Standing After the Storm

By Francis Frangipane

"If the foundations are destroyed, what can the righteous do?" (Ps. 11:3)

Just as there are foundations that are dug and laid for buildings, so there are spiritual foundations upon which we can build a stable spiritual life. If our foundations are destroyed, or if we try to build our lives upon an incomplete foundation, to that degree we compromise our ability to stand during life’s storms.

I’ve known many people who could prophesy or pray for the sick or sing beautifully in church, but inwardly their spiritual lives were unstable. As soon as difficulties arose, they fell apart. Why? As "together" as they seemed, they had something missing from their inner foundation. They crumbled during the storm.

Jesus put it this way:

"Everyone who comes to Me and hears My words and acts on them, I will show you whom he is like: he is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid a foundation on the rock; and when a flood occurred, the torrent burst against that house and could not shake it, because it had been well built" (Luke 6: 47-48).

The question isn’t "if" a storm is coming, but when. Storms are part of life. Everyone will experience them. Life has a way of going from calm and peaceful to suddenly turning turbulent or adversarial. The only way one’s house can stand during these times is if it is well built.

Jesus is saying that our "house" represents our spiritual life, and in building this life, the foundation is the most important part of the structure. Everything else we build, whether in ministry or gifting or calling, is built upon the inner, hidden foundation laid by Christ.

The problem is compounded because you can’t build your house in a storm. Your house must be built before the storm comes. Thus, Jesus concluded His warning,

"But the one who has heard and has not acted accordingly, is like a man who built a house on the ground without any foundation; and the torrent burst against it and immediately it collapsed, and the ruin of that house was great" (Luke 6:49).

I shudder when I recall the many people --- good people, mind you --- whose house "collapsed" in the storm of temptation or adversity. How true the Savior’s words are: "and the ruin of [their] house was great."

Storms Are Coming
As a spiritual father, I am concerned about the church. In America today it has almost become a joke how dysfunctional we have become. People are proud that their lives are unstructured, as though "undisciplined" was synonymous with "humility." May I speak candidly? I think that God defines "undisciplined", not as a form of humility, but a form of disobedience.

I’m not becoming legalistic; I’m calling us to obedience. Jesus said in His Great Commission to the church we were to make disciples "who obey everything" Jesus "commanded" the first disciples (Matt. 28:20 NIV). Yes, there is a time when people need to be loved and healed. However, there is another time when we need to respond to God’s love. In fact, it is His love that wants to rebuild our lives on a foundation that can withstand the battles and be victorious!

What, specifically am I meaning when I speak of spiritual foundations? Old attitudes must be excavated from our souls and Christlike attitudes structured. Trusting in ourselves must go; trusting completely in Christ must be established. Pride must be uprooted; true humility established. Worry, fear and sin must go and prayer must be established. You see, God calls us to walk as redeemers, patterning our lives after the example of Christ. Upon these traits we can unite with other Christians in our cities until, functionally, we become "a dwelling of God in the Spirit" (Eph. 2:22).

I am talking about more than having right doctrines. I’m speaking of right attitudes, biblically correct vision and theologically accurate faith, so we actually reveal the life of Christ to the unsaved world around us.

The vision of Christlikeness should be the focus of both leadership and congregations. This has been the Father’s purpose from the beginning of time and it remains His unchanging goal at the end of the age (See Gen. 1:26-27 and Rom. 8:28-29). If we build upon the foundations of Christ, we will certainly be found standing after the storm.

Enter Their Gates with Thanksgiving

By Francis Frangipane

For the last several messages, the Holy Spirit has been urging us to deal with issues of the heart. We've focused on issues like cold love, anger, grumbling and betrayal. Now, I'd like to share what I believe is a means to discovering the life of God. I am speaking of possessing a thankful heart. It is truly a place of immunity from the demonic and fleshly storms that come our way in life.

Of course, there are some people that test not only our character but also our sanity. I remember visiting a church and seeing a sign in the pastor's office over the door. It read, "Everyone who walks through this door makes me happy: some when they enter the room and others when they leave."

Well, that's one way to keep our spirits up, but it's not exactly what I mean. I'm saying we can be thankful that God is with us no matter who walks through the door. In fact, the Bible tells us to "rejoice always . . . [and] in everything give thanks." (1 Thess. 5:16, 18). The Word doesn't say thank God for everything, but thank Him in everything. In every battle there is a place where we can find God. In every conflict there exists a spiritual means to ascend into God's presence, where we can ride out the storm.

A thankful spirit sustains us when we otherwise would faint. It makes us alive to the awareness of God's nearness. The truth is, that no matter what trial we are in, God is there with us. A thankful spirit acknowledges Him, identifying His blessings and appropriating His gifts; gratitude escorts us into the presence of God.

Even Trouble-Makers
The value of gratitude goes beyond transforming our hearts, it can also transform the people who are near us. Certainly, we can see what's wrong with people, but have we ever actually thanked God for them, even the trouble-makers? You see, without them, we would never mature spiritually! They thrust us out of ourselves, causing us to rely more completely upon the help of God.

Yet, gratitude is actually a form of spiritual warfare, especially when it comes to healing human relationships. True, there are times when, for a variety of reasons, people are not open to us and they shun our initiatives for peace or reconciliation. However, I believe if we were more genuinely appreciative of them, in time they might relax their guard and open up.

You see, not only is Jerusalem surrounded by walls and gates, our souls also are protected by barriers; we too have walls and gates surrounding our lives. We have "eye gates" and "ear gates" that allow influences into our soul. But we are not open to everyone. We've learned to protect ourselves instinctively from emotionally damaging people. On the other hand, the words of loving, appreciative people inspire us to drop our guard and let them in. Just as God requires we enter His gates with thanksgiving, so it is with human nature, for we are made in God's image. If we expect others to open up to us, it is important we express our gratitude for the good we see in them.

Of course, people do not have to be perfect for us to appreciate godly elements in their character or personality. When I voice my gratitude for a specific quality or virtue that I see in another, I affirm and strengthen that virtue. By so doing, I also gain their trust.

For example, if you're not thankful for your teenagers, your disappointment with them will push them away from you. The Bible says that a "false balance is an abomination to the Lord" (Prov. 11:1). Sometimes we can be so focused on the negatives in our kids that we drive them away. We communicate with anger and disgust, weary of the battle we've been having with them. Yet, if we take time and sincerely communicate the things we appreciate about them (and those things are there. You must just find them), your teens will relax their guard.

