Editor’s Note: The AMI QT Devotionals from Dec. 21-3 are produced by Pastor (intern) Phillip Chen who oversees the college group at the Church of Southland.
Devotional Thoughts for Today
Hosea 9:8-10 (ESV): They shall not pour drink offerings of wine to the Lord, and their sacrifices shall not please him. It shall be like mourners’ bread to them; all who eat of it shall be defiled; for their bread shall be for their hunger only; it shall not come to the house of the Lord.
What do you tend to do when you’ve messed up? We see movies that show the man insincerely buying flowers and chocolates in hopes of making up with his significant other—and we are baffled at his naiveté, thinking, Surely, he doesn’t think that forgiveness can be bought! Gifts (without sincere repentance) cannot appease broken relationships. We get that, but surprisingly, humans think that this works towards God. Subconsciously, this is what many of us do as we approach God, falling into the lie that we are allowed to continue with sin in our lives as long as we are attending church, giving tithes, serving and going on mission trips. We use these “acts of worship” to barter with God to justify sin. Yet God is not interested in those “acts of worship” if a repentant heart does not accompany them.
We often treat God as if He is obligated to receive our worship, whether it is the Sunday worship service or small groups. If we serve in different ministries and go on mission trips, God should be grateful for our service and all that we give—but this is certainly not the case. Here, in this passage, God tells Israel that He is not pleased with their offering—it is not accepted in His sight. Then what does God desire?
King David knew that God desired the heart more than simple, outward actions. In Psalm 51, as he reflects on his treacherous sin in having Uriah murdered to cover up his adultery with Bathsheba, he says, “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.” There is a difference between being sorry for getting caught and being genuinely sorry for our sins. King David does not offer sacrifices—an outward action—simply to appease God. Rather, he is sincerely remorseful as he repents of his sin, which is what God desires of us. When we sin, let us approach His throne of grace with a broken and contrite heart, for He is faithful to forgive us and cleanse us of our sins!
Lord, thank You for Your steadfast love. Even in the midst of my faithlessness, You remain faithful. I don’t want to keep offering sacrifices that are not from a genuine, repentant heart. Help me in my weakness, and cause me to hate sin and run from it towards You. May my worship be a pleasing aroma to You!
Bible Reading for Today: Luke 1*
*This week we take a detour from Ecclesiastes to read the classical passages about the birth of Christ: Matthew 1-2, Luke 1-2 and Isaiah 9.
Lunch Break Study
Read Psalm 51:4, 11, 13-7: Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight; so you are right in your verdict and justified when you judge. . . . 11 Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me. . . . 13 Then I will teach transgressors your ways, so that sinners will turn back to you. 14 Deliver me from the guilt of bloodshed, O God, you who are God my Savior, and my tongue will sing of your righteousness. 15 Open my lips, Lord, and my mouth will declare your praise. 16 You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it; you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings. 17 My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart you, God, will not despise
Question to Consider
- What do we make of v. 4 when David says, “Against you, you only, have I sinned…” when David has clearly sinned against Uriah and Bathsheba?
- What is the significance of David asking that God would not take His presence away from him (v.11)?
- What do verses 13-17 teach us about what God desires when we approach Him?
- I believe this is not to be seen as David thinking naively that he has only sinned against God and not seeing the impact of his sin towards others. Rather, I think it is the recognition that every sinful action directly offends God first and foremost. Also, comparatively speaking, his sin is most severe against God.
- Many of us tend to have a faulty idea of repentance. A religious person will confess and repent out of a fear of consequences, but a true Christian will confess because they fear losing God’s presence. They understand the value of belonging to God and being in His presence.
- God is not looking for gifts and sacrifices simply to appease Him. Rather, God is looking for hearts that have turned to Him in repentance and true worship that arises from a truly repentant heart. True praises ring forth from our mouths from a broken and contrite heart.
Have you justified certain sins in your lives and have been okay with it? Have you used religious acts of worship to mask and justify these sins? Loving God and true worship comes from a heart that hates sin and runs from it. Tonight, ask God to search your heart and reveal to you any areas of your life that grieves Him; then turn towards Him and know that in His loving kindness, He restores and makes our paths straight.