Sunday, January 22, 2012

Behind the Sword

I can't tell you all that God has done in me in the last 21 days(even longer, but specifically this month so far). God has kind of wrecked my world and I wouldn't want it any other way. Passion was amazing, even watching from home, God touched my life. But. If I was to stay focused on Passion and what happened there...then I'm not doing what God called me to do. I'm not called to stay stuck in the past at an event or a conference. Yes, Passion was amazing...but I can't try to suck the life out of it by staying there when there are other ways God wants to use me here and now. It was such a joy to be back at C4 Charlotte among friends and 'family'. God is still doing major things through C4 and it's such a joy to be able to witness and participate in God's movement on the UNCC campus. 2 weeks ago, Tyson spoke a message called 'Behind the Sword'. It was the perfect place to start the year.
Genesis 3:23-24 Therefore the LORD God sent him out from the garden of Eden to work the ground from which he was taken. He drove out the man, and at the east of the garden of Eden he placed the cherubim and a flaming sword that turned every way to guard the way to the tree of life.
The garden of Eden was paradise...it's a place of perfect peace, harmony, unity, and love. Adam(the man) was the centerpiece of creation. In the garden, there was only one thing greater than the paradise of the garden itself...that Adam had communion with the Architect of the Universe. That creation could walk along-side the Creator. In the garden, we had all access to the Creator. We weren't designed to live in the garden and have some abstract idea of God...we were designed to know Him...personally. We were created for so much more than the world can offer.

In the garden, there was only one rule: not to eat from the tree of life. Through the breaking of this rule, sin entered the world. When God came to walk with Adam...Adam hid himself. God asked, "Adam, where are you?" God knew where Adam was located...he didn't lose Adam. God wanted Adam to reflect on where he was spiritually. Adam was in rebellion to God's will. Then, Adam was confronted with his sin and banished from the garden. Placed at the threshold of the garden was an angel and a flaming sword to prevent return to the garden.

Take a moment and imagine this. The only thing you'd ever experienced was life knowing God. Now, you are exiled from the Holy Place and apart from God. When Adam looks back, all he sees is the sword. He no longer has access to the greatest thing. In that moment, we no longer had access to walking along-side of the Creator of the Universe. If we want communion with him again, we have to go through the sword.

There is a desperation to go back, but a fear of the sword.
Romans 7:21-23 So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members.
There is a war inside of us. We are part Spirit and part flesh. The Spirit wants to draw close to the Creator but our flesh and sin wants to withdraw and be afraid. When we try to draw close to God, something seems to pull us back and we end up farther away than when we started.
Genesis 2:7 Then the LORD God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature.
God formed man out of dust and the breath of life. The dust is of the earth...it represents sin and flesh. The breath is God's breath of life and it represents the Spirit in us.
Isaiah 59:1-2 Behold, the LORD's hand is not shortened, that it cannot save, or his ear dull, that it cannot hear; but your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden his face from you so that he does not hear.
Sin causes separation. When we want our way and reject his will for us, we separate ourselves from him. Our flesh is pulling us away from the garden. Have you ever been in a place where you don't feel God like you used to? When we feel distant, we have let our sinful, carnal nature win and bring separation. In that moment, you have to realize that God has not left you. Your sin has separated you from him, but he is still Immanuel and is always God with us. One encounter with him and everything changes.

So, we're separated from him...I get that...but how are we restored? The answer is the cross. The Bible calls Jesus the 2nd Adam...but Jesus was born of the Spirit only. Jesus came to earth and died on a cross to restore our relationship with the Father. In other words...Jesus came to meet us where we were...outside the garden...then he ran through the sword to restore us. The Bible tells us that when he died, the veil in the Temple was torn. The Veil separated humanity from the Holy of Holies...where God's presence dwelt. By dying on the cross, Jesus reunited us with God.

Now, you have to understand this...even though Jesus took the cross for you...the sword still stands at the threshold of the garden. Before Jesus ran through the sword (died on the cross), if we had tried to go through the sword ourselves...we would have just died. The sword would have killed us. BUT. Now, when we go through the sword, the only thing that is cut away are the things that look like Adam...the things of the flesh.
Proverbs 13:12-13 Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a desire fulfilled is a tree of life. Whoever despises the word brings destruction on himself, but he who reveres the commandment will be rewarded.
Okay, you might not get where I'm going with this. It's simple: God cannot be in the presence of sin. God put the sword at the threshold for Adam's own good. When sin is in the presence of God, he will destroy it. God put the sword there so that Adam would not be destroyed. The beginning of getting behind the sword and into the garden is the DESIRE to put away sin. Are you tired of living in exile? Do you want fellowship with God more than you fear the sword? Only one thing should matter to us...a relationship with God.
Hebrews 4:12-13 For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account.
The word of God has the power to divide soul and spirit. Examine yourself quickly...can you tell where your soul ends and your spirit begins? Nope. Only God's word can tell and divide our soul(carnal/fleshy/sinful nature and selfish mentality) from our spirit. The Word of God is the only thing strong enough. It won't kill you but it cuts away the things that look like Adam(sin, flesh). The word of God is sharper than any two-edged sword.
John 4:24 God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.
In order to worship God, you have to cut the old man(the sin, the selfish mentality, the flesh) out. It's one prayer away. The sword - the word of the living God - is enough to make you new, holy and acceptable to the Lord. Stop living for yourself. Stop thinking that being declared righteous is enough and start living righteously. The sword stands there and says that you can't go in...I dare you to move forward and let him cut away your flesh.

When Adam looked back, he saw a sword that looked like death. But sometimes what looks like death is really life. People look at a Christian and think that it must suck to live like we do. They think that being a Christian is all rules and no fun...that they'd rather die than live like we do. But...we have life. You have to come through the sword. Let go of your pride, greed, lust, and unforgiveness that you are holding onto in your heart.
Revelation 1:10-18 I was in the Spirit on the Lord's day, and I heard behind me a loud voice like a trumpet saying, “Write what you see in a book and send it to the seven churches, to Ephesus and to Smyrna and to Pergamum and to Thyatira and to Sardis and to Philadelphia and to Laodicea.” Then I turned to see the voice that was speaking to me, and on turning I saw seven golden lampstands, and in the midst of the lampstands one like a son of man, clothed with a long robe and with a golden sash around his chest. The hairs of his head were white, like white wool, like snow. His eyes were like a flame of fire, his feet were like burnished bronze, refined in a furnace, and his voice was like the roar of many waters. In his right hand he held seven stars, from his mouth came a sharp two-edged sword, and his face was like the sun shining in full strength. When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. But he laid his right hand on me, saying, “Fear not, I am the first and the last, and the living one. I died, and behold I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of Death and Hades.
Check it out...'from his mouth came a sharp two-edged sword' and 'I fell at his feet as though dead.' When you go through the sword, part of you has to die. He is the one who physically died and is now alive and well...but you have to die to yourself.

He wants to speak life into you and make you new. Are you ready to come through the sword and meet your maker? Only go through the sword if you are never going back into exile. Jesus didn't die so we could go back into exile. Lay it down and never go back.

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