Tag Archives: sacrifice

What do you enjoy about Christmas?

For children, Christmas is frequently a time when they enjoy receiving gifts. The gifts are frequently toys or games that they have been wanting. The gifts come from parents, grandparents, teachers, leaders of the various activities in which they are involved.

As we get older, we enjoy the gifts from a special someone. They could be our best friends, the person we are dating at the time, or some other person that has a special meaning to our life.

As adults, we enjoy the gifts from our children or family members. We especially enjoy the company of our families and friends. We enjoy eating together, watching sport events of Christmas programs where our children, grandchildren, or great-grandchildren are participating.

As we grow older, the things that we enjoy about Christmas seem to move from material things to relationships that we develop over the years.

God wants us to enjoy a relationship with Him.

In the Old Testament when man sinned, there was a price to pay for those sins. The price was the shedding of blood of an innocent animal. People were required to go to the high priest to make these sacrifices.

The animals that were sacrificed were animals that did not have any blemishes. In other words, they needed to be “perfect” animals or in some cases doves. In most cases, they were sheep or lambs. The sacrifices were made to please God. People were required to obey the commandments and laws that God gave them. There salvation was based on what they did or did not do.

Making a sacrifice was something they were supposed to do when they had sinned against God or the fellow man. However, one day that changed. God loved us so much that he wanted us to be his children. He wanted to have a relationship with his children. He wanted the love of his children. He was going to send a sacrifice that would be for everybody. He was not going to force this relationship on people but rather have them love him willfully.

God had a plan. He was going to send his son Jesus down to earth to show His love for us. Jesus would be born as a baby and experience life on earth. He was going to show people how to love. Jesus taught us about his father and what the Father’s will was for his children. Jesus taught us who God is.

Jesus lived a perfect life while on earth. He did not live to have a high self-esteem; he did not live to please other people; he did not live to condemn the world. Jesus lived to do the will of his Father. Everything Jesus did was the will of his Father and not his own will.

After a short life on this earth, Jesus laid down his life for our sins. He became the perfect sacrifice. However, unlike the sacrifices made in the Old Testament, Jesus was raised to life again. JESUS WAS VICTORIOUS OVER DEATH!

Because Jesus was victorious over death, we who believe in him will be victorious over death also. We will be able to live eternally with our Father in Heaven! In eternity, we will no longer experience sickness, disappointment, separation, etc. We will have an eternal relationship with God the Father. We will be coheirs with Jesus. Everything that the Father has will be at our disposal. What a wonderful gift God gave us that first Christmas morning!

There is only one way to receive the gift of eternal life with God the Father. In John 14:6, Jesus said that He was the “way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

You cannot receive the gift of eternal life just by knowing who God is, by belonging to a certain church or religious cult, by living a good life; you can only receive eternal life through Jesus Christ.

God does not want us to be selfish and keep this gift for ourselves; rather He wants us to share this unending gift with everyone we meet. God wants our lives to be a demonstration of who He is and not who we are.

This Christmas remember and enjoy the real reason Jesus came that Christmas night. Because Jesus came on Christmas and became the perfect sacrifice for our sin, we can live in peace even when the world seems to be falling apart and people fear what the future holds.

Jesus gave his followers these promises:

“Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going.” John 14:1-4(NIV)

Later in that same chapter, Jesus said:

26 But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. 27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. John 14:26-27(NIV)

Over 65 Years ago, I accepted the gift of salvation made possible because Jesus was born, lived, and paid the price for my sin. Over those years, I have experienced disappointments, losses, persecution, loneliness, financial loss, times of physical difficulty, yes, and even times of war. However, through these times, I have felt the peace of God that he gives to those who believe in Him.

This Christmas season accepts God’s gift of salvation. Experience the peace that only God can give.

Merry Christmas

NOTE: all scripture in this blog were downloaded from www.Biblegateway.com December 13, 2015

Finding Yourself or Finding God?

We live it a society that has many artificial foods. Each product is intended to be just like the genuine product. In fact, they even use a name that indicates that you cannot tell the difference between the two products. When many of these products are tested years later, the results of the test show that the product may in fact be harmful.

Christianity is no different that these foods. There are people who will try to convince you that you can become god. Many of you have heard the phrase “I can do all things.” People will tell you that it is in the Bible so it must be true.

Philippians 4:13 (NKJV) Paul says: I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. When you read the entire text you will find that Paul is giving God the credit for all that God has allowed him to do. However, the message that people like to hear is: “I can do all things by my own strength.” This makes them feel important. They believe they can do anything they want to do.

Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming and even now is already in the world. 1 John 4:1-3(NIV)

Being focused on self and wanting to be god is not a new concept. It has been around since Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit. Today people are still listening to Satan’s argument. However, if we want to know real thing, we will find that the opposite is true; we cannot do anything without God’s strength. The Bibles says if we want to know the real joy of following Jesus, we must deny ourselves, in other words, we must become nothing and let Christ become everything.

Luke says it this way in Luke 9:23-26:

Then he said to them all: Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. 24 For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it. 25 What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit their very self? Luke 9:23-25(NIV)

What are the results of following your fleshly desires and doing whatever you please?

The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God. Galatians 5:19-21(NIV)

What happens when you sacrifice your fleshly desires, and follow God’s leading?

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other. Galatians 5:25-26(NIV)

Throughout the Old Testament, God shows the results of His power and the results of man’s power. Repeatedly God overpowers fleshly man. For instance, in the story of David and Goliath, Goliath is thinking that he could do whatever he pleased. He thinks he is infallible. His daily routine was to come before Saul’s army and dare them to kill him. However, when David saw Goliath and heard what Goliath was saying, David was determined to slay the giant.

God had been with David when a lion attack his sheep and again when a bear attack his sheep. David had experience God’s power in his own life. He knew God would give him the strength to slay Goliath.

David got permission from the King to stand against Goliath. This is what David said to Goliath after Goliath ridiculed him for being only a little boy.

“You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the Lord Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. This day the Lord will deliver you into my hands, and I’ll strike you down and cut off your head. This very day I will give the carcasses of the Philistine army to the birds and the wild animals, and the whole world will know that there is a God in Israel. All those gathered here will know that it is not by sword or spear that the Lord saves; for the battle is the Lord’s, and he will give all of you into our hands.” 1 Samuel 17:45-47(NIV)

David did kill Goliath. He did not kill the giant because he was god and could do it in his own strength. He did it because of the strength of the God of Israel.

Throughout the Gospels, the writers tell of God’s power through the life of His son Jesus. After the death of Jesus, God showed his awesome power by raising Jesus from the dead, thus overcoming death. It is because God gave Jesus victory over death that we will be able to live forever in Heaven. There has never been another person who has been able to overcome dead.

God has shown His love to us by sending His only begotten Son into the world that we may have eternal life. If we cannot believe the power and love that God has already shown to us, we will never have the eternal satisfaction of being reconciled to God for eternity. Adam and Eve were satisfied for a very short time as they tasted the forbidden fruit, but guilt soon took over and they hid from God.

Trust God with all your actions. Rely on His strength and not your own strength. God gives you hope for tomorrow but following selfish desires only brings hopelessness.

 

NOTE: All scripture used in this blog have been downloaded from www.biblegateway.com

Why Did Jesus Suffer?

The amount of our sin did not affect the degree of Jesus suffering. It was God’s plan, not our plan that caused Jesus to suffer. God did not have Jesus suffer so we would feel guilty about our sin, nor did he suffer so we would be proud of how sinful we were. In the very beginning, God planned for Jesus to suffer so we would not have to suffer. In fact, that was the very reason that Jesus came to earth. God caused Jesus to suffer so we could see how much God loved us, not to show how much we sinned.

 Yet it was the Lord’s will to crush him and cause him to suffer, and though the Lord makes his life an offering for sin, he will see his offspring and prolong his days, and the will of the Lord will prosper in his hand. After he has suffered, he will see the light of life and be satisfied; by his knowledge my righteous servant will justify many, and he will bear their iniquities. Therefore I will give him a portion among the great, and he will divide the spoils with the strong, because he poured out his life unto death, and was numbered with the transgressors. For he bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors. Isaiah 53:10-12(NIV)

Jesus wanted to follow the human way when he went to Gethsemane to pray. He did not want to suffer for our sin so he asked God to take the cup of suffering from him. And three times he prayed that it not be his will, but God’s will be done. (Matthew 26:39, 42, 43) Three times Jesus surrendered His will to His Father’s will.

Jesus also told his disciples that the spirit was strong but his flesh was weak. The human nature that Jesus was given, wanted him to forgo the suffering.

36 Then Jesus went with his disciples to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to them, “Sit here while I go over there and pray.” 37 He took Peter and the two sons of Zebedee along with him, and he began to be sorrowful and troubled. 38 Then he said to them, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.”

