VIDEO The Offering of the Natural – Sacrifice, The Path To Freedom

The Offering of the Natural

Paul was not dealing with sin in this chapter of Galatians, but with the relation of the natural to the spiritual. The natural can be turned into the spiritual only through sacrifice. Without this a person will lead a divided life. Why did God demand that the natural must be sacrificed? God did not demand it. It is not God’s perfect will, but His permissive will. God’s perfect will was for the natural to be changed into the spiritual through obedience. Sin is what made it necessary for the natural to be sacrificed.

Abraham had to offer up Ishmael before he offered up Isaac (see Genesis 21:8-14). Some of us are trying to offer up spiritual sacrifices to God before we have sacrificed the natural. The only way we can offer a spiritual sacrifice to God is to “present [our] bodies a living sacrifice…” (Romans 12:1). Sanctification means more than being freed from sin. It means the deliberate commitment of myself to the God of my salvation, and being willing to pay whatever it may cost.

If we do not sacrifice the natural to the spiritual, the natural life will resist and defy the life of the Son of God in us and will produce continual turmoil. This is always the result of an undisciplined spiritual nature. We go wrong because we stubbornly refuse to discipline ourselves physically, morally, or mentally. We excuse ourselves by saying, “Well, I wasn’t taught to be disciplined when I was a child.” Then discipline yourself now! If you don’t, you will ruin your entire personal life for God.

God is not actively involved with our natural life as long as we continue to pamper and gratify it. But once we are willing to put it out in the desert and are determined to keep it under control, God will be with it. He will then provide wells and oases and fulfill all His promises for the natural (see Genesis 21:15-19).

WISDOM FROM OSWALD CHAMBERS

Beware of isolation; beware of the idea that you have to develop a holy life alone. It is impossible to develop a holy life alone; you will develop into an oddity and a peculiarism, into something utterly unlike what God wants you to be. The only way to develop spiritually is to go into the society of God’s own children, and you will soon find how God alters your set. God does not contradict our social instincts; He alters them.  Biblical Psychology, 189 L


Sacrifice: The Path To Freedom


 

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Restored Failures

The Lord upholds all who fall and lifts up all who are bowed down. Psalm 145:14

A guest band was leading praise and worship at our church, and their passion for the Lord was moving. We could see—and feel—their enthusiasm.

Then the musicians revealed that they were all ex-prisoners. Suddenly their songs took on special meaning, and I saw why their words of praise meant so much to them. Their worship was a testimony of lives broken and restored.

The Lord upholds all who fall and lifts up all who are bowed down. Psalm 145:14

The world may embrace success. But stories of past failure offer people hope too. They assure us that God loves us no matter how many times we have failed. Pastor Gary Inrig says that what we call the Hall of Faith in Hebrews 11 could well be entitled God’s Hall of Reclaimed Failures. “There is scarcely an individual in that chapter without a serious blemish in his or her life,” he observes. “But God is in the business of restoring failures . . . . That is a great principle of God’s grace.”

I love the comfort of Psalm 145, which speaks of God’s “wonderful works” (vv. 5–6) and glorious kingdom (v. 11). It describes His compassion (vv. 8–9) and faithfulness (v. 13)—then immediately tells us that He lifts up those who have fallen (v. 14). All His attributes are expressed when He picks us up. He is indeed in the business of restoration.

Have you failed before? We all have. Have you been restored? All who have been redeemed are stories of God’s grace.

Our stories of failure can be God’s stories of success.

By Leslie Koh 

INSIGHT

For the believer, the living God is the ultimate safety net. The psalmist says, “The Lord upholds all who fall” (Ps. 145:14). Despite allowing disappointment, loss, and failure, God provides the power and resources to keep us going when we stumble.

How might you praise God today for His steadfast love that reaches out to you after you fall?

Dennis Fisher

How God Would Have Us Use Money

1 Timothy 6:6-11

The world attaches far more significance to money than God ever intended it to have. Instead of simply being a means of exchange for goods and services, it has become an object of greed, a source of power and prestige, and a means of achieving status, happiness, and security. With so many false hopes pinned to wealth, we must be careful not to fall for the lies. Scripture not only warns us that placing too much importance on money is dangerous; it also advises us how to use wealth according to God’s purposes.

