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Posts Tagged ‘freedom’

“This they said to try(test) Him, hoping they might find a charge on which to accuse Him. But Jesus stooped down and wrote on the ground with His finger.” Jn 8:6

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Amazing! Before the eyes of all present to accuse this woman of adultery, the active, living word of God was being written before them!  The very finger of God was being used again but in a way of grace never before experienced! The effect was to bring conviction and freedom. It was to bring life and cover over judgment.

Hebrews 4:12 tells us the word is alive and full of power… that it penetrates to the dividing line of the breath of life (soul), and the immortal spirit. This is what Jesus was doing there. As He wrote in the dirt, He was truly writing in the very hearts of all the dirt in the form of man present. They each then had the opportunity to agree or disagree; to align with, or turn away from that truth.

It is the very same thing today. We live our lives ruled by passion and desire, pleasures and delights… and yet we think we are saved. We call ourselves believers in fact. But we are often every bit like that crowd, or even the disciples … not knowing what spirit we are of.

At that time, if the crowd had really known the word of God (which in fact was not yet written for them – but is for you and me), they would have seen in Galations 5 that a contrast is presented between the spirit and flesh, between the life of the Spirit residing in us (against which there is no charge), and the life of our own flesh…

At some point you see, there is a distinction. Light does not just blend out into darkness. Darkness certainly does not “evolve” into light. There is a place were dark is dark and light is light – within us. The big question is… given that, what rules within you? Light, or dark? Light thinking or dark thinking?(Rom 6:16)

Imagine that light has a positive charge, and darkness a negative charge. Given a powerful magnet, there would actually be a shakedown of reality in you. Your true condition would be revealed. The prevailing rule of your heart would be seen in all its truth – either the preponderance of light or dark would draw or repel you from the magnet. You would see the truth of your condition – for as a man thinks in his heart so he is!

The problem is: many don’t know their true condition. They are deceived. In fact the cares of this world have choked the word (read life of God or light) in them – so that darkness and their own flesh really rule.

The most dangerous thing about deception is when you yourself are deceived. It is a terminal error! Thinking you stand, your actually are sliding down the slippery slope.

True salvation is to allow the word of God to deal with us. It is Living and Active. It does divide between soul (flesh) and spirit. It does free us from the dominion of our own flesh, and sin, and darkness. But is requires that you remain ever in a place of humility and submission before your God, and that He reigns in you!

Many who have lived divided lives are experiencing today the Lord’s drawing a line in the dirt. He is separating that which is for Him, and that which is not. Let this process show you where you stand!

Let the spirit of repentance have its way in you today, bringing conviction, bringing life, bringing freedom in its fullness to you. Let life and light have the victory!!! The Word is a light and a lamp unto our feet! See clearly today!

 

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Day Sixty-One

Whom do you serve: Rules or The Ruler?

“…choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve….” Joshua 24:15

            Two sisters: Mary and Martha – famous, yet perhaps even still underestimated in the fullness of what they truly convey.

I believe in a very real sense they represent two types of dependence. Indeed, I believe they clarify and address the issue posed by Paul’s question in Galatians 3:3: “Having begun [your new life spiritually] with the [Holy] Spirit, are you now reaching perfection [by dependence] on the flesh?”  I believe neglecting this question is a danger for all believers.  We begin our journey with Christ by faith, but as we proceed we allow works and the flesh to take the helm – and as a result we suffer great loss. Our dependence on the Spirit is transferred to burgeoning dependence on the flesh.  It is based on the misconception that the Holy Spirit will work among us on the basis of us doing what the Law demands, more than because of our believing or trusting on the message that we heard. (Gal 3:5)  We have then trusted our righteousness to be a product of our actions vice our faith in Jesus and the Gospel message.

Recall the story of the two sisters in Luke 10:38-42.  Jesus was coming to visit them in Bethany.  Martha was overly occupied with much serving and brought a complaint before Jesus about her sister and her lack of helpfulness.  I love the way my husband framed this in a recent sermon, “Martha was busy making sandwiches that the Lord hadn’t asked for.” Mary, however, was seated at the Lord’s feet and was listening to Him.

