Isaiah 61:1-3

The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is upon me, for the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to comfort the brokenhearted and to proclaim that captives will be released and prisoners will be freed. He has sent me to tell those who mourn that the time of the Lord’s favor has come, and with it, the day of God’s anger against their enemies. To all who mourn in Israel, he will give a crown of beauty for ashes, a joyous blessing instead of mourning, festive praise instead of despair. In their righteousness, they will be like great oaks that the Lord has planted for his own glory.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Offerings and Sacrifices, Part 2

I didn't really mean for this to be a two part-er. It may be more, we'll see what happens. I went to my Bible study tonight, and there were a couple of things that occurred to me.

First, offering is something that is done by our own free will. We choose to give something that we own or we give of ourselves. When we offer something to God, we choose to give it freely to Him. Not something that is done easily in some cases. I know from experience.

God gave us free will. That is what makes Him such a great God. Being a missionary, I have been all over the world. Panama, Russia, India, Nepal, Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam and Australia. I've seen some of the gods the people of these countries worship. I've been to temples in India and Vietnam. I've climbed the stairs of the Batu Caves in Malaysia. These gods that the people worship, they are stone. The attributes the people have given to the stone are ones of control and in most cases control by fear. But God, He lets us choose.

He is, I'm sure, disappointed when we don't choose Him. He loves us. A concept I'm still trying to get. Because of this love, He lets us go. He made us, in His own image. He wants to call us sons and daughters. There are those of the world that just don't choose him. (Matthew 15:19)When we do choose Him, the Bible tells us that he rejoices over us. (Matthew 18:13, the parable of the shepherd and the lost sheep. The shepherd is, of course, Jesus and we are the sheep.)

The second thing that occurred to me was that God uses us as we are. I don't really like the word use, as it denotes control, but if we are willing, He will work through us to accomplish His will. In the Bible study, we are going beginning to end to see how the Grace of God was evident in the Bible. Yes, even in the Old Testament, the Grace is there. He dealt with the people of the Old Testament differently as they were still under the old covenant.

We just finished 1 and 2 Samuel, with Samuel, Saul and David being the forefront characters. God eventually had to deal with them very harshly, but He did use them. I'll take David, for example. He is the man after God's own heart. Why? I've heard it's because he was quick to repent. He screwed up a lot. He was horrible father, a womanizer. He committed adultery with Bathsheba, and then killed her husband to cover the pregnancy that resulted from that one night. In our eyes, big sins.

There are no big or small sins in God's eyes. Sin is sin, period. However, in the end, God used David and Bathsheba to bring about the genealogy of Jesus that was for told by the prophets. Not only on one side of the 'family tree' but both sides! Amazing!

Romans 12:1 "And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice-the kind he will accept. When you think of what he has done for you, is this too much to ask?"

How do we do this? Romans 12:2 goes on to say, "Don't copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will know what God wants you to do, and you will know how good and pleasing and perfect his will really is."

I'm not in any way, shape or form perfect, nor have I got any of this down. There is no formula. None. I'm not going to pretend that any of this is easy. We war with our flesh. Paul talks about the war with his flesh in Romans 7. Did he have any of this down? Better than me, that's for sure, but he still wasn't perfect.

The good news is that God doesn't expect us to be perfect! He just wants us to choose Him. He'll help you do the rest.

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