Living to Worship by Sacrificing All
January 30, 2016, 3:07 am
Filed under: Searching for our Savior in His book | Tags: , , ,

living sacrifice
Have you ever really looked at how we could take a passage and work through the process of observations and then invest the time to interpret the passage. In order of us to become doers of the Word, we have to first understand the passage. So let us use a passage that probably at some time we have memorized but really haven’t explored what it really means? That is what we need to develop; the skills to learn. Here’s the passage. “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” Here are some of the insights a little study can bring to this passage. “Beseech” is a word that means to “urgently beg”. Imagine the Apostle Paul, and the Holy Spirit who is breathing out each word, standing before you begging you with a great urgency to “present”, or to completely and totally yield or give our total being to God without holding anything back. This act is based on the fact that God has invested everything in pursuing us (the mercies of God) so that we can be an ongoing and constant sacrificial offering to God, having been set apart (holy) for this and doing what we were created to do (acceptable) because this is the logical way to really worship in a truly spiritual way (which is your reasonable service). Pretty good for a group of Freshmen High School Bible Students. I guess the question is why is God “beseeching or begging us with a sense of urgency”? Not because it will provide something that He needs but because for us to become what He has planned for us to become, we have to be all in, holding back nothing. He knows the urgency of having us following Him, in a sense burning the bridges behind us, because their is nothing else important. Here is when I bow and ask God to help me be the living sacrifice He knows I need to be so that I am not all about me but all about Him.


What Do People Hear About You?
January 16, 2016, 1:56 am
Filed under: Searching for our Savior in His book | Tags: , , ,

“Wherefore I also, after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus, and love unto all the saints,” is the beginning of a really long sentence in Ephesians 1. Starting with verse 15, the sentence ends at verse 23 in the King James Bible. The Apostle Paul gets personal with the believers in Ephesus by talking about their reputation. I understand that reputation is what others say about you and that we shouldn’t worry about what others say, but in this case Paul makes a big deal about what he has heard about them. Notice what it is. I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus. This tells me that they have a faith in the finished work of Christ that is a faith that others notice. That type of faith is more than just words or a past event that we use as a ticket to heaven. It is a faith that changes us and makes us “noticeable” for the difference it has made in our lives. That makes sense because to come to Christ means we have to repent or turn from something to turn to Jesus, Who transforms us into someone so unique from what we were that it is like we have been set apart. We are walking against the current and that is noticeable. But so many who are Christians think that being different is something that we do for ourselves so we focus on what we don’t do to define our uniqueness from the world. Yet Paul mentions the way the Holy Spirit makes us different with the words “love unto all the saints”. The thing that identifies us as a follower of Jesus Christ is our love for others, which in this case are identified as “saints” or other believers. This love isn’t an expression which comes out of our mouths but never goes beyond that. Rather it is an expression that comes not just from within us, but from the Holy Spirit that dwells within us. This love is unconditional, sacrificial, and impacts others because it is so abnormal in our world. Reaching out to others with no thought of getting paid back in return, with no attempt at manipulation but only on helping others is first on a list of the Fruit of the Spirit. Jesus told His followers that they would be easy to identify because they loved others. Throughout the New Testament this message is repeated and as we know, when God repeats something, He is showing us that this is very important. I also notice that it is to “all” the saints. If love is selective, then it is not love that comes from the Holy Spirit. If love is limited, then it is not love that comes from the Holy Spirit. If love is conditional, the it is not love that comes from the Holy Spirit. Often we love those with whom we agree, we like, or with whom we approve. Those who are different, who think differently, or look differently, or whose worship is different, are often considered unworthy of our love but in reality never unworthy of God’s love. Disagreements should be expressed in love, with a desire to restore, correct, rebuke so that the other person lives in the right relationship with God. However, I must always be aware that God may bring that person into my life so that my faith is stretched and my love is expanded. Now, here is the question. What do others hear about you?
what do people hear about you

