Sunday, December 27, 2015

A Sacrifice of Praise


We have an altar from which those who serve the tabernacle have no right to eat.  For the bodies of those animals, whose blood is brought into the sanctuary by the high priest for sin, are burned outside the camp.  Therefore Jesus also, that He might sanctify the people with His own blood, suffered outside the gate.  Therefore let us go forth to Him, outside the camp, bearing His reproach.  For here we have no continuing city, but we seek the one to come.  Therefore by Him let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name.  But do not forget to do good and to share, for with such sacrifices God is well pleased.” – Hebrews 13:10-16

Jesus was the last bloody sacrifice God would accept.  The sacrifice He desires from us today is the praise of our lips. 
I had a conversation one night this past week with a dear daughter of God (you know who you are my friend J) and we both gave praise to God for the things He has brought us through in life.  He has set both our feet on solid rock, and just taken care of us in ways that are unmistakably Him.  It was a spontaneous conversation where we both just let our hearts pour out what He put inside – praise for Him. 

Nothing feels as good as reflecting on the good God has placed in your life, and sharing it with others.  It’s like bragging on your children – but better.  It’s like telling the love you have for your spouse – but stronger.  It brings more joy than singing the most beautiful song.  It’s the only time you will empty what is in your heart only to have it feel as if it is full to overflowing.

Do you have a praise to give God?  I’d love to hear it.  He tells us to “do good and to share, for with such sacrifices God is well pleased”.  We grow in faith knowing what God has done for others.  Praise to God is seed planting.

Friday, December 18, 2015

The Unknown God

"Therefore, the One whom you worship without knowing, Him I proclaim to you: “God, who made the world and everything in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands.  Nor is He worshiped with men’s hands, as though He needed anything, since He gives to all life, breath, and all things.  And He has made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth, and has determined their preappointed times and the boundaries of their dwellings, so that they should seek the Lord, in the hope that they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us; for in Him we live and move and have our being, as also some of your own poets have said, ‘For we are also His offspring.’  Therefore, since we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Divine Nature is like gold or silver or stone, something shaped by art and man’s devising.  Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent,  because He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained. He has given assurance of this to all by raising Him from the dead.”  - Acts 17:24-31

The above sermon was given by Paul to the people of Athens.  Athens believed in many many gods and had temples throughout the city for every god imaginable.  But just in case they’d left one out – not to offend that god – they created an altar to “The Unknown God”. 
It’s not hard to understand how people left to their own resources would believe there were multiple gods.  Consider His attributes and His power.  It is unfathomably great. 

Who controls the seas?  God
Who controls the spin of the planet? God
Who controls the weather? God
Who gives life and takes life? God
Who created us? God
Who gives us our desire to love and be loved?  God
Who rescues us from our enemies? God
Who heals us? God
Who provides our food and clothing and shelter?  God
Who gives us wisdom? God
Who watches over us? God
Who guides us through the voice that only His can hear? God

The list is so long that it’s impossible to make a list without leaving something out.  Therefore, those who had never heard of our eternal, omnipotent, omnipresent God reasoned that no one god could perform all these things, and they created many gods to fill the various roles of God.
But Paul, being wise and lead by the Holy Spirit, was able to reach them by speaking of the Unknown God.  He explained to the people of Athens the God above all gods, the one true God, not made with hands, not living in a temple made by hand, but living in each of us who believe in Him as an intimate God.  He says “He is not far from each one of us, for in Him we live and move and have our being”.

I thought for a while this morning on what it would be like to have been a Roman, believing in many gods all appointed a specific delegation of power.  Can you imagine how hard prayer would be?  If you’re sick, you pray to one god.  If you’re having financial problems, you pray to another god.  If you’re having trouble within your family, you pray to another god.  The image in my mind of all this is total chaos.  
And then God reminded me that He is not the author of confusion and chaos but of peace (1 Corinthians 14:33).  And there you have it.  The attribute that our God gives over all other gods and even an unknown god is PEACE. He has given us His own son to allow us to come to Him even in our corrupt state.  Ephesians 2:14 says of Jesus, “For He Himself is our peace, who has made both one [us and God], and has broken down the middle wall of separation”, which was our sin of unbelief.

Praise God for the Prince of Peace!