Sunday, May 27, 2018

Better Than Sacrifice

Better Than Sacrifice


Sacrifices made to God are meant to be an external expression of an internal reality. One may surrender their time, abilities, possessions, money, goals, preferences, preoccupations, etc. to God in such a way that they glorify and further His Name and His Kingdom. However, for many reasons (hypocrisy, pride, guilt, deception, misinformation, immaturity, ritualism, etc.), many sacrifices meant to please Father God are actually offensive to Him. Why? Because the motivations for, attitudes about, or resentments associated with these sacrifices can reveal a warped, negative, unhealthy, or even hateful/repulsive attitude towards Him. And the reality is, God is the only one who can see the truth about what is going on in someone’s heart.

The Bible makes very clear that sacrifices given out of improper motives are not valued by God. Here are a few examples that help us understand the importance of our attitudes and intentions when it comes to making sacrifices to the Lord.


To Humble Yourself Before God is Better Than Sacrifice
  • Psalm 51:16-17 For You do not desire sacrifice, or else I would give it; You do not delight in burnt offering. 17 The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, A broken and a contrite heart— These, O God, You will not despise.
    • When we truly humble ourselves before God, we show that we desire to honor and please Him. Genuine humility demonstrates a fundamental grasp of, and sincere appreciation for, His exalted position, authority and perfect moral character.

To Listen to God is Better Than Sacrifice
  • Ecclesiastes 5:1 Walk prudently when you go to the house of God; and draw near to hear rather than to give the sacrifice of fools, for they do not know that they do evil.
    • To go beyond the letter of the law and discern what God is really saying, reveals a heart that is eager to hear the truth as revealed in His Word and by His Holy Spirit. Without His Spirit to teach us, we are unable to grasp the deep meanings and correct applications of scripture.

To Show Mercy Before God is Better Than Sacrifice
  • Matthew 12:7 But if you had known what this means, ‘I desire mercy and not sacrifice,’ you would not have condemned the guiltless.
    • We serve a merciful God. When we show mercy to others, we reveal the changes His indwelling presence has made in our lives. As unnatural as mercy is to the depraved human nature, the empowering of God’s Spirit and enlightening of His Word make even the impossible possible.

To Love God and Others is Better Than Sacrifice
  • Mark 12:33 And to love Him with all the heart, with all the understanding, with all the soul, and with all the strength, and to love one’s neighbor as oneself, is more than all the whole burnt offerings and sacrifices.”
    • Godly love is not based on emotions, feelings or attractions. To love God and others is to make decisions and sacrifices that put the needs of others above our own. The love of God is revealed in the children of God.

To Obey God is Better Than Sacrifice
  • 1 Samuel 15:22 So Samuel said: “Has the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, As in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, And to heed than the fat of rams.
    • God-honoring obedience is evidence of a God-centered life – a life built on love for, appreciation of, reverence towards, and trust in the creator and sustainer of all things. Complete surrender to who He is and what He desires enables obedience based on His strength and attributes.

The ultimate sacrifice we make to God is ourselves. We are called to surrender all that we are to Him and then live in a way that gives Him glory. Relatively speaking, very few Christians are called upon to die for their faith in Christ. We are called to live for Him in a world that hates us! Living our lives for His glory is true worship of Him.
  • Romans 12:1 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.

Are there external expressions of your faith in God that misrepresent the internal realities of your relationship with Him?


Prayer

Dear Lord, help all those who have been reconciled to You by faith in Jesus to honestly examine their sacrifices to and for You. Guide and empower us to address the hypocrisies and mistakes in how, what and when we do things to serve and honor You. Forgive us when we fall short. For those who pretend to love and serve you with selfish or evil intentions, draw them to salvation in Christ – give them the faith to believe and to fall in love with Jesus. I ask these things in the name of Jesus, my Lord and Savior. Amen.

Sunday, May 20, 2018

What Is Holding You Back?

What Is Holding You Back?


There is a God in heaven who loves you. He wants to have a personal relationship with you. His desire is that you spend eternity in heaven with Him. But one thing stands in the way – your sin (neglecting, discounting and falling short of His standards and requirements). God has revealed Himself to us in creation (where do you think everything in the universe came from? He made it). God has revealed Himself to us through His Holy Word – the Bible. God has dealt with the problem of sin by coming to the earth as a man, Jesus Christ, living a sinless life, and then sacrificing His own life to pay our sin debt. Then He rose from the dead (defeating sin and death) and ascended to heaven where He is seated at the right hand of Father God.

