2Chr. 15:7 (sound in thy statutes;)
Prov.4:23. John 1:47
Be ye strong therefore, and let not your hands be weak; for your work shall be rewarded. (Gen.15:1. Ruth 2:12. Ps. 58:11. Matt.5:12-46. Luke 6:35. Col.3:25.)
Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are issues of life.
Jesus saw Nathanael coming to him and saith t0 him, Behold an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile!
via New Tab
This Life of Sacrifice
We live in a self-indulgent age. Advertisers tell us to pamper ourselves and get all that we can as soon as we can. Politicians promise high-cost “freebies” that only a few years ago required years of hard work and sacrifice to procure. Many people think nothing of going thousands of dollars in debt to get that certain car or house or vacation or ticket to the big game. If we want it, we will find a way to get it for ourselves.
Christians cannot be self-indulgent. Getting for ourselves is inimical to the way of God. As Herbert Armstrong often said, God’s way is the way of love, of give, of outgoing concern. Selfishness in any form turns Christianity on its head, making a mockery of the many sacrifices that form its foundation and the freely given grace of God that makes it possible.
It begins with God the Father. Perhaps the best-known verse in Scripture—posted in view of the cameras at televised sporting events—declares His sacrifice in initiating His plan of redemption: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16). As the great and almighty Sovereign of the universe, the Father was positioned to dictate how He would work out the purpose He envisioned, bringing many sons and daughters into His Family. In His love for us, He chose to set the supreme example by sacrificing what He loved most “that the world through Him might be saved” (verse 17).
And His Son did the same. Philippians 2:5-7 informs us that the One who became Jesus Christ did not cling possessively to His power, glory, and equality with God, but readily consented to humble Himself to be incarnated as a lowly servant, a human being. Beyond that, “being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself [again] and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross” (Philippians 2:8). As He told the Jews in Capernaum, He would sacrifice His flesh, His precious life, “for the life of the world” (John 6:51). To cover the sins of those who would believe in Him and provide access to the Father—and thus a relationship with Him—Christ, infaith, was willing to give up everything.
The Father and the Son have not been the only ones to sacrifice. In the long history of God’s people, sacrifice has been a constant. Abel and Enoch both gave their lives for God’s way and truth. Noah sacrificed many years and his reputation to build the ark, not to mention all of his relationships with relatives and friends lost under the waters of the Flood. Abraham sacrificed his home in Ur to live in tents, and then God required him to slay his heir, Isaac, the son of promise. In Abraham, we not only have a type of God the Father’s own sacrifice, but we also have the supreme example of sacrifice among God’s people. He is “the father of all those who believe” (Romans 4:11), whose faith we follow.
Consider what Moses sacrificed to obey God. In his speech to the Sanhedrin, Stephen recounts that “Moses was learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians, and was mighty in words and deeds” (Acts 7:22). He had education, experience, position, wealth, and all the advantages of life in Pharaoh’s court.Hebrews 11:24 suggests that, more than these other things, he was in line to become the next King of Egypt, as the title “son of Pharaoh’s daughter” indicates. But the verse asserts that he refused the title, “choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God than to enjoy the passing pleasures ofsin, esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures of Egypt; for he looked to the reward” (Hebrews 11:25-26).
The Bible is full of similar examples of men and women of God who were called on to sacrifice their ways of life and their desires to follow God. Judges, kings, prophets, apostles, and lay-members alike had to give up their carnal plans and aspirations in this world to walk a different path, one of the Spirit, following a purpose that others could not see. This life of sacrifice remains as the general course of Christian living.
As Paul teaches in Romans 12:1, we have been asked to “present our bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.” Usually, we are not required to die as martyrs, as many who practiced this way in former times were. That time will come again, but it is not yet. Most of us now are required, rearranging Paul’s words, to sacrifice ourselves while living. We do this by being holy and acceptable to God. In other words, our daily life as members of the Family of God will involve intensive sacrifice to maintain holiness and acceptability before Him. To be even more plain, the Christian life is hard!
The apostle’s next verse tells us where the struggle will lie: “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” (Romans 12:2). Our frequent, even constant, sacrifices will pivot around the clash-point between the way of this world and the way of God. Sometimes we will have to give up something we desire in the world because it aims to draw us back into its clutches, and at other times, we will be required to sacrifice something in ourselves to meet the high standards that God has set for His people.
Paul illustrates this struggle in several different ways throughout his epistles. Sometimes he writes of putting off the old man and putting on the new (Ephesians 4:22-24). In other places, we are to quit walking in the flesh and start walking in the Spirit (Galatians 5:16-26). In Colossians 3, he urges us to “put to death” our earthly ways (verse 5) and “seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God” (verse 1). However it is described, he speaks of the same tension between sin and righteousness that exists in every Christian’s life, and which intensifies rather than diminishes as a Christian grows in grace and knowledge.
