Obedience is better than sacrifice.

Growing with God: A daily devotional with Tonia Slimm.

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

Proverbs 21:3 (MSG)
Clean living before God and justice with our neighbors mean far more to God than religious performance.
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“To do righteousness and justice is more acceptable to the Lord than sacrifice [for wrongs repeatedly committed].” -AMPLIFIED

This proverb is Solomon’s take on a lesson that Samuel tried to teach King Saul. “But Samuel replied: “Does the LORD delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the LORD? To obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed is better than the fat of rams.” -1 Samuel 15:22 (NIV)

Never doubt the fact that sometimes God calls us to do difficult, seemingly impossible things for Him from time-to-time. Case in point: Mary the mother of Jesus. Here we have a young girl approached by one of God’s arch-angels, Gabriel, with news from the throne room of God. Mary could have very well rejected this news from God. She could have decided that what God required of her was more than she could give….but she did not. Notice her answer to the news that Gabriel had given her; “I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May your word to me be fulfilled.” Then the angel left her.” -Luke 1:38 (NIV)

To obey Adonai was Mary’s immediate response and reaction. There was no doubt in her mind. Yes, she had questions. Yes, she needed to understand “how” things could and would happen, but even though God called her to a difficult task Mary was willing to obey.

Let us not forget Joseph; who was called to an equally difficult assignment. Here we have a man who was expectantly waiting to marry the woman he loved, only to find out that she was pregnant. His first thoughts were to quietly break off the engagement, but then he too has a visit from an angel; this time it happened in a dream. The angel says to Joseph, “Joseph, son of David, don’t hesitate to get married. Mary’s pregnancy is Spirit-conceived. God’s Holy Spirit has made her pregnant. She will bring a son to birth, and when she does, you, Joseph, will name him Jesus—‘God saves’—because he will save his people from their sins.” This would bring the prophet’s embryonic sermon to full term: Watch for this—a virgin will get pregnant and bear a son; they will name him Emmanuel (Hebrew for “God is with us”).” -Matthew 1:20-21 (MSG)

Joseph’s response? We find he too was quick to obey. “When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife. But he did not consummate their marriage until she gave birth to a son. And he gave him the name Jesus.” -Matthew 1:24-25 (NIV)

“To do what is right and good and fair is more pleasing to the Lord than gifts given on the altar in worship.” (NLV) Matthew Henry gives us some very strong words on this verse. “It is implied that many deceive themselves with a conceit that, if they offer sacrifice, that will excuse them from doing justice, and procure them a dispensation for their unrighteousness; and this makes their way seem right, Proverbs 21:2. We have fasted, Isaiah 58:3. I have peace-offerings with me, Proverbs 7:14. 2. It is plainly declared that living a good life (doing justly and loving mercy) is more pleasing to God than the most pompous and expensive instances of devotion.” (Complete Commentary on the Bible)

The old adage, “It is often easier to ask for forgiveness than to ask for permission.” falls flat when it comes to obeying what God has called us to do. God is calling His children to step out in obedience and do great things for Him. We may not know what the outcome will be, (neither Mary nor Joseph did) but God is expecting us to be obedient to His bidding.

Please remember this truth that Paul gave us when making decisions: “Therefore we do not become discouraged [spiritless, disappointed, or afraid]. Though our outer self is [progressively] wasting away, yet our inner self is being [progressively] renewed day by day. For our momentary, light distress [this passing trouble] is producing for us an eternal weight of glory [a fullness] beyond all measure [surpassing all comparisons, a transcendent splendor and an endless blessedness]! So we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are unseen; for the things which are visible are temporal [just brief and fleeting], but the things which are invisible are everlasting and imperishable.” -2 Corinthians 4:16-18 (MSG)

My Prayer:

Lord, my desire is to be obedient to you in everything that you have called me to do. Sometimes the tasks seem larger than life and I am often faced with fear. Remind me that obedience is better than sacrifice. Help me to trust that if you have called me you will equip me. Help me to remember that nothing is impossible with you. If you have called me you are certainly able to bring it to pass. Lord, I will trust you and be obedient to your bidding. Here am I, Lord, use me.

We are God handiwork; made to be used by Him.

Ephesians 2:10 (NIV)
For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

Ephesians 2:10 (MSG)
No, we neither make nor save ourselves. God does both the making and saving. He creates each of us by Christ Jesus to join him in the work he does, the good work he has gotten ready for us to do, work we had better be doing.
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“For we are His workmanship [His own master work, a work of art], created in Christ Jesus [reborn from above—spiritually transformed, renewed, ready to be used] for good works, which God prepared [for us] beforehand [taking paths which He set], so that we would walk in them [living the good life which He prearranged and made ready for us].” -AMPLIFIED

Made for a purpose! This is a truth that will not change; God has a plan for each of our lives. We were created for His aspirations and objectives; number one being to bring praise and glory to His Name. Whether we choose to be obedient is the question that we must answer for ourselves.

