Hebrews 6:10-12 (NLT) For God is not unjust. He will not forget how hard you have worked for him and how you have shown your love to him by caring for other believers, as you still do. Our great desire is that you will keep on loving others as long as life lasts, in order to make certain that what you hope for will come true. Then you will not become spiritually dull and indifferent. Instead, you will follow the example of those who are going to inherit God’s promises because of their faith and endurance.
“For our God is a devouring fire.” (Hebrews 12:29) He is an all-consuming fire. How does one approach such a being? I have been overtaken by the notion of the living sacrifice this week. It has been one of those weeks. Work has been crazy. Our schedule all out of whack. There have been details of life mounting. Chaos. It has definitely been chaotic. As I have prayed for the Lord to restore order and bring me peace, I have come to realize that the stirring and fanning of the flame inside of me is normal. It is the constancy of His Love that does not allow for complacency when we call on His Name. Yes, I am saying that I asked for it.
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 offer the Lord what is in our hands. To extend our service to Him to honor His Name. To do rather than be. All these “things” that are within our power and strength. We give and we give yet in our heart there is that notion that it is never enough. It’s not. The sacrifice of our life is worship. Worship is sacrifice. An offering can be renewed. Sacrifice requires all. I can give an offering to the Lord and come back again with the same thing. I cannot be a living sacrifice and remain the same for what is given is gone and something new must be made.
Oh Lord, help me to relay this burning in my heart today. Open the hearts and minds of your people to understand the art of consumption and beauty of brokenness today. Moving into His Presence will not allow you to remain the same. Why? God is likened to fire. It is bonfire season. As the hot, humid days give way to cooler temperatures, fire pits are being cleaned out and readied for gatherings. Moving into closer proximity of the burning pile of brush, limbs and whatever combustible substance offered to the fire, the temperature rises. Scarves and gloves come off as it gets warmer. Drawing near to the flame, coats and sweaters are discarded to allow for the heat to permeate to our flesh. Now we can keep up with our progress, but will be warned that if not careful – we will get burned. This is where one must decide is it worth the sacrifice. In the natural, absolutely not. There is nothing in this world worth giving up our life for other than Jesus Christ who is not of this world. We must decide if our life will be an offering to God or if we will become a living sacrifice – one that is holy and acceptable, good and pleasing and perfect to Him.
Isaiah 1:11-18 (NLT) “What makes you think I want all your sacrifices?” says the Lord. “I am sick of your burnt offerings of rams and the fat of fattened cattle. I get no pleasure from the blood of bulls and lambs and goats. When you come to worship me, who asked you to parade through my courts with all your ceremony? Stop bringing me your meaningless gifts; the incense of your offerings disgusts me! As for your celebrations of the new moon and the Sabbath and your special days for fasting—they are all sinful and false. I want no more of your pious meetings. I hate your new moon celebrations and your annual festivals. They are a burden to me. I cannot stand them! When you lift up your hands in prayer, I will not look. Though you offer many prayers, I will not listen, for your hands are covered with the blood of innocent victims. Wash yourselves and be clean! Get your sins out of my sight. Give up your evil ways. Learn to do good. Seek justice. Help the oppressed. Defend the cause of orphans. Fight for the rights of widows. “Come now, let’s settle this,” says the Lord. “Though your sins are like scarlet, I will make them as white as snow. Though they are red like crimson, I will make them as white as wool.”
Religion is not bad as long as our relationship is authentic. The danger of doctrine is when it is confused with God’s Commandments. Our flesh wants to “do” not “die”. It is common place for our mind to confuse what we “do” for God with what He is “doing” in us. Everything I offer to God outside of sacrificing myself is meaningless. My flesh has nothing to offer God but the putrid and rancid rottenness of sin. Repentance is to relinquish our sin to accept His Salvation. There is nothing good in me to give the Lord except that which is given by Christ. We fill our life with attitudes and actions that appease our flesh and establish our pride when a life given over completely to God is consumed by His Love alone. We must understand the order of sacrifice to effectively engage in this life as a living one.
Psalm 51:16-19 (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. Look with favor on Zion and help her; rebuild the walls of Jerusalem. Then you will be pleased with sacrifices offered in the right spirit—with burnt offerings and whole burnt offerings. Then bulls will again be sacrificed on your altar.
The sacrifice you desire is a broken spirit. You will not reject a broken and repentant heart, O God. What kind of God would desire such a thing? Aren’t we broken and abused enough in life? Isn’t there enough hurt in this world? Why be so brutal? If my heart is not broken, it will not repent. If I do not see the futility of life without a Savior, I will die forever. God loves me too much to pass me by leaving me in the same condition that He found me. His Son sacrificed His Life to make me a new creation. To become such a thing I must give up the old me, my old ways, even the things that I may have once thought were offerings and sacrifices worthy of the King.
