She was laid to rest in her Sunday best, lying on an ornamental bed. The 16-year-old’s remains were revealed last week in a village outside Cambridge, England. What’s remarkable? She was wearing a cross and she died in the middle 600’s.
Scientists are astonished, theologians will take note. A young teenage girl’s body revealed last week in a grave outside Cambridge, England. The discovery brought multiple surprises. First, this Anglo Saxon girl was wearing a cross at a time when Britons were thought to be pagans. The Vikings were just beginning to strike the west coast of England. Cambridge was safe, but not thought to be Christian. She died not long after 40 missionaries had shown up in the south, in Kent, with a leader named Augustine - not the same one - with the task of bringing the Gospel to what was thought a very uncivilized island. Welcome to HT, I’m CM sharing the GS that’s all about Jesus. When England was still Anglo Saxon pagan, it certainly appears this 16-year-old girl was a Christ follower who wore an ornate, inch-wide cross to the grave as proof that she was following the Lord. Probably dying from the plague, can you hear Jesus speaking to her on arrival from death to life with the words, “well done good and faithful servant”. Do you look forward to Jesus greeting you with those same words some day to come? God says in 1 Samuel, “Those who honor me, I will honor.”
As we begin a new week together, I have a suggestion. If you’re like me, you need a constant reminder from God’s Word and from God’s Spirit that He is sufficient. If you’re like me, you spend more time thinking how you live your life, how you can solved the problems you face, whether they are great or small. We both reminders that’s God’s grace is sufficient. We have a book I want you to have. 31 Christ-centered daily readings called “The Word for your Journey”. It was written by Octavius Winslow, a good friend and fellow English preacher with Charles Spurgeon. In fact, when Spurgeon knew he was going to be gone, he always tried to get Winslow to fill the pulpit in his absence. If you need a deep dose of God’s sufficiency – and we all do – then you need The Word For Your Journey. Visit us after the program at 1-800-654-2836. That’s 1-800-65-HAVEN. Or go online and find out more at haventoday.org. That’s haventoday.org.
HAVEN Today opens with Twila Paris.
your travels through this book start a trip of a lifetime!
Lord, what does that mean? How do I honor you?
If we look at the context and see what God was talking about we find a really surprising answer. What we find is that we honor the Lord . . . by honoring his sacrifice.
I think it’s important for us to understand this. Otherwise we can expend a lot of energy in the wrong direction. We can think we’re honoring God when in fact we’re doing just the opposite. To honor God means to honor his sacrifice.
We need to look at the context. The Lord was talking to an old man named Eli when he said, “those who honor me, I will honor”. Eli was coming close to the end of his days just like Kalymon and King and the Lord definitely wasn’t pleased with him. Eli was the high priest in Israel in the early days before David was King, before Solomon built the temple. The people were worshipping at Shiloh. They brought their sacrifices there and the priests received them and offered them up to the Lord. Eli’s two sons were serving under him as priests and they were basically using the priesthood as an opportunity to get food and sex. They were dishonoring God -- in the shameless way they were treating the sacrifices and in the self-serving way they were fulfilling their role as priests. Eli was their father and their boss. He tried to stop them, but they ignored him and he gave up. Let me pick up the story at:
1Samuel 2:22-30 “Now Eli, who was very old, heard about everything his sons were doing to all Israel and how they slept with the women who served at the entrance to the Tent of Meeting. So he said to them, “Why do you do such things? I hear from all the people about these wicked deeds of yours. No, my sons; it is not a good report that I hear spreading among the LORD’s people. If a man sins against another man, God may mediate for him; but if a man sins against the LORD, who will intercede for him?” His sons, however, did not listen to their father’s rebuke, for it was the LORD’s will to put them to death. And the boy Samuel continued to grow in stature and in favor with the LORD and with men.
Now a man of God came to Eli and said to him, “This is what the LORD says: ‘Did I not clearly reveal myself to your father’s house when they were in Egypt under Pharaoh? I chose your father out of all the tribes of Israel to be my priest, to go up to my altar, to burn incense, and to wear an ephod in my presence. I also gave your father’s house all the offerings made with fire by the Israelites.
