~ Sweet Sacrifices ~
Part 4 of 4
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A message from our Lord to His children (as spoken through His prophets and teachers):
The sacrifice that honors Me is a thankful heart. Obey Me, and I, your God, will show My power to save. (Psalm 50:23) Offerings and sacrifices are not what I want. The way to please Me is to feel sorrow deep in your hearts. This is the kind of sacrifice I won't refuse. (Psalm 51:16-17) Doing what is right and fair pleases Me more than an offering. (Psalm 21:3) Do I really want sacrifices and offerings? No! I want you to obey Me. Rebelling against Me or disobeying Me because you are proud is just as bad as worshiping idols or asking them for advice. (1 Samuel 15:22) Your sacrifice is to keep offering praise to Me in the Name of Jesus. But don't forget to help others and to share your possessions with them. This too is like offering a sacrifice that pleases Me. (Hebrews 13:15-16) Offer your bodies to Me as a living sacrifice, pure and pleasing. That's the most sensible way to serve Me. Don’t be like the people of this world, but let Me change the way you think. Then you will know how to do everything that is good and pleasing to Me. (Romans 12:1-2) [But keep in mind,] even if you gave away all that you owned and let yourself be burned alive, it is all for nothing unless you love…There is faith, hope and love. But of these three, the greatest is love. (1 Corinthians 13:3,13)
My Lord, Your sacrificial demands are indeed sweet to my spirit. You ask for love, for gratitude, for self-nurturing. You ask for our very selves. Your Son proclaimed, "Deny Me before others and I will tell my Father in heaven that you don't belong to Me." (Matthew 10:33) Your apostle Peter did just that, as Your Son gazed on him at a distance. Yet You forgave Peter and filled him with Your Holy Spirit. Even in his denial, You gave Peter the most treasured Gift.
You are so loving and forgiving. The sacrifices You demand are not for You, but for our good. These are not sacrifices of appeasement for Your sake. These are Your answers to our prayer, "Give us, this day, our daily bread." What You demand from us actually sustains and nurtures us. In Your boundless love, our sacrifices are Your gifts of blessings. They are not grievous. It is like a parent telling the child, "Sacrifice the pleasure of the taste of ice cream for now for the nutrition of your vegetables." Like earthly parents, You provide the ice cream as a consequence of our obedience to Your perfect wisdom. Sweet sacrifices.
The more I ponder Your ways, the more amazed I am at my own wretched lack of knowledge and comprehension. The sacrifice most pleasing to You is my own spiritual growth in You and through You. This is indeed sweet and I remain overwhelmed with gratitude.
Help me in my practice of obedience to You. My Lord, You tell us the way to please You is to feel deep sorrow in our hearts. I understand what You mean. When I grieve Your Spirit, my heart grieves deeply. It bleeds for You as Your Son's bled for me. Is it possible to feel sorrow and joy together? These reflections on the days of Lent bring deep sorrow at my lack of perfect obedience to You, which is the offering and sacrifice You want. They also bring joy and thankfulness to my heart as I embrace Your forgiveness and love. That is also the sacrifice You want. May my sorrow and joy be acceptable sacrifices to You, my Lord and my God.
John S. Hilkevich, Ph.D.
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Weekly Reflections © March 23, 2000
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