Tag Archives: sacrifice

I Chronicles 5, 6; Hebrews 10; Amos 4; Psalm 148-150

Sometimes I am conflicted about the will of God in my life. “Should I move or should I stay” is a line in a Third Day song that mimics my own questions. When nothing seems to be working out as I would like or had expected, I doubt my heart and look for sin or some other barrier deafening me to God’s will. I feel like the rejected firstborn or one of a whole lineage of people that God judged as unfaithful. When I search my heart I see the after effects of trauma, unresolved grief, periods of isolation from God’s community of believers, and the constant dripping of remorse. Still, I hold tenaciously to Jesus Christ, the One who knows me intimately – my Creator. Amos 4:13 says,

“For behold, He who forms mountains and creates the wind, who declares to man what his heart is, and makes the morning darkness, who treads the high places of the earth…the Lord God of hosts is His name.”He is the One who declares what my heart is – no matter that I am unaware of this heart’s condition.

Even when convicted of sin, my Lord Jesus does not leave me. He could have. He could have saved only Israel through the Levitical practice of offering sacrifices and left me in the dust. I Chronicles 6:49 describes the importance of the high priest’s function:

“But Aaron and his sons offered sacrifices on the altar of burnt offering and on the altar of incense for all the work of the Most Holy Place, and to make atonement for Israel…” However, Jesus Christ, said to God,

“Sacrifice and offering You did not desire, but a body You have prepared for Me. In burnt offerings and sacrifices of sin You had no pleasure. Then I [Christ] said, ‘Behold, I have come…to do Your will, O God,’”(Hebrews 10:5-7).

That once and for all sacrifice, that unwavering willingness of Christ to die for me, that love and understanding of my human frailty, is my inspiration to hold fast to what I know: God is faithful even when I cannot readily see His will for me. He encourages me through Scripture, through friends, through study, and through prayer.

“And let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful. And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching,” (Hebrews 10:23-25).

For example, I was reminded yesterday by one of my ‘golden’ friends to praise God in all things – in my sorrow, in my joy, in my confusion, in the most difficult and dark times. And today, God punctuated His reminder to praise Him as I read the last three chapters in the Book of Psalms which exhort Creation from “the heavens to the human heart,” (commentary) to praise God for His mighty works, for the assembly (the church), to praise God for His salvation and judgments, and finally for all things to praise Him:

“Let everything that has breath praise the Lord,” (Psalm 148-150).

So, my Lord God, with the breath You have graciously given me to know Your heart and to breathe in Your love for me, I praise You today – in word, in deed, in song, in quietness, and in loud “Halleluiahs!” You have a way of cutting through the fog and clearing the path to see that You are before me, always with me, and upholding me through all that has been and is to come. Most wonderful of all, I praise You for Your very Presence even now! Thank You Jesus, Lord and Savior!

Janet (jansuwilkinson)

All Scripture and commentary quotes from: The Nelson Study Bible, New King James Version, Trinity Fellowship Church 25th Anniversary Commemorative Edition, 2002.

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1 Samuel 4, Psalm 18, Jeremiah 42, Romans 4

I own a wellness clinic and our main focus is helping people regain and improve their health through weight loss. We use a very specific program and all our coaches are very knowledgeable in that particular protocol. Each and every day we have people walk through our doors desperately wanting a change. Some are referred by friends because they just can’t stand the way they look, others are referred by their doctor who has threatened more medications, increases in insulin or even bariatric surgery as a final resort. When they begin, their desperation is heard loud and clear and their commitment to the program is 100%. On a scale from 1-10 they are an 11. They want it so bad they will do anything we say to improve their health. We hear, “Just tell me what to do and I will do it!” every day.

Fast forward 6 weeks. The crises and emergency is over. Twenty pounds are gone, blood pressure is improved, doctor is happy and friends are noticing. And even though they haven’t met their target weight, something in their mind begins to change.  They start easing up on the strict protocol. They make exceptions and compromises when they are out to dinner with their family and a few bites here are there at the birthday parties. When they return to our office and jump on the scale, they are disappointed. We give advice, review their food journal and find none of the exceptions recorded but we know from the scale that there were at least a few. They say to us, “Really? Just a few bites messed up my results? I don’t believe it!” or make excuses, “You don’t understand. I was out of the house all day and forgot my supplies so I just stopped picked something up at the store that wasn’t on the protocol. It really should have worked the same. The product was comparable” And then the compensation, “I increased my water intake to flush it all out”. They leave the clinic disappointed and confused to try for another week and can’t understand how their minor deviations could have prevented success. The spiral often continues and leads to missed coaching appointments and eventually they throw in the towel.

