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Scripture Reading: Leviticus 1: 1-17 (RSV)

The Lord called Moses and spoke to him from the tent of meeting, saying,

V2- “Speak to the people of Israel, and say to them, When any of you brings an offering to the Lord, you shall bring your offering of cattle from the herd or from the flock.

V3- If his offering is a burnt offering from the herd, he shall offer a male without blemish; he shall offer it at the door of the tent of meeting, that he may be accepted before the Lord;

V4- he shall lay his hand upon the head of the burnt offering, and it shall be accepted for him to make atonement for him.

V5- Then he shall kill the bull before the Lord; and Aaron’s sons the priests shall present the blood and throw the blood round about against the altar that is at the door of the tent of meeting.

V6- And he shall flay the burnt offering and cut it into pieces;

V7-and the sons of Aaron the priest shall put fire on the altar, and lay wood in order upon the fire;

V8- and Aaron’s sons the priests shall lay the pieces, the head, and the fat, in order upon the wood that is on the fire upon the altar;

V9- but its entrails and its legs he shall wash with water. And the priest shall burn the whole on the altar, as burnt offering, an offering by fire, a pleasing odor to the Lord.

V10- “If his gift for a burnt offering is from the flock, from the sheep or goats, he shall offer a male without blemish;

V11- and he shall kill it on the north side of the altar before the Lord and Aaron’s sons the priests shall throw its blood against the altar round about.

V12- And he shall cut it into pieces, with its head and its fat, and the priest shall lay them in order upon the wood that is on the fire upon the altar;

V13- but its entrails and the legs he shall wash with water. And the priests shall offer the whole, and burn it on the altar; it is a burnt offering, an offering by fire, a pleasing odor to the Lord.

V14- If his offering to the Lord is a burnt offering of birds, then he shall bring his offering of turtledoves or of young pigeons.

V15- And the priest shall bring it to the altar and wring off its head, and burn it on the altar; and its blood shall be drained out on the side of the altar,

V16- and he shall take away its crop with the feathers, and cast it beside the altar on the east side, in the place for ashes;

V17- he shall tear it by wings, but shall not divide it asunder. And the priest shall burn it on the altar, upon the wood that is on the fire; it is burnt offering, an offering by fire, a pleasing odor to the Lord.

It is possible to be a follower of Jesus without being a disciple.

It is possible to be a camp follower without being a soldier of the king; to be a hanger-on in some great works without pulling one’s weight.

Illustration

Once someone was talking to a great scholar about a young man. He said, “So and so tells me that he was one of your students.” The teacher answered devastatingly, “He may have attended my lectures, but he was not one of my students.”

There is a world of difference between attending lectures and being a student. It is one of the supreme handicaps of the Church that in the church there are so many distant followers of Jesus and so few disciples.

So what are you today? A distant follower of Christ or a genuine disciple of Christ?

If you claim to be a genuine disciple of Christ, you need to have certain traits and one of them is TOTAL COMMITMENT TO CHRIST.

This morning, I would like to share with you a message entitled , ‘ A LIFE OF TOTAL COMMITMENT’ and I would like to use the illustration of the burnt offering to show you what a life of total commitment entails.

1 The Burnt Offering

The writer of Leviticus either ignored or didn’t have a good editor. For every editor will insist that the opening paragraph be designed to capture the attention and interest of the reader. In reality, not only the opening paragraph, but the first 7 chapters of Leviticus, are certain to discourage the modern reader from getting into this book.

Of what possible interest could the details of how various rituals sacrifices were made long ago be to me? What does the killing of animals in religious rites have to do with me and my world? What do I care about the world of priests and altars? These are the obvious questions that confront the contemporary Christians reader of Leviticus in deciding whether to invest time and energy in this particular book of the Bible. So, I decided to do an in-depth study of the meaning behind each offering delineated in Leviticus and wow, I reaped a wellspring of devotional truths that motivated me to serve God more.

