George discovers his wealth in friends

George discovers his wealth in friends

At the end of the classic movie It’s a Wonderful Life, Clarence the Angel leaves George Bailey a copy of Mark Twain’s adventure story, Tom Sawyer. Surrounded by scores of friends singing in celebration of Christmas, George smilingly opens the front cover, and we see what Clarence has wisely written: “Remember, no man is a failure who has friends.”

But as I have learned, not all friends are the same. Some friends are more valuable than others. They say that dog’s are a man’s best friend. A People magazine article in 1995 detailed a true story that happened as follows:

Even with the temperature hovering at 35 below zero, dog trainer Jim Gilchrist of Innisfil, Ontario, decided to take his two pets-

Rescured by Tara and Tiree

Rescured by Tara and Tiree

Tara, a Rottweiler, and Tiree, a golden retriever-out for their usual afternoon walk on Feb.24,1995. After passing through the woods, they headed home across frozen Lake Simcoe. But as the dogs bounded ahead, Gilchrist, 61, felt the ice give way. “I was walking along and went ‘pop’ right through,” he recalls. “It happened so fast. I thought, ‘This could be the end.’ “

Hearing her master’s cries, Tara raced over, only to crash through herself. As they thrashed about, Tiree appeared. “All I could think was that she’d meet our same fate,” says Gilchrist. Instead the whining dog crouched on her belly and crawled to the hole. As Gilchrist grabbed Tiree’s collar, Tara scrambled atop his back to jump out of the hole. Then she lay on her belly alongside Tiree so Gilchrist could grab her collar with his other hand. While the 200-pound Gilchrist hung on, the dogs clawed backward until he was safe. “They had every right to run ashore,” says Gilchrist, who, back home, gave his dogs a hot bath. “They risked their lives to save me.”

I hope your best friend is not a dog. I believe that every one of us could tell a story of how a human friend was there for us when we were facing a difficult time. Perhaps you had a very special friend who stuck by you when all your other friends left you or even turned on you.

I have discovered as you probably have, that adversity reveals our true friends. Solomon wrote:

A friend loves at all times, And a brother is born for adversity. Proverbs 17:17 (NKJV)

Solomon was using what we call parallelism to make his point about true friends. The first observation about a friend is explained and expanded by the second statement. So what Solomon is really saying about a true friend is:

  1. A friend is someone who continues to love, and to show that love, whatever the circumstances.
  2. A friend is born for adversity—not his or her adversity, but yours.
    • In other words, the true test of a friend is whether or not he or she is there for you in the bad times, the tough times.
  3. A friend is like a brother—short of death, you can never get rid of him.

Great friends mean a lot. Whether it is a dog that will sacrifice his life for you, or a friend that will always be there for you, our lives are Richer with good friends. Our walk is taller with friends by our side. We are a whole lot braver and bolder when we are with friends.

My Childhood Home at 77th & Roe

My Childhood Home at 77th & Roe

I grew up at 77th & Roe in Prairie Village. From the ages of 9-11 I played all the time with my brother John and Bobby & Chuck Fields. With a couple other friends like Bobby Cox we were a pretty tight group. We played on same baseball teams, etc.

Right behind us there was another group of kids living on Fontana Street. They never bothered us, except this one time. I was swinging in the Fields’ back yard waiting for them to come home. I was by myself that day. I was a runt, sickly asthmatic kid. Well four of the guys on Fontana street crossed the creek and came into their back yard. They pulled me out of the swing as I was swinging, and a big kid set on my while a couple of them kicked me. They didn’t hurt me bad, but I was crying. I kept saying my friends are getting home any minute and they will beat you guys up. They just laughed but not risking anything, they ran to their street. Man I was mad and embarrassed and a little scared. When Chuck & Bobby got home I told em what happened and told them we need to go get those guys. Guess what, they didn’t want to do anything. So I learned an important lesson that day. I needed bigger friends. If I was going to not live in fear I needed bigger friends. So I made friends with this older boy next door. He liked to make model airplanes, so I started to make model airplanes. Tommy & I became good friends. I thought I had a big enough friend who would protect me if I needed it. But one day another kid wanted to see my model airplanes. I brought out my Black Widow bomber so he could see it. He took it, lifted it up and promptly smashed it onto some rocks. When I went over to Tommie’s to get some help getting revenge, he all of a sudden was too sick to come out. I learned that not only did I need a big friend, but I needed a fearless big friend.

Fortunately my teenage years passed quickly without the need for any more fearless big friends (except for one instance in 8th grade but I discovered that running fast was a virtue when confronted by a bully).

A Time of Decision

Time of Decision

Time of Decision

But facing graduation from Shawnee Mission West High School, I realized I needed someone to help me figure out what to do with my life.

I was facing the most important decision of my life-where to go to college, what to major in, what to do with my life. I was pretty worried and anxious about making the right decision. My teachers and my friends all said I should be a lawyer because I was good at debate. Plus they made a lot of money. So I applied and was accepted at Washburn and planned on a pre-law degree, with Law School after that.

When I was about 13, I had started a friendship with the biggest Friend I could find. His name was God. I read His Word at times, talked to Him at times, went to youth group, but I wasn’t getting His advice on what to do with my life.

At a youth rally at High Street Baptist Church in July of 1971, 30 days before I was to start Washburn, I heard a Sermon by Dr Elmer Towns at High Street Baptist Church. All I remember was that God wanted us to give Him our whole life. God is not happy being a sometimes friend. He is the Big Friend that wants us to trust Him completely. He is such a friend that He gave His only son, Jesus so that our sins can be forgiven, and we can have a deep personal relationship with this awesome Father and Friend.

I decided that I needed this Biggest Friend God, and that I needed to trust Him with my whole life. But the way was through His Son. He had given His Son for me on the cross, and I could totally trust my life in His hands. So I gave my life to Jesus. Jesus was the one who had set His face like a flint to the Cross, to hang there with my sins on His back. He was and is that fearless friend I had been searching for. He had fearlessly given His life for me! He had fearlessly given up everything for me!

After I laid my fears and worries at the altar and given everything in my life to Jesus, to let Him be Lord and King of my life, He made some dramatic changes. Those changes came about because I realized some amazing things about my new Fearless Big Friend. Those Truth’s are in Isaiah 41:10.

‘Do not fear, for I am with you; Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand. ‘ Isaiah 41:10 (NASB)

There are Five Tremendous Pillars that Demonstrate how awesome is this Big Fearless Friend:

The Five Pillars of GOD’S FEARLESS FRIENDSHIP: Isa 41:10

  1. God is with me—”Do not fear, for I am with you.”
  2. God is my God —”Do not look anxiously about you, for I am your God.”
  3. God is my strength — “I will strengthen you.”
  4. God is my help — “Surely I will help you.”
  5. God upholds me —”Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.”

Two Benefits of a having a big Fearless Friend

I discovered there are two benefits of having God as my Fearless Friend. They are stated at the very beginning of this verse:

  • “Fear not”
  • “do not anxiously look about you” (RSV: “do not be dismayed”).

Dismayed: “destroy your courage or resolve. Something causes you to lose enthusiasm, to be disillusioned”. That is exactly what happened to Peter. He took his eyes off His Fearless Friend, started looking at the wind and lost his courage, his resolve to keep walking.

You may not be trying to walk on water, but there may be some Christians here who have become disillusioned with Jesus. You may have lost your courage, your resolve, your enthusiasm in walking this Christian life. You have experienced hurts or broken promises or deception and you have taken your eyes off this fearless friend.

Never Give In

Never Give In

There have been times in my life that have been hard to accept, hard to take. I have even tried to walk away from my Fearless Friend, but these Five Truths kept coming back to me. Perhaps we need to look at them in light of what Winston Churchill said:

On October 29, 1941, Great Britain Prime Minister Winston Churchill visited Harrow School to speak to the students. Toward the end of his 4 minute speech he said this: “Never give in. Never give in. Never, never, never, never–in nothing, great or small, large or petty–never give in, except to convictions of honor”

We must never give in to fear, we must never give in to discouragement. We must never give in to apathy and disillusionment. We must never, never lose our heart for our Fearless Friend. We need to gaze long into the face of our Fearless Friend. When everyone around you is becoming fearful for the future, disillusioned with our government and leaders, we need to remind ourselves that JESUS IS STILL OUR FEARLESS FRIEND and HE STILL REIGNS ON HIGH!

We need to make Isaiah 41:10 the foundation of our walk with Christ, and combine it with the words of Winston Churchill:

Never Give in. . . God is With You!