After their initial crises is over, it is difficult to stay the course and follow what the “expert” recommends. Even though they are still a long way from their goal, once they begin feeling better it becomes much more difficult to follow the rules. Their flesh wants to follow its desire and even the best advice from their coach seems extreme and restrictive even though it is unchanged from when they started.

As people, we find ourselves in crises throughout the pages of scripture and we cry out to the Lord (and his prophets) for help. We are desperate to hear from the Lord. We will do whatever it takes….

“Let our plea for mercy come before you, and pray to the Lord your God for us, for all this remnant—because we are left with but a few, as your eyes see us— that the Lord your God may show us the way we should go, and the thing that we should do.” Then they said to Jeremiah, “May the Lord be a true and faithful witness against us if we do not act according to all the word with which the Lord your God sends you to us.Whether it is good or bad, we will obey the voice of the Lord our God to whom we are sending you, that it may be well with us when we obey the voice of the Lord our God.” Jeremiah 42: 2-3, 4-6

When the Lord responds, are we willing to do what he says? Are we prepared to sacrifice our own fleshly desires every step of the way to follow him? Sometimes his word feels restrictive and sometimes it just plain doesn’t make sense to us. But we can trust him. Just as our coaches can see what lies ahead for the client’s that deviate repeatedly (no permanent health change) so too was the information the prophet Jeremiah received from the Lord for his people.

Dear Lord, thank you for the reminder that your word to us is not always easy to accept but you are always in it. You are for us, not against us and even the most restrictive or difficult of circumstances is meant to draw closer to you. Help us to hear you clearly and obey immediately, knowing you are in control. Amen.

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Leviticus 5; Psalms 3-4; Proverbs 19; Colossians 3

Leviticus 5 describes a sliding scale for sacrifices; the wealthier the repentant sinner, the more expensive the sacrifice. The sacrifice needed to make a significant economic impact upon the one offering it and the cost of restitution was somewhat dependent upon the infraction (Leviticus 5:16). Sin had a price which took the form of livestock, birds and grain.  Blood flowed continually at the altar. The sin of the people kept the priests busy.

Five times in chapter 5 the author of Leviticus repeats, “…the priest shall make atonement on your behalf for the sin that you have committed, and you shall be forgiven.” Repentance, forgiveness and restitution matter to God, the sinner and the community. The process is physical and burdensome, but also seems limited. What about  sins committed that one might have a blindspot to? What then?

“Who can say ‘I have made my heart clean; I am pure from my sin?’ ” Proverbs 20:9

I am powerless to break the power of sin and death on my life. Guilt is wall between God which I am unable to scale, but God the priest bows low to provide the cleansing sacrifice— lower than one could ever imagine. He sends his pure and sinless Son, Jesus to do what all my personal sacrifices can never do. The blood of Jesus flows so that I am forgiven. Jesus brings the wall down so that I  may stand in the presence of the Holy One of Israel.

Confession and repentance are even more important business in the light of what Jesus did on my behalf. God forgive me for ever taking the sacrifice of his Son for granted.

When I Survey the Wondrous Cross  by Isaac Watts

When I survey wondrous cross,                                                                                                       On which the Prince of glory died,
My richest gain I count but loss,
And pour contempt on all my pride.
Forbid it, Lord, that I should boast,
Save in the death of Christ my God!
All the vain things that charm me most,
I sacrifice them to His blood.
See from His head, His hands, His feet,
Sorrow and love flow mingled down!
Did e’er such love and sorrow meet,
Or thorns compose so rich a crown?
Were the whole realm of nature mine,
That were a present far too small;
Love so amazing, so divine,
Demands my soul, my life, my all.

Kathy

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Ezekiel 28-30; John 10

Kingdoms set up, taunting enemies around God’s treasured. One is puffed up pride. Another a greedy giant. A third, talons-out taunter. These were kingdoms with rulers and boundaries and armies, but a reduction to basic elements gets to roots–things that set themselves against God.

Boasting bullies of pride, greed, hate. Sins that steal and kill and destroy.

26 They will live safely in Israel and build homes and plant vineyards. And when I punish the neighboring nations that treated them with contempt, they will know that I am the Lord their God.” Ezekiel 28:26, NLT.

They will know the mighty and just hand of God.

They will know his voice.

