The Call Of God . . . Getting Something Unexpected And Unwanted

Grace For The Journey

2018BlogTheme

16Nov Jeremiah is led by the Holy Spirit to write in Jeremiah 20:7-10a, “O LORD You enticed, and I was persuaded; You are stronger than I, and have prevailed.  I am in derision daily; everyone mocks me.  For when I spoke, I cried out; I shouted, ‘violence and plunder!’ Because the word of the LORD was made to me a reproach and a derision daily.  Then I said, ‘I will not make mention of Him, nor speak anymore in His name.’  But His word was in my heart like a burning fire shut up in my bones; I was weary of holding it back, and I could not.  For I heard many mocking: fear on every side!”

During high school and college I experienced the benefits of training and practice.  All athletes are familiar with the benefits of committing to these disciplines.  For example, for those who have the goal to begin the season in shape and ready for play, workouts in exercise, running, and cardio-stamina drills will help them do that; for those who have the goal of getting stronger, participating in a consistent weight training program will produce the desired result.  For those who have the goal of increasing speed, a systematic running and sprinting program would be the way to go.  Although this principle is also at work for the Christian who desires a closer walk with Jesus; if we consistently engage in the spiritual disciplines of Bible study, prayer, corporate worship, witnessing, service, giving, and so on, the one that does this is likely to find that God often gives us . . .

Something totally unexpected . . .

Perhaps even unwanted!

Today’s verses are an example of the unexpected.  The prophet Jeremiah did not foresee the trials and rejection he would endure when God called him into his prophetic ministry.  Jeremiah’s preaching ministry did not return the results he had expected.  Jeremiah was faithful to preach the Word of God, but his reward was beatings and prison.  While you and I may never see the inside of a dungeon, we often find ourselves in the same situation as Jeremiah:

Experiencing the exact opposite of what

We had expected God to do in our lives.

Tragically, when we are confronted by the unexpected, a root of bitterness may grow within us, diminishing God’s glory in our eyes and robbing us of the good God intended for us.

Our God is in the business of delivering the unexpected.  Because God sees the beginning from the end, He knows what is best and He orchestrates events to produce His perfect results – which are often completely unexpected!

Like Jeremiah, we do certain things

And expect certain results.

 Without realizing it,

We put our God in a box.

And once we do that,

We begin serving the “god” we wanted,

Rather than the God who is.

Here are three things to remember if we are going to have any measure of peace and joy in this life:

  1. There is a God.
  2. It is not me.
  3. And I don’t get a vote!

Regardless of where this message finds you today, remember that God is in the business of delivering the unexpected.

We all must keep these powerful words from our Lord before us:

“Be still, and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10).

The better we become at “being still,”

The better we will become at receiving the unexpected

And the freedom, joy, and faithfulness it is designed to deliver.

This is God’s Word For Today … This Is Grace For The Journey

Rest and Rejoice in this eternal truth!

Pastor Terry

Ephesians 4:7 – “But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.”

Hebrews 4:16 – “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”

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The Leprous Heart

Grace For The Journey

2018BlogTheme

15Nov  The Bible says in 2 Kings 5:20, “Gehazi, the servant of Elisha the man of God, said, ‘My master was has spared Naaman this Syrian, while not receiving from his hands what he brought; but as the Lord lives, I will run after him and take something from him.’”

The story of the prophet Elisha being used of God to heal Naaman of leprosy is well known by students of the Scriptures.  There is another story, however, that is closely associated with this miraculous event that is less familiar and perhaps more profound in its message:

The greed of Gehazi.

Naaman was the commander of the army of the king of Syria.  The Bible tells us that he was a mighty man of valor, but suffered from leprosy.  One day he sought out the prophet Elisha in order to be cured.  Naaman was displeased with the response he received from Elisha, but he was persuaded to do as he was instructed and went down to the Jordan, dipped himself in the river seven times, and his flesh was restored like the flesh of a little child.

