FMH Childrenís Club International
P.O. Box 640109
El Paso, TX 79904
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.
9 August, 1998
In only a few months it will have been five years that the FMH Childrenís Club letter has been in existence. And since itís beginning the people receiving it have increased from a minuscule number of eight (immediately family only) to a whopping total of one hundred and fifty. And of course this mailing list of one hundred and fifty people doesnít always stay the same. In fact itís only every few weeks or so that some of the recipients turn up missing. You see as time goes on there are undoubtedly some who get offended with what the Good Book has to say, so they bail out. And then you always have those who just pick up and move to some unknown part of the world without even leaving any forwarding address, so they get dropped. But I guess all things being considered the worse "missing persons" case of all is when the letters come back due to the fact of permanent expiration.
And that was the case a week or so ago when I received Mr. Miltonís letter back with "deceased - died 6/16" written right across the front. What a shock! You see Mr. Milton was very special to me because he was not only Jewish by birth, but he also didnít believe Jesus Christ was the Messiah. That was the condition he was in about three years ago when I first started sending him the weekly messages, and from that point on I never heard another word from him (or about him) until last week. So of course the one question that will remain in my mind concerning Mr. Milton will be "did he make it into Heaven?" Was he able to pick up on the Truth in the Word of God, through these simple little messages that we send out each week, and accept Jesus Christ as His Lord and Savior?
Well maybe someday the Lord will give me the answer to that question, but until then I can only hope that Mr. Milton finally made the right choice. But the facts still remain that we lost another reader... but it wasnít for too awful long... because the Lord brought us another one the night before last... and He even did it in a very unusual way. You see it was late Friday afternoon, after having fasted all day (made it through without food), that the Lord told me He wanted me to take a break and go out to eat. Now the reason I was fasting in the first place was for the family, the FMH Childrenís Club ministry, and the FMH Childrenís Club ranch. I was seeking Godís direction through prayer and fasting, and I had every intention of taking it right on through to the next day... until He told me to go ahead and break it off early.
You see He not only wanted me to eat out, but He wanted me to eat out in the restaurant of His choice. So even though I didnít particularly care for the idea (restaurant food just ainít for me), I knew without a doubt that it was what He wanted. And since He is my Heavenly Father, and seeing how I want nothing more than to obey Him and do the job that He has put me here to do, I did it. I changed my clothes, picked up my Bible, and headed on out to the Great American Land And Cattle Company (steakburger). Now by the time I got there it was getting pretty close to 8:30, but there was still about a twenty minute wait for my table. So I took the opportunity to open up my Bible and do a little studying.
Well the time went by quickly, and before I knew it my table was ready. Now keep it in mind that right about then I still didnít know all the details. In fact I didnít even know why I was where I was except for the fact that God had asked me to be there. All that I knew was that I was about to eat on a night that I had planned not to eat, and I was about to do it in the restaurant of Godís choice. And even though I had very few facts to go on, I knew there was a lot more up ahead of me in this great new venture (mission for God)... but I just didnít quite know what it was yet.
And it was only after having taken my seat that the pieces of the puzzle all started to fit together pretty quickly. Because even though Iím a very slow thinker it didnít take me too long at all to figure out that my table was right beside another table that had a gentleman seated at it who was not bashful at all when it came to talking. And before I knew it Godís plan was coming into place and I was sitting at table with this same gentleman who I didnít know but who God knew and Who had likewise sent me to know. Donít you just love it?
And I guess it was pretty near 12:00 midnight, after having talked ourselves right on up to closing time, that we said our good byes and went on our separate ways. But even though the night was over, it was only over after Godís intended mission was complete. Because you see I had made friends with a very special man who God cares so much about that He went to all that trouble to send me there to meet him. And even though Godís total mission is still not yet complete (the salvation of one lost soul), certain things are now in place which will allow this gentleman a better opportunity to accept what God has to offer. And with all that having been said I would like to welcome Mr. Henry, the newest member to our mailing list.
