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Sacrifice

Leviticus 4:32-35 – “And if he bring a lamb for a sin offering, he shall bring it a female without blemish.And he shall lay his hand upon the head of the sin offering, and slay it for a sin offering in the place where they kill the burnt offering. And the priest shall take of the blood of the sin offering with his finger, and put it upon the horns of the altar of burnt offering, and shall pour out all the blood thereof at the bottom of the altar: And he shall take away all the fat thereof, as the fat of the lamb is taken away from the sacrifice of the peace offerings; and the priest shall burn them upon the altar, according to the offerings made by fire unto the LORD: and the priest shall make an atonement for his sin that he hath committed, and it shall be forgiven him.”

I am reading a fiction book about the life of Rahab. In my book, Jericho has fallen and she is now living with the children of Israel. She is learning about God and learning the Law. She just witnessed her first sacrifice for sin. She was called forth to put her hands upon the head of the lamb and then it was slain. The author described her reaction, her fear, her confusion, her humbleness before the Lord. 

It made me stop and think about what the sacrifice of the lamb represented – Jesus. I thought about His sacrifice for my sin. And I wondered, do I truly appreciate and understand that act of love? I don’t think I do, at least not like I should.

So, for a moment, put yourself in Rahab’s shoes as she placed her hands upon that lamb’s head. I’m sure she thought of all the sins that she had committed. She probably thought of all the lies she had told, all the men she had been with, all the evil thoughts she had about others. Maybe all those things paraded through her head like a bad slide show. And then, she felt the life go out of the lamb. At that instance, she knew that the innocent lamb had taken her place for the sins she had “given” to the lamb. Sin has a price and the payment was the lamb. 

My sin has a price. All the bad thoughts, judgments, laziness, lack of self control, bad choices – all of them have a price. And that price was paid with the blood of Jesus at Calvary. I can say that all day long, but do I let it seep into my heart? Do I let it flood my soul and appreciate what He truly did for me?

I need to do better. We are a generation of entitlement and don’t really stop and consider the sacrifice that someone else does for us. There is less appreciation for our military who give their lives for our freedom. There is less appreciation for our police who sacrifice to keep us safe. There is less appreciation for our teachers who educate our children. There is less appreciation for our medical personnel who study and sacrifice all kinds of things to keep us healthy. Everywhere you look you can see the failure of someone to appreciate the sacrifice that someone else has willingly done for them. No better place is this seen than in the church houses of our country where the neglect of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ is seen vividly by the declining numbers in attendance. And I am guilty, to a point. There are times when I feel like I need to rest and I stay home from a service. The Holy Spirit gets ahold of me and won’t let go. And for that, I am grateful – I know God is working in my life. But I shouldn’t even allow that thought in my head. It doesn’t show appreciation and gratitude for the sacrifice Jesus gave for me. 

So let me encourage you, take some time and read back through the requirements for sacrifices in the Old Testament. Read them, study them and compare them to the life of Christ. See His fulfillment of the requirements with His life and His blood. And then, thank Him genuinely for His sacrifice for you.

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St. Augustine “grass”

Galatians 6:1 – “Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted.”

Have I ever told you how much I detest St. Augustine grass? For me, it is no more than a glorified weed. We have it in our yard and I do believe it is on a mission to overtake the world. 

You see, this “grass” has tentacles that reach out and invade everything. It has sprung up in our bushes. It has overtaken our rose bushes. I believe it would attempt to destroy the house if given the chance. It is invasive and terrifying if you think on it long enough. When you go to pull out one “weed” you see in your bushes, that “weed” keeps going until you feel as though you are pulling out half the yard! It is maddening.

As I was facing this battle the other day, God reminded me of sin. Sin is a lot like this “grass” that I have in my yard. It may look nice and people may want you to take care of it, but in truth, you need to get it as far from you as possible. Sin invades. Sin takes over. Sin reaches out and deceives you into thinking it is just one tiny thing when in reality, it has taken over all parts of your life, if you let it. Sin is invasive and terrifying if you think on it long enough. 

