Tag Archive | sacrifice

A Nest on Your Altar

ImageMost of our issues in life could be resolved if we discarded our own opinions, perspectives, and prejudices and simply asked God to give us His view of our problem.  The difficulty is, receiving His perspective requires following His example.  What does the Bible say about this process?  In Romans 12:1-2 [Amplified Bible], Paul exhorts us as follows:   “I appeal to you therefore, brethren, and beg of you in view of [all] the mercies of God, to make a decisive dedication of your bodies [presenting all your members and faculties] as a living sacrifice, holy (devoted, consecrated) and well pleasing to God, which is your reasonable (rational, intelligent) service and spiritual worship.  Do not be conformed to this world (this age), [fashioned after and adapted to its external, superficial customs], but be transformed (changed) by the [entire] renewal of your mind [by its new ideals and its new attitude], so that you may prove [for yourselves] what is the good and acceptable and perfect will of God, even the thing which is good and acceptable and perfect [in His sight for you].”   Apparently, in order to truly see things from God’s perspective, in order to transform the way we think, we must climb up on His altar and commit ourselves wholly to Him.  Only then can we benefit from His point of view, as He has already made the trip to the altar on our behalf (when Jesus went to the cross). 

The altar is a scary place; if we regard it as a place of dedication, it sounds noble and virtuous.   However, if we remember that the original altar in the Hebrew tabernacle was the place where flesh was burned on our behalf in order to pave the way for a relationship with the holy God who made heaven and earth, we realize that climbing up on His altar involves more than a simple dedication of ourselves to His purposes.   There is a decided risk that something will burn up and be forever consumed!

Since Jesus risked everything on the cross and laid down His life as a perfect and holy sacrifice for me, I honestly must consider it my reasonable service to offer myself to Him — but I discover, to my chagrin, that I nobly climb up on that altar, yield myself to His service, only to clamber down (at the least provocation or the faintest hint of the smell of smoke!) and forget about my initially professed devotion altogether!  I am so grateful that God is faithful to give us multiple opportunities to offer ourselves to Him and climb back up on His altar, since HE WENT FIRST! 

The psalmist in Psalm 84:1-3 speaks of the beauty of the altar:  “How lovely are Your dwelling places, O Lord of hosts! My soul longed and even yearned for the courts of the Lord; my heart and my flesh sing for joy to the living God.The bird also has found a house, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may lay her young, even Your altars, O Lord of hosts, my King and my God.”   May God deliver me of the fear of what might be consumed in the fire of His Presence and empower me to dwell on His altar and make my nest there!  May He thereby give me the ability to regard everything from His perspective, the perspective gained from the vantage point of the cross, the quintessential altar!

Hypothetical Sacrifice

A song by Jeremy Riddle entitled “What Can I Bring” has been on my mind all week.  For me, the most riveting part of the song is the little bridge section.  The words are as follows:  “Had I riches, I would bring them.  Had I kingdoms, I would lose them.  Had I the world, too small a gift would it be for You.” Years ago, when I first heard this song, that refrain gripped my heart and has continued to grip my heart ever since.   I viewed it as a promise to God that I would be willing to give Him everything of value that I have, IF I ever were to have those things.   The mere consideration of  the impact of that declaration would bring me to tears as I sang the song.   I was certain I would be willing to give God everything, absolutely everything, if only I had it.

Suddenly, this week, as I was preparing to use that song in a worship set for a meeting, a bit of incisive revelation dropped into my soul:   I DO have riches; I DO have kingdoms; I already have far more of this world in me than is healthy.   Am I willing to completely surrender those precious things to Jesus?   If I am honest with myself, I already have an abundance of riches:  I have a jewel of a husband, five children who are treasures to me, an extended family I cherish, and friends I hold dear — not to mention books to read, a home, a clean bed, food in the pantry, and innumerable material goods that have no real eternal value but which make life pleasant.  I get concerned about the people I love and occasionally allow my thoughts to follow pit-in-the-stomach kind of thinking that borders on unholy worry.  Although I prefer not to admit it, I DO have “kingdoms” over which I attempt to rule:  my overloaded schedule, my authority to make decisions for myself in certain areas of my life, and my own abilities in specific realms I regard as “my” areas of expertise.  Regarding “the world,”  I am probably more steeped in the trappings of this world than I am willing to recognize. 

The truth is, Jesus wants us to give him the riches we already have!   He is not asking us to give Him something we do NOT have.   He wants me to yield to Him every concern about my children, my husband, and all the people I hold close to my heart.  He longs for me to offer Him my schedule, my plans, my dreams, and every area I think I “rule.”   He desires to continue to purge me of the baggage of this world that profits nothing.  Revelation 2:4 states that He wants to be our FIRST love:  “Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken the love you had at first.”

Father, I do bring You my riches, my kingdoms, and the pieces of the world I cling to, and I choose to offer them to You.   However, I need YOU to empower me to actually release them to You, as sometimes I grip them too tightly!  You are eminently faithful to work Your purposes in me; help me to trust You with all “my” riches, kingdoms, and all the things of this world, and help me to make them Yours!  “But seek first His kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” (Matthew 6:33)  God is a far better steward of riches, kingdoms, and the world than we could ever be!

Father, I have riches; I will bring them!  I have kingdoms, I will lose them!  I have the world — too small a gift even THAT is for You!