Sunday, April 19, 2009

Living Sacrifices

This is a message given by a dear friend of mine - please read and give it some thought.


LIVING SACRIFICES
BY
JONAH OF NINEVAH

I bring greetings to you from a distant land in the name of The Living
Lord, the only hope for our dying and hopeless world. My special thanks
for the pastor and the mission committee for their kind invitation for
me to come and speak to you this evening. After watching video, all
memories have become real alive to me - each time I watch and go through
this pain. But this evening we want to focus our attention on those who
have paid very heavy price and are still paying. Perhaps you do not
realize four hundred people are dying every single day - four hundred of
them. So today you saw the curtains are drawn and we are so privileged
to come here and worship openly with so much light, but then there are
people who are praying and worshipping in darkness - because they are
afraid that somebody may come to know who these people are who are
sitting and praying. Would you please stand in their darkness with me?

Our Gracious Heavenly Father, as we stand - one family - before
the throne of our Living God, in the righteousness of Our Lord, we stand
and approach your throne, knowing that there are so many people who are
not as privileged as people of this land are - we want to return thanks
for many blessings that you have given to us, blessings that we are able
to count and blessings that are hidden from us. And, Lord, there are so
many things that does not make any sense, and as we stand in this
darkness with our brothers and sisters around the world, I pray that we
will be sending a strong message that we are one, we have one Lord, we
have one Baptism, we have one Hope, and we are all saved by the same
Grace by the same blood which is shed on the cross - so we are
blood-related brothers and sisters. As we focus this evening, I pray,
Father, that you will speak to each one of us, help us to understand
what it means to take part in your suffering. In Jesus' most precious
name - we offer our evening prayer - Amen.

Before I go and share what I believe the Lord has put on my heart, I
have to share a very personal thing. I just got news about - as you can
tell I am a very emotional person. I know in your country you say that
only weak man cries - the strong man should not cry, and I think the
other way around, and I justify my tears differently because I say only
strong man can cry - weak man knows how to hold his tears. Jesus was
not a weak man, yet he cried. It takes a strong man to cry. When you
hear the news that your brother's daughter is raped, gang-raped,
teen-age girl. Rape takes place all over the world, my friend, I know
that - you know that. But nobody rapes you because you are Christian -
because you believe in Jesus - that's why you are raped. So when you
admit terrible pain that your own brother's teenage daughter is raped,
because you are actively involved in evangelism - in outreach to Muslim,
then it becomes very painful. You leave the phone down and there's
another phone - another brother is kicked out from his job because they
said that he is very actively involved in evangelism - he should not be
here. And when he reaches home, he discovered that somebody came and
burned everything - whatever belongs to his house - so his wife and
children were waiting outside, waiting for their comfort. When you are
finished with this news, another phone call comes and says one of your
close friend, a medical Dr., while he was operating, trying to save
somebody else's life, the fundamentalists came and put 35 bullets in his
body. And whatÌs his crime??? because he has put his life in the hands
of The Lord. And I can go on and on and share many stories.

There are people who are meeting in the darkness, as I said before,
because they are afraid. Each Friday when we meet, my mouth is dry - I
don't know who is there. And I don't know what will happen in the
middle of the meeting or in the end of the meeting. But you still
preach Christ. In my country 30 - 65 thousand - (the video said 30
thousand, but the real news is over 60 thousand) people attacked two
Christian villages, and they burned everything that belongs to
Christians .
We learned some new methods of evangelism that Muslims are using to
spread Islam. They took their wives and mothers in front of their
children and their husband, pulling their breasts, biting their lips and
their cheeks, and forcing them to become Muslim.

That's not easy to witness on daily basis!

They burned 1,500 Christians homes and 15 churches, Salvation Army
center, one medical clinic, Bible, songbooks, instruments and whatever
else was in these churches. They take young girls and then they kept
them for many days. My friend, 100 million Christians are martyred. In
20th century - this is the biggest crime that we know! Whenever we
think of martyrism, our mind goes to the first century Christian, and we
always think that the Christians were martyred at that time and that is
true. But what if I tell you this? More people are martyred in this
century than put all the nineteen centuries together!!! Is that
difficult to believe? Everything is documented, all you have to do is
go and check the sources - and not just the Christian sources. Even the
secular media is now crying - ReaderÌs Digest and other newspapers and
not the Christian or the Jew, but also the Muslim is saying what is
going on with the Christians - in the last seven years - it's
unbelievable. But on the other hand, if I tell you that more Muslims
have become Christian in the last 25 years than put all the 1500 years
together - so you can see - both things are going side by side.

