Posts Tagged ‘Children of God’


Our Journey through the Cross will stop in Romans 8.

Here we discover what the Cross is all about. It is about the life that Jesus died to give all those who by faith make Him their life. It requires a turning away from our self, our sin, our flesh and embracing Jesus Christ as our Lord, our Life, our Savior.

By faith in what Jesus Christ did for us on the Cross, we are justified by God. We are declared righteous, we are declared His children. By faith, the Holy Spirit, whom Jesus shed upon the world at Pentecost, comes and makes us His dwelling place. We are set apart for God’s purpose.

Coming to the Cross and accepting Jesus as your Savior means that you will now live by the cross. We must take up our cross daily, and just as Jesus humbled Himself as a servant, so we must humble ourselves before Almighty God and take up the cross He has given to us.

We have this assurance from the Master himself, that we will not bear our cross alone. In fact, our cross becomes easy and light, as long as we realize that He carries it for us. For the cross means that we no longer live, in fact our old man is dead, and the life that we now live, we live by Jesus Christ.

This is the message of Romans, and Romans 8 reveals what it means to be a Christian. Romans 8 is the insider’s guide to the Christian Life. The Christian Life is all about walking after the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit communicates and manifests Jesus Christ in our lives. Romans 8 details our New Life in the Holy Spirit.

1. The Holy Spirit Joins us to Christ

He brings about a vital union with the Lord Jesus.

“He that is joined unto the Lord is one spirit” (1 Cor. 6:17);

It is a spiritual and inward union with the Lord Jesus. This is what Romans 8:1-2 describes:

There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. Romans 8:1-2

When we are born again, the Holy Spirit joins us to Jesus Christ and we live in the Spirit of Life! God is all about Life, and sin is death. Being joined to Jesus means we are no longer under condemnation, no longer under the penalty of sin, no longer under the judgment of death, separated from Holy God by all eternity in Hell.

You and I, if we are truly born-again children of God, have got to know that, right inside of us, a union has been effected between Christ and ourselves, and ourselves and Christ; that we are joined to Christ. That union has been affected; we have been made one.

No more me, but We!

The Lord’s way of illustrating this truth is the marriage union. Paul says, “the two shall become one flesh.” This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. (Eph. 5:31, 32). ‘One flesh’. Just as married couples, we are made “one flesh” with Jesus Christ.

Now, if a marriage is what it ought to be, those two people are so ONE, that to separate them is to cut one person in two, and only leave two halves, and not a whole. This explains how death can leave a spouse so empty, so alone, as if part of them is gone. This explains how even years later, divorce can leave an ugly scar upon ones soul.

That is the illustration of our union with Christ. We are not complete until we are united with Christ; our completeness is in union with Christ.

If we do not have Christ with us, we are only half here. If we lose the Lord, we are torn in two. Jesus is that much a part of our lives.

We can – by disobedience, by playing with sin, by disobeying the Lord, by this or that – bring about such an effect, so that we feel as if something has happened; the Lord is there and I am here, and we are not together. It is as though we have been torn in two, are not complete.

This is the beginning of the Christian life; the very foundation and basis of the Christian life:

We and Christ have been made one; not two – one!

Jesus is not our homeboy. He is not someone we go to when things get bad. He is not a good luck charm we wear around our neck. He is not a wristband that says WWJD. We are united as one with the very creator of the universe. This union is a mystery, but it is so real and so powerful that to divide, to walk away and have an independent life – it is to destroy your own identity, to tear your own spiritual personality in pieces; and that is how it is, if we get away from the Lord in any way.

So here, the very first thing that we find about this life in the Spirit, is that there has come about between us and Christ, and between Christ and ourselves, a oneness, which is not in any outward, visible sense, but in a vital, inward reality.

So the first thing is “The law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus” (v. 2) – the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus – that is the union: our union with Christ.

2. The Holy Spirit Leads Us

Because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. Romans 8:14

When we are joined to Jesus Christ, we are not left to our own abilities. In fact, we must humble ourselves and give all of ourselves to Christ, so that the Holy Spirit will lead us. The operative word is “LED”. He is the leader. It is not a shared responsibility. There can be only one BOSS. This is why Paul wrote that:

For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God. Romans 8:7-8

To be led by the Spirit we must “walk AFTER the Spirit”

God reveals why we cannot walk after the flesh and why we must walk after the Holy Spirit in Romans 8:29:

For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son… Romans 8:29

God has a goal for each one of His children- conformity to the image of His Son.

“Conformed to the image” (summorphous tēs eikonos) means both an inward and an outward likeness. This is no happy fake smile Christian. All that Jesus Christ is we are to be. His loves, concern, his righteousness, his passion for the temple, his compassion for the lost, all are to be ours. It requires more of Him and less of me.

What is being ‘led by the Spirit’? Take the example of Israel.

