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"...for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God."
--1 Corinthians 2:10b Mo Letters from David Berg and the Children of God / The Family

Strangers and Pilgrims! --The Advantages of Change!--Heb.11

By David Brandt Berg, 19/8/78 No.1766
Abram family leaves Ur

LORD BLESS THY WORD and BLESS THE LISTENERS TO GET SOMETHING OUT OF THIS, IN Jesus' name! "Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen." Well, I'll have to tell you about the first verse because that's very very important. I don't know whether I told you this or not, I probably have told it in a Letter somewhere that this word "substance" in the Greek was "hupostasis". (See No.T. More of Faith)

AT THE TIME OF KING JAMES WHEN THIS TRANSLATION WAS MADE, THE SCHOLARS WHO WERE DOING IT REALLY DID NOT KNOW EXACTLY WHAT THAT WORD MEANT. They chose a good word, "substance", and they could tell by the way it was used that it meant something very definite, concrete, very sure. So they agreed on using the word "substance" because it obviously brought out what the verse was meant to mean.

BUT THEY HAD NOT BEEN ABLE TO FIND IT ANYWHERE! They scoured Greek literature, they scoured the classics, and this word was nowhere to be found in all Greek literature, in Greek classics, nowhere. So they were just mystified about what in the World it could mean and didn't find out until the British had Palestine and began to do a lot of archaeological work there to try to uncover old villages and towns and ancient places that had appeared in the Bible.

NOW MIND YOU, HUNDREDS OF YEARS AFTER THE KING JAMES TRANSLATION, STILL NOBODY HAD EVER FOUND THAT WORD ANYWHERE IN GREEK LITERATURE, CLASSICS, GREEK POETRY ETC. Well, when you hear it, you'll understand why. It was not a poetic term, it was not something oratorical in the classics, but the reason they couldn't find it was because it was a business word!

THEY DUG UP A VILLAGE IN NORTHERN ISRAEL NEAR CAESAREA, as I recall, Caesarea Phillipi, and there in the ruins of an old burned inn where apparently this wealthy Roman woman had been staying, they found her little casket of precious jewels and papers, a metal casket of brass or bronze or something that lasted through the years, and they dug this up in the burned remains of this old inn. Apparently the inn burned down and this was lost in the ruins.

AND WHEN THEY OPENED IT UP THEY FOUND SOME OF THESE PAPERS STILL INTACT! They were still readable, decipherable! There was a whole series of documents, and at the top of each document it said "hupostasis". And it turned out to be that they were guess what? Well, if you have read the MO Letters, the ancient ones, you've run across it. They were the title deeds to her properties!

SHE HAD COME ALL THE WAY FROM ROME TO ISRAEL TO INSPECT THESE PROPERTIES SHE HAD BOUGHT. She was obviously a rich land speculator, like some people are, and after the Romans conquered Palestine they probably were able to buy up land pretty cheap. So she had come with her title deeds to land that she had bought, to come see her properties. She knew they were hers because she had what?--The title deeds!--Which guaranteed that the properties were hers. So now read the verse:

"NOW FAITH IS THE TITLE DEED OF THINGS HOPED FOR!" In other words, if you've got the faith, it's just like you've got the title deed in your hand! Here was a lady who apparently had never seen the properties before because she'd bought the title deeds in Rome. She might have heard a description of them--because I'm sure they didn't take any Polaroid pictures--and she was coming to see them for the first time. But she knew they were hers because she already had the title deeds in her hand!

FAITH IS LIKE HAVING THE TITLE DEED! Somebody gave me a car once, a dear old Kaiser. They don't make them any more and the Kaiser's dead too, but it was a nice car then and way ahead of its time. It was streamlined and it was a pretty car and brand new, and through the mail they sent me the title to the car. I'd never ever seen one, I didn't know what they looked like, I hadn't the faintest idea what the car looked like or anything, but there it was! There was the title deed, they'd signed my name on it, and I had a car! I knew I had a car, I didn't know necessarily what kind of car, but I had a car; though I'd never seen it I had the title deed! So "faith is the substance of things hoped for", the title deed to things hoped for, "the evidence of things not seen."

