Archive for the ‘Sacrifice’ Category


As I look ahead to 2013, I was reminded of something I wrote in March of 2011:

Will You Go Outside the Camp?

My question is, if Christ delays his return another two hundred years – a mere fraction of a day in his reckoning – which of you will have suffered and died so that the triumphs of grace will be told about one or two of those 3,500 peoples who are in the same condition today that the Karen and Chin and Kachins and Burmese were in 1813? Who will labor so long and so hard and so perseveringly that in two hundred years there will be two million Christians in many of the 10/40-window peoples who can scarcely recall their Muslim or Hindu or Buddhist roots?

May God use his powerful word and the life of Adoniram Judson to stir many of you to give your lives to this great cause!

We must keep advancing to Him, to His altar which is outside the camp!

self interest christianity The entire essay is here

Too Much Self-Interest

It was that essay which worked in me a desire for real growth among the Christians I Pastor and minister to. I see too much self-interest among the Christians of America. Ministries are self-focused. Growth is selective and selfish. Even our attempts to “sacrifice for the sake of Christ” are mis-guided trips of self-piety. We have so much, that our ide of sacrifice means an entirely different thing than to Christian refugees in Africa (for example). Sacrifice to many in the world is not “sacrifice,” it is the way they live. Running water? Nice carpet in the house? No, they are used to getting their water from a well or a pump station. Their floors are compacted dirt. They aren’t sacrificing, they are living! This brings me to consider what true ministry should involve, what my ministry should be in 2013.

Paul’s Philosophy of Ministry

what-are-you-willing-to-sacrificeAs I look toward 2013, I am reminded of Paul’s philosophy of ministry. In 2 Corinthians 12:15 he states: “I will most gladly spend and be spent for your souls.” Paul never considered how His message was going to affect the big givers, the successful businessmen, or the rich widows. He never worried about tweaking his ministry to achieve maximum community impact. His ministry was all about wasting himself for the souls of others. Paul gave and gave and gave for the souls of those he ministered to. He did not consider his income requirements, mileage reimbursements or housing allowance. He did not worry about funding for his missionary trips. He was not on the look out for a larger church where he could have a more visible ministry.

The Budget of the Empty Pocket

spend and be spentPaul was always on the lookout for ways in which he could use his talents and resources to save and build up the souls of others. Cost was no object. Inconvenience, sickness, lack of sleep, imprisonment, whatever the cost, Paul could not wait to pay it! The only budget that Paul knew was that of his empty pocket. If he still had money in it, he had not done enough. When it came to Paul’s philosophy of ministry, it was nothing about his interests or comfort. He held on to nothing and held nothing back. He gave everything up! He continued to explain in 2 Corinthians 12:19: “it is in the sight of God that we have been speaking (ministering) in Christ, and all for your up-building, beloved.”

Ministry is Not a “Sacrifice…”

adoniram-judson-missionary-1-GoodSalt-prcas4999Men like Adoniram Judson and the Apostle Paul did not consider their ministry a “sacrifice.” They did not go on missionary trips so they could learn to appreciate what they had, or experience what the world was like. Their ministry simply reflected their love for Jesus and love for the souls of men.

If you think Ministry is a “Sacrifice”, you haven’t been ministering

The world looks at their lives and says “what a waste!” They looked back on their lives and thought, “I wish I could have given more!” When you get to the place where your life no longer matters, then and only then are you really able to minister to others in the Power of Jesus Christ. If you are still thinking “O what a sacrifice this is,” you haven’t really been ministering to others. You have simply been pleasing yourself. There is no sacrifice to the one who has experienced the crucifixion of the Cross. One who has been crucified for Christ is dead. This life and it’s comforts no longer matter. There is only the desire to reach the souls of people who are perishing or struggling with life. One who has been crucified keeps his eyes on the Savior, for nothing else matters. What worse can happen? Jesus spent everything, so why should we hold on to anything?

