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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.

Hiding His Word

Psalm 119:10-12 – “With my whole heart have I sought thee: O let me not wander from thy commandments. Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee. Blessed art thou, O LORD: teach me thy statutes.”

I’m terrible at hiding God’s word in my heart. Oh, I know story after story and content and reasonings but memorization- nope. Not my forte. And here’s my reasoning behind it…or maybe it’s just my excuse. 

I learn concepts. I learn reasons. I learn the how and why behind things. It is how my brain works. Now, that’s not to say that some Scripture doesn’t stick in there from time to time. But it is more when I can apply it to something or have had some form of close interaction with the verse that I remember it. 

But despite not being able to spout off chapters or verses, God still hides His word in me. His word should be seen in my choice of speech – how and when I say things. His word should be seen in my actions – how and when I respond to things. His word should be seen in my thought process – thinking of others before myself. 

Hiding his word should be more like planting His word. I need to establish God’s word so deep in my heart that when things grow within me, they should shine with the Light of God’s love. Every step I take should be a seed planted further into the ground. Every word I utter should be seasoned with God’s grace and mercy. Every thought I think should be filtered through His word. 

His word needs to be applied and utilized. Anyone can memorize Scripture with enough practice and dedication. At the same time, anyone can apply and live God’s word with practice and dedication. 

So let me encourage you today to plant God’s words. Don’t just hide them on the surface of your heart. Hide them deep within you so that your actions, your words and your thoughts are affected by the power of His word. 

On my heart

James 5:16 – “Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.”

This verse has been on my heart and in my mind the last couple of days. 

As with any sermon, there are many lessons that speak different things to different people. And although this specific verse may or may not have been used, God brought it to my mind when I was at church in Sunday. 

We NEED to pray for one another. 

I began studying different portions of my Bible at the beginning of the year. After my Bible study, I began an “On my heart” section of each page. I have found that it keeps growing and growing. As I open my heart to those God lays upon it, my list gets longer and longer. I find myself praying for different people randomly throughout the day. God brings them to my heart and I say a word of prayer for them. 

Now, does that make me righteous and holy? Absolutely not. It does show me that I am being available. That’s what God wants. He wants availability and teachability. He wants me to listen closer to Him in all areas of my life – prayer, decisions, actions and words, just to name a few. 

I want to encourage you to start an “On my heart” list. God wants your availability. The best way to get started is by listening. And once you hear, act. That’s part of being available- the willingness to act. Pray for one another. Let’s see what God is going to do today. 

Me and the mirror

James 1:22-25 – “But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves. For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass: For he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was. But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed.”

I was listening to the radio the other day and I heard this message being preached. It was based on these verses in James.

When you go to church and hear the Word of God preached, are you changed? Are you changed every single time? We should be. This shouldn’t be something we have to contemplate or wonder about.

The speaker I heard gave this example. When you go to a golf match, do you leave before the players have played the 18th green? Probably not. You want to stay around and see the whole match. You want to see the last shot taken to win the match. And when you do see the shot, you don’t typically leave right when it is finished. You stick around and marvel in the moment. You just saw a great shot that won the match. It was incredible. You want to remember this moment forever. You go home. You talk about it. You think about it. You draw encouragement from the struggle and subsequent success.

The point is this – do you do this with the worship service that you have at church? Does it change you to the point that you don’t want to leave or do you bolt to the door as soon as the last prayer is “amen”ed? Do you think about what was said throughout the week? Do you contemplate applying the truths of God’s Word to your life?
Why is it that we let a sporting event change us more that the Word of God? Why is it so hard to allow God to change us? Why are we only hearers and not doers?

I can only speak for myself. I think that sometimes I fall into a routine. And that is wrong. Serving God should never be routine. God is constant and doesn’t change but that doesn’t mean He is routine.
I’m at church pretty much every service. I’m not perfect by any stretch of the means. I listen and occasionally take notes. But I’m a “forgetful hearer” sometimes. I want to be more of a “doer of the work”. I want to have a change in my life every time the Word is opened.

It’s a challenge – to not let the stuff of the world take you over and consume your thoughts. It’s hard to choose to let His Word change you, every single time. But I don’t want to become hardened. I don’t want my service to be routine. I want to revel in the moments where He has changed me. I want to remember them often and fondly. And although I don’t always like what I see in the mirror, I must remember. I cannot loose sight of what and who I really am – a sinner saved by grace.

Bloom where you are planted

Mark 4:26-29 – “And he said, So is the kingdom of God, as if a man should cast seed into the ground; And should sleep, and rise night and day, and the seed should spring and grow up, he knoweth not how. For the earth bringeth forth fruit of herself; first the blade, then the ear, after that the full corn in the ear. But when the fruit is brought forth, immediately he putteth in the sickle, because the harvest is come.”

The other day I was walking into work and I noticed something – a flower growing in the gutter of the building. It always makes me smile when I see something like that. A tiny, beautiful little flower growing way up high in a place where flowers really aren’t supposed to grow.

