Day 8

Obedience over Sacrifice

from the Lent 2020: His Love Endures reading plan

Jeremiah 7:1-34, Jeremiah 8:1-22, Jeremiah 9:1-26, 1 Kings 8:41-43, Luke 19:41-44

BY Guest Writer

If I had a nickel for every time my two daughters had conflict. The offense could be teasing, hitting, not sharing, or a million other things. After talking privately with each of them, I would bring the girls back together, stand them face-to-face and instruct the offender to say, “I’m sorry. It was wrong for me to __.” Occasionally, I would even ask them to hold hands, which caused them to roll their eyes at this admittedly awkward parenting strategy.

My goal was not for them to robotically repeat words or to just go through the motions to avoid punishment. As they practiced the external act of reuniting and verbally confessing their sin, my hope was that an inner posture of repentance would grow and that reconciliation would follow. My methods seemed external, yet my goal was always to shape their hearts.

Throughout the Old Testament, we see how God established specific ways for His people to relate to Him and to others. The Ten Commandments set clear parameters for God’s people. First and foremost was the non-negotiable command to avoid all idolatry: to only worship the one true God (Exodus 20:3). In addition to the Ten Commandments, God gave many other instructions detailing how to conduct civil life, participate in temple worship, and offer sacrifices.

What was the point of all these commands? Was God’s goal to create robotic rule-followers? Definitely not! God’s methods may seem external, but He was always fighting for their hearts. God’s goal was reconciliation and intimacy with His people. This is true for us today as well.

“When I brought your ancestors out of the land of Egypt,
I did not speak with them or command them concerning burnt offering and sacrifice.
However, I did give them this command: ‘Obey me, and then I will be your God,
and you will be my people. Follow every way I command you
so that it may go well with you’” (Jeremiah 7:22–23).

The God of all creation was pursuing relationship with His people—not moralistic law keeping. But they stubbornly resisted and forfeited intimacy by chasing false gods from the nations around them. They went through the motions of worshipping God in the temple, but their hearts were distant from Him. They shamelessly broke the Ten Commandments, which were actually God’s gracious blueprint for how to remain faithful, free, and flourishing.

We hear Jeremiah’s anguish as he weeps and wails over this wayward nation (Jeremiah 9:10). Over six hundred years later, we hear a similar lament from Jesus who weeps as He grieves over Jerusalem. Jesus ached for those so bent on human effort and religious duty that they could not recognize that Jesus, the Messiah, was in their midst.

Oh, if I had a nickel for every time I disobey God’s commands, for every time I trust in my external actions to validate me before God and others, for every time my heart grows cold and blind to Jesus.

Oh Lord, I confess that I’m the offender. I’m sorry. It is wrong for me to trust in my own efforts and to chase after things that deliver a mere, momentary buzz of satisfaction and security. Thank you for letting me hear that You long for more. You’ve always fought for the hearts of Your people. I’m so grateful You’re eternally, lovingly pursuing mine.

Patti Sauls lives in Nashville, Tennessee, with her husband Scott and daughters, Abby and Ellie, where they serve alongside the people of Christ Presbyterian Church. Prior to living in Nashville, the Sauls planted churches in Kansas City and Saint Louis and served at New York City’s Redeemer Presbyterian Church. A trained speech therapist, Patti also enjoys serving behind the scenes, hiking with friends, and reading good books.

Post Comments (74)

74 thoughts on "Obedience over Sacrifice"

  1. Christine Candelaria says:

    Wow! Amazing scripture. Nothing is new under the sun. How much has actually changed? Reading through Jeremiah reminds me of the world we live in today. The Children of today will suffer tomorrow. Woe to all who won’t have a change of heart to hear Gods calling.

  2. Linda King says:

    Stephanie I can relate as well. I am in a dry season as well. I am thankful for SRT.

  3. Sondra Watson says:

    Good morning from Texas… I’m praying that all SRT staff and our sisters that live in the tornado devastated areas are safe… May you see and share God’s power and love

  4. tanya b says:

    Father I look to you to show me the way, help me not lean to my own understanding but trust you. Jesus thank you for showing me the love of the father and becoming the sacrifice for us that we may experience true intimacy daily with you. Thank you Jesus for victory. This is my prayer of thanksgivings.

  5. Stephie Gray says:

    I pray that I will follow God’s blueprints and in doing so, build a relationship with Him.

  6. Sara Moore says:

    I see so many parallels between the world of Jeremiah and the world we live in today. I pray that God will help me raise my daughters to love him and that our family can be a witness to help turn our world back to the Lord.

  7. Dorothy says:

    Stephanie Ancateu, I know what you are going through I have just come out of the same type of situation. I had to decide to get back into the word and I knew from past experience that SRT was the way to do it. Our sisters in Christ through SRT are very encouraging and will pray for you. Also the devotions, Bible readings and comments I have found to be very helpful. There are so many different studies to choose from that if this Lent one isn’t doing it for you totally you might want to try another but you may not get instant feedback. Hope this helps. I’ll be praying for you. God bless you.

  8. Stephanie Ancateu says:

    Just going through a dry season – I have no hunger for the Word, no motivation to pray. I literally feel like I’m just going through the motions right now in this season. I know it’s wrong, but there is no motivation to do these things. I just find myself constantly blocking everything with YouTube or tv. And I just feel like I can’t break from it. Prayers needed!

    1. AnneLyn P says:

      Praying for you Stephanie! You are loved. You are forgiven. You are not alone. ❤️

    2. Jane K says:

      Praying Stephanie that God would soften your heart and the Holy Spirit would speak truth and peace into your life. I’ve been there too, continue to seek God and He will show up for you in big ways. Even when we don’t feel Him, He is there. Don’t give in to satan’s attempts to draw you away from the Lord. Continued prayers for you!

    3. Camille English Davis says:

      Lord send the rain to our precious Stephanie again. Let it refresh, restore, and baptize her anew. Send a wave of fresh fire Father to rekindle her spirit. Give her a hunger and thirst for more of you, more of you, more of you…

    4. Allison Bennion says:

      One thing I know for sure. Whenever I make the slightest effort to turn towards Him, He will come and meet me where I am. Maybe hear His Word through music. Turn on some worship music and let it wash over you. He knows you, He knows you are struggling and He loves you. You are loved! Just turn towards Him. Love and prayers.

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