This Christian walk is a race like Paul says: 1 Corinthians 9:4 –
Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it.
[ The Race of Faith ] Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.
We all know that Olympics are going on just about now. Sometimes during the Olympics they run hurdles, as they do at other track events.
I wasn’t very good at hurdles, but they can definitely be a part of life that we need to overcome. We as Christians are supposed to be overcomers.
I don’t know how many of you have actually ran with hurdles, but it takes the strategic balance of running fast and the coordination of lifting up your knees over the hurdles. After you have passed the challenge of running a regular 25 yard or 50 yard dash, then the next thing that they might put you on is hurdles.
James 1 says:
2 My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, 3 knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. 4 But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.
12 Blessed is the man who endures temptation; for when he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him. 13 Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone. 14 But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. 15 Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death.
We are running the marathon race of life in which there are many hurdles. Many people running a marathon get weak during the final stretch, and precious saints we are in the final stretch before the Lord Jesus comes to judge the righteous and bestow punishment upon the wicked who revel in their sin. Those that hold on to their faith despite whatever challenges come their way, will receive the crown of life. What a blessed reward to receive from the Lord, and that we all cast down at His feet when our race is through. Sometimes hurdles are just hurdles, and sometimes hurdles are much more than hurdles and may actually feel like a wall that you have to crawl over. But Praise Jesus He has the dunamis which is where we get the word “dynamite” power to go break down that wall that is keeping you from pursuing Him, and going after Him.
At this time I want to encourage those that don’t know the Lord, that may be involved in sins such as adultery, fornication, witchcraft, idolatry, or anything else that you know in your heart of hearts is not right, but you do not want to give it up because it has overaken you, God is a just and merciful God who is slow to anger, and quick to forgive for those who come to Him and turn to Him, but you must take this take this seriously, and not just hit the “like” button on the post.
I know I am a sinner, I know how flawed and imperfect I am and that I fall short of Your perfection and holiness because I know You are the light of this world, and if I cannot stand to be in the presence of the sun, then how can I stand to be in the Presence of You who are brighter then the sun? I thank You for Your Precious Son Jesus Christ, who died on the cross for my sins and washed me with His precious blood and cleansed me with His righteousness and He His holiness and His grace which overlooks all my sin and gives me a brand new start. I ask You to do the life changing work in my life and give me a brand new start and I choose to leave behind all forms of wickedness behind and choose to take up Your life and Your Cross in my life.
In Jesus Mighty Name I pray,
In Middle School we watched the movie of the Civil War in the United States, which was called Glory. It took place during the Civil War, and showed, if I remember correctly the Northern point of view, as opposed to the Southern point of view, which Gone With the Wind seems to portray. When I was watching this movie I was asked to define what the word “glory” actually meant. I had difficulty coming up with an answer. While the definition has many terms in implication in the Jewish root, and basically identifying God’s glory as the glory of the Presence of the Son – I want to take you through a journey as the Holy Spirit compels me and enables me to do so on the aspect of Glory, Freedom, and the Ultimate Battle, and the parallels between the Bible and the Civil War.
In the Bible – particularly in the Old Testament, the Israelites cried about their slavery and God heard them –
23 However, after a long time [nearly forty years] the king of Egypt died; and the Israelites were sighing and groaning because of the bondage. They kept crying, and their cry because of slavery ascended to God.
24 And God heard their sighing and groaning and [earnestly] remembered His covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob. – Exodus 2:23-24
It took them a long time of trials and trusting in God to get to their Promised Land, but yet they still didn’t have freedom.
When the African slaves were taken captive in American History, they cried and sang out and they had great heroes of faith like Harriet Tubman and they sang songs of Moses in the times of their slavery. The Battle of the North and the South was particularly a battle of ideas, the idea that people should be enslaved to make riches for the higher class verses the idea that each individual has a right to be acknowledged to an individual and has the right to Freedom. They fought out this war with a bloody fight and it was the bloodiest fight with Abraham Lincoln leading the way seeking God through this time, and he was President. I had to do a study on Abraham Lincoln, and I heard he suffered from depression, or maybe that was his wife, I don’t remember, but the point being that he was a man who sought God to deliver the African people freedom from slavery in the Declaration of Emancipation.
