November 15

Proverbs 21:3, 27 (NIV) 3To do what is right and just is more acceptable to the LORD than sacrifice.

27The sacrifice of the wicked is detestable– how much more so when brought with evil intent!

God doesn't need your offering in the plate, but you need to give it! Sometimes we get the idea that if we give to God or make some kind of sacrifice, God is indebted to us. Maybe then He will overlook our sins that we refuse to forsake. The justification in our minds goes something like this: "I don't want to give up this thing that I know is wrong, so instead, I will give to the needy." Good deeds don't nullify evil ones. They don't earn you points in heaven. We are expected to do good when we are able to. That is simply the right thing to do. Not to do so is evil.

God owns everything, even the things in your temporary possession. When you sacrifice of your time or money, you are merely giving what is God's into the hands of another. That is liberating for you. It helps you stay free from enslavement to the love of money. God gave it to you so you could pass it on to those in need. It is more blessed to give than receive. God is the greatest giver. When we give we are like Him, if we give from pure motives.

Some would give expecting influence or favor in return. That is to sacrifice with evil intent. Giving should have no strings attached. It is simply a transfer in stewardship to those with a greater need.

God is not after your possessions. He is after your heart. He wants you to be increasingly conformed to His likeness. That includes giving from a pure heart of compassion for the need of others, or giving at the direction of the One you love. Samuel told Saul that to obey was better than sacrifice, and to listen to God than sacrificial ram's blood. If God has your heart, then your sacrifices come from pure motives.

Consider: Am I unconsciously putting strings on my gifts?

November 15

Hebrews 10:19-22 (NIV) 19Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, 20by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, 21and since we have a great priest over the house of God, 22let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water.

We can confidently enter the Holy of Holies in heaven, going before the presence of God Almighty, because of the blood of Jesus. His blood was the payment for all our sins. It covers every sin we commit in our entire life. We don't have to worry that we will face judgment for something we did or left undone. We come by Jesus' merit not our own.

The shadow of the heavenly Temple on earth had a curtain that one priest entered only once a year. What anticipation there was when the time came! When Jesus gave up His life on the cross, that curtain was torn from top to bottom. The author of Hebrews wrote that the real curtain is the body of Jesus. That body was torn that we might stand before God and make our requests.

Since we have such an incredibly great High Priest over the Temple of God in heaven, we are encouraged to draw near. This is the theme of Hebrews. Draw near to God. Jesus has made a way. Draw near with a sincere heart. Our guilt is gone, and our lives have been transformed by the water of the word.

The priest of old had to offer a sacrifice for himself to set aside his guilt. He had to ceremoniously wash his body before he ministered. Our sacrifice, Jesus, has already offered up Himself that our conscience may be clean. He has washed us with His word. That is the reality of those shadows in the earthly Temple. You are ready to go in through His body into the very presence of God. Draw near!

Consider: All this was done that I might go in anytime. Am I entering in to the heavenly Holy of Holies?