What is on your altar?

“Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” Romans 12:1,2

What does it mean to present our bodies as “living sacrifices” to God? We discussed this yesterday in Bible Study and we all decided that sacrificing can be very painful. Especially when God asks you to part with something very near and dear to your heart. Putting ourselves on the altar is tough; our flesh cries out in rebellion. Just try fasting for a day and you will see what I mean.

In all of our lives, there are areas that God is wanting us to deal with. When you start trying to live for God certain things cry out for immediate attention. You see what God expects and you think it is impossible, but “with God all things are possible to him that believe.” (Mark 9:23) As we walk further down the path of obedience we realize that God brings different things to our attention at different times in our lives. Lovingly, patiently, He heals us, questions us, turns us toward the mirror of His word of truth, but never leaves us without resources. And the process is sometimes very painful, like hacking off a limb, but:

“No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.” 1 Cor. 10:13 and we have an advocate in God Himself: “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are–yet was without sin.” Hebrews 4:15

So there is hope for every possible temptation of the flesh we are confronted with! God is not surprised by any of them, and He is big enough to handle them all.

Sometimes we feel like the thing that God is asking us to place on the altar is just too much of a sacrifice, but look at what Abraham had to do…..

(Gen 22) Some time later God tested Abraham. He said to him, “Abraham!” “Here I am,” he replied. {2} Then God said, “Take your son, your only son, Isaac, whom you love, and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains I will tell you about.” WOW! What was his reaction?

He didn’t argue….he didn’t ask why…he just saddled up the donkey, grabbed the wood, Isaac and went! Growing up I was taught that Isaac was a child, but further study into this made me realize that Isaac could have been a grown man! This means that Isaac had a part in this obeying too! He could have headed for the next caravan out of town, but he didn’t. Abraham had SO much faith in His God that He knew that God could raise Isaac from the dead. Nevertheless, I can’t imagine that it was a happy trek up the mountain for 3 days!

In that one act of obedience, Abraham took his belief in God so seriously that he didn’t hesitate to act. The story has a happy ending…Abraham and Isaac both walked down the mountain.

“And the scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness,” and he was called God’s friend. James 2:23

Maybe it seems like crawling up on that altar is the most painful thing you could ever do, but thankfully He has already been there, He knows the way, and He can get us to the other side!

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