The Veil

About three o’clock, Jesus cried out with a loud voice, “Eli, eli, lema sabachthani?”, which means, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46, ISV)

Then Jesus cried out with a loud voice again and died. Suddenly, the curtain in the sanctuary was torn in two from top to bottom, the earth shook, rocks were split open, tombs were opened, and many saints who had died were brought back to life. After his resurrection, they came out of their tombs, went into the Holy City, and appeared to many people.

When the centurion and those guarding Jesus with him saw the earthquake and the other things that were taking place, they were terrified and said, “This man certainly was the Son of God!” (Matthew 27:50-54, ISV)

At noon, darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon. At three o’clock, Jesus cried out with a loud voice, “Eloi, eloi, lema sabachthani?” (which means, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”) (Mark 15:33-34, ISV)

It was already about noon, and the whole land became dark until three in the afternoon because the sun had stopped shining, and the curtain in the sanctuary was torn in two. Then Jesus cried out with a loud voice and said, “Father, into your hands I entrust my spirit.” After he said this, he breathed his last.

When the centurion saw what had taken place, he praised God and said, “This man certainly was righteous!” When all the crowds who had come together for this spectacle saw what had taken place, they beat their chests and left. But all his acquaintances, including the women who had followed him from Galilee, were standing at a distance watching these things. (Luke 23:44-49, ISV)

The veil . . torn.

The veil that separated the Holy of Holies from view:

TORN.

The veil that separated God from man.

TORN!

The veil that only the high priest could enter through, only once a year, and only with a sacrifice of animal blood . . TORN by the High Priest who entered with His own blood as the sacrifice.  That is who Jesus Christ is.

The Tearer of the Separation between God and Man.

In a mystery we do not understand, God was denied access to God.

As Jesus carried the sins of the world to become sin for us,  He lost his relationship with His Father.  God lost relationship with God.  He Himself gave Himself to be the blood.

Innocent animal blood made it permissible for the high priest to visit God once a year in fear and trembling, but God’s blood, offered to God, by God, made it possible for God Himself to rip the curtain in two.

As Christ was separated from His Father by the unbearable burden of sin He carried . . God departed from God for the first time in history.

One infinite Person of God, the Father, was just to condemn sin . . and another infinite Person of God, Jesus the Son, stood in our place to be condemned.

The penalty of sin demanded that the Judge require payment in full . . and the Judge Himself was the payment.

God the Father ripped the veil with His own hands to make way for God the Son–the Sacrifice and the High Priest–to come through.

Jesus was exactly right.

It was finished.  Right then.

The veil in the temple, separating the Presence of God from us, ripped from top to bottom, torn by the Father as the nail-scarred Son stepped right through.

The way from God to man . . opened.

OPENED.

Not since Eden had it been opened.

And now, the Son stepped through, introducing the Father to us.

The Holiest of Holies . . wants to adopt you and me.

And now nothing stood, and still nothing stands, in God’s way to reach us.

But millions die without entering through the veil.

Why?

We have our own veils we place up to block the Light of God out of our lives.

These veils serve as idols, woven by Satan, to prevent us from seeing our salvation.

These veils and not our sin keep us from Christ.  That is, these unholy veils are sin, but it is active use of them as an obstruction that keeps us from Him.

Even that obstruction, that sin of a blocked heart, can be forgiven when the heart repents.  You must actively, persistently hold the veil up with all your might if it is to remain.

To keep yourself separated from God, you must willfully hold your sin up as the veil to prevent His Light from coming through.

The most important question you can ask yourself is, Will you?  Will you allow your veil–whatever it is, Satan isn’t particular on the threads you use–to block the light of God from reaching your soul?

Or will you drop your sin-reeking, self-made veil to let the love of Christ through?

For when you drop your dark veil, what you see is the Light coming through the real torn veil.

And then you see that nothing, absolutely nothing, separates you from God.

I choose the Light.

For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him.

