Worship Through Sacrifice

Open Your Bible

Romans 12:1-2, Psalm 51:1-19, Luke 7:36-50, Hebrews 13:15-16

My toes tend to curl when I hear the word “sacrifice.” My toes curl when I’m uncomfortable, when my anxiety spikes, or when I see something gross or gory flash across the television screen. It’s involuntary, like the knee-jerk reflex test at my annual physical. There’s some sort of connection in my brain between the word “sacrifice” and the feeling of danger and discomfort.

I don’t think that’s necessarily a bad reaction, but one that gives me pause when I think about today’s readings. Even the notion of “worship as sacrifice” feels a little primitive, conjuring up images of priestly rites and clean animals and fires and blood.

The Old Testament sacrificial system depended on an exchange: the clean blood of an animal exchanged for a person’s uncleanness. Psalm 51 shows David’s prayer of repentance after his sin with Bathsheba. It is full of references to the sacrificial system but hints at the salvation to come: “You do not want a sacrifice, or I would give it; you are not pleased with a burnt offering” (v.16).

We no longer have to offer blood sacrifices to draw near to God; rather, Jesus has served as the sacrifice. Hebrews 10 gives us all the assurance of this blessed truth: “By this will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all time” (v.10).

Ritual sacrifice is no longer required from us, but as we read today, sacrifice is presented as a form of worship. Throughout the New Testament, we see sacrifice exhorted and explained. It is part of our life of worship, our response to who God is and what He has done for us.

The beautiful story in Luke 7 shows a sinful woman offering her finest perfume to wash the feet of Jesus. Her sacrifice is monetary, but she also lays down whatever pride and fear she must have had. Given the scornful cynicism of the Pharisees who watched her, her actions must have cost her substantially more than an alabaster jar of fine perfume.

In Romans 12, Paul calls believers to sacrifice by living differently than the present age. “Do not be conformed to this age,” he writes (v.2). Reflecting on what it would truly mean for me to live differently than the world also makes my toes curl.

Hebrews 13 gives us two more examples of sacrifice: praise and good works. Philippians 4 commends financial offerings as sacrifice (v.18). And Mark 12 tells us that loving God and loving our neighbor are more valuable than burnt offerings (v.33).

Sacrifice looks like submission to God as He renews my heart, mind, words, service—my whole life—to better reflect His perfect character and boundless mercy. I am called to sacrifice my sinful nature, my active temptations, and my selfishness in an ongoing act of worship and praise to God, whose sacrifice alone makes me worthy to stand before Him.

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33 thoughts on "Worship Through Sacrifice"

  1. Ada McCloud says:

    I need to meditate more on this. What do I sacrifice? Lord show me where I please you and where I fall short.

  2. Heather Robinson says:

    So good

  3. Heather Hull says:

    Love this…rebel against this…good to be reminded often!

  4. Jen says:

    Chris Swan, it’s never too late to leave a reply. Many times before I go to sleep I will look over the devotion for the day and look through comments again.
    I, along with the rest of those that commented am so thankful for our sacrificial Lamb. It’s so amazing and difficult to think of just how enormous it was that Jesus did for each of us. He loves us that much! I’m still amazed He continues to love me even with all the stumbles I have as I learn, walk and strive to worship Him. So thankful for His sacrifice, love and grace. All the glory be to God.

  5. Chris Swan says:

    Wow, it’s late in the day, so maybe no one is reading yet tonight— but this was a beautiful lesson—- so many of you had comments that were spot on! I had a staff meeting today and we talked about sharing our stories and about how it is good to cry tears!! Thanks everyone!

  6. Bree Beal says:

    My birthday is in two weeks and today, my son, Brandon gave me the She Reads Truth Bible (Navy Blue Leather). Oh my! What an EXQUISITE Bible this is. It’s simply stunningly beautiful. I LOVE every single feature in this Bible. The size is perfect fory hands, it’s not heavy at all, very light and easy to carry in my purse and backpack, the font size is very good. I LOVE that this Bible has reading plans for ALL 66 books in the Bible (that’s so cool) the maps are great, the coloring coding directs me to important doctrinal information and all the art throughout is very pretty. The devotionals are great and just the right size for being in a study Bible like this. Bravo, bravo She Reads Truth! I adore my new Bible! :)

  7. NanaK says:

    “Sacrifice looks like submission to God as He renews my heart, mind, words, service—my whole life—to better reflect His perfect character and boundless mercy. I am called to sacrifice my sinful nature, my active temptations, and my selfishness in an ongoing act of worship and praise to God, whose sacrifice alone makes me worthy to stand before Him.”
    My ongoing act of sacrifice—I don’t know that I’ve thought of submitting to God in this way. So simple, yet so very important in my daily walk. Thank you Melanie and all of you, dear Sisters for your thoughtful insight. I thank God for the blessings of SRT Bible studies and the ability to connect with so many Sisters around the globe.

