Ephesians 4:7-16: Spiritual gifts –summary of permanent gifts (giving God your best), part 4.
length: 71:55 - taught on Dec, 16 2021
Thursday December 16, 2021
Love of God leads a believer to honor all that is of God and from God.
Thus says the Lord, your Redeemer, and the one who formed you from the womb,
"I, the Lord, am the maker of all things,
Stretching out the heavens by Myself,
And spreading out the earth all alone,
25 Causing the omens of boasters to fail,
Making fools out of diviners,
Causing wise men to draw back,
And turning their knowledge into foolishness,
I recommend a thoughtful reading of this entire psalm.
O Lord, how many are Thy works!
In wisdom Thou hast made them all;
The earth is full of Thy possessions.
25 There is the sea, great and broad,
In which are swarms without number,
Animals both small and great.
26 There the ships move along,
And Leviathan, which Thou hast formed to sport in it.
27 They all wait for Thee,
To give them their food in due season.
28 Thou dost give to them, they gather it up;
Thou dost open Thy hand, they are satisfied with good.
29 Thou dost hide Thy face, they are dismayed;
Thou dost take away their spirit, they expire,
And return to their dust.
30 Thou dost send forth Thy Spirit, they are created;
And Thou dost renew the face of the ground.
31 Let the glory of the Lord endure forever;
Let the Lord be glad in His works;
If the lover of God knows that something comes from God, even if he doesn’t quite understand its significance, he honors it. The one who doesn’t love God dishonors the things in the world that are from God, and in the same way the skeptics criticize God’s word with thin and baseless claims, and those who accept those claims also do not revere God. Because they don’t revere God, they do not fear any consequences for treating His word as common and of little value.
We are still in the pursuit of the answer to the question of why we should give God our best. We are made new by God through the cross of Christ. The Trinity is our Creator and the Son is our Savior and they have made us righteous sons and daughters, each of which is a royal priest in the service of the Father and the High Priest Jesus Christ.
Let’s spend a little time looking at the sacrifices of the pagan cultures who did not know God. It will tell us something about the fallen human nature that every believer has been delivered from.
God required animal sacrifice from men right from the beginning (Cain and Abel), but the offering meant something significant as the Lord explained to Cain. He told Cain that “sin was crouching at the door,” when Cain brought the fruit of the ground, which was the fruit of his great effort to bring forth good bounty from a cursed earth. It was the wrong offering.
Athenian amphora 550 B.C.
When God promised Israel that He was going to drive out the Canaanites from the land and give the Promised Land to them, He warned them: “lest you make a covenant with the inhabitants of the land and they play the harlot with their gods, and sacrifice to their gods, and someone invite you to eat of his sacrifice; 16 and you take some of his daughters for your sons, and his daughters play the harlot with their gods, and cause your sons also to play the harlot with their gods. 17 You shall make for yourself no molten gods” (EXO 34:15-17).
The Gentile nations had been offering animals to their gods long before the Law was given to Moses.
It would make sense that the cultures that sprung from the original parents, and eventually through Noah and his sons, who left behind faith in Yavah Elohim, would also adopt animal sacrifices something like what God had demanded from the beginning. Many peoples descended into the worship of false gods, but still kept animal sacrifice, along with other sacrifices. Their sacrifices were not for honoring a truth about the true God, namely His redemption of man, but to appease the false gods who were more creature than god. So there developed gods of sky and earth and fertility, etc., who would provide their specific skill set if they were properly paid off, so to speak.
One way of looking at this is the action of the old fallen creature doing what he can to improve his station in life.
Is a sacrifice to a false god in the hope of having healthy kids or enough crops that much different than the modern man who gives his allegiance to something worldly that promises security and prosperity? It’s not rebellious to have a job and depend upon an employer for the money needed to survive, but it is rebellious to not know that everything a man needs is dependent upon his Creator. Does modern man have his own idols, though they are not carved from wood or stone? Money, status, university, profession, appearance, power, a house, toys (boat, car, etc.), children, sports, entertainment, chemical substances, and more make up modern idols that man bows to and sacrifices to in the hope of receiving joy and fulfillment. Is it enough for a man to have his needs met and forget his Creator?
“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; 21 for where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.”
“Do not be anxious then, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'With what shall we clothe ourselves?' 32 "For all these things the Gentiles eagerly seek; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. 33 But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added to you. 34 Therefore do not be anxious for tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”
And in the case of Israel, if they got along well enough while offering God their leftovers (Mal 1), then why not? The end game in life is comfortability and a good standing in society, isn’t it?
Why should we give God our best? Our Lord made every believer righteous and holy, imputed with eternal life, at the moment of salvation. He made us His own in Christ and made us His priests and temple and body. We are born-again, eternal, destined for heaven, the new humanity, elected sons and daughters, and more; and royal priests. We were all born into this world to serve ourselves, and we who have believed in Christ have been born-again to serve our Lord. He is the way, the truth, and the life.
The servants of the Lord, made fit by Him through His cross, would serve Him fully, and in great joy.
A man can be a good person, according to the general rules of society. He can get along well, have a good standing in the community, and be an all-around nice person, but he can still be a rebel against his Creator. All of these things, even his easy and nice disposition, that he takes credit for being his own, are actually gifts from God, and they are natural good things like clean water and sunshine, but being natural, they will end. All the world is going to be burned up to nothing.
It is when we recognize that every good thing in our lives is a gift from God, and that the ability to overcome the bad things is also a gift from God, we will think of all of the good in terms of service to God. Think of any gift you have from God, life itself, should it be used for yourself or for the One who gave it? Is it yours or His? It turns out that only when you offer the gift back to God in His service, according to His will, that it then becomes yours as a gift. Nothing good is ours, and when we try to keep them for ourselves, we are sure to lose them.
Rich or poor, popular or scorned, intelligent and ignorant, all need God. The rich, popular, and intelligent man may be content with the ease to which things come to him, and if he does, he is in danger of forgetting that at every moment he is totally dependent on God. Are the good things your own doing?
I think God would have had to do away with free-will if He was going to make all of us poor, nasty, and wretched. It is not that the poor have a better opportunity than the rich, but the Lord did tell us that it was hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom, and He did say blessed are the poor, but not all the poor know their need for God, nor are all the rich ignorant of their need of Him. There is nothing wrong with being wealthy, or having an easy life, or having a personality and appearance, blessed with attractiveness; so says God, but to the wealthy and naturally blessed He says, “What do you have that you haven’t received?” There is nothing wrong with being poor or low in society, but to them God says, “I will freely give you all things.” In the end, every creature is a rebellious sinner who needs God’s salvation and life.
Christ came to find the lost sheep, the poor, but we must realize that we are all that (rich and poor), but not all of us think so.
"There is none righteous, not even one;
11 There is none who understands,
There is none who seeks for God;
All of us like sheep have gone astray,
Each of us has turned to his own way;
But the Lord has caused the iniquity of us all
To fall on Him.
God convicts the world that they are sinners. Somehow He does this to every man (JOH 16:8), but not everyone is convinced.
The people who will not listen to God’s supernatural convincing, who have many reasons to believe that Jesus is not the Christ and that the Father did not send Him, or that we do not need saving by Him, and they are encouraged by others who think like them as well as theories of life and the natural world that encourage them; they are all evading the issue. They know nothing of other people’s souls, nor of God, but there is one soul in all of creation that they do know; and it is the only one whose fate is placed in their hands.
[C.S. Lewis] “If there is a God, you are, in a sense, alone with Him. You cannot put Him off with speculation about your next door neighbors or memories of what you have read in books. What will all that chatter and hearsay count (will you even be able to remember it?) when the anesthetic fog which we call “nature” or “the real world” fades away and the Presence in which you have always stood becomes palpable, immediate, and unavoidable?” [C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity, book 4, chap. 10]
A world filled with nice people will be better by far than a world filled with criminals, but the nice world will still need saving. A man in God’s image separated from his holy and righteous Creator by sin will have to be judged.
God is much more than natural things. He is holy and righteous. When Christ told us to be perfect as our Father is perfect, He wasn’t kidding. He told us to be perfect because He was going to make us perfect. So then, naturally, though it is still a decision of will, we give Him our best because He made us just like that.
Now, with all that we’ve said about the reason why we must give God our all and our best, we return to Mal 1.
"'A son honors his father, and a servant his master. Then if I am a father, where is My honor? And if I am a master, where is My respect?' says the Lord of hosts to you, O priests who despise My name. But you say, 'How have we despised Thy name?' 7 "You are presenting defiled food upon My altar. But you say, 'How have we defiled Thee?' In that you say, 'The table of the Lord is to be despised.' 8 "But when you present the blind for sacrifice, is it not evil? And when you present the lame and sick, is it not evil? Why not offer it to your governor? Would he be pleased with you? Or would he receive you kindly?" says the Lord of hosts. 9 "But now will you not entreat God's favor, that He may be gracious to us? With such an offering on your part, will He receive any of you kindly?" says the Lord of hosts.
Do we want a church that gives God our left-overs? God says that it would be better to close the doors.
Oh that there were one among you who would shut the gates, that you might not uselessly kindle fire on My altar! I am not pleased with you," says the Lord of hosts, "nor will I accept an offering from you.
Not only does this mean that it would be better for the doors to be shut rather than sustain this terrible practice, but also it is a call for someone to have the courage to stand up against this corruption. It is much like God calling Jeremiah to stand in the busiest part of the temple on a busy holiday or Sabbath day and loudly speak God’s message of condemnation for their sin.
Then God says, don’t worry, there are believers in the world somewhere honoring Me.
"For from the rising of the sun, even to its setting, My name will be great among the nations, and in every place incense is going to be offered to My name, and a grain offering that is pure; for My name will be great among the nations," says the Lord of hosts.