Thursday, February 27, 2014

Is Your All On Which Altar?

"Is Your All On the Altar?"  is one of my favorite hymns is It is a constant reminder to do a heart-check: What am I holding back? Yet the other day, God brought a new question to light: "Upon which altar are you laying your all?"

King Ahaz (2 Kings 16:10-16) saw the Assyrian's pagan altar and immediately came home and patterned one identical to it. With this new altar, King Ahaz replaced the old altar that had been in the forefront of God's house -- the "old" altar being God's altar. He never stopped sacrificing, he just replaced to whom he was sacrificing.

We might live a life of continual sacrifice, but it does not mean that we are sacrificing on God's altar. We may have built an "altar" of the world, our dreams, or our ambitions. We may even have "good material" for our altar (family, friends, projects, gifts, talents) but instead of sacrificing this "good material" to let God use as He please, we have instead made it the altar upon which we sacrifice.

Romans 12:1 exhorts, " 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." To be a "living sacrifice" is a process of killing "self" -- a willingness to change as God chooses to change us and surrendering our "right" to maintain our vision, cause and purpose to His. It is to place our all (our whole being) upon God's altar and leave the results up to Him.

Perhaps God is calling us to sacrifice something painful or dear to us -- an ambition, a dream, a lifestyle, or even our livelihood. Elisha, when the prophet Elijah anointed him to be prophet, immediately  "took a yoke of oxen, and slew them, and boiled their flesh with the instruments of the oxen, and gave unto the people, and they did eat. Then he arose, and went after Elijah, and ministered unto him." (1 Kings 19:21) Just two verses prior, Elisha had been using those very oxen to plow his field. To follow God's call, Elisha did not hesitate to give up his livelihood -- to lay his all on the altar of God. He did not stop to ask "what-ifs." He was willing to change directions as soon as God made it known to him which direction he should change. He gave unhesitant surrender.

Is God's altar in the fore-front of our lives, or have we substituted it with another altar? The question is not "are you sacrificing?" but, "are you sacrificing to GOD?"

Is your all on the altar of sacrifice laid?
Your heart, does the Spirit control?
You can never be blessed, and have peace and sweet rest,
As you yield Him your body and soul.

Elisha A. Hoffman

Monday, February 24, 2014

Is God's Word Profitable in Our Lives?

One of my favorite passages is 2 Timothy 3:16-17, "All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works." Beyond memorizing it, I decided to do a word study and was very interested in the results.

Greek Words
All - NT:3956 pas (pas); including all the forms of declension; apparently a primary word; all, any, every, the whole:

Scripture - NT:1124 graphe (graf-ay'); a document, i.e. holy Writ (or its contents or a statement in it):

Given by inspiration of God - NT:2315 theopneustos (theh-op'-nyoo-stos); from NT:2316 and a presumed derivative of NT:4154; divinely breathed in:

Profitable - NT:5624 ophelimos (o-fel'-ee-mos); from a form of NT:3786; helpful or serviceable, i.e. advantageous:

For - NT:4314 pros (pros); a strengthened form of NT:4253; a preposition of direction; forward to, i.e. toward (with the genitive case the side of, i.e. pertaining to; with the dative case by the side of, i.e. near to; usually with the accusative case the place, time, occasion, or respect, which is the destination of the relation, i.e. whither or for which it is predicated):

Doctrine - NT:1319 didaskalia (did-as-kal-ee'-ah); from NT:1320; instruction (the function or the information):

Reproof - NT:1648 a elegmos (el-eng-mos'); from NT:1651; found only in 2 Tim 3:16: conviction (of a sinner), punishment, refutation of error, reproof.

