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!
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!
Sometimes a battle starts with a conversation!
(Source of material: Rev. B.R. Hicks)
Recent events happening in this country are necessary so America and the world will accept the antichrist. We are not engaged in a natural battle. What happens on the natural plane is an indication of what is happening on the spiritual plane. We are engaged in a spiritual battle and the goal is for the entire world to accept and embrace antichrist. Fear, terror, and evil will abound as we draw near to the next great event on God's calendar: the Rapture or catching away of the LORD's Bride! It is the occupation of the Bride, so to speak, to praise the Headship of the Almighty Father as He chooses to judge this nation and the world. The Bride will praise His Name and Sovereign Headship for His Just Judgements! Everyone is looking for answers---why this, why that, what went wrong, what could we have done to prevent this? While looking for the answer the elephant in the room is ignored. The obvious answer is that this nation and the world has rejected the LORD and He, through His Great Love, is trying to reach out to us and bring us back to Him through Just Judgements. It is no time to be fearful or mad---just praise His Name! Just praise God from Whom all blessings flow! Don't be affected by recent events; His Judgements are Just and Right!
In Genesis 3:1, we read about a serpent. Because we are engaged in a spiritual battle, we can conclude that, in the garden, there was both a natural and spiritual serpent. Notice that the natural serpent was okay with being a conduit for the spiritual serpent. We have learned in prior lessons that the Tree of Knowledge was in the midst of the garden. The serpent went to the center of the Garden of Eden and climbed up into the Tree of Knowledge, giving himself an exalted position of authority over Adam male and female. The two were compelled to listen to the serpent because of his position over them. The Serpent simply started a conversation. A spiritual battle started because of a conversation. Having a conversation allows the enemy the opportunity to change and persuade minds. Some things you don't have to talk about; the mind is settled and there is no persuading or changing!
Please read Genesis 1:26-28. The two were created in the image and likeness of the LORD. In Genesis 2:7 they were given the breath of life (lives) or neshama. The breath (spirit) was given to maintain the image and likeness. They received image, likeness, and breath by gift; for what purpose? To subdue and have dominion over the earth and its creatures. The image, likeness, and breath was given to empower them to subdue and have dominion. Likewise, we are given the image, likeness, and breath of God to subdue and have dominion over our own earth and its corrupt "creatures". The new man and the baptism of the Holy Ghost is given to us by gift so we can subdue and rule over the old man. In order for Adam male and female to subdue and have dominion over the earth, they first needed God's image, likeness, and breath. After receiving these three components, they were to produce good works by dressing and keeping the garden, as well as eating from the Tree of Life. To produce good works of eating, dressing, and keeping (experience) they needed first the image, likeness, and breath (theory). When the serpent beguiled the two in the garden they were equipped with image, likeness, and breath and were ready to have an experience by eating, dressing, and keeping. The goal of the serpent was to prevent the two from having an experience by talking with them. The serpent did not want Adam male and female to connect theory to experience. When these two are connected there is no conversation that can persuade or convince otherwise. The image, likeness, and spirit is given by gift to aid the believer to cross over to the other side of the scales and produce good works by experiencing the theory. With theory and experience joined, the believer is given the power to subdue and have dominion over his or her earth. Theory and experience, together joined, produce good works. The serpent stopped the two in the garden from experiencing the theory. Consequently, they were not able to subdue and have dominion. They were banished from the Garden. Sometimes a battle starts with a conversation with the serpent. If he can talk to us, he knows he has a chance of changing and persuading our mind to sin. Often we are all too eager to converse with the serpent. The serpent does not engage us in conversation to be nice. His goal is to get us to relinguish our image, likeness, and breath so we are handicapped from having an experience with God. This, in turn, causes defeat to subdue and have dominion over the flesh (the old man). Finding it difficult to subdue and rule over a certain aspect of the old man? Is there a "creature" that has dominion? It could be that a conversation with the serpent is preventing victory.
An experience allows us to subdue and have dominion.
(Source of material: Rev. B.R. Hicks)
(Note: this lesson is related to #125; please read prior lesson if necessary)
Theory joined to experience produces good works. It is necessary to have the Word by theory (head) and by experience (heart). Theory is head knowledge which can evolve into heart wisdom through experience. When a joining takes place between the head and the heart, no conversation is able to persuade the believer that the truth is not real and alive. There is no conversation; the heart becomes unswervingly convinced that the truth it has experienced is an immutable anvil of iron, solid and unchanging. When hearing the truth in theory form, the mind understands and acknowledges the power and light that accompanies it. The mind sets the table, so to speak, for the heart to make that truth its own. Truth shared with the mind does not make it the possession of the heart---initially. Even though experience always follows theory, it is the choice of the heart to be converted and conformed by the stamping, impressing glory of the Word, thus, making that Word part of the heart. The Word is not ours until it is allowed to affect the nature of the old heart. When the Word causes a permanent impression upon the heart, this experience cannot be challenged; there is no conversation! The believer holds the key that unlocks experience. Faith in the effectual ability of the Word, and a choice to let it do its work causes change. All too often we thwart the operation of the Spirit and negate the attempts by the Son of God to mold and reshape the heart. Our choices have eternal consequences, sometimes even to the point that we reject with the heart what we say we believe with the mind. We must believe and have faith (spiritual eyesight) in the workings of the Son of God and the Holy Spirit! If we are to subdue and have dominion, we must have an experience!
Please read Luke 22:31-32. For almost 4 years Simon Peter was a diciple of Jesus, daily exposed to heavenly theories spoken by the LORD Himself. He felt the power and the glory of the Light as it was expressed by God in Flesh. Nearing the end of His ministry, at the Passover Supper, Jesus speaks to Simon Peter a very personal message. Notice that the LORD did NOT pray that Satan NOT sift Peter. Jesus knew that the sifting was necessary. So, in this verse, we discover the "ministry" of Satan: to sift the saints! Sift means to be passed through a sieve, to be separated from the coarser particles and let the finer particles pass through. In other words, Satan is allowed to sift the saints so the reality of the Word received in theory can be made manifest through an experience. In the sifting process the serpent comes to engage the believer in a conversation..."Hath God said?" By having a conversation we open ourselves to being persuaded against the theory we have just learned. The objective of Satan and the serpent is to "reason" with us and eventually cause us to make a choice of rejection against the truth. His objective is to pass us through a sieve so we do not experience the truth. Satan knows the power of theory joined to experience and sifts us to prevent this union from happening. It all starts with a conversation to get us distracted from having a powerful experience with the truth. In verse 32, Jesus prayed that the sifting take place and that Peter's faith fail not. So, we also see, through this verse, that it is faith (spiritual eyesight) that carries us through the sifting process to the successful conclusion of experiencing the truth. At the end of the verse, after sifting and exercising faith, conversion of the heart is the conclusion. This is so powerful! After conversion the believer can then strengthen the brethren! To say it differently, after theory has been joined to experience through the sifting process, we can have a positive impact, through our personal testimony, on other believers near and around us! Remember, Jesus did not pray that Satan not sift Peter...He prayed that Peter's faith be strong in the theory he had learned as a diciple to allow him to have an effect on those around him, and, evertually, the world. Upon this rock (Peter) I will build my church! Because of the faith of Peter and his experience with it, the world was turned upside down and multitudes have come to know Jesus. Who can we strengthen and have a positive impact upon through our personal testimony by having an experience? Having a conversation with the serpent allows the possibility to be persuaded to not have an experience. Who is being cheated out of a confession that Jesus Christ is LORD by not having faith in the truth?
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!
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