God came down into Egypt, into the dark world of their bondage and tyranny in Egypt. He came down with His great purpose; He took possession of them; and then He gave them the symbol and figure of the Holy Spirit in the Pillar of Cloud and Fire. Paul says ‘They were all baptized into Moses in the cloud’ (1 Cor. 10:2).

What was the pillar of cloud and fire given for? Well, it is an illustration. It is a type of the Holy Spirit. It was given to lead them into the Land of Promise, where God had intended them to be. He had come down into Egypt, got hold of them, pulled them out, and brought them into the Wilderness for that purpose.

The Spirit was ever moving ahead of them, in the Pillar, to get them into the Land.

That is being “led by the Spirit”. As the Lord said, speaking of His people: “Israel is my son… Let my son go…” (Ex. 4:22, 23). As Paul wrote: ‘Now these are the sons of God, who are led by the Spirit of God’.

However, what does it mean? It means that we are always moving on, ever moving on in the way of the Spirit, leaving the old world further and further behind, and getting nearer and nearer to the heavenly promised land.

  • Now, if the Christian life is normal, this is true of the Christian life. This is not something abnormal; this is ‘normal Christian living!

The more you go on with the Lord, the less and less you find it possible to accept this world and to settle down here, and the further you seem to get away from it. Alternatively, it seems to get away from you.

The things of the Lord get nearer and nearer, and more and more engrossing, taking up more and more of your life. You find that, whereas at one time, you could compartmentalize your time, you could spread it out over various things, now you are more and more being absorbed (not obsessed), but absorbed in the things of the Lord; you have no time for other things.

What about your Work?

You go to work, you do your work, you give yourself to your work, you do it honestly… but the thing that has a grip on you inside is the Lord’s interests – what delights the Lord. If you are going on with the Lord, what you want more and more is that which tastes of heaven. Your desire is unto God and His desires.

The Holy Spirit wants to lead us on nearer and nearer to the fullness of Christ.

3. The Holy Spirit brings us to Confidence in our Father

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!” Romans 8:15

The Holy Spirit opens us up to seeing God as our dearest Daddy, the one who cares for us with unconditional love. We no longer live our lives in fear of what can or might happen. We know that we are in the hands of our dearest Daddy.

God is including us in His plan, and that plan involves us becoming conformed to His Son Jesus Christ.

Many of us have experienced horrible tragedies. Many of us have suffered terrible injustices, abuse. There are many ways we react to such experiences.

We can blame others, we can hold on to our pain and grow bitter, we can become frustrated and angry, and we can lash out and be vengeful. None of these reflects the heart of one who sees his life held in the arms of his dearest Daddy.

Living in the Holy Spirit is a life that is confident in the God’s power and God’s Purpose for your life. Living in the Holy Spirit allows us to believe what Paul wrote: “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose”. Romans 8:28

4. The Holy Spirit Bears Witness

The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, Romans 8:16

The indwelling Holy Spirit bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God. How does He do it? The Holy Spirit does not constantly speak in our ear, and say: “You know you are a child of God; you are a child of God”.

He says what He does because of our being children of God – that we know it.

We know how others can do certain things that we cannot; there is something that we have in our heart that makes us aware that this is, or this is not, according to the Father’s mind. The simple truth is this – we know: “the Spirit beareth witness”; we know. This joint witness of the Holy Spirit works with the Spirit of Sonship mentioned in verse 15 wherein we cry “Abba Father”. We know we are God’s child.

Bear witness with is summartureō, “to bear joint witness with” some other person, “to bear joint-testimony with” some other person. “Our spirit” refers to the saint’s human spirit energized by the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit bears testimony to our human spirit that we are children of God (teknon, without article, thus, children of God by nature), and our Spirit-energized, spirit thus joins the Holy Spirit in a joint-testimony to that fact. Wuest’s Word Studies

Have you gone through such severely bad times that you started to wonder if you are the Lord’s?

I can recall occasions when the Lord Himself definitely held me, or spoke to me, and made me know that this was right, and this was wrong. It was something that I never received from outside; I never got advice, counsel, or anything; but I knew it in myself! ‘You just can’t – no, not now! You just cannot do it.’ It was as real as, or more real than, any audible voice.

What is that, coming right from the inside? That is the Spirit bearing witness with my spirit that I am a child of God. A child of God does not behave like that; a child of God does behave like this; a child of God does not do those things; a child of God does do these things.

The Spirit says: ‘Others can; you cannot; you are a child of God.’

It is very real – the Spirit bearing witness. That is to be the basic law of our Christian life. In addition, every one of you who is a child of God ought to know what I am talking about

This is what it means to be a Christian. It is something real on the inside.

Next, the Holy Spirit, coming inside, has created and constituted a new kind of human being, a different kind of humanity from all the rest of humanity.

5. The Holy Spirit Makes us Different

(from all other people who are not children of God)

  • He leaves His mark upon us!
  • Our focus is different, our understanding is different, out wants are different. Instead of self-focused, we are God focused.

