Is it okay to fear?
(Source of material: Rev. B.R. Hicks)
Our lesson is about Jehoshaphat (Jphat), King of Judah. It will come mainly from 2 Chronicles 20 but, if you wish, please read chapters 18 and 19 to familiarize yourself with this righteous and good king. In chapter 18 Jphat goes to battle with Ahab. In 19, he returns from battle to Judah where he ignites a revival. The land is swept clean of various idols and there is a renewal of spirit in the people to serve God. Jphat cleaned up himself personally and his actions sparked a desire in the nation to do the same. He was good for himself and for Judah. On the heels of this national revival comes another war; this time with Moab, Ammon, and Mt. Seir. Please read 2 Chronicles 20:1. Seems like God would have given Jphat a respite and congratulated him for leading Judah through a revival but, such was not the case. Here comes another battle. He got the victory and was led into another battle. Victory, battle, victory, battle, etc. Spiritually, the same happens to us. We are in a military way; we fight battles! A battle is good---it allows us to walk in the light from the most recent victory! Seasons of blessing are followed by another war which allows us to experience the theory of the previous victory. Jphat's battle involved Moab, Ammon, and Mt. Seir. Please note that in order for these three nations to approach Judah's border, they had to move through Israel. Israel was so backslid it did not consider these heathen to be enemies. Moab and Ammon were the incestuous sons of Lot, Mt. Seir was Esau. Likewise, the Christian world does not consider some things enemies that we do. Lukewarmness has dulled their senses.
In the face of this impending battle, verse 3 says that Jphat feared and fasted. He did not ignore his fear. He acknowledged it and took it to the LORD. He used his fear to get closer to God. Fear will lead us to either redeem self or draw closer to God. Moab and Ammon are a spiritual picture to us of the desire to redeem self. Mt. Seir (Esau) is a picture of hatred. Instead of trying to redeem himself and Judah by his hatred, Jphat chose to use his fear as a vehicle to humiliate himself before God. An enemy is to get us to confess our weakness and His strength. Furthermore, in verses 6-13, Jphat recites a beautiful prayer where he remembers who God is and rehearses what He has already done for him and Judah. Feeling fearful? Afraid of current worldly events? Start rehearsing what the LORD has already done and how faithful He has been to get you this far! He hasn't brought us this far to not finish the work! Confess Who He is and what He's already done! Recognize and identify that we, as unlearned human beings, can not redeem ourselves. He will start AND finish the work. In verse 15, we read that the LORD said to not be afraid. In other words, they brought their fear to God and His response was to tell them to not be afraid. They used their fear to get closer to the LORD and not redeem themselves. In verse 17, His response to this action was they didn't need to fight. If we refrain from redeeming ourselves and take our fear to God, He will fight our battles for us! The battle is the feeling of us trying to redeem self. Stand, believe, sing, and praise against trying to figure it out and come up with an alternate plan. We have the urge to go out and imitate God. We have no business trying to redeem something that is reserved for God's intervention only.
Salvation comes from the LORD ONLY! Deliverance comes when we remember Who He is and rehearse what He has already done. Deliverance comes when we believe!
What is "the unity of the faith"?
(Source of material: Rev. B.R. Hicks)
Please read Isaiah 9:6-7. Notice that verse 6 states, "that the government shall be upon his SHOULDER. . . ". Which shoulder? In Hebrew, the word for shoulder means divide, center of the neck. This depicts a pair of scales, as it were, with the center of the scales being the base of the neck and the arms of the scales going left and right. The "government" is the center of the scales with pleasure on one side and pain on the other. Government is a balance of pleasure and pain. In order to attain balance there must be equal measures of pleasure and pain. The LORD diligently attempts to balance His government in all of our lives; His desire is for us to fall in love with His Just Government whether given through pain or pleasure. The will of God is accomplished through two routes: first pleasure, secondly pain. When we do the will of God we give Him an experience and fill up His Cup of Delight. Repentance at the Cross fills His Cup of Delight which will, in turn, overflow in to the heart of the believer. True pleasure is the overflow of delight from the Father. If believer's please the Father, delight is reaped where it has been sowed.
