a willing sacrifice

Open Your Bible

Nehemiah 11-12:26, Philippians 2:21, Romans 12:1

Text: Nehemiah 11-12:26, Philippians 2:21, Romans 12:1

At first glance, the exhaustive list of names in chapters 11 and 12 makes for a rather dry read. But pull up a chair, dig in a bit more, and see that in between these listings is the story of great importance to Jerusalem.

You would think as Jerusalem was being finished, people fought over who would live within the walls of the great city that they built. It would seem obvious that living there would be a privilege. Instead we see that lots were cast over who had to go, and that the people who did volunteer were commended. (Nehemiah 11:1-2)

Why is this? First, Israelites were a hated people. Anyone living within the walls could probably expect to be attacked and live on edge. Also, because it was a holy city and in it resided their temple, the inhabitants would need to follow God’s commandments closely and be examples.

Simply put, living within Jerusalem was more of a bother than a gift to most.

“All seek their own, not the things that are Jesus Christ’s.” (Philippians 2:21)

As I read through these chapters, my heart is struck by how often in my life I am the Israelite unwilling to live in God’s city. I’d rather be outside the walls, no burdens of how to act or expectations to sacrifice comforts. Yet, what God wants from us isn’t a begrudging acceptance of “lot casting.” He wants our hearts, our ability to look at the unknown and often terrifying and still say, “Yes Lord. Not my will, but yours.”

Our Lord wants us to accept making our lives a living sacrifice for His kingdom because He knows that what lies ahead for us in eternity is better than anything here on earth.

“I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.” (Romans 12:1)

We can be lot casters. We can enter into His holy city kicking and screaming, pouting for years and wondering, “Why me?” But we can also choose to go willingly, to be the volunteers that love the Lord so much we’d sacrifice the earthly “good” life for the glory of God.

Lord, make our lives a (willing) living sacrifice for your greater purpose. 

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59 thoughts on "a willing sacrifice"

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  4. monique(forgiven) says:

    Tnismom ill be praying for a supernatural healing on life:-) god bless

  5. tnlsmom says:

    I posted a few weeks ago about my mother-in-law having a brain tumor. Tomorrow she will be admitted to the hospital for some testing prior to surgery. Then Thursday morning at 8:00 she will go in for surgery to remove the tumor. It is very large, covering the top of her head and is wrapped around a major blood vessel. I would be grateful for your continued prayers over the next few days. I know some people don't check back so I will probably post this again tomorrow.

    1. Carolynmimi says:

      Praying for complete healing.

    2. Candacejo says:

      Sure will be joining in prayer for this serious need. God is able. And praying peace for your family.

      1. tnlsmom says:

        Thank you.

  6. JuneBug says:

    I totally assumed that the families were pulling lots to see who GETS to live in Jerusalem. Like they were just jumping at the chance to live in the land God gave them. It didn't even cross my mind that some of them would much rather stay elsewhere quite happily. I had to go back and read it again in several versions just to make sure I was reading it right. And my conclusion is the same as yours at SRT. Wow! What a meaty gem I would have missed without your insight Diana. Thank you!

    So then, what do I do with this shift in perception? I can see so many ways I have fallen into the same mindset in my own life. Here, God has made a way to return, He's gathered people to rebuild the walls to make it secure, made provisions for everything I need…and all I have to do is step in and live out what He has called me to do.

    But, so often, it is more comfortable to stay on the outskirts, in a foreign "land" simply because it FEELS more familiar and more safe. Stepping out requires courage. It's a step into the unknown where I must completely trust that the Lord is faithful to finish what He has started. That He will not abandon His people.

    Am I willing to risk it all to live in the land that the Lord has prepared for me? So much to chew on.

    1. Candacejo says:

      Love the way you put things!

