Newsletter February, 2007

ORLANDO CHINESE CHURCH

MONTHLY NEWSLETTER

January & February 2007


Having Done the Will of God

DeVern Fromke

(I) The Separation Work of God

The theme for the retreat is "Having Done the Will of God". The Philips translation for Heb 10:36 is, "Patient endurance is what you need if, after doing God's Will, you are to receive what He has promised." Let's take the life of Abraham, and see how God brought him through to His full purpose.

 

Please read Gen 12:1-8. I like to consider the fact that God's will has three main aspects: Goal, Process and Timing. If we understand the end of the goal that God is working towards, we can understand the process that He takes us through.

 

Altar vs. Tent

Bethel was the goal that God works towards Abraham's life, not Ai. Bethel means "House of God", and Abram built an Altar for the Lord. Ai means "Heap of ruins", and Abram built a tent there. The House of God is built with living stones that have to be shaped to fit together. It may be hurting when things are cut off during the process. If we choose to change the pile, we will only end up in another heap of ruins.

 

We have a choice: the House or the heap? This brings out the significance of the Altar and the tent. The Altar is to dedicate our lives to God and the tent is a place where we need to live. Abram first built the Altar, then pitch the tent. Our minds are pre-occupied with the tent, but God wants us to built altars.

 

Ephesians 1:11-18 talks about our inheritance and His inheritance in the Saints. Our inheritance is man-centered and His inheritance is God-centered. When Jesus died, we got inheritance. So who should die if God is to get inheritance? Us! We need to die to our own plans and purposes. The altar is the focus of our lives, the tent is what God provides that we might fulfill our altar.

 

Separation: From ... Unto

 

There is a principle that God uses to bring Abraham through the process to the goal for his life. It is hidden in two little words : from ... unto. Separations is the principle that God uses.

 

  1. Leaving Ur (Gen 12:1-3): From the system of the world, unto God's Will.

 

God's Will is for Abram to receive blessing and become a channel of blessing to others.

 

  1. Separated from Lot (Gen 13:1-11): From limited vision, unto all the land.

 

The herdsmen of Abram and Lot quarreled because their substance was great. Abram asked Lot to separate from him. Lot chose the best land and Abram took what was left. Although the separation was difficult, Abram has a right spirit. "Division" is different from "Separation". "Separation" is moving us from one purpose to His purpose with a right spirit. The Lord said to Abram, "Lift up your eyes from where you are and look north and south, east and west. All the land that you see I will give to you and your offspring forever." Although Lot thought he chose the best watered land, Abram got all the land.

 

  1. Did not take any goods that were brought back (Gen 13:12-15:1) : From normal right, unto God's "I Am"

 

Since Lot departed from Abram, he pitched his tent towards Sodom and later became an official there. The five kings looked longingly for the area, and they captured Lot and his family during a battle. Lot's herdsman went to Abram for help. Abram went to help and won because God was with them, and they brought back all the goods as well as Lot, the women and the people.

 

The king of Sodom said to Abram, "Give me the people, and take the goods to yourself." Abram told the king of Sodom that he would not take anything, "... lest you should say, 'I have made Abram rich.'

 

Abram was willing to give up his normal rights since he knew that the rights he gave up can not compare to all that he received from the Lord Himself. Normal rights are good but are clutters in our lives. Separation brings revelations. In 15:1, the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision, saying, "Don't be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your exceedingly great reward."

 

  1. Cast out Ishmael (Gen 15:1-16): From natural strength and ability, unto the true meaning of the new name, Abraham.

 

Abram's wife, Sarai, bore him no children. She gave him a maid servant, Hagar, and she conceived and gave birth to a son, Ishmael. He was not the son of covenant, and must be casted out. We like to use our natural strength and ability to help God out, but this is not pleasing God. Although this separation was difficult, God, at about this time, changed his name from Abram (exalted father) to Abraham (father of many nations). When man is willing to give up natural, God always give better.

 

  1. Sacrifice Isaac (Gen 22:1-18): From spiritual good things, unto the Will of God.

 

God miraculously gave Abraham a son and His promise was fulfilled. Later, God wanted Abraham to offer his son as a burn offering. Abraham did what God asked for, but God used a ram as a substitute for the sacrifice. When Abraham was willing to separate from this spiritual good thing, God said to him, "For now I know that you fear God". Similarly, if we feel that service means more to us than the Lord Himself, then it becomes dangerous. Brother Stephen Kaung once reminded me, ""Work for God and working with God are very different". We serve the Will of God, not the work.