The shadow and type of the LORD's government is at the Ark of the Covernant, the Head Realm of the Mosaic Tabernacle. Experiencing the pleasure and pain of the government of God means being in the Father's Realm. The LORD's desire is for the Bride to carry the government upon her shoulder; God wants the Bride to carry the ark (as it was done by Israel during their wilderness journey). If you look at a Tabernacle chart, you will see Judgments at the Head Realm. The Bride loves the government of the LORD, administered in either pain or pleasure. The word "Judgments" in the Hebrew is "mitsvah". These are judgments that are favorable or unfavorable. The Bride, carrying the Ark of God on her shoulder, praises His wonderful Judgments given in pleasure or pain. She will praise His Glorious Name with equal fervor for favorable or unfavorable events. The Bride loves His Just Judgments and His government, consequently, she praises Him for which ever way it is administered. She is in love with HIM! His Judgments are JUST AND RIGHTEOUS!
The line of sight of the cherubim on the Mercy Seat was directed inward and down. Each cherub focused on the center of the Mercy Seat, or the center of the scales of God's government of pleasure and pain (balance). The direction of their sight was concentrated on the unity of pain and pleasure of the government of God. What is unity? The balance of pleasure and pain.
Please read Ephesians 4:11-13. Verse 13 mentions "the unity of the faith". What is "the unity of the faith"? 1. We believe in God's Headship whether in pain or pleasure. 2. Pain or pleasure does not dictate whether or not I praise His Name. 3. Looking at the center, or the unity of pleasure and pain, like the cherubim on the Mercy Seat. 4. Everything is constant, it's all the same, it's all the NAME! The Bride is unaffected by outward events and circumstances. She carries the government on her shoulder which requires that she exalt Him in every-THING! When the Bride is sent out of the New City, whatever abode she visits, glorious praise to His Name will issue from her. She knows that pain and pleasure, both, fulfill and accomplish the will of God. She learned this during her sojourn on earth and carries this same realization into eternity. His will is done through both pain and pleasure!
Beware of the white hand of leprosy: self-righteousness!
(Source of material: Rev. B.R. Hicks)
Please read Exodus 4:19-24 and Genesis 17:14. After the burning bush experience, Moses sets out for Egypt with his wife Zipporah and sons. Zipporah had the knowledge of circumcision but would not allow Moses to perform this act on her sons. She shielded her sons because, in Midian, it was not a common practice. What was good in Midian did not pass as acceptable when returning to Egypt and the Hebrew nation. Upon leaving Midian, circumcision became very important because Moses had violated a covenant given in Genesis. A death angel came to him; he was dying and was unable to perform the act. Zipporah circumcised her sons while Moses lay dying. Like Moses, we face death as a consequence of our disobedience. Spiritual death comes with disobeying the commandments of God. The LORD requires obedience; we determine whether in blessing or judgement. In Exodus 4:21-23, God gives specific instructions to Moses, even down to what he should say in the presence of Pharoah. Take note that the LORD explained to him that He would harden the heart of Pharoah "that he shall not let the people go". Moses was warned in advance to expect this reaction. Please read verses 29-31 (same chapter). The Hebrew nation, held in Egyptian bondage, gives us a blueprint on how to receive the Word of God. They heard and understood which produced belief; then they worshipped. Hear, see, believe, worship!
Moses and Aaron have an audience with Pharoah but do not deliver the message given them in chapter 4:22-23. In chapter 5:1-3 we see they added and subtracted from the Word. The LORD said nothing about a feast (a party) or going 3-days journey into the wilderness to sacrifice. Moses watered down the message to Pharoah; he removed the "punch" and the seriousness. In 4:23 the word serve means a permanent lifestyle change, not an addition or somenthing to make them feel good. They were to serve - - - commit to a total lifestyle change of giving themselves in service to Jehovah God! In a previous lesson, the old man is a spiritual picture of a grasping, controlling, enslaving Pharoah. The LORD God says to the old man, "Let my people go that they may SERVE me"! In other word, loose my people that they can commit to a total lifestyle change and give themselves in complete service to God! He does not want us to be satisfied with some "fire insurance" and being a Sunday Christian; just enough to assuage the conscience and relieve some guilt. Service to Him should be a sold-out, jump-in-with-both-feet-go-all-the-way-ain't-looking-back commitment!
