Day 17

The Sacrifices of God

from the Jesus, Keep Me Near The Cross reading plan


Lamentations 2:12-22, Psalm 51:15-19

BY Guest Writer


Text: Lamentations 2:12-22, Psalm 51:15-19

Among the many traits the girls in my family have acquired from their mama (enormously wild hair and enthusiastic thesaurus-reading not to be forgotten), is that fact that we possess some pretty sensitive souls. I mean, we feel all the feels. My mom likes to tell the story of how, at age four, I completely lost it because my dad gave me a goodnight kiss and did not equally place both his lips on top of both of my lips. I’m still reeling from the rejection. What that means in my current household, though, is that during any watching of children’s movies, insurance advertisements or yes, even game shows, my finger must be constantly poised on the remote control so I can power “off” when the offending purple minion, car accident dramatization or embarrassingly wrong Final Jeopardy response comes on screen.

Admittedly, when I read through these very dark, very sorrowful passages in Lamentations, I wish I had my finger on the remote control and could power “off.” The destruction, the groans, the torment—it is unbearable. And the author, once a matter-of-fact eyewitness, is tortured, his heart pouring out on the ground because of the devastation God has inflicted against a sinful people (Lamentations 2:11). In other words, he gives new meaning to “feeling all the feels.”

But isn’t that the point? How can we truly experience real repentance without sorrow?

God wants nothing less than broken spirits and contrite hearts when we come before Him for His forgiveness. Any ritualistic sacrifices, any well-crafted prayers, any flowery pleas for mercy—without being genuinely crushed by the true tragedy of our sins—are utterly and totally meaningless. God wants only your authentic expressions of repentance, no thesauruses required.

God doesn’t want us to just be “bummed out” by the consequences of sin in our lives and our world, He wants us to know what true, godly sorrow looks and feels like. He wants our hearts to break like His, and for us to gather up those messy hearts and bring them before Him laid bare, without pretentiously tying them up in a neat little package.

“The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart…” (Psalm 51:17).  Nothing more. Nothing less.

My remote-control strategy of parenting has backfired into sleepless nights a time or two, with those last-seen images burning into little minds and re-entering them, unfortunately, right at bedtime. I quickly learned that I had to, somehow, help my children get through the hard parts of the narrative if they were ever going to see and appreciate how the story ends. I don’t want them to miss it.

We have a Father who loves each and every one of His children enough to break our hearts, so that our own story never actually ends at all, but lives on with Him for Eternity. Even though it costs us the anguish of standing in the midst of the ugly destruction of our own sin, it cost our God far more—the sacrifice of His own precious Son. He will bring beauty from the ashes—and more than anything, He doesn’t want you to miss it.

Sarah Matheny is an ever-growing, ever-changing gal, laughing and living in the Pacific Northwest. One-time attorney, food blogger, and author, all-the-time wife and mom to three wild-eyed, spunky girly girls, she’s passionate about her family, her friends and growing in her walk with Christ as He dishes up an always unpredictable, but totally delicious life.

 

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Post Comments (112)

112 thoughts on "The Sacrifices of God"

  1. stinav96 says:

    This reminds me of how my husband is always saying that people have to "get lost" before they can get saved. It's a funny way of saying it, of course, but there is a comfort in embracing the pain and sorrow of the realization of my sin that leads to true, peaceable, godly repentance. Why I don't seek it out more, I'm not quite sure, other than it is just that…. painful. I'm still human, and I still tend to avoid pain when I can.

    The passages from today reminded me of the seriousness of sin. God does not take our sin lightly. Lack of knowledge is no excuse. Following the wrong teacher is not a pass on recognizing and confronting our sin. False teachers who do not expose "your iniquity to restore your fortunes" (Lam. 2:14) are not for us. They are against us. The Lord will carry out His purposes. He is patient with us and kind in order to lead us to repentance, but when time is up, time is up, and there will no longer be mercy for us who do not repent. I don't want to be the brunt of that wrath. Praise God for Jesus!

    On the one hand, God is not at all pleased with our flowery efforts to gain His approval and forgiveness. On the other hand, He is greatly pleased when we fall on our faces before Him and allow Him to be pleasing to Himself through us. Not my effort. HIS effort. When God does "good to Zion" and "build[s] up the walls," then He delights in the right sacrifices and burnt offerings we offer out of His work in our hearts and lives (Psalm 51:18-19). Only Jesus can satisfy the wrath of God against my great sin, and despite my great sin, God gave me Jesus. Continue to change my heart and make me mold-able, Lord.

