Romans 12:1-3 (NLT)
And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him. Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect. Because of the privilege and authority God has given me, I give each of you this warning: Don’t think you are better than you really are. Be honest in your evaluation of yourselves, measuring yourselves by the faith God has given us.
Sacrifice is defined as a surrender of something of value a means of gaining something that is more desirable. I have thought about this word a lot over the last few days. Watching our son endure four grueling days of chemotherapy as poison is pumped into his veins day and night seeking to destroy that which is trying to destroy him. After four relapses in less than three years, it would seem that the potential benefit of the treatment most certainly outweighs the risk. The list of side effects seems endless. This is an act of faith in its most raw form. He willingly came to the hospital to be admitted. He climbed into the bed of the little room. He signed the consent form and offered his body to be connected to tiny tubes and pumps. He did not shutter when the flow of poison started. He does not complain as the effects ravage his body. He has decided that the sacrifice is worth remission. To live apart from the disease that keeps coming back makes all the hardship worthwhile so he endures it. He has sacrificed his life in the most literal sense. Is it still sacrifice if you have no choice? Is it really an offering if you must give it?
I must make a decisive dedication of my life (mind, soul and body) to Jesus Christ living as a sacrifice, holy, devoted, consecrated and well-pleasing to God. It is only reasonable considering all that He has done for me. Why do we find it so hard to lay our life down before the Lord? Why do we struggle to give all that we are for all that He is? What makes this life so great that we would rather conform to this world rather than being transformed into a new creation? From where I sit now, it doesn’t seem like this world has much to offer. The job I once worshipped with too much time and attention is really the last thing on my mind. The finances that I constantly budgeted, worried over and stressed about will just have to take care of itself. All the “things” that I just knew could add better moments to my life are long forgotten. I have been given a reality check. It hit way too close to home. It was a very close call. The day that death pulled into view, I knew we had a problem. No one could stop the assault against our life. Every attempt to put our son in remission has turned into relapse. As I sit at his bedside hoping that he stays asleep until the sickness passes, the side effects are gone, and he begins to come to life again – it is with this one thing on my mind – sacrifice.
Malachi 1:8-11 (NLT)
When you give blind animals as sacrifices, isn’t that wrong? And isn’t it wrong to offer animals that are crippled and diseased? Try giving gifts like that to your governor, and see how pleased he is!” says the LORD of Heaven’s Armies. “Go ahead, beg God to be merciful to you! But when you bring that kind of offering, why should he show you any favor at all?” asks the LORD of Heaven’s Armies. “How I wish one of you would shut the Temple doors so that these worthless sacrifices could not be offered! I am not pleased with you,” says the LORD of Heaven’s Armies, “and I will not accept your offerings. But my name is honored by people of other nations from morning till night. All around the world they offer sweet incense and pure offerings in honor of my name. For my name is great among the nations,” says the LORD of Heaven’s Armies.
Malachi was talking about the condition of the sacrifices coming from the people. Rather than being the “first fruits” of the people and the best of their flock, they were bringing sickly or lame animals of no use to them. He asked if they would give the same to the government to pay for their taxes. He wished they could “shut the Temple doors so that worthless sacrifices could not be offered.” I am sure there are some Men of God who feel the same way today. He called them worthless sacrifices. Maybe it is time for us to evaluate our sacrifice to the Lord. Are we giving Him our best or what’s left of our life? Do we seek Him with all our heart or just the pieces left behind by other things? Is He our First Love or last to get noticed? Before we can properly evaluate our sacrifice to the Lord, we must first decide what He is after. What kind of sacrifice does God want? What is the purpose of sacrificing our life anyway? How do we determine if our sacrifice is sufficient?
Romans 3:23-26 (NLT)
For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. Yet God freely and graciously declares that we are righteous. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins. For God presented Jesus as the sacrifice for sin. People are made right with God when they believe that Jesus sacrificed his life, shedding his blood. This sacrifice shows that God was being fair when he held back and did not punish those who sinned in times past, for he was looking ahead and including them in what he would do in this present time. God did this to demonstrate his righteousness, for he himself is fair and just, and he declares sinners to be right in his sight when they believe in Jesus.