Parents, as an experiment, dismiss for several weeks the obligatory criticisms you usually express when you and your kids are together. Instead, tell them the things you appreciate about them. You see, each of us needs to know we are appreciated at least for something. Even God responds positively to praise! Such reinforcement empowers our desires to do well and increases our sense of self-worth and value.

Acceptance: Oxygen For The Soul
Because God has designed us to be social creatures, we each enter the world with an innate desire for acceptance. By appreciating our loved ones, we affirm and help settle their quest for acceptance, without which they might otherwise be compelled toward ungodly associations. Just as when property appreciates it increases in value, so when we appreciate our loved ones, destructive tendencies created by self-hatred and fear of rejection diminish proportionally. By appreciating what we see as right in people, their soul nurses on the life of love and acceptance.

You see, there's something like radar inside the human heart that senses the displeasure of others. Displeasure and ingratitude are like a repellant to human relationships. People think, if I can't measure up – if you can't see anything good in me – I'll go where people will accept me as I am. Thanksgiving brings our loved ones closer to us rather than driving them away.

At the same time, I know people in marriages that, every time they get together, they wind up discussing what's wrong with their relationship. Why not take a few weeks and shift the focus to appreciating what's right in each other?

Some of us have been ungrateful, gossiping and grumbling. So, for those in particular, I'm calling for a thirty-day fast. From what? Let's fast from ingratitude. For the next thirty days, each time you would have complained, grumbled or been ungrateful about something or someone, focus instead on things for which you are thankful. Make a list of at least seven people in your world that you know fairly well and write down seven things in each of their lives for which you are appreciative. Over the next two or three weeks, tell them how much you appreciate this or that quality you've observed in them. Finally, let's see if most of these very people do not begin to automatically open up when you draw near; let's see if you can't enter their gates with thanksgiving.  

When Trust is Established

By Francis Frangipane

The Problem With Anger
Unresolved anger can consume a soul; it can become a literal hell not only for the embittered person, but for those who live with them as well. Thus, Jesus strongly warned of anger's terrible impact. He said,

"The ancients were told, 'You shall not commit murder' and 'Whoever commits murder shall be liable to the court.' But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother shall be guilty before the court; and whoever shall say to his brother, 'Raca,' shall be guilty before the supreme court; and whoever shall say, 'You fool,' shall be guilty enough to go into the fiery hell" (Matt. 5:21-22).

Anger is a systemic poison: it affects every area of our existence. Not only can it destroy one's life on earth, it can make us "guilty enough to go into the fiery hell." Who among us has not known the wrestling in our minds over an offense? Who has never felt the unrelenting churning of wounded emotions or the self-destructive tension generated by anger?

For some, anger abides brooding, yet hidden, beneath a polite veneer. Like a vicious dog waiting behind the door of a nice home, so inner rage attacks without warning when anyone gets too close. Yet, as awful as anger is, the embittered person often feels anger is warranted in light of the threat of an offense. The worse evil, however, is the spirit of deception that justifies the angry soul, that presumes the anger of man is actually attaining the righteousness of God, thus imprisoning the embittered soul, isolating it from true repentance.

Jesus warns that unresolved anger is very grave. It threatens to drive the soul into hell; it is physically depleting, and the person carrying anger feels justified. According to Jesus, the angry person has, within his heart, committed a sin equal to murder. Anger is a very serious offense indeed.

Reconciliation Is More Important Than Ritual
If you know someone who is carrying unresolved anger toward you or someone else, Jesus tells us we are not to simply ignore their condition. In fact, He plainly tells us He expects us to do something about it. Remarkably, just after warning about anger's hellish consequences, in the very next verse He says,

"If therefore you are presenting your offering at the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your offering there before the altar, and go your way; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and present your offering" (v.23).

Jesus requires us to actually leave our offering, exit the "church service," and do what we can to reconcile with our offended brother. To the Son of God, reconciliation is more important than fulfilling our religious service.

The Lord knows that if we do not engage in some process toward healing, our offended brother will transfer his anger to others. Hebrews 12:14,15 says, "Pursue peace with all men . . . See to it that no one comes short of the grace of God; that no root of bitterness springing up causes trouble, and by it many be defiled." One angry person not only jeopardizes their own soul, but their root of bitterness can spread and "many be defiled."

Thus, when the church becomes a place of anger instead of redemption, it is not a little thing to the Lord. Indeed, Scripture says the final result is "many [are] defiled." Unresolved anger is actually a primary tool which Satan uses to break down marriages, destroy families, splinter churches and divide cultures within a community.

The Lord calls His church to reverse the curse of injustice and anger upon our society. We are heaven's agents of transformation and reconciliation. In fact, the Lord calls us not only to go to the one who, for whatever reason, may be offended by us, but He desires we actually become ministers of reconciliation who inspire others to bring healing to every strata of human relationships.

Wounded In Pursuit Of Oneness
When I speak of healing the riff between people, I realize there are some people who are habitually offended. No matter what we do, they are irreconcilable. Perhaps, in time, they will be more open. Still, the Lord commands us, "So far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men" (Rom 12:18). Hebrews calls us to "pursue peace with all men" (Heb.12:14). According to Jesus Christ, if we remember someone has something against us, we are to actually leave our offering at the altar and go be reconciled with our brother (Matt. 5:24).

Our inter-personal relationships are a primary concern to the Lord. Remember, the issue is not limited to whether you have something against someone, but whether they have something against you. You may be completely innocent. The offended person may actually be the guilty party. But the Lord calls us to care about relationships. Indeed, it is amazing how often a simple phone call, an act of love or a gentle answer can soften the heart of an offended person.

The Bible says, "pursue peace with all men." "Pursue" means we aggressively take the initiative to make things right. It means we act on behalf of heaven rather than allow another's anger to serve the purpose of hell.

However, we must be realistic. When we reach out to a deeply offended person, they will likely be repulsed by our first efforts. Scripture tells us, "A brother offended is harder to be won than a strong city, and contentions are like the bars of a castle" (Prov. 18:19). If a person has been hurt, they will need trust to be restored and this process of initiating trust can actually be painful to both parties. A wounded person may lash out. You may feel like the process of restoring the offended person is simply too great a price to pay.

