Friday, November 29, 2013

It Is Finished - Part 9

"For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable." Romans 11:29 ESV

"But the anointing that you received from him abides in you..." 1 John 2:27a ESV

"...the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption." Ephesians 4:30b ESV

God does not regret what He has done by grace or what He is doing by grace... His many gifts and many initiations to us.

I was thinking about the anointing oil this morning. It was special unduplicatable oil poured on kings, priests and objects in the holy places.

"Then you shall take the anointing oil and anoint the tabernacle and all that is in it, and consecrate it and all its furniture, so that it may become holy." Exodus 40:9 ESV

" 'And do not go outside the entrance of the tent of meeting, lest you die, for the anointing oil of the LORD is upon you.' And they did according to the word of Moses." Leviticus 10:7 ESV

"He shall not go out of the sanctuary, lest he profane the sanctuary of his God, for the consecration of the anointing oil of his God is on him: I am the LORD." Leviticus 21:12 ESV

The oil speaks of God's Holy Spirit. Once sealed with the Spirit we are considered inside the temple... a part of a holy structure. Just like oil does not sit on the skin and then is gone when washed away. Some gets absorbed into the skin and becomes one with the person.

When we received Christ we became one with Him and what He did. There can be no real and lasting separation. The priests were told not to leave. They could but they were told not to as a picture. We have a work of grace that never leaves us. We are in the temple and the temple is in us... by grace.

The moment the oil touched the man who would be king it sealed the transfer of power (see 1 Samuel 16:13 with David). He was destined to rule. The moment the oil touched the furniture or the priest it or he was made holy. It took shed blood and oil.

At the moment of our salvation... the moment we believed that the death, burial and resurrection was true and for us we were touched and sealed by the Spirit and all kinds of gifts and transfers were made and put on our account. Our destiny was set.

God is going to spend the rest of our lives initiating to us as He sees fit but it will be to open our eyes to what has already happened and based upon what is already finished. The oil is God's finishing touch. We are a finished work also. God loves us just as we are. Our growth and sanctification only changes us into the likeness of what we already have become.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

It Is Finished - Part 8

Psalm 119 is such a rich Psalm. If you read it straight from beginning to end it seems to get repetitive but each section is broken out by a specific Hebrew letter. Each letter is associated with words or concepts beginning with that letter.

This particular section relates strongly to our topic... 'The Finished Work of Christ':

Forever, O LORD, your word is firmly fixed in the heavens.
Your faithfulness endures to all generations; you have established the earth, and it stands fast.
By your appointment they stand this day, for all things are your servants.
If your law had not been my delight, I would have perished in my affliction.
I will never forget your precepts, for by them you have given me life.
I am yours; save me, for I have sought your precepts.
The wicked lie in wait to destroy me, but I consider your testimonies.
I have seen a limit to all perfection, but your commandment is exceedingly broad." Psalms 119:89-96 ESV

God's word is forever settled in Heaven. It remains vigilant and ready there in it's correct place forever. God's faithfulness also stands and is expressed in every generation.

What Christ has done covers all of humanity. Our perception of what Christ has done has a preserving power on our mind. God does the keeping. The precepts of God become building blocks for our thinks but they are all nestled under the covering of the big picture.

The last verse is especially telling. Here is a breakdown of the Hebrew.

"I have seen an end of all perfection: but thy commandment is exceeding broad." Psalms 119:96 KJV

Seen - Ra'ah (Strong's H7200) - To observe, watch or perceive
End - Qets (H7093) - Cut off point
All Perfection - Tiklah (H8502) - Perfect completion or fulfillment, to be consumed fully as by fire
Commandment - mitsvah (H4687) - Blessed participation
Exceeding - Me'od (H3966) - much, many, abundant force
Broad - Rachab (H7342) - Wide, like the freedom of an open field

If we have consciously observed the work of the cross then we have seen the end of perfection. Sin has been utterly consumed as if by fire and open before us is a broad place of freedom.

The letter LAMED is linked to learning or instruction and the fullness of a people group. God clearly links teaching and understanding to the eternal nature of His word and the finished state of His work. Holy ideas are always resting on the immovable, everlasting and complete. These are not theories they are finished facts.

Hope can't be a theory. Theories have room for doubt. Hope must be based on something proven.

The cross has given us something proven and lasting. We have seen the end of all perfection.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

It Is Finished - Part 7

"As an example, brethren, of suffering and patience, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. We count those blessed who endured. 

You have heard of the endurance of Job and have seen the outcome of the Lord's dealings, that the Lord is full of compassion and is merciful. But above all, my brethren, do not swear, either by heaven or by earth or with any other oath; but your yes is to be yes, and your no, no, so that you may not fall under judgment. Is anyone among you suffering? Then he must pray. Is anyone cheerful? He is to sing praises. Is anyone among you sick? Then he must call for the elders of the church and they are to pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord; and the prayer offered in faith will restore the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up, and if he has committed sins, they will be forgiven him. 

Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed. The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much. 

Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the earth for three years and six months. Then he prayed again, and the sky poured rain and the earth produced its fruit. 

My brethren, if any among you strays from the truth and one turns him back, let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins." James 5:10-20 NASB

Job saw the 'outcome of the Lord' (or end of the Lord) and Elijah was just a person like you and i.
Why bring the elders of the Church to the sick person? Doesn't it say in the next verse that we can pray for one another and there will be healing also?

Is it because the elders have authority? Yes. They do have it. They have the authority given in a structure that is based on knowledge of the 'outcome of the Lord'. If they are anointed and God appointed elders then they are well versed in forgiveness. They aren't going to stop at oil and prayer because they love and see with discernment. These elders are well versed in forgiveness based counseling.