The LORD your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing.” Zephaniah 3:17 (NIV)

No matter what you are facing, whatever the obstacle or diagnosis or hardship, with Jesus Christ in your heart, God is always with You.

  • He has made us accepted in the Beloved (Eph 1:6)
  • Christ is in you, the hope of Glory (Col 1:27)
  • Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. 1 John 4:15 (NKJV)
  • Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you? 1 Corinthians 3:16 (ESV)
Statue of Paderewski

Statue of Paderewski

A mother, wishing to encourage her son’s progress at the piano, bought tickets for a Paderewski performance. They found their seats near the front of the concert hall. The mother found a friend to talk to and the boy slipped away.

When eight o’clock arrived, the spotlights came on, and only then did they notice the boy on the piano bench innocently picking out “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star.”

The master appeared on the stage and quickly moved to the keyboard. “Don’t quit—keep playing,” he whispered to the boy. Leaning over, Paderewski reached down with his left hand and began filling in a bass part. Soon his right arm reached around the other side, encircling the child, to add a running obligato. Together, the old master and the young novice held the crowd mesmerized.

In our lives, unpolished though we may be, it is the master who surrounds us and whispers in our ear, “Don’t quit—keep playing.” And as we do, he augments and supplements until a work of amazing beauty is created.

Never Give in. . . God is Your God!

Solomon Dedicates the Temple

Solomon Dedicates the Temple

We must each have a deep sense of God’s presence in our lives, THE GOD who is El Elyon, who reigns from on high! Each of these significant servants of God had this signature realization:

SOLOMON:

and said, “O Lord, God of Israel, there is no God like you, in heaven above or on earth beneath, keeping covenant and showing steadfast love to your servants who walk before you with all their heart, 1 Kings 8:23 (ESV)

David:

Who is like the Lord our God, who is seated on high, Psalms 113:5 (ESV)

Jeremiah:

No one is like you, O LORD; you are great, and your name is mighty in power. Jeremiah 10:6 (NIV)

PAUL:

If God is for us, who can be against us? Romans 8:31 (NIV)

Never Give in. . . God is Your Strength!

David Strengthened in Ziklag

David Strengthened in Ziklag

For almost 10 years David had been on the run from King Saul. 600 Mighty men surrounded David, fought with him, defended him. With no where else to go David joined King Achish of the Philistines. He and his men pretended to war against Israel but secretly raided the Amalekites, enemies of Israel. The othe Philistine Lords were suspicious, and when preparing to go to war against King Saul, sent David away, back to his home in Ziklag.

3 And when David and his men came to the city, they found it burned with fire, and their wives and sons and daughters taken captive. 4 Then David and the people who were with him raised their voices and wept, until they had no more strength to weep. 5 David’s two wives also had been taken captive, Ahin’o-am of Jezreel, and Ab’igail the widow of Nabal of Carmel. 6 And David was greatly distressed; for the people spoke of stoning him, because all the people were bitter in soul, each for his sons and daughters. But David strengthened himself in the LORD his God. 1 Samuel 30:3-6 (RSV)

Never Give in. . . God is Your Help!

God is our refuge and strength, A very present help in trouble. Psalms 46:1 (NKJV)

39 But the salvation of the righteous is from the Lord; He is their strength in the time of trouble. 40 And the Lord shall help them and deliver them; He shall deliver them from the wicked, And save them, Because they trust in Him. Psalms 37:39-40 (NKJV)

Praying Troops in Iraq

Praying Troops in Iraq

The threat of war is having a positive impact on soldiers preparing for conflict with Iraq. On a recent Sunday morning, eight young men approached the altar in a canvas church, received blessings from a chaplain, and were baptized in a freshly dug pool. They emerged to applause from their fellow Marines.

Makeshift chapels throughout Kuwait’s military camps and logistics bases have been jammed with worshippers as the threat of war grows. Many of the men have not entered a church back home in years.

Some troops say this “foxhole religion: is critical to their preparation for war, saying it provides confidence that they will be protected if called upon to fight and faith that their mission is just.” Lance Corporal Matthew Haugan from California was one of those recently baptized, Haugan says, “After today, I feel more ready to cross the border. This is better armor than anything the Marine Corps could give me. I feel better about myself than I ever have, and I know God will be looking out for me.”

Army Chaplain Keith Kilgore, a Southern Baptist minister, said, “It’s the best ministry I’ve ever had. When soldiers are about to face combat, they start getting spiritual. They want to get right with God.” Priest Bill Devine adds, “Their experiences over here will change them, and if that includes bringing God more into the picture, so much the better.” —www.washingtonpost.com, In Kuwait, Baptism Before the Gunfire, By Jonathan Finer and Peter Baker, February 28, 2003. Submitted by Jim Sandell.

Never Give in. . . God Upholds You!

David Anointed by Saul

David Anointed by Saul

Has there ever been a time in your life when you had that feeling you were drowning, or you were being buried alive in problems. A young David, found himself being anointed with oil to be the next King of Israel by Samuel. In only a couple of years he found himself running for his life, hiding in cold, wet, clammy caves. Once, while hiding in a cave, he could hear King Saul and his men outside. He had nowhere else to run. He was trapped. To see how David reacted we read Psalm 57: A michtam of David when he fled from Saul into the cave:

Be merciful to me, O God, be merciful to me! For my soul trusts in You; And in the shadow of Your wings I will make my refuge, Until these calamities have passed by. 2 I will cry out to God Most High, To God who performs all things for me. 3 He shall send from heaven and save me; He reproaches the one who would swallow me up. Selah God shall send forth His mercy and His truth. 4 My soul is among lions; I lie among the sons of men Who are set on fire, Whose teeth are spears and arrows, And their tongue a sharp sword. 5 Be exalted, O God, above the heavens; Let Your glory be above all the earth. 6 They have prepared a net for my steps; My soul is bowed down; They have dug a pit before me; Into the midst of it they themselves have fallen. Selah 7 My heart is steadfast, O God, my heart is steadfast; I will sing and give praise. 8 Awake, my glory! Awake, lute and harp! I will awaken the dawn. 9 I will praise You, O Lord, among the peoples; I will sing to You among the nations. 10 For Your mercy reaches unto the heavens, And Your truth unto the clouds. 11 Be exalted, O God, above the heavens; Let Your glory be above all the earth. Psalms 57:1-11 (NKJV)

David could have prayed for Saul’s death, for the problem to go away, for God to do as He said and make him King. But that is not what David prayed. He cried out to God “Be exalted O God” not just once, but twice. He put God before him and what he wanted, and those problems he had. God was first. God’s will was first. God’s Glory was first.

What is the problem facing you? Perhaps they are many. Cry out to God for His Glory in your life and in your problem. See that He upholds you by the power of His hand. You’ve got to let go of what you are clinging to, and cling to Him! Put God between your problems and you. Cling to HIM!

In Isaiah 41:13 God re-emphasizes – “For I am the Lord your God, who upholds your right hand, Who says to you, ‘Do not fear, I will help you.’

Jesus is Your Fearless Friend

Jesus is Your Fearless Friend

Jesus is Your Fearless Friend

Sure God is fearless. Who does He have to be afraid of. Is He so big that you can’t relate to Him? That is why he sent His Son. His Son wasn’t afraid to face Satan without His divine powers./ He was clothed in weak flesh. He was just like you and me. Yet He had no fear! He went to the cross with love for you in His heart, and your sins on His bloodied and broken back.

Jesus says You have seen me, you have seen the Father. I and the Father are one. I am the way the truth and the life, no man comes to the Father but by me.

If we see Jesus Christ in Isaiah 41:10, we find that Jesus is Five relations to us expressed in five different prepositions:

  • I am your God—over you.
  • I am with you—by your side.
  • I will strengthen you—from inside of you.
  • I will help you—all around you from wherever the enemy comes.
  • I will uphold you—from underneath you.

Over you, by you, inside you, around you, underneath you.