Let me share an insight I recently received from the Lord about the basic nature of relationships and reconciliation. My wife and I were bird-sitting our oldest daughter's pet conure. A conure is about half the size of a parrot with similar coloring. However, this creature was hostile. Each time I'd touch the cage, it would squawk and try to bite me. After several initiatives at being nice, I concluded, "Who needs this? If I'm going to be attacked, I can be attacked at church." I made a silent evaluation that we had been given a "killer conure." Obviously, I concluded, this bird came from the wrong side of the tracks.

My wife, however, decided she was going to love this bird. Even though it was just as aggressive toward her as it was with me, my wife relentlessly kept loving the bird. Each time she fed it by hand, the bird attacked, taking chunks of skin with each bite. Denise would yell in pain, then instantly return to talking softly, reaching into the cage with food. After a week, the bird finally began to relax. Her survival instincts, based on my wife's gentle response to being attacked, convinced the bird that Denise was not a predator, but a friend. Soon, it permitted Denise to reach into its cage without attacking her; a couple more days and I discovered this aggressive little finger-eater perched lovingly upon my wife's shoulder, its little round head snuggled warmly against her neck, cooing in her ear.

Denise won the heart of this little bird: it loved, because she first loved it. You see, the problem with the bird was not aggression, but fear. My wife allowed herself to be wounded so that trust could be established; when wounded, she did not retaliate, and she won its trust. As I watched this little drama unfold, I saw something basic, yet profound, concerning God's relationship with us. Trust is not an accident; it is the result of love that pays a price.

Isn't this the way of the Lord with our own hearts? He came to us, yet we wounded Him. We crucified God's Son. Yet instead of retaliating, Jesus forgave us. He proved over and over again that His love was safe, that He is not our enemy. We expect judgment but receive mercy; we sin, yet He works to restore us to Himself. It is His kindness, the Scriptures say, that lead us to repentance (Rom.2:4). He repeatedly shows Himself trustworthy, merciful and loving, knowing that, in time, we will come to rest in His goodness. And as we do, we let Him reach into our cage; we climb upon His hand, and He carries us on His shoulder.

I recognized that this attitude, which I saw in my wife, was actually the Lord's heart. As He has been to us, so He wants us to be toward others, even those who are hostile and alienated from us. Trust must be established before love can heal. We must be willing to let ourselves be wounded, even repeatedly if necessary, in pursuit of healing relationships. We must prove, not just in word, but in deed, that we are trustworthy. Whether we face divisions in families, churches or between races, only when trust is established, can healing begin.

As We Enter the Fullness of Time

By Francis Frangipane

I love the Word of God. I have a burning passion that my words, whether written or spoken, might be filled with the river of life that flows from God’s throne (Rev. 22:1). I love studying the Word, comparing translations, researching commentaries and then preparing teachings for others from what the Lord shown me.

However, several years ago, as I was preparing a message for Sunday morning, the Lord gently admonished me. I had spent far too much time with details. My preparation was becoming increasingly cerebral until, suddenly, the Lord interrupted my study. He said, "I have called you, not only to prepare sermons, but to prepare people."

There is a difference between preparing a message about God and preparing a people for God. Obviously, sermon preparation is very important, but it is not an end in itself. The goal is to equip and train people to represent Christ.

As we approach the end of this age, I believe our Father is in the process of training people to serve during the last great harvest. Our destiny as Christians is to "grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ" (Eph. 4:15). This means, we must not only know that Jesus heals, but who He wants to heal and how He wants to heal them. We must pursue His wisdom, view life with His discernment, and learn to be led by revelation. In other words, we must not only seek to possess accurate theology, we must seek to manifest, in our times and circumstances, the actual life of Christ.

The Purpose of Leadership
Ministers are given by God not only to teach doctrine, but to impart Christ’s life as they train His disciples. Paul told the Christians in Rome that he longed to “impart some spiritual gift . . . that you may be established” (Rom. 1:11). Are you spiritually unstable, floating up and down? Paul sought to supply an impartation to help establish the church in Rome. He said to the Thessalonians that both he and his ministry team were “well-pleased to impart . . . not only the gospel of God but also our own lives (1 Thess. 2:8).

I know the idea of impartation scares some people, but the truth that one can impart life to another is fundamental to human relationships in general. Parents, through their love and union with their child, actually impart a foundation of life that their offspring, potentially, can enjoy forever. Teachers who seek to fulfill the highest calling of their vocation will supply more than information to their students; wise teachers can also impart their very love for the subject they are teaching. You see, principles of impartation are woven into the very fabric of life itself.

Jesus put it this way. He said, “He who receives a prophet in the name of a prophet receives a prophet’s reward” (Matt. 10:41). Jesus is talking about impartation. A true prophet or ministry of the Lord has an impartable “reward” to give to those hungry for God. For instance, when I listen to T.D. Jakes or Joyce Myer, I find encouragement has been imparted to me. If I drink from the words of Myles Monroe, I become awed at the fact that God has predestined me. When I hear Mike Bickle, I am inspired to love Jesus and intercede. The Holy Spirit works in consecrated men and women and, over the years, creates a living spiritual reality in their hearts. This reality is impartable. It comes through their words and emerges in their actions. It is something that can be seeded into the life of others.

While I might be called to focus upon spiritual warfare or unity, the core reality God has given me is the pursuit and power of Christlikeness. It is a tangible, substantive reality in my spirit. It is an impartable grace, which is what we hope our students receive when they study our training materials.

Of course, we should never isolate ourselves with just one teacher; we should be followers of no man, except those leaders we perceive are themselves followers of Christ. We should not put ourselves in bondage to anyone. At the same time, let’s us drink freely from those whom Christ has given us, for true leaders do not seek to dominate, but to liberate.

In Christ’s Image Training (ICIT) begins a new term four times a year. To date, thousands of people from 70+ nations have found life-changing encounters with the Lord while studying ICIT. I personally believe it is time for us to grow in all aspects into Christ, who is our head. Beloved, throughout your life, you will have many opportunities to be trained by respected leaders. The focused themes offered by ICIT are truths that will endure a lifetime; they are foundational realities that can be built upon by those who shall help you mature.

It has been my heartfelt prayer that God would use this course to raise up and equip hundreds of thousands of Christlike individuals from every nation on earth.  For more information about ICIT visit www.icitc.org.

It's a Package Deal

By Francis Frangipane

In 1983 I was asked to serve as pastor of a faith church. I had been away from the ministry for three years and I had no idea what a “Faith” church was, except that faith, as a biblical concept, seemed fairly sound. So, I agreed.

