Psalm 118:26-28 (NLT)
Bless the one who comes in the name of the Lord. We bless you from the house of the Lord. The Lord is God, shining upon us. Take the sacrifice and bind it with cords on the altar. You are my God, and I will praise you! You are my God, and I will exalt you!
I don’t want to make another sacrifice. I am tired of taking one for the team. I get knocked down and keep getting up again. The unexpected seems to find its way to my door on a daily basis. So I am throwing a fit. I cannot sleep. Tears stay just behind my eyes. This is not what I thought this life would be like after I accepted the Call of Christ. Where is the Glory and Goodness that He promised? Why do I feel that another part of me is being required? It seems that the more we seek Him this is the case. The latest in the series of unexpected that seem to gravitate toward our life has me reeling. I know this is probably not what you were after when you decided to read this. I know that it will end well as all things in the Lord usually do. But in this moment, I am begging and pleading with the Lord – not another sacrifice.
Jesus made the ultimate sacrifice for our life when He died on the Cross. I believe that His Blood was shed for me and that if I were the only person in the world that He still would have done the same thing. His Grace, Goodness and Glory is designated for my life. This is the Truth. This is His Word. His Spirit lives on the inside of me yet battles daily with my flesh. “Take the sacrifice and bind it with cords to the altar.” Not again, a lesson of total trust and abandonment of self. My flesh is rebelling not interested at all. Why this? Why now? This is not as I expected but in the testing of our faith it is seldom the case. Sacrifice is the surrender of something prized or desirable for the sake of something considered as having a higher or more pressing claim. God does not require the same sacrifices as before because Jesus paid the price for our sin. He is the ultimate sacrifice now it is the surrender of our heart. At first, we give what we can and harbor the rest for safekeeping. But moment by moment and test by test more and more is given until we reach the heart of the matter which are those things considered sacred to us. Am I willing to bind that altar to the sacrifice and watch it be consumed? Not another sacrifice…
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.
This thing called sacrifice that we are called to as believers is a painful but necessary process. As we entrust the most precious parts of our life to the Lord in total surrender knowing that He will honor His Promise to grant us the desires of our heart. The proper sacrifice is that of a broken and repentant heart. Surely God cannot mean a broken heart. Yes friend, He does. It is exactly what He means in His Quest to complete and perfect our life. Our heart is a hard fortress that holds many things. We may not even be fully aware of what we hold most dear until it is required on the altar of God. Do you trust me? The Lord whispers this to His People. How much are you willing to give? Do you trust that I will return it to you? As we edge up the mountain of obedience, the joy in our steps turns to a bit of trepidation. One might think such a journey becomes easier over time but it’s not. There is less to choose from with each act of obedience as God inquires for just a little bit more of our life until we feel as though there is nothing left to give. Sacrifice breaks our heart. It breaks our spirit. It causes us to repent in that moment when He proves faithful once again. Over and over, His Goodness, Kindness, Mercy and Love prevail but getting to that place requires hauling our dead, empty and broken life to the Lord then surrendering it to Him in obedience.
The sacrifice I offer the Lord today is not in the details of the current circumstances but rather searching my heart for willingness and obedience to once again submit to the Will of God by faith. It seems so small and insignificant compared to the new life that He offers me day by day as His Mercy meets me each morning. But Lord, what about when I don’t want to make another sacrifice specifically this one?
Psalm 4:5 (NLT) Offer sacrifices in the right spirit and trust the Lord.
What is the spirit of sacrifice that is considered right? We are made righteous by Jesus Christ alone. So if we are found to be a believer and follower of Jesus Christ, we are made right in that moment and receive a right spirit. The act of sacrifice is to decide to trust the Lord when we are not able to see the outcome. It is the moment we surrender our expectation for Christ’s fulfillment even when we really want that which is being taken away. It is not easy. It is hard because we are deadlocked in a battle with our flesh who declares God has gone too far. I feel that way some days – I will be honest. Why not turn up the heat on someone who does not serve Him rather than constantly keeping me in the line of fire? Sounds selfish huh? It is. But my flesh wants what it wants and is not easily satisfied by our willingness and desire to trust the Lord. I trust the Lord. I really do. But that doesn’t change the fact that I do not want to make another sacrifice. My flesh is clearly defiant. Yet from the deepest part of my heart I hear a tiny voice weakly whispering, God I trust you!
Isaiah 61:2-3 (NLT)
He has sent me to tell those who mourn that the time of the Lord’s favor has come, and with it, the day of God’s anger against their enemies. To all who mourn in Israel, He will give a crown of beauty for ashes, a joyous blessing instead of mourning, festive praise instead of despair. In their righteousness, they will be like great oaks that the Lord has planted for his own glory.
The planting of God can be a painful process. It often requires things of us that initially we are unwilling to give. But as we continue to seek the Lord and the fiery passion for more of Him increases we begin to look for things to burn. We want to be filled with the joy of the Lord and peace found in our salvation, but are we willing to pay the price called obedience and willingness to surrender our life to Christ for righteousness sake. Isn’t ironic that He would send me in the midst of my pain with a heart on the verge of breaking to tell you that the Lord is about to bring beauty for those ashes. He is going to give us festive praise for our despair. He is bestowing a joyous blessing for our mourning. My life will glorify God even if I do not want to make another sacrifice but simply surrender my heart to Him.
Romans 12:1-2 (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.
It is human nature to seek relief from pain and pressure. But are no longer controlled by our sinful nature, but driven by a deep desire to follow Jesus Christ. Although I do not want to make any more sacrifices to honor the Lord, I know that I will. I will because at the end of the day His Goodness, Mercy and Love abound in my life. I am giving my life as a living sacrifice. I want to live a holy and acceptable life no matter what the cost. I must love and trust Him to endure until the end. This means that there will be sacrifices along the way. I do not have to be strong in that day or exhibit great power but simply be willing and obedient in that moment of release giving what I desire most to the Lord for safekeeping trusting it will be returned – pressed down, shaken together and running over in my life. I do give my life to the Lord to get anything. I give it to Jesus because He is my everything. He is the One who has a higher and more pressing claim on my life and I will not keep it from Him. I strive today to sacrifice those things which are being called forth from my life today. I may struggle in the giving. I may mourn a great loss. I will trust the Lord with my life even those things most sacred. I will make the sacrifice.
Psalm 116:16-17 (NLT)
O Lord, I am your servant; yes, I am your servant, born into your household; you have freed me from my chains. I will offer you a sacrifice of thanksgiving and call on the name of the Lord.