The offerings of Israel revolved around 5 basic sacrificial offerings:

  • The burnt offering
  • The grain offering
  • The peace offering
  • The sin offering
  • The trespass offering

Each offering has a significant implication to us:

The burnt offering & grain offering speak of our COMMITMENT TO CHRIST

The peace offering/fellowship offering speaks of our COMMUNION WITH GOD

The sin offering and the trespass offering speak of our CLEANSING FROM GOD

Each of these offerings met a specific need in the life of the offerer and also expressed some truths about the person and the work of Jesus Christ, God’s perfect sacrifice.

However, this morning, my emphasis is on the Burnt Offering.

God spoke to Moses from the inner sanctuary (within the tent of Meeting) and gave him general directions for the various offerings to be brought.

The word “when” in verse 2 is significant. Although the public offerings, such as the Passover and Day of Atonement, involved set times and places, the individual offerings were voluntary. Sometimes the person wanted to express total commitment to God and did so with a burnt offering. When God reminded the sinner of a particular shortcoming, he would then offer a sin or guilt offering.

What is a burnt offering?

A burnt offering can be any of the three:

An Offering from The Herd (1:3-9)

The burnt offering or “whole offering” or “holocaust (total) offering” involved the entire offering being consumed on the altar. If the person brought an animal from the herd, the animal was to be male without defect. Animals from the herd and from the flock are two different things. The “herd” would be cattle; the “flock” would include both sheep and goats. Although the Israelites were nomadic people, their mainstay was their cows, sheep and goats. It is probable that during the extended wandering in the desert, the cows, which needed more pasture, were reduced in number; and the people kept the hardier sheep and goats. The ruminant animals digest cellulose. Goats, especially, can live on dried grass, stalks and bushes.

The offerer would bring the animal to the front of the tent of meeting. He then was to place his hand on the head of the animal and slaughter it BEFORE THE LORD. The priest would then apply the blood to all inner sides of the altar. The entire offering was to be placed on the altar, then washed and burned.

An Offering from The Flock (1:10-13)

Although Moses mentions that a person who offers an animal (whether sheep or goat) from the flock must do so on the north side of the altar, the same was probably true of an offering from the herd. Moses mentions it here with more precision. The procedure is the same as that for the herd offering.

An Offering Of Birds (1:14-17)

We learn from Leviticus 12:8 that God made a special provision for those who, because of insufficient means, were not able to offer a regular animal from either herd or flock. In such cases the individual could substitute either a dove or a pigeon.

The bird offering also differed from the animal offering in that the person was not required to lay his hand on the bird or kill it himself. The priest would perform that function. The priest would sever the head of the bird from the body and burn it on the altar. He would then remove the crop with its contents and dispense of it on the east side of the altar. The priest would have to divide the bird by the wings, making sure he didn’t sever it completely. He then would burn the bird on the altar as a whole offering.

A burnt offering was given for all Israel every morning and again the evening. On the Sabbath the burnt offerings were double (Numbers 28:9). The burnt offering speaks of a life of total commitment to Christ. We are to live a life of total commitment to Christ daily from morning till evening and to double that commitment on the Lord’s Day.

2 A Life Of Total Commitment

What is a life of total commitment?

It Is A Life Of Total Surrender

The Burnt Offering is the only offering in which the entire animal is burned on the altar. This Burnt Offering was the basic sacrifice that expressed DEVOTION, DEDICATION AND SURRENDER TO THE LORD. When we surrender ourselves to the Lord, we put ‘ALL ON THE ALTAR” and hold nothing back. Leviticus 1:9 (KJV)

And the priest shall burn ALL on the altar as a burnt sacrifice…

The New Testament parallel is Romans 12:1-2, where God’s people are challenged to be living sacrifices, wholly yielded to the Lord.

The real secret of an unsatisfied life lies too often in an unsurrendered life.

For Example

Look at some of our lives. Why are we so unhappy in this life? Has it got to do with our unwillingness to surrender to the Lord our anger, our sense of justice, our bitterness and even our disappointment about a person or a situation in our lives? Often we couldn’t derive satisfaction from our marriage is because we refuse to surrender our rights to the Lord. For some, you have yet to experience a spiritual breakthrough in this church because you do not want to surrender to the Lord your critical and insubmissive spirit to the Lord. Still for others, you don’t feel fulfilled by everything you do, even in your career or your school because you refuse to submit to the leading of the will of God for your life. An unsurrendered life blocks the power of God and you live life with yourself as the lord and the Lord Jesus as only a constitutional king. Yes, you are faithful in the church but only in the Sunday Service.

