Sunday, February 10, 2013

Your Cross


I am not a "spooky" Christian, however I do not discount the supernatural either. In May of 2006 I shared this post. I share it once again, mostly for my own exhortation.

At 2:00AM this morning, for the third straight night, I was awakened by the Lord and was unable to return to sleep. Each night I have been personally ministered to by the Holy Spirit, much of which has been quite uncomfortable. At approximately 3:00AM I began to write and this is what I received:
Before you read this open your Bible to Gal.6:14.

Gal.6:14 - But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world.
As Paul penned these words he was making a declaration that stood out as foolishness in the midst of an intellectual, self-serving, and religious society. In a world that loved itself, he was saying that the world was dead to him, and to the world he was a dead man.

Listen more closely. Not only was death involved, but the death of the cross. We have grown accustomed to hearing this reference to crucifixion as it is lightly, tastefully, and selectively sprinkled in pulpit oratory. Not to be discussed among us, we have heard it used as a metaphor for "not letting the things of this life bother us". But Paul, under the God-breathed ministry of the Holy Spirit, used it in an infinitely more direct and confrontational way. Just as our Lord was crucified publicly, Paul publicly proclaims he "glories in the cross".

Gal.6:15 - For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision...
The Spirit now teaches us the passing inadequacy of circumcision as it now is overshadowed by the cross. The few drops of blood that spilled as a male foreskin was cut away now just reminds us of the present uselessness of adherence to the law given to Moses in the incredible light of the glory of the shed blood of the Lamb of God! But go further, if you dare. Remember, you will give an account for what you are about to hear(Mk.4:24-25). So do not read any further unless your heart is willing to open its door to the nails, the hammer, the blood, the agony, the shame, and the cross that has YOUR name on it.

O yes, we've been ever so comfortable to gaze, infrequently and sometimes just sentimentally, at our Savior and Lord on the life-giving cross, but are we anxious to arrive at the foot of a cross, complete with all the necessary and gruesome accoutrements, and realize that it has our name on it?

Gal.6:17 - From henceforth let no man trouble me: for I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus.
The original word for marks is "stigma". The message of such imagery is obvious. Paul is saying,"don't bother me, I'm dead". Dying to this world, other people, our family, our dreams, our flesh, and the entire cursed universe is no "die in your sleep" proposition. It requires a vicious and bloody death; the death of the cross! It is a writhing of the flesh; a deep groaning of pain; a begging for enough; a ruining of appearance; an indescribable shame; an elongated torture; a daily, moment by moment, excruciating event that Paul says he experienced daily. Like a prisoner arriving at the penitentiary who is commanded to empty his pockets, and then is subjected to the most complete and embarrassing search before entering his place of confinement, the candidate for crucifixion must be stripped of all, and God means ALL, his or her belongings. Far beyond the visible material of this world, the Holy Spirit conducts a complete and embarrassing search of the heart which reveals worldly contraband that are a part of the arsenal of the enemy of God. Greed, unforgiveness, lust, malice, envy, and a host of other offspring of the flesh are laid before us, surrounded by the most disgusting of all - pride.

You have now arrived at a place that most of the church don't even know, or care, exists. Your flesh regrets ever allowing the Spirit to lead you to this place of death. You glance over your shoulder and again see your Lord on the cross, and your heart is filled with love and gratefulness, but the Spirit interrupts your momentary serenity and returns your focus to the decision before you. THIS IS YOUR CROSS! Now you realize that like your Savior, no one can force you upon this cross. You must lay down on this cross willingly. But where is the power you need? More Word, more prayer. More Word, more prayer. More Word, more prayer. Then desire meets power, power meets humility, humility meets repentance, and your knees buckle under the weight of your "body of sin". You fall upon the cross and suddenly you are in a new perspective. For the first time you are looking out from a cross, not just being a cross spectator.

The Spirit takes the first nail, raises the hammer, and you cry out in anticipated pain. You are alone. No husband. No wife. no pastor. No friends. It is just you at death's wooden door and you begin to feel inward and outward pain as the life of this present world is being torn away from the place it has held in your heart. You are dying to this world. Look down at the foot of your cross and listen to the crowd. Listen to those who've never been to Christ's cross as they say,"What is he doing and why? He used to be such a fun and wonderful person, but look now". Listen to your brothers and sisters say,"Now he's gone too far and he's become a fanatic. Our Lord never wanted this, let us leave this offensive place of death and let's go to the empty tomb where we can celebrate without pain." As they leave the devil whispers in your ear,"Is it worth it? Go with your friends and avoid all this. Remember, Jesus died in your place so you could enjoy life like the rest of the world."

Your spouse and children call to you,"Come down from there and meet our needs. We don't understand. Please come down, we love you." Somehow the Spirit gives you the grace to go on, and everything becomes dark. Where is your family? Where are your friends? Where are your pleasures? Suddenly you laboriously lift yourself up and draw your last breath. You are now resigned to your fate and void of any strength, you quietly bow your head and lose the living consciousness you have lived with since you were born. Death has finished the work you desired.