Why do you scorn my sacrifice and offering that I prescribed for my dwelling? Why do you honor your sons more than me by fattening yourselves on the choice parts of every offering made by my people Israel?’
“Therefore the LORD, the God of Israel, declares: ‘I promised that your house and your father’s house would minister before me forever.’ But now the LORD declares: ‘Far be it from me! Those who honor me I will honor, but those who despise me will be disdained.”
We can see a lot of disgraceful things we ought to avoid here in this story. Gross disregard for other people. Indulging greed and lust. Permissive weak parenting. But if we focus on those specific sins I think we miss the heart of what it means to dishonor God – and what it means to honor God.
This story is about the sacrifice. God instituted the priesthood so his people could come to him. They could bring animals to be sacrificed there at Shiloh as an offering and an atonement for their sins. All the holiness and mercy of God were tied up in those sacrifices. He provided a way for his people to worship him – for a very sinful people to worship a very holy God. The sacrifice was a holy thing and to honor it was to honor God. To dishonor it was to dishonor God.
That was true for Eli and his sons and it’s also true for us.
The Bible isn’t meant to be read as a book of dos and don’ts. It’s the story of what God has done. We read it to see and understand what he’s done and to respond to it – to give it the place of highest honor in our lives. And what he’s done is to provide us with a sacrifice. Those animals Eli and his sons were offering at Shiloh were a forerunner of the true sacrifice that God would eventually offer. They were inadequate but they set the pattern for the final great sacrifice to end all sacrifices.
You know what I mean don’t you?
God gave his only begotten Son as a sacrifice for sin. He gave him up for us all so that whoever believes in him will not perish but have everlasting life. All the mind-boggling mercy and holiness of God are tied up in that great final sacrifice.
In the story of Eli’s encounter with God did you notice there was a little mention of Samuel. He was a young boy at the time faithfully serving God as Eli’s assistant. It said, “the boy Samuel continued to grow in stature and in favor with the LORD and with men.” The narrator of the story wants us to contrast Eli’s disgusting sons with little Samuel who knew the Lord.
But later another young boy enters the scene of history and he’s described in the very same terms: Luke 2:52 And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men.”
A Jew at the time that description would have understood what the narrator was saying – the narrator was God telling the story through Luke. They would have understood that the narrator wanted them to think of Samuel. That description of Jesus would have triggered a memory of that good young man, Samuel, who grew up to serve Israel all those centuries ago. And it would have told them that one like Samuel had come – likehim , but greater than he was. Samuel was a picture pointing forward to the One who would ultimately fulfill the priestly role. The true priest who would offer the final and true sacrifice.
When Eli was pleading with his hard-hearted sons, remember the argument he used? “If a man sins against another man, God may mediate for him; but if a man sins against the LORD, who will intercede for him?”
Who will intercede for him? Who will mediate between him and his God? The astonishing story of the Bible is that God will – God did. He interceded for us. We’ve all sinned against him, we have no hope, no recourse, no one to intercede for us. What can we do? Nothing. But God in his great mercy met our need. He provided the intercessor, he provided the mediator.
1Timothy 2: 3-6 “God our Savior wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all men.”
God gave his Son and Jesus, his Son, gave himself. It was the sacrifice to end all sacrifices. It paid our ransom. It saves us and it allows us to know and worship our God.
So back to our question -- how do we honor God? We honor God by honoring his sacrifice. Jesus himself set up the Lord’s Supper so we would never forget the sacrifice. This is my body broken, this is my blood poured out for you, do this in remembrance of me.
As believers our hearts can resonate with that can’t they? The magnitude of that sacrifice and what it means to us may fade from our hearts but the Holy Spirit is there in us and he’s working to rekindle our hearts.