So that was the ultimate battle and that is one many Christians still face today because Christ has purchased our freedom, but through the limits of this life we are still bound, and we need to be rescued. The beautiful thing is that Christ rescues us over and over and over again, constantly redeeming us and bringing His purpose to pass through our lives even though we may not see it. We still have this battle of ideas of slavery and bondage to the Law, and the Freedom that is inherited by Grace.
God not only brought the Israelites out of bondage of slavery from the Egyptians, but He also brought them out of bondage to the Babylonians, and Assyrians and many times over and over again. They waited several years for total freedom which was going to only come through the Messiah, and when Jesus came, they thought he was going to physically free them from Roman captivity, but instead He freed them from the bondage of the Law. He became a curse so they wouldn’t have to be bound any longer anymore and when Cleopas and his companion came across Him, they were mourning, and He had not revealed Himself to them, and He was actually pretending like He didn’t know what they were thinking. They were expecting some great physical delivery or political delivery and freedom, but they didn’t realize how much power the freedom that they did have.
18 Then the one whose name was Cleopas answered and said to Him, “Are You the only stranger in Jerusalem, and have You not known the things which happened there in these days?”
19 And He said to them, “What things?”
So they said to Him, “The things concerning Jesus of Nazareth, who was a Prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, 20 and how the chief priests and our rulers delivered Him to be condemned to death, and crucified Him. 21 But we were hoping that it was He who was going to redeem Israel. Indeed, besides all this, today is the third day since these things happened. 22 Yes, and certain women of our company, who arrived at the tomb early, astonished us. 23 When they did not find His body, they came saying that they had also seen a vision of angels who said He was alive. 24 And certain of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said; but Him they did not see.”
25 Then He said to them, “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken! 26 Ought not the Christ to have suffered these things and to enter into His glory?” 27 And beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, He expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself.
So this glory encapsulates the freedom that He gives. The freedom from the bondage of sin and death is what this freedom offers to mankind. But people can go and take advantage of the freedom, and that’s where the issue comes up. People can get so carried away with freedom, that they begin to live their licentious lives over again. Look what’s happening right now in America. The rights that were once considered valuable are now being trampled upon and the rights that are of no value to a human being are exalted and proclaimed over to the point where the rights of the people that instill values that reduce crime, and violence, are now being minimized. So then freedom has bounds. Bounds were set for protection, but not to bind if that makes sense.
Interestingly enough the word “boundary” comes from the word meaning “mark, or delimit” which brings up a very interesting conversation topic, the there is the Mark of God, and the Mark of the enemy. So how does a believer know which mark is which? When referring to the mark of the enemy, where one cannot buy or sell without the mark, it seems like it is delimiting and putting more and more control. Whereas the Mark of God, freely grants you the right to ask from God whatever you desire, knowing that you have believed in Him, and have received. We must remember that one of the fruit of the Spirit is gentleness and in that gentleness, Jesus is so gentle with you as to not force you into any direction, but as a loving shepherd He guides you by the still waters, but even the sheep have to go into the sheep gate so they don’t get attacked by wolves.
Getting back to the Civil War, which was anything but civil, we come again to the cost of freedom. If you want to check out my previous post on Freedom, check out my blog on Freedom posted July 4, 2011. Freedom means that someone has to die. In the Christian walk, it means that Jesus has died for us. He has set us free, and we are no longer captives. We operate in a different kingdom, which is the Kingdom of Love and in that we find the freedom. We find the Freedom to be able to love to the max, but through our own flaws and imperfections we fail to see what demand this love requires. This love requires pain, emotionally, and sometimes even physically, but in the end it is Christ who frees us from the law of sin and death, and that is where the Ultimate Battle is won – on the Cross. So ask yourselves where in our lives have taken up the Cross?
A lot of people look at repentance as a bad thing, and of course it is better not to have to repent, but because we are all fallen we need to be able to go to God and say, “Daddy, I know I was wrong, will you please forgive me? Help me not to do it again.” When Adam and Eve were in the Garden and they sinned, they hid from the Presence of God.
