Me likey this song. Moonrise…
I haven’t posted anything on here in a while so I thought that I’d just write about some of the blessings which I have received throughout this month in my quiet times. As I go through Living Life which is in Leviticus this month.
This past week, one of the days was titled purification for the poor. The context was God’s alternate sacrifice for people who were poor. Basically, people with infectious skin diseases were labeled ceremonially unclean. When a person was completely healed of the skin disease, they would have to go through a ritual of ceremonial cleansing. One of the rituals for ceremonial cleansing requires the sacrifice of an ewe and two male lambs. But for poor people, the sacrifice is only of two doves or two pigeons [there are other items which I am not listing here].
When I read this, I immediately thought to myself that God is so gracious. He thinks about poor people and allows them to give a smaller sacrifice but counts it as the same reward because they were giving all that they could. The key phrase here is that they were giving all that they could.
Does God care about the actual material value of the sacrifice that was given or does He care about the heart with which it was given? If He cared more about the sacrifice itself then He would not have this kind of provision. He would demand the same sacrifice from all people whether they were rich or poor. It is only because He looks for our heart that He has this provision. I believe David portrays it perfectly in Psalms 51 when he said:
“For you will not delight in sacrifice, or I would give it; you will not be pleased with a burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.”
C.S. Lewis once said this:
“We must beware of the naïve idea that our music can ‘please’ God as it would please a cultivated human hearer. That is like thinking, under the old Law, that He really needed the blood of bulls and goats. To which an answer came, ‘mine are the cattle upon a thousand hills,’ and ‘if I am hungry, I will not tell thee.’ If God wanted music, He would not tell us. For all our offerings, whether of music or martyrdom, are like the intrinsically worthless present of a child, which a father values indeed, but values only for the intention.”
When I first read this quote I had some trouble swallowing it. To me, my life has value and to say it has only intrinsic value to God is demeaning. But as I continued to think about it, it began to ring true to me. If I give God my house and donate the money to missions funds and churches, does it have any real value to God? Not really, because God has no lack of money. We are talking about a God who could create a universe just by willing it. What does my house mean to Him? What does my LIFE mean to Him?
This helped me to understand that truly my life has no real value outside of God’s love for me. What do you give to someone who has it all already? All of our gifts, all our offerings, all our praises and sacrifice in the end is just too small. But despite that, God is pleased with us when we give to Him with our hearts.
If you have a young son, maybe 4 or 5 years old, and he draws you something, and you watched him work on it the entire time, carefully drawing in each line and color. Then he finishes the drawing, holds it up, obviously satisfied with his work, which he proceeds to give to you. Upon looking at it, you may not be able to tell if it’s a shark or a giraffe but it doesn’t really matter does it? Because your son gave it to you because he loves you and he wants to give you his masterpiece. A good father would be happy to receive such a gift, perhaps even hang it on the wall of the refrigerator. Not because it looks good or because it’s worth anything, but simply because your son gave it to you out of love and you know he did his best.
Our God is just like that good father. He gives and gives and gives to us and desires nothing in return from us except for our love and obedience. All He really desires is for us to desire Him, to be in a relationship with Him, to talk to Him, to listen to Him, to love Him, because He loves us.
I think many times we tend to forget that God is a loving father and we have this unbiblical image of a slave-driver or stereotypical asian parent who is never satisfied. We tend to be so negative because we are constantly reminded of our sins and failures, but God does not see you as a failure. God sees in us a beautiful child, full of grace. God is pleased with you. Nothing you can do can frustrate God, He already knows what will happen and His plan for your life and for this world is perfect and absolute. Real and lasting love is more than just feelings; it’s sacrifice. And we know that God made the ultimate sacrifice for you and for me by sending His son to die on the cross. Never forget, God loves you more than you could ever imagine.
This is sometimes how I think of God…As a friendly little spirit friend who is invisible but is always with me. He tells me what is good and bad, what to do and what not to do, but I don’t always listen to him because he’s a pretty soft-spoken, gentle little spirit as you can see. He’s always listening when I tell him all my little problems with girls and stuff but I don’t go to him with any real issues because that would be silly of me. —- No this is not really how I see God. But I recognized that I often times treat Him this way. I think subconsciously I sometimes put God into a nice little pink box with a baby blue ribbon on top. You know, something to cheer me up when life gets me down.
What I sometimes forget is that the God that I worship is in reality, a gazillion times greater than anything I can imagine.
I just want to share 4 examples: Job, Isaiah, Daniel, and John.
