BREAK OUT

Micah 2:13 – The breaker goes up before them; They break out, pass through the gate and go out by it. So their king goes on before them, and the LORD at their head.

Peter probably said it best, “You preach freedom but you yourselves are slaves of your own corruption”. Slavery starts on the inside of us, not on the outside. This is one of the great ironies that surround us every day, humans want to break rules so that they can be free from the man or the system or the church. They indulge in promiscuity or drunkenness and proclaim that they are free all the while encumbering themselves in the mire of sin and suffering the consequences of bad decisions. Jesus is the Breaker who breaks this horrible pattern of destruction that humans tend to embrace. How does He do it? First, He opens our eyes to the foolishness of sin. Secondly, He draws us to Himself. It is in the presence of the Breaker that this horrible bondage is finally broken. He leads us out of bondage and into the joy of being sons and daughters of God. Here is how Maclaren describes it.

“Men and women! Some of you are the slaves of your own lusts. Some of you are the slaves of the world’s maxims. Some of you are held in bondage by some habit that you abominate, but cannot get away from. Here is freedom for you. The dark walls of the prison are round us all. ‘The Scripture hath shut up all in sin, that He might have mercy upon all.’ Blessed be His name! As the angel came to the sleeping Apostle, and to his light touch the iron gates swung obedient on their hinges, and Roman soldiers who ought to have watched their prey were lulled to sleep, and fetters that held the limbs dropped as if melted; so, silently, in His meek and merciful strength, the Christ comes to us all, and the iron gate which leadeth out into freedom opens of its own accord at His touch, and the fetters fall from our limbs, and we go forth free men. ‘The Breaker is gone up before us.”

Sin is not only controlling, it is also blinding. It the miracle of new birth that gives us sight, sight to see Christ as He is and to see the ugliness of sin. It is this miracle of sight that enables us to follow the Breaker and break out of our destructive patterns in life.

GIFTS FROM HEAVEN

Eph.4:7,8 – But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ’s gift.

Therefore He says: “When He ascended on high, He led captivity captive, And gave gifts to men.”

When Jesus ascended to the right hand of God, all the captives from every generation were set free. He broke the chains of sin at the cross, ascended into heaven as a conquering king, and now takes His place at the right hand of the Father. Being freed from sin was not the end but the beginning of Christ’s work. Seated at the right hand of God as the Minister of the Sanctuary, He begins to pour out His Spirit on all flesh. He is the Baptizer in the Holy Spirit. His giving of gifts is the direct result of receiving the Spirit Baptism. We see this clearly following Pentecost. The followers of Jesus were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues. From that point on the other gifts; healing, prophesy, the working of miracles and all the rest began to function through their lives. The gifts of the Spirit flow out of Christ’s greatest gift to us, the Baptism in the Holy Spirit. After we are baptized in the Spirit the other gifts began to follow. Here are some thoughts from the Life in the Spirit Commentary about this passage.

“Christ gives grace gifts as the ascended and exalted Lord Jesus. Since he is the one who baptizes his people with the Holy Spirit, it follows that he is the one giving the gifts of the Spirit to his body. In Eph.4:8, Paul illustrates his thought by referring to an event pictured in Psalm 68:18, where the theocratic king ascends his throne and receives a host of captives (“prisoners of war”) as evidence of his victory, along with the plunder or spoils of war, which he distributes among his men. Paul describes the conquering Christ here as ascending to his throne with captives and as giving grace gifts to his people for carrying out the ministry of his kingdom.”

We were once captives, we are now sons and daughters of God. We can now receive His grace gifts, as John said, grace upon grace. The good news is that we live in the season of God’s outpouring. In the last days of this age the Lord is pouring out His Spirit and giving gifts to His sons and daughters.

SMACK YOUR LIPS

Eph.1:14 – Amp. – That [Spirit] is the guarantee of our inheritance [the firstfruits, the pledge and foretaste, the down payment on our heritage], in anticipation of its full redemption and our acquiring [complete] possession of it—to the praise of His glory.

Nothing like some good home cooking. Last week there was an impromptu Mary’s Song Banquet for ladies involved with Rodan and Fields. There was several thousand women from Rodan and Fields in New Orleans for a convention. Because of a friend of a friend being in leadership with that company, a request was made for a banquet with the Mary’s Song girls to “give back” in light of all the Lord has given us. It was an awesome night of testimonies and giving but that is not why I brought this all up. The meal was cooked by the Mary’s Song girls under the direction of Tyren George.The ladies at my table were raving over the “home cooking”. They also said it was the best meal they had eaten all week; pretty good with the amazing restaurants they all went to in the French Quarter. I guess you just can’t beat home cooked meals.

Now this brings me to the whole point of all of this, today’s verse says that the Holy Spirit is the foretaste of all the Lord has prepared for us. That first taste, or sampling of the food before a meal, tastes awfully good. It actually increases our anticipation for the coming feast. In Psalm 63 David was enjoying feasting on the Lord. He was enjoying the feast of God’s presence, enjoying what he was receiving, but smacking his lips in anticipation of more. Here is how it reads in the Message Bible.

Psa.63:3-5 The Message

In your generous love I am really living at last!

My lips brim praises like fountains. I bless you every time I take a breath;

My arms wave like banners of praise to you.

I eat my fill of prime rib and gravy;

I smack my lips. It’s time to shout praises!

The good meal at our banquet for our out of town guests last week was really only the foretaste. The real meal was when Parris, Ali Spitsbergen (the lady with Rodan and Fields), and the girls from Mary’s Song began to share what the Lord had done in their lives. The testimony of Jesus was our taste of the coming heavenly banquet. So I think I’m going to join David and smack my lips, if this first taste is this good it’s hard to imagine what the whole meal will be like.

HE OPENS PRISON DOORS

Acts 16:26,27 – and suddenly there came a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison house were shaken; and immediately all the doors were opened and everyone’s chains were unfastened. When the jailer awoke and saw the prison doors opened, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself, supposing that the prisoners had escaped.

One of the strange things about being in bondage to sin is this, we actually think we are free. Peter said that the world preaches freedom but is actually enslaved to sin themselves. That just about sums it up; the tendency is to strut around thinking you have your stuff together when nothing could be further from the truth. Case in point; the current opioid crisis. It’s no longer the stereotype junkie who’s is bound by drugs, its quite often the businessman, businesswoman, student, or housewife. Addiction has a way of creeping up on you. It starts with a little relief, a little pleasure to replace your stress and pain. Gradually it takes over your life. That’s the way it is with all sin, the promise of momentary pleasure without mentioning the consequences. Augustine knew about this promise of sinful pleasure, He discovered the only way out.

“How sweet all at once it was for me to be rid of those fruitless joys which I had once feared to lose! . . . You drove them from me, you who are the true, the sovereign joy. You drove them from me and took their place, you who are sweeter than all pleasure, though not to flesh and blood, you who outshine all light, yet are hidden deeper than any secret in our hearts, you who surpass all honor, though not in the eyes of men who see all honor in themselves. . . .O Lord my God, my Light, my Wealth, and my Salvation.”

What was the key to Augustine’s discovery? To me it was the most life changing event in my life. It is not the rules or laws of religion that free a person, it is the experience of a greater pleasure than the one that held us captive. It is joy found in knowing Christ that breaks the chains of addiction to sin. Whatever your sin of choice; whether it is sexual pleasure, relief from anxiety through alcohol or pills, or even the addiction of ambition, the solution is always the same. The pleasure found in knowing Christ and experiencing His powerful presence is the only way out of the prison of sin.

FINALLY FREE FROM ADDICTION 

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John 15:11 These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.

We live in a world of addictions. People are addicted to pain meds, illegal drugs, alcohol, porno, gambling, shopping; the list is pretty much endless. All of us are susceptible to addictive behavior, it is part of the flaw of having a fallen nature. We all have certain vices that we prefer and easily fall prey to their promises of pleasure. The promise of pleasure is at the heart of all addiction, humans are willing to risk their marriage, their health, their jobs, and even their very lives for the momentary pleasures offered by the voices that seem to drowned out all sensible behavior. How can a man be free from the quagmire of sin that entraps him? The superior pleasure offered by Christ is the only permanent solution to this dilemma. There is a sweeter pleasure in Christ that is greater than all the inferior pleasures of this world. John Piper says this pleasure is available to us in the written word, check this out.

“The divine aim of Scripture is not that by reading we be moderately joyful. The aim is that our joy—the joy of Christ in us—be full. Full would mean, at least, so strong that it pushes any idolatrous competing pleasures out of our heart. It would mean that selfishness has come to an end. We are no longer to be a sinkhole of craven neediness, but a fountain of life—givers, not takers. That is what Jesus meant when he said, “The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life”. That water is drunk through his word. And the overflowing joy he promises, therefore, comes through reading . I am sure there is a fullness of divine joy that we will not attain until we see his unmediated glory; but who can tell what measures of joy in God are possible, even in this fallen world, if we give ourselves utterly to the word of God?”
Piper has discovered a path to this joy which seems absurd to the unrenewed mind. He says that is in reading the Bible for ourselves that Christ is revealed to us. When that happens in your life the chains of addiction will be broken. They lose their pull on us in light of the higher pleasure found only in the Lord.

THE BREAKER

The breaker is come up before them.