Throughout the rest of the week, we don’t see you in the house of God. Your time and your talents are all for your selfish consumption. Even when it comes to your children, you have yet to release and surrender your children to the Lord. Look at Jacobeth, the mother of Moses. When she couldn’t protect baby Moses from the slaughter of Pharaoh, she surrendered baby Moses to the providence and protection of God by releasing Moses to River Nile in a basket. Because she dare to commit her son to the Lord, baby Moses was in a way returned to her- she became his nurse and when Moses grew up, he fought for the cause of Israel. Parents, if you want to protect your children from the slaughter of this cruel and sinful world, you have to surrender your children to the Lord. You have to release your children to the Lord. It takes commitment on our part to trust in God to protect and to provide for our children. And God will surely protect and provide and you shall surely get your children back.

For Example

The last one week was the week of vacation for the staffs. Pas Toh Nee unknowingly accepted preaching engagement at La Union, San Fernando during this period of vacation. Not willing to be left behind in this hot weather, I volunteered to accompany Pas Toh Nee on one condition, he put me up in Baguio (Baguio is about 1 hr away from San Fernando). I told him to leave me alone in Baguio Hotel as I wanted to spend the entire week in prayer and at the same time to prepare my sermon there. I wasn’t afraid to even take a cab from the Hotel to downtown Baguio to window shop. A day before we took off, I was just wistfully saying to Pas Toh Nee that how nice it would be if Joy could join me in Baguio since she has finished her exam and is now on a long vacation. Immediately, Pas Toh Nee called her up and offered her this Baguio trip. Joy at that time was on her way to PAL office to claim her July ticket back to Iloilo and on the spot she asked the PAL officer if there was availability of flight.

Thank God there was and since it was a three- day trip, the ticket was pretty affordable. Within 24 hrs, Joy flew in to Manila and was waiting for us at the airport for 2 hrs since our Cebu Pacific flight was delayed for 2 hrs. We had a glorious and gleeful time of reunion, fellowship and touring at Baguio City. In the night, as Pas Toh Nee was away at San Fernando church preaching, Joy and I were sitting at the garden table of the hotel restaurant having candlelight dinner. Before my trip to Baguio, I already pictured in my mind to spend such kind of time in such kind of ambience with my daughter. The night temperature was very cold and I had an intimate time talking to her. I was asking her when this kind of life for us will end. I am referring to the long separation we have with our 2 kids. It has been six years since we are separated and our meeting time has to be in December vacation which will last to a maximum of 3 weeks. Even in June holidays, it is very hard for my daughters to be away from Spore because they have ministries there.

Even when we meet, we have to meet in such a rush. Pas Toh Nee had to drive us at 3am on Friday so that we could reach the Int’l airport by 9am for Joy to board her 10.30am flight back to Singapore so that she won’t miss her HOF duty of songleading at 7pm that evening. I was proud of my daughter’s commitment to the church but sad that we had to part so soon after only a miserable 3 days of reunion. But then, that is the part of releasing and surrendering my children to the path God wants them to take.

Their path is Singapore. Though I am sad to live this kind of erratic life of meeting and parting with my kids, I have this peace and assurance that God saw my surrender and my commitment of my 2 kids to His purpose, His protection and His providence and things will turn out well one day for my entire family. Parents- is your life committed to God that you are even willing to surrender your children’s life and future to the Lord even if it costs you your inconvenience and pain?

For Example

General William Booth was once asked to reveal the secret of His success. After some hesitation, tears came to his eyes, and he said, “I will tell you the secret. God has had all there was of me. There have been men with greater brains than I have, men with greater opportunities. But from the day that I got the poor of London on my heart and caught a vision of what Jesus could do with them, on that day I made up my mind that God should have all of William Booth there was.” It was this which led Dr J Wilbur Chapman, the questioner, to remark, “I learn from William Booth that the greatness of a man’s power IS THE MEASURE OF HIS SURRENDER.

The greater your surrender to Christ, the greater will be your greatness.

