Tuesday, December 8, 2009

A Love Sacrifice

This came in today from

Dear Friends,

Through God's grace, your support, and the work at C28, over 14,000 people have prayed to receive Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. We have prayed with thousands of people and have witnessed countless answered prayers. In addition, millions of shirts with God's scriptures have been circulated that glorify God and communicate the grace and truth of Jesus. Please know that we are grateful for your continued support this year, and we trust and pray that you can celebrate the birth of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ freely this Christmas!

With all the changes going on in this world, I wanted to share a few things with you that I personally need to change in my life. What I mean is, I try doing good 'deeds', but often find myself messing things up. There are times where I simply fall short of doing 'right', leading me to subconsciously want to make it up to God somehow. I already know that getting right with God only comes through faith in Jesus, and not by mere "good works". So why do we all try at one time or another to somehow sacrifice our way further into God's grace?

SACRIFICES As believers we know that Jesus was the best, truest and only sufficient sacrifice for our sins for a Holy and Righteous God. Knowing this fact means that all other sacrifices are like filthy rags before God. In the Old Testament we learn what God thinks about our human attempts to get right with Him and our countless righteous acts. "All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away." Isaiah 64:6 The great thing about God is that He does not require sacrifices from us to get right with Him. To receive His mercy and grace requires our faith in His Son Jesus. All the sacrifices in the world cannot take away our sins, all the righteous acts in the world cannot give us a clean conscious, but only through God's grace can we have our sins and guilt removed. God simply wants us to come as we are (messed up and broken) and believe in Jesus and He will wash us clean and make us right with Him forever. Talk about abundant love!

GOOD SACRIFICES On the other hand, did you know that we are called to offer our bodies as living sacrifices, as our spiritual act of worship? "Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship." Romans 12:1-2 While God does not require or want our sacrifices in order for us to receive His mercy and grace, He desires "good works" from us as a response to His mercy and grace. Once we are saved by faith in Christ alone, our purpose is then to fulfill the work that God has created us to do. "For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do." Ephesians 2:8-10 God also knows our fallen natures so well that He considers our praise of His name as an actual sacrifice. To praise God continually in all things is a worthy sacrifice. You see, to actually praise God does not come natural to us because we often want to praise our own names instead. We often want to receive credit for ourselves, and not give any credit away. Our praise of His name is received by God as a worthy sacrifice---WOW! "Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise—the fruit of lips that confess his name." Hebrews 13:15 Will you praise God today for His mercy and His grace in your life? Will you praise God in front of others when you accomplish great things or go through challenging trials? So remember, since we have experienced God's grace, we then should sacrifice for our Lord Jesus by loving Him first, loving others and praising His Name in all things.

BEST SACRIFICE IS LOVE The Apostle Paul tells us that "the" best sacrifice God wants from us is to live our lives in love. "Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God." Ephesians 5:1-2 Are we loving the unlovable? Do we love those who irritate us, or do we only love those who love us and make us happy? "If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that?" Matthew 5:46 The love that God wants from us most is the love we show the unlovable. Have we forgiven those who have sinned against us? Have you ever asked someone that you have wronged "Will you forgive me?” instead of just saying "I'm sorry"? There is a significant difference. "Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift." Matthew 5:23-24 How often do we pray and God does not listen? Could it be that our prayers are not being answered because we have not forgiven others who have wronged us? We cannot cover up our unloving words and our sinful behavior by our generous offerings, impressive ceremonies, going to weekly Bible studies or by going to church every Sunday. Disharmony with God or with other people makes our spiritual victories impossible. "Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect as the weaker partner and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing will hinder your prayers." 1 Peter 3:7

LOVING THE UNLOVABLE How many of us can love our enemies? Did you know that Jesus died for His enemies? How many of us can actually love our friends and family, the ones who usually know how to irritate us the most, the ones who have wronged us over and over again? "You have heard that it was said, 'Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you," Matthews 5:42-44 What Jesus is saying to us is to love our parents, our spouses, our kids, our friends, and others even if they have wronged us 77 times. To love our neighbors or bosses even if they have wronged us 77 times is a sacrifice worth doing. "...'Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?' Jesus answered, "I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times." Matthew 18:21-23 When was the last time we forgave someone 77 times? If we can forgive others, God receives that from us as a real sacrifice! This is the kind of sacrifice that He wants. Imagine that—forgiving and loving others is a sacrifice pleasing to God! "And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased." Hebrews 13:16 If Jesus has forgiven you, then can you forgive others? To actually forgive and love a person is our sacrifice to God. Amazing!

FORGIVENESS AND LOVE Without forgiveness toward others, you show no real trust in God; if there is no trust then there is no love for God; and without love we quench the Holy Spirit's fire. Don’t just learn about God's Word and not actually do what it says. "always learning but never able to acknowledge the truth." 2 Timothy 3:7 Let's not keep merely listening to God's Word and say we are Christians, but let's do what God wants. "Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says." James 1:22 As hard as it is to forgive, as hard as it is to love, let us ask God to strengthen our faith by helping us love those who do not deserve our love. Are you holding onto what you consider a big offense, recent hurt or maybe a multitude of pain? Just let it go and give it all to God. He is the true healer and restorer of all pain. The Bible says that love keeps no record of wrongs. So what is love and why is it so difficult to love others? Love requires God's Holy Spirit to be working through us, or love is impossible. Only through obedience and trusting God can we truly love: if we wait to love because we finally feel like it, what good is that? "Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails..." 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 And here is the amazing thing, God loves you even though you have wronged other people and have wronged Him a million times over!!! If you have wronged God, you can repent and seek His forgiveness right this second. It is okay, God still loves you. After everything is said and done, the Bible defines love in many places, but true love is only complete when it's written on our hearts :-)

GOD ALWAYS LOVES YOU If you have not forgiven or loved people like you should have, do not worry. Simply ask God to forgive you and show you how to love others as yourself and He will be faithful. Even though we have all rejected Him, questioned Him, not believed in Him 100% and not always obeyed and trusted Him fully, know that it is for these very reasons why Jesus had to pay the price for our sins by His death on the cross. God is love, and He waits for us to come to Him in repentance. Whoever you are, if you are not right with God, just ask Him for His forgiveness. He will listen to you and forgive you no matter what you have done in the past. He will hold onto to you no matter what. When we seek Him with all of our strength we will find Him because He is always there waiting with open arms. Let the God of mercy and grace reach out to you right now, let Him come to you and love you. "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest... for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls." Matthew 11:27-29 Will you go to Him with praise and thanksgiving, knowing His grace is abundant and made just right for you? :-)
In His Grace,

Aurelio F. Barreto III, FOUNDER & CEO
169 Radio Road, Corona, CA 92879 www.c28.com   aurelio@c28.com
"...And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can they preach unless they are sent? As it is written, "How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!" ...Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ." Romans 10:14-17

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