Naaman was hugely grateful for his healing and wanted to reward Elisha, but Elisha refused.  Enter Elisha’s servant Gehazi, who had a leprous heart that was beating for things smaller than God.  Gehazi ran after Naaman, requesting the reward that Elisha had refused.  When Elisha discerned his servant’s actions, the prophet rebuked Gehazi for his greed, and Gehazi became as Naaman had been – a leper.

By nature, we all have a bit of Gehazi in us.

We have leprous hearts that beat

For the stuff of this world

Rather than for our Savior.

On the outside, Gehazi looked quite good to the watching world.  He was a servant of the great prophet Elisha, which brought Gehazi close to God and God’s Word continually.  He was immersed in an environment of spiritual and eternal things.  But his leprous heart was beating for that which was temporal, and eventually . . .

What he loved most

Rose to the surface of his life.

It always does!

What has your heart been beating for lately?  Things above or things below?  What have you been running after?  Do not be deceived as Gehazi was and think all is well inwardly simply because of your outward environment.  As a servant of the prophet Elisha, Gehazi was close to God outwardly, but deep inside, his heart was far from God.

Remember, it is not your religion – rooted in your church attendance, prayer life, daily devotions, and service to God – that guards you from a leprous heart.

It is always and in every way

Your right relationship with your Redeemer,

Because the ultimate reward in

Both life and death is Jesus.

This is God’s Word For Today … This Is Grace For The Journey

Rest and Rejoice in this eternal truth!

Pastor Terry

Ephesians 4:7 – “But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.”

Hebrews 4:16 – “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”

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Keep Your Eyes on the Prize

Grace For The Journey

2018BlogTheme

Woman looking with binoculars, DOF  What “prize” have you been looking for lately?  How are you spending your discretionary time and money?  It has been rightly observed that our checkbooks and our free time reveals a great deal about what we value most in life.

The Bible gives us the formula for keeping our eyes on the only prize that matters in life.  The Bible says in Philippians 3:13-15, “One thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Let those of us who are mature think this way, and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you.”

Let’s briefly unpack the Bible’s formula for keeping our eyes fixed on the prize that should be the object of our greatest affection.

  1. Forgetting what lies behind . . .

On the surface this seems to contradict what God says in other portions of Scripture when He says, “Remember . . . !”  So what does God mean here?

Paul is not telling us to forget the past.

He is telling us not to live in the past.

We are to treat the past like a school and take the lessons God would have us learn into our promised future.

Paul is not minimizing a painful past.  At some level, this is the reality for all of us simply because we are broken people living in a broken world with other broken people.  Yet . . .

God calls us to move beyond our past,

Regardless of the pain,

Aand enter into our promised future

By living fully in His power

And provision in the present.

You will remember that the Bible teaches that Paul’s painful past was marked by his participation in intense persecution of the church; had Paul focused on his past, he would have become a prisoner to it, rather than the man God called to pen most of the New Testament.

  1. Straining forward . . . press on toward the goal . . .

Forward motion in life is difficult.  God made that clear to Adam and Eve after they sinned in the Garden of Eden.  Life would be difficult, filled with trouble, trials, and tribulations.

The Bible says in Genesis 3:16-19, “I will surely multiply your pain in childbearing; in pain you shall bring forth children.  Your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you.”  And to Adam he said, “Because you have listened to the voice of your wife and have eaten of the tree of which I commanded you, ‘You shall not eat of it,’ cursed is the ground because of you; in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life; thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you; and you shall eat the plants of the field.  By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread, till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for you are dust, and to dust you shall return.”

  1. The prize . . .

Paul says in spite of our sin and struggles, there is a promised prize that is to be our motivation for moving forward, and it is the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.  In other words, Paul is pressing on into the truth of John 10:10 –

The abundant life in Jesus Christ.

God had already saved Paul

And called him to be His own.

Now Paul desires,

More than anything else,

The deepest experience

Of his salvation and union with Christ.

