ODJ: dying for Jesus?

January 10, 2013 

READ: Romans 12:1-2 

I plead with you to give your bodies to God. . . . Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind He will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship Him (v.1).

The director at a missions conference challenged the participants to consider fulltime missionary work—calling for those who were willing to die for Jesus to stand up and to receive prayer. No one did. Discouraged, he complained to the senior pastor. The pastor said, “Don’t fret if no one is willing to die for Jesus. Worry if no one is wanting to live for Jesus!”

In Romans 12 Paul makes a call for radical commitment. “I plead with you to give your bodies to God” (v.1). Paul wasn’t telling us to die for Jesus. He told us to do the reverse—to live for Him! “Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind [God] will find acceptable” (v.1).

In the Old Testament, propitiatory sacrifices (Leviticus 1:4-5) were offered to atone for sin, “making that person right with the Lord” (7:7); and dedicatory sacrifices (Leviticus 2–3) were voluntarily offered “as an expression of thanksgiving . . . as a gift to the Lord” (7:12-14).

Jesus offered Himself as the atoning sacrifice (2 Corinthians 5:21; 1 John 2:2). His physical body was broken for us (Romans 8:3, Colossians 1:22). In response we are often exhorted to give our hearts to Jesus. But here Paul is asking us to offer our physical bodies as dedicatory sacrifices—as thanksgiving offerings to God. They are to be “a living sacrifice”. If you’re grateful, you’ll “give your bodies to God because of all He has done for you” (Romans 12:1).

The demand of discipleship isn’t to die for Jesus but to die to sin and self! (Romans 6:2,10-11, 8:12-13; Colossians 3:5; 1 Peter 2:24). Jesus died to give us new life (Rom. 6:4; 2 Corinthians 5:17). “Those who receive His new life will no longer live for themselves. Instead, they will live for Christ” (5:15). —K.T. Sim

How do you die to sin and self in order to live for Christ? (Romans 6:1-14; Colossians 3:1-10). How do you “honour God with your body”? (1 Corinthians 6:19-20).
In practical terms, what does it mean for you to offer yourself as a “living and holy sacrifice” that is acceptable to Christ? How does Jesus’ sacrifice inspire you to serve Him? 

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ODJ: turning away

January 5, 2013 

READ: 2 Corinthians 7:1-11 

The kind of sorrow God wants us to experience leads us away from sin and results in salvation (v.10).

His tears revealed the sincerity of his sorrow. My young friend, a member of the youth group I work with, was torn up inside. For years he had used drugs. Then he began selling them to others. Now, no longer dealing, his heart was broken as he considered the many children and youth that he turned on to drugs. He saw them sinking into self-destruction and he felt terrible.
We talked about the forgiveness that only God could provide. Some of the key Scriptures we discussed included 2 Corinthians 7:10, which reads, “The kind of sorrow God wants us to experience leads us away from sin and results in salvation”; also, 1 John 1:9: “If we confess our sins to Him, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness.” 

The young man, a believer in Jesus, repented of his sin done to others and to himself. He then acknowledged that he wanted to forever turn away from using drugs (something he has continued to do). The repentance he displayed is the type that the apostle Paul wrote about to the church at Corinth—a true, spiritual repentance. Paul wrote, “There’s no regret for that kind of sorrow. But worldly sorrow, which lacks repentance, results in spiritual death” (2 Corinthians 7:10).

By God’s grace we don’t have to live in worldly sorrow. It can be devastating (see what Judas did in Matthew 27:3-6). It’s a sorrow that doesn’t lead us to repent but to attempt to deal with issues in our own power—something futile and harmful.

God calls us to repent and turn away from our sin. Doing so will be revealed in our ‘earnestness’, ‘concern’, ‘indignation’, ‘alarm’, ‘zeal’, and ‘readiness’ before Him. This turning away is all about doing “everything necessary to make things right” (2 Corinthians 7:11). —Tom Felten

Note what Peter said to a person in need of repentance (Acts 8:22-23). Why is it important for us to turn away from sin in genuine repentance? 
What do you need to bring to God in repentance? What does it mean for you to ‘turn away’ from your sin once you’ve confessed it to Him?

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The Perfect Gift

By Cindy Tan, Malaysia

Jesus Christ was conceived miraculously by the Holy Spirit and born of a virgin. His life was unique. As a man, He lived in our world yet He was without sin. His death was also unusual. He died but the grave could not keep Him there. He rose from the dead. Jesus did not live and die just to set a good example for man; He came to be the Savior of the world.

Jesus said that He came “to seek and to save what was lost” (Luke 19:10). The Bible tells us that “all have sinned” (Romans 3:23) and that “the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23). We cannot escape from the judgment of sin on our own; we need a redeemer—one who is without sin. Out of love for His created world, God took on the onus of redeeming sinful man from the tyranny of sin, not with money or any other way, but with the precious blood of His own Son.

The true meaning of Christmas is about the coming of Christ into the world. It is about the Son of God, who existed eternally with the Father as “the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of His being” (Hebrews 1:3a). It is about the coming of a Son of Man named Jesus in whom “all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form” (Colossians 2:9). It is about the Messiah who “did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many” (Matthew 20:28). It is about the coming of the “fullness of time” that had been prophesied by the prophets of old that:
– A Ruler would be born in Bethlehem (Micah 5:2)
– A Child would be born and He would be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6)
– The Messiah, the anointed One, a shoot from the stem of Jesse, a son of David, a King would come (Isaiah 11:1-4; Zechariah 9:9)

Today, we remember the perfect gift of God to man—JESUS CHRIST, SAVIOUR and LORD. He is the ONE who will give Christmas its true meaning. Have you received this gift of Christ in your heart?

The Essence of Christmas

Submitted by Cioloca Tabita, 16, Romania