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Moving Forward

Moving Forward

    I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.
Romans 12:1 (NKJV)

Paul’s passion for those in the body of Christ is evident in the opening phrase of Romans 12 where he beseeches or urges us to present our bodies as living sacrifices.

If we are to do this presentation of our bodies (our lives) to God, it will have to be by the mercies of God. That is to say that God will be and is the power behind and the heart behind our desiring to dedicate our bodies (lives) to pleasing God.

He calls us to present our bodies–a voluntary action, a volitional choice–I (we) must make to be set apart for (holy) and pleasing to God.

The sacrifice I am to make is my body–and that is really all that I have to give to God.
Under the law, it is understood that in order to cover sin, to be holy and acceptable to God, a death must occur–more specifically, blood must be shed. Leviticus 11:17 instructs us blood makes atonement for the soul.

The sacrifice that I must present under the new covenant, established by Jesus and stamped with His authority as God by His resurrection, is to die to my flesh, to my own desires. This death to self will allow the Spirit of God to reign in my body. My life will then evidence the fruit of the Spirit described in Galatians 5:22-23, namely love, joy, peace, long-suffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, [and] self-control.

Paul finishes by saying this is my reasonable service. I am a bond servant of God, and in light of what He has done for me, it a small thing for me to give my life–my sacrifice–to Him.

As Paul said in Romans 6:19, [f]or just as you presented your members as slaves of uncleanness, and of lawlessness leading to more lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves of righteousness for holiness.

We will be a slave to something. Paul makes it clear who we are to serve and what is required–nothing less than everything.

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When I first started practicing law, my mentor told me to write everything down after speaking to a client or another attorney. I nodded and smiled to myself knowing that I didn’t need to write every little thing down. I had a great memory!

A few years down the pike and some years of practice under my belt . . . and the birth of my child – and well, getting older, I started to see what he meant about writing things down.

Today, I write everything down – even so, I forget.

My relationship with God is no exception to this memory loss issue. I need to remember to remember God.

Sometimes, I can be in the midst of my trouble or trial, and I forget that I have a God who loves me–who is near to me–who will never leave or forsake me. I find myself acting as if I am in this trouble alone.

When I finally remember, I feel foolish. How could I forget about God?

My solution? I try to keep God always on my mind.

1 Thessalonians 5:17 says to pray without ceasing. In other words, keep a constant connection to God through prayer.

Remember to remember God. It will make a difference in how you handle life’s challenges.

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Poem for For Lent

LEngleMadeleine“For Lent, 1966”           By Madeleine L’Engle

It is my Lent to break my Lent

To eat when I would fast

To know when slender strength is spent

Take shelter from the blast

When I would run with wind and rain

To sleep when I would watch.

It is my Lent to smile at pain

But not ignore its touch.

It is my Lent to listen well

When I would be alone,

To talk when I would rather dwell

In silence turn from none

Who call on me to try to see

That what is truly meant

Is not my choice.

If Christ’s I’d be

It’s thus I’ll keep my Lent.

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In the cross of Christ I glory,
Towering o’er the wrecks of time;
All the light of sacred story
Gathers round its head sublime.
 
When the woes of life o’ertake me,
Hopes deceive and fears annoy,
Never shall the cross forsake me:
Lo! It glows with peace and joy.
 
When the sun of bliss is beaming
Light and love upon my way,
From the cross the radiance streaming
Adds more lustre to the day.
 
Bane and blessing, pain and pleasure,
By the cross are sanctified;
Peace is there that knows no measure,
Joys that through all time abide.

by John Bowering

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Hosanna

palm sundayHosanna, loud hosanna,
The little children sang;
Through pillared court and temple
The lovely anthem rang.
To Jesus, who had blessed them,
Close folded to His breast,
The children sang their praises,
The simplest and the best.
 
From Olivet they followed
Mid an exultant crowd,
The victor palm branch waving
And chanting clear and loud.
The Lord of earth and heaven
Rode on in lowly state
Nor scorned that little children
Should on His bidding wait.
 
“Hosanna in the highest!”
That ancient song we sing,
For Christ is our Redeemer,
The Lord of heav’n our King.
Oh, may we ever praise Him
With heart and life and voice
And in His blissful presence
Eternally rejoice!

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It’s easy to get Jesus wrong.  You could consider Him just a wise teacher, gentle prophet, or worse, a mere man. You could limit Him in your thinking to the 33 years of his life and try to hold His influence to those narrow boundaries.

But Jesus won’t stay in the small enclosure you built for Him. No, He is King of Kings and Lord of Lords, the great I Am, the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End, He is the coming King and Messiah (the promised one) whose arrival is foretold by the Old Testament prophets.

Understanding the implications of Easter, requires an understanding of exactly who Jesus of Nazareth was and is. According to the gospel of John, He was in the beginning with God, co-equal to God, part of the trinity (Father, Son and Holy Spirit).

So what was God doing living as a man in a remote village outside of Jerusalem in the first century A.D.?

God became man to solve man’s problem, because man was eternally separated from God by his sin, and the only way to change man’s future, so he could be in communion with God, was for a man to live a perfect life, fulfilling all the requirements of God’s law, and to then give up that perfect life in sacrificial offering for the sins of all the other men who lived and would live. That is what Jesus did for me, for you, for the whole world.

“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”  John 3:16

He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world.  1 John 2:2

Silhouettes of Three Crosses

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isaac wattsWhen I survey the wondrous cross
On which the Prince of glory died,
My richest gain I count but loss,
And pour contempt on all my pride.

Forbid it, Lord, that I should boast,
Save in the death of Christ my God!
All the vain things that charm me most,
I sacrifice them to His blood.

See from His head, His hands, His feet,
Sorrow and love flow mingled down!
Did e’er such love and sorrow meet,
Or thorns compose so rich a crown?

His dying crimson, like a robe,
Spreads o’er His body on the tree;
Then I am dead to all the globe,
And all the globe is dead to me.

Were the whole realm of nature mine,
That were a present far too small;
Love so amazing, so divine,
Demands my soul, my life, my all.

By Isaac Watts, 1674-1748

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