Those who heard Jesus use this illustration didn’t understand what he meant, so he explained it to them: “I tell you the truth, I am the gate for the sheep. All who came before me were thieves and robbers. But the true sheep did not listen to them. Yes, I am the gate. Those who come in through me will be saved. They will come and go freely and will find good pastures. 10 The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life.

11 “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd sacrifices his life for the sheep. 12 A hired hand will run when he sees a wolf coming. He will abandon the sheep because they don’t belong to him and he isn’t their shepherd. And so the wolf attacks them and scatters the flock. 13 The hired hand runs away because he’s working only for the money and doesn’t really care about the sheep.

14 “I am the good shepherd; I know my own sheep, and they know me, 15 just as my Father knows me and I know the Father. So I sacrifice my life for the sheep. 16 I have other sheep, too, that are not in this sheepfold. I must bring them also. They will listen to my voice, and there will be one flock with one shepherd.” (John 10:6-16, NLT)

Mighty God, you fight for your treasured people when we are unable to fight these big battles ourselves. Lord, let me lean into you and listen closely to your voice. Oh, how you love us.

25 Jesus replied, “I have already told you, and you don’t believe me. The proof is the work I do in my Father’s name. 26 But you don’t believe me because you are not my sheep. 27 My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. 28 I give them eternal life, and they will never perish. No one can snatch them away from me, 29 for my Father has given them to me, and he is more powerful than anyone else. No one can snatch them from the Father’s hand. 30 The Father and I are one.” (John 10:25-30, NLT)

Grateful for the safety in your hands.

Courtney (66books365)

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Isaiah 17-19; Psalm 62; 1 Corinthians 1

18The teaching about the cross seems foolish to those who are lost. But to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 19It is written in the Scriptures:

“I will cause the wise men to lose their wisdom.

I will make the wise men unable to understand.” Isaiah 29:14

20Where is the wise person? Where is the educated person? Where is the philosopher of our times? God has made the wisdom of the world foolish. 21The world did not know God through its own wisdom. So God chose to use the message that sounds foolish to save those who believe it. 22The Jews ask for miracles as proofs. The Greeks want wisdom. 23But we preach Christ on the cross. This is a big problem to the Jews. And it seems foolish to the non-Jews. 24But Christ is the power of God and the wisdom of God to those people God has called—Jews and Greeks. 25Even the foolishness of God is wiser than men. Even the weakness of God is stronger than men.

26Brothers, look at what you were when God called you. Not many of you were wise in the way the world judges wisdom. Not many of you had great influence. Not many of you came from important families. 27But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise. He chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. 28And he chose what the world thinks is not important. He chose what the world hates and thinks is nothing. He chose these to destroy what the world thinks is important. 29God did this so that no man can brag before him. 30It is God who has made you part of Christ Jesus. Christ has become wisdom for us from God. Christ is the reason we are right with God and have freedom from sin; Christ is the reason we are holy. 31So, as the Scripture says, “If a person brags, he should brag only about the Lord.” 1 Corinthians 1:18-31 (ICB)

The Cross.

The symbol believers look toward for redemption. The knowledge that God’s Son, come to earth in the form of man, willingly laid Himself down as a sacrificial Lamb, so that all mankind could be saved for eternity.

In one of my ministry school classes, we were encouraged to really study the Cross, to be CSI as it were-to get intimate with the bloody crime scene of our Savior’s death; to truly understand the lengths that Jesus went to because He loves us SO much.

My favorite biblical movie to date is The Passion of the Christ. It’s my favorite because the graphic portrayal of what happened that day over 2000 years ago. For the first time I truly understood the anguish, the pain, the suffering that Jesus chose to experience for me. The childhood pictures of a pristine Christ with a crown of thorns around His curly locks, nails in His very white hands and feet, and a thin line of blood in His side blinding me to the horrors of that day fell like shackles off the eyes of my heart.

The Cross…foolishness.

In no other religion, that I have studied, do the ‘gods’ sacrifice themselves for their people. In many of those religions, the ‘gods’ actually require the people to do heinous things to their own bodies. Things like walking across fire, leaving the feet with third degree burns, or putting metal hooks in the skin and pulling their god’s chariot through the village.

And, yet, Christ did what made no sense to the wisdom of man. He laid Himself down, humbled Himself, as low as a man could go, into death, a thief’s punishment, so that upon His resurrection, everyone could be restored into right relationship with God.

Nothing I can do makes me right with God, only Jesus revives my connection to Him. It doesn’t matter how hard I try to be sin-free, only my Savior makes me blameless before the Father. No matter how righteous I act, only Christ makes me holy. Only He redeems my life and makes it truly worthy.

