Wednesday is one of my favorite days of the week, for many reasons! : ) One, because it is a halfway mark to the weekend (haha!) and two, because the MY Generation team gets to come together and minister to the students that God brings through the doors of Central Assembly! This past Wednesday I shared a message that God has been cultivating in my heart; a message about sacrifice. So many times when I've heard that word, my natural reaction is to hesitate and back away from the subject.
“Uhh, Lord?, do you really want me to talk about that? Is that necessary? I dunno know ‘bout that?...”
Often times the word sacrifice will trigger images in our mind of a lamb being slaughtered or of Jesus being brutally beaten and nailed to a cross. (Yes, I've been reading the Bible in 365 and have watched The Bible on the History Channel…so you can understand where these images are being conjured!) Yet, because of Jesus dying on the cross, sacrifice looks a lot different for you and me then it did for the men and women of the Old Testament! (Praise God! I kind of like cute, little, spotless, innocent lambs…and I believe many of ewe do too!)
As the Holy Spirit was prodding my heart, the Lord led me to the passages in 1 Chronicles 21:24 and 2 Samuel 24:24. Here we see that King David is going to offer up a sacrifice to the Lord. King David goes to Araunah and asks for some land. Araunah says to David, “Yeah, totally King, take the land and I’ll even add the oxen and the wood to burn, and wheat…take it! It’s yours!” [Some of this is from the Celeste version! : ) Haha!]
I love how David replies, “No, I insist on paying the full price. I will not take for the Lord what is yours, or sacrifice a burnt offering that costs me nothing.”
If it is not costing us something, it is not sacrifice!
Wow! That totally got me! If sacrifice is not costing me something…then it is not sacrifice! This word is for us, it is for me, it is for our generation! We need this!!
I realize that sacrifice isn't easy and it doesn't look appealing. I mean, the word alone can cause us to feel discomfort. Yet, as followers and believers in Jesus Christ, we cannot sift sacrifice from our lifestyles. The call of God upon our lives cannot be filtered. By that I mean that we cannot take the life of Christ, sift it, and take what we want and leave behind what we don’t want. It is all or nothing when it comes to Jesus! Ah! But the freedom, and joy that is reaped from living this life is incomparable and it is completely worth it!! : )
I know there have been times where I have been complacent with living a comfortable life, but the Lord has been so softly stirring something in my heart: Are you willing to pay the price? Are you willing to live a life of Sacrifice?
The Apostle Paul was such a boss! I love his story of transformation and the fact that even while Paul (at that time Saul) was out persecuting Christians – The Lord had already chosen him to advance the gospel! (Acts 9, read it! It’s awesome) In 2 Corinthians 6:3-10, Paul writes:
3 We live in such a way that no one will stumble because of us, and no one will find fault with our ministry. 4 In everything we do, we show that we are true ministers of God. We patiently endure troubles and hardships and calamities of every kind. 5 We have been beaten, been put in prison, faced angry mobs, worked to exhaustion, endured sleepless nights, and gone without food. 6 We prove ourselves by our purity, our understanding, our patience, our kindness, by the Holy Spirit within us, and by our sincere love. 7 We faithfully preach the truth. God’s power is working in us. We use the weapons of righteousness in the right hand for attack and the left hand for defense. 8 We serve God whether people honor us or despise us, whether they slander us or praise us. We are honest, but they call us impostors. 9 We are ignored, even though we are well known. We live close to death, but we are still alive. We have been beaten, but we have not been killed. 10 Our hearts ache, but we always have joy. We are poor, but we give spiritual riches to others. We own nothing, and yet we have everything.
Sacrifice will not always be popular. In fact, just like Jesus, we will experience opposition. We are not of this world (John 17:16) and so we shouldn't fit in with those who are living in this world. As I read that passage in 2 Corinthians 6, I realized that compared to Paul, I don’t have a difficult life. I have it so easy. I don’t have to sacrifice a lot of things. Yet, when we take a stand for Christ and make His standard a pillar in our lives; we may lose earthly possessions and even people. I was once in a situation where I knew God was asking me to be obedient and endure through a season even though my “friends” were not going to follow me. It was difficult for me because I love people and I cannot stand being in discord with anyone! It ruins me! Yet, I knew that what God was asking me to do was far more important than anything or anyone. I experienced a lot of bullying from this group who I thought were my closest friends. I never would say anything against them and yet just like this passage describes, they would come against me and speak falsely against me. My heart did ache, I felt alone, but yet in those moments I felt so much joy because ultimately all I had was Jesus and that is truly all I ever need.
I love how at the end of this passage Paul says, “We own nothing, and yet we have everything.” Paul had no attachment to earthy possessions, but what Paul did have was attachment to Jesus who is everything!!
Sacrifice doesn’t have to be something we hesitate about, we don’t have to be afraid, there is no need to back away from it. In living a life of sacrifice for Christ we will find that having attachment to material things will no longer satisfy, but rather the only satisfaction will come from a complete attachment to Jesus and the life He has called us to.
What are you willing to sacrifice for Jesus?
Lord, we ask that our hearts would have no attachment to this world but that we would have and find everything we are desiring in You. You are the source we need, You are ALL that we need. We don’t want to offer up a life to You that has not cost us something. Give us Your eyes to see and Your ears to hear. We don’t just want You as a supplement anymore! Transform us by Your Spirit! Even in the face of opposition would we keep our eyes set on YOU! Though no one go with us, still YOU are there! Help us to trust more and more in You! We know that the life You are asking us to live is not in vain! You don’t set us up for failure but rather Your plans have ALWAYS been for good and for prosperity! There is JOY and FREEDOM in living a life of sacrifice for Your name! Help us embrace all of You, not just the parts we want! We love You, Lord! You are the first and greatest love of our lives! There is nothing else but YOU!
In the mighty name of Jesus, Amen!