Now I have to confess, having been engaged in ministry over the last fifteen years I have seen the works mentality creep up in my own activity. Many times I have slid into a place where I’m sure I was making sandwiches that the Lord hadn’t called for.  It is in fact the very heart of the issue before us.  As a believer, a part of the Body, and one having a place within the Bride of Christ – my primary engagement is to be with the Lord.  He is the One to Whom we are betrothed, and all of our serving is to radiate out of our relationship to Him.  Another way to say that is, every serving that I do should flow out of obedience to Jesus and in the overflow of the abundance of His life in me. While there is perhaps no food shortage in the Body of sandwiches not ordered, there is indeed a shortage of the food that Jesus spoke of.  He said, I have food which you know nothing of. My food is to do the will of My Father.

Yet what we see in great volume within the Body of Christ is the same kind of service and serving that Martha was doing, which results in the greater works being left undone. Mary’s life seems to be aligned with the freedom spoken of in Galatians 4, speaking of the New Jerusalem, where there is a supernatural birth which gives rise to children of the free. This life is a product of living according to the Spirit of Life in Christ which sets us free from the law of sin and death (Rom 8:2). What we in the Body need to remember is that the covenant of promise (Abraham’s Destiny) supersedes the law.  The law came 430 years after the promise and its purpose was simply to build an awareness of our sin in preparation for the coming Messiah.

Recognize then, that the Law itself serves the purpose of the Messiah.  It causes us to see our need, though the law itself cannot save.  All of Martha’s sandwiches could not bring righteousness, for they only served her flesh. This is the reason she was angry with her sister – she wanted Mary to serve according to external rites so that she could glory in Mary’s subjection to the law and that wasn’t happening (Gal 6:12-14).  We are not justified and declared righteous by the law, but rather we are to rely on the Holy Spirit by faith and wait for the blessing and good for which our righteousness and right standing with God causes us to hope.  In other words, the law serves God – isn’t that what we should be doing too? Like Mary, or even like Ruth seeking the covering at the feet of her kinsmen redeemer, our true service and serving should be at the feet of our Master, waiting and receiving, and being awash in the fullness of His presence.  Not serving rules in bondage, but serving the Ruler of All – in freedom.

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Chapter Six

The Bride is…Without Veil

“But whenever a person turns [in repentance] to the Lord, the veil is stripped off and taken away.” 2Cor3:16

 

We have been looking at various characteristics of the Bride of Christ all in an effort to clearly and with accuracy – “Imagine the Bride.”  We have seen how she has a focus which is different from the church.  We have looked at the profit of breaking in her life.  We have seen how she practices being un-offended.  We have explored how she is like a “dance at Mahanaim.”  And in the previous chapter – how she “is a wall.”  Now in this chapter we will examine the distinct likelihood that contrary to custom, and unlike tradition — the future Bride of Christ will be without a wedding veil.  Not that she will have committed a fashion blunder – and forgotten her veil.  Nor will she recklessly break with bridal protocol and choose to forgo wearing a veil.  No, I believe that that Bride will not wear a veil because she cannot.  Thus, just as Jesus himself often came in a line of Truth that clashed with established precedent – when it comes to wearing a bridal veil, I believe the Bride will be just as unconventional as the Lord.

Before launching into the full discussion consider this additional point which establishes the importance of this issue – because it is about more than simply fashion, or protocol, or an outward statement.  Recall in Mt 22:11-14  Jesus is teaching the Pharisees concerning attire at the future wedding feast.  Jesus reveals that a man has slipped into the celebration without having on the appropriate wedding garment.  Jesus addresses the man kindly, calling him “Friend.”  He asks him how he came to be there without the proper attire, but that man is unable to respond.  The man is then gagged and tied up, and thrown into the darkness outside.  In the heavenly realm it appears that there is a great correlation between our spiritual state and what we get to wear at the marriage supper of the Lamb.  This is further validated by Rev 19:8, where the Bride’s fine linen and her right to wear it – is because of her righteous deeds and godly living while on the earth.

