I have seen many people buying gift cards for people just because they felt that they had to do it. They didn’t want to buy the gift cards. Some were very blunt about it. They were doing it because “it’s what you do” or because “the other person was getting them something” which meant to them that they had the “obligation” to do the same in return.
This verse speaks about meaningless gifts. The people were not giving gifts from the heart. The people were simply doing what was part of the ritual. When you think of it, the people were actually worshiping the ritual. It was all about the ritual, all about getting it accomplished. They were that far from God that this ritual was a routine to get done and nothing more.
God doesn’t want meaningless gifts. In fact, God doesn’t need your gifts. He doesn’t need your weekly tithe. He doesn’t need you to help your neighbor shovel. He doesn’t need anything from you. But He wants your heart. He loves you. He doesn’t want you to feel obligated to do something for Him, but if you love Him, you will want to do things for Him. You’ll want to serve, to help, to live your life with open hands. The gifts you present won’t be meaningless—they will be out of love. It will be a sweet aroma to God and He will be pleased. Not because you’re following a routine but because you’re pouring out love.
“Stop bringing me your meaningless gifts; the incense of your offerings disgusts me! As for your celebrations of the new moon and the Sabbath and your special days for fasting–they are all sinful and false. I want no more of your pious meetings.” – Isaiah 1:13 [NLT]
Have you ever begged for something? Perhaps when you were a child, you begged your parents for a trending toy. When you neared driving age, you begged to learn how to drive and then when you passed your test, you begged to borrow the family car. Have you ever begged God for something?
Some people beg God for selfish requests. We do not always see it as such, but when things are uncovered, it is very self-centered. We also beg for particular things like healing because we do not see God’s bigger plan. I know I’ve begged for my pain to go away, and yet my pain has taught me patience and humility. I am all the better because of my pain.
In today’s verse, we read that Jehoshaphat was terrified knowing that there was a large group approaching via the sea. He was afraid and he immediately turned his attention to God. He begged Him for guidance. Have you ever begged God for guidance? Have you ever wanted His guidance that bad? Have you ever approached Him with that humility?
“Jehoshaphat was terrified by this news and begged the LORD for guidance. He also ordered everyone in Judah to begin fasting.” – 2 Chronicles 20:3 [NLT]
When the Israelites were in the wilderness, there came a time when they wanted some meat. The Bible says that the people who were with them traveling “began to crave the good things of Egypt” and they joined in with this desire. They were slaves in Egypt. They were treated harshly in Egypt. Yet they shifted their focus from what they now had to what they lacked.
When you focus on what you do not have, you will find that you act very differently than you would with your focus aligned on God and His blessings. These “good things of Egypt” included nice food, but it also came with poor treatment in slavery. It also included living in a sinful area surrounded by people who did not follow God. The Israelites focused on what they lost—the little good that they had in Egypt—instead of looking at what they now had thanks to God.
We do this as well. Next time you find yourself complaining—next time you are grumbling in the wilderness—shift your focus. Remember what you have thanks to God.
“Then the foreign rabble who were traveling with the Israelites began to crave the good things of Egypt. And the people of Israel also began to complain. “Oh, for some meat!” they exclaimed.” – Numbers 11:4 [NLT]
“Desire without knowledge is not good– how much more will hasty feet miss the way!” – Proverbs 19:2 (NIV)
As I was walking my dog Max, I saw a dog ahead, limping across the street. The little terrier looked to be injured and as I approached the dog, I immediately began to plan what I would do to help this dog. My ten years of medical experience and my knowledge of animals would surely help me to assist this poor dog. When I got closer to the dog, she stopped and allowed me to check her out. I saw her tag mentioned an address just across the street. Then I flipped the tag around to see if there was a phone number, and there I read “handicapped.” The dog wasn’t injured, she was handicapped. There was no vehicular accident, no dog fight, no bad fall.
When I spoke to the owner of the dog, who said her dog is an escape artist, she told me that numerous people had captured the dog when it escaped previously and took it to a veterinarian to try to get help for its front leg that was deformed. Everyone saw it and immediately thought it was broken and went to get it assistance. She had numerous bills as a result.
Looks can be deceiving. From afar, I could see that dog was limping and I immediately jumped to the conclusion that she was hurt from a vehicle, another dog, or a fall. I never thought she would be handicapped though I have seen many handicapped dogs. Sometimes when we see things, our minds wander. We have such imaginations. As I mentioned, I was already planning a course of action before I knew what was wrong with the dog. I thought I was planning ahead to be prepared, and yet what I was preparing for was nonexistent.
We all are guilty of rushing to conclusions or responding before we know the facts. We are told to seek the truth, to have patience, and to use proper judgment, and yet sometimes we jump right in and find ourselves surprised when we realize the truth. I am only thankful when the truth is realized for there are times when people jump in and never do see the truth because their eyes are blinded.
Today as you will see many things, seek out the truth. Don’t immediately jump to conclusions. You may see photos on Facebook with captions telling you a story that is anything but true. You may come across a person and rush to judgment, not grasping the true situation. You may begin to react without all of the facts. Be patient. Seek the truth.