Yesappa, Thank You for the foolishness of the Cross.

 

Blessings, Julie

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Numbers 6-7; Hebrews 13

Numbers–I keep going back and reading about the gifts at the altar. The hair that was cut and placed by those who followed the Nazirite law. The silver platters, the silver basins, the gold incense containers … bulls, rams, lambs, goats and grain. Offerings and sacrifices.

When a thought loop wanted to take me down an old and tired path, the Lord reminded me to rejoice and praise. He keeps me grounded. He shows me all that I have in him. Yesterday I prayed to him, “Don’t let me be distracted by this stone in my path, but help me to have a kingdom focus.”

Hebrews–Keep on … Don’t forget … Remember … I urge you to pay attention …

  • Keep loving each other.
  • Show hospitality to strangers.
  • Remember the imprisoned and mistreated.
  • Give honor to marriage.
  • Remember leaders who taught you the word of God.

10 We have an altar from which the priests in the Tabernacle have no right to eat. 11 Under the old system, the high priest brought the blood of animals into the Holy Place as a sacrifice for sin, and the bodies of the animals were burned outside the camp. 12 So also Jesus suffered and died outside the city gates to make his people holy by means of his own blood. 13 So let us go out to him, outside the camp, and bear the disgrace he bore. 14 For this world is not our permanent home; we are looking forward to a home yet to come.

15 Therefore, let us offer through Jesus a continual sacrifice of praise to God, proclaiming our allegiance to his name. 16 And don’t forget to do good and to share with those in need. These are the sacrifices that please God. Hebrews 13:10-16, NLT (emphasis mine)

God of peace.

20 Now may the God of peace—
    who brought up from the dead our Lord Jesus,
the great Shepherd of the sheep,
    and ratified an eternal covenant with his blood—
21 may he equip you with all you need
    for doing his will.
May he produce in you,
    through the power of Jesus Christ,
every good thing that is pleasing to him.
    All glory to him forever and ever! Amen. Hebrews 13:20-21, NLT

Lord, if I look too long at an enemy’s work, the obstacle becomes my focus instead of The Way. Help me, Father, to have a kingdom focus. If I focus on what is wrong, I lose sight of all that is right. I want to keep my eyes on you. You equip me with all I need for doing your will. You will never fail me or abandon me. Thank you for grace.

Courtney (66books365)

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2 Chronicles 5-7; Psalm 121; 1 Timothy 4

I look up to the mountains; does my strength come from the mountains? No, my strength comes from God, who made heaven, and earth, and mountains. He won’t let you stumble, your Guardian God won’t fall asleep. Not on your life!  God’s your Guardian, right at your side to protect you-Shielding you from sunstroke, sheltering you from moon-stroke. God guards you from every evil, he guards your very life. He guards you when you leave and when you return, he guards you now, he guards you always.” Psalm 121:1-8 MSG

I saw a FB friend questioning God’s protection after the shootings at the African Church in Charleston, SC. She is not a believer and was trying to wrap her mind around it all. As so was I. She posted the question, “If God can’t protect you in his house-where can he protect you?” I wanted to tell her that God is with her always and He was with them too.  It didn’t matter where they were gathered, just that they were praying to their Father. Even though I am sure they could feel God’s presence, her question got me thinking… “Where do I run to feel safe?”

You’ve been raised on the Message of the faith and have followed sound teaching. Now pass on this counsel to the followers of Jesus there, and you’ll be a good servant of Jesus. Stay clear of silly stories that get dressed up as religion…We’re banking on on the living God, Savior of all men and women, especially believers…Cultivate these things, immerse yourself in them…Don’t be diverted.” 1 Timothy 4:6-16 MSG

Just as Solomon wanted to move the Arc of the covenant from Zion to The Temple. I am reminded that I can’t go anywhere to flee God’s presence. Sometimes I can get so caught up in where I am worshiping, that I forget that I am worshiping with my life. That His glory shines through me.

Then a billowing cloud filled The Temple of God. The priests couldn’t even carry out their duties because of the cloud-the glory of God!-that filled The Temple of God.” 2 Chronicles 5:13-14 MSG

Thank you Father, that You are always with me, even until the end of the age. I ask that You would be with the families of the shooting victims. I pray they would feel Your presence in the midst of this tragedy. And anyone else who is suffering a loss in their lives. Thank you that there is the Hope of heaven and of spending eternity with You. Amen.

Amy(amyctanner)

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