Spiritual Sacrifice and Worship

I appeal to you, therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. – Romans 12:1 ESV.

Spiritual sacrifice and worship are different from physical worship and sacrifice. Spiritual sacrifice and worship have a direct relationship with our soul. Accepting Jesus Christ as our Savior allows us to worship God in Spirit and Truth (John 4:24). We can only worship God in this way (through Spirit and Truth). That is to say, the objects of physical worship and sacrifice (sacrificing money, animals, physical possessions or ‘worshipping’ God by singing hymns or going to church) are not the ‘real’ ways we worship God (since Jesus provided a new and truer way to worship God). Why are these physical examples not true worship? The answer may be that anyone can complete these acts and still not accept Jesus Christ as his or her Savior. Of course, the objects of physical worship and sacrifice will manifest, in unique ways, when one offers spiritual worship and sacrifice. Nevertheless, it is more important to live while spiritually worshipping and sacrificing. Thus, living a Christian lifestyle outweighs observing a Christian lifestyle. In other words, praising God by earnestly loving everyone is truer than praising God by singing a thousand hymns and not loving anyone.

Bloody Affair

So he let him alone. It was then that she said, “A bridegroom of blood,” because of the circumcision. – Exodus 4:26

I wanted to retract what I said in the last post because I thought I was incorrect in asserting that we [Christians] are true Jewish people and that we are the new Israel (formerly Jacob, lost in our sins). However, I have found more evidence in scripture to point to that we all have the promises of a Jew and Abraham through Jesus Christ. We “are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise” (Gal. 3:29 ESV; Gal. 3:14). The covenant of Abraham with God was a bloody one and required circumcision of the flesh, but now we have a new covenant [faith in Jesus] that requires the same ‘bloody’ sign, the circumcision of the heart (Gen. 17:10; Rom. 2:28). This circumcision of the heart makes all believers of Jesus as Christ a real Jew (Rom. 2:29). We are supposed to be kind to Israel and Jewish people, but aren’t we supposed to be kind to everyone (Mark 12:31)? Why should we respect the “Israel” nation more than our next door neighbor or the homeless person that we walk by downtown (Luke 10:29-37)? We are not to be partial in any way, just as God is not partial (Rom. 2:11). Therefore, all who believe in Jesus as Lord and Savior are covered in his blood (1 John 1:7; Rev. 1:5). Jesus Christ is our Bridegroom (Mat. 9:15; John 3:29). We are clothed in blood, which are [garments], our clothes of salvation (Isa. 61:10). Yet, again, it is all about Jesus! Jesus’ blood unites the human race through his blood. There is no black, white, Indian, Arabic, Chinese, or Russian anymore through Jesus Christ. One blood, one baptism, one Spirit (Eph. 4:5). Praise God over all.

Stone Hearts

We are responsible for the condition of our hearts. No one can control our hearts for us. Some might say that our souls are conditioned, but who has the final say so when it comes to our decisions? When God was about to bring the people of Israel out of Egypt by great signs and wonders he said that He was going to harden Pharoah’s heart (Exod. 4:21; Exod. 7:4). This could suggest that God personally makes Pharoah’s heart hard. However, why would God intentionally make someone evil? It is written that we are not challenged by God but are tempted by our own desires and our stony heart (James 1:14; Jer. 17:9). Hence, when Pharoah’s heart was hardened, God did not do it! God pronouncing that Pharoah’s heart was hardened was a result of what God was going to do through Israel. God may make people hate you because what He is doing through your life, but it is not God turning their emotions toward you into hate. It is them.

God has done something similar through Jesus Christ. He has given salvation to non-Jewish people to make the Jewish people jealous of what Christians have (Rom. 11:11). This means that Christians, those that believe in Jesus Christ will make people who are not believers in Jesus Christ, jealous of what they have. For Christians are the real Israel (Gal. 3:28; Rev. 3:9; Rom. 9:6). Israel has nothing to do with geneology anymore! Christ Jesus became the first man of our lineage when He came from and returned into heaven (1 Cor. 15:47-51). Therefore, if you believe in Jesus Christ you are a true Israelite, despite common belief. Who can argue with the words of God!

It is this new Israel that has not hardened their hearts. It is them, the believers of Jesus Christ, who are the real Israel and now have the hearts of flesh rather than stone (Ezek. 36:26). Your heart is in your control. It all boils down to whether you believe in Jesus Christ or not. Your heart depends on whether you believe that Jesus Christ is the son of the Almighty God. Your salvation depends on whether you agree with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and in your heart that Jesus did raise from the dead (Rom. 10:9). Believing Jesus Christ is following his commandments (John 14:15). So today do not harden your heart. If you know that Jesus Christ is real, than work hard to follow all of his commandments. May God bless those that hear the words of the prophets. Amen.

Prayer: Be With Me

Lord heavenly Father, God, you are always with me, even if I do not ‘feel’ you. You are always not about feeling but the filling of the Holy Spirit. You are inside of me and your Spirit calms me. Your light shines within me and warms my soul. My anxieties go away at the thought of you. You are all that matters. I will go away and be able to take nothing, only you. For you are my beginning and end. You are my Savior, Lord, Jesus. You provide my needs and bless me with my wants. Lord, teach me to know your ways. Teach me to love you like I should. I am helpless. I feel inadequate to praise you or give you honor. Lord, you deserve all praise and honor! For you are the highest God. The only God. Hallelujah! Only you can lift me up in the last day. Only you can lift my spirit up. Lord, what a privilege it is to love you. Please instruct me of what I must do. Let me know my future so I do not make mistakes. Please let me be a right disciple for you. Let me die with you in your persecutions and suffering. Lord, you are the Spirit within me that asks for things I would not. You are my reason. Lord, you are truth and let your reign be forever. Amen.

A Yoke of Slavery and War

For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery (Gal. 5:1 ESV).

We are free in Jesus Christ. Most people prefer freedom over slavery or serving someone perpetually. Others may claim that servitude is unavoidable. How does servitude transcribe spiritually? On one hand, people have freedom over their decisions. On the other hand, this freedom can be taken or given away. So why are we commanded not to subject ourselves to spiritual slavery if we essentially have control over our decisions? There is perhaps, an agent working to overthrow our capability to reason righteously. Conversely, all decisions that we make are our natural decisions and show our true character. Nonetheless, this largely depends on how we are made.

Biblically speaking, we are essentially made like God (Gen. 1:27). According to Scripture, our natural tendency is to be God-like. Howbeit, as Plotinus affirms, when we do not “detach” ourselves from the “tyranny of…desires which…can break in, drive and drag,” and bring us into subjection to our sinful flesh and outside “environment,” it is possible to act contrary to godliness (Third Ennead, Tr. 1, Ch. 9). “Externals,” according to Epictetus, must be avoided in order to remain “elevated, free, unrestrained, unimpeded, faithful, (and) modest…” (Discourses, Bk. 1, Ch. 4). For Plotinus, heeding to external stimuli can harm a person spiritually.

Aurelius places desire in an ‘internal’ environment and claims that a person letting desire take rule in them indicates an internal “impulse to do wrong” (Meditations, Bk. 2, Sect. 10). Likewise, Freud asserts that the human soul is independent to make its own decisions and passions are a product of not an outside force but of one’s internal desires (Thoughts on War and Death, Ch. 1). On one hand, scripture tells us that the Spirit of truth lives within us and we are naturally in the Spirit (John 14:7; Rom. 8:9,11). On the other hand, James writes, “each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire” (James 1:14).

Therefore, we were intended to be spirit-beings minding the things of the Holy Spirit, but there also exists this evil desire within us, ever since the sin of Adam, that is contrary to the Holy Spirit. Therefore there is a war going on not externally but internally, within our own bodies (Eph. 6:12). Nevertheless, God has deposited his Holy Spirit within us, the same spirit of Jesus Christ, who has made us free from having to be ruled by this government of darkness (Rom. 8:32,11; Col. 1:13; John 16:33). Yet, the good that we want to do, we do not do and the evil that we do not want to do we do (Rom. 7:15). May God bless you to reason spiritually and fight on the good side of the war, which is faith in Jesus Christ (1 Tim. 6:12).