So his life is marked by fixing his eyes on the prize . . . Jesus Christ.

Paul closes out this section of Scripture by identifying those who live this kind of life:

He calls them “mature.”

  • Those who are mature do not prize possessions.
  • Those who are mature do not prize prosperity.
  • Those who are mature do not prize prestige.
  • Those who are mature do not prize pleasure.
  • Those who are mature prize only one thing: the Prince of Peace.

They organize their lives around the Lord Jesus Christ.

Jesus rules their hearts and ultimately shapes their lives;

They awake every morning thinking about Jesus.  They go throughout their day thinking about Jesus.  They retire in the evening thinking about Jesus.

Like Paul, they believe that to live is Christ!

Is this the confession of your life?  What has God been revealing to you lately?  Are you one of those who Paul identifies as “mature?”  Fix your eyes on the only prize that matters – in both life and death – and you will be.

This is God’s Word For Today … This Is Grace For The Journey

Rest and Rejoice in this eternal truth!

Pastor Terry

Ephesians 4:7 – “But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.”

Hebrews 4:16 – “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”

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The Keeper of the Gate

Grace For The Journey

2018BlogTheme

13Nov  The Bible says in Revelations 3:7, “And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write, ‘These things says He who is holy; He who is true,; He who had the key of David; He who opens and no one shuts, and shuts and no one opens.’”

Our God is the keeper of the gate into glory.  It is God who holds the key that unlocks the door leading to eternal life, and it is God who locks it behind us, keeping all who have entered eternally safe.  This is the words of encouragement and comfort not only given to church in Philadelphia about God’s sovereign power and purpose.  It is also a great word to believers today.

Here some incredible implications of this verse:

Salvation is rooted in . . .

  • God’s mercy – not our merit
  • God’s grace – not our good works
  • God’s good pleasure – not our posturing

The gate that allows access into eternal life is opened by God and God alone . . .

  • He is the one who extends His invitation;
  • He is the one who offers His mercy;
  • He is the one who pours out His grace on His adopted children.

When we receive God’s offer of salvation, by grace through faith, we can be assured that our home in heaven is irrevocably secured (Romans 11:29).

In addition . . .

The same gate that allows access into eternal life is closed and secured by God too.

What this means is that eternal life is assured and judgment is certain.  

You see, today is a day of invitation

For all those who stand outside the gate.

God in Christ has extended His invitation to everyone who will trust in Jesus Christ alone for eternal life.  The promise is eternal life for those who will abandon their self-salvation projects and transfer their trust to the Savior.  Jesus calls to all who will hear: “Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28)

The frightening flip side of this truth, however, is this:

Tomorrow may not be a day of invitation,

Because tomorrow may be that day

When we breathe our last and

The gate leading to eternal life

Is shut forever.

So, if you have acknowledged yourself to be a sinner in need of a Savior and have transferred your trust to Jesus Christ, rejoice!  Know that a banquet is being prepared for you this day; and one day soon you will be sitting at table with Jesus Christ.

To know that your salvation is secure is to know that there is nothing in the entire universe that can separate you from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:38-39) – not your sins in the past . . . nor your sins in the future . . . not Satan . . . nothing!  The door that was opened for you by your Savior has also been closed and locked behind you.  You couldn’t turn around and walk back out again even if you wanted to!  You are held securely and eternally in the hand of your Savior (John 10:28).

Does that truth not

Fill you with unimaginable strength

For the day ahead?

If Jesus has the ultimate authority as the keeper of the gate, He is absolutely sovereign over every detail of your life.  Nothing happens to you that doesn’t first pass through His nail-scarred hands.  And everything that happens to you, no matter how wonderful or dreadful it may seem in the moment, is taking place for two reasons:

God’s glory

And

Your eternal good.

Christian, you are held securely by the Keeper of the gate . . . you have His word on it!

This is God’s Word For Today … This Is Grace For The Journey

Rest and Rejoice in this eternal truth!