Footprints in the Sand

Footprints in the Sand

Our Fearless Friend Jesus is pictured so beautifully in this famous poem:

One night I dreamed I was walking along the beach with the Lord. Many scenes from my life flashed across the sky. In each scene I noticed footprints in the sand. Sometimes there were two sets of footprints, other times there were one set of footprints. This bothered me because I noticed that during the low periods of my life, when I was suffering from anguish, sorrow or defeat, I could see only one set of footprints. So I said to the Lord, You promised me Lord, that if I followed you, you would walk with me always. But I have noticed that during the most trying periods of my life there have only been one set of footprints in the sand. Why, when I needed you most, you have not been there for me?” The Lord replied, The times when you have seen only one set of footprints in the sand, is when I carried you.”Mary Stevenson

Jesus as our Big Fearless Friend is also pictured in these words by the Apostle Paul:

“that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height–to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.” Ephesians 3:17-19 (NKJV)

Norman Vincent Peale relates the telling words of a surgeon:

The [operation] that meant the most to me was the time I operated on a little girl who was given only a ten percent chance of survival. She was such a sweet little thing, and so pale when they brought her into the operating room. …As the nurses were preparing to administer the anesthetic to this little girl, she asked, “Doctor, may I say something?” “Yes, honey,” I replied. “What is it?” “Well,” she said, “every night when I go to bed I say my prayers, and I’d like to say a prayer now.” “That’s all right, honey, please say your prayer, and think of me, too, won’t you?”

She Prays for the Doctor

She Prays for the Doctor

In a sweet voice she prayed, “Jesus, tender Shepherd, hear me, Bless thy little lamb tonight; Through the darkness be thou near me: Keep me safe till morning light.” “And, dear Jesus, please bless the doctor.” Then she added brightly, “I’m ready now. And I’m not afraid, because Jesus loves me and He is right here with me and is going to bring me through okay.”

I was blinded by my tears. I had to turn away and occupy myself with another wash up before I could start the operation. And I said, “Dear God, if You never help me save another human being, help me save this little girl.” I operated on her and the miracle happened. She lived! Leaving the hospital that day, I realized that I was the one who had been operated on, not the girl. She taught me that if I take all my problems and put them in the hands of Jesus, He will see me through.

Oh, for the faith of a child! Lord grant that each one of us would walk so closely and trust so fully in Him!


Does America have a Reprobate Mind?

The free online dictionary defines reprobate as 1. Morally unprincipled; shameless. 2. Rejected by God and without hope of salvation.

As I talk to many different people in the heartland, there is an overwhelming sense that America is headed for trouble. I am not sensing a great deal of optimism over the prospects of America economically, morally or spiritually. Of course much of this sentiment comes from the baby boomers who are now aged and into or close to retirement. Most of them are fearful over this upcoming election. They fear the unknown of Obama and dread the prospects of more of the same with McCain. That is why I’m thrilled at the energy Palin has brought to this election. Not so much politically. But she has electrified a renewed moral outlook in middle America. Her conservative stands have polarized a “silent majority” to use a forgotten overplayed catchphrase. I believe the forgotten element in this campaign is uprightness. America has been heading toward a cesspool of reprobation and middle America feels powerless to stop it.

Palin is Top Dog

Palin is Top Dog

All of a sudden a woman with fire and guts and passion stands up and speaks out and middle America is energized and sees a ray of hope for America. Sarah Palin is even getting top billing in some places. I visited a diehard union ironworker who has voted Democratic for 40 years. He said because of Palin he is voting Republican this election. He said most of his buddies were too. People in middle-America are concerned about righteousness being lost in America. They fear for their grand-children. Am I imagining America’s downturn toward reprobation?

No.

Not shocking any more

Not shocking any more

Look around you. Any cursory comparison of America in the 60’s with America today sees a churning of America’s moral values to the point that what was once considered shocking is now accepted and even approved.

Making fun of Reprobation

Making fun of Reprobation

This is the very result of having a REPROBATE mind that Paul described in Romans 1:18-28. I here use the easier to understand JB Phillips translation. My commentary is in blue.

ROMANS 1:18 Now the holy anger of God is disclosed from Heaven against the godlessness and evil of those men who render truth dumb and inoperative by their wickedness. It is not that they do not know the truth about God; indeed he has made it quite plain to them.

Here Paul states that people know the truth, even plainly, but they have rendered it dumb and inoperative by their wicked behavior.

For since the beginning of the world the invisible attributes of God, e.g. his eternal power and divinity, have been plainly discernible through things which he has made and which are commonly seen and known, thus leaving these men without a rag of excuse. They knew all the time that there is a God, yet they refused to acknowledge him as such, or to thank him for what he is or does.

People who are turned upside down in their thinking refuse to acknowledge God as God and furthermore, refuse to thank Him for being God and loving them the way He does.

Thus they became fatuous (foolish, inappropriate, and showing no thought) in their argumentations, and plunged their silly minds still further into the dark.

They argue stupidly and vainly against God and His Word. Their silly minds become darker and sillier.

19 20 21 22 Behind a facade of “wisdom” they became just fools, fools who would exchange the glory of the eternal God for an imitation image of a mortal man, or of creatures that run or fly or crawl. 23 24 They gave up God:

These reprobates believe they are wise, because their thinking is “upside down”. Instead of wise they are now fools, worshipping things, or their pet idols or belief’s. They give up on the True God Jehovah.

and therefore God gave them up – to be the playthings of their own foul desires in dishonouring their own bodies.

God gives up on them up, allowing their foul desires to become addictive to the point of dishonoring their bodies. Life becomes a game with no real meaning or purpose.

25 These men deliberately forfeited the truth of God and accepted a lie, paying homage and giving service to the creature instead of to the Creator, who alone is worthy to be worshipped forever and ever, amen. God therefore handed them over to disgraceful passions.

These people no longer know the truth of God. They can’t even begin to comprehend it, so “upside down” are their minds. They are prey for liars and deceivers. God hands them over to be dominated and controlled by their sinful and unrighteous passions.

Their women exchanged the normal practices of sexual intercourse for something which is abnormal and unnatural. Similarly the men, turning from natural intercourse with women, were swept into lustful passions for one another. Men with men performed these shameful horrors, receiving, of course, in their own personalities the consequences of sexual perversity.

Sinful perversions warp the personalities of the reprobate. They are no longer in control of their mind, will and emotions.

26 27 28 Moreover, since they considered themselves too high and mighty to acknowledge God, he allowed them to become the slaves of their degenerate minds, and to perform unmentionable deeds. They became filled with wickedness, rottenness, greed and malice; their minds became steeped in envy, murder, quarrelsomeness, deceitfulness and spite. They became whisperers-behind-doors, stabbers-in-the-back, God-haters; they overflowed with insolent pride and boastfulness, and their minds teemed with diabolical invention. They scoffed at duty to parents, they mocked at learning, recognised no obligations of honour, lost all natural affection, and had no use for mercy.

Reprobates are slaves of their degenerate (upside down) minds.

More than this – being well aware of God’s pronouncement that all who do these things deserve to die, they not only continued their own practices, but did not hesitate to give their thorough approval to others who did the same. Romans 1:18-28 (Phillips NT)

Reprobate minds have no shame over their actions, no matter how vile, and in fact give approval to others who do the same things.

If Sarah Palin has done anything, she has served to mobilize those in middle-America who still see God clearly, still honor His Word, still honor morality and life. Perhaps greater America will follow middle-America and return to those values that have made America Great!


Moses Parts Red SeaGod is described in the Old Testament as El GibborThe Mighty God. Moses called Him Gibbor as he was encouraging the stubborn Israelites to submit to the God of Gods and Lord of Lords.

“For the LORD your God is God of gods, and Lord of lords, a great God, a mighty (Gibbor), and a terrible, which regardeth not persons, nor taketh reward: He doth execute the judgment of the fatherless and widow, and loveth the stranger, in giving him food and raiment. (Deut 10:17-18) Moses prefaced this revelation of God’s Might with this exhortation: Circumcise therefore the foreskin of your heart, and be no more stiff-necked (STUBBORN).”(Deut 10:16)

Certainly the Israelites saw His Might and Power when God delivered them from the clutches of the mightiest ruler on Earth – Pharaoh. Not only did God deliver them, but He rescued them by a Mighty Miracle that ended in the destruction of Pharaoh and his mighty army.

Moses had discovered that our view of God’s Might directly influences whether we submit or rebel.

Moses wanted his people to see God’s Power and hopefully soften their stubborn heart towards Him. He assumed that they had seen His power and would submit to God’s commands. He even wrote: “But your eyes have seen all the great acts of the LORD which he did. Therefore shall ye keep all the commandments which I command you this day, that ye may be strong, and go in and possess the land, whither ye go to possess it;” (Deut 11:7-8)

Golden Calf of RebellionWhat is so amazing is how the Jews continued their stubborn, selfish, whining ways. They had witnessed the greatest miracle of all time and still they were stubbornly resolved NOT to submit to God. They were in TOTAL DENIAL of EL GIBBOR. They had to learn a horrible lesson.

