Unoffendable, Part 3

By Francis Frangipane

Unrealistic 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. 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.


Adapted from Francis Frangipane's book, The Days of His Presence, available at www.arrowbookstore.com.

Unoffendable, Part 2

By Francis Frangipane

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.

Unoffendable

By Francis Frangipane

"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).

Beware of the Stronghold of Cold Love

By Francis Frangipane

Is your love growing softer, brighter and more visible? Or is it becoming more discriminating, more calculating, less vulnerable and less available? This is a very important issue, for your Christianity is only as real as your love. A measurable decrease in your ability to love is evidence that a stronghold of cold love is developing within you.

Jesus warned of our era. He said, "Many will fall away and will betray one another and hate one another. Many false prophets will arise and will mislead many. Because lawlessness is increased, most people's love will grow cold" (Matt. 24:10-12). So let us honestly ask the Lord to examine us: Is our love hot or cold? Another's thoughtlessness may have wounded us deeply, but instead of forgiving the wound or going to them and discussing it according to Matthew 18, we go to others with our complaint. The wound then begins to germinate into a root of bitterness, and many are being defiled (Heb. 12:15). What is growing in us is not love but bitterness, which is unfulfilled revenge.

Fear of God by Nathan Brooks

The following message is from Nathan Brooks, a good friend of ours from Iowa. I felt Nathan's message would be a blessing to most.

Francis

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During times of shaking, fear becomes a close companion. Fear is primal. Some part of us, normally dormant, wakes up as we feel like our world was just totally reoriented, and we have lost whatever measure of control we thought we had.

There is something the scriptures call "The Fear of God," and it is similar yet also very different. It is actually the antidote to the fear we feel when our world is shaking. God is a Father first, so His kingdom is a family, not a governmental institution that He runs from a distance. His Kingdom is intensely personal. It becomes so personal in fact, there are moments with Him where He pulls the curtain back a tiny bit, and we perceive just a sliver of who it is we are dealing with. Every cell in our body stands at full alert, and there is a sudden awareness that our next breath is held in the mind of this uncreated, supremely authoritative being we call "Father." This fear of God comes with a strange peace and has the capacity to carry us through times of shaking.

One Man

By Francis Frangipane

God's Response to Redemptive Intercession
When Abraham was confronted with the possibility of Sodom's destruction, he did not immediately jump on the "Destroy Sodom" bandwagon; instead, he went before the Lord and prayed for mercy for the city. Abraham's prayer is an amazing study on the effect a mercy-motivated intercessor has on the heart of God. Indeed, my objective here is to gaze into the heart of God as it is revealed in the discourse between the Lord and Abraham.

When we look at Abraham's prayer, we discover an amazing power granted us in intercession. And what is that? God is looking for a mercy reason that would justify Him delaying or canceling wrath. We must not belittle this principle, for in it is great hope for our land as well. The mercy reason for delay is found in the compassionate prayer of an intercessor.

Ask of Me

By Francis Frangipane

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 Time I Will Praise the Lord"

By Francis Frangipane

I’m all for fulfilling personal quests in life, but I am also aware that personal fulfillment can actually become an idol. Our ambitions can develop into such an obsession that we are living for selfish goals rather than living for God. Thus, part of our salvation includes having our desires prioritized by Christ. In the Sermon on the Mount, the Lord put it this way:

"Seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself " (Matt. 6:33-34). God intends to satisfy us beyond our dreams, but not before He is first in our hearts.

A Place for Him to Rest, Part 3

By Francis Frangipane

Cease Striving, Know, Then Obey
To enter God's rest requires we abide in full surrender to His will, in perfect trust of His power. We learn to rest from our works "as God did from His" (Heb. 4:10). To "rest from our labors" does not mean we have stopped working; it means we have stopped the laborious work of the flesh and sin. It means we have entered the eternal works that He brings forth through us.

The turmoil caused by unbelief is brought to rest by faith. The strife rooted in unforgiveness is removed by love. Our fearful thoughts, He arrests through trust; our many questions are answered by His wisdom. Such is the mind that has entered the rest of God.

A Place for Him to Rest, Part 2

By Francis Frangipane

Enveloped and Permeated with God
The Hebrew word for rest is nuach; among other things, it means "to rest, remain, be quiet." It also indicates a "complete envelopment and thus permeation," as in the spirit of Elijah "resting" on Elisha, or when wisdom "rests in the heart of him who has understanding." God is not looking for a place where He can merely cease from His labors with men. He seeks a relationship where He can "completely envelop and thus permeate" every dimension of our lives, where He can tabernacle, remain, and be quiet within us.

