Thankful Response (Psalm 40:8)



God has done wonderful works for us that are beyond number.  As humans, we cannot remember all that he has done and understandably, there have been many occasions when God was working in our lives and we did not recognize him or his handy work.  Because God has done these many works for us, what does he expect from us?  

Sacrifice and offering thou didst not desire; mine ears hast thou opened: burnt offering and sin offering hast thou not required. (Psalms 40:6)

According to this passage, it isn’t sacrifice and offering.  Wait!  Why not?  Didn’t God institute both of them?  Didn’t he inspire an entire book of the bible on the various types of offerings and how to prepare and offer them?  If so, then why isn’t that what he wants?

Sacrifice and offerings may be what we need, but they aren’t what God wants.  Sacrifice and offerings are external actions that can be performed by anyone, but God is more concerned about what is on the inside.  Just as he chose a king for Israel based on what was within man, God is also concerned about what is within us.

I delight to do thy will, O my God: yea, thy law is within my heart. (Psalms 40:8)

God wants a heart condition.  He wants us to be willing to do his will and to carry his law in our hearts.  If we focus on the outside, we become no different than the Pharisees.  As Jesus said, we do nothing more than clean the outside of the cup.  If we focus on the inside, the heart becomes yielded and sensitive to God.  Once the inside is right, the outside will take care of itself.

Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting. (Psalms 139:23-24)

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Should You Change Your Mind (John 19:15)

Have you ever changed your mind? Of course you have and we all have on countless occasions, but what made us change our minds. Sometimes our minds were changed because we saw another option from which we could choose. Other times we changed our minds because we understood the problem more clearly and saw that our choice was wrong.

There is one group of people who changed their minds that has always puzzled me. On one day, those in Jerusalem lauded Jesus Christ with praise and within a week they were shouting Crucify him! Crucify him!

On the next day much people that were come to the feast, when they heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem, Took branches of palm trees, and went forth to meet him, and cried, Hosanna: Blessed is the King of Israel that cometh in the name of the Lord…….But they cried out, Away with him, away with him, crucify him. Pilate saith unto them, Shall I crucify your King? The chief priests answered, We have no king but Caesar. (John 12:12-13; 19:15)

Why did they change their minds? Did they find another King? Did they more clearly see their condition and recognize that their choice was wrong? Some may say yes, but I believe that they changed their minds for another reason.

Israel was more concerned about what they could get from Jesus than they were about getting the person of Jesus. They wanted fed, healed, and delivered from the Romans, but God desired that they would want him, his fellowship, and his comfort. As soon as they recognized that Jesus was not going to be the person who would crush the Roman Empire and remove the oppression that had been put upon them, they rejected him. This happened because they focused on what they were getting from Jesus instead of focusing on Jesus, the person.

Before we point the guilty finger at Israel, we must stop and perform a personal inventory of ourselves. More often than we may share to admit, we too focus our concerns on what Jesus can give or do for us, instead of him as a person and the relationship that he wants to have with us. We are more concerned about what we can get from God instead of getting God. We more so appreciate the blessings we receive instead of the blessed one. It is the same as caring more about your house than you do for your home. It is similar to being more grateful for milk than you are for the cow.

Are you guilty of this? Look at the prayers that you pray. How much time do you spend requesting things or actions from God in comparison to seeking his face or asking to know him better. The Apostle a Paul set the perfect example for us when he wrote, “That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death.” (Philippians 3:10)

You like the majority of us, may need to change your mind back to how it was when you first came to Christ. It seems that back then, everything was about Jesus: who he is and how knowing him made even the most dreadful life enjoyable. We need to get back to that.

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Not My Will (Mark 14:35-36)

After the last supper, Jesus went to the garden of Gathsemane to pray. He knew his time had come and that what had been planned before the foundation of the Earth was going to come to pass. He, with full understanding, knew exactly how he would experience the wrath of God the Father and that much more awaited him besides a cruel crucifixion. As he entered into this experience, Jesus revealed something very important to us about trials, suffering and the will of God. Jesus asked the father to allow this cup to pass before him: in other words, he was asking the Father that if there was any other way to accomplish the task at had, that he would do it instead of having him suffer under the holy hand of punishment. However, he closed his request with words of submission to the Father’s will.

And he went forward a little, and fell on the ground, and prayed that, if it were possible, the hour might pass from him. And he said, Abba, Father, all things are possible unto thee; take away this cup from me: nevertheless not what I will, but what thou wilt. (Mark 14:35-36)

Many may convey that the proper response for trials is cheerful submission to The Lord with gleeful praise for his sovereignty. However if we just would be honest with ourselves, we know that we never respond to trials that way. We usually struggle with the negative experience, question why it is occurring, and struggle in our soul yet finally believe that God is good and has allowed this for his glory and our good. But what we have learned from Jesus is that it is alright to request that God remove the trial circumstances from our lives. We do not need to pretend that we enjoy what he is doing and can express our fears and desires. However, what we must eventually do, is submit to the Father. Our prayers may open an unexpected opportunity that may remove us from the trial or they may not. In either case, we must submit ourselves to the Father and his plan. It may not be easy to do and the process may take a bit of time. Allow yourself that time to pray and sort out the matter before God. In the end, you will be submitting yourself to him and not to a standard of obedience that has be taught or preached to you. God wants your heart to submit to him and not a standard. Your salvation is personal and he wants your relationship with him to be personal as well. Pray your way through and his grace will lead you to submission.

If you would like to read more of these thoughts in a hard copy format, my new book is now available at the link below.

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My Personal Decree From Proverbs 15

I will speak softly when others are angry. (Proverbs 15:1, 4, 7, 18, 23)

I will use my words to make things better. (Proverbs 15:2, 23, 26, 30)

I will have a right attitude towards being corrected. (Proverbs 15:5, 10, 12, 31-32)

I will share my heart with God. (Proverbs 15:8, 29)

I will run from the wrong and towards the right. (Proverbs 15:9)

I will allow God to use sorrow to change my heart. (Proverbs 15:13)

I will focus on developing a right heart instead of what I can gain. (Proverbs 15:25, 27, 21)

I will seek advice for achieving goals. (Proverbs 15:22)

I will seek to be humble so that God may establish me. (Proverbs 15:25, 33)