Correction - NT:1882 epanorthosis (ep-an-or'-tho-sis); from a compound of NT:1909 and NT:461; a straightening up again, i.e. (figuratively) rectification (reformation):

Instruction - NT:3809 paideia (pahee-di'-ah); from NT:3811; tutorage, i.e. education or training; by implication, disciplinary correction:

Righteousness - NT:1343 dikaiosune (dik-ah-yos-oo'-nay); from NT:1342; equity (of character or act); specially (Christian) justification:

That - NT:2443 hina (hin'-ah); probably from the same as the former part of NT:1438 (through the demonstrative idea; compare NT:3588); in order that (denoting the purpose or the result):

Man - NT:444 anthropos (anth'-ro-pos); from NT:435 and ops (the countenance; from NT:3700); man-faced, i.e. a human being:

God - NT:2316 theos (theh'-os); of uncertain affinity; a deity, especially (with NT:3588) the supreme Divinity; figuratively, a magistrate; by Hebraism, very:

Perfect - NT:739 artios (ar'-tee-os); from NT:737; fresh, i.e. (by implication) complete:

Throughly Furnished - NT:1822 exartizo (ex-ar-tid'-zo); from NT:1537 and a derivative of NT:739; to finish out (time); figuratively, to equip fully (a teacher):

All - NT:3956 pas (pas); including all the forms of declension; apparently a primary word; all, any, every, the whole:

Good - NT:18 agathos (ag-ath-os'); a primary word; "good" (in any sense, often as noun):

Works - NT:2041 ergon (er'-gon); from a primary (but obsolete) ergo (to work); toil (as an effort or occupation); by implication, an act:

From this word study, I gain that every single word contained in God's Word is divinely breathed and given by God. It is serviceable and helpful toward and pertaining to instruction (doctrine), refutation of error and conviction (reproof), straightening up again (correction), and education/training in equity or Christian justification (instruction in righteousness). The reason and purpose God gave us His Word is so that any human being who has accepted His salvation can be complete and fully equipped for every good work/act/toil.

How good to know that I can trust God's Word to guide me in every area of life!

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Do We Believe God's Word?

As we saw a few days ago, there are people who are trying their best to disannul God's judgments -- to "explain away" God's Word so that they can approve their works. It is very easy to get on topics (such as abortion) and debate heatedly, trying to convince others of their error. However, the bottom line is: what does God Word say? If one does not trust God's Word, they will not even see the errors of their ways.

What do you believe about God's Word? Here are some of my beliefs of God's Word:

The Word of God is Inspired ("God-breathed")
"For David himself said by the Holy Ghost, The LORD said to my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand, till I make thine enemies thy footstool." (Mark 12:36) 

"All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness." 2 Timothy 3:16

"For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost." (2 Peter 1:21) 

"And account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation; even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you; As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction." (2 Peter 3:15-16)

God's Word is Truth
Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth. (John 17:17)

And now, O Lord GOD, thou art that God, and thy words be true, and thou hast promised this goodness unto thy servant: (2 Samuel 7:28)

The fear of the LORD is clean, enduring for ever: the judgments of the LORD are true and righteous altogether. (Psalms 19:9)

Thou art near, O LORD; and all thy commandments are truth. (Psalms 119:151)

God's Word is without error
Thy word is very pure: therefore thy servant loveth it. (Psalms 119:140)

Every word of God is pure: he is a shield unto them that put their trust in him. (Proverbs 30:5)

Therefore I esteem all thy precepts concerning all things to be right; and I hate every false way. (Psalms 119:128)

The words of the LORD are pure words: as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times. (Psalms 12:6)

As for God, his way is perfect: the word of the LORD is tried: he is a buckler to all those that trust in him. (Psalms 18:30)

The statutes of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart: the commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes. (Psalms 19:8)

Wherefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good. (Romans 7:12)

It is total authority
"Thus saith the Lord" and/or "the Lord saith - 867 verses

It is eternal
Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away. (Matthew 24:35, Mark 13:31, Luke 21:33)

For ever, O LORD, thy word is settled in heaven. (Psalms 119:89)

It is given to us for instruction in life, godliness, doctrine, reproof, correction, and instruction
For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope. (Romans 15:4)

All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works. (2 Timothy 3:16-17)

According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue: Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. (2 Peter 1:3-4)

Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God. (2 Corinthians 7:1)

Monday, February 17, 2014

Will We Condemn God's Word?

