Day 15

a willing sacrifice

from the a willing sacrifice reading plan

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

BY Diana Stone

Text: Nehemiah 11:1-12:26, 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 that people fought over who would live within the walls of the great city they’d 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 contained the 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.

“For they all seek their own interests, not those of Jesus Christ.”
(Philippians 2:21, ESV)

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 comfort. 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, ESV)

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. Amen.

Post Comments (67)

67 thoughts on "a willing sacrifice"

  1. deleted9879052 says:

    Hello Again…

    I am way behind on my "SheReadsTruth" reading and my own daily devotional. The truth is that I have been living outside the walls of God's City. I have been letting my flesh rule me and guide me. I stopped reading God's words and praying. I am ashamed.

    But God is forgiving.

    He has called me back into his arms and reminded me that without him I am nothing.

    That is why this devotional struck such a cord within me. I could hear my lord Abba calling me and saying,
    "Come back to me".

    Why did I ever leave? I don't know but I know it was wrong, sinful, and evil.

    So, here I am repenting and turning back to my King. Here I am moving back into
    the city of God.

    Thank you!

    1. Kylee says:

      We’ve all been there in some way or another, Rebekah! And He mercifully & graciously always welcomes us home❤️

  2. Beckey says:

    Seems like "being the volunteer" should be a lot easier choice than it is. Doesn't it? Thanks for this. really gave me something to think about!

  3. Jess says:

    Sorry Mukasha I did not mean to give your comment a thumbs down. My finger touched my iPad wrong. Blessings as you seek His face in all things.

  4. Mukasha says:

    I am blown away! Who knew such a lesson can be learnt from what looked at first a mere list of names. I never saw coming the fact that it can even be applied to my recent experience when we had to move from our beautiful house in the country to a city from one day to another. I remember thinking to myself, God, usually people go the other way around, why is this happening? We were so happy in our house…I've looked at silver lining, God provided us with everything there in the new place, we could not complain, there was abundance. We were sore from the fast move and resentful for being forced to face daily city life inconveniences like traffic, lost time in commute, rude people, broken routines…etc. Then my husband gets assaulted, then he gets fired, then we are forced to leave the city and live on a farm in the middle of nowhere…then we are back to our beautiful house. I may never know what was the purpose to all these happenings, I just remember slowly starting to trust God more and letting go of my trying to control our lives, which was failing anyway. It happened fast, it was intense and it had its purpose. I believe it did. One thing for sure, it brought me closer to God, it was the reason I am here now. Lord, please give me the wisdom to follow the path you have laid for me voluntarily. Amen.

  5. LaurenC_ says:

    Ugh. Today's word really knocks me right between the eyes. So much to learn from today – the Scripture, Diana's devotion, so many wonderful and insightful comments from you all. Each and every one of us matters and plays an important role in God's purposes here on earth… even when He does not clearly define that role. Sometimes He shines a beaming light on our circumstances and we see our role clearly, other times our acts of faithfulness and trust are our role. I like to think I respond in those bright light "a ha" moments when I see clearly what God needs me to do. The problem is, those moments are rare. I struggle so often and so greatly to keep my faith and trust in Him during those long stretches of wondering, waiting, and asking, asking, asking Him what I should do – without clearly defined answers.

    I especially appreciate that Diana wrote today's devotion, knowing just a little about her life story and how God has called her and her husband to remain faithful through what has to be some of the most painful life circumstances one could ever experience. So much to think on tonight and so much to learn. I see my sin clearly before me, digging in its heels, grumbling about the lot that is cast for me at this time. Please Lord, help me to desire to be a willing, living sacrifice for your greater purpose. Forgive me when I turn my back on your call to me. Remind me that my faithfulness in you will never be in vain. Remind me that my faithfulness, trust, and patience bring you great pleasure and serve a valuable purpose in your kingdom. Mold my character and desire in accordance with your will. Make me teachable, Lord. Amen.

  6. AnnaLee says:

    Wow. Hearing all of this was a bit of a reality check in my life. The Lord has been speaking to me about cities and staying in them, while letting Him go out to the war (using 2 Sam 18). Not only should I be staying in this city, I should be CHOOSING to stay in this city, and volunteering to live in it as I work for the entire kingdom. Father, keep me within your precepts and laws. This life is yours; let it be for your glory and your glory alone. Father, show me how to use EVERYTHING you've given me– from gifts to money to talents and opportunities! Let me live within your city and delight myself in your rules. Strengthen my hands for the work you have ahead of me. Praise you, father God.
    Be so blessed, girls. May the Lord use you all within the places you're at, even if it means discomfort or sadness on our parts sometimes. Father, show me how you want me to work in this season & location, and give me the right mindset– that it is all for your glory. May you be praised, Lord God. I love you. In Jesus name I pray, Amen.

    1. LaurenC_ says:


    2. Love that prayer, AnnaLee!!!

  7. talesofbeautyforashes says:

    Taking this a different direction. Does God want my time with Him to be volunteer or lot casting? Many times, I spend time in His word because I should not because I want to. Oh God, change my heart to desire your truths more than gold or silver. Increase my desire and passion for you and Your Word.

    1. talesofbeautyforashes, Very true! And then on days I do end up skipping out on spending time with Him, I feel like my whole day is a mess. I will be praying with you to have complete devotion towards Him and His word.

  8. megan w says:

    This couldn't have come on a more perfect day! I found out today that my brother- and sister-in-law are pregnant, and while I am very very happy for them, I cried at hearing the news because I want so badly for that to be me and my husband. I work at a job that requires a lot of travel and have a few more years before my contract is up, so we're waiting a few years to start our family. But I struggle so much with being patient. I know that I should take comfort in the fact that God has a plan for us, and that we are here for a reason, but instead I get upset that MY will is not being done… Thank you for the wonderful reminder that it is HIS will that is to be done, not my own. <3

    1. Bethany says:

      Yes, Megan! You are not alone! We are also in a season of waiting to start our family due to graduate school, and my desire for it is kicking in full force, while I feel like so many women around me are having babies or getting pregnant. While I also have a condition that affects my fertility, so we have no idea what will happen when we start trying, I am comforted in knowing that this is one area in my life where I have absolutely NO control whatsoever… so I have no choice BUT to leave it up to God's will! I am typically a very impatient person, but that thought gives me hope, that God has a better plan than I can even imagine right now! :) Praying for you and all the women like us who are in wait for God's perfect timing.

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