It's a heavy price - pain is real. But who said there would be no
pain? Pain is very important for our growth - let me remind you of the
situation. Our Lord has said to many people - "Don't be afraid".
Remember these words? Different individual - different people - he said
"Don't be afraid". Come with Dr. Luke - according to his gospel. I am
saying from his gospel so you know who is writing what - Dr. Luke says
when our Lord was in the garden, His sweat was turning into drops of
blood - The One who used to tell other people - Don't be afraid. You
see how real the pain is, my friend? What was the whole purpose of Our
Lord coming to this Earth - crucifixion, redemption, and how many time
did He talk to His disciples, about the crucifixion, about the suffering
and about the pain that He has to go through? And when He was in the
garden, what was His prayer - "... if this cup can pass away..." - One
who used to tell other people - "Don't be afraid".

You see the pain - you see the reality of pain? It's real.

But then how do you respond when you are in that kind of a situation?
There is one American way - and that is, why me, Lord? If I was in my
own country I would say - why me, Lord? Perhaps you have heard these
words before. Maybe with your own lips. I want to remind you as we are
going to focus on the suffering church around the world, this is not the
right response to pain.

The real response to pain is, "Not my will - your will".

But you see, we want our will to be done on earth and we want other will
to be done in Heaven. Although we pray "that your will be done on Earth
as it is in Heaven", but sometimes the words we utter are a little
different. For us, we are still fighting the same war - we are still
fighting the same idea. Nothing has changed - we are still asking the
same question, brethren, should we decide - should we obey God or
should we obey man? The choice is not any difference. If I was present
when the Lord said... and believe this account in the Acts of the
apostle, Chapter 1- verse 8 - you are very familiar with the word in
this verse - Lord is speaking to His disciple and saying, "You will be
my witnesses..." and then He gave the list - "... Jerusalem, Judea,
Samaria, end of the Earth", remember that part? And, by the way- the
word, which is translated in English language - the "witness" comes from
the root word - the Greek word, which means "martyr". So, when you are
witness, then you are martyr. That is the word and that is the meaning
it carries. And at that moment if I was present when Jesus gave this
priority list, and if He put Jerusalem on top of the list, I would have
interrupted Him by saying this, "Lord, with all due respect, I love you
and I trust you, and I have to ask you for your forgiveness because I
never believed anybody would crucify you, even though you have talked so
many times that I would go through this pain and agony, but when I saw
that you were able to bring sight to the blind - when I saw your great
hand touching the leper and instant healing took place - I never
believed anyone can lay hand on you and will get away with it - because
you are powerful. You have amazing teaching and wonderful power - no
man can lay hand on you - but then I saw that they came and they
arrested you, they made you naked - they put lashes to your body - they
spit on your face - they rejected you - they nailed you to a cross and
you did nothing - I was amazed. But then I also remember you said that
you will come back to life. I never wholeheartedly believed that, till I
saw the mark, I put my finger there. Then because it was so real I was
able to see and believe. And then from last forty days we are meeting
often, so many times you have given us instructions. You have prepared
breakfast for us, you have done so many things for us and it has given
me a lot of hope and strength. But due apology to you Lord, have you
forgotten what the people of Jerusalem have done to you just forty days
ago? Or is your memory too short? In spite of you doing everything good
for the people of Jerusalem - in the town, what did you get? They
rejected you. They nail you to the cross. You want us/ me to go back to
the same city of Jerusalem? Come on! Don't joke like this with us! Send
me to America, I am willing to suffer the cross of luxury. But donÌt
send me to Jerusalem. You know why? Because people are so cruel, they
have no head on their shoulder, they are so fundamentalist, they will
never believe us."
How many people came up with that argument? Nobody - do you know why?
Because they knew what Jesus has just said. Everyone understood the
price tag and they went back with great joy. Because they knew the price
tag. My friend, for martyrism is not new to us, we are used to it, but
the problem comes when other brothers and sisters do not care! Four
hundred people are getting killed every day - women and children are
sold in slavery, gang-rapes are taking place, people are crucified. Who
cares?! We have our own stress, we are so busy. We have learned our
golden principle to mind our own business. We will mind our own
business when people are going to hell??? Are we not part of the same
body? Are we not brothers and sisters? When are you going to break the
silence? My friend, it is time to break the silence, it is time to
speak up both to the Lord, by applying the ground rule of The Kingdom of
God and that is to ask. Moses must learn to keep his hands up, and if
his hands get tired, somebody must hold his hand, why? Because the
victory will come, but Moses must ask for it. Fire will come from heaven
and will consume the sacrifice, but Elijah must ask for it, why?
Because it is ground rule in The Kingdom of God and that is to ask, and
I can go on and on and on.
When our Lord was here, even He was not exempted by that rule - even He
has to ask. So who are you and who am I? We have to apply the same
rule of The Kingdom of God and that is to ask on behalf of our suffering
brothers and sisters.
I would like to close this time with a verse from Romans 12, the first
and second verses. It says, "Therefore, I urge you, brethren, in the
view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and
pleasing to God, this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform
any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the
renewing of your mind. Then, you will be able to test and approve what
GodÌs will is, His good, pleasing and perfect will."
You are Christian for so many years, perhaps, or maybe you are new
Christian. If somebody ask you what it mean, why Paul had this idea to
present your body as "living sacrifice". Because sacrifice to my mind -
they are two opposite word - One is sacrifice, another one is living.
If
I have animal or goat or sheep or lamb, and if I am going to sacrifice
that lamb, what do I have to do? I have to use a knife, and when I cut
the throat the blood is out- the animal is dead, but the sacrifice is
performed. But if I keep the animal alive, then sacrifice is not
performed, so what is our brother, Paul, having in mind when he said, "I
urge you..." (in my culture when somebody use that language, the
picture that comes to my mind - Brother, I have a very clear image in my
mind - I beg you, I fold my hand, I go on my knees and I request you
whatever I am going to say, please pay attention and listen to this, and
that is that "You must present your body" and it is the word "presenting
your body as living" and then yet "sacrifice" at the same time. Paul, I
cannot understand this. What do you mean by living and yet sacrifice?