Sin forever separated us from God. The glorious standard of living that He purposed for us to have forever lost due to human inability to set themselves apart from it. Jesus Christ sacrificed His Life willingly for the sins of all mankind. He was perfect and sinless without spot or blemish even after living in the same unfair and violent world that we live in. Jesus was there when the world was created and each person given a name. When sin came into the picture, He was the life force that slammed the gate to Eden shut protecting humans from themselves. When it came time to offer a sacrifice, Jesus said, “I’ll do it!” which was the Plan all along. I know it is hard to wrap your head around God, Jesus and the Spirit sometimes the way they bounce from past, present to the future and back. Omnipresence defies human logic but it does not mean that He is not omnipresent – it just means that we don’t get it. Jesus Christ paid for our sin once and for all. (Hebrews 10:10) No further sacrifices would need to be offered because of His Dispensation of Grace. Now hold it right there, this is where the majority of believers lose their way. God’s Love, Grace and Mercy carried out by Jesus on the Cross does not excuse our sin but removes it. Deliberate sin and willful disobedience will always be unacceptable to God and not tolerated. (Hebrews 10:26-27) Repentance and salvation require us to turn from our sin and embrace Jesus Christ. We must take up our cross and follow Him. I promise you this – Jesus will never lead you into sin. He leads us away from it by example. You don’t sacrifice sin to live for Jesus. So if we have nothing to give and Jesus is the one true sacrifice than what is required of us.
Genesis 22:1-5 (NLT)
Sometime later, God tested Abraham’s faith. “Abraham!” God called. “Yes,” he replied. “Here I am.” “Take your son, your only son—yes, Isaac, whom you love so much—and go to the land of Moriah. Go and sacrifice him as a burnt offering on one of the mountains, which I will show you.” The next morning Abraham got up early. He saddled his donkey and took two of his servants with him, along with his son, Isaac. Then he chopped wood for a fire for a burnt offering and set out for the place God had told him about. On the third day of their journey, Abraham looked up and saw the place in the distance. “Stay here with the donkey,” Abraham told the servants. “The boy and I will travel a little farther. We will worship there, and then we will come right back.”
Ever since this journey began, I have thought many, many times about Abraham and Isaac. I will admit I told the Lord that I was not willing to sacrifice my son for anyone – ashamedly not even Him. My stubborn, hardheaded nature struggled with this account as I tried not to line up my life with Abraham. I have always wanted the faith of Abraham, but never wanted to make the sacrifice that he did. I have discovered that I do not have to. The Grace of God reached back to find those who were righteous before Jesus came and died for our sin. It flows over the life of the righteous those who were willing to lay down their life to follow God. There were not many in the course of history but Abraham was the Father of Faith. God doesn’t want my son – he already belongs to God and has given his heart to Jesus Christ. God wants my faith – all of it. He wants all of me. “Be honest in your evaluation of yourselves, measuring yourselves by the faith God has given us.” (Romans 12:3) God gave Abraham a son because he lived in righteousness or right standing with Him. He was the fulfillment of God’s Promise to His Man. When it came time to test His Faith, it was through the promise. Why? Nothing else in this world will ever compare to a promise received from God that manifests in your life. Miracles, signs and wonders are provided to one thing – increase our faith and make hope more confident. When God told Abraham, go sacrifice your son. Abraham surely went through all the emotions that are human but still He was faithful in preparing to sacrifice His Son. I am quite certain that some people thought the man had lost his mind. But Abraham did not waver from the promise that he would be the father of many nations. He told those traveling with him up the mountain, “The boy and I will go a little farther. We will worship there. We will come back.” Holy revelation! How was Abraham so sure that God would provide? By faith. What if he was required to kill his son (his only son) by God?
