God should be our way of life; who we are; what we do!
(Source of material: Rev. B.R. Hicks)
Please read Canticles 8:5. The LORD wanted everyone to look at this spectacle: a woman coming up out of the wilderness! He pointed her out, He acknowledged her presence, He drew attention to, noticed, discerned this person coming UP out of the wilderness having the victory. He said, "Who is this that has the victory"? There are two meanings for wilderness: 1. unrestrained growth and 2. barreness. "Who is this that is ascending up out of unrestrained growth and barreness"? "Who is this coming up out of the unrestrained growth of feelings and emotions"? Notice what she was doing---leaning! She was bending, not standing upright, exhibiting little strength. In her wilderness experiences she had learned that she could not depend on the barren, dry, parched earth of her sinful nature and its wild emotions but only on her Beloved. Self and others had let her down too many times. She knew that only her Beloved could offer her the strength to have victory. She experienced the weakness of self and others and learned not to lean on anybody. She learned dependence by leaning. Notice too, that she brought no attention to herself; no boasting in her own ability. She was taught that the wilderness was a place not for what she could do, but what she could become through Him. What is the lesson of a "wilderness"? Learning to lean!
Please read Exodus 4:22-23. This was what the LORD told Moses to say to Pharoah. Now compare Exodus 5:1 to Exodus 4:22-23. This is what Moses actually spoke to Pharoah. Moses failed to convey the preponderant message intended for Pharoah. The word "serve" in verse 23 has the meaning of serving because this is what you do, this is your way of life, this is what you have committed to be and do. The message to Pharoah was diluted. It meant to him that they just wanted to go offer sacrifices. The LORD wants our relationship with Him to be a commitment. He wants Him to be our all-in-all. Paying partial lipservice to the existence of God is good for some (minus much of the responsibility of being a Christian) but He asks us to know Him so well that we learn to lean on our Precious Bridegroom. He wants us to experience the failure and weakness of the old man and others. He wants Himself and His Son to be our way of life, what we do! He wants all other things to revolve around our personal interaction with Him! He desires the carnal head to relinquish its commanding interference with the Head of Christ. He also desires for us to find strength only in Him when the unrestrained growth of our wild emotions swirl violently and captivate our minds. We are the Bride FIRST; all other things in our lives are only tools to make us a Bride! It is not the importance of the journey but what we become through the journey. The journey is provided to allow us the chance to be His Bride. God is what we do!
Please read Matthew 5:16. As we travel toward the High Places and become more like Him, He pours into us His attributes to replace the caustic behavior of the old heart. We find ourselves more merciful, compassionate and kind. If He is our way of life, we pour out to others what He has poured into us. The more we pour out and exhibit Him, the more He is faithful to pour His nature into us. Verse 16 does not give any conditions upon which we are to let our light shine. Just let it shine---EVERYWHERE! Pour out His nature in whatever situation is at hand. He pours in, we pour out. By displaying His nature we are helping Him fulfill His commitment which He swore to do: make His Name (nature) known. We have been offered the chance to help Him make His Name known to a dying and dark world. We are the Bride first, God is Who we are!
He wants to convert Mt. Ebal into a fruitful plain!