“There is no judgment against anyone who believes in him. But anyone who does not believe in him has already been judged for not believing in God’s one and only Son. And the judgment is based on this fact: God’s light came into the world, but people loved the darkness more than the light, for their actions were evil. All who do evil hate the light and refuse to go near it for fear their sins will be exposed. But those who do what is right come to the light so others can see that they are doing what God wants.” (John 3:16-21, NLT)

One defense

Jesus is our defense lawyer.  He is different than any other defense lawyer, though, because rather than trying to prove we are innocent, He takes away our guilt so that we really are innocent!

Jesus paid for our sins on the cross.  Like the “double jeopardy” law, Jesus has already paid for our sins.  We can’t be condemned for the same crimes, unless we refuse His payment.  Then we are on our own in God’s court.

Those who enter into Christ’s being-here-for-us no longer have to live under a continuous, low-lying black cloud. (Romans 8:1b, The Message)

Unexpected

For the Lord himself will come down from heaven with a commanding shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet call of God. First, the Christians who have died will rise from their graves. Then, together with them, we who are still alive and remain on the earth will be caught up in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. Then we will be with the Lord forever.

(1 Thessalonians 4:16-17, NLT)

It will be one of the two most unexpected moments in history.

The moment has been on my heart lately, and I have been burdened with its heaviness.  I’ve been waking up at night thinking not about its galaxy-crumbling effects, but its effect on me.

Am I ready for Christ to come?

I remember as a child hearing this question.  I thought of it as a ploy or a threat to try to push people into salvation.  The question itself can certainly be misused, but I see now it has nothing to do with trickery or force.  It is a question of the gravest concern.

Am I ready for Christ to come?

Gravity does not hold this world together, nor molecules; it is the Son of God.  Kingdoms will crumble at His Word.  Nations rise and fall on His time.  No one rises in power who does not rely on the breath of God that filled Adam’s lungs thousands of years ago, the breath of Life.

How am I using that breath of Life?  I will answer for it.

Am I ready for Christ to come?

I don’t want to be caught dabbling in sin when the King of kings returns.  What do I want to have done on my last day on earth?  I want to have served Jesus with everything I have.  No second wasted, no ill thought, no moment of inaction, no whiff of sin.  That’s what I want my last day on earth to look like, not because God needs my service but because I love Him so!

I was the dirty, naked, wounded, bankrupt beggar who Christ washed, clothed and healed.  He has taught me to cup my hands and filled them with His treasures.  He has lavished His jewels upon me like an honored daughter.  Around my neck I wear the pendant of His love.  He decorates my head with a band of grace.  He fills my arms with bracelets of His value for me.  He wraps my ankles in His kindness.  He places in my ears rings of devotion.  He slides the ring of purpose on my finger.

Am I ready for Christ to come?

I do not want to be found wandering the streets, or in worthless gossip, or wasting my time buying cheap jewelry when there is no room for them among the jewels God has placed upon me.  I do not want to be found halfheartedly telling a few people I meet of the kindness of God.  I do not want to be found harboring Satan’s bitterness among God’s treasures.  I do not want to be caught in anything but wholehearted devotion to Him.

Am I ready for Christ to come?

Every moment could be my last.  If Christ does not return in my lifetime, I will most certainly die.  I will see His face one day.  I will see the head that was once crowned with the thorns of my heart.  I will look upon the face that was struck for my sin.  I will see the hands that hung for my shame, the feet that tore for my sake.

I want Him to see a servant who did not forget the Gift.

Am I ready for Christ to come?

I know my Savior, and I ache to be holy for Him.  I long to sin no more.  One day, I will be made new, and I will look as someone who belongs in the clothes and jewels He has bestowed upon me.  This is grace beyond the realm of grace ever known among mortals or angels.  Everlasting grace, perfect grace, holy grace.

But what about until then?  Do I sit like a spoiled, thankless child and wait for Him to give me more gifts?  Oh, by God’s grace, I pray never again.

Am I ready for Christ to come?

Christ’s return will be unexpected.  It will be one of the two most unexpected event in the history of the earth: the Resurrection and the Return.  The Resurrection has happened.  The Return is held back only by the patience of God, that you and I might be ready.