I should add, this was not just any faith church, it was a satellite-dish-in-the-front-yard faith church. Painted across the top of the dish in huge, bright red letters were the words, "Jesus Is Lord."

I should also explain that my three year hiatus between pastorates was due, in part, to a deep sense of failure I was carrying. A member of my former church died from a virus that, within four days, left her completely paralyzed. I had been with her, fasting and praying during this time. But when she died on the fifth day, the helplessness I felt crushed my confidence in prayer. It was the most traumatic experience of my young ministry.

After she died, I didn't know how to acknowledge my inner devastation, so I pretended my faith was still functional, but it wasn't. For months I still prayed for the sick, outwardly continuing to mimic the behavior of one who really believed. But, inside, my secret cry was not a prayer of faith, but a whimper, "Please God, don't let my unbelief make their condition any worse!"

Satan truly exploited my experience with death. In fact, I was so beat up, I took responsibility for her dying. I felt like I had failed this woman, her family and God Himself. In my mind, I was one of the shepherds Ezekiel rebuked for not healing the sheep (Ezek. 34:4). The only honest thing to do was leave the ministry.

So, it wasn't long after the woman died that my family and I left Michigan and moved to a little farmhouse in Iowa. Yet, even though I wanted to return to the ministry, the call to return would have to come from the Lord's initiative.

When the time to serve finally came, a full three years had passed. I was returning to ministry as the pastor a faith church. Yet, due to my difficult experience, I still carried within me a stronghold of unbelief. Here I was, trying to teach and lead a faith church.

It was an awkward time. Each month the church would watch special teaching seminars via satellite. Sooner or later, it seemed, every faith teacher in America taught us their truths; each sermon was structured upon either the mountain-moving faith of Mark 11:23 or the prosperity faith of 3 John 1:2.

At first I tried to appear polite and supportive, but inwardly I was growing more and more troubled. I was convinced that much of what we were receiving was either false or unbalanced teaching. By the ninth month, I found myself particularly agitated by what seemed to be a complete misuse of a "faith" scripture.

In our dark sanctuary, illuminated only by the light of our projection television, I uttered to the Lord a quiet, but angry complaint, "Lord, these faith preachers are constantly misusing these verses!"

Like a lightning bolt, the Holy Spirit’s voice flashed in my mind. He said, "At least they're using them!"

It was true. Ever since the death of our friend--a period of several years--I did not use these verses when I taught. The fact was, I didn't even see them when I read the Bible. Because of my personal inner battle, I had passed over great promises from God without any response in my heart to what God said. Yet now, I realized how void of real faith my heart had become; my prayers were uttered without any anticipation of fulfillment.

But the Holy Spirit was not done with me. The next moment He spoke again, reproving my self-righteousness. He said, "I will always speak to you through imperfect people. The moment you become critical of them you will not receive what I have given them to give you."

That night I repented, not only of unbelief, but of pride and fault finding and, as I did, my faith was restored. During that following year, our church saw people healed of cancers, deaf ears and arthritis. Even now, I am thankful to God for what He gave me through the Faith Movement.

Through Imperfect People
The Lord used this situation to teach me a great secret: I have learned that much of my spiritual progress does not come directly from God, but through my ability to humble myself and hear Him speak through imperfect people. Are there excesses among faith teachers? Yes, some. But I have discovered that it pleases God to hide His wisdom in a variety of people and denominational perspectives. I know that the more I humble myself to others, the broader my understanding of God has actually become.

Some will ask, "Aren't you afraid of being deceived by imperfect teachers?" When a teacher is truly off the mark, I will question him directly. But God knows, there are enough Bible experts to keep us all on the straight and narrow - and I am thankful also for them! But, if we truly expect to find the kingdom of heaven, we must remember, Jesus said it is like a treasure hidden in a field. I have discovered a great find: the church is the field in which is hidden the treasure of Christ. If we want the treasure, we cannot be offended by the earth which surrounds it. It’s a package deal.

The Sword of the Spirit

By Francis Frangipane

Christ not only came to set captives free, He came to train and empower the recently freed to be warriors. We may not always walk perfectly, but because God causes all things to work for good, we still can walk triumphantly. How can we, imperfect Christians, walk triumphantly? The Bible says we overcome "because of the blood of the Lamb and because of the word of [our] testimony, and [we do] not love [our lives] even when faced with death" (Rev. 12:11).

These three things - Christ's atoning blood, our testimony of God's eternal word and choosing to not love our own lives - secure us in the place of victory. We are a covenant people, a people purchased for God from every nation. Yes, we still sin, but God has placed the iniquity of us all upon His Son, Jesus Christ (Isa. 53). When the enemy comes to accuse and condemn us for our failures, we must remind ourselves that every sin we have ever committed has been nailed to Christ's cross. The entire "certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us, which was hostile to us," has been paid in full by the blood of Jesus Christ! (Col. 2:14).

Important Prayer Alert - Virginia Tech University

By Francis Frangipane

By now, most of us are aware of the horror that, for three hours, roared up from the bowels of hell and flooded the campus of Virginia Tech University. Forgive me for telling this like it is, but the murderer was not merely "troubled," he was demon-possessed. Cho Seung-Hui, murdered thirty-two students and faculty, then turned his gun toward his own face and pulled the trigger. Students that survived the attack reported hearing, at one point, Cho Seung-Hui laughing maniacally as he shot his victims in cold blood.

There are many appalling consequences of his actions, but the one I want to us to particularly pay attention to is that there is often a "copycat" element in these kind of things. As grotesque as the darkness was that lived in Cho Seung-Hui, he is not a "one-of-a-kind" human. There are probably hundreds, if not thousands, of people in America who are similarly demonized.

These are individuals who usually live in isolation and hatred. They are so deeply entrenched in spiritual darkness, they do not know how to climb out. While these tormented people might look and appear almost normal, their thoughts are the mutterings of demons. Seeing the chaos Cho Seung-Hui spawned, these crazed people carry a demonic impulse: they desire to kill more people than he did. The voices, inwardly compelling them, whisper they have nothing to lose. In fact, they are convinced their crimes will make them famous.

Some of you think I'm exaggerating or over reacting. I'm not. I'm simply asking we take a strong prayer initiative against a demonic multiplication of this horror. Did you know that by Tuesday, the day after the Virginia Tech massacre, threats had already occurred in many places? Forced "lock-downs and evacuations at universities, high schools and middle schools [have occurred] in at least 10 states on Tuesday," according to the Associated Press.

