The Full Price

By Francis Frangipane

King David and the elders of Israel were all dressed in sackcloth. They had come, each lamenting in deep repentance, to a particular mountain overlooking Jerusalem. David had sinned by taking an unauthorized census. His heart had drifted from its abiding trust in God to trusting in the strength and numbers of men. This was a serious rebellion for a man like David. Worse, David's sin had awakened the Lord's wrath and the nation was under severe judgment (see 1 Chron. 21).

Yet, the angel of the Lord appeared to David and his men and instructed them to build an altar to the Lord on a nearby threshing floor. This is not just another passing event in Israel's history; David was about to step into a pivotal moment in the unfolding of God's will in the earth. For this particular mountain was actually Mount Moriah, the very place where centuries earlier Abraham, Israel's ancestral father, came to offer Isaac in an act of supreme worship to God. It is likely that David was actually standing within a short walk of the very place where Abraham would have offered Isaac to God had not the Lord stopped him.

So David isn't standing on just any mountain, but upon Mt. Moriah, where God tested and proved the devotion of His servant (see Genesis 22). Six centuries have passed, and while nothing visible remains of Abraham's altar, the memory of Abraham and Isaac journeying to Moriah in unquestioning worship is a living reality burning brightly in the heart of God.

The Jebusites
When the angel tells David to build an altar on the nearby threshing floor, it must be noted that the land and the threshing floor belong to a man identified as Ornan (1 Chron. 21:18; "Araunah" in 2 Sam. 24:18). Remarkably, Ornan is a Jebusite. He is one of the few surviving Jebusites, who were long-standing enemies of Israel, and he is living outside of Jerusalem on Mt. Moriah.

When David became king, he conquered the Jebusites, captured their chief city, Jebus, and renamed it Jerusalem. Only a few Jebusites still lived in the area; among them is Ornan, who owns the threshing floor next to where David is standing. Ornan was watching King David, along with Israel's elders, as they knelt to the ground before God. Incredibly, this Jebusite also beholds the angel of the Lord, with sword in hand, hovering between heaven and earth.

It must have been an amazing scene. Terrified of both the angel and the king, Ornan creeps out from the threshing floor and bows to the ground before the king, willingly offering to David not only his threshing floor, but also "the oxen for burnt offerings and the threshing sledges for wood and the wheat for the grain offering." Ornan says, "I will give it all" (1 Chron. 21:23). Yet David refused.

Remember, Ornan is a Jebusite, not a Jew. He had no right to this land, especially since God had given it all to Israel, including the land of the Jebusites (see Exodus 13:5). As a conquering king, David could justify taking the threshing floor, yet listen careful to David's words. He is speaking to a Jebusite when he says, "I will surely buy it for the full price; for I will not take what is yours for the Lord, or offer a burnt offering which costs me nothing" (1 Chron. 21:24).

Just like Abraham before him, David will not offer to God that which cost him nothing. He will pay the full price.

The Temple of God
"Then Solomon began to build the house of the Lord in Jerusalem on Mount Moriah, where the Lord had appeared to his father David, at the place that David had prepared on the threshing floor of Ornan the Jebusite" (2 Chron. 3:1).

When Solomon built the temple, he chose this site: the place where Abraham offered Isaac and where David, in sackcloth, paid "the full price." Today, for true Christians, Christ Himself is our temple. Certainly, of all men, Jesus paid "the full price."

Furthermore, through our union with Christ and one another, we too have become a temple of God. Yet, let us not measure ourselves by lowered standards, for God reveals the spiritual DNA of the temple as it manifest in history---in Abraham, in David and in Christ, who all paid the full price of surrender. Such is the standard for us as well.

Beloved, at the revelation of God even the gentile Ornan, a Jebusite, willingly offers his property and, though refused, participates as an example of those who truly become the temple of God.

Today, the spiritual temple of God is being rebuilt in the Messiah, Jesus Christ, and Jew and Gentile are uniting in a holy habitation of the Lord. Yet this unity is not just a gathering of peoples, but an ascending of the nations up the holy hill of the Lord (Ps. 15, 24; Is 2:2). As our forebears exemplified, let us not offer to God that which is superficial or costs us nothing. For Jesus' sake, let us present ourselves to God as a living sacrifice, which is our reasonable service of worship (see Romans 12:1).

In a world intoxicated with self-gratification and deception, I am saying there are costs to becoming Christlike. Let us not offer to God that which is another's nor present to God a sacrifice which costs us nothing. Yes, salvation is free, but to possess Christ's life, let us put away a life of compromise. By the grace of God, let us pay the full price.

Lord Jesus, I desire to be fully given to You. Forgive me for offering borrowed gifts that cost me little. I want to pay the full price. Lord, make me a willing sacrifice. May my life be a true sacrifice, born of Your grace and appropriate in the building of Your house. Amen.