Hannah Discovered True Worship

Hannah-prayerHannah had prayed and stressed about having her own baby for years. God finally gave her a baby boy, Samuel. She could now hold in her arms her own baby boy. He was the realization of every longing of her heart and soul. How she held him tight to her breast. As he toddled about, what joy she felt as he grew and explored. When he first said “mommy!” her heart melted! Yet Hannah did the inconceivable. She gave her little boy Samuel to the Lord. No longer would she tuck him in at night. No longer would he call for her when a storm woke him up. She took him to the Temple to be raised by the High Priest. He was only 3 or 4, freshly weaned. I can see the tears pouring down her face as she walked away, hearing the cries of her baby boy, seeing his outstretched arms as he cried out “Mommy, Mommy!”

hannah-6hanna mother childWas this a sacrifice for Hannah? No! This was her simple worship to God. For 1 Samuel 1:28 says “and they worshiped the Lord there.” Instead of sorrowing over her brave “sacrifice,” Hannah worshiped God! Only when our dearest possession can be freely given to God without thought of the sacrifice or loss will we know True WORSHIP! Worship always follows in the shadow of the Cross! At the Cross God is All and in all! When we are crucified at the Cross of Christ, all that we hold dear falls from our hands, and our focus turns to God! That is true Worship! True Worship leads us to spend and be spent on behalf of the souls of others!

There is no more thought of sacrifice, for we have already given everything up to God at the Cross!spend and be spent selfless service

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Moses with one wave of his staff was able to see the seas part and the seabed dry up. He was able to see the waters stand tall as if held back by a thick wall of glass. When the enemy army was crossing after them, with another wave of the rod of God, he saw the waters fall upon them and drown every soldier.

But when it came to leading this complaining horde of people across a desert land, Moses was at his wits end.

Moses and the Tent of Meeting

In Exodus 33, we find that Moses would take a tent and pitch it outside the camp, far away from the people, and there Moses sought the Lord. He called it the ʾōhel môʿēd (tent of meeting). This was the forerunner of the tabernacle. Here Moses would speak face to face with God (Ex 33:11)

When Moses would enter the tent, the pillar of cloud would descend and stand at the entrance of the tent, and God would speak to Moses.

When Moses went out to the tent, all the people would get up, go to their tent door, and watch. And when the cloud would descend, the people would worship, each at their tent door.

Later on, when they constructed the Tabernacle according to God’s commands, it was brought within the camp, and the people worshipped there. I can’t help but wonder if Moses longed to return to that tent outside the camp…

Letter to Concerned Jewish Christians

It is a reference to the Tabernacle that the writer of Hebrews is using to address the concerns of the Jewish Christians in Hebrews 13. Here the writer makes the foundational statement which should guide these Christians, and I believe it is the foundational statement for our church.

Foundational Statement of Hebrews

We have an altar from which those who serve the tent have no right to eat. For the bodies of those animals whose blood is brought into the holy places by the high priest as a sacrifice for sin are burned outside the camp. So Jesus also suffered outside the gate in order to sanctify the people through his own blood. Therefore, let us go to him outside the camp and bear the reproach he endured. For here we have no lasting city, but we seek the city that is to come. Through him then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name. Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God. Hebrews 13:10-16

The Problem Facing these Jewish Christians

There were pressures from the world-pressures as to how they should worship, how they should not worship. It was so much easier to follow a hybrid Christ-one who was Jewish and Christian. One who was worldly and Godly.

On the other hand, the world was becoming more antagonistic toward Christians, especially those that really followed Him. So the struggles they were facing are the same ones we face in our lives.

Two Problems

1.  Driven by formalism-How they worshiped was more important than Who they worshiped.

2.  Paralyzed by Fear – Faced expulsion or persecution-wanted to have the glory of God and stay in the safety of the camp. Their desire for comfort overwhelmed the command to risk it all.

Remember:

We have an altar from which those who serve the tent have no right to eat.

If we insist on serving from a place of comfort, or a place of ‘tradition’, or a place of safety…we can not eat from the altar of Jesus Christ. We will lose out on the sweet abiding fellowship that is in Him alone.

Choice Number 1

  • Will we Die in our Religion or Die in our Devotion?

The writer addressed the plight of the Hebrews by calling their attention to those who wandered in the wilderness:

Num 13:31-14:4; Num 14:20-23, 32-34

Here the Jewish wanderers had the chance to believe in God’s Word, to embrace His power that they had witnessed first hand. However, they refused to see Him Who is able, and focused on their own weakness and inability. Instead of advancing into Canaan and trusting God to overcome the giants, they wept in bitterness and retreated from the mission God had given them.

They had two options:

  1. Retreat from the Mission

  2. Risk everything for the Mission

To risk everything requires the faith to see Him who is invisible. To risk everything requires a total disregard for personal comfort, personal safety, but an overwhelming CONFIDENCE in the power of God to allow you to finish the mission!

We have an altar from which those who serve the tent have no right to eat.

Choice Number 2

  • Will We Embrace our Comfort or Will we Embrace His Cross?

If you want to eat from this altar. If you want to experience God face to face. If you want to know the presence and power of God, you must go outside the camp. You must be willing to be disgraced just like Jesus. You must be willing to bear His disgrace.

Let us Go to Jesus …Outside the Camp

Dead and Dirty things

And the bull for the sin offering and the goat for the sin offering, whose blood was brought in to make atonement in the Holy Place, shall be carried outside the camp. Their skin and their flesh and their dung shall be burned up with fire. And he who burns them shall wash his clothes and bathe his body in water, and afterward he may come into the camp. Leviticus 16:27-28

Diseased and Despised

“The leprous person who has the disease shall wear torn clothes and let the hair of his head hang loose, and he shall cover his upper lip and cry out, ‘Unclean, unclean.’ He shall remain unclean as long as he has the disease. He is unclean. He shall live alone. His dwelling shall be outside the camp. Leviticus 13:45-46

Blasphemers

Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, “Bring out of the camp the one who cursed, and let all who heard him lay their hands on his head, and let all the congregation stone him. And speak to the people of Israel, saying, Whoever curses his God shall bear his sin. Whoever blasphemes the name of the Lord shall surely be put to death. All the congregation shall stone him. The sojourner as well as the native, when he blasphemes the Name, shall be put to death. Leviticus 24:13-16

Dangerous

Murderers, blasphemers, adulterers were all kept and stoned outside the camp.

Do You Really Want to Follow Jesus?

Then you must go to Him OUTSIDE the camp!

  • Mission without suffering is like Christianity without a cross
  • Suffering is not a consequence of our mission: it is the central strategy for achieving our mission.

Moses met face to face with God outside the camp!

If you desire to fellowship face to face with Jesus Christ, you must meet with Him outside the camp, and bear His reproach.

Choice Number 3

  • Will We Live for Pleasure in this World or for Paradise in the World to Come?

The Truth of the Real Jesus

  • Jesus calls the church to live according to a radically different definition of success than the rest of the world.
  • Jesus calls me to live according to a radically different definition of success than the rest of the world

If we do not advance toward Jesus in our Christian walk, we:

  • Give way to formalism
  • Give way to paralyzing fear
  • Give way to a retreating spirit

We have an altar from which those who serve the tent have no right to eat.

Do we desire to stay inside the comfort of our camp? Do not count on feasting on Christ.

Believer’s can be forgiven but cursed to wander in the wilderness apart from the power and presence of God.

God does not need our church to gain glory for Himself. He will glorify His Name regardless of whether we go to the altar outside the camp.

Following Christ does not mean coming to the cross and then neatly carrying Jesus back into our safe and comfortable American lives. It means risking everything and going outside the camp to bear His reproach on His altar of total sacrifice. (A thank you to David Platt for the core points of this message)

Notation about my Faith Journey

In 2004-2005 I became burdened about the nation of Myanmar. I even went there in January 2006, and now serve as Treasurer on the Executive Board of the Friends of Burma, Inc. This all came about as I began to understand the true meaning of discipleship.

While going through a sermon series on Mark, I was struck anew with Mark 8.

And calling the crowd to him with his disciples, he said to them, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it. Mark 8:34-35

The greatest example of these verses was the life of Adoniram Judson. I was fascinated with the truth that what he risked with his life and family was the reason for the Christians in that forsaken country today!

His life led me to became so interested and concerned about Burma (Myanmar).

Adoniram Judson is why I am going outside the camp. Adoniram Judson went outside the camp and bore the reproach of Jesus Christ.

Adoniram Judson

Once when a Buddhist teacher said that he could not believe that Christ suffered the death of the cross because no king allows his son such indignity, “Judson responded, ‘Therefore you are not a disciple of Christ. A true disciple inquires not whether a fact is agreeable to his own reason, but whether it is in the book. His pride has yielded to the divine testimony. Teacher, your pride is still unbroken. Break down your pride, and yield to the word of God.’ (Anderson, To the Golden Shore, 240.)

Judson’s conversion to Christ was due in large measure to the same deist friend who led him away from Christ. After graduation, Judson left home to become a wanderlust. One night in a country inn, his room was adjacent to the room of a dying man. The moaning and groaning of that man through the long night permitted Judson no sleep. His thoughts troubled him. All night questions assailed his soul: “Was the dying man prepared to die?” “Where would he spend eternity?” “Was he a Christian, calm and strong in the hope of life in Heaven?” “Or, was he a sinner shuddering in the dark brink of the lower region?” Judson constantly chided himself for even entertaining such thoughts contrary to his philosophy of life beyond the grave, and thought how his brilliant college friend would rebuke him if he learned of these childish worries.