However, we aren’t to be judges of people we see overtaken with sin. No, we are supposed to go alongside of them and show them a better way. We need to realize that we are none too high and mighty to escape the clutches of sin. It is only by the grace of God that we ourself have not been overtaken. Sometimes it is difficult to go up to that person you see ravaged by sin. We want to stay away lest we would be accused of such wrongdoings.

But Jesus wasn’t like that. He went to the overtaken. He reached out to them. He showed them a better way. And aren’t we supposed to be more and more like Him? Aren’t we supposed to be that light in a dark world? Aren’t we supposed to plant the seed and make disciples? We can’t do that if we are sitting back judging others.

So let me encourage you today to be that living testimony that people need to see. Don’t steer away from those who need Him the most. And don’t let the tentacles of sin overtake you. Be on your guard and listen to the Holy Spirit convicting your heart of unrighteousness. And for Heaven’s sake, pull some weeds! Happy Friday!

Perfection

Titus 3:4-7 – “But after that the kindness and love of God our Saviour toward man appeared, Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; Which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour; That being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.”

I saw a sign today for a church body that said “No perfect people allowed”. I have mixed feelings on this. 

On one hand, I’m thinking “that’s fabulous!”  Sometimes I think non-church goers make excuses in their head for not going to church because they have the perception that churches are filled with people who think they are better than everyone else. Well, not mine! We all know we are sinners saved by grace. We don’t go to church because we think we are perfect. We go because we know we aren’t! We know that the only way we are going to make it through until the next meeting is by soaking up what we can with our brothers and sisters in Christ. We know that personal Bible study is important, but worshipping as a group is important as well. We are continually learning that our righteousness is not in ourself but in Christ alone. 

And then on the other hand, I think of Jesus. He WAS the perfect person. He was all God and all man. He is the only “perfect” person allowed in a body of believers. 

So, the statement “No perfect people allowed” is somewhat correct in that no person physically walking the earth today can or will be perfect. 

I think perfection is a misconceived idea. There is no way that we will ever be complete while walking the sin-filled soil of this earth. (By the way, you do know that perfect means “complete”, right?) Jesus is the only hope we have for the possibility of achieving this goal. It is only a life in Him that opens that door. And even then, that door is in Heaven. So enjoy your imperfect life. With Christ, soon all things will be made complete. 

Casting stones

Matthew 7:1,2 – “Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.”

On Friday, a friend of mine posted a status on Facebook regarding the judgemental looks she received when going into a car dealership with her children and her two foster children. The post broke my heart. How could people possibly be so shallow not to even consider that those two little girls were not her own? They look nothing like her or her children. Yet, here they were having a meltdown in the dealership and instead of someone offering to help out, they just stared and offered nothing but condemnation. 

Gets your blood pumping, doesn’t it? I bet you are saying to yourself “how cruel and uncaring.” I know I was. 

And then I continued reading about her intervention to the girls’ meltdown. She took them outside for some quiet time where they continued their tirade and people leaving the building continued their glares. And then something happened- my friend began to cry. She said she wasn’t crying because she was frustrated or upset. No, these tears were, in part, due to her own conviction that she too had been the one glaring at some point in time. 

How many times have you walked into the grocery store and heard some child screaming and thought to yourself “man, I hope they are at the end of their trip and not the beginning.” Or you got behind the person in the check out line paying for their groceries with change. Or you are next to the person at the airport who can’t seem to figure out how the loading procedure works.

We have all been there and judged.  We have all done that – never taking time to consider another side to the coin.  But why do we not think that for some children the grocery store is way too stimulating and it makes their sensory issues go into hyper drive. Or maybe that person paying with change has been having such a difficult month that change was all they had to buy that gallon of milk. Or maybe that person at the airport is burdened with so much grief that standing is an effort.  

We never know what people are dealing with in their everyday life. Yet, we find ourself casting mental stones all the time. At least, I know I do. It is an area of conviction that God has laid on my heart these last two days. 

What if, instead of automatically assuming the worst, we automatically saw them with His eyes? Would we have more compassion and understanding or would we want to turn the other cheek?

It is so much easier to judge and cast those mental stones. It takes work and effort to accept people and their circumstances. It takes work to want to be involved in someone’s life. And too often, we are so taken with our own stuff that taking on someone else’s problems has no appeal. Cast that stone and move on, right? 

Not according to Jesus. He reminds us here in Matthew that you will be judged the same way you judge. Try that on for size! It doesn’t fit so well. It hurts. We want grace and mercy. But giving it out is a whole other ballgame. 

So this week, I challenge you to see the opportunities to hold back those stones. Don’t throw them so quickly. See others the way Jesus sees them – just as broken and in need of Him as you are. 

Spring Cleaning

1 Corinthians 4:5 – “Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord come, who both will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will make manifest the counsels of the hearts: and then shall every man have praise of God.

It is that time of year again – spring cleaning. I have been on my hands and knees these last two days cleaning baseboards. I’ve also been cleaning doors and tile and just about anything that will stand still long enough for me to get my cleaning rag around it. I try to do this once a year – give everything a good once over. And as I sit here this morning at my kitchen table and see gleaming white baseboards and sparkling tile behind my stove, I am content. I love a good clean house. Too bad my house rarely sees that time for any length of time. 

But you know something about spring cleaning? People rarely know that you have done it unless you say something to them. They just come in and see the house the way it always looks after you have cleaned. It’s a little frustrating, actually. You spend all those hours scrubbing and getting the yuck out and no one notices. But you do. You know. And God knows. 

He knows it all. You know that little corner of your heart that enjoys something it shouldn’t? He knows. You know that website that you have vistited that you think no one will know about because you erased it from the history? He knows. You know that little thought you think in your head when you see someone? He knows about that too. You can’t hide anything from Him. You may be able to hide your dirty baseboards with furniture, but you can’t hide your sin from God. 

It is time to have a spring cleaning of the heart. It is time to take some time this weekend and reflect. Look at your heart and your attitude. When Jesus comes back and all things are revealed, will you be embarrassed by what is revealed about you? Oh snap. That’s right. Everything will be laid open when we stand in judgment for our sins. Not going to be a pretty day. 

BUT there is hope. We don’t have to wallow in our sin. We can climb out of the mud with the help of the Father, and we can get cleaned off and set up straight. See, that is the beautiful thing about mercy and grace. He is right there to pick us up when we find ourselves in a mud hole. 

So this weekend, Princess, it is your responsibilty to take a long, hard look at the reasons behind what you do. I sincerely believe that our attitude is the key to what we do and how we act. It stems from what we believe. If you believe Jesus Christ died on the cross for your sins and rose on the third day victorious over death and sin, the sister you have the opportunity to have the attitude of Jesus. And when you have His attitude, most every thing else will fall into place. It is when we put off the attitude of Christ that we have problems. So, do a little spring cleaning of the soul, if you will, this weekend. Pray about your attitude and ask for direction in changing it or modifying it, if need be. No one else may see the cleaning of your soul, but the One that matters will certainly appreciate it. 

Psalm 119:73-80

Psalm 119:73-80                                                                                                                                                                                             

   “73 JOD. Thy hands have made me and fashioned me: give me understanding, that I may learn thy commandments. 

   74 They that fear thee will be glad when they see me; because I have hoped in thy word. 

   75 I know, O LORD, that thy judgments are right, and that thou in faithfulness hast afflicted me. 

   76 Let, I pray thee, thy merciful kindness be for my comfort, according to thy word unto thy servant. 

   77 Let thy tender mercies come unto me, that I may live: for thy law is my delight. 

   78 Let the proud be ashamed; for they dealt perversely with me without a cause: but I will meditate in thy precepts. 

   79 Let those that fear thee turn unto me, and those that have known thy testimonies. 

   80 Let my heart be sound in thy statutes; that I be not ashamed. “

I read this this morning and was touched. So many good things in these verse. I would like to look at each one individually this morning. 


73 – This verse identifies God as my Creator. He formed me in my mother’s womb and fashioned me to His liking. Now, I ask Him to give me understanding. My desire should be to understand more and more of Him and His commandments. It’s growing, plain and simple. God created me and all I have to do is ask and He will give me what I need to grow in the light of His love. 

