Extreme requirements of those who serve God

“Thus the Lord said to me: ‘Go and get yourself a linen sash, and put it around your waist, but do not put it in water’” (Jeremiah 13:1, NKJV).

I am often amazed at how many modern Christians seem to consider their religion to be non-demanding. This is often reflected in the denial that God would require any inconvenience or excessive demands from them. They also assume that God wants them to have a prosperous and enjoyable life, whatever may be required to make that happen.

Whenever I am confronted with such attitudes I almost unfailingly think of the lives of the prophets of Israel as related to us in the Old Testament. Jeremiah, often called “The Weeping Prophet,” is a particular example of God’s extreme requirements of those who would serve him. Continue reading “Extreme requirements of those who serve God”

Must my sacrifice be greater than yours?

People don’t say it much any more, probably a sign of the times. Back in the day, however, when my wife Vicki and I would visit churches, some kind saint would often praise us for the sacrifice we were making on the mission field. While I would always thank the person for their comment, it also invariably left me uncomfortable. Time and again I felt the urge — to which I never gave in — to ask, “And what sacrifice are you making for the Lord, where you are?”

If the saints of God were indeed sanctified, consecrated, and devoted as the name “saint” implies, it would be a fine question to ask, causing no discomfort, confusion, or consternation. If our people understood and practiced true discipleship, the question would be a natural part of a spiritual conversation. But it is not, generally, a conversation that is held among us, nor can it be. Continue reading “Must my sacrifice be greater than yours?”

Holy, spiritual and acceptable sacrifices

It’s fascinating to watch a building go up on a construction site. Builders, architects, engineers, owners, suppliers, and workers participate in a highly coordinated process to make it happen. Sometimes, however, the process is interrupted, and the construction is slowed or stopped. The finished product is always a sight to behold.

Christ is that first and living stone in the spiritual temple of God. He is God’s firstborn, for he brings other living stones to build up this temple. Our work is to bring still more of these living stones into this temple. This is our priestly work. Continue reading “Holy, spiritual and acceptable sacrifices”

The sacrifice of silence

For everything there is an appointed time, and an appropriate time for every activity on earth…a time to keep silent, and a time to speak (Ecclesiastes 3:1,7 NET).

There is just so much noise. Twenty-four-hour news channels, talk radio, and social media provide a ceaseless surge of sound. Unfortunate news is twisted, amplified, and replayed into an unremitting feedback loop. To add to the noise seems almost like pouring a cup of water into the Pacific. I long for silence.

In the midst of all that noise, there are moments of deafening silence. There are occasions when voices must rise and cut through the clamor, speaking with clarity, conviction, and compassion.

When should we speak and when should we be silent? Continue reading “The sacrifice of silence”

The sacrifice of fools

“Church.” Religious ideas vary in the extreme. Religion is nothing more than human approaches to God. Man assembles a jumble of concepts and prejudices about religion and throws a mixture of practices into the bowl, with a heap of emotion for dressing.

Guard your steps when you go to the house of God. To draw near to listen is better than to offer the sacrifice of fools, for they do not know that they are doing evil, Ecclesiastes 5.1 ESV.

When you talk about, deal with, seek after God, you had better get your head down and your ears open. Religious buildings are full of fools who ignore what God wants and follow their own lights. Continue reading “The sacrifice of fools”

Look to Jesus Christ

Jesus Christ is the complete answer of God for the problem and need of mankind. Our problem is not ignorance, which education will solve. Our problem is not poverty, which more robust social programs will eradicate. Our problem is sin. It’s consequence, eternal and spiritual, is separation from God, Isaiah 5.1-2; Colossians 1.21. We cannot now imagine the despair and suffering caused by our rejection of God. No human action will repair that damage. So God sent his Son to pay the price for our sins, 1 Corinthians 6.20. Our Lord declared time and again that he came to save us from ourselves, Luke 19.10. This is the great act of grace on his part, Titus 3.4-7. Continue reading “Look to Jesus Christ”

Sign: Word Harder

Learning to do more

There is a quote from Jesus in his “Sermon on the Mount” that challenges me. It is within Matthew 5:46 and is, “what do you do more than others?”

Let’s get an idea of the context of this statement. In Matthew 5:20, Jesus warned his disciples and by implication all of us, that unless our righteousness exceeds that of the Scribes and Pharisees, we will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven. We must do more.

Jesus called us to abandon anger (Matthew 5:21f). He called us to abandon lust (Matthew 5:27ff). The Lord warned us to watch our tongue (Matthew 5:33ff). Then we are challenged to love the unlovable (Matthew 5:43-48). Continue reading “Learning to do more”

The Purpose and Power of the Priesthood

Have you given much thought to the priesthood? Some may see it as a waste of time. But I want to suggest to you that a study of the priesthood will enhance your appreciation for God. The story of the priesthood is really a story of us, of sin, of forgiveness, and of service.

The Story of Us

So as you come to him, a living stone rejected by men but chosen and precious in God’s sight, you yourselves, as living stones, are built up as a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood and to offer spiritual sacrifices that are acceptable to God through Jesus Christ (1 Peter 2:4-6 NET).

Continue reading “The Purpose and Power of the Priesthood”

Go, labor on!

“Therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest” (Matthew 9:38).

 

“Now it came to pass in the fourth year of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah, King of Judah, that this word came to Jeremiah from the Lord, saying: ‘Take a scroll of a book and write on it all the words that I have spoken to you against Israel, against Judah, and against all the nations, from the day I spoke to you, from the days of Josiah even to this day” (Jeremiah 36:1-2 NKJV).

Work just isn’t what it used to be. At least that is often the case in the U.S. and other developed nations. We are used to machines and tools which make difficult tasks much simpler. Dirt is moved by tractor or back-hoe and dump trucks. Few jobs which require more than a few wheelbarrows full are done with shovels or man-power. Continue reading “Go, labor on!”

The sacrifice that costs nothing

And what, you might ask, is a sacrifice that costs nothing? Isn’t that a contradiction in terms? Don’t all sacrifices cost something?

David used a phrase something like the one in the title of this article. He wanted to offer a sacrifice just outside Jerusalem on the land of an Israelite named Araunah. To his credit, Araunah offered the king all the resources needed for a sacrifice. Here they are, he declared, the wood, the oxen, the fire. That’s when David used the phrase, “a sacrifice that cost me nothing.” Continue reading “The sacrifice that costs nothing”