Amazed Faith
January 10, 2016, 10:46 pm
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Jesus loves to prepare people to accomplish important things by using unusual methods. One of those times is found in Mark 6. Jesus has sent the 12 out to accomplish His will and they return with success. They had been paired together to provide encouragement and support on this endeavor. When they return to Jesus, they are successful but tired from their ministry. But those who had heard of the deeds of Jesus and the 12 pressed around them, seeking their own personal ministry. Even though Jesus wanted to take the disciples around away to provide rest, the multitude followed them. Realizing that the people needed food, Jesus used this to teach His closest followers about His amazing power. At the end, 5000 men had been fed, a countless number of women and children enjoyed the meal as well, and each disciple had a basket of food as a reminder that Jesus had the ability to do remarkable things. These words tell us what happened next, “ and straightway he constrained his disciples to get into the ship, and to go to the other side before unto Bethsaida, while he sent away the people.” Put in plain English, immediately Jesus made His disciples to get into a boat so that they might go spend time apart from the crowd. While they were traveling, Jesus prayed for them, while alone on a mountain. When the evening was come Jesus saw that the disciples were having difficulty on their way. While trying to cross the Sea of Galilee, they face an impossible headwind and find themselves being toss on the waters. They entered the boat at evening, but Jesus didn’t come to them until the fourth watch, which would have been 3 a.m. to 6 a.m. So they have been rowing since 6 p.m., more than 8 hours. Imagine the exhaustion of the 12 men. Their despair, discouragement, and discontent had to be growing. They are in one of those impossible, frustrating and dangerous moments which brings to our minds this question “what did they mess up on that put them here?” They had to have made a bad choice, or be in rebellion against the will of the Lord to be in this much trouble. Yet the clear teaching of this passage is that they are in exactly the place where God wants them to be. He has put them here. The disciples weren’t this moment because they had been unwise, they were not in this moment because they had been unfaithful, they were not in this moment because they had been disobedient and they were not in this mom here in this situation because of the self-centered and selfish desires. Jesus wanted them here at this moment in history. Here is a difficult lesson but a very true lesson. What can you call this type of truth? Amazing, radical, life-transforming truth? Contradictory truth? Whatever you want to call it, the truth is that Jesus wanted them here in the midst of what was a moment of life transformation. He was not taken by surprise at this moment and He wasn’t rescuing His disciples. He was training them. They were in school, learning a lesson. He was teaching them not by words, but by hands on experience. This was lesson that would help prepare them to be willing to give their lives for the Lord. Let me go back to one thing: He waited until the fourth watch or about “3 A.M to 6 A.M.” before He came to them. It seems that they had struggled all night and at the darkest point of their journey, Jesus came. We come to another surprise when we read that “he would have passed them” which means “he wanted to come alongside them”. Evidently Jesus set a course which would bring Him not to the disciples but along side of them, showing them Himself and seeing if they would ask Him to come help them. But when the disciples saw Him, they thought He was a ghost or an image because there was no way He could be walking on the water. In spite of what they had seen, they refused to believe that Jesus could do something that exceeded their expectations of Him. True faith in Jesus involves trusting Him that He can do anything. Our trust of Him doesn’t enable Him to do so, but our faith in Him enables us to believe Him in any circumstance. I also love the fact that even in their fears and unbelief, He spoke to them. The purpose of this miracle was to show them His ability and authority