Posts Tagged ‘sacrifice’

This is a second post started on October 30, 2013.  It was a time of processing the trial that God had already brought us through and preparing for what was ahead.  i have no direct memory of what brought me to Psalm 118 but remember well the joining of Blessing, Sacrifice and Thanks in my heart and soul.

Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the LORD; We have blessed you from the house of the LORD. The LORD is God, and He has given us light; Bind the festival sacrifice with cords to the horns of the altar. You are my God, and I give thanks to You; You are my God, I extol You. Give thanks to the LORD, for He is good; For His lovingkindness is everlasting.  Psalm 118:26-29

As I was reading today I found this passage of Scripture interesting in its fusion of concepts:  Blessing, Sacrifice and Thanks.  We are always excited about blessing.  We see ourselves as coming from our Lord God and appreciate the blessings that come from Him as well as those that come by way of His people.  Likewise we are often prepared to lavish our thanks on Him in prayer and song.  However when it comes to the centerpiece of this Scripture we tend to balk a little, or a lot.  In a culture of individual value the concept of personal sacrifice in service of our God has been watered down almost to the point of non-existence.

How we hesitate (or refuse) to bind the festival sacrifice with cords to the horns of the altar.  This act was in preparation for sacrifice.  It may be that the picture that David is painting is of a temple court crowded with animals to be sacrificed.  Binding them to the horns of the altar committed them to God as they waited to be placed on the altar.  The Hebrew word for cords here is indicative of a celebratory garland as opposed to utilitarian rope.  Sacrifice is in celebration of the blessing and the thankfulness that arise from our faith in a good and loving Father.  How often we bind our sacrifices to the altar with the dingy and weak cords of reluctance.

“Each one must do just as he has purposed in his heart, not grudgingly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.”  2 Corinthians 9:7

We need to wrap our sacrifice in the garland of joy and love.

“Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of Worship.”  Romans 12:1

Jesus has led us to the path of real sacrifice.  It is absolute.  It is sacrifice of being.

Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although he existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking  the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men.  Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on the cross. Philippians 2:6-8

Once we come to this place sacrifice becomes culture because we recognize that it is all His to begin with and that the true nature of sacrifice is abundance freed from circumstance.

Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. Luke 6:38

I do not believe that this is talking about a quid pro quo relationship with God.  He is not a God of “this for that”.  We do not sacrifice for reward, this would be meaningless, and probably not qualify as sacrifice at all.  Instead we demonstrate our capacity to receive blessing by embracing the sacrificial example of Jesus Christ.

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1 If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 3 If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing.

4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

8 Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears. 11 When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me. 12 Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.

13 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

How many times have I read this passage?  I would not even dare to guess.  Probably many more times than is apparent by the state of my love life.  BTW how is your love life?  Perhaps not an uncommon question among the sitcoms, romantic comedies and even dramas of the world.  As a Christian I should ask this question more often than I have.  However the key to the answer is not in the question.  It is rather in Paul’s words recorded (by the inspiration of God) in 1 Corinthians 13.  It is in the magnificent story of a God who fashions an incredible plan throughout history to teach his creation the truth about love, a truth that was lost so many centuries ago in a place called Eden.

So how is your love life?  The Prodigal son knew that his love life was great.  His family was rich, his friends abundant and I would imagine he was quite the ladies man.  On the world economy he was a love billionaire and he knew it.  So when his buddies asked, “How’s your love life?”  our boy could get a grin and say, “I am getting it all!  In fact I am going to go to my father and get even more!  My love life is going to be totally out of control then!”

“The younger one said to his father, ‘Father, give me my share of the estate.’ So he divided his property between them.” Luke 15:11

I bet he walked away thinking how much he loved his old man.  He was caught up in love, the love of the world.  It is about what we can get.  It is about how people, actions and things make US feel.  It is an economy of love that is pervasive in the world and invasive in the Body of Christ.  It is an economy of love that can only be escaped by death and resurrection to new life and even then it is an economy of love that will sap the strength of the faithful, destroy families, destroy churches, destroy ministries and spread deception everywhere that it takes hold.  It is the great battle of Getting vs. Giving.  It is the economy of Love that left the prodigal penniless, friendless and without hope.  However we serve a God of hope, of redemption, of resurrection and of reconciliation so that no matter how deeply we have sunk into the World’s love He will welcome us home and kill the fatted calf for a feast beyond all expectation and imagination when we return to him.  No matter how broken we are Jesus is ready and willing to accept us into his Love, a love of giving even to the ultimate sacrifice.

“Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus:

6 Who, being in very nature[a] God,
did not consider equality with God something to be grasped,
7 but made himself nothing,
taking the very nature[b] of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
8 And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
and became obedient to death—
even death on a cross!
9 Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
and gave him the name that is above every name,
10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.”   Phil. 2:4b-11

How’s your love life?  Give Giving a try.  The Bible gives us the rest of the story and I’ll give you a hint:  In G vs G, Giving wins.

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