Friday, October 14, 2016, 10:11 p.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “For Our Nation.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Psalm 50:7-15, 23 (ESV).
Is God Pleased? (vv. 7-13)
“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.
“If I were hungry, I would not tell you,
for the world and its fullness are mine.
Do I eat the flesh of bulls
or drink the blood of goats?”
What is our idea of what we believe is acceptable worship of God? If someone were to ask us if we believe God is pleased with us, or with our worship of him, what would we say? And then, if they asked us why we believe that is true, what would then be our response? In other words, on what basis do we place that belief? What is it about our lives or our worship of God that we think brings him pleasure?
Do we regularly attend Sunday morning worship services in a building called “church,” which is governed by a particular church denomination? Do we sing the worship songs, and listen intently as the preacher preaches, and put some money in the offering plate, and shake hands with people during greeting time? Do we serve in some official position within this church, such as deacon, elder, Sunday school teacher, small group leader, or are we on the worship team or the social committee? Or, do we help with church bazars and community outreach? Does God find pleasure in all of these?
What would you think if I told you that you could do all these things, and that God would still not be pleased with you and your worship of him? Would you believe me? Why or why not? Do you believe this (the above) is truly what God requires or desires of us? Or, do you think maybe there is something more to worship of God than just this? Or, in place of this?
The point of what the psalmist is writing about here is that we can do all kinds of good things, or seemingly good things for God, and even in obedience to what we believe are the commands of God for our lives, and still not be offering a sacrifice to God acceptable to him. So, why is that true? It is because there is a difference between doing FOR God what we think is pleasing to him, but on our own terms, and according to our own schedule and ways, and that of living holy lives, pleasing to God, which is our reasonable service of worship of him (See: Ro. 12:1-2).
For instance, do we believe that God is pleased with us participating in service and worship with the institutional church, i.e. the church under the authority of the US government (in the USA) and church denominations? This is a question we all have to answer between us and God, but let me share some thoughts here with you on this subject.
The church is not an institution of men, nor is it a corporation under any federal government of any nation, nor is it a business of human making to be marketed just like any other business. It is a living organism made up of people who have put their faith and trust in Jesus Christ to be Lord and Savior of their lives, and with Christ Jesus as her head. We, the people of God, are his church. So, if the church willingly brings itself under another head, other than Christ, it is living in spiritual adultery against God, for Christ is to be her only head. Also, by the church incorporating as a business under the federal government, she has become a state church, which is not to be confused with the body of Christ, which is a spiritual entity. We serve a jealous God who will not give his glory to another, so it is not God’s will that we should have any head other than Christ himself.
As well, much of today’s institutional church has also gone the way of the world, and they are replacing the teachings of Christ with the teachings of men, and they are using the flesh of men to allure people to their meetings, and they use gimmicks and tricks and manipulations to keep people coming back for more. Entertainment has replaced true worship, and books written by mere men are replacing the Word of God. Feel-good messages are taking the place of Spirit-filled, God-inspired messages which confront sin in sinful humans, which call for repentance, and which teach obedience to Christ and to his commandments (his instructions to us). With this, God is not pleased. So, he is calling his body, his followers, to come out from her (Babylon), so that we do not share in her sins and in her punishment, for her sins are piled high to heaven, and God has remembered her iniquities (See: Rev. 18).
Perform Your Vows (vv. 14-15, 23)
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 one who offers thanksgiving as his sacrifice glorifies me;
to one who orders his way rightly
I will show the salvation of God!”
So, with what is God pleased? We read in Romans 12 that, in light of what Jesus Christ did for us in dying on a cross for our sins, so that we could be set free from sin, that we should offer ourselves to God as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to him. We should no longer conform to the ways of this sinful world, but we must be transformed in heart and mind of the Spirit of God away from living for sin and self, and to walking in the Spirit in Christ’s righteousness and holiness. Then, by our lifestyles we can demonstrate what is the good, pleasing and acceptable will of God for our lives.
We read, as well, in other scriptures, that Jesus died for us on a cross, not just so we could escape hell and have the hope of heaven when we die, but that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. He died that we might no longer live for ourselves, but for him who gave his life up for us. His grace to us is not a free license to continue in sin without guilt and without remorse. His grace, which brings salvation, teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives while we wait for Christ’s return. As well, if we say we have fellowship with God, but we continue to walk (conduct our lives) in darkness (sin), then he says we are liars, and the truth is not in us. And, if we walk according to the flesh, we will die (without Christ), but if by the Spirit we are putting to death the deeds of the flesh, we will live (with Christ for eternity).
So, if we are truly thankful for Jesus’ blood sacrifice for our sins, then it should be evident by how we live our lives. A sacrifice of thanksgiving, in other words, is not just words we say, but it is actions. If we submit our lives to our Lord in full surrender to his will for our lives, and daily we die to sin and self and we follow (obey) our Lord wherever he leads us, then this, too, is a sacrifice of thanksgiving for all that he has done for us in setting us free from slavery to sin.
So, when we believe in Jesus Christ to be Lord and Savior of our lives, do we take any vows? If so, what vows to God must we perform? I believe that faith, itself, is a vow to God/Jesus Christ of fidelity and faithfulness to walk in his holiness and righteousness and to no longer conduct our lives according to our sinful flesh. For, when we believe in Jesus, we are crucified with Christ in death to sin, and we are resurrected with Christ to newness of life, “created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness” (Eph. 4:24). Our lives are no longer our own, to be lived how we want, for we were bought back for God with the blood of Jesus Christ, shed on a cross for our sins. We, thus, have an obligation, but it is not to the sinful nature, to live according to it, but it is to putting to death, by the Spirit, the misdeeds of the body so that we might live with Christ for eternity.
So, when trouble comes, we can call upon God in purity of heart and mind, and he will deliver us, not necessarily out from under the trial, but through the trial we will learn to put our faith and trust in him and to rest in him even more. And, as a result of what he does in our lives, in maturing us through our times of difficulty, the changes he produces in our lives, through our suffering, will bring glory, honor and praise to God. Amen!
For Our Nation / An Original Work / September 11, 2012
Bombs are bursting. Night is falling.
Jesus Christ is gently calling
You to follow Him in all ways.
Trust Him with your life today.
Make Him your Lord and your Savior.
Turn from your sin. Follow Jesus.
He will forgive you of your sin;
Cleanse your heart, made new within.
Men betraying: Our trust fraying.
On our knees to God we’re praying,
Seeking God to give us answers
That are only found in Him.
God is sovereign over all things.
Nothing from His mind escaping.
He has all things under His command,
And will work all for good.
Jesus Christ is gently calling
You to follow Him in all ways.
Men deceiving: we’re believing
In our Lord, and interceding
For our nation and its people
To obey their God today.
He is our hope for our future.
For our wounds He offers suture.
He is all we need for this life.
Trust Him with your life today.