EXCHANGING FATHERS

2 Thessalonians 2:16-17 – Now may our Lord Jesus Christ Himself and God our Father, who has loved us and given us eternal comfort and good hope by grace, comfort and strengthen your hearts in every good work and word.

The main purpose for Jesus’ living among His creation was to reveal the Father. Jesus is the express image of the Father in human form. The disciples really did not truly understand, even after three and a half years of walking with Jesus. This was demonstrated by Phillip’s request in John 14, “Show us the Father and it will be enough.” Jesus responded to Phillip by saying, “Have I been so long with you that you do not yet understand that when you have seen Me, you have seen the Father.”

Fathering is at the heart of restoration in the human race. Adam is the father of all on a human level. In his sin of disobedience, he lost the human standing before God. We have inherited his nature of self. Self is manifested in “selfishness.” Jesus came in human form, but did not have Adam’s nature of self, thus He did not have a sin nature. Jesus came with the nature of His heavenly Father (see Philippians chapter 2). It is a nature of “selflessness.” He gave up all His glory for every human being. “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life” (John 3:16).

When the Holy Spirit’s power “gave the right to become children of God” (John 1:12), we exchanged fathers. In baptism we die to Adam and are raised up in Christ a “new creation” (see Romans 6 and 2 Corinthians 5). God is now our Father. As His new creation we become part of His whole new work in Christ. Consider what Peter writes, “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; for you once were not a people, but now you have received mercy” (1 Peter 2:9-10).   

Father, I thank You that I can call You Father. I thank You for the redemptive work of Christ Your Son. I thank You for the power of the Holy Spirit who is working mightily in me.

PROTECTING YOUR VINEYARD

1 Kings 21:3 – But Naboth said to Ahab, “The Lord forbid me that I should give you the inheritance of my fathers.”

The story of Naboth and Ahab is a powerful example of how the Lord respects the inheritance of our fathers. Ahab wanted Naboth’s vineyard for selfish reasons. Ahab moved from desire to coveting the vineyard. For Naboth it was more than the money or even the offer of a better vineyard. It was about his inheritance which he had received from his fathers. It was about generations. It was about identity. It was, for Naboth, an integral issue.

Ahab did not understand “integrity.” Ahab’s evil wife certainly did not understand. She only knew the lust in her heart. She plotted to have Naboth killed so evil Ahab could have his heart’s desire. “The thief comes only to steal and to kill and destroy . . .” (John 10:10). Satan is a thief and his objective is to steel our inheritance given to us by our heavenly Father. John 10:10 concludes by saying, “I came that they might have life, and have it abundantly.”

The enemy tried to rob the vineyard of God, but failed through the power of the cross and in the resurrection of Jesus Christ (see Matthew 21:33-46). As the parable declares, “He will bring those wretches to a wretched end, and will rent out the vineyard to other vine-growers who will pay him the proceeds at the proper seasons” (Matthew 21:41).

The parable of the landowner is an illustration of Israel and Christ’s church made up of Jew and Gentile. The Lord protected His vineyard when He judged those who were in charge (the religious leaders of Jesus’ day). He has installed new vine-growers through the new birth. The Baptism of the Spirit is the all-inclusive work of the Holy Spirit in the life of the believer. The Spirit causes the believer to be a fruitful branch on the “Vine” which is Christ (see John 15). The Spirit makes us a worker in the Lord’s vineyard and calls us to give Him increased fruit.

Our inheritance is in the Lord. We must, through the power of the Holy Spirit, protect the portion of the vineyard He has assigned to us. It is our inheritance. Do not let an Ahab or a Jezebel rob you. We have authority over Satan’s kingdom as it affects our life and inheritance. Resist the devil and he will flee.

Father, I pray for an infilling of the Holy Spirit to be a successful worker in Your vineyard. I pray for increase that I might give to You, knowing it all belongs to You.

THE CHALLENGE OF OBEDIENCE

Mathew 21:28 – But what do you think?

Mathew 21:28-32 records the parable of the two sons. Jesus asked the chief priests the question, “What do you think?” after they had tried to trap Him with their question about the authority of John’s baptism, whether it was from heaven or from man (see Matthew 21:23-27).

Jesus uses the parable to reveal the heart of these religious leaders. The first son was asked by his father to go work in the vineyard, but he answered “I will not.” Eventually he did go. The father came to the second son and instructed him to go work in the vineyard, and he answered, “I will sir.” This son did not go. Jesus then asked, “Which of the two did the will of his father?” They answered “the first.”

Jesus responds to their answer with an amazing response. “Truly I say to you that the tax collectors and prostitutes will get into the kingdom of God before you.” They gave the correct answer, but their lives demonstrated the attitude of the second son’s rebellion.

Jesus then answers their first question about the authority of John’s baptism. “For John came to you in the way of righteousness and you did not believe him, but the tax collectors and prostitutes did believe him; and you, seeing this, did not even feel remorse afterward so as to believe him” (Matthew 21:32).

Belief is always the issue and belief is demonstrated in action. Some believe that James and Paul had two different views about faith. I believe they were dealing with two different issues. James was combating a superficial faith that had no wholesome effect in the life of the professed believer. Paul, on the other hand, was combating legalism—the belief that one may earn saving merit before God by his good deeds.

Father, I trust You for a belief system that evidences wholesome faith. Faith that is evidenced by my obedience to Your word as I allow the Holy Spirit to lead me.