(Source of material: Rev. B.R. Hicks)
Please read Genesis 12:1-7. The LORD had great plans for Abram but he was living in the wrong place. To implement His Plan, it was necessary for Abram to leave the land where he was living and follow God to another location. God's Plan was not benefiting Abram where he was. Part of the Plan for Abram and his family was for them to move to a distant land, believing by faith that God would direct their way. Sometimes the LORD wants to uproot us, as believer's, and take us to a new location so His Plan can come to pass in our personal lives. Spiritual growth will happen if we are in the right place and surrendered to be there. To be in His personal presence and experiencing spiritual growth is all that really matters. Abram actively made a choice to participate, calculate, arrange, and implement God's Plan. He wouldn't be mysteriously transported to a new country. It took planning, making tough decisions, arranging and lots of preparation to leave Ur. Read verse 2 again. Look at these 4 encouraging promises that he embraced. He knew all the planning and arranging would be worth having God near and blessing him. Read verse 6 again. Notice where the LORD told him to go: the plain of Moreh. Specifically, Abram travelled to Mt. Ebal in Moreh. This was a barren, dead, unfruitful mountain. The LORD gave Abram 4 wonderful promises if he would travel to Mt. Ebal and look what he got---a dead, unfruitful plot of mountainous land! You might think that God could have rewarded him with a lush, green oasis with vast vineyards and oliveyards to reward him for all the effort he made to obey. Instead, he got barren and dusty Mt. Ebal. Look at verse 7 again. Not one peep of complaint came out of Abrams mouth in resistance or rebellion. He BUILT AN ALTAR! He didn't want to change Mt. Ebal or complain that he was worthy of more. He wanted to change first by offering sin, whole burnt, and peace offerings. He kept his attention and focus on what really mattered: getting cleansed from indwelling sin. The old man presents himself to us in many different ways. The barren, dead deeds of the body of sin give us the opportunity to build an altar and offer sacrifices. Instead of focusing on the death of the old man, we can build an altar and be changed! Our inheritance is Mt. Ebal; the old man. The LORD desires to transform and renew the old man and use it to build a new man: Christ! There are two salvations: one for the sinner and one for the saint. The sinner is saved from death and hell and the saint is saved from the world, the flesh, and the devil or, Mt. Ebal. To be a saint, we must be presented with Moreh and Mt. Ebal. He wants us to wash the inside of the cup first and then he will make the land fruitful and bountiful.
Exposure of sin comes for two reasons: 1. for Him to convert us and 2. To prove Who He is and that His Word is Perfect. In verse 2, the LORD says, "I will, I will, I will..." He exposes sin so He can prove what He said He'll do. We must see the old man (Mt. Ebal) so he can change Moreh into a fruitful plain (the new man). It is all for one purpose: "that you may know Who I Am". Confessing a desire to know Him in a greater way is to say, "expose the sins of my old man". He wants to convert Moreh and Mt. Ebal into a fruitful plain.
Are we willing to climb a mountain to be near Him?
(Source of material: Rev. B.R. Hicks)
Change is inevitable, it is always coming, it is just around the corner; we have to change with it. Being creatures of habit, comfortable with familiarity, change is sometimes difficult to handle. It disrupts our routine. We grow complacent and stagnant without change. Change is good in that it brings the opportunity for new surrender. The old man should always be in a state of crucifixion, nailed to the tree with the blood covering him. The new man should always be evolving, growing, expanding into the image and likeness of Jesus Christ. The Crucified Way is not a "Way of Accomodation" to the flesh. The old man should not be "adjusting", it should be changing! Christian stagnation is a common malady among believers. It plagues the best of us! When the old is decreasing and the new is increasing, change comes hard and fast and we must accept it. We can accept and thank God for the change or we can always do what we love to do: get ANGRY!
Please read Ephesians 1:22. This scripture tells us that all things are (present tense) under His feet. This also means that His entire stature is dominating all things. His Head, His Hands, everything is above all things, controlling every situation with all power and authority to do what is necessary. The problem is that the believer wants to be the head, usurping God's position, placing the temporal above the spiritual. We enjoy being the head---even controlling people. Why do we have such a problem with people? Most of the time they don't perform according to our head! Unfortunately, we have the Luciferic head (until we are divorced from it) that says, "I will ascend, I will be like the most High". Spoken another way---I want to be the head! Impatience is an emotion expressed when our headship is defeated or ignored. Remember Uzzah reaching out and trying to stabilize the Headship of God? God's Headship does not need human assistance to keep it from falling over. We fail miserably at trying to be the head so we think God can't succeed either; He will fail, therefore, we feel compelled to assist Him. His hands are part of His stature, which is above all things. His hands can mold and shape any substance into whatever is needed at any given moment---He CANNOT fail.
Please read 1 Thessalonians 5:18. The easiest and best way to remove our headship from any given event is to give thanks to the One Who is the Head! Giving thanks to the Head Who is controlling all things (including people) establishes the correct order: He is above and I am under His feet as part of all things.
