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The following letter-form was brought about as a means of teaching my children the Word of God through the mail. And of course, quite naturally so, thatís the reason I begin these letters with "Dear Children" and end them with "Love Dad". So for the rest of you who participate in these weekly messages, please keep their original intended purpose in mind.

 

Print/PDF9 May, 1999

 

Dear Children,

 

This week Iíve got a tough job to do... and itís one that I donít particularly care to do... but Iíve got to do it anyway. Because what Iíve got to do is not only let my brother in the Lord know that Father God has told me to "cool it" with our brotherly fellowshipping, but also give him the Scriptural justification as to why Iím doing what Iím doing.

 

You see heís a Christian and Iím a Christian and we both have one more blessed time praying together and talking about Jesus... that is until just recently. Because it was something like three weeks ago, after having shared with him a few of the things that the Lord had put on my heart, that he questioned what I told him as actually being from the Lord. And what made matters even worse was that this was not the first time that he had questioned what I had said was "thus saith the Lord" as being what "thus saith the Lord". So how do you think that made me feel?

 

Well to be honest with you, it kinda like made me do a whole lotta praying and soul searching. Because you see the one thing that I definitely donít wonít to do in this lifetime is fail God. And knowing full well what a low-down, no-good, soul thieving varmint that Old Serpent is in the first place, you might say that I was a little bit like a dog chasing his tail... I was going around in circles. So the question was "who was right and who was wrong?" Had I truly heard from God or was my "thus saith the Lord" really "thus saith Satan"?

 

So without a doubt I was confused!!! My flesh was telling me one thing (heís a brother in the Lord just trust his judgment) while my spirit was telling me exactly the opposite (trust in what "thus saith the Lord"). And knowing what I know from the Word of God ("For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace..." I Corinthians 14:33), I figured out pretty quickly that the way I was feeling was not the way that God had intended for me to be! So what do you think I did? Well I did the most logical thing that I could do... I asked God what to do. And of course seeing how I want you to learn through my own personal experiences, what better opportunity than this to turn "my lesson in life" into the sermonet of the week... which just so happens to be entitled The Good Fight Of Faith (The Spirit Of God Verses The Flesh Of Man) part V.

 

So it was after Father God told me to break off my fellowshipping with the brother that He also gave me His reason why I should do it. And itís through the following story, as found in I Kings 13:1-34, that I hope to show you what He showed me: "And, behold, there came a man of God out of Judah by the word of the LORD unto Bethel: and Jeroboam stood by the altar to burn incense. And he cried against the altar in the word of the LORD, and said, O altar, altar, thus saith the LORD; Behold, a child shall be born unto the house of David, Josiah by name; and upon thee shall he offer the priests of the high places that burn incense upon thee, and menís bones shall be burnt upon thee. And he gave a sign the same day, saying, This is the sign which the LORD hath spoken; Behold, the altar shall be rent, and the ashes that are upon it shall be poured out."

 

Now to bring you up to speed with a few of the characters in this story, Jeroboam was the king chosen by God to take the place of King Solomon after he had turned away from God ("And the LORD was angry with Solomon, because his heart was turned from the LORD God of Israel... Wherefore the LORD said unto Solomon... I will surely rend the kingdom from thee, and will give it to thy servant." I Kings 11:9-11). And likewise it was Godís promise to the soon-to-be king Jeroboam that "he was going to have it made in the shade with pink lemonade" if he would only obey the word of God ("And it shall be, if thou wilt hearken unto all that I command thee, and walk in my ways... as David my servant did; that I will be with thee... and will give Israel unto thee." I Kings 11:38).

 

So those were the good promises of God ("thus saith the Lord"), as spoken by the prophet of God, which of course made Jeroboam very very happy. But, going back to the original Scripture in I Kings 13:1-3, it wasnít too awful long after Jeroboam became king that he decided not to do what God had told him to do. And because of Jeroboamís continued disobedience, God sent yet another prophet with a few more promises which werenít even close to being good.. So quite naturally it was what the Lord had to say this time that Jeroboam didnít take any too kindly.

