Our human nature is bent towards compensation. We screw up and try to fix things by doing more or giving more. Our kids are mad at us for a decision made and we try to ‘make’ it up to them through various ways–whether it’s a gift or privilege or event. We hurt our spouse and try to compensate by buying them something or taking them somewhere. We feel inadequate in our jobs or volunteer position so we work harder or volunteer more and longer. It becomes a continuous cycle of do more, try harder then repeat.
The Israelites were great at offering sacrifices. There were numerous sacrifices and the priests were busy day and night presenting the sacrifices of the people to the Lord. And somehow, we, along with the Israelites think that is all that is required of us.
But what if it isn’t?
What if we have it all wrong?
What if it isn’t in our serving, our giving, our support of missions, or our doing the ‘right’ things? These are so important, but can easily distract us and deceive us into believing we are giving God exactly what he desires.
What if we are missing the mark in understanding what God really wants?
Look at what the Lord says in Psalm 50:7-11:
“Hear, O my people, and I will speak;
O Israel, I will testify against you.
I am God, your God.
Not for your sacrifices do I rebuke you;
your burnt offerings are continually before me.
I will not accept a bull from your house
or goats from your folds.
For every beast of the forest is mine,
the cattle on a thousand hills.
I know all the birds of the hills,
and all that moves in the field is mine.”
Do you hear the Lord’s cry? He is not rejecting all that we give and do for him in his name, but he is calling us to something greater.
“Offer to God a sacrifice of thanksgiving,
and perform your vows to the Most High,
and call upon me in the day of trouble;
I will deliver you, and you shall glorify me.”
The three things He longs to receive from us are:
…fulfill your vows
…call upon Him
Thanksgiving. It seems too easy. It seems too hard. In the good times, thanksgiving doesn’t seem like it is ‘enough’, and in hard times, thanksgiving is too ‘hard’, so we think we need to ‘supplement’ thanksgiving by doing more and giving more and being more. To offer thanksgiving with a heart fully engaged does require sacrifice on our part. In the good times, we need to be satisfied that our thanks is enough and sacrifice our desire to do more on the altar of His acceptance. In the bad times, it is a sacrifice to give him our thanks because it hurts and giving and doing more doesn’t hurt as bad as standing before the Lord and telling him, ‘This is awful, I hate what is happening, but you are good and I thank you for your kindness and mercy and grace and greatness,’ and really mean it.
Vows. It seems as though vows don’t hold the same weight as they once did, it seems as though commitment is a choice based on the whim of the moment or what is best for ‘me’. But the Lord says to fulfill our vows to him. When we accept Christ’s redeeming and resurrecting work in our life, we enter into a covenantal relationship with the Lord to believe him, to be faithful to him, to trust him, to be made like him and to stand firm. That is fulfilling our vows to him.
Trouble. It follows us. We cannot escape it. What we do when trouble smacks us along side the head will show us where we place our trust. Do we ‘pull up our boot straps’ and dig in? Do we face it with a ‘stiff upper lip’? Do we try and deal with it in our own strength, which is so very feeble and inadequate? Do we call upon the Lord only when we have exhausted all other options? Look what the Psalmist tells us: ‘Call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you’. The moment we run into trouble or trouble comes running into us our very first response should be to call upon the Lord. Do you? Do I?
Three things the Lord counts as sacrifices offered to him:
commitment to him,
and dependence on him.
In this we will honor him and isn’t that what we want to do? Isn’t that what this life surrendered wholly to him is all about?