Now I hope you are all starting to see just how complex this plan of God really is, and how it cannot be carried out without the children of God being in total obedience to God the Father. Godís plan is wonderful and mighty but it takes a whole hearted dedication and commitment by the child of God in order to make it happen. And thatís exactly why we are going to continue on with this seemingly never ending series that we are now on. So quite naturally that means that the title of the sermonet of the week is appropriately titled Obedience part IX.
Now for the sake of our new reader, Mr. Henry, I would like to briefly give the big picture of where weíve been and where weíre going with this Obedience message. You see we were all created in the image of God to be the children of God. But becoming His children ainít one of those automatic type things. You see because of the big mess that Adam and Eve made in the Garden of Eden (sin), we all have to live with the fact that from that point on, each and every child born into this world is not a child of God (beginning with the age of accountability anyway). Because up until the time that we willfully choose to be born again of God the Father, we belong to papa Satan. Heís the father of the world, he has control over the world, and he will continue to do so with each and every individual in the world until they decide to get "born again".
Because it was as we read in John 3:3-6, " Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God... Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit."
Now what we have just read is a description of the second birth process which allows us to become a "born again" child of God (instead of a child of Satan), which can eventually take us right on up to becoming a full fledged "adopted" child of God. But you see the act of becoming the "adopted" child of God, complete with all the niceties of Heaven, ainít what you would consider one of them slam dunk kinda things. Because as we read on into John 1:12-13, "But as many as received him, to them gave he the power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God."
So if you will closely scrutinize the implications of this mind boggling sentence you will see that the "born again" experience can only happen after the individual has first of all become sick and tired of having Satan as a papa, and second of all after having accepted Jesus Christís blood (which resulted in His death) as the payoff for the individualís release from Satanís family. You see we can only become born again into the family of God and likewise released from our legal obligations as a member of the family of Satan by first accepting the fact of (believing in) Jesusí death, burial, and resurrection.
Now itís at this point in time that all those believing in Christ can have the power of the Holy Spirit within them that will allow them to obey God and do what He has called them to do and not what Satan will continue to call them to do. Because itís just as I said earlier: becoming an "adopted" child of God and gaining entrance into His family mansion in the sky (Heaven) ainít something that happens over night... because the process ainít over until itís over.
And seeing how our new reader Mr. Henry likes tracing back through family trees (history on how families all got their start) itís a shame that he missed out on our journey of the twelve sons of Israel. Because as you should all know by now, God called a fellow by the name of Abraham to raise up the family that would eventually become the nation of Israel. And it was Abrahamís son Issac who had a son Jacob who had the twelve sons (Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Judah, Dan, Naphtali, Gad, Asher, Issachar, Zebulun, Joseph, and Benjamin), who produced their own families, which in turn have continued right on up until this day to populate the nation of Israel with the very special chosen children of God.
Now the story we are going to read next took place during the time that Jesus walked the face of this earth. And of course since one of the requirements of becoming an "adopted" child of God is to first accept the fact that Jesus Christ was God in the flesh, you should be able to see in this story today why so many of the children of Israel fell short (and still do) on their getting their offical adoption papers. Because it was just as we had discussed several messages ago, the children of Israel had picked up a very bad case of the "Kingís Kids Syndrome", and because of their superior blood line they thought they were the catís meow. In fact they thought they were so good that they went right on off and developed their very own religious system... but it was not of God. In fact their religion wouldnít even let the Son of God (Jesus) come into the picture. But not wanting to pick on the Jews, the rest of the worldís religions arenít any better off.
But anyway, getting back to the story. Reading from Luke 15:1-32, we find, "Then drew near unto him all the publicans and sinners for to hear him. And the Pharisees and scribes murmured, saying, This man receiveth sinners, and eateth with them. And he spake this parable unto them saying, What man of you, having an hundred sheep, if he lose one of them, doth not leave the ninety and nine in the wilderness, and go after that which is lost, until he find it? And when he hath found it, he layeth it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he cometh home, he calleth together his friends and neighbors, saying unto them, Rejoice with me; for I have found my sheep which was lost. I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance."
