We are to be a living sacrifice. This time of the year we often think about sacrifice, the death of our Savior as we are told to, rightly so at the Passover, our source of life.
Good morning to all of you and all those listening on the telecast. I used to say never follow children and now I have to follow children and I have to follow a tribute. In fact, if Mr. McNeely spoke a bit longer we could just all have gone home. I appreciated that very much. We did loose a good man in President Luker. It is the second boss that I have worked for this time in service to God.
My sermon today is entitled: Becoming a living sacrifice. It is not really about Mr. Luker although parts of it are obviously inspired by him. Certainly he lived that title in his life. Turn if you would turn to Romans 12:1 Romans 12:1I beseech you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.
American King James Version× , the scripture I often quote to myself when things are a little difficult.
Romans 12:1 Romans 12:1I beseech you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.
American King James Version× (Paul writes) I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, pleasing to God (or acceptable to God, the King James has it), which is your reasonable service.
We are to be a living sacrifice. This time of the year we often think about sacrifice, the death of our Savior as we are told to, rightly so at the Passover, our source of life. Turn to Luke 22 if you would. We see Christ praying in the garden waiting, knowing what is before Him.
Luke 22:40 Luke 22:40And when he was at the place, he said to them, Pray that you enter not into temptation.
American King James Version× When He came to the place, He said to them, “Pray that you may not enter into temptation.”
Before He went to pray Himself, He thought of them. “… that you may not enter into temptation ” – His disciples, and He left them and of course He asked God if He could take the cup from Him but again, He wanted God’s will not His own.
V.44 – And being in agony, He prayed more earnestly. Then His sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground.
It was an intense prayer. He knew what was coming ahead of Him, but then He finished, in:
V.45 – When He rose up from prayer, and had come to His disciples, He found them sleeping from sorrow.
V.46 – Then He said to them, “Why do you sleep? Rise and pray, lest you enter into temptation.”
He was worried about His disciples even as He was about to suffer the most suffering event of His life. He was in incredible- and was having incredible pain, because of what He was facing. He knew what was coming and He sweated blood waiting for that.
I doubt you or I have ever sweated blood. There was this time in my life when I probably came as close to that as I ever will. This was about 1980: It was a day not unlike many others in my wife’s (life) and my life. We were travelling with Mr. Armstrong and this time we were in the Ivory Coast, a French colony in Africa, which is now independent. He was visiting some leaders there. We were in the capital, a city called Abidjan.
It was a busy place - about 5 million people population; the third largest French-speaking colony and city in the world. It was the capital, although the capital has since moved from that time. We were there in a strange country where they spoke a strange language and several different strange languages. English was not their native tongue. We were in a hotel that was reasonably nice by their standards. Although comfortable but not so clean, as we would think about it. The world was not as nice a place back then as it is now but it was interesting because it was an important seaport and the cultural hub of Western Africa and you could get almost any thing there.
They had a special market that was known as the Le Plateau Market. The Plateau district was the economic district of Abidjan and they had a huge open market that I wanted to go and visit and look at the various things because I like bartering and I didn’t have much money and it was always fun to look at all those little things they made in those countries and at great prices.
I asked the concierge about going to the Market and he asked if I was going alone. I said no, I was going to take my wife. He said, oh, be very careful. I said, why? He said there is a big slave trade in Abidjan. Now Michele was beautiful and it made me think, maybe I shouldn’t go but we are a team and being her prince I thought we would go anyway, which we did. My wife hadn’t heard this or she may have not gone but she probably wondered why I kept her so close to me at the market. I hung on to her hand and didn’t let her out of my sight.
It was a beautiful market bustling with people and a lot of great things; all sorts of carvings of ebony and ivory and things that you could buy. You need things. I got a couple of butterfly-wing pictures there. Everybody tried to sell you little knick-knacks here and there. There are a lot of gods carved out from the people. They had all sorts of mixed religions; mixtures of witchcraft, Christianity, Muslim and some people superstitiously practicing all of them to make sure they covered all the gods, so to speak. And there was no problem at the market; we enjoyed seeing it. No one tried to kidnap Michelle and we packed our purchases and went back to the hotel.