Abraham believed God by faith as noted in Hebrews 11. “It was by faith that Abraham offered Isaac as a sacrifice when God was testing him. Abraham, who had received God’s promises, was ready to sacrifice his only son, Isaac, even though God had told him, “Isaac is the son through whom your descendants will be counted. Abraham reasoned that if Isaac died, God was able to bring him back to life again. And in a sense, Abraham did receive his son back from the dead.” (Hebrews 11:17-19) Abraham reasoned. It was his understanding that Isaac was his son that the promise of fatherhood would come through. His faith in God so confident that it did not matter what the physical circumstances were that God would overcome. So if he was required to thrust a knife through his son’s heart, the One who created that heart, timing and numbering each beat would raise him back up from the dead. Do you believe like that? I will be the first to honestly admit that too often I forget the Power of my God getting lost in the circumstances of life. That is until I walked up the mountain of sacrifice. It all comes down to this: You will not sacrifice your life to a God who is not good enough or great enough to give you something better. You will not hand over your existence to one who cannot solve your problems making a brand new life out of a dry, dead bones. In the midst of the account of Abraham’s faith, we see a glimpse of the future. “And Abraham picked up the knife to kill his son as a sacrifice. At that moment the angel of the LORD called to him from heaven, “Abraham! Abraham!” “Yes,” Abraham replied. “Here I am!” “Don’t lay a hand on the boy!” the angel said. “Do not hurt him in any way, for now I know that you truly fear God. You have not withheld from me even your son, your only son.” Then Abraham looked up and saw a ram caught by its horns in a thicket. So he took the ram and sacrificed it as a burnt offering in place of his son. Abraham named the place Yahweh-Yireh (which means “the LORD will provide”). To this day, people still use that name as a proverb: “On the mountain of the LORD it will be provided.” (Genesis 22:10-14) God already provided the sacrifice. The rest is up to me.
Ephesians 5:1-2 (NLT)
Imitate God, therefore, in everything you do, because you are his dear children. Live a life filled with love, following the example of Christ. He loved us and offered himself as a sacrifice for us, a pleasing aroma to God.
When we give our heart to Jesus Christ, we sacrifice this life to take up the cross and follow Him. Not the burden of the cross, but the blessing of His Sacrifice. We accept the Glorious Standard of Living Christ died for us to have by shirking off the filthy stained rag of our prior existence to put on the Robe of Righteousness given to us. This covering allows us to live in the Presence of God but can only be obtained by faith in Jesus Christ. That faith that begins as small as mustard seed grows under the influence of the Holy Spirit to produce the life that God has promised to those who belief. Suddenly impossibilities become rational, logical and reasonable possibilities all because you were willing to give up your old life to take on the new one. We don’t have to make the physical sacrifice. Jesus did that. We make a spiritual sacrifice of our heart to love, honor and cherish Jesus Christ for the rest of our life into Eternity. Living in His Presence, the Righteousness of God, makes any sacrifice we make to God acceptable. (Psalm 118:26-28) The Lord examines our heart before He will accept our sacrifice or offering. He is looking for Jesus. We must imitate the example of Christ to be sure that is what He sees. (Proverbs 21:2-3) Everything that we are and ever hope to be is found in the person of Jesus Christ. We must lay down our life and the way that we do things to take up our cross daily and be like Him!
I Chronicles 21:21-24 (NLT)
When Araunah saw David approaching, he left his threshing floor and bowed before David with his face to the ground. David said to Araunah, “Let me buy this threshing floor from you at its full price. Then I will build an altar to the LORD there, so that he will stop the plague.” “Take it, my lord the king, and use it as you wish,” Araunah said to David. “I will give the oxen for the burnt offerings, and the threshing boards for wood to build a fire on the altar, and the wheat for the grain offering. I will give it all to you.” But King David replied to Araunah, “No, I insist on buying it for the full price. I will not take what is yours and give it to the LORD. I will not present burnt offerings that have cost me nothing!”
Are you willing to pay the price for the sacrifice? Jesus Christ paid the price to cover all of our sins – past, present and future. I can do nothing to earn salvation or enter right standing with God outside of Jesus. If my life is bought and paid for, how can I pay the price? It was bought and paid for but then Jesus set you free. He doesn’t want you to pay Him back – the Lord wants your love in return. ” No one has greater love [no one has shown stronger affection] than to lay down (give up) his own life for his friends.” (John 15:13 AMP) Jesus wants all of me. He doesn’t want me to hurt or harmed. He just wants to make sure that I love Him enough to make it to live with Him forever and ever. The sacrifice of our life to Jesus Christ proclaims allegiance to His Great Name. It relays confidence in His Power and Authority as Lord. It enunciates that His Sacrifice provided sufficient grace for me. His Sacrifice takes me to the mountain. His Sacrifice makes me call to the mountain to move. At times, His Sacrifice empowers me to go over the mountain. I have to give something to own this offering of my life. I give you my all, Lord. I give you my all!
Psalm 51:16-17 (NLT)
You do not desire a sacrifice, or I would offer one. You do not want a burnt offering. The sacrifice you desire is a broken spirit. You will not reject a broken and repentant heart, O God.