  8. Erin says:

    Motherhood is certainly teaching me these things in a whole new way. I really needed to be reminded on this today, thanks SRT.

  9. Jennifer AndersMiller says:

    Beautifully said! Your words are such an encouragement.

  10. Ashley P. says:

    When I first read Hebrews 13:16 today, I wondered what it meant when it said, “Don’t neglect to do what is good and to share”…to share what? Does it mean to share physical things with others, to share my time and my energy, or to share words telling what God has done? Or all of the these things…? That led me to reading other versions of that verse, and the message version stood out to me. It says, “ make sure you don’t take things for granted and go slack in working for the common good; share what you have with others. God takes particular pleasure in acts of worship — a different kind of ‘sacrifice’ — that takes place in kitchen and workplace and on the streets.” I love that. God takes particular pleasure when we share with others in our day-to-day living. I don’t necessarily have to go serve in a soup kitchen or in the church (although those things are certainly good) but even just sharing what I have with others and working for the common good in my job and as I go about running errands bring a special kind of joy to the Father.

  11. Melissa Graves says:

    My MIL lives in a memory care facility about a mile down the road. Every day we drive my FIL, who lives with my husband and I, there and back for lunch and dinner. He is passionate about being there for her every day. My husband and I are committed to facilitating his support. Friends and strangers and even the employees at the facility comment about what a wonderful daughter in law I am, to provide such care to my in laws. I am humbled by the praise because of how much I fail…I get impatient, angry and overwhelmed from the challenges of dealing with the effects of dementia (they both have it). But I am also encouraged because if observers are seeing anything good in me, it is absolutely God’s doing! I have so far to go in this faith journey, but when I offer myself as a living sacrifice, He takes it, blesses it and uses it for my good, the good of others and, most importantly, His glory!

  12. Maura says:

    What good words I glean from SRT daily. Thank you all for sharing. Growing up in the country we raised animals and butchered chickens ourselves. The thought of the sacrifice of animals always brings back to my memory the mess and smell of the times of butchering. It was not pleasant and hard work. The woman weeping at Jesus feet is so aware of who He is. I wonder how her heart leaped when He said her sins were forgiven. And yet I know, because He has forgiven mine and shed His own blood to make my forgiveness possible. When I have found myself weeping because the Holy Spirit makes me aware, it is overwhelming the goodness of our Lord, who became the only sacrifice we would ever need. May Jesus be praised by these lives we live and may we pour out our praise and love as extravagantly as the woman in response to His love and find all the little altars where we can glorify the Lord with our actions of putting Him first.

  13. Alexis says:

    The sacrifice of me exalts Him. Love this Churchmouse; thanks so much for your insight!

  14. Sarah at SmallWorld says:

    Ahhh, Churchmouse! “Being aware of the little opportunities to serve Him wherever I am, in whatever way I can, as quietly as I can. So today I will look for little altars He puts in my path. I will humble myself and offer what I can at that moment.” Thank you so much for these words. I’m praying today that I can be more aware of the little altars, the moments when I can choose His way rather than my way.

  15. amarose says:

    This week has been filled with God challenging and pursuing my heart to bring me back to him after a season of rebellion. I had been feeling so much shame and guilt for what I had done that I could hardly bring myself to even talk to him anymore because I thought surely he must not want to hear from me when I’m actively pushing him away and doing the exact opposite of what he said. But God. He finally got a hold of my heart and ripped me free from the sin that so easily entangles. This morning I decided that I wanted to start reading SRT again (it’s been a few months) and I started this plan. I clicked on this reading, seeing it was at the top and as I was reading, it was like God speaking his forgiveness and his mercy into my heart. It was exactly what I needed to hear but as I was reading the comments, I noticed the date was today’s date. Instead of starting at what I thought was the beginning of the plan, God lead me to today’s reading because those were the words he wanted to speak into my heart. Wow…

    1. Ashley P. says:

      Welcome back! ❤️ God is so gracious!

    2. Melissa Graves says:

      God bless you, sweet Amarose!

    3. Julie Ammons says:

      Isn’t that just like our God?! To put before us exactly what He wants us to hear and what we need to hear! Thank you for sharing.

    4. Nicole Bisset says:

    5. Megan McDaniel says:

      He’s always waiting right where we left Him, ready to put us back together! ❤️

  16. Susan Merritt says:

    The story of the woman with the alabaster box is one of my favorites. I love how Mary is not ashamed to cry in front of the Lord and in front of anyone. Her tears are a genuine symbol of love and worship for Jesus Christ. I am a serious crybaby. Every time I feel the spirit it makes me emotional and I can’t ever control my emotions. After reading the story of Mary I realized she was not ashamed of her emotions of Christ and expressed them openly. This really opened my eyes of not being ashamed to shed tears openly for Christ as well. We should never feel ashamed of “wiping his feet with our tears”. Since then I have told many woman To never apologize for crying openly when they feel the spirit. Honest tears are a form of worship, gratitude, and love towards or Savior.

