I am not my own

A Sacrifice of Praise

And the crowd rose up together against them, and the chief magistrates tore their robes off them, and proceeded to order them to be beaten with rods.  And when they had inflicted many blows upon them, they threw them into prison, commanding the jailer to guard them securely; and he … threw them into the inner prison and fastened their feet in the stocks. But about midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns of praise to God, and the prisoners were listening to them.” Acts 16:22-25 NASB

Ok, let’s just stop her a moment. Paul and Silas were stripped in public and pummeled until they bled.  Then the jailer threw them into the middle of the filthy prison and clamped a bar down on their feet.

Paul and Silas chose that moment to sing praise songs. 

These were men who most definitely were not their own.

If I put myself into that scene, I can see lots of tears and self-pity and prayers to get me the heck out of there.  If I put some godly men that I know in that scene, I can see some pretty serious anger going on.  But praise songs?  Wow.

Paul and Silas were so completely Christ’s that any moment was a moment to praise Him, and horrific moments so much more so.  I think this must be what Hebrews 13:15 calls “a sacrifice of praise.” 

Praise comes in so many forms.  Singing a pretty chorus in a pretty church on Sunday morning after doughnuts in Sunday School – that’s praise.  But is it a “sacrifice of praise?” I think not.  I think that only comes out of our lips on prison floors after beatings.

 A Christian wife whose husband scorns her, cheats on her, throws her out like so much trash – when she praises God, that’s a sacrifice.  A family man, a deacon, an upstanding guy who loses his job and then his house – when he praises God, that’s a sacrifice. A West African believer who lays awake at night listening to his children cry because they are starving and he has no rice to give them – when he praises God, that’s a sacrifice.

And I don’t think we can give those sacrifices until we understand whose we are.  If we are living for ourselves, we will praise God only when he does good things for us.  But if we are His, completely His, we will praise him no matter the circumstances in our life.  Because He deserves it – no matter what.

I am not my own

Belonging to Jesus

When you follow the desires of your sinful nature, the results are very clear: sexual immorality, impurity, lustful pleasures, idolatry, sorcery, hostility, quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambition, dissension, division, envy, drunkenness, wild parties, and other sins like these. Let me tell you again, as I have before, that anyone living that sort of life will not inherit the Kingdom of God.

But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things! Those who belong to Christ Jesus have nailed the passions and desires of their sinful nature to his cross and crucified them there. Since we are living by the Spirit, let us follow the Spirit’s leading in every part of our lives. Let us not become conceited, or provoke one another, or be jealous of one another. ~ Gal 5:19-26, NASB

wedding ringsWhen I got married I changed my name. I changed my address, my college, my future plans. I change my allegiance. I was no longer a single woman, serving my own desires, looking out for my agenda. I declared myself his. I belong to my husband.

Sometimes we look at Jesus like He’s the genie in the lamp. I’ll call you when I need you, but otherwise, I’m doing my thing. Living on my own terms.

But a disciple belongs to Jesus. They have made a declaration, to God, and to the world, “I am His.” And what does that mean?

I belong to Jesus, I am no longer pledged to sin.
I belong to Jesus, I have laid aside selfish ambition.
I belong to Jesus, I am committed to His joy.
I belong to Jesus, I claim His household as mine.
I belong to Jesus, I am not my own.

Life was different after marriage, but fifteen years down the road, I don’t have any regrets when it comes to that pledge.

Life is different when we belong to Jesus, but in an eternity of life with Him, there won’t be a single regret.