    Have a blessed day, ladies!

    1. Meagan says:

      This confuses me a bit. I've heard other people say that too… you must "get lost" before you can "get saved," but what about children who are raised in Christian homes and accept Jesus at an early age. They haven't had time to "get lost," and isn't that our hope as parents… that we teach our children about Him so they will turn to Him early and skip all the falling and tough love that comes with that?

      For me, I was saved (as in head knowledge) at an early age, but it wasn't until my late high school years that I feel like I made the decision to give Him my life and follow Him (is that heart knowledge?). I suppose there was more recognition of my sins and my need for Him at that point, but I don't know where the point of salvation came. I knew Jesus came and died for me when I was 8. I knew that if I didn't accept Him and that gift and live my life for Him that I would die and go to hell. It's only that there wasn't much to turn away from at that point in order to follow him. I wasn't really lost in a life of sin. Sure I had it, but it wasn't suffocating me.

      So ultimately… I don't really know what exact point salvation happened nor do I feel I need to know that. All I know is it has happened, and I'm in. I'm fully committed and in it for the long-haul. My confusion mainly centers around my kids. Just because my 7 year old doesn't have a long list of sins in his past, does that mean he can't recognize sin as sin and let Jesus come into his life and save him from it?

      1. gnomie says:

        It helps me to remember that salvation is “all God”. Nothing we do as adults or children. Our growth in Him is a journey, sanctification.

      2. stinav96 says:

        Good morning, Meagan! Your spiritual journey and mine sound very similar, actually! I have an 8 year old, almost 6 year old, and a 2 year old, so I completely understand this concern. I believed in Jesus at the age of 5, and no, I didn't have a lot of big sins to turn away from. However, I'm not sure I understood at that point that, even though I "had" sin, that I was a sinner. I think my salvation journey began at that point, but I'm not sure I completely understood just how badly I needed Jesus until I realized that even though my sin was not as large and unfortunate as the sin of so many "sinners," my sin still separated me from a holy God, from the lies I told as a 5 year old, to the impure thoughts I entertained as a preteen, to the just wanting not to rock the boat and fit in a little more as a teenager and college student. Those don't seem like much in the scheme of things, but they are sin, and as long as I own them, I cannot be allowed into the presence of a holy God.

        Our 8 year old prayed to receive Jesus of his own accord two years ago. We have not pursued baptism yet, because as his main disciplers, we want to make sure he understood what his prayer for salvation meant. The goal is not simply to escape hell and go to heaven when we die. The goal is to live a holy and pleasing life to the Lord by His Spirit, being obedient to the commands to go and tell, to love one another as He loves us, to glorify Him with our lives now so that nothing on this earth is more important than His glory to us. I don't think that is a one time, light-switch-turns-on moment. It is a process, and as long as we are growing in that process, even though we are imperfect as yet, we can know we are on the road to salvation. I never understood that when I prayed to receive Jesus at the age of 5. However, I see God's hand of guidance and protection on me, guiding me to a greater understanding despite myself through my early years. Not everyone will get our great need of Jesus at the same age. For some of us, we're older. Some children are wise beyond their years and understand at a point I could never even imagine having understood.

        We try to firmly and lovingly call our children out on their sin, even though it isn't the "big" stuff of "big" sinners. We don't hold it over them, but we will from time to time ask them questions like, "Why do you need Jesus? How do you sin? Can you name any of your sins? Can you get into heaven on your own?" We want them to understand that God created them uniquely and wonderfully, but that in and of themselves, nothing good dwells in them unless they have Jesus. They are not able to follow enough rules or avoid enough wrong on their own to make them o.k. with God. Only the washing away of sin by Jesus Himself makes them acceptable to God. I was a rule follower growing up, to the point that I didn't feel like the things I did do wrong were really all that bad. We take our role as our children's disciplers very seriously (not that others don't, but I'm just telling you our journey here), and do what we can to lovingly point out the sin behind wrong actions, the attitudes of not trusting, the selfishness of the desire to control what they cannot control, etc. And we try to be very quick to say we are sorry, to admit our most obvious sins before our children, and to ask them to pray with us that God will help us not to sin in those ways anymore.