was not limited. They would need to believe that He was capable of never before conceived things, especially the resurrection. But the entire story of the gospel is difficult to understand. By faith, we see that we are exactly what God teaches we are, sinners. By faith, we trust that God placed all our sins upon Jesus and allowed Him to pay for them. Faith is required that the resurrection took place and faith is needed for us to trust that God will save us based on our trust in those things as the payment for our sins. Faith is essential to the walk we have after salvation. Following Christ is a journey of faith as God stretches us to enlarge our faith. How often do we face something so difficult only to see that Jesus is there, waiting to bring peace into our storms. I realize that this is event is unique to the disciples but by application, we see that those declared righteous shall live our Christ-following lives by faith, committing our entire life to His control. When Jesus saw the terror that was ruling His disciples’ life, He called out “take heart, it is I. Now at first glance, we think that Jesus is saying, “be calm, I’m here to save the day!” But He really is saying something much more important. He isn’t teaching them a lesson that works only for this moment but one that will stay with them. Jesus is saying “Take heart, I AM is here!” Jesus was deepening the relationship by letting them see who He really is. Stop letting fear control you!” The disciples would have hope because I AM was in their lives. The success that the disciples would experience was based on Him. Their hope was not because of their wisdom, their strength, or their abilities. It was because of His presence in their lives. Jesus was teaching them that they had hope, success, and victory because they had Him. You have hope, not because you’re wise, not because you’re strong, not because life is peaceful. You have hope because I AM is in your life. You will never face the circumstance of life alone because He is with us. I AM is present. The disciples invited Jesus onto the boat. He then took control of the boat, stopping the wind. When Jesus got on the boat, everything changed. What was the disciples response? They were amazed within themselves beyond measure. To be amazed doesn’t mean that they were “surprised”. Amazement is when you have been taken beyond what you understand or are able to explain. The final words for this story convey this message, “they were completely astounded because they didn’t understand the meaning of the feeding of the multitude because they had hard hearts. So what softens hard hearts? Evidently miracles don’t because the disciples had seen some pretty impressive miracles. Yet their faith didn’t grow in spite of the amazing miracles they had both seen and of which they had been a part. Each miracle that Jesus did was more amazing than the previous one, but the disciples’ faith still didn’t grow. Their faith grew as their personal knowledge of Jesus grew. Notice it is not the knowledge about Jesus that produces their growth, but relationship knowledge. As they became more aware of whom Jesus was, their faith increased. Here’s the real difference between being amazed and having faith. To be amazed is a function of the brain. But the growth of faith is when we make an investment of the heart. I turn from looking at Jesus as a fan (amazement) to one who walks by faith as I follow Christ. The way I live is changed by faith. But their greatest stretch of faith would occur when their understanding of Jesus would change after the resurrection, when they encountered the resurrected Savior. He alone changes our understanding of Him and when we get who He really is, we will never be the same.
When you get that to the place of growth, you begin to ask the tough questions that make your faith authentic. With integrity as you read the Bible, you begin to ask the tough questions of the Bible. You ask “Why would God, who is rich in mercy, grace, love, compassion, and power, allow His child to be in this circumstance? Why doesn’t God remove this trial from me? Doesn’t He love me? I thought He was a great Deliver and Rescuer of His people? I don’t understand. At this point, God goes beyond your amazement to a faith builder.
Jesus walking on water

