What's on the altar?
God set up a system of sacrifices in the Old Testament. He demanded sacrifices from His people. He told them what He wanted sacrificed, how it was to be sacrificed, and even how to build the altar on which to sacrifice. In exchange, He blessed them with an abundance of the animals and crops out of which He desired sacrifices. He gave them the things first, then asked for a small portion in return. Why?

Let's back up and explore the Old Testament regarding altars before the time of Moses receiving the laws on Mount Sinai. Four men voluntarily built altars to God before that time. They were men who pleased God. They felt the desire to build an altar to worship God. They were in tune with what God wanted to do in their lives. Who were those men? They were Noah, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. They didn't need a law requiring sacrifices. They knew what would please God and they did it. In return, God honored their sacrifices and blessed them.

In the Old Testament the sacrifices that God requested were of things that the people ate and drank. They were of things that sustained life. The people could live without clothing and shelter if the weather was mild. They could never live without food to nourish their bodies.

They were to sacrifice different objects for different reasons. At various times they offered sheep, goats, oxen, and pigeons, wine, oil, and grain. The scriptures say the offerings were a sweet savor (smell) to God. He specified that the meat was all to be salted (seasoned) and some were to have frankincense (perfume) on them. I imagine those things would even smell good to me!!

When giving and making sacrifices the people were thanking God. They were thinking about Him and about the things He had done for them. Their minds and hearts were on Him. They were focusing on the One that created them. They were focusing on the One who loved them more than they even loved themselves. That was what He desired. When they stayed focused on Him and were keeping in remembrance all the things He had done for them then they would, for the most part, automatically be seeking to do His will.

He wanted to remind them that they would have nothing without Him. He wanted to remind them that He created everything. He wanted to remind them that they were only giving back to Him a small portion of what HE ALREADY OWNED. When they were of that mindset then He would bless them abundantly. They were given protection from all enemies. They had food in abundance. He gave them the desires of their hearts.

Things are basically the same today. The sacrifices as laid out in the Old Testament have been replaced by even better sacrifices. The sacrifice for sin was ended with a last, perfect sacrifice. That sacrifice was Jesus. We only have to accept that sacrifice in order to partake of the benefits.

God is desiring sacrifice from you. Paul tells us in Romans 12:1,

"I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service."

God wants you. He created you. He has provided the things that are necessary for you to live. He wants the first and He wants the best. That's you. In His eyes you are perfect. He created you exactly the way He wanted you. The only things that are imperfect about you are the things you've added yourself. Anything that deviates from the basic root of love is not of Him. (God is love. He created you out of love. He loves you. He created you for you to love Him back. He created you for you to love His other created people with the same love with which He loves you. Anything within you that deviates from that is not of Him and is not something that He loves.)

Every person that God has created was created with special gifts and talents. Not every person recognizes the fact that they have something special, but they do. Not all gifts are obvious such as artistic ability, a beautiful singing voice, a good memory, or athletic abilities. There are many, many other gifts that aren't always recognized as such. Some have to do with being good with numbers, organizational abilities, aptitude at repairing things, neatness, and being able to put things in understandable terms. Some people are good with other people. Some are especially patient with children or handicapped people, some have a super-abundance of love, and some are quick to lend a hand. I could go on and on. Some gifts and talents seem small, but none are small. All are necessary. All are important. All are given by God.

You have a choice to use your gifts and talents in any way you desire. He gave them to you to use for Him, however. He has a place for them to be used. That is why He wants your body as a living sacrifice. You are already His. He wants you to voluntarily yield yourself to Him. He wants you to give yourself back to Him.

You will lose nothing by giving yourself to Him. Too many people resist because they are afraid they won't have fun any more or God will make them do things they don't want. He LOVES you! He wants you to have fun! He wants you to smile! He wants you to enjoy life! Don't allow satan to lie to you. You will lose NOTHING by giving yourself to God!

Your prayers are a sweet smelling sacrifice to God. Revelation 8:3-4 says,
"And another angel came and stood at the altar, having a golden censer; and there was given unto him much incense, that he should offer it with the prayers of all saints upon the golden altar which was before the throne. And the smoke of the incense, which came with the prayers of the saints, ascended up before God out of the angel's hand."

Praise is an acceptable sacrifice. Hebrews 13:15 says,
"By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name."

Walking in love is an acceptable sacrifice. Jesus offered the sacrifice of love and we are to do the same as it says in Ephesians 5:2,
"And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweetsmelling savour."

Doing kind things for others is an acceptable sacrifice. Paul said in Philippians 4:18,
"But I have all, and abound: I am full, having received of Epaphroditus the things which were sent from you, an odour of a sweet smell, a sacrifice acceptable, wellpleasing to God."

The sacrifices that please God are spiritual sacrifices. They are sacrifices that arise because of your love for Him. They are sacrifices that result in your seeking His will in your life. Because you seek to please Him, because you seek to be doing His will you become a working member of the Body of Christ. I love the way it is described in 1Peter 2:5, "Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ."

Lively stones!! By allowing ourselves and our lives to be sacrifices to Him we become lively stones. We are able to fit right in with other lively stones and become part of a spiritual house! We become a holy priesthood! Think about it! Doesn't that sound fascinating?

What have you laid on the altar to give back to God? What do you think He would like? What has He told you He wants? You know what He wants. You've heard Him. Was it a gentle nudge that says, "Go to church?" Was it a soft voice saying, "Put more money in your offering envelope?" Was it a desire you have felt to sing out in praise and worship? Was it an urge to get on your knees and humble yourself in front of Him? Was it a tiny voice that said, "Turn off the TV and read your Bible?" Was it a push to reach out to help someone for a reason you didn't understand?

You've heard Him. Have you listened? What does He want you to lay on the altar?


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