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Archive for the tag “living sacrifice”

Wiped Out

Every time I think I am moving in the right direction, I have a bit of a setback. I want to see great strides develop in my faith walk. How come increasing faith always comes with a storm? I had been doing really well physically over the last few years. I haven’t had any issues that threw me into a tizzy – until this past week. I had a perfect storm of physical stresses that sent me into a downward spiral. I have an autoimmune disease that causes some chemical sensitivity when I am not being diligent with my diet. Over the holidays, I overindulged; and it’s caused a tipping point into the danger zone.

This week has been one of those weeks where I just didn’t want to do anything. My quiet time has been anemic. My Bible reading has fallen off as well. All I have wanted to do is watch TV or read in bed. This should be the time I draw nearer to Jesus, but it seems all I want to do is curl up in the fetal position and feel sorry for myself. I hate it when that happens!

I am just feeling wiped out – physically, emotionally and spiritually. This is not how I envisioned my first month of the New Year starting. I like to start the New Year off with a certain food fast. I usually take out one category like grains or sugar or chocolate and let my body reset from that particular food. This year it was going to be grains. The fast I got was not what I had in mind! After my sickness came on, I had to have some toast to settle my stomach. Nothing went like I was expecting.

Isn’t that the way things happen though? We have a plan. It looks good in theory. But God may have a different agenda. So what’s the lesson in this particular storm? If my focus is on faith, what is faith all about? In “Pursuit of God,” AW Tozer wrote “faith is the gaze of a soul upon a saving God.” He used the illustration of the bronze snake Moses made in the desert. While the people were wandering in the desert, they rebelled against God (over and over again). God used snake bites to get their attention. After the people cried out to God, Moses was instructed to make a bronze snake and attach it to a pole. For those who were bitten by a snake, they could look up to the bronze snake and be healed.

God used this illustration in the Old Testament as a testimony of what Jesus would later do when He died on a cross for our sins. Just as the bronze snake was lifted up, Jesus, the Son of God was lifted up on the cross for us. We can lift our eyes to Him when we have been bitten by that deceitful snake called sin. The people looked upon the bronze snake with external eyes, but we are given spiritual eyes to look upon Jesus to heal our wounds. Scripture tells us “by His wounds, we are healed.”

During this last week, I realized I have not had my soul gaze upon my Savior. Sickness is a tool our enemy uses to keep us out of the game. It keeps our eyes focused on ourselves. It makes us ineffective as followers of Jesus. Sickness leaves us on the sidelines curled up in a fetal position. Paul warned us, as followers, to keep the body healthy. The body is the living temple of God, and we are to keep it holy and well-tended. We have an obligation as the people of God to be available for His use. If we’re not in the game, we are useless to Him. The deceitful snake does his best to keep us distracted and off the playing field. (I guess football is on my mind while I write this!)

I brought my sickness on myself because I was not diligent in keeping within my dietary guidelines. I thought I could get away with it. But like sin, it always finds the light! Maybe this is the lesson I need to learn to help me with my faith. I no longer want to be wiped out by things I could have avoided if I had stayed the course. My gaze has to be focused upon my Savior – high and lifted up. No matter what, He’s worth the price I have to pay in order to be healthy and whole (as far as it depends on me). Besides, I hear there is going to be a wedding feast to end all wedding feasts one day! And every morsel we’ll consume then will be heavenly!

Just because something is technically legal doesn’t mean that it’s spiritually appropriate. If I went around doing whatever I thought I could get by with, I’d be a slave to my whims.

You know the old saying, “First you eat to live, and then you live to eat”? Well, it may be true that the body is only a temporary thing, but that’s no excuse for stuffing your body with food, or indulging it with sex. Since the Master honors you with a body, honor him with your body! 1 Corinthians 6:12-13 (MSG)

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The Altar

Instead of making resolutions for a new year, I like to concentrate on one word. This year the word seems to be surrender. I hoped for a different word. But this is the one that keeps popping up over and over. Every first Sunday of the New Year, my church has a special service to consecrate ourselves to the Lord for the coming year. This year, we received white flags to remind us to surrender. The word didn’t come to me in that moment. It happened while I was reading from AW Tozer’s “Pursuit of God.” It became clear this is my word for the year.

