June 3, 2016
Over the many years before Jesus died on the cross, God called the Israelites to offer animals as sacrifices for their sin. Sacrifice was a symbol for the coming Jesus who would one day die for all sins. Sacrifice also showed the people they needed to be obedient to God and His instructions. The act of sacrifice acknowledged God as the holy ruler of everything. Because sacrifices were offered at regular time intervals, they also provided a way for God’s people to develop some spiritual disciplines.
Then Jesus came and gave His own life on the cross to pay the ultimate everlasting sacrifice for our sins. Just before He died, Jesus said, “It is finished.” He died for all sins—past, present and future. We no longer have to offer sacrifices to pay for our sins. When we accept Jesus as our Savior and make Him Lord of our lives, our sins are transferred to Jesus’ account and are forgiven. PAID IN FULL! The really cool bonus is that Jesus’ righteousness and His perfection is also credited to our account. That is the account God sees when He looks at us once we have accepted Christ’s death for us.
But you see, we are called to be living sacrifices. We die to ourselves and surrender our lives to Him. He wants us to turn the control of our minds and bodies over to His care and plan. Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done; not my kingdom come, my will be done. He views the total submission of our lives to His control as our ultimate act, our living sacrifice. Paul even calls it our spiritual worship.
A living sacrifice sounds so formal and daunting. But a living sacrifice is simply committing your actions, conduct or behavior to God. What are your actions? Actions are just the final step of your heart, your attitude, your viewpoint and your values. All of this together, including the end action (which can be an internal one that nobody sees or an external one that others do see) is the decision-making process. The reason I pound away at the importance of decision-making skills and strategy, is that decision-making is our spiritual worship. Godly decisions are an awesome form of worship. Garbage decisions occur when you worship yourself or something other than God.
Most of us like to feel in control. The thought of turning control over to someone else, even a loving and caring God, can seem frightening, risky or just unappealing. What we need to remember is that God is a merciful and compassionate God. He wants what is best for us—and only He knows what that really is. He is all-knowing and all-powerful. We aren’t. It’s far better to submit to God’s control and trust His plan than have an attitude of “I can do it myself.” Offer your body as a living sacrifice.
Today, are you struggling with a temptation, a problem or a challenge in your life? Sacrifice your agenda for God’s. Why not? Look what your way has gotten you. Apply God’s agenda for one week. Really practice it daily. Ask others for their prayer, encouragement and accountability in this quest. See the power of God when you submit completely to His plan. Whether you die to self and offer your body as a living sacrifice to God or you worship yourself, it’s your decision, so choose well.
Dear Holy God, I thank You for Jesus. I thank You that through Him, my sins are forgiven. I have committed my life to You and claim to make You Lord of every area of my life. But so many times I try to take back control. I know this shows a lack of trust in You. Please forgive me. May my body—all that I am—be a living sacrifice to You. I pray this and all prayers in the name of the One who was the ultimate sacrifice, Jesus Christ. And all God’s children say AMEN!
“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.” Romans 12:1-2