Living Sacrifices

The Bible teaches in the following passage how we are to live as Christians.  Living sacrifices are a greater influence to mankind in this sinful world, much more than a dead sacrifice.  Martyrs cannot preach the Gospel any more.  Martyrs are not able to witness anymore.  It takes someone alive in Christ to continue the work of winning souls.

Romans 11:33-36 – Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out!   “For who has known the mind of the LORD?  Or who has become His counselor?”, “Or who has first given to Him and it shall be repaid to him?” For of Him and through Him and to Him are all things, to whom be glory forever. Amen.

  • These scriptures speak to us of the greatness, the wisdom, the mercy and the love of God toward His creation.  That’s US.  You and I are the objects of God’s attention.  Did you know that?  That is something to get excited about.  God loves you.

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.

  • Let us look very carefully at these first two verses of chapter 12.  Note that what is about to be said is not to the world, but to the church, to the people of God, that people who call themselves “Christian.”
  • There is not a worse advertisement for the church and the work of the church than those who call themselves “Christian” and live like the world. 
  • Someone said “If you run with the goats on Saturday night, don’t expect to smell like a sheep on Sunday morning.”
  • There is more to being a Christian than shedding a few crocodile tears at the altar.  It is walking straight after you go out the door.
  • There is more to living for Christ Jesus than the 10:30 or 11:00 worship hour on Sunday morning. 
  • There is more to being a Christian than joining a church or living a creed.  It is called dedication, consecration, sanctification and a whole lot more.  Be a good advertisement for the Lord.

Give your all for Him – He gave His all for you.

  • I beseech you – I implore you, I beg you.  Remember this verse is addressed to the people of God.  Did you know that some people in the church need to be coached, begged, counseled, and convinced of what is right and what really is the truth?  People attending church may point to a particular sin and say, “I would never do that.”  Yes, you would if sin is in control.  If you have not been truly changed by the saving grace of Jesus and the indwelling power of the Spirit, who knows but God what you are capable of doing.
  • Brethren – to the house of faith.  That is you and I.  This passage is addressed to us, the church, the believers, the body of Christ.  One passage of Scripture states that “Judgment must begin at the house of God.”  Another states, “If the righteous scarcely be saved, what of the ungodly?”  As ambassadors of Christ, we must be holy, blameless, walking worthy of the calling that Christ has called us to. 
  • Is holy living popular today?  In some churches it will get you in trouble if you preach it.  Let’s look at someone who lived in the early 1700’s who was not popular because of his stance on holiness – John Wesley.  Here is a single passage from the journal of John Wesley:

1738
Sunday a.m., May 7, preached in St. Lawrence’s, was asked not to come back anymore.
Sunday p.m., May 7, preached at St. Katherine Cree’s church, deacons said, “Get out and stay out.”
Sunday a.m., May 14, preached at St. Ann’s, can’t go back there either.
Sunday afternoon, May 21, preached at St. John’s, kicked out again.
Sunday evening, May 21, preached at St. somebody else’s, Bennet’s maybe, deacons called special meeting and said I couldn’t return.

1739
Tuesday, May 8, afternoon service, preached in a pasture in Bath, 1,000 people came to hear me.
Sunday, September 9, preached to 10,000 people three weeks in a row in Moorfields

It may not be popular, but most people really do want to hear the truth.

  •  By the mercies of God – How do you measure the mercies of God?  Were it not for the mercies of God, you and I would not be here today.  It is only His great mercy that we are able to get ourselves out of bed, dress ourselves, feed ourselves and find our way to the House of God.  We take so much for granted.
  • It is only because of His mercy that we were born in this great country.  Yes, it is a great country even with its sin. 
    • It is only because of His mercy we have a place like this beautiful sanctuary to worship in.
    • It is only because of His mercy that somebody somewhere told us about the saving grace of Jesus.
    • It is only by His mercy that we have a mind capable of coming to the conclusion that He is the one who will take us, shape us, and make us in the image of his own self.  GLORY!!!
  •  That you present your bodies – You cannot present your body to serve God and continue to allow your mind and your will to go unbridled and service the flesh.  It’s all or nothing. You cannot walk the fence and serve God.  The devil, the enemy of your soul, can duplicate everything in the Christian’s life.  Everything except one thing.  Think about it.  The devil cannot duplicate consistent holy living.  You must have the indwelling power of the Holy Spirit to live a life pleasing and holy before God.  You are just not strong enough on your own.  You need help!  God’s help – daily, hourly, every moment 24/7 365.

Psalms 46:1 – “God is our refuge and strength.  A very present help in time of trouble.”

