Series: Living in the Kingdom Pt. 42
Message – …by My Spirit VI
We are sorry to report that our normal recorder was down, so the quality is rather poor this week.
Living in the Kingdom…by My Spirit says the Lord
This is our 3rd week we are looking at what it mean to BE a living witness.
1Cor. 2:12 “Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit Who is from God, THAT WE MIGHT KNOW the things that have been freely given to us by God.”
Every Christian is called to be a Living Witness or a Testimony. This WAS and IS the great commission. As of last week we discovered the following about being Living Witness:
- God has appointed Apostles, Prophets, Evangelists, Pastor-Teachers…etc. to establish us as living testimonies.
- We ARE His “letters” – written by the Holy Spirit!
- Jesus IS our message.
- We are partnered with the Holy Spirit in His work of giving testimony to Christ.
- A witness is something you ARE by nature and experience – NOT something you do!
- You Testimony serves three purposes…
- It strengthens your brothers in Christ
- It is a testimony to the world
- It will be used as a testimony against Satan when he is judged!
This week we are going to take a more personal approach to the topic and looking at:
- What hinders our Testimony.
- What empowers our Testimony.
- How we can turn a weakness into a strength.
What Hinders our Testimony?
Reflecting ourselves instead of Christ.
Nothing hinders and works against the Christian’s testimony more than handling life’s problems like the world.
We share our “faith” with others, telling them that life in Christ is SO much better than what our lives were like before.
- The deep inner loneliness we once experienced is gone.
- Life has a transcendent meaning now, where it used to be very self-focused and unfulfilling.
- We are part of a larger community who knows and loves us not only IN our sins, but effectively encourages and empowers us out of our sins.
- We have a continual and immediate respite from the world and it’s depressive & oppressive ways.
- We have a loving and kind Father Who helps us, to Whom we can confide and from Whom we receive comfort and help in times of trouble.
This already is a terrible testimony.
Who can tell me why? It is NOT sharing our “faith”, it is painting a rosy picture about our experiences. It is more about how salvation effects us than it is about the Lord of our Salvation.
Any real Testimony is about HIM – NOT US!
A self-focused testimony is not valid and is ultimately tied to our emotional state rather than our genuine faith.
Furthermore, because such things are the center of our focus…when we “feel” like they are not true, we live depressive, depressing lives marked more by complaint and defeat than gratitude and victory.
The Temple Lampstand as an example of Living Testimony
Remember the candelabra in the tabernacle?
What did it symbolize…what did it teach about our union with God?
“(31) You are to make a lampstand out of pure, hammered gold. It is to be made of one piece: its base and shaft, its ornamental cups, and its calyxes and petals. (32) Six branches are to extend from its sides, three branches of the lampstand from one side and three branches of the lampstand from the other side. (33) There are to be three cups shaped like almond blossoms, each with a calyx and petals, on the first branch, and three cups shaped like almond blossoms, each with a calyx and petals, on the next branch. It is to be this way for the six branches that extend from the lampstand. (34) There are to be four cups shaped like almond blossoms on the lampstand shaft along with its calyxes and petals. (35) For the six branches that extend from the lampstand, a calyx must be under the first pair of branches from it, a calyx under the second pair of branches from it, and a calyx under the third pair of branches from it. (36) Their calyxes and branches are to be of one piece. All of it is to be a single hammered piece of pure gold. (37) “Make seven lamps on it. Its lamps are to be set up so they illuminate the area in front of it. (38) Its snuffers and firepans must be of pure gold. (39) The lampstand with all these utensils is to be made from 75 pounds of pure gold. (40) Be careful to make everything according to the model of them you have been shown on the mountain.”
Everything about the lampstand speaks fruitful unity!
- It had six lighting platforms where wicks were placed on top of the six branches.
- The branches and the center staff was hallow to hold and transport olive oil to the wicks.
- It had six branches, each with three complete almond blossoms (calyx & petals).
- Almond in Hebrew means “the awakening one”, because the almond tree was the first tree to “awake” from the slumber of winter and blossom. So it spoke metaphorically of the speedy and powerful result of light.
- It had one central staff out of which the branches came.
- It had one base out of which the central staff rose.
- It was all made from one single piece of gold which represents Deity.
This is the family portrait of God.
The base supporting the entire lampstand (family) represents God the Father.
The center staff out of which the six branches come and bear fruit and light is Christ Jesus.
The branches that fruit and bear light are the body of Christ.