The report continued, "Threats in Louisiana, Montana and Washington state directly mentioned the massacre in Virginia, while others were reports of suspicious activity in Texas, Arizona, Oklahoma, Tennessee, North Dakota, South Dakota and Michigan. In Louisiana, parents picked up hundreds of students from Bogalusa's high school and middle school amid reports that a man had been arrested Tuesday morning for threatening a mass killing in a note that alluded to the murders at Virginia Tech"

Of course, not everyone who calls in a threat is intent on fulfilling it. Some people think it is "funny" to cause disruption. However, we need to increase our intercession, especially that these copycat atrocities would not occur. We need to pray that sick, demonized people will find Christ and get help. We also need to be discerning. If someone you know begins ranting that "things are going to change" or "you'll see," tell the police immediately. Indeed, let us especially pray for the police and all who are in authority that plans conceived in hell will not be fulfilled on earth.

Finally, let us not be passive. Rather, let us stand before God for our communities. When the enemy comes in like a flood, the Lord promises to raise up a standard. Let us, therefore, stand up. Let's not only pray that God will thwart any further copycat acts of violence, but that He'll use what has occurred to bring our nation back to Him.

Francis

The Heartbeat of Destiny

Francis Frangipane

The prophet Jeremiah had warned that, unless Israel repented, Jerusalem itself would be destroyed. And so it happened: King Nebuchadnezzar’s armies laid siege against Jerusalem. No food or supplies entered the city; Jerusalem eventually was utterly devastated. As the Lamentations of Jeremiah declare, the surviving Jews were carried off to captivity. It was one of the bleakest times in Israel’s history.

Yet, it is written that the Lord "does not take away life, but plans ways so that the banished one will not be cast out from him" (2 Sam. 14:14). Thus, even though the Jews went into exile, the Lord had already purposed to restore Israel. He said,

"'When seventy years have been completed for Babylon, I will visit you and fulfill My good word to you, to bring you back to this place. For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the LORD, 'plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope’" (Jer. 29:10-11).

I love this about the Lord: He is the God of restoration. The Lord had "plans . . . to give [the exiled Jews] a future and a hope." Just as there was a time of exile, so there would be a time for restoration. No matter what things looked like during the time of captivity, the Lord desired to restore His people.

Comfortable With Captivity
Yet, for some of the exiled Jews, restoration to the holy land seemed unimaginable. When the grace came to bring Israel back, many chose instead to stay in Babylon. The familiarity of their captivity nestled them into Jewish enclaves. They eventually began to root in Persia and Babylon, and even prosper. In time, they grew comfortable in the land of their exile. Indeed, to this day, the descendants of these exiles still live in Jewish communities in Iran.

Yet, among the exiles, thousands did, in fact, recognize the heartbeat of destiny. God’s Spirit stirred them. He awakened a holy dissatisfaction with their present circumstances. In their spirit, they felt the excitement of divine anticipation calling them to their eternal purpose. The time of restoration was at hand, and they returned to the promised land and rebuilt the temple of God.

Seasons of Restoration

Today, for Christians, we too must guard against becoming comfortable in Babylon, the land of our exile. Babylon is a land of intoxication (see Rev. 17-18). The Holy Spirit desires to restore us, not to a distant geographic place, but to the image and power of God’s Son. It is this spiritual life - the "measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ" - that is our "promised land" (Eph. 4:13).

Thus, every time I read the Scriptures and I see the magnificence of God’s promises to the church, I lament that so many of us are still living in exile. Do you not also feel this longing for more? Is there not something in you that desires to walk in the fullness of what God has promised?

Yet, let us remember: just as the Lord restored the Jews to their land, He desires to restore His church to Christlikeness. Let us not despair or lose hope! For before Jesus returns, there is an unfolding season of restoration. Yes, even today, the true, born-again church is living in the period the Bible identifies as the "restoration of all things" (Acts 3:19-21). If we will not lose heart, God has promised a season when His church shall walk in fullness! The works Christ did, we shall also do (John 14:12). We shall "be filled [through all our being] unto all the fullness of God" (Eph. 3:19-21 Amp).

From Glory to Glory
Let me also say for the soul that has been embattled, God cares about your individual restoration. Just as the Lord restored David’s soul (Ps. 23:3), He desires to restore to us what we have lost. No matter what we have gone through, even if we’ve fallen and failed or grown weary, the Holy Spirit is seeking our restoration. Even if you feel shamed and self-condemned, the Lord has a word for you. He says,

"Fear not, for you will not be put to shame; and do not feel humiliated, for you will not be disgraced; but you will forget the shame of your youth, and the reproach of your widowhood you will remember no more" (Isa. 54:4).

We must not allow our hearts to remain planted in standards fashioned in Babylon. Remember, though some Jews remained in captivity, many thousands returned during the restoration. They returned to possess what God had promised.

Let us also advance with confidence toward the fullness of Christ. Let us embrace the heartbeat of destiny, for the Lord delights in our restoration!

Purity and Commitment

Francis Frangipane

I dreamt I was the pastor of a small orphanage in Asia. The orphanage owned an old pickup truck that was in need of repair; I was lying on my side examining the undercarriage when, suddenly, soldiers pulled into our little compound and jumped out of their vehicles. They were looking for me, "the American missionary." If they found me, it meant I would be tortured and imprisoned. Since they hadn’t harmed any of the children or other workers, I felt my best recourse was to simply lie still, as I was somewhat hidden, and pray they left quickly.

I could see their boots as they walked toward the other side of the truck where I was lying. I had a glass of water in my hand. However, when I tried to put it down onto the pavement, it began to rattle, so I stopped and held it in midair. Soon, my hand was trembling because of the awkward way I was lying and also because of the nearness of the troops. Suddenly, I felt two hands firmly touch the sides of my middle back. The hands calmed and strengthened me. They were the hands of a friend of mine, a recent convert to Christ, who was one of the workers at the orphanage. As was the custom in this Asian culture, this young believer had taken a spiritual name that represented one’s new nature in Christ; that name was "Purity and Commitment."

The soldiers left and peace returned to the mission. Yet, the touch of the hands that had steadied me, also roused me from my sleep. And as I stirred, I awakened to the most exquisite fragrance. It was unlike any fragrance I've ever known. Its sweetness not only filled the room, but it washed the air like the cleansing after a thunderstorm. I honestly have never known any fragrance more beautiful or captivating.