The good news about reconciliation with Father God is exceedingly simple: believe that Jesus died to pay your sin debt; sincerely ask God to forgive your sins; ask Jesus to be your Savior; surrender your entire life to Jesus; and then live a God-honoring life (enlightened by the Word of God, empowered by the Spirit of God, and encouraged by your living Lord and Savior, Jesus).

The Bible is clear. Without saving faith in Jesus Christ, when you die, you will be separated from God for all of eternity in a real place called Hell. In the absence of God, separated from all that is good and just and right, those who aren’t in heaven will suffer torment forever.

So, what is holding you back? Why are you rejecting Jesus?

Looking to God’s Word, reflecting on my previous life of rebellion against God, and observing the world around me that has discarded God, here are a few of the many possible answers to these questions.

Ignorance
Not a measure of one’s intellect, but a lack of specific knowledge about Father God.
  • Exodus 5:1-2 Afterward Moses and Aaron went in and told Pharaoh, “Thus says the Lord God of Israel: ‘Let My people go, that they may hold a feast to Me in the wilderness.’ ” 2 And Pharaoh said, “Who is the Lord, that I should obey His voice to let Israel go? I do not know the Lord, nor will I let Israel go.”
    • Pharaoh proclaimed his lack of knowledge regarding God. But rather than seeking information about Him, he turned his back on the opportunity to be enlightened by the absolute truth about the creator and ruler of all things. All of Egypt suffered greatly because Pharaoh refused to grow in the grace and knowledge of Father God.
Ignoring
Not a case of ignorance, but a calculated dismissal of what is already known.
  • Ezekiel 9:9-10 Then He said to me, “The iniquity of the house of Israel and Judah is exceedingly great, and the land is full of bloodshed, and the city full of perversity; for they say, ‘The Lord has forsaken the land, and the Lord does not see!’ 10 And as for Me also, My eye will neither spare, nor will I have pity, but I will recompense their deeds on their own head.”
    • While in captivity in Babylon, the prophet Ezekiel was transported to Jerusalem ‘in visions of God’ (see Ezekiel 8:1-3). As part of this vision, Ezekiel witnessed the pouring out of God’s wrath on the blatant sin that was so predominate with the Jewish people of that time. God’s chosen people, who were meant to shine as lights to the world, ignored what they knew and had experienced about God’s goodness and faithfulness. The Jews suffered greatly because they chose to disregard their knowledge of, and national history with, Father God.
Indifference
Not a problem with apathy in all areas of life, but a personal choice to completely disregard Father God.
  • Mark 8:36-37 For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? 37 Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?
    • So many things to achieve, so many battles to fight, so many problems to solve, so many places to invest all that we are for a temporary sense of accomplishment and purpose. Striving to gain all this world has to offer will leave a person devoid of conscience and condemned to an eternity of suffering.
Immodesty
Not a full-blown case of narcissism, but a serious surplus of pride before Father God.
  • Romans 1:21-22 because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Professing to be wise, they became fools,
    • Oh, the ego of humanity today. With all our discoveries. With all our knowledge. With all our abilities. With all our achievement. We just don’t seem to need God anymore. In our elevated state of awareness, we have become fools.
Idolatry
Not a problem with worshiping something, but a deliberate decision not to revere Father God.
  • 1 Timothy 6:9-10 But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and harmful lusts which drown men in destruction and perdition. 10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.
    • Without even realizing it, many people worship money (or the things that money can buy). Some people worship other people (for what they do, have, know, or pretend to be). Some people worship evil. Worshiping anything other than Father God is sin. He alone is worthy of our devotion.

Don’t suffer the consequences
of rejecting the truth about God.

Turn to Jesus.


Talk openly and honestly with Father God. He already knows everything about you – and He still loves you. In your own words, in your own way, ask Him to forgive your sin. Tell Him that you believe in Jesus and what He did for you. Surrender your life to Jesus as Lord and Savior. Ask Father God to fill you with His Spirit. Ask Him to provide all you need to learn, and grow, and become everything that He has had in store for you since eternity past.


Prayer

Father, King, Lord, please melt hard hearts. Please open the eyes of the blind. Please reveal Yourself in undeniable ways to those who refuse to believe. Have Your way. I pray for these things in the name above every other name, Jesus Christ. Amen.