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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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Two mountains which figure prominently in the Bible when taken together, represent the character of God.  One mountain is characterized  by a consuming fire.  On that mountain, God displayed His judgment and His holiness.  The other mountain is characterized by blood and sacrifice.  On that mountain, God displayed His consuming love and mercy.

Mount Sinai

Mount Sinai is the backdrop for Israel’s receipt of the Law.  The mountain is where God met Moses and is primarily characterized by fire:

  • Mount Sinai was completely in smoke, because the LORD descended upon it in fire. Its smoke ascended like the smoke of a furnace, and the whole mountain quaked greatly.  Exodus 19:18
  •  The sight of the glory of the LORD was like a consuming fire on the top of the mountain in the eyes of the children of Israel.  Exodus 24:17
  • Then you came near and stood at the foot of the mountain, and the mountain burned with fire to the midst of heaven, with darkness, cloud, and thick darkness.  Deuteronomy 4:11
  •  The LORD talked with you face to face on the mountain from the midst of the fire.  Deuteronomy 5:4
  •  Then the LORD delivered to me two tablets of stone written with the finger of God, and on them were all the words which the LORD had spoken to you on the mountain from the midst of the fire in the day of the assembly.  Deuteronomy 9:10
Mount Zion
The other mountain is Mount Zion (found within the land given to the tribe of Judah).   Mt. Zion was sometimes called The City of David, and descriptions of Mt. Zion paint a very different picture from those describing Mt. Sinai:
  • Remember Your congregation, which You have purchased of old, The tribe of Your inheritance, which You have redeemed-This Mount Zion where You have dwelt.  Psalm 74:2
  • But chose the tribe of Judah, Mount Zion which He loved.  Psalm 78:68
  •  Those who trust in the LORD Are like Mount Zion, Which cannot be moved, but abides forever.  Psalm 125:1
  • And it shall come to pass That whoever calls on the name of the LORD Shall be saved. For in Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there shall be deliverance, As the LORD has said, Among the remnant whom the LORD calls.  Joel 2:32
  • Then I looked, and behold, a Lamb standing on Mount Zion, and with Him one hundred and forty-four thousand, having His Father’s name written on their foreheads.  Revelation 14:1

Paul makes the case for the two mountains in his letter to the Hebrews:

For you have not come to the mountain that may be touched and that burned with fire, and to blackness and darkness and tempest, and the sound of a trumpet and the voice of words, so that those who heard it begged that the word should not be spoken to them anymore. . . . And so terrifying was the sight that Moses said, “I am exceedingly afraid and trembling.”)

But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, to an innumerable company of angels, to the general assembly and church of the firstborn who are registered in heaven, to God the Judge of all, to the spirits of just men made perfect, to Jesus the Mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling that speaks better things than that of Abel.  

See that you do not refuse Him who speaks. For if they did not escape who refused Him who spoke on earth, much more shall we not escape if we turn away from Him who speaks from heaven, whose voice then shook the earth; but now He has promised, saying, “Yet once more I shake not only the earth, but also heaven.”  Now this, “Yet once more,” indicates the removal of those things that are being shaken, as of things that are made, that the things which cannot be shaken may remain.   Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us have grace, by which we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear. For our God is a consuming fire.  Hebrews 12:18-29

It is the same God of both mountains, so we should keep both mountains in view:

  • one where God laid down His law, a place of judgment.
  • one where God laid down His life, a perfect sacrifice, a place of love, grace, mercy and forgiveness.
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He got into one of the boats, which was Simon’s, and asked him to put out a little from the land. And He sat down and taught the multitudes from the boat. When He had stopped speaking, He said to Simon, “Launch out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.”

But Simon answered and said to Him, “Master, we have toiled all night and caught nothing; nevertheless at Your word I will let down the net.”  And when they had done this, they caught a great number of fish, and their net was breaking.  So they signaled to their partners in the other boat to come and help them. And they came and filled both the boats, so that they began to sink.  When Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord!”  For he and all who were with him were astonished at the catch of fish which they had taken; and so also were James and John, the sons of Zebedee, who were partners with Simon. And Jesus said to Simon, “Do not be afraid. From now on you will catch men.”  Luke 5:3-10

What do you observe from the passage?

• What is Simon’s attitude when Jesus asks him to launch the boat?
• What is his reaction when they catch so many fish?
• What causes his change in attitude?

When confronted with evidence of God’s power, we cannot but notice our inadequacy, our humanity.  Like Peter, we may have fished the same lake for 20 years, so we humor the “novice” who asks us to put out nets in way past the best hour to fish and then find that we knew nothing of what we thought was our field of expertise.  That’s how it is when God shows up.  All our best efforts, our worldly wisdom, our expertise are nothing more than a vapor.

Jesus’ last words to them are words of hope, words that speak to their future not their failures.  Thank you Jesus that You always see us in terms of our future (with You) and not our failures.

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One of the purposes of this blog is to provide accurate information about the Bible in an easy-to-understand format.

The following are links to the posts in the  Bible Basics – Old Testament Overview series:

Bible Basics (Part 1)

Bible Basics (Part 2)

Bible Basics (Part 3)

Bible Basics (Part 4)

Bible Basics (Part 5)

Bible Basics (Part 6)

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Sometimes as believers, we use terms that only we understand.  What some might call “Christianese”  Understanding these terms and being able to “translate” them to those who don’t speak our “language” is essential to effectively sharing the gospel.  What does it mean to be saved?  What happens when we are born again?

The Basics

  •  Salvation is a gift    (John 3:16)
  • The only Requirement is belief (John 3:16)
  • Jesus is the perfect sacrifice, satisfying all the righteousness requirements of the law (2 Corinthians 5:21)

What happens?

