Monthly Archives: February 2009

Sacrifice of Praise

Hebrews 13:12-16
12Therefore Jesus also, that He might sanctify the people through His own blood, suffered outside the gate.

13So, let us go out to Him outside the camp, bearing His reproach.

14For here we do not have a lasting city, but we are seeking the city which is to come.

15Through Him then, let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that give thanks to His name.16And do not neglect doing good and sharing, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.

I was hiking the other day.  Actually, I’ve been hiking a lot lately.  I signed up for a 5.5 mile run on April 11th and I am going to be ready!  However, actually getting ready is WORK!  As I was huffing and puffing my way up the steep slopes this concept of “Sacrifice of Praise” came to mind.  I believe the Lord showed me something.  I’ll share it with you and you can decide if God is speaking to you too.

I know I don’t look like it so much these days, but in high school I was a pretty good athlete.  A sprinter, football player, one year of soccer even.  Games and meets and matches were fun.  Practice, not always.  It took work to get in shape, to train the God given abilities to be able to perform at a high level (hopefully) on game day.  Some of those practices were grueling.  Another set of intervals when you were ready to throw up.  More wind sprints after a hard practice with the coach blowing his whistle and barking at us to move it.  Needless to say, there were days I would have rather been doing other things.  The payoff was;  being in great shape, and running a good time in the 100, or making a big play to help win the game, etc.

As I was huffing and puffing up Pusch Peak and I was noticed that I really wasn’t in the mood for a hard hike.  I was tired.  It had been a long day.  I almost turned back, but I decided to press on.  To make a sacrifice!  With a payoff in mind;  get into great shape (someday, with consistent training), and be ready to run 5.5 miles on April 11th.  I was offering a sacrifice of hiking!  I ended up making really good time compared to just the week before.  My workouts were paying off!  But I don’t always feel like working out.

God started showing me the parallel.  Sacrifice of working out when I don’t feel like it builds discipline in my life and rewards here on Earth.  Spiritual sacrifice builds discipline in my life and rewards here, and in Heaven!  A win win!  That is so like God.

How many times in tough circumstances do we run to the TV, or comfort food, or our favorite sin, instead of thanking God in (not for, but in) the circumstance.  This is where the sacrifice of praise comes into play.  Instead of running from God, or ignoring Him, when the tough gets going, this is the time to run to God!  Consistently.  Especially when you don’t feel like it!  He is always there.  He loves us soooooo much!  He is close to the brokenhearted!!!  He desires for us to rely on Him and to trust Him all the time, not just when life is going well.

When we run to Him we receive all of His benefits.  We cry Abba Father to the caring Dad who has already met our needs forever through His Son Jesus and longs to meet them now!  Why do I cry in my beer when I can cry on His shoulder?  Especially when alcohol is a depressant!  No.  It’s the sacrifice of praise that will build spiritual discipline.  Not so much because our hard work brings us closer to God, but rather, the closer we stay to God the more His presence can change us!  Discipline is a fruit of the Spirit.  We can only bear fruit when we are connected to the vine.  Still, staying close to God can be a fight!

If working out brings a benefit, how much more spiritual discipline.

1 Corinthians 9:24-25
24Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize.

25Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever.

Next time you are feeling down.  Like God has forgotten your name.  Run to His loving arms.  Praise His name for giving you life!  For giving you His Son as a sacrifice!  He hasn’t forgotten your name.  He has promised to never leave you nor forsake you.  Take Him at His Word, even though sometimes the going is very hard.

Psalm 126:5 & 6
5Those who sow in tears shall reap with joyful shouting.
6He who goes to and fro weeping, carrying his bag of seed,
Shall indeed come again with a shout of joy, bringing his sheaves with him.

Keep sowing good even when it feels bad.  It will pay great dividends!

The Road Not Taken

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth.

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same.

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I–
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

-Robert Frost

Craziness Around the Globe

SnowStump

and in the Boston Globe. Seems that anxiety is on the rise as some in the worldwide media hype so called “Global Warming.”

Last year, an anxious, depressed 17-year-old boy was admitted to the psychiatric unit at the Royal Children’s Hospital in Melbourne. He was refusing to drink water. Worried about drought related to climate change, the young man was convinced that if he drank, millions of people would die. The Australian doctors wrote the case up as the first known instance of “climate change delusion.”

Yes, this an extreme case, but the article goes on to say that nervousness over

“extreme weather events, such as droughts, floods, cyclones, and hurricanes, can lead to emotional distress”

is on the rise.

OK. I have documented again and again that “Global Warming” was really Solar Warming and now the Sun is getting quieter, the Earth is now cooling. Still, the Boston Globe says,

“Climate change is expected to create about 200 million environmental refugees by 2050, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the international body established within the United Nations to evaluate causes and consequences of global warming.”