A.We See Purpose in Suffering

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. For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. Romans 8:17-19

B.We Groan As We Wait For Our Adoption.

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

The difference is not that they have decided to be religious, and to go to meetings, and company with Christian people; do this thing and that thing, and give up a lot of other things – that is not it at all.

Their very being, their very constitution, has been changed; they are different people.

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. 2 Corinthians 5:17

Jesus said: ‘You are from beneath; I am from above’ (John 8:23). That is exactly true of every child of God. We too can say: I am from above: this is no longer my place; this is no longer my home; I am no longer at rest here in this world. I have a new nationality. I have a new country, a new land; here in this world I am just an alien.

That becomes a very real thing to the child of God.

Just as Righteous Lot was vexed by the evilness of Sodom, so too we must always be on guard against the wickedness in this world.

Never try to violate it – never try to be at home in this world. If you do, you will be doing damage to your new constitution – because it is that, you see, that is your testimony. It is not that you try to be different at all. Never try to be different; never pretend to be different. The world can spot phonies.

If the Spirit lives in you, you will be different. That is the mark of the Holy Spirit. If you want any proof of that, you will find that, from the moment of your new birth, the Devil knows you! You are a marked person, just as Christ was a marked man when He was here.

The Spirit coming in makes us different, and it is just that difference that is the basis of everything for the future, for the Holy Spirit wants to use us.

6. The Holy Spirit Gifts Us

The next thing, in the life of the Spirit, is that the Holy Spirit gifts us, and qualifies us for a place and a part in this great purpose of God.

With God, it is not a matter of your natural abilities. It is a matter of you allowing the Holy Spirit to work His gift in you and through you.

Likewise, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. Romans 8:26-28

The Holy Spirit Intercedes for us. He wants what is best for us! In fact, God uses our weaknesses and even our failures as instruments to build up his body and work to conform each other to Jesus.

Early in my Christian life, I was very conscious of many lacks, deficiencies, and things that I wished I had. I had ambitions and dreams that I was never able to realize. God did not want me to be somebody else. God wanted me to be what the Holy Spirit was gifting me to be.

On the one side, there are many who have very great natural abilities and qualifications, or qualifications acquired through study, but they are not necessarily spiritual people. Moreover, it never does mean – and you can prove this – that, because you have a tremendous background of scholarship, education, or qualification of that kind, you have a special aptitude for grasping spiritual things.

That is a great thing to learn early in the Christian life: it is not what I have, or what I do not have, naturally – the Holy Spirit is qualification for what God wants!

The New Testament speaks of ‘gifts of the Spirit’ and truly, if you allow the Holy Spirit to lead, He will reveal the gift that He has given you. It will motivate your service to Christ. Do take that to your heart. It may be that you are one of the least, and that you feel there is not much hope for you; but, if you have the Holy Spirit, He can and will qualify you for something that is your particular part in the whole.

The Holy Spirit has come to give us something we do not have naturally, and we cannot get naturally – it is the particular equipment of the Holy Spirit. It is never fleshly talent or abilities. It is a gift that is spiritual from the Holy Spirit.!

7. The Holy Spirit Puts us to Work

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. And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified. Romans 8:29-30

I want to come to one more very important aspect of this whole matter of the Spirit.

Let us go back to the Old Testament, to the last section of the book of Exodus, which, as you know, contains the whole account of the making of the Tabernacle in the Wilderness. In addition, you will know that it was through the Holy Spirit that the whole thing was made, constructed; that the Spirit came upon certain men for that work, and then, under those Spirit-governed men, gathered all the people together. All the people came into action.

While it does not definitely say so, it as good as says that the whole nation was in this business. They were all doing something about it; they all had something to give. Some had linen to give; some had other materials to give; but they all had something. I suppose you could see ‘sewing parties’ all over the camp, and men at work busy  at this thing and that – some on wood, some on  gold, some on silver, some on brass – all the different materials; everywhere they were occupied with the work, and it was all under the direction and instruction and counsel of Spirit-filled men.

They were all under the government of the Spirit. The Anointing, so to speak, spread itself all over the whole mighty host for work. Now my point is this: the Holy Spirit puts His Body to Work.

Just think, here are some women making a curtain for the Tabernacle. Well, are they going to have their own little ‘tabernacle’ made of their one little curtain, all to themselves? Here are some men making a part of wood, perhaps to be overlaid with gold: is that the Tabernacle? Are they going to have a special little tabernacle of that thing that they are making – a little church of their own? It is nonsense, you see.

All this, by the Spirit, is one thing – it is the Body of Christ at Work.

They are not each living and working for their own little bit, they are living and working for the whole. They have the vision of the whole, and their whole life is taken up with the whole – not with just their little bit as an end in itself. They are living and working for the Tabernacle in completeness. The Holy Spirit has brought them together, and bound them into a oneness. All their work and focus is one, because they are under one Spirit.