Pastor Terry

Ephesians 4:7 – “But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.”

Hebrews 4:16 – “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”

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The Weakness of Strengths

Grace For The Journey

2018BlogTheme

9Nov  We have a tendency to defend ourselves against the attacks of the evil one where we are the weakest.  But experience has taught me that Satan often attacks where we are seemingly the strongest. Today’s blog is designed to be both a comfort and a caution to you as you go throughout your day.

In John 13:37, the Bible records Peter asking, “Lord, why can I not follow You now? I will lay down my life for Your sake.”  In this verse we read of Peter’s sold-out commitment to his Savior.  Peter was confident in his commitment to Christ, but, ultimately, Peter’s confidence was in himself.  Peter was boasting of his own strength, and this is exactly where the devil found his foothold.

Peter was unaware of the weakness of his strengths.

We must all remember that the enemy’s attacks will come, not only at our weak points or during our low periods, but also at the areas of what we consider to be our strengths. Peter was secure in his belief that his own strength and will could withstand any attack that might come his way, and that is exactly where Satan tripped him up, exposing Peter’s true, natural condition: harassed and helpless apart from his Shepherd.

What was true for Peter is true for you and me. We have all been tripped up by the devil in places we felt the strongest.

Our strength is our weakness when, like Samson,

We trust in the gift of our strength

Rather than in the One who gave us that gift.

We must never believe that we are safe in our strengths;

We are only safe in the strength of our Savior,

Who is at work within us.

To be sure, the devil looks for chinks in our armor and launches his attacks, but we must also be ready to do battle with the evil one in areas where we believe we are fully armored.

When we find ourselves in the cross-hairs of the world, the flesh, and the devil, let us remember that we can do all things . . . but only those things in which Christ has strengthened us.  The best way to keep our strengths from becoming our weaknesses to the watching world is to keep our eye of faith fixed on Jesus, the One who has promised us victory in Him and in Him alone.

It is in His strength, nor our strength,

Where we will stand firm against

Every attack the devil sends our way.

The Bible says in James 4:7, “Resist the devil and he will flee from you.”  Christian, remember that where we are weak, there Christ is strong.

This is God’s Word For Today … This Is Grace For The Journey

Rest and Rejoice in this eternal truth!

Pastor Terry

Ephesians 4:7 – “But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.”

Hebrews 4:16 – “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”

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Holy Hair Brush

Grace For The Journey

2018BlogTheme

8Nov  When was the last time you considered just how much God cares for you – I mean, really contemplated and considered God’s cosmic care for you?  Has it been a while? Well, I have a word of eternal encouragement for you today!

Jesus said in Luke 12:6-7, “Are not five sparrows sold for two copper coins (two pennies)?  And not one of them is forgotten by God.  But the very hairs of your head are all numbered.  Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.”

In these verses, Jesus is talking about how valuable you are to God and just how much He cares for you.  Jesus is arguing from the lesser to the greater.  If God cares for five sparrows that are sold for roughly a single hour’s pay, then how much more does God care for you – you who are made in the image of God?  Then Jesus strengthens His message of “God’s great care” for you even further by revealing that the exact number of hairs on your head are known by God.

The problem for most of us is that we have

A tendency to forget what God thinks about us

And to focus more on what others think of us.

Yet our true worth comes not from our peers and how they judge our performance; our true worth comes from God, because we are His and His care for us is out of this world – which is another way of saying that His care is beyond our comprehension.  God cares for all of His creatures and that most certainly includes you, right now, right where this finds you.

God’s care for you does not fluctuate

Based on your accomplishments, achievements, or accolades.

His care for you is fixed from eternity past.

He tells us in Jeremiah 31:3, “I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with loving-kindness.”

Christian, consider this biblical truth as you begin yet another day of life on this side of eternity:

There has never been a time in your life –

In fact, there has never been a time in all eternity –

When God has not cared for you and loved you with His eternal love.

You have eternally been the object of His Almighty affection.  From everlasting to everlasting, you have been on His mind, in His heart, and part of His eternal plan.  This should strengthen your resolve to rise above anything that has been trying to keep you down, knowing that the power of the One who is in you is greater than the power of the one who is in this world (1 John 4:4).

So the next time you are grooming yourself for the day ahead, consider what you are holding in your hand: a “holy hair brush,” because the Holy One knows who you are, what you need, and precisely how many hairs are left on your head after you just brushed.

Now, that is care worth contemplating . . . don’t you agree?

This is God’s Word For Today … This Is Grace For The Journey

Rest and Rejoice in this eternal truth!

Pastor Terry

Ephesians 4:7 – “But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.”

Hebrews 4:16 – “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”

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Hyssop And The Need To Be Cleansed From Our Sin!

Grace For The Journey

2018BlogTheme

7Nov  One of the most beloved chapters in the Bible for many Christians is Psalm 51.  This chapter relates King David’s confession after his sinful encounter with Bathsheba and subsequent murder of her husband, Uriah.  Verse 7 contains a statement that rings somewhat strange to our 21st Century ears: “Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.”

Having been confronted by the prophet Nathan, David was filled with an overwhelming godly sorrow for having sinned against Bathsheba, Uriah, all of Israel . . . but most importantly, against God.  With a broken and contrite heart David cried, “Purge me with hyssop.”

After reading this, maybe you are asking . . .

What in the world is hyssop

And

Why did David want to be purged with it?

Hyssop is a small, perennial garden herb of the mint family, with small, violet-blue or sometimes pink or white flowers.  The hyssop of the Bible (also in 1 Kings 4:33 and John 19:29) may have been a similar plant.  But . . .

Knowing about the hyssop plant

Will not provide insight

Into David’s heartfelt confession.

Knowing Old Testament history will.

David’s prayer recalls the time of the Passover, when the angel of death struck down the firstborn of Egypt while God protected His people.   The Bible describes this procedure in Exodus 12:21-33, “Then Moses called all the elders of Israel and said to them, ‘Go and select lambs for yourselves according to your clans, and kill the Passover lamb.  Take a bunch of hyssop and dip it in the blood that is in the basin, and touch the lintel and the two doorposts with the blood that is in the basin.  None of you shall go out of the door of his house until the morning.  For the Lord will pass through to strike the Egyptians, and when he sees the blood on the lintel and on the two doorposts, the Lord will pass over the door and will not allow the destroyer to enter your houses to strike you.’” 

David was undoubtedly remembering God’s instruction to “take a bunch of hyssop and dip it in the blood [of the lamb].”  The bloody doorposts were a sign for the angel of death to pass over the homes containing the firstborn of Israel.  Frankly acknowledging the reality of the depravity of his own heart, David cried out to the only One who could help him – God.

David needed protection.

David needed forgiveness.

David needed cleansing.

David needed what only God can provide.

We, too, need protection, forgiveness, and cleansing; and we have it in the once-for-all shed blood of the Lamb of God.  The first Passover was but a shadow of that great Passover, when Jesus Christ would lay down His life for sinners.  Because of what Jesus did for us on the cross, we can cry out with David, “Purge me with hyssop,” knowing that our protection is promised, our forgiveness is freely given, and our cleansing is continual.

David had the promise.

We have the Person,

And

His name is Jesus Christ.

Because of His saving blood, we are finally and fully clean from all our sin in the sight of God . . . He sees us as whiter than snow!

This is God’s Word For Today … This Is Grace For The Journey

Rest and Rejoice in this eternal truth!

Pastor Terry

Ephesians 4:7 – “But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.”

Hebrews 4:16 – “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”

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Does Your Hope Disappoint?

Grace For The Journey

2018BlogTheme

6Nov  Since the beginning of time, mankind has been wrapped up in a hope that disappoints.  Do you know what it is?  It is hope in finding fulfillment, meaning, and significance apart from God.