  7. Nicole says:

    I know it's kind of late in the day to be posting, but I wanted to share something that really spoke to me this morning when I was reading this devo. God is faithful. He is so very, very faithful, but sometimes, his faithfulness comes to us through hardships and through times when it looks like he isn't with us at all. In Jeremiah 32, the LORD speaks to Jeremiah. This is before the Babylonian captivity (Nehemiah picks up at the end of the captivity) in which the people of Judah were exiled and their land was destroyed. God told Jeremiah that He was going to punish Judah, but then in a strange twist and in the midst of the destruction of Jerusalem and the whole country of Judah, God tells Jeremiah to buy a field from his cousin in Anathoth. Jeremiah is obviously confused by this. He's heard the LORD proclaim that all of Judah will be exiled and the whole land destroyed. Why then would God call him to purchase a field–one that he would not even be able to inhabit? (There's a whole other great bit about the Law of Redemption and Jeremiah as a kinsman redeemer that I won't even get into here, but check it out.) When Jeremiah asks God about this, God responds by saying, "I am the LORD, the God of all mankind. Is anything to hard for me?" (v.27). And then a little later, "As I have brought all this great calamity on this people, so I will give them all the prosperity I have promised them. Once more fields will be bought in this land of which you say, ‘It is a desolate waste, without people or animals, for it has been given into the hands of the Babylonians.’ Fields will be bought for silver, and deeds will be signed, sealed and witnessed in the territory of Benjamin, in the villages around Jerusalem, in the towns of Judah and in the towns of the hill country, of the western foothills and of the Negev, because I will restore their fortunes, declares the Lord.” God spoke this word to my heart as a call to hold onto His promises, even in the midst of certain destruction. Our God is not hindered or worried by the realities of this world, nor is His power too small. Even when it seems like it's too late, God is in control.

    What does this have to do with Nehemiah 11? Well, right there in the midst of endless lists of names and tribes and towns is this "The descendants of the Benjamites from Geba lived in Mikmash, Aija, Bethel and its settlements, in Anathoth, Nob and Ananiah, in Hazor, Ramah and Gittaim, in Hadid, Zeboim and Neballat, in Lod and Ono, and in Ge Harashim." Did you catch it? The descendants of the Benjamites (Jeremiah was of the tribe of Benjamin) lived in…ANATHOTH. Anathoth, the place where God commanded Jeremiah to buy a field some 70 years ago. A field that at the time was being laid waste by the Babylonians. All seemed hopeless. But God, our God, for whom nothing is too hard, promised to bring them back into this land. And now, right here in this little book, almost so miniscule we'd gloss right over it, is God's promise to Jeremiah and the Lord's people fulfilled. God is so very, very faithful.

    1. JuneBug says:

      Wow! Great digging! God is so faithful. It's so exciting to find how events in history have a higher purpose. It makes me wonder what He's doing TODAY that will be for His purpose fulfilled later on. His Word is living and active! Awesome.

      1. rocknitat55 says:

        ” even in the midst of certain destruction. Our God is not hindered or worried by the realities of this world, nor is His power too small. Even when it seems like it’s too late, God is in control.”

        Nicole, Nicole thank you for bringing it all together, for reminding us that Gods always has a plan a purpose. And because he uses people to complete His plans how dare we not show up for the fight. Ya can’t win if you don’t show up.

        Girl I’m gonna be shoutin this all day… my God is not hindered or worried by the realities of this world. Ladies I gotta ask what Realities are you facing today? Whatever it maybe it ain’t to big for God.

    2. Carolynmimi says:

      Wow! I love that you showed us that in scripture…how consistent our God is in keeping the details behind and before us…his promises are true. By the way, I come on this site multiple times a day, when I can and then at bedtime, so I don't miss posts just like yours. Hate to miss what anyone brings to the table.

    3. jesusgirl71 says:

      Oh wow! No, I didn’t catch this! Thnks for pointing it out! How neat!

    4. Kelly says:

      Thank you for sharing that Nicole. God is awesome!

    5. Candacejo says:

      This is just the coolest thing! I would never have seen it! Wow! Just like one of the SRT writers pointed out last week about the Pool of Siloam in the Book of Nehemiah…who knew? And now this treasure?! Thank you Nicole! And people say the Bible is boring…or it is the same thing over and over, they never get anything out of it. The things we learn…I just love it. Blessings!

  8. mazmagi54 says:

    me too Diana!!!

    That's great that you pray Romans 12:1-2…

    Amen and amen!

    Blessings, peggy

  9. Diana says:

    I must admit I did skim over all the names. However, I do pray Romans 12:1-2 every day before I even get out of bed. That doesn't mean that I don't revert to tending to my own business, but it does help to remind me.

    Lord help us all live for you and your kingdom and to daily offer ourselves up as living sacrifices which is our spiritual service of worship and help us not conform any longer to this world but to be transformed by the renewing of our minds that we may prove that which is the good, perfect and acceptable will of God in our lives.

  10. molly says:

    This is something I've been struggling with for a couple of years now. Trusting God. Letting Him take control of my life. Sacrificing my selfish wants and plans for His will. I have been facing physical and disabling pain for a couple of years now. With onne unsuccessful surgery and maybe more to come, I see no way out of this. I see no light at the end of the tunnel. I'm 24 and don't understand why this has happened. I pray to God to take control. To speak to me. To let his will be done. To clean up the mess I've made. But then, I turn right back around and worry. I Try to figure things out on my own. I Think about what I should do next….new doctor? More physical therapy? Another surgery? My mind runs all day long trying to "fix" my life and my pain. Sisters, today I am asking for prayers. I need to surrender. I need to wait patiently for God. Both of these things I have been attempting and failing daily. My sin is separating me from Christ. So today I ask that you will pray for me. I know none of you know me, but I believe prayer is powerful. I've been trying to do this alone and today I am reaching out for help. Thank you. "The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective." James 5:16b

    1. Carolynmimi says:

      Praying for you Molly. Lord, Even while Molly is in the Tunnel, let her open the portals of her suffering so that the light of the Holy Spirit within her gives her wisdom, hope, and healing. Let her light also light the way for others she encounters. Let her grow daily to be more like Christ and feel the enormous love you have for her. Let the light of the Spirit show her just the scripture you have for her that will allow her to make this journey and to Count it all joy. Lead her to the right professionals in this world, but whether by medicine or divine power, Heal our sister, Molly so she can proclaim to all the world your power! Amen

    2. JuneBug says:

      Father, I lift Molly before You and ask that You would stretch Your hand of healing over her body. That she would find relief from the pain she faces daily. Give her mind rest from the pain, but also from the anxiety of trying to find answers. Lord, help her to look to You and trust You that You have a purpose for this season in her life. That she would surrender her need to know the why's and how's and to lean on Your providence for everything that she needs. Wash Your love over her today and give her hope for tomorrow. In Jesus name, Amen..

      1. rocknitat55 says:

        Molly as some one who has recently been disabled and face pain every morning. I can certainly empathize with you. But I dare not diminish your experience for I am much older than 24.
        Some days are darker than others. But with God I press forward.

        Father in the name of Jesus. I lift up molly today. Lord I know u r able to heal her body as well as her spirit. You are the healing baum of Gilead. Touch her from the top of her head to the soles of her feet. God bless her with kingdom connections both medically and personally. Amen

    3. jesusgirl71 says:

      Oh Molly! My heart goes out to you! Praying for you!

    4. molly says:

      Thank you ladies for the prayers. I am truly touched. I pray that God will bless you for your kindness and compassion.

    5. Candacejo says:

      Molly I am joining in praying with you and for you too! I can't imagine at your age facing these things. And you should not face them alone. We are all praying with you! In Jesus' name we pray for strength and wisdom and peace and healing. We know He is able. I, too, suffer severe pain 24/7 and rely on prescription narcotics to get through each day. Just to walk is a struggle and I am facing two surgeries as well. So I understand a "little" of the difficulties but probably not the magnitude of the suffering you are going through. But Jesus does!! He understands your frustration, you are human. Try to let Him carry the load, He is your burden-bearer! We will be carrying you to the throne! ♥

  11. I needed to hear this today. Especially today. My husband and I have committed to stay in our city, and the task that God has called us to seems huge. The daily struggles are difficult at best. But. We gladly accepted the call. Now it’s time to live out our obedience. No matter what that means. <3

    1. Carolynmimi says:

      May God Bless your decision to be His willing living sacrifices with daily miracles both small and large and eyes to see them!