Get Understanding the Jesus Way

It is imperative to understand God’s Word. This Word is Jesus (John 1:1-4). It is impossible to comprehend any fragment of knowledge without understanding. Some believe a person must have a Christian worldview to obtain true understanding. Conversely, people believe that anything that is mentally obtained is automatically understood. This is a possible interpretation of, “For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse” (Romans 1:20). This passage implies that all people understand God’s nature. Nonetheless, Augustine expresses that some philosophers exhaust themselves fruitlessly searching for understanding apart from God (The City of God, Bk. 8, Ch. 10). So what is understanding to God? In Proverbs, we are told to “Get wisdom, get understanding: forget it not; neither decline from the words of [God’s] mouth” (Prov. 4:5 KJV). We are also commanded to give our ear to wisdom and “apply [our] heart to understanding” (Prov. 2:2-3). According to the Bible, God’s word is supposed to become who we are. But this is a journey. “If thou [seek wisdom] as silver, and [search] for [wisdom] as for hid treasures; Then shalt thou understand the fear of the Lord, and find the knowledge of God. For the Lord [gives] wisdom: out of his mouth [comes] knowledge and understanding” (Prov. 2:4-6). Therefore, wisdom and understanding,  dispersions from God, result by pushing to find the Lord’s Word. So, to have understanding is to seek after Jesus with all that we have as if he was a lost treasure. For now, we have the directions toward this treasure [Jesus] given to us by God (Jer. 31:33)! If we seek Jesus in this way we will “understand righteousness, and judgment, and equity” and “every good path” (Prov. 2:9). God bless.

Creation of the Day

Creation of the Day

“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters. And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. God saw that the light was good, and he separated the light from the darkness. God called the light “day,” and the darkness he called “night.” And there was evening, and there was morning—the first day.” (Gen. 1:1-5 KJV)

God has always been existence and is an eternal being. However, the heavens, which we call the sky, and the earth, planets, solar system, and the whole universe, were not always in existence. God existed before the universe was created. Someone might have a point to argue if The First Book of Moses, called Genesis started by saying, “In the beginning, the sky and earth created God,” but this is not what the scripture says. God is creator of everything. “Everything” includes time, creation, and being. It may be difficult to understand how time can be created, but you don’t have to try to figure it out. You can’t. God’s wisdom far exceeds any wisdom that you will ever obtain (Isa. 55:9).

Before there was light there was darkness on the earth. The way the world is described in The First Book of Moses, called Genesis, in the first chapter and the second verse, illustrates a world of chaos, darkness, and an earth that was inhabitable for humans. Maybe some inhuman beings were there. Also, you might have not given this much thought, but how beautiful do you think the earth was before the light? It could not have been beautiful at all. How could anyone tell anyway? There was no light to see anything. A matter of fact, hell is described in a similar way (Mat. 22:13). Complete darkness filled the earth. The earth was unrecognizable and empty.

Then something amazing happened. God spoke! He said “Let there be light (Gen. 1:3).” You will come to find out that this very light is a symbol for the True Light, Jesus Christ (John 1:4-9). It is amazing to think, and you can’t forget, that none of this; the light, sky, and water existed before God created it. The light that God created was not for vanity. The light was created to bring warmth to the earth, to create beautiful sunsets, to provide light, so perhaps, some physical being could inhabit the earth like human beings.

One of the most important things to recognize is that the light was created when darkness was present. However, the light was not created for the darkness, and was not created to have the same purpose as the darkness. This is symbolic of the purpose, whether light (Jesus) or darkness (Satan), that you choose to follow. You are given a choice to follow darkness or light. The Apostle Paul writes to those people that choose to follow Jesus in The First Epistle of Paul the Apostle to the Thessalonians, by saying, “But you, brothers and sisters, are not in darkness….You are all children of the light and children of the day. We do not belong to the night or to the darkness (I Thess. 5:4-5 NIV).” The Light was created for you. It is not God’s intention that you live in darkness.

