What is a Sacrifice?

When the Holy Spirit waters the Word planted in fertile soil, fruit comes from and of itself. Such is the case for this article, an inspiration from the same Word, 1 Peter 2:9-10, preached last night from two different ministers, two different pulpits, and two different countries.*

“But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light;
Which in time past were not a people, but are now the people of God: which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy.” 1 Peter 2:9-10

These words brought to memory other references to sacrifices. From the Old Covenant, that spoke of the shadows and types concerned with the physical realm, to the New Covenant and the fulfilling of the promises in a spiritual realm, I could see the evolving of another book (this is usually the overwhelming of the Spirit using the Word).

But I had to rein in my thoughts so as to present a succinct and concise meaning of sacrifice in the Christian life.

So, let’s look at the sacrifice (sacrificial system) in the Old Covenant as we consider the facets of sacrifice. For the Christian, all things originate with our Lord. He initiates and commands. He initiated the Covenant of Grace, promised it through Abraham and his seed, and fulfilled it in Jesus Christ and through His seed.

God Commands a Sacrifice from His People
He specified the object of sacrifice and how it was to be offered.
Sacrifices were commanded for different occasions in the Old Testament ~ the main blood sacrifice was to atone for the sins of His people through the killing of animals.

No other nation was required or privileged to offer these sacrifices. Sacrifices were the response of God’s people to His rule and authority over them.

We see the mercy of the Lord our God when we compare the sacrifices other nations made by offering their own children as sacrifices to their gods.

The people brought their sacrifice to be offered on the altar by the Levitical priests.   They were a shadow or type commanded and offered until the New Covenant was ratified in the sacrifice of His Son.

“But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever,
sat down on the right hand of God;”
Hebrews 10:12

A study of the book of Hebrews provides an overwhelming explanation of this brief review. Every believer needs this study under his belt of truth.

In these references. sacrifice is the main subject. Hebrews 5:1; Hebrews 7:27; Hebrews 8:3; Hebrews 9:9; Hebrews 9:23;Hebrews 9:26;Hebrews 10:1;Hebrews 10:3;Hebrews 10:5;Hebrews 10:6;Hebrews 10:8;Hebrews 10:11;Hebrews 11:4;Hebrews 13:15

The Point of Sacrifice for the Christian
Jesus was the last blood sacrifice ~ offering Himself willingly to fulfill the covenant of redemption on behalf of His people. The physical altars of sacrifice were shut down when Jesus hung on a cross, sacrificing Himself for those who would come in faith and repentance to Him as Lord and Savior.

His blood atoned forever and commands a response from us as His chosen generation, His blood-bought people.

“Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house,
an holy priesthood,

to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ.”
1 Peter 2:5

What are these spiritual sacrifices?

 “ to show forth the praises of him who hath called us out of darkness into his marvellous light.

I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.
And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” Romans 12:1-2

“By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name.” Hebrews 13:15
“But to do good and to communicate forget not:
for with such sacrifices God is well pleased.

Hebrews 13:16

 “And to love him with all the heart, and with all the understanding, and with all the soul, and with all the strength, and to love his neighbour as himself, is more than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices.” Mark 12:33

All we have of His mercy, His goodness, and His love, are the results of His sacrifice for us. 

Mercy begets mercy

Sacrifice begets sacrifice

Goodness begets goodness

Love begets love

Gracious and glorious Father in heaven, send your Holy Spirit to quicken your Word spoken to us by your servants. Speak to us through your Word this week. Bring forth the praise that you command by your Spirit and your Word through us. Make us to know your presence and power as you prepare our hearts for your worship and Word next Lord’s Day ~ all for that glorious day when we shall praise you face to face. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.
Fran

*Chris Strevel,  Buford, Georgia: Exodus 40  From Slavery to Glory
*Ryan McKee, Northern Ireland: 1 Peter 2:9-10 Who We Are in Christ 

Image: Google

Words of Life ~ BELONG

Heidi is our author this week for Words of Life. Visit and get to know her at
Wings of the Dawn 

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In the hallway of my parent’s home in Germany is a plaque with a poem that I have translated from German into English.

This is my house, yet still not mine.
My heir will own it for a while.
And soon the third comes to reside,
Then – when he’s done – gets dragged outside.
The fourth and fifth, too, don’t stay long.
Tell, to whom does it belong?

When I look around, I see many things I confidently call my own. But are they really mine? How long will they be in my possession? To whom do these things truly belong?

