Yoked Oxen and Wild Asses

Ephesians 2:13-18
But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ. For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition [between us]; Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, [even] the law of commandments [contained] in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, [so] making peace And that he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby: And came and preached peace to you which were afar off, and to them that were nigh. For through him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father.

As the New Covenant Church began after the death, resurrection and ascension of Christ there were many struggles for men and women to come into the truth of the grace and freedom that is in Christ Jesus. There are still many parallels of that in the Church today. On one side you have what we will call the “yoked oxen”. These are the religious ones who have grown up in the religious atmosphere of denomination and religious structure. Most have grounding in the basic truths of God’s Word, but they have been so long under the yoke of the routine of religion it is hard for them to have the vision of how God is expanding beyond the perimeters of their individual camps of truth and revelation. In many ways they have become similar to the Jews of Israel. “Bless God, we are God’s chosen and our way is the right way. It was good enough for my ancestors and it is good enough for me.” It is the mentality that wants to put God in the box of our religious way of thinking and they struggle to see beyond that.
On the other hand we have what we will call “the wild asses”. These are those much like the Gentiles outside of Judaism that have little or no roots in religious background or the Christian religion. They have lived life free and wild before the Holy Spirit drew them to Himself and they came into knowledge of Him. They may not have the reverence and respect for the time honored traditional values that the “yoked oxen” have. They often have no clue of the proper etiquette and decorum of worship and reverencing God. But the “Wild Asses,” on the other hand, come with a certain freedom from the tradition and teachings of men. Their souls are like virgin soil for the gospel to be planted into. There is this wall of religion and rebellion that exist between the two camps as they often have conflict in dealing with one another. This was that middle wall of partition that separated the Jew and Gentile of old and a prejudice that still exist today. The scripture says Christ is our peace that has made us both one. As these two cultures come together in the atmosphere of true Christian fellowship, worship and relationship it is often hard for them to relate with one another. What we sometimes forget is that each brings to the table something that the other needs to balance them both. The wild ones need the structure and discipline, the reverence and respect that accompany the fear of God. The yoked ones need the freedom from inhibitions, liturgical thinking and expression that the wild ones bring. It is coming out of a box and culture for both sides that, together, the two may become one new man in Christ.
If missionaries from America go to foreign countries trying to impose their cultural thinking and ways as they preach the gospel they are often very much rejected and resisted. If they go and are willing to lay down their preconceived cultural ideas and reach out to the people from their cultural understanding and perspective they are often better understood and received because the people from that culture can relate with them.
What are we saying? God is bringing people into body from every nation, tribe and tongue, from every background and culture. We all have to come out of our cultural boxes and shells if we are to relate with one another in Christ. The cross of Jesus and the love of God are the common ground upon which we meet. Our focus must be much less on that of judging others and conforming them to our particular ideology of Christianity and more focused on how do we build each other up in love. If I can be more focused on meeting your need than I am on fixing your problem, the problem may well get resolved as I meet the need.
I once worked with a young man who was very open to hear about the Lord, but was from a different religious background than myself. I had my book and I was going to set him straight on why his religious background was wrong. Before I talked with him, I felt I heard the Holy Spirit say to me, “Just speak the truth in love and the truth will set him free.” It is each one of us opening up our hearts and minds to what the Spirit wants to teach us that will set us free. He will lead us into all truth if we will abide in relationship with Him and remain obedient to His leading. He will break down the middle wall of partition and make the “yoked oxen” and the “wild asses” one man in Christ.

Blessings,
#kent

The Flesh and Blood of Christ

John 6:53
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.

