Posts Tagged ‘Jerusalem’

Clothed in Glory

It’s interesting to me that all of the creatures God made had coverings… except man. Animals had fur, birds had feathers and fish had scales or shells. But man did not have any outer covering, as he didn’t need it before the fall. Why? Because God clothed man in His Glory.

“You made him (man) a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned him (or clothed him) with glory and honor.” (Ps 8:5)

God’s Original Intent:

The atmosphere of the Garden of Eden was permeated with the same splendor as heaven. There was no sin in the beginning and man walked with God everyday in a peace filled relationship in the “cool of the day”. This means they walked together in a spiritual dimension where they shared a oneness that was maintained by God’s Glory (a covering) and God’s Honor (atmosphere).

The Garden of Eden was Heaven on Earth:

The original Hebrew word for “crowned” means “to encircle”, “to surround’. In other words, Adam and his wife were surrounded by God’s Glory and Honor. They had been clothed with the Glory of God and didn’t need natural clothing and they were living in an atmosphere of perfect relationship and did not need natural knowledge. God was giving man a wonderful environment to rule, where God would truly be their provision and protection if this stewardship could be maintained.

Losing the Glory:

However, once they had been deceived by the serpent and sinned, they were no longer able to focus on spiritual reality as the Glory that once clothed them, seemed to lift. They found themselves naked. Notice that they immediately respond to their new condition by becoming afraid. They made coverings for themselves and hid from God. This is an interesting response since Adam and his wife felt no shame of being naked before they sinned (Gen 2:25).

“Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves.” (Gen 3:7)

Why would they even consider making coverings for themselves? Weren’t they the only human beings in the Garden of Eden? Weren’t they surrounded by only animals, birds and fish?

Hearing God’s Voice:

The reason is given when Adam is answering God’s call “He answered, I heard You in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid” (Gen 3:10). Adam and Eve were afraid, because they were naked before God. I understand being ashamed, but why would they be afraid? They were afraid, because they were naked and had lost their original God given Glory. Now they found themselves controlled by a deception, a satanic lie that they needed natural covering and natural knowledge to sustain their lives. This came as a fulfillment to what God said to them earlier, “…you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die” (Gen 2:17). The moment they were no longer in God’s Glory, they died spiritually and inner peace was replaced with fear.

Spiritual Death:

We are able to see a powerful expression of God’s Fathering love in the moments following the broken relationship. God, seemingly unaware of man’s location, calls out to man and asks him of his connection to the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. God says, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten of the tree I commanded you that you should not eat?” (Gen 3:11)

Spiritual Life:

Then God makes the first sacrifice, in order to clothe them properly.  ”The LORD God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife and clothed them” (Gen 3:21). God would spill the blood of a lamb; one of His created beings, to provide a garment suitable to cover human shame. This would serve as humanity’s first revelation that spiritual life is in the Blood.

The Apostle Paul said it this way, “for all have sinned and fallen short of the Glory of God” (Rom 3:23)

Our spiritual death has its connection to sin by the loss of our covering (God’s Glory) and our relationship (God’s Honor) based on His Presence (Holy Spirit atmosphere). Yet the Apostle Paul goes on to tell us of the reality of God’s grace… God’s favorable actions toward us who trust in Christ Jesus. He  tells us that God has restored access to His Glory and Honor in the free gift of salvation. Access to all that was lost could be restored through the Blood of Jesus. 

“We have been freely justified through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus” (Rom 3:24).

The Gospel of Restored Glory:

This good news cannot be overstated, because it is not accomplished by anything man can do (Rom 3:20)(2 Cor 5:21). God proved His love by sending Jesus to die for us, in our place and for the spiritual relationship to be restored that once was established in the Garden of Eden. The Bible says that when anyone turns to God in faith, a veil is lifted from their hearts and they are enabled to behold the Glory of God in the very face of Jesus Christ (2 Cor 3:16-4:6). As believers who continue to look into that Glory a transformation takes place, whereby we are being changed into the same image (God’s original intent) from glory to glory by the Spirit of the Lord (2 Cor 3:18).

Jesus Said – Be Clothed In Glory: Power from On High!

“And behold, I am sending forth the promise of My Father upon you; but you are to stay in the city (Jerusalem) until you are clothed with power from on high.” (Lk 24:49)

Real Witness

“But as for me, I am filled with power, with the Spirit of the LORD, and with justice and might, to declare to Jacob his transgression, to Israel his sin. Hear this, you leaders of the house of Jacob, you rulers of the house of Israel, who despise justice and distort all that is right; who build Zion with bloodshed, and Jerusalem with wickedness.” (Micah 3:8-10)

Your real Christian witness flows from somewhere deeper than your voice. The Prophet Micah attributed the power of his ministry to the Spirit of the Lord. Our power comes from the same source! Out of the belly of a man; filled with the Holy Spirit, rises a testimony of truth and power (Jn. 7:37-39).

You are more than your story – You are His-story!