James 4:7 – “Therefore submit to God.  Resist the devil and he will flee from you.”

You cannot get past the temptation if you are debating the devil or continuing to dwell on the temptation.  The scripture says to first, submit to God.  Another passage says He will give you a way of escape.  To resist the devil so that he will flee from you may take many forms.  One way would be, instead of dwelling on the temptation, go and do a good deed, start singing praises to God, or reach for your Bible.  Do anything except debate the devil unless you can quote him a scripture or two.  BUT IT STARTS WITH SUBMISSION TO GOD.

Ephesians 5:8 – “For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord.  Walk as children of light.

  •  A living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God – A lot of things have come down the pike regarding the term “holy” or “holiness.”  What does the Word of God say about the matter?  It is not what Aunt Tillie, Uncle Joe or grandmother says.  It is not what a church organization says.  It is not what some ecclesiastical potentate of some sort says.  It is what “thus says the Lord.”  Are you pleasing to God?  That is what matters.
  •  Your reasonable service – Reasonable, rational, intelligent, logical, not in any way unreasonable.  He never demands or asks anything you cannot do. 

Philippians 4:13 – “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”

1 Corinthians 6:20 – “For you are bought with a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.”

Hebrews 10:23 – “Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful.

  •  Do not be conformed to this world – You do not belong to this world any more.  You are a child of God.  Act like it; speak like it; live like it.  You are fashioned after, shaped as, conformed like Him if you indeed have received Him.  You are not your own.  You belong to Him and you belong to each other.  When you live in a manner less than your Heavenly Father intends for you to live, you bring reproach on Him, on the church and on each other.  We are all part of the same body, so we need to have respect for Him, for the church, for each other.

1 John 2:15-16 – “Do not love the world or the things in the world.  If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.  For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.

Romans 6:6-7 – Know this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin.  For he who has died has been freed from sin.”

  •  Be transformed by the renewing of the mind – When you came to Christ, you had a heart transplant, but you also needed your thinking rewired.  That did not happen necessarily at the same time.  You were changed, but the change did not happen automatically.  The mind changed when God’s presence so overwhelmed you at your request and His delight as you became one with Him in the sanctifying grace and power of the Holy Spirit.
  •  That you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God – If we are living as we should, we will show forth the Lord’s glory in our life and be in His perfect will.  Are you living in His perfect will?  Is your life bringing glory to Him?

Being holy is not a dispensational thing.  God has demanded holiness from all time.  Look at one more example of a man who tried to live holy – John Chrysostom.

John Chrysostom was one of the greatest of the Greek Church fathers.  He lived in A.D. 347-407.  Pastor of Antioch and Bishop of Constantinople, he was called “Golden Mouth.”  He preached a lengthily series of sermons on Genesis, Matthew, John and Romans, most of which are still available today.

As a very young Christian he was brought before the emperor, who said that if he would not give up Christ; he would be banished from the country.  Chrysostom said, “You cannot, for the whole world is my Father’s land.  You can’t banish me.”  The emperor said, “Then I will take away all your property.”  “You cannot.  My treasures are in heaven,” was the reply.  “Then I’ll take you to a place where there is not a friend to speak to.”  Chrysostom replied, “You cannot.  I have a friend who is closer than a brother.  I shall have Jesus Christ, forever.”  The emperor finally threatened, “Then I’ll take away your life!”  The answer was, “You cannot.  My life is hid with God in Christ.”  And the emperor said, “What do you do with a man like that?”

I AM

Jesus said “I AM”

  • “I am the living bread.”  John 6:51
  • “I am the bread of life.”  John 6:48
  • “I am the good shepherd.”  John 10:11
  • “I am the light of the world” – John 8:12
  • “I am the door of the sheep.” – John 10:7
  • “I am the door.” – John 10:9
  • “I am the way, the truth and the life.”  – John 14:6
  • “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End,” – Rev. 1:8
  • “I am He who lives, and was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore.” – Rev 1:18

Who am I: – married, in love with my spouse, talkative, college grad, music lover, gardener

What describes you?

  • I am a child of God, heir with Jesus Christ!

Romans 8:12-17 – Therefore, brethren, we are debtors—not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. For if you live according to the flesh you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.  For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, “Abba, Father.”  The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together.

  • I am not ashamed!

Romans 1:16 – For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek.

2 Timothy 1:12 – For this reason I also suffer these things; nevertheless I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed to Him until that Day.

  • I am redeemed from the hand of the enemy!

 Psalm 107:2 – Let the redeemed of the LORD say so, Whom He has redeemed from the hand of the enemy.

  • I am forgiven and delivered from the power of darkness!

