Isaiah 61:1-3

The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is upon me, for the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to comfort the brokenhearted and to proclaim that captives will be released and prisoners will be freed. He has sent me to tell those who mourn that the time of the Lord’s favor has come, and with it, the day of God’s anger against their enemies. To all who mourn in Israel, he will give a crown of beauty for ashes, a joyous blessing instead of mourning, festive praise instead of despair. In their righteousness, they will be like great oaks that the Lord has planted for his own glory.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Offerings and Sacrifices

Those are two words that the world in general has heard of. Anyone that is devoted to any form of religion knows those words well. For me, as a Christian as well as a missionary, it means something different than the rest of the world, in a couple different ways.

What are offerings? The dictionary describes offerings as something that is offered, or the act of offering; something offered as a sacrifice to a deity; a financial contribution to a church, often made during a church service. Sounds pretty good, right? Think about that for a minute, and I’ll come back to this.

What are sacrifices? The dictionary describes sacrifices as a giving up of something valuable or important for somebody or something else considered to be of more value or importance; something valuable or important given up as a sacrifice; a loss incurred by giving away or selling something below its value; RELIGION an offering to honor or appease a god, especially of a ritually slaughtered animal or person. Except for the last one, that sounds ok, too; hard maybe, but ok. When the Israelites made their burnt offering, the animal was completely consumed on the altar, turned to ashes. They offered up a bull, sheep, goat or bird, without blemish. The blood of the animal would cover the sins of the people or person for a time. The important word is cover, not cause the sin to disappear. The only way for us to be completely washed of our sins is the blood of Jesus. His sacrifice was the ultimate, but also made a way for us to become intimate with Him and His father.

Today in church, a word came through someone that offerings are more than the ‘good’. They can be what we consider the ‘bad’ as well. Now, go back to the definition of offerings. It’s us offering something. Going back to sacrifices, it’s something we value. Putting them together, we give up or offer something of value.

What do you consider of value? Home, job, family; all of these things are of value. But what about the hurts, the disappointments, the anger, and the shame we all carry on a daily basis? Do we consider those something of value?

There are several definitions for value, but the one that makes the most sense in this case is the worth, importance, or usefulness of something to somebody; to regard somebody or something as important or useful.

Taking a look at my own life, and I’ll be honest, my biggest disappointment is the fact that I’m not married and honestly see no time in which that will come to pass. I’ve all but given up on that particular dream. It has been my biggest dream since I was little. I’ve even had several prophecies about it. I’m now in my early thirties and feel like time is slipping away for me to have a family. To make it harder, my younger brother has been married for almost nine years and has two beautiful little girls, six and two. I feel like he is living my dream.

Is this something I consider of value? My dream, however diminished it seems, is very valuable to me. The tough question I was faced with today is if the disappointment and the anger and hopelessness are all of value to me. The answer? It shouldn’t be. Until today, I never evaluated it, but since I’m still holding on to it, it does seem that it is valuable, in its sick and twisted way. That’s the way Satan gets us.

I consider all the disappointment, etc. bad. However, God still wants it. Why? Because it’s not His best for me. He wants me to sacrifice it, offer it to Him, so he can give me something of MORE value. Something that is ‘good’. Jeremiah 29:11 says “’For I know the plans I have for you,’ says the Lord. ‘They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.’”

Now, the question is, what am I going to do about it? It’s not something that is done easily, nor with a wrong heart. The point of sacrifice or an offering is not the act, but the attitude. It’s something that I will have to work on. But God is patient, and His grace is never ending.

What will you do about it? Will you hide, as I have done for so long, or will you go to Him and offer your sacrifice to Him? Looking at the sacrifice Jesus offered up to His Father for us, is it really that hard?

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