5 Sacrifices We Can Offer to God This Thanksgiving

Like potty training accidents and moments of defiance, sickness isn’t really something you can plan into your schedule, (though now that I have two kids, it’s a little easier to see it coming. Example: My preschooler got a runny nose, became even more affectionate toward his little sister, giving her the cold, which passed to my husband who had to go to work feeling sick, and finally after a few days of trying to make everyone feel better, I got to join in the nose-blowing fun.)


As the regular household chores were pared down to keeping the kids alive and a few meals cooked, I struggled with the feeling of uselessness, accomplishing even less than the current pace of life I’ve tried to get used to with having two kids. Time to study the Bible is even more interrupted by inconsistent nap schedules and a tired mommy brain.

It’s made me want to enter this season of Advent and the wonderful family and friend Christmas extras that are added to the schedule with a greater awe for Immanuel—God with us—leading and guiding how we go about our days.

But how do we know how to spend our time?

First, we need to figure out what roles God has called us to in light of the future inheritance we have, which will never perish, spoil, or fade. (I Peter 1:4)


Called to Be a Priest

As you come to him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious, you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. (1 Peter 2:4-5 ESV)

So what does it actually look like to be a priest on this side of the cross?

How can I be a priest as I go about my other wife-mother-friend-daughter-sister-church member roles?

First, we need to remember that our ability to be a priest rests solely on Jesus’ work as the Great High Priest. He was tempted in every way, yet kept the law perfectly so that we can receive His righteousness on our behalf. Even now, He intercedes for us so that we can approach the throne of grace with confidence (Hebrews 4:14-16).

Only then can we hope to offer the smaller spiritual sacrifices that reflect His greatest sacrifice on the cross as we intercede between and on behalf of others.

Jen Wilkin, in her Bible study on 1 Peter, pointed us to some Scriptures describing five different kinds of spiritual sacrifices.

  1. A broken spirit and contrite heart

O Lord, open my lips, and my mouth will declare your praise. For you will not delight in sacrifice, or I would give it; you will not be pleased with a burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise. (Psalm 51:15-17)

  1. Our bodies

I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. (Romans 12:1)

  1. Proclaiming the gospel

But on some points I have written to you very boldly by way of reminder, because of the grace given me by God to be a minister of Christ Jesus to the Gentiles in the priestly service of the gospel of God, so that the offering of the Gentiles may be acceptable, sanctified by the Holy Spirit. (Romans 15:15-16)

  1. Praising God by acknowledging His name

Through him then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name. (Hebrews 13:15)

  1. Doing good and sharing what I have

Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God. (Hebrews 13:16)

Just like God’s gracious blessings are both physical and spiritual, our sacrifices to Him may or may not be seen before they are offered like incense before God’s throne.

Each moment I invest in praising God for who He is, thanking Him for the specific physical and spiritual gifts He helps me to recognize, and surrendering my body for His use, it is a sacrifice to Him.


Every time I invite Him to search my heart and draw me to repentance, it is a sacrifice to Him.

And when my heart is focused on the goodness of God, it prepares my heart and mind for talking about that goodness with others.

I can be thankful for each opportunity to do good that He provides: each spoonful of pureed peas, each moment of listening to a friend pour out her struggles, each repeated read of the Katie the Snowplow book , and each cycle of planning a menu, shopping, pulling ingredients out of the fridge, cooking, serving, and cleaning up.

As we prepare for Thanksgiving, will we be content to stop at spending a moment thanking Him for the physical blessings of good food, family, and friends? (Or merely join with the world in the feeling of “being thankful” with no one to direct our thanks to?)

What other sacrifices might God be inviting us to give for our good and His glory?

*If you’d like to read a Thanksgiving fiction piece I wrote last year, click here.

Why Forgetting About Heaven is Dangerous

Do you ache for heaven?

Most of the time I’m aching for a lot of things–more sleep, the casserole’s timer to go off so I can eat, time to read a novel, relational connections with my friends and husband, my son to stop whining and eat the lunch I made for him.

HeavenThese aches can pull us down, making us feel ungrateful and trapped in the responsibilities of life. That’s why it’s essential that we take time to meditate on the root of the ache–the heaven-shaped hole in each of our hearts.

Why it’s okay to look ridiculous
If you’ve chosen to follow Christ and have asked for His forgiveness, believing in His death on the cross as payment for your sins, you have a hope that no one else can claim. But it’s so easy to get distracted. . .

Your friend’s kid made it on to MasterChef Junior while yours can barely manage a piece of toast?
Your boss seems to relish your mistakes?
You can’t seem to get off the ground financially?

It can be so easy to compare myself to others who seem to have better lives now, instead of seeing this life as preparation for a glory-filled eternity.

Paul reminds us in 1 Corinthians 15 why this might look ridiculous to those who don’t follow Jesus.

13 If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. 14 And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith. . . 18 Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost. 19 If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied.

bridge-19513_1280How to jump off the treadmill
How can we keep running in the joy of Christ if we aren’t focusing on the finish line?
When we forget about the eternal reward that’s being momentarily delayed, life can start to feel more like a treadmill.

Dr. Randy Alcorn, a former pastor and Bible teacher who has devoted decades of his life to studying Scriptures regarding heaven said that, “following Christ is not a call to abstain from gratification but to delay gratification. It’s finding our joy in Christ rather than seeking joy in the things of this world. Heaven–our assurance of eternal gratification and fulfillment–should be our North Star, reminding us where we are and which direction to go.” (Heaven, p. 455)

But how can we look forward to something we know so little about?

How can we picture a place when the images in Revelation seem so different from our everyday lives?

In my theology class in college, we studied about heaven in Millard J. Erickson’s book “Introducing Christian Doctrine.” It was the beginning of my heaven meditations as I was reminded that not only will we be worshiping God, but there will also be meaningful work and rest.

But what really started to put meat to the bones of my understanding was Randy Alcorn’s book, “Heaven.”
He explained that not only do we have heaven to look forward to when we die, but Jesus is coming back to create a New Earth where all of His followers will live for eternity.

Revelation 21:1-4 says:

21 Then I saw “a new heaven and a new earth,” for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. 2 I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. 3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. 4 ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”

It was a whole lot easier to picture a future like earth, with all the incredible blessings it contains.

Everything is spiritual
Alcorn says, “When we think of Heaven as unearthly, our present lives seem unspiritual, like they don’t matter. When we grasp the reality of the New Earth, our present, earthly lives suddenly matter. Conversations with loved ones matter. The taste of food matters. Work, leisure, creativity and intellectual stimulation matter. Rivers and trees and flowers matter. Laughter matters. Service matters. Why? Because they are eternal.” (p. 443)

It won’t be one unending church service, like Tom Sawyer pictured, but communion with Christ in everything we do. Randy Alcorn says it beautifully:

“In liberating us from sin and all its consequences, the resurrection will free us to live with God, gaze on him, and enjoy his uninterrupted fellowship forever, with no threat that anything will ever again come between us and him.” (Heaven, p. 304)

All the barriers to our intimacy with the Father will be removed. He will never feel distant again.

We’ve always been God’s image-bearers (Genesis 1:27), but that image that was marred by sin will be perfectly restored. The beauty and goodness that we experience now give us glimpses of what that will be like.

As I’ve gone through Alcorn’s book on Heaven, here are a few things that I can’t wait to experience as I worship God.

Heaven1. Discovering new things.
God is the author of all knowledge and creativity, and none of it will be tainted by sin as we pursue it. I’m actually kind of hoping I can learn to play the cello.

2. Rest
Hebrews 4:11 encourages us to enter God’s rest through Sabbath, but in heaven, we will get to experience true soul rest, a rest that Jesus gives us tastes of now as we come to him with our weariness (Matthew 11:28)

3. Eating
Would it help my eating habits now if I was able to save some of my appetite for the Great Wedding Feast of the Lamb? What other kinds of delectable morsels might we get to try?

4. Work
Alcorn reminds us that “Work wasn’t part of the curse. God himself is a worker. He didn’t create the world and then retire (Heaven p. 329). Just imagine all the enjoyment and fulfillment you’ve gotten from aspects of your work and take away the nasty bosses, tiring hours, and boredom!

5. Marriage to Christ
Earthly marriage is a shadow, a copy, an echo of the true and ultimate marriage. (Heaven p. 336) Everything good and tingly and fun and seemingly perfect about marriage will be even more soul-satisfying in our marriage to Christ. When we struggle to fight selfishness and work through miscommunication in our marriages, we can be reminded of how complete and satisfying relational intimacy will be on the New Earth.

But what about sex?
Alcorn says that since the intimacy and pleasure of sex was designed by God, “I don’t expect him to discard it without replacing it with something better.” (p. 338)

If questions about heaven have been keeping you from focusing on the finish line, the second half of Randy Alcorn’s book is filled with about 200 pages answering questions people have raised. It’s called “Heaven” and you can get it here. 

Exercising our imagination
We have so much more than the good feelings people get from practicing gratefulness. Not only can remembering our blessings lead us to thank the Giver of everything good, but we can let each smile, kind word, tasty meal, and intimate conversation carry our imagination heavenward.

HeavenAnd as Alcorn says, “With the Lord we love and with the friends we cherish, we’ll embark together on the ultimate adventure, in a spectacular new universe awaiting our exploration and dominion. Jesus will be at the center of all things, and joy will be the air we breathe. And right when we think ‘it doesn’t get any better than this’–it will.”