THERE'S ONE THING ABOUT THIS CHAPTER THAT IS VERY DEAR TO ME and THAT TOUCHES MY HEART more than anything in this whole chapter, because ever since I was a little kid I knew what they were talking about when they talked about this. I was telling Maria the other day, we have moved around so much with Little David, from place to place, a few months here and a few months there, maybe longer in some places, but that's been the exception.

THESE CHILD PSYCHOLOGISTS TELL YOU, "OH, WHEN A CHILD IS YOUNG, HE MUST HAVE A PERMANENT HOME! He must grow up in the same surroundings or he'll get feelings of insecurity and it might cause psychological damage, blah blah!" Well, if that's the case, then I'm damaged irreparably psychologically and forever, and maybe that's what's wrong with me!--Ha!--Because if anybody ever moved a lot when I was little, it was my family!

MARIA and I WERE SITTING OUT ON THE LOG BENCH IN THE YARD THE OTHER DAY TRYING TO REMEMBER ALL THE MOVES WE'VE MADE. I was born in California, and before I was a year old we moved to Oklahoma. Before I was two we moved back to California, and by the time I was three we moved back to Oklahoma, each time to a different place. I'm getting all this mostly from memory. The one-year-old trip I don't quite recall, but I remember coming back when I was two. And I remember coming back again after the second trip to Oklahoma, and when I came back then I was three, because we came through that experience that I've written about how we got lost in the desert! (See No.150.) And then I know I was four in Santa Cruz, California, because that's where I started kindergarten. I don't know how come I started at four, but I did, or I had just turned five.

I'LL NEVER FORGET WHEN I FIRST WENT TO SCHOOL, THE FIRST TIME I EVER WENT WITHOUT MY MOTHER. She'd taken me there the day before and enrolled me with the teacher and all that, and showed me the way to walk etc. and we walked back and forth a few times, but this time I had to go alone. In those days it wasn't dangerous for children to walk someplace alone--nowadays they don't dare let them for fear they'd get kidnapped or something else! And then while I was still five we moved to Washington D.C. or near there, Virginia Highlands across the river, and there I recall having Christmas. And then right after Christmas we moved to Miami, Florida, and I remember that because I remember having my sixth birthday there, back and forth, back and forth!

WE MOVED AT LEAST EVERY YEAR, SOMETIMES MUCH MORE THAN THAT--especially since my parents were in evangelistic work--and sometimes they'd leave us home with governesses like you girls. I had everything from pretty girls like Delarine and you to an old gruff tough army-sergeant-of-a-grandmother, a German lady that I'll never forget! Her name was Adelle Grondorf and she was a gruff one! She used to pinch me in church to keep me quiet and I wanted to scream!

WELL ANYWAY, WE MOVED AROUND A LOT and I DON'T THINK IT HURT ME ANY! I think I've often said, and maybe I've told you in the Letters, that I know one thing it did for me, it taught me that everything in this World is transitory, changeable. We used to say on the "Revolutionary Sheet" when we were first getting new disciples in Texas: "There's one thing you can be sure of in the Revolution--change!" (See No.S.)

SO THERE WAS ONE THING IN MY LITTLE LIFE WHEN I WAS A KID THAT I KNEW ALWAYS HAPPENED, CHANGE, and I WAS ACCUSTOMED TO CHANGE. I think maybe that was good for me because I got used to it and accustomed to it and I adjusted readily to new situations. Maybe that's one reason I'm not afraid to try to change things, and if you're going to have a revolution you've got to be willing to change things! I think that's the trouble with the System, they've been so stuck in the same old rut so long that they're afraid to change.

BUT PEOPLE WHO ARE ACCUSTOMED TO CHANGING and ADAPTING TO NEW SITUATIONS and NEW PLACES ETC. ARE NOT AFRAID TO CHANGE! They're not afraid to try to change the World if they can, which we're trying to do! PTL? We started out changing from place to place and now we're trying to change the World!

BUT THERE WAS ONE THING WHICH THAT CONSTANT CHANGE DID FOR ME, IT TAUGHT ME THAT NO PLACE WAS EVER PERMANENT! I would never be in the same house always, I would never be with the same people always, I would never even be able to keep the same toys always, I was always having to leave things behind, and I would always be going someplace new, meeting new people, staying new places and maybe finding new toys.