8. The Holy Spirit Unites Us

What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised— who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written, “For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.” No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. Romans 8:31-37

If you and I are really under the government of the Holy Spirit, under the anointing of the Spirit, we shall not have any little private things of our own, any little ‘hole in a corner’ business of ours, any detached and unrelated thing to which we are giving ourselves. The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of unity, and of unity in vocation. What it will amount to, dear friends, is this: we shall live for the whole.

Moreover, if it is a matter of our local relationships – such as here – none of us is to be living other than for the whole: we ought to be living for the complete thing. Our position must be ‘I am not living and working as an individual: I am living and working as a part of a whole. And, in the appointment of God, for the time being, my local ‘whole’ is here, and I am living for that; I work for that; that is my vocation.’

So many people are wondering about their service: wanting to be in the Lord’s work, or to do something for the Lord – some sort of ministry, some sort of work – and to know what their work is; and they are asking: What is my work? What is my ministry? What is my job? It is always ‘my’, ‘my’, ‘my’… The answer is: Your job is ‘they’, is ‘them’.

Your value to God is a related thing. You will find the Holy Spirit coming in and using you when you link yourself on with all the rest, and become part of the whole.

If you keep yourself in any detachment, He may not do anything at all with you; He will just leave you; you will be doing nothing, and be counting for nothing.

You see, we are really in “Ephesians”. “Lead a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called, Ephesians 4:1 and the context or Eph 4 all concerns our relationship one to another in our daily walk. We are not to say “this is not my job; this is not your job, as something personal, as if we were not connected to one another.

It is the Church’s job; it is not yours: it is not mine. Whenever people go off on a personal, unrelated, line they become an end in themselves; and when they go, that is the end. The thing started with them, and it finished with them; and now you have to start all over again.

Therefore, we go back to our illustration from the Old Testament. The people found their inspiration, and the Lord’s blessing upon them, as they saw all the time the whole, lived for the whole, and regarded everything, every detail, as a part of the whole. You live for the whole!

In the church you don’t see it through your eyes. You do not let a little matter get you all upset if you are focusing on God’s greater purpose through the WHOLE. You are not in a church for your own interests. Have the whole view of God’s Church, and you will find that the Lord’s blessing is there. There may be difficulties, but the Lord will stand by you; and there will be something that would not be there if you just became a little company by yourselves, in a corner, living for yourselves, turned in on yourselves.

The Christian life is never about you and what you want for yourself. No! That is not the Living in the Spirit! Catch the vision of God’s purpose!

God works to conform each one of us into the likeness of His Son! That is His purpose, and He uses the WHOLE body!

We started from within – the Spirit doing His work within, joining us to Christ, leading us to our relationship with our Abba Father, making us different, working in us and then working our His purpose in us, gifting us, putting us to work with others, uniting us to a bigger purpose, accomplishing what is on the heart of God.

The end of our Journey Through the Cross is dying to ourselves and what we want, and being conformed to Jesus Christ. That is where we are going.

How? By the Holy Spirit within, and by our Living in the Spirit.

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Fathers Men of GodBelieve it or not, God thinks Fathers are important. God will never allow test tubes to replace Fathers. Fathers are absolutely essential in God’s overall plan of providing an inheritance for His Son. We are in a tragic Cultural War, one which relegates the Father to the role of bumbling idiot. God sees Christian Fathers as a Fighters, Infantry Soldiers in the Battle for the Inheritance for His Son, Jesus Christ.

“Wish You Were Here”

Kendall Phelps will never forget the morning when a picture popped up on his computer in his Silver Lake, Kansas, high school classroom. There stood Chris, his oldest son, in desert camouflage in front of a bombed-out building in Baghdad. He was holding a sign written on the back of a discarded MRE carton: “DAD, WISH YOU WERE HERE. SEMPER FI!” Kendall, a retired Marine, rushed across the street to the elementary school where his wife, Sherma, teaches fourth grade. She had already received the same photo via e-mail and, in a spasm of giddy relief, was printing out copies to post at the church and all over town. Chris had not been heard from since just after the start of Operation Iraqi Freedom a month earlier. Kendall’s elation that his son was all right momentarily erased his disappointment over not being in Baghdad himself. “Kendall is a Marine and a dad,” explains Sherma. “He could not stand it that he was not over there with Chris, fighting side by side, protecting his son.”

In January 2005, against all odds, Master Gunnery Sgt. Kendall Phelps, 58, and Maj. Christopher Phelps, 35, deployed to Iraq together for a seven-month tour in the newly formed 5th Civil Affairs Group based in Fallujah. Ever since the five Sullivan brothers from Waterloo, Iowa, tragically died when their cruiser was sunk in World War II, the U.S. military has been reluctant to deploy immediate family members in the same company. No one can remember a Marine father and son serving together. The mission of the 5th Civil Affairs Group is to facilitate the reconstruction of Al Anbar province, an area riddled with suicide bombers and insurgents. Chris, a team leader, is working with the Iraqi police, firefighters and contractors on rebuilding the infrastructure. His dad will use his 30 years of teaching experience to help establish new schools. They both know it won’t be easy. “It will be hot and nerve-racking and people are going to die,” says Chris. “My buddies say civil affairs is the most dangerous job in the Marine Corps right now. But I also think it’s going to be gratifying to get that grid system up and water pumping.”

