Day 34: Exodus 34-36; Matthew 23:1-22

The culture in which I grew up was not prone to excessive gift-giving and did not have a special celebration for every day (though I must say I fancy September 29 and October 1). However, out of respect for a superior, on special occasions, one would bring a gift...a homebaked loaf of bread, a chicken, a carved cane. Our gracious God (Exodus 34:5-8) had an expectation of His forgiven children in worship: "No one is to appear before me empty-handed" (Exodus 34:20b, CSB). The least they could do is bring a sacrifice of praise.

Through the years, for too many, the sacrifices of the people became less and act of love for our gracious God and more a way to appease their consciences. To Saul, through Samuel, God speaks words that will be repeated: " obey is better than sacrifice, and to listen than the fat of rams" (1 Samuel 15:22). The truth is, God wants our surrendered hearts more than he wants our sacrifices in hand (Romans 12:1-2). Perhaps you would join me in the familiar words of the famous hymn by Augustus Toplady: "Nothing in my hand I bring, simply to Thy cross I cling" (Rock of Ages).

May the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart along with my surrendered life in loving service be a pleasing aroma, a sacrifice of praise to You, my Savior and my God.
Photo by Kostiantyn Li on Unsplash
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