If somebody asked you this question what would you say? You know, in
the East, we have story for everything. Whatever question you ask, I
will tell you one little story before I come to the real point. Because
we are always accused, in the East, we beat around the bush. And you
have the bottom line, you come straight to the point. You know what you
are saying and what you are doing, because you have the daytimer - you
can read it and you can just talk it. We have no notes - we have no
daytimers, and we just beat around the bush. And we learned that art
from Jesus - believe me. Each time the question was asked to Our Lord,
he never, ever answered the American way. He always started beating
around the bush. Remember one time the question was asked to Him, "Is
it lawful to pay tax to the Roman government?" I truly feel that the
church has never understood that answer from the last so many years. I
sometime, in love, jokingly say I have moneyback guarantee that you have
never understood the answer that Jesus gave. That was 2,000 years ago.
I am cutting all other details because of the time factor - that is
another thing that is culturally very different - everything is
according to the time. Jesus said, "Show me the coin". When the coin
was shown to Him, remember He never answered by itself. Again, He
started beating around the bush. And He said, "Whose image is that?"
Don't tell me that Jesus had no idea whose image is that. He asked
them, so I ask you. Whose image was that? And what did Jesus say after
that? "Give back to Caesar what belongs to Caesar and give back to God
what belongs to God". What do you think He was saying? You know the
story - you know the answers. He was beating around the bush, and I
want to read in between the line and put this statement in the cultural
perspective so these words will become real. Jesus is saying, "Whose
image is this?" And they came up with the correct answer. And they look
- and they thought, and they openly said Caesar's image. And what He is
saying, "Whose image are you?" He was not talking about 10% - He was
not talking about the money part. And could you help me to understand
whose image are you? God's! So, this is what I find - because it is
beating around the bush, you never saw that perhaps before, And Jesus
is saying, "...and whose image are you?" Give back to God what belongs
to God. Does that make sense? It is total surrender to Jesus. It is
total commitment to Him. You are the image of God - therefore, give
back to God what belongs to God. You know, Caesar always take more than
it deserves, and if you donÌt pay Uncle Sam, you know what will happen.
Uncle Sam always take what belongs to him, but it is God who is often
not fully paid. So, this evening my challenge to you is - you are the
image of God. In the view of mercies of God, what God had done for you
through Jesus Christ on the cross, that what He is with one sentence, he
is connecting us from the Old Testament all the way to the cross. In
the view of the mercies of God, I urge you, brethren, to present your
body as living sacrifice and the story part is - you remember Abraham.
And you remember his son, Isaac, and you remember God ask him, Abraham,
present your son, your beloved son, Isaac, the only son, Isaac, the
promised one, as a burnt offering. And now I want you to imagine very
quickly - I am going to unfold what Paul had in mind when he was saying
"living and sacrifice" and that is the secret that I want to share with
you by this story which is not a fairy-tale. It's a real story. We are
Bible-believing people. We believe that it actually took place. And my
friend, imagine even if you are a woman, imagine you are Abraham and
God's voice comes to you and asks you and then you take the name of your
son whom you love so much, the only promised son, and remember in what
age you have got that son - and now tell your wife what you have heard
from God. You know your wife more than I do. Can you hear what she is
saying to you? Let her talk to your mother-in-law over the phone, and
can you hear what your mother-in-law has to say to you, and your
father-in-law is going to place a call to your parents. And can you
hear what your own father and mother has to say about this wonderful
idea that you have from God? And let somebody inform your neighbor,
and then let someone call 911 - and see what sheriff has to say. I
place these things before you only so you understand that it was not
that simple - it is easy to read - it is very easy to talk, but apply
that to yourself and the living sacrifice will become real to you.
Where you do not question God, where you whole-heartedly surrender and
even believe that if I put my son on the wood, on the altar, and kill
him - God is able to raise him back from the dead. We need that kind of
a faith, we need that kind of a commitment - total commitment - to
spread The Gospel, in the changing world today. They take the journey -
three days, two servants. They reach place - that mountain, servants
are there - Isaac is going with the Dad, saying, "Dad, we have the fire,