Micah 2:13

This world is full of obstacles. Even though you are now saved, there are many challenges and potholes along our path. It seems that we often expect a life with no trials or problems as a Christian; that is just not true picture of life. As this scripture tells us, the Breaker, the Lord Jesus Christ, has gone before us to defeat all of our enemies. Our greatest enemy was sin itself. Our nature was intertwined with sinfulness. Christ has not only forgiven us, the Breaker has broken the chains of sin off of our souls.

There are also many distractions and setbacks along our path. Unexpected financial disaster, health challenges, turmoil within our very own families; we face all sorts of situations in our daily lives.  No, Christians are not immune to the problems of this world, but Jesus is the Lord of the break through. He has answers for every problem that comes against us. Here is a powerful excerpt from Charles Spurgeon on the Lord our Breaker.

‘Dost thou dread sin? He has nailed it to his cross. Dost thou fear death? He has been the death of Death. Art thou afraid of hell? He has barred it against the advent of any of his children; they shall never see the gulf of perdition. Whatever foes may be before the Christian, they are all overcome. There are lions, but their teeth are broken; there are serpents, but their fangs are extracted; there are rivers, but they are bridged or fordable; there are flames, but we wear that matchless garment which renders us invulnerable to fire. The sword that has been forged against us is already blunted; the instruments of war which the enemy is preparing have already lost their point. They are beaten, they are vanquished; all you have to do is to divide the spoil. You shall, it is true, often engage in combat; but your fight shall be with a vanquished foe. His head is broken; he may attempt to injure you, but his strength shall not be sufficient for his malicious design.

Proclaim aloud the Savior’s fame,

Who bears the Breaker’s wondrous name;

Sweet name; and it becomes him well,

Who breaks down earth, sin, death, and hell.’

Yes, we are fighting a vanquished foe. Though the challenges are real, the outcome is certain. No weapon formed against us shall prosper. So cheer up weary pilgrim, the battle is the Lord’s and the victory is yours.

NO LONGER A SLAVE

Rom. 6:4 We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.

Mankind was brought into slavery in a garden. We became slaves of sin that first day we turned our backs on God. You may say, “I never did that”. The truth is, we all did. We were in Adam and Eve that fateful day that they ate from the tree, that day, we all died. We died to freedom and were slaves to our own sinfulness until another fateful day in a garden. The day was the day the prison that man had been kept in for thousands of years suddenly burst open. Here is how Charles Spurgeon describes that day.

Matt. 28:2 And behold, there was a great earthquake, for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and came and rolled back the stone and sat on it.

“Death was being upheaved, and all the bars of the sepulcher were beginning to burst. When the King awoke from the sleep of death, he shook the world; the bed chamber in which he rested for a little while trembled as the heavenly Hero arose from his couch: Behold, there was a great earthquake. Nor was the King unattended in his rising: for the angel of the Lord descended from heaven. It was not merely one of the angelic host, but some mighty presence angel, ‘the angel of the Lord’, who came to minister to him on that resurrection morn. Jesus was put in the prison of the tomb as a hostage for his people; therefore he will not break out by himself, but the angelic sheriff’s officer must bring the warrant for his deliverance, and set the captive at liberty. When the angel had rolled back the stone from the door, he sat upon it, as if to defy earth and hell ever to roll it back again. That great stone seems to represent the sin of all Christ’s people, which shut them up in prison; it can never be laid again over the mouth of the sepulcher of any child of God. Christ has risen, all his saints must rise, too.”

This is the greatest news of all time. I am no longer a prisoner, I can never be a prisoner again. The prison door has been blown off, I will never be ensnared again.

FREEDOM FROM SIN

So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.John 8:36

The gospel is so simple that even a child can grasp it; yet it is so profound that the most intelligent often miss it. We are saved and set free from from the bondage of sin by faith in the sacrificial death of Jesus Christ. It is the same old story, but with those who have ears to hear it, it is new and refreshing every day. We are all effected daily by the culture that we live in; from off color comments to complaining, from temptations to catastrophic news, it is easy to fall under the sway of this world. The new old story found in the gospel will cleanse us and settle us, there is life and power in the word of God. Here is how Martin Luther explained it in his day.

“True freedom is being free from sin. How does this happen? It happens when we hear his Word—Christ was born of Mary, suffered, was crucified, died, was buried, and rose again from the dead on the third day. “Oh,” we might say, “I know that message well. It is a very familiar sermon.” But let’s learn this lesson again from our children, for it tells us how we can be saved and be set free. “Yes,” we might even say, “This teaching is too simple. That’s why it won’t work.” But it’s a virtue that children can pray these words and understand them so easily. We are old fools. The more educated and intelligent we become, the less we know and understand.

So we must sit with the children by the stove and learn the lesson again. There are some who say they have already been taught the message and think they know everything about it. But when troubles come, they desperately need someone to recite these words to them again. They end up needing a four-year-old child to show them how to believe.”