The Lord’s Hand Is Not Too Short

Foundational Scripture: Isaiah 59:1 KJV

Reference Scriptures: Isa. 59:1, Isa. 50:2, II Peter 3:8, Gen. 18:14, Num. 11:5, Num. 11:21-22, Num. 11:23, Num. 11:31, Jer. 32:17

In the 59th chapter and the 1st verse, of the Book of the Prophet Isaiah, we read the prophet Isaiah saying, “Behold, the LORD’S hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; neither his ear heavy that it cannot hear (Isa. 59:1 KJV).”

As Christians, we are supposed to believe that God is able to do anything. However, in this area of scripture, Isaiah highlights our reluctance to admitting that God can save. Isaiah also highlights the reasons why we do not see the saving power of God. These “reasons” originate with our own shortcomings of totally following God and thinking too small of God.

We have rejected God, and this is the principal reason why we do not experience the salvation of God. It is not because God is not able to save, but it is rather because we choose not to do what God tells us to do. “Wherefore, when I came, was there no man? when I called, was there none to answer? Is my hand shortened at all, that it cannot redeem? or have I no power to deliver? behold, at my rebuke I dry up the sea, I make the rivers a wilderness: their fish stinketh, because there is no water, and dieth for thirst (Isa. 50:2 KJV). God is not the reason for our calamity, we are. Our disposition to reject God has led us to desolation, destruction, and lack of spiritual and basic needs.

As human beings, we wrongly say or think that something may be too hard for him to accomplish. How can anything be too difficult for God (the creator of all mankind, creation, the heavens, the earth, all things seen and unseen) to accomplish? There is nothing in our lives that God is not able to save us from or accomplish. Remember, we are talking about his saving power, not a genie power to do whatever we wish. God’s main goal and will is for all of us to be saved and to see His will and purpose accomplished. God is able to accomplish anything. However, God’s timing will sometime not line up with when we think God should do or accomplish something, but there is good reason for Him doing so. “The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance (II Peter 3:8 KJV).” When Sarah, Abraham’s wife, doubted if the Lord could let her have a child at the age 90, God replied by saying, “Is any thing too hard for the LORD (Gen. 18:14)?” We should ask ourselves this same question often, while constantly reminding ourselves that No, nothing is too hard for God to accomplish in our lives.

Another area in our souls that makes us mistakenly miss what God is able to do for us is doubt. Sometimes the task that is before us may seem too large for the Lord to handle. Or we just cannot possibly conceive God doing something for us in such a big way when there are not any resources visible. God is able to create resources. He created everything! So He is able to speak resources into existence that were previously non-existent. When the Israelites were going through the wilderness, they complained that they did not have any meat like they had when they were slaves in Egypt (Num. 11:5 KJV). When God told Moses that He would give the people, all the people, meat, Moses doubted because of the resources and circumstances (Num 11:21-22 KJV). Moses said, “The people, among whom I am, are six hundred thousand footmen; and thou hast said, I will give them flesh, that they may eat a whole month. Shall the flocks and the herds be slain for them, to suffice them? or shall all the fish of the sea be gathered together for them, to suffice them (Num. 11:21-22 KJV).” Moses displayed doubt based on the surrounding resources. However, God answered back to Moses by saying, “Is the LORD’s hand waxed short? thou shalt see now whether my word shall come to pass unto thee or not (Num. 11:23 KJV).” And as God promised, quails were sent to the people of Israel for flesh to eat (Num. 11:31 KJV). We cannot look at our circumstances and use them to judge God’s ability to save us. Judging God by what we see, our circumstances and resources, leads to doubting God.

