Thursday, September 11, 2014

Sacrifice

                The word sacrifice has been rolling around in my mind and in my heart for a few days now. When I think about sacrifice, one of my first thoughts is to the Cross. I see Jesus hanging upon the cross, hunched over, and bleeding to death for my sake. I see the blood of His sacrifice upon the ground, washing away my sins. The greatest sacrifice ever displayed for man was the sacrifice of God’s only Son. The sacrifice of Jesus Christ allowed me to live. It has allowed me to have a relationship with God my Father that I could never have had any other way. It opened the door for grace and mercy and forgiveness. It opened the door for all men, everywhere, to be saved. Sacrifice saved me.
                The word sacrifice means to put something to death as an offering to God. Scripture teaches us that sacrifice is also an act of worship and an act of love and devotion. In the Old
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Testament an animal would be laid upon the altar for the sacrifice. The sacrifice would then be tied down to the horns of the altar so that it did not get away. This has always spoken to me because sacrifice is not something I am good at. Being the selfish woman that I am laying anything down and not picking it back up again is difficult for me. When the Lord asks me to sacrifice something for His sake, or to put some part of me to death, I have a tendency to try and wriggle off the altar. Generally, the Lord has to tie me down to the horns of the altar; otherwise I will jump off and run out of the temple. (Psalm 118:27)
                The Lord calls all of us to give sacrifice to Him throughout scriptures. I am not here today to go through all the various types of sacrifices, the meanings, or purposes of them. My only intent is to share with you what sacrifice means to me- today. My intent is to show you what the Lord is asking me to lay down and put to death as an offering to Him.
                “And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma.” Ephesians 5:2 NKJV
                Jesus Christ was the perfect example of sacrifice. He willingly left His heavenly throne to come to earth and take our sinful flesh upon Himself. (Philippians 3) He willingly carried the weight of our sins upon His back and suffered intense, extreme pain for our sakes. He suffered separation from Himself, as God the Father poured out upon Him the wrath that we deserved. He suffered terribly, yet never once tried to take Himself down off the Cross. He did not have to be tied to the altar. He put Himself on the altar and bled and died for me. This is the greatest, most wonderful sacrifice ever given for mankind.
               Just as Christ sacrificed for our sakes, we too must sacrifice for the sake of others. Paul tells us in Ephesians that we are to walk in love as Christ has loved us. How did Christ love us? How did Christ show us that love? He showed it to us upon that cross, through the willing sacrifice of His very life. That is what it means to offer sacrifice to God. God calls each one of us to live as sacrifices, to offer to Him daily the sacrifice of our lives for the sake of His love. His love is seen in the cross of Jesus Christ, and the sacrifice He gave. This same love can be seen in us when we willingly sacrifice our lives for the sake of others.
                God may not be calling you to die today for someone else. But He is calling each one of us to sacrifice our rights, our wants, our desires, our hopes, our dreams for the sake of someone He wants to show love to. This sacrifice may require you to walk away from a discussion that you know is not godly. This sacrifice may require you to give up a part of your day that you really don’t want to. This sacrifice may require you to do something you would not normally do. The sacrifices that the Lord is calling each one of us to do will require us to lie down on the altar and die to something we would rather hold onto.
                Paul tells us in Romans 12:1 that we are to “present our bodies as a living sacrifice”. Paul is showing us that our lives are to be continually sacrificed for the sake of others. Not because we have anything to offer, but because through our sacrifices the love of God can be seen and experienced by someone who needs it most. The love that I say I have for someone is nothing if it is not seen. Love is not something that we feel, love is not an emotion. Love is an action that we are called to walk out every single day of our lives. Love requires sacrifice. Love for God requires sacrifice. Love for one another requires sacrifice. Love is sacrifice. Without sacrifice there can be no love. Jesus proved that on the cross.
                There is some area of your life right now that God is calling you to lay down on the altar of His grace and offer as sacrifice to Him. Sacrifice is never easy. It always hurts. It hurts because sacrifice causes pain. It causes us to put to death something in us that our flesh wants to hold onto. It causes us to crucify upon the altar of God’s grace and mercy our very life. We are selfish, pride and unloving people by nature. It is only the love of God and the Holy Spirit renewing us daily that allows us to be a people of love. But that love will always require us to sacrifice for the sake of someone else. Don’t be deceived, sacrifice is never easy, and sacrifice will always lead to death. The question we must ask ourselves is if we are willing to be that sacrifice for the sake of someone else.

                I am convicted by the words that the Lord has led me to write today, because He has shown me that the love I say I have for others is not really love at all, because I am not always willing to sacrifice for their sakes. To love one another as Christ loved us we must be willing to sacrifice our very lives for their sakes. Sacrifice is required of us all. Sacrifice is the greatest witness of Jesus Christ to the world. Because it was through His sacrifice that mankind was saved, and it is through our sacrifices that the world will see Christ. What is the Lord asking you to sacrifice today?