“When I asked him why,” says Chris, “he said, ‘I want to make a difference. I’m a Marine.’ For me, there were no more questions. I understood. As a Marine, you feel your time is never over.”

Christian Fathers, your time is never over. We are always at war, a war that impacts Eternity. God Needs us to make a difference. God needs us to be different. God needs us to focus on Eternity, on the inheritance for His Son.

An Army brat was boasting about his father to a Marine brat:

“My dad is an engineer. He can build anything. Do you know the Alps?” “Yes,” said the Marine brat. “My dad built them.”
Then the Marine kid spoke: “And do you know the Dead Sea?” “Yes.” “My dad killed it!”

The Fathers of Israel were Fighters. They were fighting to take possession of a land they could call their own. After centuries of wandering, being enslaved, they wanted to provide their families with a permanent home, a place they could settle down and start spreading roots.

Their Fathers Made the Wrong Decision

Their fathers before them had witnessed a mighty miracle in the parting of the red sea and the destruction of Pharoah’s army. They had witnessed the victory over the Amalekites. They had seen God miraculously provide manna from heaven, water from a rock. Yet their fathers failed to give their hearts and minds to the awesom God who worked these mighty acts. In fact their fathers all perished in the wilderness, as God told them they would. They were fighters, but failed to become Mighty Men of God because of their heart belief.

FightingFathersFaceDecisionNow the sons were fathers, and these fathers too were witnessing mighty acts of the awesome God known as Jehovah. They witnessed the mighty miracle of the parting of the Jordan River. They witnessed the walls of a mighty city fall down with just the blowing of Rams horns and shouting of God’s people. They shared in the foolish defeat at Ai, and then the mighty victory over both Ai and Bethel. Joshua knew that the time was right for turning these Fighting Fathers into Mighty Men of God. Only as Mighty Men of God would the total inheritance be claimed. SO Joshua led them to the Valley of Decision at Shechem.

BY NOW THE MESSAGE WAS RINGING LOUD AND CLEAR IN THEIR HEARTS AND MINDS. THEY MUST MAKE A DECISION, A DECISION THAT WAS TO MARK THE REST OF THEIR LIVES, A DECISION THAT WAS TO MARK THE LIVES OF THEIR CHILDREN AND GRANDCHILDREN. That decision involved their HEARTS.

THEIR FATHER’S FAILED TO HAVE A HEART BELIEF IN THE TRUE GOD

FathersWrongBeliefSystemWhen it came time for their fathers to make such a decision, here is what they said:

  • Exodus 24:3 (NASB) Then Moses came and recounted to the people all the words of the Lord and all the ordinances; and all the people answered with one voice and said, “All the words which the Lord has spoken we will do!”

In fact they said it again:

  • Exodus 24:7 (NASB) Then he took the book of the covenant and read it in the hearing of the people; and they said, “All that the Lord has spoken we will do, and we will be obedient!”

But they were just mouthing words without embracing them in their hearts and lives. Look what happened a month or so later:

Exodus 32:1-6 (NKJV) Now when the people saw that Moses delayed coming down from the mountain, the people gathered together to Aaron, and said to him, “Come, make us gods that shall go before us; for as for this Moses, the man who brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we do not know what has become of him.” And Aaron said to them, “Break off the golden earrings which are in the ears of your wives, your sons, and your daughters, and bring them to me.” So all the people broke off the golden earrings which were in their ears, and brought them to Aaron. And he received the gold from their hand, and he fashioned it with an engraving tool, and made a molded calf. Then they said, “This is your god, O Israel, that brought you out of the land of Egypt!” So when Aaron saw it, he built an altar before it. And Aaron made a proclamation and said, “Tomorrow is a feast to the Lord.” Then they rose early on the next day, offered burnt offerings, and brought peace offerings; and the people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play.

Instead of obeying this awesome Jehovah who had done these mighty miracles, they fashioned their own god, and blasphemed the true God by saying this golden cow had led them from Egypt. Then they made an altar to this new god, and made sacrifices and feasted before their new god. Their fathers rejected the God of Creation and worshipped a god of their own making. As a result, many died that day, but they all died in the wilderness over the next 40 years.

Hearts_farfromGodTHEIR HEARTS WERE FAR FROM GOD:

Isaiah 29:13 (NLT) And so the Lord says, “These people say they are mine. They honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. And their worship of me is nothing but man-made rules learned by rote.

JESUS SAW THE SAME IN THE PHARISEES:

Mark 7:6-7 (NLT) Jesus replied, “You hypocrites! Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you, for he wrote, ‘These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Their worship is a farce, for they teach man-made ideas as commands from God.’

