I am not a fan of blueberries. I will admit that if there’s a fruit salad, I’ll try my best to not grab too many blueberries with the serving spoon. I pick out the bits and pieces that I like and leave the blueberries for those who like blueberries, or for those who happen to approach the bowl after I took all the good stuff. Sometimes that means someone gets stuck with a lot of blueberries.
The problem with picking out the bits and pieces is you then do not get all of the benefits of the fruit salad. In the same way, we cannot pick out bits and pieces of God’s Word and think that is enough. Too often people want to select particular passages, certain beliefs, only some things to live by, only certainly things to follow, and leave the rest. Everyone loves grace. Everyone loves blessings. But God’s Word speaks of things like obedience, humility, sacrifice, loving those who hate you, and judgment.
If you are opening your Bible only looking for bits and pieces of what works for you, I pray that you will come to see that the Bible is not a bag of trail mix where you pick out what you like. God’s Word, every single word of the Bible, is amazing. Let us be grateful for each bit, each piece, every single word. Psalm 63 is one of my favorite. Read it right now and pray for that thirst of which the Psalmist speaks.
“One final word of counsel, friends. Keep a sharp eye out for those who take bits and pieces of the teaching that you learned and then use them to make trouble. Give these people a wide berth. They have no intention of living for our Master Christ. They’re only in this for what they can get out of it, and aren’t above using pious sweet talk to dupe unsuspecting innocents.” – Romans 16:17-18 [MSG]
I’ve been to many banquets over the years; each one is a great celebration. In today’s verse, it speaks about “a banquet of praise.” The NIV says, “Sacrifice thank offerings to God.”
Now today we do not sacrifice thank offerings like they once did; however, we still should offer praise to God. He alone deserves praise. In verse 15, God says, “Call on me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you will honor me.” Call on Him. He will help. We will honor Him. It seems so simple but yet it gets neglected again and again.
We can never praise God enough. We can never offer Him enough thanks for what He has done for us, what He has given us. When I think of spreading out a banquet feast, I think of the big table of food at a wedding celebration or birthday dinner. I think of a Christmas family dinner or a picnic spread on a beautiful summer day. Those feasts we give a lot to make happen. We prepare. We spend. We plan. We pour a lot out for those banquets. A banquet is elaborate. A banquet is large. So when we think of a banquet of praise, it should never be only a “thank you for my food” before your meal and nothing more for the rest of the day. Imagine tomorrow morning, waking up and only having what you thanked God for today. Wow! There’s so much more to be thankful for, so much more opportunity to praise Him. Start spreading out that banquet. Honor Him.
“Spread for me a banquet of praise,
serve High God a feast of kept promises,
And call for help when you’re in trouble—
I’ll help you, and you’ll honor me.”
-Psalm 50:14-15 [MSG]
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]
The word “full” means complete. Being full means you lack nothing. The Psalmist wrote that the “full ransom” was paid. The complete ransom. There is nothing that could be added because it lacks nothing. It is finished. That’s what Jesus said at the cross. It is finished.
Not everyone can wrap their minds (and hearts) around this statement. Some people feel that their sins are so bad that they need to do more to “fix” the situation. They still are dirty. They still aren’t fully paid up. The ransom has been paid—the full price. Jesus paid the penalty for each one of us, each one of our sins, no matter how bad or how big you think they are compared to others. He paid for all.
Embrace this completeness. Accept that it is finished. Move forward with a different attitude. You are forgiven. You are loved. You are free. The price has been paid. Now move forward. Don’t let the devil keep you down when Jesus has already provided the victory.
“He has paid a full ransom for his people. He has guaranteed his covenant with them forever. What a holy, awe-inspiring name he has!” – Psalm 111:9 [NLT]
There are many people who go to church weekly because it is the thing to do in life. You are supposed to go make your grand appearance each week. Some people believe that going each week means that they are saved. They are making the sacrifice of their Sunday morning. They have done their deed for the week. Some believe if they give to the church they are secure. If they tithe each week, they are good to go and need not worry about anything else.
Today’s passage states that God is pleased more so when we do what is right and just. When we live focused on righteousness and justice at the forefront, the sacrifices will be offered, but the heart will be very different. When you desire to do what is right and just because you love the Lord, the sacrifices mean something. They come from the heart. If you are only tithing because it’s something you are supposed to do, but you fail to even attempt to do what is right and just, what are you really trying to do? It could be seen as trying to buy you security. But you cannot buy security. Security only comes through Jesus.
God is pleased when we do what is right and just. God loves when we walk with righteousness and justice. It is how He created things to be in this world. Doing this is a much better thing than sacrifices. The sacrifices will come but the sacrifices are only true sacrifices when they are coming from a heart for God. If you have a heart for God, you would want to do what is right and just. He would always be your focus and righteousness and justice would always matter.
“The LORD is more pleased when we do what is right and just than when we offer him sacrifices.” – Proverbs 21:3 [NLT]
We can all be a little self-centered. We can all get lazy due to over-exhaustion. There are moments when we do not feel like doing something. Today’s passage tells us not to without good from someone who deserves it. If it is in our power to help a person who deserves something, we are not to withhold it. But is that always the case? Do we always provide good help to others? Are we always there for others?
When it is time to collect for a food drive, do we go out and buy things that we eat or do we get something that we would never consume? I’ve seen some disgusting things in the collection box. When we are donating clothing, do we donate clothing that is usable or things that should be tossed in the trash? There are moments in our lives when we are able to do so much more, when it is in our power to do so much, but we only give a little.
Today let us consider where we are withholding good. Where can we help more? Where can we do more? Do not withhold good from those who deserve it. It’s in your power to help them. It’s your choice.
“Do not withhold good from those who deserve it when it’s in your power to help them.” – Proverbs 3:27 [NLT]
When David was looking to buy a location to have an altar to offer burnt offerings to the Lord, Araunah was going to give him the place. David refused the offer. He insisted on buying it. Not only did he insist on buying it, but 1 Chronicles 21:24 said he wanted to pay the “full price.” He did not want to offer to the Lord something that cost “nothing.”
When we offer something to God, does it cost us something? Is it something we give out of our surplus? Is it something just sitting around collecting dust or is it something that matters to us? Is it a sacrifice to us or something that never would have caught our attention? David could have had the land for free but what would it then have meant to David?
At what cost do you sacrifice to the Lord? Do you pay “full price” or do you give little? This question is not only about money. Time. Use of talents. Recreation. Family. 1The list goes on and on. So what is your cost?
“But the king replied to Araunah, ‘No, I insist on buying it, for I will not present burnt offerings to the LORD my God that have cost me nothing.’ So David paid him fifty pieces of silver for the threshing floor and the oxen.” – 2 Samuel 24:24 [NLT]