I (Mia) am not a reader. Relaxing in the tub with a book or snuggling up in front of the fire with a hit novel is not my cup of tea. So maybe that's why committing myself to read through the Bible in a year seemed so monumental.
OK, honestly it was the thought of reading through the Old Testament...Leviticus....Numbers...you know the fun ones. But I committed myself to do it.
What I found is as I read each day, seeking God's wisdom on every word, He unlocked a hunger and thirst inside of me that just wanted more. I soon found myself wanting to read on and on, but holding myself back so it wouldn't end and I wouldn't get to far ahead of the schedule. I was reminded that reading the Word of God isn't like reading a novel or the next best self help book. Reading the Bible is LIFE, food, drink for my soul. It is alive and it keeps me alive.
To my surprise, I found that some of my greatest moments were while I was sitting in the Old Testament chewing on His word, His promises and His miracles.
Right now I am in 1 Kings and the other day I read this passage:
"And all the elders of Israel came, and the priests took up the ark. And they brought up the ark of the Lord, the tent of meeting, and all the holy vessels that were in the tent; the priests and the Levites brought them up. And King Solomon and all the congregation of Israel, who had assembled before him, were with him before the ark, sacrificing so many sheep and oxen that they could not be counted or numbered." 1 Kings 8:3-5 (ESV)
A few things struck me.
1. The importance of sacrifice (and I am gonna lump offerings in there as well)
2. How much Solomon sacrificed (so much that it could not be counted or numbered)
3. The magnitude of Solomon's love (as shown through sacrifice)
I sat on those for a minute, then the BIG one got me.
4. How messy sacrifice is
I began to picture the reality of this sacrifice as King Solomon, who loved the Lord, brought up the ark of the covenant to this amazing temple that he had spent the last 11+ years building. It was messy. It was bloody. It was smelly. It just wasn't pretty or at least not my definition of pretty.
Their sacrifice as bloody and brutal as it was, was done hand in hand with their love, trust and faithfulness in their obedience to their Lord.
Now, here comes the mirror.
What am I sacrificing? Is what I call a sacrifice all pretty, neat and tidy, wrapped up in a bow, fun and easy......... not really much of a sacrifice at all. What do I give up (that is actually sacrificial and not self serving)? Do I give until it hurts or begins to pinch and push me into the place of being uncomfortable and trusting God completely. Do I sacrifice an equivalent of my love for God?
God sacrificed His son, Jesus for me.....It was brutal, it was bloody and it was not pretty to watch...BUT because of GOD'S GREAT LOVE for this world, He gave it all. The Lamb slaughtered. Jesus the perfect sacrifice once and for all.
I know there is nothing that I could give that would ever equal that, but that is not what God is asking me to do. He is simply asking me to sacrifice, to give, to un-clench my hands and give a bit more than I am giving now. And sometimes that sacrifice will hurt, sometimes the sacrifice will put my life in temporary turmoil, but I take heart. I have a faithful God who has sacrificed it all, so that I could freely sacrifice a little. But God is calling me this day to sacrifice a little more, to feel the pinch, to get messy, to get smelly with the sweet aroma of the sacrifice.
Is there an area where God might be calling you to sacrifice a little more? Together, let's trust Him and watch Him do amazing things for the glory of His holy Name.
PS. After the initial sacrifice when Solomon brought the Ark of the Covenant to the temple and the sacrifice numbers were too many to count, he gave his benediction and then proceeded to offer a peace offering of 22,000 oxen and 120,000 sheep..THEN they dedicated the house of the Lord.
Let's sacrifice and dedicate our lives to serving, loving and giving.
Lord, help us to give without flinching, to release without questioning, to sacrifice everything that you are calling us to sacrifice. And may it be a sweet aroma to you. Help us Lord this day by the your tender mercies , to present our bodies as living sacrifices, holy and acceptable to You. May this be our spiritual act of worship. In Jesus name, AMEN