Unrelenting Love

By Francis Frangipane

The Bible describes our relationship with the Christ in strong symbolic pictures of oneness: He is Head of a body, Husband of a wife, God in His temple. In spite of these powerful metaphors, there remains a sense of distance between the Presence of the Lord and ourselves. This distance is a test. Our call is to possess that love of God which reaches even into eternity and brings the glory and Person of Christ into His earthly House.


Those Who Seek After God
"God has looked down from heaven upon the sons of men, to see if there is anyone who understands, who seeks after God" (Psalm 53:2). We simply must have more of Jesus. In the face of increasing wickedness in the world, our programs and ideas have failed. We need God. Those who understand the hour we face are seeking Him. The wise know that Christ Himself is our only strategy and hope.

You may ask, "How does this message fit in the context of building the Lord's house?" If just one soul in a city truly attains the hope of this chapter, that individual will change their world.

This message is about seeking the Lord. Our text will be from the Song of Solomon 3:1-4, for here we find a bride and bridegroom who both are intolerant of the distance between them. The bride in the passage symbolizes the church in her deepest longings for Jesus; the Bridegroom symbolizes Christ. We will start with the third chapter; the bride is speaking.

"On my bed night after night I sought him whom my soul loves...." True seeking of God is born out of love. Our quest for God is not a matter of discipline, but of desire. It is not a question of sacrifice, but of undistracted love. Your sleep is gone because your beloved is gone. You must seek Him, for such is the nature of love.

Some will say, "But I already know the Lord. I have found Him." In truth, it was He who found us. Our salvation rests securely upon this fact. But while many are resting upon Christ's finding us, His bride arises now to find Him. In the very love which He inspired, she pursues her beloved.

Oh, we must see that there is yet much more to learn and discover concerning our Lord. At the end of Moses' life, after being used by God to confront and defeat the gods of Egypt, after dwelling in the Lord's glory for forty years, Moses prays, "Thou hast begun to show Thy servant Thy greatness and Thy strong hand" (Deut 3:24). For all we think we know, we have seen but a glimpse of His glory. The apostle Paul wrote, "As many as are perfect have this attitude" (Phil 3:15). To seek and know Christ is the attitude of the mature; it is the singular obsession of Christ's bride.

In this maturation process, there will come a point when, within your heart, love for God will take ascendancy over mere intellectual or doctrinal understanding. The bride of Christ cannot contain her longing nor patronize her aching heart by saying, "I will feel better in the morning." There is simply no reconciling the passion of her soul with the absence of her beloved.

Note also there is an unfolding dimension to seeking the Lord which we must embrace. Genuine love for God is an unrelenting hunger. As you would die without food, so you feel you will die without Him. She says, "night after night" I sought him. The knowledge of what her beloved has done in the past, a "religion" about Him, will provide little solace for the bride. She wants Him!

Overcoming Resistance
There are many obstacles which hinder us from truly finding the Lord. The bride mourns, "I sought him whom my soul loves. I sought him but did not find him." Her first attempts at seeking the Lord proved fruitless yet, unlike most of us, she has not terminated her quest. Augustine said it well, "God is not on the surface." There is, indeed, a "secret place of the Most High." Although hidden, it is accessible.

Another deterrent is the "effects" of drawing near to the Lord: the blessings of encouragement or a new understanding of scripture. We must guard against these sign posts becoming our final destination. We must not be deterred by goose bumps and tears, edification or comfort. We are searching for Jesus Himself.

Let us also understand, we will not find His fullness by seeking Him merely in convenient times and comfortable places. Rather, our quest is a determined, continual pilgrimage which will not end until He is disclosed to us (Phil 3:12). We are confident, though, for He has promised that, in the day we seek Him with our whole hearts, we shall find Him (Jer 29:13).

Christ Our Life
For many, Christianity is simply the religion into which they were born. For others, although Jesus is truly their Savior, their relationship with Him is hardly more that a history lesson, a study of what He did in the past. For those who attain His Presence, however, Christ is Savior and more: He is their very life (Col 3:4). When Jesus is your life you cannot go on without Him.