The most sensitive spot in the surrender of the whole life to God is our property. Perhaps it is because property provides us with material comforts, selfish satisfaction and gratifies personal tastes and appetites. The question is, who is owner – God or ourselves? If God, then we must surrender all to Him. Always man has attempted to except his property from the surrender; but when we begin to condition our surrender, then we begin to compromise; and to compromise with God is fatal to our souls.

Illustration

Charles Swindoll gave a humorous account of how a member in his church refused to surrender his property to the Lord. “I had preached a morning sermon that had a real appeal for us to get serious about this matter of committing ourselves to the ministry of this church. And I said to the congregation that making a vow to God is a serious thing, that we do not play games when it comes to giving God a promise. Now unknown to most of the people in the congregation, there’s a fellow in our church who had boat fever. He’s been down to the ocean and he’d picked out the boat that he felt God had wanted him to have. His wife didn’t have the same leading but he felt that he had God’s mind in it. And all through the morning message he was really wrestling with what he should do with this matter of making a vow and letting go of things that could really hold on to him. And he squirmed a little.

Then after I finished the message and had talked about giving our possessions over to God, he came to me after the service. He said, “You know, I really believe that I know what God is saying now.” And I was all ready for him to say that God had made it clear to him that in this case he shouldn’t get the boat. You know what he said? He said, “It’s clear to me now that I should get the boat and maybe start a Sunday School class on it.”

We laugh at this comical example but many of us are like this boat fellow.

A life of total commitment therefore is a life of total surrender and it will release satisfaction and greatness to your life.

It Is A Life Of Costly Worship

Central to this offering is the concept of COSTLINESS. While only a few could afford a bull, more could afford a sheep or goat and most everyone could afford a dove or a young pigeon. But everyone accepted the fact that this basic offering to God was to represent a sacrifice of one’s substance. It was inconceivable to them that one could enter into God’s presence without making a costly sacrifice.

In making the offering, the worshipper brought the animal into the outer court of the Tabernacle, at “the door of the tabernacle of meeting before the Lord” (1:3). The first act of the worshipper in arriving at the entrance of the tabernacle of meeting was to lay his hands. Next, the worshipper was required to personally kill the animal on the north side of the altar (v5,11). The worshipper would then cut the animal into pieces while the priest burned them, piece by piece, upon the top of the altar. These are all ACTS OF WORSHIP involved in the burnt offerings and yet we can’t miss the fact that our contemporary services of worship are pale and anemic compared to the worship of Israel. When the children of Israel brought their burnt offering to the tent of meeting, they brought their worship to the Lord and they were involved in the worship mentally, physically and emotionally.

Such worship was costly. It involved a sacrificial gift of significant economic value to the worshipper. Recall the time that David went to Araunah the Jebusite to purchase his threshing floor in order to build an altar to make sacrifices to God. When David met Araunah and offered to buy the threshing floor, Araunah offered the property and everything needed for burnt offering as a gift to David. But David replied,

The cost never deterred these worshippers because they believed that their offering brought a genuine pleasure to God.

Application

There are elements of the worship through the Burnt Offerings that need to be recovered in our worship experiences. It would never have occurred to the ancient worshipper that one could enter into the presence of God without a costly offering. Yet we come and go to our worship services pretty much as we please with little or no sense that we should approach God with sacrificial gifts and services. Folks whose worship participation is a matter of convenience, embellished with an occasional small donation, are not likely to discover the life-transforming power of authentic worship of the living God!

No, but I will surely buy it from you for a price; nor will I offer burnt offerings to the Lord my God with that which costs me nothing (2 Sam 24:24).

For Example

A man tells his story of his meeting with a missionary to Japan: “When I was overseas, I was working with a man who was under great stress and great pressure. He was a maverick sort of a missionary. He didn’t fit into the pattern or the mold of what you think of as a missionary. His ministry was in great part to the soldiers, who happened to be on the island of Okinawa by the thousands – in fact, it might be safe to say tens of thousands. I went to his home on evening to visit with him, and his wife said he wasn’t there but was probably down at the office. The office was downtown in a little alley area off the streets of Naha. It was a rainy night. And I decided that I would get on the bus and travel down to be with Bob. She’d mentioned his stress and pressure, so I expected to find the man folded in despondency, discouragement and depression, and just ready to finish it off.

I got off that little bus and I walked down the alley about a block and a half and I turned right, down a little smaller alley, to a little hut with a tatami mat inside. As I got away from the street noise, I heard singing, “Come, Thou fount of every blessing,/Tune my heart to sing Thy grace.” And then that next stanza, “Prone to wander – Lord, I feel it,/Prone to leave the God I love.” Quietly I eavesdropped on his private praise service. As I stood in the rain and looked through the walls of that little cheap hut, I saw a man on his knees with his hands toward heaven giving God praise, with his Bible on one side and an InterVarsity Christian hymnal on the other side, his little spiral notebook, worn from use. And I saw him turn from page to page, where he would read it to God, then he would find a hymn and he would sing it to God. And the remarkable thing is that pressure that he was under did not leave for perhaps another two weeks, it seems. But the praise service alone before God absolutely revolutionized his life.”

A life of total commitment knows how to worship God even in the midst of stress and pressure; even if it costs him his reasons.

For Example

While we were in Baguio last week, we received a text informing us about a church planter’s decision to resign from JECPP because of financial difficulty in his church. Instead of paying the high cost of worshipping God for who He is, despite the circumstantial fact that God has yet to step in to help him, he caved into the financial pressure and decided to take the cheap road out. If we are not willing to pay the high cost of commitment (patient endurance, excruciating pain of a tested faith), we cannot stick long to God.

It Is A Life Of Giving God Our Best

The ritual of the offering was spelled out by the Lord and could not be varied. The sacrifice had to be a male animal from the herd. The priest examined the sacrifice to make sure it was without blemish, for WE MUST GIVE OUR VERY BEST TO THE LORD.

The significance of the offering is seen in the repetition of the phrases

‘BEFORE THE LORD’ and ‘UNTO THE LORD’

which are found seven times in this first chapter of Leviticus (v2-3, 5,9, 13-14, 17). The transaction at the altar wasn’t between the offerer and his conscience or the offerer and the nation, or even the offerer and the priest; it was BETWEEN THE OFFERER AND THE LORD.

Illustration

MARY BROKE HER VASE. Broke it? How shocking. How controversial. Was everybody doing it? Was it a vase-breaking party? No, she did it all by herself. What happened then? The obvious: all the contents were forever released. She could never hug her precious nard to herself again. The need for Christians everywhere (nobody is exempt) is to be broken. The vase has to be smashed! Christians have to let the life out! It will fill the room with sweetness. And the congregation will all be broken shards, mingling together for the first time. If you know one another as broken people, you’re ready to get on with a church service.

Mary gave her very best. It was her life saving. She gave her very best unto Jesus and her life became a sweet aroma to those around her. A life of total commitment always blesses the lives around them because they give their very best to the Lord.

For Example

The famous preacher Charles Spurgeon said that whenever he looked at portrait of Henry Martyn, these words seemed to ring in his heart: “Don’t trifle! Don’t trifle!” The reason the minister felt this way is easy to understand. Martyn had graduated from Cambridge with honors in both mathematics and the classics, and had the prospect of a brilliant academic career. But he chose to serve the Lord in India. He was almost 25 when he arrived there, and at the age of 31 died. Yet in those 6 years he translated the New Testament into 3 languages, Hindustani, Arabic and Persian.

Talking about giving our very best to the Lord – how many of us can beat that?

Application

Are you giving your very best to the Lord? In your finance, your time or even your ministry? This motto of “giving my very best to the Lord” belies my every effort in the ministry. Recently, I reprimanded someone very badly for not giving his best even in a simple segment of HOF program. I expected this person to retaliate when I reprimanded him but surprisingly he didn’t because he knew that what I said was true- I told him that no matter how trivial any segment in the service to God is, I always give my best, even in this simple role of announcement giving.

Why give your best? Because you are committed to God’s glory when you give your best.

Now, we have to give our burnt offering or to give our best in the place God has designated.

Deut 12:13-14 – Take heed that you do not offer your burnt offering at every place that you see but at the place which the Lord will choose in one of your tribes, there you shall offer your burnt offering and there you shall do all that I am commanding you.