A Place for Him to Rest, Part 1

By Francis Frangipane

In the kingdom, there are no great men of God, just humble men whom God has chosen to use greatly. How do we know when we are humble? When God speaks, we tremble. God is looking for a man who trembles at His words. Such a man will find the Spirit of God resting upon him; he will become a dwelling place for the Almighty. 

Entering the Sabbath Rest of God
"Heaven is My throne and the earth is My footstool. Where then is a house you could build for Me? And where is a place that I may rest?" ---Isaiah 66:1

The Intensifying Presence

By Francis Frangipane

We all know the unrepentant world is destined for the Great Tribulation, but as far as the living, praying church is concerned, if we continue to climb toward the standard of Christlikeness, prior to the rapture there will be a season of great glory for true Christians.

In support of this holy goal, let me submit to you an encounter I had with the Lord in 1973. I was pastoring a small church in Hawaii and had been in a month of intense prayer and extended fasting, a time of drawing near to God. At the end of this period, I found myself awakened during the night by a visitation of the Lord. It was not as though I saw His physical features; I saw His glory and was overwhelmed by the intense fire of His presence. Immediately I was like a dead man, unable to move so much as a finger. Spiritually, however, my consciousness was heightened beyond anything I have known since. I was like one of those "living creatures" in the book of Revelation with "eyes around and within" (Rev. 4:8).

The Shelter of Glory

By Francis Frangipane

What we define doctrinally as "salvation" is, in truth, the entrance, and then expansion, of Christ's Presence throughout our person. What we call salvation is, in truth, the beginning of God's glory in man.

If you are a Christian, then Christ is in you; you are already in glory. You have been clothed with Christ, who is Himself the "radiance of [the Father's] glory" (Heb 1:3). The fact is, Satan knows you are a Christian, not simply because he heard you repeat a prayer at a church altar; the Devil sees what happened when you prayed: The glory of Christ entered your spirit!

The Bright Lamp of Holiness, Part 2

By Francis Frangipane

Holiness is a Body Full of Light
There are limitations. There are conditions. You cannot serve two masters. You cannot serve light and darkness, sin and righteousness, self and God. Light is within you, but so also is darkness. Our world is a world in darkness. Our ancestors were sons of darkness. Our carnal minds yet remain theaters of darkness. In a world of choices, we must choose light. That is why Jesus taught that we must be single-minded if we would become fully mature sons of light. He said, "The light of the body is the eye: therefore when thine eye is single, thy whole body also is full of light; but when thine eye is evil, thy body also is full of darkness" (Luke 11:34, KJV).

If you are focused in your will and heart toward God, your body is full of light, and you are giving full expression to the glory of God within you. But if you are double-minded, if you are dwelling on sinful or evil thoughts, your light is proportionally diminished until your very body is full of darkness. Jesus went on to warn, "Take heed therefore that the light which is in thee be not darkness" (v. 35, KJV)

The Bright Lamp of Holiness

By Francis Frangipane

From the moment Christ enters within us, we are holy, set apart unto God. This kind of holiness is the same sanctification that made the utensils in the temple holy: holy because they were used in service to the Lord. They had no virtue in themselves; their material substance did not change. Christianity, in general, is holy in that sense. But the holiness we are seeking is the fulfillment of having been set apart. We are seeking a holiness that mirrors, through us, the presence of God in Heaven. We are seeking both His nature and His quality of life.

Since true holiness produces in us the actual life of the Holy Spirit, we must be sure we know who the Spirit is. The Spirit of God is love, not religion. God is life, not rituals. The Holy Spirit does more in us than simply enable us to "speak in tongues" or witness. The Spirit leads us into the presence of Jesus. Herein is our holiness received: in our union and fellowship with Jesus Christ.

Again, the holiness we are seeking is not a legislative or legalistic set of rules; it is Christ's very own quality of life. The Holy Spirit works in us not merely a new desire to love, but He imparts to us Christ's very own love. We develop more than just a general faith in Jesus; we actually begin believing like Jesus, with His quality of faith. It is God in us that makes us holy. Let it stagger us, let it rock us off our comfortable little perches until, with great trembling and great joy, with deep worship and holy fear, we approach the divine reality who has, for His own will and purpose, called us to Himself.

