Posts Tagged ‘sacrifice

29
Jul
13

Confronting “comfortable Christianity”

When the things we accumulate in this life become OURS that is when our love for God grows cold. When the things God has blessed us with become a way to bless others, our love for God becomes passionate and white hot.

If there is one common denominator found in all the men and women mentioned in the FAITH HALL OF FAME in Hebrews 11 it is their willingness to sacrifice something that meant more to them than life itself. Whether money, offerings, pride, friends, family or their physical life; those who are the real believers literally live as though their life is not their own.

Doing what God wants done is rarely easy and always demands sacrifice. This is the lesson Jesus communicated time and again during His earthly ministry. I think we have become so laid back in our faith that we have lost sight of just how profound the sacrifice was Jesus demanded from the twelve men he called to be His disciples.

In each case, Jesus demanded the man immediately forsake his livelihood, family and friends and follow Him. Have you ever stopped and considered the ramifications of this in the particular situations these men were involved in? Matthew was a well paid tax collector who had to immediately quit his job and work for free. Peter, James, John and Andrew were fishermen who provided income for their father’s businesses. What happened when they just walked away from the fishing business?

Peter had a wife for we know he had a mother in law. I am sure many of the other twelve had wives and children. Can you imagine the impact it would have on these families for the husband/father/breadwinner to just drop everything and follow Jesus?

The case for “comfortable Christianity” calls for a life of leisure with no demands placed on one’s life. This pseudo faith promotes self glory, self righteousness and self prosperity. Any talk of sacrifice is immediately debunked as being devilish for somehow the faith has been twisted and turned into being all about ME instead of all about HIM.

Did Jesus sit down with each prospective disciple and offer them a guaranteed contract worth millions of dollars if they just signed on with Him? Did Jesus have a huge compound built to bring his disciples to where they would sit in comfortable chairs and receive instruction on His doctrine? Did Jesus and His disciples travel throughout the Holy Land in a nice air conditioned bus, holding meetings in plush resorts and after the meetings all go play golf?

NO, NO, NO to all this foolishness. The lifestyle demanded by Jesus was marked by self sacrifice and the willingness to do without so as to help others receive God’s blessings. Nowhere in Gospel is there anything that would indicate that the reason to become a follower of Christ is to RECEIVE but rather to GIVE.

How have we become so twisted and turned around in our thinking to believe that the reason for accepting Christ as Savior is to receive blessings, honor, wealth and glory IN THIS LIFE? This whole sordid mess makes me physically nauseated for it is completely wrong and opposite to the truth.

The more abundant life Jesus came to bring is the promise of eternal life that we receive when we turn our hearts over to HIM. By placing all the emphasis on laying up treasures in this life Christianity has succeeded in diminishing the real reason for Christ coming to begin with. Jesus came to save us from our sins which separated us from God. Jesus did NOT come to hand us the key to some mystical place full of golden faucets and private jets and huge Swiss bank accounts.

The heart of our Christian faith is found in the SACRIFICE of our Lord Jesus upon Calvary’s cross. May we never in this life forget the price He paid for our redemption and salvation and may we never in this life fall prey to the selfish belief that He gave His life for us to become rich in this world. Riches beyond our wildest dreams await us for all eternity if we are willing to lay down our lust for them in this life at His feet. By doing this we prove we really do love God with ALL our heart, soul, mind and strength.

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14
Apr
13

How committed to our Christian faith are we–really?

Is the Word of God really the truth? This is the question we must ask ourselves every time a situation arises that challenges our professed faith in God and commitment to obey and follow His Son Jesus Christ. It is not enough to mouth the words “I believe”, for anyone (including demons) can do that. The only way to prove our faith and loyalty is to put our faith on the line through taking God at His Word.

For lucky Christians who walk around with a big smile plastered on their face and nary a care in the world to bother them; it is easy to forget how difficult it is to stay faithful in the face of adversity. For those Christians who only know how to preach, hellfire and damnation to anyone who disagrees with them; it is easy to lose touch with the reality of life in the real world and how hard it is to grab hold of the truth and never let go.

I can say with absolute certainty that the only reason I am still standing for God is because of my conviction that the Word of God (as expressed in His Son and through His written Word) is true no matter what things look like, how I feel or what is going on in my family, finances or faith. I refuse to yield to the temptation to blame God for bad things that happen to me. I refuse to believe the Word of God could be wrong.

The temptation to compromise the truth in the heat of battle is huge. When the executioner says he will spare your life if you renounce your faith, the temptation to compromise is overwhelming for your life is at stake. When your spouse or children threaten to not leave if you soften your stance on matters, the temptation to compromise is overwhelming for your family is at stake. When your employer threatens to terminate you if you wear a cross or refuse to lie, the temptation to compromise is overwhelming for your livelihood is at stake.

Deep within our hearts, each one of us has to decide what we really believe and how much do we believe it. From this belief will grow either a flimsy faith that is easily shaken and quickly discarded when trouble arises or a firm faith that the devil himself cannot break. The degree of conviction in our hearts is a personal matter between us and God. But, each one of us must establish the boundaries and limits of our faith. No one can do this for us.