This was a hard saying back in the day when Jesus spoke it. You can imagine the hearers that were processing this through their natural minds. “What is He saying, that we have to cannibalize Him and drink His blood?” This would be an abomination to the natural mind of the Jewish person, especially in the light of the teaching of the law about the blood. Leviticus 17:10-14 taught, “And whatsoever man [there be] of the house of Israel, or of the strangers that sojourn among you, that eateth any manner of blood; I will even set my face against that soul that eateth blood, and will cut him off from among his people. For the life of the flesh [is] in the blood: and I have given it to you upon the altar to make an atonement for your souls: for it [is] the blood [that] maketh an atonement for the soul. Therefore I said unto the children of Israel, No soul of you shall eat blood, neither shall any stranger that sojourneth among you eat blood.
And whatsoever man [there be] of the children of Israel, or of the strangers that sojourn among you, which hunteth and catcheth any beast or fowl that may be eaten; he shall even pour out the blood thereof, and cover it with dust.
For [it is] the life of all flesh; the blood of it [is] for the life thereof: therefore I said unto the children of Israel, Ye shall eat the blood of no manner of flesh: for the life of all flesh [is] the blood thereof: whosoever eateth it shall be cut off.” From this passage you can see why the many struggled with what Jesus was speaking to them and why many turned away. So why would Jesus say something so controversial and seemingly contradictory to the law? We can easily see where the blood of Jesus was the all time atonement for our sins, but why would He say we should drink His blood when it was an abomination to God to drink the blood of animals? Have you ever heard the saying, ” you are what you eat?” This has a lot of application here. The blood represented the life and nature of a creature. I believe in God’s eyes, for man to drink the blood of animals was for him to, in essence, partake of that lower beast nature. There was identification and imparting of the nature or the soul that was ingested with its blood. The blood of the animals was to be poured out and covered with dust, which was the perishable, and corruptible substance from which it came.
Jesus was the beginning of the New Covenant, not one established upon the corruptible and temporal sacrifices and atonement of the blood of goats and calves. He established the New Testament upon the perfect incorruptible and eternal sacrifice and atonement of His blood and life given once for all, for all of mankind. Jesus was communicating the spiritual truth that in order to have the incorruptible nature and life of God we had to partake of it through the body and blood of Jesus. As He said in John 14:6, “Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.”
Obviously, it wasn’t the physical ingesting of the body and blood of Jesus that He was referring to in this passage, but the partaking of His life through faith in His word. We do this symbolically through the communion. These are small physical reminders of the great truth that without a true participation in our communion and partaking of His Spirit life we are none of His. Perhaps we begin to comprehend as never before what our Lord accomplished and gave to us through His Passion. Let us meditate, seek to comprehend and appropriate all that He provided for us through the breaking of His body and the giving of His blood. As we partake of Him through faith we are partakers of His incorruptible, everlasting soul, His nature and His life. So let us eat of His flesh and drink of His blood for it is eternal life for all who partaker. He is forever the Bread of Life.

Blessings,
kent

Water into Wine

July 15, 2013

Water into Wine

John 2:5-10
And there were set there six waterpots of stone, after the manner of the purifying of the Jews, containing two or three firkins apiece. Jesus saith unto them, Fill the waterpots with water. And they filled them up to the brim. And he saith unto them, Draw out now, and bear unto the governor of the feast. And they bare [it]. When the ruler of the feast had tasted the water that was made wine, and knew not whence it was: (but the servants which drew the water knew;) the governor of the feast called the bridegroom, And saith unto him, Every man at the beginning doth set forth good wine; and when men have well drunk, then that which is worse: [but] thou hast kept the good wine until now.

There is a truth here in the first miracle of Christ where He turns the water into wine that goes beyond just the outward event and story. It is a story about the transformation that He is doing in you and I. There were six water pots of stone. Six being the number of man. It is in man that Christ does His transforming work. These stone jars were for the purpose of ceremonial purification. They could only serve to clean the outward man through religious means and ceremonial ways. The day came when Jesus came and said fill the pots with water. The Spirit of God moving over the waters brings about a transformation through the blood of Christ to produce a new wine. A New Covenant relationship where as we abide in the Vine (John 15:4), Christ, we bear the fruit of the Vine (John 15:5). John 3:5-7, Jesus is explaining the new birth to Nicodemus and he says, “Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.
Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother’s womb, and be born? Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and [of] the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.” The water is the natural state that was in the stone jars. There was nothing unusual about it or supernatural. It was the Spirit of God moving through Christ Jesus that did a supernatural thing to that water. It transformed its natural state of water into wine. There is a supernatural event that occurs in us when we are born again. When Jesus shared the Lord’s Supper with His disciple, He took the cup of wine and declared, ”
This cup [is] the New Testament in my blood, which is shed for you. (Luke 22:20).” It was the wine that was symbolic of the blood of Christ that transforms this natural into the supernatural, that causes us to be born not only of the natural as in the water, but also of the spirit as seen in the blood or the wine.
God has saved the best for last. In these last days Christ shed His blood upon that cross that by faith in that blood we might me be transformed into a new creation in Christ Jesus. As that new creation we become like that water that was transformed into wine. It is not like the former wine that produced carnal results, but it is the finest and the best wine of a new testament. It has been saved for the last and manifested in the lives of His people that are bringing to the table the best of what God has to offer. Christ is the bridegroom and you are his best because you are blessed with a transformed life that is being conformed to His nature. You are the wine that is being offered to a world that has only known the wine of lust and drunkenness. You bring the joy and the life of Christ to that world. When they drink of the same life that is in us they too, can become partakers of the transforming power of Christ.

Blessings,
kent

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