39 Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.”

40 Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. “Couldn’t you men keep watch with me for one hour?” he asked Peter. 41 “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”

42 He went away a second time and prayed, “My Father, if it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, may your will be done.”

43 When he came back, he again found them sleeping, because their eyes were heavy. 44 So he left them and went away once more and prayed the third time, saying the same thing.

45 Then he returned to the disciples and said to them, “Are you still sleeping and resting? Look, the hour has come, and the Son of Man is delivered into the hands of sinners. 46 Rise! Let us go! Here comes my betrayer!” Matthew 26:36-46(NIV)

God made Jesus suffer so we would not have to suffer for our sin. Jesus became the blood sacrifice that satisfied our sin debt.

As we think about Jesus death and resurrection, let us not get caught up in the suffering of Jesus. Do not dwell on our past sins, God does not remember them anymore so why should we?  Rather, let us think about God’s great love for us. Let us think about the victory that Jesus won when he became victorious over death.

“This is the covenant I will make with the people of Israel after that time,” declares the Lord. “I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people.  No longer will they teach their neighbor, or say to one another, ‘Know the Lord,’ because they will all know me,  from the least of them to the greatest,” declares the Lord. “For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.” Jeremiah 31:33-34(NIV)

God loved us so much that he provided a way for us to overcome the damage that Adam and Eve caused when they ate the forbidden fruit. Through Jesus death and resurrection, the penalty for our sin was paid in full, we have been adopted into God’s family, and we can enjoy a restored relationship with God.

Have a happy Easter, basking in God’s love and the freedom we have in Christ Jesus!

NOTE: All scripture used in this blog was downloaded from: www.biblegateway.com, March 28, 2015

How Christ-like are You?

Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.” Philippians 2:1-4 (NIV)

When people think about being like Christ, they frequently look at the thing Jesus did early in his ministry and not his whole ministry. What did Jesus do?

  • Fed the poor and homeless
  • Cared for widows
  • Healed the sick
  • Loved the unlovely
  • Prayed
  • Sacrificed fleshly pleasure

We frequently do the first four things on our list, but fail to do the last two. Several times in the Bible it records that Jesus prayed:

During busy days, he prayed.

But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed. Luke 5:6(NIV)

Jesus prayed before he began  the day.

Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed. Mark 1:35(NIV)

Jesus prayed for other people

But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.” Luke 22:32(NIV)

Jesus prayed for all believers:

“My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, 21 that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 22 I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one— 23 I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.

24 “Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world.

25 “Righteous Father, though the world does not know you, I know you, and they know that you have sent me. 26 I have made you known to them, and will continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me may be in them and that I myself may be in them.” John 17:20-26(NIV)

Jesus prayed that God would be glorified

After Jesus said this, he looked toward heaven and prayed: “Father, the hour has come. Glorify your Son, that your Son may glorify you. John 17:1(NIV)

But the most important prayer was when Jesus sacrificed his fleshly desire to do the Father’s will. In fact, this was so important that he prayed the same prayer three times. Jesus was struggling with his fleshly desire.

Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.” Matthew 26:39 (NIV)

He went away a second time and prayed, “My Father, if it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, may your will be done.” Matthew 26:42(NIV)

So he left them and went away once more and prayed the third time, saying the same thing. Matthew 26:44(NIV)

The primary thing that Jesus did was to glorify the Father. To glorify the father, Jesus had to sacrifice his fleshly desire and do what the Father asked him to do.

If we are going to glorify the Father as Jesus did, we also need to pray for God’s will.  We need to sacrifice our fleshly desire so we can do the will of the Father.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. 24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. 26 Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other. Galatians 5:22-26(NIV)

If we are going to feed the poor and homeless, care for widows, heal the sick, love the unloved; we cannot follow our fleshly desires. When we do these things in our own way, we are only doing a legalistic act to show God how much we love him but in reality we are seeking our glory…not the Father’s glory; we a providing an inferior  love, an inferior  joy, an inferior  peace, an inferior  forbearance, an inferior  kindness, an inferior  goodness, an inferior  faithfulness, and an inferior  gentleness, and an inferior  demonstration of self-control.

The only way that we can provide genuine, spiritual fruit is when we have sacrificed our fleshly desire and determined to do the Father’s will. Do you really want to do the Father’s will or do you want people to see how “Christ-like” you are?

NOTE: Scripture verses in this article were downloaded from Biblegateway.com.