We cannot stand on our own righteousness… it is Christ in us that speaks of better things than what people see or hear. Indeed, were we to find ourselves reliant upon our strength, our wisdom or our charm, we would find no hope against the onslaught of this world’s trouble. But we are not at all in the clutches of impending doom… for we are not our own. We live as Christ’s Ambassadors (2 Cor 5:20). We have been purchased by a blood as pure and holy as the whitest snow (Eph 1:7). We have been offered freedom’s highest position (Eph. 2:6). And we have a voice within ourselves that comes streaming forth like a rushing waterfall (Phil. 4:13). Christ has become our strength, our wisdom and our witness, because He is our peace… our focus and our joy. He is our Righteousness!

The Mystery: Its “Christ in you, the hope of Glory” (Col. 1:27)

Jesus told His followers they would receive power to witness about Him when the Holy Spirit came on them (Acts. 1:8). You can’t witness effectively by relying on your own strength, because fear will keep you from speaking out for God. You can’t witness effectively by choosing the best sermons or knowing the right words to say. You are not smart enough to outwit the devil. You cannot witness effectively by creating the best atmosphere or offering the most attractive invitation. Only by relying on the power of the Holy Spirit can you live and witness for Him! But with that power comes the promise that signs and wonders will follow those who believe (Mk. 16:17).

“Then Philip went down to the city of Samaria and preached Christ to them. And the multitudes with one accord heeded the things spoken by Philip, hearing and seeing the miracles which he did. For unclean spirits, crying with a loud voice, came out of many who were possessed; and many who were paralyzed and lame were healed. And there was great joy in that city.” (Acts 8:6-8)

This is the witness we have in Christ: “That if God be for us, who can stand against us?” (Rom. 8:31)

Reviving our Culture

Reviving our culture with the Gospel of the Kingdom can feel like a task for the super Christians of our world. We have been given the authority and power to tread upon serpents and scorpions, but our confidence often gets shaken when we see the faces of our neighbors. It seems like we talk more about reviving our culture than we practice touching those within our reach.

Kingdom Authority:

You and I have been given a mandate to set people free from torment and diseases (Jn 14:12). We are called to do what Jesus did… destroy the works of the devil. Its the authority to move the resources of Heaven into the Earth, where real needs can be met with compassionate love. It does not need to be flashy or charismatic, to be creative and effective. Its the authority to serve.

The Truth is Practical:

As with most Kingdom principles, the truth about our authority is bound to the truth of practical love. Any truth in the wrong hands can become dangerous, but in the hands of a humble servant, the world is radically effected. Love is the great equalizer, because it is what makes the Gospel of the Kingdom carry its effect. Becoming servants to this world and serving in practical ways within its culture, is the key that opens doors of possibility.

Royalty is my Identity – Servanthood is my Assignment:

There it is in a nutshell! You and I are being fashioned for this. We are becoming Kingdom Agents with a real identity bound to the King of Kings, but a practice of washing feet in the world around us. Before God I live my life in intimacy, but before man I live my life in servanthood. Before the powers of hell I am a ruler, with no tolerance for the works of the devil. Before God I stand triumphant, a Son of Righteousness, strong and faithful. Yet before men I stand in compassion, aware that all men are prone to wander, to weakness and to frailty (Mt 9:35-39).

Begin with Invasion:

Today I want to encourage myself… and you as well, if you would like to take this challenge. Walk across the street and serve your neighbor. Just this week I have been challenged with this commission, because our neighbor passed away suddenly. I sat wondering what I could do? I heard the Lord say, “Give your neighbor a cup of cold water”. God was saying to me, “Stop thinking and go revive the culture across the street!” I am realizing that reviving a culture is done one step at a time.

Who is Your Neighbor?”

I like the answer Jesus gives to the rulers of His day (Lk 10:30). “A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves.” 1)My neighbor is anyone the thief has robbed. “Who stripped him of his clothing.” 2)My neighbor is anyone who the thief has left naked and shamed. “And wounded him.” 3)My neighbor is anyone the thief has wounded and left bleeding. “And departed, leaving him half dead.” 4)My neighbor is anyone the thief has left half dead.

My culture is mine to revive, so I am challenging myself to stop for the one within reach. As a Kingdom Agent, I have authority to serve!

Look & Believe

“But even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, whose minds the god of this age has blinded, who do not believe, lest the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine on them.” (2 Cor 4:3-4)

“For it is the God who commanded light to shine out of darkness who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the Glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.” (2 Cor 4:6)

Just keep looking into the face of Jesus Christ!

At the Feast of Tabernacles in Jerusalem, Jesus stood up and cried out with a loud voice, “Is anyone thirsty? Let him come to Me and drink, because believing will release in you rivers of living water!” (Jn 7:37-39) Not reasoning, doctrinal traditions or church programs… believing will do this. Yet its not just any believing it is believing that is moved by the Spirit as we look into the face of Jesus Christ.

