Here’s a thanksgiving message I wrote decades ago. I spiffed it up and put it out again in 2020 Anno Domini. Feel free to share.
Title: A Sacrifice of Thanksgiving Revised Nov 2020
Text: Leviticus 22:26-33
26 And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, 27 When a bullock, or a sheep, or a goat, is brought forth, then it shall be seven days under the dam; and from the eighth day and thenceforth it shall be accepted for an offering made by fire unto the LORD. 28 And whether it be cow or ewe, ye shall not kill it and her young both in one day. 29 And when ye will offer a sacrifice of thanksgiving unto the LORD, offer it at your own will. 30 On the same day it shall be eaten up; ye shall leave none of it until the morrow: I am the LORD. 31 Therefore shall ye keep my commandments, and do them: I am the LORD. 32 Neither shall ye profane my holy name; but I will be hallowed among the children of Israel: I am the LORD which hallow you, 33 That brought you out of the land of Egypt, to be your God: I am the LORD.
Intro: First let me remind you that to the Jews sacrifice was a necessity. It was the only atonement for their sins. But besides the sacrifices for sin there were also sacrifices that had no other purpose but to thank God for his goodness. They cost the Jews a lot. An animal is very expensive to raise and difficult to care for. Besides animals there were offerings of bread and oil and spices. Flour was hard to come by. Famine was a constant threat and still is. Drought is always a possibility. Oil was hard pressed so to speak. Trees took decades to cultivate. Spices like frankincense and myrrh were difficult to harvest and were expensive because they came by trade route from Northern Africa and Southern Arabia. Everything required for the service of the temple was difficult to obtain. Sacrifices were precious and there were millions of them every year. But we Christians now know that God isn’t pleased with the blood of animals. He cares nothing for oil and myrrh. He wants the obedience and prayers of the saints. So tonight I’m going to speak about our own sacrifice of thanksgiving. Many Christians want to give something back to God but they have no idea how. This message is about that very thing. The Biblical way to offer your life to Jesus Christ. We as born again Christians know that our sins are paid for. Jesus Christ paid the price already. That sacrifice was entirely sufficient to fulfill God’s most strenuous demands for righteousness and holiness, but just as the Jews could offer up sacrifices to thank God we must do the same. To thank God for his sacrifice we offer to him our very lives. If God, in all his majesty humiliated himself to take our reproach, to purchase the pearl of great price, to redeem us, to seek and save that which was lost, how then can we deny God what is rightfully his? What can stop him from claiming his own? We belong entirely to him and a debt of love we must attempt to fulfill by laying our own lives down at God’s feet. The sacrifice I speak of as the sacrifice of thanksgiving is our own lives. Our every action, our every thought. All surrendered to God.
Proposition: To thank God we must obey God.
Interrogative: So then how exactly do we sacrifice ourselves to God?
Transitional Statement: In this passage I see four characteristics of the sacrifice of thanksgiving. The first thing I see in this passage is that the sacrifice of thanksgiving was Conditional. Look at verses 27-28
The debt of love that we owe to God can not be fully repaid. But no matter if we can not fulfill this awesome debt. God will accept our sacrifice if certain conditions are met. Here in Leviticus the Jews had to meet certain conditions. The sacrifice had to good and the sacrifice had to be prepared properly. Flawed sacrifices were not acceptable. The priests had to be clean when they offered it. There were conditions, requirements, absolutes, that had to be fulfilled else God would not accept the sacrifice. We know this and still we as Christians try to deal with God on our own terms. We say that we offer our lives to God except for that one thing. That one aspect. The one vice that we are not willing to sacrifice. We try to bring God down to our own level and we deal with him like a magic genie. We rub the magic lamp of prayer and expect God to grant our every wish, yet we will not, under any circumstances obey God even in the simplest of things. We treat God like a dog, leading him around where ever we will and all the while expecting God to bless it. You can not bargain with God. He has set the rules and will not accept your disobedience.
You say, “Well God must be proud of me. I gave this up. I did this. I’m so spiritual. Blah, Blah, Blah.” Be quiet. You are nothing. God doesn’t want your puny excuse for sacrifice – he wants your life! No matter if we can not fulfill this awesome debt. God WILL accept our sacrifice if certain conditions are met.
Transitional sentence: The next thing I notice in the scriptures is that the sacrifice must be consentual. Look at verse 29
You see God will not violate your will. He will not force you to obey him. He will chastise you, so that you wish you had obeyed him, but he will not make you do something that you are not willing to do. That is contrary to the nature of God. We must realize our sacrifice to be a reasonable thing.
a. Rom 12:1 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.
You must be willing to give all to Jesus. All to him I FREELY give as the song goes. You see God is not pleased when you go kicking and screaming. Yes, you may obey God, but you do it with an evil heart. You murmur and backtalk God. Do you think God will accept your sacrifice if you obey God in deed but disobey him in your heart? Offer up your life of your own free will.
Transitional Sentence: I also notice that the sacrifice is all consuming. Look at verse 30
a. John 3:30 He must increase, but I must decrease.
b. Deut 4:24 For the LORD thy God is a consuming fire, even
a jealous God.
c. Heb 12:29 For our God is a consuming fire.
When you fully sacrifice yourself to God you will disappear. No longer will you think. I will. I will. But rather if God will. You become transparent and only Jesus Christ can be seen. You are completely consumed by the ever growing conviction and moving of the Holy Spirit so that you can do nothing else but obey God. Yet we are not willing to go that far. We always hold onto something of our own. We will not under any circumstances obey God. Before you can claim that you have given yourself to Jesus Christ you must be totally consumed by the fire that is God. And if you ever arrive there you won’t be willing to admit it. The poem says, “He must increase, but I must decrease, if I am to ever have true peace my own feeble life must cease.”
Transitional Sentence: I also see here that the nature of the sacrifice is constraining. Look at verses 31-33
If we look at where these verses are placed and the word “Therefore” we can determine that the nature of the sacrifice is that of obedience. Not giving a little something up. And not making a big show in front of other people drawing attention to ourselves, but rather a day to day, minute by minute, second by second, obedience to the word of God. A one time thing is not what God wants: Here today gone tomorrow. Rebellion against God with a little pacifying sacrifice from time to time will not do. This sacrifice is constraining. If we truly sacrifice our lives we will obey God. Obedience is not the fruit of surrender but rather the root. You can’t claim to have surrendered to God until you continually obey him. John 14:15 If ye love me, keep my commandments.
So if you are to offer your life to God to thank him for what he has done for you your sacrifice, your life, must contain the aspects we discussed here, obedience being most important. Remember that if you will not live for Jesus Christ you will not die for him.
CONCLUSION: I’ll conclude with a verse that sums up my message very well.
1 Sam 15:22 And Samuel said, Hath the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams.