a willing sacrifice

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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"

  1. 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

  2. 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!

  3. 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!

  4. 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…

  5. 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:


  6. 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

  7. 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.

  8. 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