Part of my job, our job actually at that time, was taking luggage. I have been doing this for 7 years before Michelle flew, and it was interesting because we were loading the luggage to leave the next day and I was inside the bus that was going to carry it all. Michelle was outside and when the bellman signaled to the driver it was the last piece of luggage the driver closed the door and started driving off with me on board and Michelle outside.
I screamed at him to stop: “Arête! Arête!” I understood enough French to ask him to stop but by the time I stopped and looked out of the window Michelle had been grabbed by the hand and put in a taxi and the taxi had taken off and had done a U-turn and gone the opposite direction from where we were going. My thoughts were pretty intense at that point because I didn’t know where that taxi was going. I began sweating and praying and thinking about what might happen, ready to give my life to go see her. On that hour and a half drive to the Airport I was mentally ready to sacrifice my life to find her if I had to. I wouldn’t have gotten on the jet if she wasn’t there. I was ready to sacrifice my life.
It was interesting because Christ, as He was prepared to sacrifice His life for all of us, faced an excruciating death but yet this was only the pinnacle of a life of sacrifice for Him. It wasn’t the only event that was a sacrifice.
Turn to Isaiah 53 . We’ll look at this or read part of it during the Passover but when you think about the fact that Jesus knew these verses, He knew what was going to happen to Him. We don’t know what is going to happen to us when we are called by God - as we enter life.
Isaiah 53:2 Isaiah 53:2For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: he has no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him.
American King James Version× For He shall grow up before Him as a tender plant, and as a root out of dry ground. He has no form or comeliness; and when we see Him, there is no beauty that we should desire Him.
There is no special beauty, not like the world’s gods. The carvings over in the Pantheon and stuff - all the gods and goddesses were beautiful people.
V.3 – He is despised and rejected by men, a Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. And we hid, as it were, our faces from Him; He was despised, and we did not esteem Him.
Some of the religious leaders of that day were jealous of Him and hated Him to the point they killed Him. And His disciples themselves, who loved Him, ran away when He was taken and deserted Him.
V.4 – Surely He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed Him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted .
It wasn’t His fault. Of course the world would probably say, well, He probably deserved it. Bad things do happen - but He didn’t.
V.5 – But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement for our peace was upon Him and by His stripes we are healed.
Jesus knew this was Him. He knew He’d be beaten so we can have healing.
V.6 – All we like sheep have gone astray; (we have all sinned) we have turned, every one, to his own way; and the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.
His suffered our punishment.
V.7 – He was oppressed and He was afflicted, yet He opened not His mouth ; (He didn’t complain; He didn’t think it wasn’t fair) He was led as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before its shearers is silent, so He opened not His mouth.
Are we like that? When we suffer do we want everyone to know our pain and the wrongs that have been done to us? Here was one who was totally wronged.
V.8 – He was taken from prison and from judgment, and who will declare His generation? For He was cut off from the land of the living; for the transgressions of My people He was stricken.
He died young. Nobody wants to die young but that was His cross to bear.
V.9 – And they made His grave with the wicked - (Yes, He did – with the two thieves) but with the rich at His death , (in the tomb of a rich man) because He had done no violence, nor was any deceit in His mouth.
V.10 – Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise Him; What did Paul write? A living sacrifice pleasing to God.
V.10 – Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise Him; He has put Him to grief. When You made His soul an offering for sin, He shall see His seed, He shall prolong His days, and the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in His hand.
Why did it please Him? Because,
V.11 – He shall see the labor of His soul, and be satisfied. By His knowledge My righteous Servant shall justify many, for He shall bear their iniquities.
He did it to bear our iniquities so He could justify us.
V.12 – Therefore I will divide Him a portion with the great, and He shall divide the spoil with the strong, because He poured out His soul unto death, and He was numbered with the transgressors, and He bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors .
Christ epitomized Romans 12:1 Romans 12:1I beseech you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.
American King James Version× , presenting His body as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God. Yet, He looked like a normal person. It said there was no beauty. We are to be like Him: to have the faith that He had, to have His mind and His soul. We will have some of the same problems as we try to live like Him. For the most part we are not beautiful. There are a few beautiful people among us. There are some of us who may have been pretty when we were younger but we’ve long since lived past that and now we are wrinkling and sagging and having gravity take its place with us. We might call it truer, distinguished, but like my son says, Dad, you are getting old. Yes, that’s true.