Even if this were true (which it’s not!) Jesus said, DON’T WORRY!

Matthew 6:33-34
33 “But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

34 “So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

Does the Bible have anything to say about “Global Warming?” A couple of things indirectly. In Revelation it’s clear that it’s will heat up dramatically for a short time:

Revelation 16:8-9

8 The fourth angel poured out his bowl upon the sun, and it was given to it to scorch men with fire.

9 Men were scorched with fierce heat; and they blasphemed the name of God who has the power over these plagues, and they did not repent so as to give Him glory.

Look closely. Even when God will pour out His wrath on the planet, it will be solar warming! No mention of CO2 or methane gas here.

Still concerned about “Global Warming?” Consider what God says in Genesis 8:22:

22“While the earth remains,
Seedtime and harvest,
And cold and heat,
And summer and winter,
And day and night
Shall not cease.”

I guess Dick Cheney was right when he said he believed in global warming. It’s called Spring and Summer!

Obedience

That’s a tough word.  Especially in this, “instant gratification isn’t fast enough” culture of today.  Marketers are taught, if you want to sell your product you have to convey to the customer, “what’s in it for me if I buy your product.”

That’s what I love, and hate, about Christ.  Jesus is always there to challenge the worldly culture and our selfish desires.  I hate it because I want what I want when I want it.  The world tells me, “Yeah.  You should have what you want when you want it.”  The problem with my selfish desires is they are selfish!  Someone else usually gets hurt.  In the long run, I usually get hurt too.

I love it because God knows best.  Duh!  He’s God!  He knows that to the degree that I’m able to obey Jesus, there is great benefit in it!  Not just for me, but for the people around me that I end up serving rather than hurting.

Jesus is our example and even He obeyed His Father all the way to the cross.

Hebrews 5:8 & 9
8  Although He was a Son, He learned obedience from the things which He suffered.

9  And having been made perfect, He became to all those who obey Him the source of eternal salvation,

Jesus is leading us into obedience, not because He is on a power trip, but rather, He knows there is great blessing for us when we obey.

In the Garden of Gethsemane before Jesus was taken captive to be crucified He was talking to His disciples.  Those last moments with His disciples are so key.  The things that Jesus had to say about His ministry on Earth, His Father, The Holy Spirit that was coming, and His prayer for believers are so important for followers of Christ today.  It’s all there in your Bible starting in John 14 through His capture in John 18.

In John 14, Jesus talked about the benefits of obedience.

John 14:21-23
21  Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me. He who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love him and show myself to him.”

22  Then Judas (not Judas Iscariot) said, “But, Lord, why do you intend to show yourself to us and not to the world?”

23  Jesus replied, “If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.  24  He who does not love me will not obey my teaching. These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me.

Obedience is hard.  I guess if it wasn’t, everyone would do it.  It’s tough because it takes faith in God.  We have to trust Him and not ourselves.  To be able to trust Him that if we do what is right it will turn out right.  Ever have pressure from a friend or a boss to do what you aren’t supposed to do?  It takes courage to say, “You know, I might be risking my job, or our friendship, but I have to do what s right.”  Jesus says if I love Him I will obey Him.  He won’t leave me or forsake me when I don’t, but depending on what I choose to do there may be consequences.  The Bible says that God disciplines those He loves.  But when I do obey, because I love God and I want to do what’s right, through that obedience He will reveal more of Himself to me.

Ever hear the Holy Spirit urge you to read the Bible when you get up in the morning?  There have been so many times that I have not obeyed that voice and logged on to Facebook instead.  Does God still love me?  Absolutely!  Is He still with me?  Sure.  But what would He have said to me through His Word if I had obeyed?  I would have been encouraged and better equipped to face the rest of the day!  Instead, in my disobedience, I don’t get encouraged.  That could lead to giving in to temptation, or not seeking His direction in an important decision, etc.  Disobedience quenches the Holy Spirit.  Instead of listening and obeying, I end up doing what I think is right, or sometimes, what I know is wrong.  When I listen and obey, I end up doing what God thinks is right!

As I obey, I become more like Jesus.  That’s an eternal benefit worth investing in.

The President Doesn’t Believe Global Warming!

The President of Czechoslovakia that is.  In a Brietbart.com story, Czech President Vaclav Klaus attacked Al Gore for not considering differing views:

Referring to the former US vice president, who attended Davos this year, he added: “I’m very sorry that some people like Al Gore are not ready to listen to the competing theories. I do listen to them.

By the way, Davos is reporting good ski conditions.