Colossians 1:13-14 – He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love, in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins.

  • I am persuaded!

Romans 8:38-39 – For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” 

  • I am saved by grace through faith!

Ephesians 2:8 – For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God.

  • I am crucified with Christ – I am alive!

Galatians 2:20 – I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.”  Galatians 2:20

  • I am free!

John 8:37 – Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed.

  • I am a new creature!

2 Corinthians 5:17 – Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.

  • I am more than a conqueror!

Romans 8:37 – Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.

  • I am what I am by the grace of God!

1 Corinthians 15:10 – But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me was not in vain; but I labored more abundantly than they all, yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.

  •  I am my brother’s keeper

Cain asked:

Genesis 4: 9 – Am I my brother’s keeper?

Jesus answered that:

Matthew 19:19 – He said you should love your neighbor as yourself.

Freedom and Responsibility

Romans 8:5

For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit.

Romans 6:5-7 – For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin. For he who has died has been freed from sin.

Romans 6:13-14 – And do not present your members as instruments of unrighteousness to sin, but present yourselves to God as being alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God. For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace.

Galatians 5:1 – Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage.

Galatians 5:13 – For you, brethren, have been called to liberty; only do not use liberty as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.

  • Setting our minds on what the Spirit desires is not something that happens automatically after salvation.  Following the Lord is still an act of our will.  Remember that Jesus does drive His sheep; He leads them.  When we are being driven, we have no choice but to move.  But when we are following, we can choose to move or not.
  • After we are saved, after the Holy Spirit takes up lodging within, we have a kind of “barometer” at our spiritual core.  This barometer senses any decrease in fellowship with God, warning us that something is amiss.  We can make things right again by asking Jesus to expose our old bad habits or whatever is disrupting our fellowship with Him.  This is called daily confession.  As we allow ourselves to be refined our communion with Him is restored on an even deeper level.  No earthly pleasure is worth losing that communion—not even for a short time.
  • Things may be difficult.  Things may be hard to understand and at times things may seem like they are going nowhere but down, down, down.  Put your trust and confidence in Jesus and they will change.
  • Don’t give up.  God says, “I will bring to pass what I have promised.”  God says, “Don’t’ be discouraged by the enemy.  His is a defeated foe.  You will be victorious.  You must stand in Christ.

Give Me Freedom

Romans 6:16-18

Don’t you realize that you become the slave of whatever you choose to obey? You can be a slave to sin, which leads to death, or you can choose to obey God, which leads to righteous living. Thank God! Once you were slaves of sin, but now you wholeheartedly obey this teaching we have given you. Now you are free from your slavery to sin, and you have become slaves to righteous living.

Show me a person who is not a slave!!!!

“One is enslaved to passions, a second to profit, a third to status and everyone to fear.”  Seneca, first century Roman philosopher.

What are you a slave to?

Romans 6:16-18 – All of us were ( “were”) slaves to sin for Christ saved us by the shedding of His blood on the cross when we finally got around to recognizing that we had been a slave to sin.  We came as sinners to the foot of the cross and acknowledged our need of a Savior.  He forgave us.  Yea!  Hallelujah!

There is no moral authority today – if it feels good, do it!

Proverbs 30:12 – There is a class of people who are pure in their own eyes, and yet not washed from their own filth.”

Isaiah 5:20 – Woe to those who call evil good and good evil.

Romans 12:1-2 – I urge you by the mercies of God to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.  And be not confirmed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.

Some of us, still knowing we were forgiven, remained in slavery, bound to some of our sin or at least some of the beggarly elements of servitude.  What should have been a radical transformation and total about-face seemed partial or non-existent.

Oh yes, we were saved but we certainly had not been really transformed in the way we thought, talked and behaved and continued to live our life.

Story is told of a young man who had an addiction to donuts, eating six or seven at a time.  He was very overweight.  He worked on it and lost a lot of weight.  He woke up one morning craving a donut.  When he arrived at work with a donut, his coworker questioned him, saying “I thought you had given up donuts.” 

His response:  “I prayed and told God if there was an open parking spot right in front of the donut shop when I went by, I would know it was okay for me to stop and get a donut”  What he did not tell his coworker was that there was an open parking spot on his eleventh time around the block.  That’s about the way we treat temptation.

We read our Bible when we thought about it and did not have anything else to do like a favorite TV program, shopping, watching a football game, watching “As the Stomach Turns”,  going to Olive Garden or McDonalds or whatever else was transient gratification.  (That’s a big word for “current need for self-satisfaction.”)  We prayed, especially when we got into trouble.