        Like gnomie said, salvation is all God. The journey of salvation He begins in our lives will not be cut short. He is in control. If He is at work in our children's lives, He will use even their limited understanding to draw them closer to Him and will not allow them to be lost if they are His. But I believe the journey is the most productive when anyone, adult or child, realizes that no matter the depth or shallow nature of our sin, we are lost and separated from God without Jesus. I know that was a long reply, but I hope it helped.

        1. Meagan says:

          Thank you! That really does help, and it makes sense. What you described is very much how we are discipling our children as well.

          My husband was raised in a different denomination than I and was saved when he was older. He made the decision to give his life to Jesus, and he definitely understood his need for God. I on the other hand responded to an alter call and most likely went because others were going. Of course I felt like I was talked into understanding and salvation at that point, and baptism soon followed. Not that I'm against alter calls or talking with a young person to make sure they understand, but like you said so well… I understood Jesus died for me so I wouldn't go to hell, but I don't think I understood how MY sin separated me and I needed Him. Like I said earlier, it wasn't until I was in high school and I was surrounded by what I viewed as "real Christians" that were my age that my heart desired that. I desired that love and fellowship they had with the Lord, and I too wanted to devote my life to Him.

          It makes sense that it's a journey… not always a one time thing. I can't really speak for others who feel it's a one time thing or feel that they were saved as a young child. Again, I've never been sure that my experience as a child was THE time for me.

          As far as my children go, we do talk to them a lot about sin… even about how God used sinful people in the Bible to serve Him and how they continued to sin even after they were following Him. I want them to know that Christians aren't perfect. I want them to know we will always struggle with sin and that's why we need a holy God who forgives us and cleanses us. We also talk a lot about what it means to live as a Christian and what that looks like.

          We talk a lot about the things you mentioned talking about with your children. My oldest is 6 and he feels he was saved last summer at VBS, but I too am not sure he fully gets it so we do talk about it a lot. I feel like he, like me, understands, but I'm not sure his heart is understanding or his head. He says he's saved and going to heaven and that's what we go with… we just discuss it more. At some point I'm sure he will ask about baptism, and we'll discuss it more at that point. I do want to be sure of their salvation because for so long I wasn't sure of my own. Thanks for your thorough response!

  2. Abby says:

    Being a visual person, this video really got to me yesterday and I think fits in line with our theme these few weeks of repentance

    http://21martyrs.com

    Hope this helps some others process the 21 martyrs but also repentance.

  3. AngelaTollefson says:

    I love how Jenn said “I don’t think there is a ‘correct’ amount of brokenness, but I believe that the evidence of brokenness is found in the fruitfulness that comes from a heart and soul that were broken by sin and brought back to life by the redeeming power of God. ” I just love that!

  4. joanne says:

    Crush my heart with my sin, Lord, that I may truly feel and appreciate Your mercy and forgiveness. Powerful message today. Wow.

  5. KendallS says:

    what would it look like for me to be “genuinely crushed by the true tragedy of my sin”?

    mulling this over and wondering if I’ve glossed over how my sin causes tragedy and how few times I’ve allowed myself to be uncomfortable as the weight of it crushes me.

    father, forgive my trite and polished prayers that are empty of true sacrifice. break my heart and humble me. amen.

  6. ~ B ~ says:

    "Even though it costs us the anguish of standing in the midst of the ugly destruction of our own sin, it cost our God far more—the sacrifice of His own precious Son. He will bring beauty from the ashes—and more than anything, He doesn’t want you to miss it."

