Bible Reference: Psalm 51:16-17
Translation: New Century Version (NCV)
Bible Text: 16 You are not pleased by sacrifices, or I would give them. You don’t want burnt offerings.
17 The sacrifice God wants is a broken spirit.
God, you will not reject a heart that is broken and sorry for sin.
OBSERVATION: Throughout the Old Testament we see where there were sacrifices for almost any sin committed, and there were even some for praises to God. As we meditate on these verses today I hope that we will concentrate on those things that are a part of our relationship with God that may be considered ‘sacrifices’.
APPLICATION: I believe that a good explanation for the act of sacrificing might be when we offer up something as payment for an action performed by us that may not meet the requirements of the person, or God, who sets the rules. Another meaning might be that we are willing to give up something we love very much, so that someone else could benefit from that thing we are willing to give up. So let me mention a few things that I believe we ‘sacrifice’ in place of something near and dear to us: 1). Some may go to church to please someone bugging them to attend church. So they sacrifice time and go through the motions in order to make that person happy, or at least get them off their back! 2). Some may give to the church, or even to the work of God. So they may sacrifice monetarily with hopes that God might credit them for giving to His causes; 3). Some may ‘send’ missionaries to foreign countries. So they sacrifice monetarily, and give time in prayer for them so that the Great Commission (go ye into all the world and preach the Gospel) might be fulfilled. These are just examples of sacrifices that mankind makes, and in most cases these are fellow Christians. I also believe that in all the examples given, these sacrifices might be noble, and even recognized by God, if done in the spirit of sacrifice and holiness. But in the Psalm we are meditating on, David shares what he found to be noble and trustworthy in a life that is truly after pleasing God. In verse 17 David shared that we must have a broken spirit in order to arrive at the very depth of our heart. I believe this means that we must be at a state where we are willing to let go and let God have His will and way in our lives. But I believe a warning may come with that. For God may remind us of His many blessings and we may get up and attend church without being asked to, or regardless of the way someone looked at us last year when we attended! It may help us to openly declare that since God has blessed us with a good job and a fair income, we will be obedient to His Word and give at least 10% of our gross income, in thanksgiving for His goodness and out of an act of true obedience! We may decide to actually join a missions trip, instead of sending others! Our spirit might become one that is pliable by God. Friends, I believe it is only then that we will be open to hearing God’s voice and obedient to His commands – pleasing to Him. Are you willing to make this kind of sacrifice for the God who sacrificed His very own Son for us? Isn’t this the least that we could do?
PRAYER: Spirit of God, please descend upon us, Your children, and have Your perfect will and way in our lives today. Please direct our hearts and our minds towards Jesus, and may we be willing to sacrifice self, and become fully obedient to Your perfect will for our lives. Lord, our hearts are broken and desirous of everything You might require of us. Please use us in ways that will bring honor and glory to You oh Lord, our Rock and our Redeemer! AMEN!
Bible Reference: Psalm 51:1-4
Translation: The Voice (VOICE)
Bible Text: 1 Look on me with a heart of mercy, O God,
according to Your generous love.
According to Your great compassion,
wipe out every consequence of my shameful crimes.
2 Thoroughly wash me, inside and out, of all my crooked deeds.
Cleanse me from my sins.
3 For I am fully aware of all I have done wrong,
and my guilt is there, staring me in the face.
4 It was against You, only You, that I sinned,
for I have done what You say is wrong, right before Your eyes…..
OBSERVATION: David – a warrior; a king; a woman’s man; a brave leader; yet he saw the need for rightness with God, and therefore confessed his sin, as he prepared to ask for God’s forgiveness. This is a great example for us today, as it teaches us the steps towards oneness with the eternal God. General confession might result in general forgiveness, but will you feel release from the guilt of a specific sin that was ultimately against God? Why not take a few moments to meditate with me on this Scripture today?