For personal needs. God wants the able-bodied to earn money so they can meet personal and family needs (2 Thess. 3:10). Christians should live within their means so they won’t be a burden to others.

For God’s work. Since everything we have comes from the Lord, He commanded us to give the first part of our income to Him as an act of obedience and gratitude (Prov. 3:9). Our contributions allow the gospel to be proclaimed both locally and internationally, changing the eternal destiny of countless people.

For helping others. The Lord commands us to share what we have when someone experiences a financial crisis and is truly in need (Prov. 19:17). God never overlooks generosity and promises to repay us.

The important thing isn’t how much money we have but whether we’re using it as the Lord commands. Acquiring more is never the way to achieve happiness and security. Yet as we obey God’s instructions about finances, we’ll find the joy and contentment our hearts truly desire.

Blessed Is He

“Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. Blessed is the man unto whom the LORD imputeth not iniquity.” (Psalm 32:1-2)

What true believer is there who is not eternally thankful for the truths found in today’s verse? Sins of omission, sins of commission, sins of deliberate action, sins of the heart, youthful sins, covert sins, “big” sins, “little” sins, etc. What a thrill to know that the penalty for our sins has been paid in full if we but accept His free gift. What rejoicing and freedom forgiveness brings.

Note that there are three different expressions for wrongdoing in today’s verse—transgression, sin, and iniquity. The differences in these words are not insignificant, but precise differentiation is beyond the scope of this discussion. Suffice it to say that they can be understood to mean the whole gamut of sinful activity.

Likewise, there are three separate aspects of God’s forgiving grace mentioned: “forgiven . . . covered . . . not imputed.” In every way possible, our sin is removed from us, and no more payment is necessary.

However, God’s forgiveness must be conditioned on the individual’s action. A lack of action results in the bearing of the sin, the guilt, and the consequences, again specified in a threefold manner. “My bones waxed old . . . my roaring . . . thy hand was heavy upon me” (vv. 3-4).

In keeping with the pattern of the psalm, three such actions are mentioned. “I acknowledged my sin unto thee, and mine iniquity have I not hid. I said, I will confess my transgressions unto the LORD” (v. 5). The result? “And thou forgavest the iniquity of my sin.”

Because of all this, we should have a threefold response: “Be glad in the LORD, and rejoice, ye righteous: and shout for joy, all ye that are upright in heart” (v. 11). JDM

Freely ye have received, freely give

2 Kings 12:1-15

2 Kings 12:1, 2

But alas! he had no root in himself; he was the creature of influences, and was only good so long as the reins of his conduct were in godly hands. Men should have minds of their own, and possess principles which will guide them, whether their instructors are with them or removed from them. Jehoiada deserves great honour for the way in which he managed the affairs of the kingdom.

2 Kings 12:5

The king had been brought up in the temple, and therefore felt a great love for it; he had but a form of godliness, but he was very zealous for that form, and even shamed the priests themselves. Those who have nothing but external religion are often more eager for it than those who possess the reality of godliness.

2 Kings 12:7

Ministers ought not to be burdened with the raising of money, they have higher duties. Through leaving it to the priests, things were badly managed, and contributions were thrown into one fund which ought to have been separately appropriated; the king therefore resolved upon another plan. If we cannot provide means for a good work in one way, we must try another.

2 Kings 12:10

This method was novel, and commended itself to the judgment of the people. It is most important that persons should be sure that whatever is given to the cause of God is honestly used.

2 Kings 12:11-14

Here it will be well to ask whether we as a family are doing our part for the support of divine worship. Let us not dwell in our ceiled houses while the house of God lies waste.

2 Kings 12:15

Faithfulness is a great virtue. Whatever may happen to us, we must be exact to a farthing in the keeping of accounts. A Christian should be one whom all can trust with untold gold. Whether we are household servants, or lords of the land, our first duty to our fellow men is scrupulous honesty.

 

Are You Resisting the Devil?

James 4:7

When the devil tries to assault your mind, telling you that your God-given dream will never come to pass, how do you resist those assaults? Do you stand firm against those lies and command them to leave? Or do you allow the devil to mentally assail your mind with untrue allegations?