 

(II) The river of grace - Joyful, Prayerful, Thankful

Everyday when we wake up, we should know the focus and purpose of life -- "Know him better and to make him known". If we can make these two things very real, life can be changed.

I Th 5:16-18 talks about 3 aspects: joyful, prayerful and thankful. My first thought was impossible, but impossible can become "Him"-possible. We often encounter unjoyful circumstances, but we can asked, "O Lord, I can't. But Lord, you can work something out.

I have a little secret: I am like a ship traveling along towards the harbor of the purpose of God. I have 3 sails and when I put them up, God will blow in it. Lord, I can't but I will be joyful, I will be prayerful, and I will be thankful. When God blows, I feel the difference. Living in the Will of God is to give Him our wills. He will come along and enable us.

 

Heb 12:1 mentioned about a race. When Adam was in the garden of Eden, he stood at the gateway of choice. Was he willing to run the race and fulfilled the Will of God? He turned his own way and fell into sin. Thank God for rescuing us by the work of the cross. Majority today are in the race course. Some are running the race without salvation, and some are saved but not running the race.

God has predestined us to two things:

(1) Conformed to the image of His Son (Rm 8:28-29): God has a wonderful son and He wants more that are like Him.

(2) Adoption as sons (Eph 1:5): Isa 9:6," ... a child is born, a son is given ..." What is adoption? In the western culture, it is bringing somebody into the family from an orphanage. Biblical adoption is taking someone who is already in the family and placing him in fuller sonship rights. The Holy Spirit is leading us to put off the old body, and be able to attend full sonship.

 

We often face situations that make us angry. Although we have reasons to angry, we do not have the right to angry because God has prepared for us a river of grace. We are a fruitful tree with roots planted in the river of grace, otherwise, a barren tree. The river of grace is where God gives us the desire and the power to respond to every life situation according to the Will of God. We can easily become a barren tree if we look at unfair things in the world and in the church with wrong reasoning.

 

Heb 12:2 "Looking", Heb 12:15 "Looking diligently" means turning away from everything and steady focus upon Him and to be constantly occupied with Him. This is how to avoid failing of the grace of God.

 

John prophesized that Jesus is the lamb of God, and he knew that Jesus must increase, and he himself must decrease. After a short time, all John's followers were with Jesus. He was left along in prison. If he reasons a little bit, he may think that a cousin should visit his cousin who is in prison. However there is no record of a visit in the Bible. He then send his disciple to ask Jesus whether He is the one to come. Jesus told John, "blessed is he that is not offended in me." Did John have any reason or right to angry? No. Among them that are born of women there is none greater than John. How can we ever get angry? People even get offended and did not come to meeting any more. Heb 12:15 reminds us to look diligently lest we fail of the grace of God.

When we run the race, God wants us to yield our wills to Him. We should looking diligently, focusing on Him. Only He can keep us from being offended if we are occupied by Him. We all have saving grace and are planted in the river of grace, but growing and maturing need enabling grace. The Spirit of grace is working. Thank You Lord, I will never be offended again! I have no right to be angry because the river of grace is here. If we become Father pleasers, His joy can become our joys.

(III) Spiritual Temperature -- Ask, Seek and Knock

Ask -- Table -- Self

"Please pass the bread!" Just like a father will pass the bread to their children at the family table, our Heavenly Father will provide our daily bread when we ask in faith. Nevertheless, we have to learn how to properly ask. We have to ask in the Father's Will, not from our private ambition. We don't have to ask for food, drink or clothes, for all these things are seek after by Gentiles. We should ask for His forgiveness and His wisdom, for He is the Father with mercy and wisdom.

Seek -- Treasure chest -- God's face

When you said, "Seek my face," my heart said to you, "I will seek your face, Lord." (Psa 27:8)

A child can quickly tell whether mom is happy or angry by her face. In the same way, if we constantly seek the face of God by having fellowship with Him, He will unfold His will to us. A proper seeking heart is one which diligently reaches out to fellowship with God instead of focusing on Bible knowledge.