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Grace Works!

By Francis Frangipane

Whether we realize it or not, most Christians of Protestant lineage carry in their doctrinal heritage the revelation of Martin Luther, that "the just shall live by faith." For whatever flaws may have otherwise been in Luther's life, his contribution remains a living revelation in the consciousness of the modern Church.

Today, we know we are saved by grace and justified by faith in the atoning death of Jesus Christ. The Lord's grace remains a consistent, liberating power in our lives. If I fall, grace does not retreat; rather, it lifts me up. If I become virtuous, I know virtue is truly the result of grace working in me.

We must never forget that salvation is the gift of God. As it is written, "For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, that no one should boast" (Eph. 2:8-9).

God knew us before we were born. Before we knew Him, He was working in us in secret, drawing us to Himself. He led us to someone who then helped us find Christ. Of course, we told others that we made a "decision for Jesus," but in truth, it was God who made a decision for us before the foundation of the world.

So, we can thank God in Christ for liberating us from a "works based" salvation, thanking also Paul for explaining grace so well in his epistles, and Luther for persevering to see this great truth restored. It is obvious why "salvation by grace" is the inspiration behind most of our greatest hymns.

Salvation and Good Works
Christ delivered us from a religion about God and brought us into a family fathered by God. We are not working for acceptance or to earn our salvation. Such a difference is profound.

Yet, the revelation that salvation is not based on our works should not be interpreted as though the family of God is a "work-free zone." God has not liberated us from the realm of works, only from self-generated, religious "dead works." As new creations, the Holy Spirit dwells in us in an eternal relationship. His presence is a living reality, capable of speaking to us, inspiring and directing our lives to fulfill God-inspired works.

Thus, just after Paul explained our salvation is not "of works," he writes: "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).

We are not saved by our works, but neither are we saved from works. The truth is, we have been "created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand." So we are saved by faith, but God has a plan for us that requires we work with Him to see it come to pass.

Our destiny doesn’t just happen; it is connected to our fulfilling the "works, which God prepared beforehand." God is producing something in each of us that fits into the grand scheme of His will on earth. It may be a life vocation or a prayer ministry or feeding the poor or developing spiritual gifts or editing for a Christian writer or raising godly children. The list is as endless as it is varied.

But whatever God's will is for us, Paul says, "Work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure" (Phil. 2:12-13).

"God is at work in you." This is such an amazing reality. It does, indeed, inspire fear and trembling, yet it is also the source of great confidence. For if it is God who is working in us, He will soon be working through us. It will look like us working, but it will really be God manifesting His works through us.

You see, our lives are the outworking of God’s grace. Our task is to seek Him, to study His Word, to minister to Him through prayer and worship, and to draw close to Him so we can discern what He is doing in us. Then make His inner working visible through us.

This is exactly how Jesus revealed the Father. He said, ". . . the Father abiding in Me does His works" (John 14:10). Again, "My Father is working until now, and I Myself am working" (John 5:17). And again, "We must work the works of Him who sent Me . . . " (John 9:4).

There should be God-inspired ideas, love-activated thoughts bubbling up into our minds from the redemptive Spirit of God. His inner working will ultimately affect every area of our lives. He will reach to others; He will work through us to reveal Jesus. These are the "good works" that God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.

He whose grace led us to Christ will also conform us to Christ as we obey Him. Yes, grace works!


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Praying for America By Asher Intrater

Asher Intrater is a Jewish believer in Jesus Christ, serving the Messiah in Israel. Asher's perspectives and insights are highly valued in Israel and beyond. He is also personal friend of Pastor Frangipane. Francis has asked us to pass on this urgent prayer request.

Israeli press briefly covered the story of Barak Obama's pastor, Jeremiah Wright of Trinity United Church of Christ, preaching a sermon in which he repeatedly shouted, "God damn America, God damn America!" (There is no word in Hebrew for "damn" and the statement had to be translated as "God curse America".)

It is not my purpose in this article to deal with the political implications of his connections with Obama, nor with the theological issues of "liberation theology," nor even from the question of Obama's personal faith – as he openly professed that he "found Christ" in that church. I would like to approach it from a perspective of prayer: the need for us to be PRAYING FOR America.

The Jewish people were commanded to pray FOR the nation of Babel (Iraq) when they lived there in exile in the 6th century BC – Jeremiah 29. All Christians are called to pray FOR those in authority – I Timothy 2.

Jeremiah 29:7
Seek the peace of the city where I have caused you be carried away captive, and pray to the Lord for it: for in its peace you will have peace.