The Hebrews wanted a god they could see and follow, so they quickly abandoned the God of Moses for a golden calf. The God of Moses was invisible, powerful, but scary and impersonal. The Golden calf they had seen in Egypt, they could see it and admire it, it wasn’t scary, it was a lot of fun. They could be themselves around it. It wasn’t too demanding. Men are constantly fashioning gods they like, gods that fit their lifestyle. This is why Jesus came into this world, to show us that god is not found in something we make, something we do, or some place we attend. God is found in Jesus Christ.

JEWISH WORSHIP BECAME DEAD & IMPERSONAL -THE TRADITIONS OF MEN.

John 5_40 refuse to come to JesusBy the time of Christ, the Jews had made the worship of God an impersonal. Lifeless, burdensome affair. It did not require heart belief, only tedious attention to rules. Obeying tradition was enough to affirm you were a child of Abraham. Tradition alone was enough to give you the hope of God’s Blessing. So Jesus cried out on the steps of the Temple:

John 5:38-40 (ESV) and you do not have his word abiding in you, for you do not believe the one whom he has sent. You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me, yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life.

God desired His People to walk before Him in the Power of a Real Relationship with a Real and Living Eternal God. In order for that to happen they had to believe His Word Gives LIFE (BLESSING). Joshua had been charged by Moses to renew the people’s covenant with God as soon as they were able to in Canaan. Joshua was charged with making sure these Fighting Fathers gave their hearts over to God’s Way of Life.

HEART BELIEF SYSTEM

Heart Belief System1HeartBeliefSystem_2God realizes that our actions are influenced by our Heart beliefs. This Covenant is a foundational commitment to embrace the Sayings of God as our belief system. His expectation is presented in Deuteronomy 6:1-9. Embracing those beliefs marked the day that the Hebrews became the children of God most high.

The Day The Jews Became God’s Chosen People.

Day Jews Became Gods PeopleDeuteronomy 26:16-19 (NKJV) “This day the Lord your God commands you to observe these statutes and judgments; therefore you shall be careful to observe them with all your heart and with all your soul. Today you have proclaimed the Lord to be your God, and that you will walk in His ways and keep His statutes, His commandments, and His judgments, and that you will obey His voice. Also today the Lord has proclaimed you to be His special people, just as He promised you, that you should keep all His commandments, and that He will set you high above all nations which He has made, in praise, in name, and in honor, and that you may be a holy people to the Lord your God, just as He has spoken.”

The Basis for them being the people of God was their HEART belief in God’s Belief System, as expressed in His Law. They were to walk in His ways, obey His statutes and commands, and listen and obey His voice. If they embraced God’s Belief System, He would set them high above all nations., and make them a holy people unto Himself.

The decisions we make as to Who’s word we follow and believe in will effect our life, our future, and our families future. It will effect our eternal inheritance. If say you will obey God, but don’t build your life upon and around His Belief System, your heart will be far from God. You will perish in the wilderness. You will not enter into His Rest, His inheritance. You may even go to church, tithe, pray, but your heart is far from Him. You do your own thing through the week because you don’t have His Belief System in your heart!

THE WINNING HEART BELIEF

Winning Heart BeliefIn order to become Winners, Conqueror’s of Canaan, these Fighting Fathers must embrace the Winning Heart Belief. So Joshua led these Fighter Father’s to embrace God’s Belief System. Here is how He did it: He Took them on a 20 mile march to Mt Ebal & Mt Gerizim.

COMMANDED BY GOD & MOSES

While Moses was still with the people, before they crossed the Jordan, it had been commanded that they should meet at Ebal and Gerizim when they came into the land. (Deut. 11:29-32) It had also been commanded by Moses (Deut. 27) how great stones should be set up in Mount Ebal and plastered with plaster and on them should be written all the words of the law – the Ten Commandments (R. 662) -very plainly. These very stones or others set up near by should form an altar on which sacrifices should be offered. Six tribes had been named which should stand on either mountain, and curses had been given which the Levites should recite to the people with a loud voice. To each curse the tribes on Mount Ebal should answer, Amen; and as blessings were recited, the tribes on Mount Gerizim should say, Amen.

MT EBAL AND GERIZIM

Gerizim Ebal AmphitheaterStanding by the altar, Joshua or the Levites read the law with a loud voice, and the people answered from the mountain sides. “Cursed be he that maketh the blind to wander out of his way,” and from the people on Mount Ebal came, “Amen.” And so with other curses. And after each blessing, came “Amen” from the people on Mount Gerizim. It was very solemn and sacred, for the people were promising the Lord that they would keep His laws in the land that He was giving them.