Wasted Life or Wasted Eternity?
January 10, 2016, 4:04 am
Filed under: Searching for our Savior in His book | Tags: , , , , ,

“People who do not know the Lord ask why in the world we waste our lives as missionaries. They forget that they too are expending their lives … and when the bubble has burst, they will have nothing of eternal significance to show for the years they have wasted.” These words by Nate Saint, one of five missionaries killed in January, 1956, are inspiring words from a man who knew God and knew that God had a plan for his life. The question that we must address in our lives is whether we are following Jesus in the fulfillment of His plan that includes us and will have eternal benefits or waste our life on the pursuit of temporary stuff. As I write this, a record setting lottery could be won. Someone might win $900 million dollars. That person will make a decision on how that money can be used. Most, spend it on temporary things and most lottery winners are broke within 5 years of a big win. Not only are they broke financially, but many are broken people, finding out that great wealth is not the secret to a happy life. Nate Saint died, happy in knowing that in life or death, he had followed Christ.
That’s the lesson the apostle Paul writes about in Ephesians. What I love about this passage is that Paul shows us we can actually know that God is using our life. In reading the verse words, Paul announces that he is a person chosen and empowered by, not by great inner strength or a commitment to a worthy cause, but by Jesus the Christ. Paul saw that God’s plan included using him as Jesus’ representative. Paul’s life had an eternal focus which resulted in eternal benefits. Throughout eternity, we will see the results of following Christ and fulfilling the purpose God determined was the proper way to use us. I also notice that this life, centered in the will of God, was a life of giving to others. It is much easier or natural for us to be takers. Nate Saint saw that following Christ involved putting our lives on the line, holding back nothing just like Jesus had done. Using the lottery as a comparison, recently a winner gave about 700,000 dollars to her church. What a great use of the money! Until you see that she has put 20 million dollars at risk to bail out her criminal boyfriend. Her eternal focus took a turn toward the temporary quickly. What a waste! Paul was constantly confronted with concerns of the world but never lost Christ vision of the big picture. Even when facing death, Paul talked about for Him to live was Christ. Everything in his life was motivated by the desire to carry out God’s will.
Paul also saw that the saints, or Christians who had been set apart by God, remained faithful because of their relationship with Jesus Christ. I guess the challenge to me is that no matter what, I want to be faithful to God in doing what He made me to do.
I know that verse 2 seems like just a simply greeting and it is. But don’t you find great comfort in knowing that God the Father and God the Lord Jesus Christ. His grace and peace surrounds us. I know that following Jesus involves a sacrifice on my part but I also see that following Him surrounds me with unmerited favor from God and peace. To us peace seems like a word that means the absence of conflict. But the word translated “peace” in the Bible means to “live well” in our standing with God. God’s plan for me, involves that I follow Him in serving Him as well as having the right relationship with God. Here’s the application of these two verses: eventually your life will either be viewed as something that has made a big deal in this world or something that has consequences that last for eternity. Look at yourself right now. What have you focused your life on doing? Will you have a wasted life or a wasted eternity?
wasted life or wasted eternity

The Plan
January 8, 2016, 3:27 am
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Ephesians 1:7-10
“In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace; wherein he hath abounded toward us in all wisdom and prudence; having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself: that in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him.

In Christ, we have been purchased from the slavery that sin placed us in through the blood Jesus shed on the cross. We stand forgiven of sins because of the AMAZING riches of grace that not only purchased us, but blotted out our sins. The blood removed our sins from us as well as the chains that used to bind us. The blood was poured over us and we are no longer what we were because of our encounter with the Christ of the cross and the resurrection. With all wisdom, or the ability to see life from God’s point of view, He was given us insight and enlightened us the the great mystery of God saving us Himself, which was always His plan, set in motion before the foundation of the universe. With great pleasure, He has shared the Good News of what Jesus did in carrying faithfully the Plan of God taking upon Himself the responsibility to save His fallen creation. This plan will be fulfilled when the time is right and at that moment, He will return to make all things one, both on earth and in heaven and He rules as King! God, thanks for caring enough about me and help me to care about others so that I will share openly and often, the message of hope that freed me and made me His son. While You aren’t setting up Your kingdom yet, Please be King of me!
Jesus, the cross and the resurrection

Jesus, my strength when I am weak

Glorious Grace!
January 6, 2016, 3:31 am
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“To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved.” When Paul wrote this verse to the Ephesians, he must have left tears upon the pages. The very thought that this terrorist of the early church as well as the person who took up the battle to fight against Christ as He built His church was “accepted in the beloved” must have overwhelmed the Apostle Paul. He had done so much against what Jesus wanted and was responsible for the murder of so many of the early followers of Christ must have felt there was no way that God could love him. After all, he had done so much WRONG that he couldn’t conceive of a love and grace greater than his sin. Yet, here he was, being used of God to establish churches, and to share the revelation that was so important to this new baby church. He was unworthy, but that didn’t matter because he was accepted IN THE BELOVED. It wasn’t about his righteousness or his worth, but was totally based on who Jesus was and what Jesus did. It makes sense that he was full of praise to the glory of God’s GRACE! Grace that is greater than our failures and our faults and our flaws. Have you ever felt like you’ve blown it? Ever feel like you have sinned so bad that there is no way that God could forgive you? You go to God, broken, empty, and without anything but failure to offer. And He picks you up, lifts up your head, and tells you “You are accepted in the beloved”! That amazing grace, abundant grace, overflowing grace! Grace that magnifies the awesomeness of God because it is His Grace. In fact He is Grace! Come back to Him and experience His GRACE right now!
Jesus, my strength when I am weak