No doubt it was difficult for the Israelites in Babel to pray for the nation they felt had abused them. Yet in their generation, Babel was the world leader, just as America is the world leader today. Although it seemed to them paradoxical, praying for Babel's well being would result in their well being. So today, America's well-being is still beneficial for most Christians, Jews, and suppressed peoples around the world.

It is easy to feel resentful against America, even for those who live there. The entertainment industry has spread sexual immorality and licentiousness; the people are often over-fed, comfort-worshiping, and self-indulgent. And yet, would you really want a world without America?

America is the only nation that has made a clear stance against Islamic Jihad. It is the only nation that has consistently supported Israel in the U.N. It is the nation which has produced most of the biblical and faith-based literature that is available. It is the nation with the best form of elections, court systems, and law making in the world. (On Friday, Iran held national elections in which all of the candidates who stood for reform against Ahmadinejad's regime were disqualified before the voting began.). America guarantees civil rights and freedom of religious expression more than any nation.

Over the last six months the U.S. dollar has fallen almost 25% on the international market. The majority of Christian charitable organizations, as well as evangelistic missions, receive their financing through the dollar. That means this year all those ministries have effectively lost 25% of their support base.

While most true believers in Yeshua (Jesus) would never voice such harsh statements as Reverend Wright, the spirit of revenge and resentment against America has had a subtle influence on many. Much so called "prayer" or "prophecies" concerning America have been nothing more than complaining and accusations before the throne of God. The result has been an inadvertent cursing of the nation and its leadership. Others have had their prayers simply neutralized, figuring it is just best not to pray for America at all.

I believe it is urgent to pray for America right now. Here are a few key pointers:

1. Moral repentance – May there be a sweep of revival across America, resulting in a sincere turning to God, integrity in government and business, a breaking of the spirits of Jezebel, rebellion and lust, a flourishing of true communities of faith.

2. Politics – May godly and righteous people be elected for the presidency, the Congress, the Senate, governors, mayors and judgeships in this year's election in November 2008. May President Bush have an effective and fruitful last year in office.

3. Economy – May the dollar stabilize and rise again on the international market, and may all the charitable and missionary organizations have their budgets met. May godly men and women arise to prosper in the business world.

4. Military – May there be a clear victory in Iraq, with the international terrorist forces being broken and scattered, with a stable and just government coalition of local Iraqis arising to run the country, and with the return of American troops. (And I personally would hope for Bin Laden to be captured or removed approximately 60 days before the elections in America.)

5. Israel – May the U.S. continue to be a loyal friend to Israel in these End Times. (The Israeli papers were quick to note that Wright's "damning" of America was partially connected to America's support of the State of Israel.)

Note: President Bush and other world leaders will be in Jerusalem for the celebration of Israel's 60th anniversary at the same time as the Global Day of Prayer and "The Call, Jerusalem" scheduled for May 11. (In fact, they will be meeting immediately after us in the same auditorium at the Jerusalem Convention Center.) Perhaps you should plan to come take part in this sacred assembly, or at least take the day to fast and pray together with us.


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A Jealous God

By Francis Frangipane

Have you ever sensed spiritual resistance, as though some power much greater than you was deliberately opposing your success? We often assume it is the devil who is fighting us. Allow me to suggest that, on some occasions, what is standing in your way may not be an enemy at all; it may actually be the jealousy of God.

Is the Almighty jealous for us? Yes. The Lord describes Himself often in the Bible as "a jealous God" (Ex. 20:5, 34:14; Deut. 4:24, 5:9, etc.). We should expect He would be jealous since we have actually been created for His pleasure. While His covering, nurturing love accepts us as we are, a time comes when He begins to confront the false gods, the idols, which rule in our hearts. Indeed, anything in us that denies Him full access to our souls, that stands between our hearts and His, becomes His enemy.

The revelation that His jealousy will fight against our hidden idols can be frightening if we are intent upon sin, yet it can also be liberating if we desire intimacy with Him. For He will not allow us to find enduring fulfillment in something apart from Him.

Listen to His command in Exodus: "Watch yourself that you make no covenant with the inhabitants of the land into which you are going, lest it become a snare in your midst. But rather, you are to tear down their altars and smash their sacred pillars and cut down their Asherim --- for you shall not worship any other god, for the Lord, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God" (Ex. 34:12-14).

Oh, let us hear God's heart in trembling fear. The Lord's very name is Jealous. Jealousy is central to His nature. Indeed, it is an abomination that false gods should occupy our hearts, for we are the temple of God.

A Land Of Idols
Israel committed many sins, but the worst of them involved idol worship; idolatry, beyond all others, tried God's heart. How does that relate to us, you ask? We don't have other gods in our society. Yes, we do. Though they are not standing openly in our city squares (usually), the idols in our land are just as demanding. In fact, our nation is full of false gods that influence both our actions and our thoughts. Since we each were created to worship God in focused purity, God must confront the idols in our hearts. Indeed, from His view idolatry is unfaithfulness.