As I waited before the Lord, the Holy Spirit warned that difficult tests were coming. In some lands there will be martial law and increased government crackdowns on Christians; in other places, temptations of the flesh would increase. These days will be difficult for many Christians. He said we will be tempted, but if we embrace "purity and commitment" as our friend, we would find new strength steadying us in our time of need.

Finally, as the fragrance continued in the room, I understood that this was what the Lord inhaled when His children stayed committed to Him during battle. I realized that, when we purpose to stay pure in spite of temptation, we literally become "a fragrance of Christ to God . . ." (2 Cor. 2:15).

Deliverance From Bitterness

By Francis Frangipane

There are two conditions of the heart no one can hide: one is when the heart is filled with love and the other when we are infected with bitterness. Either condition can take over our thoughts and both can filter our entire view of life. As followers of Jesus Christ, we must make our highest quest to possess hearts full of God's love. Indeed, how successful we are at revealing Christ's love is the true measure of our spirituality.

Thus, love cannot long exist as an unexpressed or hidden secret. If love is real, it will be seen in a thousand manifestations reaching to the heart of its beloved. Love, which is in truth passion for oneness, is too powerful to be contained by mere discipline or self-control. Indeed, is not love boldly displayed in its unrequited gifts, and is it not heard in its many encouragements and expressions of concern? Is it not tangible in its unabashed enjoyment of time spent with those it loves?

Bitterness, too, cannot be hidden. A bitter soul is not seeking oneness, but justice. It is driven by the unresolved theft of its peace, personhood or possessions. Bitterness is not just a wound seeking healing, it is a prosecuting attorney building a case against the guilty. Because a bitter soul is conjoined to the injustice committed against it, it perpetually is listening to the voice of its heartache and, thus, perpetually wounded by the unforgiven offense.

Dear friends, Jesus said He came to give us life in abundance. He said He was anointed and sent to proclaim release to prisoners and freedom to captives (John 10:10; Luke 4:18). If we feel we have been spiritually incarcerated by a bitter experience or an injustice, God is not seeking to condemn us for it, but to save us from it. Even now, His Spirit is reaching to release us from this unbearable burden of the past.

How Do We Become Free?
In my thirty-seven years of walking with the Lord, there have been times that I have been slandered, defrauded or unfairly attacked. I have had plenty of opportunities to be embittered by injustice. Not every wound was healed instantly nor each injustice swiftly remedied. Jesus said, “By your endurance you will gain your lives" (Luke 21:19). The Message translation renders this: “Staying with it - that's what is required. Stay with it to the end. You won't be sorry; you'll be saved." In the final analysis, being wounded or suffering loss is not the issue – Paul said he “suffered the loss of all things." The real issue is that we “may gain Christ" (Phil. 3:8).

Let me also say, I know people whom the Lord simply touched and healed. Yes, often the Lord will simply remedy the offending situation itself, thus bringing healing. Let us make room for the vastness of God's grace. Indeed, Hebrews 2:18 reveals that since Christ “Himself was tempted in that which He has suffered, He is able to come to the aid of those who are tempted." For no other reason except that He loves us, He will “come to the aid of those" who are embattled. Let us always make room for such grace.

At the same time, I have also recognized that God's highest goal for me is my conformity to Christ. (See Rom. 8:28-29). God heals me so He can conform me to Christ, and sometimes He reverses that process: He conforms me to Christ so He can heal me. In other words, my deliverance came as I appropriated Christ's love and learned to entrust myself to God even when I was wounded by injustice.

Consider this issue of trusting God. Peter tells us, “For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps, who committed no sin, nor was any deceit found in His mouth; and while being reviled, He did not revile in return; while suffering, He uttered no threats, but kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously;" (1 Pet. 2:21-23).

Sometimes my healing from wounding and possible bitterness came, not because restitution was made to me by the person who hurt me, but because I learned to entrust myself to God who judges righteously. To trust that God will vindicate me in His time and in His way is a sign of spiritual maturity. It's really the only way we can avoid responding to reviling with reviling and allowing a wound to fester into bitterness.

There are other times when a lingering conflict would become an oppression upon my soul. Again, as an antidote to becoming bitter, Jesus taught, “Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me. Rejoice and be glad (Luke adds, “and leap for joy"), for your reward in heaven is great" (Matt. 5:11-12).

If you have been unfairly treated, if some injustice has soiled your name or threatens your future because of your faith in Christ, one antidote is to rejoice. Before you defend your right to remain miserable, let me ask this: have you obeyed Jesus by leaping for joy? I remember one occasion when I was especially hurt by a man who, based on a dream his wife had, used his wife's fantasy to divide our little church. I loved this couple greatly, just as I loved everyone in our church, so my sorrow was multiplied. Indeed, each time I considered the evil this slander was causing, my emotions stormed with anger and grief.

Yet, eventually the Lord spoke to my heart. He asked, since the slander spoken against me wasn't true, why I hadn't obeyed Him? He said I had become oppressed by people's words, but I hadn't yet leaped for joy. So, I decided to obey Him. Standing alone in the dimmed afternoon lighting of our church sanctuary, I prepared myself to rejoice. Yet, I was so emotionally drained with sadness I had no joy; I could hardly walk, much less leap. Yet, in obedience I tried a feeble jump. Then again, and again, until the Holy Spirit broke through and I was shouting and leaping before the Lord, rejoicing in His sovereign power in my life.

Now, if the problems we are encountering are legitimate consequences to our bad behavior, then we should repent and not blame others for our condition. We still can rejoice that we serve a great God who can work even our failures for good. But if our conflicts are due to our commitment to serve the Lord, then we ought to obey Him and “leap for joy."

The Waters of Marah
Christ is not our “Savior" in merely a distant or theological sense; He is Immanuel, “God with us." He dwells within us; He is committed to us. He is fully capable of transforming what was meant to destroy us and using it as a means to perfect us. We must believe that God is fully able to redeem all we go through. If we harbor unbelief about either the Father's goodness or His abilities, our difficulties will reduce us to bitter, angry people.

Consider also, if Satan is set on destroying us, it must be because God has something powerful waiting for us in the future. The devil does not waste his time attacking insignificant people; he attacks those he fears will be used by God to liberate others. If Satan can set up an attack that causes you to become bitter, your destiny will be sidetracked until that root of bitterness is plucked from your soul.

