A LIVING SACRIFICE
1) Have you given up your life over to Christ Jesus?
The Apostle Paul tells us in Rom. 12:1 "I beseech you therefore, bretheren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service."
And Jesus Himself tells us in Luke 9:23 "And He said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me."
This is not friendly advice, it is His commandment. He says we must deny ourselves, otherwise we are not really following Him.
And Jesus says in John 14:15 "If you love me, keep my commandments." And in John 15:10, Jesus say "If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love, even as I have kept my Father's commandments, and abide in His love."
To be a true Christian, our heart's passionate desire must be to become truly Christ like.
This is a test of loyalty to Him. Do we love Him enough to truly follow Him, to walk as He walked.
He took our sin and died with it. He saved us from the punishment we deserved, which we still deserve. He saved us from Hell and eternal torment. And He is still the only one that keeps us from day to day. Only by the authority of His Word and His call on our lives are we still saved from death and Hell.
If we are truly greatful, If we really love Him, then we will walk as He did, with a heart turned only to God, and we will read His word until we know HIm, we will pray and seek His face, so we can see the world with His eyes, then we will have power over self and sin in every situation!
God expects each one of us to lay down on the alter, to die to self totally, to live in complete obedience to the written Word of God, to the word He speaks to us personally, and to the Godly authority He has placed over us.
The Apostle John says in I John 2:4-5 "He that says, I know Him, and does not keep His commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him. (vs.5) But whoso keeps His word in him, truly is the love of God perfected: hereby we know that we are in Him."
And I John 5:3-4 the Apostle says, we read "For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievious."
Are you a living sacrifice, Holy and acceptable? Or are you a pirate ship flying false colors, just pretending to be a Christian.
Are you making your own decisions, running your own life,
then you are in charge, and Jesus isn't, and your not saved.
For Jesus to save you, He must first be your Lord and your master. When you are His servant and His obedient child then He becomes your defender and your savior.
Jesus knows your heart. He knows if you truly love Him more than the world, more than your friends, more than anything. Jesus knows.
You may not want to believe that Jesus would actually ask us to become Holy, to walk in Holyness as He did.
If your doubting its becuase you trust your own thoughts instead of lisening to the Word of God.
Solomon warns us in Prov. 28:16 "he that trusts in his own heart is a fool..." and Prov. 14:12 & 16:25 says "there is a way that seems right unto man, but the end thereof are the ways of death." and Prov. 3:5 says "Trust in the Lord with all thine heart and lean not unto thine own understanding."
And the author of Hebrew says, in Heb. 2:3, "How shall we escape if we neglect so great salvation."
And in Heb. 10:31 he says "It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God."
And Paul says in 2 Cor. 5:11 "Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men ..."
So turn off your doubting mind and listen to what the Word of God says to you.
Jesus says in Luke 6:26 "Woe unto you, when all men shall speak well of you! For so did their father's (speak well) to the false prophets."
Jesus tells us in Luke 16:15 "...that which is highly esteemed among men is abomination in the sight of God." He says the pleasures of this world are an abomination to God.
In Matt. 12:36 Jesus tells us "I say unto you that every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of Judgement."
And the apostle John in 1 John 2:15-16 says "Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world."
The Apostle James in James 4:17 says "To him that knows to do good, and does it not, to him it is sin."
And in Heb. 10:26 we are warned that "If we sin willfully after that we have recieved the knowledge of the truth, there remains no more sacrifice for sins..."
If we are not truly turned toward God, in our heart, truly doing our very best to be Christ like, and to walk in His ways; if we neglect so great a salvation, our unrepented sin stays uncovered and we are polluted.
So I ask you now to turn form self, and give yourself as a living sacrifice, Holy and acceptable unto God, give yourself to Bible study, to prayer and to true Holyness.
Do as the Apostle Paul tells us in Rom. 12:2 "be ye not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind..." by the power of hearing His word.
We need to develop a close relationship with Jesus.
To "Seek the Lord and His strength, seek
His face evermore." Psalm 105:4
We need to often ask for His presence!
We need to often confess our desire for Him.
We need to confess our sin & that His blood is the only
covering for our sin.
To build a relationship we need communication.
Example: If I want to get close to a friend or a loved one
I have to spend the time to listen and to speak to them.
We should do the same with Jesus.
If I want a relationship with Jesus, I must spend the time to get to know Him.
To carry on a conversation we must be able to hear God.
John 8:43 & 47, "He that is of God hears God's words..."
and John 10:27 "My sheep hear my voice and I know them, and
they follow me."
To follow Him we must listen to His voice, the voice of the Holy Spirit, which He has given to us as a witness. We must not listen to any other voice, not even the voice of our own minds.
When we act in agreement with Him, when we act in faith & agreement
with the word of the Holy Spirit.
"Anything that is not of faith is sin" Romans 14:23
Agreement with not faith is disagreement with Him.
Psalm 95:7-8 "...We are the people of His pasture
... if ye hear His voice."
But many Christians don't hear God very well, particularly new
borns. Some Christians rarely hear God. Others miss God.
So how can we learn to hear God better?
The key to relationship and hearing is obedience!
"... to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are, ..." Romans 6:16
We need to ask for His help, to be able to begin to obey!
We need His help to do anything!
9) Above all, if you are not yet hearing God very well, do not receive condemnation! We could all hear God better.
"There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus...," Romans 8:1.
If you desire Him, and your desire is to do His will, you are in Him, even if it seems you can't do anything as you ought to do.