There is a story of a man who, in search of God, came to study at the feet of an old teacher. The sage brought this young man to a lake and led him out into the shoulder-deep water. Putting his hands upon his pupil's head, he promptly pushed him under the water and continued to hold him there until the disciple, feeling he would surely drown, frantically repelled the old man's resistance. In shock and confusion the young man resurfaced. "What is the meaning of this?" he demanded. His teacher looked him in the eyes and said, "When you desire God as you desired air, you shall find Him."

Was this not the attitude of the Psalmist when he wrote, "As the deer pants for the water brooks, so my soul pants for Thee, O God" (Ps 42:1)? The question here is not only of desire, but of survival. I need Him as a drowning man needs air and as a parched deer needs water. How can I exist without abiding in the Living Christ?

The bride continues, "I must arise now and go about the city; in the streets and in the squares I must seek him whom my soul loves." This inexorable woman has risen from the security of her own bed. She has left the comfort of her warm house and now is seeking her beloved in the streets and in the squares. Pastors, be aware: not all who wander from church to church are uncommitted or superficial Christians; a significant number are honestly searching for Christ. They are asking, "Have you seen Him?"

Yet, not only is the bride in the streets and squares of Christianity, she is facing the force and the power of darkness as well. Yet, nothing stops her; not her own need of sleep or her own fear of the night. The love of Christ compels her.

However, again she is refused. "I sought him but did not find him." We might think that after so great an expense of her energies and, even the seeming reluctance of heaven to answer her cry, she would feel justified to return home. But she does not. We too must guard against becoming satisfied with our opinion of ourselves: "We prayed, we waited, we searched for God. We did more than other men." This false reward fills the soul with self-exaltation. If we would truly find Him, we must stay empty and hungry for God alone.

"The watchmen who make the rounds in the city found me, and I said, Have you seen him whom my soul loves?" From her bed to the streets and now to the watchmen, the bride is seeking her lover. Notice that the watchmen found her. The watchmen are the modern day prophetic ministries. Their highest calling is to find the searching bride and direct her to Jesus. While many may come to the seers for a word of encouragement or revelation, the bride is looking for Jesus. Her singleness of purpose is undistracted; she asks the watchmen, "Have you seen Him?"

"Scarcely had I left them when I found him whom my soul loves." This is the greatest motivation for seeking the Lord: the time will come when you find Him! You will pass your tests and overcome the obstacles; you will be secure in the embrace of Christ.

She says, "...I held on to him and would not let him go." I am reminded of Mary at the empty tomb of Christ. The apostles came, looked in the cave and went away astounded. But Mary came to the tomb and she lingered, weeping. The death of Christ was horrible, but the empty tomb was unbearable. She had to find Him whom her soul loved!

The scripture says that Jesus Himself came to her, but in her sorrow she did not recognize Him. He said, "Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?" Can we see the connection here between Mary's weeping and her seeking Christ? Blinded by her tears, she supposes He is the gardener. "Sir, if you have carried Him away, tell me where you have laid Him, and I will take Him away."

"Jesus said to her, `Mary!' She turned and said to Him in Hebrew, `Rabboni,' (which means, Teacher). Jesus said to her, `Stop clinging to Me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father...'" (Jn 20:15-17).

The instant Mary sees the Lord she clings to Him. And here is the most astounding event, indeed, the marvel of all marvels: Jesus said, "I have not yet ascended..." Christ interrupted His ascent into Heaven to answer this woman's love! In the very process of His resurrection, He is drawn---No! compelled toward her weeping! Jesus demonstrated that love is the highest, most powerful law of His kingdom!

When you expend your energies, your nights, your heart; when you overcome your fears out of love for Jesus, you will find Him and "never let him go." Mary found Him whom her soul loved. She continued in her pursuit, remaining in sorrow until she found Him. The apostles had gone home. To whom did Jesus appear first? He came to the one who had the highest passion for Him. And she is clinging to Him.

Bringing Jesus to Our Mother's House

"I found him whom my soul loves; I held on to him and would not let him go, until I had brought him to my mother's house, and into the room of her who conceived me." You have laid hold of Jesus; you have found fulfillment. Yet, has this seeking of God been only for you? No. For the bride brings Him to the house of her mother, which is the church. She brings Him back to the needy and hurting, to her brothers and her sisters.