We will be hurt, deserted by friends perhaps, at times. Turn to 1 Peter 2 . Let’s review the end. Some of us perhaps may even have to die as Christ did or be falsely accused.
1 Peter 2:19 1 Peter 2:19For this is thank worthy, if a man for conscience toward God endure grief, suffering wrongfully.
American King James Version× For this is commendable, if because of conscience toward God one endures grief, suffering wrongfully.
We will suffer wrongfully. That is good, God says. We only have this one life to be a living sacrifice and be like Christ, pleasing to God.
V.20 – For what credit it is if, when you are beaten for your faults, you take it patiently? (Yes, if we sin we deserve it). But when you do good and suffer , (this is what we are supposed to do) and patiently endure, this is the grace from God.
We have to endure it. Grace equals suffering falsely with humility: not being angry, not seeking revenge, not causing division, not trying to marshal the troops around you to see how you have been wronged, and it is sad - why should we get other people emotionally upset because of something that we should be taking patiently in faith and not hurting others?
V.21 – For to his you were called (yes, suffering and accusation; different trials in life; maybe health trials, etc.) because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps :
V.22 – “Who committed no sin, nor was deceit found in His mouth”,
V.23 – who, when He was reviled, did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten, but committed Himself to Him who judges righteously;
Do we let God judge other people? Do we hold our tongue? All to often we don’t.
V.24 – who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness – by whose stripes you were healed. (Quoting from Isaiah.)
Yes, we may even be put to death as were earlier Christians and sometime in the future – we thank God we’re in a country that is free right now but we don’t know what is ahead as the world falls apart. Dying in a sacrifice but it is not a living sacrifice it is a terminal sacrifice, one that if you have been a living sacrifice brings you into His Kingdom. We may be despised and hated for our beliefs as the world gets more and more accepting of things and as true values and eternal truths are put to the side. I am sorry to see one of the Congressmen who was against homosexual marriage changed his mind because of his son, which is fine, he should love his son but there are eternal truths, that are things that God says are right and wrong. We love the sinner but we don’t love the sin. We don’t change the position of sin for personal gain.
We know we are to lay our burdens on Christ but sometimes we can help each other carry those burdens whether it is giving time in service or money or just prayer. We have examples today of people who have sacrificed. I am always encouraged – some of the ladies came to our house and we were talking about some of the trials that their children went through. One of the ladies whose daughter was the star of their Volleyball team, at 6:18 pm when the sun set, walked off the court because it was the Sabbath. Her team lost because she couldn’t finish. She faced some trials because of that obviously but there are others.
There is a girl in the Philippines who kept the Feast and Holy Days and was beaten in front of the whole school for her beliefs. We see those things happen. Often times though they prove to be a light, a shining example for the rest of us to see. We face our own trials and we will be tested. Sometimes we learn from our failures or we gave up and did something wrong. Some of the biggest failures on earth are listed in the Bible. Peter denied Christ three times. It is interesting – we face those trials sometimes when we should have helped but we didn’t.
I am reminded of a friend of mine in Texas who got called in and disciplined for hitch hiking which we were not allowed to do. He happened to be with a female friend who had a car and they were in town and the car died and he had to get back, so he hitch hiked. The funny part to me was the fact that the person who turned him in didn’t pick him up. It makes you wonder how much help, how much Christianity, was there in that.
God has to know our character for eternity. He is offering eternity. Will you serve Him for eternity or will your character change? Yes and no. Though we’ve trusted God and always trust God - but God is always fair. One evangelist told me of a situation where he cast out a demon. Before he did he asked it: Why did you rebel against God’s perfect government? And the answer he was given through the man’s voice was, well, because God wasn’t fair. God wasn’t fair. Is God ever not fair? Our perception maybe, perhaps if something in our life isn’t fair. What if Satan wasn’t fair? Just look at his fall - Ezekiel 28. Turn there and then we will read a couple of verses in Isaiah 14 . These two describe Satan’s fall. He had the opposite of Christ’s attitude.
Ezekiel 28:12 Ezekiel 28:12Son of man, take up a lamentation on the king of Tyrus, and say to him, Thus said the Lord GOD; You seal up the sum, full of wisdom, and perfect in beauty.