Each of us was formed personally by a loving, caring God. Each, a work of art, a master piece, if you will, intended for good things. God did the creating; we were His labor of love. In fact, man was the only thing within creation that God took a hands on approach with; everything else He just spoke the word and it happened. With man, God took the time to form from the dust of the earth and then to breathe into him the Breath of Life. We are because God made us; we are His.

Since we have been created by God we know that we have a purpose in this life. God has plans for each of us. “For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Eternal, “plans for peace, not evil, to give you a future and hope—never forget that.” -Jeremiah 29:11 (Voice)

We were formed for God’s glory, to give Him glory. The book of Isaiah shares this word from the Lord, “I will say to the north, ‘Give them up!’ and to the south, ‘Do not hold them back.’ Bring my sons from afar and my daughters from the ends of the earth—everyone who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory,
whom I formed and made.” -Isaiah 43:6-7 (NIV)

We were created to give praise and honor to the Almighty. The Psalmist knew this and pointed said, “O Lord, all the peoples of earth—every nation You established—will come to You, bowing low to worship, and rightly honor Your great name. For You are great, and Your works are wondrous; You are the one True God.” -Psalm 86:9-10 (Voice)

Paul informs the Ephesians that we have been created to do good works. Works that have been prepared, in advance, for us to accomplish. Can you see the fact that God has a purpose and intention for each of us in the great master plan? God poured into each of us His very best, so that we would be capable to give our very best to bring glory, honor and praise to Him.

David said, “I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.” -Psalm 139:14 (NIV)

Mind you, we are not saved by our good works, but to do good works to bring glory to God. We are saved by grace. Salvation is a gift of God, so that no man can boast that they saved them self. Created by God to do good works for God. The question of the day then is; are we living up to our full potential?

My Prayer:
Lord, I was created by you to bring glory to you. Sometimes though I know I am not reaching my full potential. I do not always do my best for you. Forgive me please. You gave all for me; I want to give all for you. You made me for a purpose; please give me wisdom to fulfill that purpose. Allow your Holy Spirit to open my eyes and my heart to see the opportunities that you place in my path to bring glory to your Name. I want to be pleasing in your sight; I want to accomplish what I was created to do. Here I am Lord, use me.

Have we surrendered all to Jesus; as the living sacrifice that we should be?

Romans 12:1-2 (NIV)
Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform 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.

Romans 12:1-2 (MSG)
So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.
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“Therefore I urge you, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies [dedicating all of yourselves, set apart] as a living sacrifice, holy and well-pleasing to God, which is your rational (logical, intelligent) act of worship. And do not be conformed to this world [any longer with its superficial values and customs], but be transformed and progressively changed [as you mature spiritually] by the renewing of your mind [focusing on godly values and ethical attitudes], so that you may prove [for yourselves] what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect [in His plan and purpose for you].” -AMPLIFIED

Paul’s words to the Romans were for them to consider their bodies and their everyday lives as a living sacrifice to God. They were to dedicate or commit to God their very beings; all of themselves. Body, soul and spirit were to be a living and holy sacrifice to God; which is a proper form of worship.

“There is actually only one thing you can dedicate to God, and that is your right to yourself. If you will give God your right to yourself, He will make a holy experiment out of you— and His experiments always succeed. The one true mark of a saint of God is the inner creativity that flows from being totally surrendered to Jesus Christ. In the life of a saint there is this amazing Well, which is a continual Source of original life. The Spirit of God is a Well of water springing up perpetually fresh. A saint realizes that it is God who engineers his circumstances; consequently there are no complaints, only unrestrained surrender to Jesus. Never try to make your experience a principle for others, but allow God to be as creative and original with others as He is with you.” -Oswald Chambers (My Utmost for His Highest)

Paul encourages the Romans to NOT conform to the ways of this World, but to be transformed. This word transformed in Greek is actually “metamorphoo”; it has the meaning of changing into another form and is the term from which we get our word metamorphosis. Metamorphoo illustrates the process by which one is changed from the inside out. It is a changing which has begun on the inside and continues to transform the individual until everyone can see and notice the difference from the outside too.

Paul tells us that the whole process begins with the renewing of the mind; a mental readjustment. God changes the way we think about things; which in turn changes the way we go about doing things. He also changes our priorities in life. Much of this happens when we immerse ourselves in His Word, as we learn it and study it; it becomes part of us and changes us.

The surrender of one’s will to Jesus is necessary and the prerequisite to living a life of joy and victory; it will be the very turning point. Many people hold back on yielding completely to God because they fear what He may require of them. If we would stop and consider what God has done for us there should be no quandary; this is our reasonable and proper form of service to our King. Our response should be to Him, “Lord, I surrender all to you!”

My Prayer:

Lord, my Father, Creator and King, all that I am is because of you. You loved me enough to rescue me from the very death throes of sin itself. You came yourself to be the sacrificial lamb to pay the price for my sin. You gave all so that I might have eternal life with you. How could I give anything less than my all for you? I give to you all of me as a sacrifice to be used by you. Have your way in and through me; let me be a sacrifice that is pleasing to you, Oh Lord.