Where in the Bible does God permit Christians to hold hatred and unforgiveness against anyone? When was it that God gave permission to Jesus' followers to remain angry towards a person for months, or even years?

Thank God, Jesus didn't look down from the cross at the Pharisees and say, "You need to be taught a lesson. I love you, but 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. James clearly tells us that "the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God" (James 1:20). Don't dismiss your anger as a little sin; it disqualified Moses from entering the Promised Land!

It's time to deal with the indignation and unforgive-ness. It is a terrible witness to the non-Christian world. You see, even though the unsaved don't know much about the Scriptures, they still possess a God-given sense of who Christ is when it comes to real life issues. Before they will join a church, they are watching how Christians deal with imperfect people.

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 look and 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?

Lord Jesus, help me! When did I switch from loving to judging? When did I replace the glow, the smile, of Your love with this unceasing, angry frown? Master, like Judas, I have become what I never set out to be: a traitor to Your redemptive purpose. Forgive me.    Cleanse me of my anger and pride. Restore my heart until I love as You have loved me, until I stand for others in their need as You have stood for me in mine. For Your glory. Amen.