It started with Adam and Eve when they decided

They wanted to live autonomous lives,

Apart from the grace, goodness, and glory of God.

And men and women have been doing the same thing ever since.

When your hope is in anything other than God is will always disappoint.

Self-sufficiency makes a poor savior.  So what is the hope that does not disappoint?  The Bible tells us in Romans 5:1-5, “Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.”

Make no mistake; if what you have been hoping in is disappointing you, it is the wrong hope.

Nothing in this world can do for you what only Jesus can do.

  • If your hope is in your career, you have the wrong hope.
  • If your hope is in your education, you have the wrong hope.
  • If your hope is in your network, you have the wrong hope.
  • If your hope is in your next business deal, you have the wrong hope.
  • If your hope is in your gifting, you have the wrong hope.
  • If your hope is in the applause of man, you have the wrong hope.
  • If your hope is in your marriage, you have the wrong hope.
  • If your hope is in your children, you have the wrong hope.

Hope that created things will do for you

What only the Creator can provide

Is utterly hopeless!

The Bible makes it crystal clear that

When we hope in God

We are never disappointed.

You see, when you place your hope in something you are connecting your identity to it.  What you place your hope in provides you with your meaning, significance, purpose, and ultimate identity in life.

Your hope becomes your savior,

Regardless of what you are hoping in.

That is why hope in anything other than God will always disappoint you.  Only God is big enough to satisfy your deepest needs, meet you in the middle of your darkest night, and deliver you from a meaningless existence from the time you were born until the time you die.

To hope is to be human.

We all need hope

And

We all place our hope in something.

Therefore, we all need to make sure

We are hoping in the right thing!

So what have you been hoping in lately?  Has your hope been unable to deliver?  Has your hope been unable to meet you in your place of deepest need?

The Bible tells us that when our hope is in God, something counterintuitive happens.   Our hope does not disappoint us, even in the middle of a season of suffering.  Most people think hope is connected to painless providences.  Not so.  The apostle Paul shows us that.  He knew firsthand that his hope would not disappoint, even in the middle of suffering.  Why?  Because His Savior was his hope and his Savior was in the middle of his suffering.  Paul did not need blue skies and sunshiny days to have hope, because his hope was in the only One who is worth hoping in: Jesus Christ.

The Bible drives this truth home over and over again.  Read the following passages of Scripture to get a glimpse . . .

Jeremiah 29:11, “For I know the thought i have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘thought of peace and not evil, ti get you a future and a hope.'”

Romans 8:24-25, “For we are saved in this hope, but hope that is seen is not hope, for why does one still hope for what he sees?  But if we hope for what we do not see, we eagerly wait for it with perseverance.”

Romans 15:3, “Now may the Gd of hope fill you will all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”

Colossians 1:27, “To them God will to make known what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles: which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.”

This is God’s Word For Today … This Is Grace For The Journey

Rest and Rejoice in this eternal truth!

Pastor Terry

Ephesians 4:7 – “But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.”

Hebrews 4:16 – “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”

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The Result Of Living A Sacrificial And Surrendered Life

Grace For The Journey

2018BlogTheme

5NovIn today’s blog, I want to continue the through of living a sacrificial and surrendered life.  I want to look at what the Bible teaches about the place of “frankincense” in the offerings.

The Bible says in Leviticus 2:2, “He shall bring it to Aaron’s sons, the priests, one of whom shall take from it his handful of fine flour and oil with all the frankincense.  And the priest shall burn it as a memorial on the altar, an offering made by fire, a sweet aroma to the LORD.”

Nearly forty times in the Old Testament, God declares how pleasing the aroma of a burnt offering is.

This positive imagery of scent represents

God’s satisfaction in experiencing

The proper worship of Him.

In the meal offering, frankincense contributes to His satisfaction because it always accompanies the burnt offering.