    I really have a thing for a few particular styles of old furnishings. I love to head to a flea market or store and find a hidden piece just waiting to be taken home. I have few items from my parents and I think that the lines of farmhouse style table or a midcentury chair give me a sense of "home". Not to mention, the stories that each piece contains. I think about the families that sat around our 100 year old farm table. The meals prepared, the conversations and laughter shared, the tears. It ais s if a bit of them live on in my home. One day I found an old buffet. It's shape and design reminded me of a dresser we had growing up. One I watched my mother lovingly bring back to life. It sat beautifully in every house we lived in. I brought the buffet home determined to bring it new life too. I sanded and scraped. AND sanded and scraped. The deeper I got into it the more "bruises" and surprises I found. It was as if it sat in a garage for years, falling apart until one day someone said, "let's slap a piece of wood here, glue there and a fresh coat of paint on it and entice some sucker to buy it". Yup, I'm the sucker. But I was in love with the piece. How it made me feel. I know I know, it's just wood, but I too "feel all the feels" and it was a sight to me. I sat one day in front of it, dust everywhere from sanding, holes in it's side, with it completely bare….exposed entirely. I did not throw my stuff down, put it on the curb and walk away. It pained me more to see it's damage, but I wanted to make it new. I wanted it to be a centrical piece in our dining room. A place where we would host friends and family. One that would go to my children. So I examined it. I bought everything I would need to mend it and I went to work. Today that piece stands complete with my old farm table bringing a bright touch to a simple room. No, it's not a piece people will swoon over, offer hundreds of dollars for or not notice the way the crooked door catches….BUT I will love it. I will always smile when I see it, I will always remember it's initial state, I will take pride in it's unmasked beauty.

    I believe God sees us that way. No matter how much time we spend hiding from Him, how many bruises we have, how mistreated we feel or how much we have failed, He can strip it all away and stand back in awe of His masterpiece. Like Adam and Eve in the garden, He desires to see us as our whole selves, no fig leaf, no pride…. bare, unconcealed in front of Him. There is no amount of marring or sin around us He doesn't cover or correct. We must remember that like my buffet had layer after layer of paint, God can peel back the mess. He can scrub away our pride, our pain, our wrongdoing …. It may not be a painless process, in fact, it likely won't be, but it will leave us ready to accept the Grace God wants to adorn us with, His loving Mercy to repair and bring us back to Him, to give us a life that will light up a room for Him, one that He will look to, recall the way He found us and smile at the beauty that came from it all. ~ B

    1. Jessica says:

      Love this! Thank you!

    2. Katie says:

      I'm such a visual person – THANK YOU for your post! It resonated with me deeply.

    3. Abby says:

      Oh I love this! Thank you for sharing. I can see that it is so sweet to have a visual reminder of JESUS right there in front of your eyes every day.

  7. Jenn says:

    When I did a Bible study years ago, the truth of this message really came off the pages of my workbook. Godly sorrow brings about a change in our life, it makes us think different, act different, be different. Up until that point, I had 'sugar coated' the sins of my youth (I once was an early 20 something that was a great rule follower filled with guilt over my college weekend choices) as making me the person I was in my mid 30's. However, once I realized that even though those events and decisions helped mold me, I needed to see them as the offenses they were to an ever loving me God. When that day came, my eyes opened up to a whole new realm of reality in the way I would parent my children, doing my best to help them learn and understand God's Word so they wouldn't (hopefully) make those same mistakes. I don't think there is a 'correct' amount of brokenness, but I believe that the evidence of brokenness is found in the fruitfulness that comes from a heart and soul that were broken by sin and brought back to life by the redeeming power of God.

    1. Jenn, that was well put. I, too, struggled with that guilt after being born again. Then I gave it all to God in submission and He bathed me with the Holy Spirit. Being fruitful with the many blessings and helping others through struggles is a blessing. It sounds like you are firm in your faith and walking hand in hand with Him. Blessings.

    2. Brooke says:

      "I don't think there is a 'correct' amount of brokenness, but I believe that the evidence of brokenness is found in the fruitfulness that comes from a heart and soul that were broken by sin and brought back to life by the redeeming power of God." Beautifully said Jenn.

  8. Kelly Lynn says:

    Today’s passage scares me. Now I feel like I’ve never truly repented and God won’t hear me if I’m not broken enough. Oh man. All of the anxiety.

    1. CBear says:

      Kelly,
      I sometimes have difficulty interpreting the Word of God, but I don’t think that’s the case. God hears everything. He knows what is on your heart. I don’t think there’s a measurement for being “broken enough.” One’s repentance doesn’t need to be a well-crafted, wordy speech to Him. As the author of today’s blog entry states “God wants only your authentic expressions of repentance, no thesauruses required.” Let your repentance flow freely from your heart, showing your feelings and sorrow. I most oftentimes begin as though it’s simply a conversation between us. Listen and He’ll speak to your heart:)

    2. Brittney says:

      We all express differently. Whatever your words are or however the outward expression of your feelings look (tears or no tears) God knows what’s truly in your heart when you come to Him <3

    3. Kelly_Smith says:

      Kelly Lynn, I am not one to "feel all the feels." I don't cry easily. It is tempting for me to feel like my repentance is not good enough if I am not as outwardly broken as another. Don't allow any outward expression to be the measure of your inward repentance. Are you sorry for your sin? Do you turn, choosing the path that God has for you instead of the path your flesh desires? That, to me, is the true measure of repentance–a changed heart. John MacArthur says, "Ritual without genuine repentance is useless. However, with a right heart attitude, sacrifices were acceptable." Only you and God know your heart (and most often He knows my heart much better than I do!).