APPLICATION: In John 3:6 we are told that humans give birth to humans, but God gives birth to eternal life. David confessed that he was a sinner from birth, and I can boldly remind each of you that you and I are in the same position. This means that God will challenge us to make amends with Him and do exactly like David, confess our sin before Him. In David’s position, he owed no explanation to any man for his actions, however God sent His messenger to David to remind him that there is One who he is answerable to. Friends, let us be reminded that those deep dark secrets (sins) that may keep us up at night, are still blocking God’s view and His awesome touch on our lives. He longs to see the air cleared between us and our pure, holy God. You may have all the reasons in the world that caused you to sin, but please always remember what David said in these verses today – that sin is against God and God alone. Yes, fellow humans may have been hurt or disappointed in you for some sin, but the sin separates you from God and therefore breaks that awesome relationship you could really have with Him. Just as Nathan challenged David, may I challenge you to consider the sin that may be interfering with your relationship with the Master of this Universe – the only One that will love you unconditionally right to the end? God loved us from the time we were born, but we put roadblocks in the way of that love through our sin and disregard of our Savior. It’s time to clear that up my friend, why not get before God in prayer today and say like David – please wash me of my sin; create a right spirit in me; and restore the joy of my salvation, so that I may once again be one in spirit, love and communion with my Savior?
PRAYER: Dear Jesus, I am reminded that, for as long as I remain in this world I will be tempted by Satan and often led to sin against You. Please help me to daily reconcile my weakness and my sin before You so that I may be one with You. Please create within me a clean heart and an upright spirit, so that I may live according to Your commands and in the light of Your precious Word. Thank You precious Lord for loving even me, and caring for this child of the King. Many who will read this devotional will be brothers and sisters in the Lord. Please deal mercifully in their hearts I pray. AMEN!
Bible Reference: Luke 14:34-35
Translation: The Passion Translation (TPT)
Bible Text: 34 “Salt is good for seasoning. But if salt were to lose its flavor, how could it ever be restored? 35 It will never be useful again, not even fit for the soil or the manure pile! If you have ears opened by the Spirit, then hear the meaning of what I have said and apply it to yourselves.”
OBSERVATION: I’m just a humble nobody, so how might I possible have an impact on anyone? I’m sure that may be the response of some when they read the title of today’s devotional, and they may even skip over this and move to another devotional that sounds more applicable to them. But the words shared in the above verses were actually spoken to fishermen; tax collectors (cheaters); and ordinary sons of ordinary men – Jesus’ disciples. Because God saw fit to include this challenge in His Word, then I believe He wants us to consider the same analogy. Meditate with me as we explore this.
APPLICATION: For the person who loves salt in their food while it is cooked, they can’t stand it when a health-conscious person decides to share with them a meal cooked their way – without salt. Most of you have probably already answered ‘disgusting’; ‘awful’; ‘tasteless’; or something similar. In our Scripture today, Jesus had just shared important qualities that he wanted His disciples to know, and to reflect in their lives each day. Jesus ended that dialogue by comparing their impact on the world, to the value of salt in its seasoning effectiveness. In pondering what Jesus might be saying to me on this subject, I believe He made me keenly aware that each of us have an impact on others in some way, and that depends on what type of person we have chosen to be and what things in life impact our lives. Think about it friends, when you walk away from Tom, what are your thoughts? You wish you were as kind hearted and loving as he came across in his dialogue with you? Or was he obnoxious, mean spirited, and a know-it-all that you couldn’t wait to leave his company? What about Susie, perhaps she was warm, caring and showed lots of interest in how you were doing? Perhaps she never once complained about someone else during the whole time you were together? I know, you come across a certain number of each character type in your typical day, but why should that bother you when asked about your day? Don’t miss the point my friend, in the same way that you walked away from Tom and Susie with your own impressions of them, and perhaps you swore to yourself that you would not spend a lot of time around at least one of them, that’s also the way that others are impacted by you. You say that you are a Christian, but do your friends experience Christ-like qualities while you are around them? You may ask, why should you act any special way around them, and I would encourage you to consider that what you do at home and around close family, that will you do when you’re at work, in a mall or anywhere else. Friends, if Jesus lives inside of you, and you are reminded from His Word daily about His qualities and His character, then I believe that you will reflect on that while you interact with others, because you will want to be just like Him at all times. Conversely, if you find yourself being mean spirited and ugly with people, then quickly analyze your relationship with the Lord. Is that an indication that you need more quiet time with Him – perhaps meditating on His Word, and praying for others, and for your character, so that you would reflect His image in all that you say and do? May God open your eyes today to know how you are doing with others, and especially how you are doing with Him. Just as salt is a valuable addition to our food, may you add value to the relationships in which you are a part, because of Jesus!
PRAYER: Take my life and let it be, consecrated Lord to thee. Take my hands and use them, take my feet and make them move in a direction led by You. Take my lips and let them speak kind and loving words, just as You do for me when I need them most. People need the Lord. Oh that they may see Jesus and experience His likeness in their interactions with me. May today’s Scripture, and my humble thoughts inspire my readers to love You more today, and desire a deeper walk with You, so that through their lives You may impact everyone they come into contact with. Go being our help, our strength and our director. AMEN!
Bible Reference: Joshua 7:10-12
Translation: The Voice (VOICE)
Bible Text: 10 Get up. What are you doing in the dirt? 11 There’s a simple explanation: Israel has sinned. They have lied and have violated the covenant I gave them by stealing some of the property that should have been destroyed along with the rest of Jericho and by hiding it among their own belongings.
12 That is why the Israelites can no longer resist their enemies. They run from their foes because they are under a curse and doomed to destruction. I will not be with you or fight for you unless these things devoted to destruction are truly destroyed.
OBSERVATION: The Israelites had the task of taking over town after town, that existed on all the land given to them by God, and they had been very successful with Jericho. However, in their attempt with Ai, they encountered some loss of life. For God was not willing to go on blessing them while there was sin in their camp. Because of one man’s sin, others loss their lives, while thousands upon thousands suffered because of the withdrawal of God’s hand of blessing. I wonder, has God’s hand of blessing upon our families, our churches, our cities and our country been impacted because of the sin or one reading this devotional today?
APPLICATION: There seems to be increased tolerance by people and churches to accept almost any condition of society, so that we can fit into their view of what Christ’s church should look like. Fortunately for some countries, including my country, churches are not yet being forced by government to accept certain societal groups who may have beliefs that differ to our interpretation of the Bible’s standards and teachings. However, putting all this aside, I was keenly aware, and reminded, of the importance that God places on obeying Him and honoring His Word. In our story, one man decided that it was OK for him to withhold some of the loot from their raid of Jericho, which was in direct disobedience of God’s instructions. Because of this, God withdrew His power (His blessings) on their (the Israelites) next raid, as they tried to take over Ai. I believe the main takeaway for us in this passage today is that God will not bless sin. He will not bless where sin abides. He will not bless where people, or even a single person decides, apart from God, that it’s OK for them to do their own thing. Please know that this has nothing to do with creativity, for God created us to be creative and think for ourselves, however when He sets boundaries for us, and when He establishes rules and commandments for us, it’s for our own good, our own protection, and for His glory. I believe that God has designed us to be like Him, and I believe that He established guardrails to help us live, work, love, and act more like Him while here on this earth. Friends, if others never recognize Jesus in us, do you really feel like you are honestly being led/guided by Him and living according to His will and purpose? God will not tolerate sin, and since He is the same God who did not tolerate the sin of Achan (the man in our story), I have every reason to believe that He will withdraw His blessing on us when sin abides within. Will you intentionally deny the blessing of God on others because of your selfish desires and stubborn will? I pray that is not the case with any reading this devotional today.
PRAYER: Oh Lord my God, when I in awesome wonder, consider all the many blessings that You bestow on my family, my church, my city, my state and my country, please, please, please give me strength each day to faithfully honor You, for You alone are worthy of my honor, my obedience and my praise. Because of my son-ship, please help me to always desire and aim to live a sinless life because of a deep desire to please You. Please help me to never forget that in order to receive Your rich blessings poured out daily on myself and those I love and associate with, I must do my part in honoring You and my commitment to be Your follower. Oh that we may live like You today, is my deepest desire today oh Lord. AMEN!
Bible Reference: Joshua 4:5-7
Translation: The Voice (VOICE)
Bible Text: Go back into the Jordan riverbed to the covenant chest of the Eternal your God, and each carry a stone upon your shoulder, (twelve stones for the twelve tribes of the Israelites) 6 so that we may build a memorial of this day. Someday when your children ask you, “Why are these stones piled up here?” 7 you will tell them how the waters of the Jordan parted as the covenant chest of the Eternal One crossed the river, and these stones will fix that memory for the Israelites forever.
OBSERVATION: Most children will hear the word ‘Memorial’ used more in connection with a ‘Memorial’ service for a relative or family friend who died, and yes, we could glorify God in services like that. But how often do we build a memorial when there is a miraculous move of God in our community, or in the life of our church, so that we might be reminded of the power of God at a point in time? A few years ago our church celebrated a milestone – it’s 45th anniversary, and we learned from our founding pastor how miraculous God worked in providing for the beginnings of what is now an awesome church that is reaching hundreds of people every week. Meditate with me today as we consider God’s awesome work in our midst, and how we might erect a memorial to remind us and our future generations of the power of God!
APPLICATION: It is challenging to erect a memorial without giving a person praise for accomplishing, leading or directing the work we recognize as an awesome achievement. However, our Scripture today displays the awesome work of God, and God alone. Yes, individuals were a part of the work, but only as humble, obedient servants of the great High Priest. But I believe that God is drawing us to consider the awesome works He has done in our own lives, and in the life of our church and ourcommunity. Without a doubt, you are probably digging deeply into the archives of your memory trying to evaluate what sorts of things I might be talking about. Friends, when something occurred that you prayed for, and felt compelled by God to participate in, and it overcame multiple worldly obstacles, then I believe it is time to recognize that as God’s almighty hand at work. Did you ever feel so compelled somewhere along in the project to take your shoes off, because you knew that you must be walking on holy ground, for the power of God was so evident? A spot in time, a location, where you could only attribute the moment and/or the location to the miraculous works of God? A time where you felt so overwhelmed by the presence of God, and His direction to move forward, that you knew without a doubt that you were standing in His presence and experiencing His mighty works? May I suggest that God surely did not do that just for you, even though I believe that each of us are very special in God’s eyes and heart, but I want to suggest that you follow the story of Moses and Joshua and be reminded of how God was glorified because of His great works. Friends, it’s all about God and nothing to be accredited to self. However, notice that Joshua did not stand and beat on his chest about all that he had done, instead he built a memorial at the point where the miraculous hand of God shone forth, and at the point where the Israelites were able to look back in awesome wonder at all God had done for them – yes, a humble people who didn’t leave Egypt as princes and princesses, but as slaves. The memorials were erected so that future generations that would ask about them, would hear about the awesome work of God Almighty. What type of memorials do we have to go back on and celebrate God’s awesome work? What might cause our children to question our faith, or how God moved in our day?
PRAYER: Dear Jesus, thank You for working miraculously in my life each and every day! Thank You for touching the hearts and lives of my readers! Lord, we are thankful for Your mighty works in the lives of our ancestors – how you brought them through floods, and through rivers of waters, and won battles for them against armies multiple times their size. You brought the dead back to life, the blind to see and the deaf to hear. Why, in my life I have seen You work miraculously and I love to share of those experiences. Please help us to be sure and pass these miraculous works along to our future generations, for while they would appreciate hearing about Moses, Joshua, Noah, Peter and others, I believe their hearts would be renewed in You, if they could hear of how you worked, and are working, in the lives of believers today. Perhaps a memorial erected as a reminded of Your great works, might invoke others to ask, and give us more opportunities to share of Your goodness! Oh Lord, You are so good! AMEN!