But the next morning, when Judson inquired of the proprietor as to the identity of the dead man, he was shocked by the most staggering statement he had ever heard: “He was a brilliant young person from Providence College. Ernest was his name.”

Ernest was the unbeliever who had destroyed Judson’s faith. “Now he was dead — and was lost! Was lost! Was lost! Lost! Lost!” Those words raced through his brain, rang in his ears, roared in his soul — “Was lost! Lost! Lost! There and then Judson realized he was lost, too! He ended his traveling, returned home, entered Andover Theological Seminary and soon “sought God for the pardon of his soul,” was saved and dedicated his life to the Master’s service!

In Burma

But opposition came, also. Finally, Judson was imprisoned as a British spy — an imprisonment of twenty-one months. Judson was condemned to die, but in answer to prayers to God and the incessant pleadings of his wife to officials (one of the most emotional-packed, soul-stirring stories in evangelism), Judson’s life was spared and finally British intervention freed him from imprisonment.

Following the missionaries in their holy adventure, we behold scenes too horrible for words. On one occasion Judson, pitifully weak and emaciated, was driven in chains across the burning tropical sands, until, his back lacerated beneath the lash and his feet covered with blisters, he fell to the ground and prayed that the mercy of God might grant him a speedy death. For almost two years he was incarcerated in a prison too vile to house animals. He was bound with three pairs of chains and his feet were fastened in stocks which at times were elevated, so that only his shoulders touched the ground. The room, into which he and many other prisoners were crowded, was without a window and felt like a fiery furnace under the merciless glare of the tropical sun. The stench of the place was terrible, vermin crawled everywhere and the jailer, Mr. Spotted Face, was a brute in human form. And, as Judson saw other prisoners dragged out to execution, he lived in terrifying suspense and was able to say with Paul, “I die daily.”

Surely, he would have fallen and perished under the weight of his cross, except for the tender, persistent, beautiful ministrations of Ann. As often as possible, she bribed the jailer and then, under cover of darkness, crept to the door of Judson’s den, bringing food and whispering words of hope and consolation. Finally, for three long weeks she did not appear; but, upon her return, she bore in her arms a newborn baby to explain her absence. An epidemic of smallpox was raging unchecked through the city and little Maria was smitten with the dread disease. Due to the double strain of concern for her imprisoned husband and the suffering baby, Ann found herself unable to nurse the little one. Tormented by its pitiful cries, Ann took her baby up and down the streets of the city, pleading for mercy and for milk: “You women who have babies, have mercy on my baby and nurse her!”

Near the prison gate was a caged lion, whose fearful bellowings had told all that he was being starved against the day when he would be turned loose upon some of the prisoners. But the lion died of hunger before the plan was executed. Thereupon, plucky Mrs. Judson cleaned out the cage and secured permission for her husband to stay there for a few weeks, since he was critically ill with a fever.

One of the most pathetic pages in the history of Christian missions is that which describes the scene when Judson was finally released and returned to the mission house seeking Ann, who again had failed to visit him for some weeks. As he ambled down the street as fast as his maimed ankles would permit, the tormenting question kept repeating itself, “Is Ann still alive?” Upon reaching the house, the first object to attract his attention was a fat, half-naked Burman woman squatting in the ashes beside a pan of coals and holding on her knees an emaciated baby, so begrimed with dirt that it did not occur to him that it could be his own. Across the foot of the bed, as though she had fallen there, lay a human object that, at the first glance, was no more recognizable than his child. The face was of a ghastly paleness and the body shrunken to the last degree of emaciation. The glossy black curls had all been shorn from the finely-shaped head. There lay the faithful and devoted wife who had followed him so unwearily from prison to prison, ever alleviating his distresses and consoling him in his trials. Presently Ann felt warm tears falling upon her face and, rousing from her stupor, saw Judson by her side.