All of these people experienced visions of God or angels in an amazing way.
Job 38:1-5 “Then the LORD answered Job out of the whirlwind and said: ‘Who is this that darkens my counsel by words without knowledge? Dress for action like a man; I will question you, and you make it known to me. ‘Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? Tell me, if you have understanding. Who determined its measurements-surely you know! Or who stretched the line upon it?’”
This continues for a while and ends with this response
Job 42:1-6 “Then Job answered the LORD and said; ‘I know that you can do all things, and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted. ‘Who is this that hides counsel without knowledge?’ Therefore I have uttered what I did not understand, things too wonderful for me, which I did not know. ‘Hear and I will speak; I will question you, and you make it known to me.’ I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees you; therefore I despise myself, and repent in dust and ashes.”
Isaiah 6:1-3 “In the year that King Uzziah died I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up; and then the train of his robe filled the temple. Above him stood the seraphim. Each had six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet and with two he flew. And one called to another and said: ‘Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts; the whole earth if full of his glory!’ And the foundation of the thresholds shook at the voice of him who called, and the house was filled with smoke. And I said: ‘Woe is me! For I am lost, for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts!’”
Daniel 10:4-9 “On the twenty-fourth day of the first month, as I was standing on the bank of the great river (that is, the Tigris) I lifted up my eyes and looked, and behold, a man clothed in linen, with a belt of fine gold from Uphaz around his waist. His body was like beryl, his face like the appearance of lightning, his eyes like flaming torches, his arms and legs like a gleam of burnished bronze, and the sound of his words like the sound of a multitude. And I, Daniel, alone saw the vision, for the men who were with me did not see the vision, but a great trembling fell upon them, and they fled to hide themselves. So I was left alone and saw this great vision, and no strength was left in me. My radiant appearance was fearfully changed, and I retained no strength. Then I heard the sound of his words, and as I heard the sound of his words, I fell on my face in deep sleep with my face to the ground.”
Revelation 1:12-17 “Then I turned to see the voice that was speaking to me, and on turning I saw seven golden lampstands, and in the midst of the lampstands one like a son of man, clothed with a long robe and with a golden sash around his chest, The hairs of his head were white, like white wool, like snow. His eyes were like a flame of fire, his feet were like burnished bronze, refined in a furnace, and his voice was like the roar of many waters. In his right hand he held seven stars, from his mouth came a sharp two-edged sword, and his face was like the sun shining in full strength. When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. But he laid his right hand on me, saying, ‘Fear not, I am the first and the last’”
How did I ever get such a small concept of who God is?
Lord, open my eyes. Teach me to honor you, and to live by your word. Show me my foolishness and allow me to see a glimpse of your greatness that I may stand in awe of who you are.
How many times have you prayed for God’s glory to be revealed? For Him to show you His power? His majesty?
Well I have prayed this prayer many many times. I figure that if I can see God the way that many Old Testament prophets did, my life would be much more radical. If I could just spend a minute in heaven, my mind would turn to mush at His awesomeness then living life for Him would be easy right? He revealed Himself to a lot of prophets through visions and dreams, He even took some of them to heaven to see His power. So why not me? What’s the difference between me and the prophets?
I believe it’s a little thing called: obedience.
Time and time again, in the bible, the people who experienced the most amazing radical power of God, were the people who were obedient to Him. If Jonah decided not to obey and decided to kill himself rather than go preach to Ninevah, then He would never have seen the greatest revival in history where tens of thousands if not hundreds of thousands of pagans were made to believe within a week.
If Moses decided not to obey God when called to Egypt out of his fear of public speaking. He never would have seen a stick turn into a snake, the 10 plagues, the greatest pagan nation in the world at the time being flipped upside down, the Red Sea parting, a pillar of fire by night (fire tornado!), a pillar of cloud by day, manna from heaven being provided daily, the backside of God!
If Noah didn’t build the arc, if Abraham didn’t leave his home or take Isaac to the mountain, if David didn’t kill Goliath, if Esther didn’t speak to Xerxes, if Daniel didn’t-not (double negative to be consistent) bow down to a statue, if Nehemiah didn’t speak to the king, if Joseph didn’t follow God zealously, if Paul, Peter, and John didn’t give their lives for Jesus, if Jesus didn’t die on the cross for us. If these people didn’t obey God, then they wouldn’t have seen the amazing things that God did through their obedience.
That’s fine, but obeying God is too hard. I don’t know about you but God always asks me to do things that I don’t want to do. If there is ever 1 thing that I say “God, you cannot have this” then I know He will want it. Why? Is He just a selfish God that wants to take all that I love in the world?
Yeah…pretty much. God isn’t interested in the easy things. He wants the HARD THINGS, the CHALLENGES, the IMPOSSIBLE. Because then and only then will HIS power be displayed rather than yours or mine. Of course He wants from us the things we don’t want to give Him. He wants us to love Him more than anything of this world, and it’s not okay with Him for us to hold anything above Himself.
Sounds pretty damn selfish, no? Asking for my whole life.
Yeah…He wants your life and mine. But the prize FARRR outweighs the sacrifice too. Eternity in paradise for 80 years dedicated to Him on this crappy rock? In what universe is this a fair trade? Simple answer: it’s not a fair trade. We get a lot more than we give. We are the benefactors.
Okay okay, so say I want to obey Him. He asks me to do things I am not capable of sometimes!
Yeah…He does. That’s why we need to live by His power. In order to live by the power of God, we need the Holy Spirit, who is God, to manifest in our lives.
Well how the heck do I get that? Do they sell it at costco?
Not exactly. In order to receive the Holy Spirit and His power in our lives, we need to be in close fellowship with God. Be engaging in a deep and intimate relationship with Him. And like all good relationships, it takes a lot of time and energy. When you have that, He will definitely manifest in your life.
How do we do that? How do you have a meaningful relationship with an invisible God?
Well, He wrote us a really long letter called the bible. The bible tells you exactly how to have a relationship with Him. That’s primarily how we hear His voice. Also we talk to Him through prayer and He always listens.
So in the end, all you’re telling me to do is read my bible, do qt, pray and meditate? Then I can know God, receive the Holy Spirit, have power to be obedient to His will, and eventually see His glory?
“When I was a young man, I wanted to change the world.
I found it was difficult to change the world, so I tried to change my nation.
When I found I couldn’t change the nation, I began to focus on my town.
I couldn’t change the town and as an older man, I tried to change my family.
Now, as an old man, I realize the only thing I can change is myself, and suddenly I realize that if long ago I had changed myself, I could have made an impact on my family.
My family and I could have made an impact on our town.
Their impact could have changed the nation and I could indeed have changed the world.”
We all want to go out there and change the world. Make it into a better place for humanity, for our family and friends. But what if all of us stopped trying to tell the world how to be better and started living it? What would the world look like…
Song: Over the Sun by Shane & Shane
Sermon: How the Supremacy of Christ Creates Radical Christian Sacrifice by John Piper
YWAM Application Question: How and when did He become real to you? Describe your current relationship with the Lord Jesus.
My entire family is Christian so I have been a good church boy since birth. I grew up in the church but I can’t say that I really met Jesus until I moved up to college. I knew of Him, I knew all the stories and heard all the sermons but none of it, including the bible, was truly real to me until college. In college, the Holy Spirit truly moved in my life and flipped my world upside-down. There was no thundering voice, no light from heaven, no special moment of conversion. Only a steady realization that God is real, Jesus is God, and that the bible is truth. Since my first year of college, nothing has been the same, and there’s no going back. That was almost five years ago now.
More recently in my life, my relationship with Jesus is constantly being stretched and pushed and pulled on all sides. There are many days when I have the joy of the Lord and my heart rejoices in Him because God is good. But of course there are also times when nothing seems to be going right and in my frustration all I can do is lash out at the one whom I know will never leave me, God. But at the end of all of those times, I always end up face down, crying out for His will to be done, because God is good, and He is sovereign.
Because this is an application of course I want to say that my relationship with Christ is perfect. But then I would be lying. Our relationship is far from perfect, it’s much too one sided for perfection. But He becomes more and more precious in my life with each new day.
There are two ways in which He is currently stretching me.
1.) He is constantly revealing to me the sins in my life which I did not even know existed. I find myself constantly confessing and repenting but without delay they always manage to creep back up. I will cut it down when I see it but I come back the next day and there it is again. Growing; like annoying weeds or unruly facial hair.
2.) He is calling me to put Him first, above all idols. I prioritize my family even above God sometimes. When life gets hard and I see my family members in pain, my relationship with God tends to sour because I always look for someone to pin the blame. But He has called me to lift up my family unto Him and love Him more. That has proved to be my most difficult challenge; because I love them very much, and He knows it, which is precisely why He demands it. Like Abraham, only much less extreme. But I faith and trust in Him, knowing that He loves my family much more than I.
In the end, I am still a work in progress. But I am so glad that He never stops teaching me and molding me.