2-1-2020 Who is Willing to “Die” for Jesus?
Friend True Friend
Die for Jesus? Do I have to climb up on the cross and shed my blood? I don’t think so. Do I have to be martyred for Jesus? There are people, even today, who are imprisoned or even killed simply because they believe in Jesus and refuse to denounce their faith in Him.
How much do we really LOVE Jesus? Where does our faith REALLY stand? Why and how should we be willing to sacrifice ourselves for Jesus? And just what does that really MEAN for us today?
In our walk with Jesus, first we have to learn how to LOVE Him. As we love our Lord, our FAITH builds. The more we see Him do for us, the more we believe and rest in Him. Don’t be fooled, there is sacrifice, our sacrifice is living for Him. Let’s take a look
Loving Jesus may be the easiest thing to do, that is to make the decision to be like Him in all our ways yet, it is probably the hardest to implement.
Making the decision to allow Jesus into our lives, our hearts, is the first step in our showing our love for Him. And consider, His last step (on this earth), which He showed us, was giving up His life and shedding His blood on the cross, cleansing us from our sins and sinful nature – reconnecting us with the Father. I say the last step on this earth because, after His ascension back into heaven, He has given us the Holy Ghost to abide in us. This act of love assures us that as long as we walk with Him, we will be with Him in eternity. So, through the Holy Spirit, He walks with (in) us as we deal with this life. Jesus operates in us through the Holy Ghost. He continues to help us, protect us, guide us and even talk with us.
We discover, as a new Christian, we have a parent-child relationship with God (the Father). As we grow we come to understand more and more about God’s love. We realize we are moving from that parent-child relationship to a friend-friend relationship with our heavenly Father.
Over two thousand years ago, Herod’s temple, the temple of God in the days of Jesus, had five areas of relationship: 1) Outside the temple walls were the ‘unsaved’ people, those who don’t know God. 2) The women’s courtyard, where business was transacted (buying/selling items for sacrifice) and (if you will) a social place where people could interact, those who know God but not necessarily in a close relationship. Maybe they know ‘about’ God but are yet to actually walk ‘with’ Him. 3) The Priest’s courtyard. Only the priests and the men responsible for the household could enter bringing sacrifices (animal, grain, etc.) to the priests to offer unto God. These have a serious yet formal relationship with God. They may not know Him face to face but they acknowledge His sovereignty and His goodness. 4) The Holy Place. The vestments (clothing) and instruments for performing the priest’s duties are here. This also contained the altar where the priests burned incense unto the Lord. Burning incense before God was moiving a bit closer than ‘just’ sacrificing on the altar in the Priest’s Courtyard. And the Holy of Holies was within the Holy Place. 5) The Holy of Holies contained the Ark of the Covenant. The Ark of the Covenant contained Aaron’s rod, the Ten Commandments and (according to some) a piece of manna (heavenly or ‘angel’ food provided Israel – by God – in the wilderness). This was also the place where God came to interact with the High Priest, who was the only person allowed into the Holy of Holies. This was where the priest would get up close and personal with God. The closest relationship one could have with our Lord and Savior.
Each area represents our relationship with God. Those outside the walls, obviously, had no relationship at all with God.
The women’s courtyard, if you will, is a casual relationship, knowing God but with minimal responsibility and/or interaction. Getting serious with God was yet beyond.
The priest’s courtyard represents an active prayer life, maybe not as intense as the Lord seeks. Yet it is more than just saying thanx for the day, food, etc. It is a greater sense of knowing who God is and knowing who we are in Him.
The Holy Place? Our lives are in tune with the Lord, but there is still room for growth. We have a deep, ‘active’ prayer life and we are continually yielding ourselves over to the Lord. But there is more.
We are a royal priesthood (1Peter 2:9-10). I said that only the high priest could enter the Holy of Holies. When Jesus died on the cross, the curtain separating the Holy of Holies from the rest of the Holy Place was torn in two, from top to bottom. It exposed the Holy of Holies, no longer hidden behind a veil. Every one who has received Jesus into their heart is as a High Priest, we now have access to the Holy of Holies (Thank You for shedding Your blood Jesus). We now have ‘direct’ access to our Lord God (through our salvation experience). All we have to do is realize just what that relationship is and means.
Father desires all of us to walk through that torn curtain and sup with Him. Jesus’ desire for us is to be one with Him as He is one with the Father (John 17:1-26). Can anyone get any closer?
Think about a relationship with a best friend. We share things in a diary, but our ‘best’ friend is with whom we shared your innermost thoughts and feelings - face to face -, knowing that we would always be accepted. Like David and Johnathan (2 Sam. 1:26). They shared what we call ‘agape” love, not sensual or physically oriented, but deeper, perhaps even willing to give our very life for that person. After all, Jesus did say there is no greater love than a man give his life for his friends (John 15:13). Which He did! Which He did, even for those who weren’t His friends. God desires that all come to salvation (2Peter 3:9). Again, sacrificing our lives doesn’t necessarily mean we literally give up our lives for them (die), but it does mean we set ourselves aside. We set aside our wants and desires to consider the needs of others.
Are we starting to get the picture? How great a love Father has for us and no matter how hard we try, we can never truly repay Him. No matter how great a love we may have for Him, we fall short, but we keep trying. (right?)
God is love (1 John 4:1-21). We should always do our best to love God and our fellow man as Father has loved us. Amen.
Love opens the door so we can learn to walk in Faith. Where does my faith really stand?
What is faith? Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen (Heb. 1:11). We know we are going to receive something, we just don’t have it in hand, yet.
The early church had immeasurable faith. They walked with Jesus! Look at that early church, Peter, John and the rest of the apostles and disciples. For the first apostles and disciples it was ‘easy’ to live by faith as they had been physically and literally in the presence of our Lord Jesus as He taught them for three and a half years (+ 40 days, after the resurrection). They had been personal witnesses of Jesus’ miracles, healings and casting out devils and resurrection. They had performed many themselves (Jesus gave them the authority – Luke 1:9). This first- hand knowledge encouraged them to use the power endued upon them by the baptism of the Holy Ghost (Acts 1:8, “Acts 2:1-19) so they had no fear in taking a stand for Jesus. Of course, remember, even Peter denied Jesus three times (Matt. 26:34, 58, 69-75). Yes, we may stumble (mess up, sin) but we confess, repent and press forward in Christ Jesus. WE have an advocate with the Father (1 John 2:1). We are most miserable people, wrestling with right and wrong (Rom. 7:14-25). Yet, we run the race expecting to win (Heb. 12:1-3, 1 Corinth. 9:24).
And though Paul may not have walked with Jesus, as the others, because of his encounter on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:1-20) Paul, being a Pharisee among Pharisees, had no problem with being bold for Jesus during his ministry.
Father spread the church throughout surrounding territories so the early church could witness to needful souls. But, the farther the church got away from the first-hand teachings of Jesus and His physical presence and as time passed, the works of the church tapered off. This may be why Jesus commented to Thomas “Because you have seen Me and believe, blessed are they who have not seen and yet believe.” (John 20:29). Look at today’s church. Too many argue over what Jesus ‘really’ said or ‘meant’ to say. Too much of the church says that it knows better what God said than God!
We are a lot like doubting Thomas, or should I say like the comment Jesus made to Thomas. Thomas saw and believed (John 20:29). Today, we meet Jesus through our ‘salvation’ experience, but how many have seen Jesus “in the flesh”? I don’t mean in a vision or a dream. I mean in the flesh and bone, in our presence. After His resurrection, Jesus did so with His disciples (Luke 24:36-39).
We believe and trust Jesus to do what He says He will, even when we don’t see immediate results (Isa. 55:11, Dan. 10:8-14). God’s Word will not come back void, even when it has to battle spiritual entities. That is, as long as we are asking for the right reasons (James 4:1-3).
How often do we look to see how Father has answered our prayers? The answers to our prayers don’t have to be miraculous, earth shattering events. Tomorrow is not ours (James 4:13-17). How many of us thank God for our waking up in the morning (a miracle in itself – which we take for granted)? Learn to live in the little things and Father will give us greater (Luke 16:10-12). If we don’t acknowledge the ‘little’ things God does for us, how can we expect greater? We overcome by the blood of the lamb and the word of our testimony (Rev. 12:11). Sharing our testimonies is important. Appreciate the little things Father does for us then hold on and share them, for we don’t know what He has in store for us (1 Corinth. 2:9-11) or whose life we may impact.
If we don’t believe God for things, how can we receive them? We need to believe God is and that He rewards those who diligently seek Him (Heb. 11:6). Where is our faith?
So just what is our sacrifice. Though some have already given the ultimate sacrifice, we implied that physical death is not necessarily expected to show God our love and our faith. But, once we have Jesus in our hearts and the Holy Spirit dwelling within us, we discover that our sacrifice moves more and more into living for our Lord Jesus. We line our spirit up with His. We allow the Holy Ghost to line our lives up with His.
Implementing our love through our faith IS our sacrifice. And that ain’t easy.
It means giving up the ‘old’ things and applying more and more of God’s Word and Will into our lives. It means yielding things we are comfortable with to the Lord. It means discovering what it really means to ‘walk’ with our Lord.
The Holy Ghost will convict us of the things we need to shed – eliminate from our lives - and it all won’t happen at once. Some things can and will be lifted from us as soon as we made our profession of faith in Jesus, but other things will become a process. We didn’t become evil or rebellious overnight and Father desires us to remember our lessons as He delivers from many of those things. Why? Not so we can brag about how good we are, but so we can help others overcome their shortcomings.
Making the decision to draw closer to the Lord and then putting those decisions into action is our sacrifice!
We learn to love as God loves (agape love). As Father enables us, we give to the poor, visit the sick and those incarcerated (in prison). We visit the shut-ins, we offer our gifts and skills to those in need. We help others wherever and whenever we can – yep, even help little old ladies across the street.
More and more, as we grow, we interact with others in the love of God (agape). What did the apostle Paul tell us? The things of this world are temporary and even though faith and hope are good, love never goes away (1 Corinth. 13:1-13). There will come a time when we no longer need faith and hope. We will be living with the Lord!
Living in God’s love means turning our back on the world. I’m not saying ignore it or don’t interact with it, but what I am saying don’t become like the world. Before salvation, we already are like the world, but in Jesus, we endeavor to no longer act or speak like the world. Rather, we ‘put on Christ’, learning to walk, speak and live in the love of God. By the grace of God, we even learn to ‘think’ like Jesus!
Satan is the prince and power of the air (Eph. 2:2, Rev. 12:7-9), so we know that the earth is his domain – for now. But Jesus is over all (Col. 1:12-16). In the wilderness, among the three things Satan tempted Jesus, were the kingdoms of the world. God (Father) spoke the word (Jesus) and His Spirit (the Holy Ghost moved and all things were created! How could Satan even think of offering Jesus that which was already His?
Our sacrifice is living for Jesus. To do this, we need to come to know the bible so we can learn how to live in God’s love, which we do by faith and then put it into practice (our sacrifice) in our own lives so we may be found acceptable before God, the Father(1 Tim. 2:1-4). The Apostle Paul reminds us to renew our minds (Rom. 12:2). The more we communicate with Father, the easier it will be to become a living sacrifice for Him. Paul reminds us that after we put on the Armor of God (for protection), we need to pray in the Spirit (Eph. 6:18). Remember, since Jesus, we have a direct connect with the Father.
One more time: We show our love for God by allowing Jesus into our heart. The Holy Ghost takes up residence within our hearts and shows us how our faith grows as Father works in us and through us. Because our love grows and our faith is strengthened, we find it easier to become a living sacrifice for Jesus!