a willing sacrifice

from the reading plan

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

BY Diana Stone

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. 

Post Comments (59)

59 thoughts on "a willing sacrifice"

  1. 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!

  2. mazmagi54 says:

    me too Diana!!!

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

    Amen and amen!

    Blessings, peggy

  3. 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.

  4. 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! ♥

  5. 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!

  6. 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.

  7. 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

  8. 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.

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