Wilt thou also disannul My judgment? wilt thou condemn Me, that thou mayest be righteous? (Job 40:8)

Why would anyone even try to "condemn God's Word?" Why would they try to make it invalid? What is their purpose?

If a person can claim that God's Word is inapplicable to them, they then have no standard by which to measure their life. If God's Word is not to be trusted, then who can say that sodomy is a sin? Who can say that abortion is wrong? Who can say that premarital relationships are abomination to God? If we can disprove God's Word, then we can make all of these sins appear "righteous."

These are the big topics of sin today, but what about the little sins in our lives? Are there any areas where we are trying to disprove the Bible? Any areas that we try to "explain away" to excuse our behavior ("what this really means is . . .")? It is easy to condemn those who blatantly disannul God's judgments -- but let us do a heart check and "see if there be any wicked way in me."

Thursday, February 13, 2014

All-Seeing God

As I read through Job, several verses of the same theme stood out to me.

Monday, February 10, 2014

As Gold

Perhaps like Job, we are facing sore trials. Perhaps there are things in our lives that we simply cannot understand. Perhaps there are some lessons from Job that we can learn.

1) Remember that God sees us and knows where we are headed.
"But He knoweth the way that I take:" (Job 23:10a)

2) Remember that God will use trials to perfect and beautify us as believers.
" . . . when He hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold." (Job 23:10b)

3) Remember God's ways and keep in them.
 "My foot hath held His steps, His way have I kept, and not declined." (Job 23:11)

4) Remember to stay in God's Word.
"Neither have I gone back from the commandment of His lips; I have esteemed the words of His mouth more than my necessary food." (Job 23:12)

Satan would love to use trials to pull the believer down and discourage them, but if we keep our eyes on God, He will use those trials for our good. 

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Remembering Ourselves

Job's friends looked on him with great judgment, trying to convince Job of ways that he had sinned and must repent. Job responded, "But ye should say, Why persecute we him, seeing the root of the matter is found in me?" (Job 19:28)

There are two truths shown by that one question:
1) We are to remember that when we judge, the very same sin is most likely in our lives (perhaps manifested in different ways).
"Therefore thou art inexcusable, O man, whosoever thou art that judgest; for wherein thou judgest another, thou condemnest thyself; for thou that judgest does the same things." Romans 2:1

2) The problem is not "them" but "me." My heart and attitude is not right with God, so thus I am finding gross fault with them.
"And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye? Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother's eye." Matthew 7:3-5

Are we struggling with judging someone? Perhaps the "root of the matter" is in our own hearts (no matter how much "in the wrong" the other seems) and we must allow God to do a heart-check in us to ensure that we are in right standing before Him.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Days of Discouragement

"Why died I not in the womb? why did I not give up the ghost when I came out of the belly?" (Job 3:11)

Those were Job's questions as he felt the pain of everything suddenly taken from him. To his questions, God had answers, but Job could not see the answers. Job did not know that his life and trials would be used to encourage Christians throughout the generations to press on and trust God. God may have never disclosed to Job the reasons for his struggles, but God had amazing answers and His reasons were best.

Later, Job begged, "Oh that I might have my request; and that God would grant me the thing that I long for! Even that it would please God to destroy me; that He would let loose His hand, and cut me off!" (Job 6:8-9)

Sometimes in the heat of emotion, we desire of God that which God graciously denies. Had God destroyed Job at this point, Job would not have had the amazing blessing of talking with God while in this flesh, nor would Job have seen the way God turned around his captivity and given him more livestock and ten more children (see Job 42:10-14).

The story of Job reminds me that God knows the absolute best for me while I am caught in the fog of the present. It reminds me that though I may not be able to see how it will all work out, God will work it out for His good.

"And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose." (Romans 8:28)
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