Psa. 50:7 “Hear, O my people, and I will speak,
O Israel, I will testify against you.
I am God, your God.
8 Not for your sacrifices do I rebuke you;
your burnt offerings are continually before me.
9 I will not accept a bull from your house,
or goats from your folds.
10 For every wild animal of the forest is mine,
the cattle on a thousand hills.
11 I know all the birds of the air,
and all that moves in the field is mine.
Psa. 50:12 “If I were hungry, I would not tell you,
for the world and all that is in it is mine.
13 Do I eat the flesh of bulls,
or drink the blood of goats?
14 Offer to God a sacrifice of thanksgiving,
and pay your vows to the Most High.
15 Call on me in the day of trouble;
I will deliver you, and you shall glorify me.”
The people of God were following the letter of the law when it came to sacrifices. They were going through the formality of the burnt offerings. Outwardly they were doing the right thing but their hearts were not in it and this was the problem. God didn’t need their bulls or their goats — he already owned them all! This wasn’t about giving God something that he needed, this was about the authenticity of the peoples’ offering. Looking upon the hearts of the people God wanted them to live authentic lives of thanksgiving. Out of the gratitude of their hearts they were to give back to God. In this way they were to pay their vows and to call upon God in the times of trouble.
Somehow I was struck by God’s response in this passage today. It’s pretty obvious that God doesn’t need our stuff. He already owns the cattle on a thousand hills so our one sacrifice isn’t because he needs another cow. Our personal offerings aren’t made because God needs more money. The sacrifices we make in serving God are not because God can’t figure out how to get things done. The whole passage is about the genuine and authentic offerings of thanksgiving which are brought before God.
Participating in worship services is to be a thank offering before God. Our participation is to be genuine and authentic, coming from our hearts. Sadly, it seems that we have turned much of the worship experience into entertainment and then we shop for the entertainment which we like the best. I’m guessing God is saying — I don’t care about the entertainment — what I want is you! God wants our hearts and minds to be in a spirit of gratitude when we come before him.
In my own life I’ve discovered that my Sunday experience at church is greatly dependent upon my daily time in God’s presence. When I have been spending time with the Lord then Sundays simply become a time when I can actively engage in worshipping him in community. It really doesn’t matter the style of the worship service because it becomes all about God and not about me.
God doesn’t need our sacrifices — God just wants us. This is the authenticity that is required in our relationship with God who can see through all the smoke and mirrors. No matter how generous you may be, God still sees the heart and is saddened if we are not genuinely thankful for what has been done for us. The Psalmist encourages us to offer “a sacrifice of thanksgiving.” May this be the authentic cry of our hearts today.
Lord, search me, my heart, and my motives. May my offerings come from a heart of gratitude. Amen.
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