July 8, Wednesday

REPOST Today’s AMI QT Devotional, provided by Pastor Barry Kang who heads Symphony Church in Boston, is an updated version of his blog first posted on April 23, 2013.  He is a graduate of Stanford University (BA), Fuller Theological Seminary (M.Div.) and Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary (D.Min.).

Devotional Thought for This Morning

“That Which is More Important to God Than Sacrifices and Offerings”

Psalm 40:6-8

Sacrifice and offering you did not desire, but my ears you have pierced; burnt offerings and sin offerings you did not require. 7 Then I said, “Here I am, I have come—it is written about me in the scroll. 8 I desire to do your will, O my God; your law is within my heart.”

paul-keiffer-J9iJZlH1H9M-unsplashAre sacrifices and offerings necessary?   If we are asking whether a life of following Jesus indeed requires costly decisions and surrender, then the answer is quite clearly Yes (see Luke 9:23).  Indeed, if properly understood, the essence of worship is sacrifice and offerings.  What we have in Psalm 40:6 is a kind of Jewish hyperbole.  David is not saying that God does not want sacrifices and offerings from us.  Rather, God desires something more:  our obedience.  All the sacrifices and offerings mean nothing if they come from a heart that does not desire the will of God.

At the same time, Psalm 40:6-8 goes deeper than mere a hyperbole.  The author of Hebrews saw a deep significance in these verses (c.f. Hebrews 10:1-10).  God’s plan was never for his people to endlessly redeem themselves through the sacrifices and offering of animals.  Rather, God planned the ultimate once-and-for-all sacrifice, namely Himself!  Because of the sacrifice of Jesus, we don’t need constant sacrifices to be cleansed and to be able to come to God.  We don’t earn God’s approval and love through sacrifices.  Rather, our sacrifices and offerings are a response to God’s approval and love!

If the cost of following Jesus seems too much to bear, it might indicate that we have not fully understood God’s love for us.  When we understand God’s sacrificial love, then we will desire to respond with sacrificial love and obedience.  Let us pray that we would know more of God’s love for us.

Prayer: Father, I thank You for Your sacrificial love for me.  When I think about how You paid the highest price, I am ashamed that I am sometimes so begrudgingly obedient.  Write Your will and desire upon my heart.  I want to follow You with all of my heart and mind.  In Jesus’s name, I pray.  Amen.

Bible Reading for Today: Romans 15


Lunch Break Study

Read 1 Samuel 13:5-14: The Philistines assembled to fight Israel, with three thousand chariots, six thousand charioteers, and soldiers as numerous as the sand on the seashore. They went up and camped at Micmash, east of Beth Aven. 6 When the men of Israel saw that their situation was critical and that their army was hard pressed, they hid in caves and thickets, among the rocks, and in pits and cisterns. 7 Some Hebrews even crossed the Jordan to the land of Gad and Gilead. Saul remained at Gilgal, and all the troops with him were quaking with fear. 8 He waited seven days, the time set by Samuel; but Samuel did not come to Gilgal, and Saul’s men began to scatter. 9 So he said, “Bring me the burnt offering and the fellowship offerings.” And Saul offered up the burnt offering. 10 Just as he finished making the offering, Samuel arrived, and Saul went out to greet him. 11 “What have you done?” asked Samuel.

Saul replied, “When I saw that the men were scattering, and that you did not come at the set time, and that the Philistines were assembling at Micmash, 12 I thought, ‘Now the Philistines will come down against me at Gilgal, and I have not sought the Lord’s favor.’ So I felt compelled to offer the burnt offering.”  13 “You acted foolishly,” Samuel said. “You have not kept the command the Lord your God gave you; if you had, he would have established your kingdom over Israel for all time. 14 But now your kingdom will not endure; the Lord has sought out a man after his own heart and appointed him leader of his people, because you have not kept the Lord’s command.”

Questions to Consider

  1. Summarize the events leading up to Saul’s sacrifice of a burnt offering in verse 9?
  2. Why did Samuel rebuke Saul (c.f. 1 Samuel 10:8)?
  3. Why was Saul’s worship rejected?  What would constitute right worship?

Let us consider the worship we offer to God.  Are we more interested in the form or the substance of the worship we offer?  No matter how flamboyant or seemingly passionate our worship, may be God does not receive glory if our worship is not motivated by a desire for obedience.  God is not interested in our religious activities, rather He desires a heart that desires his will above all things.  Let us seek first his Kingdom and his righteousness!

Notes

  1. After becoming the king, the first thing Saul (and his son Jonathan) did was to attack the Philistine outpost at Geba with three thousand men.  In response, the Philistines gathered a much larger army than the Israelites (“three thousand chariots, six thousand charioteers, and soldiers as numerous as the sand on the seashore”), which caused the Israelite soldiers to scatter in fear.  Saul remained in Gilgal waiting for Samuel, who was the most visible support for his authority as king, but when he didn’t arrive after seven days, Saul took it upon himself to offer a sacrifice to God.
  2. The problem here is not that Saul usurped Samuel’s role in offering a sacrifice but rather that Saul did not fully obey the instructions of God that he had received through Samuel.  Instead of giving God worship in obedience, Saul was more interested in a burnt offering that would seem to validate his authority as king and give his men hope.
  3. In the full context of 1 Samuel 13, we see that Saul’s motivation for offering a burnt offering was not obedience but fear.  Saul’s men began to desert him in the face of the massive Philistine opposition.  As a relatively new king, it appears that Saul allowed his insecurity to drive him in giving the burnt offering.  When our worship is inspired by the fear of men instead of God (i.e. reverential awe that desires his will above all things), then our worship does not give glory to God even when it obeys all the forms.

Evening Reflection

Are you living a life of obedient sacrifice and offering?  As we journal, let us reflect upon today’s activities.  Did we give God obedience?  Are our religious activities motivated by a desire to give God glory or by other things?

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