Looking into things:

When we look into things, they reveal their glory. They reveal the nature of their design and their purpose. As a youth I can recall buying Hot Wheel toy cars and spending hours just looking at their unique style, color and cool features. Some were very tough looking and I could imagine driving wilderness roads and crashing through any obstacles in my path. As I played, my mother would often shout from the other room, “It sounds like an amazing adventure in there!” Whereby I would feel embarrassed by my intensity as the discoverer of the “glory” of my new car.

God’s Amazing Adventure:

When God created Adam, He made a powerful decision. He asks Adam to name the animals. In doing this He was teaching Adam a basic principle about glory. He was teaching Adam that when you look into the nature of something it will eventually reveal its character and purpose. When these things are discovered, “naming” it becomes simple. But it also creates a platform for relationship with the animal being named. Adam would need to discover how a porcupine was unique to the elephant, lion or bear.

The Point:

In this process God was making Himself vulnerable to the desire of Adam, because the training would serve to help him value the Glory of God. Adam would sin and fall short of the Glory of God (Rom 3:23) and all would be lost except the memory of God’s heart toward Adam. As God returns to the Garden of Eden to find the man hiding himself, it was not man who could not find God… it was God who could not find man. Oh, God knew where he was, but his sin now created separation because of the Glory that stood as a barrier between the perfect and the fallen. God calls man to Himself and clothes the man with the garment of a lamb, shedding blood and forever revealing the pattern of recovering a lost Glory.

The Nature of Our Father:

This is what a Father does, he creates avenues back into relational Glory. He restores, redeems and invites the son or daughter back into relationship even when the requirements for reconciliation have changed forever. And change they did! There would never again be access to the Garden on the same level of relationship. Adam and Eve would need to set their eyes upon a new Tree of Life… the Cross!

2000 Years Later:

The Lamb of God would come and take away the sin of the world and the same God who commanded light to shine in the darkness would shine in the hearts of those who believe. The light would reveal a knowledge like no other, it was the knowledge of the Glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. Note: the knowledge of the Glory is not the Glory, but the Glory itself is found in His face. Look into the face of Jesus Christ and believe that what you behold is your destiny… and you will see what nothing on this Earth can offer – abundant life.

Just keep looking into His beautiful face… and see the Glory of God!

Roads of Awakening

I love the story of the two disciples on the Emmaus Road (Lk 24:13-35). I could read it again and again, because it’s the story of two people who are introduced to the reality of confusion and pain. They had come so close to seeing what the whole world longs for – “real hope”… only to find their expectations shattered and their hearts yearning for a place to hide. Yet the same roads that call us to believe in God’s Promise… will challenge our courage and awaken real faith.

Roads like the Emmaus Road are where Jesus meets our human frailty with resurrection power and surprises us by the joy it releases.

From Broken Hearts to Burning Hearts:

At the start of the story they are two men defeated and discouraged. They thought they had something precious, but it was gone as quickly as it started. All they experienced with Jesus changed how they perceived their world. Now, taken away by the brutal forces of religion and government, their friend was branded a blasphemer and an enemy of the state. They could feel their hopes displayed upon that cross and placed into that tomb.

Yet, by the end of this story we find these same men joyfully testifying of the “stranger” they had shared their troubles with along the way. The guest at their table was Jesus Himself… raised from the dead and alive forevermore! They recognized Him in the breaking of the bread. As the crumbs fell to the table, they could hardly believe their eyes… He was risen from the dead, actively sharing with them and causing their hearts to burn with delight.

Roads Like Emmaus:

These roads are not unfamiliar journeys for the average believer. I would guess, we all have traveled the path away from pain, away from shattered dreams, away from our destiny. We have done this for many reasons, but perhaps the most compelling is defeat. When we feel defeated, emotions surprise us, confuse us and even lead us in the opposite direction to where we could find Truth emerging.

When defeated…  emotions surprise, confuse and even lead in the opposite direction to where Truth emerges!

The Good News:

Roads like Emmaus are diversions not disaster… because Jesus is Alive!!! He comes alongside of these two men, much like He comes alongside of us, to reveal Himself as the Victor over all that can defeat us. When we feel these realities we might find ourselves going the wrong direction, but God is not blind to our limited perception. He meets us in the hour of deepest despair and calls us back to “Jerusalem”!

What’s The Key? – The Breaking of Bread!

He was known to them in the breaking of bread (Lk 24:35). There, in a moment of surprise, a moment at a common table… comes a powerful realization. This “stranger” is the Savior! They saw it in the blessing. They saw it as He sat at the table with them and remembered how they had received from Him. It awakened their heart… this breaking of the bread. They saw it in the giving, in the sharing together and in the moment of abiding grace… their eyes were opened.

So they arose that very hour, like a person does when they come to their senses… and they returned to Jerusalem – The City of Peace. Roads like Emmaus are round trip journeys back into faith. They test the nature of our hope and reveal the power of resurrected love. They are roads of awakening!

“Then their eyes were opened and they knew Him; and He vanished from their sight. They said to each other, did not our heart burn within us while He talked with us on the road and while He opened the Scriptures to us?” (Lk 24:31-32)

Archives