Christianity 201

May 30, 2020

God’s Sacrifice and What it Means to You

In the daily quest to highlight new devotional writers to you, I often find articles which are very well written but shorter than our usual format. For that reason, today I’m introducing two new websites. Click the headers to read the respective devotionals.

The first is from the website of CTCI, Christian Training Center International.

Does Jesus innocence allow for him to sacrifice himself for us?

I have missed God’s goal for my life (aka sin). A penalty must be paid. Jesus, the innocent lamb of God, takes my place as a sacrifice. Now that is some very good news.

When Jesus is called the Lamb of God in John 1:29 and John 1:36, it is referring to Him as the perfect and ultimate sacrifice for sin. In order to understand who The Messiah was and what He did, we must begin with the Old Testament, which contains prophecies concerning the coming of The Messiah as a “guilt offering” (Isaiah 53:10).

The whole sacrificial system established by God in the Old Testament set the stage for the coming of Jesus The Messiah, who is the perfect sacrifice God would provide as atonement for the sins of His people (Romans 8:3; Hebrews 10).

The sacrifice of lambs played a very important role in the Jewish religious life and sacrificial system. When John the Baptist referred to Jesus as the “Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29), the Jews who heard him might have immediately thought of any one of several important sacrifices.

With the time of the Passover feast being very near, the first thought might be the sacrifice of the Passover lamb. The Passover feast was one of the main Jewish holidays and a celebration in remembrance of God’s deliverance of the Israelites from bondage in Egypt.

The slaying of the Passover lamb and the applying of the blood to doorposts of the houses (Exodus 12:11-13) is a beautiful picture of The Messiah’s atoning work on the cross. Those for whom He died are covered by His blood, protecting us from the angel of (spiritual) death.

  • Luke 23:41 — And we indeed are suffering justly, for we are receiving what we deserve for our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong.”
  • John 12:32 — And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to Myself.
  • Hebrews 4:15 —  For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin.
  • Hebrews 7:26 — For it was fitting for us to have such a high priest, holy, innocent, undefiled, separated from sinners and exalted above the heavens;
  • 1 Peter 2:22 — who committed no sin, nor was any deceit found in His mouth;
  • Isaiah 53:9 — His grave was assigned with wicked men, Yet He was with a rich man in His death, Because He had done no violence, Nor was there any deceit in His mouth.

The second reading for today is from Dennis at the site Luke 252. (I love the analogy here!)

Is Your Life A Derailed Train?

Revelation 3:15-16 says, “I know your deeds, that you are neither cold or hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm-neither hot nor cold-I am about to spit you out of my mouth.”

There are a couple of reasons why God would prefer Christians to be cold rather than lukewarm: First, it is important to realize how much God loves each of us as individuals. John 3:16 teaches us that God loves us so much that He sent His only Son to die for me! When I live a lukewarm lifestyle, it hurts Him when I only want part of what He sent His Son to die for.

He came that we may have life more abundantly! But, there is even a greater reason why our lukewarmness bothers God enough that He would spew us out of His mouth. That reason is that He see a much larger picture of mankind and he sees the destruction caused by being halfhearted. Yes, Jesus dies for us individually, but He also died for all of us. 1 Timothy 2:4 says, “He desires all men to be saved.” The problem is that halfheartedness and inconsistency in our lives cause other people to fall away from God.

Let suppose we are in an area of the world where the main avenues for commerce are by rail. Suppose a train on a major railway were to halfway derail, part on the track and part off. In most cases it will take at least 3 days to get a crane to the area to clear away the wreckage, so that the track would be usable. But suppose this same train had completely derailed. Other trains could immediately continue on schedule. The first situation would probably not seem so bad, but it could cause 30 to 40 trains schedules to be cancelled and affect business all over the country. Hospitals could be waiting on blood or medications, and some waiting on food. In the second situation, although the train totally derailed, the only train affected was that one.

Your friends are watching and you cause the most harm to God’s kingdom when we are living a life that is partly on the track and partly off. In other words, are you keeping them from wanting to get closer to Christ? Live a life that would honor Jesus Christ. Reflect His glory and love to others today. God bless!

 

September 10, 2017

Sunday Worship

Your View of Worship is Reflected in Your Attitude When You Can’t

I have a number of pastor friends. I know that for some of them, a week off means, “I don’t have to preach this weekend.” But I’ve also heard the sentiment, “I don’t get to preach this weekend.” While I recognize that sermon preparation is arduous task, and also realize that we all have tough weeks, nonetheless the difference in attitudes is worth noting. Have you or people who know ever experienced

  • missing being able to give as you’d like because money is tight?
  • missing being able to serve as you’d like because the family is on vacation?
  • missing being able to preach, or sing, or teach because of illness?

The Psalmist wrote,

I was glad when they said to me, “Let us go to the house of the LORD.”    Psalm 122:1 NLT

For many, the trip to God’s house is done out of a sense of obligation, not joy.

In a verse many of you have sung, a reminder:

Serve the LORD with gladness; Come before Him with joyful singing. – Psalm 100:2 NASB

If you see giving as an act of worship, you’ll immediately think of this verse:

Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.  – 2 Corinthians 9:7 NIV

But in Deuteronomy 28, we see the opposite situation where a number of curses are promised in the event of disobedience, and one of these is:

Because you didn’t serve the LORD your God with joy and a cheerful heart, even though you had an abundance of everything,   – Deuteronomy 28:47 HCSB

Do we worship God out of a sense that we have to, or are we thrilled that we get to?

Worship should be wholehearted. Notice the multiple iterations of the following verse:

“You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.” –  Deuteronomy 6:5, Matthew 22:37, Mark 12:30, Luke 10:27; see also Deuteronomy 30:6, 13:3, 10:12.

The Westminster Shorter Catechism reminds us of our chief goal. I’ve added emphasis:

Q. What is the chief end of man?
A. Man’s chief end is to glorify God and to enjoy him forever.

It is certainly our duty to do so, but this should be done with delight, with joy, with pleasure. It should flow out of us organically; not as something which seems forced.

Worship never takes a week off, or even a day; nor wishes to.