May 30, 2016

Proverbs 15:8 The Lord detests the sacrifice of the wicked,
but the prayer of the upright pleases him.

Right here we have a clear put-down of the practice of “indulgences” that triggered the Protestant Reformation. If a person’s heart is not right before God, then no motions they might go through would be pleasing to Him. How much more absurd is it to think He could be bribed! We forget that God is never at a loss about anything. Materially, He created everything, so there is literally nothing we could offer to Him that He didn’t create in the first place. In terms of acts of service, we owe it all to Him anyway, so what’s the big deal? Even Jesus dismissed that idea. “So you also, when you have done everything you were told to do, should say, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done our duty.’” (Luke 17:10) That seems harsh to us only because we are all too comfortable with various forms of bribery, and we don’t like it when bribery doesn’t work. God sees through to our motives, and He delights in those whose hearts are committed to Him. The weakest, most un-influential person actually has as much to offer God as the most wealthy ruler: their heart, their devotion. I will never forget something that happened when I was 10 years old. We were in the US that year, and attended a pretty large church. One of the influential board members dropped dead of a heart attack. There was a man with cerebral palsy who volunteered as a greeter every Sunday, whose name was John (I never knew his family name). He went to the pastor (whose name was also John) crying, saying “Why couldn’t I have been the one taken? I can’t do anything for the Lord, and he could do so much.” The next Sunday the pastor reported that to the congregation, and said, very rightly, I feel, that John the greeter did far more in God’s eyes than most of the people in the church, because his heart was totally given to God, and he did all he could. I still can’t remember that without tearing up.

I thank God for that experience and memory, because it burned into my heart the truth of this verse. My life hasn’t been so accomplishful that the world would take notice, but I do seek to love and serve my Lord, and He is the judge of how well I do that. To go back to what Jesus said, I don’t know how well I have even done my duty. However, I know that my Lord is incredibly merciful and gracious, and I cast myself on Him. Right now it looks like the Lord is opening up some real possibilities for this church. I must not let myself be consumed by all the activities to the point that I lose my simple devotion to my Lord. No activity, no achievement, is as pleasing to God as childlike faith and obedience. I am not to draw back from anything the Lord leads me into, but loving Him must come ahead of doing things for Him.

Father, thank You for this very timely Word. Some people’s minds were blown yesterday when they learned what You might be opening up to us. Help us all look to You in faith and trust, not depending on any human instrument but knowing that nothing is impossible for You. May we flow perfectly with Your Spirit to do Your will, so that Your Name may be hallowed and Your kingdom come to this city, for Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!

About jgarrott

Born and raised in Japan of missionary parents. Have been here as an adult missionary since 1981.
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