In James 4:7, the Bible tell us, “… Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” The word “resist” is from the Greek word anthistemi, which is a compound of the words anti and istimi. The word anti means against, as to oppose something. The word istimi means to stand. When placed into one word, thus forming the word anthistemi, it means to stand against or to stand in opposition. It is a word that demonstrates the attitude of one who is fiercely opposed to something and therefore determines that he will do everything within his power to resist it, to stand against it, and to defy its operation.

By using this word, James plainly lets us know that we must be aggressively determined to stand against the work of the devil. Just shutting our eyes and hoping the enemy will withdraw won’t work. We must dig in our heels, brace ourselves for a fight, and put our full force forward to drive him back and out of our lives. Our stand against Satan must be firm, unyielding, and steadfast if we want to successfully resist his bombardment of lies against our minds and emotions.

Notice that James says we are to resist the “devil.” As noted in many other Sparkling Gems, the word “devil” is the translation of the word diabalos, which is more of a job description than it is a name. You see, if you understand the word “devil,” you also know exactly how this sinister enemy works.

The word “devil” is a compound of the words dia and balos. The word dia has many meanings, depending on how it is used. However, in this particular case, it means through, as to pierce something from one side all the way through to the other side. The word balos means to throw, as when a person throws a ball, a rock, or some other object. When these two words are joined, it means to repetitiously throw something—striking again and again and again until the object being struck has finally been completely penetrated.

Now do you see why this word is a vivid job description for the devil? It tells us exactly how he operates. He comes to assault the mind—not once but many times. He strikes the mind and emotions again and again and again. He just keeps on striking until he wears down the resistance of the one being assaulted. Then as soon as the victim lets down his mental resistance, the devil gives one last firm punch that finally succeeds in penetrating his mind. Once the devil has gained access into that person’s mind, he begins to deluge him with lies on top of lies. If the person listens to those lies and believes them, the devil can then successfully build a stronghold in his life from which he can begin to control and manipulate him.

Does this kind of mental attack sound familiar? Well, let me ask you a question: Instead of giving the devil the pleasure of filling your head with a barrage of lies, why don’t you start to resist him? That’s right—just tell the devil to shut up and to stop dropping those dimwitted religious thoughts of nonsense into your head! Tell him to hit the road!

It’s time for you to resist the enemy of your soul. Let him know that you’re not going to bite that bait anymore, so he may as well go fishing somewhere else. You’re no longer going to be a sucker! You have just been informed that there is a deadly hook inside that bait that is designed to hook you, pull you into the devil’s net, and turn you into dead meat for the devil to chomp on for a long time. But he has hooked you with that bait for the last time!

James 4:7 has good news for you. It says that if you will resist the devil, he will “flee” from you. The word “flee” in Greek is so exciting! It is from the word pheugo, which from the earliest times of Greek literature meant to flee or to take flight. It was used to depict a lawbreaker who flees in terror from a nation where he broke the law. The reason he flees so quickly is that he wants to escape the prosecution process. Remaining in the nation would most assuredly mean judgment; so rather than stay and face the consequences, the lawbreaker flees for his life.

This means the devil knows that he is a lawbreaker! He also knows that if a believer stands against him—in other words, if the believer resists the enemy by using his God-given authority in the name of Jesus and with the Word of God—it won’t be long until that believer begins to rule and dominate the devil. Rather than allow this to happen, the devil begins to withdraw and look for a way to escape the prosecution process. Instead of sticking around and trying hopelessly to defend himself against the name of Jesus and the Word of God, the devil tucks his tail and runs! That is precisely what James means when he says that the devil will “flee.”

 

An expanded and more contemporary interpretation of James 4:7 could read:

“Stand firmly against the devil! That’s right—be unbending and unyielding in the way you resist him so that he knows he is up against a serious contender. If you’ll take this kind of stand against him, he will tuck his tail and run like a criminal who knows the day of prosecution is upon him. Once you start resisting him, he’ll flee from you in terror!”

Friend, the devil wants to make your life less-than-gratifying, unhappy, and uneventful. That’s why he attacks your mind and tries to convince you that God’s dream for your life will never come to pass. He desperately wants to convince you to settle for less than God’s best in life. That’s exactly why you shouldn’t settle for anything less than God’s best!