    2. Candacejo says:

      Beautiful. "…and having done all, to STAND…Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God…" Ephesians 6:13-17.

      You have all you need! Been in your shoes friend, here in the States and on foreign soil. God WILL honor that obedience. Excited! Praying for you!

  12. jesusgirl71 says:

    Lord, make our lives a (willing) living sacrifice for your greater purpose.
    This is my prayer today. Lord, I want to live in my new nature, with you in control, not in that old, corrupt one.

  13. rocknitat55 says:

    “my heart is struck by how often in my life I am the Israelite unwilling to live in God’s city. I’d rather be outside the walls, no burdens of how to act or expectations to sacrifice comforts. Yet, what God wants from us isn’t a begrudging acceptance of “lot casting.” He wants our hearts, our ability to look at the unknown and often terrifying and still say, “Yes Lord. Not my will, but yours.

    So convicted this morning. I have often meditated on Rm 12:1 but always considered matters of the flesh; lust, overeating. Never thought about my Heart. Many are called, few are chosen. I have to admit that I am chosen. I am ashamed that there are many times that I can be found running,

    kicking and screaming from the kingdom. Why me? Lord, you placed me on a rock, often in high

    places. There are many times that I climb down from that place and steal away back to the low place

    (as if you can’t mfortable, its safe, familiar, nothing is expected of me. “no burdens, no sacrifice required”. I sorrowfully admit that I have had visions of joining other churchs and sitting in the last pew and just BE! No decisions to be made, no leadership required.

    “All seek their own, not the things of Christ (ph 2:21). Oh Jesus what a whiner I have become.

    Father I repent, Lord help me in the quest of making my life a living sacrifice for your greater purpose. Help me to walk worthy of my Call, amen.

    Diana, thank you for a thought provoking, heart searching study this morning.

    Ladies happy Tuesday.

    1. Carolynmimi says:

      Oh, Nita, I hear you. Lately due to health issues, church issues, etc. I have been tempted to persuade my husband to retire from pastoral ministry. I imagine an easier life uncomplicated by ministry…and then lessons like this one…people like you…remind me there is no real retirement from ministry….Just got to quit trying to crawl off the altar!!!! LOL

  14. I started to just skip the passages in Nehemiah. But like Carolynmimi, the Philippians verse stopped me. I went back and read each and every name. Then when I read your insights, I saw the message that God intended for me to have today. I MUST be willing to sacrifice myself for His Glory. I struggle to submit, to surrender, to trust. But today I ask the Heavenly Father to help me to volunteer to live in the Holy City and to use me in a mighty way.

  15. Carolynmimi says:

    OK, OK, I admit it. I did skim over all those names but was stopped in my tracks by the Philippians verse…Too busy with my own life to live for God. I have heard it said that one way Satan works on believers is to get them "too involved" , "too busy", to pause, ponder, pray and listen. God still speaks and if I don't take time to listen, I miss out.

    The Romans text (one of my favorites) "Therefore I exhort you, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a sacrifice – alive, holy, and pleasing to God – which is your reasonable worship. "(Romans 12:1) reminds me of three elements of a healthy Christian Walk:

    1. Present…a verb in this passage but also a noun. I must present myself and then be PRESENT.

    2. Willing…gotta stop trying to crawl off the altar and tend to my business

    3. Worship…It really all begins and ends with this ….As should my day, everyday and all through the day

    Because when I am present, willing and worshipful, He will enable me to tend all the other people and stuff in my life in His way not mine.

    Come Worship The Lord God on High, remembering all he has done
    Come Worship The Lord God on High, the Spirit, the Father, the Son
    For He is creator of all of the earth, the one who breathed life in me
    Provider, protector, redeemer and Friend, Lord of the wind and the sea!
    The Lord who breathed life into me!
    The Lord who breathed life into me!


    1. jesusgirl71 says:

      Thank you so much, Carolynmimi. I love these 3 things! Present, willing, and worship!

    2. JuneBug says:

      Present, Willing, Worship. I, too, need to work on these areas. Thank you for your insight Carolynmimi!

    3. mazmagi54 says:

      Hey carolynmimi that's why the acronym for BUSY is … Being Under Satan's Yoke!