    1. Ashley P. says:

      I am the same way! I tear up at anything that moves me – whether it be witnessing kindness, seeing beauty in nature on my drive home, or hearing any kind of moving story.

    2. Ashley P. says:

      Oops, I didn’t mean to post that so soon! Anyway, yes, in the past year or so I’ve often held back tears in church during worship or communion too. But I also love reading about Mary’s unashamed emotions before Jesus and being reminded that such strong feelings can be poured out to God in worship rather than stifled out of fear of looking foolish or too emotional. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

    3. Piera Masellis says:

      So true!! I haven’t thought about that before, thanks for sharing!✨

  17. Karen G says:

    Thanks Churchmouse. I am blessed by your comments. Love the way you said to sacrifice self awareness for God awareness.

  18. Shawn Parks says:

    It is hazy out right now. The condensation on my window distorts my view of what is just beyond the glass. The thick humid air is nearly visible and without stepping onto my porch, I know breathing in the moisture will be laborious and add heaviness to my work and my walk. Isn’t that what my life is like when I carelessly let the sin of this world influence my spirit? My view gets distorted and the work and my walk become heavier to bear. I can see that David felt the same burden from his sin. He knew the lightness of God’s goodness and the clarity of God’s divine heart. It was not God that created the haze in David’s life, but David’s desire to be conformed by this world. But by God’s grace, David knew that God was still there even though he’d lost sight of Him. David repented and trusted in God’s faithfulness—not just believing, but knowing that God’s love was still shining brightly on him, his beloved child. I, too, step out into the heat of sin in this world and suddenly realize that my view is distorted and lose my focus, but David’s God is my God too. He refreshes my spirit with His love and His truth. His mercy lightens my heart and with clarity I sacrifice my sinful ways and walk, instead, in the bright light of His glory and goodness. Thank you, for once and for always, welcoming me into your life-giving love. I don’t just believe, I know that my God has faithfully replaced the haze of my life with the light and brightness of His Son!

    1. Alison McHugh says:

      Thank you for this poignant analogy. We’re on vacation in Florida and it will help me turn my focus on God’s grace as I continually re-experience the humidity, reminding me of how God’s grace refreshes.

  19. Alexis Maycock says:

    Reflecting on what sacrifice will look like in my day to day. Grateful for the reminder that sacrifice has many facets. The great forgiveness I have received…my response of gratitude should always be great. Even in the challenging seasons of life. Gratitude at times can be a sacrifice. May my response always be a graceful act of worship to you Jesus.

  20. Nancy says:

    Thank you for your insight, Churchmouse. All of this hit me square in the face! You definitely are a blessing to all.

  21. Angie says:

    SRT ladies, fellow and former teachers, I have written your names down and have committed to pray for you in your service to God and his children at least weekly, more as He lays you on my heart. What a blessing to be united, even over the internet, in our calling and service to our King. Your kind words and encouragement were blessings from God and I thank both you and especially Him. (I am also checking out the Sabbath series as that was an area God worked in my heart this summer, thank you.)

    Churchmouse, beautifully said…a sermon preached that we step forward in obedience to live.

    As we lay down “self” – washing His feet with our tears (pure, emptied, cleansing, Crazy Eight life), pouring forth the very best that we have (in substance and soul), drying it with our hair (not wasting an ounce of what He provides us to pour forth)…may the fragrance, the beautiful aroma of Christ, penetrate all to His glory and honor.

    1. Ashley P. says:


  22. Churchmouse says:

    Let’s be honest, I have first world problems. Sacrifices for me in the United States look much different than sacrifices elsewhere. Defining sacrifice, true sacrifice, is difficult because I so seldom offer what I think would be a true sacrifice. Oh I offer my time, my talent, my treasure but how truly sacrificial are they? Offering a sacrifice in the Old Testament required the shedding of blood. For sure I haven’t done that. So it is with great interest that I read the Scriptures for our reading today. What did his say is an acceptable sacrifice? He says “a sacrifice pleasing” is an offering of:
    My body, holy (set apart)
    A broken spirit
    A humbled heart
    Lips that confess His name
    Doing what is good
    Sharing what I have.

    That’s sacrifice? I was thinking it’d be something more dramatic. But perhaps God desires these because they require the essence of sacrifice in their simplicity. The daily laying down of me in order to exalt Him. Choosing His way, not mine. Praising Him when circumstances and emotions make that hard. Looking at my possessions as His for using to further His kingdom. Setting aside my pride because I am nothing without Him. Seeking His face more than promoting my own.

    These don’t seem grand but they are certainly doable, wherever I am. And perhaps that’s the real sacrifice. The sacrifice of self awareness for God awareness. Being aware of the little opportunities to serve Him wherever I am, in whatever way I can, as quietly as I can. So today I will look for little altars He puts in my path. I will humble myself and offer what I can at that moment. For others. For Him. Because sacrifice of me exalts Him. And I think He will be pleased.

    1. Carrie Dean says: