How deep the Father’s love for us,
How vast beyond all measure,
That He should give His only Son
To make a wretch His treasure.
How great the pain of searing loss –
The Father turns His face away,
As wounds which mar the Chosen One
Bring many sons to glory.
“How Deep The Father’s Love For Us” -Stuart Townend
Offerings to the Lord made by fire. When something is consume by flames it is completely destroyed. It is completely lost. When we make an offering to the Lord there is nothing left for us to keep for ourselves. It is all gone. We are not mutual recipients of the offering. The offering is made to the Lord at our cost and loss and for his gain and pleasure. This kind of giving is painful but it is not hurtful. God is not taking pleasure in watching you lose the things that you love. God does not demand this kind of offering simply to impose his authority over our lives and possessions.
The design of a Holy offering pleasing to the Lord contradicts the thinking of the world which asks, “What do I get out of this?” A Holy offering to the Lord is made by and through transformation. It is only when we have been personally and intimately confronted by the presence of the living God that we are able to understand giving in this way. Upon this encounter with the living God we begin to redefine words such as loss, gain, thanksgiving and sacrifice. Willingly offering up a valued possession to never see it again is a painful loss if we measure our value in this world by the possession of that object. However, in Jesus, wouldn’t we rather lose all we own to know him and be known by him? Acquiring things, objects, property, money is only meaningful if the acquisition of such things adds to our life as we know it. However, in Jesus, we know that all things in this world will pass away except for the eternal promises we have in Jesus. What does it mean to be thankful? What moves us to make thanks-giving? Does our thanks possess a short-term memory or an eternity mindset? Temporary gains will produce shallow and fleeting thanksgiving. Eternal gains will produce comprehensive and ongoing thanksgiving. Do you know what you have in Jesus? Your eternal debt was paid in full and the limits placed upon your life by death were destroyed. You have life now. You can live! To live forever eternally loved and accepted is yours in Jesus, because of Jesus. The revelation of the Gospel creates in a person a limitless and never-ending spring of living water and joyful thanksgiving. What does it mean to sacrifice something you hold dear? Why does it hurt so much to let something go? It hurts because we view the things we love in this world as puzzle pieces that complete us. When we lose a puzzle piece, part of us disappears and we feel incomplete. But what if what we needed was an entirely new puzzle, a new creation. And what if this new puzzle only worked to add pieces to the image with the promise that none will ever be taken away. Piece by piece we are becoming more whole and more who we were designed to be. This is our promise. This is the Gospel. This is ours because of Jesus. This is because of the cross. Seeing Jesus crucified frames our “loss” and “sacrifice” revealing it to be nothing in comparison to hiss. To offer anything in the name of Jesus is not to lose but always to win. To give back what was never ours is to rightfully honor the Father who has given us eternally more than we could ever give back.
Read Leviticus 25:1-7
Rest is not an option. Rest is not a luxury. Rest is not a suggestion. Rest is a commandment, a rule, a mandatory requirement in fulfilling and participating in God’s creation. God created and designed a world that functioned off of the premise that abundance and prosperity follows rest. The world around us was not designed to overwork and overproduce. Neither were we. In the same way we observe the planet deteriorating as a result of overuse, we also fall victim to deterioration as a result of overuse and overwork. The demands of our world today lead us into concluding that we must overwork in order to merely get by and survive. The world around us bullies us into a corner where we submit to the cruel and unjust reality that in order to keep up we must never stop. Since when do we live according to the promises and commandments of this world? If we are commanded to rest by the living God we are also promised by the same living God that our needs will be met in all circumstances. Therein lies the crux of the issue of rest in our modern world. It boils down to an issue of trust. Do you trust God enough to provide for and meet your needs when you rest from your work? Do you trust God enough to yield to his assessment of your physical, emotional and physical health and not your own? According to God rest is a requirement for life. In order to live we MUST rest. If we dismiss this instruction, we will die. The appetite of sin and the delusion of sin will strive to convince us that if we cease to work, we will die. The lie of Satan from the beginning was that it is utter foolishness to trust God and take him at his word. The lie from Satan establishes that we must be our own God, our own creator, our own healer, our own savior. However, in Jesus we see the promises of God fulfilled and the lies of the enemy defeated once and for all on the cross.
When he had received the drink, Jesus said, “It is finished.” With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.
