Empty Sacrifice

I am finally beginning to understand the greatness if David. As I am sure you have heard him described as one of the most prominent Biblical heroes, but it’s not until you look over his life and his response to situations and his words that explain his epic nature. Yes, he was an ordinary man, but God’s extraordinary work was very evident in his life, in spite of his detrimental faults, which spilled over into his son whose life for the most part was honorable and I can see why he was such a ladies man. Getting back to the point, in the last post I referenced the story of David counting the people of Israel and to right his wrong he built an altar, the process of which is my attention this go around.

Long story short David needed a place and supplies to build an altar and make a sacrifice, but the person whom the angel of the Lord led him to purchase from was reluctant to take his money because of a reverent intimidation of David and his entourage. (Read the story for specifics, 1 Chr 21:18f.) Nevertheless, during this exchange, David made this statement:

“I will not take for the Lord what is yours, or sacrifice a burnt offering that costs me nothing.”

Well I just thought that was the most profound thing ever! So friggin’ deep! But in all seriousness, what it says is much of the heart of being you for a purpose. For starters, you can’t give God your best if what you give Him belongs to someone else, meaning you just took it without aligning it to fit into what God has for you. At times, yes we need help in getting to where God has called us, but not at the expense of others and not in a way that refuses a symbol of gratitude or honor for those who have helped us along the way. I think the heart of David here tells us that as much as we can, what we give should be equally reciprocated in some way or another, if not now then in the future. But, if the motive is strictly refusing what God has already blessed us with and put it aside to take advantage of someone else’s blessing, the fault and wrongdoing is ours and we have utterly missed the mark and in no way are being who God would have us to be.

Likewise, any success book talks about sacrifice and investment and to me David had the same mentality, in that nothing in life worth having is for free, whether in time, energy, money, or anything of the sort. In his particular situation he wanted to make up for the wrong he had done and save the lives of his people as a result, and so I believe that his desire was to give all he could to get the ultimate response. So by not paying, it’s as if to say there was no true investment or he didn’t really give up or sacrifice anything to get back in fellowship with the Lord.

To me that just says so much, and as I’ve done before, I may be completely over-thinking, over-analyzing, or just going way to deep, but I guess the point of these blogs is to share what I took away and what I’ve learned of various things, such as my devotions. I say all that to say, don’t give God anything cheap, lacking any intrinsic or even extrinsic value, or half-hearted, otherwise you psych yourself our because true fellowship and worship will cost something and will require sacrifice, of which the gospels speak about. Don’t try to get over on God or get over on people, because God knows our hearts and motives and because He gave and continuously gives us His best – even if we don’t recognize it at the time – He then deserves our absolute best, not someone else’s because what you give of someone else becomes your worst. But, when the Lord leads you to persons to assist you to further the purpose He has for you, show humility and give them your best, because they sacrificed for you, so don’t make it empty or worth nothing.

Cost vs. Value

This weekend was amazing. I went to Chicago for the very first time. I flew into O’Hare and from that point to getting settled into the hotel, it was quite an experience. Nonetheless, I flew in to attend the Team 50K Summer Conference of Amway. To say the least, it was an amazing time, being in a positive atmosphere with an awesome people. Just with the speakers alone, there was so much information, so many words spoken that were rather profound, and two that spoke the most to me.

The first was the phrase “design your life.” There is so much that is wrapped into those three words. Living a life of purpose, it’s imperative to have a goal in mind, because it is near impossible to live a life that counts for something without having a plan or a vision as to where you are trying to go. Thus, it’s about a choice. What choices have you made and which will you make that will lead to and or get you closer to living the life you design under God’s will? So many times we get complacent and allow ourselves to settle, and  complacency is a dangerous place to be. That does not mean contentment is wrong, but the idea of not doing more and existing rather than living a life of purpose is. All in all, at some point we all have to ask ourselves “what kind of life do I want to live?” Once we develop and answer, our immediate task is then to do what is necessary to see that life come to fruition. And you know what? The beautiful thing about it is that whatever vision God has given us as our design, He will do more than all we ask or imagine (Eph 3:20) if we follow Him.