God has given you the name of Jesus and the promises of His Word, so it’s time for you to close your ears to the devil’s lies and start quoting the Word and commanding the devil to leave in Jesus’ name. If you’ll take this approach, the devil will not only shut up and stop telling you his lies, but he’ll run from you in terror! Don’t you think it would be a good idea for you to get started quoting the Word of God and using the name of Jesus today?

MY PRAYER FOR TODAY

Lord, because You have given me the promises of Your Word and the right to use Your name, I refuse to let the devil bombard my mind any longer. Right now I stand up to resist him, oppose him, and put him on the run. Devil, you will no longer have free access to my mind and emotions, for I am standing up to resist you. You better put on your running shoes, because if you stick around me, I intend to prosecute you with the full authority of God’s Word! I tell you to GO in Jesus’ name! And, Heavenly Father, I thank You so much for giving me the great privilege of using Your Word and the authority of Jesus’ name!

I pray this in Jesus’ name!

MY CONFESSION FOR TODAY

I confess that I am not a weakling! I have the power of God, the Word of God, and the name of Jesus Christ at my disposal. When I step into the full authority God has given me, the devil knows that he must flee. I will not submit to the devil’s lies. If he tries to stick around and harass me, I will enforce God’s authority upon him! That’s why I know he will start to flee when I stand up to resist him in Jesus’ name. So right now, I am taking charge over my mind and commanding the devil to take flight!

I declare this by faith in Jesus’ name!

QUESTIONS FOR YOU TO CONSIDER

  1. How do you respond when the devil tries to assault your mind with lies over and over again? Do you let him have free access to your thought life—or do you stand firm against those lies and command them to leave in Jesus’ name?
  2. Can you remember a time in your life when, after rising up and taking authority over Satan’s mental bombardment in the name of Jesus, you could immediately tell that the mental assault had stopped and that Satan had indeed tucked his tail and run from you?
  3. What steps can you take to prepare now before Satan launches the next mental assault? Wouldn’t it be a good idea to build a strong arsenal of truth from God’s Word by meditating on scriptures you can use as a sword against the enemy when taking authority over his attack?

 

Anger And Fear

Anger and fear are two emotions that paralyze our spiritual development and rob us of joy in our walk with Christ.

Anger usually focuses on our disappointment over occurrences of the past: The violation of our “rights,” frustration over how things have turned out, or lack of fulfillment over not having achieved our goals. We either doubt God’s ability to manage our lives, or we resent His sovereign intrusion into them:

“They spoke against God, saying, ‘Can God spread a table in the desert?'” (Psalm 78:19)

“But his subjects hated him [Christ] and sent a delegation after him to say, ‘We don’t want this man to be our king.'” (Luke 19:14)

Fear usually focuses on our anxious anticipation of the future: Do we have what it takes to realize our hopes and aspirations, or will our lives crash in upon us? In the future, will some uninvited calamity make its intrusion? Similar concerns faced the Israelites when they came back from exploring the Promised Land. Tragically, because they refused to take God at His Word, they were diminished and immobilized by fear: “The Lord said to Moses, ‘Send some men to explore the land of Canaan, which I am giving to the Israelites… ‘

“They came back… [and] reported… ‘We went into the land to which you sent us, and it does flow with milk and honey! Here is its fruit… But the people who live there are powerful, and the cities are fortified and very large… But the men who had gone up with him said, ‘We can’t attack those people; they are stronger than we are,’ and ‘The land we explored devours those living in it. All the people we saw there are of great size… We seemed like grasshoppers in our own eyes, and we looked the same to them.'” (Numbers 13 – Selected)

The opposite of anger is gratitude, and the opposite of fear is rest. If we are thankful and at ease over the fact that God is overseeing the affairs of our lives, we will experience an inner calm and joy. And joy is the necessary “oil” that lubricates the “machinery” of life. Unresolved anger or fear on the other hand, become the “sand” in the machinery, that will in time cause our lives to grind to a halt.

“The prospect of the righteous is joy, but the hopes of the wicked come to nothing.” (Proverbs 10:28)

QUESTION: Would those closest to you say your life is driven by anger and fear, or characterized by gratitude and rest? If the answer is anger and fear, what changes do you need to make at this time?

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