Just right

Sacrifices and offerings are not what please you; gifts and payment for sin are not what you demand. But you made me willing to listen and obey. And so, I said, “I am here to do what is written about me in the book, where it says, ’I enjoy pleasing you. Your Law is in my heart.’” (Psalm 40:6-8 CEV)

In the Old Testament, sacrifices and offerings were expected. The people would bring lambs, goats, bulls, and even birds or grains to the temple to offer to God. These would be prepared in a particular manner and either consumed on the altar, or parts of the offering would be consumed on the altar, and the remainder would be enjoyed by the priests who served in the temple. Jesus declared this "form" of worship no longer necessary when he offered himself as the "perfect sacrifice" for our sins. Yet, in our worship today, we often find we are still all actively trying to bring some "gift or payment" for sin, thinking God "demands" this of US. We have the illusion that our sins can be "covered over" by something we do or bring to God. 

Nothing we bring to God in the way of "good works" could ever encompass the demands of the cross. We can do our very best and still fall short of being able to live a sinless life. Our "best" is still not "good enough". This is exactly what has become the stumbling block upon which so many who call themselves "Christian" today find themselves tripping over. As long as we are relying upon what we can "bring" or "do", we will always be "bringing" or "doing" something far less than what is needed to find ourselves "forgiven", "grace-filled", and "restored". These are three "tasks" clearly outside of our ability to "do" or "bring" into our own lives! We think God "demands" something of us - but it is simply that we trust in the finished work of Christ on our behalf. That "perfect sacrifice" cannot be added to - we are simply asked to move from trying to "out-perform" what God has already done into the place where we accept his provision and walk in liberty because of it! God doesn't expect us to "do" this "salvation thing" on our own. He stepped in, provided the best and most perfect sacrifice, all so we could enjoy the beauty and majesty of celebrating in his presence. He made a way for our permanent experience of his presence - all through the work of grace.

That doesn't mean any of us is off the hook when it comes to the way we choose to live our lives after we say "yes" to Jesus. We turn away from living in a way which in not pleasing to God and we turn into his open arms. It is impossible for us to live on our own in grace. Most of us will constantly try to add to grace in some manner. This is how silly we are - for grace is perfect all by itself - nothing can be added to grace! What God does for us is help us to turn our ears toward his voice - learning to listen for his direction in our lives. Then he gives us the "want to" and the ability to do as he requests or requires. Obedience is our response to his grace, but even obedience is mostly his "doing" in our lives! A transition of heart is all God is really after - he will work on the rest in the course of time. Wherever it is we direct our heart (mind, will, and emotions), we begin to spend time. Time yields a greater understanding of the one we spend time with. In turn, this deeper understanding begins to bring a closeness which is hard to break. God is helping us lay down our desire to be "doing" stuff to "be made right with him" and settle into what he has "done" in our lives already. Before long, we find ourselves responding as we should because obedience is the outcome of being in his presence and his presence being in us!

So, instead of trying to bring "just the right" sacrifice for God, why not start trusting him to bring the right amount of grace into our hearts which will help us connect with him on a deeper level than ever before? Just askin!


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