The sin within us resists rest. We resist it either out of fear of falling behind or fear of being too intimately attune to who we really are and what we really think when the busyness and work around us ceases. However, the spirit of the Lord casts out fear! There is no fear in Jesus. Your needs will be met and you will not be handed a stone when in need of bread. Your needs are known by our father in heaven long before we need them. Our father in heaven is a good father and he merely asks that we trust him and listen to his son, Jesus. Do this and rest. Do this and live.
Sin desires to have you and the wages of sin is death. Sin pursues life as its prey and will go to great lengths to destroy it. Where you find life, you find sin crouching at the door. The lie of the enemy is to dismiss sin as understandable, justifiable and acceptable “human nature.” In fact, it is human nature. However, it is a human nature, a fallen nature, that MUST be changed. It is this human nature that must be forgiven, must be saved and must be born again in the image of the Son of God. The sin within us seeks to please the flesh and the flesh is impatient. The flesh has cravings and those cravings are agitated when left unsatisfied for too long. Without the presence of the Holy Spirit we are willing to destroy in order to satisfy. Without the presence of the Holy Spirit we are prepared to kill the living in order to live a life we deem worth living. It is not God that seeks to destroy life. It is sin and sin will control us if unopposed by the name of Jesus.
When we are not willing to wait we see sin alive in us. It is the unwillingness to wait that reveals are lack of faith in a sovereign God. It is in our unwillingness to wait that we see our lack of fulfillment in the name of Jesus. Patience is not simply controlling our impatient nature. Patience is a confession of faith in Jesus Christ. Patience is a product of the spirit of Jesus transforming us into his image. Patience is a witness to the world and those around us that the promises of Jesus are true. Promises that find their place in the real world with real people with real problems. Patience is unnatural and patience produced by human hands is unsustainable. We must be patient but we must never strive to become patient apart from Jesus. We must seek to become a believer, follower, disciple of Jesus. It is in gazing at the Son of Light that we are then filled with his light and begin to reflect his light into the world. This light is patience by impatient creatures in an ever-increasingly impatient world. How long must I wait? This question is natural but it is not justifiable if we are children of the living God. How can I worship? This is a question that deserves our attention and is worthy of the name of Jesus Christ. It is in these quiet and stationary moments that the Holy Spirit seeks to transform an impatient and restless mind into a sober, thankful child who finds peace in worship. The waiting has a purpose. The waiting is for our benefit. The waiting is necessary. The waiting is the grace of God who knows that we need to rest.
The forgiveness of Christianity should offend people. There is nothing like it and it conflicts and contradicts the world we live in. The forgiveness of Christianity is not normal and we should never understand or accept it as such. The forgiveness of Jesus is everything but normal. It is not how the world works. In fact, it is not how sinful people living in a sinful world tend to want the world to work. It is unfair. It is unjust. The forgiveness of Christianity is meant to divide. It is meant to be Holy and set apart. Do we understand this? Do we believe this? Have we experienced this? Sin strives to accentuate our lust for self-glory and self-power. Forgiveness demands that both be sacrificed daily at the foot of the cross of Jesus Christ. There is no selfish ambition in forgiveness. It is anti-self. Forgiveness is costly and painful and it always will be. It is not something we do naturally. It is in its nature totally unnatural. It is not something we work at and develop. It is something that works within us, in spite of us with all power and glory given to the spirit of Jesus working for us. Forgiveness requires not only a deep understanding of self but also an all-encompassing love and understanding for God. In order to radically forgive as Jesus commands us to we must understand that we are recipients of this forgiveness. We must understand that WE are in need of forgiveness first, not “them.” It is Jesus who loved us first and gave his life for us as a result of OUR sins first, not “theirs.” You have been forgiven. I have been forgiven. You have life not because you did well. You have life because you have been radically forgiven by the grace of God and the life and death of Jesus Christ. In order to radically forgive as Jesus commands us to we must understand that our temporary pain, while painful, is not ultimately about us at all. We live in a broken world and sin is pervasive. You WILL be hurt in this world. Jesus does not hide this reality from us. The glory of God is not revealed in avoiding sin. Sin is here. It is around us and within us. It is in your hurt that the healing of Jesus is revealed. It is in your hurt that the forgiving love and grace of Jesus is revealed. It is in your hurt that the sovereign will of the living God to not only heal our brokenness but to anoint it in order to bless others is revealed. Christian, this is not about you. This is all about Jesus and if he saved the world through forgiveness, should we not be expected to be an extension of that gift?