How is it that bitterness can exist in us? Bitterness is a demonic manipulation of a wound or injustice we suffer in our soul. Jesus, however, said that the only way to save our souls is to lose them to Him (John 12:25). Beloved, I am telling you how I have passed through some of the most difficult battles I faced: I carried the cross.

I believe that my steps are ordered of God. Therefore, if I have faced an injustice, He must have either allowed it or ordered it. In His great omniscience, He knew I would need more love or faith or dependency upon Him, so He arranged my steps so He could work in me His overcoming nature. My battles are not about me and someone else, or even me coming against the devil; ultimately, in every conflict, God is seeking to create Christlikeness in me. As the character, authority and love of Christ become functional in my life, my enemies are subdued and Christ is triumphant through me.

We must, therefore, get over the idea that there is a painless place of existence on earth, and we must learn how to carry the cross of Christ. The cross puts to death our unbelieving, fearful, selfish nature and allows the character of Christ to emerge in our spirits. The cross is the cost we pay so that redemption prevails.

There is a story in Exodus that figuratively reveals the power of the cross. The Israelites went three days without fresh water. When they finally found water,“they could not drink the waters of Marah, for they were bitter; therefore it was named Marah" (Ex. 15:22-23). Marah, you'll recall, means bitterness. They finally found water, but they could not drink it. The Lord, however, showed Moses “a tree; and he threw it into the waters, and the waters became sweet" (Ex. 15:25).

What Moses did was prophetic. The tree that was applied symbolically to the bitter water was a picture of the cross of Christ when it's applied to our bitter experiences: it turns the bitter to sweet. I know in the many times the enemy has used people to wound or strike me, as I applied the cross to my life – forgiving, blessing and letting love be perfected – the outcome has always been a greater manifestation of Christ in my life.

This is exactly how Paul handled adversity and injustice. Listen to what he wrote, “But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, so that the surpassing greatness of the power will be of God and not from ourselves; we are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not despairing; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body. For we who live are constantly being delivered over to death for Jesus' sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh" (2 Cor. 4:7-11).

Dear one, is this not what you desire most: the life of Jesus Himself manifested in your mortal flesh? Satan has been manipulating your old nature, seeking to work bitterness into your life. The way the Lord has redeemed me from every battle I have faced has been to use that battle to crucify my old nature and release a greater unveiling of Christ in me. This is New Testament Christianity in its greatest glory.

Lord Jesus, forgive me for trying to save my life. I purpose to trust You, to allow love to be perfected within me, to not seek justice, but mercy for myself and others. Help me, Lord. Reveal Your Spirit's power within me. Even now, uproot every bitter plant in my soul. Let my words be full of grace and truth, not bitterness and evil. In Jesus' name. Amen.

Possessing the Mind of Christ

By Francis Frangipane

To See as Jesus Sees
"He who is spiritual appraises all things, yet he himself is appraised by no one. For who has known the mind of the Lord, that he will instruct Him? But we have the mind of Christ" (1 Cor. 2:15-16).

This is one of the most staggering statements made in the New Testament. Paul says that it is actually possible to be free of our carnal, jealous, fearful, unbelieving thought-life and, in its place, possess "the mind of Christ"! 

This promise is wonderfully profound.  Indeed, it is one thing to be taught edifying principles and truths about the Lord, yet quite another to actually posses the very thought-life of Christ!  Listen to what Paul says,
"For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so the thoughts of God no one knows except the Spirit of God.

Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may know the things freely given to us by God, which things we also speak, not in words taught by human wisdom, but in those taught by the Spirit, combining spiritual thoughts with spiritual words" (1 Cor. 2:11-13).

When we were born again, we received into our spirits the Spirit of God.  A spiritual man is one in whom God’s Spirit has risen in internal ascendancy. Paul tells us that a spiritual man can discern or appraise all things. It is unfortunate that some versions translate "appraises" with the word judges. Some Christians have actually used the word judges as a green light to become judgmental, which they associate with being spiritual. God does not want us to be judgmental, He wants us to be discerning. Indeed, a spiritual man is one who has renounced a judgmental attitude and, in its place, he possesses a redemptive attitude, which is the mind of Christ.How does Jesus view life? How does He look at the imperfections of our world? Paul taught in Philippians 2:5-8:

"Have this attitude (KJV: "mind") in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God . . . 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 by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross."

Christ's attitude was simple. Jesus saw the fallen, rebellious condition of mankind and then did everything necessary to redeem it. Although the world deserved judgment, He "did not come to judge the world, but to save the world" (John 12:47). And, with this very same motive to spread redemption, He said, "As the Father has sent Me, I also send you" (John 20:21).

The Son of God saw the need of the world and emptied Himself to meet it. He gave up all that was His in the Godhead - His privileges, powers and position as the very form of God - and took the form of man.  Then He humbled Himself further, remaining obedient to death in order to secure our eternal redemption. This is the mind that we are to have in us "which was also in Christ Jesus."

Out of the nature of selfless love emerges the mind of Christ.  The moment we accept that we are called to lay down our lives for others, we are beginning to understand what it means to posses the mind of Christ.  The spiritual man appraises all things: he sees both the need and the answer and he is willing to be a bridge to complete redemption.  The spiritual man possesses discernment: he knows the activity of the human heart, its vulnerability to demonic manipulation, its inability to rise out of woundedness. Knowing God's grace toward himself, he pays the price to see freedom come to another.

Beloved, if your motive is love, if you are guided by hope, if you desire to possess Christlikeness, if you love humility and walk with an unoffendable heart, you will certainly find the thought-life of God.  You are possessing the mind of Christ.

Lord Jesus, how much I want to think like You. Lord, I want to possess Your mind and be moved by Your heart. Grant, Master, that I would receive in a greater way the character and nature of the Holy Spirit, that I might know the thoughts of God toward the world around me. For Your glory I pray. Amen.

A Heart Without Guile

By Francis Frangipane

The promised land for a Christian is a life lived in the fullness of God.  Just as there was an exodus of the Jews from Egypt, so there is an exodus for our human souls, where we leave our bondage to self-deception and truly enter the reality of a Christlike life.  In our exodus, as in Israel’s, self-deception must be exposed and sin must die in the wilderness. Only then are we truly qualified to possess our inheritance.  During this process, we will wrestle with God.  In truth, only those whom God transforms can possess what God has promised.

Every follower of Christ needs to conquer self-deception.  Self-deception protects all our other sins from repentance.  Indeed, how can we "ascend into the hill of the Lord" if we have "lifted up [our] soul to falsehood" or "sworn deceitfully" (Ps. 24:3-4)?