The place appointed for this meeting is most remarkable. Ebal on the north and Gerizim on the south stand facing each other. Shechem lies in the valley between as it slopes westward. At the highest point in the pass, east of Shechem, there is a hollow like an amphitheater in the face of each mountain. They seem made by nature for the tribes, six on either side. Joshua, with the elders, officers, and judges, stood by the ark, probably in the valley between. There he read the law, and the tribes from one side of the valley and the other responded to the blessings and the curses. You probably wonder how all those people were able to hear the words of Joshua. Wonder no more:

An article on bibleplaces.com refers to an experiment conducted in the 19th century by J.W. McGarvey, during his tour of the Holy Land . He describes how these two mountains face each other with their slopes being about one mile apart, with the Biblical city of Shechem lying between them. On the side of both mountains there is a deep semicircular recess, which form two natural amphitheatres, where voices can carry for considerable distances. For his experiment, McGarvey stood between the two mountains, in the place where the Levities and the people of Israel would have stood. He said that there would have been enough space for 600,000 Israelites and their families. One of his two companions climbed halfway up Mt. Ebal , and another climbed halfway up Mt. Gerizim . Each evidently stood within the two natural amphitheatres, where they could each represent six tribes for the blessing and the curse.

The author read the blessings and the curses, and his two companions responded with, “Amen”, as Moses had instructed. The companion on Mt. Gerizim could hear the author clearly, and his response could also be heard clearly. The companion on Mt. Ebal could hear the voice of the author, but had difficulty distinguishing the words because of trees and terracing on the mountainside, which affected the acoustics. McGarvey suggested that if Joshua had a loud voice, he could have easily been heard by the whole the whole people of Israel , even without the Levites repeating his words.

This experiment shows that God chose the best place in the land to conduct this ceremony of renewal of the covenant, so all the congregation of Israel could hear the words of the Law clearly, and agree to them. The natural amphitheatres do not work so effectively today because of recent building development, but still show clearly in photographs and aerial mapping.

blessingorcurse1Imagine the scene as over two million people responded to Joshua:

‘Cursed is the one who makes a carved or molded image, an abomination to the Lord, the work of the hands of the craftsman, and sets it up in secret.’
And all the people shall answer and say, ‘Amen!’ ‘
Cursed is the one who treats his father or his mother with contempt.’
And all the people shall say, ‘Amen!’
‘Cursed is the one who moves his neighbor’s landmark.’
And all the people shall say, ‘Amen!’
‘Cursed is the one who makes the blind to wander off the road.’
And all the people shall say, ‘Amen!’
‘Cursed is the one who perverts the justice due the stranger, the fatherless, and widow.’
And all the people shall say, ‘Amen!’
‘Cursed is the one who lies with his father’s wife, because he has uncovered his father’s bed.’
And all the people shall say, ‘Amen!’
‘Cursed is the one who lies with any kind of animal.’
And all the people shall say, ‘Amen!’
‘Cursed is the one who lies with his sister, the daughter of his father or the daughter of his mother.’
And all the people shall say, ‘Amen!’
‘Cursed is the one who lies with his mother-in-law.’
And all the people shall say, ‘Amen!’
‘Cursed is the one who attacks his neighbor secretly.’
And all the people shall say, ‘Amen!’
‘Cursed is the one who takes a bribe to slay an innocent person.’
And all the people shall say, ‘Amen!’
‘Cursed is the one who does not confirm all the words of this law.’
And all the people shall say, ‘Amen!’

joshua altarAccording to Deuteronomy 27-28, the altar was built on the mountain of cursing, Mount Ebal.  We need the covering sacrifice exactly at the point where our sin and failures are revealed and God’s curse is pronounced on our sin.

LIFE OR DEATH

There is a Principle that rings throughout the Bible, and we see it come to the forefront when Joshua leds these Fighting Fathers to renew their covenant with God. There is no middle ground with God, there is only Life or Death. And as far as God is concerned, you are either dead in sin, or dead to sin, but alive to God. There can be no life without death. You must die to sin and what you want, and Live to what God wants. It’s either God’s belief system or your whatever belief system you make up on your own. You chose what you want to have upon your life. On this day they were acknowledging the Power of God and His Word, His Belief System. They were embracing His Word for their lives, to be their belief system for life.

  • They were professing their death to the way of the world, the way of the flesh, and confessing that they were alive to the Life of God.
  • They were acknowledging the Rewards that come from Living unto God!
  • They were also acknowledging the  Penalties that come from turning you back on God’s Belief System.
  • That Word and how they obey it will determine either blessing or cursing upon their life, their children’s lives.

What Turns a Father into a Man of God?

What Makes a Father a Man of GodGod wants Fathers who will be Men of God, Men whose Hearts are firmly planted in God’s Word. Joshua’s actions revealed why God chose him to lead these Fighting Men to become Mighty Men of God. From his actions in JOSHUA 8:30-35, we see what makes a Father a Man of God.

Men of God Incorruptible1 Corinthians 9:25 (KJV) And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible.

