Today’s Text of Encouragement:
“Here my cry, O God; attend unto my prayer. From the end of the earth will I cry unto Thee, when my heart is overwhelmed: lead me to the rock that is higher than I.”
Psalm 61: 1, 2
King James Version
(I want to thank my dearest friend, Myrt for sending me this text yesterday.)
Today’s Text for Study:
“For Thou desirest not sacrifice; else would I give it: Thou delightest not in burnt offering.”
Psalm 51: 16
“Why God Loved David” – Part XXIV
“Every action done so as to cling to God in communion of holiness, and thus achieve blessedness, is a true sacrifice.”
Augustine of Hippo
What does the word “sacrifice” mean to me?
“I never made a sacrifice. We ought not to talk of “sacrifice” when we remember the great sacrifice which He made who left His Father’s throne on high to give Himself for us.”
“Forbid it, Lord, that I should boast, save in the death of Christ, my God; all the vain things that charm me most – I sacrifice them to His blood.”
If there is a part of the Old Testament that breaks my heart, it is reading about the “sacrifices” the children of Israel performed. This act was a visual remembrance, that sin causes death. And as we learned earlier in the week, it wasn’t a “sacrifice” demanded by an arbitrary, angry God, but instead, the sacrifices were to remind God’s children that sin had exacted a terrible price.
One thing we find in the Bible regarding “sacrifices,” is that like any type of event, they could become habitual rituals, and it is apparent, as we read through the Old Testament, that sometimes the “sacrifices” became routine. It was what you did. I ask you, “Is there any activity, even spiritual ones, in your own life, that have become so much of a custom, that you perform these activities without thinking?”
I’ll never forget a little prayer I used to say before bed each night. One evening, I was so tired, that as the words rotely left my lips, I suddenly jerked my head up off the bed when I dropped off to sleep. It seems I was not really thinking about what I was saying.
This is why I love the beautifully instructional words of C. T. Studd who wrote, “No sacrifice can be too great to make for Him who gave His life for me.” It would do us well each day to take a few moments and reflect on heavenly sacrifices for us. We find David begins expressing this same thought in Psalm 51: 16 when he tells God that he knows what God wants from us and it is not a burnt offering or “slaughter of an animal,” as the Hebrew translates the word, “sacrifice.” David tells God that he understands God wants more. Tomorrow, we’ll explore exactly what it is God longs for from His children. For today, I want to go back again to look at the words of the hymn, When I Survey The Wondrous Cross, often called “the finest hymn in the English language.” Verse three contains these deeply moving phrases: “See from His head, His hands, His feet, sorrow and love flow mingled down; did ever such love and sorrow meet, or thorns compose such a crown.”
It is this portrayal of the suffering of Jesus Christ which led some unknown individual to write: “Sacrifice is the ecstasy of giving the best we have to ‘the One we love the most.’” As Frederick Wood so eloquently penned, “The only life that counts is the life that costs.”
I want to end today’s devotional with the beautiful words of Peter Abelard – a prayer written over 1,000 years ago about sacrifice, pardon, and heaven’s gift to you and me.
“Walking alone, Lord, you go to your sacrifice,
victim of death, and our death’s mighty conqueror.
What can we say to you, knowing our poverty,
you, who have freed us from sin and from slavery?
Ours are the sins, Lord, and we are the guilty ones,
you, in your innocence, take on our punishment;
grant that our spirits may share in your suffering,
may our compassion respond to your pardoning.
Three sacred days are the time of our sorrowing,
as we endure now the night of our heaviness,
until the morning restores to us joyfulness;
Christ, newly risen, brings gladness for tearfulness.
Grant us, O Lord, to take part in your suffering,
that we may share in your heavenly victory;
through these sad days living humbly and patiently,
may we at Eastertide see you smile graciously.”
“Lord, when thou didst thy self undress
Laying by they robes of glory,
To make us more, thou wouldst be less,
And becamest a woeful story.
To put on clouds instead of light,
And clothe the morning-star with dust,
Was a translation of such height
As, but in thee, was ne’r expressed:
Brave worms, and earth! That thus could have
A God enclosed within your cell,
Your maker pent up in a grave,
Life locked in death, heaven in a shell;
Ah, my dear Lord! What couldst thou spy
In this impure, rebellious clay,
That made thee thus resolve to die
For those that kill thee every day?
O what strange wonders could thee move
To slight thy precious blood, and breath!
Sure it was love, my Lord; for love
Is only stronger far than death.”
Dorothy Valcàrcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
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