 

In fact reading on we find, "And it came to pass, when king Jeroboam heard the saying of the man of God, which had cried against the altar in Bethel, that he put forth his hand from the altar, saying, Lay hold on him. And his hand, which he put forth against him, dried up, so that he could not pull it in again to him. The altar also was rent, and the ashes poured out from the altar, according to the sign which the man of God had given by the word of the LORD. And the king answered and said unto the man of God, Intreat now the face of the LORD thy God, and pray for me, that my hand may be restored me again. And the man of God besought the LORD, and the kings hand was restored him again, and became as it was before."

 

You see even though Jeroboam had been chosen by God Almighty to be the king, he could only do what God had called him to do by totally and completely obeying God (Spirit of God verses the flesh of the king). And seeing how the king hadnít done what he was suppose to do, the prophet had to be sent in with one more final warning to the king of Godís anger and upcoming judgment. But, seeing how Jeroboam had somehow lost his fear of God, the prophetís message from God only tended to make matters worse. In fact the bad news from God made the king so mad that he actually wanted to strangle the little prophet that gave it. But, seeing how Godís protection was on the man of God, Jeroboamís fit of anger only resulted in his hand becoming all dried up and useless.

 

So as I hope you can see by now, there are times when this thing about hearing and speaking "what thus saith the Lord" can be pretty risky business. But regardless of the circumstances, Godís hand will always be on the child of God who believes in and obeys what "thus saith the Lord". And even though this prophet of God had done real good in his obedience to God through all these adverse conditions, he was just about ready to get put to the real test. Because continuing on we find, "And the king said unto the man of God, Come home with me, and refresh thyself, and I will give thee a reward. And the man of God said unto the king, If thou wilt give me half thine house, I will not go in with thee, neither will I eat bread nor drink water in this place: For so was it charged me by the word of the LORD, saying, Eat no bread, nor drink water, nor turn again by the same way that thou camest. So he went another way, and returned not by the way that he came to Bethel."

 

Well all Iíve got to say about that is: ĎAtta boy prophet! You done real good. Trust in what "thus saith the Lord" and donít take any wooden nickels.í So heís made it this far on his mission for God, but it ainít over with yet. In fact letís continue on with the story and see if he makes it through his next big obedience test: "Now there dwelt an old prophet in Bethel; and his sons came and told him all the works that the man of God had done that day in Bethel: the words which he had spoken unto the king, them they told also to their father. And their father said unto them, What way went he? For his sons had seen what way the man of God went, which came from Judah. And he said unto his sons, Saddle me the ass. So they saddled him the ass: and he rode thereon, And went after the man of God, and found him sitting under an oak: and he said unto him, Art thou the man of God that camest from Judah? And he said, I am. Then he said unto him, Come home with me and eat bread. And he said, I may not return with thee, nor go in with thee: neither will I eat bread nor drink water with thee in this place: For it was said to me by the word of the LORD, Thou shalt eat no bread nor drink water there, nor turn again to go by the way that thou camest."

 

OK, so far so good. You see even though the prophet had gone through several pretty severe test, he was still holding on real tight to what "thus saith the Lord"... that is until the old prophet comes up with the "supreme test". Because what happened next was, "He said unto him, I am a prophet also as thou art; and an angel spake unto me by the word of the LORD, saying, Bring him back with thee into thine house, that he may eat bread and drink water. But he lied unto him. So he went back with him, and did eat bread in his house, and drank water. And it came to pass, as they sat at the table, that the word of the LORD came unto the prophet that brought him back: And he cried unto the man of God that came from Judah, saying, Thus saith the LORD, Forasmuch as thou hast disobeyed the mouth of the LORD, and hast not kept the commandment which the LORD thy God commanded thee, But camest back, and has eaten bread and drunk water in the place, of the which the Lord did say to thee, Eat no bread, and drink non water; thy carcase shall not come unto the sepulchre of thy fathers."