For, "...no man can say that Jesus is the Lord but by the Holy Ghost." I Cor. 12:3. And "Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God..." John 3:3. That is, you can't see His goodness, you can't desire Him, unless you have already been translated into His kingdom by believing the revelation of the Holy Spirit.
This salvation is of "faith that by grace, to the end the promise might be sure..." Rom. 4:16 If salvation came by works we could never be sure how much was enough, but in faith we can be certain since it depends only on His accomplished work.
"Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ has made us free..." Galatians 5:1. Do not receive condemnation because of your failings, your desire to do His will is your guarantee that you are saved and cleansed by the power of His blood and by your participation in His death burial and resurrection.
10) The promise to all is ...
"...Obey my voice, and I will be your God and ye shall be my people, and walk ye in all the ways that I commanded you that it may be well unto you." Jer. 7:23
We have obeyed because we have believed Him!
"They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength..."
Isa. 40:31 This means wait like a waiter in a restaurant.
If when you go the restaurant the waiter doesn't listen
to what you want, and the next time he again doesn't listen, then you will ask for another waiter.
Since Jesus is in charge of the universe and knows what
is best in every situation, how can we not follow. How can we not do what He tells us to do? How can we follow anyone else?
11) But beware of the deceivers. Jesus tell us:
"Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly are ravening wolves. Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit....
Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them."
"Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord shall enter into the kingdom of heaven: but he that doeth the will of my father which is in heaven. Many shall say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity." Matt. 7:21-14
"Therefore, whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock..." Matt. 7:24
It is clear that a personal relationship with Him is, knowing Him, listening to, and obeying Him. There is no substitute for intimacy with Jesus. They that have it are His. They that claim it, but don't have it, are false prophets.
This personal hearing and following relationship is the Kingdom of God, which He has invited us to join. His Kingdom, is blessed guidance, and provision in every circumstance. There is nothing as good, as fulfilling, as a close walk with Him!
12) How do we start? We start by choosing to obey!
We need to begin by doing our very best to follow His word.
That is, we simply choose to try to do His will, even if we are not yet good at doing it. Our choice is to follow in faith! If we thus act in obedience to His written word, then we are acting in faith, trusting in His word. Here we obey the spoken because we are commanded to in the written word. So we obey both the written and spoken word. We choose to obey the spoken word, an action in obedience to the written word. It is by thie act of faith-obedience that we start to operate in His ways, and begin to hear His voice, the Holy Spirit.
Rom. 10:17 "Faith cometh by hearing and hearing by the
word of God."
That is, hearing comes with the gift of faith; to perform or believe what is asked. And acting on what we hear is faith, which increases our hearing. Hearing improves the obeying, and obeying improves the hearing. This is like seeking a station on the radio. If you have heard the station before, then you know what it should sound like, and it is easier to tune in on it. The more you listen, the easier it is to stay tuned in to God.
Matt. 16:16-18 "And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living god. And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-jona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in Heaven."
Simon means hearing, Bar means born of, and jona=dove, a symbol of the Holy Spirit. So Simon Bar-jona means hearing born of the Holy Spirit. This hearing and obeying of the Holy Spirit is the basis for the action of the Church. It is only by the Holy Spirit that we can know the truth God intends that we believe. For the things of God are spiritually discerned, I Cor. 2:14. It is only by the Holy Spirit that we can know anything spiritual, or do anything that we ought to do.
Prov. 23:23 "Buy the truth and sell it not"
How can we buy it? What do we have to give?
We give up the old lies we used to believe and
replace them with the truth which we then begin to live.
We buy the truth with obedience to His truth.
Obedience is a sacrifice, a giving up of self will.
What is the truth? The truth is the gospel of Jesus,
the gospel of the kingdom of God, the deity of Christ,
and His redeeming blood.
Col. 2:6-11 "As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in Him: Rooted and built up in Him, and stablished in the faith, as ye have been taught, abounding therein with thanksgiving. Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men and the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ. For in Him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily. And ye are complete in Him, which is the head of all principality and power: In whom also ye are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ."
Matt 17:5, Mark 9:7, Luke 9:35
"This is my beloved son, hear ye Him."
On a mountain in Galilee, Jesus appeared to them after the resurrection.
Matt. 28:18 "And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying,
All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.
John 18:36-38 "I have come to bear witness to the truth"
So we, like Him, must bear witness to His truth.
And sell it not. Nothing is worth giving up the truth.
There is nothing that we could receive as valuable as God's truth. So we won't give up God's truth in exchange for anything. We can't give it up.
We must hold on to truth, for truth is what gives life.
We can't charge people for it!
John 5:30 "I can of my own self do nothing, as I hear I judge."
The same Holy Spirit that spoke through Him, saying this,
we can now hear directly, and do as He did, obeying.
Matt 11:15, 13:9, 13:15-17; Mark 4:23, 7:16; Rev. 2:7,11,17,29,
Rev. 3:6, 13, 22, 13:9<<
"He that has an ear let him hear what the Spirit says."
Luke 8:21 "My mother and brethren are these which hear the
word of God and do it."
If indeed we will begin to make a sincere effort to obey
the written word, and to listen to the spoken word as the written word instructs us, to listen and obey the word of
the Holy Spirit, given to us each day; then we will
indeed be His servants, and do the works of God.
We will truly wait upon the Lord.
And as we see in
Mark 16:17 "These signs shall follow them that believe"