Genesis 3:8 – 8 They heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in the [c]cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden. 9Then the LORD God called to the man, and said to him, “Where are you?” 10 He said, “I heard the sound of You in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid myself.” Now don’t go running around naked please.
But the wonderful thing now through the Precious Blood of Jesus, is that we can run to Him and say, “I know I was wrong, please forgive me.” God is merciful and just to forgive.
One time I was at a prayer meeting and I had a heaviness because I felt guilty about something and I couldn’t experience the release of the Presence of God, but through the unction of the Holy Spirit led by the worship leader, who repented on behalf of the Church, there was a tremendous release from all the burdens. It was coming again to the point of the Cross and saying, “Lord, I surrender, I surrender all my burdens, griefs, pains, and sorrows, down at your feet. You take them away.”
In the Tabernacle example there is a model – there is the Outer Court, Inner Court, and the Holy of Holies.
When you are in the Outer court, which is the first part after the gate to the worship, you have the bronze altar. Before that is that the gate and that’s where you enter. You enter with praise and thanksgiving. Then the second stage is the Cleansing or self examining at the bronze altar. I am not going to go in to the details of the tabernacle just yet, but maybe in the future post I will share.
When we sin, God doesn’t want us to run away from Him, but to run to Him, but somehow because we have been believing lies, the devil tries to make us believe that God won’t accept us or love us if we do sin. That doesn’t mean that we keep on sinning.
Romans 9:16 says – 16 It does not, therefore, depend on human desire or effort, but on God’s mercy.
That brings me to my second point –
1) Liberation in the Word of God
Even though there is liberation in repentance, or turning your heart towards God, and away from the sin, there is even more liberation in knowing that the Word of God has all the answers for the troubles you are facing. I once listened to a sermon called, “The only way out is the Word of God”, and the person said the Word of God brings in the Presence of God as well. It is better to be obedient to God and not have to repent, because Romans 3:6 says that the wrath of God is coming on those who are disobedient. But in context it is talking about Christians who are earthly minded –
1 Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. 3 For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. 4 When Christ, who is your[a] life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.
5 Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. 6 Because of these, the wrath of God is coming.[b] 7 You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived. 8 But now you must also rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. 9 Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices 10 and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator. 11 Here there is no Gentile or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all.
One thing that God hates the most is idolatry – putting something whether that be a molded image, like the hindus and buddhists use, or anything that keeps us from the presence of God, and the people that participate in idolatry, will be stored up for God’s wrath because in idolatry it leads to many sins. God is a Jealous God because He wants us to love Him completely and not lift up anything before Him including ourselves.
Ephesians 5:1-13 says –
3 But immorality [c]or any impurity or greed must not even be named among you, as is proper among[d]saints; 4 and there must be no filthiness and silly talk, or coarse jesting, which are not fitting, but rather giving of thanks. 5 For this you know with certainty, that no [e]immoral or impure person or covetous man, who is an idolater, has an inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God.
6 Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. 7 Therefore do not be partakers with them; 8 for you were formerly darkness, but now you are Light in the Lord; walk as children of Light 9 (for the fruit of the Light consists in all goodness and righteousness and truth), 10 [f]trying to learn what is pleasing to the Lord. 11 Do not participate in the unfruitful deeds of darkness, but instead even [g]expose them; 12 for it is disgraceful even to speak of the things which are done by them in secret. 13 But all things become visible when they are [h]exposed by the light, for everything that becomes visible is light.
What is the opposite of empty words(words that are void of truth): The Living Word, which is the Word of God, and He gives you the Grace to reveal the Word to you in that time of need. That is if you set apart time to study and to pursue His presence or to dedicate your life to Him. Lately I have been finding that I just open the Bible and God leads me to a verse that immediately applies to my situation and sometimes gives me a rebuke, or something I need to repent for, or gives me a sense of encouragement knowing that He has equipped me for whatever battle I need to face. Part of the armor of God is the loin belt of Truth – without the loin belt of Truth you cannot have intimacy with God, because it protects your intimate organs from being attacked. That is to be used in the Soldier analogy. I think there is more teaching on the Armor of God on one of my posts. I know some of us are busy with work and don’t have the time to really get in the Word of God so much, and I know I have said it does not need to be out of obligation, but God has a remarkable way of rescuing you with His Word, and sometimes it is as much as flipping a page and then find just what you need. I was told once not to play Bible roulette, where you just open up the Bible, and the first verse that pops out at you, apply it to yourself. But the amazing thing is that the Word of God has so much power because it can become a rhema or revelation and not just a letter or logos even if you just open the one page. Discipline in studying the Bible is important characteristic trait to develop, not because of obligation but because of getting to know Jesus more and more. So studying the Bible can bring revelation and that revelation can bring liberation. After all isn’t life all about revelation knowledge of Jesus and who He is? Whether you get it by youtube songs, or by a worship service, or by the Word of God- the whole point is to get to the presence of Jesus.
So what is the Presence of God –
The Holy Spirit can hover upon, rest upon, and reside within a believer. When a believer is born again the Holy Spirit resides within the person. When God created the Heavens and the earth, the Spirit of God hovered upon the waters – Gen. 1:2- The Spirit of God can rest upon a believer where the person can actually experience a sense of “abiding under the shadow of the Almighty” – that is the resting upon. In Luke it says that the Holy Spirit will overshadow her. When you are dwelling in the Presence of Almighty, that is when the Holy Spirit is resting upon you.
The key thing about Christianity is that it is not a religion filled with rituals that you must do this and you must do that. It is about a journey full of mountains and valleys, and there are lessons to be learned, tests to take, and relationships to build with God and with other people. Sometimes the devil comes in tries to beat you up and make you feel like you are condemned, but you don’t have to listen to it. The more we feel condemned it means that God has not completed the restoration of our souls and He is waiting for you to come to Him. He is reaching out to you to turn to Him, to change your mind against idolatry and disobedience, to take up your cross, or whatever is keeping you to fully worship and enjoy Him. When we work, we can still keep Him in our thoughts – if we work in retail, we can think, “How can I be a light today?”, if we work for an electric company, we can focus on “the Light of this world”, if we work for an insurance company, we can focus on, “What is the best insurance policy?”; if we work with manufacturing, we can focus on “God created the heavens and the earth.”, if we work with computer programming, we can focus on, “God gave a marvelous code of instructions on how this world should work”, if we work with filing, we can focus on, “How wonderfully organized God is”, if we work in media we can thank God for how the media has been used to share the Gospel, etc.
Jesus said, “my yoke is easy and my burden is light” so the more we focus on the Cross of Christ, the easier it will be for Jesus to lay down the burdens that so easily ensnare us and to break all the chains.
Here is a prayer for protection for inviting the presence of God into your life,
Thank You for revealing to me more about Yourself everyday in the way You see fit. Thank You for taking complete and total charge over my life and having the mercy upon me that despite the times I disobey in little things, you are always quick to forgive. Thank you for being the loving arms that hold me and embrace me when times are hard or difficult. Thank You for letting me know that You are always there for me. Please remove from my life any area where I am displeasing to you, or anything that gets in the way of sharing our love together. Thank You for the abundant mercy, grace, and love You have showered over my life. Thank You for picking up the pieces. Thank You for giving me the strength to get through anything. You are precious to me, and I love you.
In Jesus Name I pray,
In the same Spirit, I pray for the people in America who have been devestated by tornadoes. Please help the victims recover from their damages, and I repent on behalf of the nation for anything that they are doing to displease You LORD God, for You are holy and righteous, and you cannot tolerate sin, please show them Your mercy, and Your love so that they can see that You are not a God of anger, but a God of mercy and that You are willing to forgive America for anyway that it has missed the mark or caused an abomination or a lie. You rule over the nations in the world and anyone that needs Your help right now, please protect them and put Your hedges of protection around them, and I apply the Blood of Jesus over this nation. Let us all come back to the Cross of Surrender,
In Jesus Mighty Name I pray,