We find it wonderful to sit at the table to enjoy the riches of the Father. However, God wants us to grow in order to discover the treasure chest. For where your treasure is, where your heart will be. For 490 years, the Israelites lived in the promised land. They enjoyed the table of richness from God but forgot to keep a Sabbath year every 7th year. For 70 times they had failed to have fellowship with God, God allowed them to be in captive for 70 years. Are you preoccupied with God's good thing? Why are you busy about something while you should have fellowship with God? What is your heart seeking for? Please remember that God rewards those who seek Him. Do you want to know Him and made Him known? Please read Jer 29:12-13.

 

A few aspects of the Will of God: 1) General -- easily known. 2) Gradually unfold through daily walk with God. 3) Divine fulfillment. Take Paul as an example: God's Will in general was for Paul to serve Him. God gradually unfold His will for him to plant churches. Then, in order to fulfill His divine purpose, the Holy Spirit inspired Paul to write the epistles. God opens His treasure chest for those who are Him-centered.

 

Knock -- Doors open -- Others

 

When Spiritual temperature rise, concern pour out to others. Our responsibility is to knock and prepare to let Christ to be known. God opens doors and He gives Himself. Are church activities focusing on getting new members, or giving out the riches of God? When you meet someone without a smile, ask the Lord to help you give one out. It is the secret of opening hearts. A sister who once did something wrong before people. She took courage to confess before man and God. People responded, "Now we know you are real!" Christians who are willing to be broken will make Christ known. Those who will reign with Christ for a thousand years are those who reign in life through Christ today.

 

(IV) Spiritual and Practical - Every bird should have two wings

 

The Bible mentioned about a man, David, who fully fulfilled the Will of God -- (Acts 13:22) " a man after mine own heart, which shall fulfill all my will." I like to have these words on my tombstone. How can man fully fulfill the Will of God? Promotion. Psalm 75:4-10 said that promotion neither come from the east, nor from the west, nor from the south, but God is the judge. He put down one, and set up another. I believe God is in the north and promotion comes from the north. Therefore I saw two ways of promotion: Man's way and God's way.

 

In I Sam 10:1,16:1, When Saul was anointed by Samuel, he took a vial of oil, but he filled a horn with oil when he anointed David. A vial is a man made instrument, while a horn is the result of life.

 

We saw that the promotion of Saul was when the Israelites rejected the Lord, and they wanted a king to govern, judge and fight for them. So God gave them a man who looked like a king. Saul was tall and looked kingly. It was dangerous because they were giving a man a position without he had any preparation. Man thinks that it is important to obtain a position, then experience and honor will follow. They don't know that it is more difficult for anyone to learn in front of people. God's way is to have a wonderful schoolroom of preparation for David. He can gain experience while living a hidden life.

 

Saul was promoted without adequate preparation. So when jealousy came, he gave ground to the enemy. When the ladies sang, "Saul killed thousands, David killed tens of thousands", Saul watched David jealously from that day forward. God gave Saul an opportunity to gain experience, but he failed. When he attacked the Amalekites, he did not slay and destroy all according to God's instruction, with an excuse that he was sparing them for sacrifice to the Lord. He did not understand the meaning of sacrifice. Sacrifice is something that cost someone something. Sacrificing something that cost nothing is merely a ceremony.

 

We should know that preparation is so important. David is a man after God's own heart. He spent long hours with the sheep, and developed a heart to the Lord very early in life, and learned to serve. He also developed some skills: playing musical instrument helped him express emotion to the Lord, and be diligent, a character that God likes; using sling shot against bears and lions helped him seek strength from the Lord. When challenges came, he can stand as God's representative. God was preparing a shepherd for the people of Israel in this hidden schoolroom. When the time came while Saul needed someone to quiet the evil spirit, and with the preparation of playing musical instrument, David was promoted.

 

The Holy Spirit also discipline us on the characters that need to be dealt with, and prepares us for what's ahead. Skills and discipline are necessary to show authority.

 

Looking at the life of David, we see a little horn of authority growing. He had victory over the bears, the lions and Goliah. Authority only comes through the confidence that one has. Don't forget that spirituality has with it practicality.