74 – Fellowship. When I am around my brothers and sisters in Christ, it should be joyful because they know that I have been seeking God’s council in all that I do. And I can’t have fellowship if I don’t make an effort to seek out those who follow the Lord like I do. Fellowship is about attending my Local New Testiment church. 

75 – Sometimes I mess up. I don’t always seek out God’s will and desire for my life. And when I stray off the path, there are consequences. That is the time when I have to suck it up and accept the consequences for my actions. That is one of the times that I know that I am loved because He cares about me enough to correct me. And I know that His corrections are always right and just. 

76 – Even in times of correction, He is merciful. He does not give me what I deserve. He comforts me through my consequences. He has promised to never leave me nor forsake me. I cling to that promise with all that I am.

77 – This verse makes me think about a mother correcting her child after the child has done something completely against the rules and it requires some harsh discipline. The mother holds the child in her arms and comforts the crying child while gently explaining why what they did was wrong and that when you do that thing, you will be punished – not because the mother enjoys it, but because the child needs to learn that there is a right and a wrong way to do things. 

78 – Sometimes people are going to be mean to me even when I am doing the right thing. In those times, I can’t dwell on ways to get back at them. I must choose to instead seek out God’s council and wisdom on the matter. I need to leave the revenge to God. 

79 – This is a lofty request, one that makes me a little nervous – encouraging people to turn to me. I don’t always give the best advice. I don’t always listen like I should. But as I look back over these last two statements, I see the problem – “I”. I try to give my advice and listen with my ears. I need it give God’s advice and listen with His ears. 

80 – Now this verse, I can relate totally to. I pray that my heart remains firmly planted in God’s garden. I want my fruit to be sweet to His sight and to His taste. I do not want to be ashamed of any thing that I say or do because I want all that I say and do to be a reflection of Him.


So, there you have it , Princess. My short little verse by verse of this section of Psalm that truly touched my heart this morning. 

Impressions

Romans 2:1,2 – “Therefore thou art inexcusable, O man, whosoever thou art that judgest: for wherein thou judgest another, thou condemnest thyself; for thou that judgest doest the same things. But we are sure that the judgment of God is according to truth against them which commit such things.”

Have you ever met someone and immediately made a judgement about them? You see the way that they act and dress and immediately form an opinion about them. I am so very guilty of this. And that is wrong.

I met someone recently that dressed nice, had a bit of a boisterous personality,seemed nice but at the same time a little rough around the edges. This person had told me that they are getting a divorce. I immediately thought that it had to be in part because of her personality. I found out yesterday that this person is getting a divorce because of domestic battery. God has really convicted my heart over this one. My heart is broken for this person. I can’t imagine.

Every day we meet so many people and we really have no clue about what is going on in their life. It’s like that song “Give me your eyes” by Brandon Heath. Every day we see people. We watch people. We make judgements about people. And we have no idea about what people are feeling or going through or dealing with – we need to get involved in people’s lives. We need to make ourselves available to people. We need to open up the door of opportunity to share Christ with the world.

We can’t just live in our own little spiritual bubble and expect the world to come to us when they have a problem. No! Jesus was out there, elbow deep in the problems of the world. He didn’t just sit on some mountain waiting for the lost and dying world to come to Him. He got out there in the nitty gritty and proclaimed the Good News.

Why do we sit back and judge when what the world needs is Jesus? Do we think we are too good to talk to them? Do we think that by involving ourself in their lives that we will somehow become tainted? If we think these things, we are guilty of sin, just like the people we are hesitant about.

It’s coming upon Thanksgiving in a week or so. We have so much to be thankful for and so many blessings to count. Yet, we need to reach out. We need to show someone that yes, I have been blessed immensely but I see your hurt and I want to share a bit of my blessings with you. Do something for somebody without expecting anything in return. Ask God to show you who He has in mind for you to bless and to be blessed by helping.

And choose not to judge until you have heard the whole story. The details are so very important. Life is too short to live high on your mountain away from everything that is important in life.