In the second chapter, Tozer writes about Abraham’s sacrifice of Isaac. The story is familiar – I have heard it most of my life. Isaac was Abraham’s greatest possession. God asked Abraham to lay Isaac on the altar of surrender. It was a test of Abraham’s total surrender of his heart. “Things” are not meant to take the rightful place of God. Possessions should not possess us. Tozer points out that in the beginning, God gave Adam things to rule over. “Before the Lord God made man upon the earth, He first prepared for him by creating a world of useful and pleasant things for his sustenance and delight.” These things were for use, not possession. Sin introduced us to possession. Possession forced God out of the center of our hearts; His rightful place; the place He designed in us for Him alone.

The central message of this chapter was this: “The blessed ones who possess the Kingdom are they who have repudiated every external thing and have rooted from their hearts all sense of possessing.” In the words of Jesus, Matthew 5:3 states: “Blessed are the poor in spirit; for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” According to Tozer, “it’s an inward state of paralleling the outward circumstances of the common beggar in the streets of Jerusalem – this is the word ‘poor’ used by Jesus.” Abraham found this ‘poor spirit’ through the sacrifice of Isaac. Although he was rich outwardly, he possessed nothing internally.

At some point in our walk with Jesus, we will be asked to remove that thing that possesses us. We all face this testing, like Abraham, and this maybe the year we might have to lay something on the altar which is dear to us. Something will need to be sacrificed. Tozer wrote there won’t be a dozen choices, but just one and an alternative. “Our whole future will be conditioned by the choice we make.”

Christine Caine spoke at the Passion Conference this year. In her talk, she stated the highest honor is to be the servant of the Lord. In the Bible, there are only four who are given this “title” Abraham, Moses, Joshua and David. These men knew what it meant to lay everything down for the sake of the Kingdom. Each man had a time of testing. They were given assignments, but they first they had a season of preparation. Abraham left everything behind to go to the land God promised as an inheritance; not to mention the wait for the promised child. Moses tended flocks in the desert for forty years. Joshua was Moses’ aide for forty years before he took the possession God promised Abraham. David had many years of being a warrior before he became a king. These men possessed nothing, but the promises they were given.

Jesus is our greatest treasure. This is the one thing that we are to possess for eternity. John Piper said to the crowd at the Passion Conference, “we need to live and die showing Jesus is more precious than life.” We have a wonderful inheritance stored for us in heaven. Whatever we give up in this life is nothing in comparison to what we will receive one day. Abraham left it all on the altar. We can do the same and be called one of God’s faithful servants. What an honor!

“All these I have kept,” the young man said. “What do I still lack?” Jesus answered, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give them to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” When the young man heard this, he went away sad, because he had great wealth. Matthew 19:20-22

It’s Official

I love watching people. When I go to the gym, while I am resting between sets, I watch the people around me. One day, I was stretching out in a room that was surrounded by mirrors. A guy came walking in. I didn’t notice anything at first, but then I turned my attention to him. He was flexing his muscles. Looking in the front, the side and the back mirrors to see how he was looking (I’m assuming). He did this for a couple of minutes then walked out.

I also noticed there are quite a few people who are very angry. I came in the other day with a fellow who was a bit irate at the gym for charging his credit card after he quit coming. He was beyond livid. I noticed a guy not too long ago throwing a mini tantrum when the machine he wanted was already occupied. Were these really issues to do with the circumstances at the gym or was it about something else totally? As I was observing people’s behavior, I realized this is all pretty normal stuff for the average population.

I came in one Sunday after church. I hadn’t exercised all week due to lack of facilities on my vacation (and lack of desire!), and I wanted to get back into it. It was relatively early since my church has an early service. There were more people there than I would have thought, but less than the average number when I usually go. The crowd was definitely more men than women. Actually, I probably could have counted the women on one hand. As I was looking around, I realized we all worship something.

I also realized I am no longer normal. Its official, I’m weird. I don’t worship the same things others do, I worship only God. My heart experiences joy and hopefully my face (and body language) reflects it. My attitude has changed, and I don’t get upset like I used to. I am much more patient than I have ever been. I am not in a rush to get anywhere. I may still get discouraged and have a bad day with some loneliness or grief or something. But my life is no longer normal compared to the average population. I used to want to be like everyone else, but now I want to stand out and be different. It’s weird how things have changed. It’s official. I am different but in the “weird for Jesus” way. And I’m okay with that!

When they arrived, Samuel took one look at Eliab and thought, “Surely this is the Lord’s anointed!” But the Lord said to Samuel, “Don’t judge by his appearance or height, for I have rejected him. The Lord doesn’t see things the way you see them. People judge by outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” I Samuel 16:6-7 (NLT)

Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is —his good, pleasing and perfect will. Romans 12:1-2 (NIV)

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