      1. Beverly says:

        Thank you for sharing this, Kelly.

    4. Lenka says:

      I think this can be a way the devil tries to bring you (us) away – instead of admitting I cannot do things (even repentance)right and looking at Christ and His cross, the devil wants us to keep looking at ourselves and keep trying, keep working. God knows we are dust, that we fail at so many things but what He wants your heart, your honesty, your trust

    5. Sarah says:

      You don't have to every single day be broken about every sin of your whole life. But when the Spirit shows you sin in your heart, be broken about that, confess it. That's what God wants. It's not a constant state of brokenness. We're forgiven, he sees the past sins no more! But when we do sin, mourn it, repent, and move on as the ashes turn to beauty. Don't be anxious, beautiful. You are good.

    6. Anna says:

      Girl. I hear you. I have laid awake nights in torment, convinced that my “inadequate” repentance was sending me straight to hell. To be fair, I’ve struggled with anxiety over “losing my salvation” or brig rejected by God for as long as I’ve been walking with Him. Repentance is a gift of the Holy Spirit and I was convinced that I had done something so bad, He was withholding it from me. No one could convince me any differently and I was in a severely unhealthy place, both mentally and spiritually. This took place off and on for almost seven years, with the latest round leading to extreme weight loss (because who can eat with that kind of anxiety?) and chest pains that landed me in the emergency room. And then…God’s grace. I found a website that talked about “Christian OCD” or “scrupulosity.” There is so much to be said about this, but I already feel as if I’ve said too much. Long story short, I started taking anti-depressants (which are certainly not for *everyone* but have been a tool used mightily of God for me) and feel like a new person. The anxiety is gone. The fear is gone. And for once I can walk with Him without thinking that anything I feel or don’t feel can separate me from His love. If your situation is anything like mine was, (or if anyone reading this can relate) I would love to explain further. Stand firm, friend! The enemy will do anything to convince you there is no hope, but God will never leave you or forsake you.

    7. Jordan says:

      Kelly Lynn, the evidence of our repentance is not found in the way we grieve our sin, but in the change of our lives. My mentor and good friend said it this way, I have had times of great sorrow over my sin that led me to repentance and times where I had little sorrow, little guilt, only the knowledge that I am wrong and I have done wrong and am still in need of forgiveness & repentance. Even that is okay, because the ACTION is still repentance and allowing Jesus to begin transforming that area of sin. Don't let Satan frighten you or make you doubt that what you're doing is inadequate. God knows the heart. It isn't about contriving or molding your personal reaction to fit what someone else's reaction may be. If it's repentance God is faithful to redeem & honor that!

    8. Kaitie B. says:

      Oh Kelly Lynn, boy do I relate!! Isn't that one of Satan's greatest messages? NOT ENOUGH. You're not broken enough. You're not good enough. You're not worth enough. God's not loving enough. God's not willing enough. God's not good enough. These are thoughts I struggle with daily and one of the biggest things that can make me doubt my salvation. Something that helps me is to think about the Trinity and how they are separate but working together.

      God- powerful, Creator, sovereign, just
      Christ- merciful, accessible, freely giving of Himself
      Holy Spirit- present, comforting, searching

      Those are just a few small examples, but you get what I'm saying. When I tend to focus too much on the God of the Old Testament, I always find myself very scared. In those moments, it helps to look to Christ of the New Testament. Read Lam 2 again, but think of all that wrath and just punishment being given to Christ instead of us.

      Kelly the fact that you're worried about not having truly repented is proof that you are truly repenting. Just keep struggling with these issues and working through them! I'm right there with you!

    9. Bek says:

      That’s the deal with grace, dear one. We can never be good or broken enough. It’s not about being right for Him but simply recognising the grace we have received from the cross :-)

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