This devotional takes us back to the basics of the Gospel but we begin by reading back in Leviticus.
READ: Leviticus 4:32-35. This passage covers the rules for bringing a sacrifice to the altar for an Absolution-Offering. Absolution for sin.
THINK: “Each (sacrifice) served a specific purpose for interaction with God. For example, a sin offering was given for confession, forgiveness, and cleansing. Why does God take sin so seriously? When we sin, what sort of sacrifices are we required to bring to God?”
PRAY: Ask God to help you understand the severity of your own sin. Thank God that he sent Jesus, the Lamb of God, to come and be the sacrifice for your sins.
LIVE: Knowing that God has provided the ultimate sacrifice through his Son, Jesus, consider sharing this great truth with someone today. As you drive, walk, work, and relax, whisper under your breath, “Thank you, Jesus,” each time you remember the sacrifice he made for your sins.
I wish there was something I could add to this. Honestly, I’m coming down off of a really good message at church that was the capstone for my entire last two weeks. It was breakfast Sunday, so I got there early and ate with a man that I’ve not had a chance to really talk to yet. We swapped an abridged version of our life stories and talked at length about suffering and what it has looked like in our lives. The man (I will call him “Joe”) told me about where he was in his life at the moment, and how he thanked God every day that he got a second chance at life, and did not intend to do anything to mess it up. As for me, I shared with Joe, just how I had spent my last couple of weeks and the necessity for it. Joe proceeded to tell me just to stay strong. It was a really good chance to be able to extend my two weeks of devotional time.
After that, we went into the service. Worship was phenomenal. Honestly, I cannot recall the last time I actually worshipped. And I know that, within the last year, I haven’t truly worshipped at all. I haven’t even been able to sing at the top of my voice this past year, and probably not for the past 3 years. Before that, the memory gets fuzzy. I’ve been so consumed by the drama that was our lives at the time, that I simply can’t remember what my worship life was like. However, I believe I was too concerned with how I looked in worship to actually do it. NOT TODAY!!
Don’t get me wrong, I have participated in worship every Sunday I’ve been there. However, most of the time, I was standing there saying, “I am singing to you because you deserve this. You are God and I am not.” But today was different. I was feeling worshipful. Now, I realize that worship is not about the feeling. But today, I didn’t have to try to force something that felt like a lie. I was worshiping. Praising God because He deserves to be praised and singing the words, and meaning it, and basking in it. I can’t describe it, but if you’ve felt it, I don’t have to.
Then, the preaching started. We started a new series this week on the book of James. We started at the beginning and we are going to work our way through. So, today, we read Chapter 1, verses 1-4, concentrating primarily on 2-4. Let me share:
“Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance (or steadfastness). And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.”
I wish I could share with you everything that our preacher said because it was JUST THAT GOOD. But, what was so amazing was that it was almost like he had been eavesdropping on my past two weeks and my conversation with Joe. Over the past year, he has shared many services that have hit my right where I was living, but most of the time, I’ve been sitting there, crying, trying not to keep sniffing through his entire sermon. This time, I was rejoicing. It was like God was continuing to smile down on me after having been there for me all week.
So…how do I bring this back around and tie it into today’s devotional?
I guess it all comes down to grace. God’s grace is why we are on the Earth, and God’s grace provided the first sacrifice that covered Adam and Eve’s sin. That sacrifice and every other atoning sacrifice in the Old Testament pointed to Jesus Christ, the last sacrifice that would ever need to be made for the whole of mankind’s sins. And that sacrifice made it possible for me to have the devotional time I had the last two weeks. God has always actively sought out His creation in hopes of redeeming them and bringing us back to Himself. Most of the time, we spend our lives running the other way. But when, like the prodigal son, we make our way home, even just part of the way, Our Father comes running out to us, and orders the fatted calf slain in order that He might throw us a party, in celebration that we have returned to the fold! For me, that was what worship was like today!
How could I not go out into the world and share that with people. That freedom. That relief. That grace that taught my heart to fear. The grace my fears relieved. The grace that has brought me safe thus far. And the grace that leads me home.