Application

So many of us offer our best at every place that we see but not at the place designated by God, which is the church. Look at the champion of the American Idol last year – Chris Allen. He is a Christian and he offers his best singing talent to the world instead of to the church. It is very wrong for Christians to offer our best or the offering of our dedication and commitment to any place other than the church. The church is God’s designated place for you to offer your best, in your skills and talents.

It Is A Life Upholding The Genuine Theology Of The Cross

The basic concept of the burnt offering is crucial to our understanding of the meaning of the Jesus’ death. Except when the birds were sacrificed, the offerer laid a hand on the sacrifice (v4), an action which symbolized two things:

The offerer’s identification with sacrifice

The transfer of something to the sacrifice.

In the case of the burnt offering, the offerer was saying, “Just as this animal is wholly given to God on the altar, so I wholly give myself to the Lord.” With the sacrifices that involved the shedding of blood, the laying on of hands meant the worshippers was symbolically transferring sin and guilt to the animal who died in the place of the sinner. The burnt offering made atonement for the offerer.

The offerer then killed the animal, and the priest caught the blood in a basin and sprinkled the blood on the sides of the altar (v5,11). The priest, not the offerer, killed the bird and its blood was drained out on the side of the altar and its body burned in the fire on the altar (v15-17). The dead body of the bull, sheep or goat was dismembered and the parts washed. Then all of it but the hide was laid in order on the wood and burned in the fire.

We see here the complete destruction of the animal in the burnt offering. In fact, Deuteronomy 13:16 describes an entire city destroyed as “burnt offering.” Clearly Moses spoke of complete destruction there. How do we reconcile this with the thought of a life of total commitment and self-dedication? If in one sense the animal represents the worshipper, we would think the worshipper would be destroyed. But really the opposite occurs – he lives. How so? By SUSBSTITUTION. The entire dedication is accomplished by an entire destruction of the SUBSTITUTE, superimposed on an entire preservation or even resurrection of the worshipper. In other words, the substitute died in order that the worshippers might live. Hence God portrays another picture of the multifaceted nature of Christ’s life, work and death.

The burnt offering stands as reminder of what Christ has done for us. Whatever else our study of Leviticus will accomplish, it will give us a profound theology of the Cross. Without such a theology, it is all too easy to avoid the central issue of the necessity of the forgiveness of sin, instead of making the gospel an approach to peace of mind, mental health, good adjustment or even a sure road to success. A genuine theology of the cross is sadly lacking in much that comes out of our pulpit and churches these days. Social activists without a theology of the cross find their energies and efforts sadly lacking in the transforming power of Christ’s love. And those at the extreme, offering what Bonhoeffer called “cheap grace,’ salvation without costly demands of love and obedience to Christ in the real world, find few parallels between the lives of the early disciples and comfortable “Christians” using the gospel as a means of self-fulfillment. Perhaps the most needed things for our lives today is a genuine theology of the cross.

In Mark 12:33 and Heb 10:6-8, we have specific references to the burnt offering and each is a quote from the OT pointing out that burnt offering in themselves are secondary in importance to LIVING OUT THE WILL OF GOD.

Heb 10:6-8 – In burnt offering and sin offerings thou hast taken no pleasure. Then I said,

Lo, I have come to do thy will, O God,’ as it is written of me in the roll of the book.

The genuine theology of the cross upholds Jesus as the sacrificial lamb, atoning for our sins as His disciples and entailing a life of obedience from those who are fully committed to Him.

Illustration

It is tough to live a focused life. From every direction, something or someone clamors for our attention. A distraction draws our eyes and the next thing we know, we’ve swerved off the road and headed down another detour. One Chicago youth pastor came up with a clever way to keep his group on track. Concerned that the balmy beaches of Florida – the site of their upcoming evangelism trip – would lure the teens from their purpose, he fashioned a cross from two pieces of lumber. Just before they climbed on the bus, he showed it to the group. “I want all of you to remember that the whole purpose of our going is to glorify the name of Christ, to lift up the Cross – the message of the Cross, the emphasis of the Cross, the Christ of the Cross,” he announced. “So we’re going to take this cross wherever we go.” The teenagers looked at one another, a little unsure of his plan. But they agreed to do it and dragged the cross on the bus.

