12. BEHOLD: His Sacrifice

Little babies are one of the most precious blessings to behold in this world. We look on them with awe and wonder –their little hands and feet. Their tiny personalities. The miracle of new life in so small and fragile a package.

When Christ became a baby, new life was not born. He had long existed –longer than any man. More powerful, more perfect, than we can fathom, He gave all of that up to be one of us, and one of us at our most vulnerable –newborn.

For that to happen, there were miracles, and there were many sacrifices.

Mary’s conception was miraculous –and required the sacrifice of her reputation at very least. For Joseph to take Mary as his wife and raise Jesus as a son was a sacrifice to his pride and likely very costly in a number of ways. God, meanwhile, was sacrificing His only son. We know that later, Jesus also sacrificed Himself for us.

“But when this priest (Jesus) had offered for all time one sacrifice for sins,

he sat down at the right hand of God”

Hebrews 10:12

Our modern celebration of Christmas comes with sacrifice too. We give up money to support the needy, contribute to celebrations, and get gifts for loved ones. Our time is certainly sacrificed to a number of things. For some of us, our talents are offered up, too. But to what end?

That newborn savior brought with Him a new birth into eternal life, for you and for me.

In our sacrifices, we have a model to follow after. His example is one of humility. He gave up that which was rightfully His –His place and person in heaven- to become like the least of us.

His sacrifice was made not to the altar of man and man’s demands, but to the Lord who so loved us. Can we say the same of our sacrifices this Christmas? Are they made out of love for the Lord?

“Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise

–the fruit of lips that openly profess his name.”

Hebrews 13:15

Behold, His great name, always worthy of our praise.

Behold, the ultimate sacrifice that now allows us be living sacrifices.

Behold, new life by the newborn’s sacrifice.

What Your Broken Heart is Worth

Photo from: Pixabay

I’ll admit, this idea hit me when I misheard the lyrics to “First” by Lauren Daigle. I thought she was singing: “before I bring my need I will break my heart.” The line didn’t quite make sense, but I was convinced that’s what she was singing, and then I read this verse:

“My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit;
a broken and contrite heart
you, God, will not despise.”
Psalm 51:17

Could it be that the Lord values our brokenness? That a worthy sacrifice in His eyes is our hearts –broken? It sounds sinister, but we know our Lord is good.

It follows then, that the Lord’s desire for our broken hearts is the same as the Lord’s desire for our good. A broken heart can be a blessing. A broken heart can glorify God.

Earlier, in Psalm 51:10, we read the much loved line:

Create in me a pure heart, O God,
and renew a steadfast spirit within me.”

Could it be that this heart is one in the same at times?

David exemplified this as he wrote this Psalm. It was written when David was confronted about his adultery with Bathsheba. Convicted and mourning his sinfulness and its consequences (like his son’s resulting death,) David chose not to turn from God. He chose not to mend his grief with proof that he could be worthy again if he tried.

Instead, David offered the Lord his broken heart. It was through that sacrifice that David’s heart was made clean again and that His joy was returned. Through that sacrifice and brokenness, David was given a willing spirit again and could experience and witness the Lord’s true forgiveness.

When our hearts are broken, something is exposed and made vulnerable. What’s inside the heart (though formerly fortified) becomes available for change, healing, and growth. In fact, the healing work of redemption is nothing without there first being a need for the healing and the redemption.

When we break open our hearts (or have them broken and hand them to the Lord,) it is a sacrifice on our part. It’s a sacrifice of dignity, of a sense of control, and of our pride. To sacrifice our broken hearts to the Lord is to say: “I won’t try to fix this my way, but I will it to you for your glory and your glorious work.”

It is praise to the Lord to offer Him our broken hearts as sacrifices, because we’re offering for Him to freely correct, clean, and rebuild us as He pleases, to His glory. It is a putting aside of all the gunk we have in our hearts to return our hearts to their maker. When your heart is breaking, let it be a blessing and a praise.

This post is being shared on: #LifeGivingLinkup #TestimonyTuesday, #RaRaLinkup, #Intentionally Pursuing, #WomenWithIntention, and #TellHiStory.

Being Empty Versus Being Emptied

photo from: mymorningmeditations.com

Who hasn’t reached the end of a day exhausted, empty, and totally wiped out? We all have moments like that, and sometimes they come after we’ve done good things. It’s often after VBS, the big retreat, or an amazing series of conversations about the Gospel that we find ourselves feeling drained.

Paul understood this feeling and alluded to it in his epistle of joy, saying:

“But even if I am being poured out like a drink offering on the sacrifice and service coming from your faith, I am glad and rejoice with all of you” Philippians 2:17

All that comes from faith comes as a pouring out, a giving up. Romans 12 refers to this as “offering ourselves up as living sacrifices.” This was true of Christ. In His earthly ministry, Jesus lived a life of emptying Himself out. Even in the beginning, He:

“…though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant.”Philippians 2:7

He emptied Himself for the crowds, forsaking the appearances of wisdom and righteous reputation. In the eyes of this world, He gave up His high stature as teacher and prophet to mingle with the sinners and the poor. He gave of Himself to heal others, to raise the dead, to teach those who never listened. His heart was constantly poured out on those who He knew would betray Him.

Jesus even emptied Himself of His life on the cross.

BUT, Jesus was never empty. Likewise, Paul, in the earlier passage, said he was “poured out” yet just two chapters later explained that he is content in every situation. That’s because he knew the secret to contentment.

Indeed, Paul, imitating Christ, knew the secret to being emptied without ever being empty: To be filled with the joy and hope of the promise of God. To live as one who believes and acts on the truth that:

“He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior”Titus 3:5-6

See, the Holy Spirit is always with us. Present and working, dwelling in us, the Holy Spirit fills us, constantly renewing us in the Lord. Jesus promises that:

Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them” (John 7:38.)

Living water doesn’t dry up. The Holy Spirit doesn’t flee. The Word of God never fails to refresh. Christ’s transforming work in us never dries up. We can be living sacrifices. We can pour ourselves out in faith. Because we can rely on the maker of water, the multiplier of all we need, and the well of life to keep us full.

Drink deeply of Christ. Be filled. As He pours out generously, so can we.

This post is being shared on: #Thought-Provoking Thursday #Faith-Filled Friday, and #DanceWithJesus.