At almost the same moment consciousness enters you as you slowly open your eyes. Light gently greets your face and you hear a voice calling from within and without. "Arise, and follow ME!". You get to your feet, aided by a strength you've never known. You follow the light and the voice, and as you emerge from the tomb you experience a new life that is "unspeakable and full of glory". The Same Spirit that helped crucify you is now your teacher and guide. "Come this way", He says, and you joyously follow. Looking down you see footprints that seem to draw every one of your steps. The Spirit puts His hand on your shoulder to steady you, and He whispers,"You are now dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God. You are walking in His resurrection power, so keep looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of your faith. You have this treasure in an earthen vessel, that the excellency of the power might be of Him and not you. Lay aside all your weight and your sin and run the race with patience."

"But what if I fall?", I ask.

"Remember", teaches the Spirit, "You have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ, the righteous. He will pick you up and clean you up, and of course I will always be with you. See", He said, "Jesus has left us a trail that you should follow in His steps. Don't trust your eyes, WALK BY FAITH!"

The further I walked, the stronger I got. I felt completely detached from this world. In the distance I saw my family, my friends, my possessions, and all the other things that can be seen. As I approached them I humbly but confidently said, "Henceforth, let no man trouble me, for I bear in my body the stigma of the Lord Jesus!!"


michael said...

Just looking at one word in the Greek:

Transliteration: psychē
Pronunciation: psü-khā'
Part of Speech: feminine noun
Root Word (Etymology): from G5594
Outline of Biblical Usage:
1) breath
a) the breath of life
1) the vital force which animates the body and shows itself in breathing
a) of animals
b) of men
b) life
c) that in which there is life
1) a living being, a living soul
2) the soul
a) the seat of the feelings, desires, affections, aversions (our heart, soul etc.)
b) the (human) soul in so far as it is constituted that by the right use of the aids offered it by God it can attain its highest end and secure eternal blessedness, the soul regarded as a moral being designed for everlasting life
c) the soul as an essence which differs from the body and is not dissolved by death (distinguished from other parts of the body)"

That is the Word in the Greek for this word in this verse for "life":

"If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple. (Luke 14:26 ESV)

This is the word used when talking about the "life" Jesus died and gave up for us seeing Christ is One of Three "Self Existent" Eternal beings from whom all living breathing beings come!

There are four Greek words the English translators translate into this word: "life". These Greek words are bios, psyche, Zoe and Zao.

Three of the four Greek words can be found in these verses:

We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brothers. Whoever does not love abides in death. Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him. By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers. But if anyone has the world's goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God's love abide in him? (1 John 3:14-17 ESV)

Verses 14-15 we see the Greek word "Zoe" used. In verse 16 the Greek word "psyche" is used. And in verse 17 the Greek word "bios" is used.

When the Greek word "Zao" is used it is always pointing to God's Life either manifested in this life/bios or in the eternal Heaven and God's Eternal abode!

michael said...

The take away from that understanding can be understood when you see how the words are used in Scripture.

For instance lets isolate the Greek word "bios"?

In the ESV translators used two words to make the sense of the meaning of that word "bios" in 1John 3:17. The two words are world's goods. Oh by the way we get the word "biology" from that Greek word "bios".

Now lets see that word bios translated as "life":

First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. (1 Timothy 2:1-4 ESV)

The word life used in verse 2 is "bios".

Also in this verse the words civilian pursuits is "bios":

No soldier gets entangled in civilian pursuits, since his aim is to please the one who enlisted him. (2 Timothy 2:4 ESV)

michael said...

For me what I come away with from Rick's teaching above that sparks my interest is the deep gravity of the message he is being used by God to teach us today.

It is very sobering!

I'd like to hammer home the message some more if I could looking at another example of the use of that word "bios" and the observation Jesus makes.

See this verse and understand our high and holy calling is everything to God to this degree:

41 And he sat down opposite the treasury and watched the people putting money into the offering box. Many rich people put in large sums.
42 And a poor widow came and put in two small copper coins, which make a penny.[fn]
43 And he called his disciples to him and said to them, "Truly, I say to you, this poor widow has put in more than all those who are contributing to the offering box.
44 For they all contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty has put in everything she had, all she had to live on."

See verse 44? Here's a poor widow putting in all she had to live/bios on! Recall the widow in the Old Testament whose Prophet husband died and what God did for her filling up all those jars of oil?

Here's another one and for me this one is cutting and convicting and just may one big chunk of Rick's teaching today about us picking up our cross too?

The word "life" in this verse is "bios":

And as for what fell among the thorns, they are those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by the cares and riches and pleasures of life, and their fruit does not mature. (Luke 8:14 ESV)

michael said...

