Denise Smith - Sacrifice - Durban Convention - 2006

In the 16th chapter of Deuteronomy, in the latter part of the 16th verse, it says, "…they shall not appear before the Lord empty. Every man shall give as he is able, according to the blessing of the Lord thy God which He hath given thee.” This verse speaks about the feast, and it would appear that they were not to appear before the Lord empty. Fresh sacrifice always helps us cover a little bit more ground and deepens our joy and our peace. I was just thinking today of a teacher giving a child a report that is good; sometimes they say "Making good progress." God would like to see us making good progress, too, not just standing still.

Before our convention in Bloemfontein, as it was getting towards the end of the year, we tried to visit all our friends in our field. We visited one of those friends in a lonely place and had a lovely visit with her. There just seemed to be something in her that was bubbling over and we couldn’t understand what it was, until we noticed a man busy doing some building, making an alteration on the house. I asked our friend, "What are you making there? Are you adding another room on?" and she just smiled and said, "You know, every time you visit me, you just pass by. That is going to be the workers’ room so next time you come past, you can stay and we can have some visits together." That really touched my heart. Do you know what else she told us? She said, "Every year I get to convention but I never have a part in the preps. This year things are going to be different! I don’t need to look after my grandchildren any more, and I’m free. I want to go to convention preps and I want to help." And she was there and was helping! When I greeted her, I saw the joy on her face, and the big smile. She was now willing for a little more sacrifice and a little more giving, and joy and peace radiated from her.

Sometimes we come empty-handed to convention because we are holding onto things and don’t want to let them go. There was one of our friends in our field we were very worried about, for when her relatives came and visited, she missed the meetings as though they were of no importance to her. Well, that’s what we thought. She would give up the meetings because her relatives were visiting, and then we saw something beautiful happening. We didn’t know that she and her husband owned a TV, but the elder of the meeting told us. That lady didn’t come from a professing background but her husband did. At one meeting, she said, “After the gospel meetings, I just want to do a little bit more for God," and then she said, "The TV must go!" and it went! She also said, "This business of me missing meetings is no more and I’m going to tell my people.” I was in that meeting Christmas day when she tearfully took part and said, "God has tested me. My family said, 'Stay at home and celebrate.'” But because she was willing to give and let go, there was so much joy and peace now seen in her life. I wasn’t at all surprised to hear that her little boy has made his choice to serve God now. He saw what was important in his mom and dad’s life and what they were willing to give up and it moved that little boy to give up his life and begin to serve God. You know, there is such a reward in giving.

The Lord Jesus said, "Give, and to you, it shall be given." Hannah went to Shiloh every year but one year it was different. When she prayed to God unconditionally, without reservation in her heart, she had Samuel to give. When Hannah gave Samuel back to God, she had less at home but more in heaven. You know, we NEVER lose when we give our best to God.

I just thought of that lad who gave those five loaves and two fishes. It looked so small to feed a multitude of 5,000 men, but he gave it and Jesus blessed it and broke it and it fed the multitude. God cannot bless what we don’t give to him. When that bread was given to Jesus, it was in His hands and He could bless it and He broke it and it fed many. We are so grateful for those who have been willing to be broken.

In this world broken things have no value, but broken wills and broken hearts and broken bread have great value in the sight of God. I thought of that widow woman with her two small mites that she threw into the treasury. No doubt others looking upon it thought it so small, but Jesus said she had given more than them all. Jesus looked at what she kept back…and it was nothing. She could have given one mite and kept the other for herself, but she gave all and in giving all, we can receive God’s blessing.

There is just one more person I thought of, and she was that woman who broke the alabaster box. You know it was something precious, and maybe even of some sentimental value to her, but she broke it and poured out that ointment. Others said, "What a waste." I’m sure she, in her heart, was saying, "What a privilege." She didn’t see it as a waste but saw it as her privilege to give and do for Jesus. You know what Jesus said about her? He gave a wonderful, wonderful testimony of her when He said, "She hath done what she could." God will be pleased if He sees we have done what we can in giving and if we do, we will know a wonderful, wonderful blessing. He also said it would be spoken of her wherever this gospel was preached. Maybe she didn’t realise that day the extent of her influence in doing and giving, but it has affected the whole world since. Wherever the Gospel is preached, she is mentioned.

May God just help us at this convention to give God a little more than we have done or given in the past. I thought of what Dellas told us when he was here, "Love’s strength is seen in love’s sacrifice." We show how much we love God by how much we are willing to give, and may it just be the portion of each one of us to give and surrender so our time together could be blessed.