Are you ready for Christ to come?

Do you know Him?  If not, you will face Him as a criminal faces a King.  There will be one trial, and no second chances.  The sentence will be permanent.  Everlasting.

God is waiting, waiting for us.  But He won’t wait forever.  One day, the door will be locked.  Whether that is through His return or your death, one day the door will be locked.  There will be no way in.

The Way is open now.  Receive Him before it is too late.  Bow before the Maker of the world, the Maker of you, the Maker of salvation, the Maker of redemption.  Is He the Maker of your salvation, your redemption?  Only you and God know the answer to that.

Salvation is not only a prayer.  It is a belief.  It is a bowing down before the one and only God and reaching for His mercy scepter.  He has only one mercy scepter, and it is held in the hand of Christ Jesus.  Would you not receive His mercy?  Would you not hold out your heart, to be pardoned by the mercy of His death on the cross?  Would you deny yourself His everlasting love?

Christ is coming back.  It will be unexpected.  It will be the worst moment in history for those who serve a different king.  It will be more frightening for them than I can put in words.  God’s heart longs that no one should experience this everlasting terror.  But He will not hold back His Kingdom forever.  Justice must come.  And justice must rule.

It will be one of the two best moments in history for those who know Him as their God.  I am sure there will be unspeakable fright in seeing the Heavens torn open and the Son of God descending.  And I am sure there will be an unimaginable terror as they see, once and for all, how unworthy we all really are of His love.

But there will be utter adoration and incredulous joy when Jesus calls those people His children.  It goes back to the other best moment in the history of those who know Him as their God.  The moment in which Christ rose up from the grave as the undefeated King of all, holding the keys of death and Hell in His nail-scarred hand.

This same God who rips open the skies and shakes the foundations of the earth with His trumpet call, this same God who casts into Hell sinners who have refused His payment for their debt, is the very same God who opened His hands for nails to be driven in, who knelt chained before the flogger’s whip, who offered His face to be spit upon for the payment of our debt.

This is the God we will all face, whether by death or His return, and we must all ask ourselves,

Am I ready to stand in His judgment hall?  Am I ready to look upon His face?

If Jesus is not your King, and your heart is longing to be right with God’s Son, cry out to Him.  He is waiting to hold His mercy scepter out to you.  He came to earth for the purpose of saving you, to the glory of God, because God glories in sinners running to Him.  What does this say about God?  By His very nature He is so kind, so merciful, that He glories in sinners running to Him.

Here is a prayer if you want Him to be your King right now.  Remember the prayer must be from a heart of belief, not recitation.

Jesus,

I want You to be my King.  I’m scared because I don’t want to stand before You with my sin.  I need Your mercy.  Please pour Your sacrifice over me.  I want Your death to count for me.  I want You to raise me up in Your resurrection.  Help me to be Your servant.  Teach me through Your Word, the Bible, and let me be like a little child listening with an open heart to the most beloved Teacher.  Bring me to meet Your servants and find friendship with them.  Bring me to wise servants who can mentor me and a trusted servant who can pastor me.  Show me what You want from Your new servant.

In the Name of my King, Jesus,

Amen.

If Jesus is already your King, would you take up this commitment with me?

King Jesus,

Forgive me for so many times living like a lazy servant or acting like a servant who serves another king.  I can’t live this way.  My heart’s desire is to be faithful to You.  I want to stand before You and kneel at Your throne knowing I have served my King, not that I have squandered my precious hours in Your fields.  Jesus, I can’t even be a servant without Your grace.  Teach me how to be a good and faithful servant.  Give me the courage and love to serve You to my utmost.

In Your Name, by Your Gift,

Amen.

But my life is worth nothing to me unless I use it for finishing the work assigned me by the Lord Jesus; the work of telling others the Good News about the wonderful grace of God. (Acts 20:24)

If I don’t judge anyone, will that mean that God won’t judge me?

“Do not judge others, and you will not be judged. For you will be treated as you treat others. The standard you use in judging is the standard by which you will be judged.

