Thankfulness that leads to Sacrifice or Obedience?
Many times in God’s word it is mentioned “If we love God we will obey His commands.” Now is it a sacrifice to be obedient? I’d say most definitely not, Some missionaries have given their lives to share the gospel and David Livingstone upon his return from the mission-field said, “People talk of the sacrifice I have made but can that be called a sacrifice?” We are not only called, but COMMANDED to fulfill the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20) and by doing so maybe we are ‘sacrificing’ what our flesh wants, but like Jesus said Himself in John 6:63 “It is the Spirit who gives life, the flesh is of no help at all. The words that I have spoken to you are Spirit and life.” I am also reminded of the hindrance of walking in the flesh, “For although they knew God they did not honor Him as God or give thanks to Him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened, claiming to be wise they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things.” (Romans 1:21-23) in 1st John 5:3 we are reminded of what an expression of thankfulness is, Love, “For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments, and His commandments are not burdensome.” His commandments are worth following because by so doing we are responding to God in a way that is loving and respectful. He owns us, not part of us, but all, in the end I will give an account of how I lived my life to God. I even think of the sins I have committed lately, and I am amazed at the grace of God, that Jesus saw me in eternity past and said “I want that man in my family” That God wanted to adopt, to save a wretch LIKE ME. I am awestruck, because sometimes when I am wronged I don’t forgive in such a way that imitates the way Christ did. I know I am not perfect and I won’t be until glory, but that fact that God forgave me, before I ever sinned, though He had complete knowledge of all my sins from time I could sin, until my death, and He still chose to forgive me. Wow! That is Mega, Off the Charts, Crazy, Unconditional LOVE. He saw me as worth dying for, and for that I want to live and die in such a way that I express thankfulness to God. Oh how often my flesh gets in the way. I want to walk in the Spirit, to walk in the truth. It’s only out of a biblical worldview that I can see God correctly and respond correctly. How should I respond? With thanksgiving. When I am thankful, then I will be content and I will see the world how it really is. I cannot be content without thankfulness. Because thankfulness allows me to remember where God has brought me from and reminds me of His hand at work in my life. “By God’s grace I am what I am.” Now moving from obedience and thankfulness, we move to sacrifice. Now does God want my sacrifice? Psalm 51:16 “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 a contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.” In Amos 5:21-24 God is calling out the hypocrites am I one of them? Lord, If I am reveal it, I want to walk in step with you!! Check out the passage below
“I hate, I despise your feasts,
and I take no delight in your solemn assemblies.
Even though you offer me your burnt offerings and grain offerings,
I will not accept them;
and the peace offerings of your fattened animals,
I will not look upon them.
Take away from me the noise of your songs;
to the melody of your harps I will not listen.
But let justice roll down like waters,
and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.”
God doesn’t want our sacrifice, he wants to do an inward work in us, of renewal and regeneration. Titus 3:5 reminds us “he saved us, not because works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by His grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.” When you think of Amos 5, and you see God saying “I hate, I despise” you start to think, ‘He is gonna talk about sin of course.” but He starts to talk about outward celebration, in our outward works, that we think are making us righteous. I cannot gain righteousness in such a way to make it count for something. Because my righteousness is as filthy rags. The Lord is our Righteousness. God doesn’t hate solemn assemblies and feasts and worship of Himself. But the problem was their heart. Those things were just outward expressions of how we can approach Him. The reality is God wants our full attention, He wants all of us to be involved, He doesn’t want us to just go to church, He wants us to be the church. He doesn’t just want us to be sealed with the Holy Spirit, but He wants us to be filled with the Holy Spirit. But He wants it to come naturally. It can’t come naturally in the sense of it being from ourselves, because as Psalm 16:2 says, “I have no good apart from You.” But what God is trying to portray is that He wants “justice to roll down like waters and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.” Water rolls down, naturally, for that is what it was made to do. A stream flows constantly, but obstructions can block it off and cause it to dry up(Hebrews 12:1,2) He wants us to just walk with Him, hand-in-hand, like we were made to do. Made to know Him in Grace and Truth, you can’t have one without the other. Philippians 2:12b-13 “. . . ,work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you both to will and to work for His good pleasure.” God does the work it just takes an open and soft heart to receive the work God is doing. And He wants to do the work in us by His Spirit and through His Word. He wants us to walk naturally or to walk so close with Him that it seems natural or normal to love and obey God. They had lips that honored Him, but hearts that were far from Him. Does he have your heart? Does He have my heart? Now I’m not advocating TOTAL SURRENDER, to be saved, I’m not saying Lordship salvation is the way to go. Because the truth is I can say Jesus is Lord over every area of my life, but if that were true, wouldn’t I be perfect? Of course, there wouldn’t be anything else for Him to work on, but surrender is not just a one time, summer camp or revival decision, but it’s a daily decision to wake up and die to self, to follow after Christ, taking up our cross and to follow Him, it takes surrender of self to truly follow Him, but He aides us every step of the way. And it is only by His Grace that we are even sustained. Acts 17:24-25 “The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man, nor is he served by human hands, as though He needed anything, since He Himself gives to ALL mankind life and breath and everything.” Do we see that He needs to be our treasure? Do we see that He is alone deserving of it, because of what He DAILY gives us? He daily calls us to follow Him, but it’s not to an end that is death, but an end that is life. But the means to the end is also filled with life, though in the life given there is pain, no doubt, but we can have joy and laughter in the midst of the pain, because of the Love of God poured into our hearts. But how is this love poured into our hearts? It is poured into the children of God, by the Spirit of God, but How do we play a part in that? By willingness, the reason why we may not experience God’s work in us is that we are filled with pride. We don’t get to experience God’s grace because we are filled with such a pride and believe we have the knowledge to conduct our lives in a satisfying manner apart from Him, but anything apart from God is vanity. We need to see Him as He is. All-sufficient and beautiful! Jesus you are so worth treasuring. And the treasure of who you are is displayed in your Word, your creation, and your saints. God let me never lose sight of who you are, but to always be CAPTIVATED BY YOU! Not what you can give! But Just who You are!!! You are my portion Lord. Whom Have I but You! You are better!! Far Better than the world!!