we have the wood, we have the knife - where is the lamb?" He was so
excited we were going to worship, and you know what father said, "Son,
God will provide." Now I am not talking about Abraham - if I was
taking my son, I would burst into tears - I may even give the same
answer - "ÏGod will provide", but then the time comes. Abraham prepared
many altar before, but this was special. He placed every stone with lot
of respect and care - you know why? He was going to place Isaac on it
today - it was not just another offering. He was going to place his own
life on the altar. When everything was ready, father said to son,
"Son, remember so many time you asked "Where is the lamb'?" "Yes, Dad,
I wanted to know where is the lamb"
"Son, you are the lamb"
Now before you thought as Abraham, even if you are a woman, young boy or
girl - think like a son. Imagine your father has said this to you, and
be very honest- put you hand here and then answer. Will you not run?
Will you not struggle with your father? Will you not push your father
from the cliff? Will you not call 911 you know there are people down,
they love you more - and they will come and rescue you from your
father. It was not just the father - it was son, too. "Dad, why are
you crying?" It seems like he placed his own life on the altar. But
for his own convenience, father put rope around so the son would not
struggle. And then you know what happened afterwards - he had a knife
in his hands. And it was all out to slay his own son. When Isaac went
on the altar, like he was dead to himself - like he was dead to his
North American dream - he was dead to his Hebrew dream. He was dead to
his present, he was dead to his past and completely trusted his father
and placed his life in the hands of his father - what a worship! What a
commitment - what kind of a sacrifice - he was dead to himself! But as
God provided the lamb, and as Isaac climbed down from the altar, he
became a "living sacrifice". What was my promise to you? I will
explain by giving you story , what it mean to present your body as
living sacrifice. You see, sacrifice is accepted by God almighty. Now
I know that you love and trust me - I have accepted your son's offering
- do not lay your hand on the boy. And as he climbed down, can you see
the reunion and the joy? Are you there with your father as a son, and
are you there as father - in that fellowship? My friend, I can go and
explain few other stories to make the same point. But there is one
special thing- there were three things they were carrying - verse 6 -
of chapter 22 of Genesis - says that father cut the wood and he placed
on son. Son was carrying his own wood - there were two other things
that father was carrying - knife and fire - that father had. But son
was carrying the wood. Nothing happened to your system when you hear
this. No picture comes to your mind when you hear this - that son
always carry the wood? Son always carry the wood. Rather, does
Abraham's son or God's own son - you have to carry your own wood. And
even today in the midst of suffering, my friend - our challenge is,
"Don't be afraid of those who can just kill your body, but you should be
afraid of the one who can kill your body and soul. And He is saying I
am sending you as sheep to the wolf - what is your imagination to - of a
sheep and a wolf? Do you think they will have a red-carpet treatment or
the wolf will say. "Have a wonderful party"? We have a very clear
mandate - make no mistake. We are facing real challenge. We are
meeting real people - we are meeting the real danger, but that was from
day one. I hope, that you will be able to understand the persecution is
real.
I was standing absolutely naked in front of 15-20 people, all night.
And I was going through the kind of pain that I would not publicly be
able to confess. It took two months to talk to my dear wife of what
happened that night. I have gone through much pain and suffering, so I
know what I am saying. You have freedom here - will you still mind your
own business? Are you not your brother's keeper? Will you present your
body as living sacrifice that you would A"surrender all" to Him? It's
easy to sing - very difficult to carefully examine what you are about to
sing.
Let us pray. I know you will close your eyes, but would you please keep
your eyes open and look up and put your hands like this, I believe there
are many ways to pray. One way to heaven - many ways to pray. And I
hope you will accept my way of prayer.
Father, we come before Your throne. This evening we only heard
little bit, but there is so much more which is going on. We cannot
understand
what it mean to our brothers and sisters and children and women who are
paying very heavy price, and how can we even rest - we pray, that you
will forgive us for our selfishness, you will help us to focus on you,
that as family member, we will not keep quiet - that we will break the
silence. In Jesus' most precious name - I offer the evening prayers.
Amen

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