We can look to what God has created as evidence of what God is capable of. If we look all around us, we see people, beautiful trees, mountains, clouds, waterfalls, unique animals, snowflakes, the list is endless. We also experience things that are unseen, that God has created like emotions, angels, patience, kindness, meekness, Heaven, and innumerable other things. How can God, who created everything we see and don’t see, not be able to do anything? It would be unwise for individuals that see God for who He really is, creator of all things, and not believe that He is capable of accomplishing whatever He says He will accomplish.  In the Book of the Prophet Jeremiah, Jeremiah exclaims, “Ah Lord GOD! behold, thou hast made the heaven and the earth by thy great power and stretched out arm, and there is nothing too hard for thee (Jer. 32:17 KJV).”

The Lord’s hand is not short, but we make it short by blaming, rejecting, and doubting God. God never has the need to be evaluated or judged. However, our souls are in constant need of self-evaluation and judgment to see what is the reason we do not think God can save us or accomplish something in our lives. We see here, that the reasons originate within ourselves. So, there is no problem for God, rather we create problems within our own hearts. And it is our hearts that also lead to God not being able to save us.

Short Quiz

  1. What is the main reason we do not experience the saving power of God?
  2. What question should we constantly ask ourselves? What should be the answer to this question?
  3. What can we look at as evidence of God’s ability to do or accomplish anything?

Leave Your Stuff Behind

Scriptural Reference: Mark 10:29-30

Jesus says that there is no man that has left his house, brothers, sisters, mother, father, children or wife, or lands for my (Jesus’) sake. But he will receive a hundredfold of all these in this life with persecutions and in the world to come he will receive eternal life (Mark 10:29-30).

Abraham was told to leave the country from his kindred and God promised Abraham that He would make him a great nation, make his name great, and he would be a blessing to others (Genesis 12:1-3). God also shows us what it is like to come into a better “land” in (Genesis 45:20). The scripture says, “regard not your stuff; for the good of all the land of Egypt is yours (Genesis 12:1-3).” This scripture is not to be seen as only referring to material “stuff.” Rather, it points to spiritual things. This scripture is also not to be seen as a verse to use spiritually in order to receive material or physical blessings. The Christian walk sometimes leads us on a path far away from blessing, but persecution and trials. Look at the life of Jesus, Paul, and countless other prophets, apostles, and regular followers of Jesus that have had to undertake extreme persecution.

The better land is the new earth; us living eternally with God (Mark 10:30 & Revelation 21).

We get a picture of what leaving our kindred, country, and life looks like in (Exodus 32:25-29 & Deuteronomy 33:9-11). The people of Israel just created a golden calf and were worshiping it and dancing naked not knowing that God was giving Moses the Ten Commandments. Upon Moses’ return, he was disgusted at the sight of wickedness and sin that the people of Israel were partaking in. Moses stated that they have sinned a great sin and asked who will serve on the side of the Lord and all of the Tribe of Levi went to stand together with Moses (Exodus 32:25-29). The tribe of Levi separated themselves from the surrounding wickedness and from their bretheren.

Moses was a like person that left his “stuff” for God (Hebrews 11:24-27). He left despite the violence that could have occured to him. He did not count his life of any value because of the commandments of God (Hebrews 11:24-27 & Mark 8:34-38).

We see at times in the scripture, that God called people to leave their surroundings. We see this in the story of Lot, who was told to leave Sodom and Gomorrah to escape judgement (Genesis 19:1-29). At times in our lives, we may have to leave our place of familiarity, our comfort zones, and leave the “stuff” that we hold so dear. But as scripture says, “regard not your stuff.” There is a better land (Heaven and the new earth) (Genesis 45:20).

This stuff can be anything; houses, cars, money education, our looks, status, earthly power, and relationships. However, in the end, it is just stuff and cannot compare to living a life of eternity with Jesus Christ. There is no reason to try to accumulate all this earthly stuff when it doesn’t have everlasting value. As Jesus says, “What benefit or profit is it that a person gains the whole world, but loses their soul (Mark 8:36). What can a person give in exchange for their soul (Mark 8:37)?”

God calls for us to get out of ourselves, our sinful nature, and our worrying about our mortal well-being. God is our eternal reward, which outweighs any death, persecutuion, or turmoil that we can experience on earth (Romans 8:36-39).