Men of God are Sound2 Timothy 1:7 (KJV) For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind. (Self control, disciplined)

Titus 2:1-2 (NKJV) But as for you, speak the things which are proper for sound doctrine: that the older men be sober, reverent, temperate, sound in faith, in love, in patience;

2 Timothy 1:13 (NKJV) Hold fast the pattern of sound words which you have heard from me, in faith and love which are in Christ Jesus.

Men of God are CompleteJames 1:4 (ESV) And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

2 Timothy 3:16-17 (NKJV) All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.

Revelation 3:2 (ESV) Wake up, and strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have not found your works complete in the sight of my God.

Men of God are SacrificialOur Eternal Father loved us so much that he gave the ultimate sacrifice-His Son.

Ephesians 5:1-2 (NKJV) Therefore be imitators of God as dear children. And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma.

1 Peter 2:5 (NKJV) you also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.

RENEW YOUR COMMITMENT

Fathers Renew You Commitment to GodFathers, every so often we need to renew our commitment to having God’s Belief System in our heart. We need to check out our heart to see who and what we love. We need to examine it for false god beliefs, selfish loves. DO WE LOVE OUR GOD? We need to see if we are still standing firm in one spirit with Jesus Christ, with one mind locked sude by side for the faith of the gospel of our Savior.

Lance Corporal Jeffry Nashton – Terrorist Attack 1983

WASHINGTON, Oct. 20, 2008 – Twenty-five years ago, Marine Lance Cpl. Jeffrey Nashton lay broken, burned and blind in a military hospital bed in Germany, the victim of a brutal terrorist attack that nearly killed him.

(a terrorist slammed a truck loaded with explosives into a Marine Corps barracks in Beirut, Lebanon, Oct. 23, 1983.)

Faithful Fathers Godly MenGeneral PXKELLEYGeneral P.X. Kelley, Commandant of the Marine Corps (CMC), went to the hospital in Wiesbaden, Germany to visit wounded Marines. One Marine, LCpl Jeffrey Nashton, USMC, was wired up for sound, covered by tubes, unable to speak, fighting to stay alive. The general came to pin on the Purple Heart. Nashton could not see or speak, and could barely hear. General Kelley knelt beside his bed, and Nashton reached out with his hand and rubbed over the general’s stars. Counting four, he managed a grin. He motioned for something with which to write. He received a pen and paper, and wrote, “Semper Fi,” and gave it to General Kelly. The general is reported to have wept.

Kelley would later send the four gold stars Nashton touched to Nashton along with a special commendation. You might recall I mentioned LCpl John L’Heureaux earlier who was working as a forward observer on the roof when it crashed down. He was in the bed next to Nashton when General Kelley came. Mike Toma, whom we mentioned earlier as one of the first to be rescued, was under the debris next to Nashton. A mutual friend, LCpl. Bill Sanpedro was dug out and flown to Germany, but died on the way.

lebanon PostAttackHNashton suffered a fractured skull, shattered cheekbone, eyebrow and right eye orbit, crushed arms, a broken left leg, bruised right leg, two collapsed lungs, burns on his arms and back, and internal bleeding, not to mention the psychological impacts. Incredibly he survived and returned to active duty in January 1984, just two months later.

The two Marines, now both retired, met again yesterday, this time on a grassy knoll under a clear, blue fall morning sky at Arlington National Cemetery’s section 59. The section is dotted with the white headstones of those who died in the terrorist attack.

Nashton, Kelley, and about 100 friends and family members, along with a handful of survivors, gathered at the cemetery for the White House Commission on Remembrance’s 25th annual tribute to the 241 Americans, mostly Marines, who died that day. The attack was part of a coordinated attack in which another suicide bomber crashed into a French military compound at the same time. Fifty-eight French soldiers died.

Faithful Men 2 Timothy2Nashton was one of three Marines in his unit to survive the attack that morning. His unit was part of the 1,800 Marines serving in Lebanon as part of a multinational peacekeeping mission.

Kelley, who traveled to Beirut in the aftermath of the bombing, said he later took off the four stars that Nashton touched that day. He had them mounted in a shadow box inscribed with the Marine Corps motto, and he presented them to Nashton as he recovered at the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Md.

“In my heart of hearts he deserved those four stars more than I did,” Kelley said.

SEMPER FIDELIS-ALWAYS FAITHFUL.  These words come from a heart belief, a belief that does not change regardless of the circumstance. Just as Chris said:

“When I asked him why,” says Chris, “he said, ‘I want to make a difference. I’m a Marine.’ For me, there were no more questions. I understood. As a Marine, you feel your time is never over.”

So too, Christian Fathers who have become Men of God because of their HEART BELIEF will be ALWAYS FAITHFUL. Their time is never over. Once you give your heart to God, there is no turning back. The battle for God’s inheritance will ever be before you.

SemperFiCling_largeMighty Fathers of God need to adopt the motto of Semper Fi. We need to be ALWAYS FAITHFUL to Jehovah God, and to His Son Jesus Christ. Semper Fi.