So maybe you are down in the dumps or struggling with compromise and sin. The solution is the same as it has been from ancient days, look to God’s word. It may be old fashioned but it is alive and as new today as it was when it was first written down. Delight yourself in His word, you will suddenly have a new way to look at everything.

UTTERMOST

UTTERMOST

Heb. 7:25 Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them.

Sometimes you just can’t beat the King James Bible. The old words somehow carry an ability to describe things in a very powerful way. For example in today’s verse we see the word “uttermost”. He is able to save us to the uttermost. The greek word is panteles. It has the connotation of perfectly, completely, and perpetually. I love the shades of meaning in this verse in the Amplified Bible. Heb. 7:25 Therefore He is able also to save to the uttermost (completely, perfectly, finally, and for all time and eternity)… How can Christ do this for us? This verse goes on to say that “He ever liveth to make intercession”. He is praying for me and representing me before the Father. He is saving me to the uttermost. Andrew Murray had great insight into this life behind the veil initiated by Christ. Check this out.

“The great complaint of Christians is that their experience is so changeful – that the blessed sense of God’s love and grace passes away, and that what they know of the keeping, cleansing power of Christ does not last; the sense of nearness to God does not abide continually. It is somehow as if there is a necessity of its being lost. With change of circumstances, alas, comes too often change in the nearness of God and His saving power. Could what Christ does for them at times but be maintained continuously, could it but abide, – their joy would be full, their salvation complete. We have here the very promise such Christians need. Because he abideth for ever, because He ever liveth to make intercession, because He is a Priest for ever, who exercises every function of His office in an endless life-power, that never for a moment intermits its action, He is able to save completely. In Himself He has been perfected for evermore, with Himself He hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified. The salvation He has wrought out is a life in the opened sanctuary of God’s presence in the power of God’s Spirit; all that is needed is that the believer be kept abiding for ever, ever living in this salvation-life which Jesus has opened up. And this he can do, when once he learns to trust to Jesus for it, because he understands that He ever liveth to make intercession.”

How does this teaching effect us in our everyday life? Since Jesus has entered into the Father’s presence with His blood to represent me, I can come boldly into the Father’s presence. This is not just a one time or an occasional visit, we have been introduced to a new and living way. We now have a new life behind the veil. Whatever areas you have struggled with in the past you now have forgiveness and much more than forgiveness. He is able to save to the uttermost. We are no longer bound by our past but set free into this new and living way, into this life behind the veil.

BREAK EVERY CHAIN

THERE IS POWER IN THE NAME OF JESUS

Song 1:2-3 ESV ¶ Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth!
For your love is better than wine; your anointing oils are fragrant;
your name is oil poured out; therefore virgins love you.

There is nothing like the name of Jesus. That name is irresistible to some, but to others, His name is a curse word. What makes the name of Jesus special. Actually, to some parts of the world the name Jesus is quite common. Many latinos are called by the name Jesus, to some, its just another name. But we all know, that is not the case. People are physically healed through the power of His name, demons flee in terror at the name of Jesus, and anyone who calls on His name can be saved from their sin. Yes, there is power in the name of Jesus. Young men and women keep their purity to honor that name, missionaries leave family and friends to proclaim that name amongst the nations, thousands have given their lives in martyrdom to honor the name that is like no other. Charles Spurgeon shared some powerful thoughts about the name of Jesus, listen to his thoughts.

“Jesus! It is the name which moves the harps of heaven to melody. Jesus! the life of all our joys. If there be one name more charming, more precious than another, it is this name. It is woven into the very warp and woof of our psalmody. Many of our hymns begin with it, and scarcely any, that are good for anything, end without it. It is the sum total of all delights. It is the music with which the bells of heaven ring; a song in a word; an ocean for comprehension, although a drop for brevity; a matchless oratorio in two syllables; a gathering up of the hallelujahs of eternity in five letters.”

As the popular song states, “There is power in the Name of Jesus; to break every chain”. That brings us back to Solomon’s “Song of Songs”. He said that the name was like oil being poured out. Of course the oil is a picture of the anointing of the Holy Spirit. Jesus name took up it’s power and authority after Jesus defeated death at the cross, was raised from the dead, and took His place at the Father’s right hand. When Jesus took that place as a resurrected man, His name took on the infinite power and authority that was bestowed on Him by the Father. The name of Jesus is powerful and irresistible because of the person behind that name. Jesus is the Savior of mankind, the heavenly representative of redeemed humanity. His purity, His power, His wisdom, all the attributes of the fulness of God reside in the man, Jesus Christ. When you call on that name, it is more than a magic formula or some kind of incantation, you are actually calling on this exalted person, Jesus Christ. I have to agree with Solomon and with Spurgeon, there is no name like the name of Jesus. It is the name that moves the musical instruments of heaven, it is like oil poured forth and He is altogether lovely. If you call upon Him you will discover for yourself,
“There is power in the name of Jesus
To break every chain.”