American King James Version× He talks about the king of Tyre and says : ‘Thus says the Lord God: “You were the seal of perfection, full of wisdom and perfect in beauty.
Certainly no human has had that.
V.13 – You were in Eden, the garden of God (Certainly He wasn’t talking about the king of Tyre now – it had to be Lucifer); Every precious stone was your covering: The sardius, topaz and diamond, beryl, onyx, and jasper, sapphire, turquoise, and emerald with gold . (He was beautiful). The workmanship of your timbrels and pipes was prepared for you on the day you were created .
He had the look; he had the voice; he won every show on TV; he was the American Idol, so to speak, of the universe as God had created him.
V.14 – “You were the anointed cherub who covers; I established you; you were on the holy mountain of God; you walked back and forth in the midst of fiery stones.
V.15 – You were perfect in your ways from the day you were created, (He was a created being by God) till iniquity was found in you.
V.16 – “ By the abundance of your trading you became filled with violence within, (he collected things; he saw things rather than character) and you sinned; Therefore I cast you as a profane thing out of the mountain of God;
Isaiah 14 – we will see a few more things there.
Isaiah 14:12 Isaiah 14:12How are you fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how are you cut down to the ground, which did weaken the nations!
American King James Version× “How you are fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! How you are cut down to the ground, you who weakened the nations!
Yes, he has caused a lot of the troubles that we face. He has tried to stop everything good.
V.13 – For you have said in your heart: ‘I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God; I will also sit on the mount of the congregation on the farthest sides of the north;
He wanted to be God; he wanted position and he was beautiful.
V.14 – I will ascend above the heights of the clouds, I will be like the Most High.’
Satan is about “I”; about me; about things; about material; about power – the opposite of what Christ came for; the opposite of what Isaiah 53 showed that Christ would suffer.
When I look at Christ’s prayers He gave for us, it is mostly about us, not Him. How many times did He say to God the Father in His prayer, protect them, keep them, give them Your love for one another and for You. Is your attitude toward Christianity about you or about others?
In Abidjan, it wasn’t an unwilling sacrifice I was going to make; It was my wife, my bride. We are the Bride of Christ. He was doing it for His church, for His Father and for His plan of salvation. It was about them, to make sure they would make it; they would be safe. God picked you. He wanted you. How do you know if you are a disciple? Now turn to John 13 . We will read a few verses here that we will read at Passover, but how does He know?
John 13:34 John 13:34A new commandment I give to you, That you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another.
American King James Version× A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another;
It wasn’t really new. It was always from the beginning loving one another but yet the Ten Commandments were, don’t kill. It didn’t say you shouldn’t hate, although you shouldn’t, but as long as you don’t kill you are not subject to the penalty of the law. But now you have to show love to not be subject to those penalties.
V.34 - … as I have loved you, that you also love one another.
V.35 – By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”
John 14:13 John 14:13And whatever you shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.
American King James Version× (Again) And whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, (It is for you; I’ll do it) that the Father may be glorified in the Son.
It is about glorifying God.
V.15 – “If you love Me, keep My commandments.
How do you prove your love to God? Keeping His commandments.
V.19 – … Because I live, you will live also.
He wanted them to live. He wants you to live, He wants me, He wants all of us to live for eternity.
V.21 – He who has My commandments and keeps them it is he who loves Me. And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest Myself to him.”
He wants you to be as He is.
V. 23 - … “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him.
He’ll be there in your house and your life and your thoughts.
V.24 – He who does not love Me does not keep My words; and the word which you hear is not Mine but the Father’s (words).
There are those who don’t understand.
Peter, of course we read in John 21 a few chapters over, where Peter was out fishing and God called them together and Peter denied Christ three times and Christ asked him three times, Simon, do you love Me? Do you love Me? And his answer? Oh yes, I love You. Christ kept asking and he kept telling: Peter, feed My sheep. Feed My sheep. Feeding is more than just preaching at them. Feeding is more than that. Christ preached. He also healed; He comforted; He fed; He had compassion and mercy; He helped. Well, if we have God’s love in us we will do those same things to other people. We will dedicate our lives to helping others in service.
When I look at my sixty years of history, I look at the Church, men who were there to feed the sheep, to help and to comfort, to nourish and unify; sadly we see a lot of people who didn’t follow Christ’s advice. They didn’t have the humility that they needed and so we had many splits starting back in the 40’s and 50’s and 60’s, 70’s, 80’s and 90’s and then this century as well. Every time I saw a split in my life I always heard the same words: It wasn’t fair; something wasn’t fair; this wasn’t right. Perhaps it wasn’t.
But think of that statement in itself: It wasn’t fair. Is that statement selfless or selfish? Is that statement giving or getting as we’ve heard so often? Does it show a willingness to suffer wrong? Does it show a trusting relationship with God and His ability to solve things? Was it fair that they crucified Jesus Christ? No. Was it fair for the apostles to suffer and die?
Are some of the things that we go through fair? No, they don’t seem that way but in those trials, if we take them patiently, we build the love of God and the faith to know that God will heal, or help, or give us comfort or peace if He doesn’t choose to heal us. Was it fair for God to ask Abraham to offer Isaac? Turn to Genesis 22 - Because God does prove us by things that don’t seem fair. Abraham waited years. Michelle and I waited 12 years to have our son. Abraham waited for ever it seemed, till he was 100 years old.
Genesis 22:1 Genesis 22:1And it came to pass after these things, that God did tempt Abraham, and said to him, Abraham: and he said, Behold, here I am.
American King James Version× Now it came to pass after these things that God tested Abraham , (He was testing him) and said to him, “Abraham!” And he said, “Here I am”.
V.2 – Then He said, “Take now your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you.”
What a test and Abraham did it. He left; he went, he took the son and he took the wood and the servants. Isaac knew what was going on in the sense that they were going to sacrifice. I am sure he had seen his father sacrifice many times before.
V.7 – But Isaac spoke to Abraham his father and said, “My father!” And he said, “Here I am, my son.” Then he said, “Look, the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?”
He didn’t know it was him at that time, obviously. Abraham, I am sure with tears in his eyes said, God will provide. And he kept going.
V.9 – Then they came to the place of which God had told him. And Abraham built an altar there and placed the wood in order; and he bound Isaac his son and laid him on the altar, upon the wood.
It doesn’t say Isaac fought him. Isaac seemed to have been willing to trust his physical father as his physical father trusted his God. What did our baptism commitment mean to us when we went to the grave, a watery grave and rose up? Was it hollow? Abraham you know of course raised the knife to his throat and was stopped by God and God said: Now I know that you fear God. Now I know. He had already gone through leaving early Chaldea; leaving his homeland; going to the wilderness; visiting different places; having his wife taken from him and God giving her back and having conquered the kings that took Lot into captivity; having waited for a son; having a son born. But now I know, because it takes a lifetime for God to test each of us to know, no matter what direction Satan comes at us, that we are going to look to God and serve each other and love each other.
It is interesting, because God gave the promises again to Abraham in Genesis 22:15-16 Genesis 22:15-16 15 And the angel of the LORD called to Abraham out of heaven the second time,
16 And said, By myself have I sworn, said the LORD, for because you have done this thing, and have not withheld your son, your only son:
American King James Version×.
V.17 – blessing I will bless you, and multiplying I will multiply your descendants as the stars of the heaven and as the sand which is on the seashore; and your descendants shall possess the gate of their enemies.
V.18 – In your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed, because you have obeyed My voice.”
Indeed, we are blessed physically with those promises but also with Jesus Christ, his descendant. Indeed also is that not a parallel to the physical and the spiritual? Aren’t we the seed of God, the firstfruits because of that sacrifice?
Turn to Zechariah 8 , a scripture we read at the Fall Feast but I choose to read now, because will not the nations of the earth be blessed because of our obedience as well when we get to help Jesus Christ? Has the physical labor a parallel with the spiritual church in some ways? What must we do?
Zechariah 8:16 Zechariah 8:16These are the things that you shall do; Speak you every man the truth to his neighbor; execute the judgment of truth and peace in your gates:
American King James Version× These are the things you shall do: Speak each man the truth to his neighbor; (How many times have we heard lies - and what damage does it cause) Give judgment in your gates for truth, justice, and peace;
Truth and peace.
V.17 – Let none of you think evil in your heart against your neighbor; and do not love a false oath. For all these are things that I hate,’ says the Lord.
V.23 – “Thus says the Lord of hosts: ‘In those days ten men from every language of the nations shall grasp the sleeve of a Jewish man, saying, “Let us go with you, for we have heard that God is with you.”’”
And certainly if we live our life as a living sacrifice God is with us now and will be with us then as we teach others. Christ knew what He would have to do for humanity. When He was taken that night Christ knew but His disciples didn’t. For them it was a normal feast. They had done it for all the years they had been with Him before, for three years, and nothing had happened before. What did they think? Peter trying to fight; cut off the ear of a soldier and then when Christ stopped him, oh, we can’t defend ourselves, we better run. So they all ran. They were helpless so they ran away. Christ died for the ungodly, for the sinners. We are told that in:
Romans 5:6 Romans 5:6For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly.
American King James Version× For when we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly.
You and I, He called us. That is what we were. We still sin - hopefully less and less each year.
V.7 – For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die.
V.8 – But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
Hopefully for us as former sinners, getting better, becoming more perfect each day.
Turn to John 4 and let’s look how Christ approached one relationship, a relationship with the Samaritan women at a well. It is interesting when you look at that story, Christ starts the conversation with the woman with, “give Me a drink of water”. It is interesting how Christ talked to people, the methods He used to just start up a conversation, surprising people.
The Samaritan woman’s answer was, well, why are You talking to me? You are a Jew. I am a Samaritan. You are not supposed to talk to me. I am a woman. Not only that, I am here in the middle of the day by myself. Women usually went in the morning as a group together to get water. Was she there by herself because people knew who she was and what she was, because Christ talked to her and He said, where is your husband? Why isn’t he with you? Someone to protect you and – she said, I have no husband. He said: It is true. You had five and the one you are with now isn’t your husband. Wow! It is kind of revealing when someone comes up to you and tells you everything about you that you don’t know that they know.
This is a stranger to her and He knew this stuff. Yet, He didn’t condemn her. He didn’t say, you dirty person, you. I can’t talk to you. It was interesting. Was she alone because she was despised by her community? And yet Christ didn’t rant and rail on her. He didn’t despise her; He informed her. He knew what she was in that sense but He didn’t condemn her.
John 4:25 John 4:25The woman said to him, I know that Messias comes, which is called Christ: when he is come, he will tell us all things.
American King James Version× The woman said to Him, “I know that Messiah is coming” (who is called Christ). “When He comes, He will tell us all things.”
V.26 – Jesus said to her, “I who speak to you am He.”
V.27 – (And at this point His disciples came) and they marveled that He talked with a woman; (this was against protocol; this isn’t politically correct. Do we try to be politically correct or do we do what we know to do, regardless?)
V.28 – The woman then left her water pot, went her way into the city, and said to the men,
V.29 – “Come, see a Man who told me all things that I ever did. Could this be the Christ?”
She was pretty believing. Do we despise the sinner, the ugly, the different? Do we despise people that are not comely? Do we look at things like Satan did? Do we look at things in beauty? Turn to 1 Corinthians 1:26 1 Corinthians 1:26For you see your calling, brothers, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called:
American King James Version× – because Christ died for the weak, for the despised, for the unkempt, for the distasteful. He spent time with the lame, the deaf, blind, the poor and the lepers. Why? God’s calling was not because of earthly position and beauty, advantage or wisdom.
1 Corinthians 1:26 1 Corinthians 1:26For you see your calling, brothers, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called:
American King James Version× For you see your calling, brethren, that not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called.
V.27 – But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty;
V.28 – and the base things of the world and the things which are despised God has chosen, and the things which are not, to bring to nothing the things that are.
V.29 – that no flesh should glory in His presence .
When things “are not fair” it is about self and glory: Not getting what you think is rightfully yours; something you’ve earned, position or what ever. But is that for us to decide, for me or for you or for God?
V.30 – But of Him you are in Christ Jesus, (you may suffer wrongs as He did) who became for us wisdom from God – (if we have any wisdom it is from Him) and righteousness (comes from Him ) and sanctification (comes from Him) and redemption (comes from Him).
God does it, not us. When we do anything right it is His glory.
V.31 – that, as it is written, “He who glories, let him glory in the Lord.”
It is not about us.
James 2:5 James 2:5Listen, my beloved brothers, Has not God chosen the poor of this world rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom which he has promised to them that love him?
American King James Version× has a similar thing: God has chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith. He chose those to be rich in faith. You may be poor but we inherit the Kingdom, He promised to those who love Him. That is who God chose.
V.6 – But you have dishonored the poor man. Do not the rich oppress you and drag you into the court?
Yes, they do. They’ll take advantage.
V.7 – Do they not blaspheme that noble name by which you are called?
If you despise, you show favoritism, you blaspheme God’s name.
V.8 – If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” you do well;
Because you will help them. You will see them as your wife, your family, your children in service and in help.
V.9 – but if you show partiality, you commit sin (most people don’t think of that in this world as sin. They look at it as getting ahead; being in the right place at the right time, winning) and are convicted by the law as transgressors.
V.10 – For whoever shall keep the whole law, and yet stumble in one point, he is guilty of all.
We can insult the heirs of God of this Kingdom by neglecting or overlooking those who need help now. They are among us and indeed we should be a living sacrifice helping others as Christ did - a family because of God’s Spirit. We are part of His body. Sure, it may be difficult to converse with some that are so different than us. Sometimes it is hard but that is what we are called to do. We may still be tainted with human judgment instead of Godly wisdom. Are we indeed a living sacrifice as Christ was? We should be treating everyone fairly with maturity, and if you do, you are mature spiritually if you keep your eyes on the relationships you should have with God and with men.
Paul talks about the less honorable parts of the body. Not every one is a head and not every one is a foot and not every one is an arm and why did he say that? Turn to 1 Corinthians 12 . We shouldn’t think of those things as less honorable in the body. We shouldn’t look down on anyone. If you think of your own body the example he gives is pretty clear. When you stop going to the bathroom for a week or two you are going to be pretty thankful that you’ve got a way to put food in and a way to take it out. It makes a difference – why?
1 Corinthians 12:25 1 Corinthians 12:25That there should be no schism in the body; but that the members should have the same care one for another.
American King James Version× that there should be no schism in the body, but that the members should have the same care for one another.
V.26 – And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; or if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it.
V.27 – Now you are the body of Christ, and members individually.
You and I each fit in that body. We are told to esteem all people because it is about relationships.
Philippians 2 tells us that: to esteem each other.
Philippians 2:1 Philippians 2:1If there be therefore any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any bowels and mercies,
American King James Version× Therefore if there is any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and mercy,
V.2 – fulfill my joy by being like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind.
V.3 – Let nothing be done through (strife) selfish ambition or (vain glory) conceit (that is what Satan had – strife and vain glory. He gloried in his own beauty and what he had ) but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself.
Christ washed feet. He was esteeming His disciples even though He was God, doing that. There is nothing too low, too dirty for us not to help others.
V.4 – Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others .
Looking for ways to serve, for ways to give, for ways to help. And then the scripture card:
V.5 – Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus.
We have to have those concerns, that human touch. We should plan our Feasts around relationships. God has invited you and all of those He has called to that Wedding Feast.
Luke 14 – if you will turn there - we will read a few verses there. God has invited you. Notice the ones who see themselves as important or have other things to do, the selfish, the ones who see it as unfair, not according to their timing, what their needs are - they don’t make it.
Luke 14:12 Luke 14:12Then said he also to him that bade him, When you make a dinner or a supper, call not your friends, nor your brothers, neither your kinsmen, nor your rich neighbors; lest they also bid you again, and a recompense be made you.
American King James Version× Then He also said to him who invited Him, “When you give a dinner or a supper, do not ask your friends, your brothers, your relatives, nor rich neighbors, lest they also invite you back, and you be repaid.
They can pay you back.
V.13 – But when you give a feast, invite the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind.
V.14 – And you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you;
God will give it back to you. Certainly you have your friends over as well but not exclusively your friends. We are family and everybody is included.
V.15 – Now when one of those who sat at the table with Him heard these things, he said to Him, “Blessed is he who shall eat bread in the kingdom of God!”
True statement, but He gave him a parable after that.
V.16 – Then He said to him, “A certain man gave a great supper and invited many,
V.17 – and sent his servant at supper time to say to those who were invited, ‘Come, for all things are now ready.’