A Christian is someone who changed – transformed – made new in His image – set free from slavery.  That’s really the crux of this whole thing.  We had gone through the motions of being set free, but we were still in fact enslaved.  Christ had forgiven us up to that point (repeat) of our asking for forgiveness.    

The Bible say “For He (Christ) is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”  We had, so to speak, by asking forgiveness, emptied the backpack of sins on our back.  Sins we had carried around, or was it a duffle bag full, or maybe it was two duffle bags full or maybe it was a wheelbarrow and a duffle bag.  For me it was a dumpster – not the kind sitting out back, but the kind they drop off at a house getting a demo job. (sins)

Actually we were still enslaved, though forgiven.

Don’t misunderstand me – Christ did forgive us when we asked Him to – no more guilt from all the baggage of sin.  No real change, however, we just started stacking up the whole rotten, stinking load again.  We were still enslaved – saved from our sin of the past but now we are like a totally irresponsible person and our enslavement begins all over again in a life of guilt and shame.

We had prayed – maybe we shed a few crocodile tears, maybe some minor course correction but really still enslaved.  If we are to be Christ-like there should be some change in our life.

The book of Jeremiah is a book of doom in so many ways; a tale of God’s wrath and judgment for man’s failure to follow Him.  But hope is intermingled there.  Jeremiah 29:11 says  “For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.”

 That scripture is the promise of hope that even in our sin, our turning away, our rejection of Him who loves us, even in the midst of His judgment He offers hope.  He offers us the best that we could ever hope to have.

That’s what Jeremiah is about….that sums it up.  It’s not about simply turning from sin because it is wrong.  It’s not about simply turning from sin because it means a turning back to God.  God wants these things, but He wants them because, like any good father or husband, he does not want us suffering the consequences of sin.  You may be forgiven from your sin but that sin put a scar on your memory that you may never forget and Satan will taunt you over it even though you are now a follower of Jesus.  Believe me, I know from a personal standpoint and I’m old.  He wants to provide something far more wonderful than our dreams and hopes could imagine.  He wants His people to be in good marriages (remember – we are the Bride of Christ) not just because it is right, but because it is through marriage, through our relationship with Him that He can shower upon us love, security, purpose, hope.  It is where He can demonstrate what the union between god and man is meant to be.  Paul used marriage as a way to explain the church’s relationship with God.  God wants us to avoid sin and turn to Him, because he has been planning since the foundation of the earth to give us good things. 

We turn away from God’s commands out of fear, anger, rebellion, stupidity  and we miss not simply heaven, but in the here and now we miss an abundant life.  There is hope amidst the judgment, joy among the bitterness, grace amidst the sin.  God promises in Jeremiah that “when we get serious about searching for Him and want it more than anything else, I’ll make sure you are not disappointed.”  God is not a lover that disappoints; He is not a shady salesman or politician.

This passage of hope in Jeremiah comes after he says in the preceding verse that “As soon as Babylon’s seventy years of captivity are up and not a day before, I’ll show up and take care of you as I promised and bring you back home.”  This promise does not negate His judgment of the consequences of sin, but God, knowing the rejection of Israel (and of us) having dealt the punishment we deserve, He gives His people a second chance.  He says He has plans for them, to take care of them, to not abandon them, to give them a future, a hope.  The people who so poorly treated Him are offered the keys to the kingdom, so to speak.  It is proof that God’s wrath and judgment are not enough to extinguish His love or His belief in His people.

Jeremiah is a book of judgment laced with hope.

There is a consequence for sin but we have hope. 

We simply were not free.  We were still enslaved.  We had experienced

Christ’s free gift of grace, but it was like we were – in spite of His grace – bad, bad, bad.

Romans 6:1-4 says “What shall we say then?  Shall we continue in sin that grace may more abound.   The answer – No – No – No

Romans 6:3-6 – Or have you forgotten that when we were joined with Christ Jesus in baptism, we joined him in his death? For we died and were buried with Christ by baptism. And just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glorious power of the Father, now we also may live new lives.  Since we have been united with him in his death, we will also be raised to life as he was. We know that our old sinful selves were crucified with Christ so that sin might lose its power in our lives. We are no longer slaves to sin.

Galatians 5:24 – Those who belong to Christ Jesus have nailed the passions and desires of their sinful nature to his cross and crucified them there.

We have been set free.  Let us walk in that freedom in obedience to God.

I’m free!

Running the Race

1 Corinthians 9:24-27

Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it.  And everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown.  Therefore I run thus: not with uncertainty. Thus I fight: not as one who beats the air.  But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified.

  • What is right and what is wrong?
    • Right – those things that bring glory to God
    • Wrong – those things that go against the very nature of God’s holiness
    • Gray area?
    • Acquired sin factor – those things taught, believed, culturally identified with wrong, but in and of itself was not wrong.