OK, so as the story opens Jesus is trying to turn a few of the "down and outs" (publicans and sinners) into "up and comers". You see Jesus wanted these fallen and rejected children of Israel to get back on track with their adoption process. And because of the fact that the most religious Jewish group had already labeled them as completely unacceptable for adoption into Godís family, it was what the Son of God (Jesus, God in the flesh) was doing with them that became totally unacceptable in their most holy religious eyes. And thatís why Jesus went right on into telling the three parables which were aimed directly at the most holy scribes and Pharisees.
So the first of the three parables dealt with a subject very common to all; the shepherd and his sheep. And since sheep ainít all that bright, it is the responsibility of the shepherd to keep them alive and out of trouble by serving as a full time sheep sitter. And of course when the inevitable does happen, and a sheep does somehow manage to get himself (or herself) lost, itís only after the totally dedicated efforts of the shepherd to that one sheep that the rescue is finally made. And thatís about the time that the shepherd becomes a hero (another sheepís life has been saved) and the celebration party begins.
So that was a good story for the men, but what about the women? Well Jesus had one ready for them too, because as we read on we find, "Either what woman having ten pieces of silver, if she lose one piece, doth not light a candle, and sweep the house, and seek diligently till she find it? And when she hath found it, she calleth her friends and her neighbors together, saying, Rejoice with me; for I have found the piece which I had lost. Likewise, I say unto you there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenthet."
Once again Jesus tells a story about something very valuable being lost (money), the intensive search that follows (turning on the lights, sweeping the house, and basically just turning everything upside down), and finally through much effort finding the lost item. So once again, just as in the first parable, because of the recovery of the lost item everybody became very happy and they threw a party to prove it.
You see both of these parables were designed to soften up the hardened minds of the most holy ones. So now that the easy ones were done with Jesus moved on into the more difficult of the three; the one which should have driven on home His point: "And he said, A certain man had two sons: And the younger of them said to his father, Father, give me the portion of goods that falleth to me. And he divided unto them his living. And not many days after the younger son gathered all together, and took his journey into a far country, and there wasted his substance with riotous living. And when he had spent all, there arose a mighty famine in that land; and he began to be in want. And he went and joined himself to a citizen of that country; and he sent him into his fields to feed swine. And he would fain have filled his belly with the husks that the swine did eat: and no man gave unto him."
Now what the younger of these two sons did in this parable was totally unthinkable in the eyes of a good Jewish father. I mean what he did was so bad that it probably would have justified calling out the stoning squad; and of course it would have been this younger son who would have received the stones. You see this young whippersnapper had such little respect for his Father that he actually told Him what to do. With absolutely no respect at all he told his Father to give him everything that was his because he was sick and tired of taking orders. He felt that he could handle life very well on his own... and thatís exactly what his Father let him do. And of course it was this younger sonís handling of his own finances that almost caused him to died of starvation. So it was right about the time that he was fighting the pigs for their food that he started thinking seriously about the mess that he was in.
Because reading on, "And when he came to himself, he said, How many hired servants of my fatherís have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger! I will arise and go to my father, and will say unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee. And am no more worthy to be called thy son: make me as one of thy hired servants. And he arose, and came to his father. But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him. And the son said unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in thy sight, and am no more worthy to be called thy son. But the father said to his servants, Bring forth the best robe, and put it on him; and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet: And bring hither the fatted calf, and kill it; and let us eat, and be merry: For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found. And they began to be merry."
So the young and foolish son became young and not so foolish after his little ordeal of handling things on his own (without the help of his Father). He was lost, just as the sheep and the coin, but then he was found... and then the celebration began. And donít you just know his older brother was tickled pink to have him back?