  • We’re made alive spiritually  (Colossians 2:13; Ephesians 2:1)
  • The charges against us are dropped (Colossians 2:14)
  • We’re forgiven of  all our sins (Ephesians 1:7)
  • We’re purified for God to be His own (Titus 2:14)
  • We’re made new – a new creation in Christ  (2 Corinthians 5:17)
  • Old things are gone; all things are new (2 Corinthians 5:17)
  • We’re reconciled to God (restored to right relationship) (2 Corinthians 5:18; Colossians 1:21)
  • We’re presented to God holy and blameless (Colossians 1:21-23)
  • We receive the Kingdom of God (Luke 12:32)
  • We receive lasting inheritance (1 Peter 1:4)
  • We have abundant life now (John 10:10)
  • We receive everything needed for life and godly living (2 Peter 1:2-11)
  • We receive the power of  the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:8)
  • We receive weapons for warfare (Ephesians 6:10-18)
A Word Picture to Illustrate
     If they still don’t get the idea, give them a picture:  “Though your sins are like scarlet, They shall be as white as snow; Though they are red like crimson, They shall be as wool.  Isaiah 1:18

May the One who is able to keep you from stumbling, And to present you faultless Before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy keep you from stumbling  and present you to God as without fault (and only God can do that).

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We know that whoever is born of God does not sin; but he who has been born of God keeps himself, and the wicked one does not touch him.  1 John 5:18

It is much preferable to read about what God had done for me, what God is doing for me and what God will do for me.  My part doesn’t seem as interesting, so when I come across a verse like 1 John 5:18, it begs the question:  “How do I keep myself?”  The following are some ideas:

  • We need to submit or if you prefer, surrender ourselves to the will of God (as clearly stated in His Word)
  • We need to know what the scriptures say about where our help and hope lies
  • We need to be committed to worshiping God for who He is
  • We need to be committed to serving Him only (e.g. we need to be about the LORD’s business)

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The gospel of John represents one piece in a four-part testimony of the life of Jesus.  This is important because the Bible requires that there be two witnesses to establish a fact.  The use of four gospels each based on testimony of eye witnesses makes the totality of the gospels very credible.  The fact that each of the gospels is not identical to the others adds to the overall credibility.

If one were to interview four eye-witnesses to any event in history, each of them would emphasize different facts and provide a different presentation of the information depending on their audience.  That is exactly what we find in the gospels – four unique but internally consistent testimonies of the life and ministry of Jesus Christ, a real man who lived a real life in Israel.

Looking at all four gospels, we see that each is addressed to a different audience, for example, the Gospel of Mark is written with a gentile (primarily Roman) audience in mind.  Little detail of Jewish history or culture is included.

The Gospel of Matthew is written to the Jewish reader.  Matthew starts off with a very detailed genealogy of Jesus and emphasizes  Jesus as the long-awaited Messiah.

The Gospel of Luke was written to a gentile audience.  In as much as Luke was a physician and educated in Greek, he writes a more detailed, carefully researched gospel focused on Jesus as the Son of Man a Savior sent to save the lost sinner.

The Gospel of John was written with a strong emphasis on the deity of Jesus Christ.  John wrote to encouraged believers and to call unbelievers to faith in Jesus Christ

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It is wonderful to study and meditate on the love of God.  It is a subject that never grows old and is found on every page of the Bible and in every encounter with the living God.  As we walk with God, we find evidences of His love in our own lives, like those in the Bible.

But one might ask, “What is the take away?”

Here are some of the many things that we learn and “take away” from meditating on and living in the knowledge of God’s love:

  • We gain personal relationship with God.  When we understand the offer (John 3:16) and accept it (Romans 10:13), we become sons of God.
  • We gain eternal life.  God promises eternal life to those who believe. (Romans 6:23)
  • We gain factual knowledge to draw us toward God as we consider what He has done.
  • We gain experiential knowledge by our time spent with God, by watching how He changes us and moves in our lives.
  • We receive love, so we are able to be better givers of love.
  • We receive strength to accept difficult things from God’s hand when we know and understand and receive as truth the love of God for us.

Beloved, take time to consider, to meditate, to live in the knowledge of the love of God for you.  He loved, loves and will love you for eternity.  That should transform your life.

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One of the most beautiful pictures of the love of God and the foreshadowing of Jesus is found in the Tabernacle at the Mercy Seat.  When you visit the Tabernacle in your mind’s eye, you must first enter the gate, then cross the court yard, pass the bronze altar, make your way past the laver and then enter the first partition separating the outer courts from the holy place.

Once inside the holy place, you will find only the light of the golden candlesticks.  By its light, you will see the table of show bread and the altar of incense which is right outside of the Most Holy Place.  As you push aside the last veil separating you from the presence of God which occupies the Most Holy Place, you will look in and see there is only one piece of furniture – the Ark.

The Ark was a box covered with gold and on top of which were two cherubim with their wings touching.  Inside of the Ark was found the law (the tablets from Moses with the 10 Commandments).  The top, the covering over the law was known as the mercy seat.  It was here that God promised to meet with His people.  It was here that the High Priest was to sprinkle blood.

The picture is one of mercy.  God would bring mercy and cover the law.  God made Him (Jesus) who knew no sin to be sin for us that we might become the righteousness of Christ in Him.  It is the blood sprinkled on the mercy seat (covering the law), that speaks of Jesus, of Calvary where Jesus’ blood would be shed once and for all to pay for the sins of all men so that whosoever would believe in Him would not perish but have eternal life.

That is amazing love.  O, what a savior!

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