When we humble ourselves to the Mighty God, we actually become strong. When we rebel and stiffen our neck to His will, we become weak, we become lost. Just like the Hebrews who wandered in the wilderness for 40 years. They became weak and died off, for God would not allow them to find His rest in the Promised Land.

James reveals this secret to success in these New Testament verses:

Humble before God

Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded. Be afflicted, and mourn, and weep: let your laughter be turned to mourning, and your joy to heaviness. Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up. (Jas 4:7-10)

How do you view God? Is He weak and powerless? Then so will your life be! Is He Strong and Mighty? Then humble yourself before Him and He will make you strong! You shall be as the Gibborim – David’s Mighty Men!

women are powerfulIn preaching through 1 Peter, I find myself staring at chapter 3 and wondering how I can possibly make it relevant to 21st Century American women. I know that most women under the age of 40 will hear these verses and inwardly think, “no way…, you don’t know the man I’m married to” or “if I do that I will be taken so taken advantage of.” These verses run so counter to what schools and media portray to girls and young women that I thought it would be best to re-write the Scriptures to reflect how most American women are taught to think. If you think I am wrong, let me know, but I think this is very accurate. The bullet point is the verse restated in 21st Century societal practice.  woman power

1 Peter 3:1-6

(1)  Likewise, wives, be subject to your own husbands, so that even if some do not obey the word, they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives,

  • Likewise wives, get along with your husbands, as long as they obey the Word, and do not interfere with your rights,be a woman a man needs

(2)  when they see your respectful and pure conduct.

  • for they must earn your respect and will be treated as they treat you.

(3)  Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear—

  • Keep up with all the latest fashions, for you must present a visually successful and attractive image to influence others and keep your husband’s attention.

Woman wth meek and queit spirit(4)  but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious.

(5)  For this is how the holy women who hoped in God used to adorn themselves, by submitting to their own husbands,

  • And remember this is the 21st century, and women have been empowered to lead and succeed, and no longer have to follow behind men. Your power to succeed is within you.

Sarah called Abraham Lord(6)  as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord. And you are her children, if you do good and do not fear anything that is frightening.

    • You no longer have to follow antiquated stereotypes, for you have the power to be your own woman. In marriage as in life, view yourself equal to men

    • So, you think I am being ridiculous? No, the idea of a 21st Century American woman being a “Sarah” and calling her husband “Lord” is ridiculous to 98% of Christian woman. This notion is laughed out of Evangelical churches. Perhaps “Godly Women” give it lip service, but in reality this is a foreign idea in modern America. Woman who follow this are looked down upon with scorn and even derision. So how does a Pastor teach this with authority and application that makes sense in modern America? He can’t without sounding either crazy or chauvinistic. However, I believe there is a way to teach 1 Peter 3 so it makes sense to a modern woman. In order to do so, we must view these verses in light of the “template” that Peter wants us to place over these verses. It is a template that came to frame his whole way of living. Stay tuned…resilient woman

      woman has to fight for it

 

woman or power

  • WE CAN DO IT WOMAN POWER

  •  

SendintheClown23It is a sad day when our freedom of speech is trampled upon in the media. It seems that we are losing more freedoms every day. I don’t understand it. George Bush was lampooned with vitriol, and no one raised a fuss. But now a rodeo clown makes fun of President Obama, and he is vilified as if he was depicting the Prophet Mohammed (that’s another issue). Wear a mask of Jesus Christ and no one bats an eyebrow. We need to express outrage at the loss of freedom that this represents, and once again be proud of a nation that allows open dissension and even Fred Phelps. It is OK to be an idiot in America! It may not be wise, but at least we respect your right of freedom of speech. 

If you want to declare your right of free speech, here is a good T-shirt to wear…Order Here

Sendintheclownshirt


LAND OF THE FREE HOME OF THE BRAVE_2532The fourth of July is our national holiday, a day set aside to celebrate our independence from British rule over 230 years ago. Our nation has come a long way. We have surpassed Great Britain in every way. Our founding Fathers prayed before a God whom they referred to as “Sovereign.” Their allegiance was to this Sovereign God, not to the sovereign King of Great Britain. They refused his laws and the Revolutionary War began. America became a great and mighty Nation, yet this morning as I think about celebrating the 4th, I am troubled at what my America has become.

We have always been known as the land of the Free, home of the Brave! We have those words in our National Anthem. Are we really free? Are we really brave? All the revelations of spying and malfeasance by government organizations sends shivers down my back. How can we be free when the level of spying by our government touches the very keyboards we type on, the very cell phones we text on? Anyone brave enough to decry such indecencies is branded a traitor and pursued as an enemy of the state. A few congressmen show outrage but then quiet down as soon as they discover that the vast majority of Americans simply don’t care. So what is the reply I hear the most. Ho Him! Now who won the game? Tell me something really important.

police-state-USA-2

I understand how the Anti-Christ will be able to take control. I understand how he will be able to control purchasing and travel. We will all have been conditioned into letting the government do whatever it needs to do to “protect our safety.” Every ounce of bravery that could possibly lead to a Revolution will have been sucked out of every American man, woman, boy and girl. Our government has become so obtrusive into our daily lives that we have sacrificed our bravery and our freedom for the comforts of ‘security’ and ‘provision.’

The truth is that this Sovereign God whom our founding Fathers worshipped is no longer important to the ideals and purposes of our National leaders. In fact, in the secret chambers, I believe Psalm 83:5 is coming true: “For they conspire with one accord; against you they make a covenant…” The America I knew as a little boy is no more. The America Abraham Lincoln knew is no more. The America George Washington envisioned has vanished into the vapor of expediency, comfort and control. We have exchanged our bravery for comfort, and surrendered our freedom for security. We have sacrificed our Sovereign God to the control of godless leaders.

Is there any wonder that Jesus said, “When the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on earth?” I fear the only faith He will find will be the mis-placed faith we place in our godless leaders. Faith that has slowly, but willingly, given up our freedom.

Mel Gibson as William Wallace wearing woad.

Mel Gibson as William Wallace wearing woad. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

As William Wallace said in Braveheart:  “Aye, fight and you may die, run, and you’ll live… at least a while. And dying in your beds, many years from now, would you be willin’ to trade all of that from this day to that, for one chance, just one chance, to come back here and tell our enemies that they may take away our lives, but they’ll never take our freeeedoooomm.”

Sorry Bill, but they have taken our freedom, our lives, our courage and most of all, our spirit. That fierce Revolutionary spirit that would rather die than surrender its freedom to tyranny has been slowly sucked from the soul of Americans. We may feel more secure, but it is a security that leaves us empty, devoid of character, resolve and courage. We have become a soulless nation. Happy (in)dependence day…dependence on government.


PerfeHebrews 12 What makes the course worth runningction

And all these, though commended through their faith, did not receive what was promised, since God had provided something better for us, that apart from us they should not be made perfect[1]. Hebrews 11:39-40

  • teleióō; complete, mature. To complete, make perfect by reaching the intended goal.

Gods Purpose for us is Sonship by FaithWhat makes us perfect? Why did the Old Testament Heroes of faith have to wait on us to be made perfect?

Becasue they could not have Sonship until the Only Begotten Son had proven Himself to be the perfect Son! God’s purpose for our lives is to live as Sons by Faith. Faith will bring us to the perfection God has in mind for us-Sonship. In order for that to happen, we must agree to run the course God has for us, and run it not in the flesh, but by Faith in Jesus Christ and His power for life!

Faith Brings us to Perfection

Faith is essential to making us perfect! Faith is more than a belief. It is belief that expresses itself in two essential life changing components – the hope for God arising from need, and the resulting desire to demonstrate the reality of God’s Kingdom in our daily living. (Hebrews 11:1,6)

Faith in God has always been Essential

Faith Makes You PerfectGod wanted his people to realize the importance of living by faith. He outlined a life of faith in the first five books of the Bible. He gave them a way of living that He hoped would lead them to live a life of faith, and they turned it into a burdensome set of rules and laws. There was no demonstration of the supernatural reality of God’s Kingdom. Their obedience was not relationship based but a fleshly fear and tradition religious observance. There was no faith that arose from a heart-felt need for this loving and awesome invisible God. God’s Kingdom became a list of physical chores that was impossible to complete in the flesh. Their lives failed to demonstrate the invisible God who desires to walk and live among us. The Jews followed a religion as best they could in their own strength, and in so doing lost sight of the power of this awesome invisible God. The God of Awesome Power became a God of the past to the generations who followed. They grew up hearing, but no longer saw for themselves.