Frankincense has a sweet fragrance, and honey a sweet taste, but the effect of heat – representing the pressure of trials – on them is vastly different.  Heat corrupts, breaks down, and eventually destroys honey.  This characteristic is probably why God did not permit its use in the sacrifices (Leviticus 2:11).  However, frankincense does not release its greatest fragrance until heat is applied.

Incense has a long history of use in offerings to God.  The priests used it daily on the incense altar, which stood directly in front of the curtain that separated the Holy Place from the Holies of Holies where the Ark of the Covenant, representing God’s throne, stood.  The incense billowed up in a smoky cloud, filling the rooms with a fragrant odor. On the Day of Atonement, the High Priest burned incense in the Holy of Holies itself before the Ark.

Isaiah 6:1, 4 describes the vision Isaiah saw of God’s heavenly dwelling place: “In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, high and lifted up, and the train of His robe filled the temple. . . . And the posts of the door were shaken by the voice of him who cried out, and the house was filled with smoke.”

The imagery of the smoke of incense and its fragrance, representing the prayers of the saints is well known.  For instance, the Bible says in Psalm 141:2, “Let my prayer be set before You as incense, the lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice.”  And the Bible says in Revelation 5:8, “Now when He had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each having a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints.”

However, in the context of the meal offering, incense carries additional significance because of its overall meaning of dedication in service to man.  Notice Jesus’ words in Matthew 13:20-21, “But he who received the seed on stony places, this is he who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy; yet he has no root in himself, but endures only for a while.  For when tribulation of persecution arises because of the word, immediately he stumbles.”

Incense portrays a person’s attitude during his trials endured in service to fellow man.  A person might be all sweetness and light until the hardship of service hits him, and he grows bitter and turns aside.

Frequently, a Christian’s trials involve people, often those close to him: relatives, business coworkers, or social acquaintances.  Nothing is more consistently difficult than interpersonal relationships.  The Bible says in Philippians 2:14-15, “Do all things without murmuring and disputing, that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world.”  Again, the Bible says in 1 Corinthians 10:10, “. . . nor murmur, as some of them also murmured, and were destroyed by the destroyer” (1 Corinthians 10:10).  Finally, the Bible says in 1 Peter 4:9, “Be hospitable to one another without grumbling” (1 Peter 4:9).

Frankincense represents the pleasant satisfaction God experiences when His children endure without grumbling the hardships of sacrificial, and surrendered service, especially to their brethren.

This is God’s Word For Today … This Is Grace For The Journey

Rest and Rejoice in this eternal truth!

Pastor Terry

Ephesians 4:7 – “But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.”

Hebrews 4:16 – “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”

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How To Live A Life Of Surrender And Sacrifice

Grace For The Journey

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2Nov In today’s blog I want to look at the Old Testament teaching of the burnt offering taught in Leviticus 1 and 2 and see how Romans 12:1-2 helps the Christian apply this biblical truth to their lives.  I encourage you to read and become familiar with both passages.

The burnt offering is a picture of our offering ourselves totally to God.  The burnt offering had to be first cut into pieces to ensure that there was no defect in any part of it and then it was offered.  People could offer a bull, a sheep, a goat, or even a dove or a pigeon, according to their financial ability.  But each offering had to be without any blemish or defect.

The burnt offering is a picture of the way Jesus presented

His body throughout His earthly life to His Father

And then finally on the cross as well.

All through His earthly life, He kept His body perfectly pure in every temptation before He presented Himself to His Father as a sacrifice on the cross.

God would not have accepted Jesus’

Offering up of Himself on the cross

If there was a single spot of sin in His earthly life

During the previous thirty-three years.

This was why when He was hungry; He did not turn the stones into bread.  That would have been a sin, because the Father had not told Him to do it.  His life was one of total dependence and total obedience.  Jesus never did anything without the Father’s permission, even if it appeared to be a harmless thing like turning stones into bread to satisfy one’s hunger!

That is the standard of obedience to which God calls us.

And that is why Jesus’ life was so triumphant.

And why the Father was so delighted with Him.

Consider yet another example: In Luke 4:38-42, we read of a great revival in a town. The next morning the multitude pressed Him to stay.  But Jesus said, “No.”  Why? Because, before He met the people that morning, He had met with His Father in the wilderness and He had heard the voice of His Father telling Him to go elsewhere.  So He would not yield to the pressure of the multitudes but went where the Father told Him to go.  If He had yielded to the multitudes and conducted revival meetings, He would have sinned!

Have you got such an understanding of sin yet?

How many of us believe that conducting revival meetings could be sinful!!  That was the level of sensitivity to sin at which Jesus lived.  We normally think of sins as things like getting angry, having dirty thoughts, being jealous or bitter etc. These definitely are sins; but Jesus understood sin on a deeper level that we do.  When we get to understanding of the Bible’s teaching of sin as laid out in Romans 7:7-13, we will discover that a lot of things we never considered as sin earlier, now become sin for us.  When “sin becomes utterly sinful” (Romans 7:13), we can be certain that we are growing biblically and spiritually as we ought!

So when we look at Jesus’ life we shouldn’t think only of His death at Calvary, but also of His whole life where He presented Himself to the Father fully saying, “A body Thou hast prepared for Me…..and I have come to do Thy will O God.” (Hebrews 10:5,7).

Jesus never once did His own will in his body but only the Father’s.

This is what it means to offer oneself as a burnt offering to God.

This is what Paul exhorts us also to do in Romans 12:1-2, “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.  And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.”

This is the burnt offering.  It was presented to God and burnt completely.  The Bible says this was “a soothing aroma to the Lord” (Leviticus 1:17) – meaning something that God was very pleased with.  Paul said that his life’s ambition too was to “be well-pleasing the Lord” (2 Corinthians 5:9).

When we present our bodies to the Lord, it is very easy to say, “Lord, I give my body totally to You.”  But we don’t know whether we have offered it all, until we “cut it up.”  We could be deceiving ourselves.

What does it mean to cut it up

And offer it piece by piece

As was done with the burnt offering?

It means that we offer our bodily parts

Piece by piece to God.

We say . . .

  • “Lord, here are my eyes. I have used them for the devil and for myself for the past many years, looking at and reading many things that offend You.  But I am laying my eyes on the altar now.  Never again do I want to use these eyes to look at or read anything that Jesus would not look at or read.  They are Yours from this moment onward – totally and completely.”
  • We go next to the tongue and say, “Lord, here is my tongue. I have used this tongue for the devil and for myself for so many years, speaking whatever I liked, telling lies for my own gain, getting angry at people and gossiping and backbiting against others and accusing them. But I never want to do all that any more. Here is my tongue Lord. It is Yours from this moment onwards – totally and completely.”
  • We go next to our hands and our feet and our bodily passions, one by one, and say the same thing: “Lord, here are the members of my body and my natural desires, with which I have sinned and hurt You. Never again do I want to use these to please myself or to satisfy my lusts.  They are all Yours, They are Yours from this moment onwards – totally and completely.”

 It is only as we cut each piece and

Lay them on the altar one by one,

That we discover whether we really are

Offering our body totally to God or not.”

When the offering is cut into pieces and laid out on the altar fully, then you can say, “Now, Lord, let Your fire fall on the sacrifice and consume it.” The Bible tells us in Leviticus 9:24, “And fire came out from before the LORD and consumed the burnt offering and the fat on the altar.  When all the people saw it, they shouted and fell on their faces.”  That fire is a picture of the Holy Spirit and fire that comes to consume our sacrifice and to set our bodies on fire for God.  But the fire never fell until every last piece of the burnt offering was placed on the altar.

This is God’s Word For Today … This Is Grace For The Journey

Rest and Rejoice in this eternal truth!

Pastor Terry

Ephesians 4:7 – “But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.”

Hebrews 4:16 – “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”

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