Hence, what we are and do here on earth is knitting a future wardrobe for us in heaven, and there will be no falsity in that process!  It is imperative that we recognize this fact now, and chose a course today which will store for us treasure in heaven, even bridal wear!  So then, onto the discussion at hand – why won’t the Bride wear a veil?

 

 

Divine Trouble-making and Destruction of Tradition

 

Jesus came to upset the order of things as a prelude to deliverance and freedom.  He upset ideas about what could properly be done on the Sabbath.  He literally over-turned and upset tables where temple priests were selling animals for sacrifice, thus terminating their practices and traditions of commerce in the outer courts. He upset the people over washing practices, and forever destroyed misconceptions that external rigors or oblations perfected or protected anyone from being defiled.   He taught that what defiles comes from within – well beyond where we can scrub clean.  He blasted ideas about monies promised to the synagogue being a legitimate excuse for anyone to not take care of their families.  It goes on and on.

Jesus came to upset the old order, and to usher in a higher, more perfect order.  Yet He is very clear in Mt 5:17.  He did not come to undo the law, but to fulfill and complete it!  Jesus’ very nature was to upset the old older – and yet fulfill all aspects of the law.  That is why it is not difficult for me to believe that at the future marriage supper of the Lamb, the Bride of the Lord Jesus Christ, King of Kings, and Lord of Lords – will be without veil!  Against every general bridal protocol and custom practiced historically and today – I believe there will be a great departure ahead.  To understand the significance of this we must investigate history concerning the veil and what is to come.  Let us begin our exploration in the Old Testament.

The Temple Veil

 

The veil within the Temple created a division between the Holy of Holies and the Holy Place, and as such served to both protect and separate.  It kept even the priests out of the Holy of Holies except for just one day of the year – the Day of Atonement.  In position, the veil hung immediately before the Mercy Seat, which was upon the Ark of Testimony.  Upon this Mercy Seat the cloud of God’s presence would appear and rest.  This Mercy Seat is where the Lord would receive the praise of His people.  It is also where He would manifest His Presence – the Shekinah Glory.  So the veil was a separator (of legal and protective importance) from the all-powerful presence of the most holy God.

Now however, you and me, believers in Christ Jesus – we are the very temple of God.  We are told in 1Cor 6:19 that our body is the very temple of the Holy Spirit – it is His sanctuary.  We were bought with a price, we are no longer our own.  When did this happen – this movement from a temple of stone and mortar to one of flesh and blood that is in-dwelt by the most-high God?  It happened at the Cross, when Jesus laid down His life to purchase us as His own.  Stay with me here now – this gets exciting!

Immediately after Jesus gave up His spirit on the cross, the curtain of the temple (also known as the veil) was torn in two from top to bottom.  The earth also shook at this time, and rocks were split open.  Tombs opened and many bodies of saints who were dead were raised to life and walked around the city of Jerusalem.  But focusing on the veil – it was torn from top to bottom.  This was not something any man could do.  This veil was immense and very thick.  It was only the hand of God, of Jesus Himself, making a way and opening up what previously was shut to us.  Only He could perform such a feat!  He made a way before us – that is open forever!  Our access to God the Father will never again be for one day a year, but His Son has made a way for continual, open access.  You and I have freedom of access to the God and Creator of the Universe that can never be taken away or diminished!  You must get this – the veil blocked our freedom to come before God!  The veil then stood as a proponent of slavery or bondage under the law and opposition to freedom.  This shall become clearer as we proceed.

Two Covenants:Types and Shadows of Slavery & Freedom

 

In the book of Galatians, chapter four, Paul sets up a profound and striking parallel.  He revisits the story of God’s promise to Abraham in Genesis (especially Gen 22:17), and re-acquaints us with both of Abraham’s sons.  Abraham’s first son, Ishmael, is the progeny of his union with his wife’s maid Hagar — who is a slave or bond-maid.  Abraham’s second son, Isaac, is the offspring of his union with his wife Sarah — who is a free-woman.  Paul explains that this is an allegory.  Hagar and Sarah actually represent two different covenants, two different lineages.  One covenant had its foundation in the law given from Mt Sinai and concerns children destined for slavery.  This first covenant (Hagar) also corresponds to present day Jerusalem, for she is still in bondage/slavery with her children to the law.  The second covenant (Sarah) has its foundations in the Jerusalem that is above (the Messianic Kingdom of Christ) which is free, and she is the mother of free children – in Christ Jesus.

So there are two covenants and two lineages in operation and force today that we must recognize because they have great bearing on the discussion of the veil.  The children of the first covenant (from Hagar who was a slave) and even the present Jerusalem, remain under slavery even today.  They are of natural, physical decent; they have had an ordinary physical birth.  Hence they remain under the first covenant law – that which was brought by Moses.

The children of the second covenant (from the Jerusalem above/the Messianic Kingdom of Christ) are all free.  They have had a second birth, beyond natural decent – in fact supernatural!  They owe their freedom (and being born again) to the second covenant, brought by Jesus, Who came to make us children of promise – like Isaac!

Now carefully follow the path we are about to take.  Don’t wander off!  This is very profound because of the promise the Father gave Abraham back in Genesis.  Remember, God, as a Theophany (the pre-incarnate Christ) visited Abraham and Sarah and promised them a son – Isaac. Again – Isaac was the son of promise.  He was the son who had a miraculous birth because Sarah and Abraham were well beyond child bearing years.  It was God’s creative miracle that made it possible for them to bear Isaac.  But listen!  This promise to Abraham was given (Paul says in Gal 3:17) 430 years before the law was given by Moses!  Therefore, the promise of freedom and son-ship was given way before the Mosaic Law was ever established!  While the covenant of promise to Abraham could bring new life (Isaac), the covenant of the Law could only produce children from Mt. Sinai (of natural birth, bond-servants)!  However the covenant of Law can never supersede the covenant of promise because the promise was given first.

What does this have to do with a veil?  Look at 2Cor 3:16:  “…whenever a person turns [in repentance] to the Lord, the veil is stripped off and taken away.” Everyone who has come to Jesus and confessed Him as their Savior has had the veil stripped away!  The Bride is devoted and follows Jesus.  She is born again of a supernatural birth!  Jesus stripped her veil away when she came to repentance! She would not now go back and put that veil on again!  It would be like reverting to the Law as if it was the supreme arbeiter! This is why the Bride cannot wear a veil. You cannot be supernaturally birthed as a child of promise and then return to a natural birth.  You cannot be freed as a child of promise and return then to slavery.  You cannot put your hand to the plow and then look backward and remain fit for the Kingdom of God!

The word says in 2Cor 3:13, “Nor [do we act] like Moses, who put a veil over his face so that the Israelites might not gaze upon the vanishing [splendor which had been upon it].”  The best the Law can ever do for you is bring a splendor that vanishes;  it can only be a ministry of doom (decline).  The glory and splendor that abides and remains is the glory of the Gospel in the face of Jesus Christ!  This is a surpassing glory that never diminishes.  No veil could compete with it – nor is the veil needed anymore to protect or separate!  But even to this day, when the law is read to the Israelites, it affirms and fortifies the veil that still lies [on their hearts].  It has not been yet lifted [to reveal] that in Christ it is made void and done away with. (2Cor 3:10-15)

The final point is this.  Christ has made us free!  Through His sacrifice He has made us like Isaac — children of promise.  We are told to stand fast in that liberty, and to not be hampered and ensnared ever again and submit to a yoke of slavery which has been put off! (Gal 5:1)  The Bride will stand fast in this way.  She will never again submit to a yoke of slavery, for her Lord has made her free.  No veil (denoting slavery to the law) will ever cover or hide or obscure her again!  May we in Christ embrace this fact! To the Lord be the glory!

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