We have heard with our ears, O God, our fathers have told us, what work thou didst in their days, in the times of old. Psalm 44:1

A few verses from Leviticus (26:1-4) illustrate God’s heart for His people and His desire for them to understand the need for living by faith:

“You shall not make idols for yourselves or erect an image or pillar, and you shall not set up a figured stone in your land to bow down to it, for I am the LORD your God.”

1. I am the only God that can meet all your needs. I am invisible, and there is no image that can adequately express me. Your lives are the means of my expression.

“You shall keep my Sabbaths and reverence my sanctuary: I am the LORD.”

2. Simply demonstrate my reality by doing something the whole world will be in awe at: observe the Sabbath, and reverence my sanctuary as if I was really there (I AM). (Understand that most heathen places of worship were anything but reverential)

“If you walk in my statutes and observe my commandments and do them,”

3. Follow the Way, the Truth and the Life (Need for Jesus Christ)

  1. Walk in (He is the Way)
  2. Observe my (His Word is the Truth for our living)
  3. Do them (His life is to be our daily life)

Their lives were to be lived in the power of God’s Word and God’s Way. His Word contained designs for living that would do miraculous things in their health, finances and safety, far beyond their fleshly abilities. God wanted them to live in full need of His provision and power.

“Then I will give you your rains in their season, and the land shall yield its increase, and the trees of the field shall yield their fruit.” Leviticus 26:1-4

4. I Will…

  1. If the people’s faith led them to live lives in demonstration of His reality, God would do amazing things.
  2. The picture contained in the verses paint a portrait of the Garden of Eden (although tainted by sin)
  3. God would walk among His people because they were living representatives of His Kingdom.

Why did the Jews fail to see God’s desire for a relationship in His Law? Why did they turn God’s design for relationship into a religion of burdensome laws that failed to reproduce God’s life in them?

Failure of the Law

The failure was the Law. Hebrews 8:7 says it was flawed. It contained the elements of a relationship, but made no provision for a fundamental change in the heart. This was critical, because this relationship with God is not a matter of fleshly obedience. As Paul says:

For no one is a Jew who is merely one outwardly, nor is circumcision outward and physical. But a Jew is one inwardly, and circumcision is a matter of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter. Romans 2:28-29

Life Changing Faith Requires a New Heart

Christ ministers a New HeartFor faith to be life-changing, there must be a provision for a changed heart. The flesh with all of its desires and corruption is too much to overcome. The power of the flesh had to be destroyed.

This was accomplished once and for all by Jesus Christ. He overcame all! He became the living power behind the “Way, Truth and Life” request of Leviticus 26:3. Instead of God waiting upon man to “walk, observe and do” before “He will”, God acted and gave us His Son as our “Way, Truth and Life.” (John 14:6)

Through the gift of the Holy Spirit, we now have the promise of a new heart, a heart that has the power to “walk, observe and do…”(from Lev 26:3). We have the power of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:39) and the promise that we are no longer servants of sin and the flesh (Romans 6:6-7). The power of Satan has been completely destroyed (1 John 3:8). This is why Paul can confidently assure us:

„ and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. Romans 5:5

„ But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, Romans 6:17

The success of our living by faith and enjoying a supernatural relationship with an invisible God depends totally upon having a new heart! The writer of Hebrews confirms this when he illustrates the power of the New Covenant in Jesus Christ:

For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my laws into their minds, and write them on their hearts, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. And they shall not teach, each one his neighbor and each one his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest. Hebrews 8:7-11

Once more Paul brings this home in Galatians.

For neither circumcision counts for anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creation. Galatians 6:15

Our works do not matter unless they come from a new heart created by the new birth of the Holy Spirit. Faith is the only means of pleasing God (Heb 11:6), for faith alone is the transformative power whereby we are declared righteous (Heb 11:7,Rom 4:3), declared justified (Rom 5:1) and declared to be God’s Son (Gal 3:26).

Ridderbos has this to say on the connection between faith and the entire Christian life:

“One can conclude nothing other than that faith is the way in which, having died and risen with Christ, life through the Spirit, putting on the new man, being renewed after the image of Christ, regeneration, in short, the new creation of God, is realized and individualized.”[2]

So it is by faith that we walk in God, observe His design and do His will. It is by faith that we have life that is overcoming and eternal. Faith is the victory that overcomes the world (1 John 5:4).

Sonship is God’s Design of Perfection for Us!

Perfection is SonshipGod is bringing all who by faith give their lives to His Son for His intended Goal and that is complete Sonship.

to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God. Galatians 4:5-7

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption[i] as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. Ephesians 1:3-6

God’s design and plan for all born again believers is achieve “toga virilis” status in the Kingdom. “Toga virilis” was the ceremony whereby the father declared his boy to be a true “Son”, a man, mature, able to vote and conduct business on the father’s behalf. Indeed, the son was to be regarded as an extension of the father. The son was to be the manager and heir of the father’s estate. All that the father had was the sons. A father could even go outside the family if he did not think his boys were worthy. He could ‘adopt’ another young man and place him as the Son to manage his goods and inherit everything.

We are to be worthy heirs of all that is His, placed as Sons by His grace. Sons who will reign as Priests with the authority of Jesus Christ over the New Heaven and New Earth, which will be joined, for the desire of God dwelling with man will be realized for all eternity. Paradise will be found, for Christ has secured the “Title Deed” to the Earth (Rev 5:1-11)!

Fulfilling God’s Design to receive adoption as sons is why Hebrews 12:1 & 2 are so important. There is a great deal at stake in our completing the course. Following Christ and being conformed to His likeness as Sons is not a leisurely stroll. It is not a 50 meter dash. It is not a onetime confession you make as a youth. Attaining the Adoption and “toga virilis” status of Sonship is a life-long journey that requires endurance and a faith commitment to Jesus Christ.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfector of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. Hebrews 12:1-2

Hebrews  is  all  about  our  Perfection  as Sons

  • Hebrews is about our Perfection as SonsFor it was fitting that he, for whom and by whom all things exist, in bringing many sons to glory, should make the founder of their salvation perfect through suffering. Hebrews 2:10
  • And being made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey him, Hebrews 5:9
  • (For the law made nothing perfect); but on the other hand, a better hope is introduced, through which we draw near to God. Hebrews 7:19
  • For the law appoints men in their weakness as high priests, but the word of the oath, which came later than the law, appoints a Son who has been made perfect forever. Hebrews 7:28
  • (Which is symbolic for the present age). According to this arrangement, gifts and sacrifices are offered that cannot perfect the conscience of the worshiper, Hebrews 9:9
  • But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things that have come, then through the greater and more perfect tent ( not made with hands, that is, not of this creation) Hebrews 9:11
  • For since the law has but a shadow of the good things to come instead of the true form of these realities, it can never, by the same sacrifices that are continually offered every year, make perfect those who draw near. Hebrews 10:1
  • For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified. Hebrews 10:14
  • Since God had provided something better for us, that apart from us they should not be made perfect. Hebrews 11:40
  • and to the assembly of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, Hebrews 12:23
  • Make you perfect in every good work to do his will, working in you that which is well pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ; to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen. Hebrews 13:21

Jesus Endured the Cross and Achieved Complete Sonship

  • For it was fitting that he, for whom and by whom all things exist, in bringing many sons to glory, should make the founder of their salvation perfect through suffering. Hebrews 2:10
  • And being made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey him, Hebrews 5:9
The Perfection of Christ as Son enables our perfection as Sons

Sonship Requires a Decision

I am not talking about children of God. You can remain a baby or a toddler if you want. Babies don’t have faith; for they are too busy feeding off their surroundings. They do not have the ability to reach up and grow in faith. Toddlers are too busy trying to avoid falling. They do not need faith because they are too focused on the obstacles round them, or the bright shiny toys.

Only those who desire the toga virilis require faith, those who want to be Sons of God, who want to reign with Him. Sons must grow up, train, and endure tests and trial before they are awarded the toga virilis. Do you want to be a Son? Then step forward by faith and start living as if you are a Son of God! Start running the Course God has for you by Faith!

Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. Hebrews 12:1-2

Faith gives power for SonshipFaith Provides the Power for Sonship

1. Run the Course

Therefore. Reaching back and gathering together all the heroes of faith, who by faith endured so much for promises they never obtained in this life (from chapter 11). They never knew Christ, but we have!
They are our witnesses[3]

  • does not mean spectators, but those who have born witness to the truth,

2. Run[4] with endurance[5].

  • Run with both passive endurance and active persistence.
  • Bear up under, patience, endurance as to things or circumstances. This is in contrast to makrothumía, long-suffering or endurance toward people. Hupomoné is associated with hope (patience of hope-1 Thess. 1:3) and refers to that quality of character which does not allow one to surrender to circumstances or succumb under trial.

3. Lay aside fleshly encumbrances[6]

  • A tumor, mass, magnitude, weight, burden, impediment
  • Lay aside swollen pride, dependence upon the flesh. These are fleshly things which tend to trip us up from living by faith!

4. Lay aside sin[7]

  • Sin of self reliance, not wanting God’s design in your life
  • Guilt that accompanies your sin

5. Run the Course that God Assigns You.

  • The specific word for a race (dromos) is not used, the general term for an athletic contest (agon) being chosen. The words “set before us” (prokeimai) give one the idea that a certain type of race is placed before the Christian.
  • The idea in the word prokeimai is that of something lying before you. It is like a road that stretches out before one’s gaze[8].

Sonship requires Determined Choices

So we must consider the course before us, and determine to run it, no matter the cost. We must realize this is a marathon, and trials will be great. There can be no turning back. There can be no excuses. Remember all those who testified before to the worthwhile pursuit of this course. But also remember the one who is our ultimate example…Jesus Christ!

Running the Course with Faith Produces SonshipLook to Jesus Daily
There is No Faith for Sonship Without Jesus Christ

Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. Hebrews 12:2

1. Looking[9] unto Jesus

  • Fix your mind intently upon Jesus.
  • The word “looking” is aphorao “to turn the eyes away from other things and fix them on something.” The word also means “to turn one’s mind to a certain thing.”[10]
  • Let this mind be in you (Phil 2:5)
  • Be transformed by the renewing of your mind (Rom 12:2)

2. The author and perfector of our faith[11]

  • (No “our”). He is the author and the completeness of faith.
  • This means that Jesus is the one who initiates (and completes) faith in the souls of men.
  • In the context faith is treated as a way of life. The author summons a “cloud of witnesses” whose lives testify to the reward of the life of faith. Jesus stands as the chief witness for it was He who blazed the trail and gave us the ideal model of “the faith[12]

Nazi Prisoners go crazy without purposeAn Illustration from a Nazi Concentration Camp

In a Nazi concentration camp in Hungary during the Second World War prisoners were forced to do nauseating work in a sewage plant. But it was work; and something was accomplished. Then the plant was destroyed by allied bombers. So the Nazi officers arranged for the prisoners to shovel sand into carts and drag it to the other end of the plant and dump it. The next day they ordered them to shovel it back into the carts and bring it to where they started. And so it went for days.

Finally one old man began crying uncontrollably; the guards hauled him away. Another screamed until he was beaten into silence. Then a young man who had survived three years in the camp darted away from the group. The guards shouted for him to stop as he ran toward the electrified fence. The other prisoners cried out, but it was too late; there was a blinding flash and a terrible sizzling noise as smoke puffed from his smoldering flesh. In the days that followed, dozens of the prisoners went mad and ran from their work only to be shot by guards or electrocuted by the fence (Charles Colson, Kingdoms in Conflict, p. 68).

You can run the course that you want, but you will drop out, go crazy or kill yourself without running for the purpose God has for you! Why don’t you lay your course at the cross and die to what you want and have planned, and tell God that you want to run for Sonship, by Faith in the power of His Son, Jesus Christ!


[1] teleióō; contracted teleió, fut. teleiósō, from téleios <G5046>, complete, mature. To complete, make perfect by reaching the intended goal. Spiros Zodhiates, The Complete Word Study Dictionary – New Testament, (Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 1993), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, 1373.

[2] Herman Ridderbos, Paul: An Outline of his Theology, trans. John R. de Witt (Grand Rapids, Michigan: William B. Eerdmans, 1975), 233.

[3] Witnesses (μαρτύρων) does not mean spectators, but those who have born witness to the truth, as those enumerated in ch. 11. Yet the idea of spectators is implied, and is really the principal idea. The writer’s picture is that of an arena in which the Christians whom he addresses are contending in a race, while the vast host of the heroes of faith who, after having born witness to the truth, have entered into their heavenly rests watches the contest from the encircling tiers of the arena, compassing and overhanging it like a cloud, filled with lively interest and sympathy, and lending heavenly aid. Marvin R. Vincent, Word Studies in the New Testament, (New York: Scribners, 1887), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, under: “Hebrews Chapter 12″.

[4] Ὑπομονὴ includes both passive endurance and active persistence. Marvin R. Vincent, Word Studies in the New Testament, (New York: Scribners, 1887), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, under: “Hebrews Chapter 12″.

[5] hupomoné; fem. noun from hupoménō <G5278>, to persevere, remain under. A bearing up under, patience, endurance as to things or circumstances. This is in contrast to makrothumía <G3115>, long-suffering or endurance toward people. Hupomoné is associated with hope (1 Thess. 1:3) and refers to that quality of character which does not allow one to surrender to circumstances or succumb under trial. Spiros Zodhiates, The Complete Word Study Dictionary – New Testament, (Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 1993), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, under: “ὑπομονή”.

[6] A tumor, mass, magnitude, weight, burden, impediment. Spiros Zodhiates, The Complete Word Study Dictionary – New Testament, (Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 1993), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, under: “ogkos”.

[7] Sin, missing the true end and scope of our lives, which is God. An offense in relation to God with emphasis on guilt. Spiros Zodhiates, The Complete Word Study Dictionary – New Testament, (Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 1993), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, 130.

[8] Kenneth S. Wuest, Wuest’s Word Studies – Volume 2: Word Studies in the Greek New Testament, (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1973), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, 214.

[9] aphoráō; contracted aphoró, fut. apópsomai, from apó <G575> an intens., and horáō <G3708>, to look. To look away steadfastly or intently toward a distant object. Metaphorically, to behold in the mind, to fix the mind upon (Phil. 2:23; Heb. 12:2).Spiros Zodhiates, The Complete Word Study Dictionary – New Testament, (Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 1993), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, Under: “áphorao”.

[10] Kenneth S. Wuest, Wuest’s Word Studies – Volume 2: Word Studies in the Greek New Testament, (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1973), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, 214.

[11]Christ is the archegon, the chief leader of this faith in that He “furnished the perfect development, the supreme example of faith, and in virtue of this He is the leader of the whole believing host of all time.” He is also the finisher of the faith spoken of in these chapters. The word is teleioo which means “to carry through completely, to finish, to make perfect or complete.”Kenneth S. Wuest, Wuest’s Word Studies – Volume 2: Word Studies in the Greek New Testament, (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1973), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, 214.

[12] Spiros Zodhiates, The Complete Word Study Dictionary – New Testament, (Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 1993), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, Under: “árchegos”.


[i] Barclays has this to say about Roman Adoption process…

“We must understand how serious and complicated a step Roman adoption was that we really under stand the depth of meaning in this passage. Roman adoption was always rendered more serious and more difficult by the Roman patria potestas. This was the father’s power over his family; it was the power of absolute disposal and control, and in the early days was actually the power of life and death. In regard to his father, a Roman son never came of age. No matter how old he was, he was still under the patria potestas, in the absolute possession and under the absolute control, of his father. Obviously this made adoption into another family a very difficult and serious step. In adoption a person had to pass from one patria potestas to another.

There were two steps. The first was known as mancipatio, and was carried out by a symbolic sale, in which copper and scales were symbolically used. Three times the symbolism of sale was carried out. Twice the father symbolically sold his son, and twice he bought him back; but the third time he did not buy him back and thus the patria potestas was held to be broken. There followed a ceremony called vindicatio. The adopting father went to the praetor, one of the Roman magistrates, and presented a legal case for the transference of the person to be adopted into his patria potestas. When all this was completed, the adoption was complete. Clearly this was a serious and an impressive step.

But it is the consequences of adoption which are most significant for the picture that is in Paul’s mind. There were four main ones. (i) The adopted person lost all rights in his old family and gained all the rights of a legitimate son in his new family. In the most binding legal way, he got a new father. (ii) It followed that he became heir to his new father’s estate. Even if other sons were afterwards born, it did not affect his rights. He was inalienably co-heir with them. (iii) In law, the old life of the adopted person was completely wiped out; for instance, all debts were cancelled. He was regarded as a new person entering into a new life with which the past had nothing to do. (iv) In the eyes of the law he was absolutely the son of his new father. Roman history provides an outstanding case of how completely this was held to be true. The Emperor Claudius adopted Nero in order that he might succeed him on the throne; they were not in any sense blood relations. Claudius already had a daughter, Octavia.