“And why worry about a speck in your friend’s eye when you have a log in your own? How can you think of saying to your friend, ‘Let me help you get rid of that speck in your eye,’ when you can’t see past the log in your own eye? Hypocrite! First get rid of the log in your own eye; then you will see well enough to deal with the speck in your friend’s eye. (Matthew 7:1-5, NLT)

As for me, it matters very little how I might be evaluated by you or by any human authority. I don’t even trust my own judgment on this point. My conscience is clear, but that doesn’t prove I’m right. It is the Lord himself who will examine me and decide.

So don’t make judgments about anyone ahead of time—before the Lord returns. For he will bring our darkest secrets to light and will reveal our private motives. Then God will give to each one whatever praise is due. (1 Corinthians 4:3-5, NLT)

You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge the other, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things. (Romans 2:1, NIV)

I’m pretty good with coming up with formulas about God.

This would look like one of those capital times for an “If-Then” formula about God:

If I don’t judge, then God will not judge me.

All I need to do is peace out, right?  I’ve seen pictures of teenagers from my mom’s high school era.  I’ve already got the long hair.  I’ll wear flowered bell bottoms and dangle a necklace from my forehead and I’ll be good.  Right?

Not so much.  The actual hippie movement couldn’t be categorized as nonjudgmental, because most were opposed to the war.  That is a judgment statement.

A republican and a democrat of course can’t be called nonjudgmental, but neither can the person who doesn’t vote.  He or she is making the judgment that it’s better not to vote at all.

God doesn’t say He will judge us by our judgments.  He says He will judge us by our standards.  In other words, to the degree we judge others, we’re getting judged.

We all probably know some really judgmental people.

Most of us probably know those really judgmental people are actually us.

I can’t resist being judgmental.  It’s like resisting air.  When I get all blue in the face, I’ve just got to make a judgment.  I can’t resist.

When I watch the news, I judge.  I have a filter in my brain that always wants to place people’s choices in the “bad” or “good”.  Even if my judgments are that thingsaren’tbad, I am still judging.  I can’t get away from it on my own.

To judge is to know there is right and wrong.  It doesn’t mean we know what to put where, but all judges know there is a right and wrong that everything must be funneled into.

No matter who we are, we are going to judge.  That means that, no matter who we are, we are going to be judged.

So we are not off the hook for Judgment Day.

But what did Jesus mean when He said,

“Do not judge others, and you will not be judged.  For you will be treated as you treat others. The standard you use in judging is the standard by which you will be judged.”

There is a way to stop judgment from happening to me.  But it isn’t by pretending I don’t judge.  I’ve got to stop impersonating the judge and hand my fake authority over to the real Judge.

The truth is, I don’t know what I’m talking about when I judge.  I don’t get the weight of our own sin and I don’t get the objective view of what sin looks like from righteous ground.  I live in sin, not just with sin.  When I try to judge the sin I live with, I forget I have sin in me that blocks me from seeing without bias.

I’m like a judge trying to judge the dishonest dealings of a business.  The only problem is, my night job is working at that very business, and I’m a mile-high in all the corruption.  If I condemn the business, I’m condemned, too.  And if I don’t condemn the business . . well, who would really believe I was fair in that judgment?

All of us judge, and we like it.  It feels pretty good to wear a wig and a robe and hold a gavel.  I think we all know in our hearts, though, that one day we’re going to have to step down.

We can wait for Jesus to return and take the gavel from our hands . . . and we’ll have to crawl to the hot seat without one defense and without any Fifth Amendment to hide behind . . or we can find Jesus now and hand over our gavel and say, “Jesus, You are the Judge.  Forgive me for impersonating.”

Since God is the real Judge, I know something right away: I am going to have to be right with Him.

If I was guilty of the worst crime in history and a day away from certain conviction, and I suddenly found out that the Judge had a Son who had the power to pay for my crime so I could stand before Him totally innocent, what do you think I would do?

I would run–not walk–to the Judge’s Son and throw myself down before Him.