Recall the Lord's word, "No one can serve two masters." One of the most dominant idols in our culture is obsession with wealth. Even though our currency says "In God We Trust," it is more often the dollar we rely upon, not God. In fact, while billions of the world's poor starve, we are addicted to spending our wealth selfishly upon ourselves.

Jesus said in Matthew 6:24, "You cannot serve (bow before) God and mammon." God, not money, must be our master. If we tithe, give to the poor, and do not let money rule us, wealth can certainly become our servant, and thus a blessing to us and others. But if we allow finances to rule us, mammon can easily become a false God adding stress and greed to our existence. Yet, remember: Jesus did not say we couldn't have money; He said we couldn't serve money. The voice of mammon must be subdued if the Lord alone is to be our Master.

Betrothed To One Lord
Consider the powerful influence that entertainment, sports, fashion and the drive for success and materialism have over American society. If the Lord has to compete with our passions, then we are harboring idols in our hearts. Fear also is a powerful idol that rules many souls, especially during these times.

We must see God's jealousy as His desire to love and shelter us through life. He is without the dark, evil elements that human jealousy has. But even with our finite understanding, we know jealousy is response to unfaithfulness in a loved one. Once human jealousy awakens, it easily can become a consuming fire. If this has happened to you, then you know somewhat how our unfaithfulness affects the Lord's heart. Paul certainly was thinking about this when he wrote, "For I am jealous for you with a godly jealousy; for I betrothed you to one husband, that to Christ I might present you as a pure virgin" (2 Cor. 11:2).

James 4:5 says, "He jealously desires the Spirit which He has made to dwell in us." Yet, James also said, "You adulteresses, do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God." (James 4:4).

The Lord jealously desires our spirit; He calls us into oneness with Him, where we live fearlessly and radiantly as His bride in the earth. Sometimes, as I seek the Lord, I call Him by His name "Jealous." It has a profound effect on my heart. I know He knows me and loves me. As I surrender to Him, I actually advance deeper into the secret chambers of His love. Yet, should I pursue other things at the expense of my time with Him --- even this writing itself --- I feel the fire of His jealousy. I am hemmed in and unable to advance successfully anywhere except toward Him.

The Idol Of Wanton Immorality
We've discussed the idol of mammon and we've mentioned other idols such as fear and worldliness. But let me also speak candidly about another false god: the powerful idol of unbridled sexuality.

Remember, in Exodus 34 we previously read the Lord's command to cut down the Asherim. The Asherim were fertility goddesses worshiped in the ancient pagan countries surrounding Israel. They were demons that had infested human sexuality and perverted it until sex actually became a central object of worship.

Today, in America, we may not have Asherim or fertility poles on the street corners, but certainly the realm of human sexuality has been exploited by the demonic realm. Sexuality is the bait used to sell a myriad of products that, in themselves, have nothing to do with sex. It's a demonic power in our world that is corrupting millions of people.

Let me be very plain: If you're watching movies or looking at other media that glorifies wanton or perverted sexuality, you're serving a demonic idol. My friends, don't compromise with immoral entertainment. Don't compromise with the sensuality that oozes from most of the fashion and music industries. Put an Internet filter on your computer so you won't stumble. Get rid of the cable movie channels that bring immorality into your home. One thing leads to another and you will soon be under the power of a corrupting and addicting influence that will literally consume your soul.

The Lord created sexuality for the purpose of natural reproduction. Reproduction is God's design, yes. But Satan has manipulated God's purpose in order to bind people to their fleshly identity. Once bound, we find ourselves trapped in an almost irresistible and insatiable hunger for increasingly perverse forms of sexuality, none of which have a purpose in reproduction or marriage fulfillment.

Beloved, don't tolerate open doors to immoral filth. Capture the first inclinations toward sensuality, for it leads to seduction and many a life has been destroyed by this idol. Do not "own" perverse thoughts that urge you toward adulterous or homosexual lifestyles. If you fall, get up, repent, and rise again (See Mic. 7:7-8). Remember, God wants you to destroy the idol of wanton sexuality, not have it destroy you. You must be aggressive and stand up and fight!

Before we pray, let's recap: God jealously desires your heart. He is looking for people who are faithful to Him in their spirits. And, He calls us to tear down and destroy the inner idols that hold influence over us.

Lord Jesus, I submit my heart to You. I want a heart free from idols, free from false gods, free from demonic masters. Father, I repent for allowing idols in my heart. In Jesus' name, I take authority over every unclean spirit that has gained access to my life through my compromise. Lord, be Thou the only God who sits in the temple of my heart."


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