One might argue, "But I know the truth."

Knowing doctrinal truth of what Christ accomplished is absolutely essential, but for us to experience personal transformation, we must possess truth about ourselves.  How shall we change what we cannot see?  This process is not as simple as it seems. For "the heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; who can know it? (Jer. 17:9 NKJV).  We have internal mechanisms that automatically justify our failures and excuse our wrong behavior.  We can see self-deception plainly in others, but are often blind to the deceitfulness of our own hearts.

If I can speak candidly, most people live in strongholds of self-deception. Thus, to be free from deception is a remarkable achievement.  It does not mean we have become perfect, but that we have become capable of seeing where we are imperfect.  It means we can now embrace the process of change.

An Israelite Indeed
A heart free from deceit, beloved, attracts the gaze of God.  It means we are serious concerning our transformation.  Consider Jesus’ words about Nathaniel: "Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile!" (John 1:47). Guile means, "craftiness, deceitful manipulation." In one brief statement our Master described a true Israelite as one in whom there was no guile.

If you are going to become a follower of Jesus Christ, a true Israelite, you will not only learn truths about God, you will discover the truth about yourself.  God will confront you. You may desire only that God would bless you, but instead, you find God poised to fight you.  It is this confrontation, this discipline from God, that validates us as His children (see Heb. 12:5-8).

Perhaps the most obvious example of this divine confrontation is seen in the life of Jacob.  Jacob was a deceiver. His name actually meant supplanter. And, as his name was, so was he. Jacob deceived his brother Esau, trading a bowl of pottage for Esau’s birthright. Jacob also lied to his father, Isaac, in order to defraud Esau of Isaac’s blessing (See Gen. 27:36).

Yet, Jacob was also greatly loved by God; he was called to a singular place of historic significance.  God had visited Jacob in visions, He renewed covenants with him and gave Jacob promises. In modern terminology, Jacob had been "born-again" for nearly thirty years.  He knew the Lord and believed in Him, yet Jacob remained detached from God concerning his sin.

After Jacob deceived Esau and Isaac, he fled to his uncle Laban.  Yet, Laban was a deceiver as well, and ten times over the next twenty years Laban sought to defraud Jacob (see Gen. 31:7).  As distressing as this relationship became, it was part of the dealings of God.  For as Jacob had deceived others, so Laban was dishonest toward him, just as Jesus later taught: "by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you" (Matt. 7:2). God was making Jacob hate deception.

Finally, just as the Lord promised, the time arrived for Jacob to return to his childhood home. Yet, to do so meant Jacob would have to face Esau, whom he had defrauded twice and who intended to kill Jacob. Still, God was orchestrating the events of Jacob’s life.  By divine providence, Esau and 400 armed men with him were approaching the route Jacob was traveling home.

 There is a time when our fears serve the purposes of God, and Jacob was greatly afraid. Indeed, the Lord used Jacob’s fear not only to deal with Jacob’s sin, but to deal with His servant’s nature.  God had given Jacob the promise of prosperity, life and family, but the way to that destiny meant passing through the very thing that threatened it the most: Esau.

As Jacob drew closer to his home, he sent hundreds of livestock ahead to Esau as gifts.  He then brought his encampment to rest, while Jacob remained alone. In this most fearful night, God Himself appeared to Jacob.  But in what manner does the Lord appear? Is He gently cradling Jacob?  Is He reassuring him of His promises? No! The Lord confronts Jacob and wrestles with him.

In this meeting with God two things ultimately happened: the Lord blessed Jacob and then renamed this former deceiver "Israel," Prince of God.   The Angel of the Lord then struck Jacob and dislocated his thigh so that, for the rest of Jacob’s life, he walked with a limp.  Yes, Jacob was blessed, but he was also broken.  Every time Jacob was tempted to rely upon deceit, his limp would remind him that his strength was not in manipulation, but in the Lord.  This is the nature of Israel.

Two Natures
Many of us today are in the exact place Jacob was: we want reassurance and peace.  Yet God is requiring instead that we deal honestly and humbly concerning the areas we were wrong or hurtful in the past.  Many of us think we are wrestling with the devil, but perhaps the One striving with us is God!

You see, two natures exist in us: an old "Jacob" nature and a new nature, blessed and called "Israel" by God.  Just as the oak tree grows in the grave of the acorn, so as we die to self, that which is new rises within us.

Jacob named the place where he wrestled with the Angel, "Peniel," which means "face of God." He said, "I have seen God face to face, yet my life has been preserved" (Gen. 32:30).  The fight had ended. The sun arose and Jacob lifted his eyes.  There on the horizon, standing with his armed men, was Jacob’s greatest fear: Esau.  Jacob sent his servants, maids and wives ahead, each bowing low to the ground before Esau.  Finally, Jacob himself went forward, bowing low to the ground, rising and bowing again seven times before Esau.  As he knelt in repentance before Esau, he called his brother "lord."  Amazingly, Esau ran to Jacob and, for perhaps the first time in their lives, they embraced and wept together (Gen. 33:3-4).

A New Creation
Why didn’t Esau kill Jacob?  Because God already had.  In the twenty years of trials with Laban, in the night wrestling with the Lord, Jacob had died to himself.  The person Esau met was not Jacob, but Israel.  The deceiver was dead - at least, crippled.  When we truly trust God, we do not need self-deception or manipulation to protect us.  Such is the nature of the true Israel.

Beloved, as we reach for our destiny, we may discover that the door to our future lies in our past.  Perhaps there are people we have defrauded or hurt.  It may be a child with whom you were repeatedly impatient or a spouse toward whom you’ve been harsh.  There might be a church where you caused strife and division.  While we should not dig up issues that are truly buried, let us ask the Lord to search us and see if there be any hurtful way within us (Ps. 139: 23-24).

Esau forgave Jacob.  Jacob’s response was profound: "I see your face as one sees the face of God, and you have received me favorably" (Gen. 33:10). In Esau’s acceptance, Jacob sees the very face of God.

Yes, we seek encounters with God, yet there is a time when God will hide behind the face of those we’ve hurt. A time may come when the Lord will resist us until He can reconcile us to our past.

Jesus called Nathaniel "an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile."  All of us begin our journey to God with self-deception in our hearts.  If we will truly become the Israel of God - those who have wrestled with God and prevailed - we must become Israelites indeed, in whom there is no guile.