 

Now ainít that a kicker? I mean itís bad enough to be lied to by a prophet, but to have that same lying prophet tell you that you are going to die because you believed his lie is just too much to handle. And just so youíll understand the severity of what God had said through that old prophet ("...thy carcase shall not come unto the sepulchre of thy fathers"), please allow me to explain. You see the message that I believe the Lord was giving to the prophet of God was that because of his disobedience to God the Father he was about to die. And likewise it was because of this death that he would be physically separated in burial from his fathers (father, grandfather, etc.). And furthermore, of even more importance, I believe this separation not only included his earthly fathers but also His Heavenly Father as well.

 

So do you like catch my drift? I mean what weíre talking about here is the choice between obedience or disobedience and Heaven or Hell. You can believe it or not but God is very serious about us being obedient to His Word. Even one act of disobedience which is not followed up by repentance can mean death everlasting. And even though the prophet of God had been warned about the resulting consequences of his sin, there is absolutely nothing in the Scriptures even remotely suggesting that he thought about asking God for forgiveness. I mean it seems like once he believed the old prophetís lies, he could no longer believe his truths. So this very short time relationship with the old prophet made a drastic change in the prophet of Godís relationship to God the Father.

 

And thatís exactly why we find the very sad ending to the rest of this story: "And it came to pass, after he had eaten bread, and after he had drunk, that he saddled for him the ass, to wit, for the prophet whom he had brought back. And when he was gone, a lion met him by the way, and slew him: and his carcase was cast in the way, and the ass stood by it, the lion also stood by the carcase. And, behold, men passed by, and saw the carcase cast in the way, and the lion standing by the carcase: and they came and told it in the city where the old prophet dwelt. And when the prophet that brought him back from the way heard thereof, he said, It is the man of God, who was disobedient unto the word of the LORD: therefore the LORD hath delivered him unto the lion, which hath torn him, and slain him, according to the word of the LORD, which he spake unto him."

 

What a bummer! So now that the lying prophet has been used of Satan to destroy one of Godís very own use-to-be dedicated prophets, letís see what happens next: "And he spake to his sons, saying, Saddle me the ass. And they saddled him. And he went and found his carcase cast in the way, and the ass and the lion standing by the carcase: the lion had not eaten the carcase, nor torn the ass. And the prophet took up the carcase of the man of God, and laid it upon the ass, and brought it back: and the old prophet came to the city, to mourn and to bury him. And he laid his carcase in his own grave; and they mourned over him, saying, Alas, my brother! And it came to pass, after he had buried him, that he spake to his sons, saying, When I am dead, then bury me in the sepulchre wherein the man of God is buried; lay my bones beside his bones: For the saying which he cried by the word of the LORD against the altar in Bethel, and against all the houses of the high places which are in the cities of Samaria, shall surely come to pass."

 

So just why do you figure the old prophet went to all that trouble to bring back the prophet of God in the first place? Do you really think that he just wanted to have a friendly chit chat session over lunch? Not hardly. You see what I figure to be the truth of the matter was that the old prophet had turned away from following God. He was right there with Jeroboam worshipping everything but God. And after hearing what the prophet of God had spoken to Jeroboamís altar concerning the Word of God ("...upon thee shall he offer the priests of the high places that burn incense upon thee, and menís bones shall be burnt upon thee.") he figured that his bones would be safe if and only if he could be buried with one of Godís prophets who had likewise not worshipped the false gods of Jeroboam.

 

But do you really think being buried with the prophet of God really helped that old prophet when it came time for him to meet his Maker? Not hardly. In fact when you take a look at the final ending of this story, it seems as though all three of the main characters didnít make out any too fair in the end. Because you see the king just kept right on doing what he was doing (he didnít pay Godís Word any attention at all), the old prophet heard Godís Word and feared Godís wrath but trusted in the prophet of God to save him, and finally the prophet of God lost it when he didnít completely trust in and obey the Word of God. And having said all that we can now finish up with the rest of the story: "After this thing Jeroboam returned not from his evil way, but made again of the lowest of the people priests of the high places: whosoever would, he consecrated him, and he became one of the priests of the high places. And this thing became sin unto the house of Jeroboam, even to cut it off, and to destroy it from off the face of the earth."