But, Anyone who sees the finished work can turn someone back. Grace words wake the sleeper and provide a way back to someone wandering, lingering or lost.

"I am writing to you, little children, because your sins are forgiven for his name's sake.
I am writing to you, fathers, because you know him who is from the beginning.
I am writing to you, young men, because you have overcome the evil one.
I write to you, children, because you know the Father.
I write to you, fathers, because you know him who is from the beginning.
I write to you, young men, because you are strong, and the word of God abides in you, and you have overcome the evil one." 1 John 2:12-14 ESV

"Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honour, especially they who labour in the word and doctrine." 1 Timothy 5:17 KJV

Amen to that. But not because it is about the men themselves. It is about Jesus. It is about the message. It is about faithfulness to proclaim the outcome of the cross and the Lord of compassion and mercy. Don't muzzle that ox.

The Gospel of Grace belongs to every believer. The young freshly forgiven one and the old one who has learned the value of forgiveness again and again.

If we walk by sight the outcome may not look very promising at times. When the finished work of Christ is our frame of reference then our moments can be filled with faith and the miraculous can happen at any time.

A short prayer is a potent prayer when you believe.

Monday, November 25, 2013

It Is Finished - Part 6

Romans chapter 8 is such a beautiful chapter. I went through it backwards and forwards this morning.

"For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord." Romans 8:38-39 ESV

"There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death." Romans 8:1-2 ESV

As you can see the chapter ends with being 'in Christ' and starts with it also. Much of what is sandwiched in between must also be seen in that context.

"And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified. What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?" Romans 8:28-32 ESV

It is Finished! We start from the finished line of the race. Let's work our way backward through what is already done. Then return and start from that place.

In Christ we have been glorified, justified, predestined and called. In Christ it is finished. In Christ there is a love that defies separation... in Christ there is no condemnation.

When Christ finished the work He provided a template for a new identity. It is a finished work identity.

The work of salvation is one we view from a seated position. We are seated in Christ.

"But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ - by grace you have been saved - and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus" Ephesians 2:4-6 ESV

"If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth." Colossians 3:1-2 ESV

It is discovery not striving. It is resting not working. We can walk in the Spirit and petition the Father because we rest in the finished work of the Son.

Friday, November 22, 2013

It Is Finished - Part 5

When Jesus said 'It is Finished' it was also the completion of His full identification with each individual person.

"Then God said, 'Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.' " Genesis 1:26 ESV

As creator God designed mankind. We used Himself as a pattern and breathed life into us with His own breadth. It a sense He knew us from the outside in as a race. He knew us empirically.

"And Jesus said, 'Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.' " Luke 23:34a ESV

Once the cross Jesus knew us from the inside out. By emptying Himself and walking where we walk to He understood us and saw our motivations, pains and triumphs as a race of individuals.

"He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness." - 1 Peter 2:24a ESV

His identification was utterly complete... individually. All of our failings became His failing. The template of each individual life was placed on Him. He became sin. He walked in our shoes.
It was no longer 'they' now it was 'us'.

It is one thing to laugh with someone. It is amazing how many fun you can have with a person and still not know them at all. Bars, resorts and work places are filled with people who laugh together but lack any real identification.

"Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep." Romans 12:14-15 ESV

Ah, But when you laugh and cry with them. There is something more isn't there. Still... What Jesus did goes where no one else could go. He brought identification to it's completion. He took our place dressed up in our sin. He died in our place and took our bullet. That is final finished identification.

"So then, since we have a great High Priest who has entered heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to what we believe. This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses, for he faced all of the same testings we do, yet he did not sin." Hebrews 4:14-15 NLT

Religion offers a cookie cutting method. The best a dead society or system can offer is to treat us like people who were similar to us in the past. 'If you bought this book and shop at these stores then we suggest these offering to you.' or 'Others who show your symptoms were helped by this drug so we are prescribing this and that.' That is the best they ever could do.

"For it was fitting that he, for whom and by whom all things exist, in bringing many sons to glory, should make the founder of their salvation perfect through suffering. For he who sanctifies and those who are sanctified all have one source. That is why he is not ashamed to call them brothers" Hebrews 2:10-11 ESV

Jesus suffered as us and now He knows and ministers to us with full knowledge of who we are.

If we can sit where people sit and rejoice when people rejoice and cry when they cry. It is because of this... Jesus does. He does not see us as 'other' or 'they'. He is the head of a body of people organically connected to Himself.

"For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:" Ephesians 2:8 KJV

"I am my beloved's, and my beloved is mine: he feedeth among the lilies." Song of Songs 6:3 KJV

Saving faith touches this truth. We in some small, but real, way identify with His identification. Jesus' death, burial and resurrection goes from being an external thing to being an internal one. It registers and resonates in our soul.... He died for us.... wait, wait.... HE DIED FOR ME! God saves us the moment we connect and believe that. Amazing.

If we then choose a life of discipleship (It is presented to us by grace not in commandment form) we are given the option and privilege to identify with Him. To have a reciprocal exchange.
He gives us beauty for ashes every time.

"This is what I mean, brothers: the appointed time has grown very short. From now on, let those who have wives live as though they had none, and those who mourn as though they were not mourning, and those who rejoice as though they were not rejoicing, and those who buy as though they had no goods, and those who deal with the world as though they had no dealings with it. For the present form of this world is passing away. I want you to be free from anxieties. The unmarried man is anxious about the things of the Lord, how to please the Lord." 1 Corinthians 7:29-32 ESV

Identification with Him is a life free from anxiety.

Who will identify with people? If they do... What more can they offer but a bunch of opinions and a bag full of statistically proven remedies.