And there were other sorrows. Before he had been in Burma fourteen years he buried Ann and all of his children. But “the love that never fails” sustained him. “If I had not felt certain,” he says, “that every additional trial was ordered by infinite love and mercy, I could not have survived my accumulated sufferings.” Judson joined with Paul in declaring: “The love of Christ constraineth me … Therefore I will glory in reproaches, in persecution and in distresses for Christ’s sake.”[2]

The work progressed and gospel power began to open blind eyes, break idolatry-shackled hearts and transform the newly-begotten converts into triumphant Christians. On April 12, 1850, at the age of 62, Judson died. Except for a few months (when he returned to America after thirty-four years from his first sailing), Judson had spent thirty-eight years in Burma. Although he had waited six years for his first convert, sometime after his death a government survey recorded 210,000 Christians, one out of every fifty-eight Burmans! It was a partial fulfillment and a monument to the spirit and ministry of the man, who at Ava, the capital city, gazed at the temple of Buddha and challenged, “A voice mightier than mine, a still small voice, will ere long sweep away every vestige of thy dominion. The churches of Jesus Christ will soon supplant these idolatrous monuments and the chanting devotees of Buddha will die away before the Christian’s hymns of praise.”[1]

Will You Go Outside the Camp?

My question is, if Christ delays his return another two hundred years – a mere fraction of a day in his reckoning – which of you will have suffered and died so that the triumphs of grace will be told about one or two of those 3,500 peoples who are in the same condition today that the Karen and Chin and Kachins and Burmese were in 1813? Who will labor so long and so hard and so perseveringly that in two hundred years there will be two million Christians in many of the 10/40-window peoples who can scarcely recall their Muslim or Hindu or Buddhist roots?

May God use his powerful word and the life of Adoniram Judson to stir many of you to give your lives to this great cause!

We must keep advancing to Him, to His altar which is outside the camp!


As Capt John Rasmussen reports, “I was in a hurry to get to his physical training exercise. It was raining “cats and dogs”. Traffic was backed up at Fort Campbell, Ky., and was moving way too slowly. I was probably going to be late and I was growing more and more impatient. The pace slowed almost to a standstill as I passed Memorial Grove, the site built to honor the soldiers who died in the Gander airplane crash, the worst redeployment accident in the history of the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault). Because it was close to Memorial Day, a small American flag had been placed in the ground next to each soldier’s memorial plaque. My concern at the time, however, was getting past the bottleneck, getting out of the rain and getting to PT on time.All of a sudden, infuriatingly, just as the traffic was getting started again, the car in front of me stopped.

A soldier, a private of course, jumped out in the pouring rain and ran over toward the grove. I couldn’t believe it! This knucklehead was holding up everyone for who knows what kind of prank. Horns were honking. I waited to see the butt-chewing that I wanted him to get for making me late. He was getting soaked to the skin. His BDUs were plastered to his frame. I watched-as he ran up to one of the memorial plaques, picked up the small American flag that had fallen to the ground in the wind and the rain, and set it up right again.

Then, slowly, he came to attention, saluted, ran back to his car, and drove off.

I’ll never forget that incident. That soldier, whose name I will never know, taught me more about duty, honor, and respect than a hundred books or a thousand lectures. That simple salute — that single act of honoring his fallen brother and his flag — encapsulated all the Army values in one gesture for me. It said, “I will never forget. I will keep the faith. I will finish the mission. I am an American soldier.”

As I read this stirring reminder of what Memorial Day is all about, I thought, “How many Christians are willing to bow before the Cross of Christ and say, I will never forget. I will keep the faith. I will finish the mission. I am a Soldier for Christ!”

Oliver Wendall Holmes, Jr once said:

So to the indifferent inquirer who asks why Memorial Day is still kept up we may answer, it celebrates and solemnly reaffirms from year to year a national act of enthusiasm and faith. It embodies in the most impressive form our belief that to act with enthusiasm and faith is the condition of acting greatly. To fight out a war, you must believe something and want something with all your might. So must you do to carry anything else to an end worth reaching.” [Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. at an address delivered for Memorial Day, May 30, 1884, at Keene, NH.]

Tomorrow we celebrate Memorial Day. Many will visit the grave site of loved ones who have passed on into eternity. Many of us will celebrate outdoors with picnics and barbeques. One day a year is all we set aside to remember our fallen soldiers. One day a year. But God wants us to remember Him 365 days a year.

Throughout the Bible there are references to Memorials and things we should remember about Him!

