Wednesday, August 07, 2013, 7:22 a.m. – the Lord Jesus woke me with this song: God is So Good / Velna A. Ledin God is so good (repeat 3 x) He’s so good to me. God answers prayer… He cares for me… I love Him so… I’ll do His will… I praise His name… http://library.timelesstruths.org/music/God_Is_So_Good/ Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read 1 Peter 2 (ESV): http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=1%20Peter%202&version=ESV Long For I am a mother of four (+ 4), and a grandmother of 11 (soon to be 12), so I know the craving of a newborn infant for his or her mother’s milk. The infant eagerly desires and hungers for that milk and is delighted and satisfied when he or she receives it. Nothing else in all creation satisfies like the mother’s milk does. And, this is the kind of craving, longing and desire we should all have for Christ and his word daily. What a picture! What if all Christians longed for Christ and his word daily like a newborn longs for his mother’s milk? What if we viewed Christ Jesus and the word of God as our bare necessity for survival, comfort, encouragement, hope, healing, and nurturing, like a newborn infant does his mom’s milk? If we did, imagine what a difference that would make in our lives and in the lives of those whose lives we touch with ours, and in the world as a whole. For me, this is such an awesome picture of what our relationship with Jesus Christ should be like. If we have tasted that the Lord is good, like an infant first tastes the goodness of his mother’s milk, then we should daily crave that pure spiritual nourishment so that we can grow up and mature spiritually in Christ. For instance, this in no way suggests we should remain spiritual infants (immature) or that we should be satisfied with just the milk of the word and never move on to the meat and become mature followers of Christ. What I believe this is saying here is that, instead of craving the things of this world and following after our own evil desires, feeding upon the evils of this world, we should long for (crave; desire) the pure word of God, for only Christ and his word can truly satisfy the longings of our hearts. Spiritual Sacrifices The analogy here is between a physical structure (house) made up of physical (lifeless) stones and that of a spiritual structure (house) made up of spiritual (and living) “stones,” with Christ Jesus, from whom we receive physical and spiritual life, as the head and foundation stone (cornerstone; capstone) in this spiritual house (his church). Jesus Christ was rejected by men, but in the sight of God he was chosen and precious. This should give great encouragement to those of us who have suffered rejection because of our walks of faith with Jesus Christ, and because of our testimonies and our witness for him. Humans may reject us, but to God we are precious and chosen, i.e. he gives honor to the parts of the Body which lack it. Humans may not see us that way, i.e. we may not be the ones they would naturally choose. They may even cast us aside, but the Lord Jesus does not look at us the same way in which humans do. He looks at our hearts. Amen! As “living stones,” i.e. as spiritually alive and active parts of this spiritual house (his church), we are being “built up” (nurtured; encouraged) to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. To be holy means to be pure, cleansed, and set apart for Christ and for his service. It means to live righteously via the Spirit of God living within us. As “priests” of the Most High God we are to reflect his holiness, make intercession in prayer for others, represent God/Jesus in all we do to all people, and we are to offer to God spiritual sacrifices to God, acceptable to him. So, I asked myself the question: “What are spiritual sacrifices?” If we are to offer them, then we need to know what they are. So, I checked out what the scriptures teach on this subject. Spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God are a broken and contrite heart – humble, submissive, repentant and obedient. They are not comprised of what we choose to do “for” God out of our own choosing, but they are what he chooses for us. We are to present our lives to God as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to him, no longer conformed to the ways of this world, but transformed in the renewing of our minds. We are to offer to God sacrifices of praise – the fruit of lips that confess his name (his character and divine will). We are to do good and to share with others; proclaim the gospel so that others will become sacrifices acceptable to God, sanctified by the Holy Spirit; worship God with reverence and in awe; look after orphans and widows in their distress; keep our lives from being polluted by the world; not live to please humans, but God; not use flattery, fakery, trickery, deceit and lies in the preaching of the word; not serve God and others from impure motives; and to live a life of love (See Ro. 12:1-2; 15:16; Heb. 10:5; 12:28; 13:15-16; Jas. 1:27; 1 The. 2:3-6; 2 Tim. 2:15; Eph. 5:2; Ps. 51:17). Basically, instead of “doing” for God, we obey God. Simple! Proclaim the Excellencies Not only are we to live holy lives pleasing to God and to offer up to him spiritual sacrifices acceptable to him, but we, as followers of Jesus Christ, have an obligation and a responsibility and a trust which we have been given to share the true gospel of salvation with all who need Christ. Because we have been called out of spiritual darkness into the light of truth and freedom from sin, via God’s mercy, we should be passionate about showing that same mercy to others so that they, too, can be brought from darkness to light. Honorable Conduct We are strangers and pilgrims in this world, i.e. this world is not our home, so we should stop living our lives like it is. We should live like we truly believe that we are here for a purpose and a time, i.e. that we have been placed here by God to love him, to serve him, to obey him, and to love and serve others. We should live our lives with eternity’s values in view. In other words, we should realize that we are not here to gather wealth, to entertain ourselves incessantly, to have a big party, to always be seeking out fun and pleasure, and/or to have lots of friends and to always “make nice” with people so they will like us, etc. We should surrender our lives completely to God and to his will for our lives, and we should live to please him and to do what he desires and requires of us, sharing his true gospel, even if the world ends up hating, rejecting and persecuting us for our faith in Jesus Christ. This means that we need to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against our souls. This is not only speaking of the obvious sins of lying, cheating, stealing, adultery, lust, pride, gossip, slander, hatred, murder and the like, but this is speaking of anything in our lives which captures our hearts, minds, attention and affections in such a way as to become our gods, or the central focus of our lives, or which replaces our time, attention and affections which should be given to Christ alone. What do we crave? What do we desire? What do we long for? – The things of this life which have no lasting value? – Or that which is eternal, i.e. that which brings people from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God so they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are being sanctified? Are we mainly living for this life? Or are we living for eternity? Christ Jesus died on the cross to set us free from the control of and bondage to Satan and to sin. “He himself bore our sins in his body on a tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness.” We need to get this! He did not die just so we could go to heaven one day. He didn’t die just so we would be free from damnation to hell. He died so we would walk in freedom from slavery to sin, and so we would walk in his righteousness day-to-day while we still live on this earth. If we, the church, really got this, then why would so many be teaching a gospel absent of the kind of faith that results in repentance and obedience? And, why would so many professing Christians be living their lives as though this earth is their final home? Why would so many believe that God’s grace means they can continue to live to please themselves because heaven is a sure thing? Christ did set us free, but we are not to use that freedom as a cover-up for evil, i.e. as an excuse to continue to do wrong.