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You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it; you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.

~ Psalm 51:16-17

Does the LORD delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the voice of the LORD? To obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed is better than the fat of rams. For rebellion is like the sin of divination, and arrogance like the evil of idolatry.

~ 1 Samuel 15:22-23

Has not my hand made all these things, and so they came into being?” declares the LORD. “This is the one I esteem: he who is humble and contrite in spirit, and trembles at my Word.

~ Isaiah 66:2

Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise–the fruit of lips that confess His name. And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased. Obey your leaders and submit to their authority. They keep watch over you as men who must give an account. Obey them so that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would be of no advantage to you.

~ Hebrews 13:15-17

By faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be known as the son of Pharaoh’s daughter. He chose to be mistreated along with the people of God rather than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a short time. He regarded disgrace for the sake of Christ as of greater value than the treasures of Egypt, because he was looking ahead to his reward. By faith he left Egypt, not fearing the king’s anger; he persevered because he saw Him who is invisible.

~ Hebrews 11:24-27

Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies [mind, spirit and form] as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God–this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is–His good, pleasing and perfect will.

For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you. Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts, according to the grace given us. If a man’s gift is prophesying, let him use it in proportion to his faith. If it is serving, let him serve; if it is teaching, let him teach; if it is encouraging, let him encourage; if it is contributing to the needs of others, let him give generously; if it is leadership, let him govern diligently; if it is showing mercy, let him do it cheerfully.

~ Romans 12:1-8

Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.

~ John 15:13

What is the sacrifice that God wants from us? And yes, there IS a sacrifice that is pleasing to the Lord. But consider Isaiah 1: “The multitude of your sacrifices–what are they to me?” says the LORD. “I have more than enough of burnt offerings, of rams and the fat of fattened animals; I have no pleasure in the blood of bulls and lambs and goats. When you come to appear before me, who has asked this of you, this trampling of my courts? Stop bringing meaningless offerings! Your incense is detestable to me. New Moons, Sabbaths and convocations–I cannot bear your evil assemblies. Your New Moon festivals and your appointed feasts my soul hates. They have become a burden to me; I am weary of bearing them. When you spread out your hands in prayer, I will hide my eyes from you; even if you offer many prayers, I will not listen. Your hands are full of blood; wash and make yourselves clean. Take your evil deeds out of my sight! Stop doing wrong, learn to do right! Seek justice, encourage the oppressed. Defend the cause of the fatherless, plead the case of the widow.”

Two sides to wisdom. The sacrifice and offerings that the Lord wants are NOT our physical possessions, or the life and blood of animals. And the Lord hates it when we bring these things before Him, as if these are what He has asked for.

Self-righteousness is NOT a virtue. Playing God over other people is NOT pleasing to the Lord.

Jesus said, “any of you who does not give up everything he has cannot be my disciple.” (Luke 14:33) But it’s not talking about physical things.

Jesus also said to His disciples, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.” (Matthew 16:24) He must deny himself. That means swallowing your pride. It means doing the right thing, even when you don’t feel like doing it. It means compromising for the sake of peace. It means that the world does not revolve around you, and that it is your duty to look out for your fellow man, and always consider how your choices and actions will affect not just yourselves, but also those around you.

Remember that when Cain challenged the Lord, saying, “Am I my brother’s keeper?” The answer was YES, you ARE. We ARE our brother’s keeper, every one of us. Because we are all members of the body of Christ. We’re supposed to function as ONE body, working in conjunction with all the parts, that we all might live and find salvation in Jesus.

Paul said, “If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing.” (1 Corinthians 13:3) Love means sacrificing what YOU want for the sake of someone else; for the sake of doing the right thing; for the sake of Truth and Love (and remember that Truth and Love in flesh is Christ).

Jesus made the ultimate sacrifice. And who is Jesus? The Trinity of God is not difficult to understand: It is Father, Spirit, Son.

Father: The Image (Mind) of God is Truth;
Spirit: The Likeness of God (His Desire, His Heart) is Love;
Son: God’s Form (physical body) is Jesus.

Jesus is Truth and Love in flesh, the Messiah = Jesus the Christ. Remember, Christ is not a last name, it means Messiah, which in the Old Testament was to be God Himself in flesh. Jesus is not a man, nor is He the offspring of God; He is nothing created, He is the Creator. Father Truth filled with and displaying His Spirit which is Love, made visible in God’s One and Only Physical Form, the Son, Jesus.

When we look at images of Jesus, beaten, bloodied, broken and strung up on a cross, that wasn’t just some man doing that. That was GOD. That was God Himself, taking off His immortality and living among us in a mortal body made of flesh. And He allowed that mortal, fleshly body to be killed… for us. He gave up His LIFE. And He did it willingly. At any time, He could have called down twelve legions of angels and smote every last person who had persecuted Him. But He didn’t. And He still doesn’t. He chose to die so that we might see His resurrection and believe, and be saved. His sacrifice is our salvation.

“You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it; you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.”

What does it mean to have a broken spirit and a contrite heart? It’s the opposite of self-righteousness and piety. It’s the realization that we are no better than anyone else. That we are just as sinful as our neighbour down the street, or the criminal sitting in jail. We are ALL sinners. Every one of us. No matter our age, gender, race, religion, nationality. None is better than another. The Bible says that if you hate someone in your heart, you’ve murdered them. We all sin. We’re all guilty. And we will all answer for our own actions, not for someone else’s.

It is not our place to play God over others. It is not up to us to exact revenge on those who wrong us. Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord. (Romans 12:19 and Deuteronomy 32:35). Evil begets evil, and two wrongs don’t make a right. Every time we take it upon ourselves to seek revenge, we have to sin to do it. And we end up doing nothing but hurting innocent people. How much are we willing to sacrifice? How willing are we to deny self and sacrifice our pride, our arrogance, our anger, and what we want, for the sake of others?

How far are WE willing to go? What are we willing to give up for the sake of Truth and Love? Jesus went all the way.

And what are we asked to do by comparison? 

Something to think about the next time you’re heading out in the middle of a global pandemic that’s taking the lives of the elderly, sick and infirm. No one has asked you to give up your life. Just to wear a mask. Also something to think about any time you decide that liberty grants you the freedom to do to others whatever you want; that the ends justify the means; that it’s acceptable to punish the innocent, collateral damage, in a war you’ve chosen to wage against others, taking the law into your own hands in order to get what you want…. just as if you were God over all.

You’re not.

It’s time for a reality check. Man is not God. Not yesterday, not today, and not tomorrow. Man will never be God.

Jesus is Lord, love one another. Point to Jesus, not at sin. ♥

Today’s paintings are: Cornelis Pietersz Bega’s “Saying Grace”, 1663; Ford Madox Brown’s “Jesus Washing Peter’s Feet”, 1852-56; James Tissot’s “The Confession of the Centurion”, 1886-1894; Simon Dewey’s “Living Water” (Jesus and the Samaritan Woman); Dirck van Baburen’s “Christ Crowned with Thorns”, 1621-22; Fortunino Matania’s “Goodbye Old Man”, 1916; Fortunino Matania’s “The Last Message”, 1917; and Benjamin West’s “The Incredulity of Saint Thomas”, 1790. Header image is a detail from Alonso Cano’s “The Crucifixion”, 1635-65.