As we search the Word of God for the word belong, we find it cannot be translated into a single word since it is commonly used as a verb phrase and is tightly connected to an owner. Therefore, it is better to consider who owns what. There are 8478 references in the Bible to the word his ~ not counting the words hers, theirs or ours. The idea of possession connects everything.

The Word of God says that He is the Possessor of all things.

Possessor H7069 The One who possesses, created, acquired, obtained, and redeemed. Everyone and everything belong to God

And he blessed him, and said, Blessed be Abram of the most high God, possessor of heaven and earth: Genesis 14:19

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We will focus on the word belong as we find it mostly in the Old Testament. Bible Gateway and Blue Letter Bible reference what belonged to certain men in the Old Testament.

Genesis 40:8  Do not interpretations belong to God?

Numbers 1:50   Numbers 7:9  and Numbers 8:24 speak of the things that belong to the service of the sanctuary of the tabernacle.

The secret things belong unto the Lord our God:
but those things which are revealed belong unto us
and to our children for ever,
that we may do all the words of this law.
Deuteronomy 29:29

There is a profound meaning to this verse. There are secret things that belong to the Lord our God and there are those things that belong to us as His children. We cannot lose these. They are given to us as our inheritance, forever. We might think of this family relationship in connection to Jesus’ words in Luke 13:32 of the Father’s desire to give us the kingdom.

“the shields of the earth belong unto God: he is greatly exalted.” Psalm 47:9

“God hath spoken once; twice have I heard this; 
that power belongeth unto God.”
Psalm 61:11

Psalm 94:1 vengeance belongs to God.

“O Lord, righteousness belongs unto thee, but unto us confusion of faces… because  they have trespassed against thee.”  Daniel 9:7

“To the Lord our God belong mercies and forgivenesses, though we have rebelled against him;” Daniel 9:9

Salvation belongeth unto the Lord: thy blessing is upon thy people.” Psalm 3:8

“For whosoever shall give you a cup of water to drink in my name, because you belong to Christ, verily I say unto you, he shall not lose his reward.” Mark 9:41  “And you are Christ‘s; and Christ is God’s. 1 Corinthians 3:23

“But strong meat belongs to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.” Hebrews 5:14

Before I knew Jesus as Lord and Master, someone asked me, “Who is your authority?”
I understood the question to mean, “To whom do you belong? Whose are you?”

Not everyone submits to the truth of God’s ownership. Some continue through life thinking they live on their own. Others commit all they are to Him when convicted of their need for His authority and ownership in their lives.

Of His gracious love and kindness, God our Father has given us many gifts — material possessions, talents, relationships, and time to enjoy these within the souls He has given.

None of these belong to us — they are given for us to steward for only a short time. And then, in His time — we shall claim all the promises of our inheritance in Christ.
As joint-heirs with Him, we shall know what it truly means to belong to Him and enjoy the never-ending pleasures of His presence and kingdom.

Lord, Maker of the universe and Possessor of all things, help us to see that nothing truly belongs to us but that You have graciously given us many gifts to manage for Your glory. Help us to know with assurance, that we belong to You. Thank you for Jesus ~ that by grace through faith in Him we belong to You, now and forever. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.
Heidi

Image: Heidi

“Why Do the Heathen Rage?”

I am going out on a limb with this post. It is not my nature to tackle controversial issues.

This comes in response to the recent news of a young man who was killed in his attempt to share the gospel on an isolated island in the Indian Ocean. I do not know all the details, first learning of the event in a fellow blogger’s post accompanied by a video of the island. In the video is the scene of the inhabitants on the beach of North Sentinel island which the reporter called “wildmen.” This video left in me a sad image and the thoughts that I write here.

How different is the majority of people in any land to this small band of isolated people?

How few welcome people they do not know?

How hostile are most people to the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ?

People, in general, are ignorant of the good news of Jesus Christ and are antagonistic to those who want to share this good news.

“Why do the heathen rage, and the people imagine a vain thing?
The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together,
against the Lord, and against his anointed, saying,
Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us.” Psalm 2:1-3

Psalm 1 describes two types of people, the righteous and the ungodly. In Psalm 2, the heathen are the ungodly, described in Psalm 1; and the righteous are those whose delight is in the law of the Lord, Psalm 1:2. Kings of the earth and rulers are described as heathen. There are Biblical references to men as beasts.

“So foolish was I, and ignorant: I was as a beast before thee.” Psalm 73:22

Where is True Civilization?
How different is the scene of those islanders and others who demonstrate in the streets of our nation in anger of whatever comes against them?