Oh by the way here's the definition of the word "bios":

Transliteration: bios
Pronunciation: bē'-os
Part of Speech: masculine noun
Root Word (Etymology): a primary word
Outline of Biblical Usage:
1) life
a) life extensively
1) the period or course of life
b) that by which life is sustained, resources, wealth, goods.

What really rings through for me in understanding the costs of True Biblical DISCIPLESHIP are these words from the book of the Revelation to John:

Then I heard another voice from heaven saying, "Come out of her, my people, lest you take part in her sins, lest you share in her plagues; for her sins are heaped high as heaven, and God has remembered her iniquities. Pay her back as she herself has paid back others, and repay her double for her deeds; mix a double portion for her in the cup she mixed. As she glorified herself and lived in luxury, so give her a like measure of torment and mourning, since in her heart she says, "I sit as a queen, I am no widow, and mourning I shall never see." For this reason her plagues will come in a single day, death and mourning and famine, and she will be burned up with fire; for mighty is the Lord God who has judged her." And the kings of the earth, who committed sexual immorality and lived in luxury with her, will weep and wail over her when they see the smoke of her burning. They will stand far off, in fear of her torment, and say, "Alas! Alas! You great city, you mighty city, Babylon! For in a single hour your judgment has come." And the merchants of the earth weep and mourn for her, since no one buys their cargo anymore, cargo of gold, silver, jewels, pearls, fine linen, purple cloth, silk, scarlet cloth, all kinds of scented wood, all kinds of articles of ivory, all kinds of articles of costly wood, bronze, iron and marble, cinnamon, spice, incense, myrrh, frankincense, wine, oil, fine flour, wheat, cattle and sheep, horses and chariots, and slaves, that is, human souls. "The fruit for which your soul longed has gone from you, and all your delicacies and your splendors are lost to you, never to be found again!" (Revelation 18:4-14 ESV)

michael said...

Finally if you can endure it I'd like to bring home True Biblical Christianity from the story Jesus tells about the "good" Samaritan?

Most likely you haven't seen it quite this way before, maybe so?

I submit that story Jesus tells that is so cutting to those practicing Judaizers is drawn from 2 Chronicles 28?

It may have been awhile since the last time you read that chapter? Basically God sends the prophet Oded to the mistreating "brethren" who took 200,000 of their people captive to put them into slavery!

Now after the Spirit of The Lord got done with these men we read this cutting into the narrative here:

And now you intend to subjugate the people of Judah and Jerusalem, male and female, as your slaves. Have you not sins of your own against the Lord your God? Now hear me, and send back the captives from your relatives whom you have taken, for the fierce wrath of the Lord is upon you. Certain chiefs also of the men of Ephraim, Azariah the son of Johanan, Berechiah the son of Meshillemoth, Jehizkiah the son of Shallum, and Amasa the son of Hadlai, stood up against those who were coming from the war and said to them, You shall not bring the captives in here, for you propose to bring upon us guilt against the Lord in addition to our present sins and guilt. For our guilt is already great, and there is fierce wrath against Israel. So the armed men left the captives and the spoil before the princes and all the assembly. And the men who have been mentioned by name rose and took the captives, and with the spoil they clothed all who were naked among them. They clothed them, gave them sandals, provided them with food and drink, and anointed them, and carrying all the feeble among them on donkeys, they brought them to their kinsfolk at Jericho, the city of palm trees. Then they returned to Samaria. (2 Chronicles 28:10-15 ESV)

No matter the times or seasons there will always be the poor among us that we will have to set aside our thoughts or reasonings or emotions why theyvare poor and needy and just do like they did there at verse 15 and as Jesus taught when telling the story of the Good Samaritan.

Cherie c. said...

From this post:

Tuesday, April 27, 2010
The Cross is now an Embarrassment

The cross is God’s glory, and the church is making a mockery in the way we soft peddle it, minimize it, and even ignore it.

Why are you still including yourself in your posts about the Apostate Church?

You're out, and if the American Church is the Harlot or one of her many daughters the Bible speaks of, it is okay to exclude yourself. The use of they is okay Pastor.

We are not them.

your sister in Christ Jesus,
Cherie c.

Kim said...

Wow! Thank you for sharing this. When put this way and with Michael's comments, where is the man who will NOT count the cost before he gives his life to Christ? This MUST be what "church" was like in the beginning. The Lord using one and that one's teaching being amplified and built upon by others. How awesome!

Our God is a consuming fire (Heb. 12:29), and it is a fearsome thing to fall into the hands of the living God (Heb. 10:31). Every day I consider that I am not worthy and am failing in my walk. Every day I realize that in my own strength I cannot do it. Every day I realize my weakness. fleshiness and pride and through these realizations, I am brought to the end of myself and to the beginning of Him. This is the life I want, the life I choose, and it is only in Him that I am able to live, move and breathe.

A great word for today.