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  • Writer's pictureJubilee Lipsey

What We Can Give

We all know battles are a given in this life, and I would venture to say all of us would agree that the struggle has intensified this year.

On the surface, we’re obviously fighting a viral plague, as well as the cultural disease of injustice, greed, and discontentment that’s spreading like poison after having been allowed to grow in the shadows for too long. But on a personal level, I would suggest that we’re primarily facing a battle for our minds and our mouths.

I believe that in times of crisis, whether for the nation or for our families or both, God hones in on the personal aspect of the battle for each of us. He does this in order to help us focus on what we can do in His Strength, not only to drive us closer to Him, but to keep us from being overwhelmed by helplessness. There are many aspects of this world’s troubles that we cannot control, but God wants to direct our energies where they count the most. We start inward and expand outward.

In the Bible this morning, I read about another plague—one that came upon Israel during the reign of David because of a presumptuous sin he had committed. On the brink of seeing Jerusalem destroyed, David pleaded for mercy, begging God to punish him instead of the people. Shortly afterwards, God sent a prophet to direct David to offer sacrifices on a specific piece of land in order that the plague might be lifted, so the king immediately set off for the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite. Eager to see the plague abated, Araunah offered the threshing floor to David for free, along with the materials for the sacrifice, but David insisted on paying 50 shekels for it, declaring, “I will not offer burnt offerings to the Lord my God that cost me nothing” (2 Samuel 24:18-25). David obeyed the Lord’s Word in humble obedience and the plague released its grip on Israel.

We don’t offer burnt sacrifices anymore, but there’s definitely something in this passage that we can use. My question for the Holy Spirit was, “What sacrifices can we offer, in our day, for the life of our nation, our families, our futures? What can we offer to You at a cost to see the Light of your countenance shining upon our paths? What do you want from us?”

The word sacrifice stood out to me, and the Spirit’s finger flipped through the files of my mind for the verse in Hebrews—a New Testament passage that mentions that word. Hebrews 13:14-16 says:

“For here we have no lasting city, but we seek the city that is to come. Through Him then [Jesus], let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge His Name. Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.”

I sat there amazed at the clarity of God’s desire. “I want your mouth,” He said.

All throughout life, but especially in times of uncertainty, we are fighting a battle for our minds, and what comes out of our mouths continually demonstrates where we have really placed our trust and our focus. This ultimately determines our effectiveness. What spirit are we partnering with through our words? Do we spend our days pursuing our own business and speaking idly or do our words indicate honor for God and belief in what He has promised (Isaiah 58)? Are we speaking what is precious or what is worthless (Jeremiah 15)? This does not only involve blatantly evil declarations, but the wisdom of the world, which tries to worm its way into our consciousness undetected, but which is foolishness to God (1 Corinthians 3:19).

The Bible is very clear that we attract life or death with our words (Proverbs 18:21).

Israel continually invited disaster through consistent complaining or fixating on the might of the enemy (even though both of those things seemed logical at the time). Conversely, when they remembered the works of the Lord and sent worshippers out ahead of their armies, they were unstoppable.

As believers, we belong to the Truth and are invited to set our hearts at rest in His Presence (1 John 3:20). Why not align ourselves with Life?

This is clearly the way we were meant to go, and yet it is also a sacrifice. It will cost us to praise God when we don’t feel like it, to declare the Truth of His Promises in the face of “factual realities” that seem to indicate the opposite. But the reward for our obedience in this area is a removal of the plague of tormenting fear that comes upon us when we align ourselves with anti-Christ voices. The reward is the Light of God shining on our ways, our hearts and minds guarded by the Peace of God, and our steps ordered by the Spirit.

David sang joyfully about the effect the Lord had on his life, declaring that when a person submits to the lordship of God, ruling in life through the fear of the Lord, God’s Light dawns on him like the brightness of a cloudless day, like rain that makes grass to sprout up from the earth. And he prospers in every area of life (2 Samuel 23:3-5).

This is God’s heart for all of His people. He wants to feed us with the heritage He has set aside for His cherished ones, to make us ride on the heights of the Earth. To repair our brokenness, restore our ruins, reinforce the foundations of many generations. To cause our healing to spring up speedily, and Light to shine on our ways. To see us watered and flourishing in every place where we’ve been scorched.

These epic promises are outlined in Isaiah 58:6-14, but they come at a cost. There are sacrifices required for this kind of blessing to reign in our lives.

In this passage of Scripture, God turns away from the traditional burnt offerings of the Israelites and declares that He desires a different kind of fast.

“Loose the bonds of wickedness, undo the straps of the yoke, free the oppressed, break every yoke. Share your bread, bring the homeless poor into your house. Cover the exposed. Don’t hide yourself from your own flesh. Pour yourself out for the hungry, satisfy the desire of the afflicted, get rid of the pointing of the finger and the wicked speech. Then shall your light rise like the dawn and your gloom shall be as the noonday” (58:6-10).

In addition to filling our mouths with continual praise and declaring the promises of God, we are commanded to step out and follow in our Lord’s footsteps, to be the hands and feet of Jesus. Yes, this is an Old Testament passage, but Isaiah declared Jesus long before He walked the Earth. Later, Jesus repeated Isaiah 61 as a descriptor of Himself, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to preach good news to the poor…”.

This was Jesus’ divine mandate and now He has passed it on to us.

This is not for an elite group of highly talented individuals. We should not need a specific word for this. God has already given instructions for all of us to “go and do likewise”, following Jesus’ example. Jesus came to destroy the works of the devil and we are equipped to do the same, changing our world step by step, little by little, through simple acts of obedience, reaching out in mercy to our fellow man.

This will cost us time, money, security, perhaps reputation. It will be inconvenient and messy, and sometimes it will seem fruitless.

It’s a sacrifice. And it’s one that God requested. He’s the Pearl of Great Price. He is worthy and He can be trusted.

Let’s rally and offer what will cost us to the One who has given us everything, knowing He has equipped us for this and every battle. Out of the ashes of our offerings will come the greatest glory possible—the Friendship of the Lord.

“Then you shall call, and the Lord will answer; you shall cry, and He will say, ‘Here I am’” (Isaiah 58:9).

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