How different are they than we are when someone disagrees with us? Only the laws of our land and God’s power of mercy keep us from destroying each other.

Why do we lock our doors? We live in fear of strangers who may come and harm us or take what is ours.

History of the Sentinelese
There seems to be in the history of the Sentinelese a time when their people were kidnapped. There is the story that centuries ago some were taken to another country where the two oldest died, then the others were taken back to the island. Imagine their fear passed from generation to generation. Does this not give us some understanding of their behavior against outsiders?

We cannot condone this savagery, but we do well to learn from this event.

Only one person has ever brought the gospel to an antagonistic people, died in the process, and rose from the grave ~ and His death by His own people who did not accept His good news.

The church leadership needs to train God’s people. There are many para-church organizations – even churches – that are encouraging young people to consider missionary work. Many have the will and the zeal, but not the skill. Jesus trained and sent His disciples in companies of two.

The church used to be the catalyst, ordaining and training for the mission field. Taking the gospel to an illiterate people is a dangerous endeavor, it is a work that requires counseling and training, in addition to faith and prayer.

Please do not attack me for what I have written. I am not criticizing this young man, but believe he was doing what he thought he should do to share the good news. I am just sharing what I believe the Lord has put in my heart, and hopefully, give us things to consider when we think of sharing the gospel outside our own culture and time zone.

A Technological Thought
Another thought, which may seem a bit whimsical: We are not Christ. We either need bullet-proof vests or to pray and brainstorm some way to air-drop something to get and hold the attention of those we want to hear the gospel. Someone with the funds could build a robot that looks like the Islanders and program it to transcribe the gospel into their language.

I pray that this young man’s life is not a loss; that the Lord would show us what we need to reach the unreachable for His glory. What a joy it would be to see our modern technology used in such a way as this. Even this might be dangerous to their immune systems ~ win them to Christ and wipe them out?

Gracious Father, we thank you for sending your Son and for your Holy Spirit who reveals Him to us as our Lord and Savior. We ask you to show your church how to counsel and train those whom you call to the mission field. We ask that the Chau family know your comfort and peace and be drawn closer to you. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.
Fran

Image:Google

Endear and Endure

Hereby perceive we the love of God,
because he laid down his life for us:
and we ought to lay down our lives
for the brethren.”

1 John 3:16

If the Lord brings us to the heights of Christianity ~ Beyond a Mere Christianity ~ it will be according to the truth that the apostle writes here. What keeps us from reaching this height? It must be that we fail to perceive the love of God, who, in Christ, laid down his life for us. To perceive is to see with a spiritual reality ~ beyond our physical sight ~ how much He loves us and how He proved His love. We will look in depth in two other chapters at how His great love begins to work in the hearts of His children, but for this one we are led to write of those who, with time and experience of HIs grace, know the presence and power of the Holy Spirit of Christ working His own nature and disposition through them in relationship with others.

Several years ago, with a new birth (John 3:3), there was no real understanding of the difference He would make in my life. Baptism at the age of eleven did not change my heart; self-centeredness was still my nature. Years later, it was God’s Holy Spirit speaking through His Holy Word when He gave me a new heart and spirit (Ezekiel 36:26) that I longed for the life of Christ within me. Repentance and faith was a work of His goodness and mercy in me (Romans 2:4); the effect of His Spirit in the new heart and spirit within me.

Everything changed on that beautiful day in 1992 when He brought me to Himself, so that I never looked back.

He endeared Himself to me, speaking through the written Word and His Spirit so that I could see Him as the loving Creator and Redeemer that He is. Since then, He has been an ever-present guide and protector of my mind, heart and spirit. He has endured with me through all the trials and adversities we have encountered. The more affliction we experience, the more of His love and care are ministered by His Holy Spirit and the more we are able to see and care for others. We continue to grow in grace and the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ (2 Peter 3:18). We could speak of many trials we have endured, but time and space do not permit here. We have published eight books that witness of His presence and teachings.

Most and best of all is how He endears Himself through us to others. At present we are formatting One Month to Live ~ A Father’s Last Words, the story of God’s abundant grace as we cared for my dad during the last three weeks of his life.

Never would I have known that being a caregiver for my dad, for grandchildren, for my mother with dementia and  for Jerry the last twelve years would have prepared me to practice this endearment. We, together, have learned to see the needs of others; to pray for them; to reach out to any that the Lord shows us. We don’t have to look far. Within our own family, and our church family, there are many who need encouragement. Just a word of support and hope is enough for most. These are the closest to us and the ones with which we have developed lasting relationships. In Prayer and In Touch is our email prayer ministry, whereby we stay in touch as we pray for others.

We are enabled to see the needs of others when we go for appointments. We may never see some of these again, but the Lord knows what they need. A smile, a “thank you,” a word of greeting or a short conversation can leave a lasting impression to the glory of our Lord.

It is those who are the closest whose needs we know and with whom we endure through their difficulties, sharing the promises of God’s Word, praying for special needs, taking a meal, etc. Whatever is needful, the Lord provides through us, His people.

We encourage those who are continually experiencing the hardships of this life to see others in need and pray with the desire to know how you can help them. Focus on the Lord and His will in how we can care for others greatly changes how we see our own needs. It is good therapy for the soul to count others in greater need than ourselves.

Is this what John meant in 1 John 3:16? What does it mean to lay down our lives? I believe it means that we first give ourselves to the Lord as the apostle Paul speaks in 2 Corinthians 8:5. I have TWO FULL PLATES, but this does not keep me from seeing others in their needs, praying and reaching out when the Lord leads. He always provides more room on our plates for others, and gives the extra strength that we need and extra servings pf joy.

We are, by His mercy to us, called to offer our bodies as living sacrifices to serve Him and others (Romans 12:1-2).

He endured all the wrath and punishment for our sins, so that we as His people would be united in our love for Him and one another; to bear one another’s burdens (Galatians 6:1-2).

Jesus now and forever endears Himself to us, and endures with us as our Lord and High Priest. It is when we endear ourselves to each other and endure with one another that we are stronger. As we are united in Christ, members of one body, we stand against the enemy with great power. His Spirit is revealed through those who “in lowliness of mind esteem others better than themselves; who look not on his own things, but on the things of others.” Philippians 2:3-4

Father in heaven, open our eyes and hearts. Draw us heavenward to receive your humility, grace and love that extends to others ~ for your glory and our joy. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen
~ Fran
The following is from Philippians 2:5-11. Have This Mind is the title of an album of Scripture Tunes recorded in the last twenty-five years.

PRAYERS That Bring the House Down

It is a delight to share our newest book.
PRAYERS That Bring the House Down is the eighth blessing (akin to having more grandchildren) God has given in answer to our heart’s desire to preserve what He is still teaching us of His goodness, grace and glory.
Father and Family Books are specifically published for our children, grandchildren and future generations to know of the legacy of our Father’s kingdom, and available on Amazon to all who are interested in how He has been working in this seventy-eight year old heart and life. We receive no benefits from sales, even if we ever recoup our expenses. Priced very reasonably, any profits are designated for missions and charity. Fran

“Now also when I am old and greyheaded, O God, forsake me not; until I have shewed thy strength unto this generation, and thy power to every one that is to come.” Psalm 71:18

Breakthrough

In February, Jerry and I were waiting in the podiatrist’s exam room for him to have his foot x-rayed. So as to encourage him, I said, “There is light at the end of the tunnel.”

His response was, “Are you sure it is not a locomotive?”

I said, gently, “Yes, I am sure.”

There was no definite meaning, nor explanation for my words, just sharing the spirit of God’s grace as we have experienced His presence through all our difficulties in the past.

The nurse wheeled him out, leaving me alone with my own thoughts in the cold, tiny room.

The still, small voice to which I have become accustomed in quiet times, asked, “Am I your God?’

Humbly, I answered, “Yes, Lord.”

“Then, trust Me.”

As simple as that, without audible conversation, I knew that however long this new episode would last, the Lord was assuring me of His presence and power with us.

Six Months Later
We have waited, as in times past, for healing, not only for treatment for the diabetic ulcer that podiatrists started in February, but for tests and an eventual stent for an aneurysm in his leg in April, to allow blood flow to the foot. Added to this was another wound from that incision

In July this wound closed after treatment with a wound vac. The same treatment did not work for the foot. This was their last resort after trying provadine, skin grafts, collagen, and foot baths. So, they sent us to the wound healing center thirty minutes away.

In this first visit last week, they took a culture that showed MRSA, a staph infection, for which they prescribed clindamycin. Yesterday, for our second visit, we were encouraged with the wound half the size as last week. The wound specialist believes this to be the reason for lack of healing, assuring us of complete healing soon.

At the outset of this sore, the primary care physician prescribed two rounds of antibiotics, but he, nor the podiatrist did a culture. There were no visible signs of infection while under the care of the podiatrist.