"Finally, brothers, rejoice. Aim for restoration, comfort one another, agree with one another, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you." 2 Corinthians 13:11 ESV

 "Therefore comfort each other and edify one another, just as you also are doing." 1 Thessalonians 5:11 NKJV

If any of this is done it is done because we have 'been all made to drink into one Spirit.' the Christ's Spirit (see 1 Corinthians 12:13)

Christ will identify with people. He already has completely identified with people. He desires communion... fellowship... Not because He needs it but because out of love He desires to 'tabernacle among us' (see John 1:14) we get to share in that with Him.

We can never in bodies of death do that fully but God can. He knows how much we as individuals need that. By God's grace in great compassion we can live a life of stewardship in identification. Spirit led identification.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

It Is Finished - Part 4

An understanding of the finished work and salvation by Grace are intertwined. The only way a holy God could even associate with people like us or like Noah, Abraham or anyone in the Bible was based on the fact that He had preplanned to forgive us... if we let Him do it.

"For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God's righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus." Romans 3:23-26 ESV

Before the cross He looked past sins to Jesus the justifier of mankind and after the cross He does the same thing. God was banking on Jesus' death, burial and resurrection when he saved Noah, Abraham, David, Joseph and everyone else.

"The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent, because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead." Acts 17:30-31 ESV

The word there 'overlooked' also translated 'winked at' in the KJV is only used once in the NT. It is Hyperorao (Strong's G5237). It means to interpret something by something else you see beyond it. God looked beyond past ignorance because He saw Christ in the picture.

God commands that all people do this also. He wants everyone to look beyond their own thought and see Jesus. The only way to properly interpret our lives is by seeing Him. Seeing Him in the context of the finished work is an unobstructed viewpoint. From there we see Him clearly from outside of time and circumstances.

'On Christ the solid rock I stand. All other ground is shifting sand. All other ground is shifting sand.'
Grace is the only way anyone is ever saved. One false claim that people make is that because all sins are paid for then all people are equally related to God. Everyone must then be saved because sin was 'the problem' and it is taken care of.

Sin is taken care of. But sin killed us. It killed us each individually. A full pardon does not do a dead man very much good.

"So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus... Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness." Romans 6:11, 13 ESV

"For what does the Scripture say? 'Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness.' " Romans 4:3 ESV (also stated in Galatians 3:6 ESV & James 2:23 ESV)

In Christ we are spiritually raised from the dead to enjoy a new life. Grace saves us from what we have done and what those things have done to us. It saves us from being trapped in what anyone else has done to us also. Believing in Jesus is the key. Seeing what He has done and believing.

"Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light: Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son" Colossians 1:12-13 KJV

God could move us from one place to another because of a cross... because of the One who hung on the cross but is alive forever. God can look at us because He looks beyond us and sees Him.

Today we can see ourselves correctly if we look beyond ourselves and see Him. We can look at others correctly by picturing Jesus standing near them waiting to be gracious to them. It is not just our imagination. He Is close by... He is in the picture. We can only see that if we look by faith and not by sight.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

It Is Finished - Part 3

The payment for sin is complete. God shed the blood 'of His own' to accomplish it. One offering was made and it is paid in full. No other offering will be made. No offering can be made.

"...the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood." Acts 20:28c ESV

"Consequently, he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him" Hebrews 7:25a ESV

I love that little phrase 'to save to the uttermost' in the Greek the phrase is Eis (Strong's G1519) Ho (G3588) Panteles (G3838). 'Bring them to complete perfection' would be a good alternative translation.

When Jesus said 'It is Finished' in John 19:30 he used the word Tetelestai (G5055) which comes from the same root word uttermost comes from that is Telos (G5056). Telos is the end of something. The termination point. The last payment on your car is the Telos payment. The last stoke of a paint brush on a canvas brings it to completion. When something can't go any farther because there is no farther to go it has been brought to it's termination point.

That is what Jesus did. He completed salvation. There is no farther to go. No more needs to be done. No more can ever be done. It is finished.

If are drawn near to God through Jesus our salvation is finished. No more needs to be done. No more can be done.

"For since the law has but a shadow of the good things to come instead of the true form of these realities, it can never, by the same sacrifices that are continually offered every year, make perfect those who draw near. Otherwise, would they not have ceased to be offered, since the worshipers, having once been cleansed, would no longer have any consciousness of sins? But in these sacrifices there is a reminder of sins every year. For it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins. Consequently, when Christ came into the world, he said, 'Sacrifices and offerings you have not desired, but a body have you prepared for me; in burnt offerings and sin offerings you have taken no pleasure.'... then he added, 'Behold, I have come to do your will.' He does away with the first in order to establish the second. And by that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all." - Hebrews 10:1-6, 9-10 ESV

It is a big chunk of scripture... I know... each line has such great meaning.

God took away many sacrifices and replaced them with one sacrifice. He took Israel's many sacrifices and He takes away our many sacrifices. The things we do to assuage our conscience are taken away and replaced by one man giving Himself for us. Jesus made peace with God quickly. God saw the meaning of that sacrifice and the veil in the temple was rent from top to bottom. God opened the access into Holiness almost instantly.

It takes us puny shortsighted beings longer to understand. We are blinded in our traditions and routines. Our self justification is over! Oh, that is good news. Dance, sing and laugh... cry with joy as I am now... It is finished!

"And in the same way he sprinkled with the blood both the tent and all the vessels used in worship. Indeed, under the law almost everything is purified with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins." Hebrews 9:21-22 ESV

I like how it says almost everything. Not everything required blood but the sin issue did require it.

"Nor was it to offer himself repeatedly, as the high priest enters the holy places every year with blood not his own, for then he would have had to suffer repeatedly since the foundation of the world. But as it is, he has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself." Hebrews 9:25-26 ESV

Not only is this only done once but once done it puts the issue to bed once and for all. Sin is put away. It was put away 2,000 years ago. It was planned before the world began but it was enacted on the cross. The ruling came into full enforcement when Christ's blood was shed in time.

Jesus said this on the cross. We may need to say it again and again. We can take a deep breadth and then exhale saying 'It is finished.' We say it to ourselves... We say it to God as worship and praise. As we say it the tension leaves our brow... stress melts... things fall into perspective... not everything requires blood but the things that do are taken care of... we are free to live now.

We say it to the hopeless person... the condemned person... It is the best news possible for everyone to hear. They may not get it at first. We still don't understand the full ramifications of it. I think it will take all of eternity to grasp it.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

It Is Finished - Part 2

The Finished Work starts before the beginning and never ends because Jesus had no beginning and no end.

"I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last." Revelation 22:13 KJV

"John to the seven churches which are in Asia: Grace be unto you, and peace, from him which is, and which was, and which is to come; and from the seven Spirits which are before his throne" Revelation 1:4 KJV

He was a lamb before the world began and He remains a wounded bloodless lamb far into the future.

"And I beheld, and, lo, in the midst of the throne and of the four beasts, and in the midst of the elders, stood a Lamb as it had been slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God sent forth into all the earth... Saying with a loud voice, Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing." Revelation 5:6, 12 KJV

What He did on the cross is marvelous. It revealed who God was and is and is to come. Jesus is complete and His work would be complete.

"Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God with mighty works and wonders and signs that God did through him in your midst, as you yourselves know - this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men. God raised him up, loosing the pangs of death, because it was not possible for him to be held by it." Acts 2:22-24 ESV

God knew. God had a predetermined plan to reveal Himself in a certain way.

"For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God." John 3:16-18 ESV

Jesus was 'foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you' (see 1 Peter 1:20). God revealed His grace by and through His Son. God was always gracious and will always be gracious. God used time as a canvas and left none of it blank. All of time is painted with His love.

Jesus is the lamb and in the Lamb's book names are written. Those wounds are fresh and lasting so are those names written forever in that book. The Book of life is another book. It is like a ledger. Names are written in it and taken out again. People live and then they die. The lamb's book is forever and the names there are never erased. One book chronicles human history and the other chronicles Jesus' history.

The Lamb died and received power, riches, wisdom, strength, honor, glory, and blessing. Those He won are trophies of His grace. Believers are the spoils of war. His victory is a complete victory.

The scope of the work spans all of time. The cross and consequential resurrection are points in time where that plan is revealed.

"But we impart a secret and hidden wisdom of God, which God decreed before the ages for our glory. None of the rulers of this age understood this, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory." 1 Corinthians 2:7-8 ESV

The cross was a surprise to the onlooker. It would reveal what could only be revealed from the depth of a forever love. It revealed a love with no beginning and no end that covered everything a man could ever do. It was a complete covering. It is a finished work.

Monday, November 18, 2013

It Is Finished - Part 1

This week I want to spend some time talking about the doctrine of the finished work of Christ. A clear understanding of this truth shapes our understanding of every other truth in the scriptures.

It is a key to understanding Soteriology (the doctrine of salvation) and touches every other doctrine the scriptures teach because it frames how God views mankind. It's scope spans the length and breadth of creation. If we understand the finished work we can better see the angelic contest for what is and therefore fight a good fight in spiritual warfare. Our view of history changes and we see God's dealings with mankind and Israel in a new light.

I believe this is a key doctrine. One that if understood will change a life forever.

The beginning is a good place to start. Many see the cross as the beginning of this understanding but actually I want to start much farther back... before creation itself.

"But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot: Who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you" 1 Peter 1:19-20 KJV

Jesus was the lamb before any lambs were spoken into existence. God had a blueprint in His mind for the design of creation and not the slightest detail escaped Him. He did not only make space... He made time and history also. By creating people as free will agents he designed a system where both 'yes' and 'no' were possible. That in itself boggles the mind. He knew that system needed a victim. Christ would be that victim. Jesus would be the bloodied perfect lamb that made free will possible.

"And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world. If any man have an ear, let him hear." Revelation 13:8-9 KJV

Here it speaks of a book. The book of Revelation came through John but was inspired by God (2 Tim 3:16) but it speaks of a much older book where names are written. That book is older than the world itself and even it's title speaks of the finished work.

In God's mind Jesus died before the World was made. It was not an afterthought or some sort of last resort emergency plan. God was planning all along to forgive mankind.

Friday, November 15, 2013

A Strengthening Of Strength

A 'graced out' life is a powerful life. It is effective.

"Thy God hath commanded thy strength: strengthen, O God, that which thou hast wrought for us."  Psalms 68:28 KJV

The two words for strength here are back to back Oz (Strong's H5797) Azaz (H5810). The order of the words goes like this.

'Command' 'God' 'Strong' 'Strengthen' 'God' 'What You Have Done'

It is a prayer that what has been done would be strengthen or 'made firmer'. That the finished work promises would be established in the world and in people.

Take a look at this verse.

"I thank my God always when I remember you in my prayers, because I hear of your love and of the faith that you have toward the Lord Jesus and for all the saints, and I pray that the sharing of your faith may become effective for the full knowledge of every good thing that is in us for the sake of Christ. For I have derived much joy and comfort from your love, my brother, because the hearts of the saints have been refreshed through you." Philemon 1:4-7 ESV

The sharing of faith becomes 'effective' when it acknowledges that the good works are Christ's good works stemming from the finished work. Edification is a strengthening of strength in what has been accomplished. Grace commands a blessing because of what God has wrought in Christ.

That is effective ministry in a nut shell. All the tools we use in evangelism are used to this end... that people might be refreshed by a refreshing life that acknowledges Christ's goodness and sufficiency.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

A Gracious Jealous God

American culture today teaches us that jealousy is an immature and selfish emotion. Man's jealousy is a cruel and consuming thing... an unhealthy attachment... self preservation extending itself outside the mind and into the world.

But, God is jealous also. There are two Strong's references to jealousy in the Hebrew scriptures. Qanna (H7067) a word that is only supposed to reference God's jealousy and Qana (H7065) a word that means 'red faced' and references everyone else's jealousy. The funny thing is that they are both the same word with the same consonants but with slightly vowel markers. The word for God's jealousy has something a little more 'added to it'. Just in case you aren't familiar with Hebrew. The vowel markers were added later by translators. The consonants are what has survived millennia of time.

Jealousy is so ugly that the translators just could not bring themselves to ascribe the same word to God as they do to man. Yet God describes himself as jealousy several times.

"So these nations feared the LORD and also served their carved images. Their children did likewise, and their children’s children - as their fathers did, so they do to this day." 2 Kings 17:41 ESV

"I will stretch out my hand against Judah and against all the inhabitants of Jerusalem; and I will cut off from this place the remnant of Baal and the name of the idolatrous priests along with the priests, those who bow down on the roofs to the host of the heavens, those who bow down and swear to the LORD and yet swear by Milcom" Zephaniah 1:4-5 ESV

Our God is the God of all grace. Yet, Things like compromise, double mindedness and casual commitment produce a strong reaction in Him. I like this group of verses. They are placed in the context of sexual immorality in the book of 1 Corinthians.

"But he who is joined to the Lord becomes one spirit with him... Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body." 1 Corinthians 6:17, 19-20 ESV

Sin is paid for and God has formed a union with each believer that is unbreakable. Still communion is a choice an act of will. A kind of surrender.

Grace removes any game playing with God. It is a full Yes and Amen expressed to us from Heaven. The only correct response is Yes and Amen in return. Grace does not hinder our freedom it provides freedom to live in fullness.

When we are far from God He is jealousy for us and waiting to be gracious again. Jesus' blood has brought us close to God let's linger staying close to Him today. We are prone to wander.

I don't want to think or do things to provoke God's jealousy today. I don't want to be far away so that He longs after me. I want to be close by in communion with Him. I can't do that by my own power it is a response to God's grace that makes that happen.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Always Praying

"Men ought always to pray, and not to faint" Luke 18:1b

Faint here is Ekkakeo (Strong's G1573) and it means to opt out of bad or fallen things. Not evil things but results of man's fallen nature.

Some could see prayer as a way of opting out... instead of acting in an overt way we pray instead.

But, God prescribes prayer in action and in seeming inaction. It is not meant to be a substitute for action. It is the undergirding of all action. Praying engages our will and entreats God's will and participation. The praying person is listening to God and speaking to God. The issue at hand is not being swept under the table. Prayer brings people and circumstances into the light of divine reality. It offers up our perception and surrenders it to God's and His knowledge of the circumstance. It is an act of will and devotion.

Have you ever prayed amiss? You got the name wrong of just plain misread the circumstance? Have you prayed for problems that have long since been resolved but you had no information to stop your prayers? I have. Even in our misinformation there is engagement and faith and God is pleased by our faith.

This same word, Ekkakeo, is used in several other places.

"For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting. And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we FAINT not." Galatians 6:8-9 KJV

"Nevertheless when it shall turn to the Lord, the vail shall be taken away. Now the Lord is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord. Therefore seeing we have this ministry, as we have received mercy, we FAINT not" 2 Corinthians 3:16-4:1 KJV

"For all things are for your sakes, that the abundant grace might through the thanksgiving of many redound to the glory of God. For which cause we FAINT not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal." 2 Corinthians 4:15-18 KJV

Prayer pits the eternal against the temporal. It brings glory into gloom. It petitions God to bring the freedom won for us by Christ and make it a reality in situation or a person's life.

"For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another." Galatians 5:13 ESV

If we use our liberty to opt out of communion and intercession something else will fill that void. Our soul cleaves to the dust unless they is a higher dynamic at work.

The throne of Grace is just that. A throne of grace. A place where grace reigns. A place free from striving for acceptance. Jesus sits there at God's right hand interceding for us and loving us. He is engaged in our lives and what really matters in the World matters to Him. What a privilege it is to be one with the heart and mind of that throne.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

What Is Right In Front Of Us

This weekend I spoke to a man who became a Christian and is now remarrying his first wife. I think he said they had been separated for 14 years. God used the grandchildren to get them to interact and now they are getting remarried. She sees the change in him and prayed to receive Christ also. It is a beautiful story of redemption.

It made me think that sometimes it takes us a long time to get to the thing that is right in front of us. Things can be close but not accessible for one reason or another.

Israel wandered 40 years in the desert when there was a land promised to them a short distance away.
Perhaps we see this and focus on bridging the gap but gaps like that are not easily bridged by us. All our effort often makes things worse not better. The goal is in sight but not in reach.

This morning I have been reading Ephesians chapter 2 again and again. In that chapter there are many beautiful principles about the church. God takes two people groups and makes them one.

"Therefore remember that at one time you Gentiles in the flesh, called 'the uncircumcision' by what is called the circumcision, which is made in the flesh by hands - remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace" Ephesians 2:11-15 ESV

That little phrase 'he himself is our peace, who has made us both one' is a powerful one.

In earlier verses it is more personal and individual.

"Even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ - by grace you have been saved - and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus" Ephesians 2:5-6 ESV

It makes me think of this verse.

"For thou art great, and doest wondrous things: thou art God alone. Teach me thy way, O LORD; I will walk in thy truth: unite my heart to fear thy name." Psalm 86:10-11 KJV

The gap that needs to bridged on the outside is real but the one the inside is real also. We need to have our heart united... pulled together... joined in oneness.

The long way around on the outside gives God time to work on the inside. A shortcut might not be in anyone's best interest until the gap between the heart and the head is bridged and faith illuminates our soul.

God is with us here and yet we travel in our minds to go boldly to the Throne of Grace. We travel and the journey is a good journey if it brings us to Jesus. He will unite what needs to be made one. He will bridge the gap in His time.

Monday, November 11, 2013

In Christ

The phrase 'In Christ' is used 87 times in the new testament (ESV and NASB versions, 76 times in the KJV).

This morning I have been reading each occurrence of the phrase and the surrounding passages. It is so edifying.

Here are a few snippets of verses: (to find the context you must read the whole verse)
- faith in Christ
- the redemption that is in Christ
- dead to sin and alive to God in Christ
- eternal life in Christ
- free in Christ
- the love of God in Christ
- the truth in Christ
- we, though many, are one body in Christ
- fellow workers in Christ
- approved in Christ
- sanctified in Christ
- the grace of God that was given you in Christ
- you are in Christ
- you have countless guides in Christ... I became your father in Christ
- those also who have fallen asleep in Christ
- in Christ we have hope
- in Christ shall all be made alive
- God who establishes us with you in Christ
- thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession
- in the sight of God we speak in Christ
- if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation
- in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself
- we have been speaking in Christ, and all for your upbuilding, beloved
- freedom that we have in Christ Jesus
- a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, so we also have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ
- in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith
- you are all one in Christ
- Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places
- making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ
- we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory
- so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ
- we are his workmanship, created in Christ
- But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ
- partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel
- this was according to the eternal purpose that he has realized in Christ
- to Him be glory in the church and in Christ
- so that in me you may have ample cause to glory in Christ
- have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ
- glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh
- i press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus
- And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus
- my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus

There is so much more... those are just some snippets up into Philippians.

It is so easy to gloss over this little phrase or see it in some religious framework... like saying amen when we agree or 'in Jesus name' after every prayer but this phrase has deep meaning. It is a secret in a way... that we were placed in Christ when we believed in Christ... that is where God sees us and can only see us that way... also... somewhere in Him is all we ever wanted or hoped for... Peace is found in Him. Purpose is found in Him. All the missing puzzle pieces... the place to stand where the light is just right and where the big picture and single circumstance can be clearly surveyed is in Him. Standing and looking from anywhere else will only give a partial, obstructed or distorted view of life and circumstances.

Faith 'In Christ' is our first trembling step into a new life. He becomes our new address and identity.
In Him time becomes territory to be taken. Today is territory to be taken.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

The First Day Of The Week

It was on a Sunday long ago much like this one that my life began. To me Sunday will always be the first day of the week.

Life came back into Jesus' body on a Sunday. He folded His grave clothes neatly and began His day on a Sunday. The work was finished yet here was a new day to live in. Mary would be looking for Him. The disciples huddled afraid in the room they had supper in just a few nights before. There was much to do even though it was finished.

I wonder if He held unto the secret for a moment and relished the knowledge of it. Did He say, 'I'm alive' looking at His hands and seeing the scars. No other humans knew it yet... just angels. Or did He get right on with His life that had no beginning and no end. Either way people would begin to know that first Sunday.

His life is my life now. Today is not the end. It is the beginning.

He is alive and now because of that I am alive. Who can I tell this week?  

Washed In Newness

Getting into my Bible (or devotional that points me toward my Bible) soon after waking up is like a spiritual shower for me. I am not at full strength yet so it seems there is more of a spiritual suggestibility. In my still not fully awake state I am aware of my need for quickening.

My thought are like pear tree with pears on the ground and some in the branches. There was a tree like that at our recent retreat. The pears were just falling off that tree. The ones that came right off the tree were good to eat. The ones already on the ground were left there to go through the death, burial and resurrection cycle.

We took the old ones from the ground and threw them at the tree to shake the branch a little and get some fresh ones to fall.

My thinking must be washed. Old thoughts are left on the ground to go through the cross. Let the water wash them and me away. Then a new fruit that is eaten must be freshly picked from the tree.

Morning is a good time for that to happen. I haven't eaten from the old yet. I'm not so strong in my resistance yet. I can be washed in newness.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Looking for Love

I was thinking as I was driving home last night how refreshing it is be around people who have been touched by God's grace and have responded to Him. 

It is a complex contradiction in life when people who clearly have responded to God's love don't seem to love you or act in loving ways towards you. On the other hand people who seem oblivious to God can be very kind and attentive.

"And if it is evil in your eyes to serve the LORD, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your fathers served in the region beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD." Joshua 24:15 ESV

We often quote the last part of this verse. Joshua has a strength of conviction that we admire. The first part of the verse reveals his lack of sentimentality. He is not going to coddle people. He has a single eyed focus. We see no indications in scripture (at least I don't) that Joshua was a warm and fuzzy person. You could however trust him. His allegiances were clear cut.

Every one needs to be loved. The hardest heart has that need. People may or may not love us but God loves us. God is love.

"For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him." John 3:16-17 ESV

God's whole plan of salvation is sourced in and bathed in love.

"But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ - by grace you have been saved - and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast." Ephesians 2:4-9 ESV

Jesus is trustworthy. His love is trustworthy. You have no reason to doubt someone who died in your place. You do have reason to doubt those who claim they would but not some one who actually did.
The grace message has made me a kinder person... but loving behavior can't be my standard of measure of a person or their walk with God.

I have learned to value words from someone responding to grace very highly. I still may not agree with everything they say but I know I can trust the source.

The God of all Grace still finds ways to love us. If we look for love there we will always find it.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Unity, Liberty and Charity

'In essentials, unity. In non-essentials, liberty. In all things, charity.' attributed to Augustine

I like this quote. It sums up a few weighty principles in just a few words.

There are things we promote... they are essentials... salvation, The Bible, Christocentric theology, prayer, missions, the great commission, communion, etc... we do them and we invite others to do them without compromise... grace is our frame of reference and it is not a demand but we will not stop doing these things or believing the way we believe.

"Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ:" Ephesians 4:13 KJV

'The Faith' has a definite article and is speaking about a body of beliefs that clearly reveal Christ.
The list of non-essentials is long... who sits where, where the church meets, how often, how often do we have communion, the order of end time events, healing, titles, music... the list goes on and on. People are free. God gave that freedom and we don't force people to conform nor do we necessarily conform to them other than for the sake of evangelism and in God's leading in a culture... grace promotes freedom while promoting unity. The unity gives the freedom.

Lastly there is Love... God commands love knowing full well we can't do it... It is Jesus' challenge to Peter and His provision. Jesus loves and if we receive grace we love also. Mandating loving policy however is needed in Church government and love should we interwoven in all we do as a Church... we slowly begin to see that is also true in our own lives.

Love is not a requirement of salvation. That is by grace through faith... period end of story. God is the one who loved. Salvation involves His love on display not ours.

"A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another." John 13:34 KJV

"But as touching brotherly love ye need not that I write unto you: for ye yourselves are taught of God to love one another." 1 Thessalonians 4:9 KJV

"Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently:" 1 Peter 1:22 KJV

"And now I beseech thee, lady, not as though I wrote a new commandment unto thee, but that which we had from the beginning, that we love one another." 2 John 1:5 KJV

"Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God." 1 John 4:7 KJV

Love is a choice. Jesus commands it but the apostles are beseeching people to love and have policies of love.

Preplanned love is beautiful thing. Setting aside money for causes. Thinking of ways to bless people and then executing a plan to carry those blessings out. Having a loving strategy to deal with difficult people or situations. Loving our enemies. There are times that unless we preplan to turn the other cheek in situations we won't do it. Strategic love.

Do we have to be saved to love people? No. I know some very loving atheists and agnostics. They are very generous and kind.

Do we have to love to be saved? No. Some may disagree. I don't know the thief on the cross who accepted Christ had time to love anyone. As I said... salvation is of God and involves faith and not our ability to love.

After we are saved can we love? Yes. Yes. Yes! Unity and freedom create the perfect atmosphere to love in. I want the policies I make to be bathed in love... pure, true, unsentimental love.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Given Fully

Spurgeon's evening devotional was touching today. He spoke about the precious nature of Christ's sacrifice. It made me think about the concept of a last will and testament. Here is a great group of verses:

"But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things that have come, then through the greater and more perfect tent (not made with hands, that is, not of this creation) he entered once for all into the holy places, not by means of the blood of goats and calves but by means of his own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption. For if the blood of goats and bulls, and the sprinkling of defiled persons with the ashes of a heifer, sanctify for the purification of the flesh, how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify our conscience from dead works to serve the living God. Therefore he is the mediator of a new covenant, so that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance, since a death has occurred that redeems them from the transgressions committed under the first covenant. For where a will is involved, the death of the one who made it must be established. For a will takes effect only at death, since it is not in force as long as the one who made it is alive." Hebrews 9:11-17 ESV

Death isn't something we like to think about. Theory is one thing but reality is another. Someone making a will is thinking ahead about loved ones. They want to reach beyond the grave and give to people or causes what they have acquired in life. It is a declaration that is meant to survive death... a last statement or commentary on what their priorities were and what direction their thoughts and decisions were pointed in.

Some things can't be communicated or passed on until after death. On one hand it is a sad thing. On the other it is a beautiful practical thing. If objects, cars, houses, monies, etc... were passed on before death there would be a sense of shared ownership. After death the inheritance fully belongs to the one specified in the will.

Jesus healed people. Many people. He speaks in Luke 8:46 of virtue 'leaving' or 'going out of Him'. The Greek word is Exerchomai (Strong's G1831) and it is the same word used when Jesus cast the legion demons out of a man in Luke 8:46. Virtue left Christ and they were healed and even brought back to life but there were some things that needed more than that. It could not be partial in any way.
Christ needed to die in order to give us a full inheritance. He needed to die and leave the planet so the Spirit that He was given without measure could be given to us.

In a sense... His death made it a full grace transfer. It is not a partial gift... it is a full transfer of assets. We own Christ's life. We possess Christ's righteousness. It is ours because it is given to us. It was not something we could own while He was alive. He owned it in life now it is given to us.

Resurrection has broken the boundary of death. Now the same inheritance can be given to many.

"I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers, that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places" Ephesians 1:16-20 ESV

It is a solemn weighty thing to receive a gift like that. I want to treasure what I have been given and plant it like seed everywhere I go so others can have it also.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Beyond Bargaining

"Then said they unto him, What shall we do, that we might work the works of God? Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent.
They said therefore unto him, What sign shewest thou then, that we may see, and believe thee? what dost thou work? Our fathers did eat manna in the desert; as it is written, He gave them bread from heaven to eat." John 6:28-31

It's funny really... they saw Jesus as a politician.

In a way they said, 'If you want to gain our trust just give us what we want. That manna thing looked like a good deal for our fathers if you do that for us like God did it for them you will have our vote just like Moses has our vote.'

"Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Moses gave you not that bread from heaven; but my Father giveth you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is he which cometh down from heaven, and giveth life unto the world.

Then said they unto him, Lord, evermore give us this bread." John 6:32-34

They want to use their 'three wishes' to ask for a never ending food supply. After all Jesus was healing people left and right... why not jump on the gravy train while it is still in town.

"And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst.

But I said unto you, That ye also have seen me, and believe not.

All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out. For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me. And this is the Father's will which hath sent me, that of all which he hath given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day. And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day." John 6:35-40

Jesus goes on to say this.

"Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me hath everlasting life.

I am that bread of life.

Your fathers did eat manna in the wilderness, and are dead. This is the bread which cometh down from heaven, that a man may eat thereof, and not die. I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.

The Jews therefore strove among themselves, saying, How can this man give us his flesh to eat?
Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you. Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, dwelleth in me, and I in him. As the living Father hath sent me, and I live by the Father: so he that eateth me, even he shall live by me." John 6:47

These are not political statements. This is grace in action. This is communion. It is beyond bargaining. It is the purity of a sacrificial life that is shared for whoever wants to have it.

It breaks me to think of what Jesus has done and what He offers us on a moment by moment basis. Sometimes in my struggle I just want a never ending provision so I won't have to go scrounge up money to meet my needs. Those thing keep me alive but Jesus is Life itself.

The real gift is life. God's life. If we have that we can walk by faith and everything else falls into place.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Five Principles In Ten Commandments

During a study on marking I started to explore the ten commandments. These commands can't produce life in anyone but they sure expose what a man isn't and what happens in a person who lives incomplete under the law.

The first five commands are mirrored in the second five. Habitual way of thinking or a mindset culminates in action if a person goes down that path. Let's look at them in five separate sets. (These commands are taken from Exodus 20:13-17 ESV)

And God spoke all these words, saying, I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. You shall have no other gods before me.

You shall not murder.

If you look at these two the connection is clear. Ignoring, denying or replacing God is one way of removing Him from your thinking. Killing someone removes them from your life. A murderer first dehumanizes his victim in his mind then at some point says, 'My life would be better without this person.' or 'I can not exist if they exist.' Murder is hate brought to it's final conclusion. It starts from a lack of love. The atheist and the killer lie to themselves because neither God or this person is truly removed. People don't have that power.

You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the LORD your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing steadfast love to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments.

You shall not commit adultery.

Idolatry and adultery are the clearest of the parallels. Scripture makes this connection often.

"For long ago I broke your yoke and burst your bonds; but you said, 'I will not serve.' Yes, on every high hill and under every green tree you bowed down like a whore." Jeremiah 2:20 ESV

Idols were often set up in high places under trees.

This is a search for sanctification apart from God and true commitment. It fails... the nature that is separated from God is never satisfied.

You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain, for the LORD will not hold him guiltless who takes his name in vain.

You shall not steal. (The word can also be translated kidnap)

This is an interesting one. It has to do with perception of value. Does God's name have value? Is His nature hidden or revealed? There is something about tossing God's name around in a casual way that acts as a theft from God. The ultimate theft, besides murder, would be to take a child or person away and claim them as your own. All theft is a trespass of some kind but the violation in theft leaves one party lacking and the other one with something that should not belong to them.

Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.

You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.

Rest. There is so much to say about faith rest. Israel rested because God rested after creation. We rest because Christ sits down on the right hand of the Father in Heaven. Our work is at it's heart a false witness. We lie about who God is and what He has done when we lack rest. Anxiety is a lie the atmosphere projects against the finished work.

Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land that the LORD your God is giving you.

You shall not covet your neighbor's house; you shall not covet your neighbor's wife, or his male servant, or his female servant, or his ox, or his donkey, or anything that is your neighbor's.

This one was a difficult one for me to digest. Notice the long list of what might be possible to covet. Relationships, authority and possessions are listed and then 'anything' is tacked onto the end of it.

What is it about an incomplete person that wants to have things in a nagging way? Is it the things themselves or is it something deeper? This suggests a deeper principle is involved. It goes down into our core identity. We sense we are lacking as people and it is a void that demands to be filled... somehow. We want to be someone else. A person with no void.

Often mother and father get the blame for who we are or conversely if we dishonor our parents later when we discovery how much we are naturally like them we begin to hate ourselves. They are linked.

Now that we have gotten our shoes good and dirty surveying That natural landscape let's have them cleaned off again with spiritual water.

"For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ." John 1:17 KJV

"But that is not the way you learned Christ! - assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus, to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness." Ephesians 4:20-24 ESV

"But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth. Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator." Colossians 3:8-10 ESV

The Law exposes the old human nature but grace reveals the new nature.

The new man does not ignore God. The love of God is shed abroad in the heart of a new person. Christ becomes the only true image of God and all other false images are discarded as impostors. God character (name) becomes weightier and weightier we don't throw it around lightly or make false claims that bring glory to ourselves. The new man can rest. Not just cease from labor for a day but truly rest every day and every night. Things try to disturb rest but there is way back into it. A believer who rests in a storm gives a true testimony about who God is in the court room of life. Lastly we have honor. Not the honor of outward expression but the honor of intimate thinking. Honor for parents is beautiful to behold. Honor for God as our Father is the root of all satisfaction.

Grace is what makes this possible. The old person can cast a shadow over the new one but grace causes an eclipse where the old nature is hidden and the new one is revealed. The outline of a natural body still shows but the new hidden man of the heart is revealed in a person's thinking and the love they show.

"For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: You shall love your neighbor as yourself." Galatians 5:14 ESV

"Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law." Romans 13:8 ESV

"But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires." Romans 13:14 ESV

Yes! Putting on Jesus Christ a light shines into the world. One that is filled with people trapped in cycles they can not understand and gives them a person to speak to that has found the way home.

Jesus is the doorway to a new life.