"Do you not know that you are a temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?" (1 Cor. 3:16). The Spirit of God dwells in us. In this light let us ask ourselves again the age-old question, "What is man?" We know how we appear to other men, but if God truly is within us, how do we appear to angels or devils? What light marks us in the spirit world, what illumination surrounds us, what glory declares to the invisible realm, "Behold and beware, here walks a son of God"? Think of it: the Spirit of the Creator, who purposed in the beginning to make man in His image, is in you . . . now.


Adapted from Francis Frangipane's book, The Three Battlegrounds special pricing at www.arrowbookstore.com.

Satan's Domain: The Realm of Darkness, Part 2

By Francis Frangipane

Submit to God
The trip wire that Satan used to cause Peter's fall was the disciple's own sin of pride. Let us recognize before we do warfare that the areas we hide in darkness are the very areas of our future defeat. Often the battles we face will not cease until we discover and repent for the darkness that is within us. If we will be effective in spiritual warfare, we must be discerning of our own hearts; we must walk humbly with our God. Our first course of action must be, "Submit . . . to God." Then, as we "resist the devil . . . he will flee" (James 4:7).

Satan will never be given permission to destroy the saints. Rather, he is limited to sifting us "like wheat." The good news is that God knows there is wheat inside each of us. The outcome of this type of satanic assault, which is allowed through the permissive will of God, is to cleanse the soul of pride and produce greater meekness and transparency in our lives. It may feel terrible, but God causes it to work for good. Our husk-like outer nature must die to facilitate the breaking forth of the wheat-like nature of the new creation man. Both the chaff and the husk were necessary; they provided protection for us from the harsh elements of this life. But before God can truly use us, in one way or another we will pass through a time of threshing.

Satan's Domain: The Realm of Darkness

By Francis Frangipane

Many Christians debate whether the devil is on the earth or in hell; can he dwell in Christians or only in the world? The fact is, the devil is in darkness. Wherever there is spiritual darkness, there the devil will be.

Preparing for Spiritual Warfare
For most, the term spiritual warfare introduces a new but not necessarily welcomed dimension in their Christian experience. The thought of facing evil spirits in battle is an unsettling concept, especially since we came to Jesus as lost sheep, not warriors. Ultimately, some of us may never actually initiate spiritual warfare, but all of us must face the fact that the devil has initiated warfare against us. Therefore, it is essential to our basic well-being that we discern the areas of our nature that are unguarded and open to satanic assault.

The Three Battlegrounds

By Francis Frangipane

Introduction
I wrote The Three Battlegrounds to provide clear and balanced insight into the nature of spiritual warfare. Before we proceed, however, I have two concerns. The first is our need for wisdom. There is an old European proverb worth heeding. It reads: "Age and treachery will always defeat youth and zeal." Before we engage in spiritual warfare, we should know this about Satan: he is an ancient and extremely treacherous foe. On the other hand, the strength of most Christians lies primarily in idealism and untested fervor. It is not long, usually five to ten years in the ministry, and most zeal has waned. Without warning the minister’s call has deteriorated from a walk of vision to a mere job.

Mercy Not Wrath

By Francis Frangipane

The church is created not to fulfill God's wrath, but to complete His mercy. Remember, we are called to be a "house of prayer for all…nations." Consider passionately this phrase: "prayer for." Jesus taught His disciples to "pray for" those who would persecute or mistreat them (Matt.5 44). When Job "prayed for" his friends, God fully restored him (Job 42:10). We are to "pray for the peace of Jerusalem" (Ps. 122:6), and "pray for" each other so that we may be healed (James 5:16).

According to the Word of God, the Lord "desires all men to be saved" (1 Tim. 2:4). Therefore, Paul urged "that entreaties and prayers…be made on behalf of all men, for kings and all who are in authority" (vv. 1-2). You see, the call is to pray for people.

Not Judgmental, But Prayer-mental

By Francis Frangipane

God does not want us to be judgmental; He wants us prayer-mental. As instinctively as we might have judged people, we should pray for them instead. Today, countless Christians are angry with their elected officials. We say our anger is "righteous indignation." Yet, if our goal is to truly obtain the heart of Christ, we must remember: Jesus forgave those who crucified Him. Consider Peter's personal experience. Remember, Peter actually lived with Jesus. He walked and talked with Christ, he had his meals with Jesus. He watched how Jesus never reacted. He described the Lord as a man who, "while being reviled, He did not revile in return; while suffering, He uttered no threats." How did Jesus keep Himself from anger, carnal reactions and bitterness? Peter says that Jesus "kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously." (1 Peter 2:23). I love that description: Jesus entrusted Himself to God the Judge of all. He will Judge.