Sacrifices…

I am currently reading Leviticus, the book of laws that God gave the Israelites on their way to the Promised Land. As I read it, I find that I am so grateful!
I am thankful that I do not have to travel to a certain location, like the Tabernacle, in order to be forgiven.
I am grateful that I don’t have to bring a sheep, a ram, a bull or some pigeons to be made right with God.
And that I don’t have to talk to Him through a priest.
I am thankful that I live under grace and not under The Law.
And I am grateful that Emmanuel, God with us, became The Way to God the Father so that the Holy Spirit of the Living God can live inside of me, making my body His temple and my heart His home.

But as I think about the sacrifices and offerings the Israelite were required to bring to God, I am reminded that there are still sacrifices to be made.
Still items to be brought daily, in an act of worship, before the Living God.
Not because He needs them.
Or because He needs me.
But because He is worth them.
Worthy of any sacrifice I can bring.

Here are three daily sacrifices that the Words says bring Him great delight:

First, a sacrifice of praise.
Sometimes, praise springs up naturally in my heart and to my lips.
A beautiful sunrise
A snuggly baby
A scene of beauty
Or an act of kindness

These things can all trigger me to say, “Wow, God, that’s awesome! You do such good work! YOU are so awesome!”

Those things are not a sacrifice of praise.

But when things aren’t going my way…
When I am tired – physically, mentally, emotionally or spiritually…
When someone disappoints me, again…
When God disappoints me, again…
When I do not understand His ways…
When I do not like the answer He gives…

That is when I must bring Him a sacrifice of praise.
You see, a sacrifice must cost me something in order to be a sacrifice.

And in this case, it often costs me things I don’t want to pay.
Like my control of a situation
Or my need to understand
My need to be understood
My pride
Or my selfishness

In order to praise God IN ALL THINGS, I must lay down myself.
I must lay those things down.
And I must yield to His higher ways.
I must submit to the idea that He is God and I am not.
And I must choose to remember that He is good. Even when He is not who I think He should be, He is good.
Even when His timetable does not match mine, He is good.
Even when He seems far, far away, He is good.

A sacrifice of praise forces me to lay down my need to control, my need to be right, my need to be needed, my need to be vindicated.
Because it puts God back in first place where He belongs.
Not because I understand Him.
Not because we are on the same page.
Not because He has done something I like.
But because He is good.
Because He deserves it.
Because He is worth it.
Worth laying down me to focus on Him.

Which leads to the next sacrifice – the sacrifice of obedience.

I don’t actually like a lot of what Jesus said.
I want to explain it away.
Make it say something slightly – or even vastly – different.
Like, instead of “Love your enemies” I want it to say, “Pray for fire and brimstone to come down on your enemies.”
Instead of “Pray for those who hurt you” I want it to say, “You can ignore, shut off and distance yourself from those who hurt you.”
Instead of “Forgive as you have been forgiven” I want it to say, “You deserve to hold a grudge because they hurt you.”

But regardless of how I feel about any of it, what He said, He said.
And He said, “Obedience = Love”.
He said, “If you love me, you will obey me.”
He said, “If you follow me, you will live as I live.”
He said, “If you say you love me but don’t live this way, you don’t really love me.”

So, for HIS sake, I will bring a sacrifice of obedience.

Which once again means laying down my pride.
My selfishness.
My right to be angry.
My right to be vindicated.
My right to be heard, understood, loved, needed, appreciated.
The list goes on and on.

But when I lay down me and obey Him, I am bringing something far more valuable than a lamb.
Something far more valuable than any material thing I can bring.

Which brings me to the third sacrifice.

The sacrifice of priority. The giving over of first place.

Whose kingdom will I look after first?
His? Or mine?
Whose agenda will I choose?
His? Or mine?
Whose reputation will I seek to exalt?
His? Or mine?

Who will I make a priority?
Those I like? Or those He loves?
Who will I seek to glorify?
Him? Or me?
Who will I live for?
Him? Or me?

Again, this takes laying down myself. And blocking my ears to the messages I constantly hear all around me – and even in me.

“If I don’t look after me, who will?”
“Gotta take care of number one!”
“I am enough.”
“Make a name for yourself.”
“You can do it!”
“If you believe it, you can achieve it.”
“Dig down deep in yourself and you will find all you need.”

In contrast to what the Bible says:

“God, You alone are my supply.”
“God, I will make You number one in my finances, my time, my talent.”
“God, I am not enough. But You are everything I need.”
“God, I want to live for Your name, Your glory, Your fame. They don’t need to know my name – they need to know YOURS.”
“God, I can do nothing without You and everything in You.”
“God, I believe YOU can do anything. Please do what You will.”
“God, I am empty and unable to meet my own needs. But You can supply all that I need – starting with my need to lay down me and lift You high.”

Three sacrifices.
Or really, just one.

Paul begged the believers at Rome to get this.
He said, “I beg you to lay down yourself on the altar. You can only do it by God’s mercy. But do it. It is the only reasonable response to what God has done for you. And here’s the secret – when you do it, when you lay yourself down, God shows up in big ways. He’ll change you from the inside, out. He’ll transform the way you think. He’ll show you all you need to know to keep following Him – all the best ways to live. You really can trust Him!” (Romans 12:1-2, in Kathy-phrase)

So glad I don’t have to be a sheepherder or a cattle farmer to be a Christ-follower.
I don’t need a pasture full of lambs, rams and cows to follow Him.

But I do need to bring a daily sacrifice.
Of praise.
Of obedience.
Of priorities.

I am prone to climbing off the altar.
But I know from experience that it is the only place to find real life.
Real joy.
Real adventure.
Real abundance.

So once again, today, I lay me down.
So I can lift Him high.
Will you join me?

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