It’s what every Christian has ever done.  Christianity is falling at the feet of the Judge’s Son.

Salvation is Jesus saving me from judgment by taking all condemnation on Himself.

No more judging for me.  I give up my aloof-and-gravely-mistaken seating on the Judge’s throne.  And I go down to the defendant’s seat where I belong.  Jesus is not my lawyer, but my Treasurer.  He reaches not into His pockets, but into His body, and He pays for my crimes with His blood.

So I have learned this rule: When I want to do good, evil is there with me. In my mind, I am happy with God’s law. But I see another law working in my body, which makes war against the law that my mind accepts. That other law working in my body is the law of sin, and it makes me its prisoner. What a miserable man I am! Who will save me from this body that brings me death?I thank God for saving me through Jesus Christ our Lord!

So in my mind I am a slave to God’s law, but in my sinful self I am a slave to the law of sin.

So now, those who are in Christ Jesus are not judged guilty. Through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit that brings life made you free from the law that brings sin and death. The law was without power, because the law was made weak by our sinful selves. But God did what the law could not do. He sent his own Son to earth with the same human life that others use for sin. By sending his Son to be an offering for sin, God used a human life to destroy sin. (Romans 7:21-8:3, NCV)

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See Copyright Page for Bible translation information.

Portfolio

When I think of the word “portfolio” I think of two things: a shiny leather briefcase, and my huge, wide, very large binder packed with artifacts from my college time learning to be an educator.

I took my portfolio very seriously.  I made sure the best projects, eccentrically proofread to be as error-free as possible, were placed meticulously inside the portfolio.

Now I am usually a messy person, but my portfolio was meticulous.  There was something about the ability to graduate, get a job–that kind of thing.  I found that motivating.

I could have tied my portfolio around my wrist at night so that, in the event of a fire, my portfolio would have tagged along behind me.  I might have broken my little twiggy arm in the process, but insurance could have paid for a broken arm.  Insurance could not have paid for my portfolio.  There is no insurance certificate you can bring to job interviews with you that vouches that you used to have a portfolio, and it was really great, but it got destroyed in a fire.

Now, with as much as I valued my portfolio, with as much as I treasured it, with as much as I treated it like something that belonged in an art museum in France (only the best for my portfolio), you would think I would bring it to the biggest interview opportunity of my hopeful career.

I did not.

It wasn’t that I forgot it–although if you were thinking that’s what it was, I don’t blame you.  And if you weren’t, bless you for not knowing me very well.

No, the reason I did not bring my portfolio to my district interview was because I had gotten bad information.  I thought I didn’t need to, that it was irrelevant to the meeting.  I don’t remember who had told me what, but I think it was part their misunderstanding and part my bad inference.

I thought my portfolio was irrelevant to the meeting.

When the interviewers asked me something like, “Did you bring a portfolio?” it was like, one of those moments where you know you’re going to crash into a brick wall and you know you’re the one driving.  I was dumbfounded.  I was astonished.  I felt so, so stupid.

I think I tried to tell them how great my portfolio was, and how I could bring it to them to look at.  I knew exactly how this sounded.

It was pretty depressing, all right.  I was angry and I felt like a fool.  I was a fool.

I got no follow-up calls after that interview.

I had all the information I needed to present myself as a success, and I had left it behind, beyond recovery.

As bad as that was, that was nothing like what it’s going to be for people who stand at the gates of Heaven to meet the Judge and realize they can’t enter because they left their pardon behind.  And realize they are beyond recovery.

I’ve heard it pointed out that a pardon only works if it’s received[1].  A rejected pardon is still good, but does not work for the person who rejected it.

The greatest trick of Satan I know it to convince people to leave their pardon behind.  He tells them that they don’t need it, that it’s irrelevant.

And then we all wake up one day and face the Judge.

“Now listen! Today I am giving you a choice between life and death, between prosperity and disaster.” (The LORD, quoted in Deuteronomy 30:15, NLT)

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[1] This paragraph is credited to Gary Varvel, from his explanation of salvation on the bonus features of The Board DVD.