How important is your personal faith in God? The answer to this question lies in how much you are willing to sacrifice for your faith. Ultimately, the level of our faith and conviction comes down to how deeply we believe that God is faithful, His Son Jesus Christ is LORD and His written Word is true. Unless we are WILLING to climb in the fiery furnace, get out of the boat, stand up to Goliath or spend 40 years wandering in the wilderness; how can we say our faith is strong?

Unless we are WILLING to give up everything to follow our Lord, lose our friends and family to stand on the truth or live in a tent eating locusts; how can we say we really believe the Word of God is true? Our willingness to believe is determined by the degree of faith in our hearts that God is faithful, Jesus is LORD and the written Word of God is true. Are we willing to put everything on the line for the truth?

25
Mar
13

Our redemption, justification, righteousness, reconciliation and sanctification in Christ

Simply put, we believe that Jesus Christ was the expression of the love of God as He became the perfect sacrifice for our sins and our eternal redeemer. We believe that God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that we might live through Him.

Justice demanded the transgression of Adam be paid for and the penalty for that sin was death. God, being the righteous yet just judge that He is, allowed Jesus (who was perfect in every way) to be the legal substitute for sin and thus pay the price for it. This definition of REDEMPTION is crucial to our understanding and appreciation of what Jesus Christ did and why it is so awesome.

The only way God could legally overturn His judgment of “guilty” and acquit us of all crimes against Him was for Jesus Christ to willingly lay down His perfect life as the payment and eternal sacrifice for sin. Because Jesus took upon Himself the original transgression of Adam as well as every sin (past, present and future) of all people; God was able to legally render His “guilty” verdict null and void and acquit us of all charges against us. This definition of JUSTIFICATION allows us to stand RIGHTEOUS in God’s presence without any sense of guilt or condemnation.

Our redemption, justification and righteousness released us from the penalty of sin which is death. Although we still sin, we have an advocate with the Father who is Jesus Christ. He pleads our case before the righteous judge and allows us to live with no condemnation or judgment. Simply put, God made Jesus (who knew no sin) to become a sin offering for us so that we might become the righteousness of God in Christ for the rest of our lives.

With sin no longer separating us from God, we were able to be reconciled to God and the relationship of peace with Him restored. This restoration of the relationship and fellowship with God that was disrupted, disturbed and destroyed by Adam’s sin allows us to walk in fellowship with God and be set apart by God unto eternal life with Him. This definition of SANCTIFICATION is what gives us and God great joy and comfort in this life.

Put together, our REDEMPTION, JUSTIFICATION, RIGHTEOUSNESS, RECONCILIATION and SANCTIFICATION allow us to live without fear of God’s wrath. We are able to live and stand in the grace and mercy of God. Because all legal requirements for our redemption were fulfilled in Jesus Christ and God eternally rendered His verdict of “NOT GUILTY” through the resurrection, we have no reason to fear eternal punishment.

Jesus Christ truly is our redeemer for He purchased our freedom through His atoning blood. Through the resurrection, we can boldly proclaim that our redeemer truly lives for us, through us and in us. Will we choose to live for Him?

10
Feb
13

If God said… Could we and would we believe, trust and obey Him?

If God said that He wanted you to give away all you own and live in a tent wherever He sent you; could you do it? Would you do it?

If God said that it was time to depart this life and come home to Him; would you yell and scream and say it is unfair or would you rejoice in anticipation of seeing God face to face?

If God said that He wanted you to rise up and become a leader for Him; would you do it or would you find a million reasons why you can’t?

If God said you must endure illness or suffer physical pain; could you handle it or would you complain?

If God said you must suffer persecution for what you believe, be defamed and ridiculed for your faith; would you be blessed or spend the rest of your life sulking?

In each of these cases, the scenario was introduced by the phrase “if God said”. If God says something it is indeed His Word. Believing God’s Word is not limited to that which is written in the Bible or spoken in prophecy. The Word of God is anything God says whether universally for all to hear via His written Word or individually as He speaks to our heart.

This world has conditioned us to believe that to really be happy in this life, we must have oodles of “things”, live 90 or more years, be successful in one’s profession, have no physical ailments or diseases and have no enemies. Unfortunately, many Christians believe their faith automatically gives them all these wonderful things and more.

Christianity is not defined by how many things you own, how long you live, how many children and grandchildren you have, how cool you are, how handsome or beautiful you appear, how healthy you are or how many friends you have. The truth is, Christianity has nothing to do with any of these things. If this is what a person desires, they should NOT become a Christian.

At the core of our faith is a loving and trusting relationship with our Lord Jesus Christ. At the center of our faith is the burning desire to be a son in whom God is well pleased and honestly say our will is not important but rather doing His will. At the heart of our faith is our cry “Abba Father”.

If everything was ripped away from you and you were left naked and alone on a desert island, would you still be blessed and thankful or would you drown in self pity and complain about how unfair God is?

If every friend deserted you, you wife or husband left you, your children despised you and your parents disowned you due to your Christian faith; would you still love God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength or would you walk away from Him angry and bitter?

We all need to honestly evaluate where we are at spiritually once in awhile and if we have fallen away, we need to be as the Prodigal and come home to the open arms of our loving and forgiving Father.