2 Timothy 2:15 – Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.

1 Corinthians 9:19-22 – For though I am free from all men, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win the more;  and to the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might win Jews; to those who are under the law, as under the law, that I might win those who are under the law;  to those who are without law, as without law (not being without law toward God, but under law toward Christ), that I might win those who are without law;  to the weak I became as weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all men, that I might by all means save some.

These verses speak of freedom but are followed by verses 24-27 which emphasize a life of strict discipline.  The Christ walk involves both freedom and discipline.  The goals of Paul’s life and our life are to bring glory and honor to God and bring people to Christ.

So then…glorify God, honor God, and bring someone to the knowledge of the saving grace of Jesus Christ.

You might ask yourself, “Can I do this?  Can I participate in this?  Can I go there?  Can I say this?  The Bible states that we are to “abstain from the very appearance of evil.”

Paul compares the Christian life to a race.  Someone who is getting ready to run a marathon will be very careful of their diet, will exercise and get needed rest before the race.  They will not sit up watching movies until the wee hours of the morning and indulge in a huge meal the night before the race.  There is nothing wrong with sitting up late watching movie or indulging in a huge meal in and of itself.  But if they want to win, they discipline their body.

So it is with our Christian walk.  They are things that in and of them self are not wrong, but we must ask our self  will they sidetrack us or someone else?  Will they cause us to be entangled in the cares of this world?

if they hinder us from spending time in God’s Word, in being in fellowship with other Christians, in showing to our community, we need to reject them.

Freedom and discipline are both important.  We can have varied opinions on a lot of things but we must discipline ourselves and also care about how our freedom will affect others.

! Corinthians 10:1-6 – Remember our history, friends, and be warned. All our ancestors were led by the providential Cloud and taken miraculously through the Sea. They went through the waters, in a baptism like ours, as Moses led them from enslaving death to salvation life. They all ate and drank identical food and drink, meals provided daily by God. They drank from the Rock, God’s fountain for them that stayed with them wherever they were. And the Rock was Christ. But just experiencing God’s wonder and grace didn’t seem to mean much—most of them were defeated by temptation during the hard times in the desert, and God was not pleased.

The same thing could happen to us. We must be on guard so that we never get caught up in wanting our own way as they did. And we must not turn our religion into a circus as they did—“First the people partied, then they threw a dance.” We must not be sexually promiscuous—they paid for that, remember, with 23,000 deaths in one day! We must never try to get Christ to serve us instead of us serving him; they tried it, and God launched an epidemic of poisonous snakes. We must be careful not to stir up discontent; discontent destroyed them.  (The Message Bible)

Free is fine, but do not use your freedom to stray, to walk in those areas that could lead you into wrong doing. 

Take care that your freedom does not cause you to rebel.

Sanctity of Life

1 Corinthians 6:19

Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own?

Webster’s dictionary describes “sanctity” as “Holiness of life and character:  Godliness.”

Life is Holy…why else would He say “You are the temple of the Holy Spirit.”   If His game plan was to live in you, why would He not want a dwelling that was holy? 

We are to be God-like.  That is the way He intended us to be.  To be God-like or godly we must be Holy.

Did He not say “Be holy as I am holy?” – 1 Peter 1:16

We often think about the sanctity of human life in relationship to the Roe vs. Wade decision that was made several years ago.  There is more to the sanctity of human life than the issue of not aborting babies.

Life begins in the womb.  God intended that the act of creating another human life would happen between husband and wife, but whether or not that life begins by way of rape, incest, pedophilia, failure to abide by God’s rules, sexual promiscuity or by way of a married couple, that life created is still holy.   The means to become life may have been accomplished in an unholy way, but that new life, make no mistake about it, is holy.

All life is holy in God’s eyes.

Life is a Trinity.  It is physical, it is spiritual, and it is social.

  • Physical body: 

Way back in the Garden of Eden in Genesis, chapter 2, we find the creation of man by God Almighty.

Verse 26 of that chapter states, “Then God said, ‘Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness.’”  Verse 27 continues, “So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.”

In verse 28 it says, ”God blessed them and God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over’”  He meant there to be a physical union between man and woman. He designed us that way, to come together and produce off-springs.  That was His first command to mankind.  He could have duplicated all down the land one Adam after another and taken a rib out of every one of the Adams and created an Eve, but that was not His intention.  He created us to be truly physical and do the further creation of human life on our own.  And if you look around you, I believe we have done that.