We all want the Lord, but only the bride will go so far as to find Him and bring Him back to the house. I want to charge you to find Jesus. Do not merely talk about how dead your life or church is, find Him! Pass through your fears. Overcome your passivity and lay hold of Him. The church, even our cities, need people who are anointed with the Presence of Jesus!

You Have Made His Heart Beat Faster
Where was Jesus throughout the time of the bride searching? Was He aloof, indifferent, sitting in Heaven? From the beginning, He had been watching, actually longing for His bride to find Him. He now speaks, "You have made my heart beat faster, my sister, my bride; you have made my heart beat faster with a single glance of your eyes" (vs 4:9).

Listen to me: You are His bride. He is returning from heaven for you! The single glance of your eyes toward Him makes His heart beat faster. Such love is inconceivable. He sees your repentance as your preparation for Him; His bride making herself ready. He beholds you kneeling, weeping at your bedside. He shares your painful longing. He has been watching. And he says, "The glance of your eyes has made my heart beat faster...."

The Lord has a promise for His bride. He said there would be a fresh and overwhelming baptism of love that would surpass all our knowledge of Him. We would know the height and depth, the width and the breadth of His love. While yet here on earth, we will be filled with His fullness.

We have many tasks, even responsibilities, which have come from heaven. However, the need of our soul is to be with Jesus. The areas of sin in our lives exist simply because we have lived too far from Him. Let us commit our hearts to seeking our God. Let us find Him whom our soul loves and bring Him back to the House of the Lord!

"[That you may really come] to know---practically, through experience for yourselves---the love of Christ, which far surpasses mere knowledge (without experience); that you may be filled (through all your being) unto all the fullness of God---[that is] may have the richest measure of the divine Presence, and become a body wholly filled and flooded with God Himself!" (Eph 3:19 Amplified Bible)

Let's pray: Lord, even now we lift our eyes toward You. Jesus, grace and truth are realized in You. Grant us grace that the truth of this message will change our lives and compel us in unrelenting love for You! 

Cleansing the Holy Place

By Francis Frangipane

Within every Christian there is a secret place, a sanctuary we must prepare for the Lord. This holy place is not unlike the Holy of Holies in the Jewish temple. Not until this place is cleansed will the Lord dwell with us in the fullness of His Spirit; not until this room is pure will we truly become a house for the Lord.

Bring Out the Unclean Thing
"And it was for this He called you through our gospel, that you may gain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ" (II Thess 2:14).

The Lord is cleansing us for the distinct purpose of bringing His people into His glory. Yes, out of His desire to present a pure bride to His Son, the Father is purging the church of its sin. He is refusing to allow our inter-church relationships to continue without love. According to the Scriptures, before Jesus returns, the body of Christ will be holy and blameless (see Eph 5:27; Titus 2:14; I Thess 5:23; Col 1:22; Phil 2:15; etc.). Through new and successive levels of purification, the house of the Lord will again receive and display the glory of God.

To facilitate this process of cleansing, by way of example, we are going to study one of the greatest periods of restoration and renewal in the Bible: the rule of King Hezekiah. Prior to Hezekiah's reign, his father, King Ahaz, brought the very worst forms of idolatry into Israel. Ahaz shut the temple doors and persecuted the priests. Those whom he did not kill, he corrupted. Without the influence of a godly priesthood, Israel soon followed Ahaz into idolatry and unrestrained sin.

Although Hezekiah was a relatively young man when he succeeded Ahaz, he courageously sought revival and healing to the nation. In the very first month of his reign he "opened the doors of the house of the Lord and repaired them" (II Chron 29:3). He then consecrated the priesthood and began to restore the temple. Hezekiah's first priority was to restore true worship. We read, "And he brought in the priests and the Levites and gathered them into the square on the east. Then he said to them, 'Listen to me, O Levites. Consecrate yourselves now, and consecrate the house of the Lord... (2 Chron 29:4-5).