Well letís read on into the parable to see: "Now his elder son was in the field: and as he came and drew nigh to the house, he heard musick and dancing. And he called one of the servants, and asked what these things meant. And he said unto him, Thy brother is come; and thy father hath killed the fatted calf, because he hath received him safe and sound. And he was angry, and would not go in: therefore came his father out, and intreated him. And he answering said to his father, Lo, these many years do I serve thee, neither transgressed I at any time thy commandment: and yet thou never gavest me a kid, that I might make merry with my friends: But as soon as this thy son was come, which hath devoured thy living with harlots, thou hast killed for him the fatted calf."
Now it shouldnít have been any too hard for everyone, including the most holy ones of Israel, to see that older brother in the story was the mirror image of them. Because just as they were none too happy about Jesus preaching and teaching to the publicans and sinners, the older brother was also none too happy about the Father forgiving the younger son for his terribly sinful disobedience. So even though this older brotherís hate was at a full boil letís see what the Father had to say to him: "And he said unto him, Son, thou art ever with me, and all that I have is thine. It was meet that we should make merry, and be glad: for this thy brother was dead, and is alive again; and was lost, and is found."
All right now, there are two very important facts that need to be discussed about this parable that Jesus gave to the Jewish people. First of all Jesus made it abundantly clear that even though the younger son was a child of the Father, it was because of the fact that he refused to obey and follow his Father that he became both lost and dead. So how in the world could anyone who was still alive be dead at the same time? Well the truth of the matter was that he might have been living physically but he was dead spiritually. And if he would have died physically while in the condition that he was in spiritually he would have ended up in Hell!!!
So even though this child of the Father had at one time been in good standing with the Father, it was because of his slip up that he lost it all... but then again it wasnít over until it was over. And thank the Lord for that! You see because the younger son came to his senses before his physical life was over, he was able to correct his sin by asking forgiveness and becoming obedient once again to the Father. And it was right about then that Satan lost what he had so rightfully gotten back, and the angels in Heaven threw a celebration party.
But what about point number two? Well now letís take a look at the older son. In his situation things kinda like did a flip flop too... but they flipped and flopped in the opposite direction. You see his adoption papers were looking good until he got to the place where he could not forgive his younger brother for what he had done. Satan was just waiting for the right opportunity (as he always is) to mess up another adoption and he didnít have to wait any too long. Because you see the Father forgave His youngest sonís sins and that was His final decision. So for the older son not to follow along with his Fatherís decision meant that he was rebelling against his Fatherís decision. And of course rebellion is nothing more than pure and simple disobedience. And to be disobedient to God means a lost relationship with God if not made right through the process of asking forgiveness.
And you see it was this point that was a little bit easier for the Jews of Jesusí time to understand. Because during the translation of the word "son" there was some very important information that got kinda lost. You see throughout this entire parable the word "son" was used a total of eight times. And each and every time, with the exception of one, the original word that it was translated from (huios) meant a son in good standing with his Father. And it was only in the very next to the last verse that the Fatherís description of the older son came from a different word (teknon). They were both translated son but one meant a son in favor with his Father and the other meant a son in hot water with his Father. So it was because of the older sonís reaction to his brother being forgiven that caused him to lose what he had.
And of course this was the point that Jesus was trying His best to get across to the most holy ones in the crowd: it doesnít matter how mean and nasty anybody might be, everybody has a chance of becoming an adopted child of God during their lifetime. It ainít over until itís over, and likewise all it takes to turn things around is a willingness to follow the plan of our Heavenly Father in total obedience. And for all those who might think their adoption papers are complete and final, it also ainít over until itís over for them. Because just as the older son lost it all because of his unwillingness to totally obey his Heavenly Father, the same holds true for the rest of us too.
And thatís why I continue to stress the fact that there is only one way to make it to Heaven... and the process is never complete... until that last dying breath when death says itís over.
Becoming an adopted child of God ainít as easy as most Christians make it out to be. Get close to God, obey His every command, and Keep The Faith!!!
Dad (Bruce Hallman)
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