Lord, I’ve given you everything. Have you? We cannot evaluate our giving to God in any tangible measure. It is when we come to the end of ourselves desperate to encounter the Living God unwilling to relent until He blesses us like Jacob. It is the moment when the mountain of sacrifice is before us and we answer the call to worship like Abraham willing to give up everything just to be one with the Lord. If you can find something to give, you have not given enough. God is an all-consuming fire who will destroy everything in His Way until He gets to you. His Passion for you burns hot in His Presence drawing us closer like a moth to a flame. To be close to Him will cause a complete consumption of our natural life in pursuit of the supernatural God and all that is Him.
Hebrews 6:4-7 (NLT) For it is impossible to bring back to repentance those who were once enlightened—those who have experienced the good things of heaven and shared in the Holy Spirit, who have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the power of the age to come—and who then turn away from God. It is impossible to bring such people back to repentance; by rejecting the Son of God, they themselves are nailing him to the cross once again and holding him up to public shame. When the ground soaks up the falling rain and bears a good crop for the farmer, it has God’s blessing.
It is impossible to bring back to repentance those who were once enlightened. There is a process to one’s salvation. Hence the Word of God states plainly – “continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling” (Philippians 2:12) and “being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion” (Philippians 1:6) We are all working it out. Just to set the record straight – no one has it all together. It doesn’t matter how they act or how successful they seem.
When I was eleven, something welled up in me and I knew that I needed a Savior. I would love to say that was the end of my journey of faith looking for hope. Not the case. In high school, our family returned to church and I was “on fire” for God even spent a summer in Africa as a missionary right after graduation. Yep, still headed into the wilderness when I realized Christians were not perfect. When I finally emerged, my life was not what I expected. Still I came back to the Lord with a “let’s try this again” attitude. Well, it stuck kind of. I still became wrapped up in church affairs but I had discovered this thing called faith and was not a bit more intrigued so dared to venture a little bit closer and move deeper into God’s Presence. Our family seemed to be on the right track. I thought I was doing exactly what the Lord wanted me to do serving Him faithfully obeying His Word doing His Will. I was “doing” a lot alright.
It was not until my life was completely interrupted and everything that I thought to be important completely consumed. When my heart was completely broken and I arrived at the end of myself that I realized what the Lord had been after all along – He wanted all of me. Not what I had or what I could do. Jesus wants me. Once you are enlightened, you will repent. Once you experience such an encounter with God – it changes you forever. After that moment, you will try to return to normal but it is gone forever. You may think you can pretend it never happened but you can’t.
Matthew 13:24-29 (NLT) Jesus told them another parable: The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field. But while everyone was sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and went away. When the wheat sprouted and formed heads, then the weeds also appeared. The owner’s servants came to him and said, “Sir, didn’t you sow good seed in your field? Where then did the weeds come from?” “An enemy did this,” he replied. The servants asked him, “Do you want us to go and pull them up?” “No,” he answered, “because while you are pulling the weeds, you may uproot the wheat with them.”
My greatest fear is no longer what the enemy can do to me, because I know that he has no power in my life. My only concern is to reach the end of my life without enough faith to be accepted into the Kingdom. To arrive before Jesus with an uncircumcised heart. To hear the words, “I never knew you. A sacrificed heart is a circumcised heart. The mark of those who belong to Jesus. In this life, there are “weeds and wheat” growing in the same field. There are goats and sheep abiding in the same pasture. From a distance, it all looks the same but upon closer inspection there is a difference. It doesn’t matter how good I look or the good things I do without a heart sacrificed fully and completely to the Lord, there is no mark of salvation to distinguish me from the rest. He cannot know me if I do not come to Him. A relationship must come before my religion. To do so requires entering His Presence. It is an act of intimacy that will cause our life to be consumed by His Love. The closer to the fire the hotter the flame. Everything that cannot withstand the heat will be burned away. God provides the fire. We provide offerings regularly, but now He didn’t ask for that. He desires our heart.
I Corinthians 3:12-15 (NLT) If anyone builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, their work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each person’s work. If what has been built survives, the builder will receive a reward. If it is burned up, the builder will suffer loss but yet will be saved—even though only as one escaping through the flames.
I must evaluate my life in Light of His Love today. Am I willing to be a living sacrifice or just make my life an offering? The fire will test the quality of each person’s work. Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego were tested by fire. They were literally thrown into a fiery furnace. The evidence of their life and worship was clear as the Lord joined them in the fire. When they were lifted out of the smoldering ash, their clothes were not soiled and they did not even smell of smoke. I wonder what might happen if the substance of our life and authenticity of our faith was to be tested the same way. What might be the result? Would we make it out alive with our faith still intact? Would we discover that our connection to Christ is simply religious without a meaningful sacrifice? I want to know Lord if my faith is genuine. I want to know that my love for you is real. If it means discomfort, so be it. If it means my life must be consumed to see its content, go right ahead. Draw me closer Lord and yes, I realize that in doing so all the worthless, meaningless, and trivial things must go. Burn in me today Jesus. I want to be a living sacrifice. Nothing less will do.
John 15:5-7 (NLT) “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.