Please read Matthew 15:29-30. Notice that Jesus went up into a mountain and sat down. Gathering at the foot of the mountain was a great multitude that included maimed, blind, dumb, and lame people. Where did He go? Why did He go way up there when many of us need healing all the way down here? You mean I have to climb a mountain to get to Him? He should come down to me---doesn't He know I'm blind? Surely He understands that I'm lame and can't climb a mountain---He needs to come to me! Jesus was doing exactly what the Father was telling Him to do. Nobody would ascend the mountain unless the Father was drawing that person to Him. Jesus spoke Himself, saying, He did nothing but what the Father was leading Him to do. Climbing a mountain, especially with these problems, is difficult. The Father was giving them an opportunity to make a choice! Despite lameness, blindness, and dumbness, He was at the top of a mountain waiting for them to choose to be near Him. Their problem drove them to be in His presence. He wanted them to endure a hard struggle so they could be near Him. If they loved HIM, they would climb a mountain. Will the believer choose to be near Him, experience hardship and pain, when He is separated in a high mountain? Does the believer love the Person of Jesus or the gifts? If you love Him, you will climb a mountain! Many times we think He should bless us---look how far we've come? We have been such good Christians! Making a choice is a demonstration of love and faith. The Father was not being mean or ugly by leading Jesus to a mountain. He was giving the enviroment for them to make a choice to be near Him despite their physical limitations. He set the enviroment for them to demonstrate their faith and love. Undoubtedly there were many who got angry and left because they let their ailment hinder them from reaching Him. Love for Him will persuade the believer to be near Him. Love for Him cannot tolerate being separated from Him. Whatever is necessary---love will drive me to Him!
Private or Public---which shall it be?
(Source of material: Rev. B.R. Hicks)
God's plan for the new man is that he grow into the image and likeness of the LORD. Conversely, the old man is condemned to decrease and yield his power, authority, and influence to the new man. It is God's plan for the old man to lose his ability to control the believer. We will always have the old man with us, but his influence and control should be severely curtailed. The new man "feeds" off the old by being renewed. We must see how unlike Christ we are so we can take it to Calvary, get it washed in the blood (renewed), and expand the new man. Exposure is an answer to prayer. We have prayed, "Jesus, I want to be more like you, I want to be in the Bride, I want to love you more!" When He exposes our carnal nature (answering our prayer) we sometimes get mad at the vehicle or utensil Jesus has used to show us our problem. It is so easy to get sidetracked from what is really happening. Exposure is a blessing, an indication that Jesus is still attempting to get us to the Bride. He has heard our cry to be in the Bride and He will not relent; exposure means He is still fulfilling His part of the bargain! If we want to love Him more, He must show us where we are loving something else that is preventing our heart from fully loving Him. If we want to love Him more, He must crush the idolatrous loves of our heart!
Please read Exodus 37:1. It is revealed here that Bezaleel made one of the two arks possessed by Israel. Reading further in verse six, we see that this ark had a mercy seat placed over it. Now read Deuteronomy 10:1-3. Here we find that Moses also made an ark of wood that did not have a mercy seat. In verse 2, we read that Moses broke the original set of tables for which Moses was never reprimanded by the LORD. In verse 3, Moses makes a second set of tables. The original, broken set of tables went into the ark made by Bezaleel. The unbroken, second set of tables were placed inside Moses' ark. The ark of Bezaleel was carried upon the shoulders of the priests, the ark of Moses was lifted up by the LORD Himself. Please read Numbers 10:33-36. The ark of Moses would rise into the Cloud and Fire, minus a mercy seat, and scatter Israel's enemies. Their enemies were shown no mercy by the unbroken law, yet, Israel carried an ark with the broken law concealed inside, covered by a mercy seat. The LORD was concealing Israel's sin of breaking the law from her enemies. The Father was dealing privately with Israel regarding her sin, at the same time dealing with her enemies with no mercy. He did not show the sin of Israel to the other nations---it was private.