It banged back and forth in the aisle all the way to Florida. It went with them into restaurants. It stayed overnight where they stayed overnight. It stood in the sand while they ministered on the beach. At first, lugging the cross embarrassed the kids. But later, it became a point of identification. That cross was a constant, silent reminder of who they were and why they had come. They eventually regarded carrying it an honor and privilege. That night before they went home, the youth leader handed out 2 nails to each of the kids. He told them that if they wanted to commit themselves to what the cross stood for, they could hammer one nail into it and keep the other with them. One by one, the teens drove their nail into the cross. About 15 years later, one fellow – now a stockbroker- called the youth leader. He told him that he still keeps that nail with him in his desk drawer. Whenever he loses his sense of focus, he looks at the nail and remembers the cross on that beach in Florida. It reminds him of what is the core of his life – his commitment to Jesus Christ.

A life of total commitment always remembers the cross and the Christ of the Cross.

It Is A Life Pleasing To The Lord

The phrase “sweet aroma” (KJV), “pleasing odor” (RSV) is used three times in this chapter (v9, 13, 17) and eight times in chapters 1-3 and it means a “FRAGRANT AROMA.” Since God is spirit, He doesn’t have a body, but physical terms are used in Scripture to depict God’s action and responses. In this case, God is pictured as smelling a fragrant aroma and being pleased with it. When Jesus died on the cross, His sacrifice was a “sweet-smelling fragrance” to the Lord and our offering to God should follow that example.

God instructed the priests to keep the fire burning on the altar at all times because it was their conviction that God was pleased with their devotion.

Application

As we join the congregation for worship on Sunday morning, we are doing that which brings pleasure to God. As pastors, we must always remind our people continually that our corporate worship is not only for our well-being but for the pleasure of God as well. It is at this point that worship can become a joyous dialogue with God. And what greater satisfaction could there be than bringing a smile to the face of God? If you want to actualize the song of Delirious where GOD IS SMILING OVER US TONIGHT, worship Him and live a life of total commitment to Him.

The fact that the fire for burnt offering must be “perpetually kept burning” symbolizes that every child of God needs to offer his life to God continually.

Application

There shouldn’t be seasons of commitment. Our commitment to God is perpetual. From the day we are born again till we meet Christ face to face; from the day of our schooling, to working life, to married life and even to old aged, our commitment to God is continuous. Our desire to please God must not be a seasonal or a one- time thing. Some of us make use of God. We only please God because we want Him to help us pass our board exams. Once we pass our board exams, we cease our burnt offering. We stop the fire at the altar- our commitment disappears from the house of the Lord. Some of you have stopped the fire of your burnt offering because of a new job; a new wife or new baby. Remember, this offering is a sweet aroma and we are to offer it continually and perpetually to the Lord. No retirement for Christians. Christians don’t retire. We refire. Ignite that fire of burnt offering if you have stopped at some point of your life.

Are you a distant follower of Christ or a real disciple of Christ? If you claim to be a real disciple of Christ, do you have the trait of total commitment to Christ and His cause? Is your life of commitment marked by a life of surrender; of costly worship; of giving God your best; of upholding the cause of the cross and of pleasing the Lord?

Do you dare to proclaim like this committed man does?

How’s your commitment to the Lord this morning? I close my message with this humorous story of the hen and the hog:

The service of Christ is the business of my life.

The will of Christ is the law of my life.

The presence of Christ is the joy of my life.

The glory of Christ is the crown of my life.

Illustration

A conversation is said to have taken place between a hen and a hog when they passed by a church and observed the subject of the pastor’s sermon: “How can we help the poor?” After a moment’s reflection, the hen said, “I know what we can do. We can give them a ham-and-egg breakfast.” The hog protested, saying, “The breakfast would only be a contribution for you but for me, it would mean total commitment.

So how’s your commitment to the Lord this morning? A mere contribution that doesn’t entail much from you or is it a total commitment that involves sacrifice, denial and death to your dreams, plans and conveniences?

End of Sermon
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