AND THERE WAS ONE THING BESIDES THAT WHICH IT TAUGHT ME TO BE SURE OF: There was only one thing I could always take with me that never changed. You know what that was?--The Lord! He's not a thing, but if I had said something else I'd have given it away! It taught me that the Lord was always the same and He always went with me wherever I went. I really believed that the only thing in our lives that didn't change was the Lord!

SO I'LL TELL YOU, IT REALLY HELPS YOU STAY CLOSE TO THE LORD WHEN YOU NEVER KNOW WHAT THE FUTURE HOLDS!--And who does? You don't, I don't, only the Lord knows. Sometimes He tells us, sometimes He doesn't. I used to sing a song about the future, that sometimes maybe the Lord throws a veil over the future and it's best for us not to know. The things we need to know He tells us, sometimes the things we want to know He tells us, but most of the time He leaves the future known only to Him.

BUT I BELIEVE IT REALLY HELPED ME TO LEARN TO LOVE THE LORD MORE, TRUST HIM MORE, THINK OF HIM MORE and STAY CLOSER TO HIM, BECAUSE HE WAS THE ONLY THING THAT DIDN'T CHANGE. Even people around me changed, I had new governesses, new teachers, new friends, new family, really, because my Mother and Father came and went and came and went. I was always with different ones, but the Lord never changed. So He was very close and dear and I think it really helped me learn to love Him more and trust Him more and appreciate Him more, because He was all in my life that didn't really change.

SO PRAISE THE LORD, YOU HAVE THE MOST PRECIOUS POSSESSION THAT YOU COULD POSSIBLY HAVE, and THAT'S THE LORD, THAT'S JESUS, and that's one possession you'll never have to give up, never have to forsake, never have to leave behind, never have to give away and lose. You can give Him away as much as you want but never get rid of Him. You'll always have Him, thank the Lord, and He'll always be near, He'll never leave nor forsake you even to the end of the World! (Mat.28:20) PTL?

AND THERE'S SOMETHING IN HERE THAT IS AMAZING, and that's all I'm going to read to you right now, because this to me is the most important part of this whole passage, maybe because it applies to me more, I experienced it more and therefore I understand it more. Verse 8:

"BY FAITH ABRAHAM, WHEN HE WAS CALLED TO GO OUT INTO A PLACE WHICH HE SHOULD AFTER RECEIVE FOR AN INHERITANCE, OBEYED." He was being given the title deed to it, God was promising it to him, right? But he'd never even seen it, never been there, maybe he'd hardly even heard about it for all we know.

"AND HE WENT OUT, NOT KNOWING WHITHER HE WENT." How many times in the Family have you been sent out, sometimes not knowing where you were going? Well, you'll learn that fast in our Family, we've got a lot of Abrahams going out "not knowing whither they went"! Maybe you know your destination, but maybe you've never been there before so you don't know what it's going to be like, you don't know what the people are like or anything. The wonderful thing in our Family is, usually you'll find somebody of our Family there to greet you--unless you're going as a pioneer to open a new country. "And he went out not knowing whither he went." Boy, I've got to admire a guy with guts like that! How could he stand to do it?--"By faith!" And what did he do when he got there?:

"BY FAITH HE SOJOURNED IN THE LAND OF PROMISE, AS IN A STRANGE COUNTRY, dwelling in tabernacles"--tents--"with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise." Now mind you, by faith he went there, and when he got there in this strange land amongst strangers, how was he able to stand it? How could he bear to go to a strange land that he knew nothing about, never saw before, and then bear to live there with strangers, no doubt people of a strange tongue? In fact, as far as we now know, they were black Canaanites, very strange heathen who worshipped heathen gods and had many strange practices. But he stayed there by faith. Why? How could he stand it?

THERE'S ONE NICE THING ABOUT THIS KIND OF LIFE, IT'S KIND OF LIKE THE SWISS WEATHER: IF YOU DON'T LIKE THE WEATHER, JUST WAIT A FEW MINUTES! Did you get that one? If you don't like the weather, just wait a few minutes, and that's one thing you can be sure of, it will always change! That's one of the nice things about being a pilgrim and stranger, if you land someplace you don't like, you can always be sure that you're not going to have to stay there forever! So you just learn to put up with it at least for awhile, because you know you don't have to live there forever. That's one nice thing about change.

WHEN YOU GET SOMEPLACE WHERE YOU REALLY LIKE IT and you love the people you're living with and you like your work and you like the home and you love the country and climate and everything else, the more you like it, the harder it is to give up, right? So that has its disadvantages too. But if you don't like it, it's not going to be hard to give up! So how could he stand all this? In the 10th verse it tells you:

"FOR HE LOOKED FOR A CITY WHICH HATH FOUNDATIONS, WHOSE BUILDER and MAKER IS GOD!" Because he knew he wasn't going to stay there forever, he knew he was going someplace which is going to last forever, "which hath foundations".--In other words, never going to be moved, foundations that are going to be permanent! There have been oodles of cities that had foundations, but they didn't last. This City has foundations built by God and it's going to last forever! Thank the Lord?--Never going to have to move again. Well, not as far as we know right now. Then it goes on in the 13th verse:

"THESE ALL DIED IN FAITH, NOT HAVING RECEIVED THE PROMISES, BUT HAVING SEEN THEM AFAR OFF, and WERE PERSUADED OF THEM and EMBRACED THEM."--And what were the promises? How come they all died and never got these promises? What were they really looking for?--A Heavenly City whose Builder and Maker is God, a permanent home! "This World is not my home, I'm just a-passing through. My treasures are laid up somewhere beyond the blue!" PTL! This World is not our home, so we don't have to worry about whether it's good or bad. The better it is, the harder it is to leave it. The badder it is, the easier it is to leave it!

SO MAYBE THAT'S WHY THE LORD SOMETIMES LETS PEOPLE GET OLD and SICK and CREAKY and ACHEY and everything else, till they get to the point that they're glad to leave it behind! I know some people that like it so well they don't want to leave this life, they never had it so good, they've got it too good. Dives the rich man, he didn't want to leave, but Lazarus with all the dogs licking his sores was apparently happy to leave. (Luke 16:19-31)

SO WHY COULD THEY BE HAPPY TO MOVE, TO LEAVE ONE PLACE and TO LIVE SOMEPLACE STRANGE?--BECAUSE THEY CONFESSED THEY WERE STRANGERS and PILGRIMS ON THE EARTH! They didn't have to worry about staying any one place too long, they never stayed any place too long. Well, they stayed in a few places pretty long, but they knew it wasn't going to be permanent.

THAT'S ONE THING ABOUT OUR LIFE IN THE FAMILY, WE'RE ALWAYS PILGRIMS and STRANGERS, because the Lord said to "go into all the World and preach the Gospel to every creature!" You can't do that and settle down and be permanent. If you're going to keep going, you've got to keep going until everybody's heard, or every country's heard. Verse 14:

"FOR THEY THAT SAY SUCH THINGS DECLARE PLAINLY THAT THEY SEEK A COUNTRY."--What country? I went looking for a long time for some country where I could settle down, where at least they'd let me stay longer than three months, and I haven't been able to find one! "And truly, if they had been mindful of that country from whence they came out, they might have had opportunity to have returned."--If they'd liked it, if they'd liked Iraq where they once lived, or if they liked Syria where they once lived, if they'd liked those places, if they liked Lebanon, the Lord says He would have let them go back. But they weren't satisfied, they wanted something better!

IF YOU WANT TO COME BACK TO THIS LIFE, WELL, MAYBE THE LORD WILL LET YOU BE A GHOST! He lets some come back and watch it happen, and that's part of their punishment. That's punishment! The only reason I'd want to stick around is to try to help you guys out a little bit and see all the good you're going to do! PTL!--Otherwise, take off! But why?: "They desire a better country, that is an heavenly!"

AND THEN COMES THE CORKER! HERE COMES THE PAY-OFF! What's their reward? They are not satisfied with this World, they're not satisfied just to always stay in one place, they are willing to keep on moving to obey God and serve the Lord, so what does God have to say about them?

"WHEREFORE GOD IS NOT ASHAMED TO BE CALLED THEIR GOD!" You know what that means, don't you? What it really means is God was proud of them! If you're willing to forsake all--home, family, friends, your home country and go to strange lands with strange tongues, strange people, preach the Gospel, always be on the go, always on the move, God is proud of you! You've given up a lot for the Lord and He's not ashamed to be called your God. He's proud of you! PTL?

THAT'S ALMOST THE BEST THING THE LORD COULD EVER SAY ABOUT YOU, because you're willing to travel and give up and go, forsake all and go on and on, never satisfied here! Well, we "learn to be content in whatever state we're in" (Phi.4:11), but on the other hand, we're always looking for a country whose Builder and Maker is God!

"FOR HE HATH PREPARED FOR THEM A CITY!" Hallelujah? He's got a City for you and me where we're not going to have any passport nor visa problems, they're not going to have to make sure you've got enough money to stay there awhile, it's your town, our Hometown in Heaven, praise God? And they're all going to be your people! PTL? We're just going to be one nationality of one nation, which we already are here! We're already a nation, we're already one nationality, we're already one Family, we just haven't found the place yet, we haven't gotten there yet! PTL!

AMEN, LORD, HELP US ALL TO HAVE THAT PILGRIM ATTITUDE, LORD, and NOT BE AFRAID TO CHANGE! WHEN THE TIME COMES TO MOVE, TO MOVE! We've often said, Lord, that moving is like dying, you leave the old life behind, the old shell, the old house, old associations, you can't take much with you. We even take more with us when we move sometimes, more junk, Lord, than certainly we'll ever be able to take out of this life, but it's a type of dying. However, Lord, we can begin a new life!

THANK YOU, LORD, FOR THE LIFE IN THE FAMILY THAT TEACHES US THIS LESSON CONSTANTLY! Though we have to leave one life behind, the things of that life, we do find a new life and new friends and new people and a new place to preach the Gospel that takes the place of what we've had to leave behind. So, Lord, we're never totally desolate or destitute, You always fill us up again with something, usually better than we left behind.

SO, LORD, YOU'RE GOOD TO US, and EVEN THOUGH WE GIVE UP SOME THINGS, YOU USUALLY GIVE US SOMETHING EVEN BETTER IN SOME WAY and we've never had to really suffer too much by it. Once in awhile it's been a little hard, once in awhile there's a little hardship, once in awhile it's a little trial, Lord, but usually when we come through, things are better than they were before. TYL! Although there are greater battles, there is also the enjoyment of greater victories in the end when the battle is over. So we thank You for it all!

BLESS EACH ONE, LORD, and GIVE US ALL A GOOD NIGHT'S SLEEP TONIGHT and KEEP US SAFELY. Keep the house and grounds and all that is therein safely in Thy care. This is Thy house as long as we're living in it, Lord, we're Thy children, so give us all strength for tomorrow and tomorrow's tasks, whatever they may be. Bless and keep everyone, Lord, of this precious Family we love so well. Thank You, Jesus, for every one of them and what a blessing they are, and what a blessing we expect them to continue to be, Lord, either here or there or wherever You may lead them.

THY WILL BE DONE IN EACH LIFE, TO GET OUT OF THAT LIFE WHAT YOU WANT, LORD, and TO PUT INTO THAT LIFE WHAT YOU WANT, and to do Your Will to bring many many more lives into Thy Kingdom for Thy glory, in Jesus' name. As we pray together the prayer about Your Kingdom, Lord, that You Yourself taught us to pray: (Prays the Lord's Prayer.) "The Lord bless thee and keep thee, the Lord make His face to shine upon thee and be gracious unto thee, the Lord lift up His countenance upon thee and give thee peace!" (Num.6:24-26) In Jesus' name, amen!

WHAT'S THE BEST THING AFTER A BATTLE IS OVER?--PEACE! AMEN? Well, yes pray, but you couldn't pray very well if you didn't have peace. The best thing after a battle not only is a victory, but peace! So that's the last thing the Lord promises in that Scripture--peace! Lord bless you all! Thanks so much!--ILY!--Don't be afraid of change!--It's good for you! (Psa.55:19)

Copyright (c) 1998 by The Family International

James Arendt
James Arendt

I was raised in the Hegewisch neighborhood on the southeast side of Chicago, Illinois, served in the USAF from 1970 to 1974, and became a full-time missionary for Christ living 40 years in Japan, 3.5 years in Russia, and a few months in other countries such as Finland, Poland, Estonia, Latvia, South Korea, Taiwan and mainland China where I also served the King of Kings, Jesus, as an Ambassador for His Kingdom.

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