V.18 – But they all with one accord began to make excuses. The first said to him, ‘I have bought a piece of ground, and I must go and see it. I ask you to have me excused.’
V.19 – And another said, ‘I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I am going to test them. I ask you to have me excused.’
V.20 – Still another said, ‘I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come.’
What kind of excuse do you have? What makes it not right for you to come? Are you going to have excuses? There is no legitimate one.
V.21 – So that servant came and reported these things to his master. Then the master of the house, being angry, said to his servant, ‘Go out quickly into the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in here the poor and the maimed and the lame and the blind.’
All the religious leaders at that time wouldn’t come to the dinner.
V.22 – And the servant said, ‘Master, it is done as you commanded, and still there is room.’
V.23 – Then the master said to the servant, ‘Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled.
V.24 – For I say to you that none of those men who were invited shall taste my supper.’”
We have to treat every one with respect. Don’t get distracted by what the world measures as gain and you won’t forget God. Offer to help the needy and the sick and the lame and the less fortunate. We are those people that are invited to that supper.
I think of Denny Luker and his love of people, of all people. His desire to help the addictive, which is on the film, people that have problems that are very, very difficult to overcome, the weak, the lonely. It shows he accepted that invitation to God’s supper and then he gave us these three years and then he intended to retire and give to his family. He was a living sacrifice. I am thankful he did get back in time to see his family. He knew he was complete; he knew where his salvation rested; he knew his hope was in the resurrection; he accepted his invitation.
Will you accept yours? You are invited and we are all from different backgrounds. I think of my Mom who lived in a town of about 100 people in West Virginia, who was widowed, and my stepfather from a tiny little town in Oregon, not much bigger than my Mom’s. Some of you here from funny places like Peoples Ohio or Bugtussle, Kentucky, or Toad Hop, Indiana – pretty odd names around here and perhaps some odd people and maybe a few city slickers from Cincinnati or LA or New York – but we are all invited by God because He called you. He called you to be that living sacrifice. You know if you die for your country you get a Purple Heart – you become a living sacrifice for God, you gain eternity. And there is some suffering at times. But like Denny quoted in Romans 8:18 Romans 8:18For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.
American King James Version× , the sufferings are not worthy to be compared.
We have to see it as an honor that we get to suffer; to do those things which prove that we trust God more than we trust ourselves or trust the things of this world; that we love God more than others. Nothing can compare to what Christ did for us and in our small way we have to be like Him.
Indeed, I felt helpless as I neared the airport in Abidjan – I didn’t see my wife there as we drove up. The taxi wasn’t there but I ran to the aircraft and ran up the steps and there was my wife on the plane, smiling, doing her job not knowing I sweated blood and died on the car. I didn’t really tell her what happened at that time until later on. I wasn’t in any mood. She was unaware of the stress I have gone through. The taxi had taken her by a different route and she had gotten there safely but I will never forget how helpless I felt; that I could do nothing.
God was not helpless to spare His Son. He loved us. He chose to let Him do what He did for our salvation. Obviously my wife was not kidnapped for the slave trade. She is here today. I didn’t have to waste time marching across the Sahara into the less savory parts of the world but you and I do have to chase our Savior where He leads us, wherever that is. And you and I don’t know where that is but we belong to Him. That is what we did and said when we got baptized. We gave our lives to Him. My job then was to carry the luggage. Christ helps us carry our luggage, our baggage, if we let Him, if we trust Him, if indeed we love Him and we love each other.
God doesn’t ask me or you to give our children’s life like He did Abraham but He asked us to give our own life. I can’t wait to see Christ’s smiling face when we are resurrected – to see Him and when we are placed on His plane under His jurisdiction, under His direction in the Kingdom. I love all my brothers and sisters that I have met around the world, all of God’s people. They are different and unusual, they speak different languages, they dress different but they are wonderful people. People that I yearn to be with in God’s Kingdom.
This Passover I would ask the same as Paul asked when he said, Brethren, by the mercies of God, present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, pleasing to God which is your reasonable service . (Romans 12:1 Romans 12:1I beseech you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.
American King James Version×)
Let us truly love one another this Passover season by becoming a living sacrifice.