God initiated His plan to redeem the nation by consecrating the priests and cleansing the house of the Lord. For this task, Hezekiah had been prepared. As a young man he watched Israel's "fathers . . . fallen by the sword." The men who were not slain on the battlefield could be heard weeping in the grainfields: "our sons and our daughters and our wives are in captivity!" (II Chron 29:9). Hezekiah knew only one option, one plan, was offered to Israel: return to God. In obedience, he began His reign by consecrating the house of the Lord.

Hezekiah next ordered the priests to "...carry the uncleanness out from the Holy Place." Before the Eternal One moves visibly in power, He moves invisibly in holiness; He cleanses His house. Then the outward signs of restoration and revival, the miracles and true conversions, follow. If God will touch our cities with His fire, He must put that fire within us. Everything the Almighty does for us as individuals will work to deliver others. He will deliver those who are not innocent, and they will be delivered through the cleanness of your hands (see Job 22:30).

Hezekiah never stopped thinking of Israel, but knew he must begin the restoration of the nation with the consecration of the priesthood. It is significant that he made no appeal or effort to win the nation itself; he had no program of reform other than restoring true worship. The king's focus was not on turning the heart of the people, but drawing the heart of God. If the Lord is lifted up, He will of His own will and power, draw all men unto Himself.

Even as Hezekiah reopened the temple doors, so also in us there is a door which we must open daily unto the Lord. David wrote, "I was always beholding the Lord in my presence" (Acts 2:25). Within the psalmist's heart was a dwelling place for the Lord; David was always beholding the Lord. Similarly, there is something in our presence, in our spirit, which can be opened or closed to God. We must not assume that simply because we are Christians this gate toward God is automatically opened. Jesus stood "at the door" of the Laodicean church and knocked, desiring to enter their lives. We must choose to unlock this door and swing it wide toward Christ.

Yet, opening this chamber of our hearts can, indeed, be a frightening thing. For it requires we not only talk to God, but hear from Him as well. It is one thing for us to speak honestly with the Lord; but quite another when He speaks without restraint to us. Therefore, the most essential commodity for stimulating revival is a tender, open heart before God.

Is the door of your heart opened toward God? Can the Spirit of Jesus Christ come in and speak with you? Are you defenseless to His voice? Can you sense what displeases Him and what draws His pleasure? For us to become sensitive to divine realities, we must live with the door of our hearts open. It is impossible to do the will of God otherwise.

King Hezekiah commanded the priests to carry the uncleanness out from the holy place. The call to clean the holy place was not an option, it was a command. "So the priests went in to the inner part of the house of the Lord to cleanse it, and every unclean thing which they found in the temple of the Lord they brought out to the court of the house of the Lord" (2 Chron 29:16).

When the priests entered the holy place, they entered alone; the rest of Israel was in the outer court and beyond. Here, privately before God, they were to remove those things which were defiling this sacred place. No one else had seen these desecrations. They could have remained in secret and none except the priests would have known, but they did not. They brought out the unclean things. What was unholy was exposed publicly and removed.

From where did these abominations arise? Predominantly, they were the sins of their forefathers: the traditions and offenses which were handed down to them from the prior generation. The careless approach to holiness, the unbelief toward the promises of God, the idolatry and worship of man-made things were the product of a generation turned from God. It was this legacy of sin and compromise and its effects that the priests removed.

In the new-covenant temple, the church, it is our private, inner life which needs this deep cleansing. We have inherited traditions which justify and reinforce darkness of soul within us. Most Christians have little hope that purity of heart is even attainable. The revival which will turn a nation begins in the trembling unveiling of our hearts, in the removal of what is defiled and hidden within us.

I will tell you a mystery. It is in this very place, this chamber of our deepest secrets, that the door to eternity is found. For if the Father is near enough to "see in secret," He is close enough to be seen in secret as well. If He has entered us, we can, in truth, enter Him. The key to entering the presence of God is intimacy, and intimacy is secrets shared. To ascend the hill of the Lord, to stand in the Holy Place, we must have clean hands and a pure heart; we cannot lift up our souls toward falsehood (see Ps 24:3-4). At the door of eternity, we must renounce those things hidden because of shame and, in humility of soul, receive Christ's cleansing word.

The Pure In Heart See God

Our goal is not merely to be "good," but to see God and, in seeing Him, to do what He does. However, John tells us that he who seeks to "see Him just as He is...purifies himself, just as He is pure" (I John 3:2-3). We can be assured that each step deeper into the Lord's presence will reveal areas in our hearts which need to be cleansed. Do not be afraid. When the Spirit shows you areas of sin, it is not to condemn you, but to cleanse you.

Let me give you an example: My wife set herself apart to seek the Lord. Her cry during this time was, "Lord I want to see You." As she sought the Lord, however, He began to show her certain areas of her heart where she had fallen short. She prayed, "Lord, this is not what I asked for, I asked to see You, not me." Then the Holy Spirit comforted her explaining, "Only the pure in heart can see God."

In the same way, the Lord desires His church to see Him as well. Thus, He is exposing the areas in us which are unclean. If we will walk as Jesus walked, we must remember, Christ only did the things He saw the Father do (Jn 5:19). Out of the purity of His heart, He beheld God and then revealed His glory.

The purpose of cleansing the house of the Lord is that we might sincerely be prepared for more of Christ. This cleansing must become a way of life, but it does not have to take a lifetime. For Hezekiah and the people with him, it occurred in a matter of eight days.

"Thus the service of the house of the Lord was established again. Then Hezekiah and all the people rejoiced over what God had prepared for the people, because the thing came about suddenly" (2 Chron 29:35-36). The key here is this: the cleansing of the temple was the highest priority of the king's life. When we are fully engaged in the process of repentance, breakthroughs can come about suddenly.

Indeed, the prophet Malachi tells us that the Lord "whom You seek, will suddenly come to His temple" (Mal 3:1). As we restore the house of the Lord to purity and cleanse the holy place of our hearts for Christ, He will indeed come "suddenly" into our midst. After the Lord, in His fullness, returns to His house, He promises,

"Then I will draw near to you for judgment; and I will be a swift witness against the sorcerers and against the adulterers and against those who swear falsely, and against those who oppress the wage earner in his wages, the widow and the orphan, and those who turn aside the alien, and do not fear Me" (Mal 3:5).

With the Lord again abiding in His living house, He will release judgment against that which oppresses our cities. Yet, the cleansing of our cities, begins with the cleansing of the church. It is time to remove sin from the hidden places of our hearts.

Let's pray: Blessed Jesus, I desire deeply for You to dwell in me. I yearn to be Your holy dwelling place. I ask that the sanctuary of my heart would be purged of every defilement of flesh and spirit (II Cor 7:1). Here they are, Lord Jesus, my hidden sins. I bring them out of the secret chamber of my heart. (Audibly identify your sins by name). I take them out of the darkness and expose them to Your light. Lord, You have promised You will execute Your word upon the earth, thoroughly and quickly. Oh God, thoroughly cleanse my heart; purify me quickly my Master! In Jesus' Name, amen. 
 

Obtaining the Endorsement of God

By Francis Frangipane

If we will gain God's greatest blessings, we must embrace His highest purpose.

The Workmanship of God: Christlikeness
In the last days, God's word promises that the "mountain of the house of the Lord will be established" (Isa 2:2). Our sincere conviction is that if this dwelling place of God truly emerges in our cities, it will transform entire regions and great revival will emerge. However, I would make it clear from the beginning, if our goal is anything other than becoming a home for Jesus, this truth will simply become another "wind of doctrine"; we will again be blown off course. Without the abiding fullness of Christ in the church, we will have no more impact in the world than a political party, whose strength rests in numbers and not God.

Consequently, there are two priorities every serious Christian should recognize. We need to return to the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ; and we desperately need divine intervention or our nation will perish.

In the ninetieth Psalm, Moses uttered a prayer that everyone who has had enough of their feeble efforts should also pray. In somber and earnest supplication he implored,

"Let Thy work appear to Thy servants, and Thy majesty to their children. And let the favor of the Lord our God be upon us; and do confirm for us the work of our hands; yes, confirm the work of our hands" (Psalm 90:16-17).

This is a heartfelt prayer, full of deep thought and candid reflection. Moses was not willing to "try something" and ask the Lord to bless it. He prayed, "Let Thy work appear..." He appealed to God to confirm (margin: "establish") the works of his hands. What is divine confirmation? It is where the Lord works through your efforts and backs up your words with His power (Mk 16:20; Heb 2:4). God identifies Himself fully with what you are doing. Moses was praying for the endorsement of the Almighty upon his life.

I want to underscore that we have peace with God through Christ's sacrifice. We are not looking for divine acceptance, but divine endorsement. The question is not one of salvation, but of power in this life to change our world. How then can we truly know that we have found God's highest purposes for us? How can we, like Moses, obtain the endorsement of Almighty God?

If we would find permanence to our works, they must be the eternal works of God and not more of man's ideas. Jesus said, "For the works which the Father has given Me to accomplish, the very works that I do, bear witness of Me, that the Father has sent Me" (Jn 5:36). Ultimately, we only glorify God when we, like Jesus, accomplish the work which He has given us to do (Jn 17:4).

You may question, "Does God have eternal, enduring assignments for me?" Yes, but the first "work of God" that is accomplished in us is not our work but His, that we "believe in Him whom He has sent" (Jn 6:29). We must abandon all hope of finding true spiritual success apart from dependent, steadfast faith in the person and power of Jesus Christ.

This forsaking of our ideas to embrace simple obedience to Christ is the "work of God." We cannot attain the works of God unless we become the "workmanship" of God. As Paul wrote,

"For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them" (Eph 2:10).

At this very moment, there are eternal, powerful works prepared for each of us. Yet, until we see that the Father's highest purpose is to reveal in us the nature of Christ, we will not qualify for the power of Christ, which is God's full endorsement upon our lives.

The Mystery of God's Will
If we will find the eternal works of God, we must know His eternal plan. The ultimate plan of God is stated clearly in the Scriptures. Paul wrote, "He made known to us the mystery of His will...with a view to an administration suitable to the fullness of the times, that is, the summing up of all things in Christ, things in the heavens and things upon the earth" (Eph 1:9-10).

The eternal purpose of God is to sum up all things in Christ, things in the heavens and things upon the earth. He desires to bring the living Christ into each of us as individuals; then, as Christ-filled individuals, we can transform the church. Finally, from the launching pad of a Christ-filled church, we will see "things in the heavens" impacted and cleansed with the Spirit of His Son.

In this unfolding of the Father's plan, it is important to note that the expanse of Christ must be accomplished in sequence. That is, we cannot see Christ corporately manifested in the church until we, as individuals, embrace true Christlikeness; nor can we plunder the heavenly places until we unite with other congregations as Christ's church.

God's will is that the church should not be divided, but united as a glorious temple, a living house for His Son. Concerning the heavenly places, God has blessed the church with "every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places" (Eph 1:3)! This realm does not belong to Satan, but is part of our inheritance in Christ. It is the eternal wisdom and purpose of God to reveal Christ "through the church"; not only to the world, but unto the "rulers and authorities [principalities and powers] in the heavenly places" (Eph 3:10)!

Satan has continually sought to hinder and delay this "summing up of all things in Christ." Yet, such is our mission; and in knowing the plan of God, such is our victory. Therefore, in spiritual warfare, in battling for the soul of our cities and our nation, our victory is not in knowing how to command demons, but in knowing the Commander Himself. We triumph in being rightly aligned with the supreme plan of God, which is to fill all things with Christ.

Thus, if we would obtain the endorsement of God upon our lives, Jesus must become as real to us as the world was when we were sinners. He must become our mind and we His obedient body. Throughout our lives, the Holy Spirit will continue to establish this vision, which is the Father's singular goal in creation. As we press toward this upward call of Christlikeness, our lives will begin to manifest and attain the prepared, eternal works of God. We will attain the quality of life which God Himself backs with power.

Let's pray: Lord Jesus, we recognize our desperate and total need of You. Lord, how we cry for the restoration of Your fullness to the church! Forgive us for trusting in our programs and ideas; especially pardon us for avoiding You. O God, let Your works appear to Your servants, and Your majesty to our children; and confirm for us the work of our hands; yes, confirm the work of our hands. Amen.