To cement the alliance Nero wished to marry her. Nero and Octavia were in no sense blood relations; yet, in the eyes of the law, they were brother and sister; and before they could marry, the Roman senate had to pass special legislation.

That is what Paul is thinking of. He uses still another picture from Roman adoption. He says that God’s spirit witnesses with our spirit that we really are his children. The adoption ceremony was carried out in the presence of seven witnesses. Now, suppose the adopting father died and there was some dispute about the right of the adopted son to inherit, one or more of the seven witnesses stepped forward and swore that the adoption was genuine. Thus the right of the adopted person was guaranteed and he entered into his inheritance. So, Paul is saying, it is the Holy Spirit himself who is the witness to our adoption into the family of God.


Hebrews has the Fulness of Jesus Christ in View.

He is superior in every aspect of His earthly life. His is superior to the angels, the old covenant, the Priests, the sacrifices. He is the realization of the Old Testament. He is the hope that substantiated their faith. He is the visible demonstration of the unseen and invisible God. What made Him superior to every aspect of what had come before was His Sonship.

sonship_toga_virilus

But in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world. Hebrews 1:2

  • Because of His Sonship, Christ has a better relationship with Creator God. (1 vs. 5)
  • Because of His Sonship, Christ has an eternal throne (1 vs. 8)
  • Because of His Sonship, Christ is the faithful manager of God’s House. (3 vs. 6)
  • Because of His Sonship, Christ is made our Great High Priest (5 vs. 5)
  • Because of His Sonship, Christ suffered and learned obedience (5 vs. 8)
  • Because of His Sonship, there is punishment for all those who spurn Him (10 vs. 29)

Hebrews presents the truth that we can share in His Sonship

Sonship brother of JesusIn illustrating vividly the power of the Sonship of Christ, God wants us to realize the power of our Sonship! Hebrews is a book about the Potential of our Sonship! God makes that crystal clear early in chapter 2:9-16:

But we see him who for a little while was made lower than the angels, namely Jesus, crowned with glory and honor because of the suffering of death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone. For it was fitting that he, for whom and by whom all things exist, in bringing many sons to glory, should make the founder of their salvation perfect through suffering. For he who sanctifies and those who are sanctified all have one source. That is why he is not ashamed to call them brothers, saying, “I will tell of your name to my brothers; in the midst of the congregation I will sing your praise.” And again, “I will put my trust in him.” And again, “Behold, I and the children God has given me.” Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery. For surely it is not angels that he helps, but he helps the offspring of Abraham.

As Sons of God by faith, we are the offspring of Abraham, whose offspring are the children of promise.

Just as Christ grew in His Sonship through obedience during suffering, so we are challenged to grow through endurance in the face of hardship and tribulation. This requires FAITH!

togavirilustoga virilis ceremonyThis is where we are in Hebrews, at chapter 11, discovering the importance of Faith for our growth as Sons of God. The Hebrews in Rome knew fully what it meant to be the declared “Son of a Praetor”. Or a Senator. The father, who had absolute authority over his family, would declare one of his sons “toga virilis” and there would be a ceremony and celebration for the father has declared a son to oversee the inheritance when he was gone. The son had passed every test and endured years of training and education. Now he was a man, the “Son” of the Praetor, or the Senator. Birth into the home did not guarantee you would achieve toga virilis status. If there were no sons worthy, or no sons at all, then one would be adopted into the family. Sonship was everything in ancient Rome!

Hebrews 11 has OUR Sonship in View.

Without Faith, there can be no “Toga Virilis” Sonship!

Vs 1: Faith is two things-Substantiating and Demonstrating. Faith empowers our Unseen Hopes and Unseen Things.

A. Faith has three essential Attributes as noted in three men of faith:

  • The Attribute of Sacrifice – Abel
  • The Attribute of Pleasing God – Enoch
  • The Attribute of Salvation – Noah
  1. Faith Substantiates His Reality in your life (HE IS)
    1. Sacrifice (Abel)
    2. Serving (Enoch)
    3. Saving (Noah)
  2. Faith Empowers (Proves) God’s Rewards
    1. Abel offers blood sacrificeAcceptance (Abel)
    2. Ascension (Enoch)
    3. Heir of Righteousness (Noah)
    4. Jesus Christ is the Center of our Faith
  3. The Sonship of Christ is the Focus of our Faith
    1. Abel pictures the perfect atoning blood sacrifice that is Jesus Christ.
    2. Abel pictures the acceptance that all Sons of Faith share in Jesus Christ.

B. Faith is the only way you can please God (Be well accepted)(Heb 11:6)

To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved. Ephesians 1:6

  1. Enoch pictures the Risen Christ, who pleased God (This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased)
  2. Noah pictures the Righteousness that is Christ and the Salvation we have in Him alone.

The Result of our Faith

Not necessarily to heal or make you rich or a mighty preacher of God. The ultimate result of your Faith is to bring you into Full Sonship of God! As Christ is formed in your life by faith, you attain Sonship.

But as many as received him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: John 1:12

sonship11For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him. Romans 8:14-17

And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. Romans 8:23

For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. Romans 8:29

As indeed he says in Hosea, “Those who were not my people I will call ‘my people,’ and her who was not beloved I will call ‘beloved.’ ” “And in the very place where it was said to them, ‘You are not my people,’ there they will be called ‘sons of the living God.’ ” Romans 9:25-26 (Quoted Hosea 2:23)

The Importance of Faith in our Growth as Sons of God

Why is faith so important in our attaining Sonship? Look at these examples of faith and see that they typify the very author of faith-Jesus Christ! Faith is Jesus Christ. Our Sonship is through Jesus Christ. There is no sonship without faith, because faith and Jesus are synonymous!

By faith Isaac invoked future blessings on Jacob and Esau.

  • ‘In Isaac your seed shall be called'” (Hebrews 11:18) Isaac is a type of Christ. He is the Son of Promise. We receive our sonship by trusting in the Promised Savior.
  • Isaac was taken to be sacrificed, yet at the last moment God stopped Abraham and said, there is a sacrifice, for I am Jehovah Jireh, God will provide. Jesus is our sacrifice.
  • Isaac blessed his two sons. We are blessed in Jesus Christ, by faith.
  • By Faith you can bless your children and grandchildren.

Jacob at PenuelBy faith Jacob, when dying, blessed each of the sons of Joseph, bowing in worship over the head of his staff.

  • Jacob was the son chosen to receive the birthright, for his brother was a fleshly man (Jesus the second Adam)
  • Jacob wrestled with the angel of God, and his name was changed to Israel, for he had power with God and man.
  • Jacob-leaned on his staff Heb 11_21Jacob here is blessing the sons of Joseph, worshipping God, and leaning upon his staff. He is a picture of the Savior, broken through the discipline of the Cross, and through his suffering, bringing blessing to sons.
  • Jacob is a reminder that our sufferings and trials will bring blessing as long as they lead us to lean upon our Savior.

By faith Joseph, at the end of his life, made mention of the exodus of the Israelites and gave directions concerning his bones.

Then Joseph made the sons of Israel swear, saying, “God will surely visit you, and you shall carry up my bones from here.” Genesis 50:25

  • Joseph is a type of Christ. There is no mention of any failing in his life. He was sacrificed by his brothers, which later led to their salvation.
  • The Passover Lamb was not to have any bones broken.
  • Jesus had no bones broken, because He is our Passover Lamb.
  • So when Joseph gave instructions about his bones, it is a reminder that God gave directions regarding the bones of His Son.

And Ephesians says: For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones. Ephesians 5:30

  • Our strength of faith is in His bones!

Mom saves Baby MosesBy faith Moses, when he was born, was hidden for three months by his parents, because they saw that the child was beautiful, and they were not afraid of the king’s edict.

  • There is no greater beauty to God than His Son Jesus Christ
  • Mary & Joseph took Jesus into Egypt because of the edict of King Herod.
  • God protected His son from the onslaught of Satan.
  • By faith we trust God to protect our children.

By faith Moses, when he was grown up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, choosing rather to be mistreated with the people of God than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin.