      Really great insights and reflections! I'm INSPIRED to worship now!!! Hallelujah!

      1. Carolynmimi says:

        I hadn't heard that acronym for BUSY…Thanks…so true.

    4. Catherine says:

      Oh I love your summary! "Because when I am present, willing and worshipful, He will enable me to tend all the other people and stuff in my life in His way not mine. " Thank you for sharing that. I am in the stage of life where I am rearing two young teenagers, looking after aging parents, fulfilling the demands of my job ( and the pressures of being paid not by salary, but 100% commission) and handling all my many responsibilities as a single mom. Sometimes I wonder if my "wall" will ever be complete and I can celebrate, some days I have to remind myself that I am doing what God has for me right now and that it fits somehow perfectly into His plan. All too often, I scurry around in a frenzy, becoming easily distracted by the contstant need to diffuse or shield my family from the devil's bombs and I wonder if any of it really matters, if any of it will ever ease up, if my future will be any different…. I would like to say that I'm never the hostess of a grand pity-party, but that would be untrue. HOWEVER, I do have a strong desire to be God's faithful servant. I am so very thankful to God for his blessings. I try to shift my focus to what is right with my picture. I have Nehemiah 6:3 taped onto the dashboard of my car (that I seem to live in) to remind myself that at this point in my life, whatever mundane, exhausting task I am doing somehow fits in God's eternal plan and I pair several other verses (Psalm 37 is a favorite) into my meditations and prayers. I am doing a great work, and I cannot come down. Thank you for reminding me that God will enable me to do all he has called me to do. I need constant reminders of what you shared today, and it was so well timed. Thank you

  16. Brandi says:

    Father, I want to have a willing heart today. I want to be a living sacrifice today. I pray that You would cleanse me so I can be a vessel used for Your purposes today. Cleanse me of my selfishness, my pridefulness, my agenda, my fear. Fill me anew with Yourself! Your love, Your grace, Your power! My heart is filled with joy in Your presence and help me be mindful that I am ALWAYS in Your presence! I love You! In Jesus Name. Amen!

  17. Candacejo says:

    Lord, make me a willing sacrifice! It's not about me anyway…wonderful devotional. Can't get the song "I give myself away…" out of my head while I was reading.

    Take my heart,
    Take my life,
    As a living sacrifice
    All my dreams
    All my plans,
    Lord I place them in Your hands

    I give myself away
    I give myself away so You can use me!
    I give myself away
    I give myself away so You can use me!

    My life is not my own,
    To You I belong
    I give myself, I give myself away

    Lord, let that be my prayer today…let me be that willing to be the one to volunteer to live within the city walls. To do the work that needs to be done without whining or complaining. And to even be joyful about it! To be so thankful that I was chosen to be a part of the Kingdom of God. Thankful…


    1. Carolynmimi says:

      I love that song and such a fitting prayer it is.

      1. rocknitat55 says:

        love this song too awesome

    2. CarolM says:

      Thank you for posting that song, Candacejo I really needed to hear that this today.

      1. Candacejo says:

        Oh good! I don't ever want to be annoying! It blessed me this morning and I was hoping someone else was needing it too. I just really love that part, "my life is not my own, to You I belong!" Now if I can just live that way :) Blessings, friend!

    3. JuneBug says:

      Beautiful…beautiful song! I'm so blessed by it today.

      Side note: You have GREAT taste in music CandaceJo!

  18. Janet says:

    I too, would have been tempted to skip today's passage. What an eye-opening way to read this particular text! (Thanks Diana!)
    I pray that the Lord would prepare my heart to say yes to whatever he asks of me…

  19. monique(forgiven) says:

    Good morning sisters! Sometimes in life we may not understand why we go through things and why things happen the way they do. When we come to know our Lord more we will trust his will for our lives.sometimes His will seems painful to us but He knows best,so when we are following His will we can know that we are safe because this is what He wants. I once heard that the hardest thing to do(because of flesh) is to accept Gods will and not our own. We may want to go left God want us to go right. Sisters today let’s put aside our wills and follow His plan for us. Though none go with me I still will follow,no turning back,no turning back.Be Blessed in Jesus name:-)

    1. rocknitat55 says:


  20. amykelly213 says:

    Wow! What a great message today!
    It is not easy to be a Christian. Not easy to publicly proclaim your love and commitment to Christ and to give up the things of this world to live for Him. We fail. We fail often. God never promised it would be easy… But it will be WORTH IT.

