Friday, December 10, 2004

sacrifice without cost

Tonight we had the first of three performances of our Christmas musical. Nearly three months of tiring work and rehearsals are now culminating in three one and a half hour presentations of a Christmas story and gospel message. The past week with numerous full rehearsals, exams, checking residents out of the room plus my normal job at the bookstore have resulted in a week of less sleep than the week before. With bags under my eyes (or is that leftover mascara from the stage make-up?), I type this blog to share what God has taught me today.

Before production, the director led the entire cast in prayer. Much of it I cannot remember after he said, "Lord this is our sacrifice to You..." Like anything else, this statement made me think. Earlier that day, I received an email from Casey in which she quoted 1 Chronicles 21:24. David is purchasing a threshing floor to make an alter unto the Lord. The owner, Ornan offers not only the place but also the oxen and the wheat and wood for the sacrifices. David rebukes him saying, "No, but I will surely buy it for the full price; for I will not take what is yours for the LORD, or offer a burnt offering which costs me nothing."

David refused to give an offering that did not cost him. How often do we offer sacrifices that cost us little or nothing. I'll offer God whatever He wants just as long as it doesn't hurt or doesn't cost me much. I repent, my friends, of worthless sacrifice. The word sacrifice denotes something of value being given up for someone else. Without value and cost, whatever one gives up is not really a sacrifice and is worthless.

I am reminded of when Paul instructed the Roman church to "present your bodies as a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual [act] of worship (Romans 12:1)." This is not an easy thing. It requires giving up everything for God. WHATEVER He wants us to do and to give up, we are obliged because we are a sacrifice given to Him. Our hopes, dreams and desires are laid upon the altered and sacrificed to Him, the One who has paid such a high price for us. Years ago, I desired to be in politics, but God had other desires for me. Ministry is where I am and am headed now. My desires were killed upon the alter and replaced with Him.

Sacrifice is costly and rightly so. This weekend and its performances will be tiring and will be (as if it hasn't been already) very costly for all involved. We could be hanging out and having fun or working and making money, but those of us in the production have chosen to pay the full price, and offer up this sacrifice to God.

Let us all do this. Not necessarily with a dramatic presention but with our lives. Let us live each day in a sacrificial mode paying the costly price to give God whatever He desires and deserve. It may be talking to that homeless guy with the stank breath or talking to the Goth teen at the mall who looks like she wants to kill everyone around her. Whatever the cost--financially and to our comfort zones, let us pay the price so we won't have sacrifices without cost. After all, God did not make a costless sacrifice for us. Let us not make one for Him.

till Christ is formed in us...


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