  • Jesus denied the temptations of Christ, choosing rather to follow the will of His Father, rather than his own will.

Moses My IdolHe considered the reproach of Christ greater wealth than the treasures of Egypt, for he was looking to the reward.

  • Jesus set His face as a flint to the Cross, enduring the pain and shame, looking to the joy before Him

By faith he left Egypt, not being afraid of the anger of the king, for he endured as seeing him who is invisible.

  • Jesus endured the Cross, never fearing the anger of the crowd, for His face was set upon the joy of His Father

By faith he kept the Passover and sprinkled the blood, so that the Destroyer of the firstborn might not touch them.

  • Jesus became the Passover Lamb, sprinkling His Holy blood upon the wrath of God upon man, destroying the destroyer, death and sin.

By faith the people crossed the Red Sea as on dry land, but the Egyptians, when they attempted to do the same, were drowned.

  • Jesus walked on water as on dry ground, and promises His power in the storms of life, but all those who embrace the world will be overcome and judged.

By faith the walls of Jericho fell down after they had been encircled for seven days.

  • Jesus entered the walls of Jerusalem with the shouts of Hosanna ringing throughout the city. Seven days later He tore down the veil that separated Holy God from sinful man.

Meet Rahab the ProstituteBy faith Rahab the prostitute did not perish with those who were disobedient, because she had given a friendly welcome to the spies.

  • Rahab hung a scarlet cord outside her window. By that cord she was saved. Jesus hung on the bloody cross, securing forgiveness for the vilest sinner. He underscored that when he lovingly dealt with the woman taken in adultery.
  • Jesus is a friend of sinners. His great-great-great-great-great-great-great grandmother was a converted prostitute. 

And what more shall I say?

GIDEON-faith to blow the trumpetFor time would fail me to tell of Gideon,

  • Gideon brought a solitary action against the adversary
  • He built an altar, and himself offered sacrifice, as though he were a priest.
  • The altar was named Jehovah-Shalom — the Lord of Peace.
  • His own people cried out against his worthy action.
  • A sign, a prophecy, of dew — first on the fleece, the ground being dry — and then on the ground, the fleece being dry: thus is foreshadowed the work of the Holy Spirit, first in Israel and later more fully among the Gentiles.
  • Those who were gathered unto him, by the sound of the trumpet, were reduced to a faithful remnant, being separated to him by water, and the expression of their abhorrence of all false worship. Those who lapped like dogs foreshadowed Gentiles, faithful to their leader.
  • The destruction of the Midianite host prefigures the greater destruction of the Last Day oppressor, in the same plain of Jezreel.
  • A victory without weapons for the Lord’s people who “look on me and do likewise”.
  • These enemies meet their end at the very place which means an entering into inheritance for the people of God (Jdg 8:17,18).
  • Gideon’s words: “The Lord shall rule over you” — it is the Kingdom!
  • Seventy sons correspond in number with the nations of the world. (Gen 10 lists 70 names.)

barak_debBarak,

  • Barak the judge displays a timid and cowardly spirit,
  • Jesus is meek and lowly of spirit.
  • Barak would not battle without Deborah.
  • Jesus could do noting apart from His Father, and battled Satan in the power of the Holy Spirit.
  • The message of the Cross is that the weak and lowly triumph over the strong and arrogant devil.
  • His name means “lightning flash[1].”
    • For as the lightning flashes and lights up the sky from one side to the other, so will the Son of Man be in his day. Luke 17:24
    • From the throne came flashes of lightning, and rumblings and peals of thunder, and before the throne were burning seven torches of fire, which are the seven spirits of God, Revelation 4:5

Samson destroys templeSamson,

Everything about Samson and Jesus Christ is connected with three things: a promise, a sacrifice, and a name.

A PROMISE

  • Samson was born, lived and died according to the merciful promise and purpose of God to save his people (Jud. 13:5).
    Judges 13:5  “For, lo, thou shalt conceive, and bear a son; and no razor shall come on his head: for the child shall be a Nazarite unto God from the womb: and he shall begin to deliver Israel out of the hand of the Philistines.”

A NAME

  • Everything about this man was related to and for the glory of the name by which the Angel of the LORD revealed himself to Manoah and his wife (Jud. 13:18).
    Judges 13:18  “And the angel of the LORD said to him, “Why do you ask my name, seeing it is wonderful?”
  • Jesus is Wonderful (Isaiah 9:6)
    • It is his name which is the name of salvation (Acts 4:12).
    • It is in his name that we are accepted of God and forgiven (Eph. 4:32; Rom. 12:1-3; 1 Pet. 2:5).

A SACRIFICE

  • Everything Samson was and did for Israel was connected with, arose from, and pointed to a sacrifice (Jud. 13:19-21).
  • Judges 13:19-21  “So Manoah took a kid with a meat offering, and offered it upon a rock unto the LORD: and the angel did wondrously; and Manoah and his wife looked on. 20 For it came to pass, when the flame went up toward heaven from off the altar, that the angel of the LORD ascended in the flame of the altar. And Manoah and his wife looked on it, and fell on their faces to the ground. 21 But the angel of the LORD did no more appear to Manoah and to his wife. Then Manoah knew that he was an angel of the LORD.”

His Love Choices

  • He loved harlots
  • Jesus loved publicans and harlots, the sick and needy

Jephthah,

  • Name means “He will open” (Jesus is the Way)
  • Mighty man of valor (Jesus is our Victory)
  • Born of a harlot (Jesus was born of one accused of adultery)
  • Rejected by the leadership because of his birth (Jesus was rejected becasue he was from Nazareth)

of David and Samuel and the prophets— who through faith conquered kingdoms, enforced justice, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the power of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, were made strong out of weakness, became mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight. Women received back their dead by resurrection.

What does a life of Faith do for You?

1.  Spiritual Fullness in Christ.

Christ is the very definition of faith. Faith is built upon the qualities and characteristics of Jesus Christ. Take Jesus away and there is no faith.

walking-after-the-spirit-the-life-of-sonship2.  Sonship with Jesus Christ.

By Faith, TODAY, you can:

  • Conquer the world
  • Grow Justice
  • Live in Promises
  • Stop the accusations of Satan
  • Quench his fiery arrows
  • Win in battle by the Sword of the Word
  • Become strong in your weakness
  • Become mighty sons of God
  • Put the enemy to flight

Sonship comes on the shoulders of those who have suffered for Christ

Christian Martyrs in Neros GardenSome were tortured, refusing to accept release, so that they might rise again to a better life. Others suffered mocking and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn in two, and they were killed with the sword. They went about in skins of sheep and goats, destitute, afflicted, mistreated— of whom the world was not worthy— wandering about in deserts and mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth.

No matter what you may endure, Jesus Christ is always with you in your sufferings. His faith will sustain you in your weakness. His faith will empower you to reach the finish line.

And all these, though commended through their faith, did not receive what was promised, since God had provided something better for us, that apart from us they should not be made perfect. Hebrews 11:20-40

Martyrs_Last_Prayer (2)We are Sons of God, and those who have suffered before us share with us in our Savior, our brother, Jesus Christ.

What Does This Mean to You

  • You are not alone if you are living in Christ by Faith
  • His promises are sure, no matter the struggles you face.
  • This life is but preparation for Life with Him
  • As His Son or Daughter, “Be strong in the Lord and in the Power of His Mighty!” Your faith is in Him and His promises.
  • You are important for your faith joins you with faithful martyrs of the past.

We share faith with those who never received the Promise

nero murdered christian martyrs“In the year 64 A.D. during the reign of Nero, fire broke out in Rome. For six days and nights the fire burned. The greater part of the city was laid in ashes. The rumor got around that Nero himself had caused the city to be set on fire. This aroused great hatred in the people of Rome against the emperor. To turn this hatred away from himself, Nero accused the Christians of having set fire to Rome. The accusation certainly was not true, but large numbers of Christians were arrested and a terrible persecution followed. Many Christians were even crucified. Some were sewn up in the skins of wild beasts; then big dogs were let loose upon them, and they were torn to pieces. Women were tied to mad bulls and dragged to death. After nightfall Christians were burned at the stake in Nero’s garden (human lamp stands!). The Roman people who hated the Christians were free to come into the garden, and Nero drove around in his chariot wickedly enjoying the horrible scene” (The Church in History, by B.K. Kuiper, p.8).


[1] Warren Baker and Eugene Carpenter, The Complete Word Study Dictionary – Old Testament, (Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 2003), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, Under: ” ‏בָּרָק‎”.