The oil in the lamp is the Holy Spirit, flowing from Christ the center of our lives…into and through us to cause us to bear fruit and shine our light before men.
The lampstand was made in such as way as to cast the light before the stand itself. This both illuminated the shewbread table and drew attention to the center staff of the lampstand. The bread of the shewbread table was called lechem ha’panim, that is, “bread of the face” or, “bread of the Presence (of God).”
What does this have to do with being a Living Witness or Testimony?
Everything we do is from Him and for Him and unto His glory! If we fail in this first task, we cannot be a faithful Witness of Christ.
So what hinders our Witness or Testimony of Christ is when our lives are such, that when people look at us, they only see US and not Christ. This is the result of a heart devoted to it’s own causes. It is self-focus, pride or as Tozer puts it – Self-love. It breaks Testimony because it breaks the first and greatest commandment – “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul and strength.
What Empowers our Testimony?
Looking expectantly at Christ & listening attentively to the Holy Spirit!
“Not by might, nor by power, but by My Spirit says the Lord.”
Our power to live a godly Testimony is the Holy Spirit of God!
The heart that holds their Lord in devoted love, need not fear the scorn of a bad Testimony.
Look at Hebrews 12:1-6,
“(1) Therefore since we also have such a large cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us lay aside every weight and the sin that so easily ensnares us, and run with endurance the race that lies before us, (2) keeping our eyes on Jesus, the source and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that lay before Him endured a cross and despised the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of God’s throne. (3) For consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself, so that you won’t grow weary and lose heart. (4) In struggling against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. (5) And you have forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons: My son, do not take the Lord’s discipline lightly, or faint when you are reproved by Him; (6) for the Lord disciplines the one He loves, and punishes every son whom He receives.”
Jesus told us that the Spirit of Truth would come and reveal to us Jesus!
“(26) When the Counselor comes, the One I will send to you from the Father–the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father–He will testify about Me.”
“(13) When the Spirit of truth comes, He will guide you into all the truth. For He will not speak on His own, but He will speak whatever He hears. He will also declare to you what is to come. (14) He will glorify Me, because He will take from what is Mine and declare it to you. (15) Everything the Father has is Mine. This is why I told you that He takes from what is Mine and will declare it to you. (16) “A little while and you will no longer see Me; again a little while and you will see Me.”
“(25) And this is the promise that He Himself made to us: eternal life. (26) I have written these things to you about those who are trying to deceive you. (27) The anointing you received from Him remains in you, and you don’t need anyone to teach you. Instead, His anointing teaches you about all things, and is true and is not a lie; just as it has taught you, remain in Him. (28) So now, little children, remain in Him, so that when He appears we may have boldness and not be ashamed before Him at His coming. (29) If you know that He is righteous, you know this as well: everyone who does what is right has been born of Him.”
How we can turn a weakness into a strength?
Embracing our union and communion.
“(8) Concerning this, I pleaded with the Lord three times to take it away from me. (9) But He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Therefore, I will most gladly boast all the more about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may reside in me. (10) So because of Christ, I am pleased in weaknesses, in insults, in catastrophes, in persecutions, and in pressures. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
Properly translated it read, “A tent spike – something to frustrate, afflict and cause me trouble was inflicted upon me.
What is a thorn in the flesh? This term is used several times with various wordings in the Bible and is always used in reference to people hindering progress or causing trouble.
When we think of a thorn, we think of a somewhat minor irritation, but the root word Paul uses for thorn here describes a tent stake, not a splinter!
In the ancient Greek translation of the Old Testament known as the Septuagint, the word thorn skolops shows “something which frustrates and causes trouble in the lives of those afflicted.”
This was given to Paul to hinder his being elevated beyond measure.
This is actually a compound Greek word huperaírō. From hupér (G5228), above and aírō (G142), to lift up. So accurately translated it means – To lift up above.
While this CAN mean in “pride”, one can hardly attribute to satan a desire to keep someone from pride. No, the meaning is most certainly more akin to that found in James 4:10,
“Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.”
There is nothing inherently evil about being lifted up above. David uses a similar phrase in the Old Testament in a positive light.
“And now my head shall be lifted up above my enemies all around me, and I will offer in His tent sacrifices with shouts of joy; I will sing and make melody to the LORD.”
We will be spending more time looking at Living Witnesses next week….Blessings!
I hope this teaching will challenge you and encourage you to place your trust in the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord.
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