The physical body was created to bring honor and glory to God.  Any violation of God’s intention of the man and woman coming together in sexual union would have corrupted God’s original and only plan for mankind.

Psalms 139:14 – I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; marvelous are Your works, and that my soul knows very well.  My frame was not hidden from You.  When I was made in secret, and skillfully wrought in the lowest parts of the earth.  Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed.  And in Your book they all were written, the days fashioned for me, when as yet there were none of them.

Did you hear that last phrase “the days fashioned of me, when as yet there were none of them.”   God knew how many days you were going to live when you were still an embryo in the womb.  You are Holy.  

  • Spiritual Body

Our Spiritual Being…that is the real me, the real you.  When this body is laid in the grave and decays, your spirit will live on forever.  If you are a child of God, the moment you draw that last breath, your spirit goes to be with God.   At His coming “the trumpet shall sound, the Lord shall descend.”  “Behold, He comes with ten thousands of His saints.”  He will come with the saints…those spirits of the ones who have followed Him in this life and their bodies shall come forth out of the grave incorruptible and their spirits who have been with the Lord will be reunited in their glorified bodies and “so shall we ever be with the Lord.”

But what of our spiritual body now?  What is it, where is it and what is its purpose?  It is in fact the breath of God within you and what God intended you to be.  Your spirit resides within you and is you, and directs your path because it is your God given directional compass that guides and directs you in all manner of life.  Now, being a free moral agent you may decide to go your own way and ignore the direction of God, but His Spirit belongs to you. You may insist on rejecting Him, and in that case you will be fulfilling that portion of scripture found in Paul’s letter to the church in Rome.

Romans 1:21 – because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened.

Our spiritual body was ordained to have a relationship with the Creator.   All that is within me, within you, cries out to the living God for a relationship.   Job had that relationship when He exclaimed “I know that my Redeemer lives.” 

That part of you that is God is Spiritual.  It desires to worship and praise Him.  It is designed to maintain and lift up the glory of God.  

My prayer is that all I think, say and do will bring glory to the living God.  If in our spiritual walk with God we do that very thing, we will have a happier, more enjoyable life, here on this earth and throughout all eternity.  Jesus said, “I have come to give you life, and that more abundantly.”  Have you partaken of that abundant life?  If you have made Jesus your Lord and Master, you have abundant life.   We tend to think on the mediocre but God wants us to focus on the abundance that He has blessed us with.  “Blessings all mine and ten thousand beside.”     

  • Social Body

Man is a physical, spiritual and social being.  Man was made for fellowship with God and his fellowman.

We all love fellowship.  We love to eat and talk and interact with each other.  God is good and as we fellowship one with another as a body of believers we are finding out a little more about our neighbor across the table and we begin to know them better.  The better we know them socially, the more we know of their spiritual life and their likes and needs and prayer needs.  We begin to interact with one another and become the social being we were meant to be.  Then at the close of the service we pray for one another’s needs and concerns.   That is socialization of the body of Christ as it was meant to be.

One verse says, “We are not our own, we are bought with a price.”  If we are not our own, then whose are we?  Well, we belong to God first, then to each other.  The Word says that “when you come together, let one have a song, let one have a testimony, let one have a praise.”  I Corinthians 12:25-27 “There should be no division in the body, but the members should have the same care for one another.  And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it, or if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it.   You are the body of Christ, and members individually.”

There is unity and diversity in the body for we are all different.  We all have needs physical, spiritual, and social.  Let us minister one to another and thus fulfill the will of God.  Amen and Amen.  Now, go forth and be the man or woman of God you are called to be.  May God be praised.

What is Required?

1 Corinthians 4:1-2

Let a man so consider us, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God. Moreover it is required in stewards that one be found faithful.

What is a steward?

A steward is one who looks after and manages the household of another. C.S. Lewis in Mere Christianity notes that “Every faculty you have, your power of thinking or of moving your limbs from moment to moment, is given you by God. If you devoted every moment of your whole life exclusively to His service, you could not give Him anything that was not in a sense His own already.

What is faithfulness? What would you consider to be faithfulness? What margin of error would you allow? Would you require 100% 50%, 10%?

  • If your auto worked 50% of the time, would you consider it faithful?
  • If your spouse was faithful 75% of the time, would you consider them faithful?
  • If your children only loved you when they needed something, how would you feel?
  • If you only received a check half the time, how would you feel?  Would you keep working at that job?
  • What about your church?  If the doctrine changes every week, the teaching flip flopping with the changing wind, would the church be faithful to the Word of God and to you?