 

Now the message that God the Father made abundantly clear to me in that little story was that fellowshipping with others who donít totally trust in and follow the Word of God as "thus saith the Lord" can wind up getting you into some mighty hot water. In fact even though this prophet of God did some great and mighty miracles in the name of God (tore the altar and healed Jeroboamís withered hand), those things didnít help him one little bit after he disobeyed God the Father.

 

But knowing how hard it must be for some of you to accept what Iím saying, letís turn to Luke 12:42-48 and pick-up on yet another story that gives some of the same bottom line results: "And the Lord said, Who then is that faithful and wise steward, whom his lord shall make ruler over his household, to give them their portion of meat in due season? Blessed is that servant, whom his lord when he cometh shall find so doing. Of a truth I say unto you, that he will make him ruler over all that he hath. But and if that servant say in his heart, My lord delayeth his coming; and shall begin to beat the menservants and maidens, and to eat and drink, and to be drunken; The lord of that servant will come in a day when he looketh not for him, and at an hour when he is not aware, and will cut him in sunder and will appoint him his portion with the unbelievers. And that servant, which knew his lordís will, and prepared not himself, neither did according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes. But he that knew not, and did commit things worthy of stripes, shall be beaten with few stripes. For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required: and to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more."

 

OK, so whatís a steward? Well would you believe a high class slave (servant)? So a steward is a slave with a lot of responsibilities. And of course a slave is someone whoís life belongs totally and completely to their master. Now letís take it one step further. A prophet of God is a high class slave (steward) whose life belongs completely to his Master (God the Father). So you see it doesnít really matter what your God called job is in this lifetime (king, prophet, preacher, farmer, student, etc.) when you get down to the basics we are all nothing but children of God (free slaves) who must be obedient to God the Father.

 

But even though we are all children of God, we are not all on the same level. Understand? Well Jesus said it pretty well when He said "For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required..." You see as we develop in the Lord, and receive more of the gifts of the Holy Spirit, He likewise expects us to use them for His glory. In other words the more weíve got the more He expects us to use them. And that takes us right back to the prophet of God who heard from God, knew it was God, conducted great and mighty miracles through the Spirit of God, yet he got tripped up by some old lying prophet. He had that he needed to get the job done, yet he failed God miserably. And of course the results of his failure pretty well fits Jesusí description of the "unfaithful servant": "The lord of that servant... will appoint him his portion with the unbelievers. And that servant, which knew his lordís will, and prepared not himself, neither did according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes..."

 

So are you starting to see what God the Father has given me concerning this delicate situation with my brother in the Lord? You see being a follower of Jesus (Christian) is without a doubt much more complex than most people even want to begin to fess-up-to. And as we have learned from this story about the prophet of God, it can only mean trouble for any Christian to fellowship with others who donít both hear from and obey the same "voice of God" that they are putting their trusting into. Because you see the consequences can be pretty serious for any Christian who hears from God and believe itís of God but yet decides not to believe because of what someone else might have said. Unbelief is unbelief and the final results are all the same: "...the fearful, and unbelieving... shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death." (Revelation 21:8)

 

Now I realize this is some pretty heavy teaching, but everlasting life (or death) is nothing to fool around with. And seeing how Jesus was The Perfect Example for all of us anyway, letís see how He handles this situation as found in Matthew 16:21-27: "From that time forth began Jesus to shew unto his disciples, how that he must go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised again the third day. Then Peter took him, and began to rebuke him, saying, Be it far from thee, Lord: this shall not be unto thee."