I can think of two ways we can honor the sacrifice of Jesus: we can believe it and we can submit to it
1. We can believe it. Let it speak to us every day and believe what it’s saying to us. Believing in the sacrifice of Jesus makes you free and it makes you bold. If we linger on the outskirts of God’s presence, always fearful that he’s not pleased with us, always trying to figure out how to get in his good graces, then we’re not believing the sacrifice. We’re not honoring the sacrifice. We should beware of putting our sin and guilt and unworthiness outside the limit of the cross. Jesus made a full atonement. Our sins have been removed as far as the east is from the west. There’s no more condemnation for us now. We have peace with God. We can go boldly into his presence and we can even call him Abba”. Abba is the term a little girl might use, sitting on her Father’s lap. That fearless intimacy with a Father who loves us is ours because of the sacrifice. It’s what God wants for us. It’s what he gave his Son to provide for us. We honor God by honoring his sacrifice and we honor his sacrifice by believing it.
But before we move on we need to flip the coin – on one side we honor the sacrifice by believing our sins are forgiven. On the other side we honor the sacrifice by getting rid of our self-righteousness. We honor it by admitting we have no righteousness of our own. The sacrifice of the cross is good news but it’s also a radical and offensive message -- which the apostle Paul makes abundantly clear. It not only makes us free and bold, it profoundly humbles us. It strips away all our pretensions of having any righteousness, any standing before God inherent in ourselves -- in who we are or what we’ve done.
Paul had built his life on that kind of stuff but when he understood the sacrifice of Christ, he understood that all of it was just garbage He resolved to only honor the sacrifice of Jesus. He determined never to accumulate a self-based identity again but to ground his identity in Christ. He says in Galatians, “May I never boast except in the cross of Christ”. He says in Philippians, that his greatest desire is that, in the end, when the honors are handed out, he will (Philippians 3:9) “be found in him, (in Christ) not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ — the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith.”
In order to live a life that honors God we need to keep the sacrifice front and center in our hearts every day, we need to let it make us bold and free. And we need to repent daily for the pride that creeps in and puts us in the place of honor that belongs to Christ alone.
2. Submit to it.
The sacrifice of God not only saves us, it lays a claim on us. A very simple claim – when Christ died he paid a price. In other words, he bought us. Paul says it twice in his first letter to the Corinthians:
1Corinthians 6:20 he says, “you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body.”
The sacrifice is what keeps us from indulging in the kinds of sins Eli’s sons were committing. We are not our own, we belong to Christ.
Paul says it again in
1Corinthians 7:23 “You were bought at a price; do not become slaves of men.” The sacrifice is what orients us to Christ instead of to other people. It’s what keeps us from succumbing to pressure like Eli did when he gave in to his sons and honored them above God.
We honor God by honoring his sacrifice and we honor his sacrifice by believing it and submitting to it.
(a good place for a break)
But what about the second part of 1 Samuel 2:30? God says, “Those who honor me . . . I will honor.”
How will God honor those who honor his sacrifice?
I think Jesus gives us a feel for it in a parable he told at the home of a Pharisee.
Luke 14:7-11 “When he noticed how the guests picked the places of honor at the table, he told them this parable: “When someone invites you to a wedding feast, do not take the place of honor, for a person more distinguished than you may have been invited. If so, the host who invited both of you will come and say to you, ‘Give this man your seat.’ Then, humiliated, you will have to take the least important place. But when you are invited, take the lowest place, so that when your host comes, he will say to you, ‘Friend, move up to a better place.’ Then you will be honored in the presence of all your fellow guests. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”
In this world, believers rarely receive honor and when we do, it usually has the dangerous effect of taking our eyes off the sacrifice.
But a day is coming – a day Jesus is describing in this parable – when God will honor those who have honored the sacrifice and humbled themselves. Jesus says that the day is coming when the Lord himself will call them friends. He will honor them in the presence of everyone by moving them up to a higher place – to a better seat. I think there are going to be a lot of better seats. The Lord will honor all his humble servants, all who honor his sacrifice. He will honor them publically and it will be a whole lot better than receiving the Legion of Honor.
If you’re listening today and you’re not a believer, I invite you right now on behalf of God, honor his sacrifice – believe it and receive it and you will be saved.
The Word For Your Journey: 31 Christ-Centered Readings
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