Dr. Laura Schlessinger noted that “The path to solid, supportive, healthy relationships, self respect and a quality life starts with the usually painful decision to do the right thing.  Regardless of emotions and temptations, to be fully human and to benefit from life, you must get back to the three C’s –Character, Courage and Conscience

What is faithfulness? – I’m glad you asked!

  • Steadfast in affections, loyal
  • Firm in following the promises made or in doing one’s duty as promised
  • Conscientious
  • True to facts, constant, faithful

Do you waffle on your faithfulness to God?

Hebrews 4:12 – “Let us hold fast to the profession of our faith without wavering; for He is faithful that promised.” 

He is faithful! His love is everlasting.

Hebrews 8:13 – “I am the same, yesterday, today and forever.”

Romans 8:35-39 – “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?  As it is written: “for Your sake we are killed all day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.”  Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.  For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, 39 nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” 

What part of “Thou Shalt Not” did you not understand?

James 1:22 – “Be doers of the Word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourself.” 

God is not willing that any should perish, but our sin separates us from God.

Romans 12:1 – “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.”

Proverbs 3:5-6 – “Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.

What is your basis for trust?  Will your faithfulness stand the test?  You know that God will meet your needs, answer your prayers, keep you from harm, and heal your body because of his past faithfulness.  What of your past faithfulness to Him?

  • Question:  If God was as faithful to you as you are to Him, where would you be today?

1 John 1:9 – “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” 

Considering what Christ has done for me, what kind of person should I be?

The Power of God

1 Corinthians 2:1-5

And I, brethren, when I came to you, did not come with excellence of speech or of wisdom declaring to you the testimony of God. For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified. I was with you in weakness, in fear, and in much trembling. And my speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of human wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith should not be in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.

  • Definition:  Man’s Wisdom – learning more and more about less and less until you know everything about nothing.
  • Example of man’s wisdom:  A statement attributed to the 16th President of the United States, Abraham Lincoln:

“I have been driven to my knees many times by the overwhelming conviction that I had no where else to go.  My own wisdom and that of all about me seemed insufficient for the day.”

2 Timothy 3:1-5 – “But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away!”  

1 Corinthians 1:18 – “For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.”

Romans 1:16 – “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek.” 

  • We talk about that power but God talks about purity, faithfulness, obedience, prayerfulness (just to name a few).  Forgiving one another, loving our neighbor as our self, mercy.
  • Wanting the power of God in our lives is fine, but the power of God will only come as a result of the manifestation of purity, faithfulness, obedience, prayerfulness.
  • Wanting the power of God in our lives or ministry is very similar to some wanting a gift.  The gifts are the manifestation of the Holy Spirit but they first need love for God and others.  Then the rest follows. 
  • What gift of ministry can God trust you with? 
  • Are you accountable?
  • The power of God does not come without some personal cost:  In Matthew 17:19-21, Jesus told the disciples that it takes prayer and fasting to overcome unbelief in some instances.  Jesus spoke these words upon the return of the 70 disciples sent out by him: 

Luke 10:19 – “Behold, I give you the authority to trample on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall by any means hurt you.” 

2 Corinthians 11:23-28 – “Are they ministers of Christ?—I speak as a fool—I am more: in labors more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequently, in deaths often. From the Jews five times I received forty stripes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods; once I was stoned; three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I have been in the deep; in journeys often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils of my own countrymen, in perils of the Gentiles, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; in weariness and toil, in sleeplessness often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness— besides the other things, what comes upon me daily: my deep concern for all the churches.”

  • How many of these have you been through?  If you cannot make it out to church when it rains, do not expect any special ministry gift from God.
  • Strength/power from God comes by way of prayer, faithfulness, reading His Word, loving your neighbor, helping those in need, giving of time, talent, finances, self.

James 1:27 – “Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world.” 

Micah 6:8 – “He has shown you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.” 

  • What the Word says about God’s power:

Job 26:14 – “Indeed these are the mere edges of His ways, and how small a whisper we hear of Him! But the thunder of His power who can understand?”

Psalm 66:3 – “Say to God, ‘How awesome are Your works!  Through the greatness of Your power your enemies shall submit themselves to You.’”

Zechariah 4:6 – “So he answered and said to me: ‘This is the word of the LORD to Zerubbabel: ‘Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,’ says the LORD of hosts.’”

Romans 1:16 – “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek.”

Ephesians 1:15-19 – “Therefore I also, after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints, do not cease to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers: that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him, the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power.”

Ephesians 6:19 – “Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might.”

2 Timothy 1:7 – “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.”

2 Peter 1:3-4 – “as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue, by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.” –

The Communion of the Holy Spirit/The Saints

2 Corinthians 13:14

May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.

  • Koinonia – communion, having in common, a partnership, fellowship.  A participation with the Holy Spirit in particular and with the saints in general.  The comfort, strength and love we feel and have within us by the abiding presence of Christ Jesus.
  • Fellowship
  • Communion
  • Partaker
  • Partner
  • Share communication
  • Distribution
  • ALL from the same root word
  • Fellowship
  • Spiritual
  • Physical
  • Emotional

Acts 2:42 – All the believers devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, and to fellowship, and to sharing in meals (including the Lord’s Supper), and to prayer.

  • Right hand of fellowship – acceptance

Galatians 2:9 – and when James, Cephas, and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that had been given to me, they gave me and Barnabas the right hand of fellowship, that we should go to the Gentiles and they to the circumcised.

  • Relationship with the Lord

1 Corinthians 1:9 – God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.

  • Fellowship/like minded, the same love, unity, one accord

Philippians 2:1-7 – Therefore if there is any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and mercy, fulfill my joy by being like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.  Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men.

  • Contrast fellowship with Saints and God with fellowship with the world

1 John 1:3-7 – that which we have seen and heard we declare to you, that you also may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ.  And these things we write to you that your joy may be full.  This is the message which we have heard from Him and declare to you, that God is light and in Him is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.

2 Corinthians 6:14 – Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness?

  • What is fellowship with the world?  Anything that moves you away from the Lord and His church.
  • What is fellowship and communion of the Holy Spirit?  Anything that moves you away from sin or the world and is in line with the Scriptures.

Ephesians 4:1-6 – I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love, endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.  “ONE”

  • Successful Christian Living – Finding the will of God and doing it!!!!

God’s Word is Faithful

2 Corinthians 1:18-20

But as God is faithful, our word to you was not Yes and No.  For the Son of God, Jesus Christ, who was preached among you by us—by me, Silvanus, and Timothy—was not Yes and No, but in Him was Yes.  For all the promises of God in Him are Yes, and in Him Amen, to the glory of God through us.

One thing is for certain.  God’s Word is faithful.  It does not vary from day to day or hour to hour, season to season or year to year.  His Word is faithful to all generations.  It does not change.  It is the same yesterday, today and forever.

1 John 5:12-15 – He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life.  These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may continue to believe in the name of the Son of God.  Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us.  And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him.

The promises in His Word establishes, seals us, anoints us and guarantees to us all that He has for us as long as we walk in the Spirit and not in the flesh.  To be carnal minded is opposed to God’s will.

1 John 5:20 – And we know that the Son of God has come and has given us an understanding, that we may know Him who is true; and we are in Him who is true, in His Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God and eternal life.

Hebrews 13:8 – Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.

Hebrews 1:12 – Like a cloak You will fold them up, and they will be changed.  But You are the same,

and Your years will not fail.”

The message found in these short passages are positive messages from a positive gospel, for His Word is positive.  To be anything else is to be negative.  There are NO grey areas.  His Word is either positive, forever unchanged or it is totally unreliable and untrue and cannot be depended upon.  Which is it for you?  You have to make up your mind.  If it is not reliable and true, then you might as well give up on your faith.  Either He really died on the cross for “whosoever believeth” or He did not.

There will always be naysayers.  There will always be skeptics and doubters.  The Word of God calls that double minded.

Where is my mind when I dwell on “I can’t”, “it’s impossible,” “there’s no way,” “it can’t happen?”

Philippians 4:8 –Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.

This passage tells us to dwell on the positive, the good things in life.

Philippians 4:13 – I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

Give your doubts to God and believe positive affirmations to what the Word says.

The weather forecast always tells you what the percentage of rain, snow or stormy weather will be for the next day or the next month.  Most people usually consider rain, snow or bad weather as a negative.  We talk about the 40% chance of rain, but what about the 60% chance of sunshine. God’s Word says “as long as the earth remains, there will be summer and winter and spring time and harvest.”  The cycle of weather was created by God for our benefit so are we not grumbling against Him when we complain about the weather. 

The stop light is always 50% green, but we do not call it a “go” light but a “stop light.”

The Old Testament referred to the children of Israel “murmuring” for 40 years in the wilderness.  Do not grumble, but be thankful.  Put a smile on your face and praise God.  All the promises of God are positive.

Farmer Jones drove his big old farm wagon to market with a portion of his bumper crop of potatoes.  Someone complimented him on all the great crop of potatoes he had harvested.  His reply was, “Yeah, but not one rotten one to feed the hogs.”  Some people just like to be negative.

Matthew 21:22 – And whatever things you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive.”

Ever hear of that old hymn of the church, “Great is Thy Faithfulness?”  His faithfulness is everlasting!