 

All right, so do you see the connection between this story and the one in I Kings (the prophet of God)? Well at the time that Jesus said what He said in the above Scripture, He was getting very close to the appointed time when He would give up His life on the cross. He was God who became man so that He could live a perfect life and then die. And through His Perfect Death He would likewise free every child of God from the death grip of Satan. But during His very short life on earth (33 years from birth to death) He did everything that He did just as you and I should. And likewise everything that He knew about the Word of God either came through the Scriptures or through the Holy Spirit. And therefore He understood His purpose in life through His prayer life with His Heavenly Father. He talked to God the Father and God the Father talked to Him... and it was all done through the Holy Spirit.

 

So Jesus knew that it was His job in life to die for the sin of the world. And even though none of us can even imagine just how overwhelmingly painful that process must have been, Jesus knew that He must do what He had to do because it was what God the Father had asked Him to do. And likewise Jesus, like that prophet of God, had not only gotten His orders from God the Father, but He had also confessed them to other people as well (His disciples). And just like that prophet of God, it was one of those who heard Jesusí confession who likewise tried to convince Him that it wasnít from God.

 

And now that Iíve said that, the rest of this Scripture is Jesusí very own perfect example of how we should react to the same situation: "But he turned, and said unto Peter, Get thee behind me, Satan: thou art an offence unto me: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men. Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it. For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul? For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then he shall reward every man according to his works."

 

So the problem of our flesh problem is not an easy problem to deal with. But just as I said earlier, Jesus was God in the flesh Who likewise had to deal with His flesh in the same way that we do. And of course The Way that He overcame the desires of His flesh was by first hearing the Word of God through prayer, then trusting in that Word of God, and then follow it up by obeying that same Word of God. And in order to reinforce this process of "believing", and likewise do it through the Scriptures, letís read it for ourselves in John 8:28-32: "Then said Jesus unto them, When ye have lifted up the Son of Man, then shall ye know that I am he, and that I do nothing of myself; but as my Father hath taught me, I speak these things. And he that sent me is with me: the Father hath not left me alone; for I do always those things that please him. As he spake these words, many believed on him. Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free."

 

Now there was so much more Scripture that I really wanted to cover for this week, but as you can see we are just about out of paper. So todayís message was a real life example of a potentially very serious problem with my flesh. I had a problem that only God could resolve, and it was through prayer that the Lord gave me His answer (through His Spirit and His written Word). So now that I have His answer to my problem I will obey Him by doing what He has told me to do. And even though I have stopped fellowshipping with my brother, I will continue to pray that his spirit and my spirit will one day be one in the same Spirit.

 

But in closing, thereís just one more Scripture that weíve got to cover. You see this Scripture kinda like ties everything weíve covered for today into one neat package. So reading from I John 2:24-29, "Let that therefore abide in you, which ye have heard from the beginning. If that which ye have heard from the beginning shall remain in you, ye also shall continue in the Son, and in the Father. And this is the promise that he hath promised us, even eternal life. These things have I written unto you concerning them that seduce you. But the anointing which ye have received of him abideth in you , and ye need not that any man teach you: but as the same anointing teacheth you of all things, and is truth, and is no lie, and even as it hath taught you, ye shall abide in him. And now, little children, abide in him; that, when he shall appear, we may have confidence, and not be ashamed before him at his coming. If ye know that he is righteous, ye know that every one that doeth righteousness is born of him."

 

So do you really want to make it into Heaven? And just how bad do you want it? Are you willing to give up your life to get it? Well the life that we must all give up, in order to receive His Everlasting Life in Heaven, is the life of our flesh. And what we have just covered for today is only a tiny part of Godís very specific plan of how to win the war between the Spirit and the flesh. And even though these everyday battles with the flesh can get rather overwhelming at times, believe you me, itís all going to be worth it in the end.

 

Therefore, my advice to you is... study the Word of God, seek His Word in prayer, and obey His Word by doing what He tells you to do. And if you can do all that... youíll be able to

Keep on keeping The Faith In Jesus!!!

 

Love,

 

Dad (Bruce Hallman)

 

ďALL FOR THE LOVE OF JESUSĒ

 

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