Yet, it is sacrifice that is the key to overcoming sin and making progress toward the Kingdom of God. The internal resistance we feel to giving up what we have come to claim as ours is proof of this. This resistance is our carnality demanding satisfaction—self-indulgence—by refusing to let go of even harmful things like anger, offense, gossip, lies, hatred, pride, greed, and other sins. “They are ours,” our human natures say. “They are what make us what we are. We refuse to get rid of them!” And too often, instead of giving them up, we give in to them, and the sins remain.
As Passover approaches, and we perhaps are struggling with a particular sin, it may be helpful to consider what we are refusing to sacrifice. By doing so, we might discover a path that will finally enable us to put that sin behind us.
– Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Day By Day By Grace Bob Hoekstra April 13th Eternal Life and Knowing God “And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.” (Joh…
Source: Eternal Life and Knowing God
Eternal Life and Knowing God
This statement by the Lord Jesus begins in a very profound manner:“And this is eternal life.” To complete such a statement requirescomprehensive truth. If the statement had started with “this isincluded in eternal life,” many non-comprehensive matters could be used to finish the statement. One could rightly state that forgiveness of sins is included in eternal life. One could properly say that escaping helland securing heaven are included in eternal life. Likewise, one could say that meaning and purpose for living are included in eternal life. Additionally, one could state that spiritual gifts and spiritual fruit are also included. Furthermore, one could say that fellowship in the body of Christ and new understanding of the Scriptures are included. Nevertheless, none of these individually, nor all of these collectively, are sufficient to complete the statement: “And this is eternal life.”
To finish that profound beginning, one must add an all-encompassingtruth. One must speak of the full dimensions of eternal life. What is large enough to complete that majestic opening? Only the one reality ofknowing God would be adequate: “that they may know You.” Yes, knowing God is what eternal life is all about. It is only through meeting the Lord that forgiveness is found. It is only by being in Christ that we escape hell and secure heaven. Then, it is only through getting acquainted with the Lord that meaning and purpose for our lives are made real to us. Also, it is only through a growing intimacy of trust in Christ that spiritual gifts and spiritual fruit can properly mature. Furthermore, it is only through an increasing acquaintanceship with the Lord that Christian fellowship and biblical insight are appropriately developed.
These truths certainly concur with those prophetic words of old that promised a new covenant of grace to replace the old covenant of law. “I will make a new covenant…not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers…But this is the covenant that I will make…I will put My law in their minds, and write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people…they all shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them” (Jeremiah 31:31-34). Hebrews 8:11 applies these words to followers of Christ. “All shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them.” The new covenant provides a growing, intimate acquaintanceship for all who will walk in its terms of grace.
Enriched with Grace by Christ
I thank my God always concerning you for the grace of God which was given to you by Christ Jesus, that you were enriched in everything by Him in all utterance and all knowledge…you abound in everything—in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in all diligence, and in your love for us. (1 Corinthians 1:4-5 and 2 Corinthians 8:7)
As we have seen, the new covenant of grace is essentially about developing a relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ. Our God desires to impart His grace into our lives through this acquaintanceship with His Son: “the grace of God which was given to you by Christ Jesus.” This phrase (“by Christ Jesus”) points once again to the intimate relational aspect of living in Christ by grace. God’s grace flows into our lives “by Christ Jesus.” It might be helpful to restate this truth. God’s grace comes into our experience by means of another person, the Lord Jesus. The limitless grace of our great God is available to us on the basis of who Jesus is and all that He has done for us. It is accessed whenever we humbly, dependently relate to Him.
The resources that continually await us are so rich. The believers at Corinth found this to be true. “You were enriched in everything by Him.” Two areas of God’s rich grace are mentioned here: “enriched…in all utterance and all knowledge.” God’s grace had enriched them with a great capacity to know the things of God and to put the wonder of those things into appropriate words.
When Paul wrote these saints on a later occasion, he elaborated upon the richness of grace that had become their personal experience. “You abound in everything-in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in all diligence, and in your love for us.” Three aspects are added here to the previous list: “faith, diligence, love.” By the grace of God at work in them, their capacity to trust in Him had been enlarged. By the grace of God at work in them, their attentive perseverance had grown.
By the grace of God at work in them, their loving concern for Paul and his missionary team had developed further.
When Paul prayed for other disciples of the Lord Jesus, he prayed in a manner that fits this picture. He prayed that their lives might be “filled with the fruits of righteousness which are by Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God” (Philippians 1:11). Righteous fruit, such as the Corinthians were enjoying, comes from Jesus Christ imparting His grace into our lives.
Heavenly Father, I again see that Your grace enriches my life by means of Your beloved Son. Lord Jesus, I humbly depend upon You to fill my life with Your righteous fruit, in Your holy name, Amen.