“Sow with a view to righteousness, Reap in accordance with kindness; Break up your fallow ground, For it is time to seek the LORD Until He comes to rain righteousness on you.” (Hosea 10:12)

In the course of my travels, I come across many associations who are quick to speak about the work they are doing in their service to the Kingdom of God. I do not mean this as a critique of their service as this is what we are to do is provide a reasonable service to our Lord. What we are commanded to do in our reasonable service is to sacrifice our bodies unto the Lord that He may live through them to do His ministry work. He purchased our bodies with His blood, indwelled our body with His Spirit, to empower us to do the good works He has prepared beforehand for us to accomplish. I see this as our duty in our worship of Him. “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)

Sacrifice has a lot to do with working out our salvation. We are not saved by our works but by the grace of God through faith. There is nothing that a man can do to earn God’s salvation, he can’t work for it, cannot earn it, and he cannot buy salvation, as the price is beyond what man could pay. Whatever we do in sacrifice in service to our Lord is done in His power of the Holy Spirit. It is Jesus living through us that accomplishes the work that we do for Him. Without Him we cannot do the work as without Him there is no redeeming power of reconciliation. He sacrificed for us that we can in return sacrifice for Him. We live in His power by abiding in Him. “Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me.” (John 15:4)

What the Lord does not want are the empty sacrifices that we so often offer up to Him. Some of the things we do for the Lord is sacrifice are good and noble tasks. But if they are not done in the power of His Spirit they have no eternal value. We can come to His house to worship in Church but if we are not worshipping Him in the Spirit of Truth, then He sees through that. It is at the Judgment Seat of Christ that our works in the power of His Spirit will be judged. (2 Corinthians 5:10) The works we do in our own power and for our own glory will have no eternal value and are empty sacrifices. This was the problem for the Israelite people they gave many sacrifices to the Lord but lacked faith in the purpose of sacrifice. They were caught in tradition rather than purpose. Therefore, their sacrifices were empty. “What are your multiplied sacrifices to Me?” Says the LORD.”  (Isaiah 1:11)

The Old Testament law and Jesus Himself made it clear as to what God wants from us, God wants our heart. “You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.” (Deuteronomy 6:5; Matthew 25:37) The Apostle Paul also made this clear in his letter to the Church at Corinth that God does not want anything we have but our heart. God loves you, not your possessions. “Here for this third time I am ready to come to you, and I will not be a burden to you; for I do not seek what is yours, but you; for children are not responsible to save up for their parents, but parents for their children.” (2 Corinthians 12:14)

What we give to God is what He proposes in our hearts to give. As Children of God the Father, He gives us time, talent, and treasure. What we desire to do is give a portion back to Him as a sacrificial offering. What should we give and how much is enough. It all belongs to God, it is God that gives us life, if our time, talent, and treasure are His, then how much should we give back to Him. Would the measure be established by God’s measure? God gave us His first and best for our redemption. Is that the measure we should follow? Yes! First, we give Him our heart, our soul, and we give it because we love Him with all our might. As we grow in our relationship with Him by our prayers and study of His Word He directs the proportion that we are to return unto Him. “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 could look at it as a sacrifice of our love, as a reasonable service, as an investment, and it is all of these things. And the return is found in the promises of His word for our love of God. “Give, and it will be given to you. They will pour into your lap a good measure–pressed down, shaken together, and running over. For by your standard of measure it will be measured to you in return.” (Luke 6:38)

The Christian Believer in Christ has been called to become an example for the world to see as a citizen of the Kingdom of God. A life to live devoted to righteousness, which shows the holiness of God who is the King of the ages. “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.” (1 Peter 2:9) This is a work done in the born-again believer in the power of the Holy Spirit to renew the mind, therefore, the heart of the Child of God. God called the Israelite nation to the same endeavor but they could not and would not obey. “Wash yourselves, make yourselves clean; Remove the evil of your deeds from My sight. Cease to do evil.” (Isaiah 1:16)

Neither can we who have also been called to live righteously. We will stumble and fall to sinful deeds in the flesh. But rather than making empty sacrifices we look to the perfect sacrifice of God Himself in the Son Jesus Christ. It is Jesus who paid the debt of sin and offers forgiveness by His grace. “He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed.” (1 Peter 2:24) All are sinners but those who believe in Jesus and accept His work of redemption on the cross in their place shall receive forgiveness by their confession of sin. “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9)

The sacrifice that God wants is that He empowers us to give. He gave us the greatest love and we give our love in return. He has given us time, talent, and treasure and we give His portion back in return. He gave us meaningful purpose in the Kingdom by empowering us to do it in the power of His Spirit, and we faithfully return it. He searches our hearts and knows our true intentions and this is the guide of our own judgment. “I, the LORD, search the heart, I test the mind, Even to give to each man according to his ways, According to the results of his deeds.” (Jeremiah 17:10)

It is about our personal relationship with Jesus in the Spirit of Truth and nothing less. Someday we will face our Lord and Savior and the questions is not do we know who He is but does He know who we are in the Spirit of Truth. The players will hear these horrible words, “And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.” (Matthew 7:22-23) His faithful will hear these marvelous words from the King of kings and Master of creation their Savior and advocate, the Lord God Almighty. “His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful slave. You were faithful with a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.” (Matthew 25:21)

Thomas N Kirkpatrick

First Baptist Church of Durant, December 22, 2018

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