    1. rocknitat55 says:

      Amen sister

  21. Melinda says:

    Thank you for these insights Diana. I have been a kicker and screamer. I have asked the why me question way to many times! To be totally honest this devotional freaks me out. I like 'the good life'. Living on 'the edge', where suffering of different types is a likely possibility is ascary thing for me! I have lived through a painful chapter in my life and i fear and dread when God moght have another pAinful fire for me. Though i know this is all the wrong perspective. This is seeing with the worlds eyes. Oh that god might give me His perspective. That i might chase after Him and live in his embrace so that through whatever comes I can say with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength, 'Your will, not mine, be done'. May i walk through it all with a willing and thankful heart. No more kicking and screamer. May I be a part of His great kingdom buidling, no matter what that means for me.

    1. rockinitat55 says:

      I hear you melinda. I have been thru many fires. The trial is never easy, but what helps me is to remember
      that God has never failed me. He has always taken me thru. Sometimes I survived not even smelling of smoke.
      Other times I came out a little crisp. lol. The key is that I came out! What he did once he will do again. Blessings.

    2. Carolynmimi says:

      Living on the edge also means living the Adventure. The people feared going back to live in Jerusalem, but in fact with the walls reconstructed it was probably safer and more secure than the outlying cities. But it was also the "happening" place. We often fear God's will for us will mean suffering and yes occasionally it does, but it is the ONLY secure place on the earth and it is the "happening" place. I too have been a reluctant sacrifice, but have found him faithful to bring beauty, fun, and adventure even out of the hard places in this life.

      Blessings and thanks so much for sharing.

  22. claire says:

    What a great commentary over a passage that I think I would have been tempted to skip over and miss such an important message. It also made me remember this quote I heard on Sunday

    “I have held many things in my hands  and I have lost them  all. But whatever I have placed in gods hands, that I still possess.”

    By Martin Luther I think it is so hard to trust entirely in God, to give him all we are and all we have but that is what we are called to do. That is what Nehemiah asked of Gods people and I pray that my heart will be changed so that I can willingly do it without holding anything back.

    1. rockinitat55 says:

      claire I will remember that quote, thanks for the share.

    2. jesusgirl71 says:

      What a great quote, Claire! Let me put it all in God’s hands!

    3. mazmagi54 says:

      Thank you Claire for sharing that quote!

      Leaving ALL in God's hands, placing even those things I give to Him and then take back later, in His hands, trusting Him and thanking Him that He keeps them!

      This was something I needed last fall when "all" those possessions burned in our house in MN (totaled but being rebuilt just like Nehemiah), reminded of this last week in the absolute total loss for so many in TX and OK by the rage of a powerful storm of a F5 Tornado, the loss of life the most difficult to bear, little ones again … so with a heavy heart I pray and now I prepare to return to that 'reconstruction' of our house (cuz it is no longer my home) … and I place it in God's hands once again. He is more powerful! and He is greatly to be praised! I'm looking more for the internal changes that God is now doing and the externals (well, that's all they are)… treasures, memories lost but hopefully eternity gained and changes made inside. So I'm thankful for life and the Life Jesus gave and gives me.

      So Lord, make my life a willing sacrifice for Your greater purpose! is my prayer and a real life reminder of moving out of my comfort zone into Yours, O Lord. Humble me and hear my heart.

      (and I have to admit my first reading of today's, I did just skip those names, thinking 'not another, so and so and so… but learned my lesson from the previous lists of Nehemiah's) I went back and read them and paid attention
      because it's the 'U' part that counts, commUnity of SRT sisters!

      Love and blessings to you all this beautiful day and lesson for us in Nehemiah once again… thanks Diana and SRT team for such a great study and keep these illuminating comments coming … Peggy