We are not resentful that they did not do a culture, but glad that it was done last week, believing that all things are revealed and healed in God’s timing.

Hidden Infection
This all reminds me of how things can be hidden. Just as we all carry the infection of sin within us, not knowing that we need healing, it manifests itself in different ways. Relationships are broken, families are torn apart, life can be emotionally and physically unhealthy because of hidden sin.

It is when we come to the only one who can do a culture for us that we know our sin, and accept the prescription, believing that He is able to bring total healing.

Jesus Christ came to earth as the Great Physician over 2000 years ago, He was, and still is, our breakthrough.

Gracious Father in heaven, we praise you for all things; for Christ, your Son, whom you sent to reveal our sin and to heal broken lives. We thank you for wisdom given to men to solve physical problems and to provide healing, believing that all healing is from you, for your glory and for the purpose of our serving you, living in praise and thanksgiving for your mercy, your grace, your goodness and power in our hearts and lives. Thank you for the encouragement that Jerry might soon be able to wear his prosthesis, and that we will be able to worship with your people again. We ask for your healing for others who are ill, in need of physical and spiritual healing. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

TRUTH ~ by Man’s Will or God’s Grace?

So then it depends not on human will or exertion,
but on God, who has mercy.

Romans 9:16 ESV

As deists, Voltaire and Diderot attacked Christianity—“their primary weapon aimed at the church was ‘truth’.” (Dr. Bruce Shelley, Church History in Plain Language)  “We think that the greatest service to be done to men,” said Diderot, “is to teach them to use their reason, only to hold for truth what they have verified and proved.” What did these men know of “truth” in their young years of their own “enlightenment?”  What had they proven by their own “reasoning” in their latter years?  What did they have in the end?

Man may create happiness for himself while he is able to think clearly, when everything seems to be in his control, but this does not last. God has proven His work of grace, not only through His written word (which “reasoning” discards), but in the reality of life to its very end.

God proved the truth of His grace to me in 1994 as I, for three weeks, watched my dad gradually consumed by esophageal cancer.*  How could he “reason” for himself what was happening to him?  What was truth to him, at that point of his life?  He had only the mercy (which he had asked for) and the grace of God, which we all experienced together.  He could no longer eat or drink.  He could do nothing but wait for his final breath. He was never on morphine, and so was aware of everything going on around him. He could hear, (until now I had not realized that as a work of God’s grace), and we had those last days to sit by his side, to sing to him, to read the Father’s precious words of truth.  God’s grace was strikingly evident in Daddy’s humility, and his peaceful spirit of acceptance in his last week, and at the end.  He died on Labor Day—his epitaph, “Resting in the Lord.”

For five years we experienced the devastating effects of dementia in Mother’s life. She had no means of “reasoning.”  Nor could we, even though we could still think clearly—clearly in that we could accept that God was sovereign, in control of all things.   Though we could not understand through our own reasoning, we were learning more and more to trust in God’s mercy and grace for what each day would bring. (And we failed many times—for who is prepared ahead of time for such things.)  Her last month was spent in a nursing home, much to our grief; but we were not able to care for her any longer.  I could not “reason” with that.

But, even there, in her last few days, God’s hand of mercy and grace sustained us and held us together.  She had been unresponsive for almost four days.  Jerry and I sat with her those last few hours.  Monday was my birthday, and I prayed, “Father, please don’t let her die on my birthday.”  At midnight the nurses were in and out, checking her vital signs.  The younger nurse asked the older (who was wearing the white cap, and the white uniform), “Shouldn’t we give her something?”  The older nurse answered, “No, she is at peace.”  A few minutes later, as I detected her breathing to be very shallow, and holding her hand, I stood and recited Psalm 23 for her.  When I finished, she took her last breath.  I looked at the clock.  It was 12:38. I could not have willed that; it was God’s grace.

Another example is Ed, 86, who was a member of our church.  He has dementia and now lives with his daughter, Cyndi,  and her husband in another state.  In her last email she wrote of how she reads the Bible to him, and he will quote with her much of God’s Word, as she reads.  It is not by his “reasoning” but by God’s grace, that he recalls the Word of truth that he had hidden in his heart.

“And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace,
who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself
restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.
This is the true grace of God.  Stand firm in it.
1 Peter 5:10-12 ESV

*One Month to Live ~ A Father’s Last Words was my first book (yet unpublished), in which I recorded the working of God’s grace in those three weeks.