Photograph by Kelly Teague, profile on http://www.flickr.com/people/span112/

Photograph is under Creative Commons License.

See Copyright Page for Bible translation information.

The issue is, how do you know when a baby’s life begins?

From Come What May:

“The issue is, how do you know when a baby’s life begins?”

“That’s not a biology question you know . . . No, biology has nothing to do with it . . . Just pick any time when you know the baby is alive.”

“The day he’s born.”

“All right.  What about the day before that?  Is the baby alive the day before that?”

“Of course.”

“And how about the day before that?”

“Sure.”

“Okay then.  There you have it.”

“What do you mean?”

“Life doesn’t begin incrementally.  It’s not like the baby was any more alive today than he was the day before . . . It’s radical.  It’s an event.  And it only happens once in a human’s existence.”

“At conception.”

“No other explanation makes sense.”

Come What May

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I am convinced, more and more, that the question is not whether or not we know when life begins.

The question is what we will do about it.

I am not interested in getting into debates about abortion any more than I am interested in getting into a debate about whether or not the Rwandan genocide was acceptable or whether or not Hitler had a right to murder Jews.  I know what is wrong.  I know what is killing.  I don’t need clever arguments or even logic to figure it out.  I know it in my heart, more surely than I know that 1 + 1 = 2.

Don’t excuse yourself by saying, “Look, we didn’t know.” For God understands all hearts, and he sees you. He who guards your soul knows you knew. He will repay all people as their actions deserve. (Proverbs 24:12, NLT)

I don’t sit in a judgment seat, looking down on others.  I am as worthy of condemnation as anyone else.  I have broken God’s law many times, and God, who understands my heart, as Proverbs 24:12 says, knows I knew what I was doing.   I can’t point fingers at anyone or accuse them of anything.

But I can, and I must, carry the message of God, that He will judge us as our actions deserve, as Proverbs 24:12 warns.  That includes all sin, not only abortion.  No one (including and especially me) is able to stand righteous before the judgment seat of God . . . no one, except Christ.

If we follow Christ, the great hope we have is that Christ judges the world.  And if we do not follow Christ, the great terror we have is that Christ judges the world.

One day, all of us will give an accounting for what we have done and not done.  And there will be no arguing with God.  There will be no room for opinions.  And there will be no way to pretend we didn’t know what we knew.  There will be only His holy rule–terror for those who reject Him, mercy for those who trust Him.

In a world filled with the spilled blood of the innocent, we desperately need to fall at the cross of Christ and beg for His healing in our lives, in the lives of our friends, for all who live in our broken nation, and for all who live in our broken world.

If we do not repent, we will find ourselves standing at the judgment seat of God with a sea of witnesses against us . . . including all who we killed who have never even met us.

One day, we will know them.

For judgment is without mercy to one who has shown no mercy. (James 2:13a, ESV)

But this is not the way the verse ends.

Mercy triumphs over judgment. (James 2:13b, ESV)

For God presented Jesus as the sacrifice for sin. People are made right with God when they believe that Jesus sacrificed his life, shedding his blood. This sacrifice shows that God was being fair when he held back and did not punish those who sinned in times past, for he was looking ahead and including them in what he would do in this present time. God did this to demonstrate his righteousness, for he himself is fair and just, and he declares sinners to be right in his sight when they believe in Jesus. (Romans 3:26, NLT)

Cost

I can’t afford the cost of judgment.

There will be no mercy for those who have not shown mercy to others. But if you have been merciful, God will be merciful when he judges you. (James 2:13, NLT)

“Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.” (Matthew 5:7, NIV)

“For if you forgive others their offenses, your Heavenly Father will forgive you also; but if you do not forgive others their offenses, neither will your Father forgive yours.” (Matthew 6:14-15, Weymouth NT)

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Photograph by Daniel Borman, profile on http://www.flickr.com/people/dborman2/

Photograph is under Creative Commons License.

See Copyright Page for Bible translation information.

Published in: on September 5, 2011 at 7:28 am  Leave a Comment  
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