  • God placed the rainbow in the sky so that mankind would remember His covenant with us, not to destroy the world again by flood.
  • The Hebrews were to celebrate a special day, the Passover, as a memorial to God and His faithfulness in delivering them from the Egyptians.
  • The ephod worn by the High Priest has a stone on each shoulder that served as a memorial of the children of Israel. Exodus 28:12 says: “Aaron shall bear their names before the Lord upon his two shoulders for a memorial.”
  • The Priests were to take grain offering, oil, and frankincense and burn it on the altar as a memorial unto God. Lev 2:2 says it was a sweet savor to the Lord.
  • The Priests took a portion of the meat offerings and burnt them as a memorial unto the Lord. Lev 2:9
  • The Festival of Trumpets was a solemn day of rest, of blowing of Trumpets as a Day of Memorial to the Lord.
  • A Stone memorial was erected after the crossing of the River Jordan by Joshua and the Israelites, so that they would remember how God brought them across.
  • Even their clothes were to be a reminder:

The Lord said to Moses, “Speak to the people of Israel, and tell them to make tassels on the corners of their garments throughout their generations, and to put a cord of blue on the tassel of each corner. And it shall be a tassel for you to look at and remember all the commandments of the Lord, to do them, not to follow after your own heart and your own eyes, which you are inclined to whore after. So you shall remember and do all my commandments, and be holy to your God. I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt to be your God: I am the Lord your God.” Numbers 15:37-41

  • The prayers and alms of Cornelius were even a memorial unto God, and led to the salvation of Cornelius and his household. Acts 10:4

Our Lives are to be a Daily Memorial to Jesus Christ

God wants everyday of our lives to be a memorial unto Jesus Christ!

I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. Romans 12:1

The very act of presenting ourselves to God is a memorial to Jesus Christ. We will look closely at the next step in deliverance from sin (PRESENTING) next week.

  • As Americans, we must never forget those who have given their lives for the sake of our freedom.
  • As Christians we must never forget the One who gave His life for the sake of our freedom from Sin and Satan.

Peter gives us some excellent words on Remembering our Savior:

2 Peter 1:12-21 Peter wants to Stir us Up!

Therefore, I will always be ready to remind you of these things, even though you already know them, and have been established in the truth which is present with you. I consider it right, as long as I am in this earthly dwelling, to stir you up by way of reminder, knowing that the laying aside of my earthly dwelling is imminent, as also our Lord Jesus Christ has made clear to me. And I will also be diligent that at any time after my departure you will be able to call these things to mind. For we did not follow cleverly devised tales when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of His majesty. For when He received honor and glory from God the Father, such an utterance as this was made to Him by the Majestic Glory, “This is My beloved Son with whom I am well-pleased”— and we ourselves heard this utterance made from heaven when we were with Him on the holy mountain. So we have the prophetic word made more sure, to which you do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star arises in your hearts. But know this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation, for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God. 2 Peter 1:12-21

Peter’s life is nearly at an end, and he wants us to remember some things, even though we are established Christians, and even though we think we already know them.

Verses 12-21 flow from what Peter wrote in verses 1-11.

POWER & PROVISION: In verses 1-4 Peter says that God’ power always comes with provisions for living and for godliness in our own life. He enables us to escape the corruption that is in the world through lust by empowering us to partake of His divine nature.

  • God has provided everything we need to live Godly Lives
  • We have been learning about this in Romans 6

PURSUIT OF HOLINESS: In verses 5-7, Peter calls for Christians to pursue the path of discipleship. We are to experience these divine provisions by diligently and energetically pursuing holiness (faith, moral excellence, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness, brotherly kindness, and love).

  • God’s Provisions Must be PURSUED if they are to Profit us.

THE PROFIT OF OUR PURSUIT: In verses 8-11, Peter speaks of the profit of our pursuit of holiness, as provided for by God (verses 1-4) and as pursued by the Christian (verses 5-7).

  • When we pursue these things, we shall always stand, we shall always abound, we shall always be assured of our salvation.

Starting with vs. 12, Peter is intent on reminding us.

  • We already know these truths. But we must be reminded to pursue God’s goals for us.
  • Peter is committed to “always remind them” (verse 12). It is clear from his words that he intends his reminding to persevere. He will continue to remind them as long as he has breath. He will do so with his dying breath.
  • Memories stir us up, and so Peter is insistent upon reminding us.
  • His letter is a Memorial to Remind us!
  • Peter reminds us of the TRUTH! TRUTH direct from God (vs. 21)
  • God’s Word is TRUTH. It is God-breathed
  • We do not follow cunningly devised fables.
    • Peter was an eyewitness of the majesty and power of Jesus Christ
    • Peter heard the voice of God giving glory and honor to His son: “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.”

This truth is encased in the Word of God

  • No private interpretation
  • Illumined by the Holy Spirit
  • Provides light for our walk.