Please read chapter 5:20-23. Moses pours out his complaint to the LORD. He took the punch and seriousness out of the message, he provided no sign, and spoke the wrong words. He complained because his interpretation of the Word was not blessed. Moses was specifically told that He would harden Pharoah's heart and would not let the people go. Just like Moses, we get mad at God and blame Him when our efforts, rooted in our carnal interpretations and expectations, aren't blessed. Remember the color of Moses' hand when he pulled it out of his bosom? Self-righteousness, the white hand of leprosy, causes us to accuse and blame the LORD when our efforts aren't blessed; when we are the ones seriously wrong!
How do I have gratitude for others and myself?
(Source of material: Rev. B.R. Hicks)
Please read 1 Corinthians 10:16-17. In verse 17, the Apostle Paul speaks of the blessing of unity which brings many individuals into one body through the precious blood and bread of the LORD. Notice this unity is not experienced through natural things or events. This unity is not a product of a form. Unity between the brotherhood has its roots in the spiritual realm.
Please read Numbers 6:22-27. In the book of Exodus we are given the blueprint of the Mosaic Tabernacle. Leviticus gives us the laws that govern the sacrifices. Furthermore, the book of Numbers explains, in detail, ordinances governing the camp of Israel. The Tabernacle was laid out in the form of a cross; 3 tribes were assigned a point of the cross, totaling 12 tribes. Three tribes camped on the east, 3 tribes camped on the west, and so on around the north and south. Moses received a "hebrew blessing" from the LORD which was to be spoken over the entire nation. As this blessing was spoken, the breath of the LORD would encircle the nation and cause unity among the tribes. The Name made the camp one. With the Name encircling Israel, the LORD's face would shine and generate gratitude for others and self. The breath and Name of LORD generates gratitude; gratitude was a sign that the Name had encircled the camp. Likewise, when we have gratitude for the LORD, others, and self, it should be a sign to us that His breath of blessing has encircled our heart. Unity is not manufactured from carnal forms and exercises. This program, that program, another meeting, coming together for a carnal purpose does not stimulate the presence of the LORD's unity. Sweet unity among the brotherhood is spiritual; emanating from the pleasure of the LORD's Name, gratitude for others and for self. Conversely, ingratitude causes us to alienate the brotherhood and self.
Leviathan, our arch enemy, has stolen the principles of God, perverted them, and uses them for his own purpose. He has successfully stolen parts of the "hebrew blessing" and breathed his own foul breath of disunity on them to cause ingratitude for others and self. He generates a form of unity by the emotion of ingratitude. Through scorn, ingratitude, and blasphemy he causes a corrupt unity which joins the armies of Leviathan together in a common purpose. Remember Pilate and Herod were joined together in a corrupt unity against Jesus Christ when beforehand they despised one another. They shared an equal amount of ingratitude for Jesus causing them to unify and kill the Son of God.
Our Heavenly Father, after He introduced His Beloved Son and commanded Him to create all things, retreated with gratitude into the unknown. We have the opportunity to fellowship the Father when we do likewise. Being unknown offers us the chance to fall back into the realm of the Father and experience His gratitude for others (the Son of God). Being grateful for not being known is a precious treasure; that's where the Father is.
Ingratitude for others and self breaks the unity of the Name. Please read Ephesians 4:11-16. Unity is spiritual, as well as gratitude. Ingratitude draws us to the wrong crowd who have corrupt motives that tear down, disunify, and destroy. The blessing of God is demonstrated by our love and acceptance of people; loving them for just who they are. Gratitude allows us to enjoy the presence of others, believer or non-believer. Additionally, we have gratitude for ourself---just the way we are! How many times have we looked in the mirror and voiced our displeasure at what we see? If only this, if only that, if only I was taller, if only I didn't have grey hair, etc, etc, etc! The LORD's breath and blessing allows us to look in the mirror and say, "Praise God! Thank you, LORD"! Having gratitude for others and self is a sign that the LORD's blessing has encircled us and His face is shining on us!