MAKE SURE YOUR FOUNDATION IS SOLID

Matthew 7:24 – Therefore everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them, may be compared to a wise man who built his house on the rock. 

Jehovah God gave to Israel through Moses and the prophets, the material to build a sound foundation. Solid, because the words that formed the Law and the words the Prophets spoke perfectly of Christ who was created in the image of God and of man. Jesus is that man and He is the foundation of the new creation. The Holy Spirit is God’s instrument in the earth to bring forth God’s will through His new creation man born of God’s Spirit. First Christ, then all those who believe on Him.

A solid foundation begins by “hearing” the words of Jesus. Hearing is not simply hearing with one’s ears, but applying what has been heard. The key is in “acting” on Christ’s words. Jesus is the foundation, but the believer does the building with the help of the Holy Spirit. Jesus says the one who acts on His words is “wise.” We begin with a solid foundation then build wisely through obedience to the words of our Lord.

The Scriptures, in many places, guarantee that what we are building will be tested. The testing will be by rain, floods, and winds that will slam against our building. Each of these natural conditions is representative of events that bring destruction. Jesus uses these as examples for spiritual conditions that will arise against the building. If the building was not built wisely, it will not stand.

The truth which Jesus is teaching applies not only to individuals, but to nations as well. It is important that we examine our hearts and examine what we have built in our lives. Is it built upon the Lord Jesus Christ and His words? Are we dependent on the Holy Spirit to empower us in the building process? When we read the Scriptures it is important to ask the question, “How am I applying this truth in my life?”

Father, I ask for understanding concerning the building of my life in Christ. I ask for the Holy Spirit to show me any part that is not up to Your divine code. I pray that I might be a wise builder that brings glory to You as the tests come and as others observe what has been built.

LORD, LORD

Matthew 7:21 – Not everyone who says to me Lord, Lord, will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter.

For some, this is a difficult passage to understand. Many activities are done in the name of the Lord. Few are direct initiations of His will. Over the years, I have known many that accepted the Bible’s testimony of Jesus as Lord, but their lifestyle did not demonstrate that they had received Him as Lord. Saying that Jesus is Lord and doing things in His name, even supernatural activities, does not qualify one for the kingdom of heaven. Only doing the Father’s will, rooted in Jesus Christ through the work of the cross qualifies.

The Father sent Jesus to be the one and only sacrifice for sin. The first issue of the kingdom of God is rooted in repentance regarding our views and actions.  Changing my mind and exchanging it for His perfect view. I am undone, He is fully complete. I am wrong and He is right. I have nothing left to defend. When I stand before Him, I have nothing to say, only listen and obey.

As Jesus teaches on the Mount, He has all of Israel in mind. They had chosen a broad way, as the Law of God had been distorted by their religious leaders. Jesus came as the fulfillment of the Law. He also had appeared as the “stumbling block that the builders rejected” (Psalm 118:22). The Father had made Him the “head of the corner.”   

The practice of lawlessness is rooted in pride, false religion, self-effort, and anything else that does not come from the moral law of God. God’s law was established in the garden when He said “do not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil” (Genesis 2:17). The narrow way had been set. Only what God permits! There is no other way to life, but through Jesus, the Christ. This makes the world crazy. Jesus is the offense. Anything but this, please.

Let the cross of Jesus be your filter. Measure everything up against the old rugged cross. The Holy Spirit is committed to honor the cross. Satan and his kingdom are committed to making it an offense. “Lord, Lord” only resonates with the cross. Anything else is a deception.

Father, I choose to cling to the old rugged cross. I choose Jesus, the narrow way to life. The One who is the complete fulfillment of Your heart’s desire. Holy Spirit, lead me daily through the narrow gate.  

WHAT FOUNDATION HAVE YOU BUILT UPON?

Matthew 7:24 – Everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them may be compared to a wise man who built his house on the rock.

True grace is an absolute revelation of the total work of Christ through the cross. By faith, I receive His work on my behalf. By allowing the Holy Spirit to manifest Christ’s life through me it reveals that I am a wise person. The Holy Spirit only builds upon the words of Jesus. In His messages, Jesus warns us against the flesh and the devil. Both the flesh and the devil want to hinder the life of the true conqueror, Jesus, from being manifested through believers. Believers are members of His body, joined together and representing Jesus’ will in offering to an unregenerate world, “reconciliation” through the death/resurrection process accomplished by the Holy Spirit. 

What wonderful grace we have been given. My efforts are worthless; my rest is in His finished work. Yet, my awesome responsibility is to allow the Holy Spirit complete control of my spirit, soul, and body for the glory of God. A responsibility is to share with others this marvelous grace with the hope that they too will receive the love of the Father, and be transformed by His power becoming part of filling the earth and heaven with the “one new man,” even Christ. One day we will see the King, but the question today should be; is the King being seen in me?

In our passage for today, Jesus is addressing the Jewish covenant people. Their lives had been shaky for centuries as they built contrary to Moses instructions. Now Jesus had appeared to give them a new foundation “full of grace and truth” (John 1:14). He came to fulfill the law and thus provide a better foundation than that of Moses. Jesus came to build His house, built upon His words. The building process is both hearing His words and acting on His words. This cannot be done in our own efforts, but only through the power of the Holy Spirit which the Lord sent after the cross and His resurrection.  

Father, I ask You to help me evaluate how I am building. I pray for You to work in my heart to only build on the foundation Christ has given: His words and acting on those words daily.