It made me think about what God expects of us. Here we are in this yucky old world where society is ever trying to sweep us away. And we are supposed to be just like this little flower. We are supposed to grow no matter what. Despite the circumstances, despite where we are at, we are supposed to grow. And we are supposed to produce fruit. We are supposed to bring hope to those around us by showing the beauty He has created within us.

I know that no one person purposefully climbed up on a ladder and planted that seed up in the gutter. But I believe that God put that seed up in that gutter for a very specific reason – He wanted me to see it and He wanted me to remember that it is so very important that we grow where we are planted. You may be planted in a fertile field where people are coming to Jesus every day. Or you may be planted in the desert where birds of prey are waiting to pick your bones dry. Either way, we are instructed to grow. If cactus can grow in the desert, then so can you. You just have to get creative. Cactus produce fruit as well. They provide water for animals and flowers to grow other cactus.

The endpoint is this – Christ’s return is coming soon. Harvest time is almost here. How much fruit are you producing? Is it bountiful? Or are you just scraping by? We can’t grow without the Living Water supplying all that we need. We can’t produce without the Master Gardener pruning and encouraging growth. So get with it, sister! Get that soil fertilized and get those weeds pulled. Times a wastin’!

Very superstitious

1Thessalonians 5:22 – “Abstain from all appearance of evil.”

I teach the young teen Sunday school class at my church. I love those kids. They are so much fun.

This weekend, the lesson was on animism. Do you know what animism is? Dictionary.com describes it as “the belief that natural objects, natural phenomena, and the universe itself possess souls”. It also includes the belief in superstitions. Heavy stuff, I know.

So what is my point? Do followers of Christ have any business in animism? No. They do not. Let’s start at the beginning. Where did the soul come from? What has a soul? Genesis 2:7 – “And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.” God did not complete this task with any of His other creations. He did not breath life into the trees. He did not breath life into the animals. He did not breath life into any of His creations except man. And that is special. That makes mankind the only creation with a soul. Well, that pretty much disproves animism, according to the Dictionary.com definition.

Now onto superstitions. The invoking of superstitions is very prominent in our society. “Knock on wood”. The one about a black cat crossing your path being bad luck. Breaking a mirror brings seven years of bad luck. There are people who will put statues in their yards to keep the bad spirits away. And that is only the tip of the iceberg. Ask anyone and I’m sure they could name at least a dozen more.
But what does our belief or saying of superstitions say about us? As I was thinking about my Sunday school lesson, it made me think about how often and when I consider these things. I don’t believe the ones about mirrors or black cats, but I do say the “knock on wood” one often. What does that mean when I say it? It means that I don’t trust God to take care of it. I feel that I need some other source to manage the problem. It is really a trust issue. Do you really trust God to take care of you or do you think you have to do something to help things along a bit?

So how does this tie in with the Bible verse? God is encouraging us through the writing of Paul to keep away from things that may look evil or that you may look evil while doing them. Even the goofy, little things that seem harmless. In the scope of things, you may lead someone astray by believing that a broken mirror will cause bad luck. How much better would your testimony be if you explained that you don’t believe in these superstitions because you trust Jesus to take care of things instead of leaving it to chance? Just that one simple step of being different has the potential to be huge.

So my challenge to you is to choose to get rid of superstitions. And if you believe that anything other than mankind has a soul, I challenge you to search the Scriptures and determine for yourself what the Word of God says on the subject.
This blog is all about getting the reader to grow – to grow closer to God, to get into the Word of God and to be more expressive about the Word of God. It is time, sister, to stop being closed mouth and timid. 2 Timothy 1:7 – “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.”

Everything you need

Philippians 4:19 – “But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.”

Would you ask a first grader to write an essay on proper leadership within a multi billion dollar company? Probably not. (I was going to say quantum physics but most adults would not be able to write a paper about that! I know I wouldn’t!)

Anyway, as ridiculous as that sounds, don’t you think it sounds just as ridiculous to think that God would send us out unprepared and ill equipped to do whatever He is asking us to do? I think so. I believe God is constantly training us and encouraging us to grow. I think that through this growth, He is preparing us to do something amazing. However, I feel that oftentimes we hold Him back. We let our fears and reservations keep us from reaching our full potential.

And don’t think that I am just referring to going to a foreign mission or quitting your job to devote yourself to the Ministry. Those things are vitally important to the Kingdom of God. At the same time though, I think that it is the little things in life that add up to make a big difference – deciding to move to a new house, starting a new job, beginning a Bible study in your home, getting up 45 minutes earlier to read your Bible on a daily basis. All these things may seem small and trivial, no big deal, but they are. They can have a huge impact on your life and the lives of everyone around you.

The one thing I want you to get out of this today is this – When God asks us to step out and do something, He provides everything we need to do it. He doesn’t leave us hanging. It is not like a bird pushing his little bird out of the nest and forcing it to fly. No, God has His mighty hand under us and holds us the whole way.

So if God is asking you to change, to make things different in your life, to get out of your comfort zone, don’t be afraid. A new adventure is just around the corner if you are brave enough to peek at it.