More than anything, we are to be aware that Jesus Christ is not a cunningly devised fable, not a beautiful love story, but truth that is worth building our lives around. Truth that is worth pursuing as though it were a billion dollars.

We are to build our lives around not someone who is dead, but a Savior who is alive, who is with us every day of our lives, who gives us the gift of grace, the gift of the Holy Spirit, the very reason for living.

For the Christian, every day is to be a memorial day, remembering not just a crucified Savior, but our Crucified, Resurrected and Living Savior!

Our Orders from Commander Peter are to remember the Truth of Jesus Christ, truth that is essential for our life, truth that is worth dying for. We are posted on this earth to pursue our living Savior, Jesus Christ. He is to be our life!

Walking the Mat before the Tomb of the Unknowns

There is a meticulous ritual the guard follows when watching over the tomb of the unknown soldiers.

The soldier walks 21 steps across the Tomb. This alludes to the 21-gun salute, which is the highest honor given to any military or foreign dignitary in America. His weapon is always on the shoulder opposite the Tomb (i.e., on the side of the gallery watching the ritual).

On the 21st step, the soldier turns and faces the Tomb for 21 seconds.

The soldier then turns to face the other way across the Tomb and changes his weapon to the outside shoulder. After 21 seconds, the first step is repeated.

This is repeated until the soldier is relieved of duty at the Changing of the Guard.

The mat is usually replaced twice per year: before Memorial Day and before Veterans Day. This is required due to the wear on the rubber mat by the special shoes worn by Tomb Guards. The guards have metal plates built into the soles and inner parts of their shoes to allow for a more rugged sole and to give the signature click of the heel during maneuvers. The guards are issued sunglasses, which are formed to their faces, due to the bright reflection from the marble surrounding the Tomb and the Memorial Amphitheater.

The guard is changed every 1/2 hour during the summer months.

The guard change is very symbolic, but also conducted in accordance with Army regulations. The relief commander or assistant relief commander, along with the oncoming guard, are both required for a guard change to take place. The guard being relieved will say to the oncoming guard, “Post and orders remain as directed.” The oncoming guard’s response is always, “Orders acknowledged.”

The Tomb of the Unknowns has been guarded continuously, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, since July 2, 1937. Inclement weather does not cause the watch to cease.

In 2 Peter, Peter realizes it is time for the “changing of the guard.” He wants us to remember our Post, and remember our Orders! He wants to hear us declare: “Orders Acknowledged!”

There are two ways we follow those orders and keep to our post, two ways we Memorialize Jesus Christ:

1.  Baptism

Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. Romans 6:3-4

Baptism acknowledges to Jesus that you value what He did for you so much, that you are giving Him your life. You are telling the world that you died with Him, that your sins are washed away, and when you stand up from the baptismal waters, you are declaring to the world that you no longer walk in your old life, but you have a new life in Jesus Christ. You are declaring that you are now a walking, breathing Memorial to the death burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

2.  Communion

One of the most important ways we remember our Savior is through the Lord’s Supper, or what we call communion. The night before Jesus was carried away to be crucified, he shared the Paschal meal with His disciples. At that meal Jesus revealed that He was going to become the paschal lamb, that He was going to die for the sins of mankind. Paul wrote of that meal in 1 Cor 11:232-26:

For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, “This is my body which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way also he took the cup, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.” For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes. 1 Corinthians 11:23-26

When we partake of the elements, the bread and the wine, we are affirming before God our union and communion with Jesus Christ. We are honoring Him. When we eat the bread, we are acknowledging His broken body. We are acknowledging that by His stripes we are healed. We are acknowledging that Jesus is the bread of life; He is the means of our life!

When we partake of the wine, we are taking into our body the precious blood of Jesus Christ. We are acknowledging our new life based upon our faith in His blood, the blood of our new covenant with Holy God! We are proclaiming to God that we are totally dependent upon the blood of Jesus for our life and our salvation. We are declaring that through the body and the blood we are one with Jesus Christ.

We Honor the Memory of Fallen American Soldiers with our Respect and Appreciation

Petty Officer Second Class Mike Monsoor was a US Navy SEAL assigned to Task Unit Bravo in Ar Ramadi in Iraq.  He was killed in the line of duty while serving in Iraq on September 29, 2006.  He died after throwing himself on a grenade to prevent it from killing others whom he had been assigned to protect on a rooftop. He had already earned a Silver Star for Bravery and a Bronze Star for separate acts of valor.

His funeral took place in October 12, 2006 at Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery in San Diego.