The other thing that stood probably the most, came from a speaker named Mark. The whole premise of His message, I guess you could call it, was the difference between cost and value. At first glance it means the same thing, but the difference is so far greater. I know myself I can be rather cheap, I usually go to the straight to the clearance rack first and I take pride in making a dollar stretch. Needless to say, there are some things I don’t want to pay for at all or feel they should be cheaper. Now I know, life is more times than none not free, even when something says “free” someone is paying for it somewhere in one way or another. Nevertheless, even over the last year specifically, I can think of several things that I did not want to pay for and I actually passed up the first time around, but then the Lord had to do a work in me. If I wanted my life to be a certain way, designing it will cost. Then you think about what you spend on a general basis in life, many things that aren’t worth 2 cents to improving your future. So for me, it’s about 4 specific times this past year alone where I realized that the cost or the sacrifice, if I may, was nothing compared to the value of what happened as a result. Those investments made such an amazing difference and brought me closer to the design that I have for my life.

So I encourage you, as you plan your life and determine how it is you want to live and influence the people around you and the world, and how you want that to affect your family, if it’s anything of purpose and eternal significance, I guarantee it will cost a lot, more than you anticipate and or would want to pay, whether it be money, time, resources, people, relationships, or fun time. Nevertheless, the cost of what you give up is absolutely nothing compared to the value of what you will gain when your dream is you reality. What investments are you making?

Withdrawal & Sacrifice

So, this will be rather short, but I still feel like I need to say it fully. So lately I’ve been feeling so far from God, and I began to realize the truth of working for Jesus, without really spending time with Him just for the sake of our relationship. Many times those lines are blurred and with all the other day-to-day activities it’s easy to fall asleep. As  a result, it was like I have been through a withdrawal, I just felt bad and at times I wasn’t sure which what to do to get back. Jesus, as cliché as it sounds, is my drug and when I was low as I was, my whole being changed, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually concerning several different things. In the midst, I became sensitive to certain things that I was watching. Meaning, I have Netflix and one of my favorite shows from growing up that I was faithfully attending was “Xena: Warrior Princess.” However, that show was full of non-Christian deities and philosophies that was just not cool, so much in so, one of the last episodes I watched, my spirit was telling me to turn it off because it was very very ritualistic and demonic and just not healthy…and I could feel it. I felt weird but I have to admit I wanted to watch it, because like I said, it’s a favorite of mine. However, I was feeling so detached that I had to turn it off and not long after, I wasn’t feeling as nearly as bad and I don’t plan to watch it again.

Furthermore, I am a huuuuuuuge fan of  “Law & Order: SVU” and again, Netflix has the first 12 seasons and I am halfway through season 11. Long story short, after Xena, I picked back up on “SVU.” It was cool, but the show is dark, to be completely honest and some of the principles aren’t necessarily Biblical, and almost every “Christian” character is bonafide psycho which bothers me, but that’s another story. Anyway, still going through my withdrawal, as of yesterday I think, I decided to take a break from watching it. It was so much negativity that was pouring into my spirit and I needed to release. So I’ve been on my Amazon Cloud Player listening to my Worship 2.0 playlist, 7 of my all time favorite worship songs. The list has been on repeat. When I say I feel so much better, feeding that into my spirit and making and effort get back in tune via other measures, may I say the sacrifice was so worth it. Not saying that I would’ve expected different, but when we are living a life of purpose, we have to be mindful and conscious of the things we watch and listen to, because it can put us in  a weird place and we can lose focus like I did. Withdrawal is no joke, but I love it because you can never get too much Jesus, who is the ultimate high, and without my fix, I am no good.

So I encourage you, every bit of whatever you may feel the Lord is pushing you to sacrifice (music, tv show, relationship, shopping habits, etc.), listen. The reward is far far far greater, no matter how big or small. Even if it is small, if you let it fester, it can become a bigger issue than you wanted. Feed your spirit and not your flesh. Fulfilling your purpose depends on it.