Please read the story of Peter in Acts 10:1-22. Note in verse 17 that Peter doubted in himself what the vision should mean. In verse 34, he seemingly gets a "revelation" and determines that God is no respecter of persons. God was trying to reach Peter privately, regarding a sin in his own heart, by showing him the various animals in the vision. Peter did not recognize his own sin privately, so the LORD went public. Please read Galatians 2:1-14. The LORD used Paul to publicly (verse 14: "before them all") reprimand Peter for his hypocrisy. Peter separated himself from those who were not Jews. Spoken another way, he considered non-Jews to be unclean which demanded him to not eat with them. In verse 11, Paul "withstood him to the face" for his hypocritical behaviour. Peter's action also caused other apostles to sin because they followed him in his behaviour. Peter misinterpreted the vision and did not see, privately, that he was calling other nations unclean. The LORD had no choice but to reveal his sin publicly through the Apostle Paul. Peter did repent and in later epistles refers to Paul in endearing ways. God does not expose our sin publicly if we accept his reproof and chastisement privately. He will conceal our sin from our enemies while encouraging us to humble ourselves and repent privately. This is a "Way" of just Him and the individual believer. He loves us all one-on-one, just Him and me!
A conversation talks us out of doing the will of God.
(Source of material: Rev. B.R. Hicks)
(Note: this lesson is an expansion of the principle found in #125 and #126: having a conversation with the serpent. Please read if necessary.)
Today, the mind is the battlefield on which eternal destinies are determined. Many times it is not the event or the situation that causes us agony; it is what we think about it. What is thought about people, places and things is what bothers the believer. The mind, after getting in full "swing", is like an ape grabbing vine after vine, swinging from one thought to another causing grief and anger. After thoughts comes feelings. Thoughts are the house in which the feelings dwell. When emotions take up residence in the house of thoughts and become a part of the equation, agony of mind quickly follows. Emotions compound and magnify thoughts. When the emotions get involved---LOOK OUT! Michael, the archangel, in the book of Jude, did not bring a railing accusation against the devil over the body of Moses. He said, "The LORD rebuke thee". To say it differently, "I'm not having a conversation with you". "I'm not going to think anything about this event or let my emotions get involved---the LORD rebuke thee"! We should take a lesson from this and ask God to help us not have a conversation with the enemy.
Please read Acts 1:15-26. Peter had a thought. His thought was to add an apostle to the remaining eleven. He justified his thought with a scripture out of Psalms. Sounded pretty good and legit. He tread into Jesus' territory and played God to fulfill a need. Just because there is a need does not mean the believer plays God and fills that need according to a personal "revelation". Sometimes needs are met out of the will of God! Jesus died to sweep away the law of the Old Testament. Why was Peter using the Old Testament principle of casting lots to choose another apostle? He had a thought and a conversation with the serpent. The serpent told him he was the leader of the apostles, if anyone should choose an apostle it was him, there is a need that you are big enough to handle, etc. Jesus was well aware that there was a vacancy. It was not his time to fill that vacancy because His candidate was not ready to assume it. When the time was right, Jesus would appoint His twelfth apostle. Matthias was chosen, who was not ready to fill that position. Acts 1 is the only place in the Bible where Matthias is mentioned. He did nothing notable that was worthy of being recorded in the scriptures. His apostleship was "vanilla". After this event, the apostles went to the Upper Room.
Please read Acts 2:1-4. Here we read what the will of God was for the remaining eleven: go to the Upper Room and wait for the Holy Ghost. The will of God was simple and direct; it did not include taking a detour after having a conversation with the serpent and choosing a twelfth apostle. They were to wait and be introduced to the Comforter. Peter sought comfort in another place. By having a conversation, he was comforted by the serpent that he had done the right thing. Peter was pleased with himself that he had been so proactive and such a good leader by fulfilling a need. Corrupt comfort consoled Peter, all the while being out of the will of God. Corrupt comfort comes when we have a conversation with the serpent, cheating us out of an experience with the Comforter, the Holy Ghost! A conversation talks us out of doing God's Will. In verse 2 we read of a rushing, mighty wind. The wind preceded the outpouring of the Holy Ghost to cleanse and sanctify them from their detour out of the will of God. If we seek Him and His Will, we allow Him the opportunity to act and fill a need. Having a conversation with the enemy allows us the opportunity to intrude into His position. We must have the faith to believe that He will meet a need in His time and when everything is right. God is never late---He is always right on time!