Navy SEALs lined the procession and slapped the trident devices from their uniforms to affix them onto the casket.  The trident is a U.S. Navy special warfare badge worn by SEALs.  It represents the three aspects of SEAL special operations, sea, air, and land.

On April 8, 2008, Monsoor was awarded the Medal of Honor posthumously officiated by President George W. Bush in a ceremony at the White House.

PETTY OFFICER MONSOOR TOOK POSITION WITH HIS MACHINE GUN BETWEEN TWO TEAMMATES ON AN OUTCROPPING OF THE ROOF. WHILE THE SEALS VIGILANTLY WATCHED FOR ENEMY ACTIVITY, AN INSURGENT THREW A HAND GRENADE FROM AN UNSEEN LOCATION, WHICH BOUNCED OFF PETTY OFFICER MONSOOR’S CHEST AND LANDED IN FRONT OF HIM. ALTHOUGH ONLY HE COULD HAVE ESCAPED THE BLAST, PETTY OFFICER MONSOOR CHOSE INSTEAD TO PROTECT HIS TEAMMATES. INSTANTLY AND WITHOUT REGARD FOR HIS OWN SAFETY, HE THREW HIMSELF ONTO THE GRENADE TO ABSORB THE FORCE OF THE EXPLOSION WITH HIS BODY, SAVING THE LIVES OF HIS TWO TEAMMATES.

We Honor the Memory of Jesus Christ with our Life!

Today, honor Americans who have given their lives so that we might worship here in freedom.

Today, we honor one man who gave His life so that we might be freed from sin and from judgment. This one man, our Lord Jesus Christ, received no medal of commendation, had no funeral service attended by thousands. In fact, he was scorned, mocked, and treated as a diseased dog. All his followers ran and hid while He died the most horrible death.

Yet today, our Savior does not lie in a grave, He reigns at the right hand of Father God!

Peter wants us to stir us up by reminding us of how much we owe Jesus Christ. We need to be reminded of what He has done for each one of us. Those memories serve to stir our heart up to action, the action of once again giving Him our lives, once again of confirming to Him that He is Lord of our life!

He asks each one of us to do one thing, one thing that He was not afraid to do. He asks us to give Him our life! He asks us to be a living memorial to His Love for us.

Are you living your Christian life with enthusiasm and Faith, as Oliver Wendall Holmes said?

To act with enthusiasm and faith is the condition of acting greatly. To fight out a war, you must believe something and want something with all your might. So must you do to carry anything else to an end worth reaching.

Do you love Jesus with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength? Is eternity with God and end worth reaching? Then search your heart this morning! Have you made Him Lord of every aspect of your life? Are you willing to live as a sacrifice as a memorial of what He has done for your life?

To give yourself to Jesus with enthusiasm and faith is to live greatly!

Peter, writing before his death wanted us to remember dearly our need for Jesus Christ. As he changed guard he was saying:

“Post and orders remain as directed”

Will you bow and respond:

“Orders Acknowledged!


wholly-consumed-burnt-offering“Bind the sacrifice with cords, even unto the horns of the altar”. Psalms 118:27

Animals were bound to the four horns of the altar to be wholly consumed unto God. Regardless of the animal, bullock, sheep, dove, it was a WHOLE burnt offering. God accepted nothing less.

The altar does not signify DOING for God. The altar represents BEING for God. He desires not our work, but ourselves.

romans12_1We, however, are not like the Old Testament sacrifices, consumed in one final act. We are to be “living sacrifices” as Paul described in Romans 12:1. The altar is the offering of our lives to God to be ever consumed, yet ever living, ever living, yet ever consumed.

Interesting thought. God desires our sacrifice to Him. He wants to be God of our very being, our very life. Once our earthly life is over, our heavenly “rest” begins. There will be no more being consumed. There will only be feasting with our Lord.

hell-is-a-continual-burnt-offeringThere is another god who desires no sacrifice. His way is easy, natural, even fun. Once your earthly life is over, you will discover the God who reigns, who was calling your heart to follow Him, yet you refused. But God must have His offering. You refused the perfect sacrifice that He provided, and so now you will be the sacrifice. Yet you will not be burnt all at once. You will be consumed, yet ever living, living, yet ever being consumed. Hell will be a horrible place of continual suffering. Why? Because you refused to honor God’s Son with your life.

Prayer: Holy God, take my life and all that I have as a continual offering to you. May nothing in my life keep your Life from living through me.

From pathwayofblessing