A personal relationship influences those around us
(Source of material: Rev. B.R. Hicks)
(Note: #121 is the conclusion to a 4-part series starting with #118)
In Exodus 4, Moses has quite a conversation with the LORD at the burning bush. The LORD revealed 4 signs to Moses with the purpose of convincing him to simply believe that He was able to perform what He wanted to do with Israel. When Moses was rooted in unwavering belief in the Name and Nature of the Almighty God, this experience would then influence Israel to believe as well. Moses was to establish a personal, impirical relationship with God which, in turn, would cause Israel to yearn for the same experience. Revelation of the Word is not for us to go out and try to impress others with what we know. Revelation comes for the purpose of the recipient to establish and maintain personal contact with the Source; to have a deep experience with the Giver. Please read I Corinthians 13:1. The fruit of a personal experience is LOVE. If there is no love in the voice (a personal experience) then it is "sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal". The LORD knew that Moses had to return to Israel and speak to them in love. He had to establish a personal relationship first so he could accomplish turning their unbelief in to belief. Israel would hear the voice of his union with and love for God. They would realize he had something they wanted and it started with belief in His Heavenly, Divine, Name and Nature.
Regarding the first sign, the rod, Moses was to pick up the serpent by the tail. When you pick up the tail you also get the rest of the serpent, including his head - - - you get the whole serpent! Wisdom begins with confessing that the LORD is the Head over all things! Wisdom, the Son of God, the Word of God, is really what is important- - - not earthly wisdom in the form of opinions and perceptions. The LORD had Moses throw down his ideas, education, perceptions, opinions, etc. and grab hold of Serpent Wisdom: God is the Head!
In reference to the second sign, notice what color Moses' hand was when he pulled it from his bosom (Exodus 4:6). White leprosy is a spiritual picture of self-righteousness. Moses was unaware of the self-righteousness of his heart until pulling his hand out from his bosom (heart). Self-righteousness is dangerous because we can't see it; at least until it is revealed by God. He wants the heart clean, a result of having a personal relationship with the LORD. The LORD proved to Moses He had the power to clean the heart when he removed his hand from his bosom and his hand was clean. Accept wisdom, look at the condition of the heart because it affects ministry and service. We are to look at our OWN heart.
Referring to the third sign, the blood, Moses was to pour out his life (blood) in being an example of what Israel could experience for themselves. Please read John 15:13. This verse is printed in red ink, spoken by Jesus Himself. Love is manifested through the pouring out of life (blood) in service to others and the brotherhood. When a personal relationship is flourishing in the life of a believer, they speak and liquid love is poured out in to the hearts of those listening. Words are move powerful when connected to a practicing example. Moses was to live the Word before Israel and influence them to love the Word. We are to throw down our own wisdom, have a clean heart, minister with clean hands, pour out our life and be an example to those around us by living the Word (love). It is a relationship with God that affects others.
Moses' stammering tongue is the final sign. He complained he was not eloquent; he didn't know the Hebrew language. For only 5 years Moses spoke Hebrew, for the next 75 he spoke Egyptian. The LORD said He would teach his mouth the Hebrew language - - - when Moses got out of the way! God wants our weakness, not our strength, so He can work.
In the end, Moses outright rejected the fourth sign. Similarly, he discounted the three preceding signs and didn't take them personally. He did not use all four signs for their intended use: to establish a personal relationship with the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. His relationship would have caused him to be an example to Israel and lead them from unbelief to belief as they travelled to Canaan's Land. These four signs are given to us as present-day believers (2 Timothy 3:16-17) for the purpose of taking them personally; developing and establishing an intimate relationship with our Precious LORD as we make our journey from earth to Heavenly Canaan's Land!